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May 22, 2008

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XV: Blockbuster Afghan

Date Begun: 10/21/2007
Date Completed: 01/17/2008
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Honey, Mustard, Olive and Brick
Needles: US9 Circular (metal)
Source: Lion Brand Yarn, Blockbuster Afghan
The Story:
I decided last fall that I really wanted to hand-make some of my Christmas gifts for people. Trouble was that I didn't decide this until fall. I had every intention of giving this afghan to a family member for Christmas, but you'll notice from the Date Completed that I didn't exactly make it. Oops.

So, plan B. I finished it as soon as I could and have protected it very carefully for the next gift-giving opportunity. Some of that explains the extremely long time between when I finished this and when I actually posted this entry - I didn't want to ruin the surprise for the recipient.

This was my first afghan, and I started it mostly to see if I could do it. Clearly I could, and it took a lot longer than I expected, but otherwise I really enjoyed the experience. It was a really simple one - garter stitch only, but it REALLY taught me how to pick up stitches and how to deal with lots and lots and lots of rows. I'd love to do another afghan, and I'm seriously considering doing this same pattern again for myself.

The yarn I used was nothing exotic. It's acrylic, which means it's machine washable and dryable. I strongly believe that when I give a knitted item, I should be giving a gift instead of a project, so I always try to find materials that are low maintenance. And I have to say that this particular yarn is really nice for an acrylic. It knit up nice and thick and soft.

So I convinced my photographer to do a little photo session and the babies had to get in on the action (they think that if there are pictures being taken, there should be critters in those pictures). Lulu tried to start wrestling with Deliah, which worried me a bit, but otherwise, they were well-behaved and happy to pose.

One of the reasons I was so excited to get an embroidery machine for Christmas was because I really wanted to start tagging the hand-knitted things I was making with some sort of indicator that it was mine. I love doing logo design and there's a natural intersection between my love of computers and my love of knitting/sewing/crafty things AND my logo designs. That intersection is, of course, hand-made, custom designed tags for all my crafty endeavors. So I, of course, had to take pictures of that.

Finally, after far, far too long of sitting on this project and not telling anyone about it because of the gifty nature of it, I got word yesterday that the afghan had been received by its new owner, who is tickled pink to have it. I'm so glad it was liked - I certainly was a little sad to part with it. I've also included some of the pictures I took as I was packing it up and getting it ready to go because I just thought my afghan and the ribbon and the tag looked so pretty. The colors in the last 3 images aren't as correct as in the first bunch, mostly because I was taking the pictures with the little camera and probably didn't have enough light. It's not really orange - the pictures just came out that way.

I will be making at least one more of these someday.

May 21, 2008

Hugged by an Octopus!!

So. You may or may not know about this particular aspect of me. Either way, I think you'll find this post interesting, but just to warn you, I have included a picture that some of you might find a little... shocking. I hid it behind a link, but I just wanted to make sure I warned you.

Since moving to California, I have become increasingly interested in living a cleaner, more natural life, including becoming a vegetarian, recycling as much as possible and seeking ways to improve my overall health without drugs or other "traditional medicinal" means. (Yes, Mom. I know. Whatever it is you're thinking, I know.)

It sounds crazy, right? It sounds like I've totally bought into the whole California crunchy-granola thing and I have joined the ranks of the famed Fruits-and-Nuts. Maybe. I'll admit to a certain level of that. But I've also maintained a reasonable amount of skepticism and have been pleasantly surprised with how often these things have worked in my favor.

Vegetarianism, in addition to lowering my cholesterol and helping me to avoid fear of Mad Cow Disease completely, also helped me drop 35 lbs. in a few months.

Recycling means that we have roughly one full kitchen bag of garbage to put on the curb per week. This includes all the garbage cans in the house. (I plan to start composting, as well, to lessen the organic material that I'm throwing away.)

Improving my health "naturally", as you know from reading this blog, means that I've lost 30 lbs. (about 25 of which I gained back after the veggie thing), making me the size now that I was when I was a junior in high school. I have done with no surgery, no diet drugs, no liposuction, and without starving myself. It has also sent me to look for alternative ways to deal with muscle soreness, stress and my ever-present migraines. It has sent me to acupuncture.

Before you ask, here are the answers to your questions:

  • No, it doesn't hurt.
  • No, the needles don't freak me out, mostly because I pretty much don't see them. My eyes are closed when she puts them in and then I take and nap, waking only she returns to remove the needles
  • No, they don't bleed.
  • Yes, I do believe it has helped me. It's the most relaxing hour of my week and I always return to work feeling nice and relaxed.
  • You're right. It might be complete quackery. I'm still holding judgement on that point.
  • Yes, it's a little expensive, but I'm okay with that if it improves my health and does so with minimal chemicals and drugs and other ways to muck with my already-wacky body.

There. Did that get the bulk of them?

Moving right along. You may have wondered about the title of this post. Well, today my acupuncturist tried something new (new for me - not for her). It's called cupping and it's supposed to help with... well, all kinds of things, but in my case, we were working on a severe case of muscle soreness following some serious weight lifting earlier this week. So, just like in the Wikipedia entry (if you followed the link), she lit a match to heat the air in the cup, then stuck it to my back while the air was still warm, so suction was created and it stayed where it was stuck.

She told me it might leave a mark, but not to panic, and that the mark was temporary. I didn't think much of it - expected maybe a faint little mark - and went about my day. When I got home, I realized I hadn't had a chance to look in the mirror or anything since my appointment this afternoon, so I asked Schondy to look at my back and tell me if there was a mark. I think his response was "Wow! Um, yes!"

So... check it out.


(Image obscured to protect your eyes.)

Crazy, huh? And... quite like being hugged by an octopus.

Here are the answers to your questions:

  • No, it didn't hurt when she put them on me.
  • No, it doesn't hurt now, either.
  • You're right. It might be complete quackery. I'm still holding judgement on that point.

May 7, 2008

Getting off the couch.

This is an email I sent to my parents, who are currently cruising to Europe and can communicate pretty much only through emails and websites. We tried Skype, but... not so much. So I'm reposting here for the rest of the world to see. (Mildly edited, of course)

This week's weigh-in went well. I've lost another pound for a total of 26!! Holy cow! Another 28 to go before I reach my "realistic" goal. 53 more to reach my "optimistic" goal. Either way, I feel a million times better.

One of my best friends was in town this week for a thing in San Francisco and she came by the house for a few hours tonight (Wednesday). We had a great time catching up a little. It had been months since we had time to talk. I had the opportunity to go to a concert instead of hanging out with her, but gave the tickets to someone else, who seemed to appreciate the tickets and to have really enjoyed the show.

Next week on Thursday is Bike to Work Day in the Silicon Valley, and I think I'm going to do that. A friend is going to come meet me here at the house and we're going to ride together. Turns out if we take the right route, it's only about 7 miles, which is easy to do in less than an hour. I'll have to get my bike serviced, so I think Schondy and I are going to try to get that done this weekend. I'm really trying to get into this working out thing because it's the only thing that's going to make me look better in a bathing suit this summer. There's also a 1.2 mile walk at work on Friday that I think we're going to do. 1.2 miles is no big deal, but the other option is a 3.1 mile run, and I'm not much of a runner - at least not yet - so walking, it is.

I'm in the process of easing myself back into vegetables after almost 3 months of meal replacements only. Have really, really enjoyed eating cans of green beans each night for dinner. Never thought I'd be so happy to each a green bean in all my life. We're going to go to the store at some point and I'm now allowed to have apples, pears and bananas, which I'm so excited for, I can't even describe. My baked potato this weekend was positively divine (no butter, no cheese, no nothing except for one of my entrees and a little salt) and even my plate of carrots tasted like a dream - and I HATE carrots!!

So there you go. The theme of my life right now is to repair all the damage I've done to my body over the last XX years and blow you all away with how amazing I look when you next see me. For some of you, that won't be until at least the fall, so I have plenty of time to work on it. For the ones I'll see tomorrow, just remember - I'm a work in progress.

May 4, 2008

The Knitwit Papers, Chapter XIV: Embossed Leaves Socks

Date Begun: 03/17/2008
Date Completed: 04/30/2008
Yarn: SWTC TOFUtsies in 730 Pink & White
Needles: US3 DPN (metal)
Source: Embossed Leaves from Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave
The Story:
I'm so proud of this one. This is the first pair of socks I've made in a while and only the second pair ever.

Normally, I do a lot of knitting with big, bulky yarns (or at least worsted weight), and needles of at least size 8. Anything smaller than that, and I feel like I'm working with straight pins and sewing thread. So this was a very, very different experience - working with fingering/super-fine yarn and teeeeeensy needles. When I first started on them, I felt like I was going to break the yarn and stab myself with the needles. But happily, neither of those things happened. I made it all the way through the socks without hurting myself or destroying my (unbelievably expensive, but also really nice to work with) yarn.

I have to admit that making these socks has caused something of an addiction with me - I think socks may be my new favorite thing to make. Bad news is that sock yarn kind of.... doesn't come cheap. I've searched high and low and everywhere I can think - online and off and it looks like the cheapest sock yarn around still comes out to something around $8.00 a skein. Those are some expensive socks. It can be argued, though, that at least I'm getting a project out of it in addition to a nice gift for myself or someone else.

Anyway. Back to the socks.

So these were also an experiment in making lace AND using a chart instead of instructions - both things I haven't really done. And I have to say that it went pretty well. The socks fit (as you can see) and they look way more complicated than they really were. Once I figured out the pattern, I realized I could make it through an entire pattern repeat in about an hour. The first sock took me some time, mostly because I got almost all the way to the end of the foot before I realized I'd pooched it. I had to frog (rip out my knitting) all the way back to the heel. <Sigh>

Even though it looks like it took me a month and half to knit these, it actually didn't take that long because I did have to rip a bunch out and stat again. Plus there was the fact that work has been CRAZY with a capital... everything... so my only time to work on them was during the wait before diet class and on the weekends. Since I spent a large number of the weeks of diet class working on these, they're convinced that I'm the slowest knitter ever.

But now that they're done, I have a new problem to ponder. They're so pretty that I need to find special shoes just to show them off. They don't seem like tennis shoe socks or sandal socks or loafer socks or... well, socks requiring shoes at all. So I'm not entirely sure how to show them off. I don't want them to get damaged, so that means I can't really wear them with any shoe that might rub. Maybe I'll sleep in them, like Mom suggests. At least that way, I know they'll get used without getting damaged.

Maybe if you're lucky, I'll use my next skein of sock yarn for you. :-)

May 2, 2008

Tag. You're it.

I get tagged by these things periodically, so in the interest of playing along, here are my answers (names changed to protect the...... innocent).
  1. What time did you get up this morning?
  2. Too late - 8:45
  3. Diamonds or pearls?
  4. Diamonds
  5. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
  6. Cinema? Really? Who calls it that? Seriously, though... not sure. Maybe Serenity?
  7. What is your favorite TV show?
  8. I have to pick just one? Probably New Amsterdam
  9. What did you have for breakfast?
  10. A Chocolate protein shake
  11. What is your middle name?
  12. Don't have one
  13. What food do you dislike?
  14. That's a really long list... the top 5: mustard, tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers and meat (to qualify, it's not that I dislike meat, really. I'm just a vegetarian.)
  15. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
  16. Who still has CDs? My favorite album right now is probably.... Paulo Nutini - These Streets
  17. What kind of car do you drive?
  18. 2001 Red PT Cruiser
  19. Favorite sandwich?
  20. Cheese and pickles with Cavenders
  21. What characteristic do you despise?
  22. Ignorance
  23. Favorite item of clothing?
  24. Low-rise, flare leg jeans from the Gap
  25. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
  26. Scotland
  27. Favorite brand of clothing?
  28. At the moment, Old Navy and the Gap are high on my list.
  29. Where would you retire to?
  30. Nashville
  31. What was your most recent memorable birthday?
  32. 26 was pretty good.
  33. Favorite sport to watch?
  34. Sports? Do I have to?
  35. What is the furthest place this email will go?
  36. Er. I'm not doing this in email, so.....
  37. Person you expect to send it back first?
  38. I don't know if anyone will, but that's okay.
  39. When is your birthday?
  40. December 4
  41. Are you a morning person or a Night person?
  42. Night.
  43. What is your shoe size?
  44. 9.5
  45. Pets?
  46. Miles - 9-year-old Silver Persian cat, Deliah - 5-year-old Tortie cat, Lulu - 1.5-year-old red mini dachshund
  47. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?
  48. Um... I've lost almost 30 pounds
  49. What did you want to be when you were little?
  50. Depended on the day, I think, but I know veterinarian came up a few times, as did musician and maybe teacher?
  51. How are you today?
  52. Cold. As usual. And very tired.
  53. What is your favorite candy?
  54. Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. Every flavor.
  55. What is your favorite flower?
  56. Lily
  57. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
  58. July 2.
  59. What is your full name?
  60. Wouldn't you like to know?
  61. What are you listening to right now?
  62. The air conditioner running in my office, even though it's 65 degrees in here.
  63. What was the last thing you ate?
  64. 5-Bean Casserole.
  65. Do you wish on stars?
  66. Sometimes, but it's hard to see them here with all the city lights.
  67. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
  68. Red.
  69. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
  70. Ellis and Mufaddal (who I've actually never met)
  71. Favorite soft drink?
  72. If I have to pick one it would be Sprite, but I haven't had soft drinks on a regular basis in over 10 years.
  73. Favorite restaurant?
  74. Amarin Thai
  75. Hair color?
  76. Light brown/Dark blonde
  77. What was your favorite toy as a child?
  78. Barbies? Maybe? I don't think I was really a "toy" kind of child.
  79. Summer or winter?
  80. Winter
  81. Hugs or kisses?
  82. Hugs.
  83. Chocolate or Vanilla?
  84. I love me some chocolate, but chocolate does not love me.
  85. Coffee or tea?
  86. Coffee.
  87. Do you want your friends to email you back?
  88. Um. Does anyone actually say no to this question?
  89. When was the last time you cried?
  90. A few weeks ago, I think. I was having a really bad day at work.
  91. What is under your bed?
  92. Dust bunnies and (occasionally) a little red dog.
  93. What did you do last night?
  94. Went for a 2-mile walk, had a cup of coffee from the coffee shop, then watched Lost and played some computer games.
  95. What are you afraid of?
  96. The dark.
  97. Salty or sweet?
  98. Salty.
  99. How many keys on your key ring?
  100. 3 - House, Office, Car.
  101. How many years at your current job?
  102. 4.5
  103. Favorite day of the week?
  104. Friday.
  105. How many towns have you lived in?
  106. 8
  107. Do you make friends easily?
  108. No. I'm part nerd, and that part is very shy.
  109. How many people will you send this to?
  110. Um... All of them? It being on the Innnner-web and all...
  111. How many will respond?
  112. We'll see, but probably no one.
So there. Tag. You're it. Feel free to post the answers on your blog (if you have one) and let me know when you do it or send me an email with your answers.
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