Saturday, June 30, 2007

It Has Begun

The Purge. I finally started hauling things out of the north-east attic space in my studio. Eeee-yowww!!! What an amazing lot of junk! Now I know why I was so reluctant to start on this side — though I’m pretty sure the last (south-west) side is going to be the worst of all. I haven’t been able to get inside either of these spaces for quite some time so you know I haven’t been careful about what I threw in or how I chucked it. The area in front of the cute little metre-high door had bags and boxes and wrapping paper and tissue and ribbons galore. It seems that I can’t resist hanging on to every bit that comes my way because 90% of it was recycled. Crumpled. Torn. Stuck with tape and labels. I collected the nicest bits and was left with a huge bag of garbage plus several smaller bags of paper recycling. And then ran out of steam for now.

Further back in the space are boxes of fabric scraps, old patterns, old clothes and other items that I stupidly hung onto. I even found a box of old Golden Hands magazines from the early 1970’s. They covered a lot of different crafts and were quite stylish in their time. Too bad I can’t be bothered to put them up for sale on eBay or something. Hey, the Rusty Zipper has a few copies available for US$3.50 each and up! Wow! They’ve got patterns too for US$8.00 and up for something that originally cost like $1. I have lots of old patterns. Does anybody really pay this kind of money for these things? Plus postage? Are they nuts? Anybody want to buy this lot off me?

Ahem. Interesting how much of the popular styles these days are looking backwards instead of forwards. It’s kind of fun to see the new twists on old things. But it concerns me that the future may not seem as bright as the past does, especially to young people. We need to remember that every era has its pros and cons. I wouldn’t trade this computer and my high-speed Internet access for my old hippie love-beads and macramé owls, that’s for sure. And young women especially don’t realize how many options they have now that weren’t available to females even 30 years ago. Nobody should take that for granted because we could so easily lose what we’ve gained. There’s still lots of things that could be improved for everyone’s benefit of course. Learn from the past but move forward. Etc. OK, I’ll stop now.

Well thanks for posting your comments, Bad Liz! I’m glad you love moosies too. Sorry you haven’t seen one yet. However, in real life they are very large and very scary. I’d rather be in a nice solid vehicle when I come across them. Though even then. One time we got challenged by a mommy moose when she and her baby were crossing the road in front of our van. Baby didn’t follow close enough so mommy “rumphed” loudly at us and gave us a nasty look until baby caught up and they disappeared into the woods on the other side. It was a bit nerve-wracking even with metal and glass between us and her. Now Wilfred might be Wild but he’s definitely a very mellow moose. He’s also only 75% of the real size. But he is rather handsome, isn’t he?

I’ll leave you today with these handsome guys from a fence at Lac Le Jeune:

This area is just a bit west and south of Kamloops and is a ski area in winter and a fishing resort in summer. It’s been pretty decimated by the nasty pine bark beetle and much of the forest near (and in) the provincial park has been logged to prevent further spread. Luckily the bugs haven’t developed a taste for trembling aspens yet. The folks with cabins here have lots of pine wood to chop up for burning next winter now!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Knit Faster

But please be careful! I just read the fine print on the card inside the Addi Turbo Lace needle package as I was putting my new needles away in my binder. It says, “This needle or item should be used only for the purpose it was designed for: NEEDLE WORK. If used improperly and or by untrained persons this tool may cause bodily harm. Always use caution and store your tools in safe place inaccessible in particular to children.” Isn’t that a hoot? Bad grammar, punctuation and all — I still haven’t stopped laughing! I’m afraid I never realized what lethal weapons circular knitting needles can be in the hands of Untrained Persons or Children. I’d hate to think what a Trained Person could do with them. Now we know why the airlines are so picky about letting folks knit on airplanes. Guess I’ll have to be more careful in future. Maybe a large padlocked safe for my needle collection? Whaddya think?

Whew! Wiping my eyes…Where was I? Oh yeah. In other crafty news, I’m trying to clean up the stuff that I dumped all over my studio/study when I was unpacking. Later today I hope to start hauling stuff out of the north-east attic space. That’s the one that contains really old fabric scraps that I couldn’t throw out, old patterns likewise, wrapping paper, ribbons and other packaging materials. I’m in the mood to purge so I hope I can get rid of some of the junk that’s in there and get what’s left sorted into a better and more useful configuration. I have several cardboard boxes left from my fibres (the ones that are now in Rubbermaid bins instead) so they should come in handy for organizing. But I can’t put fabrics into them unless I put them in plastic storage bags first. I found that some fabrics tend to get yellow-brown stains on them from long contact with cardboard so I need to be more careful if I want things to last until I get around to using them. That could be decades! Oh wait…it already has been decades for some of this stuff. Scraps from the dresses I made my daughter when she was 2 and she’s (gasp!) 34 now? Gotta get a big garbage bag up here. Now.

So. Are ya tired of my holiday photos yet? I’ve been trying to get thumbnail-sized printouts of them pasted into my travel journal. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the 175 photos I kept. (We won’t even mention the 4 that I accidentally deleted. Sniff!) And it’s a bigger job than I thought. Of course I've never completed pasting the several hundred from my last trip in September 2006 yet either so I obviously get bored of the job quite quickly. However, I’m determined to finish before I forget what and where. Interestingly T-Man had his camera with us but he never pulled it out once. Of course he doesn’t have a readership to entertain. Heh.

Tired or not, here’s a few more scenery shots from the trip. Here we have the Columbia River at Blanket Creek just below Revelstoke, looking north:

I took this one through the windshield (which was relatively clean at that point) while heading north on the Icefields Parkway in Banff just before we got snowed and sleeted on higher up in the pass:

Here we have the boardwalk through the marsh at Crimson Lake, AB, somewhat west of the last photo. Those are mostly larch trees (conifers that turn golden in fall and then lose their needles in winter), with some willow and spruce and aspens. Isn’t everything a lovely late spring green? Good thing you can't hear the caterpillars chewing on it.

Also incredibly and surprisingly green and further west still (halfway across Alberta actually), we have the usually desert-like badlands:

And this scene looking south may look cold but it wasn’t too bad at all even though, as you can tell from the whitecaps, the wind was blowing pretty hard as usual at Waterton Lakes:

We would have liked to have spent more time at Waterton than 2 days, but we only had so much time and a long way to go still to get back home. If you’ve never been there, it’s a very interesting and relatively quiet international park right on the Canada/US border. It’s quiet because the road is a long way in and doesn’t go anywhere else! The American side is Glacier National Park. You can’t drive directly from one side to the other, but you can take a boat cruise or a long hike. Even if you’re only reasonably fit or older (like us) there are a number of possible trails with amazing scenery. The campground is right in the tiny town on the main lake, Upper Waterton (the photo was taken at the edge between town and campground), so you can walk to restaurants/cafes or get supplies without having to drive. Ground squirrels infest the campground and the deer are so tame they walk through town nibbling on anything that’s not protected. Even though it’s a relatively small park compared to Banff and Jasper, it’s got a lot of natural diversity and lots to do. Even if you don't like camping or hiking like we do.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Now I Wanna Go Back Again

I’ve been collaging some of my holiday photos together so they don’t take up so much space. I decided that today we will have flora & fauna, though this is only a small sampling of what we actually saw. First up there’s Animals:

Clockwise from the top/left we have a Columbian Spotted Frog that we saw in Champion Lakes Provincial Park, BC; a Mule Deer from Kettle Valley, BC; a Western Painted Turtle from Champion Lakes; and a Moose on the Columbia River south of Revelstoke, BC. We were definitely not that close to the moose! They are scary.

Next we have Birds:

That’s an Osprey at Lac le Jeune Provincial Park, BC; a mommy Barrow’s Goldeneye and her ducklings (and likely somebody else’s ducklings too!); a Magpie at the Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller, AB; and a cheeky Whiskey Jack (aka Canada Jay, Gray Jay or Camp Robber, which latter title he definitely deserves) at Manning Park, BC. The Whiskey Jack, along with several of his/her bretheren, had just finished taking peanuts and cherries from our hands and was looking for more.

Now we have Insects:

A Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly in Blanket Creek Provincial Park, eastern BC; Forest Tent Caterpillars eating the heck out of the forest at Crimson Lake Provincial Park, AB; a Dragonfly at Champion Lakes; and a Shield Bug (on my knee!) at Waterton Lakes, AB. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out the exact species of dragonfly and shield bug. I always want to know these things for whatever reason. The aspens and lots of other plants at Crimson Lake were being chomped by so many caterpillars that you could literally hear them eating! Eewww. Interestingly, the roses were pretty much immune.

Lastly we have Flora:

A Wild Rose which we saw virtually everywhere (this one was at Blanket Creek); Prickly Pear Cactus flower in the badlands near the Royal Tyrell Museum; a Morel mushroom from Crimson Lake (no, we didn’t collect any to eat); and rare Bear Grass up a mountain trail in Waterton Lakes.

There were many gorgeous views of mountains, lakes, rocks and trees but I’ll save some of that for later. I’ve got closeups of lichens and tree bark to add to my “textures” collection. However I accidentally deleted the best photo of T-Man! Too bad. No, it wasn’t on purpose!

Speaking of T-Man, he won a prize last evening at his woodturner’s guild meeting. He showed the shawl pin he made me in the President’s Challenge (it was “jewelry” this month) and won a lovely little set of miniature turning tools in a draw. Now he has no excuse not to make me more crochet hooks and other small items. Heh. See? That's a little scarf I made quite some time ago to test out how to apply the lace edging. I dyed the colours but it's commercial (DK weight?) yarn. Maybe it helped to win him the prize? The stick is padauk and the circle is California redwood.

I found a link to this fun quiz on Anne’s Knitspot blog. (You do read her don’t you? Good stuff, especially for lace knitters and spinners. Excellent photos too.) The results of this quiz are almost scary, they’re so true! However, my nails sure don't look that good.

You Are a Ring Finger

You are romantic, expressive, and hopeful. You see the best in everything.
You are very artistic, and you see the world as your canvas. You are also drawn to the written word.
Inventive and unique, you are often away in your own inner world.

You get along well with: The Pinky

Stay away from: The Index Finger

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just Warming Up

It’s actually somewhat more sunny today and I woke up in a room that was 16.5 C. Much warmer than yesterday and the house is 19 C. too so my shower was warmer than it has been for the last few days. Much happier Damselfly! However, it’s still supposed to be somewhat changeable so I’m not expecting this to last. At least they aren’t calling for further cold temps. I can handle some rain. Occasionally. Saves me from watering the garden, such as it is. But I draw the line when I need to cuddle up in a blanket to watch TV. In summer.

Back to the saga of trip to Alberta. Today I’ll keep it crafty. I completed my Tulip socks on the second day out:

Tulip Lace Socks

Begun: May 21, 2007
Completed: June 10, 2007

Yarn: Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch Softcolor, 70% wool/23% polyamide/7% Elité, colour 504 (muted reds), 1/100g ball.
Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo 5” dpns, 2mm
Pattern: Modified from Red Leaf Lace Socks by Judy Sumner (Knoxsox Designs) from INKnitters Winter 2003. Tulpen (tulip) lace pattern originally from “Omas Strickgeheimmisse” (Grandma’s Knitting Secrets).

I liked this lace pattern (don’t ask me why they called it “Red Leaf Lace” in the mag), but first I had to chart it out. It was easy to memorise and I didn’t need to check the chart at all after the first repeat. Sorry the photo shows the tulips upside down though that’s the way they look from my end! I followed the pattern except that I used 2mm needles instead of the 2.5 mm recommended for the lace part. I probably should have listened better because the lace is somewhat tighter over the instep than I would like due to the tilting stitches and slight bit of ribbing. (That's how a broke a needle when I tried a sock on!) I made the leg one repeat longer than specified. After the heel turn and completing the pattern repeat I continued on the foot as I usually would since I didn’t have the pattern with me when we were camping. The written one was pretty similar but the toe is a bit more rounded.

Notice in the photo that the two socks nearly match but that the colour progression in one is upside down! I started one from the wrong end when I wound the yarn into two balls. On the right sock the colour transition after the heel turn is a bit abrupt but that kind of thing is rather hard to predict ahead of time. I’m going to make another pair (with an extra pattern repeat to widen it) for my daughter since she liked these ones so much. I already have another ball of the same yarn ready to go after I finish her hubby’s Boring Black Birthday Socks.

As a matter of fact, I began the Boring Black Birthday socks right after kitchenering the toes of the Tulip Socks. They are merely my standard plain socks on 72 sts. I’m at the heel turns on both socks. Too boring even to photograph in process.

Also while I was traveling I managed to get some work done on the Fern Leaf Lace Skinny Scarf knitted in the leftovers from the Cherry Leaf Shawl. It’s over a metre long now:

And I finally got over my need to check the chart every 5 seconds and making mistakes every other row. This pattern just didn’t penetrate my head very well so it took well over a foot of knitting before it clicked. I did discover that lace doesn’t make for good traveling knitting — I have to look at what I’m doing and just can’t get the needle in the proper place for the double decreases when being jostled as the van drove. So it’s back to plain socks for that. I know the fern leaves will look quite different when the thing gets blocked out but I’m liking the combination of a little lace and the straight, almost geometric sides. I do love a long skinny scarf that I can wind around my neck several times.

And I almost forgot! Wilfred the Wildfibre Moose won a prize at the conference! For Best Interpretation of the Theme “Wild Fibres” but it was unfortunately a tie with another guild (sorry I don’t remember which at the moment). If you can remember back to when he was nekkid, here he is in all his handsome glory:

My legwarmer that I knitted him is the one on his left front leg. The left rear one was knitted by the patrons and staff at Three Bags Full, one of our LYS, and the other two were whipped up on Janice’s knitting machine. Those are felt flowers in his mouth. The rest of him and his field of flowers consists of weaving, knitting and felting (and even basketry antlers) by our Vancouver guild members. I think he turned out great thanks to the very talented Diana and Beryl and their helpers especially Kirsten and Cathie. Congrats!

Next time I'll show you some more fabulous BC and Alberta scenery.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Return Of The Native

That’s Lone Duck Lake looking up to Mt. Frosty in Manning Park. Yes, it was almost as cold as you feel looking at it. I’m back, not tanned, but happy and relaxed. Only a few mosquito bites but most of the bumps on my body are goose bumps from the cold! The weather was pretty rainy when we left but we came back to a thunder & lightning storm and unseasonably chilly temps. It was only 13 C. in my bedroom this morning! That’s winter temps not summer. Ugh. No wonder my broccoli in the garden is turning purple and hasn’t grown much since we left over two weeks ago. I’d be turning purple too. Instead I’m wearing several layers of warm clothing because the furnace in my house is turned off. The thermometer says it’s a whopping 16 C. on the main floor. Luckily it’s somewhat warmer up here under the roof. The sun was supposed to stay out and warm us up but it’s not doing a very good job. It is however much warmer outside than in.

We did have a lovely holiday in spite of the somewhat changeable weather. We experienced everything from rain to sun, including sun and rain at the same time, snow, sleet, and thunder & lightning storms. We saw lots of gorgeous scenery, animals (including bear, moose, whole herds of deer and several different varieties of ground squirrels), birds (osprey, white pelicans, magpies, tanagers, woodpeckers, nuthatches, hummingbirds and flycatchers), many different butterflies and lovely wildflowers. We traveled up the Coquihalla Highway through Kamloops, east through Revelstoke and Golden, north a bit on the Icefields Parkway in Banff, then east again to Red Deer. The ANWG/HWSDA conference was at Red Deer College and I spent 3 and a half days there. (More on this later.) After the conference ended we went east some more to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum, then south-west through cow country skirting the edge of Calgary and all the way south to Waterton Lakes National Park. After that we headed west through the Crowsnest Pass and Highway 3 to Hope and then home. Apart from the time in Red Deer and 2 nights in Waterton, we moved to a different provincial campground every day. 16 days in a tiny VW van, comfy and well laid out as it might be, wears a bit thin by the end. We were happy to get home to hot running water and our own bathroom. We were not happy to get home to cleaning up after our messy old cats and the neglected garden work.

I enjoyed the conference more than I thought I might. It was nice to hang out with some of my fellow guild members, see some old fibery friends, and to make some new acquaintances. The food was passable and at least there was some lower-carb choices for me even though the coffee-break snacks were pure carby goodness and I couldn’t eat the fruit salads either due to my melon allergy. At least I was able to keep up my tea consumption and thereby avoided a migraine. I wisely brought my own big insulated mug and thereby also avoided using dinky disposable paper cups. I did have two complaints, neither of which may have been the conference organizers’ fault: lack of signage and directions to the various displays which were spread all over the huge main building of the college (it was like a “Where’s Waldo” game to locate them) and the echo-y speaker system in the gym where the meals and keynote speeches, awards, fashion show etc. were held. It wasn’t just my bad hearing (though I wore my hearing aids all the time and went through batteries like breath mints) but others were having trouble understanding some of the speakers too. I was grateful that at least the keynote speakers Anita Luvera Mayer and James Koehler were very careful to annunciate clearly and slowly enough for the echo to minimize. I was glad because they were interesting to listen to. For a very much shortened version of Anita’s favourite topic see this PDF from Handwoven magazine. Syne Mitchell also talks with her on her podcast available here. She is always very personal but with lots of great inspirational quotes. James showed slides of his work while he spoke of his long love-affair with weaving and his development as a tapestry artist and then showed a 1994 video of himself at work set to rather Fantasia-esque music. It was neat to watch how elegantly he laid in the yarns and bubbled the wefts for each pick. A weaver’s dance.

When I was registering for the conference, I had to choose either 3 half-day or 1 whole-day and 1 half-day workshop/seminars. That was a tough choice because either I wasn’t really interested in the subject or all of the ones I wanted were at the same time. In the end I chose a lace-knitting full day and a spinning lecture half-day but the lace ended up being cancelled. By that time I didn’t have much to choose from but luckily it resulted in what ended up being a very interesting workshop. Linda Shelhamer from Billings, Montana, showed a class of over a dozen people of various spinning experience her short-cut method to spinning for self-striping yarns. Instead of a scale to measure out differing sized lots of dyed sliver, she uses the “baggy method”. You cram different sized paper envelopes and plastic baggies with fibre and then arrange them in a numbered order and pop each one into a labeled file folder pocket. Spin them up in order and ply and then all you have to do is knit and the pattern emerges automatically. Of course it’s not quite that simple! But pretty brainless. She even included charts so that all we had to do was to pick our main colour and then the chart specified the other colours and which pre-labeled and numbered envelopes to put them in. Linda had worked out 3 different applications: a chained (Navajo) 3-ply in faux-fairisle for socks, a 2-ply which included one ply of the striping yarn and one of a coordinating but dull variegated also for socks or mitts and lastly, a natural-coloured 3-ply with one ply striping, one moorit merino and the last a camel down and silk texture for a hat. The last option came already bagged for us and when we ran out of time during class, had to be spun for “homework”. Here’s some of the class’s samples which we wound on cards for show & tell:

Note some of the yummy coloured wools we got to use! I made errors in each of the samples (duh!) but it was a fun exercise which I finished up later in the camping trip. I knit two wristwarmers, neither of which match in any way but can be worn together, out of the second option which I like best. Linda gave us some of her dyed fibres to take home which is what I used for the second wristwarmer.

The second seminar I took was with Michelle Boyd from Ft. McMurray, Alberta. In contrast to her formal Master Spinner studies, she has become fascinated with spinning novelty yarns using waste and recycled materials. She showed us a Power Point slide show of her yarns and also passed them around for us to feel. Since I have an abundance of bits of fibres and lots of thrums and reclaimed yarns around here, I thought this would be a good way to use some of them up. I especially liked Michelle’s emphasis on creating “usable” yarns as opposed to “art” yarns. She had examples of projects she’s made using some of her novelty yarns to show us. This wasn’t a hands-on seminar so I just took notes instead.

Yes, both of these were spinning related. Though the results of either could be used for weaving or crochet or what-have-you, but most likely for knitting. I actually got to spin quite a lot on Tori, who came with us on the trip. Almost every day in fact. I was trying to spin up some of my moorit merino but it took most of the time we were away just to fill up a single bobbin of fine singles. I plan to knit a shawl with it eventually.

Which brings me to my shopping. Have I mentioned the shopping? There was a small gym full of vendors. Not as many as usual at these things but then it was in the middle of Alberta. None of the US vendors managed to come (too much trouble crossing that darn border?) but there was still lots to choose from. And there is no provincial sales tax in AB. Lovely yarns, fabulous fibres, looms and wheels, needles and stitch markers — you name it. I managed to find pretty much everything I was looking for (superfine merino weaving yarn, bamboo yarn and spinning fibre, bison fibre) and some things I wasn’t looking for (2 more sizes of Addi Lace circulars, suri alpaca laceweight yarn) but I didn’t find any books which is really unusual. Either I had it or I didn’t want it. Weird. Usually I bring home more books than anything else.

Since this is getting rather long and I’ve got other things to do, I’ll carry on later with more about the places we went and the things we saw. I’ll leave you with me comfortably spinning with Tori in our little home-away-from-home:

PS. The post's title is actually a book in case you're not up on your Thomas Hardy. I went through a whole Hardy phase in my teenaged years. They do benefit from a re-reading with a more mature viewpoint.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Wouldn't That Frost Ya?

That’s what me old dad would have said when this happened:

I broke one of my 2mm Clover 5” dpns yesterday evening. Sigh. But I didn’t break it by stepping on it, squishing it in the lid of the knitting box, leaving it on the bed or executing a too-tight decrease. (All of which have happened to me at one time or another!) No, I merely tried on one of my Tulip Socks in progress to see how it was looking. Apparently the needles didn’t want to stretch over my instep and a weak one bent instead. Boo-hoo. I’m substituting one of my ubiquitous bamboo skewer needles instead. Why don’t I use them all the time instead of spending the big bucks on a set of Clovers, you might ask? Because my homemade ones break even easier and the points get shredded faster and then I have to spend half-an-hour or so sanding a new one. And the new skewers I have are really nice but they’re closer to a 2.5mm so it takes quite a while to get them down to the right size. The commercial knitting needles are finished with something that makes them keep their smooth surface longer. At least in my experience. I believe some people are harder on their needles than others. I tend to use the 2mm size for most socks so they get a lot of use and 2mm is a pretty skinny piece of bamboo. (Wooden needles break even easier at this size no matter how much prettier they are.) So it’s no wonder that damage occurs occasionally. I’ve heard that manufacturers say you should get 3 or 4 pairs out of a set of bamboo needles. I usually get double that before the points start to degrade and then I gently sand them and wax by rubbing with a piece of waxed paper. If I’m careful I can get several years worth of use. Another trick is to have several sets so I’m not using the same ones all the time. Though I sometimes end up having more than one pair going instead! Did I mention that a “set” for me is 10 needles? Because I work on 2 socks alternately, I need 2 sets of 5.

I did discover that the Tulip Socks are looking quite good. Sorry I didn’t get a photo while I was sacrificing one of my needles! Next time I’ll transfer to a cable first. And I scored another ball of that gently ombre-ing red Mega Boots Stretch yarn at my LYS so I can make another larger pair for Someone who was admiring mine-in-progress.

I’ve got all the craft stuff, seminar stuff and reading material (sci-fi/fantasy books) packed and ready to go. Next I need to pack all the electronic gear: camera, Palm, batteries, chargers, cables, SD cards etc. No, we can’t go camping without all the mod-cons. Even if we don’t often have electric plug-in. My Palm has my knitting patterns and sock dimensions for family members in it. Not to mention T-Man’s cell phone number which I can never remember, in case I need to contact him from the conference. I also need my hearing aid supplies especially lots of batteries. If I’m wearing them all day I go through a set of batteries every 3 days or so.

Today’s excitement was a stolen SUV left in my back alley with the lights on and wipers going. I checked that there was nobody inside in case somebody had had a medical emergency or something but thought maybe they had just gone into one of the other houses nearby or maybe the new building next door. Nope. Several hours later a Canadian Springs delivery guy tried to get down the alley and when nobody came to move the car he wisely called the cops. He had to leave before they got there so I went out and told them my story. Car is now gone. Why does it never occur to me that there may be something nefarious going on? I always think something legitimate first and only later realize that more is going on than meets the eye. I watched building materials being loaded into a panel van next door and only as they quickly drove off when T-Man came home realized that they were not supposed to be taking stuff! The builders themselves come and go and move supplies around all the time so I have no idea which are ok and which not. I decided that it’s their problem if they can’t secure things better. My little revenge for the loss of my lilies? They could have put up some fencing around the building site which would protect both of us somewhat. But no.

Speaking of the builders, they just showed up and missed all the excitement. The tree parts are still there and I hope they remove them before we leave. I can’t afford to lose much more of my fence. T hopes to talk them out of more trunk but we can’t move it ourselves.

So far the weather forecast is not looking too promising for the next week as we pack and leave on our vacation. Figures. But I don’t care! I’ve got stuff to amuse myself with in the van and rain gear and dry boots to hike in and I’ll be at the conference for almost 4 days in the middle anyhow. I always bring clothes for both warm and cold conditions, no matter what time of year we go camping. I’m just not a hot sunny beach kind of girl anyway. The point is to get away and see new scenery. The biggest problems might be roads flooding, mudslides and campground closures. There’s been all of the above happening around the province with the combination of high snow pack, hot weather and then lots of rain. All we can do is go, cross our fingers and be flexible if necessary.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wasn't That A Party?!

T-Man and I spent last weekend’s mornings working in the garden. We’re almost ready to leave it to the tender ministrations of our daughter while we’re away for two weeks. The tomatoes are in the greenhouse, the broccoli is in the garden and I planted the beans. It was very hot so we could only work until just after noon when the sun finally gets around our trees and garage to beam on the garden. We also had the pleasure of dinner with said daughter and her new hubby while they showed us their photos from their honeymoon cruise through the Panama Canal. I sure love viewing them on the computer while they narrated rather than flipping through a pile of photos or peering over someone’s shoulder at an album. They're going to give us a disk with the compiled photos from their wedding and some of the honeymoon when they manage to sort through the 2000+ shots.

The weather turned rainy yesterday and a still a wee bit today but since everything was bone dry it needed the deep watering. I had a lovely lunch with Nana (T’s mom if you didn’t know) and darling daughter at the Mongolie Grill. I also got to eavesdrop on the city inspector questioning William the, Contractor about the house building next door and reaming him out on various infractions of code. The best line was “How come the house doesn’t look like the plans?” – it was a total hoot! As expected, William did quite a tap dance trying to explain everything away. Don’t think he succeeded particularly well. Even better was the tree cutter guy who showed up at 5pm with the huge cherry-picker truck to cut down the giant pear tree that has been the bane of our existence for decades. He unfortunately had trouble turning the truck into next door’s back yard and ran over the corner of our fence, squashing some of our mostly-tame blackberries and tipping over a small forsythia which landed on my asparagus. See?

The green fence part is theirs and will be replaced but the second corner post is ours and was supporting the wires that hold up the blackberry bushes. I heatedly ran out and got an apology and an “I’ll prop it back up when I’m done” promise. (Which to his credit, he tried to do.) We got the better of him though by getting a glass of wine each and sitting on our deck watching him through the whole process of chopping down the tree piece by piece. It took him a couple of hours so we went through several glasses of wine. And while we were laughing and carrying on, I took pictures:

Going…going…going…gone. It was exciting but kind of bitter-sweet. In a way it’s sad to see a very old tree bite the dust but on the other hand all it did was drop killer pears from 50 feet onto our heads and leave the smelly litter all over the yard for the wasps to find. Drunken wasps are not fun. Especially when you’re deathly allergic to wasp stings like I am. That tree also had a habit of drooping branches over our power and phone lines, wearing off the insulation and threatening to break them. We had to get them replaced. That pear tree was about 3 times the size any pear tree has a right to be! It was almost on the property line only about 3 metres from each of our houses and our original neighbour (who passed away almost 2 years ago) was never able to keep the darn thing in check. It was just too high without a truck like the one they ended up using. He would have had to take down the back fence and his dish antenna and drive over his veggie garden. Since the back yard is just a sea of mud and debris now, there’s no problem (well almost no problem!) driving in to do the job.

When the tree was just a pile of branches and chunks of trunk, the fellow called it quits. T-Man asked if he could have a lovely big burl for woodturning and the guy found it and carried it over for him. He must be really strong because the two of us together can barely shift it! After he left we went over and brought over a couple more pieces but they were really too heavy. The rest is still waiting for him to come back with the chipper. T hopes to get a few more chunks of trunk before it’s all taken away. He promised me a spindle and a nostie if nothing else. The rest may become bowls since that’s his favourite thing to make. After all, he has a new expensive lathe that he’s hardly used yet!

In other news, I’ve kind of run out of sewing steam after realizing that I’m not going to get much done with all the cleaning, laundry and packing and stuff still to be done by Friday. I got the cropped pants cut out and a blouse but I’ll be lucky if I get a white cotton petticoat sewn to wear under the old hand-painted dress I plan to wear to the banquet and fashion show at the conference. Hopefully I’ll get that done today in a short session. BTW, I found this item cut out in my sewing drawer and completely forgot that I even had it. I planned to edge the bottom with some linen bobbin lace that I made years ago. Who knows how long it was sitting in that drawer waiting patiently? The dress in question is quite sheer (crinkled something or other) so I need to wear something under it, usually white leggings. But I wanted something different this time. Nice to show off some of the bobbin lace I made, simple Torchon though it is. I haven’t made lace in a very long time, actually since I lost most of the feeling in my finger in the beginning of 2002. I think I could do it again now that I don’t even notice the weird finger anymore. Some day.

Of course I’m packing for the holiday crafts before anything else! I’ve got the Son-In-Law’s Boring Black Socks. I’ve got the trickier-than-it-should-be Fern Lace Skinny Scarf. I’ve even got the yarn for some slippers, in case I need something else mindless to do while traveling. I’ve got my Tori spinning wheel and some moorit merino to spin laceweight. To justify dragging along the wheel, I need it anyway for one of my seminars. Usually I would just bring a couple of spindles because they take up less room in the van. But Tori is pretty compact in her backpack and I can get all the rest of the equipment in there too in her generously sized zipper compartment. The merino can be…packing, yeah…so she won’t get dinged again. Right. Although I did add more padding where she bumped her upright before which should prevent any further mishaps. I’m also packing a nostie and a mini-niddy in case I need them. Though the workshop list didn’t call for them — just a wheel, 3 bobbins, kate (she’s not “lazy”!) and scotch tape. My other half-day seminar only calls for pen and note paper so we won’t be doing any hands-on for that one.

Although I could conceivably spin while we’re driving, it would have to be in the back seat and it’s miles away from the front of the van. I’d probably make myself carsick too. However I can knit on things that don’t take too much concentration or much looking at what I’m doing. Socks are ideal because I can do plain ones on autopilot. I’ll save the spinning for quiet times in the campsite. We’ve been trying to plan our itinerary and have quite a few potential parks to visit in BC and Alberta on the way to and from Red Deer. There should be some great hiking too if it’s not too hot. There are advantages to getting up as early as we do and hopefully we can keep it up instead of sleeping in. Except of course for the conference itself when we’ll be totally underslept for 3 or 4 days as we try to keep our eyes open for the keynote speech, the juried show opening and the barbeque/fashion show! They don’t even start until it’s almost our bedtime. What old fogies we are, eh?

Friday, June 01, 2007

June Bugs

Happy June! It’s a lovely summer-ish day today and getting warmer. It’s still light when we go to bed (9 pm) and already light when we get up (sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 am). The early mornings are wonderful! It gets hot up here in the studio and study in the afternoons though. But at least I can see what I’m doing. Guess I can't have everything, eh?

Well hey, it worked! I was able to get the cropped pants out of the fabric that I wanted to use by curving the hem and using a facing instead of a folded hem. I decided that this pair is getting funky cargo pockets on the side of the leg above the knees instead of inset pockets at the waist. Don’t be concerned about them accentuating an area that doesn’t need accentuating. My legs from just above the knee to the ankles are quite slim. It actually evens out my pear shape somewhat. And besides I don’t really care as long as it’s practical. I can carry my Palm or my camera and keys on a hike.

I obviously got sidetracked from my fabric inventorying, didn’t I? It took me quite awhile to get all that stuff off the floor and put away for the moment. Well, the whole point was to find out what I had and what I could make from it. Now I know and I have 7 neatly labeled boxes. And I need some new clothes desperately, particularly summer pants. I found several pieces of fabric that would work for shorts too. Gee, I must have got my sewing mojo back after wearing it out temporarily on the wedding garb!

Lest you think that pile of fabrics represents all I have, think again. That was just the stuff that was in my studio. There are boxes full still in the attic! In total, there’s more than 30 years of accumulated junk that I just couldn’t bear to throw out before. Most of it is very antique crap and not much of it is really usable. I already threw out one bag of ugly scraps and horrible material. My new philosophy is if I can get rid of the bad stuff then I can go buy some really good stuff to replace it. My tastes have changed and I’d rather have an idea in mind instead of purchasing a random amount of something on a whim. That way I won’t find myself short a few inches. Yeah, right.

Just heard on the radio that 1 or 2 glasses of wine a day is beneficial for a woman’s health. Oh goodie! An excuse to do what I’ve been doing all along. Not that I needed one. I’d certainly rather have a nice glass of Gewürztraminer than a can of Pepsi. (Ick.) I’m thankful that I have a resident vintner with a new batch on the go at all times. A toast “To your health!” has new meaning now. Sláinte mhath! Santé! Whatever.

Enough stalling. Back to the sewing machine…