bunrab: (me)
That's what Frederick calls their county fair. I won't say it was great, but it was a reasonable amount of fun. Frederick is a far more agricultural county than Montgomery, but it didn't have more animals - fewer horses than either Montgomery or the State Fair. Sheep, well, everyone seems to have plenty of sheep and goats and dairy cattle, and there was no shortage here. A decent size poultry barn, not quite the size of Montgomery but certainly far better than the state fair; Sebrights seemed to be one of the fancy chickens of choice, and there were a few of those funny crested ones, and one called a Phoenix because of its tail feathers - looks vaguely like insect antennae to me - and a few Mille Fluiers (why they have to spell that so oddly for chickens, I don't know) which have lovely polka dots. A little pool full of baby ducks paddling around. The rabbits were a disappointment - the entire rabbit section consisted of three lionheads, half a dozen himalayans, and two Jersey Woolies. I will say, Larry is beginning to be able to recognize rabbit breeds; I guess I'm having a bad influence on him. He really goes for the lionheads every time, so I'm guessing that my next rabbit, once Fern is no longer with us, will be a lionhead. (Fern is still going strong - she was approximately 10 years old in approximately April, and she's doin' fine. Skinnier and eating a bit less than when she was younger, but vigorous and bright-eyed.)

Over by Dairy Cattle there was a "Birthing Center" with baby pigs and cows a couple days old, and a couple very pregnant cows waiting to drop any second. Cute pile o' baby pigs!

The Home Arts was somewhat bigger than Montgomery, though nowhere near the State Fair. More quilts than Montgomery, by far, including a couple that I'm pretty sure were in the State Fair. The display of the quilts wasn't good though - most of them were folded far too small. I think you have to be able to see at least 1/4 of a quilt to appreciate it at all, and many of these were folded and hanging over racks against the wall so that you could only see an eighth or a twelfth of the quilt. A lot more crocheted things than Montgomery, too. Many really nice crocheted afghans. Lots and lots and lots of baked goods - we wandered through them counting the Rice Krispies treats (none of those won any awards, amazingly enough). The decorated cakes were pretty cool, including one with so many flowers on it that I pretty much had to just take their word for it that there was a cake under there. And loooooots of canned stuff  - relishes and pickles and veggies (didn't see much jam or jelly at all, come to think of it) - and more relish and more pickles, pickled beets and watermelon pickle and oh, how you can tell this is the 21st century, lots and lots of salsa. I'm thinking that a county as pasty-white as Frederick probably didn't have a lot of salsa entries in the canning category a generation ago. One thing here that I hadn't seen at Monty or the State Fair was quite a few skeins of hand-spun and hand-dyed yarn, including one that was one of the Best in Show winners overall for home arts. And several of the sewing entries were historical costumes.

Free tote bag from someone in the Commercial building, and quite a few free pencils from both Commercial and the Farm & Home building (where the various state and county farm-related agencies have booths, and the Dept of Natural Resources, and so on.) And we stopped and wound up talking to the ladies at the Grange booth for quite a while, and Larry bought the Maryland Grange Cookbook. Larry's grandfather had belonged to the Grange in Pennsylvania.

I forget what the pavilion was called that had a few animals to be petted - two alpacas, possibly the same ones that were at Montgomery, 2 miniature horses, a mother and her six-month old colt, a couple of smallish burros, bunch of geese, one grumpy turkey. Pygmy goats.

One way you could tell that Frederick is more ag than Montgomery or the state as a whole is how much of the space was devoted to the farm machinery exhibits - big chunk of land, lots of other things besides tractors - big metal feeders, things we didn't even recognize... and lots of space devoted to vendors of various sheds and pole buildings. Those were nice, chances to step into some shade and rest. Oddly enough, for the kids' stuff, far more 4-H than FFA - I would have thought that FFA would have a bigger presence here.

And as expected, being several weeks later in the year than the other fairs, the giant pumpkins were in fact much, much larger. Not as large as the Massachusetts State Fair, but way larger than any of the earlier fairs in Maryland - the champion here was 220 pounds. (I don't recall any at the State Fair being over 90 pounds.) And lots more of the small gourds and squashes than the earlier fairs, including some of the largest pattypan squash I have ever seen. Just for fun, a decorated potato contest - the one we liked best was half a dozen potatoes dressed up as Minions. Most of the potatoes were in dioramas to add to the effect, thought there was one potato decorated as a chicken that was good in its simplicity  - the potato had grown pretty much in a chicken shape, with neck and head at one end and a tail-ish point at the other; all the kid did was add eyes and a beak and a bit of color.

We wound up not buying any food - I think we were already fair-fooded out for the season - just some iced tea. We cut our browsing through the Midway a bit short because I was exhausted and Larry had an allergic reaction to something, we have no idea what, that made his hands puff up. They went down again in a couple hours, but it was certainly mysterious. Something someone was using to groom their sheep or cow? Something in the finish on a pole building? Anyway, we even resisted the candy maze guy - we still have candy left from the last two fairs anyway.

Overall: handicapped parking is very good, there's lots of parking, admission price reasonable, a decent fair experience though most of the entertainment was going to be just harness racing, no big acts. Very good on the produce-and-canning areas, decent showing of crochet and quilting, adequate on the animals and that birthing center was a nice touch; relatively small amount of "commercial" outside of the farm machinery and farm supplies areas. Worth spending an afternoon at if you're in the area, though probably not worth driving 50 miles to if you've got your own county fair nearer by. (Actually only about 35 miles from either my or Larry's place.) Since the Howard County fair (the county where I live) is pretty darn small, I will continue to regard the Montgomery County one as my go-to fair, of all those I've been to here so far.  Yes, I have to admit it, though I hate saying anything nice about Texas, but the State Fair of Texas is in fact a damn good state fair, better than the one here. I am NOT, however, going to travel 1400 miles each way to go to that Fair every year!
bunrab: (me)
Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers. Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

Wow, I don't really have a favorite tool, honestly. I have a fairly large knitting bag - some friends refer to it as my "war zone" knitting bag, since it is made of the kind of industrial orange Kevlar-ish fabric that professional photographers used to haul their equipment in, when they were visiting such places - but it's not my favorite thing, the way my friend Angela's new messenger bag with a Tardis on it is her new favorite thing. And while I like having a swift and a ball winder, they aren't really favorite things, either. I like my interchangeable needles from KnitPicks - thank you, Larry! - but again, to call them my favorite knitting tool would be to exaggerate. I don't use any one tool or thing so intensively that I could call it a favorite. Nor do I have any one tool I recommend that everybody just has to get and try for themselves. (That's often how I decide to answer the question of my "favorite book" - which one have I been boring everybody to tears by repeatedly insisting they have to read it?)

However, there is something I do frequently wind up recommending to other crocheters, and that's that they investigate the difference between Susan Bates-style crochet hooks and Boye crochet hooks. I personally find that I crochet much better, faster, more even tension and control, less yarn-splitting, with Bates hooks. Many people don't even realize there are different styles of heads on crochet hooks, and that depending on how one happens to hold one's hook, and one's hand size, and preferred types of yarn, the different heads on different crochet hooks can make a huge difference in how easy and comfortable crocheting feels. Boye heads are pointier, and taper gradually down the length of the hook and the throat; Bates heads are less pointy, and the tapering to full width is almost immediate, so that the throat is the same width, all the way along it, and the hook part of the hook is also the same width as the throat. This probably won't make sense to you just trying to imagine it, but go look at them in the store, and compare one of each kind, and you'll see what I'm talking about. I'm not saying that the Bates is necessarily better for everyone, but if you constantly get annoyed using one kind, because poking the head through the stitches seems difficult, or you frequently find yourself splitting yarn, try the other kind and see if that makes a difference.

If it's any help, I use a "knife" hold on my hooks; I don't know whether the use of knife hold versus pen hold affects which kind of head one feels more comfortable with. But it may be a factor. Since many people have noted that I crochet fairly fast (not Guinness Book fast, never been interested in trying for that, but fast) and that I can crochet in the dark, or while otherwise looking at something else entirely, I don't think there would be any point to going to a pen hold I'm not comfortable with, just to try hooks again that I don't like, to see if it makes a difference.

Most of the wooden crochet hooks I've seen - mass-produced bamboo ones, hand-made ones out of exotic woods - have had Bates heads. They may be easier to turn (as in, on a lathe) than the tapering Boye heads, perhaps that's why - but I have seen a very few Boye-style hand-made hooks, so it's obviously not impossible. If you are considering buying someone you know a fancy handmade hand-carved ebony crochet hook as a gift, it would certainly be worth finding out which type of head they prefer first; it would be a shame to spend that much money on one crochet hook and then have the recipient not enjoy using it.

This post will have been entirely unintelligible to anyone who doesn't crochet.
bunrab: (me)
What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects? Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

After writing this part of your post, look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Now think back to your house animal – do the colours you have chosen relate to your animal in anyway – if you are in the house of peacock, for example, are your projects often multicoloured and bright?


Well, if you've looked at the photos of projects I posted a couple days ago, or if you have seen the photo on my facebook page of the yarn I bought at Stitches this year, there are definitely some colors I concentrate on. Gold, peach, orange-y corals, lots of those. Greens - not bright green, but lots of shades of olive, darker greens, celadon, muted lighter greens. Some darker autumn colors - rust, browns, a bit of tan. And the occasional bit of turquoise or darker blue.

The stuff I make for other people is in whatever colors are handy, or colors I know they'll like, if available cheaply. The afghan for Larry was in blue and white - some solid dark blue Jiffy, and a variegated blue and white - about 4 shades of blue, very short repeats, looks random when crocheted - in a similarly fuzzy store brand yarn, because Larry likes blue. Baby blankets in variegated baby color acrylic yarns - two I finished recently were one in a yellow-green-white variegated, slightly bulky, somewhat fuzzy yarn - the same store-brand fuzzy yarn, in fact; it's inexpensive, comes in huge skeins, inexpensive, and great for afghans that are going to be used and washed. The other baby blanket was two strands held together, a darker peach an a pale peach - it was for a slightly older baby, a year old. Hats for kids in colors kids like, and/or colors appropriate for certain types of animal ears to be attached to them.

My yarn stash has an awful lot of purple in it - some inherited, some purchased. I have in mind vaguely a ripple afghan to use up LOTS of purple, and then I'll inflict it on the next young female person I am due to give something to. Since all girls between the ages of 4 and 12 seem to like purple, seems like a safe bet, and a good way to use up lots. I made a whole bunch of that kind of ripple afghans with yarns of widely differing weights and textures, back in 2006 and 2007; time for some more. Q hook, here I come!

I guess there's some slight relationship between my yarn choices and the House of the Bee - some honey colors, definitely a lot of colors from nature, though not specifically to bees or to the summer season that bees represent. But on the other hand, those sudden pockets of purple yarn, or that bag full of variegated fake-fur yarn in every colorway they made, do represent the flitting from project to project that characterizes the Bees.

There, a knitting and crochet post that actually stuck to knitting and crochet!
bunrab: (me)
According to http://www.eskimimimakes.com/ and my friend Angela, this is Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. We are supposed to pick which "house" we belong to. Well, it's pretty clear that I belong to The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest. Yes indeedy, as evidenced by the number of unfinished projects I have, I am indeed flitting from one project to the next.

Pictures of assorted tote bags and plastic bags holding unfinished projects - this is just what happens to be at the surface in two rooms right now; there are more!Pictures behind cut so it won't break your Friends page )

I threw in a couple unfinished quilting projects in there, too.

Now here's pictures of knitting projects I've finished this year:

::yes, this is empty space::

And despite all that, I bought more yarn at Stitches earlier this month. Sigh.
bunrab: (Default)
Here we are at Pam & Dan's house in Katy! We will sleep indoors tonight and use a real shower and brush our teeth with potable water! Seriously, the RV is great, but it'll be nice to have a break.

Let's see - yesterday! We left the suburbs of Birmingham, AL; ate lunch somewhere - nothing special - filled up with gas at the Medgar Evers Memorial Interchange in Mississippi, crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg - gambling boats! Then three hours of extrEMEly boring I-20 in EXTREMELY poor repair across Louisiana; we arrived at Gerald Savoie's Cajun Cooking in Shreveport, where we were meeting Mary, at 8:30. The food was great - oyster po'boy for me, shrimp po'boy for Steve, and bread pudding with hard sauce for each of us. (Hard refers to the fact that it has hard liquor in it, not to its texture.) Afterwards, we yakked away in the RV for hours. Mary gave me some great tea I've never had before, and I gave her tea and one of my "famous" knitted tea cozies - red, white and blue fuzzy yarn. And she gave me the loveliest beaded booksmarks she made. It was so great to meet her in person after what, 15 years? of internet and snail mail friendship, and to discover that we have even more interests in common than we knew. Toasted almonds! Crockpot recipes! What a great evening. We collapsed somewhere near 1 a.m., which is why no post last night, and I was a bit slow to wake up this morning, which is why we didn't get out of the RV park till 11 instead of 10. The RV park, by the way, is one I can recommend highly if you're in the area, Tall Pines RV on West 70th, pads in excellent condition, individual waste dump at every pad instead of one station at the edge; extensive store, good maps, easy hookups... very nice condition overall, and nice people running it, who are eager to give discounts.

Leaving Shreveport this morning, we ate lunch somewhere near Nacogdoches in a cafe called Country Kitchen, which was rather smoky - smoking still allowed indoors there. The buffet was inexpensive, but also nothing to write home about, though the mashed potatoes were tasty. The peach cobbler dessert that came with it was undistinguished.

We sort of left our printed instructions and GPS route to try to avoid some Houston traffic, so we used the Loop 8 tollway off of I-45, and didn't hit traffic till we got on I-10, where we hit plenty of traffic, as it was right at 5 p.m. Nonetheless we got to Pam's before 6. I took a nap - it's amazing how tiring wrestling that RV through stop and go traffic - and through toll booths! - is. Our EZ Pass did not work here, needless to say. Then Pam and Dan took us out to dinner, along with their kids, the kids' spouses, and the kids' kids - baby Jack and baby Scott, whom we had not met. I gave them their blankets, and both babies drooled quite appreciatively. We had a good supper - haven't had Tex-Mex in so long!

Anyway, tomorrow morning I am hoping to hit Yarntopia here in Katy on our way out toward Austin. We should be in Austin for late lunch/early afternoon. We'll be staying at Steve's cousin Connie's, I believe, out in Oak Hill. We'll see all you Austinites shortly!
bunrab: (Default)
We got started almost on time this morning, and finished the day almost exactly where we planned to be!

Driving south from Statesville, NC, we went of course through SC and then into Georgia, and then from a loop around Atlanta turned west onto I-20. Tomorrow's drive will be 100% I-20 except for getting in and out of RV Parks and visiting friend.

Some observations along the way: there sure are an awful lot of Jesus billboards in the southern states. I rather don't like having a highway billboard threatening me with hell, you know? There are also an awful lot of flea markets - the billboards for those outnumber even the religious ones.

One of the things we passed in SC was the BMW assembly plant in Spartanburg; we did not stop for the tour - no time!

When we crossed into Georgia, there was a big sign saying that "This highway project is part of the [long official name for stimulus bill]" and we said "Yay!" because the highway in SC had been in bad shape, as bumpy as if it were an old log road. The GA highway was nice and freshly repaved. Good use of stimulus funds. Apparently they also went to sign makers, as there were many, many traffic signs about every possible change in lanes, add'l road work, tourist sites, etc.

Entering into Alabama, the NASCAR presence becomes even larger - we are not far right now from Talladega SuperSpeedway. We drove through a small bit of Talladega National Forest, too. Earlier, we had driven past a sign for the Kings Mountain National Military Park, and I had wondered, what the heck is a military park? National historic battleground, it turns out. Not exactly a park. I think the National Monuments rather than National Parks would be where I'd put it - after all, Fort McHenry in Balto. is a National Monument. (And so is the Saguaro area in the Southwest. And there's a sailing ship in the harbor in San Francisco that is a National Park, complete with Park Rangers giving tours. I have no idea how they decide which category to put these things in!)

We had dinner in Oxford, AL with [livejournal.com profile] avanta7 and her husband. The last time we saw them was 5 years ago, when we were in an RV moving from Texas to Maryland. They must think we are like cicadas, emerging from our RV cocoons on a periodic basis. They were in Little Rock then, which was our first-night stop during the move; shortly thereafter, they moved to CA. Well, just a month or so ago they moved to Alabama, so voila! We were able to meet up. And she had a lovely afghan she made for me - it's exactly what I need, and it will make a decent pillow tonight, too. I haven't finished her bookmarks yet. I hope to finish them by the end of this trip - I brought my cross-stitch projects as well as knitting and crocheting with me.

Our RV park is owned and run by a couple of guys who are very talky - I had fair warning when I called ahead on the phone to see about making a reservation; his directions on how to reach the park included a lot of things that "used to be there" and a lot of the history of motels and RV parks in the region. When we got here, we chatted some more - we now have a great many tips on what to look for if we decide to buy instead of rent an RV, and we know more about US Route 78. Luckily, we finished chatting and getting the water and electric hooked up hjust in time. It started raining as we were closing the curtains. The sound of rain on the roof is nice.

Tomorrow: I-20 all the way to Shreveport!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Well, the roof is replaced. And the eaves/sofits and the gutters, and a few bits of the siding trim. Energy-efficient white shingles, that will get us an energy tax credit on our next income tax return.

And Fern bunny is fine, after the application of quite a bit of money at the veterinarian.

All of which is to say, we're not going anywhere this summer. No RG in Pittsburgh, sorry M-friends. No Knit and Crochet Show in Buffalo. Nowhere that we can't drive to within a couple of hours and stay at someone's house for free.

We are fixing up the other house for sale, since we haven't had much luck renting it - it goes on the market in a week and a half. A bit of interior paint, repairs to the sidewalk, replace a couple doors, stuff like that. We won't get what we paid for it; we bought it at the peak of the market, and that's not going to come again any time this ten years. But we should clear enough on it, if all goes well, to pay off the mortgage on the current house, replenish savings that were depleted by the new roof, and maybe, just maybe, enough to let us replace the pink bathtub with something we can stand to look at with our glasses on. There's no chance it would be sold and closed on in time to use the money for any of the afore-mentioned summer travel, though.

Anyway, that's what's been happening around here lately. I've gotten in a bit of reading, some crocheting and knitting, and have written some reviews for the Tea Review Blog -check out the blog here:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/
and a few of my reviews, specifically, here:
http://www.teareviewblog.com/?author=27

And, just so this has a bit more content, a picture of the most recent sweater I finished:



I've already worn this one a couple times and people seem to like the little sunflower, even though [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet says it looks like a large-winged insect has landed on me.
bunrab: (Default)


I crocheted this sweater in less than 2 weeks. In the picture, I haven't done the row of shells along the bottom hem yet, but I did that this evening, after the symphony, while we were watching CSI, so it is truly finished! I might add some small flowers at the neckline in other colors, since spring green isn't actually my best color - figuring to add some orangey-coral and/or aquamarine flowers, should look better at the edge next to my skin.

And it was so easy to make, that while we were at the symphony this evening, I started on the back of another one, and am more than half finished with the back - that's in the dark, in between applauding, reading the program, and whatnot.

The program included Christopher O'Riley, you know, the guy from From the Top. He did two encores, including one of his adaptations of Radiohead, and hey, it sounds at least as "classical" as Philip Glass channeling Brian Eno. Then in the second half, the last piece was Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliet" and some of the audience started applauding at the pause that comes at the end of the section of the duel, where Tybalt is killed. So the guest conductor turns around and motions with his hand to quiet down, and says "Only one person is dead so far; we've got a couple more to kill yet." And they go on with the piece.

And we had supper afterward at Sabatino's. Life is good.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Let's see. First, Gaslight Grimoire, an anthology of Sherlock Holmes fantasy stories (sort of) - which I've done an Amazon review of, but it's not posted yet; I'll provide a link as soon as that's posted.

Speaking of which, could some of you go read my reviews for The Magicians and Mrs. Quent and Grease Monkey and Life Sucks, click on the little Yes buttons for my reviews, and maybe even add comments to the reviews? Thanks!!

Speaking of graphic novels, which the last two mentioned above are, I continue my efforts to decide whether graphic novels count as real books for grown-ups, not just comic books with too much self-esteem. One of the funniest is Rex Libris: I, Librarian by James Turner, which is an intergalactic space opera featuring a librarian who will go to any lengths to recover an overdue book. First published as 32-page comic books, this book is a collection of 5 of those, which comprise a complete story arc. Great dialogue, good characters, fun light-science-fictiony plot. Don't miss out on meeting Rex's boss, Thoth! (Especially funny to me since I have recently been to see a bunch of Egyptian mummies at a museum.)

The source of the amigurumi lemur is a book called Tiny Yarn Animals by Tamie Snow. Of no interest to anyone who doesn't crochet, but if you do crochet, you gotta try a couple of these critters! The lemur is the cutest, of course, but the beaver is also tooo cute, and if you're a fan of Kitsune in Japanese stories, then you'd like the little red fox.

OK. Off to band rehearsal in Essex. Tomorrow: saxophone lesson. Note to self: must buy more La Voz reeds; Bill's here in Catonsville doesn't carry La Voz bari reeds, despite that it's a large store; the much smaller L&L in Gaithersburg has a much better selection of reeds, as well as a fantastic repair department. So tomorrow is Gaithersburg on the way to Montgomery Village rehearsal!
bunrab: (crochet)
by popular demand: pix of amigurumi. First, lemur #1 (#2 is just started):

...


and second, Creepy Cute Cthulhu:

...
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
We did xmas twice, first on Thursday with my sister S and her spouse and kids and our parents and some of her spouse's siblings, then again on Saturday, with my brother G and his spouse and kids and our parents and a niece and her new husband, who were briefly in MD visiting, before returning to grad school in Texas; most of us had not been able to get to her wedding, so we were pleased to meet the husband (and his younger brother, who was tagging along for the day). Sister is up Philadelphia way, which meant we got to see the mess that is billboards in Phila. again - they have more Hooters billboards per mile of highway than any other city I've seen. G lives about an hour south of us, near DC.

I made a set of placemats for S, who has been wanting new ones for a couple YEARS now; below is a picture of five out of the eight of them - the green things. The piecing is a faux-crazy quilt pattern, with a few bits of ribbon added, and then they are quilted using cotton batting.


The picture in the frame in the middle of the table is a photo of me and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet, taken in Vienna, in a frame I painted to sort of match the dress I'm wearing in the photo. This was a gift for my dad and stepmom, who expressed a wish to have a respectable-looking photo of us to add to their table o' family pics - all their offspring, with assorted spouses and further descendents. So now they have one. Here's a slightly closer view of it:


One of the neatest presents we received from relatives was an afghan that sister S and her family made for Squirrel; knowing his love of his John Deere lawn tractor, they found John Deere fabric and a nice fleece backing, and fringed and knotted them to make a lap robe Squirrel can use while watching TV. Nephew Ian, almost-12, did most of the work; Ian loves making stuff, any stuff - car models and Lego helicopters and jigsaw puzzles, and sewing and needlework as well. Anyway, that is a gift beyond anything they could have bought Squirrel with just $$$.

Those red things in the center of the picture above were two dishcloths and two scrubbies (pot scrubbers) I crocheted for SIL Jen - she had requested red, and I made her those items, plus three red quilted potholders and a quilted oven mitt. The potholders and oven mitt are made using a batting which has a mylar reflective layer, so that they really do insulate/isolate the hot object from the hand. Here's a quick view of those:


I made teddy-bear-ear hats for 2 of G & Jen's kids - here's Luke in his, and Kyla in another one that was also supposed to be Luke's, but she appropriated it an preference to the kitty-ear hat I had made her. Oh well.


I made a lot of crocheted and knitted dishcloths, most of which I didn't bother to photograph before wrapping and/or mailing them, but here's one last photo, of the black lace dishcloths I made for Liz:


Things I got for xmas: a big chunk of my Amazon.com wish list, from Squirrel; Odysseus on the Rhine, mentioned in the previous post, is part of it. Also a couple of books from Cindythelibrarian; assorted CDs and a family photo or two, turtlenecks and socks. Funny thing about socks. Clothing is supposedly one of those presents you don't like to get. But socks were a big hit this year. I bought two of my nieces, Brenna and Brooke, socks from the Doorly Zoo, back when we were in Omaha in November, and gave the socks to them for xmas; they immediately put them on! After all, who can possibly resist LEMUR socks? And then, when S and her family were giving me and Squirrel our presents, mine had a pair of socks as part of the gift tag - and I immediately put them on, because the socks I had been wearing were way too warm for how mild the weather was, and the new socks were cotton - also had animals on them. So there was much running around the living room in animal socks for the rest of the day.
bunrab: (Default)
Last week we played three concerts - Sunday the 19th, Thursday the 23rd, Sunday the 26th. This week we both have colds.

Recent reading:
Lost on Planet China - J. Maarten Troost. Shallow, superficial, but funny. Troost's main insight into China: geez, the air is polluted! As in, makes Los Angeles or even Mexico City look crystal clear pure. And the water is filthy. And little kids squat and go to the bathroom in the street as a matter of routine, big city or countryside. And did he mention, the air is so bad you SHOULD be wearing those masks for the air, not the bird flu or SARS? What really struck me about this book is the ease with which Troost travelled through China, hopping on trains, buses, local airlines, with no problems, no police or political minders, no-one trying to steer him away from stuff the ruling party would rather not have foreigners see.
Geekspeak: How Life + Mathematics = Happiness by Dr. Graham Tattersall. Not what the title sounds like - this is actually about how to estimate ridiculous things such as how much your house weighs, whether you love someone more or less than average, and other things that most people hadn't thought to quantify. Of possible interest to Biker Skum, who frequently seem to be trying to measure things that other people don't usually think of.
Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan. The cover illustration is of a map of Manhatten island with an image of a rat, in blocks and streets and parks, overlaid. Usually this kind of eccentric focus on one animal belongs to either eccentric Brits - remember Trilobites!? - or women obsessed with primates. This, however, is an American guy who might almost seem normal until he invites you to spend an evening watching rats in an alley with him. The book is very funny, and has digressions to a pest control convention, and the history of the Black Plague, and other rat-related items. The scary part is how much we humans actually encourage rats without even realizing it; without our help, rats would be as scarce in the city as bunny rabbits.

Very little fascinating in fiction, just the usual next books in series, fantasy that turned out to be not worth finishing, re-reads, etc. One new entry: Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, best known for their space opera set in the Liaden universe, have written an entirely unrelated fantasy, which is obviously the first in a series. Starts out Regency-romance-ish with a vague hint of being another planet where humans have colonized and then regressed to Regency/Victorian era, but then rapidly goes to full fantasy with elves both nice and very nasty. A few unusual types of characters, mainly the Wood Wise - I like them.

Now back to snuffling and coughing and crocheting place mats and dish cloths.
bunrab: (alien reading)
A Mankind Witch - Dave Freer - alt history and fantasy, part of a shared universe but doesn't have to be read in order. Going to look for earlier volumes.

Snoop - Sam Gosling. How to be a sociological researcher by looking at other people's bedrooms and offices. Turns out traits of openness and extraversion can be accurately judged by people's rooms, but room contents are not really any help at all in judging agreeableness or neuroticism.

Swine Not? - Jimmy Buffet. A lightweight, amusing anthropomorphized animal story. If you like those, you'll like this; if not, not. Pet potbellied pig in Central Park.

This Land is Their Land - Barbara Ehrenreich, one of my favorite ranting liberals, the
anti-Coulter.

Recently reviewed on Amazon.com, a couple of crafts books:
Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs
Knit on Down
bunrab: (Sniffy)
Whew. Band Day was fun but exhausting. All went well. The bands all did great programs. The ice cream vendor sold out of all flavors. After we got home, I slept till 4:30 Monday afternoon.

The house is almost ready for us to move in - the painters were doing the final touch-ups today; the new windows are installed and the sunroom shades re-loaded; the washer-dryer vent and power are up and running; the electrician just has to do one more electrical outlet in the kitchen. We have started carrying all sorts of loose stuff over there, but I need to call a mover and get a firm date in order to push me into getting really moving. I have finished crocheting one cotton throw rug for the floor, but I have to get a non-skid backing for it yet; I will take a pic once the rug is all smooth and flat.

Cindythelibrarian has brought us an armful of flattened boxes so I have no excuse not to start packing!!

Recent reading:
Lisa Scottoline, Daddy's Girl - plucky law professor up for tenure gets caught up in giant prison plot. OK, if not great.
G.M. Ford, Nameless Night - amnesia, the NSA and NASA - it's a thriller. Not my usual cup of tea but this was good, and the beginning, with the amnesia patient, tied in interestingly with that book about traumatic head injury I read a couple weeks ago.
Justin Scott, Mausoleum - latest in his Ben Abbott series; as usual, real estate developers are the bad guys. I have a quibble with this series, which is that its protagonist supposedly has a felony conviction and multiple-year jail term in his past and yet somehow had no trouble getting both a PI license and a Realtor license?
bunrab: (Default)
House stuff. Lots of details, boring to anyone who isn't paying for them and watching the contractors do them. We might be able to move in end of next week, or else the day after Memorial Day.

Music stuff. Likewise lots of planning details boring to anyone who isn't actively doing them. Culminating in Maryland Community Band Day tomorrow, at Montgomery VIllage Middle School. Followed, no doubt, by my sleeping straight through from when we get home Sunday night to when I have to shower and get dressed and head for rehearsal Monday evening.

Books:
Fidelity by Thomas Perry. Mystery/thriller, with hit man and plucky heroine. Well written, as usual. But much more exciting was the blurb in the back, announcing that a new Jane Whitefield novel will be out in January 2009!!

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures Volume 1 HC - the graphic novel version, really the first 6 volumes of the comic book; by Laurell K. Hamilton (Author), Stacie M. Ritchie (Author), Jess Ruffner-Booth (Author), Brett Booth (Author). Not too bad; mostly, I like the way the characters have been visualized, and most of the important stuff is in there. I wish they had just waited until the entire novel was finished, though.

The Head Trip: Adventures on the Wheel of Consciousness by Jeff Warren. Fun and science at the same time! Warren reviews all the states of consciousness involved in sleeping, more than you think there are. Includes the author's recounting of his personal experimentation with each stage of sleep, including ordering a NovaDreamer to help with lucid dreaming; sleeping in a cabin in the woods with no artificial light, not even oil lamps or candles, for three weeks. How to catch your own dreams. I've been reading a chapter before going to sleep each night.

Oh yeah, last weekend we saw my folks off on a cruise, leaving from a pier here in Baltimore, and while we were all together ahead of time, I had the chance to give my newest nephew his baby blanket.

That, by the way, makes 37 nieces and nephews (and 6 great-nieces and nephews).
bunrab: (Default)
Just a few things:
Toys to Crochet: Dozens of Patterns for Dolls, Animals, Doll Clothes, and Accessories by Claire Garland. Reviewed on Amazon.com here.
The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews. Latest in her Meg Lanslow series, featuring an improbable but amusing extended family.
Territory by Emma Bull. A rather odd little fantasy - an alternate history western where Wyatt Earp is an evil wizard.

Mostly been reading magazines, having houseguests, and playing with new hedgie, who still does not have a name.
bunrab: (bunearsword)
OK, I got a box in the mail containing a heatproof glass mug with Science Blogs stuff on it. The return address was from Seed Media Group. There was no packing slip nor any other info to indicate why I would have received this mug. So which of you do I thank? It's a cool mug!

[livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet got me a a Bamboo tablet which means there will be lots more odd cartoons coming along. And we're going to go pick out a baby hedgehog tomorrow!

Cindy got me this book, which is one I'd been thinking about buying for a while!

My sister Steph got me the vegetable chopper I hinted at strongly - and she loved her hand-crocheted string grocery bags, too. We had a nice day at their place yesterday. My dad and stepmother were there also; they gave me a cookbook that fits excellently into my special diet, and gave [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet a shirt that's to his taste and some microfiber cleaning cloths, which they pointed out will be especially useful for the motorcycle. This may be the best they've done at actually taking our individual tastes into account in years! My nephew Ian, who is 10, gave S a model of a Corvette that he had built and painted - Ian likes giving handmade stuff - and then promptly sat down with the Get Fuzzy collection we had given him, and was scarcely heard from the rest of the day, except a couple of occasions when he came across a strip which he felt he HAD to read aloud to me and Hanna. Hanna read aloud a lot from one of her presents (not from us), a parody called The Dangerous Book for Dogs. All in all, presents all the way around were a success. Steph made dinner without any added salt. AND, we had a long discussion about religion, which was not a fight or even an argument - it was an interesting discussion that all three generations of the family contributed to, and involved lots of history and trivia. Almost enough to make one think maybe there is a god :D

Happy Feast of Stephen!
bunrab: (Default)
Not as much recent reading and needlework as one might think, because given the lack of rain, and the overall nice weather, I have been out on the bike more. However, today was a car day because we needed to hit up Trader Joe's - our regular monthly-pay-day purchase of assorted lower-sodium snacks and frozen things.

So. Needlework. I have been crocheting coasters out of #3 or #5 crochet cotton, using beads. pictures and technical details behind this cut )

Then, reading. I have started reading a murder mystery series by Claudia Bishop, featuring a hotel in upstate NY and the two sisters who run it; I am on the third book. They're cozies. They're adequately well written to keep reading, so far, though there are some of the silly elements that sneak into cozies sometimes, where the eccentric characters are just a little TOO eccentric.

Also, Destination: Unknown by Gary Braunbeck. Science fiction/fantasy, sorta, one novella and two longish short stories, all having to do with cars/highways. The novella, Road Mama and Daddy Bliss, is pretty good, if predictable in a few spots. A must for fans of HO cars.
And Missile Gap by Charles Stross. This isn't actually a novella, it's an outline for a novel. Obviously, Stross submitted the outline - a page or two of each proposed chapter - and the publishers just printed it as is. It's the outline of what could be quite an intriguing novel. Alternate history, sort of, plus insect aliens. (Shades of Harry Turtledove!)
And The Reason-Driven Life by Robert M. Price. Intended to counter Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven whatsis that pushes evangelical religion, Price does a chapter-by-chapter retort to Warren. So I suppose some of the repetitiousness of Price's book is because Warren's was repetitious. There are some useful pieces in there, and since Price has been a theologian himself and a bible scholar, before becoming a full-time heretic, he is able to present clear and convincing objections to the way Warren and other evangelicals and fundamentalists MIStranslate the bible while telling people to take it literally.
Gah, I had another book on here, and some accidental brush of a key wiped it out. More later.
bunrab: (chinchillas)
Really, one has to be a little bit manic to enjoy a con, be it a book con/science fiction con, a Mensa Regional Gathering, or a knitting con.

Here's a list of the symptoms of a manic episode in bipolar disorder:
Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood
Extreme irritability
Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
Distractibility, can't concentrate well
Little sleep needed
Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
Poor judgment
Spending sprees
A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
Increased sexual drive
Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
Denial that anything is wrong

Now, while it's not 100% the same, you will note that most of that list is EXPECTED, even REQUIRED behavior at a con.

And despite the fact that a knitting/crochet con has a greater percentage of older people, and of women, and of the disabled, than the typical Star Trek or anime con, most of that description still applies. Racing thoughts? Check. More ideas than one can keep track of? Check. Little sleep? Definitely check, especially if you learned a new trick in a class and then stay up all night finishing a project using that technique, just to prove that you are the smartest knitter in town and a master of all you survey. Spending sprees? Most assuredly check, and it's possible to do a LOT more damage in the exhibition hall/yarn market at a knitting con than it is in the typical vendor room at a SF con. Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities? Check, especially "I'll buy this yarn because I'll have time next week to make this pattern" and "sure I can do lace knitting, even though I've previously stated that I hate tiny needles and large projects, sure I can do lace knitting!" Perhaps less of the sexual aspects (although I can't speak for those who brought their spouses along; I didn't, but many people did, and perhaps the presence of all that yarn DID have this effect on them). And I don't think there was that much of a problem with drugs - knitters and crocheters would NEVER waste money on cocaine that could be spent on yarn!! (On the other hand, a certain amount of excessively loud laughter during the Friday evening classes perhaps testifies to a certain amount of alcohol excess during Friday dinner...)

The knitting con did not involve building a Chaos Machine in the hotel lobby. Instead, it involved people using up all the lobby furniture to perch and knit, and then to leave little clipped ends and tails of yarn everywhere - and beads and sequins in the carpeting, and the occasional lost knitting needle, and other hazards to life and limb of the unwary trying to use the lobby. Not to mention all the women shrieking at each other, and shouting the length of corridors, that they MUST have the pattern for whatever someone else at the other end is wearing.

The one area that is significantly different from other cons is the Hospitality Suite/Con Suite and the Food Area, whatever it may be; there is far less of this, because no one wants to get food stains on their expensive yarn. So there are no 24-hour crock pots of chili, no piles and piles of packets of chips or Pocky, no chocolate-and-wine tastings in one of the speaker rooms...

Anyway. That was fun.
bunrab: (afghan)
So, I was trying out this idea for a shawl. It was based on a pattern I saw, who knows where, for something called an "Art Scarf" which called for cutting up leftover novelty yarn into 12-inch long pieces, tying them together with 2" tails, and holding the resulting strand along with a strand of black yarn, and crocheting or knitting till you had a scarf. I decided to try it with a shawl, and cut my leftover yarn into 1-yard pieces rather than 1 foot, since I was making a larger object with a larger hook.
So here's the result. The "art" side has the tails all showing - that's supposed to be the right side, following the rationale of the original scarf. The "wrong" side doesn't have all the tails showing, just a fringe of them around the edges. the pictures are behind this cut )

Since the original poll is on the [livejournal.com profile] crochetcrochet community, I can't repeat the same poll here, so please give your opinion by comment. Choose one or two of the following:
*Art
*Unspeakable Horror
*I dunno about art, but it's pretty funny.
*The art side is unspeakable horror, but the wrong side is interesting; I'd wear that.

Once you've commented, scroll down and I'll tell you my opinion of the result, and why I care about your opinion.
.
.
.
.
.my thoughts, and why your thoughts matter )

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