Saturday, September 23, 2006

Holiday Knitting Tally

So far, I have completed:

  • 4 socks (please note, I did not say "2 pairs of socks." This is an important distinction.)
  • 1 hat

    It may not seem very impressive, considering that my holiday knitting list includes:

  • 10 more socks
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 hat
  • 1 set of wrist warmers

    That, or it might seem a bit premature to be knitting for the holidays in September. But my non-holiday knitting due on December 30th--a shawl for my sister's wedding--has necessitated a bit of a fore-planning this year.

    To that end, I'm going for quite a few projects with larger gauges. The finished hat, for instance, was made of Colinette Prism to the gauge of 3 stitches per inch, and took me a day to make. The socks for my nieces were 8 stitches to the inch for slightly smaller than adult-sized socks, and the socks for my stepsister are hitting about 5.5 stitches per inch. They're going pretty darn fast.

    The scarf should be a fairly quick project as well. I'm making Knitty's Branching Out in cashmere, which is a good project to get to use some really nice yarn without going bankrupt. The hat and wrist warmers will also take not a whole lot of time, and one pair of socks will be knit at a fairly large gauge. No worries there.

    It's the last three pairs of socks that will be the time-killers. I don't have elaborate plans for either of them in terms of stitch patterns, but they'll be knitted at around 8-10 stitches per inch, and that will take time. Also, two pairs have to be finished for Chanukah (gee, I wonder what Boo and Albert are getting this year?), which ends on (I think) December 22nd this year.

    Still, it's only September 23rd. That's three months. No need to panic. Yet.
  • Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Monsters in the Poodle

    Transcript of recent mother/daughter exchange:

    Boo: Mama?

    Me: Yes?

    Boo: I'm going to go fight some monsters in the poodle (trans: "pool"). I'll be back in a minute.

    Me: You go do that.

    Boo (to her invisible cast of thousands): Okay! Let's go!

    Those monsters don't stand a chance.


    In Boo news, she is now 38.75 inches tall. She grew a half-inch at some point last week. Seriously, you blink and you miss it. In another 1.25 inches, she'll be tall enough for a booster seat, and in about five weeks she'll be old enough for said booster seat. She's probably way short on the weight requirement, though, so we'll have to see if two out of three is good enough.

    I'm not actually that anxious to upgrade her. Although the standard is 40 inches, 40 pounds, and 4 years old, she can still stay in the seat she's using until she weighs more than 40 pounds or her head sticks up more than halfway over the back of the seat. She's quite a ways from both of those benchmarks, and my understanding is that if kids can keep riding in their restraint seats even when they're bigger than the Tennessee Dept of Safety says they have to be, so much the better. Well, so long as they're within the height and weight said seat is rated for.

    Speaking of 4s, we had an amusing exchange last week. Boo was asking about her birthday, and told me her birthday was in October and she'd be 4, etc. I reminded her that Mama's birthday was also in October, and she asked me how old I would be. I told her I would be 40. She was delighted. "We'll be the same!" she said. And I said that, yes, our ages would certainly start with the same number...

    Boo's latest fascination is gymnastics. She adores the Angelina Ballerina books, and I bought her a couple of DVDs of the TV series, one of which includes an episode about Angelina's friend Alice being in a gymnastics competition. Our bed has now become a balance beam and a floor exercise area. I nearly had a heart attack watching her leap from the bed, announcing mid-leap that she's going to do a split, see her assume that position mid-air and land splat on the floor in said split, grinning in triumph. I do give myself points for stoicism for witnessing this without screaming, shrieking, or otherwise freaking out, and saying instead, "Very good, now please don't ever do that again."

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Conversion Ethics

    I'm preparing to launch a project that's been in the making for several years: converting all my VHS tapes to DVD.

    I've been wanting to do it ever since the DVR technology came out, but for ages the recorders and the media were just too expensive to justify scrapping my considerable investment in VHS. I mean, I've got four VCRs and 1,200 video tapes. That's a lot of converting. Plus, so long as I could buy a video tape for less than a dollar, it didn't make sense to spend $5 a pop for a recordable DVD disc (which, admittedly, was a drastic drop from the $20 they used to cost).

    But now, the time has come. DVR machines are becoming reasonably priced, the CD media seem to be settling into a more or less consistent group of video formats, and said CDs are pretty darn cheap. I am poised to enter the Age of DVD.

    Well, except for one thing.

    I've got a lot of video tapes. A lot of video tapes. I have, in fact, one thousand and two hundred self-recorded video tapes. If I buy two DVRs and consistently copy two tapes morning and evening, it will take me something approaching a year just to copy them all.

    That, however, is not the big problem.

    The problem is the catalog system. Or, as I should probably say, The Catalog System.

    See, I used to tape a lot of television programs. During any given television season, I would be taping ten or more shows at once. With that much taping going on, organization is essential, and there are two ways to go about it. (Well, three ways if you count not organizing at all, but never mind.)

    The first way is the way that most reasonable humans do it. They use one (1) tape for each show. They tape nothing but that show on that tape. This is an excellent system, and leads to efficient, easily grouped sets of tapes that contain the entirety of a single show, usually more or less in order.

    That's not the system I used. I tried it, but it just didn't work for me. I found that, while I am perfectly capable of cataloging, organizing, and detailing, I was simply taping too many shows to afford the luxury of one tape for one show. For one thing, it meant that I would have to be on the spot to swap tapes on nights when I was taping multiple shows (this was back in my primitive phase, when I only had two VCRs), and that just wasn't going to happen. One of the reasons I have four VCRs is so I can *not* have to sit at home every night. Also, every time I went out of town, I could be taping 12 or more hours of different shows, and asking Albert to swap through ten different tapes in careful sequence (assuming that he was even home and not with me), was a bit much.

    So, I came up with The Catalog. And it worked. I did keep each show more or less segregated on its own set of tapes using a system of color-coded dots, but if I couldn't manage it, no big deal. Each tape is eventually numbered and labeled, and I maintain a (huge) catalog that lists each tape and its contents by number, and is cross-referenced to an episode guide catalog that lists the number of the tape on which each episode of each show appears. The Catalog is currently about a hundred pages. It's a bit inefficient in terms of having episodes of a series scattered over multiple multi-purpose tapes, but by golly I can lay my hands on any episode in a matter of moments.

    But now I have a dilemma. Some of those shows I taped I now have on DVD. And there are even a few I don't have on DVD that I doubt I'll ever have the desire to see again. There are, in short, quite a few tapes that are now redundant. If I re-compiled and re-numbered, I could probably eliminate close to two hundred tapes. That's nearly two months of copying, and a hundred dollars in media. This is not an insignificant amount of time or money.

    Unfortunately, it's not that simple. If I decided to eliminate redundant episodes, I would pretty much have to start the whole hundred-page Catalog over from scratch. I would have to track down the episodes I needed on a tape and isolate them from the episodes I didn't need, and figure out how to compile the former in their own DVDs without losing track of them. I could do it, and it would really be the best way, but it would also take buckets of time. Not only time spent re-configuring the numbers and re-typing and re-printing, but in hovering over the DVRs to swap out tapes.

    On the other hand, if I just slavishly copied the entire collection, I could slap a tape and a disc in, hit Record, and forget about it. The Catalog is already done, and the only work required would be to write a number on the disc.

    So. Spend hours slaving over a hot DVR, losing reading, viewing, and (most important) knitting time in order re-organize the enire collection, or keep the old Catalog and scribble a number.

    Dude, even I'm not that anal.

    Vive le Catalogue!

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Crazy Socks

    Well, the double-point experiment has gone away. I just didn't like the gauge I was getting with the 00000s, so I switched to some 000 (1.5mm, for those keeping count at home) circulars I had. They're a bit short for ordinary magic loop socks, but these socks are small enough that I can still have sufficient slack even at the heel turning.

    (Actually, I think I initially described the first needles as 0000s, when in fact they're .75mm needles, which I think makes them 00000s. And really, when you get down to the multiple zeros, who really cares anymore?)

    The yarn I'm using (Schaefer's Anne) is described as a fingering weight, getting about 7-8 stitches per inch. Because I'm apparently insane, I'm working these socks at a gauge of 12 stitches per inch. This means that I'm working on 80 stitches for a pair of socks that's about 6 1/2" around. See above re: insane.

    The socks are actually just a wee bit big for Boo, which is more or less what I intended in order to maximize the number of winters she'll be able to wear them before I have to face 12-stitch-per-inch socks again.

    They are also gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The yarn is 25% mohair, which gives it this beautiful sheen and a lovely, silky feel. The colors are unbelievably brilliant, and in fact Melissa, on seeing the yarn, told me it would be a crime for whatever I knitted with it to leave my house. And honestly, I think that even if I'd initially intended to give these away, I would probably have been tempted to keep them anyway.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006


    I have returned from DragonCon. Rather than posting the entirety of my very, very long con report here, I will direct interested parties to the following entries in my Livejournal:

    The DragonCon Overview: 1 pair of socks, 15 episodes of Doctor Who, 6 days of fun, and 1 cheap set of DS9. No partridges.

    DragonCon 2006, Part 1

    DragonCon 2006, Part 2