Tagged again…

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot.
The Houston Chronicles
Kim’s BlogPlanet
Alien

Where am I going…and why am I in this handbasket?
Stumbling Over Chaos

Questions
What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was in grad school for rhetoric and technical writing and was actually involved in a relationship (gasp!).

What were you doing a year ago? Pretty much exactly what I’m doing now, except I wasn’t blogging. It’s a wild life, I know, I know.

5 snacks you enjoy?

  1. Orville Redenbacher SmartPop! Kettle Korn
  2. Brie on Blue Diamond Pecan Thins
  3. Olives (garlic or feta stuffed in particular)
  4. Flourless chocolate cake
  5. Peanut butter M&Ms

5 songs you know all the lyrics to
This is kinda hard, because I don’t necessarily remember that I know the lyrics to any particular song unless I’m singing along.

  1. “The Revolution Starts Now” by Steve Earle
  2. “Mark Rothko Song” by Dar Williams
  3. “America, America” by Libby Roderick
  4. “Statue of Jesus” by the Gear Daddies
  5. “Handcuffed to a Fence in Mississippi” by Jim White

5 things you would do if you were a millionare

  1. Quit my job
  2. Pay off my mortgage
  3. Buy slightly larger (maybe even 800 sq ft!) condo or loft in the same neighborhood – I want indoor parking
  4. Travel in Europe
  5. Bike across the US

5 bad habits

  1. Blowing off exercise
  2. Eating Orville Redenbacher SmartPop! Kettle Korn
  3. Drinking too much wine
  4. Being impatient
  5. Constantly applying Un-Petroleum Vanilla Lip Balm

5 things I like doing

  1. Reading
  2. Knitting
  3. Bicycling
  4. Playing Diablo II in the winter
  5. Hanging out with friends and family

5 things you would never wear, get new, or buy new again

  1. Bell bottoms
  2. Leg warmers
  3. Tube tops
  4. Thong underwear
  5. High heels

Tag 5 people

  1. Ana
  2. “me” from Bermuda
  3. Eileen
  4. Jeanne – even tho she probably won’t play :p
  5. Hickmama

Bambooblock

Jeanne got a picture of me taking a picture of her the other night. Am I glad she just had her camera phone! You’re going to go look at that picture, and all you’re going to have to say about it is “my, what large hands you have there, Chris.”

Bamboozelle is blocking as I type:

Yup, that would be a square Rubbermaid container under there – 680 ml, if you’re particularly curious.

Chaos didn’t particularly care that I finished knitting Bamboozelle:

“Heh. You read the finishing directions yet? Heh. Come back and talk to me when you get through that bit. And where’s the i-cord, eh?”

He was much more interested in tracking down his lost fetch toys:


“I’m sure it ricocheted off my paw into here, but I just…can’t…quite…reach…”

My coworker Rose gave me a very funny book for Christmas: How to Live with a Neurotic Cat. Hmm… wonder what gave her the idea…

Why, yes, that is me reflected in the background (remember the giant living room mirror?).

Bamboozled

Last night I got together with Jeanne for a bit of knitting. Since Jeanne and I have both recently started blogging, we discovered that there are new rituals we must learn – mainly, taking more pictures:

Before I tell you anything else about knitting with Jeanne, I have to provide some backstory. I’ve been working on Bamboozelle from knitty for a Christmas present. The pattern has been fighting me from the very beginning.

I’m not using the Alchemy Bamboo called for in the pattern. True, it’s completely gorgeous yarn, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $28 on 138 yards of yarn for a teeny-tiny basket. Instead, I’m using Southwest Trading Company Bamboo (Fiery Red), which has a lot more yardage, is $14 cheaper, and not nearly as spectacular as the Alchemy Bamboo. The weight of the two yarns is comparable.

After I cast on and started to knit the basketweave pattern, I could tell something wasn’t right. The stitches that slanted to the right looked great, but the stitches that slanted to the left were strangely twisted and not at all like the picture.

I have a fair number of stitch dictionaries, but could only find the “woven basket stitch” in my beloved Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary (well worth the $0.69 I paid for it at the thrift store).

Bamboozelle has this for the right side row:
knit 1, [knit into back of second stitch on left needle, knit into back of first stitch on left needle, slide both stitches off the needle together] to last stitch, knit 1

Mon Tricot provided this for the right side row:
knit 1, [pass right needle behind first stitch on left needle, knit second stitch on the left needle (through the front of the stitch, as usual), knit first stitch on left needle (through the front of the stitch, as usual), slide both stitches off the needle together] to last stitch, knit 1

The Mon Tricot version looked pretty good on the dishcloth I started for testing stitch patterns because the bamboo yarn didn’t hold up well to being ripped out a few times (it started to get very fuzzy).

Back to the bamboo.

The stitch pattern was fun to knit once I got the hang of it, but I couldn’t read while I worked on it. Anyway, I brought Bamboozelle along last night. Jeanne had a scarf that she quickly decided wasn’t the right use for the yarn and so ripped out. Alas, it turned out she didn’t have another project with her, so she was a bit at loose ends (sorry, couldn’t resist the bad pun).

Meanwhile, I was hoping to get the best of Bamboozelle’s bottom shaping. I was completely stuck on the first row and couldn’t get the count even close to right:

K6, [(k1, k2tog) six times, k10] three times, [k1, k2tog] six times, k6. 90 sts rem.

Jeanne eventually took pity on me (I suspect it was just too painful to watch me knit and tink and knit and tink and knit and tink…) and took over Bamboozelle while I pulled a sock project out of my bag. Whew!

She was great! She knit bottom rows 1 – 8 (um, I think – Jeanne, can you please confirm that?!) with no trouble at all. Obviously, she is very gifted and you should all bring your knitting woes to Jeanne to solve.

Onward. I am completely weak when it comes to knitting bags. Sometime I’ll do an entire entry with nothing but pictures of my knitting bags. You will probably want to stage an intervention. Look at this cute little Red Tango bag (perfect for a small project!) that I picked up at Whole Foods a few weeks ago:

Since I only came home with this bag instead of this bag and the 6 others that I also liked, I think I did pretty well.

Here’s a gratuitous shot of Chaos taken with my new camera. Love my new camera! It’s an Olympus Stylus Digital 800 (and no, I didn’t pay anywhere near the suggested retail price).

Yes, Virginia, you can read and knit

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I can read and knit at the same time. In the comments, Carrie K gave me an idea for a blog entry on how I accomplish this (thanks again, Carrie!).

Knitting while reading is a skill that, like any other, can be developed – if it’s a skill that interests you. It appealed to me because I don’t watch TV and I got kind of behind on my reading when I started to devote a lot of time to knitting.

Five years ago, when I first started knitting, I would only listen to music without words while I knitted. Then I graduated to music with words and eventually to books on tape (unless the project required a lot of focus). But most of the books that I wanted to read weren’t available on tape or cd from the library.

When I complained about this problem to my knitting friend Lisa from Duluth, she asked why I just didn’t read while I knit. Um, whoa – because I never considered such a thing possible? I was awed by her ability and sure that I could never do that.

But just in case, I picked up a ReadUpon book holder. (No link provided to ReadUpon.com, since they appear to no longer exist, alas.)

The ReadUpon seemed like it would pretty well for holding a book in my lap while I knitted in my comfy chair.

So I grabbed some large print books from the library and decided that I should start with a very simple knitting project – the miles of i-cord I needed to make for felted bag handles.

It wasn’t immediate. I started out looking at my knitting more than I was looking at the book, but slowly was able to look at the book more than my knitting. I quickly graduated from large print books. The second it took to lift a hand from my knitting and flip a page became no big deal. Soon I was able to read virtually anything while I knitted. And I became able to count things in my knitting while I was reading (which must be good for my brain!), so that I could knit more complicated projects while reading.

I still can’t read while I cast on or bind off or do cables or complicated stitches like the woven basket stitch. But ribbing, seed stitch, and some simple lace patterns go ok. And I get a lot more reading done now. But there’s still one large problem…

“Why the heck are you reading and knitting when you should be playing with me?!”

Added later: Now, really – this was meant to be a rough how-to. There’s nothing special about me except that I wanted to be able to do this and I practiced, starting slowly and simply, then working up to more complicated. If you like to read and you like to knit – it’s definitely worth a shot. YOU can do it. Yes, YOU. If not you, than who? 😉

Some of you may be wondering…

where the heck is the knitting content?!

It’s on its way. Really. Trust me. 😉

Actually, I should have a new digital camera later today, so I’ve been waiting to take more pictures.

Until then, I leave you with this lovely image:

That’s one of a pair of beer cozies I knitted for our department’s white elephant gift exchange several years ago, modeled on an empty beer bottle so the recipient would have some idea of its intended function. It was knitted from some vintage “Orange Ombre” wool I had on hand (can’t remember the brand – probably something fancy like Lee Wards or the like), using this pattern from Knitting Pretty.

Reverse image of a cat

Thinking maybe weekends will be for gratuitous cat pictures…

Meet Diablo, as he hung out by his water dish at my brother’s birthday celebration yesterday. Diablo is Chaos’s brother. If you look closely at his forehead, you can see two pale grey lines. When Diablo was born, those lines were black and looked like horns – hence the name.

Diablo is pretty much the anti-Chaos in every way. Where Chaos is dark, Diablo is light. Where Chaos is bright, Diablo is dim. Where Chaos has a puny tail, Diablo has an even punier tail…

They were very cute kittens, although you can see that Chaos had more space for a brain than did Diablo:

And here’s my all-time favorite picture of Chaos as a kitten – I like to call it “Panther perching in jade, waiting for unsuspecting prey (aka “dust bunny”) to pass”:

Kitten mittens

Well, sorry, “me,” not actually mittens for kittens – the mittens for my sister-in-law became the Tabbycat Mittens when they were felted:

Chaos was very persistent about being in the picture with the felted mittens.

Yes, Chaos finally found poor lost red sparkly mouse, after spending 15 minutes fighting with my boot.

Conversation snippet: “Chaos, why are you wrestling around with your head in that boot?”

[muffled]: “Mraow!”

I did rip out and reknit the end of the longer mitten. For all my fussing and whining, it involved reknitting, um, well…

seven rows.

Moving right along, here’s a pre-felting picture, with one mitten turned inside out to show what Lopi color 9977 looks like in reverse stockinette stitch. Nifty.

Now I have to go scrounge around for odd and freakish items to take to my department’s white elephant gift exchange this evening. I think I still have a felting mishap or two tucked away…

Well, poop

As I mentioned a few days ago, I started working on a pair of felted mittens for my sister-in-law. Many of you are knitters, so you know the excitement I was feeling as I finished those last few rounds on the final thumb. Elation that I was done (particularly with the thumbs – Jeanne and Ana can tell you how much I hate mitten thumbs. I know it’s completely irrational to hate mitten thumbs more than, say, sock heels, but there it is). Satisfaction. Relief that I had so much time before Christmas to felt the mittens and see if my sister-in-law would be getting mittens or the alternate present.

Imagine my dismay when I put the mittens on the table to photograph my triumph, only to notice…

Yup. Those mittens sure aren’t a matching pair. Now, I’m fine with the spiral being different. And I’m completely ok with the thumbs being striped opposite of each other. But what I can’t quite ignore (even when I squinted at them) is that one of the mittens is definitely longer than the other. Or, depending on your perspective – one is shorter. The result is the same. I must rip the longer mitten back and start the final decreases two rounds sooner. I even used a row counter so the mittens would be identical, but…

When I looked at them a bit more, I decided that the shorter (first) mitten also was knit more tightly than the second mitten. What the…? How did that happen? It couldn’t have anything to do with having two soy mochas while I knit the first mitten, but two glasses of wine while I knit the second… could it? Although I suppose that does explain my, um, difficulty with the row counter on the longer mitten and probably also why the spiral changed.

Well, poop. So much for my great triumph.

Chaos listened intently to my troubles… But I think he was just humoring me so he could go back to his bath.

“You did what?”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk.”

“So, I guess you’ll be coming back to the chair to make a lap and fix that problem, eh?”

Art journaling, reading, knitting, and cat parenting. It's a wild life.