Thursday, January 31, 2008

To Catch A Smuppet

[For those of you not in “the know”, Smuppet is one of Elphie’s many nicknames. Her other nicknames include: Missy Moo, Puppet, Tiny Cujo, WRD, Muffin, Devil Dog, Smelphaba, Elphabutt. The list goes on and on.]

Elphie is normally a pretty good dog. She’s relatively obedient, and when we’re consistent about keeping the pack order, she follows the rules beautifully. But she has days where she likes to mess with me.

Once every few months, she’ll decide to take advantage of a slightly open door and go wandering. I’m usually carrying an armload of stuff, or in impossibly high heels. The stuff (or shoes) get abandoned, and I bolt out after her.

On the few occasions where Niki has gone a’wandering, we have a “shaker box”- a plastic container full of dog treats which we shake, and magically Niki reappears, sitting, as if nothing has transpired. But while he’s there, he gets a treat for sitting, right? Right.

Elphie is the opposite- not treat motivated at ALL. I can’t run after her- because chasing is a game, and she’s already begun play. Walking at a good clip, but doing “calm” breathing, and calling out to her softly, I have to come up slowly, reach for her S-L-O-W-L-Y, then grab her firmly by her scruff. At this point, I carry her home, squirming like a fiend.

Today, we had some firsts.

For the first time, I didn’t initially grab her scruff with authoritah.

For the first time, there was a car. I heard it coming, and so I got between Elphie and the car. During this “game”, Elphie runs away from me, and thus, away from the car. Crisis averted.

For the first time, Elphie crossed the street. Even though there wasn’t any traffic, I don’t like that she’s comfortable prancing across the street. Cars drive on the street. The sidewalk is safer, by comparison.

For the first time, once she had been grabbed with authoritah, she didn’t squirm while I carried her home.

Once we walked back into the house, Niki gave her corrections (by growling and biting her nose, butt, and scruff).

The whole ordeal took about five minutes- but a long five minutes. The day can only get better from here, right?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

“My kingdom for a coat!”

A few nights ago, I was on the phone with Linda, waxing poetic about this beautiful coat I had tried on a few months back. I had decided, after trying it on and LOVING it, that I would wait until it went on sale. Because at Wilson’s, things always go on sale, and it’s usually a good sale.

I pulled up the website, and to my great surprise, my coat was ON SALE!

In XL. ONLY in XL.

This was good for Linda, who is busty enough to fill out an XL. On my best day, I can’t fill an XL. I told Andrew about it, and said that I would call the stores in the area to see if I could find one in a Small. I tried Oakridge, Gilroy, and Milpitas. No luck, only an Unpleasant Associate at the Milpitas store- who was supposedly in possession of my coat, in a Small.

When the Unpleasant Associate was on the phone with me, and I asked him to check his stock, he took thirty seconds and deemed- in an annoyed tone of voice- that my coat was never there. I wanted to speak with someone else, so I called back two hours later, and got the same guy. I gave Andrew the information about the coat, and the phone number.

Andrew had some success. He spoke with the Unpleasant Associate, who managed to find my coat at the Pleasanton store. Andrew called me to let me know that not only had he found my coat, but that he was going to drive up to Pleasanton to pick it up for me.

While I normally would have responded with a “Sweet!”, I knew exactly how long his day had ALREADY been. I said, “I’ll go and get it, that way you’re not driving all night.” I called Cynthia, and she joined me for the jaunt out to Pleasanton.

The fates were with us, we were parked just outside where the Wilson’s was, and there was my beautiful coat, in my size. Choirs of angels rejoiced as I paid for my beautiful treasure. As I was paying, the Very Helpful Manager pointed out that there was another coat in my size- in white. On hold until 9 PM. She was fairly certain that the customer wasn’t coming to get it- it was already about 8PM at this point, and they close at 9PM.

We made a swing through the mall, bought some necessary stuff, and headed back. During this jaunt, Jasmin 2007 and Jasmin 2008 had a necessary discussion.

J2007: I should buy the pretty white coat. It’s my dream coat.

J2008: I bought the black coat. That’s the dream coat. I don’t think I could keep a white coat clean for five minutes.

J2007: I don’t give myself enough credit. I am a competent adult. I could keep a white coat clean.

J2008: I don’t need-need it. But the cut and fit is amazing.

J2007: AND if you decide you don’t like it, you can dye it.

J2008: It’s on sale at half the original price. So that’s two amazing coats for the price of one.

J2007: That’s VALUE.

J2008: I’ve gotten rid of a lot of clothes. Including coats.

J2007: You’re good, J2008. You’ve waited on the coat until it went on sale, you haven’t bought anything you didn’t need, and you’re getting rid of things you’re not using. You’ve even waited on those pretty dress shoes you’ve been lusting after.

J2008: I have been very virtuous.

J2007: What’s one extra coat? Tim Gunn would approve on all fronts.

The white coat is MINE now.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Husbands and knitting

[Note: This is a Very Opinionated Post. You have been warned.]

I listed to a lot of Podcasts. Recently, I’ve been catching up on some older ones. This morning, while I was listening to knitTherapy, one of the K’s was talking about going on vacation, and her husband PROHIBITING knitting on their vacation.

The whole issue of husbands prohibiting knitting gets me completely incensed- what does working on a sock or a shawl on vacation take away from the husband? Nothing. It’s a control issue. We are all equal contributors in our relationships- whether or not you are the breadwinner is irrelevant.

When Andrew and I started dating, I made it clear that knitting was an established part of my identity. Knitting means yarn. Not knitting makes me cranky. When we got married, Andrew was aware that my stash was my trousseau. Lucky him, right? Of course right.

That’s exactly right. Knitting is art, and I would no sooner expect a knitter to quit knitting than an opera singer to stop singing, or a painter to stop painting. It’s stupid, and moreso, it’s disrespectful. Not only that, but it violates the “Love, honor, and cherish/obey” vow that many of us took when we got married. It also violates the “For better or for worse” bit.

I can say with a fair measure of certainty that the anti-knitting husbands all have hobbies and interests. Women, generally speaking, either absorb or accept their partner’s hobbies and interests. In the seven years I worked at the LYS, I heard husband after husband bitch and moan about all the “knitting crap” that their wives spent money on.

That’s really what it comes down to: money. If it’s free (like washing dishes, or doing laundry, or vacuuming), the spouses tend to be all for it. Like women often do, these women devalue themselves by referring to the communal money as their husband’s money. These are the same husbands who “babysit” when they spend time with their own children. The whole mess is infuriating.

Here’s my solution:

Scenario A:

Non-knitting spouse: Don’t bring your knitting.

Knitter: You’re right. My off-time is much better spent strangling the life out of you. [Sweet smile.]

Scenario B:

Non-knitting spouse: Don’t bring your knitting.

Knitter: It’s my vacation, too, darling. My knitting doesn’t take anything away from you. [Sweet smile.]

Scenario C:

Non-knitting spouse: Don’t bring your knitting.

Knitter: [Melodramatic, complete with hand against forehead] Without knitting, I am like a fish out of water, a woman with no air, a car with no gas. I simply * cannot be * without my knitting.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A letter to Brenda Dayne

Dear Brenda;

I would like to start by saying that I am a huge fan of your Podcast. Until tonight, I haven’t really felt the need to write to you, but the Annie Modesitt interview brought up some serious issues that exist in the knitting industry. Annie’s perspective is that of a designer, which is totally valid; the side that lacked representation was that of the knitting magazines. I’ve seen both sides, to a limited extent.

I published my first pattern at 19 years old. I was paid a total of $150 dollars for the design. When I was a Junior in college, I wrangled an internship at XRX, Inc. It was the most enlightening eleven weeks of my life. I don’t speak for XRX, but I can speak what I observed firsthand while I was there.

Long work days are the norm there. They have a small staff and it was clear from the beginning that nobody was living as high on the hog as the average Knitter’s subscriber would believe. Several of the staff members worked second jobs to make ends meet. The cost of living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is low in comparison to Silicon Valley (where I live), but there still are costs.

Submissions are reviewed and accepted or rejected- but that is only the beginning of the process. Even the most meticulous designers need copyediting, proofreading, and test knitting. Even Annie, a veteran knitwear designer, has a page on her website of corrections to her patterns. All the people that the magazines employ need to be paid- and where the designers can opt not to design a piece here and there- the employees at the magazines are there Monday through Friday, and more when publication dates near.

As with any sort of artistic profession, one must be inventive in order to get paid a living wage to indulge their passion. I was fortunate to have been raised with an artistic spirit and a firm grasp on reality- I have a job that pays my bills and fulfills me artistically. I feel that it is easy to say, “We should be paid a living wage,” without a thought as to how this can be accomplished realistically. Annie wants knitwear designers to unionize, but her idea is flawed in how she mused on implementing it. While I sympathize with her sentiment, it’s unrealistic.

Every business has unforeseen costs and setbacks. These costs are absorbed into the company- salaries are not affected, the cost of the magazine doe not rise, designers are paid the same, and the end consumer (We The Knitters) are not expected to recoup the costs of the losses. While produce, oil, and milk costs are on the rise, our knitting publications charge the same prices that they did five years ago. The publishers are absorbing those extra costs.

While I was working at XRX I realized the We The Knitters are part of the problem with paying designers what they’re worth- be it a living wage or otherwise. All knitters are guilty of swapping copywritten patterns. Whether they knowingly violate copyright or not, every knitter has photocopied a pattern- at least once- for a friend. Some people thrill in buying one pattern and passing it around. It’s a hot topic in knitting- mention it on the Knitlist and flame wars ensue. Some designers prosecute, and they’re labeled with ugly names for defending their intellectual property. On an individual basis, it’s petty theft; on a national (and global) level, it’s staggering.

People don’t want to pay for things like knitting patterns- sites like Knitty and MagKnits promote the idea that access for all equals free. The perception has become that if the webzines can afford to give patterns away, the magazines and individual pattern producers appear greedy by comparison. I could make the strongest argument for why people should not photocopy patterns and steal from designers, but those arguments are lost on dead ears. It’s a sense of entitlement that deafens.

As a culture, We The Knitters are very generous. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Tricoteuses Sans Frontieres movement has raised close to half a million dollars. These are the same giving people who don’t understand the larger implications of Intellectual Property theft. It is, after all, only knitting. Annie has experienced the generosity of We The Knitters firsthand; her husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma last year, and she designed a piece specifically to help recoup some of the costs of her husband’s recovery. According to her website, they reached their financial goal.

I don’t design for a living; I work a more standard job for a large company. Regardless of the company’s performance on the whole, my salary does not change. Those who wish to recoup the financial benefits of the company buy stock in those companies. Those who do not take the larger financial risks are not entitled to the larger financial rewards.

Unions charge dues and set pricing on labor. If companies are forced by unions to pay more for designs, there will be less available. This loss will hurt knitters, designers, and publishers in the long run. Instead of unionizing, knitwear designers should buy stock (or invest) in those publishing companies. Get into the infrastructure and make a change- that’s what they taught us in college, right?

I understand that designers should be paid a living wage. Everyone deserves to make a living wage- but this is why actors work as waiters. Because they understand that their passion doesn’t necessarily mean a regular paycheck. Just because we deserve something doesn’t necessarily mean that we get it.

Thank you, as always, for putting out a Podcast that inspires and provokes. I look forward to meeting you on Sea Socks.

Best regards,

Jasmin

Friday, January 25, 2008

Carrots and knitting lace

Except for my knitting, I’m generally a very goal-oriented and focused person. I’m very good about making deadlines (for work), and completing things on (usually ahead) of schedule. I recently came out and admitted to one of my co-workers that I don’t knit one project at a time, or finish more projects than I start. I’m lucky if I finish a couple of pieces a month, really.

Part of this is because I need different things at different times: socks for travel knitting, lace for when my brain craves more, sweaters when I’m inspired to knit them (at home). Different projects for different places.

I also prioritize my knitting; if I have an event to wear it to, it gets bumped up. If it’s a gift that’s due (which is really rare for me), it gets bumped up. This is when I start getting resentful of my knitting. The full moon rises and the Knitting transforms into Obligatory Knitting. Big, ugly, fangy Obligatory Knitting.

The only way (for me) to overcome the despair brought on by Obligatory Knitting is to plan a Better Project. Juno Regina was a Better Project (at one point), and my next Better Project is Muir.

Black Walnut

See the planning? Everything needed is in a bag. Juno Regina is getting to the point where I’m going to have to start actively paying attention to it. Once Juno is done, Muir can begin.

The issue isn’t having concurrent lace projects- it’s more of a carrot. Finish one, start the next. I’m not as virtuous as you might think.

I have a Convertible on the needles.

Convertible- CU

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Conversation

Me: I can’t decide whether to go home or to go to knitting tonight.

Andrew: Come home.

Me: But they have the massage guy there tonight. I could get a massage.

Andrew: You could come home and give ME a massage.

Me: Wow. That’s the opposite of what I wanted to do.

Andrew: Or, I could massage you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Progress is inevitable

I have been making some steady progress on my Juno Regina. See?

Photobucket

I’m planning on making some adjustments to the pattern- one of which is to shorten it from eighty inches down to sixty. But.

CJ mentioned that the shawl is asymmetrical. I looked at the pattern, and evidently, the charts aren’t symmetrical.

But.

Looking at the photos, they appear to be close enough to symmetrical to warrant knitting it one piece- in lieu of knitting it in two pieces and grafting it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Crushing defeat

Or, more accurately, crushing da hand. Ba dum bum.

On Thursday, my left hand incurred a crushing injury. No bones were broken, it just got smooshed pretty thoroughly. Colleen took care of the triage work and kept an eye on me, and no X-rays or emergency rooms were needed.

I was reminded how I don’t like to sit empty handed. I couldn’t type, I couldn’t knit. What was a woman to do?

I spun. I could put the ice pack on the affected area, and my left hand simply held the roving. I got a lot accomplished.

The Exhausted Pinks were spun and plied (almost 1000 yards of a respectable fingering weight):

Photobucket

Photobucket

I spun and plied my Henrietta (from The Dyeing Arts, bought from the Lime’n’Violet store)- I finally managed a 3-ply sock weight yarn (450 yds/4 oz.)!

Photobucket

Photobucket

I love this color. It’s psychedelic Easter egg colors. My fingers are itching to knit these.
Not to leave you wanting, but I did have a three day weekend. I also spun and plied 4 ounces of “She’s Like a Rainbow” from Crown Mountain.

She's Like a Rainbow- Roving

She's like a rainbow- skein

She's like a rainbow- CU

This turned out a little thicker than intended- but it’s a nice sport weight (roughly 350 yds/4 oz). The cooler part is what I decided while I was spinning it.

First, if you’re planning on buying any roving from Crown Mountain, DO. Klaus is a charming man, the roving is an AMAZING value, and it is excellent quality. I couldn’t recommend it more- especially if you’re a beginning spinner.

They give you 8.5 ounces for $19, which is awesome. That means you can spin a thicker yarn and still have enough yardage for something. With 4 ounces, you either have enough for a hat (or socks), or you don’t. That’s it.

Once you’re a more consistent spinner, you know how much you need (roughly) for your intended project. At this point, if Andrew isn’t into the color I’m spinning, I’m only spinning 4 ounces of the bump. Which means, I can trade or sell the other 4-4.5 oz.

Either way, it works.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Black sock series, pair #3

I've been actively working on the Black Sock Project, and as I occasionally finish things, here are a few shots of the FO, on Andrew:

black socks

What's that in the background?

niki background

A sleeping Niki.

(Yes, we do vacuum regularly. This is the aesthetic decor that comes from having two Chow mixes.)


EXTREEEEEEME close-up:

black sock2

Andrew Regia Socks

I've been spinning, too. I finished 4 (of 12 oz) of the Oriental Poppies:

Oriental Poppies- regular close-up

Oriental Poppies- big skein


Here's a small amount Navajo-plied:

Oriental Poppies- Navajo plied close-up

Oriental Poppies- Navajo plied

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sense and color sensibility

On Sunday, I made a trek over to Purlescence to deliver some gluten-free beer cheese soup, and to pick up two balls of sock yarn.

Since one of the Minions has Celiac disease, a fair amount of my cooking (for Saturdays) is gluten-free. Since one of the Purl Girls has a wheat allergy, when I have a gluten-free dish, I like to share. A fair amount of Persian food happens to be gluten-free, so options aren't entirely limited for the anti-wheat contingent. But when a woman has a hankering for beer cheese soup, nobody stands in her way. And by "her" I mean, me.

When I made the decision to do beer cheese soup, I called Erica and discussed gluten-free beer, along with safe brands of chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce. Grocery shopping was done, and the soup took less than a half hour (both prep and cooking time). Once the Minions were done eating, we separated out a care package to be delivered.

Not to toot my own horn, but that soup was GOOOOD. I modified the recipe a fair amount, which I normally don't do the first time I try a recipe, but what can I say? Jasmin 2008 lives dangerously.

I hung out at Purlescence for a little while, caused a little chaos, bought some black sock yarn, and bought some UUUUUUGly sock yarn. See?

fugly sock yarn

Ok, maybe it's not "UUUUUUGly", but it IS loud. My recent success with overdyeing has made me bold. I see unusual, moderately unappealing colors, a generous sale price, and I think "That will be TERRIFIC to overdye."

While I was there, Robin asked what color it was going to be. The truth is, I don't know yet. I figure I'll start a pot of dye, throw a bunch of stuff in there, and one of the four balls of yarn will go in there. 2008 is about unclenching, letting go, and letting my inner artist come out.

I made a crack about the potential for the yarn turning out "like vomit". That was when it dawned on me, that my sense of color vomit could be someone else's rainbow. That my favorite colors certainly are someone else's color vomit.

I suppose it's all about color sensibility- we buy yarn, clothes, roving, and home decor in colors that are appealing to us. I have two friends who look stunning in baby-poop green. I knit one of them a baby-poop green shawl, and it was hard to get through. Though I like the color well enough, I am keenly aware that I look jaundiced in it.

This is the reason why most of my yarn is orange, pink, and olive green. The same goes for my mother and red.

The comforting part of this realization is that if my yarn turns out in a way that is unappealing to me, I know for certain that someone else will absolutely love it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Driving Miss Gigi

Mom is arriving back from overseas today. Though no requests were made for Reuben sandwiches, her travel schedule posed a bit of a problem.

Tehran is 11 1/2 hours ahead of us. Her plane left at God-Awful-Early AM (Tehran time), which makes it a Totally Reasonable hour here. Mom's schedule is all messed up, so every time she thought to call, she realized that it was an Unreasonable Hour in California.

I'll admit to making overseas calls at 2:30 AM their time, only remember it was an Unreasonable Hour in Tehran once my very tired, confused, and angry uncle answered the phone. Ooops. I hung up, glad that star-sixty-nine doesn't work on international calls. My cowardice is LEGEND.

Back to Mom. Right.

I have her flight information. I like to keep tabs on how the travel is going (a la flight tracker), so that in case of a delay, I'm not left uninformed. Sam's flight was delayed more than eight hours. Due to my meticulous planning and flight tracking, his Reuben was delivered hot. (Or lukewarm. San Francisco is a bit of a drive, folks.)

So, standard real-time flight trackers only work for domestic flights, which is fine, unless you have someone flying internationally to get domestic. After a few minutes of hunting, I found a site that would update me on the status of her flight, but alas, with no cool, real-time graphics.

Providing everything stays on schedule, Mom should be home this afternoon. Jet-lagged like a mofo, but home.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Catching my breath

Part of last week’s excitement was getting Niki updated on his vaccines. He was two or three weeks late on them, which isn’t really a big deal normally. But we were out of power for four days.

I had the brilliant idea (after we had power back, of course) to put the dogs in day care the next time we have an extended outage. That way, they can play and socialize, and I can go somewhere and work without feeling guilty that they’re alone in the dark. But.

As a dog owner, you can’t just drop off your dog at doggie day care with some cash. No, it’s like normal day care. Paperwork needs to be exchanged, dogs need to be evaluated, and the most important part- the day care facilities and employees need to be evaluated by the neurotic concerned owner. Though Andrew and I have talked about doing doggie day care for them (for more socialization and enrichment) during the rainy season, neither of us have moved forward on it. It just wasn’t a priority. Now that we have power back, I STILL haven’t moved on it. It’s a process.

In any case, we had Niki’s vaccines updated, Elphie had a “happy vet” visit, and we went to Purlescence. Part of what I want to do with the dogs is to get them socialized with more people, and definitely more children. I took them in, and effectively tethered them to me. (Tethering is a dominance thing, to gently remind the dogs that I’m alpha.) They were unusually well-behaved.

I was thrilled. My dogs? Well-behaved? Okay, I’ll go with that.

The Purlescence crowd were champs- treats were given liberally, but they insisted that the dogs perform for tricks, which is great. Even Elphie (who is normally a little withdrawn and skittish around strangers) made a few friends.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy Vet Visits

Everyone has different parenting styles, so why wouldn’t we all have different pet-ownership styles? In our house, positive re-enforcement reigns supreme, with only two negative re-enforcers for unacceptable behavior. Our negative re-enforcers are the God Bottle and the manual nose-squeeze correction.

When we first had each dog, they both were TERRIFIED of our vet. While I’m not so fond of doctors, either, our vet is the gentlest woman EVER. I couldn’t recommend her more- she cares about and treats our dogs, but she also takes care of us, as owners.

She suggested “happy vet” visits. This is where the dogs come in to the office, get weighed, praised, treats, and then leave. Nothing scary happens, it acquaints the dogs with the vet techs, and makes going to the Vet less terrifying. We would follow both happy vet visits and real vet visits with a trip to the dog park- the ULTIMATE in doggy rewards. Now the dogs pull to go IN to the office, rather than away from it.

Some people feel like this is a hippie, sissified approach to their care, and that’s fine. They are entitled to their opinions.

But.

If you have a sick or injured animal (dogs especially), stress only exacerbates the problem. If you could avoid extra trauma and drama with an extra trip here and there to the vet for cookies, it seems like such a simple way to make the pet more comfortable. But, if a brief drive to the vet with your dog is too much work for you, that’s your choice.

There’s a simple cost-benefit analysis that we all do when it comes to extra errands and chores, and mine includes happy vet visits.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sock Blocked

A few nights back, Kelly was talking about a pair of socks that she Could Not Finish. She didn’t like how the yarn was knitting up, it was splitty and she was effectively blocked from knitting socks. Sock Blocked. Like a cock block, but for socks.

[For those not familiar with the term “cock block”, it’s when a person or thing gets in the way of copulation. Click here for the Urban Dictionary definition. So, a friend pretending to be a significant other would be a “cock blocker”. Crude, but appropriate.]

This happens all the time; you start knitting a project, and SOMETHING happens that makes the project completely unappealing. Repulsive, even. You toss the project aside, and regardless of what the project actually is, you have been Sock Blocked. You can never go back there, it's not the same. (For those who believe in Ladder Theory, the sock has moved to the "just friends" ladder.)

(Feel free to use this term in social situations, ie, “I’ve totally been Sock Blocked!” or “That darn [insert designer name] totally Sock Blocked me!”)

So, I made an agreement with Kelly. I would knit her blocked socks, and she will knit me a pair of socks. We’ll see if that cures her blockage.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

When inspiration attacks

I listen to knitting Podcasts while I drive in to work, and sometimes something they say just jumps out and attacks me with an idea. Sometimes these ideas are awesome, and sometimes they are just okay. Sometimes they are unmitigated disasters, but we can overlook that for now.

I was so inspired that once my fires were out at work, I sketched out my idea in my Manifesto. (It’s not really a manifesto, but calling it my “Idea book” had a lame feeling to it.)

The reason for the Manifesto is that I’m randomly inspired. The Manifesto fits in most of my purses, and I tend to have a pen in my bag as well. It has lists (I love lists), beginnings of blog posts, patterns I want to knit, doodles (which will be randomly scanned and uploaded to le Blog as appropriate), contact information for random people, sketches of things that I want to knit, or adaptations of existing patterns that I have in my queue. When I have an idea, it gets written down.

The first Manifesto began while I was doing my internship at XRX. I was required to keep track of my daily tasks in order to get credit for my internship (Elaine and Rick weren’t really taskmasters in that way). I used the front section to keep track of my daily/weekly tasks, and as the days passed, I found myself bombarded with inspiration. The center section became my “inspiration” section for doodles, and the back became my “lists” section.

There have been two (more recent) incarnations of the Manifesto, one that isn’t practical for temporary lists, the other that went missing during the move. I recently found the PERFECT notebook for the Manifesto:

Notebooks

I have a few preferences for “idea” books. Unlined pages, spiral binding, and about 6” x 8”. Where do you find the best stationary? The Japanese stationary store, of course! I also found fountain pens there, in standard AND awesome colors.

I love pens.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

One remote to rule them all

When Blake was recommending our entertainment center setup, he mentioned getting a “master” remote- one remote to control all of the pieces. Where I normally would defer to his expertise on all things audio/visual, I took a look at these remotes and got sticker shock.

The high-end ones (with the all-too-sexy touch screens) were running close to $500, while the least-expensive (while still acceptable) model was closer to $200. For a remote control.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a television addiction. I love it. It helps me relax and with the Tivo, I am selecting all of my own programming so I don’t watch television for the sake of television. But I don’t accessorize my television. Where I’ll happily spend that same $200-$500 on roving, yarn, or spinning wheels without a hesitation, I may have guffawed at the idea of spending the same money on a remote control.

But, it turns out that Blake, as always, was right. This was how many remotes we needed to perform simple tasks like watching the Tivo and changing the volume required this many remotes and a detailed instruction manual:

remotes

Now? All I need is this:

one remote

It knows all. It can do it all. It’s got a color screen, motion-activated, and programmed on the internet.

The best part? Our Best Buy rewards points paid for almost all of it. And it was on sale.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy Leather, Monkey!

Today is my third wedding anniversary. Evidently, Leather is the traditional gift for a third anniversary. I guess after three years, the kinks come out, right? Ha!

No, I didn’t get you a gimp mask and you didn’t buy me a cat-o-nine-tails, but our gifts were appropriate in that fetish-y way.

I bought Andrew a Captain Picard Christmas ornament and a Demotivator mug (this one), and he got me wool. You know how I love that wooly goodness.

We’re still a great team, we still have fun together, and we both love the soup at Nana’s. The important things, you know?

You’ve come to know and love my wooly side and I can have a coherent discussion about Star Trek. You’ve learned how to tune up a spinning wheel, and I can competently use a drill. You’re nuts and bolts, and I’m duct tape; different approaches mean better solutions. You make me smile every day, and make me want to be a better person.

We dance to the Brenda Dayne theme song, and wax philosophical on long drives. We plan. Our personalities compliment each other, and we’re the same kind of evil.

Same time next year, Monkey. We’ll bring flowers.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Raining elephants and emus

Starting Friday, we had some major storms. Storms that were so powerful that the rain went sideways, and the wind that blew so hard that it sounded like someone was shaking the door.

Then the power went out. I had laptop battery left, so I waxed poetic about the calming power of the sounds of the rain, typing by candlelight, assuming that power would be restored within hours.

fireplace

Ambient, isn’t it?

Andrew came home to help me with some of the things that the storm had knocked over (Colleen’s tent, the outside chairs, a few of the dyeing buckets), and also to stand watch until the power came back. I went over to Purlescence, where I got a machine knitting lesson, and waited for the phone call that said “Power is back, come on home.”

After my lesson with Sandi, I was thrilled that I could use the knitting machine that has been sitting in it’s box since my 18th birthday (ahem, in 2000). I was also thrilled to have checked off one of the seven goals that I set for myself this year. I called home, no power. No big, right?

I dawdled knit at Purlescence a little longer, picked up some takeout for dinner, and headed home. The neighbors across the street had power; it would be no time before we had power, right?

It looked very romantic; candles, the oil lamp, and the fireplace keeping the living room lit. Until I settled down and realized that the heater wasn’t working. Being cold makes me unpleasant.

Sam came and dog-sat while we went to see Daniel Tosh.

“Text me when the power comes on,” I told Sam.

Daniel Tosh was hilarious (I’ll post about that later), but alas, no text was received. My power of denial is strong.

“I’m sure the power will come on in the middle of the night,” I say confidently.

The next morning, I called PG&E, and every six hours after that, I called PG&E. Until today.

That’s four days without power. Four days of heat coming solely from the fireplace, light coming only from the candles that we cannibalized out of the bathroom. (Sorry, Mom. Desperate times, you know.)

It was at this point where I decided that I did not EVER want to be on one of those pioneer shows.

Screw roughing it. I like heat and electricity.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Less is more

The best things in life are not things at all. Experiences, loved ones- these are the things that matter most. This year, I am resolving to learn better habits and live a more enlightened life.

My first step towards this goal was to begin purging things that I no longer wanted or needed. Tim Gunn is directly responsible for this. I was watching Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, and I was taking the advice he gave one his show to heart. I don’t need 90% of my wardrobe. More than not needing it, I would say at LEAST 30% is frumpy or not flattering. Out!

As I’m getting rid of dozens of unflattering pieces, I’m replacing them ONLY with a few high-quality, flattering items that are absolutely necessary. I’m not about to try and wrangle the dogs in a spring dress, but, I’m taking the rest of his advice. I think he’s positively inspiring.

Let's call this "Jasmin 2008".

The next step is to practice good habits and balance whether a purchase is a Want or a Need. It takes time to develop good habits, but I’m already noticing a difference in how I am shopping.

I am very lucky; I could knit out of my stash for years without needing more yarn. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m not going on a yarn diet, but I’m not buying anything that doesn’t shake my foundation.

This is going to help me stop feeling like my possessions own me, and also, to allow me to enjoy all of the extra space in this house.

Additionally, I am looking to improve myself this year. My list of things that I want to do includes:

-Go to yoga more frequently. It’s good for the body and good for the soul.

-Take a pilates class at work. Those giant balls look like fun.

-Take a knife techniques class.

-Learn four new, high-end recipes every month: one soup, one main course, one dessert, and another of my choosing.

-Learn to use the two knitting machines I have.

-Teach each dog at least one new trick.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Time off

I made the worst use of my time off from work over the Christmas holiday. I got sick. My time management skills really could use some work.

In any case, I didn’t get a fraction of the knitting and spinning done that I had intended to do. Ignore the housework and cooking that fell completely to the wayside; I did.

The box from Susan’s Spinning Bunny arrived, and as soon as I felt well enough to sit upright (Monday and Tuesday), I sat down at the wheel. I was too dizzy to knit, but not too dizzy to spin. I may not be logical, but at least I got a little done.

OP roving

I chose to start here. This is her “Oriental Poppies” colorway. In an attempt NOT to end up with [yet another] interminable spinning project [that accidentally turned into a 4-ply laceweight], I measured my WPI.

single op 1

op side single

So, we have (approximately) 62 WPI. If my math is right, this should end up a nice fingering weight with 3 plies. I’m consciously focusing on NOT spinning this cobweb weight

Ally and I had our dyeing day- which was on the small scale, but totally funl

dyeing day

Foreground: the dyed yarn and roving. Background: trash and recycling bins.

I overdyed two groups of yarn with black- they were originally a Kelly green, now they’re a deep forest green.

Ally meticulously planned out her dyeing, and mine sort of just happened. When she pulled her yarn out of the pot, I saw that a fair amount of dye was still left. I grabbed my ten pound bump of rambouillet, pulled off a length of roving, and dropped it in to exhaust the dye. There is too much of it to plan out my dyeing, and this was less daunting.

After a few minutes, I realized that I hadn’t exhausted the dye enough, so another length went into the pot. (With the green, several lengths were necessary to adequately exhaust the pot.) The exhausts should spin up as very pretty, tone-on-tone, tweedy yarn.

It’s worth mentioning that the Reduran dye remover does a terrific job of getting dye off of ugly, old, linoleum counters. Not so much with fingernails, but Andrew was pretty thrilled that we don’t have a tie-dyed kitchen. In my defense, tie-dyeing the counters can ONLY improve them.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bye, Bye American Pie

The crime scene:

crime scene

The evidence was found here. (The empty pie plate.)

The suspects:

nikielphie

(Niki, smug on the left. Elphie, playing innocent on the right. Don't let those Yoda ears fool you.)

The victim:

recycling can

(Sorry, this is a morgue shot. You know, for matters of taste.)

One of our neighbors bakes a pecan pie for all of their neighbors. Mom brought it over to share with us. In her haste to get her off to the airport in a timely manner, the pie was left unsecured. On the floor, in a bag.

We got home later that evening to find an overturned, empty pie tin. Since Andrew and I had both been sick, we couldn’t smell the pan to figure out it’s former contents. I guessed the pecan pie when I realized that I had two, sugar-coated dogs.

As all neurotic dog owners do, I checked the dog book to make sure that they would be okay. Other than Elphie being more crack-tastic than normal, they would be fine, and I was instructed to check for vomiting and… other unpleasant functions.

While I was doing the obligatory scooping, it was confirmed that the victim was a pecan pie.

Rest in poop, Pecan Pie. We never knew how good you were.