Saturday, July 09, 2011

She's done it again, but she has to stop (temporarily)!

The fabulous Gator and I are moving into a condo across town on July 22 and we have nothing yet packed. And I mean nothing. In fact, the house is in such disarray that the mere notion of straightening and cleaning before I can pack it makes my shudder uncontrollably. What have I been doing that the house has fallen down around me? Well, as you can see, I've been designing a little bit for the last month or so. But now that's coming to a temporary stopping point because... you guessed it:

Pattern available in the sidebar!

Yes, this is it, the bag that started it all! And it's finally done, done, done! I love this bag with such wild abandon that I get giddy at the mere thought of leaving the house with it slung across my shoulder. This may be because I am a bona fide dork. But the bag is pretty awesome. :)

The construction of the Messenger Tote is a little more involved than the Backpack, but I hope the pattern directions are clear. I certainly spent a long time editing in an effort to make everything as clear as possible. My next project is to put together a photo tutorial of the general Spring Petals creation process. All that front-loop-only, free-back-loops rigamarole. I've had some really great questions from crocheters who are trying out the Backpack and the Dragon Egg that are going to be incredibly useful when putting together the tutorial. But, unfortunately, the tutorial will have to wait for a few weeks. Oh yes, all that packing and moving and unpacking. Yeah, that.

The funny thing is that we've lived in this condo before, when we lived with Gator's folks while we both went back to school at the same time (awesome idea, btw, everyone should try it! Um, yeah...). They've since bought another house and moved in, so we're going back and will have the condo all to ourselves. It's going to work out great all around, but moving is never, ever fun.

Darn it, now that I've written this post there's really nothing for me to do but start. I think I'll start in the yarn storage room, which is a complete disaster again... Hee!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Dragon Egg

I'm just going to town making things with this stitch -- and I'm not done yet! The latest iteration is a smaller version of the Spring Petals Backpack with a simple drawstring closure that not only can be made as a cute little wristlet (and totally girly-ed up in the right colorway) but can be geeked out into a way cool dice bag!

The dice bag was really the inspiration for this one. Gator and I have been big fans of A Game of Thrones (and the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series) since they first came out. Since Gator called the Spring Petals Backpack the "Easter Egg", and since the petals resemble dragon scales, and since dragon eggs figure prominently in A Game of Thrones, and since Gator is a big ol' gamer from way back... Well, you see how we got here. Dragon Egg dice bag it is!

The pattern is available in the Patterns! section, as always. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spring Petals Backpack (aka The Little Sister Bag)


If you don't know or don't remember (or, possibly, don't care), I started designing a crocheted bag many moons ago. When I couldn't decide what kind of handle to put on it, I allowed myself to be distracted by many smaller projects and by designing a similar, yet different, bag altogether. The original bag is still not complete but the one I've been calling the Little Sister bag is finished, written up, photographed, renamed, PDF'd and uploaded for your crafting enjoyment. :D

It's now known as the Spring Petals Backpack and has a permanent home in the Patterns! section. I think it's happy and cheerful and ready to make your summer even sunnier!

Oh, and it has a Ravelry button!
Please note: This pattern is offered as a Beta version – it has not been test-crocheted. I have done my best to be clear and accurate, but you know how it is. Please let me know if you find any problems with this pattern!


Monday, May 16, 2011

Lest you think that last post was some sort of April Fool's...

No, I'm not dead. Again.

I just can't seem to keep up the momentum of the regular blogger. I don't know why. Heck, I can't even seem to keep up the momentum of the regular blog reader. So many of you have such lovely blogs, and they are accumulating nicely in my feed reader, and I will get to them, I will, but man, lately I have just not been into the blogosphere. No explanation; just not feeling it. It's not you; it's me.

But now I poke out my wee noggin to let you know that I am alive and well and relatively busy. Also, I figured I'd update you on my progress on my New Year's resolutions. In a word -- FAIL. Well, except for the golf cart thing. WIN in that category. So, hey, it's not all bad. :)

But, rather unsurprisingly I suppose, I'm not any stronger. In any respect. I have a detailed plan for getting stronger. It's sitting on the table next to the television. Where it's been since January. I still have seven months, right? Hope springs eternal around here.

You know, I really thought the one thing I would be able to do with no problem would be crafting completely selfishly. I mean, if you know me, then you know selfishness is one of my biggest foibles. Well, enter foible number two: Love of praise. Giving beautiful, handmade things away makes people say nice things about you. Apparently I want that more than I want the stuff. Egads, I'm a selfish, needy egomaniac -- but at least I'm a self-aware selfish, needy egomaniac, right? ::facepalm::

So let's skip straight to the show-and-tell, shall we?

I made two more bunny nuggets for birthday pressies:

Then I moved on to making lace bookmarks. Gator claimed the purple one for his own.

Undercover bookmarker by Kathryn White
Size 10 crochet cotton / size US8 steel hook

This one went to Gator's grandmother for Mother's Day:

Fan Bookmark by Crochetroo
Size 10 crochet cotton / size US8 steel hook

Since then I've been making a variety to sell at the church festival this fall:

Icicle Bookmark by Priscilla Hewitt
Size 10 crochet cotton / size US8 steel hook

Fancy Filigree Bookmark by Cheri Mancini
Size 10 crochet cotton / the little hook that comes with Frost 'n Tip hair highlighting (I'm not kidding -- it's about a size US7 steel crochet hook. Handy!)

In the middle of all of that, I learned to tie prayer ropes. It's tricky, but once you get into the groove, time kind of flies right by. I used red and black acrylic microfiber yarn for the first one because I thought it would slide more and make it easier to tie the knots. I was wrong. I'm not a huge fan of that one, but Gator is. Then I made the green and blue one from wool. I was a bit surprised that it was easier to work with. I also like it better without the tassel.

They are commonly all black, but I'm not ready for that level of difficulty. Using two colors really helps keep the strands organized. I especially like that the green and blue knots look like little Earths. :)

I read and viewed several tutorials, but the one I found most helpful was this one:

Yes, the green and blue one is for me. Selfish crafting FTW!!

Friday, April 01, 2011

The giant necklace revisited

Remember when I was thinking about handles for The Purse and I tried a worsted weight cotton version of OlgaJazzy's Cable Braided Necklace? I decided it wasn't the right handle for The Purse for several reasons, one of which was that I didn't really want to mix crochet and knitting on this particular project. Which got me thinking if this braided cable technique would work at all in crochet. One thing that works so well in the knitted version is that stockinette stitch naturally rolls up. Crochet doesn't do that, so I had some doubts. Finally I decided to just bite the bullet and try it out.

I think the final product has more of a rustic look than the original elegant braid, but I think it definitely has uses.

I was afraid using all single crochets would make the fabric too firm and perhaps not "braid" well, but I was also afraid that double crochets would be a little too floopy (it's a technical term) and irregular. So I went the Goldilocks route and used all half double crochet. I'm now thinking I'd like to try a swatch in single crochet after all.

Here's the other side, btw:

Here's what I did (US crochet terms):

Strip (make 2):
Chain 11.
Row 1: Hdc in third chain from hook and in each ch across (9 hdc).
Row 2: Ch 2 (does not count as first hdc), turn. Hdc in each st (9 hdc).
Rows 3-8: Repeat row 2.
Row 9: Ch2, turn. Hdc in first four st, ch 1, skip next st, hdc in last four st.
Row 10: Ch2, turn. Hdc in first four st, hdc in ch-1 space, hdc in last four st.
Row 11-13: Repeat row 2.
Repeat rows 9-13 as many times as needed for desired length*. End with row 13. Fasten off.

The assembly is just like OlgaJazzy's knitted version, but you do have to curl (or roll up) the strips before pulling them through the holes. It's a little more work to get everything to lay just right, but I think it works just fine.

*In my swatch, the strips were 17" each and the assembled braid was 15". To extrapolate that to any length your little heart desires, enter the wonderful world of ratios!! For example, if I want a 24" bag handle, I construct the following ratio:

15/17 = 24/x (or, 15 is to 17, as 24 is to ?)
Now, cross multiply (you do remember how to cross multiply, don't you?)
24*17/15 = 27.2
So I would make strips a little over 27" each to make a 24" strap.
Your mileage may vary, so always do your own swatch!

And that's all there is to it!

Except I still haven't finished The Purse. Although, I did start and have almost completed The Purse's Little Sister (all but the strap, or course! Bwahahaha! I have so many issues), which may make her appearance here first.

If I can ever stop making Bunny Nuggets, that is...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Beauty and wonder


So, it's like this: I felt like crap for about a week, which caused me to get really behind, and I'm suddenly crazy busy, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm imperfect. Like you care.

This, however, is perfect.

(Click to embiggen)

via XKCD

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Work in progress

My file host was hacked. That's what started it all. I'd been storing my graphics and pattern PDFs on FileDen (which I'm not even going to link to) and then they all just disappeared. And when I went to login and figure out what was wrong, Google kind of freaked out and wouldn't even let me open the site because, they said, bad things were afoot.

So I researched a new file hosting service. A somewhat daunting task in the morass that is the innerwebs. Many hours later, I settled on Fileave and am pleased so far. But since I was uploading all this stuff again, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to freshen up the little sidebar headers and update my pattern PDFs (they still had my geocities site URL on them). And then, since I was doing all of this, I decided that the sidebar list of free patterns should have pictures of the items right there by the link because... Well, because they just should. And then, I thought, that's going to make the sidebar really long and cluttered and I should just have another sidebar. And then I realized that the last time I had hand-coded HTML from scratch was about 2000 and I'm not 100% sure about cascading style sheets and not 20% sure about XML. Which is what this template uses.

I almost just scrapped this design for something else entirely, but I like my little ladybugs and grassy things and my retro mod girl font! So I'm going to work with it. A little (read: a lot) of trial and error and I got me a third column. Of course, now the blog is wider than the header graphic, but as the title of this post suggests -- quite blatantly, even -- the evolution shall continue. But for now, it's good enough to upload and go with for awhile.

So that's what I've been up to.

Since the title of this post is also perfect for a little show-and-tell, I'm going to whip out some photos of WIPs I haven't shown you yet. I started these during my anniversary week of vacation back in January, and they've pretty much sat in this state ever since then. They'll get picked up again, but for now they're just happily hangin' out.

First up is the Mist Stole, which I think is quite delicious in this rich plum color.

It's not going to look as super awesome as it truly is until after it's blocked. Which gets me thinking that I should totally invest in some blocking wires. Which, in turn, makes me think I should ask you all, my darling blog buddies, do you use blocking wires? Do you have opinions and preferences and anecdotes that you would share? I would be ever so grateful!

Next up is a WIP that is actually a WIP from waaaay back that I never told you about because... Well, because I kind of forgot about it. Hee! So, have you ever made a ton of granny squares because you thought you'd make this giant, elaborate all-tiny-granny-squares blanket, only then they stopped making the yarn you were using and you didn't have enough to finish, so you put all the squares in plastic bags and stuffed them in the bottom of your stash because you figured some day you'd either a) magically find more of the yarn that was no longer being produced, or b) just kinda figure something out? No? Just me then? Figures.

I've had over 150 of these little darlings crammed in the bottom of a Rubbermaid tote for about seven or eight years. My original plan was going to call for over 500 of them. I was using Red Heart Jeweltones, a kind of shimmery yarn, in a lovely jewel-y blue and a complimentary ombre. And matching that shimmer with another yarn was just not happening for me. During my last stash reorganization, I pulled them out and demanded myself to just do something with them. So I've taken the road of least resistance. I bought some Caron One Pound in light blue to make the rest of the squares and I'm joining them all with some Caron white using the flat braid join, which I'd totally forgotten that I lurve. Here it is so far:

What you can't tell from the picture is that it's going to be big. Yeah, baby. This is no little throw. This is a man-sized blanket. In charming pastels. Hehe. And it's all mine, kids. Do you know that the last time I made an afghan to keep was before 1999? I think it's time. Of course, it may be 2012 before it's done, but that's something else entirely.

Now I'm off to design... crab salad!

Huh? Oh my, she's cooking. From her imagination. Somebody help us all!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Experiments with a giant necklace

The crud seems to have creeped away for the most part -- thank you for all your kind words and well-wishes! We're feeling much better around here today!

I still didn't feel like picking up any of my WIPs, though, because Bertram the British Bunny nugget kind of got me excited about small, inconsequential projects to break up the large projects that require a lot of thought.

But the large projects that require a lot of thought keep creeping into my brain, so I tried to just take a small detour. The purse I'm working on is turning into more of a tote, and I'm soon going to have to figure out what type of handles will work best. I've had several ideas that I like in general, but they tend to have annoying problems that I can't figure out how to solve. So the thoughts continue to percolate.

In what I thought was unrelated news, I've lately become slightly obsessed with Olgajazzy's Cable Braided Necklace.

photo from Olgajazzy

I have a completely unrelated project idea related to this super awesome faux braid technique, but I started to wonder what it would be like if made from worsted weight cotton. Maybe this would be a good design for some bag handles at some point!

So I tried it out this evening. I made two strips of different colors. I made the strips only six holes long -- this is just a swatch. My immediate thought was that it might be cool looking, but would probably still be too small for a comfortable bag handle, even in the heavier yarn.

As I started the really fun process of pulling the strips through one another (Olgajazzy has great pics of the process in her blog post; I shan't duplicate) it quickly became apparent that I will totally be using this technique for bag handles at some point. First of all, this just looks awesome:

Bear in mind that this was a quickly-done swatch -- the pull-throughs aren't very even, but that can easily be addressed. Isn't it cool? I love the way it looks in complementary colors. And here's the best part:

Great size for bag handles! And it's all rounded and cushy -- it feels good in my hand. Yet with nice, flat ends that are easy to sew onto another surface! Necklace, schmecklace -- I've found the true calling of this fabulous technique! I'm not convinced it's the best handle for The Purse, but this will show up sooner than later, I promise!

Now I might be ready to dive back into the big projects! Geronimo!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Just don't dip them in hot mustard sauce!

What do you do when you're hunkered down at home, feeling poorly and can't focus on any one thing for very long? Make a bunny nugget!

I was zoning out this morning, reading some of my blog feeds, and I came upon a post by KPiep about having a knitting dream. The dream culminated in a burning desire to make bunny nuggets. Huh? Bunny nuggets? So I followed the link to Ravelry and lo and behold bunny nuggets are just about the cutest little things ever. And I will say, once again, that cute can only be good. KPiep mentioned that her husband desperately wanted one for his desk at work, so I decided to ask Gator if he was at all interested in having a bunny nugget of his own. Oh my.

I don't know what it is, but apparently men freaking love bunny nuggets (p < 0.05, n=2).

So Gator picks his yarn and he gets his nugget. And I do agree that it's pretty cute-as-can-be. In a manly way, of course.

I particularly like how is tail is almost as big as the rest of him. Hehe.

Bunny Nuggets by Rebecca Danger
Red Heart Super Save Flecks and size US6 dpns
Now it may be nap time again. What have y'all been doing this weekend?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Best laid plans, or The creeping crud

I had plans this weekend, kids.

Not Disneyworld or anything, but plans. Go here, do this, accomplish that.

Then Gator got sick.

Not health scare sick, just a stop-you-in-your-tracks head/chest cold of general misery.

And now I'm getting it. Argh. Grrr.

I guess this calls for tea, soup, and OTC cold drugs. Lots of those.

And Lego Harry Potter. ;)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gadgets and widgets and things, oh my!

A little while ago, Sandy asked about the little progress bars I have in the sidebar. It's quite a nifty little blog widget that I found via Cogknition a few years ago and I must say that I really enjoy it. If the bar represents a pattern found on Ravelry, I add the project button underneath for added flair. There are two different progress bar scripts available on the Ravelry Goodies page, one of which includes a photo of the item in progress. Plus they have a few other goodies that you can grab for your blog (including how to grab those project buttons).

Coincidentally, I've been looking at other blog widgets and add-ons recently because I've been thinking of re-vamping the ol' blog. While I am still really happy with the cheery ladybug theme, I've come to think that a three column blog would really suit me better. I may just adjust this layout for three columns, or it may be time to venture into a different look altogether. I'm not sure; the idea is still percolating in me wee noggin. If I do make any changes, I'll let you know -- I know from experience that if you follow in a feedreader I could strip this puppy down to nothin' and you'd never know. :)

But since I am turning some ideas over, I've been trolling the innerwebs for some additional widget-y goodness. And since I'm on Blogger, some things have to be "Bloggerized" -- a process I leave to the "experts" (read: anyone who has any idea why things on Blogger must be just so, because I really haven't a clue -- I learned HTML in 1997 and my skills are stuck back there). I like mintBlogger's list of add-ons because it is pretty boring and sane. I'm really not looking for a bunch of random stuff that, in my mind, is the equivalent of making words flash and play music unbidden just because you can. And there's a lot of that out there. Never mind that I have cute yet useless things like a Yahoo Avatar and a little Fish Pond (have you fed them???) in my own sidebar as we speak. But I do like the idea of having a button that would translate my whole page into another language. I think that would be pretty cool. And I'm interested in doing something useful in the comments realm, but I'm not sure what yet. And maybe some other stuff.

But for now, I'm just dreaming and going back to working on The Purse. So I'll ask the rest of you: What are your favorite knitty/crafty or bloggy widgets?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Makes you stronger

Hmmm. Designing is hard.

Not like OMG, I can't do this; it's waaaay too difficult, but it is very time consuming and there's a lot of trial and error and ripping out and starting over. And thinking you've finally got all the kinks worked out and then there's just this one thing that doesn't really become apparent until you're well into the project but it just will not do and so you have to rip it all out and start over again. That kind of hard.

And that's why designers of free crocheted purse patterns get paid the big bucks.

I'm hiLARious.

Actually, I kind of wish that I had documented that process so far so that I could show the pitfalls and all the thought and work that goes into one little purse. But, of course, in the heat of the moment things just got ripped and wound as fast as possible in order to get back to the creating. The camera was never thought of. (She says as if this process is all over now and everything is just going to fly right along. Truth is, there may be lots more opportunities!)

I do want to talk more about the specifics of the process, but I think I'll save that for when I can show you what I'm talking about. And until the prototype is finished, I'm being all very mysterious and secretive. 'Cause that's not annoying. Hee!

I will tell you that it's crocheted, it's a purse, it utilizes a novel stitch, and it's very colorful and cheery. And I can't wait to have it finished so I can show you!!

In the meantime, I do get to show you something else that's colorful and cheery -- the Patchwork Sampler afghan that I made for my dear friends Jane and Pat who got married last year. All those blocks went together fabulously and a little red border really brought it all together and I love, love, love it. So do they!

I love that it's nice and big -- I've been going through this serious phase where I'm annoyed that none of my own afghans are big enough. The one I'm making for us right now is going to be big enough that I will never have to chose between warm feet and warm neck again! But I digress! This is about Jane and Pat's afghan! That, once again, I have no really good photos of because of a serious case of Winter! So all the photos were taken indoors and the red looks weird and the stitches are kind of washed out.

In real life it is Pretty! and BIG and cushy and waaaarm. All in all, a resounding success. And it is being well loved in Seattle. I cannot ask for more.

In closing, if there's one thing that is keeping me from getting the new purse design done as quickly as I would like, it is the wonderful Valentine's present that my sweet darling husband gave to me on Monday and is slowly taking over my life:


The hilarious thing is that I've not read any of the books nor have I seen any of the movies. So I only know about this franchise what one soaks up as part of pop culture. Granted, it's a Lego video game and it works pretty much exactly like Lego Batman, Lego Indiana Jones, and my favorite and the one that started my obsession with these games: Lego Star Wars. In fact, Gator realized that, in his mind, he'd been calling my new game "Lego Star Wars Harry Potter". Hee! I am having a blast with this one.

Now, I'm going to finish this purse and hope it doesn't kill me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Non-knitting blogs (and I don't mean this one...)

I’ve intended to blog about four times in the last week, but here’s the absolute truth: Given the choice between blogging and making something to blog about, I choose the making part every time. Which I suppose is a good thing. If you think this blog is boring when it’s just Show and Tell, imagine how boring it would be if there wasn’t even that. Yeah, I thought so.

So I’ve been working hard, but I don’t have anything to show for it at the moment. I spent several weeks cranking out beautiful things I’ve wanted to make for awhile (and there are more of those, never fear!), but it’s made my brain start blossoming with all sorts of ideas. So I’m doing some designing. I said last year that I wanted to design two snowflakes and maybe something larger. Well, I designed one snowflake and that’s it. Still, one snowflake is better than no snowflakes, and I feel that it was my best design yet (even though it wasn’t really creative in that it was copying nature). But I’ve been lurking (and not lurking!) about on a new crop of blogs I’ve found, and I’m full of new inspiration. Most of the design process so far involves swatching. Lots and lots of swatching. New stitches, how they like to lay, how they work with different yarns and hooks, increases, decreases, the whole shebang. Not glamorous, and not ready for prime time. But I think the results will be worth something.

In the meantime, Ten on Tuesday is accomplishing its task as a blog fodder generator. I actually like the topic this week although I had trouble locating ten non-knitting blogs that I regularly read and enjoy and are possibly new to you. Yes, I read LOLCats but I didn’t think that was really list worthy. Silly is fine, but I tried for at least not silly and ubiquitous.

So here, in alphabetical order (I really hate ranking things), are my ten favorite non-knitting (or any crafting, for that matter) blogs:
  • BibliOdyssey: This blog contains the most beautiful collections of art and curiosities. Primarily it showcases recently digitized collections of illustrations, etc. from libraries and museums around the world. When this one comes up in my feeds, I’m always very excited!

  • BoingBoing: An overwhelming amount of pop culture, politics (primarily net-related), and geekdom. So many posts a day that there’s no way I can keep up with it, but when I do have time to sit and scroll through, I always find something I want to know more about. Also, more than once I’ve known the answer to the Bluff the Listener challenge on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! because of reading this blog.

  • Club Jade: Home of the Star Wars fangirls I used to run with. Snarky, geeky, genre-specific fun.

  • Criggo: Their motto is, “Newspapers are going away. That’s too bad.” This is a site in the grand internet tradition of holding the world up to a scrutiny that we, ourselves, could never, ever pass, and then making merciless fun of it. In this case, newspaper copy editors, classifieds buyers, police blotters, and local admen get the brunt of it. But really, some of this stuff is just pretty darned funny.

  • The Different Drummer Soundtrack: The Different Drummer lives an interesting life full of choices I wouldn’t make for myself and that’s what makes it all so very readable. He lives in a co-op (he’s lived in several, actually) in Madison, WI, he’s joined the Baha’i faith and he moonlights as a DJ. He’s introspective and willing to share so much of his life with his readers.

  • March of the Platypi: A big city ER nurse tells tales that don’t break the HIPAA rules. I like to think that venting on his blog allows him to make it through one more shift doing the work I could never do in a million years. Updated sporadically, so it’s easy to keep up with, but I miss him when he’s gone.

  • Mystagogy: Eastern Orthodox lives of saints, theological essays, current events, and sundry, Churchy stuff. More than I keep up with regularly, but it's a good resource.

  • Smitten Kitchen: I’ve never once made any of the mouthwatering recipes on this site. But I always, always intend to. The photography of the food makes me drool, and I think they love mushrooms almost as much as I do. Oh man, I’m salivating just thinking about it.

  • The Time Hack: An interesting year-long experiment testing the idea that we perceive time differently in different situations. Specifically, the gentleman is doing something he’s never done before every day this year to see if we really perceive time “more slowly” the first time we do something. Also, a growing list of 365 things one person has never done before that they are A) willing to do and, B) willing to talk about in a public forum. Granted, some of the things are kinda lame.

  • WWdN (Wil Wheaton dot Net): You may remember him as Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation or you may remember him as Gordie from Stand By Me, but Wil Wheaton is all grown up now and he’s really open about his life, his career, what a gamer geek he is, and how fortunate he feels for the life he has. Also, he’s just a big ol’ dork like me. And I totally respect that.
That's all for now. Next time, an FO. No, really. It's already finished and received and cuddled and everything. :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Oscar-winning Movies

The topic is not specific, but I have taken it upon myself to narrow this down to Best Picture Oscar winners. Or else I would have just thrown my hands up and not played at all.
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Casablanca
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Sound of Music
  • A Man for All Seasons
  • The Last Emperor
  • Dances With Wolves
  • Schindler’s List
  • Braveheart
I've only seen three of the best picture nominees this year so far -- I'd better get to it!

Monday, February 07, 2011

This is what you get...

...when you take a week of vacation then get three snow days the next week.

Frankly, not as much as I'd hoped, but we'll all survive.

I finished Gator's soft, warm purple hat and he loves it! I think he's super cute in it!

Snowboarder Hat That Rocks! by Irish Girlie Knits
Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande / size US 11 dpns
I had trouble getting good lighting -- even though we were outside on a sunny day, actually stepping into the light would have resulted in my poor darling husband being groin-high in a snow drift. So to see the color more accurately, observe what I did with the leftover yarn:

One-Hour Earwarmer by Paulina Chin
Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Grande / size US 10 straight needles
This yarn is deliciously soft and the color is a nice complement to my baktus, but I'm afraid I made the earwarmer a little too big because it stretches quite a bit and has a tendency to fall down over my eyes (which Gator finds adorable). I will have to come up with a fix, I'm afraid.

While on vacation, I finally did something that I've meant to for a long time. I watched all the episodes of Firefly and the movie Serenity. (As an aside, I just ran across this piece of awesome today.) I really enjoyed them and I think I may have to schedule a re-watch of the whole thing in the near future. While watching, I picked up the barely-started purse I had cast on and finished it up!

Wooly Bully Bag by Lori Puthoff
Patons Classic Wool / size US 10 1/2 circular needles
So this has been a nice little run of selfishness, but I kind of fell off the MeMeMeMe! wagon a touch. Our church is having a fundraiser that includes a silent auction. I wanted to donate something for it, and since everyone seems to like my shawls and scarves and bags, etc., I decided to donate a little lace:

Anjeli by Angelika Luidl
Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light / size US 7 circular needles
I know the photos are (once again) not the best, what with it all laid out on a, let's call it vintage, bedsheet and all, but I did the best I could before I had to hurry and take it to the church. If I can, I'll get a snap of the lucky buyer modeling it!

I have a couple of other things in the works and I finally get to show off something that I've been waiting a long time post, but those are for another day. Thus concludes my edition of "What I Did For My Winter Vacation". Oh, and I made baked custard.

Did you get a snow day last week? What did you do?

Friday, January 28, 2011

...and touch the face of God.

My fifth and sixth grade science teacher was Mrs. Cackley. She was a great teacher, the kind almost everyone likes. She was on the young side of middle age, trim and active. She was enthusiastic about teaching and had little trouble controlling her classes. She was tragically widowed and openly shared with us her experiences of watching her husband as he was electrocuted while sandblasting their boat. She was unapologetically religious is that way that just made her a really nice, compassionate person. Yet she was not overly prudish -- during an anatomy lesson she called testicles "balls" so we would know without question what she was talking about -- and let us giggle a bit. A few years after she was no longer my teacher, she remarried and I went to her wedding on my own because I just thought so much of her and I wanted to see her happy. Then later she moved away because her new husband, a pastor, was called to a new church. I've never seen her again -- I don't even know if she's still alive -- but I've thought of her often.

There's a reason I tell you this.

I was a sophomore in high school, in Spanish class. It was a small section, I think there were only twelve of us. I was wearing a red paisley flannel shirt. The counsellor knocked on the door, came in and gave the teacher, Mrs. Dietrich, a piece of paper. We watched her read it and watched her face change and her hand go to her throat. Apparently the note said not to make an announcement, not to disrupt class but Mrs. Dietrich, bless her heart, couldn't do it. She told us that there had been a problem with the space shuttle launch and that Challenger had exploded and all aboard were lost. It was sickening. I don't remember how the rest of the day went; I don't even remember how the rest of Spanish class went. I do remember seeing the crash replayed on the television in the library, which had been set up so some people could watch the launch in real time. I remember some of the girls were crying. They were thinking of the astronauts and particularly of Krista McAuliffe. I was thinking of her, too, but mostly I was thinking about Mrs. Cackley.

When the program began, the call went out for nominations for the first non-astronaut. It was to be a teacher, with an emphasis on science teachers. I was so excited when I heard about it. I knew the perfect candidate -- Mrs. Cackley! She probably wasn't too old, she took great care of herself -- she would be great! And I could think of no one who could better translate an experience like that into a first-rate education opportunity. I went so far as to write a draft of a nomination letter. Eventually I decided that the odds were stacked against her -- they wouldn't pick a teacher from such a small, rural place. They would want someone to take their experiences back to a big school within a large population base. Or maybe the chosen candidate wouldn't return to a regular classroom at all, but start out on the lecture circuit going from school to school all over the country a giving presentations at all-school assemblies. That was all probably true but, in all honesty, high school and teenage life got in the way and I set it aside. In the end, I never mailed the letter.

Twenty-five years ago today, I was never so glad that I failed to follow through. But I knew somewhere there were students who had followed through and had just watched their beloved Mrs. McAuliffe flash brilliantly in the sky and just... cease. I knew I wouldn't have been able to deal with that.

Whenever the subject of Challenger comes up, I see the explosion in my mind's eye and the astronauts walking in slow motion towards the shuttle like they show on the news these days. But even though those images are burned into my memory, they're big, abstract things that seem very far away. The things that really make my heart hurt are the thought that it might have been Mrs. Cackley -- I wanted it to be her! -- and the look on Mrs. Dietrich's face when she read the note. Because those were my teachers -- the ones that had a direct effect on my life. That's close to home. That's real. That's why they started a Teacher In Space program to begin with.

I hope you're well, Mrs. Cackley. I hope you've had a rich, wonderful 25 years. I'm so glad you've had them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well, today is the day! Twenty years ago my fiance came to my workplace and told me he had just received his orders to join his National Guard unit for immediate deployment as part of Operation Desert Storm. I told my boss (who happened to be Gator's best friend) that I was leaving for the day and Gator and I went to the courthouse and got married. The judge who married us was hearing an apparently protracted case and he called a recess so he could perform the ceremony. He left the courtroom saying, "I'm sorry, I have something better to do." It was a palimony case. Thanks, Judge Bruce Normile. We're still going strong.

Also, Happy Birthday Aunt Judy, Laura, Curt and Mori. Lot's of good stuff happened on this day. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten on Tuesday!

I'm going to try out this Ten on Tuesday thing. Basically it's a blog fodder generator wherein one is given a topic each week and then one lists ten things that apply. A huge chunk of Blogdom plays and so one can flit about the blogosphere and see what everybody has to say about the same topic.

I was going to start last week but the topic wasn't very interesting to me, so I didn't start out too well. We'll see how often I play.

Without further ado...

Ten on Tuesday -- 10 Favorite Games from Childhood

(This may rapidly fall into the category of oversharing. Or just explaining why I am the way I am...)

1. Careful -- Never heard of it? I'm not surprised. I've never encountered a person outside of my family who has any idea what this is. And we never called it "Careful" (at least I didn't), I always called it "The tower game! The tower game! I wanna play the tower game!" Oh, I was a joy to every babysitter I ever had...

2. Don't Break the Ice -- My cousin, Chris (to be referenced many times herein), had this game and I couldn't get enough of it. In fact, he gave it to me for Christmas one year and I was never so happy to get a hand-me-down gift. Gator and I still play it (a new copy -- alas I don't know what happened to the original one).

3. Payday -- Life was okay, Monopoly got annoying really fast, but I always loved Payday. One summer my neighbor, Kelly, and I played it about 4,583 times.

4. Five Card Draw -- Mom sometimes played bridge in the evenings and left me home with Dad. I wanted to play games. Well, Dad knew how to play poker, so he taught me. I was maybe six. It was a while before I realized it wasn't "Jacks are better". In fact, it may have been a little while before I realized it wasn't "Jaxxerbedder". Which may have explained why it took me a while to catch on...

5. How Dare You Push Me Into the Pool -- A cousin Chris original. Small hill between Grandma's house and the neighbor, Mr. Fisher's, yard. Crouch on top of hill. Take turns saying, "How dare you push me in the pool!!" with your most outrageous indignant accent while being pushed down the hill by the other player. Hilarity ensues. Cousin swears he has no memory of this. He's five years older than me and I remember it perfectly. Pants on fire, there, cuz?? ;)

6. Go to the Head of the Class -- I had a bunch of my sisters' old games (see #1) and this one was another fave. I loved the thick cardboard pupil-head markers but as I often didn't have anyone to play the game with, I mostly just begged Mom to read questions to me out of the book.

7. Feds 'N' Heads -- Ah, the innocence of youth. Aforementioned neighbor, Kelly, had older brothers. One of them had this game that came as an insert in Playboy magazine. I had no idea what it was about at the time (Maybe gangsters? There was something about getting caught with a bag of oregano, and that was a good thing...), but I came to find out later that it was about... drugs. I just thought it was a fun and funny game. Also I just found out that you can download and print out the entire game here.

8. The Brain -- More of a puzzle, I realize. See #6 where, boo hoo, little Sus played by herself a lot. She didn't mind at all when she had cool things that didn't require 2-4 players like this little gem. My oldest sister gave it to me for Christmas one year and I got so fast and good at it that I could do it over and over without even thinking while watching TV. I still have it and I'm still pretty fast. Muscle memory is an amazing thing.

9. Clean Machine -- Another Cousin Chris original. He had a beefy, muscly, "real"-haired G.I. Joe of much toughness. I had... a fifties Ken doll with a somewhat sunken chest and a painted-on crew cut (yes, it was my sister's). They battled and the loser had to be thrown into a mud puddle. Aside from being able to tell just by looking at them, Ken always lost because (as my cousin's rule declared) the mud puddle would ruin G.I. Joe's hair. We played it all the time (when there were mud puddles) and I remember liking to play it immensely. I just can't figure out why...

10. TV Shows -- Charlie's Angels and, more importantly, The Bionic Woman. OMG. Another neighbor, Marla, and I had an elaborate Bionic Woman story arc with an arch nemesis named Mrs. Octopus who was very powerful and scary and lived in Marla's closet. Yeah, we ran in the house, but we ran in slow motion and with sound effects.

So there you go. They ask for ten games and instead you learn 10 things about me that you didn't want to know. Wonder how much I can disturb you next week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

FO Friday!

As promised, I'm jumping back on the alliterative horsey to bring you a Finished Object Friday post!

I've been wearing my Last Minute Purled Beret pretty consistently. It's colorful, it's cute (especially since the blocking eased out and it no longer looks as much like a Guinan hat), and it goes with pretty much everything. But it's not as warm as I would like. And it has been cold lately. It's not Wisconsin down here or anything, but a high of 13F is pretty chilly wherever you are. So I wanted a meatier hat. But, you know, cute. Oh, and ear covering was of utmost importance.

So allow me to introduce my Spicy (the color) Capucine! Super cute, super thick and warm, and good ear coverage. A winner all around! Even if my co-workers now call me everything from Amish Girl to Little Red Riding Hood. Hee!

Capucine by Adela Illichmanova
Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Spice
Size US11 straight and double point needles

So now I'm very inspired to finish Gator's purple hat so he can enjoy some warm-ear new hat love, too! Off I go!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WIP... Thursday?

It's happened! It's happened! I finished all my gifty Works In Progress (except for the one that was a dismal failure and I gave up and frogged -- No, Sis, not that one!) and I've been being selfish!!!

Goal #3 of the new year well under way! (For the record, goal #2 is probably going fine, as well, but I won't bore you with the "Today, I did some sit-ups" post.)

So I finished the gifty things (which I can't show you until they are received, and for one of them may be a bit) and as soon as I was done, I cast on a new project! And the next night I cast on another new project! And the next night I finished the second project and cast on a third project! So much activity!

That means that I have two new WIPs to show you! And I know you can't wait, because they are ridiculous. Yes, they're cast on and thus qualify as WIPs, but, well, have a look for yourself:

Yeah. I know. There's not much to show. The red up top is going to be the Woolly Bully bag and below is the beginning of a Snowboarder Hat That Rocks! Yes, those are purple earflaps you see there. And, yes, since it's purple, it must be for Gator. :)

I know I mentioned a project I finished, but that makes it a Finished Object and no longer a WIP, and tomorrow is Friday, and since I botched the alliterative WIP Wednesday, the least I can do is go for an FO Friday! Hee.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Hungry Like the Scarf

2011 is off to a roaring start! Things have been busy at work, I've been a little handworking bee, and a new design idea is percolating in my wee brain (though I'm not even swatching it until these UFOs are done). I've managed to keep my first goal of the new year, as well, so I'm calling the first week of '11 a success. :)

Earlier (read: last year) I promised some pics of the only FO I have right now that I can actually show you. (Yes, I'm still gift crocheting things from last year. It happens.) I actually started this last February and only finished on Christmas Eve. It's kind of my year-long Christmas present to myself. It's not fancy at all. It's the ubiquitous Baktus scarf that 5100 other people on Ravelry are sporting these days. Good, mindless TV knitting. Yes, it's just a triangle. I said it wasn't fancy. But I did take it outside on a pretty day and try to get decent photos of it. I even tried to be artsy and everything.

Yes, I know; I failed. Although the sky is blue and clear and the sun was shining, it was cold and windy and this was the best I could do before I said screw it. I did manage to get a shot of it on me before my fingers froze completely off.

Baktus by Strikkelise
Zitron Trekking XXL in colorway 333 (brown/purple) with US2 needles

No, it's not fancy, but it's warm and it goes with everything. I'm very pleased with it. It's got me very excited to get to all the delicious selfish projects I have lined up. Including that new design I'm working out in my head... Mwahahaha!

This afternoon, Christmas is coming down. I listened to Christmas carols while I put everything up, but the piped-in music at HyVee this morning has got me in the mood for some serious Duran... You all just wish you could see the interpretative dance that's going to accompany this little task!

No, no you probably don't. ;)