Monday, December 21, 2009


I promised more crafty-gifts, and lo and behold, I present to you, CephaloPod, the squid iPod Cozy!

CephaloPod is made from SquiPod iPod Cozy, in Caron Simply Soft Shadows, on size 8 double pointed needles. I got the buttons for 50 cents (total!) at Windsor Button after work today. I'm enamored. I want one for myself. I stupidly didn't decrease the amount of stitches in the pattern, even though I used worsted where the pattern called for sport, so he is really more camera-sized than iPod sized. Shhh. I'm throwing him into the Yankee Swap tomorrow, so we'll see how he goes over!

Mario Tree Topper, v 2

On Ravelry come the fall, talk inevitably turns to holiday knitting/crocheting. "What are you making for people for WHATEVER-HOLIDAY?" The posts are then replies with copious lists of "This for that person" or, "I don't knit for HOLIDAY because everyone around me are ungrateful jerks," or, "I'm lazy/not good enough/whatever." I'm usually in the lazy category, but suddenly I realized that I was nearly finished making my fourth gift of the season.

You've already seen one, Z's scarf. There's another present that I dare not post lest the recipient reads my blog (I don't think the recipient does, but you know), and I still have a tentacle to knit and eyes to sew on for another. But I did give M & E their Mario star tree topper!

At my holiday party, M requested a star for their tree, but bigger, hopefully by their holiday party, or at least by Christmas. No problem. On Saturday, I crocheted their star, which is probably twice as large as mine (I haven't measured them, but that'd be my guess). I actually was an hour late to the party because I was hurriedly seaming and stuffing the star while T played the new Super Mario on my Wii.

I used the same pattern and yarn and hook as last time, but I did make modifications for the size. After round 5, I repeated rounds 4 and 3 once each, for a total of 60 sc around. The points were therefore 12 sc at their bases instead of 6. I decreased for the points at the same rate as in the original (so decreasing on rows 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 12).

They are pretty pleased with it, as am I. Will have pictures of the other two presents for you shortly!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Breaking Radio Silence: More Knitting and Crocheting!

Hello, blog. Long time no see.

This year, I decided to save some money by knitting presents. I can't show you one of them yet, but I already gifted one of them to Z, who left to study viola de gamba at the Hague for three months this week. I actually finished the scarf (the bind off and weaving-in-of-ends) at her going away party, and then wrapped it around her neck.

I think it was a hit--she wore the scarf the rest of the party, and then left my apartment without the scarf she'd worn to my apartment in the first place.

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Velvet Grapes
Pattern: My So Called Scarf
Needles: Size 11s (I love my Options!)
Ravelry page
This was much quicker to knit than the last My So Called Scarf that I made. Since I, you know, actually worked on it.

While cruising the Atheist and Agnostic Crafter's boards on Ravelry, I saw someone was knitting a Flying Spaghetti Monster tree topper. I thought that was a pretty awesome idea, and then I had an even geekier idea: a Super Mario star tree topper! The only pattern I could find was a crochet pattern, and while I taught myself to crochet over the summer, I hadn't actually done anything past learn the basic stitches. But I decided the idea was too awesome to not at least try, and so I toddled off to Windsor Button after work one day this week.

Windsor Button is a fabulous store in downtown Boston--they have a wall of buttons, sewing supplies, random craft supplies, and of course, yarn. I haven't seen many yarn selections like the one at Windsor Button--craft stores like Joann's have a limited selection of yarn companies, and they tend to focus heavily on Red Heart, Lion Brand, Caron, and Patons. Local yarn stores might have Patons, but are unlikely to have the rest. Windsor Button has everything from Red Heart Super Saver on up to Malabrigo and Sea Silk. It's a fantastic store, and I love that they have a smattering of everything. And while I normally hate acrylic, I knew that Red Heart was going to be my best bet for the bright, bright yellow I'd need for the star. I very much appreciated that I could walk from my office to Windsor Button and get the yarn I needed, rather than having to get in a car and drive to a big box store.

Anyway, I wound up ripping the star out a lot, and re-crocheting it. At one point, I had all of the first star done, and all but three points on the second star done, and redid them both. I had some beginner's difficulties, but I learned a fair bit, including how to read my work some. And so, lo and behold, my first crochet project!

I know have to figure out how to attach him to the tree. And prevent all my friends from grabbing him and running around my apartment singing the invincibility music from Super Mario Bros games during our party next week.

Yarn: Red Heart Classic Solid in Yellow, Cascade 220 in black for the eyes.
Pattern: Super Mario Invisibility Star
Hook: Size 3.25 mm (D)
Ravelry link
The pattern calls for a size E hook, but I didn't have one and was too impatient to wait for another trip to the store to acquire one. I'm quite happy with the results, though!

Update: Here it is on the tree!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Lonely Egg

You may have noticed that I talk about food a lot. I like to cook and eat. So do a lot of my friends. In fact, one of them likes to cook so much that he created a website to share recipes. The Lonely Egg just went into open beta today, and is pretty awesome, with even more potential for awesomeness down the road--I've been using it for a while now, and it's nice to have my recipes at hand anywhere I go.

So, if you like to cook, check it out. There's also a Google Group for the site, where you can make suggestions, give feedback, or report bugs.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Good News! Spring is Here...wait a second...

So it's now July 10th, and weather-wise, it's a beautiful May day. At least it's not raining.

The last of the strawberries are in the farmer's market, so I made Strawberry Shortcake Cookies, which I made for the 4th and were a huge success. I'm hoping they are just as delicious today as they were last week!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's Summer! Kind of.

Boston is currently suffering from an acute case of "raining and gray and cloudy and miserable all the time." This has been going on for the last couple of weeks, and I for one long for the return of the Daystar. (Sources say tomorrow may be sunny. Forgive me for holding my breath.)

So that may be why the farmer's market was pretty deserted yesterday at lunch, but it did not prevent the return of my favorite vegetable. That's right, zucchini are in season! I snapped up two, and while I regrettably over-blanched them, I still wound up with a delicious dinner of stuffed zucchini.

My mother had reported the first tiny zucchini on her plants (she's growing fewer plants this year, since her garden tends to grow giant monster mutant zucchini) so I didn't expect to find them at the market yesterday. I was happily surprised.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tilted Duster

When you've been anticipating something for a long time, it's sometimes hard to believe when it's over. Like my trip to Japan, which I started planning in about March of 2008, over a year before the trip actually happened in April of 2009.

Or my Tilted Duster sweater, which I started knitting in October of 2007, and didn't finish until Sunday night. But now all the ends are woven in and every seam has been finished!

Tilted Duster (Ravelry link to project, and to pattern) by Norah Gaughan.

I knit the 40" size on size 9 needles, out of GGH Bel Air in "Olive" (though I'd call that more an avocado color, myself. Nomnomnom.)

The pattern was easy to follow and clear, which didn't prevent from being dumb, like when I knit a good portion of sleeve only increasing on one side instead of both.

I started knitting this in October of 2007 on size 10s. The next time I came back to it, I realized that what I'd knit was waaaay too big (stupid gauge), so I ripped back and started over. Last September, I was close to finishing it, and had even sewn on the buttons and one of the sleeves when I tried it on and decided the collar looked like crap. It was too long, so it sat funny on my neck, and the buttons/buttonholes looked terrible. Modifications: no buttons! I plan on getting a shawl pin to keep it closed, and if I get really frustrated with that I'll add some toggle buttons and a button loop.

Much thanks to Digikami, who is the awesome photographer who provided these photos.

This is my first sweater, and I'm incredibly excited about it, to the point where I am wearing it today. In June. It's keeping me nice and toasty in my frigid office.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Back from Japan

I have had several things I thought about blogging this past week, but hadn't because I felt I couldn't make a blog post until I blogged about going to Japan. Which is what I did on April 4th. I got back this past Sunday, so I've had a few days to start to digest my trip mentally. (People keep asking me what my favorite thing was...there were so many awesome things I still can't decide.)

I don't speak any Japanese, so my trip would have been pretty difficult, if not impossible, without Digikami, who speaks pretty damn good Japanese (don't let him tell you otherwise). I also got to see my friend from forever Japam (who will be losing her "Ja" in August when she comes back to the States in August).

We were based mainly in Kyoto, where we found an awesome deal through a hostel to rent an apartment for 15 days. This was awesome and way cheaper than staying in regular hostels the whole time, so we were glad to have found it. It was a super nice place right in the center of Kyoto.

I took of pictures, as did Digikami. He took more photos than I did, but posted fewer. They are also much better than mine, but hey, what're you going to do?

Highlights include:





Turtles ("kame" in Japanese):

The World's Largest Indoor Buddha, Nara:

Tame Deer (in both Nara and Miyajima, this was in Miyajima):


Instructions on How To Use a Western Toilet:

Pachinko Parlor Ads Ripping Off Obama:

Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion:

And the view of Kyoto from Daimonji-yama:

This trip was actually my first journey out of the country, and in a lot of ways a huge jump out of my comfort zone. I don't speak the language, and I can't read any of the alphabets (though I have since learned 5 different kanji). While some of the food was familiar, I was being dumped in a place where I couldn't get the things I was raised on easily (and the Japanese barely eat cheese, which is probably my favorite food). Japanese-style toilets are traumatic.

But the food was delicious. People were friendly and polite despite my mangling their language. I saw beautiful things, and cute things, and funny things, and a couple of disturbing things. It was refreshing to see some of the problems that plague America (terrible public transit, for instance) are things that other countries have down. I had an awesome time, and I really would love to go back. Neither my words nor these pictures can really describe what it was like.

Time to start learning Japanese, so next time I can communicate a little better.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finished! My So-Called Scarf

Three posts in 2 days? You lucky, lucky faithful readers you!

I just finished the My So Called Scarf I started back in August of 2007. Yes. It did take me a year and a half to knit one measly little scarf. I'm going to claim it's because it's so soft and luscious I didn't want to finish knitting it. Yeah, that's it.

Apparently, I have thus far failed to blog about this scarf. Oops. Ravelry link to my project here.

Yarn is Malabrigo worsted, in Autumn Forest. I used about a skein and a half, I think. Cast on 30 stitches, as per the pattern, and knit until the scarf hung to my knees when draped around my neck. I'd probably make it wider if I made it again.
Used Knit Picks Options, size 11.

It's an incredibly easy stitch pattern to memorize, what with it being the same two rows repeated ad infinitum. Perfect for the T or watching TV or reading a book, if I remember to use my book stand. But it's not particularly boring. It IS hard to fix mistakes, though.

I'm looking forward to wearing this for the first time tomorrow!

Hope Whatever Just Cracked Wasn't Important...

When I was a freshman in high school, I started taking Tae Kwon Do classes at the same school my little brother was going to. Being 14, however, put me in the adult class (which I was fine with, because I didn't want to go to class with my brother.). I was am a big fantasy geek, so getting to learn hand-to-hand fighting was a big bonus in my eyes, plus I was pretty lazy and needed the exercise. Never really liked playing sports (competitively, anyway, for fun is OK), and have always hated going to the gym or running, so having a reason for my exercise was awesome.

I never quite understood what Mr. D (I almost typed "Sir", as that was what we most often called him, and how my mom still refers to him) was talking about when he'd talk about how the winter and the cold make you stiff and how important it is to stretch more in the winter. I was a teenager, and since I was active (I went to class 2-3 times a week, on average, sometimes more, until I was 18), I was pretty flexible. And I'd get a little stiffer in the cold, but not that much. Now I am 25, and have been mostly inactive since I was 18 (except for brief spurts of activity and fitness). I'm not old yet, but I definitely feel the difference the winter air makes. Especially now that I've started taking yoga classes at the gym (OK, I've gone twice. But that's a start!) and can't do things I used to be able to do, or can't do things I think I would've been able to do. And yes, some of it is just that I've been lazy for the past 7 years. But I can also feel that my muscles and ligaments are a little more set in their ways than they used to be, a little less willing to make that movement. (Or in some cases, a lot.) At least my bum ankle was more flexible yesterday than it was on Friday.

Maybe if I keep it up, I'll feel like I once more deserve to wear the black belt that's sitting around collecting dust in my mom's house.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

C'mon, hips, not even a little fib?

Today I brought apple slices with peanut butter for a snack, rather than hitting up the vending machine for chocolatey goodness. I am trying to eat more healthily, partly because I have been slightly infected with the New Year's resolutions-vibe, and partly because, like Shakira, my hips don't lie. They will tell you exactly how many cookies I eat, and what kind. My hips are kind of bastards like that.

So, in an effort to reverse the ever-so-slight expansion of my waist, apple slices with peanut butter. There is first the dilemma of how to transport the apple, whole or already in slices. Already in slices, it naturally starts to oxidize so by 3:30 your apple is kind of brownish, though not too bad. If you bring a whole apple, you either have to bring a knife to slice it, or you have to rely on those available to you at your office. At my office, there is an enormous "cake knife" that looks like it came from the set of Psycho, or plastic butter knives. It is actually possible to cut a Granny Smith apple into slices with a butter knife, but it's not a particularly fun activity, nor one I recommend. (Especially after I nearly sliced my finger. With a plastic butter knife!) Then there is the issue of peanut butter transport. I could have just brought the whole jar of peanut butter, but that seemed like it would be heavy and bulky and just plain excessive. So I found a small tupperware and spooned some in.

The problem here, of course, is the one I always face when I have a limited amount of dipping/spreading foodstuff. I can't ensure that I won't run out of peanut butter before I reach the last apple slice unless I spread it evenly onto all apple slices before I begin eating, and that's pretty lame, and anyway, these slices are not at all even and some of them are actually "chunks." So instead, I find myself skimping on the first few slices, using not-quite-enough-peanut butter, until I reach the last slice. Invariably, I have skimped too much early on and am left with far too much delicious peanut butter, so that I am actually basically eating the peanut butter with the apple slice as a mere conduit for it's sticky, delicious goopiness.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The universe does have a cruel sense of humor. Barely 24 hours after I posted my not-for-the-new-year-specifically resolutions, but they are tested. My workload is more than doubling for the next year--year and a half, which probably means permanently.

But, in the spirit of my resolutions, I am choosing to focus on the positive implications of this, rather than the scary parts: I will be working with all-new people, which will expose me to different processes. I will therefore be more well-rounded of an employee, and if I do well, will impress more people, which will lead to good things down the road. There will probably be some new responsibilities involved in this that I currently don't handle, which could at some point help me segue into a higher position. The fact that I have been added to this new-to-me book team means that my boss has confidence in me and my abilities and thinks I can handle it. (He always thinks highly of what I can handle. I hope he is right.)

Also in the spirit of my resolutions, I started journaling again last night. I'm hoping that by just writing brain-dump entries I can sort them out. Or at least get them off my mind for a while. It does feel a little silly to maintain a blog and a journal, but I don't feel there is the space here to be as honest and forthright as I need to be. And posting everything I think on the internet is a bit too much like my college/livejournal days for comfort.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolving, Revolving, Revolting?

I haven't made New Year's resolutions. I haven't even really thought about New Year's resolutions, except sometimes when I saw them referred to on various blogs or Ravelry-threads, and even then it only crossed my mind long enough to read the words. It's not that I don't think they can be a good idea, if properly implemented and followed-through, it's just that I'm lazy. And all the things I would make resolutions about are things that I know are problems, and am trying really hard to get better about, and think (hope, really) that I am getting better about, despite the occasional (usually huge) slip-ups.

Everyone has character flaws, and I don't think mine are really any more glaring than anyone else's are. Obviously, they are forgivable: otherwise, my brother, sisters, cousins and I would never have been born. But I don't like these things about myself. In fact, they tend to infuriate me in other people, which probably means I need to add some degree of hypocrisy to that list of flaws (unless it's mitigated by my acknowledgment that I share these problems, and am trying to work past them?).

I am attempting to let things bother me less. Particularly things/persons I perceive to be stupid, inefficient, or both. This will lessen my overall stress levels because if I don't allow them the become stress in the first place.

I am attempting to complain less. Once something has bothered me, I want to let it go faster, rather than dwell on it. There is a fine line between venting and just being spiteful. I need to learn to actively do something to fix a situation, or shut up and deal with it.

I am still looking for a way to release stress/tension/anxiety better. I need to look harder, because I have not, in all honesty, done much about this.

I am attempting to argue less, at least about the things that don't matter. This. Is. Hard. Help would be appreciated here, preferably BEFORE I've annoyed everyone around me.

That being said, I am attempting to be more perceptive of when I have crossed the line.

I am attempting to be less (negatively) sensitive to criticism. Sometimes, people are just trying to help.

Part of my goal is that by releasing these various negative things from my life, I will have more mental energy for happy things.

ETA: I'm pretty sure this post counts as complaining about myself. FAIL. :D

And all the little bloggers go "tweet"?

Blog fail! Oops.

First day back in the office of the new year, first day back after a week and a half of vacation, so clearly I must blog.

I signed up for Twitter, on the recommendation of a friend, when I expressed bewilderment at the whole idea. He said I needed to start using it, and use it for a while, before I'd get it. I'm cawthraven, since someone stole the name Stiney. The nerve. I'm not sure I get it, still, but I suspect that I often think in "tweets" (or at least non sequiturs) so maybe it's not so weird.