Paste it in the head!

Spinster

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I hate Internet Explorer

Good evening, loyal readers. As I checked my blog this morning at school (yeah, I'm obsessed with myself. What of it?), I realized that something in my HTML formatting goes awry when I use Internet Explorer as my browser. I use Safari cause I have a Mac and it looks fine when I post, and it looks fine on Firefox too, but Internet Explorer causes some problems. So let's abandon it in the gutter, what do you say? (...And, end rant.)

Anyway. I started knitting my sweater last night and I'm proud to report that I have a whole five rows done. That might not sound like much, but I would like to point out that I have numerous assignments due very soon. Guess what! Alli, having seen Kristen's blanket, wants to learn to knit! I am so proud. I feel like maybe this is my calling, obsessing about knitting and spreading the seeds of soon-to-be obsession in others. Let's see...Lorien, Stephanie, and now Alli. I think it's safe to say that my work here is done.

__________________________________________________
PS--How is it that I can do a steep hill climb on the treadmill for half an hour and feel great, but make me do a bit of yoga and I feel like I'm going to collapse?

Monday, February 27, 2006

my article to review

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Fairly Fabulous Fair Isle

My roommate and I took a Fair Isle class at Romni Wools yesterday and were given the yarn and pattern for a Fair Isle hat. I have always liked the look of Fair Isle knitting but had never tried it. We were taught the two-handed method and it was seriously the coolest thing ever. It was so much fun to work with color and learn a new method. The pattern was for a child's hat, and Lorien's hat turned out to be child-sized. Mine, on the other hand, will definitely fit me. It's funny cause normally I'm not a loose knitter at all, and maybe it was knitting in the round, or maybe it was knitting using a new method, or maybe it was me knitting really quickly, but my hat is so much bigger.

Lorien's hat and close-up:


























My hat and close-up:


























Our color choices are interesting, huh? Lorien loves white--she has white walls, white dishes, white silverware, white tables... everything is white, though she usually doesn't wear much of it. I think it's the clean look, the sort of pristine and immaculate quality of white that attracts her to it. She pays a lot of attention to the way she looks and how her clothing is coordinated--and I don't mean this is a bad way, I just think that looking polished in her own way is important to her. It did not suprise me at all when she chose white as the background color for her hat. Then as contrasting colors, the blues and the small amount of brown... the finished result has a very pulled-together look about it, very thematic (snow, winter, Scandinavia).

I, on the other hand, love color. My bedroom walls are what I like to call "Pumpkin Spice"--though to be fair, they were that color when we moved in, but I didn't paint them over cause I thought they were interesting. (And I was lazy. Hmm.. I see a summer project in my future!) I rarely wear only neutrals and I'm not a very big fan of white. I like black but I find it boring. I definitely prefer blues to any other color, though I am beginning to come around to reds and greens and purples. The way I look is important to me, too, but in a different way than it is to Lorien. I dress according to my mood (which, of course, is color-coded)--like, if I'm feeling cheery and fabulous, I'll wear more colorful items cause I want to stand out more. If I'm feeling blah, I usually go out of my way to reflect that in my clothing. Why, I don't know. So my hat is obviously colorful and not in a thematic sort of way. I just liked the way those colors reacted and interacted with one another, the way they contrasted one another.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Project Sweater

After doing some homework last night (and by "doing homework" I mean "watching old episodes of The OC"), I settled down to work on designing my sweater. I got all of the dimensions worked out, I figured out the armhole shaping and the neckline and all that. I even figured out where to put the lace pattern. I do have one uncertainty, though--for the armhole shaping, I will only be decreasing 1.5 inches on either side. That seemed incredibly small to me so I checked out some other patterns that feature a similar-gauge yarn, and after consulting them I determined that although 1.5" is a bit on the small side, it's not too bad. I just have to calculate the sleeve dimensions and then I will be ready to cast on! The pattern drafting class at Romni Wools was totally worth it--I didn't really know the rules of garment design before I took the class, and knowing the various formulas and techniques has definitely made the whole experience easier. (Though the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.)

I wanted to sketch my design so that I would have some kind of image to show today but I use a Mac, which doesn't come with any kind of paint/draw program. There's probably some kind of drawing program on the Internet that I can download but unfortunately, I have to go to work soon. If you're lucky, I'll draw it by hand, scan it and upload it after work. Though that does sound like a lot of effort... And it's time that might be better spent casting on and knitting a few rows...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who were you in high school?

Arty Kid

Whether you were a drama freak or an emo poet, you definitely were expressive and unique.

You're probably a little less weird these days - but even more talented!


I don't know if I was really that arty or emo in high school. Maybe in my head--outwardly I was probably more sullen than anything. Oh how things have changed. You can just call me Ray. (For my current nickname, "ray of fucking sunshine.")

Unfortunately, this post contains no knitting content. (For those of you wondering why I make a big deal about including knitting, I have joined a knitting blog ring and therefore should--and by "should" I mean "must"--post come knitting content.) I promise that when I get a chance to work on my sweater I'll write about that, even though the sweater is still very much in the design stage.

No, this post is about my life as a grad student. As most of you know, I am studying archives at the Faculty of Information Studies. Most of my classes require me to write papers and take tests. I'm fine with writing papers; I didn't choose to major in English as an undergrad cause I hated writing. But sometimes I have a hard time understanding how writing a paper is going to make me a good archivist. (This is along the same lines as my other realization of late--if one is not planning on getting a Ph D, and one is in a professional master's program, how much do one's grades really matter?) For one of my classes I have to do an actual arrangement and description project at an archive, in my case the Railway YMCAs in Canada. I'm really into photography, and there are tons of photos in this fonds (archives term) which is cool. I spent a few hours today and a few hours on Tuesday going through the boxes and trying to figure out how the records should be arranged. This is a project that I can really get into, because not only is it interesting, it's also applicable to my career--I'll actually be doing this for a living. Anyway, I'm so much more into it than I am writing papers at the moment.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Petty as I wanna be

For some reason I am in a petty mood today. I thought lots of bad things in my head as I walked to work, and I was listening to Led Zeppelin which usually gets my blood in a boil, for better or worse. Here are some of my thoughts:

Ok. There is sidewalk etiquette, people! The sidewalk, contrary to popular belief, does not belong to you and you alone. Draw an imaginary line down the middle: half of it belongs to you and half of it belongs to me. To clarify, the right half belongs to me and the left half belongs to you when we are walking in opposite directions. Why? Because we drive on the right-hand side of the road. So, even if you are walking with your kid/dog/grandmother/5 of your best friends, I still get half of the sidewalk, and I want the right half. That means that you will have to relinquish control, which I know you don't want to do, but you know what? It will make you a better person in my eyes, and that should be motivation enough. And if it isn't, I'll zap you with my Taser.

And another thing. The SickKids people really annoy me sometimes, with their "Do you have time for SickKids today?" line. Clearly, these people do not know me AT ALL. I don't even like healthy kids, and the thought of sick ones kind of grosses me out. However, that is not what this rant is about. It's not about the sick kids, it's about the SickKids people. They stand there with their dumpy vests and baggy sweatshirts, their 3-ring binders of hope, their long unkempt hair, and they expect pedestrians to stop and give them money? WTF?

Ok. I'll tell you what pedestrians will stop for--hot chicks and dudes with beer. They need to ditch the ugly vests and get some tank tops (low-cut for the ladies) that say SickKids (or whatever) across the chest. Their employers need to provide them with brushes, combs, and mirrors and have a mandatory hair-brushing/mirror check once an hour. There needs to be a full keg of cheap Canadian beer and those red plastic party cups. There needs to be a big sign that says "Free beer with every donation" and in very small print, this caveat: "Five dollar minimum donation." The hotties could work as crowd bait--throw a sexy woman in a tank top and shorts out into a crowd and I guarantee that you will have more donations than you could shake a stick at. I mean, shit, even I will stop for a hot woman. (Although I'd rather stop for a hot man. Even though I didn't yesterday--there was a totally hot SickKids guy who wanted my attention but seriously, any guy who seems like he might be too much of a do-gooder, particularly when kids are involved, sets off some major alarm bells. But then when he told me to smile, I did like the dancing monkey that I am. Whatever. You would have too cause I'm telling you, the guy was smokin'.) Anyway, enough about me. The less-hotties could man the booth and pour the beer.

We all know that sex appeal is like the easiest way of getting money from people. Why do these charities or whatever they are not use this information for their own purposes? Why am I not in charge of everything?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Designing woman

For the past couple days, I've been trying to decide what to knit with my blue Miami-ocean wool. At first, I thought I wanted to make the Cashmere Lace Sweater from Loop-d-Loop, but when I made a gauge swatch, it turned out that my gauge was a lot bigger than in the pattern. I considered just adjusting the pattern for the gauge of the yarn that I have, but that got annoying. And I'm kind of bad at that.

After much swatching and frogging I've finally decided to just design my own sweater. I took a pattern drafting course at Romni Wools here in Toronto, and I'd like to put what I learned to good use. So... after much ado, I will be making a v-neck sweater, mostly in stockinette stitch (I'd like to show off the colors of the yarn and allover lace sweaters can look a bit frumpy) but with an asymmetrical lace panel up the front, and a lace panel on the sleeves. I think I'll do a picot hem, too. The lace panel will not be as wide as the photos below; the lace pattern is 16 stitches plus one, and while the swatch shows 33 stitches, I'll only use 17 in the sweater.

Here's a couple photos of my swatch blocking:




























Sorry about the weird color quality; when I used the flash it was way too bright and there's not really enough natural light where I pinned the swatch, but I was lazy and didn't want to move it.

One thing that I realized during this whole process is that there are so many ugly knits out there. I spent hours scouring the Internet for pretty lace sweaters and while I did find some (mainly in magazines like Rebecca and Rowan), the majority of the garments that I looked at were awful. There's a Web site that I love called You Knit What that pretty much sums up the quality of knitwear with the advent of fun fur and the "because I can knit it, I should" philosophy. I'm pretty sure that fun fur needs to be banished. If I see one more scarf--or skirt, for the love of God--made out of that stuff I will scream. Oh, and too-baggy tank tops? SO NOT ATTRACTIVE! Call me crazy, but I like to feel at least presentable and maybe even cute in the clothes I wear. If it doesn't fit you properly, maybe you shouldn't be wearing it. Yeah, I know, not all of us have supermodel bodies, but that is no excuse for wearing ugly, ill-fitting clothes, even (especially) if you did make them yourself. If you are at the point where you are capable of making your own clothing, you should be very, very familiar with your measurements, and you should be realistic about what looks good on you and what doesn't. Why waste all that time and energy on something that is going to make you look lumpy, frumpy, and dumpy?

Monday, February 20, 2006

I take it all back.

When I last posted, I said that Oliver was kind of a jerk. Well, as per usual, first impressions are not always accurate. Ollie and I had a major breakthrough last night.

When I was trying to fall asleep, he came into my room and jumped up onto my bed, purring as he went. He then walked across me, licked my hand a couple of times (I totally thought he was going to bite) and then settled down, nuzzling his head against my cheek. And still purring. Oh my God. I love cats. I think that any creature that is soft AND purrs is totally fabulous. Even when I turned over cause I was uncomfortable, he still wanted to cuddle. It was wonderful.

Oliver, you are a prince among cats.

PS--I hope to post some knitting stuff tomorrow. I'm embarking upon a new project and have been swatching, frogging, and reswatching for two days now, so I don't really have anything to show for it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Oliver




Meet the new addition to the family! His name is Oliver, and he's special.

He's not actually my cat; Lorien and I are watching him while Stephanie and Eddie are out of town (lucky bastards). I looooove cats so I was really excited about having him.

Here's the thing, though--he's kind of--how do I say it--a jerk. I mean, last night he was very endearing, hiding under Lorien's bed and making us think that he was somehow overwhelmed by being in a new house without his owners. Maybe he was scared. Maybe he was vulnerable. I think that was part of his plan, though, to trick us (and by us I mean me) into thinking that he was something that he's not (i.e. nice).

Later, I was in bed reading and he came and sat with me. He sat on my book and I was petting him. It was very cute and I was happy that he had overcome his fear and was being friendly. Then he started biting my arm. I know that cats get weird and bitey sometimes, but this cat, as I said, is special. When he started biting, I grabbed him by the scruff and told him to knock it off. I swatted his nose. He took it as a challenge and started biting even harder, this time stalking my arm and pouncing. That shit hurts, so I kicked him out.

I was kind of worried about him attacking me in my sleep but I sort of forgot about it and started to drift off. The next thing I knew, Oliver had crept into my room and was attacking again. We had a bit of a staring contest, I won, and he left.

So this morning he was as sweet as pie. Hmmm. Maybe he has split personalities? Maybe Evil Oliver took over last night and Sweet Oliver was pushed down into the depths of his subconscious. You have to admit, he looks a little bit evil in that picture.

Anyway, I hope that I survive the next week with Oliver. Come to think of it, I haven't seen him in a while... I wonder what he's up to...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Another great read

Yesterday my friend Stephanie loaned me the book The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin. I just finished it and yeah, I know that I read fast. I got home last night after a 12-hour day and started reading it and I couldn't stop.

Does anyone remember The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder? It's part of the Little House series and it chronicles the Ingalls family's experience with the blizzards of 1880-81 in the Midwest. The blizzard that Laskin writes about happened a few years later, in January of 1888, and it was amazing.

In Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Iowa, January 12, 1888, began as a beautiful, relatively warm winter day, with temperatures hovering around freezing (instead of twenty degrees below) for the first time in weeks. The warm weather prompted schoolchildren and adults to go outside to school or to do farming work without wearing overcoats, mittens, scarves, etc. In the afternoon, the temperature dropped considerably, the wind picked up, and the "snow" started falling. Apparently, in blizzard conditions, the precipitation isn't really snow, it's more like finely ground ice needles--like ice-sand--and, due to the wind, creates whiteout conditions so intense that there is "zero/zero" visibility (you cannot see anything above or around you).

So, when the blizzard hit, the schoolteachers had to decide whether to keep the children in the schools overnight or send them home. Most teachers kept the kids overnight but some decided that, since there were farms nearby, they would be better off setting out into the storm. Hundreds of people died in the storm, and since so many of them were kids, it became known as the School Children's Blizzard.

Laskin conducted dozens of interviews with ancestors of survivors and consulted records, diaries, and letters detailing the experiences of the families who experienced the blizzard, as well as the records of the Army weather stations that failed to adequately forecast the conditions. There are a couple of poignant things about the blizzard and the people who went through it: one, most of the people were recent immigrants from Scandinavia and had only been living on the Plains for about five years, long enough to realize that it wasn't the paradise they had been promised--locust plagues and long, hard winters took care of that. But there wasn't much that they could do--they couldn't just pick up and move as soon as the going got tough, because that was where they had chosen to settle. They were committed to five years of homesteading in order to get their land for free. The second thing about the blizzard is that it didn't happen that long ago. This book, and Wilder's books, don't chronicle events that happened in the Dark Ages, or in some other unconceivable time. The Children's Blizzard occurred less than 100 years before I was born.

So much has changed since then... And I think that the settlers in the Midwest and the pioneers who forged the Oregon Trail were so tough. I mean actually tough, not the cynical, jaded, arrogant "tuff" that the postmodern world has created. I mean tough as in pioneer tough, as in build your own house, farm your own land, make your own clothes and your own food, lose kids in childbirth and in childhood, waste not want not, fear God--that kind of tough.

I LOVED the Little House books when I was a kid and a couple of years ago I reread them all for the first time since childhood. They definitely stood the test of time--I found them as interesting as I did as a child. I was struck, when reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, about how even though the Ingalls family lived a kind of life that most of us can't even imagine, and travelled in a covered wagon, and endured blizzards, and lost crops to locust plagues; despite all of those things, they seemed genuinely happy. Maybe that's the way she wanted to portray her family in those books, or maybe their happiness was an anomaly in an age of suffering, but maybe not, too. Maybe it's easy to get depressed about trivial shit like how your hair looks or why boys don't like you--and I am directing these criticisms at myself, not at anyone else--when life is so easy that you don't have to fight for the basics. I don't necessarily want to live in a wagon and build houses, and I appreciate washing machines and the like, but I don't know if our societies and cultures are necessarily better off for all of our mod cons.

Anyone else want to share an opinion?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My latest project



I have been working some more on the green top that I showed earlier this week--or was it last week? I don't remember. Anyway, this pattern has been very easy to work with and the whole thing has gone quickly and well. Last night I was sewing the top to the bottom and it was time to gather the material in the boob area. My first attempt was horrendous. I should have taken a picture, but oh well, I didn't. Suffice it to say that the whole thing sagged and the gather stitches showed. Then I consulted my sewing book. Turns out there's a right way and a wrong way to do gathers. I was doing it the wrong way. I ripped out the basted stitches and followed the instructions in the book and, lo and behold, it looked infinitely better. Now the gathers are more or less where they should be, no ugly stitches show, and when I tried it on, it fits. It's a little loose around the breasts but short of getting implants there's not much I can do about that. Plus, I figure that since the empire waist fits pretty well and it's not supposed to be super-tight, I should just leave well enough alone. I'll show pics of me wearing it when it's finished.

So, my friend Kristen has decided to join the Knitting Olympics and will be making her boyfriend, Drake, a sweater. When she told me this yesterday I thought, "Ok, cool, I hope her project goes well." But then I remembered the Sweater Curse. It goes something like this--women who knit sweaters for their boyfriends, no matter how simple the sweater or how perfect the relationship, always lose in the end. The boyfriends inevitably and invariably break up with them days after receiving the lovingly hand-knitted garment. I think that ladies tend to chalk it up to the tendency of men to downplay the seriousness of their relationships, so when these guys receive a gift that reflects the gravity of the situation because it is handmade, they realize that they are in a Real Relationship and they just might be in deep. That scares the shit out of them and off they go.

Kristen and Drake have a great relationship, they've been together for like a bazillion years (4? 5? Something like that), they live together, and if they had children the kids would be blond-haired blue-eyed beauties. However! The Sweater Curse knows no limits and has ended even the most fairy tale-esque affairs. I caution Kristen to knit the sweater with one eye on the Olympics and one eye on Drake. Is he acting squirrelly? Does he all of a sudden not want to discuss "our" future (not yours and mine, yours and his)? If so, it might be time to put down the knitting needles and stash the sweater in the closet for a while. You can take it out again when there's a ring on that finger.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Brief Wikipedia essay

This is a short essay for the class for which this blog was created. Part of the assignment was to post the essay to our blog.


Overview
Wikipedia.org is a free, open-source encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone with a computer and Internet access. It embraces the idea of collective information, owned by no one and representative of a myriad of viewpoints. As Wikipedia articles require collaboration to avoid obvious and damaging biases, the site’s developers encourage individuals to contribute their knowledge to subjects that are less-developed than others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Contributing_to_Wikipedia). Also, readers can request articles on various topics, from fashion to manga. Wikipedia began in 2001 and, as of February 2006, contains 966,000 articles written in English; dozens of other languages are represented, including Scots Gaelic and Belarusian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About).

Wikipedia has five pages explaining its policies, procedures and guidelines for submitting and editing information:
• What Wikipedia is not
• Neutral point of view
• No original research
• Verifiability
• Citing sources (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About).
Wikipedia does not allow any “unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, and ideas; or any new interpretation, analysis, or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, or arguments that, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimbo Wales, would amount to a ‘novel narrative or historical interpretation’” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research). Wikipedia strongly encourages contributors to cite sources, although it does not require them to do so, and does not allow other Wikipedia articles (called Wikilinks) as valid sources (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources).

Wikipedia in the Library
As Chief Librarian, you may be wondering exactly why openly embracing Wikipedia in your library is a good idea. After all, it doesn’t directly benefit your staff or your patrons—you may not see an increase in patron satisfaction as a result of promoting Wikipedia. However, there are some basic advantages to using, and encouraging the use of, Wikipedia. First, access to it is free. There is no software to purchase or download, so funds need not be allocated to it. Anyone can retrieve the information on its pages without paying a fee. Additionally, you will not have to spend time and money training your staff to use Wikipedia, as it is extremely easy to navigate and its user interface is clean. Pages are well laid-out, and include tables of contents and clearly defined links to cross-referenced subjects and to external Web sites and pages.

The most important advantage to using Wikipedia is that it is a comprehensive source of information that may not be easily obtained elsewhere. Because it can be edited by anyone, anywhere, it is less susceptible to the “Western-centric bias found in many Western publications” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About), giving readers a more diverse understanding of the subject in which they are interested. While the usual encyclopedia subjects are covered, information can also be found on current topics such as specific technological advances and television shows that would not yet (or ever) be represented in a paper encyclopedia. Furthermore, because Wikipedia can be edited instantaneously, it often contains a great deal of up-to-the-minute information on breaking and unfolding news stories (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About). As more and more people continue to look to Wikipedia for information—and as more people trust the site’s contents—it is essential that librarians and patrons be made aware of its presence and are encouraged to contribute to it.

However, you may be wary of the validity and trustworthiness of an online reference source, particularly one that can be edited by anyone. These fears are well-founded—Wikipedia has been and likely will continue to be subject to vandalism. Also, errors and misinformation are likely to be found on an open-source Web site. The developers of Wikipedia acknowledges this—they say, “Indeed, many articles commence their lives as partisan, and it is after a long process of discussion, debate and argument, that they gradually take on a consensus form” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About). Actually, promoting the use of Wikipedia will actually reduce vandalism and increase the site’s trustworthiness: the more contributors there are; the more people who are policing the site, noticing, fixing, and reporting errors and vandalism—these actions all contribute to the validity of collective and diverse knowledge that Wikipedia represents.

Additionally, users are not solely responsible for cleaning up errors. Wikipedia has in place a program that allows its administrators special access privileges. One can become an administrator only after demonstrating their commitment to the site by contributing to it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators). Administrators’ privileges include being given permission to edit the main page, which was placed under restricted access after suffering vandalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators). Wikipedia’s “Administrators” page contains a list of areas in which administrators ensure the flow of accurate information: “3RR violations [‘reverting,’ or changing a page back to a previous state; this is not supposed to be done more than three times in one day, and violations of this rule can result in blocked access], interventions against vandalism, [and] copyright problems,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators) among others.

In conclusion, though there are some problems with Wikipedia, and though much of it is not ready to be used in the same way as a paper encyclopedia, there are some clear advantages to using it and promoting it in the library. Librarians, as information and knowledge managers, have a responsibility to the profession and the people it serves to provide accurate, appropriate information. Wikipedia is fast becoming a well-utilized resource, and promoting its use will only result in a wealth of open, accurate information.

References
Wikipedia. Wikipedia:About. Accessed February 11, 2006, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About

Wikipedia. Wikipedia:Administrators. Accessed Febrary 11, 2006, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators

Wikipedia. Wikipedia:Citing Sources. Accessed Februrary 11, 2006 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources

Wikipedia. Wikipedia:No original research. Accessed February 11, 2006 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research

Stitchin' Bitch

I had to work all day yesterday, which is when I discovered that I have a cold. It's not debilitating or anything, but it is annoying and it has resulted in a perma-headache of the tension variety.

Anyway, I could have gone out last night but I felt crappy so I decided against it. All I wanted was food that I didn't have to cook and a good OC sesh (thanks, Limewire!). In between, however, I decided to work on a top that I'm sewing.

I tried to sew a top last summer and it was horrendous. The top, I mean. It was a huge pain in the ass and it didn't fit and I hated it. But this one has been different, so far. Probably cause I chose a much easier pattern with fewer pieces, and the fabric that I'm using is plain old cotton, or maybe--and I like to think that this is true, too--my sewing skills have improved. I have the upper half of the top finished with the exception of the armhole facings and I wanted to show it off. So without further ado, here it is:















And here is a close-up of the pattern:











Well, that's all I got. Life isn't that exciting and yeah, I did spend Saturday night with my sewing machine. Here's to hoping the title of this blog isn't true!

Friday, February 10, 2006

New toys

Now that I have a moment to breathe after the insanity of this week, I can show off my new toys and what I can do with them. On Tuesday, a fabulous package arrived in the mail for me, courtesy of George.

Here is my new ball winder (l) and yarn swift (r):















And together, this is what they achieved last night:





















This yarn is soooo pretty. It reminds me of the ocean in Miami, which is why I chose it. I had decided to make a lacey scarf with it, but here's the thing--I'm not that into scarves. They're ok, but after knitting lots of long rectangles, I feel the need to graduate to something a bit more complicated. I'm more interested in making sweaters at this point than scarves, and I found a really cool sweater pattern in Loop-d-Loop that I would like to make. As with most of Teva Durham's designs, it is certainly original. Some of her stuff is a bit too quirky for me but I can take the bad because the good is usually really good, as it is with the Cashmere Lace Blouse that I'm going to attempt. I'm going to try it with the blue yarn and see what I get.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Say it with me now: "I hate Research Methods"!

Actually, I don't hate Research Methods. I think it's pretty interesting, to be honest, and I feel like I'm learning quite a bit. Plus, it appeals to my critical side. (Yeah, I know, I'm composed entirely of "critical side.") However, writing this paper is a PITA. If I write the word "researchers" one more time I might kill myself. I feel like I've been working on this thing for weeks. [For those of you not in the know, the assignment is to write a 10-12 page 1.5-space paper critiquing a published research article. (1.5 spaced! WTF? Good thing I didn't find that out until last night when I thought I had 8 pages written and it turned out I only had 6. Not to mention that I've been typing assignments double-space since, like, 9th grade.) Turns out the research articles we had to choose from are full of holes. Lots to write about. Joy and happiness, indeed.]

Anyhoo, my procrastination moment must end posthaste if I want to finish this thing tonight. Which I do. Because I have to. And then tomorrow I'm going to go get drunk at Pub Night. Word!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Oh. My. God.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/02/06/when_librarians_protect_terrorists/?p1=MEWell_Pos2

If you want to read something ridiculous, visit the above link and read the article entitled "When librarians protect terrorists," by Richard L. Cravatts.

As a graduate student of an information studies program, a former employee of a bookstore, an avid reader and, in my opinion, a fairly decent citizen, the idea that libraries and bookstores should be required to turn their patrons' and customers' records over to the feds is deeply unsettling. I oppose the so-called Patriot Act--I feel that it is nothing more than W's continued crusade to marshall his forces of evil and idiocy and turn my country into a police state--even though I abhor the idea and the reality of terrorism.

Obviously, September 11th was one of the most unimaginable tragedies of my lifetime--however, that does not give anyone the grounds to attack the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and remove Americans' rights to privacy. Whose business is it if I choose to purchase Nabokov's Lolita at the bookstore, or check out books on witchcraft from the library? As long as I'm not preying on children, as long as I'm not actually performing ritual sacrifices*--essentially, as long as I'm innocent, and until I can be proven guilty--no one needs to know about my reading habits.

Where it grows murky is when I do actually commit a crime that can be linked to my reading habits. At first, when I considered this, my immediate reaction was, "No, of course no one should have access to my library/bookstore records, even if I have done something wrong. That's an invasion of privacy." Then I thought about the number of times that I have cited violent video games as "the downfall of society" (I don't like video games, can you tell?)--or more specifically, that violent video games have been singled out as one reason that those two teenagers killed that taxi driver here in Toronto last week. There was a copy of "Need for Speed" found in one of the boys' cars, and there was speculation that they were imitating the moves on the video game when the one car crashed into the taxi. If I had it my way, video games would be censored. But I don't feel that way about books. I would never remove Lolita from the bookstore, or Mein Kampf even, for the sake of censorship. I almost wish I would, because then I wouldn't be a hypocrite when it comes to video games.

However. I also think that reading, or listening to heavy metal or rap or classical music or tribal chants, or even, though I hate to admit it, playing video games, isn't going to change the intrinsic nature of a person. There would still be child molestors if Lolita didn't exist; there would still be genocide if Mein Kampf was banned; that taxi driver would still have died if "Need for Speed" was censored; and, even if that library director had surrendered that patron's records, there would still be terrorists. I don't think that something as simple as censoring video games or banning books or operating a widespread surveillance program of your citizens is going to change what is inherently wrong with our societies, our cultures, and our world.

The Shoe Package finally arrives

No knitting post today. Well, maybe later today, as in what will be tomorrow when I wake up in the morning.

So. I got a package of sneakers in the mail the other day. Sneakers, you say. How could that be interesting and/or exciting? Well, let me tell you. When you have been walking around for years (years!) in sneakers that are one size too small and you only just now realized that and that your feet have been hurting cause your shoes were too tight, then you will consider sneakers to be a wonderful and exciting arrival. And, too, when you have been shopping at the insane Red, White, and Blue thrift store in Miami (a dangerous adventure, that) and you have seen brand! new! Roos! And your mom wouldn't buy them for you cause they were too expensive (if you try to sell the woman a book for a quarter, she'll offer you a dime and not a penny more--it sounds obnoxious but she's Queen of the Bargain which often works in my favor) and you didn't want to buy them yourself, and then when your mom goes back to the store and buys them for half off (when you've already returned to university)--then, and only then, friend, will you understand the greatness of The Shoe Package:















Ah yes. The Shoe Package. (Contains beat-up scuffed running shoes and grandpa shoes too, but that's neither here nor there.)

And! The Shoe Package also contained the new issue of Bust, which is my favorite magazine. Debbie Stoller of Stitch n Bitch fame is the editor and it's all about being female and being fabulous but not in a Cosmo-whore/Mall of America way. It's about DIY and knitting, all-girl bands, healthy sexuality, clothes that real women would and could actually wear, and the great thing is that it's not anti-men. Cause I'm certainly not anti-men and I don't see why I have to be in order to be considered a feminist.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Little Blue Top

My friend Kristen is knitting the Little Black Top from Stitch n Bitch and I wish her infinitely more luck with hers than I had with mine. There were many lessons learned from that project:
1) cotton SUCKS,
2) don't change the pattern unless you know what you are doing,
3) sewing a seam, while it is not a fine art, is definitely something worth understanding.

Here is the result:



















Apologies for the blur. It would appear that I haven't entirely figured out my digital camera yet. Anyway.
The tank top is definitely never going to get worn outside of the house. I left it behind in Miami when I moved here, yet somehow my mom found it necessary to include it in a package of requested items. It is haunting me. It's the specter of shoddy craftswomanship.

Here's a closeup of a craptastic seam:



















However! Lest you think I totally suck at knitting, allow me to present the cardigan I knitted this fall.
I know that it's missing a button; it fell off a couple of weeks ago and since I got the buttons from my aunt, it's not that simple to replace.

I used Cascade 220 and I had tons left over, which means that this project actually didn't cost that much. I think, though, that next time I make a sweater, I'm going to use thinner yarn. I think that Cascade 220 is worsted and while it knit up fairly quickly, I think I'd prefer something that shows mistakes less. And I'll also do some kind of textured stitch or colorwork or something to give it more interest. But still, I like this cardigan and I wore it all the time until the button fell off.