Monday, July 30, 2007

Which LOLCAT am I?

Your Score: Longcat

70% Affectionate, 27% Excitable, 42% Hungry

Protector of truth.

Slayer of darkness.


Longcat may seem like just a regular lengthy cat, but he is, in fact, looong. For proof, observe the longpic.

It is prophesized that Longcat and his archnemesis Tacgnol will battle for supremacy on Caturday. The outcome will change the face of the world, and indeed the very fabric of lolcatdom, forever.

Be grateful that the test has chosen you, and only you, to have this title.

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

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The Universe Called...

I am SO not staying on target with the All-Knitting All the Time Blogging commitment I made not too long ago. Somehow the knitting/fiber arts has once again taken a backseat and try as I might to stay focused, posts related to the Law of Attraction, or the horses, or the band just keep popping up and overtaking. *sigh* Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Knitless Banter.


Awhile back, I stumbled onto this site, Thoughts Become Things, and signed up for the daily Notes from the Universe. They are stunningly, frighteningly accurate sometimes. Like this one from today:
It's not the dazzling voice that makes a singer, Jeanne. Nor clever stories that make a writer. And it's not piles of money that make a tycoon.

It's having a dream and wanting to live it so greatly, that one would rather move with it, and "fail," than succeed in another realm.

You so have what it takes—
[signed] The Universe

At which point, of course, Jeanne, failure becomes impossible, joy becomes the measure of success, and fitting into the jeans you wore back-in-the-day, inevitable. Hubba, hubba.

Anybody else get chills reading that?

Have a pleasant Monday.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mindless Entertainment

I really don't have time for this nonsense, ;-) but I'm easily distracted (and apparently quite sacrilegious and dang that's a hard word to spell). You can blame this on SiressYorkie. Forgive me if the last image is offensive. Just avert your eyes. Pay no attention to the mollification of the Pope. ;-)

First, a little Law of Attraction foreplay—if only:

And now for the "I'm Certain to Burn In Hell For This One" moment, brought to you by Says-It:


Saturday, July 28, 2007

In MY Yard!

I swear I was not dreaming or hallucinating last night. I wish I were. I did not have the camera ready (do I ever?) and it was far too dark to take a photo—besides, the flash might have scared him and that's the last thing I would want. But there it was. In my flowerbed out front. Ambling through, shaking off its little feeties, then scurrying away as I watched in horror.

A skunk.

There is no mistaking this, even in limited lighting. I was standing at the front window gazing outside while thinking (OK, talking to myself), when my eye caught movement near my feet (floor-to-ceiling window). I looked down. What the...

I saw a lump. It rooted around. It was as dark as the dirt. I saw a stub tail fluff. I thought, "Manx cat" because we used to have some (outside) and they'd bred (outside) and it was quite possible it could have been a tailless descendant of our previous feline herd.

Then it ambled into the barely-moonlit portion of the front walk.

I do not recall EVER seeing any black cats with two white racing stripes down their back from head to toe. I froze. I even stopped talking to myself for a minute.

It wandered off.

Dear Lord, please tell me that's NOT what has been living under my house all this time? Please tell me it's a fluke, and that I actually have a mole/groundhog like the nice varmint-disposer-ofer told me I had.

Do skunks burrow?


Friday, July 27, 2007

Now With More Sheeting Action

Oh, my, two posts in one day! Whatever is that about?

We've been having some severe weather here in NW Ohio during the past 24 hours. There was an outbreak of Ceiling Cats last night during the thunderstorms, and today brought the aftershocks.

I was out running errands today during a calm spot. I needed some RIT© Color Remover because I did something UNBELIEVABLY stupid and washed a mostly-white quilt, an off-white blanket and a burgundy blanket in the same load and FORGOT to turn it to Cold/Cold. It was on WARM/Cold. The mottled pink quilt and blanket are unacceptable. I never do stuff like this. I always was EVERYTHING in cold water. What the hell? Maytag Gremlins? JoAnn's had some. I got four boxes. We'll see. Luckily it wasn't an IMPORTANT quilt or anything handmade, just a run-of-the-mill department store knock-off.

JoAnn's is next door to the grocery store, so I popped in for a few sundries and as I checked out 15 minutes later, the sprinkles became a gullywasher. Several of us stood under the overhang waiting for it to slow before venturing out. I got a little damp but nothing major. Across the street is the convenience store where I get my milk. I know—why not buy it in the grocery store? Because IMHO the flavor, or lack thereof, of the grocery store's milk SUCKS COW NOZZLES. It tastes like water. So I pay a dollar more for convenience store dairy milk that tastes yummy. And, I always get my one lone Mega Millions ticket, because, you know, I AM already a winner (it's just taking the Universe a little while to make it manifest for me).

Again with the downpour on the way out of the convenience store. I sprinted through the puddles and landed safely in the car. It was one of those rare rainfalls where it's pouring buckets, but the sun is shining. You know what that means, right?

RAINBOW!!! If only my cell phone weren't at home charging. It was gorgeous. It was a full arc, end to end. When I see a rainbow, I believe it's my parents letting me know everything is all right—there is always beauty after the storm. It was warm and humid as I exited the parking lot, but the rain had stopped, the sun was shining, and I was whistling from seeing the Rainbow. I hit the switch and rolled down my window to enjoy the scent of fresh rain on the ground. Nothing like the smell of humid summer earth after a storm.

The streets were a bit flooded from the sudden downpour and I moved to the left-hand lane to be on higher ground (the floods were mostly to the right). I saw it coming right before it happened, but didn't have time to react.

That's right.

Oncoming car.

Speeding despite the wet pavement.

Headed straight for... ENORMOUS flood-puddle.

At the very moment that we passed each other, he plowed through the flood and I watched in horror as the water shot up a gigantic wave about 10 feet high.

Which was now all over the completely-drenched left-side of my body, having come in through my open window.

I'll admit it.

I laughed my ass off. I mean, I asked for that, don'tcha think? Flooded streets? Open window? Smaaaaaaarrrrrt.

I guess I can skip the shower tonight.

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In Cars
Very interesting thing I learned about the "Low Tire" sensor in my 2001 Buick Regal aka The Mothership. Apparently, the old style of sensors only measure overall air pressure, whereas the newer models actually calculate the pressure of each individual tire. The Mothership has the old style.

As my very patient mechanic (VPM) explained to me when I whizzed into the shop in a panic for the forty-thousandth time this summer, unless all four tires have EXACTLY the same amount of air in them, the Low Tire sensor will go off. When one tire has more (or less) air in it than the others, it spins at a different rate from the others. The tire pressure sensor picks up on this, registers it, and sends out a LOW TIRE!!!!!!! warning to scare the bejeebus out of the driver with visions of high-speed blowouts in the middle of the night on a highway somewhere in Michigan. Only one tire was a tad low but not dangerously so.

My VPM evened up the pressure, reset the sensor, fixed the right windshield wiper (every now and then it gets a loose screw and refuses to do its job) and sent me on my way.

For free.

Gotta love that.

Must be why Dad patronized their shop for 40-some years.

In the Band Update department, major discussions have been occurring regarding the process by which we shall commence the recording. All are in favor of doing a test track with parts to be recorded in the following order: drums, bass, geetar (that's how Ron writes it), keyboards, vocals, rough mix for critique. Each of us has an older version of Cubase™ and the computer and modem power to handle file transfer, so it's up to the RandMan to start us off. I imagine it will take a few false starts to make it go smoothly. Hopefully we can hold off buying the latest version of one of the variations of the software until a bit later but if need be, we're all up for it.

I've been learning how to convert VHS to DVD to MPEG/MOV for uploading to YouTube (more to come on that later when the bugs are worked out) and cleaning the hell out of the house. Take that either way. Either I'm cleaning like hell, or I'm cleaning out the hell. Your call. ;-) Oh, there has been a bit of knitting. I got past the scalloped edge on the Waving Lace sox, just turned the heel, and am processing the gusset right now.

Oh, crap. There goes the thunder and lightning again. Gotta go—

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cheezburger, Anyone?

First of all, commendations go out to anyone who managed to waddle their way through my last extremely self-indulgent version of War & Peace. ;-) In light of yesterday's verbosity, I'll keep this one brief. It's Sunday afternoon and I'm still on a high. I hope it lasts forever!

Meanwhile, I came across a couple of ancient photos of my earliest kittehs and decided to make a couple of Cheezburgers of my own. The first one is Cricket—she was a Manx (stub tail) and she loved her squirrel tail toy (yes, an actual Tail of Squiddle). The second was Cricket's littermat, Gypsy, a tortie.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Can Still Rock In America

OMG. Warning: EXTREMELY LONG picture-heavy post. I had the BEST NIGHT Friday night.

Weekly Horoscope for the week starting 16 July 2007 (emphasis: mine)

Saturday [does "between the hours of midnight and 6 AM Friday Night" count?] is good for joining forces with a group of people [such as my old band, perhaps?] or a committee to see how you can come up with some revolutionary ideas for the good of all concerned [such as how to use technology to our musical advantages, maybe?]. This could involve people from afar [CA, NE, and MI count as "afar" in relation to OH, right?] or who are of a different nationality, or were born in another country. You may make some very unusual friendships today or become involved with a group of people who think outside of the square [yep, it's the band]. This will also stimulate your interest in other belief systems and/or philosophies and may trigger a desire to explore foreign fields [???]. Whatever you do or experience now will make you feel more alive than ever. [surprisingly accurate!]

Horoscope courtesy of Kathy Cooper © 2007 Uranian Nights

In the mid-1980's I was in a band in Michigan called The Task (it was the era of "The" names).

We toured the "A" club circuit in the tri-state area (OH-MI-IN) playing 4-6 nights per week, doing mostly covers and a handful of originals. We definitely leaned toward the hair band genre but our musicality was pretty complex. We covered everything from Ratt, Dokken and Mötley Crüe to Journey, Kansas, Boston, and Heart. Our unique ability to improvise off the cuff and play songs by ear came in handy when the band was mis-booked. If we were at a club that leaned more towards Top-40, we could adjust and pull off fairly successful versions of Whitney Houston if needed, or Judas Priest if we wound up in a biker bar. (Booking agents were notorious for tossing bands gigs that didn't match the band's set lists.)

But what was different about us was that we were all about writing our own music. We took advantage of the practice opportunities that being set up at a club all week provided. Most cover bands treated gigs as just a job: set up, play, drink until dawn, sleep all day, crawl out of bed, do the gig, repeat. Sure, our band would hand out after the gig and have dinner at 4 AM, in bed by dawn and not rise until 1 PM. But instead of waking up, cracking a beer and plopping ourselves in front of the TV until gig time, we would have breakfast (at 1 PM), then meet the bar owner at the club to unlock the doors, then we'd spend the afternoon rehearsing new material and writing new songs. Then we'd grab "lunch" around 6 PM and unwind at the motel until gig time.

I played bass and sang lead vocals. Bill played keyboards and sang the occasional lead (to give me and the audience a break). Randy played drums and Lou played guitar and everyone sang backup vocals. That's right. We had four-part harmony. IN KEY.

If you want an idea of the complexity of the music we played, head on over to YouTube and listen carefully to the bass and vocal lines of Heart's "Never" and try to imagine playing the syncopated bass line and staying in that rhythm while simultaneously singing the counterpoint rhythm of the vocal line. Or, listen to Boston "Smokin'" (apologies for the quality of that, best I could find, it's live with a jam section... we stuck to the original studio version heard on the radio) or Kansas "Carry On (My Wayward Son)", two other songs in our set list. (You can see why we rarely drank during the shows, LOL!)

Well, we did the club circuit for awhile, recorded nine songs, and eventually disbanded; we took a couple of years "off" then regrouped. Our guitarist, Lou, had quit music so we needed a new guitarist. Enter Ron, whom Randy stole from another band. I think. It's a bit hazy. All I remember is that Ron was THE guitarist we'd been looking for forever. The chemistry was set. But we only played a couple of gigs and wrote a few songs before life happened. We knew we had to make a move to take the next step, but we had four different opinions on where to go and how to do it, and we couldn't resolve it, so we just disbanded. I moved to LA then back again and got my bachelors in fine art, Ron took a job with a cover band that actually paid a salary, Randy got a DJ gig, and Bill went to grad school, got married and had two kids.

Fast forward to 2007

Friday night, I met up with two of my three former bandmates, Bill and Randy, up in Michigan. The only one missing was Ron because he's in Nebraska (darn it, I really wish he could have been there!). Bill is, of all things, a physicist now (I know, right?) doing research in California
dealing with solar weather (as in, weather in outer space). (It still seems so weird to me that he does this.) He flew to Michigan to give talks at some physicists' conference. After he was done, the three of us met up at Applebee's, had dinner, then Randy drove us from Ann Arbor to Detroit to watch one of his current bands perform. The guy drums for two bands—one is an 80's Hair Band Tribute band (the one playing last night) and the other is an all-original project.

Being together, it felt like no time had passed at all. None. Like it was yesterday and we were out gigging. Randy has not changed one iota, he looks like time stopped in the 80s. Bill and I look essentially the same, but a little older and *ahem* more filled out than we were in our younger (starving) rocker days. It's the first time I've been in a smoky club like that in 8 years (since quitting my last band). I could do without the smoke... but the rest of it was a blast! Bill & I sat in with the band during third set—Bill on keys, me on vocals only—and performed Journey's "Separate Ways". It FELT great.

The only thing that sucked was that I had absolutely nothing in the monitors so I couldn't hear myself at all! Nobody could on stage (and the soundman was too drunk to pay attention). But the reports from the audience said they could hear it great, and we got more applause and cheers than the rest of the band got all night (so we must not have sucked, LOL). I wish I'd thought to record it. Y'know what? It's time. Time for me to dig out our old videos, digitize them, and upload them to YouTube, and post MP3s of our studio recordings on MySpace. I'll keep you posted on that.

Hmm. It just occurred to me how fitting the lyrics of that song were to our band's situation. "One night will remind you... how we touched and went our separate ways..."

I had forgotten how funny those two are. OMG. No wonder I have such fond memories of that band. The odd thing about this band versus all the other bands I've been in is the intelligence level.

Bill (above left, as always, click for bigger) is a physicist—he's a genius. But absent-minded as hell which adds a comic element. He's the true Absent-Minded Professor. We always thought he kind of resembles basketball player Larry Bird. But OMG can he play keyboards. It's mind-blowing. (Classically-trained pianist.) He and I were the primary songwriters for the band before Ron joined and added his elements. Our writing styles are different, but complementary, and Bill has this knack for taking my songs and arranging them just right. Randy (above right)... when he walks in the room, people do doubletakes because they think it's Tommy Lee (from Mötley Crüe). He drums like that, too. Flash, spinning the sticks, standing on his drums, so solid on the beat we used to call him Metronome. I mean his drumming is perfect precision. You wouldn't expect these two to be in the same band or have the same intelligence level, but they do. Randy is fricking genius-level smart. (I guess he's the true oxymoron of drummers because he's a drummer who isn't a moron. No offense to any drummers out there, it's a stereotype, I know.)

Ron? Well... even though he wasn't there last night (due to his day job in Nebraska), I'm posting an ancient photo of him. He doesn't look like anyone except Ron. Which, in my eyes, ain't such a bad thing, if ya know what I mean. Excuse me while I drool over here. And, yeah... since I'm sure you're wondering... we were. ;-) That was MY main squeeze. He's a phenomenal guitar player, a great songwriter, and one heckuva genuinely nice guy.

And just for fun, here's what *I* looked like back then.

Scary, ain't it?

(BTW, I took the photos of the boys but we forgot to take one of me that day. Ooops.)

Here's the band all together. My Dad took this picture. Since Bill, Randy and Ron all lived up in Michigan, my parents had graciously allowed the boys to stay at our house for a few days every couple of weeks so we could practice in the family room (also where the boys "lived"). This must have been a Friday or Saturday night. We were heading out for the evening to a club to watch another band (so for Ron and I it doubled as a date). (Yeah, I realize in the photo I'm leaning on Bill. That's only because Dad was watching, and Bill was "safe".)

Example of their bizarre sense of humor: Randy said to me last night, "So, I hear that you're pursuing Sequential Textile Engineering."

It took me a minute to put it together before I laughed.

Sequential Textile Engineering="knitting" to the rest of the world.

I guess you'd have to be there. It cannot be described. Their sense of comedic timing and being able to play off of each other as they toss ideas around is impeccable. And if we added Ron to the mix... I'd be dead from laughter. I mean, how lucky could I have gotten, to have that band? Full of extremely talented musicians with the bonus that we're all on the same level, have the same uncommonly strange sense of humor, and a fantastic musical chemistry? We have always been the sole four members of a mutual admiration society.

Their humor level goes over so many people's heads (which is too bad, because it's sidesplitting). But I get it. And all night I nearly spewed beer/food about 1,000 times and I laughed so hard my stomach hurt today. Since losing my parents, I haven't genuinely laughed much in over two years. But Friday night? That was in another galaxy. I have not laughed like that since the 1980s! I mean belly laughs, complete with the occasional unintentional snort, totally unrestrained. The way you laugh when life is perfect, all the planets are aligned, and you have no worries or cares in the world. The way you laugh when you're a kid.

For the first time in years, I woke up genuinely, truly happy (granted, it was 2:30 PM because the sun was rising as I drove home—haven't done that in years, either!), motivated, and surprisingly feeling kind of like someone I'd forgotten how to be. If that makes any sense. I've got energy. I'm practically VIBRATING with energy. Like my horoscope said, my Circadian Rhythms are completely screwed up now, but I feel more alive than ever. I'm almost tearing up as I write this, because I thought that feeling was lost forever.

It's not. It's still there. For the first time in too many months, I am looking forward to life. I see possibilities. I SEE a future.

That band should have "made it". But in the 1980s, female singers weren't common—it was unbelievably hard to convince most bands just to let me audition based solely on the fact that I didn't have the right "equipment". I wish I'd come up with the perfect response back then—I have, since. Apologies for the off-color language, but I can't count how many times I was told "you're a really kick-ass singer, but you don't have a dick and balls". I should have responded, "Neither do you, or you'd take a chance on having a woman front your band". Luckily for me, Bill and Randy were looking FOR a female singer.

In addition, recording/producing/distributing music in the 80's was REALLY expensive. You had to go into a professional studio to record (at minimum $40/hr), you had to have a contract with a recording company to get access to the distribution channels so your albums would get into the stores and on the radio, and you had to press vinyl. We got as far as recording and mixing the 9 songs, pressing the glass master, and getting three test pressings in vinyl of the album (and personal tape copies) before we ran out of money. I think we got it played on local radio a handful of times but that was it.

So eventually the band split and life happened. But we all stayed loosely in touch. Over a 20-year time span through Bill's marriage, everyone's jobs and major life events, and many relocations.

Here's the funny thing. NOW, all of us have at least one if not more computers. NOW, we all have high-speed internet. NOW, we all have fleshed out our musical arsenals to ridiculous proportions—Ron has 30 guitars, Randy has 10 full drum kits (and guitars, a bass and keyboards), Bill has a top-of-the-line weighted keyboard rig, and I have my seven guitars, bass, banjo, and Hawaiian slide guitar (I'm working on learning to play those last two). NOW, we all have recording software on our computers and digital recording devices of some sort.

NOW, technology has made it possible to get professional-quality recording in a home studio environment for a fraction of what it used to cost to record a three-song demo. Technology has also made the world far smaller. NOW, a band can record a song tonight, upload it to MySpace or Limewire or GarageBand (or even iTunes), and by tomorrow morning, fans can download it in Japan, Australia, Iceland... as long as they have an internet connection, they have access. And it's all possible without the restrictions or interference of a record label.

Technology has also made it possible to record an album while living in different parts of the world. Again, all you need is a laptop, an internet connection, and the right software, and the drummer can track his parts in Michigan and upload the rough mix... the keyboardist can lay down his riffs in California and add it to the mix and upload that... the guitarist can jam his parts in Nebraska and send it off to the singer/bassist who can record her parts in her little studio in Ohio...

Do you see where this is going?

The Task lives again. Long live The Task.

Actually, long live the band with a new name yet to be determined since the name we had renamed ourselves with when Ron joined is already taken by a goth metal band in LA (Dame Fortune—who are, BTW, really cool guys—I communicated with the guitarist a few years ago about the name when Bill and I had been considering releasing the old stuff under that name and found the domain name was already taken; since they were an actively playing band, Bill and I agreed to let it go) and The Task, well... clunk clunk.

Long live... TBA.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Tonight I got my knit on at Yarn Haven. (About time, right? I mean the place is only about 15-20 minutes from here.) I was not expecting that big of a crowd! I was told that a typical turn-out is 25 people. WOW! There had to be around 20 tonight.

Everyone was so nice! I met Sarah, Karen, Emily and several others whose names I promise I'll catch the next time—I remember Patty and Elaine. OK. That's pretty good for me on a first meeting. The first words Sarah said to me were, "Are you 'Knitty Banter'?" Wow! How cool/weird to be "recognized". She told me her name and I knew her blog, too (and Karen's). The only local blogger (so far) that I've met online who wasn't present tonight was Becky. But she'll be there next week. All three of them have been in my Bloglines roll for awhile now. I heard the word "blog" tossed around a lot—I imagine I'll be surprised when I learn who else has blogs and who doesn't, and who else I've been reading.

It was a lot of fun. Everyone had an interesting project with them and the knitting levels ranged from just beginning to really experienced knitters so I fit in somewhere in the middle. But next time, I'm taking something less intense. I took the Waving Lace Socks (on size #1 DPNs using Lorna's, charts) and I probably would have been much more sociable had I not finished the first toe-up last night (I could have been knitting that instead).

I'll admit it, I have KIPhobia. Fear of knitting in public. If I'm in front of muggles, no problem. But in front of other knitters? I feel like I have fourteen thumbs and they're all on backward. Yes, it's true! I honestly fear having my knitting ability judged. I know. Laugh. Please. I do. The sad thing is, it extends to everything except singing. I can get up and sing in front of people—wait, should I admit this? The other bloggers might read this and want a command performance. I mean I can do it in the right situation—like in a bar with a band or karaoke machine, not just open my mouth on the street and sing. But I digress. I feel like a dorky beginner in front of anyone remotely horse-oriented (despite my L1 pass and my L2 student status and plenty of PNH clinics), or when I try to spin in front of "real" spinners.

Yes, I know, it's only knitting. I'm not being graded. Nobody really cares if I'm good or not, if I split my stitches, or if I'm Lily Chin fast, or slower than molasses. It's for FUN. Right? Right. I know that. And I HAD fun! I'm planning to go next week even. But because of my KIPhobia, I could not bring myself to attempt to cast on for toe-up Sock #1 as my first impression because I just learned that cast-on, even though they would have been much easier to knit (stockinette all the way, baby). No. I had to pull out the Waving Lace. Good grief! :-) It's all good, though. Eventually I relaxed. Believe it or not, I'm really quite shy underneath it all. No. Really. I am.

They were all so nice! Karen and I lusted after some of the gorgeous new sock yarns and the alpaca-soy blends (40% off!!!). I almost bought some Addi's but I couldn't remember which magazine had the sock pattern in them or what size I needed. Next week. Or tomorrow. Whichever comes first.

Emily is a new knitter (don't know if she blogs yet). She finished a dishcloth tonight (first project ever) then cast on for her second project—a felted vase/pot—in the round. I believe there is even a color change involved! I'm impressed. She's catching on quickly and I wouldn't have known it was her second project if she hadn't told me. Well, she IS related to Sarah. So the knitability is coded into the DNA. ;-)

Sarah and Karen brought along the Tulip Baby Sweater kits they ordered from Threadbear Fiberarts (one of the sweaters the Harlot has been knitting). The kits are great. They contain several custom colors of yarn and are packaged with just enough yarn to knit the sweater with little left over—making it more affordable than buying whole skeins of each color. The colorways they chose were just gorgeous. Sarah also shared with us some custom yarn from Cider Moon.

I'm so glad I ventured out from my cave for a change. It was good to meet other knitters and see what everyone is doing. Solitary knitting is great, but I think I'm going to like being less of a hermit.

Well, it is getting close to Dog-Time and I'm starving, so that's the update.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007


Yes, by God, Ravelry is the most amazing invention this year. I call it "Ravelutionary". (Maybe they'll use that on a t-shirt.) I'm looking forward to watching it grow and develop. To those of you still awaiting your invite, and especially to those who are poo-pooing it for whatever reason ("only for the elite few/exclusive club" is one comment I've heard), I can only say, it is TOTALLY WORTH the wait, it is beyond amazing when you get there, and everyone who wants to get in will get in.

Ravelry is a fantastic organizational tool, networking spot, and it's fun. It links everything! Your blog, your projects, your stash, your needles & hooks, your friends.... it's like one big knitstravaganza! Dare I say that I nearly had a knitgasm over it?

I realize I've been lack at posting photos. That will change as I begin to flash the stash and UFOs for Ravelry uploading. Right now, I almost have an FO. Yes! Me! An actual Finished Object! Almost. Michael's had some Caron Simply Soft Shadow—yes, I know, sue me it's Ack-crylic—on clearance (now you see why?) for $2.00 per skein (could I pass that up?) and I bought several since Sister would like a pair of WARM socks for Christmas and they can't be wool (she's allergic) and it can't be cotton (I hate knitting it) and they need to be able to survive the Maytag (handwash? dry clean only? what?). Therefore:

{[(Warm - wool ≠ cotton = acrylic) + xmas] + (affordable + washable)} = worsted weight acrylic on clearance

Since I've conquered the two circs method and the DPN cuff-down method (3, 4, and 5 needle variants) and am comfortable with the standard gusset heel, it was time to try Toe-up. Interweave Knits Summer 2007 has a great article on how to do Toe-ups using a short-row heel (two birds dead there), so I did a quick swatch to confirm my suspicion that I used #4s with the Code 4 Medium (aka worsted weight yarn) last time, then I began.

DANG these are knitting up fast! I "got" the Eastern Cast On right away and the short row heel wasn't any big deal at all (and I don't know why so many have issues with it, to be honest). It's great to try it on along the way, and the Tables for every junction along the way enabled me to make adjustments for a perfect fit. I'm almost finished with the cuff on Sock #1. I only cast on two days ago. That's fast for me (with all the other stuff going on).

I think I'm heading to Michael's to stock up. For this pair, I went with the Caron's Simply Soft Shadows 0006 Dark Moss, but the color on the website is way off. It's a gorgeous emerald green that has been plied intermittently with a teal blue, a buttercup yellow, and a hot pink. It's really nice Ack. The other two colors I picked up were the 0007 Mardi Grey (pretty close on the website) and the Opal Twist (it's black, not brown). I'd have to see them IRL, but I think I like the 0004 Autumn and the 0002 Plum Mist if they're close to the photos.

Yarn diet? What diet? Oh wait. That's right. Sock yarn doesn't count. No wonder I've been knitting Nothing But Socks this year—to justify buying more yarn while on a yarn diet! I am truly evil, being able to pull that over myself.

OK, back to the knitting...

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Saturday, July 14, 2007


The burns are better. Yes, I can knit. The worst of it is an ugly hard white blister at the base of my middle finger and a rough spot below that, but otherwise the rest of the burns are greatly improved and really don't hurt today. I can't get over how weird the skin there feels, though. When I open my hand, the burned areas feel tight and stretched. Strange.

Not much went on around here today. I drove down to the gallery to pick up my piece from the Spring Show, a good hour's drive down then another hour back. The gallery owner showed me an old loom that someone had donated—it's in pieces, and it looks fairly old, but for one missing treadle I think all the parts are there. He said the person who donated it claimed it cost $9,000 originally. Looms are rather expensive, when new or when used but in good condition, but I think that was long ago and far away for this loom.

The gallery owner wants to sell it to whomever will make an offer because nobody at the gallery has any idea how to use it, let alone put it back together. Somehow I managed to leave with my pocketbook intact. Having a car that is too small to hold it helps, too. But it was interesting. I only looked at it briefly but didn't find a brand name. Some of the structural parts are metal but the rest is wood and it looks solid.

I'm half-tempted to make a low-ball offer and bring it home and see what it might be. It could always be auctioned off on eBay. Except I think he thinks he can get some "real money" for it, and honestly? It's in pieces. It has a treadle missing (unless it was in one of the boxes of parts). It may not be repairable. I'd give him $50 for it to take it off his hands. If he wants more, he'll have to find someone to reassemble it and see if it's salvageable.

Hmm. I wonder if he'd take fifty for it?

Like I have room. Or time.

I had a hankering for grilled burgers when I got home and since the store FINALLY restocked the Black N Blue burgers last week, I decided to try my hand at it. I'm proud to announce my virgin foray into the world of grilling was successful. It took three tries before I got the thing lit properly—it kept going out and cooling off so I added more lighter fluid (I know, I know, I was careful) and relit it and on the third try I think I overdid the lighter fluid because it caught, and the flames were a tad higher than I was comfortable with, but they eased off and finally, I had a grill going.

Though I was considering the green bean casserole in honor of Crazy Aunt Purl's cat Roy, the call of the grill was too loud. The casserole will have to wait. Instead, I had a Corona for Laurie and a yummy BnB burger with grilled onions, green & red pepper strips, and grilled corn on the cob.

I'm so proud of myself. Hey, Dad, I did it. I grilled burgers on your grill. All by myself.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


So I went out to the barn today to meet the new holistic vet. My mare was in the pasture with the other two mares, one that is around six years old and one that is a yearling. I learned an enormous lesson or two today.
  1. First lesson: I've become too complacent thanks to boarding at the old barn, which was full of old nags (seriously) who had been trained to death and rarely gave you any trouble.
  2. Second lesson: my savvy needs a tuneup.
  3. Third lesson: young horses behave differently than old nags—or rather, they don't behave unless they've been taught to, so don't expect them to be polite and respectful of humans like the old ones do.
  4. Fourth lesson: if it's your first time in a new pasture, best to let the unfamiliar horses get a whiff of you AND have your leadership established BEFORE entering the paddock to retrieve your mare.
  5. Fifth lesson: when holding the rope, remember that the hand should close slowly, open quickly, not the other way around.
  6. Sixth lesson: my leadership is what "controls" the horse, not the rope.
  7. Seventh lesson: the hand holds the rope loosely not clamped down on it for dear life.
  8. Eighth lesson: always take the Carrot Stick™ with me in case I need it.
  9. Ninth and final lesson: LET GO OF THE ROPE, DUMMY.
My mare is in season. The yearling charged her the moment I snapped the lead rope onto her halter. My mare pulled back hard and semi-reared up trying to wheel away from yearling. Yearling also charged at me. I had turned when she pulled and saw it coming, so I wisely backed up fast out of the way (ran backward, are you kidding me?) and deflected yearling but not before I got the rope burn to end all rope burns on my right hand.


OK. So I'm typing slowly and I've been hit over the head with a Gunsel* Stick today. On top of the injury, I received my first golden shower too. Boy the search engines are going to light up over this one, eh? As my mare wheeled, her butt aimed at me and I got doused with mare juice. Pee, I think. Whatever it is they squirt out the back end to try to tease the boys and dominate the mares. I don't think she meant to aim it at me—I was just lucky enough to be in the path.


Great way to start the afternoon.

From the looks of things, I've got a second-degree rope burn on the middle and ring fingers and two placed in the palm of my hand. The biggest one covers the two joints of the underside of the ring finger near the palm. Finding a bandage big enough to cover it was a neat trick. Thanks to my dear old Dad who had quite the stash due to his own fragile skin, I was able to cobble together a pretty good coverage. Neosporin is my friend. I have yet to determine if I can still knit or not. I can hardly type, so we'll see.

As for my mare, she got a very thorough treatment. Chiro, Reiki, stretching, something called a VOM activator (Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulator), a massage in spots, and some new herbs and holistic stuff to add to her diet. The diagnosis is that she was completely out of alignment in her lower neck, spine, right hip, and left shoulder, has a few pinched nerves, and a slight liver malfunction. I've had her adjusted before, but those were like Cliff's Notes adjustments compared to what this vet did. She also has all over muscle soreness and knots galore. The herbs and stuff will treat that, loosen her up, calm her anxiety, give her a super antioxidant detoxification (say that three times fast), and treat inflammation, circulation, the liver, the kidneys, any arthritis, and so on. She'll get another adjustment in 2-4 weeks after the herbs etc have had a chance to loosen up her muscles.

I saw yet another expression on my mare's face that I've never seen. Her eyes changed. She looked relieved. It's hard to explain unless you know what it looks like. Mostly she has had wide anxious eyes, occasionally there has been a slight hardness from pain, and the best I've seen is focused and softer. Today, her eyelids drooped, her eyes got big and soft, and her face totally relaxed. I've only see her look a bit like that when she's been sedated. After the treatment, it was like that but fully awake and aware.

She's walking better. She feels better. I can see it. She was splashing in the water trough, which I've never seen her do. This is all good. I guess it's worth a little rope burn and pee if she winds up feeling good again.

*Gunsel: in Parelli terminology, it's someone who don't know squat about horses and is like to get hisself kilt because of his stupid behavior

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Roy's Farewell

The world has lost an amazing cat.

Laurie, aka Crazy Aunt Purl, lost her dearest furry friend Roy yesterday. He passed away from an inoperable brain tumor. Having been loved by a once-in-a-lifetime non-human soulmate myself (Vincent, the Cat of All Cats), I can only imagine how much she is hurting tonight.

Should I be surprised that the current comment tally for Roy's tribute post is 1,089 and rising? The empathy of bloggers continues to amaze me and it brings tears to my eyes.

Godspeed, Roy—the most beloved cat on the internet. Go rest high upon that mountain.

Must go and squeeze the stuffing out of my five cats now.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thank Yous

It has occurred to me today that I usually sit here and go on and on about myself without thinking too much about the person on the other end reading this drivel. ;-) So I'd like to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my readers, for being my readers and therefore my friends whom I've never met IRL (yet). I don't always get to respond to your comments in person because of Blogger's annoying little "no-reply@" email address but I sincerely appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to visit this blog and read my words. I also enjoy reading your blogs very much and gaining insights into your lives.

So, there it is. Thank you for being a friend... in a time in my life when I have never felt lonelier (after losing my parents), you've made all the difference. When my Mother died, I thought, who is going to listen to me yak on and on like she did? And then came you. My blogfriends. Bloggers and their readers are amazing people. Who would have thunk it, that a medium would come along that allowed complete strangers to pour out their souls for anyone to read? And that these online journals would become fascinating to the readers?

I'm grateful for blogs, and for Ravelry (which if you believe the small bit of negative hype means I've joined the ranks of the *snort* "elite" upon getting my invite), and for all the wonderful networking centers that allow us to truly connect with one another.

It makes all the difference.

In other news, today was basically a complete blow-off day. Apparently the Universe decided that's what I needed, and I enjoyed a day up in Toledo that was blessedly free from estate worries, bills, fires to be put out, and cleaning/organizing. Today was all about pampering.

My hairstylist is starting a side business at the salon doing facials. Since I design her business cards and other promotional stuff (bartering is so great), and since she needed to practice on a few models before doing it for real, I got my very first honest-to-gosh facial today and let me tell you.

It was unbelievably awesome.

It lived up to the hype, and it took years off my face! I'm usually skeptical but it was free, so... well, I'm hooked. That does it. Every 45-60 days, I plan to do this. First, my face was cleansed, then sprayed with a moisturizer thingie that helps the moisture absorb better. Then I got a honey and almond oil scrub which smelled like cookie dough—yum! That was followed by a facial massage with some other oil, then acupressure points were addressed (Reiki?). It was the weirdest thing—when she pressed on the sides of my nose just under the eyebrows, warmth coursed through my body. When she pressed into my temples, it felt like cool refreshing water draining from my head down through my arms. Weird. But really relaxing.

Then I got an ice-cold seaweed mask complete with eye thingies. While that dried (mummified me), I got a neck and shoulder massage, then a hand and arm stretch and massage. Then more cleansing and spraying of the face.

That worry wrinkle that is perpetually there between my eyebrows? GONE. I look like I had Botox or something! The lines around my mouth? GONE. The pain in my fingers? GONE.

I wish I could have my entire body done.

All day, I've felt completely at peace, relaxed, happy, and that frown line won't come back no matter what. My completely non-complimentary male friend (her brother) who always says "Don't expect a compliment because I don't believe in blowing sunshine up people's @$$es" took one look and did a double take. He said "you DO look younger. Or maybe just not worried."

It's worth the money to do this, I believe. I told my stylist today, "I'm practicing for when I'm rich and can do this every day." Yep, that and a mani-pedi and I'll be living the G... L... A... M... O... R... O U S....

After that, I went to her brother's to pick up my recording equipment that he'd had for about a year but used twice. Then I went to the LYS to pick up my double treadle kit for the spinning wheel (yay) and somehow a gorgeous hank of Mango Moon one-of-a-kind-colorway recycled sari yarn fell into the bag.

I had a good three hours of downtime between that and the weaver's guild meeting, so I beat the heat at Michael's (some yarn is on clearance for two bucks so there was minor S.E.X.), chatted with the salesladies about the Beatles Tribute concert this weekend, then treated myself to some Indian food at my favorite restaurant (been going there since 1985). The leftovers went into an Igloo that I'd been wise enough to grab from my old house nearby, and then I went to the meeting. And now I'm home, enjoying my Notoxed completely-relaxed face and the wonders of A/C.

It's time to sit with the cats for awhile before hitting the hay. It was a good day today. I hope this is a harbringer of days to come. This is the good life. This is how we are meant to live.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Starving Knitter


I got my Ravelry invite and forgot to eat today. It's 10:04 PM. I've been on since... uh... early this afternoon. All I've had is cereal and coffee.

Must. Stop. Ravelrying.

For a minute, anyway!



WHOO HOOO!!!! I finally got my invitation to Ravelry!!!

Look me up and add me to your friends. I'm JeanneB(I wish I'd done what others have done and put "knitty banter" in the username but oh well!)


Thank You, Jess!

After seeing how many stuck to their blognames, I contacted Jess (frecklegirl) who was kind enough to change my username for me.

I'm KnittyBanter

See you there!


Elizabethtown was on Showtime tonight. WOW. What a great movie. I'm sure I liked it partially because I can really relate to Drew having everything that he counted on in life just implode upon itself and having to choose whether to pick up the pieces or throw in the towel.

Wonderful movie. I think I want to see it again. No, it has little to do with Orlando Bloom. He's not hard on the eyes, but I wasn't gawking at the eye candy, I was totally wrapped up in the feel of the movie and the storyline. Singer Patty Griffin has a cameo and Loudon Wainwright II is in it. I was floored when, during one of the scenes close to the end, I heard the beginnings of Moon River—my Mother's favorite song, the one we played as her casket left the church. The correlation between the movie characters and my life met at that moment, crashed in mid-air.

I think I need to do what was suggested to one of the characters in the movie: take a solitary cross-country road trip, just me and the right music, and "get into the deep beautiful melancholy of everything that's happened". By far, my new favorite quote is:

If it wasn't this... it'd be something else.

If you haven't seen it yet, go rent it. It's a well-written, extraordinarily-acted, poignant, funny, enlightening, feel-good life lesson movie written and directed by Cameron Crowe (who, as I just found out, also wrote and/or directed several of my all-time faves, including "Almost Famous" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"). The soundtrack, of course, is amazing.


Friday, July 06, 2007


Inspired by my most recent blog discovery, Three Beautiful Things, I've decided that today would be a good day to post my own three things of which I am grateful. Why not? Having an Attitude of Gratitude is essential to making the Law of Attraction function properly, so let's give this a whirl.

  1. No mail came today. True it means no belated birthday greetings, yarn deliveries, or other unexpected treasures, but it also means NO BILLS and no other unpleasant mailings. So I say, yay, no mail!
  2. Blue's wound has healed perfectly, and he got his staples removed today. He'd hate me if he knew I was telling you this, but I found it highly entertaining how worked up he got about the ride to and fro, vocalizing his opinions quite YOWLdly, when the actual appointment consisted of turning him over and having the vet take a scissor-like device and go POINK POINK POINK POINK "There you go, have a nice day." I'm grateful that the initial injury was relatively minor and that he healed quickly and beautifully.
  3. Air conditioning. Though our mid-80's temps are nothing compared to the sweltering occurring in the West, I'm still grateful for central air and the window unit in the cat's room that allows for more comfortable environs and relief from the Ohio humidity.
  4. OK, one more. My quarterly IRA update arrived yesterday as did a statement from one of my parents' accounts. Yay, both have earned interest or dividends substantial enough to mention. Yay interest and dividends!
  5. OK, make it FIVE. I'm grateful to be blessed with an extraordinary amount of patience. Otherwise, I would be a wreck after what's been happening with the Waving Lace Socks. First, I misread the chart BEFORE the beer on the 4th and did all knit instead of all purl for the first row. RIP. Second time, somehow added a stitch five rows into the scalloped edging, so I tinked. RIP. I was ready to start the second row for the third time when the join collapsed. No more connected circle! The new method of joining that I tried must not have been as stable for DPNs as it is for two circs. RIP. All the way back. I cast on yet again, and this time I used my standard join—add one more stitch and k2tog to join. So far, I'm only cast on. But I have patience. And that's a good thing.
Not bad, eh? Or, ooops—let me rephrase that—

Pretty good, eh? (See? I'm learning!)

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Miss Independent

Miss Independent here went to bed at 3:30 AM (that's typical), found herself wide awake at 8:00 AM (not typical), and disgustedly launched herself out of bed at 8:30. (Did someone inject me with caffeine while I slept?)

She then spent the day as follows:
  • unloaded the Mothership from Tuesday's excursion
  • took a trip to the storage unit
  • took another trip to the old house to once again overload the Mothership
  • returned home around 3:00 PM, exhausted, smelly, incredibly sore and devoid of any further desire to unload the Mothership again
  • brought the moving process to the point where all the important stuff is out, the stuff that in the event of a fire or robbery would render Miss I hysterical with grief at the loss thereof
  • had a refreshing shower
  • cast on for the Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks (Lorna's Laces Shepherds Sock in Gold Hill)
  • had a BBQ with B before attending the fireworks. The consumption included marinated grilled zucchini, grilled potato, grilled corn on the cob, macaroni salad (not grilled), Coronas with lime (also not grilled, but chilled), and the piece de resistance, the last two of the free burgers "won" from LaCense Montana. Oh, My Lord, you would not believe how good a burger can be until you've tried one of these suckers.
(Somehow I "won" a sample pack of 6 free Angus burgers. I was skeptical, but, hey, who turns down free meat (except a vegetarian)? I'm afraid I may have to succumb to having my hamburger shipped across country in dry ice because THEY ARE THAT GOOD.)

And so an exhausted, sore, fireworks-blinded Independent Girl leaves you with this, a meme blatantly copied and pasted (per her suggestion) from Ms. Sheepish Annie. (Uh, the answers are all me—only the questions were copied.)

  1. I've come to realize that my last kiss was… more than five years ago. Or it came from a cat (does that count?)

  2. I am listening to… the ringing in my ears from the very loud fireworks

  3. I talk… to myself, all day, all the time, but only when I'm alone

  4. I love… hair bands/glam rock of the 1980's (Skid Row, Dokken, Poison), screaming old school heavy metal (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, early Metallica), and prog rock/arena rock (Boston, Journey, Heart) and used to sing lead and play bass in bands of these genres (under a stage name). Ironically, I also love country. Go figure. I guess that makes me a twangbanger.

  5. My best friends… have been around for longer than 20 years

  6. My car… (newest, the Mothership) was my Mother's and it's a senior mobile. It does not fit someone with pink streaks in her hair, a nose ring and a tattoo

  7. My love life… what love life?

  8. I hate it when people ask… what I'm planning to do with my life now that my parents are gone. I didn't know before they died (besides "rock star"), and I still don't know (but I'm working on it). Stop asking! Pressure! Pressure! I still secretly want to be a rock star, same as when I was in my 20's, but I'm not in my 20's and I'm not sure it's still possible and the music I loved died when Nirvana emerged. Besides. Touring. In a bus. With smelly guys. For a year. I don't think so.

  9. I want to… ROCK! (Hmm. I spy a theme here.)

  10. Marriage is… for everyone who desires to be married, be they straight, gay or somewhere in between

  11. Somewhere, someone is thinking… about something they want, but they're focusing on the wrong thing and inadvertently bringing about more of what they don't want (Law of Attraction) as in, "I'm tired of being POOR" rather than "I am wealthy"

  12. I'm always… tardy

  13. I have a secret crush on… hey, my crushes are NEVER secret. My heart is firmly on my sleeve if I'm interested

  14. I am not... a number, I am a free man! (cue drum intro from Iron Maiden's "The Prisoner")

  15. My cell phone… is around here somewhere

  16. When I wake up in the morning… I look at the clock, and if it's still morning aka before noon, I roll over and go back to sleep

  17. Before I go to bed I… watch late-night cable TV (Dog the Bounty Hunter, Critical Hour, Gene Simmons, Miami Ink) then feed the cats

  18. Right now I am thinking about… the opinions people will form about me after reading my answers

  19. Babies are… not for me unless they are of the hooved or furry variety

  20. I get on MySpace… to track down old friends and bands I used to know

  21. Today I… celebrated the 4th with a BBQ and fireworks

  22. Tonight I will… hopefully sleep more than five hours

  23. Tomorrow I will… dig out my guitar because suddenly I'm jonesing to jam

  24. I really want to… be the winner of the second-largest MegaMillions Jackpot in history so that I will always have financial security (I'm a miser, it's possible) and so that I can be a benefactor for others

  25. Someone who will most likely repost this… either has a lot of interesting stuff to divulge or is at such a loss for subject matter that they resort to yet another meme

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

How Do You Spell Relief?

I spell it "getting the hell out of my old house".

Today, I spent the afternoon boxing up the last remaining vestiges of my belongings at the old house. Then I carted it up from the basement, down from the second floor, and out to the car. My wonderful friend COT (initials) who for some bizarre reason eagerly volunteers to help friends move, met me around the time I was bringing down the upstairs stuff and helped me pack the Mothership.

I cannot believe that we got almost every last box in the car.

There is still about a half a car's worth of boxes and bags, and some stuff in the garage (lawnmower, garden tools barely used LOL) and then the rest is trash.

OMG. So it took me one moving van with mover guys, one UHaul (the smallest with a ramp), several car loads, and at least one more pickup truck bed full of garage stuff to get all my belongings down to the childhood home.

I'm sorry. That is just TOO MUCH STUFF. I mean, when I moved to LA back in 1989, I could fit all my worldly possessions PLUS those of the drummer who moved with me in the back of a 1989 hatchback Mustang. When I moved back to Ohio in late 1990, several boxes were shipped home, and Dad and the cat and I took a loaded Mustang down the southern route (so we could stop in Arizona to visit Dad's relatives) then up through St. Louis to home.

But I feel so relieved. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. By next week, that sucker will be on the market and soon it will be a memory. *SIGH* One down. One to go. I imagine I'll be spending the summer sorting through all the boxes, but at least they'll all be in one place. Then I can have a Pitch Party and minimize a bit. I mean, good grief. From the basement came a bunch of hanging garments with an index card attached:

Size 14. Look over on June 23, 2004.

Um, I think I might have just missed that deadline. And, no, I'm still nowhere near being a 14 again—yet.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Generally Speaking

Online Dating

How boring. I used the word "slap" once. That's all they found. Apparently, it's based on words that appear, not on the context in which they were used.

Mental Manifestation, my other blog, got an R-rating, which I find ironic, since it was based on the presence of the F word AND using the word "d-e-a-t-h" twice. TWICE. How many times did I refer to the D word here, last September? Not to mention many discussions about S.E.X.


SEX, yarn Pr0n, death. Increase, decrease, gauge. There. Maybe now I'll be classified PG.

(Yes, I'm feeling a tad snarky today—why do you ask?)

Thoughts on the TKGA Masters Levels

My deadline for completion of TKGA Masters Level One is nearing. I'm 12 or 13 swatches into it (16 total due) and still need to do the report, the questions, and the project (a hat). Being aware of the looming deadline, I'm pretty sure I'll make it. In fact, I INTEND to make it. One of the things that will allow me to do that is to avoid being OCD about my swatches.

I've been lurking on the TKGA Forum and the Yahoo group devoted to the Masters and I've noticed a pattern amongst the participants—they stress over the perfection of the swatches. They knit and reknit and rip and reknit their Level One swatches because they are worried that unless they are PERFECT, they won't pass. Some of them have been at it for a few years and have yet to submit anything. To me, this seems pointless.

I'm a Parelli Natural Horsemanship student. PNH has levels 1-3 as well. I've come to believe that the two programs (TKGA/PNH) share a similar philosophy. If so, then these are some key points:

  • Level One is the basics, foundation, building block level. It doesn't have to be perfect, and in fact nobody expects it to be "pretty". The object is to demonstrate the rudimentary grasp of the most basic concepts.

  • Level Two is where these skills are expanded upon. Things should start to look natural, maybe even somewhat pretty. Details are becoming more important, but this level is more about breaking down each of the fundamentals and tweaking the parts of each fundamental.

  • Level Three is where you're expected to have the concepts firmly under your belt so that the fun can begin. It's second nature. You don't have to think to do it. It flows and there is beauty. Now you can start to play with it. You know the rules, and now you can break them or use them to your advantage to develop something of your own.
Like, OK, you can create a knit stitch. Or a purl stitch. You know what an increase or decrease is used for, and you know at least one way to form it. You know how to cast on, bind off, and you can tell which is the inside or outside of the "garment". Those are the basics at the most primitive level (pre-Level One).

But what are the parts of that stitch? Let's examine a knit stitch. Components of a knit stitch include:
  • the size horizontally and vertically
  • the balance between the two sides of the loop
  • the left and right sides of the loop
  • the specific way the loop sits on the needle to be correct (which loop is more forward)
Keep in mind these are my gut instinct feelings, not absolute fact and that none of this has been officially prescribed by anyone on the TKGA committee. It's merely my observations based on what I've been reading from others participating in the program and comparing it to my experiences in and knowledge of PNH.

In PNH, for example, the levels have names. Originally they were Partnership (1), Harmony (2), and Refinement (3). They've revamped and greatly improved the program (if perfection can really be improved upon), and now they are known as Safe (1), Confident (2), and Advanced (3). I think the original names described it better, but oh well.

The idea was that in Level One, you formed a partnership with your horse. You learned the basics of communication and understanding horse behavior and motivation so you could be safe around your horse. Level One should be done quickly, and it is NOT expected to look pretty like Pat & Linda. In fact, Level One can look pretty ugly as long as the concepts are understood, demonstrated, and the right attitude is present. For example, you know what the Seven Games are, in order. You know that Game #5 is Circling. You know that somehow you ask the horse to move away from you, go out to the end of the line and walk or trot around you in a circle, and you know the Game ends with the horse returning to you, facing you. As long as the horse responds appropriately, even at a slow walk, it's a pass.

In Level Two, you smooth things out. Level Two has a TON of information, concepts, and detail in it. In Level Two, for example, one learns the phases within a phase. One learns how to take a concept like one of the Seven Games and break it down into components. Isolate, Separate, and Recombine becomes a big theme.

You'd take a basic concept such as the Circling Game, and break down the Game into the elements: Send, Allow, Bring Back. Then you work on perfecting each element. You figure out how to improve your Send so the horse responds more quickly to your request, and how to do it so the horse does it willingly with a good attitude. You learn how to improve your Allow and let the horse decide to go out at the requested speed/gait and stay out there until asked to stop. You work on your Bring Back until the horse responds right away to your request and comes trotting into you, then stops, turns and faces nice as you please. You learn to analyze these parts to figure out what's working and what's not. Once you have that going, you start to play with the parts and combine the Games into new techniques. Because it's being smoothed out, it begins to look pretty, it begins to come naturally. You no longer think through the phases or the steps, you just automatically Lift it, Lead it, Send It, Allow It.

PNHers say that Level Two is the FUN Level, and many of the ones who make it to this level don't go on to Level Three because in Level Three you begin to get really picky. It's about finesse. It's about perfecting things to a high level of subtlety and lightness of response that the majority of backyard recreational riders won't be interested in achieving. But if one is into dressage or competition, this level can help them achieve it because that's how picky the level is. Level Three students take all the knowledge and rip it down to the microbes. Then they think creatively and rather than being told what to do, they decide what they want to do and figure out a way to do it.

According to my observations, then, in TKGA Level One, you show that you can execute a knit stitch (or purl, increase, decrease, etc). Period. It can be uneven, a bit sloppy, not exactly like its neighbors, and you probably should know by now which loop is more forward on the needle. You can also execute the other basic stitches, whether the tension is looser or tighter than the knit stitches or not. You've "got" the concept. It might not be pretty, but it's decent. The knitting demonstrates overall that you understand these concepts, and that you've been practicing enough that you can execute a fairly consistent row of stitches and that you can be fairly consistent from row to row... "fairly consistent" meaning the size of each stitch is pretty close to its neighbor—it doesn't look like stitch #1 was knit on size 6 and stitch #2 on size 9 and stitch #3 on size 2.

In Level Two, you'd be working on tweaking the execution of the stitch so that it is balanced, that all knit/purl stitches are consistent with each other, and so on. You're perfecting the ability to maintain consistency and tension in the knit/purl stitches versus increases/decreases, etc, and you're learning more advanced techniques. There is flow. There is beauty. There is a competent level of perfection demonstrated across the board.

Once you hit Level Three, you're expected to have corrected all your flaws, and use the knowledge gained to experiment on your own—to be able to use the rules and break them, develop your own style, design a garment. Here, you should be able to say, "OK. I know that by doing this, I can achieve that... but what if...?" and having absolute confidence that it'll work the way you expect it two.

That's my vision, anyway.

Wow. I'm wordy today. Anyway. A lot of PNH students take years to pass Level One because they are too focused on perfection when the idea is, get through it in a month or so and move on to Level Two, don't stay stuck in Level One Purgatory because it's boring for you AND the horse and once you have the concepts down, if you stay in Level One Purgatory you will not progress (sometimes the horse REgresses out of boredom).

TKGA seems to have the same approach. I've seen examples of passing Level One swatches that were far sloppier than I would have imagined would pass, but they did. The minute I saw those, I realized I knit well enough that I should be able to pass most if not all of them the first time. So my philosophy is, I'm knitting them the way I happen to knit, and I'll let them tell me what to fix rather than trying to figure it out myself and cause myself immeasurable stress. I'll knit them, pass Level One, then perfect things during Level Two.

That's my lecture for the day! :-D


Sunday, July 01, 2007

"Repeat After Me"

Sound of footsteps running down the street outside my window. I look up from the computer. I see a preteen girl sprinting down the street with an annoyed expression on her face. A moment later I see a preteen boy sprinting after her with a joyous and wickedly mischievous expression on his face.

He giggle-yells after her,

"Repeat after me: I LIKE PIE! *giggle* Say it! I LIKE PIE!!!"

Kids. Too funny.