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

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is there an echo in here?

Here are the last two yarns I spun, posed with the last two yarns I acquired commercially.



Alpha B yarns in Beach Glass, my handspun chain plied merino/silk. Not quite the same, but familiar enough in color scheme to match in a project. Likewise here.


Turtle Cove in Who Killed Tangerine and my handspun sportweight sock.


Curious, isn't it?

I finished the fan lace socks. Love 'em, as well I should since it'll be the last pair of "me" socks before I get done with the dread holiday crafting.


I will likely debut these tomorrow. I've started on undisclosed project #1A and will post pictures after the fact. My children are entirely too nosy.

With a sinking feeling, I got a good look at the raglan tee I was doing and I think it's too small. I put the sleeve stitches on holders, then took a good look at the width and I don't think it's big enough. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep going, rip altogether, rip back to the raglans and keep increasing, or toss the whole works in the trash. Honestly, it's gorgeous yarn and I cannot understand why I'm having so much trouble sticking to a project with it.


We went to the Shadyside Arts Festival over the weekend. I did not enjoy it very much. The way it was set up completely obscured Shadyside as a neighborhood, and made it a blinding, pointless succession of white canopies. There was no live music, save a dude on steel drums trying to sell CDs.


Not much in the way of food and beverages either, and what there was, was expensive. There was quite a bit of interesting art to look at, though.


This was an oil painting done from the winning play of the Super Bowl, and signed by the players involved. According to a sign inside, the original was auctioned off for over $10,000 to benefit the Mel Blount foundation. Good cause. The gallery (Maser Galleries) is a permanent fixture in Shadyside, though, and has been for years. They have a lot of very nice paintings, photographs, and prints.

I adored this piece from a festival artist.


She had a number of other pieces involving yarn that were equally gorgeous. I liked them much more than her abstract pieces.


I think that's the shop dog. Awesome pose, though.

These glass pieces were very cool, as were the large metal sculptures.



The heads of the large metal animals moved.



And I am sure that this chaps the ass of every wealthy resident of Shadyside, right on the main street in the business district.

Almost artistic in its own way, eh?

I may have ranted about this before but Shadyside has changed, and not for the better. When I was much younger, in High School and just after, I hung out in Shadyside a lot. It was a very cool neighborhood, Pittsburgh's biggest known Gay community, and there was a lot of ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic diversity. The shops reflected that diversity. Now it's not like that, it's an overpriced hipster enclave where many people tend to operate under the assumption that 1)their poo does not smell bad, and 2) they are the only people on the planet.

(please don't think I mean this of all residents, I don't, but there is a certain element there of white, entitled, very well off, that treats anyone they perceive as beneath them with total disdain. I mean. I had a woman expect me and my cane to walk off the street to get out of her way. She looked dead at me and just kept coming, so I stopped dead. And made some choice comments, after she had to walk around my poor, fat, crippled ass complaining the whole time. Ha.)

It's really a shame because it's a beautiful place with an awesome 2 business districts and some very arty cool people and interesting houses.



I think part of the problem is that houses within a few blocks of the main drags tend to be very, very expensive (half a million or more) for Pittsburgh, and that does not lend itself to much in the way of diversity. There certainly aren't many students living in Shadyside now, like there were back in the day, and there aren't any jazz bars that I can see, which was something I really enjoyed. But it's not like I support their lifestyle in any way, or they care what I think, so it's all good. Just disappointing.

A couple more random photos and I'll be on my way. I have laundry to put away and sleep to get-I did not get much last night and I expect this to be a long week at work.







Wednesday, August 26, 2009

End of an era

With the death of Senator Edward Kennedy last night, a chapter in American politics comes to an end.

Everyone saw Ted's flaws. He was the only one around long enough to show them. His mistakes were endlessly scrutinized and believe me, in some ugly corners of the Internet, are being breathlessly and joyfully rehashed today. The good grace to allow the man to grow cold in his coffin apparently does not exist.

Joe, John, Bobby, Ted. The princes of what passed for American royalty, what families like the Bushes try to emulate and fail, what conservatives decry and progressives despair to ever see again. People with faults and flaws and humanity, with love and pain and hope in their hearts. People who tried to do the right thing as often as they could, on balance.

Ted Kennedy has always been around in my life. He was a flawed man, but a political giant. He fought tirelessly for the downtrodden, for equal rights for all, for health care, for peace.

From Jezebel

Gender Equity: Kennedy saw the Senate of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972, which aimed to make men and women equal in the constitution. He reintroduced the legislation again this congressional session, but it has yet to make it into the constitution.

Kennnedy championed Title IX of the Civil Rights Act in 1972, which prevented educational institutions from discriminating against women (afterward, colleges and universities integrated, paving the way for women like Sonia Sotomayor and Hillary Clinton to attend Ivy League institutions), as well as requiring equitable athletic opportunities.

Civil Rights: Kennedy saw the passage of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 as committee chairman, which strengthened the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Afterward, then-executive director of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights Ralph Neas said, "Now you see what happens when you have a civil rights champion in charge of the committee."

He was also chief sponsor on the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which addressed intentional discrimination and harassment in the workplace. He was also a key sponsor of legislation by the same name in 2008, which sought to restore civil rights protections stripped by Supreme Court rulings in recent years (like the Lilly Ledbetter case).

Pay Equity: Kennedy worked on the Fair Pay Restoration Act, which sought to restore the rights of women to sue with each discriminatory paycheck, overturning the Supreme Court ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear.

Voting Rights: Kennedy worked on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed equal access to voting as part of the Civil Rights movement. He also worked to add amendments in 1982 that expanded voting access to Native Americans, Latinos, and others who required language assistance.

Affirmative Action: Kennedy helped defeat legislation that would have ended federal affirmative action in 1998 and joined his colleagues in the Senate in filing a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold affirmative action in 2003.

And from Shakesville.

Teddy's legacy, then, is complicated. A man of privilege, who used it cynically for his own benefit. A man of privilege, who used it generously to try to change the world. And maybe to salve his own conscience. Even as he believed fervently in the genuine rightness of his endeavors—and certainly would have, even if there wasn't a scale to balance.

(Both links are very much worth reading-far better than I do here.)

My hope is that his legacy of compassion and fairness will continue in his name, and that the world will never forget that the most flawed of them ended up the most productive. Was his work a gesture of atonement or was it just what he felt was right? We'll never know and it doesn't matter. The world is a more just place because of him, and a far, far poorer place without him.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Maybe Dog is trying to tell you something

The title comes from our corgi girl Miss Lily changing the channel earlier to the 700 club. The Color Purple is one of my favorite movies, and even a big old heathen like me can appreciate a scene like this.

This has been a sort of laid back week. Trying to confront and tame some old financial issues that are holding me back and making my phone ring way more than it should. Trying to keep the old blood sugar under control. Everything status quo if I can get it that way. So far, so good. My only issue has been a big toe that is rather numb and that worries me a bit but it's on the foot of the bad leg, so it doesn't bother me as much as it would on the good leg. I expect nerve issues in the bad leg.

I went to an afternoon Tea on Saturday with some women from the Mensa group. We met at the Purple Rose Tea Room. What a lovely experience! It was my first formal tea sort of thing and I really enjoyed it. The tea room is great, it's an old tailor shop and they have some really interesting and beautiful things around the place, including some vintage handmade lace.





Here's Dana and her Mom, the proprietors.
Sorry, Dana's Mom, I'm crap with names.

(this fiber arts person wants to get some crochet thread and repair this table cloth.)



Here's our group having tea and conversation.

And my lovely friend Pearl at the other end of the table.

Anyway, I hope we can do this again, it was fun. I highly recommend the place too, the tea and the food was amazing. Especially the signature tea, Purple Rose, a black tea with violet essence and rose petals. I took a tin of that home with me and have been drinking it ever since.

This was the only morsel left on the table when we finished.

In fibery stuff, I'm still working on the socks, having turned the heel and working up the cuff. I imagine they'll be done by the end of the week. The raglan tee is moving along. I'm doing my best to guess when to put the sleeves on waste yarn and continue with the body-don't think I'm quite there yet.


Socks really have me spoiled. I have so little patience for larger projects any more.

Today, I'm spinning the merino/silk blend that I got at the Pgh Knit/Crochet fest last Feb.
I'm doing it fine intending to Navajo-ply to preserve the color runs and also to avoid the muddy look that happens far too often with handpainted roving.

In last month's Cookie A knitalong on Ravelry, when I was so frustrated by not getting my pictures posted on time, I actually won a prize! I posted in the "always a bridesmaid" thread there and got picked randomly for this gorgeous sock yarn.


It's from AlphaBYarn on Etsy, and wow, is it ever gorgeous, and a very generous skein at 480 yards.


Check out her shop, the semi-solids are so rich-looking and once I'm solvent again (and have room in my sock yarn stash bin) I'll definitely be getting more.

Well, that's all I got for now. Like I said, trying to maintain status quo and not run out of teaspoons.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brown paper packages tied up with string

Back to craft and other fun stuff after a minute here.

I got an anonymous comment on my last post. I want to address some points this person raised.

"As a woman who is a SAHM by choice I was not offended at all by the ads. My husband and I have been married for 30 yrs and have learned that the secret to a great marriage is laughter."

First of all, let me commend you for being a stay-at-home mom. It's hard work that is generally thankless and unpaid. I applaud women who are willing and able to do this work. Now. The point of my whole post was not the airing of a personal offense to the content, it was a concern with an organization that seems to confuse humor with untrue, harmful stereotypes that hurt both men and women. Yes, I agree completely that a great marriage needs laughter to succeed, but ideally, your spouse should not be the butt of your jokes.

"Just because a woman does not work outside the home and does not generate an income does not mean she lives with a man who keeps her locked up. Care to share your secret for a happy marriage and successful parenting? Do you really think if a man makes a joke about his wife and her shopping that they can not have a successful, equitable relationship?"

I think that a marriage where a man treats his wife like a child who cannot be trusted around shiny objects is destined for marriage hell and eventual failure, yes. As to my "secret" for a happy marriage, I'm not the one getting the 1.5 million plus a year for this schlock, but I'd say it starts with mutual respect and trust and sharing of resources. And actual humor. Not making your wife the butt of your rib-elbowing jokes with your homies.

"Do you also assume that if a man hints that most of his income is spent on his children that he wishes he would have had a vasectomy? Have you never seen the t-shirts saying.. " My child and my money go to ----- university? What parent has not made a comment like that?"

My issue was not a one-off comment or the occasional joke, it was the place of this attitude in the whole series of ads that push stereotypes and unhappiness (as well as penury) as a natural result of marriage and childbearing. It's all about the context, dude.

"I was pleased to read that the ads were written by women .. women who in my view have a sense of humor."

If those ads were indeed written by women, I'll eat my hat. And in my view, they're about as funny as a minstrel show.

At any rate, onward and upward.

We went to the National Aviary, located here in Pittsburgh, on Sunday. It was really cool-I haven't been there since the kids were little. Here's a slideshow. (click through for individual photos or to embiggen)

In crafting news, gads, I haven't posted any crafting stuff in a couple of weeks. I'm knitting on a basic top-down raglan tee for myself, in the round, kinda making it up as I go along. It's got a garter stitch collar and placket like the little baby sweater I made a little while ago but the scale is so much bigger there's really not much comparison otherwise. Hopefully this is something I can actually finish.

I did finish Cosy's Baby Belle sweater. IT IS SO ADORABLE. It almost makes me want a grandchild. ALMOST. No, not really. But it is cute. It makes me wish for a baby girl I can give it to.



I love those little buttons-my mom and I went through her button box and found the perfect match. Both yarns are handspun. The pattern calls for a third yarn for the button bands but I thought that might have been too much considering the variegation in both the main yarn and the trim.


So cute. I love the ruffle.


Last weekend I could not figure out what I wanted to knit. It turned out what I wanted was to spin, so I spun this orange sport-sock. It's thicker than I wanted, but the yardage is good-about 350 yards.



I'm really going through an orange/yellow phase lately.

Also got the first fan lace sock done and started on the second.



The yarn really is terrific, the stitch definition in that riot of colors is way better than I expected. They look like a bowl of fruity pebbles.


Well, I'm cooking a rather elaborate Monday dinner and the rutabaga is calling so I must be off. I'll try to post later in the week if I can.