Saturday, May 31, 2008

Henna OK!

Remember my freakout last post? Totally unfounded. As someone on the hennapage forums pointed out to me, "henna grows in the desert, is harvested in the desert, and sits is a warehouse in the desert until it gets to you. A few days in your mailbox won't hurt it."And right she was.

So I mixed up 100g of CCJ's Rajasthani henna, and let me tell you, it is NICE. I used only a pinch of sugar (it said I didn't have to use any, but I am nothing if not paranoid), and it is very stringy, but I think I'm going to go ahead and add a little more in anyways, to make it retain moisture a bit more. The unsealed paste, left on for maybe an hour or so, left a good B4 stain on the back of my hand (I drew a Murloc). I doodled on my palm as well, then almost immediately wiped it off because I had gone in without planning and the result, as happens, was not so great, but I'm getting about the same level of stain so I guess I'll have to live with that for a while.

In dog news, I'm starting to get a little concerned about Maggie. A few times now she's growled at Heed, once tonight, always around food, but while I know Heed doesn't really want to get to her food at all, I also don't want her to become food-aggressive at all, and don't really know what to do. So far we've yelled at her when she does it and sent her outside, where she can't do fun things like be pet and sit on the couch... but it does worry me. I've had Heed since the day he was born, so if it comes down to it, I know who we're keeping, but I'd really like them to be able to get along well enough to continue having them both.

Anyways, next weekend is my godson's 3rd birthday party, so even though I know I should be working on the Cuddlefish, I'm going to get started on a gift for him instead. No, he's not getting the Cuddlefish. Boy's too young to have a proper appreciation of cephalopods.

But he can get this really bitchin' humpback whale.

Monday, May 26, 2008


So, last week I ordered some henna. $40 of henna to be exact, which is not a small amount of henna. It got mailed on the 21st, and priority mail, and I kept eagerly checking the mailbox to see if the little flag was up, signifying that we had mail. A few days pass, no flag, so today I remember that I have henna coming in the mail and take a peek outside. No flag. With a sinking feeling in my gut, I walk out to the box and open it - there's the package, along with a week's worth of mail. The goddamn mailman didn't raise the flag. This shit is TEMPERATURE SENSITIVE, it's been sitting in my mailbox for DAYS, when it's been fucking NINETY DEGREES OUTSIDE. Son of a BITCH!!!

So, I put it in the freezer, and only time will tell, but I'm guessing I have about a pound of high-quality henna, that's been completely ruined because of our fucking incompetent mailman.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Variations on a Theme

So I've been working on the Cuddlefish's eyes, and it's been tricky.

First, I thought I would just, you know, do buttons or something. That looked like ass (so much so, that I didn't even sew them on, the ass was apparent from just holding the buttons to the unshaped head).

Then I thought, hey, what if I add in some short rows? Eh? Eh? Everybody loves short rows. So I sketched for a bit, got a W-shaped pupil going, made a chart, and got going on it. There were minor mistakes (such as knitting from the wrong end of the chart, and making M-shaped pupils instead), and I ended up redoing the knitting a total of 5 times, and the chart a total of 7.

So I start the 6th round of knitting using the 7th chart, and I'm following it, and it's going well, and then BAM. It hits me.

This eye? Is too shallow. It is an almond, and not a bulge. It's too symmetrical, and the W will be pointing to the butt-end of the mantle and not up to the sky, as actual cuttlefish eyes are oriented. Ergo, the sort-row eye has got to go.

So I started thinking, and I started sketching again, and I think I may have come up with something that will work. I'm going to be bringing back some of the color patterns from the mantle, but not in ways that you'll expect. It's going to work. It's going to be interesting.

It's going to be asymmetrical.

If you know me, you know that I have a really hard time with asymmetry. I'm not good at creating it, my gut naturally roils when I try, but dammit, this time I am going to do it. It's going to be awkward and counterintuitive the whole time, but as Dog is my witness* I will make this eye by monday!

* Seriously, Maggie. Time to step up.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

State of the Union

So, I looked back at myself and the blog today at lunch (which I am still on - yay one hour lunch!) and realized that I haven't been doing as much with the blog as I would have liked to - especially since the wedding, and since discovering Ravelry. I do wonder if the knitblog community has had a bit of a slowdown since Ravelry came out, and while I'm honestly not sure (I also discovered the magic of RSS feeds, so now I always seem flooded in entries, but have no way of knowing if that's more or less than I would have been reading before), I don't think it'd necessarily a bad thing. I mean, Ravelry? Is clearly awesome. Awesome as few things can be. It has completely revolutionized how I search for patterns, designers, errata, and of course it has forums aplenty for my chattier impulses.

So, no, I'm not dead. I've just been doing a good amount of my talking elsewhere.

I also realize that a lot of my entries for the past year have been either 'ZOMG WEDDING' or 'ZOMG MOVING', which is not terribly interesting to people who are not me.

So where are we now? Well, there's me. I still knit. I still design. I still buy patterns like it's going out of style. I know that I'm happier than I was when I started this blog, which is a big thing for me. I've had a lot of therapy, which I mentioned but not much or often. I have fewer depressive episodes, now that the wedding is over - I'm glad now that I'm not on medication, but I am perfectly aware it might have helped and not against it in general. I'm eternally grateful to the person who helped me work on my issues - you know who you are, though I don't think you read this - so that now I'm much more attuned to my own rhythms, when I need to be awake, when asleep, when around people, when alone, when I need to do what I don't want to do, because what I want to do will make me feel worse instead of better. I no longer use sleep as a way of avoiding my problems, or making time pass quickly so I can get to the other end of a depressive moment. I'm much more confident, both at work and in my personal life, and I take more pride in my abilities and accomplishments without constantly seeking external validation for them. All in all, I think I have improved as a person, as a knitter, and maybe started on the road to becoming An Adult. And all of that is good.

It's odd, though, that even with all that growth and change that I know I've done, I still just feel like me. Still a little flaky (though I like to think, less so), still a little goofy, still curious and stubborn as hell. I think the main difference between myself-now and myself-ten-years-ago is largely one of surety. I know who I am, I know what I will and will not put up with, and in general I'm a lot less confused. Feels good.

So all that said, I think I'm going to breathe some new life into this blog o' mine. I might gussy up the formatting a bit, I definitely plan to add more free pattern links (evidently this is one of the main reasons people come here, according to Hastur, and that's pretty cool - Yes it's external validation, but it's nice to be told people like your taste in clothes), and other cool things as I find them. There'll probably be a place on the sidebar for things to look/listen at during work. No videos, since those require entirely too much attention (in my experience) to be a good idea, but things like free audiobook reviews (and oh, I have many), more Things that Piss Me Off, and whatever else floats my boat.

Something else occurs to me now. It's been eight months since I started my own private protest against all forms of media that depict sexualized violence. No movies, no books, no TV shows (that's right, no more SVU!), nothing. I've been pairing it with a concentrated effort to find more women-created media, books and music mostly since I go to so few movies these days (two this year - Iron Man because it's awesome, Harold and Kumar because that's what Sweetie wanted to see for his birthday, and I plan of course to see Indiana Jones sometime soon as well), and it's been a lot of fun. I listen almost exclusively to women artists, not because of any grr mens bad sentiments, but because I've found so much now that I like. I have more positive role models for myself and any tiny knitters Mr Sweetie and I may ever have (though no time soon, I'm looking at an IUD), and I think it's really improved my quality of life. Yay me!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The To-Make List

So, I keep thinking of things I can make, and then either forget about them, or someone else has already made one so awesome, mine could only be a pale imitation. Ergo, I'm making a list of cool things to make, so I don't forget, and hoping I can make good ones.

Angler fish
Jewelled scarab
Fruit bat/flying fox
Diplocaulus - "hammerhead salamander"
Megamouth shark
Shovel-nosed lobster
Gulper eel
Oreo dory or sunfish
Giant isopod

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Anya now a PDF

My Anya Scarf is now available as a PDF, courtesy of Ravelry. Enjoy!

Friday, May 16, 2008

(Minor) Cuddlefish Disaster

So. The Cuddlefish. Adding the mantle ridge in was a complete success - he is full of ridge-y goodness. I was full of arrogance at my mad knitting skillz, yo.


So I began to do the same for the eye bulges - stick in some 0000's, snip snip, unravel.


Oh what's that you say? I wasn't supposed to cut THAT thread?


Well, what's the worst than can happen?


[hint - it's not this, but this is what I got]

So, I lost about a half-inch of knitting on the top of the cuddlefish, which requires losing the bottom tentacle, and dis-attaching the mouth, in order to fix. On the upside, I do still have the mouth, and now the eyes? Should be cake! Plus I can now rip them with impunity, if they don't turn out right the first time.

[will be putting in the pics for these after I go gets food]

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Catching Up

We went and saw Iron Man last Sunday, and let me go ahead and take a minute and say to those who have not gone to see it: GO SEE IRON MAN. Seriously, it was the most viscerally satisfying comic book movie I have ever seen. I don't want to spoil anything, but the casting choices were AMAZING, and be sure and stay after the credits. That is all.

In other news, we're almost completely moved in to the new place. Maggie has settled in, her and Heed are getting along reasonably well, and the kitchen is still awesome. So awesome, in fact, that both Mr Sweetie and I cooked the other night - he made a lemon-caraway-heffenweisen Beer Bread, and I made Hummus. It actually turned out as good as my dad's, so I was pretty pleased with it. I didn't measure things, but here's my best approximation of the recipe.

Spicy-Tangy Hummus

You need:
2 cans of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
Tahini (sesame seed paste, HEB has it in the international section, or go to your local Indian grocer and ask)
whole Cumin
whole Black pepper
Lemon juice
Minced garlic
Red pepper flakes
olive oil

You do:

Open the chickpeas, drain and rinse them. Mash these suckers up GOOD - or, if you want "chunky" hummus, not so much. I recommend a stick blender or a food processor, we don't have those, so I used a (washed) jar of jalapenos and a mixing bowl. Work with what you've got.

Add about a tablespoon each of the minced garlic and salt to taste **NOTE: I EVIDENTLY LIKE THINGS A LOT SALTIER THAN OTHER FOLKS, and did not in fact use a tablespoon of salt**, a half-cup of the Tahini, a quarter-cup of lemon juice, and a teaspoon each of the red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cumin. For better flavor dry-roast the (whole) cumin, and black and red peppers each in a skillet, then grind to a powder (coffee grinder: $10 at target/krogers/HEB). Do it separately, so you can add them each in different amounts, to suit your own tastes.

Mix all this together, and add a few splashes of olive oil if things seem dry. Too much oil isn't a giant problem, since it will separate out of the final product, and you can get at the rest of the hummus just fine.

At this point, your hummus may taste bland and uninviting. What to do? Well, what do you WANT to do? Do you want a humus with more tang? Add more lemon juice. Want nuttier? Add more tahini. Too dry? More olive oil. Want spicier? Try black pepper before red, to minimize the burn, or red first to emphasize it. Just "more flavor"? Add a little more salt or garlic. Eventually, I promise you, you will hit just the right flavor combination for you.

You eat:

It's basically a dip. Eat it on breads, tortillas, pitas, corn chips, whatever makes you happy. You can garnish it with parsley, pine nuts, whatever you like. Dig in!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Month of May - No Yarn, No Roving

So, I'm not buying any yarn or roving for the entire month of May. Some of this is prompted by financial reasons - moving is expensive as hell - and some by the sheer amount of yarn and roving that I have in my stash (which I have just moved, and so I know exactly how much that is now). Also, I want to know that this is something that I can do - I can resist buying luxury items, even if I want them a whole, whole lot.

On the upside, though? Come June, I'm going to have a rocking list of things to get. I'm going to celebrate with Ingeo, Milk-fiber, Seacell, and some longwool locks (to try something new in my spinning). And of course, the money I save on fiber is going partly into regular savings, and partly into savings for a Drum Carder (strauch petit, with brush attachment). Yes, it's a luxury item, and no, I don't need it to live. And come the end of summer, it will be mine.