Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bits and pieces

There is not a whole lot going on here. I am trying to savor my last days of the winter break, but the first day of the spring semester is fast approaching. Did you ever see the movie Lady Jane? It's a superb historical drama, made in the 1980s, starring Helena Bonham-Carter in the title role. There's one scene in which Lady Jane, who's fifteen years old, has a tantrum when she's informed that she will be married off to a man that her parents have chosen for her, for their convenience, and with no thought for her own. It's a really good tantrum, with Jane screaming, "I will not!" like a three-year old and pulling an entire table top of silver onto the floor. Her mother has to beat her, brutally, in order to make her consent to the marriage. At one point, Jane is given a break from the beating, but when she still refuses the match, she is hauled back onto the beating chair. Which is how I feel about school right now. Like I am on a break between one beating and another and soon--next Friday, to be exact--cruel hands will drag me back to the beating chair for 17 weeks of hell. Would that I could scream, "I will not!" and throw the silver around.

But what can you do?

Meanwhile, Mr. McP and I are reading Inkheart as fast as we can, so that we can see the movie when it comes out. It's a really good book. A bit slow to start, but once it gets going, it's really suspenseful. I am enjoying it as much as Mr. McP. And the movie looks fabulous.

I tried felting today. You are supposed to do your felting in the washing machine, but I think it's wasteful to fill the washer with hot water to felt a tiny wool bag. And I hardly ever use a hot wash cycle. Honestly, warm is adequate. So my knitting instructions included a no-washing machine alternative method of felting. Using a bucket and a clean, new plunger, you can get the desired result with far less water waste. I plunged away for vigorously, and although I could see that the piece had started to felt, the process was slow. After about twenty minutes, I decided that maybe I'd do a load of towels. The washing-machine method is much faster and easier than the plunger method. Still, my piece did not turn out as thick and small as I wanted. I was hoping for a bag somewhat larger than my cell phone, and instead I have a bag large enough for, well, about two pounds of flour. I'm wondering if I can wash it again. Will it shrink more, or is the size now stable? People who felt: can you advise me?

I'm watching The English Patient, but the movie is at a scary spot--Caravagio has been captured by the Nazis, and you know he's going to get tortured and we'll find out why his hands are deformed and hidden behind little black mitts--and I don't know what to do. I can't bear to watch the torture scene, so I am stuck. And the movie is due back tomorrow.

Mad Scientist is about to start the spring semester too. Last year he was failing all his classes and spending the school day skipping class and wandering in the woods. Now he has a 3.6 gpa, took the PSATs and got a perfect score, an 80--translates to an 800 on the SATs--on the verbal section, a 77 (770) on the writing, and a somewhat disappointing but still respectable 62 (620) on the math. So far he is fulfilling the requirements to be accepted at UVA in 2010 and overall is much happier.


  1. Felt it again, but this time use the washer. It should shrink more. If it's not enough, try a third time. Also, heat dry in the dryer each time. Should do the trick.

  2. Finish the movie--the English Patient is among my all time favorites--and the most romantic part is yet to come--the torture scene isn't the worst I've ever seen.
    Listen to Jen about felting--she's an expert.
    I loved Lady Jane. I hope the transition back to school is easier than you think it'll be!

  3. I've never tried felting. I like the final result, but have never knitted anything really to felt. I stick with the basics like hats, scarves and anything else easy.

  4. Yeah, keep on felting until it's the size you want. Be aware that you cannot reverse the process. At least I have not been successful enlarging my hand-felted hat.