Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Taking another step

I've taken another step toward reducing garbage; reusable produce bags.

I had seen them for sale online, but really couldn't justify paying $3 or more per bag, when I know how to sew... especially how to sew a plain old rectangle!

I found nylon mesh at the fabric store, and determined that the most sturdy wash/dryable nylon mesh was that used for bridal petticoats. I yanked and tugged on it pretty hard, and it will definitely stand up to a load of apples, or whatever. I have yet to see how well various produce survives in the crisper in these bags. I guess we'll see what happens.

If they work well, I'll report back and perhaps make more.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh, hai. I maeded another yarm!

I was sad yesterday because I thought I was out of fiber and I wanted to keep practicing spinning. Then, I remembered that about 5 years ago, I had made thrummed mittens, and had used a lovely merino/ silk roving for the thrumming. Well, that can most certainly be spun! There was enough left to get 75 yards of yarn, even! It's a bit more brownish gray than the picture shows; the flash got a little extra flashy, I guess.

Of course, I have ordered a couple of fibery items, and have gotten some tips of good places to get quality fiber at good prices. I'm thinking it might be fun to dye my own, especially with kool aid, which is nontoxic and makes some really bright, pretty colors. Evidently, you can also use food coloring, too. I am imagining using some rich pinks, oranges, and whatnot, and plying them with a dark, natural colored fiber, maybe browns?

It is going to be fuuuuuun!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I have added a new addiction.

Yes. I bought a spinning wheel. I have wanted to try spinning on a wheel rather than on a drop spindle, but hadn't known that there were wheels available for, say, $500. I was at the CT sheep and wool festival yesterday, and saw the wheel I'm holding above. It's made of PVC instead of wood!

As is my way, I took it home and looked up a bunch of information online (websites, youtube how-to videos) and set to spinning. Some people like to sit next to someone and start from scratch; I prefer to figure out as much as possible on my own. I had some fiber left over from a spinning attempt last year, and came up with this:

I had been told by experienced spinners that the fiber is lousy. Indeed, it was pretty difficult to work with. But not bad after only having the wheel for a few hours and absolutely no instruction on how to use it!

Today, I asked a friend of mine for some additional pointers, and she gave me a couple of hints that led me to make this:

As an aside, I went back home and tried spinning the 'yucky' fiber again, and the result was just as lousy as the first one, if not even lousier! I am now fiberless. I guess I will just have to... sigh... knit.

There were many other things to see besides spinning wheels at the festival. There were alpacas - this one kept making cute noises:

Sheep running around in a small circle for no apparent reason:

Exceedingly delicate and complicated looking lace:

Ridiculously soft angora bunnies:

It was a very nice day. However, I am now out of fiber. Must get more!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Things That Occurred To Me Today

1. Having a full refrigerator is great, but this fact alone does not make grocery shopping suck any less.

2. Sometimes, there are days upon which all traffic lights conspire to turn red just as you get to them.

3. Warm weather is great, but sweaty underpants are not.

4. Clothing fits better after you lose 15 pounds.

5. Gas has gotten really, really expensive.

6. Getting a jury summons letter in the mail is even more upsetting and disturbing than getting a bill.

7. The UPS guy is only capable of delivering packages when no one is home.

8. I want a cleaning lady. Or perhaps a cleaning man. Who is handsome and prefers to work shirtless.

Friday, April 18, 2008

And last but not least...

Man, am I glad I took fourteen million pictures the other day... I'm getting a lot of mileage out of them! I'm a posting maniac!

Here is the final finished item that I have been waiting to reveal. It is the Bainbridge Scarf by Mintyfresh. This innovative little number initially looks like little more than a tube with a tie on either side.

However, slip it over your head, fold it just so, and tie the ties... and you are left with a verrrry cute little scarf!

This yarn is once again some mystery yarn... I believe it might be handspun, and it has beads mixed in, which is absolutely adorable.

This pattern is an excellent project to make if you don't have enough yarn for a traditional, long scarf. Plus, it is quite simple to create, and yet ingenious in its design! I most definitely will make more in the future.

Today marks the beginning of a week off from school/ work. The weather today was gorgeous, and I had planned ahead and packed a backpack to take to Walden Pond after work today. It was a nice way to kick off the vacation! First, I put on my sneakers and took a walk around the pond. The swarms of bugs were quite hilariously annoying in parts, but I survived. Then, I went back to the car, gathered my 'relaxing' supplies, and headed back to the pond to find a shady spot to sit and read for a while. Unfortunately, my tailbone was not interested in cooperating for all that long (yeah, did you forget it was badly injured a few months back?). It still aches if I sit on it wrong for too long. Too long isn't very long, unfortunately! I'm not quite 4 months into the 6 month healing process they told me to expect.

But, enough about my butt, ha ha. Since I did the mega house cleaning and my taxes over February vacation, I don't have any dreadful tasks hanging over my head this week. It is a true miracle, but I have managed to keep my house clean since February! Family members, I sure hope you were sitting down when you read that. Amanda. Kept. The. House. Clean.

There are still owl pictures to share... stay tuned!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A sort of hat, and some crochet!

Yep, I continue to roll out the photos.

First, Calorimetry from Calorimetry is a cute little headwarmer with a button underneath. Yes, my hair is a little messy, but the headwarmer is just fabuloso!

Next, I crocheted a short scarfy thing, which is really more for decoration/ a little bit of color... it's a bit too short to wrap around the neck more than once, but it is cute and was fun to make! The pattern is yet another one I found on Ravelry, and is called Queen Anne's Lace Scarf by Khebin Gibbons.

I'm crocheting another scarf, but have run into a PROB-LEM. I have run out of yarn. I have to crochet two more repeats, but simply have no more yarn left. There are two layers, and the second layer is... unfinishable. I am in a bit of a bind... do I rip out the entire second level and make the first layer a couple of repeats shorter, or do I just leave off the two repeats on the second layer and hope no one notices (and also make it not possible to give away as a gift)? I don't know yet. I'm going to think about it for a little while before making a decision. In the meantime, I will go back to knitting the Noro socks.

My parents came down to visit me this evening. We went for a walk down by the river, then went to Mr. Jalapeno for dinner (yum, by the way), and then went to a lecture about owls at the library. It was really cool - they had a bunch of owls for us to look at! My father brought along a camera, so once he sends me the pictures, I'll share them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And today, a couple of scarves!

I'm doing a good job of spreadin' the blog love. I have even more items to share after these, believe it or not!

First, My So Called Scarf, pattern by Allison Isaacs:

I don't know what the yarn is. I don't remember what size needle I used. What I do know is that I absolutely love this stitch. It is all herringbone-y, and cool, and pretty simple to do! The back side isn't a huge mess, either... it just looks like a bit of garter stitch/ reverse stockinette. I will definitely make more scarves in this pattern in the future.

Next up, the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf by Karen Baumer. I used recycled sari silk yarn, which can be a bit hard on the hands, but I just love watching the different colors go by. The yarn is lumpy, thick/thin, with strange puffballs of shredded fabric... and I love it! This yarn was a bit more consistent in color than some that I've seen, so the diagonal aspect doesn't show up as well, but it is still cool. The fringe is the best part, in my opinion, because you can really see and enjoy the yarn itself.

Stay tuned - I think I still have three fully completed items to show off, as well as progress on my Noro Nutkin socks, AND a crochet project!

I probably won't post tomorrow - my parents are coming down to visit, and we're going out to dinner and then we're going to a lecture/ presentation on owls. There will be real owls there, even!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ginormous Head of DOOOOOOOM.... and some hats.

Near my house is a small museum. There is a small courtyard outside. In this courtyard, there is a very large wire head. At various times, it is covered with various things. Currently, it is covered with stuffed animals. Observe:

Indeed, it is so covered, that you can't really even tell it is a head... unless you KNOW. Which I do!

My initial reason for going into the courtyard was to take some pictures of my recent knitting. It was a fairly decent day outside, and the sun was kind of out. I'll take it... April is known as a rainy month, and I'll take 'sort of sunny' over 'totally raining' any day.

So, in a continued effort to stretch out the photos, here are two hats that I made.

First, the "Robin's Egg Blue" hat by Rachel Iufer.

Quick pattern comments: I liked this pattern. I like that there is a cute little tab - I need to find a button to put on it in order for it to be complete, but I still like it.
That is really all I'm going to say about the pattern, because I don't feel like writing more. :)

Next, is the Amanda Hat by Gina House.

Briefly: I made this hat before with thinner yarn. I liked it enough that I made it again. The original pattern added a stitch to the end of the row so that you don't have to keep shifting around your stitch marker. However, that gives you a line up the back of the hat. So, this time around, I removed that extra stitch and concentrated extra hard so that I'd remember where to position the next pattern repeat. The results? No line up the back of the hat.

I like this pattern. It makes a nice, loose hat... and sometimes you're in the mood for a nice, loose hat!

Now, why have I suddenly been whipping off 1-2 skein projects? (there are several more for me to share) There is a good answer for this question.

I recently received a bunch of yarn from a friend who just moved. I don't know what most of it is, because most of it is not labeled. Additionally, there are a lot of single skeins, which means that I have had the opportunity to cruise Ravelry to find patterns suitable for a single skein of yarn. I've been enjoying the challenge, to be sure.

Lowell has been a hubbub of activity over the past two days. Ricky Gervais is in town filming a movie. I'm not sure when it will be out, but one road is completely blocked off, and my road is blocked off at the end... and they are stopping traffic as needed on yet a third street. New Englanders are pretty undercover about their fan craziness: At any given time, maybe 10-50 people are standing quietly across the street, watching politely at the activity in the filming area. No one is screaming and pointing, no one is bugging the crew... they're just standing quietly and watching. Occasionally, someone will pull out a camera and take a shot from far away, but no loud, rude media people are anywhere to be found. All in all, it hasn't really been all that disruptive, but there is a little buzz in the air... people casually asking if they have sighted any famous people and such. I personally haven't spotted anyone, although the bar where they're filming shares an alleyway with me, and evidently one of my across the alley neighbors spotted Ricky Gervais out there.

I've never been big into celebrity fandom. When I was a kid, a lot of my friends had posters of heartthrobs or bands that they liked, but I never did. However, if I just HAPPEN to see someone famous, I am entertained and a little curious. I once saw Cuba Gooding Jr. in a bar in Malibu, and on the same trip, I saw Liz Phair leaving a restaurant. When I was in 8th grade, I saw Tom Cruise; I was at a race track, and he was racing one of Paul Newman's cars. This was pre- Days of Thunder, and also waaay pre creepy scientology stuff. He was still cool back then.

Anyway, I will keep my eyes peeled, and perhaps peek out my window if I hear someone down there. I'll let you know if I see anyone interesting!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Finished Projects, Works in Progress

First, a photo of my Muir shawl relaxing on a cafe' chair.

Next, a shot of the socks I'm making out of the new Noro sock yarn in my favorite colorway:

I had no fewer than FOUR false starts with another colorway a few months ago... those socks are having a time out until such time as I can bear to go back to them!

The pattern is Nutkin by Beth LaPensee. The pattern is quite simple to memorize, and I've enjoyed knitting these socks so far. The only thing I think I'm going to change is that the pattern calls for a short row toe (that part is fine) and then you do a three needle bind off on the top of the foot, which I think is bulky and I don't personally like the looks of it. I'll be grafting via kitchener stitch instead. :)

I have recently completed several other projects, but I'm going to be making an effort to spread out the posts a bit.

Once again, it is NOT raining today, despite dire warnings of a totally rainy weekend. I managed to get outside for a little while... it wasn't quite flip flop weather like it was yesterday, but I'm still thrilled that spring is on its way!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stuffed Peppers

Okay, people. I did it: I took many pictures today. Approximately 30 (well, 28 to be precise) of them are blog-worthy. That's a lot of pictures, so I'm going to be creating several posts. Probably all this evening. I know that this is fairly lame of me... after all, it would be much better if I chose to spread them out, say, over a week, but let's face it. I have not been the most reliable lately when it comes to blogging. Showering regularly, yes. Blogging regularly, no.

Anyway, I have once again cooked a great meal from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Moskowitz. This time, it was black bean, mushroom and quinoa-stuffed peppers, only I didn't have quinoa, so I used short grain brown rice. I put salsa over the top, and it was quite delicious!

Straight out of the oven:

Ready to eat - check out that close-up steam action!

Okay, people, that's it for this post. Oops except.... today was supposed to rain all day... but they got it all wrong! It was delightfully warm and sunny for most of the day, except for about 1 1/2 hours in the mid/late afternoon. I even wore flip flops outside... I tried to walk fast so no one got a good look at my snaggly 'winterfeet'. It's disastrous down there.

Friday, April 11, 2008

State of the Union Address

2008 has found this blog significantly more neglected than it had been in 2007. The biggest reason for this is not that there is nothing going on... rather, I have been avoiding taking/ uploading photos. I mean, what's a blog post without a picture? Just a buncha words. And who wants that!

Anyway. On to the updates.

Work: Busy. Full of kids who can't seem to get the hang of the whole 'school' thing, despite 5-8 years of practice. Much teenage angst. And about 45 more work days until summer vacation. All is right with the world.

Home: I have managed to keep my place fairly clean (for me) since the 'giant cleanup of 2008'. I figure there only need be 30 minutes of tidying for a casual guest, perhaps 1-2 hours if it's someone more important.

Environmental New Year's Resolution: This one is going pretty well! I continue to work on reducing paper and plastic waste. I can't remember the last time I used a paper napkin at home. Sometimes, I really get the urge to use a disposable Kleenex rather than my handkerchief, but progress has still been made. Also, our building (and several nearby) is looking into hiring a company to provide recycling bins in addition to garbage dumpsters for us. This will be great! This is a resolution I am actually sticking to.

Emergency Wallet Lockdown/ Extreme Budgeting: Okay, it's not super extreme; I still have cable TV and even bought a snazzy new pair of sneakers, but let me tell you, my credit card bills are looking VERY different from what they used to! I wouldn't be surprised if I'm charging less than 10-20% than I used to monthly. Let's not bandy about actual numbers... but suffice it to say, I'm very pleased with how this is going. Barring exorbitant unexpected life expenses, I'm optimistic that I will be able to follow through with "Operation Debt Demolition". This consists of drastically reducing my total debt in the next 5 years by carefully considering every dollar I spend, basically.

Anti Consumer Brainwashing: I am doing a good job of brainwashing myself to reject the typical American consumerist mindset. Baby steps, but still... I have the urge to spend much less frequently than I used to, and am assuming this will only get easier over time.

Knitting: Yeah, I've been knitting a bunch. However, I don't always enjoy photographing my knitting, because I don't have a nice, bright spot to take the pictures, so it always requires a lot of camera setting manipulation and color correction afterwards. Someday, I will not overlook an alleyway. I might even have a small yard. Sure, this might not happen until I'm in my 50's, but a girl can dream, can't she?

It's going to rain all weekend, so I'm not overly optimistic about being able to get good pics at the many items I've made lately. However, I'll give it my best shot.

I realize that this list is not overly personal. No mention of any fun stuff. There has been fun stuff along the way, but I've really been in an 'all business mode' for some time now. I'm kickin' ass and takin' names... let's just hope your name isn't on the list!