Friday, December 23, 2005

It's Judy!!!

It seems the kitten's name is Judy. This was actually the second name Len came up with, then we spent a week running through names. The other night I started calling her Alice, at which point he decided he really preferred Judy. We don't know how she feels about it, she ignores us. Except when we are eating, then she channels The Kitty.

Tower of Cats

Kill the Fish!

Gwen's Reaction (Why? whywhywhy?)

Simon's Reaction (I crush you, you are a leeetle bug...right after I wash my leg)


Here is a picture of the sleeve.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Something you should never do

You should never. EVER. go running at night, on a country road with no sidewalks, when the shoulder is covered in snow, in a dark purple running suit. You are the color of the road. The tiny, dirty reflectors on your wrists? They don't help.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Progress on River Grass Gansey

Last night I got to the point on the sleeve that I can start the cuff. I am having some issues.

(This is someone else's picture of the finished sweater {it's from the book}, I'm using it to illustrate what is going on.)

The sleeve is supposed to be 16 inches from where it meets the shoulder (which is actually a little way down the upper arm) to the cuff -- by this point, according to the pattern, I am to have decreased to 79 stitches. I am just over 16 inches and have decreased to 83 stitches. I can live with having extra stitches: I need to decrease a bunch of stitches when starting the cuff and can throw in a few more. The big problem I am having is that there are two rates of decrease: on the upper part of the sleeve (where all of the patterning is), I was to decrease two stitches every 8 rows, in the lower part (where there is just the braid), I was to decrease two stitches every 3 rows. This creates a very steep angle at the lower part of the arm and makes a very sudden transition between the two halves.

What I am thinking is that I will finish the cuff and then have Dad try it on. It may be that the rates of decrease just look stupid when lying flat and will actually be fine when on (I could find a photo that shows the inside of the sleeve, so I have no way of knowing). I'm not really counting on it. If it does look bad, I will figure out a more evenly distributed rate of decrease and test it on the second sleeve, before... ripping out the first one and re-knitting it.

Why yes, that does mean I'll be knitting three sleeves. And trying to recall High School Geometry (a sleeve is a modified triangle of some sort after all).

Oh well. This sweater seems to exist to be ripped. Last winter I ripped it back to the ribbing after I'd gotten halfway up the body (I either screwed up the cable crossing and tried to maintain the mistake, then screwed that up. Or I just thought I did and then freaked out and ripped it out. Whichever.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Kitty

The Kitty was not the epitome of feline grace. She had been rescued as a young cat by a former co-worker of Len's many years ago, her left eye having been shot out b.b. gun. When Len took her over about five years ago she developed a tumor, which turned out to be cancer. An X-Ray taken at that time turned up a b.b. in one of her hips. She was stone deaf, de-clawed, and she didn't weigh more than 4 pounds.

The Kitty liked great heights, but regularly fell off of them: she would have preferred to sleep on top of the television (about 3 feet off the ground), but the sound of her hitting the floor was so sad that we put a small stack of books on top of it, so she slept on the DirecTV receiver instead (about a foot lower, but a little wider, so she didn't fall off as often). When she died, she took the receiver with her: it seems she couldn't get down in time when she had to....mmmmm...evacuate. So she did it on top of of the receiver.

Her original name was Cleo, but Len didn't like it, so he always called her The Kitty. She was deaf so it didn't matter much to her. The Kitty seemed to fit her better anyway, she always believed she was The Only One. Neither of the other cats in the house were worth anything. If they got too close she would try to rip their faces off. Simon (the 16 pound football player cat) shrugged off her attempts. Gwen (the neurotic 14 pound cat) was afraid of her. She would attack visiting dogs, as well.

When it came to food (especially pizza), she could muster the agility of a gymnast and the speed of a sprinter. Since we don't have a dining room or eat-in kitchen, we eat sitting on the couch. We had to guard our dinner vigilantly, lest she run off with it, she would stand with her tiny little paws on our chests looking for an opportunity to steal food from the fork. She was relentless.

The Kitty died in October. She waited until we left for vacation and made our friends, Keith and Stef handle the details.* We buried her in the garden, next to the greenhouse and planted daffodils on top. Cheerful flowers for a not-very-cheerful cat. We miss her very much.

*They did this with grace and tact, and we are eternally grateful..

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stanley Tookie Williams

Stanley Tookie Williams was executed at 12:01 this morning. I don't know whether or not he was innocent of the murders for which he was convicted -- he and his supporters say he was, the prosecutors, judges and jury say he was not -- he certainly was not innocent of unleashing the violence of the Crips.

There are a lot of arguments against the death penalty. That it is inherently racist. That it does not prevent crime. That it does not really provide closure for the victims' families. That it takes too long and costs too much. That a society that kills people cannot take the moral high ground. Etc. etc. (see especially Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean).

But, for me, what it boils to is this: are human beings ever capable of redemption? Or are we only as good as the worst thing we've ever done?

I hope Arnold Schwarzenegger is visited by ghosts every night for the rest of his life.

But Will She Eat Pizza?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dad's Sweater -- A Progress Report

The River Grass Gansey

I'm actually a little further along on the sleeve than when this picture was taken, but this is a pretty nice picture of how it looks (the green is a little brighter).

And, yes, that is Black Label beer next to the sweater, and no, I was not drinking it, I have much better taste than that! The boyfriend has the lousy taste in beer. I do have to say, though, in defense of Black Label: the logo design is Classic. Too bad the contents are swill!

Here is a close up. The pattern is from Jamieson's Shetland Knitting 2.

I'm knitting this with Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece using #5 needles. I chose the yarn because my dad find wool sweaters very warm (even though he and my stepmom keep their house quite cold), and I was hoping the cotton/wool blend in the yarn would counteract the weight and "stringy-ness" of 100% cotton. It is, however, pretty heavy, which makes me nervous (will this sweater eventually stretch to Dad's knees? Tune in later..) The shoulders are already put together, and don't seem sturdy enough to support it, so I intend to reinforce them. Otherwise, I really like the sheen of the yarn and how well it shows off the patterns.

It looks to me like the sleeve will done by Christmas. I love knitting them from the top down because the number of stitches are decreasing, which always makes the knitting go faster!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wool Scarf Heresy

When I got to work today it was 8 degrees (and now it has gone down a degree, so now it is freakin' *7* degrees). It was just as cold yesterday, so I decided to pull out my wool scarf.

Here's the thing. I've been avoiding getting this scarf out, not because it's ugly, it isn't -- it's really quite beautiful (if I do say so myself). I made it out of a Berroco wool/rayon (and if I were a better blogger, I'd go research exactly what yarn it is, but I'm not going to do that now), in this really deep, dark steel gray. It's a very long, cabled scarf (my yarn shop had a sample of a Berroco-designed cabled scarf, and while I liked their scarf very much, I just can't pay $10 or more for a pattern when I can pick my own cables, thank you very much), and I knitted this thing for years (I hate knitting scarves, remember?) I love this scarf. I really do.'s the heresy: it itches. Yes, I said it. It *itches*! In Fiber Snot-head World those are fighting words. Well, arguing words, because I *did not* say I am allergic. I don't get welts, I don't swell up, in fact, I can wear wool next to my skin below my waist without a problem. But sweaters, scarves, and hats? *Itchy*!

Now, hats have the additonal "hat-head" problem, so I don't tend to wear them anyway (except in the most dire circumstances), and sweaters can (and generally should) be worn with a layer underneath (although, I do have a sweater that itches even with a layer under it, but I suspect the wool isn't great). But, usually this means turtlenecks. I hate turtlenecks. And scarves have to be worn next to the neck, or they just don't keep the cold out. So they itch, and I suffer.

Truly this is a sorrowful state of affairs. Because I love wool, I want to wear it easily, I don't want to avoid my scarf. But there you are. I'm a heretic. Wool itches.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Bit on Jarhead. And knitting

Would last comment be....hmmm..The Flaming Carrot????

I haven't seen the movie yet (I also have a little thing for a GOOD war movie, and "Platoon" doesn't count). The New York Times main complaint was that it is "cold", the way "American Beauty" is cold. And since I didn't find "American Beauty" cold, at least not in a bad way, I suspect I may like the movie of "Jarhead". In any case, if you haven't already, you must see "Three Kings". That's a great movie.

In the book he hasn't gotten to the war yet. My irritation with Swofford's writing I think has to do with his inexperience as a writer (and editor). He doesn't seem to keep a consistent voice and sometimes gets weirdly romantic.


I got a few inches done on the sleeve for my Dad's sweater on Saturday, but didn't get any knitting done on Sunday. Nothing. That's just wrong. It worries me that I won't get the sleeve done by Christmas. I'd post a picture of the sweater, but I'm stuck in the dark ages of film, so I haven't anything current.

Instead of knitting I started to measure a warp for a loom. This warp should hopefully eventually become Something. Like a shawl to keep me warm when my office is cold. Maybe.

Gratuitous cat picture
Because we miss her...

The Kitty

Friday, December 02, 2005

More books

I had said yesterday that I would post about what I am reading now, and so early in this blogging thing, I should try to keep my promises!

So right now I am reading two books: Jarhead by Anthony Swofford and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I'm not far enough into either of them to render very much of an opinion.

However, since I am an opinionated gal, I'll say a couple of things. First, I always like a good war memoir, and so far I am liking Jarhead, for the most part -- sometimes the way he uses language rings a little tinny. I like the way it is constructed, in very short, sharp chapters. I could use this as an opportunity to bash the current war, but I won't. At least not right now.

Second, I'm only through the introduction to Short History, but Bill Bryson is always worth reading. And it seems to be about evolution. So that's controversial! (Hi Cindy! That was for you!)

I'm going away now. Maybe some knitting content on Monday? Hopefully, if I make progress...


How fun is this? I'm getting comments from friends (hi Sarah!), family and even complete strangers! Yay!

Krista -- yes, well, I learned housekeeping skills from our father so my attitude is a bit...relaxed. Of course, I am not without compulsive tendencies: just watch me try to get our shower doors clean! Ugh, glass doors on a shower? Whose stupid idea was that?

Cottage46 -- I agree, The Waltons held up much better. It was so much more genuine than Little House.

As far as where I live: Len (my boyfriend) and I are between Ann Arbor and Jackson, near a small town called Grass Lake. I grew up in Ann Arbor, but lived for several years in SW Michigan in White Pigeon and Centreville (and was the village, I mean secretary, for Constantine), all in the same county as Sturgis. Actually, a big part of why I love where I live now so much is that it reminds of St. Joseph County -- soybean and corn fields, old fart farmers, crummy diner food, bars and churches in equal number, and lots and lots of pick-up trucks. It's all very comforting.

Lee's blogging lesson of the day
I only have a vague notion of this blogging thing, so I am learning as I go. Today's lesson will be inserting links:
Marianne Kinzel's First Book of Lace Knitting can be found here. (Please note, even though I linked to Amazon, I don't necessarily advocate buying your books there, I'm a big fan of buying locally as much as possible, but they do provide a very good service, especially when your favorite local bookstore was bought out by K-Mart. I'm just sayin')

Ha! I just learned how to move a picture and insert a link (at least I think I did)! I might figure this thing out yet (though you might not want to hold your breath)..

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Despite much evidence to the contrary, my life isn't all about knitting. Occasionally, I read. And as it turns out, so do most of my friends and family. Wacky, how that works.

I just finished re-reading the Little House on the Prairie series, which I haven't read since I was much younger. TV Land has been playing the series as well. I loved both the books and the series, so I was really curious about how each held up. The books continue to be wonderful (though not exactly P.C. when it comes to Indians or gender relations), and in some ways they are even more interesting and richer now, as an adult, than they were when I was much younger. The series...not so much. Treacly 70's crap. Though it might interest you to know that Mary really did go blind and Nellie really was a spoiled rotten adversary (though her circumstances were rather different).

I'll try to post about what I'm reading now tomorrow...