NASA Youtube = the new CSPAN

When I was a teenager, and we first moved back from Germany to the US, I remember flipping through channels and finding CSPAN. Realizing that it was a channel devoted to watching members of Congress talk to each other (remember, this is 1988 people) I just thought grownups were wierd and boring.

Now I’m the wierd, boring grownup, because I cant get enough of NASA’s Youtube chanel. Here’s the Hubble getting released from Atlantis:

Advertisements

Of Alpaca’s and Core Yarn

Last summer, Jason and I went to South Dakota, where we got to visit an alpaca ranch. It was awesome, and I bought something like 2 pounds of alpaca, straight off of an award winner named Tiera. I’m planning on spinning it once the baby is born, but since this yarn is my special snowflake, I bought some Alpaca from Rich-Nes Alpacas when I was at Stitches Midwest (4 oz of roving) last year.  I figured I’d rather test my alpaca spinning prowess on an alpaca I don’t know, than my Tiera fleece.

I spun this from the fold, since alpaca feels more slippery than most of the sheep’s wool I’ve worked with. It was an excellent method, and resulted in some nice, fluffy yarn.  I’ve been wanting to try spinning from the fold anyway, since I thought alpaca deserved a technique that created a less dense yarn. I typically spin something DK or sport weight, and this is much thicker than my usual spinning efforts, and I focused on making it look sort of “handspun-y” rather than trying to make it look balanced and perfect.

I will totally be purchasing some more roving for Rich-Nes too – the stuff is so much fun to spin, very easy and oh so pretty. I kind of just want to hug the yarn, not actually make anything out of it, because after thowing it into soak, it ended up being super soft.

Alpaca hanging on the laundry-drying thing outside.

close up

After I was done plying the alpaca, I had a little bit of yarn left over and decided to try my hand at core spinning/coil spinning. I plan to do another post on this in a bit, because I had so much fun doing it, but if you aren’t familiar, check out this example from Spin Off from Spring 2008.  I used my leftover alpaca and some of my very first spun silk hankies. I like the contrast, and don’t plan on knitting this because I really like the way it looks just sitting there – kind of like something you want to eat. Maybe someday, I’ll figure out what to do with it.

wrap & roll yarn

Anyway, more to come on that at a later date as I plan on doing this again….

Sweet Tea Alabama

As I’m getting slower and more sluggish as the baby gets bigger and more obstinate, I’ve found that some of my grand crafting plans have to get scaled back a bit – even though I have the time to sit and knit for four hours a day, I can’t do it thanks to carpal tunnel syndrone kicking in. Because of this, I’ve had to get my maker thrills from other places – making bread, cookies, spinning, etc. My goal is to make something every day – and it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be something.  The goal is less about finishing than about doing.  I think one of the important parts of making something is that you want, you enjoy and that makes you and others happy.

Which brings me to the Southern Sweet Tea, which is pretty much the ONLY way to truely drink iced tea in the world.  My mom makes iced tea, and I grew up and went on my own, I went about making iced tea according to the package directions, thinking that’s what she did. What I got was NOT what I got when I drove over to my parents house. So I finally asked how she did it, which is now the only method I use. This is the good stuff people, and in the tradition of trial and error, the measurements aren’t exact.

Step One: Fill a pot with water (2-3ish cups) and bring to a boil.

Step Two: While water is boiling, fill a pitcher with water, and dump in about 1/2 cup of sugar. (Note: the original recipe calls for a whole cup of sugar, and if you reallllly like your sugar or aren’t watching what you eat like we do, go for it. Just for the love of all that is good and holy, DO NOT use anything like splenda, sweet n’ low, etc. That is a crime reserved for unsweetened tea at restaurants).

Step 3: Take the  off the burner, and put in 4-5 tea bags*. Put a plate over the pot, and let sit for 10-15 minutes (The water won’t be cool, but it won’t be boiling hot either).  The plate, for some reason, is really important. So make sure you put it on.

Make sure you put the plate on, ok?

Step 4: Dump the tea mixture into the pitcher, stir to dissolve the sugar, and put in the refrigerator. Wait to drink until the tea gets cold (I’m serious here – do NOT try to cool it down with iced cubes. It won’t taste as good and you will be sad).

tea 3

Serve in a glass, preferably outside on a porch.

*I used either the Lipton or the Kroger “made for iced” tea variety.  Occasionally, either because I need to go to the store and am lazy, or because we want something exotic I’ll add a bag or two of something herbal, but I never make this with just herbal tea, and we all know that’s not really iced tea anyway.

Anniversary the 2nd

Wedding Day
Jason and Corrie

Today is our second anniversary. The above picture is us, two years ago, walking in to our reception to the Disco Star Wars theme (thanks so much to Sarah‘s husband Ian, who happened to have it on his iPod).  That could pretty much sum up our marriage to date – when in doubt, improvise with what you have (and have fun doing it).

We’ve had a good two years – surprising in some aspects, but good.  We’ve gone through two jobs (me), two new hobbies (spinning – me, beermaking – Jason), the loss of our big dog (Bruno), pregnancy (both of us, though admittedly, I’ve dealth with the physical stuff and Jason’s had to deal with the joy‘s of a wife in the midst of hormonal nuttiness). We redid a good portion of our house (and by “we” I mean “Jason”…I was the design consultant). We went to South Dakota and the Florida Keys, and we watched a lot of cartoons.

In short, we’ve had fun. Even when it hasn’t been fun (see pregnancy, hormones) it has been interesting, and I’m glad Jason’s the one I get to have interesting with.

Some thoughts on things while I wait for the baby to finish cooking.

It is hot. I have eaten all the popsicles in the house and the closest thing I have to a cooling popsicle is ice cubes made from orange juice. (Which aren’t bad, actually, just not as exciting as twin pops).

The Pinnacles came and went, and went off rather well, aside from an issue with my baby bump, a table and the Best in Show award. My shower came and went right after that, and my mom and aunt came to visit. The shower was nice and the visit was fun, but it’s nice to get back to a somewhat normal schedule. A few things have happened since then:

The baby’s room is, for all intents and purposes, finished. babyroom 1

babyroom2

There are a few sqonky pictures on the wall – all supplied by Jason (i.e., paintings he did that we stuck in the closet). I’d planned on doing some other paintings for the walls, but let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? I probably won’t touch the room except to dust it until the baby comes. Besides, I really do adore the little grub guy in the painting above the rocking chair.  We were originally going to put a tree mural on the wall. Then, we were going to put the tree on canvas, in case it was crappy. Now, the baby gets old paintings we didn’t like enough to put up in the first place. Welcome to your parents, Baby0!

I’m working on the baby blanket (OpEd, from Knitty).  I’m on the part where you knit 10 rounds of each color. I have like, 6 more rounds of color to go, but it just keeps getting bigger, taking longer, etc. Etc. At the moment, it looks like a giant green and brown rasta hat. I’m tempted to just bind off and put on the dog because a) its huge and b) its too hot to knit, but I really don’t want it to not get finished. blanket

And then there’s me – I’m HUUUUGE! This is why I’m so hot, and annoyed and not wanting to finish things. Pretty much, if I could just lay around all day in a sundress, drinking iced tea and getting fanned by some sort of servant, that would be just fine.  I just want the baby to make its appearance so I can stop being a  “Little Behemoth.” Then again – have you seen what Jason still makes me do while both barefoot AND pregnant???

fatty

A Minor Slump

I’m in the home stretch of a big event happening next week (AMA Omaha Pinnacles) and am starting to get my ass kicked by the final 6-7 weeks of pregnancy, so if I’m mum over the next week or so, its purely temporary. I have 8 posts lined up already to post on, and some fun crafty news. Once I get to them, more fun stuff will be happening.

Now if only laying down and napping wasn’t my desired position….

Cabled Yarn

I recently tried my hand at cabled yarn using the tutorial from the winter issue of SpinOff.  With cabled yarn, you spin the single, then run it through the spinning wheel again, ply two (or more) together the normal way you’d ply, then ply two of the plied yarns together in the direction oppisite to the way you’ve plied. (Seriously, Interweave will tell you better than me).

I really enjoyed it – though I’ve been spinning this stuff since I got pregnant. Pregnancy and I did not make good spinning partners. Not only is it nice to have something I really like from stuff I was working on for 6 months, on and off, but VERY nice to be done and on to something else.I especially like it as it doesn’t have the “barber pole” look and will probably be doing this again and again! I highly recommend it – especially if you have a roving that, when plied, may end up giving you that “barber pole” look.

cabled

What it looks like.

cabled-2I had to wait for a sunny day.

cabled-3

Obligatory close up.

On (Coming Back to) the Cosmos

I’ve been watching the Cosmos miniseries on Hulu. Had it not been for the Bad Astronomer, I probably would never have given Cosmos a second look, but after Phil posted that it was available, I started watching.  It’s not that I dislike Carl Sagan (actually, every single thing I see or hear or read, by or about him makes me like him more and more), its just that I didn’t realize how incredibly relevant the series still is, almost 30 years later.  If you haven’t seen Cosmos, I highly recommend it.

The funniest part is that in sitting down to watch an entire miniseries devoted to science, I’m learning more about something that I pretended to not be interested in for a very long time – science. When I was a kid, I liked science pretty ok — though I was much more interested in the technology side of it – like trying to teach myself BASIC – than I was in the sciencey sciences. My parents were very much into educating me about science, but it backfired a little bit because I tended to see science as the antithesis of everything else I was interested in – history and writing and art, etc.

My attitude got worse in middle school, when a) I had a string of really atrocious teachers and b) my mom got a job as a science teacher at another school – and she was DARN good at it. So I? Tried really hard not to be.

Before you ask why, let me just ask anyone in our reading audience who has ever been an 11-14 year old girl that did not immediatly try to do the opposite of what her parents did – especially her mom – did, please raise your hand. Not only did I not benefit from my mom’s in-class enthusiasm for the subject, but I gave a ton of pushback when I did get that benefit at home.

Things changed a bit when I was homeschooled for part of my senior year thanks to a bad bout of mono – my tutor was very enthusiastic and did all sorts of fun experiments. However, the minute I got to college and found out I only had to take 2 science classes for my major (art history) and I ignored all that fun I had. I backslid. Read art and poetry and took all the humanities classes I could, and pretended like science didn’t exist. (Because science is not ABOUT AHHHHHT and LIIIIIFFFEEEEE and EXISTING!)*

Over the last ten years, I started to read more and more science related books, in part because I’m a huge SF nerd, and sometimes, science books seem almost science fictiony, and in part because nonfiction is one of my favorite types of reading and two of the most appealing types of nonfiction (espcially as I hate biographies) are either science or history. I then started listening to podcasts like Skeptoid and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe as I heard about them on SF podcasts and wanted to become more science literate.

Now I find myself at home, on a Sunday evening, choosing to sit down and watch a few episodes of Cosmos.  It feels like I’m picking up where I left off around middle school and started on a trajectory.  I feel a little behind the curve when I talk about science topics, because I really am playing “catch up” from the 15(ish) years I pretended science was passe, but I figure the more I talk about it, the less stupid I’ll feel.

*I was 18. Let’s try not to chortle too much at my pretentiousness.

To plan or to play?

Lately I’ve come to see knitting and spinning as something for which I do not want to use a plan. By “plan” I mean, I’ve frequently had the following conversation in yarn stores:

You: “Great yarn – what do you plan to make with it?”

Me: “Buhhhhhhhh…..I dunno”

I buy yarn because I like the way it looks, or I’ve wanted to work with it, and I can tell you that the number of times I’ve bought specific yarn for a project and it has ended up as what I intended it to be is a total of 2 projects.  Everything else has ended up being something else entirely. Sometimes I see it as failure. Like “Oh…..remember when I really thought I was going to make (and wear) the small gauge linen nightgown from Mason Dixon knitting? HAHAHAHAHAHA.” Most of the time, I see it as opportunity – I’m not stuck with an unchangable list of projects from which I will not (or cannot) deviate. I’m free to pursue what interests me at the time.

For the last two nights, I’ve been leafing through old magazines, trying to find something to spark my brain to knit. I finally found something last night, and have the *perfect* yarn for it. This particular yarn has sat in my stash for about 3 years, and now I know what I want to do with it! Triumph – and if it doesn’t work, then back in the stash it goes.

I particularly like this because it encourages me to play with my materials (something that Brenda from CastOn talks about frequently) – if I want to use up some yarn trying to figure out how to make a lace table runner, I can, without worrying that it should be going to something “useful.” I’m pretty confident that at some point, the 7 swatches I’ve made will be turned into something.

What, I don’t know — figuring it out is the fun part.