Monday, July 30, 2007

Gallery: Another Captain Underpants

This is Allison Land's Captain Underpants!

Wow! The embroidery on this CU is just terrific!

Reviewed: "To Shield the Queen" by Fiona Buckley

This book is my Historical Fiction book and I read it because my librarian recommended it.

I'm glad I checked it out. It was an entertaining read.

Ursula Blanchard is a 26 year old widow who had been disowned by her family due to the fact that she ran off with a man who was promised to be married to her husband. Her husband died of Small Pox and Ursula found herself in need of shelter. She was allowed to become a lady in waiting for Queen Elizabeth I as Ursula's mother had been a lady for Elizabeth's mother, when she was alive. Ursala is also the product of a illicit affair her mother had with an unknown married gentleman.

Ursala was hired by Dudley, the queen's love interest who was married, to go and watch over his ill wife.

There are many intrigues that go on in the story and I ended up reading the story very quickly. I'll check out some more Ursala Blanchard books.

Reviewed: "The Loved Ones" by Evelyn Waugh

This was my humorous book selection. I could have used it for a book written before I was born as it was written in 1948.

What I enjoyed about this book is how Waugh was able to write about the commercialization of America and how it's insidiousness has even seeped into the funeral home business.

It starts off a little disorienting, but I finally figured out where I was in the story and was off and laughing. It's definitely a quirky read.

Reviewed: "Day of the Triffids" by John Wyndham

Since M is enrolled in our local library reading clubs, J & I decided to participate, too. Our library has a Bingo card for teens/adults.

So, I had to read a book written before I was born. J kept telling me to read the first chapter and it'll grab you - and he's right.

Basically, a Triffid is a carnivorous plant that can walk and extremely deadly to humans. The stingers can be removed, thus rendering them fairly harmless for a couple of years.

One night, there was a comet trail that the whole world was able to see. Anyone who watched the comet became blind the next day - thus plunging the world into total chaos.

It's a terrific read. Much better than any of the movie adaptations.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Television - Damages

I saw the premier of Damages, which is a new series on FX.


It's really good story telling. I won't give away any spoilers, but the end of the first episode is terrific with the imagery of Glen Close looking like the evil step mother in Snow White.

Really great show.

FO-Small Rabbit with Sweater

Pattern: Small Rabbit with Sweater from Debbie Bliss' Toy Knits

Yarn: Cascade 220 wool - Cream and Pink
Needles: US 2 & US10
For: This will be going to one of the Barista's at my local Starbucks - She had a little girl on Monday. I'm a regular at my local Starbucks. Every Saturday morning, I go with my friend and we knit and gab. It's a great Saturday ritual.
Thoughts on pattern: It's knitted flat - which I honestly don't understand. It would be easy to convert the pattern to be knitted in the round which would save you LOADS of time with sewing. I also am not a fan of all the bits being sewn to the bunny. It's too easy for them to be pulled off. This is also not a kid friendly toy. But it's still darn cute.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reviewed: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling

I got caught up in Harry mania this weekend and finished the seventh and final book.

I won't post spoilers here, so don't worry.

I really enjoyed this book. Rowling did a good job wrapping up the series and bringing in some of the lose ends she so tantalizingly dangled in front of us over the past 10 years.

M just didn't understand how both her parents could be so enthralled with a huge book. I ended up reading the last 9 pages to her. To her credit, she stayed interested the whole time - which is something that doesn't happen much when I read her a chapter book with no pictures.

I was a happy Harry fan at the end of this book. I didn't cry, like I did with the sixth book, but I did get sad a couple of times.

Great ending!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FO-Sleepy Snake & Mischievous Mouse

This was so fast to knit. What a great pattern!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mischievous Mouse

My Mischievous Mouse was a tad too large, so I have to cast on tonight to finish one up that will easily fit into the Sleepy Snake.

Reviewed: "Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports" by James Patterson

First off, this is a Young Adult Fiction book. Yeah. I read utter trash.

This book read very much like the previous two books. Essentially, the mutant kids escape from some secret mad scientist lab. They fly around. Get caught by Erasers. Get put back into the lab, soon to be eliminated. Then they escape.

That's really the story for all three books.

Once again I gave the author some leeway thinking that they'd actually do something with the plot. I was wrong.

Don't waste your time. I wish I hadn't.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Nephew turning 4

Since my nephew is turning 4 and I've been going through toy withdrawal (I really like knitting toys), I decided to cast on for this cute guy. The great thing is, I was able to use stash yarn to knit him up.

Pattern: Sleepy Snake and the Mischievious Mouse from Mochimochiland by Anna Hrachovec.
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted wool (jaded dreams and lemon drop)
Needles: Sz 6 circulars
Dates: July 12-July 15
For: My Neph who will turn 4 at the end of the month
Mods: Used worsted weight instead of DK. Won't felt it. I'm on the fence regarding whether or not I'm going to knit the toupee.
Thoughts: LOVE it. I think my nephew will be thrilled.

Here's the Mischievous Mouse in progress:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Reviewed: "Imago" by Octavia Butler

The third and final book in Ms. Butler's series.

This one focuses on another child of Lilith's. This time, the child is neither male or female, but a genderless ooloi. An ooloi can manipulate genetic material and is necessary for the Oankali and humans to have construct children. Each child has four parents - human and Oankali mother and fathers.

Lilith's child becomes ooloi somewhat accidentally and it sends the Oankali into much debate. The consensus was to not allow construct ooloi for many generations as the aliens wanted the new species to stabilize. Any accidental ooloi would be required to return to the ship to be watched carefully and mated with ship Oankali and humans who opted to stay on the ship.

But the construct ooloi doesn't want to go to the ship as the Earth is it's home. The ooloi runs away from the family in order to spend it's last days on Earth before being taken to the ship. As luck would have it, the ooloi stumbles on two people - a male and a female - who are horribly disfigured. They are also both fertile.

Turns out one person, named The Mother, survived on Earth while the Oankali were saving the humans species. She was raped and became pregnant from it. A group of resistors took her in and then used the opportunity to try to re-populate the earth with fertile people. The only problem is The Mother had some type of latent genetic disorder that ended up being passed down to generations of her children. The couple the ooloi stumbles upon are brother and sister, who are also running away and seeing as much of the Earth, prior to having to return home to essentially become baby making factories.

Good book. I enjoyed reading all three in the trilogy. Butler does a good job of setting up apocalyptic worlds and showing how humans survive the unsurvivable.

Reviewed: "Adulthood Rites" by Octavia Butler

This is the second in her "Lilith's Brood" trilogy and it's the story of one of Lilith's construct children - the first male child born from a human mother (all the other male children were born with the alien mothers - long story). The construct children have always looked alien and strange to humans, which only strengthens the resistors resolve to rebel against forced sterilization.

The male construct looks so human that he's actually kidnapped by resistors and is raised for a period of time with resistors. This contact with the resistors allows the male construct to understand the human need to have human children and he's able to convince the aliens to allow humans to colonize Mars - but have human fertility restored.

The aliens do not wish to do this as they feel humans have an inherent flaw: hierarchical society, which in the end, will ultimately end in failure like it did on Earth.

But they allow colonization and many resistors immigrate.

Interesting, but this book was the most violent of the three.

Reviewed: "Dawn" by Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler is a black female sci-fi writer. I've read a couple of her other books and this trilogy was recommended to me by several people.

Of all the trilogies, I think I like this first one the best. It's a story of how the human race was saved from nuclear annihilation by aliens and what happens after that. It's also the story of Lilith, who ends up becoming an icon for the human who sold the human race out to aliens.

She was the first human woken to assimilate other humans to go back down to the rebuilt earth. The catch is that humans have been genetically altered and can't have children unless they have them with the aliens. Of course some humans rebel, and become "resistors". Humans life span has also been lengthened dramatically by the aliens and a life span of over 150 years is not uncommon.

I really identified strongly with Lilith and felt like she was put in an impossible position, but made do with it as well as she could.

Good summer reading!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fire Chertoff

Did I really see the head of Homeland Security get up and launch the nation into a panic over a FREAKIN' GUT FEELING????

(For the record, I'm not panicking)

Okay. I know I demand a higher level of proof than most, but COME ON. Gut feeling????

So, now he's being ridiculed over his poor choice of words. I know he has access to some pretty impressive intelligence, but couldn't he have said that the terrorist activity seems high.

And isn't the purpose of terrorism to try to scare people? Isn't that exactly what Chertoff did today?

So, Mr. President, when are you going to ask this man for his resignation? I just don't find loyalty to the members of his administration to be all that laudable. I wish he had that same sense of loyalty to the American people. As it stands, his loyalty to these people just comes off as arrogance.

Sign I'm Getting Old?

J & I did the mental math and determined that we've known each other half our lives.

For someone who bumped around as much as I did as a kid, to have a friend that long is a real achievement.

Thanks for being a good friend, J. You are the best.

The other sign is my recent love of watching CSPAN whenever a controversial person testifies to Congress. I've seen all the main players in this judicial mess and I have to say, for me, it's better than any soap opera I can think of.

I have a small CSPAN crush. I love it when I can go through the archives and see testimonies for myself instead of having it fed to me in sound bites.

Let's face it. Old people watch CSPAN.

It really reminds me of a discussion I had years ago with my uncle regarding fiction versus non-fiction. He's a HUGE fan of non-fiction literature and, at that time, told me the virtues of reading it.

"What I like about reading non-fiction is that I am constantly amazed at the stories these books contain and find it fascinating that they really happened," said my uncle (or paraphrased).

The older I've become, I have to understand his stand. I've read lots of non-fiction since then, but in order to draw me in, the writing has to be done well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

MS#3 Clue 2 is finished

It's not perfect, but it's still impressive. I can see all the blemishes, but other's can't. As my friend C says, "if they can see the errors then they're looking at it too closely!"

It's too bad that the camera doesn't pick up the knitted beads. It really makes the stole pretty.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Laura's Fair-Isle Halter


Laura just send me a photo of their completed baby halter! Very cool.

Here's her attempt:


If you ever knit some one's pattern, it's always nice to send a link or a photo. There's nothing like getting feedback from folks who have knit your patterns.

Reviewed: "Kushiel's Justice" by Jacqueline Carey

I started reading this series quite some time ago - I bought the first one when it was published in paper back. This is the fifth book in the series and, while not as epic as the others, I liked this story, too.

In fact, the past two stories just haven't had the excitement as the previous three books. But they're still good. The story moves along quite nicely, although I found myself skimming lots of pages when they were just traveling to where they need to go.

This book also had more sex in it than any others. Normally I frown on writing porn (because it's just too easy to do and does nothing in terms of forwarding the plot), but I feel the sex in this story was really needed to explain how certain character dynamics changed. The sex made the transformation believable.

There as a minimal amount of supernatural stuff in this one, too. It's funny. I actually like my fantasy at a bare minimum. Carey's novels does this fairly well. There are no magical beings that will pop out and automatically fix a problem. Her characters really struggle.

I didn't like the overt Christianity/Jewish theme to this book, though. It was just a little too much for the story and made the story drag in places.

All in all, the third trilogy isn't as good as the first, but Carey is still doing a great job with her storytelling and I look forward to her sixth installment in this series.

Friday, July 06, 2007

FO-So Fuzzy Sock Trims

M forced her way into the photo!

Pattern: So Fuzzy Sock Trims from May 2006 Creative Knitting
Yarn: Who knows - something laying around my stash.

Creative juices are starting to flow

J sent me this link today. Those crafty Japanese have a MP3 player that can be inserted into darn near anything.

So, what can I knit where I can insert one of these neat things?


J is the review editor for and I will occasionally be pressed into service.

They are running a contest where you can win a copy of The Daemon (It's one of my recommended reading books!)

Go here and get your haiku engines running!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

MS#3 Clue #1 done

Darn it! You can sort of see where I dropped a stitch - it's on the right side just under the first "ram horn". I also dropped a stitch on the upper left side of the stole - it looks really wonky.

The second clue is out and it's not very long. I think I'm going to try to rip this back and fix it. I just won't be happy with this until I do. I was worried a little at how open my shawl looks. Now I'm not as it's really lacy looking!

More CSM Woes

I tried using a TV tray as a stand. It just wasn't working as it was terribly top heavy. After reading similar posts in the Sock Machines Yahoo! group, I decided to take their advice. Here's a photo of how J & I cut the stool. It works great!

I've been struggling with having the needles grab the yarn. It seems like I was just doing it wrong - and I've tried everything! I was so fortunate in that a local woman (Mary Berry) who has LOTS of experience with CSM machines came over today to help me start using my machine.

Well, she was not able to get any work started on my machine, either. The problem was with the way the needles were working. They are not raising. They just go down. This is a problem because the yarn needs to raise up high enough to clear the latches - so we started taking the machine apart in an effort to find out why the needles weren't raising.

The cams are installed correctly. When we put the cylinder back, there was a significant gap located between the cylinder and the crank ring. See the gap between the cylinder and the cam cylinder? I'd say it's about a 1/4 inch high. This gap happens with both cylinders I received from my ebay auction (60 & 72 needle cylinders)

Mary thinks that this may be the reason why the needles aren't behaving right.

Here's a side photo of the bottom of the cylinder with the cam cylinder.
Here're the same items from the top.

Since Mary is more of a Legare person, she has recommended that I try to get together with another local person who has an Auto Knitter.

Well, shoot.

I'm dissappointed that I couldn't get the machine working, but I'm relieved that this was a real problem with the machine - not the operator! :)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Freedom

I've gone back and really pruned this post back. Sorry folks!

Note to self: Never blog under the influence!

A couple of days before the 4th we visited a local fireworks shop.

"What's that great smell!" swooned my 5 year old daughter.

"That's the smell of black powder, sweetie," answered my husband while looking pointedly towards me.

"That's my girl," I crowed proudly!

You see, I am a Pyro.


I used to belong to the Pyrotechnic Guild International and have helped out on a couple of commercial fireworks shows. I would make my own fireworks but J has forbidden me from buying the chemicals as he has grown attached to all 10 of my fingers.

We get home and set off some of the fireworks we bought. Her favorite ones were the small fountains. I will never forget the look on my child's face when the first one was lit - sheer terror (M is afraid of loud noises - has been since she was a baby). When she established that it wasn't loud, the look changed from terror to joy.

"Do it again! Do it again!" she says while jumping up and down.

The next fountain was more fun than the first. She scrunched up her shoulders in anticipation. When the sparks started to fly, she jumped up and down again.

That's my girl!

Flash to the Fourth of July. A group of us have schlepped our lawn chairs out to the local park for a grand view of the local fireworks show. It was a lovely evening as it's perhaps the first time it had not rained in WEEKS! The temperature was in the upper 70's and we had to spay mosquito spray several times as those little buggers were very aggressive.

M was a little scared that the fireworks were going to be loud since we were sitting closer to them this year. They weren't overly loud, so she absolutely enjoyed the show.

"Hooray, Fireworks," yelled my 5 year old while watching this year's fireworks and jumping up and down in tremendous joy. She was wearing a ballet leotard (with sparkles), white tights, and a tutu that was silver with a red, white, and blue theme. She was ready for the Fourth of July!

Happy Forth of July!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Fun Meme

Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday month and day only. Then post three events, two births and one holiday that occurred on your birthday.

3 Events:

  1. 1943 - US President Franklin D. Roosevelt closes down the Works Progress Administration, because of the high levels of wartime employment in the United States.
    (I am a mild fan of WPA architecture.)
  2. 1959 - A monkey returns to Earth safely, after being launched 55 miles high into outer space by the United States space program.
    (Monkeys in space!)
  3. 2006 - Adult giant squid was finally caught on video by Kubodera near the Ogasawara Islands, 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo.
    (This just smacks of old 50's sci-fi movies)

2 Births

  1. 1949 - Jeff Bridges, American actor (The Dude!!!!)
  2. 1966 - Fred Armisen, American actor and musician (I honestly don't know who he is)

1 Holiday

Roman festivals - secret ceremonies in honor of Bona Dea

Monday, July 02, 2007

Failed invaders cozy

Originally uploaded by civilgrrl
I used the fair-isle charts from the Knitty BMP socks to knit up this felted cozy.

Just say no to felted fair-isle. The cozy looked great before I felted it!


This was supposed to be J's. He doesn't want a felted one, now!

Knit Picks Coffee Cozy

Originally uploaded by civilgrrl
Every Saturday I run to Weight Watchers, Starbucks, and then Curves. There's a couple who goes to WW & SB and we've become "Hi-ya" friends - you know the kind.

A couple of Saturday's ago, they gave me a pound of SB coffee - she works for SB and was getting ready to lose her allotment of coffee and wanted to know if I wanted it.

I said thank you and got a pound of the House Blend.

So, as a thank you to them, I've knitted some coffee cozies. This one is from the Knit Picks site. A second one I'll blog separately about.

Not happy with the Chain Reaction

I ended up forgetting to knit the top of a chain for the Chain Reaction Top, so I had to rip it back to knit it up.

As luck would have it, it relaxed the garment enough so I could see how large it was going to be.

It's going to be huge. I also don't like how the pattern isn't showing up well with the variegated yarn color.

I know I won't like it once it's done. Darn it! Another project headed for the frog pond.


Originally uploaded by civilgrrl
I've done a silly thing and cast on for Mystery Stole #3. I had some Skacel Merino Wool lace and some beads left over from a failed project.

Here's the result after 60 rows (I have another 40 to go to finish up Clue #1)