Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Small Promise

Why, hello, my little langoliers!

It's Saturday, and I'm too lazy to go to the gym, and as soon as it's late enough to decently call Katie I'm going to see if she's interested in going to get something to eat. After that I will work on the Basket Weave of Eternity while watching Finding Nemo, and then tonight a group of us are going to see Quantum of Solace, which has FINALLY arrived in Japan. Squeal!

Wow, you might be saying. How fascinating. La-de-da. Well, as I was catching up on some blogs this morning (Yarn Harlot has been blogging for five years, dudes, and Knitting the Blues' computer died. Very emotional), I realized that I have got to stop writing novels every time I get on here. I mean, if I ever hope to attract a readership, and I guess I do, I can't expect people to slog through six pages of me rambling about whatever every time they visit. I think people will be much more forgiving of me rambling about whatever for half a page at a time.

And pictures, of course. Pictures are important. Nice ones. This is sunset over the river and bridge that cut right through the center of Yatsushiro.

Plus a wee mention of knitting: The Basket Weave is 24 1/2" long. So, 7 1/2" in the pattern stitch left and than an inch in moss stitch (bleah). I still have not started the finishing on the first ball, but I think I might do that today, after I've gotten bored of doing the blanket for a bit.

Then some geekery, since perhaps none of you who read this, if you exist and are actually thinking about it, have seen any real evidence of my geekiness. Clearly that would be those of you who have never met me. Anyway, geekiness: I watched Amadeus last night for the first time in years, and was just marveling over that aging make-up on F. Murray Abraham. That's kind of a make-up artist legend, how Dick Smith made a cast of his own forehead to get the wrinkles he wanted for old Salieri. And it worked! He and Paul LeBlanc won the Oscar for it. Not just for the forehead, of course - the hands! Did you see his hands as old Salieri? Beautiful, seriously. Sick Mozart was pretty nice, too. Afterwards, being the geek I am, I put on my 25 Mozart Favorites and went to Wikipedia to find out how much of that was made-up whole cloth. Almost the entire relationship between Salieri and Mozart, turns out. Which is cool, it's a story that got pieced together for dramatic effect from bits of intriguingly vague history and the fact that if it was creepy that Mozart couldn't quite finish what turned out to be his own Requiem, it would be even creepier if some malevolent force made him write it and thus killed him! But I was surprised that it turned out his wife was also musical (which makes sense) and that fact was completely ignored in the film. Hmph. Oh! and I was wondering why one of the supporting actors seemed so familiar, and after a bit of digging on IMDB, it turned out he played Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia in 1776, one of our family favorites.

Also, Quantum of Solace better not have any scars or contacts that change color, as Casino Royale did. Maybe it was the lighting, but come on. A make-up artist of the caliber that gets a mega 007 gig ought to be on that.

Okay, that's enough for today. If you didn't think make-up commentary was geeky, you do not know enough theater and make-up geeks. For that, I'm not sure if I pity or envy you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Keep Reading for the Secret to World Peace! Not.

All right, updates!

Christmas gloves are all given out. Both Katie and Aashima seem to love them. In fact, I took this picture on the spur of the moment when we were out to dinner and I noticed that they had both worn them out, all on their own. They turned out well and were well-received, so yea!

Brenda was also out with us and she was very complimentary, so I asked if she wanted the gloves instead of the headband, and she hemmed and hawed a bit and said yes. Sigh. That means two more pairs, since Emily also fussed a bit. I might still do the headband for Brenda eventually anyway, since I think she's the only person I know who might actually wear it. In either case, Emily's gloves and Brenda's headband are on the back burner, and Brenda's gloves won't even be started until this monstrosity is over:Yikes. That far done, which is great, but guess when Reidy's birthday was? Oh, you know, yesterday. And while it isn't so much an occasion gift right now, since I bought her some birthday stuff in Vietnam, I wanted to send it all in the same package so she'd get it around her birthday. Alas, it is not to be.

But I was getting too bored with just the blanket, so I started these:and they are fun and easy. I'm making the first few as cat toys. I bought what I think might be catnip at the pet store the other day, so I'm making a couple for Reidy's cats, to include with the blanket (and to make sure the cats like the blanket, hee hee), and then I figured I'd make a couple for Brenda's cats as well, while I'm at it. I like the way the colors are turning out with these lovely short rows, and now I finally have a use for this one silly skein of Patons Decor!

So now there are just under 10 inches of Reidy's cat blanket left, and the spheres are quick and easy, and then it'll be time to do Brenda's gloves and start on the baby stuff for Sheila. And maybe, just maybe, I'll go ahead and squeeze in buying the pattern and yarn for the Prepster. Because I really want it, and I want to do something for me, dangit.

Also, if you have not tried Haagen-Dazs' Maple Cookie flavor...GUUUUUHHH!! Run, don't walk, to your nearest Haagen-Dazs retailer and get some. Happiness in my mouth. Seriously.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Booties All Weekend

Boy, am I a knit gift failure.

I still haven't given Katie and Aashima their gloves yet. They live right across the parking lot, too, so this is pretty inexcusable. I'd do it right now but it's just too damn cold out.

Haven't started Brenda's headband yet, either, although on the plus side, I did give her a knitting lesson this week! She told me way before Christmas that she wanted to take it up again (having learned as a very young girl) and make her fiance a hat. We bought the yarn and needles before the break, but finally did the first lesson on Wednesday. She picked it up again very quickly, I must say. Right now she's just doing a swatch and I'll print out the pattern she wants and show her how to cast on this week.

I also did not knit a single stitch on Reidy's blanket, in spite of the fact that her birthday is a week from today. The reason, my little chickadees, is that my only knitting project this weekend was this travesty:
Remember how I said that these booties were one of my favorite patterns from last year? Ha! Not anymore. Not after banging out three pairs this weekend while also trying to do the FAFSA and three more graduate school applications.

On Thursday, one of the English teachers (proper English teachers, not just some native speaker they pay to surf the internet) at my school asked me how long it had taken me to knit the first pair. She was the one who took the first pair to the music teacher's new baby for me, and she thought they were darling (well, who wouldn't?). I said, oh, maybe two hours for the pair (note: I am exceptionally bad at estimating things like how long something takes, how many somethings there are, etc. Exceptionally bad.), and she said, oh really?

Next thing you know, I'm agreeing to make three pairs for her by Tuesday. Today, Monday, was a national holiday (I know, I know, back from vacation one week and then a long weekend. I have it easy), so I thought, no problem!

Foolish, foolish creature. I spent Saturday finishing the Watchmen (awesome, awesome - highly recommended) then learning this new game that seems to be quite popular in the States - Settlers of Catan, and then we had our James Bond movie night, even though we couldn't get Dr. No or GoldenEye and ended up with just You Only Live Twice (fun - for a group that had all seen Austen Powers first and live in Japan, it was pretty hilarious) and the Family Guy Star Wars special. I did work on the booties during the movies, but without accomplishing much. Then yesterday was the FAFSA and applications to LIU, Simmons, and USF. All day. So that left today for the booties - Hayashi-sensei called at 5 to check on progress and I said something like, oh, another hour or so. I still had to sew them all up and attach snaps. I had everything sewed up by 6:15, and then I discovered that the thing of snaps I bought for the first pair had up and disappeared. I'm serious, I tossed this place looking for them. Nada. I found a pair that came with a small sewing kit, so I finished one pair of booties, but then, as I'm frantically turning over this disgusting trashpit of an apartment upside down to find the rest, there's a knock on my door. It's Hayashi-sensei, coming to bring me dinner because she realized I hadn't eaten to work on these guys. Argh!

But she said she had snaps at home and she'd finish them for me. She then handed me a giant tub of soup, veggies, and mochi she and her daughter had made themselves. The hospitality in this country is awesome. She had offered to pay for the booties, but I felt uncomfortable with that - it seems unethical. Anyway, she has paid for more than one of my booze-fest enkai fees. She tucked some money into the dinner bag but I'm going to return it to her on Thursday when I'm back at junior high.

So, finished a bunch of stuff school-wise, but knit-wise, I am so, so behind. And I only got these two lousy pictures as I pretended to be looking for a bag to put them in and Hayashi-sensei and her daughter stood out in the freezing wind (my apartment, remember, was beyond trashed, and with only one big room downstairs, there's nowhere to hide it from guests).
Be honest, terrible picture, right?

I think that maybe if I put in a good solid hour per night for the next week, I might finish the blanket next weekend and at least get Chussie's birthday packet in the mail on her birthday. Maybe. Sigh.

Anyway, FO stuff:

Name: Rainbow MJ Madness
Pattern: Knit Mary Jane Booties, by April Cromwell
Yarn: Patons Astra in Kool Aid Ombre. Decent yarn for this project, but the color variegation just looks like a bad trip. She requested it, though, so I used up the last of it.
Needles: Bamboo size 4 short round needle. Couldn't find the straight fours.
Finished Measurements: Yeah, right, like I had time for that.
Pattern Mods: Didn't bother with button hole (never came out right first time around) so just knit four rows for the strap and attached snaps at end. Well, a couple of snaps, anyway.
Knitting in Public/Movies Watched While Knitting: Well, that would be the Family Guy SW Movie, You Only Live Twice, and today was the five hour BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice. I don't even have to watch that one anymore, I just listen. Though I did put down the knitting for my favorite part, the showdown scene between Darcy and Elizabeth. "I had not known you a month before I was convinced that you were the last man in the world I could ever marry!" Man, love it.
Number of Times Frogged: Well, I frogged the first two I made when I was originally feeling this pattern out, so that I would have enough yarn.
Things I Would Change Next Time: I'd like to try it with a softer yarn in a solid color, honestly.

Okay, now I think I'll find a movie and pretend I don't have to actually work tomorrow, for the first time in a month.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Knitting is Over! (mostly)

Finally, I am caught up on all the blogs I read, emails I needed to send, major processes I needed to begin, and I can post the FOs that have happened over break.

Actually, there are only two, a few less than was ideal. I was also quite late on both of them and haven't presented either one to its intended recipient, but these are paltry details.

First, Katie's Fetching, an exact repeat of Robin's. I had hoped to have these finished in time to give them to Katie in Hong Kong during my brief layover there, but I still had two rows to go on the last thumb, as well as weaving in ends. Bummer.

Name: Christmas Fetching #3, for Katie here in Yats.Pattern: Fetching, by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Diakeito Dia Tasmanian Merino Lame in #604, lavender-pink
Needles: Bamboo size 5 DPNs.
Finished Measurements: Just over 5 1/2" long and almost 2 1/2" wide lying flat. Thumb is about 3/4" long.
Pattern Mods: Same extra cable repeat at the top as usual, and I no longer how remember how many rows I did for the thumb but it was at least six or so.
Knitting in Public/Movies Watched While Knitting: Heh. Quite a list this time. I cast on the first one on the train from Yats to Fukuoka to get the plane to Saigon. But then I didn't touch them until we'd gone to the nice hotel in Qui Nhon, where it was rainy and we spent two days in the hotel eating room service and watching movies. So I finished the first one and did a big chunk of the second while watching Batman Returns, Hot Fuzz, True Lies, and some special on Saturday Night Live commercials. The best one? This one, new to me and completely hysterical - because it's your problem, not theirs. Then I did almost all the rest of the second glove on the plane from Saigon to Hong Kong, in business class, mind you. The flight attendant, in between delivering me glasses of complimentary champagne, was very interested in what I was doing. FYI, I am not so shcmancy as to be able to afford business class - it was a very happy, lucky, free break. Then I finished the second glove at the start of the Action Movie Marathon at my house last weekend, so I guess that would be Next, that Nicolas Cage clunker.
Number of Times Frogged: None, bless it!
Things I Would Change Next Time: Not get too comfortable with the pattern and forget to count rows.

Then the second FO:
Name: Christmas Fetching #4 (and final), for Aashima here in Yats.Pattern: Fetching, by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Motohiro Imperial Junmou Aibito, in color #20 dark blue.
Needles: Bamboo size 6 DPNs.
Finished Measurements: Just over 6 1/2" long and 2 3/4" wide lying flat. Thumb is just under one inch long.
Pattern Mods: Same as above - extra cable repeat and longer thumb.
Knitting in Public/Movies Watched While Knitting: I'm sure there were some movies during the first glove, finished before winter break, but I can't recall what. The second one was during the Action Movie Marathon here at my apartment last weekend, so that would be Next (horrible - good story ruined by atrocious dialogue and direction and completely wrong casting choices), Terminator 3 (better than I thought), and Shoot 'Em Up (ridiculous but entertaining).
Number of Times Frogged: None.
Things I Would Change Next Time: Not gonna lie, sick of this pattern. Don't like afterthought thumbs and want to try a gusset thumb.

Also, Emily said she liked her headband but I think she wasn't very sure at first. She seemed to warm up to it, though, and I think the pictures of her wearing it outside my apartment are too cute. She probably won't get much wear out of it on a sub-tropical Japanese island, come to think, but maybe when she goes back to England one day. Also, she decided she really wanted a pair of the Fetching, once she saw Aashima's. Sigh.

Yar. I think when I'm done here I will go give these to Katie and Aashima (the blessings of living in Foreigner Heights). Now I'm trying to work on Chussie's Basketweave, but it's going slowly. But I'm all caught up on my blogs and hearing about everyone's vacations, so maybe I can get more done. It really needs to get done this month, I think, to get tucked into the package for Chussie's birthday. Alas, her birthday is the 19th. I really want to work on something for myself, though, dangit! Next in my queue is the stockinette sphere, which looks so cool, and I would LOVE to have the Prepster before winter is over. But then Sheila's due in April and I want to do a blanket and booties...

Well, there just isn't enough time, is there? There certainly isn't enough money for yarn. More important than knitting this month, unfortunately, are the financial aid appications. Oh, finances are depressing. But tonight, I have a James Bond movie, Licence to Kill, to distract me! Never seen this one, and I'll probably be thinking of Sissy Skinner the whole time, but hey, here's hoping it rocks my world.

Oh, and a HUGE thanks to Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns for being my first commenter! I love her blog and read it religiously. I wanted to go to Ireland (the motherland of my mother's side of the family, don't you know. Fagans and Haggertys all over the place) before I started reading her, but now I really want to go. So thank you very much for the lovely comment!

Monday, January 5, 2009

I Return! Without Malaria!

All right, my little chickadees! I am back.

Vietnam was fantastic, in case you're wondering. Warm, friendly, lively, cheap, and relaxing - everything I wanted from a vacation. No yarn, alas, but then we didn't do much shopping. There was the adorable little girl, above, in a boat on the Mekong Delta wearing what I would swear was a hand-made hat. This same boat also had what looked like a crocheted cover for it's engine. So someone in southern Vietnam likes fiber craft! Hong Kong was also a good time, though I was only there for an evening and didn't get to explore as I would wish to. Then it was back to Japan for New Year's, which was cold but loads of fun, and now I am home again and today was back to work and the old routine. A wonderful break, and it put my head together for me, and now I really don't want to go back to work. It was so much nicer to sleep in and hang out.

Oh, well. Now, it seems to be regular in this sort of blog thingy to do an end-of-year recap and talk about all the fabulous crap I'll be doing this year. Hmm. I'm doing most of that in my regular blog, and this one is supposed to be for knitting and my random shareable-on-the-internet crafty/geeky interests, so I'll stick with that.

So 2008 in short:
- I did a decent amount of knitting this year, but my interest really took off again when I discovered Ravelry at the end of August. Before then, I had done a couple of baby bits and finished some old projects since coming to Japan, but I had lost some of my knitting mojo - I'm in such a rural area and I felt kind of isolated, knit-wise. But with the discovery of Ravelry and the infinite possibilities of knitting brought far closer in vivid, colored detail, I became re-obsessed.
- Started this blog, with a specific purpose which shall be revealed in the fullness of time (I hope).
- Began obsessively reading knit blogs. See sidebar.
- New skills include knitting from a chart, the very halting beginnings of crochet, and seaming, albeit badly.
- Favorite project this year is tough to choose, but I think it might be the Christmas Fetching for Jessica in the Exceed Wool. That yarn is just delicious and I liked the color. In spite of the trials, as of this moment they are the project I remember with the most warmth. Fetching is not my favorite pattern, however, in spite of how many times I made it; that would be the Mary Janes or Bamboozled, both of which I enjoyed immensely. They kept my interest and delivered interesting stuff.

- Read more than 47 books this year. 47 are how many show up in the list I just arranged on Visual Bookshelf on Facebook, but that doesn't count a few odd cheesy romance novels and Star Wars books that I haven't put on there. At first that seems like a paltry number but it's almost a book a week, and since I feel certain there are a fair few missing, that's probably at least a book a week. Favorites include the Omnivore's Dilemma (brilliant and eye-opening), Eat, Pray, Love (lovely, personal, and inspiring), the Patrick O'Brian series (unbelievably cool and full of fascinating history), Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility (yes, re-reads, but still amazing), and In Her Bathrobe She Blogged... (hilarious and mentions yours truly). Honorable mention goes to Saturday, Freakonomics, and the Know-It-All.
- Didn't write a damn thing. Well, there may have been a cherry blossom sonnet in the fervor of spring, but it's best left wherever it's currently moldering.

- Bought more SW books and even watched ANH in Japanese when I realized it was dubbed and I couldn't access the DVD menu. Darth Vader in Japanese was a distinct disappointment, by the way, and I could barely tell the difference between Luke and Leia.
- Bought a book on HTML, XHTML, and CSS and am really excited about learning it.
- Hopped on this whole social networking bandwagon, a little late.
- Consistently felt that the most important site in any new destination were the museums. Acted accordingly.
- Now own the first six volumes of Death Note and am looking to acquire the rest. Manga, folks, manga! It spells the end of any chance I had at normalcy, not that I ever wanted normalcy.
- Began obsessively reading several web comics, geeky blogs, and humor websites. See sidebar.
- Began a blog with the word "geek" in the title.

So! What about 2009?
- The Big Secret Project will be begun.
- I'm going to try working on this whole crochet thing. Surely some kind obaasan will help me?
- Baby blanket and booties for Sheila's little one due in April.
- When back in the States, will join a Stitch'N'Bitch or whatever it might be called wherever I land.

- Keep on reading them.
- Stop freaking buying them until I leave this country.

- Will learn how to make a cool website.
- Will start graduate school (pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease) and study library science.
- Will become the SW-knitting-cat lady. Sigh.

FOs next entry.