Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Thank heaven...

It’s the Seven Random Things Meme! Holly tagged me forever ago; it’s about time I tackled it…

The rules:

Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

Let them know they are tagged by leaving comments on their blogs.

Let the Randomness Begin!

1 – I have extremely blue eyes and purple hair, and only one is from a box.

2 – I met my husband in the Army when I issued him an M16 rifle.

3 – I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering about the strangest things. Are eye sockets considered orifices? Do NASCAR drivers ever zone out and lose count of their laps? If people grew gills, would they be on the neck or on the ribs?

4 – I am agoraphobic. I’m not shy per se; however, any new situation with other people can cause huge panic attacks. I avoid shopping… Well, really I avoid shopping all the time, but I especially avoid it from November to January. I hate going to the beach or a park on crowded days, and I will not go to a concert at a large venue, no matter who is playing.

5 – I love shoes! The crazier the better. My favorite shoe vendor caters to cross-dressers and strippers.

6 – I grew up in North Dakota, and am ready to go back. I love Florida, but the craziness our legislators come out with every year make it harder and harder to live here. I want to have a small, sustainable farm off the grid where my kids can run free and we can raise sheep and organic vegetables.

7 – I have never seen the movie Titanic, and I never plan to.

Tag you’re it!

1 – ‘Lista
2 – Duncks
3 – buttercup
4 – kemtee
5 – Heather
6 – Robin
7 – Knit-a-Saur

Any of you feel like playing?

Monday, April 28, 2008

PVC Yarn Swift and Niddy Noddy

Look what I made this weekend!

What the heck is that?

Okay, actually Mister Man* did the work - but I take full credit as designer, engineer, and general de-bugger. This is a PVC yarn swift with a PVC niddy-noddy behind it. Each one was delightfully simple to make.

The niddy-noddy is an 18-inch length of ½ inch PVC topped with two T-bars set perpendicular to each other. The T’s are made with two 6-inch lengths of ½ inch PVC with end caps. This took fifteen minutes to make and cost less than $5.

Why do you take pictures in the dark?

The swift is four 12-inch pieces of ½ inch PVC connected in the center to a four-way cross connector. Each arm has an end cap and an adjustable upright “peg”. The pegs are ¾ inch PVC mounted on ¾ inch T-connectors that slide along the arms. Each T has a cup hook screwed into the bottom; to adjust the peg, I simply loosen the hook, slide the peg into position, and re-tighten the hook.

Check out Bubba's homework - he's a budding Einstein!

The whole assembly is mounted on scrap wood with a 4-inch carriage bolt. Wing nuts and 2-inch washers support the swift assembly and ensure it spins freely.

Washers make it spin!

With all the cutting, cursing, re-designing, and trips to the hardware store to pick up things I forgot, the swift took an hour to make. Total cost was less than $10.

I used both of these immediately after completion and love them. I can’t believe it took me so long to make them!

If you want to make this swift and niddy-noddy for yourself, here’s a handy-dandy parts list.

8 ft – ½-inch PVC pipe (I only used 7.5 ft, but I wanted a little extra just in case)
2 ft – ¾-inch PVC pipe
2 – ½-inch T-connectors
1 – ½-inch four-way cross connector
8 – ½-inch end caps
4 – ¾-inch T-connectors
4 – ¾-inch end caps
4 – cup hooks
1 – 4-inch carriage bolt (or similar)
2 – 2-inch washers sized to fit your carriage bolt
2 – wing nuts sized to fit your carriage bolt
scrap wood for the base

We used a hacksaw to cut the PVC – but really any saw will work. Since the end caps protect the yarn from snags, it doesn’t matter if the cuts are perfectly smooth. Mister Man drilled the center of the cross connector and the scrap wood base with a ¼-inch bit, and the small holes for the hooks with a 1/8-inch bit.

If you make either or both of these, have fun, and let me know. I'd love to see it!

*It has been brought to my attention that "The Hairy One" might be insulting to someone worried about male-pattern baldness. As I never want to offend the love of my life, from now on I will call him "Mister Man." :P

Friday, April 25, 2008

Isn’t this a knitting blog?

Yes, yes it is. And in these hectic times, knitting has kept me sane – or at least partially so.

I was knitting very faithfully on the Manly Cable sweater for my husband. This is a top-down, raglan style sweater I designed just for him – Look, Ma, I did math!

The black Manos del Uruguay hides the intricate cables; click on a picture to see the cable-y goodness. Yum. I even put cables across the shoulders and inside the arms! I rock.

I was monogamous to this sweater until cables became too complicated for mindless knitting. I needed mindless, stress reducing knitting! I cast on the DROPS jacket with collar and lace pattern (100-12) in some of my hand spun. Oh, it was a beautiful thing, but I had nowhere near enough yarn. What’s a girl to do? Rip it and re-cast with alpaca and merino!

I call this my Super Soft Cardigan. It’s two strands of Berroco Ultra Alpaca with one strand of Dark Horse Yarns Rhapsody. It is smooshably soft.

Of course, I was chomping at the bit to knit with my handspun, so I started a little capelet.

Once again knitting from my brain (and ignoring any bats in the belfry) I did some math and cast on for a collar and a wide button band. I am increasing like mad, and hope to end up with a little capelet with three quarter sleeves. Can a cape have sleeves?

As always, I have many projects languishing in the craft room. They are not UFO’s yet! I’m still working on them – really! Some day I will post pictures of the finished objects and the world will stop laughing. Some wonderful day…

Shameless Self Promotion

If you have a chance, click over to Turtle Cove Soaps for my Spring Fling promotion. For a limited time, every order of soap will include a free face scrubbie handmade by Kreations from 100% cotton.

These scrubbies are cute little powerhouses for scrubbing away dirt and grime; they’re machine washable, and they only get better with time. They are a perfect match for my handmade soaps.

Bunnies, Kids, or Cats?

It's two out of three*!

Help! I am not a bunny mommy!

*And darlin', two outta three ain't bad....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Picture Proof

As promised, here is picture proof of my scary office.

This long shot doesn't quite convey the horror, but it does show off my cool new bag!

Doesn't this look like a door propped on filing cabinets?

Here is my sad attempt to spruce things up.

Check out the rat trap under my desk. It's loverly.

Since I can't close a post on that depressing note, here's a picture of a baby bunny exploring.

The dog food proved quite interesting, but not worth eating.

One Move Down, One to Go

Whew! I have officially moved into my new position. I've gone from Executive Assistant to The Man to Legal Assistant within the organization. I'm still a glorified secretary, but it's a great career move. This position has so much potential for growth, both within the organization and out in the real world. I have to repeat that to myself often because I've moved from the White House to the ghetto.

I've gone from mahogany furniture and plush carpet so thick it could twist ankles to a cubicle turned (not so) private office with a desk apparently made from doors propped on top of metal filing cabinets. I brought my camera in today to take picture proof - but forgot the driver. I will upload pictures tonight; you have to see it to believe it.

The difference in stress levels is amazing. Not once this week have I woken up in the middle of the night, convinced I've screwed up the calendar or forgotten a message. During my commute, I no longer obsess over the impossibility of completing eighty hours worth of work in the forty hour work week. It is fabulous.

I just noticed that one of my tags is "dying," not "dyeing." I'm fixing it right now! I promise I'm not Danielle ;^)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Some Whine, Some Books, and Some Bunnies

I have been trying to avoid turning this blog into a whine-fest, but I am tired. Sick and tired of everything. A lot of changes are happening here, and I should be excited, but mostly I’m just tired. I don’t know if I’m overwhelmed at too many changes at once, or if I’ve just been overwhelmed for so long that nothing breaks through.

Next week I’m transferring to a new position in the agency. It’s a legal secretary type position that has the potential to turn into full-blown paralegal status (where they pay for school!). I’ve been spending the last month wrapping up all my projects, streamlining my files, and trying to train my replacement, who’s been trying to wrap up all her projects. I think I will be excited again at the end of next week, after the move.

And speaking of moves, in the next few months, we will be moving the House at Two Palms lock, stock, and barrel across the street into a new house. The new house, while still a rental, is cheaper, closer to the beach, and has a back yard that the monsters can play in. It’s fabulous the way it’s all worked out, but, sheesh, moving! And we have a lot of stuff to move… It’ll be rummage sale and freecycle time!

And last, but not least, I just dumped an ungodly amount of cash into plane tickets back to North Dakota. I’m dragging the monsters back home to see the family and meet their new cousin (due May 29th). I can’t wait to take a real vacation, but OMG! I could have used that money as a down payment on a house in God’s Armpit, ND!

Okay, okay, enough whining. Heather tagged me with a book meme; here goes!

1. What book are you currently reading?

Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews – I love dark urban fantasy, but the genre can be very hit or miss. This one is definitely a hit. I just ordered the sequel and pulled this one off the shelf to re-read while I wait. It has a nice urban noire feel to it, with a tough, sarcastic heroine who is still likable. I’ve walked away from many books that have made their women protagonists full-blown bitches; I want to be able to like the heroine. This book has many interesting twists on the genre: magic is taking over tech, with the world hanging in the balance, and vampires are mindless undead controlled by Masters of the Dead. Enter Kate Daniels, a mercenary investigating the death of her guardian and trying to prevent a war between the Pack (shapeshifters) and the People (necromancers). The book isn’t amazing, but it’s interesting and quite a good read.

2. When you think of a good story, what are the first 3 books that come to mind?

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card - This was a life-changing book for me the first time I read it at the grand old age of twelve. I’ve carried the lessons I learned from this book my entire life, especially those on empathy and what it means to be human or alien. I have probably read this book hundreds of times, and each time it brings something new to my life.

The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley – When I think of epic I think of this book. Robin McKinley is a masterful author, and this book is a prime example.

Anything by Patricia A. McKillip, although if forced to narrow it down I’d have to say The Cygnet and the Firebird. Patricia McKillip’s prose is magic, each sentence crafted like a Faberge egg.

Looking back on these I’ve noticed that the common theme is the misfit. Hmmm, does that say anything about me?

3. Which 3 books would you recommend for summer 2008 beach reading?

Since I live (almost) on the beach, all my reading is beach reading, so I’m going to steal this as three more books I wish everyone would read.

Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen – absolutely fabulous take on the Apocalypse. Makes me laugh out loud every time.

The Shape-Changer’s Wife, by Sharon Shinn – this is her first novel, and really my favorite. It’s an enchanting story with twists and turns and a bittersweet ending.

Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin – a beautiful, lyrical story about good and evil, love and loss, and life and death. It can be a tough read, but it is so worth it.

4. Any knitting books you would care to share?

The Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters: A Knit-to-Fit Workshop, by Lynne Vogel – I am using this book to knit a cabled raglan sweater for my husband that I’ve designed myself. Following the Twisted Sisters guidelines, I mapped out the sweater and the stitch pattern, did the simple math, and now I am halfway through a sweater that is turning out perfectly.

5. What is next on your reading list?

6. Tag three other knitters for this meme:

I would love to see what everyone’s reading. If you find yourself inspired by this post, consider yourself tagged!

Last but not least – baby bunnies! Here they are on their one month birthday.

And for comparison, here's Mom on the same stool (her wool's still growing back in, so she's looking a little rough):

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Black as My Soul

This morning that was actually my answer to “How would you like your coffee?” I even shocked myself! I never really say these things out loud – I just think them! However, my out burst is appropriate today because I have a Wicked little sweater to show off.

I started this March 20 and finished it March 30! It was fun, fast, and I love it.


Pattern: Wicked by Zephyr Style
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Oceanic Mix (6285), 4 skeins
Needles: US 7
Size: 32”-35”

This was my first top-down raglan style, and I loved that I could stop at anytime and try it on. I had heard through the Ravelry grapevine that this sweater knit up a little big, so I cast on for a smaller than normal size. Since I could try it on every few inches, I easily made adjustments to fit my body.


I skipped the kangaroo pouch, knit three-quarter length sleeves, and repeated the crossover cable stitch at the bottom. My biggest modification was continuing the increases after separating for the sleeves. I don’t know about you, but my largest bust measurement falls well below my armpits!

The Ultra Alpaca is soft and warm, and a joy to work with. My only complaint is how long it takes to wind these never-ending skeins into balls – I really, really need a ball winder.

This little sweater very versatile: I wore it with slacks to work (where it kept me nice and warm in my frigid office) and it’ll look great with jeans on the weekends.

So, are you jonesing for a bunny fix? I missed the weekly Sunday photo due to circumstances beyond my control – note to self: the camera’s battery compartment has a diagram for a reason – so here they are at three and a half weeks.

Big thanks to Bubba for his help posing with the bunny!

In my last post, Heather asked about the bunny trance; here are the instructions so that you too can trance a bunny. YMMV

Tools needed:

A calm bunny
A quiet room
A lap

Gently, gently, gently place the bunny on its back on your lap. Watch out – bunnies do not like to be upside down! You may get kicked and bunny nails can be sharp. With one hand I smooth the bunny’s ears to her back and with the other I gently turn her over. I’ve found that if I angle my lap so that the bunny’s head is slightly lower than her body, she calms down faster. I gently rub the bunny’s nose until she relaxes into the trance.

A tranced bunny is perfectly relaxed and perfectly relaxing.

I am a disapproving bunny and I do not approve this message.