Chronic Startitis

Yep.  I’ve got it.  And not just startitis, but chronic startitis.  I’m so bad about starting things.  I get so excited about them and plunge into them  and then they don’t get finished because I’ve started something else that I’ve gotten so excited about and plunged right into.  Which is to say, I have a ton of UFO’s.  Which is to say, I’ve started something else. . .

The knitting group I go to is through our city library, and we meet in a “community use” room adjacent to one of the branch libraries.  At least two or three times a year we get people coming by saying they ‘re cleaning out their late Grandma’s house or their late Aunty’s house, and the deceased were knitters or crocheters, and then they start bringing in great boxes of yarn and donate it to us.  I usually end up cherry-picking the acrylic yarns because I knit hats for our local cancer center and it’s not only hypoallergenic but machine washable and usually machine dryable as well. Somehow, I’ve managed to accumulate a great gob (like about 20 skeins) of Moda Dea Dream yarn, which is no longer made (the company went out of business?).  I had some grape purple, which I’ve already used all but about a golf ball size ball of, as well as  multiple skeins each of black, “leaf” (green), and “lilac.”

I am a huge fan of the Must Love Yarn ladies, and am in the process of watching all their podcasts.   I participated in one of their “‘knit-alongs” (KAL) over Christmas and actually won a prize.  More on that later.

So, on their next to last podcast, the MLY ladies decided their next KAL was going to be a Fuzzy-Along. To participate, you have to knit something using a fuzzy yarn.  Moda Dea Dream is like angora fuzzy, ya’ll, and I have enough to make something big.  Like a shawl.   Do I go find a pattern that would work?  Of course not.  I’m writing one.

I want it to be cape-like.  In fact, I may even put a frog closure on it, which would totally work.  It’s a five-panel nearly circular shawl with a neck opening.  It has a cable down each of the sides, and the panels are separated by three stitches with yarn-overs on either side.  The neck opening and the front opening together would look like one of those old-fashioned keyhole locks.  Naturally, I’m calling it the Fuzzy Keyhole. It would also make a great stash buster project, because the stitch pattern I use in the body has an 8-row repeat (i.e., 2 cable crosses).  It has a 3-stitch stockinette border on the ends which curls to make a nice finished edge.

Unfortuately, this yarn does not have good stitch definition, and you can barely tell the cables are cables, but if you were to make it with, say, a DK weight smooth yarn and a fingering weight mohair yarn held together . . . .  or even just a simple worsted yarn . . . .

Anyway, I’ve got til April 15th to finish it.  I’m going to make a serious effort to do so, even though I’m still pretty much in “reading” mode.  I have started knitting again, though.  When I get in “reading mode,” I don’t want to go out and don’t care to be around people much, because all I’m really interested in doing is reading.  I really, really need to finish my reader’s shrug. . . but more than that, I want to finish the book I’m reading . . . Sigh.


Easter Eggs From The Universe

Had a doctor’s appointment Monday at 1:00pm and afterward, I did my Wal-Mart shopping.  The day had not been warm to begin with and the afternoon was getting progressively colder as the latest cold front came through.  Fortunately, I had dressed for the weather.  After I got my shopping done,  I decided to stop in at IHOP (which is just down the access road from Wal-Mart) for a set of eggs and a pair of toast.  I don’t buy eggs, mostly because I don’t like them enough to eat a half dozen before they spoil,  but every now and again I get hungry for some fried eggs (over easy) and toast.

They have “canned music” at IHOP (Sirius Satellite Radio?) that features a lot of “oldies.”   I’m waiting for my food and they’re playing Led Zepplin’s “Dazed and Confused,” Rick Nelsons, “Teenage Idol,” Chubby Checker’s “Peppermint Twist;” and I’m eating my food and they’re playing Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son, “Percy Sledges’ “When a Man Loves A Woman,” Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and so on and so on.  Right into the middle of this melange, they drop Dave Brubeck’s, “Unsquare Dance,” which is so jazz and so brilliant.  (Try clapping in rhythm to this one!)

It was like an Easter egg from the universe.



Books Read in 2019

29. *The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, Carriger, Gail (reread)
28. *The Parasol Protectorate: Timeless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
27. *The Parasol Protectorate: Heartless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
26. *The Parasol Protectorate: Changeless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
25. *The Parasol Protectorate: Blameless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
24. *The Parasol Protectorate: Soulless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
23. *How To Marry A Werewolf, Carriger, Gail (reread)
22. *Romancing the Werewolf, Carriger, Gail (reread)
21. *Competence (The Custard Protocol, Book 3), Carriger, Gail
20. *Imprudence (The Custard Protocol, Book 2), Carriger, Gail (reread)
19. *Prudence (The Custard Protocol, Book 1), Carriger, Gail (reread)
18. *An Unnatural Heir, Charles, K. J.
17. *His Consort, Calmes, Mary
16. *An Unnatural Vice, Charles, K. J.
15. *An Unseen Attraction, Charles, K. J.
14. Chanur’s Legacy, Cherry, C. J. (re-re-read)
13. *An Enlightenment Story: Unnatural, Chambers, Joanna
12: * An Enlightenment Story: Seasons Pass, Chambers, Joanna
11. * Enlightenment Series: Enlightened, Chambers, Joanna
10. * Enlightenment Series: Beguiled, Chambers, Joanna
9. *Enlightenment Series: Provoked, Chambers, Joanna
8. Chanur’s Homecoming, Cherryhh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
7. Chanur’s Venture, Cherryh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
6. The Kif Strike Back, Cherryh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
5. The Pride of Chanur, Cherryh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
4. Alliance Rising, Cherryh, C. J.
3. *Introducing Mr. Winterbourne, Chambers, Joanna
2. *Mr. Winterbourne’s Christmas, Chambers, Joanna
1. Merchanter’s Luck, Cherryh, C. J. (re-reread)

* Ebook

Steampunk, Stuff and Nonsense

Gail Carriger‘s books feature a particular style/variant of Steampunk which I like a lot.  She incorporates not only all the elaborate gadgetry, gizmos, dalliances and daring-do set in Victorian England of Steampunk at its finest, she adds in a large dollop of the paranormal, as in vampires, and were-beasts.  Her delightful Steampunk novels are like pillow mints for the brain.  They’re delicious to read and melt into minty goodness in your mind.  If you like Gilbert and Sullivan, Steampunk and paranormal romances, you’ll love these books.

A whisper of warning, though. The books she writes as “Gail Carriger” are inclusive*. (If that sort of thing curls your lip, then you really won’t like any of the books she writes as “G.L. Carriger.”)

These books of which I speak are all set in the same “Carrigerverse” of 19th century England during the reign of Queen Victoria and cover two generations of the same family.  They begin with the adventures of Alexia Tarabotti, eldest daughter of Letitia Tarabotti Loontwill (neé Phinkerlington), and ex-Templar Alessandro Tarabotti, as related in the first book in the Parasol Protectorate quintet, Soulless, and continue through Blameless, Changeless, Heartless, and Timeless.   In Soulless, the first book in the series, Alexia has exciting adventures and marries Lord Conall Maccon, a Scottish werewolf and leader of the London pack.  It is a love match.  As you might suspect, a parasol is involved, as well as hats, Egypt, treacle tarts, and an octomaton.  Lord and Lady Maccon have a daughter, whom her mother names Prudence.  They move from the country into a London townhouse, next door to Lord Akeldama, a rove vampire with a colorful wardrobe, a taste for young men, and a dirigible named Dandelion Fluff Upon A Spoon.

Prudence grows up and has adventures, which mostly involve not living up to her name.  These are detailed in the Custard Protocol books,  Prudence, Imprudence, Competence,  and Reticence (which comes out in August); and involve hats, mechanical contrivances, were-creatures and dirigibles. Also involved are Madame LeFoux’s adopted son, Ivy’s twins, and a woman named Phinkerlington, who may be collaterally related to our heroine.

Ms. Carriger has another series in this ‘verse, which is the Finishing School series:  Etiquette and Espionage, Curtsies and Conspiracies, Waistcoats and Weaponry, and Manners and Mutiny, all of which are in the To Be Read pile.

I will note that all of the above-mentioned books are available in ebook format as well as in dead tree editions.  The reading of the above involved multiple pots of tea.  No hats were harmed either in the reading of the books, or the writing of this review, and a good time was had by WOL.

*inclusive - accepting of the reality that the Human species includes LGBTA individuals, and that these individuals have the same rights as everybody else.

See There? Knitting Is Good For You

Yeah, I’m kind of preaching to the choir here.  If you’re a knitter, you already know what she’s talking about.  What’s good is that this lady gives you the talking points, the whys.  If somebody gives you grief about your knitting, you can come back with some of her points.  It relieves stress, generates endorphins, relieves depression, helps you deal with anxiety, is calming, etc.

I want this one on a tote bag . . .

Sorry For The Radio Silence

I’ve been down with that awful crud that’s been going around, what my dad would have called “the galloping epizöotic*.”  Nasty business.  Head cold plus bronchitis.  (I’ve been watching my temperature closely as there’s a nasty strain of flu that has been going round as well.)  I’ve been holed up at home and haven’t been going out at all.  Staying in out of the cold temps.  We did get some cold weather, but the Polar Vortex missed us this time.  Those poor people up north. (What we now call “Polar Vortex” is what we used to call a “blue” norther, for the same reason Babe is blue.)

I haven’t been doing much knitting in the last couple of weeks, as I’ve been spending most of my time either sleeping, blowing my nose or trying to cough up my toenails.  I did get in some reading though.  I’ve had one of those bedside tables on rollers for a couple of years.  (I deliberately set up my bedroom furniture so I have room to roll the table out of the way when not needed.)  I mounted a plug strip with a 12-foot cord on the underside of the table top (just takes two screws) where I can plug in my Kindle tablet and a little desk lamp, as well as my phone, to keep them charged, and when I’m not using the table, it doubles as a charging station for my electronics. (I have some binder clips clamped onto the edge of the table to hold the charging cords when not in use.) I have a little stand for my tablet.  It’s a nice sized little table, and there’s also room for a pot of tea and a plate of munchies.  Last year, I got a bed wedge to complete the ensemble, and I was so glad to have all of it these past two weeks.  Now if I can just get my reader’s shrug finished . . . Hygge, y’all. Tells you something, doesn’t it, when other cultures have a word for something so basic and fundamental, and yours doesn’t.  I mean, what’s the point of having a place to live if it ain’t comfy, snuggly and exactly suited to your needs?  What the world needs now is Gemütlichkeit, sweet Gemütlichkeit. . . .

One of the ladies in this Sekret Klub my mom belongs to wanted some more washcloths, and of course I got roped into making them.  The lady said she’d pay me, what do I charge?  Well, obviously, there’s the cost of the materials, but what about my time?  People have no idea how much time is involved in doing things like this, and isn’t my time worth something?  Takes me about 3 hours to knit a wash cloth.  So for one washcloth, figure $4 for the yarn, and minimum wage in Tx is $7.25/hour, so $25.75 per washcloth . . . .?   See the problem?  I’m going to charge her $15 for two, which is dead cheap when you get right down to it.  The cotton yarn I make them out of is stiff and hard to knit with, and I can’t knit on something made with it for too long before my hands start getting unhappy with me, and I was done with knitting washcloths two months ago . . .   grumble . . . grumble . . .

Which brings me to:  One of the washcloths is based on a simple seed stitch pattern. Here’s the pattern for free.

Cast on an even number of stitches +1. (41 stitches for a washcloth)
Knit 12 rows. Measure length of work so far = X.
Row 1: K2, *p1, k1, repeat from * until 1 stitch remains, k1.
Repeat row 1 until piece lacks X measurement to be long enough.
Knit 12 rows.
Bind off.

It makes a nice nubby washcloth, but you can easily adapt this pattern to make anything from a washcloth to a coaster, to a place mat, to a table runner, to a throw rug, to an afghan to a blanket/bedspread. A set of coasters would be a great stashbuster project for those odds and ends of cotton yarn.

Folks have commented about the time I spend reading.  I mentioned I got a 10-inch Kindle Fire tablet because of the bigger screen, which is able to display more text — almost a whole page — at a time.  This is because I read pretty fast.  I also tend to binge read.  That means I have to allocate my time accordingly.  I try hard not to read at bedtime (unless its a book of short stories), otherwise I’ll get caught up in the story, keep turning pages until suddenly there’s no more pages, look up at the clock and it’s 5 a.m.!  (If a book can’t hold my attention like that, I’ll bob to the surface pretty quickly and typically won’t finish the book.)

I’m retired now, and my time is my own, so I can spend all day (or all night) reading a book at one sitting if I want to.  I try not to stay up all night reading, though, because my mom gets upset with me when I don’t keep “normal” hours and sleep at the right time, etc.  (She’s the only one it bothers . . . )  But really, it’s all about time management.  If you want to read more, allocate a block of time for reading.  Schedule it into your other activities in the evenings or on the weekends.  A dedicated block of time to  find a comfy seat somewhere quiet, shift into neutral, kick back, take it easy and read.   Instead of sitting like a zombie in front of the TV at night, turn the TV off and read.  Now there’s a radical concept . . .

Now that I’m starting to feel less like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet, as we say here in the Flatlands, I’m beginning to think about knitting again and the projects I have going and want to get back into — once I finish this last durn washcloth. . . .

*I have a cheat sheet of ASCII codes for all the diacritical markings like ö.  You hold down the "ALT" key, use the number pad to type the code number, then release the ALT key to get them. A word's not spelled correctly unless it has all the right little marks, like façade, fiancé, Münster . . .  Life on the spectrum, y'all.