Thursday, June 30, 2011

Outlet Covers

There are things to say.  I'd like to tell you more about vacation and post some pretty pictures, and I'd like to tell you about a knitalong in which I'm participating, and there's a yoga bag I'm knitting and I am worried about Greece and a couple friends who seem to have inexplicably run afoul of the karma train.

My mind is filled with random-ness (randomosity?  randomesque bits?)--probably even more randomness than you found in that previous paragraph.

So, since I can't seem to get any of that out in a coherent fashion, here are some photos of a craft project I did... well, earlier this month.

I modge podged.  I'd never messed with this gooey, opaque stuff, but it's a recipe for a good time and adorable outlet covers.  Just cut out paper you like, put gooey stuff on cover, put paper on cover, and continue to put layers of gooey stuff over the paper, letting it dry completely (and becoming clear in the process) in between coats.  I think I did 5 coats or so on these over a period of a few days.  I just slapped a coat on before breakfast, again when I got home from work, and that was that.

I'm not going to lie:  I think they're adorable.  This one is a map of part of my city, and I put it up in the kitchen.

The "everyone loves sweaters" one and the one above are in the yarn room guest room.  Etsy has a ton of this sort of thing for sale, and I bought Andrew one that has a comic page on it.  I loved it so much that I looked online for a tutorial and learned how easy they are to make.  (Google "light switch modge podge" if you want to learn, but really, you can fake it.)

Since continuity is obviously not a goal with this post, allow me to go into a side rant:  Many, many, many people look down on "crafty" (modge podge crafty, not sly crafty) projects and the people who do them.  They think crafts take too much time for too little return.* These covers make me happy.  They amuse me every time I flip the light switch or plug something in, and they cost a few dollars to make.  They didn't take long to make, and, honestly, what would I have done with that time if I wasn't slapping a coat of goo on this plastic?  

If someone said s/he didn't have time to spend making things because s/he was busy feeding the hungry, fostering children or animals, building houses for the homeless, or fixing Greece's financial problems, I'd heartily agree that they should not decorate light switch covers.  To those people, I say, "I will make you light switch covers myself.  You deserve them."  But what are most people who say crafts take too long to do actually doing with their time?

I haven't given time to making things that I would have otherwise spent saving the world, spending time with loved ones, walking my dog, and adoring my partner.  I have given time to making things from the inordinate amount of time I used to spend on my ass watching television.**

Rant over.  I'll really try to get some better content soon.  Soon there will be beautiful pictures of mountains!  Soon.

*I admit to having some prejudices on this issue myself, though much less than I had before discovering how delightful knitting is.  As this is my blog, I don't have to discuss my faults if I don't want to.  

**Well, actually I still spend a lot of my time on my ass watching television.  The difference is that now I am usually making something as well.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Letter to a New Love

Dear Seattle,

I love you.  I love your iconic images.

I love your stunning architecture.

I love your EMP (Experience Music Project)

and your Battlestar Galactica exhibit in the Sci-Fi Museum.

I love that I can take the monorail for $4 roundtrip.

I love your Pike Place Market.  Oh, how I love this market.

I love that you understand how vitally important coffee is to the existence of the human race (or, at least, me).

I love that you can buy beautiful fresh flowers.

I love your quirkiness.

I love your ferry system and that for $7.10 we can take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and back, just to enjoy the ride.

I even love your gulls, though I doubt I would if I lived with them all the time.

Although my expectations were unattainably high for Archie McPhee, I still love this company and the fact that there's a giant sign on the outside of the building that says, "Less talk, more monkey."

I love it when your beauty shows up in unexpected places.

I love the Fremont neighborhood's sense of self-importance mixed with humor.

I love your rhododendrons.  I have checked into adding some of these into my yard and have found that my alkaline soil has foiled me again.  Sigh. 

I can't tell you how much I love Theo Chocolates.

And, finally, I love your ocean.

Please don't worry about my departure.  My plan to convince my friends and family to participate in a mass exodus from the Midwest into your gloriousness is afoot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Jeans and Genius

I went to a seminar today at my insurance brokers' office on self-funded insurance plans.

Let's take a moment to mourn that my life includes seminars such as this.


I'm introverted.  I do not enjoy networking.  In a setting like this one, I prefer to sit down and quietly wait for the seminar to begin rather than to pass the time shmoozing with the people around me.  This is apparently abnormal, and the room was abuzz with greetings and business card exchanges and blah blah blah.

The woman next to me introduced herself and asked me where I worked.  Working for a religious not-for-profit is a fine way to halt conversation with strangers.  Usually people have no idea how to react and no frame of reference for thinking about churches/synagogues/mosques/temples as businesses.  Typically, they never move beyond this confusion.

Perhaps that explains why this woman's verbal filter slipped.  She looked at me and said, "I guess they have a casual environment there."  I responded with something like, "I start vacation tomorrow, so I can barely be bothered to care today."

I kept thinking about her comment.  I tried to step back and see how I might be viewed by others in the room.  I was wearing a button-down shirt, jeans, and Danskos.  I had wet hair (I despise hair dryers) and a tattoo on my dominant arm.

Most of the people in the room were wearing khakis or dresses.  Some of the men had on polo shirts, and some of the women were wearing heels.  It had not occurred to me to be self-conscious that I was one of the most casually-dressed people there.

What struck me is that there must be a significant difference of perspective held by the people in that room regarding dress.  Some people perhaps believed that going to an insurance seminar was an attempt to network and impress other people in the room.  Some people, or me anyway, believed that going to an insurance seminar was an attempt to figure out the self-funding model and if that model might make sense for our company.

It's a bit more than a difference of purpose though.  I don't think dress plays a significant role in my thinking when I meet someone.  My expectations pretty much end with "be clean and don't wear something revealing or politically/ethically/religiously offensive."  If a vendor is wearing jeans, I don't think that person is likely to be less qualified than if that person is wearing a dress.  In fact, there's a good chance that I'm suspicious of someone in a dress and heels.  Part of me wonders if that person is dressing up in an attempt to make me believe she knows what she's doing when she really doesn't.

I don't know if this is an age-related difference or a lifestyle-related difference or both or something else entirely, but it has me thinking.

Jeans and genius.  I don't care what you wear as long as you can do your job.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Alpaca Embrace

Back in November, Alpaca With a Twist sent me some yarn as part of a contest they were having on Ravelry.  A couple weeks ago, a very good friend asked if I'd make her a shawl, and I realized that this dk weight alpaca would be perfect--light but warm.

I believe knitters have a responsibility to a) not knit ugly things just because the pattern is interesting,* and b) not give knitted items as gifts to people unless they really want them.  I tend not to knit for people unless they ask me to do so.  It isn't because I don't want to give people knitted gifts; it's that I don't want to be the crazy relative/friend from whom gifts are received that no one wants and everyone feels they have to pretend to love because they took a thousand years to knit.

Once Lynn asked me for something, I went into hyperdrive, sending her pictures of different options and thinking about yarn.  We chose a pattern called Ember's Embrace, and I told her that I'd have it done by the Fall.

Ember's Embrace in Alpaca with a Twist Baby Twist in 0100 (natural), 1006 (navy), 4004 (green), 3011 (pink),  and 2009 (purple) 

Now that I've started knitting, I'm finding it hard to stop.  I think I can eek out one more set of stripes (although they may be a bit narrower and need some blocking encouragement) before I bind off.  I added an extra repeat in each row so it would be (hopefully) about 24" wide.  I'm shooting for 60" in length, but I don't know if that's doable or not.

I've decided this is too bulky for vacation knitting, which has just lit a stronger fire under me to try to get it done before we leave.  This is ridiculous as there is no reason to get it done, but crazy is as crazy does.

*Seriously, this is hard to do.  It doesn't sound hard to do, but it is.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Volunteer Gardening!

My work has teamed up with a church to do a garden at a local elementary.  All the produce during the summer is donated to a food pantry, and as soon as school starts the produce is given to families from the elementary.  I didn't realize that the majority of the students at that school were on free or reduced lunches, so the produce is greatly appreciated.

Let's be honest:  It doesn't matter how much you make.  A tomato that's freshly picked tastes better than a tomato from the grocery.

I am volunteering at this garden.  I admit that I'm doing it because I need the volunteer hours to complete my master gardening certificate.  I'm sorry that I need that kind of motivation to get started on something as good as this, but I hope that now that I have started it's something I'll continue to do for seasons to come.

Yesterday was my first visit to the garden.  It was four billion degrees and sunny.  I thought there was a better than average change I would die from the heat, even though I was only there for a couple of hours.  Luckily, I did not.  When I got home, I laid flat on the kitchen floor with a wet washcloth for awhile.  When I finally pulled myself up to head to the shower, I noticed how filthy I was.

See?  My hands were even worse.  It looks like I planted myself in the garden rather than cucumbers and tomatoes.

'Tis the season.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Say It With Wool

I've finished my present to the artist who did my tattoo*.  I'll give it to her when I go back to have it touched up in three weeks or so.  I don't know what is an appropriate gift to give a tattoo artist, but I have decided that one piece of art deserves another.  I may not be able to draw, but I can take string, two sticks, a pattern, and time and make something beautiful.
I've knit three of these scarves, and I never cease to be amazed at how different it looks after it's been blocked.  Before it's blocked, it's a wadded-up, curly mess.  After, it's flat and drapey and gorgeous.  I blocked it to be 60" x 10".  

Lace Ribbon scarf knit in Knitpicks Stroll Tonal in Canopy Colourway

Now I need to contemplate another pleasant thought: What knitting will I take on vacation?

* Someone asked me about the size and placement of my tattoo.  I haven't taken another picture of it since it's not gorgeous as it heals, but it measures 3.5" long and just over 3" wide.  The top of the tallest petal is about 1.5" from the point where my wrist meets my hand.  I love it and have spent most of the past week attempting to convince people that I am, indeed, a badass.  I have had no luck with this.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Perhaps we should...

...start saving for a more squirrel-proof birdfeeder.

Also, as a bit of tidying up from this post, we've decided to send our donations to Heifer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fear cracked open.

I can't imagine I'm the only one who has had the experience of being scared of something for a long time until SNAP I'm not scared anymore.  It's as if all the worry has built up and up and up until it becomes too much to support and suddenly it all falls apart.  The phrase that I've heard that describes this is fear cracks open.*

I've wanted a tattoo for a long time, but I was scared.

Would I always love it? Would it look stupid 20 years from now? Would people view me differently? Would it hurt so badly it would make me cry?

Then fear cracked open.  I made the appointment, I had my consultation, we e-mailed about the design, and last Friday I went to the studio.

A lotus flower with eight petals to remind me of the Eightfold Path: right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right awareness, right concentration, right thought, and right understanding.  Pink for the Buddha.  It's on the bottom of my right forearm, a good place to serve as a reminder when I get knocked off center.

I go back in a month to have it touched up, and I tried to figure out how to thank the artist who gave me this beautiful, permanent reminder of who I want to be.  I'm going to thank her the only way I know how:

I'm knitting her a scarf.

* That's from a Sue Bender book, probably Everyday Sacred, but maybe one of her other ones.  If I remember correctly, she was in a sweat lodge at the time.