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)
Um, a mascot for being in the House of the Bee for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week? I suppose that if I had time to do anything, it could be an amigurumi bee,  but I don't have time to do that this week. This week is totally taken up with music, in real life, since I have three concerts to play this weekend. I know what I'll do! I'll play Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee at some point while practicing.

And I will have to practice, because I found out at tonight's rehearsal that the alto sax is really sick, and if she doesn't get better by Saturday, I'll need to play alto, and I'd rather not sight-read at the concert; there's a couple of short solo spots. So practice it is. Along with practicing the euphonium I bought last week, and the clarinet someone gave me last month.

Did I tell y'all about the euphonium?

When Steve died, I sold most of his instruments. I only kept the bass trumpet, because it was the smallest and the one he had bought most recently - and the one that would bring in the least money if sold, so selling the others made more sense. That includes Steve's euphonium, which 40 years earlier had been Jerry's student euphonium. If I had known that I was going to want to play the euphonium, I would have kept it, but I didn't know then. Anyway, what I figured out recently is that what I want to do is play in a TubaChristmas or two in Steve's memory, and maybe, just maybe, even participate in a reading session at the Army Band's annual Tuba-Euphonium Workshop. Might not be good enough for that this coming January, but I'm pretty sure I can get good enough for TubaChristmas. So, a bass trumpet wouldn't work for TubaChristmas - even though it's in the same range as a euphonium, and it's a valved brass instrument, it's really not the same thing - it's far more like a trombone in tone, and in fact, uses a trombone mouthpiece. Which isn't nearly as useful for practicing to potentially play the euphonium as you'd think - the mouthpieces are different enough in size and shape that I need to work on it quite a bit still.

Anyway. So I went back over to Baltimore Brass, where the bass trumpet was from, and sold it back to them as a trade-in on a euphonium. It's an inexpensive student euphonium, a Chinese brand, and just a three-valve - but that's OK, three-valve fingering is certainly what I was practicing on the trumpet. And three valves are certainly adequate for anything TubaChristmas can throw at me; that's not music with virtuoso solos that require faster alternate fingerings. And so I've been practicing my new euphonium - I can play scales in a couple of keys, reliably hitting the notes I'm aiming at for about an octave and a half, having a little trouble with the notes below the low B-flat, and I can't hit the low E at all yet, and I am having trouble with the notes above the high E, too. But hey, I've been playing the euphonium for all of a week. I'm doing OK for one week. I actually read the euphonium part to a version of Amazing Grace that one of the bands has. Slowly, but I was playing euphonium music from a euphonium part on a euphonium for the very first time.

Euphonium, by the way, is Greek for "good sound thingy."

My sounds aren't there yet - my attacks are still quite buzzy, and the tone isn't smooth between octaves. And on those extra low and extra high notes, I don't reliably hit the one I'm aiming for right off. More practice needed.

If I had kept Steve's euphonium, trying to play it would probably make me cry, so maybe it's just as well I didn't keep that one. As it is, I'm sure that finally doing TubaChristmas will make me cry. But better to do it on a new euphonium so that every single breath doesn't make me think how much better Steve sounded on it. And - I didn't know then that that's what would make sense now. I had no way of knowing what would feel right later on.

Steve would have turned 67 this Thursday.

Not much about knitting and crochet in this post, is there?
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: (me)
Things I am not catching up on:
Sewing: I'm trying to catch up on quilting projects, some 15 years old now. I am also trying to sort through fabric and reduce the stash some more, which I have been hopping to ADD-like instead of sticking to sewing - and worse yet, as I sort through fabric, I have ideas for new projects, and worse than that, I pull out fabric and start cutting it for those new projects - so I now have three more projects in pieces all over the sewing room, in addition to the already extant unfinished projects. On the good side there, I have pulled out about 40 assorted pieces of stash - from eighth-yards to 2-yard pieces - that I can stand to get rid of, and I have a group that makes baby quilts for charity lined up to give them to, next week - so I will try to find a few more pieces by then. But really, Kelly, stop having ideas for more quilts!

Blogging about books. I've read some, I meant to comment on some; I haven't found the time to both read and to write thoughtfully about what I read.

Knitting. I'm not going to have anything new done for Stitches next week. I have not used one single skein of the yarn I bought at Stitches last April. Granted it's been an unusually busy year, but really, having some 30 skeins of yarn still in its tote bag from Stitches 2012 is sort of evidence that I shouldn't buy more yarn, isn't it? Wanna bet I buy more yarn at Stitches next week anyway?

Condo association stuff: I /am/ going to do the condo association newsletter tonight. And I /will/ fill out and mail the Business Personal Property return before I leave for Stitches, since it's due the 15th. But I am no further along in finding an auditor nor in familiarizing myself with our interesting lawsuit against our former management company than I ever was. And pretty soon the next phase of the gas bill project will be added to the pile, along with the next phase of the washers-in-units project.

Catching up on my CPA CPE: I have 64 hours of mail-order classes sitting next to the computer (out of the 80 hours I need, total, to catch up), and haven't started a one of them, though I paid good money for them.

Unpacking boxes and giving away stuff: this is going incredibly slowly. I still get these little punches in the heart and bursts of tears sorting through Steve's stuff, and I still am having a great deal of trouble picking out books to get rid of without thinking I need to re-read them first. Never mind boxes full of papers such as old bills and greeting cards and souvenirs - those I haven't gotten to at all.

What have I done, anyway? Well, a Mensa friend gave me his old clarinet a couple of weeks ago, and I am making significant progress on that. Learning the fingering from a chart isn't the hard part; learning to look at written music and do that fingering at speed as the notes go by on the page is the hard part. Especially that middle register where the F through B-flat all take place with combinations of just the forefinger and thumb using keys that aren't part of the regular fingerholes. And I have filed all my own taxes, which were a bit fussier than usual this year thanks to selling the house, investing a bit of money, and receiving the lump sum from SSA. And I'm doing a /little/ bit to help out with putting together Maryland Community Band Day which is coming up in June, hosted by the Baltimore Symphonic Band this year. So I'm not entirely unproductive. Just not keeping up, is all.
bunrab: (Default)
I tried a cooking experiment for dinner tonight that didn't work out that well - not inedible, but not anything worth ever doing again, either. So on the one hand, if it had turned out well, I would be all sad that I didn't have anyone to share it with, but I would have had very tasty leftovers for tomorrow. As it is, I am relieved that I wasn't trying to feed it to anyone else - and when I reheat the leftovers tomorrow, I'll just dump lots of chutney on top; chutney fixes almost everything.

Working backward, I have been feeling as sad the last couple of days as I was back in January. Lots of reasons for this - for one, a year ago exactly we were on our wonderful RV trip - I look at my post from May 15, 2010 and note that it was snowing in Wyoming, and that I stopped at Cowgirl Yarn. We got to Denver that evening, to stay with C&V for a visit. For another thing, it's been raining for a couple of days, and Calvin-Junior-next-door hasn't been able to mow my wet lawn, so the place looks a mess from the outside; Steve's rosebushes, the Double Knockouts, are blooming like mad but are surrounded by weeds. And for a third thing, this past week I paid the annual homeowner's insurance bill, the home warranty bill, and the last of the winter heating oil bills, all of which reminds me that I really must watch my pennies far more closely than I have been. I've been indulging myself into eating lunch out several days a week, and I really can't afford that - gotta cut back to once a week. Yesterday I dropped Cindy off at the airport for her annual visit with her nephew, and swung by the vet and finally picked up Gizmo's ashes, which are in a beautiful little box. Anyway, this combination of things has slid me a bit backward from last month, when for a bit I was feeling as if things were a bit lighter, as if I could breathe easier.

April felt better for several of its own reasons. When Gizmo died at the end of March, I went ahead and paid for a necropsy, and when the results of that came back, it showed that he had a rare and obscure infection of the liver, which couldn't have been detected in any well-rabbit vet visit when he was acting normally, and that by the time it showed symptoms, there truly was no treatment we could have used that would have reversed things. So I didn't have to feel guilty that I had somehow missed a chance to cure the Big White Bunny if only I had done *something*. Then, also in April, I went to Stitches South in Atlanta, and had a good time. I took the train there, and I enjoy train rides; I met up with Angela there and we split a hotel room; I spent several days totally involved in stuff that has never involved Steve and so didn't keep reminding me of him - and at the same time, there were several other women there who had also lost their spouses within the past year or so, so we could spend just a brief amount of time sharing our grief but also making jokes about how we weren't going to have to figure out how to hide how much yarn we were buying from our husbands. Being away from reality, and totally involved in an activity that has always been mine, made for a break in how I felt, and that left me feeling lighter as a lasting aftereffect. I was still missing Steve every day, but I began to see that I had a life without Steve, and even if it wasn't the life I had hoped for or planned on, it was a life that could still include some enjoyment.

I can still see that, sort of, but it's been fogged over these past couple days. Seeing Cindy off reminds me that I don't have any other really close friends here - people I'm close enough to to say "I'm lonely, I'm coming over to your house to hang out this afternoon so I don't have to be alone." I could probably drive up to my sister's place (2 hour drive) to hang out, and they'd be happy to see me, but it would be all noise and chaos, and everyone would be, quite rightly, more concerned with getting dinner on the table and homework done than with patting me on the head and making soothing murmurs. All my other really close friends are far away - Austin and Denver and Akron - can't exactly drop by or call and say let's meet up to split a dessert and tea at the diner. And I have lots of band acquaintances, but none of them are friends in that sense, and anyway most of them live just far enough away that by standards that aren't used to Texas, they'd think it was crazy to drive 20 miles just to hang out. In Austin, driving to Round Rock or Buda (or vice versa) for dinner and a game of Scrabble is something people would think quite reasonable to do frequently - every weekend, no problem - here, though, many people to consider that to be a distance that they'd only do for more special occasions (other than commuting to work).

And part of it's my own fault - if I weren't so self-absorbed, I'd be paying more attention to other people's journals, and to mailing lists I'm on, and more involved virtually in other people's lives, which really can help - no, it's not the same as hanging out in person, but it IS social activity and a reminder that there's stuff outside my own thoughts, and that other people's lives are interesting and they're willing to share. I know that, but I can't seem to break my laziness and read more than a couple of minutes of my flist page, or of the NEDoD list. How does one kick oneself in the pants to do something that one knows should be done and that will make one feel better? Just telling myself to do it isn't working, obviously.

So today, I couldn't think of anything reason to get out of the house that wouldn't wind up costing money, even apart from gasoline use, and I've sat here stewing instead. I probably look a little like a stewed tomato by now, too.

I'm getting positively closed-loop, whining about my own whining, aren't I? Hey, you all whose journals I've been neglecting, tell me something interesting going on in your lives that I should go read about.
bunrab: (alien reading)
When last seen, other than a few short tweets,we were in Elko, Nevada, and I was complaining that there were great chunks of the North American continent that should never have been settled, and we *certainly* shouldn't be encouraging idiots like me & Steve to visit them by building an interstate highway to them. I-80 continued to enchant the next day, when we drove as far as Rock Springs, Wyoming, where tiredness, rain, darkness, altitude, whatnot, combined to say "We're stopping here instead of continuing to drive." The people in Rock Springs were very nice, both at the KOA and at the supermarket, where we bought too many desserts. Pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies!

The next day was, thank goodness, our last stretch of I-80 for the moment. From Rock Springs, we made it to Denver in time for supper, even with my stop at Cowgirl Yarn in Laramie. Delightful people in that yarn shop! They are currently at 115 Ivinson, but wanted to let everyone know that in June, they'll be moving -two doors down, so they'll be next to the coffee shop instead of the chocolate shop (don't worry, the chocolate shop will still be easily accessible). I got out of the yarn shop relatively cheaply - lower prices than Baltimore-area yarn stores! Not counting the gasoline it took to get there, of course.

Denver is where we had built in an extra day, good thing, too, because after driving through heavy rain and snow, we really needed a break from the road for a while. Sunday, Vince and Chas did the driving - as we went up Pike's Peak, where there was more snow! We were only able to go up to 12,000 or so feet, as the road above that was closed. Interesting stuff: though there is no official venue for such sports, there were quite a few people skiing and snowboarding down the mountain. Absolutely nuts. Crucial thing to know for anyone else considering a day at Pike's Peak: the gift shop at the Glen Cove point has only one unisex restroom, that is one toilet, and so you can expect quite a line, especially if everyone has been drinking lots of water as is recommended for the high altitude.

Speaking of high altitude, I have to admit it did leave me a bit dizzy. Although we had been rolling along the highway at 6000 feet or so for a couple of days, and adjusted to that altitude, 12,000 feet is something else. My heart and lungs were not 100% happy with me. I recovered fully after a really long night's rest, though.

On the way home from Pike's Peak, we ate at the Rockyard Brewery and Grill, in Castle Rock, and I can highly recommend it to anyone else touring the area. Lovely Mission decor, excellent sandwiches; I hear the beer is quite good though I wasn't up for alcohol after already experiencing low oxygen, but I did have the homemade root beer, and it is spectacular. And free refills!

Since I slept in today, I missed breakfast, but made it out of bed in time to head to the zoo - where we found that not only was every parking lot and every side street full, such that even some school buses were roaming around looking, but every spot of grass in the lots was occupied by groups of schoolchildren waiting to go into the zoo. So we went to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature instead. Cool stuff! We only saw part of it, the dinosaurs and early mammals - lots of dino fossils found in Colo., so a lot of the exhibits were of local items! There is a really nice lounge in the back of the Space Odyssey area, where people can relax in armchairs while looking out a glass wall at the City park, and behind the city, the mountains. Very relaxing.

And then we went to a bookstore... well, Tattered Covers is one of the most famous independent bookstores in the country. Yes, I was bad. I was rather thoughtless, in spending unlimited time there without even wondering where the rest of our party was and whether they had other things to do. Sorry! And I spent too much, too. But hey, bookstore. And back at the Museum, the only things I got at the gift shop were one refrigerator magnet, and a bookmark for Cindy - surely that restraint balances things out?

By the way, back at Pike's Peak I only got a magnet, too, though at the Garden of the Gods Park, which is sort of an introduction area to the peak, I did buy a t-shirt because I did not have enough layers of clothing on for the expected temperatures at the peak. It's a cute t-shirt: three squirrels in the classic "hear no, see no, speak no" poses, with stuffed cheeks, and a caption that says "Birdseed? What birdseed?"

One of the books I bought is a collection of all of Stephen Foster's songs, along with a few from several other songwriters of the same era. It's funny how much we think of as being folk music was actually written by Stephen Foster.

Well. Having been extremely well-fed by C&V, and having some of our remaining cookies from Rock Springs for dessert, I think we're up to date now. Tomorrow we are back on the road, but I-80 is much greener, and fewer occasions of having to climb up mountains, from here on in. So, Omaha next!
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: (knit)
An easy knitted sleeveless shell - just two rectangles. The two sides are slightly different; it's completely front-to-back reversible. Knitted mostly while watching Rachel Maddow talking about health care town meetings. (Rachel rocks!)

bunrab: (bunearsword)
Reading: Liquid Jade (about tea); Beyond Red and Blue (about politics); Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (interminably long fantasy, which I am about 1/3 of the way through after 2 weeks of hacking away at the underbrush.)

Music: Went to BSO concert last Friday, going to another one this Friday - that would be today! - last one of this season. Baltimore Symphonic Band played at Charlestown Retirement, here in Catonsville, on Tuesday. Bel Air Community Band will be playing at Shamrock Park in Bel Air on Sunday evening at 7. Next Montgomery Village concert is June 28.


Started June 1, finished June 12! No pattern, just two rectangles, with a V-neck worked into one of them. It's knitted, not crocheted. Has baby cables in it. Craft cotton in the big cheap skeins, one skein.

And before that, there was this one, in May, same deal except I hadn't figured out as much about the shaping yet:

That, and cleaning bunny litter boxes, and cleaning up the old house, packing a bit more at a time each day - almost completely empty now, and it's already being shown!

Tea cozy

May. 6th, 2009 10:13 pm
bunrab: (Default)
I am inflicting the dreaded homemade tea cozy on my partner in a tea swap!

It's knitted; the top is a flap that opens up; the tea-cup design is part Fair-Isle, part intarsia; the yarn is Jo-Ann's Angel Hair. The fuzziness of Angel Hair combined with the layered strands of Fair Isle should provide pretty good insulation. The design is purely improvised - I "knitted till it looked like a tea cozy." It fits a standard-shaped 4-cup teapot.

Hey, my swap partner SAID she likes purple!
bunrab: (bunnies)
I suppose that if one is supposed to begin as one means to go on, then the new year got off to a good start: I finished a classic nonfiction book (Steinbeck's Travels With Charley), finished a knitting project (a shawl, for me, in an absurdly simple lace pattern), and made supper at home, using leftovers (leftover turkey frozen from Thanksgiving, turned into turkey-noodle casserole, which is tuna-noodle casserole only with turkey) instead of eating out. And then on the 2nd, I finished another book, albeit not so classic or important (Benjamin Nugent's American Nerd), got a few inches done on another piece of knitting that was already in progress (rather than restlessly starting yet another new project), and made supper at home again, using still more leftovers (leftover mashed potatoes turned into fried potato cakes, to go with crabcakes from Trader Joe's, all topped with low-sodium but zingy Texas Sassy Tequila Ketchup). So I suppose I'm on a roll of good habits.

Not that I'm making any resolutions for 2009. I have a couple of aspirations, but I'm not going to go so far as to call them resolutions. One is to get the garage and storage shed organized enough that we can get everything out of the rented storage unit, and not have to pay rent on that any more. Another is to get rid of some stuff - say, 25 things: books that aren't among the paperbacks I automatically trade in/give to friends/BookCross; skeins of yarn that I will never do anything with; yardages of fabric ditto; stuff like that. I already have in mind a pair of boots I bought years ago, and have only worn a couple of times, which were quite expensive and very nice and made on a last that doesn't match my feet at ALL, so that every time I wore them, I had feet that hurt so badly at night that I had trouble going to sleep. But I have never gotten rid of them, because, well, they are expensive, well-made, nearly-new boots!! Now I am going to get rid of them. (Speak up, flist, if anyone wants a pair of Clarks, black leather, size 8M, side-zip, just-over-the-ankle boots. I'll ship 'em parcel post if you really want 'em; otherwise, they will go to a local charity.)

It was interesting reading Travels With Charley - I don't know why I've never read it before; possibly because it was assigned in school, which of course would have made me avoid it. Anyway, since the book takes place during the 1960 campaign season, leading up to the Kennedy election, it has a rather peculiar resonance right now, especially when Steinbeck goes through the deep South and talks to people about race. And there's a postscript about the Kennedy inauguration that's sort of nice.

More reading recently accomplished, to be posted soonly.
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)
Although I have been knitting for years and years, it may surprise you to know that I have only ever finished ONE sweater - and that was a long time ago. I started several sweaters during my years in Austin, but never got anywhere near finishing any of them. In fact, when we were packing up to move from TX to MD, I pulled the needles out of three unfinished pieces of sweaters and gave the yarn to Goodwill: one I had lost the pattern to so I couldn't ever finish it, another in a scratchy wool I hated and would be too heavy even in Baltimore never mind Texas, and the third in a color that would not look good on ANYONE on earth, and I have no idea why I ever bought yarn that color. Another two unfinished sweaters came with me, though I don't know where they are at the moment. So I started another sweater, for NaKniSweMo. I haven't officially joined the Ravelry group for it, though I have a Ravelry account, because for one thing, I'm not making a 50,000-stitch sweater, and for another, I would be highly surprised if I did finish it. My personal goal is to see if I have the patience to finish at least one side during this month, patience having been the biggest reason I haven't knit anything larger than a hat or a sock in years. I am older now, and perhaps I am a bit more patient - we'll find out. I have only finished 12 rows so far - it was more, but I had to tink 4 rows, because the abbreviations used in the pattern are nonstandard and I had to guess at what they meant, and then go back when it was clear I had guessed wrong. Bernat's pattern sheet says to see their web site for a glossary of abbreviations, but guess what? The abbreviations on this particular pattern sheet are NOT on their glossary page. I have fixed the problem now, by experimentation, but I am going to drop them a nasty note about that. Also, the pattern is printed on half a sheet of paper - in both English and French! - so you can imagine how small the print is, and how hard it is to even find the next row. In the process of formulating that sentence for this post, earlier, I realized that what I'm going to do Friday is go to a copy shop and enlarge the damn thing, so I can stop wasting time peering all over it. The yarn is Cot'n Corn, and as you knitters know, all those exotic-ish yarns made of soy and corn and bamboo are really just viscose (rayon) whose cellulose happens to come from some plant other than a tree. So it has all the weaknesses of a viscose blend, including splitting, and fraying at the ends. But it does feel nice to the hand, and it will be a pleasure to wear.

After 6 weeks, I am only halfway through The Sot-Weed Factor and I don't think I'm going to be able to finish it before it's due. It is funny, but nonetheless very trying. Most of the action happens by way of discussing it, and most things have to be discussed several times, at least once with someone who doesn't understand what the protagonist is saying, another time with someone who disapproves, and a third time with someone who is reminded of something else by it and therefore has to digress to THEIR tale. Anyway, I have reached the Traveling Whore of Dorset. Maybe if I spot a used copy in a bookstore for real cheap, I will pick it up so that I can finish it over the course of, say, a year.

Speaking of books, what I am reading right now is Stella Gibbons' Cold Comfort Farm which is very funny, a parody of a certain class of English idealistic novels of rural life, of which DH Lawrence's were perhaps the most literary. The surprising thing to me isn't that it's funny - I knew it would be; the cover to this edition is by Roz Chast! - but that it suddenly puts Tobacco Road in perspective. I had read Tobacco Road a month or so ago, and mainly thought "ewwww" but now I can see that even though all the reviewers took it seriously, and even Caldwell himself claimed to be seriously exposing American Southern rural life, in fact he was really perpetrating the same kind of parody upon the American versions of the same sort of novels. (Cold Comfort Farm and Tobacco Road were written the same year!) So, in retrospect I suddenly find TR much funnier.

AFK, whee!

Nov. 7th, 2008 12:33 am
bunrab: (Default)
We'll be away for a few days, attending the wedding of a niece in Omaha, which you'll hardly even notice since I've posted so little the past two weeks anyway. I have been working on finishing assorted RL projects - knitted things, quilted things - and also having a cold. Whee. Anyway, when we get back from Omaha next week, I'll try and catch up.
Here is one of the things I knitted:link to pic behind cut )
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

Recently reviewed on Amazon.com, a couple of crafts books:
Beyond-the-Square Crochet Motifs
Knit on Down
bunrab: (Vlad)
Knit Kimono by Vicki Squares - yes, this is a book to read, not just knitting patterns. Reviewed at Amazon here.

A Year Without "Made in China" by Sara Bongiorni. Subtitled "one family's true life adventure in the global economy." Amusing. They didn't quite manage to actually get through the year without buying anything made in China, both because Chinese stuff sneaks into other products in insidious ways, and because they have young children.

A Wrongful Death by Kate Wilhelm - latest in her Barbara Holloway series. In the previous volume, I had gotten impatient with Barbara for her endless dithering/whining about her relationships and her career; apparently, the author did too, because in this book Barbara sees a shrink and gets some stuff straightened out. Meanwhile, the mystery plot is good, and it's on the timely topic of medical prostheses.

We got the Christmas tree undecorated and folded up and boxed, but didn't manage to get it back to the storage unit, so the living room floor is a bit crowded at the moment. For some reason, we have the antique button accordion in its case, which Squirrel Magnet has been carrying around from house to house for years, in the living room, as well. And his City of Austin departmental fire warden's cap is on the sofa. I'm not sure how this stuff manages to get into our everyday space so easily. Library books, I understand.

Yesterday we went to the American Visionary Art Museum, for Cindy's birthday. My impression of "visionary art" for a while now has been "stuff made by people who hear voices" and nothing we saw there contradicted that impression. You know, pictures that god told them to draw and to write all over. Some people seemed to be channeling George Washington, King George III, and Jesus simultaneously. Many who had OCD. Fascinating stuff, but - people who hear voices in their heads.

We will be headed back to Texas on Wednesday. We'll be checking email while we're there. We'll be coming back Thursday the 31st. The pet sitter is already looking forward to it - she loves giving the chinchillas their dust bath! And Cindy will be dropping in as well, to play with little Vlad. (That's him in my icon.)

When we get back, I *promise*, pictures of Vlad, and of my latest completed knitting and crochet projects.


Jan. 17th, 2008 01:13 am
bunrab: (alien reading)
A couple of knitting books. (One reviewed at Amazon.com here.)

A Larry-Niven-and-somebody collaboration that was supposed to fill in some of the gaps in Known Space - "200 years before Ringworld!" - it was so full of clumsy retconning and had so many distortions of Nessus' personality, along with some improbable captive-bred humans, that I didn't finish it.

Charles Stross - Halting States. Um, cyberpunk murder mystery gamer fantasy spy thriller. A little heavy on the gamer stuff, but not unintelligibly so. [livejournal.com profile] fadethecat, you may want to give this one a peek. Our heroes are a Python programmer with a checkered past, a forensic accountant (female) with a serious sword habit, and a lesbian Detective Sargeant with a strong enough Scottish accent that I had some trouble interpreting at first.

Um, a bunch of back issues of Ellery Queen mystery magazine.

Oh, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class by Robert Frank. Liberal economist, those who like Juliet Schor should like Frank also; makes a case for a progressive consumption tax which he rounds up some conservative support for also. A book that gives one something to think about, without being so heavy or academic that you give up with a sneer about economists.
bunrab: (Default)
I have a crafts fair coming up on Nov. 18, so I have been adding hats to inventory. I decided to try some dirt-simple Fair Isle type patterns this year, with chunky yarn so they knit up fast. Mostly it's been ordinary geometric Fair Isle patterns like these )

but then I got struck by a burst of inspiration, and here's what I got done this evening while watching CSI and Without a Trace )
bunrab: (squirrel_sweater)
Okay, the last post that wasn't a meme or something was while we were in MA for my cousin's wedding. So here's some pictures:
the George Washington Bridge )

My cousin gets married )

Knitting )

Oktoberfest )

back in September )

That catches us up, I think, on everything except books. I've gotta catch up on those yet.


bunrab: (Default)

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