Thursday, June 28, 2007

M's friend

M is in Kindercare this summer and is really enjoying it. I've noticed that since turning 5, each of the kids take turns and makes a drawing for each other.

Yesterday she came home with this:

It's her new outfit I just made for her! It's a pretty darn good drawing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Supreme Court recent ruling

I keep seeing blurbs about the kid who lost the “Bong Hits for Jesus” case.

But the more disturbing case that was released on the same day was the FFRF case.

They were trying to sue the Executive Branch because of the Branch’s emphasis on giving away public money to churches.

While on the surface it seems like a church/state separation issue, the real issue is that SCOTUS basically said that taxpayers HAVE NO STANDING when it comes to challenging the Executive Branch.

This is really chilling to me.
Basically the Executive Branch is endorsing religion when they give (taxpayer) money to these programs.
But, since the first amendment says that CONGRESS shall make no laws establishing religion, it's okay for the Executive Branch to do it?
Come on.
But the most disturbing thing to me is that it sets a precedent that no taxpayer can take the Executive Branch to court. It essentially grants any Presidential Administration carte-blanche - and that bothers me a great deal. Especially with *this* Administration. It just seems that they're so sneaky. Everything is legal, but it's seems like they get away with it because of technicalities.
sigh.

Senator Luger

I know there are snippets of Senator Luger's speech yesterday running around the Internet, but you really owe it to yourself to listen to his whole speech. It's around 43 minutes long and can be found on CSPAN's website here: (click on Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) Senate Floor Speech on the Iraq War - you may have to search in the archives for it).

The gist of what he says is that we need to fight a better diplomatic war. He's right. That would, in the long term, stabilize the area and get more countries to participate in helping us stabilize the area.

While the Iraqi war is a mess the United States has created, it is up to us to fix it - and we can't do that alone.

Well said, Senator Luger. Well said!

More sewing

I have fond memories of being taken to the local fabric store by my mom, browsing through untold pattern books, and picking out dresses I'd like to wear.

So I did the same with M the other day. This was the pattern she picked - namely the animal print outfit.
I couldn't find animal print in a heavy enough fabric, so I flipped the solid/print around. Here's a photo of the final skirt - I put three iron on butterflies on the skirt.

Here's the finished outfit - before M tried it on (She was sleeping).
Of course, the pose:
It's a little big on her now, but that kid grows SO fast, I don't think it'll be a problem. She kept going into her bedroom closet to look at herself. I think she likes it. She came up to me with a very serious look on her face and said, "Mom, you are the heart of my heart. Thank you so much for my new outfit."
Aww.



Mary in my closet door

I subscribe to the fact that humans are pattern seeking animals.

That said, here's a photo of my closet door at home. *I* see the Madonna. DH doesn't.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blanky done


Yarn: KnitPicks Shine Worsted, Green Apple & Berrocco Hush in Paddy Wack
Pattern: Pinwheel Baby Blanket

So here is my baby gift to Allison and her husband. They've chosen to not know the sex of their baby, so I hope this is a good color choice.



The Uh-Oh's felted. It took three rounds in the washer to get these buggers felted.

Monday, June 25, 2007

SiCKO

J and I were able to watch a preview of the latest Michael Moore movie, SiCKO.

I liked it and I also feel that MM went so overboard that he diluted his message. Specifically when he took 9/11 emergency workers over to Cuba for medical care. Did it have to be a communist country? I wish he had gone over to a democratic country.

Here's my soap box. J & I pay an average of 12% of our annual salary for insurance premiums. That does not include any co-pays or deductibles. Looking back at last year, we actually hit over 16% of our salary went to cover medical costs - AND WE'RE HEALTHY!!! We've just had a bad run between two hospital stays and a broken elbow over the past year and a half.

We're getting ready to change over to really crappy catastrophic insurance with a Health Savings Account (HSA). This will bring our insurance premiums down to 5.4% of our annual salary, but we'll have a $5,000 deductible on each one of us - even with that, we're still going to be money ahead. I just worry that we're not going to go in for some of the preventative stuff that we have been doing.

While watching the movie, it was just heart breaking seeing how our system bankrupts families.

I support free market. I really do. The most interesting thing I see done in the UK is that they're coinage to their doctors is based on performance - they get extra money when they get a patient to quit smoking, lose weight, etc. While it's not a traditional free market, it is market based.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL????

I've often said that health insurance will kill small business in America. I also feel that it is going to ultimately put the average American worker on unequal footing with other nations who DO provide Universal Health care.

I have heard the arguments that the Canadian and UK systems give inferior service and that not all options are available to you. But why don't we allow supplemental insurance programs where if the government won't perform a procedure, you still have control and can get it done.

Grrr.

We've got to do something about this. My insurance rates have tripled since I've been self employed for the past 8 years. My rates increase 12% every year - no kidding - and my insurance agents tell me that it doesn't look like the trend will stop.

My fear, however, is that SiCKO's message will be diluted because of the connection to communism - which is exactly what scares conservatives away from Universal Health care.

What a wasted opportunity.

Reviewed: "Grave Surprise" by Charlaine Harris

This is the second book in Ms. Harris' Connelly Harper series. I have to admit that I'm not as wild about Harper as I am about Sookie. I just don't see the possibilities for story development with this character.

Harper finds dead people psychically. She got the ability after she survived a direct lightning strike when she was a teenager.

So, you bring in Harper and she finds or doesn't find dead bodies.

Oh, and she also can determine how that person died.

For an old crime thriller fan (I've go in spurts with genre's) it just seems so easy.

Cop: "We found a body. Let's get forensics to tell us how they died."
Harper: "Well, this person died by X, Y, Z."
Forensics: "Wow, she's right!"

Harper is always suspected by the local police of the actual crime because she knows way too much of the details. The grieving family is freaked out by her "power".

The reason why I DO like reading this series is because Ms. Harris does a good job of drawing from her mystery writing days to keep the story interesting. Harper knows how the kid dies, but can't tell you who - and that's really the focus of the story line. Not the how, but the who and why.

This book introduced a real psychic who is a real character. But it's the psychic's grandson who proves to be even more interesting. I know we'll see more of him in future books.

The book was a fast read - most of Ms. Harris' stuff is. I'll have my local library order the next in this series which is due out at the end of September.

Oh. And I've wondered what would happen if Harper came across a vampire. Right now, the Sookie world and the Harper world aren't related; but I'd still like to see if Harper would react differently to the un-dead.

Friday, June 22, 2007

M's new dress

When my grandmother died, it seemed like there was a rush to get her stuff. I wanted just three things: the first cast iron skillet she bought with my grandfather, a really cheesy picture of a lady with a bowl of cherries, and her sewing machine.

My sewing machine has been a great buy - I got it at the local Pawn Shop. When I took a sewing class at a local community college, all the ladies there had bought brand new machines. My instructor said that she LOVED my machine and she had many in her shop (she was a professional seamstress).

But it's had it's problems over the years and I found that I just didn't use it that much.
Grandma's machine is in a sewing table and is very handy to have around. I finally moved the machine downstairs to an area where I know I'll use it.

I took M to Joann's the other day so she can pick out a pattern so I could sew an outfit for her. While we were there, I found a quick to sew fabric. I made this dress last night. M sat right next to me the whole time watching the process. This is her "Brats" pose.

I have no idea what type of pose this is. Where does she get this?
Just being goofy:

WIP's - some are hibernating

In an effort to show all the stuff I'm working on, here are some of my projects I've cast on and haven't been public with.

Here's my baby pinwheel blanket. It's measuring 24-inches in diameter. I still think this is too small and wonder how big to make it. I love knitting on it. Great mindless knitting and it looks dramatic, too! This is the beginning of a MDK Modern Baby Log Cabin Blanket. I am using Oh My! yarn and it feels so soft.
Here's the infamous Garterlac bathmat. It hurts my hands to knit on it for any length of time.
Fish afghan from the Bits and Bob's yahoo! group. I'm experimenting with trying to limit the amount of sewing that's required.
The back of the fish - see the seams?
After I knitted the neapolitan fish, I decided to see if I could reverse the pattern. I could.Once the green fish was finished, I just kept knitting another fish according to the pattern.


I'm still not happy with all the sewing that would be required if I knitted it in strips. I'll try to figure out how to knit this as an Intarsia project. It's a great way to use up my cotton scraps.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Uh-oh'd my Uh-oh's

Bleh. The first ring knit up SO quickly. The second ring, which I knitted from memory, took a little longer to knit.

Now I know why: My memory isn't so good.


The other thing I should have done was to knit/sew the arms/legs before I sewed and stuffed the rings. Now I just can't pick up stitches to knit these suckers up.

So, I'm gonna call these done after I felt them.

Crud. They are really cute.

I just found out one of the nurses at my allergist's office is due in September with a little girl. Hey, I can cast on and make some girly uh-oh's!

M at the Zeum March 2007

Just call her Shecky M! M thinks she's far more funny than what she really is. This was fun to do.

M dancing at a green-screen

M at the Zeum. She picked her outfit, the music, and the background. This isn't all that interesting. She stands and looks around for the most part. Towards the end she starts becoming animated.

The Butterfly That Could Not Fly

This is M's claymation movie that we made together from our trip to San Francisco in March. This was made at the Zeum.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Spider update

Since my recent (and still on-going) spider bite incident, we decided that we may have a problem with spiders in the house.

J researched it and we confirmed it with our exterminator. There's no way to spray for spiders. You have to trap them.

So J bought a ton of these little glue traps and we've put them down on the bottom floor where we live (my office is up stairs).

Here's what I found this morning in two traps that are in my bedroom:
That's three BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS!!!

The exterminator said that there's a bit of an epidemic of spiders this year because it's been so darn wet. The little buggers have retreated into our home.

Granted, we live in a very wooded area, but we haven't seen this many spiders in the three years we've lived here.

FWIW, I still not suffer from arachnophobia. Brown recluses will bite only when they feel threatened. Getting squished in my pants (I always love saying that) qualifies for feeling threatened.

This is a photo of a brown recluse up close. Sorry about the fuzziness of the photo. I never can see the fiddle everyone talks about. What helps me to identify them is how their butts are a little pointy


So, for you folks who live in the North Texas area; get some insect traps.

I've found three brown recluses in my daughter's room. Do it. I got bit about a month ago and my wound is still healing and my skin is peeling away like I got a bad sun burn.

Oh, and I also wanted to mention that the best foot cream is some stuff I bought at a local Linen's n Things or Bed Bath & Beyond (I can't tell the difference between the two). I also mention those two places 'cause they send out those terrific 20% off coupons that never really expire.

It's called Miracle Foot Repair cream and it's by a company called Miracle of Aloe. It's the thickest stuff and honestly was the only cream that relieved my feet when my skin was peeling.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coffee!

My coffee maker died last week.

It was THE BEST COFFEE MAKER EVER!!!

Let me explain. I love coffee. I wouldn't call myself a snob as I'll drink almost anything but my coffee maker must work properly.

I like percolated best. I guess the reason why I like percolated best stems from fond memories of sitting at my grandmothers kitchen table drinking and gabbing.

But I haven't had great luck with modern percolated pots! First, I bought the West Bend coffee maker. The spout started to leak (different materials - plastic spout, metal pot). Then I bought the DeLonghi coffee maker. The pot stopped percolating after one year of use.

Then, I bought the Hamilton Beach BrewStation. I loved this machine. The only problem is that the spout has worn out (I think the spring finally gave out). So I bought a new one. It's even better than the previous one!

If I owned a yarn manufacturing company. . .

I would sponsor patterns like crazy (and pay decent money to the designers for them). Just what kind of patterns?

Free ones.

Case in point: Look at Ravelry's top 20 popular designs. A majority of them are from Knitty (40%). The Mason-Dixon book is really the most popular book that I can see (with a whopping 10% of the top 20), and while they're taking the credit, the ball-band warshrag comes from the band of a yarn ball (read: it was a free pattern).

Another observation: the top stuff doesn't come from magazines (although, Interweave does have one pattern in the top 20)!

That's not to say you shouldn't charge for designs. I just think it would be in a yarn manufacturer's best interest if they started to commission designers to come up with patterns and post them for free. I know this happens on most manufacturers sites. I just think they need to start hiring some of the names we knitters all know instead of having anonymous pattern makers.

On the other hand, if I owned Knitty I'd start approaching the yarn manufacturers and show them what a powerhouse in knitting they've become. Magknits, too (the top spot in the top 20)!

I also feel that the Ravelry folks should start using the info they've collected to help pay their bills. I've noticed that they're starting to show the books/yarn links on certain patterns.

Now, I know the top 20 will change once Ravelry goes live. They only have 2,500 folks using the site right now, with a whopping 6,800 waiting to get their invites.

Monday, June 18, 2007

WIP bars

Before I moved my blogger over to the new blogger, my WIP bars worked great. . . but they broke. I had a work around, but was never happy with it.

So, through the magic that is Google, I found a great site that explains how to make good WIP bars.

http://www.licketyknit.com/progressbars.html

Be sure to look at the instructions for Blogger.

Like Crack!

I've found two very dangerous websites that are like crack to me:

http://www.ravelry.com (for knitting)
http://www.shelfari.com (for books)

My Daemon (Golden Compass)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Reviewed: "All Together Dead" by Charlain Harris

This is another book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Once again, Ms. Harris has demonstrated what a good story teller she is. I have to compare the series to Laurell K. Hamilton's series, as LKH really started the whole paranormal romance (shudder) genre. LKH's Anita Blake series has devolved to porn. CH's series, however, keeps moving forward and I just enjoy the heck out of her stuff.

Neat plot points from this book and general observations (you may want to stop reading here as I do talk about some spoilers):

Jason, her ne'r-do-well brother turned were-panther, is now married and Sookie had to vouch for him at the wedding. I see a big conflict in the future on this!

Quinn, the were-tiger, is a great boyfriend for Sookie. I'm curious as to where the relationship goes.

Bon Temps is getting to be a smaller and smaller town as our Sookie is becoming a little more worldly. Andre, the Louisiana vampire queen's hatchet man, makes Sookie swap blood with Eric for the third time. So now Eric can "turn" Sookie at any time he wants.

Barry, another telepath, finds that contact with Sookie strengthens their telepathic abilities. He gets a little freaked by how Sookie really doesn't like what the vamps have done to her and by knowing that Quinn killed Andre for making Sookie so beholden to Eric.

I liked how CH used the Katrina tragedy to show how much the area was devastated.

Well done, Ms. Harris. Well done!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Candle Flame Shawl

Since I've dabbled a bit with knitting lace by knitting up some of the Monthly Dishcloths, I've finally decided to cast on for Knit Picks Candle Flame Shawl.
This is after repeating the candle flame pattern for 3 times.

Frogging the Hex

Contrary to popular opinion in my SnB group, I did not feel good when I recently frogged my Hex.

I had both front panels done and a good portion of the back done, too. But, the panels didn't match up and I wasn't really happy with all the modifications I was making to the pattern.

So, it's frogged and I'm just sad. I did learn from my previous attempt at knitting this. I also liked the length I shortened it to.

My next attempt at this will be to knit all panels together at the same time. I like to knit with circular needles - even when I'm knitting flat. They're just a little more comfortable to me.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Television

It's been a while since I've talked about what I'm watching on the tube.

Stuff that's been cancelled:

Jericho
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I know there's a big write in campaign to try and save Jericho. Just don't know if it'll help.

Studio 60 was clever and it featured an atheist who was actually likable. I loved how the show showed how two people with very different world views could still love each other. (sigh)

I started watching Pirate Master. I like this show for one reason: the contestants win money along the way. It should prove interesting watching. I used to like Survivor, but just couldn't get interested in the Fuji island series. The Pirate Master thing has a nice twist. Why the crew doesn't mutiny is beyond me. The captain has around $45,000 - that's a nice chunk of change. Why not get rid of him. He's not sharing the wealth and he's not feeding the crew well, either.

USA's The Starter Wife has been heavily advertised/hyped. The premier and the second episode has aired and I have to admit that I really like this show. Sometimes it gets a little ridiculous (when the main character talks to herself or goes into fantasy mode).

Two more summer shows are getting ready to start up: The 4400 and The Closer. I thought The 4400 had pretty much run it's course, but if they can get a good story line going with Collier, it may still be interesting. I'm also looking forward to The Closer.

Traveler has been fun to watch. One of the problems these thriller type shows have is that they tend to be too slow in moving the plot. Hopefully this one won't suffer from that malady.

Damages on FX looks really, really good. Glenn Close's character looks positively badass.

On the silly scale, there's Flight of the Conchords. It's really a great, funny show and reminds me of a musical version of The Office. If you click on the above link, you can see the first episode. Well worth the effort. Oh, and I can be a part-time model.

Power of One/Ten

J sent me to this comic as he knew I'd get the joke:


It actually made me laugh out loud. Really.

Okay. I'm a geek.

For those of you who don't get the joke, it's a play on the Powers of Ten documentary.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

J's new game

J is trying something new with his games. He's releasing them to the ether and trying to get $ through ad revenue.

SO

Here's his latest game (You can turn on the music with the slider on the bottom):


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Free Pattern: Striped Baby Halter

Here's the striped halter pattern.

Materials: Worsted Weight Cotton (Sugar N Cream or Peaches N Crème -Each ball: 2.50 oz / 70 g, 120 yd / 109 m)

Pictured:
Yarn A: Peaches N Crème, Brown (1 ball)
Yarn B: Sugar N Cream, Hot Blue (1 ball)
Yarn C: Sugar N Cream, Hot Pink (1 ball)

Needles: Size 5 circular needles (16-inches long & 32-inch long)

Gage: 20 stitches per 4 inches (Row gage doesn’t really matter here)

Size: 3 months (6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months)

Final measurements:
Chest measurements: 16 (17, 18, 19, 20) inches
Body of halter (not including cups or ruffle): 6 (6.5, 7.5, 8, 8.5) inches

Abbreviations:
CO = Cast on
K = Knit
P = Purl
K2tog = Knit 2 stitches together
K3tog = Knit 3 stitches together
SSK = Knit 2 stitches together from the back
Kfb = Knit a stitch, leaving stitch on left needle; knit into the back loop of this stitch

Pattern:

Yarn A: CO 81 (86, 91, 96, 101) stitches and join to knit in the round.

Row 1: Knit 80 (85, 90, 95, 100) stitches.

Row 2: K2tog (the last stitch with the first stitch – you’ll have 80 (85, 90, 95, 100) stitches on the needle now). Knit remaining 79 (84, 89, 94, 99) stitches.

Row 3: Switch to Yarn B: Knit all stitches

Row 4: Knit all stitches

Row 5: Switch to Yarn C: Knit all stitches

Row 4: Knit all stitches

Repeat knitting 2 row stripes in pattern until the piece measures 6 (6.5, 7.5, 8, 8.5) inches

From here on out, you’ll use one color for the cups and ruffle. I used Yarn C in this pattern. If you end with a different color on top (like I did with the brown, make sure you knit one complete row of Yarn C before you start to do the decrease row.

Decrease row: (K3, K2tog) to the end. 64 (68, 72, 76, 80) stitches on needle.

Next row: Bind off 18 (19, 20, 21, 22) stitches. Knit 15 (17, 19, 21, 23) stitches.

Now you’re going to knit one of the triangle cups flat. You will still have 31 (34,) stitches live on the circular needles (don’t knit these, yet).

Turn work as you’re knitting this part flat:
Row 1 (WS): K2, P11, K2. 15 (17, 19, 21, 23) st
Row 2 (RS): K2, SSK, K7, K2tog, K2. 13 (15, 17, 19, 21) st
Row 3 (WS): K2, P9, K2. 13 (15, 17, 19, 21) st

Repeat rows 2 & 3 above 7 st remain

Top of cup:

Row 1: K2, K3tog, K2. 5 st rem
Row 2: K2, P1, K2. 5 st
Row 3: K1, K2tog, K2. 4 st
Row 4: K2tog, K2tog. 2 st

Now do a 2 stitch I-cord until it measures 15 (15, 15, 16, 16) inches. Bind off.

Next, pick up and knit on the back side of the knitted cup 2 (4, 6, 8, 10) stitches and continue to knit the live stitches off the circular needle for a total of 15 (17, 19, 21, 23) stitches. You will now have 18 (19, 20, 21, 22) stitches live on the circular needle (don’t knit these, yet)

Repeat instructions for the cup and do the I-cord.

Now, bind off the remaining 18 (19, 20, 21, 22) stitches from the circular needle.

Weave in ends.

Ruffle:

Next is the ruffle. Turn your work over so the bottom of the halter is on the top.

Row 1: With the right side towards you, pick up and knit (with the 32-inch circular needles) 80 (85, 90, 95, 100) stitches. Try to start picking up at the back seam. You may have to do a little magic looping here as the cord will be too long for the initial 80 (85, 90, 95, 100) stitches. You keep increasing the stitches to a total of 320 (340, 360, 380, 400), so it’s important to start with a longer needle.

Row 2: Kfb in all stitches. 160 (170, 180, 190, 200) st

Row 3 Knit all stitches.
Row 4: Knit all stitches.

Row 5: Kfb in all stitches. 320 (340, 360, 380, 400) st

Row 6: Knit all stitches

Bind off. Weave in ends.



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