Monday, January 30, 2012

Passing Down the Needles

I always look at photos of group crafters with wistfulness and a little disbelief.  Where do all these people live that enjoy hand crafts?  Oregon?  Canada?  It must be staged.
Is it because I live in the Deep South that I never meet other knitters or is it because I live in the deepest, darkest corner of the Deep South?   I've mentioned my knitting history before:  how I taught myself as a young mom at home with two small children on a whim, but since I haven't lost interest after ten or eleven years, I think it stuck.

But no matter how enthusiastic I am about it, or maybe because I am, it has never caught on with anyone else around me.  I bought a Rowan scarf kit for a friend at the yarn store after she had seen one of my sweaters and was all excited about learning.  She never did use the kit and has since dubbed the yarn store the "yawn store." Hummh.

 I taught my reluctant daughter how to make fuzzy, Fun Fur garter stitch scarves when she was a preteen, and she actually made one.  Of course, it was about 12 inches long, just the right size for her stuffed cat, but it was a scarf and group knitting was a happenin' at my house!   But it only happened for a day, the scarf was her last, and was probably eaten by the vacuum cleaner.

Lots of people say they want to learn, and I really think they'd enjoy it, but they just can't seem to power past cast ons and garter stitch.  That's probably why knitting groups are so popular, even if you move at a tortoise pace, you're still getting the fun of being out with friends, unless you live in Knitting Siberia.  This is one of those things that would make living in a big metropolis preferable.

Fast forward to a few months ago when some of my daughter's friends saw a scarf I had made her and said they wanted to learn to knit.   I was doubtful (did they all have stuffed cats too?) but they planned a girls night over at our house complete with food and movies, so I went out and bought size 10 aluminum straight needles and 2 skeins of Thick and Quick yarn at Wal Mart for each of them to make green and white striped garter stitch scarves.  Then they all changed their plans and the skeins sat in a corner of my daughter's room until they'd collected so much dust and dog hair I feared they'd doubled in size.

But, one night recently, when they had nothing else to do, she took them to one of their homes and all four of them learned from my daughter, who asked for a quick refresher on cast-ons before walking out the door.  Maybe having nothing else to do is the key to actually learning.

I may not have been able to be part of that group, but I was satisfied to know I made it happen with ready supplies and, because of my effort, the skill is spreading.  I think these girls actually will make more than one saggy scarf.  They like to watch movies and talk into the wee hours, so knitting fits in beautifully.  A few days later one of them emailed my daughter a picture of a perfectly even, almost finished scarf.  Nice.


I think the next time a friend, or even a stranger, expresses mild interest in my knitting to be polite, I may run get some cheap supplies and ambush them at their home with a scarf tutorial before they know what's happening.

Come knit with me on Ravelry.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Diana

When I was about 22 I found a book in the library about getting artistic photographs from instant cameras.  In it the author mentioned a collection of photos called The Diana Show.  Many years later I ordered a copy off of Ebay and fell in love with toy cameras.  


Photos like this one by Sally Gall were so visually different than anything I'd seen produced by my Kodak Disc (remember those) or 35mm.   From that point on, I really wanted to make photos like that.

I had no computer, and so no idea what terms like Holga or Lomo meant, but I found that sometimes cheap, disposable kodak cameras produced a similarly tweaked image.   I tried a Joycam, photos through the viewfinder of an Argus 75,  Polaroids SX-70 and 210, and, yes, a Diana.

There's liberation in toy and contraption photography: the devices are light, they won't break me if they break, they alter the image just enough to seem more "real" than what my eyes caught, and when I hold them, I just don't care about the rules of photography.
  
I recently waded through my closet and surfaced with 2 rolls of film from my Diana.  As part of my birthday celebration we drove to a studio that could develop them- one crazy party, huh?   One had four shots and the other had only three, possibly lens cap issues.  Of course, once we were home, I found three more rolls.  So there's that to look forward to.  

I have no idea where the shot below was taken.  None.  

(where am I? -  my Flickr)
(I like the dreamy blur of the second one)
(Moses)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Whole Life Flashed Before My Eyes

It's a good thing I have a film scanner and these newly developed film photos of my little ones (see below) to soothe my aching heart because I've been having a little crisis.

(This was a hot summer day when we decided to put fancy umbrellas in our fruit smoothies)

Actually it is a huge crisis to me:  everything on my external hard drive got erased accidentally by a beloved (and yes, forgiven) family member whose name will not be mentioned, you know, like Voldemort.  Anyway, my life flashed before my eyes.  Literally, I saw all of the family photos of my children from the last 8 years, everything digital, all the videos of them in marching band or school plays, the photos of vacations I'd always dreamed of going on and finally did, that 365 project where I got used to looking at myself, and, worst of all, most of my interviews with my grandparents before my grandfather's memory began to fade.

I think it says a lot about my character that my reaction upon learning what had happened was to simply mumble, "No... no..." and pace instead of screaming, "Oh, YOU!" while ripping out chunks of hair, spinning in circles, and biting my way through large pieces of furniture.

I really do mean that my life flashed before my eyes.  All those sweet lazy days at home where my children made up tv shows for the camcorder...  Those children are now 16 and 12, I need these memories.

I think most of the files were retrieved by a local company.  They are, however, unnamed and all out of order.  I don't know how to run the video and retrieve the sound or how to open the documents.  But, maybe I'll figure it out.   As I click through videos of my son at age 8 imitating me teaching yoga in his pajamas or my daughter purposely singing through her nose for long periods of time, I can't help but wonder what the computer tech guys happened to see in all of this.  They probably would think I'm really, really vain.  Remember, a while back I did a 365 project in which I took 365 photos of myself along with numerous possible alternates that I was too busy to sift through and delete while in the middle of the all- consuming Project.  In other words, there is way too much of me on there.  I guess this is my chance to sift and start backing up my back up.

(They used to spend lots of time together- on my Flickr)

Okay, so that's enough italics and bold type.  I'm going to calm down and sit on my patio tonight and knit.  One thing that has come from this is that I've been reflecting on how blessed I am to have this family, to have had these conversations with my grandparents, and these experiences together- even if they aren't all recovered.

Next week I'll probably be starting a new photo project for the year called "The Organizing, Renaming, and Correctly Accessing Every Image and/or Document You've Saved for the Last 8 years Project."  Something tells me there's no Flickr group for this one.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Knitting Confessions

You know you have some.  I reside in a world of knitting bloggers who love posting details about their finished knits with beautiful photos of themselves wearing them and looking off in the distance, lost in deep thoughts, and very accomplished.  
But it's a bit of a sham, with me anyway.

(on my Flickr

Let me just get the most humiliating of confessions out of the way, first.

1.  I'm a bit of a phony knitter.  I love to knit, but hate post-knit tidying up.  I've worn my Look-back Leggings for many years-  to football and soccer games,  at parades, on long walks, to another hemisphere, etc.  But I have yet to weave in all of the ends.  I know, I'm cringing too.

Exhibit A:

I've hidden loose, unwoven ends for many project photos: tucked them into leg warmers, up inside of sleeves,  down the back of necklines.  I even pinned my Corona Camisole straps to the body with hidden safety pins so I could take a "Finished Object" photo and let it double as a no-brainer 365 photo of the day.  I did, after all, intend to finish it up the next day.  It is still waiting there, folded in my closet, pins and all.   Ah, the "Finished Object" photo of a not quite finished object; am I alone in this?  

2.  I'm also a terrible blocker.  Read this and this if you doubt me.  I routinely wear newly finished knits before I block them.  I don't know, it feels all homespun that way and, after the Miracle Grow Sweater Debacle, it would seem this is the only way to make sure I get some wear out a sweater before taking a risk with washing it.  

3.  The blocking thing is really only a gamble because I am a swatching newbie.  I usually swatch, but never realized that I should wash and block it before diving into a project.  That was a Homer Simpson "Doh!" you just heard.



4.  I am also a knitting cheapskate, preferring cheap plastic circulars and Denise needles for everything.  This isn't really an embarrassing confession, just a fact.  I love Denise needles.  I've never had anything snag on them and I abuse them with tight knitting regularly, like on the sweater above where I finally popped a cord.  (It's not the needle set's fault.)  I have had them for probably 9 years or more.  You wouldn't believe how giddy I was to get the replacement cords and more needles as part of my birthday gift.

5.  Of course, cord popping is a first for me and only happened because I have another issue/skill in that I am sometimes a Death Grip knitter.  I can get a size 3 gauge out of a size 5 needle by using Knitter's Death Grip in order to avoid buying smaller needles for the project because... well... refer to the confession above.  (Knitter's Death Grip is where you sit hunched over and give your busy needles an Indian rope burn while wearing a maniacal expression on your face.)  But I only do it occasionally, in a pinch, because I don't enjoy being that "wound up."

6.  But, I can get a little wound up when I have to.  It was the same Denise needle set that showed me what a possessive knitter I am.  A few years ago, I kind of caused a scene arguing with Lan Peru airline security over my size 6 Denise needles that I'd left in my carry on.  You have to understand, I am not a scene maker.  That's tacky and not worth it, usually.  Even as I argued with the supervisor that they were airline approved, I was surprised at how much it bothered me to lose one very affordable pair of needles.  It was like losing a digit or something.  I probably did start to frighten them.  I wonder if they put them in one of those giant, plexiglass boxes full of sharp, unapproved carry-on items in customs as a visual reminder.  Ugh.  Well, maybe that's kind of cool: my Denise needles hanging with all those blades.   Maybe I'm a dangerous knitter.

7.  I am a "Big Plans" knitter, queueing  patterns like crazy or hoarding way more knitting magazines and books than I will ever, ever use and wasting time that I could be using for knitting to take them out and polish them with a "my precious" look on my face.  Okay, I know I'm not alone on this one.

8.  I am a knitter in denial.  I live in the South and only wear sweaters a couple of months a year, but that doesn't keep me from churning out my favorite thing and then shoving them into sweater boxes under my bed for one day...

9.  I squirrel away knitting stuff in any available space.  But, to be fair, I have a really small home.  By everywhere I mean under the bed, behind clothes hanging in the closet, in the garage, in the pantry, on top of the fridge, and in big jars on shelves to double as "art."  Is this what it's like to be a pack rat?  Below is my newly organized needle stash under my bed.

And this next one is the yarn on top of the fridge.  No, that isn't the title of a short story... at least not yet.

10.  Yeah, I'm a selfish knitter and I'm not a bit ashamed.

11.  I did give a failed sweater to my cat.  I think she likes it, she's curled up on it right now, which proves I can be a selectively generous knitter.

12.   Knitting couch potato - that's me.  I watch (or listen to) way too much Netflix and it's all knitting's fault.  I think I could hide out like a hermit and knit all day, year round if I didn't have a family.  I'm not saying that I would, I don't think I'd be fulfilling my God given purpose in life, but I definitely could.
Speaking of God, I have almost absentmindedly brought my knitting into church with me, but didn't. Does this make me a spiritual knitter?

13.  I may do "take backs" with a sweater that I made my daughter who has yet to wear it in the year since I made it, because it's so cool and wasting away in her closet.  So, there you have it, I'm a knitting thief.

14.  My armpits are often not as neat as I'd like.  Not my actual armpits; I mean the armpit seams on my sweaters.  I just haven't always paid attention to details until it was too late.  I recognize the contradiction in being way too preoccupied with a hobby but then being absentminded while engaging in it, really I do.  I try to be careful and read through patterns all the way before I get started, but once in a while I overlook critical things and end up either needing more yarn or with Theo Huxtable's shirt.   Even so, the next time I get yarn and needles out with a project in mind I may be just as blinded to detail because the feeling you get when starting those first few rows is heady for an addict.

This concludes my very long confessional.  It's time for a fresh start, a chance to amend my slothful and/or obsessive ways.   I feel so squeaky clean and forgiven I think I'll put another season of The Closer into the BluRay and continue my second attempt of Knitter's Death Grip on that un-swatched sweater that I'm making for me, myself, and I because I already have the yarn left over from the first attempt tucked under my bed and didn't want to actually spend more money.  I'll probably work on it, with tunnel vision, until it's finished, or until it's time to weave in ends, then I might take a long break to stare at my knitting books or internet patterns with the cursor hovering over the Ravelry queue button.   Ah, it's too late for me; save yourself.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's About Time

This film is probably 4 years old.  It's 120, which I guess is why I had it taped up and sealed in a pouch inside of a grocery bag I'd tied up and then dropped into another bag.  I'm a little paranoid using film that doesn't come with light-tight containers because I never had before.    But, not paranoid enough to actually take it to be developed within a few years of shooting it.

(serious vignetting, on my Flickr)

I was really surprised to see that any of these photos came out.  I've shot a total of 5 blind rolls with my Diana, never developing any along the way to know if I was even doing it right.  I remember timing my work and meals one day while on a mission in Peru so that I could take a shot of a certain street all aflame with light at sunset.  I was so pleased on the walk back to the house we were staying at, until I looked down and realized I'd had the lens cap on the whole time.  That roll is being developed as I type this so maybe I'll get the prints and find that I went back and tried the shot again.  I just don't remember.

(These were all taken in Ayaviri, Peru)

I suppose my procrastination is due to our local camera shop and darkroom closing around the time I received my Diana as a Christmas present.  So right at the beginning I sort of lost momentum.  But the days of languishing, expiring film are over.  I've almost finished developing the stack of disposable cameras from years gone by, I have 3 more rolls shot with my Diana at the developer's, and I just got my Epson V500 scanner in the mail.  I'm suppressing girlish squeals, here.

(Why do these just feel more "real" than my digital shots?)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DIY Memory Foam Mattress

We finally faced the ugly truth:  my neck issue that leads me to wake up with migraines is probably exacerbated by our crummy mattress.  Once you know what your spinal problems are, you become hyper aware of your positioning.  So after seeing a chiropractor for spinal care, I knew the mattress we were sleeping on was about as supportive as Gilligan's hammock.
Though $900 for a mattress didn't seem like a poor investment at the time, I guess it was.  But here's the real shocker:  

I have since realized that the cheaper and firmer the mattress, the better.  

It does make sense when you consider that we were made to sleep on the ground, and I can't think of anything more supportive.  This means I would have felt better and saved money if I'd slept on an inexpensive, firm futon that cost $100 and replaced it every two years instead of struggling for three on a more expensive pillow top name brand.  No wonder I always sleep great on our old, second hand, pop-up camper mattress.  

My chiropractor said lots of people have reported sleeping better in their campers and that dense latex foam might be the way to go.  So, I looked up Tempur Pedic, Ikea mattresses, Natura, and other latex types; however, it's a little scary to invest a lot in something that may prove wrong for me in a couple of months.  After reading more reviews, about construction and a few "how-to" sites, I settled on The Foam Factory's most dense all natural latex mattress with a 3" 5lb. ViscoMax memory foam topper mattress.  

The mattresses were delivered in two small but crazy heavy boxes.  We sort of rolled them through the house into the bedroom and began to remove the packaging so they could unfurl.  Very weird.

We already had the hairpin legs we wanted for our soon-to-be-built (hopefully) platform bed, so my husband threw together a cheap pine platform bed in an hour, seriously, and we attached the legs to it for now.

(This is before adding slats, obviously.) 

It actually looks pretty good for unfinished wood.  After all was set up and finished, he added center supports underneath to quell my fear of the bed collapsing on our cat.  (Thank you, Dear.)  I have been sleeping on it for about two weeks and have not awoken with a migraine once.  I have only had one headache during the day and I know that was due to some stressful circumstances.   I actually wake up feeling better than when I went to bed, something that I haven't been able to say in years.

(Sorry there's no more photos, but even after vacuuming up the dog hair, my room was still a mess.)

The moment of truth, however, will be in a few months when everything has had time to sag or deteriorate a little.  I really don't think we'll have a problem with the bottom latex mattress,  but I'm glad I can customize my side of of the bed by removing the memory foam if I need to.  If all else fails, we can trash the whole thing and buy that cheap futon for our soon to be made platform bed.
Image on my Flickr.

Edit- 4/9/13:  I've lost all of the comments to this post that included an update, so I'll update here.  It's been a year and I'm very satisfied with this latex mattress.  I did take the memory foam topper off because it wasn't firm enough for my particular back, although everyone else who napped on the bed loved it.  There are no signs of deterioration or sagging.  So, I'm really glad we went with this brand.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stove Top Espresso the Second Time Around

My tastes have changed in the last year.  I crave salt and strong flavor (think goat cheese) over sweets.  Most of the time, I don't really care about food.  I mean, I'm thankful for it and try to eat wisely, but it's not the highlight of my day, even when I'm cooking it for my family, unless I get hit with a peculiar craving.   I'm not a food snob.  I just don't really want much of anything; anything, that is, except the perfect cup of cappuccino.

 It started when we celebrated my husband's 40th birthday at an Italian restaurant and I had chicken with all sorts of goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes.  When I was too stuffed for dessert, I ordered a plain jane cappuccino.  Look, I realize this is an old news kind of drink.  Espresso drinks ceased to be cool for me ten years ago, and I never thought I'd want another cappuccino after tasting one at McDonald's (why did I do that?)  But, I don't know, it was so earthy and good that night.

Anyway, I'll get to the point by saying everything I tasted in the month between that birthday dinner and buying an $8 Bialetti knock off at Ross was cardboard.

In years past we have burned through Bialettis, Mr Coffees, and a Francis Francis (it was so beautiful) but over time I quit enjoying the taste and went back to my coffee roots.  It doesn't help that my husband has a "More is more!" attitude and makes/cooks everything ever stronger as the years go by.  I realize its really nice of him to do this and that's probably why I drank cappuccinos for a couple of years after I ceased to enjoy them.


But this time around I googled how to use the knock off espresso maker so I wouldn't get that metallic taste.  (I know, I google everything.  I even dream about googling.)

First, I vowed to always take it all the way apart and clean after every use.  This may curb my caffeine habit, but so be it.  Then, I ground the beans for 16 seconds or so, intermittently, so they wouldn't burn.  I filled the coffee basket, but didn't tamp.  I kept the heat on medium and pulled the pot as soon as the espresso began gurgling up, so it wouldn't burn.

With just a touch of sugar it was perfection.  I felt like I could finally rest on the inside after a month of appetite soul- searching.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cauliflower Soup

"Training is everything.  The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." - Mark Twain

 Is this not a beautiful natural wonder?  Why am I so uneducated about the educated cabbage?  Most of my experience with cauliflower has been the bland steamed vegetable tray, sometimes called "steamies," served to fill space beside a more tasty entree in restaurants.  And this is a waste.  Cauliflower is just too common and inexpensive to remain so untapped in my kitchen.

I came across this recipe for cauliflower soup  by The Pioneer Woman recently and the cream called to me.   It seemed just a tad thrown together, which appeals to my slapdashedness in the kitchen.  It was nothing too exact, so I thought I couldn't really mess it up.  I was right, because it was great even though I forgot to serve it with the sour cream.

 Here's two more cauliflower recipes that I'm anxious to try out:

One, for Roasted Cauliflower with Olives and Herbs is so beautifully photographed it is making my stomach growl.  (Sadly, my stomach will be receiving lazy grilled chicken salad tonight instead.)  Those marinated olives!  

The other is a Coconut Curry recipe with potatoes and zucchini accompanying the cauliflower.   Anyway, the curry interested me.  Plus, the site reminded me that I've been wanting to order a giant vat of coconut oil  for forever, but either forget to budget for it or simply forget.  This is the year of the vat.

 I read that Louis XIV ate his cauliflower quartered, boiled in broth, seasoned with a little nutmeg and shaken with butter over a fire.  Guess I have to do that now, too.

 There are tons of roasted cauliflower "popper" type recipes out there right now selling cauliflower as the new baked kale, which was the new baked lays, which was the old pork rinds.  I don't know how snack-y I'd find it, though I did recently eat a whole bag of Brussels Sprouts by myself, but I know it would be the perfect steamies upgrade.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Leaves, Turning

My New Year's Eve was not all fireworks and excitement.  In fact, the kids were at friends' homes and there were no fireworks at all.  There wasn't even cocoa.  Sigh.  Let's all feel the melancholy together.  (I wonder if anyone else out there remembers how to spell "melancholy" by saying it like Megamind, too?)   These are the kind of thoughts I was reduced to at home without anything to distract my mind from weighing the pages of my life in 2011.  I won't get into what I found, just that there were blessings and there were disappointments.

I get the added fun of surveying the past year with a birthday following close behind.  It makes things seem a little more profound.  Profundity, drama, it's all the same, right?  Well, I've had a full week to consider all of this and now might be ready to think of goals for the year ahead.  There are the personal ones, which I may go into later, and there are the easy, surface-y goals.  That's where I feel comfortable hanging out today.

Last year I resolved to use manual settings and less editing in photos, and that went well.  I did walk the dogs more, used up some stashed yarn, and continued to practice the piano, though less than I should've.  I read more fiction, finished a 365 photo project, kept up Bible study,  and fixed up a "vintage" bike for riding around town- all part of the plan.  This seems to beg for an, "Oh goody for me. I'm so industrious!" in a British accent.

I should probably mention that I was a sleep deprived zombie stumbling through a wreck of a house many days, and often used these goals to cheer me out of some major discouragement.  That should wipe out any Martha Stewart-ish illusions my list may have initially conjured up. 



On to my new surface-y 2012 resolutions:

- Get a scanner, shoot more film, and shoot selectively
-Work on learning Spanish, for real.
-Walk my dogs, with my kids, regularly before they meld with the couch
-Read every night before bed, which is easy because my glasses are practically hypnosis.  Two minutes after they are set on my nose, I am dead to the world.
- View my knitting from a more technical perspective, focusing on construction and sizing, and, maybe, writing a pattern.
-Empty two containers of stored yarn from the garage- this may mean knitting ugly things or giving ugly yarn away.  
- Remember people in my community having hard times because we've been there, too.  (No, I don't mean giving them the ugly yarn.)
-Really pay attention to how much negativity comes out of my mouth.
-Find an old tandem bike and fix it up before my anniversary in the Spring, if possible.
-Do strength training (and by strength training I mean no more than 20 minutes of body weight workout) twice a week.  No more, no less because, oh my gosh, it is so boring.
-What do you want from me? Isn't that enough?  

(I love this 50mm lens I received for Christmas?  Most of these are straight out of the camera.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amazing Miracle Grow Sweater

This is Caramel, Deux.  The original is a semi-felted, shapeless mass drying on my table.   I get a lump in my throat when I look at it.  I'm either going to cry or vomit.  

This a real tale of woe. I put in some serious knitting time on this the last month in hopes of wearing it for a Christmas cold snap. I did wear it, for all of one minute to show my husband.  It fit perfectly and was all warm like a blanket cardigan should be.  I was smiling and thinking phrases like, "It pays to work hard and do it yourself." I didn't even take time to take a picture before quickly setting it aside for ruination.  Ruination is the new blocking, didn't you know?  At least it is at my house because this is my second Miracle Grow Sweater. 

If there's a bright spot in this, it would be that at least I've learned that knitting a test swatch isn't enough. I have to wash and block it too. I have been knitting long enough to know this and this is super basic information. I know I read about it in my first knitting book, but I never did it,never had a problem, and so forgot.

Not washing the swatch is the reason I prefer my daughter's Mrs. Darcy sweater to mine: hers was made too small for me and when washed was good for her size and mine.  I used a different yarn for mine and after washing, it grew longer and wider and, though it is still sharp looking, isn't as fitted as I would have liked.   I actually thought it was a fluke, from using an unfamiliar yarn or something. But now I realize I was skipping a very important step in the annoying, joy-killing process of knitting preparation.  (You know, where you experiment with needle size and yarn to make sure you have as many stitches and rows per inch as the pattern calls for, knit up a 4 x 4 test swatch, reknit until it's perfect, wash it, and wait for it to air dry in order to know if the stitch gauge has grown as the wool "blooms.")  My suggestion is to start early with your swatching, maybe before you're even finished with the previous project, so when you have that weekend to work on a sweater, you won't just be sitting around waiting for your swatch to dry.   Some even suggest a bigger swatch then 4 x 4 so you can get an idea if the weight of the fiber will pull the sweater out of shape.  Then you have the excitement of drawing up new plans and calculations to take this weight into account.

(First caramel in my Ravelry.  At least my cat likes it.)

As I said I'd just forgotten about the need for all of that and knitted away, churning out this blanket sweater in no time.  But when I washed it, it turned elephantine.  So I tried hot water to shrink it up just a little.  I should have tried the dryer first, but I had no luck with my first Miracle Grow Sweater in the dryer, so I skipped it.  In the hot water it did start to tighten up without losing too much drape, felting only slightly.  

At least the stockinette did.  The k1,p1 rib didn't budge.  So, now the sweater was better in fit, but the edges were all billowy.   I had visions of myself in Michael Jackson's flap collars, and it wasn't pretty.  I then tried spot felting the ribbing.  Is there really such a thing or have I made it up?  It only thickened in a way that made the neat little ribbing imperceptible.

So, the top picture is where I'm at on my second try at this sweater; that is not too far.  But it is too good a pattern not to knit right.  I hope I don't get bored the second time around.  But I just can't let it go with the piece of felt on my table, blanket- like though it maybe.  I really want to make this and wear it.
Today, I want to get past the armholes so I don't give up.  Sounds like a Netflix kind of day to me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Semi- DIY Fillable Lamp

When I hear the term collector two words go through my mind- Louvre and hoarder, neither of which accurately describe me and my rocks and shells.  I think the basket's and giant pickle jars' worth I've gathered over years of beach weekends and vacations falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between curated and crazy.  
 I have a large, perfect, spiral shell that a friend found and gave to me on a winter beach walk when I was a teenager, fossils found with my kids, a rock from a small mountain I walked up at high altitude... you get the idea.  Natural artifacts are the best souvenirs.  (No, I do not collect rocks from national parks or Wonders of the World- just everywhere else.)


I have seen fillable lamps here and there and could have totally made the lamp base out of one of the aforementioned  pickle jars for a similar look.  But I didn't since this base was on sale at Target and made a more  expensive DIY seem sort of silly.    
I used only rocks from Enchanted Rock (Okay, I said I don't take rocks from state and national parks, but my children didn't realize this and when we got home from that park, I found a few presents for Mommy in their stuff) and mostly shells from Sea Rim, my childhood beach.  
  
Fillables are easy- no finding the right drill bit for drilling through glass- just unscrew the top and fill with clean shells, rocks, pine cones, fossils, leaves, or whatever.  I topped mine with a parchment shade my brother gave me.


Even though I've been looking at them through a jar for forever, I'm still impressed with the amount of color.  That's unusual for shells from this area of the Gulf Coast; however, the most colorful and whole were found after hurricanes Katrina and Ike, so that might explain something.
  
day 365

So that's the end of this little project and the last of my 365 project pictures of 2011.  I am exiting the 365 scene.