11 April 2011

RIP problem children

several projects have been in and out of hibernation for longer than i like to admit. the last month i grabbed the bull by the horns and evaluated each of them, attempted solutions and made a final decision. sadly, many of them jumped in the frog pond.

sunshine socks

after several attempts at making a heel big enough for my feet that didn't stretch the cables beyond recognition, i reported success. that was what the knitting trolls were waiting for. the foot finally fit perfectly - and the leg is way too short. by inches, plural. more than 3.

sunshine vs. anastacia

here compared with a sock in the same yarn, a sock that i tug on all day because it's just a little too short. that pair had an accidental trip through the washer and dryer that i blamed for the shortage. turns out shibui doesn't have the most generous yardage. and it was on the way to being one of my favoritest sock yarns.


the sunshine yarn will eventually grow up to be a very plain pair of socks, knit toe up to maximize every inch. and some day when the sting has faded, i'll dig in the stash for some other sock yarn with more yardage for that cabled pattern. because, unbelievably, i still like both of them. they just weren't meant to be together.

gryphon socks

these socks have also gone the way of the dodo. the pattern has an intriguing construction - and a nipple pucker on the heel.

gryphon socks: heel

the linen stitch on the sole uses more yarn than a stockinette sole, and despite buying the recommended yarn, there's not much yardage left for the leg......after several incarnations in which the heel never fit quite right, i still got a very short sock. this yarn is in the same boat as the sunshine yarn. it will grow up into a very plain, toe up sock, hopefully with a decent leg length. the pattern will be abandoned to the four winds to survive on its own.

tahoe sweater

this sweater was a fast knit, with a painfully slow finishing process. in the year (exactly! how did i do that?) since completion, i've worn it about 5 times around the house and that's it. it suffers from pattern and user issues, despite its innocent look.


the pattern has a loose and drapey gauge, with swingy sleeves. i measured the schematic against a cotton shirt of the same style, that i like and wear often. lesson: what works in cotton does not necessarily work in yarn. those sleeves were soooo annoying, and got folded over about 4 inches the few times i wore the sweater. i worked the button bands a few times to get the stitches evenly distributed. laying flat, they look fine but once on they pull up like an upside down V. while i like the lilac color of the yarn, it turns out to be a bit hard to match with shirts and would be happier as a pullover.

the yarn itself (elann incense) is wonderful and cozy to wear. it even tolerated ripping better than i expected. due to the gauge, the yardage is less than standard for pullovers in my size. enter the fall edition of interweave knits and the cover sweater, a brioche rib pullover in the exact same colors and matching yardage. once the yarn (and my ego) have rested for a few months, i should have a pullover to show off.

chuck, of course, thinks i'm crazy for ripping anything out, and even more for demolishing a completed sweater. it was a wonderful feeling to accept that those projects weren't working and stop them from smirking at me from the workbasket. now i have yarn for three new projects, free of charge. hopefully they we will be happier in their next incarnations.

09 April 2011

uglies pretties and specials by scott westerfeld


uglies starts off in an interesting post-apocalyptic setting. the explanation of the "past" is a bit self-consciously simplistic, more suited to an elementary audience than a teen one. the story line is fairly fast-paced, although several parts are easily guessed ahead of time. as i said in the review for the grimm legacy, one of the main plot devices is poor communication. that really gets old by the end of the book. normal adolescent problems of coming of age, thinking for oneself, understanding and rebelling against authority provide more conflict and tension, which mostly overcomes the poor communication issue. uglies was still an engaging, fast read overall.


the follow up to uglies seems a bit more mature, although there's some rinse and repeat with a very similar story line. everything was laid on thicker than the first book - the main character feels responsible to save EVERYBODY she comes in contact with. the main character is innovative and brave, but keeps getting her mind physically rewired and i've started to feel some sympathy for her -i suspect she will never be normal and happy. despite basing conflicts on civilization vs. nature, scott westerfeld doesn't really know what to do with his pretties outside the city. the ending was disappointing, and very reminiscent of hollywood's inability to deal with a happy couple. i suppose pretties was still fast and engaging. my disgust didn't surface strongly until the last page. there's only one book left in the trilogy - i will probably read it, but i won't like it :)

specials (warning: minor spoiler)

by the end of this book, all the underlying themes were impossible to explain away as accidental. there's a strong female character, manipulated by everyone, and guilt ridden. she feels responsible for other people's choices - her best friend accuses her of thinking she's the center of universe. and she must, because everything is her fault. some things are, most are not, as other people chose how to act and react on their own. there is some maturing over the 3 books yet the ending is still characterized by crappy communication. it ends with a sort of 'let's not talk to the people about how they're changing and positive choices they could make, let's go hide in the woods and attack them if they do something i don't like' scene. all i could think was oh, brother. that sure is the way to change the world.


i doubt that i will reread any of these books. i read more to see what quirks would pop up in the futuristic setting than because i cared about the characters. unfortunately, most of the devices used by the author to keep the story going were very irritating, but i suppose it could get a good discussion going on how not to solve problems. the trilogy was at least interesting when it couldn't be excellent.

08 April 2011

i am number four

a few weeks ago during spring break, chuck and i took advantage of an afternoon off for a date. spring break is early here, and grossly misnamed as it's about 2 months before proper alaskan springtime. chuck ended up training for his summer job most of the week rather than being free as we hoped, so the afternoon off was appreciated.

for our date, we ignored the checkbook and went to the movies to see i am number four. it was a good film, not as underdeveloped as many films aimed at teens. there was an obligatory teen drinking party scene, luckily brief. those scenes make me wonder about my serious lack of social interaction in high school. do teens really drink that much? when discussing the film afterward, there were several points we were curious about that were unexplained, but i prefer the mystery to lame explanations. apparently, the movie is based on a book which i will look up to see how they compare. book explanations don't always translate well to visual mediums. the movie has potential for a good story, which i'm hoping to find in the book. the storyline was decent, with action scenes, some mystery, and some love. the ending was complete in itself but is open for sequels. good entertainment for an afternoon, although i'm not sure it passes the test of ending up on my shelf. i'm more interested in finding the book than watching the movie again.

also noticed on our way out that hoodwinked has a sequel coming out soon! hopefully it will be just as fun as the first movie......

07 April 2011

my favorite peanut butter

when i was a kid, we got foodstamps and welfare peanut butter. the peanut butter was solid stuff that split into chunks and refused to spread smoothly on bread. if it wasn't spread just so, it would tear holes in our whole wheat bread (note: it was not the wimpy wonder bread). it was The Most Awesome Stuff. In. The. World. it tasted like pure peanuts, the inside of a reese's peanut butter cup. my whole life i've wished i could somehow finagle just one more bucket of that peanut butter. even the natural PB in the store isn't quite right.

in my homemade experiments i've come across recipes for making your own peanut butter. some of them call for just peanuts, some add a bit of oil, others a bit of honey. months ago i tried one and wasn't quite satisfied with the results. then one day, going through the cupboards, i grabbed an open can of roasted peanuts and thought 'what the heck.' i pulled out the food processor, determined to grind those peanuts as long as necessary to get real peanut butter.

5 minutes later i was done.


it splits off in chunks. it didn't rip holes in the toast i tested it on, but it does taste very close to that welfare peanut butter of my dreams. guess i don't have to get on government aid to have perfect peanut butter.

how to make your own welfare peanut butter:

grab some peanuts. throw them in the food processor and turn it on. the nuts get ground up, then form a lump. it's not done yet. keep it going and the natural peanut oil will release and the lump smooths out into peanut butter. test your peanut butter on some toast or an old-fashioned PBJ sandwich. close your eyes and enjoy.