Friday, November 18, 2011

Word vomit.

Right now can be summed up in a few context-free bullet points.

  • I hate the waiting game. I would really like next week to be now. 
  • I have a good support system. Additionally, I am a good support system for others. Both of these things make me feel incredibly lucky.
  • While I hate waiting, I am a little glad to have some free space. December is going to be crazy-full of house guests, things to do, (possibly) new opportunities, and twice as many "want to's" than there is time for. I welcome all of it, but it still makes me feel a bit tired to think about and I'm not sure how it's all going to work yet. 
  • The mittens are probably too small. I don't actually know if this is true or not, as I don't hang around four-year-olds much. 
  • I'm still not too fancy for $2 Chuck every once in a while. 
  • I recently told someone that, while I would always have things I'd do differently in hindsight, I still have plenty to be proud of. It wasn't until I heard myself say it that I actually believed it. 
  • Fall and winter make me miss living downtown, minus the week my apartment didn't have heat. That part sucked. 
  • Every once in a while I still find myself able to be surprised by the people I think I know best. I'm not sure if that's good, bad, simply interesting or some combination of all three. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This is where stash diving gets me.

I was searching for a coordinating sock yarn to finish off my dad's Christmas socks with, and ended up spending a good 45 minutes or so just digging through stash for no real reason.

Depending on one's perspective, my stash is quite modest. Not counting unspun fiber and sweaters waiting to be unraveled, it all fits in one cubby-holed bookcase, roughly four feet tall by two feet wide. Okay, I'll admit things are slightly crammed into the bookcase, and there's another ten balls or so stashed in an ottoman in my living room, but the overall stash is more or less bookcase-sized. In comparison to the stories of stash I read on Ravelry, this isn't very big. According to my friend Shelly, who has been knitting for just over a year and tends to buy on a project-by-project basis, this is crazy huge. Like I said, it's all about one's perspective.

In any case, my sock yarn search made me go through everything again. Due to poorness, I'm trying to knit as much as possible from my stash, and Christmas presents are no exception. I realize not everything is going to come from here-- for example, my super-special snowflake mom gets socks every year, but can't wear any of the wool or wool-blend sock yarns I currently have on hand-- but I'd at least like to try. Realizing this, I started looking through, hoping for ideas to spring forth from the random hanks, skeins and balls.

I got one. Just not for a Christmas present. As usual, my self-involvement meant that I thought of a perfect project from some long-forgotten handspun for me.

I sometimes feel like I shouldn't keep my first handspun yarns in with the yarns. I don't even really think of them as actual usable fiber and instead tend to view them as an artifact of the learning process. My first plied yarn fell squarely into that category until the other day. It was a purple silk blend that I had started to ply with a grey merino, then switched to a white merino half-way through. In retrospect, for an uneven, horribly underplied mess, it was kind of pretty. Too bad there was only 42 yards of it. But then I came across a basic merino single I'd spun up who-knows-when, and an idea and a swatch or two eventually became a cowl.

I was quite proud of myself-- I waited until I finished a pair of mittens for my brother before casting on, and it went quickly enough that it didn't take much time away from the holiday projects I have to get done. The ends still need to be woven in and it needs serious blocking, but I love the cowl that sprang u from my stash. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I just finished a post about stash diving and unearthing a cowl idea, but then the internet (or more specifically the mobile app that I was using due to being too lazy to turn on my laptop) ate it. We'll try this again tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Today's First World Problems

  • I finished the bulk of my dad's Christmas socks last night, but don't have any appropriate sock yarn in my stash for the contrast afterthought heel and toe. The black is too black, the blue has too much green, and I used up all of my white/neutral dyeing mini-skeins for my sock yarn blanket. I'm too poor to buy anything that would work. I really want these socks to be finished!

Reason why this is not a real problem: I won't be poor forever and should be able to find the right yarn and knit the heels and toes in plenty of time for Christmas.

  • I ran out of yarn ten rows away from being finished with the Oaklet shawl I was working on for a friend. Can't buy more for both above reasons and because it's been stashed for the last couple of years, making matching dye-lots tricky. 

Reason why this is not a real problem: I didn't actually like how the shawl/yarn combo looked in the first place.

  • My second attempt at polenta cakes was a complete failure. Maybe I didn't give it enough time to set up, maybe I had the wrong heat, I don't know, but my broccoli polenta fell completely apart tonight into a big, slightly browned mess. 

Reason this is not a real problem: Do I really need a reason for this one? It's freaking polenta for crying out loud.

Despite such horrible setbacks, I managed to eke out a reasonably productive day, then grabbed a glass of raspberry mead and caught the tail end of my friends' set at Honey Moon Winery. Now I'm finishing up a West Wing: Season 1 dvd and planning the rest of my Christmas knitting in my cozy house with my adorable dog asleep at my feet.

That last paragraph? That's the real reason that none of these are real problems.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Nothing, followed by more nothing.

So I missed a day in my quest of blogging. On the flip side, no one would have missed the boring, useless blog post it would have been had I bothered to blog yesterday. I swear to god I am actually capable of being slightly interesting.

Sadly, I have little to nothing to write today, except that I'm hoping that something I started this morning ends well. I won't know until next week if things are going to go the way I want, and it will be even more time before I get to know the final outcome. Nonetheless, I sit here today watching Mythbusters and being hopeful.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Blah. Blah. Blah.

It's only been four days and I already find myself slightly stuck for a topic today.

I suppose I could write about what I made for dinner-- Veggie and Tempeh Curry with Eggplant Punjab and Basmati Rice--- but since I cheated and used things like curry paste and pre-made eggplant punjab, it's not a recipe, or even an interesting story.

I could write about how the passing of Halloween and the turning of the clocks this weekend have plunged us into instant winter, but a girl can only talk about the weather so much.

I could write about the progress I've made on my dad's Christmas socks, but it's a basic sock. At this point, the only visible change is that it looks like a slightly longer knit tube than it did a couple of days ago.

....and those were the least crappy ideas of the bunch. So for once, I went and looked at NaBloPoMo's page for one of their recent writing prompts and was given this:

When you are writing, do you prefer a pen or a computer? 

It's kind of nice coincidence that this question came up, but I'll get to that in a second. 

I end up writing a lot on computers. Having had a blog in some form or another for over ten years now and being more attached to the internet now that at any other time of my life, the majority of what I write comes from keys punched on a keyboard, but there was a time when my daily routine included putting pen to paper. Writing was one of my decompression methods when I would come home from a particularly bad day of retail hell. I had an online journal at the time, but it wasn't the same as opening up a book and pouring something out on paper. 

A few days ago, I was trying to remember when a particular event happened, so I reached up into the top shelf of my closet and pulled out the three or four beat-up sketchbooks that use to be my daily accessories. I ended up thumbing through them for nearly an hour, reading through a couple of books worth of late teen/early 20s self-involvement. It was kind of funny to read through the things I found important then, but I was more struck by the sketchbooks themselves. 

I had forgotten how much they really contained. More than just hand-written words about goofy times with friends and whatever dumb guy I was involved with; there were elaborate doodles and bits of poetry my friends wrote on napkins, ticket stubs to concerts and watercolor landscapes, random funny postcards and photographs of things that were only cool to me. My old journals felt so much more textured than anything I've written since and a part of me really missed being able to write without concern of who would read it or how it would be interpreted. 

I have a new sketchbook. I don't know if I will be converting it from it's current purpose-- planning out craft ideas and the occasional recipe-- but I have a feeling more words may go into it in the future. 

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Weekends don't exactly make for great blogging.

Football. Sub sandwiches. Tons of couch knitting. Spending a lazy Sunday with my two favorite guys. These are a few of my favorite things.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

My Saturday was not quite as productive as I originally planned it to be, but I'm still pretty okay with it. I got to sleep in, free in the knowledge that I didn't have to talk to anyone important or official. I got to go out and do things without necessarily having a direct agenda. I got to watch movies with good friends and knit a good two inches on my Dad's Christmas socks.

Honestly, that pretty much sums up my day, though I've also been reveling in one other thing-- as I was going through my day, it occurred to me that the fingerless  gloves I was wearing were the first ones I made, a good five or six years ago. Admittedly, I noticed that the upper palm of the right glove needed mending and is close to unraveling, but I loved the fact that I have made something that has lasted longer than most of the clothes I own. I fully realize that for some folks that's standard procedure-- hell, I know people who wear handknits their grandmothers made!-- but for me it was pretty awesome. 

Friday, November 04, 2011

It's time.

After Round 4 (or is it 5?) of battling with insurance companies this morning, I decided that today it was finally time to get back to the project I started before our surprise remodel. I spent my afternoon working on a felting project that I'll get around to writing and photographing later, but I think the rest of the weekend will be spent on my new quilt project.

Finishing the hexagon quilt left me pretty stoked about this whole ridiculous quilting thing, but wanting something more simple, preferably with seams longer than 3 inches. So a few weeks ago, I picked up a bunch of sale fat quarters and started sketching.

I'm still trying to get away from my fear of patterns, so I went wild with black, white, and blue prints. I liked the idea of a simple brick quilt, but wanted something a little skewed, so I my rows are being cut at 45 degrees and pieced diagonally starting at opposite corners. I also liked the idea of a project that used as as little waste as possible, so in addition to my 3x6 bricks, there are 3 x random length bricks thrown in for good measure. So far my leftover scraps consist of two 1x1 squares and a few 1/4" strips.

I swear to God, it's the last blue thing I'm sewing for a while. Seriously.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

So here we are again.

Once again, it's November and I'm lagging on this whole blogging thing. I'm usually decent at the outset before eventually petering out, but this time I seem to have failed to even make it out of the starting gate.

Thing is, it's been that sort of a week. Actually, scratch that-- it's been that sort of two weeks. Two Sundays ago, my condo flooded due to a malfunctioning washer next door, dumping gallons of water under the adjoining walls into my kitchen, stairwell, and living room. We got a lot cleaned up that night, but it took four days, a cleanup crew, seven industrial fans, a dehumidifier the size of my stove, and the removal of half my downstairs flooring before everything was finally dry.

...and that was the easy part. Week 2 has been the hard part-- dealing with insurance companies. I generally expect insurance companies to do their job-- wearing us down to avoid having to release money-- but the run-around we've been getting has exceeded even my already-low standards. Luckily, I've armed myself with a trusty notebook full of info-- every name, every phone number, and every single scrap of documentation that might be remotely relevant. I'm also really lucky to have a couple of friends with insurance backgrounds who've let me pick their brains when needed, so I feel well-prepared for our fight with bullshit bureaucracy.

The whole thing, along with a couple of related tensions and frustrations, left me pretty worn out and depressed. I was too tired to do much for Halloween, which bummed me out even further. So after a week of eating my feelings and a beer or three, I went back to my preferred method of coping-- following through with my restoration plan, reminding myself that this will also pass, and making lists of the things I have to be happy and grateful for.

Right now I'm glad to be snuggled under my finished-at-long-last hex quilt. My finished size ended up being slightly bigger than throw-sized at 65"x65". I was originally planning on making a twin-sized piece, but after months of sewing I looked at my quilt where it was pinned on the wall and finally admitted that if I had to sew another hexagon I was going to hurt someone. "A throw would get more use anyway," I told myself while shoving 150 leftover hexes into my fabric trunk, and thusfar it's turned out to be true.

Monday, August 08, 2011


I had a lot of stuff to write about but, as per usual, I ended up getting a bit backed up, so I’m just going to sum up. While the rest of the country has been roasting, summer barely got off the ground until the 4th of July, so we’ve had to pack in quite a bit in a short time. 

Now that I’ve had a few weeks to recover, I can unequivocally say that Warrior Dash was a ragingly good time and I can’t wait to do it again in six weeks. My finish time was terrible and my body hated me afterwards, but I had a ridiculous amount of fun. I think there are so few opportunities for grown adults to do ridiculous things like slosh through the mud, so I find it important to take those opportunities when they arise. 

There's also been quite a bit of camping. A small family trip to Deception Pass and some orca watching on Lime Kiln Point started the month, then we ended it with a big camping bash at Rasar State Park. We got a big group site for Elena’s annual birthday campout this year and it was so plush it almost felt like cheating at camping. The site featured a big grassy area with a huge covered annex featuring tables, electrical outlets, and a fireplace (though we kept to the firepit just outside of it.) Individual tent sites radiated out from the center like a child‘s drawing of the sun, giving a nice balance between having one’s own space and having a central place to flock. 

In all, it was two days of sock knitting, beer-drinking, s’more-making, frisbee-throwing goodness. 

Lastly, I made a dress, just in time for the summer's first camping trip. I pulled some random aqua jersey that had been bumming around my fabric stash for about ten years, and in my mom's stash for who knows how long before that, and decided it was time to finally make something out of it. Using the Camisole Dress pattern from Alabama Studio Style, I sewed myself up my new favorite item of summer clothing. I also airbrushed some darker blue swirls halfway up, added some decorative seam stitching, then stenciled and reverse-appliqued some leaves along the bottom. It's still a work in progress, but I'm wearing it in the meantime.

There was probably more, but I think that just about catches me up. Now onto the rest of summer! 

Monday, May 09, 2011


Since I gave up my fruitless fight for a decently snowy winter, I've been aching for spring. Technically, it already is spring, but the Northwest has a different sort of definition for that word. Here, "spring" means rain, a day of sunbreaks followed by rain, some temperatures that dip down into the forties, a tiny bit of the snow we didn't get in winter, then more rain. Now that we're getting into May, things are finally starting to warm up and get sunnier, but it's still a Northwest spring so things can change quite quickly.

Spring is a tricky little bastard that delights in showing me a ten-minute flash of sunlight, and like the gullible idiot I am I think that means it's warm enough to forgo the fingerless gloves that have been a daily staple for the last six months. Within moments the rug is pulled out from under me and the giant dark clouds roll on in. Some people think they look like bunnies, some see dragons, and the truly odd see the face of President Nixon. Me, I see a giant hand pointing as Nature laughs at me.

This is also typically the time of year when I start to go off the rails a tiny bit and, judging by the attitudes of the people I encounter throughout my day, I'm definitely not the only one. There are plenty of places in the world where the elements are more extreme and harsh, but the Northwest requires its own special sort of endurance. A mini-vacation to Disneyland(!) in early March and a visit from my sister helped stave off my usual early spring depression, but now I find myself aching for color and light and skirts and warmth and bikes and mojitos.

I think that's how I ended up on this hexagon quilt thing. I had been thinking about starting one a few months ago. I went as far as going over to my mom's to pull out the flower garden quilt my great-great-grandmother made to study it a bit, and buy a hexagon cutting template. After a couple of days, I shelved the idea in favor of sitting on my couch and knitting squares for my sock yarn blanket.

However, as the weather got wetter and my patience for grayness grew thinner, I thought about it again. Before I knew what hit me, I was at my local JoAnn buying a couple dozen fat quarters in shades of blue and green, and making dozens upon dozens of hexagons. Now, I find myself stealing every moment I can to go up to my sewing room and sew just a few more seams.

I'm foregoing paper piecing methods in favor of machine sewing based on the Lady Harvatine tutorial on the subject. When I consulted my mother, she was reasonably certain that my great-great grandmother never used the paper piecing method on her quilts. Frankly, if machine sewing was good enough for Kate, it's good enough for me.

Given how many hexes I cut out, this quilt is going to end up being about twin size, but I'm envisioning large picnics and snuggling under it in camping tents.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

There's been a lot going on the last few weeks, both internally and externally, but since it's still going I'm gonna wait until I can organize it all.

In related news, I'm not sure how to explain the awesomeness/warm-fuzziness/scariness of my little sister visiting the place I've called home for the last 13-ish years for the first time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I have a slightly weird habit.

Actually, that's not true. I have many weird habits, ranging from just the tiniest bit off-kilter to... nevermind, where was I? Today I thought of one in particular.

I count stitches. I don't mean that I count stitches to make sure i've got the right number. I sit down and do the math to figure out how many stitches make up the thing I'm knitting. I'm usually not too concerned with having more than a ballpark figure. I expect my margin of error is within about 10% or so. Even if it isn't, it's really not important since it's a meaningless and arbitrary number anyway.

To be honest, I'm not sure why I even do it, but I think it's because I like to amaze myself sometimes. I started a pair of Ice Age Boots on last week's (no-)snow day, figuring that would be enough to keep me busy without distracting me from my movie marathon. The rough total for the size I'm making (with adjustments) is 35,838 stitches.

Isn't that just a mind-boggling number? And it's not just because I'm making double-layered, ridiculously large boots. Even a chunky hat on big needles adds up to hundreds of stitches. If someone told me when I first learned to knit, "hey, that thing that seems tricky to you now? In a little while, you'll be able to do this thousands of times without even breaking a sweat," I would have been pretty incredulous. Now, I just like to marvel at the everyday awesomeness that we crafters are capable of.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Robots may break your heart. 

So far the epic winter that our meteorologists threatened us with throughout the fall has proven, depending on one's perspective, disappointing. We are experiencing only our second snowfall of the season, and by most predictions it will all be over and melting by tomorrow afternoon. As a person who grew up in tropical climates until late adolescence/early teens, I seem to have retained a child-like fascination with snow. I've even gotten to the point where I don't mind driving in it, though other drivers still scare the bejeezus out of me.

Hell, I have a love of snow that even a winter-related car accident two years ago and a week without heat at our old apartment hasn't diminished.

So in the interest of winter wishful thinking, I'm declaring tomorrow a SNOW DAY. As it stands, I'm a little in need of a recovery day anyway. A flare-up of a chronic knee injury combined with continuing to push myself too hard has left me sore and hobbling. Most of the pressing things have been taken care of, so tomorrow is going to consist of icing my knee, making Baked Potato Soup, and finishing about six projects that are in the "99% done" stage.

Finishing is my least favorite part of knitting. The knitting portion is done, but there are still yarn ends to weave in, buttons to sew on, or one little seam before it can be worn or used. In my mind, once I've bound off on something, it's done. Everything afterwards is just an irritating chore. Luckily, if I can get myself to sew on just one button, it's usually smooth sailing from there.

For now, though, I'm just going to watch the snow fall, and start knitting something else.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My January list of...things.

I don't really believe in New Year's Resolutions. I'm sure for some people they are a good idea. However, for folks like me-- the enthusiastic but easily distracted-- it just feels like setting oneself up for disappointment. Sure, I can tell myself that I'm going to stop eating fast food, take a picture everyday, or some other very grand endeavor, but inevitably I will slip up one day and be forced to face the giant letdown of ruining a year-long goal.

I also recently saw this TED video that explained why it's better to keep one's goals to oneself, so the life goal list I have in my head is going to stay there for the time being. My last "11 in 2011" is admittedly a goal of sorts, but since it's more of a nice idea that's subject to change at any moment, it doesn't really count in my book. If anything, I wanted to write it down so I could see exactly how it differed later, because again-- enthusiastic but easily distracted.

In the meantime, I've found yet another cool thing to add to my distraction: Iron Craft -- A weekly crafting challenge using different themes and materials each week. Complete commitment isn't required, but it seems like a fun idea that I could definetely get behind.

Edited to add: I did remember my one major New Year's Resolution-- to stop watching Lonely Island videos so much. It's time to let "I'm On A Boat" go.