Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Excuse de jour

Morning all....the official excuse for not having written the Blog is I'm painting the kidling's room. 9.5 x 9.5 room shouldn't take 2 solid days to paint but at this point, the shoulders are a little stiff. Our Miss Liz might be getting all buff but I'm still the lard arse I've always been.

In any event, it's time to leverage my arse, lard or otherwise, out of this chair and get to work.

Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thank God that's over!

Another baby sweater

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I know. I’m late. I’m about 2 days late with the ‘Blog but some time ago, I got hit on the head by a piece of falling space debris just as one of my co-workers asked me to switch my day shifts for her night shifts. Apparently, the last words I gasped as they loaded me into the ambulance was “What the hell?” and this was taken as agreement to aforementioned shift change.

Once the concussion had subsided and about two weeks way past too late to change my mind, the awful truth of a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night shift, in August sunk in. What’s the probability of getting any knitting done in that mess? Not so good, I’m telling you for nothing.

Hello, I’ve got 15 years on the job. You would really think I’d be smarter. But, it’s over. In about another 10 years, I will have recovered from this spot of foolishness.

I did manage to retain last week’s hard earned knowledge on knitting machines. Today, I managed to do the front of the little blue sweater and the sleeve in under 45 minutes. Now, I’m starting to pull it together.

The Silk Shawl

I haven’t abandoned hand knitting. This is the purple silk shawl I’m working on. By my calculations, it’s about 4 feet in diameter right now. I want to add about another 8 inches, maybe 9 and then there’s an 8 inch border going around it and a second smaller border.

Anyway, I’m tired. It’s nap time. Later everyone.

Close up of the centre of the shawl

By the way, all of you put your heads together and come up with a really groovy way to block a 6’ diameter circular silk shawl? Quick calculation the other night, it’s going to have a circumference in excess of 18’. Now that’s a blocking project.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Having a hat attack

It's a hat half

The Fairisle Band up close

Take a close look at the half a hat above. Just take a wild guess what was the difficult part? Was it the plain blue bands top and bottom or was the drive you to drink part the fancy-schmancy bibbly bit in the middle?

You’d be wrong, all you bibbly bit voters. That was the simple, straightforward part. This is the hat of three new OddBall skills. Skill one was setting up and deploying the ribber without the use of small arms fire. Skill two was learning to use the garter bar to manipulating stitches off and on the needle bed. Skill three was the blue and white pretty stuff.

The schematics of the whole thing sounded pretty straightforward. Rib 13 rows, increase the needle count by 18 and blah, blah. The whole thing should have been called Operation Rib. First, was hauling out and doing the species identification on the tickle trunk of machine accessories, 90% of which I still have no earthly idea what they’re for. Right, I know, reading the manual would be such a good thing -- more on that later.

Now, previously I had mentioned that machine knitting was the perfect hobby for the woman who had everything, including three arms. I did not know of what I speak at the time. I do now. Machine knitting is the perfect hobby for the woman who has three arms and a prehensile tongue. I did manage to get the ribbing cracked off after about five false starts. Actually, once you’ve got the cast on comb weight put together on the item, it’s not so bad. I ended up ribbing 17 rows because by this time I was feeling reckless and to hell with the instructions.

Next step, transfer the stitches to the garter bar, add 9 needles to the each end of the needle bed and rehang the knitting…approximately every fifth needle will be empty. What they didn’t say is start in the middle and work your way to both ends. I, of course, started at the right and worked my way left. About two inches from the end, I ran out of manipulation room. Yes, the ribbing is stretchy and probably would have way more give to it if it wasn't attached to this metal comb, which does tend to stiffen things up. However, by the liberal application of brute force and the consumption of three cans of Alexander Keith’s Very Finest India Pale Ale later, I was ready to knit. Just set up the Fairisle patterning bit and I’ll be off. Instructions for setting up the Fairisle patterning bit would be in the machine manual which is right….hmmmmm, where did I put that thing?

That was Tuesday night.

Mid-Wednesday morning, afterI’d completely torn asunder three quarters of the house and actually did some housework (yes, things were that desperate), I located said manual. It was located right where I didn’t put it…under the refrigerator. The OddBall IT and Technical Support Division has developed some strange hiding places over the years but hat’s off to them…they outdid themselves this time. All I can surmise is that it had fallen to the floor and someone had kicked it under there by accident. In any event, the coils on the back of the refrigerator have been vacuumed. That job's looked after for the decade.

The Fairisle bit all happened inside 10 minutes. 40 rows of that isn’t much. Then it was back with the garter bar bit….which I’ve almost got the hang of. It’s all in how you hold your tongue and don’t breathe.

In any event, there’s half a hat. I’ll get the other half done as soon as I gather up the courage to repeat this ordeal. At some point, this is going to get easier. I know it is. In the meanwhile, I’ve nearly got that baby sweater trick licked, so I think I’ll go have at it.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mondays happen

It looks so bloody innocent.

Alas, another baby sweater. I was pretty damn proud of myself actually. I started it Sunday night and did the back and one front and jointed those two with a sleeve. The sleeve was all hemmed. It looked so very, very pretty. I cast on the hem for the second front. It was late in the evening and being a good girl, I went to bed, utterly unsuspecting of what lay in wait for me the very next day.

Monday. Not just a Monday. A Monday morning.

Being a shift worker for the past 20-some years, days of the week mean nothing to me. It’s either my first or second dayshift, my first or second night shift, or it’s Day 1, 2, 3 or 4 off. What’s with this naming the days of the week, and when did that start up anyway?

In any event, regardless of the fact that days do not have cute little mythological derived names in the Odd Ball Universe, Monday as a force of chaos and confusion still exists. One cup of coffee and I sat down to the knitting machine and in about 3 minutes, did about 40 some rows of the sweater front and I ran out of yarn. As I was swapping to the new ball, I noticed I had knit the front with the wrong tension. Silly me. It was supposed to be tension setting 8, last thing I had done the night before was the hem which requires tension 10. Ce n'est pas un problème. Zip Zip Zip…it was ripped out back to the hem and re-hung when what I should have done was doused the entire thing in kerosene, struck a match and walked away.

I fixed that minor snafu, re-knit the front and added the back piece, so I could knit the second sleeve. It’s not yet 10 am and damn, things are going just great. I might get something accomplished today.

On this particular sweater, without getting into the gruesome machine knitting details, there’s a fair amount of partial row knitting. Instead of casting off the edges of the raglan sleeve inset on the body parts, needles are just left in a hold position and picked up to knit the sleeve in. The problem arises when you returning to those stitches, it’s pretty easy to let one or say….five….drop off the needles. Of course, they were at the end I wasn’t working on and I didn’t notice until it was way too late in the game. The tension weights on the knitting made a bloody mess of it and when I pulled it away from the machine, I couldn’t figure out what the hell had happened. And herein lies the problem, I really haven’t figured out exactly what’s happening when I put these needles into the ‘hold’ position, how the yarn is wrapped, etc. Consequently, fixing it was a ‘not happening’ deal.

Not that I didn’t try. I spend about 2 ½ hours trying to ‘fix it’ and I just knew that my ‘fix’ would be about as obvious as an elephant track through a lemon meringue pie.

I stared at it.

I glared at it.

I spoke very, very, very sternly to it. I even snuck out for a few minutes to give the Knitting Fixing Fairies a chance to work, but apparently, that slack-arsed lot belong to the same union as the Dish Washing Fairies and the Vacuum Running Fairies .

The sweater remained, very stubbornly, not fixed.

In the end, and what I should have done about four hours earlier and saved myself all this aggravation, was rip the entire thing out and start again. And let’s not take this any farther than saying that the next time I start one of these mega demolition projects, I’m doing in front of the ball winder and wind the yarn as it comes off instead of spending a month of Sundays trying to sort that mess out.

So that was my Monday. How was yours? Apparently, Monday happened on the south side of the river as well, and wasn’t just confined to the Marysville area. Check out Joe Poet’s account of how he and our gal, Liz, spend Monday building furniture. They didn’t stop until it was well into Tuesday and apparently, it might be Wednesday before things have recovered.

Today, I learn how to frig things up using the ribber, because one bed of way too many needles is not sufficiently frustrating for this OddBall. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

PS: If the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division reads this before he gets home from his real job, we're out of duct tape.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Odd Ball Musings...

BSFH...almost done

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done. I feel like that scene in the Wizard of Oz and I should be dancing around my knitting machine, chanting “The Witch is dead; the Witch is dead”.

The official Baby Sweater From Hell ™ has finally come off the knitting machine. There are a few details, like the side seams being done and a button sewn on but it’s done. Okay, I have a spare left front but don’t we all need a few spare parts around the house. According to my finely honed calcuations, it should spontaneously burst into flames at any moment.

Four Christmas socks

Also, completed, sewn, washed, blocked and ready for embellishment are four Christmas stockings. They need some do-dadding but overall, it’s pretty much a tick in the win column. I've worked the technical bugs out of the pattern and am ready to hit production mode with them. It's going to work out.

The wrap up here is that in the past two week I have knit two baby sweaters and four extra large Christmas stockings. Burning question: why do I feel so damn unproductive these days?

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Hint: it’s right there. That’s the ‘to-do’ pile and it’s eating at me. I work and work and work and the stash gets bigger. I so need to get cracking on the knitting machine and whittle that down to something a little more manageable.

Diana, you S.E.X. fiend, get away from me…I was doing so well until YOU went and started up with the stash busting BS. You unbalanced the universe and now we all have to pay.

And phhhhhhhhhhhfffffffffffffffffffffftt…to the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division for the smart ass comment about how the new freezer in the kitchen makes for a simply divine yarn storage container.

Well, it's time to go tackle that 'to-do pile'. Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hurray for the OddBall


Wow, I’ve got a serious case of YES DAMMIT’s going on …Yes, dammit, the sweater is finished and YES DAMMIT, it’s delivered and YES DAMMIT, I never have to look at it again.

Okay, now I’m happy with it. Even stitched together, I wasn’t overly crazy about it but once it was blocked, it was a different sweater all together. Now I like it. Joan likes it and with luck, the darling little rosebud will like it too.

The Official Baby Sweater from Hell is back on the machine. I’ve managed to knit, re-knit, or re-hang all the requisite parts. Liz’s doubts to the contrary, I know for a fact that the evil knitting fairies are the ones who un-knit one of the sweater fronts and re-knit it so I’d end up with 2 the same. There is no way I could have possible screwed that one up. I mean, even drunk, I still know my lefts from my rights.



Today, the task is to get the collar and front bands done, without getting bloody plastered because I have to work tonight and they so have a thing about me showing up there in a sober state.

Speaking of liquor…gin season is over. It was 3 degrees at 5 am. That’s 37 degrees for those of you who don’t speak metric. Fall’s in the air. Time to switch to single malt.

New toy -- the garter bar

And just like I needed another toy but I went and bought a garter bar for the knitting machine. As fun as it’s been using waste yarn and re-hanging stitches 927 times for every project, I thought I’d venture out into the technology bit. For those of you hand-knitters out there, one of the completely wierd things to get over with a knitting machine is there is no 'purl' row. The most basic of all knitting stitch patterns, the garter stitch (Knit every row for those of you still hungover) is a freaking ordeal on a knitting machine. You have to knit the row...take all the stitches off, turn the work around, hang all the stitches back on the needles and knit a row...all the stitches off....You all see where the amusing part of this would quickly expire. Hence, some genius invented the 'garter bar' which is a gizmo so you can take all the stitches off in basically one movement, turn the work around and rehang with another step. Having had a knitting machine all of a month, I'm thinking it should have been nominated for a Nobel Prize.

There are instructions on the internet for making them out of bobby pins and rulers. That’s probably great for someone who has seen one before and knows how to use one. Me, I need the instruction book and something that’s a little more precise than do it yourself. Next one, I’ll make.

In any event, that collar for the Baby Sweater from Hell has not hung itself, so I’m off to do the productive thing. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Again with the sweater

Almost done

Well, finally we have a sweater that is wearable by a human baby. This has been what....three tries later? For the most part, I like it although there are a couple of details that I'm not overly happy with.

The picot edging

I've decided that machine knitting is the perfect activity for the woman who has everything, including three arms and stainless steel molars. Good grief, this has been frustrating but I'm sure it is coming together.

The Baby Sweater from Hell

Ohhhhhhhhhhh, this son of a Bleep bleep. Somewhere, somehow in its misadventures, it managed to unknit the left front and recast itself on as a right front because I sure as hell didn't knit two right fronts......

I'm going to be 85 and still working on this freaking sweater. Do I quit? Oh, hell no, that would be smart...and so not the OddBall way.

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

Monday, August 15, 2005

Gosh, golly gee whiz and Darn...the OddBall loses it.

Yet another attempt at the Baby Sweater from Hell

I’d love to sit here, with a straight face and all, and tell you that the Mark III version on the BWFH came as a result of a quality control check and that after having knit 90% of the freaking thing, I had decided it wasn’t exactly up to OddBall standards and I decided to re-knit the entire sweater in a looser gauge.

But, alas, in a fit of insanity, I blurted the truth out to Liz yesterday on the phone. And the truth of the matters is that I, uhhhhhhhhhh, errrrrrrrrrrr, I lost it. I mean the sweater as opposed to my mind. And the only reason I’m even telling you all this is because Liz would bloody rat me out anyway.

It was in my knitting bag. I took it to work. I put it back in the bag. It is now decidedly not in the bag. It is not at home. It is not at work and it’s not in the car. The best I can figure is that when I was at the grocery store the other day, it decided it couldn’t take anymore and unlocked the car and threw itself under a passing transport truck in the only recorded case of sweater-cide in modern history. I understand from historical sources that the last case of sweater-cide was in 1451, in the south of France.

Has this detered me any? Ohhhhhhh, mais non, mes amis, au contraire…I’m back at it, because if it wasn’t for the Baby Sweater From Hell, what else would I have to curse at? I’d have to yell at the kid or something. Or, perish the bloody thought, have a peaceful and relaxing and dare I say, productive day at the Knittery and you all know that would just be totally WRONG on every level.

Talk at you’se all laters; I’m off to the bloody yarn shop because, of course, and you knew it was going down this way, the ball of yarn I grabbed to start the third version of the sweater is NOT enough to do it completely. Did I notice before I had it 2/3s done? Of course not. Why? Because I’m an idiot. That's why. That and when was the last freaking time I bought one ball of yarn? I mean, it's an understandable error.

And the first person to say the word 'dye lot' is so cut off from the OddBall liquor cabinet. That includes you, Liz.

Sigh…thanks for reading. I’ll post pictures of the BSFH this afternoon. I would now but the computer is busy backing up the photo files to CD. Thought I ought to get that little detail looked after, considering how my week has gone otherwise.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Introducing the Fabulous Feldmanns

I'm taking a couple of days' reprieve from the ever-loving freaking sweatshop I've got running in my kitchen. We're currently, and very happily, hosting the Fabulous Feldmann Family, from Penticton, BC. We "met" them on line through the bicycle touring website, Crazy Guys a couple of years ago and have kept up a correspondence off and on since.

This April, the Feldmanns sold the house, had the mother of all garage sales and with their 2 kids, Tristan and Stefan, geared up to bike -- as in a bicycle -- across Canada. Currently, they're bunking down at the Knittery, hopefully for a couple of days. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any time off to visit with them but we've had a few laughs already around the dinner table. It's been so good to meet them in person and I'm here to tell you, I don't think I've ever met a couple of nicer kids than those 2 boys.

If you are looking for a excellent read, check out their touring journal. It's informative and it's fun.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The anatomically correct baby sweater

The sweater, at last

Finally, with great nashing of teeth, I managed to get the sweater back, front, sleeve all oriented correctly and knit on. This may come together before said baby gets her driver's license.

Very happy stick people

Speaking of anatomically correct, check out Carol Taylor's stick people. She was the potter we visited in Rothesay the other day. How come we just had to hoist a drink to Diana, the Dysfunktional Knitter when we sat down at the pub for a cool one with lunch? Hmmmmmmm, probably because Diana is the hands-down winner for the raciest knitting blog ever.

Anyways, it's back to work tonight. Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oh, here's a larf....

A couple of days ago, the Knittery got invaded by spammers on the comments sections. I was a bit confused...I mean who the hell spams a knitting blog. That has to be the last word in bloody desperate. In any event, I erased the dumb ass comments and changed the settings so there couldn't be any more anonymous comments, for a while anyway.

It turns out that the OddBall Knittery Blog was classified by the GoStats hit counter in the Culture and Relationships category. I was ranked at #38 out of 354. We were behind KamaSutra positions and HHot Teen Blondes but I'm pleased to see we outpaced the CrossDressing Christians blog. I've re-listed the Odd Ball Knittery into Arts and Cultures category and we'll see how that all works out.

Liz and I had a good day out yesterday. We travelled to Saint John and picked up a fume hood for her new studio. I'm still trying to reinvent the proportions of the human body. This morning, in between bouts of asthma -- bless this weather -- I took another stab at knitting the sleeve on the baby sweater. It was a bit of a nightmare because once again, I got it arsed it up. This time, instead of attaching the sleeve to the back of the neck, I inserted it so that the collar portion of the sleeve came out at the arm pit of the sweater.

I've managed to get it all torn apart, again. And sometime this week, I'll manage to get it rehung on the knitting machine for another, and hopefully, final run at the sleeves.

In any event, I'm still laughing, so I guess that's a good thing. Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A technical note.

Sorry folks, I had to change the settings on the comments board because some anti-social spamming filth invaded. Hope you end up with crabs, jack-ass.

Houston, we have a problem....

Sometimes, anatomy IS destiny

Well, I spend all afternoon chained to the knitting machine, muttering mostly to myself but occasional breaking into a stream of epithets at the poor fool who had the effrontery to disturb me. It’s not been pretty and for the most part, not safe to irritate me in any way, shape or form.

I was doing pretty good. I managed after just a few go ‘rounds to make both the left and the right front. Getting the armhole decreases and the neck hole decreases on the corresponding correct sides took a minute or two but after a few valiant attempts, a bit of ripping and the odd mutter, it all came together. Now, on this pattern, you pick up stitches from either side of the raglan and knit the sleeve directly on, knitting from shoulder to cuff.

It’s all pretty simple, really, which beggars the imagination as to how in hell I managed to soooooooo f*** it up. I had the right sleeve all done and was sitting back, admiring my efforts when it suddenly dawned on Kate, the DumbAss Knitter that I had attached one side of the sleeve not to the shoulder portion of the sweater back but to the back of the neck.

Now Barb Telford of Woodsmoke Farms and Woolworks claims there is only so many ways you can knit a sweater but apparently, I’ve spend the best part of the last two days proving her wrong. I’ve never seen Joan’s little grand-niece, and by all reports, she’s physically normal in all respects and does not have an arm growing from the nape of her neck.

It’s back to the knitting machine. Thank God I bought more than one ball of yarn. Hmmmm, wonder how I can massage this one to blame Diana? In any event, this stuff is getting relegated to the recycle bin.

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

Odd Ball Frustration

Baby sweater back

For those of you who may have thought I was dead, given the lack of 'Blog updates, alas I am not. I've been chained to a knitting machine instead. Death is starting to look like a reasonable option but I digress.

Quick...somebody, any body, please remind me that in truth, machine knitting is actually faster than hand knitting. It's even faster at my glacial pace. Actually, I may hold the new world's record in most errors made in an hour in the single contestant category.

This is going to be a baby sweater for my supervisor and dear friend's new grand-niece. This assumes I'll have it knit before the little one gets her driver's license.

For the record, this is not my idea of relaxing. I'm finding it very stressful -- I suspect I'm finding it tooth grinding stressful. I know, I know... If I keep at it, eventually it's all going to come together.

Actually, I think I'm ready for it to come together now.

In any event, I promise to write more later but right now, I really need some sleep. Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Stash enhancement of the worst kind

Okay, what exactly am I going to do with the 8.7 billion meters of yarn mixed in with the several pounds of cotton yarns on cones. Apparently, I've inherited my mother's stash to go along with my own ton of stuff. We filled my little Honda to the gunnels and there are still about 8 boxes left to go. This OddBall really needs to get knitting. Thank God for the knitting machines which can make short work of anything. Even if these yarns aren't something I would buy (several unidentified species of 70s 'wonder miracle fibres' are in the mix), it's still good for practice and goodness knows, I need the practice.

It was an unexpected moment. My sister was up from Halifax and had started cleaning out a downstairs closet because her oldest son, James, is coming to live with my father when he starts university in September. Once the first closet was started, there was nothing like keeping with the job. It was a hard moment and the dust didn't do a lot for my asthma.

In keeping with the theme, last night was an exercise in grumbling. I'd knit up a Christmas sock from one of the yarns I'd dyed earlier this weekend. And I'm still working on a method that will finish it 'nicely'...I'm not completely happy with the finished product so far but I digress...When I went to wash it and block it, the colour ran. Dummy here forgot to do a final rinse of the yarn after dyeing. Grumble Grumble. Of course, I had already wound it all into balls because, oh I'm efficient if nothing else. Back to the skien winder and unwind all the balls back into skiens and wash them. Not a drop of dye came out of them. Not even out of the You're Not Bloody Kidding Red yarn. Grumble Grumble. Screw it -- I soaked them all in cold salt water anyway. I'll reball them tonight.

Of course, in the process of going from ball back to skein, one skein exploded and I had string everywhere. Grumble Grumble. At which time I decided it was time for me to go to bed. It had been an exceedingly long day.