Sunday, January 22, 2012

Did Someone Say Roller Derby?

Look at that - you go without blogging for a year and all sorts of things happen.

Like joining a Roller Derby team.

For those who've missed the revival, yes, it's back.  Roller Derby - the biggest, baddest fad of the '30s, '40s, '50s, '70s, '80s, and 1999 is back - but this time it's all real, (almost) all-girl, and wilder than ever! (Except without the alligators.)  Starting around 2001, Roller Derby has been re-invented as a flat track  contact sport, and now there are over 1,000 leagues all around the world.  I joined one of them last April.  So I spend a couple evenings a week practicing skating, blocking, and hitting other skaters, preparing to skate against other leagues - and I spend almost all of my free time thinking about Roller Derby, talking about Roller Derby, surfing websites about Roller Derby, traveling to Roller Derby bouts, or being otherwise preoccupied with Roller Derby.  In that way, it's kind of like knitting, but with more bruises.

There's even some crossover.  One of the skaters from the Naptown Roller Girls of Indianapolis, Joan of Dark, has a book called Knockdown Knits: 30 Projects from the Roller Derby Track, full of knitting patterns for the derby skater or fan.  Here's one of the projects - the Know Your Jammer hat.  (The Jammer, the skater who scores points for her team, is identified by a helmet cover with a star.)  This is a fast knit and funky construction for a hat - it's knit flat with an intarsia star, then seamed up the side.  I have a feeling I'm going to be knitting a lot of these.

So, that's what's slowed down my knitting, and my blogging, and pretty much everything else.  But it's helped me roller skate a lot faster!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A New Leaf

It's been awhile since I've updated this blog, hasn't it?

Planning to spend more time on the Internet probably isn't the greatest New Year's Resolution, but I think that's mine.  I'm going to get back to blogging - and knitting - regularly.  I've completed some projects, started many more, and tried my best to keep the VeryBadDogs out of trouble.

What's on the needles now?  This is my current favorite - the Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki.  It's a funny design - a triangle that begins in the center of the long side, and works out to knit the other two sides at the same time.  Short rows make the triangle lopsided, with wedge-shaped stripes.  I'm using Zephyr lace-weight yarn, purchased from Ursula's Alcove, one of my favorite SCA merchants.

I love the graphic, modern look of this shawl.  I'm thinking of adding a white stripe or two to the bottom, but I'll decide that when I come to it.  It's a great pattern, because it's easy to memorize, so it will be perfect for in-car knitting.

Many other things are or should be in progress, and I'll update those as I go.  Today I'll be spending a lot of time on my stripe shawl, as I'm off on a long trip with the Roller Derby team (see, there's a story there!)

Friday, January 06, 2012


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Wednesday, September 15, 2010


So, we had a lively time last night.

I've become a big fan of, an online community that matches products and customers.  Users can apply to host House Parties, where they'll share the contents of a party package provided by a company that wants to show off their product.  Last spring, we held a party to introduce the new "Bet You Know It" edition of Trivial Pursuit.

This time around, our party was sponsored by Sauza Tequila.   So I got a great party pack with a pitcher, margarita glasses, and coupons that let me get really cheap tequila.  We have a semi-regular girls' night out, so I invited everyone over for a corporate-sponsored get-together.  I made Tequila-Lime Chicken Tacos, all of the guests brought something yummy, and I made a "key lime" pie (the Cooks Illustrated version, which uses regular limes) for dessert.

We tried the Sauza margarita mix, and then had strawberry margaritas from a frozen mix (I'm sugaring glass rims here) for dessert.  I think everyone had a great time - I know I did!  Now I just have to figure out what we're going to do with all the leftover tequila.....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pennsic XXXIX

The most intimidating person I have ever met was my college Hebrew teacher. She stood all of 4'10", and was a sweet, grandmotherly woman with nothing but tender concern for her students. She was also utterly terrifying. One day I overslept and missed class - then skipped for another week because I was scared to go back. I'm not sure what would have happened, but a friend who was a year ahead of me realized exactly what I was doing, and told me I just need to jump in again.

The blog is a lot like that, without the terrifying part. I keep coming up with grand plans to catch up, but have realized that I should just jump in and pick up again. And so -

We went to Pennsic again this year. This was my ninth Pennsic - it seems like more, but I only had eight banners to hang on the tent.

Somehow, the preparations are getting easier. I've had these banners for years, but this was the first time I got them all finished so I could hang them. There weren't any seriously frantic last-minute projects. We had space left over in the car when we packed.

We even had time to make a stop on the way - at Grandpa's Cheese Barn in Ashland, Ohio. It was a tourist trap, but a tasty one - the provisions we picked up here nicely filled out our food supplies for the week. I think next year it will be a planned stop - maybe in both directions.

This was the first year I didn't see a single battle at Pennsic. In part, that was because I had to leave early to get home for a work meeting. In part, that was because it was really stinkin' hot and humid. But mostly, it was because there was too much fun stuff going on to spend time watching other people have fun.

One of the neatest textile things was this demonstration of silk reeling on Artisans' Row. This apparatus is based on a 16th-century silk reel, and the woman using it raises her own silkworms. She has a lovely blog devoted to all things buggy and silky.

This was the first time I'd been at a Pennsic with an Artisans' Row, and it was great. They had three tents set up as work space - each day, there was a vague theme for each tent, and people could come and teach and learn and work and show off and just have a good time. There were several fiber days, including one devoted to socks (lots of knitters here working on all sorts of things, not just socks).

I used the sock day as an excuse to start a pair of Pre-Literate Stockings. They don't look like much yet, but eventually I'll have a pair of toasty warm socks to wear at events. There was a great class on obscure knitting tools, and while I just caught the end of it I learned how to use a knitting pin to do Portuguese knitting. I've been switching back and forth on these stockings, and not getting any difference in tension. Right now, I seem to knit about as fast Portuguese-style as I do English-style, so I suspect that once I have some practice the Portuguese method will be considerably faster.

Artisans' Row also hosted a narrow-wares day, so after teaching two classes on fingerloop braids, I was able to share leftover handouts and supplies there. This is the absolute best site for learning about fingerloop braids. The authors have done all sorts of great research - although a lot of people say it's easier to learn hands-on. So I really liked having Artisans' Row.

The single coolest thing I bought - possibly from any Pennsic ever - was this set of veil pins from Acanthus Leaf Designs. These are perfect, spot-on copies of pins found in London. I was so excited when I saw them - and the maker was excited when she saw I was excited - so it was an exciting shopping trip!

I also bought a beautiful Turkish spindle from The Spanish Peacock,

And some dyed roving from Feeling Sheepish. It's going to be perfect for trying out my new spinning wheel.

"Spinning wheel? What? You have a spinning wheel?!?"

Yep. Aaron got me a spinning wheel for my birthday. So see, I have a lot of catching up to do.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another round -for me and Butler!

There's excitement all around in the VeryBadDog House

Just in case anyone's not paying attention to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Butler Bulldogs, a team from a school of 4,500, defeated the #1 seeded Syracuse Orange to go to the Elite Eight. It's nice to see the hometown team do well. Max is likely to become a basketball fan, as I did my best to secure Butler's victory tonight by feeding him orange segments, figuring he's sufficiently bulldog-like to bring good luck. And it worked - or something did. Max was more than happy to help, and would really appreciate it if the next opponent had a cheeseburger mascot.

I'll also be advancing to another round, for Sock Madness. I managed to finish the sideways socks at Knit Night on Tuesday, and even got in a little knitting on my sweater. We're told the next pattern will be coming out on Friday, so there's not much of a break. I'm glad they didn't seed us into a tournament bracket, because my performance was pretty unimpressive. I think I was second to last to finish - but finishing was all that mattered this time around. Next time, I have to finish fast.

So I'm grateful to Butler for getting so far into the tournament. It gives me a good excuse to sit and watch TV. Round 2, here I come!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Signs of Spring

I woke up this morning to find this, the first daffodil shoot. By lunchtime there were two others.

I hope there will be many more. Last fall I planted 50 daffodil bulbs, mostly in the front yard, so we're hoping they'll sprout. It's been a cold winter, so it's hard to know what will happen. Spring in a new house turns out to be something of a adventure, as we don't know what's going to pop up. It looks like we're going to have quite a few tulips, and some pretty little blue flowers are spreading from our neighbors' yard.

One thing we can be sure of is some sort of garden. Aaron went out yesterday and bought 700 pounds of rabbit droppings (you can find anything on Craigslist), intending to use them to fill a raised bed. There were so many that he built a second bed for them! I know he's planning all sorts of good things - tomatoes, greens, asparagus, rhubarb, peppers....and I really want to find space for some berries and some herbs. The first bed was composting all winter, so it should be ready for plants soon. Now we just have to get through these sunny days without giving in to temptation to plant too early - I think the last frost date is May 1. But I may have to start some seeds indoors so it will feel like spring - the sunshine makes it seem like it's really here!

(And yes, I'm still knitting the sideways socks. Picking up stitches for the heels and toes takes a long time, but I hope I'll be able to finish in time.)