Moving to wordpress

So, I made the jump to a more grown up blogging service. My experience with Wordpress on the Gender Beat project has been enjoyable, and it's definitely a superior site offering flexibility and great services. Also, it's prettier. Here's a link to the new location. I've imported all of my old posts here, and I think most of the comment threads have been transferred as well.

Just Make it Clap

So, I've finally jumped on the band wagon (a little late, I know), and started knitting my very first Clapotis (clap-O-tea). "Started knitting" isn't really an accurate description of how much time I've put into this scarf already. Actually, I started it a couple of weeks ago, and now that I can devote more time to knitting, I'm almost done with it. I'd purchased to skeins of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn a while ago. In two different dye lots. I wasn't planning on using either for my rendition of the Clap, but I'd always heard that Noro has these amazing, long color changes. So, I decided to give it a test run. I fell in love with the first skein, which has all the colors of the forest at the very beginning of fall. I decided to stripe the first & second skein for about 6 inches (which was enough to use up the last bit of the first skein, lucky!) and finish the Clap with the second skein. The second skein is more spring-y in color, hues of purple, pink, blue, an electric yellow, bright teal, and some gray. Somehow it all works perfectly, and the striped section makes for a smooth transition between the two skeins. I think. I hope. I'm kind of biased at this point. All in all, I'm totally infatuated with Clapotis. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that for the past 18 months I was working on the scarf of death, aka the Dr. Who Scarf (15-20 feet of straight up motherfucking garter stitch, ya'll). Regardless, I'm enjoying this mindless knitting a lot. Probably more than I should. I mean, I should probably start looking for challenging knitting. Like lace. Or intarsia. Or a fairisle sweater knit in lace/fingering weight. Whatever.

So, I've just spent the past, oh, 200-300 words talking about my knitting, but that's only because the next most pressing things on my mind are a little overwhelming. I'd end up spewing my cognitive baggage all over this screen, taking anyone and everyone who is unfortunate enough to read the first syllables of "whatthefuckamidoingwithmylifeholyshiti'mgraduatingbutiwon'thaveajobinabouttwoweeksandihavetolookforanewplacetoliveandi'myoungandinexperiencedasfarastherestoftheworldisconcerned....."

down with me into an abysmal depths of anxiety and self-doubt. And probably naivete. Plenty of that round these parts, too, I'm sure.

I guess all you need to know is that: I'm graduating. My current employment ends immediately upon my graduation. I've sent out manymanymany job applications. I've spent the last two months looking for a new roommmate and a new 3 bedroom apartment that met all of our (Boifren & Smuggi & mine) requirements. And, I officially declined my offer to attend OSU. AND, I am PETRIFIED that I will do NOTHING in this Ford Lumina town that will put me on a path towards...something awesome. Or at least something that doesn't make me feel like I'm settling, selling myself short, etc.

Well, back to the knitting? where the hell did anthropology go? I totally stopped writing about anthropology at some point. That's probably because of Mr. Thesis, which, by the way, is OVER. Officially. As in, professionally bound and submitted in quadruplicate to the Honors College (and I have two extra bound copies for myself). Relieving doesn't even begin to describe how it felt to turn that stack of suck into Ms. Montgomery's office. If you have the opportunity to do an undergraduate thesis DO IT. I know that's not what you were expecting. I have complained about that beast for a long time. But the sense of accomplishment and also knowing that you're capable of that (and so much more) is pretty fucking satisfying. I pushed myself hard, but I know I didn't come close to my real limits. By limits I mean that I know that didn't completely exhaust myself to the point of being curled up in the fetal position in the corner, pants-less and muttering about the way things should have been.

This is starting to get too long and a little incoherent. Which means it's time to apply to more jobs!!!! Strategy for success, ya'll!

Dyeing Yarn with Kool Aid: A Beginner's review

You may or may not recall that Betty & I procured a raw fleece at Gulf Wars this past March (for $8). I had just taken a class on processing raw fiber, and my enthusiasm for processing my own fiber was, obviously, fresh and unsatisfied (oh how quickly that would change!).

Since March, I have been combing the wool by hand with these deadly things. You can't really tell from the image, but those tines are razor fucking sharp, and I tore up all the fingers on my right hand while I combed. Much blood was spilled, luckily (or not) I did happen to have a handful of wool in my right hand - since I was combing it - thus, no clean up. The combs are also very small which severely limits how much wool you can comb at a time (about 2-4 locks)

A few weeks ago, I bought a pair of these carders from a dear woman living in good ol' Texas for $40 (a steal!). These babies have really sped things up, although, admittedly, processing wool by hand is a painful (in more ways than one) and SLOW process. I do love these carders, though, and in the past week I've carded the same amount of wool it took me about 1.5 months to comb with the death combs from Home Depot.

I got pretty antsy and impatient and decided that the best way to multitask while I was reading for my thesis (ie: half-ass procrastinate) was to experiment with dyeing wool with Kool Aid. I used this tutorial and this video to learn the "technique." I also experimented with mixing the colors and realized that a little goes a long way with Kool Aid.

Picture below. I used the microwave method for the two on the left, and the stove-top method for the two on the right. The colors are fairly accurate but a little too rich in the photo, but it's the best one I could get on my point-and-shoot.

From left to right, approximate color combos:

1. 1/2 pack Lemon lime, 1/2 pack blue raspberry, 2 packs lemonade
2. 2 packs black cherry, 1/2 grape
3. 2 packs berry blue, 1.5 packs lemon lime, 1/2 pack blue rasberry
4. 1.5 packs grape, 1.5 packs blue raspberry,

I didn't take notes on the exact ratios of colors/flavors (can I say flavors of wool, because I like that idea), and I have the memory of a goldfish. So...when I say approximate I mean it.

I'm kind of "eh" about all of these colors, particularly the one on the far right. I wanted a limey-er color for No. 1; a deeper, richer wine-y red for No. 2; No. 3's pretty close to what I wanted but it needs a tad more blue; and, although I kind of like that mottled effect on No. 4 - it's totally not what I wanted or expected. I wanted a deep rich purple-y-navy-ish color. I'm hoping if I blend No. 4 I might actually get what I want. The black cherry I used in No. 2 is obviously overpowering the grape, and I needed to use a bit more grape and maybe some berry blue. I should have used less blue/lime in No. 1, or just used 3 packets of the Lemon Lime to get what I wanted.

It's really hard to predict the colors because the ratio of water to Kool Aid doesn't matter, although the water does dilute the color a bit. Really, it's the ratio of Kool Aid/dye to wool that's important. I wasn't sure how much roving I should or could stuff in the jars. Also, Kool aid has a lot of pink/pink variations but not a lot of blue & green shades - kind of disappointing & limiting.

I'm going to experiment with Kool Aid Mixology more in the future. I DO like that the dye doesn't take evenly and I'm hoping this will create a nice heathered effect after the wool is spun & knit.

So, we've come to Pro v. Con, 2010:

Pros of Kool Aid dyeing: cheap, easy, fairly quick (especially if you use the microwave method), decent range of colors, space/energy efficient

Cons: makes kitchen/apartment/entire living space smell like artificial fruit scents; can't easily predict colors without long-term experience; wool may smell for a while afterward; Kool Aid lacks wide range of colors & mixing isn't very intuitive

Conclusion: I'm broke and mildly satisfied with this method, at least enough to want to continue to experiment. So, I will. And I'll post about it. And after I've done it a few times then I'll decide if it sucks balls or is really worth all the praise it gets on the internet.

(no subject)

I just heard this story on npr on the way home from the post office, more precisely, on the way home after being rejected from the post office (they locked the doors just as I was reaching for the handle). Frankly, I'm alarmed and frustrated. Legislation that interferes with individual choice, religion, and identity on one of the most basic levels - how we cover and clothe our bodies - and simultaneously masquerades as some sort of human rights/feminist campaign is...bullshit. Actually, I'd like to formally call bullshit on Belgium right now.

First of all, let's make sure we know that I am and what I am not talking about:

1). While I -do- have legitimate and intense opinions (not favorable ones) regarding the obligatory wearing of the burka, hijab , or any other body covering that is exclusively mandatory for women and not men, I am not going to discuss that here. Why? Because I am assuming that Muslim Beglians, by virtue of living in Belgium and not Afghanistan, have a real choice on whether or not they (women) wear various types of head/body coverings. I'm also not going to address whatever "inherent" oppression coverings may or may not possess, mostly because I think the real oppression has more to do with the environment in which it is worn (enforced or not) rather than the silk itself.

2). Following the logic of No.1 and the assumptions inherent in it, I am not going to address social pressures Muslim women born or living in Belgium may or may not experience regarding wearing various head/body coverings. In other words, I'm not going to speculate on whether or not other members of their community, men or women, place any kind of pressure on women to cover themselves in particular way. I'm mostly avoiding this because it's kind of irrelevant to what I really want to talk about (although, it's an interesting debate in it's own right, and maybe I'll rant about it later) which is:

3). Outlawing religious dress is: a). ridiculous, b). unethical, c). will result in even more Islamophobia, and targeting women's religious dress is sexist, anti-feminist.

Who exactly is supporting/writing this legislation? According to NPR it's non-Muslim Belgians. This kind of reminds me of white folks who are intent on "saving" or "helping" or "whatever-ing" other people (specifically people of color and those who live in other countries) who they come to think of as poor, unfortunate, unable to help themselves, incapable, and in desperate need of White assistance and salvation.

ANYWAYS...what the fuck Belgium? So, seeing a woman wearing the hijab/burka/other head covering makes you uncomfortable? Why? That's the question I'd really like the answer to. What kind of assumptions do we make when we see a woman clearly marking herself as Muslim? Obviously, there's a long laundry list which accompanies any answer to this question.

They're making Islam illegal, and that's a problem. The Koran simply states "dress modestly," and this obviously has had many different interpretations. Obviously, several "styles" of Muslim dress are prolific, and I suspect that they are cultural as much as they are religious. Admittedly, in some countries muslim women are forced to dress a certain way, but this is likely not the case in Belgium (see No.'s 1 & 2).

Supporters of the legislation say that it brings Belgian Muslims freedom. Bullshit. I think Belgium's making a lot of problematic assumptions about  Islam, gender, and freedom. The way I see it, the only entity attempting to limit Belgian Muslim women's freedom is Belgium itself. By interfering with their religious expression the country is limiting freedom. By legislating clothing, the country is limiting freedom. What Belgium is promoting is xenophobia, hate, and some sort of vague Western European superiority regarding human rights and feminism.

This isn't over...I just have to go to class now.

Spinning Wheel Bust

It's finished. And...not entirely functional. "Surprise, surprise," some of you may be thinking, but the key word is "entirely." As in, it's -mostly- functional. The problem is, as I feared a few months ago after seeing a Babe's Fiber Land wheel in the flesh - uh - pvc, with the size of the PVC piping. I used 3/4" PVC. Most Babe wheels, I now know, use at least 2" pipe. Because I filled the base with sand, it's pretty solid, but I couldn't fill the upright with sand. It's very flexible and shakes and shimmies violently when I treadle. Even if I did fill it with sand, I'd still have the same problem because it's still be proportionally top-heavy.

I have decided to re-make this wheel (yes, I am that stubborn, "ornery," and hard-headed) using 2" or bigger PVC the second time around. I'm also going to improve upon the design by using "buttresses" of sorts, based on Babe's "pinkie" wheel. I also like the concept behind this design, but I'm a little skeptical of the stability of the whole thing. It also lacks a treadle which kind of defeats the purpose of a spinning wheel (to me, anyways - I'm getting into this business to have -both- hands free to draft)

Well, here are the pictures. I also realize that I need to make the whole thing shorter. The wheel itself needs to be lowered a good four inches. Then the mother-of-all can come down more so that it's about 2 inches above the wheel or less. Then the flyer can come down a good two inches. In short, the whole thing is too tall. I'm going to keep the base wide in my next design, but move the wheel assembly to the middle of the base so that there will be equal portions of the base in front of and behind the wheel. 2" PVC filled with sand/gravel should be plenty heavy to stop all jerking caused by the force of treadling. I think the lower center of gravity will help as well. Also, the larger pvc shouldn't be as flexible and will likely resist bending caused by my foot repeatedly slamming down on the treadle.

I'd love to get some good shots at Babe's footman construction, but he/she is smart and has managed to make sure only thumbnail-sized photos are on the internet. Jerk.

I also forgot that I wanted a built-in Lazy Kate, so now I can do that! And, I won't add the treadle as an after-though, because what I have going right now is shitty.



Two Words: Spinning. Wheel.

That's right. It's here. I mean, I'm finally building it, and it's nearly done! I need to do some last minute fiddling and hole drilling and screwing in various hardware bits. But, other than that, I've got the basic components put together.


I know it's a small pic, but above is the base with -very securely- attached 20" bicycle wheel. The pile of stuff in front of it includes the flyer I'm borrowing (thanks Nancy!!) and the mother of all to hold the flyer, some tools, a bag of sand, and other stuff I'm using to make the treadle/pedal system.

Above: aerial shot of the wheel-to-frame attachments.

Above: another view of the wheel-to-frame attachment site. The rectangle base (pictured below) and the frame pole is filled with sand up to the connection with the bike wheel. It makes for a much more stable structure that barley, nearly imperceptibly wobbles. Which is pretty good for a cobbled together bunch of pvc and miscellaneous hardware.

I'll probably finish it tomorrow! Woo!

Fiber Crazy!

So, I've barely finished washing the fleece I bought a week ago - my FIRST raw fleece - and I'm already scouring ebay, google, and youtube for resources on making my own processing tools, cheap alpaca fleeces, and (this is my favorite) dyeing rovings and yarn with kool aid. Now, I already kind of knew about this stuff but never really paid much attention to processing my own fibers. First of all, I thought that I'd have to have tons of money to do this. Fortunately, that's not the case as long as: 1). I'm not snobby, 2). don't mind doing a little extra work initially to get what I want, and 3). I plan and think and plan and think. Turns out, I can make most of the things I need for relatively cheap. They may not be pretty or brand name, but I'll have made them. So, a list!:

1. viking combs - medieval & primitive, even scary - yes; effective & cheap to diy - most definitely
2. drum carder - slightly more complicated and expensive to make, but a diy DC can be less than 1/3 of the commercially bought versions, probably a little crude, but likely just as effective as long as I do #3 above a lot.

Ok, it's a short list. There are other tools that I'll probably need...but right now that's what I'm shooting for. Also, I'm going to be getting a flyer very, very soon, as in within two weeks or less. And a 20" bicycle wheel, and a few other things. Do you know what that means? If you picked C. motherfucking spinning wheel, you won! I can -finally- build that thing and maybe start using it! (after I teach myself, because I really have no idea how to actually spin using a wheel. I get it in theory but just have to get to  that practice bit).

Second: As a kid I pretty much hated kool aid (unless it was rasberry lemonade or cherry), however, what it lacks as a beverage it more than makes up for as a cheap, effective, and fucking amazing method for dying rovings and yarn. I almost want to throw that whole god damn fleece I just bought - and haven't finished washing - into a pot of grape or black cherry right now. Just to see what happens.

I -need- to be doing this (and anthropology) 8-9 hours a day, every day, forever.

In anthropological news: I'm defending April 13th, and I'm kind of nervous. I want My People to come, for sure, but I'm afraid they'll hate me afterward. They probably won't. They're nice. I think they kind of like me a little. But, you know, I've kind of been studying them like animals, and what if they don't like the things I say? I've tried sending out my previous papers several times to everybody I can wrangle an email address out of, but I've RARELY gotten any feedback. So...we'll see.

First Fleece

I bought my first unprocessed fleece at Gulf Wars this past week. It was 8 bucks total, and I'm splitting the cost & wool with a friend (although not the processing labor, which I now know kind of sucks). I'm kind of jumping in head first and don't really know what I'm doing except for a few basics and what I've gleaned from ravelry forums & threads on fleece prep. Here are some photos:

Before washing:

After washing:

I've done 3 washes & rinses in my top-loading washing machine but I just don't think it's getting clean enough. I'm thinking that I'll have to wait for the wool to dry, then comb/flick the ends where a lot of dirt seems to be stuck and then wash again. Here's what I mean:

Also, I know the water in my washing machine (an apartment one) isn't anywhere near 140 degrees F - mostly because I have no problem putting my hands in it, and I do not, by any means, have any kind of tolerance for heat.

Perhaps I should wash small batches on my stove? Or heat water on the stove and carry it down stairs to the washing machine? Or do this in my bathtub? Help!


Ok, so, I have to wait for reviews, the edit, put together some sort of presentation, defend, and THEN I'll be really done. But, the actually hard-core writing part of the thesis is OVER. Capslock just cannot capture my level of excitement right now!!!!! Neither can punctuation. To give you an idea of how overwhelming this whole experience has been consider this:

This Sunday a few friends & neighbors of mine and I are going to smash, break, crash, shatter, and otherwise destroy a previously-purchased stockpile of the finest Goodwill china. Now, BEFORE you tell me that it's incredibly wasteful (like Boifren did when I told him), know that we'll be destroy things that 1). people didn't want, 2). on a giant tarp to contain the litter/mess/danger, and 3). I -really- need this. for...psychological reasons.

In other news, the spinningwheel wheel came in the mail the other day. Hopefully a metalsmith friend of mine will be able to help me out with the footman-connector-thingy that I need from it. Come Thursday (ie: payday) I'm buying a bicycle wheel and ordering the cheapest ashford flyer I can find. And then, finally, I can start building this fucking spinning wheel that I've been obsessing over for months now.

In other other news: my dad is married. AND...they're going to Jamaica for a week. AAAAAND...I'll be "watching" Bebo for a week, which will totally suck for him since I don't have a TV or game system or fancy gaming computer or satellite or extra car for him to cruise in or anything else that he may actually have fun having/doing/operating. On the plus: I'm getting paid. Hopefully dad has the foresight to not hand a wad of cash to Bebo, who will most certainly only give me a fraction of the real amount. I -do- have to feed him, so he better not try to cheat me.

What else don't you want to know about my life in the current moment? Well, I made the mistake of wearing my "europe" shoes today. If you're wondering why this is a mistake it's because I wore that pair of shoes - and only that pair of shoes - for five weeks straight while back packing in europe. With.out.socks.

yes. I did.
Michelle Obama

Want to be writing other things...

Man, I fucking love anthropology, but this whole thesis writing is tor-chew-us. I will probably the postin' the final-ish version for all of my lj friends to read, meaning if I've given you permission to read my virtual diary then you can read it. If not, then you won't get to see it. I do this (I've done it for all my sca papers) because there's a publish issue with SCA corporate that I don't want to deal with, and to cover my ass, I don't want to "publish" it on the internets.

In other news...well there isn't any other news. Mr. Thesis is a selfish, controlling lover who collects all my paychecks, doesn't let me phone my friends or mom, and always demands to know who I'm texting/chatting with. But, don't worry, I've been sneaking a dollar here and there and soon I'll have enough saved up to leave in the middle of the night while the Committee are left to deal with his insufferable attitude. Why oh why didn't I get an annulment when I still could?!

Ok, enough with the battered wife metaphor. That's just wrong, I guess.
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