29 May 2006

(Mostly) finished grading and an FO

Believe it or not, I actually made it through that awful term paper pile today. And then this evening I finished a knitting project. Hooray!

This shell is knitted in Artfibers' Fauve, which alternates between cotton/hemp and shiny nylon. I love the colors. The Artfibers people custom-made the pattern for me when I was at the store. I'm especially pleased because they had only 6 balls left in this color, and the computer said I would need 5 3/4 to make this shell...and the computer was right.

Oh, and to take this picture I used my new tripod for the first time. I haven't really figured out how to work it, but I did manage to get it to hold the camera still, at least.

28 May 2006

More Pincushions

I've completed a couple more pincushions. The one on the right is in memory of one of my favorite bands. The very first Ramones record I bought (yes, record, as in vinyl--this was back in high school) was Road to Ruin. One of the tracks on that record is, of course, "Needles and Pins."

The cushion on the left can be used for voodoo purposes. And because the idea came from Knatolee, it's also reversible:
I discovered a couple things while searching for suitable photos online for the Patriotic Voodoo pincushion. 1. There are many more pictures available of our Fearless Leader, I suppose in part because we've been graced with his presence for longer. 2. While Stephen Harper makes silly faces, and has been photographed at barbecues and wearing a regrettable western outfit, he lacks the Bush's unique ability to emulate a chimpanzee. And Bush smirks way better, too. 3. It's nearly impossible to find a full-length picture of these men. Perhaps they have no legs. Or maybe they just don't want us to see their tails....

27 May 2006

Yarn Nirvana

Today I temporarily abandoned hubby, children, pets, and term papers, and I went on that yarn shopping trip I was promised for my birthday back in March. In my absence, it looks like royalty visited:

but I don't mind missing the royalty because I was yarn shopping. I drove to San Rafael, about 2 hours away (and a lovely drive it was, too, because there was NPR on the radio and no squabbling in the back seat). I went first to Marin Fiber Arts, a new store I'd never been to before. They carry mostly high-end yarns, but not the frou-frou types. The two people working there (the owner and an employee, I think) were very friendly, and they led me into temptation in the form of Goddess Yarns alpaca. This experience was quite a difference over the one I had earlier in the week at that store in Oakland. Consequently, I spent exactly $0 in Oakland the other day, and a lot more than that today at Marin Fiber Arts.

I next visited Dharma Trading, an old favorite of mine several blocks down 4th Street. They'd rearranged the store since I was in last, which was slightly disorienting, but I still came away with some goodies.

Lastly I swung through Berkeley on my way home and stopped at Stash Yarn on Solano. Note to self: avoid Solano on Saturday afternoons. What a zoo. It took several trips around the area to find a place to park, and even that was just a 30 minute spot. Which was probably just as well, since I did less damage to my credit card that way. Anyway, here's today's haul:

I like that Ruthie is guarding it for me. Such a helpful dog. I actually have specific plans for all this yarn, as soon as I turn my grades in....

25 May 2006

No light at the end of the tunnel, yet

Remember that stack of papers I wanted you to feel sorry for me about last week? They're graded. So is another similar-sized stack. And here's what remains:
It's depressing me just to look at it. I'm considering the staircase method of grading. Once I make my way through these, though, I'm done, other than a few stray papers and a couple of exams, and several tedious administrative tasks. My goal is to be finished by Tuesday afternoon, so that I have an entire 2 days of rest before Thing 1 goes on school vacation.

24 May 2006

Bugs, Views, and Yarn

Today Thing 1 and I went to the Lawrence Hall of Science at UC Berkeley. I wanted to catch an exhibit there that closes in a few days, and I figured Thing 1 would enjoy tagging along to a science museum.

The exhibit is on forensic entomology, and it was worth visiting. Allison learned a bit (and didn't find it too gruesome--she has her mother's tastes). When we returned home, I got a kick out of listening to her tell the neighbor kid what forensic entomology is. As if the neighbor kid's parents didn't already think my family was weird!

I'd never been to this museum before, and it was worth it just for the kick-ass view. It was a little hazy today, but still, doesn't Thing 1 look like the Empress of the East Bay?

On the way back, I decided to stop at a knitting store I'd never visited before in Oakland. I was disappointed. The selection was okay, although the yarn was displayed by color, which I find annoying. But even worse was the woman working there. There was only 1 other customer in the store when we entered, and the employee was helping her choose a color. As we walked in the door, the employee looked right at me and sort of gave me a dirty look. No smile, no hello, no nothing. I wandered around for a few minutes, looking for a particular yarn, but she never said a word or acknowledged my existence. So I left. Maybe she's a delightful woman who was just having a bad day, but with plenty of yarn stores to choose from, I don't have much patience for rudeness.

23 May 2006

Spreading Joy

My darling hubby decided that this time of year was perfect to escape to Las Vegas for 4 days with his buddies. Because, you know, I don't have anything at all to do right now and I love driving 60 miles roundtrip twice a day to take Thing 2 to preschool, not to mention being sole cook/maid/mediator/chauffeur/laundress/tutor/entertainer/disciplinarian for both Things.

I was going to take another picture of the pitifully large stack of term papers I have left to grade, so you could all feel sorry for me, but hubby has the camera. So you'll just have to take my word for it. So now, instead, I shall vent about the following:
  • students who enroll in a class with 73 people in it, take an essay exam, and then check with me 20 minutes later to see if I've graded their tests yet
  • students who ask me when the final exam is even though I told them at least 6 times and wrote it on the board twice, and it's published in the course schedule
  • students who come crying to me because they've been caught cheating on a test (duh--when your instructor's a former police chief, maybe he knows something about catching wrongdoers)
  • administrators who think the end of May is a good time to give department chairs projects with May 31 deadlines
  • administrators who think the end of May is a good time to have extra meetings
  • tech support people who can't tell you why the outgoing email isn't working or when it will work again
  • colleagues who act like kindergarteners
  • people who leave voicemail messages with unintelligible return phone numbers

Okay, I feel much better now.

19 May 2006

May Happiness

Despite the arrival of grading time (and the grading elves' annual trip to Mexico), this time of year does have its benefits. You can see them to the right: fresh cherries and white peaches. Mmmmm. Almost makes the grading worthwhile.

PS--In case anyone was wondering, Saint Bernards are also fond of de-pitted cherries and peaches.

Woe Is Me

This is less than half of what I have to grade in the next week. Where are those grading elves when you need them??

17 May 2006

Yay for Hot Weather!

The Things can get back in the pool! Why is this a good thing? Because they can play nicely for a long time while I grade papers at a patio table nearby. Because it amuses them forever--no more "I'm bored!" Because they come out of the pool exhausted. Because when misbehavior is imminent, I can threaten to remove pool privileges, and the misbehavior evaporates.

Yesterday the water looked so inviting that I joined Thing1 in the pool. But then I felt guilty because I wasn't grading things. So I grabbed my clippers and started trimming back some of the plants that grow behind (and often over) the pool wall. You can see one of the lavenders in the picture here, pre-trimming. I have to tell you, there are few better ways to spend an afternoon than shoulder-deep in cool water, arms buried in lavender, and relatively guilt-free because even if you're not making headway on grading, you're at least accomplishing something that needs to be done. The water was 80 degrees yesterday and it felt great. Too bad I can't grade or knit while in the pool as well.

16 May 2006

Warning to Self

Next time I teach a class with essay exams and a 20 page term paper, I will not let 73 students enroll in that class.

14 May 2006

Herby the Love Dog

My parents' household was just joined by a new puppy. Herby the Love Dog is an 8-week-old Pembroke Corgi. He seems to be quite comfortable in his new home, as you can see.


13 May 2006

And 95%

Your Political Profile:
Overall: 5% Conservative, 95% Liberal
Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

This should come as little surprise to those who know me. The 5% came from the question related to gun control.

11 May 2006


Your Stress Level is: 53%
You are somewhat prone to stress, especially when life gets hard.
When things are good, you resist stressing over little problems.
But when things are difficult, you tend to freak out and find it hard to calm down.

It's that time of year when I'm tired, when I can't possibly get everything done that needs doing, and when I realize that once again, I've over-committed myself. I'm surprised I'm only at 53%!

So there are growing piles of papers to be graded, there are exams to be written, the house is a mess, the garden needs weeding, my car is filthy, and my children go off to school looking like they're being raised by wolves (but hopefully not acting like it!). And what did I do about it last night? I knitted. I knitted for almost 2 hours while I watched some bizarre Czech movie about a tree-stump baby that eats people, and after the movie was over, I knitted and watched John Stewart. I needed those 2 hours or I might have gone insane. Sometimes, when hubby knows I have a ton of things to do, he looks over at me and asks, "Then why are you knitting?" He doesn't understand that knitting calms and soothes me. Hell, I think I should be able to deduct my yarn as a medical expense because knitting is my therapy.

Speaking of hubby, this morning I came downstairs after my shower to discover that he let Thing 1 make herself chocolate Eggos and root beer for breakfast. Great.

09 May 2006

Yarn Shopping with Thing 2

On Saturday, Thing 2 and I attended the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. I don't weave (though I'd like to, someday), and I didn't have time to attend any classes, but I wanted to go to the market because I suspected there would be interesting yarn. And there was. What I really liked about the market, aside from the fact that it was waaaay less crowded than Stitches, was that most of the vendors were small producers. In other words, instead of the same yarns I can get any time online or at a LYS, there were lots of beautiful yarns I'd never seen before. I came home with some cashmere/merino and some merino/angora. There were a couple of the larger vendors there as well, including Habu. Unlike at Stitches, it was actually possible to get within 100 yards of the Habu booth, so I acquired two tiny skeins of fine cashmere, two balls of silk paper, and one ball of hot pink fiber made from a pineapple plant.

Thing 2 enjoyed the market quite a bit. She was fascinated by the looms, and totally entranced by spinning wheels. She probably could have spent all day watching people spin. She also liked touching yarns and fleeces and leafing through some knitting books, and looking at the beautiful works on display in the gallery. Thing 2 is my little Artiste, and she's obviously acquiring a healthy appreciation for fiber arts.

In fact, the next day as I was preparing lunch, Thing 2 suddenly abandoned her Polly Pocket and announced imperiously, "Mommy! I want you know me how knit!" Now, that's the 3rd time she's asked, and I really hate to say no. But she doesn't have the coordination yet to knit, or even to use her sister's table loom. Does anyone have any ideas for something I could teach a 3-year-old to do with yarn? She doesn't need to produce anything in particular, as long as she believes that she's really making something.

05 May 2006

Shameless Boasting

Please excuse the crappy lighting on these pictures. I just finished my new project tonight, and I'm too inordinately pleased with myself to wait until daylight to take pictures of the results. So, what have we here? Pincushions. The other day, it occured to me (probably when I should have been thinking about grading papers) that most pincushions are pretty or cutesy. I've been using a tomato pincushion since I was a teenager. But given the inherent danger of pins, not to mention the general quality of my sewing, shouldn't pincushions look a bit more dangerous?

So there we go: Lethal Pincushions. They're made of felt from Michaels, acrylic batting, and Perle thread. The ideas and designs, I am happy to say, were mine (didn't I tell you I was pleased with myself?). But! That's not all! Lethal Pincushions deserve Lethal Pins. Thus:

The technique for making Shrinky-Dink pins is from Wee Wonderfuls. Aren't Shrinky-Dinks a wonderful thing? The idea and design were mine again. And also:

You have to understand: unlike some of you, I have limited artistic skill. Sure, I can be inspired, but my execution is often lacking. This is one of the few times when idea + execution (an appropriate term here) came together perfectly. Plus, the materials are cheap, and the whole project took only a few hours. And I got to introduce Thing 1 to the Wonderful World of Shrinky-Dinks.

Isn't life grand?

I have one other additional idea for a pincushion that must be made, but I dunno when I'll have time to make it. Work calls.

04 May 2006

Finally, an FO

I finally finished the scarf last night, subtitles notwithstanding. The pattern is from Knit Scarves! and it uses Colinette Prism. I used the colorway called Cinnamon. I love this yarn--the colors are complex and beautiful and the yarn itself is very soft. Between the yarn itself and the slipstitch pattern, the resulting fabric looks and feels more woven than knitted:

which isn't a bad thing at all. The fabric lays very flat as well; no curling at all. I'm pleased with the scarf, which I will have the opportunity to wear in another 6 months or so.

03 May 2006

What's Up

The Clevelend Planned Parenthood is selling this clever jewelry. And while we're on the topic of jewelry, visit my sister's stuff at Etsy. This is the same sister who sent me this very strange llama link. There's a new issue up of The AntiCraft, complete with asparagus recipes. Mmmm. New MagKnits is up, too.

I was finally able to pick up my needles again last night after pause of over 2 weeks. But here's the problem: I also had 3 new Netflix movies waiting for me, and, due to some major queue miscalculation, all 3 have subtitles. I can only knit very slowly while reading subtitles. But if I don't watch all those movies quickly, impatient hubby, who didn't place any of them in the queue and who is anxious to see the next car-chase-blow-things-up flick, will send them back unwatched. So my knitting is once again proceeding, but not very fast. And I'm making a scarf, which made sense a month or so ago when I started and we were having unseasonably cool weather. But now it's in the 80's and we're using the pool already (no sign of the ducks again, by the way). I won't have much use for this scarf anyway for quite a while.