I moved my blog!

For Christmas I got my own domain name – http://waterpenny.net/

Go there for a free pattern of mushrooms knitting!

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Wrapping the Beer in an Electric Blanket

It is so cold outside that it is past the level of cold and just dumb. Come on!

One thing that is nice to do on a cold day is to make beer, which Matt and I did this weekend. It involves standing over and stirring bubbly pots in a cheerful warm kitchen for several hours.

However, the next stage involves keeping the yeasties from freezing to death and/or over-heating for a week or more while they sit in a bucket and eat up all the sugars to make alcohol.  While I won’t disclose what temperature we are keeping the house at, I will say it is 35 degrees more than the current temperature outside, and doesn’t that sound luxuriously toasty?

However, the yeasties are fussier than we are. This summer when it was over 100 degrees in the apartment, they were working so fast that we brewed and bottled a beer in 3 days, instead of the normal week, holy cow!  However, in the cold weather, much like humans, they get very lethargic and don’t want to do their job.

Which is why we’re wrapping the beer in an electric blanket. At first I was going to include a picture here, but while beer is very delicious, it is not photogenic. So instead, here is a cat wrapped in a blanket.

If you are crazy in the two ways we are – 1. wanting to make your own beer and 2. not wanting to heat your house – then here are some handy tips for keeping your yeasties warm and happy, while you sit around and drink beer to keep warm.

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Old Poem

I live by train tracks and listening to them rumble by a few dozen times per day had me thinking of this.

Uncle Ben’s Sonnet

Uncle Ben was on the roof, drunk no less,
with a BB gun, shooting up old cans
when he shot my cousin Rick in the face.
The worst thing he ever did though was get
himself hit by a train, dead instantly,
leaving my Aunt Bernice with nothing but
8 kids, breast cancer, and a single wide.

You might wonder if it was suicide,
We say don’t think, what’s done is done is done.
Dad gave a brief but perfect eulogy:
“He was dumb as a shovel but you bet
he could work one for decent pay.
I hope the damn fool had life insurance.”
Forever and ever Amen, I guess.

I wrote this back when I was studying poems in college, and it got published in The North American Review, which was founded in 1815 and is “The nation’s longest-lived literay magazine and among its most distinguished.”  At the time I was quite pleased with myself.

Now though, I am more wary about it. At the time, I had always lived in places with single wides, and it was a sad story that I wanted to tell in the matter of fact way that it happened.  I wanted to try to whittle the whole big mess down to its bones.  And, I did see the irony of setting this story in the sonnet format with the post-modern twisted up rhyme scheme, but more because I thought it lent a kind of grim elegance.

Now, I am more aware of the voices of people who think that rural poverty is funny, and I think that I wouldn’t have written this poem today.

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I was looking up pictures of edamame for a new embroidery pattern (ooh la la!) and came across this amazing product – vegetable toys, I like it.


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Storing My Stash

It is my untested observation that not having children makes growing up somewhat more optional. Despite my ambivalence towards various things adult, however, I find evidence of adulthood all over my house and habits. Grown-up-ness is a tricky condition that can be difficult to diagnose until it is has a 106 degree fever.

I often run into little reminders that I am not punk rock anymore. Those who have known me throughout my life might question how punk rock I ever was, but I have been in an offensively named band, so I think that probably qualifies me for some level of former claim to the term.  Similarly, the boyfriend and I sometimes debate whether or not we are middle class. Education, yes, lifestyle, sort of, combined salary, um, no, but by choice, so, maybe.

Our apartment in Columbus (which is not in a middle class neighborhood) is smaller than the apartment in Charleston was (yet more for the rent, hmph), and we would get rid of extra stuff except we are thinking about buying a house, and what if we need it then? And also, as an old granny friend of Matt always says, as soon as you throw something out, you are off running to the store again.

However, because we are not punk rock anymore, the piles of stuff, like the porch swing and beer brewing supplies and boxes we haven’t unpacked because what if we move in a few months?, in the living room, combined with the -5 degree weather keeping us both in the house, have been giving me crazy eyes.

Something had to be done, and it wasn’t going to give me any street cred.  So, we drove the Prius to The Container Store, and bought, you guessed it, containers. I spent the evening organizing my fabric collection, taking it out of mangy, dented, overflowing shoeboxes and color coding it into Made in the USA partially recycled snappy shut plastic containers.

The wild cotton mess of used, dumpstered, inherited, clearance racked, and reclaimed fabrics have a nostalgic and artistic anarchy to them, but for now, the stash is sealed and stacked.

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How to Transfer Your Pattern Onto Your Fabric

So, you bought one of these fun patterns online, but how do you make it get on your fabric?

The best tutorial selection (I think) comes from the awesome NeedlenThread.com which is a great place for any kind of information about anything, ever, seriously, related to embroidery.  But crud, there are like, 20 transferring options listed on that website! Which is the best?

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French Knot Apostrophe Tutorial Party!

I like words a lot, and I end up embroidering a lot of words. I have an unused degree in linguistics that allows me to say with no authority that grammar is not actually that important in many situations, but one situation in which it is important is in embroidery. Because if you are going to spend hours writing something in thread, write it right!

So, with my love of correct punctuation in embroidery, here is a tutorial on how I make apostrophes (commas, etc.) using a modified french knot. I know the french knot is a point of frustration for lots of people, and maybe seeing it one more time will help with that, too.

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