Saturday, April 30, 2011


A friend gave me this Mosaic Moon roving (merino in the "Midsummer's Eve" colorway) a month or two ago.  I spun it up:
My idea was to divide the roving into two parts, and spin them in such a way that the color sequence stayed in sequence for each half, so that when plied they would roughly match and there would not be rampant barber-poling.  I was unsuccessful:
Whether because the roving had different amounts of green and pink at the places I divided, or because I miscalcluated, the ethereal color progression I was hoping for did not keep up after the first bit of green with green.  So, I don't think this will make a good shawl.  Maybe a baby jacket.  It's about 320 yards of sportweight.
I'm not disappointed, actually -- I've spun yarn like this before.  It's fun and colorful.  But for the look I was envisioning I think I would have to be much more scientific in the spinning process.  More scientific than I am willing to be.  For starters, I'd have to get a scale to weigh the wool before dividing it.

So -- how about that royal wedding?  Specially composed music by John Rutter, maple trees in Westminster Abbey -- it was like church music geek heaven.  And the dress was pretty too.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Beast; or, An Attempt to Regain my Quilting Mojo

Meet the 10-foot-long elephant in the family room.  It is a Viking Megaquilter on a Next Generation frame, and theoretically it is there to help me finish lots of quilts and maybe even (someday) finish enough quilts to sell and make money.  Grandma (my mother-in-law) generously provided for its purchase three years ago -- of course, she would like me to finish a few of her quilts, too.  And I have, 3 or 4.  But there is a special quilt she wants me to do on it, and in the past year (or longer, actually) it has remained, sadly neglected, while I have quilted zipzeronada quilts on the Beast.  The last finished quilt was the Cedar Tree auction quilt from last year about this time, and it was an "obligation" quilt too.  So, to overcome the malaise of no finished quilts and large amounts of quilt guilt, and to rise to the challenge I issued to myself, I am determined to start quilting - and finish quilting - the Shirt Stripe Boxes quilt top I recently finished piecing.

I had to dust the entire Beast, oil the machine, re-learn how to load the three rails (top rail is for backing, middle for top, bottom for batting), re-adjust the tension, get the ratchets to work right (they're always stiff and hard to work, especially when they've been sulking for a year), wind a bunch of bobbins and choose a stitch pattern that is within my limited abilities.  I actually have reasonably good machine quilting abilities, but they're very rusty.  And though I like the ability of the Beast to finish quilts expeditiously, it is a midarm and not a longarm and there are some patterns it is unwise to attempt on it because it doesn't have the range.  I also am a very wobbly quilter on it -- I do a little better at a traditional machine where my hands actually touch the quilt.  And I'm not making any claim to being one of those "art" quilters.
So, I decided on a crosshatching free-motion ziggy-zaggy kind of pattern, each unit done over a 1 1/2" square (the squares on this quilt are 3, 6, and 9 inches).  It's a fairly forgiving pattern and I should be able to stay reasonably consistent over the whole surface of the quilt.  And a good thing, too, because I'm committed now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grandma quilts

Grandma has been quilting lots more than me again.  She brought over these two for me to pin on Easter Sunday.  So, after putting away the remains of the ham (my little scientist from last post looked at the bone and shook her head sadly, saying, "poor pig!") I laid them out and pinned them.  She'll have them ready to tie over the next few weeks.  I understand there are plenty more tops under the beds at their place.  
 They're both fairly small; the first is a lap quilt, the second is probably a small twin-size.

I pieced together enough shirt leftovers for backing for my shirtstripe boxes quilt top.  I'll try to load it onto the machine and blog about that in the near future. 
My oldest had me check out today.  I'm not sure what to think.  It's either a legitimate exercise in artificial intelligence, or an insidious attempt to undermine our perceptions of reality.  Either way, it's a huge waste of time, and since it only gets input from its interactions with human users, it can be pretty dicey.  I tried evangelizing it -- it started it, honest.  I was typing stuff in about teaching Latin and gerunds, and it wanted to know about God and whether life was pointless.  So, I don't know -- if hundreds of users swamped it with input from the Bible, could it be converted to some kind of warped version of Christianity?  Would it start witnessing in turn to other users?  The internet is a weird place sometimes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stash Enhancement

The bad economy is my gain, once again.  So many of my favorite shops have been going out of business.  This time it's Woodland Woolworks -- I've never been to their physical store, but they have been my primary supplier of fiber for several years now.  I just don't spin enough on my own to keep anyone in business.  But I did take advantage of their 25% discount to stock up on some things I needed, and some things that would otherwise be luxuries.  Clockwise from top left:
  • 8 oz. of natural hemp sliver
  • 2.5 lb. of superwash Colonial wool, destined to be dyed orange for my sister's sweater
  • 1 lb. of Wensleydale Longwool top
  • 2 oz. of Tussah silk top in "Hallie's Berries" colorway
  • 4 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester from Frabjous Fibers in "Atlantis"
  • 4 oz of Targhee from Sweet Grass Wool in "Ladyfern"
Closeup of the Atlantis:

It should keep me spinning for awhile.  Of course, I still have a stash of older stuff.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Science Project

My favorite 5th grader did her science fair project on daffodils.  She learned the parts of a daffodil and a little about how it works.  We put daffodils in water that had food coloring added to it: red and blue, and one daffodil in half of each.  Interestingly, the parts affected by the red food coloring dried out faster than the control, and the ones in blue actually stayed fresh a little longer.

She had to make a hypothesis about what would happen.  She thought the flowers would stay the same; her 3rd grade sister thought the flowers in half each red and blue would turn purple.  Actually, the half-and-half flowers were half-and-half colored.

I had daffodils on the brain for some reason when I suggested this project.  This is what it looks like in front of our house in March and April:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review - What's So Great About Christianity

Dinesh D'Souza wrote What's So Great About Christianity as a response to today's militant atheists -- you know, the ones who rent billboards proclaiming "There is no God, have a nice life," and publish overhyped books detailing just how much they hate the God they say they don't believe in.  This is the same crowd who will doubtless be all over the Pope's pronouncement that human life is not an accident... and that itself is no accident, because it is on the battlefield of evolution that the future of Christianity in the West will be decided.  (Whether Western Christians are yet aware of that, let alone prepared for the battle, remains to be seen.)

I heartily recommend D'Souza's book.  It does not take an anti-evolution view -- in fact, there are many times when it will seem far too broad to some Christians.  But it stands in the tradition of Mere Christianity as one of those books that, while it does not compel conversion, at least renders the modern philosopher without excuse for ignoring the reality of God.  D'Souza is a gentlemanly fighter, but he's a fighter and his logic is relentless.  His explanations of the philosophical positions of men like Kant and Hume, for example, were the most understandable I've enountered (I may be the child of two philosophy majors, but it generally makes my head ache -- and unfortunately, the knowledge doesn't stick there very well).  If you are only familiar with D'Souza from his conservative politics, you should know that this book is largely apolitical and he is careful to maintain a non-combative tone.  Except, perhaps, when relaying some of the absurdities of the militant atheists, of which there are quite a few.  My personal favorite was the one on p. 161 that I quoted on April 1.

For Christians seeking ammunition against atheistic fundamentalists, this book is ideal.  Nonbelievers who just wonder what all the fuss is about, or those who are genuinely seeking and want to know why Christianity is "so great" should read this too -- but for a gentler touch with a little less of the Ivy-League debate format, check out Tim Keller's The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.  Keller, as a pastor, avoids pugnacious arguments and succeeds very well in presenting a winsome case for God that will appeal to believer and unbeliever alike.  For hard-core apologists who do battle with godless philosophies on a daily basis and have sharpened their minds accordingly, I recommend Nancy Pearcy's Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity.  Although it's not the easiest read in the world (plenty of headache-inducing philosophy), it provides an extremely thorough grounding in the idea of "worldview" that is crucial to any meaningful discussion of Christianity and culture.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Finished Cityscape

It was a late night, but I couldn't stop once I started the final touches. I finished the crochet chain up the side of buttonbands, sewed on buttons, sewed in ends, used kitchener stitch to graft the underarm stitches together (couldn't find enough good yarn so had to substitute some navy sock yarn), soaked it in cold water with Kookaburra woolwash (lovely eucalyptus smell), spun it dry in the washer on spin cycle, pinned it out and let the Blocking Magic go to work:
I love blocking - it's when you get to tell your knitting who's boss.  In this case, I had begun the yoke decreases about 1 inch early because I was running out of blue yarn.  So the shoulder area, in addition to the natural tighter tension that most people get when knitting colorwork, was also lower and tighter than ideal.  I pinned it out more assertively than the rest of the sweater, making sure the buttonbands were straight, and let it dry that way.  No curls at the bottom edge now, and the buttonband is staying pretty straight.  There's one spot where it's going to want to gap a bit, but I can live with it.

This is the kind of sweater I love to wear 9 months out of the year in our climate.  Layered over a simple cotton tee, with either pants or skirt, I can go from teaching the conjugation of the pluperfect subjunctive to grocery shopping to cooking and (hopefully) very light housework before putting my feet up and knitting while watching Dr. Who reruns with the boys.  Which reminds me, there is a Tardis hidden along the skyline on the back of the sweater.  It needs a little shiny bead on top still.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More finishing techniques

For potters, they say that making a teapot is the test of mastery.  You have to form the main part, the spout, the lid, and then you have to make sure they fit together.  You have to pull a handle and attach it.  All the major techniques that a potter can use, are used in a teapot.

For knitters, I think that a cardigan is the equivalent challenge.  Very rarely do the knitting patterns include instructions for every single possibility.  You have to come up with some solutions on your own.  Here are some more technical finishing details for Cityscape.

First off, the buttonholes.  I ended up with 134 stitches on the buttonband using my "pick up and REALLY knit" technique that I described two posts back.  That means that I needed the same number for the buttonhole band.  Although I ended up with 139, I reduced the number by 5 as I worked the first row, by purling two together every so often.  The pattern called for 9 buttons "evenly spaced."  I believe in evenly spacing the buttonholes, and putting the buttons on last, because buttonholes are much harder to redo than buttons.  So I needed to evenly space 9 buttonholes across 134 stitches, with the buttonholes having a value of 3 stitches and the top and bottom buttonholes about 1 inch in from the top and bottom edges of the buttonhole band.  I allowed 5 stitches for the top and bottom margins (10 stitches).  Nine buttonholes x 3 stitches per = 27 stitches, + 10 margin = 37 stitches.  134 total stitches - 37 stitches = 97 stitches for the 8 intervals between the 9 buttons = 12 stitches per interval, except for the bottom interval where there were 13.  See, I CAN do math.  I still need to buy buttons, though.

I like the way the "pick up and REALLY knit" buttonband hides and secures the underside where the raw edge of the steek is, but I'm not wild about the uneven stitches on the right side.  So I decided to crochet a chain of stitches over that join, to give a nicer visual edge.  I experimented and found it's best to work from the right side, poking the hook under the 2 legs of each stitch and picking up the loop and pulling it back through both stitches.  I will continue this all the way up, then weave in the ends.  Then I will still need to sew on buttons, and graft the live stitches at the underarms together.  And I'll have a nice wooly cardigan.  Just in time for warm weather.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Where do you fall?

My husband shared the Nerd Venn Diagram with me.  This is in honor of all those students whose brains are being wrung dry by standardized testing on verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, etc...  And the students who are getting science fair projects ready.  And the students who are translating Caesar.  And preparing for a debate.  And researching their junior thesis.  Go for it, kids.  Age quod agis.  And eventually when you look back at your life it may all be reduced to an internet giggle.  You'll forget what grueling hard work education was, and only remember the fun times.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In which we get technical about picking up stitches for buttonbands

I have not remained unaware that, while this is nominally a knitting blog, I haven't been posting much about knitting recently.  Let's see if I can make up for that.

I steeked Cityscape last week.  Steeking - so not a big deal.  Been there, done that several times now.  The idea of cutting my knitting doesn't even make me break out in a cold sweat anymore.  Just machine stitch a seam -- carefully, mind you -- on either side of the column of stitches you intend to cut.  Then cut.  See?  Simple.

Buttonbands and buttonhole bands, however, always require thought.  The pattern says "pick up and knit" along the folded edge of the steek.  This means that you need to sew down the steek on the back side by hand.  I didn't want to bother with this, because I have practically no blue yarn left and it would be hard to stitch down the blue section with white yarn without it showing through.  Also, when knitting patterns say "pick up and knit" I have discovered that they really mean what I call just plain "pick up" - starting from right side of row where you are picking up stitches, and with right side facing, stick needle into hole where you will pick up a stitch, loop yarn around on underside, draw it up and voilà - a picked up stitch.  It requires only one needle to pick up a stitch, but the resulting stitches do not encase the edging at all.  This is not a problem on items like socks, but may be disappointing on a blanket or sweater where you have an edge you'd like to conceal.

What I decided to do instead was to "pick up and REALLY knit" the stitches.  I discovered this a few years ago, quite accidentally, when I was exploring the new-to-me technique of "Cro-Kay" in the Emma Peel dress from Mason-Dixon Knitting.  I couldn't figure out why my "Cro-Kay" edging came out looking like a line of chain stitches following along the edge of the knitting but set in from the edge, rather than an actual, you know, edging.  Kind helpers on Ravelry explained that what I needed to do was to "pick up and REALLY knit" (my words, because I can't help but think it's weird that people mean different things by "pick up" depending on who you talk to, and I like to be as precise as possible with words) each stitch before proceeding with the rest of the edging. 

Here's how you "pick up and REALLY knit" (if you're righthanded, anyway): With right side facing, and working from right to left along the edge where you intend to pick up stitches, stick RIGHT needle into hole where you will pick up a stitch, loop yarn around on underside, draw it up.  DO NOT STOP, you're only halfway there.  Insert LEFT needle into picked up loop from back to front, take the yarn that's on the underside of your work and throw it around the right needle, knit the stitch just like you would if it were a normal stitch in the middle of your knitting instead of one you just picked up.  You do this for every stitch you need to pick up -- 134 is what I came up with for Cityscape.  (You also are supposed to pick up stitches on vertical stockinette edges at a ratio of 3 stitches for every 4 rows, but I probably fudged that a bit.  I just need to be sure to pick up the same number of stitches on the other side, so they match.)
This "pick up and REALLY knit" technique does two unique things.  On the front, there is what looks like two rows of stitches if you look carefully, instead of one.  And on the back, the raw edge that would otherwise be unsecured is secured by the extra loops of yarn that it took to go back and knit the stitches you picked up immediately after picking them up.  This means I don't have to hand-sew the raw edges of the steeks down.  Yay!
Here's a closeup of the process from the front (the red scrap of yarn is marking the 50th stitch).  There are a few small drawbacks: The occasional gaps between stitches are more obvious with the white on dark blue, and the ribbing will begin on what is basically the third row, so it does not meet the picked up edge exactly.  But I think it will be minimal, and I really like the finished edge of the steek.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Guardians of Hoover Dam

"But I couldn't help staring at the two giant bronze guys with tall bladed wings like letter openers.  They were weathered brown except for their toes, which shone like new pennies from all the times people had rubbed them for good luck."
-- Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 3: The Titan's Curse
They're really there, folks, and they really do have shiny toes.  Whether they provide emergency protection and transportation for half-blood teens in a tight spot, I didn't have opportunity to witness.  I just snapped a few photos from the car on the way by.

If you haven't met Percy Jackson yet, see if you can borrow a copy of The Lightning Thief from just about any middle-schooler.  At six books and counting, and a major motion picture, the series has gone viral.  So I don't really need to do a review, right?  But I might sometime, just for the fun of it.  They are fun books.

Just made a batch of lemon squares for #1 son to take to the social this evening.  Grades have been turned in and lesson plans completed; very little knitting has been done this week so far.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Use Your Classical Education: Four Examples

Book review time again.  Spring break involves lots of drive time.  Steve drives, I knit, the miles pass, and the only way to keep the natives from getting too restless is to entertain the brain with an audiobook.  In years past, I read many books aloud myself, but that was before I took up knitting.  And my throat would always wear out anyway.  So we get the audiocassettes from the library.  Our van has 120,000 miles on it and has never heard of a CD player.  All the newer books are being recorded only on CDs now, so we are delving into the classics when we get audiobooks out of the library.  The first four audiobooks we completed on vacation make a nice tour of what a well-trained mind can do in the literature department.  All are appropriate for children, if not designed specifically for them.

Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys, by Louisa May Alcott, is the lesser-known sequel to Little Women.  Most of us know the general plot outline of the first book, but Alcott may have been one of the first writers to recognize the importance of sequels in extending the marketablity of a literary franchise.  In this book, Jo is grown up and married to "Father Bhaer," and they run an unconventional school for boys out of their home.  (Anyone who has ever been involved in starting and running a real school will wonder how they manage to make ends meet with only a few paying students, but that's beside the point.  They apparently have wealthy friends and relations.)  This is one of those rambling, old-fashioned reads that kids turn to when they do not have electronic media in the forefront of their brains.  Sadly, that means it won't be read very much, and it will be scorned by many kids as being hopelessly outdated.  I do have fond memories of reading it from my own childhood.  Like any Victorian novel for kids, it is heavily moralistic.  The children get into "scrapes" regularly and the adults are endlessly concerned with the proper formation of their characters.  There is the obligatory death scene.  The younger the children are, the more likely they are to speak with a babyish lisp that was apparently intended to make them more precious.  This is not the enduring great work that Little Women is, but gives you a good glimpse at the Transcendentalism of Alcott and her peers.  I think of her as a kind of Hippie, crunchy-granola earth-mother of the 19th century, and it's fascinating to see how her once-radical ideas have become old-fashioned and conventional.  She made an effort to appeal to boy readers as well as girls in this book; whether successfully or not in her day, it is a harder sell now.  Not impossible, but, as with studying Latin, you have to get into the proper frame of mind to make a fair attempt.

How Right You Are, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse, is about as far from Plumfield as you can get.  Wodehouse, of course, glorifies the useless aristocrat and his astute butler in a way that no one has been able to replicate before or since.  Every sentence is a jewel; the prose sparkles with wit, the plot is thicker than the mud on the bottom of Aunt Dahlia's pond, and every character is the perfect archetype of himself.  If you have not read Wodehouse yet, it should go immediately to the top of your list, and then you will understand.  Which Wodehouse matters not: he wrote a lot and they're all good... but something with Jeeves is an excellent place to start.  We had the added delight of listening to the audiobook narrated by Ian Carmichael, famous for playing Lord Peter Wimsey back in the 1970's.

Journey to the Center of the Earth,  by Jules Verne, allows the astute listener/reader to trace the origins of the modern Science Fiction/ Fantasy genre while still having a rip-roaring good time on an action-packed adventure.  However dated the science may be, however improbable the plot, this is a classic that has stood the test of time.  There was even a movie version a few years ago that left much of the plot intact.  I myself enjoyed listening to the language; Verne wrote originally in French but the English translation made me think how Latinate older prose tends to be, and wonder whether that is obvious in French as well.  I would stop the tape and say, "That's an ablative absolute he used right there.  Isn't that cool?!"  Yes, I really am that nerdy.

The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle is another great one to get your boys to read.  Cultural literacy really does require a knowledge of Sherlock Holmes and his unique mind.  However good the recent movie and the modernized TV series may be (and I liked them both) (and by the way, Dad, when I say the modernized TV series I mean this one and not the one from the 80's which is also good!), your kids should read the books, too. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Notes from Spring Break

It's definitely over.  Lots of driving and neat things to see, but there's a certain finality about coming back to a dirty house, three half-wild cats, and mountains of laundry that says, "Yes, it's time to get back to your regularly scheduled life."  But really, did we need the littlest one to get a stomach bug, too?

Phoenix.  Did you know residents of Phoenix are called Phoenicians?  It somehow brings up images of the Punic Wars and Scipio vs. Hannibal.  They have a new museum, The Musical Instrument Museum or MIM, that is really cool.  You wear headphones that change soundtrack according to what exhibit you're standing in front of, and there are instruments from every country on earth.  There are at least four different names for the instrument my Dad brought back from Ethiopia (lamellaphone seems to be most common). I, personally, would like to learn to play the hammered dulcimer, or "struck zither."  At the end there is a room with all sorts of instruments you can play with your own hands, including a big ol' Chinese gong.

Las Vegas -- Ten reasons to pray for its soul, if it even has one.
  • Spotted a sign: "Meet your future ex-wife"
  • Another sign: "1-800-DIVORCE.  Affordable. Aggressive. ASAP"
  • Multiple video signs that I can't describe on a family blog.  Let's just say I found myself wondering if it was legal to show women in that state of undress, and then reminded self that the people who enforce such things are probably getting kickbacks to ignore it. 
  • What is "an early dinner" for a family of 6 is "happy hour" for everybody else.  And the older guy, drinking alone at P.F.Chang's, didn't look too happy but kept staring at my pre-teen daughters.  Ick.
  • "Gentlemen's clubs."  Really?  For what gentlemen?
  • Rampant materialism.  Shopping and overspending seems to be the only "wholesome" alternative to vice.
  • The Blue Men.  Apparently they are a kind of surreal mime show, with blue facepaint instead of white.  I have to admit I'm curious, but not that curious.  After all: mimes.
  • Donny and Marie are still doing a show together, apparently.
  • The Strip is really a bit too much of an assault on the eyes.  We didn't drive the whole thing, no matter how cool the replica Eiffel Tower is.
  • On the breakfast end, the lady at McDonald's seemed overjoyed to have actual children in the store... as if they didn't come there very often.
California.  Despite having made the homeward trip from Arizona at least 10 times in the past carrying citrus fruits with nothing more than a bored wave at the entry point into the most self-important state in the Union, our oranges and most of our yellow grapefruits were confiscated yesterday at the US 395 entrance northwest of Reno.  (Some of the yellow grapefruit had rolled out of the overstuffed bag: we didn't tell them about the pink grapefruit.  Barney Fife Jr. let us keep the lemons.  He probably was the kind who stole kids' lunch money when he was in school.)  We had even been in California the day before, driving through several snow squalls in the Sierra Nevada, and no one cared at that crossing.  They supposedly will test the confiscated fruit for some fungus before disposing of it -- never mind that we were a half-day's drive from the nearest California citrus tree and heading northward.  The only fungus they should test for is the one that infests the state government.  I'm just disgusted with a state that steals food from travelling families and then bellyaches about its own economic woes.  It would be nice if they would at least donate it to the local food bank.

I had half a yellow and half a pink grapefruit for breakfast this morning.  I felt like Robin Hood.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Middle-class Morality

I joke about it, but I've got it in spades, and vacations in Scottsville bring it out.  Or is it Midwestern Morality?  Maybe both.  So Steve and I always go out to the Cheesecake Factory and window shop when we're down for Spring break.  And I love this store called Gallery Z that has all sorts of decadent home decor in color groupings.  I bought a bag of Orange Grove potpourri for $20, and I went to the Coach bags store and tried on a lovely yellow one.  I think of it as training my eye so I know what to look for when I hit the thrift stores, and I guess it's not so bad.

Now we're heading home and crashed for the night at posh digs in SIN CITY itself, thanks to Grandpa's VIP timeshare points.  No casino on the premises, so I'm not hyperventilating yet.  Kids are a bit bummed that high winds have closed the outdoor pool, but the activity room with free DVD rentals and all sorts of electronic games has them feeling pretty good.  All in all, this place reminds me of the Lotus place in the Percy Jackson books, right down to the staff who say things like, "Only staying for one night?"  This is how Vegas replicates itself, I guess.  Kind of like a computer virus.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Extreme vacation knitting

A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?  -- Robert Browning
Ordinarily I knit in a semi-logical, semi-methodical, semi-monogamous way.  I start one project at a time (well, one big project and a few small ones) and knit on it more or less steadily until it is finished.  I take photos of it, post about it on Ravelry, enjoy the adrenoline rush of finishing something, show it off to friends at knit night.

But when I'm packing for a vacation, my optimism knows no bounds.  I don't want to take along the old projects that are nearly finished because they would take up room that could be devoted to the almost infinite variety of possible new projects.  But you never know.  Vacation time might give me enough time to finish two or even three small projects and make substantial headway on a big one.  So I overpack my knitting.  On the long days in the car I knit until my hands and wrists ache.  I don't come anywhere close to finishing a cardigan in a few days, but it's fun trying.

This trip, so far, I have cranked out about 4 inches on the sleeves of the Green Mountain Gardens cardigan.  And about 4 pattern repeats of the Persephone shawl.  I swatched and began a new cardigan out of my 3-ply shetland handspun using another Green Mountain pattern, On Your Toes Sweater.  (Yes, I like cardigans, although I'm slightly less inclined to knit on them in Arizona than in Washington.)  I also brought homespun yarn for another shawl, Pimpelliese, but haven't cast that one on yet.  Oh yes, and the socks I threw in that just have the toes done so far.  I'm not feeling very inspired to work on socks right now, but you never know.  And some more spinning on the Kuchulu for if I get tired of knitting.  Tired of knitting?  How could that happen?

Pictures, of course, will have to wait until we get back to the normal routine and the home computer.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Foolishness

The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." -- Psalm 14:1
This special edition of CarpeLanam is dedicated to the New Atheists... that rare breed whose motto should really be "There is no God... and we hate Him."

For sheer jaw-dropping audacity, I offer this quote from Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin (taken from Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great about Christianity, to be reviewed at a later time):
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment -- a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori commitment to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.  Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
I still have C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew fresh in my mind, so I can't help but wish a few of these philosophical atheists would join Uncle Andrew, be mistaken for a tree, and get planted (wrong-side up) by some talking animals of Narnia.  It might be the best thing that ever happened to them.

There were several runners-up:
  • "Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist." -- Harry Reid, D-NV, decrying the defunding of a cowboy poetry festival.
  • India's most recent census reveals a horrific imbalance: 623.7 million males to only 586.5 million women.  Girls are seen as a financial burden and female abortion and infanticide is distressingly common.  The long-run consequences of this are hard to predict, but they can hardly be good.
  • The state government of California, for criminally irresponsible financial mismanagement and potholes in I-5 that make me wonder what it will look and feel like after another few years of neglect.  But hey, they have all the social services you could possibly desire.
  • Nancy Pelosi and Patty Murray.  Just because this day makes me think of them.