Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Finally some pictures, but first we have to do math.

Tonight while I watched Freak Show American Idol and House, I knitted a swatch for Thermal. Turns out I had the wrong yarn in mind for the scarf, so that will have to wait. This is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool on #3 needles:


Trouble is, pattern gauge is 28 stitches/4 inches, and I am not getting that, I'm getting 24:


I like this fabric. I think it might close up a little too much if I go down to a 2.75mm needle, and I don't even have one of those, so I am not sure what I'm going to do. Thoughts? Basically I'd make the 38 size, and at 7spi that is 266 stitches. At 6spi it's 228. (I'd end up with over 44" eek.) I can make the smallest size at my gauge by following instructions for 224 stitches, or I can change needles. I will think about it for a couple days. I may swatch it in the round as well - the sweater is knit in the round, and my gauge tends to be tighter that way. Didn't think of that.

I will say one thing - this is why I knit socks. Every sweater I've ever swatched has ended in abject frustration and disappointment and it was not for lack of trying. I got gauge and hated the fabric, or I hate the yarn, or I decide I don't like the pattern.

It's very cold here tonight so we are all bundled up. Fee will sit near the couch but not on it and feels most comfortable if she is sitting under my legs or a blanket. Grady just slobs down wherever he likes.

Fee hides

Grady is snoozing

And a Project 365 picture from today:


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A nice, helpful person from Bloglines is helping me out.

I spent today reading (I know this is sacreligious but I don't like to read much anymore). Grrr. My country-fried steak tasted icky at lunch, traffic was bad, and I'm generally a meanie today. (Put yourself in my mindset for two seconds. Roll with it.)

Then I saw Elbac. And if you saw me last night, you saw me bothering a poor girl for the second time about her scarf pattern and poring over a book that had a scarf in it just like the aqua one. And I think I have some scrumptious alpaca in the stash for a new scarf.

It's Love. And this, with a slightly different neckline because of my linebacker shoulders, is Like.

Pictures later. I have to take down a website tonight, and eat something before I either pass out or get so hungry I eat my weight in Cheetos. !!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

A quick note, if you're getting a red [!] in Bloglines

Bloglines has messed up the feeds coming in from Blogger. At the moment I'm trying to verify that I own this blog so I can combine the feeds into one that works. It's not updating one of the feeds - one that has 50 subscribers! And now when I am trying to fix it I think Blogger is telling it that my New Blogger* information isn't valid.

I have a note in to Bloglines about this, and I'm trying to fix it. Sorry y'all! In the meantime, the workaround is to unsubscribe from the feed with the [!] next to it and then come back here, click the Bloglines button in the sidebar, and pick the atom.xml feed - http://meangirl.blogspot.com/atom.xml

*New Blogger! Only slightly less craptastic!

Something nice you can do

Sometimes, when you read stories like these it's difficult to imagine what you can do to help the person you're reading about.

Here is Allison's blog, with Evan's story in her own words, and here is her eBay store.

Maybe think about what you could contribute by buying something from her, you know? Um, because most of us aren't running away from yarn and she's selling it and brain surgery for a three-month old is a Good Cause. I think if we could all spread the news around and a couple hundred people spent about $10 apiece *on yarn* at her eBay store, that might make a difference. And I think it's one of the things she needs, based on this post.

What do y'all think? I'm going to buy something Wednesday when I get paid. I've always wanted to try Mission Falls 1824 wool. No time like the present.

If you can't, don't want to or haven't got the money, PLEASE don't feel bad. There's no pressure. I firmly believe that if you're one of the people who is supposed to do this, you'll know. If you aren't going to, don't feel cheerful about doing it or I'm simply annoying you, just come back tomorrow...I'll try to be funny or knitworthy...and just say a prayer today for this little family. It's okay. It really is. (I'm just trying to put the word out, though it's really funny to think that after Laurie posted about it somehow I would need to help pass it on. I am not trying to make you feel awful or pressured.)

Fee is glad that her post-bath performance was so enjoyable yesterday, and horrified to learn how many kitties *ACCIDENTALLY* get in the shower. She would like y'all to know that she would NEVER EVER EVER do that, because do you know how long it takes her coat to dry? (Hours!)

Fee and Grady get a bath every three weeks. They do not like it, At All.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I apologize to Fee for this

There is just nothing sadder than a kitty fresh out of the tub. I had to share it. Y'all, look at her TAIL! (It's fluffy again now though.)

look here

(I do not actually sound like a cartoon character in real life.)

Update: I had to do this, because it was driving me crazy starting up every time I hit this page, and I'm sure it bothered y'all, too. Click the link...

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Well, here I am!

My email has been down for two days, then I had to switch my Blogger account over, then today I was out of town. I have discovered that the Peace Fleece is more like Asthma-Trigger Fleece and I am going to exchange it. Other than that, I don't have any news except that after 5 days on my superdecongestant I can hear better than I have in literally years, maybe ever. (I think, unless everyone around me is just talking a lot louder.) I got another quilt lesson today and I'm going to make a little postage-stamp quilt to see how it goes.

More tomorrow, and some pictures! :)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fee Takes the Wheel

As dictated to Tall Cat by a certain fluffy kitty. (No, I am not that crazy. Just roll with it.)

Hi everyone, I am Jen's kitty Fee, and I was reading over at Lucy's blog and she did it and I know Tall Cat Jen is feeling bad so I decided to take her place for the night. Oh, and May did it too! So all the cool cats are doing it.

This is sunset:

Another sky

This is a rusty bucket o'truck seen yesterday:
Rusty car

I like to sleep all curled up, preferably in a cardboard box or on the floor. The laser pointer is my favorite toy and my favorite snack is tuna. I come running when I hear Jen brushing her hair because I like her hairbrush more than my own. I also like to hide hair scrunchies under the bed.

Hey, Chaos and May, you can get away with a lot more yarn mauling if you restrain yourselves a little bit, oh, and learn to use the swift, because if you rewind the skeins she will neeeeever know. Stealth, friends! And no biting! I have taken skeins of yarn all OVER this house and nobody is the wiser!

Y'all, I have nothing to blog about. Thanks for putting up with my silliness tonight! And if your pet blogs, leave me a link!


Tuesday, January 23, 2007


(I know.) (Snicker.)

Bambini is a kind of soup. Italian soup, to be exact, the kind you give little kids when they are sick and in bed and need something to breathe in and make them feel better. It's made with broth and pepper and parmesan and a little butter and some teeny tiny pasta like alphabetini. (Try it. Just throw it in a pot and boil until the noodles are done.) It's comfort food of the highest order, though if you aren't careful it can get very salty. Better to buy low-sodium broth and salt it if you need to. Or use a bouillion that is not very salty. It beats the snot out of Campbell's.

I went to the doctor today, third time in three months because my ears have been killing me. This time I saw a PA who has helped me tons in the past with my asthma. She says there is tons of fluid in my inner ears and prescribed an industrial-strength decongestant for me to take every 12 hours for the next 30 days. (I have an odd whoom-whoom noise inside my head when I swallow, that's fluid hitting my ear drum, and I've been randomly dizzy as well as in quite a bit of pain recently.) This is a minor annoyance, but I really hope it clear up and I feel kind of punky. (Originally my doc told me to take old-school Sudafed every day, but that made my heart pound and race and apparently that can kill you, so this is Plan B, otherwise known as No-Kill Decongesting. Woo!)

On the plus side, my lungs sound really good. This is progress! Asthma-matic! Woo!

(Thunk.) Where was I? Oh yeah, Bambini. I made up a pot and I've been working on my new Monkey socks (yay! someone guessed) and they are AWESOME. Let me tell you about Cookie - girl can WRITE a sock pattern. She is genius, and y'all should knit one of her patterns because they are simple and entertaining and they look like you did something all complicated so they really feed your ego. Heh.

So tonight it's soup, socks and my Predators hockey jersey here at Chez Mean Girl. (These things are WARM.) What are y'all doing?

Clearly I am not doing Stashalong

And I don't want to, don't need to, and am not going to. :)

New Yarn

This is Socks That Rock in Beryl, gotten from the swap for my ill-fitting 1 1/2 Hedera socks. (Shh, don't tell Becky that I got the better end of the deal.) This yarn is gorgeous. It has already been attacked by the cats - a sure sign it's quality stuff. (Only one tiny piece was out of sorts in the skein, but it was dragged all over the room.)

The Peace Fleece is for an Everyday Cardigan - Zonda and I seem to be on the same knitting wavelength all the time. The color is called Negotiation Gray and this yarn smells weirder than any other I've ever put my nose to. It smells woodsy or maybe even plasticky. The scent is not sheep, lanolin, or Barn.

The Cashsoft Aran was an impulse purchase tonight at SnB because I need to remake my poor addled Debbie Bliss Fetching mitts. Like the Rowan so much more for this pattern.

Anyway, I also started a new sock project I can't get off my back. Any guesses?

And I have a skein of STR in Lucy coming. No Stashalong for me!

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Monday, January 22, 2007

No need to waste time

I bought a mattress yesterday. One of the things I learned from the godsend that is the internet is that you can't really honestly comparison shop from store to store when it comes to buying a mattress. You can find a Simmons you like at store A, and a Simmons at store B, but you have no guarantee they are the same mattress...you just have to pick which one you like better. Mattress makers are experts at obfuscation. And since most mattresses are of very similar construction, if you find one whose comfort you like and price you can live with, you are doing very well indeed.

I bought a Sealy Posturpedic Adams Farm Plush Queen from Macy's, and with the free delivery, sale price and tax break I figure I saved about $400. Tasty. It felt nice, and so does the mattresss. Delivery sometime after February 1.

You know it's just gone into the world of the surreal when you make the choice between the Simmons and the Sealy because the Simmons is too hot. I mean, if I was laying on it in a department store with no blanket or anything and it felt too hot, there was just no way it was coming home with me. Why was it hot? Some kind of weird reflective body-heat conservation method?

Anyway, I'm glad that's over with. Anyone who would like the links I found that really helped me sort out the market, just email me. :) I also got two pairs of jeans and two pairs of khakis. I know the Gap is supposedly the armpit of style lately but nobody's pants fit me better.

The short version of how to knit the stitches out of order for the Shifting Sands scarf is - for the cable where you are supposed to put one on the needle to the front...skip over stitch 1, knit 2 and 3 and then knit stitch 1 and slip them all off. For the cable where you are supposed to put two to the back, skip over the first two on the left needle and knit stitch 3, then knit stitch 1, then stitch 2.

I watched a lot of football yesterday...though I'm torn up over watching the poor Saints play so badly, I'm glad for the Bears. I have never particularly liked the team but I know Bears fans are Serious about their Football (I have a BIL who is Very Serious), and...certain defensive backs aside, y'all deserved the win. And besides, 1985 was a very long time ago. I was a FRESHMAN, y'all. In high school. Ouch. The Colts-Pats game was the best game I've watched all year. It was high-energy incredible from the first snap, and in the end, time simply ran out on the Patriots. The teams were so evenly matched.

Now go kick Peyton Manning's scrawny backside in the Superbowl, hear?

Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hi again

I'm not sure if the people who wrote to me asking how I did the scarf without a cable needle and without the 'cabling with no cable needle' technique were kidding, missed the post where I described it or have tried it and haven't been able to get it.

So...here again are the basics...just try it...

Let's start with the 1/2RC.

So what we are looking for in that 1/2RC is a cable where the leftmost stitch of the three becomes the rightmost stitch on your right needle. Right? All a cable is is swapping the order of your stitches. For this cable, instead of 1-2-3 going right to left, we want 3-1-2. And because 3 stretches slightly it will make a lovely twist.

(Let me interject here that you still need to think in terms of going at a right or back cable from the front, and a left or front cable from the back, because you are working the opposite stitches from what you would place on the cable needle.)

So...what you are going to do for this is knit stitch #3 but don't take it off the left needle, then knit stitches 1 and 2, in order. Once you have finished stitch 2, let them all drop off the left needle. (You may have to drop stitch one off after you knit it to get into stitch 2. The important thing is, don't drop off stitch 3 till last.)

So, it reiterate, we want the rightmost stitch (#3) to be the last stitch we knit. If it is, the stitch will stretch and angle diagonally to the left...a left crossing cable.

Now for the 1/2LC. Normal cabling instructions say to put the slipped stitch to the front, so we are going in the back. This puts the rightmost stitch over to the left so it angles diagonally. Therefore, we want that first right stitch, the one that is supposed to angle over, to be the last one we knit of the three. Those 1-2-3 stitches have been knitted 2-3-1. The result is that your knitting will angle right - a right crossing cable.

Here's how to do that...knit stitch 2 and stitch 3 in order THROUGH THE BACK LOOPS, knit stitch 1 and let them all drop off your left needle. By some paradoxical quantum leap I am not qualified to comment on, your stitches will not be twisted on the return row.

I absolutely 100% Mean Girl Guarantee™ that this will work, and will be completely indistinguishable from the cable-needle and no-cable-needle versions.


When I knit the Porch Princess™ sweater for Fee I just took a bunch of measurements for her, knit a tube, put arm holes in the appropriate places and kept trying it on her. While I think my finished version is too short for her long body, it came out pretty well. I am not even sure I took notes on how many stitches, bad Jen.

So, I'm in the market for a mattress. Wish me luck - the world of mattress shopping is crazy. On purpose by the crazy manufacturers.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A FO, two WIPs,

And two cats.

Finally finished, and I attached a snap on the inside to hold the other point down:
Finished Kimono

Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting.
Yarn: King Tut Cotton in pink, one skein.
Yarn Source: Threaded Bliss Yarns.
Modifications: I added a snap on the inside to hold the other point down.

Fun knit, fast, and heartbreakingly cute!

A Green Sock, more on that tomorrow:
My green sock 2.0

Remember, no cable needle, and no "cabling without a cable needle" either. Seriously!
Shifting Sands progress



Friday, January 19, 2007

A Small Part of My Own Story

Today you should read this.

If you've ever struggled with your weight or not knowing why you are how you are or even just want to read some really great writing by someone who is Real, read Laurie's blog today. Ok? Ok.

A few years ago I decided I was too unhealthy - with a diabetic mom, a stressful job and fifty extra pounds on my hips, I had plenty of reasons to change that. For me it came down to doing things I can live with. I can't live with going to the gym six days a week - but I can go for a walk. Etc.

I have decided because of some knee pain and stuff to change my stairs to walking. I'm starting with 20 minutes a day, and I'll work up to 30. By the time warm weather gets here I should be in decent shape to walk 40 minutes 4 times a week. (When I walk, I power walk.)

I seamed the sleeves of the baby kimono last night while I was watching TV. Now I am not sure about it - about the fastening aspect. I will try to come up with something tonight or tomorrow.

Here are two pictures for you. :)



(Yes, that really is how Fee sleeps.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Tale of Two Kitties

As told in pictures, by Grady and Fee. (Lots of pictures!)

Once upon a time there were two kitties who followed their friend Tall Cat into the WC:

Two kitties

Their names were Fiona and Grady. Fiona was the playful, happy, chirpy, scaredy cat who liked listening to Enya and hiding, and Grady was the cuddly, snoozy, mellow, lovey cat whose tastes tended more to military programs on tv and leftover steak. Grady came in with the hopes of scoring some Petromalt, but Tall Cat forgot to buy it. So Grady told Fee that HE was the best kitty ever.

Fee countered, and presented her evidence.

She bragged on and on about her Tufty Paws™, one of the characteristics she felt made her of superior breed and stock to Grady:



Front paws are Tufty, too.

Tufty again

She demonstrated her lifelong obsession with water, especially in one Porcelain Fixture:

Obsessed with water

And showed off her Fancy Britches (Or, as Tall Cat likes to call them, Hammer Pants):


Grady yawned and asked to be let out. The battle royale continues.

Grady is waiting patiently

Tall Cat would like y'all to know that nice people don't play favorites.

The End

An article I found with pictures

Ariel has an article here about how to do the very thing I describe below, with pictures. Be aware, though - she only works two stitches instead of three, but the principle is EXACTLY the same.

See? I told you surely I wasn't the first person to ever think this up. I think y'all can do it too! :)

Also - to answer Chris' question below - Fee's toes are very fluffy! They have little tufty fur between them, and she has actual fur on the bottom of her paws (not her toe pads, just in between the joints). Fee is a Maine Coon - the boxcar body shape, extra-long, wraparound tail, strange long guard hairs in her fur, britches and tufty ears are part of her look. Though she's tiny for a Maine Coon at 12.5 pounds, she would dwarf most other cats. She's also tiny compared to Grady! I'll try to corner her to get a picture of her paws tonight, but no promises...she's a scaredy-cat. But very fluffy!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cabling without a cable needle

The scarf is called Shifting Sands. Free pattern by Grumperina, y'all! Go get it! My yarn is Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK. It's quite lovely.

It really helps if you can cable without a cable needle, and it really really helps if you do the following handy-dandy trick INSTEAD of cabling. It looks the same and has been road-tested on this scarf. It works, y'all! First, some explanation:

The pattern gives two cable instructions:
1/2LC: slip 1 st to dpn/cn and hold in front, k2, then k1 from dpn/cn.
1/2RC: slip 2 sts to dpn/cn and hold in back, k1, then k2 from dpn/cn.

For a good picture tutorial on cabling without a cable needle, click here. Though this is mildly terrifying, it is not fatal and it is easy to do. Try it! You'll be speeding through your cables in no time!

Many people would be baffled about how to do this with an odd number of stitches. A 2/2LC without a cable needle is easy after reading the tutorial and trying it out, but what in the world do you do with a 1/2? That's why I'm posting. To make your life easier! (Because I personally was baffled, and couldn't even figure out what to google search FOR; I am leaving this for posterity.)

To do these cables without a cable needle you reverse the number AND the direction. So where it says 1, you slip 2, and where it says back, you go in the front. This is your rule of thumb that will work every time.

For this walk-through you need some sticky wool, appropriate needles and a teeny glass of dutch courage if you are afraid.

For a 1/2LC, you go in the BACK.. Look at the next 3 stitches. Call them 1, 2, and 3 going right to left. Slip your right needle into stitches 2 and 3 with your right needle at the back of the work. Pull them off the left needle, including stitch 1, which will be loose, but won't go anywhere - and real quicklike pick up stitch 1 with the left needle again. It will be in position 3. Slide the other two stitches back onto the left needle. Knit across the stitches. Now this is what I'm talking about - instead of slipping one stitch to the cable needle, you slip two stitches to your right needle. The one "free" stitch is what would have gone on the cable needle. You do this by going in the backs of the stitches.

To do a 1/2RC, you go in the FRONT and pick up stitch 3 with the right needle. Slide all 3 stitches off the left needle and pick up the loose 2 with your left needle, then slip #1 back. Knit across the stitches. This time, instead of slipping two to the cable needle, you slip one to your right needle and let the two get picked up. You do this by going in the fronts of the stitches.

Slip all the stitches purlwise whenever you slip. Ok? Try it! I'll wait.

Now I'm going to show y'all the neatest trick I've ever accidentally discovered. It will work and be indistinguishable from the above method, or the cabling with a cable needle method. I call this my 'we hate cabling altogether' method although somebody somewhere has SURELY thought of this before. So are you ready? It helps to have some knitting handy to visualize this, because I don't have a tripod and because you know like everything else, knitting instructions don't make sense till you do them.

This works especially well for knitters who are absolutely sickened at the thought of purposely dropping stitches off the needle, because you don't have to do that to do these, and hey! no cable needle!

Let's start with the 1/2RC.

So what we are looking for in that 1/2RC is a cable where the leftmost stitch of the three becomes the rightmost stitch on your right needle. Right? All a cable is is swapping the order of your stitches. For this cable, instead of 1-2-3 going right to left, we want 3-1-2. And because 3 stretches slightly it will make a lovely twist.

(Let me interject here that you still need to think in terms of going at a right or back cable from the front, and a left or front cable from the back, because you are working the opposite stitches from what you would place on the cable needle.)

So...what you are going to do for this is knit stitch #3 but don't take it off the left needle, then knit stitches 1 and 2, in order. Once you have finished stitch 2, let them all drop off the left needle. (You may have to drop stitch one off after you knit it to get into stitch 2. The important thing is, don't drop off stitch 3 till last.) Do it...I'll wait. So, it reiterate, we want the rightmost stitch (#3) to be the last stitch we knit. If it is, the stitch will stretch and angle diagonally to the left...a left crossing cable.

Did you SEE what you just did? You did the exact same motion as cabling with a cable needle and cabling without a cable needle...exactly! And how easy was that ? So easy that the first time I did it I thought I must be screwing up.

Now for the 1/2LC. Normal cabling instructions say to put the slipped stitch to the front, so we are going in the back. The back? Yes. This puts the rightmost stitch over to the left so it angles diagonally. Therefore, we want that first right stitch, the one that is supposed to angle over, to be the last one we knit of the three. Those 1-2-3 stitches have been knitted 2-3-1. The result is that your knitting will angle right - a right crossing cable.

Here's how to do that...knit stitch 2 and stitch 3 in order THROUGH THE BACK LOOPS, knit stitch 1 and let them all drop off your left needle. By some paradoxical quantum leap I am not qualified to comment on, your stitches will not be twisted on the return row.

I absolutely 100% Mean Girl Guarantee™ that this will work, and will be completely indistinguishable from the cable-needle and no-cable-needle versions. But you have to Try. Be Brave. Consider that you will simply rip out all the knitting you just did anyway. I suppose it could be done with a 2/2 cross in either direction, but I haven't tested it, so those aren't MGG™.

But you'll be addicted to it. And man, I need a tripod!

Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm a little tense right now

May have something to do with a guy named Fayed, a suitcase and a tv show that manipulates the HECK out of its audience (I loved every bleeping minute of it).

Grady is in the chair, and Fee is under it. Y'all, I started this cleaning binge a few months ago. First I cleaned out my bookcase, then my closet. Then the front room. Last weekend was the yarn stash, remember? Slowly but surely I am trying to get rid of junk - some of it multiplies, like under the bathroom sink - but so far I'm doing pretty well. Regular cleaning gave me the idea for changing stuff up. :)

Here is my Project 365 picture for today:

Here is a picture of a new project I started:
Shifting Sands

Here is a picture of Grady sitting on the couch.

That's my Return of the King dvd box on the footstool, and Warren Beatty is yakking away on telly about how great he thinks he is. Yawn.

But tame after 24 tonight, huh?

6:45 am update

Grady would like y'all to know he is still sitting under the chair.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I am not looking forward to going to sleep

Today I had a pretty productive day. I started out by cleaning out my room, which was generally overcluttered and crowded and not very functional. This is in preparation for a project which will occur later in the month called "Replace the Crappy Mattress." Really! I'm shopping as of this week! (Hence the post title. My back hurts a lot from this bed.)

So anyway. I had a lot of stuff laying about that made no sense and did not a) help relax me or b) help me accomplish things. Like a clothes basket with a ripped pair of pants in it from Abercrombie that have been there at least six months. (You tell me.) So I moved everything out and around and vacuum-cleaned under all of it and decided that what that corner really needed was a Chair. I bought a big round brown chair and the tallest floor lamp known to man.

I was nervous about the chair, and spent a great deal of time thinking about what it might lack.

But really, y'all, despite some misgivings I originally had, it doesn't lack! It looks GOOD. The cats LOVE it. (They were both sleeping under it while I sat all alone on the couch and knitted.) It's very comfy. (Possibly what they sell at World Market is even a tad on the hip side.) Best of all, the room has become someplace I like sitting in, instead of just a sleep and computer room.

Y'all, Grady still won't come out. :)

So I also took another picture of Fee, because she let me, and because Grady was sleeping under the darn chair and that didn't make for a good picture:
Fee is Introspective

And I finished some knitting:
Kimono again

And I tried to review seaming over at Studio Knits but it wasn't happening, so I finished watching 24 and then watched Crossing Jordan (I loved J.D.! Dangit!). And now I am going to crawl into my nicely decorated but crappy mattress and hope my back doesn't hurt too much when I wake up.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I really have to get rid of Blogger

Today was Picture Day. I didn't do anything of interest except watch football and work on my baby sweater and take pictures. And ran out of gas, in my parking lot. (I have a history of cutting it close.) Luckily GB saved the day.

Two of Grady, three of Fee. Grady always takes good pictures, so the ones of Fee are my favorites. I hope I am not trying your patience by posting their pictures. I think the last one of Fee is one of my favorites. It's my Project 365 picture for today.

Fee says hi

Grady outside

Green eyes

Sleepy kitty

Fee is Alarmed

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Thursday, January 11, 2007


1. New hair:
New Hair

2. New sock:
Green sock

3. Sunset:

4. Things that make me happy, #471: the lining of my purse:
This makes me happy

Better Living Through Trickery

Went up steps twice today and down once. Wheezy and poundy.

(From the Notes section of my WW journal, today.)

Now, come on people! One minute of stairs is enough to get me out of breath. This from a person who was a high-level college athlete back in the day (for those of you who row, I sat 6th in the eights and loved every lung-burning moment of it). For three years I've been fairly regular at my three-times-a-week workouts. And still...there is an exercise out there that makes me feel like I am dying after ONE MINUTE.

I mean, you cannot get more physically pathetic than that. It is a sincere, back-breaking effort to make myself do this every day.

So. We are going to have a pep talk! Just for fun. Today I am going to talk to you about what you think you can do versus what you can actually do. The way I made it through months and months of stadium hills, running, swimming, weight lifting, and thousands of meters on the water is by sheer trickery. I worked out till I threw up, many times. I pushed myself beyond the limits of everything I ever thought I could do. And it was all Better Living Through Trickery.

I trick myself all the time - it's one of the little weird things about me I've come to know and love. I respond well to trickery (and stray animals, and infomercials). If you're a runner, maybe your trickery consists of just getting yourself out the door - that's half the battle. Or you run in groups and watch the feet of the person in front of you. Or you sing little cadences to yourself. If you're a knitter, you watch TV or listen to audio books during those long eye-bleeding stretches of stockinette that make your fingers pulse with boredom and have you trying every way to make a knit stitch you have ever read about in your life. If you're dieting, you fill your house with low-calorie, high-volume snacks so you don't feel deprived.

All this is one big run-on way of saying that you have to trick your mind to do anything that is by nature restrictive, exhausting or boring. It's against human nature to expend effort doing things that seem difficult and not immediately rewarding. Trickery is a way of a) making things easier and b) making rewards seem more important.

I learned Trickery from a girl named Pam at Grand Valley who was a Runner. She ran cross-country, and she was my friend Jill's roommate, who was also a Runner. In contrast, I ran best when someone was behind me with a whip. So when Jill and Pam and I went to work out, I felt like a pathetic slob who couldn't do anything. They were nice enough to take me on as a charity project. By then I lifted weights with the football team and could swim 45 minutes without stopping, in addition to rowing 2000 meters indoors in 45 seconds. But I stunk at running. I am by nature a competetive person, and I got through a lot of those miles through sheer contrariness alone. But one day Pam said something to me that I have never forgotten, one day when I was so tired and crabby and whiny and not feeling like doing ANYTHING, let alone running as the charity project part of my friends' workout. She said, "As tired as you are, if someone ran up behind you and tried to rob you, you could run away, right?" I said, "I don't know." She said, "Try it. Run hard. Just see if you can." Contrariness took over and I took off, and what do you know? I ran hard for a good half-mile.

And people, I learned Something. I learned that unless you are dying of hunger somewhere, in a hospital bed or have some other extreme setback going on in your life, there is more gas in the tank. And from that day on I have never let the excuse "I don't feel like it" stop me. Because right now, after eighteen flights of steps and wheezing and pounding, I could run if someone was chasing me.

You can almost always do more than you think you can. The mind is a terrible underestimater. You can trick yourself into doing more than you think you can, and train your mind to go farther. And when you train your mind to go farther, your body can go farther.

There are a whole host of little tricks and triggers you can do to make yourself do these things. Can I do twelve steps? Why do I think I need to miss today? I like that my stomach feels flatter. Etc.

Well, yeah. I always give myself the out of getting on the elevator when I can't do anymore, but I never take it.

So...y'all must use tricks, too...what are they? How do you trick yourself into using stash yarn, not spending your whole paycheck on Rowan, not calling that guy you like so much after twenty-four hours because you don't want to see overeager? How do you do it? How do you go beyond what you think you are capable of doing?

Share! (And I promise I'll have some pictures tonight.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Just talking today

After my enormous picture post yesterday I figured I'd better give y'all with dialup a little break. I did take my Project 365 picture yesterday (of my new haircut, which isn't all that different) but I don't have any time this morning to edit and post because I slept in till after 6:30. I hit Snooze for a record-breaking 45 minutes this morning (I should apologize to my neighbors, but they are up even earlier than I am).

I did some knitting on a sock yesterday, this pair is a giftie. It's in Socka, in a lovely lovely deep olive green color that looks tweedy or barberspun in the skein, but knits up to be a beautiful solid that is just the slightest bit rustic and interesting. This was yarn I purchased last summer, but the interesting thing is, my parents gave me two skeins of it for Christmas this year! I don't think it's the same dye lot, but I have enough to make a lot of socks. I really do like this yarn...it's one of those that seems to knit up really evenly no matter what kind of bizarre turmoil I seem to be going through. Does that make sense? Sometimes I can see the odd row or stitch where it's clear something happened and I didn't tuck it up right. On the Moderne Baby Blanket I just finished, I had a sort-of loose looking stitch at a color change, and I decided to work it out the SnB way, by moving that looseness over to the edge one stitch at a time. I wish I'd taken pictures, because by the time I finished that looseness was a total of NINE INCHES LONG. But, it was near the edge now, and long enough to weave in, so I cut it and wove each end going in a different direction...and I'm not sure it will ever be seen again.

You should try that with your work if you see a bit of something that isn't quite the right tension. I'm not saying to be super picky here, but it's a good way to fix something that isn't quite right in the middle of a panel. Work it out a bit at a time by following the natural progression of the stitch, and either bury the loose bit in the edge or cut it and work in the ends. It's a really fun secret Ninja fix.

My personal challenge isn't "run yourself ugly" but it's sort of affiliated with that, or inspired by it. I work on the 7th floor of an office building, and because of a muscle imbalance my knees hurt like crazy when I go down steps. I have made it my personal challenge to strengthen my knees by going up and down the stairs once a day for the next 100 work days. I know that is so ridiculous and something y'all would have no trouble doing...but I am on day...what? 7? (of this year, I did a couple weeks last year before break) and already they bother me less going down stairs. (I am still getting kind of poundy going up, because I refuse to slow down. Must slow down.) Yes, I'm doing my stretches, if you were wondering.

The added benefit is that my calf muscles are shaping up nicely. :) Try something, anything, even dippy steps or 1/2 hour of yoga or stretching or even a leisurely walk. Anything you do that burns even 10 more calories than before is a step to being healthy. Which really does feel so much better. :)

Bye lovies!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Blogger is giving me a headache

I don't know why, but it was down for quite a bit this morning and even now seems to think that I am a spyware program. If you were coming over to read my post from last night and it blocked you, please try again! I'm really sorry.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Even the Sheep Looked Back

Tons O Pictures Follow!

So. Yesterday I took my cousin and his wife out for a tour of Nashville, including the Opryland Hotel. Now, to the uninitiated, touring a hotel sounds really crazy strange. But...think Vegas, not Howard Johnson's. We are talking Destination Hotel. Shops, spas, gardens, fountains, coffee shops, and this:

We All Looked Back

(I am not actually sure what this is.) I was looking for a sign that said Creepy People From Bible Times, but I didn't see it. Or possibly "we know all the angels in the Bible are male, but that didn't stop us from making some real purty ones." These stone...things...are terribly cold, lifeless and frightening. I was going to take a picture of the only child they portrayed - a little kid playing a flute - but I was laughing too hard and it was too disturbing. To my untrained eye it looked like they made all the other statues and had one adult-sized head leftover, and decided "Hey! Let's make a creepy kid out of it!". It was creepy. I am all for all manner of artwork and tomfoolery, but the phrase "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should" comes to mind.

I believe after a day's contemplation that these are all the people who looked back when God was raining fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah. Somewhere in there is probably Lot's wife, and I'm guessing that is one of Lot's sheep. (Just kidding. But they do look like salt! Y'all!)

And in that spirit, my cousins kissed an angel:

Yes, but

(Well, really, he smelled the angel's ear.) I am posting this because I want y'all to see the GORGEOUS knitted wrap she is wearing. Isn't that so pretty? (Click the picture for the option of seeing it bigger.)

There was a cool old telephone in the lobby, with a cord wrapped in fabric. Why don't we decorate things like this anymore? Because we are All Modern? Well, sometimes Modern is Ugly. This is not.


Next stop, I finished my Crazy Socks, which are generally ugly but make me smile! and I wore them today:

Crazy socks are done

(Look at how even the pooling at the ankle matches! HAPPY!)

Grady shook his head in disbelief, and remarked that He Is Turning Purple:


Fee ran from the camera, Almost:

Kitty Weed

And I started a baby kimono in King Tut Cotton for an expecting friend:

Start of a kimono

Life is good. Don't you think???

Saturday, January 06, 2007


For some reason I don't usually post on Saturday, or is it Sunday? I have been knitting like crazy on Anastasia. Nearly done with one sock, it's above the heel already and looks quite nice.

Today was bath day, wherein the resident felines at the I-Cord get clean whether they like it or not. Here is a picture.


Fee was unavailable for comment. (She looks like a drowned rat after bathtime and it hurts her pride if I post pictures before she's all fluffy again.)

Yesterday we had storms and then a fabulous sky when they moved out. This is the last of it:

Crazy Sky

I organized my stash today, which meant looking over what I have and don't have as far as yarn goes. I do have quite a lot of Wool of the Andes, yarn for at least four sweaters, and a zillion skeins of sock yarn. Oh, and enough cotton to make the futures traders in Memphis get worried. But I have Made a Decision - I'm not selling off the stash just yet. There may be something that I decide to do with my giant hoard of Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool...or there may not. Ditto the Karabella Breeze. Mostly I've just swatched and swatched those yarns and not been able to find a sweater pattern I a) liked, b) got gauge for and c) had enough yarn to make. But I'll give it a little longer.

We saw Children of Men last night. It's a fantastic movie, political but not preachy, despairing but not hopeless, gray but not colorless. One scene was one of the best technically I think I've ever seen. The acting was wonderful as well and I hope you won't hate me for saying that Clive Owen should have been the next James Bond. They missed the boat on that one.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I am about midway through the foot of my first Anastasia sock:

First Anastasia sock

Isn't it pretty? Much better than the cable twist, though I don't mind that either. I definitely have enough yarn to knit a second Anastasia sock, and possibly a second cable twist as well. Why not use it up, right?

The pattern is really easy, self-correcting and intuitive. I had a teeny bit of trouble with the pdf layout of the pattern that was easily fixed by reading through it twice. But other than that this is smooth sailing!

I had a dream the Brooklyn Bridge was in my hometown and my dad and I were looking at it. The Manistee River is not anywhere near like the East River (which is a tidal strait anyway). Just saying.

The opposition party always wins midterm elections, did you know that? With one very notable exception.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just pictures today

Because The Love Affair With The Fuji continues. :)

Simon the Lizard, a permanent fixture from a Phoenix gift shop, who sits on my desk:

Simon the Lizard

Grady the Cat:


Sunset Wednesday:

Sunset Wednesday

It's good. :)