Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wake and Bake

Fable is adjusting well. She has taken over David's ragged hand knit pillow. She kneads it like bread with her front paws before she takes her nap. So cute.
What a difference 10 years makes. Wake and bake in my 30s means that I get up and start baking with the oven.

I'm making whole wheat soft pretzels. My house smells like the food court in my hometown mall. Yum.

I warped my bulky heddle. This was so much easier. Ashford rigid heddles fit on Kromski Harp looms--and they are cheaper and come in bulkier dpi.

I used my handspun Beaverslide Merino that has been languishing for over a year. I don't enjoy knitting with large gauges very much and I can't wear this color without looking jaundiced, so I decided to weave a blanket. I warped about 10 feet and I'll cut the finished piece in half and sew the halves together to make a square shape.
Weaving with handspun yarn is actually easier and more pleasant than the cotton I started with. Plus the flaws look intentional. Bonus.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

French knots make cancer cells look lovely

cervical dysplasia 007, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

Here's an old embroidery I did. It's my depiction of cervical dysplasia. I know it's no fun, but don't forget get to get the vajayjay checked. I have been dealing with cervical dysplasia (a bad pap) for a couple of years. I don't like the procedures I've gone through, but the sooner you catch it, the less invasive the treatment is. I can say 100% that it's better than dying, losing your fertility, or having organs removed.

I promised another blogger that I'd post this little Public Service Announcement. Check out her post here:

I believe in the the power of self-imposed art therapy. Take your problem, stab it with a needle a few thousand times, and make it look pretty. Control it. Own it. Move on.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Thing

John Carpenter's The Thing with stop-motion GI Joes, from Zombie Zombie

I remember watching The Thing at a drive-in movie theater with my father. It was right before my parents divorced, so I must have been 7 or 8. I was supposed to be asleep in the back of the station wagon, but I couldn't stop watching. I was terrified out of my mind. Nothing is scarier than blood on snow.

When my brother and I were in high school, we drove to my grandparents' cabin in Red Lodge, MT for Christmas. On the way home we passed a horrible car accident. There was bright red blood all over the snow. There were bright emergency lights flickering through the snow. My father stopped to help and we sat at least an hour (it's possible it was only minutes, but this is how I remember it) and my brother looked terrified. This is the only memory of his being scared ever.

His blood and his daughter's blood were on the snow last year. I don't think I'll ever get that image out of my mind.

I saw this stop-motion video on Boing Boing and thought I'd share it. In the interest of slaying demons, I face things I used to hide from. The scariest memories of my life seem much smaller when told with dolls. GI Joes are like miniature plastic Chuck Norrii (the plural form of Chuck Norris.) Maybe everything seems smaller as an adult.

Today is my wedding anniversary. My life-size GI Joe is freezing in Korea. He has promised not to play strip poker with the warm woolies I have knit him. (That was a reference to MASH. I always picture David on the set of the 4077 instead of a modern air base.)

The next month is going to be long, but my love is waiting on the other side of February.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

X is for...

I totally forgot to finish my ABC Along last year. Here is my X. I was proud of the X in my first name as a kid. I got teased a lot for having a boys' name, but somehow the X made up for it. A couple of years ago, I was at a party where everyone was picking out their stage names in case they ever became pr0n stars. Mine was Alexxxandra. My real name sounds more fake than any fake name I could invent. That still cracks me up.

Since a picture of Alexxx is frightening, here is an X I make every day.
I am working on Sgt. Husband's second sock. He gets leave 2/26 for 3 weeks. There is no point in explaining how excited I am since the English language only has a quarter of a million words.

I'm working on a scrap blanket. I have the loom put up until I can trust the dog not to chew on the wood. I am weaving it in two vertical pieces. The yarn is leftovers from everything and a skein of banana silk that I bought in a moment of yarn foolishness. I bought blanket binding to hide my edges. It might be pretty.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dazed and Confused

Our animal shelter mutt came home today. She's so sweet, but drugged out of her little doggy mind. Poor thing. At least she won't have another litter of pups. Sgt. Husband was just as cranky when he got fixed. (Even though it was 10 years before I met him, I still hear about it.)

I finished my crazy socks and had the crazy idea to overdye them green to make the colors less eye-searing. I totally forgot that one of the yarns was corn fiber. One sock is striped and the other isn't. Still, I consider this an improvement. I've got to work on more artful mismatching. Right now I still look like voices from outer space tell me what to knit. I need to take it down a notch.

I just spent 20 minutes petting Isabel. She was jealous because I was petting Fable and I had to rub her back until she quit crying. Spoiled.

Here is a link to Fable before we adopted her. She's been hit by a car. She's five years old. She's been at the shelter since October. She was the best damn dog in the whole place. Welcome home, sweetie

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Little Country Is Growin Up...

I've always loved my country, but I'm actually kind of proud for once.

I spent the day at the animal shelter. I have wanted another dog for a long time. I adopted the ugliest dog in the place and she is sweet as peaches. She's at the vet getting "fixed." The kids start rubbing her fur off on Thursday.

I wove another scarf. I used Kroy from Michael's. This scarf is really floppy and sleazy. The edges were crazy ugly. I did a slip stich crochet finish on the selvedges and it helped quite a bit. At least this scarf will be light weight enough to wear into the Spring.

I finally picked up my car. One of Sgt. Husband's friends called out of the blue. Happy relief.

I am seriously considering flying to Korea this summer. Humidity, schumidity.

I made it through another day without my husband. When I wake up tomorrow it will be yet another day over. I think I can... I think I can... I think I can...

Friday, January 16, 2009


Here is a little bit of weaving. The bag was made by fulling my woven wool cloth in the washer and sewing. I like the lining. This bag will stay with my loom to hold dowel rods, a tape measure, etc. The needles are in there for scale.

A quick trip through the washer did wonders for this janky fabric.
This piece of gray linen is delicious. I can't keep my hands off of it. I plan to sew it into something sassy, I just don't know what right now. Maybe a knitting bag, I'm not sure. I might go to Joann's at look at patterns for accessories.

My car repairs were exactly $900. Ouch. The overwhelming lonely emptiness of raising 3 kids alone in the middle of nowhere with no friends or family is getting to me. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I can't find anybody to drive me to pick up my car at the mechanic's. How did my life get here? How did I manage to be so alone?
I'm trying. I'll keep plugging along. It has to get better. Even total assholes have friends. I'm sure my life will warm up again.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

That's What She Said

Ho Made, originally uploaded by ShakyS.

That's my blog philosophy--all ho-made.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The color of teenage joy

I finished a scarf. I used Vickie Howell Rock and Kidsilk Haze held together for the weft and plain Rock for the warp. It's about 9 inches wide and 9 feet long. The hemp and soysilk give it great drape. The KSH gives it a fluffy halo.

Cindi (teenage stepdaugher) has been admiring this scarf. She watches me use the loom like I'm television. I know how much she likes it. I'm giving it to her with a matching hot pink iPod for her birthday next month. I'm also thinking about getting her a little loom. She's never taken to knitting, but seems fascinated by weaving.

I registered both vehicles today. I brought my knitting and didn't get a chance to take it out of my purse. I got the young rogue clerk today. She got me out of there in 20 minutes and I honestly didn't have my poop in a group. She took my ratty stack of papers and made them work. Some people are so awesome--imagine how great a person would have to be to shine at the DMV.

I got my copy of Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving. I recommend it to anyone who is a new RH loom owner. I also ordered Women's Work: the First 20,000 Years (to qualify for free shipping--I'm a sucker for free shipping) and it's completely, utterly amazing. If you've ever had an interest in Women's History, you'll love it. The author examines ancient textiles as a means to understand the everyday lives of women in the past. It's fascinating. I also recommend Blood, Bread, and Roses, by Judy Grahn if you can find a copy.

Funny how ending up a housewife had inspired me to study feminism more than I ever did when I single and childless. It's easy to take choices for granted when you haven't made them yet.
I am woman, hear me rant.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I didn't think I could do it either

I untangled that awful mess. Sweet victory is mine. I used thrifted tapestry wool in little skeins for the warp. The resulting fabric was crooked, wonky, and hella scratchy. I threw it in the washer to felt and I started sewing a bag. I'll take pictures after I get the lining sewn.

Isabel has fallen in love with cooking and baking. I got her an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas and she's now my little kitchen buddy.

I'm saving these pictures to show to her prom date.

I've been struggling with the whole military wife thing lately. When I was younger, I thought of military wives as old-fashioned, unliberated, Tammy Wynette wannabe, long-suffering doormats. Their only job was to stand by their man and have no thoughts, dreams, or opinions of their own.

Then I met David and fell in love. Eating my words wasn't tasty.

I still have big problems with some of the other wives. I HATE how any time they don't like something I say or do, they imply that I'm not patriotic enough and I don't love my husband enough. (You're right, ladies. I just plain hate freedom. I kick old veterans in the shins and heat my home with flag burning. Whatever.)
Fuck that.

I love my husband and I love my country. I love them both enough to open my mouth and say something when one of them is acting like an asshole. Just because I have opinions that weren't fed to my by my husband or the armed forces, doesn't mean that I'm a traitor to either of them. I am a woman who put my own plans and dreams on hold, but I didn't throw them away. I am a person with a mind of her own. I am an excellent, loving wife. I am a great American.

Anyway, I left every online group associated with military spouses. I'm over it. I'm done.

Suffering because of who you love isn't easy. I think that's why I love my gay brothers and lesbian sisters so much. (I'm a Christian, you are all brothers and sisters to me.) Sometimes the price you pay to love another person is high, but you still pay it gladly.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Warped and Tangled

I am pretty sure I'm not doing this right.

Isabel came home from school clingy and needy and pulling on my arms and trying to climb into my lap. She was missing Daddy.
I will not try to warp the loom within 2 hours of the afternoon school bus ever again.
My head hurts.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'd hang it next to my toilet

The Polish newspaper packing was endearing.
My loom got here Monday, just as I was coming down with a horrible cold. It took me four hours to put it together and warp it. I was sweating buckets just turning wood screws. I was coughing so loudly that I couldn't hear the instructional video. I also had to take a little catnap before I could wrap the warp. Common sense and I are not close friends.
My first project was washcloths. I warped with Patons Grace and used Cotton Tots for the weft. I did a simple zigzag stitch on the sewing machine for the edges and let the edges fringe like cut off denim. They are a bit crooked and ugly, but fluffed up nicely after a wash and dry. I have a semi-elaborate nightly skincare ritual and I love soft washcloths.

Fringe closeup
The hot pink thing is a hand towel. The warp is more Patons Grace (a good weight for my 10 dent heddle) and the weft is Peaches and Cream. The mercerized cotton in Grace is strong and shiny, but not absorbent. The Cheapo and Cream is absorbent, but a bit bulky for my heddle. Together they make a great little hand towel. I did a double fold hem with a running zigzag stitch.
I'd hang it next to my toilet with pride.

My edges are rough, but I am pretty patient. My cold is going away and I have more energy and concentration.
I am warping a narrow scarf with Vickie Howell Rock. Third time seems to be a charm. This warping went much smoother and was much easier. The yarn has hemp and soysilk, so I am hoping for drape.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Caught on camera

These pictures just came up on the screen saver. We were driving through Yellowstone Park for for several days and Isabel was getting really cranky. Every time she'd start throwing a fit, I would point the camera at her and she'd suddenly start behaving.
It was hilarious. She'd be screaming bloody murder because she dropped her Ipod on the floor for the 14th time and couldn't reach it. Then she'd hear me turn on the camera and immediately sit up and shut up. I had forgotten about this. These pictures make me smile.

Wasting Time

I decided to frog some storebought sweaters to make dishcloths with my new loom. Considering how cheap and available cotton is, I am starting to think I am an idiot. I am making a silk purse into a sow's ear. Again.

Once upon a time, this shade of lettuce green was the most beautiful color in the universe. I couldn't get enough of it. I decorated my apartment with it. I bought every Martha Stewart K-Mart home decor item. It was shabby and chic.

Then I moved to Montana and went to work in the dark and drove home from work in the dark and stared at dirty snow and dead grass for far too long. I worked in a hospital with a dismal green morgue. My closet now is full of hot pink, orange, lime. My friend Angela calls me "Clown Hooker" for my color sense. I have been asked before if I am color blind.

Now that Sgt. Husband is overseas, I am drawn to a stormy, watery green/gray/blue that matches his patient eyes.

I decided to make my second stashbuster sock with a different stripe sequence. Working with four yarns for one row stripes was really irritating. From now on I limit myself to working with two balls of yarn at a time. The second sock uses the same stash yarns rolled into a ball and connected with Russian joins. I don't enjoy perfect symmetry as much as balance. Certain things strike me as right and visually interesting that a lot of people find ugly. I'm okay with that.
Anyway, I am a fan of color.

Friday, January 2, 2009

(Food) Bulgogi Seitan

I decided to whip up some Korean grub today. I don't have kim chee, I don't know how to cook Korean food, and I'm a vegetarian. Plus the snow is going nonstop and the temperature has dropped 24 degrees in the last few hours--going to the Commissary isn't an option.

Like that would stop me.
I Frankensteined a few recipes together. One was a Betty Crocker recipe. One was from Vegan Dad's Cookbook.
Bulgogi Ingredients
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 Green onions minced (We're snowed in today--I used 3 T of freeze-dried chives.)
3 T sugar
3 cloves garlic minced
2 T sesame oil
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Mash black beans with a fork. Add all but last two ingredients and mix well. Add gluten and yeast and mix with dough hooks for 5 minutes. (I don't know about kneading by hand. It's really soft dough. I have a flimsy hand mixer with weak little dough hooks and I'm thrilled to find something they can actually knead.)

Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls and rest on waxed paper or parchment. Flatten with a fork (like peanut butter cookies.) Use a rolling pin if you own one--I don't. Heat a large skillet with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in the bottom. Fry all pieces a minute or so on each size. Serve over rice. Garnish with scallions if you have them.

Don't burn yours like I did.
Fortunately my kids would rather eat green beans than kim chee. Besides, the only brand sold in town has fish paste. I am too lazy to make my own.

It's hard to style food when your children faint at the sight of food touching. Meh. Oh, well.
Does it taste like bulgogi? I don't know. It was pretty good. The kids ate the heck out of it.
The red thing I have been crocheting is the Big Bow Cardigan from the latest Interweave Crochet. I wasn't interested in it until I saw the designer's pictures of the cardigan without the bow. Gorgeous, ain't it? I am such a sucker for unusual construction. The sweater is worked from cuff to cuff and I learned to make a row of single crochet and foundation chain at the same time. How did I live so long without learning how to do this?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodbye, Debbie Downer

2009 represents hope and growth to me. It's kind of like when you're in bed with the flu for a week and you wake up one morning, not feeling 100%, not like you could run a marathon, but for the first time in a while you fee like you won't die, that you will recover and feel good and maybe even eat again.

This is the year my husband comes home!

I'm branching out to other fiber arts. I'm going to learn to weave this year. I'm crocheting more than I used to. I even busted out the sewing machine last night.

I started a pair of socks for David while waiting in a long line at the Starbuck's drivethrough. (There is only one Starbucks in town--the line is always long.) I declared the socks my "waiting for coffee socks" and all progress so far has been in my car. Even though I'm not one to make resolutions, I need to cut back on fancy, sugary coffee, so I'm bringing the socks to my sofa perch to make some serious progress.
I promise progress and growth this year. Goodbye, Debbie Downer!