One of the things I would like to do this year is change the color of my bedroom at the Hermits’ Rest. It is a shade of chocolate brown that I chose in hopes of making the immense room look more cozy. Here’s a picture of Harvey looking like he’s calling a meeting to order, which shows the color.
What I didn’t do when I chose the color, was compare it to the color of the floor, doors, cabinetry, and trim, which are a currently unfashionable cherry stain. The wall color is more of a “bluish” brown and looks sorta sick to me. (I do not care if cherry and reddish wood tones are not in fashion. They will probably come back into fashion again before I die, knowing how things cycle.)
Plus, this is MY house, it’s a ranch house, and the color looks nice and rustic to me. We’re never moving from here, so resale value can be something my heirs deal with as they rush to sell our hayseed property as fast as their urban-living selves can do it.
I must admit, though, that while I take lots of pictures of things I like (my office, plants, dogs, chickens, horses, renovations), I do NOT take many pictures of my bedroom. I used to not like the furniture or the arrangement, but I like it a bit better now. That said, I haven’t taken a photo of the room in a long time, other than these images of a lamp and dogs.
So, What New Color?
I want to repaint the room, or at least most of it. I’d like a deep or saturated color, to keep the room feeling warm, and contrast with the light-colored furniture that’s there, under dog-proofing. I don’t need to match curtains, since there are only prayer flags, and I always buy inexpensive bed covers, due to dogs and their propensity to ruin things with their toenails. So, I can get another color.
Our rugs are maroon and brown, which are the exciting theme colors from before. Right now those seem really gloomy to me. We can use them elsewhere, like in the office building, and get happier ones.
Here Are Ideas I Have:
Turquoise: that frightens Lee
Robins-egg blue: that would let us keep one wall brown (probably behind the bed), since that color goes well with brown.
Coral or terra cotta: I like orange, and these are less scary versions of orange.
Sage green: I love this color, but I have enough of it already.
Buttery yellow: that’s the color of my bedroom in Austin, and I love it (and it has a contrasting milk-chocolatey brown wall that I also want to change. I must have been in a brown period 5 years ago.
Colors to Avoid
Red: my favorite color, but not good in a bedroom. Ditto maroon.
Pink: I think Lee would go all sexist on that, plus I only like a few shades of pink, myself.
Blue other than the two shades mentioned above. I’m not fond of blue.
Black: Yuck. I don’t care how trendy it is.
White: Nope. Too sterile.
Gray: A warm gray might be okay, but I have painted so many rooms gray lately that I’m tired of it.
Tan: the whole rest of the damned house is tan.
So, what shades have I not thought of? And yes, I would LOVE wallpaper, but we would have to re-texture the walls. That costs money, and people starting a new business generally don’t spend money on things like that until there is profit to be had!
Yesterday was just beautiful, sunny with pleasant temperatures, though a little breezy. It was a perfect day to do some more work on the chicken run. When we last saw it, the run was squared off, the roof frame was up and some cover was on it. Today, the chickens have a nice, big roof that will protect them a bit from rain, and most important, give them some shade in the summer.
After that, things got even more fun. The water dispenser has been repaired, and even more fantastic, it’s level, so water dispenses through all the holes. I’ve detected chicken action at it, so they know it’s there.
Next, CC built a sturdy device to hold their newly improved food dispensers. Now, the food doesn’t spill out, and there are lots of holes for them to eat out of. Plus, the food is in the middle of the run, which means it’s way less likely to get wet unless there’s a particularly driving rain.
With the basics taken care of, we had to make sure to provide fun and entertainment for our fowl friends. What could be more fun than a double-decker swing, right?
We realize that if there is one on top and one on the bottom, there may be some poop collateral damage, but what the heck. It’s fun!
We also added a few more perches for them, and I put a branch in there, so they will have something fun to peck on (and maybe it will attract some bugs to eat).
At the moment, the infirmary/baby cage is not in the run. We plan to put it in when we need to, and surround it with protection, like more tin, to keep young and injured birds safe.
We have also been discussing getting yet another dog run to turn into an area for new chickens, and making a place for chicks, with a heat lamp. Buying all these adult chickens is getting expensive. But, we plan to keep them inside for a while, to deter the chicken hawk and teach Bertie to lay in the coop, not the garage. This explains why we put so many entertainment items in the run.
Now that things are pretty well set up (I’m so grateful for it!), and Springsteen (the black Jersey Giant) appears to have gone broody on us, I decided to just let her try to raise some chicks (yes, it’s winter, but we will put the family somewhere warm if babies show up and it gets cold).
This may give us some less expensive chickens, if it works. It can’t hurt to try. Plus, they may lay cool colored eggs, if we get any to adulthood, with Bruce the Easter Egger as the Baby Daddy!
Thanks to all of you who put up with my chicken posts. These birds are sure entertaining, even if they are hard to keep alive.
The last major thing I’d been waiting for in my Cameron office was glass shelves in the window that faces the hallway. I had visions of my red, orange, and pink glass collection shining in the window, and hoped the reality would live up to the vision. What do you think?
I’m pretty ecstatic. It came out just how I’d hoped. It was fun cleaning all the shelves and arranging the items. CC came up with the idea to put some of my fake candles on there, and it was a great touch. I just can’t stop looking at everything. I even like the big, green vase in the middle. It centers things.
Howdy! Today my Cameron office is happy, because I finally got my window and desk glass. The glass for the desk came out perfect. I can’t wait to put my stuff on it.
The glass guys also got the beautiful half round window up between Lee’s and Kathleen’s offices. That should help with sound and cold air transfer.
The challenge was the glass for the window in my office that looks into the hallway. At first they brought one that didn’t fit. Then they went back to Taylor (which is a good distance away) to get another one. They brought back a second door top instead.
So, they went back one more time and finally brought the right size. They’d just finished when I arrived at 4. It looks really good. Ahh.
I look forward to less noise, protection from germs, and a warmer office. I also have two sets of shelves, since the glass people accidentally made two sets. They seem a bit confused. We will get those set up tomorrow.
I’m looking forward to furniture and glass rearranging tomorrow!
Last night I finished the scarf I was making for Kathleen out of some yarn I’d never have bought, mainly because I don’t shop at Hobby Lobby (Yarn Bee Wildstreak Brights). It really makes up into a nice fabric, though, and is very soft. Plus, it makes a great jelly roll.
It was really fun to just sit around knitting and purling as I watched television this week, not having to think about much other than how easy it is to stick your needle in the middle of the loosely twisted roving-like yarn.
If it were for me, I’d have made it longer, but Kathleen said she likes shorter scarves. Since it’s 100% acrylic, it will be very warm. I think it’s perfect for wearing under a jacket to protect your neck, without adding a lot of bulk under the jacket. So, it will do its job.
Now that I am making things again, I’m just going to be a bit more careful than I was in the past about making things for people who don’t realize how much time and effort (and expense) can go into hand-made items. My photos of past projects are reminders of what hard work I did, only to find the item wadded up on the floor, never worn or used. But, that’s a problem of the recipients, not me. I did take some things back when a former young housemate abandoned all her stuff. So there.
My recommendation is that, if you knit, crochet, weave, or whatever, you do it because you enjoy the process, the feel of the yarn, the developing fabric, and the colors, not to please other people. That leads to craft happiness.
I’m ready to start the next project, which should go quickly, because it’s made from bulky yarn (also inexpensive stuff from a big box store). I do look forward to using more of my yarn from local yarn shops and indie dyers. They need our support, so much, especially right now!
Here are the rest of my pictures of the project, for your snoozing pleasure.
I did want to share a little project I realized has been sitting around the house, just doing its job. I’m not sure what it was originally was intended to be, perhaps a wrap. It’s made with a nice Noro yarn in a pattern of knitting a certain number of rows then doing a row where you wrap each stitch 3 times.
And I knit it corner to corner, with strategic increases and decreases to make a rectangle. I guess I got tired and stopped when it looked like this.
It apparently occurred to me that it matched our colors in the Austin house, so it is now serving as a cushion cover for my antique rocking chair (it needs a new seat cover; my dad covered it in the 80s).
This just goes to show you that simple projects can be beautiful and serve well. I’m glad I’ve learned to stop trying to make more and more complicated things and to just enjoy beautiful yarns and textures. That lets me take advantage of the calming properties of my chosen hobby.
I’m always interested in what hobbies you’re using to help you pass the time, create gifts for your family, or take your mind off world events. Share away!
Another happy story, for your Blogmas pleasure. I once knitted. A lot. Pretty much every day from high school to when I moved to the ranch, I knitted every day. It was a great way to keep my hands occupied. I taught knitting to anyone willing to learn, which felt great, because it’s like giving someone the gift of never having to be bored again. I had a knitting blog and wrote up some patterns. I enjoyed being part of the local, national, and international knitting community, where I made lifelong friends.
I stopped knitting when it ceased to bring me joy. A few things happened that caused it, and I have written a good post on this before, so go over and read it and see more things I’ve worked on. I’ve been trying to get back into it, sporadically, but I think the start I got in Utah has worked.
I seem to have my knitting muscles back in shape, so I can do it a long time with no pain, and I now WANT to knit again. Yesterday I finished the project I’d started the last week I was in Utah, which is a wrap/lap blanket in a simple slip-stitch pattern (instructions here). I love how it came out, and can’t wait to give it as a Christmas gift (I can post photos, because the recipient has already seen it).
When I was done, I marched over to get the super-bulky yarn for the next gift project, only to find there was no needle to knit it with! We are sure we bought one when we got the yarn, but it’s gotten lost in all the travel and car changes the family has gone through.
Kathleen went into her room one last time to see if the big ole needles were hiding in there, but nope. She did come out with some yarn she’d bought earlier, which she couldn’t remember her plans for. “Make me something,” she said. So I am making a rib-stitch scarf. I like them because they look the same on each side (K1 P1 ribbing, cast on 45 stitches). That will keep me going until I can get to Austin and find one of my numerous size 9 or 10 needles.
Little-known fact: I am a very relaxed knitter (other than on that runner I recently made), and always need to size my knitting needles down to sizes to get the right gauge. Luckily, gauge is not vital on scarves, wraps, and throws.
This weekend, I discovered something really good, knitting-wise! The dogs are settled down enough that I can knit with them around! I have both Carlton and Penney trained to stay down by my feet, so I can knit with my project in my lap. I just have to keep an eye on Alfred’s giant paws. Harvey doesn’t jump up on me except to greet me in the mornings and evenings, so he’s good. I’ll have to work on Vlassic if I’m ever able to take him with me to Austin again!
So, as long as I make simple things that can easily be interrupted, I am back to my favorite pastime. I won’t be making lace shawls, mosaic patterns, or complex fair isle, but I’m okay with that. I no longer feel compelled to show my mastery of the craft; I just want to relax and enjoy it. And I’m even using inexpensive non-natural fiber yarn (still like expensive and natural better; I haven’t changed that much, but at least moths won’t eat acrylic!)
The short answer to that question is: all of us. Bias is normal for humans, and there’s no way to eliminate it; it’s part of being human. There are, by the way, both positive and negative biases (we are biased toward the kinds of people who most resemble you or share your beliefs, while people who don’t fit into our ideas of “normal” often engender negative biases). Anyway, I’m not here to write a book about bias (go here for more info). I just want to make it clear that there’s no way to get around having unconscious biases, because all of us can’t be aware of everything that’s influencing us or we’d be bombarded by thoughts. Our unconscious biases are part of what led humans to succeed (being biased against funny-looking strangers probably saved a lot of past people).
Why I’m thinking about this today is that I have been helping out with a diversity and inclusion initiative at my job. One of the things I said I’d do was evaluate some potential training courses on unconscious (or implicit) bias. There’s nothing this old instructional designer likes better than evaluating online training, so I was happy to do so.
I went through two different courses. In one of them, the presenter repeated so many times that unconscious bias is normal that I’m pretty sure THAT is seared into my unconscious. But I see why they did that: you don’t want people feeling guilty or that they’re a bad person for having them. That first course reminded me that I’ve been reading a lot about unconscious bias in the books about race in the US, so I was feeling all good about myself. The course encouraged me to write down biases that might pop up into my head while I was learning, and sure enough a big ole list started growing.
The second training was more scientific than the first, and I enjoyed that. It also had some exercises in identifying bias that I really enjoyed. Sure enough, I have a bias toward males in certain roles (science rather than art). And I totally messed up another exercise that proved the same thing. These results make a good point, that many of us retain biases that aren’t even in our own self-interest, thanks to cultural traditions, media depictions, etc.
Am I Biased?
Heck yeah, I’m biased. Some of them I’m more conscious of than others, because, like the trainings pointed out, by introspection and careful observation, you CAN see some of your biases and make an effort to mitigate them in the workplace (and beyond). Also, by actually exposing yourself to members of groups you have an unconscious bias toward, you can start to see each person as an individual, rather than a group member. I’m eternally grateful for linguistics classes and factory jobs for exposing me to people outside my in-group and letting me see them for themselves.
Here are a few biases I’ve made an effort to work through, and how I think I got them:
People with tattoos (blame my mom)
Muslim men (blame a long string of horny married men in college/grad school)
Black people (blame growing up in the South in the 60s)
Fraternity members (blame college)
Smokers (also blame my late mother, who died of lung cancer)
I’m not saying I’ve eliminated my biases, but I know they are there, and now I can make a conscious effort to treat people as people. I’ve benefited from this a lot. Now the bias is just a twinge, which I acknowledge and move on really quickly.
Now, other biases I wrote down I have a harder time with. As I wrote them down, I could readily see that some of these are really silly. I also can see where some of the biases are based on bad experiences, formed in self defense, and related to safety (like the Muslim men one, which required many years of meeting Muslim guys who did not try to proposition or assault me or my friends). Here are some silly ones that I need to work on. I have biases against people:
With strong body odor
With dirty hair
With tongue piercings
With poor dental hygiene
From New York (rudeness)
From California (constant bragging)
Who speak or write with poor grammar in formal/business settings (as opposed to cultural identity things like Tex Mex or Black English, which don’t bother me, or informal slang)
A lot of these look to me like things my mother would have said denote “low class,” and I got it drilled into me that no matter what I did, I was not to appear like “white trash” (Mom’s words). This verifies that biases against “out” groups from your childhood are hard to get rid of, even in the face of experiences that prove them wrong. The New York and California things are based on personal experiences, and I know perfectly well they are stereotypes. They are just very sticky to me. Do you have any like that?
Biases That Protect
A couple of the biases I wrote down are pretty obviously based on protecting myself from negative consequences (real or imagined). For example, I am biased against narcissists, and that’s based on how I’ve seen friends treated and how hard these people are to eliminate once they attach themselves to you. Now, narcissists can’t help being who they are, since it’s a mental illness. And I need to not treat them differently in the workplace, but I’ll avoid them in personal relationships as much as I can, to protect me. Do you avoid people with certain personality types?
While I’m being honest, I’ll admit to being biased against people who display giant Trump flags on their property or pick-up trucks. In my mind, I see them as the radical types who actually believe I have an agenda to take away their rights or force them to have an abortion. That’s probably not true of most of them. But, thanks to the media and reading comments on social media, this one is stuck within me. Note, however, that I am perfectly capable of working with, finding commonalities with, and even living with people who voted differently from me. How about you?
The final self-protection bias is one I am working really, really hard to get rid of, but it’s sort of funny. You see, I once worked for the great Stephen Wolfram, who is a certified genius with a heart of gold, but at least as a younger man was hard to work for. There was an incredible amount of berating, cursing, odd demands, and eccentricities to negotiate (I could write a book, but I won’t; we both have fond memories of each other…now). The thing is, he had a particular English accent based on where he was born and educated. Coincidentally, one of my coworkers at Planview has the exact same accent, being from the same area. So, every time this other person talks, I hear Wolfram. Everything that person says sounds like a criticism or a put-down (it doesn’t help that sometimes it IS that), but I have to make a huge effort to separate the two of them. My Wolfram PTSD is not doing me any favors!
I wonder how many of us deal with biases like that? I’d love to hear some stories.
In any case, there’s no doubt in my mind that my biases that popped into my head are just scratching the surface and that there are many more hiding down deep in the recesses of my subconscious, helping me make judgments quickly, but not necessarily fairly. Acknowledging them is a good start, as long as it’s followed by making the effort to eliminate them in important business activities like hiring, reviewing, and such. I’m on it.
PS: I just ran across an article that provides some great ways to open up conversations with people toward whom you may have negative biases. Check it out!
I get up really early here, since meetings start at 7 in this time zone. That leaves me plenty of time to get in a workout and then knit. So, as soon as I finished the table runner, I started something else.
You may recall that I bought more yarn on Sunday.
I looked around for something to make, and found a scarf pattern that used a simple garter stitch and slip stitch pattern. The best thing about it is that both the front and back are attractive, thanks to the magic of garter stitch stripes.
The colors really look like autumn, don’t they? And the slip stitches are a cute touch.
You’ll be relieved to know it won’t be a rainbow when I am done. It’s going to be a wrap of some kind, depending on how long it ends up. I have 6 skeins of yarn, three of each color, so it will be substantial, I hope.
Since it’s inexpensive (not cheap!) Red Heart yarn with no dye lot on the brown, I could probably get more if I need to. We’ll see!
This yarn is easy on my hands, so I can go faster than the thick linen stitch of the runner let me. What’s best? I’m letting myself knit something easy so my mind can rest. I’ve lost my drive to make complicated things!
Want to Make One?
Grab a few skeins of a solid and a self-striping worsted or Aran weight yarn that contrast or blend (mine blend). I ended up using 3 skeins of each color.
Get your favorite needles. I use size 6, because I knit loosely. You may want 8.
Cast on 150 stitches (or a multiple of 4, plus 2).** I used a knitted cast on. Knit 2 rows in the solid color (or more for a thicker border). Then use this pattern:
1. K2, *P1, K4* until last 3 stitches, P1, K2.
2. K2, * slip 2 with yarn in back, K4* to last 3 stitches, slip 1 with yarn in back, K2.
Change yarns every other row, carrying the unused yarn up the side.
End on solid color, K 2 rows (or same number as you started with), bind off.
I found the stitch pattern on “Striped Delight” by Marni Farniere. Search for it on Ravelry for two scarf ideas.
** If you don’t want the borders to look a little wavy, cast on 10% fewer stitches than you want and increase to the desired number on the last row of stockinette. At the end, decrease a comparative number on the first stockinette border row.
It turns out I didn’t forget how to knit after all! I’ve had a hard time getting going since we’ve had all these lap dogs. All those precious toenails that I miss very much are hard on delicate projects.
But, as I’ve been sharing recently, sitting here for two weeks with no pets let me make a thing! It’s a linen stitch table runner, I’ve decided.
It’s a combination of two self-striping sock-weight yarns, so no section is the same. One yarn is Noro Silk Garden Sock and the other is a Noro cotton blend whose name I forgot.
How did I make it? I cast on 51 stitches and knit in linen stitch holding both strands of yarn together until I ran out. I used a size 5 (US) needle, but 6 would have been better, I think. Ha. That’s a pattern, right?
One thing I have noticed is that my normally consistent gauge (number of stitches per inch) is not so great. I guess not knitting every day and getting a bit o’ arthritis have taken a toll. That’s why I made something so simple with the yarn Laura sent me—it’s good practice!
Since my whacky stitching and a couple of mistakes (also not like my former persnickety knitting drive for perfection) made the runner a bit lumpy, I went ahead and blocked it.
For those of you who don’t knit or crochet, blocking means you wet the fabric, smooth it out, and let it dry. By stretching, you can make lace stretch out and get rid of slight unevenness in other fabric, especially animal fibers like wool.
We’re just gonna have to see how the runner dries out. Regardless, I’ll put it on the dining table in Austin, because Anita likes it.
Aww, this takes me back to my old knitting blog days (yep, I wrote about knitting for years, but I’ll spare you a link). Back to general yammering tomorrow.
Today was the last day for my second batch of visitors, but we decided to go have lunch before they left. We went back to the restaurant in Park City where I met the nice server who saved my phone, because Kathleen wanted to get a t-shirt for their Polygamy Stout.
They didn’t have any shirts the right size, but we did try the beer, and it was good. All the food was delicious, though the visit was marred by some rich, drunk kids yelling. They kept shushing the loudest one, and I swear it would have just been more fun to listen to him go on and on.
I mentioned that I’m almost out of yarn and would probably need to Uber to the local Michael’s to get something else to knit on (yes, I am capable of knitting with inexpensive yarn, if I must). Kathleen said they’d take me before they left, so off we went. Wow, the regular shopping center outside of town was hardly recognizable for the tweeness of the signs and mountain-y style. Best Buy looked its best, that’s for sure.
I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but did get two contrasting colors to make the scarf pattern I found, but larger, as a wrap. Chris was really impressed by giant skeins of self-striping bulky yarn, and I saw a nice slip-stitch afghan pattern on the label, so I said I’d make him one if he selected the yarn. That would be a fun gift, right? I still have a thing to finish at home, so I need to get back in the groove and find some way to protect knitting from the dogs.
As we were leaving, we realized that the Olympic Park from the 19th Winter Olympics was right across from the shopping center. So, since we happened to be there, we checked it out. The views were spectacular from the venue, and it was really fun to see where all the ski events took place.
We didn’t have time to see the museums or anything, but the outsides were pretty.
On our way back down, we passed lots of hiking trails just full of people, since the weather is well above freezing today. Then we saw dogs, lots of dogs. We just pulled over to the side of the road and watched at least a dozen very happy dogs on the leashless dog trail.
There was so much frolicking. They all seemed to get along well, and definitely loved the snow. They ran back and forth, play-bowed and leapt.
One black dog kept jumping into piles of snow and biting at the snow. That particular dog must have run a mile just while we were watching. It was pure joy. I kept picturing Carlton out there with them, except he’d be invisible.
What a great send-off for K. and C.! They decided to drive their rental car back, which meant I could give them some of the stuff I’ve bought, so I won’t have to try to pack it all. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet there. I will not be bringing home all the food they left for me, but I also will NOT need to buy any more restaurant food while I’m here. I’m all set for a week of working by day and relaxing in the evenings.
And now that I figured out how to get my watch to track elliptical workouts, I will be able to keep the exercise up, no matter how bad the weather gets. Today, though, I’m gonna get more walking in.