Gutting Pumpkins

For some reason, the pumpkins that got carved on Sunday rotted by Wednesday. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen. But, to help the five-year-old feel better, we carved a new one today. The one that rotted was Good Cop/ Bad Cop from The Lego Movie, so we replaced him with Lord Business.

I was in charge of scooping the insides out. I think that might actually be my favorite part of carving the pumpkin. Except this pumpkin had a non-existent stem to pull the lid off with.

Luckily this house is full of wine bottles and cork screws. Best makeshift stem ever. And of course we had to cook his guts once they were removed.

And we ate them all within the afternoon. While those cooked, the five-year-old “helped” me carve the face. As in he held the knife while I actually did the cutting. But he tried to do it on his own a couple times. That’s just a really difficult (and dangerous!) thing for him to do on his own.

In the end, we have Lord Business as he was falling into the pit. That happened in the movie, right? I’ve seen the blasted thing at least five times and can barely remember anything past MilhouseĀ and quoting Batman’s “I only work in black. And sometimes very, very dark grey.”

Happy Halloween, Everybody!

The Secret to Finishing Your Knits

And by finishing, I don’t mean knitting it. That’s the easy, fun part. No, I mean weaving in those inevitable ends sticking out all over the place. That isn’t fun. You know what is even less fun? Having over 800 ends to weave in (because each square has two ends to weave.

I tried handing off the squares for weaving, but that only got so many of them done. And I’m not about to put literally every other project on hold while I constantly weave in tiny ends. Not going to happen. So instead I’ve taken my project bag and filled it with squares, my needle tin, and a pair of scissors to toss in my bag on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I babysit at a house other than the one I live in, so I don’t have anything but what I bring in my bag to do while the little guy sleeps for an hour or so after the park.

This has forced me to finish these for two reasons: 1)I have nothing else to do while I’m there, and 2)My project bag is already full of squares which makes it less likely I will empty it to put a more interesting project in there. Hopefully all this means I will be finished with these squares by next week to get a final tally on how many squares I really created. Plus, then I get to move on to making them into blankets and giving the blankets aways so this project is no longer sitting around everywhere taunting me to get it finished.

Bit By The Socktober Bug

I had a post all ready to go to tell you about my little sock starters that are only toes. But I obviously can’t post that one because (if you’ve been following along on Twitter) it’s obvious that these are not just toes anymore.

This is where I was on Tuesday, when I started the original post and

this is where I was the next day. I honestly didn’t know I would get that far, but now I can see why so many people are addicted to the sock knitting. It goes so fast and starts looking like recognizable things very very quickly.

See, it was really strange that I wasn’t a sock knitter. I have an extensive collection of socks, but only one pair I had made myself. And I’ve been knitting for over ten years! Ok, I have knit quite a few socks (you can see some of them here), but they aren’t all for me. Every knitter’s plight, eh?

So this time I’m winging it…kind of. I have Wendy Bernard’s excellent guide, Custom Knits Accessories, for basic guidance. But I’m doing these toe up rather than the top down example in the book, so everything goes backward. Plus I’m just putting it on my foot to check measurement instead of actually measuring anything. Makes it go a whole lot faster. Well, except for having to take of my shoe and socks multiple times at jiujitsu Tuesday, but that’s a completely different story…

Aside from weaving in the ends (which will probably take me another two months to get around to because…meh), I think these might be done tonight. I’m so close, I can feel it! And for the first time in my life I will have made a pair of socks in October for Socktober. Yippee!

Airplanes!

You can go to most airports to watch planes taking off and landing. There is always some place along the roads that run beside them where the runways are visible. But the Van Nuys Airport actually encourages visitors to stay a while and watch the airplanes coming and going.

Located adjacent to both the runways and the helicopter yard, this observation area allows aviation enthusiasts (especially of the young variety) a safe, up-close look at smaller aircraft (mostly personal planes and private jets). There are picnic tables and benches to sit on, and a map of the airport has been painted on the ground where kids can pretend they are taking off from the runway.

Speaking of kids, the two-year-olds love it. So much that I took little bear there twice last week. Some of the jets can get a little loud, but mostly everything is too exciting to be scary. That, and hugs help. You can even see the Amtrak trains go by in the distance!

Note: If you are trying to find it, the access road is what looks to be an alley off of Woodley on the south side of the fire station. The road only goes west and dead ends at the parking lot/ airport fence. It’s open 8am to sunset every day and is free to enter, free to park. Just be aware that there are no bathrooms, especially if you are visiting with potty-training children!

Adventures in Grafting

I often see knitters who have a general disdain for grafting, or Kitchner stitch. I don’t know why. I love how it makes it easier to make things in the shape you want. Take these dishcloths, for example

I tried three times to get them square by working them corner to corner, but the knit corners were always rounded and the final corner always ended up way too long. Finally I just decided to work two halves at a time, making two triangles that I then grafted together. Perfect squares every time.

Here I’m going to take a little bunny trail to give you the basic formula:

Basic Diagonal Dischloth

Materials

  • 100% cotton yarn (I use Peaches and Cream from Michaels because it is readily available and feels nice on my fingers)
  • Size 7 or 8 knitting needles (preferably circular, but you can use whatever you can find)
  • Yarn needle

Instructions

  1. Cast on two sets of three stitches (either working from different ends of the same ball of yarn or two different balls). From now on, instructions are written once to be done on each set of stitches.
  2. Knit row
  3. Knit one, make one, knit one, make one, knit one
  4. Knit row
  5. (RS)Knit two, yarn over, knit to last two stitches, yarn over, knit two
  6. (WS)Knit two, purl to last two stitches, knit two
  7. Repeat last two rows until sides measure as long as you want them. I use my hand and make the sides reach from my wrist to the end of my middle finger. You can decide how long you want yours to be. End on RS row. Graft together with WS facing in. This is where having them on circular needles will help, but you can always transfer one side to the empty needle if using straight needles.

    This next one takes the grafting to the next level, though. I started on each point and made diamonds. Or at least aimed to make diamonds. I ran out of the self-striping yarn, so I continued on from that point as if I were making a regular two-sided square. Then I connected those two pieces, and grafted the outside pieces to the straight edges.

    I’m really liking the options making things in pieces gives me. I’ve always tried to make everything in as few pieces as possible, but perhaps having a little more flexibility makes the extra work in putting it all together at the end worth it.

Go Get Your Cake

Alexz Johnson’s new album, Let ‘Em Eat Cake, is out now, and it is amazing. Today is the official release date, but I’ve had it on my iPod for a week thanks to the wonders of PledgeMusic exclusives. You can also hear the whole album (not in order) in this youtube playlist:

Overall Impression:

This album flows really nicely, both in order and on shuffle. There is a nice cohesion to the sounds, styles, and overall production of every song in the album. I feel a jazz/blues style vibe under the alt-rock stylings. Or perhaps it is an alt-rock vibe under the jazz/blues stylings. Sometimes I’m not so good at the categorization of music.

The other thing I like about this album is that it feels like it picks up at the end of the Heart EP, which feels like it picks up at the and of Skipping Stone, which feels like ti picks up…well, you get the picture by now. It’s not that it sounds like her other albums, more like it sounds like there is a progression through her music. Like you can hear her growth as an artist through each subsequent collection of songs. I always like that as opposed to some groups/artists who go from one thing to something completely different in a jarring kind of jump. Perhaps I just like the process of it all.

Track Breakdown:

  1. Heart Like That
  2. I love the stripped-down, yet layered, production of the opening track. Perfect way to kick this all off.
    Favorite line:Sad to see you go / But not for long though

  3. Let ‘Em Eat Cake
  4. The title track makes me think of perhaps a cross between CCR and Fleetwood Mac. I may be way off on that one, though. Either way, love the driving kick-drum beat.
    Favorite Line:Leave it be, I’m not yours and you don’t belong to me

  5. Cologne
    This one has a great pleading sound in the guitar that mimics the pleading in the lyrics. Gives it a nice, haunting quality.
    Favorite Line: I do regret / I knew it all along / Can I get a bit of your cologne?

  6. Gonna Get It
    This one is a re-produced version of a song from 2010’s Voodoo and it is one of my favorite songs off that album. Ok, it’s hard for me to actually pick favorites off that album because I love them all, but still. I love this version just as much as the one I’ve been singing along to for the past four years.
    Favorite Line: Oh no won’t let it go / Give it up won’t take my soul

  7. That Pain
  8. A nice follow-up to Gonna Get It, this one centers the energy again (if that makes sense). Kind of like Gonna Get It is how you feel in the middle of a situation and this song is the aftermath when you realize everything is going to fall into place.
    Favorite Line: My heart / Knows me better than I know myself / Washing words clean from my mouth

  9. Heart Turns Black
  10. The slow build up at the beginning to the mini-explosion of the first chorus and then the addition of more layers in the second verse lends a bit of a frenetic feel to this song. Which goes great both with the lyrics and the placement of this song in the album order.
    Favorite Line: I choose to run / But the lines all fade / I’ve become someone / I can’t even face

  11. Tears of a Dragon
  12. This is most definitely the comeback song after Heart Turns Black. The far-away sound makes me think of a movie scene where the character is sinking into the ocean and then their eyes open, kind of right before they realize they need to fight to survive. It could also have to do with the “rise of the ocean” line in there, too.
    Favorite Line: It’s hard to see it even right before my eyes / I can’t explain with the sun setting in the sky

  13. Ruthless Love
  14. It’s like a ballad for those relationships that are doomed from the beginning but just can’t be helped. Love the drums on this one. Adds to that “ruthless” feeling.
    Favorite Line: But like the spin of the world / Butterflies you can’t ignore / We never see the oceans end

  15. I Will Fall In Love
  16. The resolution of the album, hope is restored and the music is appropriately hopeful. The “phoenix rising from the ashes” song. It’s a great mix of hopefulness and a bit of apprehension.
    Favorite Line: Chains are falling off / I am letting go / Instead of holding on / I will fall in love

This album was well worth the wait. It was very well written and produced. A lot of artists these days seem to try to get more music out there as quickly as possible, but true artistry sometimes takes time. Not so say every band that puts out an album a year is bad or careless about their music, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to hear the time and effort that has gone into a project like this.

I Love Yarn Day

Though it might be every day for me, tomorrow is apparently “I Love Yarn Day”. According to the Craft Yarn Council, this day happens on the second Friday of October. They even have a website where you can find local celebrations. Most of these seem to come in the form of a flash mob. I have no idea what a yarn flash mob would be, but it does sound interesting.

They also suggest ways to celebrate on your own, such as knitting/crocheting in public, wearing something knit, gifting yarn, making things for charity, etc. Basically, do something yarny. And pretend that was a real word.

I will probably celebrate by looking at my current project

IMG_0961.JPG

as I walk past when getting up in the morning because I am spending my weekend up to my elbows in small children. But maybe I will get into the spirit by wearing a headband or barrette. Because, you know, it’s still 90° here like it’s not the second Friday of October.