Thursday, June 30, 2005

End of the month wrap up...

Good grief, what do you mean it's July already?? We're half way done with 2005 and I haven't got a damn thing done on June's List of Impossible Dreams. Well, the burgundy shawl is almost finished. It just needs to be blocked and then I'll be able to decide if it's large enough.

I think I'm suffering from separation anxiety. The Bestest Friend Ever, Liz, is off to Rothesay for a couple of days, being Presidential at the New Brunswick Craft Council Rothesay Craft Festival. Our Mme President has worked hard for the last year trying to promote and develop the Council and it's nice to see the Festivals are still a vibrant and important part of the New Brunswick arts scene. However, her absence means I haven't had my usually daily phone call and last night it was disorienting. I didn't exactly mope but things were just out of sorts without our normal hour of straightening out the world to our satisfaction.

Yesterday, I traveled back out to Hanwell to purchase my new knitting machine. One of my newer entries on the "things to do" list, in addition to learning how in hell to use a knitting machine, is to make some more needle felting. Lynn Laagland, the woman who sold me my new machine and a member of the Fredericton Machine Knitters Guild, invited me to demonstrate needle felting as an embellishment technique at the annual Maritime Machine Knitters Conference Sept 30/Oct 1st. I'm looking forward to attending.

The knitting machine will land at my place sometime next week. I can hardly wait. Of course, it's going to take me a month of Sundays to become adept at using it but I plan to join the machine knitters guild to help shorten the learning curve.

In any event, that's the news from this part of the OddBall world. Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading.



Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Finally, something..errrrrrrr... half-done...


Burgundy shawl off the needles

Edge detail


Yeah, I know I was supposed to ‘Blog yesterday. Yesterday was the 2nd day of the every 2nd day rule but … (rummaging through the big old bag of Really Good Excuses to find)….

1. The Cat Died… uh, no, it’s still loitering on every horizontal surface of the house, shedding massive quantities of white fur. Can someone please explain to me how a cat that weighs under 10 lbs is capable of producing 90 lbs of fluff per week? I really think the National Science Research Council needs to stop pissing around with questions on global climate change and hardware for space missions and start producing some basic research for the good of all Canadians.

2. I Had To Work… nice thought but it’s a heat wave which makes the CommCentre officially a mental health hazard because TRUST ME, everyone is cranky and when Fredericton gets cranky, it calls the police dept, en masse, to crank. I’m avoiding the place like it was a plague-house myself.

3. It Was Too Hot…. Oh, Suck IT UP Princess…even I don’t believe that one.

Okay, apparently, I can’t come up with a good excuse as to why I didn’t write the ‘Blog yesterday so the truth will have to suffice. Liz and I went scoping out a new knitting machine. Lynn Laagland of Yarn Havens, who I met at the Gagetown Fibre Festival has a nice little business repairing and selling knitting machines. She also carries a lot of used ones on consignment. She called me last week for something unrelated and in the course of conversation, I told her I’d bought a new to me knitting machine and promptly went into the multitude of reasons of why it wasn’t what I was looking for. And by happenstance, she just received two knitting machines on consignment. I feel a road trip coming on. Yesterday, Liz, Oneida and I gear up and head for the wilds of Hanwell.

The machine is pretty. It likes me. And it does stuff more than just knitting plain cloth. Liz wants a knitting machine like what I’ve got because she wants to knit fabric for felting and that's all she wants to do. Me, I’m a knitter and damn it, I want to knit. I did up some yardage the other day for felting and as soon as I finished, it was "okies, what's next?" The problem with the machine I bought is there is no NEXT. This is it, baby. End of the line. What you see is what you get. I want to work with multiple colours and textures and lace and construct garments … and… and… you’re getting the drift here, aren’t you?

The trip back was interesting. I hadn’t started the car up when I sprung the comment Liz has come to dread, “Talk me out of this, will ya?”

In truth, we gave it a valiant effort. But for every reason “why not” we came up with, we uncovered two “go for it”s. Even more entertaining was getting home to Brian to tell him that I’d found a knitting machine I wanted way more than the knitting machine I bought two weeks ago. We went through all the arguments to justify this purchase - more robust, more versatile, ribber, blah, blah, blah. He had but one question: "Does the damn thing make sweaters?"

"Yes, dear, it makes sweaters. The other one doesn’t make sweaters because the bed is too small. It doesn't have enough needles.”

"So this new one, it has enough needles to make a sweater?"

"Yes, it has enough needles."

"You sure it has enough needles?"

"Yes. Definitely."

“You need to buy the new one then. What's for supper?”

There, that’s settled. I’m going to buy another knitting machine.

On the hand knitting front, I finally got the burgundy shawl off the needles. It needs blocking but given the general humidity this week, that would be an utter waste of time. It would take forever to dry. I can’t decide if it’s big enough until I’ve blocked it, so the edging might be relegated to a detail if I have to dig the crochet hook. I’ll bead it once I’ve figured out if it’s big enough.

That’s the news from my place. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Spinning my wheels


A very cranky sheep...

After a few years of this, the Bestest Friend Ever, aka Liz, has become accustomed to my bi-monthly panic attacks. She listens on the phone while I rant,rave, belly-ache, panic, curse and alternatively plan for the future – I mean the future where I’m 23 years old again, weight 130 lbs and married some billionaire with hell of a heart condition --that future. Our girl Liz takes it all in stride. She murmers ‘uhhhhhhhhh-huh’ and ‘mmmmmmmmm’ and ‘well, yes…’ at appropriate times. And while I know she’s actually doing her nails, cleaning the fridge and mopping the floors, the fact that I can hear her breathing on the other end of the line while I’m having my minor nut-fit means I’m not talking to myself. And yes, dammit, it makes a difference. Talking to myself is just plain crazy. Ranting like a lunatic with someone studiously ignoring you is called venting and is possibly a form of mental health therapy.

Yesterday was one of those days. I’ve had a very non-productive month. I’ve feel like I’ve accomplished nothing. The biggest problem is I’ve had my days off on the weekends and that means my lovely family is underfoot…I mean, showering me with their love. I get very edgy and out of sorts when I don’t get anything done. And after an entire month of dealing with my darlings instead of my ‘to do list", I’m getting cranky. Very cranky. Hissy even.

I’ve got five days left to the month of June and I’m no closer to seeing the end of the burgundy lace shawl than I was on the 15th. Well, actually, I’ve finished the main body of it, I think. The lace edging needs to be added but that should go fairly smoothly. The felting fiascos have only served to exacerbate my sense of nothing’s working and the knitting machine….well, let’s discuss the knitting machine.

My machine is the Singer LK100 – bottom of the bottom of the line of the hobby machines. I knew when I bought it that an upgrade is in my future. This one is not going to do enough to keep me happy. I bought it for two reasons: one, to find out if I liked machine knitting and two, to learn the basics. If I were knitting just for my own happiness, I’d probably never go the knitting machine route. There is a sense of rhythm and satisfaction that comes from hand knitting. But as soon as commercial considerations come into play, it’s hard to walk away from the knitting machine. Lynn Laagland from Yarn Haven was telling me the other day that she can knit a pair of socks in 13 minutes. Beats my 4 days all to hell. In any event, I was talking with Lynn on the phone yesterday and she tells me she has a new used machine in the shop. It’s got a ribber. It’s more than twice the size of what I’ve got currently. It’s probably coming home with me shortly but I need to kick the bank account a couple of times.

So far, I’ve expended a fair amount of cash on this knitting stuff. It’s time to think about getting some of it back. Right now, I’m not overly concerned. I had the money put aside and I knew there would be a cost to make the transition from hobbyist to professional. My only consideration at this time is to qualify for juried artisan status with the New Brunswick Crafts Council in their fall jurying session. That’s why I’ve been caught up in a lot of experimentation. I need five items that will pass muster in my mind as acceptable professional standards. So far, I have exactly none – hence the seed of yesterday’s panic attack. September is not very far away and the list of things to accomplish suddenly seems overwhelming, particularly when I work in the fact that I’ll lose time to family holidays and, and, and… I futz too much. In any event, it’s time to start looking at some area retail avenues for the fall.

In any event, there’s plenty of time left to panic before fall. I’ll talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yeah, Felt This....

Sorry, no picture this morning because your OddBall is disorganized and apparently can't count to "2" without assistance or a calculator or a calendar...in any event, today is the Second Day and once again, we are column-less....let the bull***t roll.

Felting...what gives with the ever loving felting? For the record, I've had it with that technique. I did up two items -- one was some hand dyed yardage that is eventually going to be a needle case. The other is a purse. Both are Briggs & Little Regal 100% wool heavy worsted weight. Both were knit on the same knitting machine with the same tension. Both were washed together in the same washing machine, in fact in the same cycles.

And the results, you ask?

The yardage felted. The purse didn't. The yardage, for the most part, looks good in that felt-y kind of way. The stitch definition has disappeared and it is decidedly smaller. The purse still has all kinds of stretch, the stitches aren't matted and well, it's bigger because the bugger hasn't bloodly shrunk.

I give up.

Liz and I were talking because that's what we do every bloody night of life and she said she recently read somewherethat lighter coloured yarns felt less sucessfully than darker coloured yarns. Does this bear out with other people's experiences? My true felting disasters to date have given me every reason to believe there just might be something to this conspiracy theory.

So there, you fibre junkie persons out there, and I know you're listening -- What do you think? Does the colour of the yarn have an effect on the final results in felting? If so, any ideas why? Send your comments, theories, experiences, criticisms, observations, witticisms, mad ramblings and torrents of senseless bloggery to the comments section.

I may have to gear up and go scientific on this one.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Try this felting stuff A-Gin...


It's a start



Snort. Sneeze. Cough. Hack. Wheeze.

The dust bunnies gave up one hell of a fight but I think I’ve prevailed, for the most part.

Maybe.

I’ve got most of my bedroom/studio space half ways cleaned up and with any luck, and a year or two at the most, it might be fit to work in. The big problem is that I have this wonderful knitting machine parked in the middle of it and when I’m packing up stuff, it keeps singing, “Oh, Katie, my little odd ball, come play with me.” And so I do because it would be rude to refuse it.

Ohhhhhhh, yes it would. You know it would be and us Maritime girls are nothing if not polite.

Yesterday was a play around day. I knit tension swatches for the most part with my most used wool, good old Briggs and Little. I wanted to have an idea what the different tensions looked like and I managed to get three done. I also learned how to increase a stitch and I’m getting very proficient at unravelling my knitting. The knitting machine is going to really kick a whole in the stash - at least that’s my hope and dream. Now I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do other than knitting squares.

The yardage I knit this morning -- literally a yard -- took me about an hour. That includes the several false starts, the odd swearing session and a rummage through the stash for a co-ordinating yarn when the first ball ran out. Eventually, this will become a needle case. I’m hoping. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The other little knit do-dad will be a purse once it’s felted and I’m planning on using some needle felting as the primary embellishment technique.

Short column today because I go back to work tomorrow and there are things to get done. One of which is to drop hubby’s new bike down to the shop for adjustment. Yes, dear, I haven’t forgotten your new toy. Oneida and I both need haircuts. And I’m thinking groceries might be a necessity around here soon.

Happy Summer Solstice to you all. Talk at you’se laters; thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day


It's not a yarn swift but...


Diana, the Dysfunktional Knitter, has provided more ammo and teasing in this house ever since she posted the picture of the yarn swift her hubby got for Father’s Day. I’ve told Brian a few hundred times that if the Odd Ball IT and Technical Support Division doesn’t buck up and start fixing things before they annoy me, there’ll be no yarn swifts for them this year. Not that my threats have done any good. They're still the same lot of slack-arsed, work shy, Pepsi swilling spongers that they've always been.

In any event, as much as I know he would have been the envy of his office, and all his war gaming buddies, I couldn’t find a yarn swift that I thought he’d like. So I had to settle for getting him a new Giant bike. He’s taken the switch well and hasn’t whined in the least. What a brave guy!

He even had his breakfast served to him without the usual “What the hell are you thinking, Mister? You’ve apparently mistaken me for the staff…get your own damn breakfast!” Thank God this Father’s Day joke comes but once a year and then we can get back to the natural state of affairs where the Universe does revolve around me.

Actually, I am going to have to talk about me for a minute, since this is ostensibly a knitting blog and while the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division does have his uses, knitting ain’t one of them.


My baby getting ready for some felting action


Voila, the knitting machine. I still haven’t a smicky on how to use the damn thing and the instructions…what is with the instructions. Machine knitting bears no resemblance to hand knitting. I’ll tell you that for nothing. Okay, I can knit a squarish type thingie without any further instructions. It takes longer to actually read the instructions than it does to knit it, once you got it all in the groove. Ohhhhhhhhh yeah, and that would be the ‘catch’. You know there’s always a catch. There is with machine knitting too…getting it into the groove is the catch. Let me put it this way -- parts of my vocabulary got an exceedingly good work out last night.

Note to self: never try to use the knitting machine when tired, cranky or frustrated. It will bring all of those things with it. I’m sure that as I get more experienced, it will be less and less problematic. Just for the hell of it, and because I actually do have some enamel left of my molars, I ought to break out some of the stash and knit a sweater. **Snort** For you know who...

In any event, it’s time for me to clean the pig sty -- I mean my bedroom/studio space. If this column is never updated again, you’ll all know that the dust bunnies won. Liz’ll keep you posted on how the search is progressing… In the meanwhile I bequeath all the stash (I mean the parts that Liz doesn't want) to Deb from Dudley Spinner because she knows a good home for it.

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

Friday, June 17, 2005

Mid-month catch up


The felted napkin ring by Fredericton based felting artist Denise Richards.


Good grief, it’s Day Two already and this is a wrap up column where I try to string together several loose ends in some semblance of a ‘knitting’ theme. Hell, I’ve done more with less before.

The chorus of howling requests and hints (and you all know who you are) for pics of the felted flower napkin ring…here ya go. One felted flower napkin ring, created by Fredericton fibre artist Denise Richards or Richardson. I was actually planning to get her name right before I posted this but what the heck. Late breaking afternoon edition: We've heard from the proofreading staff and it's Richards. Definitely Richards. Just moved here from BC. Drinks coffee with cream in it. But it's Richards.


My new baby, still swathed in shrink wrap.


Also, in the picture gallery is my new to me knitting machine although in truth I don’t think the thing was ever taken out of the box. I have no earthly idea of how it’s going to work. I worked nights last night and am scheduled for the same tonight. And let’s face it, knitting machines are nowhere near as portable as the plain old fashioned ‘stick’ version. There is hope – I have Monday and Tuesday off without Brian and Oneida. Next week, school summer vacation starts. She’s thrilled. You know I am too. Liquour cabinet is almost completely stocked.


What else to tell you?? Liz is dying the silk I bought a few weeks ago. I have almost completely the main knitting of the burgundy shawl and hope to finish it up fairly soon. I have about 5 more rounds of the main body to knit before I switch to the lace edging but I’m at the stage where the rounds are now nearly 500 stitches each. It’s beyond tedious. I’m at the serious sighing stage of shawl production or as the Yarn Harlot would put it, I’ve got that whole black hole thing going on.



The silk as it was - it's currently enroute to purpledom.


Oh and I need to rant. Liz, you can stop reading because you already listened to this at lunch the other day.

Recently, I discovered I have a need to purchase some Precious Metal Clay aka PMC. It’s basically Fimo except the polymer part is pure silver or pure gold. I want to work in the silver. I’m going to have to lay out a bit of cash to purchase it and the little firing pot/torch. This is all fine. I have something in my head where I need this stuff before I can take it from “idea” to “reality”. I can buy acres of the stuff from mail order houses in the US. There is NO shortage of merchants willing to separate me from my cash when it comes to this stuff. Instead, I do the ‘good civic-minded’ thing and call my local art supplier.

MISTAKE. MISTAKE. MISTAKE..MISTAKE…MISTAKE…MISTAKE.

First I get into a 5 minute conversation of ‘no, I don’t want FIMO. I want PMC. No, it’s not the same thing. No, really, that’s what it’s called. I want PMC Plus or PMC 3. No, it’s not FIMO. Yes, I know what FIMO is. I have about 93 shades of it here. NO, seriously, it’s different. Same idea. Different.

Once I get Miss ‘’yes, we have FIMO” settled down to a dull roar, she doesn’t know if they have it, if they can get it, if I should pack my bags and go to hell now or later. She’s going to ‘talk to the buyer’ on my behalf. She takes my name. She takes my phone number. This should be entertaining and it is.

Flash forward to the next day: I enter said art supply store for the purpose of buying some foam core board. At the cash register, whilst paying for said foam core board, I introduce myself to the employee as the person who inquired yesterday about the Precious Metal Clay and did she know if the store could procure them.

In starts with the litany of excuses from “I don’t know” to “we don’t deal with that distributor”. She goes on and on and on and on, until I was actually embarrassed for having asked for the stuff in the first place. I honestly don’t know what’s with these brick heads that they can’t seem to figure out if ONE customer is asking for it, perhaps other customers might be interested in it as well. She made it very clear that it was just too much effort for anyone at the store to find out if they could stock it or not. The final touch was “if you leave your name and phone number, the Buyer can get back to you”.

I finally confessed that it wasn’t that I couldn’t find it elsewhere. It’s that I had this stupid notion that I should try to support my local business. Trust me when I say I won't be making that mistake again.

What really sticks in my craw is that this will be the same troupe o'clowns bleating on the local CBC whine fest about how our downtowns are dying. Yes, they are because the pack of pickleheads which currently attempts to pass themselves off as 'merchants' haven't the sense to provide anything remotely resembling 'customer service'. Hint: I can't buy what you refuse to stock.

By the way, two days have passed and I've yet to hear from the oh so fearsome and awe inspiring 'buyer' -- the owner -- and I suspect I won't today either. It's okay -- like I said at the opening, I've already found people willing to separate me from my cash in this matter and by the way, it's not going to be a small order. Whatever...I've got more pressing things to worry about than this yokel's lack of business sense.

End of rant. Normal service has been restored.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Up Late, Up Early....

I had such ambitions of completing last night's column in time to publish early this morning, but alas...life interferred.

The big news is that I finally figured out what to do with the silk yarn I purchased from a dealer in Ottawa. By the way, it's beautiful silk. I got 400 g of silk noile and 300 g of spun bombyx for $80. It's currently at Liz's for dying. We've kicked around a couple of colourways but I think we have settled out on earth colours for the noile since it already has a bit of grey earthy cast to it. The spun bombyx is headed for the lavender, lilac, amythest, purple end of the dye pot.

Yesterday, in the midst of all the madness that was yesterday, I managed to drop into String Fever, a Fredericton textile gallery. Our gal Liz was doing her volunteer gallery sitting shift there and there was some fantastic things there. I managed to score a felted flower napkin ring that is just too cool for words. I'll publish a picture of it tomorrow, or maybe even later tonight, provided my life settles down to something half-assed sane.

I managed to get one of those charming little crinks in my neck so it's time to get myself to the chiropractor while I can still feel my hands. I'm only overdue by a minimum of six months. I have this awful habit of only going when I can't move instead of monthly like a smart girl.

Okay, and for the record, summer can arrive any time now. It's mid-June and I'm considering pulling out my long johns to come to work. Global warming? I'm thinking about now would a good time to start.

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

Monday, June 13, 2005

The relentless march of evolution...


The now infamous $100 red hat

Well, today starts a whole new chapter in the Odd Ball existence…I’m picking up my knitting machine in about an hour’s time. Not that I’m counting the 72 minutes left until that happens..71 minutes..…

I have no idea what brand, size or description it is. All I know is that Trish called me up and said “Whoa, woman, found a knitting machine for next to nothing. You want it? Hundred bucks?”

SOLD.

A hundred dollars? Hell, I’ve spent that much on a hat, which even I’ll say was a whole lot of money for a hat but the point is, was and remains, I wanted the damn hat. And so I bought it. And furthermore, the hat didn’t cost a hundred bucks to start with but I took so much grief from the Odd Ball IT and Technical Support Division about the $100 hat, that I went out and promptly bought a red purse to match said hat -- now it’s a $100 hat. Watch it, honey, your pay day is just around the corner. But I digress…back to the knitting machine.




Lynn Laagland of Yarn Haven demonstrating machine knitting


The knitting machine purchase is a little ahead of schedule. I was planning on starting to look for one in September. I’d half-assed started talking to people about different kinds, what features there are, fine gauge versus heavier gauged needle beds and giving some thought as to what I want to use it for. Every time I’ve seen a machine knitting demonstration, I’ve always made a point of chatting up the operator to glean a little more information. In fact, last weekend at the Gagetown Fibre Festival I spent a good deal of time talking with Lynn Laagland of Yarn Haven about her knitting machines. Lynn is strictly a machine knitter and oh-la-la, what she can crank off that puppy. I was amazed.

I think the biggest bit is the time savings. Liz and I have kicked this around a thousand times in conversation -- labour costs kill us as commercial producers. There seems to be this Hobbesian choice between making a living and making traditional art forms. Me, I love knitting. I love everything about hand knitting. It takes me a minimum of 40 hours to knit a lace shawl. Even at minimum, unskilled labour wage rates, we’re talking a retail price on the shawl of $250 before materials. The retail cost of said shawl would be in the vicinity of $350 - $400 by the time I worked in all my material costs and selling costs such as gallery fees. Retail reality -- no one in Atlantic Canada is going to buy a $400 shawl, regardless of how pretty it is. A woman would be lucky to sell one a year and personally, I think after a while, it would just feel like rejection on a cosmic scale.

The alternative is to work for $0.50 an hour, literally. That would bring the labour costs on the shawl down to $20 -- with materials thrown in and selling costs, we’re in the vicinity of $80-100. That people will spend. I’m just not willing to go there. And I’d been a union girl/labour barking radical too long to ever go that route.

In fact, just this past weekend, la famille et moi were down in Saint Andrews, a charming little seaside tourist clip joint that I love totally. There’s not much to see or do in Saint Andrews really. The entire town is built on the premise of shopping and I personally can’t help admire the means and varied methodologies they’ve devised to separate the visitor from his cash. You can go there for an hour, determined not to buy anything, and leave town $200 poorer.

One of the places we visited was a knitwear shop where they have stacks and stacks and stacks of wonderful hand knit New Brunswick sweaters, retailing for $150 - $200. Cables, bobbles, pattern galore…these are not simple sweaters. I recognize the yarn as my old standby, Briggs and Little, so I know the material costs are running in the vicinity of $40, probably less for wholesale bulk purchase. My point is that somewhere, someone, probably some woman, is knitting for pennies on the hour.

But, let’s face it, knitting is culturally seen as ‘women’s work’ and therefore is without value to our society. I know, historically speaking, knitting, weaving and the other textile guilds were dominated by men but I’m trying to keep this discussion out of the 17th century.

Bottom line, through all the jigs and the reels, the only way out of this conundrum is to upgrade to the mechanical age. A knitting machine it is. I used one, once, in my teens when a neighbour showed me her new purchase. I was impressed at the time that I’d made a baby sweater in an afternoon.

The other thing I’m looking forward to is being able to execute what is in my head while it’s still in my head. Again, I love hand knitting but it is time consuming and frequently, I get bored senseless prior to finishing the project. See any of the previous columns on my husband’s Argyle sweater that has all of 4 inches of knitting left to do on it. I know there’s no more than about 2 hrs left on it but the thoughts of touching it again is enough to make me hurl. What's going to save me is that some day I'm really going to want my size 6 Addi Turbos back and they're currently buried in the sweater.

So with all due consideration and the malice of forethought, the Odd Ball is going to step into the machine age. It should be a trip.

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

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Now that's the way to do it...


I've got to get me one of those...

I meant the knitting machine, by the way. I've all ready got the Liz in the form of 'bestest friend ever" and she's working out quite well in that regard. Think I'll keep her.


Committed? Committed, you say? I ought to be committed. It’s nearing midnight Friday night. La famille, as they say, en France, is heading out to Hopewell Cape NB tomorrow morning at an unspeakable hour and tomorrow is Blog Day. Blog Day being officially designated as the second of the every second day in which I commit more inanity to electrons and fling it far and wide on the World Wide Web.

Today’s topic is:…………………………..

I so haven’t got a freaking clue. I’m going to tap dance while I type and eventually I’ll either have come up with something clever and witty or just pedantic and redundant, but either way, the DAMN column will be written. It all helps, on every level, that I’m operating on little or no sleep and that it’s hotter than the hubs of Hell around here tonight, hotter being defined as more than body temperature and I can’t actually see my breath in the air which was the entirety of the month of May in Atlantic Canada.

I had a clever little schtick going there for a while. When I ran out of productive things to talk about, I always had the gimme topic of slamming ponchos on grown women. And, for the record, it was working until Deb from Dudley Spinner went and loused up an otherwise cheap gag by making an attractive, stylish and flattering rendition of the ever dreaded and much maligned poncho. Thanks, Deb, I so owe you one. I have every intention of getting you, and your little dog too…ooopps, wrong script.

I know what you’re all thinking. This is, ostensibly and by advertisement, a knitting blog. Why don’t you talking about knitting? Well, I could, except the only thing on the needles these days is that burgundy shawl which is in exactly the same place it used to be, just farther along. I’ve got about another 20 rows to knit before I start the edging on it. Total waste of time taking a picture of it at this point.

The news of the day is that I did buy a knitting machine, second hand. I’d tell you all about it except I haven’t actually laid eyes on it. Trish, from the Singer Store, knew I was in the market for one and scored one for me. I pick it up Monday.

Liz and I were busy this afternoon doing product shots for her. She’s got some applications out to do artist residencies locally and needed to get the applications in.

So more or less, I’m pretty much at the point where I can honestly say I’ve got a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything accomplished. I’m sure there’ll be more to discuss later.
Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

June's List of Impossible Dreams...


The Portal to the 9th dimension... soon to be organized

The Odd Ball List of Things to Do for the month of June…

1. Find a solution to global warming;
2. Lose 20 lbs;
3. Complete the burgundy mohair shawl;
4. Organize my brain and/or life and/or work spaces.

Once a month, I give myself this little vicarious thrill by coming up with a list of things I’m going to accomplish in the next set period of time. I mostly do it as my contribution to amuse myself and my friends. Every month, the list varies in detail but the general theme remains the same. I have a project to complete and I need to get organized. Well, I also need to dump about 50 lbs off my ass but we can all exercise a little patienc in that there department.


And for the most part, I do manage to get something sorted out. Last month, it was learning the basics of needle felting. It was a fairly modest assignment all in all: stab the wool, not your fingers. Repeat.


And, like clockwork, there’s that overwhelming notion that I really – no, I’m serious this time – really need to get organized. Liz and I suffer from the common affliction that we’re both clutter queens. My house is where unloved, rejected yarns come to die. Unfortunately, they bring all their little unloved friends along – dust bunnies, lint, cobwebs, scraps of fabric, crewel stitch embroidery projects left uncompleted 30 years ago…


The second issue is time management. Like everyone else, I have a mere 24 hours in a day. I work fulltime outside the home. I’m a mom, wife and lousy housekeeper with an elderly parent and a young child who comes complete with dance lessons and Guide meetings. And like a lot of women, I have a habit of dealing myself to the bottom of the deck. I choose to make the needs, or more specifically, the wants of everyone in the world a priority over mine. Now I’m not talking about the legitmate needs of family members and honest friends. I’m talking about those people who have a compulsive need to nit pick and be incessantly negative. I think, by now, I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to take myself and my art seriously. And the next couple of years is about my transition from hobbyist to professional.

I’m finally getting my head around the fact that I need to take a business-like approach to what I’m doing. Liz and I are both struggling, in some respects, with the same issues as we try to adapt our artistic sensibilities to a more business level footing. We’re both very competent craftspersons. We know our trade very well. It’s about translating it into a commercial context and building our respoective businesses. And all the sudden, it's a crash course in marketing, branding, image making, suppliers, retail realities, business plans, strategic plans, operational plans, planned plans versus the unplanned ones and you're getting the drift here, aren't you?


Last weekend was part of that process. We got a lot of exposure at the Village of Gagetown’s Fibre Options 05 festival. Happily, I’ve got some positive feedback from our efforts. Another group invited me to do a demonstration at their fall meeting, which I’m very excited over.


Knitting…ohhh, yeah…that wretched sport…I’m working on the burgundy shawl again, provided I still remember how to operate a set of needles. I’ve been so wrapped up in the needle felting, I haven’t worked on it for what seems like ages.


In any event, it’s all in good fun. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

This week's shameless plug...


Worth the money...


Well known fact is that I have this retarded addiction to knitting columns and knitting blogs and knitting books and … yes, knitting magazines.

Usually, I’m sadly disappointed by the offerings. Sigh…there seems to be this notion amongst many editorial types that women who knit do not possess eyeballs or brains or anything resembling good taste. Or that ‘learning to knit’ means stupid projects, which I don’t think should be the case. And 9 times out of 10, I end up kicking myself for having bought the book/magazine because what I gleaned out of it wasn't worth killing a tree for, let alone plunking down some of the old hard-earned cash.

But every once in a while, something comes out of the yarn bin that’s just worth talking about and this issue of InKnitters Magazine certainly qualifies as ‘worth talking about’. I’ve never read it before but after looking at the spring 2005 issue, I’m considering a subscription. It’s a quarterly publication which is usually a good sign. Editorial staff have the time to put thought into their articles and in this issue, it certainly shows. The articles are intelligent, well written and informative. In this issue, I’ve enjoyed technical articles on different cast on methods. There’s an article on sweater design guidelines. There’s machine knitting, hand knitting but I think the most useful is the discussion on design. Where do people get their ideas? As Liz would put it, how do you take it for a walk?

The technical ‘how to’ articles are about the best I’ve seen ever in any subject anywhere. There’s an article on how to knit with beads, beaded jewellery and the like. There are 42 colour photographs illustrating the technique. Forty-two!!! Note to Diana, the Dysfunktional Knitter, if you can’t figure out how to knit with beads with this article, for-get it girl, it’s not meant to be.


I’m a huge fan of preserving our knitting and textile heritage, so I really enjoyed the article on traditional Peruvian knitting. If you’re a person who likes patterns with your knitting mags, they’ve got that too. They’ve got the classic, the timeless, the trendy and the ‘oh my sweet bejesus, who would be caught dead in that?’ -- in short, something for everyone. You a textile geek? Excellent article on the how’s and why’s and whatnots of yarn pilling, how to chose yarns for pill resistance, how to test for pill resistance. And we haven't covered the half of it.

To wrap it up, the magazine is InKnitters Magazine: A Resource for Independent Knitters. It’s published by Fiber Circle Publishing in Farmersville Texas. It retails for $6.99 US or $9.50 here in Canada. It’s worth it all…it’s worth your cash to buy it; it’s worth your time reading it and it’s worth the shelf space to store it.

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

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A fantastic Fibre Festival


Village of Gagetown from the river approach

First off, the Fibre Option 05 festival was an incredible success. Trish, Diane, Liz and I lit out in the early hours for the Village of Gagetown. Trish was driving and picking everyone up. It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a group activity with mature responsible adults, I hardly knew how to behave. One of my pet freak-outs in life is having to wait for disorganized people who need to reacquainted with the concept “punctuality”. I had all my stuff sitting out on the step when, right on time, Trish arrived. We loaded up in under 5 minutes and headed for Liz’s. Liz is always easy because she is always ready and waiting when someone is giving her a drive and sure enough, we drive up, her dye pots etc are on the front step and in under five minutes we’re off to Diane’s. Diane, in keeping with the theme, is all packed and ready to go. Zero stress getting on the road…if that doesn’t bode for a good day out, I don’t know what does.
The Village of Gagetown is a very small community on the Saint John River and is one of the prettiest small towns in all of Canada. It’s also home to a large number of established artisans, including the world famous Loomcrofter’s Studio, renowned internationally for its tartan design and weaving. Woodsmoke Woolworks and the ever energetic Barb Telford organized the event on the front lawn of Grimross Crafts.



The Odd Ball demonstrates needle felting


Now, to be honest, we set out with pretty low expectations of the festival. First off, it’s the first year for it and we all know that the first year of anything is a lot about growing pains. Exhibitors haven’t had a chance to schedule it into their season. People aren’t aware of it and so there aren’t a lot of visitors -- the usual stuff prevails. This year, my expectations where even lower because we had rotten weather for the entire month of May. We’ve had cold and rain every weekend for the past six weeks, and this was the first sunny, warm weekend we’ve seen in forever. I fully expected every backyard farmer in the county to be out feeding the newly hatched mosquito populations in the privacy of their own yards. My ambition for the day was to hang out with the girls and chat…

Well, couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t think I spent more than 15 minutes all day ‘chatting’. I was teaching; Liz was teaching; Trish was teaching. There was a constant stream of traffic in our canopy. I sold a couple of needle felting kits and there was a huge amount of interest in the workshops we’re looking at offering in the fall at the Singer store.

Actually, I didn’t even have a lot of time to wander around and get pictures. There was just one person after another in the tent, listening to my spiel on needle felting. Poor Diane, she was sitting in there as well, looking after the “shop” side of things and if she heard the intro once, she heard it 50 times. I’m sure she must have heard it in her sleep last night.



Hell, yes, let's do it again next year...

In spite of liberal and early application of sunscreen, our girl Liz managed a sunburn on her shoulders. We were all wiped from the heat when we packed up at 5 pm and headed home.
Of course, nothing like this is ever complete without the old ‘after-action’ report, as we used to call it in the military… the conflab when everyone compares their list of what went right, what could be improved upon, what we could make better. Somehow, I don’t recall the Army providing Blue Raspberry Martinis to help with the process but we have so much more style and finesse.

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

Friday, June 03, 2005

Taking the show on the road...


Getting there...


Tomorrow marks my grand dé but as a fibre artist in a public space or at least an Odd Ball imitation of one. I’m demonstrating needle felting at the Village of Gagetown fibre festival, Fibre Option 05, starting in the morning. Cast members so far for the fandangle is Liz, our dying maven; Barb, who organized the dog and pony show; Trish and Diane, both from the Singer store and master hand knitters, and your truly, who is scheduled to torture widdle bits of wool without provocation.

If there seems to be some interest in it, we’ll consider doing some workshops in the fall. I haven’t got my hopes held out for a huge turnout. First off, this is the premier run of the festival and we all know that the first year of anything is light on attendance. Secondly, the weather has been so darn crappy in this part of the world that this is literally going to be the first decent weekend we’ve seen for 6 weeks or more. I’m thinking a whole lot of backyard gardeners are going to be playing catch-up. Nevertheless, it’s a day out with the girls and I suspect we’ll have a riotous good time. And you just know it’s going to be blog fodder for the next month or more.

In the queue of things to do for the day include finishing my “Odd Ball” sign and getting it mounted, packing and more or less getting shite organized. Are we taking any bets on the success of that mission? No…don’t blame you in the least little bit.

In the meanwhile, I need to post this and get my arse up the hill to Fabricville and pick up some backing cloth for the sign and a few more errands.

Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading. Oh yeah, and don't forget your sunscreen...it's getting summer-ish out there.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Actually, I'm still working with wool...


The new thing

Egads, the weekend approaches and I’m almost to a full state of confusion over the needle felting. I’m going like a son of a gun on the needle felting and it’s a right proper…sorry Karin, it’s a total drag and you’d never want to even start it.

Okay, the technique has been improved. You don’t have to trace it onto the fabric with a pen. You can felt directly from the stencil. Yay…time saver and gets rid of all that pain in the arse of trying to get the lines on it.

I’m working on a secret squirrel project right now. I can’t divulge the details completely because it’s a sur-prise for the recipient and I suspect he occasionally reads this blog. But here’s a sneak peek at the start of it all.

On other fronts, I’m now the happy owner of yet more computer memory. It’s a gig…how much is a gig? It’s about $120 worth and hells bells, it wants to be making that damn computer work at something above the speed of molasses in January. The Odd Ball, she’s a-becoming frustrated and that would NOT be a good thing. Honest to Pete, I’ll be glad when this returns to being a knitting blog and stops being a technology blog. It’s becoming more retarded by the day, I think.

The Odd Ball IT Technical Support Division thinks he’s resolved the problem and that I should be all right with this latest upgrade. The problem was blah blah blah blah…snore….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..Next step, learning how to make buttons and all that jazz on this blog. It’ll happen. I’m incredibly stubborn (translation: too stupid to quit).

Trish, at Singers, thinks she’s got a line on a used knitting machine for me. Isn’t that grand that there is yet more technology for me to be overwhelmed by and become totally pissed off with. I'm sure the long suffering hubby will be grateful of the break. In the meanwhile, I’ve still got the burgundy shawl on the needles and I’ve got a good start on the lace edging for the mohair shawl. Updates coming in the near future but really, there isn’t much to show right now. It pretty much looks exactly like it did the last time, only bigger.

But right now, it’s nap time… long night shift and all. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.