Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Return to Texas

  1. image
    Mt. Bonnell, East Austin
    I lived in Austin, TX from 2012 to 2016 for graduate school and a little work afterward. I left Austin with quite dichotomous feelings about the city. One minute I would think the town is okay, the next I would think it is the worst. I went back to Austin for a one-week vacation recently. I was hoping that after a year and half, I might be able to reconcile my feelings about the town.
    Here are some of my thoughts on Austin as it is now:
    • There is so much construction, both road and buildings. It’s everywhere you turn. The area I lived in in north Austin used to not be that desirable of an area. Now, developers are buying bungalow houses that were likely built in the 1960s or 1970s, bulldozing them, and building excessively modern duplexes in the same lot. There is a road next to where I used to live that had three redeveloped lots on it when I left. It now has more than 7. Here’s an example of one of them. The pink house was being torn down when I left in early 2016.
    • The town has become a caricature of itself. When I would go home during school breaks, Austin would usually come up as a topic of discussion. I found, at the time, that what people back home thought Austin was is not what it actually was. Now, it is exactly what people back home think it is. It is a hipster, eccentric place where you stand out if you are not hipster, alternative, or mod. (Note: I’m not saying that those styles are bad. I think they are great. I love when I see people with weird hairstyles, hair colors, tattoos, piercings. I would love to have the courage to be like that. What is not great is the feeling I got from Austinites when I went back. It felt almost pretentious. As if, if I wasn’t like that, I didn’t belong.) Austin used to be this hidden secret of the south. Now, there’s nothing surprising anymore.
    • When I first moved to Austin, everyone was pretty laid back, at least compared to the east coast. When I visited, it seem like I hadn’t left the east coast in that regard. Everyone was in a hurry to get everywhere. 
    • There is a lot more graffiti now, especially downtown near the river. I took this picture at Kerbey Lane Cafe next to campus (great cafe, btw. Definitely go there if you are ever in Austin). Graffiti like this now litters central Austin. It wasn’t like this a year and half ago.
    Things weren’t all bad when I lived in Austin. I had great friends (they’re still my friends but very few still live in Austin). I had a great knitting/crochet group (yes, that is important to me). Austin has great book shops and yarn shops (see the picture of my haul from my latest trip for evidence of this). The food is great (Kerbey Lane Cafe, Pho Thaison, Mighty Fine, County Line BBQ to name a few). Alamo Drafthouse is a thing. The city botanical gardens are amazing (the picture is from my trip to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center). And the confidence boost that I can live on my own in a strange town in a strange state far away from home and be okay was great. 
    Butterfly on Blazing Star at the Wildflower Center
    But that being said, there were also things that weren’t okay about Austin when I lived there. I won’t go into Texas politics. I think most people are familiar with those. But something else, being from Maryland, there are tall trees almost everywhere. For those who are claustrophobic, Maryland may not be for you. Sometimes, there are so many trees, it can seem like they are closing in around you. But having grown up with that feeling, I love it. In Austin, the tallest trees are about 50 feet at best. It’s not really Austin’s fault. It’s too dry and the soil is just too bad to really support the 100-foot tall trees of Maryland. But the lack of tall trees always made it feel like something was missing. During the day, the sky in Austin is too big. At night, it’s almost imposing. It seems like there isn’t anything to hold up the night sky. It seems like the blackness of the night is right on top of you. It’s unnerving. 
    It’s hard to live in a place where it seems like the sky is too far away, but at the same time, is trying to get you. It’s hard to like living in a place where it changes at the drop of a hat, and not always for the best. My friends are mostly gone. The state is turning further and further pro-gun and anti-woman. Austin is somewhat buffered from it, but it can’t fully keep it out. 
    I came away from my recent trip not liking Austin…and that is where my feels about Austin will stay. That’s okay. I don’t have to like Austin. I won’t ever live there again and that’s okay. I’ll visit again, one of these days. 
    I’ll leave you with a picture from a happy time when I lived in Austin. I may never feel this way again in or about the city, but it was good to have felt it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bat Poster

Since my poster was censored at the Howard County Fair, I'm going to post it here, where it will not be censored by anyone.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ranting Time...


I know I haven't been updating this blog a lot lately. Sorry for that. I need to rant about something. For context, I chair Children's and Teenage Crafts in Open Class at a county fair in Maryland. My mom is one of three co-superintendents of the building. Rant time commence....

Next year, the fair will get one half day from me, not 4. All other days, I will be at work, where I will be treated better, will be appreciated, and where I should have been this year. My 21 years of volunteering in that building meant nothing to them this year. Next year, they won't get my ability to find entries missing ribbons or entry tags that aren't open. I won't be there to help exhibitors find their entries or watch the building. I won't be there to scribe for the mid-week flower show. They won't get any of that from me.

If you treat your volunteers badly, if you chastise them as if they are children multiple times (over things that are non-issues), your volunteers will walk. Your volunteers will go out of their way to not inspire others to help in a building that desperately needs volunteers for fear they will be treated badly, too. If my mom were not a co-superintendent, after this year, I would walk and never look back.

I hate that it has come this. I've never been treated this badly at a fair and I have been volunteering at them since I was 4-years-old. I think people often lose sight of perspective (as they did here) and think that bullying and rudeness will get them the result they want. It might, but there will be unintended consequences, such as this post and me almost walking away.

I am not a pushover. Texas taught me that. But I can't let them bring me down. I have an important job that impacts the health of others. I am better than them. I am better than this fair. I need to focus on being happy in my life and not letting my happiness be dependent on the ill-wishes of people I see one week out of the year.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Second Pussy Hat Pattern

Hi all!

 Lately, I've been a little overwhelmed by the negativity coming from the eight-day-old administration. I made another pussy hat pattern to try to relax. Here's the pattern, using worsted weight yarn this time.

 Worsted weight yarn (less than 170 yds)
 H hook
 G hook
 Tapestry needle to weave in ends

 Ch - chain
 Dc - double crochet
 Fpdc - front-post double crochet
 Bpdc - back-post double crochet


Starting with a H hook...
1. Chain 38.

2. Dc in third chain from hook. Dc in each ch. When you reach the end (36 stitches), rotate the piece 180° and dc back across the bottom of the ch stitches you already dc-ed into. In total, you will have 72 stitches. Join to the first dc with a slip stitch. Ch 2. Do not turn. 

3. Dc into stitch slipped into from previous round. Dc in each stitch around. Join to the first stitch with a slip stitch. Ch 2. Do not turn.
Repeat step 3 until piece measures 6-6.5 inches long (approximately 12 additional rounds).

Switch to G hook...
4. *Fpdc, bpdc. Repeat from * around. Join to first fpdc with slip stitch. Ch 2. Do not turn.

5. Repeat previous round two more times. Do not chain at end. Break yarn. Secure yarn. Weave in ends.

I hear for the scientists march that brain hats will be accessory of choice. Stay tuned for a pattern for one of those!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Spiralis Hat

It's been a pretty dreary day here in Maryland. Sleet and freezing rain has kept me inside all day. But with that time, I was finally able to write up my first original knitted hat pattern. It won 1st place at the Maryland State Fair in the original design category in 2016. The judges liked it. Now the pattern is written up and available for the world to make. (I know I look a little angry in the first photo, but it's the best one I have of me wearing the hat.)

-Bulky weight yarn (100-120 yds)
     -Alternatively, two DK weight yarns knitted together also works.
-Size 9 circular needles
-Size 9 double pointed needles
-Stitch marker
-Tapestry needle to weave in ends

-K - knit
-P - purl
-SSK - slip slip knit (decrease)

Cast on 64 stitches.
First Straight Section
1.   *K2, P2. Repeat from * around.
2.   K around.
3.   Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until work reaches 3 inches long. End on Round 2.

Start Spiral
4.   K1, *P2, K2. Repeat from * until last stitch. K in last stitch.
5.   K around.
6.   *P2, K2. Repeat from * around.

7.   K around.
8.   P1, *K2, P2. Repeat from * until last stitch. P in last stitch.
9.   K around.
10. *K2, P2. Repeat from * around.
11. K around.
12-17. Repeat Rounds 4-9.

Back to Straight
18. Repeat Rounds 10 and 11 until this section measures 1.5-2.0 inches. End on Round 10.

Shaping the Crown (switch to double pointed needles when needed)
19. *K6, SSK. Repeat from * around.
20 *K2, P2, K2, P1. Repeat from * around.
21. *K5, SSK. Repeat from * around.
22. *K2, P2, K2. Repeat from * around.
23. *K4, SSK. Repeat from * around.
24. *K2, P2, K1. Repeat from * around.
25. *K3, SSK. Repeat from * around.
26. *K2, P1, K1. Repeat from * around.
27. *K2, SSK. Repeat from * around.
28. K around.
29. *K1, K2tog. Repeat from * around.
30. K around.
31. K2tog around.

Break yarn leaving a long end. Draw yarn through remaining stitches to close the top. Secure yarn. Weave in ends.