Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In which Manimal knits, and Ragnar feels (slightly) better

While I was wallowing in self pity and misery yesterday….er…kicking the ass of this disease that has me under its power, I forgot that I promised to post about Manimal’s knitting school.

Yes. Manimal knits. Not very often, and he seems to use it as some sort of self inflicted punishment, since he curses the whole time and says “I hate knitting,” over and over until whatever it is that he’s knitting is finished. So far he has confined himself to hats. He picked up his latest project while I was in the throws of the extremely crappy hat. I think he was jealous of how miserable I was, and wanted to get in on the action.

A non-knitting friend ended up at my house post pillaging and plundering last Friday, and (as semi-intoxicated people sometimes do) started talking smack about how he could knit. “An ex-girlfriend showed me how, and I knit like a Mofeekey (sp?) until I got bored.” How long was that one might ask? “About five minutes.” Ahh. And as semi intoxicated, uhm, who am I kidding, entirely intoxicated people sometimes do we decided that it was time for him to relearn…starting with casting on. I tried to teach him a continental cast on, but it wasn’t going very well. He kept interrupting with irritating questions like, “wait, how did you do that.”

Which is when Manimal stepped in, Manimal who had been at work late, had not meet up with us for pillaging and plundering, and so was entirely sober.

(first lesson)
Manimal: First of all; no put your yarn down. Say “Fuck” as loud as you can.”
Non-knitting Friend: FUCK!
Manimal: That’s all there is to it.

(Beginning to cast on)
Manimal: You make a loop and put in on the needle.
Non-knitting Friend: By golly! You made a loop and you put it on the needle.

Non-knitting friend: (regarding the ball of yarn with suspicion) It’s got two ends, a ball end…and another end.
Manimal: (holding up the shorter piece of yarn) Loose end – tail.
Non-knitting Friend: So that’s the magic part?

(After a few minutes of “cast on” training”)
Manimal: So did you make a stitch?
Non-knittng Friend: Nope, I made a mess.

(A few minutes after that)
Non-knitting Friend: FUCK!
Manimal: What happened?
Non-knitting Friend: I’m just testing.
Manimal: Glad to see your keeping up your form.

(After initial cast-on success)
Non-knitting Friend: I just made “a thing.”

(After more cast-on success)
Non-knitting Friend: I’m casting like a mofeekey, but how far do I go?
Manimal: Do a bunch and then count them.
Non-knitting Friend: Count them? FUCK!

(After Manimal notices me taking notes on a random piece of paper)
Manimal: Are you doing math?
Ragnar: Nope.
Manimal: Are you making notes for your blog?
Ragnar: Yup.
Manimal: Why would you want to do that?
Ragnar: I can never remember when I’m sober what you guys do when I’m drunk.

Ta-da! So anyway, if you ever want to teach one of your drunk friends how to knit, you can drop them off at our house, because there’s an experienced teacher in residence.

And I also promised a review of the “TV-b-gone.”

This thing is awesome! They cost about $20, and they look sort of like those “boop-boop” remotes that people who drive new fancy cars get to have on their keychains. Basically it’s a universal remote control that only sends “off signals.” At one point we had every TV in the bar shut off for about 20 minutes before anyone noticed. You get to feel all secret spy like while you’re doing it because it sends out about 60 different remote codes, and you have to keep it aimed at the television the whole time without seeming like you’re aiming a remote control at their television….very sneaky. If you decide that you want one (and why wouldn’t you?!) get the “newer” model because it allows you to “double click” the button to prevent it from flashing in a distracting, and attention attracting way. It also lets you restart the turn off cycle by repressing the button half way through so you can turn TV’s off faster. This is going to be my universal present for all occasions.

Manimal said that he got both of the behind the bar TV’s with one click…what a pro!

When I got home yesterday, I flopped into my comfy chair, and Manimal asked how I was feeling. “I don’t even feel like knitting.” I muttered, and he knew it was serious. I did muster the energy to spin for a couple hours though. I looked at my spinning wheel with all three of its bobbins empty, and said “Fuck it, I’m sick and I don’t want to spin that nasty ass linen that has to be all damp and clammy and makes your fingers cold. I’m going to spin the fabulous fire colored wool/mohair fluff that’s been languishing in its tub of unspun fiber for the last month. And I did, and it was great.

As you can probably tell I’m feeling better today. The congestion has moved down into my chest so I get these great hacking coughs that cause my co-workers to regard me sympathetically, so I still get all of the pity without feeling so much like ass. I’m going to work like a “mofeekey” as non-knitting friend would say, and leave early so that I can pack for the trip. Yes! The trip. No Ragnar until Wednesday! And when I return I’ll be full of Kerouac style “on the road” anecdotes; the speed traps of Pennsylvania, the excitement of the Chinatown Bus into New York City…and much much road trip knitting.

Ragnar….foot loose and fancy free

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Can you beat a cold through sheer bloodymindedness?

I swear there is some sort of computer transmitted virus in the blogosphere. No sooner do I hear about someone else coming down with something, then I feel a tickle in the back of my throat that blooms into full blown runny nose, chills, nausea and body aches within approximately 10 minutes. But that’s not the point! The point is that I CAN’T be sick right now. I’m supposed to be getting ready for a 5 day long road trip to the East Coast! Not acceptable. Grrrr. I will choke down “cold season” tea (Yogi says: Recognize that the other person is you…and just what the fuck does that mean?) and Emergen-C, and I will beat this thing god damn it! And then I will go home and tuck myself into bed at approximately 7:30pm, and sleep until it’s gone…fucking virus anyway. Nasty wee beasties.

Spent last night ferrying things over to my studio, and in the process I took a tumble on our treacherous stairs of death when I missed the bottom step, landing squarely on my knees. So I’m limping slightly today, and that’s in addition to the chills and body aches…I can’t sort out what’s sore muscles from wrangling boxes of fabric around, and what’s a symptom…don’t suppose it matters. I had a lot of fun showing Dready around “my” building though. She got to see my mailbox (I have a mailbox!) and the sign by the door that has my name on it…and of course the studio it’s self, which she pronounced to be “more modern” than she’d thought it would be. More modern, and now filled with piles of fabric that have been separated from their shelves in my old garret. I need some shelves baby, I need shelves bad.

I also hijacked her camera. I’m going to fill up the memory card, and give it back to her, and then she will email me the pictures and I will slowly release them on the blog, thus creating the illusion that I am a “real” blogger. Clever huh? Okay maybe that’s just the cold medicine talking…fucking virus. I’m going to try to beat this thing by abusing the infection so much that it decides my body is inhospitable and leaves of it’s own accord. Ha! Take that you cold bug you.

And here’s a depressing thought, since I am feeling low down and sorry for myself anyway. We have a time clock program on our computers at work, so everyday when I punch out it prints me a little receipt that lets me know exactly how much of my life I have wasted in this place. Today’s total: 9717.283 hours. That’s 404.88 days…continuous days mind you. That’s 1.109 years. Over a year! One whole year of my life, gone. Just signed over to someone else to do with as they please. Can you even conceive of how much a person could accomplish if they devoted a solid year, 24 hours a day? I could have raised the sheep, sheered them, scoured the wool, spun it and made it into some sort of gigantic totally useless thing…a house cozy or something. And if you consider that I’d have to sleep for some of that time, say 8 hours a day perhaps, that brings the total more like a year and a half. Fuck a duck. Grrr. And what do I get in exchange? Some completely useless little scraps of paper that disappear form my life before they’re even registered in my bank account. Some micro percentage of the house that’s been paid off…myriad car repairs…food. Blah.

But! I have a studio that’s all mine and just waiting for me to come over and sort things into piles and tape things to the walls, and organize everything so that it’s neat and pretty and so everything will be okay. As soon as this fugnasty virus gets out of my head. And then Dready and I will head off to the “old” part of America and check out what Philly has to offer. I’m quite looking forward to seeing Dready’s reaction to our oldest cities, since she’s from Paris and will probably get a good chuckle out of it.

Ragnar….no wee beastie gonna keep me down.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I started 6 sweaters this weekend!

No, wait, I started the same sweater six times…that’s slightly different isn’t it?

Pillaging and Plundering on Friday night, I knit a fantastic amount on my skull/flip flop sock…which all had to be frogged when I got home and saw the dropped stitch three inches back on the soul….knitting and drinking is hazardous to productivity. The bar was verra verra crowded. “”Who are all of these people in our bar? What do these happy hour/happy worker people think they are doing here anyway?” There was a line when we left...meaning that the bar was at capacity and they weren’t letting anymore people in, highly entertaining to be toting our knitting bags out past a line of Sorostitutes and Frigalos (er…Sorority Chicks and Frat Guys) who were waiting for our chairs. Personally, I think that we should move pillaging and plundering to a new night, since Friday nights are sort of scary. I’m voting for Tuesdays, since Tuesday is ladies night and drinks are half off after 8:00, fer ladies, and since we’re female I don’t think they’ll actually ask for our finishing school diplomas…we’re knitting fer fuck’s sake, how much more ladylike does it get? We could meet at 7:00, and knit until 10…and get up with a happy hangover on Wednesday morning.

The most exciting thing that happened while Pillaging and Plundering is that one of the Plunderer's came up with a possibly perfect sweater for the “free” wool. It’s from “Inspired Cable Knits,”* the “Celtic Icon” hoody (which does not have pockets but after estimating how much yarn I have I suspect that I won’t have enough for pockets anyway). So on Saturday I mostly sat around starting “Celtic Icon,” knitting about 3 inches, whipping out the measuring tape, sighing dramatically and ripping it out….over and over and over. The third or fourth time I actually made it through one whole repeat of the cable pattern and realized that I was going to go stark raving mad if I had to knit anymore of them. Also I realized that since I’m knitting a larger version, busty gal that I am, the cable would be sort of isolated in a big field of stockinette. Verra boring.

What’s a Pirate Girl to do when the possibly perfect sweater ends up not being quite as perfect as she’d hoped? She reaches out for “Viking Patterns for Knitting” which she always keeps with in arms reach, because baby Ms. Lavold knows how to design a cable! Plus Vikings are Pirates…so we’re keeping it in the family as it were. This is the book that got me excited about knitting. I saw it in the library knew that I had to become a knitter, and right quick. The second time that I had it checked out for more than three months, I decided that I had to purchase it, and it’s still the only knitting book I’ve ever bought.

I am sort of desperate to get something substantial on the needles since Dready and I are heading out of town for a much needed road trip this weekend. We’re driving out to Philadelphia to visit our pal Dr. Vic (who comments here occasionally but probably stopped reading this blog because of posts like this one that yammer endlessly about knitting and assume that people know and or care what the difference is between a cable and, oh say, a hole in the ground). It’s estimated to be a 15 hour drive, and if I don’t have something interesting to knit I will go nuts and then Dready will go nuts and not even “The Complete Works of Slayer” will get us through. So possibly against my better interest I am starting the “free wool” sweater, because I’m excited about it damn it! And because I like the feeling of danger inherent in knitting something out of insanely precious yarn (I don’t care if it’s itchy, I picked shit out if it damn it! and spun it on a drop spindle that I made myself from parts I bought at a Michael’s for 75 cents) that I almost certainly don’t have enough of, in a pattern that I’ve altered recklessly. The photos in the book are cleverly taken in such a way as to hide the decreases on the raglan sleeves, so I suspect that they were sort of fucked up even before I willy nilly substituted a different, wider cable pattern. But whatever! I’m knitting on the edge damn it! I’m taking foolish risks and trusting in Ninkasi that it will all work out in the end. On the plus side, the yarn doesn’t seem much the worse for having been through a thorough frogging.

And guess what I’m doing tonight! Guess guess guess! I’m moving into my studio! I have the keys in my pocket even as I type these words. I have every intention of hijacking Dready’s camera to commemorate the event so that this can be one of those fancy “illustrated” type blogs.

Tomorrow: Manimal’s knitting school, and a product review of “TV-b-Gone.”
Ragnar….extreme knitter, and studio-havin-artiste

* In spite of my personal problems with "Celtic Icon," based mostly on the completely counter intuitive cable pattern, I should say that "Inspired Cable Knits" has a much lower suck factor than almost every other book I've looked at lately.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Blogger has unbitchified enough to allow me one photographic upload, and since I just called landlord dude and scheduled a money drop for Monday...which means I'm actually going through with this, yay! I thought I should at least post one quilt photo for good luck.

So this is "below the surface." It's about 18 inches square, and yes there is a hole in the middle. Hopefully soon I will be doing a lot more stuff like this. Double yay.

And Atla, don't worry dear, my "no knitting in the quilt studio" rule only applies to the storage of yarn, I will still have at least one if not two current projects in my tote bag. You were envisioning a sort of checkpoint where I would be strip searched and any knitting paraphernalia would be confiscated?

Oh, and since I don't think I'm going to have time to do a "normal" (see also, long winded) post today, I'll just share the revelation that I had this morning...that being that the "crappy" hat, aka "the three hour hat" did not have any skulls on it. Therefore I have complied with the promise that I made to myself that I would "take a break from skulls," and so the fact that I'm including a ring of skull and cross bones on the flip flop socks that I'm currently working on does not mean that I am a compulsive skull knitter.

Ragnar...can rationalize anything.

P.S. Check out the link that Beverly posted in the comments yesterday. Skull and Crossbone lace! Now I can cross over into the wacky world of lace knitting!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The three hour hat.

Quilt pictures have been transformed by the magic of resaving in a different file format, but blogger is being a demon from the blackest reaches of foulest hell, and so there will be no photos today. If you just can't wait email me and I will send them along.

Negotiations are ongoing in the getting of the studio. I was trying to rent two rooms, one for my studio and one for my quilting machine, which is mounted to a 12 foot long table and needs at least 2 feet of clearance on all sides in order to operate it. Unfortunately the room that was going to be the quilting workshop has been rented to someone else, and if I try to put it into the room that I was envisioning as the studio then I wouldn’t be able to fit anything else in it…what to do, what to do? I was going to decide last night but circumstances conspired to send me home in a foul mood (nothing that needs talking about here) and I glued myself to my comfy chair and knit a three hour hat instead.

There is much to be said about the three hour hat, but the telling would be sweeter if I had a photo of it…yes Ragnar, wouldn’t it always? It’s fresh in my mind though, so I’m going to tell about it now, and show it later, when blogger is not being a...yeah what I said before.

The tale of the three hour hat.

“My” spinning wheel is actually a semi-permanent lone from some friends who used to run a collective art studio. It’s a Louet S10, and it was abandoned there years ago, and had been suffering in the corner getting progressively dustier. I offered to take it home and love it until such a time as the rightful owner, or the owner of the studio where it had been abandoned should have need of it. I brought it home and dusted it off, oiled some parts, tightened some screws etc. The bobbin was packed full of some of the nastiest handspun I’d ever seen in my life, thick thin, over spun, everything that my first hand spun was but more of it, and covered in a thick layer of gritty dust. I was going to throw it away, but on a whim I decided to ply it and see what came of it, this was obviously someone’s first effort and since the bobbin was packed full they had evidentially stuck with it. How could I just callously toss that into the trash bin, even if that’s where it belonged? What I ended up with was a short skein of bulky, itchy wool, with lots of little sticks in it…not hay, sticks…I think this came from some forest dwelling sheep that liked to roll around a lot, and it left my hands feeling both gritty and greasy…nasty stuff in other words.

Then it lay around the house for a while, because I still couldn’t bring myself to actually throw it into the garbage can. And then last week I went on a yarn washing binge and washed up all of the handspun that I had lying around, including the horrible skein of itchy, stick ridden, greasy/dusty stuff that came with my spinning wheel. I threw it in with some hand dyed (not by me) that bled and so it turned slightly mottled.

In my foul mood of last night I was indulging in some fiber therapy by taking the dried yarn off of the laundry rack in my bathtub and admiring how beautiful it was etc. when mine eine beheld the skanky yarn. It had been improved somewhat by washing, fluffier, and not as greasy but it still had it’s slubby, overspun stick-encrusted characteristics…in short it was the perfect yarn for my foul mood. I rummaged through my needles, settling on 11’s as a nice prime number and then glued by bottom to my comfy chair and did not move it for 3 hours. I knit with all the vigor you might expect from someone in a foul mood who is knitting with awful yarn and getting jabbed by little bits of sticks. In fact I’m surprised I didn’t give myself a hand cramp. About half way up the hat I was disappointed to realize that it wasn’t turning out as crappily as I had intended, so I put some bobbles on it. When I reached the end I still had a sizeable ball of yarn left so I added a large pompom. When I set it down in front of me and glared at it with my evil eye…I realized that I wasn’t in a bad mood anymore. A miracle.

Now I just have to find someone who deserves a lot of bad mojo to give it to.

Ragnar…knitting is my voodoo.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In which Ragnar get's giddy.

I’m afraid that if I start writing it will degenerate into a vituperative rant about my co-workers, oops too late now. I know that it’s not their fault that they are incompetent boobs, and that it is in fact due to Anita the Hut’s inferiority complex, that is that she only hires incompetent boobs because it makes her feel better about herself when they fuck up constantly. (and just what does that say about me?) Still I do get fed up with having every single order that comes across my desk lack some sort of vital information that makes it impossible for me to identify the product in question. Which in turn leads to an endless round of phone calls where in I feel like banging my head against my desk and the salesperson in question feels like I’m “picking” on them by requesting that they pull it together long enough to do their fucking job. I really have to get out of this place and get back to making art, either that or I will find myself stuck with some outlandish bill for therapeutic services rendered…or more likely an astronomical bar tab.

I’ve been thinking a lot about art lately because I haven’t been able to do nearly enough of it (it’s become a luxury that I can’t afford unless I have a paid commission…and isn’t that sad?). Our house has been in the process of destruction for the last year and a half, and we are about to begin the second stage of demolition, meaning that I have to find a new roof under which to store my various machines as well as my unruly stash of fabric. To that end I met with a man this morning who has some rather smallish (I think) rooms in a converted factory that he’s willing to rent me for some paltry, although to my broke ass, astronomical, sum. Wouldn’t it be exciting to have an actual studio? I feel like I might be jinxing it by bringing it up, but I’m really quite giddy about it. And I like the fact that the space is in an old factory and that my neighbors would not necessarily be other artists (not that I’m not terribly fond of other artists). There’s a granite monument company, a big machine shop, a trucking company, and a few other more artsy types as well…a nice mix of people. So that would be two big birds with one stone. The forcing myself back into art bird (after all one can’t pay paltry/astronomical sums for studio space and not use it), and the jumpstarting work on the house bird, since Manimal has promised that we can “gut” the downstairs after my sewing machine leaves. I love the word “gut.”

And here’s the scary thing about moving into a studio. It would be a “no yarn allowed” zone. All knitting related things would be banished to the “home” and only quilting and fiber art supplies would be allowed in the “studio.” Creepy huh?

If anyone knows how I can transform a .tif file into something that I can post on a blog I will put up some pictures of my quilts.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More evidence of my self delusionment

Hey! Guess what I’m doing? I’m casting on a new knitting project with absolutely no feeling of guilt about my unfinished works in progress. Wanna know why? No? Too bad I’m telling you anyway.

Because I don’t have any unfinished works in progress! They are all done! I mean, not counting the ones that I have yarn for, but haven’t started yet. That’s a totally different category…the unstarted project.

Which brings me to the issue of stash. I have quite a fabric stash, since despite evidence to the contrary (i.e. I spend all my time knitting and spinning) I am a quilter. However I’ve managed to keep my yarn/fiber stash pretty well under control. I was crowing about this to my mother on the phone last night…about the fact that I’ve managed to keep my yarn cravings in check and that I usually only buy yarn if I know exactly what I’m going to make out of it. Manimal happened to walk by at this point in the conversation and he started snorting with laughter. “What? I don’t really have that much yarn. Co-worker gave me that garbage bag of stuff last week and I think that that probably tripled my stash.” He thought for a moment and said “I think all your yarn would probably fit into a 55 gallon drum.” This is firstly an example of the fact that Manimal and I have vastly different frames of reference (I don’t think of my yarn in terms of gallons), and secondly an indication that I really don’t have that much yarn. I mean, a 55 gallon drum? Those don’t take up much space, right? So I said “Exactly, I really don’t have that much yarn.” He continued chortling, added a head shake and walked out of the room.

And for reference, that 55 gallon estimate includes all of my spinning fiber, and most of the yarn that I have at the moment (aside from the odds and ends from coworker last week) is handspun…so we are combining two different hobbies here. I’m also relatively good at using up all my odd ball bits and ends because I favor projects such as hats with foot long multi-colored dread locks (swear to Ninkasi I will have a picture of it soon..ish).

So, if you could all do me a huge favor, and post really long comments about how much yarn you all have stashed away so that Manimal knows what a real yarn stash looks like I would appreciate it.

Ragnar…really not that bad of a fiberslut. Really.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Church of the Open Bottle, St Patrick's Day Services

Since St. Patrick’s Day is the most important holiday of the year for worshippers at the Church of the Open Bottle we will be starting early, with a dawn prayer service at 11:00am. After this brief worship service, which will consist of drinking whiskey directly from the bottle and pinching anyone who’s not wearing green, a hearty breakfast will be served on the quarter deck. Anyone who is moved to pray…or drink more whiskey….will be welcome to do so. In an expression of interfaith harmony, followers of the cult of Ninkasi (the Sumerian Goddess of Beer) will be invited to attend all St. Paddy’s revels…er services, and beer will be provided for those of weak disposition who can’t drink whiskey before noon. And you know…since we’re all pirates there will probably be rum as well. The council of elders has discussed the matter that was broached at last years celebration, and it has been decided that we will not be putting green food coloring into the Hollandaise Sauce this year, because it caused it to resemble congealed snot and was supremely unappetizing. Those who require a yearly infusion of green dye will have to find it at the lower caliber of drinking establishments where they’ve been known to pollute their fermented beverages with it.

Unfortunately I’ve just realized that I don’t own a single piece of green clothing. I have some black clothing that is faded enough that it’s starting to appear green in certain light…it’ll have to do.

The first time Rat Girl was introduced to the idea of pinching for not wearing green she was in Kindergarten, and since she’s prone towards violent self expression anyway, the notion stuck like glue. Weeks after St. Patrick’s was passed she was still sneaking up behind me with her pincher’s on red alert, and sometime around October she started asking “When was that month that you got to pinch people for not wearing green?” There was a similar result at last years pirate party when I put her in charge of forcing those people who did not come dressed as pirates to walk the plank. If you didn’t look like you stepped out of that Johnny-Depp-Monstrosity-That-Shall-Not-Here-Be-Named, it was off to the plank with you laddy. It’s good to keep an enforcer around.

Oh shit! I just realized that I made an appointment to talk about an art commission with someone on Friday…fuckohfuckohfuck. That was supremely bad planning. Is it really unprofessional to reschedule and appointment because you plan on being drunk at the time? “Ah yes, I realize I was supposed to meet with you tomorrow afternoon, but you see I’ll be intoxicated, and it would be to our mutual benefit to reschedule. No, I’m sorry Saturday won’t do either, I’ll be dreadfully hungover all day.”

Ragnar….bad business woman.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dying for it

I know that you are all hanging by your fingernails waiting to find out about what happened with my linen spinning: I tried “counter clock-wise” and decided that it sucks! It seems like it shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s like trying to write with your left hand…or you right hand if you’re left handed. The water acted like glue, and when I tried to draft I only got a few strands at a time, so I ended up with this ridiculously thin yarn. I have thread that’s thicker than this turned out to be. I kept it up for an hour or so, and when I plied it I think I had about 4 yards. So, yeah, I don’t care if flax naturally twists to the left, ‘cause I’m gonna twist it to the right.

The excitement of having all my “free” wool spun up made me pull out all of my spun but not yet washed yarn. I draped them all on my quilting machine….and I think I could knit a 12 foot long scarf for every person I know. I have a ridiculous! quantity of handspun. Make that a ridiculous quantity of undyed handspun, so I think my next foray into craftasticness will be dying. I’ve asked the proprietor of my favorite yarn shop for advice about dying, she is an amazing weaver and dyes a lot of the yarn that she sells, so I’m hoping that she will have some sort of magic wand, or golden ticket to sell me so that I can become a pirate of the dye kettle. In the mean time my house is going to look like wash day at the yarn farm. Somehow I convinced myself that it would be easier to wash it all at once…and forgot that I have an extremely small sink.

This is random, but I think entertaining. I sell my art work under the company name “Fine Art Quilting.” I also sign up everyone I possibly can that lives in my household for Crappy Fabric R Us’s sales flyers, since they all come with 40% off coupons in them. I sometimes need to buy large quantities of fabric and I have an allergic reaction to paying full price. The cat gets one, Rat Girl gets one, Manimal gets one, roommates who moved away three years ago get them. I have not resorted to making people up yet, because I never use all the ones that I get, and because that would be dishonest. Anyway. I signed up under the name “Fine Art Quilting,” and either I have really awful hand writing, or the drone entering the addresses in the computer that day was feeling really tired, because I get a flyer in the name of “Fine Arr Quilting.” See? Even Corporate America knows that I’m a pirate.

And this relates to undyed yarn because when I don’t have to buy large quantities of fabric I buy the “Fisherman’s Wool.” It’s a Lion Brand product, but it’s 100% wool (100% scratchy wool) and it only comes unbleached. I think you’re supposed to knit unwearable chunky Irish sweaters for your worst enemies or something. However, it felts like mad. So I’m going to dye it with fire colors and make myself a felted knitting bag with flames on it. If it works out well I will submit the pattern to Anticraft, because I just love those people. I’m going to try my best to document the whole process, so that I’ll have some interesting pictures to put up on the blog.

Ta for now!
Ragnar…soon to be pink from the elbows down.

PS. Blogger just told me I wasn't authorized to view my own Blog. I found that pushing the refresh button several times made it admit to the error of it's ways.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Finishing with finishing

This is what comes of proclaiming yourself a “finishing queen.”

First of all one of my knitting coworkers, who is evidentially a knitter but not a finisher asked me sweetly if I would pretty please sew up the seams on something that she said she would “never” get around to finishing, but desperately wanted to wear. Since she bribed me with a bag of yarn (a trash bag full of yarn), I didn’t figure I could say “no.”

Secondly, the bizarre looking, and (I thought) unwearable hat that I thought was finished? The hat made out of about 20 different handspuns (everything from Australian wool, to Alpaca…my first feeble attempts as spinning silk are in this hat, the only fiber that didn’t make it in was the dreaded linen rope), with foot long dread locks (in as many different colors, mostly the odds and ends from various dye workshops)? Well apparently when Manimal told me that that was going to be his hat, he really meant it. I think I mentioned that the chapeau in question is rather top heavy? Yeah, so I’m going to knit a lining for it, on smaller gauge needles so that it might actually stand a chance of staying on his head….upshot? Not really finished after all. Grrr.

However! I did get more pictures of Viking Baby in the mail today…in these he is looking much more fierce, so I think there’s hope for the kid after all. All that organic food and breast milk might make a regular baby soft, but not Viking Baby…he’s gonna be a coastal raider one of these days.

And! I finished plying the free wool last night, so I will be washing it up and trying to figure out how much of it I have. (sidenote…weighing yarn on a bathroom scale is somewhat pointless, I have somewhere between 1½ and 2 pounds) I am looking for a nice cardigan pattern with a zipper front, a hood, and a lot of complicated cabling, but NO bobbles. Anyone? Anyone? I think I’m looking at a gauge of 5 or 6 stitches to the inch. Probably I will just end up making it up as I go along and inserting some of Elspeth Lavold’s wonderful “Viking Knitting Patterns” at random, per my usual.

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but it’s spring damn it! My cat has developed a severe case of cabin fever. She will run as fast as she can for 4 or 5 feet and then slam on the breaks, skidding into whatever wall or piece of furniture is in her way. Then she will attack her own tail, seem to realize after a few vicious chomps that it’s attatched to her ass and then nonchalantly bat at whatever dust maggot is in the vicinity as if to say “Don’t look at me, I’m just killing this dust maggot”…repeat 50 times a day. Our roommate recently moved out and the cat has taken to sitting in the middle of the empty room and yowling. Since it is entirely empty, it echoes as if she’s stuck down a well, very disconcerting.

But the other thing that happens in spring, is that I have to check on my seedlings every 15 minutes or so. “Yup, still there.” The first round of tomatoes are putting out true leaves and actually starting to look like tomatoes. Sometime soon I’m going to transplant them into their own little peat pots so that they can get nice big roots without having to compete with their neighbors. I keep thinking about putting them outside during the day, but March is a fickle month and whereas it was 70 degrees yesterday, today it is 40 and there is a threat of snow.

The other other thing that happens in Spring is that I start freaking out about The Pirate Party. That would be my 3rd annual 30th birthday party, the Buccaneer Bacchanal. That would be on May 20th. May 20th would be two months from next Monday! Argh! My costume will be fairly simple, and Manimal hates parties so he probably won’t go anyway, but Fink Rat takes this very seriously. She is our powder monkey, (the youngest member of the pirate crew who’s job it is to keep the gunners supplied with powder). Last year I fudged it by going the cut-off-jeans-and-striped-shirt route, but I don’t think she’s going to let me get away with that this year. The rotten thing about being me is that no matter how much I over plan for things I will still be running around at the last minute mumbling unintelligibly “where did I put the rum, has anyone seen my seam ripper, where’s Manimal with that plank.” Ah well.

Ragnar…procrastination is my pirate name.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Hey! I type fast, so sue me.

Jiggy is a woman possessed. When last we brewed we had discussed “getting together in a couple of weeks” to rack the porter and maybe throw together a quick IPA. I got a phone call Saturday morning at 11:00 that sounded something like this “Wannabrew? Huh? Wanna? It’s a beautiful day out, and everyone’s brewing, comeon comeone comeon, let’s brew! Youwanna? Huh? What? You’re still in your pajamas? Well how about in five minutes? Ten? Half an hour?” How can a pirate stand against a broadside like that? So we brewed. This is for Larakatya, who says I’m neglecting my duties by not providing the homebrew how to, so if you could all care less about the holy elixir then skip down to the knitting part of the blog.

Brew mania: So here’s the basics of brewing. You need something sugary and some yeast, that will give you alcohol as anyone who’s drunk the 2 month old orange juice that got pushed to the back of the fridge can tell you. For wine you want fruit, and for beer you want grain. Most beer is made with barley that has been sprouted (to convert the starch in the grain to sugar) and then dried, also known as malting. So you buy a big bag of malted barley and you run it through a mill to crack the outer husks of the grain, then you soak it in water for awhile (the mash) so that the sugar is extracted from the grain, and run more water over it (the sparge) so that all the possible sugar is rinsed out, because that’s what’s going to become your alcohol. The resulting liquid is called “wort.” You boil the wort for awhile (an hour or more) to kill any nasty wee buggies that might be living in it and then you cool it down as quickly as possible, run it into sterilized glass jugs (carboys) and throw some yeast in. You seal up the carboys in a way that allows the carbon dioxide that’s given off by the yeast to escape, but doesn’t allow any funkiness in. A week or so later you will have a thick layer of yeast that’s settled on the bottom of the carboy and the sugar will have been converted into alcohol…’cause that’s what yeast does you know, it eats sugar and excretes alcohol. Then you siphon off the beer and let it sit in another carboy for awhile (there’s a wee bit of sugar left in it, and the secondary fermentation will give it a chance to allow more of the yeast and other junk to settle out so that you’re beer is more tasty and attractive). Then you can either run it into a keg and pump carbon dioxide into it to carbonate it (the lazy way), or you can put it in bottles with a little extra sugar, and seal it up so that the carbon dioxide from the fermentation of the additional sugar can’t escape and gets forced into the liquid, thus naturally carbonating your beer. Voila! You’ve got beer.

And why would you want to waste your Saturdays doing this Ragnar? Well because it’s sorta fun, first of all. You can make good beer more cheaply than you can buy it, second of all. And because Jiggy made me do it, the woman is mad I tell you! Plus, hello, we’re making beer.

So this being our second run through on the equipment we cut our total time down by about 3 hours. Our mash temperature was perfect, the sparge went like a dream and although the wort was lighter in color than we were expecting the sugar content ended up being pretty high (potential alcohol content of 7%, not too shabby). We also racked (fancy brewing word for siphon) the porter so that we could reuse the yeast (thus eliminating the need to clean two carboys…cleaning carboys is my second least favorite thing about brewing, cleaning the boil kettle is the first). Last weekend’s Porter tastes surprisingly good considering the problems we had with temperature and the fact that the airlocks blew off leaving it open to the elements for awhile. Actually the porter tastes damn good, full bodied with a note of burnt chocolate and espresso.

So now there are 10 more gallons of beer bubbling merrily away in Jiggy’s basement. Overall I think this will be a good partnership (if she can restrain from calling me every freakin’ weekend, how much beer do you need woman?) since I can lift 50 pound sacks of grain, and she doesn’t seem to mind cleaning boil kettles.

We will now return you to the knitting protion of the blog.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m all bloggity and feel somewhat accountable to you bleaders, or if it’s the fact that Mercury is in retrograde (as implied by Yarnpirate a week or so ago), but for some reason I am a finishing Queen! (imagine me standing on my desk arms raised over my head, a completed knitting project in both hands)

As I was throwing things in my knitting satchel in a rush to get out the door and start brewing so that we wouldn’t be finishing up in the dark like we were last time, I looked at “pink and skull” and decided that it looked boring. So in a fit of passion, or rage or whatever I grabbed my drop spindle.

A tangent to explain the magnitude of this decision: a couple of years ago a spinning friend of mine got a line of some “free wool.” After an initial inspection the wool was proclaimed to be “worth picking tons of sheep shit out of.” I met up with this spinning friend in the parking lot of her apartment complex where she and some other crazy people…er…avid spinners, were skirting (see also: picking shit out of) 10 garbage bags full of shit incrusted fleece. And where does one begin? How does one decide which poo shall stay and which shall go into the dumpster? “Pick out as much straw as you can,” the spinning friend informed us, “the shit will wash out but the straw is almost impossible to remove.” Ah…well there’s at least as much straw as shit, but hey, whatever, this fleece is “free.”

After that much fun and excitement I could have gone on to wash and card it myself, but having spent one day up to my armpits in sheep doo, I figured I’d let the mill take care of it. So we sent our garbage bags off to the mill, where they washed and carded it and returned it to me as a big bag of roving (complete with some nearly impossible to remove bits of hay in it). Not having a spinning wheel at this point, I started out on a drop spindle, and since I tend to spin very finely I made it a three ply. I have been spinning this very sporadically over the last year and a half or so, stopping entirely when a spinning wheel entered my life, because, dude, I’m not going to spend hours fucking around with a drop spindle when I could spend…uhm…hours fucking around with a spinning wheel.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that I threw my spindle and the rest of this “free” wool into my satchel on my way out the door on Saturday morning…and by Saturday night I was plying. Yes! Plying, the last of the “free” fleece. That’s so very exciting. I will hopefully finish plying it tonight and then I will commence to wash, and attempt to estimate how much I actually ended up with. My hope is that I will have enough for some sort of cardigan like thing. There is also the question of dye, since right now it’s a nice creamy “unbleached” sort of color, which would remain nice and creamy for approximately 30 seconds after it became one of my garments. Black? Red? The choices are so overwhelming. Whatever this yarn ends up being, it better be flippin' phenominal because I've invested a signifigant protion of my life into the spinning of it.

My finishing binge continued on Sunday when I spent two hours that I should have been spending on quilting finising the “mega noodle” hat. I had hit a snag with this one last weekend when I started decreasing too soon. I tried to convince myself that it would be okay, for about 10 seconds, before I realized that with the immense weight of the foot long, multi colored dread locks it would fall right off the wearer’s head if it wasn’t at least two inches longer….which necessitated the ripping out of the entire crown of the hat, including several long dreadlocks. It was all very discouraging and I was quite grumpy about the whole thing. Nothing makes you question your decision to knit a ridiculous looking and unwearable hat like having to reknit half of it. But for better or worse, it’s done now.

And! I only have two more skull and crossbone repeats on pink and skull. Hurrah! Really must get over to Dready’s and borrow her digital camera in order to get some photographs posted. Perhaps if the cable guys manage to get her hooked up to the internet I will do a special weekend edition of Domestic Piracy, with pictures! Of course the cable guys were supposed to hook her up to the internet 3 weeks ago, so the holding of the breathe? I wouldn’t recommend it.

Ragnar…finishing Queen!!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Guess I'm not as cool as I thought I was

So I’ve had it in mind for awhile that I wanted to start a Zine, kind of a punk rock Better Homes and Gardens sort of thing. A little DIY (do it yourself, did you but know it), a little back to the land, a little industrial music…you know, the sort of thing that I would want to get in my mailbox twice a year (which is as often as I thought I’d get around to publishing it). This idea has gone the way of so many of my ideas, that is to say “wow I want to do that, it’s so exciting, let’s do a small amount of initial planning and then not do anything for three years.” It has been added to the heap of abandoned projects that I keep somewhere in the back of my head (Yammer the brain scientist (pictured to the left, I'm fitting the brewfest pictures in where I can) would be able to tell you exactly where…north of the cerebral cortex I think, but east of the amygdala). It is keeping good company with the anti-social greeting card company, the pirate romance novel, the vermiculture composting system, and many many more. The name of this opus was going to be…you guessed it “Domestic Piracy” so you see, I haven’t totally abandoned the idea.

In fact I was thinking of reviving it here, in some form, limited by my lack of techno-skills and equipment (it is sort of a pain in the ass to have to go and use other peoples cameras/scanners etc). It was with this in mind that I was poking around the internet yesterday to see what other DIYers were doing. There are a good number of blogs, and of course “Readymade” which suffers from the too-cool-fur-you syndrome (referencing rock stars that you’ve never heard of by their first names etc.). Most of their projects are sort of sholockety, and yes I know I suffer from the perfection gene, but if you’re going to bother making something, make it well. In the crafty vein there are wonderful things to be had, Knitty (of course), Magknits (which published a hat strikingly similar to one of my own design, but I’m over it, I should have gotten my ass in gear and published it much sooner), and (heart of my heart) Anticraft. All of these things I knew about. What I didn’t know about and what hit me like a brick in the forehead is the amazingly cool shit that’s being done with electronics.

Check this out! Bike wheels with animated lightshows! Graffiti that lights up! Shoes that spell things as you walk! An MP3 player that fits in an altoids box. Why didn’t anyone ever tell me to pay attention in science class? Who the hell let me take 3 periods of independent study painting when I could have been learning how to make these?

I think my favorite website so far is this one. This woman is amazing, and so a girl after my own heart. She wrote her MIT thesis on “social defense mechanisms,” in other words, devices that keep other people’s technology out of your personal space, personified by the wave bubble (scroll down the page a bit), which is a low powered cell phone jammer. Basically it turns the space around the wearer in to a “dead zone.” What a completely brilliant idea! How have I lived without one of these for so long? It just might replace TV-b-Gone as my new favoritest thing ever.

So this has all left me feeling less like the heir to Martha Stewart, and more like the hostess of one of those late night “Crafting with Ms. Thang” shows that HGTV uses to round out their programming in between reruns of “Trading Spaces.” I was going to write up my bread recipe, which I’m fairly proud of because the only thing you actually measure is 6 cups of water and it uses exactly one 5 pound bag of flour….but all I really want to do is go out and buy a soldering iron. I want to adapt the LED bicycle lightshow to my spinning wheel…wouldn’t that cause a stir at the guild meetings.

Further proving that I am but a mortal and that while I think I’m hot shit the rest of the world is less than impressed with my talents, Rat Girl received “we might be pirates,” this morning. It had been lying on the dining table and Manimal gave it to her as she was getting ready for school today. She came into the kitchen where I was washing dishes to show it to me and asked, “Did my Papa make this hat?” I guess because he handed it to her she thought he was the one that had made it. Manimal has made exactly 4 hats in his lifetime, all of which are pretty cool in a “learning to knit/crochet” kind of way. I wore mine all the time until I had to switch to something warmer mid-winter, and Rat Girl’s has little I-cord devil horns sticking out of it. Again let me reiterate, very cool hats. However, this is fair isle were talking about! This is two color knitting damn it! This is not the work of a Manimal! Ah well, she is 8. I guess all knitted head gear looks alike when you’re 8.

Hey at least I'm still a beer bitch, here's another brewfest picture. FYI that is not that Manimal passed out on my lap, that is some scientist friend of Yammer's what I barely know.

And incidentally I think Beverly is right about the flax. I’m going to finish off this bobbin (the old clockwise direction, although now with less fuzz thanks to the water bath) and then spin a small sample counter clockwise and see what happens.

Ragnar...who is still hot shit damn it, I am!

Be back on Monday

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Confounded and Confusticated

First of all let’s find out if blogger is still suffering from that little personality defect that showed up yesterday…more brewfest pictures anyone?

Yes, that is exactly what it appears to be, a man with taps for arms and a pretzle bowl for a head. Nothing says "microbrewed beer" like drinking out of an armpit. And here's Jiggy, I'm not sure if she's holding up the tent pole, or if the tent pole is holding her...perhaps both, but look at that smile!

And apparently blooger is still being a booger, because the other ones won't upload properly.

So, I was doing a little fiber surfing yesterday, (because I have so much crap to do that it seems insurmountable and I do stupid things like waste time looking at fiber on line that I have no intention of buying, nay, tell the truth Ragnar, no money with which to purchase) and I came upon an “easy to spin” flax that “requires no wetting.” Huh? Wetting? No one ever said anything to me about wetting. What does the confused spinner do when she needs to know? Google of course, and this is what Google taught me: apparently linen, being a plant fiber, has cellulose, which is naturally sticky when it’s wet. Also, because of how flax grows or some shite, it naturally tends to twist to the left…yeah, that’s right, counter-clockwise. Who knew this? Why did no one tell me? (fun fact for the next time you need to trot out some fiber related trivia, linen used to be spun in cellars because of the damp…fun job huh?)

So I tried spinning a little linen last night (still in a clockwise direction because I’m most of the way through this bobbin, and I’m not entirely committed to this fancy shmancy counter clockwise spinning) with a cup of water that I periodically dipped my fingers in, and the yarn did seem to be turning out smoother, but who can tell really? So now I have a conundrum. I started with two pounds of linen, and one of them is almost entirely spun up into sort of fuzzy, much thicker than my usual, but all in all fine seeming linen rope. So. Now that I know about this crazy counter-clockwise and damp method of spinning linen, do I proceed along my merry way and fuck up the second pound as well so that I have two pounds of linen rope with are essentially the same, or do I follow the advice of that preeminent spinning authority Google, and try it counter clockwise and with sticky fingers? What’s a girl to do? Also consider that I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do with all this linen rope once I’m done with it. My initial thought was that I would weave something out of it, but my only loom is a little tabletop jobbie which could probably make a strip about 4 inches wide…maybe, and I was thinking more like “shirt.” When one is weaving is it especially strange to have say your warp thread be rather thicker and fuzzier than your weft thread? What’s a pirate to do?

Ragnar…who is sort of wishing that she didn’t just assume that she knows what she’s doing all the time.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A little bit of this and that

Blogger is being a booger and so I'm giving up on posting a whole mess of pictures all at once...instead you'll get them one at a time, and you'll like it Goddamn it. So this is a "crowd scene" from inside the tent at the Brew Fest. Look at all those happy drinkers. Notice the attractive "no smoking" sign in the center, and Dixie and his UP girlfriend (that's upper penninsula you Trolls) making out in the lower left corner....ain't they cuuuUUUuutte.

I had a nice little post written about beermaking on Saturday, but reading back over it it seemed like too much of a “and this is how you make beer!” public access channel sort of thing. If you want to know how to make beer, email me and I’ll write you a step by step description, but it seems like that’s not interesting enough to bother with here. Instead I’ll just say that Jiggy and I spent a long day grinding grain, and pulling big pots of water on and off of flaming burners that were hot enough to melt the snow and turn her backyard into a mud pit. The highlights:

The amazing self heating mash that continued to heat up after we’d taken it off the boil.

The sparge that went so smoothly that we could have been fuckin’ Martha Stewart doing a “see, isn’t this easy” demo.

The hose becoming disconnected from the wort chiller and spraying ice cold water all over Jiggy and her backyard.

And the fact that Ragnar cooked the yeast (although I still say that yeast was bunk to begin with, bunk I say!) by adding wort that was too hot. (pansy ass yeast anyway, can’t take the heat then get out of the fire I say)

The really interesting part of the story comes a couple of days later when Jiggy added fresh yeast and the ferment took off like a rocket…literally, the airlocks blew off and sprayed her dining room with partially fermented porter, but I’ll let her tell that story, because I wasn’t there.

Beer and knitting as I think I’ve mentioned before don’t go that well together (but not for lack of practice I’m gonna master drunken knitting if it kills me, or rather my liver). Kitting and home brewing however go great together since there are long periods of time while brewing that you have nothing to do…except knit! So while the wort that will be porter was bubbling merrily away I finished (finished!) “we call them pirates” and got a good start on the “pink and skull” scarf.

Speaking of “we call them pirates” which turned out to be just the right size to fit an 8 year old, and “pink and skull” which was always intended for an 8 year old, the fink is back in the fold! By which I mean of course that Rat Girl is back from her mother’s house. The first thing she started babbling about when she got in the door was her gecko “v-head." This girl is going to turn out to be some sort of scientist or mathematician or something. She has got the most literal mind of anyone I’ve ever met. “this gecko has a v on his head, we shall name him….v-head!” I can imagine her staring through a telescope discovering galaxies and saying to herself “Here is a galaxy shaped like a fork…let it be known as the fork galaxy.”

Here’s a Rat Girl pirate joke: Why was the pirate in a canoe? Because his ship sank. Muhhahhahaha.

Anyway, some genius at her school decided that since March is reading month that they are going to have a contest, and that the people who read the most in class will get a prize. Competition has always been a primary motivating factor for my little pirate lass, and so she’s been logging as much reading as possible…five minutes between morning teeth brushing and when we have to leave for school, five minutes in the car on the way to dinner. When I tucked her in last night she was fast asleep on top of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with her camping head lamp on. Yeah. I love reading month.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Shortest entry in my brief history of bloggity

Boss dropped bombshell last week, “I’ll be leaving next Thursday, and I’ll be gone for a week, do you think you can run orders early next week? Oh and can you work on the Friday after that?” No. The Friday after that is St. Patrick’s day, which is the closest I come to having a religious holiday…when I start my own religion communion will be a shot of Irish Whiskey.

Anyway, suddenly I have to do everything two days ahead of schedule…am I pleased? Am I excited? Am I sort of pissed? Yeah, that last one, but that’s what you get when you work for Anita the Hut. (Seriously, she looks just like's terrifying)

Weekend was very productive, although not in the quilting, or working on the house sense, that would be too much to ask. Theoretically, if I bust major ass today, I will have time to blog about it tomorrow. Judging by lack of response to the last post, y’all aren’t interested in my anti-social tendencies, so what do you want to hear about?

Adventures in homebrewing outside in Michigan when it’s 35 degrees outside.
Fair warning, this will include technical vocabulary such as “sparge” “mash” “whathefuck” and “shitfuckdamn” but I will endeavor to provide definitions, and a lot of color commentary so that it’s interesting to non-brewers.

Adventures in finishing, knitting projects that is.
Fair warning, this will include an agonizing description of Ragnar thinking that she is done with a hat and realizing that she has to pull out everything from the first decrease row…very emotional stuff.

Or pictures of me and my drunk ass friends at the winter beer festival? Yeah, I know this is sort of out of date, but I just got the photos last week.

I hope that the virus that’s been sweeping it’s way through blog land has finally been put down, and that everyone is feeling better. My own ailments have receeded to a scratchy throat and a sexy phone voice. In case there’s anyone out there that still needs medication, the following is a recipe for a cure-all, that’s guaranteed to make you forget about how bad you feel.

Fill a coffee cup ¾’s of the way full of hot water.
Add three tablespoons of honey (do not substitute any other sweeteners, honey has natural antibiotic properties…those clever clever bees)
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of rum, vodka, whiskey or tequila (not all four you dirty drunk)
Repeat until symptoms become less noticeable.

And if you’re under 21 (Atla) you can leave out the alcohol and it still makes you feel better, just not that much better.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Anti-social tendencies

Why is it that I can’t get over my irritation with these damn tea bags? I mean, normal people don’t obsess over these details do they? I don’t actually know any normal people so I’m going on a hunch here, but probably they would either a). not notice it at all, or b). think, oh that’s stupid, and get on with their lives. Not me. I think “inspiring others towards happiness brings you happiness,” who do these Yogi’s think they are kidding anyway. What exactly is “inspiring others towards happiness” and why would it make me happy to inspire other people? Theoretically, unless someone walks up to you and says “gee you’re really inspiring,” then you wouldn’t even know that you were having any sort of effect on them at all. Right? Grr…

So then I think, “If I was in charge of picking the phrases that got printed on tea bag tags, I would pick things that were a lot cooler,” forgetting that that’s not really a job, and no one in their right mind would finger me to come up with aphorisms to put on tea bag tags. I had this same reaction when the store where I work added a scrap booking department. For weeks I did nothing but sit and my desk entering descriptions for paper, fancy little buttons shaped like diaper pins, and glittery frames with the words “Daddy’s girl” printed on them in faux little kid writing. This sort of thing makes pirates very queasy. In fact it makes them think up things like “anti-scrap booking” where instead of taking all those happy family moments like “Christmas 2003” and cropping out the left half of the picture that shows Uncle Jimmy passed out in the punch bowl, you leave it whole and put a caption on it like “Uncle Jimmy wrecks Christmas for everyone…again.” If it really takes off then some of the shiny happy family scrap booking companies will jump on the bandwagon and suddenly there will be fancy little metal embellishment tags that read “I thought you were my friend,” “too bad he turned out to be a psycho” and “you knew I was an alcoholic when you married me.”

Thinking back I realize I’ve had these anti-social tendencies for awhile. There was that time in college where I tried to start the “hell-mark” greeting card company. The formula was fairly simple, the outside of the card had a generic greeting card sentiment on it like “thinking of you,” and then they inside had something really nasty like “sitting alone in your apartment watching porno while I’m out having fun with my new boyfriend.” “Get better soon…because then they’ll let you out of the hospital and I can finish kicking your ass.” You get the idea. My mind is like a steel sieve though, and I got bored with the idea, so it never happened.

Anyway. The great thing about the internet is that I’ve discovered that I am not alone!

Here are some highlights from my collection of anti-social links.

Despair Inc. These geniuses have taken the inspirational posters that are so often seen hanging in banks, hotels, and worse yet offices and turned them to the dark side.

Cyranet Greeting Cards: Not as cool as mine, but you know, they try. (Sorry, that was my ego taking over, really these are pretty hilarious)

Meish: For those of you who hate Valentine’s Day as much as I.

Baby Wit: A baby clothes company that sells baby clothes I might conceivable dress my child in. (My favorite shirt: Mommy drinks because I cry)

Okay…that’s all I have time for today, but I encourage you all to post your own anti-social websites. As soon as I can figure out how to create a “links” section in my side bar I will make this a permanent feature.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Product placement day!

I woke up early because I couldn’t sleep because I have a fucking head cold, and then I had to wait around for an hour and a half before I could go to The Better Health store and buy some cold season feel better stuff. The Better Health Store was open, but you couldn’t buy anything because we are having an ice storm, and their computers were down. So I drove across town to Foods For Living in order to buy my cold season supplies. All I wanted was a box of Celestial Seasoning’s Throat Soothers Tea, but I guess that’s too mainstream for Foods For Living, because they didn’t have it. So instead I had to buy Yogi Honey Lemon Throat Comfort Tea, which I’m sure is going to taste like ass because all Yogi brand tea tastes like ass…I think you’re suppose to meditate on the suffering of the human condition when you drink it or something.

Actually…I just made my first cup, I’ll tell you exactly how it tastes. Hmmm…fore notes of last season’s dead leaves rotting on the forest floor, with a musty lemon left too long in the refridgerator overtone, and that mucilaginous slippery elm aftertaste. Yum yum, a big hot cup of compost.

Also, my least favorite thing about Yogi tea, which I forgot about until just this second (my least favorite thing after the fact that they all taste like ass and come packaged in individual little wrappers with strings on them…excess packaging…so not a Yogi thing to do) is that they have little phrases on the tabs on the end of the string (you know the “dunking up and down, something to fiddle with while you wait for you tea to be tea” tabs). I’m not sure if these are supposed to be like fortune cookie things, or like a phrase to meditate on instead of dunking your tea bag up and down, or an aphorism or what. The one in my cup right now says “Keep up” and it has a period after it, like it’s a sentence. Keep up what? Keep it up? Argh. I should have just not bought any tea, and suffered my sore throat in silence….except that suffering in silence is not some thing Ragnar does.

I also purchased a box of Emer’gen-C, Tangerine , and three 1.5 liter bottles of Smart Water (because nothing says “globally conscious” like water that’s been distilled and then had minerals added back into it, what do I expect it is a Coca-Cola subsidary, sorry no link for CC, they can do their own product placement). I was also going to buy a chocolate bar, because health food stores always have the best chocolate bars, but then I told myself that I was sick and that sick people don’t eat chocolate.

Then I went to Rite-Aid (same for RA, you can do your own product placement) and bought some Advil Cold and Sinus, because let’s face it, ever since they made Mau Hung illegal, none of that herbal shit will do a thing for you…except maybe help you to meditate on the suffering of the human condition.

Okay! That’s all for product placement day.

Hey! Guess what I’m wearing? I hesitate to mention it because I don’t have any way of getting a photo of it up at the moment, since Dready is leaving for France in a few days and taking her digital camera with her (damn her!). But you’ve already guessed what it is anyway, so I might as well tell you. Yes! Skull shrug! I spent most of my day off knitting around and around and around and (miracle!) had just enough yarn to complete what I have been calling the “collar” but what I should probably call “the body band” it goes behind the neck, over the shoulder, under the arms and around the back…and is 300+ stitches around. Talk about a boring thing to knit (2, purl 2), but it’s done! Yay! And I’m actually quite happy with it, despite the fact that at one point yesterday Manimal asked me, “Where did you get this pattern?” and I answered “I’m making it up as I go along,” to which he answered “hmm” by which he meant “I thought so.”

Also, I am SOOO over bamboo yarn. Seems like a good idea at the time, but actually not that great.

Now I’m having the reaction that I have every time I finish a large and longstanding project. “Oh no! I need a new big project!” Which is of course, ridiculous, because I could spend 3 months finishing all of my little projects…but what if I got a really long stretch of time (this will never happen) and I finished all the projects that I brought with me (again, fantasy) and I was somewhere that I couldn’t spin (hello? Drop spindle, remember me?) and I didn’t have enough yarn to start on anything new (ha ha). What would I knit then? I might go crazy staring at the wall with nothing to do!

Several years ago I decided that the perfect number of projects to have started at any given time was 3. One big complicated project like a cabled sweater or lace shawl to work on at home, or on long trips or anywhere that it’s not inconvenient to bring a huge wad of unfinished knitting with you. One little project that will fit in a backpack, like a sock or a hat, that you can bring with you when you have to go and stand out in the rain and watch rat girl play soccer, or when you get dragged a long on an endless trip to Home Despot. And one project to work on when you get too drunk to work on the other two projects and you might fuck one of them up. So here’s me making a solemn oath (a solid oaf?) that I will not start a new knitting project until I get back down to my three project minimum…the holy trinity as it were. Okay and here’s me slightly modifying that promise by saying that it does not include projects that are too fucked up to work on, like brother-in-law’s gloves, or projects that never should have been started in the first place like pink handspun merino bikinis…’cause those are like “non” projects, right? Right.

Outstanding at the mo’ and by outstanding I mean yarn purchased with a purpose in mind.

“we call them pirates” hat
Status: Almost finished, just have to decide what I’m going to do about the lining. This will be the "in the bag project"

“rat girl pink and skull” scarf
Status: Was waiting for co-worker to loan me yarn bobbins for intarsia skulls, but realized after doing “we call them pirates” that those skulls are too small to bother with intarsia anyway, and I should just get off my ass and do it. This is the next up "in the bag project" or designated bagger as it were.

“mega noodle” hat
A hat with many multi-colored I-cord dreadlocks made up of all the odd little bits of yarn that I have spun over the last few years and have no idea what to do with.
Status: Approximately half way done…problem being that it is too cumbersome to take anywhere since it involves about 50 small balls of yarn, I guess this one just got nominated to be my “at home” project.

“Ragnar’s killer cable” socks
Socks to rival the one’s I made for Manimal two Halloween’s ago. Why should I put that much work into Manimal socks and not have any for me? Uhm…because Manimal takes way better care of his clothes that you do Ragnar…oh yeah.
Status: Decided I didn’t like the yarn I chose for the stripe color about 6 inches into one cuff (these are going to be knee highs with a fold over cuff) and then I wanted the needles for something else so I pulled them out and the cuff is sitting in my yarn basket looking very sad and forelorn.

Felted bag
I have the yarn and I have…some ideas, but I don’t actually have a clue.

Flip flop socks
I just need more of these, I only made one pair and they are always dirty, because it’s February in Michigan and we are having an ice storm…you know, flip flop weather. I think I’m going to repurpose the yarn that would have been the stripe in “Ragnar’s Killer Cable Socks” and make at least one pair maybe two. It is sort of…white though, which means they will look really awful after about 15 minutes. Perhaps a dye-bath is in order. I think the Flip Flop Sock will be the designated drunkend knitting project, because other than the heel and the toe it is essentially endless rounds of stockinette.

Okay…that’s actually not that bad. As long as we don’t talk about the “dead” projects it almost seems manageable. And spinning projects, let’s not talk about those either…or the fact that we are trying to get the house finished, or the fact that my quilting machine has developed a personality problem.

Or the fact that I’m sick as a dog and drinking compost flavored tea.

Ragnar…sick in the head.

PS (in a "does my ass look big in this dress, tell the truth" tone of voice) Do you think my posts are to long? You'd tell me if I was getting boring right?