30 August 2013

Planning ahead [echo]

My friend Jim is a skilled bookbinder and document and book restoration expert.  He is also an author.  These two are combined in a contest he is running for persons who post reviews of one of his books, Communion of Dreams, on Amazon.com, and Jim asked me to draw the winners.

Jim also asked me to write up a brief description of how I will do it.  Unfortunately, I’ve been sick with strep throat this week, so other than work and sleeping I haven’t been able to accomplish much, even as much as thinking about how to perform the drawing.  Since Jim mentioned me in the latest reminderpost about the competition, I thought I would make a few suggestions about bribes give a general idea of how the drawing will occur.

Most likely, I will put all the names into a spreadsheet, sort alphabetically, and pick two numbers, one for the leather-bound copy and one for the cloth-bound copy.  I might do it based upon email addresses.  I might print out slips of paper, stir them in a hat, and pick from there.  Or have a friend pick from there.  Or a friend’s child.  Or two.  Or do what one of my grad school professors said he did to decide grades, and thrown them down the stairs – according to the professor, the ones that landed higher-up got better grades than those that fell further.  His logic was that the lighter the essay, the more succinct and on-point it was likely to be.

Whatever I decide, I’ll let everybody know the method used when I tell Jim who the winners are.

As for bribes, while I am likely to decline them (or forward cash and cash-equivalent to one of several charities I support), if you want to be creative:
I'm not entering the drawing because (1) I was an early reader of the story, so I'm biased (but if it's good enough that I have read it more than once, even knowing the ending, that says something), and (2) I'm already getting a leatherbound copy because I donated to the Kickstarter campaign for the prequel, St. Cybi's Well.  I don't need to collect a set - I'll let this one go to someone else.
Someone whose name I'll be drawing later this weekend.

21 August 2013

I won a book!

My local library has a summer reading program.  In the Adult division, you can get prizes if you read a certain number of books and write a review.  Normally, I read a LOT of books, but I was working on a play this summer and didn't have as much time as usual.  So I was well behind.  Then I managed to do some catching-up, and when I went tonight to see what prizes I had won, this is what I was given:

Actually, I got to choose them all.  The packages of wildflower seeds appeared to all be the same, but there was a choice of two bookmarks (the other has a stylized coffeecup with "Read" on one side and "Relax" on the other) and three shelves of books, most of them review copies.  I could choose my book.  As you may imagine, that was not easy.

First, I checked the two mysteries, but neither seemed very interesting.  One was from a series set in Maine, the other about a bartender in Milwaukee, and while my connections there made that appealing I wasn't as excited as other people might be that it includes drinks recipes.  I looked at most of the books on all three shelves.  A number of them are ones I either have, or have read, or both.  or they are in my "waiting" queue - usually a book being passed around my family and I'm waiting for my turn.

So I went with a book that I thought I'd be unlikely to take out of the library, a historical novel whose central character is a cook.  Uncorrected proof, so I'm spotting typos in the first two pages, but interesting enough, and I'm sure I can pass it to a friend once I'm done.  I won't be able to sell it to Half Price Books, although I intend to take a carton or two of books and magazine there on Friday.  Just another version of recycling - while they work out my price, I do a little shopping......

05 August 2013

Pop-Up Purchases

I went to a pop-up market this evening.  Now that the show has opened and we are not rehearsing every night, I can get out occasionally.  There are free jazz concerts in Bushnell Park (with perfect weather for it tonight), and since there are two sets I could opt to hear one, then go to the market.

These are essentially temporary flea markets, and while the Hartford Denim Company has a large enough indoor space to host one, this one was outside.  And unfortunately, a number of the merchants packed up before I could circle back and shop, due to lack of light, including one who does fun ornaments that have reflective eyes, or spots, depending upon the item.  I've purchased from him at a popup market in the past and thought about getting something this time, but he was gone by the time I circled back.  I did manage to purchase a few items, and chat a bit with some of the vendors as well.

First purchases were at the Vintanthromobile.  There were many tempting items but also a crowd, so I picked items I was sure would fit and I could integrate into my wardrobe:
I was very happy to find the shawl - I have wanted one of them for some time!  Yes, even with all the shawls I make (I had one with me tonight, in case it got cool), I covet ones I cannot make!  At right is a flirty skirt, yellow is not a colour of which I am fond, but with the orange flowers and trumpet styling, it's very cute.  The bag - well, of course I bought one.  This is like a basket with straps, and came in handy as I shopped more.

While I was paying, the owner saw the shawl I'd brought with me in case of chill (and never needed) and asked me about it, and whether I make things for sale.  No, I told her; for fun and gifts and the occasional commission, but I am afraid that if I set up a business, I'd promptly not have time to make enough items.

I love woven blankets like the one on the right:
I have purchased many over the years at various mercados in Texas, and this one is so soft I could not resist!  It's light enough to be a perfect summer blanket.  The vendor seems to specialize in vintage camping items, or maybe it was just the setup tonight.  The dress on the left is a vintage Hawai'ian dress, which I could tell by not just the fabric but the styling.  A key item is the sleeve:
That particular overlapping-petal style is typically Polynesian, and not found on similar garments that are made for mainland crowds.  Although I've always thought of these as something for older women, they are VERY comfortable to wear around the house, especially when it's warm.

There were food vendors, both the prepared kind (if you wanted to arrive hungry, or got hungry in the course of the evening) and farmstand:
Yes, I am part of a CSA, but some items we haven't gotten yet - or I ate what we did get, and the next delivery is on Thursday.  From one vendor came the potatoes (red and purple), onions, and one cucumber.  The bigger cucumber (which reminds me of the ones that grew in the little plot under our one window air conditioner, and so were constantly watered by the drip, when I lived in San Antonio as a child) and the cherry tomatoes (I seem to need more than my CSA is likely to give me because the tomato tarts I made for the green room at Sunday's show were very popular, especially the vegan one - I need to make at least two of those this week!) came from another vendor.  They are also the source of the bread.  Because of the heat I wasn't baking my own, but I didn't get any at the farmer's market on Sunday.  My starter is sulking from being banished to the back of the refrigerator and slow to slough off the hibernation.  So I was happy to buy a loaf, and can report it is very nice bread.

These went into the little inside pocket of my own bag, not with the others in the basket-bag:
The unmatched fused-glass earrings are more likely to be pins for me.  I love the one with the polka dots!  OK, I love polka dots.  Since I don't have pierced ears, I need to convert them to other uses, or to clips, and I just like the idea of using the one on the left as a lapel pin.

The other is a pendant from a glassblower who had many interesting items; I almost bought a spiderweblike suncatcher to hang in one of my office windows.  But that pendant attracted my eye because the inclusions look so much like lithops, which I like.

I browsed items from a third vendor, whose items come recommended, but all the rings I liked are too big for my fingers.  Ah, well, I was running out of cash.  I did get a bumper sticker from Hartford Prints! on the way to my car, but I won't put it on until daylight.  And I need to work up a cord to go with the pendant.

So glad to have had tonight off!

01 August 2013

Charity Knitting for July 2013

So much for my intention to write the blog more regularly!  I have two reasons:  One, I have been involved in a summer Shakespeare in the Park production of "The Winter's Tale" which has taken up almost all my time not working.  Nightly rehearsals on weeknights and all day Saturday, plus Sunday during hell tech week.  But it has been a lot of fun, the people are great to work with (and on some levels less crazy than theatre people often are) and we're into the second weekend of performance so it's fairly smooth.  Of course, weather does interesting things to the production, but unlike most "in the park" productions we have an indoor alternative and even rehearse a "rain transition" in case we have to change mid-show due to a change in weather.

I did make it known that I knit, and do so during rehearsals and performances (since I am the Stage Manager and therefore am backstage - or more accurately, since we have no backstage, back-of-audience) as a way of keeping focused.  It works well enough for me.  I do have to maintain plain work, for the most part, or anything my hands can autopilot.  So with two organizations sending out calls for items to be delivered in July, I was able to create the following items.  For Afghans for Afghans, three wool sweaters:
The pink one (which has appeared on the blog before) is Bernat Felting Roving in the easy-peasy Steppe Sweater pattern, about 26" around; the one at right is a multicoloured wool called "Icelandic" which I knit in a basic Icelandic-sweater-style pattern and came out about 31" around (and actually had been knit sometime in the past and was all-but-finished in the stash); and the one on the left (32" around) I made with yarn from my trip to Argentina a few years ago. 
The organizer of A4A, Ann, went to Buenos Aires a year later and I told her where I had gotten yarn.  At the time, I thought I would use this green for a sweater for them, and originally intended to use it as trim with a multi, but that yarn wasn't cooperative.  Then I had a hurtful experience when I sent these sweaters in 2011:
I ran out of yarn with the one at top left so sent it as a cap-sleeved vest (they accepted vests for that campaign) and I was told it was going to be thrown away because the volunteers didn't think it qualified!  I was also told the one at the top right had sleeves too short (I tried it on and they reached my wrist) so it would be thrown away also - and it was alpaca!  After that, I decided they were nasty ungrateful and unkind people and there was no reason to waste my knitting time with them.

That is when I joined the Mittens for Akkol knitters, who are warm and friendly and a very fine group.  I've been happy to knit for them for the last couple of years.

But the green yarn nagged at me, so when I heard about the girls sweater campaign this summer I thought I would overcome my bad feelings and send sweaters.  Besides, I had that pink one going and then found the other, which I think had been intended for a previous M4A campaign and not gotten done in time.  The three together just fit into a Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate box, which turned out to be cheaper to send than even surface mail!  So off they went.

And the Steppe Sweater pattern, being mostly plain knitting in the round until the armholes, is perfect for autopilot knitting during rehearsals.  Things got a little fiddly because I realized I didn't have enough for a whole sweater, so I added the multi - Patons Kroy Sock in Spring Fields, five strands held together.  I think it gives a nice, bright touch that some girl should enjoy:
I ended up knitting the sleeves from two ends of the green yarn after it became clear I didn't have enough to make both sleeves all green, so the green ended at the same place on the sleeve, and then finishing with the multi.
At the same time, when it was really hot or when I needed something small (the downside of knitting sweaters of a piece, which is great because finishing is minimal, is that they get big and HOT to carry around and knit) I made caps for PatPat's Hats, which gives hats to oncology hospitals and other places to distribute to children (and some adults) who have lost their hair to cancer treatments.  I forget how I found out about them but they are in Connecticut and hats are easy to make!
Earlier this summer they sent out a call for hats kids could wear at Camp Rising Sun, which is a free camp for children who have been diagnosed with cancer, which has been providing kids with camping experiences for thirty years.  These hats needed to be cotton or thin yarns, because it is summer, so I focused on those.  I had just gotten some frozen yoghurt pops and thought it would be fun to mail the hats in that box, so my goal was to make enough to fill the box:
Most are cotton, a few are not, such as these three of Bernat Baby Jacquards (and I still have some of that ball left, but I didn't want to make too many alike) and the two of an oddball of Fiesta yarn that I thought an older boy might like because of the colours:
Although it is easier for me to autopilot knitting, crocheting is faster and a nice change of pace, so two of the caps (one of the "pink lemonade" ones and one in Brown Sheep Cotton Fine) are crocheted:
I got seven hats out of six balls of Sugar 'n' Cream that I had in my stash waiting for a use.  I wanted them to be as different as possible from each other, even the ones where I used a similar pattern, and I think I came up with a nice variety:

I made three in ribbing patterns to stretch over different sizes of heads.  It makes a difference when a child has no hair, or a little hair, and different types of hair.  All striped, because plain hats are dull: 

These are my three favourites of the bunch.  Two are in a short-rows pattern from KnitPicks that I often use when making hats, and the third is just a plain hat with stripes.  It was the last hat I made, and I was integrating the yarns I had left.
So with all the charity knitting done, am I working on something for myself?  No, all the projects I have queued for me require concentration (at least to begin) and the next weekend of performances is beginning, so I am doing another Steppe Sweater for Mittens for Akkol (getting a jump on next spring!) until the weekend, when I will have time to set up a new project.  I did finish two shawls for myself earlier this summer, but they will have to wait for another post to be reported.