Miscellany

The other night I dreamt that the second and third toes of my right foot fused together into one toe. The same was happening to the corresponding toes on my left foot but I managed, painlessly I think, to peel them apart before they fused as seamlessly and irrevocably as the others had done.

Also in the same phantasmagorical interlude Maizy had open heart surgery and I disturbed her as she was coming round from the anaesthetic, her entire body a mass of huge stitches, she was in pain and I was told to leave because it was my fault. It was also revealed that a dear friend from university was best friend to a former colleague whom I disliked intensely; from this latter I learnt, in the dream, much about my own lack of humility, overabundance of judgementalness and the importance of right livelihood.

The foot thing is highly likely to be related to the current sock-knitting and the acquisition of a pattern for a knitted tabi, the Japanese foot-covering with a separate big toe designed to be worn with thonged shoes and traditionally sewn from cloth. Could the multi-pierced Maizy be traced back in some way to the weekend’s re-encounter with the nightmares in stitches of Louise Bourgeoise?

Or perhaps the whole technicolour experience was due to the consumption of an entire family-sized packet of jelly babies shortly before going to bed. They, after all, have fused toes and are no doubt full of enough noxious chemicals in sufficient quantities to disturb the brain chemistry of even the unsusceptible let alone the susceptible to such imbalances.

It is only recently that I have been able to look a jelly baby in the face, much less insert one into my own. As a very small child (probably between the ages of three and six) my father used to drive my brother and I for what seemed like several days across the country to pay dutiful visits to his aunt. My mother, needless to say, refused to go. I hated it. Hours of excruciating boredom on the way there, hours of excruciating boredom once we arrived (apart from the very few minutes of entertainment provided by Billy the budgie who didn’t talk and bit).

Worst of all was the appalling sickness on the way home. I was always sick. I was always sick for the same reason. Because my thoughtless and horrible great aunt always, without fail, gave me a humungous box of jelly babies and I always, without fail, ate them all in the car on the way home. And it was clearly her fault. It was also her fault that my brother didn’t open his box for days, ate them in small but regular quantities and taunted me with his sweetfulness and my lack thereof for weeks afterwards, which made me very sour indeed towards both of them.

Thinking about this childish shift of responsibility and how prevalent it is in various forms in people of all ages as well as organisations, governments and entire cultures led me to the wikipedia article on locus of control personality orientations which has made interesting reading.

Internals tend to attribute outcomes of events to their own control. Externals attribute outcomes of events to external circumstances. For example, college students with a strong internal locus of control may believe that their grades were achieved through their own abilities and efforts, whereas those with a strong external locus of control may believe that their grades are the result of good or bad luck, or to a professor who designs bad tests or grades capriciously; hence, they are less likely to expect that their own efforts will result in success and are therefore less likely to work hard for high grades… Due to their locating control outside themselves, externals tend to feel they have less control over their fate. People with an external locus of control tend to be more stressed and prone to clinical depression.

Indeed. It’s something else I feel shifting.

So what else? I’ve been doing a great deal of knitting at home, on the bus, in cafés, round at friends’, whilst listening to an unabridged reading of Emma etc. I’ve added a widgety bit of javascript to the sidebar showing recent projects and their progress. Down on the right, below the twittering. A piece of gorgeous goodness from Casey the code monkey at Ravelry.

My father seemed highly gratified with his birthday socks; I started a pair for myself, one of which posed with some art at the weekend; started and finished a very pleasing beret and finally, finally, just a few minutes ago, sewed in the last end of the Austenesque. I’m thinking of modelling it and asking Neha to take a celebratory picture of it when we meet up what is now later today. But I think I need to get hold of a corset first, somehow.

So in the absence of a picture of the charming garment here is a picture of my charming creatures being aaawsome. Taken by the charming and aaawsome Alistair. On his iPhone. Jealous? moi? overcome with uncontrollable capitalistic acquisitive gadget lust? No, no. Of course not.

my creatures are aaaaawsome

This is also, incidentally, a wonderful example of how not, according to all the best advice, to write a blog post. But what do I care? I am half-woman, half-vegetable. Curly kale to be precise. And I’m very happy this way.

Shaggy not-dog story

He appeared, or rather his hair did, in my peripheral vision as I waited to board the train. A great spiky halo of vibrance, coiled clumps zinging in all directions around a golden-skinned face with huge velvety brown eyes. Gentle eyes. A tall man, six foot or more. A tan overcoat and a canvas shoulder bag.

“God you’re gorgeous” I thought as I very deliberately plopped myself down in the seat opposite. Just so I had something beautiful to glance at between rows of the sock, you understand. But without being observed, naturally.

I smiled as I (kfb, k8, dd, k8, kfb)x4. What, I wondered, would this beautiful creature think if he realised that the ill-kempt middle-aged woman crouched over a tangle of small pointy sticks was licking his lips with her eyes.

Amusement made me incautious. I looked up, smiling, and… he smiled at me!

Not a condescending nor superior smile, neither a fleeting nor flirtatious smile but an open, engaged, luminescent eye-crinkler of a smile.

I was suffused with an inner glow. Suffused, I tell you. I sat thinking how it had made my week, possibly even my month. And if that latter was the case then also my year.

I also thought about how I needed to get out more. And that, if I did get out, I needed to do more knitting and less eyes-closed meditation on public transport.

Inside out, upside down

sock the second

The socks I was planning to make for my father for Christmas have now become the sock I have completed and the sock I am still making – for his birthday. Which was yesterday. Luckily we’re meeting mid-month so I’ve got plenty of time to finish.

Quite why I started this project I don’t know. I didn’t like working on double pointed needles and I’d never used five before, only four. I didn’t like working with such fine yarn. I’d never made a sock before. Babies booties – check. Gloves – check. But only on two needles. Socks? never. But I’m really enjoying it.

sock the second too

Just one thing. I have the invariable habit of starting with the end of the yarn which is at the centre of the ball. This has the huge advantage of preventing the ball bouncing around, disappearing under the furniture, collecting dust and fluff and appearing to the cat as an exciting toy every time you pull the yarn, which is what happens if it’s peeling off the outside of the ball. Pulling from the inside the ball just sits there quietly and gives up of itself from its guts without any fuss at all.

With the first sock I dug around in the middle of the ball trying to find the end and eventually, like a clumsy surgeon delving in an abdominal cavity, fished out a large dollop of tangled mess. This had to be painstakingly unravelled and rewound into a quite sizeable sub-ball. Then when nearing the end of the ball (and the first sock) the yarn collapsed in on itself, squirmed around and became another dollop of tangled mess which again had to be unravelled and rewound. It seems that Regia isn’t balled for centre-pulling.

When starting the second sock I cast on with the outside end of the new ball. What I hadn’t realised is that, since the yarn is dyed to produce repeating stripes of varying widths, this outside-in approach means the second sock is going to be upside down in comparison to the first sock.

first ever sock - side

This of course doesn’t matter very much because my father probably won’t notice, if he does he won’t mind and if he actually wears them they’ll be invisible beneath his shoes and trousers anyway. It might in fact be viewed as a positive thing since variety is the spice of life and, as I have just been told, “to be on the one way is to be without anxiety about non-perfection”.

Emptiness here, Emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before our eyes. Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and non-Being. Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this. One thing, all things: move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.
Words!
The Way is beyond language, for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

Hsin Hsin Ming – verses on the faith mind of Sengstan (Sosan) 3rd Zen Patriarch

Some pairs

The armwarmers adorn one arm each of two friends.

hands

Two attempts to diagnose the macbook pro rattle. Is it a rattley cough (the fan) or a rattle of approaching death (the hard drive)?

can't you hear it?

seriously, it's making a weird noise

Two baubles from the rather attractive Christmas decorations in John Lewis on Oxford Street

huge green bauble

huge pink bauble

And two pictures of one rainbow.

rainbow 1

rainbow 2

Which do you prefer?

Who needs Facebook?

When there’s Ravelry. Ok, so it’s in beta and you have to get invited but if you’re a knitter… sign up! do it now!

For why?

Because, if you’re a knitter, it answers just about every need you’ve ever had. Seriously.

When I were a wee lass back in 1991 and I had my first PDA, a Psion Series 3 ‘Classic’ (a Christmas present from my father – he had no idea, I presume, what he was starting… this was my first computer and is responsible for all ensuing techno-love-joy and me sitting here now) I started making a database of knitting patterns and materials.

But of course. What else was a girl with a Psion to do? Particularly a girl with very few friends to enter in the contacts section. Incidentally, I never met another girl with a Psion. There must have been some, somewhere. I did meet a few males with them but found conversation difficult. But not as much as they did.  Anyway, I digress.

I realised that I had two unfortunate habits. One was indiscriminately to buy yarn when- and where- ever I saw it on sale at knock-down prices (thus early on in life building up a truly impressive stash) and the other was to buy large numbers of books and magazines (mostly Rowan) of patterns. What I needed was a sensible way of bringing the two together. Thus was born my personal knitting database.

I was going to enter details of every pattern I had – general type of garment/accessory, name of pattern, name of yarn, equivalent weight (Rowan, for instance, still has a range of exotically-named yarns which don’t at first sight always convey much information about how thick they are), yardage of yarn required for each size, needles, findings etc. I also rated the patterns by difficulty and how much I liked them. Then, the theory went, the next time I bought a cone of 1000g of 5 ply wool at a totally bargainous price I’d actually be able to find something to make out of it.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever inputted lots of data into a database, particularly without knowing what you are doing. If not take it from me it’s a real bind. That may explain why I didn’t get very far. But the idea was an absolute corker.

It’s just one of the many many things Ravelry does/is doing. But instead of one inept novice in the UK cataloguing her books and stash using the technology of 1990s it’s tens of thousands of fanatics across the globe using the social interwebbing magic of the 21st century. So I can, for instance, pop over to their pattern browser, select as many or as few variables as I want and then amble in a leisurely way through pictures of patterns for cardigans for women using 4 ply yarn, clicking for further details on any I like the look of.

How cool is that? Cooler than 0 K, in my opinion.

You *can* make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear (and other excitements)

There’s a meme-with-a-difference going round… ask, and ye shall receive. Or rather comment, and you’ll get something in the post. As in the snail-mail, not the blog entry. Or perhaps both. For the first four supplicants.

I first saw it at Jean‘s where people were being backward in coming forward. I asked for a thick ear, and lo! here it is:

silk purse

You’re not really allowed to specify what you want but she kindly obliged, albeit with a liberal interpretation.

So now it’s my turn. The first four people to request in the comments will get either a print of a picture of their choice or a bespoke knitted gewgaw. And the duty of continuing the tradition.

Other excitements include the qarrtsiluni widget in the sidebar (far right, you might need to scroll down a bit) displaying the most recent entries of that august ‘zine. Some of which have added ear-candy. There’s still a fortnight to go to submit items on the current theme, Insecta. There are some incredible photographs there.

I put together this montage of various aspects of the fruit fly (Drosophila) from copyright free material found hanging around on the web but it wasn’t the sort of thing the (excellently) stringent editors were looking for. I like it, though 🙂 We know so much about this organism. And so little.

drosophila

It’s better bigger, so click here to see it at a reasonable size.

The latest Festival of the Trees, November Arborea, is up at Larry Ayres’ Riverside Rambles and there’s a mouthwatering quantity of photographs among this month’s offerings.

And then there’s the new banner. Over at Krista‘s. Which is exceedingly exciting. (She tells me humans see more verticals than horizontals which makes me feel better about the difficulty I had forcing myself to see sideways, even a little bit.)

In fact it’s almost as exciting as the knitting project we’ve got, um, round our necks. Almost. But not quite. Because few things could be that exciting. I expect further bloggage on the subject will be forthcoming.

And don’t forget – if you’d like a print or a knitted trifle just say so in the comments.

You *can* make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (and other excitements)

There’s a meme-with-a-difference going round… ask, and ye shall receive. Or rather comment, and you’ll get something in the post. As in the snail-mail, not the blog entry. Or perhaps both. For the first four supplicants.

I first saw it at Jean‘s where people were being backward in coming forward. I asked for a thick ear, and lo! here it is:

silk purse

You’re not really allowed to specify what you want but she kindly obliged, albeit with a liberal interpretation.

So now it’s my turn. The first four people to request in the comments will get either a print of a picture of their choice or a bespoke knitted gewgaw. And the duty of continuing the tradition.

Other excitements include the qarrtsiluni widget in the sidebar (far right, you might need to scroll down a bit) displaying the most recent entries of that august ‘zine. Some of which have added ear-candy. There’s still a fortnight to go to submit items on the current theme, Insecta. There are some incredible photographs there.

I put together this montage of various aspects of the fruit fly (Drosophila) from copyright free material found hanging around on the web but it wasn’t the sort of thing the (excellently) stringent editors were looking for. I like it, though 🙂 We know so much about this organism. And so little.

drosophila

It’s better bigger, so click here to see it at a reasonable size.

The latest Festival of the Trees, November Arborea, is up at Larry Ayres’ Riverside Rambles and there’s a mouthwatering quantity of photographs among this month’s offerings.

And then there’s the new banner. Over at Krista‘s. Which is exceedingly exciting. (She tells me humans see more verticals than horizontals which makes me feel better about the difficulty I had forcing myself to see sideways, even a little bit.)

In fact it’s almost as exciting as the knitting project we’ve got, um, round our necks. Almost. But not quite. Because few things could be that exciting. I expect further bloggage on the subject will be forthcoming.

And don’t forget – if you’d like a print or a knitted trifle just say so in the comments.

“This is the world’s largest collection of anatomically correct fabric brain art”

So goes the opening line of at the web site of The Museum of Fabric Brain Art. It’s probably safe (but I can’t prove it) to say it’s the world’s only collection of anatomically correct fabric brain art. “As featured in Science and Knitting Help“.

This is just too exquisitely wonderful for words. Science and Knitting Help. Juxtapositions don’t get much better than that.

There’s a knitted brain, ffs. With a zip. At the corpus collosum. (So it says on this site which has more information about the artwork in question and an accompanying animation and poster. I would have just said that the hemispheres can be zipped together.)

Apparently Karen Norburg “began knitting a brain to kill time when she was undergoing clinical training in child psychiatry”. She’s also a Medical Research Fellow, when she’s not knitting. “Building a brain with yarn and knitting needles turns out to follow many of the same pathways as actual brain development,” she says.

That is so many kinds of holy wow I’ve actually lost count.

The original link is from the ever-gorgeous Mind Hacks. I’m really profoundly pissed off to be unavailable to be a participant in Mr Mind Hacks (aka Vaughan)’s research. The dates for volunteers to do their stuff are exactly those of my long-anticipated photo-etching course. To think, I might have been in with the chance of a brain scan all of my very own. Dammit dammit dammit!

"This is the world's largest collection of anatomically correct fabric brain art"

So goes the opening line of at the web site of The Museum of Fabric Brain Art. It’s probably safe (but I can’t prove it) to say it’s the world’s only collection of anatomically correct fabric brain art. “As featured in Science and Knitting Help“.

This is just too exquisitely wonderful for words. Science and Knitting Help. Juxtapositions don’t get much better than that.

There’s a knitted brain, ffs. With a zip. At the corpus collosum. (So it says on this site which has more information about the artwork in question and an accompanying animation and poster. I would have just said that the hemispheres can be zipped together.)

Apparently Karen Norburg “began knitting a brain to kill time when she was undergoing clinical training in child psychiatry”. She’s also a Medical Research Fellow, when she’s not knitting. “Building a brain with yarn and knitting needles turns out to follow many of the same pathways as actual brain development,” she says.

That is so many kinds of holy wow I’ve actually lost count.

The original link is from the ever-gorgeous Mind Hacks. I’m really profoundly pissed off to be unavailable to be a participant in Mr Mind Hacks (aka Vaughan)’s research. The dates for volunteers to do their stuff are exactly those of my long-anticipated photo-etching course. To think, I might have been in with the chance of a brain scan all of my very own. Dammit dammit dammit!