Friday, October 31, 2008

oh, HA

Danielle Steel is dressing up as a whoopee cushion for Halloween.

I was already a little bit in love with the book...

...but this line put me over the edge: "Katy had walked into danger the same way Cassie had: on the unmissable off-chance of magic." (from Tana French's In the Woods)*

Holy. Shit.

The unmissable off-chance of magic. Is there is any more perfect way to sum up what has motivated any interesting thing — good or bad — anyone has ever done?

Unmissable. Off-chance. Of Magic. Fucking perfect.

Speaking of which, I went to see Marcus Sakey read last night. I interviewed him over the summer — the only interview to date I've conducted over beers — and like him both as a person and as an author, not to mention that I feel strongly about showing support to writers, especially when I can do it just by showing up. I've been to a lot of this kind of reading and can say, with experience and the word of the friend who went with me to back me up, that it was a singular, one might even say magical, experience. First off, he didn't read. He talked about the book and how he got into crime fiction (because it combines the meatiness of moral quandries with the fun of pistol-whipping) and then took questions. I learned a lot about gang activity in Chicago, including that Chicago gang tags have been spotted around Baghdad because of back-door deals that get gang members to enlist instead of being arrested, that cops actually refer to bad guys as "bad guys," and that not believing in writers' block (lack of evidence of carpenters' block or plumbers' block was cited) may be enough to avoid suffering from it.

Not to mention that his corporate sponsorship meant there were some super-sweet gift bags. Sadly, when I got home I realized that mine didn't have the promised thumb drive, but did contain what very well might be the largest sweatshirt on the planet. So: score!

Another benefit (to me) is that going to readings and dealing with published authors spurs me on to work on my own book. Envy may fall into the mortal sin camp, but it also functions as an excellent barometer, allowing you to recognize that you're seeking change and clarify how you want to be different. Me, I want to finish and publish my book. I want to go places and tell people about it — even more people than I already have! And if some random company wants to give presents to people who show up to listen to me, that would be nice too.

*Michelle posted her favorite line too, which though also excellent, didn't have quite the sucker-punch-to-the-gut effect mine did on me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Today, you will have to read about what I dreamed last night

My internet at home is still down, so I don't have any pictures to show and don't want to talk about stuff I've been making if you can't SEE it.

It was a highly entertaining dream at least.

It opened on me sitting in a paint-your-own-magnet studio*, carefully painting my old roommate's name (Jason) and some flowers on a small, square magnet. I was telling someone nearby that Jason had some very important information that I needed to get from him and I was going to bring him this magnet so he would tell me whatever it was. The person, quite naturally, asked if he really made people bring him a magnet whenever they needed a favor. I said no, but that I was doing it as a sign of respect,** that it would say "I spent my time making this for you; please grant me some of YOUR time in return."***

On my way to meet him, I decided to stop in a cafe and get Jason some of his favorite Nutella pancakes to further soften him up.**** I had to show the waiter where they were on the menu and muttered to myself that I couldn't believe the menu wasn't organized alphabetically.***** I wasn't planning to get anything for myself, but the waiter told me that they had three pudding specials that morning and I got pretty excited because I do love pudding. They were:
1. Suet pudding,
2. Something with a long Spanish name that he said would involve me adding the flour****** myself at the table. It seemed highly suspect.
3. A dish he called "The Sleeve," which seemed to be a tall, narrow plastic bag filled with (possibly) vanilla pudding to which I could add all sorts of dried fruit and candy and whatnot.

I ordered the suet pudding. I thought it might be interesting.

While I waited for our order, I was sitting at a table with a woman who was writing out a list of yarn company names and whispering, "Yes, Tahki. Good." to herself. I didn't feel like talking about yarn and ignored her.

Then the pancakes were ready, so I left and headed off to the gay dance club where we were supposed to meet. It was called Norah's, was located under a bridge and apparently operated during brunch hours.******* I got inside and found him, but woke up before I presented him with my gifts or found out what the hell I needed to know from him.

And then I laughed my ass off and forced myself to remember as many of the details as possible.

And really, I had a pretty quiet night last night, nothing to trigger strange dreams. I went home straight from work, made a quick dinner about which I would post on the other blog if I could have emailed photos, talked to my roommate for a while about his girl troubles while we watched a little baseball and he humored my terrible questions ("They're allowed to bounce the ball off the ground?" "No, it's a weird camera angle."), then he did a dry run for me of a presentation that he had to do for one of his classes today on a theory of literary criticism involving "horizons of expectation." Then he went out and it was pretty much just me on the couch with my knitting and some tea until I went to bed early with a book. Oh, actually, there was also an episode of texting with a quite-drunk ex-boyfriend (at 7:30 on a Wednesday. my taste, it is impeccable.) who announced that he was coming over right away. I told him that I hadn't showered and was already in my pajamas [it was true.] but that I would be happy to make him some hot cocoa if he wanted to watch a movie. Shockingly, he never showed.

** In real life, Jason is extremely handsome, unfailingly polite and quite tall. I'm pretty sure that when my mom met him, she was having visions of our babies until I told her he was gay. The Halloween we lived together, he put powder in his hair and made a credible Anderson Cooper. I ran into him on the subway a few weeks ago and he's as sweet as ever. Apparently in my dream, however, he was the Godfather.
***That's a direct quote. My dreams frequently have a lot of dialogue.
****I don't think he ever mentioned either Nutella or pancakes to me.
*****Because alphabetically ordered menus are the standard?
******? Also: gross.
*******I don't think this really exists.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Planning ahead

I signed up for NaBloPoMo, which I'm looking forward to. I briefly considered doing NaNo again, but decided that a concerted effort into working on the novel I wrote last November would probably be a better use of my time. A blog post every day: that I can do. It'll help add some content here, which will be good because Typepad, it turns out, is a vengeful bitch when scorned, and made all of the archives of my old blog vanish immediately when I cancelled service. I don't care especially — I was after a fresh start, after all — but if I had known they were going to wipe me off the face of the internet, I would have printed out a few posts first. And maybe left the "hey, I'm starting a new blog — email me for the link!" post up for a few days so more than three people would see it. But not being prone to vengeance myself, I never considered the possibility.

I'll pull up the cached pages of the recipes I want to save and put them up on the other blog over the next couple of weeks.

But because the universe seeks balance and sometimes my life is highly entertaining, I got to tag along as the plus one for a friend who does some freelance celebrity reporting. She was covering a swanky charity event at the kind of very cool venue neither of us would ever be at otherwise on a Monday night: free champagne, burlesque performers in vintage lingerie, big bowls of jellybeans, excellent people watching, and a vaudeville-style show that included a sexy Circe de Soleil-ish performance by two guys in Batman and Robin costumes set to "On the Wings of Love," a simulation of oral sex performed more or less by giant puppets, a world-class double-dutch team (seriously, they were doing handsprings while jumping rope) and a duet of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore" between Alan Cumming and some guy whose hair was shaped into horns. I know it sounds like a fever dream, but it's all true.

Otherwise, I've pretty much been hanging out at home and knitting. I think working so steadily on the wedding shawl reprogrammed my brain somehow — I've been a lot less interested in flitting between projects than in applying myself to some of the ones I have in progress and finishing them up. First I'm going to get through the Pimlico shrug, mostly because I've renewed the book as many times as I can at the library and don't particularly want to buy it, but also because I really like it and want to have it around. I just have to finish half of one sleeve and add a couple of inches to the body. Then I'll put it together and do the ribbing about the opening. I know it's kind of worthless without pictures, but our ghetto internet set-up wasn't working this morning and I couldn't email myself any photos.

At the same time, I've also been looking through my stacks of knitting magazines and making notes about what I want to make from them so I can match some of them up with yarn I already have and plan ahead for what I want to make next. Forgive the dismal quality of these pictures; I had intended them to just be for my notes. I put where the project can be found under each photo. I do this every year or so and it's always interesting to see the themes that emerge when I mark potential projects. I love this part, mulling over endless possibilities.

We have long cardigans:
VK Fall/Winter 1986

VK Fall 1989

VK Fall 1989

Lavold book 1

Jaeger book JB20 — I marked a LOT of cardigans with this general shape, but this seemed like the best-fitting and most nicely constructed.

And then there are cabled pullovers:
VK Fall 1994

VK Fall 2007 — not cabled, but enough texture that I'll give it a pass

Interweave Knits Fall 2003 — this is a dead ringer for an old J. Crew sweater I wore to shreds. I've always meant to recreate it...

There are more here, but these are the ones I was interested in enough at this moment to pull into the post.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This just in.

This just landed in my inbox under the subject line "awesomest picture":
I'm pretty sure this is what got everyone so excited.

The wedding shawl in its natural environment

On the bride:

This one shows off the lace pattern and edging quite nicely:

With her husband(!):

With me (I went with the shawl in the end):

And as a scarf the next morning:

Friday, October 24, 2008

What to wear to this wedding?

So, tomorrow night I'm going to the wedding at which the bride is going to be wearing this shawl that I knit for her:
Now I just need to figure out what *I'm* going to wear. I know which dress — it's one I bought last year for another friend's wedding — but not what I'm going to wear with it. I won't necessarily have the jacket or shawl on the whole time, but I definitely want to have an extra layer with me.

My choices are whimsical and possibly ever so slightly demented, definitely a batty old aunt in the making, with a handknit Sgt. Pepper jacket (don't worry about colors; the off-whites all look fine together outside of my closet):
or I can play it a bit safer and go sophisticated and elegant and just a little goth-y with a black lace shawl:
Either way, I'll be wearing black fishnets and heels with it. I'm not going to decide now; will bring both and make a game-time decision once hair and makeup are in place — hot rollers will be involved — but feel free to chime in if you'd like to have a say.

There's a third, somewhat wussier option, which is to wear the shawl to the wedding and bring something along that would go with the Sgt. Pepper jacket for the brunch on Sunday. I'm just not sure that I'm going to be the equal of such an, ahem, aggressive item of clothing so early in the day.

Best Twitter-er ever

Laura Ingalls parody

Maybe it's just because I read all of the books over again in the last month or so and all of the references are as clear in my mind as the water that runs off when the cheese is ready, but this is cracking. me. up.

So many favorites!
  • That lady governor from Seward's Folly spent an awful lot at the dressmakers and still she claims she isn't a town girl. Such nerve!
  • I hope that the De Smet Literary Society shall invite @hodgman to come recite his great knowledge & compete in one of our spelling bees!
  • I know my doll isn't really a doll, just a corn cob wrapped in a handkerchief. So why won't it STOP STARING AT ME?
  • Ma goes on and ON about how Pa could span her waist with his hands when they first married. Bet my hands could span her NECK just fine.
  • Poked my own eye w/ the dash of the butter churn last night. I am a half-pint of idiocy.
  • What a day. I curled my bangs with my slate pencil for this?
  • Anything more than 140 characters is a waste of lamp kerosene anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lumpy sweater and fruit flies

So, I finished the spinster sweater this morning before work. I haven't sewn the underarm seams or woven in the ends. I didn't even have time to try it on before I left but judging by the other night when I did, I think I'm going to need to crochet around the neck to stabilize it.
And it looks totally fine, right? Like a totally fine, normal-person sweater? Not like the insanest piece of insanity that ever was?

You're so sweet.

I didn't have time to take any close-ups this morning, but because both yarns varied so wildly gauge-wise, I kept switching back and forth between doubling the yarn and using it singly and sometimes stranding it when I was working with skeins that varied a lot stitch to stitch. But sometimes I was lazy about keeping everything as close to my magical 3 stitch-to-the-inch gauge as I could and, let's face it, sometimes there was some hot whiskey-fueled complacency to blame too.
So, some parts of the sweater are thick and lumpy and some parts are thin and sad and some parts are just right, but together it's all a bit crazytown.

Also, I took up a long-neglected spinning project recently. A long, long time ago, I decided that I wanted A Serious, Long-Term Project and I bought a head-spinningly gorgeous white Romney fleece from Mary Pratt, which I sent out to be processed because I didn't have the facilities for fleece processing wherever I was living at the time. Then I spun the whole thing, which was five pounds? maybe four?, into singles. I divided the singles into three batches of equal weight and dyed each of the batches a slightly different color: one red, one purple and one blue, the plan being that I would ply them all together for a three-ply yarn of colorful wonderfulness.

However, when the dyeing was done, I realized that while I really liked each of the colors individually, I didn't love them all together. I did some half-hearted plying at the time, so I have two 2-ply skeins of the red, one 2-ply skein of the purple and, for some unknown reason, one Navajo-plied skein of the blue.

I took them all out again recently and realized that I really like the red and purple together, though not with the blue. (although the blue is actually my favorite of them overall.) (Pay attention. There will be a quiz later.) I further realized that the 2-ply of these singles is almost exactly the same as the Lett Lopi I recently recovered from the failed Hex Coat, so now I'm thinking about some sort of extraordinarily cozy cardigan with red and purple colorwork on the yoke.

Here are the three colors, a skotch washed out in the sunlight but not too badly:

In other news, last night, Zoe and I went to see a screening of several science-related short films as part of the Imagine Science Film Festival, which was loads of fun. The best was a documentary about a lab full of scientists in New York that study fruit flies. They waxed positively rhapsodic about how beautiful they are under the microscope and how similar their DNA is to human DNA and how applicable their research is to human cancer research and nerve development and all sorts of other things. Really fascinating stuff. And we had the pleasure of becoming fast friends with a British violinist named Fenella, who was sitting near us and had just arrived in the States for six months. Just a really good night overall, the kind that makes me happy I live here and a good reminder that there's a lot of interesting stuff and interesting people out there and I just need to make the effort to seek them out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

On the whole, her majesty is displeased.

Things that have pleased me in the last, say, 18 hours:
-The post-punk station on Pandora.

-Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate pudding.
I love it so much that I was going to give it a dedicated post, but I'm putting it here instead. Trust me on this one.

-Last night, I had the first hot whiskey of the season: an inch of whiskey in a mug, the juice from half a lemon, a big spoonful of honey, filled to the brim with boiling water. Heaven in a glass and the perfect libation for cool nights in drafty apartments. It also pinkens my cheeks most fetchingly.

-I slept the sleep of the innocents, most likely because of the hot whiskey, and woke up early, alert and refreshed.

-I'm really liking the book I'm reading: In the Woods by Tana French.

Some of the things that have displeased me:
-I tried on the spinster sweater (so named because it's all handspun yarn, and because it seems like a sweater for living alone in a cottage somewhere) and it looks pretty awful, the most unflattering garment this side of high-waisted jeans. It's almost done though, so I'm going to finish it and wash and block it and see if it looks any better. It doesn't really matter, since it'll be warm regardless, but STILL. And it didn't help much with yarn using-upedness, since I still have a lot leftover. WOE.

-There was some weird juju in the apartment last night that led to my roommate's girlfriend starting a grease fire in the kitchen (luckily, it was contained to the pan and eventually burned itself out, but I had a couple of scary moments where I was trying to remember whether you're supposed to throw baking powder or baking soda on a grease fire and then realizing that all of my baking supplies were in the cabinet over the stove and I'd have to reach over the inferno to get either one and kicking myself for continuing to put off getting renters' insurance; the correct answer is baking soda, btw), my roommate knocking over and shattering a large mirror in the living room that we think was left by a previous roommate, and our internet service going down completely this morning, rendering me incapable of making the pictures go from my computer to ALL of the computers.

-Bad Co-worker #3 took home all of the (awesome) leftovers from an office party yesterday that everyone had agreed to split for lunch today. The main thing I was looking forward to was the roast chicken that our Puerto Rican office manager's mother's boyfriend had made, complete with a TOP-SECRET blend of spices. BCW3 didn't even ask, just walked out with the whole trayful last night. Inconsiderate bastard.

-I made an almond butter and jam sandwich this morning to bring to work as a snack and, when I was putting the bread away, realized that all four of the remaining slices were moldy. I looked at my sandwich: no mold. I ate it for lunch anyway (since the lunch I was counting on wasn't there, NOT THAT I AM SUPER PISSED OFF ABOUT THAT OR ANYTHING), hoping that any loose spores would either be benign or beneficial, like taking penicillin in its raw form, and would maybe protect me from the creeping crud that everyone in New York seems to have right now. I don't usually worry about this kind of thing, since I tend to assume that stomach acid will kill off pretty much anything that needs killing, but still. Did I really need to spend a couple of idle moments today wondering if tiny mold creatures were going to multiply and colonize my body, wreaking havoc on any defenseless humans in their path? No. No, I did not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What I did this weekend

The spinster sweater has two sleeves and some length on her now:
I thought I'd use up all of both batches of these yarns by knitting this, but there's still an awful lot in the bag and there's only so long I can make a sweater if I intend to actually wear it. At this point, it's 10" long from the armhole. I don't want it to be longer than 16-17". Maybe I'll make a scarf to match, but with different widths of stripes. It might be right on the edge between zany and insane, but I think it'll stay on the side of the angels.

I finally got around the putting my bucket hat through a load of laundry and it fits perfectly now.
And after:
It's not quite felted, but it's denser and tighter and a bit fuzzier. The pattern is here and the yarn was just odds and ends I pulled out of a bag of scraps. It's three strands of sportweight yarn throughout, mostly merino with one strand of cashmere. I love it. I usually can't stand wearing hats with brims; they make me feel oddly claustrophobic. This one doesn't limit my field of vision though, so it works.

In between knitting and laundry and returning library books like the 80-year-old woman that I am, I went to see the Gothic fashion exhibition at the FIT museum. It's really great. They clearly had a ball putting it together. The exhibition design is super fun, with goth club kids styles behind almost-mirrored glass and a circular grouping behind a spiked fence in the center of the room and props like walls and veils to obscure and reveal the revelers. It could easily have crossed into kitsch, but doesn't. I'll have to go back to read the labels and take a closer look at the clothes because it was really crowded when I was there, but there's time; it's up into February. And so, so worth it if you're in the area.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chandelier t-shirt

I bought this t-shirt in the Halloween section at Target yesterday for $5. I love it beyond all reason.
I love chandeliers as a motif generally, but this one is especially fantastic because it's crawling with spiders and spiderwebs.

One-armed spinster

The Spinster Sweater continues apace. I was hoping, just for the sake of it, to have this finished in under a week — I started last Saturday afternoon — but I don't think that's going to happen. I mean, I suppose it could, but I do have other stuff I want to do this weekend.
This sweater feels like something I would wear if I had a different life. I think it's the rustic nature of it; it makes me think of thatch-roofed cottages and entering my gladiolas in the county fair and wearing a tiara while I hang the laundry out. I'm pretty sure it has transformative powers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Here we go...