Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's good to be the cat.

It's Caturday, and a busy one Chez Rebel. I had to go to work today for an Open House. This was the first time I had to organize an 'event' that involved inviting people from off campus. Unless you've done this kind of thing at an institution as bureaucratic as this one... you have no idea what it entails. I had to get approval to use the space, I had to get approval to use the parking lot. And of course another event had already reserved the parking lot closest to our building, so I had to reserve the lot much farther away, and personally put out a bread-crumb-esque trail of signs for our event. I had to create the invitations (which, surprise, also needed to be approved by the university) and distribute it to several universities, follow up with them, solicit RSVPs, respond to the RSVPs etc. etc.

I was also in charge of arranging the catering. Always a tough call - order too much food and you've wasted money & food, order too little and you look either cheap or totally unprepared. So it's important to track RSVPs... but that doesn't even help because people who RSVP don't always show up, and people show up who didn't RSVP. It actually worked out that we had just enough pizza, but a whole lot more salad than we needed. Then there was all the information I had to get together to distribute to the students. It all worked out okay, but man it was stressful trying to make sure I thought of everything. Seriously, it threatened to cut into my blog surfing time. ;)

Meanwhile, Sally had a rough day of her own.

You know, sometimes I feel bad that I'm so.... forgive me... pussy-whipped. I get up at 4 or 5 every morning to feed her, and she's even got me spending the big bucks on a special raw food diet. And try as I might, I can't stick to keeping her on a diet. But then, I started comparing our lives.

My major responsibilities:

go to work

pay bills


file tax returns,

vote, generally participate in democracy

attempt to stay apprised of world news and current events

buy groceries ( including the special cat food I can only get at the pet supply store)

wash dishes (including Sally's dishes)

vacuum (the inch deep layer of Sally's fur all over the apartment)

Take out the trash / recycling / compost

generally clean house (& Sally's litter pan)

stay up on my car's service & maintenance

make sure Sally gets her vaccinations & regular check ups

try to fight the good fight against global warming, poverty, aids, racial or religious intolerance (Starving Kitties in Iraq etc.)

And of course do all those fun things that make life worth living, hang out with friends, keep in contact with family, spend time on my hobbies etc.

Sally's major responsibilities:



Lick self inappropriately when guests come over.

As she sleeps upwards of 18 hours a day, she's always well rested enough to engage in her favorite activity of all - insisting I feed her. And, cold blooded murder that she is, she has no moral qualms with biting me, scratching me, or waking me up at the crack of dawn to achieve her goals. I'm just no match for that kind of single purposed focus of mind and body. So she wins, and I feed her. Whatcha gonna do?

I just pray to whatever god is in charge of reincarnation, that I get to be a cat next time around.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thought for the day:

All generalizations are wrong. Discuss.

What have we here?

Three fifths of a cardigan, that's what.
Those aren't sleeves, btw. That's the back and the two front halves in serious need of blocking.

With the help of Maya Angelou and the Yarn Harlot herself you can see the general shape of the neckline. The pattern calls for a roll top neckline, but last time I just did 2x2 ribbing all along the collar, and I think I'll do that again - it matches the button band.

I'm going to Abundant Yarns for Thursday's knit night, and hopefully I'll get a good start on the sleeves there. At this rate I'll actually get to wear this sweater while it's cold!!! =)

Monday, September 24, 2007

What's in the bag?

So I neglected to sign up for Blog stalking... but I'm cheating and doing the assignment anyway. They don't call me Rebel for nothin'. ;)

Here are several (but not all) of the purses / bags I use regularly.

I bought the smallest black one in Las Vegas and carried it all over Europe. It's the perfect little purse for vacationing and/or going to a bar. The front pocket is just big enough to hold cash or my debit card & drivers license, and the main section is just big enough for my camera. It's absolutely perfect - except for the dorky "Las Vegas" and stars embroidered on it. I keep meaning to do something about that. The one next to it is the purse I use the most - especially when going out and about. It's big enough to hold two of the following three items: my wallet, my camera, or my date book, but not all three! In fact, if I've got two of those items in there, I have to be creative getting my keys to fit in there with them. The advantages of those two bags are that they are really small & the strap is long enough to go across my chest in the classic 'don't mug me' fashion. The disadvantage is that neither of those is big enough to hold my checkbook which I still use - having not yet completely embraced the age of electronic banking.

But today I'm using the trapezoidal pink bag that Actual T made. It's by far the prettiest purse I own, and I like taking it to work. This is what is in it today:

My checkbook, four pens, my Van Gogh date book, a tissue, the novel I'm currently reading (and loving!), a pad of recycled paper, my wallet, Chapstick, gum, a cloth napkin (I was eating something on my way to work today), and my keys. Pretty basic. Of course I cleaned out all my purses yesterday. If I'd taken a picture on Friday, you would have seen a motley collection of receipts and papers ranging from Sally's vaccination certificate to my eye glasses receipt, and several gum wrappers.

I do try to keep my purses cleaned out, and only keep the bare minimum of 'stuff' in them. But my back-pack, tutoring bag, and knitting bag are another story entirely!

Anyone else want to show & tell? I love snooping in peoples purses & wallets.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Today I had the pleasure of joining a few knittyheads at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in beautiful Canby Oregon. I showed a lot of restraint and only picked up four skeins of Soy Silk (on sale =) ). It helped that I'd splurged at Black Sheep, and still haven't knit anything from those yarns yet. The Soy Silk is earmarked for Soleil take 2.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but it's a really nice subtly variegated purple. I like variegated yarns, but I'm discovering that I don't like them with a lot of different colors blended in. I like tone on tone a lot better.
In quilting news, I had made a lot of progress quilting one of the baby quilts. But when I looked at the back side, I was really unhappy with the way it looked. So I slowly but surely picked it out. Actually there are a lot of bits that I just couldn't pick out the stitches were too close together. So tomorrow I'll see if I can find a better seam ripper. And then I'll pick a slightly less ambitious quilting pattern and give it another shot.

Friday, September 21, 2007

It's almost Caturday

I saw this on Mag's blog and couldn't resist finding out exactly what kind of lolcat I was.

Your Score: Sad Cookie Cat

51% Affectionate, 30% Excitable, 64% Hungry

You are the classic Shakespearian tragedy of the lolcat universe. The sad story of a baking a cookie, succumbing to gluttony, and in turn consuming the very cookie that was to be offered. Bad grammar ensues.

To see all possible results, checka dis.

link: The Which Lolcat Are You? Test written by GumOtaku on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Wow - surprisingly accurate!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

I hate cigarettes, I do. They're stinky, they're addictive, they pollute, they comprise 90% of the litter I see in the city, and oh yeah - they kill people. Cigarettes kill lots and lots and lots of people. Cigarette companies are evil - sure. I don't smoke and I certainly don't advocate smoking... not by any stretch of the imagination. But man! The Smoking Smack Down is just out of control!

My workplace just went Tobacco Free. Which is fine... except that it's one of the biggest employers of the state. The campuses comprise about 400 acres and employ over 11,000 people. Now this isn't even counting students, patients or visitors! So it's not an insignificant gesture.

We've also got yet another new cigarette tax going on the next ballot. The extra revenue generated will go to fund insurance coverage for children. I totally support insurance coverage for kids... I do, I promise. Heck - I want everyone to have coverage. And this is one tax I wouldn't have to pay. But it all just seems wrong.

I don't even know why. I'm just tired of vilifying smokers. And frankly the idea of creating a source of funding for children's health care, while simultaneously trying to dry up that source of funding seems a bit counter-productive. I do lots of unhealthy stuff and I get nervous with the whole anti-smoking mentality. What next? Fat-Free restaurants? A tax on brie? Booze-free weddings? The thought is terrifying. Come a day there won't be room for naughty men like us to slip about....

Oh wait.

God, I need a cigarette.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Les Nympheas

I was delighted by Melissa's comment about the colors of my cardigan reminding her of Monet's water lilies. J'adore Monet! Visiting his gardens at Giverny was one of my top priorities when I went to France last year. I have fond memories of B and I sitting by the water lily pond, in the rain, painting our own impressions of the occasion. It was a lot of fun, and one of my favorite memories from my trip.

Claude Monet's Les Nympheas:

And mine:
Well, not exactly, but the colors do evoke Monet's palette - which makes me very happy.
You probably can't tell from this picture, but the back is finished. Yay! I can't quite decide if I want to do both fronts at the same time or not. It's nice to finish both pieces at the same time... but I hate it when the yarn gets tangled up. But I guess I hate it more when the pieces don't match up. Oh, and do you just love how this picture perfectly illustrates the fundamental knitting rule - Stockinette Stitch CURLS! =P

Monday, September 17, 2007

LL to the EDC

Over the weekend I got my knit-on and started my Everyday Cardigan in Lorna's Laces Bullfrogs & Butterflies, I think the color is called "Lakehouse". Check it out - I knew I just needed a truely mindless pattern to get my knitting mojo back. I finished about 10" of the back.

Looks good so far. I have mixed feelings about varigated yarn. I love love love love it in the hank, but when it starts knitting up I get anxious about how it pools. I like it when the colors blend one into the next, with this one, the green kinda jumps out. But I do like all the cool colors, and seriously - this cardigan is going to match about 90% of my wardrobe - so that's a plus. I hope to finish this one while it's still cool so I can actually wear it. I really like my Manly sweater, but only got to wear it once before the weather got too warm!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fiber Addicts (not so) Annonymous

Hi, my name is Rebel and I'm a Fiber Addict.

I needed yellow thread. I really, genuinely, needed yellow thread. I popped into Cool Cottons on Hawthorne and found said yellow thread. But they had new fabric! Cute new fabric!! Cute new fabric with Pink Flowers!!!

I was powerless to resist. I bought enough for a skirt... but who knows what I'll end up doing with it. And somehow as I walked to the counter to have pay for the fabric & thread, a little Valorie Wells fat quarter jumped into my hand!

I just should not be allowed to enter fabric stores.

On the plus side, I'm really close to finishing up two quilts. The I-spy quilt just needs to have binding attached (which I do by machine like the lazy quilter that I am). Another quilt you haven't seen was half-way through being quilted when I ran out of the yellow thread.

I just need to accept the fact that I'm a fiber stasher, and just start focusing on hiding... I mean... organizing my stashes.
And as if I didn't already have enough sewing/ quilting projects in the queue, I've wound up a few hanks of my Lorna's Laces and have cast on for a swatch. I'm going to make another Everyday Cardigan. It's an easy pattern, I already know how to do it, and I know I like the end result. I'm excited to see how the color changes will show up. Hopefully the blue/purple will be artfully highlighted by the splashes of green, and I don't get like a funky pool of green across my stomach or anything. LOL! Only time will tell.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Religious freedom and useful turtles.

A title like that can only mean I've been tutoring. =)

I was going over the months of the year with my student, we'd gone through them a couple of times and when we got back around to September I reminded her that it was "this month". She stopped me and said "Africa - tomorrow - no eat." I'm not the most culturally aware person but I know that Ramadan is a fasting holiday, so I guessed that she was talking about Ramadan. So I said "For Ramadan you don't eat in the day time, you eat at night" and she corrected me "No. Tomorrow - no eat" and asked "America - no eat tomorrow?"

Hmm... so how to explain religious diversity & our first amendment right to freedom of religion without using the words: religion, Jewish, Christian, church, temple, freedom, or constitution? So I told her, "In America, tomorrow - no eating is good, eating is good. Some people eat - good, some people don't eat - good." I'm not sure if she understood me. I'm not sure what exposure she's had to people of other religions. But I taught her the word "fast" (later regretting that I'd taught her the vastly more obscure definition of the word before teaching her the more common definition!), and the word "pray." And she confirmed that yes, that's what she'd be doing tomorrow. So that was good.

Then later, we were going over some alphabet picture cards (A- apple, B-ball). For each item, I'd ask her if she liked the item or not, hoping to get an idea of what she might like to learn about next. When we got to T - turtle, she explained that in her country "sit on... have baby .... go to sleep... " and then she mimed something and I tried to figure out what she was saying "You sit on the turtle?"
"No, baby"
"You saw a baby turtle?"
"No, drink water... go to bed... baby... turtle"
And I go back and forth with her for a while, trying to understand what on earth she's talking about. Do they eat the baby turtle? "No" Do you drink the water that the turtle's been swimming in? "No." I've got no clue. She patiently tries to explain it to me "Have baby... drink water... go to bed" and she mimes something I'm just not getting. I start thinking maybe this is a way for pregnant women to induce labor. The kids are laughing at me. I asked my student why the kids were laughing at me - and she starts laughing at me! Poor American girl doesn't know what to do with a turtle. So we moved on.

When I got home, I did a little Google-fu, searching for the words she'd been saying. It turns out that turtles are used as a cure for bed wetting! If your kid wets the bed (drink water - go to bed), you sit him or her on a turtle and that stops it. Well, of course that's what you use turtles for! How could I miss that? =P

This, of course, means that I will have the honor and privilege of teaching her bathroom vocabulary next week. Wish me luck!

In other news, on Tuesday I went to the information session for the Oxford Seminars TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate course. The instructor had done the Peace Corps for two years in China and then went on to teach in Taiwan, so she had a lot of first hand experience. But she'd also had a masters in teaching before she left... so that didn't really sell me on the program they are offering. Tonight I'm going to the information session for the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) course. It's a lot more expensive than the Oxford program, but also more widely respected. So far I have not been impressed with the company, but I'm giving them a second chance tonight. I've got a lot of thinking & deciding to do.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I was fine.

I was fine all day yesterday. Woke up, went to work. I knew it was 9/11, but I was fine. I'd briefly considered digging out an American flag to fly (I know I have one somewhere - is it horrible that I know exactly where my Mexican flag is?) but I was running late. I was fine when I left work, and went to pick up my new glasses. And on the way I had to stop for a fire truck returning to the station. As I sat at the red light watching the fire truck back up & park, I started thinking about those firefighters who died in the Twin Towers, and about Mychel Judge, the chaplain who was victim #1 of the attacks. I just started crying. I'm not fine. There's too much evil in the world, just too much evil in our own country.

Be the change.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

WIP roundup.

Somehow the idea of a fabric-diet totally backfired. I now have more fabric than I did when I started this summer. I still think I need to go back to the habit of only working on one major project at a time. My rule used to be that I'm not allowed to buy fabrics for a future quilt until I finish the current quilt in progress, and I think I need to get back into that habit.

Now, I have heard very well reasoned arguments against that rule. More skilled quilters than I explain that it's important to pick up fabrics that appeal to you when they are available so that you can build up a stash that inspires you to even greater creativity. It's the idea that as artists we need to have the materials of our art available to us. One would never suggest that a painter use up all his blue paint before she buys green paint. Or that he plan out his next work of art and only purchase the colors and brushes he knows he will use for that project.

But, frankly, I am not an artist. Quilting is a hobby for me, a creative outlet. I have sufficient materials to keep myself creatively occupied through the end of the year if not significantly longer. To reassure myself of that fact, here are the projects that are in my queue, projects that should be finished up before I even think about starting a new project!

First up, quilting / sewing projects:

These quilts are somewhere in the sewing phase. I still haven't done a thing with the flying geese quilt top. I have been slowly but surely filling in the 'blank' squares in the eye spy quilt... only seven blocks to go, then I'll bind it and it will be done. Then hiding in the corner is a slightly secret project.

These are planned quilts in various stages of the pre-sewing phase. On the left are pieces for my niece's Flower Basket quilt. I have a pattern, and as you can see I've started cutting out fabric. I have a lot more cutting to do before I will start sewing that one. At the top - those pink & black fat quarters are intended for a Pinwheel quilt, the pattern has been sketched out, but I haven't cut anything yet. The batiks on the right were destined to become a Thousand Triangles quilt for my nephew. I have the pattern all worked out and even test cut a few triangles out of paper, just to check my math. I don't think it's going to be for my nephew after all... he's expressed interest in a Tampa Bay Buccaneer's themed quilt... so I'll probably start that after he comes back from boot camp.

As I've cut fabric for other projects, I've trimmed down the scraps into 3" x 1" strips and 2"x 2" squares. These pieces can be considered "just a gleam in mama's eye." I have a few ideas for scrap quilts... another rail fence maybe, a 9 patch, or maybe even a round the world type quilt. I love the look of scrap quilts... so I like building up my little piles of pieces, it's fun to think about what kinds of things I can do with them.

Soleil, ah soleil. I am drawn to this word as Rose is drawn to the Bad Wolf. It's French for Sun, and it gets me every time. Pay $100+ for Cirque du Soleil tickets? Absolutely! Soleil tank top in Knitty? The yarn is in my cart before I even look at the rest of the patterns in the issue. Now Valorie Wells has a line of fabrics called Soleil and they jump in my hand at every fabric shop I visit. There is a quilt in here somewhere. I have some ideas, but nothing definite. If I let myself, I could buy a lot more of this fabric before I even decide what to do with it!

These flannels were accumulated in a few different stages. I think I'd intended to make PJs out of the Santa fabric at some point. The bright red is what's left over from a Riding Hood that turned out quite well indeed. The other two flannels were on sale... and I think there's a nice warm winter quilt in here somewhere. Or I may actually make PJs who knows?

Lastly, fabric for skirts. Skirts are perhaps the easiest article of clothing to make. Making them well, however, is not so easy. I have specific skirt patterns in mind for all of these fabrics. I've even bought the appropriate notions & trim. My goal is to someday sew in a zipper that can't be seen, and a waistband that I don't have to hide. Someday... someday...

Lest the reader think this really isn't all that bad. I'm just showing fabric in my stash that's been allocated to a project or at least the idea of a project. I have much more fabric hidden away here & there. Left over fabric from other projects, free fabric from my mom and another generous donor, and an odd yard here and there picked up at the Fabric Depot summer sale. Now what I need to do is print these pictures out & carry them with me every time I go to the fabric stores! I have *no* need for additional fabric at this point in time... not until I've finished at least half of these projects anyway.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

You know it's a good party

when the boss ends up wearing a sombrero.

Seriously, I feel very strongly about the importance of party hats. That's one of the reasons I love New Year's Eve... lots of fun party hats.

Oh man, somehow I got roped into being on the party committee at my work, and it is a lifetime appointment! So while the parties are a lot of fun, they are also a ton of work. Fortunately the head of the committee (to the right in that picture) is an expert and always manages to pull everything together.

The most incredibly fun part is the annual kick-ball game. Not only is it fun to have adults and kids playing kick-ball (quite competitively, I must add), but we have a lot of faculty & postdocs from countries were kick-ball is not a common school-yard activity. We've had people running to the wrong base, not running at all, not at all sure what to do with the ball when they get it - its great.

We couldn't have a fiesta without a pinata... but this was the pinata that would not die.

First we let all the kids line up, put on the blindfold and take one whack each. They whacked off one leg, than the other, then the back two, then the head... and it still wouldn't crack! By the end, the blind folds were off, and we were letting them take a few swings each. Finally someone knocked the whole thing off the string... but it still didn't break! So I picked it up and ripped it to pieces. =) Whatever it takes to get the candy - that's how I roll.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Brand new bag

Check out my brandy new bag, beatuifully designed by actual t. Very pink, very soft, very me, I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. =)

I love the pretty paisley lining too.

In case you're wondering... actual t just opened her Etsy shop. Christmas is only 109 days away you know.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Skirt City!

Unlike T, I am not the mayor of Skirt City; I am merely a tourist. But here is my latest skirt:

I just finished it. (And actually wrote a whole post about it, saving regularly like a good girl, but when I added the last photo everything else disappeared- wtf!) Anyway, the pattern is New Look 6593, bias cut skirt with a waist band & zipper (glutton for punishment that I am). I really didn't like the pattern, and I don't plan on using it again. To start with, I didn't like the pattern layout, it would have wasted a lot of fabric. I mean, I know bias skirts waste fabric... but this was excessive... so I just cut it with the grain. It won't have the same drape, but it should still be nice.

And here's an "action shot" of the floral skirt I made earlier this summer (as opposed to the always classy "hanging on the bathroom door" shot):

There are many things I don't like about this picture, but I wanted to show off the fact that I made a skirt that actually fits, and looks like a real skirt! A major success in my book. =) For this skirt and the one below, I used McCall's 4306, bias skirt with a zipper, but no waist band. I liked this pattern a lot so I'll use it again.

Now I actually made this skirt a while ago, but didn't want to post it because it turned out a lot dorkier than I thought it would. I don't know... the fabric seemed really cool in the store, and the whole thing seemed like a good idea at the time. I haven't worn it in public, and I'm not sure when or if I ever will.

But then... this *is* Portland, and I've seen far stranger things!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Stick to your knitting.

Despite the fact that we're actually getting a little warm weather this weekend, the unmistakable signs of autumn are in the air. I've spotted a few trees starting, just starting, to change color. There's also been that particular chill on the air that means cooler weather is coming. Something internal clicked and I've started knitting again.

Now of course I've got several projects on the needles already, but I don't really feel like working on any of them. One is Montego Bay - it taunts me. It's supposed to be easy, but I keep messing it up - what an ego crusher. Then there's the gothic leaf stole. I've only gotten through one of the pattern repeats, so that would be like starting from scratch... and just too complicated for my current mindset. There's a feather & fan shawl in progress for my neice... but I have totally lost interest in that project. So what have I been knitting?

Not even fancy ones, or trendy ones, or even particularly pretty ones. Just plain ol' dishcloths. The generic corner-to-corner garter stitch washcloth is just about what I can handle right now. Knit two, yarn over, knit to the end - every row until it's wide enough. Then knit one, k2tog, yarn over, k2tog, knit to the end. Plus I have an obscene amount of kitchen cotton from when had them on sale for like $0.50 each. Easy, cheap, functional, and pink. What more could I want?

Now that I'm back in the habit of knitting, I'm thinking up plans for my next projects. One of the first new projects I'll cast on for will be a cardigan in Lornas Laces Bullfrogs & Butterflies that I picked up at that other huge sale (Knit Happens?).

I know a lot of other people like to challenge themselves, learning all kinds of new techniques and designing patterns... but that is just me. I knit to relax, and to have a finished product. There are times when I really need mindless knitting - like big long stretches of stockinette. So this cardigan will be a good way to ease back into knitting. When I get bored, that's when I'll pull out my lace projects again, give 'em a good cursing, probably frog them & start over, and promptly go back to the cardigan!