I Love My Secret Santa

At work I’m participating in a Secret Santa week. I’ve been giving and getting gifts every day since Monday, and it’s been great! The organizer had everyone fill out little questionnaires about their likes, dislikes, and Christmas wishes. I got some great snacks yesterday, a pine-scented candle (yay!) Monday, and today, I go these!!!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

Yarn! In Oilers colors!

In the “I could use more…” section, I put “yarn (Oilers colors preferred)”. And boy did my Secret Santa come through. This yarn is delightfully soft! And that is important and perfect because I have been meaning to make hand warmers (gloves with just one big hole for all the fingers and a small one for the thumb) for use at work. (It gets pretty cold at my desk.) I’ve had hand warmers before that were kinda scratchy, and that’s just no darn fun.

So today’s bit of December glee is brought to you by…well, I don’t know who yet. But one of my coworkers is pretty great. (They all are, really.) Also, it’s been ages since I posted anything about knitting, so I figured it was high time! If I get my booty in gear, there may be future updates as I work on my sporty-crafty-fangirl project.

Go Oilers!

Knitting – Back in the Game!

scarf LS 2016-05-04

I started this blog waaaaay back in 2011. My goal at the time was to watch geeky TV and work on knitting the season 18 Doctor Who scarf. If you read my posts regularly, you’ll know that plan didn’t exactly continue with any strength or regularity. In fact, until recently, I hadn’t even picked up the scarf since well before I moved to Canada. And I moved just over two years ago.

I just looked, and my most recent knitting post was in December of 2012. Yikes. I didn’t realize it had been that long. And that post wasn’t even about the scarf! You have to time travel all the way back to January of 2012 to find any record of that project. Bad Erika! Continue reading

Yes, I Have, in Fact, Been Knitting

Well lookie who’s gotten lazy about blogging!  The truth is I’ve been working on a secret project which I’m very excited about, so that’s been stealing most of my creative energies.  I’ll be able to say more about that soon, and I can’t wait to share!  In the meantime, here’s a quick post about knitting!*

Knitted hat-Kensi

Note that it’s technically on backwards here, with the seam in the front.

Believe it or not, I have been working on my season 18 scarf a bit, but that’s not what I’m here to tell you about today.  My awesome boss** just had an adorable little elf of a baby, and I decided to try my hand at knitting a baby hat!  I’d never done one before, so I spent a good deal of time scouring the web for a free pattern that I didn’t hate and that didn’t require knitting in the round.  I have simply never gotten good at that.

I found a pattern*** which looked easy enough, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.  It proved to be as easy as I expected, though it wasn’t really clear on exactly where to stop.  (On the knit row?  The purl row?  In the end, I had a larger bump under the seam than I like, but c’est la vie).  Then I just had to sew up the seam in the back—the most difficult part of which was making myself actually do it.  I had the darn thing completely knitted, sitting there on my coffee table for weeks before I could kick myself in the butt enough to start on the seam.  Of course once I started, I had it done in mere minutes and just had to weave in the ends.

It feels very nice to have completed an entire project, especially with that scarf hanging over my head all the time.  I must work on that more often.




*That sound you hear?  That’s the sound of about 90% of my readers surfing right on to another webpage.  Now it’s just us knitters.  Who needs those other jokers anyway? :)

**No, I’m not just saying she’s awesome ‘cause she’s my boss and she’ll probably read this.  Though I’ll admit performance reviews are coming up soon…  (Hi Amanda!)

***I meant to link to it here, but apparently I never bookmarked it.  Unfortunately, that means I won’t be recreating this hat anytime soon–at least not unless I want to spend a buncha time searching the vast swaths of knitting sites out there on the interwebs.  Boourns.

And One for the Knitters

Booties!!! Now before you jump to any conclusions, let me assure you that I AM NOT PREGGERS.  A good friend of mine (who happens to be the guitarist for Sunspot, an awesome geek-friendly rock band that you should probably check out right now) and his wife are expecting a little girl.  This weekend I attended the baby shower (which was actually just a huge-ass party with tons of friends [of both sexes] and food and booze–my friends know how to do it up right), so for the past couple weeks, I’ve thrown aside the scarf (that I wasn’t working on anyway) in favor of these adorable itty bitty booties.  I’m not a big fan of babies, or of children in general, for that matter, but I think that teeny tiny shoes and booties are some of the cutest objects IN THE WORLD.

And no, I haven’t even been watching any particularly geeky tv while doing it.  I know.  I’m falling down on both halves of the job here.  For shame, E, for shame.

The good news is that this short-term project has rekindled my excitement for knitting, so I expect to get back on that horse very soon.  (And by “horse,” I mean “scarf.”)  These little darlings just flew by.  The best thing about creating something so tiny is that you’re done so soon and you feel like a knitting speed-demon.  This is precisely the opposite of the way you feel when working on a Doctor Who scarf.

For those curious, I used the bootie pattern found in Claire Crompton’s Knitter’s Bible╜.  They’re knitted flat, then seamed up with a mattress stitch.  I regularly use this pattern because I suck at knitting in the round.  I am getting a bit better with the magic loop technique, but not yet good enough to attempt bitty booties.  This pattern has served me well in the past, and for now I’m sticking with it.  My boss also has a bun in the oven, so I’ll be knocking out a few more of these suckers fairly soon.  Though I might also decide to try my hand at an in-the-round pattern if I can find a good one**.

So anyway, I apologies to the few of you non-knitters who are still reading.  I’ll probably get back to proper geek content next time—very likely covering The Mind Of Evil.  Not, as you might expect***, because I simply can’t get enough Pertwee, but because Radio Free Skaro is currently in the midst of doing a commentary on it so I’ll be watching it anyway.  Thus I would like to take this opportunity to say this to the RFS randomizer: You suck.

╜[Editor’s note: I originally cited the wrong knitting book, Donna Kooler’s Encyclopedia of Knitting*, which is what I refer to in my first footnote.  I’m sure that’s a fine book, and my comment about my upcoming birthday stands.]

*In preparing that link, I noticed that there is an updated version that was published last year.  I would like to point out that my birthday is in June.  Just sayin’.

** Suggestions welcome!

***If you don’t know me AT ALL.

The Girl Who Waited to Listen to the Commentary for the Girl Who Waited

Let me start off by saying that when “The Girl Who Waited” came out, I really hated all the “clever” plays on words that occurred using the episode title.  But did I let that stop me from doing the same obnoxious thing here?  No I did not.  Not for one second.  So yeah, I hate myself a little bit, but it was totally worth it.  You can hate me too.  It’s okay.

I suppose I should talk about the episode now huh?  Wait.  No.  I can talk about knitting!  As you may have guessed, I’ve done like, none, in a really long time.  What can I say?  I’ve had more important things to do.  Life is like that sometimes.  And by “like that,” I mean pretty awesome.  Anyway, tonight something possessed me to finally pick up my needles again and get back to it.  I completed the big ol’ purple stripe I was working on, and got exactly one row into the next red mini-stripe.  So it wasn’t a hugely productive evening, but every little bit yada yada yada.  Full disclosure here–I’m actually thinking of cheating on the scarf briefly to make myself a pair of fingerless gloves.  It’s frakking cold at work, and typing gets difficult when your fingers are cold and stiff.  As it seems I’ll be lucky to get the scarf done by even next winter, I might as well set my sights a bit lower and work on something I have a chance of finishing this year.

Ok, now I suppose I really should talk about this episode, even though I don’t really want to.  This was the most difficult episode of the season for me.  I guess it was my “Amy’s Choice” of this year.  Why do I always have such trouble with the best episodes?  Maybe that’s an indicator of just how good they are.  Or perhaps it’s an indicator of some deep-seated psychological issue on my part.  It’s both, probably.

“The Girl Who Waited” is kind of a masterpiece.  But on the other hand, I kind of hate it.  This is quite possibly the strongest ambivalence I’ve ever felt about an episode of Doctor Who.  It’s gorgeous.  It’s brilliantly directed.  It’s cleverly and cleanly written.  It’s a story that’s simple, but light-years away from being easy.  And it makes me mad.  I hate the choice that Rory has to make at the end.  It makes me uncomfortable to watch it, and it rips me up inside.  I realize this is exactly what they’re going for, and in my case, they succeeded in epic fashion.  I’ve thought about it a lot, and I’ve realized that I am actually mad at Tom MacRae (and Steven Moffat) for making me feel this way.

One reason I think this episode had such an impact on me is because of how I watched it.  I was watching online, and my computer just happened to freeze up at the worst (or best?) possible moment.  It was during that gut-wrenching scene at the end when Rory has carried unconscious young Amy into the TARDIS.  The Doctor steps to the door where his eyes meet those of old Amy.  She sees him and starts to run towards him, and—Zap!  No more show.  I couldn’t get it back right away, so I figured I’d go for a walk.

I knew what was going to happen.  Of course I knew.  But I spent 45 minutes walking through a beautiful park thinking “what if?”  What if he didn’t slam the door in her face?  Could they make that work?  And by the time I got back home, I’d decided that it could.  Furthermore, I’d decided that that’s what I wanted to happen.  But I knew it wasn’t going to.  And I also knew that if it did happen, if both Amys somehow miraculously coexisted, there’d be a part of me that would be pissed at the show for taking the easy way out.  So I suppose they really couldn’t win with me.

I guess the bottom line is that I think “The Girl Who Waited” is fantastic.  I liked so much about it.  But I didn’t like it as an episode of Doctor Who.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always need Doctor Who to make me happy.  Not at all.  Doomsday left me sobbing both times I watched it (consecutively), and it’s one of my favorite episodes of the new series.  But I don’t like when Doctor Who leaves me feeling icky.  And that’s what this story did.  I wish this was a short story.  Or an episode of something else.  Or even a new/missing adventure book so I could tell myself it “isn’t canon.”  Because then I think I would love the shit out of it.  As it is, I just can’t.

And jeez, I haven’t even said anything about the Radio Free Skaro commentary.  (That in itself should give you an idea of how deeply this episode affected me.)  Honestly, I think the delightful commentary is what got me through watching this episode again.  If Warren wasn’t ranting in my ear about landlines, and if Steven and Chris weren’t gushing over how beautiful everything was (including Martin Freeman), I’m not sure I would have made it through this tonight.  So, not for the first time, RFS has turned what might otherwise have been a lousy evening into something both charming and amusing.  Whew!

Doctor Who: In The (Rebel) Flesh (w/Commentary)

“The Rebel Flesh”–how appropriate.  My flesh tonight is certainly in rebellion, considering that it’s midnight & I should have been asleep hours ago. Apparently, that’s what happens when you sleep in until 1:45pm.  That, in turn, is apparently what happens when you stay up until 4 in the morning. Cause and effect: it’s neat!

“In the flesh” is appropriate because I’m in the midst of preparations for Chicago TARDIS! That’s where I’ll get to meet some of my Doctor Who twitter friends in the flesh for the first time.  That’s always a bit nerve-wracking because as nice as folks seem to be online, in real life they could turn out to be total creeps.  Or more likely, they’ll discover that I am.

So.  I suppose I should talk about the episode itself.  Sigh.  Not that it’s bad.  It’s just…not…special.  This two-parter was, for me, sort of a lull.  I enjoyed myself while I watched this and “The Almost People” (of course I did–it’s Doctor Who!) but once they were done, I was kinda like “So.  Those were episodes.  Okay.  Now on to something else.”

When I’m having a bad day, I tend to make myself list things that are good and things I should be happy about.  So here I’ll list the things I liked about this episode.  I loved the location.  It was a nifty old creepy castle.  That’s right up my alley, and the direction was well done and used it to lovely effect.

I liked the small cast.  I do appreciate “insulated” episodes of Doctor Who–where all the action takes place in a nice, confined area, and you don’t really have to worry about the rest of the world.  Speaking of the rest of the world, I love that in this episode, we’re only worrying about the fates of the inhabitants of this base.  It’s not a huge, dire, “ohmigod the whole world/universe/time itself is screwed if we don’t fix this” dealie.  I was getting sick and tired of that.  You can only up the ante so far before it just gets tiresome.

Umm…what else?  I liked the Muse song at the beginning of the episode.

I liked that I wasn’t distracted too much from my knitting or listening to the commentary.  That’s right, I listened to the chatter of those delightfully ridiculous Radio Free Skaro boys while watching this episode.  And in this case, I think it really improved the experience.  Perhaps because Warren kept taking them off track with lots of Star Wars talk.  This pleased me.  Not that I prefer Star Wars to Doctor Who by any means.  It just seemed more interesting than quite a lot of this episode.  Also, the guys may have convinced me to try revisiting the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.  I really ought to give them another shot.  Then again, maybe I’ll wait until I have some way to watch them on Blu-ray.

Well, seeing as how this blog post has followed RFS’s suit and veered from the topic of Doctor Who completely, I think I should bring it to a close.  I’ll just briefly mention that I did crack out a few more rows of the big purple stripe I’m working on.  And then I’ll think about trying to get some shut-eye.  I don’t have a heck of a lot of hope.  Thank goodness for the internet–a boon for insomniacs everywhere, it is.

The Time of Couch-Surfers (Or Houseguests and Stone)

So I’ve been saddled/blessed with a houseguest again.  Good ol’ C has been with me for a week, and I’ve done my best to expose him to some excellent British television (ok, and some Glee, but he’d seen that already).  We watched all three episodes of Sherlock, and he really enjoyed them.  Then last night I had some time to knit, so I wanted to watch Doctor Who.  Now if I was a quality friend, I might have stopped and thought about what would be a good introduction to new Who and started there, but no; I was feeling selfish.  And he’s getting to sleep on my COUCH, so really, I feel I’ve given him enough.  Anyway, my next episodes of series 5 (to watch with Radio Free Skaro commentary) were “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone.”

As it turned out, those aren’t a terrible place to jump in.  There was plenty C didn’t understand (he didn’t even know what the sonic screwdriver was), but they’re damn good episodes, and very exciting, so it was a definite win.  The moment “The Time of Angels” ended, he bounced on the couch, looked over at me, and said “Let’s watch the next one!  That was pretty badass!”  How could I say no?  Sadly, his comment after “Flesh and Stone” was “River’s hot.”  Sigh.  To each his own I guess.

Then when I got home today he confided that while he was at work he found himself thinking about “those stone angels” and how creepy they were.  He also mentioned to his wife that we were watching Doctor Who.  I think if I remind them about it later, they might watch on their own one of these days.  I’ll have to remember to do that.

I did feel a little bad watching the episodes with commentary though.  And no, before you jump to the wrong conclusion, I didn’t make C watch with commentary.  That would have been foolish.  I had headphones on.  But that meant that every so often (and usually at totally inappropriate times) I’d burst out laughing at something C couldn’t hear.  Eventually I stopped apologising.  Didn’t stop elling-oh-ell though.

Despite having watched both episodes just a few weeks ago, I found myself mesmerized by Matt Smith (and company), which almost made it difficult to listen to the commentary.  Luckily, the RFS boys had the same problem, so it was rarely an issue.  Every few minutes they’d fall silent until someone piped up with “We’re transfixed again.”  I can’t say I blame them.  Matt Smith just knocks it out of the park in these episodes, and that’s extra-impressive considering they were the first ones he shot.  Well done Smith; well done indeed.

Knitting-wise, I spent the time weaving in ends.  I’ve officially made my peace with that heretofore-odious task, and I’m making it a point to catch up with that before I knit too much farther.  This means the actual physical progress has stalled, but I know I’ll thank myself later.  The things I do for future-Erika!  She’s a lucky girl.

Speaking of future-me, the few-minutes-from-now version will be attempting to watch the classic Who story “Underworld.”  I say “attempting” because I’ve got it on VHS (which was taped off of PBS >20 years ago), and I’m not certain it will be watchable.  (More about my recent acquisition of Who-on-VHS later.)  It’s worth a try though because the next episode of TARDIS Tavern will be covering it (I can’t wait!), and I’d like to have it fresh in my mind.  Really, when I think of the crazy amount of video snow I watched most Doctor Who through for most of my life, I realize I can handle some pretty poor picture quality, thus I anticipate success in my upcoming endeavor.

So for future-Erika and myself, I’ll bid you all adieu for the night.


Doctor Who: Series 5 (& Football, wtf?)

So last night I finished my re-watch of series 5.  I should really re-watch things sooner than I do.  I just don’t seem to have the inclination to go back and re-view new series episodes the way some people do.  (I’m looking squarely at a certain podcaster here.)  I think I used to take comfort in watching the same thing over and over again (see: Labyrinth, Red Dwarf, etc.).  Somewhere along the line, that changed.  Nowadays, I feel like there are so many wonderful things I haven’t seen yet, I oughtn’t watch the same things repeatedly.

So why watch again now, you ask?  Well I tried watching it with Radio Free Skaro commentary a few weeks ago, but it was a total bust.  It had been so long since I’d seen series 5 that I found myself utterly transfixed by the episodes themselves.  Thus, I was ignoring the witty podcast repartee that had prompted me to sit down to watch in the first place.  Solution?  Watch the entire series through first, then go back and do it again with commentaries.  (I was ever a problem solver.)

Anyway, my weird quirks aside, I liked series 5 even better the second time through.  And I loved it the first time ’round, so that’s saying a lot.  Matt Smith is quickly cementing his place in my heart as…dare I say my favorite Doctor?  Hm.  I might just dare.  He’s simply brilliant: frenetic when it’s called for, silly often, alien nearly always, and pitch-perfectly understated at just the right moments.  I can’t get enough.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that Steven Moffat’s writing, in addition to being right up my alley, is so well-suited to Smith’s performance style, it’s like they were made for each other.

Ok.  Enough fangirl gushing.  I should talk knitting for a moment.  And what I should say about it is “don’t drink and knit.”  This is a lesson I have yet to learn, despite being bitten in the ass by it time and time again.  Sigh.  So this time I accidentally skipped all the mini-stripes in between two colors.  Whoops.  The only reason I even noticed it was ’cause I noticed that the preceding stripe was two rows too thick.  Also whoops.  So I had to do something I dread: rip out many rows of work and thread the needle back through the stitches to start again.  I’m always terrified I’m going to put the needle through the wrong way or something and twist the stitches.  This time I was very careful (and utterly sober), and it looks like I succeeded with no major mishaps.  I still haven’t gotten quite “caught up” to where I was (or where I thought I was), but I’m not far off.  Making mistakes sucks, but I do have to admit I’m sorta glad of the chance to practice fixing my screw-ups.  I’ll probably need that expertise somewhere down the line.  Because I know eventually I’ll decide a cocktail and some knitting sounds like a good idea.

So then today, for reasons I’m not even sure I can properly express, I’m watching (American) football. (Go Pack!)  As it turns out, football is kind of perfect to knit to.  I don’t really need to pay attention most of the time ’cause there’s so much downtime between plays.  Even if I miss something, it’s no big deal in these days of instant-replay.  Probably the only drawback is the fact that the susurrus of the crowd just makes me want to stretch out on the couch and take a nap.  Not the best for motivation.  But I resisted the call of the afternoon-snooze, and stuck with my end-weaving.  (Yes, I got past my end-weaving issues, and am trucking right along on that.)

So knitting-wise, it was a weekend of ups and downs.  Doctor Who-wise, it was up and more up.  All in all, I really can’t complain.

I’m Too Tired for a Formal Post

Hi.  So, I knitted.  And I watched Doctor Who.  And The Guild, even.  So technically, by the rules I’ve set for myself, I’m supposed to blog about it.  So here you go.  But I’m really really tired and out of it tonight.  Apologies if it’s a bit stream-of-consciousness.  Also, beware SPOILERS.  I think.

I hadn’t watched The Hungry Earth or Cold Blood since they first aired.  I didn’t have any strong feelings about them at the time, I just enjoyed them for being Doctor Who.  I still do.  Yay!  They really have a classic-Who kinda feel (and not just ’cause the Homo-Reptillians are Silurian cousins), and that’s just peachy by me!  Also, I loved loved LOVED Meera Syal as Nasreen Chaudhry.  (And is that not an awesome character name?)  Easily one of my favorite guest stars in all of new-Who.

I’d forgotten about the bit at the end with the crack and Rory getting shot.  Holy balls, I didn’t see that coming the first time I saw this.  It affected me more this time, I think, having seen how Amy and Rory’s relationship evolves over the rest of the season and much of the next.  Yes.  I got a bit misty.  So sue me.

Oh.  And Matt Smith is amazing.

The Guild was pretty awesome tonight as well.  Felicia Day has done it again.  I won’t spoil that for anyone, but there’s one scene with a cavalcade of fantastic guest cameos.  I think this season is my favorite so far.  I started re-watching season one at Dragon*Con, and it’s clear that the show has come a long way.  It was pretty solid to start with, but now it’s a lot more polished.  (Not to mention the fact that it’s progressed to the point that [INFORMATION REDACTED] and [NAME REMOVED] and [XXXXXXXXXX] and the like drop by for an episode.)

As for the knitting, I got an orange stripe done.  Boom.  After last night’s end-weaving debacle, I wasn’t about to try that again so soon.  One of these days I’ll get back on that horse.  Today is not that day.  Tonight I’m ignoring the horse entirely so I can just go to bed.  Mmm.  Bed.

Doctor Who: Amy’s Choice (Or [Bad-]Dream-Weaving)

OMFG do I hate weaving in ends.  It’s easily my least favorite part of knitting.  And when you’re knitting a 20ish foot scarf with oodles of stripes, there are oh-so-many ends to weave in.  We hates it.  And no, lest you think I somehow have managed to complete the behemoth task that is knitting this scarf, I am definitely not finished.  I have vague (and horrible) recollections of the mind-numbing boredom brought on by weaving in the ends of the season 12 scarf I knitted for my mom a few years ago.  I thought I would be terribly clever and try to weave in the ends chunk by chunk this time.  I still think it’s a good idea–in theory anyway.

Good idea or not, I’ve learned a few things tonight.  One, don’t start weaving in ends after you’ve already taken your melatonin for the night.  Two, make sure you have a really good light source.  (I currently don’t.)  Three, it’s probably not a great idea to tackle something you detest when you’ve been in a cranky mood for the bulk of the day.  I know these all sound like no-brainers–probably because they are.  Oy.  I have no excuse.

(Note: SPOILERS ahead, so Mom, if you haven’t caught up yet…well, gosh darn it, get on the stick!  Series 6 is great.  You and Dad need to get there!)

So while I was enduring the nightmare that is end-weaving, Matt Smith and his “time team” were enduring nightmares of their own.  I hadn’t seen this episode since it first aired, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t remember much about it.  All I did remember was that it made me feel a little annoyed, disturbed, and uncomfortable.  I didn’t really remember why.  Now I suppose I do.

My first problem with this episode is the idea that Amy might choose the Doctor–and I mean that in some sort of romantic way.  I’ve never felt comfortable with the Doctor as a sexual character, so the thought that his companion sees him as such just makes me feel sick inside.  And yes, I’ve dealt with this problem throughout new Who.  I try to ignore it as best I can, but in this episode, it’s pretty central, so it’s more difficult to do that.

I think the other reason I find this episode disturbing is the fact that it’s all about choice.  I am notoriously indecisive.  Watching an entire episode that’s about not just any choice, but probably the most important one Amy has made in her life, well that made me feel a little sick inside too.  And yes, I fully admit that this particular issue has everything to do with me and nothing to do with the episode itself.

Maybe more than anything else though, I struggle with the Dream Lord as the dark side of the Doctor.  It makes perfect sense, but it’s hard to stomach.  I get that there’s a lot of self-loathing seething under the surface.  That seems only natural for someone who survived the Time War and saw/caused the end of his entire species.  But I grew up with the-Doctor-as-a-bright-shiny-hero.  And yes, I realize that wasn’t always the case even in classic Who, but I started watching pre-kindergarten, when I was too young to spot the lurking darkness, and as the Head & Shoulders ads used to say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  The shiny-happy-Doctor will live forever in my heart.  Add to that the fact that I’ve spent plenty of real-world time watching amazing, worthy people hating and destroying themselves, and I guess you just have a recipe for a gigantic turn-off of an episode for Erika.

Which is really too bad, because this is an excellent episode.  It’s well-written, well-directed, and well-acted.  There are some great lines–for example, Amy saying “If we’re gonna die, let’s die looking like a Peruvian folk band.”  (See the photo above.)  It’s a great idea for a story–toying with the nature of reality, and the back-and-forth between the “realities” is handled very well.  Matt Smith (as always) is wonderful as he realizes who the Dream Lord really is.  He turns in a performance with such depth!  I want to like it.  I really do!  Perhaps someday, when I’ve exorcised some of my own personal demons, I’ll be able to do just that.

Until then, I’ll just continue weaving in these ends.  Le sigh.