Saturday, January 30, 2010

Warm and fuzzy week

Considering that Sunday was so shitty, I fully expected that this past week would suck just as badly. Thankfully, the universe had other plans for me. Sure, my computer at work nearly bit the big one with having horrendous space issues; but after burning quite a bit of data onto DVDs and adding on a 1 TB external hard drive for the rest of my files that I use on a more regular basis, all was right with the world again.

Things that happened that were just wonderful included:

  • Returning to my office on Monday morning after being in Port Huron Thursday and Friday to find a nice "Thank you" card made by the Girl Scouts I had taught to knit the weekend before. They even drew a fun illustration of their cat mats. It felt pretty good to feel appreciated!

  • I finished the Chemo Turban and the Lotus Hat of the chemo caps I had been working on. Sarah dropped off Heda to visit this weekend, so part of my plans today are to wash both and get them photo ready with Heda as my model. I'll post those photos, hopefully, tomorrow.
  • I got a good start on chemo cap #4: Wavy Cable Lace Hat. Like the Lotus Hat, I'm knitting it using Berroco Comfort DK and it's looking pretty good so far. While out helping Mark pick out a couch today, I was able to get quite a bit further than shown in the photo, and hope to finish this hat either later tonight or sometime tomorrow. My goal this year is to knit 5 hats before next Saturday. If I reach that goal early, I'm going to quit there because I have a baby blanket to knit before the end of February (which is the absolute worst month to have a knitting due date in because it's so short)...
  • I also finished "The Book Thief" a full week before the February book club meeting. Normally, I'm finishing the book the morning of. Considering the amount of trouble I had in keeping track of where my copy of this book, it's amazing that I was able to finish it early. Finish it I did, and I can say that I liked it a lot. Though, I'm not sure I would categorize it within the "Juvenile" or "Youth" fiction, which is where the local Schulers Books had it.
  • This week, I nearly completed updating my entire yarn stash onto Ravelry. My only hurdle came when the battery on the digital scale died and I can't seem to get my act together to remember to pick up a replacement while at the store. The one time that I actually included it on my shopping list (as "3V lithium battery, 25-cent size"), I discovered that the store had two types of 3V lithiums and neither appeared to be 25-cent sized, necessitating a closer look at the battery for an actual model number. Anyways, I found a new distraction to watch while uploading and editing yarn photos in Flickr. Not being much of a gal to wear make-up, I never really learned how to put make up on. Yes, I know it's shameful, but I'm hoping that when I get to the point of needing it to hide the wrinkles, I'll be ready after watching these videos on YouTube. She's actually pretty entertaining by losing her train of thought at times and needing to stop and restart the video....
  • Lastly, while dropping Heda off last night, Sarah also brought me a copy of a movie called "The Room" that belongs to Jordan. This movie is supposed to be epically bad -- so much so that it's actually hard to find. I'm very grateful to have a copy of it in hand, and am looking forward towards hosting a "Bad Movie" night with it as the marquee film. That is, unless Mark is able to find a copy of "Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter" (which, interestingly enough, IMDB classifies as a "Kung-fu action/comedy"!). We might actually need to have a vote after viewing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Maybe it's me that needs to go to anger management

[WARNING: A rather explicit conversation follows that might not BSFW]

So, I'm now sitting in the parking lot of a gas station in Alma, waiting for to pick up Sylvain, who had spent the weekend visiting his dad. As usual, they phoned while I was already on my way here to say that they'd be an hour late. Since this is now the norm, I'm glad to have my knitting with me to work on while I wait. [project photos will be added when I return to a real computer]

As I was sitting in my car, a car load of teenage girls pulls into the spot next to me; they all hop out and, while doing so, one of the girls slams her door right into my car, hard enough for me to look up in surprise. I immediately am pissed off and say out loud "Thanks a whole fucking lot", though between the sound of my engine that was left running and the other girls jabbering away, I doubt she could've heard me. Seeing the annoyed look on my face and that I had said something, the girl stopped right outside of my window and said, "Yeah?"

Rolling my window down, I asked her if she even noticed what she had done. Rather than offering an "oops" or a "sorry" or an "oops, sorry", she proceeded to inform me that her friend had parked her car "within the line".

Can somebody please tell me what that has to do with anything? I parked within the line as well, but that didn't change the fact of the matter that she didn't exercise any care or caution while getting out of their car.

She then told me that I needed to go back to driver's education. Immediately, I became even more inflamed. "Listen, missy, maybe you need to pay a little more attention the next time you get out of a car. And your friend needs to think about whether her car will even fit into a space before parking."

Her only reply was to make smart-aleck faces accompanied by some head nodding. And, of course, that made me even more angry. Seeing that expecting anything apologetic from her was stupid on my part, I just said, "You know, FUCK YOU, LADY", rolled up my window, and ignored her.

Her friends had already entered the gas station (which I found to be odd that they didn't stick around to watch the spectacle, maybe this kid causes scenes wherever she goes), so she turned and went inside. I decided that I really wasn't up for a Round 2, so figured that I'd burn some time by taking a drive around town. (I've since returned to my parking spot to continue waiting.)

However during the whole drive, I couldn't help but wonder at my short fuse (why am I swearing at stupid strangers?), but also at what reaction did she expect to see when she slammed into my car with no sense of shame? I mean, I was sitting right here, for crying out loud! I can understand if the car was unoccupied....Was I expected to thank her for gracing me with my very own door ding?

Sorry that this is the second rant entry I'm throwing out into the world, but my chest was heavy with these thoughts and I really wanted to get them out....Anyways, maybe it's time I seriously consider anger management therapy or meditation or something so that these types of things don't bother me like they do.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just because I enjoy to bitch

Hi everyone,

Sure, I have knitting and movies to report, but why do that when I have something to get off my chest?

Have you ever been dining at a restaurant and have been asked by the waiter/waitress if you're "still working on insert meal item here"? Have you ever worked or are currently employed as said restaurant "associate" and uttered such a ridiculous line? Really, why is that an appropriate question? What answer could you possibly hope to hear?

I find being asked if I'm "still working on" a meal to be highly insulting.
I mean, really?!?

"Why, no, please buckle the feed bag back on and let me have some peace while I slave away! Or better yet, please roll my fat, consumer ass up to the trough so that I can get right to work!"

Folks, in my mind, a good meal should be a delight and not something you're compelled to eat as though it's your duty as a human being. I feel this way every time I'm asked that particular question at a restaurant.

Mark my words: from this day forward, my stock response will be to stop eating, ask for a box, and announce to the server that that's my cue for "quitting time for the day".

Okay, thanks for hearing out my rant. Am I really alone in this?!?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gremlins giveth and taketh away

Sylvain earned two big hugs this week. The first was for finding my copy of "The Book Thief". According to him, he found it on the desk in the office by the computer. I wonder about that since 1) I looked there already and 2) there was no reason for the book to be there in the first place. I guess I should stop while I'm ahead and finish the damned thing before it disappears on me again....Now, if I could figure out what the gremlins took in place of the book...

Hug #2 was due because I had him stand up in front of the knitting guild and show how he made my sock blockers using these directions. He then manned a table stacked with wire hangers and helped anyone that stopped by to make a pair. I know it's not easy for a kid his age to get up in front of a group and speak, but I'm proud that he did it.

Anyways, I spent the last couple of days in Port Huron for a meeting at the Great Lakes Maritime Center. It's right on the St. Clair River, so was cool to watch the large ice floes drift pass (rather quickly).

My boss and I had an opportunity to see the ice snowmobile racetrack and tents being set up for this weekend's Port Huron Chilly Fest. When we arrived to the Center this morning, we couldn't tell what the large, polished area of ice was for. We debated about whether it was a very large curling rink or an odd-shaped hockey rink, then settled on it being a speed skating track. When we were leaving after the meeting, we saw that snowmobiles were being unloaded from trailers and laughed because the track was ridiculously small and the tents lined each side rather closely. Now that I see this weekend's festivities call for ice snowmobile races, our chuckles were confirmed. I don't know about you, but something a little wrong about standing that close while snowmobiles go racing by on ice, but to each their own...

Oh, and I did see this cool sculpture outside of the Maritime Center.

As for knitting this week: I finished chemo cap #2 (the Off Balance Beanie) knit using Berroco Comfort. I think there is something to be said about my ability to read (or lack thereof). The pattern was easy enough, but for no particular reason, I figured it was worked in the round, even though there was not explicit directions stating such (?!?).

With that said, working the pattern in the round didn’t affect anything, really, except that if you closely compare the photo above with that on the pattern, you’ll see that the pattern rotation is in the opposite direction, which is actually pretty neat, if you knew to notice that. Also, I just needed to knit the purls and purl the knits for every other row of the decrease (or another way to say that was follow in pattern on the non-decrease rows).

Other things that I changed: since this is a chemo cap and the intent is to cover more of the skull, I lengthened the 8-row pattern by adding two additional repeats, ending on row 58 (still working another set of row 1 and 2 at the end). This resulted in a cap length of 6 3/4” before the first row of decreases. I’ll post a better photo when Heda comes to visit…(If you're a friend from Ravelry, I apologize now for the duplication, but what's said needed to be said)

Chemo cap #1 (the Chemo Turban) is still on the needles. When searching Ravelry for free hat patterns, I saw this pattern and thought it was a pretty cool concept, so decided to knit it. After picking out the yarn and working a couple few gage swatches, I settled on an appropriate needle size (8s) and settled down on my comfy couch to get started. After setting up the crochet cast on and the first two rows, I read the rest of the pattern to discover that the pattern called for 4 x 4 ribbing for 40 inches (yep, you read that right and for you Canadians: that's just shy of 102 cm). Dammit! It takes a lot for me abandon a pattern, and I wasn't going to start now. Well, while out of town this week, I ran out of yarn with 12 inches to go. So, tomorrow's plans will involve making a quick run to Stitch in Time to pick up another skein. Yes, I was just there on Monday. No, I wasn't smart enough to realize at the time that I didn't have enough yarn. Head hanging in shame Like chemo cap #2, this hat is being knit using Berroco Comfort, and none of the Lansing yarn shops have this particular verigated colorway.

So, with Chuck upstairs sick in bed and Sylvain out of town, I'm left with some alone time tonight to start work on chemo cap #3 (the Lotus Hat), which will be knit using Berroco Comfort DK. Hopefully, this hat won't take too long. After all, I have quite a bit of reading to do too....

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Book Thief has struck....again

This weekend was a very productive one for me: stashed onto Ravelry all of my non-project wool (not the sock yarn wool and when I say "non-project", I'm referring to odds, ends, and single skeins); taught a dozen or so Girl Scouts and their moms how to knit and left their retreat with them well on their way to having some cat mats to donate to the Eaton County animal shelter; saw "The Book of Eli" with Sylvain (good rental); and started and completed nearly one donor chemo cap ("The off balance beanie") and am half-way done another ("The chemo turban").

Before I start snarking about the knitting, let me tell y'all the latest book drama. This weekend, I had such high hopes to make a large dent on the reading I needed to do for book club, which is "The Book Thief." BUT, the book seems to have disappeared on me. I remember reading it on Thursday....and after that? No idea. I've looked everywhere, which (for the record) now includes a thorough search thru the back seat of my car. I'm at complete and total wits end and am seriously considering purchasing yet a third copy of this book. [Marcus Zuzack, if the sales numbers are looking great this quarter, you've got me to thank, pal!] If I didn't have to lead the discussion for this book, I'd call it quits now. When I left the house to go shop hopping in Howell with Sarah and Jessie today, I gave Sylvain two chores: empty the dishwasher and find my book. Hopefully, he'll have some luck!

Okay, the chemo cap knitting is going okay. I'm a complete retard when it comes to reading patterns all the way thru before starting the pattern. Actually, what I should say is that I don't read the pattern all the way, then get pissed off when I hit a point where something isn't working. Case in point: on "The off balance beanie", I *thought* that there was an issue with the decreasing for the crown and had Sarah read that part over. She looked at the photo and we both agreed that the pattern looked fine there. I double-checked the pattern page on Ravelry and didn't see any complaints, so went with it as written. Once I was finished with the hat, Sarah, Jessie, and I thought that it needed to be a little longer, so I tore the hat out back down to the row before the decreases and inserted another two sets of the 8 row body patterning. While working these extra rows, I noticed the following phrase at the end of the pattern: "Sew up back seam, and Voila!" What a minute, what back seam?!? I knit this hat in the round!?! No wonder the decreasing rows didn't look right to me. Dammit! Now I have to think and flip around the instructions when I'm ready to decrease again.

As for the chemo turban: why in the hell didn't I notice that the directions call for 40-inches of 4x4 ribbing. How frakking miserable does that sound? I'm only on 20-inches and have been working on and off on this hat for almost a week; this hat is taking a little longer than I want, so it better end-up being really cool and worthwhile....

[Note: I'll update this entry with links when I get to a real computer....]

Sunday, January 10, 2010

First scarf ot the year done & actor deja vu

This past weekend was one of those where you suddenly realize it's Sunday and you have absolutely no concept of where the weekend even went. It all started on Friday when Chuck and I went cross-country skiing after work at Burchfield Park. The County Parks Department lights up the trails with smoke pots, so we decided to give skiing there a try. It was pretty fun and I hope that we can find the time to do it again. Afterwards, we had a quick dinner with Sylvain, then dropped him and a friend off for a laser tag lock-in with their Order of the Arrow Lodge.

From there, Chuck and I met up with a former coworker (also named Chuck) at the theater to see "Daybreakers" -- which takes place in 2019, 10 years after vampires had taken over the world and normal humans are being farmed like cattle for their blood, but are quickly dying off. The movie was okay, though all three of us were openly laughing during parts that I think were meant to be serious. Needless to say, we didn't get home until late and I needed to be up by 5 am to pick up the boys, so I didn't stay up for long while Chuck fell asleep to the TV.

Saturday morning's pick-up was thankfully uneventful, and I decided to skip my morning fitness class because I was still fairly tired. I could only take in a couple more hours of rest because we needed to head out to Howard City for a roller skating birthday party for my niece Calista. It was a fun party and my niece is getting better at skating. We were all pretty bushed and hungry after the party, so the three of us decided to stop at Rosie's Diner in Rockford on the way home, which Chuck had heard about from the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives". The food was okay (standard issue diner fare) and it put Sylvain and I right to sleep during the drive home.

Once home, I was re-energized, so decided to head to the gym for a little while to work off the olive burger I had eaten. Afterwards, Chuck and I headed over to Mark's to watch a movie called "Dark City" with him and Becky. I can't say that I'd necessarily recommend this film to many people. It is a hard to describe late-90s science fiction movie about a man who can't remember who he is, yet is being framed and hunted by aliens who are manipulating the minds of the people around him. Later, Chuck and I had an intense discussion as to whether Kiefer Sutherland has ever made a good film. Watch this one and you'll think not.

So anyhow, after watching the movie, we stuck around for SNL, then headed home. I don't know if it was being out in the brittle air or what, but by the time we got home, I was completely wide awake, so I started working on the scarf I had been weaving while Chuck watched some TV. Since I was working in the dining room, I set up my Blackberry to stream podcasts that I had subscribed to thru Viigo and weaved away.

I ran into a few problems with the Plymouth Tweed that was the warp. The edges kept fraying with each pass of the heddle & shuttle, so extra attention needed to be paid to make sure that the fraying didn’t actually snap. There were three close calls, which required me to gently work the frayed ends together and try to spit splice them so that they held just long enough to be woven in. I really don’t know if this is the proper way to do this, but that’s what came to mind to do at the time.

I finally ran out of steam around 4:30 am and decided to finish up the following morning, thinking that I'd sleep in. Well, by my standards, I did sleep in, and was wide awake by 9:30, so I picked up the loom and finished off the scarf. The fabric feels a bit bullet-proof, but as soon as I find some time, I'll wash it in some Soak and hope that it softens up a bit.

Sunday afternoon, Chuck, Sylvain, and I met up with Mark and Becky to see "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus." The movie was pretty amazing in the visual effects and Gilliam revived a lot of the scenery within the Imaginarium from the Monty Python animations he is known for. I was struck with a little bit of deja vu while watching this movie because as Dr. Parnassus' daughter, Lily Cole was one of the main characters and Jude Law was one of the Imaginarium versions of another main character, Tony; I happened to have seen them both together in a movie called "Rage" earlier last week. These two movies couldn't have been more different; of the two, I highly recommend "Dr. Parnassus"; I was a little confused and bored by "Rage".

Not that "Dr. Parnassus" was chockful of excitement. I was able to make quite a bit of headway on a Dale of Norway 2010 Vancouver hat, so much so that I was able to finish it on Monday. This hat was made out of Jo Sharp that I happened to have hanging out in my stash. Sylvain loves the hat and doesn't wait for me to tell him twice to put it on while heading out the door. So, this is one pattern that's teen-approved.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Trying not to snort the chenille

I'm very happy to report that I finished Payton's Prairie Boots. And now that those are complete, I can put my sewing kit away for a very long time because I'm sick of sewing.

Amazingly, the buttons ended up being nice and straight, and they actually fit into the button holes.

And, I've received many nice compliments about how even the stitching was for the soles.

Alright, enough of me gushing.

So, flash-back to Thanksgiving weekend. The same weekend as I bought the yarn and slipper bottom kit for Payton's Prairie Boots, I also picked up some chenille for Chuck's mom Mary. We were shopping at the French Creek Fiber Arts shop in Avon, OH. Mary dug right into the sale bin while Peggy, the shop owner, and I were busy color matching various wools. Looking at the pile of yarn on the table, I felt pretty satisfied that we had found all of the right yarns I needed to get started. Mary came over to the table and joined us with a wad of chenille from Cherry Tree Farm in hand.

I had never seen a super-bulky chenille before and looking at it immediately made my hands ache while thoughts of absurd size 15 needles filled my head. "Don't you think this would make a nice looking scarf?" she asked us.

"Um, yeah," I replied, a little skeptical as to where this was all going. "I think I can make a scarf out of this, if you'd like one." Peggy looked over at me with a somewhat questioning glance. I didn't help that I had also told her about Milo's stocking and the multiple pairs of slippers I had been working on; so, seeing the large amount of yarn she had just helped me pick out for the boots, she probably thought I was a little nuts. Turning to Mary, I caught on and asked, "Waaiiiiit a don't want it for this Christmas, do you?"

"No. Just whenever will be fine," she whimpered; I think deep down she really did want them for this Christmas, but didn't want to say knowing all of the other projects I had already lined up. Regardless, the bulky-ass wad of chenille joined the rest of the wool in my shopping bag.

Well, flash-forward to this past Sunday. While at Woven Art for our monthly book club, I described the chenille I had bought to Nancy, with thoughts of weaving rather than knitting it. Since she always has a positive outlook on these things, her reply was "Of course you can weave with it!" Inspired by that, I returned to her shop on Wednesday to pick out a good warp yarn and get started on a scarf. I chose to use Plymouth Yarn's Plymouth Tweed for the warp. '

As I was warping my loom, Nancy wound the chenille for me into two large balls. "Wow," she exclaimed. "You're gonna need a dust mask when working with this!" Not exactly grasping what she meant, I just smiled over at her and kept on with what I was doing. Once my loom was ready, I decided to hang out and weave a few rows. After only a couple, I became very annoyed with the amount of fluff that had become airborne with each pass of the shuttle.

"Ugh, you weren't kidding!" I told her as we both admired what I had accomplished in a relatively short period of time. I just hope that the dye Cherry Tree Hill uses in non-toxic as I'm sure I'm inhaling a good deal of it. So, if I suddenly fall ill, please tell the doctor that it was due to chenille poisoning!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Starting off the new year in all the wrong ways

So far, I've accomplished next to no New Year goals: fitness membership not attained; no UFOs completed; book club book not yet finished for tomorrow's meeting; and my house is in complete disarray. And to think that I had expected that my plans to get into shape, keep no lingering knitting projects, stay on top of the club's book list, and maintain an orderly house were meager resolutions to have.

I don't have much to say except that I should share photos of my coworker's grandson's stocking that was finished just before the holidays. There wasn't a written pattern for me to work with, so I just winged it based on the other stockings I was shown to use as template.

I'm very happy with how well the reindeer turned out. Credit goes to Michelle Ryan who posted a reindeer crochet chart that I used to base the stitching on.

Also, today I printed several patterns that I hope to use for chemo caps in time for Knit Michigan. In no particular order, the patterns are:

Ann's Cap
Esprit Chemo Turban
Wavy Lace Cable Cap
Lotus Hat

Wish me luck!