Tuesday, May 31, 2005

now that I've got the hang of this sock thing, I frogged the Lorna's Laces sock so that I can redo it. I want to cast on with a contrasting solid color for the toe and again for the heel and a ribbed cuff. Because I'm just nutty like that. I think I just get obsessive until I've mastered a skillset, and then I get easily bored with it. Thankfully, knitting offers endless opportunities for me to find things I suck at and need to master. I doubt I will ever get bored entirely.

Monday, May 30, 2005

dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

When I was a kid, I had some "cousins" who lived up in the Idaho region. They were the children of my mom's best childhood friend, my Aunt Janie. We weren't really related by blood, but they were still my "cousins". Family is like that, you know? Bonds of blood or affection become indistinguishable over time.

One summer, I drove up north my grandparents and we visited them for a while. After weeks in an RV with two old people, I was relieved to have kids my own age to play with. We spent time at the lake, hung out, played, picked berries. One of those cousins was a girl just my age and so we were completely inseparable. Then there was The Little Brother/Younger Cousin, a blond kid who'd follow us around and want to play with us. We spent a lot of time evading him, though I (being an only child) was secretly thrilled with the idea of a younger kid tagging along.

Years passed and I didn't see them again. My grandparents and my mother kept in touch with the family of course, but we "cousins" were all busy growing up, living our own lives and making families of our own. I'd hear about them at family dinners, get the latest gossip from my mom, see the pictures on my grandpa's shelf and that was pretty much enough.

Last year, exactly a year ago actually - on May 12th, I got a call from my mom, letting me know that my cousin, that little blond kid from Idaho, Jeffrey had been killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. I hadn't even known he was in Iraq.

I am not going to go into how I feel about this war or the fact that it took his life. I will say that I think he was a really phenomenal person for joining the National Guard. He wanted to help the people in his community, he wanted to give something back to a country that he loved, and he kept a commitment and a promise, even though it meant going far away from his home, his family and the people he loved. Even though it came at great personal risk and ultimately cost him his life.

I never got to see the man that he grew up to be. He will forever be frozen in my mind as a little blond kid who laughed a lot, one far away summer in Idaho. I regret that I never got to see him again and I'm sad that he's gone.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I have discovered the joy that is sock knitting. It's all the Yarn Harlot's fault. I blame her entirely because she always posts pictures of socks in progress and I had to try one. And she was talking about sock yarn and showing pictures and... and.... well I just could not help it. That woman is dangerous and her blog should come with a Surgeon General's warning label. "Danger. Exposure to this blog on a frequent basis can lead to new knitting obsessions over and above the usual yarn... er... thing."

Woe is me, for life will never be the same. I successfully completed my first ankle down sock on #7 dpns and some Blue Sky Alpaca worsted weight cotton, just so I could figure out heel turning and construction more easily. I may or may not knit a mate for it. I've got another handknit sock that's missing a mate in similar colors, so I may just forego the 2nd sock. Now I've cast on for a toe up sock in Lorna's Laces sock yarn (jungle colorway, green and purple) with a feather and fan ankle pattern. And it looks great.

Because I needed another addiction Like I needed a hole in my head.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Spending the day purging stuff out of the house in preparation for tomorrow's garage sale. I feel a wee bit sad about letting go of some of this junk. However, it occurs to me that less stuff on the shelves means more potential storage space for yarn, so it's not all bad. I really just yearn for the day when I can have a whole studio space for myself. Room for my pottery, room for my textile stuff, and room for whatever else happens to catch my fancy. Dream a little dream.....
For the record? I think I hate knitting i-cord even more than I hate getting my teeth cleaned by the Very Stern Persian Dental Lady at Dr. Y's office. There is a significant lack of love for i-cord going on in this house tonight. Probably because I have to knit 6 feet of it and it's going very slooooooowly.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Heh. You know you've joined the ranks of the hardcore knitters when you knit in the line before the movie and all the way through Revenge Of The Sith IN THE DARK, without dropping a stitch.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I'll make it a twofer

3 Amigas
Originally uploaded by yarnpirate.
Before the grandparents start complaining, I suppose I ought to include the grandchildren, non?

I think all that purple hair is just a little bit of history repeating, really.

Originally uploaded by yarnpirate.
I know my parents sometimes check this journal, so hey mom! hey dad! I'm sorry I never send you any pictures. This is what I look like in case you had forgotten. You should visit more often. love, kisses, me.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I reiterate. Henna paste. Yarn. Never should the twain meet.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I'm not saying that the words "too much yarn" have ever even crossed my mind, because that would be blasphemy. I'm not saying that I've ever thought that. For the record, I will NEVER think that. I'm not a particularly religious person, but that's crossing a line, even for me. However, I will admit that there were a few moments today when I was cleaning out my yarn stash, where I said something like "my that's a lot of yarn." or "holy cannoli batman, pink and purple chenille? WTF was I thinking?" Well actually, I know what I was thinking. I was thinking I'd knit a poncho for Em and matching ponchos for her American girl dolls, but I never did get around to it and now she's out of her pink and purple phase. I'm not sure why I thought I needed all that Fun Fur. Burgundy and mint green eyelash yarn? Need I say more? I don't know what I was thinking when I got the chartreuse green monster fur yarn, either. I really don't. Was I planning on knitting a Muppet? The motivation is lost to me now. I'm keeping them, of course, because I'm sure I'll use them one day *cough* but I gotta admit, they made me wonder.

Lately, I have been rethinking my yarn acquisition strategies. I will edge into a dangerous grey area and say that it is entirely possible to have too much of the wrong kinds of yarn. One cannot, however, have too much wool or fancy wool blends. Ever. EVER. Or silk, cashmere, mohair or alpaca. Or, for that matter, summer weight cotton in fabulous colors. The same holds true for handspun, hand painted artisan yarns. Trust me. Never. Too. Much. Yeah, okay fine. I admit it, I'm a yarn snob. I'm also a bagel snob and a coffee snob. Deal with it. I have good taste. Life is too short to drink bad coffee, eat lousy bagels or knit with cheap ass, ugly yarn. Phwoar.

So now the stash is sorted. It's tidy. It only took me nearly an hour. I have everything now organized in clear plastic bags in plastic containers so I can look in and easily see what I've got. Yes, it is rather organized by fiber and then color and then weight but hey, we all have our fun, right? Were I being wise, I'd say that "I think I do not need to buy any more yarn for a while, but rather, find projects that will diminish my yarn stash and/or finish projects already in planning stages for which I have purchased yarn. THEN I may purchase more yarn." I dunno if I can do it.

My. That was a LOT of yarn.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I've been learning to do henna (mehndi) all day. A marketable skill in our tourist-filled beach community. House parties, bridal showers, a stand down at Venice Boardwalk... I've been looking for something portable and easy to take on in order to make some additional income and this is perfect. I'm also good at it, though the techniques will take me a while to refine of course. So that is exciting. 6 hours of class today and another 6 next week and I'll be done. Maybe a follow up session or two, but otherwise, fully trained. So next, I gotta start working on some promo materials and get myself out there.

Two things that do not mix? Yarn. Henna. Trust me when I say that you cannot knit near wet henna. You cannot apply henna near yarn. The two will be magnetically pulled towards each other and the results are tragic. Keep them separated, no matter how much they plead to be together. Unless you are dying the yarn with henna on purpose, in which case, fine.

The average 10 year old will inadvertently smear a freshly applied henna tattoo within 5 minutes. No matter how many times you say "please, do not sit on the couch until that dries." she will forget, sit on the couch, and smear henna paste all over the white jacquard slipcovers. Count on that.

I'm completely doomed because one of my East Coast friends sent me a drop spindle and wool top and roving and so now I'm going to learn to spin my own gorgeous yarn. Which will mean an irresistable yen to acquire yet more wool in various shades, merino, perhaps cashmere and silk and other fabulous fibers and eventually I'm gonna need a bigger apartment. Doomed, I tell you. Gods and generals, I love my friends.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I was talking to my dad about homeschool the other day and it sparked some musings. So I thought I'd blog it here, since various folks have asked me about my approach to schooling the girls.

See, I am all about the value of play. Lets take Emily, for example. Aside from the times when I yank her out of a perfect state of bliss and over to the kitchen table to talk about fractions or do something concrete, Emily pretty much just plays all day. There's a lot of, hmmmmm.... I've heard it referred to as "benign neglect" happening at our house. She's on her own a lot of the time. Don't get me wrong, we're talking and connecting a lot, but I'm not up in her face all day either. We co-exist in the same space a lot of the time, but orbit around each other a good part of the time. I've noticed that since we started this, she's less and less inclined to complain about being bored and more inclined to find something to read or do or study on her own, without me directing her.

Em gets up about half an hour before I do, maybe an hour, so she's got some quiet time. She generally uses that time to read. Emily is a voracious reader. We go to the library probably 3x a week, sometimes more if she's really into it. She spends a lot of time in her room playing, too. Right now, she's organized the bedroom into a veterinary hospital with kennels, an xray room, a surgery... all the fluffies are sick and being treated for various ailments. She draws up their xrays on paper and brings them out to show me. Maybe we'll discuss which bones are affected. I'll nod and look over the xrays solemnly and ask her questions about things. She'll present her case carefully. Then she'll go and jerry-rig some sort of splint or "cure" together. I believe she used a scarf and some chopsticks last time. She'll often have various audio-books going during this time. So how does this constitute school? Well if mommy jumps on it, we can learn about things like anatomy, bone structure, animal care and related stuff. Science. History of antibiotics, for that matter. Everything can be connected, if you're paying attention.

I have her write, every day. Sometimes stories, sometimes essays, sometimes I just let her go and do whatever she wants with it. I will sit and help her refine the idea, brainstorm, figure out what direction she wants to take it a lot of the time. Provide her with some "scaffolding" so she can build her ideas, etc. But the writing process is all hers. I'm not a grammar nazi 100% of the time either. The point is - WRITE. I'm also bypassing fussing too hard about her handwriting, because this is one area where the LD impacts her. I have no issue with her learning to type and use a word processing program. If she's hung up on physically forming letters, she's not creating or thinking about the process of writing, so we skip that part. Both girls also keep a reading journal, though Em's is haphazard at best. She's not too nutty about it, truth be told. I think reading journals are important though - it's one way I can check and see if they're grokking what they read, and also what they think about various things. Sometimes stuff from the reading journal can be put into a discussion or expanded on, or it will point me in a certain direction.

We don't do math every day. Every other day, in general. Right now we're primarily remediating and reviewing stuff she didn't get in regular school and making sure she's got certain skill sets down pat. A lot of our math time is spent at either the kitchen table or on the couch with a white board and paper towels. We just work at it until she gets whatever concept we're doing, and then I send her off to do some worksheets to reinforce it. Usually she comes to me during that process and asks for help a few times, then we review it when she's done and pick up any mistakes. It works for us. She's getting the concepts and that's what matters to me.

History is another thing we often touch upon. Right now we're studying women in American history, the fight for women's rights, sufferage, the right to information about birth control, the sexual revolution, etc. This takes the form of discussion and reading, sometimes television or movies get hauled in to the mix. I tie history to the present, and civics, especially since both her parents are pretty politically inclined and love to bitch about the current state of the nation. We'll probably go on to civil rights next. Maybe gay marriage and civil rights as defined by gender and orientation after that.

She spends a lot of time playing on the American Girls website (historical) and Neopets (fun) but hey, even on Neopets she is often doing basic economics, simple math and calculating her "points" as she runs her shop and buys things to care for her pets. Heck, she even had a conversation with me the other day about charity as a virtue, when her points ran out and she had to visit the soup kitchen to feed her neopets, which ran into a discussion about what kinds of values she wants to have in her life.

Stuff like: "Don't be a jerk. Be nice to each other. Help each other out when you can. Love each other. Don't be mean to animals and things that are smaller than you. Leave it nicer than it was when you got here. Don't waste stuff. Clean up after yourself and if someone else drops something, pick that up too. DO NOT spit your gum on the sidewalk, the world is not your ashtray. Don't hit. Don't kick. No karate moves. Feed people when they are hungry and give them something warm when they are cold. Flush. Wash." That's what I'm teaching her and that's what we talked about the other day, and we talk about that a lot. Values.

I digress, here. Sorry. Back to school and the value of play. My point is, play and "benign neglect" and plenty of time to explore and learn and figure things out on her own is a huge part of what I think the learning process should be all about. I'm just here to provide some scaffolding and a safety net. Point her in various directions. Help her see the connections between various points and let her explore them. The rest is up to her.

There are some areas I need to touch on more, but all in all, I'm pretty happy with the way things are going. I could build more on her interests, using the outside world as a tool, like having her volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue society, etc. I need to get her out of the house more, to outside activities more, to things in our community like museum days and special camps. I need to try to keep building up connection with other homeschool kids her age. Those are my goals for the immediate future. Otherwise? I'm pretty happy with it all.

So-chan, btw, is fascinated with serial killers (both modern and historical) and is also avidly reading about the life of Sylvia Plath and Plath's writings. Heh. I'm not too nuts about the serial killer thing, but Sorcha says it's a "what makes them tick" thing and professes to want to be a forensic psychologist or forensics anthropologist when she grows up, so I guess it's helpful. Creepy, though.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Take two

It's been another hairy couple of weeks. First and most sadly, our little dog Pekoe died last Friday as a result of a very aggressive and fast moving cancer. We are very sad, but she had excellent vet care and a lot of people were pulling for her to make it. I'm happy to say that as a result of my bag-making and some kind donations from friends and family, we raised nearly a thousand dollars to help pay the vet bills. I am still making and selling my Kureyon felted bags to help pay off the vet bill, but we got a good start, anyway. We are so very grateful and touched by the love and compassion that people have shown to our dog and our family during this time.

Pekoe's death coincided with the annual So-Cal Bowercon, our yearly trip to Ren Faire with friends from the LoTPW list. It is also when I hold the infamous annual Kareoke And Wine Party Chez Yarnpirate, and then we all go out to Sunday Brunch at Cafe Laurent to see our favorite waiter. It was nice to see old friends and I was glad that life went on, despite the sadness. I must confess to passing on the faire trip, being just a little too sad, but enjoyed the kareoke and breakfast the next day. Nice to see everyone. Sil, Deb, Eddie and Foxy came down this year, and Mishi flew out from PA, so we had a full house, though not as full as in previous years. Badger came by for Kareoke and Wine and also for breakfast the next day. The kids enjoyed being spoiled rotten at faire by the aunties and uncles, so all in all, a good time was had by everyone. Foxy, as usual, kicked everyone's ass at kareoke. The opera students who live in the apartment upstairs from mine could not be reached for comment, but I heard a rumor that they were hiding in closets, whimpering, until it was over.

The week before saw the Yarnpirate at Convergence 11 which was held in San Diego this year. I got to room with the lovely Ashbet of PsySheep and learned all about yarn dreads, and we also shared with Ephemerae of the Aussie goth zine The Aether Sanctum. A spifty time was had by all.

This picture.... just goes to show you can take the girl to the beach but you can't keep her from knitting.

And now, I think I'd better bugger off and knit some bags.