Before and after

Back in March I wrote about a bowl I’d made in porcelain and decorated with a ginkgo leaf. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

In late September I participated in a wood-kiln firing and included this bowl in my share. I glazed it uniformly in “Ash Grey” and am pretty pleased with how it turned out!



Frogging my new project!

I’ve been knitting merrily along on my colorblock Lopi sweater, and yesterday afternoon I knit to about two inches below the armholes and started thinking, “I wonder if this is too large.” So this morning I put the stitches on my 52″ Denise cable and tried on the sweater. The results were comical:





Yes, I do believe that falls in the “too large” category! What happened?

I had very carefully knit and measured a gauge swatch and ended up at 3.5 stitches per inch. When I dug out my ruler this morning, though, I found that the actual sweater was coming in at 3 stitches per inch. And no, it wasn’t a matter of knitting flat vs. knitting in the round. I had knit the swatch flat, but the first section of this sweater (the gray part) was knit flat and only when I switched to the blue yarn did I start knitting in the round. When I measured this morning, both of those sections came in at 3 stitches per inch. And my sweater was sized to fit someone with a 44″ chest!

I am pretty sure I’m cursed when it comes to gauge. Whatever number I get on my gauge swatch ends up being different from the number I get on the actual knitting. This happens almost every single time. I think rulers and measuring tapes are all conspiring to gaslight me.

I have ripped out the whole thing and will start it anew tonight, this time following Ann Budd’s numbers for the 38″ sweater at the 3-stitches-per-inch gauge. I’m actually not feeling too discouraged about this. Bulky yarn knits up fast, and I really want to be sure I’m 100% pleased with the final result. So it pays to take the time to do it right!

I’ve had a motley assortment of Reynolds Lopi for several years now—multiple skeins in each of several colors, but not enough of one color to be able to make a traditional Icelandic sweater (most of those call for at least 5 skeins, usually 6 or 7). So I’m going to combine them in a way that (I hope) doesn’t result in something that looks like clown barf.

My gauge is 3.5 sts = 1”. Unfortunately, that’s not covered in Ann Budd’s book (I really wish she’d add half stitches to her tables!) so I have to do some math.

I want to make a 40” sweater, which means I should be aiming for 140 sts (3.5 sts x 40”) at the chest. The pattern charts list 140 sts as the chest measurement for the 46” size (at 3 sts = 1” gauge). So I’m just going to follow the numbers in that column!

I’m going to break the color blocks into thirds that are (I hope) the same length vertically. I’ll probably make the first color border right after the armpits, and place the second color border the same distance further down.


Here’s the color scheme I’m going with (inspired by Annamária Ötvös’ Got the Blue pullover, which I intend to knit next):

Shoulder saddles in Denim Heather
Top of body in Light Gray Heather
Middle of body Denim Heather
Bottom of body in Navy

Top of sleeve in Denim Heather
Middle of sleeve in Navy
Bottom/cuff of sleeve in Light Gray Heather


I made this!

I’ve long liked the idea of making things out of wood. And I’ve long liked Adirondack chairs. I finally got to combine both of these interests by making my own chair!


Technically, this isn’t a genuine Adirondack chair, because it has a slightly different construction that (aside from the curve at the top of the back) is made with all straight cuts. I used plans from Ana White’s book, The Handbuilt Homewhich is mostly well written except for the major measurement error for this piece that I didn’t discover until I had already cut, sanded, and painted everything and was all set to start putting it all together. (Grrrr. Yes, this was somewhat annoying.) Fortunately, I managed to find the correct measurement (not on White’s website or on her publisher’s page, though—only in comments by other frustrated woodworkers) and, after buying/cutting/sanding/painting another piece of wood, was able to assemble the chair.

I love the color (which Sylvia helped choose). And I love the mostly-upright-but-slightly angled position, which is comfortable but not so reclined that using a laptop is difficult while sitting in this chair.


In search of a recipe

During my recent trip to NYC I had a cherry lime rickey for the first time. (“What’s this ‘cherry lime rickey’ thing on the menu? I have no idea what is, but its name is way too fun for me not to try it!”)



I LOVED IT. (In fact, as carbonated beverages go, in my book it’s almost right up there with Moxie !) The ingredients are seltzer, cherry, and lime, so figuring out how to make this at home shouldn’t be difficult, right?

Well, it’s not quite that easy. Googling around has led me to tons of recipes that vary in lots of little ways. For example, some call for cherry syrup, others say to use cherry juice, and others recommend grenadine (which is weird, because technically that’s supposed to be pomegranate flavor). And don’t even get me started on the great debate between lime juice and lime syrup.

So before I go shopping for ingredients and start experimenting, I figured I’d see if anyone out there has a great recipe for a cherry lime rickey. (Bonus points if your version tastes exactly like the one at Veselka!) Anyone?





The Whale

Two friends and I are about to launch a “let’s read the classics we should have read a long time ago” project together. First up is Moby-Dick. Even though I dated a Melville scholar for a few years in grad school, I somehow managed not to read this (or any other Melville, for that matter).

It makes sense for us to read the same version of the text, so after some discussion we settled on the Norton Critical Edition (2nd ed.). I spent some time examining several other editions, too, and in light of that it’s pretty funny that Jan just happened upon this yesterday:




Grammar rules

I wonder if I should share this with my editing clients . . .



Knitting for the birds

Usually by the time some “knit [insert name of garment or item] to help out the [insert name of animal]” campaign gets widespread attention on the Internet, the organization that issued the original call for help has already reached it’s original goal. Also, some of those campaigns aren’t actually helpful. (Remember the “knit jumpers for penguins” thing? Here’s a bit of info on how that turned out. Hint: it was not a very effective way to help penguins.)

For once, I’ve managed to catch wind of one these campaigns while it’s in full swing! WildCare in San Rafael, California, is asking for knit and crocheted birds needs to help orphaned baby songbirds during baby bird season (i.e., NOW). You can submit your e-mail address here to get a link to the free pattern PDF. (They even have a Ravelry group, which was locked at the end of August when the 2014 campaign ended but will start again with the 2015 campaign.)

The FAQ is pretty interesting, especially these parts:

Is this like penguin sweaters? Do you really need nests or are you going to sell them for money?We really need nests. Our Birdroom director at WildCare says they’re like towels in a nursery, one can never have too many. Our commitment is that every single nest we receive will go to a bird rescue facility.

Why do you need so many nests?  Because bird poop happens. Nests get very dirty over the course of a day in the Birdroom. Each baby bird must be fed approximately every 45 minutes from dawn till dusk. Although the nests are lined with tissue, they still get dirty from food and poop and need to be changed. When your baby birds need to be cleaned, you just put them into a new nest and put the old one into the dirty laundry basket.



Last week we drove out to Illinois to visit my parents. They live just outside St. Louis, so every visit to their neck of the woods includes a day at the amazing City Museum. It’s an art-installation-meets-all-ages-playground sort of place.

There are climbing structures (concrete, wood, and rebar figure heavily in the construction), both inside and outside:

The outside courtyard.

The outside courtyard.

This connects to a giant, human-sized Habitrail mounted on the ceiling.

This connects to a giant, human-sized Habitrail mounted on the ceiling.

There are actually two gutted airplanes on towers on the courtyard—and one gutted school bus hanging over the edge of the ten-story roof!

There are actually two gutted airplanes on towers on the courtyard—and one gutted school bus hanging over the edge of the ten-story roof!

Heading up to an airplane wing. (Yes, you get to walk on a real airplane wing!)

Heading up to an airplane wing. (Yes, you get to walk on a real airplane wing!)

The climbing (inside and outside) is huge fun! Especially if you wear knee pads. (I am not kidding. You can buy a cheapo-but-adequate pair in the gift shop. Save your knees for only $4!)

There are also extensive “caves” (made of concrete) in the back of the first floor—most tunnels require crawling and a few are too small for more adults. (In other words, they’re a claustraphobic’s nightmare.) I didn’t take photos there because it’s really hard to capture images in a super dark place. (We usually bring headlamps when we come here, but this time we forgot.)

But I did photograph the slides! There are TONS of them at City Museum. Several are outside, like this one:

Super-fast twisty slide!

Super-fast twisty slide!

And there’s even a ten-story slide! It spans the full height of the building, which used to be a shoe factory. This slide was one of the chutes used to send stuff from the top floor down to the bottom. It’s not the fastest ride, but it’s TEN STORIES LONG so that makes it pretty cool.

Entrance to the ten-story slide!

Entrance to the ten-story slide!

There are lots of other cool things to see and do there:

It's a Ring of Death for running humans!

It’s a Ring of Death for running humans!

Funky chairs/stools/rockers that roll around. Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down!

Funky chairs/stools/rockers that roll around. Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down!

No introduction necessary.

No introduction necessary.

Now THAT'S some good alliteration.

Now THAT’S some good alliteration.

One of my favorite areas is the architectural museum. It’s of less interest to the rest of my family, so I wander through there on my own when I need a break from all the climbing.

In this section are facades and decorative elements from old buildings that were torn down in the Midwest. In some cases, the demolition crews unofficially salvaged some of the pieces; in others, official preservation efforts were made (one Ohio school district found a home for all this stuff BEFORE tearing down an old building, for example). Most of the stuff is from the Chicago School of Architecture (lots of Louis Sullivan here) and the Prairie School (e.g., George Grant Elmslie).

Just a sampling of the collection.

Just a sampling of the collection.

City Museum is an extraordinary place. St. Louis has a lot of neat stuff going on (top of the Arch, anyone?). But if you have only a few hours in the city and can visit just one place, I think it should be this one.

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