Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!


I am so sorry that all of you in the Northeast are having such foul weather!  We are still really dry down here in spite of the light snow last week.  I read that precipitation raised our annual to almost 1/4 of the yearly average.  I know, however, that too much can be just as bad and destructive as too little.  You have my sympathies.

I have a new knitting tool:

Yep!  That’s an IPhone 4S!  I am excited.  We live in a hole for the other services that provide service for IPhone, but my Sprint account was due for an upgrade.  This picture does not show the color well.  That’s the last white one that the Amarillo store had, outfitted in a blue/blue Otterbox Defender to protect it from my fumbly fingers.  I immediately installed one of the sets of knitting apps—KnitMinder and StitchMinder.  I think they will be quite useful, particularly since the holster for this case turns into an easel.  (I would welcome suggestions for other useful apps.)  However, the best knitting app has been unexpected.  The garter stitch afghan that I’ve been knitting on is now big and covers me from feet to chin, and I just struggled through the intarsia sections.  Now I’m adding extra blocks for a bigger size.  Whenever I settled down for tv or audio book and a knit after lunch and spread that warm afghan out on my lap, I kept dozing off.  (DH said I was “testing driving” the afghan.)  Then I found Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends.  I am trying to play a round between every row.  That keeps me awake, mostly, although I’ve made some rather spectacular game goofs when I’ve gotten drowsy.  I should finish the knitting tonight and the I-cord tomorrow.  My goal was Halloween, so I won’t miss it by much.

I wonder if there are recorded injuries from a knitter falling asleep on size 8 metal circs?

Friday, October 21, 2011

It’s big and white. . . .

Actually, it’s not all that big by today’s standards—I didn’t want to remodel a perfectly good kitchen, so this is a narrower fridge with French doors and a bottom freezer.  I am unreasonably excited.  Why?  Well, somehow I have never ever gotten to buy a refrigerator before.  Yes, I’m 62 and I’ve been married for 33 years, but the opportunity has never come up, probably in large part because I grew up with the “use it till it wears out” philosophy.

My first refrigerator was used.  It was in my first house when I was single, and it wasn’t very used.  At that time, my dad actually sold appliances in his small town hardware store.  A customer surprised his wife with a refrigerator—one of the small ones that only had one big door with the freezer on the inside—in a lovely harvest gold color.  It was the ‘70s.  Unfortunately, her kitchen was avocado.  She kept it for about a year and then traded it in to my dad for another.  I got the gold one.  It was an excellent little refrigerator with an icemaker.  When DH and I married, we kept the house and the fridge for a few years, but by the time we moved to our present town, we had two children and that fridge was really small. 

The house we moved into had an almost-new top freezer model.  It came with the house.  I used it from 1984-2003.  It cooled and froze well, but the outside top sweated like crazy, so much that it would grow mildew on the top of the refrigerator.  I finally found out that there was inadequate insulation in the top of the freezer, but I was not the original purchaser and the warranty would have worn out anyway.  I did not replace it, however, because we were starting a business and raising a family and for much of the time I was looking after a sick parent as well.

Then we moved back to my childhood home in the same community.  I gladly gave up the mildewy model for my mom’s side-by-side.  It was, however, a very narrow side-by-side, and it has gradually been giving out on us.  I should mention that it was purchased in the late ‘70s or very early ‘80s, so it had a good run.  For the last few months, it had been freezing everything that had any water content.  I had given up on storing much in the way of fresh vegetables.  Since we can only get good produce by buying when we are out of town and given that gas prices are such that we try to avoid special trips just for groceries, I felt we needed something that would store food safely and something with more interior room.  Besides, getting the milk out early enough for it to thaw whenever you needed some was just a nuisance.  We have also been noticing that when we get a handful of ice out and drop a cube, the floor seems much lower than it used to when we were younger.  Now we will have an ice dispenser and properly refrigerated foods.  I hope.  I have not yet had time to try out this new appliance, so I hope I’m not disappointed. 

Knitting progress—I am making good progress on the Moderne blanket.  The crocheted blanket that I had planned did not go well.  I frogged it after two evenings of crochet.  I have mentally redesigned, and I’m using as a base a pattern that I found on Ravelry that is constructed in the same fashion as the Moderne but with a different pattern of blocks.  It avoids the intarsia sections completely. 

On the subject of the pattern that I frogged--is it just me, or do patterns that are written by yarn companies for objects like afghans, blankets, and scarves sometimes skimp on the size, perhaps in an effort to make the project look like it could be cheaper than it will actually be if you knit or crochet a decent size?

Monday, October 17, 2011

For Bronte Fans—a book review


6394951Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

(Copy of my Goodreads review)

First of all, let me say that I am a big fan of the works of the Bronte sisters.  I am also something of an admirer of Charlotte.  I recognize that this work is a novel, but it is undoubtedly based on research.  Unlike some of the other reviewers, I do not doubt that given the isolation and stress of the family situation and the fact that the three sisters were all writers, professional and sibling rivalry did exist.  However, those conflicts seemed to be more the focus of the latter part of this novel than I felt was warranted.  The story of the family is deeply moving, and I thought the novel slighted that aspect in favor of conflict.  Indeed, the last years of Charlotte's life were treated almost as an afterthought.

Perhaps I was misled by the title, but the book started with promise, switching back and forth from the hospital room in Manchester, where we know Charlotte began Jane Eyre, to episodes from the past.  Then, however, this novel seemed to lose focus.  I suppose I was expecting more of an analysis of how Charlotte was reflected in her own novel, and I did not find much of that.  I know just as much of how Anne's life is reflected in her books and how Emily used the Bronte family as material for Wuthering Heights.

I also felt that Charlotte's personal feelings were presented in a somewhat more hysterical fashion than I associate with her, particularly since part of the emphasis of Jane Eyre seems to be on controlling excessive display of emotion.  However, I will give the book the benefit of the doubt because I was listening to the audio book, and this feeling of mine may be due to the style of the reader.

I am glad I read this novel, and I did gain some insights into the family.  I just have trouble with this particular genre of fictionalized biography whenever I encounter it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Saturday Report

First of all, here’s some knitting candy:

It’s an adaptation of a Moderne Baby Blanket that I’m working on for a Christmas present.  This project is for an adult, so after the first three-block foundation, I’m increasing each block by six garter ridges.  I’m also knitting with a worsted yarn, Patons D├ęcor, and using larger needles.  I still think I will need to add a border strip before the actual I-cord border to get the size that I need, but that will be ok.  However, I have been knitting so steadily that I am suffering from garter fatigue.  I have another Christmas project to crochet, so I’m going to start it and switch between the two because I know I will feel the same way about double crochet before I’m through with that one!  I will blog my progress on the second blanket, but I will not include pictures until after it is gifted.

I’ve been knitting to a LOT of Netflix.  I’ve enjoyed watching The Murdoch Mysteries and my DH and I have watched a few of the Catherine Coulter historical miniseries based on her books.  The last one that I watched was set around World War I.  I am the child of older parents, and I couldn’t help but think that those lovely dresses reminded me of pictures of my grandmother.  Those were the lovely dresses worn by the shopkeepers in the film, not the aristocracy by any means.  It seems particularly fitting since today would have been Mother’s 103rd birthday.

My sweater is not quite finished.  I still have some sleeve work to do, and I just haven’t been in the mood.  Perhaps I can use that as a garter stitch “break” as well.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Plans for Wednesday and Really Random Observation

I have extensive plans for tomorrow.  I am writing them down here so that I will be more likely to do them:

  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Take out some major trash—I have some boxes and stuff that need to go out to the dumpster.
  • Spousal felting session—No, I am not felting my spouse.  In a marathon knitting session made less tiring by watching back-to-back episodes of Bramwell, I finished some new wool slippers for my DH.  His felted clogs just absolutely wore out last year.  I had promised a new pair.  Just as I was knitting the instep decreases on the first clog, he mentioned that he would like slippers with a back and a side, so I switched to the Alpine Boots pattern by the same designer.  That pattern has boots and also some more substantial slippers, and, most importantly, it happens to use the same sole and toe increases as the clogs, or near enough considering this is a felted project.  I have already warned him that since he is retired, I am not felting alone and guessing at the size by holding up various samples of his shoes to try to get it right.  This time I intend to size them to the actual feet, so I have plans for DH spending part of tomorrow with slightly soapy, very warm, wet feet until we get it right!
  • Plan thorough grocery list.

I’ll let you know how this turns out.

Cultural observation—My daughter’s family recently moved into a new section of town.  New to them at least.  This is a residential area with a rather creative street layout, and while I can find their house fairly easily, I am still experimenting with how to get there if I come into the subdivision a different way.  Furthermore, this is one of those sections in which if you go around a sharp curve on the same street, the street name may change.  I always find that difficult.  Last week I tried a new route, drove down Hatfield Street and realized that I had arrived at the intersection of Hatfield and McCoy—someone has a sense of humor.  Then I had one of those English teacher moments.  I knew that in that same subdivision there is a street named Montague.  Aha!  If there is a McCoy for Hatfield, surely there is a Capulet for Montague.  Alas, I can’t find it on a map.  (This is complicated because I have been told that local pronunciation for Montague is “Montag.”  That’s just too confusing.)