Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Facial Fungus

When did grunge make it’s comeback? In the TV workplace, specifically. On half of the shows I watch, all of these professionals look like they’ve just rolled out of bed- and not in a sexy way. It’s more like an “I wonder what they look like clean-shaven” kind of way. (I suppose this is part of why I’m a Wilson gal, versus a House gal. For the record, I thought Hugh Laurie was positively adorable in Stuart Little.)

It’s one thing if they’re in the process of growing facial hair. I’ll allow scruffiness for the purpose of future well-groomed-beardedness. But otherwise? Just lazy looking. (I’m talking about you, Grey’s Anatomy.) And the moral equivalent of Facial Fungus.

Even in space [BSG], the guys manage to be clean shaven. The human race is moving towards extinction, and they can take a few minutes for morning ablutions.

I can only think of one actor who pulls off scruffiness. But he lives in the woods and fights The Man. You can’t expect someone who lives in the woods to keep clean-shaven. Be real.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bzzz!

Saturday, Tika and I went to Color: A Fiber Festival on Saturday. The drive up to Cal was pleasant, with some discussion of musical theater, our mutual love of Little Shop of Horrors, and how Christian Bale and the whole "Santa Fe" scene from Newsies never should have happened.

When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was actual, free parking on the Berkeley campus within shouting distance of Color. First, we hit Pidgeonroof Studios, and bought roving. Then we hit Tactile / A Verb for Keeping Warm and bought roving. Then we hit Girl on the Rocks. And bought roving. Noticing a theme?

In keeping with Jasmin 2008, I only bought the stuff that I absolutely loved. Once the Roving Tornado had subsided, we sat down, set up our wheels, and enjoyed the day. Well, Tika set up her wheel immediately. I looked at my Victoria bag and saw this:

bee

Nature. On my spinning wheel bag. Here is the picture to scale:

Photobucket

Given the niceness of the day and the weather I figured I would just relax and chat until The Bee went off on it's merry way.

I thought The Bee had gone on it's merry way (it was no longer on the handle). Without looking, I reached down to the zipper and -

MASSIVE, STINGING PAIN!!!

Ow. The Bee stung me. Stupid nature.

I washed my hands, took an allergy pill, and the day was not ruined. We spun there until early afternoon, and then drove to my favorite taco place ever.

It's a taco truck in Oakland, and for $1.25 one can purchase a taste of heaven. (FYI, it's at the intersection of International and the 880 ramp to Alameda.) Tika and I wolfed down three heavenly tacos each, and two sodas. All for less than $10.

The day was going super-well, so I suggested a trip to the Great Bear in Los Gatos for Chocolate Coffee Creams. Tika had never experienced the CCC before- and it was a great way to end that part of my day.

I've started spinning some of my purchases- which I'll post as I finish stuff.

(PS, if Krista tells you we bought everything, I deny it all. LIES!)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lessons

Things I have learned:

There is no way to deny that a curly, hot pink hair in someone else's knitting isn't yours.

Where I'll be today:

Color: A Fiber Festival

You know how to find me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The pink pro-cess

It leaves to say that getting my hair as hot pink as it is has been a process.

Step 1: Highlights.

My hairdresser (the amazing Suzi) expertly does the highlights white-blond. (I couldn't tell her that it was going to be pink when all was said and done.)

Step 2: Pink.

If you want the same color, the dye is Manic Panic, and the color is "Hot, Hot Pink". Kaye did my "pinking", and I used two containers on my hair.

Step 3: Maintenence.

I'm washing my hair (with shampoo) every other day to prevent quick fading. When I do my daily shower, I'm using just conditioner on the alternate days, to keep it clean and curly. I finish with the Aveda "Curl Enhancer" goop.

If you have naturally light hair, you can skip Step 1. Suzi may have kittens when she sees the pink- but hey, she'll get used to it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A little color around these parts!

I'd like to present you to my new hair:

Hair & yard

hair cu

Blondes don’t have the most fun. Pinks do!

I’m going to say it. I am in love with my new hair. In lurve, even.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

List-y, list-y!

You know how I love the lists. This week, I have had the opportunity to make lists. Many lists. Lists of lists, even.

Such is the joy of travel. So, for your reading pleasure, I give you…

Jasmin’s Tips for Travel Planning

Make a timeline. It should look like this:

1 Month out -> Check flights. Check luggage. If luggage won’t work, order new luggage.

3 weeks out -> Check flights again. Post a countdown timer on your blog. Brag about it. Dust off existing luggage.

2 weeks out-> Buy all of the things that you need for your trip. If it is a “trip specific” thing, put it directly into your suitcase. This would include travel-sized toiletries, travel pillows, etc.

Do laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. While doing the laundry, pull clothing intended for the trip. Fold it, put it aside. I’m putting mine directly in the suitcase, but not in the “for reals” packing way.

1 week out -> Check flights. Arrange rides to the airport. Call in favors for this, if necessary. “For reals” pack the suitcases with everything needed EXCEPT for the daily use stuff.

Start eating everything that will expire in the fridge. If necessary, eat out the last day or two.

Call the credit card company and let them know that you will be traveling.

Check any meds- make sure you have enough for the trip and the week you get home.

The night before -> Check your flights. Go over your lists. Make sure you packed underpants. Check your carry-on for stuff that will get you a cavity check. If you must knit on the plane, bring a self-addressed, postage paid envelope for that project.

Charge your iPod, make sure you have your headphones. Also, pack a book. Just in case. Put your passport/ID and flight confirmation in the bag you’re taking.

Sometimes, a little OCD can be helpful, right?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pink-ed!

I have been seeing the same hairdresser since I was six years old. Suzi is incredibly good, and she knows how to cut and style curly hair for the wash-and-wear crowd. (Ahem, moi.)

Last year, I asked her to bleach my hair and dye it blue. She was convinced that I would be fired from my job if I had blue hair.

"How about blonde?" She suggested.
"How about blue?" I replied.

I appreciate that she cares about keeping me employed- but in Silicon Valley, funky hair is totally ok. Really, really. I tried to assure her that it's practically *required* that one has funky hair.

Nope, she won't do it. I think she's worried about Hair Remorse. Hair Remorse is like buyer's remorse- but worse. Because it's stuck to your head. With color changes, unless your hair melts, you can over-dye. With a misguided cut, you have two choices: wait it out or wear a hat.

So I figured out a system. Have Suzi make me a blonde, and have Kaye make me Pink.

I can't wait.

Ah-CHOO!

Welcome to allergy season!

I may have mentioned before that our house has a garden that is not to be believed. Not only does it boast a dozen different fruit trees/bushes, we have a number of other pretty flowers- and a Japanese elm.

You can probably tell by my description (“pretty flowers”) that I am not responsible for the beauty that is my yard. My contribution to the yard beauty is that I scoop the dog poop. Andrew does the mowing, pruning, and manly stuff. He also set the timer for the watering system. What a guy!

I have a brown thumb. Maybe even a black thumb of DOOOOOOOM!

I accidentally maimed the cactus that Julie gave me last year. Mom called Cactus Protective Services and had it removed from my house. I don’t know if she managed to revive it. I suppose its best not to ask at this juncture.

Anyway.

The botanical genius who was the previous owner of our house planted all sorts of interesting things that burst into bloom all year. For someone like me, I need to wait for everything to blossom to determine which are weeds and which are flowers. (I am clearly NOT a botanical genius.)

This is the first spring that we are spending in this house, and we all are … enjoying the bloom. And by “enjoying” I mean, sneezing our heads off.

Even the dogs are suffering from allergies. Have you ever tried to give a dog eye drops? It’s an experience. One of the many experiences that I never dreamed I would have as a Dog Mom. (The vet gave me the option of eye drops or eye ointment. Really. I thought the eye drops would be easier.)

It took me a while to realize that I am allergic to my own yard. Really.

On Monday I noticed how beautifully our rosebushes were blooming. (I also noticed that they were planted so that as you go down the row, the colors go from a bright yellow through a dark red. I told you he was a botanical genius!) I noticed that my sinuses were aching, and put it together:

I have allergies.

It’s really a surprise that MENSA hasn’t come knocking at my door.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Two down, one to go!


So, my reason for wanting to finish the three sweaters is three-fold. One: Having three sweaters to wear on the cruise. Two: To free up the ten million needles that are being held up on these sweaters. Three: So I can say I finished three sweaters in a month.

I know it’s cheating (sort of), but isn’t this exactly the sort of situation where having ten thousand UFOs is a good thing? I mean, how else would people knit three sweaters in a month?

As of yesterday, the Gold Bullion sweater is done:

Gold Bullion Sweater

And so is the Ribbi Cardi:

Ribbin Cardi wSleeves

You can’t tell in the picture, since I hadn’t knit the collar yet, but I also fixed the sleeve issue.

bad seam

bad seam

I took a piece of waste yarn and threaded it through the troubled area, undid the mattress stitch down to the bottom of the formerly troubled area, and re-seamed it using the waste yarn as a guideline. The whole process took about an hour.

So now, the Ribby only has good seams, and a collar that needs some steaming. It will RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!

The sweater that I am currently finishing is the Pinup Girl Rugby Sweater:

Rugby Sweater

Cute, huh?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Knitmore Girls begin!

It seems a couple of my readers have discovered the next step in my Jasmin 2008 plan. Mom and I have started a Podcast, and I’ve set up the show notes blog over at The Knitmore Girls.

We've submitted the Podcast to iTunes- so hopefully you'll see us there soon.

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The socks have landed

I got a phone call from TEMom. Evidently, someone sent her a generic looking package. With suspiciously neat handwriting. And a pair of handknit socks.
What I may have neglected to mention in the previous post is that TEMom is a recreational knitter. Meaning, of course, that she doesn't take her knitting as seriously as those of us who are true addicts. It also means that her projects take longer to finish, and thus, all knitting is perceived to be very time consuming.

Since we know that the corollary :

[Time] = [Love]

we can conclude that

Lots[Time] = Lots[Love]

TEMom couldn't stop raving about them. The label seems to have sealed the deal, with the care instructions, sizing, etc. I can now see the joy in knitting for knitters.

Friday, April 11, 2008

One if by land and three if by sea

If you read the Purlescence blog, you’ll see that I was swept into the Ariann knitalong. It was the allure of the Butter Peeps. I swear. A great pattern and great yarn are really a deadly combination.

I started working on it, and was thinking to myself, “You know, the ribbi cardi only needs a collar and it will be done. The yellow malabrigo sweater only needs sleeves, and the rugby sweater needs half sleeves. I could finish all three before the cruise.”

Madness, right? But totally manageable. I have short arms, and one of the malabrigo sleeves is already (around) elbow length. On a neck-down raglan, so the top ¼ of each sleeve is done. As an added bonus, I did some KILLER shaping on the Delicious Malabrigo sweater and the rugby sweater, so they’re very flattering.

Sunset sweater

Right?

Very flattering = finished faster. There is nothing like working on a garment that you know will make you look like a million dollars. Or gold bullion, in this case.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I come prepared

It’s always good to have your knitting- especially on those days where you’re absolutely certain that you won’t have the opportunity to knit. When I pack my purse, if I hesitate to put knitting in my bag, inevitably, I’ll have something happen where I have HOURS on my hands, with nothing to do.

I had a day like that.

I hesitated about putting my knitting in my bag, but thought better of it and tossed it in anyway. Good thing, too.

One of the tasks I do for work leaves my machine susceptible to viruses, spyware, and other computer VDs. It’s unpleasant. In any case, there was an issue with my machine (which required loading software that took FOREVER to load), and I spent a good chunk of time working on my sock, watching the status bar crawl towards the end.

Which sock?

This one:

rmt9 sock

Handspun yarn + deep breathing = calm.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I’m not that kind of girl

It’s true. There are the Alisons of the world, the ones who knit selflessly for others and rejoice in spreading the knitterly love. Then, there are people like me.

I am not one of them. I am, in fact, the meanest knitter you’ll ever meet. When people ask me to knit for them, I either respond with my hourly rate (which is that of an educated professional, thank you), or I say, “There are some things I do for love, and some things that I do for money.” Sometimes I just say, "No." Sometimes I taunt them until they cry.

Sometimes, I am a sucker. This is one of those cases.

I’ve blogged about my in-laws before. Andrew comes from a Big Roman Catholic family. Five siblings total, eight nieces and nephews, and all of the sibs are married. That’s eighteen people with JUST his immediate family, not including any future children we plan to have. As with all families, each sib (and their spouse) is as different as the next.

We spend most of the major holidays with my BIL (The Entrepreneur)’s family. His parents couldn’t be nicer people and they routinely open their home and hearts to the extended in-laws (he is married to Andrew’s sister, TE isn’t Andrew’s brother). TE’s Mom is a knitter. She’s incredibly cool, very friendly, and thinks that my knitting is the cat’s meow.

TEMom has been pretty sick. In and out of the hospital. Major surgery. (Details spared here. You can thank me in the comments section.) On Easter, TE and I were talking about TEMom, and he mentioned that he thought it would just be great if I could whip up a pair of “get well soon” socks. I may (or may not) have had a couple of glasses of wine at this point, and thought it was a terrific idea.

I called Purlescence, who pulled some Casbah off the shelf for me, and I cast on the socks the next day. Despite my loathing of “obligatory knitting” (because when there is a due date, it becomes obligatory), I worked through it, and finished them as quickly as I could stomach.

The minute that the toes were grafted, I called Andrew and told him to call TE to let us know when to drop off TEMom’s socks. No call back. Rinse, repeat. Get annoyed that I put hours of work in on his behalf.

I looked up their mailing address, and shipped them myself. With a card. Wouldn’t you feel better if you got this in the mail?

Dee Socks

I know I would.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Buffalo Gals Bison Review- Part One

Product: Buffalo Gals Bison

Product Description: Prepared Bison roving- natural brown

Bought From: Purlescence Yarns (gift from Katie for editing her college admissions essays). $21/oz. 2 ounces total.

Photos:

Bison- Skein

Bison- CU

Comments:

Initially, I was very nervous about spinning the bison. I spun a little when I took Judith MacKenzie’s comprehensive spinning class last April, but when it comes to spinning expensive fibers, I get a little… apprehensive. At $21/oz, the Bison falls into my definition of the “expensive fiber” category.

I spun it semi-woolen (long draw with the front hand doing some guiding to keep the yarn fairly even). I was instructed by Sandi (my personal Yoda) to add more twist to the singles (to essentially overspin them), which I did. I also plied it rather aggressively.

You can find the video of the fulling process HERE. In the video, it’s Yak, but I swear, I fulled the bison the EXACT same way, sans the overuse of the SOAK.

The bison is very soft, but has a smell. A gamey smell. It left my hands smelling pretty gross, but once my hands were washed, the smell was gone. I used the aquae scent of the SOAK, and that has mostly resolved the gamey smell of the bison yarn.

The bison had fair amount of guard hairs, and a little VM. I’ve spun much grosser stuff, but really, this wasn’t too bad as far as VM is concerned.

If you aren’t comfortable spinning short fibers (or aren’t comfortable with woolen spinning), buy the pre-spun Bison/Merino blend. I’ve been working on my woolen spinning, but deep in my heart, I know that I am a Worsted Spinner. I did a lot of deep breathing to do this, and I practiced on the yak first.

I ended up with 360 yds/2 oz- a respectable laceweight. This may become another Shetland triangle, since it needed a little yardage and knit up in four days. Or a Dragon Scale Scarf. You'll see part two of the review once I've knitted up the bison.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fulling the Yak

I've been spinning quite a bit of short fibers. I've been spinning some yak, two ounces at a time, then plying it. Once the yak has been spun, plied, and wound into skeins, it needs to be fulled.

Fulling is super-fun. Here is the process, in my kitchen. Shot, produced, and starring me:




Once the yarn has been "shocked", we do some Agression Release Therapy:



And yes, I did say "Whack it."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Re-purposing

I like to repurpose items. For example: the shotglasses that The Karen gave me a few years back are now “splicing glasses”. They hold exactly enough water to get the necessary area damp, but small enough that nobody sneaks a sip of “furry water”. I don’t do shots (never have), but The Karen thought they were pretty (they are), and since she doesn’t drink at all, it may as all be shots. A very thoughtful gift, actually.

We have a salad bowl which has been repurposed as d├ęcor, and an extra shelf (from one of my bookshelves) for a portable winding station.

So, when I got serious about spinning a couple of years back, I considered buying a drum throne. When Colleen and I signed up for Judith MacKenzie’s comprehensive spinning class, the casual thought became a necessity.

I bought the Sound Percussion throne:

SPthrone

Colleen bought the Roc-N-Soc throne:

rocknsoc

And we both got backs for our thrones. (Sorry, no pics were easily found online.)

I really like the throne for spinning- good lower back support, comfy cushion, and they are (relatively) portable. They can also be adjusted to work with different wheels, to a certain extent.

I find my throne to be more comfortable than the spinning chairs that are sold- the cutesy, kitschy, wood ones. It may not be ultra-aesthetic, but I can spin for hours without getting a flat butt.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Lessons from the mailman

Despite my attempts to buy my things locally, sometimes, I buy specific things online. This means that I have a close and personal relationship with our mail carrier. If I’m working from home, I chat with him for a few minutes, and collect the mail by hand.

MailMan thinks it’s funny that all of my packages are “oiled wool”. (He’s under the impression that all wool is full of lanolin, like the Aran sweaters his mom used to knit for him.) But, he’s a good sport, and will even haul the giant (and heavy boxes) into the entryway for dainty little me. He is really a nice man.

Yesterday, before I headed out to work, I was loading my car with boxes for a couple of friends, and MailMan walked up the driveway at the same time. With three packages- a small and a medium one for me, and a box for Andrew.

“Hm. I wonder what this is,” I said.

“You could open it like this [details spared for use in future espionage], and he’d never notice,” MailMan tells me.

“Hm. Good to know,” I reply.

While I can guess as to what is in Andrew’s box, I have never felt the need to snoop. But knowledge is power, right?

Have I mentioned that I love our MailMan?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Royal Hare Superwash Roving review- Part One

Product: Royal Hare Superwash Merino Roving Top

Product Description: One braid of roving, either 100g or 4 oz(read below) in Calistoga Calypso

Bought from: The Royal Hare, Stitches West 2008

Price: $13/braid

Photos:

Calistoga Calypso- CU

Calistoga Calypso- Skein

Comments:

The first thing that I noticed was that the braid I purchased was 3 ¾ oz, which surprised me, since most roving is put up in 4 oz bumps. However, upon discussion with Andrew, I checked it in grams, and it was 108g. Enough for socks, but I’m a little miffed over being shorted- since I specifically asked if the braids were 4 oz.

I really like how they dye their braids- in even lengths and weights so that if you’re inclined to line up the colors when you ply, it’s a little easier than Navajo-plying.

(I wouldn’t recommend this way of doing your spinning if you’re crazy OCD about your colors lining up perfectly. In that case, just Navajo ply. Or buy commercial yarns.)

The roving they use is pleasant to spin- not the nicest stuff I’ve ever spun, but a nice base roving nonetheless. The colors are very saturated and rich, which I love, and the yarn ends up just as vibrant as the roving.

With the colors as saturated as they are, I was concerned about bleeding. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was minimal bleeding (slightly pinkish) water after a thorough soaking.

For the price and quality, it's a good buy, just make sure you're getting the right weight. I'll keep you posted as to whether this light bump was a fluke or if the others are light as well.

Stay posted for Part Two, where I discuss the wear and washing

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It’s a spinning pro-cess

Jocelyn asked last week, amidst my chaos, how I prepare my roving, etc, before spinning. This depends on what my project is, and how the roving has been prepared.

The Royal Hare roving (that I’m spinning for socks) comes in tidy braids that are even thirds. I spin those, as is, since I like 3 ply yarn for socks. With other rovings (that come in a ball) I usually weigh out a third of the total weight (or and sixth of the total weight, if it’s Crown Mountain).

From there, I spin them on three separate bobbins, let them sit (at least overnight), ply them, let them sit (overnight), set them in the sink, let them air dry, label them, and either knit them or put them in the Big Bag o'Handspun.

If I’m spinning for a larger garment, I’ll weigh out my roving into 1 oz bumps, spin them up, let them sit, and then wind them off onto the smaller plastic bobbins. I use the longest length- 6”, and I can comfortably fit 1 oz per plastic bobbin. I use the plastic bobbins mostly because a bobbin for my wheel costs (approximately) $32, and each plastic bobbin costs (approximately) $1.15. If a Schacht bobbin holds 4 oz of spinning, and each plastic bobbin holds 1 oz of spinning, the difference in cost is huge- especially if you’re spinning a pound or two.

Once the total needed weight has been spun (note that this doesn’t always mean “all of the roving/fleece I have in that color”), I ply everything at once. This makes the end result more consistent- stuff I spun last year is bound to be (at least) a little different than the spinning I’m doing now. Another benefit of the plastic bobbins is that if one bobbin has a little more or a little less yardage, it is more easily corrected.

So, for example, here is some Merino that I bought from Judy’s Novelty Wool at Stitches West 2007 for a sweater for myself. These have been resting for a while, waiting for me to finish spinning and then whip out a sweater.

Mixed Berries

(These are all the same colorway. It's going to be stunning when it grows up to be real yarn.)

I’ve also started a vest for Andrew- it’s an Olive-y green BFL from Ashland Bay (“Fir” is the color). It may not look like much now, but it will get more exciting.

Fir

Fir- CU

Any more questions? I'm currently working on ounce 2 of 2 of some Buffalo Gals Bison roving. Mmmmm...



Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New mascara weirdness

I know that companies spend barrels of money on designing hip-looking packaging, and sometimes it works. I was in the market for some new mascara, so I went to my local drugstore and bought some.

I love Revlon mascara. I’ve used more expensive stuff, different brands, and I just don’t like them. They’re ultra-smudgy, and I don’t really care to look like a raccoon by mid-morning. The Revlon waterproof stuff is my favorite. I’ve tried a few different versions, mostly because my method of selecting mascara is this:

One: Is it Revlon?

Two: Is it on sale?

Three: Is it available in brown and black?

Very methodical, right? I picked the coolest looking / on sale mascara, looking for something new and different:

mascara

Clearly, the appeal of this is the awesome looking package. Look closely.

I like to test drive my new makeup on the weekend, mostly so that any cosmetic missteps can be resolved with minimal effort. Because I am all about minimal effort, really.

Sunday morning, I doll up to go to the spa, and I notice that the mascara’s consistency is a little on the heavy side. I figured it was the newness of the mascara- sometimes it takes a little practice to get the hang of new eye makeup.

When I got back, I realized exactly how heavy this mascara is. I looked like Liza Minnelli. With the giant fake eyelashes. But not fake. I started washing my face, and it felt like I had plastic tubing on my eyelashes. Like the kind that is on electrical wiring.

This morning, I took a look at the container. L'Oreal. Not Revlon.

Evidently, when I'm in a hurry, my reading skills are... not there. Looks like I'll be making a trip to the drugstore.