Archives for category: disasters

I’m not sure if I mentioned this on the blog before, but I have been rock climbing for the last 6 months or so and really loving it. And “love” is really not a word I apply too often to any kind of athletic activity. But it is really fun–good strength training (and for me, decent cardio; after a few months of it, I found I could run about 4 times as far as before without getting winded), fun to work out strategies for how to get up the wall, customizable to your particular skill level, highly social but without the “oh God I’m letting everyone down” feeling that comes to utter non-athletes like me when getting involved in competitive team sports.

For many people, particularly my parents’ generation and older (since rock climbing before the 80s or so was the real deal… on rocks that can crumble or saw through your rope, not in a gym with plastic screw-on holds and padded floors), the reaction when I would mention this was “Wow, isn’t that dangerous?”

My hubris-filled reply: “Oh, it’s perfectly safe, it’s in a gym, on ropes, with a padded floor.”

I bet you see where this is going.

My friend Liz and I signed up for an Advanced Movement class at the gym and I was really excited about it. Finally, we would advance into new and wonderful realms of climbing! Moving in an Advanced way! Learning fabulous new skills!

The first class was basically a diagnostic where we were told to just climb normally, and the instructors would watch and get an idea of our climbing styles so they could tell us what we were doing well and what we needed to work on. So the doors of climbing enlightenment didn’t really crack open on Tuesday.

For the second class, last Thursday, we were supposed to pick out the routes we would be working on–a problem that was just above our skill levels to complete–and we would figure out how to do each piece of it until we could complete the whole thing in one smooth climb.  Finally! Soon we would be levitating up walls blindfolded, like true climbing masters.

I picked out an overhanging route set into a corner that I had gotten about halfway up before, and set out. I needed a few tries to get onto it, but I got past where I had been stuck before, and was doing some beautiful moves to get up past the trickiest part. I was doing great! Finally, I was at the very last move of the climb. I had to reach up really high along the overhanging face to get the next hold.

Facing the corner, I put my left foot on the left wall, right foot on the right overhanging wall, and executed a drop knee maneuver by dropping my right knee down, which should have given me a few more inches of reach on the right side.

Unfortunately, as I pushed up with my right leg towards the final hold of the climb, I felt a horrible wrenching sensation in my knee–aside from the horrific pain, when I briefly put my hand on it I could feel that something was very, very wrong. Pop! goes the kneecap. So I had an exciting ambulance ride visit to the emergency room, will be putting a good chunk of change towards my health insurance deductible this calendar year, and am stuck on crutches for probably 4-6 weeks… and will be out of the climbing gym for even longer. Plus, now that I have dislocated my kneecap once, I’m at a high risk for it happening again.

All this happened while I was “perfectly safe,” in my harness, on the rope, being held by a certified belayer. And I was doing a move I’d done before with no ill effects. I guess I just had my knee twisted a bit too far, or was just too forceful this time, or something.

As if to taunt me, the weather here has been gorgeous. Rahul took me on a walk down to the park the other evening (we’re only a couple of blocks away, but on the crutches, it probably took an hour to go a quarter mile) and it was just filled with people enjoying their knees, zooming past on Rollerblades or bicycles or just jogging along. Much like this scene from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, but substitute a working pair of legs for the bikes.

The possibility of getting lots of knitting done is basically my only consolation. At least I can bend my knee again so I can sit up in a chair again instead of having to lie flat on the couch or in bed like I’ve been for the past few days… not that I’ve gotten a lot of knitting done; I finally started my second Interlocking Leaves sock–the first one has been sitting around for ages, solitary and lonely–but I screwed up the instep so had to frog back about an inch of it already. Bah.

Anyway, so that this post is not all griping and gloom, here are some pictures of my latest finished object–another Latitude and Longitude hat, made for my friend’s 30th birthday. (Rav project link) I only had time to take some overexposed photos with the flash before packing it up to give to her, so forgive the photo quality. This was a stashbuster with only one color striping, on a black background–I made it with some leftover black wool, striped with odds and ends of Noro Kureyon and Malabrigo spit-spliced together into a continous strand wherever possible.



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Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, The Yarn Harlot, was in Madison on Saturday at the Madison Knit-In! She was great, as was the event overall–I just wish I had gotten there earlier so I could have spent some more time browsing in the marketplace. When I walked in, I immediately gravitated towards the Plucky Knitter’s piles of glowing cashmere and merino and was unable to tear myself away, so I spent about 90% of my time rubbing skeins of cashmere against my cheek and about 10% dashing through the rest of the marketplace looking at stuff.

And guess what, I won a door prize! The Yarn Stash Workbook. I walked in and as I was looking at my map, Gina, whom I’d met at the Harmony Bar knitting group, walked up to me and said “Guess what, you won a door prize!”

I made a beeline for the back of the marketplace and picked up my prize.

Wandered over to the Plucky Knitter where I met Miss Plucky Sarah herself and had a chance to ogle the Yarn Harlot’s fantastic handspun February Lady Sweater close up as she was talking to someone nearby.

Wrecked the budget I’d set for myself within the first 10 minutes of being there by picking up some semi-solid aran weight cashmere and being unable to put it back down.

Ran over to the Briar Rose Fibers booth–Mary couldn’t come, but she asked me to keep an eye out for some Briar Rose fiber, so I picked up some gorgeous huge bundles of BFL (spring green and icy blue).

Stopped to pet the angora in the Kimmet Croft stand, then grabbed a color card from Blackwater Abbey, whose yarns are sort of crunchy and rough but the colors are fantastic (and I love this free cardigan pattern, Faery Ring).

A couple of fellow knitters stopped me to ask about the Noro The Water is Wide scarf I was wearing. “Oh, and did you know you won a door prize?” they said. I had never met them before, but I guess they remembered my name and recognized it on the name tag.

It was 1 PM by then, so I rushed off to see the Harlot, completely missed out on the lunch that was included in my ticket (I did get a muffin and a Coke) and spent a happy couple of hours listening to the reasons knitters are awesome, and laughing my ass off over her story of getting locked out of a hotel room in Calgary while wearing only a pair of powder blue panties with the word “Cowgirl” written on them in lasso rope.

Here is Stephanie,

and here is a view of all the knitters behind me:

I actually didn’t have any mindless knitting on the needles, so instead I spent the time spinning on my new(ish) toy, a 1.2 oz. Jenkins Turkish spindle made of spalted tamarind wood (the fluff is some awesome Type B pygora from eXtreme Spinning):



Saw Jaala of Knitcircus on the way out (keep an eye out for their interview with the Harlot in their next issue!) “Hey, did you know you won a door prize?” she said.

I went and patiently waited in line to see the Harlot, got my copy of Knitting Rules! signed, and got a picture with Stephanie as well. See? I’m holding the sock! Yay!



Rahul had come to pick me up and he asked her if she would also sign his copy of The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, but she said she would only do it if she could sign it “Steven Pinker.” (Sadly, she didn’t follow through. Too bad. It would be even more valuable than a rare photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore.)

It was a really lovely way to spend a Saturday, and that’s lucky, because the rest of the day went rapidly downhill from there–we were headed to his parents’ house in southern Missouri for his spring break, but took a wrong turn along the way and only realized it when were were nearing O’Hare, with the end result being a 3-hour detour, a bunch of toll roads we had to pay for twice, a lot of grouchiness and yelling, and what should have been a 7.5 hour trip turning into an 11-hour ordeal that landed us in Missouri at about 3 AM.

Anyway, at least we’re here and relaxing with his parents now, and it’s about 10-20 degrees warmer here than it was in Madison–crocuses are out, lawns are green, star magnolia and forsythia bushes are flowering, and we don’t have to wear massive down jackets at all times. And hopefully the trip back will go more smoothly. (We are putting some serious thought into buying a GPS before we go back). We’re spending next weekend in Chicago with some friends, should be fun!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Erin Go Bragh, etc.

I will leave you with some Dutch commercials for a candy called Super Dickmann’s! These are really hilarious if you have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old, which apparently I do.

1, 2, 3.

The lady across the street backed her car into the side of ours this morning! At least our car still runs, but I really hate having to deal with car insurance stuff. Grr.

(Owls tomorrow.)

…because I got about halfway up the foot of my sock last night, decided tonight that I’d try it on, and realized it probably wasn’t a good idea to have lace on the SOLE of the sock as well as the instep. Frogging again. Bah.

A few new fun yarn things on the internet I looked at to cheer myself up:

The new Twist Collective is up! I’m especially fond of (read: absolutely crazy about) Sylvi, Heroine, and Broderie. And are Elli‘s Lotus Leaf mittens not an absolute work of art? I love the bright red against the semi-solid blue. I have to keep reminding myself that about 10 lbs of nearly-done sweater coat are waiting for me in the other room, whispering “buuuutton baaaaands…. buuuutton baaaaaands… kniiiiit meeeee…”

Knitpicks has a new website design!

And so does WEBS!

Planning for the winter holidays is kicking my butt. Rahul and I and my family are going to Asia around Christmas/New Year’s and have spent an ungodly amount of money and I don’t even have all my plane tickets yet. (We’re taking ELEVEN flights! It goes a little something like this: Madison-Chicago, Chicago-San Francisco, SF-Hong Kong, HK-Phnom Penh, PP-Siem Reap, SR-PP, PP-Hanoi, Hanoi-HK, HK-SF, SF-Denver, Denver-Madison.) I’ll get to see Angkor Wat, which is one of those places, like Petra, that I’ve always wanted to see, so it’s worth those extra 4 flights within Asia… but just barely. It’s just about a month and a half away, and I still need to get my visas and vaccinations and buy my plane tickets and book our hotels. Despite all the money and planning stress, I have faith that it will be an awesome vacation, and it will be a really nice getaway from the Wisconsin snow.

As if that weren’t enough stress, we’re also currently looking for housing for next fall. The search starts early around here. Some people randomly came up to my door today and said the property management company had said they could just “come by and took a look around.” I was pretty ungracious about this, but since I was actually showered and dressed, I let them in to take a quick look, and then called the property management company and gave them a piece of my mind about it.

I would be happy to stay where we are, but we’re pretty sure we can find someplace decent with cheaper rent, so we’re trying to find someplace new. The funny thing about this all is that we’re paying $200 a month less than what we paid for our crappo apartment in Berkeley 5+ years ago (the one with plywood doors and a Swamp Thing carpet and a nice view on Sunday mornings straight into the dump truck that would come take all the dog and cat corpses away from the vet hospital across the street). That was a bargain apartment, too, because it had been handed from tenant to tenant and so it had been rent-controlled for years.

I’m probably going to wind up making knitting nemeses or something by posting this, but I just came home from the weirdest Stitch ‘n’ Bitch of my entire life. Dude.

I’d been to this particular group once before. I’d made plans to meet up there this week with turtleknitter (Mary)–we were going back and forth between either meeting up on Thursday or going to the S’n’B tonight (Wednesday) to see the musician they’d booked. Apparently he’d come to play once before and a lot of people liked his show. Having listened to some clips on his MySpace page, I said I was interested in going to see him, so Wednesday it was.

I almost cancelled–I had a bunch of work to do by EOD today (spent a couple of hours finishing it up once I got home from knitting)–but decided no, I should make the effort to go see some live music and meet some new people.

The S’n’B is held in a very large local cafe with lots of different rooms. The concert was in a room all the way in the back. When I arrived, people were sitting around four tables arranged in a circle; on the other side of the room was a stage with folding chairs set up in front. I sat down, started chatting to the people around me, and not long after that it was time for the music to get going. The organizer of this S’n’B asked if we should perhaps either move to the chairs in front of the stage, or move the tables forward so they all faced the stage. Since yarn and coffee was already spread out everywhere, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm about either idea, and the musician ended up just sitting at a chair at the circle of tables.

He requested that perhaps we could all stop talking and quietly listen while he played, if that would be OK. I have to admit I was kind of put off by this, since I had come to the S’n’B pretty much specifically to socialize, and the postings about the concert hadn’t really made it clear that we weren’t supposed to talk at all. I guess I’m not sure whether the default at a concert should be talking or not talking, but I’ve been to a lot of coffeehouses over the years, worked in one in high school, and I’ve never been to one that demanded absolute silence from the audience. Usually the normal background activities go on during the music–talking, drinking coffee, studying, working–and if the musician is really good, people will shut up and listen.

The woman next to me kept talking to me and showing me her knitting. I admired (she had some great fingerless mitts made from Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky in a deep purple color, and a newly finished merino hat) and after the first song, we were admonished again by the musician: “please, it would be really helpful if you would not talk while I’m playing, it’s really, really distracting.”

“Well, it’s not like you even wrote that song yourself,” said the woman next to me (he’d just played a cover song).

“Well, this one is one I wrote myself,” he said, and went on playing.

So we sat quietly for a while and listened to the music. Mary came in, and sat down across from me–I sneaked over and gave her the skein of handspun I’d been saving for her:


(posed below alongside my new Sundara yarn:)

Mary had given me a huge chunk of this delicious purple Miss Babs BFL batt at our last spinning meet-up, so I thought it would be nice to give her the squooshy, lofty, pretty Navajo-plied handspun that the batt became. (As it turns out, it was great timing, since it was her birthday on Monday and I didn’t know! Happy birthday, Mary!)

I admired the mittens she was making vewy, vewy quietly and then went back to my seat.

The musician played a cover of “Androgynous,” by the Replacements, which I appreciated, and a fun song about sneakers. He apologized if he had sounded bitchy earlier, and told us he had been to Africa and “it’s amazing how it changes your life.”

After a bit, the musician took a break, and the organizer made an announcement that anyone who felt like talking should go into the other room before the music started up again. “It’s not just distracting for him to play, it’s distracting for us, who want to listen.”

I may be misquoting a little here, but this is the gist of what happened next:

The musician called out to the woman next to me, “You should try working on your attitude!”

She retorted, “Well, you should try working on your singing!”

He started talking about how his singing might be an acquired taste, and maybe you would have to have refined tastes and appreciate music in order to like it.

The organizer said to the woman next to me, “Go fuck yourself!”

And about half of us trooped off into the Talking Zone and the rest of the room arranged themselves adoringly before the musician for the rest of his set.

So, yeah. We got kicked out of the S’n’B for being too loud. And the organizer swore at us. It was really weird. Now I’m kind of afraid to go back! It wasn’t even that I was trying to make a statement about the music, or identify myself as a troublemaker… actually, I thought the guy’s music was nice; he sings and plays the guitar well. It was just that I came to S’n’B for socializing in general, and Mary and I had specifically made plans to meet up there to chat, and neither one of those goals was being met by the concert setup. But now I think I may have been blacklisted.

I also found out afterwards that the organizer is engaged to the musician, which would explain a lot about the interpersonal dynamics there.

It was just a very, very odd experience all around.

Amusingly enough, one of the people who left the room with us was an anthropology student who had come to the meeting because she had to write a paper about a group of people, and she had chosen to come observe a group of knitters in action. She had expected to write a fairly boring paper about a standard Stitch ‘n’ Bitch session–looks like she hit the anthropology jackpot.

On the bright side, I’m now about 4 inches into both sleeves for my Flicca coat. Soon, cuddly sweater coat goodness will be mine! I’ll have to decide soon if I want to close it with buttons or a belt or leather toggles (I’m leaning towards toggles, but I think they’ll be the most trouble to locate). It is pretty gigantic and heavy already (10 skeins in) and I can only imagine how heavy the versions on Ravelry knit in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky must be–I have both yarns in my stash, and RYC Soft Tweed seems pretty airy and lofty, while Yorkshire Tweed Chunky is much heavier and denser. I did the math and ten yards of RYC Soft Tweed weigh 5.7 grams, while ten yards of Yorkshire Tweed Chunky weigh 9.17 grams!

Edited to add a few corrections to clear things up as per some comments made by the organizer (Mackenzie), since it looks like I did misquote:

  • The person who was talking was talking loudly and yes, her comments were rude. I think that was already clear from the description of what she said, but just in case that wasn’t, there you go. I also missed reporting an additional bitchy/sarcastic exchange between her and the musician, which you can read about in Mackenzie’s comments below
  • I was wrong; it wasn’t the organizer who said “go fuck yourself,” but the person sitting next to her.
  • I accidentally gave the impression that the Africa comment had to do with asking people to be quiet, which it didn’t. I was just summing up the different things he said during the first part of the set. It was unrelated banter between songs and had to do with the content of one of the musician’s songs.
  • Mackenzie wasn’t the one who organized the show; the owners of the cafe did that.

I thought the day was off to a good start. Barack Obama won the nomination and gave a very gracious and eloquent speech (although Bush congratulated him on his win before Hillary did! Perhaps she still hasn’t–I haven’t checked). The sun seemed to have come out after the storms and tornado watch yesterday (there were sirens and everything! It was scary). I finished and blocked several knits. But alas, the day turned out to be rather Terrible, Horrible, No Good, and Very Bad.

A huge rainstorm came up early in the morning, while I was asleep and Rahul was out at the gym, and the rain got in through the screen of the patio door we’d left open for ventilation and soaked our carpet.

A Severe Thunderstorm hit town, with 60-mile-per-hour winds, pouring rain, brownouts, incredibly bright lightning, and the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard. Apparently it was producing nickel-sized hail elsewhere in the area. I unplugged my laptop and went to work in our bedroom for a while, where it seemed more safe and cozy than in the office.

I heard crashing from the kitchen, then some screams of “Help! Help me!” I scrambled up and across the house, into the kitchen. Another kitchen fire, roaring up from another saucepan.

This fire had considerably less comedic value than the last one. I couldn’t find the fire extinguisher (it was stowed behind the microwave). Rahul burned his hand on the pan when trying to put it out, dropped it on the floor, and left this mark on the linoleum. There goes our security deposit.

And I think I tore my right quadriceps muscle when I stumbled while running to the kitchen–the front of my thigh hurts like hell.

We were both grouchy after that. I really wanted to yell at him for setting the kitchen on fire again, but didn’t think it would be very productive to do so, so I left it at a few stern words about the low smoke point of extra virgin olive oil, and the dangers of overheating the pan. “It wasn’t that hot!” he kept insisting–but he had the temperature on the electric stove turned up to about 7 out of 9, and I never turn it above 5 unless I’m boiling water.

So I was mad at him, and then he came into the office where I was transforming this:

into this:

I had carefully asked him earlier where I could block this blanket for a day without causing him problems, and he said “in the office.” So I pinned it to the floor in the office. He had come in and out of the room several times before and always stepped over the blanket. Then he came in and stepped right on the pins barefoot (ouch!), broke one or two of them, got mad at me for pinning it to the floor “right in front of the door” and griped about it for a while.

I was working late because of the distractions caused by thunderstorms, fires, etc. and he got mad about that, too, and went out to ride his bike. I can’t go biking till my thigh heals.

All in all, not a very good day. Blah. But I have some nice knitterly things to post about–Hemlock Ring, etc.–when I’m in a better mood. I’ll try not to be such a Gloomy Gus next time.

I have just spent two of the longest days of my life looking for housing. Apartment hunting is horribly draining, and I only really officially took off one morning to do it–the rest of the time I was dashing off to appointments between highly stressful interludes hunched over my laptop in cafes or the car, trying to get my work done. I should have taken the entire two days off, but I had a ton of stuff to attend to and the project schedules couldn’t wait.

It was really sort of interesting at these showings seeing how other people live, and discovering what’s become more and less important to me in the past few years. For example, apparently many people live with dirty laundry covering almost every inch of their bedroom floor. (I pride myself on at least leaving walking trails through my dirty laundry.) Many other people enjoy flannel sheets pinned haphazardly over the windows to block out their enemy Mr. Sunlight. I felt like I was a pretty slovenly person, but going on these house tours made me feel way better about my housekeeping skills. Maybe about five years back, I was happily living in similar conditions, but somehow my tolerance for such things has gone down. It’s still not that I’m neat or clean by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess I was just surprised at how much my standards for housing have definitely gone up since my undergrad days.

We saw probably 20 properties in the past 48 hours. There were some really nice ones, some really bad ones. Some of the most interesting points of the tour included:

– the house with a billion animals. Actually, a very nice house with an affordable price tag, but I was distracted by their creatures–a black love bug of a cat who kept following us around and crying to be petted, a puppy and a large adult dog in crates, 4 turtles in a foul-smelling aquarium, and a ferret (possibly two) in another cage. That’s a lot of pets!

–  the House of Filth (Stoner Edition). The real estate agent actually warned us about the conditions before we went inside. This was around noon, I think. He knocked on the door, and a few minutes later, a scruffy-looking hippie white guy in some kind of shapeless, stained sweatsuit stumbled to the door and mumbled “sorry, dude, I just woke up.” He looked incredibly hung over, or possibly just stoned out of his mind. He collapsed in a heap on a couch by the XBox and watched us as we tiptoed around the house. The kitchen was empty except for a giant hookah. We opened one bedroom door and the floor was completely covered in beer bottle caps. Not in an artistic way, just in the way of someone who drinks a hell of a lot of beer. A mattress and box spring were stacked in one corner by way of a bed. No sheets, no blanket. “I told him to clean his room, man, it’s kinda gross in there,” mumbled the guy in the corner, apologetically, as we peered gingerly into the room, horrified.

– The house with a pantry that opened behind the stove, so the stove was set about 3 feet out from the wall and you had to walk around behind it to get into the storage space.

– The house that had a urinal in the bathroom, and smelled very strongly of garbage. (Actually, this is the one we’re trying to get. I have to assume the garbage smell is temporary and linked to the current tenants. We’re considering the urinal a feature.)

– The house with the shagtastic attic getaway. Brown and orange shag carpet with a 2-inch pile led up the stairs and carpeted the attic floor, and the walls were painted yellow. I thought the space was really cool, though I didn’t care for the colors.

– the House of Filth (Indian Engineer Edition). Bizarre. We walked in and the house was nearly empty of furniture, and the heater was going at full blast but the windows were open. Entering the kitchen, we were aghast. Everything–counters, floor, sink, stove–was caked in a thick brown sludge, as though they had been mud wrestling in the kitchen and hadn’t really cleaned up afterwards. It went above and beyond the normal grease and dust and grime from cooking–it was serious, hardcore dirt. You could have planted flowers in it. The same dirt coated the bathroom floor. It was like some creepy crime scene where they had been murdering golems or something. The 3 tenants were all Indian engineers and/or mathematicians, judging from the books in their rooms. It actually would have been a nice, spacious, sunny place once cleaned up, but the kitchen was too small and out of date for us to consider it.

The worst of it all is that I drove most of the way up, and have been subject to the tyranny of my early-to-bed-early-to-rise, please-turn-off-the-lights-i’m-trying-to-sleep significant other in the evenings, so I haven’t knit more than a little swatch in 7+ hrs of driving time; and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve passed the Knitting Tree without finding time to stop in–always too busy looking for addresses, food, or a coffee shop with wi-fi. The one thing I look forward to during long car rides or plane trips is the chance to knit a LOT and that hasn’t happened yet on this trip.

We extended our stay another day. We’re hoping to get our housing taken care of by the time we leave. So tomorrow we may go to the Farmer’s Market and the Wisconsin Brat Fest, and I’m hoping to wheedle Rahul into going to Lakeside Fibers or the Sow’s Ear with me.

So the other day I was working at the dining table while Rahul was making dinner. Suddenly there’s a sort of scream from the kitchen, I look up, and there is a giant sheet of flame roaring up from one of the pots on the stove. All the smoke alarms in the house start screeching, of course, adding to the general air of panic and confusion as we tried to find a lid to stop the flame–I grabbed one and gave it to him, it turned out to be too small and just kind of dropped neatly into the pot, where the flames shot up all around it and the plastic lid handle started to melt; I ran and got the fire extinguisher, we balked at actually using it and getting foam all over the kitchen; and eventually we found the actual lid for the pot and clamped it down on top to stop the flames.

We have cathedral ceilings, so the smoke alarms are really hard to reach and turn off, so Rahul ended up batting one of the madly beeping alarms off the ceiling with a broom handle like he was hitting a home run. Cursing madly, we carried the pot (leaking dirty gray smoke) outside to our balcony and put it down on a pallet that we’d conveniently retrieved while dumpster diving (thank God we had it, instead of having to put the pot directly on the balcony, because the heat of it permanently burned a round black circle into the wood.)

Rahul lifted the lid off the pot, thinking the fire had surely smothered itself by that time, and a giant fireball shot out of the pot, reinvigorated by the sudden burst of oxygen, and narrowly missing burning off his eyebrows.

Then this morning, I figured I would make a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast. (Our friend Jason used to run a bagel shop in Long Island, and he gave us a bunch of frozen bagels from there that have been sitting in our freezer and providing us with delicious bagelly sustenance for weeks.) I heated up the oven, put the bagels on a cookie sheet (we don’t have a toaster) and went into the other room. About ten minutes later, Rahul yelled, “I smell smoke!”

“What? Really?” I had put them into a cold oven, not a preheated one, and I usually toast them for at least 15 minutes before taking them out. 10 minutes seemed way too early for it to burn.

But I opened the oven door and a cloud of extremely stinky smoke billowed out. I grabbed the bagel sheet and pulled it out and said, “It’s not the bagel!” The bagel itself was toasted to golden-brown perfection. Instead, for some reason, there was a tea light in the bottom of the oven, leaking molten, smoky wax all over the oven floor.

We couldn’t figure out how it had gotten in there, and thought perhaps it somehow got stuck to the bottom of the cookie sheet when it was on the table. Anyway, the house is full of horrible, smelly wax smoke, it’s cold because all the windows are open to ventilate the house, and I ended up eating Kroger brand potato salad for breakfast because Rahul said the delicious-looking wax-smoked bagel might poison me.

I think we must have offended the kitchen gods somehow. I am normally a confident mistress of that domain, but things are seriously not going well between us and the kitchen at the moment. At the very least, we cooked a very delicious meal the night the pot caught fire–wild morels scavenged from the woods and sauteed in butter, fagioli all’uccelletto (sort of, anyway–pinto beans with garlic, sage, tomatoes, bay leaf, and olive oil cooked in our new hand-me-down crock pot until meltingly tender), orzo, skillet cornbread…

Anyway, with all that excitement, I’m so glad I have a new project on the needles. A very simple, soothing, what-could-possibly-go-wrong sort of project: a Scrunchable Scarf made of some two-ply, worsted-weight handspun–the roving was labeled as Cotswold-Angora-Bamboo-Angelina but may have been mislabeled, as there is definitely no sign of glitz and the roving appeared to be a pretty uniform gray fluff. I dyed it with Kool-Aid to an overall sort of raspberry color (intended to have a more varied, hand-painted, look, but it’s OK, it’s nice anyway), cast on 21 stitches, and got started with the k2-p1 ad infinitum.

No matter how much I love the look of knitting acrobatics and show-off patterns, I love the process of knitting simple ribbed or brioche scarves–so relaxing and easy. This one is coming out sproingy and cushy and very rustic-looking–I didn’t spin it very evenly, and the yarn is pretty woolly and fuzzy anyway, so it almost looks like a boucle yarn when knit up, full of little lumps and bumps.

I also made myself a little chart to see how the farrow rib pattern used in the Scrunchable Scarf differs from one of my other favorite stitch patterns, mistake rib.

Farrow rib (*k2, p1* over a multiple of 3 stitches):
ppkppk
pkkpkk

Mistake rib (*k2, p2*, ending with k2, p1, over a multiple of 4 sts + 3):

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They both contain a column of moss stitch (alternating knit and purl) and columns of knit and purl stitches, but the farrow rib has some adjacent knit and purl columns, while in mistake rib the knit and purl columns are always separated by a column of moss stitch. This emphasizes the rises and dips of the knit and purl columns, while farrow rib comes out flatter because the knits are right next to the purls.

Also, I finished my Rusted Root and made a very pretty dishcloth with the leftovers (such a quick, pretty pattern), went to a knitting art show and MAKS with chemgrrl (she has a full report on her blog; I didn’t take photos because my camera doesn’t work well in low light with no flash) and have already made something really wonderful with my purchase from MAKS. Pictures next time! And I am tons of work and am feeling terribly behind with all the actual important stuff I should be taking care of, responding to emails and working on patterns and such, but hopefully I will have time for that in the next few days as well, assuming the kitchen doesn’t burn down in the meantime.

Since I don’t have photos of actual knitting-related things to show you, instead, here are some more pictures from the Monroe County History Museum. They had an exhibit featuring people’s personal collections. This person collects accordions and accordion-themed objects; here are some of the prizes from their collection.

I would totally vote for Sophia Travis.

Congratulations to commenter #7, Flowox, who won the drawing for the buffalo fiber! She is a beginning spinner with both carders and a drop spindle to assist her. I’ll probably get the package in the mail next week–have fun with it!

For some reason, random.org was really fond of the numbers 9 and 19, which it generated twice each (picking non-spinners Gleek and Hilary) before coming up with winning #7.

So I think I may have fixed the situation with my Butterick dress by sewing on some little lengthening pieces on the front and back waistlines. The print is probably busy enough that it won’t be too noticeable, particularly once the buttons are on to further disguise the area. Fingers crossed! I hope to have a nice summer sundress to show off soon. But to compensate, several more, non-dress-related frustrations have happened to me since my last post.

It’s still 80+ degrees here. To make matters worse, our AC broke, so my apartment has been sauna-like, at least 85 or 90 degrees, for the past couple of days. I set the thermostat to 50 degrees, and I think there may have actually been hot air coming out of the vents during the night, because it felt pleasant and refreshing to go outside in the 80-degree air when I left the house.

I went to knitting night last night (finally got the day right!) and had a great time, as usual, except for having to frog approximately 50 bazillion stitches of the lengthwise scarf I was knitting because I wasn’t paying attention and knit too many rows.

Afterwards, I went down to a local bar called Crazy Horse to meet up with Rahul and his business school friends–he’s graduating this Friday, so this weekend is all about the crazy blowout farewell parties–where he accidentally spilled an entire pitcher of beer down the backs of my legs and all over my knitting bag. While it was very wet and unpleasant, I think the knitting is OK, and the school paid for the beer. Silver linings!

And today, worst of all, I got stuck inside my house today and had to be rescued by the DHL delivery guy.

At least a week ago, our door swelled or the doorjamb shifted or something, and it’s now a total pain in the ass to open. The bottom part will move, but the top of the door is firmly wedged into the frame and sticks every time you try to open it. I called maintenance a few days ago to come and fix it, but they hadn’t gotten around to it yet. It hadn’t been a serious problem for the most part, but today was beyond the pale.

Normally, yanking violently on the door for about 30 seconds will do the trick, but I was inside for a good five or ten minutes using my entire weight to pull at the door handle, with one foot braced on the doorframe, rattling and cursing and shouting at the door to OPEN, GODDAMN IT. I got an iron spatula from the kitchen and tried to insert it between the door and the door jamb to pry it open, feeling increasingly panicked and claustrophobic from the 90-degree heat and the tantalizing sunlight shining through the tiny sliver at the base of the door…

I looked through the peephole and saw that the DHL delivery guy was picking some packages up from my neighbor.

“HEY! HEY!” I screamed through the door. “HEY! EXCUSE ME! Can you please help me open this door?”

“I was just about to offer,” he said, because he had probably been watching this door pulsating and hearing my screams of impotent rage for the entire time he had been standing there.

“OK, are you ready? Stand back!” he said, and with a mighty kick (or probably just a firm push–it’s much, much easier to push a door open than it is to pull it), the door finally swung open and I was free, free like a bird. A humiliated, weakling bird who can’t even open the door to her own house.

The maintenance guys apparently came by today to fix the AC, but they didn’t say if they’d fixed the door at the same time. If they haven’t yet, until they fix the door, I’m going to call the apartment leasing office people to drive out and open the door for me every time I need to get out of the house. That should be a good incentive for them to prioritize this in the maintenance queue.

I also just had a totally awkward experience in the cafe I’m sitting in. I was sitting here at this great corner window seat, doing work, minding my own business, when a mom, a dad, and their college-aged daughter came in and sat down at the table beside me, effectively fencing me in. They started discussing the daughter’s summer plans and it rapidly became a crazy family meltdown. Mom and Dad were yelling at the daughter and the daughter was sobbing and alternately putting her head down on the table in despair and yelling back at them. Topics included:

  • “You’d better come home for the summer unless you find a real summer job in Bloomington. And I don’t mean one of those 20-hour-a-week jobs, either.”
  • “I don’t care if you paid for a lease through August, you should have thought of that when you signed a 12-month lease.”
  • “How could you possibly have put 700 miles on the car in this town? Are you letting other people drive it?”
  • “I want to go to Boston over the summer. This guy I know from the J. Crew store said I could stay with him. His name is Jake. He has an apartment there. And he’s my age, so it’s OK, he’s not, like, some 25-year-old sleazebag.”
  • “Mom, Dad, oh my God, I’m, like, almost 20 years old! Don’t you trust me? What would I do at home, anyway?”

It was really awkward sitting there, and the mom kept glancing at me, but I felt like it would be even worse if I packed up all my stuff and left instead of pretending to be completely absorbed in my work and not noticing any of this. Not to mention I had the plum window seat and I didn’t want to be forced to abandon it because of their drama. Thankfully, they eventually got either tired or ashamed and left the cafe, and the person next to me is now peacefully reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

Here’s what went wrong with my day yesterday.

It was hot. Really hot. 80+ degrees. I went downtown to run some errands–depositing checks, voting early for Obama–and thought to myself, even though I had clearly been looking at the date several times in the day and in fact had signed papers attesting to the date when I voted, “well, since it’s Thursday, I’ll just stay downtown and work here until knitting night!”

I worked for a few hours. Spent a lot of money on refreshing iced drinks. When 7 PM rolled around, I happily ran up to the Copper Cup to meet my pals. Sat there knitting and reading a magazine for about an hour and a half. “Where are they? Surely I’m not the only one wanting to knit tonight? They would have said something if they weren’t coming, right?”

Eventually I decided to take a little Ravelry break… and hovering my cursor over the time, it hit me. I was a day early. It was Wednesday.

I knew I had nothing in the house to eat, so I called Rahul to see if he wanted to grab a bite downtown with me before I went home, but he was working at school, and it was past the hour when normal folk eat dinner, so I didn’t bother calling anyone. I glumly ate some tacos and biked home.

“Well,” I said to myself. “It’s not a total loss. I can work on a sewing project now!” Because it’s so hot and sticky–wonderful weather for swingy skirts and light cotton sundresses. And I’ve been so inspired by gloriana’s and knottygnome’s recent posts about sewing.

So I located the washed and ironed fabric and the pieces of the supposedly super-easy Butterick Walk-Away Dress (Butterick 4790) that I’d cut out about 6 months ago, and set to pinning and cutting. There are only 4 pieces in the pattern, so it didn’t take too long. I spent a long time puzzling over the pieces as I cut them out–the dress layout is pretty enigmatic–trying to figure out if they would fit. The verdict seemed to be yes.

I got out the machine, wound a bobbin, set it up, tested my tension on scrap fabric. So far, so good. I sewed the darts and the skirt seam and went to try the pieces on again.

Disaster! The pieces were about two inches too small–that is to say, they fit around me, but without any room for seam allowances or ease. (The darts were perfect, though!)

How could this have happened? I’m between two dress sizes–my hips and bust are one size, and my waist (I’m sorry to say) is the next size up. I chose the larger of the two sizes and marked all the darts according to that. I’d gained some weight between when I chose a size and cut out the pattern and last night, but I didn’t think it was enough to completely derail my sewing. Surely I had not gained so much weight that I now required the waist size that went with a bust size 6 inches larger than mine? I went to bed feeling very hot, fat, and crabby, and stayed up way too late reading Flowers in the Attic. What an abysmal book. (It seemed much better when I was in 7th grade.) It didn’t help my mood.

This morning I woke up and decided to measure the actual pinned and darted pieces of the pattern. They were exactly the same as, or perhaps a bit smaller than, the stated waist size on the pattern. Wait a minute… I went back to the pattern and looked at it again, more carefully. I’d cut out the smaller size. And, of course, since I’d done that, the larger size was now lost to the ether, because I hadn’t wanted to buy muslin or tracing paper. (The darts were all marked for the larger size, though, and they fit just fine.)

Now that I’ve screwed up about 4 yards of fabric (and let us not speak of the half-sewn size-too-small Burdastyle dress and lining hidden in my cabinet, similarly ruined!) I’m not sure how to remedy the situation. I guess this dress is more suitable than most for resizing the waist outwards, and I could probably tape some paper onto the pattern to adjust it to my size if I make this again.

For those of you familiar with the pattern, I’m thinking of either sewing extension panels into the sides of the front piece (the one that wraps around and fastens in the back) before putting the binding on, since it will be hidden behind the back piece, or just making an extra-long button loop for the back closure.

The back piece (the one that wraps around the outside to fasten in the front) is a bit more tricky. I think I might replace the snaps and front buttons called for in the pattern with a set of sort of frog closures–making some self-covered buttons and sewing them on both sides, then making loops to span the front and hook over the buttons on both sides. Does that sound like it would look ridiculous? Could I get away with doing extension panels on the back top piece–maybe in a contrast fabric, or with lace sewed on top? If that wouldn’t look too weird, I could probably cut a wider waistline out of the circle skirt to match, and sew a shorter hem.

The dress, by the way, is a medium cornflower blue cotton from Jo-Ann printed with little white daisies, with a chocolate brown bias binding and (or so I’d planned) white molded plastic flower buttons. If I can get it to fit me, it would be so great for this weather.

My other plan is to lose 2 inches from my waist, but I’m not holding my breath for that one to happen. Why is that store-bought clothes tend to fit me, but whenever I try to make something from a pattern it’s always too big in some places and too small in others? Next time, I’m sewing myself a bag to get my sewing confidence back up.

Anyway, as a reward for making it this far through my bitching about my dress, here are some choice excerpts from Amazon reviews of Flowers in the Attic. They’re possibly more entertaining than the book itself:

“this book is excellent although a little strange that the brother and sister hook up but the book is great.” –lovestoshop82 “eastie girl82″

” i remembered that i loved this book when i was young, so bought it for my god daughter who is 11 and she freaked out”

–Mia, age 40 “stuff lover”

“When I tell people the plot, they are not convinced of the love story, but when they read it, they understand fully how the characters feel and that they have made the best choices possible. It is still my favorite book!!! :)”

–Hilari

“If you are even thinking of reading this book please don’t. Something, anything is better then this book. Something off the Opera book club list is better, or the bible or even the owners manual from the glove box of your car.”

–General Pete

WODERFULL WONDERFULL WONDFULL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

–A Customer

” This is probably the 4th book I’ve ever read in full. I first read Oliver Twist, Hook, the To Kill a Mockingbird. [several paragraphs snipped]… I really couldn’t keep the book down for more than a day.”

–scaiajedah

“The book that became my life.

This book is absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. I have become obsessed with the characters now, so much that I have taken up ballet….okay…alright, I admit it, I took up ballet cuz I wanted to…But, still..I’m just really crazy over this book….and I’m just really really obsessed, okay? But, I think that everyone should read this book, cuz it’s just awesome, and well, you’ll become obsessed too. Read it, so we can all be obsessive together…Please? Please…oh, c’mon~! Just read it already~!……..

Why aren’t you gone yet??? HELLO~! LEAVE~! GO GET THE BOOK ALREADY~! Okay, that’s it, I’m gonna go read it again. Bye~!

READ THE BOOK~”

–A Customer

“Yeah, ok, so this book was a little far from my tastes. I mean, I am not really into this stuff. Actually, male/on/male stuff is my personal favorite.”

–Yuki Shinobi

“THE BEST BOOOK I READ

ITS WONDELFUL, I LIKE IT A LOT, FROM THE BEGINING, YOU CAN STOP READING, YOU GO ON AND ON, UNTIL YOU FINISH.”

–A Customer

“In the sequel,”Petals on the wind”, I just wished Cathy would wake up and realise that Chris was her true love. Its not disgusting; its beautiful.”

–A Customer

“Oh look: She’s a world famous ballerina without a Gulag training. Chris: MY didn’t you do well. I seem to remember some strange Bart creature who couldn’t feel pain, although there was no explanation how he became a rich & handsome stud.”

–A Customer

“The perfect book for having tissues!!!!!”

–A Customer