Slightly transmogrified tableWell, I built a contraption a couple of Sundays ago: I took a $5 Ikea tv tray table that I got about 7 years ago, which had lost a couple of screws and was unsteady on its pins, disassembled it slightly, and turned it into a knitting caddy (with a tabletop!), to keep all my chairside knitting stuff sorted and away from cat-related damage.

So that’s kind of cool. I can keep a couple of projects in the caddy, it has pockets on the side for accessories, and the tabletop is removable so I can still use it as a table. The caddy bit is removable and washable, and it still mostly folds up, if I don’t mind moving the tabletop separately, and all it cost me to make was a $5 hacksaw and a $2 dowel. Rock!

Yarn! I also did some spinning. I can’t spin in the wintertime (which is deeply annoying) because the skin on my hands gets too dry to handle fiber (and there is no lotion that helps this, I’ve tried — climate changes help, actually, so travelling in January actually healed my hands up a bit), but I have gotten a bit done in the past couple weeks. I finished up spinning the last of an 8oz. hank of Frabjous Fibers Blue-Faced Leicester in the “Deep Space” colorway. I drafted the full width of the roving out to pencil roving (so I had nice long chunks of colors) and navajo-plied it to preserve the color changes and shade neatly from color to color — came away with 540 yds of slightly-more-than-worsted,-not-quite-chunky weight yarn. Here’s a hank. I have four hanks now and I just want to sit and pet them. My pretties!

This roving was, to be perfectly honest, TEH BEST EVAH. If it weren’t like $30 a hank or something, I’d run right out down the street to Loopy and get like a dozen more and spend the rest of my life in fuzzy, soft, blue-purple bliss. (P.S. It is extremely dangerous to a budget having Loopy Yarns a block away from your house. Especially on rainy days when someone emails you a new project idea and you raid the stash and come up empty handed, and you whisper those fateful words: “I’ll just be like ten minutes.” I am just saying. Danger!)

I’ve also been working on Johnny’s Guitar Hero scarf. I changed it from crochet (in the pattern) to a broken-rib stitch, and am about halfway done — no pix, though, it’s not very interesting yet. But Johnny’s in a Guitar Hero tourney in a month so I have to get it one before then!

Drum carderI also bought — drum roll, please — a shiny new lovely — OH YES I DID — Strauch Petite drum carder. I’ve been messing around with it and carded up a few batts of some Brown Sheep mill end rovings I got a couple years ago from The Sheep Shed Studio, which I spun up yesterday into some neat zebra-y singles I hope to turn into a two-ply worsted-weight yarn. This was a huge purchase and I dithered over it quite a bit, but I’ve been wanting one for ages so I can try making more interesting yarns, and I had the money… since, to my MASSIVE irritation, my annual spring trip to Ohio for the Ohio-Kentuckiana Soapmakers Gathering got cancelled this year due to it being scheduled on the same day as an exam in my bio class that I cannot miss — and as this year’s Gathering is in Greenville, OH, home of the Kitchenaid Experience outlet store, I’d been saving up my money for ages to buy a Kitchenaid there, which I was no longer going to be able to do what with the not going and all. (Note to self: NO MORE Saturday classes!) Sure, I could have just gone to Macy’s and bought a Kitchenaid there but, srsly, it’s not the same. And I decided I would probably use the drum carder more than the Kitchenaid this year (since I really wanted it so I wouldn’t have to knead bread dough anymore and I discovered no-knead bread last year), so I used that money for a drum carder instead. Despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I soundly confused a couple of coworkers by going on and on about “I WANT MY DRUM CARDER!!!” for like two weeks while waiting for it to ship… Nonetheless, it is awesome. And now I am going through life wanting multicolored loose silk fiber to drop from the sky…

Spring colored ClapotisAnd, since I’ve been wearing the hell out of the last one I made, I went stash-diving for some soysilk laceweight I knew I had in there somewhere and cast on for a third Clapotis. It’s nice to have a little mindless-yet-interesting knitting in there you can default to. Even if the laceweight does move annoyingly slowly, on #4 needles. It’s turning out pretty nice, I think I’ll be pleased with it when it’s done.

Of course there’s also been all the usual stuff — work, school. School is going well enough that really, I’m just mad at myself for putting it off so long. If I stick to my schedule, I should hopefully be getting an AA from HWC after summer 2010, and then that just leaves finishing up — the current contender for that is DePaul. I’m sort of miffed at the U of I system for being completely useless — UIC’s evening program is, as always, deplorable. UIS offers an online program for a couple of courses of study, but the enrollment is extremely limited (20 students? Really?). UPenn have an online program, but, meh. The nice thing about DePaul is that their School for New Learning (cough: School for Adults who Took a While to Get Their Shit Together) offers (a) classroom- or online-based classes, (b) earned credit for experiential learning (present a portfolio of work and get school credit for it — wonder what they will give me for my massive background in Internet memes?), and (c) build-your-own programs so you can study what you are actually interested in, and/or a Bachelor of Arts in Computing, meaning I could get a degree in my field without having to take Remedial Discrete Math eighty times to pass. They’re not really cheap, but I think it’ll be doable. I’ve figured out about how much money it’s going to take me to do this, and I’ve decided I have to handle it basically like my credit card debt… I just have to treat it as immutable: I must pay this amount into savings, which is playing the role of Discover Card in this little show. That amount also includes a targeted amount for my “escape fund,” which is for covering visa application costs, cat importation costs, first+last+deposit on an apartment, expenses, etc. for relocating. It’s sort of an ugly amount to stare at; even more so when you do the calculations for how much you need to save to have $XX in Y years at a 1.76% interest rate and the interest is just laughable. On the bright side, that formula was taught to me by the math class I’m in this semester, so I suppose it is making itself useful already. On the extra bright side, I won’t be getting done with this degree and thinking I’m all ready to do this thing and then suddenly realize I am thousands of dollars short. So that’s something, I guess. (Even if it does severely impair my plot-since-I-was-21 to get a fancy-pants sports car for my 40th birthday: The plan was always to pay cash, so there’s no way I’m going to pay cash for a bachelor’s degree out of pocket, plus save thousands of dollars for a move overseas, plus save like a hundred grand for a shiny new 911, in … 9 years. Ain’t gonna happen. I loved you, though, Dreams of Potential Car. Always remember!)

So that’s the news from the south loop. But now: big bio test to study for, and batts to spin! Quick! To the bat-comfy chair!