Once more into the fray

I’ve been gearing up for a redesign of Stringchronicity for a while now. Imagine my surprise when I checked the site from Twitter to find..well…nothing. All the source code was present, but the site had gone *poof* into so much aether. I took this as a hint that maybe, while my host was restoring backups, I should rough in the new design.

Stringchronicity cat logo

I call the little guy over there on the left Widget. He’s my mascot. After all, if I’m not posting up pictures of yarn, knitting or unwitting family members, I’m usually posting pictures of my cat.

Widget was sketched on paper, scanned, and used for Adobe Illustrator practice. I’ve been so far into networking tech that my graphic skills have suffered a little atrophy.

If I don’t wind up refining Widget myself, I may ask a buddy for help. Widget is destined to grace my collateral items like business cards and such.

I’m also getting used to WordPress’s new Gutenberg posting interface. I’m enjoying it, for the most part. I like being able to choose and customize elements and plunk them into the appropriate places. I particularly like having nicely ordered menus full of those same elements. It makes life a lot easier. I’m looking forward to seeing whether the Gutenberg block is something I’ll be able to make from scratch, because I have Ideas. ūüėĄ

I guess there’s a part of me that’s happy the site broke. It got me to stop hesitating about the redesign and start posting again. Ever have those days where you start thinking about a blog post, and it’s only later that you realize you never actually wrote it out and posted it? I’ve been having a lot of those moments, lately.


It’s amazing how looking at other blogs can remind you that you have one of your own that you’re sadly neglecting. It’s hard-truth time — I actually considered closing the door on inkyblack/stringchronicity and just creating a bog standard blogspot/wordpress site. The problem with that is the same I’m having here — What to put in it?

I had thought that I was getting better at generating content until I took a look at my post history. A handful of imports from Instagram had taken over the main content. There were a couple of posts about books that I’ve read recently. Not much else.

I didn’t even like the colours on the blog. Grey, beige and blue what? That’s not me. I needed to make some changes. At very least, time for a redesign!

Small-scale snapshot of redesigned website
That looks better.

I took out the big pictures from Instagram. Instead, I have the last 7 pictures showing under the menu bar. I’d like to work my way up to at least one Instagram photo per day (that explains the magic number 7, right?). Eventually I’m thinking of also incorporating my Flickr galleries somewhere. Baby steps.

That leaves the question of content. If I’m not just importing my instagram photos, I should probably be writing. I never know what I should or should not include on the blog. When I started out, years and years ago, it was all ego. Me, me, me and blah blah blah. Eventually I got to blogging my knitting. I quickly realized that I don’t knit fast enough to churn out the amount of sheer stuff it takes to be an interesting knit-blogger. At one point I tried to compartmentalize my interests into a daily post (ie FO Friday or Friday Five, Movie Monday, Saturday Yarn, Sunday Sock Class, yadda yadda). That lasted maybe two weeks. You may have figured out that I’ve gone through this particular form of angst before.

So this is what I’m going to try to do. I’m going to try posting a couple of times a week (at least). The subject of those posts could be:

  • Life Stuff: Because I do things. Sometimes well. Sometimes very very poorly.
  • Crafty Stuff: Because I knit and spin. Other crafty things less frequently because the knitting monster has completely overtaken my will to cross-stitch.
  • Music Stuff: Because I play the piano and will eventually learn to play the guitar. I also sing. Usually to whatever I recognize on the stereo. I have no concern for your eardrums!
  • Book Stuff: Because I read. I’m trying to read more.
  • Writing Stuff: Because other than a rather long hiatus where I channelled most of my dubious writing ability into attempting to blog, I have been writing fiction since I could hold a pencil. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. What a twist! I will post more on that as a separate blog post (yay, content!)
  • Writing Prompts: Both fiction and non-fiction. Because sometimes I need someone else to say “Hey! Sit down and write something, Doofus! Here’s something to get you started.”

I guess that means I’ll be writing about pretty much anything. Here’s hoping that this reboot is the kick in the butt that I need to justify my yearly domain name renewal and badgering of My Awesome Webhost!

Not forgotten

I am trying to defiantly not feel guilty about not blogging like I feel I should. Work is still rather challenging at this time, and the writing isn’t the only thing suffering. ¬†For starters, I haven’t managed to make it in to the gym in the past month or so. My diet is very erratic, but I’m trying my best to limit grains, starches, and sugars (because while they taste good, I feel a lot better without them).

I haven’t knit any socks. I’ve come close to completing a couple of plain self-striping single socks, but it hasn’t managed to happen. I’ve heard comments of “You’ve knit a LOT of socks, sweetie…maybe you’re all ‘socked’ out for a while…maybe take a break.” For the record, I’ve heard that from more than just the husbeast – my Mum and some friends have also made the observation, and it’s perfectly valid. I’m trying not to feel bad about not having my usual 3+ pairs of socks finished by this part of the year. My overindulgence on socks hit home when I went looking for a pair of straight needles that I’d stashed in a basket, and came up with two pairs of socks that were knit in advance for gifts this year. On the one hand, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about trying to bust out a couple of socks for people who deserve more than a halfhearted rush-job (if this ennui continues). On the other hand, it’s possible that those two pairs of socks contributed to the current state of affairs.

And it’s not like people haven’t been tempting me with sock yarn, so it’s definitely not a lack of beautiful materials that I’m dealing with! Unfortunately, I’m looking at some of those yarns and saying “ooo….that would make a lovely shawl…” ūüėČ

What have I been working on? ¬†Well…I finished off two pairs of these:

These are Susie Roger’s Reading Mitts in Berocco Ultra Alpaca (1 skein!). Only one pair is pictured as the other pair (in a pretty raspberry colour, no less) has gone missing. Stupidly enough, they went missing the moment I finished them. I distinctly remember weaving in the ends and putting them somewhere safe, but now I can’t remember where that safe place is. And that ticks me off, because even though I love my pretty purple handwarmers, I’d really like to wear the raspberry pair that I knit for work.

I also finished off my Pimpelliese.

Amazingly, the second half of the scarf only took about two days to complete once I’d put my mind to it. ¬†There was absolutely no yarn left over…my math was right on the money, and that’s a really big thing for me. ¬†Scary, but very very cool. There’s nothing quite like getting down to the very last two inches of the scarf and wondering if you’re going to be able to finish, or if you’re going to have to rip everything out (because you don’t have any more of the yarn in your stash).

I’ve also been making a bunch of these sorts of things:

They’re eventually going to make a blanket. Possibly a baby blanket. Not sure who it’s for, though. I know of at least one baby that’s due towards summer/autumn that might be able to use it, but I think the expectant Mum has started a very similar blanket of her own. Either way, I’m enjoying it as a “small” project that I can work on in front of the TV. I started out using old leftover baby yarn that was in my stash, and I’ve since picked up a bunch of colours that I love playing with. I think the pictures show the change, particularly with the frequency of colour block repeats. I may actually make more squares than I need just to keep some sort of consistency.

Other than that, the second attempt at the husbeast’s sweater is ticking along. I’d picked up a bunch of Cascade 220 (all in one dyelot this time!) at Gina Brown’s a couple of month’s back and have restarted the project. I’m most of the way through the body, and just cast on the sleeves a couple of days ago. I’m trying to make both at the same time on one or two pairs of circular needles, but I will admit that’s not my favourite way to knit in the round. I find the method rather awkward to manage. We’ll see if I wind up separating them and alternating them while knitting instead.

And that gets us pretty much caught up! I’ll leave you with a picture that never fails to make me smile…

That’s the Garden Zombie that Robin received for Yule. We named him Bob. Because the garden is currently waking from winter hibernation, Bob hasn’t been taken out to the back yard yet. Instead, he’s been hanging out in the husbeast’s office, on his old steamer trunk. ¬†The funny part is that he looks realistic enough that it looks like he fell through a portal somewhere and got chopped in half…

Sometimes you get it right

I’ve been meaning to post for days. To tell the truth, I’ve had distinct feelings of “Bloggers Guilt” for not posting sooner. Part of that is due to the fact that I’ve been going through a kind of “knitter’s block”, and part of that is due to a lack of time. ¬†We’ll take it in order:

Timesink #1: Work. I know, I generally don’t talk about the office on my blog, but in this case it’s pertinent. I’m working some fairly odd shifts and just went from a month of graveyards with relatively steady hours to becoming part of the rotation. The rotation is kicking my arse, and it’s partially due to…

Timesink #2: The gym opened! Between my new work hours and trying to log in workouts every day, I have had very little time to blog…and even to knit! That’s been the hardest adjustment, made even more frustrating by…

Knitter’s Block. It’s kinda like Writer’s Block, only for knitting. I managed to overwhelm myself with nothing at all. You know how the Yarn Harlot has a case of startitis at this time of year? I managed to quite literally stun myself into inaction. I couldn’t decide whether to design my own sock, knit someone else’s design, use this yarn or that…it was terrible. Add onto that the Sweater Disappointments from earlier this month (which I had been using to keep myself occupied until my indecision over socks had faded). I’m surprised we’re only halfway through the month; it feels like it’s been longer.

So what *have* I been doing?

We went to the theatre. It may not look like it, but that’s my striped purse-sock in front of the curtains at intermission. Obviously the lighting wasn’t optimal for sock-in-progress pictures as such things are not the main priority of a stage manager…

We saw a local production of “Assassins” that is currently playing at the Pumphouse Theatre here in Calgary. ¬†I definitely recommend going to see it if you’re in the city. No, it’s not a professional cast, but the actors do a great job for not being Broadway-trained. Yes, there are some hesitant lines, and yes a little of the singing is slightly off-key – and that’s part of the charm. We’re planning on seeing more productions. HMS Pinafore will be playing soon, as well as a production of Gypsy. ¬†Squee!

I’ve also been working on socks. Remember how I was talking about that tangled skein that I thought had the perfect colours for a pair of Breaking Hearts socks? Well, I cast it on and…it striped. Yep. Stripes. Not what I was looking for. That caused me more angst and had me wandering the house, looking like I was lost and worried. Even Robin remarked on it. Then I went back into the feedback loop of damning the fact that the sweater colours didn’t work, and thinking about designing a sock, and trying to decide if maybe I shouldn’t just knit someone else’s design…

And then I remembered a sock yarn that I had tried in other patterns and kept ripping back because it never worked before, and maybe, just maybe, there was an off-chance that it would work here. Imagine my surprise when it worked. The picture doesn’t do it justice because I took it in my kitchen during the evening with plain old overhead lighting (which has a yellowish cast), but it’s a mixture of pinks and blues. On many other patterns, it’s looked almost garish. Here, though…perfect. Again, the Breaking Hearts socks by Cristi H. Brockaway (which you can find on Turtlegirl’s Bloggy Thing). The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Merino in Winterberry. ¬†I’ll try to get some better pictures later.

So now that I’m no longer in my knitterly indecision loop, I just have to eke out the time to actually knit. Now that I’ve blogged…I guess that gives me a little time to do a little knitting!


(and I managed to find a better picture of the yarn, taken in the sunlight. ¬†Get a gander at the hot, electric colours I’m working with! Yowza! Perfect for the cold snap we’re currently going through!)


Today is my Saturday (Sunday for everyone else), so I’ve been very busy taking it easy. My morning tea was delayed by my own distraction – I went web surfing.

Having been on the internet since sometime in the early 90’s, I’ve come to find that we tend to stick to the known. I decided to take a look at an acquaintance’s blogroll (yes, she still had one of those on the side of her site), and allowed myself to just look at what’s out there. I guess this is the kind of thing I do when I’m all caught up on reading my RSS feeds and I don’t have anything more pressing to do.

Robin is happily exploring the world of Skyrim. It’s one of those big-ticket games that apparently folks have been waiting for. I lost track of the thread of things not long after the beginning of the game, but that’s okay…I’ve been reading. I’m allowed to lose track of the storyline playing out on the TV. I *can* say that the game is gorgeous. I’m not much of an RPG Video Gamer (despite multiple attempts on my part), but I can appreciate great artwork when I see it. That could, of course, be due to the fact that I really like the aesthetics of the celtic/norse-derived design, but somehow I don’t think so. Hopefully the Husbeast has many happy hours with this one.

I’ve also been working, off and on, on the latest pair of socks. I switched from size 0 needles to size 1 (2.0 mm to 2.5mm), and from Trekking XXL yarn to Lion Brand Sock Ease. Yes, the switch surprised me too, but I’m really liking the change. The yarn is of comparable texture and weight, but the Lion Brand is this lovely brown (Colourway: Root Beer) wheras the Trekking was a darker blue/burgundy that lost much of the textured design. I’m at about the same point as where I ripped back the last time, but now I’m much happier with the project. There’s just something to be said for taking the time to figure out what you want to get done. Now it’s just a matter of continuing to knit, and deciding what contrasting colour I want to stripe into the heels and toes. If it comes down to it, I’ll make another trip to Michaels for some sock ease in another colour.

Dear Lion Brand: More colour choices, please. Heck, get rid of the striping or variegated stuff, and just widen your solid colour choices. Navy, for instance, would be nice. So would Burgundy, Emerald Green, and Ruby Red. Seriously…the colour wheel shouldn’t be bound to the limited selection I’ve been finding ūüėČ

Pictures will come soon! However, I distracted myself so long while reading the web that I’ve lost the natural light. ¬†Oops! ūüôā


Testing the RSS feed…

Awhile back, my webhost did some upgrades to his server(s), and tried to also do some improvements. The best plans of geeks and men fell flat, and we wound up with some weird bugs. One of which was some busted permalinks. Next, I noticed that the hit count had gone down significantly. What this translates to is either I’m being more boring than usual (and thus my ego takes a bit of a punch) or what I’m writing isn’t getting out to the rest of the world.

Maire enters debug mode (and starts talking in the third person). Debug mode is annoying because it means I lose valuable knitting and vegging time to actually working, but things get done and despite my best efforts, I actually learn something useful (damnit).

Because my custom permalinks were pooched, I’d gone back to using the default permalink structure That means nothing to you, dear reader, but somehow it changed my RSS feed. ¬†This DOES affect you, as you might be using something like Google Reader to get the heads-up that there’s a new post instead of checking my website every day. And that’s OK. I use Google Reader too. I love it. I became concerned when I didn’t see my own posts in it (and there have been a few in the past couple of weeks!).

I turned plugins off and on, and checked the web for help, and finally figured out that the website had changed a bunch of things all on its own and hadn’t told me about it. You’d think it had gained sentience and was playing coy. ¬†It took about 2 hours, but I found the changes and have updated things, so hopefully this post (and possibly the last 2 weeks worth of posts) are now syndicating again.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I haven’t been avoiding you, Internet (and real life) Friends. My blog has been b0rked.

Just as an aside, I was considering giving my poor web host a break and just transferring everything to a pre-canned WordPress or Blogspot blog. Any thoughts on the matter? Also, if anyone is a self-hosted WordPress guru and has any idea why I might be having issues with permalinks, rss, etc – even after reinstalling WordPress – I’d sure love some feedback! I’m all about the tips & tricks, yo ūüėČ

Coming Soon: Knit and Crochet Week!

My Google Reader category for “Knitterly” contains feeds for 89 knitting blogs. ¬†It’s gotten to the point where I have at least 20 or more posts to read on a daily basis. ¬†I’m a great lurker. ¬†I’m not the best at commenting, though I *am* working on that. I constantly add new blogs to the category. ¬†Reader is great in making sure that everything is available on my laptop as well as my phone, just in case I have some time to kill.

I’m not just going to sit here waxing poetic about Google Reader, though. ¬†That’s not the point of this post.

I’m amazed when I read articles online about how blogging is dying off and folks are turning to writing shorter snippets in Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr formats. ¬†I find it hard to believe, because there are lots and lots of great knitting blogs out there…and it seems that there are more every day. ¬†I rather wish that Twitter had been around earlier; many of my earliest posts were one or two-sentence random thoughts that would have made great tweets. ¬†I consider blogs as complete thoughts with paragraphs and the ability to start a commented conversation. Tweets? ¬†Sometimes I think their impact is as significant as the proverbial fart in the proverbial windstorm. ¬†Twitter is fun, however, and it has its place.

The 89th blog in my Google Reader is Eskimimi Knits. ¬†I’m enjoying the design of her site, and I think I’m going to enjoy reading the content. Apparently she is the person responsible for a blog meme called “Knitting and Crochet Blog Week“, which is in its second year. ¬†For a week, participants all blog about the same topics. ¬†It’s like the WordPress Daily Post, for folks who like yarn (but not for a full year).

I’m thinking that I’ll have to participate. ¬†They have the topics already posted so that you can plan ahead for any photos, reference material, etc. ¬†This is a good thing, as I’ve noticed that things tend to go missing from my calendar.

Anyone else thinking of joining in? ūüôā

Missed it by *that* much…

There have been so many things going on around here lately, that something got away from me entirely, and wasn’t remembered until I had a moment to stop and think.

I’ve been blogging for about eleven years now! ¬†My 11th Blogoversary just passed, on February 21st. ¬†At that point, I had the domain for inkyblack.net, but I was using it just as a portfolio and personal website. ¬†Nowadays, a site isn’t complete without a blog. ¬†Back then, who wanted to see a series of essays on a theme, or a run-on journal? ¬†Most folks wanted just a small place to showcase their personality and, if they were talented enough, their work.

I started off with Blogger. ¬†I think there were a few of us in the office who were giving it a try, mostly the women. ¬†After awhile, I tried getting our web host, the wonderful Colin, to whip something up for me in mySQL and PHP (which he did, but it was less than elegant, I’m sorry to say). ¬†I fought with the manual coding for awhile, and I think that’s about the time I installed Movable Type. ¬†That was a sort of halcyon period for my designing…I was living with Robin and Mike (very creative atmosphere!), and Movable Type was very easy to design for. ¬†It had the necessary tags to call the back-end coding into play, but you could get away with just plunking them into a fairly static template. ¬†Wordpress was still in its infancy. ¬†A lot of Web Design chicas cropped up and made the community on the MT boards a lot of fun.

It didn’t last, though. I next moved to Livejournal. ¬†I still keep a backup of this site over there. ¬†Movable Type was going to a more commercial scheme, and those of us who didn’t want to pay for it basically went elsewhere. ¬†I went to Livejournal, made most of my posts “Private”, and stayed there until I decided to resurrect inkyblack with a better sense of direction. ¬†Thank goodness for importing.

We’ve been using WordPress since then. ¬†As mentioned, LJ is the backup, in case things go haywire (which they did last year when Colin lost the server to old age). ¬†It was a reminder that sometimes you just have to try and plan ahead for contingencies. I’ve been using standard templates while I try to figure out the tagging and PHP system that WordPress uses. ¬†Hopefully I’ll have that figured out soon enough.

That brings us here, though, eleven years later and hopefully older and wiser. ¬†Don’t bother going and looking for those really early posts…they’re still locked as “private”, and that’s probably a Very Good Thing Indeed. ¬†I tried reading some of them earlier and wound up wincing so much that I thought I might develop a permanent squint. ¬†My writing has developed a LOT since then.

Many bloggers hold contests for events like this. ¬†Sorry to say that I’m not one of them! ¬†For starters, we missed the blog’s 10-year milestone, and secondly, I have nothing to give away! ¬†Might as well wait for the 15th Blogoversary for that! ¬†What I *can* offer is better writing (hopefully), a fairly nicely produced podcast, and the knowledge that I’m working on making the site prettier and more navigable as time goes on.

Happy Belated blogoversary folks, particularly to those of you who have been reading for the past eleven years. ¬†You know who you are! ¬†Thanks for the comments, the constructive critiques, and company! ¬†You have no idea how much I enjoy all of them ūüôā