Friday, May 14, 2010

Look what I got!

My mother was cleaning out a bookcase yesterday and came upon a few old crochet books. I'm proud to say that they now live in my bookcase. I know that they are old enough to be public domain, and I plan to scan them all in the near future. And I will not be charging $8.95 a piece to share them with the rest of the world.

From vintage

I also got most of another book of edgings. There's no cover; it goes from page 3-14, then 19-30.

What's most interesting to me is that amongst all the edging patterns there are several pages without instruction. I guess the author just wanted to inspire crocheters with really complicated designs? Or maybe she just wanted to show off? I wonder if that might be the key to finding out who the designer is...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

My morning walk

I have been dealing with allergies/a cold for a couple of days, so I decided not to push myself to really run today. Instead I threw on my VFFs, hung my camera across my body, left the Sansa at home and went out to just enjoy myself for an hour. It might not have done anything for my cardio fitness, but that's okay with me.

I really seriously don't think I can ever go back to all pavement-running. There's no street that can feed my soul like a morning in the woods does.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

100 Thing Challenge, week somethingorother

I think we're technically in week 5, but since I've fallen behind, I kinda stopped keeping track. So far, we've boxed up 475 (ish) items to be sent to other people and/or places. A few cookbooks are heading to the library, a few kid clothes and shoes are being handed down, a bunch of my vintage craft stuff is being sent to other lovers of oldish stuff. But the lions share of it is heading to the charity shop. We've dropped off three boxes and two bags there in recent weeks, and have about 5 more boxes on the porch ready to go.

Here's where I disclose that I did buy some yarn last week, at the same charity shop that we're taking all our leftovers. Seven balls of a pretty blue-gray wool blend, three skeins of Scheepjes cotton satin, and one skein of orange-pink Plymouth Encore (obviously some other local knitter has been decluttering too). I should probably subtract that from my total items, but I think I'll instead find 11 balls of yarn from my stash that I don't want anymore. I'm sure that someone somewhere wants all that fun fur that I bought before I knew better.

While the main living rooms of our house remain largely unchanged, the basement is beginning to look different. Where there were stacks of boxes obscuring two sets of shelves, the shelves are now accessible. They are still full, though, and will be gone through soon. The kids' closets and dressers are less full. Mr Deplume and I have room to spare in our closet now, too. The floor is now free of shoes and trousers and shirts we don't wear. There are miles to go, but I'm beginning to get excited about the very real possibility that this endeavor just might work.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

100 Thing Challenge, Week 2

I'll be honest, I didn't think I was going to pull it out this week. I felt horrible about failing before the 14th of my 100 days of this decluttering challenge, but it was just one of those weeks.*  But then Mr Deplume swooped in on Saturday and rescued my challenge. He went into the kids' rooms and cleared them of most of the clothes that don't fit anymore. I helped some, but he gets all the credit for it. He also went through his own clothes and shoes, as did I, and we got 100 items packed up and in boxes. They haven't been delivered to the charity shop yet, but that's on the top of tomorrow's to-do list for yours truly.

I already have a few cookbooks stacked up for this culling this coming week, and I just may spend a portion of the next couple of days clearing out some baby clothes that made it to the basement after a garage sale a couple of years ago. I have to work at a wedding this weekend, though, so there's a good chance that Mr Deplume will rescue me again.  It's the story of our lives. I come up with some grandiose idea, and just as I come to grips with my failure to reach goals I set for myself, he saves the day in the eleventh hour. He's a good egg, that one.

* Who am I kidding? They are all those weeks. I just need to figure out how to function more efficiently. I don't see it happening anytime soon, though.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rising to the Challenge(s)

It's a big week here. I am wrapping up the first 7 days of my 100 Thing Challenge, as well as nearing the deadline for the Ravelympics.

Oh wait, I've been a bad blogger and haven't mentioned the Ravelympics here, have I? In a nutshell, it's a knitting challenge wherein one starts a project during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, and finishes it by the end of the closing ceremonies. If I really hunker down tonight and tomorrow, I just may make it. I am making the Multnomah shawl (PDF link) out of some alpaca that I bought from a local farm and recently dyed dark green. I would take a progress picture of it but at the moment it just looks like a wadded mess. Because my original circular needle had a catastrophic failure (read: cable separated from its needle tip) mid-way through a row, I had to switch to a too-short replacement needle to complete the project. As it keeps growing, it is increasingly difficult to manage to knit, let alone spread it out for a photo op. Here's a picture of it last week, on the original, 40" needle. I now am 3 feather-and-fan repeats away from completion.

My hand is killing me from all this knitting, but I really think I'll like this shawl when it is done, so I'm powering through. Less than 36 hours isn't much time. It's going to be close.

As I mentioned above, it's also the close of week one of my attempt at a 100 Thing Challenge. I vowed donate/gift 100 things a week out of my home. Between Mr Deplume's toy-culling work in our kids' rooms and my clearing out of some old kid clothes and cookbooks, we have rehomed 118 items to the local charity shop.  I knew that coming up with this first hundred things was going to be easy. What I didn't realize when conceiving of the idea is how much my eyes would be opened to all the crap in my house (and my life) that I could live without.
In the basement, I see the Christmas decoration boxes half-filled with ornaments and tchotkes that I don't like and will never put out.
In my closet, I see the dress clothes that I only wear when I am desperate. (Which, admittedly, is fairly often, as I'm not a skilled outfit-builder.) But just maybe, wearing the same few outfits that I like repeatedly is better than "trying to mis it up", which translates to "wearing clothes that make me sad." I don't need that sadness, do I?
In the kitchen, I see the utensil drawer that is too full of unitaskers. How many sets of tongs do I really need? I like to make bread, but should I really keep 6 loaf pans? How about 4 sets of wine glasses?
The hall closet is home to too many jackets and coats-- I only have two arms and 4 seasons. How many do I really need?
It is like this in my head all the time now.

Only time will tell if I can stick with this for 100 days, but the first 7 have been good. I'm excited for the next.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

100 Thing Challenge

Last week Mr Deplume shared a blog post he had found about a guy who had vowed to live with only 100 personal possessions for one year. It surprised me because that I had no idea Mr Deplume had ever really entertained the idea of living with dramatically fewer belongings. I thought that only people who live with too much crap day in and day out daydreamed about living a minimalistic life. Of course, even though he's not a packrat, he lives with three of us who are, so maybe that's where these dreams came from. Who knows. Maybe he'll offer some explanation of his motivations in the comments section when he reads this. (hint, hint)

Anyway, this Guy Named Dave decided in 2008 that to help break himself from the nasty habit of consumerism, he would spend some time figuring out which 100 personal things he needs, then spend a year living with only those things. He completed that project, and has revised it for 2010, and I'm hopping on board. His idea is to allow us the readers to come up with our own challenges, to help decrease our Consumerist tendencies. As much as his plan speaks to me, there's just no way I can do it at the moment, even though I buy relatively little anymore. There's just too much stuff in the way at Château Deplume. So I've concocted my own 100-ish Thing Challenge, after which I hope to have made enough headway to try out Dave's. His goal was not to declutter, but mine is.

So for the next 100 days (give or take-- 14 weeks is actually 98 days), I will get rid of 100 things per week.
If I buy anything non-consumable, I will get rid of extra items to make a net reduction of 100 things.
Throwing away trash doesn't count-- that's just regular housecleaning.
Since generosity is a virtue I'm short on and my goal here is to declutter, I would like to help myself and others who have less all at once. Selling off items will not count in the weekly 100s. I will focus my energy on donations and gifts.

I started on Sunday the 21st, and so far have only 19 items in this week's donation box. But I have a basement, a partial attic, and three closets full of stuff I don't really need, so I really doubt that there will be much of a problem coming up with 1400 things I've committed to unload.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Playing catch up

I't been a busy couple of weeks around the Deplume household! Last week, I used my Perfect Brownie pan for the first time.
As you can see, I had some leakage issues. I know that the answer is to line the pan in foil, but I resisted, as that seems like more work than just using a regular pan and cutting the brownies with a knife. People love these things, apparently, but not me. 

Then, I decided to make my daughter a cake for her 8th birthday. In a silicone bundt pan. It was given to me by a family member a while back, and I thoguht "what the heck? She said it worked fine, she just didn't love it." 
I think that maybe what she meant to say was that it was a miserable waste of silicone. I floured the pan. I used a cookie sheet under it. I followed the directions. But it still fell apart when I tried to de-pan it. To add insult to injury, this tragedy struck while I was trying to also get the house ready for about a dozen people to arrive for the party. 30 minutes before guests were to arrive, I was at the grocery store, buying a premade cake. This failure is still tasty, though. It lived in our refrigerator for a few days, being eaten and referred to as "The Fail Cake"

mmm, fail cake...

In other news, I'm knitting again. It's been slow going, as I keep screwing stuff up. I started a top-down hat on Superbowl Sunday, and it might actually fit when it's all said and done. But it's a beret, and I've never found one that I liked, so who knows what will happen. The yarn sure is pretty, though. 

So that's my last couple of weeks in a nutshell. I cannot wait for the Olympics to start. How about you?

Friday, January 15, 2010

On the one hand, I'm feeling very happy. Mr Deplume and I are going away for the weekend with friends. It should be a lot of fun. We'll take pictures and shop and eat and have a great time. The kids will be having fun watching movies and eating out with Grandma and Grandpa. 

But on the other hand, my friend is suffering, and I cannot help. Her brother was killed and all I want to do is be there for her (even though she lives three states away). Also thousands of people in Haiti are grieving their loved ones, and again, there's nothing I can do. I can hand some money to an organization who is helping, and pray, but it still feels like it's not enough. 

Back in another part of my brain, I'm trying to find a knitting project that excites me. I'd prefer one that involves that alpaca yarn I bough last year. I've been searching for weeks, and cannot find anything I want to make. Why I'm so obsessed with finding the perfect pattern defies reason. 

My brain is a difficult place to live sometimes. derr. Maybe the trip will clear my head. Let's hope. 

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Can I fix it?

I am calling on you experts and fearless folks alike to tell me what to do. I've been working on this flingin' flangin' "afghan" for far too long (well over a year). Entrelac is only fun for the first 100 squares or so. After that, it's more tedious than stockinette, and slower, too. I think the project is pretty in any case, and would love to see it finished some day, so I've been working on it again lately. I got through an entire row of squares the other night and decided to switch to a longer needle so I could see how wide it's shaping up to be, and I found this:

You see, there are not supposed to be cube-corner-shaped bits on blankets. I screwed up, by adding a square jutting out from what should have been the right edge of the work. For those of you not well-versed in entrelac, there should be alternating diagonal squares and triangles that create smooth edges up the sides of the piece. I've illustrated it thusly:

And of course I didn't notice this until after I had completed an entire row, consisting of hours of work. I know I could rip back and reknit the whole thing properly, but I know myself. If I start frogging this baby, I'm never going to re-knit. Too mind-numbing.

So my question is this: Would it work for me to snip the yarn, unravel just that square, and bind up the eight live stitches somehow so that the work can go on without undoing all of this? If so, where is the best place in the square to break the yarn? Then again, I might have screwed up something earlier, too, if I managed to attach the errant square on two sides, which should not have really been possible.

In the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh, Oh bother.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ranty Ranterson updates her blog.

Disclaimer: My apologies to those who are not into running, barefooting, or semantics. Feel free to move along and wait for the next post. I promise there will be new knitting content in the very near future.

On to my rant of the day

I just read this on a well-known running message board, in a forum geared toward experienced runners, most of who wear normal running shoes:
I checked out barefoot forum, but it seems to be populated predominantly with hard-core BF runners! I'm not there...yet. Some poster got repeatedly chastised for referring to running in VFFs as barefoot running.

Just for make sure for myself, I checked out the dictionary for a definition:
bare·foot (bârft) adv. & adj. With nothing on the feet.

I grow weary of the lack of clarity when people claim to BFR when really they just aren't in big clumpy running shoes. How is it so hard for people to get over that fact that they aren't really running barefoot if they are wearing shoes? Even when the shoes have visible toes. Running in minimalist shoes is a great thing-- but even little shoes are still shoes. It is not a value judgment to say that one is wearing shoes. It is a fact.

It reminds me of the first of The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz,"1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean." I know that Ruiz was speaking more metaphorically, but its wisdom holds true here, too. Why is it so hard for people to just speak the truth? Live the truth? Most agree that's important in the big picture. Isn't that big picture made up of a zillion small moments? It seems to me that if we work on being true in each little experience, the big truths will be easier to come by.

Here ends Norm's Tuesday tirade.

P.S. I'll probably come back and edit this post in the very near future. I feel like I'm on to something here but am communicating it poorly.