Sunday, August 30, 2009

Knitters and Crocheters: Free Patterns without Ravelry

Everyone loves something free. For those of us who knit and crochet, patterns are really great. They can help us start decreasing the amount of stash, or inspire us to make up something on our own. Sometimes, we even find EXACTLY what we've been looking for, right under our noses.

Of course many of the big yarn companies have free patterns available. Lion Brand and Bernat do, and some of the smaller but popular yarns like Dream in Color do as well. Interweave's Knitting Daily Web site also offers free patterns, some as bonuses to what was in various magazines such as Interweave Knits or Piecework, others that were published several years ago and have proven so popular that Interweave is offering them for free. Then there are the on-line magazines, Knitty, Twist Collective, and Crochet Uncut.

What is interesting about most of these sites is that the patterns are primarily or exclusively knitting patterns. Lion Brand and Bernat do have crochet patterns, and Interweave Crochet and Piecework both contribute crochet patterns to the Knitting Daily site, but the majority of what's available on their sites are for knitters. I have not noticed a crochet pattern at either Knitty or Twist Collective. (This is not to say that I haven't seen patterns that involve crochet, as edgings are quite nice on knitted fabrics, but I've not seen one that was exclusively crochet.) Crochet Uncut is exclusively crochet patterns, as well as tips and tricks and the same sorts of articles that might be available to readers of Knitty.

My purpose today is to give you some sites. I'm purposely not reviewing the patterns available here at this time. Of course I have opinions. I have opinions about everything. But this will keep.

Next up: I'll give you some of the index sites that link you to free patterns around the Web. Great resources!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009


I love me a good diner.

You know the places. Where the coffee is always hot and fresh, and you can get eggs, or a hamburger, or a BLT on toast at any given moment. The food is basic and varied, not necessarily healthy, but even the pickiest of eaters will be able to find SOMETHING on the menu that they can eat. The kind of place where the waitresses know all the regulars by name, and treat newcomers like one of the family.

I have a few good diners around me. The one in my town has been there for over 25 years, and the menu has barely changed. The original owners sold it a couple of years ago, but for the most part, the new owner was smart and didn't make too many changes. He added a few nuances, but the basics are all still there. And most importantly: he has listened to his customer base. When he made one change and his customers HOWLED in protest, he admitted that perhaps it wasn't such a good idea and changed it back. The food remains good, and most of the waitresses that I've grown to know over the years have remained.

There's another good one near where I work. We go over there sometimes to indulge in a good bowl of soup around lunch time, or maybe when one of us absolutely HAS to have an omlette and hashed browns or pancakes for lunch. Last week, I went just because I needed some time away from life, the universe, and everything, and a few minutes to crochet in peace. I had a wonderful waitress, watched several characters, and had a really tasty lunch, all for under $10 including tip.

That said, most of my friends have a favorite diner meal. It's the one item that you always fall back on, though you might just be tempted to order something else if the mood strikes.

So, what's your favorite diner meal? Or your favorite diner memory? Everyone has one. You know you do....

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's your Albatross?

In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the title character, through circumstances completely of his own making, gets an albatross hung around his neck. A dead albatross, even better.

An albatross is a large sea bird. It looks somewhat like a seagull, but its wingspan is roughly 11 feet, and it weighs around 18 pounds. Historically, an albatross following the ship was considered good luck by mariners, and in the poem, the ancient mariner shoots the one following his ship, thus bringing a curse down upon his entire ship. His crew mates hang the albatross around his neck as punishment for his misdeed.

The albatross has come to be a metaphor for penance or punishment served. I like to take it further, and to have it be penance or punishment brought on by our own actions. We've all got one. Or rather, I know very few people who do not, although I know a LOT of folks who would never admit it in a million years. Something we have done, or gotten ourselves into, that has become a heavy dead weight we can't shake. It might be debt, or a friend's problems, or a relationship, or a job. It could be any one of a hundred things, whether large or small in reality, but for the person carrying it, it's huge.

So, I ask you: what's YOUR albatross? And what are you going to do about it?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Life in the Wild

I have a dog. I've mentioned him before. As any of you who have a dog know, the schedule never changes. If the dog goes out at 6:00 am, he goes out at 6:00 am, regardless of day of the week, or what you have going on.

As we're heading into late summer, so at 6:00 it is light out, though I wouldn't say the sun is up. It's actually a rather nice time of the day for a dog walk, especially at puppy pace. But heading out the front door, there are always at least two bunnies, several squirrels, a bird or three, and the other morning, there was a chipmunk LITERALLY gamboling across my yard. I was waiting for Marlin Perkins to emerge from the bushes and narrate.

That said, our dog walks are very nice. Pup Pup has a very good time (as most dogs do on their walks), and we get to see all his friends and a few of mine. I will say that getting a dog has done good things not only for my exercise level, but also for my social life. I just wish there were time for more dog walks, especially this time of year. After all, allergies aside, who wouldn't be happy just meandering here?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

All Good Things

I know a lot of unhappy people. Flat out miserable, in fact. The funny thing is, many of them are unhappy for extremely trivial reasons.

Today, I can include myself in that. I'm not having a great day, and I've been mopey and miserable most of the day. And in the grand scheme of things, I've got no right to be unhappy. My life is really rather good. And so, in the spirit of Pollyanna (the character in the original book, not the somewhat negative connotation the name has come to embody), I give you my own version of The Glad Game. I now list for you the things I should be happy about.

  1. I have a job. Let's face it, the economy is not in great shape these days. I'm one of the lucky ones, who has gainful employment, and for whom that does not appear to be changing in the immediate future. Of course, it could change, but for now, it's all good.
  2. I have a roof over my head. And it doesn't leak, either.
  3. I have friends. Not thousands, but a few close friends, and a number of very good acquaintances as well. I have people who like me, and will help me when I'm in need, or who just enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee when time permits.
  4. I have people who love me. This one puts me at least one leg up on a lot of people in the world.
  5. I have appropriate clothing available to me. In warm weather, I've got shorts and other light weight clothing. In cold weather, I've got warm things.
  6. I have transportation and the money to use it. I have a working car, and can afford to put gas in it.
  7. I can see the glory of the world. My eyes, though a bit myopic (who'm I kidding? I'm blind as a bat!), can see the sun, and the flowers, the color of the sky, rainbows, grass, all sorts of wonders.
  8. I have the ability to create beautiful and wonderful things. I knit, I crochet, I sew, I cook, I bake, I garden, I sing. I do most of these things moderately well. Some people would say I do them EXTREMELY well, but I won't go there. Every once in a while, I have a happy accident.
  9. I am safe. There are not bombs exploding all around me. I do not live in a place where I am in imminent danger of being mugged or raped just because I have left my house. I am not at risk of being destroyed by a natural disaster or a wild animal in the next 20 seconds. (At least I don't think so, though these things can and do happen.)
  10. I have the ability to disagree. I live in a country where if I don't like something, I can say so. I do not take my life or that of my friends and family into my own hands should I say, "I have great reservations about this or that thing the Government is doing."
  11. I have access to wonderful facilities. My local public library is about the best place on Earth. There are beautiful parks and forest preserves in reasonable distance from where I live. I can go to any number of museums and see amazing things.
  12. I am not in a destructive, abusive relationship. It was close, but I made it out alive. It took several years, but I finally stopped looking over my shoulder. And now, I walk with my old confidence, with my head held high, and my signature "Bring it" posture. It's that ability to face the world and whatever it throws at me that I'm thankful for here.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many things I'm thankful for, I can't even imagine how long that list would be.

So, tell me, dear reader. What good things are in your life? What things are you thankful for? What good things are in your life that you couldn't imagine life without, from the smallest thing to the biggest?

Inquiring minds want to know....