Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Major Award

Though no diligence of my own, I won a prize drawing on the Never Not Knitting blog. I couldn't get a good picture of it because it is cloudy and dreary here today. Just go to Alana's blog to see everything. The yarn, especially, is squee-worthy - shiny and soft and squeezable. Thank you, Alana!

The sweater, meanwhile, has been stalled, for reasons about which I do not feel at all guilty. The body is worked up to the armhole, though, and a little bit beyond that. I feel like a major part of it is out of the way, and I hope to be able to get back to it soon. In fact, it is supposed to be cold and icky this weekend, so that may be a good time. Whenever that day comes, I will freshen up the photo gallery.

While I haven't been knitting, I have been spinning.


I bought this fiber on a lark, but I really love the way the color changes happen in it. The spindle is packed full, though, so I have started winding this batch off. It is taking FOREVER.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Cafe Bastille, day 4
Originally uploaded by chaimann
My decision to knit a sweater this month seems to have been a good one. I'm having a blast and making good progress. This photo was from a couple of days ago, and shows one repeat of the Trellis motif. I now have two repeats done, so it's double this size. The body of the sweater will have about 5.5 motifs, so I am well on my way.

I've been wanting to try NaKniSweMo for at least a couple of years, but kept getting sucked in by writing instead. I'm glad I switched this year. The other two sweaters I have knit have taken me YEARS to finish, because I lose interest and ignore them for months. The deadline on this one, even though self-imposed, has kept me focused on the task. The sweater promises to be really warm, and I'm looking forward to having it when the snow flies.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Good effin' luck with that

In a few more hours, it will be November 1, and the beginning of NaNoWriMo 2011. I've participated several times, with varying degrees of success, but this year I am begging off.

My friend Aser said of my intentions to bail out--

Cheryl (...) refuses to do it. In fact, her slogan for the rest of us who do make the attempt is, "Good effin' luck with that."

I justify my decision thusly:

  • I complain constantly while I do it. Ask my husband.
  • I have never produced a first draft worthy of polishing into a real novel.
  • By the time December comes, I hate writing. Really, really hate it.
It's the last one, especially, that keeps convincing me that this is the right choice for me.

By now, though, I am completely accustomed to thinking of November as the month to take on a big and slightly crazy challenge. After weighing several ideas, I've decided that my official crazy challenge will be to knit a sweater in November. I've been eying Cafe Bastille Cables ever since I (re)started knitting, and even bought yarn for it a few years ago. Now, I think, is the time. I knit my gauge swatch this afternoon, and I should be ready to cast on tomorrow.

I won't be leaving writing behind completely. My friend K just received a response from an editor with specific ideas to incorporate in re-writing one of her novels. Because of this, she is ditching Nano and working on editing/rewrites. Since several of the things the editor mentioned are also observations I have made, I have appointed myself her drill sergeant. We are tentatively planning a writing retreat in a couple of weeks, and if the knitting is on schedule, I will try to take a writing break for myself.

Whether you are Nano-ing or setting yourself another challenge this month - Good effin' luck with that!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer's last gasp

Originally uploaded by chaimann
It was blustery last week, and we even had a couple of light freezes. Apparently the house protected the little rose bush from the worst of the north wind. Yesterday afternoon, it was covered in blossoms.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

This week's excuse

I've whined here about how I should spend more time blogging and less time Facebooking, to little effect. Recently, though, Holly pointed out that October is National Blog Writing Month (or National Blog Posting Month, depending on which way you swing). She followed that up with a witty post where she infused a common daily activity with tons of drama. "I could do that," I thought.

First, I just needed to pop in to see the dentist about a mild toothache. It had been worse over the weekend (naturally, when every dentist office in town is closed), but was barely noticeable yesterday morning. I was expecting, "We need to replace that filling," or "It looks like you have a crack - have you been eating almonds again?" But no. To summarize his diagnosis, "That wisdom tooth needs to go, and that tooth next to it isn't looking so hot, either. Here's the number for the oral surgeon."

I wasn't all that surprised that the wisdom tooth - my sixth, and last - was the culprit. I knew it was sitting up there, impacted, and would probably have to go someday. I called the oral surgeon's office, expecting to get an appointment in a few days, but instead was told, "We can get you in at 1:00."

Five hours after my first appointment, I was minus two teeth and dropping off a prescription at the pharmacy, trying desperately not to look desperate for the meds. Then I went home and dipped into my good meds from a previous illness, and that helped me keep my cool for the rest of the day.

I'm doing better today. There isn't a lot of pain, but I'm sort of groggy. Apparently, I didn't sleep as well last night as I thought.

And that is why I didn't blog yesterday.

Friday, September 03, 2010


Originally uploaded by chaimann
This dish of buckeyessits in the Garst farmhouse at Whiterock Conservancy, Coon Rapids, IA, where it is VERY windy. Autumn, it has arrived.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Still trying to photograph ink samples

This sample is a little better than the previous one. I'm still having trouble getting the green to show up - proving, I suppose, how subtle the color really is.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: J. Herbin Ink, Vert Empire

Awhile back, inspired by Chas Wallace over at The Piker Press (this review in particular), and bored at the mall while T got a haircut, I decided to buy a fountain pen. The managing editor of the Press knows this, in part because I keep sending postcards to her house, just as an excuse for using my nice pen for something besides scribbling sticky notes at the office.

When the nice folks at Jetpens offered to send her some inks for review, she kindly passed one of them along to me, with the disclaimer, "I think it's green." That was okay with me. I have wine, turquoise and purple inks in my small collection, and green would make a nice addition.

J. Herbin Vert Empire

The ink she sent me is J. Herbin Vert Empire. Empire Green, I determined from my rusty college French. J. Herbin should know about empires. According to their web site, this French company has been making ink since 1670. Louis XIV used their ink, as did Victor Hugo. Judging from the color sample on the top of the box, this ink would be a deep, solid, green.

The bottle is square and squat. Unlike some other ink bottles, I felt confident that this one was not likely to tip over if the cat whacked it with her tail while I was mid-fill. It also has an indentation at the front of the bottle - a pen rest. If you are using the ink with a dip pen, that is probably quite handy.

As I started writing with the pen, I was a bit disappointed in the color of the ink. It was a little more grayed out than I expected, more of a dark olive green. It wasn't a bad color, just different.

Vert Empire writing sample

After a few days, though, the color started to grow on me. Sometimes it looks more gray than green to me. In fact, it was hard to photograph the writing sample so that the green showed very clearly. It photocopied well, and the color was subtle enough that I had no qualms about using it to sign documents or write checks. The ink is water-based, but it survived my low-tech attempt to remove it from a piece of paper. It is also supposed to be light-fast.

Feathering and drying times varied, depending on the paper. In the sample above, it feathered far less than the black Uni-ball in the comparison. On decent journal paper, it dried within a second or two, but on regular office copier paper, it took six or seven seconds.

This seems to be a good-quality ink, and if you are looking for a signature ink color that is not too flashy, Vert Empire might do the trick.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Tiny Turk

I know, I know. Bad blogger, no cookie. It's truly sad that I have gone almost 5 months without a post. It's sad that I've had a couple of comments awaiting moderation since June. But then, they came in three months after the post, so I'm not alone in my tardiness.

Sometimes I just get out of the habit of public self-reflection. Sometimes I get busy. And sometimes I spend my free time doing other stuff.

This month, I have been spinning. You know, yarn. Spinners have taken to adopting the time of the Tour de France as their own Tour de Fleece. Participants strive to spin every day that the Tour rides.

I decided it was time to put up or shut up about learning to spin. I "learned" several years ago, but my progress has been sporadic. Just like many things, you need to practice regularly in order to improve. What a concept.

I jumped in with with abandon this time, and finally, something clicked. I finished my yarn from last year (at left, below). I tried some new fibers and new techniques. I made some mistakes, and I learned some things. I got comfortable enough that I have kept spinning even after the event is done.

Tour de Fleece 7/36/2010 - Final day

As my own personal reward, I ordered a tiny Turkish spindle on from Threads Thru Time on Etsy. It arrived today, and oh my, is it cute!

You can see in the first two photos on the left how it is in three pieces. That is interesting because once the yarn is spun and wound onto it (center photo), you can just remove the arms and have a nice little center-pull ball of yarn.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


T checked as soon as he got home from work. Apparently our friends from the city figured out how to remove the deer.

I hate finding dead wildlife on the property, especially if they are regular visitors. Even if I've only watched them from the window, I feel like we are friends. I'm a sap that way.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Ah, homeownership!

Remember when I posted that a deer was spending hours hanging around our shed, and I wondered if it was sick or injured? And it finally wandered off?

Well, it came back, and it ain't wandering off this time.

I opened the blinds when I got home from work, and there was the deer lying in the classic dead-deer position, at the usual spot in front of the shed. T went out and checked, and it is indeed dead.

Then we hemmed and hawed about what to do. I mean, you can't just bag up a dead deer like you can a groundhog. Fortunately, a little web searching turned up a city number we could call, and they have a contractor that will come pick up dead animals.

The contractor called to ask questions about the corpse in question. Where is it? Will one person be able to move it? T replied, just a tad brusquely, to the second question, "I don't know. I've never had to move a deer."

They are supposed to come pick up the deer tomorrow. I hope so. Seeing it outside my window harshes my vibe.

In other "news", if you want to call it that, Friday marked five years that I have had this blog. As you can see, it has languished recently. It seems like there is always some new shiny spot on the intrawebs battling for attention. It's easy to dump a bunch of photos on Flickr, or make a quick comment on Facebook, but it misses some of the narrative storytelling that is possible in a blog.

We hear about kids having shorter attention spans because of the fast pace at which information can move, but I see myself in that, as well. I've been thinking about how I can slow down a bit, and give more attention to quality than to quantity. Maybe this is a place to start.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Our latest shed animal

Originally uploaded by chaimann
Long-time readers of this blog will recognize our garden shed, background for many photos, and temporary shelter to numerous animals over the years.

This was a new one.

We took a few pictures and then went off to a meeting.

Four hours later, the deer is still out there. Now we are wondering if it is injured or ailing. There is a hole nearby, courtesy of Chuckie, and it could have stepped in it and injured a leg. It doesn't seem agitated or frightened, though.

Any animal people have any suggestions?

Update:By midnight, the deer had wandered off. Animal lover angst averted. Whew.