Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

forget the dreams, perchance to just freaking sleep.

Lightning update. I'm not sleeping worth a darn. Can't get comfortable in bed and am tending to wake up at outrageous hours of the morning and be unable to go back to sleep. Five days off and for four of them, I've been up at the asscrack of dawn.

Eye doctor appointment yesterday confirmed what I suspected-it's bifocal time. I'll live. Also, my days as a wearer of contact lenses are at an end. I have corneal vascularization which means I've starved my eyes of oxygen (by overwearing cheap contact lenses). Also, my prescription has gone up and with the bifocal aspect, it just won't work for contacts.

I did enjoy those days I had of waking up able to see. I'll miss them.

Lots of knitting. I'm making a real dent in my holiday stuff. All I need to get done now are some more washcloths, two mobiuses (mobii?) for my aunts and finish my mother's FNF shawl, which is like an anchor around my leg. I am really not motivated to finish it. No idea why. I think I just need to get back into a groove with it. I did finish the four-stitch scarf and did a whole 'nother one in a bigger needle size, one for my ex-cubemate, one for my boss. This is the one for my boss.
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This is a multi-directional scarf that I made for my clerk, Barb. She's a very tall, very thin woman who is extremely energized. I adapted the multi-directional scarf pattern to be stockinette with an occasional garter row for visual interest. The first picture is more true to texture, the second is more true to color.
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Those are both from handspun.

Recently, I picked up some Patons SWS (soy wool stripes) on sale. Decided to try some entrelac with it. If this works, it'll likely be for me. So far so good.
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They're six-stitch squares, not the standard eight, and I'm not doing the slipstitch edge, rather being very careful to be consistent in where I pick up from the edge so the squares all match. I am really loving short-rowing lately. What is up with that?

I'm going to try lying down for a while.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Rodney King Moment

Warning, y'all. This is a political statement, and includes no pictures of yarn or completed knitted or crocheted objects. There are also no pictures of fuzzy cute animals. Please buckle your safety belt, make sure your thinking cap is seated firmly yet comfortably on your head, and hang on while I do some twisting and turning.

I like to read Letters to the Editor in my local paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (link in the sidebar.) I like to think it's a finger on the pulse of the local mindset. Sometimes, it's downright dismaying.

There's something to notice, though, in the recent letters. It's been out there for a while, and I'm noticing it more now. There's been talk of how divided the country is, sure. And there's no doubt the red-state/blue-state division is a real one. But the division in rhetoric is much deeper, and much more toxic.

What is the breeding ground of this noxious rhetoric? From what foul pit commences the malodorous accusations of facism, weak-kneedness, cowardice, totalitarianism?

I know, I know. You open the dictionary to get a definition of "bleeding-heart liberal" and there's a picture of me, so you think I'm going to say Fox News. You'd only be partially right. It's Fox, or as I prefer to call them, Faux, all right. In fact, they were the ones who started it all. Infotainment, straight out of the script written for them in the cautionary movie "Network". It sells, so it's good enough for them. The only problem is that now, it's not just Fox that's the problem.

All the networks are the problem. The AP is the problem. The internet news outlets are the problem. Newspapers and news magazines are the problem. The local stations are the problem. Vitriol sells. Controversy sells. And We the People have a horribly short attention span.

So last week, while the GOP narrowly elected a known racist and segregationist to the minority leadership position (irony of ironies!), the press in all of its iterations crowed about how Dear Little Nancy Pelosi was facing FAILURE because she showed loyalty to a friend by supporting him in something he wanted to do. Despite the win/win aspect of the House Majority leader vote result for Speaker (elect) Pelosi, all the press could do was trumpet the implied weakness of her and the choices she made. Blindness must prevent them from seeing the truth of it, that Rep Hoyner was going to win the leadership position and she knew it, and that Rep Murtha simply wanted to run for the position, and likely would not win it, and she knew it. She backed him because he'd backed her. She backed him because they are friends and understand each other. Then in grace, all three stood together in unity for the majority of the House and faced the press. Who, in gracelessness, reported that the party was divided and splintering and squabbling amongst themselves, despite the evidence before them of three happy Democrats, ready and willing to work together for the good of the country.

And so I return, circuituously, to the scene of my original point. There is so much anger. There is so much division and hatred. People are so totally convinced that they're right. It's sad. The letters to the editor spew mean-spirited taunts, lobbed like literary Molotov cocktails, across the divide, both sides missing the point. Both sides, missing the facts. Both sides, missing what a Democracy is and what it means to us, the rabble and the roused.

We are, at this point, forced to DO Something. The Founding Fathers, in their flawed wisdom, created a very good system of government with some dangers. We've been living the fruits of that danger for the past six years, and really, for the past twelve. (Clinton's second term was so fraught with witch hunts and trials and scandalmongering that it seemed executive and legislative were controlled by one party.) But it is now not so. It is now, as the Drafters of the Constitution intended, a multiple party system, controlled by more than one, with enough voices on either side of the aisle to give oversight to whatever legislation comes through the pipeline. There is no more rubber stamp for this failed, hubris-ridden president. An angry, maligned party holds the purse-strings now, and he'd better hope that they have the good of the Country at heart, and not just vengeance.

Fortunately for all of us, I think they have good intentions.

It's a deeply flawed system. I'd far prefer a true multi-party system like other countries have instead of our two-party. It's too polarizing. It's too Jingoism-Making. But for now at least, it's what we have. And for the first time in quite a while, it has an opportunity to work properly.

The American public, by and large, needs a long course in Political Science. They need to be taught that it's not about the team. It's not about who wins, your side or mine. It's not about who has the catchiest campaign slogans or the best jokes, or the most attractive spouse, or the most money to run commercials, or who can say the most bad things about the other guy. It's really about what's best for everyone. Everyone.

The running of our country, state, municipality, is not a sporting event, and the press needs to take a front line in dismantling the prevailing mindset. Will they? Not likely. It wouldn't sell many papers or advertising minutes. So until that day comes, it's up to us to educate ourselves, and each other.

And of course, our kids. Maybe they'll grow up smarter than we did, and a whole lot less gullible.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Okay, now what do we do?

My mind is in a whirl. I can't believe what this last week has wrought, and I've had various pithy thoughts about it rolling around in my head which, of course, I have not bothered to take the time to jot down. I don't think they're lost, just hiding.

It's upsetting to me that I have to go back to work tomorrow. You'd think that four days off would be enough, but it isn't. And to top it all off, I have a way too long list of things I want to do around the house. I should know better, really.

So, I guess I'll hold off on the political commentary until I'm more organized in the thought department, and just move straight to the fiber.

Friday, I did an experiment in felting. A lot of my early handspun yarn isn't really suitable for garments, it's uneven, thick, underspun. So I decided to try felting with some of it. I made a bowl, which looks rather like a Dr. Seuss' child's hat. I like it. I lost patience, though, and stopped felting it before it lost all stitch definition. My weakness, as always.
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I do like the result, though. It's fanciful.

Here's the bowl posed in a lovely, artistic still-life with a "garterlac" washrag, and my take from someone's LiveJournal destashing. (three and 3/4 skeins of elann pure alpaca and 400 yds trekking sock yarn.)
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I liked doing the garterlac, it was nice to learn the technique, and I look forward to applying it to more complicated projects in the future.
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It's done in Aunt Lydia's "Denim" crochet cotton. It's really nice stuff, very soft and very drapey. I'm thinking this will be a face cloth, not a dishrag. And hooray, I have a total four skeins of it in different colors that I bought on sale a while back, not knowing what I was going to do with it.

A while back I posted the little fern lace washrag, it's growing a big brother, a teatowel, and I'm hoping the set will make a nice gift for my mother in law if I don't kill myself out of boredom with knitting it first.
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Patience is definitely my biggest weakness. I get bored too easily.
But it'll be pretty.
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That's about it, other than a progress shot on the four-stitch scarf.
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(with sleeping corgi for interest)
Now, to shake off this malaise.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

hope I haven't made a terrible mistake....

I switched to the blogger beta thing. We'll see. There seems to be a problem with the feed that I can't fix right now because I have to go to work. It does still seem to be available just via

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

...and they all lived happily ever after

Holy cow, am I ever going to have a lot to say tomorrow. Tonight, I'm tired. We were up late last night, and I was very keyed up all day, compulsively checking the internet for updates at work, not getting much if anything done, and being surprised by the depth and breadth of my own feelings. But for tonight, pictures of knitted things.

A few months ago, I spun up a batch of yarn that was two ply. One ply of both colors was a sparkly blended very poofy coopworth type wool. The other ply of one was purple/blue romney. The other ply of the other was green brown sheep mill end. They ended up looking like this.
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with two more skeins of the blue/purply. Nice, huh? A bit too heavy and not quite soft enough for a next to skin sweater, a bit not enough of it for a cardigan or blazer. So, it becomes another feather and fan comfort shawl, this one for my mother, and it will be sparkly enough for her to wear to the opera, if she chooses. I'm a tad stuck right now because I need longer cables. The knitpicks options 60 inch cable (and 47 inch cables, and a gift book, and some new DPNs, damn free shipping with a $40 order but I digress) are currently in the shopping cart awaiting my paycheck. When I get the longer cable, work on this can commence. It's showing great promise, though, and the knitpicks options needles are a dream to work with.
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Lena Sock #1 is on the needles. #1 DPNs, my smallest yet. I'm liking the results. Very nice. The yarn is "online" sock yarn, self-patterning. VERY cool, nice soft yarn, will make her a good pair of socks. The thing I didn't like was it was all one ball and I had to really work to divide it into equal parts. I need a scale that measures in grams.
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Remember I mentioned the Yarn Harlot 4 stitch pattern scarf that refused to be photographed? It's in a better mood today.
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And the warshrags march on.
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Much more tomorrow. I have a four day weekend coming and plan to make the most of it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I'm only going to ask this once.

Go vote. Please. And hope to the deity of your choice that it makes a difference.