Sunday, August 24, 2008

Unholy Hybrid

Pictures as promised–but this may take some ‘splaining.

See, in the beginning was a writer named Howard Phillips Lovecraft (genuflects). And he wrote short stories that quickly became a shared universe among a number of pulp writers. In a nutshell, these stories were about a universe that was not just indifferent, it was inimical. The BEST one could hope for was that the gods took absolutely no notice of you whatsoever and just squished you like the insignificant insect you were.

Because, see, the gods running the universe were both awesome and terrible. Utterly inhuman and unknowable. Evil can be bargained with, because evil wants something you have. Evil covets, and by offering it a way to acquire what it covets, you have some handle on the situation. These gods . . . don’t really want anything you have. They have their own motivations and desires. You just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Go here for more (if you

And as so many projects do, it took on its own form of life. Fans of the fiction began writing their own. The internet spawned (you should forgive the term) an unholy hybrid of lolcats and the Mythos, resulting in LOLthulhu–recaptioned pictures from the Mythos. Ur sanity–it has a flavr.

So–wayyy wayyy back when (can it really have been about a decade ago?? I think it was . . .) A bunch of us were having dinner when we got into a discussion of Codpieces of Cthlhu. I think it was when I said something about St. Cyr sounded like a Lovecraftian high priestess and sufficient persons at the table were into Rocky Horror that the theme, well, caught fire.

We rattled off a ton of names for them, mostly alliterative–the Cuddly Codpiece of Cthulhu, the Carniverous Codpiece of Cthulhu, the Concupicent Codpiece of Cthulhu. And the Elvis Codpiece of Cthulhu. There may be pictures floating around fandom somewhere of the Codpieces and the party to which they were worn, but this was long before I had a digital camera. Or a blog, for that matter.

This year, the theme for the August Party is “Atlantis Goes to Hell.” DH Gareth asked me to make him a Codpiece of Cthulhu to wear because that would be appropriate and comfortable to wear while manning the grill in August in Arizona. Because it is both hot and humid. (Yes, yes, Floridians laugh at the notion of “humid” in Arizona, and say they can handle it. Earlier this summer, a dozen Floridian touristas had to be rescued off Camelback Mountain while hiking, due to dehydration. They only had 30 bottle of water with them, but honey, it’s 110 and 25 percent out there. Three bottles of water ain’t gonna get you up and down Camelback Mountain in the late morning.)

I said sure, figuring it couldn’t be any harder than a doll. I had a codpiece pattern from all those years ago, and the trimming bit should be pretty simple. Of course, my patterning methods leave a lot to be desired–I sort of get some paper, mentally project the three-dimensional piece into the flat, and cut away everything that doesn’t match my vision. Uhm, yeah.

Now that you’ve read this far, a reward! Pictures of the Cetaceous Codpiece of Cthulhu!

Even better than jazz sitar . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Medal-Worthy . . .

. . . but some personal records, nonetheless.

See, last September (September 11, as a matter of fact) I started a new workout routine courtesy of Coach Glassman at Crossfit. I liked the idea of a Hobbsian workout (nasty, brutish, and short) and a Nietzscesque philosophy (uberhuman will and what does not kill you just hurts a bit makes you stronger).

And while I have a project that should make some good photos in the works (codpiece of Cthulhu, anyone?) it's not ready yet. Other than some pattern pieces, most of it's in my head. Which is probably the best place for it, come to think it.

But I didn't want to let this week go by without a note. So, while this is not so impressive next to Cao Lei's 282 pound snatch (get your mind out of that gutter!)I wanted to drop a note regarding my personal record for sit-ups.

Three sets of 15 on an incline board, unbroken.

But heay, I've been working on that since January. That's longer than it takes me to knit a six-foot square lace shawl!

What now? Well, I plan to get where I can do the three sets of fifteen unbroken for a couple of weeks all together, and then . . . crank up the incline another notch and start the process over again. First set at the higher notch until you get a couple weeks of all three unbroken, then two sets at the higher setting, and so on so on so forth.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Citius, Altius, Decubis

Today tastes like endive, licorice basil, fresh tomatoes still warm from the sun, and balsamic vinaigrette with enough garlic. All the very best parts of late summer.

It’s Friday and once again the weekend is rolling up like a 48 hour juggernaut. Tonight, apres gym , I plan to sit in my favorite armchair with something cold and tasty and knit on the current obsession until my fingers fall asleep. Which may not take very long. Yesterday’s workout included 135 pull-ups, so by the time we finished, I had trouble getting my fingers to wrap around the combination lock. My hands still feel a little off.

Saturday means a Project Linus gathering and an opportunity to work on the blanket nearest completion. I have learned that I like the strip blankies a lot better–they’re so much more portable and less ghastly during the dog days. It’s worth the finishing work to sew the seams and add a border post-knit. I have two strips and a bit done in an estonian star stitch, and one strip and a bit in a favorite knit and purl pattern.

Sunday will get poured into the current obsession again. Why no pictures? It’s a black lace shawl, which will be lovely when it’s off the needles and blocked, but right now . . . it’s a forlorn black blob. It started as a little black strip, then became a little black blob, and now it’s a bigger black blob. Not very exciting to look at. (Although Thorax thinks it’s stunning cool in the sun where you can see the blues and greens underlying the black, and is scouting locations for the shoot. I have been telling her that there is no way in hell I am subsidizing a trip to the Manhattan garment district for a blog post.)

After this, I have a couple more shawls that need to be worked up, but my heart is lusting after garments. Real garments. Made to fit a body, not just shapes. Garments with sleeves and closures.

Bizarre, huh?

Maybe not so much. I have cones of rayon chenille I bought back when I was flirting with the idea of knitted suits (before I understood just how much stockinette that would entail). I’ve meant to knit up some twinsets, because that might actually happen. The rayon doesn’t hold heat well, so these would be cozy and nice in the air-conditioning of summer, and just enough in winter. I’m thinking top-down u-neck shells in the round with bust darts and waist shaping and shirt-tail hems paired with cabled v-neck cardis that button up. I have a jacket whose fit I like a lot (length and everything) to mimic for the cardis.

I’m woozy with lust for this one pattern in the fall 2005 Knitty (an online knitting magazine). I love the trees on the front, so of course I want to make copious changes.

I want the trees on the back; I want something more like the Gondor motif in LOTR; and while I want the leaves on the sleeves, I want saddle sleeves that are bracelet/three-quarter length. I’m thinking I’ll have to knit the back from the bottom up, but then I can construct the saddles, sleeves, and fronts from the top down. And rather than do the fronts in a pattern per se, I want to do stochastic cables like Lucy Neatby’s Cables After Whiskey. That’ll be enough texture to make the sweater cohesive without being fussy and over-the-top.

See, the back will be fussy and elaborate, with fancy sleeves, and the front will be interestingly crunchy with nifty buttons and fancy sleeves, so the sweater will look like it all belongs together. It’s all crunchy and textured from any viewpoint. But at the same time, it’s not all complex and ethnic funkified museum-piece work.

But first I’ll need to swatch. I think I’ll swatch random cables, as that should give me a good idea how many stitches I’ll have to play with over the back. I may design trees on the fly up to where the branches go, or steal a tree from another designer.

And I have more ideas for Linus binkies. I want to use some multi-strand knitting and do random cables in a strippie so the colors shift softly while the stitches wander around. I want to take odd balls and do the three-ball trick where you knit one row of color a, purl one row of color b, then knit one row of color c and just keep moving them along. This creates a kind of blend between variegated and its homemade pooling tendencies and “I’m trying to use up every bit of my yarn” stripes. Doing slip-stitch work at the same time makes cheerful peerie type patterns.

So I’ve got startitis again. (Which is a good thing, actually. Earlier this week I didn’t want to knit on the current obsession, I didn’t want to think about knitting, I didn’t want anything to do with sticks and string.1) I just need to get some of these off the needles before I wind myself up into too many things at once.

1. This is how my obsessions usually end–I took down the quilting frame, and haven’t made a top in years. I put down the crochet hook, and aside from knitting-related work, I haven’t made a crocheted item in forever–although the aragumi movement is calling me, a little2. I deco’d for about a year before the fire died.

2. I want to knit or crochet tiny penguin mascots3 for me and Gareth.

3. We were working out one day, and I was frustrated at my utter lack of pullups. I growled, “I’m tired of being weak,” and Gareth misheard me as saying “I’m a tiny penguin.” The Tiny Penguin has become our gym mascot, embodying perseverance and fierceness. Penguin up!

Friday, August 01, 2008


Today tastes amazingly like the coffee at the office. It's thin and burnt and weak. And even the cream that is Friday and the beginning of a weekend doesn't help it.

Where to begin.


Part of being an adherent to the surreal is that synchronicity becomes a mantra. That's one part the protomystical claptrap pushed in The Secret gets right. When things begin coming at you in multiples, pay attention. No, PAY ATTENTION (end flaming flashing rotating 100 point font).

A couple of weeks ago, a mail buddy dropped me a postcard with her best wishes. You know, everything was fine in her world, and hoped that all was well with me. And I thought I should dig up her address and send her a note or a card . . . and that's about where it stopped. She's on my list of Random Mail Stuff To Do Real Soon Now. Because, well, everything lasts forever, right? (hint)

So yesterday, I'm reading a book that is not by a fave author (and no, I don't recommend it, so I'm not putting up the title here, let's just say I was reading it for gleanings on design theory and got an earful of scripture blatted at me, sheeplike. {No issues with scripture or those who read or practice--if you can discuss intelligently, and not just parrot back [squark] 1 Corinthians 17:1 [squark]. Uhm-hmm.} Post rebuttal of this verse to the comments, please.)

So, reading along, I thought about Ms. Chifann Mayhem. We'd been at a party last Friday to say farewell to some mutual buds who were packing up and blowing town, and I shut down shortly after the sun set. (I'm solar powered, which sucks when the sun comes up at 4:30 a.m. and my eyelids pop open with an audible * plink *.) So I boogied without saying goodbye, and felt bad about that, cause Mayhem is big on "hello goodbye I got home safe." (We were both raised in big open states where the cities are surrounded by honkin' great empty spaces. Even in the metro Salt River Valley where you have to work to find dead spaces, we call to say "got home safe" after a party.)

After thinking about her for several minutes, I realized this would do no good at all unless I told her I was thinking of her and wishing her well. And OMG, I actually whipped out my cell phone and texted her a note. Because, well, nothing lasts forever, right? (Hint)

That's a perpetual theme of one of my favorite writers, Parrie Digh. Her blog, 37 Days, was started after her father was diagnosed with cancer, and died 37 days later. Sooner or later, we all come to the last 37 days of our life. What would you want remembered? What would you do if you knew that this was it?

Ms. Digh's been celebrating the countdown to having her first book of essays (Life is a Verb) published. We're on day 34 now, and she's been asking her readers to tell the world what they would do with their last 37 days on this earth. (HINT)

So Mayhem texted me back, and we put together plans to spend some time together tomorrow, having brunch and a matinee. And I'm glad we did, because this morning Mayhem sent me a note that Boromir, Hub's dad, had passed on last night. (HINT!!!)

This wasn't unexpected. Boromir was diagnosed with a wildfire cancer late last year/early this year, and this spring he was moved to hospice care. Hub had flown out to see Boromir last week, and the question was, would Boromir be around by the time the plane landed?

Still and all, dammit. Boromir was one of the few people I chose to have in my life, and made a point of seeing when he was in town. He joined us for Grimm's when he could, and was a welcome guest.

Got it. No more taps on the head needed, thanks.