Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today's the Day

Today is the last day for entries in the Jeanie giveaway. 

Now, I know that a lot of people are constantly asking themselves important, probing questions.  Questions like: "Why am I still hungry?"  or "What really happened to the lost city of Atlantis?".

Well I can't help you answer those questions. 

But I can help you answer an even more important question: "What would I look like if I were wearing the Jeanie?"

Well the simple answer is that you would look like this.  Or at least you would if you happened to be Flava-flav. 

So go ahead, get those entries in.  Who knows, you might find yourself cold-lampin' with Flava . . . and a stole.


Monday, September 27, 2010

The Importance of Pacing

By my calculation, there are 88 days between today and Christmas. 

Also by my calculations, I have approximately 88 things I'd like to make people this year.

So - given that I have not yet figured out how to consistently manipulate the space-time continuum, I'm need to pare down my own expectations.  That means that I've decided to focus on one hand-made item for each person on a relatively short list of family and friends.  As in prior years, however, I make no claims that I'll be able to stick to that approach for some people on the list.

The good news is that I've already finished one item.  The bad news is that I can't post terribly revealing photos of any Christmas items I might finish here before the holiday itself, because all the people for whom I'm going to knit this year are aware of the blog.  But I can post extremely close-up photos of objects in various states of completion.  And, as long as I don't say who the item is for (or even what the item is), I feel like the secret is maintained.

With that in mind, here is the item currently on the needles.  Made from Misti Alpaca Baby Suri Silk, it is extremely soft and is proving to be quite nice to knit.  This one should be done within a few days, at which point I'll move on. 

Must stay on pace.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some New Functionality

As part of the previously mentioned housekeeping, I've announcing the addition of a new box on the right side of the blog.  Specifically, I'm providing links to my other two blogs. 

One is a newly started compendium of things I like, things I dislike and things I'm not quite sure what to make of.  To the extent that I may in the future review any knitting-related item, I'll be posting the review on that page.  The site is called TSMK's Likes & Dislikes, and you'll find it here

The second is a slightly longer-lived blog, where I post most of the poems that bubble up to the surface of my day.  You'll find that one here.  I make no allusions to being particularly good at writing poetry, but do enjoy the process and hope that you may enjoy reading it on occasion.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brave New World and Jeanie Update

Lately, I've been spending quite a bit of time on the treadmill.  More than I'd like, actually.  But the doctor said I could stand to lose a few pounds and so I'm going to lose them. 

I don't really enjoy the treadmill, but I find that there is something about it that helps me think.  Helps to clear the head.  I get up there, start making my way up the endless incline, and all of sudden ideas start to flow. 

Some of them seem quite promising.  Others fall flat immediately when my heartrate slows.  Most are somewhere in between.  I'm not sure where tonight's idea falls on that spectrum.

Tonight, I found myself thinking about Christmas.  Now as any James Joyce fan will tell you, the stream of one's thoughts is sometimes difficult to follow.  In fact, I've been stuck on the same page of Ulysses for several years.  But I'm a bit better at observing the eddies in my own stream of consciousness than trying to read  an account of someone else's thoughts - and the thoughts about Christmas led me to think about potential presents for my sons.  And for my oldest boy, I started thinking about games.  Last year, the game that seemed to be in every mail-order toy catalog we received was Mattel's Mindflex

I haven't played Mindflex, but understand the basic premise: you wear a headset that picks up your brainwaves through some kind of home-version EEG contraption and, by manipulating your brain waves in some fashion you're able to control a fan that moves a ball.  Cool.  Kind of spooky but cool.

This year, I'm planning to knit quite a few presents.  And as I dropped off the treadmill for a few quick push-ups before getting back on my moving sidewalk, I found myself wondering whether we'll eventually have Mindflex-like controls for knitting.  I've read that scientists have been able to get monkeys to control robotic arms using similar brain wave technology.  In 20 years, will I be able to concentrate my thoughts and set in motion a pair of robotic knitting needles?  And if that technology is available, would I want to use it?  Would I miss the tactile aspects of knitting?  Would it make my knitting any faster?  Would it make my knitting any more even?  Was this all some sort of Daniel Dennett-esque treadmill-induced thought experiment for the crafty?  (And speaking of that, what is it like, exactly, to be a bat?  And why am I thinking about philosophy of mind when I'm stuck on this damn treadmill?)  But back to the knitting - if faster and more even is what I'm after, couldn't I just bite the bullet and buy a knitting machine?  I consider myself a bit of a luddite, and unlikely to adopt this kind of new technology if it were to become available - but Mrs. TSMK is hopelessly in love with her Kindle and I was exercising on a moving belt rather than simply taking a walk around the block, so who knows.

As for the Jeanie giveaway - things are going well.  I've received quite a few entries.  Most of the entries are correctly identifying at least one of the three lies.  Quite a few have picked two of them.  Only one, so far, has correctly identified all three lies.  But there are nine days left in the giveaway so we may end up in the tiebreak after all.  Please keep those entries coming, and stay tuned for the announcement of the winner.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jeanie's waiting

For her new owner.  With 11 days to go in the giveaway, she's blocked and ready to travel. 

At seventy inches long and 20 inches wide fully blocked, she isn't small.  She's just under three skeins of Knit One Crochet Two Ty-Dy sock yarn - a nice 80/20 blend of merino wool and nylon.  The color is "Blueberry Fields".

*Note - neither the bottle of Basil Hayden nor the ukulele will accompany the stole.  Those will be staying a bit closer to home.

Get those entries in - there's still plenty of time.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

To everything there is a season

On arriving home one night this week, I noticed that I could see my breath as I walked up our front steps. And just like that, I realized it was over. The summer that never really arrived is now throwing in the towel. It is officially fall several days before it is officially fall.

And so, I need to begin thinking about Christmas knitting.

But first, I need to say goodbye to some summer projects around the house. First among those is our vegetable garden. With the stunted summer, we really didn’t get much in the way of a harvest. The beans were sparse. The cucumbers never really took off.

The dog ate most of the strawberries before we were able to pick them. However, our potatoes were very impressive this year. And I feel that success is directly attributable to my P.E.N.I.S.

Perhaps I should explain.

Last year we also planted potatoes. The harvest was decent, but we planted them in a raised bed that was ultimately too shallow to be ideal. So this year, I got an idea. At the start of the season, I constructed the frame of a 4 foot by 8 foot bed out of scrap lumber. I then enclosed three sides with sheets of plywood, so that it was 4 feet deep around those three sides. Along the bottom of the front, I fastened an 8 foot long piece of 1x12, and I then filled in the interior with dirt.  My Potato-Enhancing Nature Improvement System (P.E.N.I.S.) was born.

It is a thing of beauty.  After the potatoes began to grow, we fastened another 1x12 to the front and filled again with dirt, increasing the depth of my P.E.N.I.S. by the additional 12 inches. It has space for an additional two 1x12 boards on the front, and an additional 24 inches of dirt. But if you were to see it, I think you’d agree that my P.E.N.I.S. in its current state, with a volume of 128 cubic feet, is quite impressive.

My P.E.N.I.S. was, and still is a sight to behold. It sits majestically in our back yard. And it has proved to be very fruitful. In short, my P.E.N.I.S. has become the envy of the neighborhood.

[NOTE: it should be acknowledged that Mrs. TSMK has suggested that my P.E.N.I.S. may be is an eyesore – a point I vigorously dispute]

And now, as we move into fall, it is time for me to say goodbye to my P.E.N.I.S.  I will miss spending time with it on the weekends. But I know it will be there for me again next spring.

As I’ll be spending less time with my P.E.N.I.S. for the months ahead, I’ll have more time for knitting. That is excellent, as I have an extensive list of projects I want to complete. The Jeanie will be blocked this weekend – and mailed off to its new owner in the first week of October.  There is still plenty of time to enter - however - please do.

That means my needles will be dedicated to Christmas knitting. Many potential recipients read this forum, so I won’t go into great detail as to projects at this time. But the projects on my list include some of the following (though there are some red herrings thrown into the list below to keep people off the track).
  • One or more sweaters
  • One or more pairs of socks
  • A hat in the shape of a giant squid attacking your head
  • Gloves/mittens
  • One or more berets
  • A knitted diorama of the Battle of Waterloo
  • A scarf
  • Kilt hose
  • A mother/baby monster stuffed toy

I guess I’d better get started.


Monday, September 13, 2010

The Day Everything Changed

When I was around 11, I lived for a brief time in a very small farming community in eastern Washington. Our nearest neighbors were an elderly couple who lived about a half-mile away. At the time, my brother and sister were both under the age of three, so we didn’t have a lot of interaction at that point.

It was a landscape of wheat fields and abandoned barns. Deserted farmhouses offered the potential for exploration, but the price of admission was spooky ambiance and a consistent fear of falling into a hidden abandoned well.

And then there was the darkness.

When we moved there, I was not afraid of the dark. Or rather, I wasn’t afraid of what I thought was the dark. But, as it turns out, I really hadn’t experienced dark until that year. Not true dark. The kind of dark you get from being 50 miles away from the nearest city of any size. The kind of dark you get when you can see a band of the milky way crossing the sky.

And it was that year that I saw him.

I had always thought perhaps he was there. There was always this feeling that something could hear my thoughts. Something knew. But then one night, it all became crystal clear. I remember my mom asked me to take out the trash. On the way back from this most mundane of errands, I looked up and saw him. To borrow a phrase, he was simply hovering there, in much the way that a brick wouldn’t. I saw his pointed snout and his beady eyes and I knew immediately.

He was watching me. He had singled me out. In an instant he communicated to me across time and space all that I needed to know. For you see, he has always been with us.

I began to research, and eventually stumbled across a few historical documents demonstrating his presence. For example, historians have long wondered about references in the written record to a mysterious presence at the battle of Agincourt in 1415. But take a look at the painting of this event, and I think you’ll agree that the truth is inescapable. He is there.

Even today, he makes appearances from time to time in the most unusual of places.

From that day forward, he has been with me at all times. Not always visible. In fact, he is only rarely visible to me now and again. But he is here.

And, thanks to Amy in Iowa, I can now carry a representation of him around with me at all times. I must say, he is a bit too lifelike as he seems to have too great a thirst for single-malt scotch.

But it isn’t all bad, for he’s helping me finish the Jeanie.

As for the giveaway, I’ve only received a handful of entries to date – none of which have correctly identified all three falsehoods. There are about two and a half weeks remaining to the deadline for entries. Plenty of time to consult The Echidna.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Award

A strange thing happened to me recently.

Well, actually the fact that something strange happened isn’t all that unusual. Strange things happen to me all the time. Like this one time when I was out on an airboat with my future father-in-law in the middle of a lake in north Florida at night, and our guide cut the power to the boat and turned off all the lights and started telling us about the UFOs he’d seen land in the lake. That was pretty strange.

Maybe I should start over.

Recently, I had something new happen. A time lord of the blogosphere slowed her TARDIS down long enough to toss me an award. Well, “award” may be overstating it. Its really more of a chain letter of sorts – from one blogger to another – offering up some encouragement and asking for you to post 7 random things about yourself and then pass the award along to another blogger.

Well I say stop the insanity. I will not pass this along to another blogger. I will break the chain and ride out the karmic tsunami that will undoubtedly ensue. This ends here.

That said, I’ve never been one to shy away from talking about myself. So I naturally loved the first part of the lovely award. And I offer you below 7 “facts” about myself. But, the clever among you will note that I actually list 10 items below. There’s the rub. Seven of these items are true. Three of them are false. All of them are tricky. In fact, some are so tricky that I doubt even Mrs. TSMK would guess correctly.

And with that in mind – I hereby announce the next giveaway event!  Yes, you guessed it - you tell me which of the items below are true and which are false, and you may win a prize. What prize, you ask? My next finished object. Regular readers of this blog will have seen it, but not in its fully finished and blocked magnificence. In fact, even I haven't yet seen it in its fully finished and blocked magnificence.  But I will within a week or two.  And once I do there will be pictures posted. 

It is a Jeanie – a reversible-cable dropped stitch stole. And like any reversible-cable dropped stitch stole should be, mine is done in some frighteningly garish colors. It is truly obnoxious. And it has been a blast making it.  Even while camping.

Ah, but you say there may be multiple correct entries? Well, I’ve thought of that. There’s a tie-breaker below which will serve to handle that contingency.

Ten Things About TSMK:

  1. I learned to drive in an old orange Volvo with bad second gear synchros.
  2. My favorite flavor of ice cream is rocky road.
  3. My children have all enjoyed lullabies that are based on songs about men in prison.
  4. I can recite Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat from memory.
  5. My favorite bourbon is Maker’s Mark.
  6. I have a fondness for the smell of sleeping dogs’ feet.
  7. Among other things, my iPod contains 12 different versions of a single song.
  8. I once performed an exorcism.
  9. I have a pair of shoes named “Larry”.
  10. I have always secretly wanted to be President of the United States.
Tie-Breaker: Fill in the blank below. Should there be multiple correct entries based on the true/false portion above, I will use my sole discretion (guided, as always by the wisdom of The Echidna) to choose a winner.

“If I were abducted by aliens from another planet, and they proved to be all-knowledgeable about the Earth and everything on it since the dawn of human civilization, and I could ask them one question, I would ask __________________.”

Good luck – and may The Echidna be with you. All entries must be received through the TSMKBLOG “at” email address (also shown to your right) on or before September 30, 2010.