A Good Yarn

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Let's Do That Again!

A long weekend is so much fun! I hope all of my fellow Americans had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was very low key. I have a major chest cold, so that was negative, but I loved having the time off. I spent Thanksgiving day with my brother and niece at their place. He made a smoked turkey, which was different. I think I prefer the traditional turkey better. We usually go to a movie on Thanksgiving, but we couldn't all agree on one film and I was feeling pretty tired, so I just went home and knit. I spent all day Friday at home. It was so nice. I was able to get some cleaning done around the house, which made me feel much better. I also finished up the Top Down Hat from Susan's blog:

Project Name: Top Down Hat
Designer: Susan Lawrence
Pattern Source: Susan's Blog
Yarn: Reynolds Caviar
Yarn Source: Secret Pal 6 (thanks pal!)
Date Started: 11/22/05
Date Completed: 11/25/05

Comments: I decided to use the half-linen stitch for the sides of the hat. Thanks for a great knit, Susan!

We had a winter wonderland on Friday:

Finbar just loves the snow. I think it's because he was born in late October, so when I took him home and was housebreaking him it was very snowy. I think the snow reminds him of his puppyhood. That first winter he would only go to the bathroom in snow, so as it started to melt in the spring, there were smaller and smaller areas for him to "do his business". He eventually figured out he didn't need the snow, but it was pretty funny. Now when the snow comes he's like a puppy again. He runs around like a crazy animal. He rolls around in it, he buries his face in it. Both he and Fiona eat it like it's ice cream.

I also finished up the band for the Lucky Clover Wrap:

It really wasn't too bad. I had heard it was so tedious to knit 62" of ribbing, but it went pretty quickly. I have another shorter band to make, but I thought I'd start sewing it together first.

It's hard to see in such dark yarn, but it's one of the raglan seams. This is an extremely challenging piece to sew together. That dark yarn is really hard to see. The stitches are so small it's hard to get into the right selvedge. I managed to get one sleeve sewn in and part of the sleeve seamed. I'm relieved to find that the sleeves are not too long. I'm afraid the sweater itself is a little too short, though. We'll see once I get the side seams sewn together.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More Goodies

I saw another one of the Documentary finalists:

This was an interesting one. It follows a group of soldiers in Fallujah in January, 2004 - that's when the whole situation in Fallujah started getting violent. Part of their mission was to do community outreach, so there's a lot of footage of soldiers talking to Iraqi citizens. It was really interesting to hear what the Iraqis thought about troops being in Fallujah. There's also a lot of discussion about what the purpose of the war is, why the soldiers joined the Army and the pressure by the Army to re-enlist. They had lost one of their fellow soldiers in a bomb blast and a lot of them were really burned out and bitter from that experience. I wish some of the folks who say that any criticism of the war is unpatriotic and disrespectful of the soldiers would see this film.

Yesterday I received a nice RAOK from Susan.

Such a great surprise!!! I LOVE magazines and anyone whose read this blog knows I'm a crazy dog lady. Thanks Susan!!

I also got some free yarn:

It came with some pattern leaflets too. It's actually a little less dark and more coppery than that picture. I actually really like the color and am thinking I may just make myself a scarf with it. It'd be nice to have 2 skeins, though, so I may keep my eye out for this yarn at the craft stores. This was a free giveaway from Bernat to try it out.

After the fantastic game on Monday Night Football (Vikes SWEEP Pack! Yeah!!), I started a new project. I decided to do the hat knitalong that Susan's doing on her blog with my new yarn from my Secret Pal.

I like the color gradations on this yarn. I really need a new hat, so I figured I'd enjoy this great green in the cold, bleak winter months.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thanks Secret Pal!

I got a Secret Pal package on Friday! I got some really cute green yarn:

It looks like it will knit up with a pretty cool gradation of color - should be fun to knit up! The card you see in the background is gorgeous - besides the pretty colors, it has a velvety texture on the red patterns. I also got some goodies:

Yummy! I can't wait to try some of those jellies - two of my favorite flavors, strawberry and blueberry! The soap is also a favorite - I just love soaps. This one smells delightful! Thanks so much pal, I love it all!!

I saw this film twice this weekend:

Loved it! GoF was my favorite HP book and they had to cut a lot out of it to make a 2 1/2 hour movie, but they still captured the essence of the book and added to the ongoing movie series. The film deftly captures the fun of magic, a lot of humor, the emotions of the main characters on the verge of full blown adolescence and the epic struggle of good v. evil, all in equally effective parts. The kids did a really nice job with the acting. I thought Emma Watson as Hermione was particularly effective. There were a few clunker lines by Danielle Radcliffe, but that may have been the writing more than the acting. I loved Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter. The other Tri-Wizard champions were well cast as well - Cedric Diggory and Victor Krum both looked pretty much exactly as I had imagined them and were very attractive. Fleur Delacour wasn't quite as beautiful as the book described, but it would have been hard to cast such a siren.

I saw the film Friday night with my niece and nephew at an Imax theater. It was my first time seeing a theatrical release in Imax and I really liked it. On such a huge screen it's easy to see all the details in the background and the sound is really good. Maybe because it was one of the first showings, the audience was really into it and there was more reaction to the film - more laughing, more sadness, etc. There were three kids sitting in front of us that were dressed up - 2 Harrys (one in robes and one in school sweater) and Hermione and looked fantastic. Saturday I took Red and Ben to see it at a regular theater. Red was a bit scared during the battle with Voldemort, but they both did well with such a long movie. I was a bit worried they'd be bored and unable to pay attention. Since I already saw the film, I knit on my Lucky band during the Saturday show:

35 of 63 inches completed. I got most of that done yesterday during the AK get together and HP. It's deadly dull, but easier to take when you're distracted. You may notice a couple of snow flakes on that band - it's snowing a bit today.

I had to take out a new computer diskette to take these photos and found some older pictures of the dogs. I sit at the dining room table to blog - sometimes they gather around me - here's Fiona sitting in the dog bed under the table and Finbar sitting right next to me. I edited my big white thigh out of the left side of this photo:

Here's a close up of Fiona in the dog bed. Finbar sits in there sometimes too. Since they're in such a small space, I think they think it's their den and they're wolves:

Here's an extreme closeup of Fiona:

Sometimes Finbar doesn't sit next to me, he sits on the sofa behind me. Today he crawled up onto the back of the sofa so that I would pet him and pay attention to him:

Who could resist those cute faces?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Documentary Madness

Yes, I'm a crazy docu-fiend. Last night I saw this:

I'd give this one a mixed review - probably a B-. This was actually one of the selections at the Film Festival last week, but Greg wanted to see it too and he wasn't available when it played last week. We had seen a preview when we saw The Artistocrats and it looked pretty funny. And then Sarah Silverman was one of the funniest people in The Artistocrats, so we decided we had to check it out.

The film is mostly Sarah Silverman doing her standup routine, which a few musical numbers and "back stage" skits thrown in. The performance parts were mostly pretty good. She's really funny and smart. Her humor is very out there - part of the humor is the difference between the horrible things she says and the way she says them. Here's this beautiful woman speaking in a very natural, smooth way and saying some of the most outrageous things you can think of. It's pretty funny. Most of the skits were pretty lame though. It's only a little over an hour long and the editing is a little rough. The ending comes pretty unexpectedly, I think in part because it's so short, you're expecting more. The short scene after the end credits was pretty hilarious and Sarah Silverman isn't even in it.

I finished up the second sleeve on Lucky after I got home. I started on the ribbed band, which is over 60" long, so that should be a mindless, boring knit. Maybe I'll bring it to the AK group so I'm distracted by the chatting and laughing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Academy Award Season

The good films are starting to be released, which always signals the Academy Award season. The academy also released the finalists for consideration in the documentary category. Documentaries have been so popular this year and there are 15 finalists instead of 12 as is usually the case. I am happy that I have seen 6 of them:

After Innocence
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Mad Hot Ballroom
March of the Penguins
Unknown White Male

I loved The Aristocrats and am disappointed that's not in consideration, but it's so risque, I'm not entirely surprised. I'm surprised "Why We Fight" isn't a finalist. Perhaps it wasn't eligible for some reason. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm also surprised Grizzley Man wasn't a finalist.

I've heard After Innocence is a frontrunner. I think March of the Penguins will be nominated, but I think it's too popular to win - usually the most popular docs don't win. Although Fahrenheit 9/11 won, so you never know. It's unlikely the documentaries I've seen will all of the actual nominations, but of the ones I've seen, I'd vote for Unknown White Male. I LOVED Mad Hot Ballroom, but I think UWM was a little more compelling and less straight forward.

On a less happy note, I'm OUTRAGED that Fox has basically cancelled Arrested Development. They have cut the new episode order and yanked it off the network until November sweeps is over. That basically means that they'll burn off the episodes they've already shot and then it's done. This is the funniest show on television. I don't understand why more people don't like it. It's particularly horrifying that the show that took it's Sunday night place, The War At Home, is still on the air. THAT show is garbage. Why wouldn't they cancel that show and put AD back on Sunday nights? I am hoping one of the cable networks - especially HBO - picks AD up and keeps it going. It's so smart and funny and sometimes very risque = HBO would be a natural.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Remember Knitting?

I do actually knit occasionally. It's been a while, though. I totally wasted Saturday. I have virtually no idea where the day went. I did a lot of sleeping and some shopping with my brother. We also went to Tiger Sushi at the Mall of America for the first time. This is an idea that was way over due. A ton of Japanese tourists go to Mall of America, so a sushi bar is a natural. Not to mention that the Mall has about everything in it - they should have something as ubiquitous as a sushi bar. We went a little after 9:00 and the place was packed. It's a pretty small place with 20 - 25 seats at the sushi bar and 12 or so small tables around the perimeter. Overall it was pretty good. I got gyoza to start and it was different than any I've had before. The noodle part was very thin and filled with a meat and veggie mixture. There was no dipping sauce, but we had already gotten a spicy Tiger Sauce and soy sauce with Wasabi and pickled ginger, so I used that. I don't think I'd order that again. The miso soup had some small pieces of tempura in it, which was ok, but I prefer just green onions and tofu. We also had Tiger Balls - salmon nigiri with black and white sesame seeds. They were good. They served beer and sake, but no cocktails. The main event is the sushi and it was good. Greg got the sashimi platter and enjoyed it all. I got Bluefin Tuna, which was good, Albacore Tuna, which was excellent and Salmon, which was just ok. The Tiger Balls were actually better. This is definitely a good stop if you enjoy Sushi and are shopping at MOA - much better than the food court sushi I had there before.

Sunday I watched the football game and was amazed and astounded that they actually won. I'm not getting my hopes up too high, but I'm a little less depressed than I was two weeks ago. Then I saw this film with some friends:

I liked it, but didn't love it. It's about two boys whose parents, both writers, are getting divorced. The parents share custody, with the boys moving from home to home every day. Each child takes the side of one parent, but pretty much everyone in this film is really fucked up. The parents are both very selfish and self-centered. Their child-rearing leaves a lot to be desired. The oldest son is devoid of any original thought and adopts his father's opinions on everything from literature to relationships to their home. The youngest son has discovered alcohol and masturbation and spends most of his time on one or the other. A lot of the dialog and characterizations really rang true and it was interesting to see how these boys would survive the family, but I didn't find any great insight in the film.

Getting back to knitting, I did finally block the first sleeve of my Lucky Clover Wrap.

I'm almost finished with the second sleeve as well. I fear these sleeves will be way too long. They're not too small around as I feared, but they're really long. Since I'm so close to finishing the second, I'm just going to try to sew it together and if it's unwearable, I'll rip it out and re-knit. Since it's been a while since I've shown this project, here's a close up of the lace again - it's getting better the more I knit it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Wow, this week went fast!

I had intended to post reviews of the documentaries as the week went on, but I just ran out of time. It was a busy week with work during the days and then the film festival at night. Here's a couple of quick reviews:

Monday night I had dinner with a friend at Campiello first. They have an fixed price early dinner that's incredible. We got a glass of wine, an appetizer, a main entree with two side items for about $22. I figured it would be smaller portions of the food, but it wasn't. It was such a good deal and so very delicious. I had bruschetta and the hangar steak with potato puree and Yukon gold potatoes (yes, I love potatoes). If you can eat dinner before 6:00, I highly recommend trying this out.

After dinner we went to see "The Green Bus vs. The White House." The film covers the Minnesota Senate race in 2002 - Incumbent Democrat Paul Wellstone versus the White House handpicked candidate, Norm Coleman. Wellstone was killed in a plane crash just before the election, a day I'll never forget. This was a pretty important event in Minnesota history and the documentary does a good job of laying out what the election was like before and after Senator Wellstone's death. The director spoke afterward and drew a lot of parallels between that election and the 2004 presidential election - in particular how the GOP "swiftboated" the memorial service. I was really impressed by the director - she was a history professor and decided to take a class on filmmaking and this is her first documentary. Maybe that's what I'll do one of these days.

Tuesday was my last film class, so I could only go to the late show. "The Outsider" follows director James Toback's career and the making of "When Will I Be Loved." I've never seen one of Toback's films and I have to admit "Loved" didn't look very good. He's an interesting guy though and I especially loved the interviews with his frequent collaborator, Robert Downey, Jr. I'd love to see a documentary about RDJ.

Wednesday I went all out and watched all three selections - so weird to be hanging around the theater that long. It was a warm day, but turned pretty cold after the sun went down and I was freezing in the theater, so I did something I never thought I'd do - I bought a scarf. The Gap is right down the street, so I went in and got this scarf:

I was immediately drawn to the cabled selections, but I realized I'd probably never make something like this and it is really cute. I think I could wear it indoors as a "fashion" scarf, too. They showed it with a cute velvet jacket and a cute corduroy jacket.

The first film on Wednesday was "Code 33". This tells the story of the largest serial rape investigation in Miami history. The film starts with a sketch artist drawing a composite and then following the investigation from there. The filmmakers really got a lot of access to the police during the investigation and it's fascinating to see how things work and the sketch artist and police detectives are interesting, passionate people. The filmmakers do a great job of building tension and I was totally absorbed by the end of the film. If you enjoy detective novels/films/tv you'll love this one.

Next up was my favorite film of the festival, "Unknown White Male". The title subject is a wealthy European man living in NYC who finds himself on the subway one morning with no memory of how he got there, where he's going or even who he is. He has complete memory loss. It then follows him from those first few days of panic through his re-introduction to his family and friends and building a new life. The film asks about the very nature of existence - are we born as a unique person and stay that person no matter what or are we the end result of all of our experiences? What happens if you no longer remember those experiences? When the film was screened at the Sundance Festival many questioned it's authenticity - it's just such a strange and unique thing to happen and everyone in the movie looks gorgeous and like movie stars (the amnesiac looks like he's one of the Fiennes brothers), but filmmaker proved everything really did happen. A studio bought rights to the story, so perhaps a regular film will be made of it too. See this if you have the chance, though.

The final film of the night was "Real Life." This is a "mockumentary" by Albert Brooks released in 1979 after the popularity of the PBS documentary "American Family." I first caught this while I was in a hotel room and I missed the first 20 minutes or so, so at first I thought it was a real documentary. It's so funny and outrageous I eventually realized it had to be a parody. I was glad to see it again after so long and to see it on the big screen. If you're a reality tv junkie, rent this DVD someday for a good laugh.

Thursday was a tough day at work, so I was really glad to have a couple of good documentaries to look forward to. It was the last day, so the closing film was the big finale. First up was "Visions of Light", another film I'd seen on tv before, but never on the big screen. In fact, we actually watched part of it in my film class this fall, so I did see the parts about film noir on a big screen. The film is about the art of cinematography and the work of the great Directors of Photography. If you love the art of film and haven't seen this, rent this DVD too.

The last film was "After Innocence".

This film is getting a lot of buzz in the Oscar race. It's about a number of men who have been exonerated by DNA evidence after spending years in prison. In most states, the wrongfully convicted get a handshake, maybe an apology and that's about it. It's pretty difficult to rebuild your life after spending 20 years in prison for a crime you didn't commit. Most of the men in the film are angry, but not possessed by it. Since only a small group of crimes involve DNA evidence, it does make you wonder how many innocent people are in prison for other crimes. Of course it also provides a compelling case against the Death Penalty. One of the subjects of the documentary also appeared after the film and shared some thoughts. It was pretty amazing. I'm not sure if I'd survive that kind of experience.

Last night was movie night with my law school buddies. We saw this one:

I'd give it a mixed review. It's a compelling story and I liked the acting. Charlize Theron once again plays an interesting character in a very realistic way. Frances McDormand gives her usual fantastic performance as a fellow miner with a different approach to the sexual harrassment of her male co-workers. The relationship between Theron's character and her parents in very interesting and moving. However, her parents change in actions toward the end of the film isn't well-supported in the film and seems somewhat inconsistent. The final court room scene is completely unrealistic, but more importantly, it's very trite. Too corny and too unrealistic for me. If you like that type of emotional manipulation in films this film will really appeal to you.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Monday again

I know I say this every week, but the weekends go so fast! Yesterday I did this:

then this:

The game was fun. It's nice to not get embarrassed, much less actually win. There were even some exciting moments. Bonnie was great. She's one of the coolest women walking this planet. I wish I could have 10% of her coolness. The music was great - a mix of her old hits and stuff off her new album. Not surprising, my favorite was "I Can't Make You Love Me", which is my favorite Bonnie Raitt song. She sang it with so much intensity and soul, though, it was just brilliant. "Nick of Time" was also really good.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I was going to post an update yesterday, but blogger was down for 2 hours for maintenance in the middle of the afternoon. Maintenance is good, but can't you do it in the middle of the night like other sites?

I have actually been knitting again. Here's the first snake scarf re-configured so it's the right width:

It's missing the bottom of head, which is a lighter color since snakes are lighter on the belly. I didn't have anything appropriate in stash, so I stopped by Needlework Unlimited and picked up some needlepoint yarn to use. I think it looks pretty good, though. The garter edge was flipping up so I got it wet and pinned it down, as you can see. NU was having a Rowan trunk show, which included 15% off any Rowan yarn. I managed to resist since I have so many projects stacked up, but there were a few really pretty but tiny sweaters in the trunk show. Rowan just doesn't design for larger ladies. Even their "plus size" book doesn't go up that large. I'm still going to buy it though - they're big enough for me. There are a couple of pictures on the NU website of sweaters in the trunk show. That cabled sweater was my favorite, but I think it was about a 32" chest size.

In non-knitting news, there is a documentary film festival going on here this week. I'm so excited! Friday night I saw an awesome doc called "Why We Fight". It's inspired by Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell speech where he coined the term "Military-Industrial complex". Ike warned the American people about the danger of this growing threat to democracy and said that the only thing to counteract it would be an "alert and knowledgeable citizenry." Looks like Ike knew his stuff. The film explores why our country is set up to constantly fight wars - not just Iraq, but every administration since WWII has found some excuse to keep the military amped up. The difference now, though, is that there's a 4th party to the Military-Industrial complex (the military, the defense industry and the Congress) - the think tanks. One of the great interviews in the film was with Karen Kwiatkowski, an air force officer for 20 years who became completely disheartened by seeing American policy set by un-elected policy analysts who manipulated the intelligence information to justify invading Iraq. Her plain speaking and intelligent voice is so refreshing. Other memorable people in the film are a NYC police officer who lost his son in 9/11 and wanted payback for the tragedy and a 23-year-old Army recruit seeking a new parent in the guise of the Army after his mother's death. The film is fascinating, entertaining, depressing and motivating all at the same time. It was picked up by Sony Pictures, so it will get a wide release in January - if it plays in your local art house, I highly recommend it.

And, just because he's so darn handsome, here's my pup:

He was searching for the rabbit that was in the backyard, but got away. I took a picture of the rabbit too, because it sat in the yard for the longest time before finally being chased away. Unfortunately, the rabbit picture was damaged. Finbar's still cute, though, in his pointer stance.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not Knitting

I haven't been knitting much at all the last couple of weeks. I've just been too busy to sit down and relax. I have been indulging "my sickness" though:

I haven't been buying clothes lately, but I bought a ton of knitting magazines. How awesome!! When I first started knitting, there was only a handful of magazines - IWK, VK, Knitters and Fashion Knitting which is now Knit Style. I've never been a huge fan of that last magazine. Knitter's Digest was around too, but I don't think I've ever bought that magazine - just not my style. Since they only came out 4 times a year, I'd be "jonesing" for a knitting mag all the time. This week I picked up an English magazine - Creative Knitting. I also got the new Knit It and the new magazine Knitscene. I also picked up the latest InKnitters and got my Cast On in the mail. I passed by one magazine - k.1 or Knit Style, I think. So awesome!!

I also picked up some lace weight for a shawl:

This stuff is so nice and soft and so cheap! Love it!!

I got the November kit for the Bead Knitting Group too:

Such a cute bead knitted leaf bracelet. I bought three different colorways just because I couldn't choose.

I did knit a little bit while watching the Vikings embarrass themselves again, but I spent more time putzing around the house. I started the hooded sweater my sister requested with the Knit Picks yarn. I really like this yarn. I have to knit it a bit loose to get gauge, but I think it'll be ok. So far it's just a big hunk of stockinette stitch, so no boring photos. I had Book Club on Sunday too. I only got about 1/4 of the way through the book, so I couldn't contribute much to the discussion, but I still had fun. I think I'm still going to try to finish "Pope Joan". I'm liking it so far.

With Halloween it's kind of hard to knit because I have to keep getting up and sitting down. I had a pretty good number of kids. I bought some Halloween colors on clearance two years ago and finally got rid of all of those this year, along with some candy. I still have a bunch of candy left - oh darn!

Last night my friend Deepa showed me how to crochet - here's the granny square I made:

Crochet is very quick and easy! Deepa was an awesome teacher and even gave me a sample and handout to take home. I wanted to learn to crochet after falling in love with the Turkish scarf in "Scarf Style". Now I'll have to pick up the yarn and try my hand at an actual crochet project. Oh, and start knitting again.