Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy (?) New Year!!

Gee, I hope yours has been better than mine! If "begin as you mean to go on" was true, my 2017 is in trouble already. The Creeping Christmas Crud that I came down with on Boxing Day has now morphed into bronchitis. Bleh. My ribs are sore from coughing and there's a baby elephant situated on my upper chest. Of course that does mean that chances are good that things are going to improve! Just as soon as I can shift that baby elephant off.

Meanwhile, I've been amusing myself by moving from my bed to my computer chair to my living room chair. You know - for a change of scenery. And reading e-books. I'm already a book-and-a-half into my Goodreads challenge for 2017. Last year I read 139, 14 books over my challenge of 125, so this year I upped the ante to 150. I know a lot of people think this is some kind of stupid contest, but I like knowing how many I've read. Just for fun. I also tend to read "fluff" books. Nothing heavy or profound. At the moment, that's Urban Fantasy or Urban Fantasy/Romance. Yup, vampires and werewolves and ghouls, oh my! Go ahead and chuckle. I don't care. I won't laugh if you prefer mysteries or biographies or hot human romances. Or regular fiction, self-help, politics...whatever. Reading pretty much anything is good.

Ever since I got my iPad Mini last year, I've been reading books online or in digital format. Yes, paper books have their adherents. But the cheap newsprint and small type of paperbacks plus the fact that you have to do something with them when you're done means that digital is far more convenient. Between the library and other free Internet sources, I rarely pay for a book anymore. I can read in the dark, change the typeface and size, and delete the file or URL when I'm done. No fuss, no muss. I still have a pile of paperbacks that I haven't even looked at in a year, except to take a few of them with us on our Transcontinental Trek, just in case I ran out of digital books or something. I think I read one or two. Perhaps my tastes have changed since I bought them? These are more straight-up classic fantasy than I'm currently reading. I may have to re-home them.

When my eyes start to blur on the words, I've been working on my crocheted lap blanket. I've renamed it the Tow Hill Blanket after the special place in Agate Beach Provincial Park on the north coast of Haida Gwaii:

(Photo borrowed from BC gov website.)

I love that now the blanket is big enough that I can work on it while covering my legs to stay warm at the same time:

I truly hope I have enough yarn to make it an adequate length. I seem to be running short on a few colours and I'd like to go at least another 20" longer. Yet another game of Yarn Chicken! That's what I get for using stash leftovers. And crochet uses up quite a bit more yarn for the same area. At least it's quick! The two-row stripes are equivalent to at least 4 rows of knitting plus they go twice as fast. The downside is that I can't crochet and read because I need to look at what I'm doing nearly constantly.

I can watch videos though, unless I'm missing any important action. So I've been sitting in front of my desktop computer and watching Craftsy classes and Interweave videos. I much prefer the Craftsy classes because of a couple of important differences. They both have good production values (more recent Interweave ones have improved a lot) and excellent instructors. But Craftsy has the advantage that there is a forum for questions and answers and posting examples and finished projects. Craftsy breaks the classes up into chapters and there's also a way to pause the action anywhere and add a marker with a personal note. The videos are continuous and it's hard to find the place where you want to watch something over again. No way to mark a section you want to repeat either and it doesn't hold your place if you have to shut down. Kind of annoying.

That said, I've been on a spinning research kick so I watched Esther Rodgers' "Fiber Preparation for Spinning" on Craftsy and Jillian Moreno's two Interweave Videos: "12 (Plus!) Ways to Spin Batts" and "12 Ways to Spin Handpainted Top". As an old dog who can learn some new tricks, I especially liked Esther's class. I have no desire to make wild batts for art yarn but I do want to use up various fibres and bits in my spinning stash and combine things to make large enough amounts for a half-decent sized project. The technique of making smaller tighter rolags using 2 sticks to wind the fibre onto as you doff off the drum carder is new to me. I also like her tips to card some smooth wool on first before adding more exotic ingredients to a batt and covering inclusions with more wool well burnished down before trying to rotate the carder. There have been a lot of newer ideas since I got my first drum carder in 1975! And yes, I still have the old beast (possibly an early Patrick Green but no logo) and with 45 teeth per inch and I still use it for coarse wool. My newer carder is a Pat Green Deb's Delicate Deluxe with interchangeable production (72 tpi) and fur (120 tpi) drums. They pretty much cover any carding needs I might have.

The videos with Jillian Moreno were quite good but somewhat repetitive and limited in scope. If they left out the reiteration, some of the spinning demos and a lot of the colour choosing (in the tops video) they could perhaps have combined the two into one more complete package. (But then, I guess, where's the profit in that?) I was hoping there would be something about actually making the batts and tops but Jillian only concentrated on the commercially available ones. I prefer not to buy them but to make my own. However I did learn a few good ways to use what I have which was the point of the exercise.

I also watched several YouTube videos on fibre prep which I won't bother to detail. As you might guess even if you haven't done this, the quality varies. A lot! Some are very good, some are tedious and some suffer from bad technical quality. Somewhere in all this though I got a great tip about layering colours on the drum carder, pulling it off and then turning the batt sideways and carding again for a slightly blended stripe effect. There's more interesting details to try but my snotty brain isn't working up to snuff right now. (Hah! Pun! Bad.) I will be working on the next great sweater project as soon as I have enough energy to climb around in my attic storage to find the fibres. Stay tuned.

And, no, I haven't done any more on the woven blanket project. Just in case you were wondering. No? You weren't? Good.

So. The weather is sunny and cold. Our intersection is so icy:

There were people ice-skating on it! I swear I have lived in this neighbourhood nearly my whole life and that is the first time ever that I've seen skating on the street. Cross-country skiing, yes. I've done it myself. Sledding. That too. But never ice-skating. Only very rarely have the ponds in the city parks been frozen enough to skate on and right now they aren't. But they might be soon since the temp is supposed to dip more in the next few days. This is just weird. Thank you, La NiƱa!

So I'm concentrating first of all on getting better. I actually got up, dressed and did the dishes today so there's improvement. Maybe I'll even be up for a wee bit of cleaning and grocery shopping before my dear sister gets here on Wednesday from Haida Gwaii for a visit.

Hope your 2017 is peaceful, productive, and fun!

Breaking news! This just in:
Now they're playing ice hockey out there! Even weirder. This is not Manitoba, OK?

1 comment:

Sharon in Surrey said...

Get well soonest Ole Bean . . . I had some December crud that made me cough until my ribs hurt too. I could barely move on the right side. But, it got better with rest, lots of liquids & more rest. I slept, I read, I watched some TV but mostly, I slept for about a week. I have a Kobo with the e-ink. It's back-lit with scaleable fonts so I can even read WITHOUT my glasses in the DARK. I love it. I signed up for BOOKBUB. It notifies me of cheap or free books, every day.