A Good Yarn

Sunday, August 31, 2008

End of Summer

I know it's not officially the end of summer yet, but Labor Day weekend always feels like the end of summer - the State Fair closes, school starts, football starts for real and the days are getting shorter and cooler. I love fall and I'm excited about it, but I'm also a little sad because this summer just zipped by and I don't feel like I made the most of it.

Another sure sign of the end of summer - the end of Summer of Socks. I finished up my second pair:

Project Name: Silk and Cashmere Ankle Socks
Pattern Source: Handmaiden Website
Yarn: Handmaiden 4 Ply Silk Cashmere in Sangria Colorway
Yarn Source: Simply Socks Yarn Company
Date Started: 7/27/08
Date Completed: 8/28/08

Comments: These are so incredibly soft and warm! I started with the pattern linked above, but I decided to skip the yarnovers on the edge and just do ribbing. Then I decided to carry the ribbing all the way down the top of the foot. This yarn has very little elasticity because neither silk nor cashmere do, so it probably won't stay huggy ribby very long, but I do like how it fits. After I finished the socks, I still had a ton of yarn left, so I undid the cast on and knit another inch on the legs, so the middle of the legs shift 1/2 a stitch. I still had yarn leftover at the end, so I probably should have just knit toe up socks, but at only 170m, I didn't think I'd have that much yarn. This is a gorgeous, special yarn and I'd definitely buy it again for a special project.

I had hoped to knit three pair of socks, but since it usually takes me about a month to knit a pair of socks, 2.5 pairs is about right for the time period. I'm also almost done with the first sock of my Obama Veterans knitting socks.

I also did a little beading. As I mentioned before, I got the Kit of the Month club from The Bead Monkey for my friend Florence for Hannukah last year and we try to get together periodically to do our kits together. Here's the latest:

Once again, it's really hard to get a good picture of your own wrist. There's a better picture of the kit at the link above. This project looks deceptively simple, but it's actually a bit complicated to keep the wires straight so you get the pattern right, without it looking like a big mess of wire. I finally got a system going and once I figure that out, it went pretty quickly. We also worked on another project, but that one required some time to set, so I'll show that one once we get it all finished.

I saw this film this weekend:

I always feel like I have to start reviews of Woody Allen films by saying I'm a huge fan. He seems to be one of those directors who either appeals to you or he doesn't and he definitely is one of my favorites. By the same token, I should also say that I don't like ScarJo. Obama supporter or not, she annoys me whenever I see her on film. I do think she's less annoying in Woody's films, which is good since she seems to be his muse these days. I still think she's a wooden actress and her performance in this film was no exception. She plays Cristina, an American in Barcelona with her best friend, Vicky. Cristina is an artsy, free-thinking woman who is always vaguely dissatisfied and searching for something better, especially in the love department. Vicky is her opposite in all ways, visually and temperamentally. Vicky is decisive and knows exactly what she wants and has her whole future, including her impending marriage to Doug, mapped out. Vicky and Cristina meet Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem at his most sexy and sultry, a Spanish artist known for his tempestuous relationship and divorce from his ex-wife, Maria Elena, played by Penelope Cruz. With a cast like that, there's a lot of sexy on the screen and your eyes just drink it in. The story of how these people interact and what they're looking for in love and in life is really interesting. It's not a laugh a minute and it's not earth shaking drama, but it's really well made and I loved spending every minute with this group.

I also finished up a book:

A friend of mine read this book for book club and now that I'm living the cubicle/office life, it sounded intriguing. I'm so glad I picked it up. It's about a group of people who work at an advertising agency that is slowly going down the tubes. It takes place in 2001, before 9/11, and everyone is gripped by the fear that they're going to be the next one laid off (which they call "Walking Spanish down the hall, from a Tom Waits song). The book is narrated in a first person plural voice - meaning it's not one person telling the story, but the whole group. It's an interesting device and I really thought it worked well. The book starts off very light and very funny - I could definitely see my coworkers and our office life in the characters and action. It gradually gets a little darker and more serious and there's a big shift toward the middle, where the middle section changes to one person's story. Then the last portion goes back to the third person plural narration and office story, but things aren't so light and funny any more. It's really different and I really enjoyed it. Even though the story is told through the voice of the collective, you get to know each of the people that work in the office, too, and they seem very real. The details are all spot on and really stay with you. If you've ever worked in an office, I really think you'd enjoy this book.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Catching Up

Oh good heavens! I didn't realize how long it's been since my last blog entry, until I sat down to see where I last left off. This summer is speeding by so quickly!! What have I been up to since then? Finished up with the Fringe Festival. I saw some more really great shows and a couple of groaners. I thought I'd really miss not having the ultrapass this year, but I still saw 15 shows and that felt pretty ok. So, maybe next year I'll skip the ultrapass again. I believe the Fringe starts the day after I return from my big trip, so I probably won't feel much like running around town anyway.

I saw Keb' Mo' again. He was just as silky smooth as I remembered. Such an attractive, talented guy. The show was at the MN Zoo Ampitheater and I may be getting too old for that venue. There was an opening act and after three hours with no support, my back was killing me. It's so pretty and the sound is so good, though.

I spent the rest of that weekend at the Irish Fair. It was such a gorgeous weekend, just perfect! I worked a couple of the ticket booths, but most of my time was spent in the volunteer tent, helping coordinate all the volunteers, so I had plenty of time for knitting and whipped up these washcloths for the Knitters for Obama drive:

I went out to the State Fair and enjoyed all of the gorgeous work on display there. As I do every year, I vowed to learn how to do rughooking because I love those pieces. I managed to not buy any yarn there this year, but I did get my annual pair of fleece lined slippers, so I'm all ready for the cool weather now.

I did get this yarn in the mail:

It's another Obama fundraising yarn (100% of the profits go to the Obama campaign) from C*eye*ber Fiber. This colorway is called Fired Up and it's gorgeous!!

I saw a couple of movies, too:

I was disappointed in this one. I am a huge Will Ferrell fan and I even liked Semi-Pro, but this one was just not that good. There were some funny moments, and I do have to admit I was in a theater with only a couple of other people and they weren't laughing, so if there had been more people there laughing it up or if I had been alone and could have felt more comfortable just laughing out loud whenever, I may have done so. As you've probably heard by now, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play 40 year old men who are still living at home - Will with his mom and John with his dad. The mom and dad get married, so the two men have to live together and blended families are even more difficult with men who suffer arrested development, I suppose. Since I'm 40 myself, I just had little patience for two characters who were so annoying and ridiculous. The laughs weren't that huge and the ending was played much more straight and cheesy than one would expect from the first half of the movie. I'd say rent it if you love Ferrell, but otherwise, don't bother.

I liked this film much more:

This is a French thriller based on a mystery novel by Harlan Coben, an American author. I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure how different they are, but the film is really well done. It was really suspenseful and kept me guessing all the way to the end. It really has the feel of a Hitchcock film, so if you're a fan of that type of film, you must see this. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, so I'll just say it's about a pediatrician whose wife is killed one night while they're at their lake house. Eight years later, new evidence surfaces that may implicate the doctor in his wife's murder and he starts to wonder if she is even dead at all.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Making Progress/Fringing

I started another pair of socks for Summer of Socks:

I wanted something a little more quick to knit up this time, so these are in a sport-weight yarn on size US2.5 needles. And they're ankle socks. Because I only have one skein - Handmaiden Silk and Cashmere. Oh, it's lovely, lovely stuff. So soft and pretty. But way too expensive to make full sized legs. So far, I'm enjoying it immensely.

I also am making progress on my Mr. Greenjeans sweater:

I'm a little worried about the fit on this one. I know, it's a top down knit, how could I not have tried it on a million times to make sure it was just right as I went along? Because I'm lazy, that's why. I tried it on a few times and just ignored that little voice in my head. Which I'm going to continue to do. Yes, I am an idiot. The proportions look ok in that photo, but on me, the cabled rib section starts too low. I am pretty long waisted, so I should have stopped the stockinette and started the cable rib earlier. Oh well, we'll see how it looks when it's all done. I started the first sleeve. This is a little hard to knit right now because it's so dang hot in my house and it's a very hot and heavy piece of knitting to have sitting on my lap.

I forgot to mention last time that I saw this guy in concert again:

As always, he and the Heartbreakers put on a great show. They've been around for over 30 years and it's amazing how many hits they've had during that time. And they seem to still like playing those songs. The crowd was really into it too. I kind of liked the lighting/displays they did. There was a big cone-shaped video display and some big screens across the top of the stage and a lot of different videos and lights throughout. It was just kind of interesting. If you're into that kind of thing, here's the setlist:

1. You Wreck Me
2. Listen to Her Heart
3. I Won’t Back Down
4. Even the Losers
5. Free Fallin
6. Mary Jane
7. End of the Line (Traveling Wilburys)
8. Breakdown
9. Saving Grace
10. A Face in the Crowd
11. Honey Bee
12. Learning to Fly
13. Don’t Come Around Here No more.
14. Refugee

ENCORE 15. Runnin’ Down a Dream
16. Gloria (Van Morrison)
17. American Girl.

The Fringe Festival has started again, so I've been spending most of my free time on that since Thursday. I didn't get an Ultrapass this year because next week I've got a lot of other stuff going on, so I'll only be seeing about half the number of shows I saw last year. I still highly recommend you check out a show or two if you have any interst in live theater at all. Here's what I've seen so far:

Boys Don't Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses
This is a two-person show by two perennial Fringe favorites - Laura Bidgood and Curt Lund. They stand behind a music stand and tell stories, sometimes together and sometimes individually. This year's show is about what is it means to be a nerd, especially in the romance department. As always, very funny and relatable.

An Intimate Evening with Fotis: Part Two
The sequel to Mike Fotis' one-man show last year. He sits at a table and reads stories of his life in a forceful, rapid-fire style. So, so funny. This year I felt like he was talking about my life. One story was about his deep fear of bats, another his love of Tom Petty's music and the last was about the power of his blogging to mete out social justice.

Tipping the Bucket
This is a one-woman show, by another Fringe Favorite, Allegra Lingo. This year's show is about her search for spiritual meaning and eventual conversion to Catholicism, even though she's a lesbian. As always, she's a great storyteller and her pacing and the movements and music she includes in the show are very well-done, I had a hard time connecting to the material.

An Inconvenient Squirrel
My old favorite, Joe Scrimshaw. I've sung his praises often enough in this space that it's probably no surprise to hear that I loved this show. What is surprising, is that I also found it not only funny, but completely charming. This is a family show and the kids in the audience I saw it with loved it. It's about how the squirrels have names that reflect who they are and how one squirrel isn't sure exactly who he is, so he doesn't want to be labeled just yet. The lead squirrel is played by frequent Scrimshaw collaborator, Tim Uren. Joe plays a number of other squirrels, with my favorite being Thespian Squirrel. Dan Rooney also gives a fantastic performance as Socially Awkward Squirrel. I'd love to take my nephew to see this one.

This is a one-man show, but it's not storytelling, it's a play with Andrew Connor playing all of the parts. Connor is half of The Cody Rivers Show, a troop I just loved last year and am looking forward to seeing again tonight. Connor's work in this show is amazing. It's a sharply written satire commenting on how our government is selling out to corporate interests and how devastating it is for our community and its citizens. But it's also really funny. Connor's performance is as good as his writing. The way he quickly moves from one character to the next, making each one distinct and fully realized is a sight to behold. He obviously isn't making any makeup or costume changes, but I could literally SEE the difference between the characters.

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