Friday, April 30, 2010

Knitting Machines, Happy Town, Dress a Doll

Here's a video of a wind-powered knitting machine, which is pretty cool. I have a cheapo plastic version of this kind of knitting machine, but it skips and drops more stitches than it catches. It's not worth the effort of cranking, by hand or wind.

And here's a slightly more cumbersome setup... I'm glad I don't have to cast on this way.

So, I watched the first episode of Happy Town, and had mixed feelings. On the positive: it has Sam Neill, and a sort of Twin Peaks/Harper's Island vibe that could work (TP was Art, at least in the first season, HI was trash, but it was entertaining trash), and it's set in Minnesota. On the negative: they got the weather so incredibly wrong right out of the bucket that I could barely watch the rest of the hour. I mean, it began to pour rain, and to thunder WHILE PEOPLE WERE IN ICE SHACKS ON A FROZEN LAKE!!!!!  I cannot state this firmly enough: if it's warm enough to rain, there is no ice left thick enough to support a person, much less multiple shacks and vehicles parked on the ice. Nor are there fresh flowers in stands on the sidewalks. Ice fishing takes place in the dead of winter, in the below zero weather. And of smaller irritation, but annoying nonetheless: while people in Minnesota do not sport the accents heard in Fargo (for the most part), there was nary a midwest twang or a you betcha to be heard in Haplin, MN.  However, the DVR is programmed for the show, and it took me several episodes of Harper's Island to get me hooked, so I'll stick with this one for awhile. But they'd better shape up meteorologically.

And finally, I had a spare hour yesterday, so I worked on the Dress a Doll outfit that I'm submitting to Judy Johnson (mentioned in yesterday's post). Here's what I have so far:

I do all of my paper doll designing on the computer. I drew over the doll herself, and then erased anything that wasn't neeeded for the outfit. I used the clone tool to fill in the fabric for the dress and the rose accents. I'll add details, jewelry, sparkles, shading and tabs as I have the time to do it. Download the doll yourself, and play along. It's fun!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Tab- Judy Johnson Dress a Doll

We're going to do something a little different today- Judy Johnson is having a Dress a Doll Event on Facebook, but you can play along even if you're not a FB Fanatic. She has posted an original doll, called Classy, and has welcomed one and all to design clothes for her. I won't post a picture of the doll here, but I will post my outfit when I get it done. A jpg of the doll and details of the event can be found here.

And while you're there, take a peek at the jaw-droppingly beautiful vintage reprint paper doll books that Judy sells. This is the only way many of us can own these fantastic sets. Her collection is amazing (I have a few of the books, but nowhere near the number she offers).She also has some actual vintage sets (not repros) for sale on the site.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

AI Season 9- Top 6 Elimination

We start in the Control Room- people in the dark, clustered around monitors, clips from last night. 3-2-1-Roll Open.

Randy's in a bright red cardigan and his usual beads. Ellen is wearing a black knit shirt with a white collar. Kara has a baggy black satin top, and long, dangly, blue beaded earrings. Her hair is both slicked back and frizzy at the same time, which is quite a trick.

Rascal Flatts is onstage first. Rascal (or maybe he's Flatt) has very long and pointy boots, and an embroidered and besequined white shirt that has been starched within an inch of its cotton life. The guitar player to his left looks just like him, only with darker hair. The guitar player to his right went to Justin Beiber's stylist. Their song is very Taylor Swifty- light and poppy.

We get a little clip of Fordmercial behind-the-scenes action. The kids are dressed up as vampires, though Siobhan looks pretty much like she always does. The actual commercial is a hoot- with Mike scaring the rest of the Vamps off with a garlic pizza. This is the best Fordmercial since Clay and Ruben played pimps.

Next, the kids all play Voice Over Artists with the Shrek folks. For a show that continually runs overtime, we use up many valuable minutes shilling this movie. I like Shrek, and I'm a grandma, so the chance of me seeing this movie in the theater is pretty high, though I may be the only person on the world who is not enthralled with 3-D animation, especially at eleven bucks a pop.

Finally, we get to the reason for the show: Siobhan is wearing a very short dress with an interestingly constructed light pink satin bodice and a ruched salmon satin skirt. Ryan sends her to the far end of the stage.

Aaron, in a black leather jacket over a print tee, is sent to center stage.

Mike raided Randy's closet for a multi-gray cardigan with black armbands. He stands closest to Ryan.

Lee is in all black, shirt over tee over jeans and boots. He's paired with Siobhan.

Casey has a black western shirt with a cross on the back. He joins Mike.

Crystal has tucked her dreds up in a huge knit hat. She's in denim tonight, and she looks worried when Ryan sends her to stand with Aaron. It worries me too.

And now, after all that jockeying, Ryan pulls Siobhan away from Lee, and marches her to Mike and Casey, and then announces that they're tonight's Bottom 3.

Ryan also announces that Harry Connick Jr. is next week's Mentor, and the theme is the songs of Frank Sinatra. Are they trying to sabotage Crystal?

Carrie Underwood, beautiful as always, in a purple sparkly outfit, introduces the band that opened for her on her tour. The Sons of Sylvia look more like The Cousins of Peter Petrelli- pale, mumbly, and angsty. They sing and play, but I don't understand more than one word in five.

We evidently have hours and hours to waste tonight, because another band takes the stage- this time Lady Antebellum, who it turns out is only 1/3 female. However, that third is quite pretty, with smoky eyes and a floaty top that is all serious and black on the front, and Arizona RV Park on the back.This song is actually quite nice- I like it better than any of the guest performances all season. I may have to look these guys up.

So, it's time to find out who is going home, right? Right?

Nope. Rascall Flatts is backs, this time with a barefoot Shakira in a Stevie Nicks suit, and some barefoot backup belly dancers. There is a whole lotta skirt going on.

And now, finally, it's time for the elimination. Mike, who needs to work on his game face, is safe, which leaves Siobhan and Casey.  My guess is that Siobhan is going home. I thought she did fine last night, but I seem to be the only one. All of the reviewers and most of the fansites panned her performance, and Casey has never been in the Bottom (I don't think).

Yep, it's Siobhan. Though I thought Aaron was headed out, I'm not really surprised that Siobhan is getting the boot. For a year that was supposed to belong to The Girls, Crystal is the last one standing. How long she stands remains to be seen. (And if they follow up Sinatra Week with, oh, say, Don Ho and The Music of Hawaii, it won't be for long).

Note to show: that's lampwork, not glass blowing

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

AI Season 9- Top 6 Performance

IGB raised $45 million dollars last week, which is nothing short of amazing. Way to go, people who donate via texting and credit card.

Randy is wearing another version of the patchwork v-neck cardigan. This one has brown, blue, white and gray patches. Ellen is in a black windbreaker and a soft gray scarf. Kara is in gray too- a sort of droopy, sleeveless thing. She has a lopsided neck adornment that seems to be made of sequins, rhinestones and cast iron. It looks heavy. And uncomfortable. Simon is wearing a v-neck gray on gray striped sweater, with the stripes going every which way.

Shania is both the mentor and the theme tonight. I don't listen to the radio if I can help it, and though I like some country music, I'm not very familiar with her work. She seems to have written a lot of songs, and to have worn a lot of slinky outfits while performing them. She's quite pretty and she smiles a lot. For her mentoring duties, she wore khaki green capris, a white blazer, and bootie shoes with very high heels. Tonight she has blue sparkles and soft curly hair.

Lee's up first, in a gray blazer, a shirt with an open collar, and a loose tie. He's singing You're Still the One, which I actually do recognize even though it's not the song that says we're still having fun and you're still the one. There are more than a few off-notes, but overall, he's doing a pretty good job. Not great, but pleasantly gravelly.

Mike is wearing a black jacket that fits well, which makes him look smaller, I think. Not small, just more trim. He's singing It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing. I wonder if Shania wrote it during her recent relationship troubles. This is pretty and yet dreary and draggy at the same time. The falsetto at the end was nice. So, Simon, wet=girly, eh?

Casey is in a half-unbuttoned Casey Shirt, and he's playing a pretty, inlaid acoustic guitar. I didn't catch the title of this song, and I don't know it at all, but Casey is doing a really good job with it. It's totally different from his usual Bar Band/Rocker take on every single song. I like this a lot. My friend Lorah mentioned that Casey often sings with his eyes closed, which I had never noticed. I can't stop seeing it now.

Crystal is wearing an interesting strapless dress built from brown hankies and a leather belt. I didn't catch the title of this song either, but it could be No One Needs to Know, since Shania doesn't suffer from Steve Miller's propensity to give songs titles that have nothing to do with the lyrics. This song is the polar opposite of last week's choice- it's peppy and light, a lot of bluegrassy fun. I would listen to Crystal sing anything, and I enjoyed this song too, though it certainly was not her most moving performance. I have a feeling that Crystal is going to be Doolittled- with the judges (and possibly voters) becoming bored by her consistent excellence. I don't necessarily want her to win, but I sure don't want her to go home yet. I may need to vote a few times tonight.

Aaron is in a black denim jacket over a gray checked shirt. He's sitting on the Stool of Seriousness, singing another song that I don't recognize. There are plenty of wonky notes, but he hits the Big Ones okay. Randy  declares that Aaron is the country artist of the bunch. Say what? I think it's Aaron's time to go home, but he could get Tim's leftover votes, so who knows.

Siobhan is wearing a dress made from Grandma's kitchen curtains, white boots, and a Tyrolean back brace. Also a spider necklace. She's singing Any Man of Mine, and I think she's doing a flat-out wonderful job of it (except for the bad notes here and there), but Lorah, Rich, and The Hub, who all listen to more radio than I do, say that this is exactly Shania's version. I expect to hear the K Word from the judges, but they don't listen to the radio either, I guess.

Worst tonight: Aaron, and maybe Mike (though his performance wasn't bad, just damp...)

Best: Lee, Siobhan and Crystal

Who's going home? Ya got me. At this stage, it could be any of them.

During a spare hour...

I took a break from BP,BN yesterday and scanned VR's illustration and turned it into an iron on transfer.

Then I sewed it together. It didn't need as much fabric as I thought I would.

I think she'll like it. The transfer makes the center panel stiff and shiny, but that's okay for a doll quilt. I think there are other ways to print on fabric without that result. I'll have to look into them.

Okay, back to work.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Misc.

Work on Big Project, Big Needles (a play on Mary's Big Project, Little Needles, which she knit for the book, and detailed the progress on her blog. I've seen pics, and it's totally beyond gorgeous. I can't wait for you all to see it too), is coming along well. So well, that I think I'll finish it this week, and have only a pair of gloves left to knit. On the other hand, the clock is ticking, and there is little time to dilly-dally.

BP,BN is a complex piece, which means that I have to take breaks now and then, both for my fingers and for my sanity. During those breaks, I worked steadily on the doll sweater for Voracious Reader.
Which I finished!

I knit it from leftover handspun yarn (and only ran out on the sleeve caps, and had to use contrast for them and the bands).

The lumpiness of the sleeves is more because I had to tear it out for incresases (due to using smaller needles and yarn than the pattern guidelines called for), than the handspun, though the handspun is not totally uniform either. It's a 3-ply, and I think it's Braider from Twisted Fiber Art. The sweater went in the mail to VR today. I think she'll like it

She sent me this computer drawing as a hint/suggestion/request for a doll quilt. So I think I will print an iron-on transfer and make it the center panel of a doll quilt. Soon (during my next BP,BN break).

And as soon as I possibly can, I'm going to read this.
But first, I need to get back to work.
Oh- Surrogates was quite good, Rome is sadly over, and the weather has been nasty, so I've been treadmilling again, and listening to Vanity Fair. I had forgotton that it was funny.
 So, it's back to work. Again. Some more.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bits and Pieces

yep... that's all I have... bits and pieces as I knitknitknitknitknit.

Well, except for the part where I mowed this morning, for the first time this season. Last year, my Mowing Music was Flight of the Conchords (I love Bret and Jemane unreservedly- I can listen to the Robot  song  and Carol Brown  over and over). But right now my Zune is on Crystal Bowersox repeat. Since I'm dallying with Apple (something I had heretofore avoided), I bought all of her AI performances and singles, and love them all. Saved is a hoot, and I suspect that Crystal did her share of smokin', drinkin', and dancin' the hootchy-koo (though the first time I listened to the full version, I mis-heard "I used to cuss and fuss. Cuss. Fuss", and still was not surprised...) (note: the full version has slightly different lyrics than the one she did on the show).

But mostly, I'm knitting- I'm in the throes of a Big Project, one that is going to eat most of the time I have left to complete the book, so that means I'm watching a lot of TV as I work. I'm catching up on Pullo and Vorenus and that naughty, naughty Antony. And I'm very sorry that the show was cancelled before they got to Octavian's years- they would have been pretty interesting too.

I'm also watching movies- yesterday it was Away We Go, with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph. It's a sweet movie, though a tad unfocused (and I thought the ending was a bit too pat- without giving anything away, if that was an option for them, why didn't they choose it in the first place?). But I enjoyed it. And it was interesting to see John Krasinski get away from Jim Halpert so totally. Also, Maggie Gyllenhall and Allison Janney were perfect.

Today, I think I'll change pace totally and watch Surrogates.

And the morning is slipping away while the needles call my name, so I'd best get to work.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Tab- The Ginghams, Becky's Winter Carnival

The Ginghams are too cute for snark, so I won't.

The above scans are all part of the set. The final 3 pages are the result of playing around with the color balance in a graphics program. I thought you might like them too, since no paper doll wardrobe can be too big.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

AI Season 9- Top 7 Elimination and IGB

I've been staring at the computer screen for awhile now, trying to decide what to do about tonight's recap. I took 8 pages of notes but most of them concern the assorted, exceptionally worthy causes espoused by Idol Gives Back, about which I have no snark to offer. So I'm going to label those portions DSS (for Deadly Serious Shilling), and let it go at that. You can safely assume that there was much heartbreak on display, and we can all hope that some of it will be eased by donations made tonight.

Ryan enters through Red, White and Blue spotlights. The Prez and Mrs. O do a bit of DSS.

Randy, Ellen and Simon are all in black suit jackets. Ellen is also wearing a scarf. Kara is in strapless, silver sparkle. Queen Latifah, holding down the fort in the Pasadena AI Annex, is also in a black suit jacket over a black and irridescent purple sparkly top. On a totally shallow note- she has the most beautiful skin.

The Top 12 are all together again, all wearing white, and singing some song that I think I sort of recognize. They've done something with the sound quality to make everyone sound like they're singing from the 40's, which isn't improving things. I honestly don't know if this is a new song, or an old one that has been rendered totally unrecognizable. Either way, it's not very good.

Jennifer Garner DSSs about Save the Children. Posh is so busy posing that she can barely read the teleprompter to do her DSSing. Cap'n Sully must have been in the audience last night so he could pre-tape his segment. Jonah Hill and Russell Brand do a lame sketch about manning the phone bank.

In Pasadena, the Black Eyed Peas take the stage. Fergie struts in a lizard skin swimsuit, extremely tall boots with built in knee guards, and a good wax job. There's a guy with halved Devo helmets glued to his shoulders, and some backup singers who just came from the Godzilla Vs. The Robots set. As far as I can tell, they're singing that they all wanna wash their hair. I wish they would.

There's only an hour and a half of this stuff left. Sigh.

Ryan DSSs. George Lopez takes the stage and roasts the judges half-heartedly (well, maybe he's doing it with a very full heart, but the laughs are definitely half-staff).

At about 40 minutes into the show, we get the Fordmercial- it's one of those stop-motion things where they freeze water droplets and spilling paint in mid-air, and then circle around it. It's cool to watch.

And finally, some real results. Ryan calls Casey and Crystal to center stage. Casey is in a white leather blazer with black piping. Crystal's dress looks vaguely Greek and Goddessy. It's actually quite pretty.

Casey is in the Bottom 3 (something I sort of predicted last night), and Crystal is safe, not surprising since she won the whole shebang last night.

Aaron has the sleeves of his white windbreaker pushed up past his elbows, and Lee is wearing a silky jacket. Lee is safe while Aaron joins Casey.

And with that, we're back to Pasadena, with Jeff Beck and Joss Stone singing I Put a Spell on You. Joss looks nothing like Anne of Cleves in a very slinky, gray sparkly dress. Jeff Beck is in a white sleeveless shirt with black flames (?). He's wearing an armband that looks like it's made from duct tape. Very tightly wound duct tape.

David Duchovny, Justin Beiber, one of the Jonaii, Chris Rock and either John Mayer, Michael Buble or Josh Groban (they're hard to tell apart) S very DS. The Secretary General of the UN, Morgan Freeman and Randy also DSS.

Alicia Keys enteres in a black satin jumpsuit with peekaboo shoulders and a pleated waist. I don't know this song, but it's flat-out terrible, though whether that's because the song is bad, or because the sound system is making Alicia's voice sound thin, tired, and weak, I can't tell. She segues into another song at the piano, but her voice is equally bad on this one too.

We're back at the phone bank, where celebrity almost-sorta-lookalikes man the phones, though that's really Slash, and there's last year's wackadoo Tatiana, in a cute haircut. And that actually looks like Octomom (I gotta hope there isn't enough call for for an Octolookalike to make a living). and Jim Carrey is there for a nanosecond.

Queen Latifah and Common, who co-stars in some movie with her (so this S isn't quite so unselfish, methinks), introduce Carrie Underwood, who is wearing a gold an black grace Kelly dress. The girl has pipes, though this song isn't the best showcase for The Show's Biggest Success.

More DSSing from Ryan, Ellen, David Arquette, Elliott Yamin, Sister Dominguez, and Bill and Melinda Gates. Ryan warns us that the show is going to go over time, but since they can't bring it in on time on a regular evening, I'm not exactly surprised.

I have never liked Wanda Sykes- her voice makes my ears bleed, and her humor bypasses me entirely, but her riff tonight on what they put the Bootees through is spot on.

What? There's business to take care of tonight too? Well, let's get to it. Siobhan, in a dress that looks normal except for the moth holes, Mike and Tim are up- all in reverse competition for the final B3 spot, which Tim wins (or loses),

I know that people pay big bucks for that artfully tousled look, but David Cook looks like he actually did go to bed with wet hair. Annie Lennox is stuck in the UK, but she sings a simple and beautiful song via satellite. In Hollywood, Mary J. Blige, Orianthi, Randy, and a bunch of other names that I didn't catch, are singing Stairway to Heaven. Blonde Mary is wearing bug glasses, and her shoulders look like they've been armor plated with bits of mirror. Hmm- I always thought you were "climbing" that stairway, not "buying" it. Shows you what I know.

Simon does his part, and we are now 10 minutes over time. Elton John, in a suit with silvery pinstripes and very oddly cut trousers, sings Your Song as a montage of all of the sad and serious and important bits plays on the big screen. Then Simon announces that an astonishing $15 million has been donated so far during the show.

And now at 17 minutes overtime, Ryan mentions that next week's mentor is Shania Twain, and the theme is Shania herself. Then he sends Aaron back to safety (and I try not to notice that something about the cut of 16 year old Aaron's pants is very odd). Tim has his smile at the ready, and Casey looks like he's going to throw up, and...Tim is going home. It's about time.

They hang on long enough to show Tim's montage, but not enough for him to sing, which, given that his looks are what kept him in the running for so long, is sort of apt. And at 24 minutes overtime, IGB ends.

I will say that I had ample opportunity during the show to think about my cars, and my comfortable house, and my full pantry, and my healthy family, and all of the complaining that I do about petty little stuff that doesn't matter at all. Perhaps if I try to do something good for someone every day, I can pay back just a little of my good fortune.

Consorting with the Enemy

It's all Crystal Bowersox's fault.

I finally signed up with iTunes, just so I could get the full studio version of People Get Ready, which isn't available yet (though I did download the rest of her performances).

I hope she's happy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AI Season 9-Top 7 Performance

We only have an hour tonight. I wonder if that will be enough time for Bizarro Ryan to make an appearance.

Lacy and Didi are in the audience. Randy is wearing a sweater made of big blocks of gray and white. Ellen is in white on white on white (shirt, vest, jacket). Kara still has Pauler Hair. She's wearing a white shirt with silvery sparkle fringey things, under a black vest. Simon is in a charcoal cardigan that has lighter gray sleeves, over his usual white tee.

Pretty pretty Alicia Keys plans to help the kids sing their inspirational songs inspirationally.

Casey is up first. He's in a dark blue blazer that, once again, makes his shoulders look narrow. I think someone got to him with a crimper and a curling iron- his wavy hair is pulled back into a softly curled ponytail. He's singing Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, which is inspirational in the sense that any bad breakup might inspire people to not think about the bad things they've done. I'm not inspired by this performance. It's not bad, but it's not good either. I think Casey has peaked.

Lee's hair is lighter this week. He's wearing a khaki green shirt with epaulettes, rolled sleeves, and a loosened black tie. He's singing The Boxer, which is also less inspirational than I was expecting (though surprising- outside of Clay singing Bridge Over Troubled Water, I don't think any Garfunkle and/or Simon songs have been performaed on this show). I'm old, and in the kids' (and judges') constant quest to Be Current, they often sing songs with which I am not familiar, so I generally am not aware when they chop up songs to fit the show's time format. That's not the case with this song, so I find it disconcerting hear such a radically different arrangement (not to mention being disappointed when Lee leaves out the part about taking comfort with the Working Girls). That said, this is a brilliant performance. Lee finally had his Moment. If I was an I-Tunes person, I would definitely like to hear the full studio version of this song.

There's Captain Sully in the audience, with a rictus grin on his face, probably wondering what the hell he ever did to deserve having to sit in the AI audience.

Tim is singing Better Days by The GooGoo Dolls, which is a song he could perform in Sanskrit and I wouldn't know better. He's wearing a dark gray henley shirt, and his hair is at the absolute apex of Carol Bradyness. Yikes- his voice has no depth, no beauty, and no tone. This wasn't even good karaoke. I'm hoping his looks have carried him as far as they're can.

So, Aaron is inspired by R. Kelly, which is dispiriting. He's wearing a gray windbreaker with the sleeves rolled about to his armpits. Again. I Believe I Can Fly is almost too big for Aaron- he starts wobbly, with the vibrato front and center, but he threw himself into the big notes and mostly pulled it off. I don't love this, but it's probably his best performance.

Evidently Siobhan was inspired by Miss Kitty. But since Siobhan resides primarily in Non Sequitoria, it's not surprising that her clothes make no sense- she's got feathers in her hair, butterflies on her shoulders (literally- big fake butterflies attached to a vine that snakes up from her waist), sequined appliqued flowers, a phoenix print on her gray dress, and shoes with wide ribbon laces cris-crossing up to her knees. All this to sing When You Believe, by either Mariah, or Whitney. Or both. But the moment she starts singing, I forget all about her clothes, and just listen. This is really really beautiful- pure and controlled and lovely. Big where it needs to be Big, soft where it needs to be Soft. Brava, Little Odd One! Stop Talking, Little Odd One!

While I have no interest in owning an I-Pad, I do like this commercial, with the lovely Gene Wilder song from Willy Wonka. Speaking of Gene Wilder, my friend Alan met him recently. Read all about it.

Mike is finally wearing a jacket that fits him. He takes it off, revealing a black, long-sleeved t-shirt with a slit neck, and plans to sing Hero, which I thought was by Seal, but I can't find any backup on that point. Mike gets the Mothership Lighting for the slow beginning, which I like better than the last half of the song. Simon opines that any song from Spiderman must needs be about Spiderman.

Crystal is instrumentless, in a long, black prom dress with a startlingly plunge-ful neckline. She's singing People Get Ready, which song I know not. She opens a capella, and.... and... oh. my. god. This is, flat out, the best, most amazing, beautiful performance I've ever seen on this show. In any season. I have chills. And tears. And the more Crystal cries, the more I cry..... just.... wow...

Worst of the night: Tim, though Casey might be in danger too.

Best of the night: Siobhan and Lee.

Best in the history of this show: Crystal

Bits and Pieces and Loud Noises

I'm taking four more projects to the FedEx office today, sending them to my editor. I just have two projects left to knit- unfortunately, I spent five hours working on one of those projects yesterday, only to discover that it was HUGE. So I tore it out, and will begin again. Sigh. Of course, just finishing the knitting doesn't mean I'm done with the book- several projects are out with test knitters, and I'll have those patterns to adjust (and correct), and then not long after the deadline, the rest of the work begins: copy editing and proofing. Work on a book is never really done, even after it's published. I still get questions about Knit One, Felt Too, which was published in '03.

I did have a teeny tiny little window (half of one evening) where I had finished one book project, and the yarn for the next had not arrived (it did the following morning), so I cast on a doll sweater for Voracious Reader. She came to a love for American Girl-style dolls a bit later than her cousins, so her dolly wardrobe is sadly lacking. I am looking forward to having time to sew some finery for her. This yarn is leftover handspun- I think it's from Twisted Fiber Art, but I can't remember for sure. I'm using the same pattern that I did on the many previous doll sweaters, which is an adaptation from Knit and Crochet Sweaters and Accessories for 18" Dolls, by Joan Hinds. I probably won't get to finish it until after the rest of the book projects are done.

Over the last couple of weeks while knitting, I watched Season 3 of Big Love, and am, as always, amazed that I root for The Hendricksons to make it intact (though most of The Grants could disappear and that would be fine with me). I've had the second, and unfortunately last, season of Rome on hand for awhile, and I've started watching that as well. Those Ancient Romans did a lot of naughty things...

And lastly- I decided to run the walking path in our city park yesterday, just for variety. We have a beautiful park, and the path is about a mile around the perimeter, so I figured I'd run it 3 times and call it good. I neared the end of the first circuit of a calm, lovely, quiet, and solitary run, and had just passed the Armory, when an extremely loud BOOM startled me (I'm understating here- I hate loud noises, especially unexpected loud noises. This was a LOUD noise, and my heart nearly stopped). At first, I thought someone had fired a shotgun very close by (accompanied instantly by an imperative command from my Mental Control Center: DUCK!!!!!). I did happen to look up, and near the bridge, about 50' away, I saw a puff of white smoke. So I knew immediately that  #1 it wasn't a shotgun, because shotguns don't create big, smoky puffs, #2 it wasn't a firecracker because while they do make smoke, they're nowhere near as loud as what I had just heard, and #3 whether it was purposely or accidentally set off, what I had just heard was an explosion, to which I was a witness (okay, I didn't see it, but I was there, and no one else was around).

I ducked back into the Armory (which is left unlocked for walkers who use the gym), and called the Sheriff  (and, yes, I hid in the Armory in case Explody Perps were hovering nearby- I didn't write six mysteries for nothing, lemee tellya). I waited there for the Deputy to arrive, told the impossibly young man my story, and then continued with my run (I'll admit I considered just packing it in, but I knew if I did that, that I would not finish exercizing). On the second circuit, the Deputy was still parked by the bridge. At the end of the third, he was gone, but by the time I got to my car and exited the park, a utility truck was there, and a workman was in the cherry picker up by the transformers on the light pole next to the bridge. Voila- a transformer blew.

I wasn't in the least disappointed for such a mundane explanation, though who knew that transformers could explode, much less so loudly? (Karen knew). And I'm heading to the park now, for another run. A calm, peaceful, quiet run. I hope.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Walk

In about a month, I'll be able, once again, to post pictures of the things I'm working on. But I still have 3 projects left to knit for the Fair Isle book (a pair of socks, which I should finish today, a pair of gloves whose yarn could arrive tomorrow, and a shawl whose yarn should arrive Wednesday). (Yeah, you read that correctly- a Fair Isle shawl!)(!!!). But the end is in view- the final weeks are going to be like the final weeks of every book- hectic and full of End of the Book Breakdowns. And probably sporadic, photo-filled, blog posts.

In the meantime, please continue to put up with my general blather (as opposed to my usual specific blather). We walked into town to get the paper this morning again.
Can you spot the anthill? It was too chilly for them to be out and about, doing their little anty things, but as soon as the sun appears, the top of that mound will be roiling.

The trees have a green tinge. Leaves are not far behind.

A week of sunny days, and these ornamental crabs will be in full bloom, and beautiful to behold.

When creek banks wash away, the fences are left hanging.

Lilac leaves!

These old-style grain elevators are disappearing as quickly as they can be torn down and replaced with huge steel bins. Even the smallest South Dakota towns had one next to the train tracks. The new bins are big, but squat, and they're not visually impressive. Our skylines will look empty without these elevators.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Free Dale of Norway Pattern Booklet Downloads

More Free Downloads here!

Yes, you're seeing correctly- instructions for a knitted Penguin Suit. Could anything be more adorable?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Free Dale of Norway Downloads

Omigod you guys! Dale of Norway is making some of their booklets available as free downloads, including the Commemorative Olympic Sweaters...

I'm hyperventilating...

(p.s. these are big honkin' files- give them plenty of time to download)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday Tab- Ploufmann Girl with a Backdrop

This is the last of the Ploufmann dolls from Denmark. I've so enjoyed sharing them with all of you- thanks Anonymous Danish Paper Doll Friend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

AI Season 9- Top 9/8 Elimination

The show spends a few minutes recapping the last two weeks, but I did that already. We'll skip right to the lights, camera, and drama.

Ryan says that over 34 million votes were cast last night. He doesn't, however, say whether the ratings beat America's hatred of Kate Goselin.

Randy is wearing a blue and white version of a sweater that I have right now in my closet. Ellen is in a white and black striped, long-sleeved polo shirt. Kara has a messy ponytail, and is wearing a strange black jacket with wide ruffles and lapels. Simon is wearing a fuzzy-ish charcoal sweater.

The group-sing is an Elvis medley comprised of the songs that I hate the most. This group has the absolute worst lip-synchers. Katie is doing something sort of Elvis-ish with her legs that she must never, ever do again. There is some seriously bad camera work going on- shots of empty stages and rushing feet.

The Fordmercial is all neutral, hybrid and Green. It's also boring.

Ryan focuses on the bleachers. Mike already has the bitchface as Ryan calls Casey, Aaron, and Andrew to center stage.

Casey, in a shiny gray shirt, has loose hair that may have been straightened. It also looks longer, though I assume he isn't sporting a weave. (and if he is, Kate Goselin's hairdresser needs to talk to him)

Aaron is in tan checks and epaulets.

Andrew has a black and green plaid shirt with a matching bow tie (meaning that the bow tie is made from the same fabric as the shirt) (seriously).

Wow, they're not wasting time tonight- Casey and Aaron are safe, and suddenly, Andrew is going home. Andrew is a classic case of unfulfillled potential, though not quite of Sundance Head proportion. Most of his performances were rightly judged against that amazing Hollywood Week bit. While it's important to do well in Hollywood, it's really best not to peak there. His good-bye performance isn't outright awful, but all of his vocal problems (weak voice, poor tone, inability to hold a note) are front and center. I will give him this- he's far more gracious than Mike was last week (or this week, for that matter).

Next week is Idol Gives Back. It's a nice idea, and they do raise a lot of money for some very good causes. But the show itself never quite works, and I don't expect this year's version to be any different.Lots of Big Names will be on next week, and it'll probably be a 2 hour show that will only feel like 6 or 8. We spend a bit of time with Elliott Yamin and Kara in Africa. Kara looks sweaty and natural (as in: no makeup), and she looks more human than usual.

Brooke White and Justin Gaston (who?) are performing now. Brooke is sitting at the piano, and Justin is playing a guitar. They sing Tell Me Why together, and their voices blend very nicely. Brooke looks good (and not at all like she's going to fall apart, which is nice), in a black cutaway over a slightly different shade of tight black jeans, and some very high heels. Justin is in black on black, and silly patent leather knee boots.

They yak for a moment, and then Ryan calls the bottom row to center stage: Tim, Crystal, Mike, Katie, Siobhan and Lee.

Lee shouldn't talk. At all. Siobhan is wearing a Siobhan Suit. Katie is in a one-shouldered, one-sleeved top, and almost no makeup. Mike has on a teeny little hat (I do hate stupid little hats)(also stupid big ones). Crystal is in gray and black, with several necklaces. Tim is in a brown linen hacket. And a smile.

Crystal is safe. And surprised. And kissing what I assume is a lucky necklace.
Siobhan is also safe, and very relieved.
Ryan jerks Lee around, but he's safe too.

Ryan takes a moment to announce that next week's theme is Inspirational Songs, and the mentor is Alicia Keys, and then he points out that Tim, Mike and Katie are left on stage, before introducing Adam Lambert.

Adam opens What Do You Want From Me in Beam Me Up Laser Lighting and green swirling fog. Through the murk, I can see that he's wearing a shiny, pearl encrusted jacket and more eyeshadow and mascara than any random Olsen Twin. That said, his getup is a great deal more subdued than many of his other outfits. This is a nice song. I hope Siobhan is taking notes on how, where, and when to use The Glory Scream. Once the lights come up, we can see his bedazzled ear piece.

Tim's smile (and those shirtless pics) save him again. And in a rare moment of candor, Ryan admits that one of the remaining two (Mike and Katie) isn't even in The Bottom 3. It's odd for the show to allow such a naked glimpse into its machinations.

Then just like that, Katie is going home. Katie is, of course, devasted. So are Crystal and Siobhan.

Katie has a very good instrument. I just wish she'd given herself a couple of years before trying out, I think she would have gone further. And I have to wonder- if the Judges hadn't saved Mike last week, would they have rescued Katie? I guess we'll never know.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

AI Season 9-Top 8/9 Performance

So, we're reaping the harvest of last week's Judge's Save- tomorrow, 2 of the kids go home. Ryan milks that drama for as much as it's worth as he descends the stairs.

And tonight's theme is Elvis, huh? I know it's almost unAmerican, but I have never been an Elvis fan. I acknowledge the contribution he made to music, without ever wanting to hear a single song from him (except maybe Good Luck Charm, and with that one, it's mostly the smooth rhythm that I like). However, the combo of Elvis and Adam Lambert should be interesting, at least.

Adam has dressed conservatively- he's looking very Young Kurt Russell, if Kurt Russell had favored eye liner and really tall hair back in the day.

We only have 90 minutes tonight, so we jump right into the performances with Crystal, who is wearing wildly patterned pants, a vest, cool necklaces, and fewer dreds than usual. She's singing Saved, and putting a wonderful gospel tinge on it, with a sqeuined guitar. As always, she is absolutely amazing.

We finally get our first glimpse of the judges. At first, I thought Randy's sweater had Tribbles appliqued to it, but on second viewing, I see that they're fuzzy smiley faces (which makes even less sense). The neckband of his sweater reads Frankie Morello in script. Ellen's wardrobe is sort of like Simon's- different but the same, always in shades of white, black, and gray. Kara's dress is also very Kara- oddly constructed (this one has a weird slanting neckline that goes from one shoulder to the opposite armpit, though it has two sleeves), oddly colored (sort of camoflauge), and sparkly. Her hair, on the other hand, is pure Paula- curly, and messy, and in her eyes. Simon's sweater is so Simon that it doesn't bear description.

Andrew is wearing a black jacket with a weird pocket chain, over jeans. He's singing Hound Dog, which may be the most predictable song in the Elvis catalog. That said, I really like this cha cha cha arrangement. Andrew's voice isn't up to the task, but his performance is better than I expected, and better than this tired old song deserves.

Awwww- there's Ryan and his mama.

And there's Tim and his 1976 hair. I've seen some online pics of  a shirtless Tim, which look pretty good, if that sort of thing appeals to you, (and honestly, it doesn't appeal to me). It doesn't seem to matter that Tim looks better than he sounds- or rather, it matters a great deal, since he's still in the competition. He's singing I Can't Help Falling In Love, sitting on the Stool of Seriousness, strumming an acoustic guitar. This is very soft, and he's barely in the neighborhood of the melody, but there are some pretty notes here and there. WTF? Is Ryan dancing with some guy from the audience? Can't be.

Lee is up next, singing A Little less Conversation, a song memorably desecrated by Jon Peter Lewis (who I liked back in his season, though I can't remember why- it's not like he could actually sing). I don't love Lee, but week by week, he's growing on me. The growl in his voice is appealing, and he's doing a good job with this song, in his banded leather jacket.

Aaron predicts that his Blue Suede Shoes will be wrong in every possible way. And by cracky, he's right. He's John Stevens/Kevin Covaising this song with every inch of his being. However, I never, ever want to see those 16 year old hips gyrate again.

Wouldn't it be amazing if the proximity of Siobhan to Adam Lambert created a critical mass that exploded Awsome all over the stage? It could happen, you know. Siobhan is dressed sedately for Siobhan. By which I mean that her outfit #1 looks like and outfit and not pieces randomly chosen, and #2 is all the same color. She's all in white, though the skirt and jacket have odd cutouts at the waist and shoulders (The Hub says that's so her wings can sprout), strappy boots, and a bit of sparkle. Her hair is tall, and red with white at the temples. I didn't write down the title of her song, so I don't know if it wasn't familiar to me, or if I just spaced it out, but she sounds very good. Her voice is well suited to it, though I could really, and I mean really, do without the screaming.

I just realized that the Glee folks are sitting behind the judges. You'd think that Glee would be right up my alley, but it doesn't interest me in the least.

Wow, Ryan is being overtly  mean to Brian Dunkleman. I wonder what brought that on. If he was going to get snippy about someone, I'd expect him to focus on Joel McHale.

Mike is singing In the Ghetto, which is perhaps the Elvis song that I loathe the most (though Taylor Hicks sang it in his season, and I grudgingly approved). He's doing  a soft and subdued, and I can't believe I'm going to say this- pretty version of this song. Mike just proved that he is worthy of the Judge's Save.

Katie is wearing a floaty blue top, leggings, stiletto boots, and many, many chains and assorted bits of metal. Working with Adam was good for Katie- she's sassy and assertive, and connecting with this song better than I've seen her in any performance. Brava, little robotic one!

Casey is up last- he has Sawyer hair tonight, and though I don't know this song, he's doing a very Casey job with it. It's no better, and no worse, than that.

Best tonight: Crystal and Mike.

Worst: Tim and Aaron, and though he did as well as could be expected, Andrew. But since 2 are going home tomorrow, all bets are off. It could be anyone.

It's that season again

The Hub took this photo from our front porch, in May of 1980 (I was huddled in the basement with the boys, The Hub wanted mightily to get in the van and follow the funnel) (we objected to that plan mightily).

This tornado disappeared shortly after the pic was snapped,. It did very little damage and caused no injuries. This is not the closest I've ever been to a tornado- that would be the one eight years ago, that went right through our front yard a week after we moved into the house where we live now. That storm did some minor damage (we found a portion of the Pizza Hut roof in our pasture later), but again, there were no injuries.

It's that season again- time to make sure that the battery-free flashlights are cranked up and placed in strategic places in the basement. Time to hope our luck holds. South Dakota can get interesting this time of year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blast from the Past- Counted Cross Stitch Plus Nov 1992- Trumpeting Angel

This design appeared in Cross-Stitch Plus, November 1992 (I did a ton of designs for House of White Birches magazines, and was a contributing editor to several of them back in the day). I always liked this one, though now that I look at it, the proportion between the head, arm, and trumpet is totally off. I don't know where this piece is today- I do remember that it was really sparkly. I like sparkly...