Lisa Lately

Random musings about life, family, and crochet

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Name: Lisa
Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a perfectionist. What more do you need to know?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Internet Archive

Obviously it's been a while since I've posted anything. However, my blog still gets an interesting number of visitors, mostly looking at my patterns. I hear from you all occasionally about the dead links. I do not own the information on those dead pages, so I cannot reproduce their info here.

However, all is not lost!

Whenever I run into dead links anywhere on the Internet, I go to the Internet Archive. Just copy the dead link and paste it into the Archive's Wayback Machine. You will then get a list of dates that the site was archived. Just click on the latest date to see what the Archive saved. Sometimes the photos and other graphics don't show up, so then I either just reload the page or try one of the other dates.

I did go back to the patterns and updated certain links to go directly to an archived page.

Friday, September 15, 2006

More Ways to Waste Time

I discovered a new toy today! Check out the results: Click here!

The really observant among you will notice that I've actually discovered TWO new toys!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Felting Success

I finished my first — and second! — felting projects. I felted them both at the same time. I have to say I'm fairly pleased with the results — not perfect, but awfully dang good for a first try. Especially since I didn't bother to felt a test swatch first!

I used a K hook and Lion Brand wool yarn: two 3-ounce skeins of Lion Wool in Midnight Blue and four 2¾-ounce skeins of Lion Wool Prints in Ocean Blues.

I didn't follow a particular pattern for the tote bag, but I took some ideas from a variety of patterns I read online. [Click on the photos for larger images!]

I started by crocheting a rectangle for the bottom in single crochet. Then, for the sides, I worked in the round around the edges of the rectangle, in half double crochet, joining each round with a slip stitch.

For each strap, I joined new yarn and worked in rows in half double crochet, then fastened off and sewed the loose end of the strap to the top of the bag. Then I worked one round of single crochet in the solid color around the top edge of the tote and the edges of the straps.

I had just enough of the Ocean Blues yarn left over from my tote bag to make a small purse. Again, I didn't follow a particular pattern. I used half double crochets worked in rounds to make a small rectangular pocket, then half double crochets worked in rows to make the flap.

For the strap, I attached yarn to the top edge of the purse, then worked a starting chain, attached the end to the other edge of the purse with a single crochet, then worked slip stitches back across the starting chain. For the button, I crocheted a small circle, then pulled it tight into a ball and tied it onto the front of the bag.

To felt these items, I put each one into its own mesh sweater bag and washed them in my washing machine with four pairs of blue jeans. I used the regular amount of laundry detergent and warm wash/cold rinse. I checked the progress after five minutes and again after another five minutes, but not much seemed to be happening. So I let the whole normal wash cycle finish completely, but still not much had happened. So I started the whole load on another wash cycle, adding the regular amount of laundry detergent again. After five minutes of this, I could see some felting beginning to occur, but not much, so I let this whole cycle finish completely. When it ended, the pieces had felted a bit and had shrunk a bit, but they weren't really done, in my opinion.

So I sent the whole load on a third trip through the washer, but added only a couple tablespoons of detergent. I didn't even bother checking them during this time, just let them go for the whole time. At the end, the tote bag and purse had felted quite nicely and had shrunk quite a bit in the horizontal direction but not very much at all in the vertical direction.

My jeans are really clean now too!

My approximate starting and ending measurements for the tote bag:
· Bottom rectangle: 15" x 4½" shrank to 10" x 4"
· Sides: 19" high shrank to 17" high
· Straps: 3" wide x 24" long shrank to 2" wide x 22" long

And for the purse:
· Pocket: 7" wide x 5½" tall shrank to 5" wide x 5" tall
· Flap: 3½" long shrank to 3" long
· Strap: 17" long shrank to 13" long

I put the tote bag over a shoe box wrapped in a plastic bag in order to shape it while it dried. I hung the purse over a wooden spoon to dry.

And here are the finished pieces after drying.

All in all, I'm calling it a success. And I can't wait to try to felt something else!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Look! A New Entry!

Okay, let's see if I remember how to do this.

Yes, it's been more than a few months since I updated this space. Sorry! Life has been really busy. But I'm hopefully getting a handle on things now and will be around a bit more. Or not. We'll see! :-)

I'm still volunteering at the food pantry and the help line, but now I have a new part-time job, which I job-share with another woman. I'm working for a company that manufactures factory parts — that is, things like motors and drives and gears used in the factory itself. I'm a regional coordinator (aka administrative assistant) supporting a team that includes a regional sales manager and thirteen field sales engineers. The work is really interesting and varies day to day. I've been there for about two months now, and I still have a lot to learn, but everyone is nice and helpful.

I work every Thursday and Friday and every other Wednesday, and my job-share partner works the other days. Job-sharing is working out well. We cover for each other when one of us needs to take a day or three off. For example, I worked every day last week so my partner could go visit her daughter, and she'll work every day this week so I can go to Chicago.

So I've definitely succeeded in getting myself out of my dungeon office and into the real world. And so far I'm really happy!

Brigid has spent most of the summer up at Northwestern University for the Center for Talent Development summer program. They run two three-week sessions, each of which covers a full year of coursework. Last year she took a full year of honors physics in the three-week session, and she loved it so much that she begged us to let her go to both sessions this year. She took AP computer programming during the first session, and she's taking AP calculus right now. She'd originally planned to take Latin, but she was the only student who signed up for that class, so she ended up taking the programming class instead.

I've been working on a new crochet project. I haven't finished the afghan I was working on yet, but it's just too dang hot to work on an afghan right now. Instead I took up a smaller project, one that is much better suited to a scorching summer. I'm making a tote bag, and I intend to felt it, which I haven't tried before. And of course, rather than starting with something small, I leapt right in with a big tote bag. I sure hope it works right! I'm not really following a particular pattern. I looked at a bunch online in various places, then decided to just wing it. I'm still crocheting the bag, and I need to figure out how I want to do the handles. I have a few options to consider, such as crocheting attached handles, crocheting handles to sew on, or even crocheting or braiding leather strips. I intend to use the tote bag (assuming it turns out good enough!) to carry an umbrella and a book or two and anything else I need to tote into work every day, so the handles need to be moderately strong.

I'll try to take some pictures over the next few days and post my progress.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Okay, those of you who came here looking for crochet stuff today: Sorry! All nerdy programming stuff instead.

I've been slowly making my way through a couple of teach-yourself C++ books, trying to learn the language. I haven't done any serious programming for almost twenty years, and I'm finding that my programming muscles are a bit rusty. But it's coming back, slowly but surely.

Object-oriented programming (OOP) was just being invented when I graduated from college — or rather, it was just entering the mainstream at that time. In any case, they weren't teaching it at most universities yet. I learned BASIC, Fortran, and COBOL, then I learned top-down structured programming, using Pascal and C. I really liked the top-down structured approach. It just clicked with how my brain seemed to work.

I worked as a C programmer for a while after graduation, then eventually dropped out of the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom. Around the time I was having Brigid, OOP was really taking off, but I never had the opportunity to learn it.

So now, in learning C++, I'm making all sorts of baby programs, simple things like converting degrees from Fahrenheit to Celsius, and finding areas of rectangles, and printing cute grids of X's. Playing around with recursions and iterations, if...else statements, for loops, do...while loops, and so on. Simple stuff, but still fun to do.

I still haven't gotten to the OOP part yet though, and I must admit I'm a bit apprehensive about this part. Will I be able to break out of the top-down structured programming mold and embrace objects and polymorphism and encapsulation and inheritance? Oh, well, no matter. I'm having fun trying, and that's the important part right now.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

Long overdue for an update here, I see. Well, life intrudes and the blog gets forgotten. Sorry!

First, my voice: I have had great improvement over the past few weeks. My voice is not completely back to normal, but it is so much better than it was. If this is as good as it gets, I'll be happy. Most of the time I sound pretty decent. I know it's not exactly my old voice, but most people wouldn't really notice anything weird about it. Occasionally, when I'm tired, my voice gets a bit grumbly sounding, but again, it's not been too bad and anyone who notices it thinks I'm just getting a bit hoarse. I did speech therapy exercises for one whole week, and my voice was improving so much that I didn't see much need to continue with the exercises. If my voice should get worse, I can always restart the exercises. The main improvement is in volume level. I'm able to speak at a normal volume, so I'm no longer competing with ambient noise. Overall, I'm extremely happy about my voice. Yay!

Next, work life: I have been taking a break from copyediting for the past few months. I edited for ten years, and although I absolutely loved it when I started, the work over the past year or three has gotten less enjoyable. When I took the break, I started doing some volunteer work at a couple of nonprofit agencies here in town. I have really enjoyed doing something worthwhile, which I expected, but the unexpected part was learning how much I had missed working with real live actual people, not just disembodied voices on the phone or, worse, inanimate e-mail messages. It has slowly occurred to me that I have spent the past ten years holed up in my dungeon office in the basement, alone far too long! My job was perfect for a stay-at-home mom of a school-age child. I was able to set my own schedule, work while she was at school, take off when she needed me to, and still bring in a bit of money. But now that I've had a taste of the real world again, I can see that I'm way overdue to rejoin the land of the working stiffs, following someone else's rules and schedules, trudging in the corporate cesspool, . . . Oh, wait, I'm supposed to be excited about this.

Yeah, I'm going to get a REAL job. Of course, Brigid still has one more year of school before she's off to college, plus I still want to continue my volunteer work for a while longer, so I'm trying to find a part-time job.

What do I want to do? Well, I'm starting out looking for an office job, clerical work of some sort. But I'm also relearning C++. Yes, I used to be a programmer way back in the Stone Age, and I hope to eventually return to a career in programming. We'll see how it goes. For now, I'll be happy if I can find someone who wants a Monday-Tuesday-Friday office worker!

And, yes, I actually am excited about this.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pardon This Commercial Interruption

I really don't want to sound like a commercial, but I realize that's how this is going to sound. So, yeah, I apologize in advance.

On most days, I fix a big healthy salad (recipe below) for my lunch. I have Hidden Valley Light Ranch dressing with it. I've eaten this light low-fat dressing for several years now. It's good, especially for a light dressing, but not as good as regular full-fat dressing, of course. (And for the record, both the regular and the light versions of Hidden Valley Original Ranch are the best-tasting bottled ranch dressings. I haven't tried the nonfat version, though, so I can't comment on that one.)

So, okay, here's the part that's going to sound like a commercial. Recently I open a new bottle of Hidden Valley Light Ranch dressing and am startled by the delicious — yes, delicious — dressing. Not merely good, but delicious. I look at the label to be sure I hadn't accidentally bought regular ranch dressing. No, the label says "Hidden Valley the Original Ranch Light Dressing." I take another bite of my salad. My tastebuds have a little party. This tastes as great as regular full-fat ranch dressing. I pick up the bottle again. Yes, it says "Light" right there on the label. And on the back label. And on the label wrapped around the neck. Has Hidden Valley reformulated its light dressing? If so, this could revolutionize salads! Imagine, a light ranch dressing that tastes exactly like a regular full-fat ranch dressing! I reread the label. Nowhere does it say "New! Improved!" Hmm, I say to myself, perhaps this bottle was accidentally mislabeled. If that's the case, when I open the next bottle, I'm going to be awfully disappointed and I'm going to have to get used to merely good dressing again instead of great dressing.

And now I'm in a quandary. Do I call Hidden Valley customer service and risk sounding like some cheesy beer commercial: "Um, yeah, my new bottle of light ranch dressing tastes really great. Have you all added extra flavor to your light ranch dressing, or maybe did a batch of regular ranch dressing get the wrong labels?"

I have such a hard life.

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Lisa's Big Healthy Salad

• 2–3 cups of torn romaine lettuce
• freshly ground pepper
• 1 tablespoon of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Light dressing
• 2 thin slices of good-quality deli turkey, cut or torn into bite-size pieces
• ¼ cup of shredded carrots
• ¼ cup of frozen corn or peas
• 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
• ½ large apple, chopped (save other half for tomorrow, in a zipper bag with a splash of lemon juice)
• ¼ cup toasted pecans (spread on a cookie sheet, bake in preheated 350° oven for 10–15 minutes, until you can smell the toasted nuts; let cool; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator)

Put romaine lettuce into a one-quart bowl, add freshly ground pepper to taste and the dressing. Mix thoroughly so the dressing lightly coats all the lettuce. Mixing this way is the secret to being able to use much less dressing on your salad without sacrificing the flavor of the dressing. Add the remaining ingredients. Enjoy!