Inauguration Hat!

I can’t just sit on the couch and watch TV, even when it is Barack Obama being awesome. So I made a hat! I have all this awesome Lion Brand Micro-Fiber sports-weight yarn, and it was just ripe for hatting! I made a skull cap with a shell stitch out of bright green and attached a bright pink flower with some nice 3-D height to it. The pictures have me with no makeup on and sleepy, so I look kind of enh, but I grabbed some pictures:

Green hat is green.
Side view of Green Hat with nice big pink Flower.
Forward look of Greet Hat that is Green with Red Flower.

Now I am debating something new or Gameboy.

Fuzzy Hat Goodness

I finished my first project. It is the same very simple hat pattern I made with my first test hat, but instead I used the Lion Brand Midnight Mohair (Rain Forest) yarn. I learned quickly that the mohair is sort of an intermediate-level yarn and I messed up the start, snipped it off, and started again. I did get the hang of working with it, but at first it was very slow going.

I am pleased with the results! The hat fits correctly, it holds together well, it looks nice and shiny, it’s warm, and it is appropriately hat-like. Thus I have successfully completed a first actual, wearable project and have determined I am reasonably good at this crochet thing. Although at this rate my house will fill with hats as I practice different patterns.

Some pictures:

The hat on me, sideways.
A dramatic picture of the hat on me from above. My eyes are weirdly green in this picture.
My considerably more attractive model shows off the hat.
The look of joy has me suspecting that the model will turn into a nefarious Hat Thief.

Quick note:

Down 29 this morning, about at every mile, signs are posted stating that 29 is closed to buses only on the 20th. I could not get to work if I wanted. Going home, the signs over the Beltway warned of Major Delays all around the Beltway starting this weekend. As much as I am an Obama-maniac like everyone else, he keeps stealing all the parking spots around here.

Hatthulhu

My second hat did not work out.  I am not sure what went wrong.  I used the right yarn, the right sized hook, followed the pattern correctly, etc.  And yet the hat turned into Hatthulhu, the Head Eating Hat of Madness from Beyond Space and Time.  Ia!  Ia!  It is enormous, and floppy, and without body, and it eats heads.

You may witness the horror that is Hatthulhu here for lo, it is horrible to behold.

Bed and Yarn

We bought a new bed. It’s not a spectacular bed or anything, it’s just a bed. But we bought a bed frame, and that is a big deal because we’ve never had an actual bed frame before. Now we can do theoretical things like read in bed. We’re not used to the whole concept of the bed frame.

The mattress is much harder than I am used to. I was absolutely convinced I was not going to be able to sleep on something that hard until I fell asleep 2 seconds later and slept like a stone. The old mattress was pretty soft, and it had broken, so I was used to this thing that went moosh underneath me. For two days, my back complained because all the sudden it didn’t have to constantly support me at night and all the knots, especially in my lower back, came loose in a painful display of pain. I walked around with Icy-Hot patches glued to my back all yesterday as my back readjusted to the new, interesting reality.

I finished a hat. It was in the old crappy yarn, so it feels like an old, crappy hat although I just finished it. Because the yarn has no spring and no give in it, despite following the pattern exactly the hat is way too small. But it is hat-shaped. I took pictures, which I tossed up on Flickr and you can amuse yourself looking at here. Note the use of the highly attractive hat model who would not sit still.

Thus, a small project was completed, I passed my self-imposed barrier, and we went to Michael’s to pick up some yarn. I bought big spools of that Red Heart Super Saver stuff just to noodle with, bought some Lion’s Brand yarn for two real projects, and a set of great big hooks to mess with. I packed up the old crappy 35 year old yarn and put it away. Then I tried to make another hat with the Red Heart, as I was messing around with a pattern, but for reasons unknown it is way too lose, so it looks to be a failure. But! Fuzzy yarn! And thus, I am apparently turning into a junky.

Crochethulhu

I am not doing much else in the evening at the moment, so you are all stuck reading about my adventures in yarn. Listening to techno podcasts and crochet! Oh the woe! The woe!

I’ve started a hat. It actually looks plausibly hat-like. However, it is in the old, terrible yarn which is stringy and falls apart if you look at it too hard and rough on the hands and generally nasty. So it is now a white-ish, plausibly hat-like but not fun to hold hat. I made it about halfway through the pattern last night and generally intend to finish it this evening to see exactly how far my hat-making prowess has come. Then I will take pictures of it and everyone can say, “That? That is a hat.”

All I am really good for right now are lumpy things (square), lumpy things (round) and hats. Katie has claimed anything that looks plausibly useful for dolls as hers and has made off with it all and made demands that I clothe all her dolls entirely in strange looking crochet contraptions. I made Crochethulhu, which started as a round granny square and grew horribly out of control, and she claimed it as a horrible orange hippy crocheted doll skirt that, for reasons not quite clear, had to go on the Daddy doll in her dollhouse.

I have gotten over my Death Yarn Grip problem, so there is something.

I did discover I have a 4 hour cap. After four hours, neither hand can work very well and I get real problems with my left hand. Even if my left hand is merely holding the piece and some yarn, I start getting magnificent shooting pains that never really seem to end. This is, of course, 3:55 longer than I can hold normal crochet needles or yarn needles, so it is an improvement. (And 1:55 longer than I can hold drumsticks for Rock Band or my guitars.)

Eventually I will do something more interesting with my life but for now it’s all sort of yarn-based.

General Life Update

1. On the LJ Kerfluffle:

Nothing on the net lasts forever. We’re often lucky if it lasts a handful of years. Livejournal has been in slow decline for years now, ever since it was bought by Six Apart. It will eventually be gone and there are newer, sexier services on the block called things like “Facebook.” Sadly, it does three things very well which I would prefer not to lose:

1. Aggregated posts as “Friends Lists”
2. A global identity
3. Threaded comments

If WordPress could do #1 and #3 with even a passing attempt at well without having to install complicated plug-ins, then it would have something and no one would need Livejournal anymore. But I haven’t found anything satisfactory in the friend’s list department yet. Once I do, I will try it out, but it needs more searching.

Meanwhile, I believe LJ will go through a very slow decline with increasing database issues, bugs, and users fleeing to better supported services until, much like GreatestJournal, the lights will simply go out one day, or it will limp along like an Internet Zombie.

2. On crochet:

I have made a granny square! And I am making something… round! It started off as learning to read instructions for a round granny thing but it has now overgrown and now it is just round. I have yet to make something really worthwhile. However, this crochet thing is naggingly addictive and, sooner or later, I will follow a pattern to completion and make something. I have stopped holding the yarn in an overly tight death grip, which has helped progress immensely.

3. On books:

Selected Crafty TV Writing as the winner of the pile o’ books sweepstakes.

4. On the Inauguration:

Bizarrely, I have MLK Day as a floating holiday! And it will float one day forward! Because I am not going anywhere near Silver Spring right on top of the Red Line Metro on the 19th or 20th. While I am a Great Fan of the Great Hawaiian Shark God, I don’t want to be anywhere near DC. I’m going to watch it 20 miles away from the comfort of my HDTV.

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2009 Resolutions!

I didn’t do New Year’s Resolutions last year, and that did not turn out as well as planned.  The only thing I really accomplished was getting my CISSP, and then worked drowned me and health really drowned me and I was so uninterested in doing anything else that I basically only read security literature and coasted.  I was essentially sick from March – November.  As years go, 2008 was one I’d rather give a miss.

This year I have several goals I want to accomplish:

1. Writing research, research, research

This is the year of focused reading and heavy note taking.  I have my topics: the occult (Alchemy, Hermetic, Kabbalah), fairy tales (Germanic/British), some Middle English, Joseph Campbell, some high-quality books on writing.  My huge knowledge of history is helpful when overlaid with myth to weave into things.  I have all the tools I need to take the notes and organize them into easily searchable categories.  I also have all the books.  I simply need to do the work and carve out the time to do the work.  I’m tired of procrastinating and saying I will get to it. I have the seeds of several ideas in my head — I need to do the background work and the notetaking work.

Thankfully I also read Katie something fairytale-ish every single night and that is leading mousedroppings of ideas in my head.

This ties neatly in with #2…

2. Spend much more time at the gym.

One of the problems I have with the gym was not allowing myself to just go, get on a bike, ride for 10 miles, and say that was far better than skipping.  No, I had to get to some ideal of pushing myself to lose weight.  And because I was pushing myself I wasn’t going.  Instead, I need to retool the gym and realize that 30 minutes on a reclining bike is 30 minutes of both exercise and reading time.  That is 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading time while burning calories. I simply need to get into the rhythm.

3. Learn to crochet

I want to be able to make simple hats and bags.  I’m not holding myself to some great ideal, but if I can make simple things from patterns, that would be wonderful.  If anything, I can follow instructions.  When I am not reading I want to make something.

4. Spend more time with Katie Rose

Always!  But she has a tiny piano now and I want to spend alot more time playing it with her.  I bought it for her for a reason.  We have a book!  We just need to work on basic things.  We’re already working on a basic scale and she’s fascinated.

5. Focus on my Japanese

I’ve been picking at Japanese for 2 years.  I simply need to make my Japanese language podcasts a priority in my podcast queue, and that is a little change with big payoffs.

6. Back off my online time

It is eating into my research/writing time.  And that is more important to me.

I am putting music aside (for now) to focus on writing research.  Theoretically, I should have enough notes by November to use NaNoWriMo as a way to flesh out the strands of ideas, and then use those strands to start working into real functional manuscripts.  I have no idea if I’m going after novels or if I can find an artist who can draw against scripts or what, but I need to amass notes like a crazy weasel so I have a body to work from.  That’s how I work — from notes to scraps of ideas to fully formed things.

That’s it!  Happy 2009!

Me vs. Crochet

I cannot knit.

This is not some sort of surprise revelation of the Gods or anything.  I have rheumatoid arthritis, and it mostly lives in my left hand.  I can do certain things with my left hand from muscle memory but most everything has to be taught or I need an extensive hack.  It means I can never get very good at fretting a guitar, but I have learned how to do hats with my left hand on Rock Band despite not being able to feel the hits.  Knitting means holding something small and thin in my left hand for hours at a time, and that is right off the table.  Even big fat needles are no good because my left hand needs to do something other than move up and down.

I had taken crochet off the table, too, because of the super skinny needles.  Sure it only needs one hand while the other hand works like a big wooden bobbin — perfect! — but I can’t really hold the skinny needle in my right hand for more than 2-3 hours, max. Then, for Christmas, Eric found this crochet needle set from Provo Craft for little old ladies with hands curled him like THE CLAW.  These work for me.

I generally suck at crafting.  I’m not terrifically good at it. But right now I am surrounded by little swatches of really ugly, lumpy, plausibly crocheted squares and a tiny plausibly crocheted hat because hey, I can do this with my right hand.  I am still working out how to get my left hand to work as a bobbin effectively but I’m vaguely happy because I need to do something that lets me just sit and veg and I despise just sitting and watching TV.

I have 35 year old practice yarn.  It is all the colors of the 70s.  It’s pretty awful.  But.  Practice yarn!  And perhaps I will get good enough to produce something.

I am considering taking a picture of all my little lumpy creations to share.

Also, Rock Band?  Eric bought me a new kick, and now I’ve gone from 100-150 in a row to 700-750.  Problem solved!  My kick pedal was clearly not registering.  Time to move to a harder level.