Friday, October 31, 2008

Why this isn't a cooking blog

I've always liked the PieKnits blog because Jennifer occasionally intersperses yummy-sounding recipes with hunger-inducing pictures. That's not me though. I like to cook in the sense that I enjoy making a meal for myself, but not the whole following (or modifying) a recipe shtick.

No fancy Halloween treats here. I bought that lovely pre-made cookie dough - the break (apart) and bake kind - in chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin to make for a potluck. Despite the fact that the cookies are identical little cubes of dough with identical instructions, the O.R. (on the right in the picture) turned out radically different than the C.C.

But my housemate "loves burnt cookies" and gobbled them right up!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Retro Femme in better light

Hello again. I'm afraid this is just a quick note to let you know that there are improved pictures up on Flickr of my FO - the Retro Femme top from Sensual Crochet.

For instance:

I also wanted to narrow down what I said last time about how I wouldn't add the extra rows to the top. My reason is that the stitch used on the upper portion really opens up when you block/wear it. Obviously where you want more or less fabric is going to depend on your body, but for me, more on the lower portion - the shells - would have been better than on the top.

That said, the more I wore it that night and when I took these shots, the more I like it, and the compliments have all been flattering. Now if the temps would fall out of the 90s here, I could wear it!

If you poke around Flickr, you'll also get a little preview of some other things I've been working on, including WIP shots of the shawl/poncho. I may very well run out of yarn before it gets long enough to circle my wide shoulders, so it may end up being a "variation" on the pattern. :) We'll have to see! It's gotten too big to bring in my bag with my books most class days, so today I'm carrying yarn for coasters - great bus stop projects.

Have a good week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Weekend Wonder #14 - Retro Femme

The Retro Femme top? What's that you say? I thought it was in the "maybe frog" pile and now it's an FO and Weekend Wonder?

Indeed my friends, it's true. The Retro Femme top from Sensual Crochet was on my frownie list because it turned out snugger than I expected once I closed the front (is worked top-down), but I decided to let it sit and see if it fit better if I lost some weight by the end of the year. We recently had a cold snap here in Tucson and I had my husband send me some winter clothes, including this WIP. I tried it on again - being ten pounds lighter than I was when I finished in May/June-ish. Lo and behold, it fits much better. It's still more snug than intended, but I decided to cut the yarn, weave in the ends, and wear it anyway.

First, the pics! (There are stitch detail and rear shots on Flickr.)

Lesson #1 - Swatch all stitches and/or try on more often. I wasn't aware that this was too snug until I reached the bottom because I didn't try it on again after doing the empire waist. I could have backed up a couple rows and added a few stitches to a top round if I'd realized sooner.
Lesson #2 - If you're doing this pattern and you are a tall woman like me and you're concerned about the uppermost section being too short, don't be. If you're bustier than me, maybe it'll be a problem, but I added two rows to the top and wish I hadn't. It would look more balanced - more like the book's pretty pictures! :) - if I hadn't.

This is done with Bernat's alpaca blend, which I enjoyed working. I wore it dancing - just like you see here - last week and it was really well received.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

If you win the lottery, sponsor an MFA student!

Sorry for the recent radio silence. It's been a busy-busy week for me. My workshop class had an extra meeting this week to make up for a previously canceled class, so I had double reading. I also had an essay due - one I really struggled with. This is the first day I've just been able to relax.

Add to all that a couple major financial snafus and you have my current state of mind. I knew - certainly - that going back to grad school would not be cheap, especially since we are operating two separate households. But when we made this decision in the spring, we expected the house to sell within six months. We didn't expect the collapse of the market, etc. It's been more than six months and we haven't even had someone come look in almost three months, despite dropping the price. Setting aside all of the other lovely costs of living, my husband and I are paying about $4000 a month for housing, which, as you can imagine, causes savings and loan moneys to evaporate. My mother said something encouraging to me, which is that things will hopefully turn around after the election, so we're thinking we'll give it another month and then drop the house price again.

So, what time I might spend composing blog posts, even just mentally, has been diverted to drafting essays and query letters to agents, editors, publishers - anyone who pays for words. I'm sending out two commercial pieces as well as a contest entry and half a dozen query letters about my novel in the next couple days. Think positive thoughts.

I'm crafting in the spare moments as I wait for the bus or for class to start. I'm about 65-70% done with the shawl, and I hope to finish it up in time to wear it to a friend's gig Sunday night. I just recently finished (for reals) the Retro Femme - post scheduled for Saturday! - and I'll try to take better pictures of the Retro Femme and the shawl when it's done. And then, I'll be picking up the Inspired-by-the-Five-O'clock-Tank-Dress-Tank again! I'm also hoping to get the supplies I need next week to crochet a bathroom rug for our house. It's getting to be that time of year.

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Warning: Not at all a craft related post!

Yesterday was a cold day here in Tucson - meaning it was 43 when I woke up yesterday. Add to that the fact that my roommate and I hadn't turned the heater on, I had no blanket on my bed, and our hot water heater appears to have died, I was stiff and grumpy all day. I also have only two long sleeve shirts here, and both are lightweight, which wasn't enough for walking the dog in 40-degree weather.

Fortunately, my housemate is kind and took me on an eleventh hour trip to Target where I acquired a new blanket, shown here in cell-phone pictures because I was in a hurry to share. (Morning light above, artificial light below.) It's funny what buying something like this can do to change your mood and your space.

I've been enjoying having my own room in a way. More than nine years of marriage have meant nine years with no space of my own. Plus, despite what he says about it being cute, I know Mr. Man never would have chosen this blanket!

Unfortunately? Still no hot water. Think encouraging thoughts for our landlord.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend Wonder #13 - Bag in My Bag

Bag in My Bag
Originally uploaded by notensionknits
After 5 p.m. on a Friday is the weekend, right?

I made this little bag because I just switched to a different school bag. It's larger than the one I was using before, which had become a must, but it doesn't have as many pockets. So, I used the last of this neat Landscape yarn to make a little bag for my emergency supplies, i.e. Tylenol, Tums, Aleve, a couple band-aids, a granola bar, eye drops, and a travel-sized deodorant! It fits in my bag neatly though I didn't have enough yarn to make the flap or tie as long as I would have liked.

The basic construction comes from the Tube Bag design in Uncommon Crochet. I love that book and recommend it highly. The "paper bag" style bottom is much neater than just crocheting a rectangle base. The stitch is linked doubles in the round - I used linked because I didn't want to have to felt it but I did want a tight fabric.

More pictures on Flickr.

And please, post comments or send emails about my blood donation question a couple posts ago! I'm curious still about why people do or don't donate.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Weekend Wonder #12 - Number Nine Beanie

Number Nine Beanie
Originally uploaded by notensionknits
My most recent FO and a Weekend Wonder to boot!

I started with the instructions for the beanie in Teach Yourself Crochet and the blue yarn left over from my Swedish flag. I love this color - and it's a soft acrylic wool blend.

I say "started with" because the FO is substantially varied from that pattern - basically everything except the top (which is just a disc) is different. I worked the crown differently and worked the sides in pike stitch (ESC, ch - subsequent rows' ESC go in the ch space). I think it turned out really well - there's a picture of me wearing it on Flickr - but it won't be cold enough here to need it until... January maybe?

Let me know if you might like a pattern for this. It's been a while since I wrote one and this was an easy cap - a good beginner project, too. I'm going to tweak the next one I make a bit to tuck in the brim for snugness...

Oh, I almost forgot! It's named for the busline I crocheted it on! I'm the girl crocheting on the #9 in Tucson - currently on a shawl I'll hopefully share soon.

Next time? An FO called "Bag in my bag" :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why do (or don't) you give blood?

Hello again all.

First, I'd just like to say I'm sorry for the paucity of craft related updates. I do have a couple things to show, but I keep forgetting to download the pictures from my camera in time to catch the bus. I've also got a WIP that is being frogged for the third time so I'm a little grumpy about that. :) It's the strapless top from Sensual Crochet. Let me say that I love the pattern - it's easy and fun and pretty - but it is never going to be flattering on me! I've done the bodice three times, once straight from the pattern and twice with modifications, and it's just not me. I'd encourage anyone out there to try it as a fairly simple "first crochet top", especially with the instructions for spaghetti straps, but I'm re-purposing the yarn to make the odd-V poncho from Teach Yourself Crochet. ;)

On to the real topic of today's post. On Monday I donated blood, and they asked me a question* that I'd never been asked before. During the record/paperwork portion of the process, the nurse came right out and asked me, hands poised over the keyboard to type,
"Why are you giving blood today?"

It seemed like a really strange question to me. If you ran a charity, would you just come right out and ask, check in hand, "and why are you giving to charity today?" If the question had been differently phrased, maybe "Was there a reason for your blood donation that you'd like us to know about?", it might not have confused me so much. But "why are you doing this?", like it was the kind of thing that needed a reason, befuddled me.

So, I started informally polling my friends, two who were equally baffled but can't donate because of the travel restrictions and one who is deathly afraid of needles. I've got a really good reason to donate, but I'll explain more about that next time. I was hoping you all might tell me, why do you donate, or if you don't, why not? Shoot me an email or just comment below!

* There was actually another new question on the private part of the Q&A: "Have you been in juvenile detention, lockdown, jail, or prison for more than 72 hours?" That was the only question I hesitated on not because I've been in any of those places but because my brain immediately asked back, "why on earth do you need to know that?"