Things I learned today

Published on Wednesday December 8th, 2010

1. There’s a special peril inherent in knit-blogging: your computer keyboard may collect little wisps of wool that will then multiply into dust bunnies thuggish enough to make your keys stick and your cursor cavort about the page randomly highlighting blocks of text and deleting them if you don’t stop typing fast enough. Cat hair has similar powers. Wool and cat hair together will go all Jackie Chan + Bruce Lee on your important work documents and you will spend half a day typing one character at a time and then tweezing the fearsome bunnies out from under the keys that seem to be causing the problem, which will turn out to be all the keys. It will take you all day to complete the layout of a single algebra lesson. Ask me how I know. (My husband tells me you can pay someone $80 to professionally clean your  keyboard, but I’m a cheapskate with a pair of tweezers and a firm will. The bunnies shall perish.)

1a. The “computer cabinet” at our school does not contain any computer-related equipment (such as, say, one of those air canisters for cleaning dusty keyboards), unless you count some extension cords and sundry cables. It does, however, contain PYthon (R) Dust, a “4th generation pyrethroid insecticide and photostable piperonyl butoxide” for the control of horn flies, ticks, and lice on lactating or non-lactating cattle, sheep, and goats.

2. Birds have no taste buds. I have not done any experiments to prove the veracity of this, but my friend Barb says so and I believe her.

3. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes is a treasure trove of heart-warming geekery the likes of which I have not encountered in some time. It weighs half as much as Ada does and contains useful diagrams and algebraic formulae describing the possible ways in which Colonel Moran might have shot a wax bust of Holmes through a second-story window without also shooting out the lamp casting the shadow of the bust or hitting the ceiling rather than the far wall of the room.  Thanks for the recommendation, Katherine!

4. There are sixteen days remaining before Christmas. I’m not panicking, though, because I have not yet taken stock of the number of gifts remaining to be knitted. This is for the best, I’m sure.

Notes on the space-time continuum

Published on Thursday November 4th, 2010

I’m now fairly certain our most prominent scientists are overlooking some very compelling evidence that time is not as linear as we’d like to believe. This is either because not enough of them live with three-month-olds or because a three-month-old creates its own event horizon, within which it’s impossible to do science or anything else that could later be duplicated or even accurately recalled. But here are a few shards of the past few weeks that have somehow endured.

– My daughter can laugh and crow like Peter Pan, she’s been to her first cyclo-cross race (not as a competitor yet; we were just cheering for Uncle Daniel), and she makes a pretty irresistible ladybug. She can also grow stinky cheese in the folds of her fat little neck, which is somewhat less appealing.

– There’s been knitting, mostly with this:

Luster (1 of 1)

Yum. It’s Luster — 75% Bluefaced Leicester and 25% tussah silk — a yet-to-be-released yarn from A Verb for Keeping Warm and the first installment of their Pro-Verbial 2010-11 club, to which I treated myself. It came with a new pattern by Stephen West; I hardly need to tell you how exciting those are. The Luster is like nothing else I’ve knit. It’s unusually grippy on the needles (this may be partly due to the indigo dye, which doesn’t finish fixing itself until it’s been knit and stains one’s fingers a bit in the process) and its two-ply structure creates a stippled, textural fabric with a high sheen from the BFL and the silk. The result is an intriguing blend of luxe and rustic that’s a perfect expression of AVFKW’s aesthetic. It’s verby and I love it.

– There was this comical episode with a poached egg. In my most inept kitchen moment since the time I used warm tap water to make tea for my sick mother (I was five or six), I cooked breakfast for my visiting parents. Having botched the timing of the toast and the eggs, I ladled the eggs onto the plates and tried to carry them to the toaster rather than bringing the toast to the stove to await the eggs. Nothing is more slippery than a poached egg. One of them promptly flew off the plate and splattered all over the floor, whereupon I stepped right in it. Thank goodness we have dogs.

– I’ve done a fair amount of seventh-grade algebra text work during baby naps. If you like logic puzzles, you can take a crack at this one and tell me whether you think it’s any good:

Six knights gathered for a jousting tournament. Work out the ranking of the knights, the color of each man’s horse and lance, and the Order he represents.

1. Sir Palamon did better than Charles the Bald.
2. The knight who rides a gray horse carries a purple lance.
3. Charles the Bald placed two spots below Don Quixote, who was not as good as the knight on the chestnut horse.
4. The knight who rides a white horse finished just above the knight who carries a green lance.
5. The knight with the roan horse finished last.
6. The Black Prince finished higher than the knight from the Order of the Barking Deer but lower than the knight with the purple lance.
7. The knight from the Order of the White Bear rides a chestnut horse.
8. The knight from the Order of the Chafing Garter placed third, which was better than the knight with the striped lance.
9. The knight on the white horse finished two spots below the knight from the Order of the Silver Parrot.
10. The knight on the black horse (who is not The Black Prince) finished second.
11. Sir Roland carries a blue lance.
12. The knight on the bay horse finished above the knight from the Order of the Armored Codpiece but below the knight with the red lance.
13. The knight with the red lance was not the champion.
14. Sir Bedevere finished two places below the knight from the Order of the Golden Fleece.
15. The knight from the Order of the White Bear was better than the knight on the gray horse, who was better than the knight with the yellow lance.
16. The knight with the yellow lance finished behind Charles the Bald.

It’s the little things

Published on Thursday July 8th, 2010

Discoveries that have delighted me this week thus far:

1. Miss Marple (or at least Julia McKenzie who’s playing her in the new Masterpiece series) is a lever knitter.

2. In Germany there is an octopus named Paul who has correctly predicted the outcome of each of his country’s World Cup matches by eating a mussel from a box labeled with the winning country’s flag. Paul is six for six, having foretold Germany’s shocking upset by Serbia earlier in the tournament and also their defeat by Spain in yesterday’s semifinal. (Keep in mind that Paul has eight tentacles and could probably open both boxes at once, but he is not greedy and apparently takes his oracular duties seriously.) I think that if America is ever to reach a World Cup semifinal we not only need to study the new German style of play but should also trade Punxsutawney Phil for a more sophisticated animal prognosticator.

3. You can make paper out of pond scum. The children who have confirmed this report that if you want to try it at home you should make sure you have good ventilation, as the paper smells rather fishy even when it’s dry. (They took this as inspiration to cut fish shapes out of it for a multi-sensory collage.) I must say the pond scum paper looks easier to work with than the thistle paper a friend and I made at a similar age.

4. Radishes are a good addition to homemade salsa. Use plenty of lime juice.

5. I don’t hate knitting cotton as much as I thought I did, at least not if it’s the right cotton. Mirasol Lachiwa is 60% cotton, 40% linen, and yet it is soft, gentle on the hands, doesn’t split at all, isn’t prone to rowing out in stockinet fabric…. I am forced to admit that knitting with it is downright PLEASING. (Occasionally there’s a little stray end of tough fiber poking out from the plies that’s rather scratchy, but these are easily pulled free.)

A zombie ate my content

Published on Monday April 12th, 2010

I had all these projects I was going to work on this weekend, all these pictures I was going to take to share with you here. I’m sewing a simple linen dress from this tutorial; I’m knitting these crazy awesome socks in a mad dash for a friend’s birthday; I’m mocking up a quilt block to practice piecing circles (sounds nuts, right?); I have two sweet Oliver + S patterns I’m excited to try. I did finish the neckline on the dress and got as far as the heel of the first sock, and then the zombies happened.

Actually, I was the zombie.

I just completely ran out of steam on Sunday morning and had to give over the entire afternoon to a nap, accomplishing nothing but a little feeble vacuuming. I dragged myself through an evening of marimba practice and grocery shopping and arrived home even more living-dead. Apparently Minnow is making some demands on my body right now and I just need to watch how I extend my energy. (Oh, and I was wrong about how big it is — I was reading my little journal again and apparently the baby had gained 100g, bringing its total weight to more than a pound! Which sounds like a lot until I remember it’s only got four months to put on at least five more… no wonder I need more sleep.)

Anyway, no fun photos and not as much progress as I’d hoped in any department. Except for that part where I’ve increased the size of my offspring by a skein of sock yarn in the last couple of weeks.