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?

Monday, January 31, 2005

Nerds Redux

So I saw this link on someone else's blog. The link goes to a test to determine how much of a nerd you are. I couldn't resist:
I am nerdier than 85% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

So then Ron took the test:
I am nerdier than 83% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

And Brigid joined the fun, too:
I am nerdier than 81% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I wasn't exaggerating when I called us the Nerd Family!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Hats: Scary and Artistic

I've been crocheting hats lately. My mother-in-law asked me to make her one—a real request! Of course, being the perfectionist that I am, I can't just crochet a hat. I have to crochet a bunch of hats so she can choose which one suits her best. I'll take some pictures soon of what I've come up with, but in the meantime, you might like to look at some interesting hats some of the Crochet Partners found on the Web. For some reason, my mother-in-law doesn't want me to make her any of these. Hmm.

The nightmare hats first: Swapatorium.

These next hats are works of art, actually, but you have to be really confident in yourself to wear one of these, I think: Voog Hats.

Well, that's it for today. As soon as I finish all my hats, I'll post some photos. That is, if I can convince Brigid to pose for me!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Firefox and Other Non-Microsoft Software

I've recently worked to shake off the shackles of Microsoft. And except for Word and Excel, which I need for work, I've succeeded. What brought this on?

A while ago, I was hit by a bad virus. I keep my antivirus and spyware software up-to-date and run them regularly, but I stumbled onto a website (a reputable commercial website) that had just been hit by a hacker with malicious code. The next day, all the major antivirus companies had this particular code in their databases, but alas, it was too late for me. I was an early adopter. I ended up having to reformat my hard drive and reinstall Windows and all my software.

Fortunately I religiously back up my data files. Every day I back up the work files I used that day, and once a week I back up all my data files. At that time, I was using rewritable CDs for my weekly backups. I used two CDs for this, rotating between them each week. Each CD could hold two weeks of backups, so at any time I had four weeks of backups to use if disaster ever struck.

Well, disaster struck, and after I reinstalled all my software and tracked down all the updates and all that other stuff that goes along with formatting your hard drive, I went to my backup CDs and restored all my data files.

I cursed the hacker for wasting a long weekend of my life, but I was proud of myself for being such an obsessive backer-upper. I even allowed myself to gloat a little. Then life went on.

But one day a few months later, I needed to access an e-mail discussion I'd had with an editor the previous year. I went to Outlook and opened my archive files. I was shocked to discover that instead of going back to 1995 like my archives should have, they went back only a few months! What happened?!

Well, as it turns out, although I'd restored my current Outlook files, I'd neglected to restore my archive files. And in the intervening months, I'd also written over the backup copies of those archives on my CDs. Besides losing all my e-mail, I lost my calendars, and worst of all, I lost my journal entries. I'd been using Outlook's journal feature as a timer for my work, and I used this both for billing and for my taxes. This was a terrible turn of events!

I cried about this for a few days, then realized that no matter how many tears I shed I couldn't retrieve my archives. I decided to place blame squarely where it belongs: on Microsoft's shoulders. Microsoft is such an easy target for hackers. Even though I did everything right, I still got hit with a virus. If I hadn't gotten that stupid virus, I wouldn't have lost all my archives. And if Outlook wasn't such a bloated program that makes bloated data files, I wouldn't have even had to archive my old data. I could have left it in the regular data files where it belongs and where it would have been restored instead of forgotten. This was the end of the road for Microsoft on my computer.

I still use Windows, of course; I have a PC, after all. And as I mentioned above, I also still use Word and Excel, but that's only because all the publishers I work with use them.

So, what do I use instead of Outlook and Explorer?

I have a Palm Zire, so instead of using Outlook, I'm now using the Palm Desktop software, which I've discovered I actually prefer to Outlook. For one thing, I don't have to have the Palm Desktop open for my alarms to go off—unlike Outlook, which will uselessly inform you of all your missed alarms once you open the program.

To replace the journal timer function I used in Outlook, I now use TimeTool for Windows, a small open-source program available here, which does precisely what I need it to do. Using the journal timer in Outlook required a bit of fiddling on my part each day.

To replace Explorer, I switched to Mozilla. I use the Firefox browser and Thunderbird for my e-mail.

Mozilla is open-source software, which means anyone can tinker with it. Lots of people have written extensions for the software, and you can customize the programs to a great degree. No software is safe from security issues, but so far the Mozilla organization has been extremely quick in responding to security flaws, providing fixes immediately, unlike Microsoft.

Firefox is much smaller than most software these days. It's small enough that you can even load it onto a USB memory key, and then you can run it directly from the memory key on another computer—without having to install it. This is great for people like my husband who work for companies that don't want employees to install software but who would rather use Firefox. Or when you're out of town and need to use someone else's computer but want your own bookmarks available.

The thing I like best about Firefox, though, is tabbed browsing. Instead of opening a new copy of Firefox when you want more than one website open, you just open a new tab in your current copy of Firefox. I use the Internet extensively in my work, and having just one copy of my browser open saves valuable space. I open Firefox, then open tabs for Merriam-Webster's dictionary, for Google, for the Library of Congress card catalog, and for whatever other sites I need for the specific manuscript I'm editing. Tabbed browsing changes everything.

I highly recommend Firefox!

And where do I keep my backups these days? The last time we upgraded to a new computer, we kept the old one and use it for backups. Ron dumped Windows from that computer and installed Red Hat Linux. Who knows, maybe someday we'll escape Microsoft completely!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Pattern Update

Just a couple of pieces of business today.

First, I've received some questions about my Collared Poncho with Flower Trim. Can you tell this is the first pattern I've written? So I've updated the pattern, which you can find here. I hope I've addressed all your questions, but if not, please e-mail me! I've also placed a permanent link to the pattern in the Gallery in the sidebar to the left.

Second, I still have a few Gmail invitations left. Read this for details.

Thanks for all your comments and e-mail. I appreciate hearing from you!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Phantom of the Opera

A few years ago we saw The Phantom of the Opera as part of the Broadway Series at Clowes Hall at Butler University in Indianapolis. Although I enjoyed the experience of seeing the stage play, I wasn't completely thrilled with the play itself. The music was just okay, and in an operatic play, the music is rather important. I also couldn't understand the lyrics very well, and in an operatic play, the lyrics are rather important. So I didn't enjoy the music and I didn't understand the story.

Brigid, however, loved Phantom. She insisted on buying the soundtrack, Highlights from the Phantom of the Opera, which featured Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. She also got the piano music book and can play several pieces. She plays the Phantom theme on her keyboard using the organ setting, rather than on the piano though. Sounds very cool. As a result, I have listened to the Phantom music quite a bit over the past few years, and the music has grown on me. I can't say it's among my favorite music, but at least it doesn't make my ears bleed.

When we first saw a trailer for the movie version, Brigid was excited, and naturally has been looking forward to seeing it. So today Ron, Brigid, and I saw the movie.

I enjoyed Emma Rossum as Christine, and I prefer her voice over Sarah Brightman's. Gerard Butler, as the Phantom, didn't suck, but he's no Michael Crawford. I was better able to understand the lyrics in the movie than in the stage production we saw, and so I understood the story better. I thought the love triangle was stronger in the film. Being able to actually see the actors' faces really helped. The movie was a faithful representation of the stage play. A few sets in the movie seemed to be lifted directly from the stage, particularly the scene for "Masquerade." Overall, however, the movie—like the play—was just okay.

Brigid thought the movie was disappointing. She enjoyed the music for the most part, but she absolutely hated Gerard Butler. She knew he had a tough role, trying to follow in Crawford's footsteps as the Phantom, and so she said she tried to keep an open mind about Butler's performance. But according to Brigid, he didn't even sing tenor properly. For example, in one bit he started an octave lower than he should have, which made her mad, then he moved to the proper octave, which also made her mad because that part was supposed to be all in one octave. Yeah. Well, Brigid has taken piano lessons for about nine years and is in her third year of choir at school, whereas I play the kazoo, so she has a bit on me, musically speaking.

Brigid also pointed out a major difficulty of turning the play into a movie: In the play, people often just stand around and sing a song, and it's fine because it's a stage play. But a movie needs action, so in one scene, for example, Christine sings while she walks ve-e-e-e-ery slo-o-o-o-owly through a graveyard toward her father's grave. In the stage version, she merely stands before her father's grave and sings the whole song there. The graveyard in the movie is beautiful, full of low smoky fog, evocative statuary, and dark atmospheric tree branches, but before long I was paying more attention to the cool statues, trying to decide which would look best in my backyard rock garden. A scene loses its emotional punch when it causes you to begin shopping!

Overall, we were happy we saw the movie. We couldn't not see it. For a good take on the movie and the play, read Roger Ebert's review.

By the way, I still have a few Gmail invitations left. Go here for details.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I got a Gmail account several months ago. I have to say, I'm impressed.

I have a Hotmail address, but I dislike the interface and I especially dislike how Hotmail opens links in a Hotmail frame rather than just opening a plain new window. I'd used that address for a few newsletters, but the Hotmail frames just bugged me so much that I've since transferred all those newsletters to my other addresses. I keep the Hotmail account open just because I don't want anyone else to have the address.

I also have a Yahoo address. Yahoo e-mail is okay. At least I don't hate it like I do Hotmail. But the interface is a bit clunky, and I don't like the Yahoo ad that gets pasted to the end of every message. Yahoo also has some weird way of handling suspected spam. A few of my newsletters continue to get routed to my spam box, even though I always click the "not spam" button and even though I've added their addresses to my address book as suggested by Yahoo. And the ads on the web site are too large and annoying. Still, Yahoo mail has served its purpose for me, and I'll retain this address, too.

But Gmail is easily the best online e-mail service available. The interface is decent, and the 1 GB of storage is generous. You can search your saved messages with Google's search engine, a seriously useful feature, especially if you have a pile of saved messages.

What I like the most, though, is the storage scheme Gmail applies to your saved messages. Most e-mail programs let you set up folders, and then you save each message into a specific folder. Gmail doesn't use folders, though. Instead, it lets you apply one or more labels to each message. Then it stores only one copy of the message. So I can label a message that someone sends me through my blog as "blog," but I can also label it as "crochet" or whatever topic the message is about.

You can also download the Gmail Notifier, a small program that informs you whenever you get mail. You don't even need to have a browser open to run the notifier.

This is a free service, so ads are inevitable. But Gmail's ads are generally unobtrusive, which is another thing I like about the service. The e-mail messages themselves contain no ads, not even one for Gmail, so the recipient sees no ads at all. The ads appear only on the Gmail web site, where you read and compose mail, and they are in a strip down the right side of the screen, just like the ads on the main Google search site. I mostly ignore them, which is really easy to do because they are all text ads—no graphics, no blinking, no sounds.

For now, Gmail is still in beta testing, but so far I've noticed no problems with my account. But since it's in beta, you can't just go to the web site and open an account. So how do you get an account if you want one? An interesting marketing ploy on Google's part, a creative way to increase demand: You have to be invited to join. Google occasionally gives account holders some invitations to share. As it happens, I have a few Gmail invitations. E-mail me (the link is on the left side of this page), say something nice that proves you've actually read more of my blog than just this post, and I might send you one! I have only a few, though. As they say in the kiddie contests: Many will enter, few will win!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Bob Dylan Chronicles

I just finished reading Bob Dylan's autobiography, Chronicles, Volume One. This is not a traditional autobiography. He doesn't follow a nice chronological order. Many reviewers of this book have pointed out how much Dylan has protected his privacy over the years, and they express either disappointment or resignation that even in writing an autobiography he still manages to maintain his privacy. I agree that he doesn't divulge juicy details about his life, his family, his marriages, and so on. That doesn't matter, though.

What does matter is the glimpse into the way Dylan thinks, and as a result, the way he creates songs. Instead of divulging juicy secrets, Dylan has instead divulged the inner workings of his creative mind. He has an eye for detail and a gift for expressing them vividly. His descriptions of any particular evening at a coffeehouse, afternoon at a friend's apartment, or night at a New York party may not be entirely true in the strict facts but are certainly true in the details. He notes what a person looked like, how the room was decorated, the feeling of cold winter in the city. In the end, the effect is that the book reads like an extended folk song from his early years.

If you enjoy any of Bob Dylan's music, I recommend this book. Fascinating read.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Scary Movies

We see a lot of movies. I love everything about going to the movie theater: the huge screen, the great sound system, the popcorn. I especially like how much it still feels like going out on a date with my husband. Even if the movie turns out to be not so great, I still enjoy the experience of having gone. I can recall only three exceptions.

The first completely unredeemable movie I went to was Alien. I saw this movie before I met Ron. I love going to the movies, as I said, but I don't like scary movies. Alien had all the elements that I hate in scary movies: tension that starts high and builds, things that jump out unexpectedly, and gross things depicted graphically. What I remember most about this movie is unrelenting terror followed by nightmares that lasted for weeks. I did not marry the guy who took me to see this movie.

The next memorably bad movie I saw was one of Jamie Lee Curtis's slasher movies. I'd seen a couple of bad slasher movies (with other guys I did not marry) and had no desire to see any more. But Jamie Lee Curtis's were supposed to be "good" ones, so the buzz went, and I asked Ron to take me to see her latest—Halloween II. We were dating at the time, and because I'd told him previously that I didn't like scary movies, he tried to convince me that I wouldn't like it. But I ended up prevailing, and off we went. And no more than ten minutes after the opening credits, out we went! As I recall, this movie begins with a quick recap of the first Halloween movie, and the ten-minute opening included all the hated scary-movie elements. This is the only movie I've ever walked out on, but I realized immediately that Ron was oh-so-right: I would seriously regret it if I stayed to watch the whole thing. I felt really bad, though, because now Ron's money had been wasted, but he eventually married me anyway, so I guess he got over it.

The third bad movie experience was Aliens. Yes, the sequel to the much-hated Alien. Ron and I—now married—saw this movie with another couple, Tim and Kathy. We'd decided to see a movie, but hadn't picked one yet. Tim and I both said the only one we didn't want to see was Aliens. We had both seen Alien, we had both hated it, and no way were we going to sit through the sequel. I still don't know how we ended up watching this one. Just before the movie began, a large man with an even larger head sat right in front of me, blocking my view of the screen. Normally, this would completely ruin the movie for me. That was not the case with this movie. I grew to love the back of this man's head. As the movie progressed, I figured out that if I scrunched down in my seat, the man's head would fill nearly the entire screen, and that's how I "watched" the rest of the movie. I remember during one scene I had to turn my head away so that I wouldn't see even the edges around the man's head, and instead I watched Ron's face in profile. He had the most god-awful expression, then his face contorted into something even worse. I did not want to know what he was seeing!

We did not see Alien³, Alien: Resurrection, or Alien vs. Predator. We are still married.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Lord of the Rings

We got two feet of snow just before Christmas. This is a lot of snow for us. A normal "big" snow would be about six to nine inches or so.

So, you're probably wondering what we did while we were snowed in over Christmas, with no newspaper and no mail delivery. Well, first, Brigid and I took a trek around the outside of our house. The extended version of the third Lord of the Rings movie had been released just two weeks before that, and we'd watched all three movies over the course of the previous weekend. While trudging through the knee-deep snow, we decided we felt like we were part of the Fellowship of the Ring: While Gandalf and the others fought their way through the deep snow, Legolas the elf trod lightly atop the snow.

In the snow up to our knees. Brigid is trying to look like the ultralight elf Legolas. (Click on the photo for a larger view.) Posted by Hello

Our adventures in the snow made us want to watch LOTR again, but we decided we really needed to try to see them all in one day, rather than spread over a weekend. And so on Christmas Eve, Brigid and I had a LOTR movie marathon.

For those of you who've seen only the theatrical versions, you really need to see the extended versions. The extra scenes are woven in seamlessly, and they all add great detail to the movie. Some of the extra scenes are crucial to a fuller understanding of the events and the characters. In my opinion, the theatrical versions of these films are really just trailers for the real versions. But the extra scenes do make these already-long movies even longer.

The extended versions of all three movies all together are about eleven and a half hours long. We planned breaks for preparing meals—which we ate in front of the TV—as well as breaks for bathroom, laundry, and a few other small things. We decided it would take us fourteen hours to watch all three movies.

Brigid and I woke up early to start the day. We started watching The Fellowship of the Ring at 8:15 a.m., moved on to The Two Towers in the early afternoon, and began The Return of the King in the evening. The final credits rolled at 10:10 p.m. Our estimate of fourteen hours was accurate!

Where was Ron during all this? He decided not to participate in the LOTR marathon, although he did wander in for a few scenes every so often.

I think seeing them all in one day is the best way to watch these movies. The emotion really builds over the day. You end up feeling as though you've been on the quest with Frodo and Sam and the rest of the fellowship.

We decided that because this certainly isn't something we can do very often, we'd aim for once a year: We would make a LOTR movie marathon our new Christmas Eve tradition.

Great idea in theory. Not so great in practice, as it turns out. As I type these words, Brigid is upstairs having another LOTR movie marathon. At this rate, she's going to wear out the DVDs before next Christmas Eve arrives!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Pattern: Collared Poncho with Flower Trim

Yeah, that's me modeling this poncho. Brigid took the photos, and apparently she had no problem cutting my head off! (Click on photo for a larger view.) Posted by Hello

I designed my own poncho recently. I used TLC Amoré for the body of my poncho and Red Heart Super Saver for the flower, but I think this pattern should work with any yarn. I do like how the TLC Amoré drapes, though, and how soft it feels.

This poncho has four points. The increases at the front and back points alternate between 3 dc and 5 dc every other row, but the increases at the shoulder points are always 3 dc. This method makes a poncho that is slightly longer in the front/back and shorter from side to side.

The neckline is an open collar, and I've attached a crochet flower for added interest.

The poncho I made would fit a medium through an extra large, but ponchos are really easy to alter so they fit properly. In this one, be sure the beginning chain is long enough to fit around your head and settle comfortably on your shoulders.

If you need to adjust the beginning chain (smaller or larger), make sure you chain a multiple of 4, plus 2 more. My starting chain is 70 (or 68 + 2), which gives 68 stitches in each collar row. Then when you start the body portion, divide the number of stitches by 4 to determine where to put the increases. In my poncho, I used 68 ÷ 4, which is 17, so I dc in 16 stitches and increase in the 17th stitch.

Then, because this is crocheted from the neck down, once you start the body portion, you just keep crocheting until it's as long as you want it to be.

I use four stitch markers (I use small safety pins) to mark the increase stitches so that I don't have to pay too much attention to what I'm doing.


Size: From bottom of collar to front point, approximately 25". From bottom of collar to side point, approximately 22".

2 6-ounce skeins of Plum TLC Amoré
1 6-ounce skein of Lake Blue TLC Amoré
small amount of Plumberry Red Heart Super Saver
J hook

Gauge: 5 dc = 2"; 3 rows = 2"

Note: Ch 2 counts as first dc in each row or round. You can ch 3 if you prefer.

With Plum, chain 70. (mult 4 + 2)
Row 1: Dc in 3rd ch from hook, and in each ch across. Ch 2 and turn. (68 st)
Row 2: Dc in each st across. Ch 2 and turn. (68 st)
Rows 3-5: Repeat row 2.
Row 6: Dc in each st across. Cut Plum, leaving a 6"-8" tail for weaving in, and join Lake Blue. Ch 2 and turn. (68 st)

Round 1: Dc in each st across. Join with a sl st to first dc. Do not turn. (68 st)
Round 2: Ch 2. Dc in next 16 st, *3 dc in next st, dc in next 16 st. Repeat from * two more times. 2 dc in last st, join with a sl st to the top of the ch-2, forming the last 3-dc cluster. (76 st)
Round 3: Ch 2. Dc in each st around, BUT: 3 dc in center st of the 3-dc clusters at each shoulder, and 5 dc in center st of the 3-dc clusters at front and back. Join with a sl st to the top of the ch-2.
Round 4: Ch 2. Dc in each st around, BUT: 3 dc in center st of each cluster. Join with a sl st to the top of the ch-2.

Repeat rounds 3 and 4 until you have 9 rounds of Lake Blue. At the end of round 9, cut Lake Blue, leaving a 6"-8" tail for weaving in, and join Plum.

Repeat rounds 3 and 4 until you have 20 rounds of Plum, or until poncho is desired length. Cut Plum, leaving a 6"-8" tail for weaving in, and join Lake Blue.

Work one more round in Lake Blue.

Border round: *Ch 3, sc in 3rd ch from hook, skip next st, sl st in next st. Repeat from * around. Fasten off. Weave in all ends.

With Plumberry, and leaving a long tail to tie flower at the end, ch 4, join to form a ring.
Round 1: *Sc, 2 dc, sc into the ring. Repeat from * four more times. (5 petals)
Round 2: Ch 3, join with a sl st to 2nd sc on back of each petal. Repeat so you have 5 sets of ch 3. Join with a sl st.
Round 3: Sc, 4 dc in each of the ch-3 spaces. (5 petals)
Fasten off, leaving a long tail.
Weave the two tails in enough to secure stitches, then use the remaining length to tie the flower to the front of the collar.

Here's the front point and one shoulder point. (Click on photos for a larger view.) Posted by Hello

Another view Posted by Hello

Notice the picot border. Posted by Hello

Close-up of the collar and the flower Posted by Hello

Hey, thanks for all the kind comments and e-mail you all have sent me. I really appreciate hearing from you. Thanks for reading my blog!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rika and Keiko

We have two female cats.

Rika (pronounced REE kuh) is almost 15 years old. We've had Rika since she was about nine months old. She showed up at our house when Brigid was just two. At that time we were temporarily catless. I'd had to put my first cat, Helix, to sleep while I was pregnant with Brigid. Helix had gotten a stomach tumor and got really sick. After Helix, we took in a stray Siamese cat, Samantha, for a while, but she was not a good pet for us, and we gave her away to another family. At that point, we decided we'd better wait until Brigid was a few years older before we got another cat. Toddlers and cats just don't mix well.

But then one day Rika showed up in our backyard. She let two-year-old Brigid carry her around and pet her too hard and pull her tail, and never once tried to bite Brigid or scratch her or anything. So we ended up adopting her. Brigid came up with Rika's name. One of Brigid's favorite shows at the time was one on Nickelodeon called Eureka's Castle, and I think Brigid must have gotten the name from Eureka. Brigid and Rika have essentially grown up together.

Our other cat, Keiko (pronounced KAY ko), is about five years old. She showed up on our doorstep about a year and a half ago. Normally when a cat comes onto our porch, Rika goes into full cat alarm mode. She alerts the whole house to the mortal danger we're all in. But when Keiko showed up, Rika was really just curious about her. Brigid spent an entire day on the front porch with Keiko, and to make a long story short, we ended up with two cats in our house. Brigid came up with Keiko's name, too.

We thought we'd have trouble converting Keiko into an indoor cat, but as it turns out, she wants to be an indoor cat. Whenever we open the door, she runs away and hides. I think she's still afraid we might kick her out.

Rika and Keiko have quite an age difference between them -- about ten years, which is a lot for cats. Rika is a senior citizen, and the poor girl has arthritis in her hips, which sometimes squeak when she walks. We had to get a two-step stool to put by our bed because she can't jump that high anymore. And I have a chair beside my desk to make it easier for her to climb up here, too.

Rika and Keiko get along pretty well for the most part. Rika lets Keiko groom her, and on rare occasions Rika will take a lick or two on Keiko's head. But Keiko, being much younger, likes to play a lot. Rika tolerates Keiko's playing, and sometimes if she's feeling good, she'll chase Keiko around a bit. But Rika wears out much sooner than Keiko would like, so then Rika ends up telling Keiko rather firmly to leave her alone already.

Keiko for some reason also seems to believe that Rika is the path to the food provider. So when Keiko thinks it's time for dinner, she starts meowing adamantly at Rika. Rika objects to the tone of voice, and next thing you know, they're having a heated discussion about just who is supposed to get us to serve them dinner.

But other than that, they get along great.

Rika and Keiko are enjoying a nap together. (Click on the picture for a larger view.) Posted by Hello

Great for Your Guy Afghan

Okay, another afghan I'm proud of. This one, the "Great for Your Guy" afghan, is from the September 2002 issue of Crochet! magazine. I don't know if their site has back issues, but Jennie Gaskin at Country Yarns carries all sorts of hard-to-find leaflets and back issues of magazines.

This pattern uses a lot of long double crochets, where you double crochet into the stitch in a row below your current row. This makes a thick fabric. As a result, this afghan is heavy and warm. This pattern was fun to work. I think it looks like rows of birds. I also like the border on this afghan.

I made this one using
Red Heart Super Saver. The colors are Dark Plum and Light Gray. (Click on the pictures for a larger view.)

Wide view of the afghan Posted by Hello

Close-up of the stitches Posted by Hello

Another close-up Posted by Hello

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hobnail Afghan

Okay, two posts in one day. As my daughter Brigid would say, Woot!

I've crocheted a lot of afghans over the past few years. Here's one of my favorites. I am really proud of this one, because it was rather challenging for me at the time I made it.

I'm a member of a crochet mailing list, Crochet Partners. This Aran-style pattern, Hobnail Afghan, is from the Crochet Partners Library. I was wanting to make an Aran sweater for myself, and I thought it would be a good idea to make an Aran afghan first, to get the hang of the complicated stitches. I found the stitches weren't difficult once I got going, and this afghan was a lot of fun to make, but I never did make an Aran sweater.

I made my afghan with Red Heart Super Saver. The color is Aran. (Click on the photos for a larger view.)

Hobnail Afghan Posted by Hello

Close-up of the stitches Posted by Hello

Tight close-up Posted by Hello

Petal Stitch Poncho

I do crochet things other than the butterfly shawl. I made this poncho, for example. I made one for my niece Mallory for Christmas, and when I had Brigid try it on for size, she liked it so much that she asked me to make one for her, too. Ooh, a request! How could I turn her down?

This pattern is slightly tricky at the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually quite easy and goes rather quickly. I can make one of the ponchos in just a few hours. I like the open lacy look. This poncho can be worn two ways, with the flowers down the front or over one shoulder. It looks really nice over a turtleneck sweater, like Brigid is wearing in the photos below, or over a tank top in warmer weather. Brigid is still headless in the photos, of course. Shy girl.

I made Brigid's poncho with two 6-ounce skeins of TLC Amoré. The color is Sand. (Click on the photos for a larger view.)

Here, the flowers are in the front. Posted by Hello

Here's a back view with the flowers in the front. Posted by Hello

The flowers can also be worn over one shoulder. Posted by Hello

The points of the poncho are off-center in the front and back. Posted by Hello

Here's a close-up of the stitches. Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Butterfly Shawl

I've fallen in love with a crocheted shawl pattern. Doni, the creator of the pattern, has beautiful close-up pictures of the shawl's construction on her site. The pattern is fun to crochet. The shawl is crocheted from the top down, so you just keep crocheting until you get the size shawl you want. The shawl drapes nicely, and its shape helps it stay on your shoulders. Doni calls it a "batwing" shape, but Brigid thinks it looks like a butterfly. I have to agree with Brigid.

I've made shawls with two or three 6-ounce skeins of TLC Amoré, Lion Brand Homespun, and Bernat Soft Bouclé (5-ounce skeins). I'm pleased with how each of them turned out. The TLC Amoré yarn is rather light and makes a good shawl for spring or fall. The Lion Brand Homespun is much warmer, appropriate for winter wear. The Bernat Soft Bouclé is soft and fluffy.

I made Brigid's shawl (below) using two 6-ounce skeins of Lion Brand Homespun. The color is Montana Sky. I'm particularly happy with this one, perhaps because Brigid has been wearing it quite a bit! (Click on the photos for a larger view.)

Butterfly shawl Posted by Hello

Shawl from the back, showing shape Posted by Hello

Shawl from the back, showing drape Posted by Hello

Shawl from the front. Brigid didn't want her face in the picture. Do you know how hard it is to intentionally cut off someone's head in a photo? Doing it accidentally is much easier! Posted by Hello

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Nerd Family?

Okay, so it's been a while since I've posted. But can you really expect anything more from a die-hard lurker? No. In fact, my output has been quite remarkable so far, so get over it.

We went to a lot of movies over the past few weeks. We've seen National Treasure (B+), Oceans Twelve (C+), Meet the Fockers (B-), Finding Neverland (A), Closer (C+), The Aviator (A), Primer (A), and a few others.

All three of us went to see
Primer. Twice. This movie was made by a former engineer and self-taught filmmaker for about $7,000. It's an interesting puzzle film about a pair of engineers who build a time-travel machine in their garage. The story is naturally a bit convoluted, but well done. We had to see it a second time, though, just so we could figure out exactly what happened. And even after the second viewing, we had quite a discussion and didn't all agree on what happened. This movie was definitely a hit with our family. Of course, I have a degree in math, Ron's degree is in mechanical engineering, and Brigid plans to be an astrophysicist, so we may not be your typical family.