The Amazing Adventures of Tom and Bel

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

How We Spent Our Thanksgiving Vacation

An essay in pictures (with a few words for good measure) by Boy-O and Cher:

Our lovely dinner. We actually sat at the table like real grown-ups. I was so proud.

In short, the Parents-O were not able to make it, so it was just us and the pups. There was eating, speedy dog runs throughout our tiny apartment, more eating, a good chunk of knitting, (I'm already 10" into the sleeves on this bad boy), eating again, Scrabble [in which the Boy-O is definitely the Man-O - damn, did he kick my butt], a little more eating, and general love and affection.

We also actually left the house for a little while to see The Incredibles. Heh. I don't know if it's meant to be subversive, but disdain for the whole overly PC ever-widening circle of "specialness" is clearly evident. The Boy-O and I had a pretty good discussion about it afterwards, and we decided that it was definitely a good action flick (We liked it better than Spiderman 2, for example), but thought the message was a bit obscure.

[If you're really interested, we decided that the general thrust of the film is that some conformity is necessary for the good of society, but that some people are just better at things than others - and that's okay. Not everyone can be equal in all categories. And not being "special" in the way that you want to be can actually prevent you from recognizing your specialness in a different area. If you really want more, see the Boy-O.]

All in all, a fabulous weekend. I was sorry to go back to work.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Purple Reigns

Since I live in Minnesota, I feel well within my rights to be channeling the spirit of the purple one (i.e., The Artist Formerly Known as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and am going on something of a purple yarn jag. I’m helped in this effort by copious amounts of stash, some of which I present below:

No, it isn't a keyboard cozy...

This is good old Lion Brand Homespun, discovered years ago at Midwest Yarns on the northwest side of Chicago. No labels, no yardage listed, but it’s roughly 26oz. This should be enough to create the following:

Ahh! she's being eaten by her sweater - quick, hide the children!

This sweater, designed by Norah Gaughan, one of my knitting heroines, is from the Fall 2001 FCEK. It will provide me with excellent movie knitting, as the pattern is so simple and mindless. Since the Boy-O and I have Netflix, We would like to take full advantage of it.

But what of the manly knit? That Sweater (do anyone else's unruly projects take on capitals when they are displeased with them?) is on hold – indefinitely - because I have decided I just can’t take it anymore. I would rather poke myself in the arm with a large pitchfork than continue to work on the sleeves.
Perhaps I will feel more inclined to tackle it when I am done with Thanksgiving.

On an unrelated but very cool note, I’m dictating this blogging tree (er, blog entry) to my computer. It is slow going, but very entertaining to watch the computer try to translate what I’m saying. And it’s a lot easier on my wrists, which have been very sensitive of late.
(Edited for Lame Spelling Errors 12.3.04)

Friday, November 19, 2004

I'm Cleaning as Fast as I Can!

The Boy-O and I have spent much of the last two days transforming our office into a thing of beauty. I am stunned and amazed at the transformation in the space. It went from shocking wreck a bit messy to downright sleek:

I'm too sexy for my books, too sexy for my books, yeah baby, I cook...

How sexy is this desk? Seriously.

Even Bel approves of the newly tidy craft table...

Looks like an ordinary closet, yes?

...but it's actually AWESOME yarn storage!!!

In knitting news, the variegated Purple Plymouth Personwarmer (I totally just pulled that name out of my a… out of thin air) is done!

Oooh, special camera effects (i.e. I didn't know what I was doing and liked the way this pic came out)...

Holy Picot Edging, Batman!

A little bit of picot edging and a few clothespins to hold down the edges as it dried, and a fabulous and feminine wrap is now mine. Whoo and hoo. Christmas is looking a lot more manageable with the ISM on my side. Now: if I can just stop making things for me...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

'Nuff said.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

No Promises, No Demands

Netflix rocks. It brought me 13 Going on 30, which I would never have been caught dead at in the theatre but could happily see in the privacy of my own home. I am a fan of the lovely Jennifer Garner (though she kinda walks like a drag queen trapped in a woman's body) and thought it was sweet, in a contrived way. It was nice to see her smile instead of watching her be all angsty with SpyDaddy.
If you haven't seen the movie and are a fan of the 80s, know that the soundtrack features Pat Benatar (The Original Riot Grrrl) whose music made my own angsty childhood that much better.

In keeping with the theme of today, we had a leisurely sort of a day. No work, just couple time. In spite of the goofiness of the hat I made, the Boy-O wore it proudly all day as we biked round Lake Harriet and Linden Hills:

My favorite band boy... The last of Mpls' street cars.

As a reward for struggling up the hills of South Minneapolis, we had lunch at Turtle Bread Company.
It was our first visit, but it will not be the last. Mmmm. (The wild rice soup, among other things, was too good to be believed.)

Of course, as my real reward, there was a pit stop at Needlework Unlimited, since we were in the neighborhood. I restrained myself and only scored a few goodies:

I love New Stuff!!

Emboldened by the, er, “success” of the Boy-O’s hat, I am determined to see how fast I can make a simple wrap on the ISM. (I blame the giant skein of Plymouth yarn. It called to me. Practically begged me to try it.

YARN: Oh, just make a little swatch. You know you wanna.
ME: You know I have ten other projects going. This isn’t going to be an exclusive relationship.
YARN: I’m not interested in that. I just wanna be used.
ME: What kind of slutty yarn are you anyway?
YARN: Slutty? You’re only slutty if you get caught. And who’s gonna know? I won’t tell if you won’t.

So this:

I [heart] my swift & ball winder. They make everything go faster.

Quickly became this:


Close ups of the lovely lace pattern on the ends.

The ISM is rocking my world, and I don’t think it’s gonna stop anytime soon.I have so much yarn in stasis; I always refer to the stash as my retirement fund. Now I think I’ll actually be able to make the boring bits on the machine, and do the fun stuff by hand before I lose interest get busy with other things.
The careful observer will note that these lace ends do not exactly match. I was too lazy to chart out the reverse of the pattern, and I didn’t think about working both ends and grafting them in the middle till I was too far gone for that to do any good. But I love it - not bad for only my second try, eh? - and I can’t wait to do the finishing on this piece. Whoo-hoo! Score another one for instant gratification.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

One down, fifty to go...

In my shameful pile of unfinished objects, there is a surprising number of sweaters which are still in pieces. This, of course, is because I object so strongly to the Sewing Up of all Things Knitted.
One of these objects is a Sweater for the Boy-O. The knitting, of course, has been finished since, er, a while ago (cough*July*cough) . I was excused by the quite warm weather we have been having of late. Until today. The Star Tribune, deeply concerned with all things weather, announced that it is about to be 15 degrees. That's right: fifteen measly degrees.

So what did I do? Finish the sweater my baby so obviously needs?
Of couse not. I made him a hat instead:

My favorite dockworker with his favorite beverage...

It is my first completed ISM project. And while it is not, perhaps, a masterful example of my prowess as a knitter, it is Warm. And Wool. And my Boy-O's head will no longer be cold.

My work here is done.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bad Spellers of The World - Untie!

A colleague of mine has serious, er, spelling "challenges." It frequently results in riotously funny stuff that brightens an otherwise ordinary workday.
He is also quite a good artist, and his ability to draw lovely pictures frequently takes my breath away.
This co-worker turned me on to the work of another cool artist, Michael Birawer, whose work makes me terribly happy, as his subjects are both my newly adopted city of Minneapolis and my hometown of Chicago.

On a totally different note, the awesome knitter behind At My Knit's End turns out to be a radical and elegant political thinker as well. She has expressed more fabulously than I ever could the reasons why we liberals are still angry, upset, and depressed over the election. Kerstin completely inspires me. My hat is so off to you, my dear, that I may never don it again.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Wild Things

The Boy-O has re-arranged the office/art center (i.e., the 2nd bedroom in our apt) to include a sexy table (again, from IKEA) that gives us both space to work.


(For the record: the leopard print was his idea. Hee. I lurve my Boy-O!)

The unfortunate part of the re-org is that now I have no excuse to avoid the stash wrangling & cleaning needed to help house our Thanksgiving guests.
(Ben’s folks are driving up for the holiday. I guess I should refer to them as The Parents-O? Oh, man. That’s just wrong.)

Anyway, the new set up makes more room for my new toy:

Shocking but true: the Incredible Sweater Machine Lives!

Yup, that’s right. Inspired by the lovely BonneMarie of ChicKnits, I picked up an Incredible Sweater Machine. This is my second ISM, so I am not a new user (the first was lost in an unfortunate move), but it is a newer model than my previous one. Apparently, it was only used once – they even sent the swatch the first user knitted with it! I got it on eBay from a very nice seller. My only complaint? The video had been partly taped over w/a Fig Newton commercial. It wasn’t a crucial bit, so I will survive, but it was certainly odd to be listening to Cheryl Brunette one minute, and John Cleese the next.

I have swatched briefly with the ISM, doing a bit of plain stockinette, a cable, lace and even some Fair Isle.

Cables & Lace, all in one swatch!

Unfocused, but it's Fair Isle ... did I mention I love this contraption?

It is weird, as I am a dedicated Knitter of Things in the Round wherever possible, but the ISM obviously only makes pieces, and one is always facing the purl side. This fact may come in handy sooner than I think, as I have promised the Boy-O a vest for our upcoming wedding. The fronts need to be done by hand, but he wants a plain (Rev St St) back. I can’t see the good of knitting such a thing by hand, unless I do it in the round or want to include some clever shaping, so this could be a solid solution.

In the meantime, annoyed beyond measure by the sleeves of the Manly Knit Sweater, I have started a hat on the ISM. Yes, I know it will have a Seam. And yes, I know it will require sewing up of said Seam (seams are this particular knitter’s bête noire, if you will).
Still, unlike the sleeves of the gorilla-armed sweater, this hat has the virtue of being very nearly done.

The bare bones of the Boy-O's hat. This could be finished tomorrow.

What can I say? Sometimes a girl needs some instant gratification.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Patriotic Doody…

We voted yesterday:

(Little did we know... )

And this was our reward:

Bistec Criollo. Yum.

Mmmm. Victor’s Café.
Is there anything better than hot Cuban food? I don’t think so.

In other news, the first chunk of my NaNoWriMo adventure is kicking my butt!
I was so confident when I agreed, so sure that brilliance would flow from my fingertips, and now the only thing flowing from me is, well, snot.
(I am developing a cold. In this, however, I am channeling Churchill. I. Will. Never. Surrender. Host Defense and vitamin C-filled fluids to the rescue!).
This has put me in a bit of a funk. Especially as the Boy-O, for all his worrying about the story, has cruised to 8,192 words without even trying.
Need I say we hate him right now? (Okay, not actual hate, but significant envy is creping through our bosom. It is not pretty. The hate that is, not the bosom. Thanks very much. I think I’d better get off this train before it gets embarrassing.)

The boy has also, unfortunately, been dismissed from his position. I am saddened by this, and by the national travesty that passed for an election, and by some other family stuff that I am not at liberty to divulge. Suffice to say that it is Not Good At All.

On a happier note, there is slooooooooooow progress on the sleeves:

These monkey sleeves have got me singing "Jungle love/Yeah/Oh-ee-oh-ee-oh..."
If I didn’t take these pictures, I would never believe progress was being made.
I keep chanting to myself “Love the boy. Love the yarn. Love the boy. Love the yarn.” (Patons Classic Merino Wool, purchased at Crafty Planet). Dying for these to be finished.

I am thinking seriously about submitting a design for Knitty – I haven’t done this yet, but I’ve written lots of patterns for my classes, for fun, etc.
(What? You don’t think pattern writing is fun? Are you kidding? It’s the only math I’ll do voluntarily.)
I think it’s the next step in my evolution as a knitter. I’m not yet ready to commit to it, but there is a lovely bit of purple alpaca in the stash

Part of the stash. No, I haven't got a problem with yarn hoarding. Why do you ask?

that I want to play around with again. Perhaps this will inspire me with my novel.

Again, for your viewing pleasure, more pre-blog knits:

Manly Bias and the boy's sexy neck. We lurve him. A lot.

Easy diagonal scarf for the boy. Made from Patons Shetland Chunky. And before you ask, yes, I know this yarn is actually meant for home dec projects. I actually bought it to use for a sofa pillow. But the conversation was something like this:

Me: You know this yarn is crispy.
Boy-O: I don’t need no sissy soft yarn. I’m a guy. Besides, it looks good with my jacket.
Thus, the Manly Bias scarf was born.

The Urban Cardi. We don't need no stinking buttonholes...

This is the sweater I made for the Urban Knitter project. It doesn’t exactly fit anymore, as I have grown and it has not. I wear it anyway, because it makes me smile. And because life’s too short not to fill it with shiny red mohair whenever possible.