Friday, October 31, 2008

So close....

The election is SOOO close! Only a few days to go.

I've taken off work for Tuesday, so I can spend all of Monday and Tuesday volunteering for Obama and friends. I may devote most of my effort to Nels Ackerson's campaign, since he's really close and I'd like to see him win. But we'll see what's needed on Election day.

Today there was a nice meeting with Indiana's own junior Senator, Evan Bayh. Evan was Governor when I worked at the state legislature, and always seemed like a nice guy. He's out stumping for Obama now, which is impressive, since Obama sort of replaced Bayh as the Democratic party's up-and-coming fellow. He gave a nice little talk, and then took questions. I asked him about the statements that the President can't do anything, that all the power is with Congress, so the campaign promises don't mean anything. Bayh responded that there's a lot the President can do to set the tone for Congress, and that he can try to work with Congress to accomplish few mutually agreeable things early on, and set a good precedent of cooperation.

What's really impressive about Senator Bayh is that he asked about my sock, and was willing to hold it for a picture!

So was John Polles, who's running for the state legislature. John is on the Purdue faculty, and is a really friendly fellow - I'd really like to see him get elected. He's running against an Evil Developer, so I'd really, really like to see him get elected! And, well, he respects the sock. That's always a good thing, right?

It's been dubbed the "lucky sock." So now I'm feeling the pressure to get it finished for Election Day! I think I'll make it - and then I'll feel the pressure to pick some Election Day knitting!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Finger

I had a small bit of surgery today - removing a pyrogenic granuloma from my middle finger. According to the doctor, I can do anything I want to do while recovering.

Typing sort of works. I'm being reminded pretty regularly that the "E" key is struck with the middle finger, so in a way it's the most awkward to lose. But I can type with 9 fingers, and I'll just have to make sure I don't create any permanent bad habits.

I'm not so sure about knitting. I hope I don't have any trouble, since I haven't finished my Election Day socks yet.

And while I'm not a doctor, I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once. So I feel I can safely determine that dishwashing is contraindicated here. Along with most other housework. I'll be living off frozen food and paper plates for the next few days.

But at least I don't have to wear a lampshade around my head.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Doggie Dignity

is pretty seriously compromised when the dog won't stop licking himself.

Poor Max has an infected hotspot. Which means that poor Max bears a striking resemblance to a torchiere lamp right now. A rather angry torchiere lamp.

Also a rather puzzled one. He's still figuring out that he can't lick himself.

Oscar is fascinated by the whole thing. He seems to think the lampshade collar makes a dandy chew toy.

The dogs' day was made brighter by a package delivery. Not only did they get petted by the mail carrier, but they got a box of toys from my sister!

See this Oscar the Grouch toy? The one by Max? That's the one she bought for Oscar.

And SuperGrover here is meant for Max.

I can't imagine they could read the note, so how did they know to steal each other's toys?

Dogs are weird.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Doggie Zero

Johnny got a Zero!
He got another Zero!
Johnny got a Zero! Today!
- Don Christopher and Merle Kilgore

Fill in "Laura" for "Johnny" here - I have my Zero, and I'm definitely ready to shout "Hooray!"

My Zero Dog is finished - in plenty of time for Christmas and Halloween!

Can you get more adorable than this? He was a time-consuming project; all single crochet. I made a few changes from the original pattern - a smoother tail, bigger ears, and smaller eyes. I'm in the process of knitting him an i-cord collar, so he'll look more like the original. But I think he's a pretty close match to the real ghostly thing.

He's a pretty close match to someone else, too. If Oscar ever gets invited to a Halloween party, we'll just have to paint him white and he'll be ready to go.

My timing on this one turns out to be amazingly good. We can't pretend the fall and winter holidays aren't approaching anymore - tonight's supposed to bring the first frost of the season.

So we picked all the remaining tomatoes. I'm not sure what one does with a bunch of green tomatoes, but picking them made more sense than letting them die on the vine. I hope some of them will ripen inside.

And there was a magical bit of summer remaining - two ripe strawberries. I'd been keeping an eye on one all week, and was pleasantly surprised to find there were really two! It felt more than a little strange to put on a winter coat to go pick strawberries, but I'll savor that taste for a long time!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nice to See

This brought joy to my heart today. These are students waiting to vote. Hundreds of them. Thousands, even, over the three days we've had early voting on campus. The line extends around a corner to include at least as many more people as are here - I saw a "20 minutes from this point" sign that had as many people behind it as in front of it.

Early voting had more excitement than I've seen at polling places on many election days. I remember being a poll worker and having people walk in off the street and say "oh, there's an election today?" No danger of that happening here.

My buddy Nels was out, spending three days in the cold shaking hands and giving interviews.
Ok, he's not really my buddy, but he did hold my sock. And I hope soon I'll be calling him "my Congressman," which sounds much more respectable.

Then there were the tables. And the signs. And the chalk signs. All the decorating of campus made the Homecoming preparations pale in comparison. The Democrats had this great table, with pamphlets and stickers and buttons and all the candidate love and information you could possibly want. The Republicans had one on the other side - I probably should've stopped to pick up something for My Man Mitch.

So it was a great and festive day, celebrating the joys of local and national democracy. I really need to get out and do more campaign work - time's getting short. And I'm getting hopeful. Not optimistic - but hopeful.

Need a bit more Obama love in your day? Check out these funny videos from Jews4Change.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dumpling Done

According to Mona Lisa Smile, it used to be every girl's dream to own a washer and dryer. A Wellesley education was all well and good, but true satisfaction could only be found with domestic appliances. I'm tempted, right now, to think they were right.

About 1:00 this morning, I decided that none of the plans I had brewing for machine-felting my dumpling bag were likely to work out anytime soon, so I might as well go ahead and finish it. That meant spending 30 minutes over a dishpan full of hot water, thinking about how nice it would be to own a washer and dryer. Is it weird that the only time I think about wanting my own washing machine is when I have something to felt? Well, it would be good for washing socks, too - you can't trust them to the laundromat, but they tend to make it through the delicate cycle. might also help with dyeing, which would make a washing machine a very practical home appliance!

So 30 minutes, sore arms, and some seriously dry skin later, here's the finished product. I was afraid that it wasn't felting enough while I was working - it looked like I could still see the knit stitches - but it seems to be in good shape now.

You can see that it stands up on its own. Max thinks that's pretty cool!

So now I'm free to devote my attention to finishing the embroidery on Dumpling #2. It's about the same size as #1 was before felting, so now I have some sense of what to expect. I can't find the second yarn that was supposed to go into Dumpling #3, so it may be on hold for awhile. I'll just have to decide if I want to finish other projects, or start Dumpling #4. Yum!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quest for the Rings

I mentioned earlier that I've fallen irrationally in love with the Dumpling Bag.

So irrationally, that I now have no fewer than three dumplings in various stages of progress. And no plans to stop.

But I may have to get over my affection for this cute little design, because it's proving nearly impossible to complete. All because of a few little rings. The Dumpling Bag requires two rings for the handle. Two small, decorative rings that can handle the felting process. The pattern calls for Lucite rings that are "available at most bead stores," but I've checked bead stores in three cities with no luck.

These are my best alternatives. The upper left package is glass ring beads - nice, but I think they're a bit two small. Upper right is some plastic rings - they're not quite as ugly as the white ones, but they're still not the attractive things I'd wanted for my bag. On the lower left is a set of rings from the Ding-a-Ling's bin of ancient beads - I suspect they may be '80s vintage. They may work, but they're a plated plastic, so I don't know how well they'll hold up, and I'm not sure the fake gold is the look I want for all my Dumplings. The last package is a set of rubber rings, which I've decided I'm not even going to try - they aren't big enough, or sturdy enough to work.

So I'm still looking. Maybe I haven't visited enough bead shops.

I have one nearly-complete Dumpling; this one using the gold rings. I think they'll work with this fairly Christmasy design. Now I have to decide if I want to felt by hand, or wait until I can get to a washing machine. Waiting would give me time to make more Dumplings, which is pretty desirable, but there's something to be said for seeing results soon. Either way, watch this spot for more knit Dumplings. And maybe the edible kind, in celebration.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SP 12 Reveal

I'm back home, and remembered to bring my camera with me, so that means I can show this:

My final package from my SP12 Pal!

There's a teddy bear from California's Governor's Council on Physical Fitness - that's right, get fit with Arnold! Then there are some yummy bath products, and some beautiful blue and orange yarn. I have more handspun!

This stuff is a cabled yarn - which my pal thought I'd know about, but I didn' now I have yarn and I've learned something. Basically, it's two 2-ply yarns spun together to make a 4-ply yarn. It's very nice.

So now you want to know who's responsible for all this great stuff? I couldn't wait to find out, either! My lovely SP12 pal is BrookeKnits, from California. She's a dog lover, too, and she has a quite a sense of fun, as some of the anonymous comments here will reveal. She also knits Socks for Soldiers - which I've been meaning to do, but never actually done. Now you can help me get started, Brooke! And thank you!

My project lately has been dog ears. Not turning down the corners of library books - trying to come up with the perfect crocheted dog ear. The ear on the right is according to the pattern for my Zero dog. I think it's a bit too long and skinny, so the one on the left is my revised design. I've been trying to get the VeryBadDogs to hold still and model, but they're really not interested in getting involved with a knitting project in a helpful way. So this is a best guess.

I have just half an ear and a pumpkin nose to go, and then Zero will be finished! In plenty of time before Halloween!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Long weekend, long knitting

It's our fall break, so I'm taking advantage of the chance to visit Aaron without having to rush back to work. Of course, I brought some knitting.

I'm making progress on the Zero scarf. Except that it's not a scarf anymore - it's more of a ghostly lap blanket, or maybe a toy. I was worried about running out of white Cascade 220, although a trip to Ewe Knits on Saturday fixed that.

Ewe Knits, by the way, is a lovely yarn shop. They've actually improved their location by moving to a strip mall - I saw their old spot in "uptown Normal," and it's the part of town that looks like it's recovering from air raids, or 50 years of communism. The strip mall means you get parking, too. They don't have a giant selection, but it's adequate for most knitting needs, and the people there are friendly. Friendly is a big plus in a yarn store.

Anyway, Zero is progressing, enough that he can be held up and compared to Oscar, who seems to be the living model for this ghostly dog. The body is finished, but I'm going to have to rip out the tail and re-do it, as it curls far too much. This might not be a problem if I did the scarf-like body I originally planned, but I've really lost my enthusiasm for rows of single crochet.

But I haven't lost my enthusiasm for yarn. How could I, when I was just surprised with new yarn?!? Aaron's mother went to Ireland with her sisters last month, and brought back goodies. Fibery goodies, for me!

There's 400g of Aran-weight wool. I suspect that's enough for a nice toasty shawl, or at least some lovely winter accessories. I'll figure that out later - right now this is Yarn For Petting (but not for pets. Leave it alone, dogs!)

And there's this nifty wall hanging with Aran sweater patterns. So I'll have something to hang up for inspiration - and maybe to slow down the drafts until I get more knitting done. Today is probably going to be the last nice day we have -it's going to drop from the 80s today to the 60s tomorrow. So it's time to break out the winter knitting. Just as soon as I finish Zero.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sharing Secrets

I got a wonderful package today from my SP 12 pal! She sent some fabulous and fun goodies, and the dogs were thrilled because they got thoroughly petted by the mail carrier, once I convinced her that they don't really want to bite anyone.

But I can't show off any pictures of all these great goodies, because my camera is still in Illinois. So I'll let the post where I say a bunch of nice things about my secret pal wait until I retrieve the camera next week. Believe me, nice things are coming.

Since the Secret Pal secrets are out now, I can share something I'm ridiculously proud of - these mini socks, which I made for my Secret Pal. She mentioned that she was just learning to knit socks - and, well, I thought that was something to be encouraged. Some people might even say I have something of an obsession with sock knitting.

So I did these, a baker's dozen of mini socks, to fit on a mini sock blocker keychain. Each one is labeled with its yarn, to help her decide what sort of socks she wants to knit next. I included a ball of Tofutsies with the package, just to offer a little further guidance - not that there aren't lots of other nice sock yarns in my closet available, but I'm quite fond of Tofutsies.

This was a good project for me, too. I learned that it takes about an hour to knit a small sock. I also learned that I really need to get going on sock knitting, because quite a few of these are made from stash yarns that I hadn't used yet. Now I know what I'm looking forward to, and I can't wait. Boy oh boy, the Jitterbug is going to be fun. And the Cherry Tree Hill. And the bamboo.

But all of those will wait. Now my attention turns to my HSKS 6 knitting, and my Zero dog, and one or two other projects. Maybe three.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


This weekend was Illinois Wesleyan's Homecoming, so I went over for the festivities. We didn't go to the game, and I never made it to the local yarn stores, but there was still plenty of fun.

I got up nice and early Friday morning, so I could get there in time for a "Back to School" talk by Dr. Stephen Ondra, one of Barack Obama's health care advisers. While the "Audacity" sock hasn't gotten to meet its candidate yet, I put some rows in during the lecture, so that's sort of a brush with fame by proxy. Not a bad start.

On Saturday the campus hosted an art fair, but somehow I didn't get any pictures. We managed to get through without buying anything, but saw some neat stuff. Paintings, drawings, and photography seemed to be the most popular, but there was also some pretty impressive papercraft that left me glad I'd spent all my cash at the farmers' market.

And what do you do on a Saturday night in a tiny Midwestern town? Oktoberfest!

Yes, the Medici restaurant in Normal held its first-ever Oktoberfest last night. No, I don't know why a restaurant with an Italian name celebrates Oktoberfest. But they had pretzels.

And beer that was bigger than my sock.

And a somewhat unusual oom-pah band. Not a grey-haired old guy to be seen in this crowd. They only knew about four songs, none of them the traditional favorites one might expect, like the chicken dance, the "Hogan's Heroes" music, or "Country Roads." But they did a pretty oom-pah-ish version of Brahms' Lullaby. And the really big beers were cheap.

Since it's just the first weekend of the month, perhaps we can count on other restaurants to do Oktoberfests later. Maybe something Mexican?