Monday, January 31, 2011

The first day of the rest of the month...

... also happens to be the last day of the rest of the month. Oh well. I have a few days to do some of the things that went by the wayside while I was feverishly working on the MG rewrite, and getting a bunch of festival workshop proposals sent in, and trying to arrange classes and workshops for my March trip to Snohomish. I don't suppose this calm will last very long, but while it does, I'm going to try to rest up before we leave for SoCal. My cold is on the wane (it stayed strictly in the nasal vicinity, without settling in the chest, so it was annoying, but otherwise unremarkable)(well, I remarked a lot, but that's the way I am).

 I've also had a bit of time for knitting. I finished this pair of leftover socks, and they'll go winging their way to happy feet tomorrow.
 I decided to try the mitered square hat with heavier yarn and bigger needles. This yarn is Plymouth Boku. It's my usual mitered square hat recipe, except that I used size 8 needles, and only did 2 rows of 8 mitered squares. The crown has 80 sts. The measurements are the same. I think it turned out beautifully.
 And I still love the look of the decreases.
I cast on another with leftover Noro. Noro is a sneaky yarn- you can fall in love with a ball for the lovely peaches and golds and rusts, only to find an entire center section of chartreuse. That happened with this yarn, which looks to be soothing cool colors and oceany and all, and then suddenly, with no warning, there was this huge swath of scarlet. I looked at it for a bit, and then I snipped it out. The red just didn't belong in this hat, and it will be very happy in some other leftover hat, I'm sure.

This version of these hats knits up very very quickly. Woohoo for TBTo'KT!

Tomorrow, I'll probably have pics of some sewing projects that I'm finishing up.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm Baaack!

So, MG Fantasy V2.0 is off to my agent. If it needs more work, it'll come back to me. If it's ready to go, then the real nail biting starts. In the meantime, I have my days back now. Except that I don't. I have about six bazillion things to do before we leave for SoCal (and some Fearless Fair Isle booksignings- the first in Sioux Falls on Feb. 10). It's Proposal Submitting Season, and there are several festivals with looming deadlines waiting for my paperwork. And I have sewing to do before we leave, including some for a Birthday Sister. And I probably ought to clean, just a little bit.

Speaking of Fearless Fair Isle (which is shipping from online stores even as I type)...
 Look what arrived the other day! These are my freebie copies. Once they're gone (and they disappear pretty fast, I have a big family), I have to buy them, just like everyone else.
 But I keep 3 for myself. One is my reading copy, that I trot around to all of my booksignings (and to the grocery store, and the post office, and anywhere else I think anyone might possibly ask me what I'm doing carrying that book around, so I can say, "Oh this little thing? Did I bring that with me? It's just my latest book." ) And then two copies (of all of the books, the ones I wrote, and the ones where I am a contributor) go on my office shelf, where I keep every edition of every book (if I can find them)- ARCs (advance reading copies), 1st editions, multiple printings, new versions. I look at them sometimes, and think, "Wow, that's pretty cool. Why aren't I rich?"

Note some of the writers on the shelf below- Laura Lippman, Elizabeth George, Jerrilyn Farmer, and of course, Alan Beechey. The shelf below is the G.M. Ford/Dennis Lehane shelf. All of them signed, neener neener.
 And when I'm not admiring my oeuvre, I have been knitting. I'm nearly done with the latest pair of leftover socks. These will go winging to New Owner on Monday. I want her to have them before it warms up, not that that is going to happen any time soon.
 And last, but most certainly not least, Blog Reader/Facebook Friend Valerie knitted a couple of mitered-square leftover yarn hats, here modeled by Reanna (below) and Megan above. Thanks so much for sharing, Valerie. The hats and the models are all adorable!
As always, if you've made something from any of my patterns and would like to share, I love posting pics! Just e-mail them to me: kathleentaylor1952atgmaildotcom

Thursday, January 27, 2011

AI Season 10- Nashville Auditions, 1-27-11

We open with a rather gay young fellow. He has crayon red hair, a red plaid shirt, shorts, and black knee boots. He knocks some buildings down with a high note. Welcome to Nashville, where nearly double the predicted number of people showed up. Steven Tyler is wearing a blue print shirt that looks like it's made from '70's Qiana, and a vest. Randy is in a lavender button-down shirt. JLo is in a white jacket, cleavage, lots of eyelashes and major finger bling. The sacred name of Underwood is invoked, and they're doing the auditions at the Ryman Auditorium at the Grand 'Ol Opry.

#1 is Christina McCaffrey (side note: I loved the Pern books). She's blond, has a shiny face, a flowered dress and shrug, and a helium voice. She starts singing (badly) before she even gets into the room, and is too ridiculous to talk about. She's also deluded, telling her identical mother that Steven Tyler liked her.

#2-3 are something entirely new for AI- a pair of ex's. Rob Bolin and Chelsea Oaks used to be a couple, they used to live together, and are no longer even friends. But they do still sing together. They're being presented as a Gimmick Audition, so my expectations are low. But surprise surprise- they sing a duet, and their country harmonies are lovely. Then Rob sings a solo and schools last night's dude on Marvin Gaye. Chelsea solos next. She has a nice voice, though there's a lot of vibrato. She's not as good solo as Rob is. Chelsea's current boyfriend is out in the hallway, and he is less than amused that both Rob andChelsea made it through. Together. Whether or not there is real drama, there is no doubt that the show is hoping for DRAMA once they all get to Hollywood.

#4 is Al Lewis, a tattoo artist and biker wannabe, with a beard, bandanna, and a sleeveless vest over a sleeveless t-shirt. He makes a possibly racist comment that throws JLo for a moment (something about vanilla and chocolate ice cream), and he comes off like a minor Jack Black character. He's a really terrible singer, but very philosophical.

#5 is Stormi Henley (seriously, it's on her birth certificate). She was Miss Teen USA in 2009, and she's the very definition of pageant, with lots of cleavage, and cowboy boots. She's quite pretty, but her weak voice doesn't do a thing for me. The vote is Tyler: yes, and Lopez: no, so it's up to Randy, and of course, he lets her through. JLo is disgusted with the men. So am I.

Next up is a string of rejects, including a guy with assorted facial studs, who can barely keep from sobbing.

#6, Adrienne Beasley, is the African American adopted daughter of understated but supportive white farmers. I wouldn't mention their respective colors, but Adrienne herself, (and by extension, the show) made a pretty big deal of it. She has a lovely voice. Note to Adrienne's Dad: Not to worry, AI will pay her way to Hollywood.

Day 2- Tyler is in another stupid black hat, black shirt, and necklace. I can't tell if Randy's cardigan is a mottled foggy gray, or if it's actually translucent and he's wearing a white t-shirt underneath. JLo is in a wide sparkly headband, and an off the shoulder top (or maybe it's a dress- she doesn't stand up, so I can't tell) with a sort of tribal black and white print.

#1, Camilla Something (I can't read my notes), is 28 and 5'2". She says she has a Big Voice, so I sit back, waiting to be blown away. I was, if by blown away, I really mean horrified. She's terrible.

I am not going to describe the Blue Man (nor will I say why I am certain that he was male). We're bombarded by a whole lot of people who weep copiously when they learn what awful singers they are.

#2 Jackie Wilson, is the closest to a Big Girl that we've seen so far this season, and she's barely chubby. She's blond, and is wearing a short denim skirt that looks just fine on her. I don't like what she's doing to Till You Come Back to Me, but she has a real voice, and the judges are impressed. She trots her Golden Ticket out Ryan, where she is congratulated by her Mom and Dad. And then her wrinkled dad gives her a big old lingering kiss on the lips an Ryan just about falls over, until they clarify that this 50 year old guy is really 28 year old Jackie's boyfriend.

#3 LaToya "Younique" Moore is wearing an obviously homemade royal blue prom dress, trimmed with glitter tape. She takes one copy of her homemade CD album in for the Judges to share, and is just as deluded as she is talentless, refusing to believe that they won't pass her on to the next round.
#4,5,6 come in quick succession. Paul McDonald does Rod Stewart with a thin voice that I don't find pleasing. Jimmie Allen is smooth, but overdoes the embroidery. And Danny Pate is big and rumpled and pretty good. All three move on.

#7, Matt Dillard, is all Deliverance, in a black tank top, overalls, and a battered straw hat. He gets a few minutes of back story: his family takes in special needs foster kids. He has a great deep speaking voice, but his singing voice is pure Josh Groban in church. He has really beautiful eyes, and a great sense of humor. JLo says no, but the guys say yes. I agree with all of them- he's good, but he needs to step it up, or he's going to be swallowed whole.

And as per the Season 10 custom, the last auditioner of the night, gets the full Magilla. #8 is 15 year old Lauren Alaina. Lauren is a very tall, solid girl, with great big, multi-shade hair that is kind of ratty. Her sob story is that she's very close to her cousin, who had a brain tumor. In general, the combo of being 15 and the almost-terminal-disease hook would annoy me, but for some reason, I'm liking Lauren. She's wearing a print bubble dress with a cute little black shrug, over black leggings. She has a Big Voice, but really, she needs to go home and wait another year, and get a little more experience under her belt before jumping into the meat grinder. But the judges unanimously love love love her. They call her family in, and Lauren and Tyler sing Aerosmith together. Steven manages not to leer at Lauren in front of her really young-looking Daddy, which is a good thing.

Next week, we find out if everything really is bigger in Texas.

Thursday Tab- Golden Best Friends, Part 2

Here are the room backdrops for Golden's Best Friends (the dolls and clothes were uploaded last week). I'll post the furniture next week. This set was provided by Paper Doll Friend, Lori. Thanks so much, Lori!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AI Season 10- Milwaukee Auditions, 1-26-11

We're in Milwaukee in October. Steven Tyler is maraca-ing his Altoids while he and Randy mangle the lyrics to some song or other. It's the first time that AI has held auditions in Milwaukee, though Danny Gokey is from there. Just in case you didn't realize it, we're in the midwest, dontcha know. Yah, you betcha.

Please Steven Tyler- shut the hell up. I do not want to listen to you shriek every single week.
JLo is perky in a pinky-beige sort of jacket with huge floaty lapels over sparkles and extremely high heels. She's wearing lots of rings and every time I look at her, I am struck again by how gorgeous she is. Randy is wearing an odd green and black jacket with a smiley face on it, and the word *adios*. It makes as much sense as anything else he wears.

Auditioner #1 is Scotty McCreery, from North Carolina. He's 16, and has a sort of Aiken-y face and a very deep speaking voice. He dares to sing real country music, with an extremely mature and pleasant voice, despite the fact that he isn't wearing a cowboy hat or a plaid shirt. This kid has a future in radio if he decides that music isn't right for him (though I hope he doesn't decide that, since his singing is really very good). Okay, Tyler- you should not have to be told not to say *that* word to a 16 year old. Sheesh.

#2 is Joe Rupka, 19 from ohio. Oh my, this is a rather pitiful, large young man, with radio DJ aspirations, and a propensity to sing the call letters of some radio station. Over and over and over and over. I think to myself that this kid cannot possibly sing well. He attempts Billy Joel's The Longest Time, and guess what? He can't sing. And he won't take the unanimous rejection. He keeps on singing, and then he does the call letters again. Yikes.

#3 Emma Henry is 15 and she's from Colorado. She has brown hair, dyed blond on top, and has loved American Idol since she was 5 years old. She sings Cyndi Lauper's True Colors in a very breathy voice, with a runaway vibrato. She's interesting, but she's also the exact reason why 15 year olds should not be allowed on this show. She absolutely needs a couple of years of seasoning, which the judges tell her as gently as they can. In fact, Randy actually earns his salary by giving her excellent, and compassionate advice. But she cries and begs and weeps and begs some more... and.... nooooooo... they change their minds and let her through, though JLo says that they will eat her up in Hollywood, which is true. They did her no favors.

We are subjected to a string of terrible singers, including a horrific goth girl in black velvet, and a guy who asked if he could have a drink of Randy's coke.

#4 is Naima Adedapo, who accessorizes with dreds, flowers, hoop earrings, sunshiny bright colors, red lipstick, and unshaven armpits. She's a maintenance worker at an auditorium, and she has a big and beautiful voice that is totally up to Donnie Hathaway.

It is now 2:00pm and the auditioners are going a little nutso, with limbo under a giant toothbrush, and a misbegotten tumbling run that lands squarely on the cameraman's chest.

Note to Bad Singers: do not sing Jenny From the Block to Jenny from the block. It does not amuse her.

#5 Jerome Bell, a Bar Mitzvah Singer, is wearing this year's first stupid hat (well outside of that feathery thing that Steven Tyler stuck on the back of his head last week) and very shiny shoes on his very small feet. He's singing Let's Get It On, and he's good, but he's trying way too hard. Marvin Gaye is about nuance and restraint, and longing. This kid is too much with the vocal gymnastics for my taste. He's going through, and he deserves to, but I hope he dials it back in Hollywood.

#6-Thia Megia is 15. She sings with a very mature voice, with great depth and a beautiful tone.

Unfortunately, we're going to be overrun with 15 year-olds this year, and it's all Justin Beiber's fault. Or rather, it's the fault of all the 12 year olds who buy  multiple copies of the Beiber oeuvre. I have enjoyed the auditions so far, but if the show really does turn into Beiberanistan, I will check out.

The show has shown very few outright crazies this year, but #7 Nathaniel James is a Civil War re-enactor, in costume, who cannot pronounce recreate. He came with his bearded father, and is anxious to assure us that said father is not a dirty, sex-fiend hippie (you think I'm kidding? I could not make this up). He sings The Lion Sleeps Tonight, or rather, he approximates singing. This kid is seriously off-balance.

#8 Mason Wilkinson needs a looooong time to compose himself before singing. He should have taken longer.

#9 Molly DeWolf Swenson is tall, blond, a recent Harvard Grad, and a new White House Intern. And oh yes, she went to the Lewinski Well. On the judges' entrance that morning, Randy accidentally smacked her right in the face, but she appears to be undamaged. She sings Dock of the Bay, and starts out too low, but then she warms into it, and is excellent. I'd take her over thirty 15 year olds. It's nice to see that her celebratory dance looks like a normal kid's, and not a White House Harvard Grad Intern's (not that I'd know what that dance would look like, but it sure wasn't stuffy and staid- it was purely joyful).

On Day 2, Tyler is wearing a black riding coat, a black hat, and a black vest over a black and white shirt. Randy is in a gray sweater with either a large 8 or a cursive E embroidered on it. JLo is dressed for Grease Night at the Home in a white shirt festooned with a huge treble clef, and a strange silver sparkly neckline, a short full black skirt, and black tights. And a sloppy pony tail. This is the first time that she hasn't looked beautiful.

#1 Hayley Reinhart, from Chicago auditioned last year but didn't make it. She's trying again, and Randy pretends that he remembers her. She's singing Oh Darling, and her bluesy voice is quite nice. She makes it this time.

#2 Tiwan Strong is very tall, and dressed all in white, including his shoes. He sings Twistin' The Night Away, and while he's no Sam Cooke, he's certainly good enough. He has a very happy entourage, one of whom dances herself right into a charley horse, and needs Ryan's tender loving care to recover.

I groan when I see #3, Steve Beghun. He's tall and very doofy, and he makes really horrible puns about his name. And he's a CPA. My guess is that he's going to be dull but terrible. But I am wrong. Large and long Steve has an excellent do wop voice. Wow!

#4 Vernika Patterson cannot do Minnnie Ripperton, and she should not try. And Vernika honey, though I agree with you that there are far too many skinny chicks on this show these days (where are the Big Girls of Yore?), the judges do not reject you because you're chunky. They reject you because you can't sing. Trust me on this.

This leads to a string of weepy, angry, ungracious, swearing, and possibly physically abusive rejects.

#5 Albert Rogers III is a bad Obama impersonator who compares himself to Ruben, Luther, and Usher. He must be thinking of some non-musical Rubenlutherusher, because his Stand By Me is painful.

#6 Scott Dangerfield has a bit of the John Lennon look about him, if John Lennon wore shorts and striped shirts, and lipstick (it's not dark, but there's something that's not natural about his lip coloration). He's a goofy looking kid, but he surprises the judges (who still manage to think that only the pretty ones have talent, I guess) with a very good, bluesy voice. I think we'll be seeing more of this kid.

#7 Meghan Frazier is an obnoxious Packer Fan, with an equally obnoxious Packer Fan Father. She sings Beiber by way of Opera and takes the unanimous rejection well.

#8 Allyson Jados looks like a groupie, and I don't mean that in a good way. She's the first Rocker Girl of this season. She sings Come Together, and she's only okay but the judges put her through. Her look brings out the creep in Steven Tyler (which is not very far below the surface as it is), and her little sister looks just like her.

Ryan tells us that 53 kids made it through in Milwaukee, but that there's one more we need to stick around and meet. They've slated the last 11 minutes for this mystery guy and his sob story, so it better be good.

Update- I forgot to allow for 6 minutes of commercials. Still, that's 5 minutes for #9 Chris Medina, a Chris Sligh lookalike, who wears his fiance's engagement ring on a chain around his neck. Of course the Judges ask about the ring, and he tells them that his fiance, the love of his life, was badly injured in a car accident over a year ago. She had a traumatic brain injury, and sustained massive damage, but Chris and his mother take care of her. And of course she's in her wheel chair out in the lobby. I am ready to dislike Chris because this back story was obviously angled to garner sympathy, and future votes. Then he sings, and I dislike him even more because his voice is wonderful- it was plenty good enough to get him through to Hollywood without trotting out the big guns. The sob story simply wasn't necessary, and the sheer manipulation of it annoys me. Before telling Chris that he's going to Hollywood, they demand that the fiance be brought in, and Steven Tyler is genuinely sweet to this massively damaged young woman (which buys back a little of the good will that he spent saying naughty words to a kid earlier in the show). I predict that we'll be seeing shots of her all the way through to the Top 12 and beyond.

So, that's it for Milwaukee. We'll see all y'all tomorrow night in Nashville.

Crazy Time

Sorry for missing yesterday's post. I'm heading into the homestretch on the MG Fantasy revisions (which have to be done and to my agent by Monday). All of the neurosis and panic that I didn't feel when I finished the first draft, I'm dealing with  now. Trust me, it's not pretty.

Ad I habe a code...

But, Ms American Idol Doofus Blogger, you say, didn't you just get over two  months of bronchitis/pneumonia? Aren't you just now getting back to a full workout? Haven't you paid your Winter Illness Dues in full?

To which I mutter, Yeah,[honk] I sure would have thought so.

The big worry is that we're leaving for SoCal in just a little over two weeks, and I do not want to travel sick again. But, this looks and feels like a regular cold. If any symptoms get worse, I will hie mysel' to a doctor.
 I did finish a pair of socks. This pair isn't made of leftover yarns, though they certainly qualify as stashbusting. This stuff is Knit Picks Parade, the sportweight superwash sock yarn that they experimented with (and discarded) a few years ago. I have a few balls of it, and it's fun to knit with because it uses slightly fewer stitches and slightly larger needles (56, 3mm) than my usual sock pattern. These aren't going in TBTO'KT because they're heading to their real home next week.
These socks (which will also go to their home next week) are sort of leftover socks. I had full balls of each of these yarns, but in the size that I'm knitting, I need 3 balls of Parade for a pair. So I'm mixing the stripes, and I'm pleased with the results. I suspect Future Owner will be happy too.

Today, more chapter revisions (just 4 left, but they're the hard ones), and tonight is American Idol... and of course, lots of sneezing and sniffling. It'll be a busy day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

More rolling of the drums

Presenting another Kindle e-book by author and illustrator (and oldest son) Curtis Taylor!

Lost is the story of a little boy, and a shopping trip, and though I don't remember it, the writer tells me that the book was inspired by a real incident. (What kind of Mom am I, that I don't remember losing him in a store? Sheesh)
 Anyway, I've seen this book in several versions over the years, and in assorted media, and I think this one is smashing!
It's available as a Kindle download from Amazon, for a measly $1.99, just like Pet My Dragon?
(Don't have a Kindle? You can get a free Kindle app for your computer from Amazon. There are also versions for the iPad, Blackberry, and Droid.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

...nah... that joke isn't appropriate for here.

In any case, the second try at a sample for my new Nordic Christmas Stocking workshop came out well.

I scaled down the motif, the number of stitches, and the length of the stocking from my first attempt. This version should work  just fine for the class. It will be an all-day workshop (usually that means 6 hours of classroom time). I was able to knit the entire toe-up stocking in 5 hours. Students will knit the toe in advance (or they can use a provisional cast on, and knit the toe later), and the goal of the class is not to finish the stocking that day (though it is possible). The goal is to get usesd to yarn wrangling, to be comfortable reading the charts, and to work the afterthought heel. Sock phobic types need not worry- there are no short rows involved. This heel is easy and stress free (and better yet- adaptable to nearly every sock pattern).

All anyone has to do in class is knit a bit past the first chart, so we can all knit the heel together. After that, finishing the stocking up to the picot edge at home will be a snap! And since it's a Christmas Stocking, there's no Second Sock Syndrome.


Now to write up my SAFF class proposal.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

AI Season 10- Thursday Feb 20, New Orleans Auditions

Boo and hiss, American Idol. I have other things that I want to watch on Thursday evenings. In fact, tonight I had four shows all airing at the same time- we're recording the Barrett Jackson Auctions for The Hub, and Community for me, watching AI in the bedroom (since our DVR can only record two channels if you watch one of them, and the bedroom TV is connected to a different, DVRless receiver), and we're missing Wipeout altogether. Move back to Tues/Wed, m'kay?

That said, there is a totally different vibe this year, and I don't think it's just the lack of Simon (who I didn't love, and don't miss). It's... I don't know... gentler?

Anyway, we open with a clip from Oct. 17, and terrible Blake Patterson is playing the piano and has to be escorted out by his Mama. I am pretty sure he was in on the joke.

So, we're in NOLA, which means there will be beads and masks and sequins. Steven Tyler is wearing an incredibly stupid, tiny hat with a Dr. Seuss-style feather, perched on the back of his head. Randy is channeling Simon in a white v-neck tee. JLo's red dress has a Flash Gordian shoulder. Just one Flash Gordian shoulder. The other is bare.

Ryan, looking decades younger in an old clip, mispronounces French names.

Back in the present, Jordan Dorsey is a vocal teacher who prides himself on being a tough taskmaster. Often, when people present themselves thusly, they can't deliver, but Jordan's Somewhere Over the Rainbow is lovely, though it goes on too long and is far too embroidered for my taste (I need to make a macro for that phrase). He has a truly gorgeous voice.

Louisiana has alligators, swamps, wild pigs, Nawlins, and bad singers. Who knew?

Blonde Sarah Sellers is wearing a strappy red dress, funky glasses and black high heeled booties. She has an excellent speaking voice. Her singing voice is bluesy, and exactly the kind of voice that I love. I hesitate to choose favorites this early in the season, but I'll be watching Sarah.

23 year old ship builder, Jovany Barreto is very full of himself. He's wearing a natty vest and tie, a dark shirt, and jeans. He sings in Spanish, and has an excellent voice and he sucks up to JLo shamelessly. Then he ruins everything by taking off his shirt. Your abs do not impress me, young man. Put your clothes back on.

Fun Louisiana Facts: The Brown Pelican is the state bird. The Magnolia is the state flower. It's shaped like a boot. And it produced Randy Jackson.

Speaking of which, Jacquelyn Dupree, the daughter of Randy's high school football coach, brings not only Daddy to the room, but some old photos and clippings for Randy. She sings, and it's not terrible and it's not good. I imagine if she hadn't had a personal connection to Randy, that she would have been gently ushered out the door without a ticket.

16 year old, Carrot Toppish Brett Lowenstern, is odd. With a really odd, high-pitched speaking voice and That manner. But he has an extremely supportive family, and he wants to help other odd kids feel okay about themselves, which goal I support wholeheartedly. Guess what- he's good, with a singing voice that is nothing like his speaking voice. He sings Bohemian Rhapsody, not a song well suited to a capella, and he nails it. I am deeply impressed.

Gabriel Franks won a Steven Tyler lookalike contest. He's annoying even before he sings Bad Romance. Luckily, I have managed to know nothing about Lady Gaga's musical oeuvre, so I have no idea how close this rendition is to the original, but it does not amuse me.  It does not amuse the judges either.

This leads to a montage of terrible deluded, elderly, tone-deaf, costumeful, and just plain crazy auditioners.

Alex Attardo attended Idol Camp at age 16, and said it was an eye-opening experience. He sings Proud Mary. Oh well, at least he had fun at camp.

J.C. Batteaux, is a short, round, pink-cheeked 15 year old boy with a 12 year old voice. By all appearances, J.C, has yet to reach puberty. He sings Dock of the Bay, and if you close your eyes and listen, it sounds as though it's being sung by a woman with a good voice. If you open them, you are instantly confused.  He gets a golden ticket, but if his voice changes in mid-season, he's going to be in trouble.

The last auditioner of the evening on this hour long episode, is 23 year old Paris Tassin. Paris has a hard luck story, and she cries openly over the fact that at age 18, she gave birth to a little girl with hydrocephaly. I am not moved by Paris's tears- her daughter is adorable, and she is four years old. By now, the facts of her life should be every-day, not tear-inducing. I suspect that the tears are only for show, trotted out to win sympathy, and future votes, which hardens my tiny little heart. She tells the judges that she has a special needs daughter who she takes care of, as though that deserves some sort of medal. (side note: I really dislike this girl, don't I?). She tackles Carrie Underwood, a move that is usually a mistake. But she pulls it off with a very good performance. JLo must be tired, because she's weeping (our first Paula Moment of the season). We'll be seeing lots of Paris, unfortunately.

And that's that for this week. 37 kids are moved on to Hollywood, including a chubby girl that I would have liked to have heard (I have a soft spot for the round ones, who get very little air time on this show any more).

Next week, Milwaukee and cheese heads. Woohoo! And perhaps another pair of shows with a high percentage of good singers. I like this new mix.

Thursday Tab- Golden, Paper Doll Playbook, Best Friends,1837-44, 1983, Part 1

Paper Doll Friend Lorie is sharing another of her wonderful sets with us. This large Golden play book will be split up over three weeks because it's huge, and amazing. There are dolls, and clothes, and rooms, and furniture! I wonder if the artist didn't work on The Ginghams- there is a similarity in the furniture illustrations, and in the dolls' expressions.

Anyway, here's Part 1, Dolls and Clothes. Next week, we'll have the rooms, and the week after, the furniture. Thanks again Lorie!

 I think Denise looks a bit like Tea Leoni

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

AI Season 10- Wed, Jan. 19, 2011, New Jersey Auditions

Season Premiere- new logo, outer space, laser lights, mystery, controversey, change, speculation, rumor, announcements, heart beat, Randy in Leather, Steven Tyler looking like someone's elderly, disheveled auntie, JLo, regal in a spangly jumpsuit with hip gathers, Ryan looking older, new animated opening, familiar music.

This is American Idol?

The Seacrest Voiceover vows that 125K auditioners all hope for the most illustrious prize in music. So, AI is handing out Grammys now? It then introduces the judges. I hope to hell that  Steven Tyler isn't going to screech every single week, but I suppose that's the price we're going to pay for losing Simon. At least JLo has some Abdul Potential for craziness. Randy Jackson is still the luckiest nobody in the business.

We see a montage of awful that I'm not going to recap because I assume we'll see each and every one of these disasters again, in detail, though I do make a special note of Optimus Prime.

Ryan also mentions a mysterious person, a music producer.  My notes say that his name is Jimmy IV (as in: eye vee), but The Hub says that his last name is Iovine (I missed the caption while writing it down phonetically). It is the last we'll see of him tonight.

Okay, we're 10 minutes into the season, and I already have a page of notes.  This does not bode well for a two hour show.

New Jersey Auditions, Day 1: ARGHHHH! Constantine! My eyes!!! JLo is wearing a blue-green bubble skirt and a navy blue tee. She's sleek and gorgeous, and she's wearing huge hoop earrings. Tyler is medley of prints, polka dots, and wrinkles, all in black, white and gray. Randy is in a gray letter sweater.

Rachael Zevita made it to Hollywood in Season 6, and was promptly cut. She has something odd by her eye (mole? scar?). She sings Halleluliah in a very affected voice (back-of-the-throat Kermit style). Oh, Honey, no. But the judges let her through anyway.

Caleb Hawley, with scraggly hair and a 5 o'clock shadow, sings another song that also prominently features the word Halleluliah, in a controlled falsetto. Its limited, but also interesting, and not unpleasant. They let him go on for a long time, and then give him a yellow ticket.

Our first 15 year old appears (for the record- I object strongly to letting 15 year olds compete. Actually, I strongly object to 16 and 17 year olds competing. Give me a contest of 30-70 year olds). Kenzie Palmer is appropriately dressed in a white tunic and leggings. She has a country-ish yodel. I reluctantly admit that she's okay. Tyler and Randy are also reluctant, but JLo convinces them, and they let Kenzie through.

We see a montage of nameless ones which includes a dominatrix.

Next up is very tall and very thin Achille Lovle, a Wanda Sykes lookalike from Mikos. She sings just about as well as you'd think a Wanda Sykes lookalike would.

I think next is a parody of the Jersey Shore opening, but I'm not sure because I've studiously avoided seeing the show (though Snooki is unavoidable). I must say that many of the Jersey auditioners are shiny (and by that I don't mean that they are wearing sparkles, I mean they need blotters).

Tiffany Rios is pitiful, with her doughy face, orange skin, and- I could not possibly make this up- silver cardboard cutout stars pinned to her boobs. But surprise surprise- Tiffany has a nice voice, though her high note probably made dogs in three counties howl. The judges caution her to work on her appearance (translation: ditch the stars, and shower) before letting her through.

Another montage of bad, more bad, and really terrible, capped by JLo's reluctance to say no to anyone, ending with Melika Something, in a sky blue shirred strapless horror. Even JLo has no trouble booting her.

Endearingly goofy looking, 16 year old Robbie Rosen, whose face is 75% nose and 15% teeth, is our first Sob Story of the night. He spent much of his childhood in a wheelchair. He sings Yesterday in an overwrought manner much better suited to a school play than American Idol. It must have sounded better in person because Robbie gets a ticket.

Chris Cordiero was a New Jersey Boy Scout, locally famous for some sort of anti-texting PSA. Tonight, he's wearing a green plaid shirt, a ratty straw hat, shorts, and extremely hairy legs. He sings My Way, his way. His deluded family, listening outside with Ryan, is going to be sad, as well they should be for encouraging this poor boy to audition.

Oh, are we going there already? Michael wears plaid, has no chin, and is a nervous burper. He sings Proud Mary, if singing is what you want to call it. Lordy. The judges string him along for a bit before sending him home.

Ashley Sullivan is filmed coming out of the porta-potty. She's thin, and has horrible makeup, and carries a picture of Britney Spears in her pants pocket. She has a very Mackenzie Phillips vibe about her, and I don't mean that in a good way. She sings Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie, which may be a first for this show. It's scarily intense, and the judges are stunned. Please Judges, do her a favor and send her home. Oh no- they put her through. This poor girl is going to unravel right in front of us. Shame on you, show.

I want to marry the Mayhem commercials. Seriously.

Perky Victoria Huggins is 16 3/4 years old and I hate her already. She is all teeth and arrogance and pageant, declaring that we might be surprised that a 16 year old might want something this much (as though 16 years are composed of anything but concentrated want). In the words of the Great Paula Abdul, she's completely nasal up in her nasal, but since this show loves drama, we're going to be stuck with her for awhile.

Melinda Ademi, whose family is from war-torn Kosovo, is our second sob story of the night. She's 16 and a lovely girl, and she has the kind of voice that they love on this show.

Day 2: Randy is in a black t-shirt and beads. Steven Tyler is wearing fairly sober gray blazer, but he made up for it with wacktacular (or perhaps Satanic) earrings. JLo is all tan, sparkles and cleavage.

20 year old Devin Rush is a singing waitress. She sings God Bless the Child, and she's in tune, but there is no heart or soul in her performance, and this song does not deserve her. It's awful, but the judges disagree with me and put her through.

And now, it's time for the truly pitiful one. Yojima (or as he prefers to call himself: Yo-Pop) thinks he is channeling Michael Jackson, by way of Miley Cyrus. I'm not going to waste my time with this, or with the Miley Cyrus montage that follows.

Brielle VanHugel is 16. Her father is a singer, and a cancer survivor, with the whiff of Stage Dad. Brielle wears a flower in her hair (there's one every year), and has awful scrunchy booties. She sings Endless Love in an okay voice. It doesn't do anything for me but the judges like her. We'll see if Dad can step back, or if this is all going to be about him. I have my doubts.

The final auditioner tonight is another sob story. Travis Orlando (16, with a twin named Timmy) is from the Bronx. He had a tough childhood that included living in a shelter. He has the look that this show drools over. His choice of Eleanor Ribgy is interesting, though he adds far too much embroidery to his performance. The judges ask him to sing something else, and he chooses that song by Jazon Mraz, and does a better job with it. This show is gonna love this kid. Let's hope his mom finds herself a stylist.

51 tickets were given out in Jersey, and as usual, we saw only a small percentage of them. Some things never change.

Tomorrow night- New Orleans.

Show- I tried to quit you, but it didn't work.  I'll be there. Sigh.

Back to the Drawing Board

Pretty, isn't it?

This was going to be my class sample for the new All-Day Fair Isle Christmas Stocking Workshop that I'm putting together. The design is gorgeous- and there are only 60 sts, only two yarn colors, worsted weight yarn, and it uses Size 8 needles. It's an easy toe-up pattern, with an afterthought heel (no short rows) (the purple yarn marks the future heel location).

Problem is, it took me 3 hours to knit this much, and if it took me that long, then it's going to take a class of new stranders a lot longer. While I don't expect anyone to finish their stocking in the 6 hour class (I'll make that clear in the class description), it's imperative that we all get far enough so that we can stop, pick the waste yarn out, and knit the heel.

I fear that cannot happen with this design as it stands. So lovely it may be, but it's back to the drawing board with a scaled down version. Smaller chart, fewer stitches, smaller finished stocking, happier students. It's all good (though it all takes time, which is the one ingredient that is in short supply these days).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Workshop Prep

Daytimes, I'm working on revisions (tick tick tick). Evenings, I'm knitting up samples for the new workshops that I'm adding to my roster. At least until tomorrow, when American Idol starts again, after which 2/7 of my evenings will be shot for the next five months. (I sound excited, don't I?)
 These are the samples for the new Mitered Square workshop. In the class, we'll work on a mitered square cuff (members can decide whether they want to make a mitten- fingerless or otherwise, or a sock) with self striping/patterning worsted weight yarns and size 5 needles. They can also opt to bring bits of leftover worsted weight yarns for a really colorful cuff. I think this will be a half-day class, with the emphasis on the mitering, and the rest of the project can be finished at home. It looks to be great fun. The handout will include basic mitered square instructions, as well as the patterns for all three of the above projects. It's one I've been thinking about for a long time, and I'm glad to add that to the list.

 My other new class will be an All-Day Fair Isle Toe-Up Christmas Stocking! The class will be set up very much like my current All-Day Fair Isle Toddler Hat Workshop (which I have taught many times, in lots of venues), which stresses basics like yarn wrangling, yarn dominance, chart reading, and fun. In addition, this class will also feature an Afterthought Heel (a handy technique that uses no short rows at all). I'm going to start knitting the photography sample tonight. Just wait until you see the design!

And I finished another leftover hat. I need to complete my class samples (and get umpteen workshop proposals written up- deadlines are looming) before I cast on another.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Monday

I'm deep into my revisions, and the clock is ticking, so I only have a moment to post this morning.

My friend Mary knitted the Genevieve's Graduation sweater for Fearless Fair Isle Knitting. It was her first large stranded project, and her first ever steek! She did such a fantastic job, and now that the book is close to hitting the strands, she can actually talk about the process. Check out her blog for some very cool pics!

But even hard-working, clock-watching, serious-about-doing-this-on-time-and-doing-a-good-job types need an occasional diversion. I recommend 1890 Yourself. It's a hoot.
Check out that wasp waist. Looks just like me. (I orginally typed, and posted. *1980 Yourself*, which might be even more amusing.)

And yeah, AI is starting on Wednesday. I gotta say, I've never been less enthusiastic about the beginning of an Idol Season. It's not that Simon left (I wasn't a big fan of his anyway), it just feels worn out. I'll watch, and I'll recap (though I have some traveling scheduled in the next few months, and will miss a few episodes), but the show is on Double Secret Probation (especially since it moved to Thursdays, so that I now have to watch my Favorite Shows on Friday). We'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

BTO'KT and Astrological Confusion

 I finished the latest pair of leftover socks. Cool, no? These are all yarns that I bought at the  '09 Sock Summit (the peachy/brown ones are Koigu mill ends, words that still cause a flutter in my heart).
The Big Tub O' Knitted Things is starting to fill up again. Three pairs of the socks are slated for specific people (though they will still reside in the BYO'TK until it's Gifting Time- and so far, that time is Christmas '11), but the hats are all free floaters, available whenever I need a gift.

I have another hat cast on, but it is currently demoted to Road Trip Status because I'm putting together a couple of new workshops, and it's Workshop Proposal Season. I need knitted samples of the new projects for photography, so they're the priority for my evening knitting now.

My daytime priority is still the revision of my MG Fantasy. I finished another 5-chapter block yesterday, and I intend to complete the revision by the end of the month (not just because I promised my agent that I would do so, but because my travel season is starting- Fearless Fair Isle Knitting will be out in Feb, and I have plane trips planned for both February and March, so things are going to get busy very soon).

In the meantime, I don't care what they say, I will always be a Libra.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Laundry Day

 For some reason, the sight of umpteen pairs of handknit socks drying on the rack, just makes me feel good.
 I finished another hat- this one is a bit bulkier and bigger than the others. I had to double up on the non-green strands. But that's okay- Taylors are known for having The Big Head, so this one won't have any problem finding a home.
 I just like the way the decreases look.
Next up, another pair of leftover socks. These are all bits and balls of yarn that I bought at the '09 Sock Summit. Seems proper that they end up together.

Otherwise, nothing new is going on. Revisions are coming along, and I'm finally back to running 2 miles at a stretch. How's the weather, you ask? Snow. Snow. And more snow. I'd take a picture, but it looks the same as every other snow picture I've taken in the last few years. Do a blog search and you'll get the drift... did you see what just I did there? Hooboy- I need to get out more.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Roc Day

Traditionally, Roc Day (or St. Distaff's Day), is observed on the day after The Twelfth Day (or January 7). It signals the final blowout before Christmas is declared to be Done, Over, Finished, Kaput, Stick a Fork in It (which is a good twelve days after I, personally, declare it to be over). The poet Robert Herrick wrote long ago about St. Distaff's Day as a transition from feasting and celebrating, back to every day life, thusly:

Partly worke and partly play
Ye must on S. Distaffs day:
From the Plough soone free your teame;
Then come home and fother them.
If the Maides a spinning goe,
Burne the flax, and fire the tow:
Scorch their plackets, but beware
That ye singe no maiden-haire.
Bring in pailes of water then,
Let the Maides bewash the men.
Give S. Distaffe all the right,
Then bid Christmas sport good-night.
And next morrow, every one
To his own vocation
In modern times, crafters often get together to spin and indulge in fibery pursuits on (or near) Roc Day, and this year I was lucky enough to join my guild (the Prairie Arts Fiber Guild) in Groton, SD, for the day. Happily, there were no men to bewash (and I'd be doing something more dire to anyone who was foolish enough to burn my flax anyway). But the weather (hovering near zero, sometimes just above, sometimes just below, but with no wind and no new snow) permitted 22 of us to gather for a day of fun and wool fumes.
 No matter what else happens when spinners get together, there is always a spinning circle. Here, Shay, Julie, Marie, Celeste, and Connie do what spinners do. Five spinners, three different wheel styles.
 Young spinner Hannah spun and plied yarn yarns on a drop spindle. Her mom, Malissa crocheted, and Jill used yet another style of wheel.
 Rose, Betty (from my knitting group), Brandy, and Dianne worked and talked and laughed. Brandy was knitting mitts, and Diane was crocheting a shawl. Two more wheels... I wish Mary could have been there, she would have come away feeling much more confident about her own wheel. Well, actually, I wish Mary could have been there just because. Karen too.
 Some of us spent time wet-felting armbands for the board members to wear at the next NCFF.  Dianne, Brandy, Hannnah and Kelly (wearing her armband), watched as Malissa cut the felting base patterns from an old sheet.
 Kelly's arm band, un-armed, is a simple length of felt, with a couple of buttons. Easy-peasy.
 We layered our wool on top of the cloth pattern, and then covered it with a screen.
 and then we sprinkled it with soapy water from handy devices we dubbed Snot Suckers (because... obviously). And then we applied elbow grease. We rubbed and kneaded and pushed and rolled and added more soap, and massaged, and complained about our aching shoulders, and we shocked the piece in alternate hot and cold water baths, and rubbed them on washboards, and observed our pruney fingers.
 And in the end, we had lovely more-or-less rectangular pieces of felt. Mine will go to a board member- I'll be interested to see how she finishes and embellishes it. All that felting gave me a notion for making felted wrist bands with the Grandgirls, next time they come out to the farm. I think they'd love making them (and their hands would definitely be clean afterwards).
 I had time to spin too. I took a hank of Twisted Fiber Arts  Puffy (merino) roving, painted in the Valkyrie colorway. (note the nifty chair cushion).
 I was able to spin a bobbin of lovely singles. I'm not going to try to make this a self-patterning yarn. I'm just going to let the colors develop as they may. I'll probably knit hats or a scarf with it, so matching isn't important.
I also contributed fiber for a Fiber Sandwich. 4 ozs of donated fiber from each person playing was pooled and mixed and then divided back again, into 4 oz bundles, and redistributed. I didn't have time to start spinning this lovely bunch, but I'm looking forward to it. And I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else does with their Sandwich fibers. If you give 10 spinners the same wool, you're going to get 10 different yarns back. That's part of the fun.
We also had far too much good food (which I did not record for posterity, owing to the fact that I was eating too much of it),  and a whole lot of laughter (which also doesn't photograph well).
All in all, it was an excellent Roc Day. And no one's tow* was fired.
*for the non-fibery among Blog Readers, tow here refers to jumbled linen fibers (which come from flax)
Also for the non-fibery people who read all the way to the bottom of a post that is all about fiber, Disney notwithstanding, Sleeping Beauty did not prick her finger on a spindle. She pricked her finger on the Distaff (the tall upright thingie, to which linen fibers are tied, for spinning).