Archive for April, 2012

My Mother-in-Law has an old, battered bookcase which has been holding paint cans in her laundry room for some time now.  It’s a funky-ugly thing which someone obviously tried to ‘art’ up at one point, made of particle board and dotted with black and white spray paint.

She is redecorating her guest room with a flower theme and, being a resourceful and creative woman she has decided to refinish this shelf.  She gave me a chance to help, and the two of us just jumped in and started to do it, with more enthusiasm than forethought (neither one of us has done something like this for a while.

She found a Colorbok garden pattern pack (sorry, the company website is hard to navigate and I couldn’t find a good link there) and we were both so excited by the idea of decoupage that we just jumped in and started.  I know it sounds foolish, but the colors are so fun!

So we jumped in and covered the top and sides with lovely floral images.  We were both very pleased with the results.

Once the first layer of papering was done, we began to discuss what we would do with the inside.  Our first thought was just to continue the decoupage, there was plenty of paper, after all.  BUT…  the bookcase has pegs on the insides to hold shelves.  We’re going to need to paint at least a little bit (because that black and white just won’t work with the floral look she’s going for).  I found some painters tape she had in the basement, and we covered the edges and started on the inside. So far we’ve got a layer of mad swirls in yellow over blueish.  It’s somewhat translucent, so the black and white mottling comes through.  I’m not sure what I think, it might be good, might be bad (the picture didn’t come out, so I can’t ask your opinion).

So here it sits.  We’ve begun discussing what sort of trim to use (we’ve discussed rick rack and ribbon, but I’m beginning to speculate on found objects).  I’d definitely be open to suggestions.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Knitbot Essentials giveaway from Quince and Co, the Hypocrite Sock Yarn giveaway from Lantium ex Machina, Sandra Singh’s Spring Maple Shawl Kit, the Knitting Project of the Day Submission Contest, or the Yarn Madness giveaway.

I’ve entered Mariknits Name This Shrug contest (1 May) – though honestly I think a better one was posted before mine, the April Giveaway from A Year at the Wheel (April 30)

Coming Soon – I’ve got something different planned for my 100th post!


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I’ve started reading again

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things.  I was wondering whether one of the poems in that might work for the young man I was tutoring yesterday, if I should have him again next week (I volunteer), as he should probably be working on summarizing and pulling the ‘main idea’ out of a work.  I might try it, if he’s a comic book fan and has at least heard of Sandman.

Not that I think Gaiman’s inaccessible, but I don’t want to miss the mark completely.  Many of these students are (or claim to be) as ignorant of pop culture as they are of what I would view as the educational staples.  A poem about alien invasions, zombies, genies and multiple apocapolishould be fun, but I can see (intellectually at least)  how it might not work for everyone.

But this got my brain hopping again.  I once heard someone say that Sandman was the first sympathetic portrayal of Death personified.  Easily dismissed, as Sandman began it’s run in 1988, and Death didn’t even show up until the next year. Terry Pratchett’s Colour of Magic came out in 1983.  Although DEATH is f nowhere near as cute and cuddly as Death, he’s clearly a nice enough guy.  Incidentally, Alan Dean Foster’s On a Pale Horse also came out in 1983.  His Death is much more accessible than Pratchett, as well as being the protagonist, I would even admit that he’s a nice enough guy, but I really like DEATH as a character.

Peter S. Beagle came in years before that, in 1963, with his short story “Come, Lady Death“.  As always, I can’t say enough good things about Peter S. Beagle.  Gaiman is the only author who comes close to creating dreamy worlds rich with humor and love.  Going back to 1962, there’s the Twilight Zone episode  “Nothing in the Dark” where an old woman locked herself into her house, hiding from Death personified.  It turned out he was a really nice guy, (a very young, golden haired Robert Redford) and she needn’t have been afraid.  Both these stories affected me deeply as a child, and I think in a positive way.

I’d have to track it down to be sure, but I seem to recall that Death Takes a Holiday also provided us with  pretty sympathetic portrayal back in 1934. Earlier than that?   I think there’s a story or two where a personified death is referred to as ‘old friend’, but I can’t recall any in particular.

Of course, the original remark may have been intended to refer to death in comic books only, but that seems to be a pretty ticky-tack differentiation.  They’re all pop culture images, and I can’t imagine a world where books, films, TV and comics don’t all borrow from each other.

Actual Knitting Content

I publicly declared the baby blanket “the most boring project I’ve ever worked on”, then finished the second set of squares in the doubleknit section and have decided it’s not boring anymore.  Also, a woman in a waiting room asked what happened to the Les Miserables shawl which I put on hold, so not only am I kipping along but people pay attention, which is kind of cool.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered the Knitbot Essentials giveaway from Quince and Co (April 20), Phat Fibers Sunrise Sparkle Lace giveaway (April 23) and Lantium Ex Machina’s Hypocrite Sock Yarn giveaway (April 22)

I didn’t win According to Matt’s Y.A.R.N. giveaway, or the Color Guys giveaway.  The Lionbrand Meaningful Handmade Gift Contest ends April 29th (not the 16th).

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I have in my hands a curious little envelope.  My mother found it when cleaning out her basement and my sister thought I should have it. Not to use, but just to own.  (click on any of the pictures for larger images)

It must have belonged to my grandmother, who would have learned how to knit in the first decade of the 20th century.  It’s clear, from a very little examination that it’s not in it’s original packaging, because this needle is about 15″ long, not the 24 -29″ indicated.    There’s nothing on it telling when it was made.  I’m guessing it was sometime before 1939 because that’s apparently when the patent for circulars with ‘flexible cables’ came out, and I wouldn’t call this a ‘flexible’ cable.

The cable is basically a fine coil of wire.  The text on the back which warns not to wind the needle into a circle is hardly necessary for this length, because it won’t really do that, but I’d imagine that if it were the length on the packet it might be tempting to try it. I’m a little bit afraid to cast on to these, I imagine that they would catch yarn pretty easily, but the joins between cable and needle seem smooth enough.  Still, my Addis and KnitPicks Interchangables are in no danger of being replaced by these classics any time soon.

There’s nothing on my package telling me who manufactured the needle or when.  I’ve found pictures of the 1934 Boye package.  The needle itself looks very similar to one sewmuchfrippery sold from her Etsy shop, labeled as “Vintage 1920’s 1930’s Circular Knitting Needle / Pin“.

I have a vague memory of reading about knitting needles like this, the ‘old style’ of cable which were basically unusable.  I believe it was in “No Idle Hands” by Anne MacDonald but it’s been ages since I’ve read it, so I can’t be sure.  It may have been a comment by Elizabeth Zimmerman, but I don’t think so.   I wasn’t able to find very much more about the actual history of circular needles than I’ve already linked to, which is mildly disappointing.  I’ll be keeping my eyes open in the future.

In Other Blogs

There’s a great series of posts on photography for yarn projects (and other objects) at Fresh Stitches: 5 Easy Photography Tips, How to Take Great Photos with White Backgrounds and Photography Resources.  Anita asks what to name the baby (always a fun topic).

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t even realize there was a drawing on the FaveFitzgerald tag at Craftlit, and I won it.   There’s a second drawing (enter by the 17th?) so you can win your own WWMDfK bracelet!

I didn’t win the Red Heart Yarn of the Month giveaway for March, and am not entering the April Soft Baby Steps giveaway.  No official word on BluetoothToaster’s Fandom Yarn giveaway, but I’m assuming I didn’t win.

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I took a few pictures of the family Easter celebration.  Here are the ones whose subjects did not object to being posted online.  These two were at M-i-L’s house

Poor Walter was traumatized by S-i-L and B-i-L’s puppy Ernest Jackson (who didn’t really pose for any pictures himself).

Adlai on the other hand, was totally at ease.


At home the situation was much more settled.

The holidays were very nice.  The oldest came home from college to get in on the baking and egg dying.  My mother declined to host the Sedar this year, but youngest and M-i-L went to B-i-L’s parents for theirs, and the girls went to M-i-L’s Easter service (hubby and I were supposed to go, but it didn’t work out that way – maybe next year).

In Other Blogs

Stacey reviewed the Knook (crochet hook for knitting), which I’ve been mildly curious about for a while.

I Love My Ott!

I got this little baby when I ordered my  Amigurumi Knits book.    It seems almost overpowering, doesn’t it? It’s not actually that bright (and I don’t set it down on what I’m working on anyway). It has a little bank of LEDs which give a great quality of light.  I really like how it brings out colors.  I like to bring it with me on yarn buying trips, so I can really see what I’m getting (the other option being to take the yarn up to the front of the store and look at it in actual daylight).

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win Techno Hookers copy of  “Custom Crocheted Sweaters“, but I did enter Sandra Singh’s Spring Maple Shawl Kit giveaway (drawing 21 April), and the Yarn Exploder’s drawing for Vampire Stitch Markers from Decor Noir  (end of April)


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I am an Election Judge

Twice every two years, I spend a day at the polls, helping my fellow citizens to do their part to ensure the continuation of democracy.  Yesterday I acted as a ‘check in’ judge in Maryland’s primary elections.  It makes for a very long day.  I got in at six in the morning, the polls opened at seven and closed at eight, and verification of results and integrity, and clean up, were finally finished at nine.

Mind you, this was for the primaries.  In an overwhelmingly Democratic district.  A district which encourages early voting and mail in voting.  We handled 316 voters all day.

As you can imagine, I got a lot of knitting done.  A lot of reading as well (a book of Neil Gaiman short stories I got for my birthday) and catching up with my fellow judges, most of whom have worked this precinct for three or four cycles at least. The elderly couple who said last cycle was their last was back.  They seem to be doing better health wise, and Maryland always needs more Republican judges.  The young lady with the thing for pink – she got married over the summer.

It’s always interesting.  This year was particularly so, because the elementary school we were using is in the midst of rather extreme renovations. We asked the construction workers to take down the bar between the double doors to make sure that we were wheelchair accessible (they put it up again when we closed the polls).  I didn’t even know they could do that.  The woman who suddenly decided that she had changed her party affiliation a week ago but ‘it hadn’t gone through’ because she wanted to vote in the Republican primary was given a provisional ballot.  If they find her ‘lost’ paperwork I’m sure it will get counted, otherwise, probably not.  There was also a Republican who was bothered that we didn’t ask for his identification.  I explained that we had never had a case of two people claiming to be the same voter at this precinct, and he seemed surprised.  We agreed that Marylanders ‘are just better’.  Seriously, half the precinct goes to church with the ‘Queen Bee’  judge, and most of the rest were neighbors of one of the other judges.

People’s reactions to me knitting were interesting, and universally positive.   The Provisional judge (who handled the last-minute Republican) had an ‘oh, yea, I should have brought mine!’ reaction (she made a lot of headway through her murder mystery though).  One of the judges from the other precinct which meets in the school brought a project as well.  One voter told me his wife has just learned, and that he thought there was something addictive about it (I agreed).  Only one voter confused the knitting with crochet.  I told the story of why I was knitting the blanket a couple of times, and got to explain the process of double knitting a few times as well.  Dozens of compliments on the colors and the piece as a whole.  Did wonders to my ego.

Anyway, we locked up around 9.  I thought I’d be ‘clever’ and cut across the dimly lit maze of ‘portables’ which surround the school to get to the parking lot where my car was (we’d moved them so that voters had easier access).  By the time I got home it was nearly ten.  A long day indeed.

FO Highlight

Mom loves her mantis (I knew she would).  Now we just have to hope it doesn’t become a very complicated cat-toy…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Simply Sockupied giveaway or the iMake Toft’s Pattern Book giveaway. I entered a poem in According to Matt’s Y.A.R.N giveaway (April 15).

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As viewership on this blog fluctuates, I’ve been noticing the expected pattern of comments and relevance to the theme, content, or even language of the blog and of the individual post to which they are added.  The blog is set with the usual WordPress security features, and I review every comment before it is actually posted.  There have been some of them which have totally left me scratching my head (one in Russian, when no hits that day came from a Russian speaking area).

In the interests of perversity, all comments on this post (and this post only) will be allowed through (though I might feel the need to edit if there is anything I find more offensive than amusing involved).  Most Hormel products are welcome!

In Other Blogs

Craftingismybliss has won a blogging award!  Pop over and give her a cheer.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered the Techno Hooker giveaway for Dora Ohrenstein’s “Custom Crocheted Sweaters” book (April 2 deadline) and the Knitting Project of the Day Submission drawing. Did not win the spin/knit along giveaway, Windy’s Squishy Yarn Giveaway or Year at the Wheel’s Suri Dreams giveaway

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