Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Heart Beartown

Beartown State Park is an interesting rock formation on Droop Mountain, almost on the Pocahontas-Greenbrier county line. In the 1970's the parks department built a boardwalk through it. On a day like today, I might get some spectacular pictures, but odds are good I'd slip on the ice. I can do that here at home on the porch more conveniently, so I thought I'd post these photos from last October.

I Love Beartown tree Beartown Boardwalk Beartown rock formation--looking up at ferns Mysterious rock weathering at Beartown Tight squeeze at Beartown

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hatfields and McCoys

Book Cover: Feud: Hatfields, McCoys and social change

While we're thinking about West Virginia history, we should remember that Sid Hatfield was kin to Anse Hatfield, and the other participants in the famous feud. Here's my favorite book on the topic.

Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900 by Altina L. Waller. 1988. University of North Carolina Press. This is a scholarly book, but very engaging. Waller avoids simplistic explanations of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Many older references explain it as the natural violence of the inbred, degenerate hillbillies, while more recent authors present it as the exploited natives driven to violence by outsider-capitalists. Waller examines the feud in the social context of its place and time, and bases her account of the community on contemporary resources such as court records, deeds and wills. There are good pictures. (I always like pictures.) The link includes some reviews of the book by authorities in the field.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sid Hatfield's Trial

On this day in West Virginia history: On January 28, 1921, the trial of police chief Sid Hatfield for his role in the Matewan Massacre began in Williamson.

When non-union miners in Mingo County went on strike for the right to join the United Mine Workers in the spring of 1920, mine guards from the Baldwin-Felts detective agency evicted miners from their company-owned houses. After twelve Baldwin-Felts men arrived in Matewan, chief of police Sid Hatfield encouraged townspeople to arm themselves. The situation exploded into a gunfight in which seven detectives and four townspeople were killed.

The trial of Sid Hatfield and twenty-two other defendants for the murder of one of the detectives, Albert Felts, began on January 28, 1921. Some forty armed Baldwin-Felts agents lined the streets of Williamson that morning to influence the pro-union jury. Despite the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses, the jury acquitted Hatfield and the other defendants in what was the lengthiest murder trial in the state's history.

Realizing the impossibility of gaining a conviction in southern West Virginia, Baldwin-Felts gunmen prevented Sid Hatfield from standing trial in an unrelated case in McDowell County later that year. Hatfield and a deputy, Ed Chambers, were murdered on the steps of the county courthouse, sparking an armed march on southern West Virginia by union miners, which ended with the Battle of Blair Mountain. Again, despite numerous eyewitness accounts, accused murderers went free. Baldwin-Felts agents C. E. Lively, "Buster" Pence, and Bill Salter were acquitted of the Hatfield and Chambers murders on the grounds of self defense, although neither victim was armed.

As usual, I have links:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Prison Notebook of Captain James M. McNeill

Louise McNeill, Pocahontas County's most famous poet, wrote a short piece about her paternal grandfather, called The Prison Notebook of Captain James M. McNeill, C.S.A.. Here's an excerpt:

James McNeill, "Grandpa Jim", grew up on the family farm at Buckeye, Pocahontas County. He remembered seeing the wild pigeons how all day long, flying over, their wings darkened the sun. Almost his first memory was of the big and the three smaller Indians who came to his mother's cabin when he was five or six years old. He remembered, too, going to "pay school" and cutting his bare feet on the crick ice....

[In the Battle of Droop Mountain, November 6, 1863] Jim McNeill was captured and started on his long journey to Fort Delaware. Driven north along the Droop road with the prisoners, he met his Yankee brother, Al, hurrying south with the Federal troops. "Howdy, Jim," said Al with a kind of narrow, Scotch-Irish triumph. But the Captain didn't even nod. "The Rebels ain't speakin' today." He looked straight ahead of him and went on to Fort Delaware prison where he was held prisoner till June 13, 1865....somehow, there he got hold of a pen and a little brown notebook and with only a few months of "pay school" for his literary stylistics began to write poems....

The notebook is a small, ledger-like book, some six by four inches in size, and is faded and torn. It has lain undisturbed in the top drawer of a black walnut highboy these 100 years and is filled with jottings and poems.Some of the poems are good poems, and many of them are written from a war prisoner's point-of-view.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

5255 Pairs of Latvian Mittens

The 2006 NATO Riga Summit's Latvian Mittens pages include some wonderful images, and also an image archive including 5255 mitten pictures--photos of every mitten knitted for the summit, and more. I chose these three pairs of ladies' mittens (from the Kurzeme region) somewhat randomly, because I've just started to look through the archive. It was definitely worth the trouble I took to download and uncompress the 200 Mb rar file. Each .jpg file is 600 pixels wide, a big enough image so you can see the individual stitches, and therefore, copy the colorwork charts. I have 5255 new mitten patterns, for free! (I scaled down these images for the weblog--the archive .jpgs are 40% bigger.)

Latvian lady's mitten, Kurzeme region Another Latvian lady's mitten, Kurzeme region Still another pair of Latvian lady's mittens, Kurzeme region

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Latvian Mittens--An Amazing Library For Knitters

If you knit mittens (or socks, or do any kind of knit colorwork) you need to take a look at Latvian Mittens. You could say I found these in Rebecca's Pocket. (In fact, the mittens you would find in THIS Rebecca's pocket right now are a pretty Scandinavian design I got from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Around. But I digress.) Here's what the 2006 Rega Summit Web site says about the mittens:

Book Cover: Latvian Mittens
What will 9,000 hands have in common during the NATO Summit in Riga this November? 4,500 pairs of traditional hand-made Latvian mittens! That's what the NATO Summit Latvia Task Force has prepared for Summit guests. The mittens were specially knitted by hundreds of women and men around the country ranging in age from 30 to 86. Each pair features a unique design, utilizing a wide variety of traditional colors, patterns and symbols. For Latvians, mittens are much more than a way to warm your hands. Every ethnographic Latvian mitten tells a story, marks an anniversary and represents a specific region in Latvia (Vidzeme, Zemgale, Latgale and Kurzeme.) Some mitten designs are specially intended for weddings or other special events. There is even a rich tradition of folkloric etiquette associated with the wearing, storing and displaying of mittens.

Latvian mittens have been a hot issue for me since I first saw Lizbeth Upitis' Latvian Mittens: Traditional Designs & Techniques in 1982. It was in English and Latvian, and it didn't stay in print long. I eventually got a copy, and it is everything I like in a knitting book--lots of real mittens knitted by real people to keep warm and to delight. No "use my pricey yarn and pattern." The book cover here is a 1997 reprint from Schoolhouse Press (Elizabeth Zimmermann's publishing company), with a snazzy new cover, more mittens, and more photos.

The Riga NATO Summit site has lots of mittens you can view on-line, but I am hard-core, and I usually make my own charts from photographs, so I decided I needed to download the mitten archive, a 200 MB .rar file. (After all, I have all that data backup and storage capability now.) Of course, when I got it downloaded, I had no way to expand the .rar compression format. That's why I spent a couple of hours investigating rar and unrar resources. As usual, I have links.

  • WinRAR is the Windows compress/uncompress utility for this format. You have to pay for it, but you can try before you buy. Of course, I don't do Windows, so I moved on.
  • RAR for Linux 3.3.0 Beta 3 from Tucows. Shareware. I never got it running.
  • unRAR 2.71 from Tucows. Freeware, just the uncompression (unrar) utility, not the compression (rar)one. I never got this running either, but I came a little closer.
  • I finally figured out that I didn't have the "non-free" libraries in my /etc/apt/sources.list (I just installed Debian Sarge on this hard drive a couple of weeks ago, with much whining.) I did that, and was able to "apt-get install" the Debian rar and unrar programs.

Once I unrar-ed the archive, I found seven directories with 5255 .jpg files, all of mittens. Heaven! They are clear enough to use as charts, and the color and variety are wonderful. They use lots of interesting traditional patterns with traditional meanings. At NATO's request, however, one common design was omitted. The NATO mittens were certified "swastika-free."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Web Resources For Sewing Lingerie

These are my favorite lingerie-sewing resources. I have no financial interest in any of them, beyond a desire that they stay in business so I can continue to shop.

  • Sew Sassy Fabrics is my favorite source for lingerie "notions." They say of themselves:

    Sew Sassy Fabrics has been providing first quality fabrics and accessories to home sewers and cottage industries since 1987. We specialize in tricot, lace, elastic and lingerie fabrics, bra making supplies, lycra® and specialty fabrics for swimwear, activewear and costumes, and stretch fabrics containing lycra® or spandex for outer wear.

    I've been very pleased with everything I've bought from them, and I particularly recommend regular visits to Sew Sassy's sale pages. A few years ago, I got 500 yards of 3/8 inch plush lingerie elastic for $15.00. Since elastic is often the biggest expense in a lingerie project, this makes my sewing much more economical.

  • Wazoodle has a great selection of high-quality knits at good prices. Their tee-shirt grab bags are a fine source for inexpensive lingerie fabrics. I usually get one long-sleeved tee-shirt and a pair of underbritches per piece of fabric.

    Wazoodle started in 2002 as a part time business....Today we run operations in Toronto, [and] Montreal....We specialize in better quality textiles used for casual clothing, outerwear and children's wear. We occasionally dabble in finer ladies wear and home decor....We operate a retail web store at Our site is one of most visited fabric sites on the web, with close to a million visits each month.
  • Kwik-Sew pattern catalog. These days, I prefer Kwik-Sew patterns to the "Big Three" (Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue) I always used to browse. Kwik-Sew's patterns seem better-made and better-sized, and they include all sizes in one envelope. (I transfer my size to brown wrapping paper, and make alterations to my heart's content; or try a different size if need be. Meanwhile, I have a library of sizes in case I sew for someone else later.) Kwik-Sew has lots of lingerie patterns (for women, kids, and men, although I don't suppose you call mens' underbritches "lingerie").

    I usually pick out my patterns on this Web site, and order from Sew Sassy Fabrics or Wazoodle when I order fabric and sewing notions.

  • Dharma Trading Company has great prices on fabrics, as long as you like white and black, or you're willing to dye them yourself. (It's easy and I really enjoy it.) For lingerie purposes, they have many weights of woven silk fabric, and decent cotton jersey and cotton lycra among their knit fabrics. (I haven't yet tried their silk and hemp knits, but I'm intrigued....) They also stock dyable underwear and socks, if you prefer to dye without sewing.
  • Fay's Fashions and Fabrics has nifty value packs, grab bags of fabrics or notions. I particularly liked my elastics and lace trims.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Hillbilly Babylon: The View from Berlin

Hillbilly Babylon is the name of a Appalachian film and bluegrass music festival in Berlin. I'm not familiar with the musicians (they seem to be Europeans), but the 2006 film line-up looked quite interesting. I particularly like the Welcome page which explains Appalachia thus:

Hier setzt HILLBILLY BABYLON an. In einer Reihe von Dokumentationen zeigen wir das Bild eines sehr eigenen Menschenschlags, rau, unabhängig, oftmals sehr arm. Wir zeigen Menschen mit einem fast anarchisch anmutenden Freiheitsdenken, verbunden mit einer tiefen Religiosität und einer allgegenwärtigen Melancholie. Einen besonderen Schwerpunkt widmen wir der traditionellen Musik der Region. Moderne Country- und Bluegrass-Musik haben sich daraus entwickelt. Das alles vor dem Hintergrund einer fantastischen, naturbelassenen Landschaft. Neben den Dokumentationen zeigen wir eine Reihe von Spielfilmen, die sich auf unterschiedliche Weise mit der Hillbilly-Thematik befassen.

Here's their English version, which doesn't sound nearly as intellectual, except for the "ubiquitous melancholia."

Here, HILLBILLY BABYLON begins. In a series of documentaries we show a very unique ethnic group, coarse, independent, often very poor. We show people with an almost anarchist sense of freedom, tied with a deep religiosity and an ubiquitous melancholia. A special emphasis is placed on the traditional music of the region. It is the origin of modern country- and bluegrass-music. All this framed by a scenic, fantastic landscape. Aside from the documentaries, we show a number of feature films that deal with the hillbilly theme in different ways.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lingerie Sewing--Choosing a Pattern

Kwik-Sew panties pattern 2100

My scrap fabric reclamation project last month involved tee-shirt trials as well as lingerie pattern and fabric experimentation. I'm currently test-driving a dozen pair of underbritches (not all at once, mind you) in various styles, sizes, and fabrics. As with the tee-shirt pattern search, I'm trying to identify one or two favorite patterns.

I had good luck with the patterns from Kwik-Sew's Beautiful Lingerie, from Kwik-Sew pattern 2100, (at right; especially useful because it includes hip sizes from 34 to 52 inches--you could make presents for most of the adults you know) and from a discontinued Kwik-Sew lingerie set pattern. The Kwik-Sew Website says of the Lingerie book:

Kwik-Sew's Beautiful Lingerie is for everyone who loves to sew and a necessity for those who want to discover how easy and fun it is to make lingerie. With fancy laces and soft fabrics you can create beautiful lingerie that will not be duplicated.

The master patterns included in this book are for slips, camisoles, briefs, panties, teddies, nightgowns and robes. All styles are easy to make and designed for both woven and knit fabrics.Create unlimited variations. from basic to elegant. Make it for yourself or give it as a gift....The master pattern includes five sizes from extra small to extra large.

I particularly like this book because it encourages you to experiment with pattern variations, fabrics and trims, and gives good directions for sewing with knit fabric, stretch lace, and lace decoration. It's a good place to start. (If I'd bought it first, I would have saved money on several patterns I'd purchased previously.) There are no patterns or directions for bras, but I'll cover that topic in a later post.

Kwik-Sew also offers many different styles of underbritches, from long underwear to G-strings.

If you're seriously cheap and also bold about sewing projects, has downloadable " miniature patterns in S, M, L and XL sizes." Even if you decide to buy a pattern,'s directions for sewing and embellishing are well worth a visit. Rusty Bobbin presents her own pattern review, with excellent step-by-step illustrations, and finds that she gets her best fit from a pattern traced off her favorite store bought britches.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man

On This Day in West Virginia History...African- American railroad worker John Hardy was hanged at Welch, McDowell County, on January 19, 1894. I just discovered this feature of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. It promises to be fascinating.

If you're at all familiar with the Carter Family, or if you play the banjo in West Virginia, you know that

John Hardy was a desperate little man
He carried two guns every day
He shot down a man on that West Virginia line
You ought a seen John Hardy getting away
You ought to seen John Hardy getting away

John Hardy stood in that old barroom
So drunk that he could not see
And a man walked up and took him by the arm
He said Johnny, come and go along with me Poor boy
Johnny, come and walk along with me

John Hardy stood in his old jail cell
The tears running down from his eyes
He said I've been the death of many a poor boy
But my six-shooters never told a lie
No, my six-shooters never told a lie

The first one to visit John Hardy in his cell
Was a little girl dressed in blue
She came down to that old jail cell
She said Johnny, I've been true to you God knows
Johnny, I've been true to you

The next one to Visit John Hardy in his cell
Was a little girl dressed in red
She come down to that old jail cell
She said, Johnny, I had rather see you dead
Well, Johnny, I had rather see you dead

I've been to the East and I've been to the West
I've traveled this wide world around
I've been to that river and I've been baptized
So take me to my burying ground
So take me to my burying ground

John Hardy was a desperate little man
He carried two guns every day
He shot down a man on the West Virginia line
You ought to seen old John Hardy getting away
You ought to seen old John Hardy getting away

The West Virginia Songbag, edited and published by Jim Comstock of Richwood, WV in 1974, devotes many pages to the John Hardy/John Henry confusion, and includes five West Virginia versions of the John Hardy ballad. There are also several first-person recollections of John Hardy. You can see in the photo of the hanging that John Hardy was not a "little man."

Finding the Perfect Tee-Shirt Pattern

Kwik Sew 2900: knit pullover top pattern

When I made the clothesline full of tee-shirts last month, I was searching for the "perfect" tee-shirt pattern. I'd been using Kwiksew 2900 (at right), and it worked well for very soft, not-too-stretchy cotton jerseys and interlocks, as long as I made long-sleeved shirts. But with stretchier or softer knits, the results looked sloppy and unflattering, and with short sleeves, there was always too much ease in the armhole and sleeve. I tried some now-discontinued lingerie undershirt patterns, and used many pattern adjustments, but my results were hit-or-miss. Part of the problem is the wide variety of hand and stretchiness in fabrics classified as jersey, interlock, rib knits, or simply "stretch knits." The only way to deal with this is to try lots of different fabrics. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to sew it.

This fall I tried's "most popular Tee pattern in the world," Jalie 2005 (below). I made the three-quarters-length sleeve style first. The armhole fit well, but it was much too large in the shoulders. A simple alteration took care of that, and I have my new "favorite tee-shirt pattern." The short-sleeve view works very well too. Of course, I've made my own long-sleeve pattern variation, so that I could do one-to-one comparisons. Jalie 2005 works well on all the stretchy fabrics I've tried, including interlock, thermal cotton knits, and technical wicking fabrics. I need to try it on simple tee-shirt cotton jersey, which is less stretchy than interlock or thermal knits. If it works well, this could be the one perfect tee-shirt pattern, the one to reach for when I need to make something to wear.

Friday, January 19, 2007

From the "Frontier the Yankee Made"

Henry Shapiro's 1986 book, Appalachia on Our Mind: The Southern Mountains and Mountaineers in the American Consciousness, 1870-1920, discusses how Northern missionaries drew back, in the 1870's and 1880's, from teaching and saving freed slaves in the South, and retreated into the mostly white Southern Appalachians, where education and conversions were less complicated by race relations or Klan violence. Shapiro's style is less compelling than W.J. Cash's The Mind of the South (1941), but it addresses the same issue Cash tackles in this passage:

And in this connection [regarding the way vengeful Reconstruction policies increased white Southern solidarity, hatred of the North, and hatred of blacks] we come upon a figure which deserves some notice. I mean the Yankee schoolma'am who, in such numbers, moved down upon the unfortunate South in the train of the army of occupation, to "educate the black man for his new place in the sun and to furnish an example of Christian love and philanthropy to the benighted native whites." Generally horsefaced, bespectacled, and spare of frame, she was, of course, no proper intellectual, but at best a comic character, at worst a dangerous fool, playing with explosive forces which she did not understand. She had no little part in developing Southern bitterness as a whole and, along with the peripatetic Yankee journalist, contributed much to the growth of hysterical sensibility to criticism. But nowhere was her influence more important than at the point with which we are engaged.

For if she was not an intellectual, the South, with its vague standards in these matters, accepted her as such. It saw her, indeed, as a living epitome of the Yankee mind, identified her essentially with the Northern universities, took her spirit for that of the best intelligence beyond the Potomac, read in the evils springing abundantly from her meddlesome stupidity categorical proof that Northern "theory" was in toto altogether mad. And so she served as a distinct power in bringing Southern fear and hate to explicit focus in the purely ideological field--in setting up as definite a resistance to Yankee thought as to Yankee deeds.

From The Mind of the South, Book II, Chapter 1: "Of the Frontier the Yankee Made" by W. J. Cash

If this connection is valid, the ambivalence and bitterness that some people feel concerning Appalachian identity can be traced to Reconstruction, a policy whose effects historians tend to minimize in the Southern Mountains. James Dickey comes down on the side of the Yankee schoolmarm. Who'd have thought it?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Appalachia: A Strange Place and a Peculiar People

Book Cover: All that is Native and Fine

I've found these two academic books very interesting as I cruise the bookshelves, reading about Appalachia. They were published 20 years ago, and I don't know how the "Appalachian Studies" folks view them these days, but they explain some attitudes that have puzzled me.

All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region by David E. Whisnant. 1986. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807841439. This is an academic book on "systemic cultural intervention" and its effects on Appalachian communities in the late ninteenth and early twentieth centuries. Whisnant describes the way urban Americans, interested in the European idea of Volkskultur, identified the Southern Appalachians as a backwater in which otherwise lost Anglo-Saxon folkways and folk arts had been preserved in pure form. They also identified their rural "informants" as needy, and they proposed to collect and preserve the cultural heritage at the same time they brought them the benefits of urban education, morality, and capitalism. This book focuses on the consequences, intended and otherwise, of this meeting of two "cultures." It's a slightly dry read, but the data are fascinating, and there are some great photographs. I recommend it to anyone interested in Appalachian traditional music (or other arts). How much of what we accept as "traditional" is really traditional? What does "traditional" mean?

Book Cover: Appalachia On Our Mind

Appalachia on Our Mind: The Southern Mountains and Mountaineers in the American Consciousness, 1870-1920by Henry D. Shapiro. 1986. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807841587. This book is also about how outsiders have discovered Appalachia, described it, and decided it needed to be fixed, by them. This isn't one of the "capitalist exploitation" histories focusing on material change, but rather an exploration of how outsiders have defined Appalachia by their own lights, sometimes accurately and sometimes not, and used their own definitions as justification for intervention of all sorts, from missionary work to nature preserves. Except for a few stylisitic affectations (I was ready to scream the twentieth time he used the phrase "a strange place and a peculiar people"), this is an interesting and readable scholarly book.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sugar Maples In a Row

Very large sugar

There is a big stand of sugar maple on our ridge, the progeny of three old trees in a long abandoned fence row. I had plans to sugar this winter, but never bought the necessary equipment. Given the topsy-turvy winter weather, who knows whether we'll have cold nights and warm mornings, or when the sap will decide to rise?

One of our neighbors, a die-hard maple syrup fan, cooks down his sap on his kitchen stove and cans his syrup one pint at a time. It takes 30 to 35 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, so he must boil off about four gallons of water for each of his pints. I imagine they have no problems with dry winter skin at his house.

Another very large sugar

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Server Side Includes For Spice Ridge 2.0

I seem to be on a long do-it-yourself kick. Computer upgrades, sewing projects, and now, upgrading my "Web presence." It's way past time to work on my Spice Ridge pages. They are currently static html, coded by hand in Emacs. While reinstalling Debian Sarge on my new, extra-large hard drive this past weekend, I happened upon a .deb package for html helper mode. This really improves the Emacs html mode, and upgrades it so you can use cascading style sheets much more easily. Thus, I am newly prepared for the project.

For quite a while I've known I needed to start using server side includes. The Web pages are getting complex enough that updating is an unpleasant chore, and I know (in a sort of theoretical way) that it could be made much simpler with SSI. To that end, I have added a "Last updated" line to my home page (and so far, only to my home page). Here are some excellent SSI tutorials I've been reading.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Poet Points to PHP Tutorials

You never know what you'll find on Sherry Chandler's weblog. It's usually poetry, thoughtful political commentary, Kentucky history, and writer's comments on writing. I didn't expect to find good PHP tutorials (and she probably didn't intend to point to them) but there you go. She linked to an interesting toy on Miss Fortune's Cookies, one that generates "peculiar aristocratic titles" like "Reverend Countess Bootsie the Indecisive of Lower Bumhampton," and there, on her "About" page, were links to PHP tutorials she recommends.

Isn't it interesting how things just turn up when you need them?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Three Days Backing Up: A Tale of Woe

Three days spent on data backup. The good news is, my data are backed up (redundantly). The bad news is, I spent three days doing it. I ordered a 160 Gb internal hard drive (Seagate, 160 Gb Ultra-ATA, definitely not bleeding edge equipment) a couple of weeks ago, with the intention of putting it in an external drive case I already had. I'd been using that case for a year or better, swapping a 10 Gb and a 20 Gb hard drive in and out when I wanted to back up the data on my eMac. The new drive was going to save me the trouble of swapping drives (not a quick process, as the case was not made for this) and allow a back up of the entire 40 Gb eMac drive.

What I eventually learned: The case (the board, the firmware, some part of the case) is incompatible with my new drive. I can't use it in the case with the eMac or the Linux boxen. Along the road to this new knowledge, I took apart two Linux boxen, reformatted several hard drives repeatedly, reinstalled Debian stable several times (I lost count) and tried every possible configuration of hard drive jumpers.

The new drive isn't going to waste. It's now the master drive in a Linux box, and I've backed up the "critical data" over my LAN, using ftp. This freed up another 20 Gb hard drive for the external drive, so I can now swap between two 20 Gb's and a 10 Gb. It's not a pretty solution, but I can load lots of photos onto the newly-improved Linux box. I did consider replacing the hard drive in the eMac, but you have to remove about half the guts of that cute little gum-drop-shaped machine, including the cathode ray tube, to get to the hard drive. I'm just not woman enough for the job.

As usual, I collected some links along the way.

  • Articles: Using an external USB hard drive. This is the way my installation should have worked.
  • Advice on buying an external hard drive from MacOS Hints. This is, essentially, what I did.
  • External USB hardrive not mounting after update. Various suggestions are offered, tried, and discarded. The thread ends with this puzzling and uninformative result:
    The external HD is now working again. After trying all the other routes I finally switched the power switch off on the drive and started the Mac, then switched the power to the drive on and it mounted. Perhaps the drive needed to reset itself but thankfully it works now.
    Some of the problems I had with the Mac disappeared when I restarted it whenever I changed drives in the external case. My Linux boxen have similar issues, and the easiest way to handle them is a reboot.
  • Can't format external hard disk. Been there. Failed to do that.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Chemistry Links

I spent Thursday and Friday immersed in chemistry review and computer chores. Everything takes longer than you think it's going to in both endeavors. Here are some more chemistry links, mostly because I don't have a better place to keep them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Several years ago, when I started sewing more with knit fabrics, I read that you should save even small scraps, because they could be used for small projects, including garment embellishments and lingerie. This was probably not advice I needed to hear, given my tendency to save any piece of fabric that is colorful, costly, of interesting texture, or large enough to "make something someday." This past December, in my period of much sewing and little writing, I proudly used up half my knit fabric scraps. Half! That amounted to one bushel basket packed tight with leavings from past sewing projects, and a number of ready-to-wear turtlenecks and tee shirts that failed to fit or flatter.

This clothesline full of knit shirts represents part of the scrap fabric extravaganza. The rest became lingerie. I have tastefully refrained from sharing these.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Snow Day

Snowy day on Droop Mountain, January, 2007

Given this winter's weather so far, I thought it would be wise to document that we had some snow in January. School was canceled, although I hear that the snow didn't actually stick to the ground in Hillsboro or Marlinton. Of course, Princess works every day, regardless of the weather.

Princess at work in the snow

Monday, January 08, 2007

Last Winter's Compulsive Stitching Project

Patchwork window quilts, west window

I have a history of compulsive winter sewing projects. Here are some of the window quilts I made last winter. I can proudly announce that I used about a bushel of rayon scrap fabrics that are generally "useless" for quilting projects. I expect they'll rot away by and by, but I learned about foundation piecing and machine quilting, and I didn't spend more than $10 on materials. The curtains also serve their intended purpose, and keep the house warmer on those cold winter nights. (We had some last winter.)

Patchwork window quilts, east window

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Baby Got a New Pair of Shoes

moss-covered boot

I bit the bullet and switched to the new, improved Blogger this week. I tried to keep up with the changes by altering the page template by hand, but it was just taking too long. I've said goodbye to my comfortable old blogging shoe, and moved on. The "labels" funtionality will be worth it.

cracks on an old boot, filling with moss

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

More Flannel Shirts for 2007

Three new flannel shirts on the clothesline

I have roused myself from December's compulsive sewing frenzy, but I have little to blog about except the results of said frenzy. I liked my new flannel shirt from November so much I ordered some plaid flannel from and proceded to make three more. This is a break with tradition for me, because I tend to lose the urge to sew before the fabric comes in the mail. Only two of the shirts are for me; the second red flannel number was made as a gift.

Flannel shirt detail

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Little Sock-Knitting for the New Year

Although I've billed this as a knitting blog, there has been precious little knitting in 2006, other than small repair and redesign projects. However, I recently started a pair of socks in Browns Sheep Farms sport weight wool (not sure of the official name--it was a remnant from Appalachian Baby Design days.) The pattern is called "Little Wave" in Barbara G. Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Designs. It's a six-stitch repeat that forms a sort of rib, with a traveling twist-stitch zig-zag on a garter-stitch ground. It makes very nice socks. In Walker's book, the pattern is given for back-and-forth knitting. I had to rewrite it for myself in circular knitting, so here's my revision, for those who may want to use it in four-needle socks.

R1: *Knit all stitches*
R2: *Knit 4, purl 2*
R3: *Knit 3, Left Twist, Knit 1*
R4: *Knit 3, Purl 1, Knit 1, Purl 1*
R5: *Knit 4, Left Twist*
R6: *Knit 3, Purl 2, Knit 1*
R7: *Knit all stitches*
R8: *Knit 3, Purl 2, Knit 1*
R9: *Knit 4, Right Twist*
R10: *Knit 3, Purl 1, Knit 1, Purl 1*
R11: *Knit 3, Right Twist, Knit 1*
R12: *Knit 4, purl 2*

Barbara Walker's Right Twist: Knit 2 together, leaving stitches on left-hand needle; insert right-hand needle from the front between the two stitches just knitted together, knit the first stitch again. Slip both stitches from the needle together.

Barbara Walker's Left Twist: Skip one stitch, knit into back of next stitch; then insert right-hand needle into backs of both stitches (skipped stitch and next stitch) and knit two together in back of stitches.