26 December 2011

A Suitable Hat

Whew! Now that Christmas is over, I finally have some time to relax and blog a bit. I spent the last two weeks working two different temp jobs, learning new things about my physical and mental limits, and even doing a little knitting.

Week One, I worked in a tile factory, sorting tiles and packing them in boxes. I loved the obsessive-compulsive side of it, but discovered that inhaling resin dust while trying to recover from a cold is a Bad Idea, and that what my doctor had thought was just Seasonal Affective features turns out to be the full-blown disorder, capable of landing me in the hospital if left unchecked. I managed to avoid the psych ward, but only just, which is why that job only lasted a week. It's okay, one of my coworkers decided that my car was "too blue," so I've saved her the trauma of having to see it every day.

Week Two, I was a driver's helper for UPS, running packages from the truck to houses all over Ludlow, which is a much bigger town than I thought. I had the best driver (friendly, funny, efficient, safe, and hard-working), met a lot of nice folks, and drooled over every styrofoam cooler with an Omaha Steaks invoice on the lid. Before I showed up for my first day, though, I needed to do some knitting.

The UPS dress code specifies that long hair must be pinned up so it doesn't touch the collar of the jacket, and that any hat must be a dark, netural color. I have turquoise hats, purple hats, baby-blue hats, but nothing in a dark, neutral color that's big enough to fit over a bun.

Thank goodness I'm a knitter, right?

So, naturally, I grabbed some dark brown yarn (Green Mountain Spinnery's Alpaca Elegance in Dark Roast) and cast on for a slightly-bigger-than-normal beanie. I picked Andrea Goutier's Hurricane Hat because it had visual interest without being complicated, I did some quick math to account for the fact that I was using DK instead of worsted, and I got the darned thing finished with about two hours to spare.


There it is on me (pardon the blur), and, so you can see the swirl, on my favorite stuffed animal (his name is Roger and he's an alligator):


We had a couple of nice days during the week, but a couple of icky ones, too (so the hat came in very handy), and I was reminded that I like snow much better than rain. Here are some shots from my last day on the job:

upsrun1 upsrun2

I only fell once, and it wasn't because of ice, it was just that I was exhausted on my last day and those concrete steps were a smidge taller than I thought they were.

Anywho, I survived, and I might even sign up to do it all again next year... but only if I can ride with the same driver. And next year, I'll already have the perfect hat!

24 December 2011


I keep thinking, "I should take pictures and post something!" Then I get home from work, fall over, and don't get up again until the alarm goes off the next morning. I've had two different temp jobs the last two weeks, and while they've both been fun, they've also been exhausting. That by itself would be plenty to keep me from posting, but I've also been sick since I got back from Toronto, and the struggle to breathe and swallow without pain or obstruction has kept me occupied. Now, to top things off, I have a tweaked shoulder and swollen hand (one from repetitive stress, the other from an overly friendly dog), so even knitting is proving difficult.

But now that I've had a full night's sleep and have the prospect of a full week when nobody's hiring, I can recover from the illness, ice the hand and shoulder, go grocery shopping, and get some work done around the house. I hope y'all are having lovely holidays, reconnecting with loved ones, and enjoying yourselves.

12 December 2011

New Job!

I had forgotten how simultaneously good and bad the first day of a new job feels after a stretch of unemployment. On the "bad" end of the spectrum are getting up at 4:30am and having muscles I didn't know existed ache in an evil, throbbing sort of way. On the "good" end are things like finally having a paycheck again, the satisfaction of a solid day's work, and the knowledge that those heretofore unknown muscles will soon be firm and sculpted.

I'm also very glad that my showerhead has a massage setting. I can't knit when I ache like this.

08 December 2011

Bleep Bleep Bloop

In addition to the World Cup t-shirt and the Team England t-shirt (because their logo is awesome) I brought home from Toronto, I also ended up with a cold. It's in the simultaneously-stuffy-and-runny-plus-croaking-throat phase, and it's making productivity difficult, what with the throbbing skull and constant sniffles.

Despite that, I picked up a wee little crochet project that I told myself I'd have finished by March... last March, that is. Better late than never, right? I did actually work up a proof of concept way back then, but never got around to doing the rest of the project.


The new ones will be slightly bigger to allow a rare earth magnet to fit in the base so the fella can stick them to the shelf in his cube.

Why yes, I am a dork! Thanks for noticing!

05 December 2011

South of the Border

The drive home was long and exhausting, but it's finally over. The recaps are up (if I haven't mentioned, the derby blog is here), the furnace is back on, and the cats are thrilled that we're back. Fit To Be Tied #2 is almost finished, several people at the World Cup commented on it, and I'm looking forward to wearing it at all of the cold-weather derby bouts we plan to catch next year.

For now, though, sleep. Well, food and sleep. Haven't eaten since that rest area on the Thruway five hours ago. Eep!

03 December 2011


So when does a hardcore knitter find herself in the Yarn Harlot's city and not make arrangements to meet up with said celebrity? When that hardcore knitter is an even harder-core roller derby fan, that's when.

We're here in scenic Toronto (well, parts of it are scenic... I suppose... if you squint... but then I never was much of a city person) for the Roller Derby World Cup, having a fantastic time, and spending something like fifteen hours a day getting to, watching, and getting back from some of the best roller derby bouts the world has ever seen. I'm knitting between bouts (my second Fit To Be Tied triangular scarf with the leftover yarn from my Can Can mitts... too exhausted to link, and y'all know how to use the little search box at the top of the page), interacting with other crafters (we were joined by our local derby girls today, one of whom is trying to muster the courage to teach herself knitting this winter), and generally enjoying myself despite being in a crowded venue with no natural light and no volume knob.

If you're wondering what I've been working on lately and haven't checked out my Flickr yet, go poke around (link's in the sidebar). There are some made-up-as-I-went-along mitts that are both handspun and hand dyed, there's my first Fit To Be Tied (in yummy alpaca left over from the Celtic Headband), and there's the Harlot's One Row Scarf in some Spunky Eclectic-dyed handspun, too.

You go see the pretties, I'm gonna have some noms and call it a night. Tomorrow: the finals!!!

30 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 30th

Today, I am thankful that it's the end of the month.

It's time to get back to posts about knitting... after I get back from a much-needed vacation. And if any of you are going to the Roller Derby World Cup, see you there!

29 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 29th

Today, I am thankful that I get to come home every night to curl up with my amazing boyfriend.


28 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 27th and 28th

Whoops! I guess I got so distracted yesterday that I forgot to post. I'll make up for it by being thankful for two things today!

Today, I am thankful for my experience in Small Claims Court, as stressful as it was at the time, 'cause it's going to come in handy soon. I am also thankful for the leftovers that are in my fridge, because their presence means I don't have to get groceries for a few more days.

One of the perks of adulthood: mashed potatoes for breakfast! Om nom nom!

26 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 26th

Today, I am thankful that I got to spend a few hours with old friends.

Granted, it meant being a stone's throw from a place with some very bad memories, but enough time has passed that I was able to enjoy the visit without too much stress. It was great to reconnect with people I haven't seen in ages, get some knitting done, and add a few titles to my must-see movie list thanks to one friend's recommendations. All in all, a nice day, and nicer still to come home and curl up with the fella. Life is good.

25 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 25th

Today, I am thankful for leftovers.

And that they're in someone else's fridge. Temptation, begone!

...and we sat down to another Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat...

24 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 24th

Today, I am thankful that Amanda gave me the best sweet potato recipe ever.

It doesn't have marshmallows (thank goodness), but it does have a third of a cup of heavy cream, and lots of brown sugar. It's going to be hard not to just mash my face into the pan when I take it out of the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 23rd

Today, I am thankful for snow that shows up when it should.

Halloween was too early, but Thanksgiving is just right. Now, for a cozy day of knitting, hot chocolate, cuddly cats, and movies. Tomorrow, baking!

22 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 22nd

Today, I am thankful for my new family.

For the first time since my friend Amanda moved away, Thanksgiving is going to feel like a holiday. Nothing like wonderful people gathering together to make me feel less curmudgeonly.

21 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 21st

Today, I am thankful for the clarity that comes with time.

It's amazing what you realize when you've had time to move on and see things in a more realistic context. I've learned that bullies and abusers are really the most fragile, terrified people, but they'll never, ever admit it. I've learned that everybody lies, everybody has trouble remembering things, and that being human isn't something to be ashamed of. I've learned what true forgiveness and love feel like, and that the latter involves frequent reminders while the former doesn't. I've learned that I knew all along what "support" meant, and shouldn't have believed the lies. I've learned that family doesn't have to be a dirty word, and that I can love mine despite what they did to me. I've learned that I am, in fact, a good person, even though I've done some bad things.

And I've learned that I mirror the people around me, and need to surround myself with positive people in order to be a positive person. This is where that imaginary delete button comes in. Bad influences, begone!

20 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 20th

Today, I am thankful for my boyfriend.

He cuddles me when I need it, and doesn't when I want to be left alone. He asks enough questions to show his interest, but doesn't interrogate me. He gets my jokes, and loves my geekiness. He says what I'm thinking, often precisely at the moment I say it, too. He is supportive without being pushy. He is forgiving and patient. He knows that we both need alone time and time with our friends, and that having that time apart lets us enjoy our time together that much more.

He is perfect for me, and I love him very much.

Now if only I could get him to not throw his clothes on the floor. ;-)

19 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 19th

Today, I am thankful for time to myself.

As much as I love to cuddle and do all manner of mundane things with my boyfriend, sometimes I need to just curl up with the cats and a mug of cocoa and zone out for a while. Today is one of those days, and, as if someone were listening to what's going on in my brain, the fella's shooting buddy moved their range time from this afternoon to this morning, so I have the big, sunny house all to myself for a few hours.

Maybe I'll finish that third Capucine.

18 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 18th

Today, I am thankful for my stash.

As much of a pain as it's been to move so much yarn so many times in the last few years, I'm glad now that I went to the trouble. Always having materials to work with is a wonderful thing, especially when money's tight. Just last night I did a little stash diving to find yarn for yet another Capucine hat. I did rip out and re-knit the crown of the second one so it stays on my head now, but the colors in both that and the first one don't quite go with the other knitted things I like to wear. This one's going to be plain grey (recycled Goodwill sweater!) so it won't clash, and I've learned my lesson about trying to modify this particular pattern -- my head really is that big, and there really do need to be that many rows in the crown.

17 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 17th

Today, I am thankful for the delete button.

Sometimes, you just need things out of your life. Credit card offers? Delete. Fake Facebook friend requests? Delete. Male enhancement drug adverts? Delete. Messages from people who don't understand that no means no? Delete.

If only the rest of life had delete buttons... think how much simpler it would be! Unwanted advice from that pesky friend who thinks he knows everything? Delete! Awkward supermarket convo with someone you unfriended a year ago? Delete! Painful memories that always pop up at the worst possible time? Delete!

Someone should write an app for that.

16 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 16th

Today, I am thankful for automated phone answering systems that allow me to talk to a human being when I need to.

'Cause there's no menu option for, "I can't give you the paperwork by the day you expect it because I won't have it by the day you expect it. Alter your expectations."

And to the people who design automated phone answering systems that don't allow people to talk to human beings when necessary? Karma can be rough.

15 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 15th

Today, I am thankful for temp agencies.

Now if the one here were just better staffed so I didn't have to spend 20 minutes on hold every time I called...

14 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 14th

Today, I am thankful to have a yarn store nearby that has a knit night.

Sometimes, I just need to hang with knitters. Y'all understand, I'm sure.

13 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 13th

Today, I am thankful for my health.

It seems like an odd thing to be thankful for today, considering I had an especially painful bit of food poisoning around 2am, but getting through things like that reminds me of how rarely I get seriously sick. Sure, I have chronic pain, a host of mental health issues, and hyper-sensitive digestion, but they seldom lay me up for more than a day at a time. I get a cold maybe once a year, haven't had the flu since high school (and haven't had a flu shot in almost as long), and have learned the warning signs and preventative measures for the one thing that could put me in the hospital if not caught early.

And y'know what? I don't use any of that antibacterial/antimicrobial goop, I wash my hands with indy/handmade soap when they're dirty, and I don't eat anything special to protect myself from illness. I accept germs as part of life, and let my immune system do its job.

But I've just learned that Friendly's "Graham Central Station" ice cream and leftover fettucine alfredo do not combine well in my tummy. Ouchies.

12 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 12th

Today, I am thankful for New England weather.

I know, given the crazy storms and such that have hit the region this year, it's an odd thing to be thankful for. I'm not saying that I'm glad we've had to endure post-apocalyptic living conditions several times this year. That was horrible, and we still haven't really recovered. What I am saying is that I enjoy waking up in the morning and not knowing for sure what each day is going to be like.

Earlier this week it was in the 60s and sunny. Yesterday we had flurries (or a blizzard, depending on how you see such things). It's the time of year when we layer clothes (because the day can go from puffy coat to t-shirt temperature by lunchtime, then back again come dinnertime), make sure there are gloves in every coat pocket and an ice scraper (and shovel, and blanket, and extra washer fluid) in every car, and bring an umbrella everywhere in case of precipitation that's rather more liquid than solid.

Because I don't check the weather report unless it's by accident or I'm planning a long trip, I get to be surprised every day. It's one of those little things that I find so pleasurable about living in New England.

11 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 11th

Today, I am thankful for our armed services.

Setting aside matters of budgets and policy, I appreciate the men and women who protect and serve our country. Thank you all for your sacrifice.

10 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 10th

Today, I am thankful for roller derby.

Back when he was still living in San Antonio, David was one of the photographers for his local roller derby league, and while he never took me to a bout, his pictures and stories planted a seed in my mind.

Years later, I was looking for people to see and places to go, and discovered a hardcore derby fan who told me all about the local leagues. We went to a bout, and I was hooked, both on derby and on him. We've done five-hour round trips to our home teams' away games, we've booked a vacation to Toronto in December for the first ever Roller Derby World Cup, and there's a dedicated section of our closet exclusively for derby shirts.

You've all met football or hockey superfans, well, I'm a roller derby superfan. I dress up for bouts and have signs devoted to my favorite skaters/teams... the signs may or may not have glitter on them. (They totally do!)

And, lest we forget that this is a knitting blog, I have knit derby-related projects, too! Some of the early bouts this year were really cold, so I whipped up some legwarmers in my favorite team's colors (another excellent use for Red Heart, btw), and I started a matching mohawk hat with jammer stars on the side, but haven't gotten around to making the final star yet (they're appliquéd because my obsessive side doesn't like what duplicate stitch does to the proportions of a five-pointed star). The fella even got me a book of derby-related patterns written by roller girls (how awesome is that?), but it's out on loan to a friend who's currently an NSO (that's Non-Skating Official) for her local league.

While I have no interest in skating, I'm thrilled to have this amazing sport in the area, and very excited about the World Cup. And as much as I'd like to say I knit at bouts... I'm usually way too wrapped up in the game to even remember that I brought my knitting with me!

09 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 9th

Today, I am thankful for my family.

My family is always on my mind this time of year. Friday is the anniversary of the day my mother moved out and filed for divorce, and though it's been thirteen years, I can still remember how I felt that day. Even though I've maintained relationships with both parents and see them regularly, I still struggle with the fear and anger and worthlessness that peaked in that family therapy session when Mom made the announcement.

As I've grown up and spent a lot of time working on my own issues, I've realized things about my family's issues that allow me to have relationships with them without sacrificing my own health. I know, for example, that my mother will only contact me if she wants me to do something for her. That doesn't mean that she doesn't care what's going on in my life, just that she doesn't know how to feel comfortable asking how I'm doing without making some other, more practical request at the same time.

I know that my sister, who is so much like our mother that she can't actually have a relationship with her, got all of the drive and motivation that I lack. She works hard, studies like crazy, and gets stellar grades in some seriously tough classes because she has a plan for her future, and she's not going to let anything get in her way. Our relationship is strained at times because we see the world in such different ways (her cynicism is as beneficial to her as my optimism is to me), but I know that when the chips are down, we come through for each other.

I know that my father and I will never have a loving relationship, but that doesn't stop us from trading jokes and keeping each other updated on the mundane goings-on in our lives. The abuse he suffered as a child was passed on to me, and while I know he never intended to hurt me and probably doesn't even understand that he did, that pain stands in the way of me truly accepting him as a father. Still, he's appreciative when I make his favorite meals, and he's financially supported me far beyond what most parents would consider reasonable, so I do value his presence in my life.

Despite my family's dysfunctionality, I'm thankful to have them. They've taught me a lot, even if most of it is how not to be, and I keep learning new things about myself because of them. They're nowhere near perfect, but they're mine.

08 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 8th

Today, I am thankful for frogging.

Because some projects just need to be ripped out.

07 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 7th

Today I am thankful for Aleve, without which I would not have been able to get out of bed this morning.

Still can't do much now that I'm out of bed, but hey, I made it this far, and that's awesome.

06 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 6th

Today, I am thankful for what my mother taught me about cooking.

My mother isn't the best cook in the world. She tends to be scared of both flavor (except curry) and disease, so she boils everything beyond recognition and doesn't use seasoning. That said, she did teach me a lot about how to put a meal together, and what staples to always have in the pantry to get me through lean financial times.

Her meal guidelines look a lot like the old food pyramid: start with a grain (pasta, rice, bread), add a serving of protein (usually some form of meat), then pick one green vegetable and one red/orange/yellow vegetable, and maybe a little something sweet for dessert. Following this plan, my pantry always has a variety of grains (pasta, rice, and couscous) and some shelf-stable protein (lentils, canned tuna), my freezer is stocked with veggies (Hannaford's fiesta blend is becoming one of my favorites) and meat (sausage freezes well), and there's always enough flour/sugar/baking powder to bake up something tasty.

And for the flavor and techniques, well, that's why I used to watch a lot of cooking shows before I went TV-free. Alton Brown taught me the science, Graham Kerr (both as the Galloping Gourmet and in his more recent, health-conscious work) taught me the flavors, Jamie Oliver taught me to relax and have fun, and Anthony Bourdain taught me how to appreciate the meal as an experience.

Oh, and Gordon Ramsay taught me that some people are just jerks and should be ignored, but that has very little to do with cooking.

I suppose I could summarize my mother's food-related lessons like this: plan your meals a week at a time, use as few pots as possible (because the dishwasher only holds so much), make it balanced, and always have something to fall back on. After all, you never know when the power's going to go out (in which case, having a gas stove helps, but so does having a couple cans of tuna and a manual can opener), that pound of beef you were counting on is going to turn out to be freezer-burnt (I think Mom has venison in her freezer from two presidents ago, so this is more of a risk for her than for normal people), or you're suddenly going to have hungry family members pouring in from distaster-stricken areas (as happened a week ago, and boy, was I glad to have put a few pounds pulled pork in the crock pot that morning).

Speaking of food, it's about time to go grocery shopping. What staples do you keep in your pantry for emergencies?

05 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 5th

Today, I am thankful for Red Heart Super Saver.

Blasphemy, I know, but when I need a basic worsted weight yarn to test out a pattern that I'm probably going to rip out an hour later anyway, my first dive is into the bin labeled "acrylic." Last night, for example, I was considering my costume for tonight's roller derby bout, and was leaning toward something steampunk, but I lacked spats suitable for the boots I wanted to wear. I grabbed a ball of Red Heart and some needles, sketched out my plan, did a cheater-swatch, did some math, and cast on. I only got a few inches into it before I realized that a) my swatch/math had been wrong, b) there was no way I could get a pair of spats done by the appointed time, and c) I was, by that point, leaning more toward a renfaire-style costume anyway.

Still, the Red Heart came in very handy, and suffered the frogging with no ill effect. If I'd completed the project, those would have been the hardest-wearing spats a gal could hope for, and I could just toss them in the laundry if they got muddy. So while I won't be casting on for an acrylic sweater any time soon, Red Heart Super Saver does have its uses, and I'm glad it exists.

04 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 4th

Today, I am thankful for the internet.

Despite the trolls and stalkers, despite the wackos who have entire websites devoted to their tinfoil hat construction techniques, despite the fact that anonymity lets people feel free to say things they probably wouldn't say to somebody's face, I still love the internet.

I can check in with friends and family at a moment's notice, without having to use the phone (which doesn't seem like a scary thing until you have a hearing disability) or wait for a letter to arrive. I can research almost anything without having to wait for inter-library loan to come up with the one obscure text I'm looking for. I can limit my exposure to things like Lindsay Lohan's legal troubles, my abusive stalker's unsolicited emails, and anything relating to Michelle Bachman's hair, making my surfing experience that much more pleasurable.

And the best thing about the internet?

It has Ravelry.

'Nuff said.

03 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 3rd

Better late than never, eh? I was so excited at the prospect of insulating our windows this morning (yes, really, I'm weird like that) that I completely spaced on the whole blog thing and didn't remember until I was headed out for the afternoon, which brings me to my purpose:

Today, I am thankful for my friends.

One of the benefits of being unemployed is that I suddenly have time to go visit all of the far-flung friends I've missed while I was busy with work. This evening I caught up with a friend who I haven't seen since the last time there was snow on the ground (hey, now, no Vermont jokes, we do have summer up here) because she lives an hour and a half away, and most of the road to get to her place washed away during Irene. The plan was to fill each other in on the last two seasons of activity, cook dinner, and veg in front of the telly for a bit (I even brought knitting to work on).

The best laid plans, and all that...

Shortly after my arrival, one of her far-flung friends called to say he and company were in town, and would a group trip to the local diner work for us? Well, naturally! So we had some delightful company, the best mac-n-cheese a restaurant can provide, and rousing conversation about pens, firearms, Utilikilts, Angry Birds, and bar cats, among other things. Despite the change of plans, it was still precisely the type of cozy evening I'd been craving, and I'm very glad that I finally had the opportunity for it.

Speaking of friends, if any of you had given me your contact info, or if you hadn't but want me to have it, please drop me an email. My cellphone went for a swim the other day and my SIM card shorted out, so I need to rebuild my personal phonebook. My provider tells me I can transfer my old number to the new phone and card (task #1 tomorrow morning), so you won't have to change my info in your records, but I'd love to be able to call all of you fine folks once again.

And this time, I'm duplicating every record on paper. Modern tech is great, but ancient tech is far more reliable.

Night, all. Dream yarny dreams.

02 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 2nd

Today, I am thankful for Vermont Public Radio.

I don't have television, I don't read the news online, and I don't read the paper. Instead, I have the local TV station on my Facebook feed for hyper-local news, and I listen to VPR for everything else. My imagination is fertile enough that I can picture the places and situations I hear about on the radio without having video or pictures thrown at me, and because the stories on VPR come from a variety of sources, I feel better informed and don't get bored with the same news loop being replayed every 15 minutes.

Listening to VPR is also a coping mechanism for me. Being slightly obsessive-compulsive means that there's constant chatter going in my head (along with constant music), and if I don't have something engaging to listen to, I get stuck thinking the same things over and over again. Most commercial radio stations only make this worse, because they play the same songs over and over again (especially the stations that restrict themselves to a particular era) and the DJs and commercials are so inane as to drop my attention instantly.

There's a reason I set my computer's MP3 player to shuffle through three thousand tracks, and why my music collection is so varied. I never know what I'm going to be in the mood for, and I don't want to hear the same song twice in a week.

That's another wonderful thing about VPR -- it has separate frequencies devoted exclusively to classical music, and some of the shows focus on genres I don't know very well (like pipe organ music) or test listeners by merging one composer's tune with another's style, which is great exercise for the brain. Coming from the land of WFCR, which mixes news and classical, it's wonderful to be able to decide which I'd rather listen to at any time of day.

Which reminds me, it's time to break out the RCA cables, get my hi-fi set up, and decide where the speakers are going to go in the craft room. Then I'll see if my little radio receiver gets a clear signal out here in the boonies.

01 November 2011

Giving Thanks, November 1st

Every morning this month, as I sit at my desk eating my breakfast yogurt, I'm going to think about all the things for which I am thankful, and I'm going to share one of those things here on the blog. I tend to think too much about the problems in my life and too little about the benefits, so this will be good practice for me, and maybe it will even inspire someone out there to do something similar.

Today, I am thankful for uninterrupted sleep.

My job and I have just parted ways, and as soon as it was official, I found myself finally able to relax. I hadn't realized just how tense I'd been, and how scared I was to go to work every morning. Just a week ago I was having trouble falling asleep. I would wake up a few times a night in a panic about work, and struggle to get back to sleep amid the chatter in my mind. Now, my sleep is peaceful, I wake up rested and optimistic about the day, and I feel very productive (which is good, because job hunting takes a LOT of work!).

Like Martha says, sleep: it's a good thing!

What are you thankful for today?

22 October 2011

Rhinebeck, the Move, and Everything

Holy neglected blog, Batman! In my defense, I've been working and moving house and visiting friends and going to Rhinebeck and knitting, so I haven't had a lot of time for blogging. Now it's time to catch y'all up! Grab a cuppa before you start, 'cause this is gonna take a while.


I'm almost finished (or at least that's what I'm telling myself -- five moves worth of culling and leaving things behind, and I still have way too much stuff that I don't want to give up) moving from my cozy urban (for Vermont) attic apartment to a roomy house that, while not far from the beaten path, is remote enough to be on a rural postal route. The fella and I are blending our households, which means twice as much stuff, twice as many cats, and a closet devoted exclusively to high heels and firearms (heels mine, guns his). We also have a room for crafts (with a door!) that's off-limits to the cats, meaning both the fiber and the model airplanes can frolic in the open without fear of feline intervention. We're very, very happy with the new place, and looking forward to being completely moved in so we can start enjoying our weekends again.


In the Spring, I thought I might be going to Rhinebeck this year. By the summer, I was worried I wouldn't be able to afford it. A few weeks ago, though, I realized that the stars were aligning in just the right way so I could make the trip and even have a little fun money, so I got in touch with my bestest fiber buddy, Jenny, and we made plans. I came down Saturday night, catching-up was done, hilarity was had, Red vs Blue was watched, and then Sunday morning she and Angie and I went off to the festival. Sheep were pet, fiber was fondled, friends were hugged, money was exchanged for pretties, and the bestest diner food ever was nommed at the Eveready Diner (now within sight of the fairgrounds!!!)... just another Rhinebeck, y'know? I came home with a hand-thrown mug from Brier Street Pottery, four bars of soap from Simpler Thyme, four ounces of undyed Pollworth/silk from The Sheep Shed (which I want Dan from Gnomespun to dye for me), and a bag of maple cotton candy. It was a good Rhinebeck, spent with excellent people, and I'm looking forward to next year.


One of the joys of having a job with an official lunch break is that I get way more knitting done than I used to. The Rose of England shawl was my lunch knitting project for a while, but I've needed some instant-gratification projects to balance out its monotony lately, so... there have been hats.


This is the Druidess Beret by Anna Bright, knit up in Green Mountain Spinnery's Alpaca Elegance in Ceylon. Sadly, the finished hat doesn't look especially flattering on me, but it was lots of fun to knit.


A Ravelry friend mentioned having made this hat for a swap, and I fell in love with the pattern instantly, so I made one...


...and then I made another! The second one I tried to modify a bit, and it didn't work out the way I wanted, so I'm thinking about ripping back and trying again, since I like the yarn combo so much. The first Capucine (by Adela Illichmanova) is three fingering-weight wools from two different commercially-made sweaters (yay, recycling!) held together. The second is a combination of my handspun (Sheep Shed merino/tencel in "Dusk" chain-plied to worsted weight) and Green Mountain Spinnery's Mountain Mohair in Raspberry (I think it was extra-light and I doubled it). I may make a few more of these before the first snow, if I can find/spin the right yarn.


Okay, not a hat, but still something to keep me toasty as the weather gets chilly. This is just a bias-knit piece that I cast on and knit without thinking about it. The buttons were an afterthought to make the seam look more like a design element than an eyesore. It's two strands of Malabrigo worsted held together: white with teal and white with purple. The teal is left over from my Mother of Invention hat and the purple is left over from the tassel hat I made for David (Sweater Project) a while back.

There's also a scarf that I made over Rhinebeck weekend from some handspun BFL (from Spunky Eclectic) using the Harlot's One Row Scarf pattern, but I haven't gotten around to taking pics yet.

*whew!* Okay, now that we're all caught up, I'm going to wander off for another month and leave y'all in suspense about the scarf. I'm evil like that. Happy knitting!

18 September 2011


I've seen this making the rounds on Ravelry and some blogs lately, and since I'm too sleep-deprived for a real post (not to mention distracted by the free live stream of the WFTDA East Region Playoffs), doing this meme seems like a good idea.

Bold means I've done it, italics means I want to. Here we go...

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn (well, 50 camel/50 tussah)
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down (gloves, actually)
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Sweater (it's almost finished! really!)
Drop stitch patterns (swatched, meh)
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own hand-spun yarn
Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garment
Cable stitch patterns
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Participate in an exchange
American/English knitting
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s hand-spun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching someone how to knit (I suck at this. Srsly.)
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch
Knitted flowers
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards (getting there...)
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Free-form knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/arm-warmers
Pillows (halfway there...)
Knitting a pattern from an on-line knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public
Russian join
Knit a hoodie (started one, never got past the sleeve)
Follow a chart
magic loop knitting (eww)

Wow. So does that mean I'm not a beginner anymore? ;)

PS. The red was too dreary, so I switched to a happy green. I think I'm done with the tinkering for a while. Maybe.

08 September 2011


It was time for a change, y'all. I hope it's not to jarring. Tell me what you think! Unless you hate it, in which case I don't want to know.

(Kidding! Tell me anyway!)

Srsly, d00d...

After such a heavy post, it's time for a little lightness. But it's me, and I'm having a bad week, so it's grumpy lightness. You've been warned.

Dear Google,

Okay, so what's with the constant redesigning of the iGoogle page? First you turned a perfectly usable toolbar from white to black, which forced me to change my theme to something that I really don't like, but that doesn't look terrible with the new color. Then, you altered the GMail gadget's looks, but... only in Chrome. The Firefox version is still neat and trim, but the Chrome version, which I use on my laptop, is chunky and hideous. Now you've turned a neutral grey button into a BRIGHT BLUE one that doesn't work with *any* theme, and the whole mess is off-center, presumably to piss off those of us who are just a wee bit obsessive-compulsive.

So what's the deal? Is the design team off its Ritalin? Are you trying to keep things "fresh" and "dynamic" like the marketing guys told you to, forgetting that one should usually do exactly the opposite of what the marketing guys say? Are you deliberately trying to tank your company by pissing people off to the point where they stop using your service?

Whatever the reason, could you please just stop it? I'd like to have a few months to get used to a look before you go screwing it up again. Please?

Grumpy Girl

29 August 2011

The Aftermath

Irene was down to being a tropical storm by the time she got to New England, but that didn't stop her from doing a TON of damage. I'm one of the lucky ones -- never lost power, no flooding, no wind damage. But based on the pictures I'm seeing and the people I'm hearing from, I'm in the minority.

The route to the fella's house was closed in at least three places this morning, two have since been cleared, but the last one I know of (the Agency of Transportation isn't keeping their map updated, so there may be more) is a major washout on a divided highway, and unlikely to be fixed any time soon.

Many of Vermont's picturesque covered bridges are gone or in pieces. Several towns are cut off from everything, including emergency services. Even the emergency services headquarters had to move mid-storm because of flooding. Crops are ruined, houses are falling apart, roads are gone, cars and propane tanks and decks are floating downriver, and several people have drowned because they got too close to the flooding.

The Red Cross and FEMA are out there along with local emergency personnel trying to put the state back together, but it's going to take a long time. Just getting a couple of temporary roads built so emergency services and utility repair crews can get to our now-isolated towns will take a week. There are volunteer groups offering to hike into places where vehicles can't go to deliver supplies or walk people out.

It's a mess. If you're able, please donate to the Red Cross in Vermont.

28 August 2011

Stormy Weather

Irene's been drenching this part of Vermont for about twelve hours now. It's steady, uneventful, monsoon-type rain, as opposed to the more variable showers or thunderstorms we're used to.

In other words, it's dull. I'm almost looking forward to the tropical storm winds just to mix things up a little, even though it means we'll probably lose power. While we're still getting juice, though, I'm enjoying its benefits. The kettle's on, Pandora's pumping wartime tunes to my studio, and I'm knitting by the warm glow of CFLs.


Rose of England, because of the absurd number of stitches per row near the end, both feels like it's almost finished, and like I still have ages to go. I'm eight rows from the end, not counting the crocheted edging, but those eight rows contain a little over ten thousand stitches. That's almost an eighth of the total stitch count for the project.

I keep telling myself that the end result will be so awe-inspiring that it'll be worth the frustration of the end being so near and yet so far. I'm not sure I believe it, but I'm trying.

Tommy Dorsey is helping.

17 July 2011

Gonna Rip It Up...

Remember how last year I started an ambitious lace project, a circular shawl called Rose of England? It was in hibernation for a while, since the rows were getting long (~1200 sts each) and I was never in one place long enough to remember where I was, let alone make any progress, but I hauled it back out recently and have been giving it a lot of attention. I had done about half a dozen post-hibernation rows as of last week, when I hit a snag. Starting a new pattern row, I got into the third of 40 repeats in that row and realized that in the previous pattern row, I'd screwed up over half the repeats in a way that couldn't be fixed on the fly.

I had to rip back. Two rows. Almost 3000 stitches, total.

Did I mention this is fairly complex lace? (For those of you who've made it, I was in Part G where the leaves start branching out.) There are YOs and SL2, PSSOs and all manner of other holes and bunches (no nupps, thank goodness), and I'd spent hours wrestling with the last mistake I made (somehow removing an entire repeat in a netting-like section and not realizing it until the next chunk of solid patterning started), so I wasn't exactly enthusiastic about having to fix this one.

Over the course of two or three lunch breaks, I meticulously picked up stitches with the same needle that was in the rest of the piece (because I only have one US#2 that long), working my way around, dropping stitches off one end of the circ after I had picked up below the error. And y'know what?

It worked perfectly.

I was terrified as I unraveled the two dropped rows, hoping I'd managed to catch every stitch at the correct point in the pattern, but it turns out I've been at this knitting thing long enough that I do, miraculously, know what I'm doing.

Since then, I've re-knit those two rows (paying close attention to the pattern this time), and am back where I was, ready to continue. Only another two dozen rows until this sucker is finished!

I'm trying very hard to forget that two dozen rows works out to something like 30K stitches. It's not working, but I'm still trying.

30 June 2011

Blocking Bolero

It figures that I have to be seriously under the weather for a day or two in order to post about knitting. Boo, sick, but yay, blogging!

Leading up to New Hampshire Sheep & Wool in May, I knew I'd be working the event and knew I wanted to show off some knitting, so I started a quick-and-easy project thinking I'd have plenty of time to get it done. As with everything I've ever tried to do on a deadline, I heard that whooshing sound Douglas Adams used to talk about, and had to pull a backup plan out of the closet. I ended up wearing my Tangerine shawl over black (looked awesome, if I do say so myself) and working on the other project at the show. That other project was bound off a few days later, and then hibernated until I had the time to block it (and babysit to make sure the cats didn't kill it while it dried), which ended up being today.

This is the Ribbed Lace Bolero by Kelly Maher, and it's probably going to be my new favorite thing to throw on over a tank top on chilly summer evenings.


It's aaaaaaalmost dry, and I'll probably seam it tonight before I pass out. Kira, the troublemaker, spent the day investigating the blocking process, and finally got the hint (with help of squirt bottle) that she could be next to the project but not on it, so I forgave her when she shifted in her sleep and crossed the boundary a little.


The edges of the bolero are bowed out like that because I didn't like how closed the lace looked when the edges were straight. The little bit of extra length will be on the "sleeves" and should keep my arms a smidge warmer.

I've also finished (but not blocked) a scarf/wrap thing that I'll tell you all about... some other time. Meanwhile, I'm hoping I'll feel well enough to go back to work tomorrow, and then Saturday the fella and I are off to a Tour de Fleece kickoff party, even though I'm not doing the competition. Any excuse to see my CT SnB buddies!

19 June 2011

Food Fury

Warning: There is no knitting content in this post. I'm furious about something else, and want to share my fury with all of you in the hope that it may inspire change.

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution is am amazing movement. With childhood obesity reaching epidemic proportions, along with childhood diabetes and other diet-related chronic illnesses, there needs to be a paradigm shift in how we feed our children, both at school and at home. Educating students, parents, and staff face-to-face in the schools is a great way to make that change happen. Filming that education and broadcasting it on national television is another excellent way to make it happen. Re-learning how to feed our children (and the rest of us) is an obvious, critical step toward improving the health of our country.

So why in hell are school districts making this impossible?

School boards are trying to prevent Jamie from coming into their schools and making changes because they fear bad publicity. They're afraid of Jamie pointing out that the average American school lunch is packed with empty calories and preservatives, and utterly lacking in the nutrients necessary for healthy bodies. They're afraid that if Jamie broadcasts anything negative about their school lunch programs, that parents will stop having their children buy lunches at school, and revenues will fall.

This. Is. Bullshit.

There are schools that are providing healthy, locally-grown, freshly-prepared food for their students, and doing it in a cost-effective way. There are schools that are educating students and parents about nutrition so the diet changes extend to the home kitchen. There are families whose lives have been improved dramatically for the better thanks to Jamie and his show.

It can be done. It is being done, but it's also being opposed, and that's what scares me. As long as there are people actively inhibiting such a beneficial project, we, as a society, have more work to do.

Start here. Sign the petition, find out what you can do on a local level, and make this change happen. Watch episodes on Hulu to see exactly what Jamie is doing, and get ideas that you can use at your school and at home.

Don't wait for someone else to raise the subject, and don't let the school board tell you that it can't be done, that it's too expensive, or that the pre-processed, long-distance, preservative-laden food they're serving is healthy enough.

Nearly two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese (a percentage which is almost identical in Vermont, by the way -- we're not as healthy a state as we think), and the kids who are in grade school now will add to that statistic in the next dozen years. Change the eating habits of our children today, and the adults of tomorrow will be healthier. Simple as that.

I'm gonna go try to calm down now.

05 May 2011

Beatrix (after the Queen, not the lady who wrote about bunnies)

So, I have a new job. After a year with the Spinnery, things just weren't working out, so I decided to move on. A perfect opportunity fell into place just when I needed it, and I finally have a job that makes me happy, pays the bills, and doesn't send me home covered in machine oil. It does occasionally send me home with blisters, but that's because I got so darned excited about learning a new task that I didn't stop when things started hurting.

The groovy folks I work for now are, naturally, fiber people. They've been doing some cleaning/destashing lately, which has led to me expanding my collection of fiber tools. I've been given a Kundert spindle, a lignum vitae crochet hook, and... drumroll, please...


...this! Her name is Beatrix (because all of my wheels must have names beginning with B... for no particular reason), and I haven't done anything but clean off the dust so far. The footman is a replacement and needs some tweaking, and the pedal isn't going to see much use before it needs to be replaced, but aside from that, this wheel is in very good shape, and I almost don't care how it spins because it's so pretty.

I've been doing some knitting and crocheting, but haven't managed to take pics of the projects yet. Maybe soon... maybe.

04 April 2011


Tidying up after dinner, I'm about to pick up my knitting when he pulls our fortune cookies out of the take-away bag and hands one to me. Fortune cookies have been good to me over the last year or two (they may not deliver the good things they promise, but the promise makes me feel better), so I'm especially curious to see what this cookie has to say. He looks at his, and remarks, "I think I got yours."


So I show him mine.


Then we can't breathe for about two minutes because we're laughing so hard.

When we finally recover, I pick up the WIP of the day and get a few rows done. This is going to be a hooded mantle with liripipe (that is, a long hood with an even longer tail), and it's made from some rejected yarn from work. We'd been having trouble keeping the drive gear on the spinning frame engaged, and if said gear drops out, the yarn keeps getting twisted but doesn't wind onto the bobbins, so we have to either break every end and tie lots of knots, or re-start with fresh bobbins. This particular mishap was maybe 30 yards into a new bobbin, so I made lots of little balls of yarn and re-started the set. That yarn would have been thrown in our reject box, but I knew I could do something cool with it, so I took it home. This is what it looks like now:


The center of the hood is going to be steeked (my first time... yikes!), and there will be cabled borders both around the face and around the hem.


It's very dense and should fit snugly. I've designed it to protect me from the various meteorological anomolies that pop up during faire season, like cloudbursts and blizzards, so I've knit it with two strands of Sylvan Spirit (a DK-weight yarn) on my US#7 ebony needles. It's practically armor.

I'm going to take my quiet and unobtrusive nature and go back to my knitting.

21 February 2011

Time For A Change

Holy cow, I've been neglecting this poor blog, haven't I? I keep telling myself I'll find time to post, and then life gets in the way. I think it's about time that I resign myself to the idea that I'm never going to get back to regular posts... when I have a few minutes and a few pictures, I'll put something up, but I can't promise anything close to a schedule anymore. It's probably just as well -- even in the depths of Vermont's Snowpocalypse, I'm getting out of the house pretty frequently and having something close to a normal life, and if fewer blog posts is the price I pay for that normalcy, I'm okay with it.

Knitting has been happening in small amounts, but it's either secret projects or things that will look cool when they're finished but currently just resemble lumpy blobs of string, so I can't share much with you. I've also been very bad about taking pictures of things, but I think I cured that dry spell by shooting a roller derby game last Saturday, so keep an eye on my Flickr in the next few weeks. There might (just might) be some knitting to be seen.

Hope y'all are enjoying the chilly season as much as I am. It's perfect knitting weather!