Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I'm the type of person who loves personality quizzes. I have the Myers-Briggs type to back it up. Yes, I found a Myers-Briggs quiz whose results listed that I probably like to take quizzes.

I stumbled upon this "organizational personality" quiz this morning.

File this under I Am Not Surprised.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Internet Neighborhood

There's a story I've read, which goes something like this: An old man and a little boy sit on their stoop. A car pulls up. "We're looking to move. Is this a nice neighborhood?"  The old man asks about their old neighborhood. "Oh, it's just awful. Nobody cares about anybody else, and kids run up and down the streets yelling and being disruptive. We're glad to be moving away." The old man looks at the couple in the car and said, "I'm sorry, but that sounds just like this neighborhood." The couple, disappointed, drives away.

A second car pulls up some time later and asks the same question. The old man asks them about their old neighborhood. "It was wonderful! We had such good friends there, and we're really sad to be leaving. Everyone was so kind, and people really cared about their neighbors." The old man looks at the couple in the car and says, "You're in luck! That's just the way this neighborhood is." Excited, they thank him and drive away.

The boy turns to the old man and asks him why he said different things about the neighborhood to the passengers of the two cars. The old man turns to the little boy and says, "Your neighborhood is what you make of it. If it's full of nasty, uncaring people, that's probably because you are nasty and uncaring. If your neighborhood as full of kind, caring friends, it is because you are a kind, caring person."

We can't control some things in our geographic neighborhood. We can't control if families are going through a divorce (and yelling at one another in their yards while I'm just trying to walk the dog, forthelove), or when a family loses an income and their house is forclosed upon. Some things happen that we can't control. It is true, however, that when we are good neighbors, the people around us tend to be good neighbors as well.

This is even more true in our virtual neighborhoods. 

The Internet is a big place, much too big to be described by words such as "nice," "bad," "friendly," or "scary." The Internet is all of those things. Each of us carves our own niche out of it, and the Internet as we experience it is based on those choices.

I love my Internet. It's filled with blogs of people with interests similar to my own as well as a few that cause me to rethink my positions and beliefs. It's filled with photos of beauty like this:

Queen Red Lime Zinnia from Burpee

and ideas of wonderful things to make like this:
 Sculptural copper coil vases from Design Sponge --I haven't made it yet, but I will

My Internet teaches me how to make a quilt, and then shows me beautiful fabric I can use to make it.

My Internet teaches me how to purl with my left hand, shows me stunning things people have created, and lets me help mend the world. It helps me stay in touch with friends and make new ones.

I've become preoccupied with the idea that the way we spend time online says so very much about what sort of person we are and what we value.* The trick, of course, is to take the beauty and kindness that I find on my Internet and put it into practice in my non-virtual life. The goal should be to fill my life and the lives of those around me with beauty, creating things that make us all happier. I succeed sporadically at that, but my hope is that writing this post will help me to keep that goal foremost in my mind. We are what we write, what we read, what we search, what we buy, what we borrow, what we create.

What is your Internet neighborhood like?

*I also feel this way about my library card, and I've often been tempted to check out more intellectual books so I won't look like someone who only reads Agatha Christie books, watches Northern Exposure, and looks at knitting patterns. Truth is, that's who I am.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Only Way Out Is Through

It's just me, the dishtowel, and my love of Alanis Morissette's music.

The only way out is through.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Start from the Beginning

The double knitting isn't going well, so I started a sock.

Groovy Socks (mine ravelled here
knit in Knit Picks Felici Sport in Dockside colorway

The website the pattern is from is no longer available, so I'll give you the 2-row repeat in case you want to make your own:

Round 1: K all stitches.
Round 2: k1, yo, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, yo, k1.

I started with a k2, p2 cuff for a couple inches, and then used that stitch pattern with my usual heel and toe. The pattern works really well with self-striping yarn, and we all know that I'm a whore for Felici colorways.

As I'm knitting the sock, I'm still thinking about the double knitting. I know what the problem is. The problem is that I don't know how to purl with my left hand. It feels ridiculously awkward.

I contemplate giving up on the project, justifying that it's my hobby and I can do what I want.

True, but...

When I started knitting six years ago, everything was hard. My stitches were so tight I could barely move them off the needle. But I got better. There's no reason to think I won't get better at this.

But double knitting is the equivalent of knitting a lace stole as my first knitting project. That is stupid. I need something simple.  A sock? No purls. 

The first project I made was a washcloth. That's the sort of project I need for this. Something with lots of switching back and forth between knitting and purling, something where gauge doesn't matter.

knit in Knitpicks Dishie Multi in Daisy colorway

I'm knitting this for a friend with a new house. I've committed to knitting every damn stitch with my left hand. It's extremely slow and awkward and makes me feel like a monkey at a typewriter, only I'm more self-conscious. 

But I'll do it, and I'll get better. Start from the beginning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Embrace the Weird

I read a lot of blogs. This morning, I visited Stitched in Color, and her post was about a redesigned sewing room.

I love this sort of post. I would love to own a coffee table book filled with pictures of organized spaces. I know that's weird, but there it is.

I've actually toyed with the idea of being a professional organizer, but there's a problem: I hate people. I mean, I don't actually hate people, but  they wear me out. I wouldn't want a job where my sole purpose was to make people happy with their stuff.

For one thing, people would want something different than what I wanted for them, and that would mean they were obviously wrong. This attitude may be a bit counterproductive if I wish for them to pay me.

So far, I have not found a way to earn a living from this devotion to organization. Nobody has offered to pay me for organizing their crayons by color even though everyone needs her crayons organized by color.

I realize this is a random post, but that's all I have for today. I've been working on painting furniture for a friend (last night and tonight involve purple paint and a coffee table), and I finished cutting out my quilt squares yesterday. A photo of a big stack of white 3" fabric squares isn't very fascinating, so I don't even have a photo for you.

Ooh, wait! How about this?
They look kind of like that, except more rectangular and not as interesting.

Maybe I'll try the double knitting again today at lunch. That should be good for a few laughs.

Monday, June 11, 2012

It Has Begun*

This weekend was full, and this week and weekend promise more of the same.  Good busy, but busy nonetheless. However, last night I ironed the rest of the fabric for the quilt and decided to start cutting.

Here's something that shouldn't surprise me at all, but did anyway:

I love to cut little squares of fabric. 

I have my mom's rotary cutter and mat, and I measured and cut and measured and cut quite happily for a few hours. I finished all the patterned material, and I plan on doing the white tonight if I have time.

The first few cuts were nerve-racking because I didn't have any straight edges on the fabric and couldn't figure out how to get one. Turns out, you just eyeball it and hope for the best. It worked out fine.

This weekend I did painted some dining room chairs for a friend. Painting walls and painting chairs might as well be completely unrelated activities. One involves some taping and a lot of rolling and a little bit of trimming. Chairs involve lots and lots of time in weird contortionist positions painting spindles. Both the chair painting and the fabric quilting were tasks that were careful, detailed, and required me to get Zen. Breathe. Don't hurry. Don't think about how long this might take. Focus only at the task at hand.

I love this sort of work. It forces the brain to slow down and focus. It's tiring, but a kind of tired that makes me feel like I've accomplished something and also had a mental break. It was after similar work last week that I realized my work problem wasn't really that big of a problem. I just couldn't see that until I got my mind to be quiet and focus on something else. I think it gives the subconscious time to work things out without the conscious mind mucking things up.

Here's hoping the rest of the quilt is even half as enjoyable.

*To get the full effect of the title, you need to sing it like you're at Ascot in My Fair Lady. Anybody?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Better Than Ice Cream

Yesterday was a difficult day, and I felt the call of Dairy Queen on the way home. I decided it would make me feel worse instead of better, so I went to the Garden Center instead.

I was just going to get some good vibes from the flowers. I wasn't really shopping for plants.

...So, anyway, want to meet the new guys?

Origanum rotundifolium, 'Kent Beauty' oregano (my cell phone photo)

This plant is new to me, and it's stunning. It's an ornamental oregano, and besides having very nice, small, striped leaves, the blossoms are gorgeous. It's supposed to be a groundcover, so I planted it in the east bed to try to fill out an area while I wait (impatiently) for other things to get to be a decent size.

Geranium sanguineum 'Album' '(photo credit)

As much as I dislike annual geraniums, I love perennial ones. To me, they don't look like geraniums at all. I also planted this in my east bed where another plant died. I'm hopeful it will fill out like the one in the above photo.

The last purchase isn't a surprise.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince' (photo credit)

I've planted at least three of these, and every one has died. I bought one from Burpee, one from the Garden Center, and tried to split one at work. Failure every time. I told the garden center person this, and she was confused. It's an easy plant. It's drought tolerant. She was trying very hard to be understanding and said, "Well, we've had two very difficult summers, and you're buying this one early enough that it should have no problem getting established by fall..." Right! It will be different this time! When I planted it last night, I lovingly gave it some organic dry fertilizer and said nice words to it. I tried to not discuss my previous failures in front of it. This time will be different.

Don't judge me. It's better than a Blizzard.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I finished the last surprise gift. Click here if you'd like to see and your name isn't Rachel. I promptly cast on for another gift. It uses double knitting, which I've never done. The first row was pretty fiddly, and it took some work to figure out how to hold both strands of yarn, but after a frog or two I was trucking along.

When I'd done a few rows, I noticed something unexpected.

Double knitting is supposed to give you two thicknesses of fabric. Each side looks like stockinette, and one side is the reverse (in terms of color) of the other. Cool, right?

This doesn't look like stockinette. It looks like reverse stockinette. In non-knitter speak, it's bumpy instead of flat.


To the Internet I went, where I saw a video of someone doing double knitting.

It was dramatically unlike what I was doing. The knitter in the video was moving both strands of yarn to the front or back of the work EVERY TIME she made a stitch, even though she was only using one strand at a time. Who would have thought?

I admit to losing my cool at that point. I frogged it, but then it kept getting tangled as I tried to rewrap it around the ball of yarn. I also admit to yelling, "For fuck's sake!" and throwing it across the room. It was at this point that Andrew looked at me with an eyebrow raised and said, "Maybe you should go change the laundry while I rewind this."

Yes, that's an excellent idea.

In related news, I'm knitting Andrew a pair of socks.

3-1 Ribbed Socks knit in Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball Starke 6, colorway 1289 1701

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Shelf and a Rain Barrel

We have a closet in our entryway. It's home to electronics that I'm confident should be recycled since we haven't looked at them in years, too many coats (How many coats do two people need? The answer, apparently, is A LOT.), and winter accessories. 

This winter, Andrew and I found that we only wore hats, scarves and mittens from the top of the pile. That's the only part we could easily get to without causing a wool avalanche.

This is dumb. I knit a lot of awesome knitwear, and it all deserves to be worn.

Friday I bought two $10 plastic boxes from Ikea. Andrew's winter stuff is in one, and mine is in the other. It's a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

We had a rain barrel put in last summer. Andrew didn't like that it was balanced on a couple cement blocks, so he put it on some pavers. When he did, he asked me if I wanted it raised.

I said no, which was a mistake. I could only use a tiny watering can with it because everything else was too tall to fit under the spigot. I put off asking Andrew to change it because he had asked me, and I said no, and now I wanted him to redo something he'd already done...

Andrew redid it this weekend. See that green watering can? That's what I can fit under the spigot now. I may be a hippie tree hugger, but I am basically a lazy hippie tree hugger. There is no way I would water from the rain barrel in July if I had to use the tiny blue watering can.

Even though Andrew and I have been married nearly twelve years and have been together for over fifteen, I still sometimes am surprised by how wonderful he is. If I had asked my dad to redo something he'd already done for me after he'd asked me how I wanted it done... well, I wouldn't do that. Andrew didn't think it was a big deal at all. Each one of those six pavers is a 20" square, and they weight a gajillion pounds apiece. I couldn't even help put them in the cart or carry them from the car to the back of the garage. Andrew did it all with no complaints.

It's amazing the amount of happiness these two things have given me:
  • an organized shelf
  • a raised rain barrel
I suspect it isn't the physical things that make me happy. I'm lucky to be able to share a disorganized shelf and a yard with Andrew, and I'm even luckier that we can improve them together.

I hope you have this kind of happiness in your life as well.