Monday, September 29, 2008

Atheist Quote of the Week 2

Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a God superior to themselves. Most Gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
~Robert A. Heinlein

This was one of the main things I noticed about religions that strengthened my conviction that it is humanity that created gods, not the other way around. The Greek gods are a fantastic example; if you read the mythology, the gods bicker like spoiled children among themselves, treat humanity like tools for their disputes out of jealousy and pettiness, and commit atrocities like the worst kind of human being. And though that religion is not a modern one, the same applies to modern gods. The number of evil things people do to each other in the bible, all justifiable "because God willed it" is sickening. Rape, torture, murder... God justifies it all if the victims violated some arbitrary rule, or - and this is worse - if the perpetrators are part of God's team. That is, if the Hebrews want their Promised Land, and God said they could have it, screw the current residents. Enslave them, rape them, kill them, whatever you want - that land is theirs by divine decree and anything they do to get it is perfectly okay (Judges 21:10-24 is a great example of this mindset).

In general, gods are used as justification for all the evils of humanity. History is written by the winners and so is religion - because those vicious men wandering around the Middle East 3000 years ago ended up having the religion that survived and became the three biggest religions on Earth, their actions are justified. How ridiculous is that?

I can't see any other purpose for having religion except to control the masses and justify otherwise unjustifiable actions. How, exactly, does that lend itself to faith in what is essentially a propaganda technique?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spiderman Baby Blanket

I'm not really into making washed-out-pastel baby stuff. I'm not totally against the idea, but why give babies such boring things? Babies like bright colours, and little boys grow out of powder blue pretty quickly. Why not make those babies something a little bit wild (because hey, they're babies and they have no say in how crazy it looks) and with a bit of a longer life? Something they might still like when they're 5 or 6 years old.

With that philosophy in mind, I present:
The Spiderman Blanket!

The pattern came from a very talented Finnish knitter who was kind enough to translate this truly awesome pattern into English for Ravelry. The blanket turned out huge (728 stitches were on my circular needles when I bound it off, after all) - about 130 cm (50") in diameter. Now that's something that's big enough for even a preschooler to be wrapped up in! I used a bright red and a bright blue soft acrylic with the black accents (the digital pictures just don't do the colours justice - think more vibrant), and it's adorable, yet cool enough that the kid just might like it for a few extra years as he grows up.

I learned to crochet for this project, because the lines radiating from the centre needed to be put on at the end. I tried teaching myself to crochet with Crochet for Dummies (hey, I mostly taught myself to knit with Knitting for Dummies), but my results were mediocre. My mother isn't much better at crochet than I am, but she is good enough to know how to do the lines, and she showed me how to do it. I think I made them a little too tight, but the blanket looks good, so I consider that a minor flaw in the completed piece.

Tomorrow the yarn store is open late and I can go get the yarn for the kimono dress and hopefully for something for me as well! I love those variegated yarns, and now tomorrow I get to buy two different ones!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Italian Meatballs

When extra-lean ground beef goes on sale, but only in the 2 kg jumbo value packs, what does the cook for the 2-person household do?

Why, she makes 80 meatballs and makes up a recipe as she goes! Then she freezes them to eat later, leaving the boyfriend to wonder what all that cooking was for if there's nothing for dinner.

I'm big on spices and herbs, so I used marjoram, oregano, and basil to give my meatballs some flavour. I didn't think of garlic until I sat down to write this, and I'm not a huge onion fan, so that's all I put in, flavour-wise. However, they turned out better than any other meatballs I've ever made!

Italian Meatballs Recipe

2 kg (approx 4.5 lbs) extra-lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used store-bought ones since I bake my own bread at home)
2 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp basil

2 tbsp marjoram

  1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. Place the ground beef in a large bowl and let it warm up a little bit. (Cold ground beef hurts your fingers when you mix it - trust me.) Measure the bread crumbs into a small bowl and the spices into another bowl so that you won't have to wash your hands between additions.
  2. Mix the ground beef with your hands, adding the bread crumbs and the spice mixture alternately until they are all mixed in. Blend well, adjusting the amounts slightly until the mixture sticks together well and is easy to roll.
  3. Roll the mixture into 1" meatballs. Bake in a single layer in the oven for ten minutes or until cooked through and brown on the bottom. Let cool.

This made 81 meatballs for me. I froze 75 of them in portions of 15 for dinner/lunch combinations later, leaving 6 whole meatballs for tonight (so yes, I did feed the hungry boyfriend). I had to completely rearrange my freezer to make room for all the containers of meatballs:

Mmm... meatballs.

Atheist Quote of the Week 1

One of the first things I did when I moved into my very first apartment off-campus in university was mock the bible-quoting people who had lived in residence with me by plastering my tiny room with many brightly-coloured atheist quotes. Some were funny, some were offensive, and some were sort of out of context (hey, at least I've figured that out since). Since I can't plaster my current apartment with them (although I'd do it in a second if I didn't care about offending the boyfriend's parents, I kid you not), I'll find a good one and post it here every week until I run out. Which will probably be... never, since I found this site that has over 2000 available, and that would last about 40 years of weekly quotes. Gotta love the internet. From now on, I'll try to get these up every Monday.

This week's quote is a classic that sums up why, as a preteen, I realized I was an atheist:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

~Epicurus

The Summer of Babies

I started knitting a few years ago to relax and make nice things. When I joined Ravelry (my username is peridragon, for all my fellow Ravelers out there), I made up a queue of garments for me and ordered them from easiest to more challenging, so I could work my way up.

So far, I haven't made any of them. Why? Because my f
amily has apparently instituted a breeding program.

Don't get me wrong; I love babies. I want
some someday. Knitting baby stuff is fun, since I get to use wild colours and patterns that I would have no excuse to use otherwise. But sheesh, four babies have been brought into the family in a year and a half. No close relative had had a baby in over a decade, and now there is a 20-month-old, a ten-month-old, a three-month-old, and a two-month-old who have all been born to people I know well and want to give gifts to (two of my cousins that I grew up with and two of my mother's cousins that I'm close to). So this has been the summer of baby stuff, and it's not over yet. I have two projects finished and delivered as gifts, one with just the ends to be sewn in, and one I plan to start within about a week that needs to be done by Christmas.

This is the blanket I made for the three-month-old baby girl. I made it using the Pinwheel Baby Blanket pattern. This photo was taken pre-blocking - hence the books holding it flat. It was a lot of fun to make, and very easy, with yarn overs every other row in each section to make the pinwheel effect. It was made with a machine-washable baby wool, which was soft but made me itchy (yes, I am a knitter who has a mild wool allergy). I'm happy with the way it turned out, and I'd definitely use the pattern again. That is, once I've made blankets out of every other crazy style I can find.

This is the baby sweater I made by slightly modifying a Seamless Baby Kimono pattern. Since it was for a ten-month-old, I made it longer and gave it short sleeves so it would be more likely to fit (and because I was running out of yarn... I swear, people on Ravelry lie about how many meters of yarn they use for projects). I used acrylic for this because it's so easy to wash, and I compromised on the pastel primary colour so that I could get the little flecks of colour I liked in it. I wasn't as happy with the way it turned out, but it was my first attempt at a sweater. Lesson learned: rather than upsizing an infant outfit for an older baby, next time make a toddler-sized child sweater and let her grow into it.

The almost-finished project is a Spiderman baby blanket (pattern PDF file found here) for the two-month-old boy. It's huge! There are approximately a million ends to sew in, but it has been probably the most fun project I've ever done. I learned some basic crochet so that I could do it, and I didn't even complain (much) when the yarn estimates were way off for the black and I had to run out for another ball at the last minute. Who cares?! The blanket is quite possibly the coolest thing ever. Once I don't have a whole bunch of black ends sticking out, I'll block it and take pictures to post here, but trust me, it's something I would have drooled over as a kid and I'm a girl who never watched Spiderman.

Finally, the 20-month-old is getting a cute kimono-style dress, which I'm going yarn shopping for once my bonus from my summer job is deposited into my account tomorrow.

Maybe, finally, once that is done, I'll get to start on the vest I've been dying to make for myself for months. I keep telling the boyfriend that he'll get a sweater by next winter, but if my family keeps having a new baby every six months or so, he'll be lucky to get one ever. I've even already picked out a pattern for a blanket for the next baby that appears because I'm so sure that there will be another one fairly soon.

I think knitting might be taking over my life just a little. But I love it anyway.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Funky Cell Phone Holder

Well, I may as well start off this new blog with the first knitting pattern I've ever made from scratch!

I was bored on a Sunday back in January and decided to knit myself a cell phone holder, since I'd broken my old cell phone nine months earlier and I wanted to protect my new one from a similar fate. I made the pattern up as I went, and I used yarn that my mom gave me as scraps. It turned out surprisingly great!



This is the end result (in reality the phone doesn't stick out; it fits nicely all the way inside. I just wanted to illustrate which way was up).


This is what it looks like closed up properly.

Pattern:


Weight: Medium*

*I used two different colours of the same lightweight yarn and knitted them twisted together. Medium weight is just an estimate of the yarn weight from that.
Gauge: A 1" x 1" (2.5 x 2.5 cm) square is 5 stitches by 8 rows.

Pocket:

CO 27 stitches. Transfer to 3 dpns. Knit in the round until you get about an inch from the bottom of the cell phone. On the next row, dec 3 stitches evenly. Knit around once. *Dec 6 stitches evenly; knit around once.* Rep *...* until 12 stitches are left. Pull yarn through stitches and pull together. Sew in end.

Flap:

Pick up 10 consecutive stitches along one side of the cast on stitches of the pocket. Knit 2 rows, then continue in stockinette stitch. Insert cell phone to test desired length and continue until flap pulled over the opening reaches about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down the opposite side. Bind off, leaving a relatively long end; do not sew in end yet.

Finishing:

Sew a button onto the side of the pouch where the flap will be secured, far enough below it that securing the flap will cause it to be slightly pulled, keeping the opening closed.

Using a wool needle, take the end from binding off the flap and use it to encircle the button. Pull tightly and sew the end into the opposite side of the flap securely. Twist the remaining yarn around the line holding the flap around the button and sew the end into the side with the original bind-off point, eventually sewing it in completely. Sew in any other loose ends.

That's it!

I love projects that only take a few hours to do.