So, I might actually have to leave the house to have human interaction now that Facebook has pulled Scrabulous. Fools! I signed up for Facebook so that I could play Scrabulous, not because I had some burning desire to be invited to add lots of pointless apps. Sigh. I had some really good games going, including one with an opening move bingo. Wordy, nerdy anger!

Leaving the house can be a bit of a disappointment these days. People keep calling me "Mrs." Johnson. I'm not sure why this bothers me, but it does. Ironic, considering that I liked being called Madame in France (when not being mistaken for a prostitute. Long story.). Maybe I just want to be cranky. The "family cereal" sign in the supermarket rankled me a bit today. Oh, I'm looking for the dissolute chain smokers cereal section. The cereals that only use cartoon characters ironically, please.

Also, I can't find anyone to go to Ravinia with me this weekend. I've been looking forward to seeing the Gipsy Kings for months, but two sets of plans have fallen through on this outing. This always seems to be a problem with Ravinia, and I really hate going alone. I don't have a problem going to concerts by myself, but a party of one on the lawn really blows.

The cat and I have reached a detente on the desk issue. As in, this battle of the wills has ended in a tie. I am as stubborn as a cat. He can lie there as long as he actually lies down. He's remarkably opaque. Also, no chewing. He decided to nom my microphone--the mic itself--the other day and there was shouting and stomping of feet. He wisely fled. He is an effective reminder not to let crap pile up on my desk, because he does not care what he lies on or pats off.

On the knitting front, I am currently making a pair of stockinette socks. Just knitting, for the whole thing. It's quick, but it is incredibly boring. So, I decided to poke around on Ravelry for interesting sock patterns, of which there is no shortage. Sometimes I find really inspirational things on Ravelry, and other times I see projects that make my eyes vibrate and my stomach quake. Everyone thinks their own taste is good, I guess.


Nerd heaven

I'm willing to admit that I'm a nerd. It's kind of chic now. My nerdiness lured me out of the house today, when I would have been content to stay home and watch my new Netflix. One of the art houses in Chicago had a restored 70mm print of my favorite film. I've been looking forward to this for weeks, since I'd never seen Vertigo on the big screen. Not that the Music Box has a huge screen. Theirs is about the same size as the screen at Film Forum, only in a beautiful Spanish Mission auditorium. And it's run by nerdy cinephiles with excellent ideas about programming. I don't go there nearly enough!

Tonight was one of those wonderful summer nights that you wish would last the whole summer. The weather was beautiful, and there was great energy in the air. The film was beautiful and thought provoking. Seeing it projected led me to think a lot more about the editing and camera movements than I do watching it on television. $9.25 well spent. There was even a cool breeze as I waited on the El platform for the ever-tardy Brown line, which lingered long enough to inspire me to open the moon roof on my way home. Remember those VW commercials from about ten years ago, with the starry night and Nick Drake music? It felt like that. That ad campaign inspired Zoe and her dad to buy a Cabrio and me to buy a bunch of Nick Drake albums, and we still remember it years later.


Isn't it funny that I still get that Sunday night feeling, even though I don't have to go to work tomorrow? I had a fairly normal Sunday: slept until noon, watched some Anthony Bourdain and part of the Mad Men marathon, knit a little, and had dinner with the grands. I even got to play with my mom's new GPS (that I picked out) and de-stash some yarn. All good things, but still, the ennui sets in. I have new mosquito bites and Winston is protesting his exile to the corner of the desk. It's a big corner. Oh, and I have some paranoid theory about one of my friends signing off of Facebook when I try to send a message. Wouldn't that be a killer app, avoidance. Yes, self-pity Sunday chez Kirstin.

Winston's just let out a giant sigh because I'm making the clickety-click typing sounds that disturb his sleep and won't let him make a nest out of my new semi-solid Jitterbug. He loves to use yarn as a pillow and never the cheap stuff. Just when I think that I've collected all the Jitterbug I might want, they released a new line of semi-solids. I've decided that semi-solids are the way to go now, since I'm tired of making plain old socks and don't want all my pattern work obscured by variegated yarn. I'm not getting rid of any variegated, I'm just not looking to acquire more. I say that like I didn't just snap up a skein of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. If you're a sock knitter, or a Noro-phile, I suggest trying this yarn. It is so much nicer than the Kureyon sock. I haven't had a chance to knit with it yet, but it's been fondled.

The birthday socks went over well. I didn't run the ends in, which was part laziness and part craft. The cast-off was a bit too tight to fit my mom's leg (which is always tricky about toe-up socks. If you know a good, elastic cast-off, please let me know).
She's a knitter, so she can correct that herself. I set up her GPS unit for her, so I don't feel too guilty about letting her fix the cast-off.

I was lucky to have finished the socks ahead of schedule, because Mamablue, the excellent indie dyer, just updated her store on etsy. Not only is her yarn fabulous, but she also offers a $5 discount to people who have completed a project made from it. Discount washable seacell? I am there! Now I can't buy yarn until I start my xmas presents (unless I manage to knit them from stash, but I sometimes find it hard to part with beloved yarn). I'm confident that I won't run out anytime soon.


Desk, noun. 1. That place where one keeps a collection of dead pens, pencils with no point (and no sharpener), and odd stacks of important papers. 2. A hand me down my mother just gave me. 3. Where I keep my precious, expensive electronics and sound equipment. 4. Where my cat likes to lie as I am trying to work.

You can see the problem here. My mom gave me a desk, an appreciated gesture that allowed me to move my computer off of the kitchen table. I will never again be tempted to unplug the refrigerator while recording. I know myself well enough to say that I would forget to plug it back in. So, I moved all of my beloved devices onto the desk, which made me realize that I really need a hub to control all of my cables and that I had a lot of crap on my previous "desk". Need three dead cell phones, several colors of nail polish that I don't remember buying, or old work schedules from a few different jobs? Sigh. How did I have so much crap on my desk and still manage to get anything done?

Which brings me to the new problem: the cat. My mother let him lie on the desk, in front of the monitor, so he now assumes this to be an inalienable right. I do not like this. I especially do not like him standing perilously close to my drink (as I do not think you will find cat hair in the Boston Guide), patting at my cardoid mic, or playfully chewing on various, expensive cables. Things that were completely uninteresting in their old location suddenly require feline scrutiny. He is not at all deterred by tiny, sharp knitting needles where he wants to lie or withering glances.

I finished the birthday socks, with a few days to spare. This comes as a great relief, since the present that I ordered in the mail was secreted in a safe place. There is a great family tradition of safe places, places so safe that the treasured, important item is never seen again. My grandmother put her car keys in a safe place before going to England in 1986. The keys are still missing. This is such an ongoing problem that just saying "safe place" to a family member will elicit a groan. We know where that story is going. So, thank god the large, lace socks are done! I wish that I'd gotten a better photograph, but it was a bit tricky with the silk sheen and modeling the sock on my arm. One of these days, I'll have to invest in a sock blocker and tabletop setup.Until then, it's random appendages and available light. I almost always shoot available light (hence the name of the blog, which was chosen for its sad double meaning), but I digress.

I finally got around to watching my Netflix dvd. I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but I've had it sitting around for over a year. I was never in the mood to watch it, I had better things to do, etc. And so it sat. I estimate that it cost me a C-note to have it sit there waiting on my coffee table. Still, I'm glad that I didn't send it back unseen, as I did so many "important" Nouvelle Vague films after months of procrastination. The film was An Affair of Love and it was incredible. This is the type of film that I thought wasn't being made anymore, due its subject matter and limited marketability. It was the film that I'd wanted to see (without knowing) since I saw A Man and A Woman. I found the subtitles irritating at times (spotty translations, but French is very idiomatic), but still highly recommend An Affair of Love. Great for a good, cathartic cry.

I'm living the life of a hermit. Really, I'd make a lousy hermit because I like communication with the outside world. I might be addicted to Facebook. I prefer to communicate on my own terms, so please don't be offended when I screen my calls. I don't go out much, which has as much to do with the unrelenting humidity and sun as my comfort in my own company. I watch a lot of Travel Channel and am often found curled up with a book or the New Yorker when I'm not knitting. I might be developing a crush on Anthony Bourdain, have decided that I want to travel in Scandinavia, and am rereading The Forsyte Saga. I keep busy, but there are times that I could use a friend. Maybe we could have a hermit convention.

I was lured out of my hermitage by the Feist concert at Ravinia. Honestly, I wasn't very excited about the event, but was looking forward to seeing my friends. The whole day was a comedy of errors. I was in heavy traffic from Will County (the northern part of what Chicagoans call "downstate", where I buy cheaper gas) all the way to Zoe's house on the North Side, which pushed things back. When we finally made it to the train station, three trains passed us by, unable to take on any passengers. So Zoe drove, which was a bit of a relief. So much for choosing environmentally friendly modes of transportation! The concert was mellow, and the weather perfect. We had food and alcohol aplenty and the stars above us. I can only hope for such luck when I go see the Gipsy Kings at the beginning of August.

I may have to make a batch of the new summer drink Zoe and I concocted for Ravinia. I made lavender hibiscus lemonade, using this recipe from the Anticraft. I strongly suggest using a vegetable steamer while making this, or you'll have a lot of fun straining out the hibiscus flowers. Oh, and use fine cheesecloth to catch all the lavender. It's edible, but most people don't like straining their drinks through their teeth. The lemonade alone is lovely, or with a slice of cucumber swimming lazily in the glass. When combined with Zoe's limoncello, though, it is fantastic. I think that she used Michael Chiarello's recipe. The limoncello requires advance preparation, but the lemonade can be made in about an hour and a half. Mix liberally over ice and don't operate heavy machinery.


Wild Strawberries

Inspired by Proust? There must be a term paper somewhere on the parallels to Recherche du Temps Perdu. This will not be it. I paged through a graphic novel version of Au Cote du Chez Swann this afternoon at a used bookstore. I never seem to go by there when it's open, so when I spied a Tin Tin book and the open sign in the window, I had to go in! Neither book followed me home. Even as a bande dessine, Proust doesn't rock my world. In this case, it probably had more to do with the dull layouts and art. Alas.

The wild strawberries of the title are growing in my back yard, with no signs of elderly Swedes trying to collect them. After a few too many jokes about needing a scythe to attack the lawn and declaring the back yarn a prairie reclamation district, I figured it was time to do something. The front yarn was a snap, in spite of all of the divots and garbage strewn upon it by the neighbors. I'm going to pretend that it was the neighbors who moved away until proven otherwise. The back yard was another matter. It is large and overgrown. I seriously wondered if a scythe would be necessary. It wasn't, but it was slow moving. As I am fair skinned and miserable when overheated, I decided to wait until magic hour. An hour was not enough. Soon, I noticed the strong, woodsy scents of the lawn and its flowers and the sun sinking in the sky. But it was when I felt my first mosquito bite that I decided to call it quits. Even after a long, cool shower with calamine soap, my face is still strawberry red.

I didn't get any work done on the birthday socks today, but I don't feel guilty. I've already turned the heel of the first sock and learned the lace pattern. I should be careful about saying that, because it just begs for a big tear-out. Well, I had to tear one row out three times the other night. Maybe that was because it was four in the morning. Hard to say.

I saw a girl punch her mother today while crossing the street, but in a playful manner. I couldn't hear what she said, but I'm pretty sure it was "slugbug". I drive a car that makes people hit each other. I didn't know that people still did slugbug (or punchbuggy, depending where you grew up), since there are so many new Beetles on the road now. A trip through Andersonville or Lincoln Park could leave you black and blue! I doubt that Ferdinand Porsche could have foreseen this, but it seems a testament to his design. No one hits their siblings when they see Fords driving down the street.



I've been thinking about knitting for other people. It's always hard to find a balance, in knitting, between making projects for oneself and those for others. Will they appreciate all of your hard work, or will it end up in the dog's bed (which sadly happened to a quilt my mom made for a relative. ingrates.)? I'm falling behind on my gift knitting, probably because I've fallen behind on my overall knitting. There's nothing like making a job out of your hobby to make you not want to do it. After hours at work talking about knitting and helping others, the last thing I wanted to do was go home and knit. Well, that isn't a problem anymore, but I still didn't manage to knit the Dream in Color shrug in time for my grandmother's birthday. Instead, she got a new recording of The Goldberg Variations. You can never go wrong with Bach. Oh, and the poncho I'm making for a friend who just had a baby? That kid might be in preschool before the damn thing's done. I shouldn't be such a pessimist, I know. And, practically speaking, I'm not. I cast on a new project, a pair of lace socks for my mother's birthday present, yesterday. Considering her birthday is two weeks away, that seems pretty damn optimistic. I've also been thinking of making a CeCe cardigan for my grandmother who recently lost weight and needs a wardrobe refresh. Will she appreciate it? I don't know. She has a tendency to drop hints about things that she'd like knit for her that can rub me the wrong way. But she's my grandmother and I love her. That's really what it boils down to, when knitting gifts. If you love the recipient and the project, it's really a selfish gift.

The Goldberg Variations felt like a bit of a risk. I didn't go with the classic Glenn Gould recording (which I love, but then I'm also a fan of Gould's radio work), but with the new Simone Dinnerstein that's gotten a lot of press. I rarely buy more than one version of classical music, so I may have to borrow it back to compare.

Did anyone else see Coldplay perform on the Daily Show tonight? I was surprised, since I can't remember live music on the program before. I was also a bit disappointed. Coldplay seems like they'd be great live, but I was distinctly unimpressed by their performance. Who knows, maybe it was a function of the Daily Show never having live music-- maybe their sound engineer didn't keep an eye on the suck knob.

I went grocery shopping today. I like to go any time other than Saturday mornings, to avoid the crowds. Predictably, there was a small child throwing a tantrum in line in front of me. I tried really hard not to let out a post office sigh. Maybe he hadn't had his nap, but this kid was going for broke. Not fists beating on the floor, but a lot of lung power devoted to some crappy toy that he wanted. His older sister, who was maybe six, took advantage of the situation and snuck a large bag of candy onto the conveyor belt. She handed it to her mom and the mom didn't even look at it. She just threw it on with the rest of her purchases. Now, I doubt that these kids were old enough to collaborate on the tantrum/candy misdirection, but I couldn't help but admire the sister's slyness.

That sexy retrofit keyboard from my last post got two responses. One of my other AV nerd friends declared his desire for one. And one of my civilian friends suggested that I make one myself. It really isn't beyond my skills, I guess. I just can't bring myself to kill a typewriter to do it. When I really started to think about making one, I got bogged down in details: what key from an old Qwerty would replace the apple key? What about F9 and all those other fancy keys that I hardly ever use? I'll have to scrutinize that photo more closely to imagine it better. My 1930 Crown portable will remain unmolested.



It's a keyboard with typewriter keys! Nerd swoon!


I had a Pride filled Sunday this week. My favorite aunt twisted my arm and talked me into going to the parade with her. Crowds and I don't mix, so I rarely go to parades. I go to big events like Pride just often enough to remember why I don't go to big events. It isn't just the crowds, but the great unwashed masses. Sweaty, cranky, stinky people who mysteriously bring dogs, lawn chairs, tiny children, and strollers with them. Seriously? Still, I couldn't resist accompanying Maria to her first Pride. We had a great time. She even got beads. We didn't find any of the friends we were supposed to meet, but we did see a lesbian who was a dead ringer for my (male)cousin Chris. Same haircut and everything, which made my aunt do a double take. When it started to rain, we shoved our way out of the crowd and headed to the pub. We sat at a tiny table with low stools of a height appropriate for kindergartners, which was great for a party of six. We managed to have a lovely lunch and welcome escape from the rain.

My little yellow bug gets a lot of looks and comments. I'm still getting used to that. The other day on the Ike, I got an unusual response. There was a middle aged, long haired man driving an older Jeep in the lane next to me. The Jeep looked like it had been ridden hard and put away wet and sounded like it was powered by an outboard motor. So, the driver keeps staring at me, which I attributed to the powerful combination of girl and cute car. These looks were less than friendly, and I realized why when he pulled ahead of me in traffic. His tailgate was covered in flag, union, and other patriotic stickers. He also had a handmade sign about driving an American car because he loved his country. And there I was in my little German car. Ugh.

I love my Beetle, but sometimes I see other slugbug owners who maybe love their cars a little too much. Twice today, I saw other yellow bugs covered in girly decals. The first was covered in flower stickers and driven by a middle aged woman. The second was covered in flowers and butterflies. It looked like what would happen if eight year olds drove cars. When I saw it in the parking lot, I was secretly afraid that the decals might be contagious. Other people might idly worry about their shower curtains killing them or that big Swiss supercollider, but I afraid that one day I will find my car decked out with flower light caps, daisy rims, and cartoonish stickers.

I just finished a hectic photoshoot. The models? All of the yarn that I acquired from a friend's de-stash. I'm sad that Linda moved back to Ohio, but her generous yarn gifts totally make up for all of the yarn that was stolen with my Buick. I felt like some sort of yarn pornographer (sadly, that skein of Jitterbug cannot arch its back a little more)!

Usually, I don't make the same pattern multiple times. Today, I cast on for a second concurrent sock project. I'm not making a pair of socks, but one of two different pairs. They're in a corrugated looking ribbing that I think is called garter rib. It certainly shows off all of the variegation! The first pair I've named the Sesame Street socks, due to the color scheme.

The second pair is knit in Colinette Jitterbug, possibly the best sock yarn ever. That could be hyperbole, but I love it. Making the same pattern in Jitterbug only cements my hate towards the Juliet yarn in the other pair. It didn't look like I thought it would. Sure, I like a yarn that photographs well, but I've got to see it in person once in a while. Also, it's kind of hairy and splitty, due to a loose ply. Of course, the Sesame Street socks are a gift for a friend with large feet. Sigh.

Otherwise, things have been relatively dull. I'm embracing my AV nerd side (side, right. It's my profession). I spent the better part of the afternoon editing photos, uploading my new acquisitions to Ravelry, and working on this blog. I just cannot get a Flickr badge I like to work on this page. One of my friends just started a video blog. As I watched it, I couldn't help but think of how I would re-cut it. I'm a ruthless dramaturg: I think everyone could use a visit from Sally Scissors. Youtube being what it is, I can't download the footage to edit. Just as well.

*That Hello Kitty bug is simply for illustrative purposes. If I had seen that car in person, I might still be standing there, mouth agape.

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