Monday, May 30, 2005

Again with the technology

Tree of Life, about 90% complete...

The Odd Ball IT and Technical Support Division has once again been busy with the constant cranky demands of a certain Odd Ball. This weekend, the appliance of maximum annoyance was the scanner, which in addition to doubling as a boat anchor, had the very unique property (for a scanner, that is) in that it didn’t actually scan anything. Once again, it was one of those technological experiments gone awry. First error, I was the one who bought the scanner. In the grocery store. Yes, the grocery store. Isn’t that where everyone picks up their electronics these days? Lettuce, eggs, butter, milk, quart of engine oil and computer hardware…it’s right next to the lentils, dearie, you can’t miss it.

That should have been my first clue. The second clue should have been that they only wanted $35 for the damn thing when every other one for miles around was selling for 4 times that price. Third clue probably would have been the fact it was so big, I nearly had to call a neighbour with a pickup truck to come help me get it home but somehow I managed to heave it into the Honda Civic without needing to pull the back seat out or requisition a tow bar.

To his eternal credit, the Odd Ball IT and Technical Support Division managed to keep his laughter down to some minor chortling and just one guffaw. He looked disappointed when he tried to hook it up to the old computer and after 20 minutes of minimal swearing for dramatic effect, he explained the problem. "The hoo-haw gizmolater isn’t communicating with the erbly maxipixel…and so forth".

Oh, it isn’t communicating properly, now, is it? Wouldn’t be the only one in the room. I know I should be used to it all after 16 years of marriage but I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with this techno-babble is a stiff drink and to lay down with a cold compress on my forehead until some other fool makes dinner.

In any event, through the jigs and the reels and the husband-speak, there was no earthly way to make the scanner talk to the computer and that’s was all there was to it. Enter the Tech Support Division who, after considerable consultation and consideration, decided that the only way out of this mess was to buy a new scanner.

You know what started this journey of Death by a Thousand Trips to Future Shop? This blog is what started it…I started a blog to talk about my knitting. What’s a knitting blog without pictures? So I got a digital camera, which in turn necessitated a new computer, which spawned the need for a new desk, which now nicely holds the new scanner, which I had to have because… and this is a ‘free’ blogging service?? I think I need that drink now.

On the knitting front, I’m not…but today's photo is a picture of the wool I tortured for a couple of hours on Saturday night. This week, I've done about 4 rows of the burgundy lace shawl completed and I’ve got the stitches picked up and the pattern established on the lace edging for the mohair shawl. Other than that, I spend all my time punching holes in otherwise well-behaved wool. And deciding on whether I should be drinking gin or vodka.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Step by step...needle felting project

The template

Oh, damn, babies, I’m here to tell you that this needle felting is a gas. Today on Sesame Street, celtic knot work.

Okay, well acknowledged fact -- I can’t draw worth a damn. Thanks to modern technology, I don’t have to, as witness by the download and print to a laser transparency for the purpose of cutting out a stencil.

Traced to the fabric

Design is now traced to a piece of felted wool. It was a very nice double knit wool suit jacket once upon a time and is now scrap. I couldn’t get anywhere with any sensible marking tools like quilting pens etc, so demonstrating my usual patience, I yelled “Screw this” loud enough to scare the cat and took at it with a fine point Sharpie. Fade that will ya?

Loose roving tacked in place

All loosey-goosey, I just laid the dyed roving more or less between the lines and tacked it with the odd jab of felting needles. I worked on the outside of the lines, making sure they were pretty much straight and then worked towards the center. There were a few places where I had to add a bit more fluff. It really compresses. Now this is just my opinion, but I think a person would be sadly disappointed with commercially dyed rovings. This is Liz’s hand dyed stuff. For all you mad central New Brunswick fibre junkies, it’s now being carried by the Singer store on York St in Fredericton -- there’s this week’s shameless plug out of the way.

Roving all felted into place

But in all honesty, it’s the variation in the roving that makes this attractive. If I was working in uniform, commercially dyed wool, there would be no depth to the piece. I’ve been able to pick and choose what I’ve got going where and I think it’s added a lot to the texture. Once I had it all felted down, I did go back and add a little here and a little there trying to blend the colours from one section to another a little more smoothly.

Final product

The final bit was outlining with thin black yarn. That’s about the biggest pain in the arse of the whole project. I put two rounds of yarn around the outside of the entire design and just one on the interior portions.

Total time from “okay, now what?” through to “Okay, that’s done.” was about 3 hours, including coffee breaks and the mandatory sitting back and looking at the ’oh isn’t that pretty’. Remember, I’m a union girl -- I built all of that stuff into the contract.

You can all expect more needle felting in the future, namely because I’m trying to pass myself off as competent this time next week and because it’s just too dead ass easy. It’s a lazy woman’s project…I can hear you all heading for the search engines now to type in “felting needles”.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sign of the times

Start of the Odd Ball advertising campaign

Details, details, details...

When I started this ‘Blogging bit, I knew there was no way I’d be able to write a daily column. That’s 365 columns a year. My life doesn’t support daily anything. Even daily sleep is sometimes stretching it. So I made the commitment to myself of every second day. Surely to God I can bull**it my way through 180+ columns a year. After all, I am a professional communicator … Yeah well today, life happened and what the hell, I’ve got 45 minutes left before today is officially over. Stop whining and start typing, Kate…

My goodness but I find it ever so bloody annoying to have real life interfere with my fun and games. Yesterday was sleeping off the night shift except I had to get up at the unspeakable hour of noon to take Oneida to the orthodontist. Quelle surprise, she needs braces. Looks exactly like her momma with the dentition to prove it. When she was born, I took one look at her and told Brian to start saving for braces and the day has come.

Today I had work thingies to do. And all this being a real responsible employee and/or parent is so cutting into my play time and it is so starting to piss me off.

Latest project…learning to fake needle felting. Fortunately, it’s not a difficult art form to master. Here’s the first cracks at the new sign I hope to display at the needle felting demonstration I’m giving next week. I’m really working on methods for transferring the design from my head to the wool background so I can felt yarns to it. So far, it’s been a little dodgy. Tomorrow is going to be a real experimentation day when I drag out all my tool boxes and see if we can whip this thing into submission.

By the way, the scarlet red backdrop is a sweater I bought at the used clothing store. Last week, it suddenly dawns on the Odd Ball Dumb Ass that there is absolutely nothing in the rule book saying I have to personally knit every freaking stitch by hand. Can you imagine that…knitting it by hand so you can shrink it. I think not. Life is too short and I haven’t nearly enough oestrogen left for that foolishness. Go to the used clothing stores, buy 100% wool sweaters, felt them and cut them up for background pieces…taa daa…so much simpler. Sometimes, I almost amaze myself with my capacity to discover the patently obvious.

And yes, damn it, there will be beads and dangly bits and shiny things on it because my theory on this stuff is MORE is MORE. To hell with all this minimalist, make do with nothing, do everything with even less nothing. I want the shiny bits. I want my sparkles. And when I finally get three steps past the boundaries of good taste and refinement, I’ll add another 3 colours and more sparkles.

I’m in that kind of mood….and all you East Coast (Canada and the US) people out there, question for you: Was summer yesterday? Did I sleep through the entire season? What is with this freaking weather? My lungs are mildewing. I know they are.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading…and there, I’ve beat the deadline with 24 minutes to spare. Told you I was a professional...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Liz, you can stop drooling...

OH yesssssssssss, bad boy, you can join our stitch and bitch anytime...

So what’s up in the Oddball world these days? I mean, other than tracking down photos of Russell Crowe knitting...meow... Of course, being the old married lady I am, I posted it just for my bestest friend ever, Liz.

I’m in the midst of figuring out what edging to put on the mohair shawl. I think I’ve got it narrowed down but I’m ready to start swatching a few things just to say I did it.

The burgundy shawl is about 2/3s done and I’ve reached that bloody awful stage of "oh my sweet suffering bejesus, will this mother ever freaking end?" I’m sure none of you know what I’m talking about since none of you would have any felt that way about any of your knitting projects.

And I just bought enough silk yarn to knit two shawls from a silk supplier in Ottawa. I’ve never bought from her before, so I’m looking forward to finding out the quality. Her prices seem to be very reasonable but not so cheap as to make me wonder about the quality. This silk thing is entirely Liz’s fault. Well, you know I was going to blame her for something. That woman gets me into the worse messes ever. In any event, she’s been moaning about having run out of things to dye because Louët yarns has been slack on delivering her mohair bouclé. Fortunately, I’m such a very good friend, I went out and bought a whack of silk so she can keep herself amused in the evenings. Now that is just pure dedication.

It’s also that time of the week for me to make wild and completely unreasonable predictions of what I’m going to accomplish in the next two weeks. In addition to resolving the Middle Eastern conflict and bringing peace to Northern Ireland and finding a cure for cellulite, I hope to finish my burgundy shawl and the lace edging on the mohair shawl. Oh yeah, and I’ve got to make up some felting stuff.

I’ve got a few crazy ideas that I can put together a display and/or demonstration for the fibre festival in June. Liz and I were talking over coffee last night and we decided we really need to take our show on the road next year. I think there should be something next summer the two of us can light out for and just have ourselves a little fun. Even better if we can dump the kids and make it a "girls be gone" weekend. Maybe we can talk Jacqui Bourque and Trish Campbell into coming along as well. I’m sure there has to be something in the New England region next summer. Anyone with any recommendations for a fun workshop series or fibre festival, leave a message on the comments section, please.

In any event, there are things to be accomplished between now and then and in the meanwhile, I hope to get a bit of stuff accomplished in what remains of this month. Any bets being offered on the likelihood of success? Or is it as it so frequently the case, have I bitten off more than I can chew? I have such glorious plans and I’ve yet to accomplish what I want on the timeline I put forward.

So here’s to all my wild eyed optimism…talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Everything old is new again...

My new shawl in its original format

In response to Karin of London’s inquiry as to the inspiration for the new burgundy shawl, I was trying to figure out a way to do it without violating my ‘copyright sensibilities’. My instinctive reaction, as it would be for any experienced knitter I’m sure, is to whip open the book, point and say “Here, there’s the pattern."

Since after a while, all us read knitting patterns, particularly charts, as second nature. See the chart; visualize the work. It’s a language and a form of communication that only makes sense to knitters. It’s not even a case of ’copying the pattern’. It’s THE way we describe the pattern. And if Karin was sitting in my kitchen, that’s exactly what I’d do. I’d whip open my copy of Meg Swanson’s A Gathering of Lace to page 82 and she’d “Uh, huh, uh, huh” and then it would all be sorted.

But this isn’t my kitchen table. This is the internet and we all know some well-meaning lawyer, some where, would NOT interpret me posting a copy of the chart as my means of describing the pattern.

It’s always one of those screwball things with me because, let’s face it, there’s not much new in knitting. Every combination of knit, purl and yarn over has been done. There are no ‘new stitches’ and what’s left (and the fun part) is making the old new again.

Knitters aren’t inventing anything when they pick up their needles. They’re hauling out the past, dusting it down and re-interpreting it. We use new yarns. We interchange motifs with abandon. We recast the function of the form. But we don’t do anything ‘new’ with our sticks and strings. As Barb Telford has expressed many a time, there’s only so many damn ways you can make a sock, or a sweater, or a hat. In that sense, anatomy is destiny.

But patience be blessed, the designer of the shawl in Swanson’s got the idea from somewhere and lo and bloody behold, in a stroke of serendipity, I found it yesterday. It’s a Danish doily pattern and is NOT subject to copyright.

And without any further ado, here it is:

Cast on 8 stitches on double points:

Row 1: *YO, K1*
Row 3: *YO, K2*
Row 5: *YO, K3*
Row 7: *YO, K1, YO, K1, K2TOG*
Row 9: *YO, K1,YO, K2, K2TOG*
Row 11: *YO, K1, YO, K3, K2TOG*
Row 13: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K2, K2TOG*
Row 14: *K7, K2TOG*
Row 15: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K3, K2TOG*
Row 16: *K8, K2TOG*
Row 17: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K4, K2TOG*
Row 18: *K9, K2TOG*
Row 19: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K5, K2TOG*
Row 20: *K10, K2TOG*
Row 21: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K6, K2TOG*
Row 22: *K11, K2TOG*
Row 23: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K7, K2TOG*
Row 24: *K12, K2TOG*
Row 25: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K8, K2TOG*
Row 26: *K13, K2TOG*
Row 27: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K9, K2TOG*
Row 28: *K14, K2TOG*
Row 29: *YO, K1, YO, K2, YO, K10, K2TOG*
Row 30: *K15, K2TOG*
Row 32: *K2TOG, YO*
Row 33: K

If my scanner was up and running, I’d be able to post the charted version but I’m sure the rest of you are all equally handy with the graph paper and the coloured pencils. And there you have it, the model of my new shawl. I’m about a third of the way through it.

On the other shawl front, it’s time to start swatching and frigging with lace edgings. It’ll take me another month to get that sorted. In the meanwhile, I want to do some needle felting and make some samples for the demo at the Fibre Options show, coming up June 4th.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The other new shawl

The other new shawl

This is the other shawl that I’ve started. I think I’m about a third of the way through it. It’s round, and a very simple lace pattern. It’s going to be nice when it’s done.

It’s being made out of my stash of Newfoundland mohair. It’s a medium quality yarn but I got it dead cheap and it’s a decent yarn for testing out new projects. I can really see this done in silk yarn. I know…oh, la, la, silk, how chic-chic but depending on how the yardage works on this shawl, it might be manageable provided I can get a decent price on the yarn for starters. I’m working on chasing that down.

Liz took her first stab at needle felting. Of course, her thingie is about a zillion times better than mine. She’s also decided it’s completely useless but fun. Actually, it’s a quick embellishment technique.

And on the knitting front, the main part of the mohair bouclé shawl came off the needles last night. Now I have to swatch a lace edging for it and that will be another project done. Then I think I’m going to tackle some more lace projects. I’m really starting to like lace knitting.

In any event, things to do and people to annoy await me today. I’m off. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Another shawl project

New project

The needles barely had time to cool off before I was into this bit of badness. I’ll make no bones of the fact that I’ve had an ungodly case of shawl envy over Liz’s mohair bouclé shawl. Hers is done in autumn colours and about a month ago, she dyed some boucle and it’s been sitting in the Singer store window. I’ve pondered and I’ve tried in vain to talk myself out of it but….but….but…..dammit all, it followed me home.

Well, it didn’t help that when I was beading the Trinity Stitch Shawl and while digging through that pile of rubble, I found beads that are perfect for this navy and aqua yarn. How could I possibly refuse it?

There’s about a million meters on it and it knits up quick. Of course, Kate with her Never Stick to the Ever Loving Bloody Pattern fetish, has to muck with the pattern. This is supposed to be a very simple garter stitch shawl, cast on 3 stitches, increase by one stitch every row, knit until you want to hurl or you run out of yarn, bind off. No, I don’t think so. I’m so happy with the lace edging on the Trinity Stitch Shawl that I’ve decided this one will not be complete without.

Enter Liz… with her trusty dye pot. I had originally babbled that I thought I would use navy to do the edging, more or less frame the entire bit of fluff in the darkest colour. She rummages around in the Cupboard of Many Things and hauls out a skein of very fine wool, yet undyed.

The pictures don’t do it justice but the two yarns are almost an exact match. There’s less variegation than in the bouclé which is precisely what I want in a lace edging anyway. Tone down the colour and beef up the texture, is my theory.

The shawl knits up quickly. I suspect I’m about 1/3 of the way through the main body. Hopefully, I’ll have it done before I’m back to work this weekend. I’ve also got another lace shawl on the needles but that’s for another column.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Oneida's poncho


Back View

It seems to me that when I run out of ‘Blog fodder, I pick on ponchos. I really need to find another straw man to burn. Hang on Canadians, we’re more likely than not to be heading to the polls in YET ANOTHER bloody federal election. That should provide mega-bitch material.

Okay, here’s the happy kid wearing her poncho. Somewhere else, and I’d have to be able to get to my old picture set to post it, I have some detailed photos but here’s the overall perspective. This started out as a stash buster, odds and sods of bits and bites carried with Briggs & Little Aran weight. Then, as one might predict, I went insane and ended up buying a whack of stuff. The stash buster probably increased the size of the stash by a good 20%.

I need therapy.

I can't afford it because I spend all my money on yarn.

In any event, I’m back to the reality of my life and work and that means night shifts. I’m just home and my bed is calling to me.

Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Well, something worked in the felting dept...

Needle felting trial run

Okay, I’m here to attest to the fact that needle felting is about the biggest time wasting, utterly useless thing in the world you can possibly do with wool. It’s also a whole lot of fun and I’ll be doing it again, now that I’ve made it through the kindergarten-level project unscathed (and unstabbed).

It’s dead simple. I could teach Himself to do it. The pictures starting from the upper left hand corner pretty much outline the process. Required tools are some roving or just plain fluff. I used both Briggs & Little 5 strand country roving and some very loose roving. Both had been dyed with Kool-Aid some time last week. You need the felting needles and a dense foam core as a work surface.

Step one, next photo moving clockwise, more or lay the wool in the general shape you want.

Step two: stab it 1.78 zillion times with the needles, starting from the coarsest needle to the finest.

Step three: stab on little decorative thingies and you have a large felted coaster that thrilled a 9 year old to death. It's the felted version of the popsicle stick picture frame you made at crafts class in summer camp but I had a sense of "this has potential".

Total time was about 2 hours, in front of the television. I know the instructions say to pay attention to what you’re doing but does any one really think I’m going to sit and watch myself stab a little pile of wool into submission. Even so, I did not manage to nick myself with the felting needles, which was a bit of a disappointment. My battle cry has always been “No project is complete until there is blood on it.” which is how I ended up with Oneida’s name on it (in wool, not blood, just to clarify). I just kept doing things to it, waiting for the divine sign it was done. Finally, the school bus came, the kid was home so I quit with that signifier.

I’m going to work on making buttons, I think. I have some uses for groovy buttons and felted ones would more or less keep with the theme. It would also be useful as an embellishment technique for other items. The really cool thing about it is it uses the tiniest scraps of fluff. The kit cost me $13.95 Canadian, and included 4 felting needles, the block and some instructions. It wasn’t a bad investment. I’ve spent more on tools that were way less useful.

In any event, I have to do some non-knitting things today, like get some bloody groceries. We’re down to that state of “whole cupboard full of nothing to eat”, no rice, no sugar, no salt, out of crackers, no beans, no lentils, no pasta, no potatoes. I’ve got a freezer full of meat and a pick up truck load of condiments. Time to go get something to go with it.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fibre Option 2005

How do we get to Gagetown again??

Ohhhhhhhhh, but I’m a bad ‘Blogger…I was supposed to have this up and running a week ago.

Fibre Options 2005 -- Saturday June 4 at Grimross Crafts, 14 Mill Rd in the Village of Gagetown, It’s going to be a fun day. Sheep shearing, demos of weaving, spinning, crocheting, knitting, rug hooding, carding, dyeing and probably a few other things you can do with wool.

Liz will be there with her dye pot. Trish is going to knit. I’m going to stand around and try to look intelligent and/or do needle felting, which so reminds me, I need to learn that sometime between now and June 4th. This afternoon is free…guess what I’m doing?

Need more information…just click on the link, provided that this Odd ball managed to figure out the linky thingie.

On that note, I’m off to stab myself repeatedly with really, really sharp needles, assuming, of course, I can find the damn needle felting kit in this pile of rubble.

Talk at you’se laters; thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Done down to the details

Details on the Trinity Stitch shawl, middle photo is the I-cord cast off rolled edge finish.

Done, done, done…finally, after much huffing and puffing and carrying on, the Trinity Stitch Shawl is done. And I’m a-liking it. One thing that was really nice is that I learned a new technique. It’s hard to photograph the final result but the cast off is an I-cord cast off. It makes a very soft, very nice rolled edge that looks a whole lot nicer than a regular bind off method. I really like it and will be incorporating that technique into a lot of items in the future.

I’d like to sit down and figure out what it cost in terms of material but alas, that’s not going to happen. I keep terrible records and the yarn was bought over several trips to the shop and I can’t remember if I used 8 balls or 10 by the time it was done. And I have no idea what the beads cost. They were dug out of the glass stash, which according to Karin in London means they are now free because I can’t remember what I paid for them originally.

This has to come to a grinding halt soonest because my intention is to eventually turn this into a business proposition at some point in the future. So, in keeping with the notion of getting myself half-assed organized, I’ve found a new use for the digital camera. I bought some yarn from Singer the other day and before it got tossed into the stash box, I took a photo of it. It’s so easy to upload the files from the camera to the computer that it’s really not a hardship. Then I could label the photo with how many balls I bought, price I paid for them, yardage, weight and fibre content. Probably not the most brilliant inventory management system in the world but if it works, it’s a step in the right direction. If nothing else, it saves me from having to figure out how to describe similar but different yarns in 25 words or less. I can still spot a picture on a contact sheet faster than figuring out how my brain was working on the day I labelled it.

So what next? Well, girls, I’m still on the shawl kick and I’m thinking I’m developing a lace making obsession. Liz and I were shopping on Monday and there was a real scene at Chapters. I found this book, very nice one, called A Gathering of Lace by Meg Swanson. There’s lots of knitting fodder in there I can assure you. I tried to get Liz to talk me out of the purchase because like all knitting dream books, it cost the bloody earth.

“Talk me out of buying this book.”

“It’s a really nice book, you know…”

“You’re not helping.”

I should know better than to ask Liz to talk me out of any fibre related purchase. It’s entirely her fault that I have 11.2 km of mohair in an refugee asylum hearing at my place. I saw the stuff on eBay and called her…”Talk me out of this Liz…" Who owns enough mohair to clad an apartment building of people in mohair scarves? That should give you some idea of her skill set in the “talk me out of this” department.

But back to the next knitting project…if I was very disciplined and terribly together, I’d spend a little while moping up some of the other almost finished projects. I have a pair of socks to finish and a sweater for Himself. Someone promise me if I ever mention knitting a sweater again for anyone that you’ll hit me in the head with a brick or something. I hate knitting sweaters. It’s such a commitment issue. I have about 5 inches of sweater to knit and I just can’t find the heart to pick up the needles and continue. Besides, if I finished the sweater, he’s have to find something new and marvellous to bitch about, like the fact you can’t find the living room floor for the yarn stash.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Progress being made...

Getting there...

The Trinity Stitch Shawl continues. This is the start of the beaded edge. I'll tell you all about it but right now, the kid requires her appointment with the paediatrican, or something spelled roughly like "children's doctor".



12 noon: Half the day is shot and I’ve accomplished the grand sum total of nothing squared. Okay, there is that issue of taking the kidling to the doctor, and getting an abdominal x-ray as we try to get to the bottom of her unexplained, intermittent, completely out in left field belly aches. After a considerable consultation with the paediatrician, I came to the conclusion, we’re never going to know what or why. Nevertheless, it serves as household entertainment for a while yet.

And if grousing about performing my most basic duties of child rearing as interfering with my knitting schedule doesn’t net me a nomination for “Mother of the Year”, I have no idea what will make it this year.

On the knitting front, and as you can all see, the Trinity Stitch Shawl is off the needles, ends woven in and in the beading process which is becoming more problematic by the hour. My daylight hours of late seem to be taken up with minor details like running a house and looking after the family and working at night on beading… I am here to tell you I am officially too old for that shite. I just don’t have the eyes for it anymore and regardless of how many spotlights I put on the workspace, there are some things, like threading grey beading thread through a extra fine beading needle that demand natural light. Yeah, I know, one of those thread-er things … doesn’t help picking up the seed beads. Time to just face up to the fact that the eyes aren’t what they used to be for some things. Of course, it doesn’t help that the specs are out of date with the prescription and it’s going to take two weeks to get the new ones on my face. The good news is that they’re actually ordered and paid for, so some of the problems, like seeing the computer screen clearly, should be alleviated.

Nevertheless, new specs, magnifying glasses, spot lights, Ott Lights, whatever, some projects are forever in the “daylight” hours realm anymore. Prime example would be working on black or with black. I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve got about 2000 m of really nice, very fine, lace weight mercerized cotton here that would make a kick-ass shawl, very Mediterranean/Spanish influences. In my mind, I can see it now. It would be delicious. I haven’t even bothered thinking about specific patterns because I know I couldn’t work on it most of the hours that I knit.
And lately, doing beaded work is getting to the same point. I’m hoping that new glasses will help with that detail because I love beaded embellishment. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll have a few close-ups of the beading detail on the Trinity Stitch Shawl.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sheep Thrills in Fredericton

Liz's Yarns -- Sheep Thrills is the name. Cute, eh?

Liz and I spent a knitting/spinsters dream evening last night. She was dying about 800 miles of slubbie and I was just taking the Trinity Stitch Shawl off the needles. I’m trying to get in the habit of carrying the new camera around with me and we spent half an hour photographing her latest batch of yummies. Sheep Thrills is the name of the yarn and it will be available in Singer on York St first of the week.

Amazing how a month ago, it would have taken us a couple of hours to get it all together but the learning curve has been conquered and we’ve got it down to a bit of a science.

After we managed the photographing, I started working out the beading pattern for the shawl edge and Liz read aloud from Deb’s Dudley’s Tie Dye Rovings, when she wasn’t ohhhh-ing and ahhhhh-ing at the incredible colours and just eye-yummies. We laughed and we cried. It’s a great ‘Blog and if you haven’t checked it yet, don’t delay.

Again, all hail to the Odd Ball Knittery IT dept. Himself, knowing that the whining and snivelling and bitching and grousing and complaining and sighing and sucking of wind was never going to cease, thought he’d do an end run on the whole natter fest and went out and bought a new computer. Ours had come over on the Ark and it was acting weirder by the day. Transferring photos from the digital camera to the Blog was becoming an 18-step process. I had to download to the laptop, and have Brian dump it onto the desktop. Can we all spell ‘pain in the ass’? Oh, yes, indeed-y.

So, for Mother’s Day, he bought me a new computer, one with the memory ports in the front. Stick the memory stick in and zap, pictures loaded. Another click, drop the CD in and burn them. I did Liz’s product shots inside 10 minutes last night after getting home from her place and the hardest part of the process was finding a Sharpie to write “Liz’s Yarns” on the CD. Now that’s technology that makes sense. And I’m a-liking it. Our place should be a bitch-free zone for the next 18 hours or so.

Well, he’s still tweaking. He had to endure a minor temper tantrum this morning when the firewall ‘protected’ me from signing on the my email, the Blog or the picture sharing programs. Thanks Norton Utilities…if you thinking I’m impressed by the inconvenience and bullshit, I’m not. And no, I won’t be renewing my ‘trial’ version. Today, if I’d had an axe handy, I’d have removed the firewall from the system in a totally rude way that is unlikely covered by warranty.

Not that I’m cranky enough with the fact that our hot water in the apartment building is non-existent and I haven’t managed to get in touch with the landlord yet. The only thing that could improve today would be menstrual cramps and listening to the cat throw up on the couch as she tries to evacuate yet another hairball. Oh never mind, we’re there already.

Apparently, I spoke too hastily. What the day really needed was for the battle ship sized roast pan of chicken stew to burn in the oven while the Chef blogs away merrily.

So, all you mothers out there, here’s looking at you, kiddo. Hope you had a happy one or at least, you’re not contemplating infanticide…which considering my 9 year old hasn’t figure out that ice cream belongs in the freezer and not as a permanent fixture on the counter, is a distinct possibility here in the Odd Ball Haven. I’ll let you know tomorrow if she has any hope of making a decade.

Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Full circle and the rhythm of Time

The trinity stitch shawl edging

Happy belated Cinqo de Mayo for all you so inclined; TGIF for the rest of you working stiffs. Me, I’m enjoying a little vacance and pretending that this Trinity Stitch Shawl is not driving me batty. I’ve decided it was designed by Dante as a time passer for those stuck in the 4th circle of Hell, you know, the one for the avaricious and the prodigal, condemned to an Eternity of Useless Labour.

This morning, I was awoken in the wee early hours … oh, all bloody right, it was quarter of nine and half way to freaking noon but as the ‘Blogger, I reserve the right to edit details for dramatic and narrative effect. Again, with the story, I was awoken with the sudden realization of why the Trinity Stitch shawl has continued on into Eternity. I’m down to about 7 inches of edging to knit and try as I might last night, I could not get it done. My hands were cramping and I was starting to make mistakes. Liz listened to me say things like “Gosh” and “Gee Whiz” while we were in the midst of our nightly phone call, also known as the Permanent Convention of the Stitch n’ Bitch.

I can see the end in sight but can’t quite seem to get there. Life keeps intervening. Yesterday, Brian and I had to go to the lawyer’s office to update our wills and all that paper work. Settling Mother’s estate has been a reminder that ours might need a little tweaking to cope with changing fortunes of life. And while I was out, I might as well get a few groceries and thereby eliminate yet another episode of my favourite game, Making Dinner out of a cupboard of Nothing to Eat. You know that one, dinner for three made from a can of soup, four frozen peas, Worchester sauce and garlic that somehow looks and tastes exactly like meat loaf, and NO, I am not sharing that recipe, so don’t ask..

I know, excuses, excuses. Always with the bloody excuses. Bottom line is that ever-blessed shawl ain’t finished and I’m a-loosing patience with the process, not that I want to leave you with the impression that I’m ever patient about anything anywhere for any reason. But this morning, I seem to have found a whole new sense of calm about the entire matter, an almost Zen sense of detachment from it all.

My early morning thought, the one that awoke me, was the realization that this Sunday will be Mother’s Day. Readers for the last month or so will remember I started this shawl when I was doing the night shift by Mom’s bed during her last week in palliative care. At the time, the three in one/ one in three nature of the stitch fit the mood as my mother was preparing to slip off into the Eternal.

Today is Friday. I’ll finish the seven inches of knitting and the bit of finishing work today. Tomorrow, Saturday, it’ll be washed and blocked and drying so it’s ready to wear on Sunday. Sunday is Mother’s Day and the first one I’ve ever had without my Momma. My sister Kelly is coming up from Halifax and we’re going to go plant some flowers on Mom’s grave and now I have something to wrap around me, for what else is a shawl but a hug you can carry with you?

I think time for me to go blat now. Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Is it just me?

It's never ending...

So far this week, I have knit 827 miles of lace edging for the oft-referenced Trinity Stitch shawl. By current calculations, I have a mere 10 253 miles left to go… You have to admit, that’s not bad for a shawl that’s only 30 inches deep from wide side to apex. But what regard does a knitting project have for the rules of the space/time continuum? None, I tell you. None. They are nasty little blighters in that regard.

Is it just me or does everyone suffer from this phenomenon? The first 9/10s of a project are relatively painless; the last 10% is like dental surgery without the fun bits to keep one amused.

Seriously, the edging is attached to the two short sides of the shawl. I knit from the top to the turn at the bottom in one day. I’m now on day two of knitting up the other side and I’m just half way done that bit. Do I knit slower as I get to the end of a project? One would think otherwise really. I’ve knit this pattern repeat so many times I no longer need to consult with the pattern. Like most laces, it’s easily broken down into 4 to 8 stitch blocks and once you’ve done them a few hundred times, you pretty much can figure out the details.

Or is it because my mind is already on the ‘next’ project? I’ve been eyeing the stash and puzzling out how to solve whatever little detail that’s niggling at my mind. You’d think this preoccupation with something else would make my knitting go faster, in that I’m not stopping to examine the stitches every second row.

I’m working on the theory that it’s actually alien influences and that the yarn stash is really a portal to another dimension and as projects near completion, they send out little signals to their off-world masters who need to dilate time in order to open a worm hole to the yarn stash universe.

No, seriously, I had my meds checked last week. Why do you ask?

Monday, May 02, 2005

All things in moderation.

Novelty yarns for texture and visual interest.

In the comments section of the April 30th column, Karin in London made a point that got me to thinking. We had been discussing, actually I was making fun of, entire articles of clothing or entire pieces made in novelty yarns, specifically the ‘fun furs’. Karin’s comment was “The sad thing is, an entire [cardigan] done out of fun fur would have cost a mint - they could have made it out of pure merino, or silk even, and it probably would have cost less. I'm not averse to using a wee bit of fun fur or other novelty shit as an accent, mostly for children, but really, that's as far as it should go”.

As she so often does, Karin started me thinking about the idea of value for money. Lord only knows, none of us knit because it’s a cheaper way of providing clothing to family or ourselves. A pair of hand knit socks cost me between $10 and $16 to produce and those are just the raw material costs. As Barb Telford, one of my favourite champion knitters puts it, “If it’s socks you want, Mark’s Work Warehouse sells them by the bagful. Cheap.”

Labour never figures into the ‘cost’ of an item produced. I knit because I knit. It’s my entertainment and my recreation. And it takes me just as long to knit them out of good yarn that’s going to last a millennium as it does to knit it out of ‘bargain’ bin crap what won’t last 2 hours.

As hubby will attest to, usually with some degree of mumbling under his breath, the cost of a skein of yarn rarely figures into my purchase decision. I chose yarns based on how they look and what I want them to do. I’m not adverse to acrylics and I’m guilty of novelty yarn use and abuse. I’ve even incorporated “fun fur” into items with reckless disregard for anything remotely resembling good taste. My thing is to play with colour and texture. The novelty yarns are custom made for that sort of exploration, in spite of their expense.

The bottom line is something I’ve had to start paying attention to of late and that’s a bit of a novel concept for me. Part of this entire exercise is developing a line for retail sale. I still select yarns based on how it looks but now there’s a second tier question: “Will incorporating this yarn into this, in that quantity, drive the retail price of the item through the stratosphere?” I’ve discovered it’s a balancing act where I have to temper my ‘cost be damned’ attitude. Spending $60 on materials for a shawl for myself is one thing. The question I need to answer is will someone else pay the $120-160 I’m going to want for that on a retail level?

On the knitting front, I’ve started the edging for the Trinity Stitch Shawl. After swatching a batch of things, I decided on the really wide one that came with the pattern. It works and I hope to have it finished by the end of today.

And finally, All Hail to the Glorious IT Dept of the OddBall Knittery, chiefly darling husband, who sacrificed his time reliving the Battle of Kursk or something, for the sole purpose of getting my camera to upload and thereby saving himself countless hours of incessant whining, nagging and bitter complaining from someone who shall remain nameless.

Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.