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September 16, 2008

Making things, as well as light
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:42 PM *

A few weeks ago, I made a dress. I wore it to work today.

It’s nothing fancy: a chocolate brown linen jumper* with a fitted bodice and a flared skirt. It required the usual amount of alteration from the basic pattern†. It’s quirky and a bit young, stopping a couple of inches above the knee, which is shorter than usual for me. I wear it with tights, biking shorts, and a T-shirt underneath. It goes well with boots.

It’s good, though I say it, good enough that one of my male and clothing-blind colleagues commented on it. Good enough, too, that the woman who prepares our lunch of a Tuesday finally bridged the language barrier between us, specifically to compliment me on it.

Now, I work in a technology company, where we make things all the time, albeit in the virtual world. The guy who talked to me about my dress writes wonderful code that does marvelously creative things, but confessed that he wouldn’t even know where to start sewing a garment.

This mirrors my own current problems with learning to program. I have the same feeling of being overwhelmed by all the details, the same anxiety about messing up and looking foolish, the same utter loathing of the first, clumsy products of a half-aquired skill, displayed before the discerning gaze of experts.

And yet we are driven to make things, and to improve our making of things. Why is this? And what are you all making, or learning to make, or wanting to make these days?

This is a non-political thread.

* pinafore dress, O Brits
† In this case, the primary one was moving the zipper from mid-back to under the arm, because the only one I had was skirt length, and I haven’t figured out where to go zipper shopping nearby yet.

Comments on Making things, as well as light:
#1 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 05:54 PM:

I have no life, and am very boring: therefore you will be unsurprised to hear that I am currently making a Big Lie, to stand on a shelf next to the other Big Lies I have made and sold over the past few years.

#2 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Making: At work, code, article copy and teaching materials. At home, attempting to knit a skirt. "Attempting," because I have been following the adage "calculating ahead of time is for wussies" and going by eye/hand feel, so there is a good potential that the skirt is going to be not so successful after all. But I am using mercerized cotton yarn, which is gorgeous in the hand, so enjoying every minute anyway.

I also have some calligraphy projects that I need to take up: Thank-you gifts for some people, a wedding gift for a friend.

Yes, we are all driven to make things. To leave something behind, to feel useful, to achieve something concrete---those are some reasons one may come up with, I guess. Also, to learn a new skill or to sharpen those skills---to be able to make better things of the same sort. That links to the hacker-sense, I guess: In Hackers, Steven Levy described the hacker passion as "to make tools to make more tools," and learning skills to make more things seems related to me.

Also there is the total concentration and peace that descends upon one when making something intricate and concrete---if you have one (1) item to completely focus on, and the stress and worries of the outside world may diminish in your mind. I know I actively seek that peace when I work on a calligraphy project.

#3 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 05:59 PM:

I, too, am learning to program, with the aid of the free How To Design Programs book from MIT.

I've never gotten beyond the threading stage with the sewing machine. I should seek an instructional video.

#4 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 05:59 PM:

I think most creative efforts are really just forms of logistics. Thinking through how and when and what, and then doing that.

When I was well, I programmed and sewed and made all sorts of things. I'm fortunate because I can frequently look at things and see how they're made. These days it's pretty much beading and crocheting.

#5 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:02 PM:

I am making photographs, and a website, and things which go along with that.

I am making a chapter for a book on basic photography. I am, not enough, cooking.

I am not, specifically, learning anything new, but am polishing those things I do know, such as sharpening knives, pruning bonsai, etc.

#6 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:03 PM:

I make stuffed animals. And sometimes quilts. Occasionally, I make myself a skirt. I want to make myself a warm, snuggly vest (waistcoat) out of fur fabrics, but I'm waiting to find out if I'm going to change sizes abruptly this winter (it could happen, but I hope not).

#7 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:03 PM:

Good news: all professional programmers know their code isn't good enough.

Bad news: the best way to improve it is to hold it up in front of all the other programmers and invite criticism.

Good news: Hardly any companies embrace this idea.

Bad news: Your code ships with errors that a proper review would have found.

Good news: You probably work for a new company before anyone finds out!

#8 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:04 PM:

I'm making a shawl, in red. (I picked that link because look! cool tools!) Also another shawl, in this green, which is really much deeper in real life. Green for the border, this purple for the body, with more green at the top. That's to commemorate the hostas that started blooming in my new front yard a couple of weeks after I moved in.

I've also got two pairs of socks going, plus some new friendships, both meatspace and not.

#9 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:07 PM:

I'm learning to make vintage style jewelry with brass stamped filigrees and glass 'gems' and semi-precious stones to go along with the beaded necklace lanyards and other jewelry stuff I make. Elise M. plus Lee, Marilee, Julie L. and Carol Kimball in the "Strike Plate" thread, have been helpful inspirations from Making Light.

#10 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:07 PM:

Knitting: a layette set for my cousin and two pairs of socks are the current active projects. Also attempting to finish the top border of a shawl, but it's tedious and slow, so I can only do a little bit of it at a time.

Sewing: I took a quilt class this summer and now I need to finish and quilt the darned thing. I'd also like to make a patchwork skirt, but at the moment the knitting takes priority.

And I'm starting to make LJ icons and banners again after a lull.

#11 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:07 PM:

Cookies, tonight. (Note to self: get eggs.) Recipe will be hallucinated out of the contents of my cupboards, because I like doing it that way. (Note to others: I make cookies without eggs too, but that is not the plan for tonight.)

A piece of Stargate fanfic photo-manipulation work, this past weekend, because I got a cute idea and because I wanted to see if I could do it. Came out okay. (But it's meaningless if you haven't read the fanfic story it para-illustrates, so I won't cast the link around.)

Current long-term project: An experiment in interesting combat in text adventures. Because I don't like any of the ways it's been done so far. This will be several more weeks to complete at the current rate, because the current rate is a couple of hours a few times a week.

I work on IF because it's game design writ tightly, and because (who knows) it might catch on again someday and then I'd be rich. I work on computer art projects so that I can tell visual jokes. I make cookies because I feel the need to buy love.

#12 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:08 PM:

I am making a book about funny, crazy client stories from the days when I was a travel agent. Well, I'm writing it. Someone else will physically make it if I'm lucky.

#13 ::: Renatus ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:09 PM:

Your jumper sounds lovely, Abi. I keep wanting one, but I don't want to go to the trouble of handsewing one--I don't have a machine and I'm all the wrong shape and size to fit into most premade things in this country (even though I am female bodied).

Making things makes the world a little bit fuller and a little bit better in small ways. For me, it helps drive back the enroaching darkness and combat the bad brain chemicals I'm struggling with, even as those brain chemicals make it hard for me to create at all.

Recently I made rose sugar cookies; I ground up dried rosebud tea and creamed it in with the sugar and butter. The result is subtle and lovely and now I know what I'm making for winter holiday gifts this year.

I'm working on a new draft of a story I finished two years ago, and the difference between my skill now and my skill then is amazing me. The end-heavy original draft is, in its new outline, a smoother, tighter story with the world glowing through the cracks. As for the actual writing, now I'm crafting the sentences, instead of just trying to get them out.

And for no particular reason, I've started the concept art for a vague urge I've had to do a series of paintings of the most important characters from another work in progress. This excites me even though I don't have anything to paint with right now because, for a long time, I've felt like I didn't have anywhere near the skill to pull off the paintings as they exist in my head. Maybe once I get the concept art and the draft done, I will.

#14 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:13 PM:

I am in the UFO (UnFinished Object) stage of at least three quilts, there's a mystery knitted blob in my knitting bag, and a friend of mine just announced that she is Making Baby so that means I shall likely be Making Baby Blanket in the next few months (quilt or afghan to be determined.)

#15 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:15 PM:

One of my LJ friends list people knit me a pair of wonderous socks; I just mailed a compound necklace I made for her in return. There will be photos of both in my live journal when the necklace gets to her; I have strong feelings about showing pictures of presents before they've been received.

I make jewelry, photos, furniture, picture frames, boxes made of wood, or fabric over frames, or papier mache, or folded card, and some sorts of home decor fabric items, but the sound of a sewing machine makes me twitchy, so I don't sew clothing anymore. I envy those who can; the recent fashion trends have been cold, itchy and generally inhumane.

I make fences and retaining walls and trellises and raised beds.

Sometimes I make small stories to share for free with my friends, sometimes I make even smaller poems to remind me of a precise moment. Often I make huge lists of reading recommendations.

I try hard not to make wanks or kerfuffles.

#16 ::: deathbird ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:19 PM:

I've been creating food that I've never created before. My normal cooking tends to be extremely basic, mainly due to lack of time, but over the last few weeks I've been experimenting with various kinds of pastry. Fillo is scary stuff.

#17 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:21 PM:

I'm still making code at work -- same project for two years, and the end is still a ways off.

At home I'm trying to diversity and make pictures with my camera.

For Thanksgiving I'm making a trip to visit my brother in the BC interior, and hopefully combine that with some of the latter as well.

#18 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:21 PM:

I am trying to get a minicomic off the ground, if only I could stay awake long enough.

It's called I Was a Teenage Bookbinder.

#19 ::: Bether ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:23 PM:

I made granola this morning, and pies and stuffed squash this weekend.

I'm making myself a sweater, slowly as usual.

Even more slowly, I'm making a rag rug, which is tremendously satisfying as long as it lies flat.

#20 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:24 PM:

I am wishing there was a picture of the jumper.

I am making chili (a three day process) and frosting to bring to my cake decorating class tonight.

As Halloween is approaching, I will doubtless find myself making costume bits for The Young (current plan: one is going as Carmen Sandiego, the other as a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino).

I'm thinking of making some more limoncello.

And there's always dinner; no matter how often I feed people, they seem to need to be fed again just hours later.

#21 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:28 PM:

I am very very nearly done with my shower curtain project (namely, adding a ruffle to the bottom so that it 1) extends from nearly ceiling level to nearly floor level, instead of skimming the lip of the bathtub, and 2) looks cool. I should be able to put it up tonight! Wheee!

(I've finished a project! That sound you hear is my housemate fainting in shock.)

Next up: continuing work on my Craftsman-punk computer, and building a firewall/traffic shaper/onion routing box into an old cathedral radio case.

#22 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:32 PM:

I also would have no idea where to begin making clothes, though at some (very, very hypothetical) point in the future I'd love to learn. My brother's been trying it a little recently--he made himself a shirt that's actually pretty snappy-looking.

For the past few months I've been working seriously on making music for the first time in my life. I bought myself a saxophone and am teaching myself to play it (and have vague plans to use it to make something with a guitar-playing friend at some point in the future), but primarily I'm using a computer program (the powerful, incredibly intuitive and easy to use, slightly unstable Audacity) to arrange samples and brief snippets of recorded sound.

The stuff I'm most excited about is a series of pieces using only percussion samples and minimal effects--almost no reverb or delay or pitch-shifting or what have you. I'm mostly layering the percussion samples over themselves (and others) to try to achieve Phil Spectoresque walls of sound using only rhythmic elements. Why? Who can say. I like to put arbitrary restrictions on my creativity. Plus I think it sounds cool.

#23 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:32 PM:

Yarn project: crochet a scarf that goes from one color to another. This is currently two balls of wool on a bookshelf; I'll sit down and figure out how many rows to base my pattern on sometime later.

There's a filet crochet piece on my desk, too, and I just need to bite the bullet and pull out two rows because otherwise it will drive me batty, and it's already tough to figure out when to work on it-- the Catina wants to help, you see. With yarn, I can give her her own crochet hook and call it good, but thread is prey and must be subdued.

I consider it a triumph that I made the Anemone Hat while holding a cat on my lap.

I really like the idea of making my own clothes. A friend of mine has preemptively inherited slash stolen from her grandmother a nice old sewing machine. We both need to hit a fabric store or two to find curtains for her, cheap cheap fabric for figuring out 'sewing machine' for me, and then nice fabric for skirts. Right now, I'm assuming that sewing on this scale will be like crocheting, where I can see what I want to do and it's not terribly difficult to do it. It'll be more difficult from having more pieces there, and there's no equivalent to, "Just use eyelashy yarn and no one will be able to tell if you screwed up," but I understand triangles and read Dress a Day, so here goes.

#24 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:33 PM:

Making. Good, if it's not a Big Mess.

UFOs: far too many. But I finished a Ring of Lace and a pair of socks and mailed them to my most-senior-aunt Saturday before last, so she probably got them before Ike went through her area.
Another pair of socks almost half done, and possibly seen on the news yesterday, thanks to my morning train being infested with politicians.
An afghan, using the Faux Russian Stole fore the pattern (treat the stole chart as 1 1/2 repeats wide and one high, then do it as 2 1/2 repeats each way in worsted-weight on US11 needle, with 6st or 5 ridge garter stitch border)
A couple of lace shawls, in sport/baby weight yarn, so I can see how they work before I use the good yarn.
A jacket in random cables and a lining that I need to put in before I can knit the hood.
Fabric to make a half-circle cape (navy wool gabardine), a Tibetan panel coat (pin-striped charcoal wool), and a Victorian men's shirt in Madras plaid (to sleep in).
More UFOs in the boxes I can't quite get at, as well as a couple of the ones I can.
And a knitted lace scarf I inherited from my mother, one of her UFOs.

#25 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:34 PM:

I have a stack of 1-1.5 yard lengths of silk that will be turned into shells or short-sleeved blouses for work. This is, of course, the wrong end of the year for those garments. I should instead be prioritizing the stack of tapestry vests and suit jackets that need to be altered to catch up with the 80 pounds I've lost. For a while I figured I'd just give them away and start from scratch (because I hate hate hate alterations), but these are outfits that I designed from scratch based on various historic inspirations, poured some truly high-quality fabrics into, and adorned out of my grandmother's button collection. For that, I think I can deal with alterations. I'm also keeping my eyes open ("shopping" is too active a term at the moment) for some suitable coating wool to make a new version of my Regency redingote-inspired winter coat whereof the current edition is worn and tattering.

I'm so grateful I grew up in a house where sewing one's own clothes was taken for granted. It's so much more fun than shopping!

#26 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:35 PM:

It's a bit warm so my new-food making is on hiatus. I'm learning Haydn, Byrd, Cherubini and Saint-Saens (the last verrry slooooowwly...).

Currently I have two sewing machines with one working straight-stitch presser foot between them. The fancier machine needs a good $250 cleaning and tune up and does not have a table. The older machine has been cleaned and tuned up, but the table it's set in seems to be impossible to use.

When the sewing machine is sorted out, I will be making a simple renaissance-style corset (assuming I have to correct number of the right length of bones) and a Spock tunic for my dog. The ren corset is the same pattern of one I succesfully completed 15 years ago, and will at any rate be worn under clothing so it can be a little ugly. I also figure that sewing a tunic for my dog will be good practice for making real clothes that I might be willing to wear in public, as well as looking mighty fine on Ardala, regardless of my amateurish sewing.

Oh, and right now I am working on eating some delicious guava from a friend's backyard. Nom!

#27 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:36 PM:

That's funny, I code for a living and I'm learning to sew. I'm decent on a technical level (made some pretty sharp curtains last month, buttons and hems are no problem, I can take in a pair of pants and have them come out looking right) but I'm still a ways from being confident in my ability to sit down with a pattern and make something that has any but the simplest lines. I can handle anything flat very easily, but I'm not sure where I'm at with 3d human-body stuff. Alterations, where you're changing one or maybe two lines at a time, I can do. I think I just need to dive in and screw something up really badly so I learn how to do it right the second time.

#28 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:39 PM:

I am about to go home and take delivery of a new-to-me musical instrument, and then I'll be making music this very evening. Only I'm split on how creative that is--artistic, I suppose, as music is an art; but I'm hardly ever the one to write the music. So is it creative? I think the decision has to be in the eye (ear?) of the beholder, and this beholder hasn't decided yet.

But I'm very, very excited about getting this soprano trombone! It's like a standard (tenor) trombone only tiny--about the size of a trumpet--and very cute. Plays an octave above the tenor trombone. Did I mention I'm excited? *grin*

#29 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:40 PM:

I think we create for the same reason that we are a species that intrinsically seeks explanations (that's not your average pro-human hubris, actually). 'cause it just feels right. Kind of like sex.

I write code. In fact, I work for a place where code reviews are a way of life, and so are unit tests. We have a serious regression cycle and QA team, and we take our production deployments very, very seriously. Because our huge site of global hugeness and infinite variety should never, ever go down.

And if someone screws up, they have to write 1000 lines analyze what went wrong, the customer impact in terms of $$$ and customer satisfaction, and come up with procedures to not repeat what happened. And it actually is productive.

I'm proud of where I write code. Granted, this is not a forgiving place, so the performance anxiety is a bit high, and responsibility can be a bit of a curse. But if you're in a good team, all is pretty groovy when it comes down to it.

In my spare time I write stuff. Mostly I blog these days. One day I might write good stuff.

I also spend a lot of time reading. I'm not a great reader, so I've been trying to improve my comprehension and on-the-fly analysis skills.

#30 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:40 PM:

Recently I wrote a magazine article about antimatter.

Now I am making slides to turn it into a talk.

I am contemplating using Apple Keynote, which I have recently acquired, instead of Powerpoint, if Keynote's learning curve turns out not to be too bad.

#31 ::: Tracey C. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:43 PM:

Well, currently I'm engaged in making a small baking business. Which means I'm trying to find kitchen space, currently, but otherwise that I'm trying out lots of recipes to see if I want to include them or not. So lots and lots of baking, and the occasional, "Hey, I have five different kinds of hot fudge, everyone should come over and taste test and play games and such".

Also, one quilt top waiting stuffing and quilting, and lots of photographs awaiting editing by the dear spouse (I take 'em, he makes 'em pretty).

#32 ::: Mara ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:44 PM:

I have to make things (hand-bound books, beaded jewelry, calligraphic pieces, stories) or my fingers start to itch and my mind goes fuzzy.

I've always loved Tolkien's view of writing/creating/making things being a sign of the image of the diving in humanity:

Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seed of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.
-from Mythpoeia by J.R.R. Tolkien

(This is my first post here. I hope you don't mind.)

#33 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:44 PM:


(Scared yet?)

#34 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:54 PM:

Liza, if you make a dress from a pattern, you've still made a dress. Making music from a sheet of notes is the same.

#35 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:55 PM:

Me? I'm trying to make myself not lose it at the office, what with tight deadlines, exhaustion and lack of sleep that result in the system's problems taking longer to fix than they should. As for what I'd like to make... Susan de Guardiola recently went to steampunk event Saloncon, where many photos were taken. While she was reluctant to show her costume above the ankles, she had no compunction at snapping shots of armored bustles, mechanical parrots and sleeping ravens.

#36 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:59 PM:

Until four months ago I was trying to get good at making good food. (I've got the programming stuff down pat, but cooking stretches me hard.)

Now I'm just doing the coding because the list of things I'm allowed to eat is about five items long for the next few months, and there's not all that much point making food that you can't eat (and I'm not good enough to inflict my cooking on anyone else yet).

I long ago gave up making music: it's too frustrating when your body won't do what you tell it.

I look on those of you who have the coordination and skill to make dresses and aircraft and laser weapons[1] and sonnets and sonatas and novels with awe and not a little envy. I can but watch and appreciate.

[1] what do you mean they're not meant as weapons? Can't you use them as weapons? Whyever not? ("--- and you cannot deny that he has a *magnificent* death ray.")

#37 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 06:59 PM:

Tomorrow night I'm going to Make and Break Wednesday at the AS220 Labs in Providence. I will be checking them out - the project for the night is building a touch-sensitive noise generator to take home. I'll probably build one. Because it's there.

#38 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:02 PM:

I've got half of a scarf of doom knitted and in a holding pattern. It's light and dark pink stripes, about ten inches wide and acrylic. Well, it's long enough to be respectable scarf length, but my sister ordered Dr. Who scarf length. I don't like working with the acrylic, so she'll get it in a few months.

I got a secondhand sewing machine that I need to figure out. I figure it's about time I learned how to construct some clothing basics. It's old and green and metal, and it's built into a wooden desk. I love it.

I want to make cookies again soon. Should I make snickerdoodles or chocolate chip? Last time I made snickerdoodles I dosed the cinnamon sugar with a preposterous amount of coriander, and it was bliss. I'm tempted to try cumin or white pepper this time. I like spicy-sweet things.

#39 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:03 PM:

Mara (32): Mind? Hand-bound books, beaded jewelry, stories? And quoting a topical poem to boot?
And you think we might mind?

In other words, welcome!

#40 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:05 PM:

I moved across the country six weeks ago, so my big project is still just finding my way around.

I am writing (scientific) papers at work.

I bought a bass guitar when I moved here, so I am taking lessons and learning the fundamentals of playing it (and thank you, Diatryma #34, for the analogy).

And my music blog is now almost a year old, and I've been updating it regularly, so that is my regular dose of creating and sharing.

#41 ::: Mara ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:06 PM:

John (39): Thank you. *Curtseys*

Will (33): (Of course. You're an intimidating lot.)

#42 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:09 PM:

Cookies with googly eyes, as you've seen lately. I have tentative plans for more variations, for upcoming social events.

A couple of pairs of pajama tops, if I can't find something appropriate at a store at a reasonable price sometime soon. The old ones are getting very threadbare. (I made replacements for the bottoms a couple of years ago.)

This evening, I will probably spend some time working on another Barrayaran Emperor penguin, since I have a tentative offer to trade it for a copy of the Echo's Children songbook. I waffled about doing this, but decided that after what I did to one of Callie Hills' nicer songs, I owed her a favour.

Why make things? It's a light against the darkness, creation against chaos, achievement against despair.

#43 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:10 PM:

Arachne @ #29:

My #7 should not be taken as a personal endorsement of shite industry practices. I have worked in places with good and bad quality systems. Creative people sometimes feel stifled by heavyweight processes, but I think usually only when those systems are rubbish.

Many creative people will say how they loved working for company Y which gave them total freedom, but somehow everyone else there kept making really basic coding errors for no apparent reason.

#44 ::: dido ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:14 PM:

TexAnne@8: I'm making the Peacock shawl too (Malabrigo lace weight in Vaa. It's so pretty it makes me dizzy.).

And a lace blanket, and a sweater for my sister. And a sweater for me.

I am trying to make my first story since high school. Scary. Even scarier than realizing that I dropped a stitch 6 rows ago when the rows are already 250+ stitches and . . . I also forgot a yo somewhere in there.

#45 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:14 PM:

I'm learning Drupal, with the hope of becoming a viable consultant and not just a pro-bono wannabe; I also hand-built my computer from parts, but I don't know if that qualifies as "making" for the purposes of this thread.

I made a desk lamp in high school shop class that actually worked mumbledy-mumble decades ago, so I'm one up over Brian Johnson from The Breakfast Club.

Abi, if you consistently document your own programming code to the point where a second person can seamlessly continue where you left off, you'll be head and shoulders above coders who mistakenly think that not documenting their code equals job security. Of course, that may be wishful technical writer thinking on my part. heh.

#46 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:19 PM:

Joel Polowin (42): I'm intrigued by the thought of a Barrayaran Emperor penguin. Pictures?

#47 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:20 PM:

My friend is coming over tomorrow to hold the baby while I sew a curtain for her front window. I sewed the dress that my sister-in-law wore to her cousin's wedding last month. I'm cautiously optimistic that while in Wales I may have my hands free long enough to start a cross-stitch (which I haven't done in about a year).

Other than that my creative impulses have been throttled by the need to hold baby all the time. The chocolate zucchini bread recipe still sits on the coffee table, the piano hasn't been touched in some months, and I haven't managed to write in his baby book yet. Still, everyone who sees him comments on how big he is for his age (14 pounds/less than 3 months) so at least the energy isn't going to waste.

#48 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:20 PM:

Joel Polowin, #42: Those cookies are wonderful!

#49 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:22 PM:

TexAnne @8, I'm making the very same shawl. I saw it in person at a knitting class a couple of years ago and stalked it (inadvertently stalking the woman inside it, too, but she didn't matter - that shawl did).

Also finishing an awesome green cardigan, for me, and starting (tonight!) a pair of socks for my sister in law, who's a love and deserves them. I get to start with the socks tonight because I'm teaching a friend how. It's very refreshing to teach this sort of thing in person - I've taught two people how to knit socks over the phone.

Spinning (spindle-spinning) enough for a colorful wimple for HikerDude.

And canning: it's self-defense time in my yard again. Apples and plums and blackberries are upon us. In swarms and droves, moving of their own volition and requiring urgent action and a great deal of cinnamon.

And writing: that's the hard part. I'm wrestling with a character who brought into my life a penguin in slippers, watching TV in a Moscow suburb. The penguin is probably celebrated elsewhere in literature. The character, though, is not.

Thanks for this thread, Abi. I feel much better already.

#50 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:24 PM:

I'm supposed to be writing a chapter in a story. I'm a reader, not a writer, but I need to finish my part of the tale.

I have a quilt or two to finish in time for the holidays. I also have this really neat idea for a wall hanging, and I'd like to give it a try.

I'm going to pickle beets this weekend and bake a coffee cake for a mechanic that loaned me bench space and tools the other day, so I could swap pulleys on an electric motor.

I'm working on my coding and analytical skills so I can change into a job I'll enjoy more.

And I'm going to encourage all the creative types I know to keep on developing as part of the ongoing fight against entropy.

#51 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:27 PM:

Socks: green, man-sized, miles of ribbing.
Socks: black, lacy, fabulous.
Sweater: black, man-sized, miles of ribbing.
Sweater: green, man-sized, traveling stitches.
Entirely pointless frilly cuffs: green.
Yarn: cabled, beaded, neither black nor green.
Sweater: wee-man-sized, stripedy.
A quilt that's going along at a far slower pace than the child it was meant for.
A writing sample that I should spend more time attending to.

#52 ::: Rich Rennicks ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:27 PM:

Recently finished building my wife a patio, which was a challenge and very satisfying. Today, I began building a website for the first time in several years (it's fun to write code again). Generally, I hope to spend most of the fall & winter building the site, then writing/blogging for it.

Once spring comes around however, the back wall needs to come off my house (the sill plate is partially rotten, and the inefficient old windows have to go) and be rebuilt, which I've never done before, but should be interesting.

So I have my next 9 or 10 months of excuses for why I'm not writing fiction covered...

#53 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:28 PM:

I'm making electronic books for Project Gutenberg, although I've been lazy and unproductive for the last few months. The projects that are near completion all have tedious, un-fun tasks remaining like HTMLizing indexes and removing age specks from 19th century magazine engravings on cheap paper.

I'm also starting Intermediate Hungarian class next work. When I work my way up to actual fluency, I plan to translate some 19th century novels. (Because nobody else has done it, and someone has to, right?)

#54 ::: Nancy ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:29 PM:

I just finished making this cardigan. Even sewed on the buttons.

I've been knitting for a few years and have developed a reasonable set of skills. I have the confidence to tackle most projects, know how to solve problems or where to go to find an answer. But now I've bought a sewing machine and I'm right back at the bottom of the learning curve.

#55 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Someday, I will learn to knit. There are other interesting things to be done with knitting. It makes no sense to me now-- crocheting, you put a stitch where you want and it stays there, like a Lego block. Knitting is not like that.

I'm also getting into henna. I'l have pictures up as soon as I figure out how to get them off the department camera.

#56 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:30 PM:

Joel Polowin #42:
Barrayaran Emperor penguin...

Would that be a penguin in e.g. Vorkosigan House colours, i.e. brown & silver?

As for me,
Work: Trying to get my head around making breeding yeasts & making wine. Purely for research purposes, you understand.

Home: Making Big Lies with friends; I'm GMing a roleplaying campaign set in 17th century South East Asia.

#57 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:35 PM:

Me? I finished my first novel a few weeks ago (unagented, and I'm having trouble gathering the energy required to write a decent query letter and face the rubber hoses of rejection notices). Thanks for asking!

For the last several weeks, I've been learning to use Twelf, so I can prove whether the vague idea for an intermediate compiled language I have scribbled down in my notebook— it's an explicitly typed variant of the polyadic π-calculus with receive guards instead of replication and summation and asynchronous transmit only— can be extended to support second-order polymorphism and limited type inference.

Don't ask me to eksplane any of that— I only barely understand what I'm talking about myself. Professional computer scientists are a lot smarter and more capable in this field than I am. I'm merely an amateur.

Why am I doing this? The phrase Multicore Crisis is the one you want to Google (but you should avoid taking the hysteria too seriously, because there is only a kerfuffle, not a crisis).

#58 ::: R. Emrys ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:43 PM:

I'm making (frequently) cakes and cookies to feed to people around me when I'm stressed.

I'm making (slowly) a story which includes dinosaurs (and, depending on your definition, sodomy). I'm just at the midbook where I'm making a mess, which is fun. In the back of my head, I'm making angels which may eventually be material for another mess.

This week, I'm helping make a baby into a toddler. Mostly, it seems to involve a lot of swaying.

I'm making (nervously) plans and wishes.

#59 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:44 PM:

I make music three or four different ways a week -- I play bari sax in a community band, handbells in a bell choir, sing in the vocal ensemble at church, and on occasion play flute for offertory. I also teach my children how to play in a band.

I have sweaters one, two, a throw, and a scarf on various sets of knitting needles and two needlepoint projects on stretcher bars. And I have been fighting entropy in the sewing room, such that I have begun to sew some bags for band equipment and some new dresses for me. And baking! (and the interminable feeding of the family -- kids, I tell you. Feed them once, and they want to eat every day.)

#60 ::: Debra Fran Baker ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:50 PM:

I haven't sewn in so many years that I'd need to get the machine refurbished. But, I have tried to have two knitting projects going - usually socks and something more long term - for the past three or four years now. Currently, it's a pair of socks and a sweater.

On the other hand, I have a freezer full of homemade chicken stock that I made yesterday, and the remains of a batch of bread that I made Friday. And I have plans to make honey cake.

#61 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:51 PM:

I have a webcomic. (Or perhaps multiple webcomics; I switch between characters and styles frequently, occasionally going for enigmatic single panel drawings.) The current archive's dating begins in 2005 but it includes strips I drew over the course of the last decade, presented out of chronological order.

I ought to work harder on the comics. I get a kind of psychological block sometimes; I'm never entirely satisfied with what I come up with so I'm often afraid to get started on something. On the other hand, I feel a lot less depressed when I finish something... and one advantage of having a website is that I can look at something I did ten years ago next to something more recent and see the progress in my skills.

Sometimes I also try to write, mostly about books. This is a struggle; I sit down at the computer and my mind goes blank, or I produce disjointed low-attention-span ramblings. Once in a while I come up with something coherent. The mental excercise is probably good for me. Fortunately I don't feel the need to keep my blog to a regular schedule, which removes a lot of the pressure.

I've tried painting and photography in the past but let them fall by the wayside. (I feel guilty about the photography--back in college I was told I was good at it.)

#62 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:51 PM:

Nancy, 54: Ooh. I've been wanting to cast that one on since it was published, but somehow the lace, the socks, and the lacy socks keep squirming in ahead of it. Was it fun to make?

#63 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 07:55 PM:

I am making a Big Lie, only it's a Lie for young adults, so more like a Middle-Sized Lie.

Two months ago I acquired a new digital piano and started working again on making music. But it has kicked up my tendinitis, which I thought I'd beat, and I'm on restricted practice time. I don't know if I'll be able to come back to it, and that's making me anxious.

I moved in with roommates eight months ago; no room in the kitchen to cook, no room for my sewing machine. It has been driving me up the wall! Because I need making.

I need playing with colors, textures, and sounds. I need thorny problems with elegant solutions. I need accomplishment. I need beauty. I need being unskilled at things; it's good for my soul. And so is being skilled at things.

I think it is time for me to get back to my Lie.

#64 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:01 PM:

Stuff I've made: Sets of shelves, beautiful wooden staff with sharp spike on the end, quake-proof table [made out of 4 x 4's, carriage bolts and 2 X 8's], little steel trebuchets, sheet-metal music stand, fringed leather tabard that I need to get cleaned, flannel pendant-roll for jewelry, and other stuff I don't recall.
In the kitchen: Blood brownies.
Stuff I want to make: Backup unit for when CPAP machine gives out, manometer for same. Anyone ever build their own?

#65 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:03 PM:


Photographs. Food. (photographs of food too.) Drink. (niiiiiice raspberry cordial inspired by the hosts here was tempered with sugar last night)

And growing things. And preserving them.

Also, two kids. But it's not so much the making as the guiding at this point.

(I must add, I'm making photographs by lighting the objects. I'm making light!!!)

#66 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:05 PM:

I'm making a polonaise and matching skirt. I use this particular pattern for my Quaker plain dress clothes, but this time I'm using a pinstriped fabric and adding ruffles, contrasting piping, and (gasp) an open square neckline instead of a jewel neckline, so it's way too festive to be plain dress. It's a halloween/convention costume.

I'm planning to finish it tonight, but I may steampunk it up a little when I'm done, just because I think attaching goggles to my bonnet would be hilarious.

As far as why I make clothes, in my case, my plain clothing is a very visible sign of my faith (my office clothes notsomuch, but I don't usually make those). On a practical note, that means that acquiring it elsewhere is difficult and expensive. On a personal note, making it myself helps me maintain a connection with what I'm wearing and why. It's a conscious way that I connect myself to my life, if that makes sense at all.

Also, it's a lot of fun.

#67 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:09 PM:

I knit, like many here--though not, as it happens, socks. I finished a lace christening shawl (that took forever), a baby blanket, and a simple ribbed afghan over the summer. I'm currently testing a new Aran afghan pattern--not too complicated--but I'm getting bored with it. Now that I've got a fairly clear idea about how the finished afghan would look, I might decide to put it aside and go get some new yarn to try another new pattern. Maybe another baby blanket. I like to knit for babies; they never complain . . .

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:11 PM:

I'm only a maker of small things....

The corset may not fit, it squeezes bones
into odd shape like a carpenter's vice,
but you say it makes a girl sweet and nice
and satisfies a certain urgent jones
expressed as muffled, leaky cries and groans
which you define as the exacted price
of being female. This is the precise
condition that not one of us condones.
Yet saying this, we find that words must fit
around the curves that nature put in place
for her own reasons and not for the eye
that gazes fondly. We have not the wit
to say just how the form's true gentle grace
becomes by fashion's dictate one more lie.

#69 ::: Mara ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:13 PM:

Wesley (#61)--Your comment made me think of this poem by Coleridge:

"Dejection: An Ode"

'Late, late yestreen I saw the new moon,
With the old moon in her arms;
And I fear, I fear, my master dear!
We shall have a deadly storm.'

Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence.

Well! If the Bard was weather-wise, who made
The grand old ballad of Sir Patrick Spence,
This night, so tranquil now, will not go hence
Unroused by winds, that ply a busier trade
Than those which mould yon cloud in lazy flakes,
Or the dull sobbing draft, that moans and rakes
Upon the strings of this Aeolian lute,
Which better far were mute.
For lo! the New-moon winter-bright!
And overspread with phantom light,
(With swimming phantom light o'erspread
But rimmed and circled by a silver thread)
I see the old Moon in her lap, foretelling
The coming-on of rain and squally blast.
And oh! that even now the gust were swelling,
And the slant night-shower driving loud and fast!
Those sounds which oft have raised me, whilst they awed,
And sent my soul abroad,
Might now perhaps their wonted impulse give,
Might startle this dull pain, and make it move and live!

A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
In word, or sigh, or tear -
O Lady! in this wan and heartless mood,
To other thoughts by yonder throstle wooed,
All this long eve, so balmy and serene,
Have I been gazing on the western sky,
And its peculiar tint of yellow green:
And still I gaze -and with how blank an eye!
And those thin clouds above, in flakes and bars,
That give away their motion to the stars;
Those stars, that glide behind them or between,
Now sparkling, now bedimmed, but always seen:
Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!

My genial spirits fail;
And what can these avail
To lift the smothering weight from off my breast?
It were a vain endeavour,
Though I should gaze forever
On that green light that lingers in the west:
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within.

O Lady! we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does Nature live:
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud!
And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor loveless ever-anxious crowd,
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the Earth -
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!

O pure of heart! thou need'st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!
What, and wherein it doth exist,
This light, this glory, this fair luminous mist,
This beautiful and beauty-making power.
Joy, virtuous Lady! Joy that ne'er was given,
Save to the pure, and in their purest hour,
Life, and Life's effluence, cloud at once and shower,
Joy, Lady! is the spirit and the power,
Which wedding Nature to us gives in dower,
A new Earth and new Heaven,
Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud -
Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud -
We in ourselves rejoice!
And thence flows all that charms or ear or sight,
All melodies the echoes of that voice,
All colours a suffusion from that light.

There was a time when, though my path was rough,
This joy within me dallied with distress,
And all misfortunes were but as the stuff
Whence Fancy made me dreams of happiness:
For hope grew round me, like the twining vine,
And fruits, and foliage, not my own, seemed mine.
But now afflictions bow me down to earth:
Nor care I that they rob me of my mirth;
But oh! each visitation
Suspends what Nature gave me at my birth,
My shaping spirit of Imagination.
For not to think of what I needs must feel,
But to be still and patient, all I can;
And haply by abstruse research to steal
From my own nature all the natural man -
This was my sole resource, my only plan:
Till that which suits a part infects the whole,
And now is almost grown the habit of my soul.

Hence, viper thoughts, that coil around my mind,
Reality's dark dream!
I turn from you, and listen to the wind,
Which long has raved unnoticed. What a scream
Of agony by torture lengthened out
That lute sent forth! Thou Wind, that rav'st without,
Bare crag, or mountain-tairn, or blasted tree,
Or pine-grove whither woodman never clomb,
Or lonely house, long held the witches' home,
Methinks were fitter instruments for thee,
Mad Lutanist! who in this month of showers,
Of dark-brown gardens, and of peeping flowers,
Mak'st Devils' yule, with worse than wintry song,
The blossoms, buds, and timorous leaves among.
Thou actor, perfect in all tragic sounds!
Thou mighty poet, e'en to frenzy bold!
What tell'st thou now about?
'Tis of the rushing of an host in rout,
With groans, of trampled men, with smarting wounds -
At once they groan with pain, and shudder with the cold!
But hush! there is a pause of deepest silence!
And all that noise, as of a rushing crowd,
With groans, and tremulous shudderings -all is over -
It tells another tale, with sounds less deep and loud!
A tale of less affright,
And tempered with delight,
As Otway's self had framed the tender lay -
'Tis of a little child
Upon a lonesome wild,
Not far from home, but she hath lost her way:
And now moans low in bitter grief and fear,
And now screams loud, and hopes to make her mother hear.

'Tis midnight, but small thoughts have I of sleep:
Full seldom may my friend such vigils keep!
Visit her, gentle Sleep! with wings of healing,
And may this storm be but a mountain-birth,
May all the stars hang bright above her dwelling,
Silent as though they watched the sleeping Earth!
With light heart may she rise,
Gay fancy, cheerful eyes,
Joy lift her spirit, joy attune her voice;
To her may all things live, from pole to pole,
Their life the eddying of her living soul!
O simple spirit, guided from above,
Dear Lady! friend devoutest of my choice,
Thus mayst thou ever, evermore rejoice.

Coleridge struggled often with his own inability to complete his writing projects to his own satisfaction--or even at all! Yet in the midst of that struggle he was able to produce some beautiful poetry (even if he eventually give over petry for prose as he felt his abilities fail). It's encouraging to know that even the greatest writer/creators have disheartened moments when inspiration fails and everything they make sounds like the discordant wind.

#70 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:15 PM:

I'm between things at the moment...

But I'm sitting here at work, wearing a skirt I made, and hairsticks with matching earrings that I made, so I don't feel too out of it.

I'm bracing myself for my Christmass cookie project (assorted cookies in packs of six for about twenty-five sets of people), and it's just occured to me that a nice anniversary present would be some unfinished bookcases that we can sand and stain and sand and poly and sand and poly again.

#71 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:20 PM:

I'm making websites, but since that's work, and sort of ephemeral, it doesn't feel like making a thing that exists in a solid state.

I've been painting for three years now, just a few hours a week, and I was invited to be in a benefit exhibit (rescue cats and dogs), and I SOLD A PAINTING, sorry, I mean, I sold a painting. (To someone that isn't related to me, even!)

#72 ::: David Cake ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:31 PM:

In the last few years, I have got into hobby electronics. I've built myself a theremin, and I'm building myself synthesizers -- most of my interests turn into music. But its the building that is the thing.

I've come to realise that this geeky hobby is my chosen craft, and delivers the same sense of satisfaction as other crafts. I refer to it as 'knitting for nerds'. I've been known to take it on holiday with me.

#73 ::: Kate Salter Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:31 PM:

I'm working on the following:

Knitting - cat toy, Sweater for the 2 year old, and mystery project.

Sewing - Cut out or in the planning stages - 2 dresses for the 2 year old, a few pocketbooks, a jumpsuit for the 2 year old, (need to gather the waist, attach the bodice, hem and button hole that one).

Jewelry - various pendants and earrings in stages of completion.

Sewing machines - I found a Viking 1020 at an estate sale for 40.00. It won't zig zag, so it's at the shop. *sigh* Then I found 2 Elna Supermatics at a thrift store for 35.00 each. I was going to pass on them, until a friend bought them and gave one to me as a gift. The Featherweight needs a new foot controller/power cord. The Supermatic works and is a sweet machine, but I need to get a zig zag cam for it.

Old sewing machines seem to find me - so I'm looking for a repair class for me to take.

I wish I had more time to craft.


#74 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:34 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 46, Soon Lee @ 56: pictures here, "story" here.

Soon Lee: One of my need-to-figure-out-the-details longer-term plans is to do a squad of the 2nd Dendarii Penguin corps. And also a penguin modelled after Armsman Roic, which will indeed involve the Vorkosigan colours... after a fashion.

debcha @ 48: I'm glad you like them. I'm trying to figure out how to do the little three-eyed green guys from Toy Story, or at least their heads. Two "2-bite brownies", top-to-top with a gap, covered in green icing, would give me the head with a mouth. But I haven't got any good ideas for the ears and antenna yet.

#75 ::: Joe McMahon ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:34 PM:

I just finished the artwork and audio editing for a CD release, which was a lot of fun; I got to play designer for both the CD case and the disc, and I got to both re-use old skills and learn new ones in the audio editing process.

Digital audio editing beats the pants off a reel-to-reel recording, a splicing block and tape, and a razor blade.

#76 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:35 PM:

(Don't be too scared, Mara -- most folks here don't bite first.)

I tend not to make physical things, though I help occasionally. More, I make friends, and we make things together: sometimes food, sometimes conversation, sometimes a convention. I'm more ephemeral than most here. Though perhaps not, if you count environment in a bookstore....

#77 ::: Lloyd Burchill ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:36 PM:

I'm making a robot camera gantry out of Lego, epoxy, and electronics. Persuading it to perform fancier stunts than the last one I built requires software that runs on a laptop, software that runs on a Lego brick, and software that runs right on the camera itself. It's bumblebee-cheery in yellow and black.

This afternooon I took the thing out to the crazy equestrian/pedestrian spiral ramp in Stanley Park and, man, what a conversation starter. Everyone stops to peer and listen to the explanation ("It takes dozens of pictures up, down, and all around, and I knit these into a single picture of everything.") Fun, but then I have to re-shoot where the people were standing.

Next week I'm packing it up and lugging it to Iceland.

#78 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:38 PM:

I seem to be getting back into baking, slowly. I made a fabulous blackberry-peach cobbler a while back, and I just made bread last night (using a whole-wheat variant on the infamous no-knead bread).

At various times I knit. I also "garden", which aside from the utilitarian production of veggies and roses mostly involves beating back the weeds and invasive species..."making clearings" is the best description, I guess.

#79 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:44 PM:

I'm trying to learn how to make stories/books, which is how I came to wander in here originally.

#80 ::: Nancy ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:54 PM:

TexAnne #62: Once I got the hang of the garter rib, the Tangled yoke cardigan was a fun knit, especially the cabled yoke part. It took a while to knit though, with all the rib and the slightly finer gauge than for other garments I have knitted in the past. The absolute best part though was no seams to sew at the end, just a bit of underarm grafting. Even the button bands were relatively easy since they are just picked up along a straight edge.

#81 ::: bill blum ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:55 PM:

I am learning Python and SQL, so that I may make a better tool for tracking things like my son's blood sugars and carb intake, as I'm underwhelmed by the software I've seen so far. None of it seems right, I'll probably reinvent a few wheels, but I'm making something again.

#82 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:56 PM:

#72, David, if hobby electronics is "knitting for nerds", then what are the sort of knitting patterns here, involving things like knitting a Klein bottle hat, the periodic table, and Maxwell's equations? Or the ever-popular use of knit and purl stitches as binary ones and zeros?

#83 ::: David Cake ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:58 PM:

Most programmers are so used to seeing bad code that I would feel no shame in showing starting efforts to them. There are enough bad programmers in the world, many of whom deeply at odds with the muse of coding but employed in the area anyway, that someone who wants to be good is a joy. And wanting to be good starts with seeing it as a craft, as something that can be constructed with artisanal skill that goes well beyond simply managing the raw functionality required. Many programmers will be very pleased to share their knowledge just to have someone appreciate the details of what they do (it is easy to find people to appreciate the finished work, but only another craftman, even a novice one, can appreciate the details that go into it).

The trick to learning many crafts is finding projects that are simple enough to be within the capability of the novice, yet desirable enough to create enthusiasm in the crafter. For programming, finding smallish problems to solve.

#84 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 08:59 PM:

Current making and learning to make things projects are:
new programming languages (Haskell and Erlang)
working through Turing's work with the help of Charles Petzold's book, The Annotated Turing.
learning Country Blues Guitar
braiding leather
sourdough (shoggoth) bread
cleaning and replacing stuff for brewing season, and designing a new scotch ale recipe

#85 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:01 PM:

I am currently making a large pile of broken threads and fluff. But that is merely byproduct -- the intended item is several ounces of finely spun merino and silk blend. When things are going right, it spins into something amazingly fine (in the thickness sense, though it's also a very fine thing), and when things aren't (most of the time), it breaks every several feet. If I'm lucky, it takes less roving to get it going again than the amount that broke off, but I'm not lucky often enough.

When I'm done spinning this stuff, it's going to look like a variegated sky blue (as in all the colors of the sky -- blue and white and purple) cloud, and I'm going to try to turn it into this shawl.

I just finished a pair of blue-and-purple socks, and am now working on these socks in forest green.

#86 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:01 PM:


Crocheted hats.

(instead of a very important paper)

#87 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:05 PM:

I'm 16 pages into a sequel to Shakespeare's "As You Like It". This started when I was in a production of the play with my local community theater, and I got to thinking how unstable the situation is for the 4 main characters at the end of the play, and how much I'd like to see what happened next. I don't plan to do anything with it, but it's a fun assignment.

#88 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:07 PM:

I made fried chicken tonight. It wasn't as successful as it's been in the past. I didn't have yogurt, so I just rolled the chicken pieces in flour. Coating made with yogurt is so much better.

I'm making a winter vegetable garden -- growing spinach, collards, broccoli, carrots, beets, and turnips from seed. They're growing slowly. I need to thin the collards. I made holes on Saturday, and planted azaleas.

I'm looking for places to practice interaction design, in the spaces between my Ph.D work (in cardiac electrophysiology, for anyone who didn't see me establish that recently). The obvious choice would be the custom-written software I'm writing to do my own data analysis. That would be more of an exhibition piece; it's pretty specialized and maybe 30 people in the U.S. would actually use it. But hell, maybe it would be a good idea anyway.

I miss making photographs. I loved the class I took, but since the SLR is not mine, I don't take it out unless I have the excuse of an assignment. I've also realized that I just don't feel safe going someplace alone and paying attention to shooting rather than to my surroundings -- and if I go with my boyfriend, he's the one shooting (since it's his camera and he's the professional photographer). It would make him really twitchy to be out with a camera around and not be shooting. Maybe I could talk him into going out, but switching the usual camera distribution -- let me shoot with the SLR and he could shoot with the point-and-shoot.

I've been walking the line of getting back into journaling too, but keep talking myself out of it. I've just set up our spare room as a nice sitting room, so maybe I will use it as a writing place, too.

I used to write short stories and poetry. I flatter myself they were halfway decent; at least I was told so by people whose opinions I actually trust. (I thought they were good, but I've seen too much terrible writing to trust myself without outside opinion.) Whatever part of me made those things seems to have dried up. I took a journaling class last fall, and felt it come back, just a little bit. When a story comes together it feels like falling in love -- everything falls into place, and the whole world feels like it was made for you. I miss that feeling.

I realized I am mourning the things I'm not making -- instead of making them. This is silly. I'm going to go write.

#89 ::: Mikael Vejdemo Johansson ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:10 PM:

After attending the Mathematical Knitting Circle at the Joint Mathematics Meeting (US national mathematics conference) in San Diego last January, I knitted a Prime Numbers Scarf: every row with prime number index, it'd reverse - so I'd do the "wrong" kind on that row, and then continue (stocking knit?) from that onwards.

Made a pretty nice pattern.

Other than that - my trade is to create ideas. :-)
Most often, I end up expressing these ideas and investigating them in code. And of course, communicating them in blog posts and in academic papers. So I guess code and papers is what I'd spend most of my time making.

And in the relative privacy of my home, I make music - whenever I get around to it, I play clarinet, and need to get back to having access to a piano and at least one kind of saxophone as soon as I can.... I make food - I love cooking, and seem to have a bit of a knack for it. And I make all sorts of various random projects whenever they pop up and inspiration strikes.

Latin translation of Swedish Christmas drinking songs.

Poems in general.


and so on and so forth.

#90 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:12 PM:

Today I am making histamine, alas.

#91 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:15 PM:

I encourage horses to make more horses (under controlled conditions, don't try this at home, etc). I have a mare due next July, which pleases me no end.

#92 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:17 PM:

Fragano, 68: Your things are small in compass, but large in import.

Nancy, 80: Ah, and someday maybe I'll figure out grafting. Even when I do Lucy Neatby's chimney trick, I have trouble!

#93 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Joel Polowin (74): Those are terrific! I've bookmarked the page with the pattern(s). (Oh, boy, more things to make!)

#94 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:24 PM:

I've been making bento lunches, including my very first sushi on Sunday night. I'm not making pictures out of the food yet or anything, but I AM making lunches that my picky vegetarian 13-year-old will eat. Tonight I'm going to do peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches, and cut them with a round cutter so they fit into the container.

I've sewed, knitted, and done various other things in the past -- and someday I would really like to finish the crazy quilt I started two years ago. I have wanted a crazy quilt since I was eight.

Mostly, though, what I'm making these days is empty space -- I'm on a serious decluttering kick, so I can have the room and time back in my life to get back to making Things.

#95 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:27 PM:

I make puns. I think most people figure this out pretty quickly.

I make dinner with my partner; now that our kitchen has been renovated and painted, we're easing back into making dinners again. This weekend we're making a party happen in our house for her choir "quarterly birthday party".

I sew a bit too, only I call it suturing. I did some of that today, on an emergency basis. I think I managed to put everything back in place before I sutured it up, too.

I make myself useful around the house, fixing minor plumbing issues (much like soft tissue surgery, really), electronics (new flat-screen television to go in the bedroom, larger than the previous tv, which will aid our aging eyes as they attempt to perceive the scrolling print or closed captions), and animal care (just yesterday one of the dogs decided to snap at a bee, only the bee snapped back, better), and various odds/ends.

I make tea.

#96 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:28 PM:

Funny, I just recently wrote about how I feel like our house has been nothing but making. Even my relatively-new job involves lots of tinkering, which satisfies the same part of my brain.

Somewhat new-to-me makings that still feel awkward include bento lunches (though even the ugly food usually tastes good) and more strenuous seamstress-ish work than rectangles and pants hemming, for costumes. And after about 7 years I finally have my guitar living with me again, so I can rediscover just how awkward I am at making music. Fun, though.

#97 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:29 PM:

kate @ #73, Ok, now I Have to take a picture of our very very old Singer (I can't use it, and in fact it may be unusable), but it's still here.

#98 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Cgeye, how do you make your hats? Every time I tell people I start from the brim, they look at me weird. I never got the hang of starting from the top and working wider. Mine work well enough for anemones, though.

#99 ::: Stephen Granade ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:41 PM:

With the help of PVC-adhering spray paint, a dremel tool, and some odds-and-ends, I've been working on a model of the gun from Portal. Eventually it'll show up in a video.

#100 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:43 PM:

#56Would that be a penguin in e.g. Vorkosigan House colours, i.e. brown & silver?

Shouldn't that be Vorbarra house colours? Or did I miss a book?

#101 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:46 PM:

Oh - I also was one of many, many people who helped make the I-5 Colonnade mountain bike skills park in Seattle, which officially opened last weekend (I took some photos of it, which are here).

Abi, this is a wonderful thread! It's so fun to hear about what everyone is doing.

#102 ::: Melissa (oddharmonic) ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 09:57 PM:

Joel @ 74: It's a gateway to candy-making, but I would use tinted candy melts to mold the ears and antenna. If you'd rather build up than pour, you could shape them out of chocolate clay, fondant or marzipan.

Linkmeister @ 96: very old Singers are not terribly hard to bring back into usable condition. Time-consuming, but not too difficult. I found a c. 1915 Singer model 66 treadle in a barn once. I had to pay a woodworking shop to fabricate a broken piece of the cabinet and purchased a new treadle belt, but otherwise it was a lot of rust removal and oiling. It's nice to have for machine quilting while the household is asleep.

As for what I'm making, I'm knocking out a lot of quick, simple baby quilts because it's my husband just started a new job and we need a little more financial cushion to be comfortable between paying rent and his first paycheck.

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:10 PM:

TexAnne, think of grafting as following the stitches with a needle and yarn; it's like running the ends in so they don't show. (It's harder when you're not doing it on stockinette, but not impossible.)

#104 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:22 PM:

Zeynef @ 2

Also there is the total concentration and peace that descends upon one when making something intricate and concrete---if you have one (1) item to completely focus on, and the stress and worries of the outside world may diminish in your mind. I know I actively seek that peace when I work on a calligraphy project.

That's one of the things that is so seductive about programming. Entering that state of flow for long periods of time is more than a bit addictive. It's what keeps me going, even when the project is going badly, and the bugs seem to be winning. As Fred Brooks said, "He builds castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination."
And then one interruption at the wrong time, and the whole construct comes crashing down. Or you leave off a key part of the incantation, and you get eaten by a Grue.

#105 ::: Lynn C ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:26 PM:

Linkmeister @ 96: As Melissa says, very old Singers (are we talking mechanical old or motorized old) are more or less immortal. If you have a mechanical one, and don't want it, pass it on.

(I still have my greatgrandmother's portable chain stitch travel Singer sewing machine, and was boggled when I saw one in a museum. Of course it also was identified as a toy, and I'm not convinced that that was its primary use, although similarly sized working machines were sold as toys later.)

#106 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:27 PM:

I make other people's books, instead of writing them. Editing, layout, selling. Fall is always frantic and fun.

But it's only physical a few times a year when the boxes come in from the printer. The rest of the time I make things in a concrete form by cooking.

Right now I'm experimenting with Indian foods, finding new things to do with beans. I made wonderful mung bean patties last night. Also I've been baking bread, as well as a crostata and a pumpkin loaf. Raspberry jam too. We won't talk about all the Christmas candies that are coming up. But one year we put all our decorated gingerbread men on a table and took a photo of them before we packaged them up. The superman gingerbread men were particularly cute.

#107 ::: Leva Cygnet ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:32 PM:

I have a web site that takes up inordinate amounts of my time, but which I love running, and I love working with the contributors. And I'm pretty happy with the way it's evolving and growing.

Less geeky, I just confirmed today that our community well is in good enough shape with good enough flow for me to put in a vegetable garden. (I'm in the desert, on a well shared with several other homes.) So I will be planting winter vegetables in a few weeks -- just as soon as I can get it fenced and a bunch of mulch down. I've been too sick for a few years to garden, and am looking forward to getting back into it. I LOVE growing stuff!

I also take a medication once a week which knocks me for a complete loop the next day. I write schmoopy fanfiction on that day. Occupying my mind with writing the fanfiction keeps me from feeling too sorry for myself and distracts me from the fact that I'm trying not to urp. *grin* (Plus, the fanfiction makes people happy. And that makes me happy, because then my weekly sick day is not a totally wasted day.)

#108 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:37 PM:

PJ, 102: Yes, but I knit lefthanded, so the generally available explanations don't work for me. And as I said, I can't manage to work Lucy Neatby's trick, I don't know why. By that point in the project, I'm usually just as happy to do a 3NBO and cast on for the next thing anyway.

#109 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:43 PM:

I make a fool of myself with some regularity.

I make faces in the mirror.

I make a good counterexample.

I make people laugh occasionally.

I make myself sick sometimes.

I make my bed about once a month.

I make out with The Boy, or will if he ever comes to my house.

I make up with The Boy when we fight.

I make a fairly comfortable living.

I make phone calls from time to time.

#110 ::: kouredios ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:43 PM:

About three years ago, when my wee one was still quite wee, and I discovered how very much she wanted to never not be touching me, I started making baby slings. They're terribly easy, and terribly functional. I sold them at cost to other young moms I met online, and there are quite a few of them out there in the world now, holding babies.

I want to make more, but my current project of making a PhD for myself is taking up all of my time.

#111 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:45 PM:

I made pesto last week. Food processors are wonderful things! I bought it so I could make marzipan, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

Oh, and I make artisan chocolates. And brownies.

#112 ::: Arachne Jericho ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:55 PM:

@ Niall #43

I didn't think you were endorsing shite practices, actually; I thought you were being tongue-in-cheek. *g* Apologies for not being clear about that.

It's just that every time I think to myself "ARGH my JOB i HATE " I remember why I do like working where I do, and your list reminded me of that. The other weird thing about where I work is that there's enough of a maverick atmosphere that process never feels completely stifling.

Ah, tech industry. Sometimes I wonder why I didn't bugger off to become a beach bum.

#113 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:59 PM:

My problem with hobby programming has always been— since I was a little child, a long damned time ago when the earth was young, minicomputers roamed the plains in vast uncountable herds, and ancient mainframes sat alone, cool and unsympathetic, in the data centers of corporate America— grph, where was I?

My problem with hobby programming has always been that I am forever discovering, several thousand lines into the project, that I started painting in the wrong corner of the room.

#114 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:59 PM:

Just finished a four-piece jewelry suite (pressed pennies) for a professional belly dancer. She's happy--that makes me happy.

And, after counting up on my fingers, have just realized that it's close enough to six months since the last time I read my manuscript that I may dive back in and try one more time to make it something other people might like to read. I was told to wait six months. 430,000 words of unrelated fanfic just barely kept me from going nuts.

#115 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 10:59 PM:

I'm building a Vista-free desktop PC with a fast Core2Quad processor and a half-terabyte RAID-1 array from components sourced from online auction sites.

The PC will run 24/7, crunching numbers for the World Community Grid and hopefully help in the development of new treatments for AIDS, cancer, dengue fever and muscular dystrophy.

In the backyard I am growing cocksfoot, ryegrass, brome, clover, chickory and plantain in vermicompost for my pet rabbits. The contents of the litterbox go into the compost bins and will eventually cycle through worms to produce more potting media to grow more food and so on.

The small carnivorous plant colony I established in winter is now in a growth spurt: new pitchers and flowers for the Sarracenias, and new traps and flower stalks for the Dionaeas. The pitchers already contain flies but the traps are still virgin.

#116 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 11:05 PM:

Oooh, carnivorous plants. A friend of mine is trying not to kill a pitcher plant she bought mostly on impulse. I'm always on the lookout for a sundew, because those seem to be the least immediately-dying of the chompy plants. Besides, then I would have something to do with the fruit flies that come from my worm bin besides curse them.

#117 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 11:20 PM:

I should add that writing what Mr. Stross calls a Big Lie above was a much more satisfying thing ultimately, because it was one of the few projects I've done where I was more satisfied than not with it when I finished.

I should write more and code less.

#118 ::: little light ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 11:31 PM:

I'm tinkering with family recipes that I'm only just learning: molé poblano, Pinoy adobo, fessenjun. And then making, and eating. It's going well, so far. I think I won a potluck the other day.

My pie-in-the-sky project I've just started is a (probably-mock-)stained-glass window commemorating my impending marriage, and that's an interesting set of challenges and puzzles to play with for a while.

#119 ::: Elyse Grasso ::: (view all by) ::: September 16, 2008, 11:46 PM:

I'm learning to cook food I can eat, despite the fact that I was recently diagnosed with some annoying food allergies that make planning menus a challenge. (Cows' milk, egg yolks, and malt. There is malt flour in the vast majority of commercial baked goods. Breakfasts and desserts are problematic.)

Starting next week I will be doing it on a gas stove (not quite professional grade) after a lifetime of cooking on electric. The plumber just plumbed the kitchen for the gas stove today.

#120 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:10 AM:

Lucy: One of the things I'm working on is workshops, can I send you a line asking some questions about logistics/planning?

#121 ::: Ariel ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:10 AM:

Ah, making. I've come to the conclusion that given infinite time and funds, I want to learn how to make everything. Except perhaps poetry. I never quite caught that bug. And, oddly, I couldn't tell you why; I just love to create things.

I make chocolate semi-professionally; it's a little hobby business, but I mostly do it to pay for supplies to do more cool things. Today's challenge was to make a bar people would want to eat titled "Ignorance should be painful."

I'm making my first suit of armor, and am already trying to figure out how to afford to make suit #2 in order to learn from my mistakes. I should probably finish the breastplate first.

I make furniture, at least the kind that comes from Ikea. ;)

I'm learning to make pretty things out of leather, as well as large armory things.

I make lovely calligraphy pieces, but they're rather embarassingly late because I tend to mess up on the final draft because I do something idiotic like listen to music and then get demoralized and abandon them.

I make giant piles of unfinished craft projects. ;) Currently including one quilt, four skirts, two needlepoint pieces, a scale mail purse, scale mail armor, a lilac leather halter top, some jewelry, some calligraphy, some illumination, and a whole lot of "I'm sure this would be really neat when I come up with a use for it" supplies. And that's just what I can remember off of the top of my head.

And, in general, I make myself happy. Isn't crafting fun?

#122 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:23 AM:

I'm learning to make new pilots. I'm fairly sure I know how to fly (the bits of paper from the goverment seem to indicate this) but learning how to cause other people to fly is a whole new thing.

I'm also learning how to experiment in the kitchen again. I spent most of the past year with roommates who thought Kraft Dinner was a culinary accomplishment, and that sort of attitude is incredibly contagious and depressing. Chicken curry is my current obsession - having a roommate who's actually from India, and a good cook, being the proximate cause of this.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:25 AM:

Tania @ 50... I'm working on my coding and analytical skills so I can change into a job

You're a shapeshifter?

#124 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:30 AM:

I'm a bit proud of having made this. I had never done anything like it, and I improvised a lot, but it worked out.

#125 ::: Nona ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:31 AM:

I'm working on a lace shawl and getting back into the swing of drawing on a regular basis. Also, I'm scouring thrift stores for costume pieces-- although I seem to be turning up more in the way of really cute everyday clothes, and am really not inclined to complain about that. Yesterday, I scored two adorable dresses and a bag of old buttons, in addition to the cowboy hat and bandanna I'd actually been looking for.

I've also got a half-filled bobbin of singles staring reproachfully at me from my spinning wheel, and a YA novel I'm plugging away at. The sewing machine and the jewelry-making supplies aren't in rotation at the moment, but I'm sure the spirit will move me sooner or later.

#126 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:51 AM:

When I inherited the maintenance of my wife's site, I knew nothing about HTML. I made myself learn, by observing what happened when I did this or that. That's not unlike the way my dad became a mechanic when he was 15.

#127 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:54 AM:

Anall nathrach, oorfas bethud, dorhiel dienvay

#128 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:09 AM:

Liza @ 28

How is making music from someone else's melody any less creative than making a dress from someone else's pattern, or a meal from someone else's recipes? In every one of those cases something is created, something that can be sensed and appreciated in some way, something that one or more people can use and//or enjoy. And in all those cases the making can be a joyous thing for the maker. Of course it's creative!

#129 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:10 AM:

I'm making a little Google screenscraper/concordancer in Python so dreadful that I am ashamed as yet to show it to anyone, despite the fact that I would surely learn much from doing so, but it's against their TOS so I must be discreet.

I'm also trying to restore (?) an abandoned daidai orchard on a hill near where I live (they make excellent marmalade, if a little on the strong side for some). And find out who it belongs to, so I can ask for permission, which would be polite.

#130 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:30 AM:

I make software professionally, though it's not quite so much a bleeding edge, creative kind of work as it once was. Outside of work, I'm making an album of wedding pictures for my younger son, and starting to get back into making photographs generally, something I've done on and off most of my life. I've recently been doing some photoshop work, taking images and putting them into worlds that don't exist. And I've been writing poetry semi-regularly lately. Maybe most useful of all, I'm finally starting to make a web presence for mayself out of 2 blogs and 3 twisty websites, all different.

Buried here on the hard disk of my computer is a novel that's been (ever so slowly) taking shape for the last few months. It may never be read by anyone else, but I've discovered I like making stories, and I'll probably keep doing it.

I cook about half of our meals, but it's not something I'm really creative at; it needs to be done. And together with Eva I've had a hand in making 2 human beings and 5 dogs be good inhabitants of the world.

It seems like most of the things I make these days are somewhat abstract, or at least somewhat non-physical. Maybe when I retire I'll get back into making physical things as I once did, like furniture or electronic gear, or models.

Making things has always seemed sort of central to human life to me; I've had a fondness for the myth of Hephaestos since I first read of him. I've had this image in my head for years of a big burly guy in a leather smock pulling molten stuff out of a furnace and turning it into code.

#131 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:38 AM:

Work . . . I'm doing nothing creative at work. Not even scripts or how-to guides. I'm watching videos and filing bugs. It is awful.

Until a couple of weeks back I was working on a text adventure after hours. Hit a sort of morale and motivation brick wall. I'll get back to it. I need to think about some of the characters.

Made two cakes, from mix, on Sunday, for co-workers. This is easy and fun and very much appreciated.

I'm building, or more accurately finishing (filler, primer, paint) a few model rockets. Big launch on Saturday.

#132 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:43 AM:

Joel, #74, how about a half-sphere cake pan? Make two, ice together, and cut the mouth out (and eat).

Oh, what we're making now. Well, I agreed to make a necklace for a cab from a lampworker who is trying to expand her line. The problem is that the cab is way too thick, and ugly (and I picked the best of four). The bigger problem is that I made a beautiful bezel (new technique!) and am almost done with the beautiful necklace and I'm worried she'll think the cab is beautiful and make more and try to sell them.

I have an almost finished crocheted black and red scarf/hat thing to go with my red & black winter coat. My weight has stabilized recently, so maybe I'll be wearing it, but when I was losing regularly, I was thinking it could go with the coat to the charity store.

I have a baby playmat to crochet. I designed the pattern and am ready to go but haven't had time yet. I plan to have it done by Christmas, though.

I'd really like to make some jewelry for myself soon, since I've been making so many things for other people.

I have several political non-jewelry beading projects I'd like to work on.

And I have at least two dozen jewelry projects set up to do -- many are from swaps, but some are ideas I got.

Oh, and I have two pieces finished and one partly made for the jewelry auction next year to benefit folks with an unusual form of cancer.

#133 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:54 AM:

Now, me, I'm working on getting to be a lighting designer. Also on photographic projects and on lighting simulation software. And I keep meaning to start a jewelry project...

BTW, I see beginner mistakes all over the web. A lot of the people who make them will never improve their skills. So don't worry about your own beginner mistakes. Just--get better, OK?

#134 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:58 AM:

Devin, belatedly; if you can find back issues of Threads (some online), they frequently run summaries of different systems for thinking about 'the 3D thing'.

I make mathematical models, but my current one makes no sense. Or: I make plot(z). Pfui.

#135 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:00 AM:

Oh, and here's a piece of info for beginning software designers: "Programming is too hard, and it takes too long." That, from Brian Kernighan, one of the greats of the field.

#136 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:02 AM:

L'esprit de l'escalier seems to be speaking up lately...

Abi, oh, and being afraid of being overwhelmed by details is a good place for software engineers to start--mastering complexity is one of the keys to the art.

#137 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:26 AM:

I've been relearning knitting (properly; Mom gave us kids the essentials, but her own repertoire of skills was lacking; she rarely used the purl stitch, much less anything "trickier"). My training project is a ball made from 6 panels: 3 solid color, 3 striped with white. The completed part can be seen here. (Actually, a fourth panel is done but the remaining panels are the ones it attaches to; the fifth panel is about 3/4 done.) When the panels are (almost) completely sewed together, I will turn it right side out, stuff fiberfill into the remaining hole, and sew it shut. Then it becomes a cat toy; cats don't care about the bobbles I ran into as I worked on it.

So this project gets me not just simple stockinette stitch, but also simple increases and decreases, and knitting multiple yarns for stripes. When I get done I'm going to see if I can knit something for one or more of my sister's kids.

#138 ::: K. G. Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:36 AM:

I'm making beef stew to take to a friend's family tomorrow; she's recovering from neurosurgery and can't cook yet.

The man I'm seeing came over as I was starting the stew. He browned the beef while I peeled and cubed the potatoes. After we got the stew going we mopped up the beef drippings with French bread and snacked on that. Yum.

Much more fun making things with someone you love.

#139 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:49 AM:

I'm making an online comic strip.
And a sign for my good friend the tarot reader.
And an interstellar spaceship (in Lightwave).
And another dozen arrows.

At work I occasionally get to make cool software, but I work in a job I don't really care about.

I make people laugh, too, and that may be the most important thing I'll ever do. I'm cool with that.

#140 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:50 AM:

I'm currently "making" my way through THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER. Okay, so that's a twist on the word's meaning that you may not've intended. Even so, my co-workers (I work in telecom) either cringe and slink away when they learn that I'm reading a science fiction or fantasy novel (which is most often the case), or they marvel at just how *much* I read.

Today, however, when it was learned that I was reading TOM SAWYER, I was asked, "Haven't you read that already?" "Sure," I said. "Back when I was in high school." "And that wasn't enough?" "No," I replied. I continued: "I've had a huge desire lately to read more of the classics." She knew this, because I've shown her books I've read recently, from THE ODYSSEY to THE ILIAD (she had some interesting comments on those selections, since she's half Greek) to JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH to FRANKENSTEIN to BILLY BUDD AND THE PIAZZA TALES† (the book I just finished "making" my way through before starting TOM SAWYER) to Sophocles' OEDIPUS THE KING, OEDIPUS AT COLONUS, and ANTIGONE, and more. Among those next on my list: THE INFERNO, A ROOM WITH A VIEW (I really enjoyed Forster's ASPECTS OF THE NOVEL, so I'm looking forward to reading ROOM), A TALE OF TWO CITIES (I read OLIVER TWIST not too terribly long ago), and THE AENEID. To continue, I said to my co-worker, "Haven't you ever reread a book?" "Sure." Despite her response, I didn't dare tell her that I reread each of the HARRY POTTER books before each of the sequels came out, or that I've read Asimov's FOUNDATION novels umpteen times, or C. S. Lewis's CHRONICLES OF NARNIA just as many times, or that about three years ago I spent two months "making" my way through WAR AND PEACE, as well as several other Russian novels.

When I'm not "making" my way through whatever book I have in hand, though, I'm trying to "make" the quality of a certain company's cellular network better for our customers (when hurricanes aren't frustrating those efforts).

I'm also currently in the midst of an "office makeover", where I've painted two of my home office's bland, white walls turquoise bead, and all the trim twig basket. I've bought new bookshelves, a couple of CD towers, a new floor lamp, an external computer monitor to connect to my iBook (I couldn't stand being stuck with only 12" of screen space any longer!), a new printer (purchased during my recent visit to NYC, at B+H Photo at 9th & 34th; I got a wide-angle lens for my camera while I was there, too; I absolutely LOVE that store!), a flat-screen TV (I watch a lot of movies and old, favourite TV shows on DVD - all of the old FIREFLY shows, recently, as well as the first episodes of X-FILES - in my office, but no cable TV). It's an ambitious and on-going project (as it also involves completely revamping my filing system and much more), but I do hope to have it finished soon.

In the wings, I've two courses from the wonderful folks at The Teaching Company that I will be going through soon: Classical Mythology and The History of the English Language.

Finally, when I'm not employed in the endeavors listed above, I spend a good block of my free time in the act of writing poems, short stories, and novels.

Those are the sorts of things I'm "making" at the moment.

† One co-worker (and friend), who is extremely well-read in science fiction and fantasy, when he learned that I was reading Herman Melville's BILLY BUDD AND THE PIAZZA TALES, made the comment, "You're a braver man than I am." He continued to say that he absolutely loathes reading anything he was forced to read in school. For myself, I honestly don't recall ever hating to read anything in any of my English classes, but I was also the sort of fellow who used my elective course choices in high school to take MORE English classes. As a result, I took the equivalent of six years of English during my four years in high school. I'm also of the opinion that while you may have loathed being forced to read something (perfectly understandable), you may find that you enjoy, or even love, the book when you're reading it of your own volition. Therefore, I don't see why such books shouldn't be given a second chance post-high school or post-college.

#141 ::: Mr. Velocipede ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:53 AM:

Wow, everyone is making such wonderful stuff! I'm deeply impressed by anyone who can produce wearable clothing.

I'm making a woodcut portrait of Gaston Julia, and a series of paper-maché spheres which will have things inside to look at. Possibly including prints of the woodcut.

#142 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:01 AM:

Joel Polowin #74:
They are terribly cute! And the backstory too.

odaiwai #99:
On account of Gregor Vorbarra being the Emperor of Barrayar?

I'm still uncertain if Vorbarra House colours are red & blue. This casts some doubt, though the cover of "A Civil Campaign" shows Gregor & Imperial guard in red & blue, there was a suggestion that those are not Vorbarra colours. But they definitely are Imperial colours*.

*I've just descended into LMB geekness haven't I?

#143 ::: Arthur D. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:02 AM:

At the moment, making a Drupal website.

Marilee@4, "I think most creative efforts are really just forms of logistics. Thinking through how and when and what, and then doing that."

I've often thought this as well. I've liked to think that if I focused and worked on one thing for a few months, I could get pretty good at it, like knitting.

#144 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:22 AM:

Thanks to Serge I have been stuck all evening with an image of a chain mail clad Helen Mirren. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

#145 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:23 AM:

Melissa @ #101, Lynn @ #104, It's motorized, probably circa 1915, still in its half-circle box with cover.

One of the unfortunate things about living in Hawai'i is that we don't have the number of artisans who can repair old things such that the price of such repairs would be manageable.

When I mutter about things like that, I'm usually told "yes, but you have beaches!" True, but. . .

#146 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:54 AM:

Having never successfully knit anything in my life, I am knitting socks. Why socks? They're small, portable, engaging, useful. I have made myself one pair in plain stockinette, and made a sock-and-a-bit for my daughter in a much slower mock cable. I learnt a huge amount about knitting in a few days with the help of the internet; more than I could ever have learnt from my mother.

Clay Shirky has an excellent article (actually, speech turned into article) about human endeavour and the way in which we use television as a sponge to soak up all our spare supplies of endeavour. I have rather more hobbies and activities than appears to be average, and my standard explanation to 'but where do you find the time' is that I use the time I'm not spending watching television.

I believe that we are starting to move away from the age of mass production, broadcast and consumption; globalisation of markets means that it is already almost as easy to link up with a producer of the exactly perfect handmade item you want, as to go to a shop and buy a mass-produced item that's not quite right. Turns out that the price is often very similar too, once you remove all the middlemen.

#147 ::: Juliet E McKenna ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:39 AM:

Husband bought me a clarinet, at my request, so I can do something that is mentally stimulating but not the book writing. Er, still needing to find time to get round to that properly...

I also have a tin of stuff for making cross-stitch bookmarks which occasionally gets opened. I have learned not to embark on larger projects these days.

After a summer of major house redecorations, I will shortly be making curtains in some quantity.

I shall use my electric sewing machine rather than the hand-cranked Singer that was a wedding present given to my favourite great aunt in 1919, and left to me in her will along with all her knitting needles and crochet hooks. So every time I do such handicrafts, I think of her, which is lovely.

The Singer machine still works a treat. I and various pals made a lot of clothes with it when I was a student, up to and including ball gowns. It has all the original attachments, like the special foot for making frills for caps, and the instructions which explain what needles are required for eg opera cloaks, corsetry etc, and warn about the hazards of stitching whalebone.

#148 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:06 AM:

Ideas: far too many, including the skills to execute some of them.

After a hiatus, I recently started sewing for myself again. A big source of motivation was a dress form I received for Christmas, and (finally!) decent space to set my sewing machine up. I got my feet wet with a summer dress, featuring both lining and a zipper -- scary, but highly successful.

My VIP WIP* at the moment is a knitted waistcoat which I am designing. It features Fair Isle with a graphic I thought up, and pointed front hem. It will not be what I envisioned (made some mistakes with the colors), but it may turn out to be fine just the same. If that's not a successful adventure, what is?

I really wouldn't want to (have to) make everything in my life, but I simply couldn't imagine living without creating things. And sometimes, adding an extra touch to the mundane (hello, dinner prep) is what makes it bearable.


#149 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:46 AM:

I'm laying plans for NaNoWriMo.

I think it will involve furries, the Orient Express, vile Nazis, secret plans, heroic anarchists, and jumping out of perfectly servicable seaplanes while over jungle-covered islands.

The research is interesting.


I have just wasted half the morning looking for drill bits which my father has tidied up. And put somewhere different from the drill, and the old, worn-out, drill bits.

#150 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 06:49 AM:

Ginger #94: 'I make puns... I make tea'. And you reside in a teepee?

#151 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:43 AM:

Chocolate brown linen jumper? Wasn't there something in a thread just recenty about edible clothing?

Picture, please.

#152 ::: odaiwai ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:14 AM:

Soon Lee @141

odaiwai #99: On account of Gregor Vorbarra being the Emperor of Barrayar?

Of course. Of course, thinking about it now, I'm not sure there's a connection between his family name and the fact that he's the emperor.

I'm still uncertain if Vorbarra House colours are red & blue. This casts some doubt, though the cover of "A Civil Campaign" shows Gregor & Imperial guard in red & blue, there was a suggestion that those are not Vorbarra colours. But they definitely are Imperial colours*.

I haven't read ACC a while, but I think you're right about the distinction.

obTopic, I'm currently Making Room for a nice big monitor from Dell to be delivered on Friday. The Macbook screen is feeling a little small...

#153 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:21 AM:

I'm making one of these, and if anyone cares to look at the plan, it's here.

I'm also thinking of making a little network in my house, so that the WLAN is usable in the garden, and there will be jacks in the walls for when I get around to ripping all my CDs onto a big hard disk. Maybe I'll learn how to tie up cables properly.

#154 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:49 AM:

What I'm currently making is no progress at all on my motion to dismiss. Ah, well.

I am trying to free up some time in my schedule to start writing again. And I've been trying to cook things *from scratch.*

BTW, re Terry at #5: Folks, if you want something nice for the wall, REALLY, Terry is the bomb. I bought a very fabulous matted print of a spectacular photo of a blue-footed booby and a lizard. It looks AMAZING on my wall. Once I get the budget sorted out again I'm going to save up for 2 more that sort of "match."

#155 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:52 AM:

Tania @ 143... Humph. Lots of people would thank me for the chance to be stuck all evening with an image of a chain mail clad Helen Mirren.

#156 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:52 AM:

My impression of Barrayaran colors and families was that, way back when, there were the big families, Kosigan, Barra, etc. Planet's named after the Barras, like Sergyar is named after Serg. This is connected to the fact that the Vorbarras are in charge, or at least as in charge as possible. House Vorbarra's colors are red and blue. If the Vorkosigans took over, the Imperial colors would then be brown and silver-- which is why, in Barrayar, Aral is annoyed that his men are using Vorkosigan colors to mark themselves. That counts as a bid for Emperor in his eyes.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:54 AM:

I made one of these for Tania, and one for Lance Weber. Luckily, neither of them had to cross the Canadian border with it.

#158 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:55 AM:

I'm making this shawl in a pale gray.

And the same sweater Nancy just made. And I'm making up (on paper now, soon on needles) a vest for my husband, inspired by his civil engineering work.

And I'm making excuses about why I haven't finished making the chapter that the publisher wants to send out for peer review.

And making plans for my daughter's 3rd birthday on Friday.

#159 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:12 AM:

We were actually just talking about this last night in my writing group (for which I need to think about making something soon); a friend of mine there said she was having a hard time explaining to her mom why she'd write something without intending to have it published, because her mom has no maker's impulse at all. I think there's actually something like a language barrier between people who create stuff and people who don't, because the impulses are almost impossible to convey to someone who doesn't share them. And they really boil down, for me, to "because it wasn't there."

These days, I've started making cigar box guitars. My first one has already been released into the wild (it was a silent auction item in a party over Labor Day weekend), but there are parts in my garage for a two-string bass and a three-string guimbiri-banjo that have been talking to me for a while.

#160 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:19 AM:

Actually, after 20 years of racing bicycles and 10 years of working in bike shops, I'm learning how to build frames. I signed up for a class for this coming spring, and will be learning to design, shape tubes, and weld frames. I could not possibly be more excited.

(And this is after years and years as a full-time electron pusher.)

#161 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:24 AM:

I'm making a woodland garden, mostly with native plants. It will be a loooong project, since I am starting a lot of the plants from local seed. A couple of two-year old pawpaw trees will be ready to go in the ground this autumn, and I just planted some dogwood and fringe tree seeds. Seeds on my lone red buckeye are almost ready to harvest, and I've got my eye on an American Holly at the back of the property which will provide seed as soon as the berries are ripe. Apparently, I'll be waiting five to nine years for the holly seedlings to flower.

#162 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:26 AM:

I'm about 60% of the way through the prototype for a sweater pattern I'm putting together; I have yet to have enough of it done to determine whether it fits.

There are of course two or three socks on the needles around here somewhere.

I have fabric for two skirts and a dress, but lacking a functional sewing machine there's not much I can do--I put together a skirt by hand last winter, and all I can say is I'm not doing that again.

I'm working on a conlang from which I will then derive other conlangs.

At Pennsic I broke down and bought a drop spindle and some roving. I'm not buying a wheel, though.

I really should finish putting together that warping frame.

I'm 16 pages into a sequel to Shakespeare's "As You Like It".

My boyfriend and I are doing a prequel to "Much Ado About Nothing". Glad to see we aren't the only ones with that much hubris... :)

#163 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:30 AM:

Lately I've been making other people do stuff, which is... actually really satisfying. (Where "stuff" = creative things they want to do but for whatever reason need a push to get started.)

I made a website for my husband; I've resumed making a faroese shawl that I started nearly two years ago; and I bought the materials to make a cardigan, because I want a) a new knitting project and b) a cardigan. (Since I generally just make socks, combining these two desires is a startling idea to me, although I realize it's one most people would answer with a resounding, "duh".)

I would like to make a particular outfit, but the people I loaned my sewing machine to seem to have disappeared it. I do hope they didn't sell it, because I know they have no idea how much it's worth (50-year-old Singer in fantistic condition), but I also know not to loan things unless I'm willing for them to become gifts, so oh well.

Oh, and I finally sewed up, wrapped, and gave (on a 100-degree day, no less!) the snuggly wool baby sweater that was theoretically for my friend's baby shower. Said baby is now a fat and happy 9 months old, but I made the 1-year size, so it's all good.

#164 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:32 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 112

Modulo the roaming minicomputers, my problem with hobby coding was the same. My professional experience is that any successful product gets designed, built, and thrown away at least thrice, and I just don't have the time and patience to do that when no one else is footing the bill. So the last time I worked on a personal project of any real interest was also the last time I was unemployed for any length of time. I spent a couple of weeks trying to automate some models of mid-20th century interactive abstract animation systems* using Smalltalk and the Morphic graphic geometry system in it. This is probably as esoteric as polyadic n-calculi, but a lot less useful in the long run.

* Google "John Whitney" for one example, "Abstract Animation" for a lot of links to definitions and other examples of the genre.

#165 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:35 AM:

Fragano @ 149

Ginger lives in a house made of toilet paper?

#166 ::: Jack Kincaid ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:55 AM:

I am learning how to sew sound.

#167 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:57 AM:

Nick @ # 160, where are you located? I'm in Georgia and am trying to find someone who grows pawpaws near me. I've been thinking about planting pawpaws to fill in the gaps where we've lost some of our oaks, but would like to taste the fruit first before I put in several years of effort on something that turns out to be yucky.

Carrie S. @ #161, I'd love to see that when you get it done. Will be glad to swap! (If I ever get mine done.)

#168 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:05 AM:

Bruce (STM) and Fragano: Yes. Now you know why my language is generally so clean.

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:11 AM:

"Must get lonely here, J.F."
"Not really. I make friends. They're toys. My friends are toys. I make them. It's a hobby. I'm a genetic designer."

#170 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Lila @ #166,

I'm in North Carolina. The seeds came from a friend who recently moved to Montana, so I no longer have access to his tree.

I've never tasted a pawpaw either. Not many people around here grow them, and they don't turn up at the local farmers' markets. I'm hoping that I'll like them if/when my trees fruit, but if not, well they're attractive trees and wild animals apparently love the fruit.

I'm thinking about planting some serviceberries and maybe a mayhaw for more wild fruit goodness, but I suspect that I'm too far inland to get good results with a mayhaw. Late frosts would probably blast the flowers.

#171 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:15 AM:

Yet Another Programmer here. I'm making my way through the remaining tasks for my current job, so that I can start a new one in a week and a half. With luck and hard work, I'll have a week off in the middle. My son is making music, and (electric) guitars to make music on, so I'm making (well, remaking) a shed for him to work in, and reviving a twenty year-old hobby making electronics to go in and around the guitars. If I manage to get the week off, I'll be making a program so that I can make some effects for a fan film that we've been making for the last two and a half years. And today I received an email thanking me for an open-source program that I made some time ago. And that made me very happy.

#172 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:15 AM:

I make furniture out of wood, sometimes from reclaimed lumber out of old homes, sometimes from new wood. I've made five toyboxes for pregnant friends of mine, several tables for our own use, built a library/office to keep all our books in and give my wife a place to work in privacy, a jewelry box for my nephew's wife for a wedding gift, a recipe box for my assistant at work when she got married, and several smaller items.

People keep asking me if I sell the things I make, or if I would make something for them to buy from me. Every time I've said I wouldn't do it; making these things is as enjoyable for me as it is to give them away, and making them for money would, I think, spoil that enjoyment.

I've made a website showing some of my better items here if anyone's interested in looking at them.

#173 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:23 AM:

I wasn't about to pay $150 for a pawpaw--there has been one at Lexington Gardens which is closing forever on October 4, waaaaaaaaaa! which may or may not still be there, for sale. Even marked down 40% I was buying... if still there it would be down to $75 now.

I do have serviceberries. They're very seedy.

Somewhere in the area is one or more American chestnut trees with viable pollen, which insects have pollinated my Chinese chestnut with. I know because there are hybrid chestnut tree seedlings in my yard--which alas one or more species of small mammal chew up in the winter.

#174 ::: Megan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:26 AM:

I've been knitting lately. Last night I cast on a Fibonacci-inspired Death Hat.

#175 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:43 AM:


Ouch, that's a lot of money for a single plant of a species that usually isn't self-fertile.

#176 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:46 AM:

I need to resume making eBay listings :b without which I can't justify adding more backlog to my pile of strung beadage. In addition to just forcing myself back into the blurb-writing mindset, that also requires (re)taking/tweaking some photos under UV lighting and otherwise-- frex, the pix here looked fine when I was individually normalizing the white parts of their backgrounds, but in direct juxtaposition they look overmanipulated; I'll have to find some way to keep the black portions standardized as well.

Unfortunately, I've still been continuing to buy more beads. They're everywhere. At least some of them are being directly funnelled into commissioned projects, but I'm also behind on those :b :b

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:55 AM:

This mirrors my own current problems with learning to program. I have the same feeling of being overwhelmed by all the details, the same anxiety about messing up and looking foolish, the same utter loathing of the first, clumsy products of a half-aquired skill, displayed before the discerning gaze of experts.

You'll do fine. You can find what is wrong with other people's work, you'll know where to look for what could go wrong with your own programs.

#179 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:00 AM:

Lately I've been "making" Ringtones for the iPhone. It's strange to describe that as "making," though, when really it's a subtractive effort...take a piece of music you (or someone who requests it) loves, and find the piece of it that's best to keep, removing all the rest. I console myself with the idea that editing is certainly a creative process, and that is (in some sense) what I am doing.

Now that the weather is allowing time to work in my garage, again, there are several woodworking projects that need my attention. First is completing a speaker re-finishing project (which is not so much woodworking as it is painting, really), but then I get to build myself a TV stand, which should be interesting. That will be my biggest woodworking project since...well, since Middle School shop class. I look forward to it and am nervous at the same time.

#180 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:29 AM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) #164: You're on a roll.

#181 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:51 AM:

If I made a ringtone, it would probably be a line from a Coolio rap song that reads "I hear Earl coming, I think I'm in trouble". heh.

#182 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:59 AM:

I just finished my first pair of socks. They are simple in design, but pleasingly stripey. They are also not really the same size, because I was learning how to rejigger sock patterns into men's sizes as I went; I am assured that asymmetry is entirely common among first socks. Am canvassing my friends to see if any of them have nonmatching feet.

#183 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:10 PM:

J.H. Woodyatt @ 112
My problem with hobby programming has always been that I am forever discovering, several thousand lines into the project, that I started painting in the wrong corner of the room.

Yeah, this. Not that that's stopping me from doing logistical planning for an Intel Mac Mini and a iPod Touch - I already have the developer's kit, but it won't run on my Powerbook.

Let's see. Currently in planning to build a cheap Scout rifle for hunting purposes (and fun, and teach myself some gunsmithing), and a competition rifle for CMP match shooting (although I may just pony up and buy the CMP gun - cheaper one way, shooting sooner the other).

Working on a website that I need to finish/get to some semblance of "done enough". Writing. doing some work on a couple of projects that could turn into a revenue source in the gaming side of things. Cooking when I feel the energy (not often enough, these days).

#184 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:11 PM:

The trouble with making things is you need room to do it. So I don't get to do it as much when I live in a small apartment with a roommate who is critical of my being messy.

#185 ::: Zed Lopez ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:16 PM:

I'm about to embark on a series of courses culminating in how to make your own bike frame. Usually I just make code and prose and I'm excited about actually creating a physical object (and a useful one, even.)

#186 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:20 PM:

Alison Scott mentions, at 145, the way television soaks up endeavor. In my case, television (and radio) are the things that keep me at work on the boring parts (or, you know, most) of a project instead of wandering off and reading instead- just as, back when I was in my becoming educated phase, drawing illustrations for my lecture notes or doing crochet, embroidery, or needlepoint (all impossible now due to hand damage) in seminar kept me focussed enough to attend to learning.

#187 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:40 PM:

What am I making these days?

I am very close to finishing a ten-year-old cross-stitch kit, pretty much on principle, since I don't actually like the design any more and am not sure what I'll do with it when I'm done.

I am preparing to resume making blog posts on a chapter-by-chapter re-read of _Lord of the Rings_.

But I suspect that the truest answer to "what I am making these days" is "milk for SteelyKid."

#188 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:40 PM:

I've been unMaking, lately. What else can you call packing up many books, taking down 80% of the bookshelves, and otherwise not allowing yourself to actually make anything because the other thing that always gets made is a Mess?

(I have several sewing projects that are reasonably stalled for two reasons: I can't spread anything out on the dining table in case someone wants to see the house, and I've lost some weight since I bought the patterns, and expect to lose more. [More Unmaking.] Since I don't normally have a great relationship with the measurement tables anyway, it's all too difficult even to contemplate.)

What I have been doing is Making Clean. This is an incredibly ephemeral and all-consuming project. I would love to go back to sloth, making Things, and large cooking projects. I have just now resolved to tempt fate by making pizza from scratch for Friday night.

#189 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:45 PM:

I am gleeful, because I have been wanting to make new wooden'n'glass cold frames this year before the weather turns, but frightened by the price of plywood, and then someone posted FREE LUMBER! on Craigslist yesterday, and in the dead of night, we drove over and filled (filled!) our trunk with wonderful usable non-nailfilled wood that's going to work fabulously!

So, I haven't started Making yet, but this weekend is going to be full of the noise of sawing and nailing. Yippee!

#190 ::: Lillian ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:53 PM:

Making jewelry for upcoming shows; I have applications into several Christmas shows that I've had mixed results getting accepted to.

#191 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 12:57 PM:

G D Townshende #139: I'm also of the opinion that while you may have loathed being forced to read something (perfectly understandable), you may find that you enjoy, or even love, the book when you're reading it of your own volition.

That's exactly what happened to me when I recently took part in a marathon reading of Ethan Frome (here's the ad for the event). I had hated the book in high school, and was only participating grudgingly because a friend had organized the reading. And then I ended up loving it and immediately re-read it on my own. Who knew?

Alison Scott #145: Clay Shirky has an excellent article (actually, speech turned into article) about human endeavour

We had a quite interesting discussion of that speech here.

#192 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:09 PM:

At work: preparing learning materials for training sessions on using our IOLS.

Outside work:
Learning to make better photographs (I'm off to a week's workshop on the shores of Loch Lomond next week).

Designing my own cross-stitch using my photographs.

Figuring out what to do with the MOUNTAIN of yarn I inherited from agreat-aunt who was a great knitter (I also got a slew of embroidered hankies and knitted brown "lady" gloves from her). Speaking of which: easy pattern for a scarf or and afghan or something I don't have to make sleeves for, anyone?

#193 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:21 PM:

Slowly building/designing a wargame. An excuse to do amazing numbers of library visits and research.

#194 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:22 PM:

I am knitting, like most people. Right now, a big scarf/little shawl in lovely purple-pink yarn, and the final touches on a not-at-all-flattering sweater that I'm finishing out of pure spite. My boyfriend and I are collaborating on a hat: he draws it, I figure out how to make yarn do those things.

I am in the middle of making kheer, our own adaptation of Alton Brown's recipe. It is very far from India now. Cardamom and vanilla are the best of friends, did you know? Soon it will be time to figure out what to make when my parents visit this weekend. Last time we did German fondue and strawberry shortcake; this time I'm leaning toward lasagna and brownies (AB's recipe again -- Alton Brownies, we call them, if our mouths aren't too full to speak. Decrease the sugar, increase the cocoa and salt, and don't melt the butter all the way).

I'm writing a story about the aftermath of the traditional fantasy-hero narrative, and in theory I'm writing a novel with a complex and engrossing protagonist, but she just keeps getting boringer and boringer, so I don't know. I am, I fear, taking out my frustrations on the current stack of dismal freshman essays -- the making here being "making teenagers cry".

#195 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:30 PM:

Skwid @ #178 I like making ringtones specific to my friends. I think of it as repurposing. And.. It was great to meet you in Denver!

Serge, I'm not sure how I feel about it because there are soooo many other less pleasant things than images of Helen Mirren that I could have stuck in my head.

#196 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Oh yeah— there is also this 5-gallon carboy full of blackberry pseudo-Lambic that needs to go in bottles this goddamn weekend or it'll probably have to be poured down the drain.

#197 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Emma @191 - if you're not already a member of Ravelry, I suggest joining. Their pattern search is a superb way to browse interesting stuff to knit, and you can often see finished projects from tons of creative people, giving you instant answers to things like "how it will look in brown?" or "what happens if I add stripes?" Plus folks post their experiences, so you can find out if the pattern is good/tricky/error-filled/etc.

If you can't wait four days for a membership (their turnaround time last time I checked, although it was measured in months when I joined, and I'm sayin' that was worth it, so sign up now even if you need a pattern before you can get in), I also recommend - good for finding popular patterns and seeing what people think of them. Oh, and Knitting Pattern Central for finding free patterns, although it lacks commentary.

#198 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:49 PM:

Earl Cooley III, #180: If I made a ringtone, it would probably be a line from a Coolio rap song that reads "I hear Earl coming, I think I'm in trouble". heh.

If you have an MP3 of the song, and you use iTunes, it's really, really easy to make it into a ringtone. You can e-mail it to all your friends!

#199 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 01:57 PM:

Joel Polowin @ #42: yes, but are to googly eyes *edible*!?

#200 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:01 PM:

--Recently finished a TLAR shawl and will attempt to dye it using a watercolor painting process.
--Just finished knitting up a hat and now need to block it.
--Currently trying to figure out how to embroider tulle.
--Making order out of chaos by entering my personal library into a database as I unpack my books
--Researching cookbooks.
--venting lots of mutters because I sprained my right arm.

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Tania @ 194... there are soooo many other less pleasant things than images of Helen Mirren that I could have stuck in my head

Indeed. Robert Addie, for example.

#202 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:10 PM:

Jacque @ 198: but are to googly eyes *edible*!?

Yes. The original instructions for making edible googly eyes are here, and I adapted the process for more general cases. The details are in the comments attached to my pictures (see debcha's link at 48). The capsules are a bit tough to chew at first, but they soften after a couple of seconds of contact with saliva.

#203 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:10 PM:

easy pattern for a scarf or and afghan or something I don't have to make sleeves for, anyone?

You might try Versatility from the most recent Knitty; it doesn't have sleeves, but it can be sleeves if you want it to...

#204 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:18 PM:


Perhaps this is something well known to others, but what are the large metal creations you made? And why shouldn't they cross the border to Canada?

#205 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:26 PM:

debcha@#197, I'm using Audacity for mine; I like the flexibility it gives me. My process (basically) is documented on LJ.

I've made 18 so far. I really wish SMS and E-mail sounds were user assignable, because the built-in ones suck and I have much better ideas!

#206 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:37 PM:

Touching two posts from early on...

#20, Madeleine -

I know what you meant, but I managed to read "chili and frosting" and get a very odd image of what you're doing in your cake decorating class. It made me smile, so I think it is a win.

#21, Nicole TWN -

I'm so impressed with folks who have the hard-material crafting skills to mod computer cases. I am thinking I may have to pursue that myself. (Share pictures when you're done, please?)

I just finished up some knitted gifts for a co-worker's baby, and I'm turning my attention to the socks for my sister that have been in progress far too long. I'm also itching to start swatching for the winter knitting. (I knit slowly, so I make two big projects a year or thereabouts. The winter one and the summer one. I tend to finish them at the bare end of the right season, so I may need to adjust my start times.)

Next weekend I'll be trying to make a working sewing machine from a non-working sewing machine - the timing got off somehow on the machine I salvaged from the dumpster. It's generally built like a truck, so I'm thinking I can't hurt it by trying to repair it myself.

How happy this thread as a whole has made me! A much-needed breath of fresh air. I'll remember this topic as a good all-purpose conversation for decompressing. Like "What are you reading?" this has near-universal appeal.

#207 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Melissa @ 101, yeah, I was thinking of halving pale-green mouldable-candy wafers for the ears. I was hoping not to have to build the antennae entirely by hand.

On the subject of projects waiting on a "missing puzzle piece"... Some time ago, I hacked a Staples "Easy" button with a 10-second sound recorder. It's reasonably effective but somewhat limited. I'd like to install a small MP3 player instead, something which would allow me to store a bunch of small sound files and then have one of them played back at random when the button is pressed. But I haven't been able to find an MP3 player with the right combination of features: it must be able to stay in a "stand-by" mode indefinitely until a contact is closed, play a single file, then go back to "stand-by"; it must be reasonably compact; it should not be too expensive; it should (ideally) be able to select its one file from a set, either randomly or next-item-in-the-list-and-repeat-the-list. It's fine if the play mode is one of several options but the player has to stay in that configuration while it's inactive -- that is, it's no good if playback options need to be set up between activations.

Any suggestions?

(I've had the "Altoids MP3 player" suggested to me, but it's too large to fit inside the "Easy" button, and I don't have the equipment or knowledge to do the chipwork.)

#208 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 02:53 PM:

Noelle @ 203... Those huge t-shapes are the banner supports I built for a masquerade presentation that Tania, Lance and I were involved with at the worldcon. As for why they (the supports, not Tania or Lance) couldn't cross the border, that's because they're made of wood and apparently Canadian border officials don't want any American wood to make it to the other side, presumably because of bugs possibly hiding inside.

#209 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:17 PM:

By popular demand, the brown linen dress is viewable here.

There is also a black linen dress in the photostream, which I made out of some fabric I bought at Ikea. I used the same pattern but added about 14 inches to the length.

#210 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:27 PM:

For anyone who cares (since it's something I made), the photo Punkrockhockeymom is talking about is this one.

Emma: How much is the workshop costing? (I'm doing research in the interest of offering some workshops, first one is tenatively in Feb., on the Central Coast of Calif. which I guess counts as something I am trying to make)

#211 ::: Una Nomen ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:28 PM:

A cannabis vaporizer, out of a soldering iron, a lamp dimmer pot, lamp parts...will add a porous bronze piece and some glass to turn it from a contact device to a (superior?) convection device.

The illegal is generally a fertile ground to innovation; some speakeasy hacks were very clever, in the old Soviet Union, contraband "jast" records were duplicated on old X-ray films...of course, all sorts of stupid stuff gets turned into badly-made bongs, but this is the exception.

#212 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:29 PM:

abi #208: How did you make a photostream out of fabric you bought at Ikea?

#213 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:35 PM:

Fragano @211:
How did you make a photostream out of fabric you bought at Ikea?

Well, I cut the pieces out according to the photostream pattern I ordered off of the internet, using pinking shears to reduce future fraying. I then used the pattern instructions to sew them together on my sewing machine. There might have been some basting in there as well.

The photostream was a little loose at first, but I added a dart or two, then made sure I pressed all of the seams adequately.

How else?

#214 ::: Mimi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:36 PM:

I've just started knitting myself a cardigan, on top of a couple assorted socks. However, I don't expect to finish any of those soon, as I'm also gearing up for making sounds for a whole bunch of plays and, in my free time, working on making myself a brand new career via studying for the LSAT. (Two and a half weeks to go, aieee!)

#215 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:37 PM:

#61, Wesley's cartoons.


I could be almost that good if I weren't lazy.

#216 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:42 PM:

abi #212: I was under the impression that digital processing was likely to have been involved.

#217 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:47 PM:

I just finished making a cabinet for my 125-gallon aquarium. This is merely a step in the much longer project (multi-year!) of building a large Southeast Asian biotope tank. Research, design, building (cabinetry able to hold close to 1500 pounds), more research into plants and animals, lighting, and so-on. I had no idea it would be so complex when I started. Part of the problem is that I inherited the perfectionist/over-engineering gene from both sides of the family.

Now that the cabinet is out of the workshop, I'm making some custom frames for my sister.

I am in the planning stages for 7 lamps, one designed for each of the adults in my family, for Christmas. These will require woodworking, papermaking, electrics, and probably "other".

(The niece and nephews get toys; knick-knacks are no fun.)

#218 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:50 PM:

Terry @209:

here it is. Mine is the Autumn Landscape and Nature one.

If you wish, I can email you some comments on the success of it afterwards.

#219 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 03:57 PM:

Fragano Ledgister #179:

But let's not get bogged down with details.

#220 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:00 PM:

Soon Lee #218: When we should be flushed with pride, you mean?

#221 ::: Noelle ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Thanks Serge,

That makes sense, on many levels. I didn't realize the banner holders were made out of wood.


#222 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Fragano @ 215: Of course digital processing was involved! She used her fingers, didn't she?

#223 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:18 PM:

I have just accepted a task from my mother to scan and clean a paper doll that my Nana drew for me so that we can send it to my niece who broke her neck a month or so ago and who is going through surgery. (Thanks to her coach, who immobilized her properly; once she's healed, she'll be healed. And it wasn't his fault that she dived where she did.)

For Jim, in case he's curious, here's the specific quote: "she has a sublux to C2 and C3 and a fracture to C4."

I make prints; I make quilts.

I am not making either of those at this time because for work, I must make templates. And a stock photo gallery. The reason I must do these things is there was a massive server crash whilst I was on leave, and the backup didn't take, and so somebody has to do it, and I can do the search and compile from home. And the template creation.

I am considering making a book on Photoshop from my experiences. How can this be? you ask, for most aspects of Photoshop are quite adequately covered. Well, the angle I am considering is how to use Photoshop in mass quantities— when, for example, you have to make 282 senior photographs line up perfectly and match in color in the space of two days because the school keeps pushing back the student deadline but the yearbook company does not.

Obviously, the techniques are somewhat different than for individual art photos. Especially when one of the techniques is "go beat in the photographer's head until he does it right."

#224 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Ginger #221: True, but was the final product pixilated?

#225 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:25 PM:

Fragano @223:

I am not sure pictures have emotions; how then can they be elated?

#226 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:31 PM:

@clew, #133

Thanks! I'll see what I can dig up. I'm sure I could whip up some 3d models if I had the dedication and the patience, but until I've got some confidence in my ability to construct what I'm modeling, that's not really worth the effort. Still, it's heartening to hear from someone who thinks about this stuff in a way that's familiar to me and my kind.

@LMB geekery:

I'm fairly certain red and blue are not the Vorbarra colors. The Imperial parade uniform is really snappy, well past the point of gaudiness, and Gregor is often described as uncomfortable with that, in contrast to his (relative) comfort in more subdued Vorbarra House uniforms or civilian clothes in Vorbarra colors, and to the appearance of Vorbarra armsmen in House uniform. It's possible, I suppose, that bright red and blue WITHOUT gold braid, tassels, cavalry boots, or swords is indeed considered "subdued" on Barrayar, but I have an easier time picturing Gregor looking at home in black and silver than red and blue.

Also, Vordarian didn't make any attempt to change military uniforms when he laid claim to the throne, and when Aral Vorkosigan noticed that both sides were adding armbands to their uniforms for identification (Aral's/Gregor's troops Vorkosigan brown and silver, Vordarian's maroon and... black?) he seemed to regard that as an insult to the Imperium, not to House Vorbarra. The fact that his troops chose Vorkosigan rather than the theoretical Vorbarra colors is easily explained by Gregor being a MIA four-year-old and Aral being a famous war leader in actual field command. It's not hard to imagine that his troops thought of him, not Gregor, as their leader even though Gregor was the principle they were fighting to uphold.

Every emperor since before the end of the Time of Isolation has been a Vorbarra. I think Dorca Vorbarra the Just inherited his title, so the previous emperor must have been a Vorbarra as well. At some point prior there were non-Vorbarra emperors, but we don't know how long that was. Still, I think at present it would be difficult for a Barrayaran to imagine a Count Vorbarra who was not Emperor (an Emperor who was not a Vorbarra could easily happen if Gregor were to die without children, of course).

#227 ::: novalis ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:33 PM:

I'm making an occasional restaurant with my fiancée. This means making a lot of mistakes during recipe testing -- but also making a lot of awesome, interesting food. Tonight, I'll be cleaning some sweetbreads and testing some (modified, of course) recipes from the new El Bulli book. And some fricassee.

#228 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:34 PM:

I help Steven DesJardins and thousand of other volunteers make free ebooks at Distributed Proofreaders. I also proofread and copyedit commercial books.

I sew, quilt, knit, crochet, tat, cook, bake my own bread, garden, and build my own computers.

However, I can't do much plumbing, electricity, or construction. Nor can I fix my own car. But should I be able to do everything for myself? It takes time to learn, money for tools, and one can't do everything, can one? Should one? Isn't this a hippie back-to-the-earth fantasy?

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 04:52 PM:

abi #224: They can be taken on the el, and then delayed. That would make them elated, surely?

#230 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:04 PM:

Zora @ 227: But should I be able to do everything for myself? It takes time to learn, money for tools, and one can't do everything, can one?

Riffing on Heinlein: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, then expire gracefully of old age. Omnicompetence and immortality are for fictional characters."

Charlie Stross has still a different take on it in Saturn's Children. I won't try to quote it without the book to work from. It's a bit crude.

#231 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:06 PM:

I'm knitting two lace shawls, two lace scarves, a pair of socks, and probably some more stuff that I've forgotten about. I'm spinning a lovely merino/tencel blend on my little spinning wheel and I've got some absolutely scrumptious cormo on my big one and being completely flummoxed by because the staple's so short and I need to do long draw and I am stupid when it comes to long draw. I'm making critters in Spore and having a great deal of fun.

At work, I'm caught up in making a ton of spreadsheets that will be the basis of our budget next year. I don't get to make the final decisions and I don't get input into the decision making process, but I do get to arrange the data in ways that make it easier for the decisions to be made. Which has a peculiar sort of satisfaction to it.

#232 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:12 PM:

abi @ 208: That does look nice.

Thanks to sharpening advice from Terry Karney and others, I finally managed to pare some leather on my own.

I do hobby coding too, but I'm much better at starting things than finishing them. Work coding is on a fairly large project, so it feels more like keeping a ship sailing smoothly and slowly re-rigging it for that space-time anomaly a few years off the port bow than actually making something.

#233 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:19 PM:

Ralph @231:

Nice work on the book there. I see you're sewing your headbands (yay!), and forming some nice headcaps.

How did you sprinkle the page edges? What did you use for color, and for wax? I've been too cowardly to do much edge decoration.

#234 ::: Doug K ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:21 PM:

As Dena observed, it is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and canning. So mostly I'm making a sort of order out of the kitchen chaos, every night after my wife finishes up. The dehydrator is also running night and day. Can I call this second-order making ?
It's a deal of work but the kids love the canned fruit, we have a small investment in the orchards where the fruit grows: the bottles of peaches glow on the basement shelves. It's a little like wine, a whole year of rain, sun and wind in a bottle.

I have made various bits of wooden construction modeled on actual furniture, but my wife hates it when I do this.. The Thomas Train table has held up quite well though, repurposed as a Lego stand.

It's a sadness that I don't get to make things in code anymore - don't miss the deadlines and death march projects though.

Trout flies, particularly the old English patterns. Here's the body material for a Tups Indispensable: "urine and dye stained wool taken from a ram's testicles mixed with lemon coloured fur from a spaniel and a little yellow mohair. "

We recently added a spaniel to the family, now all I need is.. hm.

#235 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 05:29 PM:

Skwid, #204: I'm using Audacity for mine; I like the flexibility it gives me.

You can certainly do a better job with Audacity, and thanks for posting details of the process. The nice thing about the iTunes version is that anyone who can download ringtones from the store can make them for free, without any additional software.

Una Nomen, #210: The illegal is generally a fertile ground to innovation...

For some excellent examples of this type of design-with-constraints, check out Prisoner's Inventions.

#236 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 06:06 PM:

Raintree Nursery sells pawpaw seedlings for less than $20.

#237 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 06:13 PM:

BTW, just got back a big print of this (18x9 or so). I'm very happy with it.

#238 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 06:20 PM:

abi @ 232: Thanks. I used artists watercolour for the edge decoration, the concentrated gooey kind that comes in little tubes.

Put the book block in a (finishing) press and mask off everything you don't want speckled, including, if you're me, the table it's sitting on. The block should be rounded and backed (if you're doing that) and perhaps some spine linings applied, but not have headbands or boards yet.

Put a little bit of pigment in a dish, mix colours to taste, then dip a toothbrush* in it. Scrape the toothbrush with the back of a knife, a fingernail, etc. so the paint sprays everywhere. Vary force, distance and angle to achieve even coverage and a pleasing distribution of dot sizes. It takes some experimentation to get the right amount of pigment on. Wiping the brush on a piece of paper is a good way to vary that.

After the paint dries, burnish† the edges, then apply the wax coating. I did this just by warming up my hands, rubbing some beeswax onto my thumb and then rubbing it onto the book block. I did two coats and then burnished it again. You don't need a noticeable amount; it's really only visible by making the surface shiny, but it's supposed to help protect the paper (and the decoration) from dust and wear while making it look a little more finished.

This is all from a limp vellum binding class Dominic Riley taught in Seattle a couple of years ago.

I've not done any of the fancier decoration techniques, which I gather involve clamping the book block as hard as you can, and then sanding for about an hour before painting on glare or whatever. Or not dropping a stack of your not-even-rounded book blocks into the marbling pan. This seemed a gentler introduction.


* Which thereafter becomes a paintbrush and not a toothbrush, obviously.

† Talas has a line of agate burnishers for this. You need two‡: a "horse's tooth" (wide and flat) for the head and tail and a "dogs tooth" (bent cone) for the foreedge. I imagine you could fake it with a bone folder or a similarly polished hard stone. The idea is just the crush the ends of the pages a tiny bit and push the wax into the fibres so they make a smoother, more uniform surface.

‡ Two in theory, anyway. I only have the dog's tooth one. I have no idea if the names were originally figurative or not. The instrucgtions we were working from did mention rubbing the burnisher in one's beard instead of using beeswax. Ah, bookbinding.

#239 ::: Nick Kiddle ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 06:22 PM:

Intangibly, I'm in the final stages of making a book, and honing my deadline-meeting skills by producing a column once a fortnight. I'm also suffering from fiction withdrawals, which I may have to ease with some Left Behind fanfic.

All my tangible projects involve using up the things other people might throw away. I'm turning newspaper clippings, tickets and recipes off product labels into scrapbooks, attempting to use up an enormous surplus of glass jars by making jams and chutneys out of everything I can find, and I'm turning all my worn-out clothes into the Hoarder's Patchwork.

#240 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Clew mentions Raintree @235; when you do business with them or with their neighbors at Burnt Ridge Nursery you are also making the world better by doing business with good and righteous people who are responsible stewards of the land. (Both are long-time plant sources and personal acquaintances).

#241 ::: Thel ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:08 PM:

This thread has done more to lift my spirits than anything else this week. Thanks for making my heart lighter, y'all.

I just picked up my knitting again after abandoning it all summer. I'm working on a simple scarf, and am about to start some Christmas-gift socks. (Carrie @202: Versatility is also on my list!) I'm also baking sourdough bread (using a starter that my mother created from scratch), doing more writing, crocheting hats, creating muscles on my legs by riding my bike to work more often, and helping create new voters.

Zora @227, regarding whether one should know everything: I quite liked what Jonathan Golob had to say along those lines yesterday:

Well, what does count as a safe investment, today? Let me consult the ancient Jewish secret for surviving and thriving in ineptly managed economies: Invest in your head, your health, your family and your community... Learn a trade. Learn a language. Learn accounting. Learn the law. Learn how to cook and bake. Learn how to fix a leaking pipe. Learn how to entertain a crowd. Take a class. Go to community college. Read a book. Use your savings and resources to fill your head will skills and knowledge. Until the moment of your death, nobody can take these from you. No inept or corrupt banker, no thieving politician, no political unrest. These become a part of you, and follow you wherever you go.

#242 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:13 PM:

I'm working on making a blog (I've left it fallow for a few months), and I'm slightly stalled on my sister's first-anniversary quilt (the Little League World Series interrupted my streak of quilting weekends, and I haven't swung back into the swing yet).

And I'm always so impressed with people who can make proper clothes. I've had a reasonably well-fitted sloper on me once, and that gave me hope that maybe clothing really isn't all that difficult to make, relative to quilts, but I haven't been brave enough yet to try my own.

#243 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:22 PM:

Yesterday (day off), I dyed some tencel-silk

From leftover sock wool, I'm knitting dozens of pairs of little mittens to get to a Lakota reservation for this winter. The trees in Denver are starting to turn, so that pace is picking up. Perhaps when the kids pull them on they'll hear the thinking theme from "Jeopardy". I'll be taking the train to Chicago in about a month and am pondering some fine-yarn socks on size 1 or less circs - the pair knit magic loop - for maximum entertainment with minimum transportation of stuff. Haven't gotten into lace. Everyone I know wears socks.

The big non-client project is getting my web site together.

And I'm guiding a friend (10-year-old category) into creating her own pattern and then sewing a soft sculpture duck. Why a duck? Why-a no chicken?

(all together): I don't know, I'm a stranger here myself.

#244 ::: Nacho Chuck ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:39 PM:

Never have I seen and read so many different hobbies and all so different - you make a lot of different things here

makes me feel kind of lazy

i do help my wife make dog hair sweaters - yes i know their weird but people seem to liek them

#245 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:40 PM:

I'm nearing the crown of a fairisle tam, and after that I've promised to make one of my co-workers a hat if she buys the yarn, and having seen the new Knitty's nightcap pattern, I'm going to try again at a nightcap for my friend Don, who wants to look like those nursery-rhyme illustrations of Wee Willie Winkie.

#246 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:40 PM:

I'm nearing the crown of a fairisle tam, and after that I've promised to make one of my co-workers a hat if she buys the yarn, and having seen the new Knitty's nightcap pattern, I'm going to try again at a nightcap for my friend Don, who wants to look like those nursery-rhyme illustrations of Wee Willie Winkie.

Much more difficult is my new project to make myself into a dancer.

#247 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:52 PM:

I am making music (dramatic-ish soprano vocalist) and attempting to not ruin my consonants and vowels. This is more difficult than it might sound as I have no one to coach me and I'm quite vain about them.

I am also making yarn. There is purple corridale singles on the Turkish spindle, where I am shooting for a new weight record... needs to beat 80g. There is Bluefaced Leicester in undyed white on a toy wheel spindle. Also shooting for a new weight record, as I do not believe my scale's claim on the last batch of 45g. And there's a partially finished skein of Bluefaced Leicester that needs to be reskeined, rewetted and I fear hung with weights. Also some miscellaneous cotton and angora that aren't *for* anything in particular.

Further, I am making a dice bag. Hand sewing, which is SO MUCH FASTER than spinning or knitting that I understand why it took so long for knitted stockings to take over. I'm not very good, but it it so very quick to sew a seam and press it. (I have no idea how to use a sewing machine really, but I can manage needle and thread)

I have two shawls in progress, one at the edging stage that should be done on my next vacation, and another at the portable little bag stage that should last me many vacations. One sweater, which is about half done. Needs some yarn winding, a fight with invisible cast ons and DPNs and possibly some new DPNs... I'm not sure where my size 6s are. Also a sock in progress that I will like when SAD kicks in again. I really need to figure out a way for socks to not get abandoned seasonally... And mittens. Those I must finish very soon, or my hands will freeze.

And right at present, I am making chicken soup. I wish it would be done making so I can get on with the all important *eating*.

#248 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 07:56 PM:

#91 ::: TexAnne
...someday maybe I'll figure out grafting. Even when I do Lucy Neatby's chimney trick, I have trouble!

Neatby's chimney works for me when the waste "yarn" is actually heavy fish line (not monofilament).

Here one chimney is being tucked mostly down into the toe. You can't split the line with your yarn needle, and it will unravel easily from the inside. TexAnne, the eye-of-partridge heel flap is YOUR FAULT, even though this yarn doesn't stripe fast enough for the pattern to pop.

#249 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:07 PM:

Carol, 247: Hurray! I am a Bad Influence! I'll see if I can find some fishing line like that. And lookit the pretty colors you made!

All: I feel the need to make a filk, and so I am making a request. Does anyone have the lyrics to "Jalousie"/"Jealousy"? ("Jealouseeeee, is making a fool of meeeeee/Da da da daaaaa daaaaaaa, da da da da da da dee deeeeeee daaaaah") I can't find them online, and I wish to sing a song beginning "Ravelreeeeee, is so very bad for meeeee/It eats my time up, my yarn it isn't getting kniiiit up".

Although it's just barely possible that making a fool of myself with the preceding paragraph has made the earworm go away.

#250 ::: Hmpf ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:11 PM:

I mainly write (occasional articles for webzines, and fanfic - oh, and an M.A. thesis, at the moment. *g*). Also, I'm a professionally trained goldsmith, though I haven't worked much in the last few years. Trying to get back into it now, though.

And I used to do medieval book illumination, until about twelve years ago, when I decided I had to give something up to free up some time for other things I wanted to do.

Designing and building websites is also fun, but I've fallen behind on my web coding skills/knowledge.

Oh, and I'm a decent enough cook, and can be reasonably handy around the house, but those I don't really count as creative activities; they're just necessary everyday life skills.

I pity people who can't make stuff. I know far too many people who've never really made anything in their lives, and their lives usually seem to be sadder than those of people who can/dare to make stuff (of course, there are always exceptions). I put 'dare' because I don't buy the idea that you have to be specially gifted to be able to make anything. I think everyone can make *something*, but most people aren't encouraged enough to try when it counts most, i.e. in early life. Just recently I reflected on how much 'knowing how to cook' is really just 'not being afraid to try things/improvise'... (The widespread inability to cook is one of the saddest aspects, to me, of a culture in which 'making things' is seen as the province of specialists only.)

#251 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:12 PM:

Okay, the other point of view, from Freya Nakamichi-47 (a post-Heinleinian sexbox), courtesy of Charlie Stross. "Why bother learning all that biochemistry stuff--or how to design a building, or conn a boat, or balance accounts, or solve equations, or comfort the dying--when you can get other people to do all that for you in exchange for a blow job?"

#252 ::: Jeliza ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:25 PM:

I'm making wedding albums, mostly. And portrait albums, for variety.

I'm planning to make jewelry, but mostly get diverted from that project by small people who want me to help them draw rocketships.

#253 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 08:45 PM:

Hmpf: I love cooking. The secret, I think, is eating one's mistakes. Some of mine have been less than tasty, but none have made me ill.

Then it's like everything else, practice.

I made a new variety of blinz this week, tomorrow we see if the lessons learnt the second time will make it what I want it to be.

#254 ::: The Lift ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:01 PM:

Joel that is gross can you grow up?

#255 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:44 PM:

I apologize for the immaturity displayed by my quoting from a recent SF novel. Let me make amends by linking to pictures of more plush penguins, which I'm sure you'll find much more mature.

#256 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 09:45 PM:

I recently joined a community on Ning, and a group of us are comparing notes on our unfinished projects. My projects for this month are: sew crocheted trim onto a denim jacket (pinned in place, needs to be hand sewn), finish my new denim purse (attach shoulder strap, as soon as I can find where I put said strap), and completing all the leaves on my embroidered Monarch Garden pillow top kit.

I also make programs at work. Today I worked on making XML files from a C# code file. Tomorrow's project will be to create the XML file by copying from a standard existing file, rather than hard coding all my nodes. I have used XML and C# separately before, but this is the first project where I have had to use any of the System.Xml namespaces in C#.

I am making big branches into little branches, which will then be made into fire. I am making a prematurely leaf-covered yard back into a grassy yard. On Monday, I made brownies. I gave them to the neighbors who helped us clean up the biggest branches on Sunday, and this made the neighbors happy.

I am making a cookbook to hold my favorite recipes. My mom's index cards are hard to search through, and I find an electronic copy too ephemeral. Also, I don't have a computer in my kitchen.

I would like to make knitted lace, but my knitting skills are nowhere close to my crochet skills. I can cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what skills I should practice next before moving on to lace patterns?

#257 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:08 PM:

Joel: There speaks a narrative voice which, whatever its other charms, and there are many, greatly underestimates the amount of time, effort, and education that go into a really good blowjob.

Unless one is fairly fond of the recipient, learning how to do one's own quadratics is a much better use of one's time.

#258 ::: B.Loppe ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:09 PM:

I have just finished making an MA thesis in philosophy (and defending its honour!)

I have made dinner most nights this month.

I have made bento lunches this summer and fall on days when I would otherwise be tempted to eat takeout.

I am in the process of making a home out of the jumble-sale I have moved into to live with my partner (his family members come gratis.)

I have made a tutorial outline for the class I am a teaching assistant for this semester (oh, Social Aspects of Reproduction - you make me so comfortable with the word vagina.)

I have made myself sick by having poor hygiene in the company of sick friends.

I have made a few new friends in my new PhD program.

#259 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:15 PM:

I don't think it's gross, I think it's crude, and marna probably has the right of it's being simplistic.

Then again, the speaker might not have been delivering good blowjobs.

#260 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Singing Wren, you'll need to learn increasing (at least yarn overs) and decreasing, because that's how the holes in knitted lace are made. (Note that increasing and decreasing allow you to make shapes other than squares and rectangles. This is a Very Good Thing, and opens the way to socks and sweaters.)

#261 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Hopefully not jinxing myself by writing this, but I'm finally beginning to be creative again, after a particularly dreadful and burnt period of misery in all directions.

I've got a crochet shawl going -- some knitting -- working on a pattern for a steampunkish jacket... my programming is actually coming up with sane results for a change (and I might even have enough enthusiasm to get back to my sorely neglected pet project!). The garden is fortunately planted with things that survive neglect well -- and the most dire of the home repairs can be staved off for a while yet, until my shoulder tolerates activities that require impact (like hammering).

The house looks like it's been attacked by a horde of ADD-afflicted 2 year olds shedding astounding amounts of fur, but I'm actually managing to make some inroads on cleaning that up too.

I'm surprised to say that despite the season, it's starting to feel like spring again.

This is good :)

#262 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:23 PM:

Terry Karney @ 252 ...
Hmpf: I love cooking. The secret, I think, is eating one's mistakes. Some of mine have been less than tasty, but none have made me ill.

I agree completely - knowing I get to eat the mistakes has done wonders for my cooking :)

Singing Wren @ 255
I would like to make knitted lace, but my knitting skills are nowhere close to my crochet skills. I can cast on, knit, purl, and cast off. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what skills I should practice next before moving on to lace patterns?

I found it very easy to go from crochet to knitted lace - the ideas are quite similar, overall. For my $0.02, I'd just go for it :)

My knitting nemesis is cables, of all things.

#263 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:27 PM:

ethan @ #190 That's exactly what happened to me when I recently took part in a marathon reading of Ethan Frome. (...) And then I ended up loving it and immediately re-read it on my own. Who knew?

Exactly. Although I didn't loathe any of the Russian writers I was introduced to in high school, I can't say they were my favourite reads. However, a couple of years ago, when I decided to start reading them again, and made the point of starting with WAR AND PEACE, I found that I liked them very much, and even more than I did in high school. And then I read Dostoevsky's THE GAMBLER, which I absolutely loved!

#264 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:33 PM:

I think 'dare' is the right word, not 'can'. My invertebrate crocheting surprises my mother, who has been doing more complicated things for far longer, but never quite taken the step of making up her own things. I can't follow a pattern very well at all, but I can make a rectangle, a triangle, and a tube-- which is basically what animals are. She was floored when I turned my ex-printer paperweight into a printer (I still have the 'extra' screw).

Cooking, though, escapes me. I have such a weird relationships with food already, I don't want to risk wasting more of it than I have to.

#265 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:48 PM:

Joel Polowin, #250: Why bother learning all that stuff...

Actually, I think this is a reasonable question. For a good chunk of human history, that has been one of the few economic modes that you had access to, as a woman - exchanging sexual favours, within marriage or otherwise, in exchange for money or financial stability.

But only having one thing to sell is always a precarious position to be in. It presupposes that there will always be a market for what you're selling (might be true when you are 20, probably less true when you are 80). It also assumes that you'll be in a seller's market, which is out of your control.

Even leaving aside social taboos and the ick factor, women are rational economic actors - it's hardly surprising that they are following the advice that Thel (#240) quoted by, for example, going to college in droves as soon as it became a viable alternative.

On the other hand, of course, there are women (and men) who feel like trading blowjobs for necessities remains the best choice that's available to them.

#266 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 10:58 PM:

I've arguably gone a bit overboard on sewing machines (although most of these arrived to me at low or no cost) - the current tally is:

National Seamstress Rotary (treadle)
1905 Singer 27K 'Sphynx' (handcrank, 'portable')
1936 Singer 15-90 (electric)
1958 Singer 99K (electric, table)
Husqvarna 2841 (electric)
Singer Serger (electric)

For folk that aren't aware, Singer maintains a list of what serial numbers map to what manufacture date on their website -- and also has a fine cache of old repair/use manuals.

#267 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:12 PM:

Marna: I'm way out of my depth in any serious discussion of the subject. All I can say is that Freya was a highly-trained specialist, and it seemed plausible to me that that approach to life worked for her. Perhaps "if" would be better than "when" in the last part of the quotation, for more general use. I'm reasonably certain that I couldn't get anyone to do any of those things for me in trade (nor would I be comfortable trying to make such a deal), even assuming that someone with the necessary skills was available.

-- Which is, of course, another weakness of that attitude. Sure, there are lots of things that I prefer to leave to an expert, but the more things I can do if I have to, the less likely it is that I'm going to get into serious trouble for lack of someone to solve my problems for me.

#268 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:13 PM:

geekosaur, #136, I have an almost exact pattern for crochet except it's usually in pastels because it becomes a baby toy.

Terry, #258, the speaker was a purposely made and trained sexbot. She'd probably give perfect blow jobs if she had anybody to give them to.

#269 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:38 PM:

I'm learning to bake bread. I made a great bread the other day out of leftover brown rice and leftover oatmeal. I'm also learning to do beaded jewelry.

I'd like to get into claymation.

#270 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:48 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 266... there are lots of things that I prefer to leave to an expert

For me, that'd be plumbing. And electrical work, although I did recently have to stick my finger inside a lightbulb's socket after the glass ball broke when I tried to unscrew it. I was fairly certain that the switch was in the "off" position. First though, I went over to the electrician next door and asked how bad a jolt I'd get if it was in the "on" position.

#271 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Serge @ 269 ... for some peculiar reason, I seem to get the urge to play with electricity when I'm feeling physically dire, thanks to a flu, migraine, sleep dep, or similar miseries. It makes no sense to me at all (but does get things rewired).

#272 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2008, 11:56 PM:

What I seem to be best at, at the moment, is making commitments to myself...that I then break.


What I need to be doing NOW is making the words for a short presentation I'm giving in the morning (I have the bones, just need to putter with things a bit), and making the laundry in the washer go into the dryer so I have something to wear for said presentation.

O Making Light, why are you so addictive? :)

#273 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:02 AM:

xeger @ 270... That's quite the way to juice things up, eh?

#274 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:04 AM:

debcha: I think the age/market factors of that trade-off work better over time if you're a (nearly) immortal android, which the speaker is.

#275 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:04 AM:

Oops. I didn't mean to get so bold @ 272.

#276 ::: affreca ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:10 AM:

Currently molding a batch of marzipan into leaves. I bottled up two new cordials last week, amaretto (which isn't quite amaretto, but tasty) and 44 (coffee-orange flavored rum). I finished stringing up my inkle loom tonight, hopefully I can show it off to my mother this weekend (I think it is something she would enjoy playing with). Mom is giving me a necklace to restring, it was one she bought her mother on her first big trip. Next week I get back to my second cosplay, I want to redo some bits before competing with it. And I have some pretty glass beads I bought at the local art fair that need to meet other beads and become jewelry. Finally, looked at a house for sale that has many creative projects in its future.

But really, I should be writing my thesis, so I can afford everything.

#277 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:13 AM:

G D Townshende #262: You remind me that reading the Russians is something I've been avoiding for a while now that I really need to get started on. Dostoevsky, here I come. Sometime.

#278 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Serge @ 272 ... Oops. I didn't mean to get so bold @ 272.

Are you sure that wasn't a doublestrike?

#279 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:48 AM:

Serge, I believe you're quoting yourself. Or as we say around here - [tag]you're it!

#280 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Serge@269: And electrical work, although I did recently have to stick my finger inside a lightbulb's socket after the glass ball broke when I tried to unscrew it. I was fairly certain that the switch was in the "off" position.

Err...screwdrivers with little neon bulbs in the handle are your friends there, unless you relish the suspense or something.

#281 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:25 AM:

Spent the evening getting these ready for launching
on Saturday.

Nothing here built later than two years ago. I'm really slacking off.

#282 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:34 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 179

Thank you for being so acommode-ating. We'll yet plumb the depths and, in loo of soldered jokes, we'll stem the flush of family valves.

#283 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:00 AM:

I haven't embarrased myself here in a while, so I guess I should talk about UFOs. I have a closet full of partially-completed projects, some dating from more than 30 years ago. There's most of the parts for an analog video special-effects computer, that was made obsolete by fast digital circuitry (it was an interesting idea, but too far ahead of its time). There's a box full of painted D&D miniatures, out of work because I stopped playing. There are several sketch pads full of drawings and containers of pens, pencils, and brushes. I like to sketch, but I'm just no damn good at it, really. I can't visualize well enough in 2 dimensions to accurately draw a 2D view of a 3D object, and since I visualize in 3D, just doing 2D designs doesn't work for me. Oh, well. I'm good at composing in 2D, but not at creating the images in the first place.

But looking at the closet, I see I tried a lot of things, and I feel good about that, that I made some things even if I never got good at it, or finished them all. And that's a clue about the nature of making for me: it's the doing of it, not the being done, that matters.

#284 ::: Heidi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:01 AM:

I'm learning American sign language. I hadn't realized how beautiful it was to communicate in movement, so Bboy and belly dance have brought me to learning a new kind of movement with less art but more concrete interpretation.

#285 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:35 AM:

Heidi: I'm getting ready to get my ASL back. Enjoy.

#286 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:32 AM:

Singing Wren @255 -- to the excellent advice from P.J. Evans, I'd add the following: Turkish stitch is a good practice pattern for yo's and k2tog's. Try it with different weights of yarn.

#287 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:38 AM:

This thread makes me feel kind of inadequate. The only thing I've made recently was some bidding agreements with my bridge partner.

I have recently begun on learning Old English, but I find it hard to see how that counts as making anything.

#288 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:37 AM:

David @286:

I refer you to Thel @240.

You're making yourself. It's a worthy endeavor.

#289 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:37 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #281: U-bend to these matters so well.

#290 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:57 AM:

Singing Wren--I learned lace from this scarf. (The other thing I learned from that is that mohair isn't the best yarn for your first lace project. It's waaaay too hard to undo.)

#291 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:17 AM:

Re: Making things - I do wonder why, whenever I give something knitted as a gift (which is not often, because most people don't want handmade things), the recipient always has to say, "oh, I wish I could knit!" Once upon a time, I wished I could knit too. And then I learned! And now I can!

Funny how crafts work that way.

One of the main things we reinforce with our daughter (over and over and over, perfectionist that she is) is that nobody's born knowing how to do stuff - you have to learn, and the best way to learn is to practice, which will involve making mistakes. Mistakes are good! Learn from them and get better!

Singing Wren @ 255 - my best lace advice is practice counting, use smooth, fine yarn and sharp wooden needles, start small, and don't worry about how it looks until you block it. (It will look like a pile of bleh until you block it, no matter what.) Google "lace bookmark knitting pattern" for a gentle introduction. (Plus, hey, starch 'em & they make nice ornaments, if you're into that tree-decorating thing, and you can pretend you've got a leg up on Christmas this year.)

#292 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:30 AM:

"I wish I could knit," from me translates to, "Please offer to teach me to knit." I know there are books, and online things, and all sorts of different ways to learn casting on and this style or that style... and it's too big for me right now. If my friend weren't getting a sewing machine, I'd still be at the, "I wish I could sew," stage rather than the, "Okay, assume I learn to sew, how do I make a skirt?" stage.

#293 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:36 AM:

Tania @ 278... I believe you're quoting yourself


#294 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:37 AM:

B. Durbin @ 222: "she has a sublux to C2 and C3 and a fracture to C4."

Urgh. She's very lucky to be alive. Kudos to her coach for immobilizing her properly. Not everyone knows how to do that.

#295 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:41 AM:

Adrian Smith @ 279... Actually, that gizmo was exactly what I had hoped to get from my electrician neighbor, but it had burned out. He suggested using a potato, but alas I was without a tuber, so I used my finger.

#296 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:43 AM:

Speaking of the making of things, has anybody else ever seen 1977's documentary Gizmo?

#297 ::: Hmpf ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Diatryma @263:

Cooking, though, escapes me. I have such a weird relationships with food already, I don't want to risk wasting more of it than I have to.

See, that's exactly the attitude that's the problem: expecting every failure to be catastrophic (which in the case of cooking translates as 'inedible'). But the truth is, most failed cooking experiments are still edible, they're just not *great*. Not every FAIL is EPIC. ;-) So, basically: don't be so afraid of making mistakes; they probably won't kill you, and you'll know what to do better the next time. After a while, you get the hang of it.

(Same goes for other skills/crafts, of course - but cooking is the one that I feel everyone needs to have at least the basics of, and far too many people are irrationally scared of.)

#298 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:03 AM:

I've made a cake. It's for my Mum's birthday.

If it's good, I'll be blogging about it (it's a fifties recipe I altered slightly).

#299 ::: Zeynep ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:28 AM:

xeger @ 261: So true about eating your own mistakes being a good teacher. I guess the best learning experiences are mistakes so beyond the pale that you cannot eat them, though.

(I mean, no one around here ever thought baking soda and baking powder are functionally equivalent, so one should use the same amount of baking soda in a pancake recipe as one would use baking powder if one had any, and no one ended up with soap-flavored pancakes, no siree, no one around here at all.)

Steven and Zora, @53 and 227: Forgot my newly-started, fledgling contribution to Distributed Proofreaders in the things of things I make. I have not been able to make it out of P1-only stage yet, and when I do, I know I will feel guilty, because P2 and apparently P3 is most needed and I think I will enjoy P1 work the most... But then I guess everyone does. Or am I wrong about that?

#300 ::: Rosa ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:59 AM:

I am mostly done canning, which feels like making, so now I am drying apples, which feels mostly like unmaking - taking beautiful delicious apples, peeling, coring, and slicing them, then drying them into crunchy apple bits.

But in a few months, when the beautiful apples of September are compost, we will be eating dried apples.

And of course I spend part of every day making a hyper little monkey into a civilized small person. He makes himself athletic and talkative and charming, but mannerly and nonviolent are up to us.

#301 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Zeynep (298): Someone around here did once have a cake overflow the pan because she mixed the two up, however. Plus a different cake and a batch of cornbread fail to rise because she left that ingredient out.

#302 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:05 PM:

One way to learn about lace and cables is by knitting afghans - they don't have to be large. You can have both in the same pattern, too. Patterns for shawls might be scaled up simply by using worsted-weight (4) yarn and larger needles (I find that the best feel is with needles a couple of sizes larger than the yarn label calls for). You can see what you're doing, and you don't have to work with the good stuff - acrylic yarn is good enough, it's not expensive and you can throw it in the washer.

#303 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:06 PM:

I'm a once and (I hope) future maker of bead necklaces, but this week I'm making book reviews -- not very creative, maybe, but it does require some thought, and if it points readers toward any or all of five great books I'll have done my duty!

#304 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:21 PM:

I once made a batch of cookies where I mistook teaspoon for tablespoon with the baking soda. The resulting cookies were close to inedible.

They were good with a slice of pickle on top.

#305 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:33 PM:

Lessee -- I'm making the fall issue of Mythlore, which entails putting together things other people have made in an intellectually pleasing and visually stimulating arrangement, then sending it to someone who will make it a physical reality by printing it on paper someone else has made. It's all connected...

I'm making a dingy, dusty, dog-smelly carpeted living room into a light and airy and CLEAN vinyl tiled living room (with a new furniture arrangement more conducive to making conversation and fire-watching).

I recently made a suit (jacket and 2 skirts, lovely grey houndstooth with a charcoal grey silk twill for the 2nd skirt) for an interview, which didn't work out, but hey -- I have a nice new suit! And soon I'll be making pants to go with it.

I'm looking forward to a six month sabbatical during which I will start making another book, make order out of seven years of accumulated chaos, and make plans for simplifying my professional life. Ah, academia!

#306 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 12:58 PM:

Joel Polowin at #254:

Are you aware that penguins are not mammals?

#307 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:13 PM:

I've mostly been making lots of resumes and rather bad cover letters, in hopes that someone will see through the dreadfulness and hire me anyway. (This would, I suspect, be a little easier if I knew what I actually want to do with my life.) I also make mix CDs to pass the time. And I make dinner for my family, in exchange for their patience while I look for a job. I'm not a very good cook, but I'm improving slowly. Last Thursday I made a surprisingly successful chicken dish, having slightly modified the recipe myself.

Otherwise, I'm not very crafty. I sort of know how to knit, but am not yet good enough to follow an actual pattern and have it come out as intended. I'd like to get good enough to make socks at some point, because I have a strange obsession with socks, but it'll be a while yet.

I've begun planning out the resizing of some old t-shirts from my baggy clothing phase so that I can make them fit me. This is complicated by the fact that I haven't touched a sewing machine since I had to take Home Ec in middle school, a decade and a half ago. But I figure I'll start with some t-shirts I don't actually like that much, so I won't cry if I butcher them. I'm most worried about the sleeves. That strikes me as difficult.

Having read a bookbinding tutorial yesterday (and having been ogling Abi's work for some time now), I'm dying to try my hand at that, but I'm not sure where to begin. I'd really like to take a class, but I'm broke and I don't know where one looks for such things anyway. I suppose I could always try it with scrap materials first just to see if I even understand how it's supposed to work. And it would give me an excuse to clean out the dining room, which we don't use for dining, so that I could have a dedicated workspace.

#308 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Erik @ 305: Yes. I don't see it as being all that relevant, in this case; it's just one more element of absurdity.

#309 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Hmpf at 296, I am already incredibly apathetic about food. I just don't like most of it. I don't dislike it-- it's not something I seek out. The amount of effort that goes into cooking real food is not at all equal to the reward of eating it, even if it turns out right. I'm working on this; I have a worm bin to encourage me to eat more vegetables (so far, they've reminded me once, and twice I've bought broccoli and just not eaten it) and I try to have people over periodically so I clean and make real food.

I love Teresa's recipes here, and I've tried a couple of the alcoholic ones-- seemed easiest and most easily used. One turned out potable, were I the poting type, and the other was syrupy and requires more experimentation. I can't experiment easily, though, and the urge is more to get it right than to enjoy the result.

Now. Lunch. I have that figured out, at least.

#310 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:19 PM:

Yeah, I'm not making anything these days except blog posts and written stuff for work.

My main productive activity these days is trying to get the house in some kind of order--even this long after the move, nearly all of our books and some annoyingly large subset of other useful things are still sealed up in boxes, and many things that are unpacked are manifestly in the wrong place, though I mostly don't know yet what the right place would be. A large pile of random home-repair and assembly of Ikea furniture for the kids' room awaits me when I get time.

My main hobby these days is studying Spanish, which I mostly do by listening to the radio while driving, or to podcasts while working out. I still have a terrible time starting conversations with strangers in Spanish--for whatever reason, not being able to say things correctly is really uncomfortable to me, and I hate to impose on strangers. That's probably the next thing I need to get myself to do, as I live someplace with a lot of native Spanish speakers.

I should probably find some kind of hobby that lets me see the result with my eyes and hold it with my hands. (Though I guess playing with my kids qualifies for this.)

#311 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:24 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 300: Maybe that's what went wrong... The first time I tried to bake a cake, I could've sworn I followed the recipe exactly, but instead of a nice, fluffy cake, I wound up with... The Cake Slab. It was a flat, dense block of cake. It still tasted yummy and cakelike, just rather... heavier. It was intended for my older brother's birthday. He's never let me live it down. I'm amazed at the amount of material he gets out of that one failed cake.

#312 ::: arkessian ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:37 PM:

I'm making a family history website using Drupal, for my nieces and nephews. And for fun...

I'm making slow progress on the actual family history research.

At this precise moment, I'm making roast winter vegetables. And later I will make scones.

I am wholly unable to make wearable clothing, except for the obligatory knitted baby jackets (many many years ago).

At work, I make train-wreck projects run better.

I'm making my second-ever post here.

I must get back to making novels. One day.

#313 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 01:52 PM:

The subthread about blowjobs is tangling around the one about eating your mistakes...somebody please make it stop.

More seriously, though, I can't imagine trading goods or services of any value in return for being on the receiving end of fellatio (i.e. the servicee not the fellator/fellatrix). I happen to consider that particular act far more enjoyable to do than to have done. I'm aware that many people, including nearly* all straight men, feel the opposite, and viva la différence! Now I personally would never do it for money (or for anything except the pleasure of pleasuring), but if people who would feel as I do about the act itself, it may make it much easier to make that particular choice.

I want to make myself into a writer, but to do that I have to make myself write.

abi 208: That looks so "these boots are made for walkin'". Is it my imagination, or is there something very European about that look? I know you live in Europe, and that may be what's making my mind play tricks.

Heidi 283: I'm learning American sign language. I hadn't realized how beautiful it was to communicate in movement, so Bboy and belly dance have brought me to learning a new kind of movement with less art but more concrete interpretation.

I'm not sure about the "less art" thing. I've always found ASL very beautiful to watch, but even more beautiful in conceptual structure. It's much less linear than spoken language, and the way it does pronouns is nothing short of astonishing.

Cat 290: the best way to learn is to practice, which will involve making mistakes. Mistakes are good! Learn from them and get better!

Two quotes:

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (source unknown)
Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!—The Magic Schoolbus

* Yeah, nearly. Do NOT ask.

#314 ::: The Lift ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:24 PM:

xopher that is too much information and not appropriate for here

#315 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:28 PM:

the lift,

i disagree.

#316 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:32 PM:

Heidi #283: I'm learning American sign language. I hadn't realized how beautiful it was to communicate in movement

So, have you learned any pithy swear moves in ASL?

#317 ::: arkessian ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:32 PM:

I've made a whole two comments - does that make me (too) an arbiter of what's appropriate?

#318 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:33 PM:

The Lift @ 313 -
posted 09.18.08 on entry Making things, as well as light:
xopher that is too much information and not appropriate for here

posted 09.17.08 on entry Making things, as well as light:
Joel that is gross can you grow up?

Who the tanj named you the village censor?

#319 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:43 PM:

The Lift @313:

Don't like it? Don't read it.

#320 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:43 PM:

Village censors are generally self-appointed.

#321 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:45 PM:

So, have you learned any pithy swear moves in ASL?

If not, I highly recommend Hand Jive, if you can find a copy. It's got info on how to sign all sorts of things, most of them unprintable. :)

#322 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:48 PM:

Xopher @312:
Is it my imagination, or is there something very European about that look? I know you live in Europe, and that may be what's making my mind play tricks.

I don't know, not living anywhere else for comparison. I do think the skirt ending above the knee combined with boots below the knee is a very Dutch look; when I was in Scotland most women wore skirts that covered the knee with boots.

It's dead practical for cycling in. I tend to wear bike shorts with it, though. There are windmills all over the place here for a reason, and I don't have Marilyn Monroe's panache.

#323 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Suzanne M @306:

I'm dying to try my hand at that, but I'm not sure where to begin. I'd really like to take a class, but I'm broke and I don't know where one looks for such things anyway. I suppose I could always try it with scrap materials first just to see if I even understand how it's supposed to work. And it would give me an excuse to clean out the dining room, which we don't use for dining, so that I could have a dedicated workspace.

Try it with scrap materials first. I did - I got a couple of bookbinding books for Christmas one year, when I was staying with my in-laws.

I borrowed a needle and some button thread from my mother in law, raided their printer for basic paper, and used a few surplus Christmas cards for stiffer cover stock. My in-laws also found some glue for me. I made a longstitch and kettlestitch binding, then a multi-section cased in book, both about three inches by two and a half, with just those things.

They were not pretty, but I found the feeling of holding a book I had made in my hands intensely delightful. I love it still.

#324 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Zeynep @ 298 ...
xeger @ 261: So true about eating your own mistakes being a good teacher. I guess the best learning experiences are mistakes so beyond the pale that you cannot eat them, though.

One of my more notable mistakes started out as stew, and ended up looking like lumpy boiled cardboard[0]. If you didn't look at it (and I couldn't look at it and eat it), it was quite tasty...

[0] Not having stewing meat, I decided to use ground beef... not having flour or cornstarch to thicken with, oatmeal seemed like a fine idea...

#325 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:11 PM:

It veers off into politics, I fear, but I think I can say that Xopher is merely making it clear (without using any directly offensive words) about some of his personal preferences in making love (which, I guess, is not a tangible thing, but is still something most of us engage in making, one way and another). So while it's not obviously a part of this thread in some ways, it's polite and well spoken IMO, and a good example of what some of us enjoy making.

Getting into exactly the tensile strengths and characteristics of different threads or yarns, however, might be TMI for me.

#326 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:19 PM:

Thanks to everyone who spoke up in my defense. I note that The Lift's entire body of comment here consists of telling people they ought not have said something or other.

"Go away," he explained.

#327 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:28 PM:


I started sewing by making a couple of skirts. Here's the basic process we followed.

We took my measurements, then went to the fabric store and picked a pattern from the pattern books that they kept at the counter. It was for an elastic waisted skirt (no zipper), with a ruffle at the bottom (it was 1983).

So we went to the pattern desk and asked for the pattern, by manufacturer and number (Simplicity 1234, or whatever) and my size. The person at the pattern desk then gave me the pattern envelope.

Pattern envelopes are tremendously full of information. The front shows, with photographs and drawings, the various garments ("views") that can be made with the contents. For a dress, for instance, this usually includes different skirt lengths, sleeve styles, and necklines.

On the back is a line drawing of the back of each view, showing where the seams, darts, zippers, and other features go. Reading these is like reading a map, in that there is a visual vocabulary that turns the set of confusing lines into a rich source of information. After a while, you get to know what lines and what structures suit you best, for instance.

Also on the back are fabric recommendations (follow these till you know enough to strike out on your own) and a list of notions you will need (notions are things like thread, zippers, buttons, elastic, etc, etc). Below that are charts showing the amounts of fabric you will need, by size and view.

Using this information, we went among the racks and stands of fabric. For a first skirt, we chose a floral pattern, because the shapes are irregular enough to hide a multitude of sins (hear that? floral = eyelash yarn). Now, I had my mother's experience and judgment at hand about fabric content (cotton is a good, safe choice), weight and drape. If you're uncertain, ask the shop staff, who will probably be experienced sewers and glad to initiate more people into the tribe.

We took the bolt of fabric to the cutting counter and asked for the right amount. Most fabric stores cut a little wide of the precise requested yardage, but it might be good to buy a little extra for your first venture. (The offcuts will also form the basis for your stash. Very important, for perpetually tempting yourself with the idea of taking up quilting.)

We then located the notions we needed. Thread matching is the trickiest part. Try to get to some natural light if you can, and see if you can unroll a strand over the fabric.

When we got home, the first thing we did was to wash and dry the fabric as we would the final garment. Don't ever skip this step, or your lovely well-fitted garment will shrink on the first washing. While we waited for that, we opened the pattern.

The pattern has two parts inside. There are tissue paper pieces, which are marked for various sizes. And there are instructions. The instructions cover where to lay the pattern pieces on the fabric, what order to sew them together, and generally everything to do to make your thing.

Cut out the tissue paper in the size desired. Then, when the fabric is dry, lay the pattern pieces on the fabric and pin them down. Cut them out, preferably using pinking shears (reduces fraying). Clip along the side of any triangles along the sides (you'll use them to line different pieces up). Use a needle with contrasting colored thread to mark any dots.

Then just sew. Pin pieces together before you sew, or they will slide (I place the pins perpendicular to the sewing line and stitch over them. Others think this is a mortal sin.) Make sure your seam ripper is sharp and that you use it with patience. You can undo any sewing action with the sort of fabric you'll have chosen. Iron your seams open between sewing steps.

Enjoy. And tell us about it when you've done it.

#328 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:30 PM:

Ooops, the above may be TMI for Tom Whitmore.

I'm sure he's capable of not reading it if it is.

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:34 PM:

Skimming is my friend, abi.

#330 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:40 PM:

Suzanne M @306; I know I've seen a well-reviewed pattern for taking in too-big T-shirts, or making them more female-fitted; it was probably on; but I can't find it now. Hm. Well, so, you can make experiments...

#331 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:40 PM:

I place the pins perpendicular to the sewing line and stitch over them. Others think this is a mortal sin.

How else would one place the pins? Or does the "mortal sin" lie in stitching over them? I pull them out before they get under the presser foot when that's convenient, because there's a slight chance of damaging the needle if it strikes a pin, but I don't worry about it unduly. Some of the sewing I do is on the fiddly side.

#332 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Xopher #325:

I suspect there are people walking the earth whose entire substantial contribution to conversations in their lives is little more. But I probably ought not to have mentioned it.

#333 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:46 PM:

To comment after abi @ 326...

If you're the sort that really likes to have a book around, The Vogue Sewing Book in older editions has everything and the kitchen sink included.

Personally I also like things like 1936—Home Sewing Course by Helen Hall (Vintage Sewing Info) as a great collection of useful information from a point in time when not sewing was unusual.

A lot of the currently published sewing books drive me nuts - they're laissez-faire in ways that I find tends towards shoddy craftsmanship, rather than an understanding choice.

Then again, I can't imagine going through school lessons like this, so grains of salt clearly apply.

#334 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:47 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 330
How else would one place the pins? Or does the "mortal sin" lie in stitching over them? I pull them out before they get under the presser foot when that's convenient, because there's a slight chance of damaging the needle if it strikes a pin, but I don't worry about it unduly. Some of the sewing I do is on the fiddly side

There's mortal sin in stitching over them -- and arguably one should really have basted the entire thing in the first place...

#335 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:48 PM:

My mother scratch built (probably not the right technical term for that kind of sewing, but it kind of fits) a wedding dress years ago. Her comment?

"Never again."

#336 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:51 PM:

The sin is stitching over the pins.

I have been sewing for 25 years. I have broken one (1) needle and bent about 40 pins during that time by so doing.

It's low on my list of sins.

(xeger, thanks for the book recommendations. For some reason, I don't feel the need for a sewing book, so I didn't have any to offer.)

#337 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 03:57 PM:

clew @ 329 ... Suzanne M @306; I know I've seen a well-reviewed pattern for taking in too-big T-shirts, or making them more female-fitted; it was probably on; but I can't find it now. Hm. Well, so, you can make experiments...

It's not the pattern you had in mind, but this Threads link might be useful.

The link that's lurking in my heap of bookmarks for remaking t-shirts is Pamela's Patterns. Unfortunately, thanks to the web 'design', I can't deep link (or indeed, see the page without scripting active).

#338 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:02 PM:

Suzanne: If it was edible, it wasn't a soda for powder substitution.

#339 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:05 PM:

Diatryma @291 - I'm not a great teacher and don't really enjoy teaching, but whenever anyone says, "Oh, I wish I could knit" I always say, "I'd be happy to teach you!"

Which I do because I know the next thing they'll say is, "oh, I couldn't". And then I'll say, "yes you can, it just takes practice". And then they'll change the subject, because wanting to be able to do something and wanting to learn how to do that thing are two different things.

(I would try my best to be a good teacher, if anyone ever took me up on it. I'm not too worried, though.)

If you're interested and overwhelmed by the number of books and options and all that, then I'll give you the same advice I was given about parenting books - just pick one and don't even open any of the others. (Stitch 'n Bitch, by Debbie Stoller, is a good starter*. The patterns aren't at all to my taste, but I found the reference section wonderfully clear and thorough.)

*Er, for a knitting book. I don't recommend it for parenting so much.

#340 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:07 PM:


"Never again."

i believe it (i'm terrified of sewing, myself) but as a counter-anecdote: my little sister made my older sister's wedding dress, my cousin's wedding dress, & my sister-in-law's wedding dress (unfortunately, vetoed by her parents & never worn). she is still half-jokingly resentful that i didn't have her sew my wedding dress.

i think i would call her a hobbyist seamstress rather than a near-professional level amateur (although she has sold some of her self-designed-&-made bags in shops, as well as her knitted scarves & wristwarmers). but all those brides prized originality, self-expression & wearability over, you know, having a wedding gown that was an extravagant top-everybody production.

not that i'm putting down complicated wedding dresses. but in situations where a bridal dress doesn't have to be one, a creative-but-not-overly-fastidious seamstress can turn out several beautiful gowns & live to want to do more.

#341 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:12 PM:

#330, Joel -

In theory sewing over pins can mean a trip to the shop for your sewing machine and a frustrating delay in your project - hitting a pin is a common way for the machine to get knocked off-time and it won't sew again until that's fixed by a professional. In practice, I sew over them as the mood strikes me and don't know anyone who is adamantly against it.

#334, Earl -

I dunno, costumers tend to call costume construction "building." It works for me.

#342 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:13 PM:

abi #326, xeger #332:

I first learned to sew from the Simplicity Sewing Book, some edition from around 1965. If you're one of those people who likes to get a bunch of context and see the general overview before you dig in, it's a good introduction. I can't say how well later editions held up, but it gave me a good start on making some skirts before it was time to take 8th-grade home ec. (My mother is not a gifted seamstress, and had no notions of craftsmanship, so the book gave me a lot of info on getting started. I'd already made some Barbie clothes from patterns, but it's not really the same thing.)

#343 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:25 PM:

I ignored the first Lift comment: I wasn't sure if it wasn't someone waxing whimsical. I know my opinion isn't needful (abi summed it up), but as a member of the community, I don't care what The Lift thinks. It's not The Lift's place to tell me (even by surrogate) what I should, or shouldn't, write about.

Teresa and Patrick have the last word, abi, Avram and Jim (in alphabetic order, there is no intent of ranking or preference) have the privilege of enforcing those words.

Me... I have the duty to tailor my expressions to those standards (as I perceive them), and to my desire to share/communicate.

And I resent the hell out of someone I don't know telling someone I do they can't share that same privilege.

So, mostly kindly, put a sock in it,and skip the bits you don't like (the second was certainly long enough to get the idea you might not be interested, long before the point of real offense to one's sensibilities).

Xopher (and by extension everyone else) feel free to share what you like. I will read, or not, as I see fit, no offense will be taken for your doing so (I make no promises not to be offended on matter of substance).

#344 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:29 PM:

Xeger @265 -- I learned to sew on a Singer treadle machine. Still miss it.

Stefan @280 -- MOST cool!

Xeger @323 -- you redesigned haggis!

Abi @326 -- that's how my mother and I learned to actually make clothes (as opposed to using a sewing machine). We had just arrived in the states and couldn't afford really good clothes, so a friend introduced us to the miracles of ready-made patterns. My mother even made a friend's wedding dress (white lace over blue satin, rather medieval looking) out of one.

#345 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:39 PM:

Locally, I've just made roast chicken with sage & garlic stuffing - it worked well, but I need to adjust the cooking temperature profile. (Not having any numeric indication on the oven dial doesn't help. Mind you, it was wrong even when the numbers hadn't rubbed off.)

Recently, I've been making a lot of inky paper, which is to say I've been teaching myself printmaking. As a byproduct, I make huge piles of wood and lino shavings. Sometimes, for a change, I make a mess with acrylic instead. I made some devotional art for the Church of Om - I couldn't go to the service at DWCon myself, sadly.

As a coder, I help make a world - I'm a volunteer programmer for Discworld MUD, working on a codebase that's been expanded and maintained (but mostly expanded) continuously for fifteen years. It's taught me a great deal about logic and craftsmanship (though I am but an egg) and crowbars my mind open a little wider each time.

I am also making myself into a singer, after years of being told "no, hopeless, stop that".

#346 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:45 PM:

Cat @ 338

I like 'Knitting for Dummies'; it's the first one I've seen that explains long-tailed cast-ons in a way that I can actually follow, and their other information is pretty good, along with their references. (You'd think that I'd have learned that one years ago, but no, I've been using other methods.)

#347 ::: Erin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:52 PM:

Serge@269: I have often read that the way to remove a light bulb that has broken off at the socket is to jam a potato in it, and then twist the potato. However, I've never tried it, and I suspect that what you get is a broken lightbulb and a stuck potato.

I am making a website (okay, I'm making other people make a website). I'm making plans for sewing a bunch of new dresses. I'm making my son do his homework. I'm making a lot of new and shiny mistakes. I'm making another trip to California on Monday.

#348 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 04:57 PM:

In response to #255

As a self taught knitter... yarn overs (for the holes) and the various types of decreases (knit 2 together, slip slip knit, purl 2 together, etc) Some decreases slant left. Some slant right. I also recommend starting a swatch book and filling it with a bunch of mini-wash cloths and "barbie scarves/shawls" using different combinations of yarn overs and decreases.

#349 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:00 PM:

I recently volunteered to be the preschool-to-early-primary Sunday School teacher for our cash-strapped congregation. To save money, I recycled one of the older curricula. It originally came with a set of Bible storybooks and picture cards, all of which are long gone. So I made picture cards by cutting apart some old National Geographics that were being offloaded by the public library and pasting them to cardboard from cereal boxes, with handwritten notes on the back on lined paper from my old day planners. I went through several children's Bibles to find the stories I needed, but when I couldn't find a good one about Lydia of Philippi, I wrote it myself.

For homeschooling use, I just made a set of number flashcards.

I am also a cook in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I am currently working with other local SCA cooks to create a three-course Early Renaissance Russian feast. It's been a bit of an adventure because sometimes you just have to follow the directions in the old recipe and trust that whatever comes out will be edible.

#350 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:18 PM:

Sam Kelly. How to calibrate your oven:

Get an oven thermometer. Turn the dial until the gas comes alight. After twenty minutes read the thermometer. Make a mark. Notate the temp at the first mark.

Move the dial to a higher point. Repeat.

That will give you a set of marks, the temps to which they raise the oven, and a away to recall them.

Then transfer the chart to something more durable, and attach it to the stove. If you need to hit a mid-range temp, split the marks, read the thermometer. You can add a new mark (and annotate the chart) or not.

If you want to be more precise, you can fiddle with the dial until you have a x00, or x50 number. That will make it easier to follow recipes (though to be honest, saving pastry/cakes 25F either way isn't going to be that big a deal).

#351 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Xopher @ 312

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (source unknown)

That's one of my favorite mottoes (although I make no claims at all to being a source of any type.

Another favorite -- which is actually just a special case -- is "Music** is far too important to be left to professionals."

(**One may substitute almost any creative endeavor here.)

#352 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:32 PM:


Surely, in context, the right way to fill in the blank is "Fellatio is far too important to be left to professionals."

#353 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:38 PM:

albatross @ 351

Perhaps so, but I am not the person to express it, being of the wrong gender and persuasion to have a relevant opinion.

#354 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 05:49 PM:

arkessian, judging by your star turn on the Tor "first line" thread, you're going to fit right in here. Enjoy.

(I guess I am making welcome.)

#355 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:00 PM:

I make bottles for the world's greatest kid, Mighty Moe

I make time for my children and my family

8 times a year, I make the pilgrimage to the Vault to watch the Ravens play. I sit with my college buddies, drink beer, talk and watch the game that I loved to play before I got old. There is nothing finer.

#356 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:15 PM:

Heather Rose Jones: I don't think your being female prevents you from having an opinion.

Certainly, in light of Xopher's comment I think anyone who takes part in blow-jobs is more than qualified to have an opinon.

Hell, I don't think your absolute abstinence from the practice would preclude you from having an opinion.

So, as you are human, and aware of blow-jobs, I think you are entitled to have an opinion.

#357 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:15 PM:

I spent most of today making dummies of DM (direct mail) packs for a client, 4 copies each of 5 different concepts.

Yes, I'm afraid I make junk mail.

#358 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:24 PM:

Terry at 349: Oh, I know the technique, I just haven't got around to doing it. (Or, indeed, acquiring an oven thermometer.) I really should, if only so I can translate my cooking experiences into the language other peoples' ovens speak too.

#359 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:26 PM:

I have just made boxes for books that should have gone into the post ages ago. Tomorrow I'll send them off at last.

#360 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:31 PM:

Sam 357: Oh, I know the technique, I just haven't got around to doing it.

Despite your clear labeling to the contrary, I was reading this as a comment to Terry's 355. It took your mention of an oven thermometer¹ to make me realize that I misread something.

¹No cracks.²
²No, you really don't want to go there.

#361 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 06:42 PM:

Ginger @ 293: "She's very lucky to be alive. Kudos to her coach for immobilizing her properly. Not everyone knows how to do that."

Yeah, but he's apparently a taciturn sort who has been shrugging off any thanks, otherwise we would probably make him cookies.

BTW, she got out of the pool under her own steam and said she felt fine, which is why you have to pay attention to Jim's trauma posts and how he says that you don't believe there's no damage when there's no immediate pain. You must immobilize. Hear that, everybody? Jim knows whereof he speaks and you should listen to him.

#362 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:06 PM:

Terry @ 355

I don't think your being female prevents you from having an opinion.

No, but being female and lesbian prevents me from having a relevant opinion (unless the term in question has become plumbing-neutral while I haven't been paying attention).

#363 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:08 PM:

i haven't drawn in over a month, but i'm about to make some watercolours.

really, as soon as i get the written parts written (it's a watercolour comic book) which more-or-less means transcribing the interviews i have right here in front of me, which i'm supposed to have been doing for the last three days, with breaks for depression, nursing a waning cold, family outings, & endlessly refreshing blogs.

basically, what i'm saying is i've got a terrible mental block against the making i'm supposed to be doing, & i'm going to distract myself further by asking for some advice.

i self-taught me watercolours a couple of years back. i bought one book, & it wasn't so hard, since i have had extensive schooling in drawing, acrylic painting, & oil painting. but one thing i haven't been able to figure out are how to make good darks in watercolour.

cause the idea in watercolour is that it should always be a bit translucent, that there should always be a sense of the paper behind the paint. and for maximum only-achievable-in-watercolour effect, you're supposed to mix colours on the paper, not on the palette, & to layer colours over each other.

when i've used those rules to make palpable, large darks, all the layering makes opaque colours that look distressingly like acrylics. for this painting i resorted to darkening it up in photoshop. but i think my paintings would be stronger if i learned how to do it properly.

any advice?

#364 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:38 PM:

Heather: Well, yes, I suppose I hadn't factored the last variables into it. Silly heteronormative assumptions (well... not exactly silly. The majority of people are straight, and I didn't really have any reason to be aware you weren't).

I do think it's plumbing neutral, but as you say, your interest in the subject is probably pretty much a purely academic exercise; because there are preference issues which trump my assumptions about interest/disinterest.

My fault.

#365 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:47 PM:

Xopher #359:

I parsed it the same way. My brain slipped entirely out of gear for a moment trying to work out why an oven thermometer was needed.


Fair enough. Perhaps "sex is too important to be left to the professionals," works better, though that doesn't really capture the whole Stross quote and related comments.

#366 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:53 PM:

Terry @ 363 -- No hard feelings; I've trained myself to exploit chance occasions for visibility, but occasionally that does mean that innocent bystanders get whiplash.

albatross @ 364 -- It was, of course, a perfect opportunity for clever thread-braiding. Alas, that I was not the perfect person to braid those particular threads!

#367 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 07:59 PM:

To the Fluorosphere: In addition to all your other creative endeavors, you make me happy.

#368 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 08:18 PM:

Xopher @312 : Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. (source unknown)

My mother always claimed that some obscure English writer said that, and as she spent a number of years in college reading obscure English writers, I have no reason to disbelieve her. (Can I remember which one? Surely you jest! (yes, yes, I know your name's not Shirley...)) FWIW, I don't think you were oversharing at all. "The Link" is apparently one of those annoying people who finds it necessary to inflict his Sense of Righteousness on everyone.

arkessian @316: welcome to the gang.

Xopher @ 359: too late. I did go there, although not until after your comment. Either way....

My 11yo has just added to my 'make' pile. "I wanna be a Necromancer" (from some online adventure game -- I don't remember which one). sigh. 'get me pictures, tell me what you want. I'll see what I can do,' I tell him. We shall see. The teenager is still jonesing for a new cloak, but we still haven't found the right fabric. (FWIW, I've built a number of outfits from scratch, and a lot from commercial patterns -- in some ways it's easier with patterns, but in other ways, not.) The Euroflax linen yarn from WEBS should be showing up shortly, at which point I'll have to decide which sweater I want to stripe....

#369 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 08:19 PM:

Abi, thanks for the encouragement. My plan at this point is to make a half-circle, because that involves very few seams, and if that works... I have a couple skirts I really like. They seem to be made of rectangles and triangles. I can do that.
If everything goes wrong, I will be using fabric I like (and beating myself up over the waste of pretty) so I can make pillows. Or a cat bed. The Catina does not care about aesthetics, save to shed air all over them.

#370 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 08:51 PM:

Diatryma @ #368, "save to shed air"

A felicitous typo!

#371 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:01 PM:

Terry 363: I do think it's plumbing neutral

Um...don't think so. I think Heather meant plumbing-neutral with respect to the recipient. While women can receive oral sex, it's called something else when they do.

#372 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:03 PM:

The obscure English writer mentioned above is G. K. Chesterton, who ends Part Four of his book What's Wrong With the World with these words:

"...if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."

I haven't read the whole book that surrounds this quote, but a quick look suggests that it may be one of those quotes that's more agreeable out of its original context than in it.

#373 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:09 PM:

What is top posting?

Something that read bottom to top causes me to misread linkmeister amusingly (and inaccurately, I might add)...

Linkmeister @ 369 ...
A felicitous typo!

Xopher @ 370 ... Um...don't think so. I think Heather meant plumbing-neutral with respect to the recipient. While women can receive oral sex, it's called something else when they do.

#374 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Xopher: I don't think so. If she'd been talking to your comment specifically, instead of my exigesis of her response, yes.

But I made the point that having an opinion was plumbing neutral. She made a secondary point that there were other conditions which might render that neutrality irrelevant.

#375 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:28 PM:

The Stross quote is really more about spoofing or riffing on the Heinlein "specialization is for insects" list-of-skills quote.

I like PNH's riff on it too (not that I could lay my hands on it right now.) Specialization may be for insects, but if so, the insects have around 300 million years of evolutionary edge to argue in its favor. In a modern society, specialization is the main reason we don't all have to do hard labor 16 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It's a different matter when we make or practice different kinds of skills by choice, as this thread celebrates.

#376 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:30 PM:

Well, just immediately, I'm making a baby sweater for my boss, who is making a small person. Then I shall make a baby blanket, just as soon as I figure out how to make the colors go. (For anyone inclined to help, I have the three solid blue colors of Knitpicks' Swish Worsted and I'm looking for a light contrast color -- I'm thinking Bok Choy, but I know I've got the color sense of your average house ant, so I think I'm going to go the "photograph the color cards in greyscale" route to figure out which ones go if I have to do it myself.)

Personally, I make things because it's nice to have something material at the end of the day to hold up when someone says "what did you do today?" Right now, I'm doing office work, so at least I have the satisfaction of moving files from one part of the office to another and knowing I'm being Efficient! And! Helpful!, but for a long time I worked in an industry where I felt like I spent a lot of time not accomplishing much of anything important and certainly nothing I could point to and say "hey, I did that." As more and more of us have jobs that don't involve physical creation, I think we're needing more and more to create things for our hobbies, to satisfy our need to make and do, and to get the ego boost of having someone else admire what we've done.

#377 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:30 PM:

I tell you what receiving oral sex is called - AWESOME - no matter who you are or if you're giving or getting.

One of the few exchanges between human kind where everyone wins.

#378 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 09:33 PM:

Oh, here we go... Only last year?

#379 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:02 PM:

John Mark @371 (I'm shortening your name-- do let us know if it's acceptable) To a seventh grader in a small midwestern farm town, Chesterton was obscure. (iirc, the first time she said that to me, I was grumping about my knitting not doing what I wanted it to.) I'm sure she remembered at the time; 30 years down the road it's probably buried under information of varying levels of usefulness.

I do remember her saying that it was much more positive out of context than in.

#380 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:11 PM:

Erin @ 346, I had often heard that one could make an impromptu handle for a broken lightbulb out of a potato, but I am forced to conclude that if this trick ever works, russet potatoes are the wrong sort, because the potato failed to stick to the light bulb remnants. Or perhaps it works better with jagged glass, but not so much with just the socket, which is what I had.

I wound up testing all the breaker switches in the new apartment, because they were NOT adequately labeled on the box, and grabbing the socket with a pair of pliers to twist it out.

Yes, I did label all the switches as I discovered what they controlled.

#381 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 10:53 PM:

Rikibeth @379:
Yes, I did label all the switches as I discovered what they controlled.


I think you must be the most foresightful, organized person I've ever heard of. That story always ends with "damn, I probably should have labeled those when I figured out what they controlled."

Tonight my kid made music, on stage, in front of a huge crowd of people. Ok, so it's nothing I did, but hey - it is amazing to me that people can do that sort of thing, especially someone that carries any of my DNA. (Speaking of not wanting to learn to do things... Well, I guess that's the opposite, because I am learning to play an instrument, but I have not even the tiniest iota of desire to do it in front of an audience.)

#382 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:04 PM:

Cat @380 -- oh no, I'm a slacker, because I just wrote in general descriptions of the areas covered.

The house I grew up in had a Dymo label ON EACH OUTLET PLATE that had the number of the breaker switch that controlled it. My dad's doing. MIT '64. Industrial Design rather than Course 6 (EE), but he'd spent a good chunk of time in Course 6 before he changed majors to maximize his credits towards actually graduating.

#383 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:07 PM:

Rikibeth, #379, my breakers came labeled, but I had to call a friend to use the pliers to twist the dead bulb out. I tried, but wasn't strong enough.

#384 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:08 PM:

Xopher, some of your comments are going off on a tan gent.

#385 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:23 PM:

Xopher @ 312: The subthread about blowjobs is tangling around the one about eating your mistakes

I see you've met my ex ...

Link @ 313: Blow Me[1].

*looks around* SOMEONE had to say it ...

#386 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:28 PM:

Eric @383: In Soviety Russia, tan gent goes off on YOU.

Re 384:

[1] The persons responsible for this footnote have been sucked, err, sacked.

#387 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:36 PM:

Eric 383: You mean they're beyond the pale?

Marna 385: The persons responsible for this footnote have been sucked, err, sacked.

Different parts of the same procedure.

#388 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Xopher @ 386: There's a joke about African and European swallows to be made here, but it's not quite coming together...

#389 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:50 PM:

Oh, God my brain. Sorry, Linkmeister. My short-term thingy is whatsit, and I of course meant the egregious Lift.

#390 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:51 PM:

And the swallowing can't happen until after the coming together...or maybe the coming one at a time.

#391 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Marna/Xopher: Are we now talking about making love in an elevator?

#392 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2008, 11:54 PM:

My copy of the new Mason-Dixon Knitting was in the mailbox this evening. It has a top-down raglan-sleeved cardigan, from two skeins of crack Kidsilk, among other interesting and amusing Things to Make. (I'm not sure about the knitted mop cover, though.)

#393 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:42 AM:

Clifton #374:

Be able to != do all the time.

I took the Heinlein quote to be encouraging people to learn stuff that might be useful, even when they don't expect to have to do it every day. I'm not an EMT, but it's still reasonable for me to have some idea how to deal with basic first aid problems. I'm not an electrician, but it's worthwhile for me to both know something about how electrical systems work and how to do minor repairs.

Lacking that, you can become very dependent on the exact way things are set up in your life right now, as with some very wealthy person who has always had a driver, so never bothered to learn to drive. The day her driver gets sick, or all those shares of Enron stock tank, she's in a bad position.

Also, knowing how stuff works makes the world a much less mysterious, scary place. Some basic grasp about what makes the car go gives you a better chance of working out what's wrong, or what would be safe to do when something has gone wrong.

#394 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:46 AM:

S/he comes in colours everywhere?

#395 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:08 AM:

Rikibeth @ 379

The breaker box in this house is somewhat messily labeled in pen. It was some time before I learned that it was labeled incorrectly. Luckily, I've worked with 110 and 220 volts for enough years and enough zaps to be cautious, so I tested the plugs with a circuit check probe after flipping the breaker off (hmm, some commonality with the oral sex subthread here), and before workingo on the wiring. And I immediately changed the labels.

#396 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:09 AM:

Marna @ #388, no offense taken.

(/takes officious tone and says to myself)

"That couldn't have been addressed to me!"

#397 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:07 AM:

Our breakers are labeled with abbreviations...of Dutch words, of course.

I pretty much turn the whole lot of them off before I attempt anything.

#398 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:51 AM:

Faren - please keep on creating those reviews. I enjoy them every month. And I've been looking for this month's copy, I've misplaced it in the house... Grr.

Xopher - I've always wished that I could have been present for the panel where Chip Delany expressed his approval of the activity.

#399 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:53 AM:

Xopher at 359: Well, I know the technique for that one too, I just haven't got around to doing it. (Or acquiring a partner of the apposite sex.)

albatross at 364: The oven thermometer is a progress bar, of course.

(FWIW, I read Heather's comment as saying she was lesbian, but I suspect that's as much because I have a strongly inclusive and non-normative meatspace social group.)

#400 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 05:02 AM:

abi at 396: Turning all the breakers off before messing around is my normal MO, but then I did get a nasty shock from something once - I was doing a restaurant refit, and the bloody cowboy who'd done the job originally had left a loose wire where he shouldn't have. Hanging from one hand and one foot fifteen above a hard-edged staircase, in the pitch dark, after getting a shock from the rear bumper of a Cadillac is an experience that tends to stick with one.

So I don't like assuming that mislabelling is the only potential problem. Then again, I got all my electrical training in theatres, and the theatre invented the phrase "overenthusiastic but well-meaning amateur".

#401 ::: David Hodson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 06:58 AM:

Serge @ 295: Speaking of the making of things, has anybody else ever seen 1977's documentary Gizmo?

Why yes! Many years ago on TV, by accident, and in a somewhat altered state. I missed the beginning, and spent quite a while wondering what on earth I'd stumbled across. I remember it as being a remarkable film - I'm surprised that it hasn't been released on DVD.

Cat Meadors @ 380: Tonight my kid made music, on stage, in front of a huge crowd of people. Ok, so it's nothing I did, [...]

As my wife insists: whether it's nature or nurture, either way we parents can take credit!

#402 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:25 AM:

miriam beetle, #362: I'm far from an expert at watercolor--I've mostly used acrylics, and the thing I had trouble figuring out was getting light colors without making them turn pastel--but... some colors are naturally darker than others. It may work to dilute those colors as little as possible before putting them on the page. Also, there's probably nothing wrong with sometimes mixing colors off the page to limit the amount of layering you need to do.

I just did a quick web search and the wikipedia article on watercolor looks surprisingly good, and includes a bibliography.

#403 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:29 AM:

Arrr ye making like a Pirate today, me hearties?

#404 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:57 AM:

Sam - where does the Cadillac fit into your story? I replaced an outlet in my house last night, and even though the breaker was off, and the voltage meter said it was off, I was cringing right before I started.

#405 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 09:25 AM:

#402: Merrill Lynch! Lehman Brothers! Goldman Sachs! Bear Stearns! Freddie Mac! Fannie Mae!


#406 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 09:35 AM:

I am making images in a 3D animation app for various purposes today. Of course, since they're all meant to be viewed on a projector screen...

I guess I'm making light.

#407 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:02 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 404
The Corporate Raiders scene from the Python film The Meaning of Life! Arrr! Parrots of the sky we be! oops ...

#408 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:21 AM:

#362 miriam beetle

In college, I took a course in water color painting.

My instructor had us mixing up dark colors on the palette before applying them to the paper. It was part of learning about color gradients, going from light to dark. Dark paint will allow the paper to show through. Watercolor is very translucent -- until you start adding too many washes to the surface.

The next exercize in class was to create a page of "paint chips". This involved taking one color of paint and laying down a wash of just that color. Then we mixed the base color with a second color and laid down a wash and wrote what the combo was. Rinse, lather, repeat until all 11 of the other colors had been mixed with the first one. (We were made to work with a limited palette of colors) Then we started over with the second color and did the same thing.

We also did gradients of the two color blends.

In short, to make a dark wash, just add more pigment/paint to the water before applying it to the paper. You are also allowed to mix colors before applying to them to paper.

If the result is too dark, brush clean water over the area and blot the surface with a clean, dry cloth.

#409 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:40 AM:

On labeling your circuit breaker (or fuse) box, if you're alone:

Flip everything off. For the outlets, at least, plug in a vacuum cleaner or something that makes noise. Toggle on until you hear the machine. Label.

#410 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:42 AM:

A friend reports happiness with some scrub dresses I'd made her: pull a pattern from the best-fitting of the ones she has, make changes (put the waistline where hers is, lengthen the ties, change the cut-on sleeve to inset so it fits her shoulder area correctly) and additions (she runs hot, so there are mesh gussets under the arms), build the things. Even the doctors commented favorably, and they "would not ordinarily notice if I showed up in a HazMat suit."

#411 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 11:48 AM:

JJ Fozz @403: It was a restaurant. A Caddy hanging from the ceiling is how I figured the scene.

Speaking of theaters and electrics, I once was part of a crew dismantling and salvaging from a stage scheduled for demolition, and cut into a live wire while removing plugs from a light batten. Most disconcerting. I was luckily on a wooden ladder at the time.

ObTopic: currently making a house habitable. Once all the books are out of boxes and onto shelves, the rest is easy.

#412 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:02 PM:

Thanks, guys, for restarting something-or-other. Yesterday I realized that although I'd packed *all* the sheet music, I actually had a whole piano bench I could hide some in. I went to International Music Score Library Project and downloaded some stuff to print, including a couple new things, and played them all through. Today I'm making tiramisu for tomorrow night's block party, and tonight I'm making scratch pizza. Go making!

#413 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:14 PM:

JJ Fozz: He's making a refererence to the sense of impact from a a solid jolt. I hot his with some 110/120 and it actually flung me several feet back from the lamp which was shorting.

#414 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:15 PM:

I got hit. Sheesh.

#415 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 12:30 PM:

Pericat: I can see that, it makes at least as much sense as my read on it does.

#416 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Tania (#397): Thanks for the kind words! I just sent out the November column this morning. After I got it roughed out yesterday, and did a bunch of errands downtown, all the talk of creativity on this thread got to me, and for the first time in months I made a necklace. Haven't got a photo, but the theme is bright autumn leaves, with those sorts of colors and some small leaf shapes in shell and horn. Very satisfying to do that again.

#417 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 01:28 PM:

Most recently Terry at 414: Sort of both, really. It was a restaurant themed as an American Diner (this is in a rural English town) and it was in a basement. Underneath, of all the ironic things, a McDonalds. Above the stairs going down into it, someone had mounted the rear end of a Cadillac, and the only way to get to it was to edge along a foot-wide "balcony" from the front door. There were lights in the open trunk; I needed to check the wiring to the lights; I proved to my complete satisfaction that it was so far substandard it was trying to breathe magma, when I put my hand on the bumper. And, yeah. Sense of impact, alright. I'm just glad the galvanic shock tightened my grip on the railing.

#418 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:43 PM:

wesley, victoria,

thanks so much! i will try that. it's great when the visual artists come out of hiding around here.

#419 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 02:47 PM:

Just made a fire in the woodstove in our new house, then made a latte with my retro red coffee maker.

Reading this thread makes me happy, by the way.

#420 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:34 PM:

There is no simple road down to the rocks,
each storm has muddied the established way
and made into hard work what was once play.

The lion is no braver than the fox
but louder, and much fiercer, in array;
there is no simple road down to the rocks.

We build a wall out of a baby's blocks
and think to daub it with unrefined clay,
this is a matter for a lesser day;
there is no simple road down to the rocks.

#421 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:42 PM:

Fragano - I don't recognize that poem, but I like its imagery

#422 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:52 PM:

JJ Fozz - Fragano is one of the foremost verse makers on Making Light. It is a poem of his own creation.

He and abi are quite inspirational for those of us that like to play with words in that way.

#423 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 03:52 PM:

You don't recognize it because Fragano probably wrote it. Abi tends to do sonnets; Fragano does villanelles.

I manage a haiku once in a while. :)

#424 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:19 PM:

I tend to produce haikus and limericks with questionable content.

#425 ::: JJ Fozz ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:19 PM:

Thank you, Fragano, for the words.

I heard Joan Osborne singing "Cathedrals" this morning on the radio - that was a great way to start the day. I was immediately transported back to the churches I visited when I was in Italy.

I used to "make" words and poems, but it's been a long time - if life ever calms down maybe I'll give it another shot

#426 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:28 PM:

So many here
Have sipped from Hippocrene

A few have taken draughts,
as can be plainly seen.

It's making light
by making verse

and making pun
could be much 'vurse

#427 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:30 PM:

JJ Fozz #420: Thanks!

#428 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:39 PM:

Bear Stearns sounds like the name of a company that failed to cover its ass.

#429 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 04:54 PM:

Epicure & Photographer Karney
knows a hundred way to harm. We
must admit to a thrill
as he uses wit and skill
taking salt from the man to make blarney.

(please forgive my abuse of meter. no impugning of Terry's character is implied, all standard disclaimers apply, and his B&W seaweed photgraph looks really great in my office)

#430 ::: Sarah E ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 05:13 PM:

I'm making leftovers for lunches this week (boiled potatoes with a mustard garlic dressing and chicken baked with garlic and onions). I'm watching the clouds roll down the mountains and make snow.

This evening I will probably be picking crabapples to make crab apple sauce.

I'm beginning to work on Christmas presents: wirework necklaces (inspired at a distance by Elise Mattheson), paintings, and small soft sculpture animals painted with acrylics. Which is to say that I am mostly in the list making and material acquisition stage.

#431 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 05:47 PM:

Tania 428: Not hard to edit it to fix the meter, while keeping your intent and most of your words:

Photographer-Epicure Karney
Knows a myriad methods of harm. We
Admit to a thrill
At his wit and his skill
As he de-salts the man to make blarney.

#432 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 06:46 PM:

I've just made a lace repeat on my Hosta Shawl. Ooooo, pretty! I think if I got stuck on the proverbial deserted island* I'd be happy with nothing but knitting needles, Jaggerspun Zephyr and my Barbara Walker treasuries to keep me company.

*because you can't wear shawls on DESERT islands! No. I'd want to be marooned on one of the ones up by Vancouver.

#433 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:04 PM:

TexAnne: I don't think of lace shawls as being...waterproof.

On a desert island, one can at least use it to keep off the sun!

#434 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:23 PM:

Wool keeps you warm even when it's wet, Ralph. It's magic! Also, lace shawls work as sunshades only if you don't mind getting a tan in the shape of the lace pattern. I wouldn't object at all, mind you, but other people might.

#435 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 07:47 PM:

There is no possible way that Jaggerspun yarn can be as awesome as it sounds. Because it sounds like Jaegerspun, and I expect Girl Genius Jaegermormors could knit some very deadly sweaters with it.

I stopped writing poetry about invertebrates about when I started making hats out of them. I should pick it back up again. Echinodermata names work so well for double dactyls.

#436 ::: gaukler ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:35 PM:

I'm about to start sewing a grand assiette arming doublet. Usually I melt and hammer metal.

#437 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 08:38 PM:

Carol Kimball @408:

Genius! Labeling the breaker switches isn't something I remember when company's over, and the cat's unreliable about that sort of thing.

I think all of my switch labels are wrong, as if they were labeled randomly. And given certain other construction details (the light that can't be changed! the screen door affixed to the door frame with epoxy! and many more!) - well, I'd say random application is plausible.

Tonight, I make labels for the switches!

#438 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: September 19, 2008, 10:05 PM:

joann @187: I've been unMaking, lately. What else can you call packing up many books, taking down 80% of the bookshelves, and otherwise not allowing yourself to actually make anything because the other thing that always gets made is a Mess?

Ah, I was depressed that I couldn't actually claim to be making anything. Previous projects have included painting/(pen&ink/airbrush) illustration/(HTML/JavaScript/MEL) coding/animation; but doing none of that now. But joann's comment gave me entry to claim creative destruction.

Erik Nelson @183:The trouble with making things is you need room to do it.

Exactly so. Work out of my old shop ground to a halt years ago, because I couldn't start anything without clearing off surfaces, and I had run out of room to place the excess.

I have a friend who had been running his business out of a ridiculously crowded space for years, but managed to buy a larger building last year. In part for trade in helping move 30 tons of comics last summer, and ongoing assistance, I have permission to off load some of this stuff.

So I have rented a POD for a month, and I have been tearing down my old shop (if I didn't have this shipping container, I would not have enough room to pack things away). It goes slowly; I label each box, and make a master list of what is going into the boxes. Some things I don't sweat too much, but I list all books by title and author; how else will I know which box they're in if I need to find them again?

Ancient computer stuff is likely to remain in boxes forever; old books may remain in boxes almost as long. There is a chance that old art tools (opaque projector, light table, airbrush equipment) might find a space to get set up again.

So, dismantling, with the hope of resurrection.

#439 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:34 AM:

I've spent much of this evening experimenting for no good reason with something one might call wig making if generous and "What the hell are you doing" otherwise.

It seems that synthetic fibre does quite well with football jersey style mesh, despite detesting every other mesh-like substance I tried.

#440 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 12:47 AM:

I'm nearing the completion of a counted cross stitch Christmas stocking - the 8th I've made, with the previous 7 going to my nieces and their children. This one was to be for one niece's husband, but since she's divorcing him, I guess he won't be getting it.
To me, the pleasure is in the making, not the having, so I like knowing in advance who is going to get the finished project. I think that's the biggest drawback to crafts...once I finish I don't have any particular desire to keep what I've made (being in a constant battle with the clutter monster and not wanting to add more to what I already have.)

#441 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:32 AM:

TexAnne @431, if you're stuck on an island, I'd recommend the one Cat Bordhi lives on. It has two very nice yarn shops. And Cat Bordhi. No desert, but they do have desserts. And a camel. Not on the same plate, of course.

#442 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:55 AM:

David Hodson @ 400... I especially loved the last image, reminding us that for the many crackpot ideas that are exactly that, there are a few that may have seemed crazy, but people persisted, and the results can be seen gracefully flying across the sky.

#443 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 02:37 AM:

Xopher - Thank you!!

I was feeling proud of the pecunium reference, but I really like your de-salt making blarney line.

#444 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 07:45 AM:

Dena, 440: Oh, of course! Camels, dessert, yarn shops, and an endless supply of brilliant patterns.

#445 ::: dichroic ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 08:08 AM:

Funny to click to Making Light and read this just while seaming up a vest (US usage) I've just finished knitting. I've also got a sock on the needles, in a pattern of my own design with a many rowing motifs as I could figure out how to knit and cram onto one sock.

I think this whole idea is behind a major source of discontent for my husband lately: at work he's managing and not making things, and at home we're expats living in an apartment and there's no room or opportunity for the sorts of making projects he's used to doing.He's been known to settle for Lego projects but I think to be really haooy he needs to ind things he wakes to make that can conveniently be made here.

#446 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 09:59 AM:

Making time to catch up with what you're all making. Wow, we're making a lot of stuff...

j h woodyatt @57: For the last several weeks, I've been learning to use Twelf, so I can prove whether the vague idea for an intermediate compiled language I have scribbled down in my notebook— it's an explicitly typed variant of the polyadic ?-calculus with receive guards instead of replication and summation and asynchronous transmit only— can be extended to support second-order polymorphism and limited type inference.

Huh. I'm not going to ask you to explain: I know only too well what you're doing there. I will ask... WHY?! (For my part, I have a somewhat similar project on the backburner at the moment with the goal of creating a type- and memory-safe subset of C++ for use in a language-based-protection OS)

Steve Downey @103: Or you leave off a key part of the incantation, and you get eaten by a Grue.

Or do part of it wrong, and get eaten by a velociraptor.

Wirelizard @121: learning how to cause other people to fly is a whole new thing

Have you tried a trebuchet?

Joel Polowin @206: (I've had the "Altoids MP3 player" suggested to me, but it's too large to fit inside the "Easy" button, and I don't have the equipment or knowledge to do the chipwork.)

Which leads on to what I'm learning & making at the moment:

Currently learning electronics. Specifically, going back over the analogue stuff that I originally skimmed through as being too hard before I started learning all the fancy digital stuff. Learning verilog, for doing FPGA things. Learning to make and assemble circuit boards, including (hopefully) with surface mount chips.

So, hopefully, at some point in the not-too-distant future, I'd know how exactly to take one of these, one of these and one of these and put them together to make an MP3 player.

Finally finding time to make some fiction again. It's been several months since I last picked up a keyboard for the purpose, and I've been missing it.

Coding on a few projects. The most interesting is probably a civilization-type game. Working in Java, and learning OpenGL for it (one of its distinguishing features: 3D terrain, not the simple one-of-these-types-of-land-tile playing area you get with civ).

#447 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:19 AM:

Jules @ 445

Have you tried a trebuchet?

It's not the flying so much, but the landing.

I will ask... WHY?!

I'm not j h woodyatt, but I've been at the edge of parallel and distributed computing and looked over into the chasm, so I'll be presumptuous and give you my reasons.

Current microprocessor architecture, on which almost all modern computing is based, has run into a wall in terms of following the Moore's Law curve by increasing component clock speed, so the new mantra is "More cores, Ma!" Unfortunately, despite a few brilliant pioneers with lots of arrows in their backs, and a fair amount of experience with SIMD* architectures, we don't yet know how to write efficient software for the SMP**, MIMD† arcitectures that can be built with multi-core processors.

The challenge is to design programming languages and constructs that allow the average programmer to parallelize the tasks they want accomplished without having to deal with the nits of parallel communication and synchronization. So far, this has been an intractable problem. I will restrain myself from a rant about the training of average programmers, and the expectations of average programming managers.

* Single Instruction, Multiple Data, where many identical processors do the same thing at the same time to different data streams. Classic application areas are graphics, vision systems, etc., where there are large numbers of independent data streams.

** Symmetrical Multi-Processing, where all the processors are of the same type and design, and any processor can handle any given stream of instructions.

† Multiple Instruction, Multiple Data, where processors do the work that comes to hand for them without regard for what other processors are doing.

#448 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 01:34 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @ 446 ... The challenge is to design programming languages and constructs that allow the average programmer to parallelize the tasks they want accomplished without having to deal with the nits of parallel communication and synchronization. So far, this has been an intractable problem. I will restrain myself from a rant about the training of average programmers, and the expectations of average programming managers.

[insert high sarcasm here] "We don't need to do it right -- we can just throw more resources at it..." [end high sarcasm]


#449 ::: Strata ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 04:32 PM:

I think I am learning to make:
* amends
* time for myself
* space for things that matter

But it could all be a giant crock.

I do really want to learn to knit, though. And finish several projects in the project cupboard. One is saving some old favorite shirts by putting on a new collar and sleeve cuffs of pretty quilting fabric. The shirts are a pair of old mesh polo shirts whose collars are getting ratty and the armbands separating from the shirt body. Had since 1994 and they are still comfy, have good color, and fit well.

#450 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 06:36 PM:

Strata @ 448 ... having you about is making (joy!), all on its own :)

#451 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2008, 11:52 PM:

Diatryma @ #115:

If your friend's pitcher plant is a Sarracenia, he or she will find it easy to grow as long as it gets reasonably high humidity, the plant is potted in live sphagnum moss, and the pH of the water used is between 6.5 and 7. Rainwater or distilled water is best; if neither is easily available and you're in a hard water area you can add a tiny amount of sulphuric acid to bring the pH to the desired level. (For example, where I lived in North London many years ago I used two drops of 10% sulphuric acid to one litre of water). If treated water is used, the potting medium should be given a good flush from time to time, to get rid of the accumulated salts.

Drosera capensis is a sundew that is very easy to grow. It can be propagated easily from seed and its leaves grow to about four inches. Potting medium and watering requirements are the same as for Sarras. I can help you acquire seeds if you have no luck in your local area.

#452 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 02:44 AM:

I was unmaking something at bookgroup today. I've lost enough weight in my neck that the necklaces that should be above my tops' necklines are all about four inches too long. And then we got to see something newly made. Her name is Tess. That's me on the left and since I don't hold valuable things -- I tend to drop them -- that's her dad holding her on the right.

#453 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Drat it. I made a mistake in my lace project, and I can't decide if it will bother me enough to make fixing it worthwhile.

#454 ::: arkessian ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 01:48 PM:

Clifton Royston @ 353, and JennR @ 367, thanks for making me welcome. Belated thanks because I've been making merry with a bunch of good friends all weekend.

#455 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 02:36 PM:

I'm making Dates! I have three separate social things to do this week, after a summer spent hiding under the influence of depression.

Coffee date tomorrow evening, the Big E with friends on Thursday, and a very promising first date on Saturday, with a fellow who really understood how to make an initial contact -- bring up details that prove a close reading of the profile, with special attention to the Hairy Sneaker Monster.

I like having things to do.

#456 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 04:59 PM:

I'm pleased to say that the cake I made for Mum back at #297 was a success. In fact a former consumer technology* teacher of mine complimented me on it.

I also made a fish pie after this conversation:

Dad: I'm going to the market to get some fish for tea. What do you think your mother would like?
Me, still dozy at 0900: I'd say fish pie if it were my birthday, but it looks to be a nice day so maybe not something so heavy. See if they've got some nice Plaice or something.
Dad, ignoring everything I said after "fish pie": Right. Do you mind cooking it?
Me: No, that's fine.

* formerly home economics

#457 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 05:40 PM:

I'm making copies of old family photos from an album my grandmother put together 35 years ago. I plan to put them on CDs for my siblings so we can each have a copy and don't have to fight each other for the album. I may also put together a web page with some additional information about the people in the photos. (Whether or not that actually gets posted to the Internet depends on someone in the family volunteering hosting space. I haven't asked anyone yet.)

#458 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2008, 05:49 PM:

mcz at 450, hers is what looks like a Nepenthes miranda, some sort of hybrid thing. We went to the garden shop to get nice pots for her and some plant food for me, and she... she is a shopper. Several cacti, some random succulent, a bromeliad, and the funky plant later, we made it out.
I'm not quite to the point of searching out sundews. I feel like I've been neglecting my existing plants (poor pookins-- I got a cat and all my nurture went there).

#459 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 01:10 AM:

I made chocolate zucchini bread today! Thank you to the person that posted the recipe, it was delicious! I'm making cloth baby wipes out of an old pair of pajamas. I use cloth diapers, so I figure I'm doing the laundry anyway, I might as well save some cash on wipes. I'm also making contacts. I joined a parenting group here in town, and am going to meet them to celebrate the Autumn Equinox tomorrow.

(I know, lots of exclamation points, but I really am excited to actually be creating something again after two months of not having any energy left over after taking care of baby.)

#460 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:16 AM:

After that "bright autumn leaves" necklace mentioned above, I went on to make two more with an unlikely inspiration: kind of crude looking plastic "pony beads" that were a present from my mother-in-law. For a long time I ignored them, but finally I took them as a challenge to Make Something Out of This. The first necklace is a patchwork of all sorts of colors and patterns, with a lot of large, colorful beads that catch the eye more than the orange, dark green, black, tan, ecru, and blue pony beads around them. The second, from a different bag of beads, plays on their color scheme of dark green, light green, some browns and tans, and a deep maroon, adding wood beads in those colors, plus some green shell leaves (same pattern as in the autumn necklace). That one already found a home with a neighbor who liked it. I'm keeping the others for myself!

Thanks again to the people in this thread for inspiring me to go crafting again.

#461 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:59 AM:

#438, xeger -

That is very cool, both by virtue of being exotic, and because of the mental images it provokes. For some reason I'm imagining an actual jersey, purple, with numbers still on it, and you patiently fastening tufts of bright green hair into it. I have no idea why my mind selected these particular images, but they make me smile all the same.

#462 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 06:50 PM:

I have about 100 to go to finish making (folding) a thousand (origami) cranes. Must get re-started and finish...

#463 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Lately I've been working, with some online friends, on redesigns of Glossotechnia; one, a simplified version for people with no linguistics background, and one a stabilized, streamlined version of the original version aimed at linguists and conlangers.

Yesterday I helped my brother and his roommate playtest a new wargame/RPG they've been designing. There were five of us, and three of our characters got killed within the first few rounds after entering the dungeon. (My brother described it as a card/dice/board game version of Nethack.)

Until recently I was working on a major rewrite of a Big Lie I wrote the first draft of last year, but I've been stuck on it for a while. More recently I've been (re)making Wikipedia articles, e.g. a major rewrite of several sections of International auxiliary language and less major work on a number of other articles, such as Constructed language.

I'm still working on my personal conlang gjâ-zym-byn, but at this stage it's mainly using rather than making; in the last month or two I've done a couple of translations of short passages from the Gospels, and written journal entries in the language almost every day.

A while ago I made several refrigerator-magnet collages, gluing pictures cut out from various catalogs and magazines onto free advertising magnets that businesses give away; some for my own use, some as gifts. I want to do some more of that sometime, some more physical making than the conlanging and storytelling and game design I do most of the time.

#464 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:28 PM:

I started a new blog at

I don't know if that qualifies as "making" something, and no one's reading it yet, but it's posted now.

#465 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 08:57 PM:

I'm making things disappear from my apartment. Some of them are quite nice things, but I never use them. I don't know what to do with the beautiful red tea set my friend Laura gave me years ago; it's much too nice to throw away, but no one seems to want it. Everyone who drinks tea already has at least two, it seems, and why would anyone who doesn't drink tea want a tea set?

For example, I don't drink tea any more. For the past ten years or so, the tea set has done nothing but take up space and gather dust. The dishwasher has taken care of the gathering but not the taking up.

And if I decide to sell it on eBay, what that will mean is that it will sit around for six months while I keep getting square tuits, and then I will throw it away.


#466 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:14 PM:

Xopher: Can you make a donation to a thrift shop? Or possibly a retirement home?

#467 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:45 PM:

Xopher — similar questions going on here. I did manage to clear out a box and a half worth of stuff yesterday before getting stuck. What do I do with the lone teacup my grandfather brought back from Occupied Japan? I don't use it, don't want it, and have no particular sentimental attachment to it, but I feel like I can't just throw it out. I mean, it's history, no? (Sheesh, I just type the phrase "throw it out" and suddenly there's a feeling on the back of my neck that I can only identify as the collective disapproving gaze of generations of my Yankee ancestors.)

And then I opened the box holding something that does hold sentimental meaning for me, got completely emotionally sandbagged, and was useless for the rest of the day. Phooey.

The irony, given this thread, is that one of the main reasons I'm decluttering is to try to get my jewelry workbench uncovered and accessible again.

#468 ::: Cecy ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 09:58 PM:

Xopher - is there an "I Sold It On eBay" store near you? That would let you declutter the tea set right away.

Or maybe a community or school theater would like to have it for their props department?

#469 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:36 PM:

Xopher -- Craigslist is a better bet than eBay, or (if you really just want to see it go to someone who will use it) Freecycle. And there's always Goodwill, but we find Freecycle to be a much more pleasant alternative.

#470 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 10:47 PM:

R.M. Koske @ 460 ...
That is very cool, both by virtue of being exotic, and because of the mental images it provokes. For some reason I'm imagining an actual jersey, purple, with numbers still on it, and you patiently fastening tufts of bright green hair into it. I have no idea why my mind selected these particular images, but they make me smile all the same.

Hah! I'm glad to have made you smile :) It's not an actual jersey, but it is purple... and the hair is a truly startling dayglo orange!

#471 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:11 PM:

I crochet. I make blankets out of granny squares, all linked together into strips. I have at least two blankets on the back burner at present. At the moment, however, my wool stash is hidden at the house of Himself's parents, so I'm unable to do anything about either of them, drattit.

What I've been doing instead is playing games on the PS2. I recently increased the number of games I'd completed by one third (ie I finished the third one... yeah, I have a bad problem with starting things and never finishing them).

Other creative hobbies? Well, I write stories (mostly fanfiction these days, but some original stuff); I can knit; I've done cross-stitch; I'm able to sew well enough that I can wear what I've created, although I *hate* hemming; I cook (mostly curry, these days - although tonight it's going to be pork spare ribs, cooked slow); I'm able to play keyboard and sing; I learned jazz ballet and tap as a kid, then picked up bellydance a few years back. I can also assemble "make-it-yourself" furniture, given enough time, energy and leeway regarding language (or in other words, I'll do it, but don't expect me not to swear while I'm doing it).

Of course, I have the standard Aries problem - I start things but most of the time they never get finished; or if they are finished, they're not perfect and I feel like I've failed somewhere.

#472 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:24 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @371:

What's Wrong with the World (Chesterton's original title was simply What's Wrong) is not not Chesterton's best nonfiction, but it's worth reading. It might help to put it in context with other Distributist works, such as Hilaire Bellloc's The Servile State and Essay on the Distribution of Property, and Chesterton's Outline of Sanity. Or one of Chesterton's random essay collections might be a better intro to his nonfiction writing.

#473 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2008, 11:40 PM:

Wesley @61:

Wow, that's some wonderfully bizarre work.

#474 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Xopher 464: put a picture of the tea set up and link it here! We are a tea-loving group. Frex I personally love tea, beauty, and red. It might be very simple to find someone to sell it to. If not, at least the picture will be there when you get around to it.

For selling stuff I can't ship, craigslist is good: real money, right then. But for anything shippable, I've found eBay is the best way. It could be wanted by people in Tennessee and Alaska, but no one at all in Oakland.

My best move of all is to give it to the Goodwill, though. So freeing.

#475 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 08:56 AM:

Something I've been forgetting to link to: Cat Faber's song "Acts of Creation". I thought that there was an MP3 available on the net, but if so, I can't find it.

#476 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 10:03 AM:

Madeline F @ 473 ... "Xopher 464: put a picture of the tea set up and link it here! We are a tea-loving group. Frex I personally love tea, beauty, and red. It might be very simple to find someone to sell it to. If not, at least the picture will be there when you get around to it."

I'll second that... right down to the tea, beauty and red :)

Hm... any chance somebody here knows how to pour tea out of a double-spouted teapot, without getting the milk in the tea?

#477 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 11:10 AM:

Joel Polowin @474, thanks for that link.

I find this thread discouraging and so have been peeking at it occasionally but mostly ignoring it. In my day job, I make surveys, do statistics and write reports. It's not bad. At home I cook for necessity, and parent adequately, and clean somewhat less than the minimum required. I have occasional twitches of desire to re-learn how to knit, take back up guitar or piano, or learn something new like woodworking, but I don't follow through. I seem to make nothing artistic or tangible. Dust in the wind...

#478 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 11:49 AM:

OttterB @ 476, re: "nothing artistic or tangible. Dust in the wind...", as others have noted above, there's (re)making oneself.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” -- T.H. White, The Once and Future King

#479 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 12:21 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! I'd feel funny about selling it, I think (because it was a gift), but FreeCycle sounds like an does giving it to someone on here. Now I just have to get around to taking a picture of it...

#480 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 01:13 PM:

I made a visit to my parents last weekend.

I am crocheting a doily out of worsted weight yarn.

Last week, I made liqueurs by jamming plums and peaches in jars with sugar and alcohol.

I am making myself crazy with the long, long list of things I want to do, and objects to finish.

I am supposed to be making research for a PhD.

#481 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 01:36 PM:

#879, Clifton and #880, Earl Cooley -

What we were doing was to embed them in little nuggets of melted cheese. Melting the cheese keeps him from eating around the pill. This worked astoundingly well for a number of months, then he apparently started getting tired of it. We discovered that peanut butter worked, but that only worked for about two weeks. Returning to cheese brought about a total boycott of any cheesy treats with a candy center. (He must be able to smell the pills in them, because he'll still take plain cheese.)

We've been just wrapping him in a towel and being insistent about it for a while, but while my husband has been reassuring me that I'm not being cruel, he's been experimenting with an escalation of treats.* Now we make a small treat of deli-sliced ham and melted cheese with a candy center, and the cat is back to gobbling them down.

I'll definitely remember and check into the pill packets, though. Being able to give the pills as a treat is so much gentler to my spirit than using force, and I'm sure the cat prefers it that way too.

*I'm annoyed by this because I'm doing it the hard way, dealing with a struggling, resentful feline that flinches at me when pill-time comes near, and my husband is offering him extra treats and making me look even more like the bad guy. It doesn't help that I've got an inferiority complex about it. The cat loves me, but he's my husband's cat, not mine, and I don't have the personal skills to make it better.

#482 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Ha! In case the numbers don't give it away, that was the wrong thread. Oops.

#483 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:09 PM:

Making your cat take a pill?

#484 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:14 PM:

#481, Xopher -

Hee! Yes. With the added bonus of making an angry cat in the middle there.

#485 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 02:19 PM:

I'm slowly making myself into a motorcyclist, as well as getting ready to re-enter my obsessionhobby of infernal combustion powered vehicle repair/modification/operation. I sold off all my projects a number of years ago, and I've been jonesing for a fix ever since...

A good friend gave me an old cycle a few years ago, but I have not taken delivery yet. I've been not letting myself go get it or do anything for it until I had space to put it and the gear to safely ride it. That and I've been unable to justify spending any money on it, as I cannot abide the thought that I'm taking anything away from my family. This past weekend, the same good friend picked me up early and we went out to breakfast at The Bad Waitress and then drove up to the Dennis Kirk "Scratch and Dent" store up in Rush City. I bought a nice quality helmet and jacket. I've been hoarding some gift cards I got from my employer's "health incentive" program, as well as a cash gift from my parents, so no family budget was spent on this trip.

Hopefully soon I'll be getting greasy hands from working on the cycle and coming in from the garage smelling of hot metal, old gasoline, grease, oil and exhaust smoke. Oh how I miss that combination!

My friend and I had some good conversation time as well - it's an hour+ trip up to Rush City from Minneapolis - and he reminded me that I need some "ME" time, and that I really don't need to beat myself up over wanting it, or needing to spend some money on it. One can focus too much on "providing for the family", neglecting one's own emotional health can jeopardize the family far more in the long run than spending a small amount here or taking a small amount of time there.

I'd also like to get back into making vehicle-themed "useful artwork", like the Front Wheel Bearing ball candle holders, the Rear Brake Cylinder taper candle holders, etc. If this motorcycle hobby takes root (and I hope it does - they take up far less room/money than trucks!) I may acquire a parts bike and end up with plenty of otherwise broken bits and pieces to make "useful artwork" from.

Once we get the house packed up and cleaned up and put on the market and sold we can find a bigger place, one where I will have at least one garage stall dedicated to becoming Dad's Workshop. That was my one major failing with my initial house purchase - it has only a single-car garage. The projects were sold off (no money or time to do them justice) and that garage space keeps the kid-hauler free of snow and ready to go. There's room on the porch for the motorcycle, and I may get creative with plastic and/or foam-board to make a small "shop" out there. The tricky part will be making it not look ugly to potential house buyers. Maybe I'll make a shed... No code/permit requirements for sheds!!!

Thank y'all for the thread. While there is melancholy and other less than positive feelings knowing I have been neglecting my hobbies, there is positive feelings coming from so many of you being inspired to get back in the groove. Knowing I'm not alone in the "too little time/money/space/gumption*" group helps, too.

*Too little gumption encompasses many things - being depressed, being too tired after work/baby care/other, feeling too intimidated by the scope of a project, etc. I mostly refer to it as not having the necessary "activation energy" to get over the initial hump it takes to get something started. Fear of not getting it right can cause this, too, for those of us who have a wide perfectionist streak.

#486 ::: R.M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 03:22 PM:

#483, Cajunfj40 -

Re: emotional health - I remind my sister of that frequently. She's got two young children and feels guilty for wanting time away from them. We've shortened it down to the phrase "that's an oxygen-mask situation," it comes up so often in conversation.

I like "activation energy." It describes the problem quite well, and sort of describes the solution. (Reduce the amount of activation energy needed as much as you can manage.) I'm totally going to adopt it.

*From the instructions on airplanes to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you put it your children. The reasoning is that if you don't take care of yourself you won't be able to take care of the children. Meeting your own emotional needs absolutely counts.

#487 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 05:46 PM:

Right now I am making, among other things, a game about Dwarfs. My problem right now, is making sure to keep the right voice. If it were a historical drama or something I'd grab a dialect tape from some theater company, or a book written in that era, but when it's a dialect that doesn't exist officially, it's harder to find it and keep it in my head.

I'm after a style I don't know how to put a name to. I'd call it a Lancre accent, or Pratchett Provincial. I recognized it as such with lines like "you know where you are with a good ____",which I associate heavily with Pratchett.

I was also given this youtube of Fred Dibnah as an example of a good style to try. From a bit of googling, I see that what I might be trying to emulate is a working class Lancashire accent, though it also seems to have the Scottish influence common to Dwarfs in modern fiction.

I was wondering if anyone here would know any other similar dialects or accents I should look at, or possibly any good books/audiobooks that have well-written examples of this kind of dialect? The dialects that Lancre people and other working class people in Pratchett are going off of? I've got a good start, but my interest is piqued. I'm especially looking for anything downloadable that would have audio, but other stuff might be good for future reference.

#488 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 05:51 PM:

Joel Polowin @477: I think T.H. White said essentially the same thing, maybe in a terser and more quotable way, also in one of his nonfiction books. England Have My Bones maybe? (Much of that book is about his learning to fly.)

#489 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 08:30 PM:

I just got done making a concert from scratch in a week along with nineteen other folks (we missed you, Joe McMahon!). I'm also working on one of those shiny disc thingies.

#490 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 09:02 PM:

Joel Polowin @477 Remaking oneself, yes. Need to get back to that work in progress that's under the couch somewhere in a tangle of yarn.

#491 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2008, 11:17 PM:

dcb @461;

When I learned how to make origami cranes, I needed a bunch of them immediately (that's why I learned.) I totally got crane sprain from the unaccustomed repetitive motion.

#492 ::: Dena Shunra ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 02:16 AM:

What I learned at knitting group tonight: when you *think* you're making a first attempt at beaded knitting, what you are actually making is a peculiarly fascinating cat toy.

Extra credit for sparkly beads and a flashlight.

#493 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:32 AM:

Well, what we seem to be making in our house is guinea pigs. I supply the materials, Junior and the ladies supply skill and labor.

Gustav is churning happily along: 228 grams at 3 weeks of age, as of Sunday night.

Sassy has put on a hundred grams in the last two weeks; we guess she's due early-mid October.

Did I mention? There is nothing on this earth cuter than a newborn guinea pig....

#494 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 11:51 AM:

Finished the 'Faux Russian' afghan and delivered it, to sounds of appreciation. It will be used, possibly by a real Russian (living in the US).

#495 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 01:23 PM:

Jacque: We used to keep Guinea Pigs. They are coltish at birth. There are some quirks, and if you aren't careful (or don't have a market) you can be innundated with them.

#496 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 01:39 PM:

So, the recent flurry of necklaces, as posted to my LJ:

Iris Necklace

Autumn Leaf Necklace

Peacock Necklace

Not up to Elise's sandards, by any stretch of the imagination.

#497 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 02:21 PM:


The peacock one is lovely.

my latest effort

#498 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Oh, that peacock necklace is gorgeous! Exactly my favorite colors. That makes me wish I still lived up the street from a beading store (not that I ever took up the hobby when I did. Too many hobbies already.)

Am currently trying to edge some scraps I cut out of old pajamas to use as cloth baby wipes. Am hobbled by the fact that I can only do it one handed once the needle is threaded. Have not had a chance with two hands since the thread broke.

#499 ::: j austin ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Okay, so I can't follow recipes.

It's in my tribes gallery, page one, third picture. Gaah.

#500 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Terry Karney @493: Inundation is a ways off yet, but we're examining housing arrangements very carefully right now. This particular round started out because Junior is getting old and arthritic, and I wanted to perk him up somehow. (My Expert was just sure he would be Too Old to make babies....) Well, I will say that his arthritis cleared up like *that.* Fortunately, I'm looking forward to having more of Junior's line in my life; "market" is blessedly not an issue. But, yeah. Your point is well taken. Junior has amply demonstrated that, even at 6+ years, he can Get the Job Done.

#501 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 03:35 PM:

Guinea pigs are fertile around 2 1/2 mos old. If they aren't pregnant by four months they can have problems, becuase the fusion of the hips is sometimes too small for easy passage of the babies.

They can also survivie without nursing, so death in childbirth (which tragic) doesn't lead to a loss of numbers.

The other thing... males get aggressive if there is more than one with a fertile female. They are also very creative about getting to fertile females. We had one (Tweed, a wonderful guinea pig) who would take a running start at the wall, and carom off of it to clear a 2 ft cinderblock barrier. Took us ages to figure out how he was gettig over.

#502 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2008, 04:48 PM:

re 484: We refer to it as "needing a voyage to the Bunny Planet."

My "making things" energy level these days is minimal, but I did manage to make some nectarine butter (my county fair blue ribbon ace-in-the-hole).

#503 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2008, 10:06 PM:

What have I made?

First, and relevant to this comment, I have made my September goal for days in which I'm lightly online, work not counting. I have built a habit of not browsing where I used to browse.

This year I've been making use of my wonderful pressure cooker. There's a whole realm of soups, stews, and other foods that I'd been avoiding because of phrases like "stew for 3 hours" or "put in crock pot, set timer for 8 hours" or "defrost the night before." Now that those recipes all take under an hour, they're on the table.

In August I helped make two parties.
One took a couple of days of preparation for an evening's gathering (several co-hosts, 100+ participants).

The other took a month of preparation for a week-long gathering (20 people in our camp, several thousand people participating in our camp's art projects).

There's the usual making plans, decisions, and time for new projects, but those are for next month (it takes September to recover from August, catching up on the work of the mundane/default world).

#504 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 02:27 AM:

AHHHH. That's what I'll call the strange condition I have, where I wake up with my left fist clenched so tightly that I can barely open it: cane sprain!

Thank you SALMAN for the idea.

#505 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) sees (?) echo spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 11:56 AM:

That post at 504 is a long delayed copy of a post by j austin at 491. Delayed by almost exactly 9 months; was it a difficult birth?

#506 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 12:07 PM:

Bruce @506:

Good spot. I'd disemvoweled the URL, because it was a bit creepifying, but I missed that the comment was echo spam.


#507 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 01:32 PM:

Ah. I hadn't heard of echo spam before, and didn't notice. Mea culpa, y'all.

#508 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2009, 03:18 PM:


Nothing to be culpable for. I only noticed it because I saw some recent posts on this thread and popped it into a tab. That came up in the middle somewhere, and I scanned down to get the context, so I read the j austin post shortly before seeing the spam.

#509 ::: Bombie spots more spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2010, 11:54 AM:

It's getting pretty smart these days. Shame it's got the wrong thread..

#510 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2010, 01:42 AM:

That was cleaned up fast. I clicked on the (view all by) for the previous post (which still had a name attached) and got: The most recent 20 comments posted to Making Light by [Spam deleted]:

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