Monday, March 31, 2008

The End of an Era

If 6 months can be called an Era. And given how my life has changed in the last 6+ months, I think it can.

We found out that my husband was (is) diabetic on Sept 15. On Oct.5, I joined Curves, as the Exercize portion of Diet and Exercize that we were undertaking to control his disease (battling Diabetes is a joint effort). It was a pretty major decision given that my middle name is Sedentary (you can look it up), but I dove in, and I worked my ass off (literally-as my granddaughter said recently, "Gramma, your butt disappeared").

Neither rain (not a lot), nor snow (plenty), nor nasty weather (nearly -30F some days) kept me from schlepping my lazy self uptown at 8:00am (9:00 on Saturdays), 6 days a week and elevating my heart rate to 75% capacity for my age group, for 30 minutes (and complaining, every single day about the squat machine, and the one I called Thigh Killer). I met some wonderful ladies at Curves, who have become my friends. We laughed, we cheered each other on, we sweated to the oldies (including a Euro-Techno version of Black Magic Woman, that was a crime against music in general, and Carlos Santana in particular), we gathered canned goods for the local food bank, we made quilt squares for charity, and we lost weight and inches together. One day, we talked so much, and so happily, that I did a 4th circuit on the machines without even noticing.

Over the last 6 months, I've lost 59 lbs (though 7 of those lbs were gone before I joined Curves) and 51" (by Curves' measuring standards, which counts each thigh separately) and I've gone from 47% body fat, to 38%. I started out wearing size 24 jeans and now I comfortably fit into size 12 (and I have a pair of size 10's that I can wear, if breathing isn't important). I've become fit enough that 30 seconds on any given weight machine, with a little jogging in between, doesn't make me sweat much any more.

So where is this leading? This morning was Curves' last day- the branch in my town is now closed. The next nearest outlet is 43 miles away, so I'm letting my membership lapse, but I'll be forever thankful for the push that Curves gave me on the road to fitness and health.

I'm not a new person- I'm the same old person, just a bit thinner, and a whole lot healthier. Since losing weight is the easy part, and keeping it off is the challenge- I'll continue exercizing (on the treadmill until it gets nice enough to walk outside, and as soon as it warms up, I'll start swimming every day). And if I'm being honest (tm Simon Cowell), I've probably moved beyond the Curves workout anyway. But I'm going to miss it, and the terrible music, and Anita, and Mary, and Mary Anne, and Edith, and Coreen, and Roxann, and Jean- my early morning companions. Ladies, it was my pleasure. Long may we sweat.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wooden Needle Video

Here's a video of some Wisconsin knitting needle makers, doing a local news story. It's pretty interesting, and as far as I am concerned, they don't charge nearly enough.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Your Freebies

colliegrl (from Ravelry) made this wonderful pair of Stranded Fingerless Mittens from my Freebie Friday pattern. She adapted the cuff to vertical stranded stripes, and I think they're totally beautiful!

The pattern is posted here:

Send me your pics of items made from any of the Freebie Friday patterns, and I'll post them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More for your life...

Tim Allen once described Sears' Toughskin (tm) jeans as polyester ugly pants, saying that your knees would wear out before the pants did.
Was he right? Tip-toe through the 1973 catalog with James Lileks of The Institute of Official Cheer, and see (or remember). Warning- don't drink while clicking.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Knit Picks Podcast- April 4

I did a Podcast interview with Kelly Petkun, owner of Knit Picks this afternoon! I've been an enthusiastic customer for years, and I've designed several patterns specifically for Knit Picks, but this is the first time we've *met* in person, so to speak (the interview was was over the phone). Kelly is a warm and gracious interviewer, and I had a great time talking with her. They're planning to upload the interview on the KP site on April 4. I'll be sure to post another link when it's up and running, but in the meantime, you can go to the main KP site and click on Knitting Community and find Kelly's other podcasts.

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Outdoor Paper Dolls #1513, 1948

This is Saalfield's #1513 Outdoor Paper Dolls, published in 1948. I have the original number book, but there was a different version with more clothes and the front cover dolls dressed differently. I have scans of some of the missing clothes and the original dolls.

This is a great *teen* set. I am fascinated by the shorts/ascot/bathrobe outfit on page 2, as well as the peek-a-boo front on the girl's lounge set.

Click on images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, covers on card stock.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

AI- Top 10 Elimination

I didn't hear most of the group-sing because I was too busy watching the terrible dancing. Not a one of those kids can move with the music.
The recap clips remind me that I didn't even notice Paula's Space Alien outfit last night, though tonight's Saloon Girl Ruffles made an impression. Not a good impression, but at least I saw them.

We start immediately by sending Chikezie to the Stools of Doom (which look like large, metallic martini glasses). Brooke is lucky, and safe, and Carly is forced to explain that she is lumpy, not preggers.

The Ford commercial tonight was too boring to register.

Then Ryan rushed David A off to the Couch of Comfort (does anyone actually believe he chose that song for himself? I smell a Stage Dad in the wings). David Cook inexplicably decided to wear a scarf as a back-pocket hankie, but is safe. Syesha joins Chikezie (was it the song, or the baby crying that did her in?). Though he's missing from my notes, somewhere in the mix, Michael Johns is given a reprieve as well.

Arrrgh! Constantine be gone.

Questions- again with the stupid viewer questions. How about just making the show 10 minutes shorter?

Season 2 was the first, and last, time that I loved the Top 3 equally. It was great to see Kim Locke again (though squooshing her ample bosom into that dress was perhaps an error in judgement). Her song was fine, her voice is still beautiful, she looks great, and I hope her restaurant is a success.

To my surprise, Ramielle is safe, also Kristy, who played the Flag-Waving Card and won, and which leaves sweet, stoned Jason headed for The Stools. Damn. I guess I'd better vote next week.

And it's goodbye Chikezie. I loved his voice, and I liked most of his performances, and his first Beatles' song was amazing. Go out into the world, Chikezie, and sing Luther for us old broads. We'll buy your album.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

AI- Top 10 Performance

So, tonight's theme is The Year Of Their Birth- these children who are all younger (some of them much younger) than my own kids, will remind me, for 90 straight minutes, just how old I am.

Ramielle had the goofiest hair of any baby, anywhere. Born in 1987, she attempts Heart's Alone, which was a major mistake, since Carrie Underwood pretty much put that song to AI Rest. But she gave it a good try in her high waisted shorts.

They're doing it again, even though last year's songwriting contest gave us This is My Now, eh?

Jason, also born in 1987, sings some Sting song with which I am not familiar. But he and his gorgeous eyes do a good job with it. Unlike Randy and Simon, I don't think he's coasting- I think that is what he is. And it's enough for me.

Syesha, yet another '87er, ignores my advice and tries Whitney once again. She sounded okay, but 7 Seasons of American Idol have proven that The Big W is the kiss of death. (edited to add on Wed. morning- not Whitney, but the opinion still stands)

I loved Chikezie's song, and I love Chikezie's voice, and the fact that he wasn't born in '87.

Brooke White, ca 1983, clearly does not understand the stalker vibe of Every Breath You Take. Two stumbles in a row could hurt her badly.

I am confused as to why the nearly elderly (born in 1978) Michael Johns was allowed to sing a medley. I don't remember that ever happening on a performance night. I don't know what the judges heard, but that was pitchy, dawg.

Carly (1983) must be using industrial strength straightener in her hair these days. I thought she sounded fine on most of Total Eclipse of the Heart, but that last note was beyond bad. Why the heck was she talking about bathrooms with Ryan?

David Archuletta was born the year my oldest son graduated from high school, which makes me officially old. I didn't recognize the song, but I liked his performance.

Oh, Kristy Lee Cook, do not trot out the Greenwood (exact quote from my notes: no no no no) .

You know, I still don't like David Cook ('82), and I don't want him to win. In fact, I won't shed even a pretend tear if he goes home tomorrow night. But his version of Billie Jean was not just good, it was the best performance of the night.

So who is going home tomorrow? Ya got me. It could be any of them, but if I was hard pressed to choose, I'd say Ramielle.

SKP2008 #1 Jacobean Socks finished

I had a little bit of extra time over the holiday weekend- not enough to start a new project, and definitely not enough to design new socks for the book, but enough to finish the Jacobean Socks, which are the first pair (of 5) for The Sock Knitters' Pentathalon 2008.
This first pair was a fairly simple pattern and yet it still managed to drag me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to knit the pair toe up, with a wrapped short-row heel. I didn't knit them on circular needles as directed, because I'm more comfortable with dpns, but on the remaining pairs, I won't have that option. I have a feeling that the next patterns are going to obliterate the comfort zone entirely, which is a very good thing for a knitter.

I think I was the 117th knitter to post a pic of my finished pair, so I'm well out of medal range, but I'm mostly just knitting along for the joy of it.

The yarn requirements for Pair #2 will be listed in the middle of April, with the pattern released on May 1. I'm sure it'll be another adventure.

Monday, March 24, 2008

First Yarn

We spent a lovely Easter with a houseful of family- on Saturday, my two granddaughters (age seven, and almost seven) finally noticed the pots full of drop spindles up on the top of the bookcase in the living room. Both are beginning knitters, and I hadn't wanted to muddy the waters with yarn production, so I'd never pointed them out (they've seen me spin, but I haven't had the wheel out for quite awhile). They confabbed and then jointly asked (demanded) to be taught to drop spin. I cautioned them that it wasn't a skill to be picked up in the 20 minute window we had for spinning, but they wanted to give it a shot.

This is the result. Not bad for the first time spinning, eh? Though they only made a short length of plied yarn apiece, they came up with a perfect use for their first yarn. And they're most anxious to make more. We'll have more time to play on their next visit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Acutal Knitting

I know this isn't just a knitting blog, but since I started work on the sock book, there has been precious little kntiting that I can show off. However, I was in between book projects last night, so I picked up the SKP 2008 Jacobean sock and worked on it for awhile. This is the 2nd sock, and I am past the heel (wrapped short-row, which is not my usual short row style) and have 1 1/2 diamond motifs left before the cuff treatment. The deadline on this pair is May 1, so though I'm well past medaling time, I'll still qualify for the next round (new pattern released on May 1).

This is a pretty pattern and the yarn (from Sunshine Yarns, Golden Snitch colorway) is lovely, and it was fun to work from someone else's pattern for a few hours.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Easter Card

Note that I put the dolls and clothes in the wrong pockets.

What better time to upload an Easter Card I made a few years ago?

This set was made from those adorable Daisy Kingdom patterns (with their even more adorable matching fabrics).

Click on images to enlarge, save as jpgs. Print this out for your favorite Easter Girls- the folder (print Landscape, the rest of the pages print Portrait) and dolls on card stock, the clothes on plain paper. Crease up on the lower folder line, and then fold the page in half. Trim the outside edges of the folded up section a bit, and glue the fold up (a glue stick works perfectly). Cut the dolls and clothes pages on the straight printed lines as shown, and then trim to fit into the folder. After cutting, you can store the dolls and clothes in the little folder.

I'm printing out and putting together 4 of the cards now, for little ones this weekend, and I realized that you'll probably have to trim the folder as well- after the bottom flap is folded up, fold the piece in the middle between the front and back design and trim the excess before gluing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AI- Top 11 Elimination

So Jordin has replaced my beloved Taylor as the lowest selling Idol winner. Just goes to show that you can lead people to pick up the phone, but you can't make them buy a CD.

The Beatles group-sing was everything that last night's performances weren't. As I watched, I realized that I am liking Carly more and more (which shoulda prepared me for the rest of the show, I guess).

Brooke is safe, no surprise there. Carly isn't: whoa. David A is safely on the tour, as is Michael Johns (I don't love him or his voice, but I fully expect him to make it at least to 4th or 5th place).

We not only have to watch a commercial embedded in the show, but we have to watch a commercial about making the commercial. That said, it was the best shill-job since Ruben and Clay pimped themselves out to win the affections of Kimberly Locke.

As little as I like David Cook, I would have been very surprised if he'd been in danger. Kristy Lee's Bottom Dwelling is no surprise since I fully expect her to go home. Knowing how AI likes to play, there was no way that either Jason or Ramielle (whose hair was out of her eyes for once) were in the bottom, since there were others left to torture.

The live questions are still supremely stupid.

For a fella of possibly ambiguous yearnings, Ryan sure is obsessed with Kellie Pickler's new boobs. Though I still don't like her voice, I did enjoy her performance- she polished up pretty well.

What in the hell did Fantasia do to her hair?

So, it's down to Amanda and Chikezie, but I'm not worried about either one, or Carly (even though she's in the bottom) because Kristy is going home, right?


Good luck Amanda. You should have made it to the tour.
I guess I'd better pick up the phone next week.
(edited to add on Thursday morning- I forgot about Syesha totally. Which says everything that needs to be said about her)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AI Top 11 Performance

In which we learn that featuring The Beatles two weeks in a row was just about as good an idea as it seemed.

Amanda looks fantastic- much better hair, and wrestling that Harley has done wonders for her upper arms. Back in the USSR was a good choice for her, though it pointed out her limitations as much as her strengths. I'm rather amused that she's blatantly using AI as a springboard. There's no way she is going to win, so she might as well get a career boost out of the show.

Kristy Lee was better than last week on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, but that's not saying much. It was still the worst performance of the night.

I'm a bit afraid for David Archuletta- he sounded very good, but the fear shows in his eyes now. I wish he'd waited a few years to let the rest of him catch up to that great big voice. I think he might fizzle.

An I-Phone endorsement in the middle of the show? Really Ryan?

Michael Johns continues to be completely bleh. His A Day in the Life was just plain bad- the 2nd worst of the night.

Brooke White made her first misstep with the perky-fication of Here Comes the Sun. When even Paula picks up on the yellow dress=the sun symbolism, you know you're aiming too low.

I hate to say it but David Cook's Daytripper was okay, but Simon is right- he's far too smug.

Carly's Blackbird was lovely. The best of the night, wearing the 2nd worst dress.

Small Digression: Who decided that ugly-ass floaty, polyester prints were this year's Big Thing? Once was enough with that stuff, and that once was 30-some years ago.

I can't help it, Jason makes me smile, except when he's making me laugh out loud. My Bill indeed.

Syesha went with the legs last week, and the bazooms this week, draped in Grandma's shower curtain. I loved the guitar, but not her performance. She'll be in the bottom 3 again this week, but will probably survive.

Chikezie is, hands down, the most improved performer this season. I loved the beginning of his song, but thought he speeded it up too much at the end. Even he suffered from a comparison to last week's superior performance.

I'm puzzled as to why Ramielle got the final slot- she has a huge voice, but it wasn't a good song for her. Her hat reminded me of those Tyrolean things we used to buy at the Washington State Fair, that you could get custom embroidered with your name.

Top 3: Carly, David A, and.... huge hesitation.... David Cook

Bottom 3: Kristy Lee, Michael Johns, Syesha

Going home? Kristy Lee
Please, next week do Polka, or Christmas Carols, or Gilbert and Sullivan. Anything but Lennon/McCartney.

Sigh of Relief

I spent much of last night rehearsing what I thought might be included in the interview with the Morning Living hosts on Martha Stewart Radio, which was a very silly way to spend a night since I only had a vague notion of what they were going to ask me. So this morning, I was no better prepared to be on national radio than I was yesterday, but I was a whole lot more tired.

But the interview went very well- the hosts asked great questions and led me through my 15 minutes painlessly. I don't remember much of what I said, but I think it was okay. I do remember talking about the fact that the grass isn't green here yet but the geese have returned (they asked about spring, so I wasn't just rambling).

Anyway, it was a great experience, I'm pretty sure it sounded good, and I'm very glad it's over.

Pattern Catalog Scan Tutorial- Part 3

The last part of the Pattern Catalog Scan Paper Doll Tutorial involves drawing in missing parts- in this case, making a new shoe match the existing one.
It's a bit trickier than just changing necklines and shading the bust, but it uses the same principles as the rest of the adaptations.
Just practice and play with your scans and graphics programs, and save your files under other names occasionally for insurance, and have fun!

Monday, March 17, 2008

How much 8th Grade Science do you remember?

I thought I did pretty well- I only missed 4 out of 26. But according to the mean teacher, that's just a C (not even a C+). Sheesh, you'd think they would grade on the curve.

I'll bet you all can beat me:

Pattern Catalog Scan Tutorial Part 2

This is a more complicated adaptation. We're fitting an outfit that has pieces missing, major stance changes, and adding the missing foot. The process is still the same, it just has a few more steps. Tomorrow, I'll upload the last part-adapting the brown shoe to match the original black shoe.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Martha Stewart Radio!

OMG you guys! I'm going to be interviewed on the

Martha Stewart Radio Morning Living Show on

Tuesday, March 18, at 8:00am EDT!!!!

We'll be talking about felting in general, and I Heart Felt in particular. My segment should be 10-15 minutes. It's a phone-in interview, which won't make me any less nervous, but at least I can do it in my jammies.

Martha Stewart Radio is on the Sirius Network, which means it's a subscription channel. We get Sirius music on our satellite dish, but not the talk shows, so I wouldn't be able to listen to it even if it wasn't live. But maybe some of you can hear the interview and let me know if I sound like a total doofus.

Here's the link to the Morning Living show- last week's schedule is still listed, but I imagine the new agenda will go up soon.

Saturday at Expressions Gallery

I've shopped at Expressions Gallery (formerly the Knit Nook) in Watertown, SD, for years, so it was great fun to go back for a signing, which just happened to coincide with the meeting of the Glacial Lakes Fiber Guild, some of whose members I know from the North Country Fiber Fair that I attend in Watertown every September. As with every book signing at a yarn store, I had a fantastic time- it was good to reconnect with friends, lovely to talk knitting and yarn (and crochet, and spinning, and weaving, and felting, and goat cheese, and banana bread). And, of course, I bought yarn- 3 skeins of Plymouth Boku (their Noro substitute, which is, in a lot of ways, superior to Noro) in a great coral/teal/gold colorway, 2 balls of Patons rust colored tweed Merino (both for worsted weight socks, though maybe not for the sock book), and a skein of absolutely gorgeous Trekking HandArt (hand dyed) fingering weight sock yarn in a colorway called Tundra. It didn't scan well, but it's very dark- deep green, deep browns, deep reds. I can't wait to knit this up. I'll see if I can get a good picture of it outside.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and I was invited back to their next guild meeting. I hope I can go.

Friday, March 14, 2008

How much wood


Pattern Catalog Scan Paper Doll Tutorial Part 1

Each page has specific instructions for what is being done.
I open the doll file in Paint, and then rename the file (anything- just so it's different from the original name of the doll file).
Then I begin the outfit selection and work in a different program (I have an old one called Ulead Photo Plus- Photoshop or any of more complex graphics programs will work very well). When I say to *try the outfit on*, I mean copy the outfit image from one graphics program, and I past it on the renamed doll, with the background set to transparent. You can fit the outfit over the doll.
When you're ready to manipulate the outfit on the doll (for a proper fit), you position the outfit over the renamed doll file and embed it (in Paint, that's just by clicking outside the image area) and save again. Now you can rename the file again, to the outfit name, and then go about erasing all of the extraneous parts and begin *fixing* the outfit.
We've started with an easy adaptation. This dress needed very little manipulation to make it fit the doll.
I'm sure there will be other questions- ask them in the comments section and I'll try to answer them (though I'll be gone much of today and most of tomorrow).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Before we start the Pattern Catalog Scan Paper Doll Tutorial

There are a few things you'll need before you can use the Pattern Catalog Scan Paper doll Tutorial.

First and foremost: You'll need a pattern catalog to scan. And most likely you'll need one that is several years old because the later catalogs use photographs rather than drawings.

Second: You'll need a scanner that does a good job with graphics (most scanners do, but ya never know).

Third: You need one or more graphics programs. I use plain old Paint for a lot of the manipulating. But I also use a freebie program that is about 10 years old, which came with one of our cameras. You'll need one that has: flip/rotate, lighten/darken, stretch and skew (Paint does this), smudge, and clone. Play around with your graphics program and become familiar with these functions. You'll use them all. (there are a gazillion image manipulation graphics programs out there- most will work just fine).

And before you begin working on clothes, you'll need to select the figure you're going to use for your doll. Find one that has the arms close to the body, and with hair that doesn't touch the shoulders (both of those things can be changed, if you can't find a suitable figure, but it's easier to go with an uncluttered *body*). A doll in a swimsuit, shorts, or underwear is the very best, but those can be hard to find in a pattern catalog (especially a Winter/Spring edition). If you can't find a scantily dressed figure, go with one wearing a very simple dress or skirt set. Try to find one without those *bendy* poses that pattern catalog artists love so much. The straighter her hips and shoulders are, the easier time you'll have fitting clothes on her (though stances come and go- and each decade has its own recognizable style).

You'll probably need to narrow not only the dress (so clothes fit over it properly), but the entire doll, again so clothes fit properly. And here is a chance for you to practice your cloning skills- if she's wearing something with straps, eliminate them and make her outfit strapless. That way you won't have to adjust the necklines of every outfit. Use the Stretch/Skew function to narrow the doll.

The most important thing to remember about doing this replication work is to save a copy of your original scan, and of each major step along the way, so if you make a mistake, you can go back to the last saved image. Save each with a different name (like Doll, DollA, Finished Doll, etc) so you know which is which. Once you have a doll you like, print her on card stock and cut her out. Test the stand- does she stand properly. If not, go back and tweak the stand. Does she look okay? If not, tweak and tweak some more. You may want to glue another layer of card stock to your doll, for extra strength. Once you have your doll chosen, printed and cut, you'll be ready to start making her clothes.

I've uploaded a page showing the original figure from the pattern catalog, and the doll that became Daphne.

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Doll, Daphne

Here's another of my pattern catalog scan paper dolls- this one is from the McCall's Winter/Spring 2000 pattern catalog. I called her Daphne. She's the doll in my pattern scan adaptation tutorial, which I will upload over the next few days (it's a lot of pages, so I'll do a few at a time).
Do not cut between the arms and the body, or between the legs on the clothes. If there is a dark line from the arm (or any part of the clothes) to the rest of the outfit, cut along that line.
Click on images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, doll on card stock.