Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Toy!

I have had a camera since I was eight or nine years old. My first one was a hot pink 110 MM camera that my Auntie Wolf bought me. This was bought in defiance of my parents, since they wouldn't buy me a camera. I loved it, and it's … somewhere.

My second camera was $20 at Natural Wonders- a great little 35mm camera with panoramic functions, which I used during our summer trip to Tehran in 1997. I took pictures of Persepolis, Hafez's tomb, the Blue Mosque and Iranian toilets. At some point during the trip, I dropped it in the joub (gutter with running water). Once it dried, we salvaged the film, and incredibly, the camera still worked.

Andrew bought his digital camera over the summer of 2004. I think it was christened in South Dakota, where we took pictures of the Sioux Falls, the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore. I've got a great picture where I am posing like the forefathers. I would look great carved in stone. But I digress.

Between 1997 and 2004 (when Andrew bought his digital camera), I didn't find much use or need for a camera. So I didn't buy a new one. During that time, I can only remember taking a few pictures of Indigo, my favorite rat EVER. I wasn't really the picture-taking type, and I especially wasn't into developing pictures that could (and usually did) look like crap.

I started blogging in 2004, but only recently (in the last year or so) started adding photos (or FO-tos, as I like to refer of them). I found that Andrew's camera has a good user interface, but I had an incredibly hard time gauging what my photos would look like on my computer monitor/blog from the view screen on the camera.

Pictures that had incredible color contrast (on my computer) looked dark and unfortunate on the view screen. It was frustrating, but we had a digital camera, and I couldn't justify buying a new digital camera for a free blog.

Until Saturday.

Andrew picked up a newspaper and we read that one of the local camera shops is going out of business. On a whim, I said, "Well, if they're going out of sale, they might have their stock on sale. I want a digital camera with a bigger view screen."

So, we're rolling towards the camera place, and Andrew starts throwing out technical questions, like "Digital or Optical Zoom?" "What kind of storage do you want?"

I was tempted to use my Cartman voice and say "Dammit, I just want a camera!" Instead, we discussed the merits of digital and optical zoom, SD storage cards, and the Nikon user interface.

We get to the camera place, and this very cute girl walks up to "help" us. We tell her we want a point-and-shoot camera, and she hands over four different models (two Nikons, a Canon, and something else). We start playing with them, and immediately, I reject everything but the Nikons because they had super-small view screens.

So, there was the little, teeny, flat Nikon CoolPix, and there was the S10, that was much cooler. We start asking questions about the camera- not hard questions, but questions that a camera shop salesgirl * should * know. In theory.

Every time was asked a question, she would make a cute face an plaintively ask for her co-worker (Mike or Dave, or something) to come and answer questions that could have been answered by LOOKING AT THE BOX. Apparently, being pretty was the sole basis of her employment, and she wasn't smart enough to hand us the box or a manual.

I ended up getting the CoolPix S10 (which has 10x Optical zoom, and after that, digital zoom), and a rotating lens. It's neat-o.

It has like a million other features, but I haven't had a chance to read the manual yet (which is my homework for this weekend).

I hope you, my silent readers, can see a quality difference in my photography on Le Blog. That way, I can convince myself that it was an equipment (and not a user) issue.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Linda Yarn- Part II

So out of the 28 oz of roving that Linda bought at Stitches, 16 oz of it has officially been spun, plied and set. Here is the 4 oz of turquoise roving (from Angora Cottage):

Monday, March 12, 2007

First Stitches FO!

So, I mentioned in "The Haul" post that Linda bought roving, despite the fact that she doesn't spin (yet). So, ladies and gents, here is my first Stitches FO, Linda's handspun (part 1 of 3):

Before (true color):

Singles (slightly distorted color):

Plied (true color):

This is a 12 oz skein of yarn, all of it bought from Carolina Homespun. Once ply is "Midnight" one of them is "Garnet" (it's not burgundy, I know), and the third is mystery color (unlabeled).

The really cool thing is that there is a noticeable difference in my spinning since taking Sandi's spinning class. My yarn is not so crazily overspun and overplied, and this hank had maybe 1/8 of a twist in it (as opposed to so much energy that it looked like an anemone before I set it).

I began spinning Linda's Handspun, part 2 immediately after completing part 1. I spun 80 grams (of a total 120) in one night.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


So, life has been a little tumultuous since the beginning of 2007, and I was hit by this overwhelming panic about all of my UFOs.

"What if I died? I would have an entire room full of UFOs."

For the record, I'm not planning for imminent death; if you look at the current size of my stash as a measure of how long I think I'm going to live, it's at least another 120 years.

The honest truth is that it was a more than a little shaming to reveal a * fraction * of my UFOs to Ally when we [she] rearranged the furniture in my office/guest bedroom/yarn room. Normally, I would just be defiant and state that UFOs show that I am a process-not-product knitter.

Which is garbage. I am totally a product knitter. Sure, I enjoy the process, but I also really like zooming around town in my FOs. I also feel a certain swell of joy when I see others sporting my duds, if you will, but only in those rare occasions where I deign to knit for others. ("Others" not being Andrew or Mom.)

So now, I feel this odd panic about finishing my UFOs so that they're not haunting me, and all I really want to do is start new stuff and pretend the old stuff doesn't exist and isn't taking up valuable California real estate. Getting rid of some of the UFOs will also alleviate some of my stash guilt/ Andrew sighing when I buy new things.


Me: Oooh! [XXX company] has new [XXX yarn]!
Andrew: * sighs deeply *
Me: [Unhappy feeling in stomach, realizing that I have more yarn in my office * alone * than some stores I have shopped at.] Ok, I'll order some. [Retail therapy gets rid of unhappy stomach.]

So here it is, in print. I'm going to finish some UFOs. I'm going to get it together and get it done. If you see me working on something new, feel free to mock/abuse/[insert your verb of choice here] me.

Unless it's socks, then leave me alone. Those are transitory projects and thus, necessary.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Niki & Elphie Story

I've talked about my dogs before, but I don't think I have gone into how crazy it is 'round our house , which we lovingly refer to as the "Shanty" (thanks Mike!). Some background may clear things up.

Niki and Elphie are both rescues (Niki is from CARE in Saratoga, Elphie is from Keepers for Creatures in Tracy/San Jose). Niki is (we think) a Chow/Spitz mix, and Elphie is (we think) a Chow/Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix. They are the best dogs EVER, it's been both scientifically and statistically proven (by me).

[I didn't use fancy math or science, but my word should be enough for people who read my blog, right?]

We adopted Niki on Feb. 15, 2005 (the same day I was officially hired for my first job after college). He was crate trained, potty-trained and knew "sit". He was (and still is) a discerning fashion critic, chewing up ugly shoes that his couture-challenged owners insist on wearing. His problem was that he had HORRIBLE separation anxiety and would bark non-stop from the time we left until we got home. We tried treats, we tried leaving the radio or TV on. Nothing worked.

I called CARE and explained (clearly) that I had no interest in surrendering him, first and foremost, and enumerated the different things we had tried. They suggested adopting a friend for him, a female, in the event that he got aggressive with males later on. (This never happened, but whatever.)

We had just closed escrow on the house and I started looking on the internet for another Chow mix (the euthanasia rates on Chows are incredibly high), and we found Elphie. I showed Andrew her picture (along with 5 or 6 other candidates) and that was it. Elphie was THE ONE, and Andrew had named her before we had even met her.

I had to schmooze with the woman from the rescue for HOURS. Close to 15 hours of phone time, three hours for the "interview" (not including the car ride up and back from Tracy), and the three hours she trapped me when I went to pick up Elphie and bring her home (two days after we moved into the Shanty).

According to the woman at the rescue, Elphie was perfectly (and completely) trained and, if asked nicely, would even do the laundry. Her only issue was that she had a stomach parasite, and here were the nice little [unlabeled] jar of antibiotics for it.

When we got home, we learned that Elphie wasn't potty trained, leash trained or any other kind of trained and had been obviously seriously abused and unloved. We took her to the vet, and she had not one, but two parasites, and the antibiotics were not the right ones, and likely prescribed for another dog's different ailment, rather than Elphie's parasite. This explained why she was skin and bones.

She would hide in the backyard under the bushes when people came in the house and took ages to warm up to people. She was terrified of everyone at the vet. Loud noises would make her drop her back and pee in terrified submission, as would approaching her the "wrong" way. Her tail and ears were down the first three weeks she lived with us. She would not get in the car voluntarily and appeared agoraphobic, since any attempt to take her for a walk would end in her dragging the walk-er back to the door.

A month after we got her, you would have sworn she was a different dog. Tail up, ears up, happy to greet people- and potty-trained! The car took time, and so did the walking, but we learned that she would watch Niki do something, then she would do it. If Niki was there, Elphie was there. They bonded quickly, which was sweet.

They're definitely different dogs, since Niki thinks he's a person and that Elphie is a dog, and Elphie thinks she is a kitten. We (the humans) are living under the delusion that the house belongs to us, but really, it belongs to the dogs and we just pay to live there.

They both still have their quirks. Niki is a food kleptomaniac, and Elphie will pummel you with her paws if you are pretending you are asleep on a Saturday morning instead of getting out of bed and taking them to the park. She's fierce, and runs on a schedule.

Niki likes to chew on a toy while he has his tummy scratched, and likes it when people say "Carrrrrrne Asada" (like Ricardo Montelban, or the lions in the Taco Bell commercial). I used to give him treats for being cute, to train him to continue being cute. When I'm sick, he sleeps on my head and only leaves my side for bathroom breaks and food breaks.

Note: Andrew should be killed for taking pictures of me sleeping.

Niki is snuggliest in the morning, and will lay down on my clothing (while I am trying to get dressed for work) if I have not paid enough attention to him that morning. "Enough attention" varies from day to day, and is completely subjective and up to Niki. Niki is also social to a fault (he gets that from me), with both people and dogs in public. He loves other dogs and has a "special predilection" [read "gay"] for male toy breeds.

When Niki was a puppy and we were living in the cottage, I would kennel him in the bathroom with me while I took showers (so he wouldn't destroy stuff). Afterwards, I would towel him off (he was dry) to play. Now he likes to stand in the rain, and will proudly present his soaked and furry behind to me to towel off.

Elphie is a completely different dog. First off, she thinks she's a kitten. If you're ever at our house between 9 and 11 am, you can witness what can only be called "kitten time", where she stretches, lays out all of the toys on the floor, rolls around on them, then hunts them. Unlike Niki, she does not like to get her paws wet, so she waits in the house and watches Niki get soaked.

She is reserved around other dogs, but will play if the other dog pursues play enough. She is also reserved around new people at first, but warms up to people over time and is a snuggling criminal mastermind.

Elphie also has a taste for tearing paper, dryer sheets, and tangling yarn- especially expensive ribbon yarns.

There is loads more, but this should do for now.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Stitches West- The Haul

Per Angela's demands- er, requests, here are the pictures of what I bought at Stitches West 2007.

I bought some yarn from Lisa Souza:

...and some roving:

A Don't Drop Spindle and Orifice Hook from Michael & Sheila Ernst:

I also bought some of the Monarch sock yarn from them:

I bought some roving from Angora Cottage and Carolina Homspun:

I also bought some Crosspatch Creations roving from Carolina Homespun:

Stunning Rainbow Bumps from Carolina Homespun:

I stopped by Ellen's Half Pint Farm and got some of her Superwash Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn (look at that sheen!):

I bought some lace yarn for my newfound love of lace knitting:

Some lovely Cashmere roving:

Linda bought some roving too:

But since she doesn't spin, she bought these to pay me in trade (the three on the left are from Ellen's Half Pint Farm and the one on the right is something else):