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a different kind of string theory

At some point in her non-knitting career, my mom managed to buy 13 skeins of eyelash yarn in some really garish colors. The site I linked to is Lion Brand, and I like Lion Brand, but this is some other brand. I don’t think Lion makes this stuff in Burgundy and Lime. Eew! Most of it is burgundy/lime, but there are a few rainbow colors tossed in there, and a single skein of aquamarine and seafoam. Number one, what was she thinking with all this eyelash yarn? Number two, what was she thinking with the colors? And number three, she doesn’t knit. Like, at all.

So now I’ve got a load of it, because she is getting the springtime itch to clean around the house. I’m happy to have yarn, always, but this time? Um… thanks?

After much consideration, I’ve decided to knit her something with the least garish of the colors. She must like the stuff, since she bought so much of it, right? I hope so. If not, we will laugh and laugh about this and I will remind her that it was her yarn.

Today I went to Le Parisien ( I wonder why it isn’t Les Parisiennes, since I’ve only seen it staffed by French ladies) and had a gorgeous raspberry tart and a vibrant pink macaroon. Too bad I don’t have a cellphone camera, or you’d have a visual of them. La Boulangerie is still my all time favorite place, but I like the slow pace of Le Parisien. La Bou wins for coffee, though. I thought the French liked strong coffee. Am I wrong about this?

This is not the exact macaroon I ate.



Tuesday Morning is an unlikely place to find knitting needles, but I went there looking for a seam ripper and found these:

Big Huge #17 Needles

The other needles are #13 Takumis. These #17’s are by some company I’ve never heard of, Fiddlesticks, but they feel like Crystal Palace, which is A-ok! I didn’t actually have any yarn fitting for #17 sticks, so I combined some Paton’s roving and Stitch Nation 100% wool, and the result is lofty– which is good, because a superthick yarn on superbig needles would result in a superuncomfortable necker.

So far, so good, but I have noticed that while trying to divide and transfer some of my stitches into a holding pattern, the next row got stretched out. This happens whenever I do this project, regarldess of yarn or needles, but is easily fixed by switching to a thinner needle for the first row or two after the transfer. This time, however, even though I switched to my #13 Takumis, the first row stayed stretched out. Crap. I’ve already ripped out a bit and reknit, hoping for a better row, but it’s still stretched. Hm. Frustrating!

In other news, I apparently don’t know how to load a dishwasher. This is what happens when you grow up in the 1900 house. It is a running joke in my husband’s family that I am from the 1900 house, because when we first started dating, my mom’s water heater was broken and I would heat water on the stove and pour it into the tub for bathwater. It took a really long time to get enough for a bath, and the first few pots would start to cool off. What a pain in the ass that was! What they don’t know is that during the winter before that, the heater had gone out and I spent the whole winter break freezing my ass off, without a car to go anywhere warm, and took a lot of aimless walks.

But, so anyway, do you really think that I’d have a dishwasher if I didn’t have a working water heater or a furnace? Of course not. So when we moved here, almost two years ago, we had a dishwasher, and I did not trust it. I really didn’t see the point in washing dishes half-assedly so that I could put them in a contraption that would take 97 additional minutes to finish the job. Why not simply put a little more elbow grease into the task and have clean dishes the first time around?

I got teased some more, and while dishwashing is one of my favorite chores, I went ahead and loaded the dishwashing contraption with dishes and saved the pots and pans for myself. Lo and behold, it did give me more free time. I mean, who cares if it takes 97 minutes for the dishwasher to do it, if I’m spending those 97 minutes totally oblivious to what it’s doing all by its lonesome in the kitchen?

The problem was, I wasn’t rinsing the dishes off enough before I placed them into the contraption, and eventually it got plugged. After several empty runs, it was unplugged, and we started using it again, and I was pretty good about rinsing off the stupid dishes– until L. started bringing home his plastic snapware containers he uses to take his lunch to work.

He leaves them for days at the office or in his car, all tightly sealed up, complete with empty salt packets and slimy plastic forks, and festering and breeding God Knows What. When I open these botulism boxes, I want to gag. So, I hold my breath, open it, and stick it immediately into the dishwasher, because rinsing it would require SMELLING it, and I don’t want to do that.

And because I am sneaky, I try to activate the dishwashing contraption while L. is at work and won’t notice what I’m putting in there.

Well, yesterday, I was too late, and he came home and saw his botulism box with a few pieces of leeks or whatever stuck to it, and I got a lecture. Apparently, I’m driving him to drink. I pointed out that he drinks even when I don’t do the dishes, and when he has practice, and any old time, really, but it fell on deaf ears. When I went downstairs, I saw that only one bowl had a little speck of food on it. Huh?

I think somebody else needs to start doing the dishes. Like, the dog.

And now for something completely different:

My Desk

This is my favorite place in the world. This is where I do my writing while listening to The National and Mikael Simpson and Doves, ignore the phone, and look into my neighbors’ yards.

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On Monday, L. and I went to H & E Nursery. We had some time to kill after dropping off The Babyhead and before Brahma Bull opened up, and we’d left Barnes and Noble too early because there was a creepy guy, creeping me out. Really we just went to the nursery to walk about and in the back of my mind, I vaguely wanted some Irish Moss to put near our redwood tree. Our back yard has a lot of shade and is a little on the dark and dank side, and moss is pretty.

I went a little crazy, because it was a gorgeously springtime in Fresno kind of day. We checked out everything, every rose, every fruit tree, everything. Every koi. As I wondered aloud to L., “I wonder if you can eat koi?” two large specimens gave us dirty looks and swam away. Apparently, koi have no sense of humor. I wouldn’t really eat them. After all, we were going to Brahma Bull.

I don’t know what I was thinking. I got the moss, alright, but I also got a lilac tree, a big bag of potting soil (L. laughed when I said we didn’t have a lot of dirt. But we don’t!), and a spade. Like I couldn’t use a spoon or a shovel, but I was on a roll.

What I really fell in love with, though, was this.

Flowering Quince

I mean, come on. So I’ll be making a trip back to H&E in the very near future. I’m not sure if I’ll get the light pink and very Japanese looking one, or a darker one, like what my mom has. They do really well in Fresno. My mom’s grows like a weed, and I suppose I could probably take a cutting, but I don’t feel like babying a little stick. I want to plant a big glorious flowering thing into the ground. Gosh, how American.

Well, I’ve gone and done it. It really must be Spring (regardless of yesterday’s pseudoforecast of snow!) because I’ve devised a new project for myself.

I was enabled by Really Cute Fabric on this site. The fabric was on sale! What was I supposed to do, really, but buy it? I also got some zippers, because they have cute colors beyond the standard black, navy, white and beige. My town needs a boutique fabric store, because while I do enjoy being able to go into the supermarket of fabric stores (aka Jo-Ann’s Fabrics), it would be superawesome to be able to go into a brick and mortar store to buy Really Cute Fabric and Neat-O things.

Part of my new project involves the use of wool thread, or crewel yarn, and Jo-Ann’s only has cotton crewel (at least online– I should go back and check their embroidery section now that I know what the stuff is called). I’m going to have to use lace or fingering yarn, maybe, instead. Knitpicks has a boatload of colors to pick from, but if I want to get the actual product that I want, I’m going to have to order that, too. What a load. And finding wool felt that is not eco-felt? That has to be special ordered, too! And if you click on the felt link, you’ll see that their site is closed until March something or other. That’s good, actually, because I can use up some of my ecofelt while I’m waiting for them to reopen, and then for stuff to arrive.

Busy bee, that's me!

Also, look what I’m going to order to use as Made By Tags!

I’m excited, and a little nervous, because I am 85% sure that my skill level is not equal to the task I’ve set for myself. But what the hell, right? If I’m only going to have one class this semester, maybe I can set up a little cottage industry for myself. The shotgun approach, that’s what this is. I’m going back to school to get a (different) credential, jumping ship and subbing so that I won’t have to do two kinds of homework, am writing a pulpy paranormal mystery (or as pulpy as I am capable of churning out, anyway), and now this. One of these will stick. Something has to.

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Since L’s been all low-carb, low-sugar lately, there’s been a dearth of baked goods about the house. Iso and I finally got the undeniable hankering for some cookies the other day, and last night we made some. It was such a primal desire for hot cookie action that I didn’t even bother to use a cookbook. I totally winged it, and Iso helped. They turned out superwell, so the purpose of this post is to remind me what I did so that I can do it again.

Cookies were definitely harmed in the making of this blog.

Brown Sugar Lemon Cookies

Cream together:

1 stick softened butter (I prefer salted.)

3/4 c. brown sugar (I prefer dark brown.)

Then mix in:

1 capful of vanilla extract (Has anybody else found that alcohol free extract is kind of blah?)

1 egg

Slowly stir in:

2 c. flour (I used all purpose white, this time.)

1 T. baking powder

And when that’s well mixed, incorporate as much flour as you need to make the cookie dough rollable. For me, this was one more cup. We rolled the dough out, about 1/4 inch thick, then baked at 375 for 10 minutes. After they cooled off, we frosted them.

Lemon Frosting

2 c. powdered sugar

2 drops red food coloring

1 capful of lemon extract (For a fresher lemon flavor, toss in some lemon zest and/or replace some of or all of the milk with lemon juice.)

1 t. soft butter

a bit of milk

Stir until it’s the right consistency, then ice the cooled cookies.

Because we used dark brown sugar, they came out a little caramelesque. And because we used all-purpose white they came out very delicate and crumbly, like a lighter version of shortbread. Naturally, if you use a heavier wheat flour, you’ll get a denser cookie, or a whiter sugar will produce just a plain sweet cookie, but it will still be tasty.

I think this recipe made about two dozen, but we were so crazed for cookies that I really have no idea anymore. It was like a cookie massacre around here.


It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I may have OD’d on knitting for a month or so. Right before Christmas, I did a Holiday Craft Fair at the school where my mother-in-law works. I cranked out a ton (read: A boatload, or more colloquially, a buttload) of neckers and scarflettes, or whatever the heck you want to call them. It was such a great experience, even though I ended knitting more in one month than I’d ever knit in my entire life!

It was a very low pressure craft fair. In fact, the only thing I bothered stressing out over was that I’d completely forgotten to bring change, or a cash box, or any kind of bag or box to put my products in. Oops. I did manage to make cute little tags. Right after the craft fair, though, I bought this book, which will prepare me for Etsy and any other craft fair situation. If you click on the link, you’ll see that it looks Very Cute and Not Very Useful, but that is where you would be wrong. It is both Very Cute and Very Useful.

The craft fair was also a good experience because I got to meet the crafty wife of a friend, and I don’t know either of them as well as I would like. We sat next to each other for a few hours (and I really wanted to just shove all of her cute tote bags and pouches into my own purse and call it a day), and what better way to see if someone is on the same wavelength or not? Well, long car trips are really the best way to see if you can get along with somebody, but that wouldn’t be very practical in a crafty situation. Anyway, we did get along, and her husband even showed up with Don Pepe tacos (key to my affections!) at lunchtime, and now I’m going to go to a crafting party with her in March. So, yay! This angle of the craft fair was full of win.

It was also interesting, too, to see what other people do. Some of it I really liked, and some of it was atrocious. And a lot of it was not exactly atrocious, but it just wasn’t anything I’d ever be remotely like;y to buy. It was useful to see what sold and what got passed over, and what I should do the same and what I should do differently.

Let’s not forget that I actually made money on this venture! I sold almost everything, and I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t sell my orange and white ruffled necker. It’s an odd duck, and I totally designed it myself, and I’m glad no one wanted to wear something that looks like a creamsicle. I was so excited about making money that I reinvested it all in more yarn– and that’s when Christmas hit and I didn’t knit for a few weeks. I’m back on the wagon now, though. With a vengeance. I’m taking up sewing and felting now, as well as knitting.

A few days ago, when I should have been grading papers I finally sewed up those curtains and relearned my way around the sewing machine. In middle school and high school I was a sewing maniac. I really liked the flapper era, the Roaring Twenties, and may have been delusionary at times, thinking I was Tuppence Beresford. That’s a different blogpost. But I sewed a lot sans patterns, and once my mom and I moved and she got divorced, I don’t know what happened to my sewing machine. It was a tumultuous time, and the sewing machine was the last thing on my mind. But a few years ago, during my I-go-to-Target-every-day phase, Singer sewing machines were on sale, and I snapped one up. That phase may have been a pesky and dangerous one, but the purchase was sound. This Sunday, I finally used it. Nearly twenty years is a long absence, so I’m definitely going to have to relearn a whole slew of techniques and skills, but I jumped into the water. I accidentally disassembled the whole bobbin apparatus trying to put a new bobbin in, and since I couldn’t find the instruction manual I had to figure it all out like a puzzle. I might have a bright career ahead of me in sewing machine repair. Also, I’m glad my daughter was taking a walk with my husband when this happened, because I cursed like a salty dog the whole entire time.

One last thing: Needle Felting. I had less than $50 in my bank account, but I did get this anyway, because I’ve been pining away for one and I wanted to be able to make my neckers stand out from the crowd.

Three very sharp needles with which to poke things.

They are very sharp, and I’m surprised I’ve only poked myself once with them. Maybe I should keep a tally. If you want to felt a larger area they make larger pokey things, and you can remove one or two from this particular model to fit the nature of your project.

You place your wooly project on something that looks like an old-fashioned lintbrush, and then keeping your fingers out of the way, poke-poke-poke-poke until the fibers are as stuck together as you want them to be. Poke more and it’s denser and very stuck together, poke less and it’s looser. You can get all kinds of creative with this. Poke color upon color, fiber upon fiber (as long as it’s wool, or a wool combo).


Of course, you would set the bristly mat on a table, and not actually hold it up in the air. Duh. Notice that this is an action shot.

The first thing I attempted to embellish was a little pouch I’d made and felted– but it didn’t really felt all the way. I think that’s called fulling, maybe? Anyway, it’s floppier than I would like, though kind of cute. I simply placed some of my favorite mustard colored yarn where I wanted to have a stripe, and poke-poke-poked.

All my yarn is mustard-colored.

It took a minute or two. I still don’t know what to do with this pouch, but now it has a stripe! I think, with some alterations, I could fashion a kindle cover.

Then this morning, on my home from class, I was bothered by the fact that the slit I tuck the end of my scarflette through gets stretched out and loose. Would it eventually unravel altogether? And then I remembered my handy felting needle. When I got home, I felted the slit so that it was sturdier (!). Problem solved!

Sturdy slit. Get your mind out of the gutter.

And then I used the felting needle on a little necker that I’d made with two strands of yarn, and one of the strands refused to weave in and be properly finished. Poke-poke-poke, and that sucker was finished for good. No more sticking out, stubborn yarn ends that refuse to give in to that good night.

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I’m not sure if I have taken the easy route, or not. After looking at a ton of cardigan patterns, I decided I didn’t want to invest Big Buck$ in awesome yarn that I’d probably knit into something atrocious. After all, it’s my first article of clothing that isn’t a scarf or a necker. That’s a huge commitment!

So, I am returning to the tried and true– Stitch N’ Bitch.

Best Knitting Book EVER

There is a cardigan pattern in here that was too difficult for me when I first started knitting. It looked SO hard back then! But now that I’ve got a few patterns under my belt, and I know how to increase and decrease with ease, and can even do some laces, I took another look at the Go Everywhere cardigan. It requires no double-pointeds (which are still my nemesis. I’ll get you yet, you pointy little so and so’s!). You just knit pieces, then sew it all up!

As I’ve been poking around into all kinds of sweater patterns, I can see that the vogue is for sweaters that you knit in one piece. I’m not sure why that’s such a big deal, because as far as I can see, it’s not actually all that convenient. It requires a lot more counting and usually ( those dratted things again!) DPNs, and you can’t really tell what you’re knitting until you’re almost done. That’s what it seems like, anyway.

But with this pattern, you knit the back, then bind off. Knit two fronts, bind off. Knit the sleeves, bind off. Sew together, then crochet a trim around the whole shebang. I can do that!

I’ve even, true to form, changed the pattern up a bit and knit a two inch garter stitch around the bottom so that it doesn’t flip up. I’m using some cream fisherman’s wool I got from Jo-Ann, so if it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal about the yarn, and I’ve had a learning experience.

Knitting something new is a bit like having a new boyfriend. It’s a bit exciting, but you’re never quite sure how it’s going to end up. Will it work out? Will it be a good fit, after all of this time and worry that’s been dumped into it? You just won’t know until it’s all too late. Tell me that isn’t like the first week or so of dating.

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