Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Just a Quick Question

Why is it so much more entertaining to put on deodorant if you're a man?



I think it's high time someone developed a sense of humor for the women's deodorants too.  Or maybe I should just start shopping in the men's aisle.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In which we return, only to leave again

Due to overwhelming demand, by which I mean that a full 30% (i.e., three) of my known readers have let me know it's very definitely time for me to get off my lazy bootocks and put up a stinkin' post, I am back.

And now I'm leaving to go to Washington to march with all the people on January 21.

For the record, I do not like crowds.  In addition to the physical discomfort of being surrounded by soooo many bodies, I worry that such large groups are perpetually on the verge of becoming panicky and unpredictable stampedes and I resent that a crowd wants to draw us in and mess with our emotions.  I am definitely that awkward person at the fringe who doesn't really want to be a full participant in whatever is going on.  Also, I'm short, and I usually can't see over all those people very well.  Boo hiss.

That being said, we're going.  In the wake of the election results, my 16 year old daughter heard about this march and said she wanted to go.  Enough said.

Were you worried that I wouldn't be able to tie this topic to a knitting project? Fear not.  I am knitting hats.  But NOT the ubiquitous Pussy Hat.  Again, I'm wary of the crowd thing, and with everyone and  their sister knitting the P-hats, I just can't do it.  I know that the idea is to show solidarity, but we're doing that by showing up and marching, and I would feel like a lemming knitting the same P-hat as everyone else. Not to mention the idea of tracking down (and working in) pink bulky weight yarn -- spare my knitterly pride!! And what happens to the hats after the march? I doubt I would ever wear that hat again, and the inherent contradiction of a single-use, disposable hand knit item gives me a fit.

Enter the Resist Hat:


The designer says this about the hat (in three separate typefaces!):

Resist racism, resist xenophobia, resist sexism, resist hate of all kinds. Wear this hat to proclaim that we are the resistance! 
The diagonal motif is based on the American symbol for a resistor in electronics. 
“What country can preserve its liberties if it’s rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance”. --Thomas Jefferson
It's got science, socially responsible messaging, and a quote.  Plus, it's mildly subversive. What's not to like? The second hat, in which the colors are reversed, is in its final stages. 


There will be more about our impending expedition soon, but  after a 14 month hiatus from this blogging thing, this shorty post is about all I can handle. And, if I don't feed the inmates soon, there will be a riot here that will put the march on Washington to shame. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

That Time of the Year


Out in the yard . . .

Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?

It's . . .



Yes, that's a picture of the cover flying off the pool and flapping around in the wind.  Again.

It's one of the many reasons that I am so over this whole December thing, even if we are barely half-way through.  December is an endless cycle of concerts and games and practices and work deadlines (why did I agree to an accelerated deadline?  WHY????) and I spend most of the month driving and driving and driving and getting nothing done.  It's the kind of month that makes you breath a sigh of relief when one of your kids gets sick because you can finally cross something off your schedule.

I decided yesterday (as I do every year) that I don't like it very much. It makes me kind of cranky.

One of December's casualties is my knitting.  The assault of extracurricular obligations leaves me with no energy, no focus, and scattered snippets of time for projects, although I have become even more expert at packing a few rows into those snippets.  (Did you know that if you sit really close to the stage at the middle school band/chorus concert, you can see well enough in the glow of the stage lights to knit through the whole performance? You just have to look up now and then and watch the kids on stage with great attentiveness so that the people around you don't think you're failing in your parental obligations.) The result all this running around is that I have been atypically monogamous  and abnormally attached to the little stuff.  Recently I've knit 5 pair of fingerless mitts (one of those was really a pair of "tipless gloves," but let's not quibble) and lined two pair of mittens. The fact that I have resorted to lining my mittens speaks volumes about my current knitting mentality. The mittens originally were knit in the winter of 2014 but I chucked them back in the to-do pile because the prospect of lining them was unbearably dull in comparison to all the shawls and sweaters and other shiny new things I could be working on.


There are bright spots in the month. One of them was watching this goofball don his new suit and hammer away at a bass drum that is bigger than he is.


He is a full body drummer-- head bobbing, shoulders wiggling-- but he managed to give us the full dance and drum show without ever taking his eyes off the conductor. He thought the beginning band concert was about the best time a guy could have, and he's already looking forward to the next concert, although that's not until May, a month that for me operates an awful lot like December, but with sunshine and flowers to help out.

Monday, November 16, 2015

That's All She Wove . . .

Count down with me, if you will:








Well-- not really done.  I have well over 100 knots to tie, a wet-finishing bath to administer, and some sewing to do, but those are tasks for another day, and I now have four of them to work with. That's all for tonight, group.

Counting Down

So you can guess that I'm either very forgetful or very busy weaving. Or a little of both, I suppose. 

When we left off, I was on a quest to finish the tallit with plenty of time for tying knots and sewing things on it, etc. etc. That goal has been amended, and now I'm on a quest to finish at some point before Saturday.

Progress has been made, though.  As of November 7, the loom looked like this:


Two days later, it looked like this:


(we won't mention what my work pile looked like after I took better than half a work day to make the loom look like this).

Next we had the first pattern section in progress:


and now we are mired in the Eternal Sea of Plain Weave.


It is nearly impossible at this point to see how much is done and how much is left.  If you take a peek underneath the loom, you can see the woven cloth rolled onto the cloth beam.  You can also see that the beam prevents me from taking a ruler and measuring how much white I've got.


There are ways around this.  My chosen method is the String of a Certain Length, which is the grey line you can see in the last two pictures.  One end is anchored (temporarily) in the weaving at the beginning of the white and when I get to the far end of the string, I know I can stop weaving the plain stuff.  I have measured and remeasured this string and written notes to remind myself how much ES of PW I have to endure and which knot on the string (there is only one, what makes me think I'll get it wrong??) represents the point at which I quit weaving white and start weaving patterns. None of this  stops me from panicking that I have mis-measured or botched the math or that someone has mysteriously shortened my string and that I will weave a tallit that will be so short that it will look like a pocket handkerchief instead of a prayer shawl.  This is the part of the project in which I have to have faith that I'm not a total screw-up.  I can't measure and double check; I have to just believe that I'm doing this right.

It's driving me crazy.

It makes sense, though, that a prayer shawl should require a little faith. Right?

It's still driving me crazy.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Follow Up

See how quickly I came back?  It hasn't even been two weeks, and here I am again to thrill you with my tales of derring-do.

First up is an epic battle between a wanna-be-weaver and her loom.

It all started with the idea of making my son a tallit for his bar mitzvah. I've made three of these things already, so it is not exactly the craziest idea I've ever come up with (although with two weeks left to go and no tallit on the loom, I might be forced to amend that position).

I decided to go with a fine wool


and a long color change knitting yarn


and a new-to-me structure called overshot, in which you basically weave a background cloth and a design at the same time.

Because both the materials and the structure were new to me, I did something wild and crazy:  I wove a sampler first.  Actually, I wove two samplers.  The first was dedicated to learning the basics of overshot so that I wouldn't eff the tallit up and the second was dedicated to testing the intended materials and colors so that I still wouldn't eff the tallit up.

Really, there is nothing crazy about this.  It is a completely rational way to design something and I learned all sorts of useful stuff.  What's crazy about weaving two samplers before weaving the tallit is that I am the world's most procrastinating-est wanna-be-weaver, and even though I started the first sampler in way back in the spring, I have still managed to get myself within two weeks of the absolute--drop dead--no possibility of an extension last date on which the tallit must be done and there is no tallit on my loom.

I told you it was getting exciting around here.

Here is what  learned from the sampler.

1. I like the general design.  Here you see it in white, but on the tallit it will be blue and red.


2. Did I mention white?  Not surprisingly, given the original cone of fine merino wool, the sample background fabric was VERY WHITE.  Blindingly so, in a way that made me fear for the safety of the congregation on the big day.

3. And so we sampled some more.  I pulled out some yarn left from the first tallit I made and tried again.


4. This was the Goldilocks part of the sampler.  The middle stripe is TOO WHITE.  The bottom section is too grey (I really didn't like what the silver thread did to the red and blue design).  But the top section is just right.  It has a slight warm glow, it plays nicely with the red and blue yarns, and, as an added bonus, because it is a tencel yarn, it adds a little bit of drape to the fabric.  All good.


5. Or was it?  Tencel is a plant-derived fiber and here I was mixing it with wool.  There is a point of Jewish law, which comes up NEVER in a Reformed congregation like mine, that forbids the mixing of linen and wool in a garment, and I didn't know whether that law meant, by extrapolation, that it would be unkosher to mix wool with other plant-based fibers.  I have gone most of my life without any concern for this issue, but it seemed like a major cheat to make my kid a religious garment that violated religious law, and, for the first time in my life, I had to go get an opinion from the Rabbi to make sure I was not on the verge of making my son a Bacon Tallit.   Not to worry, said the Rabbi.  This is a requirement that comes with no explanation or reason (there are a bunch of Jewish laws that are like that) and, although I might be able to find a different opinion if I searched long enough, according to his research the provision was limited in application to the blending of linen and wool.

Good enough for me.

And now we're back to my usual set of problems:  so much work to do, so little time.  Here is what my loom looks like (so, so empty looking!!! I think I'm starting to panic) and you can imagine the task in front of me as I thread 558 bits of string through all that metal and begin speed-weaving.


The good news is that, like painting a room, all the actual labor is in the preparation.  Once that is done, the weaving can go very quickly, assuming I actually work on it.  So, into the fray I go!

Monday, October 26, 2015


All blog-derived evidence to the contrary, I have not fled the country, been abducted by aliens, or otherwise been forced to stop posting.  I just keep forgetting.  And, to be truthful, topics were easy to come by when I had little kids at home doing weird things.  Now during the day it's just me and the animals and all this yarn. We don't do much and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.  Still, there might be something interesting to say about the smaller details, so I'm offering up these pictures as a downpayment on some future posts.  Best case scenario:  you'll find something interesting here this week.  Worst case: I've developed a cure for insomnia.





See you soon.  Ish.

Friday, May 15, 2015

On the Careful Use of Language

Although my kids might disagree, I try not to spend too much time being a pain-in-the-butt grammar hawk.  Every once in a while, though, the internet offers up a magnificent blooper and I am unable to keep my trap shut.  Check out the following gem:

The origins of the photo are thus: in the middle of teaching his organizational behavior class, a student who could not find a babysitter’s kid began to cry. 

As I read it, this sentence asserts that a student could not find the babysitter's kid, which caused the student to cry during a class.  Due to the goofy placement and use of "his,"  it would appear that the student was a man and was, paradoxically, also teaching the class. 

The situation described is entertainingly absurd, but does not at all reflect what the writer meant to say.  If you read the full article (and you may have, as the photo that prompted the story went viral), it turns out that a young woman couldn't find a babysitter for her child and had to bring her infant to class.  The baby began to cry during the class and the professor picked the baby up to sooth him (or her--I'm a little fuzzy on the details) and continued to teach the class while holding the baby. Props to the teacher, but I think the writer needs a better editor.

On a completely different topic, I have no idea where I left off in my knitting saga and I don't have any good project photos to post anyway, so instead I present Rupert, the pet rock my daughter had to make for her science class.*  I am particularly fond of his smile.  And his hair.  And his eyes. He reminds me very much of my daughter. 


*No, I don't know why we are still making pet rocks in high school, but I also don't understand why the kids take written tests in PE (we used to call it by the hopelessly antiquated name "gym").  I guess my kids are right when they say I just don't understand anything about their lives.