Thursday, November 30, 2006

Garbage --> Shabby Chic

On the to-do list, check off the following:
bedroom doors

I've been wanting to turn those doors into a headboard since the day Brant picked them out of the garbage. We're quite the pair, aren't we? Our desk, headboard, bed-side table, picture frames, some lamps and plant stands, and various pieces of art were "rescued" from the curb. I was an eagle eye before, but now that I have access to Brant's truck the possibilites have increased. This is the real shabby chic, not this bullshit.

Living room floor is done, too, just have to move back in. All that is left is to finish drywalling and paint. And curtains for the bedroom. And clean. I have two entire weeks between now and doomsday. Cake.

Funny thing about the dog in that picture: see how she looks all cute and precious? This is because she is in agony, having wolfed down (I'm not joking) 10 pounds of dog food. Takes a few days to recover. You'd think she'd learn. You'd think I'd learn.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I'd like to know...

How do you get grease on the ceiling?
How do you neglect to wipe down a shelf once in 20 years?
How do you not notice puddles of ??? before they harden into an irremovable lump?
Why would you seam drywall with masking tape?
Why would you use paneling as ceiling board?
Why would you create a pantry along the outside of the house and not bother to do anything more than remove the siding?

These questions and many more entertained me as I scrubbed, painted, swept, scrubbed, and cursed my way through the junk room reno. I didn't want to do too much to it, as the room may one day become a half-bath or a more proper storage room, but using cardboard as shelf-liner and trying daintily to avoid brushing against the shelves when goinging in and out isn't a long-term strategy. So no point putting up drywall or new shelves - not yet. Just soap and paint.

This is the before:
junk-rm_before 1
can you see the yellow grease marks on every surface???
note the ripped wall on the right - this is where the house siding was before it became an enclosed storage area/pantry. nice construction work, eh? very thorough.

And this is the after:

junk rm - after 2
no grease marks!
junk rm - after 1

And in other areas of wonder -
How is it possible that my grape vines look like this:

And the roses look like this:

And finally - why, after all of this, am I surprised when I rip up the carpet in the living room and learn that the wood floor has been painted around the perimeter instead of the whole thing?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Car knitting

In honor of the most automobile-traveled holiday in this country, here is a post about my latest car knitting project. I finished it right before the recent heat wave, so haven't had much cause to wear it (though I've no doubt there will be ample reason soon enough). I made it with yarn purchased from a lovely woman at the New Jersey Fiber Festival whose name I've lost. Yes, I knit in the car. It sits on the seat beside me and I work on it during long delays, red lights, and other inconveniences of traveling in the solitary selfishness of my private metal box. I propose that more people take up car knitting - I find that I'm much more peaceful each time someone cuts me off or rides my bumper, probably because during the slow bits I'm not sitting there gripping the wheel and cursing. Instead, stitch by stitch, I make progress on some simple project.

Thanks to Cathy for cajoling me into abandoning the lovely but tightly-knit moss stitch for a more open pattern. She was right - this does show off the fun loopy strands in the yarn (the fiber artist who spun this tried to explain to me that it was actually easier to spin the yarn in a way that created these loops - I didn't understand). Just for clarity - the wide spaces in the yarn are my doing; the white looopy-doos are the product of good shopping.


Bulky Handspun Scarf
Yarn: Bulky weight handspun, ~80 yards
Needle size: Size 17 US
Guage: seriously?
Pattern: garter stitch with extra loops, as follows:
CO 10-15 stitches
Rows 1-3: Knit
Row 4: Knit, but loop yarn twice around needle (instead of the normal once)
Row 5: Knit, dropping the looped yarn (be sure you end up with the same # of stitches)
Repeat until desired length, stretching the looped rows gently for full drape.
End with Row 3, then BO.


Anyone have any ideas for ~30 yards of bulky crazy yarn?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Works in progress

The cordless world and I are going to get along really, really well. I’m forever losing the phone charger, the camera charger, the cord to upload photos from the camera to the computer. When cords are no longer an issue, it’s going to be lovely.

But for now I’m picture-less. Several wonderful photos waiting to be uploaded, but wait they shall. I have finished objects to show you, and finished house projects, not to mention the works in progress.

I’ve been thinking of having an anniversary party to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of my 21st birthday. As such, home improvement (which had a great kick start from Abbott’s grumblings) is again on a time-table. Between now and Dec 15th I need to:
* Finish finishing the living room floor (I promise, the photos of this are worth checking back in for, if only for their odd historical value). Finishing means removing the rest of the paint, sanding, staining, and then moving all of the furniture back into place. (This may be a bit ambitious)
* Finish the drywall in the archway. This entails actually nailing up the two 6” by 18” sections that are sitting on the floor, spackling, and sanding.
* Paint the hallway and archway.

It can be done. It really can.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Spurred into action

We had a visitor at The Hovel this weekend:
abbott visiting

Some local residents were non-plussed by the addition to the crew, sq sleeping
but others could not be reached for comment.

Our dear visitor was unimpressed with the home improvement accomplishments since his last visit, so the crew was stirred into action. Going back to basics, we decided to attack a project that would have the biggest bang for the buck, a project of degrossification. This:
Is the storage room after two hours of scrub-brush, sponge, and toxic cleaners. I'm learning the meaning of white-wash. There is some dirt that just can't be removed, so I'll seal it beneath a thick layer of paint and pretend it never existed. But seriously - I found vertebrae. I found kids' school pictures from the 80's. I found dirt that probably has historical value. And I'd like to know: how do you get grease on the ceiling of the storage room that is two doors away from the kitchen?

Also in the works, a headboard for the bedroom. Just a teaser for now, more to come soon:

Overheard just now -
Coffee shop owner to son: "It's tough being a little kid."
Son: "Dad, you have no idea."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Shawl and socks

No tirade today. Just knitting. And a quiet little dance about the elections.

Finished these this weekend, but just getting around to posting them today. The socks are already showing signs of wear (perfect sleep socks), and I've been wearing Clapotis a lot, so haven't bothered to block it yet.

The Autumny Vermont Socks
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill, Supersock, Earthtones
Needles: size 2 US
Pattern: hodge podge
Pattern repeat:
Row 1 - [P2 K4] to end
Row 2 - K all
Row 3 - K3 [P2 K4] end with K1
Row 4 - K all
vermont socks
I liked the pattern, but it would definitely look better in a solid yarn. It was also not at all stretchy or clingy as I'd anticipated, so the socks are a might bit loose. Also, I learned that my heel is smaller than the average pattern - I don't need to do the standard 2.5 inch heel flap. Well, live and learn.
socks feet
The Anatomically Correct Toes are brilliant and I'm so excited I used the pattern. You don't know how f-ed up standard issue socks are until you try on a pair that is truly made for your feet. Your symmetrical-but-not-identical feet. Your ginormous-big-toe feet. Your baby-toe-hardly-counts feet.

Clapotis Shawl
Yarn: Cascade something or other (if I find the label I'll post the info)
Needles: size 8 US
Pattern: Clapotis from Knitty
(Yes, everything I knit is from Maybe someone will buy me a subscription to Vogue knitting or something this year)
clapotis and me no, I'm not trying to look sexy, just waiting for the camera to be ready -- oops, it was
Dropping the stitches was fun and I really like the instant lace-like look it created. In hindsight I'd have preferred a lighter-weight yarn for this; the shawl is rather bulky, though I love the bright color of the oranges.
clapotis closeA simple knit for someone looking for mindless knitting that is a step up from standard ol' stockinnette. I'm still growing accustomed to wearing huge shawls/scarves. They're great and do wonders to stop that chill from creeping down your spine, but it still feels like I'm wearing a blanket wrapped around my neck. You may recall my recent past - in NM and CA there was no need to wear much more than a thin strip of a scarf, and in the UP scarves were out and full-on wool body armor was the norm. But slowly, as the damp chill moves in, I'm learning. In fact, some variant of this might be in order next.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

science v. religion

I get a little worked up from time to time. I have several hot buttons, but I try to stay informed rather than to cloister myself in my private world of "right." So the other day I saw a link on to this story: God vs. Science

It struck me as an interesting topic, what with all the intelligent design, anti-evolution stories that are out, not to mention the many stories about GWB ignoring the input of the most highly regarded scientists in the world. Because this was a summary of the cover story from Time Magazine I thought it was going to be somewhat impartial, or at least balanced. Then I read the first paragraph:

"It's a debate that long predates Darwin, but the anti-religion position is being promoted with increasing insistence by scientists angered by intelligent design and excited, perhaps intoxicated, by their disciplines' increasing ability to map, quantify and change the nature of human experience."

I started by looking for the quotes. Which religious individual was being quoted here? I read it to a colleague to find out what he thought. He found it rather inflammatory. So without further ado, let me provide some balance.

The title of the article is "God vs Science" and it positions an atheist Biologist against a Christian geneticist. I'm assuming that the geneticist is not a direct conduit to Yahweh, just as the atheist is not the all-knowing scientist, and thus the title is a bit misleading.

Paragraph One:
The debate between science and religion does indeed pre-date Darwin, just ask Galileo. For a long time the financial power was in the hands of the church, while scientists were just poor schmucks with some good ideas, working out of their garages or kitchens. In today's age technology is power, and scientists finally have the resources to pursue the unknown, to explore that which had until recently been taken on faith. Does doing our job and sharing the knowledge with key decision makers constitute "promoting with increasing insistence?"

The use of "anti-[insert movement]" is a divisive and dirty tactic. In the abortion debate pro-lifers use "anti-life," pro-choicers use "anti-choice." Equating scientists with "anti-religion" is just plain incorrect, unless the opposite of "pro-religion" is "pro-truth," something I'm sure religious folks would take offense to. Religion has a vital role to play in our lives and communities, but it does not belong in policies relating to global warming, education about science, or wildlife preservation.

Yes we take offense to non-scientists trying to promote false theories, just like doctors get mad about snake-oil salesmen. Yes we get excited about new discoveries. Science is one of the best jobs in the world, because instead of doing a crossword puzzle or filling out forms or tracking a known phenomenon, we get to draw conclusions, make new observations, see things that no one has ever seen before. But intoxicated? Again with the dirty tactics - please don't imply that we drink on the job. And worse still, don't imply that we let our desire for a result guide our research. We don't imply that fear of rotting in a coffin is the fundamental basis for religion.

As for the last part, science is indeed mapping and quantifying our world, in bits and bytes. But changing human experience? Do we really have that much power?

Maybe that is what the battle is all about.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

That voice in your head is there for a reason

This (between the needles):
Is exactly how long I waited in the doctor's office tonight. Coincidentally, it is also the exact same amount of time it took me to realize that there was no way I wanted this man for my GP if I had to wait that long just to meet him. So I bailed on that idea and went home to do more work on Clapotis. It's clicking along, should be finished this weekend, I expect, along with the socks.

As much as I hate knitting for necessity, I'm not disappointed with the results. This is what I love about knitting, the way that this:
can become this:
in very little time and with even less skill. As with everything I make for myself, it's a bit too big, utilitarian, and not overly exciting. In fact, compared to the amazing things other people blog about it's down-right amusing. But it used up some stash and it's warm right this minute so I can deal. Someday, someday I'll learn how to alternately knit/purl without making big huge gaps between my stitches. And don't even talk to me about swatching. If I'd listened to the little voice in my head that makes up numbers, this would have been fine. Instead I chose to listen to the wise but misguided swatch fairy.

All things festive

You realize how dark and poorly lit the street is when a) it's the first night you've walked home since the time change and b) it's Halloween in a college town. Something about gangly 19-year-olds in scary masks and baggy clothes is particularly off-putting.
Walking home, I passed a couple of neighbors who were running wild, and when they saw me they asked, "Are you going to buy more candy?!?" "Why, are we out?" I asked. "Oh, I don't know, we haven't hit your house yet." Apparently the sugar-loaded children could fathom no-one being outside of their home unless it involved the procurement of candy. In fact, I was on my way to the tienda to buy some soda (for Rum and Cokes to get us through the evening). Inside I had to wait patiently as the proprietors were slammed with children thrusting their bags over the counter for free candy. One kid had two bags, and the shop owner asked him why.

"Because I get more candy that way!" Ah, the honesty of youth.

Not nearly as swamped as our dear little neighbors had forewarned, we still had a nice contingent of Supermans, Vampires, Fairies, and Power Troopers. I'd planned to post pictures, but they aren't very interesting. Somehow I hadn't noticed at the time that there were only about one or two kids actually in costume for every group of 8-10 who knocked on our door.

On the actual Hallowe'en, Brant was dressed as "Day-off Brant," While Larissa was sporting "Scientist Larissa" gear. So to compensate, here are the Clef Bash photos from Wycliffe's birthday/costume party. Birthday dude is the one in the leotard.
birthday clown

Note to the teenagers of my neighborhood: If you aren't wearing a costume, asking me for candy is begging. Pajamas are not a costume. Pajamas that are probably too small for your little sister - still not a costume (though disconcerting). Also, if you're old enough to beg for candy without a costume, you'd better not be too scared of my dog to come to my door. A scared 6-year-old dressed as Tarzan - I'll walk down to the sidewalk to feed. But you? Nope.

And last, but not least, Sock Wars is over (at least for this assassin), with appropriately timed, appropriately colored socks.
sockwars final2