Summer Days

I’m not fond of summer, because it’s too hot.  But today is just wonderful.  I went out onto the catio for a bit, and it’s just breezy enough to offset the warmth.  As a bonus I saw two deer, both with some significant antlers but differing enough in size that I think they must be two different years.  I like to think that they were the fawns we’ve seen in previous years here.

Didn’t have my phone with me at the time so no pictures this time.  I did take one of (probably) the larger-antlered of the two in the back, but it was too hard to make out even for Find the Deer.

Spouse is at a friend’s for barbecue, and I’ve been invited to drop by, but I probably will just enjoy the day with my cats, watching deer and listening to birds.  And maybe napping.

Yesterday I spent the evening at my friend B’s house, with a few other friends and her daughter T.  There was this unusual hors d’oeuvres platter.

hors d'oeuvres chez B 2016-07-03 19.39.16

Various fruit and veggies one might reasonably eat raw, and… tuna.  Also raw.  (I like sushi and probably would have had some if I’d bothered to locate soy sauce, but instead I gobbled all of the watermelon.)  The tuna was apparently left over from T’s snack.  I wasn’t weirded out by this, but I did find it funny.

A few days ago I visited another friend, K, and her five-year-old daughter A.  I got to their house before they did and sat in the front yard knitting, which was actually what I was there to do.  I’ve knit A three sweaters so far, and surprisingly enough the one I made at the end of 2014 still mostly fits now, but the sleeves are a bit short.  I was there to lengthen the sleeves so she could get a little more wear out of it, because to my delight it is a favorite sweater of hers.2016-06-30 16.55.45

I also spun all the yarn myself and made pretty substantial modifications to the sweater pattern (since I don’t have a child immediately handy to measure, I’m more willing to work with other people’s patterns for A’s sweaters), so I am also especially proud of this sweater.  This makes it even better that it’s been worn frequently for a year and a half, which is a really long time for a growing child.  And again it was a perfect day to sit out there between about 5 and 6, with a bit of breeze and a bit of sun, just enough to let me appreciate the sparkle of the yarn (70% blue-face Leicester, 30% nylon sparkle) and keep me pleasantly warm.  Another summer day that’s been more than tolerable.

I took two pictures of K’s hydrangeas.

hydrangea closeup purple 2016-06-30 19.54.54

2016-06-30 19.55.44

I really love hydrangeas for their color changes in response to the soil’s acidity (I think?), but that’s not why I took these.  I was transfixed by the number and shape of petals.

hydrangea closeup 2016-06-30 19.55.44

Four large petals, in at least three sizes.  Yet, the majority of closed-up buds I see show five sections.  Why???  (This is the sort of thing my brain seizes on.  But not enough to actually research it.)  And why are there some small inner sets open (many with five little petals) without larger sets but not all of the larger sets have their small sets open?  I wonder if I’m making some critical terminology error here, petal vs sepal or something.  Maybe I will research it after all.

Sadly, I couldn’t consider hydrangeas for our backyard landscaping because they’re toxic to cats.  Oh well.  Clearly I will have to visit K more often.



Maker Faire

My parents, my spouse, and myself all went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo this past Saturday.  Despite warnings of rain, the day was actually pretty comfortably partly-cloudy, which was a relief since last time I went it was very hot and the exhibition halls were miserable.

I lucked out and found a fiber seller (Woolpops) in the bazaar.  She was spinning on a Ladybug wheel, the same kind I have (but haven’t learned to use yet).  We talked for a bit about spinning and she showed me the less-prepped fibers she had that weren’t on display, though I decided I didn’t feel like picking that much VM out of my fiber.  I got four smallish bits of rovings.

Woolpops fiber 2016-05-22 22.02.14

  1. 1.2oz Navajo churro wool, in med-dark greens (called Sea Glass, but it looks more like malachite to me).  Rather coarse.  I’m not familiar with this wool.
  2. 1.5oz California Variegated Mutant (CVM), in muddy, mossy greens.  I like the texture of this one — fairly soft and springy.  I think I have some other CVM which might blend with it.  Or not.
  3. 1.4oz generic medium wool (feels a bit like maybe Coopworth or Cotswold, which I tend to get mixed up), painted in an ivory-yellow-orange gradient (“Candy Corn”).  Called pencil roving but a bit thicker than I usually think of pencil roving to be.  I’ll likely spin this into one long singles and then ply it with, hm, something.
  4. 0.6oz merino/Cormo cross pencil roving, dyed in muted pinks and brownish grays (“Easter Egg”?).  Really nice and soft.

I’ll likely card all of these except the yellow/orange into batts with a bunch of other fibers.

Later on I found an area where people could learn how to knit and, to my delight, spin.  I didn’t stay there long, but took the time to demonstrate to my longsuffering spouse how bottom-whorl spindles work.  (I don’t actually own any myself, other than the one knocked together for the spinning class I took in 2009.)  If I hadn’t been trying to see everything I would’ve been tempted to just borrow one of the spindles there and start spinning my pencil roving.  But my feet and internal temperature were actually holding up pretty well, so I didn’t need the break.

In another area we found a pair of people with an automated knitting machine.  One of the inventors was pointing out to me the fineness of the color pattern, at higher resolution (his term, where I would’ve said finer-gauge) than most handknitters would achieve — and I pulled out my sock in progress, knit with more stitches to the inch than their samples.  He and his co-inventor were very impressed, which made me happy. 🙂

My parents found some machine knitters elsewhere, from a guild.  I don’t know how I missed them, but that’s all right.  I’m not really that interested in machine knitting.

That’s mainly it for the knitting parts.  Another thing I really enjoyed was the dark hall, where lots of light toys were.  I had a lot of fun twirling a staff with two sets of color-changing LEDs on each end, a la drum major mace.  No one else there (when I was there) could do it as well.  It was still harder than I expected, and I think it was a combination of momentum and the grippiness of the staff, which actually made it hard to let go in time to pass it to the other hand.  I might need one of those to play with out back.  There were also neat conglomerations of lights which turned out to be clear plastic cups stapled together with Christmas lights (or similar LEDs on wires) threaded into them.  A very nice idea.



Fiber Arts in Videogames: Chrono Trigger

I’ll start this series with one that I thought would be very short — it’s just one tile! — but that got longer than I thought it would.  I don’t think most of these will end up this thoughtful.

Chrono Trigger, a very highly-regarded RPG with a time-traveling conceit, has a range of settings, from prehistoric hut to futuristic dome.  Two of the eras in which the plot plays out feature a classic medieval castle, complete with king: the game’s “Middle Ages” (600 AD) and “Present” (1000 AD). The only fiber arts representation I remember offhand from the game is in the form of the rather high number of spinning wheels in this castle[1].  Pretty minimal.  It’s not like anyone in the game spins, or even talks about spinning.  The wheels are just decoration to establish the character of the place, much as the inventor family’s home is full of books and gadgets.  Makes sense, as when you think of things in a castle, you think spinning wheels, right?

Well, maybe you do if your primary association with castles is Sleeping Beauty.  If not, you probably think of suits of armor.  And those are there, as are plain boxes (reasonable, as these are mainly storerooms we’re seeing), battle axes, barrels, and that staple of videogames, chests.  And spinning wheels.  One of these things is not like the others.

Chrono Trigger castle brightened 2016-03-08 23.08.02 (3).jpg

In both eras of the game involving this particular castle, there are ruling kings, but the more important royal character is the queen (in the Middle Ages) or the princess (in the Present, and indeed every other time, as she’s a playable character and arguably the one most central to the plot).   While the castle is full of soldiers and their impedimenta, it’s the female side of the royal family — the distaff side — that matters most to the plot.  And as that term itself illustrates, spinning is, Rumplestiltskin notwithstanding, indelibly marked as something women and girls do.

(A distaff is a companion tool to a spinning wheel, used to hold plant fiber waiting to be spun.  I don’t know how and why it came to be a term for “female.”  But consider “spinster”, a term used only to denote an unmarried woman, even though it has a rather masculine form — compare sempster, which has long fallen into disuse even though its feminine version, seamstress, is still used.)

What the spinning wheels are conveying is, we live here too.  It’s no accident that one of them is in the queen’s/princess’s bedroom.  The game itself misses or subverts many sexist tropes[2], but I’m not sure there were many better choices for suggesting that yes, women live in this here castle too[3], than the spinning wheels. (Actually, that’s the real problem — that there aren’t any other ways to do this — but that’s not the game’s fault.)

Though I have to say, I sure love the mental image of all of those soldiers spinning.

ChronoTrigger1000GuardiaCastle Rainbow Shard room labelled brighter

[0] Screenshots/maps from, though I have brightened both. First one is the queen’s/princess’s bedroom and nearby rooms (the king’s room does not have a spinning wheel in it), last one is the most important treasure chamber in the game.  The character in front of the rainbow shell offers to make a Prism Dress (or 3 Prism Helms) from the shell, so perhaps he uses the spinning wheel for that!

[1] I was troubled by my inability to count these before I realized that I had been flipping back and forth between maps of the Middle Ages version and the Present version, and the Present-day castle has about twice as many rooms.  Most of which look alike.  The high number of wheels is primarily accounted for by the fact that videogames reuse sprites in similar rooms, of course.

[2] This isn’t evident at first. Both the 1000 AD princess and the 600 AD queen (her ancestress) need rescuing initially.  But that’s about the last time that particular trope goes in that direction.  I think every other rescue, and there are quite a few, are of men and usually spearheaded by one or more of the three female party members, including the princess rescuing her own father, the king.

[3] We do see other females in the castle, serving in the kitchen and the infirmary, but I had forgotten that when I started writing this.  I’m not rewriting it now, though.

Helpful Kitties

A recent thread on Ravelry was on how cats have “helped” their people with their fiber arts.  Naturally, I contributed a post, and I may as well post it here too.

My beloved patriarch cat Rufus donated his fur for yarn:

We lost him a year ago, but he bequeathed his final fur to me as well.

My fiber appreciator, Moonstone, likes to knead everything I work with: fiber, yarn, knitting. Here she is doing some appreciating:
Politically Incorrect batt
There were many happy grey purrs emanating from her.

And my lovely CMY, who is also the guardian of my yarn room, occasionally contributes opinions regarding my yarn organization:
Malabrigo Yarn Silky Merino
(They had been all nicely lined up on the table.)

Praline inspected my new spinning wheel:
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Aliquot preferred to check out a spindle:
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And Triquet helped me assess whether I had enough yarn for a project:
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First, second, and third post

I can’t find the link now, but some years ago John Scalzi, whose blog Whatever is one of the very few I read with any regularity, noted that there are likely a great many blogs with the following three posts on them:

  1. First post!  I’m excited to be blogging and will talk about many fascinating things and stuff!
  2. Sorry I haven’t posted anything recently.  I’ve been really busy, but I’m going to be blogging regularly now!
  3. (Months later) Here is a picture of my cat.

As I was just told this past weekend (by my husband), I have the attention span of a goldfish, so it seems best that I do all of these things in the same post.  That way I can at least say that my blog is done.

So. The things I probably will not remember to blog about are cats, knitting, possibly videogames, and misc.  I’m interested in more things than that, but those are the major categories.  (Sorry, Mom/Dad/Sis/Spouse, the only people likely to read this, you go under “misc”.)

I’ve been meaning to do this for several years, so I got the procrastination/being too busy to blog over with already.  Of course, there is an infinite supply of both procrastination and busy, which is why I’m taking care of that second post in the first one.

Here is a sample cat:

CMY with rainbow nebula smaller.jpg

Yeah, that should do it.