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.