Monday, May 31, 2010

Tutorial- Setting Sleeves in a Sweater Body Tube

I find it so much easier just to knit a sweater body tube, and then cut the armholes (and do the neckline shaping) after it's finished- no jockeying with the chart motifs to make them match before and after the armholes (or necklines), no dealing with decreases, no extra stitches for the steeks. On the other hand, you do have to measure carefully. I say- measure carefully..... it cannot be emphasized enough: MEASURE CAREFULLY, and then proceed.

With this method, you can adjust the armhole length  to suit the finished sleeves, you can adjust the neckline width and depth and style. You can even turn an intended pullover into a cardigan if you want.

This tutorial was written with a pullover sweater in mind. If you're knitting a cardigan, the procedure is the same, just place the *seam* in the center front (instead of at the side), and continue on.

It's easy peasy.
#1- Lay the sweater body tube flat, with the *seam* (the beginning of the round) to one side. Measure the sleeve width at the top of the sleeve, and then measure that length from the top of the sweater body tube and mark with a pin. Repeat on the other side.

#2- Sew along the cutting line with highly contrasting waste yarn, stopping about 2-3 sts from the pin.

#3- Zig-Zag stitch along either side of the waste thread (or reinforce the new steek in your preferred manner)

#4- Zig-Zag across bottom of the cutting line, 2-3 sts above the pin

#5- Cut armhole open between the zig-zag stitching, to within 1 stitch of the end zig-zag stitches

#6- Both armholes cut open

#7- If you know how wide you want your shoulder seams to be, sew them now. Otherwise, just sew a couple of inches in from the armhole opening. (You can figure out your shoulder width when you do the neck shaping).

#8- Fold the new steek edge in 3-4 stitches, and whip stitch in place.

#9- Pin the sleeve in place and sew the sleeve in the armhole
#10- Sleeve sewn in place. Ease the sleeve around the lower opening edge.

#11- Voila!

P.S. You can do this with any sweater pattern- it's not just for Fair Isle.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hitchcock- FO

It's not a world record, but this sweater went together pretty darn quickly. And actually, I've had the assorted pieces done for a week, it just took me awhile to get around to assembling them.

I'll post tutorials this week, with lots of pics, for cutting/setting sleeves in a seamless sweater tube, and for neckline shaping. It's not necessarily easier to do both of those things this way- there are no pre-set guidelines for cutting. On the other hand, there are no pre-set guidelines for cutting, which means you can cut and shape and design your sweater after all of the knitting is done. It's wonderfully freeing.


Ta da!

See the tutorial on V-Neck shaping from a straight neckline here.

See the tutorial on Tandem Sleeves here.

See the tutorial on setting sleeves in a sweater tube here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

FO, Idol and Lost Musings, and WTF... Seriously... WTF?

Lookie here! I finished a pair of socks! For all that the yarn looked to be randomly dyed, the repeat is not only easy to see, it's easy to replicate. This pair is pretty well identical. Too bad these are destined for the Christmas pile, or I'd keep them myself.

(and since I embedded the picture before writing anything, now the rest of the post will be centered... sigh...)

So- I've had a few days to get over the disappointment of Crystal's American Idol loss. I'm still sad that her artistry wasn't rewarded with the crown, but my earlier (and wiser) notion that it would not serve her well to win, has returned. Crystal wants to make a living making music- I believe she's going to be able to do that now, win or no. And... it's just a show...

Which is what some Lost viewers might want to tell themselves.


I didn't have a problem with the series finale- I was in it for the people, not the mythology (much the way I was into The X-Files for Mulder and Scully, not the Black Oil). I thought the finale was moving and beautiful, and I literally sobbed when it was over. I know there were some questions left unanswered, but most of the answers are there with a little creative reasoning. This post does just that, hilariously. 

But, it was obvious that the Sideways adventures weren't truly things that happened because Oceanic 815 didn't crash: Helen and Locke were together (she was already dead), Jack had an adolescent son, Hurley always had good luck, Sawyer was a cop(!) and a long-time partner of Miles. The list is long, and the discrepancies from the earlier storylines too many to list. The Sideways universe was obviously *something different*. I didn't guess what that difference was, but I accept it totally.


Okay, so we were watching TV the other night, and The Hub usually mutes it during commercials. I happened to look up in the middle of a silent commercial, to see women walking/moving/running past unruly small trees... shrubs... bushes, if you will... and as they passed by, the assorted topiaries became trimmed and shaped- in circles, rectangles, and triangles. I sort of figured it was a diet commercial, and the trees were losing weight... How wrong I was...

seriously.... WTF?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rather Random Friday

I wandered around yesterday in a Post Finale haze. Between Lost and American Idol, my brain was/is fried, and I forgot all about the Thursday Tab. Sorry about that- by next week, my synapses should reboot.

So today's post is just sort of random things I'd meant to talk about but also forgot.

Many of you non-Midwesterners might not know what a Cottonwood tree does when it blooms.
Looks just like snow, doesn't it? The air fills with this stuff, it gets in your nose and eyes and air conditioner vents, and everywhere else it can travel on the wind (and here in South Dakota, the wind is everywhere). Luckily, I am not allergic- those who are, suffer mightily. And even more lucky- the big cottonwood tree in our yard is cottonless.

Here are the finished vinyl tablecloth raincoats for the 18" dolls. They look adorable, but the cloth itself is not sturdy enough to hold up to actual play (something I didn't discover until it was too late). It tears at the seams, and makes excited girls very unhappy (not to mention Grandmas who spent a couple of days sewing these things). I guess the lesson is to reject any tablecloth that feels stiff. The red gingham one is holding up just fine, and that cloth was a little more thick and flexible (despite being manufactured by the same company- same brand, same price, same store).

Surf's Up!

No title for this outfit, I just thought it was cute.

Note to Blogspot: please please please get the #$%&*# formatting fixed. I am very very tired of wrestling with the placement of each and every damn photo. It worked just fine up until last month- I want it back.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

AI Season 9- Finale

So, Lee and Crystal both auditioned in Chicago. I hadn't realized that.

We pan the audience- there's Carrie. and Jordin. omigod- there's TAYLOR!!!

Randy is wearing an astonishing flower print shirt. Ellen is in white on white. Kara is once again in a one-shouldered dress... and... wait for it... sparkles. Simon has a black jacket and a white shirt. Unbuttoned.

Lee and Crystal are dressed like Catholic School kids in red blazers and plaid and knee socks (well, Crystal is wearing knee socks, I don't know about Lee).They're joined by the rest of the Top 12, all in the same uniform- they all look pretty cute, actually. They're singing School's Out For Summer in front, while a chorus of kids enters wearing Alice Cooper makeup. And there he is, Alice Cooper his own self. At the end, rather than a Pointy Pose, Siobhan gives us a peek up her skirt.

We pause for the first of what will surely be many Simon tributes. Wow, he looked so much younger back in Season 1.

Siobhan and Aaron (odd pairing, that) are doing a Bee Gee's duet from the Saturday Night Fever years. They actually sound pretty good. And lookie here- the surviving Brothers Gibb. Whattyaknow- these four sound fantastic together.

We pan the audience, and there's The Hoff, not visibly intoxicated or weeping. Or searching for a hamburger.

Big Mike in a tux and wallet chain (which hangs far below his tux) is doing the Doobies. I am not in the least surprised when Michael McDonald joins him on stage.

Urgh- Dane Cook "singing" Simon's Greatest Insults. Not funny.

The Top 6 Gals take the stage. Lacey is in lots of different leathers. Didi's girls are front and center. Katie's dress is studded. Siobhan is once again dressed like a hooker. Paige has some gawdawful headband thing low on her forehead. Crystal looks like herself, in probably her 3rd costume change of the evening, so far. They're singing Beautiful. So of course Christina Aguilerra comes out, though she doesn't actually sing with the rest. They melt into the wings, while Christina, in a black swimsuit over sparkly tights, takes the stage all by herself.

Ricky Gervais is much funnier than Dane Cook, though not tonight.

We've got Lee paired with Hall and Oats. John Oates just doesn't look right without the pornstache. H&O sound good, but Lee is stinking up the joint. I don't harbor any animosity for the kid, but truly, he doesn't come close to hitting even half of the notes on any given song that he attempts. He can't talk, and a fair portion of the time, he can't sing. How did he make it this far?

Crystal is dressed in saloon girl undergarments over leggings, and omigod, there's Alanis Morisette. There is a lot of strutting, and artful changing of lyrics so as not to sing about oral sex.

Carrie Underwood is out next, and they don't even pretend to have their Most Successful (not to mention Most Beautiful) Idol sing with any of this year's crop. She's wearing a strange little ruffly bolero that appears to have been made entirely of zippers. This song is not a very good showcase for Carrie's amazing voice. Ah, it was co-written by Carrie herself, with help from Kara. That explains it.

aaaawwwww- Lee and Crystal each get a free Ford. And we see a montage of all of this season's Fordmercials, including the vampire one, which was my favorite.

Casey's up now, singing Every Rose Has a Thorn, and if that means what I think it means... Oh my goodness. Please, Brett Michaels, don't die on stage right here in front of us.

More audience panning, focusing briefly on people that I have a nagging suspicion that I should recognize.

Chicago (minus Peter Cetera) is with Lee now. I have always loved If You Leave Me Now, and am thrilled to hear it tonight, even though Lee hasn't hit a single note properly yet.

There's Matt Rogers, the Will Sasso of American Idol.

And more Simon montage/roast/tribute clips, in many of which he feels himself up. There is some sort of cryptic exchange between Simon and Ryan after the montage.

Oho! Did I call it a couple of weeks ago, or what? Lookin' like a foo, witcher pants onna groun'. Lookin' even more like a foo with William Hung on stage.

And now it's Pauler's turn. Did she have a nose j ob, or was her nose always that pointy? She's wearing a pink, strapless, poofy bubble dress, and she's as incoherent as ever. One thing is clear from the montages: Simon's hair has always been awful.

I almost didn't recognize Kelly Clarkson at first. I did recognize Ruben. And Fantasia. and Carrie. And Jordin. And Taylor!! And I think I'll add a few more of those: !!!!!!!, and Kris Allen. All of the American Idol winners except David Cook. Adding to the fun, a parade of other alums, and this is far from an all-inclusive list: David Archuletta. Jason Castro, Diana DeGarmo, Bo Bice, Allison Iraheta, Kimberly Caldwell, Justin Guarini, Constantine Maroulis, Michael Johns, Brooke White, Chris Richardson, and Elliott Yamin. I wish they'd taken time to introduce all of them- each and every one deserves a bit of applause. (P.S. No Clay, no Kimberley Locke, no Adam Lambert).

After the commercial, the black stage is suddenly illuminated by multiple streaks of green laser lights. The Top 12, all in black and many in sparkles, sings... something... and Janet Jackson, fresh from the S&M Renaissance Faire, appears. Her Anna from V hairstyle is... well... interesting. She also has no need to perform with any lowly Idol contestants- she stands front and center, with her Morticia Adams hem arrayed around her, and quietly sings some soft ballad, and then goes behind a curtain to strip down, as backup dancers whose faces are covered with weirdly printed fabric, gyrate. Janet re-enters in a skin-tight catsuit (as if there is any other kind). I've never been a JJ fan, so I'm not quite as impressed as the studio audience, or the judges, though I do appreciate the job her outfit is doing in keeping her breasts properly corralled..

Crystal and Lee sing their final duet, With A Little Help from My Friends, and by damn, if Joe Cocker doesn't show up, sounding fine, and looking goofy in a jacket made from my grandma's curtains. Wow! this is the performance of the evening, as far as I am concerned.

It's three minutes to 9:00pm, and we cut to a commercial, so I suspect that we're going to go overtime. My guess is that Paula rambled beyond her allotment.

So, finally, we're back to the reason for this show, why I've spent 2-3 nights every week, taking notes, for the last four months....


we get the guy who doesn't hit but 5 notes out of every 10 that he sings (though I'll grant you that the ones he does hit, sound just fine. And his studio recordings also sound fine).  And I know that I've said all along that it'll be better for Crystal not to win, that it's better for her to come in 6th, or 4th, or 2nd than to win and be seen as a failure for staying true to her own not-so-marketable vision... but.... there's no getting around it: I am so so so disappointed. For me. For her. And for this cheesy show that I've loved from the beginning. I can't help but to think that the show, in their yearly misguided effort to stack the deck, allowed the audience to take the easy choice- to vote for the mildly attractive guy with a pleasant voice, whose music will be listenable after the studio gets hold of it (and who is only different from the last two winners in that he is much less polished- oh and he can't sing in tune live), rather than the unconventional, defiant, and without a doubt, vastly more talented woman. It says something that I don't want to know about us.

But you know, and I know, that I'll be back next January, with pen and pad in hand, and hope in my heart, ready to fall in love all over again.

Until then, I return you to your regular programming.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

AI Season 9- Finale Performance

Well, here we are, finally, in the big theater. We open with Ryan onstage while the lights come up on the huge audience as a very cool montage of Crystal and Lee plays in the background.

Randy is wearing a doorman jacket (red with a black collar over a clashing red checked shirt), Ellen is in a black jacket. Kara is all boobs, black satin brocade, and side ponytail. Simon is wearing a charcoal pinstripe jacket over a white shirt.

Lee and Crystal enter through the audience. Crystal drops her mike and misses her mark. Lee looks like he's been drugged. Lucky Crystal won the coin toss, and she wisely chose to go second- a good strategic move.

Lee's Mom and Dad interview that they thought he was going to play pro baseball. At least until he picked up a guitar.

Lee, in a black suit jacket, jeans and a white tee, starts the evening with his Repeat Choice- The Boxer, which happens to be one of the two non-Crystal songs I've downloaded this season. Lee looks more relaxed and comfortable onstage than I've ever seen him. He's doing a lovely job with this song, no matter what Randy, Kara, and Simon say.

Crystal's dad says what we all now know: Crystal was born to do this.

I figured that Crystal would sing People Get Ready as her Repeat Choice, since it was arguably her Moment. I'm glad she didn't because Moments can't be choreographed. Instead, she chose Me and Bobby McGee, which is right in her wheelhouse. She's looking good in her *throw on random pieces from the closet* outfit, though these pieces look much more expensive than her former wardrobe. I missed the story on tonight's guitar, but it's obviously well worn, well used, and well loved. And as for the song, Crystal did very well indeed by Janis, and Kris Kristopherson, and herself.

Round 1: Crystal

Producer Simon Fuller selected Everybody Hurts for Lee, and in theory, it should be a perfect song for him. But in practice, he's shouting over the choir, and the arrangement overwhelms him totally. In addition, Lee is back to looking uncomfortable and nervous.

Crystal is wearing an extremely unflattering and ill-fitting black satin chanteuse dress and very high heels. She enters at the top of a staircase and I worry greatly for her on the way down as she sings Black Velvet. Once again, the arrangement overshadows the vocals, but the difference is in Crystal's native talent, and her complete comfort onstage.

Round 2: Crystal

Evidently, they're skipping the Rainbow Unicorns and Puppies Face Obstacles in the Struggle To Find Themselves Coronation Song. I cannot begin to say how pleased I am with this decision.

Unfortunately, Lee is saddled with Beautiful Day, and an arrangement that leaves no room whatsoever for vocals. In fact, I can't understand a single word he's singing, though I can hear that he's missing many many notes. Lee has not been served well tonight, though Ellen is right in that he has grown and changed the most this season. And his voice does sound very good in the studio, which counts for something. I think. And he's marginally cute, which, for better or worse, counts for more.

Crystal is dressed much better this time around, in a belted, one-shouldered black tunic and a heavy rhinestone necklace. She's singing Up To the Mountain as her *not-quite-coronation-ditty*. She's sitting on the Stool of Seriousness, and singing quietly but strongly in the Gospel Mode. This is flat-out beautiful, and Crystal is having a hard time holding back the tears at the finish.

Round 3: Without a doubt, Crystal

Crystal's last couple of weeks have been competent, but less than exciting. Maybe she was saving it all for tonight, when it really really matters. At least I hope it matters. FWIW- I've called on and off for the last 90 minutes, and have only gotten through with 3 votes (and yeah, I know I said I wasn't going to vote... )

We close with a lovely montage of the the season's high and low lights over a live performance of the Exit Song (whose title I never did catch).

And with that, we have one episode left. It's been quite a ride, no?

Link- Spoonflower

So, do you all know about Spoonflower? If not, click the link. I'll wait for you.

Are you back now? Are you amazed? And hyperventilating? I was when I first realized that there was a way to have custom fabrics printed. It's spendy, fer shure, but the potential is unlimited.

And of course, I have to try it out. My first custom fabric?

Is on the way. It's a fat quarter with a color, cut and sew outfit for an 18" doll. It took me quite awhile to put this together (it's hard to design a huge single motif for a fat quarter, especially when you're working on an image that is 3,000 pixels wide) (smaller, repeating motifs will be much easier to handle- but for an entire outfit, I had to work with that size). The skirt, vest and bag are my own design, and I think the Grands will love coloring the pieces with fabric markers or fabric paints, or whatever. I'll do the first sample myself, and if it comes out okay, I'll order a yard, and let The Girls go to town.

And if it does work out, the print will be for sale in the Spoonflower shop (designers get a 10% commission, redeemable on future orders, so it's not like anyone will get rich here. I figured others might want to try the design too, just for the fun of it). The sample should be here within 10 days. I can't wait!

And of course, I'm just getting my feet wet. I know I'll be designing more (and not just cut-color-sew stuff, but actual fabrics for quilting and sewing). Woohoo!

P.S. I can already see that I need to revise the piece to say the seam allowance has already been added in (in other words, cut on the black lines), and to practice coloring in the margins to make sure that the markers or paints don't bleed into each other. Also, to color first, and then cut.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hitchcock Body

I spent most of today thinking about Lost- don't worry, I won't post any spoilers because I know that many haven't watched it yet. But I will say that I was totally satisfied with the ending. And that I sobbed. I'm going to miss spending time with those characters (and Sawyer's dimples).

While I was thinking, and remembering and comtemplating explained and unexplained mysteries, and watching the Chuck season finale (not quite so many tears on that one, though I probably would have misted up except that I was all cried out), I finished knitting the body of the Hitchcock sweater. I think it turned out rather well.

In the next day or so, I will cut the sleeve openings, sew the shoulder seams, and do the neck shaping (including a v-neck). I'll post tutorials and process shots of those steps, but probably not until the end of the week, since the AI Season Finale shows are coming up. I have finally decided that it's okay if Crystal wins, which probably means that she won't. Wednesday will tell...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tutorial- Tandem Sleeves, Hitchcock Sweater

I hate knitting sleeves separately, so whenever I can, I knit them Tandem- 2 at a time on a circular needle, in a single piece with 10 stitch steeks in between. This works for any sleeve pattern, not just Fair Isle, as long as you're using yarn with some *grab*.
Cast on and knit the cuffs back and forth (not in the round) separately (so they don't have a bulky seam), and then join them, casting on 10 stitch steeks in between the sleeves on a circular needle. Knit as per the instructions, working the steeks in alternate colors on 2-color rnds. Bind off.
Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

#1. Finished sleeves, still in one piece

#2. You can use any sort of steek reinforcement method you prefer. I like to zig-zag stitch on either side of the center steek stitches. You can be brave and just cut the steek open and reinforce later, but I don't recommend doing that on your first steek.

#3. Steek reinforcement completed.

#4. Cut between the lines of zig-zag stitching. The stitches won't go anywhere. Trust me. (sorry for the blurry pic. I didn't realize it wasn't sharp until it was too late to take another).

#5. One steek cut. The other needs to be reinforced and cut.

#6. Sleeves separated.

#7. Inside view- just because I think it's pretty.

#8. Fold the steek edges in and sew the sleeve seam. This method does add some bulk to the sleeve seam. On the other hand, you don't have to weave any ends in, so it's an even trade. In case you're wondering, I didn't bother trying to make the motifs match at the seam. If you want nicely blended motifs, just center each set of sleeve motifs, and they'll work out.

#9. Whip stitch the steek down. I usually use a yarn or thread color that blends in more, but I wanted the stitches to show for the picture.

#10. The seamed sleeves are ready to sew in the armholes.

Except that the armholes aren't ready for the sleeves.
I'll post tutorials on cutting armholes without steeks, and neckline shaping as I get to those stages on the sweater.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thursday Tab- Mary Hartline

Evidently, Mary Hartline was a Big Star. There were TV shows, and dolls, coloring books, and paper dolls. This set was a mail-order premium.

and once again, the formatting is totally wonky. Sorry.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

AI Season 9- Top 3 Elimination

My newspaper today (printed last night) had a small blurb declaring that Casey James did not advance to the finale. I wonder if they know something that we don't.

Hi, Rest of the Top 12. Good to see you all!

Randy is wearing a white tee and his usual beads. Ellen has a cream jacket over a white shirt and a pink, gray and tan striped tie. Kara is wearing a velour, off the shoulder straight jacket.

Ryan sits with the kids on stage. Casey is wearing a blue shirt and his hair is in a bun. Crystal has leggings tucked into cowboy boots, and a black print tee. Lee's in a black suit and tie with a taupe shirt. Ryan questions them all at length, and we have plenty of time to learn that  Lee is not the only inarticulate one.

The Fordmercial exhalts the virtues of graffiti.

We see clips of Casey's home visit first. It took a Google search to learn that there really is a town called Cool, TX. His trip consists of limos and motorcades, and packed high school stadiums, and ladies who are old enough to know better screaming their fool heads off, and autographing puppy dogs. There are very few men in any of the crowds. Casey becomes weepy watching the clips.

Ryan says that Travis Garland is going to sing after the commercial. I know absolutely nothing about this person, but based on his name alone, I'm betting he's a country boy.

Good thing I'm not a gambler. Famous For No Reason That I Can Discern Perez Hilton discovered this Travis fellow. And he's most definitely not country. What he is for certain, I can't tell. But his backup girls wear corsets and not much else, and his backup boys are very limber and like to stomp. I do like the drum cadence though- it reminds me of Paul Simon's The Obvious Child.

Crystal played a teeny little harmonica on the plane to Toledo. Her visit consists of limos and motorcades, and screaming people and autographing chests. She appears to be having a grand time, and it's nice to hear her giggle. She visits her dad's farm, and gets snuggles from her little boy. Whoa- is that a Bowersox Original I hear playing in the background? Yep! I am totally shocked that the show not only allowed her to perform one of her own songs, but that it was played on air. Man, I can't wait for her album. Crystal weeps openly after her clips.

Lee is in Chicago. His visit consists of limos and motorcades and little girls making the sound that only little girls can make as he visits his elementary school, and Wrigley Field. He sings The Boxer, which I liked a lot (and should probably download). After the clips finish, Lee, with moist eyes, does something amazing: he expresses a coherent thought.

Famous For No Reason That I Can Discern Justin Beiber and his Hair Helmet threaten to sing two songs. I leave the sound on long enough to confirm that Justin not only looks like an eleven year old girl, he sounds like one too. His backup dancing consists of lots of hops and leaps, and a little bit of skipping.
Small Play Inspired By a Bra Commercial:

Me: Now why would anyone cross the straps on top of their boobs?

Him: Because they can?
Okay, here we go. Ryan wastes no time telling Lee that he's in the Finale. Absolutely no one is surprised.

...and.... Woohoo!!

I know it might have seemed like a gimmee, but I wasn't laying bets. I am absolutely thrilled, and more than a little relieved, that Crystal is in the finale.

Casey sounds great on his singout, with a small, beribboned girl sitting on his lap. Does he have a previously unmentioned daughter?

I hope Casey is able to front a really good bar band- I'd go listen to him, especially if I could drink a couple of beers at the same time.

So, next week we see if America wants another WGWG (white guy with guitar), or if they want An Artist They Can Ignore. Either way, how much to you wanna bet they trot out the Pants Onna Ground guy?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

AI Season 9- Top 3 Performance

So, the kids are from Elliston, Ohio, Mt. Prospect, Illinois, and Cool (Crewel? Cuell? Kool? Cruel? Cooel?), Texas, eh? Regardless, this. is. alltogethernow. American. Idol.

Randy is once again wearing his argyle sweater with the little felt appliqued elephants. Ellen is wearing a smaller version of Randy's striped sweater, this one in navy and white, Kara seems to have on a toga made from black polished cotton, and she's wearing chandelier drops in her ears. Simon's sweater may also be recycled- it's gray on gray Art Deco stripes.

Casey is up first. He's wearing a gray blazer over a faded print shirt and ratty jeans. The song he chose for himself is Okay, It's All Right With Me. hmmmmm....  it's not so much with the melody on this one. This entire performance is underwhelming- it's certainly not bad, but there is nothing exciting about it either. At least Casey managed to keep his eyes open almost the whole time.

Crystal is up next, and I'm amazed that it took her so long to dip into the Etheridge well. She's wearing a black strappy top over a longer knit dress over gray jeans, and an odd, delicate, gold wire necklace. She's singing Come to My Window, with her guitar and a harmonica. The beginning is odd and restrained, but Crystal warms into it. However, this isn't nearly as good as I wanted it to be, or as she needs it to be. Like Casey, it's not bad by any means, but it feels a little indulgent (and I can't believe I just wrote that). This is probably the closest Crystal has come to karaoke on the show. Unfortunately, this was the wrong night to give that a shot.

Lee is wearing a gray leather jacket which looks to have an asymmetrical opening. Please show: stop letting Lee talk. Instead, let him sing Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man. Lee still only hits about 3 out of every 5 notes, but this is good. It's the best so far tonight, and maybe Lee's best ever. I knew that the judges were going to fall over themselves over this performance, especially after the lacklusterosity of the first two. Ellen has been reduced to Lee Levels of incoherence.

Now it's time for the Judges' Choices. I wondered how they were going to divide 3 songs among 4 judges. Turns out that Randy and Kara teamed up for Casey, selecting D-Bag Extraordinaire John Mayer's Daughters. I'm not sure if Casey is wearing a purple shirt, or if he's just reflecting the lighting. Either way, this is much better than his first song. He's giving a lovely and subdued performance, which unfortunately may not be what Casey needs to stay in the game, a point that Simon makes, putting Kara on the defensive.

Ellen chose Maybe I'm Amazed, by Paul McCartney for Crystal, who sits, instrumentless, on the stairs, wearing tall leather boots, a shirt with keyhole shoulders and print that sort of looks like a corset. Her hair has a sort of tall, lumpy bit at the top, as though the dreds had been stuffed inside each other. Her performance is 1000% better than the first one- nothing half-hearted or tentative going on this time. I'm not sure that Crystal didn't lose the lyrics there toward the end, but I don't think it matters.

Simon decided on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (or as it's known in Taylorville: that song from Shrek) for Lee. Simon chose well- this song is perfect for him. Whoa- someone (whether it's Lee, or The Show Itself, I don't know) wants Lee to win- he gets the Mothership Lighting, the Fog Machine, and an entire Choir of backup singers entering slowly and dramatically from behind.What, no bagpipes?

Oh Lee, honey. Sssssshhhh.

Well, I've said from the beginning (or as close to the beginning as I could manage, given that we didn't see her until the Hollywood shows), that as much as I love Crystal (and I think I love her more than any other AI contestant in the history of the show),  I don't want her to win American Idol. I don't think winning will serve her or her career well. And it's a good damn thing that I feel that way, because Lee may just have walked off with the whole shebang.

The best I can hope for is that Casey goes home tomorrow night, and Crystal pulls an Aiken/Daughtry/Lambert/Yamin/Pickler/Covington/Hudson from her second place finish.

Sweater Name, and More Slickers

I'm nearly done with the sleeves on the leftover yarn bird sweater- the blue/brown border will take me to the proper length, so I can bind off, and cut them apart. I'll be sure to take pics. Then it'll just be a matter of making the sweater body long enough, which will involve 2 or 3 more bird borders.

Thanks to blog reader Mary Wilson- we have a name for the sweater:



I spent some time sewing more American-Girl slickers yesterday. I used a different flannel-backed vinyl table cloth and I'm not nearly as happy with the results. Though both this one and  the red gingham cloth were made by the same manufacturer, same size, same price, same store, the stripey one is stiffer and more fragile. The fabric tears more easily and I am worried about how well these coats will hold up under normal little-girl dollie play. But they're far too fiddly to discard, or to start over, and I need 3 or none, so I'll forge ahead.

It's still pretty cute, and I am impressed with my own arty fabric cutting, which makes 3 coats (I'll finish the last today) cut from the same fabric, all look different. I am not so impressed with the fact that I couldn't get the stripes to line up properly on one of them. Oh well.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring and Socks and Good-Bye Noah Bennett

It took a good long time arriving, but spring is finally here. New growth is everywhere.

They don't call them Cottonwood for nothin'. The air is full of flying cotton this morning. All of the sidewalks and roadsides look like newly drifted snow.

I'm so glad that the flood didn't kill the little Sumac trees down in the park. They're so pretty in the fall- we get so little red foliage, that I would be sad to lose them. You can see how high the water got by the debris left behind (the creek is a good 20' from this spot now).

And this is my current road sock. I love the sort of Camo look it has. This is a Fortissima Colori Socka Color yarn- It's from the Mexiko Country Colors line, and the colorway is #14.  Though the numbers don't match, this looks to be Madagascar. I actually have no idea where I bought this yarn- maybe it just magically appeared in my stash.

In other news- I am so disappointed that Heroes has been cancelled. I was sadly aware that it was never going to regain that Season 1 Awsome, but I thought it had recovered well enough to continue on. I'm going to miss The Petrellis. I do hope they give us some sort of closure on the series- a final episode or two, just to tie things up a bit.

Side Note: I am having a terrible time with the formatting here lately- if I add the pictures after I write the text, the pictures won't stay where I put them (the order and location changes every time I add another pic). If I upload the pics first, then the text automatically centers, and I can't get it to align left. I hope the bug gets worked out soon. In the meantime, it's more important that the pics stay where I put them, so please pardon the centered text. sigh.