Argh, I’ve been feeling so busy, I have been wanting to take lots of pictures of stuff and knit and blog but I haven’t had a chance. A few of the things that have been occupying my time–pictureless, because I’m just taking a break from work:

Non-yarny stuff:

– Work and class (The Anthropology of Tourism. Lots of readings.). Not much to say about that, except that our last reading was about Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi as a postmodern, hyperreal tourist destination/Baudrillard simulacra. I was simultaneously interested in the ideas and annoyed with the ivory tower uselessness of critical theory. I bet this comes from being the daughter of an engineer and a literature professor–I swing between attraction to the useless-but-fascinating and the practical-but-uncreative. Also, I’m doing an extra job this month for the business school, so I spent last Friday night from 8:30 to midnight grilling undergrad business students about the idea they were trying to sell me.

– Biking in the midst of blazing fall colors and hunting for mushrooms in the Brown County woods. The trees are all kinds of orange and yellow and red right now–much better than last year, when they had just started to turn and then a big storm blew all the half-turned leaves off the trees. It rained last week but was dry last weekend, so we thought it would be a good time to go mushroom-hunting. We were looking for chicken of the woods mushrooms and found two huge yellow shelf mushrooms–one of them weighed probably 20 pounds!–but decided we didn’t have a positive ID on either one, and threw them away. At least we got some nice bike rides and hiking in.

– Making vodka apple pie. I found information about a new pie crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated from one of my regular blog reads (but now I can’t remember who! sorry). It uses vodka instead of water to moisten the pie crust, under the theory that gluten doesn’t form in alcohol, only in water, so you create much less gluten in the crust by moistening with vodka. The crust came out pretty well–very buttery, no taste of alcohol. However, the dough was super-soft and friable, and fell apart when I tried to weave the lattice top like I usually do. I used dark red Winesap apples and the “Apple Pie I” and “Flaky Pie Crust” recipes from The Joy of Cooking, substituting vodka for the ice water in the pie crust. Jeanne brought over some Musgrave cider she had fermented and we had an appleicious evening.

– Sewing. I’m trying to follow a sewing pattern for the first time: I fell in love with this dress called Shari from Burda Style, and armed with some cheap fabric remnants, I’ve been diligently working my way through the pattern and its puzzling assembly instructions. I also learned how to use the bobbin winder on the sewing machine Rahul’s mom gave me. Yay! Figuring out the zipper foot is going to be a whole new world of frustration, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. The main body of the dress is red cotton with white polka dots. The lining and yoke insert are a white cotton with tiny white circles printed on it. (The print reminds me a lot of quinoa.) In theory, if the piping doesn’t defeat me, it will be trimmed in turquoise–turquoise bias binding piping and some turquoise ribbon with red flowers for the edge of the skirt. I find sewing a very tedious process, even though it takes much less time than knitting. All that cutting out of pieces and ironing and sewing and threading and rethreading the machine… it may produce nice finished objects, but the process is not nearly as soothing as sitting down with needles and yarn.

– Buttons. I experimented with polymer clay picture transfers the other night (another good use for vodka) and made the most fabulous dodo buttons. I am going to find something small and round to use to cut them out, and make a whole set. I think I might use the two buttons I made for another Giftblitz Basketweave Neckwarmer.

– Tonight I’m going to canoe on Griffey Lake in the moonlight, tomorrow I’m going to a Halloween party, and on Saturday I’m going to see the Dalai Lama give a talk.

– I finally got the new Terry Pratchett book, Making Money, from the library! I was like 10th in line on the holds list. I can’t wait to quietly hole up somewhere and read this.

Yarny stuff:

– I finished my Ming cowl and I’m wearing it now, unblocked. It’s lovely!

– I got some buttons for my Jess jacket. I dragged Rahul to Jo-Ann and he helped me pick them out–silvery/pewter reproduction antique buttons molded with a posy of daisies. They only had 4, so I’m going to have to go back for a 5th one in about a week. When we were at Jo-Ann buying the buttons, we saw a saffron-robed Tibetan monk carrying a big roll of red fabric to the cutting table for replacement robes. I love Bloomington.

– I have been swatching and adjusting charts, and I think I’ve sorted out the lace charts I’ve been working on and will hopefully have produced a finished object from them soon. Why is “no stitch” such a bitch to figure out? I guess technically I could just put them anywhere I want on the chart, but I feel like that’s bad form. Still not sure I’ve placed the “no stitch” symbols optimally, but you live and you learn.

– Robynn sent me the most beautiful shawl pin as a Storytellers spot prize. Thank you so much, Robynn–it’s perfect, I love it! I need to take some pictures of it with my Lara sweater and/or my Sea Silk Swallowtail shawl. (The shawl really deserves a better photoshoot than what I’ve given it so far.)

– I signed up for a Knit Picks sampler a while back on Ravelry. The idea was that you would send in a skein of yarn to the organizer and she would make a little card with snips of each contributor’s yarn so you could see samples of all the different types without paying for all the color cards or sample skeins. Then you would get your leftovers back at the end. The cranberry Decadence on the sample card is especially lovely, but I think they discontinued it–I don’t see it on the site anymore. Anyway, I started laughing when I opened the package because it contained a note attached to a mangled Gordian knot of alpaca laceweight: “Sorry, my cat got into your yarn. Here is $5 so you can buy some more.”