Death on a Triscuit Thursday, Jul 31 2008 

My apologies for the lack of posting this week. I have been wiped out by a summer cold, and have spent most of this week sneezing violently and staring rather blankly into space.

I plugged along a bit on my aunt’s Christmas socks, but the knitting has been at a standstill due to aforementioned cold, plus the fact that we have a coworker from overseas visiting, which means going out and being social.

I’m getting better, though, and looking forward to the weekend!

Tarot Card of the Day: Ten of Swords

Christmas in July Monday, Jul 28 2008 

Normally the phrase ” Christmas in July” makes me cringe. It’s usually a ploy by advertisers/retailers/media to get consumers and viewers into the buy-buy-buy mentality that makes the holiday season so profitable six months ahead of schedule.

But sometimes….sometimes, it’s a smart thing. Like, say, when you’ve decided to embark upon holiday knitting that includes (thus far) two adult sweaters, two pairs of socks, one bag,  one pseudo-bag/holder thingy, one pair of slippers, and four washcloths. Plus an assortment of Christmas ornaments and whatever else comes up between now and the holiday season.

This weekend, I carefully set aside all of my personal projects and picked up the needles for my Dad’s sweater. As it’s an aran, it’s going to take the most work. The first repeat was living hell, until I got smart and added stitch markers. I’m beginning to memorize the pattern, so things are going a bit easier, but it’s still tricky. One chart is a 26 row repeat, and one is a 6 row repeat, so they don’t fit nicely together. I considered using a row counter, but realized a) I’d lose it and b) it would require more math than I am willing to do.

Aside from that, I saw the X-Files movie. It could have been better, but it also could have been worse. There was some nice humor, but I was deeply saddened by how painfully thin Gillian Anderson seemed, and also how cynical we’ve become. In the sense that it was reflective of a different atmosphere between the early 1990s and today, the tone of the movie was very accurate and well done, but it makes me sad. Where did all the people who believed in possibility go? Not just extreme possibilities or the paranormal but…well, anything, really. We’ve all stopped believing, and that’s just sad.

So, after that, I spent my knitting time curled up in front of seasons two and three of the X-Files, and happily lost myself in a world where people weren’t excessively thin, cynicism wasn’t as extreme, and Dana Scully was my hero.

Actually, you know what? Dana Scully is still my hero. Take that, world.

Tarot Card of the Day: Ten of Pentacles

Frogged: Kansas Harvest Socks Friday, Jul 25 2008 

The other failed project of last weekend was the Kansas Harvest Socks. These were meant for Lammas, but I just wasn’t feeling the pattern and knew there was no way I’d get them finished in time.

Kansas  Harvest Sock

I love the wheat cable, but socks were knit on sport weight yarn rather than sock weight, and it just felt off to me. Plus, I couldn’t find any sock yarn in that weight, so this really wasn’t designed to be knit at such a tight gauge; it felt stiff and off to me.

I plugged along for a while, but when I found myself resenting every last stitch, I decided it was time to frog. I still want to have something for Lammas, so I’m thinking that I’ll rip these out this weekend and try to incorporate the wheat cable into some wristwarmers or fingerless gloves. That would actually be really useful; the circle I go to meets in a building that starts out toasty warm, but feels a little chilly to me by the end of the night. (It should be noted that, typically, I find anything below 72-73 degrees to feel chilly. I am an anomaly like that.)

Tarot Card of the Day: The Heirophant

Gauge is the bane of my existance. Thursday, Jul 24 2008 

I hate gauge swatches. Let’s not beat around the bush here. I hate them. I hate wasting time knitting a tiny square when I want to start a sweater. I hate trying to find a clean, flat surface and a tape measure for measuring them, and I don’t tend to wash them because I re-wind them and use the yarn to knit the actual object with.

But sometimes, gauge is good. I’m knitting the Wheat-Ear Cable Yoke Sweater for Mabon, and I love the design. I also lucked out–I happened to have a sweater’s worth of light toffee colored yarn that fits the season and design perfectly in my stash, so no need to buy yarn!

I swatched on the suggested needle sizes–too big. No big deal, I figured I’d drop down a needle size and cast on and knit merrily away. (You know where this is heading, don’t you?)

Wheat-Ear Yoke Sweater, take 1

Looks like a normal sweater back, doesn’t it? Well…yeah. About that. It looks like a normal sweater back, but looks can be deceiving. My gauge is still slightly off stitch-wise, and my row gauge is off by about an inch and a half. Yikes! So I looked at the sweater. I debated. I wondered if a 36″ sweater really would be too much ease. (Yes. It would.)
I ripped back.

I’ve cast on again, this time using US6s as the largest needle. Which also means I’ll have to scrounge up a set of US4s at some point, since I’m using my Denise set, which doesn’t go down that far. Luckily, it’s a pretty quick and easy knit, but I’m still a tad peeved at myself for having to do it twice.

Plus, I think the cat was mocking me.

Fred is not fat, he's fluffy.

He looks suspiciously amused, doesn’t he? Silly fat Fred, he has no idea he’s about to be put on a kitty diet and exercise regime….poor boy.

Tarot Card of the Day: Five of Swords

Where have all the pagans gone? Wednesday, Jul 23 2008 

No, seriously, where are they?

So, when I first started reading about Wicca and paganism, I went online. It was cheaper than a bookstore, and there was no need to explain to my parents why I was carrying around a book with a picture of a witch on the front. Not that they would have been mad, but I never really felt like dealing with the thinly veiled skepticism and condescension that they are humoring their strange daughter that comes up any time religion is brought up. (Still don’t, but at least now all I have to do to escape is hang up the phone.)

Now, this was back in the early to mid 1990s, so the internet was awash with geocities and aol pages filled with stuff. This was pre-blog, so rather than focusing on personal journeys, most of these were packed with information–spells, deities, rituals, traditions. They were also packed with animated .gifs, hard to read red text on black backgrounds, and those god-awful midis that played obnoxious music and top volume and didn’t have an off switch, but it was the 90s, so I’m willing to overlook that.

As I’ve found my way onto this path once again, I find myself wondering–where did all this go? I look and I find some blogs, which are great, but they focus almost entirely on personal journeys or news. The only information seems to be on the few geocities style pages that are still hanging around, and nobody who is used to the current incarnation of the Internet is going to be able to stomach those for more than five seconds, much less take them seriously.

So…where is everyone? Where’s the information? Sure, there are more books than ever but not everyone can buy books. It’s expensive, they take up space, people may live with others who don’t accept their path, or maybe they just aren’t to that point yet. So, are they just being left with a great void? Personal journeys and blogs are great, but when you’re trying to get started it can be frustrating to see people along the path and be stuck want to scream, but HOW DID YOU GET THERE!?!

Maybe I’m missing something, and there is some vast treasure trove of up-to-date, non-black background, non-midi, non-animated-.gif website out there that everyone knows about but me. Or maybe there isn’t.  Maybe I should start one.  Is there a need for this, or is it just me?

And someone please tell me, where have all the pagans gone?

Tarot Card of the Day: Three of Cups

New Project: Flickering Flames Skirt Tuesday, Jul 22 2008 

So, after not one but two failed attempts at other projects this weekend (we’ll talk about those later), I finally threw up my hands and decided it was time to cast on for something new.

Flickering Flames Skirt

This worked out pretty well, since I was called for Jury Duty. That’s pretty terrifying, since they want you to come sit in a room all day with other people and NOT KNIT!! The logic is that knitting needles are dangerous, but I’m pretty sure that the odds of a dangerous criminal stumbling into the jury holding pen, accosting me, stealing my needles, and using them to commit murder are FAR less likely than the odds that I, trapped in a room with lots of undoubtedly annoying people and a lack of reading material (In order to have enough, I would need to carry more books than is advisable, if I like my back. And I do.) and deprived of my knitting, I would go insane and attack someone out of sheer boredom.

Lucky for me, though, I wasn’t needed at the 8:30 am role call. Of course, California can’t be that simple, so instead of being able to go to work after all, I had to wait around to see if I was needed for the afternoon role call. I wasn’t, so I got a day off out of the deal–thanks California!

Flickering Flames close up

I still need to buy larger circs for this, when I reach the increase rounds. The top is only 36″ but it’s a circle skirt, so by the time I get to the bottom, it will be a whopping 200″ in circumference. Yikes! It’s a pretty easy knit, though, and fun. I’m not doing this on any sort of timeline, so I’m just going to enjoy working on it when I have the chance.

It’s a gorgeous skirt, and I’m really looking forward to having it. It’s part of my Wheel of the Year projects, for esbats. I always wind up wearing jeans to circle because, well, I live in jeans, but it feels kind of blah. I’ve had a tough time finding skirts I like, and this has just that floaty, ethereal quality that I’m looking for. I imagine I’ll be brainstorming some similar skirts once this is done; I like the idea of a floaty lace skirt, and I think I’ll sew up a pretty underskirt (maybe satin?) to wear underneath.

Tarot Card of the Day: The High Priestess

So many projects! Friday, Jul 18 2008 

I’ve been flitting about with different projects this week, but nothing exciting enough to take pictures of.

I’m working on a pair of Kansas Harvest Socks for Lammas–I need to get cracking on those, as I’m still on the leg of sock #1 and Lammas is August 1st. Whoops!

I’m also working on the Monkey socks, but need to put those aside since I’ve just ordered a HUGE batch of yarn for holiday knitting. Lots of yarn and lots of very ambitious holiday knitting is in my future…and I am afraid.

Tarot Card of the Day: Six of Cups

Self-sufficiency and craftiness Thursday, Jul 17 2008 

One of the things I love about crafting is that I’m not reliant on anyone else. Everything in stores seems to be subject to the whims of whatever trend is going on or predicted.  One minute everything is pink or smelling of cherry blossoms and the next it’s all brown and the big scent is vanilla. Which is all well and good, but there is nothing more frustrating than going to a store and realizing that although you need new shirts, you don’t see a single one you’d actually want to wear, or falling in love with something only to have it discontinued after six months because it’s no longer “in.”

Knitting is great for that–it matters less if stores suddenly decide that, hey, all cardigans should have 3/4 length sleeves and the colors for this year are rust, baby blue, and grey. I can knit myself a bright purple or deep emerald cardigan with sleeves that are long enough to keep me warm and it’s great!

Only problem is, I’m starting to want to apply that in other areas of my life. Which is great, but sometimes I wonder if I’m going too far.  I came across this link today, for homemade deodorant. I’m actually tempted to try it. The trick is juggling the part of me that goes, why waste all that time when you can buy it, are you some kind of hippie? (This voice, btw, sounds remarkably like my mother. Who knew?) and the part of me that goes, oh thank god, I don’t have to smell powder fresh or like a piece of fruit or whatever it is the cosmetics companies think I should want to smell like, which is usually sickly sweet and kind of gives me a headache.

It’s a dilemma. But there is something remarkably freeing about not having to rely on the whims of a giant corporation for basic necessities…I may just have to try it!

Tarot Card of the Day: The Devil

Get your laws off my body! Wednesday, Jul 16 2008 

I had a different post planned for today, but after this story I have to change gears.

Basically, HHS is released a proposal on Monday that would allow any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman’s access to contraception. In order to do this, they are re-defining certain forms of birth control as abortion.

This makes me so mad my blood boils, and I encourage anyone who feels the same to leave a comment on this story, and head over to the HHS website and let them know what you think. This is is just outrageous!

Aside from the fact that, um, birth control IS NOT the same thing as abortion, this is just terrifying that our government can be so easily swayed by  certain idealogical forces.  Half the people I know who use hormonal birth control aren’t even taking it to prevent pregnancy (myself included) but I guess the other benefits don’t matter–what was it one of Bush’s cronies said, that women should pray for PMS symptoms to disappear?

My body is my own to decide what I want to do with it, and things like this are just an attempt to relegate women to the role of subservient baby-making machines. A vision of reality like the one in the Handmaid’s Tale is become frighteningly easy to imagine and it’s starting to scare me.

On the up side, this has reminded me that I want to study  herbalism and other natural medicine (I had even considered looking into midwifery at one point, but then remembered that babies frighten me.) and luckily I live near a school for herbalism–alas, their course description is a bit outdated, but I’ll have to call and see if I can’t track down some more information.

Tarot Card of the Day: Ten of Pentacles (again)

Knit One One, Raffles, and Malabrigo Tuesday, Jul 15 2008 

Saturday morning I went to knitting at Knit One One , with lots of awesome knitters.

Knit One One July 12 2008

There was great excitement, as Trumom was raising money for the Susan G Komen 3 Day walk that benefits breast cancer research. She was raffling off some great prizes. (If you didn’t get a chance to donate, her two teammates are still fund raising!)

Trumom attempts to draw raffle winners

With a little bit of help!

Trumom and her son draw for raffle winners

There was a local winner–Petra won the coveted Malabrigo yarn.

Petra, Trumom, and Malabrigo

And of course lots of knitting and fun.

Knit One One July 12 2008

Knit One One July 12 2008

Knit One One July 12 2008

Knit One One July 12 2008

Knit One One July 12 2008

Knit One One July 12 2008

I love Knit One One, and look forward to the Saturday knitting group so much! If you’re in the Berkeley/Oakland area, you should definitely check it out.

Tarot Card of the Day: Ten of Pentacles

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