Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Snow Business

Look quick! It's melting already, darn it! I love snow! I just love how the world looks so different when covered in a white blanket. I love the hush that happens when everything is muffled. Here it doesn't snow often and usually melts really fast. This is early for us though. Normally we don't get any snow (except on the mountains) until January or February. Just a couple of centimetres caused all kinds of highjinks this morning with traffic. Remind me again why I don't work for a living?

I got these treasures in the mail yesterday from my friend Cathy at That Bead Lady in Ontario. I wanted to try out the new C-Lon cord which comes in lovely colours and is heavy enough to be used for micro-macrame. A nicer version of Mastex. Anyway, since it was going to cost her more to send it than usual because it's fat, I thought I'd make it worthwhile and order some more stuff. What? Of course I need more stuff! Since I used up some of my cube beads while teaching the Wild Beaded Bag class, I thought I'd get a few new ones. Cathy has some new smaller cubes in now, so I got a couple of those too. Plus some copper crimps and some sterling crimp covers to try out. Not pictured is the new packet of size 12 beading needles which I go through quickly with some of the bead classes. They last me until they are completely bent out of shape but Some People went through 3 or more of them for one project! Yikes! I'm not naming names but they need to learn to be a bit more aware of how hard they are pulling so as not to break the eye. BTW, does this look like $60 worth of stuff to you — well, minus the $9 postage? Thought not.

Anyway I think I like the C-Lon cord. It certainly comes in pretty colours and they match the C-Lon thread (a Nymo substitute) in case that's important in a piece. These are my current fave colours, except for black which I already have in Mastex. Wonder when I'll ever find time to try it out? The potential project list just keeps getting longer and longer. So how do people run out of ideas anyway? Never happens to me.

Another item to cross off the To-Do list is my submission for the bead swap due on Thursday. Just have to write it up now. This is Russian netting in a snowflake design. Appropriate, huh? The snow I mean. I used some unusual black Czech seed beads with a white stripe, white pearl seed beads, and some silver-lined crystal seed beads. I got the interesting bars for the clasp out of my stash. Now I wish I remembered where they came from! One end of the tube is open and you kind of slide a row of your beadwork into the slit on the side and then close the flap to keep them in. It was exactly the right length too. I added the split rings and lobster claw clasp which made the bracelet just long enough to go around my teensy wrist. I can't do it up without help though! It's quite dramatic with such contrasting colours even though the silver beads on the edge don't show up as well as I'd hoped. I didn't want to use galvanized beads however for fear the finish would rub off and I didn't have a darker silver-lined. The ends were a bit tricky to work in the two-needle netting but I fudged it and added more reinforcing thread. Hopefully it won't wear through too quickly at the clasp bars.

Well it's my turn with health problems. I'm having trouble with my right ear since last evening. It clogged up completely and now my tinnitus noise is really loud and I can't hear very much at all out of that ear. I don't think it's ear wax or anything like that. Don't know what's up and my doctor's office keeps having a busy signal on their phone. It makes me feel dizzy and queasy because I think it's affecting my balance so maybe it's my inner ear? But I don't think I've had any infections lately. Anyway it's really annoying! If it doesn't go away by tomorrow I'll make a doc's appointment. I've got to teach tomorrow night which won't be easy if I can't hear properly. Yuck! If it's not one thing it's another, eh? WHAT? Now I know why some people with tinnitus commit suicide.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Busy Busy


This is a fuzzy version of what the sliver of waning moon looked like this morning at 7 am. I’d already been up for an hour and done the dishes from the night before. It was really frosty for the first time this season. No wonder I had to go get an extra blanket for the bed last night. Time to put on the flannelette sheets. Winter’s coming.

I’ve been trying to get a few things done — especially those with deadlines. See? I finished Mother’s socks. And I’m partway down the leg on sis M’s socks. I think Mother’s pair are quite eye-dazzling! They are knit from one of the Confetti patterns with lots of “dashes” and very thin lines of solid, similar to the one I used for my friend’s grandbaby set. Sis M’s have 3 shades of grey and burgundy and white dashes which is a similar pattern (though different colours) to the socks I made for Darling Daughter.

Since I have a bead swap due on December 1st, I figured I’d better get to it. The theme is Ethnic and we were supposed to do a larger piece than the one we did in the spring and email the picture and information to our swap leader. I didn’t use a Greenlander pattern this time though. I went to my “White Russian” book (the actual title is in Cyrillic and I can’t read it) and hunted up another netted design. The Russian patterns are very similar to the Greenlander ones but often require two needles to accomplish because of their mirror symmetry. It’s quite a challenge and I’ve already frogged several beginnings and about a half inch of beading when I made a mistake back aways. I found a nifty clasp in my stash that works very well with the width so it’s going to be a bracelet. Pictures to come when it’s done. Hint: what’s black and white and silver all over? Back to beadin’.

P.S. I love getting comments on my blog. Hi Susan! Hi Nanamouse! I know you're out there!

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Fog Lifts

And now it’s raining. I think I liked the fog much better. Come on back, Fog! Or Sun — even better.

I’ve gotten up to the toes on Mother’s socks now. Just starting the decreases. This was pretty fast, eh? Picture when done. Then I finish the Jaywalker socks before starting on sis’s socks. Her birthday is several weeks away anyway so I have plenty of time. I mean, why should she be the only one this year to get birthday socks on her actual birthday?

I was thinking (always a frightening prospect) that I need to buckle down and get a handle on the WIPs & UFOs around here. There are too many and, although they aren’t preventing me from starting new things, they’re making me crazy. (OK, more crazy than usual.) This is because things are missing from their proper place because they are permanently engaged in a half-done item somewhere around the studio/study/storage area. Needles, hooks, bags of beads, wire, tools, even whole looms are occupied by things that have either been A) usurped by something more time-critical or more fun or B) ignored because something is wrong with the original design, it’s not working out the way I wanted, or it was just a bad idea all around. Option A items, aka WIPs (Works In Progress), usually just need to be finished up but Option B items, aka UFOs (UnFinished Objects), have yet more choices. Each one has to be assessed as to whether I can fix what’s wrong or should abandon it all together. And if I abandon it, I have to decide whether to just chuck it out or recycle the parts into something usable for another project. Decisions, decisions. However, unlike some people, I haven’t counted how many WIPs & UFOs I’ve actually got. That would just be too frightening. I like it better when they stay hidden in their bags, boxes, and baskets. Though if I do get inspired to catalogue, it will be listed here. Not before the New Year anyhow.

Well. Rumour has it that the news of Darling Daughter’s engagement has escaped into The World At Large. Apparently there are more people who read this lil’ ol’ blog than I thought. So, Lurkers, feel free to post me a comment some time, whydoncha! Just so I know you’re out there.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Fog Continued

The morning sun tried to peek in through that persistent fog but it just wasn't happening. The sky was a really interesting peach colour though it doesn't show up that well in the pic. The bare branches in the right foreground are my swiftly clearing walnut tree and those lovely huge fir trees are across the street in my neighbour's yard. I love branches silhouetted against the sky. I enjoy them all winter long.

Speaking of enjoying, isn't this bouquet lovely? My favourite colours of orange with purple. Yum! That's my belated birthday present from my boss at the wool shop. It was my last beginner spinning class last night and she dropped the fact that there's 11 signed up for the sock knitting class starting next week. Yikes! I think she was sucking up to me for that one. Number 11 is the boss herself though and she's started this before and gotten too busy to continue. However, I'm not especially happy about this many students because sock knitting is difficult even for experienced knitters. Last time, we had only 4 people but that included one who wasn't even able to cast-on or purl! Sheesh. And the rest had to be led by the nose every step of the way. When they deigned to actually show up for class. Hope these new ones are as swift as my newly graduated baby spinners, who were almost all exceptionally good. (Except for the one male, but we won't go into those "male ego gets in the way of learning something new" problems!)

I'm halfway down the foot of Mother's socks and trundling along. I took advantage of being in the yarn shop last evening and got another couple of balls of superwash baby yarn in rich purple and lighter orchid for the new grand-niece. Who says babies should dress in pastels? I'll use the darker purple for the main part of the poncho and hat and the lighter one for the garter stitch edgings. Unfortunately I won't be able to get to this until I'm done both Mother's socks and Sis M.'s socks, since I promised them first. I knit too slowly. Definitely. Projects are backing up.

BTW, Darling Daughter and her Sweetie have just about got their dream townhouse — subject of course to a bunch of red tape which includes borrowing $2500 from us for a week until the cheque from his dad comes through. I think this place will work out well for them though and it's not very far from where they live now in the wilds of lovely Surrey, BC, car theft capital of the world. Hey, it's affordable! And there's a private swimming pool...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Foggy Foggy Dew

It's been foggy most of the week and it's so damp that it makes pearls on the spider web on my back fence. OK, so I have a thing for spiders. Maybe it's because they spin and weave? No? I'm just weird? Sure, but I still miss Queenie who hasn't come back since we painted her windowsill. However there is another tiny spider in her place. Queenie Jr? We don't have the same close relationship though. Something's just not the same.

Still out in the garden, I'm having trouble keeping the birdfeeder full. The chickadees are so into their oil sunflower seeds that they like to hide them all over the place, in tree bark and under roof shingles, to save them for later when they get hungry for a snack. We also get sparrows (several kinds), juncos, and the occasional towhee on the ground munching on the dropped seeds. My cats can enjoy the birdfeeder from the comfort of the kitchen table as they watch out the window. The birds don't mind as long as there's glass between them and their potential enemies. The old lady cats are too slow to catch them anymore anyway.

Yesterday afternoon we had a lovely time babysitting our granddaughter while her parents got to go see the latest Harry Potter flick. Here she is with her grampa reading a book and having a snack. Actually the book is a very boring computer text, but she didn't seem to care. Notice the cat's tail — she has to be where the action is just in case there is some patting and loving to be had. Even at the risk of losing a handful of fur in a toddler fist!

Note: I want to go see Harry Potter now too.

On the sock front, I've got the heels safely turned on Mother's socks. Not without frogging yet another heel flap though because it didn't match properly. That's what I get for knitting on it at Mother's birthday party. When will I learn that knitting and anything else don't mix? Guess I'm not as good of a multi-tasker as I'd like to fancy myself, huh? Or maybe it was the glass of wine and the late evening. It should be smooth sailing on these socks now. I hope.

Yet another project has just come up. I'm trying to decide what I should knit for my new grand-niece born November 16th. It didn't occur to me to get ahead of the game and do something earlier in the pregnancy. Noooo...I have to wait until after she's born and then try to come up with something preferably before her first birthday. Silly me. Maybe I'll make another one of those ponchos which seem to have a fairly long wearable time since they don't have to fit exactly. And my stretchy little beany hat that lasted this baby's older brother for a whole year. And he has a big head too. Hmm...maybe an excuse for a stash enhancement! That's always good.

Monday, November 21, 2005

If It’s The Process That Counts…

…then how come I’m so frustrated! I’ve had to frog so much knitting lately that it’s no longer amusing. I guess I need to stop knitting anything but plain stockinette in front of the computer or TV. Anytime I’ve done anything more complex lately I’ve made mistakes and not seen them until many centimeters later. Argh! Yesterday I had to frog the gusset back to the heel on one of Mother’s birthday socks because the stitch count was off and I couldn’t find out where. (BTW in case you haven’t been keeping up, this is birth mom, not the recently deceased adopted mom.) Then after picking up all the stitches, I was steaming along very happily and the count was off again — in the same place. I’ve just fixed it for the third time and hopefully it will continue correctly from here.

As I’ve whined about before, the same mistake/frog/mistake thing has been happening with my Jaywalker socks, but I’m almost back up to the second (or is it first?) heel. Then I plan to turn both heels one immediately after the other. I have to read Grumperina’s directions carefully because she has a different number of heel flap rows and stitches to pick up than I usually use.

I got this little book the other day from my friend Marie at Fibres Plus. It’s Prudence Mapstone’s Never Too Many Handbags. Prudence is an Australian fibre artist who uses freeform knitting and crocheting to create some fun pieces. She teaches workshops all over but I missed her the two times she was near here. I don’t think I really need a workshop though — just some time to play with what I already know and the information I already have. I also have Prudence’s original book on freeform. This one sold me because it has some nifty crochet motifs: flowers, fish, leaves, and spirals. Plus discussion on bag construction which is helpful. OK, I know. Too many ideas; too little time.

The persistent fog has lifted somewhat right now, though there’s no mountains showing. It’s damp out there from the fog but at least it’s not raining. There’s sure a lot more leaves to rake now that the walnut tree has decided that it’s time to let them fall almost all at once. Besides our own yard we have the boulevard beside our house (before the street) and the alley to rake. These leaves unfortunately can’t be used in our compost because they are so nasty nothing will grow in the resulting soil for at least 3 years. It does make a good mulch if you have some area with weeds you want suppressed but don’t expect to be able to plant anything else there and have it thrive. And of course there are some things that will grow anyway, usually the weeds you least want. According to what I’ve read, any toxin (juglone) in the leaves should break down within a couple of months but in my experience it takes a lot longer for the effect to wear off. They also say that our English (Persian) walnut has less juglone than black walnut. If that’s true I’d hate to have one taking over half my backyard like our English one does! I already have enough trouble growing things in my garden. Right now there's leeks and some salad greens that have seen better days, plus some overwintering broccoli which won't be giving me sprouts until spring. I have to plant my garlic as soon as the space is dug and ready. Thom is reluctant to plant winter rye since he thinks it might be contributing to the wire worm problem but that could just be the fact that we haven't had a good killing cold snap for a number of years now. I sure don't want to give up my garden but there are only certain things that will grow properly these days. Oh well, I don't have to worry about that for months yet!

Friday, November 18, 2005

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

Can you see the difference between these two balls of yarn? The darker grey in the left one is lighter than the one on the right. They both have the same dyelot number. Confetti has got some 'splainin' to do! I have to go back to the store and see if the one last ball of this is remotely going to match just one of these two. I'd prefer the dark one. Either that or I pick some other colours entirely. These are supposed to be for my sister M. who's birthday is in December.

Now these socks that I started yesterday are for my birth mom. (See a theme here?) Her birthday is next week but we're having a party of sorts for her tomorrow. As usual there's no way I'll be finished yet. The best wishes come first and the socks will come later. I actually like these better than I thought when the yarn was in the ball. There's a lot of the grey/white spots and a thin line of rosy-brown, baby blue, and blue-purple. Hope she likes them.

I'm totally annoyed with my Jaywalker socks, which is why there is no picture of them! I had to frog half of the leg yet again on one of them when I discovered a big mistake. It wasn't obvious unless I counted the stitches more carefully. That's why I didn't find it until I was trying to get the right amount of stitches for the heel flap. Phooey. I'm getting tired of these things. Maybe I should have just made regular plain knit socks like usual. I've frogged so many stitches I could have finished the darn things by now.

It was nice and sunny today and I was glad I could get out and walk in it. Of course I should have been doing some more raking of leaves but my excuse is I needed to shop for veggies and dairy products. Right. Maybe tomorrow with Thom to help.

Oh yeah, darling daughter and her sweetie decided not to buy the condo. There were some moisture issues that potentially could be their responsibility to pay for fixing. Such a common problem around here! The seller is obliged to disclose this kind of thing and didn’t in this case. Tsk, tsk. Oh well, they don’t have any compelling reason to move from their comfy rental basement suite until they’re good and ready.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Meme

“In casual use, the term meme often refers to any piece of information passed from one mind to another. Examples might include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods.”

I got that from Wikipedia, which is also itself a meme. The Internet has caused memes to infect more people faster than ever before. Oh yeah, it’s pronounced “meem” (rhymes with “dream”). In the Blogverse, it’s like a chain letter or being tagged as It. Bloggers like to pass memes around, such as the following “20 Things About Me” exercise. It wasn't passed to me though. I took it!

1. I live for fibres and beads.
2. My husband, family, and friends are even more important to me than fibres and beads, but they might not believe me if I told them that.
3. I spend way too much time on the computer but I can live without it. For awhile. Weeks even. Just don’t ask me to.
4. My Palm Handheld is more important to me than my cell phone which I almost never use or even turn on unless I’m making a call.
5. I love to hang out in my studio (top floor of my house) and just play all day by myself.
6. I enjoy organizing things.
7. I have way too many craft books and magazines. I need more bookshelves for them.
8. When I’m not reading craft books and magazines, I read fantasy and sci-fi.
9. Some days I feel very old and other days I feel very young so I guess that means I’m middle-aged.
10. I don’t like most of today’s fashions because they are too similar to the ones I liked as a teenager.
11. I’m not afraid of looking odd to others so I wear whatever I want.
12. I’m a very cheerful and patient person, otherwise known as “terminally perky”.
13. Sometimes I’m not very tolerant of stupid people.
14. I need lots of sleep and try to get at least 9 hours per night.
15. I was adopted as an infant because my birth mom was only 15, Catholic, and her mom wouldn't let her keep me.
16. My adopted parents are deceased and my birth mom has terminal cancer.
17. I have two certifiably crazy adopted sisters who I try to stay far away from.
18. I have three perfectly nice half-sisters (and a half-brother) whom I’ve only known for 15 years.
19. I’ve never had a real 5-day/40-hour-a-week job and I can’t drive a car.
20. I’ve been totally in love with the same man since I was 17. (Luckily he’s the one I'm married to!)

Gee, I could keep going on this for another 20 but I’ll stop now. I have another migraine today — or probably it's the continuation of yesterday's. And I have to teach tonight too. My poor newbie spinners will get a semi-nonfunctional instructor. Maybe the headache will go away by then. Maybe?

Oh, and I almost forgot...I have great news! My darling daughter is finally getting married to her sweetie. Oh goodie — a wedding in the family! And a new son-in-law. Yes, I do love the guy and they are great together. I'm so happy for her. And there's more! If all went well last evening, they have just bought themselves their first home. It's a condominium but it's got wonderful amenities and they can (just) afford it. Seems like things are going very well indeed for them!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Something To Talk About

I’ve got my mother-in-law coming for dinner tonight. No that’s not a bad/scary thing. I love my MIL. And she would never presume to criticize anything I cook as long as I don’t offer her too much on her plate. (She hates that.) I also have my daughter’s boyfriend coming. He says he has something to discuss with us without his sweetie’s ears picking it up. Now he’s got us speculating in a million directions! What is this all about? So anyway the pork roast has to go in the oven in half an hour. My only complaint is I have a migraine and it makes it hard to socialize and also hard to cook. Promise me that one day those darn headaches will go away? Maybe when I finally finish menopause?

I’ve continued to spin that lovely boysenberry stuff. The bobbin is almost filled and I have maybe half the 250 g bag left. And I’m almost up to the heel flaps on both of the Jaywalker socks. Slow progress, in other words. I should be doing the beadwork for the swap that’s due December 1st. Hasn’t happened yet because I just haven’t been inspired. At least it doesn’t have to get mailed anywhere. This is a cyber swap so all that’s necessary is a digital picture and a PDF of the write-up.

Speaking of swaps, I got my kumihimo swap in the mail yesterday. Some nice braid samples there including a takadai braid. Takadai is a different braiding stand that is more like a loom. The braids are flat and can be quite wide. It’s more like weaving on the diagonal so I can understand the structures fairly well even though I have to stretch to read the braiding diagrams which are nothing like weaving drafts. I want a takadai so I can learn to do this! I have 4 books on it and a supplement with plans to build a takadai. How to inspire Thom to leave the lampworking long enough to do some woodworking? I guess not until after the kitchen is truly finished anyway. There’s still a few cupboard doors to finish painting and installing as well as building the short countertop between the stove and the original counter. No pictures here until it’s done!

Surprisingly, I’m not as stiff as I thought I’d be today after all that leaf raking business. A little bit in the neck and arms but maybe the ibuprofen I’m taking for the migraine is keeping it down to a dull roar. Guess I’ll find out for sure tomorrow when I hope the headache will be gone.

Monday, November 14, 2005

What Comes After 2 Days of Rain?

Answer: Monday! After many more than 2 days of dark dreary rain, it was so nice to see the sun today. Of course it showed up all the dirt on the kitchen floor and the grubby windows but who cares? I started sweeping off the back deck and then got completely carried away raking leaves out of my vegetable garden. I only got them into piles however — Somebody Else is going to have to bag them. Plus there’s plenty more leaves left on the walnut and chestnut trees so we’re not done with them yet. I do love the smell of walnut leaves. It’s very different from anything else.

I don’t love the smell of the other walnut product that I created out of the squirrel-chewed walnuts I managed to rescue. I put a bunch in a big bucket and allowed it to fill up with rain. Well actually the bucket didn’t have a lid so the rain was inadvertent. It’s been out there in the garden since about August so it’s getting really ripe about now. Today I filtered out all the muck (which went into the compost) and poured the lovely brown but somewhat smelly liquid into one of my dyepots. That was as far as I got before getting sidetracked by the leaf raking business. I’m hoping this will be strong enough to dye some wool but I’m a bit nervous about bringing it into the house until I’m ready to go. Who knows how much the stink might increase when it’s heated! I’ve been hoping to dye with the walnuts for years but so far never got around to it. This time, it’s in my best stainless steel dyepot so it will encourage me to do something to get it out of there.


I also want you to see these lovely NZ rovings from Aurelia in Victoria, BC. The first one is called Boysenberry Glitter (red, grape, berry, and raspberry sparkles) and that’s what is on my bobbin. The second one is Tamarillo (wine, black, jade, and olive) and it’s going to be spun and plied with the first roving to A) give me twice as much yarn and B) tone down the “My Little Pony”/“Sugar Plum Fairy” sweetness of the Boysenberry Glitter. This combination is recommended by Aurelia’s owner, Andrea, who has spun and knit some samples of everything she carries. Unlike most multi-coloured rovings, these have the colours in strips laying side by side. That gives you lots of different ways to spin them for different effects. I’m trying for the Golf Spin — aka spin it as it lies and don’t try to influence what colour comes up. It’s hard to be random!

Also notice the lovely neon green drive band currently sported by my wheel. Poor Klaus the Louet S90 had his driveband break and it would not melt and stick back together. So I remembered the S'getti String I had in my stash and tried that with a tight knot. It occasionally jumps down to a smaller whorl but it has been holding fine. The trick is to pre-stretch the String a lot, tie the square knot, hold it in your mouth for 20 seconds, and then yard on it really hard to make the knot as tight and small as possible. It holds pretty tight after that. This stuff is manufactured for braiding lanyards and friendship bracelets for kids. It comes in really bright colours which is a big change from the boring black band that lasted for about 13 years.

I also had to frog a whole inch of my current Jaywalker sock. I had a glitch that was too obvious for me and I felt I’d be happier if I eliminated it. I’m not quite back to where I was before the trip to the pond.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Remembering

Today I am remembering my dad (infantryman) and father-in-law (sailor) who both fought in WWII plus my half-brother who is a Canadian sergeant-major (retired) and served as a UN-sponsored peacekeeper in Egypt. Also I am extremely grateful that my husband or my son, who is a husband and father, never had to go to war. (Though as a black-belt ninja I'm sure my son would have been training fighters rather than fighting himself!) I am forever grateful to those who fought in the wars with the noblest of intentions but I sure wish nobody ever had to do anything like that. I can’t imagine how it must have been for them or for their families at home worrying. May I never find out.

My Jaywalker socks got a change of needle size to my usual 2 mm. I started to be afraid they would be too tight to get over my heel though at 4-1/2” the longest one still fits. They are knitted on 76 stitches which should be lots but the pattern stitch takes in considerably and isn’t particularly stretchy even though it’s mostly plain areas. It’s plain knitting on diagonals though which must be the difference. I’m hoping that the slightly larger needle size won’t be too obvious though the shorter sock is only an inch into the pattern so it should be fine. The longer one might be a bit more problematic. We’ll see after another inch or so. If I have to frog, so be it. I’d rather have socks that I can wear!

I also have a finished skein of yarn to show. The colours don’t look as interesting in the skein as they did in roving form but they actually go quite nicely with the brown-red skeins. Yes, I have weird taste in colours — but we all knew that, didn’t we? I still need to spin some more yarn to use for another multidirectional scarf. But first I have to fix my poor spinning wheel. Yes, Klaus the Louet Wheel has a broken drive cord, the first in 13 years. I finished my plying with a string substitute but it slips too much for comfort. I think I can use my heat tool to repair it. I’ll do some research first. A replacement band costs about $16 (for a piece of stretchy plastic!) so I hope I can fix it myself.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Mrs. Fixit

I can now call myself a computer geek! Who'd a thunk it? I finally fixed a problem I've been having with my Wacom Graphire pen tablet that I've been suffering with ever since I got my new computer. The pen (which I use more than a mouse) was going wonky on me. It was "sticking" as I moved the cursor and the button wouldn't work properly, pretending it was the mouse scroll button instead. And the problem wouldn't happen all the time. Right after booting up it might act correctly for awhile and then later revert to bad behaviour. I couldn't find out what the problem was. But for some reason, I had the inspiration to look (again) for a new driver and there she was! Just out in October for Windows XP. First I had to uninstall my old driver, reboot, and install the downloaded new driver and it for a miracle worked fine. Ah, comfort. Anybody who hasn't used a pen tablet should try it. It's like using a pen on paper. Once you get used to it, it's so much more comfortable for most things than a mouse. It also comes with a tail-less mouse anyway, just in case you want to switch back and forth. This mouse only works on the tablet but it has a scroll wheel which makes it nice for reading long emails or blogs. I love this thing even though people look at me funny when they notice me using it!

I did some spinning yesterday but I'm waiting until I have it finished and plied before I share it here. I had some lengths of roving that I dye-painted and it only makes about one bobbin full in total. Have no idea what I'll use it for but it seems to coordinate with some dark brown-red skeins I have that are waiting for inspiration. They used to be a big bright red 1980's vest but I frogged it and overdyed the yarn. I have 5 1/2 skeins for something new when they decide what they want to become.

So I guess I can't chicken out on getting my hair cut even though it's still raining like crazy. I made an appointment for 1 pm today in spite of the weather. Then it's off to the Circle Craft Christmas Market with Thom just to oggle the wares. Since I don't give presents, I won't be buying. But I really like to see what the artisans are making and if there's anything new and innovative or whether it's just the same-old same-old. Report tomorrow.*

* Well, don't hold your breath. No report will be forthcoming. We both decided that $10 each entry plus busfare was too much to bother — even though it did stop raining. Call us lazy. Or cheap. Back to spinning...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Current Projects

I didn't have anything "blogworthy" to talk about yesterday but today I decided there was enough of the Jaywalker socks to show off now. I know the two yarn balls don't quite match. They also get lighter from the inside to the outside. That's because I dyed them in the ball in the dye-microwave and what is now on the inside was on the outside so it got more dye there than the inside did. I was a bit nervous about knitting this pattern because I went down quite far on the needle size, from the recommended 2.25 mm to 1.75 mm. I've tried them on so far and they fit over my heel and stay up on my leg just fine, but I'd use my usual 2 mm if I was making them for a more "normal" leg and foot. Mine are skinny! The tilting pattern doesn't stretch much and definitely takes more paying attention to knit. The double decrease is especially tricksy and I have to be aware of the end of the round so I can switch from a row where I just knit to one that needs increases and decreases. I like the effect with the spotty yarn though. No worries with hand-dyed yarns about "pooling" because there is no definite colour repeat.



When I got tired of struggling with increases and double decreases in skinny yarn, I switched back to my warm vest project that I started months ago. Now that I have the 52" cable for my Denise needles (bought it on our holiday in Port Townsend, WA) I can stretch this out all the way on it. I'm doing the back and fronts in one piece so it makes for a very long row. I have about 10" done and am coming up to the underarms where I'll have to split into fronts and back. Guess I'll actually have to start writing out the pattern, huh? So far I've been making it up from an idea in one of the knitting magazines. Carrying on.

Time to do some spinning today methinks. About time I reinstituted Spinning Wednesdays otherwise I'll never get enough yarn spun to actually do anything with!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Whew!

Well that was a busy weekend! We chose the most rainy day (Saturday) to go for a walk downtown. However, around here if you stay home because it’s raining, you’ll never get anything done so we went anyway. Turned out that if we waited until Sunday we would have had a much nicer day. Oh well. Got some of the garden and deck cleaned up plus I did a lot of housework. Today is even nicer still with that big light in the sky turned up full. Too bad — now in the bright light I can see what I missed when cleaning yesterday! I’m too tired to care though. I should learn not to vacuum the whole house in the same day. It’s really hard on my poor neck. My physio tells me to do it a floor at a time on different days, but did I listen to her? Noooo. Silly me.

Finished the daughter’s socks today and washed them. They get much softer and full a bit when washed so I try to do it right after grafting the toes and before I gift them to their owner. I kind of like this Confetti yarn colourway though it’s fairly tame as these things go. The baby blue spots are unusual in this yarn brand. I should have taken a picture of my own socks vs. these ones. Hard to believe I actually hatched this particular chick! No wonder it took me so long to knit her socks. They took almost the full 2 balls with only a little left over. I usually get a pair and a half sock out of this yarn so I often buy 3 balls for 2 pairs. Obviously this trick won’t work with larger socks.

Started my Jaywalker socks but there’s not enough of them yet to photograph. It takes more attention to work the increases and decreases every other row so these don’t make good socks to work on while reading. I used a smaller needle than called for in the pattern knowing that I knit fairly loosely and also that I have skinnier feet and ankles than Grumperina does. I like my sock fabric nice and tight so I can’t feel the stitches underfoot.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Must Be Winter Or A Close Facsimile

It has been so dark and windy and rainy here that I've been hibernating indoors. I still haven't made a hairdresser appointment yet. My hair is getting so long it's almost in my eyes and it can actually blow in the wind. It's more than 2 inches! Yikes! Super-short hair is my personal style — as in wash-&-wear-and-never-even-have-to-comb-it, no-maintenance, KISS-principle hair. Anything more is too much work. The drawback is that my hair grows so fast you can almost see it grow. So my dear hairdresser Pat gets to see me often. She doesn't mind since I pay her well.

So while I've been hibernating I've also been knitting. I'm up to the toe decreases on both DD socks. Yay! The end is in sight! Also I played a game that some other bloggers suggested where you type your name followed by "needs" into an Internet search engine and see what comes up. It's hilarious! Here's the best ones I got:

Louisa needs to be taken care of.
Louisa needs to know.
Louisa needs no urgin’.
Louisa needs the money to buy a small cottage.
Louisa needs a work out.
Louisa needs names of those who can go and preferably a large deposit.
Louisa needs the man he once was, not the man he's become.
Louisa needs a maid for her mother-in-law.
Louisa needs a traffic signal.
Louisa needs a reason.
Louisa needs furniture, kitchen appliances, linens, kids clothes, throw rugs, etc.
Louisa needs you to know that she's having a much more interesting life than you are.
Louisa needs the room for teaching the flute.
Louisa needs a kidney.
Louisa needs to be bombed beyond recognition.

I'm still chuckling! Then I tried it with Thom's name and got even more funny stuff. It appears that there's a popular singer in some band with that name? (Don't ask me; I'm a folkie, preferably Celtic.) I'll have to share what I found with Thom so he can ROTFL with me. If you want to try this yourself, be sure to put it in quotes like this: "Louisa needs" — so it finds the exact phrase. Too funny. Unless you have a really truly unusual name or spelling, though the only-somewhat-unusual name (like my daughter's) still seems to get some great hits. Have to try my son's next...

One other thing I found yesterday was a new craft ezine called The Anticraft. It's quite wonderful, edgy and imaginative. The link will (hopefully) be in my sidebar. Just the title of the first issue gives you the idea: "You're Going To Die Anyway, So You Might As Well Knit" — wild, hey? There's a great tutorial on knitting with wire and a project to go with it: a black wire-knitted heart box. Or how about elbow-length armwarmers with a motif that morphs from snowflake to skull? A knitted voodoo doll with a cross-stitch heart to stick pins into? And if you have any great craft ideas (not just knitting) in this vein, they're looking for good submissions. Just go check it out and you'll see what I mean.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ever the Optimist


See the pretty rainbow? It was beautiful and sunny and pouring rain at the same time so I went hunting out every window for this! Interestingly, you can just barely see the echo-rainbow to the left of the brighter one. I actually didn't notice it as I was shooting this photo from my front porch a couple of days ago. Did you know that the echo-rainbow has the colours in the opposite order to the main rainbow? I love the Real World! Another thing about this photo is that our north shore mountains are missing. Well, ok they aren't really gone; they're hiding. They should be behind those pretty fall trees. The joke here is if you can see the mountains then it's going to rain and if you can't see the mountains then it's already raining! Today it's really windy and rainy (no mountains visible) and I'm swiftly rethinking my plans to go get my hair cut. Sometimes the Real World can turn your umbrella inside out!

My spinning class went ok yesterday. There's 9 students and we don't have enough wheels for everyone so a few had to use spindles. That's a big class especially the first lesson where I have to run around from one to the other and hold their hands a lot. These guys are pretty good though and seem to have the patience to give themselves a chance to learn. The one person (a handsome young black man!) who had some trouble is planning to go back to the shop today to practice on a different wheel which should help. Sometimes you need to switch around until you get something that works better for you. I make them trade each lesson anyway unless they have their own equipment. Next week we learn plying.

I think I was a bit optimistic when I thought DD's socks would be ready by this weekend. I'm heading for the toes but it's slow going. These are big socks because she has big feets! Two full sizes larger than mine anyway. I also realized that I originally said I was going to make a new pair for my granddaughter but I want a pair for me first. Little ones should go fast after that. She just keeps growing anyway so they'll just fit her longer if I don't make them right away. (Justify. Justify.) She's still not quite walking though she's almost 15 months. She needs the security of holding hands or furniture but we won't rush her into growing up too fast, will we?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Since it’s my birthday, here I am in my birthday suit, ca. 1951. This is one of the few family photos I managed to have in my possession before my crazy sister absconded with everything. Cute aren’t I? Yup, it’s that day again. The day I have to add yet another number onto my age. This year I’m the same coming and going: 55. I used to think that I would feel old by my mid-fifties but I don’t. I feel younger than I did 10 years ago. I’ve lost 30 pounds and, although the joints occasionally creak, I can still touch the ground without bending my knees. My hair is only somewhat grey, kind of a sprinkling, but there are a few more wrinkles showing. I like to think I earned the grey hair and wrinkles and pouchy tummy and flabby boobs just by being a mom. Truthfully, it would all have happened anyway — eventually. All I have to do is live long enough! Now I’m aiming for the honourable title of “Crone” but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

Today I also want to include my first drawing done by my 15-month-old granddaughter. It goes on the fridge in a place of honour! I miss having pictures done by little kids on there. My fridge is quite new, so it hasn’t been “papered” sufficiently like the old one was. Besides my own two irrepressible artists, there were the babysitting kids, the after-school care kids, and the nieces and nephews. I just realized I don’t have as much contact with little ones anymore. I need more grandchildren! Tell my kids to get on with it, eh? I’m not getting any younger — and neither are they!

Some craft content: I’m almost halfway through the current sock feet now and heading for the toes. Darling daughter will be getting these the next time I see her. I already have a new pair for myself in mind: handpainted yarn in greens/golds/rusts/browns that I’ve decided to do in Grumperina’s Jaywalker pattern from the September MagKnits. I was going to do Falling Leaves from the Fall issue of Knitty.com but I don’t like knitting socks toe up and I don’t like short row heels. It was too much trouble to try to adapt the pattern and I’m not sure it’s possible to knit the leaves upside down. Jaywalker is cool — looks like mitred knitting — and it suits variegated yarn. I was getting tired of knitting straight stocking stitch all the time. Though come to think of it, I probably won’t be able to do it on the usual autopilot. More on these socks to come, I’m sure.

Tonight I have to teach a beginner spinner class. I hope they aren’t too difficult this time. Some people just don’t have enough patience with themselves. I like to tell them that in the “olden days” almost every woman (and some men) could spin. Indeed they had to spin. Otherwise there would be no cloth, rope, string, thread, sails, fishing nets etc. It’s amazing how people don’t realize how they are always surrounded by textiles and how, before machines were invented, they all had to be done by somebody’s hands. Aren’t we as smart as people were in the past? We like to think we are anyway. And we often have better equipment too so it should be a cinch. Heh! Of course I don’t show them the 200 thread-ends-to-the-inch handspun handwoven fabric that is possible with just hands and simple tools. And a lot of skill. They can build up to that!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Day of the Dead

This is my blog and I can write what I want to! There are those who think that one should stick with a topic such as knitting or beadwork, but as with most things in life, this Damselfly is all over the place. Today I’m remembering family and friends who have passed away. They get to live on in our memories, right? Actually I’m kind of lucky in that the list isn’t really all that long. And most of them were at least in their 80’s so, although it’s sad that they’re gone, it’s not all that unexpected. We move on to the next stage eventually.

First of course there’s mom (aka Mary Mary Quite Contrary!) who left us almost 2 weeks ago now. She was stubborn and funny and full of love and kisses right to the end of her 93 years. And best of all, she picked me to be her first baby. Though maybe dad had some input on the adoption choice. LOL! He was an infantryman during WWII and a letter sorter for Canada Post. He called himself Johnny, but mom called him by his second name, Warren. He called her Mommy, Mimi, or Mayme but I don’t recall him ever calling her Mary. (Must be a family trait not to call people by their given name, eh? I’ve no idea why, though come to think of it I don’t know why they called me Janie either. My second name is Jane but I went back to my first name in my late teens.) Dad died in 1988 at the age of 79 after a long decline from the complications of not-well-managed diabetes. My other “parent” was my aunt, mom’s sister Bow (my version of Isabella) who lived with us from the time I was a baby and worked as an executive secretary. I was never sure whether letting her into the household was a good idea or not. She was more stubborn than mom and somewhat selfish and judgmental. However, she watched over mom after dad died and when mom started losing her marbles. Kept me from worrying about them as much as I might have. Bow died from cancer in 2001 at 85.

My Mom & Dad on their wedding day.
Bow

On the in-law side of the family, there’s Thom’s dad, Frank. He was short, handsome, and very funny. He had a whole collection of goofy props for his silliness: clown nose, Aussie hat with cork bobbles, a wind-up talking parrot etc. He was only 72 when succumbed to lung cancer. He had smoked from the time he was very young until Thom’s mom finally convinced him to quit for good. But it got him anyway. Evil stuff, tobacco. Gives me a 3-day migraine myself. I’ve never smoked though there were 3 smokers in my house growing up. See above!

My Father-in-Law

In my birth family, I lost my grandmother a few years ago at 97. She never really got to know me well because I didn’t meet my birth family until I was 40 and she already had Alzheimer’s by then. But I know now where I got my “craftiness” from. I have some of the lace she crocheted and a pillow with her yo-yos on it. I never even got to meet my half-sister Betty, who died in a car accident before Mother located me. She was only in her late 20’s which was very sad.

My Grandma Stella

There were other more distant family members too, including my great-aunt Betty who was my grandmother-substitute (although she lived in Wisconsin) until I met my “real” grandma. Auntie Betty was soooo Scots — I was the only one in the family who would eat kippered herring and oatcakes with her for breakfast! And there was my Uncle Ed, dad’s brother, who sent us money to start a bank account for each of my kids when they were born, and his wife, Auntie Emily, who had dementia but managed to hide money all over their house. They didn’t find it until after she went into the care home and the house was sold. The US$10,ooo was enough to keep her there until she passed away with enough left to pay for her funeral! Or how about Thom’s uncle George who managed to (almost) take it with him by spending all his money at the local casino in his last few years. I figure that’s just about equivalent to Bow’s giving all her money to the Catholic Church. Some of the money goes to “charity” either way, I guess. It would have been nice to inherit a little something to help the kids buy a house instead though.

We’ve also lost a few friends: Max the Mohair Man and weavers/spinners Amy, Gertrude, and Doris. I still have some items that Amy wove and things she gave me and I remember her whenever I use them. I have booklets that Gertrude wrote and a couple of boxes of samples and notes. Collected handwoven Christmas cards from Doris remind me how she was so encouraging when I first joined the weavers’ guild. As for Max, I have a blue glass star hanging in my window for his angora goat ranch which was called Blue Star. Thom and he made a winning Spinathon team at the Sheep Fair with Max spinning and Thom carding. They were fast! Thom doesn’t have many friends apart from colleagues and family, so it was hard when Max died too young from nasty old cancer, probably acquired from the toxic copper mine he worked in to afford the ranch. Another friend was our long-time neighbour, Wayne, who passed away in his late 50’s several years ago. We have a tree on our boulevard for him. It used to be on his side of the street but the city conveniently moved it to our side. He was a great guy, nicknamed Marty Stewart for his cooking, cleaning, decorating, and party-hosting abilities. (And he wasn’t even gay!)

I’m sure if I thought hard enough there are more people for the list of those close to us who have died. But this post is getting pretty long! Hopefully there will be a lull now. I think I’ve had it with funerals for awhile.