Month: July 2011

Tour de Fleece update- through July 9th

my scrap/recycled wool project, now dubbed ripley. i finished the singles for this batch on the morning of the 5th. as of that morning, i had half of the singles left to ply. (i’m using my blackberry for the pics, which explains both the clearer images because it doesn’t shake as much but the fuzzier photos). the yarn lightens up a lot when plied with white wool.

i got all of the ply balls that i have made for ripley so far spun on the 6th (the bottom two photos). i’ll weigh and solar dye it at sirius next week.

i started, well continued, a project i’m calling iris on the morning of the 5th (it was laundry day). it’s a unmarked purple wool batt that i got at rhinebeck circa 2005. i had about 2/3 of it spun up already into these lovely slightly thick and thin singles. i overdyed half of the singles with a darker purple and the other half with blue. i’m going to ply them into a 3 ply once i finish this set. it’s a really fast spin and it turns out into a lovely subtly multicolored single with a soft luster. i’m spinning with a modified long draw and semi woolen like normal.

okay i should say that i hate merino. at least this braid. the color is beautiful and i think i’m going to like the end result (i’m fractal spinning, split half the braid and put aside to be plied with a solid red, then split the remaining half into half again, then one of the quarters into smaller strips so i get a ply with long repeats and a ply with short repeats. i’ve wanted to try it since i saw it on hello yarn) but the spinning is make me want to pull my hair out. i have to constantly pay attention to it and i’m not getting an even single. though it’s vaguely thick and thin in a uniform way so it’s not too horribly outrageous…i think i’m the only spinner who doesn’t like merino. if this wasn’t for a much larger (and more expensive) project i would just say the hell with it- pun slightly intended since it’s going into my inferno shawl.

danse macabre

i was always an odd child.

one year at christmas my uncle asked my mom what kinds of books do i read, he wanted to try out amazon (yes, there was a time when the internet was a new and shiny thing, and i remember what life was like without it. the horror of it all…). he was expecting to be told chick lit or something else fluffy.

she told him, in  this order: books on the black death, the spanish flu pandemic, ebola, and knitting.

to his credit i did end up with books on the spanish flu and knitting.

black death

i was really excited to see black death reviewed on kindertrauma recently. i put this movie on my instant queu but didn’t have much hope for it. disease driven storylines are really hit or miss in my opinion. it’s hard to get a good balance between medicine (or history) and creepiness without it feeling like sitting through high school biology or campiness. but kindertrauma gave it good reviews.

i think that personally i would put this closer to gothic horror and poe than some of the newer, effects driven films. most of the fear and atmosphere of this film comes from characterization- these are people who are being driven by their fear of an enemy that can’t be controlled. they literally have no (known) way of combating this-though as a historical aside it’s theorized that at least a couple of people caught onto the idea of hygeine as a preventative technique.

the movie sometimes looks more like a video game (i sometimes expect to see acid spitters) and the dialouge sometimes slips into faux philosphy (‘when under stress…men become savages’, or something to that effect) (and it starts to fall into the, everyone’s always been as clean and well fed as we are trap) but there are some legitimately creepy scenes, though they’re fleeting. there’s a scene involving self-flagellating monks in the river that i should have expected because it’s such a historical cliche, but it’s still effective. most of the creepiness does come from the overarching desperation the comes from never knowing if you’re infected or not. this is much more the masque of the red death than 28 days later.

besides, the movie starts with glimpses of beak doctors (if my eyes aren’t failing me) which makes everything better.

so what if they weren’t developed until 300 years after the film was set?

but they seem to like historically inaccurate vaguely plague related plot points in this film, which should bother me but doesn’t. i think because in the end, NO ONE is made out to be the hero- everyone is just as scared and screwed up as everyone else–that, and the whole witch = villian thing actually is historically accurate for the time period. do i like it? not really but i can’t really blame them for getting at least one historical detail correct.

(today’s projects were ripley and psychopomp)

get it right, and get it right NOW.

my real name (the name on my driver’s license, not fluffy shaw) isn’t that bad. it’s not terrible, and i like my namesake. i can think of worse things to be named after. i like the history behind my last name. i like my name all right.

there are, however, two major flaws with my name. the first is that in a city of polish and german americans, there are THOUSANDS of women with my given name. i’ve been known to ignore people because it doesn’t occur to me that i’m the fluffy that they’re trying to summon. the second is that while my last name isn’t that complicated, no one ever seems to spell it correctly.

including my own family.

so i’m just going to start telling people who request a name for a pick up to call me ripley. (this is actually a post that echoes a parallel conversation that i had in real life a couple of weeks back. i consider this to be fate).

i don’t want to say that i have a lot of problems, but i am definitely a flawed creature (no, i don’t count my name on that list of flaws). part of the reason that i’ve been so scattered with blog entries and obsessing on horror movies is a history of moderate anxiety issues, and a history of being overly senstive to chemicals so medication is always hit or miss. i do however have a long history of behavioral therapy (again, no guilt). i’ve been working on self comforting techniques to get through some rather rough weeks– i’m getting sick of waking up at night terrified that i’m going to miss rent or the car payment, when the fact of the matter is that money is tight but we’re heading up out of debt not down deeper into it.  so it’s a lot of mantras to remind myself that i’m in control, not the panic and working through the here and now (and sometimes literally NOW, what do i need to do NOW, what do i need to in this hour, what do i need to do immediately next) and not worrying about tomorrow or a week from now or a year from now. people have made some well meaning but ultimately ill advised comments that have not helped an already rocky situation, and now i’m getting myself back on my feet, one bad horror movie and one spreadsheet at a time.

it’s not as melodramatic as that makes it sound, but it has been a little weird around here lately. and i think mid is ready to ship me off to sleep away came if only to get away from my paranoia.

food challenge

i don’t know if i’ve ever mentioned this.

i’ve been following the non-consumer advocate’s food stamp challenge for awhile now. the idea is that you spend roughly what you would get for a food stamp alotment per person in the household per month as your grocery budget. she uses a $101 per person per month allotment. i’ve been working off of that budget for a couple of months now (so $200 for mid and myself).

i generally come in at about $20 under budget each month, since mid and i don’t eat as much meat anymore and i do the majority of my shopping at price rite since it’s easiest for me to get to…and price rite accepts credit cards which aldis doesn’t.

i feel sort of…weird admiting that i charge my groceries since i wrote a rather controversial (though i still don’t understand why) blog post on livejournal about my five year savings plan. but one of my goals for 2011 is less guilt. i do what i have to do, and sometimes that’s admitting i FUBARed my budget, charging my groceries then paying it off later this month and getting on with the rest of my life.

(pro tip: i discovered that my bank accepts payments to my credit card over the phone and it posts for the day of payment relatively fast. their online system recently hit me for a late payment…when i paid 4 days before the due date. if you’re strapped for time, try a phone payment).

anyway, the original challenge suggests taking the extra money and donating it towards a food bank or other community food program. i do that routinely anyway out of theological/spiritual concerns and i just roll the extra money into my budget for the next month. i had been including our date night food trips into the budget, but i took those out and i take my work lunchs out of my weekly allowance when i eat out for those.


death makes a holiday

it’s two days into the tour de fleece and i’m already behind. we went to camp this weekend and i was hoping for at least a slightly relaxing weekend where i would get a jumpstart on my spinning.

as with most of my plans the gods pointed at me and laughed, and i dealt with cleaning and interpersonal misadventures instead. my spinning never even made it out of the car.

oh well.

i did read a book, actually a book that’s been on my to-read list for several years. i really love books on specific cultural topics- things like books on just coffee, or just salt (yes, there’s a book on nothing but the history of salt) or holiday rituals and celebrations.

i’ve had my eye on a book called ‘death makes a holiday: a cultural history of halloween’ by david skal for several years now. i found a copy at a yard sale this weekend for .50 and happily dragged it out to camp with me.

the one thing that i found mildy disappointing is that it’s definitely a pop-sociohistory text. there’s very little citation in the text, and there’s some sections that would have been a lot more effective with slightly more data behind it (for example, there was a discussion on the connection between paganism, goth culture, and teenaged drinking surrounding halloween that’s an interesting idea but with no stats to back it up in the text itself it’s hard to ascribe it any validity; from the in-text discussion this connection seems tenuous at best). so it’s a light read and an entertaining one but it’s a jumping off point. it does have a citation list provided so it wouldn’t be that hard to investigate his sources.

however, skal does present a solid discussion on the social factors of various ‘traditional’ halloween images and rites. skal even goes so far as to suggest that certain images are not as traditional as they first may seem (the jack o’ latern may not have had as long a history as a lot of people may assume, and trick or treating is a very recent development though one that has cousins that are much older), and at least partially debunks urban legends surrounding american halloween practices-the fear surrounding contaiminated halloween candy is much, much more hype than reality.

further, for a text that’s light on citation it does spend a fair amount of time dissecting urban legends surrounding halloween. he gives a fair amount of time discussing the history of the urban legend surrounding dangerous candy, going so far as to look at the social forces surrounding the myth (what better way to make yourself feel like a protective parent than to ensure the food safety of what you feed your children?) and more recent developments in the legend such as anthrax scares after 9/11. the book is limited in that it does only look at american history; however, skal points out that a great many of the ‘traditional’ halloween images are uniquely american and does spend a good deal of time building up the history of halloween beyond simply the samhain/celtic beliefs angle.

Tour de Fleece

ah! so i was invited to do the tour de fleece this year. i’m spinning with team bacon cakewaffle (cpaag’s team).

this is going to require a game plan, and a lot of batteries.


solar dye my scrap marl at sirius

finish psychopomp

get half of my natural marl spun, including carding all the wool

finish spinning the purple batts i found while unpacking

get half of my grey shetland spun

start the next level on my inferno shawl

that doesn’t sound like much but i only have 22 days to do it, and some of these are larger projects than others.