Friday, January 30, 2009

Did someone say Freebie?

Yeah, I rashly promised a Freebie Friday pattern this week, but I didn't realize that AI would be on 3 nights, or that I was actually going to finish my book proposal in a burst of energy/desperation, or that I was just plain knitting slowly. In any case, I should have the 4 Simple Hats for an 18" Doll pattern up next Friday, right after I finish knitting the 4th hat.

But here are the first three: a plain beanie cap, an earflap hat with garter stitch band and pom-pom (added last night- I like the addition), and a long toboggan hat with a tassel. I have one more hat to finish, and then I can write the pattern up (they're all variations on the same easy design).

(side note- those are some spooky blue eyes on that doll. Very Talky Tina).

I hauled down the sewing machine yesterday and made a Princess Dress for The GrandGal's doll (from the Halloween Costume pattern). It turned out very well, but was a PITB- satin is never a fun fabric, and my feed dog has an appetite for organza, and the combo of the skirt/overskirt was bulky to gather and sew to the bodice. I won't be making 3 of these. I was willing to hand sew sequins and bangles on the overskirt, but could not find my stash (I must have put them away in a reorganizational fit that did not include remembering where), so I improvised with some glitter glue for a bit of sparkle. I used it sparingly because I didn't know if the glue would leak through the overskirt and make a mess. But it dried just fine. The crown is a double layer of felt (a single layer wasn't stiff enough for the points to stand up properly). I suppose I should make a sparkly wand while I'm at it. Oh wait, Princesses don't carry wands. Good.

Anyway, this is for her birthday, so ssshhhhhhhh!

On the Emma podcast front, Mr. Elton is getting married, and Frank Churchill has just arrived on the scene, and Emma herself is as clueless as ever. Someone should make a movie.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

AI- New York City and San Juan Auditions

We’re doing double duty tonight, flipping back and forth between Noo Yawk City, and San Juan, Puerto Rico (with the obligatory West Side Story references). I tried to note who sang in which place, but I can’t swear to getting them all properly sorted. Paula was decked out like a pirate’s treasure chest in San Juan, though I think she wore a neckerchief in both places. Randy sported sparkles in San Juan, and Simon looked the same everywhere. I didn’t notice what Kara wore, which means she kept The Girls undercover.

NYC: Adiola Adegoke foolishly quit her job before auditioning, so she not only needs to get her job back, she has to avoid Jennifer Holliday after attributing And I am Telling You solely to Jennifer Hudson.

SJ: Jorge Nunez has a nice, smooth voice, especially when he sings in Spanish, and is exactly the kind of eye candy that AI likes.

SJ: Jessika Baier, wearing an improbable outfit (didn’t Diana Degarmo put an end to pink and black together?), hails from Michigan. She’s trailed by a large and clumsy entourage, none of whom bothered to tell her that oversinging does not go with whine.

NYC: Mostly bald, truly beautiful, with an infectious smile and bare feet (clean this time), Melinda Camille is a graduate of the Squidward Tentacles School of Interpretive Dance, Clothing Optional Campus. She sings well, and knows it.

NYC: Jackie Thon has a most interesting gravelly voice. I’m not sure it’s right for AI, but I like it.

San Juan gets the Telenovella Treatment with a Chris Issacs sound track.

Commercial break: OMIGOD! Cyclopses! Nightmares!

A streak of bad performers in various cities: Kate Cassidy, Carlos, Antyon, slap dancer Jasmine, and Mike Perlman, whose stupid audition was not worth the air time.

And worth even less air time was San Juan jackass, Joel Contreras. The NYC version, Nick Mitchell (aka Norman Gentle) was, if anything, jackassier. Unfortunately, we’re going to see more of him.

To make up for it, we get quick peeks at Ashley Hollister (who shows great potential), a guy who might or might not be Kenny Hoffsomething (can’t read my own notes), and Paris Hilton clone, Kendall Beard.

Then we get more bad in the form of Nicole Laraway, Mark Granata in a weird wig, and Michael Someone (again with the bad handwriting).

SJ: Little brother Christopher loves his big sister, Monique Garcia Torres. He gives her pretty good singing advice (though he didn’t veto the red bubble dress). And WOW! I love her voice. And since she is not the last auditioner, there is actual tension as to whether or not she’ll go through, though it probably would not have hurt her to mature a bit before taking on the AI Juggernaut.

NYC: I recognized Alexis Cohen as soon as she flipped the double bird. She seems a tad less crazy, and a lot less glittery, than last year, but not a bit more talented.

SJ: And here we are with the last auditioner of not only the night, but of Season 8, so there is absolutely no doubt as to whether Patricia Lewis Roman will go to Hollywood, despite attempting The Whitney, which is never, ever, a good idea. She sounded better on her second song, in Spanish, so I am puzzled as to why Paula said no. Patricia’s family celebrates on the AI set, and Simon and Ryan remain the cutest couple in the world.

Overall, I think we saw a higher percentage of the good singers during these audition episodes, than usual, and only once did I hate myself for watching the bad ones, which is a distinct improvement over previous seasons. Next week starts the Hollywood rounds, which is when the show really begins for me. I am ready.

Thursday Tab- Lowe Mary #1823

I think there must have been another version of this set with more clothes because there is nothing for poor Mary to wear with her two skirts. She does, however, have lots of shoes (none of which look like they'll actually stay on the doll).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

AI- Salt Lake City Auditions

So, Salt LakeCity- big guys in pink bunny suits, hmmm? Is that really how you roll? .

I confess to being surprised at seeing an Osmond on AI. I would have thought the family machinery able to accommodate the musical aspirations of the second generation. But David Osmond, son of Alan, and like his father, dealing with MS, is there to take his chances. He’s good, though probably too practiced and polished for the AI experience. My guess is that any spontaneity has been Osmonded out of him long ago, but I wish him luck.

Rather than ESP, I suspect that Tara Matthews’ real super power involves squeezing herself into an outfit that is easily 3 sizes too small. While her singing ability is nonexistent, I kind of like her, and I hope she finds her niche.

Aleesha Turner cranks the Goat Vibrato all the way to Electrocute, pretty Katie can’t sing at all, and Rich Kagel is a lip-licking melt-down waiting to happen.

Chris Kirkham, accompanied by pink suited Greg the Bunny, and carrying a fan depicting Simon as Mel Gibson at his looniest, had a serviceable voice (certainly better than some of the folks sent through from Jacksonville), but he sank himself under the weight of the unnecessary gimmicks.

Utah certainly produced polite rejectees. I’ll give them that.

Frankie Jordan looks a lot like a healthy Amy Winehouse (or how I imagine a healthy Amy Winehouse might look like if there ever were such a person). She has an adorable baby girl, and a nice jazz voice.

Meghan Corkrey has a half-sleeve tattoo of a moonlit castle scene. Her voice is totally wrong for Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine, but it’s interesting.

Kelly, you’re looking good, girl, but why are you throwing fish bowls out the window?

I have a deep distrust of people who nominate themselves as role models, so I therefore want smarmy class prez Austin Sisneros, who thinks that Raffi is soul singer, to go away already. Far away.

Thank you, Show, for not making us watch the ventriloquist’s audition.

Jarrett chooses to sing Corinne Bailey Rae. Why Jarrett, why?

Very tall, 16 year old Taylor Vaifanua is pretty darn adorable even though she’s wearing a back support belt over a white Heidi shirt. She sings a hymn, which seems odd to me. But she has a nice voice.

17 year old Rose Flack is the final auditioner of the night, so I know we’re supposed to love her. She’s a beautiful girl, an orphan with a semi-tragic story (and AI loves those tragic stories), but she activates my Pearl Clutch Response with her schmoopy hair and filthy bare feet. She sings Carole King’s I Feel the Earth Move, and is the worst, and possibly the most fragile, final auditioner yet.

As per usual, we only see a small portion of the Hollywood Bound, though the rest flash by in a quick montage. I am especially intrigued by the big guy with the shawl.

I have heard hints and allegations that the San Juan auditioners brought the crazy. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

AI- Jacksonville Auditions

We open with Simon and Ryan flirting in a limo. I wish they’d just get married already. We visit 1980’s Journey, with Randy sporting a hair-do that I believe was called a High Top Fade, and quite possibly, eyeliner. His ’09 head treatment is better, but the orange/purple shirt isn’t much of an improvement. Speaking of purple, Kara and Paula are wearing complimentary shades as well. Paula seems to have passed the Extraneous Boobage Position to Kara.

Joshua Ulloa should have known better than to compare himself to Justin Guarini, who ranks further down on the AI Affection Scale than Taylor. He carries on the new tradition of the first auditioner being mediocre at best, not that the judges agree with me on that point.

Simon genuinely likes puppy dogs, and he lights up adorably when Shannon Wilbur trots fluffball Sasha into the room. Her voice is Latter Britney, and the judges are smoking something that affects their hearing because they put her through too. (edited to add on Wednesday morning: I wrote Sharon in my notes, and then decided that there are no young Sharons these days, and figured I must have meant Shannon. But I just read the TWoP recap, and her name is, indeed, Sharon).

Whoops, here’s a little Paula on Kara action, during which Kara’s Extraneous Boobage nearly becomes Unfettered.

Dana Moreno is wearing a very tight, short red dress, and a very silly hat, and has a very bad voice.

Keneswa Finne has a great smile and an extremely supportive Mom. I am hopeful when she announces her intention to sing Anita Baker (Rapture is one of my favorite albums of all time). Unfortunately, her mother has done Keneswa no favors in encouraging her AI aspirations, but Keneswa takes the blow well.

Julisa Veloz is Miss Florida Latina USA. She is wearing a purple satin dress with a yellow and black plaid plastic belt, which is only marginally less annoying than her laugh. Which is only marginally more horrible than her voice. But Paula’s staged snit fit distracts the other judges and they put her through too. Are we watching Bizarro AI?

Commerical Break: It is quite possible that Queen Latifah is the most beautiful human being in the world.

My goodness, there are a lot of young men with Zac Ephron hair. Don’t they know that boys wore that style when I was in high school? In 1968.

Soft hearted Darren Darnell is upset that his friend Devin Cates (previously spotted under a quilt with his Mom. At least I think she was his mom), didn't make it. His lack of stamina is obvious, and Kara tries to let him down gently.

The last auditioner of Day 1, Amy Seitz, compares herself to Mariah Carey, and has to go to the bathroom. Real bad. Instead of singing Mariah, she chooses Lovin’ You, and as with all those who attempt The Ripperton, she fails badly. The judges are punchy from the long day and so they treat her a little more roughly than necessary, but seriously, didn’t anyone ever tell Amy that her voice makes ears bleed? How can that be news to her?

Day 2 dawns, with Paula in a side ponytail, and Kara’s boobs once again front and center.

Jasmine Murray has the kind of voice that AI loves. Me? Not so much.

George Ramirez looks like a mountain man, albeit a very clean one. And he’s a Physics Major (I took Physics in high school. I loved the teacher, but didn't learn much). Simon asks him what his wildest dreams are, and George has one right there in front of us. It's rather uncomfortable to watch. He sings very much like a Mountain Man Physics Major.

Pretty and understated Ann Marie Boscovich has a speaking voice that I find very soothing. The judges send her out in search of a personality.

Return auditioner T.K. Hash gives Imagine the Carey Treatment, which should be illegal. The judges add him to the Hollywood Fodder.

Fragile, weepy Michael Perrelli, sporting a Brett Michaels bandana and an unnatural attachment to his guitar, actually has an interesting voice. But he’s absolutely and totally wrong for AI, and absolutely and totally unable to deal with that fact.

Anne Marie returns, slightly spiffed, lightly made-up, and trying to be perky (and managing it without being grating. Even Lou Grant would like her). She sings her song plainly and well, with a clear and lovely voice. How refreshing to hear someone just sing the melody. I hope she goes far.

So, tomorrow night we go to Salt Lake City, where there are Osmonds, and Mormons, and a Sort of Goth Girl. I wonder if we’ll see Jon Peter Lewis.

Hats and Classic Lit

My friend Mary (Procrastination Diary, link to the lower right) has been knitting hats lately, and that sparked a desire in me to knit some hats as well. But since I'm still in Doll Clothes Mode, the hats I'm making are a great deal smaller, simpler, and a whole lot faster to knit.

I'm still using up leftover bits from some heavier Knit Picks sock yarn (discontinued), which makes me feel very virtuous as I play (stash reduction is A Good Thing). The first hat is a simple beanie (rolled cuffs are not stylin', so say the 7-9 year olds in my life). The 2nd hat is basically the same pattern, but with ear flaps and a garter stitch band. I think I'll put a pom-pom on the top of that hat. Using the same basic pattern, I'm also going to make a long toboggan hat, and one of those 4-corner hats (knit straight up, and then sewn together at the top). The finished hats look good and fit well, and I see no reason why the other two notions shouldn't work up fine too. If I get them all done in the next day or so, I could have them bundled and written up for a Freebie Friday post this week. We'll see how American Idol goes tonight and tomorrow (hard to knit and take snarky notes at the same time). (those are the clothes that came with the doll, btw, and the little rocking chair is one we picked up at a rummage sale for 50 cents about 20 years ago).

I've been listening to Emma (via Librivox podcasts) as I exercize every morning (6 days a week on the treadmill- 45 minute flat/incline walking routine alternated every other day with a 30 minute, 2 mile flat walk/jog, and then a 10 minute weight routine every day). Listening to the book is such a different experience from reading. I'm forced to go the speed of the reader, which means that a book that would take me a couple of days to zip through (especially on a reread), will take a month of morning workouts to finish, which means I pay a lot more attention to the story, and you know what? Emma (the character, not the whole book) is annoying. On the other hand, this is Austen, and even her annoying characters are fascinating, and I do know how it comes out, and Emma just pushed Mr. Elton away, and is beginning to recognize the errors of her ways, and I find myself looking forward to the workouts just to continue with the story.

Speaking of Emma, the best Emma movie adaptation is Clueless.

And how's the proposal going, you ask? Why, I finished it yesterday, and have only to spiff it up and then ship it off to my agent. Thanks for asking.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Taking over the world, one tomato plant at a time

Readers, I may have discovered the most potent evil force since the Internet was invented by Al Gore: facebook.

Since I found myself with a facebook page (I have not figured quite how that happened- I have no memory of signing up)(I'm not joking here- I really don't know how I ended up there in the beginning), I have reconnected with high school classmates far and wide (they're far, I'm wide), kept in touch with nieces and sisters and cousins (her sisters and her cousins whom she recons by the dozens, her sisters and her cousins and her aunts) and parental units. I keep in touch with editors and agents and writer friends. I even message with people I see in my general daily life. In short, facebook has been a good way to connect with people.

So, where's the evil? There wouldn't be evil if I just chatted and posted pictures and made comments on what everyone else is doing. No, I had to discover the games. There are the charitable donation clicker games- where you send goofy little *gifts* to friends to add to their Safaris, or Gardens, or Ocean Front Properties, and by doing so, prompt advertisers to donate actual money to some very good causes (Nothing but Nets, Save the Rainforest, etc). Those games are not actually games, they're just collections, but they're mildly fun, and they're pretty to look at, and you really are doing something good as you waste time (so I tell myself as I send a Bush Baby to 10 of my closest friends). And then there are the Save the Planet games (Save the Planet is a separate app), which gives you a stake of a couple hundred K to start, and you earn more moolah by playing some of the most addictive games I've found: a very cool version of MahJongg (an early version of which was my first computer obsession, even before I found the internet), word games (I'm never fast enough to find all of the word search items before the timer runs out), card games (current fascination: Tri Peaks Solitaire and 52 Pickup), and the arcade/strategy games (Alu's Revenge, a deceptively simple game where you click on matching items to make them disappear before time runs out, that will drive you absolutely batty). You take the "money" you earn, and allocate it to other really good causes (books for poor kids, clean air, cancer research), which prompts real money to be diverted to these activities.

Those are all time users (okay- wasters), but still not truly evil. The real evil is a little app called myFarm.

myFarm is a beta game, being developed by a college kid- you start out with $1,000 and 4 little tomato patches, and you work your farm from there. Paying to plow and plant more crops, harvesting the crops you've grown, and if you're lucky, getting gifts of trees and animals from other myFarmers in your Friends. Sounds harmless, right?

Wrong. For some reason I cannot fathom, I am endlessly fascinated with these little crops as they grow- I've planted strawberries (my main cash crop), tomatoes, rice, potatoes, corn, and wheat (it's a multi-climate farm…). I diligently harvest (every day for the strawberries and tomatoes, every 2 days for the rice and wheat, every 3 days for the potatoes and corn), and for a long time, I plugged every cent earned back into more crops. But once my 900 plots were full and my farm prettily laid out (working it out is sort of like making a cross stitch graph, or a Fair Isle design), I started to save money for the rustic shack (for the farmhands, of course), barns, chicken coops, and a woodshed. Friends sent me trees (peach, pear, apple, orange, coconut, mango, cherry, plum, banana- again, multi-climate), which mature in 6 days, and then bear fruit every 3 days which is harvested and sold. Friends also sent me animals (horses, cows, goats, and the most adorable little clucking chickens).

I took that original $1,000 and 4 plots of tomatoes, and have turned it into $1,188,000 business with 558 crops, 800 trees, and 137 animals. The game is free, but I spent actual money to buy a white farmhouse for myFarm (the kid is developing the game, and needed donations for new servers, I was going to send a couple of bucks anyway, but I got a cool farm house out of the deal). I even talked my husband into setting up a farm on his facebook page which he never visits, that I use to send myself trees and animals as I need them (is that the most pathetic thing you've ever heard of?)

So, where's the evil, you ask? How much time do you think it takes to harvest , plow and replant 558 crops (about half of them every day), or harvest 800 trees, or just gaze at the pretty? Plenty. And not only do I spend time with this, I've infected my sister, niece, step-mother and assorted friends with the same disease.

Do I have a lot of extra time? Nope. Am I going to stop farming? Nope. Am I going to stop farming eventually? Eventually. Will that be soon? Nope. Are my friends and family happy to be farming: of course they are. It's addictive. Are they spreading the contagion to their friends and other family members? You damn betcha.

See: evil. Pure evil.
If you're on facebook,search out myFarm and jump in. The water's fine.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

more of the same, unfortunately for you all

Unfortunately for Blog Readers, I have not yet grown tired of making doll clothes on weekends and evenings, so here are some more.

Another cardigan (same pattern as before, same yarn line as the first blue tweedy sweater- I'm out of those leftovers now), an adorable little pink camo outfit with turtleneck, tights, and jumper (turtleneck and tights from the Halloween Costume pattern, jumper from the furniture book)(and I thought I found a mistake in the jumper pattern, but it turns out I was reading the pattern wrongly. Evidently, I forgot how to sew on the same day that I forgot how to knit socks), and a peasant blouse, shorts and capri pants set (also from the furniture book). I went so far as to buy myself an 18" doll in order to have one here to measure/test the fit of the new outfits (and for The Grands to play with when they're here). I'm knitting a stocking cap for the doll now, which is my own design, and I plan to knit mittens as well. If they turn out, I'll post the pattern for the two grandmas reading who might be interested. I have an old pair of Sponge Bob jammies (don't ask) that I am not wearing any more- I think I'll cut them up and make SB jammies for all of the dolls too.

Sorry I'm so boring these days. I'm sure I'll get tired of this stuff soon, and get back to more interesting projects.

P.S. The girls loved, and I do mean with all their 7 and 9 year old hearts, the little patterned backpacks and ponchos. In thanks, they made me a most wonderful glittery valentine heart garland for my office railing (of course, they made and assembled it here, with all of the attendant mess and glitter everywhere, but it's the thought that counts. And the adorable garland).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Road Trippin'

What's that you say? Is my book proposal done? Now hush, you. I'm working on it…

I was on the road yesterday (Sam's Club! Barnes & Noble! Most excellent wood fired pizza at Red Rossa! Woohoo!), and couldn't work, and I had a different sort of deadline this morning. But I'm buckling down this afternoon, and truly, I am nearly done.

I hit a patch of rough knitting in the car yesterday. I attempted the Leyburn Socks ( ), a seriously lovely, and seemingly simple sock pattern, perfect for the short-repeat variegated yarn I packed for the trip (some discontinued Knit Picks Merino Sock Garden- Daffodil colorway). I didn't print the pattern out because I am a doofus. Therefore, I spent the 3 hour trip to Sioux Falls knitting and ripping and knitting and swearing and ripping and knitting, and still I didn't get it right. So I ripped one last time, and cast on a much simpler pattern (the Aunt Helen Variation Variation) and screwed that up too. So I looked out the window for the last half hour, wondering exactly when it was that I forgot how to knit socks.

While at Hobby Lobby, searching for 10" straight metal size 3 needles- of which there was no such animal (I finally found a pair of bamboo ones in Michaels-parenthetically, the Sioux Falls Michael's yarn section is a disheveled mess. Seriously), I spotted some Red Heart sock yarn, and some Lion Brand Sock Ease, both of which I had not heretofore seen in person. I felt bad about dissing Red Heart so thoroughly when I made the Special Olympics scarves, and decided I should give the sock yarn a shot. I haven't cast it on yet, but the colors are pretty and it feels much like every other commercially produced 75% superwash/25% nylon sock yarn in my stash, and I suspect it'll knit up just fine. I did cast on the Sock Ease, and learning from my earlier snafus, kept to my extremely simple texture pattern, and managed to knit several inches on the way home before it first became too bright to see, with the sun low on the horizon, searing my retinas, and then too dark.

Last night, I finished the second 18" doll sweater and got it assembled (made from some leftover heavier weight Knit Picks sock yarn), while wondering if we're being set up for Earl and Joy to get back together. I am delighted at how well the stripes match, given that I was just using bits and pieces.

This morning, due to an impending Granddaughter visit, I whipped up 3 dollie backpacks (for Grand, and the 2 honoraries). The pattern is in the room and furniture book (blanking on the title, but I'll add it in later) (Home Decor for 18" Dolls), the one I was disappointed did not have instructions for actually building the furniture. I take back the disappointment- this pattern is worth the price of the book alone. Are they not perfect little miniatures? The backpacks look just like their full-size counterparts, with straps (gros grain ribbon), a working zipper (7"), and pocket. These are made from printed felt (another Hobby Lobby find). I have a feeling that the backpacks are going to trump all of the other doll finery I've come up with lately. And well they should. (and for those who might wonder- the Other Grand Gal is not so much into dolls, or I'd be sewing right and left for her as well)

From the Department of If You Write It, They Will Read: Remember my snarky comment about Ross Plavsic from the AI auditions? About him not being serious? One of his co-workers read the recap, and wrote to assure me that Ross was, indeed, serious. eep.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Doll Erika

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AI- Louisville Auditions

You know what? I do not now, nor have I ever, loved Raymond.

We’re at Churchill Downs, so of course some of the girls wear big hats. And between them and the horses and the foreshadowing, and the singing in the Porta Potty and the Blue Hair/Bluegrass visual pun, do we really need to watch the show after the opening montage? (that was a rhetorical question- of course I need to watch the show. It’s like a rule, or an obsession, or something.)

On Day 1, Paula has a Hair Tumor and Kara has slapped on the eye shadow.

Tiffany Shedd looks like a Russian Mail Order Bride. She sings like one too. Actually, it’s not fair to tar all Russian Mail Order Brides with that brush, so I take that back. But I hesitate not to say that her sweetly supportive parents are tone deaf.

Kara immediately delivers the news that Joanna Pacitti had a previous recording contract because TPTB know that it’ll be all over The Interwebs by tomorrow morning anyway. She’s good and we’ll be seeing a lot more of her, I suspect.

Mark Mudd, with the serial killer eyes, may not have meant his “Be careful” as a threat (I’m wondering if he meant to say “take care”), but I wouldn’t want to put that to a test. Actually, his voice isn’t truly horrible- it would be okay in a smoky bar, after a few beers.

Brent Keith Smith sounded fine until the chorus. I don’t always agree with Simon, but his critique was gently given, and totally appropriate. And while I have liked Kara so far, she overreacted badly, turning a criticism that was genuinely constructive, into a needlessly awkward moment.

I don’t for one minute think that Ross Plavsic, in dire need of orthodontic intervention, was a serious auditioner, so I’m not going to waste time on him.

And here are a few more non-serious singers- awful Irene, someone whose name might be Obiannu (I can’t read my own handwriting), Ryan (my notes just say: give me a break), and Patrick. Surely we could have spent that time seeing (and hearing) a few of the good auditioners instead.

A hand-lettered sign declares that Simon has Great Pecks, but Paula’s Puppies are far more prominently displayed in Miss Kitty's saloon dress.

Alexis Grace needs to burn that hat (I say traitorously, since it’s obviously handknit). And she needs to learn what to do with her hands because while she doesn’t appeal to me at all, we’re going to see a lot more of her.

America’s Next Top Idol, Aaron Williamson, might have… whooooo… been fine if…. whooooaaaaaaaaa…. he had just sung the damn….whooooooppppp…. song…. Also if he had bothered to learn the lyrics.

It was not a good idea for 8’ tall Rebecca Garcia to step up to the Underwood, with or without a cheat sheet on her arm.

Surprise surprise- we get a quick peek at a few good singers: Kris, Felicia, Ryan (with the emo bangs and Taylor’s audition song). Please sir, may I have some more?

I read Inkheart a couple of years ago, but nothing about that movie trailer rings a bell with me. Maybe I need to reread the book.

We’ve been trained to expect the show to save the best for last this season, so I am already girding my loins against Lanisha. We’ve had former homeless kids before, and her mother seems to think that she will become wealthy via American Idol. Nothing about her seems original or interesting. But once again, the show has its way with me. Lanisha has a rich and marvelous voice, and her original song is unique (on this show anyway) in that it’s an actual song, with a melody and lyrics and everything. And one that I might want to listen to again, at that. And since she gets the Clarkson edit, we know what we’re supposed to think about her. Luckily for Lanisha, I was already there.

Next week, Jacksonville. Maybe Ryan will get eaten by an alligator.

In between inaugurations and auditions

It's been hectic here, and I haven't gotten much done in the Recreational Knitting Department, though I am finally making real progress on my book proposal, which is a huge relief.

I did crochet 2 more doll ponchos for the doll friends of my Granddaughter's doll (am I loopy or what?). These are quickie projects good for using up 50 cent acrylic yarn purchased on vacation at Big Lots because, well, it was only 50 cents. Also for leftover Yarn Treehouse and Knit Picks yarns. And I cast on a leftover-yarn doll cardigan. I'm using the same numbers and measurements as the cardigan sweater in the Knit and Crochet Accessories booklet (the blue tweed one from a few days ago), but I want the stripes to match around the body, so I'm knitting fronts and back in one piece (working it sideways, rather than up and down). It's my own adaptation, but since I am using the template provided by the booklet (same number of stitches around, same decreases at the armholes, same neck shaping, same numbers of rows, just a different construction) it's not my own pattern, so I won't be posting it. This yarn is some of the heavier weight sock yarn that Knit Picks had a few years ago, and then discontinued. I knit hunting socks for all of my nephews and brothers in law with it, and had a bunch of little balls left- perfect for this project. I am in dire need of 10" size 3 needles (I'm getting a neck crink using the 14 inchers since I'm a prop-and-throw knitter), and plan to pick up a set or three when we go to Sioux Falls for a day trip tomorrow or Friday.

I have wine work to do today too- the muscat is ready for clarifying, and I think the blackberry melomel may be done fermenting as well. And tonight is AI- wahoo!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AI-San Francisco Auditions

Grace Slick welcomes us to San Francisco, the city that produced Katharine McPhee and William Hung, which should tell us something.

I’d make fun of AI’s first in-line wedding, except that I was married in my stocking feet by a Justice of the Peace in a double-wide trailer, and people who get married in mobile houses should not throw snark.

Paula is wearing an extremely ugly hat (I hate that newsboy style with an unreasonable fervor), and Kara has one of those dresses with holey-sleeves, which is almost equally ugly.

Tatiana has chosen to decorate her Barbie Dress with mosquito netting. The Powers That Be (hereafter TPTB) obviously want us to hate her, which I would have done even without nearly 10 minutes devoted to her insanely annoying giggle and carefully practiced smoldering. I’m disappointed that she doesn’t sing all that badly, though I fully expect her to implode in Hollywood.

Nick Reed hums frighteningly in a monotone, and Jiayi tries to Build this City with Bad Singing.

Dean Anthony Bradford and his Horrible Technicolor Plaid Coat take American Idol where it’s never gone before: into contemplation of pubic hair. It’s a frightening place.

Jesus Valenzuela has the cutest boys in the world, and a pretty serious case of Goat Vibrato. Also Note-Wanderingitis. He’s going through to Hollywood, where the judges won’t have to look the little ones in the eye when they cut him.

Here’s something you don’t see every day, even on American Idol: a girl singing through a mouth full of vomit.

As a singer, Dalton makes a good Rubik’s Cube solver, which reminds me that I was amazed at my boys' Cube Solving Abilities until I caught them prying the faces off of the sections and snapping them back on in the proper order.

Coke evidently does not want us to drink Coke, Halle Berry is still beautiful, and Hotel for Dogs looks purely wretched.

There were hippies in San Francisco in the 60’s? Who knew?

It’s good to see Kara stand up to Simon. He ruled the roost for way too long.

I don’t know which language Akilah speaks, but it’s only marginally related to English (or, more specifically, American). There is something about her voice that I like, despite singing from the wrong rectum. Too bad I won’t get to hear any more from her.

We see flashes of good singers John Twiford, Allison Something, and Raquel, who, as far as I could tell, sang about The Son of a Creature Man.

Adam Lambert and his emo hair are both very theatrical, which is not surprising, given that he works, you know, in the theater. Maybe it’s time for AI to admit that Broadway is the final destination for most of its winners.

And, omigod you guyz, Kai Kalama, well on his way to curly-haired sainthood, sings The Platters, and might just be The One. I love love love love his voice. And I want to see his hair unleashed. I suspect it has super powers.

Tomorrow we go to Louisville and possible threats of physical violence, but I don’t care. I want more Kai.

we temporarily interrupt this blog...

I'll be back with a post, right after I go outside and wave a few flags.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A bit of sports, a bit of sewing, a bit of knitting, a bit of crochet, and some serious work

I have one very happy Steeler Fan Son this morning (and a Giant Fan Son who is mostly happy for his brother), but the Steelers are going to have to play better and smarter than they did yesterday, if they want to win the Superbowl. (thus endeth our sports commentary for the month) (and maybe for the whole year).

Anyway, I finished the very soft, alpaca Chemo Hat for my friend's friend. It came out so well that my husband tried to claim it. I'll have to make one for him too (he's impossible to knit for- I'm delighted that he actually wants something handknit, though he doesn't want stripes, which means even more boring ribbing ahead).

And I crocheted a very simple poncho for my granddaughter's doll. She asked for one thusly: "you know, Grandma. Like that thing you made for me that's like a sweater but doesn't have sleeves and goes over your head". This poncho took about an hour to crochet (from a 50gr ball of worsted weight yarn), and she'll probably love it more than the Poodle Skirt Ensemble, which I think may be the cutest thing this side of baby kittens. Interestingly enough, the pattern didn't have a cutout for the poodle (though it did have the cutouts for the pumpkin costume. Go figure). We were directed, in small print, to buy a poodle appliqué, which wasn't possible out here in East Boonieville. But thanks to The Interwebs, I found a suitable poodle silhouette (from ) in about five minutes. I love The Interwebs.

Jillian (the doll) is good friends with 2 other dolls (and their owners), so I whipped up jammies/robes/slippers for them as well. Now all three can have happy sleepovers.

I am actually and honestly and seriously working on my book proposal today (and for the rest of this week), so there won't be any more sewing until I finish- but I have a pattern for a regular doll-size backpack, with a zipper and everything, that I am going to try next time I haul the sewing machine downstairs. That accessory will probably outweigh all of the poodle appliqués in the world.
Oh yeah, and if you see my granddaughter, don't tell her about the Poodle Skirt, or the coat from last week, or the tweedy blue sweater- those are all set aside for her birthday in March.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Okay, so I did get the sewing machine out

I think I have worked through the mental problems I was having with my proposal, so next week, I might actually get it done. I hope. Unfortunately, the flux capacitor blew a circuit, so it's never going to be in by Christmas '08.

So that gave me permission to do what I said I was not going to do...get out the sewing machine. I totally love this pumpkin Halloween costume for an 18" doll- and The Grand will too, since she wore one nearly identical when she was 4 (and still remembers it fondly). I am pretty proud of my ingenuity- I needed some black stretchy fabric and could not find any (Wal-Mart is almost the only place within 100 miles that sells fabric, and they're discontinuing it), but I did find a truly ugly black stretchy t-shirt with an even uglier sparkly Christmas Tree embroidery on the front, for $2. I cut it up for the tights and turtleneck (and I can use the Christmas Tree embroidery on a dollie shirt later if I like).

We took a short road trip, so I cast on the cardigan from the Knit and Crochet Fashions for 18" Dolls booklet to knit in the car. The pattern is nicely written (I did something slightly different when putting the front neckline sts on pins, so as not to cut the yarn in an awkward place), and the sweater worked up very well. The front band is crochet, which made for easy buttonholes. I was totally amazed that this sweater took more than a 50gr ball of sportweight yarn (over 110m). I used every inch of the tweedy blue, and had to add a stripe to the sleeves or I would have run out. I'm glad I decided to do contrast ribbing before realizing that I wouldn't have had enough of the blue to make a solid color sweater. The body is knit in a single piece, and assembly was the same as for a full-size sweater. I have no idea how it'll fit because I don't have a doll that size here (may have to remedy that), but it looks to be the proper size.

I tried Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (from Librivox) on the treadmill yesterday, but had to give it up. Each chapter was read by a different person, and the changes were too jarring for me to follow the story well (especially since one of the readers was doing his best imitation of Ben Stein). So I unsubbed from that RSS feed, and am going to try Emma instead. Good or bad, at least that one has a single reader. I love Pride and Prejudice more, and I think Northanger Abbey is the funniest, but Emma is Austen's real work of genius. (Sense and Sensibility is good, Persuasion is her most serious, and Fanny Price is so insipid that I can barely read Mansfield Park, though it has some great individual lines). I'm looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks, sweating with Emma Woodhouse.
(edited to add photos of clothes on doll. Is that a Cute Overload, or what?)

Friday, January 16, 2009

True Love

.... aaaah, Lizzy and Darcy did finally fall in love with each other... (I finished listening to Pride and Prejudice on the treadmill this morning. I do so love that book). Next up is Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (from Librivox check it out, they have hundreds of public domain books for free download, in several different formats. I get RSS podcasts for my Zune). I haven't read Alice in many years, so it won't be like listening to my own memory (as it was with P&P. I knew that I knew whole chunks of it word for word, but I also caught instantly when the reader bumbled individual words. It was a little scary).

On the knitting front, I am nearly done with the Alpaca (Knit Picks Andean Treasure) Chemo hat for my friend's friend. It's lovely and soft, but boring boring boring (endless rnds of 2x2 rib). I'll get back to the mitered square socks as soon as I finish the hat. And I want to knit some sweaters and goofy things for my granddaughter's American Girl-Style doll (don't know the manufacturer- maybe Gotz).

But what I really want to do is sew some more dollie clothes. Look at this pattern for assorted Halloween costumes. Isn't it the most adorable thing you've ever seen? I bought it solely because the Grand wore that exact pumpkin costume when she was little. But I also love the poodle skirt (I'll have to figure out how to make saddle shoes). And she'll want the Princess Dress.

But before I knit hats or miniature sweaters (well, the doll is 18" tall, so the sweaters are bigger than you'd expect- 102 sts for a Fair Isle sweater body), or haul down the sewing machine, I have to work on a book proposal, which is coming along so slowly as to not be coming along at all. Not sure what the problem is, but I'm going to have to work through it (is there such a thing as Knitting Writing Block?) pretty quickly because people are waiting for it. This writing stuff- it's not as easy as it looks.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AI- Kansas City Auditions

Here we are in Kansas City. Ryan is standing in front of Jamie Lynn Spears, and Paula is wearing a very pretty little green baby-doll dress.

We open with Chelsea Marquardt, who is sporting a really unfortunate strapless bubble top. But no matter how unfortunate the top is, it’s not as unfortunate as her voice.

Ashley Anderson sucks up to both Simon and Kara, and she’s okay enough to earn her way to Hollywood. Her footsteps/footprints recovery is a hoot.

Really? An American Idol commercial ON American Idol?

KC Carlson is wearing a foofy little dress and funky cowboy boots, and while her singing style isn’t my cuppa, she’s good.

Yep, that’s what AI needs- an accordionist.

My notes say that the next fellow’s name is Brian Hitler, but I feel certain that I mis-heard, or mis-wrote. Doesn’t matter- his Elvis Channeling Aretha is awful, and he should seriously consider a turtleneck.

Oh my- that girl totally, and I mean totally, lost her shit.

And here’s a quadruple serving of wretched with James, Billy, Chris and Deandre.

Von Smith and his stupid hat are both trying too hard. I really didn’t expect the judges to put him through. He won’t last long in Hollywood.

Hey, there’s Jason Castro and his gorgeous eyes, and his dreds (which may not have been washed since the last time we saw him). His younger brother has even worse hair, an equally… ummm…spacey… air about him, and he only started singing 20 days ago, so he has to be horrible, right? Wrong. I am extremely surprised to find myself enjoying Michael Castro’s performance. Uh-oh. I’m in trouble.

Vaughn English’s mustard suit and mustard shoes and mustard hair are all very mustardy, and none of them are interesting enough to get him through.

Big, bald Welder Matt has a cute kid and seems to be married to Brooke White. He has potential.

Jasmine Joseph, with bi-colored hair and crazy eyes and another stupid hat, is positively frightening.

Jessica Paige Furney has the most adorable Grandma ever, and an amazing voice. I love love love her!

Sisters big and small, India and Asia, are terrible rappers, but India can sing, and Asia is more than gracious about it.

Gemar Rogers’ lizard-ridge hair is vaguely Sleestakian. He’s trying way too hard, but there is a voice in there somewhere.

Danny Gokey might have made me cry cynical tears, what with his recently dead wife and all. But he gained my respect by not mentioning that fact to the judges (and you know that Paula would have cried real tears if she had known). And for the third time tonight, I am smitten. Gotta be a new record.

Oh, last year’s Climb the Frosty Mountain boy has a twin sister. That’s too bad.

And here’s Anoup Desai. For a record breaking fourth time in a single show, I am blown away! Wow!

I am also impressed with Andrew Lang’s cheerleader friends, but not so impressed with his voice.

Anwar Robinson 2.0, in the person of middle school band teacher Asa Barnes, had some good moments. Not enough of them for me, but the judges liked him.

Okay, this one is difficult- it was so wrong of the producers to string Michael Nicewonder on. Worse than wrong- it was mean and nasty. I am embarrassed for him. For the show. And for myself for not changing the channel.

On the other hand, it would have been perfectly okay for them to shoot Dennis Brigham down. Why in the world didn’t they do it?

I think Mia Conley made the donkey explode.

So we finish, with Lil Rounds. And for a flat-out amazing 5th time, I am enchanted. She is not just good. She’s Good. I did catch a whiff of Less Than thrilled from her husband though. It bears watching.

So, did Zac Ephron try out? I could swear I saw him with a golden ticket in the final montage. I guess we’ll have to wait for Hollywood to find out.

returning to our regular programming...

I'll sneak a little fiber content here, in between American Idol shows (btw, if you want real snark, as opposed to the mild version I practice, check out the recaps on Television Without Pity. ).

I am progressing with the Twisted Mitered Square socks (I've finished the cuffs and am beginning the insteps), and am still so seriously in love with these colors that I want a cardigan made this way. That fever will pass, I am sure, and sanity will reign. No one in the world needs a sweater made from 19 st mitered squares, knit on size 2 needles, no matter how beautiful it would be.

I ordered some pattern books from Fancywork & Fashion ( ), for my granddaughter's 18" doll, and they arrived almost instantly. I am very pleased with the purchases. Designer Joan Hinds offers all kinds of books, patterns and pamphlets with designs ranging from contemporary fashion, to Halloween Costumes, to Wizard of Oz outfits, knit, crochet, sewing, to fit 18" American Girl-style dolls (and for some large baby dolls as well). I bought the little pamphlet Knit and Crochet Sweaters & Accessories for 18" Dolls specifically because it has a gorgeous Nordic Sweater design in it (with steeks and everything). But the book would be worth the purchase for the other designs as well: knit cardigan, pullover, Aran sweater, slippers, and assorted quickie crochet accessories. The patterns look to be well written and straight forward. I bought another pattern just for making Shoes, Slippers and Sandals (including the most adorable Bunny Slippers). And most amazing of all, a full color book called Home Decor for 18-inch Dolls, which has sewing patterns for 15 outfits (dresses, summer clothes) AND instructions and patterns for building 10 different room setting, along with instructions for sewing all the necessary accessories and linens. There are patterns/instructions for beds, tables, chairs, benches, wardrobes, china hutches and dressers. These designs are most seriously cute. If Grandpa and Daddy aren't interested in building some of these, I might give it a shot, myself. (edited to add about an hour later: I was wrong about the furniture in the book- the instructions are not for building the furniture, but rather for painting and decorating pre-made doll furniture from Walnut Hollow- none of which seems to be available any more. The book is still worth the price for the patterns, but I admit to being disappointed about the misunderstanding)(which was my fault).

But before I try-out any (or all) of these patterns, I want to finish a chemo hat. The good friend of a good friend of mine is going through a rough patch, and I figured he could use a warm and soft hat. This one is a simple 2x2 rib, knit from Knit Picks Alpaca, 120 sts on size 6 needles. After it's done and in the mail, there will be time enough to play with dollies.

On the wine front: the 6 gallons of Blackberry Melomel are still bubbling away in the carboy, and I forgot to mention that we started a 3-gallon batch of Muscat (sweet dessert wine) that sped through the primary so quickly, that it's already in the carboy. We would have started a 3-gallon batch of Chardonnay last night, but the hydrometer slipped through someone's fingers and shattered. So we're on new-wine hiatus until the replacement arrives.