Friday, June 29, 2007

Do you have a sink? Do you have someone who lives with you?

Try this fun and entertaining game. Wrap a rubber band around the handle of the sink sprayer. Try not to jump guiltily when someone, like, say, your wife, walks into the kitchen.
Instead, without giggling too much, say something like, "Honey, will you help me wash these pans? Can you do that one in the sink?"
Try not to fall down laughing when your wife turns on the sink - and the sprayer you have so cleverly stuck in the open position.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

So I lost track of time a little bit

I meant to post these photos on Tuesday, but Tuesday was a day of great activity chez Sock Knitters. The Fool worked at home so he could deal with the arrival of several people. They all arrived at once.
The air conditioner guy came and told us our air conditioner is getting old and will need to be replaced soon and the reason it doesn't seem to work with the thermostat is because there is a dead mouse blocking a critical circuit. He performed an expensive mousectomy and now everything works great. He was going to hose it off for us, but couldn't, because....
The well and pump guys were here and had turned off the water to work on the pump and stuff. They replaced a water tank for us before it rusted out completely and caused a Very Expensive Pump Problem, or so the Fool summarized. Now the water doesn't go "thunk-thunk-thunk" whenever we run it for more than a few minutes, and the annoying whistling from the faucets has stopped.
Then more guys came by to deliver some new living room furniture. We have this tradition, where on each wedding anniversary, we replace a piece of old, cruddy furniture. In 2006, we decided to replace the couch. Last week, we found the things to replace it. I had to take the Fool to the furniture store and install him on each couch to ensure it was the right length.
Here he is, demonstrating proper fit for a couch and a tall guy. He is holding a hemp shopping bag I'm trying to knit in purse stitch, despite its unwillingness to produce the proper number of stitches per round. I'd say 'hell with it,' and find a simpler pattern, but this is a kit I bought at MS&W and dammit, I'm going to knit the stinking pattern I paid for. After I finish blogging, I'm going to look up purse stitch in Barbara Walker and see if I can make better sense of it. It's just not clicking with me yet.

Here's the Sockapalooza socks I first tried to knit. This pattern, while cool, doesn't work. I couldn't see what was going on.

This one seems better, although badly lit. Sorry about that.

Finally, here's Angus, the Bubblewrap Savage. Little sweetie.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We unpacked enough things this weekend that I was able to cast on for a new project! It's my Sockapalooza socks, and I'll put up a picture of my first attempt tonight.
I'm using Regia Bamboo in a colorway that reminds me of what I think Santa Fe might look like, based on watercolors and tourist poster photos and not actual experience with Santa Fe. It's an interesting yarn. I like it a lot, although it seems softer and less elastic than other non-wool sock yarns. The variegation is also so strong that it made it hard to find a pattern I could knit that didn't get lost.
It's supposed to have antibacterial properties as well, and I have enough of this yarn to make another pair of socks, which I plan to do, for purposes of testing them in my Keens, which - while wonderful shoes - bring on the reek. (I have a very scientific experiment planned, which consists of wearing socks with sandals and smelling my own feet throughout the day. I should do it on the L; no one will notice.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

A date of note

According to "Good Cheer: The Romance of Food," by Frederick Hackwood, written in 1911, today is the Shearers' Feast.
"The Shearers' Feast was celebrated as soon as the last timid sheep had, with a mighty leap, cleared well away from the clipping-pen, and given that free, joyous shake of its naked skin so expressive of its gratification. The celebration generally occurred about Midsummer Day and the festivity was marked by song and dance and rustic sports, accompanied, of course, by an amount of eating and drinking."
Happy midsummer!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I don't post about work on my knitting blog other than to imply that I have a job.
But this week, I'm making an exception, and it's all because of Harry Potter. See, I'm working on a story for my publication's Harry Potter coverage about the knitting that goes along with it (I get invited to brainstorming meetings because I bring unique ideas no one has heard of and this is what they get. Knitting stories. Anyway.)
What I am fearing is that nobody out here in the western Chicago suburbs is knitting Harry Potter gear. I stopped in at one yarn store and they told me it was more of a "hip urban thing," (which I sort of don't get) and that their customers, if they were not knitting for themselves, were either knitting for people much older (parents, grandparents) or for babies.
Not for people who are, say, between 7 and 12, or whatever the age is that reads Harry Potter (30 and 35 in our house).
Research will continue, naturally, but hey ... I'm asking ... if you are a knitter who lives in the western Chicago suburbs who happens to drop by and lurk here once in a while and you happen to be knitting a Harry Potter thing (or ever have knitted a Harry Potter thing or are now tempted to knit a Harry Potter thing as a shortcut to your 15 minutes of fame) and you wouldn't mind being interviewed for publication, give a little shout-out in the comments, and I'll be gratefully in touch with you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Highlight of Tulsa

So this morning, I spent two hours giving a presentation on domain modeling, object-oriented programming, the Java language, and the tools that we use to do all three. For those of you non-geeks out there, this is somewhat comparable to trying to cover the history of the world in two hours. It went fairly well, all things considered, and while I don't expect that they will remember much of anything about the presentation, they might "get it" a bit faster when they are reintroduced to these concepts.

After lunch, I set off on my steek cutting expedition. Since I didn't want to maim the steeks without the right tools1, I decided that the best place to find a good pair of scissors would be a local yarn store. So I chose Loops.

While downtown Tulsa is ugly, barren, and bit depressing, Utica Square is quite the opposite. With a lovely outdoor promenade, Loops is situated on the corner of the Square near other locally-owned stores.

When I entered, I was greeted by Gina, an employee who was enjoying her day off knitting with friends. She was very helpful, as she produced a pair of small but accurate steeking scissors. Their main table was covered with yarn, so she offered up the table in the children's room.

Wait, that doesn't give the full effect.

Yeah, that's better.

Now I'm halfway up the steek.

I discovered that Gina (above) is a fellow sock knitter who, like me, loves to explore new knitting techniques. We discussed various ways to pick up stitches evenly, among other things. She thanked me for coming into the store and told me to stop in any time I was in town.

Feeling that I should patronize such a nice place, I purchased a skein of locally hand painted yarn, only available from Loops. It's called Tempted (in the Toxic colorway), and it's really awesome. I was pleased as punch to bring home such a nice memento from Oklahoma.

So, here's to all of the yarn makers and yarn consumers of Oklahoma. Thanks for making my trip a little brighter.

1Meg and I last night were speculating how prehistoric knitters might have cut their steeks. We decided that it would involve sharp teeth.

Angus' big night

The Fool is off in Tulsa on a business trip, so it was just me and the critters last night. I'm still knitting along on my Sockotta sock, but I'm through the gusset and on to the foot, so a FO is in the offing.
Meanwhile, we continue to unpack. The kitchen only took three coats of red paint to get it to where we like it, which is great, because we're tired of painting the kitchen.
This was my morning:
5 a.m.: Angus leaps on bed, bites Meg playfully.
5:01 a.m.: Meg kicks Angus off the bed.
5:10 a.m.: Angus leaps on bed, bites Meg again.
5:11 a.m.: Meg kicks Angus off the bed.
5:15 a.m.: Angus begins scratching the box spring.
5:16 a.m.: Meg grabs the squirt bottle and blindly squirts water behind the bed. Angus scuttles off.
5:20 a.m.: Meg hears suspicious noise, decides not to investigate.
7:30 a.m.: Alarm goes off.
7:35 a.m.: Meg leaps to her feet, races out the door to beat garbage collectors to the curb.
7:40 a.m.: Meg has beaten the garbage truck.
7:44 a.m.: Meg notices bedroom rug is spread with ... dried thyme? No! Catnip! Why?!
7:45 a.m.: Meg discovers Angus has helped self to reused yogurt container of catnip previously in box on her dresser, opened lid and spread catnip all over hell.
7:46 a.m.: Meg notices Angus, in explorations of box, has knocked all her earrings on the floor.
7:50 a.m.: Meg notices she is running late.
8 a.m.: Meg notices two sheets of bubble wrap that Angus hauled off to the bedroom to maul peacefully.
8:01 a.m.: Meg confiscates the bubble wrap. Angus objects.
8:15 a.m.: Someone has yarfed in the hallway. Could be Spoot, could be Mab ... Meg decides to blame Angus.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Steeks on a Plane

In Tulsa today on business. Wasn't able to find scissors yet. Must keep searching.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chicago Highland Games

So we took a bit of time away from the house today to go see this year's Chicago Highland Games. Our friend Jen needed some time away from her new apartment, so she joined us for an afternoon of pipe bands, kilts, caber tossing, and goofy Scottish bumper stickers.

It was quite hot and very sunny. The cicadas were out in their full magnificence, as we spent much of the day dodging the slow, dumb bugs. We happened by the dance tent for a demo of Scottish country dance and got sucked into it. Jen videotaped us doing the Gay Gordons, probably one of the most well-known of the Scottish country dances. You can see that I was trying to do the little hoppity-thing that you're supposed to do when you turn the woman under, but I didn't have much success with it.

The organizers usually bring in one good act from out of town, and this year that was fiddler Shona Mooney from Glasgow. She was accompanied by bodhran, piano, and electric bass. She played lots of great tunes, both traditional and newly composed. My only regret was that her show was only a half hour, not nearly long enough for my tastes.

We were too tired to stick around of the Mass Gathering of pipers at the end. I've seen it before, though, and it's quite a spectacle. Say what you will about Amazing Grace, but it's pretty freaking incredible to see around 250 pipers play it together.

Yes, This is a Knitting Blog

I know that the knitting posts have been a bit scarce lately. Actually, my posts have been a bit scarce, too. That's mostly because we moved, and because we haven't unpacked the yarn yet. Tomorrow will make two full weeks that we've been moved into the house, and it's been an adventure. Even though my commute is longer, I appreciate the extra time I get to knit. The train ride is about 35 minutes, the walk is 25 minutes, the bus on this end is maybe 15... so that's over two hours I get to dedicate to knitting if I so desire.

Meg informs me that I am not allowed to continue working on my sweater until I've posted a picture showing progress.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than grafting the front and back of a large fair isle tube together. I don't see how people can favor a three-needle bind off when it's hard to beat a seamless edge. I will do the other side early next week.

The next post on Kai will involve steek cuttery.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I am a bad, bad wife

.... Remember a couple weeks ago when Angus, wanting to play, leapt into bed with me while I was still groggy and didn't have my glasses on and started biting my arms and wrestling with me? And even though the Fool was in the shower and only a short distance away, he decided to continue toweling off and not come rescue me, even though he clearly heard me yelling, "Ow! Fuck! Ow! Fuck! Angus!"
This morning, Angus was messing around behind the bed scratching the box spring. The Fool groggily peered through the crack between the mattress and the bottom of the headboard to see what he was doing .... and Angus reached up and poked him in the eye with a paw.
"I'm glad Angus didn't hurt you," I finally said.
"I'm glad you didn't hurt yourself laughing at me," he said, grumping off to the bathroom to get a coffee mug of water to pour on Angus.
The Fool has reached a Significant Knitting Milestone and may make good on his threat to post.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oi! Fiber festival!

Chicago area fiber festival!
The Fool and I plan to be festive first thing Sunday.

Saturday, we have another kind of festival to go to.
Bet there's going to be sheep at that one too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ce n'est pas une fourmi

Sorry, Magritte.

We have a family of small ants that live in the bedroom. I pointed them out to the Fool.
ME: Look, we have ants! Eek!
FOOL: Where?
ME: Right there. They're very small.
FOOL: Oh. Those are sugar ants.
ME: What?
FOOL: They're sugar ants. They come out and eat spilled sugar. I saw some in the kitchen after I spilled sugar. Did you spill sugar in here?
ME: Um, no. I didn't.

Silence for several moments as I try to figure out whether the Fool has decided not to believe in the ants because there's no sugar on the floor. I decide maybe that's what he's doing.

ME: OK, but just because I didn't spill sugar in the bedroom doesn't mean those aren't ants.
FOOL: Yes, but does the presence of sugar....
ME: (sensing a derailment impending) Look, can you just kill them?
FOOL: Oh, yeah, I'll get a paper towel.

And before you ask, the cats are not impressed with the ants. My grand plan to distract everyone from biting me by buying new and shiny cat toys means that when they want to toss something around, they aren't looking for tiny, tiny ants to mess with.
Finished pair of wool socks; started knitting the second sock of a cotton Sockotta pair that I cast on in, oh, March. It's one of the chevron lace patterns from the first Charlene Schurch book and I find this really, really entertaining to knit.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Good news!

After I went to bed last night, the Fool learned that Angus loves him, too.
In legitimate, non-toothy good news, we booked our entire vacation yesterday. The Fool and I are going to Cape Breton for a week. He's going to a fiddle camp, and I'm going to eat lobster and knit complicated lace every single day while I look at the ocean.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

He loves me, he loves me NOT!

No love from Angus this morning. Thank God for that.
Unpacking continues. We haven't got far enough along to set up the computer yet, so I'll just have to write a thousand words.
Last night, we went out to the apartment again to collect some items that didn't make it onto the truck and stare at the giant dust bison herds. It's a wonder the cats aren't bald.
The Fool made it a priority to get the rest of the yarn for Kai. He's running low on some colors and the entire project was in danger of stalling. He also tenderly wrapped his spinning wheel in old blankets, but we had no room for her this trip. This weekend.

I've been discussing Angus' beastliness with various cat people. Here's some theories.
NIKKI: (coworker) Do you play with Angus more? Maybe Angus just associates you with playtime and so when he gets frisky, he comes to bother you?
ME: Oooh, that's a good point. I'll tell him to play with Angus.

FOOL: I don't want to play with Angus more if he bites the people he plays with. I think you must smell nicer. That's it. You smell nicer to him. And taste better.

WANDA: (coworker) Does he have enough toys? Maybe he's bored. Maybe you should put something on your arms that tastes nasty?
ME: I think we have some of that spray you're supposed to put on electrical cords if the cats chew on those.
WANDA: Or maybe Vicks Vapo-Rub? I've heard of some people using that.
ME: Hmmm. I'm not sure I want to go to bed smeared in Vicks.

FOOL: Sure, go get more toys. And a bag of cat food? And maybe another pair of claw clippers?

Sock knitting continues. I turned the heel and am on to the gusset, which is my favorite part of the sock. I love the gusset.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

If the Fool is right

Then Angus has a deep and abiding affection - nay, love - for me that surpasses all mortal understanding.
And I have the bites to prove it.
Little hairy savage.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Is this blogworthy?

In addition to a Van Gogh-esque yard (didn't you all know Vincent spent some time in the western suburbs of Chicago), we have a basement. My father used the basement as a staging area when he built the house, and also as an office, so the basement - in addition to a fireplace and pretty slate floors - has three workbenches, lots of lumber scraps, snowdrifts of sawdust and stacks of half-used legal tablets on which he wrote.
Our vision of the basement, with a nice sewing area set up for me, and pantry shelving and area rugs and the TV, is a long ways off. To that end, though, we vowed to spend some time working on cleaning the basement out every day until we're done.
Last night, we decided to clean off one of the workbenches. We carried all the wood back to the laundry room and stacked it neatly there on another workbench I had already moved.
Then the Fool suggested we clean up the biggest pile of sawdust and call it a night.
"We have a shop vac," I said. "I'll get it."
We plugged it in and turned it on. It made a hellacious noise ... yet did almost nothing to suck up sawdust.
I can suck up sawdust faster with a straw.
We turned it off.
The Fool went upstairs to find earplugs for us.
We looked in the cannister, which was empty.
I turned the hose over. Sawdust poured onto the floor.
The Fool disconnected the hose.
"Do you have tweezers?" he asked.
I found a pair on the floor. He fished around for a moment.
"How about a long pointy poker thing?"
I found a stick. We shoved it through the hose.
Not long enough.
I found a longer stick. Using the makeshift hose snake, we forced out a plug of dust and grot and an old dryer sheet.
We stuffed earplugs in our ears, hooked up the hose and threw the switch.
Suckage! Mighty suckage!
And then a cloud of dust filled the air and the Fool began coughing and waving his hands, grabbing for the switch, as the sawdust began shooting out of a hole on top of the vacuum cleaner.
"Where's the damn dustpan?" he said.
Then ... "Wait, is this blogworthy?"
"I think so," I said.

In other news: Spoot and Mab and Angus are adapting well. Angus raced around the house last night and played Slay The Catnip Mouse on top of us while we slept, prompting his subsequent eviction from the bedroom for general beastliness. This morning, he snuggled lovingly with me while I dozed ... and started chewing on my left forearm. Sigh.
The Fool says, "I think he likes you better."
I say, "For what? A snack?"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Our Last Post from Oak Park

First of all, many thanks to Carol for sending me an emergency copy of the Kai pattern, and many thanks to all of you who offered as well. And, of course, a big round of thanks to Franklin for exploiting his sheer volume of readers to help me out. I am forever grateful. For the record, I am almost to the back neck steek now, and I'll post pictures once I kitchener the front and back together.

Meg and I spent the evening playing for the Hyde Park contra dance. It's one of our favorites, and we had a wonderful time as usual. Extra otter Martha was in town, so she joined us on fiddle, making us a fiddle duo backed by guitar. It was held in the historic Shoreland Ballroom on the campus of the University of Chicago.

Here's some silly dancers hamming it up at the head of the line.

So it's nearly 1 a.m. now, and the movers are coming at 9. It's a scary thought, since many things that should be in boxes by now aren't. I feel a bit like Niggle, though I really hope they don't haul me off to an institution for being so unprepared. It's all a bit surreal, and I don't think it's really sunk in yet that I'm leaving Oak Park.

Luckily, Angus helped me pack dishes this morning. He loves bubble wrap.

There will be a lot more pictures of the new house, but for now, I will give you a preview picture of our backyard.

Big ass lawn

There is a very good reason that the lawn isn't mowed, which I may get into another time. Just to let you know, we're not moving to the suburbs. It's actually the country. The suburb police disqualified us because they found out we have a private well and septic system.

Fare thee well, Oak Park! Until another time.