Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Those don't look like poodles to me."

Man charged with cruelty for keeping sheep in his house.

Can't win for trying...

A few replies:
1. I thought Amazon used to be good about shipping, but I don't order from them very often (once or twice a year), so I haven't noticed a decline in service ... sigh. You know how it is with books? You get it in your head that you want a title, and darn it, you want it *now*. The Fool suggests I call them.

2. The reason the KnitPicks needles are too short is because I mistakenly ordered the shortest circs, and what I really wanted were the ones the next size up - 18 or 20 inches, maybe? I like the sharp points a lot, and as much as I like my Addis, I like the price of the KnitPicks ones better. I'll have to see how they hold up.

3. Crazy Lanea - I don't have anything by the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but I've heard of them. Got to jam with Changeling over the weekend - the Fool did, at least. I mostly sat on the floor and stared at their guitarist. Both nice, nice people; we hope to meet up with them again soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Amazon? What gives?

So the other day (March 21) in a fit of consumer-culture hysteria, I ordered three books from Amazon. I felt guilty for not supporting my local bookstore. But then I realized that I probably wouldn't find all these books at the same store and I'd have to go hiking from independent bookseller to independent bookseller (which, while not bad in and of itself, is not something I have the time to do these days, unfortuantely), so amazon.com it was.
I ordered the Yarn Harlot's new book, and I ordered Charlene Schurch's new book, and I ordered a book by Kumiko Sudo, which has a pattern for a cicada-shaped pouch in it, because I live with someone who really, really likes the idea of 17-year cicadas, so many that they leave drifts of their nasty, cast-off carapaces on the sidewalk. And maybe he might like a little bag shaped like a cicada to put his knitting in or something. I'll make it in guy colors.

(No, I'm not checking that link; there might be a picture of one of those revolting red-eyed bugs. If it doesn't work, Google "lllinois cicadas" and look for the link put up by the U of I Extension office. That's what I did.)

Point is, Amazon told me it would take them until May 25 to ship me my books. Today, just for grins, I looked at the site again, now that the Harlot and Charlene's books are released. If I ordered those books today, March 27, six days after I actually ordered them, I could get them in two days, not two months.

To rephrase: Ordering early did squat. Has this happened to anyone else? Is Amazon's shipping computer lying to me?

In other business:
1. Knitpicks Options needles - love them. Only I was insane when I ordered a couple to knit socks on, and they are too short.

2. The Blackwater Abbey sweater progresses. I have the two fronts to knit now. Pictures soon.

3. I started knitting a washcloth with some hemp yarn I bought in DC out of curiosity. It's really stiff and crunchy now, but I have hopes it will soften up. More to report on that as the project unfolds.

4. Have another hedgehog on the needles for a small person I will be seeing this weekend ... and don't you know it, I ran out of black eyelash yarn. Grrrrgh.

5. The Fool is off with the Britches tonight, plugging away on his Shetland sweater. Undoubtely, he will provide an illustrated report.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My socks are sorta famous!

One of the Chicago TV stations came out to a Monday night contra dance and filmed a little segment. There's a part near the end, about three-fourths of the way through, where the cameraman filmed lots of feet ... and you can see our friend Jeffrey's bartered socks moving across the screen from right to left (on his feet; the socks are not moving by themselves.)
Check it out!
And no, the Fool and I were running late that night and did not get on camera.
Off to the Pigtown Fling tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I should never go to the library when I'm hungry

I come home with way too many books, more than I'll be able to read before April 10. They range from utter tripe to a couple books on home decorating (more on that in a minute) and my attempts to start reading fiction again.
It's going to take all my self-control to sit at the table and eat the spaghetti and meatballs that the Fool is making without being antisocial and cracking open something to read.
DC was wonderful. It was a perfect weekend for getting away from all my problems here at home of late. While the mental break was great, I also like the physicality of removing myself from the site of all my troubles.
So: What did I do? I went to hear Uncle Earl and the Biscuit Burners at the Birchmere, and they were terrific. Maura, the friend I went to visit, brought me a birthday cake, which she sliced up at the table we were sharing with the Crazies Lanea and various other friends. C.L. and I did not get our geek on about knitting, as we were with many muggles ... but just wait until Maryland Sheep and Wool. We'll be unstoppable.
Maura and I spent St. Pat's itself hiding from the crowds, cooking fresh fancy ravioli we bought at the Eastern Market (we couldn't decide, so we got some filled with squash with goat cheese, some filled with porcini mushrooms and some filled with spinach, maybe? And steamed asparagus on the side.)
Then she worked on a new quilt project we had gone shopping for, and I knitted a sock.

We went to the National Museum of the American Indian, but stopped first to look at art.


I love this museum. First off, I learned a lot of things I didn't know, which endeared it to me right away. Secondly, for the various exhibits about each of the tribes represented, the museum asked members of the tribal community to decide what should go in the exhibit. They had pictures up of all these "community curators" with little biographies, and I had the best time reading them - one tribe picked spiritual leaders, another picked people who were also involved in local politics, some picked elders, some picked younger people - totally fascinating. The museum is beautiful, too, and it has the most fascinating cafeteria, if you're into eating interesting things, which we are. Each serving area had examples of indigenous foods from different regions of the Americas.
(Because you're going to ask, we split: one chicken tamale with peanut sauce, two roasted pork tacos with guacamole and green salsa, a serving of wild rice salad with dried fruit and a helping of roasted summer squash. They were out of the fiddlehead fern salad and the banana empanadas with vanilla sauce - dammit.)
Here's a couple interesting photos of things from the museum.





Then we had dinner with the Crazies Lanea and Maura's roommate, at Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant down the street from Maura and Kim's place. Maura and I love Ethiopian food with a mad, unnatural passion. We like the ritual of sharing food from a communal plate, we like the delicious things Ethiopian cooks do to vegetables ... and we really, really adore spicy red lentils.
We did some shopping too - I got some presents at the International Spy Museum, and we went to Georgetown to visit Dean and Deluca (the Fool got a bottle of his favorite expensive olive oil and I got my friend Carrie some fancy Russian tea.) And we went to the Body Shop and got some girly shower stuff.

On Monday, we went to the National Zoo, ostensibly to see the pandas .....


But really, to see the Asian otters, who travel in a herd and stand up on their hind feet to scare birds out of their enclosure. Don't they look fierce?


And now, I am home and back to planning for The Big Move. The Fool and I are going to move into my father's old house, which you will be hearing more about. I'm dealing with a lot of conflicting feelings about moving into the house I essentially grew up in, and we are both freaking out a lot about moving and painting and getting rid of a lot of Dad's crap - and I do mean crap.
I think I'll make it a blog contest. I'll post photos of stuff from his garage, and whomever guesses what it is -- I'll give it to you.
Heh. Don't all comment at once.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Patrick's Weekend Update

As Meg took the camera to D.C. for the weekend, I have no pictures for you.

It all started on Friday afternoon. Donnybrook had a gig at the Stoughton Opera House. Actually, it wasn't a typical gig in that it was actually a concert. (Crazy stuff, I know! People actually sitting quietly and listening.) Since I had to drop Meg off at the airport around 2:00, this would have put me in Stoughton around 4:00, which was about 2 hours too early. My original plan was the spend the extra time at a coffee shop there, but then, as I was driving down I-90, I remembered that I would be passing by a very special place. Thirty minutes later, I found myself in The Fold. As I entered, Toni Neil, the proprietor, greeted me warmly along with Eric (Erik?), her lovely German Shepherd. "You must be on your way to somewhere," she said, knowing full well that I often stop whenever I'm passing through. We had a very pleasant chat for about an hour, and I bought two skeins of Socks That Rock. I don't have the pictures here yet for you, but the colorways are County Clare (I'm a sucker for Irish names), and In The Navy (a very awesome navy blue for my feet).

I showed Toni Kai, and she now has a burning desire to learn how to knit continental so that she can try stranded colorwork. As I gave her encouragement about learning continental, she gave me encouragement about spinning something lighter than carpet-weight yarn. "Don't worry," she said, "I started off that way, too. It just takes practice to let the yarn spin itself." I'll have to pick up the wheel this week and give it another try.

The Stoughton gig was fun though a bit sad. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but Davey and Liz (the two lead singers) are married. That's been just fine up until recently, when they separated. Liz no longer sings with us regularly, and the band dynamic has really been different. We all knew that Stoughton would quite possibly be the last gig that we did with her. It's such a shame that it has to be this way; she has a tremendous voice and adds just the right balance to the band. Maybe after wounds heal in a year or two, she will come back. None of us, though, are counting on it.

I actually enjoyed my St. Patrick's Day this year. See, more often than not, St. Pat's is a test of an Irish musician's endurance rather than a whole lot of fun. This year, though, we only played one normal-length gig up at Mickey Finn's Brewery in Libertyville. The stage was in a big party tent behind the pub. Casey, Amy, and Cindy, my good friends from college, came out to see us (as well as Casey's parents who came all the way from Valparaiso). Casey was my "little" brother in Alpha Phi Omega (but two inches taller than me at 6'6"), and Amy was a Little 500 bicycle race teammate. They are married, have two kids, and now live in Lake Bluff after having spent two years in Hawaii. How the time does fly!

I'm off to the Hidden Shamrock this afternoon for some tunes.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hooray!

Off to Washington, DC Friday. Can't wait. I haven't figured out what knitting to take, though.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fun Fur Poncho, Indeed!

I now feel that I have to prove something to the world after having outed myself to Annie Modesitt as the freak that prefers knitting on US 1s. I also have to live up to my reputation as the guy "who enjoys the sort of knitting that would make other people cry."

So, without any further ado, I present to you...



...knitting on US 1s that makes other people cry! It is the bottom 5 inches of the Kai sweater from Jamieson's Simply Shetland 2. It's so nice to be able to knit with the yarn that the pattern calls for (and not some poor substitute). This one is made with 8 colors, topping my previous record of 6. Even though Rosemarkie was also knit on 1s, this yarn is much thinner, so I'm targeting a much smaller gauge of 8 stitches and 8 rows to the inch.

My goal is to average 3 rounds a day (at 336 stitches per round). I just ran the calculation to discover that I'm actually averaging 4 rounds per day (round 76, day 19)... so woot! My actual gauge appears to be about 9.5 st/in unblocked, but will probably more realistically be around 8.25 st/in once blocked. A little smaller than intended, but 40" around instead of 42" is still plenty big for me. I also seem to be averaging about 9.5 rows/in, and I'm hoping that it will block out vertically as well.

All of the socks are on hold for now, as Kai is an all-consuming project. I hope to be done with it by Maryland Sheep and Wool, though that may be a bit aggressive. It will definitely be done in time for Rhinebeck, though.

Rock 'n' roll lifestyle

The Fool and I took our knitting out to a pub last night to hear Flook. They were wonderful. Michael McGoldrick was playing with them, as one of their members wasn't touring due to a new baby.
We heard the best bodhran solo of our lives, and I only had to answer one, "Hey, is that knitting or crochet? Oh, wait, it's knitting. Needles, not a hook."
But we all got back late, and now, much like us, the knitting is a little slow this morning and could use a shower. Thank goodness for wool wash and final blockings.
I helped the Fool take some pictures, so maybe, just maybe, he'll show you that fun-fur poncho he's been working on.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Monday miscellany

Before I get to the good stuff (wool! Show us wool!) I truly appreciate all the good and kind thoughts sent in the direction of me and my family by everyone. For me, it's been up-and-down, which I expected, and knowing there are so many friends out there makes it easier to weather the low spots.

1. Aside from a brief fling with a baby hat, I have been knitting this cardigan. Out of rust-colored Blackwater Abbey. I hope to debut it when I visit Washington DC in ... urp ... two weeks.
Um .... I hope to knit it on the plane en route to Washington DC in two weeks. That's better. I've got one sleeve done, plus about 11 inches of the body, which leaves ... a lot of sweater to knit.



2. Two of my wonderful coworkers brought me a present today to welcome me back to the office after a week away dealing with Miserable Family Matters. There is wine, and tea, and a romantic comedy with Hugh Grant and a bunch of homemade cookies. And ... see that in the front? It's a ball of sock yarn. Bought for me by a muggle.
Nikki went to the yarn shop near our office, where she knows I tend to leave money, and explained that she did not knit, but knew someone who did and needed help picking out a present. The woman working asked what my name was. She looked me up in the computer and remembered that I had been in on Tuesday and bought "No Sheep For You." Although I'm not wool-averse, she steered Nikki right over to the Tofutsies, which I have been fondling for about a month now, and I have yarn to make a really, super-cheery pair of socks that already remind me of tulips and crocuses and sunshine.
It is making me seriously rethink my "one pair of socks at a time" rule.



3. No Sheep For You is just dandy by me.
Major sweater lust. Once that Blackwater Abbey cardigan is off my list, I think I'll be embarking on something new, maybe in that cotton-linen stuff KnitPicks has just started selling.
There's another gorgeous sweater, a complicated-looking Aran with lots of twisty stitches (and I loves me some complicated Aran knitting), but it's knit in Rowan Calmer, and I looked that up and ... it's a little rich for my blood. Nevertheless, I must knit this sweater. Jenna Wilson designed it, and, well, I'd knit just about anything she designed, even if it's named "Morrigan," which should be a warning sign, much in the same way a sweater pattern named "Beelzebub" ought to alarm most people.

4. The Fool has been wonderfully supportive. He called his office last week and offered to "work at home," so he could keep me company while I got things organized and otherwise shrumped around the house like a big, mopey owl. This is what he looks like while he's working at home. He swears he is "on a conference call," and had to sit by the window to "get better cell phone reception." Whatever.