A Potentially Heretical Rant

What the hell happened to Elvis Costello?

I came to the conclusion today that his show would be really great if he wasn’t on it. His guests were Richard Thompson, Nick Lowe, Allen Toussaint, and Levon Helm, and a more ace bunch of guys you could not imagine.

And alongside them, Elvis pissing about with his unbelievably affected speaking style, weird questions, and hyperactive fourth-grader vibe.

Seriously, the man went from being one of the coolest people on the planet to being basically Sting for hipsters.

Evidence. From this:

To this:

And don’t get me started about Elton John.

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March 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

The Bread Cult

Late to the party as ever, I have joined a cult. As cults go, it’s pretty benign–we make bread, we don’t murder people and steal their money. But, make no mistake, it’s a cult. It has many illustrious members.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day: Learn it, live it, be it.  (Not their slogan, but it totally should be.) The book will show you how to make vast vat of bread dough, then leave it the hell alone until you feel like eating bread.  Below is the (slightly) sinister bread dough, lurking in its (plastic dollar-store) vat.  (I need to get a proper vat.)

Then, it explains how to rip off a chunk, leave it alone some more, bung it in the oven, and enjoy hot, delicious bread with staggeringly little effort. (Although, book says not to hack into your bread until it is cool. Bah!) How could you not want to eat THIS immediately?:

The other thing? This big vat of dough? Also makes fantastically good pizza crust. I have had fresh pizza at least once a week for two months. I’m not yet tired of it. And another thing? There is a recipe for brioche dough. Which you can use to make THESE:

Flip ’em over? They look like this:

I have been pondering the possibilities of that brioche dough. I wonder if you could use it to make a base for this cake-like thing?

Anyway more info and two very nice seeming people over here. It’s really easy. You should join the cult too.

March 16, 2010 at 6:12 pm 2 comments

Baby Steps

My friend and former client is having a baby. This came as a surprise, as she is pretty much the consummate professional, and we’ve never talked love life, children, or any other really personal stuff. She just called me out of the blue for some advice on who I thought might cover for her while she is on maternity leave.

WHAT?!

Anyway. I think she just decided it’s time. There is no man in her life (as far as I know.) I have not asked her where the sauce came from, and she has not volunteered. Which is fine, as it should be. She’s a fantastically modern woman. So what to do but knit her a fantastically modern baby blanket? As well as some booties that came from a 90-year-old lady.  But which look surprisingly modern.

Patterns: Bulky Baby Blankets and Christine’s Stay-On Baby Booties
Yarns:
Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick-n-Quick (blanket) and Sandnes Garn Sisu (booties)
Needles: US 10  (6mm) circs, and US 1 (2.5mm) bamboo dpns
Made for: Minna’s new baby. Hooray!

Highly recommend both patterns for last-minute shower gifts that look splendid. The booties were a special request–once she’d told me she was pregnant, pretty much the second thing out of her mouth was, “and you’ll be knitting me some booties.” Happy to oblige.

March 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm 1 comment

Why I Is the Way I Is.

There are a number of reasons why I yam what I yam, which is essentially a person who sits alone in a room and types or yabbers into a telephone. They are as follows:

I Have a Huge Problem with Authority

Seriously. I am like the bad puppy in the obedience class. I want so badly to be good, but in the long run, I can’t really keep my shit together and my trap shut long enough to be a good employee. In today’s economic meltdown, “long enough”=forever. Just. can’t. do. it.

A Corollary to the Above

I really hate hierarchy. It makes me a splendid boss, but a shite worker bee. My favourite boss ever (really, we went out two weeks ago and drank two bottles of wine, and I spent all day that Saturday praying for death) and I used to have room clearing brawls every couple of months. My favourite line from those? “You are in charge, you can have anything you want, but here are the consequences of what you want.” AND, he was a big enough person to listen and take heed, or admit he was wrong after the fact. (However, he was not a boss for the pearl-clutchers of society. Much shouting and swearing, but huge fun, too.) The idea that someone is automatically right because they are the boss makes me crazy. However…

I Am Always Right

Not really, but one of my character traits is that I am extremely decisive. Again, makes me a great consultant. “What should we do?” they ask. And I will almost always have an answer. That I’ll stick by. And apologize for if I’m wrong. I just can’t take the collaborative indecision-waffle-blah that is “teamwork”.

I Hate Inefficiency

Some people love going to work and hanging out with their colleagues, sharing bits of their lives, chatting in the coffee room, taking long lunches and breaks. I am the SWAT team commando of work. Go, get in, do your task, get out. You know what sounds like hell to me? One of those hip technology workplaces with free espresso and a chill out lounge.  I’ll chill at home, thankyouverymuch. Makes for a pathological inability to put in an 8 hour day when there is only 2 hours of work to do. However, if you need someone to work for 16 hours straight to get something of vital importance done, I am your woman.

I Am (Essentially) Ambitionless

Titles? Feh. Perks? Pay me enough to supply my own, thanks. Desire to be master of many? Yawn. I know a few people who do what I do who are creepily focused on being the best! ever! in the field. Holy crap, their Twitter feed is BORING. I also know a few people who do what I do who are killing themselves to afford their downtown office space and their multiple assistants.  My ambition is to have enough money and time to go to Mexico City this summer for two weeks. And to keep walking the dog around the lake every day. And to finish knitting that damn sweater. Not likely to win me fame or fortune.

Damn. Guess I’ll just keep on the way I am. But, if you have any ideas on how to support myself by dinking around in the basement, let me know, ‘kay?

February 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm Leave a comment

The Great Gauge Accident of 2009

Enough time has now passed that I may speak of the great gauge accident of 2009 without crying.

I wanted a chunky, outdoorsy, instead-of-a-coat sort of sweater. For me. Elann had a big sale on Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky. I got the colour I wanted (Herring). I had finished my Christmas knitting. I was a happy woman, making an easy, breezy sweater for herself.

Oh, it’s a cinch to knit a top-down sweater without a pattern, they said. Just measure your gauge, do a little math, and away you go.

LIARS.

Exhibit the first:

Here is a man with a 50 inch chest, wearing a 53 inch sweater. Fie on your math and gauge swatching, I says.

Okay. I might have panicked and cast on a few too many stitches at the pits (six, so 2 inches). But really, this should have worked. The gauge is right, the math is right. But I tried it on and it was ridiculous. Then I blocked it.

The colour is lovely, though. Exhibit the second:

Look at them funky little flecks of colour. Also, Mr. Dame, cheer the hell up. YOU didn’t spend a month knitting this stupid sweater.

Pattern: Classic Raglan Pullover by Barbara Walker
Yarn:
Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky, 8 balls of Herring
Needles: US 10.5  circs. To add insult to injury? My Knitpicks Harmonies popped out of the metal collar that holds the needley part in, and I had to borrow the most hideous needles from my mum. The cable could CUT you.
Made for: Mr. Dame (accidentally).

Coming next? The Hoodie of Repentance.

February 8, 2010 at 7:31 pm 2 comments

A Very Cool Idea

I love this: embroidered & needlepointed cushions and quilts, lovingly hand-made for you in PRISON.

tattoo cushion

I am getting all sweaty with joy just thinking about certain people coming for a visit and remarking on the loveliness of my new pillow, only to be told that, “yes, I had that made for me by a dude in JAIL.”

Cash pillowMore seriously, if I had to articulate part of what I think is wrong with the world, it’s that “stuff” is not valued. Everything is disposable, crappy, made by machines (or people who are treated like machines); people are disengaged from how things like food, paper goods, and textiles make it to their house for them to use or consume. And when you don’t value stuff, it’s a short hop to not valuing people, their opinions, and even their lives. And then you end up in jail.

lobsters

So, as a rehabilitative measure, I am all for murderers learning embroidery. It will probably facilitate slowing down, thinking and exploring their own minds, which will hopefully lead to greater respect for others, and, erm, less murder?

Plus, how sweet is that lobster cushion? Many Valentines options too.

January 29, 2010 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

From Horrible, Some Good

Quite a few knitwear designers are donating a portion of their sales from now until the end of the month to relief efforts in Haiti.

The unbelievably generous Ysolda Teague is donating 80% of her (probably not inconsiderable) sales to Médecins Sans Frontières for their work in Haiti. If you were planning to knit any of her lovely designs, now would be a splendid time to purchase the patterns.

I took the opportunity to stockpile Ishbel, which will be helpful in freeing me from the giant pile of sock yarn I’ve managed to accumulate.

I always like Laura Chau (aka Cosmic Pluto)’s designs, and she is donating 50% to Haitian relief, so I picked up her Honey Bee Cardigan pattern. Needless to say, I shall NOT be knitting the short boob-holder version. And some dyeing must take place before I can start it, but what the hell… no time like the present.

You can search Ravelry for other designers who are supporting the Haitian relief effort by looking for patterns tagged “help-for-haiti” or click here.

You can also view the Yarn Harlot’s post on how to direct your donation to MSF, and become one of the  Tricoteuses Sans Frontières.

ETA: On Saturday Jan 23, if you shop at Three Bags Full, 50% of the profit goes to MSF.  Also, I bought Gaenor.

January 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

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