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May 28, 2003
i DO knit

And here's some proof that I do still knit! This is the scarf for Zoe's kindergarten teacher. The grey is a mix of alpaca and cotton in garter stitch. Very soft with a slight boucle texture. I've lost the ballband already, so don't ask me what it is. The border is a double strand of Fizz crocheted on.

Perfect for summer, eh?

10:41 AM
day one

We have officially kicked off the construction. They have started digging the footings that will house steel beams to support the second story.

One of the footings is very wet. We're hoping that it's just a leak from the sprinkler system and nothing more sinister. Hopefully this is not foreshadowing of future ills.

Here's all the dirt that Robin dug up today.

10:37 AM
May 26, 2003
lemon tree, very pretty

I feel like I am at the end of an era. Work on the house begins tomorrow.

I asked a neighbor Saturday if he could help us take down our two fruit trees. All of the sudden he was here on Sunday and the peach and the lemon were gone in no time flat! The lemon, in particular was hard to see go. Not that it was the world's most beautiful tree, but it was old and bore lots of fruit. Lemons don't really have a dormant season so I could almost always pop out and grab one as necessary. A footing needs to be dug right where the tree stood, so there was no working around it.

I do like the way the courtyard is opened up and lighter. And with 10 feet going on to the top of the house on one side, it will feel more closed in. Still, everytime I go by a window I have a strange feeling until I realize that it is its absence that I am feeling.

I did spend a little time fantasizing about what I will put back in when all is said and done. My thought is that it would be nice to have it all edible. There'll still be a small orange tree and a fig tree. Herbs flanking one side -- lavenders, sages and rosemarys -- which all do very well here. Mints beneath the orange tree. And a raised bed about 4 feet by 12 feet on the southern side with an artful selection of vegetables and more thirsty herbs.

11:09 AM
May 24, 2003
art show!

Last year for our anniversary, I promised Leo a hanging of his artwork at a local Internet cafe. Other things came up, it sunk down on the to-do list, but as I was trying to figure out what to do with the things on our walls, I decided that installing his artwork there was really the best thing to do with it.

Nine of his pieces are now hanging at EspressoNet. You can (sort of) see them on their webcam. If you'd actually like to see some of Leo's artwork, then the best place to look is here.

11:20 AM
May 23, 2003
color commentary

It dawns on me that I need more color in my (knitting) life. I haven't been very motivated to knit in any stolen moments. Though I've been busy with other things, it's been easy enough to put aside. I was reflecting on that and realized that I have been working on projects in the blah-est of colors lately! A charcoal grey scarf, a taupe secret project, another project that contained colorwork, but that I did in cream and tan... I've been working with some very nice yarns, but the colors are unexciting.

I need an infusion of color! Have to start thinking about something that sings and zings!

Interestingly, as I was sorting through my closet, I realized that I have very little that's black anymore. 1 pair black shoes, 1 pair black pants, 1 black tank and 1 black T-shirt. And I don't love the pants. And then I thought maybe I should put all the black away as a little experiment.

I have lots of color now, and I think this is directly correlated to my love of knitting in color.

09:40 AM
house update

Here's the deal: The appraiser comes today. With such low rates, the appraisers have been booked up. Tom the appraiser will come this morning. Called Dave the Builder. He and his guys will be here Tuesday morning at 7:00 am. We will move next door June 1.

Unused goods are packed up. Moving on to goods that will actually need to be moved. Since we're just going next door, most things don't need packing, per se, they can just be thrown in a box or bag to carry, moved over and unloaded. Still, I must get some boxes and pack up what we don't need this week. Probably a few more items suited for GarageLand.

06:59 AM
May 22, 2003
playin' 'possum

Here's the little fella! He (or she) is still around. I actually talked to the Opossum Lady today -- after wading through an almost surreal phonetree. "If you are calling about a beached marine mammal, call SeaWorld... If you are calling about sick or injured songbirds, press 1, if you are calling about sea or water fowl, press 2.... if you are calling about an opossum, press 7 now...."

Finally got to the Opossum Lady who told me that the opossum was probably big enough to make it on his own, but that he probably didn't have much sense. The fact that he was sleeping all day out in plain sight was just because he hadn't really figured out the ways of opossums yet, and that come evening he would probably start moving around and that I could lay a little Hansel and Gretel trail of goodies to lead it out of the yard. If he really hadn't moved by night, they would send rescuers tomorrow.

It's evening now, and he's made his way out of the yard and in the driveway. Slowly. Opossums just don't do anything quickly! I'm hoping that now that I've shut the gate, he won't be smart enough to find his way back in.

07:44 PM
oblique strategies

More rules for creative types.

After thinking about A Pattern Language, my mind naturally wanders to Oblique Strategies. These are a set of 100 cards designed by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975. Eno and other artists have used them extensively to create music and other forms of art -- and to become unstuck when creating pieces. You can find out more about them here or even buy them here if you are feeling flush. The texts of the cards can be found online, though of course, having the actual set would be cool.

I don't know what obliquely strategic knitting would look like.

07:06 AM
a pattern language

I've been working on an "Old House, New House" website. This has me thinking again about features I like and why I like them. There is a great book called A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander. I think it was published originally in the late '60's. I read it for the first time about 15 years ago while I was in college. Every few years since, I've tracked down a copy at the library and read it again. The book was part of a larger experiment undertaken by Alexander and his team. They wanted to understand what made some architecture (and city planning) work, and some not.

From this, they distilled a series of rules. Rules like "Six Foot Porch": Apparently, a porch less than 6 feet deep will not be a functional living space. It's not big enough to hold a small table and chairs and allow people to move around comfortably. So the porch is rarely used. Intelligent design calls for a porch at least 6 feet deep.

Of course, the new balcony on our house will be less than 6 feet deep. I tried. But it would overhang the garage in a most inelegant way and call for supports from underneath, which it can't have.

Anyway, I heartily recommend this book if you are interested in design. Sure it's a little dated, but still a compelling read.

06:27 AM
May 21, 2003
macs nis sweders

Going through the pile of Zoe's schoolwork for the year. Now how much of THAT do I keep? It all seems so dear, yet there's so much of it. Anyway, from right around Thanksgiving I guess, I found this: You'll have imagine the bulbous stick-figures with hands like flowers for yourselves, since the scanner is packed up.

"I am thankful for my mom and my daddy and my mom macs nis sweders."

07:07 AM
May 20, 2003

Knitty advertising hits the streets! Check out the little flyers chez Squib. Print some up and hand some out.

07:20 AM
flocked wallpaper

No. We don't have any. But a friend of mine is looking for pictures of red flocked wallpaper or similar looking fabric. If you've got any to scan, let me know! Thanks.

05:54 AM
May 19, 2003

So we've gone through most of the house and gotten rid of a ton of stuff. We're keeping all the stuff we actually need and use regularly. There's also a liminal category of "what we don't use, but can't lose". And for your interest, here are the members of that category. Perhaps this is terribly telling. Perhaps not.

In the garage we have:

6 file boxes (including my notes and papers from grad school)
7 bins of books
4 bins of kitchen stuff (unused dishes, serving pieces, rarely used appliances...)
3 bins of toys, dolls, puzzles, games
5 bins of baby/girl clothes (somebody have a baby already!)
3 bins of dress-up costumes
3 bins of our clothes (includes the sentimental T-shirts, fancy clothes, and sweaters)
3 bins of yarn
1 bin of fabric
2 bins of tchotchkes
3 bins of photo albums
2 bins of pictures and art
more artwork too large for bins
large telescope
nice doors that don't fit our house... might soon?
little pieces of wood that verge on useful
usual yardcare and fix-it stuff that you expect in a garage
baby opossum

the baby possum I saw just outside the garage and I hope it went away. it was tiny and cute but it was still vermin and I don't know where its mommy vermin was. My guess is that someone was doing noisy yardwork and scared it over this way.

There are a few more things still to join their liminal brethren in the garage.

01:09 PM
what i haven't been knitting

Here in the house-upheaval zone, there's not much time for knitting. But I do have a couple of things going. First, a scarf for Zoe's kindergarten teacher. She's been fabulous and always comments on the handknit goods. So she's getting a very soft, charcoal grey alpaca/cotton scarf with a Fizz border. She wears a lot of soft black and white stuff and is always bundled up, so I think it will suit her. It's garter stitch so it's absolutely mindless and good for a few minutes of restorative knitting when needed.

I'm already working on my fall Knitty project, or one of them. I have several irons in the fire, we'll see which one salutes (melts?). (How to end this metaphor?) I'd tell you about it, but Squib would be forced to rip my tongue out.

I have a hankering to cast on another little sock as that seems so comforting, but I want to get this scarf done first. Sure, it's soothing, but FEET of garter stitch need a bit of stick-to-it.

I've been editing all the patterns for the summer issue of Knitty, due out so soon (beginning of June) that if you stick your tongue out, you could probably taste it. Lots of great stuff. You'll swoon.

12:44 PM
May 14, 2003
our house, in the middle of our street

Okay, they're not actually ripping the roof off today, it'll be a few days before we really get all the financing and permitting and so forth locked into place. Still, I am culling like a mad-woman. This whole thing has hit me in a very unsentimental mood, so anything that we don't use that isn't totally irreplacable is going out. I'm totally energized by the process.

In a weird bit of serendipity, there was some strange construction accident in the middle of the night. A giant crane knocked big powerlines onto what is perhaps the most major freeway interchange in San Diego County. Not only did this cause major traffic problems, it put the lights out at Leo's work, so he's got a day off. Could not have come at a better time.

I already need more bins! Or at least a trip to empty the already filled ones.

01:18 PM
May 13, 2003
holy cow!

We've been working on house addition/remodeling plans for years. We love our house. It's a 1920's Spanish Colonial Revival in a U shape around a courtyard. Anyway, we've been on again and off again with it for years. I am loathe to mess up what I see as a really good house, yet at the same time I recognize that a) it's falling apart in spots, b) a potty-chair cannot substitute for a second bathroom indefinitely and c) having a little more space would be really, really nice.

After deciding that we REALLY REALLY were not going ahead with the addition anytime soon and we would just fix the stuff that needed fixing, manna fell from the sky and all the sudden, we've actually settled on a builder and he wants to start TOMORROW.

I'm trying not to think about the part where they rip off the walls of my beloved house and indeed there's little time for that as I've got to go through everything in the house, get rid of what we don't need, store what we won't use in 6 months but want to keep and figure out what we will actually need when we go into exile down the street, assuming of course, we can rent the house down the street. Otherwise, we're camping in the livingroom until we find a place.

It's all so sudden! After years of it being a strictly theoretical remodel.

Wonder if I can get the neighbor to take my rose bushes? Must purchase many plastic bins. Too bad you don't actually live nearby as I'm sure many fine items will be looking for new homes.

02:12 PM

I have a collection of etiquette books, mostly quite old. I thought I'd share some wisdom with you all, and as it's nearly summer, and you've been wondering what's appropriate to wear, here's a little advice:

Bathing Costume

"The best material for a bathing costume is flannel, and the most suitable color is gray, and may be trimmed with bright worsted braid. The loose sacque, or the yoke waist, both to be belted in, and falling about midway between the knee and ankle, is the best form for a bathing costume. An oil-skin cap to protect the hair from the water, and merino socks to match the dress, complete the costume."

from Rules of Etiquette and Home Culture, 1889

01:13 PM
May 7, 2003
four faces

Here is the painting that my friend, Emily, made as the starting point for the Four Faces Quilt.

And here are the fabrics that I bought to make the quilt. They're really beautiful fabrics. Each one hand-dyed with its own unique characteristics. Now I just have to figure out how to piece the thing. And quilt it. And a few other minor details like that.

09:15 AM
May 2, 2003
oh, brother?

Oh sister?

I have both sewing machines up and running now. Not that I have had time to sew anything. And not that I've found a place for the Brother in his/her/its cabinet to live, except the back porch...

This brings me to a question though. Pink Brother. Male? Female? Not that I'm really in the habit of naming inanimate objects, but like some cars, this one seems to have a definite personality. My car doesn't have a name either, but also seems to have some gender bending qualities. It's a Volvo, which uses the "male" symbol for its logo... but it's a station wagon, which seems very feminine, in a no-nonsense Scandanavian way...

01:05 PM
cool link

Check out Lalas Land. Fiber artist, Lesley Riley, shows her stuff. Quilts. Mixed media. Some cool stuff. And some interesting links.

06:19 AM
May 1, 2003
brown paper packages tied up with tape

Last night the UPS truck stopped in front of our house and it was actually for me! Yarn for my Fall Knitty project! Id let you see, but it's supposed to be a surprise.

And any day now I should be receiving the fabrics for my Four Faces quilt. I ordered from Equilter this time. I felt like I was cheating on my other fabric lady, but it's art, man. I am very excited to see the fabric. I am filled with a strange mix of eagerness to get started, conviction that I can do it, yet knowing that I'm also a bit over my head skillwise. Probably why I am excited about it. There's an author, Mihaly Cszikszentmihaly, who's written about the concept of "flow" -- that state where you are really "into" something and the rest of the world sort of falls away. According to Cszikszentmihaly, it's when the challenges of the thing at hand and your skill level meet in just the right way that you experience flow. Something too easy and you will be distracted; something too hard and you'll become frustrated.

06:54 AM
may day

holy cow, it's the beginning of may! how did that happen? i swear we were only in the mid twenties of april... boy, have i been out of the calendrical loop.

ooh, and squib, i'll have my Knitty stuff to you by the weekend! note to self: do not wait until the last minute to actually write up stuff you knit ages ago. not a good habit. fortunately, i took notes.

06:32 AM