PunkconformityLife, history, and the pursuit of knitting.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recipe: Cayenne Chili

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I promised that if the chili turned out well I'd post the recipe. It's super easy, and really tasty, so here it is:

1 lg can dark Kidney beans
1 lg can chili hot beans
1 can crushed stewed tomatoes (use fire roasted if you want it even hotter)
1 lb ground beef
5-6 tsp. Chili powder
3-4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
Texas Pete to taste

Brown ground beef in large pot with 3 tsp of Chili powder. Pour in contents of all three cans, remainder of Chili powder, and Cayenne pepper. Bring to boil, then reduce to medium heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add Texas Pete to taste and serve with cornbread.

Super easy, and spicy enough to warm you up on even the coldest days. I think next time I'm going to add some black beans and a little bit of hot salsa, too, just to give it a little more solidity.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Moss Grid Handtowels

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I don't complain about my knitting a lot. Partly this is because I love it with the kind of unhealthy passion that makes even the most annoying aspects of the process fun, and partly this is because I'm not enough of a perfectionist to be devastated and annoyed by every mistake. I figure, knitting is a hobby that's supposed to help me relax; if I have to complain about it, it's not doing its job. That said, I'm now going to complain about my knitting.

Christmas knitting is always worse than knitting the rest of the year, because let's be honest, you knit things for your relatives that you would never knit for yourself. I have absolutely no desire for a green, brown, and white dishcloth with tiny v-shaped eyelets, but I know my aunt Teri will love it. Thus, it is possible to be less than enamored of the things that you are knitting as Christmas gifts. But rarely does it happen that you end up working on a project that you loathe.

I have found that project. The "Moss Grid Handtowel" from Mason-Dixon Knitting.

(I'm about 5 pattern repeats farther along now)

It's a beautiful once it's worked up - very classic, delicate, and likely to be useful for a long time. I love the yarn I'm using (Dragon Tale 4/2 Cotton from Earth Guild in Asheville, which works up like a dream). But oh, my Lord, is it ever tedious. It's one of those patterns with just enough variation that you can't quite memorize it all, or work on it while you're doing anything else that requires attention, but not enough variation to be interesting. The kind where someone calling out random numbers at you as you're knitting has the potential to ruin the whole damn thing. It can't be knit in class, it can't be knit while watching House or Bones, or any other show where visual attention is necessary for understanding the plotline. It is mind-numbingly boring, and I've got at least three and a half more of the suckers to go.


Also, I realized this morning that I've completely forgotten the patterns for both my waffle-rib socks and the scallop-afghan I was working on earlier in the summer. The afghan isn't a problem, because I remember what stitch-dictionary I pulled from, but the socks? Oh well. This will teach me to keep better notes.
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Crafty Links

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It was only a matter of time before my mom and her fiber-mania finally got to me. I suppose I should be thrilled I held out the four or five years I lasted, but now things have gotten crazy. In my free time (admittedly slim as it is), I check knitting websites and etsy instead of the music and fiction sites I used to look at. So, here are some of my current favorite crafty-type links.

The AntiCraft. It's Knitty for anarchists! or southern non-conformist psuedo-punks. Whatever. It's still like it was made for me. Skulls, knitting, and spicy food, what more do you want out of a website? I'm currently working on Eternemente, and will probably be making several other projects from the site over the next few months.

Whedoncraft. People inspired by the Joss-verses make stuff and then post about it. You can knit your own Firefly or get a WWBD (What would Buffy do?) shirt. Tell me your life wasn't missing something before this. (don't ask where I found the site, I honestly couldn't tell you how I got there...)

Lime'n'Violet Daily. Their podcasts get super annoying, but their blog has all kinds of nifty knitting-related stuff, like free patterns and Etsy of the week links.


Speaking of Etsy, here are some of my favorite things I've discovered on that site:

Glowworm and Virgen de Guadalupe stitch markers. I'd probably be more inclined to use the damn things if they were all this cute.

Pretty dyed roving. I link to this not because I want to knit with yarn made from it, but because I want to dye my hair those colors very badly.

Fort Awesome Studios. He does really cool interpretations of Nintendo characters, and the word-geek in me loves that he does it on old textbooks.

ShySiren. Jewelry-makers out of Charlotte. If I weren't a broke Grad Student, they would be getting a lot more of my money.

And finally, WoolandWood. It's my mom's etsy, and she's got some Christmas bags up, along with a couple of our stuffed animals.


I have ideas for all this yarn I want to dye, inspired by things like Babylonian mosaics and Straylight Run songs, but dying yarn is teh suck, so for now I'm just keeping notes of my ideas. I'll post pictures if I ever do manage to make it happen.
Sunday, September 7, 2008

"You're not made for this"

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This summer did not go exactly according to plan. It was fine up until the middle of July, when my kidneys all of a sudden decided that they hated me and wanted me to die, but after that point, everything sort of fell apart. I've never experienced anything quite like that before, where you're so wrapped up in the thing that's going wrong inside you that you just can't muster the energy to answer the phone, let alone go out and be friendly. There were times this summer when even answering a text message seemed too much. Having your organs revolt really turns your attention inward. I have a new appreciation for why Jeremy was such an ass for all those months; when you feel like that, you just want to be left alone, for people to understand that you're sick, dammit, you can't handle being social right now. But then I feel guilty, because I recognize how very lucky I am to have the awesome friends I have, and there's only so long people can tolerate that kind of behavior and still remain your friend. But I just wanted to put it out there that it wasn't intentional, and I ignored pretty much everybody equally. I even ended up not going to the Hush Sound/Cab show, which was supposed to be the highlight of my summer, that's how horrible I felt.

I am trying to grow up this semester, in all senses of the word. I'm accepting certain truths, including the one about me deserving better than what I've received from the boys I've dated. I'm cooking dinner every night and balancing my own checkbook . I'm getting all my work done early enough in the week that I can take Sunday off, and I'm not partying every night. I'm exercising (when I'm not feeling nauseous, anyway), and making sure I take my vitamins every morning.

I've also had to come to terms with the fact that my dream of doing something in the music industry has to die. It's time to grow up. I'm twenty-three, not nineteen, and if I'm honest with myself, I was never really going to be that girl. So it's time to be realistic about things, and recognize that when I finish Grad school, I'm going to get a real job and have a real life, and I'm going to be okay with that. Music is always going to be a vital part of my life, but I can't structure my life around it any more. Which is painful to have to admit. I actually thought it would hurt more, to be honest, the day the expiration date came on my childhood dreams. But the truth is, it's okay, because now there's so much more in my life than just those dreams. It's easier knowing that so many of my friends are going through this at the same time and making the same decisions - Cade quit the band, Jon's gone off to work as a sound-guy, Ryan's going back to school. It's the time for quarter-life crises, and we're trying to be thoughtful in our choices. I'm not going to treat this like all the rest of my relationships and cling to it long after it's died; I love music wholeheartedly, but I'm meant for something else.

There's still a tiny, redheaded man in Chicago that owns my heart, though. Every damn time, Patrick gets to me, despite politics, mediocre lyrics, and Pete. Folie a Deux is going to be awesome, and I don't even care what that says about me.

What I'm Listening to: "I'm Actual" by the Format
Monday, August 25, 2008

Dress Diary #1 - Petticoat

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I mentioned before about the fact that Neese and I were going to join a Civil War reenactment group. While I've had some second thoughts about that plan, the costuming bug had already gotten under my skin, so I had to do some kind of sewing. So I decided I'd make my petticoats, because they can be used under my RenFaire costume just as easily as a CW costume, should I never get up the guts to actually start reenacting.

I started with an old set of cream-colored, 100% cotton bedsheets, which I bleached. This not only turned them white and got rid of a few stains, it had the added bonus of making them smell all chlorinated and pretty, like they came fresh from the hotel.

To start, I cut the elastic off the fitted sheet and ripped open the corner seams so it would lay flat. I followed Elizabeth Stewart Clark's pattern, and cut the pieces at 42 inches x 45 inches. I wasn't overly exacting with my measurements, as any slight deviations can be fixed in the hemming process, and it's really hard to make fitted sheets behave perfectly on a cutting board. I only did three panels because I'm not a large girl, and 135 inches of circumference is plenty for me to be hauling around. Anything more and I'd likely look ridiculous.

I straight-seamed the pieces together, leaving a ten inch placket in the back, and then hemmed the bottom of the skirt. This is where the whole "not being exacting with your measurements" thing can come back to bite you, but it ended up not being too bad this time. It has a two and a half inch hem, which may seem like a lot, but helps weigh the petticoat down and makes it flow better. I'm usually not the best at making my hems straight, but this time I took my time, and it turned out really well.

After that, I gathered the waist by hand, which I'd never done before, but which is actually probably easier than doing it by machine. It's kind of daunting when you're working with 135 inches of fabric (it just keeps going and going and going), but it goes surprisingly quickly, and in the end, you really do have a much nicer gather than when you're trying to pull on the machine threads and praying that they don't break. I think I'm going to use that method for gathering all my skirts from now on.

The worst part of the whole experience was attempting to attach the waistband. It took three attempts and involved a lot of cursing and seam ripping. The first attempt ended in tragedy as other portions of the skirt got caught up in the seam, and the second resulted in several locations where the skirt didn't actually get attached to the waistband at all. Obviously, neither of those were what I wanted, so on the third attempt, I took my time and was careful to stop and pull the rest of the skirt out of the way of itself (cotton is really annoying for how much it sticks together). And it worked!

Finally, I used a running stitch to close the waistband, and then made a buttonhole and attached a wooden button. I used period stitches for the buttonhole, and a wooden button, which may or may not be period. It fits very well, and gives me ridiculously wide hips, which is the whole point. Having tried it on with both Rennie costumes, I'm really happy - it'll be functional as an underskirt with my brown "pirate" skirt, but it works even better as a petticoat under my green skirt, as it spreads the waistband out enough that my black corset doesn't look nearly as lumpy around the waist as it has in the past.

The green skirt itself is my next project - it needs some repairs where I've split the seam under the placket because I didn't know about re-enforcing when I was 14. Not to mention that the intervening nine years have had some impact on my waist-size, and the buttons/snaps need to be moved so that I can breathe without popping it open.

What I'm Listening to: "Catch Me If You Can" by Fall Out Boy
Friday, April 4, 2008

Gentleman's Lozenge Sock

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i finished one of the previously mentioned socks in class on Wednesday, much to the entertainment of my classmates, who find my dedication to knitting amusing (yet apparently comforting, as evidenced by how many people notice and complain on those nights when i don't do it). it's the Gentleman's Sock with Lozenge Pattern, from Knitting Vintage Socks, as mentioned before. my version is somewhat short and dumpy, as, due to the concern over yardage, i reduced the pattern repeats in the leg from 7 1/2 to 3 1/2.
but it looks cute:

and i'm happy with it. that's pretty close to actual color, although the browns stand out more irl. here's a detail of the lozenge pattern, which also runs down the top of the foot:

overall, i'm very pleased with it. hopefully, i'll have the pair finished soon and can start on my self-striping pair.