Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sock and Sandals

I spun up a bobbin of the Twisted BFL Braider roving while watching Season 4 Lost Extras yesterday, but it looks just like the last bobbin of Twisted BFL Braider singles, so I didn't bother taking a picture. It's pretty though. And I only have one more bobbin to spin and I'll be done with that roving (with enough 2-ply yarn for a pair of socks or gloves).

And I finished a sock- another Aunt Helen Variation Variation, in Sockotta cotton/wool. This is such a fun texture, and it shows off those short-length variegated yarns so well.

I also spotted some peel-n-stick foam sheets at the store, and had a lightbulb moment. How about if I stick several layers of the foam together for a shoe sole? And then another layer on top over some sort of strappy upper for a doll size sandal? And how about if I used ponytail holders as the strappy uppers? Voila! Adorable doll size sandals! I'm not very good at trimming multiple layers of sticky foam evenly, but a brisk application of the sanding block helped. The sticky sides are holding together well, the 3 ponytail bands work perfectly as a stretchy upper (I used some fancy ones for the center), and the sandals not only fit, they stay on just fine. I am pretty pleased with myself.

I am also pleased that we didn't get more snow on top of the snow we already have. I really do need to dig my car out- we're nearly out of bread and eggs.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pretty Pictures

The light from the sunrise was so beautiful, that I ventured outside (in -10 degree temps, with -34 wind chill) to take some pics. We got about 8" of new snow yesterday, and might get another 2" today. This has been a very wintery winter.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

AI- Top 36 Group 2 Elimination

I am unsettled when Ryan looks significantly at Nick Mitchell, and then asks us what have we done. I haven’t done anything. And if Nick is in the Top 12, it’s totally the judges’ fault for putting him in the Top 36 in the first place.

This certainly is American Idol.

Ryan ticks off 25 million votes, quickly re-intros Danny, Alexis, and Michael, in case we forgot them between last week and now, and points out the judges. Paula brings back our old favorite, the seal clap. Ork ork ork.

They play a montage that includes audition footage we’ve never seen, of kids we’ll never see again after tonight.

The Group Sing is Ne-Yo’s Closer. Matt and Adam (I forgot to note which Matt) sing together. Other Matt and Kai are paired. And finally Mitch and Kris duet. None of them sound good, individually, paired, or together. The girls’ voices blend much better. Jeanine is wearing the same, or possibly another, pair of denim short shorts. She’s going for the lumberjack look, I guess, with boots, suspenders and a plaid shirt. Jesse’s sweater has the full compliment of shoulders, though it’s severely lacking in neckline, and Jasmine is wearing a turquoise top with a heavily bejeweled yoke. Megan has long, straight extensions, and I wonder if it is significant that I could not remember her name until well into the commercial. I am sad that they finish without the Pointy Pose.

In between words coming out of the Afrin lady’s nose (no wonder she felt stuffy, there was an entire paragraph up there) and the Ford commercial, we see an Exclusive Idol Moment- a previously unaired bad audition that isn’t bad enough to be horrific, or even memorable. Who is this young lady? And why are we seeing this? We’re never told.

Ryan recaps the highlights (or the lowlights) of last night’s performances, and then singles Matt B, Nick, Jesse and Jeanine out for questioning, totally throwing Jesse for a loop. Then he calls Allison down. Is she wearing a wig? Jesse, wearing essentially a vest with no shirt underneath, is next. They’re joined by Matt B. With as little dallying as this show ever allows, Allison joins the Top 12. She’s wearing a tight black dress with a red and white polka dot bodice that should be awful, but isn’t, and rocks the hell out of Alone again, and I am very glad she made it through.

Next up are Megan, Kris, Jeanine and Matt G, who is wearing a large, strange neck scarf over a black letterman sweater. Ryan says one of those four is going through, so we immediately know that the next Top 12-er has to be a guy, because if it’s a girl, then Mishavonna and Jasmine are also immediately eliminated, and that is not how this show rolls. Matt G and Jeanine get the ax, leaving Kris and Megan. Simon is needlessly rude to Kara. Kris gets the nod, and I notice for the first time, that he is quite pretty, which will make him nice to look at, if not to listen to, over the next few weeks, (until he’s eliminated- I don’t think he has a chance of winning this thing). Man in the Mirror is still a dumb song for him to have chosen.

We see a rerun of the Idol Retrospective Montage that aired on the first show of the season. It’s still a lovely compilation, but why are we wasting time on clips we’ve seen already?

Evidently, we’re going to revisit all of last year’s contestants. This is Brooke White’s week. Brooke is wearing prison stripes and has not combed her hair since America saved her sanity by giving her the boot. Her first single has just been released, which she graciously consents to sing for us. It’s a nice song, if a little bland, though the abrupt ending is a surprise. I suspect her entire CD will be blandly nice (or nicely bland), and I might just buy it.

The remaining five kids are assembled front and center. Mishavonna, Kai, and Jasmine are sent home with little ceremony, leaving Nick and Adam as theoretical contenders for the final slot. I don’t much want either one, though I realize I don’t really mean that when I contemplate the notion of Nick writhing around during Country Music Week.

So I am mildly relieved when Adam joins Danny, Alexis, Michael, Allison and Kris. But I reconsider as soon as he begins howling Satisfaction. (side note: wouldn’t that song make a great Viagra commercial? I have never been convinced that the missing girl reaction had anything to do with the girl).

Who are the likely Wild Card choices so far? I still think Anoop is a shoe-in. And I think Tatiana has a real shot (and I don’t hate that idea, though I will probably change my mind the first time I hear that insane cackle again). As much as I like Kai, I think the judges will think he skews old, which is the kiss of death. Jasmine does have a good voice, so maybe they’ll give her another chance.

Next week, Group 3: Arianna Asfar, Felicia Barton, Jorge Nunez, Ju’Not Joyner, Kendall Beard, Kristen McNamara, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Lil Rounds, Nathaniel Marshall, Scott MacIntyre, Taylor Vaifanua, and Von Smith. I’m hoping Nathaniel and Von cancel each other out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AI- Top 36, Group 2 Performance

Things feel a bit off tonight, and not just because it’s Wednesday. The extra day did no favors for any of this bunch.

Ryan, wearing Polo Casual, stands in front of Group 2 and asks where else might we find a welder, a bartender, a font designer, and a comedian all in the same room. My husband and I look at each other and say, “Everywhere?”. A unicyclist, a brain surgeon, a highway line-painter and Midwestern Governor- that’s an unusual grouping. This bunch? Not so much.

After Paula’s public comment about preferring only three judges, I’m prepared for tension, but she and Kara evidently worked it out before the show. Not that I disagree with her, but it’s a wash as to whether Randy or Paula is the extraneous member of the panel.

First up is Jasmine Murray, 17, from Mississippi. She’s singing that song about the girl who refuses to write me a love song. Jasmine is a lovely girl, with a good voice. I thought she was one of tonight’s Sure Things, but this is bad. Awful. Horrible. Topped with the worst sort of Prancing Pony choreography. Even Paula can’t find anything good to say about the performance.

At first I can’t place Matt Giraud, 21 of Kalamazoo, but then I remember him- he’s the piano player who is Not Taylor. He’s singing Viva la Vida, by Coldplay (I say that like I know the song). He enters with some sort of Scooby-dooby-doo move, and it goes downhill from there. Everything about the performance is a mistake. What little melody this song provides is masked by runs and quavers and excessive Harry Connick Jr-ing.

Jeanine Vailes, 28, Washington DC, is wearing denim shortie-shorts and the tallest heels I’ve seen on this show. Both show off her stunning legs (runner’s thighs on that girl). She’s singing some Maroon 5 song that begins rough and then improves slightly, but not enough. When Paula starts out her critique with a compliment on your appearance, you know you’re in trouble. And for once, Randy made a relevant comment-the singing has to be good for the performance to work. And the singing just wasn’t good.

You know what? I’m not wasting bandwidth on Nick Mitchell. The show put him through, and the show deserves him.

I don’t believe we’ve met Allison Iraheta, 16, of LA. I am finding her raspberry hair, goth prom dress, and total lack of grace, off-putting. She’s singing Heart’s Alone,which Carrie Underwood killed. I figure it’s going to be yet another trainwreck in a very trainwrecky evening, but Allison nails the song. She has a powerful voice, and is the best of the night, so far. Now she needs to work on her stage presence. And not making those weird faces.

I don’t remember Kris Allen, 23 from Arkansas, either. He looks like Hal Whatshisface from all those VH1 I Love The Whatever shows. He says he’s going to sing Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, which cannot be a good idea. It’s not. He bounces and crouches and prances, and though I can hear that he has a nice voice underneath it all, I don’t like this performance.

Megan Corkrey, 23, single mom, is now Megan Joy Corkrey. She’s wearing a pastel girly dress with huge fabric foofs on the bodice, and pastel girly nylons, and pastel girly shoes, all of which clash with her full-sleeve tattoo. She’s singing Corrine Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On, accenting weak vocals with dips and swivels and grins and winks and some sort of weird hip-shake that gives me the shudders. I disagree with the judges totally on Megan.

Matt Brietzke, 28, OK, is the welder from Ryan’s intro. He’s singing some song by a band called Tonic, which has very little to recommend itself by way of a melody. I remember that I liked Matt’s voice, but there is nothing in this song to show it off. Oh my, he’s disagreeing with Simon’s dislike of the song, which is not a wise move.

Jesse Langseth, 26 from Minneapolis, another single mom (a designation that has sort of lost its novelty power). She resembles Lauren Ambrose, and is wearing a rib-knit top that looks like she stuck her arm and shoulder through the neck opening by mistake. She sings Bette Davis Eyes and is okay, but needs to shut up during the critique.

I am most interested to hear Kai Kalama, 27 of CA. He was one of my audition favorites, but I’ve not heard his voice since then. I hope he still sounds good. And yep, he does. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted is a great song for his voice, though not so great for this show. I reluctantly agree with the judges, that it was slow and old-sounding. I am also a little sad about the Shirley Temple hair.

Elfin Mishavonna Henson, 18, also of California, is a return contestant, though I have no memory of her from last year. She’s wearing a strapless blue satin bubble dress over a black tank top and leggings. Oh, and there’s also a wide black belt with vertical glittery stripes, and a blue flower in her hair. A whole lotta look going on there. She’s singing Drops of Jupiter, and throwing in odd little high notes at weird intervals. It’s consistent with most of the performances tonight, in being not very good.

We finish with 27-year-old musical theater refugee, Adam Lambert, another Californian. I would have sworn he was no older than 17. I think it’s the hair- I have a hard time picturing someone nearly 30 voluntarily sporting that do. He’s singing The Stones’ Satisfaction, and it’s even worse than I expected. Adam himself is too everything- too sculpted, too chained (with a padlock hanging around his neck, for crying out loud), too booted, too eyelinered. And he can stop caressing his nether regions any time. This performance makes me want to reach for the mute.

Good grief- that was a wretchedly painful two hours. Allison Iraheta was the only stand-out, with Kai a distant second. I have no idea who is going to make it through to the Top 12 from this group, but lemee tellya, I’d rather listen to Tatiana than most of these kids.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mitered Square Pattern, and Variation Variation

For those who can't find it otherwise, here is the pattern for the Mitered Square Socks:

And here are the basic instructions for the Mitered Squares:

My Twisted Yarn Leftover Mitered Square socks were made to the pattern, except that I used 30 sts on the sole and for the heel.

I cast on a pair of Aunt Helen Variation Variation socks- this yarn is some I've had for years, an old skein of Sockotta cotton/wool, in a colorway that is very likely discontinued. I love how the patterning shows with these short-length variegated yarns.

The Aunt Helen Variation Variation (named after the aunt of one of my knitting group friends- it's a variation on a variation- not a typo) is an easy texture, worked on any multiple of 4 sts:

Rnd 1: *YO, K 2, lift the YO up and over the 2 K sts, K 2*, rep around
Rnds 2-3: K
Rnd 4: *K 2, YO, K 2, lift the YO up and over the 2 K sts*, rep around
Rnds 5-6: K

It's a gorgeous day- 34 degrees but it feels like spring. I grew up in the mostly snowless Pacific Northwest, and there is enough Snohomish left in me, that I still, after 39 years here, love the snow. But I've had enough. I'm ready for spring. And even more, I'm ready for my pool to thaw out so I can swim.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Checking In

I'm numb to the eyeballs and drooling (my first filling in about 7 years- the procedure is no worse than I remember, but it's certainly no better. And I have 2 more to go... sigh). So, mostly I'm going to go have a lie down, but before I do, I thought I'd show you all the finished Twisted Leftover Yarn Mitered Square Socks.

I think these may be the most beautiful socks I've ever knit. I left the pic big so you can really see the colors and shading. Aren't they glorious? Someone is going to have some very happy feet come next Christmas (I know who, but I'm not giving any hints). No matter how many times I make this pattern (it's a Freebie here- search for it. Only change: I worked 30 sts on the sole and heel), I am always delighted and just a little bit surprised when those squares do turn into real socks.

On the Podcast Front: If you have not read Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone, go do it (or listen to it via Librivox). It's a wonderful book- smart and funny and a good mystery to boot (especially given that Collins invented many of our standard mystery elements in this very book). My only complaint on the recording is that they keep switching readers on me. They're all very good, but it's hard to get used to all those different voices for the same characters.

Today's Household Tip: If you want to try to re-activate a dried-out glue stick by warming it in the microwave, take the lid off first.

Today's Other Household Tip: Don't try to re-activate a dried-out glue stick. Just go buy a new one for heaven's sake. They're cheap.

Comment Modification

I am so sorry for the aggravition for you all, but I had to institute comment modification. It took 30 minutes this morning to delete spambot comments. I hope to go back to open commenting soon. Again, my apologies.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hands to Soul Mini Quilt, and actual human sized knitting

I knew that the Hands to Soul mini quilt kit from my friend Melanie (contact her at if you want to order one) would be a fairly fast project, but I didn't think I was actually going to finish in a single day. I could have whipped it together in 20 minutes with the sewing machine, but #1 that seemed against the principle of the kit itself, which was sort of meditative, #2 I'd already hauled the sewing machine back upstairs, and #3, I really felt like hand quilting it.

So I put it together by hand, and had a lovely time sewing as I listened to Season 4 Lost episode commentaries (you don't actually have to watch them, you can just listen to the cast members being goofy, which I enjoy for some reason). There wasn't any seaming (this isn't patchwork, even though it sort of looks like it is), and I attached the star appliqué with a blanket stitch. The rest of the assembly was just hemstitching- sewing the center square to the rest of the top (use a cool iron- the center square isn't 100% cotton), folding and sewing the backing border up and over the top, stitching the shiny gold ribbon in place around the center square. Easy peasy, and truly, meditative even with Hurley and Kate yammering in the background.

Though it's not necessary to quilt the piece at all, I did some very amateur quilting- my sense of straight is nil, my stitches are huge (for quilting stitches) and my fingers are definitely not used to pushing a needle through several layers of fabric for hours on end (read: I poked myself a bunch of times, though I managed not to bleed on anything). But I love how it came out (don't mind the small jog in the scan- I had to stitch 2 scans together to show the whole quilt). The finished mini quilt is about 10" x 10" (though not exactly 10" on any side- see above what I said about my sense of straight).

I used the buttons that Melanie included to decorate the top of my quilt, and I think I might want to work a little embroidery floss chain stitching around the star appliqué- I don't like the visible crooked blanket stitching. But otherwise, it's done. And I love it. I am going to hang it in my office.

And, just in case you thought I forgot how to knit for humans with all the doll knits of late, I finished the Lion Brand Sock Eze socks, and started work on the heel/sole of the Twisted Leftover Mitered Square Socks. I knit the short row heel on 30 sts (back and forth) with a coordinating mottled solid yarn (called a Subtle in Twisted-ese), and then will work the sole back and forth with the 3 colorways that I used for the miters (Agnes, Giles, Minstrel, in that order). I will pick up an edge stitch every right side row on the sole so I don't have to sew both seams when I finish. These are going to be beautiful socks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hands To Soul Mini Quilt

My good friend Melanie, of Hands to Soul ( ), sent me a lovely little mini-quilt kit that her gallery shop is selling in conjunction with a quilt show they're sponsoring. I haven't done any real quilting in a very long time, but I've been sewing a lot lately (no kidding), so it's not such a leap to pick up the needle and thread to hand-sew this quilt.

Melanie says, "So many of us these days are finding pleasure in the simple things in life, especially in the beauty and wonder of art. Hands to Soul was lovingly founded so that everyone- even those who believe they have no artistic ability- can experience the joy of self expression using the arts. "

I love the colors in this quilt- the calming blues, the lovely "stained glass" effect, the golden star and shiny ribbon, and the assorted buttons and decorations. The instructions are clearly written and easy to understand, and while they're geared for beginners, those who have quilted before (I have, but it's been awhile) will enjoy the project just as much. You don't even need to sew, if you don't want to- the whole piece can be put together with fabric glue. I have an urge to hand sew this little wall hanging. I'll post my progress.

You can contact Melanie directly ( ), if you want to order a mini-quilt kit- the price is $15 (which includes postage in the US, out of the US contact her for shipping particulars). She'll send you a PayPal invoice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

AI Top 36- Group 1 Elimination

This. Is. American. Idol.

Ryan hints at surprises to come (“take nothing for granted”), but with the Wild Card Judge Picks, no elimination at this stage is permanent.

Paula, who has been pretty coherent so far, looks bleary and is dressed like a saloon girl. Kara names disappointing names, but Paula demurs (no surprise there).

Michael Jackson serenades flashbacks of all twelve kids as they arrange themselves for the first group sing of Season 8. I don’t know this I’m Yours ditty, but Danny, Ricky and Stephen make sweet sweet harmony together. Jackie continually mugs for the camera in Grandma’s sparkly cardigan. Speaking of sparkles, there’s Tatiana. Casey avoids the shine, but who needs it with those assets?

And there’s the Pointy Pose. How I love the Pointy Pose.

The kids sit, carefully arranged in two rows. Casey, who looks like Parker Posey’s little sister, is tearful already. Jackie is drying herbs and flowers from one ear. Anoop pretends to be relaxed, and Tatiana pretends to be sane. Stevie is still a class act. On the other side of the stage, are the three Silver Suction Cups of Success.

Casey is called to center stage. She says she feels great. She is obviously lying, and is the first elimination of the evening.

Stephen is next up. Ryan ungraciously points out Stephen’s sweaty palms. Stephen says that he agrees with the judges’ assessment of his song choice, but takes comfort because no one said he sounded bad. Stephen obviously did not read my recap. And just like that, he’s elimination number two.

Alexis is wearing a frayed denim mini-skirt and a stupid hat. It could be worse- at least her underwear isn’t on top tonight. (I just realized that I hate almost all hats worn indoors). Ryan gives her the good news that she’s in the Top 12 without mentioning whether she was the Top Girl or the 2nd highest vote getter. Her father provides the first Proud Daddy Tears of the season as she sings, and I remember that I like her. I have no quarrel with Alexis, pink streaks notwithstanding.

Ricky and Jackie are called down together. Jackie’s continual mugging is starting to bug me, but I won’t have to watch it much longer. Ricky suffers the general fate of Those Who Had No Previous Air Time.

Anoop, is taller than I expected him to be. He and Michael are called down together. In the first surprise of the evening, Anoop is sent home. I like Michael, but his performance last night wasn’t that good. Ryan informs us that only a few votes separate Anoop and Michael, and I immediately form a theory that Michael is the Next Top Vote Getter because if he was the #1 guy, then Anoop would be sitting in the suction cups, along side him. But that didn’t take the girls’ votes into consideration. I throw the theory out.

We waste a bit of time peeking in on the Disney version of the AI Experience, in which all 7 previous winners are shown (yes, including Taylor). David Cooke and Carrie sound good together.

What’s this? Carly Smithson and Michael Johns? Why? Oh, one of them (or maybe both, it’s not exactly clear) has an album coming out soon. Carly is wearing a short-sleeved leather jacket, and talks about a missing weave. Michael is wearing a gingham shirt and an ill-fitting popped-collar jacket, that looks to be home-made from polished cotton. They sing The Letter, which is near the top of The List of Songs I Don’t Need To Hear Ever Again. Their voices don’t sound particularly good together, and I remember that I like Carly’s lower register much better than her upper.

Anne Marie, Stevie and Brent are up next. Randy looks at them and says that neither one performed up to snuff, which pretty well sums up Randy’s usefulness this season. With that, all three are out.

That leaves Danny and Tatiana to battle for the remaining chair. What this show loves more than anything else is manufactured drama, and pairing The Sob Story and The Crazy Girl is a guaranteed drama generator. Unfortunately, though Tatiana is given plenty of rope, she refuses to hang herself.

Ryan pulls the first “we’ll find out right after the break” of the season, and we segue to the weirdest Axe commercial of all. I thought it was one of those smug anti-smoking commercials at first (I am a militant anti-smoker, but those things make me want to light up).

So now we’re back, and I am prepared for either one to get the nod. I prefer Danny by a large margin, but a case can be made for Tatiana being equally deserving. Whether I like her or not, she can sing, and she has made a Herculean effort to dial back the excess personality. Polarizing contestants bring in the viewers, and lord knows how much this show loves viewers.

To my relief, Danny moves into the Top 12. The other 10 evidently feel the same way- they all look positively jubilant. Tatiana can’t even pretend to be okay. But I dare not assume we’ve seen the last of her.

Next week we get: Meghan Corkrey, Chris Allen, Mishavonna (Hession?), Matt Brietzke, Allison (Irihara?), Matt Giraud, Jasmine Murray, Kai Kalama, Jesse Langseth, Adam Lambert, Jeanine (Bailes?), and OMG, Nick Mitchell. It’s going to be interesting.

In Da Hoodie

Yeah, I'm obsessed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

AI- Top 36, Group 1 Performance

Ryan, looking nattily preppy tonight, tells us that we’re going live, though I think he means live in that he is actually alive at that given moment. The judges are all dressed in black and white, except for Paula, who is florally orange.

Ryan explains the new semi-final elimination system this year- each group of 12 (not 8 as I thought last week) will sing, and the top vote getting guy and gal will move forward, as well as the next highest vote getter (boy or girl). At the end of these three weeks, the judges will choose 3 Wild Card kids to complete the Top 12. No one is saying whether or not those Wild Card choices will come from the 36. I would like to assume that is the case, but I remember Carmen Rasmussen.

First up is Jackie Thon, 23 from New York. She’s wearing an odd quilted purple thing with puffy sleeves and shoulder pads, in her interview, and I think to myself that whatever she wears for her performance will be better. I am wrong. OMG, is that a black spandex, strapless jumpsuit? With a wide red belt and polka dots? And tennis shoes? Unfortunately, I think it is. She’s singing Elvis’s A Little Less Conversation, and she sounds bluesy and isn’t too bad, though I agree with Simon about the ungainly dancing. Mama and Papa Thon wait for her on the Red Couch of Jubilation (or Doom, depending on the performance). Mama Thon has some sort of towel or blanket draped across her lap.

Ryan says we’ll be back with Ricky Someonewe’veneverheardbefore. Turns out to be Ricky Braddy, 26 from North Carolina. Ricky’s speaking voice is nasal, and he needs a shave. He’s singing that Leon Russel song about singing a song for you, but I am too distracted by his fuzzy ears to listen too closely. His voice is okay, but singers like him are a dime a dozen on this show. His rhyming parents, Vicky and Ricky Sr. are wearing dorky t-shirts and evidently have a domain name (The Braddy Bunch).

So why do hard-edged rocker type girls always go with pink hair? Why not blue? Or green? Alexis Grace, 21 from some place I didn’t catch, has a cute little girl who she is nonetheless willing to leave for the duration. She’s singing Never Loved a Man, which would generally be a mistake (note to most AI hopefuls: avoid The Aretha), but she’s doing well with it, while wearing a lacy black slip and bright red lipstick, and materially subdued pink streaks. Oh look, there’s Ted Danson and Neil Patrick Harris in the audience. If they’re there to shill for some show, we never find out. Maybe they’re just AI fans. Alexis’s father appears to be Penn Gillette, and her mother is perhaps an ex-flower child, but at least they’re not wearing self-promotional t-shirts.

Oho- the show is live after all, and someone botched Brent Keith’s (29, Ohio) intro tape. He and Ryan try and fail to recreate the interview on the stairs to the stage. Brent sings a country ditty called Hick Town, and is pitchy dawg. My guess is that this is the last time we’ll be seeing Brent.

17 year old Californian, Stevie Wright, has taken the judges’ advice to heart. She auditioned with At Last, and is now trying to skew younger with Taylor Swift. This is not a good decision- Stevie is purely awful from beginning to end, and I feel purely awful for her, but Stevie, who looks a bit like Scarlett Johanssen, deals with it well.

Next up is Anoop Desai, 22 from NC, who seems to be one of The Annointed Ones.He has carefully sculpted hair, and charisma to spare, which is good because his version of Angel of Mine isn’t great. He miffed the key change and was rather blah throughout. My guess is that he’ll make the Top 12 one way or another, so it doesn’t really matter.

Casey Carlson, 20 from Minneapolis, wears a stupid hat and makes a living preparing and serving something called bubble tea. She oh so foolishly attempts to sing Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, in elf booties, a wrinkled gold dress, and big hair. She vamps and grins and winks her way through the song, and it is a disaster (though I want to smack Randy for his post-song nastiness). Even her nice Mama can’t put a good spin on that train wreck.

Roughneck, Michael Sarver, 27 TX, with two adorable little girls, and terrible taste in shirts, tries Gavin DeGraw’s I Don’t Wanna Be, which was one of Bo Bice’s signature songs. Michael does not do the song (or Bo) justice. He’s likeable but it just wasn’t good enough, even with Stevie’s Balcony Dance of Support.

Anne Marie Boskovich, 22 Nashville, of the audition mini-makeover, sings Natural Woman (which most people identify only with Aretha, forgetting that Carole King wrote it). It’s a little thin in the middle, but I liked it anyway, a lot more than the judges did.

Stephen Fowler, 26, Ohio, promised not to forget the lyrics this time, though it would probably have been better if he had since Michael Jackson’s Rock With You was absolutely the wrong song for him. His rhythm was totally off- either speeding ahead of the band, or lagging behind throughout . Good-bye Stephen.

I am not surprised that they saved Drama Queen Tatiana del Toro (24, San Juan, maniacal laugh, deeply unflattering dress), for the end. She has chosen to sing Whitney, which should be the kiss of death, but dammit, she’s good. There were some odd moments, but she totally and absolutely nailed that high note. Tatiana has probably been reading about herself on the Interwebs, and is much more subdued than we’ve previously seen her. Will she make it through? Maybe.

And finally, 28 year old widower from WI, Danny Gokey, steps on stage. Choosing Mariah Carey’s Hero is a smarter choice than it first appears since he can’t be compared to the original. I am relieved to hear how good he sounds (some of my other season audition favorites crashed and burned spectacularly in the early rounds- Sundance Head, anyone?). Pay attention Anoop- that’s how you do a key change. I don’t think this performance was quite ovation-worthy, but it was plenty good enough to earn him a spot in the Top 12 (again, one way or another).

On the recap, I notice that Alexis Grace has the best stage presence of any of them.

My Top Girls: Alexis Grace and Anne Marie Boskovich, with reluctant props to Tatiana. My Top Guys: Danny Gokey and Anoop Desai, with a minor nod to Ricky Braddy.

Top 3 Vote Getters: Danny, Anoop, Alexis

Am I voting tonight? Nope. I’ll let these rounds fall as they may.

Tonas Smothers

Three of the young girls in my life are enamored with a certain, totally unworthy, brotherly rock group, whose appeal escapes me, individually, collectively, and musically. But they love those boys with the zeal only pre-teen girls can muster, and I aim to please. Herewith, doll sized t-shirts emblazoned with their faves (the new printable iron-on transfer sheets are slick- the images transfer quickly and well, and it's amazing the number of small images and text boxes you can fit on a single page, though I forgot to trim the first image closely around the edges, and have a large shiny area on the t-shirt. oh well). I, personally, had more fun putting names on the other t-shirts, and sewing the little panties. Instead of looking for knit fabric on the bolt, I bought 3 XXL cheapo t-shirts, and cut them up, making use of factory hems for the sleeves and shirt bottoms, and re-using the neckline ribbing. I will make tights for each doll (plenty of fabric left over). I am also going to cut down an old sweatshirt and turn that into zip-front hoodies for the dolls. Maybe today.

On our Grandparent Extravaganza Road Trip, I finished one sock (yarn: Lion Brand Sock- I love these colors), and last night, got past the heel on the mate. This is just my easy-texture pattern (5 rnds K, 1 rnd *YO, K 2 tog*. I probably won't finish that sock tonight, what with American Idol and taking obsessive notes and all.

I finished listening to the Emma podcasts (I listen while I exercize on the treadmill in the mornings), and have started Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone. I've only read this book once, so it's almost a *new* story for me. It's amazing the number of standard mystery elements that Collins invented, and how wonderfully complex and amusing this story is. I love the character of Gabriel Betteridge. This recording comes from Librivox (link on the right side of the page), and the reader is an English fellow with a most melodious voice. I envision some enjoyable calorie burning in the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

catch all y'all on the flip

Heading out for a weekend of intense Grammahood. Here's a little something to tide you over. From

And you may have noticed that the 7 random things meme morphed into 13, and then into 25 and shows no sign of stopping (at least on Facebook). But evidently, this meme has been making the rounds for quite awhile. Here are Shakespeare's 25 Random Facts (I saw it first on Rose-Kim Knits):

Taylor Hicks's new single

You can listen to it here:

Man, I can't wait for this CD to be available.

Thursday Tab- Lowe Now &Then, #3715, 1976

This book, Lowe's Now & Then, #3715, theoretically features dolls and clothes from the 1890's, 1920's, 1940's, and 1970's (as though there was any sort of coherent fashion throughout any of those decades- it seems to me that styles change at about the 5 year mark). The 20's clothes look pretty accurate, but the rest are iffy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

AI-Hollywood Week Night 4

Somehow I missed the news that this was to be a 2 hour episode. At least we get to watch the winnowing in the Clampett Mansion, which is pretty darn red. And velvet. I’m sure there’s a ce-ment pond out back somewhere.

For a show that pads half of each episode with nonsense, we get right to business by passing Anoop Desai through to the Top 36.

You know, Von Smith has a nice voice buried in there somewhere, and we’d hear it if he would just dial things back a bit. Unfortunately, we’re going to have a chance to find out if he can actually do that. (My guess: no)

This year unveils a new variation on Contestant Torture: the sing-off, which pits a couple of kids against each other for an impromptu last audition, during which the elimination decision is theoretically made. Me, I think the list was finalized well in advance and this is nothing but theatrics and padding, but what do I know.

First up is Cody Sheldon, the amateur film maker. His voice is thin but he’s okay, in a Better Than Sanjaya way. Next is Alex Wagner-Trugman, who is the better of the two. The judges agree with me.

Adam Lambert, of the pretty eyes and emo hair, sails through.

Tall Taylor Vaifanua is excellent, and she moves on too.

In quick succession, Jasmine Murray, Arianna Someone, Casey, Meagan, Mishavonna, and Stevie are all yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

It’s also a yes for Joanna Pacitti, this year’s Carly Smithson (right down to the previous major musical career failure). So much for Simon’s warning about forgetting the lyrics.

Almost more quickly than I can write them down, T.K. Hash, Chris Chatman, and Reggi Beasley are on their way home. I’m not too sad, since I’ve only seen T.K. previously, and not a whole lot of him.

Kendall Beard obviously never watched the show, or she would have known that Paula was just screwing with her.

Kristen McNamara, of The Drama Trio, is up for the next sing-off. Opposite her is the female half of a heretofore unseen married couple, Jen and Tom Korbee (Tom having been cut already). Jen is tall and blonde and conventionally pretty. Kristen is shorter, partially pink, and badly dressed. Simon actually says he’d rather have the better looking girl (this is not a revelation, but I’m surprised that he said it while the cameras were rolling). They sing, and Kristen is the better of the two. After the judges deliberate, they call the girls back into the room and insult them both before reluctantly dropping Jen. I think. It happened so weirdly that I wasn’t sure until afterwards, which one made it through.

Alexis Grace gets the okay, and I suddenly realize that Pink is the new Blonde.

Scott Macintyre is as close to a gimmee as this show can provide, and no one in the entire world is surprised that he made it. At least Ryan didn’t try to high-five him this time.

Lil Rounds is wearing amazing hubcap-sized earrings, and is moving on. Of course.

Some girl I didn’t know is cut. Ashley Hollister gets a “no”, as does Devon Baldwin, who explains tearfully, just how horrible it was. Really, really horrible.

Frankie Jordan, all unfettered boobs and tall leather boots, sings against Jessie Langseth, the Janis Wannabe with lace appliqued to the thighs of her jeans. The judges go with lace over leather.

Shera Lawrence and Derik Lavers are both rejected, but I don’t care because I’ve never seen either one before.

I can’t believe that they resisted the chance to pair best friends Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers in a sing-off. Danny is obviously, absolutely, and fer shure moving on. I figured Jamar was too, but in the first real surprise of the night, Jamar is sent home. Poor Danny.

Ricky, Matt, Ju’Not, and Jorge are all through. Who the hell is Ricky?

Stephen Fowler is in, despite screwing up royally onstage, and stalking off in mid-performance.

In the WTF surprise of the night, Nick Mitchell Norman Gentle gets the nod.

And speaking of expletives, here’s Tatiana del Toro. Lordy, that girl is going to unravel completely. And soon, I think.

Jumpsuited Jackie Thon has a gravelly voice that I like a lot. She’s moving on as well.

I can feel my blood curdling as Tatiana yodels and writhes her way into the room. (side note: when did puffy sleeves come back in? and why?). Simon delivers the best line in the history of the show when he asks if Tatiana can, just once, not be annoying. (the answer: hell no). After putting Nick Mitchell through, I knew that they would not resist inflicting her on us. Damn.

Mr. Drama, Nathaniel Marshall, with his mullet mama in prison, and jeans that are a full size too small, is paired with Jackie Midkiff (also new to me). Jackie is good enough to move on, but this year, it’s all about The Crazy. Or The Drama. Or The Crazy Drama. So Nathaniel stays.

Jeanine Vailes is also new. I wonder if she can sing.

And here’s Kai! And he’s moving on!!!! Woohoo!

As does Anne Marie Boscovich, and a strange guy (strange in that I’ve never seen him before, not that he’s actually strange. I don’t know him well enough to judge that. Yet) named Kris Allen.

In the final sing-off, Welder Matt Breitzke sings better than Roughneck Michael “No Jeremy” Sarver. But I’ve been writing names down furiously for almost two hours, and with only 16 guys on the list and less than 3 minutes left in the show, I know that both of them are going through.

So there we have it after a little over a month of auditions, the Season 8 Top 36: Danny Gokey, Scott Macintyre, Anoop Desai, Von Smith, Alex Wagner-Trugman, Adam Lambert, Nathaniel Marshall, Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud, Ju’Not Diaz, Jorge Nunez, Brent Keith, Stephen Fowler, Nick Mitchell, Kris Allen, Matt Breitzke, Michael Sarver, Kai, Adrianna Something (I didn’t catch her last name), Taylor Vaifanua, Casey Carlson, Megan Corkrey, Mishavonna Hansen, Stevie Wright, Joanna Pacitti, Kendall Beard, Kristen McNamara, Alexis Grace, Lil Rounds, Jessie Lanseth, Allison Irahita, Jackie Thon, Tatiana del Toro, Jeanine Vailes, Anne Marie Boscovich, and Jasmine Murray.

And though some of these kids were new to me, for the first time ever, we actually got a peek at all of the finalists before the audience voting rounds begin. Next week, the winnowing continues, with the first group of 8 competitors: Danny Gokey, Anoop Desai, Michael Sarver, Stephen Fowler, Casey Carlson, Stevie Wright, Tatiana del Toro and Anne Marie Boscovich. I have no idea how this next set of eliminations is going to work, since 8 doesn’t divide evenly into 36. It’ll be interesting.

Too Cool for School

I finished the fronts of the cabled doll sweater, but did not get the sleeves cast on (can't knit complicated stuff and write snark about Paula Abdul at the same time), but I don't expect them to take very long to knit. This is going to be an adorable sweater.

I was only going to order zippers (separating and non- there are zip-front hoodies in three dolls' futures) and some tiny buckles to assist in my current obsession with sewing doll clothes, but when I saw these sunglasses on the T.L.C. Doll Hospital site ( , I knew I had to buy them too. The package arrived today (safely and quickly).

The sunglasses look to be pretty sturdy, and though I would prefer them to be just a tinch wider, the snug fit means they should stay put during play.

I can hear the squeals already.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AI- Hollywood Week- Part 3

Okay, so we’ve taken it from 103,000 hopefuls, down to 72. On our 3rd Hollywood episode, we’re playing Lost, and flashing forward and back as the kids sing the song of their choice. Randy is blinged up the ying yang. Kara is wearing a white dress overlaid with black lace, like a goth bridesmaid. And Paula has a deeply mysterious necklace made of intricately cut sheet metal.

Adam Lambert, of the emo hair and skillfully applied eye makeup, chooses to sing Cher’s Believe, and does what hardly anyone on this show ever does: he improves on the original.

Matt Giraud goes for soul by playing the piano and singing Georgia, and I will get this out of the way right now: he’s no Taylor (and yes, I know that’s a plus to many people, though I doubt they similarly approve of Matt’s goat vibrato).

Jamar Rogers, in a Kelly green jacket and pink tie, wonders what you do to mee-eee-eee (with each eee enunciated carefully and separately). It doesn’t impress me particularly, but he’s probably good enough to get through.

Danny Gokey has pretty much become my favorite. I do so love a smoky voice. And though the judges have declared that they will not critique the performances, Paula left her poker face at home.

Anoop Desai is also obviously on to the next round.

Jorge Nunez doesn’t do it for me, but he has what AI loves.

Scott McIntyre, who has been mostly absent from the show since his audition, sits at the keyboard and tackles Daughtry. In general, attempting a show favorite would be a mistake, but he does a fine job with Home, despite a bit of wobble at the end.

New to me (I think) Kendall Beard, tries Carrie Underwood on for size, and finds her much too large.

Stevie Wright sings that bubble song and is great.

Lil Rounds needs to step away from the Whitney-style singing. Permanently.

Kristin McNamara, with the parti-colored hair and last week’s drama, was much better than I remembered, though she foolishly attempts Kelly Clarkson (what is the matter with these kids? Voluntarily submitting themselves to a comparison with The AI Greats is just plain foolish. Most of them, including Kristin, come out on the losing end).

Mishavonna Hesson was cut in Hollywood last year. I don’t remember her from either season, but I like her.

Tatiana simply will not STFU. She’s wearing a shower curtain, and though her voice is good, it’s not good enough to outweigh her many many faults.

Alexis Grace trots out more Underwood. Kenny Hoffauer murders some song. And Jasmine Murray sings Jordin Sparks (my god, when will it end?).

Nathaniel Marshall is like Tatiana- no voice is worth putting up with the drama. Or the headband.

Joanna Pacitti crashes and burns. Casey Carlson forgets the lyrics. Stephen Fowler blew it and knew it.

Nathaniel, Von (another annoying one- this year has a surplus), and Tatiana are all in Room #2, and I hope hope hope they’re slated for tickets home. And then Tatiana is pulled from that room and sent to another. Did the judges change their minds, or are they just torturing her? Frankly, a little Tatiana Torture is fine by me.

I know it’s silly for an American Idol fan to complain about wasting time, but why are they wasting my time with Nick Norman Mitchell Gentle? He’s not serious and he’s not good.

Anne Marie Boskovich, however, is.

Ju’not Joyner is new to me (I would have remembered that adorable little boy), and he Delilah’s us as well (with less eee-eee-eee). He’s good, even with some waver issues and a stupid hat.

Tatiana has been moved to Room 4, freaking the hell out of everyone in there (including Tatiana).

Kaylon Loyd (one L, if the chyron is to be believed) is shut down by Simon. Not a good sign.

Laneshe Young, who was homeless at one time, is just not very good.

Oh look! It’s Kai! I am so glad he made it this far. He sounds hoarse, but I still like him.

Oil rigger, Michael Sarver (this week without the Jeremy. I wish he’d make up his mind), embroidered his song too much.

The decisions have been made, and the 4 judges are all smoochy-smoochy as Simon takes off, and leaves the other 3 to lace and sparkle the news to the 4 rooms- two to stay, two to go.

They enter Room 2 with long faces, and anyone who has seen this show in any season knows instantly that these kids are sticking around, which means that they moved Tatiana from a winning room. While I’m thrilled that Kai is staying, I am less than delighted to be stuck with Von and Nathaniel.

And it’s just as obvious that the next room is going home. I don’t recognize most of the faces, though India and Michael Castro and Laneshe are among the crowd. It’s just as well that I won’t have another Castro with pretty eyes to moon over.

Okay, with 2 rooms left, it’s more than obvious that Danny Gokey isn’t going anywhere (except to the Top 3- you heard it here). He and his room are noisily jubilant.

I am briefly excited, because this means that Tatiana is going home. But about halfway through Randy’s mournful spiel in the final room, I realize, with a sinking heart, that they’re playing games with us (and the kids). Not only is Tatiana staying, they pulled her from one winning room, and moved her to another, for no other reason than to torture her. I believe that deserves a round of hearty applause (or as Jeff Boyd memorably said in the 7th grade: Stand up and ovate).

So tomorrow night, it’s The Chair, and the final cut of the judges, and after that, it’s up to us. Start limbering up those dialing fingers!

I have a dentist appointment this morning (nothing serious today, though I have to schedule a couple of fillings... urk) so this will be quick: I'm nearly done with the sweater fronts for the little cabled doll sweater (pattern from Berroco), but since they don't look any different from yesterday's scan, except for being longer, I'll leave it to your excellent imaginations. Depending on how much knitting time I can carve in between taking notes during AI tonight, I should get the fronts done and the sleeves cast on.

I found some wonderful fabric at Hobby Lobby awhile back, that looks like western embossed leather. I bought a remnant, not sure what I was going to do with it. But yesterday, I knew- a cowgirl outfit to go with the cowboy boots. The skirt is from one of the patterns, and I improvised the vest, and I had enough plaid fabric for a western-style shirt (though no Pearl snaps.). The neck scarf was cannibalized from one of Grandpa's old hankies. I know that the outfit doesn't match the brown boots, but I don't think she'll care.

And finally, here's what the rain did to our snow yesterday.

About the comments

It had to happen sometime- we've been invaded by the spambots/trolls. I don't want to institute comment moderation, so for the moment, I am just going to remove the odd/offensive posts as I find them. Please be patient with me if I don't notice them right away.

For the spammers/trolls: be aware that if your link takes people back to some commercial site, or is obviously meant to offend or inflame, or is needlessly confrontational, it will be removed. Period.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rain, Rain

I won't actually wish it away, but the odd February rain we're getting right now is going to complicate our lives come morning, when it turns into a sheet of ice covering everything, especially since I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. The mess will be even worse because the ground is still frozen solid, which means there's no place for all that water to go- it can't absorb, it's not warm enough to evaporate, and we're too flat for it to run off. Come tomorrow, it's going to be pretty darn slippery in these here parts.

So, as much as possible, I am going to hunker down and listen to that unusual pitter patter sound on the roof. I put off a grocery run today, and do not intend to go anywhere but downstairs to my knitting chair (of course I have a knitting chair. Doesn't everyone?).

Last night I finished the back of the little cabled doll sweater (free pattern from Berroco), and am working on the fronts. Once I got the cable patterning down, things moved along quickly.

But I still could not concentrate on right and left twists and watch another 3 episodes of Season 4 Lost at the same time (that Ben Linus is one scary dude). So I sat at the wheel instead, and finished a 2-ply skein of Twisted Fiber Arts BFL, Braider colorway. BFL is wonderful wool for socks- sturdy and bouncy. However, it's pretty *sticky* and does not draft as easily as Merino, or some of the long wools. It's not my favorite fiber for spinning, but as always with Twisted products, this is superior stuff: soft and beautiful, and fairly easy to draft. I love how this yarn came out- 1.9 ozs, 151 yds. I have another 2 ozs to spin, which will give me plenty for socks. I decided just to spin this stuff, and let the colors come out as they may, and I am delighted with the blending, with the muted browns with hints of blue, green, rust and gold.

Tonight, more Chuck (no headache inducing 3-D I hope) and more Heroes. I am really sorry that My Own Worst Enemy was canceled- I enjoyed watching Christian Slater playing 2 characters in the same body, and want to know how the story comes out.
Oh- thanks for the tips on doll-size notions and accessories. Cathy-Cate, the idea of using jewelry findings as sweater clasps is a good one. I found a few that might work very well, though I am reluctant to use sterling silver on a doll sweater that is actually going to be played with (as opposed to just being displayed). But I am sure I can find something in the jewelry line that will work, that is not also precious metal.