Sunday, October 29, 2006

Yay for Jackets!

You might remember around this time last year, when I was lamenting my lack of a non-fugly jacket. Seriously, I've got only the one, and it's been with me since the mid-nineties. Added to that amount of fug, all the rigors and trauma of being worn for nigh on 15 years by someone who, shall we say, does not treat her clothings gently. In short, I have one jacket, and it makes me look like a hobo (this is not to offend actual homeless people, to whom said jacket will soon be donated).

So a few months back, I order the Madeline jacket pattern from White Lies Designs. It's good looking, but I had no bulky yarn with which to knit it, and the back, quite frankly, is ugly. So, I stashed it, and promptly forgot it existed.

Enter present day. One of my co-workers asked if I'd knit him a pair of knee-high tabi socks (the ones with the split between the big toe and the rest). I restrained my laughter, and quoted him an honest price. He then suggested a craft exchange, since he sews. What luck! For the price of two pairs of Opal grey sock yarn, I'll be getting a nice, wool coat! And since I am the Queen of Thrift (when I want to be), I found good wool for only $8 a yard, in a lovely charcoal grey. This brings our materials prices to a rough equilibrium at $30-40 per person, isn't that wonderful? Plus I've recently learned how to knit both socks at once on DPNs, so I can avoid the dreaded kneehigh version of second sock syndrome.

Of course, there are complications. For example, while ordering yarn for Lady Eleanor (which I still intent to make one day, when I can figure out how to make the back not look all ugly), I picked up a bunch of olive and rose yarn. Well, as it turns out, it's not maybe the best for Lady E, but will work perfectly as the madeline jacket! Of course, the back as written for the madeline jacket is still fugly, so Zimmerman to the rescue! EZ's Knitter's Almanac recently came into our library (yes, the book ordering has been going well), so I subbed out fugly-back for EZ's pretty lace Pi Shawl. So far I've used one ball of yarn and the shawl/jacket is 22" across. It's half the diameter it needs to be before I add in the sleeves, but I have no idea what that means percentage-wise.

So, I did pick up a little new yarn. I know, I know! Hartur's Challenge. But the yarn, it was for a craft exchange! My friend who does the skeletal jewelry is making me a set of snake-spine bracelets (really quite lovely, I'll have to post pictures) in exchange for a scarf, and she wanted a black scarf, and I didn't have any black yarn, so you see I had to buy some. What's that? The skein of spice-orange alpaca I bought with it?

Well, I didn't want it to be lonely on the ride home, that's all. Besides, I could use a hat myself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Early Voting

Wow, a whole week? I am behind, aren't I? Things have been happening, be assured. Emma is off the needles (and on the neck, it's finally getting cold in texas!) and I'm starting to work on Frost Flowers again.

In other news, it's early voting time here in Aggieland, and I'd rig me up a blue layout if I wasn't so pleased with the current one. There are good people running for the Dems in Texas right now, which is handy, since I promised myself I'd vote my uterus on this one. Here's a handy lineup:

Senatorial race:

Barbara Ann Radnofsky supports Roe v. Wade, raising minimum wage, AND wants there to at least be a freaking plan for getting out of Iraq.

House race:

Well... Chet Edwards voted for parental notification, but he voted against abortion bans. That's not great, but it's better than Van Taylor, who's strictly anti-birth control anti-choice anti-substantive-sex-education (i.e. abstinence only, condoms cause AIDS/breast cancer, and vaccinating girls against HPV will make them sluts). So, Dems win again. Edwards has a 50% positive rating with the ACLU, and even that's impressive these days. Ah, Texas. The official State of Lowered Expectations.

Gubernatorial race:

I have to admit, I want to vote Kinky. Not only because, well, it's Kinky Friedman, but because he's actually got a pretty good platform going. Give teachers money. Give kids health care. Get Texas some sustainable energy already. I still don't know his stance on reproductive rights, though, so I'll be looking into that before I decide.

I plan to look more at the other races an whatnot today after work. Updates to come.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Happy Sheep Body Balm

Well, in the end it came down to only a few main ingredients needed. They are:

Oil (olive, sweet almond, or oil of your choice)

Pretty much what I'd wanted in a recipe, right? For all the batches, I heat all the ingredients but the water until the beeswax is melted, removed from heat, added the water and stirred the everloving bejeesus out of it until it was completely cool. It ends up a gold-y whitish color, with the more solid batches a deeper gold. Here's how it threw down:

Batch I:

1/3 cup sweet almond/olive oil (ran out of almond oil)
1 tbs beeswax
1/3 cup rosewater

Result I:

This is a nearly buttercream color, very liquid lotion. Very liquid. A little goes a long way, it sinks into skin well and leaves no residue (unless you use too much, which you do the first time because you have no way of knowing). Feels so watery that you think you need more than you do, but it is lying. Subtle but definite rose scent, not overpowering or cloying at all. Personally, my favorite.

Batch II:

2 tbsp beeswax
2 tbsp lanolin
1/2 cup olive oil
3-ish tbsp rosewater

Result II:

Slightly darker color, more of a firmer, "body butter" consistancy. Lightly greasy feel, leaves light residue consistant with commercial body lotions. Is it the lanolin, or the extra oil? So far, seems best for TwinSister. Smells less strongly of rosewaterbut still pleasant.

Batch III (originally an attempt to replicate Batch II):

2 tbs beeswax
1.5 tbsp cocoa butter
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup olive/peanut oil (ran out of olive)
2 tbsp rosewater

Confound: Before you start this, go and make sure you have enough oil. Seriously. I started adding the cocoa butter and coconut & peanut oils in a desperate attempt to not make a 2 oz jar of solid wax.

Result III:

Between the two in color, actually a little browner. I'm thinking now the color may be due more to my choice of oils (or the inclusion of the cocoa butter, even though it was white). I'll definitely be sticking with the sweet almond or olive from now on, I think. This one smells faintest of all, and in consistancy is between Batches I and II, more like a commercial lotion instead of a butter. I think I like the consistancy of Batch II the best, and the smell of Batch I. Ah well. That's what future batches are for, right? I'm thinking next time, 2-3 tbsp of the wax, 4 of the rosewater, 2 tbsp lanolin, and 1/2 cup sweet almond oil. I expect to do that one tomorrow, after rat lab. Maybe I'll swing by work with Batches I and II to show my boss - I am, after all, a praise-powered organism.

Birthday for TwinSister

Well, I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to give Emma to my sister for her birthday, but I do know I'm making her (and me!) some nice skin lotions, which may or may not go well with Emma. If I give her up. Which I don't want to. But I might.

So, I spent much of today looking at recipes online for various hand/body/face lotions/creams/butters/bars, and most of the ingredients were the same as what I was using for lip balm (which is nice). The only things I don't seem to have are vitamin E (which I may or may not include in my own lotion, since it tends to destroy henna stains and I want my lotions to be henna-friendly), aloe gel and/or juice (seriously,
aloe juice? aloe juice?), glycerine (meh), and borax. Now, I don't know much about chemistry, but isn't borax.... not so good for you? Doesn't enough of it kill you? Well, enough of anything will likely kill you, but you know what I mean. So I may not use the borax. Here are the ingredients I currently have:

Olive oil
Sweet almond oil
Coconut oil
Cocoa butter
Orange-vanilla FO (somewhere)
Tea Tree EO
Lavender EO (somewhere)
Sandalwood-almond EO (somewhere)
Vanilla, Almond, Peppermint extracts

So, I think I've got a good base here for lotion making. I know I definitely want to include the beeswax, lanolin, honey, and probably rosewater. I figure I can call it "happy sheep balm" or something silly like that, and tie one of the sheepie stitch
markers to the lid. I think she'd like it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


So, with the end of Emma in sight and FF&L not yet back into the groove, I've begun to get some serious startitis. Organizing the stash both helps and not helps with this, as I'm really pleased to see all my yarns sorted by weight all nice and neat, but it also reminds me that I've got some good stuff that deserves to be used. I think I feel this pull most strongly with the laceweights because a lone ball or two is enough for a large project. It's must easier to pick up a 1300 yard ball of gossamer and say, "What, of all this sea of possibility, will this ball become?" than to grab a 200 yard ball of worsted and say, "So... hat? Maybe a scarf, or a pair of socks?" It just seems more limiting somehow, and while I know that my best work comes when I'm somehow limited, the inspiration needs a serious kick-start. All of this, plus the fact that I like to keep projects relatively uniform in texture, so no mixing and matching between the slubby-nubby Peace Fleece and the smooth, workhorse worsted.

At any rate, the Lust List has been calling to me. I went through it more thoroughly, and realized that the picture of the poinsettiashawl? it really sucks. In fact, ALL pictures of the poinsettia shawl I'd seen so far really sucked. So I set out on a mission, to find a picture of the damn shawl that showed it in actual use by a person, not the same ho-hum promotion pick that seems to be everywhere.

And I did.
And I read up on it.
And I hate it.

Seriously, let me clue you in here if you haven't looked over this shawl yourself. You're supposed to do four squares, sew them all together into one big square, then make strips of edging, then sew that onto the big square. What the fuck? Do the words regular increases mean nothing here? FF&L is a center-out shawl, and there's no reason Poinsettia couldn't also be.

So, in summary, while I work on finishing FF&L, I'll also be designing my own jury-rigged center-out poinsettia-inspired-but-not-all-stupid shawl. And you know what? I'm using the lavender. So there.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Do Not Open...

... to avoid confusion and all the troubles, asshown."

Thus read the badly translated (yay engrish!) instructions for one of the airsoft rifles brought along for this weekend. Sure enough, the owner of said rifle then had to open the gun itself, unleashing a barrage of springs and mystery components. "Oh no!" said K-the-knitter. "All the troubles!"

All the troubles aside, it was a great 4-day weekend. Mr. Hasturdrove us up to Nixon, where one of our buddies owns some cows and land (this IS Texas, after all), and we gamed and shot each other with plastic bb's, and K. made delicious food for 14 people multiple times a day (and worked entirely too hard on it, must do something nice for her).

Not wanting to spoil the weekend with the finishing of the SBT, I worked frenzied on it the day before we left, and was able to drop it off at the yarn shop in plenty of time. It's done! It's finished! I never have to work on it again! So now I just have Emma and good old Frost Flowers to work on. I brought FF along with me, with the chart, and hooboy. It's been a while. I think I need to string a lifeline through the live stitches, until I get back in the habit.

During the trip, Hastur called up and told me that since it would be Mr. Hastur's birthday on that sunday, to stop by their place on the way home so there could be surprise cake and celebrations. It was very easy to get him to agree to this little detour, and when we got there it turned out Hastur had told him to get me there for the same reason, as by birthday is on the 19th! Yes, I am easily duped, but the cake was delicious and Hastur gave me one of the most thoughtful gifts I think I've ever received. She stitched and framed the "Rat Bastard" design from Subversive Cross-stitch for me! It's glorious. We took pictures of the cake (48 candles, half for me, half for Mr. Hastur), the stitching, and the stitching with the rat :) Go check out her blog for photos!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sheepie Sheepie Sheepies!

Whew, what a couple of days! I've blatantly stolen the ideas of others, and made a slew (a dozen is a slew, right?) of sheepie stitch markers out of polymer clay. With the few questions that had to be thrown out due to grammatical confusion, I made a 100 on my last psych test. I've set up an interview for a new job (honestly, I love the library, but woman cannot live on minimum wage alone), which should help out considerably in the ability to buy grocieries department. Our internet's been consistantly down for days, and tonight there was a city-wide power outage that lasted a good couple of hours. Candles, talk of gaming, and socializing with good friends filled out the evening nicely. The SBT has only the neckband left to finish (which I'll do during class tomorrow and drop off at my LYS), and I couldn't be happier to see it go. As it turns out, I'm not terribly skilled at horizontal armbands, I picked up the requisite 3:4 stitches and it still feels too inelastic to me. Maybe some people like them that way? At any rate, I'm intent on finishing it before I leave for Happy Fun Time this weekend. And have I mentioned my perfect 100 on my psych test? My five-chapter-spanning infant developmental psychology test? Where the professor not only has given me permission to knit in class, but remembers my name and test scores without having to consult her notes? I love psychology so hard.

The Emma scarf continues along well. 9 pattern repeats is looking like the right size for her, and I'm almost done with he 5th. My tendonitis is back (seems to flare up whenever I work on the SBT - could I be allergic to bobbles?) and I'm alternating between babying it and knitting like a fiend. I keep working on Emma and thinking, TwinSister sure would love this. This would match the hat I gave her for christmas last year. She really appreciates handmade gifts, and our birthday IS coming up. Damnit. I know I have enough to make another Emma - seriously, there's a lot of sweater left to work with, plus one that's cashmere and another that's angora/lambswool instead of angora/nylon, so it's not like I couldn't make myself another one. But damnit, I want Emma to be mine, I've worked so hard on her already. My gifting impulses always seem to kick in right as I'm finishing something. Maybe I could make her an Emma out of the cashmere sweater - it's a light cafe au lait, it would really suit her coloration. I know I said I'll only knit lace for me, but if you can't knit lace for your twin, who can you knit for?

Oh, and on the request of Mr. Hastur, here's some more of my scribblings. I think I'll try and put up one a week.