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

Monday, December 31, 2007

No place like home for the holidays

I have no intention of going out tonight. We're staying home, drinking beer, and watching movies, once we get done watching Anna paint the accent wall in the living room. She got bored on her holiday home, and offered to paint. My living room has been in an uproar since about Thursday, giving me lots of time to do deep thinking about my control issues, my personal space issues, and my behaviors. Interesting stuff, at least to me.

I've been reading a lot of size acceptance blogs. Interesting to see where people are on the journey to learning to love oneself. I'm just sick to death of self-loathing and depriving myself of joy because of my body size. I did some quick math, and in my dieting life, I've lost about 500 pounds. I've lost a lot more than that, though. I've lost my self-respect, my metabolism, my joy in moving and eating and living. The core of it is that there is nothing inherently wrong with being fat. It's just like being tall, or being Italian, or being tone-deaf. It just is. What I need to do is stay away from the scale, assign neutral moral value to food (no more "good" or "bad" foods) and learn to listen to what my body wants.

On listening-I realized the other day that there are days when I go all afternoon and evening without having anything to drink. Not even water. And I wonder why I wake up in the night with the sahara desert blowing through my mouth! I'm so out of touch with my body's cues that I can't even recognize thirst.

On moving-it hurts. Of course it hurts. It's going to hurt. But if I don't move, I can't be fit. I want to be at least somewhat more fit than I am now. Note that this has nothing to do with weight or size.

Small steps, though. This is my resolution, and I'm not one to make resolutions.


That first. Everything else can follow.

Oh, and read Shapely Prose-it's also linked in the sidebar. Particularly a little number called "the fantasy of being thin". She's also got an excellent rant up today about Weight Watchers and how they're co-opting size acceptance language to sell their diet. Good stuff.

I need to do a full-on blog post instead of this little newsy crap that's been going in here lately, but truth be told, I hate my keyboard. It's just not working out for me. Maybe after things settle down, I'll get one that I don't hate typing on, and perhaps I'll type more as a result. Or I might type the same, but enjoy it more.

In knitting, nothing much new. The Hundertwalkers have been put on a circular needle for magic loop. I think I've converted to that method. They're past the heel but not really enough to photograph yet. Today, I finished the Iris socks.

Then Bob and Anna took pictures of my feet.


I have to say they're pretty great.

We had an adventurous christmas. I took a lot of pictures, all of which are on my Flickr page, in their very own set. A couple of highlights, though.

My daughters.

A box-shaped cat. (Sara, my aunt Ginny's cat)

And some very cute dogs.


Happiest of happy new years to all.

Monday, December 24, 2007

maybe I'm crazy to suppose...

It's been an interesting week. Needless to say, very busy. And being non-christian has never saved me from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

I was very happy to see Yule come this year. I needed the light to come back. All in all, it was a better year than last, but could still stand some improvement.

My accomplishments for 2007 include...

Became proficient at knitting socks.

Acquired a good camera and making strides to learning how to use it.

Decided that I need to stop fighting and hating my body and start learning to love it and work with it.

Reconciled myself to doing the most low-stress version of my job that involves actually doing some work, and coming up with workable compromises between my standards and the unrealistic workload.

Learned to make straciatella in several different ways. Decided on the way I like best.

Began reclaiming my feminism and seeing all the ways in which patriarchy hurts us all, and calling bullshit where I see it in that regard.

So all in all, not bad. And my quitmeter (at the bottom of the page) keeps inexorably ticking toward two years. There are days I don't even think about smoking. Weeks I go without actively wanting a cigarette. It's pretty cool.

Now that I've finished the dread holiday knitting, I have time to work on stuff for ME, ME I TELL YOU! HAHAHAHAHA.

My Iris socks should be done by the end of the week.

This pattern moves really fast, but you can't make it out very well unless the socks are stretched out.


I also started on Lovlund by Cornelia Scott Hamilton.

It's a short sleeved sweater designed to work with Noro yarn, but I'm using Jojoland Rhythm which has color runs like Noro but more shifting colors than abrupt changes. Pretty nice, actually. The colors aren't as neon-y as they look in the photos but at 5 in the AM on christmas eve, I'm not working for the perfect shot.

I woke up at 4:30 and could not get back to sleep. My back is getting worse and worse all the time, my feet keep going numb at night. It starts with the two middle toes on each foot, and radiates out and back. Once I get up and start moving around, it goes away. On top of that, I had a severe flare-up of costochondritis on Friday and Saturday. Had to take vicodin in order to sleep, but when I woke up yesterday, it was much better. It still hurts some but nothing like the agony that was Saturday.

I'm trying not to think about the things that are missing this year, namely my Grandmother and Melissa, and yes, Quincy too. Melissa not being here hurts the most. She used to do "russian christmas" when we first met, because we both worked in retail and were very poor. That branched out into our habit of declaring "russian" anything from birthdays celebrated late to Mother's day delayed to get good tables at restaurants. She was the source of so many small traditions in my life that it's hard to go a day without feeling her absence, very keenly. And I'm not obtuse enough to miss the connection between my sadness and my physical maladies... I can only hope that in time, my heart will heal enough to allow my body to follow.

Well, I hope everyone has a good holiday of your choice. Today will be work and then to my Aunt's house for a while. Tomorrow, my mom and my elder daughter will gather here for present-opening before we set out to my Uncle's house for the day. Then back to work Wednesday. Enjoy it as best you can!

Monday, December 17, 2007

To my mother, my dog, and clowns

(The title is a line from "Life on Mars", one of my favorite David Bowie songs.)
My family has apparently forgotten I have a name.

Today, we received two holiday greeting cards (from members of MY FAMILY, no less) addressed to Mr. And Mrs. Bob. This pisses me off. I am very proud and happy to be married to Bob, but this does not mean I NO LONGER HAVE A FIRST NAME. Neither Bob nor I see me as an extension of him. I have my own identity, personality, and name. Only the last name changed, and that was only because I've gone my whole life with a long-assed, difficult last name and wanted one with one syllable for once in my life. I did not change my first name, nor did I disencumber myself of who I am to become Mrs Bob. Ok? Ok.

It's been a bit of a hectic week. The Dread Holiday Knitting is complete, and I am at last able to work on things my own again. The last project finished was my mother's socks.


I think they came out quite well.


She admired this pattern (Kaibashira from Magknits) when I was making it for my elder daughter. Hopefully she's forgotten that I said I'd make her a pair and she'll be nice and surprised. They're made from the first Koigu yarn I ever bought. The colors are just beautiful and these went pretty fast, less than two weeks. I learned one important thing. The general instructions for knitting Magic Loop say not to pull the yarn tight between the needle transitions, but if you're working size one needles, you DO need to pull it tight, or you'll get ladders. I found this out when I had to rip out about four inches of sock (sparing the cuff, thank goodness), the ladders were just too severe and unacceptable.

So. I'm working on two pair of socks for myself. I'm on Ravelry (username Mensabuttercup if you want to add me, please feel free) and I belong to a group called "Sock Knitters Anonymous". Each month, there's a sock challenge, and those who meet the challenge are put into a "hat" for a random drawing for prizes. I actually won a prize, this gorgeous yarn from the Art Walk sock yarn club.

Of course I couldn't wait to start a sock out of something so pretty. It's becoming a pair of "Primavera" socks.
It started out innocently enough, but soon developed a spiral.

I don't mind it so much though.

The yarn is truly a premium sock yarn, something I'd probably never buy due to the expense so I'm really enjoying working with it. A rare treat.

The "Hundertwalkers" march on, slowly now. I'd put these down for a month or so because of holiday knitting and it's nice to get back to them, but dang. 100 stitches around on size zero needles takes FOREVER.


That is one gorgeous self-patterning sock, though. Oh, those colors.

That's about it.

Hopefully I'll get to update before, but if not, have a blessed Yule.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gone to the dogs

Honestly, I didn't want to do an update today, but since I usually do this on Mondays, I felt obligated. So here is today's list for the Cosmic Complaints Department.

I'm going through a lot of stuff right now. Trying to do the whole "fat acceptance" and Health at Every Size thing, but I'm still in that "but not for me" phase, and I'm still struggling with a very unhealthy relationship with food. And a very unhealthy relationship with my self image.

Money is tight. I feel like a big failure there, too. I keep hoping someday it'll get better, but I'm just not seeing it lately. Good thing we decided to keep giftmas to a minimum this year.

The Steelers lost. Now the unabated Pats worship will get even worse. I hate that team.

My toes are falling asleep every night when I go to bed. I think the bed is really bothering my back, but there's nothing I can do about it. My old back troubles are rearing their ugly heads in a big way.

I'm very, very profoundly depressed right now.

But it's not all bad.

The dogs are cute.



My husband is awesome, supportive, and sweet.

My kids are pretty cool.

I'm within one half of one sock of being finished with the Dread Holiday Knitting. I will finish early. Mostly because I'm not doing that much but also because I kept it more sane and reasonable this year.

I do have gifts for everyone that I want to give gifts to. They might not be the greatest gifts, but they're gifts. I still need to get some photo frames.



The laundry's almost done. That's worth celebrating, isn't it?

And in a little over a month, I'll be able to take a couple of days off, which I need desperately.

No craft or yarn photos, this time. It's just too grey and cloudy outside and I don't want to do photos inside as my relationship with this camera does not yet include being able to take indoor flash pictures that look like anything other than ass.

Edited to add-this morning at the dentist's office, Janice Dickinson and Al Roker were on the Today show together talking about kids having body image issues. Oh, the irony.
Hang in there. If I can do it, you can do it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

And now, our lightning round!

I only have time for a half-fast update. (say that fast and you'll understand.)

My younger daughter had her graduation ceremony on Saturday, even though she doesn't officially graduate for another two weeks. Graduating from college, and she's not yet 22 years old. Amazing.

I have a whole set up on Flickr, but there are some extra photos I took that were not included in that bunch.

First, this bank of computers in the lounge.


Who ever said christian college students don't have senses of humor?

and finally...

There was a lovely sign next to the gifts they were giving the graduates.

Of course, being the smartass that I am, I had to comment on it. "Only had one to spare, eh?"

Nice fix.


I'm insanely proud of both my kids, of course. But that made me laugh. I needed a laugh after the speeches, believe me.

Anyway, I also took some photos from the back porch of the lounge where the reception was. There's a cute little riverfront town across the way.

(That one is best viewed large, so click on it if you like.)

This is the big G (for Geneva) on the mountain across the river. I guess they light it on fire during homecoming or something.

And here's a train that looks like a toy train.

In fiber things, I continue to knit socks like a madwoman. The rainbow Jaywalkers are done, as is my mother's christmas stocking.


This project started with the yarn, or even before that. I spun a "mystery batt" from Mountain Shadow Ranch and to get the most mileage possible from it, plied it with lengths of red and royal blue roving. Not enough to do anything substantial, and the sparkle in the mystery batt proved to be prone to breakage, so not particularly durable either.

It was a stash puppy for a year or so. My mother's had a rather small christmas stocking for some time and when I started thinking about making her a new one, this yarn came to mind. Several fits and starts later, I settled on a seed stitch/stockinette checkerboard and a white cabled cuff.

Anyway. The liner is a commercial satin xmas stocking from Joanne fabrics.

There are actually three cables, the other two are around the back.

I made an i-cord to hang it.

After I got it all knitted and blocked, it was still looking a little plain, so I embroidered some snowflakes on it.

There's a fine line between rustic and sloppy, and my embroidery skills are a bit ... dated. I like the overall effect, though.

I'm happy to say that every pair of socks that needs to be finished before the 25th is at least cast on.

My mom's Kaibashira socks are past the first heel.

And I only have about 2/3 of one brown slipper sock to go.

I was encouraged enough to cast on and knit about a foot of a giant needle (size 11) mohair scarf just for fun today. No photos though. Yet. You know me, give it time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

don't talk back!

Mostly to catch up on spinning and knitting that I didn't cover in the drunken post from last night. Yes, spinning, a small justified amount.

In order to do the cuff for my mother's christmas stocking, I needed to card and spin some of the white alpaca that I washed earlier. I did up about 100 yards, and it should be more than enough.


I spun it fine and chain-plied it. The result is a yarn that is somewhat finer than the yarn for the body of the stocking, but it will look nice. Three simple cables on the cuff, which will be folded over on the top of the stocking. The lining is actually a poofy satin holiday stocking that I got at Joanne Fabrics with the decorative elements cut off. It makes the stocking look nice and full even when it isn't.


here's some shots I took outside before the stocking was done, but it shows the stitch pattern a bit more. A simple checkerboard pattern of seed stitch and stockinette.



I think it'll be quite nice.

To reward myself, and since I had the wheel out anyway, I carded and spun some of the yak fiber from Copper Moose.


The raw fiber is incredibly soft. It needs very little carding to spin well.


It has minimal VM, and the guard hairs are so soft I'm only picking them out if they stick out. It's spinning up nice and fine.


And wow, is it ever soft. I can't wait to get a skein finished so I can knit a swatch.

Tonight's Monday Night Football with the Steelers. Go Steelers! I made a yummy dinner, smothered pork chops with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. Cold-weather food, fitting, since it's been raining all day.

I should also mention that my darling husband has started a blog. He's at the top of the sidebar over there-check it out if you get a chance. He's a pretty funny dude, and a very good writer.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

get no kick from champagne

...but sambuca, now that's some nice stuff.

I'm a little drunk just now. Not sure if it's a good idea to blog or not but the cruel light of day will tell the tale, fer shure. Let me try to explain my intoxicated state of mind. I'll start off by noting that I had a busy and productive weekend planned, involving things like "getting all the laundry done", and "cleaning the carpet under the piano". Hah.

Friday, the drain in the basement was a little slow. And by "a little slow", I mean backing up into the basement. So we called the friendly friends from Roto Rooter. They were here within the hour, around 11 AM.

It's late in the Fall here in southwestern Pennsylvania. So, by 4:30 PM, dark was arriving and our designated Rooter still hadn't resolved the clog, despite bringing in cameras, technology, the Most Expensive Machine, as well as the Machine that goes *ping*.

The Administrator, I mean, the supervisor was called to bring us the grim news. Our Rooter was unable to clear the clog. He'd send new Rooters in the morning, but that was an act of mere desperation, plumber's voodoo, as it were. Chances are, disaster had fallen and we were destined to spend thousands of dollars on getting the sewer dug up and a new line laid. The sewer line, you see, crosses the vacant lot next to our property, and goes under where our neighbor, a very nice man, has just completed a Sisyphean task of building a new driveway, much omnistone walling, and what looks like a gun turret. This has been his windmill at which much tilting has passed lo unto this past year. It will displease him greatly if his wall has to be dug up.

Morning dawned and laundry was loaded into the car. If nothing else was getting done, that effing laundry was. My darling husband called me several times with updates. The gist of it was that the clog was unclogged, but the situation with the drain under the neighbor's wall remained uncertain. It will have to be dug up, sooner rather than later, but for now all is well. Until we can come up with SEVENTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.

So with clean laundry and groceries in tow, my daughter and I returned to the house with joy and knitting and uncertainty in most things, except this. No more shall tampons be discarded into the toilet.

So, we had thanksgiving at my mom's house. Here's some photos.

My mom's been getting a bit carried away with the birds lately.


Buddy's been in her house a while. He's no more social than he was, but he does whistle more things now.

This is her Conure, Falco.

Falco talks, and will dance if you sing to her. A real character. She also has two doves, a peach-faced lovebird, and a parakeet.

The girls had a good time.

There were also dogs.

Back to Friday, there was a scary sky that should have boded unwell for the plumbing prognosis.


If that doesn't look pestilent, I don't know what does.

And this has gotten a lot farther now but it's my mom's xmas stocking.


It's a seed stitch/stockinette checkerboard pattern. I found a nice silver stocking to use as a liner, and I'm going to do a fancy cuff from white alpaca in a cable pattern. It should be rustic and lovely.

More when I'm making more sense.