Monday, March 31, 2008

Picking up

I'm starting to feel better, partly soup, partly tea, partly rest, partly meds -

and partly these socks.


Pattern VERY soon, lovies! Just need to type it up.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Put some muscle on it

I would like to state for the record that I don't actually EAT Peeps, but I think using them as little characters in a diorama is hilarious.

I am the kid least likely to have ever become an artist. I don't remember anything about elementary-school art except that I was positively fascinated by tinfoil drawings. You take a big sheet of tinfoil, fold it up a few times so it's layered, and use a toothpick or some kind of stick to 'draw' on it. I loved that. Seriously. And I remember trying to draw the type in magazines in about third grade, because I really don't remember knowing that a printing press actually, uh, printed type.

These days I can wax positively poetic about six-colour Heidelberg web presses and bore you to sleep with fantastic tales of saddle-stitch binding, Pantone chips, and UV coatings. But it wasn't always this way.

I want to remind everyone out there who is a new knitter or maybe just struggling with some cursed technique that knowledge is built over time. Remember when you learned to knit and it was all 'um, yeah, I'm a "knitter" kindof,' when people asked you, and you could hear the scare quotes in your voice? Once I was like that about 'artist.' There was a time I couldn't draw my way out of a paper bag. I felt like an imposter through many, many classes in college. But here I am, doing it.

And it really surprises me to know that some of the kids I graduated college with who were way better than I am are now selling cars and stuff - not in a prideful way at all, just kind of "how did I manage to make it?"

I have become convinced that 90% of the battle to do anything well consists of simply showing up. You want to be a runner, fashionista, newspaper reporter, politician, salesperson, knitter? The first thing to do is show up.

Right away that will separate you from all of the people who are just talk, who spend a lot of time saying they are going to do things but don't actually do them. You will never get above 'passable' if you don't show up.

Then, you have to first spend your show-up time learning some basic skillz. For a runner, this means learning good form and training your lungs and body to go a distance. For a fashionista, you must learn about cut, fit, colour, drape, and quality. The newspaper reporter has to learn to write. An artist has to learn how to see, and to translate that seeing into something practical. Most often this is done by learning to draw.

And if you are a knitter, you need to learn to knit. Simple, right? Well, a lot of this means doing things you haven't done before. Try new stuff! Learn new skills. Get a basic proficiency in knitting - decreasing, increasing, seaming. I recommend learning at your own pace, learning by doing, and making sure you learn something well.

The next step is finding a practical outlet for your expertise. Usually this means having a goal - running a 5k, finishing a project, getting that sweater done no matter what.

People who are experts in this kind of thing will tell you that conquering challenges is one of the main ways that people continue to evolve on a personal level over time. Don't be the knitting or artistic equivalent of the person who never let go of his high-school hairdo. You don't have to be trendy, but you should try to grow. And don't let your identity as an artist become your software or pencils. You are not the sum total of your gadgets.

I write this to myself more than to y'all. I've kind of failed to show up for knitting lately. I don't know why - I have gobs of gorgeous yarn, all the tools I need, and yet...I am lucky if I get a few rows a night done. There isn't anything in particular I'd rather be doing...I'm just kind of off my game lately.

So it really surprised me when I cast on for a swatch last night and got a 6x6 swatch done in about an hour and a half. And read a bunch of reviews at Television Without Pity while I was at it. And watched some Terminator.

Muscle. Apply some muscle to what you are doing. Go *do* things. Don't just talk about them!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Friends of Peeps, Unite!

One of my favorite contests happens every year at Easter. Check out this year's winners of the Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest.

I really like the Michaelangelo one. And Project Peepway.

It had to happen

I woke up yesterday morning with a 100.1 temp. Long story short: doctor, flu test (negative), sinus, antibiotic, neti pot, home, couch, sleep. I'm leaving for work in a bit, because the fever has gone down and I think I can make it if I go in late.

I guess I was tempting fate talking about how so far I haven't gotten sick. Usually I end up with ear infections during pollen season, but this time I got a new and exciting change. If I would drink enough liquid and actually take my Singulair it would probably help.

Anyway, I'm better but still whiny. And does anybody else think David C is very probably going to win American Idol? What a kickin' performance last night...oh stink! I forgot to vote!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring, Thy Name Is Misery

Now if I wanted to drive all my readers north of the Mason-Dixon line away I'd wax poetic about how much I hate spring, but I think my time is better spent simply mentioning that the trees are blooming here, my nose is running, my car is covered in a layer of fine, sticky yellow pollen and I'm generally pretty miserable. If I didn't have a sore throat, I'd be fine.

(I know y'all are dying up there under a ton of snow and I think we need to seriously confront these global-warming people because y'all. It should not snow in the last two weeks of MARCH.)

I'm also neck-deep in a redesign at work, and if you don't count the fact that I'm covered in pencil dust, eraser rubbings and talking to myself in the hallway outside my office on a too-frequent basis, I'm really enjoying myself. (I apologize to the people I share a hallway with for playing the Vampire Weekend album over and over and over every day, too. I'm in a rut.) The truth is, I absolutely love deadlines. You get to feel like you accomplish something every single month. I live for deadlines. I pretend they stress me out, but the stress is part of the fun. (I am not being sarcastic!) I love the predictable ebb and flow of editorial, art, proof, corrections, etc. I love that every month is a blank canvas. Even with allergies.

So I have my new air cleaner running and I'm doing my Neti pot at night and in honor of springtime I cast on another sock. (My mom called me the other day to wish me Happy First Day of Spring, wasn't that awesome?) Somehow I'm a one-project gal these days, and I hope it isn't too boring. Reversi is coming soon. I'm going to artfully hide the differing cuffs in my photos, but y'all know, say it with me: PHOTOS LIE, yes they do. This time we want it to lie and say I'm a knitter who writes down things like how many rows of ribbing go in the sock cuff.

Socks for Veronik socks

ANYWAY. This is Sundara solid sock yarn in Green Tea, and the pattern is Socks for Veronik from the Interweave Knits Holiday 2007 pattern. (Non-Ravelry users click here.) I love it love it love it, enough to put up with the purling necessary for the cuff and the horrid, wicked, spiteful and mean p3tog decreases, which are tricksy and usually take several tries. I think the trick is to put the needle in farther than it normally goes and work from there. Not sure though - I'm only on the second repeat.

On a more philosophical note, I'm lately heartened by the phrase "this too will pass." Yeah, it sounds all biblical and all, but take this from it: things come to pass, they don't come to stay. The snow will leave and the pollen will go north for the summer.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

Note to self: Just a small thought:Try to make your sock ribbings the same length when you are knitting the sample of your pattern for pictures. Making one of them ten rounds and the other 20 on a top-down sock does nobody any favors, and I am just warning you that next time you do it you probably won't see it until AFTER you cast off the toe...just like this time.

P.S. I think you scared the cats when you dicovered this, and Fiona is probably still hiding under the bed.

Coming soon: Reversi!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For those of you who are extremely curious about the rant I deleted yesterday - it was about the insufficiency of Bar*ck Ob*ma's attempt to exonerate his pastor's raving about crazy, incoherent conspiracy theories from the pulpit. Ob*ma made his speech about race - and that's fine. This country needs to talk about that. But man, did he ignore the 600 pound gorilla in the room. If you want to know what I am talking about, click here.

Open, free, passionate speech is something I support. Airing wrongs is something I support. I categorically defend his pastor's right to speak out loud in this country whatever he wants to say. But this man believes that America created H1V to kill off certain parts of the population. This is Ob*ma's pastor - spiritual guide and leader. There have been other "christian" kooks who have preached this kind of message, and I don't like them, either. I respect their right to say it, but I don't have to believe in the supposed good judgment of those who put themselves under it.

Your mileage may vary. That's ok - it's a free country, and that is what I love about it. Isn't it fabulous that we are under absolutely no threat for speaking our minds?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not good enough

(Ok, I vented, and now I'm done.)

(Post about Ob*ma deleted.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Addiction, in Four Parts

(Your cats will love you.)


Several months ago the kitties received a gift of a catnip cigar. (Nashvillians: this one came from The Cat Shoppe.) You would think that "catnip" and "cigar" don't belong in a sentence together - but just think "contents" and "shape." (Note the faux-Cuban "el Gato" label.)

It was so well-loved that this is in fact the SECOND catnip cigar. They tore the wrapper off the first one and it's kind of a funny color now from Fee licking it every chance she got.

"Hm, is that NEW catnip cigar?"

Is that Catnip Cigar?

"Catnip cigar MINE!"

Catnip Cigar Mine

"Catnip cigar MUY BIEN TASTY!"

Catnip Cigar Tasty

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

That meme...

Apologies to Marie Grace for just now getting to it!

The rules...

1) Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3) Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4) Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Seven facts and seven friends. Humph.

1. I was on a rowing crew in college, and have deep scars on my hands to prove it. (I sat 6 in the women's 8s at Grand Valley State.)

2. Before I decided to be an artist, I was actually considering a career in economics. Which was absolutely insane.

3. Technically my college degree is in journalism, but who's counting? My emphasis was publication design.

4. My fingernails physically hurt when I don't have nailpolish on them.

5. I am fascinated by the little dent in my left index finger I get after knitting a few rounds of sock.

6. I love sushi. Salmon nigiri is my favorite. (And the cats'.)

7. I am going out on a limb here, but I think the best contestant on American Idol this year is stripey-haired Amanda. One, she's never boring. Two, good shouty voice. Three, wears the coolest clothes. Four, not a pretty blond in a dress or a Whitney impersonator. Five, she's rough as heck which I find interesting and funny, having been taught all my life not to be. Six, did I mention cool pants? Oh yeah - she's a great dancer. Seven, she takes her songs and does something new with them. (Although Chikezie rocked the house last night.)

Seven bloggers I'm tagging:
1. Chris hahahaha.
2. Kirsten hahahaha.
3. Betty hahahaha.
4. Annie hahahaha.
5. Zonda hahahaha.
6. Alicia hahahaha.
7. Melissa hahahaha.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Freshly returned from a long trip through Etsy

My second-sock progress is almost non-existent and I think my knitting mojo ran off with my circadian rhythms and they are shacked up together in a seedy hotel somewhere. (That is a sentence I never thought I'd right. Also, I am KIDDING.)

So instead of raving about stitch #634 of sock 2 and boring you with sock heel pictures, let me tell you where I have been hanging out way too much lately. In case you haven't heard, there is some *serious* talent on Etsy. But Etsy is huge - 2622 pages of purses listed alone. I don't even know what else is out there.

So I'm posting tonight - with a funky sinus thing and major exhaustion (no, not "major" in the Victoria Beckh*m sense, sadly) - a list of my favorite Etsy vendors right now. All of these people will treat you right and serve up quality goods.

Disclaimer: This is not to say that anyone who didn't get mentioned isn't good! I'm just listing people I particularly like at the moment.

First, my favorite bag designer is definitely Moop. This gal has style, taste, awesome skillz and a great story. I just ordered a sage green market bag and I'm so excited. Because y'all know I am powerless to resist the power of the purse.

Next up, my favorite little sock bags remain Schrodinger sock cubes. The bags are durable, a great size, well-made and very fun! I love mine utterly.

I just bought a litter bag for my new wheels. I looked high and low for a cool one around town and nothing stood out. So I took a piece of advice from Betty and ordered a bag from this shop. Allyson was great and even helped me match my car interior! See for yourself:


And I got a couple of keychain wristlets from this shop as well. I know, put the Paypal down and step awaaaay from the computer. I actually sold a bunch of yarn and just had fun spending the money a little at a time till I ordered my market bag today, so you don't need to hold an intervention or anything (yet!).

So anyway, what are your favorite Etsy shops? Not that I need to spend anymore money!

Car Wash

It snowed this weekend while my car was at the airport and I was away, so today after lunch with Betty I took it to Shur-Brite. If you live in the Nashville area and hate washing your car as much as I do, check it out. It's near the Broadway/West End split, it's under $10 for a very nice wash / hand dry and the people are great. They do a fantastic job.

On the way home I did one of those "need to go left but I'll go right and around the block instead" things and I saw Lou Diamond Phillips getting out of a black taxi and going into a hotel. (He's just as cute in person.)


Monday, March 10, 2008

The Daylight Saving Time people gave me jetlag

Seriously! Between flying one time zone over and the time change, I've no idea what time it is, I feel absolutely out of it and have all weekend! My nephew and I played the entirety of Halo this weekend, and wanted to play one last level this morning before he left for school because I had to leave by the time he got back. He normally gets up by 6, so we set the alarm for 5. In Florida.

Which of course would have been ****4 AM**** on Saturday.

Which of course would have been ****3 AM**** in Nashville on Saturday.

Just because it was Monday doesn't mean I was caught up.

Y'all, I want you to know that I deserve the BEST AUNT EVER award for getting up at 3 am (mentally and physically) to play "The Truth and Reconciliation."

Actually I was too tired this morning to realize what time it really was, and when I woke up for reals I worked it out and decided it's actually proof I'm crazy. I'm off to eat and try to stay awake until my normal bedtime. Am not feeling optimistic.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Happy Weekend!

This week really got away from me. I'll be on vacation this weekend - back Monday night or Tuesday! Have fun, dearies!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Happy Wednesday

I **am** going to answer the meme I got tagged for (twice!) as soon as I get a minute, which may well be in the airport this weekend. For now, check out my new favorite site - like LOL Cats but every picture has to be of at least one dog and carry the same caption: FAIL.


(PS: It wasn't actually "Sarah Jackson" on the church sign...I just made that up. Y'all crack me UP.)

Fee can read

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Where good hound dogs go to rest

Warning: LOTS of photos!

Y'all, this place really exists. (For anyone needing a primer on exactly what this is, go here.)

A story, told in pictures. (Astute reader pointed out this is featured in Sweet Home Alabama, and she's right! Thanks!)

Certain things in Southern culture in America belie explanation, and Jeff Foxworthy has made a living talking about the quirks of a certain Southern sub-set. Most things about the South, though, are what you'd call "country" culture - like crumbling up cornbread in your buttermilk and drinking it, or saying y'all, or frying chicken in a pan.

Or giving your faithful coon dog a decent burial.

Somewhere in northwest Alabama is a little town called Muscle Shoals. It sits on the Tennessee River, and way back in the 60s the Stones recorded a little tune called Brown Sugar there. About fifteen miles from where Keith and Mick got their groove on and up a twisty, winding road full of ramshackle barns, falling-down sheds and land that has been lumbered nearly to death lies the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard. (I would like to state for the record that I had five AT&T signal bars at this place, although I only get 4 at my apartment.)


You have to go a loooooong way out in the country and up a twisty winding road to get here.


It's back in the woods - appropriately.


They have a Memorial Tree.


Only Coon Hounds are allowed to be buried (here).


There are all kinds of graves. I don't know what the flagstone at the end is for on this one.


For some reason I think I liked this one best.


Strait Talkin' Tex: Ability and class in one.


(A lot of them have strange names.)




(For anyone who is wondering, yes, that IS an outhouse in the back.)


All the graves had flowers.


Some had granite tombstones.


This one takes the cake.


This one was cool.


"He was good as the best and better than the rest."


"True Boy"


"Bloodhound Moma"


"Doctor Doom"



Oh wait! That's my new car! (It drives GREAT.) This is part of the reason I've been awol lately. Thank the Lord above I finally found a car. I do miss my old Altima (I drove it 128,000 miles!) but it was time, and this one is a good car and was the right price. Woo hoo!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Y'all know I am a fan of dorky hair salon names (Hair Affair, Hair Peace, Shear Elegance) and goofy dog-grooming salon names (Dirty Dogs Done Dirt Cheap) -

but I am also a fan of the cheesy church-sign sayings you see down here in the South. Puzzlers. Embarrassingly cutesy stuff. Like, "God answers knee-mail." "Worry is today's mouse eating tomorrow's cheese." One local church had SINNERS WELCOME emblazoned on it for years. One time when I drove by I saw that it said underneath that, "Sarah Jackson, you're welcome too!"


So of course we always called that one the Sinners Welcome Church.

I saw one today that baffled me: "There are no fire extinguishers in hell." That one is just plain paradoxical.

Today I visited the craziest place I have ever been on earth, probably the craziest place I'll ever visit, and I took LOTS of pictures. Tomorrow I'll post. You'll love. I mean, some things can *only* happen in America. (Sorry! it's true and you'll see why soon!)