Return of the Monkeymen

Just a quickie here…

When the site went down, I lost my best-edited copy of the Monkeymen pattern.  So, the pattern is back up…but if anyone sees anything I’ve missed, please let me know.

I really need to take some time & put it into PDF format.  That way I can just upload it to Ravelry and not have to worry about it…

Left alone too long with the computer…

You’d be surprised what I get up to when I’m left alone for any given amount of time.

It started innocently enough…I updated flickr. I updated my blogging (below). I updated Livejournal (bet that’s a name some never thought they’d hear my mention again). I went looking for my old backup HTML of because I wanted to look over past iterations & possibly incorporate them into WordPress.

I found some things on CD that never need to see the light of day again.  There’s something to be said for more than 10 years of working on one’s maturity.

But at any rate, that had me looking up on the wayback machine.  I saw inkyblacks going back to at least 2001.  There have been quite a few versions, particularly when I had other artnerds around me for long amounts of time.  I think that in one year I had over 4 versions of inkyblack.  Yeek!  Even more yeek-worthy?  I’ve used this template since at least 2007.   That’s a LOT of years of artnerd laziness.  Ouch.

I also noticed that I used to keep a couple of different blogrolls.    Three, actually.  One for folks I knew from work (not particularly relevant now).  One from friends on LJ (if they’re still on LJ, then I’m still reading bits & pieces as they’re posted)…and then there was the third, the list of “people I don’t know in RL, but whose blogs seemed interesting”.  Out of that last group of 19 blogs, only 7 are still blogging, at least at the domains they used to use.  I found maybe 2 or 3 who haven’t updated in a long damn time (anywhere from a year to over 4 years).

So in honour of nostalgia (and possibly I will be visiting those sites more often again, we’ll see), I’m listing them here:

Christine – Big Pink Cookie
Joelle – Tenth Muse
Kristine – Kadyellebee (more like a lifestream than a blog now)
Meredith – (lifestream & blog mashup)
Mikey –
Pamela –
Trish –

What I did on my March Vacation

Well, this isn’t the sum total of what I did on my vacation, but it took up a good part of last weekend.  I had a couple of sweaters-worth of yarn hanging around in my basement.  One lot was from Robin’s Grandfolks.  They had bought it on a trip to Ireland, and nobody had ever made use of it.  There was an attempt at the start of a sweater, but the aran pattern was definitely lost in the richness of the colour.  It looked like a muddy steel colour, but in the sunlight it showed hints of all kinds of blues.  The other yarn was from my mother — it had survived a basement flood in our old home in Yellowknife, where Mum had been storing it in a cardboard box (since then, any yarn stash in our family exists in Rubbermaid.  Just sayin’).  It looked to be a nice yellowish off-white.

Both yarns were in dire need of washing.  I picked up a bottle of SOAK at one of the local yarn stores ($16 at Pudding Yarn downtown) and got to it.

Domo-kun yarn heaven!

First things first, some skeining had to be done.  As can be seen in the picture above, most of the yarn (at least from Mum) came in factory-wound balls.  You’ll notice that the ball-bands are home-made, and just have the number “23” on them.  I am not sure of the significance of the number (neither does Mum…I asked her when she first gave me the yarn), but the original ball-bands were lost in the aforementioned basement flood.  Far as we know, the light-coloured yarn is wool.  That’s about *all* we know.  Domo-kun is wearing a home-made skein as a stylish hat.  This is easily done by wrapping the yarn around a couple of chair backs.

Skeining the yarn. Domo and the Yarn

Once the yarn has met the Domo-kun seal of approval, into the wash it goes!  The instructions on the bottle of SOAK indicate that a capful of SOAK should be enough for about a gallon of water.  Doing things the usual Maire-way translates to “squirt soapy stuff into sink & fill with cold water.  If you’re lucky, you get bubbles.   Bubbles, yay!”

Soaking the yarn II Muddy waters

Here we have the Yellowknife yarn, and what was left over after the Yk yarn came out of the bath.  GROSS!  Yes, this is why the yarn was kinda yellowish.  And a little stinky.  And more than a little rough on the hands.  Ewwwww!  I didn’t get a chance to get a picture of the water after the Irish yarn had finished soaking & had been wrung out, but that’s because there was very little water left in the sink. I have a dual-basin sink, so I had actually wrung out the Irish yarn in the empty basin.  Mainly because the skeins were so very heavy.  The Yk yarn?  Not so much.  Smaller skeins mean greater ease in wringing.

Of course, all this washing and wringing reminded me of my Grandmother Smith’s old soaker washer with wringer.  While I love my clothes-washer & dryer, and wouldn’t give them up for the world, there are times (usually when I’m washing hand-knits) that I would love a wringer-washer.  I wonder if they still make them, and if so, whether they have any smaller, portable, pack-away-able sized wringers?  It would get rid of about 95% more water, and not felt the fabric.  This *is* a concern 🙂

Hanging the yarn to dryBig basket of dry wool yarn

Toss the now-clean skeins into a laundry basket, truck ’em on out to the patio & hang ’em on your handy-dandy portable clothes-dryer.  If you’re like me and you live in the suburbs, chances are pretty good that there’s a bylaw that states you can’t have a clothesline.  Far as I know, there’s no law against using a portable dryer.  As long as you’re not flying the flag of Fruit of the Loom, I don’t think your neighbours are going to mind too much.
When you’re done, you’ll probably have a nice, big, pile of dry yarn.  You’ll notice in the picture on the far right just how fluffy and…downright HAPPY…that yarn looks.  It took about 2 days to dry properly.  We were lucky to have a very sunny, very warm weekend when I pulled off this little stunt (as a comparison, I woke up to snow on the patio this morning).  You’ll notice, also, that the dark-coloured yarn in that middle photo is most decidedly BLUE.  A very lovely deep blue.  As I look at the wound balls in my little office this morning, they look more neutral-grey.  It all depends on the light.  Whenever possible, look at your clean yarn in honest daylight.  It will tell you more about the yarn than you thought.  While the colour looks kinda blah to me right now, I know that the Husbeast will have one kick-arse blue sweater when I’m done.


Here’s my gauge swatch.  Looks like we have a winner!  After I finished knitting this, I washed it again, stuck it on the porch railing to dry, and measured it again.  We have gauge.  Robin will hopefully have a sweater sometime in the next decade.  Huzzah!

(special thanks to Chelsea, who provided run-on commentary and hand-holding where necessary)

Retail Therapy

Had to get the car registered today (nothing like waiting til the last moment), so I also took the opportunity to get some other errands done.  By the time I came home I had a bunch of clothes that I picked up on sale, cat foods of various flavours and densities (yes, densities), baking ingredients and a new small sketchbook.

I bought a moleskine.  It’s  not too big, and not too small.  It will fit in my purse, or my carry-around-bag, or even my back pocket without being TOO small.  I bought it for writing and sketching and just plain Doing Stuff.

I don’t know where the fear of blank pages came from.  Maybe it’s a childhood of zealous environmentalists telling our generation that wasting paper is bad.  Maybe my Dad made some weird sound when I scribbled all over his good matte board.  I don’t know.  As a result, I always felt weird starting a new project.  I have no problems ripping out multiple inches of knitting, but wasting drawing paper scares the living shit out of me.

So in addition to the moleskine, I also picked up a book that takes a look inside the take-along sketchbooks of various artists.  I’m looking forward to digging into it.  It’s always nice to remember that no artist does perfect work all the time, or sometimes even anything that looks vaguely recognizable.

Finally, a picture.  It’s warmed up considerably outside, but I thought I’d share this.  It was around 7AM outside the workplace on one of the frosty/foggy days we had recently.  Hell, we’ll probably get more, knowing our weather.  It’s been a winter of fog.  I’m wondering whether the Dementors are breeding.

Jack Frost Wuz Hear

Back in action

hoar frostI’m back!  Well, kinda.  I’d just started getting  back in the habit of posting when my webserver went down.  Even worse?  There was no backup.

Luckily, I had the last page’s worth of posts up on my screen, so I quickly saved the page & was able to re-create the posts last night.  I’m still trying to get all the widgets & plugins working again, but it will happen.

In other news, I’m getting over yet another cold.  First it was the flu in January, and now it’s a sinus cold.  I missed yesterday at work because I couldn’t get enough sleep the night before; wound up gasping for air all night.  Managed to get some more sleep during the day & took Nyquil before bed last night.  Let’s just say that the stuff works like a charm.

Also, trying to get used to Google Buzz.  All of a sudden, there’s a bunch of new stuff in my email.  I’m not sure if it’s a “you got your chocolate in my PB” or vice-versa type of problem.  It’s very close to FriendFeed, which was a great site…if you could get your friends out of Facebook long enough to try it out.  Something tells me that now the push is going to be getting everyone and their dog to either get gmail accounts (and/or Google profiles), or admit to having them…

Of course, there are two drawbacks that I can see.  One is that not everyone is going to find an application for it.  I have Google Wave, and I’m still trying to figure out a use for it.  Really.  It kinda reminds me of Netmeeting in that it has all these great collaboration tools…and everyone’s raving about them…but I have no real-world use for it.  Boo.
The second is that now you’ve got social networking in your email, there will likely be a whole bunch of businesses that will now have gmail firewalled away from its users.  For instance, I know that most major businesses will block Facebook.  Now your mail may be blocked away from you as well.

I will be very up-front in my dislike of Facebook.  Yes, I have it, and I crosspost to it, but I spend as little time on it as possible.  I don’t like the drama of “o noes, you changed my homepage!” every time they change a layout.  I especially hate being pestered to download “apps”.  I don’t care about your farm, your petshop, your bakery, or what quiz you took yesterday.  I’m more inclined to read your status to see what you’re up to in real life than to give a flip about some commercial product that just wants to suck away more of my time.  I very happily use Tweetdeck to skim my friends’ facebook status than having to go to their page, see their advertising, and get pestered by apps.  The worst part?  They’re now invading my email.  I’ve been going through privacy settings to see if there’s any way I can get rid of emails from applications saying “your friend is doing this…why don’t you?”  Well, I have friends who do drugs, but I don’t do those either.  I tend to not hang around folks who try to peer-pressure me into doing things that are bad for me.

I *like* decentralized applications that I can aggregate in my own way.  Twitter?  Fine.  Blog?  Fine.  Facebook?  As long as I don’t have to log into it.  Google Reader?  Great.  Feedly parses it well.  The trick is to find a way to aggregate the feeds & make sense of them all.  If Buzz will do this, all the better.  If Buzz is just another cluttered mess…well…I can’t see myself using it.  It’ll just be another annoyance like Facebook, with nothing but Farmville spam.

Press Release

Today’s post is courtesy of Chelsea, who started making up stories when Robin switched to another Rockband character (not his usual Lance  Pyston) in order to make her some monies to buy clothes to make the backing band look cool.

Lance Pyston

Lance Pyston’s meteoric rock career looked like it was due for a stall when the renowned guitarist reported a repetitive stress injury to his right wrist (eff you, he got it playing guitar) and a strict six months off the axe in the midst of an 81 date international tour.  But rather than cut a tour short, Pyston hired a series of stand in guitarists and took on the role of lead vocals for the tour, introducing the rock world to unsung stars.

Frankly, Rolling Stone doesn’t know what to make of it, as all Pyston’s choices for chops have been chicks.

But the big surprise of the international tour has been an online run of Lance Pyston-endorsed wrist braces, styled with studded and tooled leather depicting nautical tattoo motifs. Braces have been flying out of the warehouse and command sums in the thousands on e-bay. In six months, Lance Pyston has generated more income from medical devices as he has in the last two years of the extensive, gruelling tour schedule he’s maintained since superstardom.

Last night Lance appeared on stage long enough to tune a guitar and strum a few chords. Fans went mad, and the 17 second YouTube video has netted a half-million views.

I got your picture pages right *here*

Amazingly enough, one of the things I had planned to do this year is to post more to my blog.  And that hasn’t exactly happened.  Between relatives being born, cars breaking down, and folks getting the flu, there hasn’t been much opportunity to sit down and write stories about life or spread my own baffled opinions on the word around me.

And then I realized that sometimes the best stories in the world are the short ones.  Somewhere between That Guy redirecting all his/her twitter posts to their blog and the epic adventures of bloggers like the Yarn Harlot, there are all these smaller things that don’t take as long.

That, and I finally downloaded the files from my camera.  Go me!

I call this little snapshot “Resistance is futile.  You will be photographed”. Basically, we went to Eat Eat and noshed on French Toast and Eggs Benedict.  Yes, there is a photo of the maple syrup somewhere on my flickr page.  Because Maple Syrup is awesome.  Yes, Chelsea has not yet realized that one cannot fully hide behind a cup of tea. Yes, Robin has resigned himself to the fact that getting me the camera for Xmas last year was probably a Bad Idea. Yes, we went to the yarn store afterwards.

Chelsea and Robin