Monday, June 28, 2004

Last week I heard an NPR report about blogging and I was surprised to learn that some people post to their blogs as much as 12 times a day. Can you imagine? I've been in awe of the knitting bloggers who manage to post more than once or twice a week. Obviously, I'm not much of a blogger, but I suppose 10 days between posts is really pathetic. In my defense, I ask my regular readers (all 5 of you) to understand that summer in northern Michigan is really, really special, and it only lasts a couple of months, and the rest of the year has snow and gray skies and cold, so sitting in the house by the computer is hard at the moment.

But I do remember my promise in the last blog entry to post a photo of the ugliest skein of handspun yarn ever seen on this planet, so here it is:

Well, no, it's not actually in skein form anymore. I wound it into a ball, but it is so ugly that even my cats won't touch it.

However, my spinning skills are progressing rather nicely, I think, and I'm currently spinning up that Romney fleece I bought at the Michigan Fiber Festival last summer. Here is a swatch of it in a 3-ply:

and a single still on the bobbin:

I swatched it in hopes that it would work for the long tunic with detachable hood and backpack from Lavold's Viking Patterns for knitting. The answer is ya! So in 5 years, when I have spun enough of it, I will start knitting.

And that's the end of the spinning/knitting content of today's entry. Now on to the important stuff.

All of my babysitters were unavailable this past weekend, so I haven't yet seen Fahrenheit 9/11. I'm thrilled at its strong box office showing and will be happy to help it have a great second weekend.

In other news, CNN is reporting a mountain lion attack on a hiker in California. This is not an attempt of mine to commecialize this tragedy as I have no vested interest, but I want to recommend my aquaintance Dave Barron's excellent book, The Beast in the Garden. It's an in-depth look at a mountain lion attack near Boulder in which a jogger was killed about 10 years ago. The book reads like a fast-paced, page-turning detective novel, and Dave has a lot to say about the human relationship with the wild. Check out the reviews on amazon, but if possible, always buy books from your local independent bookstore!

Reader's Questions

I hope Joe will not mind if I borrow his style of answering reader questions and comments at the end of the blog entry. This method prevents half of the comments from being mine!

Max, Alain Delon is new to me; I will have to check him out.

Leslie, Colin Firth may be the only man on the planet for whom I would leave my husband AND my children. Not much chance I'll get the opportunity.

Diane, walking is better exercise than biking in my circumstances. Nearly all of my usual destinations are within a mile of my house and are on flat terrain. Biking is so fast and efficient that I barely exert myself. Ivan Illich in his book Energy and Equity described the bicycle as the most efficient form of transportation ever devised in terms of calories/fuel spent per distance traveled. This is great for transportation and makes the bicycle truly one of the seven wonders of sustainability; the more people we can move from cars to bicycles, the better! BUT I'm trying to stay off mine because of its wonderful efficiency. I want to burn a lot of calories and I don't do that with one-mile bike trips on flat paved streets. And I'm not completely parking my bike; I'm still using it when I have something to haul (a kid or groceries in the trailer) or when I'm in a hurry. To get a good workout on a bike generally requires at least an hour of hard riding and/or hill work.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Not much knitting news to report lately as not much knitting has been happening at my house. I'm almost up to the neck steeks on Donegal, and I've started a pair of self-patterning socks for take-away knitting, and I've decided to frog the cashmere scarf and do something else with the year. But that's it.

I have been spinning a little, and early next week I will post a photo of the ugliest yarn to ever show up on a bobbin, so check back.

In other news... A new film version of Pride and Prejudice is in the works. Keira Knightley has been cast as Lizzie and Matthew MacFadyen will play Mr. Darcy. I think the Austen-groupie world breathed a collective sigh of relief on learning that the rumour that Brad Pitt would play Darcy was just a nasty joke. Matthew MacFadyen? At least he's British! But we know he can never replace Colin the Great.

Here they are:

He's not bad, but he's not:

Still, I'm sure I'll go see it!

I've also been wearing a pedometer for the past two weeks. I was curious to see how my activity level compares to the Amish. According to a news report, the average Amish woman logs 14,196 steps per day, compared to a range of 2,000 to 3,000 for the average American adult. The first week I wore the pedometer was the last week of school, so I was still making a 1.5-mile round trip twice a day to walk my kids to school and back. The pedometer was counting between 10,000 and 15,000 steps those days. I wasn't doing much of anything else, and most of my other walking was shorter (3 blocks to the video store, 2 blocks to a friend's house, etc.) So I couldn't figure out how 2,000 to 3,000 steps per day could possibly be an average. Wouldn't everyone get at least that much just by getting off the couch and walking to the kitchen or the bathroom a few times? Surely it must be a typo! Then I figured it out. This week, with the kids out of school, I have not been walking outside the house at all. When we have to go somewhere, it is easier for me to toss my 7-yo in the bike trailer, so I've replaced walking with biking. One day I had less than 3,000 steps on the pedometer. So now, when I consider that the average American adult uses the car in the same way I use my bike, I can see why the average is so low.

Now I've set a goal of at least 15,000 steps a day, so I'm putting the bike away and keeping the sneakers on. I'm not at all impressed with the accuracy of this pedometer, however. Last night I was not at 10,000 yet despite a lot of walking, and I tested the pedometer and found it had been counting less than half my steps. I don't think it was doing that all the time because I also tested it on a longer walk and it was only lopping off about 10%. But it was a freebie, so what can I expect? Once I get a good idea about what makes up 15,000 steps, I won't need it anymore.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

After numerous tries, I was finally able to view the newly-released trailer for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Some of the scenes are chilling, particularly near the end when Bush says with a determined and serious face "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers" and then turns non-chalantly to the golf course and says, "Now watch this drive." And don't you think John Kerry should make a campaign ad from the footage of Bush at the fancy dinner? I can't believe the shrub said that with cameras rolling: "This is an impressive crowd -- the haves and the have mores. Some people call you the elite; I call you my base."

Great news that it will open June 25. I'm anticipating that opening with the same eagerness that my kids are displaying for tomorrow's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban debut.

In other entertainment/knitting news, I called upon the spirit of my Depression-era grandmother and proved that yes, it can indeed be a good idea not to throw anything away because "you never know when you might need it." (And this relates to entertainment/knitting how? Hold on, I'm getting there.)

My daughter snagged the lead role in her first grade class play, "Hey Diddle Diddle." She was cast as the cat with the fiddle. Needed: one kitty costume. Fortunately, she already had a leopard-print dress, handed down from a friend. Ears and tails would make her purrfect. So I finally found a use for some coarse and bulky brown yarn I had badly spun and attempted to Navajo-ply. Voila! Ears! I made two, in garter stitch, and attached them to a black headband.

For the tail, I needed a firm core. Flexible wire would have been great, but I didn't have any. I found an old phone/modem cord and folded it in thirds. Then I took some scoured gray Romney fleece that I was sick of carding and wrapped it around the cord, securing it with some leftover gray yarn from the stash. Brown ears, gray tail, didn't look like any cat we would want to know. So I took the rest of that hopeless brown yarn and crocheted a long band to wrap around the fleece for a striped effect. Here it is:

Even though it looks like it belongs to a mangy animal, my daughter loves it so much she wanted to sleep in it.

She was great in the play, too.

Otherwise, knitting is stalled right now. The only thing I'm actively knitting is Donegal, which is upstairs-with-a-movie knitting since I have to frequently look at the chart and use the organizer to keep all 11 colors straight. I still haven't cast on for Aubrey because, well, because I still haven't lost weight for the smaller size or given up on my plan to do so. I'm waiting on more yarn for the rippled afghan, and I've decided to frog the would-be-scarf in the beautiful variegated cashmere. It was taking too much yarn and I didn't really want a $90 scarf. I'm still thinking about a $40 qiviut scarf (just to try qiviut). Instead, I think these cashmere will go back to my original intention for it: a hat and gloves. Although I am toying with the idea of designing a lacy, yarn-frugal vest.