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Showing posts from March, 2008

Needlework Fun for Easter Sunday

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I've been spending some of my finite hours of life over at Ravelry, a web resource for knitters and crocheters. The people who hang out over there are a lively, creative crew. I discovered that crocheters have been developing a new form of expression that is pure fun.

Amigurumi.

As you might expect from the name, this phenomenon started in Japan. It is growing like wildfire. The basic tenet: if it is three-dimensional, you can make a small, cute version. Frogs and teddy bears are big, but imaginations run wild and the field of expression is not limited to the conventionally cute. I've seen pirates, ninjas, skulls, sea slugs, narwhals, goldfish, and much more.

Here is a sampling for your viewing pleasure.

First of all, a little something for your Easter basket! Source: needlenoodles.etsy.com



Now that the sweet tooth is satisfied, you probably need some protein. How about some sushi? Source: needlenoodles.etsy.com



Now that our tummies are filled, we can move on to pure fun. Here are t…

Ready for a Road Trip

It's four weeks exactly from the beginning of my recovery from major surgery. I am feeling so much better. My energy levels have increased a lot, although I tend to get tired in the afternoon. I have hardly any pain from my incision. Things are looking up.

My poor, sad belly is no work of beauty. I have to wait a few more weeks before I can begin exercising it back into some form of tautness. I have my big rubber ball, ready for crunch time. Meanwhile, I can be lazy without guilt. Goodness, that is hard for me. The laziness is easy, I am very talented at frittering away time. The guilt is hard to put aside, even though it does me absolutely no good right now.

We are driving up to Montreal tomorrow to visit our daughter. We'll go to Ikea, where I will see just how much energy I can muster these days. I want to buy a curtain for the bathroom, because a friend has been cutting firewood on our property, and the bathroom window looks out on the road into the woods. More than once I&#…

Signs of Spring

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So what's the weather in the North Country? We are having very cold nights, with temperatures barely in double digits, and relatively balmy days, with more sunshine and temperatures in the thirties and forties.

Maple sugaring weather.



The sap is starting to run. I saw two people dumping buckets into a plastic tank on the back of their truck on Saturday. At work, the weekend's run produced over 300 gallons of sap.

There are two basic approaches to sugaring in our area, old school and high tech. Old school folks hang buckets, and use wood-fired pans to cook the sap down to syrup. These folks use lots of wood, because it can take 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. High tech folks run pipe lines on the trees, letting gravity do much of the work of collecting the sap in large tanks. Some high-tech operations use vacuum pumps to bring the sap right to the sugar house. The ultimate in tech is the reverse osmosis machine, which reduces the water content of the sap. Less water…

The Wearing of the Green

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I've been carrying around a lot of eco-guilt for a while now. I know that, at this point in time, I am part of the problem, not part of the solution, because my carbon footprint is way too big.

Electricity is not a big problem area. We pay a little extra for electricity generated by the wind and small hydro. We should still turn out lights, but the main damage if we don't is to our wallets, not to the world.

So what are our problem areas?

Gasoline. We drive too much for the good of the world, pure and simple. Part of this is due to living in a place that is at least 20 miles from everything - work, shopping, friends and family. Part of this is due to the nature of Robert's work, which causes him to drive many, many miles in the course of a year. We no longer own any large vehicles; we own two cars that are very fuel efficient by current standards. Let's not kid ourselves, we still drive too much. We may not be able to get a handle on this until we retire.

Propane. We burn …

Ravelry Came Knocking Today

Ohhhhh, baby's gotta brand new toy. Ravelry.

I have read about Ravelry in a knitting magazine, and a comment on a post several days ago sent me over to check it out. Ravelry is a site for knitters and crocheters. It is a place where people can blog, document projects, catalog tools and stash, chat, share info on the forums, and search for what other needlecraft addicts are making.

I had to wait my turn to sign up, though. The site managers are only letting about a thousand people join the site per day. Right now the waiting list is over 7,000 people. The email came today, and I'm in!

I'm pleased to find that I still seem to be the only person around who has thought up the name "scifiknitter". I'm scifiknitter in Ravelry, and on my brand new Flickr account. Right now you have to use Flickr to post pics in Ravelry. It's fast and easy. So I actually got two new toys for the price of one - free!

I've already posted my Map of the World sweater, with pics and c…

Fun with Felting

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I am making felted mittens this winter, for friends and family. Even I will score a pair at some point. I got my first pair done yesterday, and sent them off to Montreal today with Ana. Now she has warm mittens that are just right for ice skating.

Every felted project I've made so far has been quick to make, when compared to the average knitted project. You create items using thicker yarns on thicker needles, so they need fewer stitches and rows and they knit up fast. These mittens, size women's medium, were only 36 stitches around in the cuff and body. The men's mittens I am working on now are only 40 stitches around. That means I can knit most of a mitten in an evening. Almost instant gratification!

Here are the mittens before felting. Yeah, they are big! Ana had a blast putting them on and scuttling sideways, making Dr. Zoidberg noises. They were knit from a pattern in Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas. The pattern is brilliant, using short-rowing to create extra fabric ov…

Thoughts on the Self-Destruction of Eliot Spitzer

Originally written March 11: Another Crash and Burn

The crash and burn of Eliot Spitzer is all over the news today. Because sex is involved, this story will surely be dominating the news cycle for a while.

Robert and I had our picture taken with Spitzer some years ago while he was still Attorney General, when he traveled to our county to speak at the annual Democratic party dinner. He is all angles and energy, and quite charming. We were dressed to the nines, and he told us to to take our name tags off before the picture was taken so that we would look our best. A little detail, easy for him to remember and repeat, and it was a nice touch. Robert has talked to him several times about a regional economic development project, and while Spitzer may not remember his name, he remembers the face and the issue.

So many people pulled the lever for Spitzer with great hopes, and he let them down. That didn't actually happen yesterday, though. Moving from an adversarial role in government to a …

Unexpected Surgery on February 22, and the Aftermath

Originally written on February 24: Encounters with Modern Medicine

I am home again after a few interesting days, which included a hospital stay. And - I get extra vacation time this year as a result!

It all started Thursday morning, when I developed a pain in my belly so sharp that I could not concentrate on my work. I got the pay checks distributed, refilled the postage meter, and headed home for release, with the hope that this would be a 24-hour bug. Hours passed, and relief did not come. I called the physician on call, and he said, "You don't want to hear this, but you need to come in to the emergency room." I didn't, but I put on my boots and coat, and Robert and I headed over.

At the emergency room, a PA saw me. After hearing that I have MS, and therefore chronic constipation, he ordered x-rays of my tummy. The x-rays revealed that I was constipated, and he decided that must be the source of my problem. He sent me home with a bottle of magnesium citrate and some b…