21 December 2005

Fear the Reaper

Today at work I got an unusual request. Seems a retired university alumnus in Florida needed some info on his college honor society.

He needed this info because he was preparing his obituary.

The last line of his letter: "Because we never know when the reaper will visit."

No, I don't know why he needed the italics either. Maybe it's like the whole Harry Potter "he who cannot be named" or whatever.

The letter was over a month old before it reached my desk.

I'm slightly worried that the old coot is already dead. Darn obituary will be incomplete.

20 December 2005

Is Christmas Over Yet?

Bah humbug! All you merry revellers out there, beware. This knitter has a serious case of the Scrooges. And it's not as if I'm busting my fingers trying to get gifts finished by the big day or anything. My family knows me better than to actually expect gifts under the tree. (How many years has it been since I promised you that denim quilt, Sarah?)

But I'd like to know what fella decided to schedule Christmas and the end of the term at the same time? I know it had to be a man with a wifey at home to take care of wrapping the pressies, trimming the tree and turning down umpteen holiday invites who decided it would be a fine idea to schedule the biggest holiday ever and the biggest pain in the butt for an academic at the same darn time. And then the moron added snow into the mix! As if we needed that! I'm not even teaching this term and I'm more than ready to trade in the red editing pen for a nice bottle of red wine.

Yet I have actually finished a project. Shocking to be sure.

Grandma's Christmas Afghan
Ocean Breeze from "Afghans to Crochet in Just One Day"
Yarn: Lion Brand Homespun, 6 skeins, mix of purple and pinks
Dates: 16-18 December
Recipient: Grandma
Notes: Nasty, nasty yarn! I have a faithful afghan of this stuff that I've tossed in the washer on a frequent basis and still am not too ashamed to keep it on the couch, so I thought it would be a great idea to whip out another. Um, not such a great idea. This stuff is horrible. Unfortunately I still have a few skeins of it in the stash to use (or give away). The pattern was pretty easy, but I'm just not that much of a crocheter. I changed the last round to make it easier but even then was pretty sick of this by the time I finished. Good thing this wasn't a pattern to crochet in just one week because then it would've taken me a year and I would have been even grumpier.

18 December 2005

Warning: Graphic Content Ahead

I know it may be difficult to see this picture without cringing, but yes, folks, that's yarn in the trash can. I just couldn't take it any more. Life is too short for shitty yarn.

See, sometimes I shock myself with my brilliance. It's one week before Christmas. Take a guess as to how many unfinished projects I still have to tackle. And Friday, I decide that I need to crochet an afghan for my grandmother, the grandmother that won't use said afghan because it will be too nice for her so she'll put it away in the closet (with my father's elementary school homework papers) and save it for us when she croaks. I gave her a scarf once and even after yelling at her that the yarn was cheap-o acrylic crap from an Ames closeout store and cost me about $.50, she still swore it was too nice to actually use. Now if she said it was too scratchy, fine, I agree. Say that it's an ugly color. Fine. But enough already with things being too nice to actually use.

Anyway, I digress. Although it may seem that I purposely searched for horrible yarn to try and please the woman's matyr status, I actually have an afghan out of what I considered to be trusty Lion Brand Homespun yarn. It's been washed many, many times and despite a few pills, is still nice enough to keep out and use.

But the time has come to part ways with Homespun. I've seen the fallout coming. The stuff splits like nobody business. It breaks after it knots on itself. The ends fuzz out after they're tucked in. Basically, it's crap. But it's often on sale and I have a section of it in the stash. So, in one of those flashes of inspiration, I decide to make an afghan out of crappy yarn simply because I have half the required skeins waiting my nimble fingers.

I did manage to finish the afghan this weekend (thanks to yucky weather and a lack of motivation to do anything else), but after wasting way too much time fighting with tangles, I decided to cut my losses and toss my leftovers. Sometimes even a yarn ho like myself has to know when it's time to walk away from the acrylic.

17 December 2005

When Will I Cave?

So I think one of the requirements for being a true knitting blog is having a contest, so here you go... MY FIRST EVER BLOG CONTEST!!!

And you're invited to play!

Since you all know of my tremendous ability to purchase yarn and my lack of will power in refusing to exercise this talent whenever given the opportunity, I'm asking you to submit your guesses for when I'll cave on my resolution for NO YARN IN 2006. I know, you can have a minute to control your snickering at that statement.

But the stash is full and the needles have too many projects. So, desperate times call for desperate measures. And it's not like I don't have enough projects to keep me busy until at least 2027, not just 2007!

So submit a guess in the comment section as to when I'll cave in and buy new yarn. I'm going to take guesses until 5 January 2006. I do have one caveat though... since every rule has to have at least one exception.

I can buy new yarn to finish a project if I run out of supplies. I cannot, however, buy new yarn to make a new pattern that I come across. The project has to be already started or one that I have already purchased at least some of the materials for.

How long will I last? (You know I'm totally considering major yarn shopping before 1 January just to be sure I make it!) Whoever is closest to my date of surrender to the yarn sirens will get a prize... probably knitting related. (Don't worry, Maya, it won't be yarn for you to knit with, but most likely something I've knit.)

And in case you were wondering about our NYC adventures, yes, I bought yarn. Pics later.

07 December 2005

Following a trend

I've seen this meme on several blogs lately and thought I'd join in the fun.

TEN random things you might not know about me.
1: I have a major aversion to bananas. If you plan to be around me, don’t eat ‘em.
2: I like to iron when I have insomnia. Cloth napkins are ideal for 4 a.m. pressing.
3: I have oddly shaped thumbs that often get noticed by others with the same quirk.
4: If I could switch careers, I’d be an interior designer.
5: I’m a neurotic list-maker. I just usually can’t find the lists I make.
6: When asked what my favorite color is, I always say navy blue. I’m actually not sure if I have a favorite.
7: I love to eat out, but always feel guilty that I’m not cooking at home.
8: I regret not taking my piano lessons more seriously.
9: I enjoy moving. Maybe this is the reason why I’m on my fourth apartment in 5 ½ years.
10: I have tastes very similar to my aunt’s. My cousin tends to go for the same colors/fabrics as my mom. I’m sure there’s a need for a few sessions of family counseling in this little factoid.

NINE places I've visited
1: London – study abroad in college
2: Chihuahua, Mexico – volunteer work during college
3: the backwoods of southern Missouri – horsey camp in BFE… scarrrrry locals
4: Toronto – shopping, shopping, shopping, and of course, food
5: Europe – the college backpacking experience (see #1)
6: NYC – returning again to see the Christmas lights in just a few days!!!
7: Winston-Salem, NC – Studied at the Reynolda Art Museum for a summer
8: Houston – volunteer work in high school
9: Burlington, VT – loved it. If it was closer to family, I’d want to teach there.

EIGHT ways to win my heart
1: support my crafty habit – listen and actually pretend to be excited when I talk about a project
2: ask me questions about my research – and get excited when I talk about it
3: surprise me with a trip or a tiny little present – it’s the thought that counts
4: do something to take care of me – even if I get too independent and claim that I don’t need taking care of
5: tell me about your own passions and interests
6: be generous and kind to others
7: scratch my back and let me fall asleep with the movie on
8: make me laugh

SEVEN things I want to do before I die
1: publish a book
2: run a marathon
3: travel to every continent – I’m sure all my knitting will keep me warm in Antarctica!
4: get hitched – Yes, Mom, I do eventually want to do this.
5: have a rewarding career
6: go on vacation at the beach and feel comfortable in my bathing suit
7: learn to cook a turkey or chicken without wanting to throw up while preparing it

SIX things I'm afraid of
1: not getting a job when I finally finish grad school
2: having a job where I’d have to talk on the phone a lot – for some reason I absolutely dread making business phone calls. It makes my stomach churn.
3: divorce
4: silverfish or house centipedes or whatever those creatures were in a former apartment
5: falling down my icy, concrete front steps
6: dying alone

FIVE things I don't like
1: seafood – it stinks!
2: networking
3: beer
4: rude people
5: getting lost with an impatient person

FOUR ways to turn me off
1: be racist, sexist, xenophobic or generally closed-minded and prejudicial
2: celebrate your ignorance – be proud that you’re lazy and no nothing
3: be rude to salespeople, wait staff, or anyone you consider beneath you
4: refuse to listen to others

THREE Things I do everyday
1: drink coffee or tea – You don’t want to see me without it.
2: futz on the computer – I could probably be classified an Internet addict.
3: think about being crafty – unfortunately there’s more thinking about it than doing it

TWO things that make me happy
1: a night at home with a warm drink (especially if it’s also a stiff drink) and my knitting and no guilt about work that I should be doing
2: a clean apartment

ONE thing on my mind right now
1: What on earth should I teach in my 18th century novel class next term?

Hopefully Blogger will work later and I can do a knitting post. I've got projects waiting to debut!

01 December 2005

4 a.m. Is Very, Very Early

You know things are happening in life when you see 4 a.m. three times in less than a week! This old lady isn't used to keeping these kinds of hours, that's for sure.

The first 4 a.m. hour was due to nerves, specifically, nerves about MY FIRST EVER RACE!!! Yay me! Checked that sucker off THE LIST. (I'm actually working on a blog for my 20 Things To Do Before I Leave My Twenties List but I've just been too darn busy actually checking things off. Maybe this will have to be Item 21.) Anyway, I crossed the finish line... and five minutes earlier than I expected to! The night before (okay, the three weeks before the big event) I was so nervous, I couldn't really sleep. I was worried that I wouldn't finish, or that I'd be last, or that I'd get lost along the route and end up completely missing where the finish line even was. But I made it, walked less than I usually do, and really didn't turn out too bad in terms of the rankings. Here's the list in case you're wondering.

I'm certainly no track star, but that wasn't my goal. I just wanted to have the guts to enter, pin the number on my tummy, and be standing when I crossed the line. And yes, I'm such a nerd that I put my number up on the fridge.

The second 4 a.m. event came 24 short hours later when The Fearless Foursome decided to brave Black Friday shopping. Good God, I don't know what we were thinking. We spent more time plotting our strategy with the paper than we did actually scoring bargains. Granted, I did pretty well on Thanksgiving day itself and Ashley was able to find her items, but wow, I've never seen so many bargain-hunting maniacs in my life. And for once, we weren't included in the maniac pool.

One couple even got so desparate that they had the family pooch drop them off at the door and then go park the car so they could make a faster escape to the next store.

Our early morning effort was rewarded at JoAnn's though. Flannel... mmmmm... Even now I have to chuckle at my pre-shopping statement, "I'm going to be good in there." Ha, yeah right. At least my family knows that a line like that is full of B.S. It was only $.96 a yard. I had to buy it! And I've got plans for most of it, or I think I do. Granted, I have absolutely no idea when I'll get to those plans since I've got enough quilt projects to last until I'm 80, but still, flannel won't get dry rot before then... I hope.

But, alas, the flannel had to stay in Missouri. I tried to think of a way to carry on about 100 yards of flannel, but I'm afraid my plane had a hard enough time taking off with all the extra Turkey Day weight on all the passengers, so the fabric will wait until Christmas... when I will rent an 18-wheeler to drive home for all my crafty goodies.

Besides all the bargains, there was another great find. I searched for yarn stores in Quincy, IL and was pleasantly surprised with a cute little basement shop which had the perfect black alpaca I needed for a boy scarf. Not sure if the boy will stick around until the scarf is finished, but one of us will be receiving a super soft neck warmer. (Pictures of the yarn haul to come later.)

And finally, my last 4 a.m. experience... at the airport. The Leslie Travel Curse struck again and left me in KC for almost 3 extra hours, then stuck in Atlanta in the airport and on the runway for what seemed like umpteen more extra hours. There was honestly a line waiting for the parking shuttle in Buffalo at 3.45 a.m.! We were all so delirious we sang along with the doofy Christmas music in the shuttle. You know things are bad when you get 20 adults to join in a chorus of "Let It Snow!" without alcohol for encouragement.

So I'm safe and sound and knitting away on my Christmas gifts. There's a slight chance I may have a few to wrap and put under the tree, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm still bragging that I finished the birthday scarf for my grandma. This will have to suffice for a crafty picture for this post. Hopefully I'll get a better pic of the finished project actually being worn.

Lace Birthday Scarf
Pattern: Wave and Shell Shawl
Yarn: Knitpicks Shimmer in Stained Glass (only used about 1/2 the skein, if that, so look for more of this in a future project)
Modifications: I only cast on 44 stitches to make this a scarf rather than a shawl. I believe I used size 5 needles.
Notes:It may be a little on the long side to wear untied with a jacket, but I wasn't sure how much it would block. Overall, this was a great intro to using laceweight yarn. It was easy to carry with me and I did a pretty good job of memorizing the pattern. I may be ready to tackle a shawl...maybe.

Haven't updated my 3 areas of personal progress in awhile, but suffice it to say that there hasn't been much progress. Between Thanksgiving shopping, crafting and eating, I basically blew my attempts to minimize my stuff, minimize my hiney, and maximize my dissertation.

But I'm slowly making my way back to reality so here's today's list:
1. Diet: Too darn busy to eat. Made it back to the gym for the first time in a few days. Felt good to sweat for an hour.
2. Diss: Had lunch with a guest speaker and my diss advisor today. That was a tad bit stressful. I made some good connections though and got several suggestions for things to read (always more books to read... ugh) so I'm a little psyched to get back into the work.
3. Organization: I managed to put away my groceries and unpack the suitcases today. The apartment is getting a little stuffed again. Not sure where I'm going to clean out a corner for the Christmas tree. Good thing my tinsel beauty is pretty small! Must pack more to take to Salvation Army.

17 November 2005

The Mysteries of Blogging

I've got a lot to learn about blogging. Today's post is under November 4. If only it was so easy to turn back time! Not that it matters, but in case any special prosecutors want to know just exactly when I blogged about my shrug. Cause I'm sure that's important...

14 November 2005

They Did a Very Bad Thing...

Well, Tom and Nicole attending orgies of various flavors have nothing on us. We went YARN SHOPPING, which we all know is a type of highly dangerous orgy. You walk around touching gorgeous things. You encourage each other by yelling, "more, more, more." And then you get out your pocketbook. It's good that the things you take home don't require a visit to the doctor.

The shrink, maybe, but not the doctor doctor.

So, wanna see my goodies? (That should draw in some porn seekers from Google.)

First up, the real reason we went on this expedition, the beads:

Laurie and I have signed up for a knitting with beads class in December, in part because they described the class as using as "shitload" of beads and offering wine and dinner while we work. I mean, c'mon, any LYS who uses "shitload" in their newsletter is a place for me. So between now and 2 December, I've got me some stringin' to do. And just in case you can't see it, those are good ol' Addis in size 00. I'm scared already. I hope we get lots and lots of wine at this class!

Then, since of course I can't walk into a shop and only buy what I came in for, I managed to get 10 skeins of this thrown into my bag:

Cascade Quatro Color 5016 for Rogue, that big baby of cabley yumminess. That won't happen until January at the very earliest. I'm letting the Cascade settle into the yarn stash until then.

That was going to be the end of it, just a nice little trip to one store. *snort* Yeah, right. I was with Laurie and you know that spells trouble. She just got in the car and said, "Where to next?" At least this time it really only took us 30 minutes to get to the other shop, as opposed to the 8 hours of our last journey. I'm exagerrating, but only slightly.

So shop #2, where I usually have to hold Laurie back and tell her to breathe regularly. And of course you know I'm going to hit the sale bin.

And I kinda maybe found a whole bunch of this:

Classic Elite Waterspun Felted 100% Merino; 10 skeins in a dark grey, 4? skeins in celery; and 5? skeins in turquoise. I'm thinking this yarn wants to be the striped hoodie in Stitch n' Bitch, but we're still negotiating.

And then I just had to grab these two lonely skeins in the sale bin:

Plymouth Yukon in 578. I made a buttonhole bag out of the variegated flavor of this and really like it. There's enough mohair and wool for it to full a bit although it's a bit too floppy for a bag. I still need to line that one and maybe include some plastic canvas to help it hold its shape. Another project for another day. And speaking of, I'm pretty sure that's not on the blog. Maybe tomorrow will be a day to show pics of purses I've made, to get those recorded for all posterity, or for my own vanity, either one.

Anyway, have no idea what to do with the Yukon. It'll come to me.

Whew, could barely carry all this back into the house. And oh yeah, just remembered there's another gigantic skein of mohair to do one of the ruffle scarves that everyone has to have this season. Pics of that tomorrow.

This girl loves her some new yarn. It's sick, sick, sick...

And just so you see that I really do knit with the yarn I buy, here are progress pics of my felted fair isle bag. The colors are pretty bright right now, but I love it. I'm slowly getting the hang of fair isle, but I'm still trying to figure out the best way to wrap and hold the yarn. The top chart puckers pretty badly so I'm trying to loosen up at the bottom. I just keep telling myself that all the mistakes will get lost in the felting. Guess I'll always have to felt my fair isle sweaters too! (Yes, I've taken two classes on fair isle knitting and I'm already planning sweaters. At least I haven't bought the yarn for them yet!)
On another note, I got my scarf exchange partner today. Woo hoo! I'm excited to get going on this, but she doesn't have a blog and wasn't very specific in her description. I was hoping she'd give me a few more guidelines so I know where to start with my planning. I'm thinking something lace out of alpaca from that farm in East Aurora. She mentioned "soft" as a requirement so this would certainly fit the bill. Hopefully I'll hear more from her over email so I get some ideas. I want her to like what she gets!

1. diss: worked on transitions tonight so it makes sense why I jump from 1818 to 1847 just for kicks. Why can't everybody just be in my head and know why I think these authors are the same?
2. Diet: Did the 5k training again tonight. About the same time as last week, but at least I'm able to do it. I guess I'm giving this a go. I think this scares me more than the diss.
3. Organization: 2 out of 3 ain't bad? Guess there's time to tackle the dishes and some picking up. But you know I'd rather knit.

13 November 2005

Flash Your...

Every so often I get the wild idea to become a sex pot. No, I’m not planning to stand on Chippewa and charge the lonely old men $100 for a night of thrills, but sometimes, I think I might like to dress like it.

Although I’ve yet to splurge on a vinyl catsuit with places to attach my dominatrix tool belt, I do own a few items that need to be retired to sex pot heaven. I’m sure there are a few drag queens out there shopping at Amvets and I feel it really is my civic duty to donate to the cause. If my skanky clothes can aid in the effort to thrill creepy guys and dolls, hey, it’s an honor to help.

So, for all you kinky readers, be sure to head out to your local thrift store and pick up these classy and tacky numbers.

Perfect for ambling down to the local street corner… and limping back after you sprain your ankle wearing 4 inch spike heels. Yes, I actually taught a comp class in these suckers. One class, 8 a.m., an engineering block of 24 young males. At some point during the hour my feet were hurting so badly I couldn’t see straight. It took longer for the blisters to heal than it did to grade the set of bad essays they submitted. For those of you who aren’t comp teachers, that’s a long, long time. Say sianara to the stilettos!

(Believe it or not, I haven't gone out and bought six more pairs to replace the two that I've gotten rid of... at least not yet.)

1. Diss: By golly, I have an introduction to the chapter. I'm not going to jinx myself by saying the draft will be done before I leave for Turkey Day, but there's a slight, slight chance that I'll have lots of reasons to be thankful.
2. Diet: Good day here with a long workout this morning and a generally healthy eating day, well, except for that mocha I had this afternoon. Oops.
3. Cleaning: The shoes were actually a few days ago so I don't get credit on this one. Hmm, I did laundry and washed some dishes. Oh, and I put away the new yarn I bought yesterday. Pics of that tomorrow!

12 November 2005

If Only It Was Cold...

Today I spent the afternoon driving around the window down because it was so warm. This is November people. I'm a knitter. I've got scarves to wear and this nice weather routine just ain't cuttin' it.

I'm working on making a Flickr account to keep track of all the finished projects, but for now, thought I'd post some pre-blogging scarves in the collection. The collection sitting on the shelf looking very, very forlorn.

Pattern: This is the My So Called Scarf pattern from Sheep in the City, a very cute blog that I love to read for inspiration. I've heard it described as a herringbone pattern. I believe I cast on 17 stitches on size 11s but I can't say for sure.

Yarn: 3 skeins of Lion Brand Landscapes (I think); Rose Garden colorway

Date Started: ??
Date Finished: Summer 2005

Notes: I love the finished product of this scarf and always get compliments on it, but dang, this was a booger on my hands. I ended up making it shorter than I usually make scarves, but I was frustrated and just wanted it to be over. It works okay with my pink coat, especially if I use a broach on windy days. Overall, good project but I'm not sure I'd tackle another one. Still have 2 skeins of the yarn which I plan to use on mittens from the Weekend Knitting book. Someday...

Pattern: Family Circle Easy Knitting Holiday 200??;

Yarn: This was recycled yarn from a rummage sale find. I'm pretty sure it cost me $2 for enough to make both Ashley and I very, very long scarves. Not the softest stuff, but pretty.

Dates: Winter 2003

Notes: This scarf is super, super long. It's very, very frilly when I put it on and wrap it around several times so it's only a cold weather wear, despite all the holes. I love the picot edge and the long fringe and the crochet was rather fast. I'd make this one again. I believe the pattern calls for flowers or beads or some sort of embellishment on the trellis but I decided to leave it as is. This one's a keeper.

Pattern: The scarf is just a simple rib pattern with garter at the bottom. The mittens are from a LYS pattern.

Yarn: Trendsetter Dune and mohair, I believe it's Turberino or something like that. I used 2 skeins of the Dune and at least 2 of the mohair.

Dates: Winter 2003 for the mittens and winter 2004 for the scarf

Notes: This is one of my sets that gets the most wear, simply because of having both the mittens and the scarf. I made the mittens in a class and have been surprised at how well they've held up. They're pretty warm and I love the sparkle from the Dune. The scarf was made to match and basically I just knit until I ran out of the Dune, then added some garter on the ends. I even had to use a different color of the Dune because I didn't get it when I made the mittens and of course they didn't have the right color when I went back. I wish I would've made the scarf more narrow so it would be longer. This is another one that works, but I wish I had more length. I'm also not really crazy about the ends, but I was pretty desperate. Again, I just wanted to get this one finished and I wasn't about to rip out once I saw that it was too wide. It's functional and I enjoyed working with the mohair for the most part.

Pattern: Good ol 2x2 rib

Yarn: Another rummage sale find. I believe it was 3 skeins of something acrylic.

Dates: Summer 2003

Notes: There have been a few occassions, a very, very few occassions, when I've actually needed to buy yarn to have a project. Really, it's only because I haven't brought enough knitting home and had more time to play that I anticipated. We were planning one of our driving expeditions back to the Buffalo and I needed something to keep me busy in the car. I found this acrylic stuff at a rummage sale and got busy. I love the way it has three different patterns due to the patterning of the yarn. In the future, though, I'd probably make sure I started a row to match the pattern that's already going, since it does look rather "homemade" in the bad sort of way. This isn't anything special, but I wear this scarf with my tan coat when I just want something rather plain. It isn't itchy at all, although not particularly snuggly either. Just a scarf...

Now one would think that this would be enough of a collection to keep a girl warm and happy. Yeah, right. Like shoes and purses, you can never have too many scarves. I've got several others on the needles or in my head so bring on temps where I can actually wear some of my knitted gear!

1. Diss: Plugging along. Tonight I must work until I have 3 pages.
2. Diet: Um, monthly brunch with the girls... pancakes with walnuts. Not good.
3. Cleaning: Two more sweaters bit the dust today. I'm not sure if it's sad or scary that I remembered buying these cheap things 8 years ago. Why do I feel the need to keep these ratty things?

07 November 2005

Leslie's Rule #812

Leslie's Rule #812: When you are fantabulously craptastically dressed, you will run into someone you'd rather not see, even when you are looking your finest.

Today, after my rendezvous with the treadmill, I get the brilliant idea to bust it to Wegmans to pick up some dinner fixin's. I even delude myself into believing that I can beat the 5.00 rush. So I'm just tooling along after I pick up my deli meat and BAM, I nearly run the cart right into my last actual date. Granted, this little coffee affair was a few weeks ago, but he has the dubious status as being my last late.

For those of you keeping score (hi, mom), there were no sparks on either side. He said he'd call. He didn't call. I didn't mind.

But there he was, looking pretty darn cute in his wool peacoat.

And there I was, looking (and smelling) pretty darn nasty in my gym clothes.

We chit chatted and I bolted as soon as possible. To avoid any further encounters of the uncomfortable kind, I then spent an inordinate amount of time analyzing whole milk vs. part skim ricotta cheese. I can probably give you a rundown on the nutrition label if you're interested. Yes, it does actually matter. Might even make up for the frivolous calories in the Weight Watchers chocolate cake in your cart.

Yes, I ran into a former date with Weight Watchers pseudo-twinkies in my cart while I was stinky from the gym. Poor guy is probably really, really relieved our coffee date was a one time only event.

And then just to prove my point about the inevitability of the bad dress = former date rule, last weekend while I was in full-on Martha Mode, painting my schnaaaazzy new dining room set, I had to make an emergency hardware store run. Who knew you couldn't paint six chairs and a table base with only one can of black spray paint?

Well, knowing that I have on a 3xl sweatshirt, tapered leg blue jeans and a stupid clip in my hair, I wisely chose to avoid Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon and head to the ghetto Valu Hardware. C'mon, there won't be a soul I know in Valu Hardware. Most likely the customers at Valu Hardware will look worse than I do.

Yeah, so much for that theory. I walk in like a woman on a mission and nearly clobbered one of last summer's one date wonders. Again, not someone I felt any sparks with or anything, but still, another guy who says he'll call and doesn't. Luckily, there was no acknowledgement of my presence but I'm pretty sure he was thinking, "How do I know the girl with the streak of black spray paint across her forehead, the crazy one trying to hide in the aisle of bolts so I don't see her? Hmmm, oh yeah, whew, glad I didn't call her for another miserable coffee date."

I expect this sort of thing in Hometown, Missouri. You will run into four classmates every time you enter the Pizza Hut. This is why I prepare my speech ahead of time. "No, not married. No kids. Still in school. Have no desire to be a member of the Pinto Alumni Pep Club. Just here to see my family. Please ignore me so I can go back to the horses and sewing machines."

Either Buffalo is now officially too small or I've gone on too many bad coffee dates.


Now, for something truly shocking, it's November 7. My grandmother's birthday is December 1. I just bound off on her birthday scarf.

The blocking will commence once I get blocking wires. Woo hoo, an excuse for more knitting tools! I'm just planning to sort of leave this one until at least the night before I'm flying to Missouri, so there's a thrill in wondering if I'll get it finished or not.

(For my knitting readers, project specs once I get it blocked with a decent picture.)

Now see, if I was wearing something schnaaaaaazy like a lace scarf, wouldn't see a soul. Guess this means I'm going to have to start busting out the cute outfits to keep all the bad dates at bay, sorta like garlic to ward off vampires. That or just go out for coffee with the girls so we can knit and be thankful we aren't one of the bored girls that you always see at the coffee shops, stuck on one of those dates themselves.

1. Diss: Today was a reading day, which was actually helpful. Now if I can just find the book that says that Victorians thought that the exotic is grotesque in its excessive nature. Well, guess that's what my book is going to say, but damn, that one's not written yet.
2. Diet: Weight Watchers pseudo-twinkies, do you need to know any more? Actually, I ran 5k today. Well, ran/walked is more like it, but still, me, on the treadmill, 5k. Debating whether or not I'll try for the Turkey Trot Quincy style, or as Adam says, the Chicken Chase. I won't go into explaining that one now. Hmm, we'll see if I can do this same run a few more times this week. How embarrassed would I be if all the little old lady mall walkers are faster than I am?
3. Organization: I think knitting counts here when it means checking off a December present. And no, shopping for knitting tools doesn't count in the opposite direction. I can add to the stash when it's necessary for completing a project, right? That'll be rule #813.

06 November 2005

Oh Nuts!

One of the reasons I particularly enjoy my aerobics class is that we have a little community of fellow sweaters (no, not the wool kind, the people kind who are dripping all over the room, yes, it’s gross…). One girl in the class is a med student who always brings us entertaining (and sometimes gross) stories of her patients. Basically, if it’s nasty and related to bodily fluid, she’s dealt with it.

However, after talking with her, she assures me that even I could be a doctor. 98% of her work to this point has been telling people that they need to eat better and exercise more to manage their heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, ingrown toenails, colds, etc. She even has me practicing, “Eat broccoli, go for a walk and come back in three months.”

She was in I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-think mode, handing out the broccoli prescription when the old man she was working with took one look at her, got wide eyes and informed her that he wouldn’t be able to come back in three months. She asked why not. His answer, “The chestnuts are covering my front lawn.”

Yeah, so much for the dog ate my homework.

She woke from her intern stupor to go through a checklist of just why the chestnuts might prevent this man from returning to the clinic. Perhaps he was having trouble walking and was worried about falling. She suggested asking a neighbor to clear his sidewalks. Perhaps he was just stinking senile and was scared of chestnuts. She wrote down “suggested psych evaluation” on his chart. Perhaps there was a chestnut explosion and he wouldn’t be able to open the door after they piled up for three months. She took another drink of coffee and tried to calm her imagination.

“Sir, I don’t follow. Why are the chestnuts going to prevent you from coming to the clinic for a check-up that you really, really need?”

“Don’t you know anything, doc? When the chestnuts fall this much, we’re going to have a horrible winter and I’m going to be snowed in in three months. I won’t be able to get here through all the snow.”

What do you say to that?

If you live in Buffalo, you stock up on canned soup and harvest some of the chestnuts to roast over the pilot light in your furnace. I’ve never been much on Farmers Almanac knowledge, but personally, I’m glad I’ll have lots of time to knit while I’m snowed in this winter. Let those chestnuts fall as much as they want.

Diss: Wrote, read, enough said.
Diet: I'm trying to find small successes here. I did manage to make meal plans for the week. I find that I'm much better when I take time to cook decent dinners so hopefully Almond Crusted Chicken and Beef Mexicali Casserole will keep down the munchies this week. I'm trying.
Organization: The bags are filling the trunk. Will do a run this week to drop off and not pick up!

04 November 2005

Finally Finished!

Be careful what you wish for. Scarf weather arrived with a vengeance. Buffalo has snow. I sort of feel that the universe is aligning again. There for awhile, t-shirts in November, whew, I was worried.

Anyway, I am working on my blogging skills and one talent which I do not seem to possess is the infamous self-portrait in the bathroom mirror. Here's my first attempt. It's about as good as this knitting project.

Craftster/Urban Outfitters Shrug
Yarn: 4 skeins Lion Brand Jiffy Thick & Quick in Adirondacks (3 skeins were gift from Susannah); $6.80 (my cost)
Pattern: Here
Started: October 2005
Finished October 2005
Recipient: Me, me, me!
Notes: I'm not sure I would've purchased this yarn on my own, but I like it knitted up. I didn't particularly enjoy working on size 17 plastic needles though and don't see many big and bulky projects in my future. I'm not sure if I like the way this makes me look, as if I need any more help looking like a football player! I bought ribbons to use as a tie in the front but will leave them unattached so I can use a brooch to keep it closed if I prefer. I've been following the development of this pattern on Craftster since the thread started and was excited to make one of the circular shrugs that are so popular this fall. This was a fast way to make something trendy, but I do think I'd like it better in a much smaller gauge. Overall, the pattern was easy to follow and fun to knit. If this trend is still around in the spring, I'd like to make one in a worsted weight, maybe with a lace or decorative stitch for the back portion.

This may actually get me a point on my 20 things to do in my 20s list. I have actually worn this sweater in public on three separate occasions. It's not exactly one I'm super proud of, but if all else fails, this one gets me a checkmark!

I've written about this before, but in my attempts to continue to get my knitting on the blog, here's another FO.

Handspun Scarf
Yarn: 2 skeins, Knox Farm Handspun, 100% wool (from "Hope" the sheep), 4+ ozs. 172 yds; $25
Pattern: Simple 2x2 rib
Started: October 1, 2005
Finished: October 2005
Recipient: Me, me, me! (starting to feel greedy here)
Notes: I barely made it home before I wound up the yarn and started knitting. What fun to work with handspun and hand-dyed yarn. It was a little "sheepy" with lots of lanolin in the yarn, even some hay in case I got the munchies. It softened considerably when I washed it (soaked 20 minutes in Eucalan bath). The dye faded slightly, but not enough to change the color scheme.
Verdict: Will be returning to the Knox Farm in East Aurora for more handspun! I think the pink and green colorway is calling my name!
I've ordered yarn for my Scarf Exchange partner and I have a few patterns in mind. I think I'm going to give lace a try using some alpaca from a local farm. I'm starting to get a little nervous about all my holiday crafting ambitions so this one will hopefully stay on the backburner for awhile. Although we all know that the minute the yarn comes, I'll be casting on!

1. Diss: Was sick at home today so I read. Won't be making my Thanksgiving deadline... grrr.
2. Diet: Does reaching for a kleenex count as working out?
3. Organization: Since I stayed in my jammies today, I already have my outfit planned for tomorrow. Yes, I'm so pathetic that that's going to count for today.

01 November 2005


If only all homework was as enjoyable as knitting homework. On Saturday, I took a class on fair isle knitting. Eventually we're going to end up with a felted version of this bag from the Summer 04 issue of Interweave. Impressive, eh?

Well, no actual fair isling yet, but there's a start. Easiest homework in the world. Assigned Saturday morning, finished Sunday night. Just how I wrote all my essays in college... uh huh...

Anyway, I intended to show some pictures of recent knitting acquisition but my computer and pictures aren't playing well again, so I'll save that for a day when I have more energy to futz with this stupid thing.

Just wanted to check in on my list:
1. Diss: Ugh... I'm not even thinking about how bad this is going at the moment.
2. Diet: Same as above... Halloween, enough said.
3. Cleaning: Even worse than the previous two. See what happens when I actually do my knitting homework? Must focus on the priorities here. Well, at least until I get my next knitting assignment next week.

30 October 2005

Changing My World... One Can of Spray Paint at a Time

So I decided to do a little bit of changing on ye olde blog. The other template was just too dark for my bright and shining personality. *snicker, snicker* Anyway, no, mom, the wedding cake isn't suggestive of anything at all. This is just a free template that I'm trying out and I will eventually change that top graphic as soon as my brain can handle tackling a techy adventure. If only getting a good date was as easy as getting a new blog template!


Since the weather was gorgeous here this weekend, I finally decided to paint the ugly yellow furniture. I've had this stuff for three years now and have been waiting for the stars to align so I can get around to painting it. The chairs and table base are metal and when I bought it, the ex lectured me about the need to clean it all up, sand off the paint that was starting to chip, completely take apart the chairs, blah, blah, blah. Yes, he lectured and didn't offer to lift a finger to help. Typical. Anyway, I kept telling myself I was too busy to tackle the project, didn't want to have to do the sanding, and of course, if you can't do it right, best not do it at all. This, of course, is my logic for everything.

Nevermind that the set cost me a whopping $15 in the first place and they're going into an apartment where a large portion of the furniture has been snagged from my neighbor's trash. Don't do it if it's not perfect.

Well, screw that. Yesterday I ripped off the foam seats that were molding, grabbed whatever black spray paint I had in the craft room, and went at it. I couldn't get the screws off the seats so I'm just going to cover the whole base and not worry about doing it perfectly. Too often I get frozen by wanting to do something "the right way" and I end up procrastinating until everything is just perfect before I even begin. I don't read an article because I can't take notes while I work or I don't fix dinner because maybe I've only got time for a veggie burger instead of a full meal.

It's hard to admit that I'm not perfect, or maybe it's just hard to admit that I don't always give a hoot about being perfect. I didn't want to sand chairs. So there. Take that, Martha Stewart. I probably missed a few spots on my paint job. And I can guarantee my seat cushions won't fit exactly right. And my quilt seams are uneven, my knitted sweater sleeves are generally not the same length, and my dissertation has some bad grammar.

Sometimes it's nice to be just so-so.

1. Diss: Glory be, I have an argument for the chapter. No previews until I know that it will work. Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise!
2. Diet: This has been pretty spotty lately. (Isn't it always?) But I did lose three pounds when I weighed the other day.
3. Organization: Chairs painted. A big first step toward getting that project off my "to do" list.

24 October 2005

Inching Out

I think I just signed up for a scarf exchange... a real, live, knitting exchange...

I've been hesitant to really try and publicize my blog thanks to that darn Chronicle article about not blogging while on the job market. Yes, I see the logic in not putting your blog on your CV, especially if you're blogging about your fetish for doing nasty things with pickled pigs feet or ridiculing your co-workers for their idiot ways. But why should I be ashamed of the fact that I like to knit when I'm not working on my dissertation or my classes?

When I started teaching, I received the following advice: "You can't be a good teacher if you're not being a good person." Although Peter Elbow's philosophy of comp has completely vanished from my head, this has stuck with me, primarily because it rings true. I get so frustrated when academia expects people to cut off their life outside their research. Yes, I'm passionate about the Victorian novel, but there's more to life than Dickens. *shrieking heard from English departments around the world*

So, I'm going to try sticking my nose into a few little knitting groups, try this exchange, maybe even try the Samus knitalong since I have the yarn now. There is something thrilling when you meet someone who knows what you do and shares your interest. A few weeks ago when I did my first fiber fest and knitting roadtrip, I enjoyed talking with the girls who were also thinking of knitting Rogue and who were into the Knitty patterns. I know that I enjoy sewing primarily because in my family it's a group activity. We're all making the same quilts or going shopping together, even doing the actual sewing together when we're all in the same state.

Now comes the fun part of thinking what scarf pattern I'd like to try...

I also received teaching advice to "embrace your inner nerd." This one also sticks. Probably because I'm a big nerd.

The real message was about letting your students see you get excited about Wordsworth's poetry if that's what trips your trigger because your excitement will spread to them (hopefully). It works. I won't tell you how dorky I look when teaching Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," but let's just say there was some inner nerd on display that day.

Guess it's time to embrace my inner knitting nerd...

23 October 2005

Flash Your Trash

There’s this meme traveling around the knitting blog world where you “Flash Your Stash.” You all know that were I to take pictures of all my yarn, or all my fabric, or all my crafty supplies, poor Mom’s computer would fry on its trusty dial-up connection. It’s an illness. (My stuff, not dial-up, although that’s debatable…) So, in the spirit of the meme, but working with this goal of organizing and eliminating, I’m going to offer you some pics of my worst offenders as I unearth them and send them packing. Again, a bonus point offered to anyone who remembers the rummage sale where I purchased these “treasures.”

Yes, it’s a green bottle covered with melted crayons. I don’t get it either. I’m pretty sure this was from my “granola days.” You know, those phases one goes through while attending a liberal arts university. You wake up one morning and decide to wear your Birkenstocks with a long, flowing skirt, tie a bandana around your head, and slouch all day. You read the Beats in public and study outside under a tree. Then one day you realize that you really shouldn’t shower if you’re going to do granola days right and ewww, you're not really a no-shower kinda girl. Sso you clean yourself up and pull out the nicely ironed khaki pants from The Gap and so much for that whole routine. Yes, I was there. I recovered. I’m pretty sure there are even pictures to prove it.

Anyway, I suppose at some point I thought this was the perfect candlestick.

All I can say now is craft gone bad, craft gone very, very bad.

1. Diss: 5 pages: woo woo; still no thesis to this chapter, but that's nothing new.

2. Diet: no snacking??? not sure how that happened, but it did. huh... who knew writing could keep me out of the kitchen.

3. Organization: green bottle, in the trash; more lace, packed off to Amvets. Yes, I got a lot of lace, enough to make rugs for every room in my apartment. I don't understand it either. Just imagine how gross it would be if I'd never left my granola days and I had this much junk. It would be stinky junk... ewwwww... and it would probably be packed into the back of a VW minibus. Thank god for Gap khakis...

22 October 2005

Don't Judge a Boy by his Dog Collar

So I promised the tale of Jimmy the Tattooed Texan. Again, the story starts, this one time, at horsey camp… Why is it my mother always gets me into these adventures?

Horsey camp with Allison starts by a trip to the cafeteria… to check out the cowboys. Trust me, we weren’t there looking at the way the jell-o jiggled. This particular year it was a pretty sorry offering. Nerd dad and his crew were starting to look appealing until we actually saw some guys under the age of 50 saunter into the feast. From afar, there was promise.

Up close, there was a dog collar. What’s a cowgirl to do?

Well, being Al, who’s quite used to being hit on by every male in the country, you strike up a conversation. And those of us who know and love Al know that her conversations aren’t for the faint of heart. She talked. Jimmy flirted. She talked. Jimmy got confused. She talked. Jimmy left for a smoke. She talked. Jimmy made our camp fire. She talked. Jimmy had a beer. She talked. Jimmy passed out. She kept talking.

(Love you, Al. Hope Wade is ready for you!)

Anyway, Sandy, being the good mother who has probably earned a grey hair or two worrying about what trouble Al and I were getting into, started pondering Jimmy’s fashion sense. The longhorn tattooed around his bicep? Well, maybe that’s a little odd, but he’s from Texas and shoot, Leslie has a flower on her toe so maybe tattoos aren’t bad. But she got a little hung up on the studded dog collar. Do you blame her? Do you want your daughter dating a man with metal spikes around his neck?

So Sandy started asking questions. Hmm, wonder where Al gets it? She started by asking us what we thought about that thing he wore. We hypothesized. We dreamt up excuses. We laughed. We may have even made a mean joke or two.

And then we heard the truth. Seems Jimmy had been in a car accident and nearly had his head taken off. When he took off the dog collar, he had a large scar that circled the front of his neck.

Turns out Jimmy was a shy guy who was self-conscious. Never would have guessed the semi-pro football lineman with a dog collar could be so self-conscious.

I guess we're all a little like Jimmy, hiding scars underneath some pretty mean and prickly exteriors.

We were going to exchange email addresses but Jimmy confessed to not being able to read very well so that was that. Hope he’s happy making campfires somewhere.

1. Diss: 4 pages. Not nearly enough. This is so hard.
2. Diet: Even harder than writing. I did manage to make a decent meal today so I'll have some leftovers rather than peanut butter and jelly.
3. Organization: Started my Christmas gifts list. There's a slight chance I may be able to finish all my gifts on time this year, maybe.

21 October 2005

The Family Motto

Some families have crests painted above the fireplace in their country manor. Other families choose to go to horsey camp wearing coordinating tie dye muu muus. Yes, ‘tis a sad fact but true. This one time… at horsey camp… there was a large group of socially challenged individuals who came to the dining hall sporting their best duds to do their home schooling craft time. It was sad, sad, sad. And no we didn’t make fun of them at all. Would my mother and I do such a thing? I’m sure I didn’t say a mean word at all when I returned from having to square dance with nerd dad. Yes, I alternated between nerd dad and Jimmy, the tattooed Texan*, all night. I’m such a lucky girl it gives me shivers.

Anyway, my family is severely lacking in the crest and muu muu department.

However, give us time. Because we all know what’s coming when the genetic glimmer starts in our eyes and our fingers start to twitch… Say it with me… “I can make something out of that!”

I’m pretty sure I’m actually the illegitimate child of Martha Stewart and MacGyver because I can think of no better challenge than hearing I had to make a prom dress out of an orange juice carton, an old tire and duck tape. And you know you’re all reading this imagining how you too could turn garbage into couture.

This is a wonderful trait and has pretty much been the basis of my personal philosophy for my entire life. Really, I’m planning to have it engraved on my headstone. Who knows, maybe I’ll take up stove carving and do it myself.

But the problem here is that this little dictum prevents me from throwing away anything. Coffee grounds… could be used in antiquing a quilt or something. Old newspapers… did somebody say “origami”?

Part of my three-part mission to finish the diss, become a skinny mini and be as organized as a German minimalist on uppers is seriously thwarted by my complete compulsion to craft. Let me demonstrate with evidence:

Case Number 1: What, you mean you don’t have a giant glass globe full of lace balls? It’s all the vogue, really. This is the product of a going-out-of-business auction where I meant to buy their yarn supply and came home with an entire trunk full of sewing notions. I’ve already unloaded 43 sets of bra straps from this little find. And no, I’m not exaggerating. There was a brief moment where I considered making 43 new bras, but an alien invaded and told me this was absolutely ridiculous. (I only saved 5 sets, just in case I think of something to make with them.)

Anyway, the lace… It has actually been used. See?

In one of my crafting fits, I crocheted a lace rug to put at the edge of my bed so I have a little something to put my toes on when it’s oh-so-cold in the morning. Cute, but there’s a problem. The stupid thing slides on my floor. No, you shouldn’t imagine me crawling out of bed in the o’dark thirty hours of the day and busting my ass because my bed rug went flying across the room. It wasn’t funny, I promise.

Really, I don’t like rugs. They’re hard to keep clean. They always scoot around. And we all know that they’re a health hazard. We all remember the injuries from THE RUGS IN THE HALL. How many times did the family yell as we zipped down the hall at MomMom and BobBob’s? Don’t run. Yet, we ran. Well, sometimes we stopped and that’s when trouble started. Imagine the physics here. 5 snot-nosed grandkids busting down the perfect, long runway, until the voices from the living room caused us actually to behave for once. So we stopped. The rugs, they didn’t stop. There was a train wreck of giant proportions. It really is a wonder Chris wasn’t suffocated in the pile-up. Yes, rugs are a bad, bad thing.

So what in the hell do you do with all this lace? Trust me, I’ve spent many a morning commute pondering the deeper philosophy of lace crafting. I gots a whole lotta nothin’. Yet the lace stays.

Or it stayed.

Today, I took what may be a small step for a normal human, but really is a giant leap for compulsive crafters everywhere. The lace, she has been shipped out. Maybe someone will find her and love her.

I've heard rumors that the "gonna make something out of that" theme is contagious. Last night, when I admitted to cutting up old shirts for quilts in one of my more Amish moments, Laurie told me about a certain suitcase full of her grandmother's dresses. What a kindred spirit...

*The Jimmy tale is a good one. Maybe tomorrow you’ll hear why it’s best not to judge a guy by his dog collar.

Diss: Nada, Friday tends to be a bad writing day. Must make up for it tomorrow.
Diet: I’m not even acknowledging this has started… until tomorrow.
Ditching the Stuff: may the lace and all the rugs she was destined to be rest in peace.

19 October 2005

Three a Day

It’s October 2005 and my lunch of Slim Fast cheddar chive potato powdered nasty no flavor soup expired in April… of 2004.* I don’t even think they make this stuff any more, but I figured since it was the color of Tang it could withstand Armageddon and be safe for consumption. I guess I’m my father’s daughter. The man ate spoiled dog food because it was the only thing in the fridge. Of course, we should probably ask about why my mother, the professional food person in the family, is putting spoiled dog food in the fridge…

Yes, you may hire her to cater your wedding, but her family eats rotten dog food and powdered soup.

The astute among you would say that this is because she spoils us by doing the cooking, but my theory is that I deserve spoiling since I eat powdered soup. Yes, it may be circular logic, but shoot, this is my blog, not my dissertation so I can be illogical so long as it leads to a good meal in the end. By the way, mom, I’ll be sending along my requests for my Thanksgiving visit in time for you to hit the grocery store.

Anyway, I guess I’m a little behind in life, although I did go to the grocery store tonight. I was able to have my dinner of Fruity Pebbles with fresh milk as opposed to the expired stuff that I poured down the drain when I came home. I seem to always be a little close to the expiration date, a little too close to the edge. We can all laugh about my uncanny ability to polish off those little things in life (graduation speeches, wedding presents, conferences papers) at the very last second, but it’s starting to get to me. Running behind leads to a messy apartment, a kitchen full of dirty dishes and no time to make a real dinner so I grab junk food and go. I get swamped and skip the gym, skip the laundry, skip the things I enjoy doing because there’s just so much work to get done, or to try and slip past the radar that told the world the work should’ve been done a long, long time ago. So, I’m going to try adding a little feature on here to help me keep things away from spoiled dog food territory.

It’s a little early for resolutions (or maybe I’m just really, really late again), but I always seem to have three goals.

1. Finish the dissertation.
2. Lose weight.
3. Get organized.

Generally, these three don’t get along. If I take the time to write, the apartment turns into stacks and stacks of books and I sit on my butt at the computer. If I focus on working out, the laundry fills with stinky clothes and I forget what my dissertation is all about. If I try to get organized, um, yeah, that only leaves me making more of a mess because I drag out my yarn collection or my dish collection or my sweaters from junior high collection and can’t figure out how to put it back nicely. So, I’m going to try posting every day with a bit of progress on these three things. Yes, it may be boring, but eh, life is kinda boring sometimes.

After all, a boring turkey sandwich is much, much better than powdered soup or rotten dog food.

1. Pages written today: 2, got a little closer to figuring out my argument
2. Started a food journal and started a Wednesday Weigh-In. I’m not about to post my starting weight but hopefully you’ll get to see some “pounds lost” marks up here soon.
3. crossed off a few things from the “to do” list and did general apartment cleaning

Maybe tomorrow I’ll post good things about knitting night… there will be homemade pumpkin pie. So much for that diet!

*I may have another blog entry that starts the same way. I remember thinking I should blog about it the last time I discovered my lunch was over a year past its expiration date. Bet eating all that bad food is making my memory go.

16 October 2005


Now that my camera and computer seem to be getting along again, I can finally tell you about the fiber festival deflowering. While all the knitting world seems to be at Rhinebeck this weekend, my own little first timer experience in East Aurora was quite tame. But next year... oh, next year there will be Rhinebeck shopping galore! This could be very, very bad...

You will shop, oh yes, you will shop.

How could I resist the alpaca?

By the way, these are the cutest little critters I've ever seen. Mom, feel like raising alpaca? I'm sure they'd get along with Ruby and Easy.

Although we were a bit disappointed that the event was a little on the small side, we still managed to find yarn that just had to make it home with us.

Laurie and her credit card made friends with some of our favorite Brown Sheep stock. They were seconds, a huge bargain... practically free! (This is for you, Timm... the yarn was free, I tell ya!) So, yes, we cleaned them out. Laurie and I make a bad, bad, bad shopping pair. Enabling was the theme of the day.

The llamas were less than impressed with anything but the grass.

Anyway, so the important stuff, the haul... {Pictures will be coming. I need to take them tomorrow when I have daylight.}

1. Enough of the Brown Sheep (free) yarn for about three sweaters... or a large felted bag... or something like that. There's a lot of it. It's safely in the stash marinating until I decide what to make of it. And yes, there will be a road trip planned to visit Pollywogs in the future.

2. Handspun from the Knox Farm. Yummmmmy... although a bit on the au naturel side for me. I like my knitting without the hey, thank you very much. And the lanolin made the needles sticky... yes say it with me, ewwww. And I won't admit to casting on for a scarf immediately upon returning home. See the pics tomorrow.

3. 3 skeins of handspun alpaca from a local farm. Oh. My. God. It's a good thing I realize it's absolutely ridiculous to pay $40 for a scarf or I would've been completely insane and spent a gazillion dolars on enough of this for a blanket. Of course, if I had a blanket out of alpaca, I'd never leave the house... ever.

Yes, this knitting thing has become quite the obsession. I suppose I'm about as successful with the yarn diet as I am with the food diet. But who can resist an oreo or some alpaca, really?

Anyway, time to actually knit. Will post more pictures tomorrow.

10 October 2005

Taking Stock

So, since the chill is in the air and we’ve officially entered cold weather, it’s time to do some evaluation of my knitting/quilting plans. For those of you keeping track, this is my top ten list as it stands:

Wedding Present #1: Erica and Rob hitched, quilt gifted.
Wedding Present #2: Sara and Scott visited, quilt gifted.
The Pink Blob: abandoned. I haven’t frogged this one yet, but I think it’s coming. This was a trendy project of the moment that wasn’t taking minutes. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Shelby’s Hat: Keeper, to be worked on.
Irish Hiking Set: arm warmers finished, hat to finish at the next Thursday night with the girls as soon as I find my size 8 dpns… grrr, this is why I should never clean.
Ribbi Dibbi Cardi: Working on the sleeves now. Can’t wait to wear this one! Should start shopping for a 2-way zipper.
Vive le Bag: Must. Clean. Sewing. Machine. On hold… still.
Terrific Teal T: one more sleeve, one more sleeve…
Beaded Scarf: Meh, it’s sat this long, what’s a little longer? Just not feeling this one right now.
Design Your Own Diva: Went so far as to take it off the needle to finish #8. It’ll sit for awhile.

Now, from this list, I’ve got some top priorities: Terrific Teal; 2 hats; Ribbi Cardi. Not too bad, if I do say so myself, especially considering that since I started the list, I also threw in a hat for Kelly’s mom and the cheater scarf that just jumped on my needles. Nonetheless, I do solemnly swear that nothing will be started until these are finished. But what next, what next?

I’ve ordered yarn for either Kepler or Samus and I may just dive right in when that gets here. I’ve also got the fair isle purse class coming up very soon so I’ll need to make time so I can keep up with that once it starts. And then there’s Rogue… and mittens to match the herringbone scarf… and a big felted bag… and the Lara sweater… and the hoodie from Stitch ‘n Bitch… and…

And then there’s Christmas crafting to be done… ay yi yi.

Gosh, it’s a good thing I’m independently wealthy, already have 4 PhDs and have nothing to do all day but sit and be crafty… hardy har har.

30 September 2005

Excited, excited, excited

Dare I admit that I'm terribly, terribly excited to attend my first fiber festival?

Stop it with the "regularity" jokes already. They aren't funny and never will be.

There will be sheep. There will be bunnies. There will be alpaca.

There will be old people. There will be spinning wheels. There will be greasy (greazzzzzzy) fairgrounds food.

I know you're jealous.

And just so you know how excited I am, I went to the yarn shop this week and walked out without buying a thing.

Yep, that's excitement.

27 September 2005

Quilting...Leslie Style

So, remember that list of 10 crafty projects that had, had, had to be done? Yeah, I try to forget my "to do" list too. Anyway, some of those items had deadlines and y'all know Leslie and her deadlines. Gotta love the thrill of scooting in, just under the wire with one of those big clocks in the sky ticking away and the crowd holding its breath wondering if I'll get that last seam done just as the buzzer goes off. Ah, the joys of a procrastinator. Ahem, not a procrastinator, just someone with too much s**t on her plate and an uncanny ability to give herself more s**t to do. (Yes, I write about the delicacies of the nineteenth century. Guess I spend all my pretty talk there and y'all get s**t on a plate. It's a blue willow plate. Does that help?)

Okay, so last night I decided to be wild and crazy and work on secret marriage present #2. Sara and Scott aren't visiting for almost two weeks and I was sewing already. I know, frightening thought. But don't worry, I'm sure I'll be trying to tack this one on Friday afternoon, wanting my friends to arrive but secretly hoping there's a traffic jam in Canada. Yeah, rural Canandian traffic jams are a booger. (Granted this is about as likely as a traffic jam in Wooldridge, but I'm assuming I'll be pretty darn desperate by next Friday. Maybe some cows will get out or something...)

And just to show proof of my work... Since we all know a good stiff drink is a good idea when working with sharp objects, figured a bit of Kahlua and cream would help the quilt along. My mama would be so proud. Ash, recognize those jeans? You know they're from our favorite rummage sale friends. Wonder if they'll have a special deal if I come home for Thanksgiving.

See, there's this random house close to Ashley's neighborhood and every time I come to town, they're having a sale. Now, they're not the kind of crazies who have sales every week. (Who'd do that? Not even I have enough s**t to do a rummage sale every weekend. And who'd want to deal with rummage salers, I mean, people like us every Saturday morning? Ugh.) Once, I attended their sale and found a few items. You have to when all clothes are a quarter. Then, in true Leslie style, I get the bright idea to make jean quilts for everyone I know including the mailman. (See above discussion of too much s**t on the plate.) Gotta buy fabric!!! Jokingly, I tell Ash that I hope her neighbors have gone on a diet and have a ton of fat people jeans to sell to me... for a quarter. I was pretty freaked out when we saw the sign at the front of their house and a collection of South Beach Diet books on the table. But lest you fear, I can make jean quilts for all the mailmen in my life and since you know how frequently I move, I tend to have a new one every few days.

Gotta get out the door. It's Tuesday and we all know what that means... 25% off for students at AmVets! How I love the smell of musty thrift stores in the morning.

24 September 2005

20 Things

On my Internet perusals, I've seen lots of lists... projects to finish, things to research, facts about the world, things to do. These last ones are often related to birthdays or major milestones in life. Thought it was time to post my own to motivate and challenge me to enjoy the last few months of my 20's. I've been doing pretty well on accomplishing some of those things that are indicative of the carefree, swinging single life but these are all new things that need to be tackled. Should make for good blog fodder at the very least...

Oh, and today I made progress on #1... over 3 miles for the first time in a long time.

20 Things To Do Before I Leave My 20s

1. Finish a competitive road race. Don’t have to win, just have to finish… crawling if I have to.

2. Knit a sweater I’m actually proud to wear in public.

3. Go on (another) incredibly romantic, magical date. I put in the “another” there just in case this one doesn’t happen. Or maybe I should just be willing to cross out the requirement of romance and magic. Despite the misery and heartbreak of the Jeff debacle, we had an incredible first date, the kind that seems completely un-real in how special it is. I’d like to be able to replace that night with something else that I can claim as the most magical night of my life.

4. I’d like to write “finish dissertation,” but that may be just setting up disappointment. I’d like to have four chapters written by my birthday. Let’s all cross our fingers and dare to dream.

5. Go on a vacation with the girls… lots of cosmos, gossip and maybe a beach.

6. Pull another academic all-nighter just because I want to finish something I have to write.

7. Pull another party all-nighter because I just don’t want to go home.

8. Develop a financial plan for paying off student loans and becoming fiscally independent. At the very least I need to be sure the checkbook balances. To my credit, the bank always says it has more money than I think I do, but would be nice to remember Miss Wood’s accounting lessons.

9. See the Christmas decorations in New York.

10. Pick up a guy at the bar to get his number instead of waiting until he asks for mine.

11. Wear the sexy silver miniskirt I wore in London.

12. Go on a weekend roadtrip… by myself.

13. Be able to fit all of my clothes into my closets. C’mon, I have 5 closets. This should not be as difficult as it is.

14. Submit at least one article for publication.

15. Attend a Victorian conference and do the networking scene instead of bailing out to watch Law & Order in my hotel room.

16. Wear a two piece bathing suit. (If I have to, I’ll claim the tankini counts on this one.)

17. Get sloppy, messy drunk and let friends worry about taking care of me.

18. Wear a fabulous dress to a fabulous dinner at a fabulous restaurant that I have no business patronizing. (Eat Ramen noodles for a month to save up for this dinner.)

19. Plan my next tattoo. Actually getting inked is dependent on #4. I should at least have the design figured out.

20. Have a full day where I feel content, happy, worry-free, blessed, thankful for all I’ve been given, comfortable in my own skin and fulfilled.

06 September 2005

A Mysterious Event

Holy gadzooks, Batman. Did you see what happened?

Golly jeepers, Robin, I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it with my own two eyes. She just turned in a CHAPTER.

But wait, Caped Dude, it gets even stranger. She’s already reading and working on the next one.

Little Fella, we better return to the bat lair and get our umbrellas before we head out to fight crime and look utterly ridiculous in our spandex and leather ensembles.

Umbrellas? Um, that won’t match my tights.

I know, but remember how nasty it gets when we’re working near the lake and the gulls do their duty overhead? Well, just imagine how bad it’s going to be with all the pigs flying out there.

Guess she learned her lesson when she was a babe and her mother left her outside in the playpen for the birds to poop on. No wonder she’s spending so much time in the library.

05 September 2005

More of the same

I remember taking a history exam wearing a red sock, a green sock and a blue sweatshirt, all topped off with my faded, dirty baseball cap.

Hadn't had more than mini-naps for days, was living off Totino's frozen pizzas and didn't even have time to go to Wal-Mart for new socks. Yeah, no way I was doing laundry. I could go from Thanksgiving to Christmas break, no problem.

The more things change... the more they stay the same.

Years later I'm running off little sleep, wearing strange outfits (sure this blue sweater is still clean... only visible stains are on the cuffs and who sees that...) and the same faded, even dirtier baseball cap. I've switched to pierogies instead of pizza, only because Wegmans doesn't carry my favorite cheap-o brand. And I now own enough socks to go for weeks, maybe even months, before I have to do the mis-match thing.

But damn, no matter how long I keep doing this, writing from 7 a.m. until midnight still sucks.

At this point, even doing laundry sounds like fun.

03 September 2005

Appearing on a blog near you...

So, did y’all think I’d melted into a greasy little spot out there in Missouri?

It was a close call, but with the help of some retail therapy, fabric stash enhancement, and a dose or two of mom’s homemade ice cream, I made it.

So why the heck haven’t you updated your blog yet, missy?

Um, well… Let’s just say I’ve been writing OTHER THINGS. I don’t want to talk too much about that just in case I curse it. Look for a post on Tuesday about that. And before you think I’ve completely gone bonkers being afraid to talk about THAT THING THAT I’VE DEVOTED EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY TO, there are people that refuse to change their undies until they turn in a chapter. I’m not kidding. People just think us nerdy types are loners by nature. It’s really because most of us stink.

Ahem, but don’t you worry. I like hygiene. I shower at least once a day… with soap even.

Aside from showering and writing, the return to school has kept me just a tiny, teency bit busy. With fighting for a parking spot and all, I hardly have time to do anything fun. But I’m a determined gal, so I do my best to inject a little levity into my day. Why, even today, I’ve… um… well… I did some knitting before I sat down at the computer. I’ve managed to throw on two loads of laundry. Yeah, wow, I need to get out more.

Anyway, since this started out being a crafty blog, I’ll just update on my latest Martha endeavors and play like I’m hip, which I’m not, but at least I don’t stink… yet.

It will come as no surprise to any of you, but I’m pretty sure I have crafty ADD. Start a friendship quilt? Sure, I’m your gal. Start a new sweater? Absolutely! Start a scrapbook of my time in Buffalo just before I leave Buffalo? Got the supplies already in the stash! Finish a project? *GASP, CHOKE, SPUTTER*

Yeah, so finishing isn’t really my thing. I like that initial rush when the supplies are all neatly folded in the corn dog box, the pattern is free from highlighting and scribbles and I haven’t once said any bad words after screwing something up. This is probably a topic for some deep analysis and therapy, but shoot, what fun is that? And after all, writing about my little finishing issues is most likely a diversion from finishing THAT THING that’s lurking over there in the opened Word file, ready for more of my attention.

Instead, I present to you my top ten crafty projects list. I solemnly swear before my blog readers (well, reader… hi, mom), my desk mascot (Rodin’s The Thinker in high end plaster of paris*), and the holy of holies MY CRAFTY STASH, I will not start another project until these are finished. If I do, I will relinquish my favorite Addi Turbo knitting needles to the gods of slothdom and let their shiny silver points be used as chopsticks.

1. Super Secret Wedding Present #1: 10 more minutes on this sucker, but it’s been sitting in the project bag since I got back from Missouri. Must have completed and wrapped before leaving town Friday morning. The clock is ticking.

2. Super Secret Wedding Present #2: Adapted from Christmas presents from several years ago. Started at quilt camp. Sara and Scott will be celebrating their tenth anniversary before this one gets the checkmark. Must sew, sew, sew…

3. The Pink Blob: This is supposed to be a trendy cocoon-style bolero wrappy thingy. Right now it looks like it’s going to be big enough to wrap around a horse and it will most likely look as ridiculous on me as it would on Ruby or Easy. (Those are my mom’s horses for all you city slicker readers.) Must finish before the trend is dead.

4. Shelby’s Hat: Trying to re-create Elle’s hat from Legally Blonde. Found a pattern, have the yarn, delayed because I must crochet this sucker alone so I can count out loud. Don’t laugh. At least I don’t have to use my toes. That’s for the counting. But man, if I could use my toes to crochet… wow, the mind boggles at the super productivity that would allow. Something to consider…

5. Irish Hiking Set: Scarf, check. Fingerless mitts, not seamed. Hat, topless. So close, yet so far away. Must finish before I can begin hiking in Ireland. Or trekking to the library in a matching set of handknit, cabled coolness.

6. Ribbi Dibbi Cardi: Excuse no longer applicable. It’s not so hot that I’ll felt the wool with my own sweat if I knit on it. Get cracking before this becomes the summer sweater for 2006. If I’m not careful, Rachel will start this sucker four months after I do and be sporting hers before I’m even ready to start knitting the sleeves.

7. Vive le Bag: I’m thinking this babe has been cursed from the get-go. It took approximately 92 hours for the JoAnn’s workers to cut, price and sell my two yards of fusible fleece. The snails have invaded and taken over here. The cutie patootie poodle appliqu├ęs are awaiting their debut. Stupid little mutts are going to suffocate in the plastic packages before long…

8. Terrific Teal T: Round and round she goes, when she’ll be wearable, nobody knows.

9. Beaded Scarf: Set aside as my portable project but it rarely leaves the house. She’s getting to be quite the homebody. She’s got beads, people, she should be a dancing queen displaying all her finery.

10. Design Your Own Diva: Last spring I started a lace sweater that combined several patterns using my absolutely favorite yarn. Ended up being one of those “thinking” projects and as I try to avoid that whole brain thing as much as possible, it got shelved. Time to get out the calculator and give this challenge another go.

Whew, I’m ashamed to say that this isn’t even the entire list of my works in progress. I gots me some knittin’ to do!

10 August 2005

On the Road Again

Sewing machine and assorted tools... check.
Enough fabric to make 512 quilts... check.
Enough knitting to make my fingers fall off... check. (This is a big one. I ran out on the last visit and *gasp* had to buy more yarn.)
Ice wine to treat the Midwest gals to a Western New York specialty... check.
Thong underwear... check. Hey, it's on the quilt camp list. Blame Marcy.
!@#$$ library books and computer... ugh. It's there and I suppose I'll work... ugh.

Packed (sorta) and ready to head to the Heartland.

Look for crafty updates and stories of the natives soon.

06 August 2005

Kick Ass Friends

Kick ass friends are the kind of people who…

1. come over on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon to help you break into your own apartment when you’ve locked yourself out. They even bring their own ladder.

2. go for a joy ride to your ex’s parents’ home to deliver his junk. They even offer their own vehicle as a moving van.

3. tell you you’re drop dead gorgeous even when you’re knitting in your dirty sweatpants from softball practice. Then they pass the chip n’ dip.

4. give you new coffee mugs and fancy schmancy English tea as part of a “relaxation” birthday present. They know that you need the kind of mug that demands a two-handed-lift to support your habit of caffeine in the a.m. and caffeine + schnapps in the p.m.

5. surprise you with Lip Venom, sure to make everything you say (and all the kisses you give) much, much spicier. Angelina has nothing on you in this stuff. “Come here, Brad baby.”

6. join you on half-baked schemes to find love (and avoid toothless janitors) at the Grand Island Holiday Inn. They even help you run from the stalker farm boy.

7. text message completely inappropriate comments at just the right moment to make you blush and secretly be flattered.

8. tell you how to hide your self-help books behind the Derrida and Foucault. Then they add to your collection.

I love you guys. I’ve got me some kick ass peeps.

02 August 2005

You know that scene in American Beauty where the kid is espousing on the beauty around us and filming the plastic bag? This morning he would've had a heart attack from the sublimity on the 290. A garbage truck, full of Wegmans and Target bags, lost its load and there we all were, driving through the sparkling, shining bags floating in the morning breeze. It was like being in a snow globe of consumerism. And all I could do was giggle on the way to work with my own piece of the action stuck to the front of my car. Me, my morning commute and a Wegmans bag blowing in the breeze... it's the little things, right?

If a garbage truck is going to spew, better to have plastic sacks than a whole lot of other things stuck to the front of your car.

And in the spirit of finding beauty in the stuff emitted by your friendly neighborhood garbage truck, I deleted yesterday's post. If any of you read it, please also throw it in your mental garbage truck and forget it. No need to spew out any bad mojo on the internet. Or as the queen Beyonce says, "You know I'm not gonna diss you on theinternet ('Cause my mama taught me better than that)."

Hoping all your garbage is pretty as it floats through the air...

31 July 2005

Avoid the "del"

So yesterday I was writing along on that D thing I do with most of my time, and horror of horrors… I was typing forward but my laptop was going backward. The more I typed, the more it ate. There it went, just whirring across the screen… into nowhere. My laptop was sucking my dissertation into its rusty innards.

Yes, there was screaming. There was panic. There was pleading with a machine. There was random punching of buttons. Finally, I realized that the pesky little “del” button was stuck. Really, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often since this little gem of a machine has suffered much abuse and does owe me a few revenges. I didn’t mean to dump a glass of orange juice on it, promise. And all those times it got banged around in the car, not intentional. And I’m so, so, so sorry for staring at it with horrible expressions while I write. I’m just in pain because every word is being pulled from my fingers with the grace of using hot pliers to rip off a fingernail. Anyway, there was a kiss and make-up session and all seems to be working… for now.

Sometimes you just have to threaten these things by going on the Internet and looking for deals on new laptops.

Kinda like shopping for new boys… not that I’d do that or anything.

Anyway, before my week gets sucked into thin air like my dissertation, I should do the blog update. It’s been a busy one, folks.

Knit Knight

Ah, the knitting… it can only be improved with ice cream, which Laurie, Rachel and I consumed at exactly the same time since we learned that ice cream must be a group affair at Laurie’s. Not that we’re complaining… I mean, yeah, when you get out the chocolate ice cream I’m gonna join you. Rachel was gauge swatching (such a good little knitter), Laurie was working on a gorgeous scarf for a colleague (unless I steal it first), and I was doing a dish cloth for a housewarming present. (I forgot to take pictures before giving them away so I’ll have to do pattern updates later.)

We Are the Champions
You know it’s going to be a long night when after the first batter, the ump takes the girls’ favorite blue bat and gives it a toss as an illegal bat. Okay, I understand there are rules and all, but c’mon, you’re going to toss out the girls’ bat. Yeah, because we’re all hitting it out of the park. And the bat in question… a little league bat. It’s tiny, meant for 8 year olds. What damage are we going to do with that?

Curley demonstrates our exasperation.

Anyway, it was an epic battle for the coveted title of Thursday night co-rec champion, but the Mighty Marmosets pulled out ahead.

The Monkey Mojo was flowing.

Look out, Monday Night Champs. These chimps are coming for you!

AJ, This One’s For You
After the team celebrating, I attended a very different sort of celebration… a going-away party. Why they call these affairs “parties,” I just do not know. Unless you’re happy to be rid of some pesky sorts, why do we celebrate that our friends are packed into ten square feet of a truck to go off to new adventures?

Sure, I’m happy that AJ will have the chance to follow her heart and make lots of money as a big-wig lawyer, but I’m selfishly sad that I won’t be able to call her for pudding and Sprite when I get the stomach flu nor will we get together to play charades or go on rummage sale hunts. (Yes, I honestly enjoyed the charades. I know, I’m lame.)

I suppose that’s life. People leave. We have some drinks and enjoy some memories. We get a little sad that we aren’t the ones packing up our own U-haul (or horse trailer, take your pick). And then we go to house-warmings, a celebration of new living rooms to decorate with our sweeties.

Hilda’s House
Well, she lets Joe live there too as long as he remembers to put the seat down.

We inaugurated some new digs with a little paaaar-taaaay. Don’t worry, Maya, there was no 80’s breakdance jamboree nor were there any drag queens (at least that we know of). There was, however, an ode to bosoms composed (on the fridge) by the duo set to rival Shakespeare and Jonson, our own Rachel and Matthew.

And that, my friends, has been my week, aside from the countless hours at the library, in my office and the gym. No one needs to hear about the thrills of finding more damn articles to read or the joys of doing another round on the treadmill.

25 July 2005

A Little Geography Lesson

Do you ever have one of those conversations where you leave thinking the person must've been pulling your leg because, really, no one can be that stupid?

This afternoon I was leaving the mall after making some returns (buying the wrong size at Victoria's Secret, talk about being stupid...) and a man and woman approached me with the seemingly innocent question, "Is there a mall around here?"

Dumbfounded reply, "Um, well, there's this one," pointing to the large structure about 100 feet away. "And then there's one in Amherst."

"No, I mean, like a plaza, with shops around a parking lot."

"Oh, you want the outlet mall in Niagara Falls."

"Is it in America?" [Believe it or not, this isn't the stupid part yet.]

"Yes, it's on the American side. Just take this highway here and you'll see signs for the exit."

"Okay, see, I remember being there once and I could see the ocean."

Yeah, okay, for clarity, there is absolutely no way to see the ocean from the Gap Outlet in Niagara Falls. We're nowhere near the ocean. A big lake or two, but no ocean. Big, big difference.

I mean, c'mon, I slept through Coach Gourd's geography class every single day of sophomore year and I know that. [Yeah, I know, stellar student that I am, but hey, I sat with the football team and when the football team slept, so did I. I was sleepy after band. At least I know that the ocean is far, far away. I also knew that if I whispered the right answer to Cory, Coach would stop bugging us with his attempt at teaching and let us go back to sleeping. Hey, I'm no dummy.]

"Well, sir, you may be able to see the Falls in Niagara Falls, but no ocean. And the Falls are quite a ways from the mall."

"Okay, well, are there black people there?"

"Yes, they're surfing the waves in the ocean."

Okay, even I couldn't be that sarcastic. Granted, Buffalo has its racial problems, but I felt like telling the poor fella that he'd likely have more problems at Calvin Klein due to his barely clad woman friend than his skin color.

So after assuring the man that segregation has in fact been defeated and he can shop at the strip mall by the ocean, I went along my way wondering if the whole thing was an illusion caused by impending heat stroke. Maybe I'll go for a swim tonight instead of the treadmill...