Tuesday, November 30, 2004

In the news

Item 1) Canadians love their health care:

Tommy Douglas, the former Saskatchewan premier who is credited with
being the founding father of Canada's health-care system, was named
Monday night as the winner in the CBC's Greatest Canadian

I'm surprised Don Cherry rated higher than Wayne Gretzky.

Item 2) Bhutanese love their health:

A tiny Himalayan kingdom known for its tough environmental laws has
become the first country in the world to ban all tobacco sales and all
public smoking.


I'm tired and have a headache. Besides the fact that I'm not sure I actually made any forward progress on my dissertation, I feel like I had a pretty good day. I went in for the tests at student health, ate breakfast, finished one of my mom's socks while sitting in Jack's class, went back to student health (I couldn't pee in the cup the first time), frantically tried to get some stuff done before my meeting at Duke, had an interesting meeting at Duke, and then found a fun book at Student Stores on my way home. After dinner I watched Gilmore Girls (quite an interesting episode tonight), One Tree Hill (I'm not that crazy about it, but the commercials had me intrigued about this episode), then went out and did the grocery shopping I didn't get off my butt and do last weekend.

I feel like mentioning more about the book. It's actually two stories, called "The Great Piratical Rumbustification" and "The Librarian and the Robbers" The stories are by Margaret Mahy, and the pictures are by Quentin Blake, who also illustrated several Roald Dahl books (explaining why it caught my eye sitting there on the sale table). I read half of the first story on the bus ride home... very good so far, and similar in many ways to Roald Dahl books. I haven't read any of the second story, but the description on the back is great: "'The Librarian and the Robbers' is an equally tickling tale of a band of wicked robbers who carry off the lovely and learned librarian, Serena Laburnum, who not only outwits the robbers by turning them into respectable citizens, but also introduces them to the everlasting pleasures of the Dewey Decimal System."

Depending on how the story is, I may have to go pick up some more copies for all of my librarian friends and relatives. ;) (Particularly a former roommate who's crazy about cataloging... ;) )

Monday, November 29, 2004

Chie's Crochet & Knitting

Chie's Crochet & Knitting

Hmmm... this Tawashi looks like a neat quick project. I'm not sure I'd use acrylic to wash dishes, but it would probably work in the tub.

Skin tags

For some reason, few people I talk to know what skin tags are. I guess the only reason I've always known is that my mom has them, and I have them too.

From InteliHealth: A skin tag is a soft, skin-colored growth that hangs from the surface of the skin on a thin piece of tissue called a stalk. Its medical name is acrochordon. Skin tags are not skin cancer and cannot turn into skin cancer.

Well, that last bit is a relief. ;)

Here's a "lovely" image from MedlinePlus:

skin tag

The ones I have frozen off didn't have as skinny a neck on them, though... they looked like lumpy moles. Since we're supposed to be careful about strange moles, and the couple I had seemed to be getting bigger, and were getting irritated by my clothing, I asked the doc about them. He said they were skin tags, and nothing to worry about them. He then froze them off. (Gee, what a pleasant experience. :P ) For some reason, they came back as moles.

They're probably nothing to worry about... they were probably just a combination mole & skin tag before being frozen, and so the skin that grew back had the extra mole pigmentation. Still, it's not nice knowing your doctor made funny faces, and tried to get you an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible. :P


Well, I went in to see the doc today about why I've been so tired, and he said to fast tonight and do tests tomorrow. So I still don't know what's wrong with me. I'm debating right now whether to nap for the next 90 minutes before my meeting with my advisor, or try to get something done. I know which I *should* do, but I also know which I *want* to do, and they're not the same. :(

The doctor also thought my two frozen-skin-tags-turned-moles were funny, so now I have a dermatology appointment after Christmas... just what I wanted to think about all Christmas. That ranks right up there with the two fillings I have scheduled for between Christmas and New Years. :P

On the bright side, a friend and I are going out to see The Incredibles Friday night. She tried to watch it over thanksgiving, but the theater sucked (the speakers were broken), and the kid sitting behind her was noisy. Hopefully we'll go to a late enough show that we won't have the kids to deal with. The theater we're going to is nice at least... assuming we can find parking. From talking to other friends, I know at least one person in the credits, and it sounds like I may know more. Cool. :)


I decided to not take Trazodone last night before bed, to see how I slept, and how I felt when I woke up. I was restless a fair amount of the night, although I didn't have the bizarre dreams I got the last time I tried going off Trazodone. Although, now that I think about it, they took several nights to start last time. I woke up this morning still feeling tired, and with a headache that is focussed in my right temple.

Tucking in my comforter helped a bit, but not as much as I'd like. It's still slippery and stretchy and tries to escape. :( There appears to be a flaw in my plan to have a wonderful comforter, but I'm not sure what to do about it.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Big baby

I've been following this story in the news:

A baby elephant that received a blood transfusion after being spurned by
its mother seems to be on the mend, Calgary zoo officials say.

My question is, if the baby needs the mother's milk, why don't they use a really big "breast pump" on the mom, and use that to feed the baby? That might also help the mother realize what it is she's supposed to be doing.

Of course, I have absolutely no knowledge in this area, so I'm a great one to criticize... ;)


Here's my ugly comforter:

Here's a "before" picture of the alpaca swatch:

Here's an "after" picture of the alpaca swatch, after the last wash:

Comfortable comforter

I was up *way* too late last night. :P However, I was also up late enough that I could pull my comforter out of the dryer and give it a try. It shrunk somewhat in the dryer. Oh well. It's still big enough. It's a bit stiffer than a comforter usually is, but it was nice and warm... it kept me at just the right temperature. It slides around on the bed more than my quilt... I've tucked it in at the bottom now, to see if that works better tonight. It's rather plain looking. I've taken a picture, so I'll look into the FAQ and see how to post it.

Comforter finished, & alpaca update

I hate quilting. Or maybe I just hate machine quilting a comforter on a cheap sewing machine, where it's nearly impossible to control the results. (Or maybe it's my skill, or impatience that's the problem.) I think being tired all the time made the job even more frustrating. However, I finally pushed through, and completed the quilting on my comforter. It's crooked, it has snags, it has places where one of the sheets folded over. However, it's done, and I think completely useable. I've tossed it in the wash (on cold, gentle cycle), and hopefully it'll come out useable after it's been through a wash and dry cycle.

Oh... I washed the alpaca swatch several more times, just to see what happens. Here are the results:
original size: 6" x 2.625"
1 wash: 5.375" x 2.375"
2 washes: 4.625" x 2.375"
3 washes: 4.375" x 2.25"
4 washes: 4.25" x 2.125"
5 washes: 4.125" x 2.125"
The swatch is quite firm now, and I can no longer see light shining between the stitches. I can make out stitches to a certain degree, but I think I would make quite a few mistakes if I tried counting stitches on this swatch. The stiffness would be good for slippers, but not for other types of clothing.

Well, the wash cycle finished while I was typing, and there doesn't seem to be any damage. It's maybe not quite as poofy as it was, but I'm fine with that. I've stuck it in the dryer on hot. That's perhaps not the smartest thing to do, but it would take forever to dry otherwise.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Sticky fingers

Why Martha? Can you really not live without sugar and spice and everything nice?

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The incredible shrinking alpaca

Well, I confirmed that alpaca yarn does indeed felt if you toss it in the wash. I started out with a test swatch in sc, 6 inches wide by 2.5 inches tall. I tossed it in with my whites today, which were set on hot. (I wash everything on hot.) I didn't put it in the dryer. When it came out, it was about 5.25 by 2.25 inches, after I pulled it flat. (Some of the corners had folded over and felted to the rest.) It made a very dense, solid fabric.

I now have an urge to make felted alpaca slippers... ;)

It's still a bit damp, but feels very soft. As to the allergy question, when I hold it against my skin, it still feels a bit prickly. So I guess it's not an chemical that's doing it.

For some reason, it smells a bit like a hair salon... you know, that smell of damp, slightly burned hair smell... I imagine it'll smell better when it dries.

Any ideas what I should do with a 5.25"x2.25" piece of felted alpaca?

[measurements corrected Nov. 26]

The day my impatiens died

Well, we must have had a bit of a frost last night, because my impatiens look like they aren't going to survive this bout of freezer burn. They had been trying hard, and doing well snuggled up close to the house. Oh well... having impatiens well into December really isn't natural... I'm used to having snow by now.

Good morning

Nothing like a good sleep to cheer me up. I'm feeling much better today, and am looking forward to my day off. I hope you have a fun day too.

TV, frogging, alpaca, superwash, and paper

Well, I'm still not up to watching "chick flicks". Tonight I watched "A Walk to Remember" on TV. Ignoring the parts that were heavy on religion, I really enjoyed the movie. However, it had a sad ending. It reminded me that I'm all alone. Reading what I'm writing, mentally I can tell myself that I'm being silly, but I still feel lonely and wish I had someone to snuggle with. *sigh*

Well, I started frogging a sweater I'm working on. It's the turtleneck raglan sweater made out of TLC Amoré. The sweater was ending up way too big, so I wanted to start over. I had a fair amount of the body done, and had started a sleeve. Since the sleeve was attached to a partially used ball, I frogged it, and started the new sweater with it. When I've finished off this ball, I'll start frogging the body, and transfer the yarn straight from the old sweater to the new one. I didn't want to have to ball it, since it was already using 3 6oz balls of yarn. Tonight I started on the neck, and got about 3 inches done, I think. I had to keep frogging at first, because I have a tendency to get confused and accidentally add stitches when I end a row in the round and make the turn. I added some stitch markers (the economical kind... scraps of yarn) at the turning point, and am doing much better now at keeping the same number of stitches.

I'd like to finish off this sweater soon, so that I have fewer projects waiting and in progress. I remembered tonight that I had another project waiting in the wings: a tapestry crochet pillow that I've bought the yarn for, but haven't started. Oh well, first things first... I'll finish this raglan sweater, then finish off the scarf I'm halfway through. And *NO*, I will *NOT* let myself go out and buy more alpaca yarn until I've gotten *BOTH* of these projects done. (Can you tell I'm sorely tempted? I haven't even fully decided what to make, I just want more alpaca yarn! I want to make a sweater, or a vest, or *something* out of dreamy soft alpaca yarn. *sigh*)

I wonder how superwash wool is made machine washable? Is it a method that can be accomplished at home? Can it be applied to alpaca yarn, or is it sheep wool specific? I'll be good and not machine wash my sweater, but it would be really nice if they made machine washable alpaca yarn. Of course, that would be even harder to come across, and even more expensive... *sigh*

Another thing I find interesting about alpaca yarn is that I find it both really soft, and scratchy. I read somewhere that sometimes an allergy to wool is really a reaction to a harsh chemical used to break down vegetable matter in the fleece. I wonder if that's why I find the alpaca yarn both soft and scratchy. I hope the scratchiness goes away when I wash my mittens. I wonder if I would find a different brand of alpaca yarn better? Well, I'm over budget right now, and have too many projects underway, so I will *NOT* order various balls of alpaca yarn on the internet! (The local yarn store only has one brand, "Inca Alpaca".)

And to finish off, I bought some really neat paper today. A class I'm assisting with will be going on a field trip to a paper store next week, so I got three different sheets to see what kind of origami is suitable for the paper. I want to do a David Brill rhino out of some neat gray paper that looks kind of like swiss cheese made out of spider webs. It's very thin, but has a lot of starch, so it should work. I also got a sheet of blue marbled paper from Indonesia, and a dark grayish paper with a print. I haven't decided what to fold with those yet. I should find some simple models suitable for the class... maybe something that would look neat as Christmas tree ornaments.

Well, it's now after 1 in the morning, so I should go cheer myself up by reading a bit, and then go to bed. (If I go straight to bed, I'll likely end up crying myself to sleep... being alone sucks!)

Take care, and pleasant dreams.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Comforter update

Well, I just whipped off another 18" worth of quilting. I think my lines are getting a bit straighter, but they still aren't pretty. The thread kept breaking tonight, which was annoying.

I measured my comforter... the final size is 8' by 5'4". (96" by 64".) According to my Quilter's Dream Cotton batt, a twin is normally 92" by 72", so that's not too far different. The wool batting I'm using is meant for a double, though, which, according to Quilter's Dream, is supposed to be 96" by 92"... I did squish it width-wise a bit, but I don't think by 28". I'll keep that in mind in case I buy another locally made batt... which I'm thinking about, in order to make a pair of wool mattress pads.

Okay... time for bed. Good night.


I finished off my alpaca mittens tonight... well, except for the embroidery design I plan to add later. But I have two mittens, both with thumbs, all ends worked in, and completely wearable.

I had some leftover gray that I don't need for the embroidery, so I crocheted it into a test swatch which I plan to toss in the washing machine. *gasp*! Yes, I know. Sacrilege. But I really like alpaca, and I really like machine washable clothing. I thought I'd use my tiny amount of excess to see just what the damage, if any, would be. I'll post any interesting results.

I'm designing to design

I think I'd like to design the following things to crochet:

- a stocking... yes, there's plenty out there, but I'm sure there's room for one more. I think I'll go for the traditional red with white trim, but then add a "frilly" Christmas tree design.

- stuffed animals... I think there's a definite need for more free stuffed animal patterns out there... especially really cute ones that would be great to donate to a Christmas charity.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Test Post

I thought I'd test out an alternate way of posting... I guess it works.

Comforter update

I worked on my comforter tonight. I'm doing the "quilting" on my handy-dandy sewing machine... which is a Walmart special. I'm not sure whether it'll make it to the middle, but I'll give it my best shot. Tonight I sewed all around the outside, putting one seam about a quarter inch from the edge, and then going back and putting a second seam right at the edge. Then I started at the top, sewing rows about every 1.5 to 2 inches apart. I made it about a quarter of the way down the comforter. I guess that means that in three or four nights I'll have a nice new warm blanket. :)

Or, I'll have a horrible mess.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

It might take longer... I haven't decided if I should just do rows, or if I should do both rows and columns, to prevent the wool from shifting around when it's washed. It's a locally produced batt, and hasn't been needle-punched, or anything. I bought it because the quilt store was out of the regular kind, and it's hard for me to get to the quilt store. (With the way the busses are around here on the weekend, I ended up walking halfway there, and all the way home. I'm guessing the total would be around 6 miles. Okay... I just checked mapquest, and it's actually a bit over 4 and a half.) I actually normally like supporting local farmers, and that sort of thing, it's just that this batt isn't as machine washable as the other kind. With my allergies, I have to wash my bedding every week, and I don't have time to baby a blanket. I want to be able to stuff it in the washer and dryer, and have it come out whole. I guess I should do the stitching both ways. I'm glad I bought lots of thread!

Oh... and my allergies are the reason I'm making a comforter in the first place. I had tried buying comforters, but they'd last about two washes before clumping and shredding. Maybe a more expensive comforter would have lasted longer, but I'm on a budget these days. Student stipends don't go too far... I'm comfortable, but not rich. ;)


I thought I would mention my quilt in a bit more detail. I'm doing a "snail's trail" (also know as snail's tail, or monkey wrench) quilt. My colours include a range of dark blues, light blues, and a sort of pink/peach/orange range. I know that last set of colours sounds bad, but that's just because I'm not good at describing it. I'm arranging the blocks so that I alternate "rows" of pink, dark blue, and light blue swirly objects. (It actually goes: dark blue, pink, dark blue, light blue, repeat.) Maybe one day I'll decide to try to post a picture. Or maybe not. ;)

A fun and "productive" weekend

I had a pretty good weekend. A friend and I went to an art show on Friday night... it was pretty creepy, so we left early and went Christmas shopping. I bought a present for my mom.

Saturday I slept late, then rode my exercise bike. I went to the front office to sign out two videos, then caught the bus down to the mall to take my mixed paper to the recycling depot there. I picked up a couple of household items and another Christmas present while I was there, and then looked at the art in two galleries at the mall. My favourites were some slightly abstract oil landscapes, and a *really* realistic looking watercolour of a reflection in a window. After dinner I watched one of the movies, then tacked together two flat sheets and wool batting that I'm using to make a comforter. By 4 am I had most of it done... enough that I could move it off my bedroom floor, and rearrange my furnature back to where it's supposed to be. Oh... I also did my laundry and baked pita bread.

Sunday I got up amazingly early given that I had only gotten to bed at 4. I did my grocery shopping, and washed all the dishes I had dirtied since last Tuesday (I dislike washing dishes... I ususally procrastinate until I have none left), and was ready to go by 1:15 when a friend came by and picked me up. We went ice skating, and then did some more Christmas shopping. After dinner I finished tacking my comforter together.

So... essentially I got lots done, but none of the research I had brought home with me. *sigh* However, I was reasonably productive last week at work, so I had *something* to show my advisor today. Just not as much as I wanted.

Today I fixed a bug in my code (yay, it was before the meeting), and now I have some other features I think I can finish before I go home today. Tonight I'll get out the sewing machine, and sew together the comforter for real.

My comforter is pretty plain, cream on one side, pale blue on the other, but I wanted it done fast. My current quilt is showing signs of wear, and it has the cheater polar fleece backing instead of proper batting. It doesn't breath as well as I'd like. Also, the extra cotton blanket I use in winter is absolutely decrepit, and I'm not sure it'll last much longer. I'm working on a new quilt (well, I've finished the design, sewn one test square, and cut out a few more pieces) that I'll put on top, and that will be nice and bright on top of the comforter.

I have no idea why anyone would want to read all the details of my weekend, but that's what I felt like writing during my short break.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Fun project

Hmmm... I'm tempted to crochet and felt a bag. I've just been reading about felting at Crochetville. Apparently Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool is good & relatively inexpensive... and dyes well with Koolaid. :) So I don't lose the link... Koolaid.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Well, my mittens are almost done. All I have left to do is the thumb on one mitten, and working in the thread ends. I'm also planning on adding some design embroidery... some snowflakes, or something. I had to do the thumbs in gray, because there was almost no blue left. I didn't think there would be enough for the thumbs, and I also want some blue for the embroidery.

Time travel

Yay... I think I fixed the order problem with my posts. :)

must stop fiddling

Hmmm... after messing with the time, I seem to have made it so my posts don't come in order. :( Hope that fixes itself from now on.


Okay... one last post before getting back to work...

I thought I'd keep a list of current projects I'm working on in crochet. Right now, I'm in the middle of crocheting (1) Scheepjes socks for my mom, (2) alpaca mittens for me, (3) a raglan sweater make out of TLC Amore (needs major frogging), (4) a "racing stripe" scarf out of Lion Brand Homespun that I started at a conference, and then ran out of yarn for (I got more yarn, but didn't restart crocheting it...), (5) an afghan that cannot be taken to class: it looked like it was done in pieces, but it's not. Projects I have supplies for include: a second sweater (Homespun), more socks (at least 5 pairs), and crochet thread for more snowflakes. Plus I have some miscellaneous yarn left over from various projects.

Ah ha!

Ah ha! I've figured out how to do a second post. Now it's really time to get back to work...


Hello world... welcome to my soapbox. I have no idea if I'll post to this often... I was just curious about this whole new blogging world.