Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tin foil hats for the masses

In honor of the upcoming April Fool's day, the editorial staff at the Piker Press donned foil hats. Here is my contribution.

I tried to get Katie to wear it, but she was not very interested.

Otherwise, I'm very busy at work, trying to get everything caught up so I can take some vacation.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Terry does good

The clouds cleared off last night, and Terry leapt into action. He took the telescope out to the observatory. It was a productive evening for him. He found M83, the last of the 110 Messier Objects, and has now earned the Honorary Messier Certificate from the Astronomical League.

In this case, "honorary" is actually the higher achievement. The "regular" certificate is awarded when you observe 70 objects, and Terry completed that a couple of years ago.

It will be a couple of months before his observing log is verified and he gets his certificate. Until then, here is an unofficial award for him, courtesy of SEDS:

Congratulations, Terry!

Rambling on toward off-topic, while I was looking at SEDS, I saw the link for Yuri's Night on April 12. The idea is to have a party on the anniversary of the first manned space flight, and the first space shuttle flight. I've used lesser excuses for a party.

Meanwhile, in "all about ME" news, I have finished the body of the green sweater, and am ready to seam the shoulders. I hope to do that yet today, and maybe even pick up the stitches for the neck. Others bought sweater yarn in Minneapolis, but I was strong and stuck to my resolve not to commit to another sweater until I have this one finished.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Back home

Thanks to Kathy for this one.

You Are Lisa Simpson

A total child prodigy and super genius, you have the mind for world domination.

But you prefer world peace, Buddhism, and tofu dogs.

You will be remembered for: all your academic accomplishments

Your life philosophy: "I refuse to believe that everybody refuses to believe the truth"

Comment: Even when I was a vegetarian, I thought tofu pups were weird.

I'm back home and unpacked. When I first got home, Katie was standoffish. Then she was excitable. Now she is following me around everywhere, yea, even unto the bathroom, and climbing up for a snuggle. It takes her awhile, but eventually she's a good welcoming committee.

Friday, March 24, 2006


*S.E.X. = Stash Enhancement Expedition

Some of the KnitWits piled into the car this weekend and ran away to Minneapolis for a yarn crawl. After a long day of shopping, we combined our purchases for a picture.

That doesn't accurately reflect the entire haul, since there are three sweaters worth of yarn on order. But it is still pretty impressive for a day's work. Yes, there is a already-knitted sweater in there - a floor model for a discontinued yarn.

The t-shirt on the left says, "Eat - Sleep - Knit." That sums up our day.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Who needs robins?

We know it is spring when Chuckie emerges from underneath our garden shed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


That is so last week. This morning, we have this:

Katie can't be bothered.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Something to think about

Today, on the Ides of March, NPR ran a piece about Julius Caesar's last breath. Apparently, this is a well-known story problem among math and science geeks, which I most assuredly am not.

In a nutshell, the idea is that, on the average, every breath you take contains one molecule that was in Caesar's last breath, the one with which he uttered "Et tu, Brute."

Of course, the same would apply to anyone who has been dead long enough for their breath molecules to be evenly dispersed around the world. So with every breath, you may be getting a little Einstein... a little Mozart... a little Benjamin Franklin... a little Buddha... a little Harpo Marx... a little Emily Dickinson...

I like that thought.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I told you it was spring

My lilacs are starting to bud.

We did a little trimming to remove the grapevine, the milkweed, and a couple of little trees that have gotten mixed up in the lilacs' territory. Unfortunately, pulling out the grapevine also damaged one of the lilac branches, and we had to cut it out.

The branch had a bird's nest in it.

Terry was relieved to see it was empty.

Now we are off to the garden store to get some of the goop to paint over the cut end to protect it from infection. Earl May is the devil's own store. Everything is going to look so pretty and/or delicious that I will want to bring it all home. I am easily tempted to forget that I don't like gardening.

Must. Be. Strong.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Two ducks

I wish I could take credit for this one, but I can't. Terry sneaked up on this pair swimming in the creek that runs behind his office. You can click on the picture to see it larger, with a lot of nice detail.

Don't say it too loud, but spring is starting to insinuate itself into Iowa. Last weekend, I saw a tree that was already budding. ("You'll be sorry!" I said to the tree. "We cannot possibly be past the last freeze!") We've had thunderstorms this week, and today was sunny and mild. Saturday is supposed to be even warmer.

Nice weather means Terry takes longer walks on his lunch break, and he always takes the camera in case some flora or fauna catches his eye. I can't convince him to start his own blog to show off the pictures. He's just happy that I will display them for him and do all the writing, to boot.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

F. O. Report

At last, I have a finished object to report in the "Off The Sticks In 2006" campaign. It is the Perfect Pouch from indi.knits. It's a quick and easy knit, and takes just one skein of Noro Kureyon.

I've had the body of the bag done for ages, but it was languishing because I didn't think I had enough yarn for the I-cord edging and handle. That was my own fault, since I miscounted and made the bag a few rows too wide. Anyway, I didn't know how to make the attached I-cord for the seam edges.

Margie and I gathered up all of the green yarn we could find to see if we had a complementary color, and I found a skein of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride that looked pretty good. I found instructions for the attached I-cord, and knit a couple of inches of it, but it was taking forever. So I dug out the crochet hooks and seamed it with single crochet, which was much faster.

Here is the bag before felting:

And here it is after a long trip through the washer:

(and with the obligatory intrusion from Miss Katie.)

I may give it another spin in the washer to firm up the fabric a wee bit more, and I also need to figure out how to make that curly edge on the flap settle down, but it's done and ready to be used as it is.

Next up - a single sock or the sweater? The closer we get to spring, the harder it is to work on that lapful of sweater, but it needs to get done.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Back to business

The other cool thing about getting the sock past the heel is that you can try it on without taking it off the needles.

I like the way it looks, and seeing it so close to done inspires me to get it finished soon.

After reading Franklin's collection of drop spindling hints over the weekend, I decided I should attack the bag of unspun wool hogging space from my yarn stash. A few weeks ago, I bought a Schacht spindle in Ames. It has both a notch on the long end, and a hook on the short end, so it can be used as top whorl or bottom whorl. That seemed practical, since I am not good enough to know which I like better.

I predrafted the fiber - at least, if I understand the instructions, that is what I did. I loosened the fiber and separated it into strips. I think that may have helped me keep the yarn more consistent, but it still has its share of lumpy spots, especially when I join the next bit of fiber.

Here is the new spindle, on the left, alongside the spindle Amy gave me and the yarn I had already spun.

We are still a long way from a scarf, but maybe someday.

Katie got a new toy. It's a sort of kitty punching bag.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

March 5 in history

Happy birthday to my big brother - always the trendsetter.

And happy blog-iversary to me. Get A Grip On It has been serving up pictures and commentary for a year now. I have no desire to be a celebrity of the blogging world, but it's been fun having a conversation with old friends and new through the miracle of 21st century technology.

Thanks for visiting, and I'll be back in a day or two with the usual array of cat and yarn pictures. Deal with it.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Another Saturday night

It's raining tonight, and we have even had a little bit of thunder and lightning. Our backyard groundhog, Chuckie, had not made his spring appearance yet, but it is probably just a matter of time.

Meanwhile, indoors...

The kitty abuse continues.

I took the long-suffering "fish scale" sock to a meeting tonight and added a few rows. It occurred to me that I have not shown an updated picture of it for quite awhile.

I love the yarn, love the pattern, and love the way it is working up, but I've had a heck of a time keeping it on my priority list. The cool thing about traditional top-down socks, though, is that when you get past the fiddley bits - turning the heel and decreasing for the instep - you are halfway down the foot. This sock only has a couple more inches before the toe decreases start. It won't be long until this baby is off the sticks - but, of course, I will then have to cast on another one and do it all over again.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I gave it up for Lent

I am not now, nor have I ever, associated with an organization that required me to make a Lenten sacrifice. That was just fine with me. I'm terrible with resolutions of all sorts. All of the planning and anticipation gives me the heebie jeebies. If I want to make a profound change, I pretty much have to wake up one morning and say, "Okay, today I start..." doing whatever.

And Lent! For years I have watched one of my co-workers give up chocolate, knowing full well that in a few days someone is going to deliver the four boxes of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies she ordered last month. She knows what is coming, and she picks chocolate every year just the same.

But a couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking that maybe a little sacrifice, a little discipline, might do me good this spring. Terry and I talked about it, and he agreed that it sounded like a good idea. He is giving up Maelstrom, an asteroid-shooting game for Linux.

I have given up:
  • Potato chips - just because they are in the vending machine, doesn't make them breakfast food.
  • Watching E! News - get a subscription to US, because I won't know who Paris is dating this week.
  • One other thing that is just between me and God.
After two days, I am pleased to report that all are going well.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What kind of knitter am I?

This comes to me from Amy, KnitWit, brand new blogger, and yarn enabler extraordinaire. How much of an enabler is she? She bought a van so it would be easier to take a gang on yarn crawls. (Oh, she says it is because of the dogs, but we know the truth.)

Knitting Guru
You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting and do it all the time. While finishing a piece is the plan, you still love the process, and can't imagine a day going by without giving some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation involves leaving ample space for the stash and supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn ends and you begin.


What Kind of Knitter Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Commentary: I don't knit all the time, and I am not a process knitter, but I do take knitting on vacation. I don't see myself as a guru, but others do. I owe that to my common sense approach to the sticks. Once you've learned to knit and purl, there is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it. So no whining about "double points look hard" or "I could never do cables." It's only knitting. It's not like anyone dies if you screw it up. Rip it out and try again.