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Friday, January 29, 2010

Sock Monkey Hat

Hey, look...I have a new blog design! Funny how that happens...

Remember how last week I said I was just going to eyeball it on figuring out the mouth on the Sock Monkey hat? Well, thankfully I listened to inner-knitter and went ahead a sketched out my own chart. Unfortunately, it appears that even just considering free-hand design was enough to make the knitting gods decide to spite me and I had just finished the intarsia for the mouth when...half the stitches fell out. I swear. They just came out. I have no idea how or why.

What was left after I ripped back

So, after declaring my eternal loathing for intarsia on Twitter, I ripped back my work, picked up the stitches, and started again. The second time was the charm, and now all I have to deal with is weaving in the ends (ick).

Sock Money Guts

Happy to be done with the difficult part, I packed up my knitting and headed to knitting group. I've made at least a 1/2 dozen hats in my life (probably more, but I don't want to exaggerate) and I like to think I'm a fairly competent, though not  fast, knitter. Besides, I'd just finished making my brother's Christmas hat. Point is, finishing a hat is easy. You just keep knitting in a circle while decreasing stitches.

So, I sat with my group, knitting and chatting, and happily going around and around and decreasing stitches, until I only had a few left. I puller out the yarn needle I'd brought (see...here was my mistake...I was so sure I'd finish that I'd brought a yarn needle) and sewed up the top. I proudly helped up my work to show my group and revealed...the Tin Man Sock Monkey hat.


Sigh. Guess what I'm doing tonight.

P.S. I finished reading Guernsey Potato Peel Pie and Literay Society, and like last time, was disappointed. Not at the ending, but that it ended.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reading...

Tonight, I have decided not to write much because I'm busy reading. I made the mistake yesterday of idly turning a few pages of a book I'd read last summer, and found myself instantly pulled back into the story, and have not been able to put it down since.

The book is "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It is set in post-WWII England, and told entirely in correspondences. I irrevocably recommend it to everyone. The only way I can imagine one disliking this book is if one also dislikes books, well told stories, and people- and I imagine such a person would not be reading anyways.

If you are still reading this post, stop. Go find a copy of the book. Then come back and let me know what you thought.

Happy reading!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Social Media

I never thought I would be involved in social media. Part of that is, of course, because when I was growing up, social media as it is today didn't exist. But the other part is that it never really seemed to be my thing. I resisted Facebook for a year before joining, and even now spend very little time on my own page. And sure, I started a blog when I went to England, but that was more to save me the trouble of sending regular e-mails to everyone in my family.  Yet somewhere, along the way, I ended up not just involved in social media in my personal life, but my professional one too.

My job (the one where I make money, not the one where I tutor) is to blog, tweet and Facebook. Most people quickly close out of Facebook and Twitter when their boss walks by so they look like they're doing work. I do the opposite (joke- and I when I'm at work, I actually NEVER have Facebook or Twitter closed). It makes for an odd sort of reversal that makes it hard to explain to people, even my own co-workers, what it is I do. I spend all day talking to people I can't see about products they can't see, and they in turn talk to me, who they can't see.

So what makes it work? Well, it seems to me that its all in the name, and that its important to remember the word order: social media. The media we use to communicate, be it a blog, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the hundreds other options out there are wonderful, useful things. I can talk to people from all over the world in less than a second. I can press "share" and send a message to 1,600 people. I can create a forum for discussions between like-minded people. All of this is amazing, but all of it is secondary to the first part of the name. The media we use is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. What's truly important is how we use it.

Social media first and foremost is about socializing, about making connections. Many businesses link their Facebook and Twitter accounts, or use tools to automatically reply to posts. And while such features are useful, they overlook the main purpose of social media. If you reach the point where you can no longer personally interact with the people you are communicating with, then its time to cut back, or find a way to further that interaction. Social media needs to be personal. People want to know who they're talking to, and that someone is on the other end actually listening to what they say. Social media without the social is just media. And if thats all you have, then you might as well be running a TV commercial. 

Does it take a lot of work? Of course. And its the kind of work that doesn't just follow you home, it follows you everywhere, on you computer, on your phone, on your iPod. But that's what it takes to interact with people in real time.

Ultimately, as convenient and useful as social media is (and yes, fun too), I believe it cannot nor will not replace genuine face-to-face contact. When people meet face-to-face, when the invisible hand typing at the keyboard reveals itself as an actual flesh and blood human being, that's where real socializing begins. And that's an important thing to keep in mind.

So next time you're watching your newsfeeds, remind yourself to take a break from the computer and go out and socialize. It will be good for you, and good for your business. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Finished Objects

Since Wednesdays was a WIP, I though I'd show you some FO's.

1. Nanna's Tea Cosy.  Pattern: Teapot Cosy by Alexis Layton Designs. Yarn: I'm too lazy to go check the label right now. If you remind me, I'll post it later. (in the second picture, both my grandma's are admiring the tea cosy, which was, I must say, flawless. And really fun to knit.)
















 













To this: 









3. Mimi's Scarf. Again, too lazy right now to find the pattern and the yarn. If you want to know, drop a note in the comments and I'll tell you.











In other news, work continues on the Sock Monkey hat, and I've made one of those decisions that you know you'll regret but make anyways. I've decided that I don't really like any of the patterns I could find, and I don't feel like graphing the design (man, laziness seems to be the theme of this post), so I'm just going eyeball it and do it free hand. How hard can it be, right? (tune back next week for the disaster and tears I've just invited). 

Well, that's it for tonight. Over and out!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WIP (Work in Progress)

I haven't been writing much new material lately, but I have been engaged in that all-important-but-not-so-fun part of writing known as revising, and thought I'd introduce you all to Terra Fabulae, the land my stories are set in. The following is (possibly) the introduction to one of my Terra Fabulae stories.

P.S. Just though it would be worth mentioning that the narrator of the story is *not* based on myself. I actually did base a character on myself, but I'm not telling you which one.

P.P.S. Thought you should also know this isn't the first Terra Fabulae story, its the third. Might make things less confusing.

P.P.P.S. I'm a fan on *constructive* criticism, so if you see something that you think should be changed, feel free to let me know in the comments.

The End
(and a new beginning)
Terra Fabulae
Introduction:


It’s funny what will change your life. A moment, a word, an action. Often, it’s something small. Maybe something you didn’t think twice about and did without really thinking. Not on a whim, but for a reason just out of reach. And these small moments, these words and actions, they can irrevocably and completely change your life before you even notice. As for me, well I opened a window.
            It was just over four years ago, my freshman year in college. It wasn’t an extraordinary evening, just a normal one, sitting in my dorm doing homework. It was a weekend, so my roommate was gone, like she was most weekends. I had decided to stop doing homework for the night and had taken out my notebook to work on a story I’d been thinking of when I heard something tapping on my window.
I looked up from my notebook, and there was a dragon sitting delicately upon my windowsill, and tapping on my window with his tail, which, I later learned, is very good dragon manners.
            And it is here that I made on of those life-changing decisions. I had never seen a dragon before. In truth, I’d always thought they only existed legends. But faced with the reality of a dragon actually sitting on my windowsill – and not just sitting, but knocking- I did the only thing I really could at the time. I opened the window. And the dragon came in.
            His name was Helios, and he told me about a land called Terra Fabulae. It is, I came to understand later, one of just many lands from which stories come. And while very real, it’s real in a different way than America, or my college. Many creatures live in Terra Fabulae. Some are beautiful, like the naiads and dryads. Others are amazing to look at, such as dragons, gryphons, and winged horses. Still others are terrifying monsters, like the Cyclopes. There are, of course, many types of animals, but no humans. Humans left Terra Fabulae a long time ago…but that’s another story.
            However, there is one thing that all the creatures of Terra Fabulae, even the monsters, fear, and that is being forgotten. For Terra Fabulae is, as I have said, one of the story-lands. And the story-lands are real only so long as their stories are told.
            Which is why Helios had landed on my windowsill that evening four years ago. Because the last Storyteller of Terra Fabulae had died, and he had come to seek a new one. And when he asked if I would become the next Storyteller, I made my second life-changing decision for the evening. I said yes. After all, one can hardly say “no” to a dragon.
So this is where this particular story begins. Mind you, this only one of many stories, for I have told the stories of Terra Fabulae for four years now, and others have been telling them long before me. But I’m not telling this story as I told the others, for I am no longer the Storyteller. And while this is a story about Terra Fabulae, it is also my story, for of all the stories of Terra Fabulae, it is only this one I was a part of. Which is why it’s mine and mine alone to tell.
I’ve often said that all good stories begin with “once upon a time”, but that the stories of Terra Fabulae were an exception to the rule, because they were “right-now” stories. Stories happening right now, in a very real place. And while there still right-now stories taking place on Terra Fabulae, this is not one of them. And so I find myself able to begin this story properly. Once upon a time…

Monday, January 18, 2010

Remember

Show of hands...How many of you think of the tsunami that hit Samoa on a regular basis? How about Hurricane Katrina?

Not many, I'm betting. Not to sound cynical, but unless you or someone close to you was directly involved in either of these disasters, you think about them rarly if at all. And such, strange as it may seem now, will evetually be the same with Haiti. The sad fact is that while the media coverage of these events led to huge outpourings of donations and aid, once the media lost interest, so did we.

I hope this is not the case. I hope that the disaster of last week's earthquake will turn into a blessing for Haiti, that the money and supplies and international attention it is getting now will help the nation to rebuild itself better than before.

And with that in mind, I want to encourage you. Yes, give now, but remember to give later. Find a charity that is constantly invovled in helping people when and where they need help, be it Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, or a smaller localized charity. Becuase places like Haiti don't just need aid when disasters stirke- they need constant support to ensure that the people who live there recieve education and have healthy living conditions.

I apologize if this post seems rambling and/or preachy, but this is what has been on my mind today. The incredible support being given to Haiti right now is wonderful, but Haiti needed support long before the earthquake struck, and will need it long after the media loses interest.

Just something to keep in mind.

P.S. I'm sorry if there are any misspelled words. I'm on a computer that doesn't have spell-check tonight.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Knit Signal and a Post


Before I post, I want to direct any knitters reading this to Yarn Harlot's blog where she has sent out the knit signal to raise money for Doctors Without Border via the Knitters Without Borders donations she's set up. The earthquake might have been in Haiti, but it is very close to whom for many people I know, including coworkers, and my students. Not to use my blog as a platform, but I would encourage you to please give to the charity you most feel connected to. The people of Haiti already had so little, and the earthquake has taken even that.


On the needles:

I have three projects going at the moment...well, two and a half. The 1/2 is the second sock for my friend, who has reported that she currently has only one warm foot (I think that was hint to hurry up and finish her other sock).

The other two our hats for my brother and his girlfriend (no, not matching, I'm not that lame). Shhh. Theses projects are secret. I noticed K, my brother's girlfriend, admiring a skein of yarn had left out next to a hat pattern. I wasn't planning to use the two together, they had just happened to be out, but it wasn't too long before K and I started chatting and I was measuring her head. I'm going to make her a slouch hat in garnet coloured yarn (she's a 'Nole like my brother).

As for my brother, anyone who knows him can tell you he loves sock monkeys. So I'm making him a sock monkey hat for his birthday. I'm using a pattern I found on Ravelry (will link later- laptop battery is dying and I left the charger at work) with some suggested modifications from a fellow Ravelry member to make it really look like a sock monkey.

In other fibre related news, I haven't been spinning in a while, but plan to resume my Sunday Spinning.

Well, that is all. Please keep everyone affected by the quake in Haiti in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Writing on Wednesday

Writing on Wednesday is part of my New Year's Challenge to do some creative writing every week.


Amongst Friends

Leftover memories
(and dreams)
Come tumbling down
(unbidden)
The walls so carefully built
To hold them back.

And long forgotten wishes
(perhaps not so forgotten)
Drift to the surface
(wishes float)
of Thought
And make themselves known.

Words once swallowed
(in humility, not pride)
Are spoken aloud
(sometimes shouted)
Without fear,
For here it is safe.

And the tears
(oh, the tears!)
Held back for so long
(oh, how long!)
Now course freely down cheeks,
Here,
Amongst friends.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And...We're Back!

I have Internet again! We were without for almost a week (hence the lack of a blog yesterday), but now that its back, so am I, and I'm resuming my normal blogging schedule. So much has happened since I last posted that the easiest thing to do is make a list.

1. Friends: I met up with my two best friends (and former roommates) in St. Augustine, for three wonderful days of sharing and being together. Then, the day I got back home, my two other best friends, who I met in England came to visit, and we got to hang out, discuss England, and have tea. Friends are wonderful things.

2. Disney Marathon Weekend: This is always a busy time for me and my family, but all went well, and we're all mostly recovered. I worked Runners Relations and ran an Expo scavenger hunt on Twitter, which was lots of fun.

3. Read Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which all my middle school boys love. The premise is that in modern day America the Greek gods are alive well and wreaking havoc as usual. As Classicist, I enjoy catching all the mythological references. As a middle school tutor, I enjoy how Riordan completely captures the middle school mind-set.

4. Finished my grad school apps. I know I already said this, but its such a big thing to me I wanted to say it again. The problem now is that I'm not sure if I'm more afraid of not getting in again, or of what I'll decide if I do get in.

5. Slept. This is what one does after working the Disney Marathon.

Hmmm...I thought this list would be longer when I started it. Oh well. Stay tuned for my first "Writing on Wednesday" tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blogging Break.2

On account of the Internet not working at my house, and 12 hour work days due to the Disney Marathon, I will be taking another blogging break. Regular posts will resume on Monday. In the meantime, you can follow my Disney expo tweets on twitter @TrackShack #expomole

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009

It seems the thing to do right now is to reflect on last year, and while I don't believe in living in the past, I do believe that we can learn from it. So here's my thoughts on 2009, and some of my plans for 2010.

2009 did not go the way I thought it would. This was supposed to be the year I graduated college, started graduate school, and moved out. I suppose 1 out of three is not absolutely horrible, but it is a fact of life that we are often so easily overwhelmed by the negative that we overlook the positive. And, as much as I'd like to say otherwise, I let the negative get the best of me this year.

It's hard when things don't go the way you planned them- especially when the plans were four years in the making. I had a very real sense of uselessness; I had gone to college for 4 years to work towards my goal of graduate school, and suddenly it all seemed pointless. I was living at home and working in field that had nothing to do with my studies. I felt confused, angry, and lost. Oh, it wasn't all bad; I managed to find the good when I could, but it was very, very hard.

All this is to say that I'm not going to miss 2009.

Now, onward to 2010.

This year, I resolve to:
1. Stay positive. I've had it with negative feelings.
2. Live in the moment. All we have is now...its time to live in it and not the future.
3. Keep dreaming and planning, but acknowledge that not everything is in my hands. And that's okay.
4. Continue my training program and complete the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon. And keep running after that.
5. Write more.
And finally, after much debate, I've decided to become what I've always claimed to be and
6. Become a vegetarian (boy, I'm going to miss fish).

Now, for the surprise I said I might have in my last post (I'm assuming at least some of you will like this).  As part of my resolution to write more, I've decided to add a third day to my blog. So, joining Miscellaneous Monday and Fibre Friday is Writing on Wednesday. My Wednesday posts will be bits of fiction, short stories, or poems I've written. My goal is that these will be things I've written during the week, but from time to time I might post some of my older writings.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and I wish you all the best in 2010!