Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Join the herd, and help a grad student

So, I was reading Norma's blog tonight, and she posted about this project. An intrepid grad student is researching the speed of meme travel*, and, in a very funny announcement that you really should go read (no, really, click here) has begged bloggers to participate.

The results will be presented at the MLA. Now, I've managed to avoid ever attending an MLA conference, and I've heard that they're soul-sucking vortices of ego and despair. But by golly, this is an interesting project. Mr. Kaufman, the instigator, is an English grad student, but the methodology (he's hoping to produce actual numbers!) and subject sound much more social sciences, and very much like the sort of research that Trent's colleagues at the Information School at UW pursue.

Dear readers, if Mr. Kaufman succeeds in this research, he may become that rarest of creatures, an employable PhD in English. I beg of you, if you have a blog, to: link to his project, explain his project, and then ping Technorati.

*Because I found this meme on Norma's high-traffic blog, by participating I'm supporting his hypothesis. I feel like such a follower...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow day

(That's the most popular post title for Seattle-area bloggers today.)

Happily, my employer decided to close today. I wasn't going to go anyway, because the roads around here are solid ice.

It took me 2 hours 20 minutes to get home last night. It wasn't as long as Supergirl's epic bus ride, but it wasn't an experience I wanted to repeat. I had nerves of steel while driving, then dissolved into hysterics as soon as I got home.

The girls loooooove snow. We went to our neighborhood park for some illicit off-leash frolicking. We met up with a guy with two beagles and a good time was had by all.

Stella thinks rooting around in the snow is the best thing ever.

I think my Merrell hiking boots are the best thing ever. My feet are warm and dry.

Between outside adventures, I spent much of the day knitting. I finished two hats (charity knitting) and worked on a Christmas present scarf. I have no idea why I choose to knit scarves. I'm always mentally done with them a foot or two before they're actually done. I watched American History X, which my film class picked. Each semester, the class gets to select one of the films for the course, and it never ceases to amaze me that they always pick serious movies. It really surprised me, in a good way. It was much more thoughtful and better made than I expected. (I don't know what I expected, exactly - more of an action movie, I guess.) I also watched some Simpsons, since some friends loaned us a box set. (I don't know which season - it's the Marge-head box.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Quick, while there's power...

Our power was just out for about 2.5 hours. Not too bad, and I discovered that I can knit and spin by candlelight. I'm glad I don't have to do it very often, but it's doable. It snowed today, and I'm guessing the power outage was related to downed trees or branches.

There was turkey.

There was company.

A good time was had by all. I ate too much. We have a pile of leftovers.

I finished the handspun mittens. They're too small for me, so destined for Dulaan. The hats in this picture are for the Soaring Eagles Project. The gray & burgandy one is Dale Falk (superwash), and it grew and grew and grew when I washed it. I'm going to try running it through the washing machine and the dryer before I send it off.

I also made a hat that is, potentially, a Christmas present for one of my nephews, but I have some doubts about styling and size. Trent models here. (Worth noting: Trent's head is really big, the better to hold his big brain. This hat is totally normal looking on me.)

I completely, totally don't want to go back to work tomorrow. I'm hoping for further snow or power outages.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fall fun

I'm scatter-brained, and blogging while supervising an in-class writing activity, so you get a random listy version of a post.

1. Fun thing I learned this morning: I can ski on my Birkenstocks. I took the dogs for their morning constitutional around the park, wearing my green patent-leather Birk clogs. (The green isn't relevant to the story, but gosh they're spiffy.) It's been raining a fair bit here in the land of sog, and the park is becoming swampy. The girls both decided to run off after a squirrel, and at that point I discovered that the Birks offer no traction on the mud and loose leaves. Whee!

2. As I said, it's been raining a fair bit here. We're only 0.05" away from the record rainiest month. It's in the bag, baby. I'm excited. I figure, if I have to live through the soul-sucking downpour, I should get the honor of living here at a historical moment.

3. Thanksgiving is coming! I know that's not news to any of you, but I'm darn excited about it. Two couples are coming over to have dinner with us, and much cooking is planned. We're making the stock from scratch for the dressing and gravy because one of the guests is violently allergic to onions and garlic so store-bought is out. So, we're going to begin the cooking tomorrow.

Current menu plans are:
Roast turkey (brined and cooked according to Alton Brown's method)
Gravy (roux plus turkey stock)
Dressing: one batch w/onions, one batch with chicken livers and pecans
Braised mashed sweet potatoes (Cook's Illustrated recipe)
Green beans (unformed plan, possibly involving bacon)

Guests are bringing mashed parsnips, cranberry sauce, pie, and I'm not sure what all else. I made cinnamon ice cream a couple of nights ago. It's delicious, and would be yummy on an apple pie, but it's rock hard. It didn't freeze very well in the ice cream maker; the edges got rock hard and the paddle stopped, but there were still runny parts. Consequently, it turned into a brick when decanted from the maker and frozen. I wonder if you can thaw and refreeze home-made ice cream?

4. I'm having a very flightly knitting period. I'm making some washable hats for the Soaring Eagles project. I managed 3 rows on Carpathian Black Roses at Ferals last night. I've done one more pattern repeat on the red Wensleydale sweater. I'm slowly crawling toward the end of sock #1 of a pair of Fortissima socks. Nothing is getting done. Let us not even discuss the planned holiday knitting.

Happy Thanksgiving. I'll try to be a better blogger over the next few days.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Red Sweater Report

Two days ago, I dug through my closet and all my drawers looking for a particular sweater, a store-bought red and gray Norwegian Star patterned one. I never did find it (and I still don't have a clue where it might be), but I did realize something. I have a lot of red sweaters.

No, really. A lot.

While my parents were here, I started a new sweater from the fabulous Wensleydale Longwool yarn that I bought in England. Color? Red. I commented to Mom that in wardrobe terms, it would sure be nice if I had a practial gray or black cardigan, but everytime I'm confronted with a pile of yarn, my favorite color is red. This is a particularly nice red (with a spiffy little twist stitch pattern):

Meanwhile, I'm temporarily stalled on Carpathian Black Roses because I'm currently at the point where I have to follow the chart and remember to do armhole decreases (which are complicated because I'm not doing them as charted because I decided to use steeks instead of knitting the yoke back and forth). But, look at this, it's red too.

Since today is laundry day anyway, and the closet was still in some disarray after the Monday morning rummage for the still-missing sweater, I decided to really take stock of my red sweater situation.

The front row is my three hand-knit red sweaters (well, two sweaters and a vest). The back row (8 total) is store-bought sweaters. So, that's 11, plus 1 AWOL and 2 in progress. Maybe I need to break out of this rut?

In completely unrelated news, Trent learned that cats make lousy Dulaan sweater models.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knitting update - charity edition

I realized that the only knitting I can show you is what I've been doing for Dulaan. I'm still working on Carpathian Black Roses and Trent's fair isle sweater, but they're progressing slowly and look much like they did last time I took pictures.

On the other hand, the super-bulky Dulaan yarn means I can finish things fast. Here's the latest:

The gold one (vertical garter stitch) has made a previous blog appearance, but I think it looks much nicer with buttons, and with its little raglan friend.

I've also started mittens. Someone (hi, Lynette!) sent me a very cool book, 1001 Great Knitting Motifs. If multi-color knitting is your drug of choice, this book is like a well-connected dealer. It's got world-wide color patterns arranged by area of origin and size. I had to use it immediately, so:

I'd be tempted to keep these for myself (they match my earflap hat), but they're a little small. All four colors are handspun. I tend to accumulate a lot of handspun in small batches (a few ounces) and not use it. These four yarns represent 3 or 4 years of fiber acquisition and spinning.

The burgandy is dyed Romney purchased in Nanaimo (Vancouver Island) so long ago that I can't remember the date. I spun it on my Louet, and it's pretty darn lumpy. The white is Lincoln/Suffolk cross from a farmer on Vashon Island. Nancy and I went to sheep shearing 2 or 3 years ago, and this was the first yarn I processed and spun from those fleeces. It's lovely and shiny and strong, but (again) uneven, and I wasn't very good at Navajo plying (chained singles) yet, so there are lumps. The gray is alpaca, from Cloud Ranch alpacas and my first trip to Alpacapalooza (again, 3 or 4 years ago). It was spun pretty recently, though, (maybe this year?) and is a fine, consistent 3-ply. The fuzzy pink is alpaca/wool blend from Slug Ranch (I think) that I bought at The Fiber Gallery. It's a tad scratchy, and a little bigger than the other yarns, but it's such a fabulous color.

Now that I'm started, I only want to knit mittens. Too bad about that grading....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Recent projects: spinning edition

As I mentioned in the last post, there's been no shortage of fibery activity chez Headless Chicken. The most recent spinning results:

The first pile in that picture is the last of a spinning project for Nancy. It's two plies of hand-painted BFL (a gift from an acquaintence who decided spinning was not for her) and one ply of lovely brown wool from Reflection Farms. There are 4 more skeins of this already in Nancy's hands. It's about aran weight, I think, and turns lovely and puffy when washed, which hasn't yet happened to the pictured skeins.

Next up is some very fine alpaca. This is my latest attempt to spin lace weight. It's not exactly cobweb, but it will do. Those two little skeins in the picture above are about 500 yards. I thnk I'm going to use this for one of the Icelandic shawls in Folk Shawls, just as soon as I decide what other color of alpaca to put with it. The alpaca stash is substantial, so I have choices. (Fun fact: this is exactly the same color as my hair.)

After all that fine and carefully spun alpaca, I wanted something I could spin fast and sloppily. This is a wool/mohair blend I bought from Willow Creek Farm/Dawn's Custom Carding. (They were sharing a booth with Reflection Farms.) I'm guessing that this will bloom a bit with washing because of the mohair content. I've got 6 oz of this, and absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with the finished product. (It's all spun, but this is the only skein that's been plied.)

Also, I'm ordering another spinning wheel from Betty Roberts, this one in the apricot wood of my heart's desire.

Next: a knitting update.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Radio silence

I apologize to my [probably few] remaining readers. Things got a little nutty between the end of the academic term, a visit from my parents, and the beginning of the new term. They haven't quite calmed down yet.

My parents came to visit for a week and got typically crappy weather. First it was abnormally cold (for Seattle) and clear, then we had several days of Biblical downpour. While they were here, we:

Went to Pike Place Market
Did the Underground Tour
Drove around the UW campus
Went to a Feral Knitters meeting
Cooked many yummy dinners

And I didn't take any pictures. Not a one. Bad blogger!

Now I'm letting chaos reign again in my household, and trying to get my act together for the new term. Tomorrow I have my first meeting with a composition class with 36 students. Eep. (To those of you unfamiliar with my job situation; no, I don't have a TA to grade my papers for me, but it's cute that you asked.)

I've been spinning and knitting up a storm. I don't have pictures of that, either. I'm blaming that on the dark gloom.