Saturday, April 26, 2008

Speechless

I googled images of Dr. Teeth (as in Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem) and found a page in the Muppet Wiki all about muppets dressed as animals.

That's right kids, muppets (often animals themselves) dressed up as other animals.

I am absolutely astounded.

Why was I looking for images of Dr. Teeth? Well, HA was telling me about when he went to the Jim Henson Museum and saw Dr. Teeth up close and discovered that Dr. Teeth wears purple sunglasses. This blog post here includes an image where you can see Dr. Teeth's shades.

Ha was telling me this because he had just finished telling me about going to the Emmett Kelly Museum.

This all happened because A) HA grew up in the Midwest, went to college in the Midwest and often went on road trips to go see other parts of the Midwest that were allegedly less boring than than Kirksville, MO, where he went to college. and B) because when one of us (me) is falling back asleep after a couple of hours of being awake, he just keeps talking about stuff until my brain latches onto something and wakes back up.

So really, it's my fault.

But seriously, the muppets, they are dressed as animals. And this has been catalogued in alphabetical order. You have to go see, if for no other reason than to be reminded why you have such love for this thing call the Internets.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Knitting Lessons

On Easter, my 5 year old cousin saw me knitting and told me that when she grew up, she wanted to learn to knit. I told her that she was old enough already and the look on her face--you would've thought I'd told her that I'd arranged a play date for her with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

I didn't have any spare sticks and string with me, but I brought her some from our late grandmother's stash the next time I saw her (on Passover). We have one of those families--just go with it.

Now, I don't see her often enough to give her regularly scheduled help, so the first thing I did was to tell her mom about some online knitting help sites. Because I have no delusions about her ability to remember what I taught her the next day.

Katie did not want to make a scarf or a bookmark. She wanted to make a doll blanket for her American Girl doll. Before her first lesson and she's already a finished object knitter.

So I cast on a bunch of stitches and knit the first row and then taught her the knit stitch using a rhyme I'd found online (and printed so she could refer to it later on). It was slow going, but she was doing it on her own after a couple of dozen stitches. She dropped a bunch of stitches and made a few other mistakes, but my first piece of knitting was such a mess that I frogged it so I could re-use the yarn, so the first knitted item from a 5 year old ain't gonna be perfect. It's also not going to be finished any time soon. After every single stitch, she looked at what she had done and said, "This is going to be the best ever!".

And then she'd do another stitch, and say it again.

"This is going to be the best ever!"

It was so cute I may have ovulated.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Blingo

OK, so this Blingo thing. If you haven't heard of it, it's a search engine sponsored by Publishers Clearing House. If you use it to search, you can win prizes ($5 Amazon gift cards, cash, movie tickets, etc.). I haven't won anything yet, but Wendy of The Bookish Girl (from whom I heard about Blingo) has won prizes.

It's a bit like a pyramid scheme, but it doesn't cost you anything. If you refer a friend, and they win a prize, then you win the same prize too. So that increases your chances. If you haven't tried them out yet, sign up here as my friend.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. It's powered by Ask and Yahoo and MSN search. I find that if I'm looking for something obscure (as I often do for work), then I have to google. But for more basic searches, it gets me the info I need. Let me know what your experience with it is.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Horace

I hate reading a blog post that starts with apologies for infrequent blogging, especially because if I want to hear reasons for busy-ness, then I only have to listen to myself. I have big changes afoot, which I'll discuss in more detail when I have more time. Which will be starting in May because my boss has agreed to let me switch to part time so that I'll be able to dedicate more time to the big changes.

No, I am not knocked up. Actually, I'm doing a bit of a career change to freelance writing. I've sold one story that hasn't run yet (I'll link to it when it does), but nothing else. Of course, working 8 hours a day doesn't really leave much time for writing and sending out submissions and queries. It only took me 12 years of working in technology and trying to write a novel after hours to figure out that there are only so many hours in a day.

So we'll see how that goes.

Cutting down to part time and then freelancing full time (at some point) means that we have to keep an eye on the finances, which we'd been planning on doing a better job of anyway. Every dollar wasted could've been spent on a trip to Norway.

This brings us to a new feature on the blog called The Frugal Crafter!

I made a present for my cousin's son's 1st birthday present. Entirely out of things I already had.

Inspiration: Craft Magazine's Hand-Sewn Free Range Monsters in Volume 6

Supplies, in no particular order):
An old man's shirt. (One of HA's-the cuffs and collar were too frayed to wear)
Cardstock (leftover from the wedding invites--cardboard from a cereal box would have done just as fine)
Double-stick tape
embroidery floss and hoop
rotary cutter and mat (optional, but speed things up tremendously)
needle & thread
Iron & ironing board
scissors
Erasable fabric marker

  1. I cut the sleeves from the shirt and cut off the seams. I had plenty of fabric to make my cuddly monster.
  2. I ironed the fabric, realizing for the first time ever that this might actually be an important thing. (If the fabric had been rumpled, I might not have cut both sides evenly.) I even folded the pieces in half and ironed a crease to make symmetry a bit easier.
  3. I sketched a few monster designs and when I settled on one, I drew on half of it on cardstock.
  4. I cut out the shape.
  5. I stuck the cardstock template to the fabric (folded in half, and stacked) with the double sided tape.
  6. I started to cut the fabric with scissors and then remembered that I own a rotary cutter and that sped things up.
  7. I took one piece of fabric (Horace's face) and drew a face on him  with the erasable marker. Great tool, that.
  8. I stuck Horace in the embroidery hoop and gave him a face with some basic stitches. (I covered all the marking with thread, otherwise this would've been the time to erase it. It magically fades in 2 weeks anyway.)
  9. I re-ironed both sides and ironed them again. Then I pinned the sides together wrong side in.
  10. I sewed it up, leaving a hole in the top of his head for stuffing. At this point, I remembered to take some pictures for the blog.

Isn't he cute?
Then I turned him right side out.


But what to stuff him with? I do have some fiberfill, but it's not machine washable. Horace's new best friend is one years old. He's gonna get drooled on. 

I'd heard about people stuffing toys with old clothes, so I decided to give it a try. I cut up some of the old shirt (cuffs, collar, seams, button bands--I left the large pieces for another project).

This went much more quickly when I re-remembered that I own a rotary cutter. 

The one shirt wasn't enough, but I had saved the sleeves and collars from the t-shirts I used to make the calamari yarn, so I cut up some of that as well. (If you do this, remember to only use fabric lighter in color than the outside fabric, otherwise the color might show through. Though it might actually be kind of cool to do that on purpose. But don't do it accidentally.)

Once Horace was stuffed, I sewed up the hole and gave him yarn hair, following the instructions in the magazine. And there he is.


With any luck, the filling won't disintegrate in the washing machine. The sewing and embroidery took a couple of evening's TV-watching time, which cut into my knitting, but it was fun and a good change for my hands, which do get repetitive motion aches. And I doubt I'd be able to knit a toy as quickly, so there is that.

My yarn closet/craft closet is so stuffed full that I'm afraid to open it most of the time, so I'll be making an effort to use it up/get around to all those projects that I've been meaning to.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More on the Killer Science Thingy

I don't actually think it will happen, but I think it's awesome that someone is standing up to say, "Are you sure? Are you sure, you're sure?"

Today the NY Times printed an interesting essay on the subject that contains possibly the best sentence ever:
Besides, the random nature of quantum physics means that there is always a minuscule, but nonzero, chance of anything occurring, including that the new collider could spit out man-eating dragons.

Because you know what? I bet the science guys would be so psyched if that really happened. They would then be eaten by the man-eating dragons, but instead of dying in fear and terror, they'd be all, "wow, that is so cool! ow."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Harlot Comes to Town

The Yarn Harlot did a talk/signing at Borders in Columbus Circle, so I went.

Did I bring a camera? Didn't even think of it. Bad blogger.

But I did take a couple of shots with my cell phone when she started (the first 60 seconds she was up there, the camera flashes were going like crazy--the woman is a rock star).



I suspected that the first picture might've come out blurry because it was so hard to hold the phone steady so I took another.



Um, yeah, you'll just have to trust me that it was her.

I got to the right part of the store just as she was being led to the stage. I made my way around to the side and sat in the aisles of the kid's section. I was sitting next to a couple where it was clear that the boyfriend didn't care to listen. It was nice that he came to keep her company (because I guess the dozens of knitters weren't company enough), but she tried explaining things to him at a few points. She turned around to tell him that "Joe" was the Harlot's husband and the guy was reading a book. He wasn't even listening to the talk any more.

Do I drag HA along to knitting events? No, reader, I do not. Do you know why? Because he doesn't want to and I love him. Does he drag me to Dr. Who conventions? Well, technically, it wasn't dragging because I agreed to the trip and had a good time. But still! You get my point.

Everyone around me was sitting on the floor and knitting. Did I think to bring my knitting? No, I did not. Bad knitter! But I totally kept eyeing other people's projects. I need to do some knitting of my own now since I'm suffering from knitter's envy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Argh Redux

We finally got our internet access back yesterday. And then I discovered that my printer was broken. 5 weeks after the warranty expired. Tech support was useless. It's a good thing I'm not a cartoon character because I would've reached through the internets to strangle George the Technical Support Agent who sent me troubleshooting suggestions that had no prayer of working, since they would only apply to new printers.

It's a Canon PIXMA. There, I said it. Don't get one. According to a site I found, they may actually have a design flaw that only shows up after about a year or so (post-warranty). Fuckers. If this site is correct, then I have a clogged tube buried in the bowels of my printer. The site gives instructions on how to fix it, but warns that you may end up breaking it irreparably in the process.

HA is inclined to just buy a new one. I'm inclined to go along with him, since I have way too much on my plate right now. But I'm also feeling all I am techie, hear me roar while I refuse to be thwarted by a pathetic little clogged tube. So I may try fixing it. What I like about this guy's instructions is that the list of ingredients includes:

Your sanity-maintaining drink of choice

This reminds me of the Yarn Harlot's steps for steeking. They go something like: reinforce your knitting with a sewing machine, take your scissors and cut your knitting without thinking about how what you're about to do is madness, observe that cutting your knitting didn't make it unravel, drink glass of wine, have some chocolate, then continue.

So really, I think disemboweling my printer would be good practice for steeking.