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Archive for the ‘real life’ Category

In my last post, teased you with photos of the BC17 and a kitten “helping” me make a new doublet for the BC17 to wear at this year’s Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. To sum up, he needed it to be red, and he chose the gold lining fabric from my stash.

Here’s how it turned out, in a boring “hanging-on-a-door” shot:

Pardon the creases. They came out in the wash.

Pardon the creases. They came out in the wash.

And here’s posed picture of the boy wearing it, with some of his accessories.

Beware the uncoiled serpent - er, hose - at your feet, Red Undant!

Beware the uncoiled serpent – er, garden hose – at your feet, dread pirate Red Undant!

You may note a lack of boots, for example. In truth, he could wear this in warm weather with some sort of rope sandals, but it was far too cool during this year’s faire for that. He also had various bits and bobs that hung from his belt, and a black wool overcoat, but I didn’t get a photo of that. The Hubs did, and I’m hoping to get a shot of that (soon?) to share with you.

The BC17 and some other friends formed a comedy pirate crew, the Pirates of Impropriety, and charmed the patrons and spectators at the faire. They were so popular that they’ve been solicited about appearing at other faires in the area this spring! It was so fun to watch my son throwing himself into his character, Red Undant, and having fun with his friends. His theatrical bent? Let’s just say he comes by it honestly.

The medieval faire was held on the last weekend in January and the first weekend in February. I was lucky to be able to take off from work entirely around those weekends. I have hundreds of hours of leave accumulated, as I rarely take vacation, so it was a real pleasure to have the chance to rest for so many days. (I’ve completely swapped my sleep schedule over to accommodate my change to dayshift, a change that would have been much more difficult without the time off.)

Sadly, I got sick on Wednesday evening and am now struggling with a nasty case of the crud. Nasty enough that I had to call in sick today (which would have been my first day back after my vacation), but not nasty enough to require actual medical intervention (so far… knock on wood). I’m planning to work tomorrow and Sunday (my regular work days), provided I can sleep tonight. (Wish me luck, please? Thanks.)

So the faire itself? It was a blast! My singing comedy wench troupe, Just Desserts, was once again hired to perform, and our shows were packed. We performed 3 times a day each Saturday and Sunday, and we acted as street characters when not on stage. In addition, I emceed both Saturdays’ and Sundays’ end of day Closing Pub Sings, which are among my favorite things ever!

This year, we wenches were extra excited, because we also released our first ever album!*

That’s right, an album!

It’s called Just Desserts Live: Come Get Yours and it’s available on Bandcamp right now, soon to be available on iTunes, amazon.com, and other distributors.

Here’s what the front cover of the album (which is available only as a mp3 download) looks like:

I swear I did not actually bite Molly! Cupcake is just a tease. Promise!

I swear I did not actually bite Molly! Cupcake is just a tease. Promise!

And here’s what the back cover looks like:

Much more dignified here.

Much more dignified here.

If you want to hear any or all of the songs, you can click on the bandcamp link. There you can listen to each of the songs, in their entirety, without obligation. **

We’re currently running a push for FB page “likes” and have pledged to give away a free copy of our album when we reach 350 likes. As of 10 p.m. this very Friday night, we’re at 335. I’d love for you to like us and perhaps win a copy. This is the second giveaway we’ve run, and we plan to hold more in the near future.

Of course, you are always welcome to purchase the album, so you can get yours without delay.

* OK, so you’ve probably figured out that the mysterious and exciting “thing” I was doing (and hinting about) was recording this album. It took two live performances, plus a studio session for the bonus selections, to get the sound quality we wanted.

We also had a photo session with Allen Finley Photography, wherein many photos were taken to get the two on our cover art. He also took solo photos of us, which we may use for future endeavors.

Finally, some more of my off-work time was taken up in designing and creating the cover art for the album. In my old life as a magazine editor, I did a little layout and design, and it was pretty cool to have the chance to flex those muscles (unused for 8 years!) again. And I am, I must confess, quite pleased with the results.

That’s all for now, kittens. I must dose myself up with anti-crud meds and attempt to sleep, as 5:30 a.m. comes too damned early. G’nite!

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Ok, so Spring Baby Cardi pics, plus hat and booties…

Ready?

Let’s go.

I'm calling it the Spring Baby Cardi. This is the yoke.

I’m calling it the Spring Baby Cardi. This is the yoke. (Sept. 27th)

You may remember that photo from the last post.

Here’s a shot of the sweater after I got about an inch below the armholes:

Love seeing the sleeve stitches on holders!

Love seeing the sleeve stitches on holders! (Oct. 4th)

A day later, I’d finished the body of the sweater…

It's beginning to look a lot like a cardi! (Oct. 5th)

It’s beginning to look a lot like a cardi! (Oct. 5th)

Then there was a sleeve:

Look at those decreases on the underside of the sleeve... lovely!

Look at those decreases on the underside of the sleeve… lovely!

What?! You can’t tell what’s what? Clearly, the sleeve is on the right side of the photo, with the skirt of the sweater on the left side. The hole is under the arm, and is one of the only two seams in the sweater.

Still can’t see it?

OK, fine.

Here’s a photo from a more prosaic perspective, taken after the underarm seam had been stitched up.

Oh, that looks more normal!

Oh, that looks more normal!

And finally, the FO shot:

Pretty purple buttons on a pretty sweater. (Nov. 4th)

Pretty purple buttons on a pretty sweater. (Nov. 4th)

A few weeks later, I made a hat, using the Twisted Pumpkin pattern from Charmed Knits by Alison Hanson. My only modification: I didn’t knit the stem part off the hat.

Feisty (the cat) is pressed into service as a photo backdrop.

Feisty (the cat) is pressed into service as a photo backdrop. (Nov 16th)

To make the sleeve striping patterns on cardi match better, I tampered with the skein. By pulling it out until I reached a suitable starting point in the dye pattern, I was able to make the sleeves look similar. And I set aside the extra yarn, knowing I’d use it for the booties.

And when it came time to make the booties, I made sure to match up the remaining yarn to have both booties starting at about the same place in the dye pattern.

And here’s how that turned out:

Such sweet little booties! (Nov. 26th)

Such sweet little booties! (Nov. 26th)

And, finally finally, here’s a shot of the whole ensemble:

A pretty set for a pretty baby girl. (Nov. 26th)

A pretty set for a pretty baby girl. (Nov. 26th)

When all was knit and finished, I had only a few yards of yarn left. (Whew!)

The baby for whom these were knit is named Eleanor, a fine old-fashioned name. Her dad tells me the booties fit now, and he thinks the hat will fit very soon. As for the sweater, it’s sized to fit at about 6 months (I think), although I’m hoping her dad (Thomas!) will put it all on her – and take photos – sooner.  That way, I can have the photos to coo over share with you all here.

As for how I spent last weekend, I was with my sister wenches, recording our first album!!

More on that later. I’ve got to get to bed, as I have to work in the a.m. (Yep, I made the shift to dayshift last week!!)

G’nite, kittens!

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I hope you are all enjoying your Thursday, whether or not you celebrate July 4th. For those of us who do, it’s a day that’s larger than life, with an idealistic focus on patriotism, often viewed through a filter of nostalgia for things that might or might not have ever existed.

My own view of this country has lost its soft focus, as I see how large sections of our society – once purported to be the model of freedom in the world – are embracing blind corporatism and racism and sexism and nationalism and extremism. I’m dismayed and confounded when I see how many people support the very -isms that will enable their destruction… and that of their children and grandchildren.

Examples of the ideals that I wish our country actually stood for – freedom, fraternity, prosperity for all – are depressingly difficult to find. When I find them, I embrace them and share them with my friends and loved ones, to give us all hope. And while this has led to accusations that I am relentlessly cheerful, it’s not because of the path I see our country accelerating down. It’s because I choose to be happy despite it all and because I reject fear as a basis for my life.

My granddaughter (a,k.a. la petite princesse) is one of the sources of happiness and hop in my life. This was two weeks ago, and she's almost 3 1/2 years old.

My granddaughter (a,k.a. la petite princesse) is one of the sources of happiness and hope in my life. This was two weeks ago; she’s almost 3 1/2 years old.

Look, I’m a working-class, white, college-educated middle-aged woman who is living paycheck to paycheck in a job that hasn’t raised its base pay in more than 6 years. I am the sole support for my family of three, driving a POS van (because I don’t want to work yet more OT to be able to afford a car payment) and hoping a major illness or injury doesn’t keep me home from work (because I can’t afford to drop down to the base-pay rate of my accumulated sick leave while I recuperate).

I know I’m lucky in so many ways and my life could be so much worse, and my heart breaks for those who truly have it worse. If I were living in a developing country, if I were not white, if I had no education, if I and my children were younger, if I were not employed or if my job didn’t have sick-leave benefits, I’d be in much more dire straits. After all, my problems are first-world problems, and a great many people would trade places with me in less than a heartbeat.

That said, I want so much more for my country, for my family, for humankind.

I want us to embrace one another as equal human beings.

I want us to look out for one another, to really care about one another.

I want us to be healthy and fed and educated and employed.

I want us to have enough physical and societal security that we can turn our energies to enriching our minds and spirits.

I want us to be a nation of thinkers and artists and loving souls.

And I want us all to want these things for the entire world, so that the whole of humanity can leave behind fear and hatred.

So happy July 4th, everyone. And thanks for joining me in my yearning for the ideal, no matter where you live.

As for me, I’m headed to sleep, then tonight I’ll work a little of the aforementioned OT and hope that the 911 lines don’t have reasons to light up like the fireworks some of you will be watching.

Good night, kittens!

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Kitts and mitts

Or, more accurately, kittens and fingerless mitts.

Last Monday, Mogwai*, the littlest and most loving of the two neighborhoods who adopted our family several months ago decided to move on in and, in a delightful show of how much she trusts us, to have her first litter of kittens in a cat bed in our dining room.

Here’s a photo from Friday morning:

There are four babies in this picture... promise!

There are four babies in this picture… promise!

The gray baby’s head is hidden in the pile. You can see his/her back at the 9 o’clock position in the picture. I’d enlarge the picture more, but the focus would be worse. I didn’t want to flash the poor little things too closely or often, so I only took two photos… and this is the best of those.

Luckily for everyone, our older cats have accepted the new cats’ presence with amazing aplomb and have not made Mogwai feel threatened or unwelcome. Whew!

On the knitting front, I finished a pair of fingerless mitts for a dear friend whose favorite color is green. I can’t show you the photo of the pattern on the backs of the mitts yet, as I don’t want to spoil the surprise when I give them to this dear friend, but I can show you these:

After one day of knitting...

After one day of knitting…

And here’s a photo of the palm side of the finished mitts:

Palms, thumbs, cuffs... oh my!

Palms, thumbs, cuffs… oh my!

I reset the photo size on my new camera (!) before I took the FO pictures, so the resulting pictures are, um, small. I think I’ll have to reset it again and take new (i.e., larger) photos of the backs of the mitts, so you can see the pattern details better.

Sorry for the tease, but it’s a necessity… at least for a few days.

Hope your Sunday (Easter!) is filled with love, music and laughter. Mine will be filled with sleep and mucus, as I am heading to bed now (worked last night and again tonight) and I have the crud. Ah, well, c’est la vie. I get sick so rarely that I can hardly complain about it now… but I want to. Oh, goddess of snot, how I want to!

Oh, and WordPress has reminded me that I hit my 6-year blogiversary last week. Woo-hoo! Yay, me!

* Mogwai from, of course, the movie Gremlins. And, yes, we fed her after midnight… but we didn’t get her wet.

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Stuck

Hi, again. It’s been a month (I know!) since my last post, which is weird for me. I don’t think I’ve gone a month between posts since I started this blog a million years ago. OK, so it’s been slightly fewer than 6 years, but the point still stands.

So what happened to me? I dunno exactly, but I couldn’t seem to move forward. No matter how much I berated myself and gave myself rah-rah pep talks, I just could not seem to find my groove.

In short, I was stuck.

It happened something like this: I finished knitting the pink ruffled baby cardi by the end of 2012, but needed buttons. And none of the buttons I found would do. They were too big, not big enough, too pink, not pink enough, too boring, etc., etc. I went out a couple of times to a couple of retail places, scouting their pathetic wares. I was growing so ticked at the button makers, distributors and sellers of the world, because I couldn’t find anything really right.

Finally, at Michael’s (yes, Michael’s) I found a set of sparkly jewel-tones buttons, shaped like little flowers, that I thought just might work. That was 3 weeks or so ago.

Did I sew the buttons on then? No. No, I did not.

You see, I’d decided to stitch a strip of ribbon along the back of the button band, to reinforce it and to support and keep the buttons from pulling it out of shape when the sweater was worn. I had just the perfect ribbon, too! Remember the ribbon I bought for the drawstring on the pink eyelet chemise? I have yards of it left over and it would be just right for this purpose, too. And I needed to hand-sew that strip (about 7 inches long, total) to the back of the buttonband first.

Did I sew the ribbon on when I finally had buttons that pleased me?

No. No, I did not.

I dunno why not, but for some reason, I was loathe to tackle this most basic of tasks. I mean, we’re not talking rocket science here, folks. It was just… beyond me. (This makes even less sense when you consider that I’d been carrying the sweater and the ribbon around with me everywhere. Every.where.)

Finally, this past Monday, I sat down with the buttons and the ribbon (and, yes, the sweater) and I sewed the strip of ribbon in place. It took less than an hour to do it right, which did mean restitching the first 3 inches to correct some wonkiness in the ribbon-to-buttonband tension, but still. Less than an hour. (sigh)

I grabbed the buttons and was all set to sew them on when I discovered… they are craft buttons. Yep, craft buttons: meant for scrapbooking. Not garment buttons. These lovely craft buttons had no shanks, no holes at all to allow for a true button functionality.

AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

I had to work Monday and Tuesday nights, so my first chance to look for suitable buttons that actually are buttons? Wednesday morning. (Yes, this past Wednesday.)

At my first stop: nothing.

My second stop was Joanne’s, where I found the best ones so far. In fact, I was going to buy and use them, but there were only 4 on a card… and the pattern calls for 5.* The very kind saleslady went in the back storeroom and searched their most recent shipments, but there were no more of these particular buttons to be found.

AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

I left the store in an overtired funk.

My options had narrowed to two: a branch of the Evil Empire I’d not been to yet, or my LYS.

And my LYS wasn’t open yet, so Wally World prevailed by default. (Bear in mind that this was the 3rd of that franchise I’d been to in my small city, and I wasn’t feeling very optimistic. After all, the other two had had nothing.)

To my relief and surprise, I found something usable. Not perfect, but usable.

So, I settled.

The reason? I’d come to the conclusion that I would not be able to start another knitting project – ever – while this damned cardi was unfinished. It had become my albatross (no, I don’t really know much about albatross lore, but I know it’s not a good thing… unless I’m wrong, in which case the unfinished sweater was my… um… tar baby and I was the… um… Ahem. Let’s just go with “albatross,” shall we? Thanks. I mean it.)

With buttons in hand (finally), I could move on.

And last night, I did it.

Not perfect, but done.

Not perfect, but done.

I’m not really crazy about it. The mom wanted a hot pink and white color scheme, which is fine, but there’s something about the collar shape that I don’t like at all. I wish I’d taken the time to do the math and figure out how to do a ruffle treatment there, as I don’t think the pointy style (as above) is right for this sweater, but I didn’t.

And that may be the reason I was stuck.

I didn’t want to finish a sweater that I wasn’t thrilled with.

Ah, well, it’s not for me to wear and, frankly, the baby for whom I made it may have already outgrown it by the time her mom tries to put it on her. She turned into quite the adorable chubby little thing, as I will show you when/if her mom takes pictures of her wearing the cardi.

Oh, and look what happened shortly after sunrise this morning:

For layering under that cardi.

For layering under that cardi.

I think a little ribby tank top will be a good addition. If the cardi is too small to button comfortably, the baby can wear this soon-to-be pink tank top that will match perfectly and have a bit more flexibility. I think the cardi will be more flattering, softer-looking, when it hangs open, and the tank will be usable into the summer.

I anticipate finishing the tank in the next couple of days, as it’s small and fast to knit.

And our Florida weather has been fickle, with nights getting down into the  40s… and possibly 30s this weekend… so I need to get it done before it’s too darned hot to subject a baby to its, um, charms.

OK, off to bed with me. Work tonight… and Saturday and Sunday… (sigh)

Have a wonderful Friday, kittens!

And for the record,** it’s great to be unstuck. Absolutely great!

* For reasons that refuse to present themselves, I had it in my mind that the pattern required 6 buttons, so I was frantically looking for six-of-a-kind, perfect buttons. In fact, I didn’t realize only 5 were needed until I was sewing them on this morning. (sigh)

** Speaking of records, this is my 500th blog post.*** Weird!

*** I’ve also written 431 “pages” (i.e., FOs, Books Read, etc.) on this site. Also weird!

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Today is kids’ day at the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, when we start a half hour early and end 3 hours early. (Not a bad tradeoff, I must say.) Kids’ day is exactly what you might expect: crowded with minors. Some schools from surrounding counties send buses of students, calling it an educational field trip, I suppose, so we close shortly after they all return to their buses.

There are plenty of adults, too, as the entry fare on kids’ day is half that of the other days, and one of the ale/beer stands usually opens, but the overall underaged nature of the crowd means that my singing wench troupe, Just Desserts, will not be doing any stage shows. Don’t get me wrong, the kids love bawdiness, but some of them are highly hormonal, man-sized, teenaged boys with self-control issues. We wouldn’t want to stir those pots, now would we? No. No, we would not.

I could go into a feminist rant about how it’s not our job to control men’s baser impulses, no matter the ages of the men, but time is short and I needs must run now.

Later, kittens!

 

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Au revoir, 2012!

It’s the last day of the year, but never fear! I will not be doing a retrospective of 2012 knitting**, etc.

In fact, my primary reason for posting today is simply to wish you all the very best in 2013.

Have a safe New Year’s Eve, whether you’re celebrating or hunkering down. As for me, I shall be at work, sending help to those who need it and thanking goodness I have the skills and will to help them in large ways and small.

** A final knitting update: The pink ruffled-edge baby cardigan is all done, except for buttons. And as I am bedward bound in a few minutes, with no suitable buttons in the house and no time for a trip to buy them, the sweater will not be my final FO for 2012. Perhaps it will be the first of 2013?

Then again, perhaps not.

In fact, last night I started the aqua Knotty But Nice hat for the BC16’s female friend. I completed the bottom band and 16 of the 29 rows of the cabled section. Once I finish that part, only 15 rounds (decreasing to the crown) will remain. There is a good chance I’ll finish that before the aforementioned baby cardi, simply because I can knit it without any further accessories. If that proves true, then this hat could be FO #1 for 2013.

Care to place bets? Things to keep in mind: I will be at work tonight and Tuesday night, for 12 hours a night, and the supervisor and/or workload may not allow for much knitting.

Chat at you next year, kittens. (Corny, but true!)

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