30 December, 2012

Beautifully BASIC

I don't do a lot of book reading so no surprise that I read even fewer book reviews. Yet strangely, doing just that sent me headlong down an interesting path a few weeks ago. Testing out my new tablet (a Christmas gift I've defiantly been using since the end of November) I came across Slate's book review for 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10. It set off a chain reaction.

First, I fell in love with the pattern output from this simple line of BASIC code. Look, it's gorgeous!

Then I felt compelled to read the book, right away. The entire text is available online for free so I got right to it (I purchased a copy too since the royalties support PLAYPOWER). About 30 pages in I realized I wanted to chart and knit the pattern. I can't remember the last time I felt so driven to do something; it was very exciting. I'll spare you all the tedious details of that excitement and jump to the first installment of the charts, a 12-page PDF version of the screenshot below (taken from my computer running the lovely Hoxs64 C64 emulator):

I left off the border and the line below the cursor but I'm confident you could figure out how to add either if you were so inclined. So without further ado I give you:
10 Print Charts version 1.1
Creative Commons License


Keep the love going...

I'll be updating this page with additional charts in spreadsheet (.ods) and .pdf formats. These are also listed in Ravelry here.

You can find me on Flickr as gab-fab. If you make anything from these, take some pictures and tag them "10 print" so I can find them. I'm planning on setting up a group as soon as I upload pictures of my current needlepoint project so leave a comment with your Flickr ID if you want me to invite you to the group.

Nerds unite!

21 November, 2012

Giving thanks and sharing the love

One of my favorite projects ever was the Liberty throw I made for my sister-in-law's grandparents. So I was pretty excited when someone from WEBS contacted me to see if they could include the project in one of their Valley Yarns on Ravelry posts (of course!). I kept a look out but never saw it and thought maybe they changed their minds about including mine. Lo & behold when trying to find something to do with all this Stockbridge I have in my stash, I came across this - mine's lucky #3!

Seems an appropriate season for me to give you the back story.

My first trip to Poland was in Fall 2008 just after my brother got married. The three of us went together to visit extended family that wasn't able to get to the states for the ceremony. We stayed a week in the city on our own in the grandparents' apartment and then a week in the country with them at their summer cottage. They were lovely. Especially Babcia (that's Polish for grandmother). She cooked around the clock for us and walked with us for hours in the forest each day teaching us which mushrooms were good.

I fell in love with Poland and with Babcia. When I got home I kept remembering all the good food I ate and how much fun I had mushrooming. For weeks I'd see mushrooms on the forest floor whenever I closed my eyes - really! I knew I needed to go back and I wanted to be able to bring something special with me for my hosts. Knitting was a given and I had wanted to make Liberty every since I bought Mason-Dixon Knitting so I had the pattern set. I decided on red and white to match the cottage decor and as a nod to Poland's colors. All systems go!

My first steek (don't fear the steek!), my first two-handed, stranded colorwork (so fun!) and my first thing so big I needed to soak it in the bathtub. The only real problem I had was packing everything in a single, carry-on bag (another success!) when we visited again the following year. After months of excitedly waiting to present it to them, I couldn't have been happier about how it was received

It's Thanksgiving Eve here and I'm once again reminded of my thankfulness for family. But more than that, I'm thankful for the extensible nature of family and the underlying love and graciousness that make people with whom I share no genetic ties feel as though I do. I'm also thankful for each (both?) of you; a very happy Thanksgiving to you, one and all!!

23 August, 2012

Diagonal Box Stitch

I've been wanting to tell the world about this stitch for a while now but I was waiting until I finished the throw. Well I've waited long enough (I'm very impatient) so lucky you, a post now and a post when I actually finish the thing.

on and on

It all started when I saw a picture of a blanket with a mesmerizing texture. I loved it but the pattern wasn't available and there was no mention of the stitch. What followed was a TON of fruitless googling. As a former (professional) researcher I don't take it too well when I can't find something. Ego bruised, I decided it didn't matter, I could figure it out myself and so I did. Off I went, devised my own version of the stitch and posted a picture on Flickr of my early progress. At which point the lovely and talented Oiyi put an end to the mystery: Diagonal Box Stitch. (Interwebs FTW!).

sock scrap throw

So rather than torturing you all with my haphazard directions, I can point you to this handy tutorial from Crochet Cabana. Interested in exactly what I did? Read on.

26 July, 2012

Getting spotty

I've been going through a second adolescence lately. Funny since I'm now in that "mid-life" range but whatever, we each have our own pace. So here I am on top of the hill, figuring out what I like, what I'm good at, what's good for me and trying against my very nature to cultivate enough order to support becoming the person I want to be when I grow up. I'm super fortunate to have a lot of time at my disposal for this purpose so I figured it was only right that I find some ways of giving back. Lucky you; queue the music!

After gentle prodding from a highly esteemed friend, I installed Spotify. And while I have major issues with the catalog (where's the Polish hip hop? Why isn't Huggy Bear licensed for the US?) I do enjoy combining new (to me) stuff to with old favorites to make soundtracks for my dailies. Assuming I have a lot more time than you for this digging and sorting, I figured I could share a few playlists with you. Who knows, maybe you'll like some of what I like and maybe you'll find something new to you too?

Let's kick things off with a little hodge-podge that, much like my present creative endeavors, may or may not end up suiting anyone else's tastes. But that's really not the point, so...

10 May, 2012

Mad fun deux

Without further ado, the results from our first try:

So let's keep it going. Next up:

Need help with those grammar terms? Try this.

Now make nice & give us some words in the comments.

Mad fun!

Like Mad Libs? Wanna do one with me? Cool, here's the plan: below are the words I need for the first one. Check it out & post a comment with some words. Don't be a hog, save some for others.

What? Oh, good point, you may well be the only one reading this. In that case, check back & give me some more words if no one else is playing. God, I hope I'm not talking to myself again...

Been a while since you watched Schoolhouse Rock? Need a refresher on parts of speech?

Noun - person, place, thing (for Mad Libs, thing works best here, honest)
Adjective - describes a noun
Verb - action word
Adverb - describes an adjective or verb usually ends in "ly"

Once I have all the words I'll fill in the blanks and post a picture. Thanks for playing! 
[ETA link to completed work]

09 February, 2012

Fab find: WKCR and Phil Schaap

Like Jazz? Me too. And I'm lucky to live within broadcast range of WBGO, Jazz 88 out of Newark. They're great (really) but the station that has me most excited about Jazz is one that only has limited Jazz offerings, but boy are they good! Columbia University's WKCR comes in alright in the kitchen but now that I've found their online stream (MP3 or RA) I can listen anywhere. Which means I don't have to chain myself to the stove to hear Phil Schaap.

Schaap hosts a few of WKCR's Jazz shows and I'm partial to Bird Flight where he waxes on (and on) about Charlie Parker between a chronology of tracks. I understand how some folks might want more music and less talk but what a gift to get to listen to the pieces within their context. It's like sitting in on lectures from a top Jazz historian, for free!

Phil also gets props for his tireless efforts to get Roy Eldridge recognized as a key and overlooked hero of Black History. In honor of Eldridge this Black History Month, you'll get to hear lots of him on Schaap's shows like Traditions in Swing (Saturdays from 6-9 pm). I was lucky enough to catch Eldridge's birthday celebration on 30 January and learned a lot about him during the 24 hours dedicated to his music. He started playing when bands were still segregated so recordings like this gem Schaap played (and I found on YouTube!) caused quite a stir in their day.

Cracking stuff that highlights another nice thing about WKCR, the birthday programming. Head's up, there's a trio of crowd pleasers coming in April: Holiday, Mingus and Ellington!

Lastly, I love Schaap's funny (Baltimoran?) pronunciation of words like on. Reminds me of my girl Beth, whose voice I miss. Check him out, let me know what you think.

PS. WBGO streams online too: http://www.wbgo.org/internal/mediaplayer/?type=stream

08 February, 2012

Stash busting meets fundraising!

As you likely know, there was a lot of commotion on the interwebs lately around the Susan G. Komen foundation's decision (later reversed) to stop funding Planned Parenthood's cancer screening services. My favorite thing I read at that time was BeckyinVT's thoughtful response. Even better, her subsequent scarf drive post calling for quality hand-knit (or crochet) scarves to benefit the High Risk Breast Program of Vermont.

So yesterday I cast on the first of what I hope to be several scarves that I can complete by Becky's start of May deadline. My Kureyon stash should disappear quickly with this one and I'm happy to be able to help a worthy cause while I make some much-needed room on my shelves.

I'm very excited about participating in and promoting this effort and I hope you join me. The HRBP website reports that last season's donated scarf sales accounted for $3600 of funds raised for the program. It would be cool to see how much we can add to those numbers by hitting the interwebs. Also, I love Vermont. And, truth be told, breasts.

Visit http://beckyinvt.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/scarves-for-cancer-research/ for details on the scarf drive. Thanks! Don't knit or crochet? Why not!? Never too late to learn, but you can still help HRBP by using the donate button in the right column of their website at http://hrbp.vermontcancer.org/.

17 January, 2012

No recess

As I work on cultivating some quilting skills, I've started practicing free-motion quilting. And kinda like in the great song from that famous band's better, first album, it's like I'm in school again. But not high school, more like kindergarten. Trying to develop a steady, graceful hand for directing even my tiny test sandwiches has been humbling. Kinda like when a few weeks ago I thought it would be good to practice writing with my left hand in case I ever lost the use of my right one, I was surprised at just how bad the results were.

To make matters worse, the machine was making a different noise than I was used to and it didn't sound right. I checked everything that made sense to me to check. Then I checked the manual. Noisy machine indicates trapped thread in hook thing or lint build up in bobbin thing. So I removed the plate and found this:

And I thought I was doing a good job keeping her clean!

16 January, 2012

Fab find: Acupressure mats!

I'm the proud new owner of an acupressure mat and I love it. We've been together for nearly a week now and these are my first impressions (ha!).

But seriously, if you've thought about getting one, go for it! There are a bunch of reviews out there that talk about the benefits of acupressure and how it can be both relaxing and rejuvenating. I'll skip repeating all that and tell you that it's really not that uncomfortable. In fact, I fell asleep on my mat the other night.

What surprised me the most is just how deeply I've been able to relax on this thing. Laying on it on my back and meditating I was able to relax as deeply as I only have in 90 minute+ massages or during shirodhara. Heaven.

The points do take getting used to and I'd recommend wearing a T-shirt on your first go. But don't be afraid, you can barely feel them at all through denim. Also, ease on and off, don't slide or you'll be sorry. Then, once you're used to how it feels, try it bare-skinned for more intense results. (Okay, I can't handle standing barefooted on it. Not yet.) In short, if you regularly have tension in your body and don't have the time or money for frequent bodywork, an acupressure mat may be for you. 

06 January, 2012

Fab flix: Double Dare

Dunno who of you have Netflix but my queue is unusually large (Has anyone else discovered that there's a 500-title limit? Just me?) so I thought I'd share some recommendations with you. This may be particularly helpful to those who, like myself, only have the streaming subscription and are annoyed by the limited subset of the full catalog. Allow me to do some digging for you!

I'm not going for legit reviews here. I'd never get the posts written. So without further ado, my first recommendation is that you check out Double Dare, a gem of a documentary about kick-ass stunt women Jeannie Epper (below) and Zoë Bell.

If you check it out, let me know what you think.

TV dinner!

Not really, but when I was trying to figure out the best way to heat up Wednesday night's leftovers for last night's dinner I had a stroke of brilliance:

Okay, maybe I'm a little generous on what counts for brilliance around here only I couldn't help but get excited over these arrangements. I even made place for the desert: banana cake I invented earlier in the week.

This was also a particularly satisfying meal (despite my having overcooked the brussel sprouts) and one that Mr Fab gave high marks. Meatloaf (recipe below) with mashed potatoes, kasha, roasted brussel sprouts and semolina banana cake. I was planning on making some mushroom gravy but I forgot. Both nights!

05 January, 2012

Time management

Oh sweet interwebs, I do love you so but, um, I think we're maybe seeing too much of each other and, well, I need some space.

During the super-productive time I enjoyed last fall, I tried something new; I used a timer to keep me mindful of my time spent sitting at the computer. I wish I didn't need this kind of help, but I do. I've spent entire days surfing the web without realizing it. That shocking realization when Mr Fab comes home from work and I haven't gotten dressed, made the bed or eaten or anything. One or two days like that isn't the end of the world but, well, I've had a few more of them than that...