Saturday, December 16, 2006

Too much going on!

I've been hesitating posting lately as I've fallen into a sorta non-knitting routine. I'm not exactly sure why, it's just happened. It's not that I don't have the desire, I'm just lacking the follow-through. One culprit could be that we've made a couple of new friends recently and have been spending time hanging out with them. And with the holidays there's always less time, plus work has been exhausting. I've just finished working the third of four 8-hour shifts in a row where I'm manning our optical department by myself. The office I work in is just not conducive to one optician taking care of a four-doctor work-load! Ah well, what can you do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Tomorrow should be a fun day. We're going to drive down to Belfast and have breakfast at a cool vegetarian resaurant. We'll check out the shops in downtown Belfast, too, along with heading to Ocean State Job Lots which is similar to a Big Lots, Odd Lots or Ollies. Lots of cheap junk to sift through and hopefully lots of bargains to be found.

A friend has recently introduced me to the Happy Tree Friends. Have any of you seen it? It's shown on the G4 network (which I'd never even heard of!), but thanks to the internet we can all enjoy this super-twisted cartoon. Yes, it's a cartoon, but it's for NOT children or the faint-of-heart in any way! People I've shown it to have either thought it was hilarious or totally sick. Think of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon on The Simpsons, but more violent and gory. Each episode starts out with one of the cute Happy Tree Friends characters (Giggles, Nutty, Cuddles, etc...) doing something as innocent as attending a magic show, getting a hair cut, or going bowling. But in no time at all, things go horribly, horribly wrong. If your interest is piqued, head over to the website and watch an episode or two. But don't say I didn't warn you! Hehehehee...


Over The Rhine are a wonderful, down-to-earth, super-talented group headed by real-life couple Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler. They live in a big, old farmhouse in Ohio where they recorded this album of original "Christmas" tunes. Though this album is about Christmas, it doesn't always sound like it. Which is why I think I like it so's not preachy about it's holiday-ness! Karin's voice is a revelation and a welcome relief from the traditional schlock out there this time of year. Take a listen to the beautifully melancholy "All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue."

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Christmastime is here...

Well, we've finished all of our Christmas shopping for friends and family, with the exception of one person. What a big relief that is! And as a present for each other, we're going to take a step into the present (or maybe I should say past...) and get cell phones! We've been putting it off for years, complaining everytime we see someone in a restaurant, a movie theater or in their car gabbing away like there's not tomorrow. But I think we just can't deny the sheer convenience of it anymore.

We got our Christmas tree up and it's lit, but undecorated. We are in no rush to decorate it because we both love the simplicity of it as is. But the decorations will no doubt find their way onto the tree eventually! Our house is a gambrel style and has vaulted ceilings over the living/dining area, so we were able to get a fairly tall tree. We weren't, though, able to get one with much width. We managed to find one on our land, out behind the house...after much trudging through the woods and hoping we hadn't crossed onto the neighbor's property!

Ok, well I'm off the do some knitting (gasp!). Yes, for the first time in a couple days I'm going to sit down and knit and hope to show some actual progress. Keep your fingers crossed that I'll actually have something to show by next post!


I first heard Irish-born artist Katell Keineg when I worked at the record store in the local mall back home in PA. We had gotten in a copy of her first album "O Seasons O Castles" for in store play and I was hooked. She has an amazing voice and is one hell of a storyteller. She falls into the folksy singer/songwriter category most easily, but is much more than just that. Get a taste by listening to "Hestia"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A late, post-Thanksgiving post

Thanksgiving!... Being vegetarian we had everything but the turkey. All the good stuff that would normally go with it (and a few non-tradional things) became the star attractions instead. We made stuffing in the crockpot (thanks for the hint Mom!) which came out gloriously tasty and moist, cranberry sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, corn, sauteed kale from our back yard, veggie gravy, and a yummy butternut squash and apple bake. Oh, and pumpkin pie! How could I forget dessert!

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, our friend Diane came over for "Movie Pants Night." What's that you ask? Well... I'm not exactly sure how it started, but somewhere along the line, we started calling our flannel PJ bottoms "movie pants." It had something to do with changing into them to be comfy for watching a movie. So "movie pants night" involved Diane coming over for pizza, some beer and then movie pants and a movie! However, by the time we were ready to watch a movie we had all had a little too much to drink. So instead of a movie, we settled for the Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special which is always a treat. The whole thing is so campy and laugh-out-loud hilarious that we often watch it two or three times each Christmas season.

Not much to report on the knitting front. I have been super busy with work and therefore neglecting the knucks. One is completely done so if I can set aside a few hours I can finish the other one. It's getting to be that time of year so I better get on the ball!

I'll leave you with a picture of one of our dogs, Tully. You can see that she's thinking "ME?! Digging in the yard? What makes you think I was doing that?!"


This is Belly's second and, sadly, last album. It wasn't as radio-friendly as some of Star was and didn't have a copycat single to match "Feed The Tree." But there are plenty of great moments here such as "Now They'll Sleep." Plus Tanya Donelly has carried on as a solo artist and has a new album coming out in December called "This Hungry Life."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

...or at least it's getting there. We went from warm and rainy last week to dry and cold this week. Which is why I've started myself a pair of "knucks" as seen on knitty and popularized by Matt and Micah. This pattern is made from the fingers (which only go to the first knuckle to allow you to use your fingertips!) down to the cuff, the opposite of the only other pair of gloves I've made. So far I like this method much better.

The first thing the pattern calls for is making all the fingers individually and putting the stitches on scrap yarn until ready to use. So here is a picture of my hand with only the "fingers" in place.

Doesn't look like it'll add up to much, huh? From here you have to take each individual finger and place it on two needles in preparation to join them all together. Here's what that looks like...

From here you knit in the round down the length of the hand, stopping along the way to add on the thumb that's been waiting patiently on the side this whole time. Here's what mine looked like a few rounds after adding on the thumb. (Look Jaci, I'm using the lovely stitch markers you made and sent my way...thanks again!)

I just started this one last night and hope to have it done before bed tonight. Then I can start on the other one tomorrow and hopefully have the pair done by Thanksgiving weekend. If you're looking for a slightly challenging (but not hard) and fun to make pair of gloves, I'd definitely recommend giving these a try.

LISTENING TO: TYRO - "Audiocards"

Tyro is made up of Katie and Skip, both originally from the now-defunct, but ever-terrific Toenut. Tyro carries on the basic themes presented by the first band with a bit more electronic manipulation thrown in for fun. If you like early B-52's, you may like these guys too as they have a similarly twisted sense of humor and off-kilter harmonies to boot. Here's a sample of the Tyro track "Blameless."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Celebrity In Our Midst!

Congratulations must go out to Michael for the fantastic job he did on his book...what an accomplishment!

Everything, from the well written text to the layout, from the knitting instruction to the illustrations and photos, looks great! I haven't had a chance to actually sit down and read it from cover to cover (yet) but the patterns look super and I know I will be making many of them. But which first? Hmmmm...

On this Halloween night, I thought I might watch a scary movie. Now I don't crave the gore-fests that my friends and I used to live for back in high-school, but I do still like the occassional, well-done, scary movie. And tonight seems perfect for just that. I have a few that I was thinking of popping in, but I think I'll settle on "High Tension."

This is one I haven't seen before and I really don't know much about it. But after hearing some good buzz, and seeing it on sale for a mere 5 bucks, I decided to pick it up.

My only hesitation about watching this by myself relates to the time that my friend Royce was up for a visit over Thanksgiving. Royce is one of the aforementioned friends from high school with whom I used to watch scary movies. So even now when we get together, we easily fall back into that pattern. He brough a bunch of movies with him and we started off with the easy lead-in of Shaun Of The Dead, which, if you've seen it, you know is more comedy than anything. Then we jumped into the new version of Dawn Of The Dead. This was actually pretty scary in parts, especially the opening sequence. Right as this was ending, we hear a loud couple of thumps on the front door. We both looked at each other and froze.

Now we're both sensible adults, but with it being dark out, living in a very rural area and our adreneline pumping from the movies, this all added up to zombies trying to get in! So we made our way over to a window where I could peek out and see two individuals dressed all in black waiting at the door. Yikes! I motioned for Royce to follow me to the door for "back up". I worked up the nerve to answer the door and the indivudual on the right launches into his pre-rehearsed speech on the Kingdom of Heaven. I have to tell you I have never been so happy to see a Jehovah's Witness in my entire life. I politely declined any further information or pamphlets and Royce and I headed back to the living room for a good laugh and our next movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.


Sonic Youth's sound started to gel on "Bad Moon Rising", their third proper release (not counting the strictly-for-the-rabid-fan-curiosity, "Sonic Death"). The songs are full of dischordantly chiming/grinding guitars and Thurston's pseudo-beat poet lyrics. Kim takes lead vocals on a few tracks as usual, including the apropos "Halloween."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Windy Weekend

The weather made a bit of a turn this weekend. We went from relatively mild weather to down in the low 40s with really strong winds. They were calling for gusts up to 65 MPH, but I'm not sure that we actually reached that. Though it was strong enough to knock over a stand with a heavy potted plant in the back yard!

I avoided catastrophe just a while ago with my new socks. Actually, let me back up just a little. I started the socks in the same way I always do, thinking that after the leg was finished I would make a heel flap, turn the heel, pick up the gusset stitches, decrease back down to my normal number of stitches and carry on with the foot.

Well about halfway through knitting the leg, while perusing my "Sensational Knitted Socks" book, I decided maybe I should try a different heel. I decided on the traditional turned heel without the heel flap. So this afternoon I started working on the new style heel and didn't get very far into it before I figured that I had made a few mistakes. Plus I realized that I wouldn't be able to carry on with my K2 P2 ribbing down the top of the foot like I wanted to without some extra fancy figuring that didn't seem worth it. I was instead going to go back to the original plan.

The only problem is that this meant I'd have to either tink or frog back to where I had started. I chose to frog. I must say that I am no expert at frogging and then inserting my needle back into the loose stitches. In fact I have a huge phobia about doing it! But I tried it. I got about half of the stitches back on the needle when the other half, from me manipulating the fabric, started slipping/pulling through the previous row. Here I stopped to take a breather...

Then it dawned on me that I had seen a video on Amy's site. It's an alternative to what I had tried to do and it's titled "Inserting a needle into destination row, before unraveling" (look under the "Fixing Mistakes" header...) She basically shows how you can insert your needle into the fabric below the active stitches. Then when the needle (or needles in my case) is in place, you can frog back to where you inserted your needle(s) and you're ready to go.

Well, I tried it and it worked like a charm. Woohoo! A big thank you goes out to Amy. Without that video I fear I would have been frogging the whole thing and that would have made me very sad, not to mention cranky!!

So anyway, here's the sock as it is now, back to how it looked before the heel fiasco...

If you get a chance, head over to my friend Ruth-Anne's site and say hi. She just started a blog of her own and has some shots of the hats and socks she's been working on lately. Very fun stuff! Ruth-Anne and I used to work together here in Bangor, but she's sinced moved out to Colorado...even though I told her she wasn't allowed to go! Can you imagine the nerve?...


I've been listening to this a lot lately with Halloween right around the corner. Siouxsie's dark and icy voice is in top form and musically and lyrically it's definitely one of their darker albums. A perfect fit for the season! Take a listen to the terribly appropriate "Halloween."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another visit down, one more to go

Well, the visit with my parents went really well. We had a nice time touring around Bangor, Ellsworth and Bar Harbor. We also knew that my Dad, hating to be still for too long, would need a project of some sort. So, he helped us with the bathroom that we are re-doing. We ended up getting the new sink on (a lovely 'beige' granite top) and the new lights installed.

Though we probably would have preferred a whole different set up for the lighting, we decided not to worry about re-wiring anything and just replaced the two old lights with newer, more modern looking ones.

Not too much to report on the knitting front. I'm all done with Sock Wars, having gotten my socks out to their intended target. I had a fun time and met a couple of really nice people in the process. So, having one war under my belt, I look forward to next year's. I just hope I'll get a little further next time!


The new Severed Heads disc is finally out AND it comes with a bonus disc called "Over Barbara Island." The sound of the first 9 tracks varies but seems to be taking a cue from some earlier SH albums like "Cuisine" and even "Come Visit The Big Bigot." The last 5 tracks are an instrumental 'suite' as are all eight of the tracks that make up the second disc. Great stuff all around, I'm very impressed! Definitely for fans of electronic music with a sense of humor and a bit of patience! Try them on for size here...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Super Busy Week

Well, Sock Wars is now behind me, but despite the fact that I don't have the pressure of a pair of socks needing to be knit, I'm still having a really busy week. Work has been crazy and we've been getting the house ready for my parent's visit. They will be coming in tonight and staying through Tuesday. So I probably won't be able to knit during that time as we'll be too busy running around, eating and playing games! But I hope to have some kind of update here next week. Hope you all have a great weekend! Ken

Thursday, October 5, 2006

It's official, I'm "dead"...but oh, the goodies!

I made the walk to the end of the drive to get the mail this afternoon and there was the package I've been waiting for. My Sock Wars socks! I had fair warning that they were on their way and therefore knew of my impending doom. But this sealed it. So while that's sad news, the good news is that Jaci from Wisconsin, who was my assassin, sent me all kinds of goodies along with the socks she made! So without further ado, here is a look at the wonderful care package that she put together.
First, here are the great socks that she made. The color is super and I was even wearing a t-shirt of that same color today!

And here's everything that accompanied them...a bar of scented soap this is so yummy you could eat it(!), a bottle cozy (which Mark immediately took from me and put to use on a bottle of Sam Adams!), some "orange citrus" lip balm (all from Leinenkugel's Brewery in Chippewa Falls, WI), Silver Springs honey dijon mustard/mayo spread (from Eau Claire, WI), a ball of yarn that I can't wait to cast on for some socks, and some wonderful stitch markers that Jaci made herself!

I can't begin to tell you how excited I was, like a kid at Christmas! Thanks Jaci for being so thoughtful, you made my day!! I really appreciate all the trouble you went to! Oh, and I still have about a third of the second sock that isn't done, so according to the rules I guess I'll be sending them your way to finish...that is, assuming you're still in the game?

In other news, I worked on the bathroom today. Last weekend I tore down all the wallpaper. Surprisingly this task wasn't as terrible as I had been warned it would be. There were definitely areas that were troublesome, but all in all I was pretty happy with how it peeled away. Today I went back and did some patching and cleaned the walls and ceiling in preparation for the paint. A much needed facelift for an outdated bathroom.

As an aside, a while ago I got an audio book from Mardens, which is a large surplus and salvage store up here. Kind of like a Big Lots, Odd Lots or Ollie's if you're familiar with any of them. The book is called Clubland and is a well-researched, journalistic look at Michael Alig, his rise to fame as the "King of the Club Kids" and his eventualy involvement in the murder of Angel Melendez. This lead me to rent Party Monster which is a movie based on those true events. It's all a pretty interesting, though sick and twisted, story. The movie was fairly entertaining and it was fun to see Macaulay Culkin all grown up and back in action as Alig, but Seth Green as James St. James really carried the movie. Plus, Dylan McDermott was in it and he's just plain hot!

LISTENING TO: DEAD CAN DANCE - "Within The Realm Of A Dying Sun"

Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry fill their third album with a sense of foreboding, mystery and beauty. They've made many stylistic changes since their debut and by this time have set aside most traditional rock instruments in favor of classical ones. The Gerrard-sung "Summoning Of The Muse" is a particular highlight.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Corn Chowder... And My Imminent Demise

Matt has requested, on behalf of his vegan wife, the recipe for the yummy Vegan Corn Chowder that I mentioned in the last post. So without further ado, here it is!



2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups water
2 cubes veggie bouillon
3 cups corn, fresh or frozen
6 medium red potatoes, cleaned and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cups soy milk
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and celery; cook until just slightly golden. Stir in carrots and garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly golden.

2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in bouillon and reduce heat to medium. When bouillon is dissolved add corn, potatoes and the vegetables from the skillet. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Add more water if necessary.

3. Reduce heat to low and pour in 1 cup soy milk. Stir soup well, then stir in remaining 1 cup soy milk. Quickly whisk in flour. Stir in parsley, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until chowder thickens, about 15 to 20 minutes.


-The potatoes could be peeled, but I chose not to. The red skins looked nice with the yellow of the corn and the green of the celery.

-I used 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes which made a pretty hot soup. If you don't like a lot of heat, cut it back to 1/4 tsp. But if you really like heat, kick it up above 1/2 tsp.

I really liked this recipe and if you try, I hope you will as well!

I got news from my Sock Wars 'assassin' ('Hi' to Jaci in Wisconsin!!) that she has finished my socks and they will be sent out soon. I am only about 75% done with my 'target's' socks ('Hi' to Joanna in Texas!) which I'll continue with tonight. In any case, I know that I am ultimately 'dead.' But that's ok, I wasn't in it for the glory...just for the fun, and of course, the consolation prize...a pair of socks! Oh and Don had asked what kind of yarn the socks were made with. Both colors used are Sirdar 'Country Style' DK weight yarn. The shot above is of the progress so far. As you can see from the picture, the instructions for the "International Sock Of Doom" make a sock with a short leg. That isn't something I'd normally chose in a sock, but it was actually a nice feature in a knitting contest!


This band from Portland, Oregon makes catchy pop music that some might think is a little too smart for it's own good. Colin Meloy leads the band through a great album of what could best be described as 'literary pop.' Who else could fit a line like "Medicating in the sun with pinch doses of laudanum, longing for the old fecundity of my homeland." into a modern rock song? Listen to a sample of the lead track from the album, "Leslie Anne Levine" and see what you think!

Monday, September 25, 2006

The War Is On!

I got a late start on my Sock Wars socks. But I happen to have today off which works out well. So I have gotten a little over halfway through the first one and have actually started a bit on sock two as well. Below is a pic of sock one in progress. I'm doing this one on two circulars (like the last pair I made) and it's coming along nicely.

When you have a moment, head on over to Mima's site. He has some pictures of the incredibly involved and detailed sweaters he has done. Very beautiful work. He mentioned that I inspired him to try his first pair of socks! In likewise fashion, I hope to start a sweater soon and take some inspiration from him!

Yesterday was a cool and rainy day and I decided it would be a good day for soup of some sort. I found a couple of recipes for Corn Chowder online and picked what looked to be the best two. I then took what I liked from each of them, combined and modified them and made a new recipe which turned out to be a definite keeper. It's even vegan! (I'm not vegan, at least not yet, but I am a strict vegetarian that has considered, and is leaning towards, veganism. So anything that I can make vegan is that much more appealing!). Now I just have to see if I can remember how it all came together so I can type up a copy of the recipe to keep!

Well, back to sock-ing. More later!


This great little band from Utah have been around for over ten years now, mostly and unfortunately slipping under the radar. They have a wonderful frontperson in singer/songwriter Amy Greetham who bears a similarity to The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler. Check out the sublime "I Walked Away" and see what you've been missing!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sock Warrior!

I am a Sock Warrior! I sent in my request to join Sock Wars a little close to the deadline so I wasn't sure if I made the cut, but it looks like all's well and I'm 'in.' This bit of good news made it neccessary to make a trip to the LYS. I headed over there after work and was browsing around a bit when I was approached by one of the ladies who works there. I've only been there a few times and had not yet met this employee. Her name was Marlene and she asked if I needed help finding anything. I told her I was looking for DK yarn to be used for socks. "I need it for this online contest I've joined," I said. Her head spun around to look at me and she said, "Sock Wars?!" "Yes! You, too?" I asked. "Yes!" she said. It was such a funny moment. It felt like bumping into a long-lost sibling and having this instant sense of recognition. So I told Marlene that I'd check back with her once the contest started to see how we're both doing. I imagine I'll get killed off pretty quickly, but in the end we are all rewarded with a pair of socks and you can't beat that!


You could easily dislike Daniel Johnston for his lo-fi music, his akward phrasing, or his often tuneless singing. Or you could say that he's only gotten attention because of his bouts with mental illness. But if you dig a little deeper, behind all that is a talented songwriter who courageously expresses himself with raw honesty and a sense of humor. In my book this earns him as much if not more respect than all the "professional" singer/songwriters out there. Here's a snippet of the first track, "Grievances."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Knitting, Uploading, Stacking, Etc.

I must say that I had a really good day today and decided to stay home and work on a couple things. So I broke out the second clog and knitted away at that while sitting in front of the computer, loading CDs into iTunes for use on my iPod! Here is a shot of it in it's cool iFrogz skin, which I would highly recommend.

I must say that I held off on getting an iPod for a long time, but now that I finally got one, I love it. I use it on the way to and from, and even at work. So today I got all my Shonen Knife, Magnetic Fields, and a good portion of my Fall CDs done. And in doing all that I got the clog done...yaaaayyy! Here's a pic of one knitted/felted and the one I just knitted.
After that, I had lunch and relaxed a little before heading out to work on the woodpile. Last Tuesday we had three and a half cords of wood delivered for the upcoming winter season. So now we have to find a place for it all! We have an area that the previous owners set up just for that purpose. It has a roof that is built off of the back of the garage and holds a decent amount of wood.

Then I started a stack between two trees in the backyard. The work went pretty quickly and we ended up with a pile as tall as me.

But as you can see from the pic below, we still have a lot of wood left! Not that that's a bad thing! Even with all that wood, I'm sure we'll need to order some more before the winter's over.

Here are a few shots of some of the goodies that we grew ourselves. Along with the peppers...

and sungold tomatoes...

we also grew a lettuce mix, kale, jalapenos, squash and cucumbers.
I want to take a minute to say "Hi!" to Ruth-Anne. I've gotten a few emails from her letting me know that she has made it safely to Colorado and even has a few interviews set up already...woohoo! Good luck Roofy, I miss you!

If you've never heard of Shonen Knife, they are made up of three Japanese women who play Ramones-ey punk/rock with a twist. Their songs are full of references to Japanese culture and are usually pretty silly in nature. This, their 8th album, is full of fun songs. This time many of them are about food such as "Banana Chips," "Sushi Bar," and "Hot Chocolate." And they end it all with a cool version of "Daydream Believer!"

Monday, September 4, 2006

Dorodango Danger!

Well, my unplanned but exciting exploration into the world of dorodango is done for this weekend. I had such a good time playing in the dirt and mud and learning the process. By my third attempt, the shaping got much easier and I fell into an easy rhythm that was really quite meditative in nature.

There were only two bad sides to this. One is that I got almost no knitting done over the past two days! But I will get some done today and am still hopeful about getting the rug done. The second bad thing is that none of my dorodango made it through the whole process without cracking...argh!

Above is a pic of my third attempt, the best one. Here it is looking lovely before any cracking had started. At this point I thought it was finished and would possibly just need to cure a bit over the next couple days. I set it aside on a soft "bed" of cloth to do just that. But when I looked at it late last night before going to bed, I noticed this...

I'm not positive what caused this but from what I can gather it is most likely one of two things. The first reason could be that I didn't allow enough time between some of the steps to assure that enough moisture was drawn out. If you finish the process with too much moisture inside, it will still eventually dissipate but the inner core will shrink, leaving a gap between it and the outer layer which can lead to something like the pic below (not mine, thankfully, but an extreme picutre of what can go wrong!).

The second reason why the cracks might have formed is from polishing the outside too much. I know this is what happened with my first one since it cracked while I was polishing it! It might even be what happened with the second one. But I made a special effort to do a very minimal amount of polishing on number three. So if I had to guess, I'd say the reason it cracked was from too much moisture trapped inside. Since these were my first attemps, I was eager to move along to each next step and probably rushed the process a bit. But I will definitely try these again as they were big fun. I actually found myself thinking about where I could get some different kinds of soil that would produce different color dorodango. Hey, if any of you have interesting soil near you (very pale, very dark, red, etc...) and want to send a little my way, let me know!

As for the knitting, I don't have too much to show you, but I will anyway, just to prove that there has been some progress! Here is one of the two sides of the bear head, in progress. It doesn't look like much now, but we'll see what happens when all the appropriate parts are sewn together!

I guess it for this update. I shall now head off to do some cleaning which will leave me free to concentrate on the knitting. Hopefully more progress pictures later in the day (fingers crossed!)

LISTENING TO: TRAILER BRIDE - "Whine De Lune" I'm not much into any kind of country music, but along with Tarnation, this alterna-country band are an exception. They create some of the most atmospheric, spooky, back-woods music you'll hear. Melissa Swingle leads the band with her lilting southern voice singing songs of love, loss and she plays the saw! How cool is that?

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Saturday, Part 2

As mentioned in this morning's post (see below), Sean the WoolGatherer is in big trouble. I not only put aside my knitting to try making a dorodango, but I actually tried three! I figured I'd probably screw one up (which I did), so I'd wanted another one (or in this case two) as a back-up. So I spent most of the afternoon in the yard with a shovel and a bucket, digging up dirt, making mud and forming it into balls. Why, you might reasonably ask? Well, when I first read about them on Sean's site, it reminded me of something I would have done as a kid. I had a great friend growing up named Julie. She lived across the street from me and we both loved trying fun stuff like this. Kind of like when we used to take hammers, pulverize different color stones and make face paint by adding water to the dust! If we had heard of dorodango as a kid, we would have certainly spent days on end making them. So it was just fun to feel like a kid again, sitting out in the yard with a pan of dry dirt, rubbing it into the surface of a ball of mud! And I did have a lot of fun doing it.

As for the pictures...the first shot shows three of them in progress. The one on the left is two steps into the process, the one in the middle was one step further, and the one on the right was one step further yet. The one on the right is also the one that I screwed up during the second to last step of the process. While lightly polishing the surface a huge crack started and then it split in half. I guess I was rubbing too hard...argh! But the other two have successfully made it through that step and are just awaiting the final "capsule" which I'll do tomorrow. After that is done, they'll have a lot more shine and will gain even more over the two following days. Or so the instructions say! I'll post more pictures as they progress.

So now I'm off to do a few errands, then back to work on the knitting for sure! Oh and Sean, you're off the hook...but only because I had so much fun!


It's a beautiful, sunshiney day here in Maine!

Today begins what I hope to be a very productive three-day knitting weekend. As mentioned previously, the goals are to finish the Bear Skin Rug and the second of the two Clogs. I'm feeling good about it and think I'll be able to get it all done...woohoo!

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging comments about the spinning. I've by no means given up on the learning process, just set it aside for a little until I'm able to get some hands on instruction. And actually, I'm sure I'll still pick it back up before that and play around some more.

Well, Sean "tagged" me so below is my version of the book list...

1. One book that changed your life: Reiki: The Healing Touch by William Lee Rand. Being a Reiki practitioner and knowing the effect it has had on my life, this indispensable guidebook would have to be the one.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. One of the most bizarre, disturbing, and funny books I've ever read. I've read it three times but feel like I'm due for another trip back to the carnival.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: House Of Leaves by Mark Danielewski. I don't think I could ever get bored by this one. Not only is it a long and involved book, but it's one that grabs you and doesn't let go. Plus it's scary as hell.

4. One book that made you laugh: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. He's the brother of the hilarious Amy Sedaris (Strangers With Candy). Enough said.

5. One book that made you cry: The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman. An unusual choice for this category perhaps, but there is a scene of such heartbreaking loss that I remember openly weeping while reading it.

6. One book that you wish had been written: The Complete Illustrated Guide To Life And How To Not Fuck It Up.

7. One book you wish had never been written: Scientology by L.Ron Hubbard. Call me crazy, but I tend to think that a hugely profitable and powerful "religion" based on the musings of a modern day science fiction writer is a little silly, not to mention scary. Plus it involves aliens! Though one good thing has come of it....Tom Cruise's career is looking shaky. Thanks L. Ron!

8. One book you're currently reading: The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Well, actually I'm listening to this one, but I did originally read it a few years ago. It's such a wonderful story that it's worth revisiting.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki Murakami. I picked this one up at a used book sale at the local library. Oddly enough I had just read a review of it that same morning so it seemed like fate.

10. Tag 6 people: Ok guys, I picked some of you that I thought might actually try this yourselves (though what do I know? NO pressure by the way): Matt, Don, Jason, Mel, Sean (WG), and Dave.

P.S. Sean of WoolGatherer fame is in big trouble. He mentioned on his site about this Japanese technique of using mud to make these shiny spheres called Dorodango. Why is Sean in trouble? Because he's given me something new that I'm going to need to try! It looks like a very interesting process and I think I'll enjoy playing with the mud, just like I did as a kid!

LISTENING TO: THE FALL - "Fall Heads Roll" Probably my favorite band...well, at least in the top three (it's so hard to commit to just one favorite!). These guys have been around since the late 70's and their music is a valid and important today as it was then. Mark E. Smith has been the only constant through 40-some different lines ups over 30-some albums (and that's not counting the compilations and live albums). His obtusely poetic lyrics and distinct Mancunian-accented singing are the defining feature of this amazing band.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Giving up already?

Not quite yet...I'm speaking of course about the spindling. So far I've tried it three times, devoting about 4 or 5 hours of practice over three nights. My first attempt went fairly well and despite a lot of 'first-try' mistakes I was pleased with the almost immediate results. I was actually able to spin some yarn...lumpy and uneven yarn, but near the end there appeared to be hope. The second try (see pic) was more of the same except for the last 5 to 10 minutes when things seemed like they were starting to click...the drafting was feeling smooth and natural and the single I was working on looked pretty uniform. This had me excited for the third session which I was sure would go as well or even better, but didn't. In fact that only lasted about 15 minutes before I got too frustrated. It was like everything that had started to come together at the end of the second session was nowhere to be found for the third. At that point I decided to lay it all aside and work on some knitting instead. So I think it's time for me to seek some outside help! I was in touch with Cityside Yarn and they gave me the number of a local woman who gives lessons in spinning on a drop spindle. I'll give her a call soon and see if I can set something up. Until then I'm just going to concentrate on the knitting.

In fact that leads me to my plans for Labor Day. My big goal is to finish the bear skin rug. I've been dragging this project out forever and it's time for some closure. I'll have three days to do it which is much more than enough. And if I have some extra time, I'd also like to finish the last clog. That would then allow me to pick up the yarn I got a while ago and start the lace shawl! But I'm getting ahead of myself... if nothing else, I will finish the rug... I will finish the rug... I will finish the rug...

So Ruth-Anne has left me. Some of you may recognize that name as one belonging to my co-worker, friend and knitting accomplice. She has always said that after both of her kids were graduated from high school she'd do something for herself. And that apparently has to involve her moving to Colorado! Not that I blame her. She has the freedom to make the move and the help of a friend who already lives there. He's even invited her to stay with him while she settles in and and looks for work. Hell, I'd do the same thing if I were single and in her situation. Though I'll really miss her, I know that she's going to have a great time out there. And of course we'll keep in touch. After all she did promise to buy me stuff at Lush and mail it to me to save on their own super high shipping costs!

LISTENING TO: GENE LOVES JEZEBEL - "Immigrant" This is GLJ's second album which was in my opinion largely underrated. Granted, it was hard to top "Promise" but there were plenty of great songs here..."Stephen," "Shame," and "The Rhino Plasty" are all GLJ classics. If only the brothers Aston could have kept the momentum going and the group together!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Socks and Spindles

As you can see by the progress bars on the right, I am now finished with the Alpaca socks! It took me forever, not because they were hard, just because I was being bad and neglecting them. But they're done, they're on and they're keeping my toes toasty as I type. I ended doing them both using only continental knitting. This is the first project I've felt good enough about my continental knitting skills to do so and I'm quite pleased with the results. I ended up really liking the fluid nature of it and will likely continue on with it.

I've also gotten a head start on the second clog. If I'm lucky and can sneak in a bit of knitting here and there, maybe I'll get them done this weekend. They really don't take too awful long, they just require quite a bit of concentration, especially for the soles.

Over the last weekend I was reading through Sean's blog and about how he's taking spindling classes and learning to spin yarn using a drop spindle. The whole idea of that sounded really interesting and fun, so I did some research online about the process, the many variations of spindles and kinds of yarn you can spin on them. It was then then I got that all too familiar feeling, that feeling of no turning back, the tiny pangs of pre-obsession building in my belly before I'd even held a spindle in my hand. My curiosity has been piqued and I knew I'd have to give it a try myself (I'm guessing a few of you are probably wired similarly...).

The first thing I did was contact Sean to get some advice on how to begin. Let me tell you, he is the nicest guy and offered all kinds of helpful tips to start me on my way. While at work I called the LYS (Cityside Yarn Co. here in Bangor) to see if they had any inexpensive wool roving I could experiment with. They did and I headed over after work to buy some. Though I had planned on making my own spindle to play with before investing in one (thanks for the suggestion, Sean!), they ended up having a kit that had an inexpensive bottom whorl Ashford spindle, an 8 oz bag of wool roving and instructions. After talking for a bit with Cheryl at the shop about spinning and the possibility of getting hooked up with a spinner there for some lessons, that's what I ended up getting. So after wrapping things up here, I'm headed off to play with my new spindle! I hope to have some pictures to share with you soon of my first attempt. It will most likely be laughably bad, but that's part of the fun of learning something new, right? Anyway, wish me luck!

LISTENING TO: ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN - "Ocean Rain" Arguably their finest album, it serves as a kind of bridge between their early and later styles, while leaning a bit heavily on Ian McCulloch's overly dramatic vocals. This was the Bunnymen at their creative best. Full of great playing and unusual instrumentation, it's a cohesive, daring record with nary a clucker on it.