13 Oct

Desktop publishing, old-style

This morning, in London, 150 copies of a rather unusual newspaper were distributed to commuters. The Manual is “the first hand-made newspaper in the UK”–a four page paper, entirely drawn and written by hand, then silk-screened in a numbered, limited edition. The intent, say the publishers, is to “show that handmade qualities can transform newspapers from ‘junk’ to collectable,” and to demonstrate the power and value of the tactile qualities of ink and paper. They hope to find sponsorship to continue to publish, but if not, they say they’ve enjoyed it as a one-time experience. It sounds wonderful, and I wish I could see the complete paper.

(Via The Guardian.)

09 Oct

I intend to be wearing this before Thanksgiving

I haven’t posted much about knitting lately. Mostly that is because I just haven’t gotten much knitting done, what with summer and real-life things interfering with the knitting time. But I am working on a couple of things. No new patterns just yet — I have some ideas percolating, but nothing ready to talk about or even swatch up yet.

The two newest projects I’m working on are the Lace Ribbon Scarf from Knitty (maybe half done) and the Rogue Hooded Pullover from The Girl from Auntie. (Pictured here, just beginning.)

The scarf was supposed to be my airplane and train knitting for the UK trip, but I didn’t get very much done. It’s a very easy pattern, though, and very portable. I have it memorized now, so if I need to take knitting somewhere, I can just grab that.

Rogue is another story. It’s also easy (so far), but it’s a 19 page pattern, and there are charts to follow, and so this will be “at home” knitting for now. It’s going to be really cool when done. And warm too, I hope. It has Celtic cables on the sides, around the hood, and around the neckline. And I intend to finish it before Thanksgiving. Let’s see if I can manage it. It’s actually relatively quick so far.

One more knitting tidbit, and it’s sort of goofy. Jason and I went out to dinner with his parents for his birthday on Monday. On the way home, I had this sudden urge to stop at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. It’s a bookstore, right? Why not?

So we stopped there right around 7pm. As we walked in, I saw that there was a group of people in the back around the stage, and someone was introducing an author. “Hmm,” I thought, “it would be funny if it was a knitting author.”

And then the woman introduced… Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot! My jaw just about dropped off my face. I guess I haven’t been keeping up with things as I should, or I would have known she was going to be here!

Because I was with Jason, who really didn’t want to spend all night there, I didn’t sit down and listen to the reading, or get an autograph. I did listen to a bit from the back, though. In Stephanie’s post about the Seattle reading she has a couple of audience pics, and if the picture was larger, you would see me standing up in the back of the room.

It’s funny, because in England (and in Germany and Austria last year!) I managed to stumble on a couple of yarn stores completely accidentally (“Let’s turn down this street — I bet it will be interesting. Oh, look, another yarn store!”), and I was telling Jason that I have an inner yarn sensor. And then this Monday my sensor led me to a book reading by a knitting celeb!

06 Oct

70s kids, check this out

Photo by Waffle Whiffer.

While browsing Flickr this weekend, I stumbled on an amazing photostream with lots of great pop culture stuff, particularly packaging and advertising characters from the 1960s-1980s. If you grew up in that era as I did, you’ll see a lot of familiar stuff in Waffle Whiffer’s great photostream. Look and reminisce. The photo here is just one example of the fun stuff found there: a late 70s Kool-Aid package with the classic Kool-Aid design, before the envelopes got busy and over-designed. I didn’t even like Kool-Aid that much as a kid, and yet the envelope always made it look so good! Heyyyyyy Kool-Aid!

06 Oct

London’s electric cars

(Last month Jason and I spent two weeks in England. I’ll be posting a series of entries about the trip, with photos, over the next few weeks.)

Our UK adventure began in London, where I was attending a symposium. We stayed there for eight days, in the Fitzrovia area. Instead of a hotel, we stayed in one of the residences for University College London, Astor College. So, basically, we stayed in a dorm, which was a bit strange. We had a little fridge in our room, but had to share a bathroom. It was inexpensive by London standards, at least.

Astor College is well-located; we could easily walk to the British Library, the British Museum, and quite a few other attractions, and down Charlotte Street, just a few minutes from the residence, there were a ton of interesting restaurants. There were several Tube stations within easy walking distance as well.

One of the things I noticed quickly was that there were no SUVs in London. I think we saw one all week; it belonged to the university and was parked. I did not see a single one driving.

We did see a lot of Smart cars and various electric cars, which would be pretty useful in London traffic. (Apparently the electric cars are exempt from London’s congestion charge, too.) The cars pictured here were parked a couple of blocks away from Astor College, and there were actually 5 of them on the block at the time we took this picture — three parked, and two driving down the street! I think they are probably Reva G-Wiz cars.

Though little cars like this would be useful in London, really, cars were not too necessary. The tube lines cover most of the area, and the “black cabs” are everywhere as well. It is very easy to get around there, and I can easily imagine living there without a car. (However, there are some access problems if you are mobility impaired. It is not a very accessible city. Lots of stairs.) People seem to walk everywhere.

Something else I noticed that might be related to that: very few overweight people. There were some. Some were clearly tourists, some were not. But in general, the percentage of overweight people walking the streets of London was lower than the percentage of overweight people seen on the streets or in the malls of Seattle. I read earlier today (and now I can’t find the URL or I’d link it) that the UK has the highest national level of obesity — after America. (Where does Canada fit in, I wonder?) But even so, the population seemed noticeably more fit. Of course, we were in one of the most walkable cities in the world. The story might be different in other areas, where people need to rely more on their cars. Though we did notice that even suburbs were more dense and compact and less-strictly zoned than American suburbs, making them far more pedestrian-friendly.

29 Sep

Homemade cheese is tasty

Photo by dfinnecy.

When I was a kid in the 70s, we had milk delivered by a milkman. We had a little white wooden Vitamilk box on the porch, and every few days the milkman would put a couple of bottles of milk in the box. To me, it seemed like magic. After a while, they stopped using glass bottles, and then they stopped delivering milk at all. Like much of the rest of America, we had to start buying our milk at the grocery store. This was a sad thing.

A few years ago, I was surprised to see that milk delivery still existed in the Seattle area. I contacted a local dairy to inquire about service. “Sorry,” they said, “we don’t deliver to Beacon Hill.” I was disappointed.

This year, though, I browsed around to the Smith Brothers Farms website and discovered that now they do deliver to Beacon Hill. Joy! I signed us up for regular delivery.

A week later, the milkman showed up and dropped off our delivery box with our first delivery. Like my childhood Vitamilk box, it is white. The milk inside, sadly, is not in glass bottles, but in cardboard cartons. But it is fresh and tasty.

The one problem, however, is that there is a minimum order of two half-gallons per week. We don’t always drink that much in a week; usually we have up to half a carton left over. I don’t want to be wasteful, so tonight I went looking for ways to make use of extra milk.

I found this. Homemade soft cheese (basically the same as paneer), made from milk and lemon juice. I took the leftover milk, heated it to 190F, added lemon juice, and was amazed to see that, yes, it works, and it tastes really, really good!

We ate some of the cheese in our dinner tacos (with pico de gallo), and will probably snack on the rest. It’s darned good, and I should have no trouble using up every drop of milk the milkman brings us from now on.

Next experiment: homemade yogurt!

(The photo here is not my cheese, but it looks just like the cheese I made. Thanks to dfinnecy on Flickr for making this photo available in Creative Commons.)

25 Sep

No more “friend of the family”

So, Washington Mutual is dead. (I suppose I am continuing a theme here.) I went looking on YouTube for one of the really, really old WaMu commercials I remember from childhood, the ones with the kindly banker saying “Washington Mutual. The friend of the family.” Unfortunately, that seems to be one of the few things YouTube doesn’t have.

But they do have this cringe-inducing commercial, in which we see both one of the reasons they failed, and some of the pain that this failure is about to put a lot of people through:

And then… then, there’s this one:

Um… yeah.

I wonder if WaMu was the last remaining local bank from my childhood. Seafirst, Rainier, Peoples Bank — all absorbed by larger entities. (There is another bank using the Peoples name now. Peoples Bank in the Seattle area is now U.S. Bank.) Of course, some of the old credit unions are still around. But all the local banks — gone.

25 Sep

I understand the feeling.

Hi all. I’m back. I took the summer off, and a well-needed break it was.

I upgraded WordPress while I was offline, and it’s doing some weird stuff. My categories are gone and it’s ignoring some of my formatting. But I guess I’ll ignore it for now.

I’ll restart the blogging with a tidbit I noticed in last Sunday’s Seattle Times obituary section.

The Mariners have a lot to answer for this summer.

04 Jun

Not stained glass, but reflector art

Reflector art on new light rail line

Not a lot of posts lately — sorry. I’m kind of overwhelmed with stuff lately. Anyway.

This is art along the new light rail line on MLK Way in SE Seattle. It’s all reflectors. It’s by the same artist who did the reflector art that used to be on the side of the Henry Art Gallery. I loved that installation and I love this one too. It lights up so nicely as you drive by.

I was just driving down MLK tonight and happened to have a camera with me, so I pulled over, and propped the camera up on the dashboard, and took the picture with a 10 second delay, so that any wobble would hopefully die down before the shutter opened. It worked well enough to get these pics. Not ideal (I couldn’t really position the camera at the angle I wanted), but better than nothing.

The light here is what was reflected from my headlights (I was parked at an angle, not really pointing at the reflectors) and perhaps a little bit from the nearby streetlights, but it doesn’t take much to get the reflectors to glow.

Someday I’ll get out there with a tripod and try some more interesting shots, maybe with some light painting as well.

23 May

Pattern: Melusine lace scarf

Finished: Melusine Scarf

This beaded lace scarf pattern is knitted with light fingering weight yarn and 6/0 seed beads. The lace pattern is relatively simple, and this scarf can be knit very quickly. The entire scarf is knitted in one direction; no grafting necessary!

The pattern contains both stitch-by-stitch written instructions and charts, so you can use whichever type of instruction you prefer.

(Etsy and craft-fair sellers: This pattern may be used to knit up to 20 scarves for sale. If you wish to sell more than 20 of them, please contact me for licensing terms.)

Materials needed:

200-240 yards of light fingering weight yarn. The yarn called for is Brooklyn Handspun Signature superwash merino. I used roughly half a skein.

US6/4.0mm needles.

25g of 6/0 glass seed beads.

Not vital for this project; I suggest starting to knit the first part, then doing a partial blocking. If you like the look and drape of the lace, go ahead with it.

Intermediate knitting; this is a relatively easy lace, and the lace stitches are only on one side of the fabric.

You can purchase this pattern for $5.50 via this link:

Here are some more pictures (click to see a larger version at Flickr):

Finished: Melusine ScarfFinished: Melusine ScarfFinished: Melusine ScarfFinished: Melusine Scarf

06 May

Finished: Melusine Scarf

It’s done!

The Melusine scarf is done! Here it is. I would like to get some better pics when I get a chance.

The pattern is coming soon! If you like this and want to knit it, keep your eye right here; I’ll be posting about it when the pattern is done.

Tech specs:

  • Brooklyn Handspun Signature fingering yarn, about half a skein (240 yards)
  • US 6 needles
  • 24 grams size 6/0 seed beads (I didn’t need all of them), and three larger beads for the tassels

Scarf was 54″ long pre-blocking, and it is 72″ long x 5.5″ wide now.

I am very happy with the way it turned out!

27 Apr

Finished: Medieval pouch again

Here’s my second medieval pouch. This took a while because I haven’t been working on it very often. I got the majority of it done while I was at the Legislative District caucuses a few weeks ago (for 14 hours… don’t get me started on that. I didn’t knit the whole time I was there or I might have actually finished it all that day!).

Technical specs:
Green and grey yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers
Blue yarn: Vintage 1970s Brunswick Germantown from Goodwill
Needles: US 6, 16″ circular
Cord and tassels: DMC perle cotton. Cords are twisted plied cord because I haven’t yet gotten around to learning fingerloop braiding.

Chart: Refined version of my own earlier chart, based on motifs from period knitting in Rutt’s History of Hand Knitting, and also inspired by charts created by Dame Christian de Holacombe, found here. I used Excel to draw out the chart.

I encourage anyone interested in a project like this to try it. It is very easy. It looks much harder to knit one of these than it really is.

Now, no more pouches for a while, I hope.

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