If you're not knitting, the terrorists win

(My mostly on-topic ramblings about knitting. And life in general. My life in specific.)

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle aged mother of 2 grown children and wife to a man who doesn't seem to mind my almost heroin-like yarn addiction. I spend my time writing, knitting, and generally stressing out.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Gnome's Adventure

"Here I am, walking along the seashore in the moonlight, such is my wont."

"I wonder how far I've traveled? It must be a long way. I'll ask this fellow."

"Hello, handsome stranger. You are not from around here, and yet I feel strangely attracted to you in a non-sexual way."

"As do I to you. I'm not sure why. You look similar enough to me--you know, through the face--that we could be brothers."

"Funny you should say that. I haven't seen my brother in years."

"Now that you mention it, I haven't seen my brother in years."

"Could it be....?"

Pattern is here, by Tonya Gunn. I used Bernat Berella 4 in Geranium and some random white I had laying around. Knitted very quickly and easily on size 5 straight needles.

"Hm. It seems to me that there should be more of us, shouldn't there?"

"Oh, undoubtedly. Mother got around."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Letter From AW

My Dearest Patwoman,

How I have missed you these last few months. Can it be six months already since I beheld your brilliant blue eyes? Can it be so long since we exchanged that titillating, tempestuous, tête-à-tête that has become the hallmark of our long-distance romance?

Ah, Patwoman. The memories of our adventures together--the Helsinki Museum of Art, the full moon shining down on your lithe form as you leaped from rooftop to rooftop--and I followed. Oh! We were so young then! So full of carnal passion!

One day we will meet again, my dearest. Perhaps this summer, even. I will be there, with bat-bells on.

As always, I am your devoted love-slave.



Sweet Adam,

Of course I will be there! How can I resist, when you ask so temptingly? The memories of Helsinki... The mooning on the rooftops... And now you say you will wear the bat-bells again?

Whoo-hoo! I can't wait!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stupid Questions People Ask

Maybe I should say Rude Questions People Ask, instead. Have you noticed that most people these days have no manners? I am always amazed at some of the questions people feel free to ask me.

Like today, someone asked "Your daughter has blonde hair, but you have red hair and your husband has brown hair. Is she adopted?" I just laughed and shook my head.(In case you are wondering, the answer is... M is a natural blonde. T & I were both blonde in our youth. And I am not a natural redhead.)

A few days ago, someone asked me how much I weighed. Not "I think we're about the same size, so what size t-shirt do you wear so I can buy that size from your store." (Which is what she really meant to ask.)

I've been asked if my fingernails are real. They are. That's not offensive, it's just not something I think you should ask someone you don't know. Same with questions about religion or age. I'm not really offended, it just doesn't seem like a particularly good conversation starter.

Likewise, I am not particularly interested in other people's sex lives. I mean, it's one thing if you have a good friend who says "This happened and I'm not sure how I should handle it." But I really don't want to hear "I heard this person slept with that person's boyfriend" or "They don't do it any more" or anything at all to do with others' sexual orientation. I just don't care. And it's none of my business. Or yours.

These are not just young people asking these questions. If it were, I'd blame it on FaceBook for training them to share their most intimate details with everyone and to expect everyone to share theirs with them.

Actually, I think that would make a very interesting study of society, how social media has made no subject too personal. (And, as an example, take my FB friend who shares details about shitting her pants at work, her sex life, and her drunken ramblings.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gnomeo, Gnomeo... Wherefore Art Thou, Gnomeo?

I'm not sure what gnomes have to do with Christmas, but I keep seeing these gnomes by Tonya Gunn all over Ravelry and they are super cute. So I thought I'd make one in red, as a Christmas decoration.

I'm pretty sure Santa employs elves in the manufacture of Christmas toys. And any gamer (or elf or gnome, for that matter) will tell you that they are two totally different people. Pretty sure Santa is not, himself, a gnome, either.

But whatever. Cute, like I said.

Frankly, I'm not used to thinking of gnomes as cute little Christmas joy-bringers. My D& D experiences with gnomes has been more of the "I'm pretty sure this gnome bard is giving us wrong information" and "Where is that damned gnome bard? I could use a buff..." and "Damn! That gnome bard is working for the bad guys!" variety.

I suppose, in real life, I've also seen this kind of gnome--in the garden and on the Travelocity website.

Still. Cute ornament. And I will probably make more. Although I think I will add a face, since it's a little creepy this way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Did I Become Veal?

Seriously. Years of working a desk job have made me soft. Now that I am moving around in my work, I'm getting physically wiped out! Just the simple motion of walking is killing me! I surmise that comes from a shortened Achilles tendon caused by years of wearing heels, but don't quote me on that. They don't let me practice medicine any more. (Not after last time!)

So, much of what I have been doing lately is just trying to lengthen that tendon gradually. So far, I am up the point that it doesn't hurt much during the day. But when I get up in the morning...

Also, my back is just not used to standing and lifting. In my old recruiting job, I only stood to walk to the interview room or the copier or the cafeteria. And I never lifted anything heavier than a resume.

I'm feeling very physically old.

At least my mind has not atrophied. Quite the opposite. Now that I am working for myself, I seem to have some of the old creativity back. I've actually been writing a bit. And remembering stuff. How weird.

Maybe I will remember to exercise?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tarn Rug

It occurs to me that if a person were really in the Earth Day spirit, they would simply craft with items they already had--instead of buying those things new. (At least my composter was made of recycled plastic.) God knows I could probably go years without buying yarn and suffer no noticeable decrease in my stash.

But who wants to do that?

Instead, I decided to craft with things that would normally be thrown away. Like some old t-shirts. This is nothing new. Everyone and the cleaning lady has made tarn and mine is nothing special.

What is special about it is that these were t-shirts of T's that really would've gotten thrown away. The necks were all bacon-y and starting to fray, but the shirt parts were in good shape. I sliced them up and knitted them into this rug. I used grey, blue, and white t-shirts and #17 needles.

I had planned to be further along than this, especially since I'm using these big needles. But, it is a little difficult to work with. Not for the tarn itself, mind you, but because the needles are large and the work is heavy. I'm finding my hands get tired fairly quickly. Still, this is about half done now, so I don't think it will be too much longer. Hang in there, hands!

I plan to put this rug in front of the sink, since that area is getting a little worn. I don't want to show you a picture because, frankly, I just couldn't take your criticism. But, since this is a place that I stand at frequently, I wanted to give this rug a little texture so it would be a little springy.

So it's knitted in basic moss stitch, which looks pretty cool in such a large gauge. And it's striped, just for added interest.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day

That seems like a weird thing to say. But Merry Earth Day and Felicitous Earth Day sound only marginally better than Earth Day Greetings. So we're just going to go with Happy Earth Day.

And it is a happy time. I try to live moderately green--I buy local, grow many of my own vegetables, recycle. My hormones are doing their part to make sure I don't crank the furnace in the winter time. And, if you'll remember, I compost.

I've been filling my composter with coffee grounds, potato peels, corn husks, leaves, egg shells, and all kinds of other vegetable crap for a year now. My plan was to have some nice juicy fresh compost to use in this year's garden. Unfortunately, I learned the lesson of critical mass a little too late.

It seems you have to have enough stuff in your composter to weigh down on itself and create heat. And I don't think I had nearly enough. So, I added some other lawn waste (grass, crunched up twigs, and more leave that I had piled at the base of my tree to protect it in the winter), and hopefully I will still see some compost come out of that bin this summer.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Star Trek Science

One of the great things about owning a game store is that there are so many nerds to talk to. (I mean that as a compliment, being an actual nerd myself.) Often in the past (working in "the world"), when I would read about some incredible breakthrough in robotics or genetic manipulation or communication technology, I would be unable to share my thoughts with my coworkers--"norms" that they are. However, in a game store, you can say things like "it's like that episode of Star Trek" and no one will give you that who-are-you look.

So today, I was showing the Hanson Robotics website to someone and it just launched a whole conversation about things that had once been science fiction that are now science fact.

Like, intelligent, self-aware androids. I am fascinated by that whole idea. Can man actually create a sentient life? What, then, is the relationship between man and machine? How might that relationship evolve? What becomes of the relationship between man and God? Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Seriously. I wonder about something Jules said in one of the youtube videos Hanson Robotics posted. He wonders if he will dream when he is shut down.

Yeah. Yeah. I've read a book. That's a pretty well-known cliche'. And, of course, they purposely scripted that question in, in the video. But I wonder. I wonder if Jules did dream while he was being shipped to England. And what he dreamed. And if he didn't dream, what he felt. And if he didn't feel anything, what he thought when he first powered on again.

I wonder if he would experience the same kind of deja vu that I sometimes get when I find myself in a dream situation I've experience before. I wonder if he would feel the same way I feel when I wake up in the living room after I've been sleepwalking. I wonder if he would have that momentary confusion when he is trying to figure out what is the last thing he remembers doing?

If the goal is to make a self-aware, feeling robot, then I suppose when you can answer these questions, you know you've succeeded.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Love Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards (Again)

Say hello to Pornstache Koala. He's buff. He's angry. And he's rockin' the pornstache like it was cool. He's a real bear.

I imagine the pitch for that movie being something like this:

"Okay, Koala motorcycle cop pulls over a lady koala in a convertible. Oh, officer! I can't get another speeding ticket! My husband will kill me!"


"Koala has been hired by a rich lady to do yardwork while her businessman husband is out of town..."


"Koala is the strongman in a travelling circus. One night he is visited by the owner of the circus, who tells Koala he could have a much larger part in the business..."

Yeah. Something is probably wrong with me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Not Knitting - Crocheted Snowflake

I've wanted to learn to crochet those delicate thread-crochet snowflakes that T's grandma, Oma, used to make. I have two of them that she had given us for our first Christmas tree and I love them. I wish I had more.

I put them out on our Christmas tree every year. About 6 years ago, I had to wash them and re-stiffen them with a commercial stiffener. They had yellowed a bit. But they came through the process nicely, I have to say.

I've never been able to crochet them, myself. Those steel hooks are just way too fine for my fat sausage-fingers to manage. I did knit several a few years back and I plan to knit some more of those. But I would like to try the crochet ornaments again.

My mom could do them. She was good at working with a steel hook. Good at crochet, all around. I don't know if she ever did any of those ornaments, though. I do have a basket that she crocheted and stiffened. Our flower girl actually carried that in our wedding. Beautiful work...

But I digress.

Since all my excursions into thread crochet have ended in frustration, (There may have been swearing and tears, I won't confirm or deny.) I decided to try a simpler snowflake at first. So I dug out a pattern I printed off and put in a folder back in 2005. (I know that because my printer labelled it "July 25, 2005.") A quick Ravelry search shows it is posted there and on Crochet Sal's website.

This was pretty easy to crochet. I definitely think a moderate beginner would be able to do this fairly easily. It uses a good sized hook (4.25 mm) and worsted weight yarn. And the result looks really sharp. I had no trouble determining what it is I'm supposed to be doing, and no trouble doing it. I loved this pattern.

That said, I think I probably should have used the hook called for in the pattern. I didn't have that size (G, American) in my knitting bag, so I used what I had right there, which was an E. I really didn't think there would be too much of a problem since I typically go down 2 sizes with knitting needles.

Apparently, I don't crochet as loose as I knit. So this turned out a little more tightly crocheted than I think it should have been. The lacy pattern isn't so evident and it curls a bit. I will definitely use the proper hook size when I do this again.

I think I will also try doing this with thinner guage yarn and smaller hooks. Maybe I can work my way down to thread crochet? Baby steps, Patwoman. Baby steps.

Also, I am thinking about going up a size or two and using an absorbent cotton yarn and making holiday coasters from this pattern. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Monday, April 16, 2012

And Another Bell

Took a break from my spreadsheets to make one more bell. This one went even faster than the other two. And I just added a simple crochet chain bow to the top for decoration. I might like this one better than the other two. All three of these need to have a jingle bell added. Or not. I haven't decided yet.

These bells really have renewed my interest in making Christmas ornaments. My thought, of course, was to make a set each for R and M so they would have 12 ornaments to start with. I think I'm gonna stick with that goal for now and maybe even try to catch up over the next few weeks.

I don't know how The Year of The Afghans is going to turn out, though. Ugh.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Drop That Scarf!

More quick knitting. This is something I worked on a bit at a time while I waited for Comcast to stop being a little bitch and fix my internet pretty much every day for the last week. (If the equipment in this neighborhood needs so much repair, why don't they just replace it? I swear, if I only had to pay for the time I actually could access internet or cable, my Comcast bill would be about $2 a month.)

This is your basic drop stitch scarf, except I used 4 YOs instead of 1 to give it an exaggerated look. I used Yarn Bee Jewelsong in Night Fire, because I had some in my stash and I've wanted to do something that would show off the interesting texture of this yarn. It's satiny, but also has an eyelashy edge so it really looks boho.

Jewelsong is discontinued, but you could use any bulky weight ribbon yarn you wanted.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another Bell

After all my talk about not finishing anything, I knit another Christmas Bell. I don't consider this contradictory. In fact, I think the only things I'm finishing these days are the things I can knit in one sitting.

If you need a good one sitting pattern, try it. I knit this very quickly. Honestly, the curly embellishment took me longer to crochet than the whole bell took to knit.

That curly ribbon, btw, is probably something a person used to crocheting could do in a few minutes. I made a chain and then SC twice in each chain and bound off.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Is Always A UFO Day For Me, Isn't It?

It seems that way, at least. I've made absolutely no progress on the afghans this week month. I guess I've knitted, but I've knitted little things--like the purse or the Christmas Bell.

When I left my daytime job to work full-time with the store, I kind of thought I might have a little more time to do things like knit and write. So far, that has not been the case. We are working on some major projects right now and it's taking up pretty much all of our time.

On the other hand, it confirms my decision to leave off "working for the man" and devote my energy to working for our own store. Sure, I'm working more hours, but I'm not playing anybody's office politics game. And I'm not limited by anything.

Now you know I believe in following the rules. That's why they're there, right? But, I have to say, when you are the one making the rules for your own self, you become about a million times more creative and energetic. It just makes sense--you no longer have to worry about what others think (corporate, your new boss--who doesn't even understand her own job right now, but is perfectly willing to micromanage you--or your marketing department). You are corporate. You are your own boss. You are the marketing department. It's awesome.

Power to the people, baby.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Christmas Ornament

Here is the latest Christmas Ornament I have completed. I got a little behind schedule on making those, too. If you remember, I had planned to do three each month. (Which worked really well for January, but not so much after that.) This little bell is by Debbie McGrath. The pattern is super quick, super easy, and pretty satisfying to do. There is literally no shaping on this bell. The bell shapes itself because of the difference in stockingette stitch and garter stitch for the body and then when you close the top it rounds off.

Very nice knit. Very customizable. Sportweight yarn will give you smaller bells, worsted will give you larger. I used Caron Christmas Glitter in Green and #5 needles and got a bell that is about 3" tall.

The bell is knitted flat and I originally seamed this up with mattress stitch (my preferred method), but that left me with a pretty noticeable "valley" in between garter rows. So I picked out the mattress stitch down to the stockingette part (which looks good) and then whip stitched the seam from the right side. That gave me what looks to be another garter row. Much better, I think.

I mentioned there was no shaping on this, as far as increasing or decreasing goes, right? The top is rounded off the same way you round off a simple hat--draw the yarn through the top and cinch it. The pattern calls for you to bind off and then seam and draw up the top, but I think if I did this one again, I would draw the yarn through the working loops at the top and then seam the back with that tail, just like a simple hat.

Binding off gives you kind of a lumpy top, if you're not careful. Needless to say, I had a lumpy top. (Sigh. If I had a nickel for every time someone said that to me...) So I hid it with a little embellishment.

My bow is a 4-stitch stockingette ribbon knit on the same needles. This is some kind of variegated Christmas yarn someone gave me a while back. I attached it, along with 4 red faceted beads because tying that ribbon into an actual knot would have been huge, so I just faked it. The beads are there to hide the fakery.

Ah, Patwoman. You are so clever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not Knitting - Borg Jewelry

Have you ever seen those people who run a finger around the inside of their bracelet while they talk, stretching it out, maybe twisting it, maybe letting it snap back on their wrist? Yeah? Well I used to do that. Here's what broke me of that habit: I broke my favorite bracelet.

Sucks, but that's what you get, right? What I didn't deserve was to break my beautiful beaded keychain a few weeks later. Anyway, I gathered up as many of the beads from these things as I could find and put them away, thinking that I would soon repair both of them. But you know life gets when you try to have a little extra time...

Honestly, it's been so long that I don't even remember what this bracelet looked like before it broke. So it's not like I could put it back the way it was--even if I had all the beads. Same thing with my keychain. So I decided these two items would take a page from the Borg Handbook and assimilate each other.

I made the big blue bead from the keychain the focal point of this bracelet, framed by a couple of gold filigree balls that I had leftover from another project. Then I strung the rest of the beads from the bracelet and keychain--some blue and gold cloisonne beads, some small gold filigree balls, and some tiny blue seed beads--in pattern on some stretchy cord. (I still like stretchy bracelets. I just don't stretch them out any more.)

I thought that looked awesome. And I still had a couple of cloisonne beads and small gold balls, so I decided to make earrings. But, just those few beads didn't really look right. So I added some gold seed beads to frame the cloisonne and filigree beads. Then I thought "What the hell. I have some blue seed beads right here."

And this is the final product. I love the way this looks. And on a side note--I think I'm finally getting better at beading. There's less swearing involved, at any rate.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Spicy Cat Toys

Talking about catnip made me want to make catnip toys. Plus, my cats have been glaring angrily at me every time I eat a chocolate egg. No, really, cats. Chocolate is not good for you! So I thought I'd better make them a treat, too.

Now, a person more in keeping with the spirit of the season would make egg cat toys or bunny cat toys or at least chick cat toys. But not me. I'm not making sweet cat toys. That would imply sweet cats. And my cats are anything but sweet when they are all hopped up on catnip.

My cats' reaction to catnip will vary from sleepy (Gracie) to manic (Achilles) to "You-talkin'-to-me?" (Gabby). Pretty spicy. Spicy cats get spicy cat toys. Hence, this Catnip Chili Pepper.

This picture to the right, btw, does not depict a leaky catnip chili pepper. It's really more of a testament to why you should not have cats around when you are knitting this. (Unless you enjoy having it batted out of your hands while you are working.)

I've made these before. But I don't think I've ever posted a pattern. So here it is. I will also add a link to the sidebar so you can make your own Catnip Chili Pepper for your own spicy cats.

(for spicy cats)Materials
-About a yard of red yarn, any kind
-About half a yard of green yarn, any kind
-Two #3 double pointed needles
-Pinch of catnip
-Seaming needle (to weave in ends)
-You will also need about 20 cat-free minutes to knit this. (This will be the hard part.)

This project is worked entirely in I-cord. The work is not turned, even on increase or decrease rows. At the end of the row, slide the work back down to the right end of the needle and knit the first stitch again.

To Make
Cast on 2 stitches with red yarn.

Work 3 rows of this 2-stitch I-cord.

Increase row: Knit 1, Knit into the front and back of next stitch, Knit 1. Then slide to the right end of the needle and continue making 3-stitch I-cord for 3 more rows.

Increase row: Knit into the front and back of stitch, Knit 1, Knit into the front and back of next stitch. (5 stitches)

Now work 5-stitch I-cord for 2 rows.

Knit 1, Knit into the front and back of next stitch, Knit 1, Knit into the front and back of next stitch, Knit 1. (7 stitches)

Now work 7-stitch I-cord for 2 rows.

Now stuff this part with catnip. This is the dangerous part. Not because the hole is only about the size of the tip of your little finger, but because once you whip out that catnip, your cat is gonna get really interested in your work.

Cut the red yarn,if you need to, leaving a couple of inches to weave in. (I was at the end of my yarn, so there was no need to battle dpns, cats, and scissors.)

Attach the green yarn. Knit 2 rows of 7-stitch I-cord in green. (Tip: I run the red tail and both parts of the green yarn over the first 4 stitches to lock them in. Then I just tuck the remaining tails into the body of the chili. That's two ends I don't have to weave in. And that's time I'm not holding the thing while my cat is getting impatient, waiting for me to weave in ends.)

Decrease Row: Still working in I-cord, Knit 2 stitches together three times, Knit 1. (This will give you 4 stitches.)

Decrease again in the very next row by knitting 2 together twice. (Now you have 2 stitches.)

Work 3 more rows of 2-stitch I-cord, then bind off.

Weave in the ends. Quickly.Toss it to your cat. Take my word for this. You don't want to hold it in your hand any longer than you have to.

Saturday, April 07, 2012


This unseasonably warm weather has caused my plants to grow wild. My yard (which my neighbor glares at daily--Hey, I cut my grass once a week. That is enough for anybody. So myofb, jackass.), my dandelions, and the wild strawberries in my front yard have all gone crazy. All my flowering bushes have flowered already, too. And my catnip is rampant.

Listen, I planted catnip from seed about 7 years ago. I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have some fresh catnip for my furry friends?" And it really seemed like a good idea. I planted one small planter, thinking I would dry it at the end of the summer and maybe save some of the seeds to replant the next spring. Ha!

Here's what I now know about catnip:

1. Catnip, like spearmint (which it is apparently related to) will take over the place. I started with one small container. Then catnip declared Manifest Destiny and spread itself into all the other containers. And the garden proper. And the actual yard. And the cracks in my patio, if I don't stay right on top of that. I should have realized this would happen, since I had a previous, similar experience with spearmint. I'm thinking this may be the South's answer to Kudzu. Just plant some catnip and it will shank kudzu in the ass. Catnip will be like, "The South is ours now, kudzu. Beat it!"

2. Racoons love catnip as much (or more) than cats do. I'm gonna let you picture drunken racoons in your own imagination for a second. Got that image? Yeah. I didn't know it affected them the same way. Apparently it does. Or else the suburban racoons in my neighborhood just like to make weird chittery noises and tear planters up for no reason.

3. I don't need to collect the seeds to replant. It comes back by itself. I can save some for you, if you like.

4. Catnip, when dried and crumbled, looks a lot like Oregano. Or Basil. Or Parsley. Or pot. I make sure to label the containers very well, just in case my mother-in-law were to open the top kitchen cabinet for some reason.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday UFO: Felted!

Here is M's clutch purse, finally knitted, seamed, and felted. I crocheted a loop for a button closure and some SC trim along the flap.

This yarn, Stitch Nation Full O' Sheep, felted beautifully. And so quickly! I was like, "Now, I'm just gonna put this in the washer and check in a few minutes," and by the time I finished saying that, the purse was felted.

I was pleased to see that the texture of the moss stitch still showed up, even after the felting. It also kept its color really well. You know how sometimes when you felt something, it's a paler version of what it was before? Well, not so with this. This color is Meadow. Very nice.

Now, I have to decide what type of closure to do...

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I Love Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards

Wednesdays are one of our Yu-Gi-Oh! nights at the store. We have a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! players, and a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. I spend a lot of time on Wednesdays, sorting and pricing cards. And I have come to the conclusion that I love the humor in Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

Like this one I found last night:
How do you suppose something like that happens in nature? I'm picturing something like this:

Lion: Hey, alligator. How you doin'?

There are others I like, too. But this... this I love:

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Not Knitting (But Knitting Related)

Wednesday is traditionally my swearing bead night, but since I've made my career change, I am working in the store on Wednesday nights. So I'll have to find another day for that, I suppose.

I did want to show you this:

It's my Magic Yarn Ball. I know, that phrase has taken on a different meaning these days, to encompass something more planned and artistic. But I've been calling it a Magic Yarn Ball for a couple of years now, so I'm not gonna stop.

I hadn't shown it to you in a while, so I wanted you to see how much it's grown. Also, it fits right in with April being Earth Day Month. It's kind of a recycling project, isn't it?

This yarn ball represents all the leftover leftovers from my projects. (Leftover skeins become scarves, hats, afghan blocks, or other one-skein projects. Leftovers that have a lot of yardage become mitered stripe blocks for another long-term afghan project. Smaller amounts become toys or intarsia. And whatever is left goes on the Magic Yarn Ball.)

Eventually, I'll add a base color to this and knit a big, multicolored, multi-textured afghan out of the whole thing. It will either be beautiful, or completely shiteous. That remains to be seen.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Uncanny Valley

This is an interesting concept: The Uncanny Valley. Basically, the idea is that, as robots become more and more human, we become more and more accepting of them. That is, until we reach a point. Then, the robot is so human-like that we start to be repulsed by them. And the more human they become, the further down in that Uncanny Valley we go.

Take a look at Hanson Robotics. They are just one company creating these very human-like robots. The Hanson robots make conversation and have facial expressions that are very human.

Especially Jules. Go to Youtube and watch Jules as he talks to the Hanson folks. Of course, the Hanson folks are working from a script (sorry, Dave, you're a monumentally bad actor) but I believe Jules is responding naturally--as an AI program would respond.

Now, some would say that's the point. He's not feeling those emotions, he is acting according to a program. But I say, isn't that what feeling is? Don't our emotions come from our internal programming? So maybe Jules isn't feeling emotion the way we feel emotion, but there is something there--he takes in the information and responds to it according to what he has learned. Just like humans do.

Maybe that's where the Uncanny Valley is? Maybe it has nothing to do with the type of skin or the movement of the face, but everything to do with whether or not a robot has our emotions?

I don't find Jules creepy at all. I think he has a very open and friendly face. He was, in fact, designed to be statistically perfectly androgynous. I wouldn't have a problem having a conversation with Jules at all. (Except that he keeps looking at the camera instead of making eye contact with the people he's talking to. But, speaking from my experiences making films, that's pretty common with humans, too.)

I was surprised to see how affordable some of these robots on the Hanson site were. The Robokind robots are priced less than a car! Why isn't there a HUGE market for these?

Not that I am a proponent of robot slavery. Let me be clear. I don't even agree with using them for psychological research (which is apparently one of the things they are being marketed for). I shudder at the thought of these poor robots being programmed with depression or phobias just so they can be studied.

But wouldn't it be great to have a couple of Jules-like models in each nursing home? Some of those people would do so much better and--even though I'm not a doctor, it just seems to make sense to me--might live longer if they were a little more mentally stimulated. Think of it--Jules would see someone sitting by themselves, looking sad, and he could go sit next to them and engage them in conversation. He would remember things they told him previously, and he could give them very patient attention. And I have to think that Jules would feel fulfilled, from helping others.

One of the YouTube videos shows Jules listening to Dave talk about not spending much time at home. Jules advises Dave to get his wife some flowers and tell her he loves her. Jules tells Dave "Everything will be okay."

Think about that. That answer could have come from one of Dave's human friends.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Celtic Heart Necklace

I wish I'd remembered this pattern for St. Patrick's Day. It's from Maddy Craft. (Sign up for their free newsletter.) I actually bookmarked this a while back and just came across it again.

I love this. It's just a long i-cord and some clever knotting. I used Bernat Cool Crochet in Chocolate, which is discontinued, but I don't see why you wouldn't be able to use any sport or sock yarn. I have some Lion Brand Microspun that I may use to make another one.

I made a necklace that hit right about the collarbone and it took very little yarn at all. You could make yours as long as you like. Just knit longer i-cord.

I had to make a couple of attempts on the knot--not because the pattern had any problems, but because I was being something of a perfectionist and wanted the knot centered perfectly on the necklace. You can futz with this knot a little and move it slightly, but I just re-knotted. I'm knotty that way. (Don't act so disgusted. You knew that joke would be coming at some point in this post.)

I finished the necklace with a crocheted loop on one end and a simple button on the other. And I put a couple of tiny stitches with matching thread on the back side, right at the top of the knot, so the knot wouldn't tighten or loosen with wear.

This went really fast. I probably could have done another one if I hadn't been so intently watching The Duel. (I love that movie!)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

April Fool's Day

April Fool's Day usually passes without incident here in the Patwoman household. It's not that we don't love a good prank--oh, we do, trust me. It's just that everyone expects to be pranked on April 1st. It kind of takes the fun out of it.

I have been pranked pretty spectacularly over the years, mostly by T. Listen, T can play the kind of jokes that take weeks or even years to come to fruition. The patience of a spider, that man.

When we were dating, mumble-mumble years ago, we drove by an earth-sheltered building near here. Coming from the small town of Darwin's Waiting Room, Indiana, I had never actually seen an earth-sheltered building. (Though I had read books and magazines, so I wasn't a completely ignorant hick.)"Oh look! An earth-sheltered building!" I cried out in my excitement as we passed.

Oh yes, and not just a regular earth-sheltered building, T explained to me. It was a bomb shelter, from the early 60's. There are a few still around in the area, he told me. But this one, this is still fully functional and could be used now, if needed, not only for nuclear holocaust, but for nerve gas leaks (there is a storage depot for nerve gas less than 50 miles away), biological warfare, or many other emergency contingencies.

Seeing how impressed I was with his knowledge of civil engineering, he went on to inform me of the number of people the shelter could support and for how long, the type of air and water filtration system it used, how the communications array would be deployed in the aftermath of whatever happened, and the cutting edge hydroponics this bomb shelter supported.

Oh, I was so enamored with my super-smart boyfriend and this wealth of knowledge he gifted me with! Until about a year later, when I tried to enlighten a friend of mine... who informed me that the building was actually the county's special education services building. And, it had only been built a few years before (not in the 60's).

When I angrily related this embarrassing conversation to T, he nearly hemorrhaged, he laughed so hard.

There were other pranks, to be sure--the ostrich farm, the haunted gravestone, the disappearing bridge, the tombstone in the middle of the road (which turned out to be true, btw, even though I didn't believe it at the time). He has a way of making the most ridiculous things sound believable.

I have never been able to prank him. I have pranked everyone else I have ever met, but I have never been able to put anything over on T.

Some day, T. Some day.

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