Saturday, July 31, 2010

Illustration Friday - Artificial

The artificial sentiments of white lies and platitudes are an important social lubricant, I'm not denying that.  But one of my many weaknesses is that I'm not always the best at either giving them in a sincere manner or managing to take them graciously when I hear them.

Missed last week's topic entirely, things have been pretty crazy on the kitten front.  Hopefully things will be better this week.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Needle and Thread

Like crochet, sewing is a skill that I had plenty of opportunities to learn at my mother's knee but didn't.  Unlike crochet, I can't say that I've ever given it a good honest try because I'm deathly afraid of the sewing machine.

I know.  No, really, I know.  Sewing machines are pretty high up on the list of 'stupid things to be afraid of,' but I manage it anyway.

I can manage hand sewing, which is good because I can at least repair a fallen hem or replace a button.  I've managed to sew my sleeve to whatever project I'm working on while sewing by hand, through the magic combination of my pathological clumsiness and total lack of attention, so who knows what I would do to myself with a machine.

Now, you would think that because I refuse to use a sewing machine that I wouldn't do things like make my own clothes.  You'd be wrong.  Design wise, they're incredibly simple, because again: sewing by hand.  So, despite the several skirts and pajama pants I've made I've never actually used a real pattern.

That's not to say that I don't have a collection of patterns.  I do.  Every so often I convince myself that I will learn to use the machine, I won't end up with twenty pins in my fingers and a broken needle fragment in my eye and so go out and buy a couple of patterns that promise to be simple beginner projects.  They're currently languishing in a box in the spare bedroom, held onto because, hey, that dress may eventually come back into style and then I'll want to make it again.

This year I decided that I needed some new light weight summer skirts in my life.  And why would I buy skirts when I could make my own and be sure they fit correctly- meaning I'm short and store-bought knee length skirts cheerily wave goodbye to my knees as they find the most unflattering place they can mid-calf.

Enter the tube:


This is the typical skirt 'design' I use whenever the sewing bug bites.  And I wear it a few times before deciding that really, with hips as wide as mine I really ought to look into some sort of shaping.

Enter the gore:


I had, if real designers will forgive me co-opting this term, drafted a pattern, ironed it and pinned everything together before falling into a 'there is no way I can ever finish this before summer is over' funk.  My mom came over, I proudly showed off the cute fabric and my so-called design skills and then told her about my intense lack of motivation.  She very kindly told me to stop being such an idiot and to just bring it over to her house over the weekend and we would work through my sewing machine phobia.

And it worked.  To a degree.  I have a skirt that suffers from some 'so you tried to design this yourself' problems but it fits and I put it together myself.  Mostly.  When I was intimidated by having to sew something other than a straight line (as I wasn't very good at even that), Mater was good enough to take over.  She also put in the zip and buttonhole because I was absolutely petrified I'd ruin it forever if I had to deal with closures.

The next time I went over for a sewing lesson we picked out something more my speed: kitten beds.  Over a couple of hours I managed to produce a decent pile of them despite my inability to cut a straight line and I almost always remembered to put the foot down.


Next up?  Using a real pattern.  On the one hand: exciting.  On the other: terrifying.  Here's hoping I manage to produce a proper pair of pants.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hoh Hoh Hoh Hoh

Aside from the fosters, I have three cats of my own.  Tigger is the Boyfriend's cat who was here when I moved in.  Junior is the kitten we rescued from 'the wild' when we first started dating and is very much not a kitten anymore.  And then there's Fat Bill.

Nice hat.
Fat Bill (or as she was known at the time, Billie) was born under my bed about fifteen years ago.  In other words, we have history.  As her name implies, Fat Bill is not exactly svelte.  As such, we were rather concerned about her chances for diabetes when we took her in for her annual wellness vet visit.

This was the first time our current vet had ever seen Fat Bill and she created her usual lasting first impression.

The tech while pulling Fat Bill out of the carrier: "She just keeps coming and coming.  A never ending cat."

When I remarked that she was quite the fat ass: "Well, her head and feet aren't that fat."

On reading her name on the chart: "We're rather literal, aren't we?"

Catching up on the records from our last vet: "Looks like she's lost 3/4 of a pound.  Congratulations."

While feeling her temporal muscles: "Well, you see this in older cats, where they lose muscle mass.  They just kind off waste away.  Not that she's exactly wasting away."

Trying to feel for her bladder and kidneys: "If I could just get in there.... It's like trying to palpate through jello."

With a certain note of exasperation: "What do you feed her?"

Because I can't remember when the last time we did any kind of blood work on her and because we were concerned about the diabetes we did a full work up.  The vet called yesterday with the results.
Vet:  Well the good news is that her glucose levels are normal.
Me:  (happy dance!) That is good news!
Vet:  There is an issue with her thyroid.
Me:  (No wonder she's so fat.)  Oh?
Vet:  Now, clinically she presents normally.  But according to her work up she has hyperthyroidism.
Me:  That... is not what I expected.
Vet:  Neither did I.

There is an undeniable resemblance.

The good news is that we have a real shot at treating this medically (as opposed to surgically) and Fat Bill can live for quite a while longer sleeping inconveniently on my knitting and keeping me awake by loudly chewing on her belly.

I just love this yarn so much.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


The last two years I've participated in a month long project where I try to create a piece of art every day and share with other artists doing the same.  I've enjoyed it so much and I feel such a sense of accomplishment when it's all over, even if I whine and moan during it.

Last year, toward the end of September I was so ready for Día de los Muertos I couldn't stand it.  Since it was still more than a month away I got my fix by drawing an ofrenda:

A common argument between the Boyfriend and I when the subject of my love of skulls and skeletons comes up usually goes something like this:
Him:  You're such a goth.
Me:  I'm embracing my cultural heritage!
Him:  Goth.
Me:  We used skulls as a common motif well before goths.  I win.
Him:  Goth.
And so on and so forth.

So, we've established that I love Día de los Muertos, skulls and skeletons, and I was trying to dig up some ideas for art every day.  With all this, plus a lifelong love of the engravings of José Guadalupe Posada and a little latent Catholicism thrown in I produced this:

St. Catherine of Bologna
Saints as skeletons is a theme I wanted to explore more, but life got in the way.  But I think it's interesting me again and I have a few ideas in the works.  We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Secret Shame

I've been knitting for quite a while now.  It sort of sneaked up on me, because I very much still consider myself a novice.  I've learned a lot and I've made a lot but there is so much more that I haven't.

Part of it is that I have such a short attention span.  More complicated and time intensive projects get ignored for years in favor of yet another pair of wrist warmers or socks.  I love knitted accessories, both to make and to wear and so, I have an embarrassing confession.

I don't knit sweaters.  I very much want to, there are so many lovely patterns and there are very few things I love more than a nice sweater.  I live in central Texas, a good sweater is usually all the winter wear I need for the year.  I've certainly tried to.  When I first learned to knit in high school, my second or third project was a sweater.  Despite having only just mastered the concept of knit and purl, owning one set of needles, having erratic tension and absolutely no concept of gauge I dove right in.  I bought three skeins of (the now discontinued) Lion Brand's Chunky USA, cast on an amount that 'looked about right' on 5mm needles and went to town.

I successfully made one of the densest acrylic squares (a term used very loosely) known to man.  Because I'm a compulsive pack rat I still have it somewhere, waiting to be reclaimed and the yarn used for something a little more reasonable.

After that I sort of broke up with sweaters, at least until I had some more skills under my belt.  A few years of an on again off again relationship with knitting I started developing an interest in something more complicated than garter stitch scarves.

I enjoy learning by just jumping straight in and making an absolute mess of things all the while hoping for a reasonable outcome so once I felt relatively confident I had the hang of basic shaping I cast on Mrs. Dacy's Cardigan. 

Now, this is a lovely pattern.  It should have produced a lovely cardigan.  But with me at the wheel, so to speak, it didn't so much.

Because I was working on it so infrequently it took ages to finish.  And my tension seemed to change every time I picked up the needles.  So that long ago gauge swatch I knitted when I was picking out yarn was more than useless.  I ended up with a baggy, oddly proportioned sweater beast that I can never leave the house wearing because my god.  

 At least it's at all wearable.

Despite it's problems, I have to admit it's one of my favorite sweaters.  It's ridiculously cozy.  I take this as proof that I need more hand knit sweaters in my life.

So, I'm currently working on Ivy.  It's been an incredibly frustrating experience because of my inability to follow directions and some random small tragedies (usually cat related.  Thanks for the help, guys.)  I've restarted it at least twice and am currently working on the left front.  Again.  The Boyfriend has suggested just making it a wrap vest because at least that way the end is somewhat in sight.  But it feels like if I don't finish this damn thing then the sweater will have won.

I will not be defeated by an inanimate object let alone one that I'm making.

And that's the story of my misadventures with sweaters.  The End.

 Or is it?

Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?  I don't know what you're talking about, I would never.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I just have a lot of feelings

Woo!  New skill.

Yesterday was so full of hate I can't seem to talk about the fun things I did without that bleeding through.  So, I'm going to get all of that out of the way right now.   There were no major tragedies, just a bunch of small annoyances and an irritable mood I couldn't seem to shake.  Morning pot of coffee tasted awful, the kittens have been sick and aren't improving, I had to frog the left front of a cardigan after almost finishing it (more on this later), and had an inability to translate what was in my head through my hands and onto paper.

I tried some of the usual silly cheer up things I do, like painting my nails a fun color and wearing an awesome hat but they were less than effective.

 It has earflaps and alpaca on it.  Best hat ever.

How can you not be happy wearing this hat?  I don't know, but I managed it.

But that's enough about my Very Important Feelings.

Sunday was the Boyfriend and my anniversary so he took me to the Knitting Nest to pick out a present.  Because he's a fantastic enabler.  While there I saw there was a class for  basket coiling the next day and signed me and my dad up.  Pater also enjoys making things (I need to show you pictures of his leather work.  He produces amazing things) and like me enjoys playing with rope and strings.  We attempted to learn fancy work (in Pater's case relearn) but ran out of steam so I thought this might be more our speed.

The class was taught by Olivia Cuenca who was very patient with our false starts.  Uh, I mean, I was immediately a coiling master because I am perfect.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  And I just want to say now, for the record, that I am in love with coiling.  I'm still eyeing the clothesline because I really want to re-purpose it into a basket for yarn-y notions.  Never mind that I, you know, need the clothesline.

Once I get the hang of it and don't have to think about what I'm doing constantly I can see this as another 'keep my hands busy' activity.  And probably more useful than some of my others.  Though I still maintain that making friendship bracelets is a perfectly fine hobby for an adult to indulge in.

Awesome: y/y?

Illustration Friday - Breakfast

I'm obviously not the healthiest person in the world.  Not pictured is NPR or one of the cable news channels playing in the background because I'm a total news junkie.

I've been putting off posting this because I don't think it's finished and just generally think it's a bit crap.  But I'm totally stumped on how I want to finish it and if I waited until I was completely satisfied with something to share it I would be consistently not sharing.  So this is me pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

I don't like it out here one bit.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kelpbed Socks


Finished my socks.  I'm pretty pleased with them, the yarn's color plus the leaf pattern reminds me of kelp.  Hence the name.  Aren't I terribly clever?  If I were to make this 'pattern' again, though, I think I'd make some changes.


Here's a close up of the lace pattern.  Not the greatest photo, but it turns out that taking a picture of the back of my own leg involves some contortions I'm no longer capable of doing properly.  I've also apparently inherited my dad's penchant for 'find the mistakes!' so all I can see is the wonky yarn over.  Pater and I own at Where's Waldo, so I suppose it has it's upsides.

Chart, woo!

Here's the altered chart I used for the lace pattern.  I went ahead and wrote it out for flat knitting just in case.  Sorry it's handwritten on practically invisible grids, if anyone wants me to type out the steps instead I can do that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cat Whisperer

We recently got two new foster kittens, older than the ones we usually get and therefore on the road to being feral.  The first couple of days were filled with hissing, fluffing up into big, terrifying kitties and uncontrollable shaking.  Did I mention the hissing?  Because that was pretty much constant.  Walked into the room.  Hiss.  Looked at them.  Hiss.  Shifted because my butt was asleep.  Hiss.  Came up to me and sniffed me.  Hiss.  They're best trick was a sort of syncopated hissing, one after the other.  And if I laughed at that?  Hiss.

Socializing kittens that have a deep fear of scary-bad people can be a slow and tedious process.  Lots of sitting around, pretending to be an inanimate object until they feel comfortable enough to approach you.  Gentle movements.  Occasionally petting and picking up.  And getting hissed at.  A lot.  And feeling like a monster because they seem to enjoy being scratched behind the ears but they're still shaking hard enough to sometimes knock themselves over.

Now, I can't say that my job is hard.  Sometimes gross, sometimes frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking?  Yes.  But not exactly difficult.  But sitting around doing my best impersonation of furniture is boring. Though being able to watch TV on my laptop has made it bearable.  I love living in the future.  So, one night after the hissing died down and they felt comfortable enough for some exploring I pulled out the sock currently on the needles.  And wouldn't you know, it was like magic.  Apparently I might still be scary-bad if I tried to touch them but I had wooly string and that made me kind of ok.

By the time I was ready to take a break (meaning my legs were totally numb from sitting relatively still on the floor) they were like this:

Yeah, that's the little black one sleeping on me.  The tabby dozed off shortly after the awkward webcam picture.  But not before hissing.

After deciding that maybe I wasn't so bad things have progressed quickly.  Now they're downright snuggly.  Sleeping on my legs under a blanket is way better than the nest box.  Where before we couldn't get them out of the next box.  They're still a little stand-offish with the Boyfriend- if given the choice between laps they'll default to mine.  I think he's considering taking up knitting to win them over.  Or at least holding a WIP in his lap and waggling the needles.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fear Itself

Sometimes I think it would be easier to make a list of things that I'm not afraid of.  That way when someone expresses surprise over an irrational and incredibly stupid sounding fear (ex: Slime mold.  No, really.  I don't know why, it's just creepy.) I can just give them a list of things we can discuss that won't give me the full body heebie jeebies.

A lot of my fears can be easily summed up by 'I'm afraid of the dark.'  There's more to it than that, I mean, the general 'dark' is pants-wetting enough but my overactive lizard brain just can't stop there.  Dark windows I can't see out of, half opened doors where a ninja-rapist and/ or cucuy could hide behind, mirrors and other reflective surfaces in dark rooms (though mirrors are creepy all by themselves) under the bed, attics, basements, outdoors at night (I hate taking out the trash by myself.  The zombie-pocalypse might have started and my perfectly lovely next door neighbors might now have an overwhelming urge to eat the flesh from my bones) especially near bodies of water because of La Llorona.... Well, like I said: I'm afraid of everything.

Even something as supposedly relaxing as a hot shower.  Because I'm alone and vulnerable and only have a loofah and a ladies' razor for protection from ninja-rapists and/or cucuy.  There have been too many times when I've tried to console myself with escape plans consisting of 'hit him with the jumbo sized conditioner bottle and run.'  As far as escape plans go that's far from comforting.

I was taking a shower tonight and things were going normally:

And then the power when out:

The fight or flight instinct hit pretty hard at this point.  I turned off the shower so I could hear my impending doom and opened the shower door forcefully with the idea of knocking back the ninja-rapist and/or cucuy that was out there so I could run for it.  I hadn't figured out how I was going to find someplace safe and well-lit yet, but that's neither here nor there.

Fortunately, I had a rare moment of dignity saving bravado so when the lights came back on I wasn't curled into the fetal position naked and soapy.

The Boyfriend is aware of my pathological fear of everything and was coming to rescue me with a flashlight.  I had managed to play it cool by dropping the back brush, but proceeded to show exactly how much I was still losing my mind (if the hyperventilating didn't tip him off) by stomping off to find a lighter and lighting all the candles I could find in the bathroom.  That way I could get the conditioner out of my hair with at least some light if the power went out again.

I wonder how long I can stand myself before I absolutely have to take a shower again.  We're about to find out.

When the Boyfriend realized that I was illustrating my trauma he decided that he wanted to play too:

We don't think alike at all.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Illustration Friday - Diary

I didn't start keeping a regular diary until I was in college.  Sometimes it seems like my life before that is written out on my body.

My second and third toes on both feet are crooked from my years in ballet.

The middle of my right forearm aches when it's cold and rainy since I broke it in third grade.

The two scars from the man o' war sting I got the first time I went to the beach when I was 12 have faded.  For a few months after it happened they were the same color as the man o' war's tentacles.

The long thin scar on my inner thigh just above my knee is from the sleepover I had for my fifteenth birthday.  I scratched myself with my fingernail while flailing during a tickle fight.  I never knew fingernails could be so dangerous.

Of course, now it's a collection of fine lines from kittens trying to climb up my legs.  Words I'd never thought I'd say: 'Could you pick this kitten off my butt before it tries to go any higher?'

Playing with New Toys

Brown Sea Nettle

You know how pleased I was with the watercolor instruction book because it had exercises in it that would result in proper paintings while I learned how to use my new paints?  Well, despite that the first thing I did was a quick doodle of a jellyfish so I could color it in.

None of the exercises was of a jellyfish, so obviously my way was better.  Or something.

Had the shakes while I was inking it (damn you caffeine addiction) but other than that I'm pretty pleased with myself.  Still have a rather long way to go, but for a first attempt with proper watercolors it could certainly be worse.  Unfortunately, I can't get the colors true in the photograph, but you can get the idea.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Art Supply Haul

Behold, my materialism!

Despite my ineptitude with watercolors I've decided that I really like them.  So, I need to get better at them.

Went to the craft store today to pick up some real watercolor supplies.  I figured that if I'm going to make a go at this I should do it properly and not use the ancient grade school style palette of watercolors that I do have.  But because this is me I couldn't just stop there.

I like to think that I understand the theory behind using watercolor (I might be wrong about that) but I fail completely and utterly in the execution.  Thus the book.  Instead of the usual drawing basics that most instruction books have and the step by step instructions of 'first you take your pigment....' it has several painting exercises.  Complete pieces done by several artists with their notes on how they did them.  This should keep me reasonably entertained as I'll have a distinct 'prize' at the end of each exercise- a painting that looks like something besides simple shapes.  Thanks for understanding my need for immediate reward, book!

Next were some brushes.  Because I have some acrylic brushes but nothing with fine hair or that were small enough to work in my sketchbook.  Except for one flat brush I stole from my dad's stash for leather dyeing once.  I think I used it for eye shadow.  Sorry, Pater.

And then I was completely distracted from my intended shopping purpose by the drafting supplies.  Yay! technical pencils!  They make me happy.  I also picked up a piece of illustration board because Pater is always bugging me about how I should work bigger.  Now I'll make him something and it'll take ten and a half million years because it's (comparatively) huge.  No idea what it'll be yet, other than big enough.  Hopefully.

And then a new sketchbook.  Because I'm a compulsive book buyer.  I have more notebooks and sketchbooks than I will probably fill in my entire life, but I'll still buy more because they have a pretty cover or lovely paper or come in an interesting shape.  I have a problem.  Someone on the Journal Writing Knitter's group recommended the hand*book journal co.'s books as a less expensive alternative to the Moleskine.  Unfortunately, I noticed after I got it home that the elastic closure on this one was already broken.  Still, if the paper is friendlier to my fountain pens than Mole or the Picadilly I'm currently using to journal then I'll be a happy resa.

And now the watercolors.  I bought the Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors Compact Set.

And here it is, all opened up.  Not the greatest quality on the plastic box, but I'm okay with that.  No sense getting the best of the best if I'm going to get bored of watercolor in a few weeks which is always a possibility.  Love how portable it is.  The few times I actually leave the house this will easily fit into just about any of my purses.

Here's my cheat sheet of what colors came with the set.  Just in case I actually finish off one or more of the pans and want to get replacements.  Also, it gave me a neat excuse to play with it right away.  Like any time I get a new toy the need to have a go immediately after getting the packaging off was strong.

I'm terribly excited about the table top easel.  As are my old lady bones that now protest hunching over a table for extended periods of time.  I'll get some more photos of it once I get it out of the box and set up.  I think we're going to be the best of friends.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Qi Vortex

Austin has a large population of Great-Tailed Grackles.  When a colony comes home to roost it's one hell of an experience.

My freshman year of college I went on a date with a guy who, while seeming perfectly normal if a bit pretentious (to be fair, so was I.  Philosophy undergrad will do that to you.) when I first met him, turned out to be benignly nutty.

Apparently a small-ish colony of grackles called the trees next to the ice cream shop we went to home and while we were there started coming in for the evening.  As they were screaming and swooping and chattering to each other my date starts going on this amazing tirade about how much he hates grackles.  Not the usual complaints of 'they're loud,' or 'they poop a lot on my car,' or 'they drive off the smaller birds,' but about how they were just energy draining.  Being around grackles made this guy exhausted.

Then he said what were perhaps the greatest words I'd thus far heard in my life:

Grackles.  They're, like, Qi vortexes, draining my life force.

Shortly after I had to call it quits and went home.  Because really.  I learned a valuable lesson though.  Never pick up guys in the wee hours at the all night diner.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Illustration Friday - Giant

Since I never draw anything anymore I've decided to hop on board with Illustration Friday, see if that can get my mojo going.

Sleeping in the Hands of Giants

That's Snickerdoodle, one of our foster kittens.  She was found at the dump after falling out of a couch being thrown away.  Because of being underfed she was tiny for her age so had the proportions of an older cat shrunk down to pocket sized dimensions.  Happily she recovered to be a normal looking kitten and has gone on to a loving home.

I thought that I would try watercolor for this but I forgot my almost pathological ineptitude at it.  I need to remember that if I think something will look cool in watercolor it won't with my watercolor.

Totoro: The Next Generation

My friend, being a good auntie, is introducing her niece to the wonderful world of Miyazaki films.  The kid's birthday is coming up and as part of her education in awesome she'll be getting My Neighbor Totoro on DVD.  For a fully interactive experience my friend wanted to give her a plush Totoro to go with it.  After perusing some options what she decided she wanted was something like Lumpy T and asked me to make one for her.

Revisiting the pattern after gaining some crochet skills has been an adventure in 'man, what a difference it makes when you know what the hell you're doing.'

Meet the New Totoro:

He has his own problems because while I might be a lot better at this than I was when I made Lumpy T, I am by no means a crochet super genius.  I'd be hard pressed to call me an anything super genius, but if there was something in which my geniusness was super it wouldn't be crochet.

But still.  Have a helpful comparison shot:

I'd like to point out that I didn't change the pattern in any way- that's the size he's supposed to be. 

Another comparison shot:

I don't want to play favorites.  Lumpy T may be problematic but I love him.  In fact, I'm kind of wishing that I hadn't stuffed the New Totoro quite so firmly- he may avoid lumpiness in the future this way, but he's not nearly as squashable.  Besides, even though Lumpy T's eyes are crazy pinwheels at least I placed them better.

I like to think that while I'm not around Lumpy T and New Totoro will get up to crazy adventures. 

'Whooo Arrrre Yooooou?'

Have fun guys.  At least until New Totoro goes to his new home.  Hope he works out there.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Getting Ideas

The ladies over at Deth Spïralz have been trying their hardest to get me into ice skating.  Unfortunately, I don't understand the Yankee witchcraft of 'frozen water' and so it's been difficult to get me onto the ice and the definition of awkwardness once I'm there.  What's not been difficult is to get me into watching figure skating.  I can do this comfortably in my pjs while sitting on the couch which is a requirement for a lot of my activities.

Here's Johnny Weir wearing thigh high legwarmers and a haramaki.  Because he's awesome.  I'm fascinated by the idea of haramaki, a Japanese belly warmer.  Even though I don't skate, I have, once upon a time, been physically active and can see the usefulness of something that would keep your core nice and toasty while leaving the majority of your torso unencumbered unlike a heavy sweater.  When I was still dancing I would have loved one of these.

Kate and Candice have always been willing to put up with my fiber-related whims and thus they are going to be on the receiving end of my first haramaki.
Here's a fast and dirty paint rendition of what I have in mind.  Have the top sit just under the bust and have the bottom hit the top of the hips, perhaps a little lower.  An inch or so of ribbing at the top and bottom and then at least a couple inches at the back for some simple shaping.  Some big crazy buttons and maybe some colorwork on the stockinette belly and I think it should do it.  Am debating adding a kangaroo pocket for extra fun.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Poor Impulse Control


Like a lot of people I've been watching the World Cup.  But because of my inability to just sit still and watch something on the TV (even for something as quick and exciting as a fútbol match) I needed a simple project that I wouldn't have to look at too much lest I miss an awesome tackle or a spectacular shot on goal.

So, I started a pair of simple toe-up socks.  Something I've done enough that I don't really need to think about it anymore and I can keep knitting at even while yelling for Brazil to get their shit together (spoilers: they didn't.)

Here's another personality tidbit: if I have the option of doing something that I've done before or changing it just enough so that it feels new I'm going to pick 'feels new' every time.

For these socks I decided that a very simple lace pattern up the back of the leg would do nicely for making it seem new.  Unfortunately, like so many things that I do, I didn't think it through all the way.  I tweaked the lace pattern so that it matched my stitch count because I am capable of thinking that far ahead, but didn't take into account that every example I'd seen of this pattern had a reverse stockinette or garter stitch border.

Turns out there's a reason for the border.  I noticed after a couple of repeats (because my eyes were only for Ghana v. Uruguay) that my lace leaves weren't looking very leafy.  After sitting and thinking for much too long about whether I could live with what I had or if I should rip back I ripped back.  Because I had this idea, see, and I wanted it to look like what I thought it would.

I need to find some way to reconcile my impulsiveness with my innate perfectionism.

Friday, July 2, 2010


This is Lumpy T (and Fat Bill, because she loves to get in the middle of project photos.)

Lumpy T was the first thing I'd ever semi-successfully crocheted.  My mom is a champion crocheter and has made many delightful things for me that I never appreciated enough as a kid.  Thanks, Mater.  Despite my mom's crochet aptitude I was never able to do more than make a chain.  I had some sort of weird mental block when it came to single crochet, let alone any of the other stitches.

Then a few years ago amigurumi hit big in the craft world and I Wanted it.  So.  Bad.  My life was incomplete without anthropomorphic food made of yarn and what not.  So, I decided to put on my big girl britches and set to learning how to crochet after 20 something years of failing.

Oh, the determination.  I hid my knitting needles from myself so that I'd be forced to use a hook.  So many tangled messes.  A metric butt ton of chains.  Squares that stretched the geometric definition of 'a shape' let alone 'a square.'  I jumped into making circles, thinking I could use them as coasters, pot holders, funky outfit accessories- the possibilities seemed endless.

Serious increase failure resulted in several tubes closed on one end that I dubbed 'toe cozies' because they fit over my big toe perfectly.  I may have failed spectacularly but I invented a new article of clothing.  Because I don't know about you but there have been many times when just my big toe has needed an extra layer of warmth.  Ok, that's a lie.

Still, it eventually came together and I felt confident enough to try my hand at an amigurumi pattern.  Enter Totoro (pattern available for free here.)

Several things about my so-called crochet skills here: I was pretty much consistently crocheting into the back loop only, I didn't understand that for stuffed animals you want a dense fabric so the stuffing won't poke through, and I had never sewn anything together before.

And thus, Lumpy T took shape.  I ran out of polyfill while stuffing the body and so he's pretty floppy and lumpy, hence the name.  Because of my deep, deep lack of understanding about gauge he ended up rather on the huge side.  And because I had never sewn crocheted fabric together before he has those crazy pinwheel eyes.

He was supposed to be my niece's Christmas present but she rejected him pretty firmly.  He lives at my house at the bottom of her toy box except for when I need a model because Lumpy T can stand still for as long as it takes me to remember how to use the camera (a long time), never judges the amount of photos I have to take to get one that's reasonably in focus, well-lit and has a minimum of my finger in it (a lot), and never blinks or makes funny faces.  Seeing as I have a compulsive need to screw up my face and act like I'm picking my nose when someone tries to take a picture of me this is a definite plus.

Yes, Mater, I know my face will freeze that way.

Best Laid Plans

When I started this blog I intended there to be a minimum of life-related blathering.  Mostly because my life is not an exciting adventure and can best be summed up as, 'Today I watched Law and Order reruns.  Then I farted around on the internet.'  Sometimes kittens are involved.

I've told the Boyfriend this but he doesn't entirely believe me.  Mostly because he knows there's very little I enjoy more than pointing out things he does that I think are funny to other people.  Even if we don't agree on the 'it's funny' part.

I've told you that to show you this:

When I came into the office today I found a couple of notes on several stacked post-its that the Boyfriend left for me last night.  This is the second one.  Because of some not family friendly language I've put the rest of the note after the jump.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Turning a Heel...

... is like magic.  Not rabbit out of a hat magic, but full on Harry Potter 'Heelus Turnus!' magic.  Or maybe Gandalf 'You shall turn' magic.

I don't particularly like doing it, it's fiddly and I have stupid fingers when it comes to needles smaller than about 3.5 mm.  But I still feel pretty awesome once I've done it.

Still flat....

Taking shape....


Yeah, I am that impressed.  On the other hand, I'm very rarely bored.

I'm using Paton's Kroy Socks FX for these in colorway 57210 (blues and greens.)  This is my first time using this yarn and I'm liking it so far.  It's itchier and a bit rougher than other sock yarns I've used but is more squishy than I would have thought.  If it wears well then I'll definitely be using it again because wow, is that a price I can get behind.

Sometimes I Try New Things

And sometimes they go well.

And sometimes they don't.

Having this blog is a new thing that I'm trying.  Since I already spend an unholy amount of time on the internet maybe I can use some of it for generating new content here.  Or maybe I'll continue to watch funny videos on YouTube.  Preferably involving kittens.

I don't know.  It is a mystery.

But here are some kittens!