Month: June 2011

mittens and knives

i am almost done with the first newfoundland mitten. i messed up the top shaping  but i’m not going to rip it out. the shaping is fairly easy. i think that the issue is that the shaping is too easy and i didn’t notice that the stitch marker had fallen out last night. i can’t bear the thought of ripping out all of those thrums. i’m not knitting these as a gift, for judging, or as a show of any sort of great knitting prowness so i’m just going to leave them alone. (i come from the school of thought that unless the mistake is going to bother me forever, like a miscrossed cable, or is going to effect the functioning of the garment i’m going to leave it alone).

i have fairly short fingers so i ended up finishing the body of the mitten an inch shorter than the pattern, and once the shaping starts getting really tight i’ll stop with the thrums.

knife edge

there is a subgenre of horror that i sometimes think of as ‘when bad things happen to pretty people.’

this is quite definitely one of those films. the movie follows a very well established, almost trope, formula-high power family decides to move to the country and start anew (there’s even an announcement of a new pregnancy!) and then all hell, almost literally, breaks loose.

the movie relies quite heavily on pre-established tropes and conventions as i’ve already stated. however, the heavy gothic atmosphere isn’t all together overused in modern horror- i’d rather have a turn of the screw style movie than another scream/i know what you did last summer/slasher flick. the movie does brood a lot, but in the end it seems to distract from the overall effect. for me, the characters came across as slightly spoiled (the brother who is upset because his inheritance isn’t large enough, the fashion photographer husband who wears perfect clothes all the time, etc) and the setting is a little too perfect for me to be able to really connect with the film in any meaningful way.

in short, the storyline doesn’t give me a reason to care about all the horrible things that are going on.

lastly, the movie gives you everything you need to know about the storyline in a 5 minute sequence near the beginning of the film, and not even subtly. one of the characters (the stereotypical mysterious nanny) flat out tells you the main plot twist, and the brother gives away the second main twist. however, there are some decent shout outs to classic horror and thriller directors that hickrox does pull off fairly well- there’s a scene straight of the birds and the train scenes are very, very hitchcock as well.

i think that this is a movie where i could have looked past the formula if the characters were slightly more flawed. this film isn’t a sibling to the others, but it’s a fairly close cousin in that it relies on a female main character in a massive house who’s perceiving something, but it’s not what she thinks she’s seeing. the others relies on perfectly pretty people as well, but the difference here is that the others depends on characters who are truly flawed and therefore are relatable, while knife edge relies on a character list that’s perfect even in their flaws and therefore are hard to connect with.

Vacation Day

Today wasn’t what i would call a rare vacation. today however was a day off for no reason, and those are the type of days that i like to take for myself because they come around so rarely.

i had a dentist appointment this morning, and surprisingly it went well. i have really bad teeth genetically speaking (one of my first memories is having a meltdown at a base dental office). i’ve been cleared until my next cleaning in january.

my appointment was a lot earlier than i thought it was though, and i’m not sure why i have the entire day. i’m not complaining though, i must have thought the appointment would take longer. and to be fair, my gums were bothering me afterwards. i went to mid’s company fourth of july picnic and then spent the afternoon doing things that i wanted to do.

i’m working on my faux gradient project. i plied up the first skein. this is a lot sooner than when i was thinking of starting this project but i want to try solar dyeing at sirius this year which means i need to have at least a skein finished ahead of time so i can get it set out as soon as possible when i get there.

fiber crafts in summer means…horror movies. so far today there’s been two.

elvira mistress of the dark

…i’m fairly certain that’s the full title anyway. it’s a campy, wonderful, horrible little movie.  it’s definitely not a serious film but it doesn’t try to be either. the humor is low brow, the effects are stupid, and it all just works. i don’t think that it’s a classic film by any means but it’s a fun movie by a horror icon in her own right. it’s one of those movies that is best watched when you don’t want to have to think in all the best ways.


i think that children of the corn is worth watching only because of its place as at least a minor cultural icon (i mean, who hasn’t spoofed it?). i obviously disliked fingerprints intensely. however, a good number of my favorite films do involve children as a plot element or central symbol- the omen, the orphage, the remaking the haunting of hill house (okay that one’s a tentative favorite). fragile is the story of an american nurse in britian who begins work at a children’s hospital that’s slated for closure, and the effects of that closure.

i think that fragile holds a weird middle ground between ‘good movie’ and ‘why did i waste my time on this’. the thing is, fragile is not a bad film. if you’re not paying attention to it. it’s a good filler, in the background type movie. the effects aren’t bad. the storyline is passable, and actually the ending has a lot of potential- the lead up isn’t bad and the ending isn’t one that’s so overused that it’s trite (the caller is in the house!!!!1!).  it just falls flat. the villian/monster has a great lead up and then just looks clunky. the dialouge starts out fairly strong and then just goes flat and predictable. once the main twist is provided everything else is really transparent and obvious. there’s a couple of scares that border on the silly.

that being said i did actually watch fragile twice in the past week, because the first time i had put it on and only started really paying attention when the climax became apparent. i think that the movie would be good for a marathon or halloween party, but i’m not sure it holds up so well in repeat, even if the only thing i really watched in the film was a half an hour stretch near the end.

resolution check in

– knit 10 items off of my queu

heh. i’m up to 600 items on my queu now but i have cast on for two projects off of that list- the newfoundland thrummed mittens and a pair of socks for mid.

-finish processing and spinning one of the two fleeces.

almost there. i think that i’ll have this completed by the end of my vacation next month.

-learn how to wheel spin

-clear out one bin of yarn.

mailings through holiday wishes counts towards this goal

accomplished 1/1/2011

-the chili boy challenge

mid is referred to as chili boy on ravelry, and he has requested 11 pairs of socks. that’s not that much if you think about it from the perspective that it’s 1 pair of socks a month.

2/11 completed.

i have fallen so pitifully behind on this one but life got in the way, and then the siren song of handspinning and shawls…

– knit 6 charity projects

…i got the yarn out for one? no i really do need to get going on this. my mitten obsession should help.

– knit a project a month for myself


i’m behind on this one but not as behind as i should be for where i am in terms of my other projects.

– fill my trade page

– improve my spinning

actually…for the most vague of the resolutions this is actually the one that’s turning out to be the most visible. i’m getting much more yardage out of my fiber. i’m getting much more yardage, much faster. i’m spinning enough to get actual projects now. i’m not wasting as much fiber and i’m learning fiber. i worked with some of the fiber i spun last summer today and it was almost painful how overtwisted my chain plying was. now most of my skeins are close to balanced if not already there after a soak with no thwacking or other finishing. i’m getting much much more aware of wpi and project planning.


i finished clarity last night. i’m happy with how it turned out, though it does need some finishing work-you can see the ends hanging down in the photo and it’s going to need to be washed and then a soft blocking. i’m debating on when i want to do that though because the event i’m going to be using it for is going to be in the middle of a field with a lot of woodsmoke and other outdoorsy type things which means that i’m going to have to rewash it when it gets home anyway. and i’m lazy.

the camera totally ruins the colors on this, but the only clear photos my camera wants to take are on the auto setting and since i’m impatient and grabbed photos last night, it wanted to use the flash. i have a feeling though that it’s going to be one of those hard to capture colorways.

i don’t have the yarn specs because i didn’t really keep track of them. this is the end result of the recycled wool project i was working on- the one where i collected all the bits of wool left over from projects, spun them into a really rough/rustic yarn and then overdyed them all shades of purple. i know i used roughly 10 skeins but i have no idea how many yards that works out to be. it’s a basic neck down shawl pattern like i use for all of my multicolored shawls.


After the run around with trying to figure out the location of knit in public day (maybe i’ll tell that story someday) i decided to be kind to myself and start anothe spinning project. i have a relatively short attention span and need a lot of projects to rotate through or i’ll never finish anything.

i’m starting to come up on the end of the grey fleece but i have all of the brown one that i haven’t touched. i’ve been intrigued with the idea of marling for awhile now so i decided that i would spin a gray/brown natural marl for a pair of mittens.

this project is a practice in skills. first, i actually took the time to plan out what size yarn i want to end up with. i want to get a worsted weight wool with a wpi of 10 to 12. following a suggestion that i read somewhere that a single should be the wpi of your target wpi multiplied by the number of plies, i’m aiming for a single wpi of 20 to 24 (2 x 12 and 2 x 10). so i’m actually measuring the singles as i go along.

second i’m trying to work on twist. i have a default twist that i work at that tends to be fairly high and want this to be a fairly squishy yarn. i’m getting better at low twist but not under twist, though the singles keep wanting to drift on me. these fleeces have done that traditionally though.

the brown wool spins up at a really pretty milk chocolate color though i was hoping for a wider variance in color so i could try to overdye it. it is coming out nicer than i thought it would.

level 1- limbo/sunset




100% alpaca from red creek farms spun 3 ply into a sportweight yarn, with approx. 104 yards. this brings my inferno total to 268 yards.

this was a kit with 3 batts, and came prenamed. i liked the name so i kept it. i think that it fits the level. i had some problems with the plying but i thought that the actual spinning went smoother than i was expecting.

the pictures are crappy because the weather has been weird here (which led to some angst with knit in public day but i digress…)

level 3- gluttony (psychopomp)

After the first skein of smoke rings and finishing sunset (level 1-limbo) i have a total of 506 yards spun for june. even though it’s only a third of the way through the month.

i pulled out a solid red roving out of my stash and weighed it. it’s just under 2 ounces and it must be another swap roving because i don’t buy solids as a general rule. after consulting the oracle ( i decided to split and spin this into a basic chain ply and then ply the other half with another yarn.


According to Thomas Aquinas, gluttony is not the sin of overeating. it is the sin of desiring something so much that you begin to ignore logic, morals, and other social limitations in the pursuit of the object of your desire. it’s come to be most commonly associated with food but at the time of the development of the deadly sins the object of desire could be anything.

the myth of persephone and hades is fairly well known: hades spied persephone and entourage frolicking picking flowers in a field and desired her. he rose out of hell and kidnapped persephone, leaving a trail of flowers (or so some versions go). demeter, persephone’s mother, finds the trail into hell and mourns bitterly. she mourns so intensely that she refused to allow crops to grow. meanwhile, persephone is told that as long as she consumes nothing in hell she’ll be able to go free. persephone ends up eating a handful of pomegranate seeds and becomes bound to hell. however, through the interjection of the gods an agreement is struck so that she only has to spend half the year with hades in hell- the creation of winter (the time that demeter mourns the loss of her daughter again). (for the record there’s some debate about exactly what that fruit is supposed to symbolize…)

one of the most frequently overlooked aspects of this story is that persephone wasn’t alone in hell with hades while this was occuring. hecate (or hekate) acted as psychopomp- a guide into the underworld for the newly dead. demeter turned to hecate and begged her to guide her daughter. hecate is a complex goddess because she has so many diverse roles in the pantheon. it’s speculated that she’s not initially a greek goddess and that she may be older than most of the other gods in the pantheon- some sources have her being a titan. she is a faced goddess and watches over transitionary periods and areas- childbirth, death, doorways, crossroads. eventually she gained a reputation as a ‘hag’ and the mother of witches and monsters. while her position in the pantheon was rather dark, she was seen as having a great deal of wisdom and compassion, for which she was greatly respected even if it was with a small amount of fear.

Spinning Basics-Fiber, part 2


Silk is fiber collected from unraveled cocoons of silk worms. Silk fiber is exceptionally strong, and can be spun into a very fine yarn that’s still quite strong. Silk fiber is generally considered one of the strongest spinning fibers available.


Silk naturally comes in several colors- white through shades of brown. The color of natural silk is dependent on what leaves the worms eat prior to spinning their cocoons. Silk also takes dye extremely well.

Some spinners prefer silk blends such as silk and merino or silk and camel. Adding silk to wool can result in a strong, lusterous yarn that has both strength and elasticity. When spun alone silk often needs to be knit with a textured stitch in order to hold its shape- silk naturally has very little elasticity of its own.

Put Up

Top and Sliver- silk run through combs as opposed to carded which results in a worsted style yarn.

Hankies/Bells/Caps- exceptionally thin layers of silk taken straight from the cocoon. Hankies generally come in a stack. You peel off a layer of silk and make a hole in the center of the hankie. You can wind the silk onto a bobbin or just hold the silk mass and spin from the center.

Noils-noils are much shorter fibers that are carded or combed into other fibers to create textured yarns. Silk noil can be spun on its own but it will be a highly textured yarn and it needs enough twist to hold the short staple length together.

Spinning Basics- Fiber, part 1

It’s theoretically possible to spin anything with fibers or filaments.

However, there are fibers that are more common than others. When most people think about spinning, the first thing that comes to mind is wool.


There are dozens of sheep breeds currently being bred around the world. Sheep produce wool, but not all sheep are wool producing breeds. Wool producing breeds, as opposed to meat producing breeds, are breeds that have been created to have the most effective fleeces for spinning and other textile uses.

Wool fleeces vary by staple length. The staple length is the length of one hair. Staple length varies by breed and can range from a couple of inches to close to a foot. Fleeces also vary by micron count. Micron count is the actual width per hair with lower numbers marking a finer fleece. The Bradford count measures a similar idea, with the number marking how many 560 yard hanks of singles can be made from a pound of wool (see here for more information). These counts range both across breeds and within breeds so it’s not uncommon to see a range presented for a breed.

A Sampling of Breeds

Shetland- shetland wool is among what is called the shortwool group of fleeces. It falls in the lower to mid range of staple length. It felts extremely easily (I’ve had it felt on me as I spun it) and can be spun into very fine yarns which makes it good for light lace yarns. The breed is named after the Shetland Islands.

Merino- Merino is one of the softest wools to spin and is among the finest- as well as one of the most popular. The staple length is fairly short to midrange. Many spinners prefer to spin Merino but it can be tricky and the yarn is not always appropriate for high wear items.

Blueface Leicester- Blueface is one of the most popular spinning wools. It is what is refered to as a longwool, with a fairly long staple length. It produces a soft yarn that’s able to take more wear than Merino. BFL is extremely popular and is easily found dyed.

Corriedale- Corriedale is actually on my list of favorite wools to spin. Spinners will often comment that Corriedale is a rough wool to spin, but I find it easier to work with than BFL or Merino and the yarn is just as lofty and soft. It features a medium length staple which makes it a fairly easy spin. It takes dye fairly easily.

(the Halcyon company website or catalouge has a much more in depth discussion of various breeds.)


Natural wool varies in color from breed to breed, and with individual breeds. Wool can range from pure or nearly pure white to black and grey. Fleeces can feature multiple colors- certain fleeces are referred to as lilac meaning they have grey spots. Fleeces from various breeds can also be a range of browns. A breed can have a dominant color, but there can be variations within the breed and within flocks. I have a grey babydoll fleece and a brown one from the same flock.

mitten viewing- the lost tales of babylon 5

not a picture of babylon 5

june’s dye theme is nature. it was initially intended to be nature but not animals, but apparently the theme got extended to all nature. either way, i had a couple of skeins of white sparkle woolease that i wanted to play with. it’s hard to get a decent saturation on acrylic blends, but i thought it would be a challenge. i want(ed) to make mittens in a garden theme, with green woolease as main color and then dye up some of the white for some of the contrast colors (the mittens aren’t going to have a flower theme, just the colors). i wanted to make tonal dyed, creamy pastels. i didn’t really make it. these are much more intense than what the picture makes them look and are much more saturated than i was expecting. it’s not a total loss though since they are much brighter than i thought would be possible with a blend that high in acrylic. colors are listed on the koolaide page of this blog.

i grew up watching babylon 5. it was one of my mom’s favorite shows for awhile. my mom would go through phases where she wanted to watch a show, beginning to end. when tnt played highlander reruns we went through a highlander phase (which led to this amazing nostalgia night a couple of months back with one of my friends) and my dog ended up learning the stargate theme song.

the lost tales: voices in the dark was one of the episodes that stuck out the most in my memory. i do remember bits and pieces of other episodes but this episode (movie? it’s unclear to me if it’s an extended episode or a made for tv movie) (apparently it was the pilot for a show that never got off the ground; it was released to dvd on 2007 and JMS refused to do another after the writers strike due to budgeting issues). the arc in question relates to what happens when people of science and technology are forced to make decisions of faith. (and it was released on television on tnt because my parents didn’t buy this disk so i must have seen it on television).

i find the arc satisfying on two levels: first, i just love a good excorsism/faith based horror arc.  as much as i love babylon 5 i don’t really like space operas and i did enjoy the shout out to movies like the omen and the excorsist (why do i feel like i’m not spelling that right?) second, i almost fell off my chair when i realized that the piece was quoting weber and durkheim almost wor for word- fear drives men to religion, because there is no way of proving that the threats of punishment during the afterlife aren’t true. therefore, we use religion to shape our actions to ensure that we are good people so we gain our reward and society is a better place for it. and yes, we do find comfort in the rites and passages of religious thought.

as it turns out Straczynski actually does hold a BA in sociology so there’s no great surprise that his religious discussion, of which this is only one of several in the series, is handled with a greater depth of analysis than normal. and even without allowing me to get overly excited at hearing social theory in sci fi–which i do intend to use to teach religious theory if i ever get that far–it’s just an enjoyable arc all the way around. Straczynski was unhappy with his effects budget and it does show, but it’s not enough to really distract away from this particular story arc.

the entire arc is on youtube, and the dvd is still in circulation i believe. if not, it’s probably available from places like


(i did finish spinning sunset/level 1. it came out at 104 yards at 14 wpi pre wash but i’m expecting it to bloom).