Friday, June 29, 2007


In which the rogue knitting comes back to get me.

Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

I finished Askew very quickly. And it was great fun to knit. But I made two crucial errors. I failed to check my gauge, rashly working on the theory that by knitting a size down but with larger needles and and chunkier yarn I would be fine. I also failed to pay attention to the fact that the pattern very clearly states that the sizing is very snug. And it is. So I am glad I knit my first attempt in cheaper yarn. It is not a total loss (besides having been fun to knit anyway). Since the SWS yarn felts really well, I think I'll sew up the bottom, and make a cute bag.
Pattern: Askew
Needles: Clover circular 8's
Yarn: Patons SWS in Natural Pink and Natural Geranium

Books: Verklempt!

Or something. Over at the website for the Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, they offered up copies to folks who promised to read and then blog about it. What with that being right up my alley, and having had this book on my radar for quite some time, I volunteered. And I had a wonderful surprise in my mailbox today. I am in the middle of Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses but should have that wrapped up shortly so by Tuesday (if not sooner) I should have my thoughts for you on this collaboration.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Okay, I have a cat. I am fortunate in that she has never disappeared long enough for me to be more than annoyed. There was a time where a bunch of cats disappeared in NW DC - including our neighbor's cat. There were enough for it to make the City Paper. The neighbor's cat was found a month later, miles away. The theory was that it jumped in th back of someone's truck, took a ride, and didn't seem to have enough sense of direction to make it back.
Anyway, over at Yarn-a-go-go, Rachael made me cry at work (I know) a while back with the story of her missing cat. The decision was made to assume that whatever Coyote decided to tangle with Digit got some indigestion for its trouble.
Well, apparently not. Congrats to all.


I joined another swap/along. The Football Along. In part because I am such a joiner, and in part because I am so sports deprived right now. (I'm sorry, I know basketball is hockey without ice and with a gazillion times more scoring, but I just haven't gotten the bug. And baseball takes too long.) And also, part of the reason I started blogging was so I could vent sports thoughts, and while I've fallen down on the job in that front, I think I feel a resurgence.
Go Skins!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What Could it Be?

I got a package in the mail today.
And this is what was inside!

Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

Oh, it is so pretty. Araucania Nature Cotton in luscious green. I will have to come up with something very deserving for this.


Now that I have located my camera, I can share this lovely goody that came for me as a prize winner for the Virtual Vacation Swap.

Originally uploaded by mememe20016

It's a great sea salt scrub!

Salt Scrub
Originally uploaded by mememe20016

How did they know my feet were in desperate need of attention!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Jersey

Now, the Capitals previously had two jerseys - you can see them here. I hated the black one. First of all, black is boring and dark jerseyed teams tend to get more penalties. Second, the font on the player names made them very difficult to read, I could read the opposing teams jerseys better and I didn't know their names. This was less of a problem when the light jersey was the home jersey, but then they changed that. My brother suggested that I could simply learn the numbers of the players but this was the pre-lock out season where I believe the Capitals set a record for the largest roster as they traded players like it was going out of style.
And finally, the dark jersey had the Capitol dome and hockey sticks. And since buildings are not fearsome I thought it was silly and preferred the light jersey with the screaming and diving eagle.
So, I appreciate the lack of dome on the new jersey. And the red is fine. I like the retro colors (retro in the sense that prior jerseys took advantage of this color scheme) and the retro lettering. And the name font looks way better than the previous multi-colored over serifed font that was causing me problems. (Mental note, must get to a game next season.) So, overall, I am pleased but I wish the eagle hadn't been relegated to the shoulders. (I also wish the eagle wasn't red now, but I'll deal.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Books: Soul Song

I mentioned before that I was selected to receive an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) or Marjorie M. Liu's Soul Song - the latest installment of the Dirk & Steele series. I had not yet read any of the Dirk & Steele series, in fact to date, the only Liu I have read was Hunter Kiss, which was part of the Wild Thing anthology.
The letter that accompanied the ARC mentioned that this book is a bit of a departure from the series since the two main characters are not members of the Dirk & Steele agency, although there are some connections.
This story focuses on Kitala and M'Cal. Kitala, the back cover copy states, sees images of people's violent deaths against her will. I found this endlessly amusing since I imagine most people would prefer not to know who was going to die violently, but anyway. Kitala also is a talented violinist. She sees that two audience members at a concert in Vancouver are slated for death and decides to warn them. They believe her, but the warning does not save the man, and Kitala ends up being kidnapped with the woman.
M'Cal is a merman with the ability to use music to steal souls. He is under the control of a with who has sent him to steal Kitala's soul. He arrives to discover he is not the only one after Kitala.
M'Cal and Kitala - two folks with gifts related to music - can you guess what happens? I don't mean to imply that the story is predictable or trite, however. But M'Cal and Kitala do join together to unravel the mystery of why so many people seem to want Kitala dead. Liu does a wonderful job of creating this world where there are all sorts of special people. I think this book worked well as place to start the series since Kitala, while aware that she was special, had done a pretty good job of not looking below the surface two much, so she makes a very good ambassador for those new to this world. (The other books may well work similarly.)
My issues with the story were mostly nitpicks, and some of these may be things that will get corrected for the version published next week. Just in case this will bug you too: there is a fairly interchangeable use of fiddle and violin. and I have to say, I may have gotten a bit distracted, but I didn't quite remember who the big bad was once they were unveiled. Once I stopped and thought about it, it came back to me, and I'm not sure how that could have been fixed. Other than that I found the story eminently enjoyable, and plan to keep an eye out for the rest of the series.
The marketing information on the back mentions that as a paranormal romance it should appeal to fans of romance and fans of sci-fi/fantasy. On sale, July 2nd in North America.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Does This Make Me Elphaba?

You Are A Green Girl

You feel most at home in a world of ideas.

You're curious and logical - and enjoy a good intellectual challenge.

You're super cool, calm, and collected. Very little tries your patience.

Your only fear? People not realizing how smart and able you are!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pretty Light

I believe it is the contrasts that make life memorable, so on the summer solstice (at least in my hemisphere), let us think of the light. Light which helps us all grow (I get very cranky without light), which helps us see and which generally makes things look better. Let us think of the sun, which spends extra time sharing its light with us today, allowing us to better appreciate the lack of school (for most), the warmer weather and hopefully barbecues and time with friends.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Extreme Rules

I get it - raising, having and educating kids is hard. (I don't think it is harder "these days" but I will concede that we face different challenges.) Schools have a tough job, sharing knowledge while not accidentally giving out knowledge that people don't want their kids to have. Having and enforcing rules that help create a safe space for students and teachers, while not going overboard. Teaching kids to develop responsibility without letting them run wild.
Most of you have likely heard of the student in Oregon who garnered national attention after studying the bacteria in the water fountains and comparing it to the toilets. Why was he doing this? It was part of a persuasive speaking assignment for English class. In his middle school, students were banned from bringing in bottled water after some students apparently put alcohol in their water bottles. The problem was that water fountains are nasty. Really. Now, I have thought about alternatives, and other than installing water fountains, I do see the challenge here for administrators.
And, a school in Virginia has decided that since pushing in the hallways often leads to fights, students just shouldn't touch each other. At all. Some parents have asked for a review of the policy after one student was sent to the principal's office in part because he put his arm around his girlfriend.
Now interestingly enough, the administrator's say they specifically wanted hugging off the menu (if you will) after some girls complained that they felt uncomfortable being hugged by some people but were embarrassed to say so.
In my work at youth conferences, (UU youth are a huggy bunch, UU's in general seem to be), we have run into this issue also and struggle with how to approach it. Where is the balance between treating everyone the same and recognizing different comfort levels. If two people walk in the door, and I hug one because it is someone I know, should I hug the other so they don't feel excluded? What if they don't want to be hugged? I could ask, but what if they feel pressured to answer in the affirmative. Now, obviously our ultimate goal here should be to teach these kids to feel comfortable expressing their, um, comfort level, but how do we bridge the gap until then? And at what point have we spent way too much time worrying about it?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dear Folks #12

Dear Bikers,
I understand that Beach Drive is a gorgeous stretch of road that travels right through Rock Creek Park, making it an ideal place to bike. In fact, the Park Service agrees, so in addition to all the bike paths and such, they close the road down to motor traffic on weekends and holidays.
On weekdays, bikers and motor vehicles attempt to co-exist peacefully. And yet, you bikers are not helping. If you are going to bike during rush hour, and choose the road over the bike path - I have a few suggestions. Please, for example be fit enough to travel at a pace greater that seven miles an hour. Yes, I know there are hills and such, but I am assuming you have at some point driven a car and understand how difficult it is to drive a car that slow. Please consider leaving your small children at home. Or taking them to the bike path. And please wear a helmet. And really, if you are not biking your way to work or some appointment, please consider making your leisure trip not during morning rush hour.
Trying to Get to Work

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fun With Anagrams

This is way too much fun. If you type you name in here - the Anagram server will come up with anagrams of your name.

Some favorites that my name spit out:
Yearned Tank
A Naked Entry
A Yanked Rent
A Taken Nerdy
Knead Nae Try
Ranted Ya Ken
Tad Yarn Keen
Take Any Nerd
Earn Tank Dye
A Unladylike Tanker
A Kayaked Tiller Nun
A Natural Keyed Link
A Unaltered Yak Kiln
A Ladylike Rant Nuke
A Nailed Leaky Trunk
A Talkier Lanky Nude
A Reliant Lanky Duke

Thanks to the Cherry who forwarded me this link.

Knitting Updates

My camera is currently AWOL so you will simply have to imagine, but:
I have finished the front of Intoxicating. This pattern is still so much fun - we'll see if I enjoy the back mosaic as much.
I have finished the front of the Diagonal Triangle Tank. The back was making progress but it is also, um, hiding right now.
I was overcome with the idea of making Askew with the Patons SWS since it's variegated but a bit softer than Noro - as much as I love Noro so cast on for that Friday. I promise I did leave the house this weekend, but nonetheless have finished the two front pieces and am working on the back. This pattern is so much fun that I may do it again with the Noro I had stashed for another Knitty project.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pretty Colors

I saw over on Boing Boing, that a highway near St. Louis got a little splash of color when a paint truck sprung a leak as it motored on. It does raise a number of questions for me, along the lines of - is there any way you (as the driver) would know you were leaking? If you did know, since it was non-toxic, would you just keep going? What situations call for a tanker truck full of paint? (If it was a tanker truck.) And is there a clause in the contract for what happens when the truck arrives less than full?
And then, I remembered when I was downtown seeing a block of DC painted pretty colors. Now this was no accident, it was part of the Corcoran's Colorfield Remix project. But still, very cool.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Hidden Compliment

My first long term foray into the crafty world was in beading and other jewelry making. For a while I had a job where I could bead at work. (They soon took care of that for me.) And I talked about beading, and dragged friends along when I spotted a bead shop. But in general, people commented very little about my wearable art. (Unless I gave them some, in which case I was usually thanked appropriately.)
I finally realized that it was not that my pieces were unremarkable or awful looking, it was that it didn't occur to people that I had made what I was wearing. And the same is true with knitting. Certainly I have plenty of machine knit purchased at the mall things. (The manager at the LYS says that if you are wearing a knit item you did not make and someone asks if you made it, the response is, "No, I did not make this. But I could have.") So when I wear something I have made, a lack of response is in fact a compliment. Because it means my piece does not scream: I made this and that's why it's crooked, thank you. My piece is able to pass as something I might have purchased finished. And while I - as a crafter - think that the handmade irregularities design features are what make it special, I also see that being able to pass as store bought is a huge compliment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dear Folks #11

Dear Folks,
As someone who grew up in a residential area where an office building and later law school was placed, I understand the need for residential parking to give people who live busy places a shot a parking near their house.
However, the first final block of Arkansas Avenue was a haven where people visiting friends, or who had not yet gotten their registration changed could park. It is a street theoretically subject to street cleaning, so parkers have to exercise caution about what side they park on Mondays and Tuesdays, but since the whole south side of that block and most of the north side has no houses, it meant folks could park without fear of interfering with residents of that street.
So why, I ask, does the south side now have residential parking signs? The side that has no residents except squirrels, who I feel certain have not demanded humans stop parking in front of their living space? Was there an excess of residential parking signs? Were the signs intended to go on the north side, where the eastern end of the block has housing? Or are you just messing with folks to see what happens?
Just Trying to Park

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

They Made Me Read It

Cribbing from Bookseller Chick, and in the spirit of summer reading (which I know very few have started yet, but nonetheless), I give you books I had to read, that I actually liked.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle.
This led to me reading just about everything L'Engle I could get my hands on. I adored the book from the outset, I think I finished it ahead of schedule and our class called and interviewed Ms. L'Engle herself, who I remember being very lovely.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
I re-read this later, because in elementary school the love story seemed out of the blue to me (I missed some of the nuance). But it is a great story about cultural differences.
The Maude Reed Tale by Norah Lofts
I re-read this one on my own several times. I think it's a great introduction to life in the Middle Ages.
The Odyssey by Homer
I have actually read this three times - once in high school, once in college, and again one summer alongside my brother. Sure, it's a bit drawn out (ten years), but there is great use of themes and other literary devices. It doesn't quite rate fun read status for me, but still a great story.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I actually read this prior to it being assigned (by quite a few years). I'm sure I gleaned more the second time around and while I don't feel a burning need to re-read it now, it is still a great story that touches on a lot of things.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I read Emma the year before and it didn't grab me. (On re-reading I adored Emma so it must have been my mood). As a result I expected to despise P&P and yet, found I really enjoyed it. So witty. So, then I read all the rest of Austen's works.
I am sure that I am missing a few, but these are the top ones I recall.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Foaming Waves Wrap

The Foaming Waves Wrap aka Queen Lili'uokalani Wrap is finished. It had languished a bit since it wasn't a good travelling project and I kept getting distracted by other at home projects, but I went to tea with some friends Sunday and was suddenly inspried by the idea of having it as a great wrap for over air conditioned areas. And it was.

Foaming Waves Wrap Again
Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

I made up the pattern. I cast on about 200 stitches, used the foaming waves stitch from my stitch a day calendar, decided to widen it so started increasing at the edges a bit, then stopped and re-started increasing creating a wavy edge at the side. While at one point I worried that I was going a bit nuts pattern wise with such a vivid colorway, I think it worked. Even with the wideness of knitting this longways there are still pools of color and places of great contrast. This yarn is beautifully painted and I almost think this could just hang on the wall so I could stare at it.

Foaming Waves Wrap
Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

Needles: Denise Interchangeables 10.5
Yarn: Shaefer Laurel Yarn, Lili'uokalani colorway

Foaming Waves
Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Knitter's Virtual Vacation Swap Questionnaire

1. If you could visit any state in the US, which would it be and why?
Well, I have a big whole in that I have not yet made it to the southwest, so maybe New Mexico or Texas.

2. If you could visit any country in the world, other than your own, which would it be and why?
I've been lucky enough to get to quite a few places, but I still have South America on my list - especially Peru.

3. Have you ever driven across several states/providence/countries?
Why yes - since I have family in Connecticut and have also driven to Chicago and to Maine from DC.

4. Have you ever visited someplace you consider exotic? Where was it?
Well, I have been to Hawai'i and China which were both exotic for different reasons.

5. What was your favorite "travel" vacation? Why?
I've had some really great trips, but some of the backpacking ones were great, especially going to Salzburg, Austria and Barcelona, Spain.

6. Have you ever played tourist in your own home city/state (if international, country)? Explain.
Yes. My mother was a big believe that we should go do the touristy things too, so I have been on tourist bus trips in DC, been to the museums, gone up the Washington Monument, climbed the bell tower at the National Cathedral and done embassy tours.

7. Are you a museum visitor, beach comer or an amusement seeker?
I've become a big fan of the walking tour. Museums are fun (and you can't go wrong with a beach) but I really like hanging out in a cafe or sitting someplace and just people watching. Eating is good to.

8. What's your favorite type of yarn?
I like soft yarn (although Noro is lovely, twigs and all). I tend toward chunkier yarns since I prefer mid-size needles (I use my 7-10s the most).

9. What's your least favorite type of yarn?
I am not a big fan of scratchy yarn.

10. What items do you like to knit/crochet?
All sorts of stuff (except socks, but I use sock yarn for other stuff). Right now I seem to be in a sweater/wrap phase but I think I'm going to need to smaller projects to. I knit more, crochet, not so much.

11. What do you pack, knit/crochet wise when you go on vacation?
I pack several projects, plus various notions. I like to have one project that requires not too much attention - good for when there's conversation, or when you have to keep an ear out for flight announcements. Another that's a little more complex for when I'm in the hotel room. And then - depending on the length of the trip I might need more of each.

12. What other crafts do you do/would like to do other than Knit/Crochet?
I have done some jewelry making.

13. Are you allergic to anything? (Yarn wise or treat wise)

14. What is your favorite color? Least Favorite?
I like cool colors - blues, greens and purples, although I can be seduced by a great pink or red. I tend not to be a fan of yellows.

15. Sweet or Savory (Treat not personality)?

16. Anything else we are forgetting to ask that you think your partner desperately needs to know?
I think we're good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I got my invite to Ravelry. So exciting. I am on there as Random Ranter.
If you have somehow missed the buzz, the kind folks over at Ravelry has an idea. What if there was a place fiber folk could go to log their stash, their projects, and their experiences with those projects. What if it let you search to find out what other people had done with such and such yarn or this or that pattern. And so they set about creating it. And they asked some folks to help test it. And then they asked those folks to spread the word. And next thing they new they had about 5000 people on their waiting list - bigger than their wildest dreams. (As Yarn Harlot says, the knitters are a powerful force.) So they are working their butts off getting people invited but it is still in a beta stage. And it is a free site run by two people in their spare time (although it looks awesome). I went on and logged some projects and I think this is going to be so cool.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Swap Me Now

I joined another swap, the Virtual Vacation Swap. And I am so behind, I have already won something (yay!) and I had forgotten to mention it. But yes, I am addicted to swapping, I get to shop guilt free (presents aren't frivolous) and if I happen to find stuff for myself while shopping for other people, well you know.
And since I am still working on figuring out any proper vacations for this year, this is a nice substitute.

Tomato Completed

I have finished Tomato.

Originally uploaded by Random Ranter

I haven't blocked it yet, my gauge widened a bit, so it's a little wide. Not unwearable or anything and I think a wash in hot might take care of it. This yarn is so yummy. I want to make many things with it.
Needles: Denise #7s
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca Organic Cotton in Sage (2 skeins) and Sand(1 skein)
Pattern: Tomato from No Sheep For You
Adjustments: Because my contrast color was less contrasty, I played it up using it on the edges, instead of just for the color-work.

DTT & Intoxicating

I am still working on the Diamond Triangle Tank (DTT). No word on the missing skein and the knitting attached to it, so I think it is officially MIA at this point. Yarn Harlot's lost knitting writes to her but perhaps that is what I get for abandoning my knitting far from a hot spot. The DTT is a great pattern for conference calls or other distracted knitting since it is garter stitch.
I also cast on a few times for Intoxicating from No Sheep For You. I don't think I have ever been so indecisive about color choice before. I got some great yarn from Webs, Valley Yarns Longmeadow in Lettuce, Melon and Dark Purple.

The Lettuce is just yellow enough that it looked a bit psychedelic paired with the purple or a darker orange (Classic Elite Pumpkin I think) that I also paired it with.

So, I made the huge sacrifice of going to LYS, and shopping for more yarn. I ended up with some Cascade Sierra in Coral and a quattro that's got coral and pinks in it.

Intoxicating - Again
Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

And while it still seems a bit 60's to me, it looks like more me now.

Intoxicating - Take Two
Originally uploaded by RandomRanter

Monday, June 04, 2007

Good Ghouls Do

A while ago, I won an ARC for Good Ghouls Do by Julie Kenner. I have not yet read The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even, so I was diving in without a net, so to speak. I found the book really enjoyable.
In the first book, Beth Frasier was unwittingly turned into a vampire by classmates who hoped her geekiness would work in their favor and help her figure out the secret to vampires being able to go around in daylight. (There is much discussion about the additional horrors of trying to be normal in high school when you can't go out in the daylight and you don't want your parents to know.) There is a bit of a love triangle, Beth's boyfriend was recently vampirized himself (by Beth) and Beth isn't sure how much he likes that and there is a very cute college boy who happens to be a slayer.
All in all it was a really enjoyable story. I liked Beth's voice and found it realistically teen like and I enjoyed the story and am intrigued enough to keep my eye out for the rest.

Book Happiness

I was selected as one of the lucky many by Dorchester publishing to receive an ARC of the next installment of Marjorie M. Liu's Dirk and Steele series. I have only read the first of the Hunter Kiss series (which is in Wild Thing an anthology with stories from Maggie Shayne, Meljean Brook and Alyssa Day - which holds the honor of being one of the few anthologies I have ever read where I didn't hate any of the stories.) The Dirk and Steele series has been on my Amazon recommendations for a bit, I just haven't listened yet, but now I will and I promise to share how it goes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Bad Blogger

Sorry for the (relative) quiet. I do have knitting news and and swap news and book news and stuff, but things at work have gotten a bit nuts and I am running out of time. So, hopefully next week I'll get caught up.

For purposes of clarity and such, I just wanted to note that while I often post at work, I usually write other times, but when work is taking up twelve hours of my day I can't think long enough to post coherently.