Saturday, October 29, 2005

The OddBall Vacation

My latest two scarves

I’m still trying to grind my way through the DoneButs that have accumulated in every corner of the house. You’ll all be relieved to know that the Bird Flu scarf is now beaded and blocked. It’s still hideous.

It’s been bit of a strange week. On one hand, I’ve been dealing with an almost 10 year old who is going to go completely insane before her birthday on Tuesday. The girlfriend party is today, complete with treat bags etc. The family party is probably Wednesday. I can actually remember when birthdays were a one day event and NOT an week long festival. Man, where did the last decade go?

And then my dad brought over a big huge lot of my mother’s stuff. For those of you who aren’t regular readers, or are new to the ‘Blog, my mom Eileen died in April. I have stacks and stacks and stacks of just amazingly hideous yarns now. There is enough 1970s Phentex to open a museum exhibit, along with the requisite bags and bags of undone projects. I took the plunge and threw them all out before I got it into my head I could recycle the yarn or something.

There’s been some cool stuff as well. My mother’s weaving notes and her dye sample books. Those I’ll keep as a memory.

And Dale, my hairdresser, loved the mohair scarf I made to go with his black wool jacket. It’s the same yarn as here, except I did it in the knit 2 rows, purl 2 rows instead of lace.

I found another pile of my unfinished projects. I have another week’s vacation and I’m going to see about getting through at least some of those. But of course, we all need a ‘in front of the television’ project, so I’ve got two new scarves on the needles. One, I’m not so impressed with…that would be the black one. The other is going to be all right, I think. It’s the seafoam stitch which I’ve always hated because I’ve always done it in the WRONG yarn. Then I read to use mohair yarns for those elongated stitch patterns and it rather fills it in.

In any event, it’s time to rock and roll for the birthday party. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The OddBall goes to Sesame Street

Do Not Adjust Your Set

For those of you still labouring under the premise that I may still possibly be in my right mind, I offer the following as proof to the contrary. The last couple of days have been spent largely with me catching up on a month’s work of missing shut eye and cleaning up some of the crap that’s accumulated in the OddBall crib. After such labours as the Domestic Goddess, a girl really needs to sit down in front of the telly with a set of sticks and just knit something silly.

Apparently, I went to hell with the joke. I have no idea what this yarn is. I have three balls of it. It’s variegated eyelash something or other. It’s subtle like a brick in the head but it made me smile. I cast it on Tuesday night and knit a ball’s worth. I probably will do extra time in purgatory for not quitting while I was ahead but I figured I need another unfinished project about as much as I need a punch in the mouth and I persevered beyond all dictates of common sense or even good taste.

Last night, I finished the knitting and was holding it up at arm’s length, admiring it in the fullness of its garishness when the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division wandered by.

“That is the ugliest scarf I’ve ever seen in my life.” Nothing quite as heart-warming as fashion commentary from a man who still finds dressing himself a major life challenge.

I stood back and admired it again, under the greenish glare of the fluorescent lights in the kitchen. “You know, I happen to think it looks exactly like Big Bird with a dose of the chicken pox.”

Over the top and then some

So there you have it folks, the OddBall interpretation of the bird flu. And I ask, what’s a potential global pandemic without a few dangly bits? Exactly. So I spent the rest of the evening, plunked in front of the television, watching Dalziel and Pascoe on BBC Canada and beading the damn thing, like I was somehow in my right mind. Nothing like counting a zillion itty bitty seed beads while indulging in a little murder, psychopathic savagery and of course, suicide, to take the edge off the evening.

I rest content knowing that somewhere, some 10 year old is going to love it and think it’s the most beautiful thing going. My inside source in that demographic thinks it’s gorgeous.
Today, I’m going to see if I can’t redeem myself for having inflected this upon the unwitting world. Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Doing the DoneButs.

I know, I’ve been a bad ‘Blogger. Very bad blogger.
We’re back to the age old issue that its so much easier to write about knitting when you’re actually knitting. I have the next 10 days off from work and this chick is going to get some knitting done.

I’m on round two of the mohair scarf. The original version -- HOLD THE FREAKING PRESSES -- is all done. I mean DONE. Not 90% done. Not almost done. Not done except for …it’s DONE. Done to the fringes. Done to the ends darned in. Done blocking. Bloody done. Okay, the fringe needs trimming, but other than that, it’s done.

Mission 1 this week…getting the done but’s done. I’ve got 3 or 4 baby sweaters that are done but… and a half dozen Christmas stockings that are done but..

Mission 2: making a pair of socks on that knitting machine. It’s really bugging me that I can’t do what I want on that thing and I’m taking a steady run at it this week.

Mission 3: who are we kidding? I’ll do good to accomplish those two.

Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading. Updates on my current levels of frustration will be posted on a semi-regular basis.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

OddBall Vacation

Half the scarf

Well, the sock has pissed me off. It’s off the machine. Unfinished. Scheduled for demolition.

The dishcloth pissed me off and it’s off the machine. Unfinished. Scheduled for demolition.

The scarf pissed me off and it’s…are we detecting a trend here?

Two days ago, you could have bought that knitting machine for $1.98 and I would have thrown in free shipping and about a million miles of yarn. So, in order to calm my unsteady nerves, I did what I like best, sit on the couch and knit. I mean REAL knitting… I’m all anti-machine knitting this week. Two sticks and a ball of really nice mohair. You have to admit, there is something cosmically weird that I’m so stressed out from knitting that I need to knit to relax. Yeah, I know…try living in this body.

The up close and personal view

This is the same ‘pattern’ I made in the spring, basically 2 repetitions of Old Shale or Feather and Fan for those of you who prefer that label. This time I added the much needed selvage stitches. I’m liking it. It makes me happy.

Tomorrow, we try the damn machine again.

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

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Not exactly what you call progress...

The bug's eye view of the knitting machine and sock under construction

The knitting front is going more slowly than I might like. I’m trying to build me a sock. Good luck with that, OddBall. Honestly, if I was hand knitting, I’d have the damn thing done by now.

I know, I need to give myself a break. This is the first crack at circular knitting and it's only the second time I've used the ribber.

Big ol' box of goodies...because they were lonely and they made me take them home.

The Yarn Guy was in town. I bought yarn. Yeah, like I needed more freaking yarn. But this was coned yarn and in the light weights I can’t buy around here. I’m sure the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division (toting and hauling department) will reserve commentary for later.

Short post today, I’m going to go back and see if I can’t win on the sock front. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

OddBall, you need a 12 step programme...

Oh, yes, I need more yarn...

Last night was my first meeting with the Town & Country Machine Knitters Guild. It was good and I tied with a lady named Shirley for first place with my Show & Tell contributions. I brought in my baby sweaters, in spite of the fact that none of them had buttons on them and all have varying degrees of mistakes and ooopses on them.

I wanted to bring the Entrelac hat with me for Show Off and Tell but, once again, my ambition outstripped my production capacity by a factor of 3:1. Someday this will all be simple for me, I’m sure of it. In the meanwhile, I slog on at my snail‘s pace.

There’s a big knitting festival at the Fredericton Public Library, bottom of Carleton St, on Saturday, Oct 15, for all of you in the central New Brunswick region. There will be a table of sample goods, several lectures on the historical origins of knitting, both hand knitting and the machine variety. The display opens at 10 am and goes until 5 pm. All welcome, so please drop in.

I won’t be in attendance since I’m working nights both Friday and Saturday night and the 7.5 minutes I will be conscious between those two shifts will be spend at the Yarn Guy’s annual appearance in Fredericton. Annually, the Designer Weavers Guild brings in The Yarn Guy. I have no idea what his name is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it. He’s just the Yarn Guy. And in the tradition of the travelling peddler, his arrival is much anticipated because he brings all kinds of cool coned yarns with him. And he sells them. Unlike certain Liz peoples who just hoard the stuff in their cupboard and never let their bestest friend ever have the cone of copper stuff that has been coveted a full 12 months now.

I say this like I need more yarn. What I need is a psychiatrist. This is starting to look like some kind of disorder that probably needs Valium or something.

I have to work the next 4 days and I’m training a new staff member, so I’m going to assume that I’ll have no patience or capacity to knit until next set of days off.

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

Monday, October 10, 2005

Back with the hats

It's going to be a hat.

Well, now that my OddBall life has returned to half-assed normal, that is, half-assed is a normal state of existence around here, I’ve been able to get some knitting done.

Liz and child came over for Thanksgiving dinner. Beer was drank. Turkey was ate. I knit. Liz demonstrated her latest insanity, the Termari ball. What, pray tell, you ask is a Termari ball? It’s one of those typical Japanese art forms…you know, incredibly bloody complicated in its simplicity and completely useless but amazing beautiful. I haven’t the patience for any of it. I have, however, put my Christmas order in for one.

I, on the other hand, am sticking to the knitting for a while. At least until I get out from under the Stash. The above is my attempt at the Entrelac Hat that I learned how to do at the Machine Knitters Seminar last weekend. I thought I’d best practice some of these new skills and techniques pronto before I forget them all. The purple bits are waste yarn so don't get all excited. It's a very boring off-white and royal blue hat.

Short column -- I have things to do and people to totally piss off … yes, I’m working overtime. Good grief, does life get any better than getting paid double time for having fun? I’m thinking not.

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

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More Outrageous Make Believe...

An OddBall Corner of Life

I’ve come to the odd but inescapable conclusion that writing a knitting blog is considerably easier if one is actually knitting. I remember knitting. I used to do it on a regular basis. Perhaps my life shall change in that direction again and then I shall knit again.

In the absence of any knitting to talk about, let’s talk about my ‘not knitting’ life. I’m still in the process of organizing the studio space. This is what I’ve got so far. The machine and yarn barns in one corner and a wool winding area in the other corner. Not exactly General Motors, eh?

The wool winding section

The stash isn’t even out of the basement yet. This stuff is never going to get knit up because when I finally see it all in one place, I’m going to have a coronary.

Okay…update on the things I haven’t knit:

The purple silk shawl…nothing done there yet. Started an border pattern, hated it, ripped it out. I'm technically waiting for an answer from the foundation I'm knitting it for on some little tidbit of trivia but that's just an excuse to cover up for the fact I'm more or less lazy about drafting. {Editorial Note: And damn that Deidre Moynihan, Executive Director of the Tyler Hamilton Foundation for getting back to me with that information in about 2 minutes flat, thereby completely mucking up what had been a really good excuse for being a lazy arse...Guess what I'm doing tonight?}

The Faux Russian Stole… haven’t touched it. I'm still three repeats in with another two to go.

The Machine Knit baby sweater…got all the arms on it (and in the right places, I might add, you lot of smart arses), collar on, one front band done, the other awaits my set of days off because it’s nap time. I’m working tonight and tomorrow night. Good grief, did I really start that August the 29th? And this is what? Oct 6th? I so need to get off my arse, NOW.

All you Canucks out there…Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve got some of it off but am working a fair amount of overtime this weekend. Let’s all bow our heads and give thanks for the blessing known as Double Time. You just know it means more yarn.

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

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nothing exciting -- it's a blocking board

Another task checked DONE

I’ve been on a right proper tear the last couple of days. I was so frustrated by the last two weeks of not being able to knit, not doing anything to further my goals, that I really have this cache of pent up energy.

Monday, I dyed rovings for needle felting. The Liz and I made a pilgrimage to Briggs & Little and between the two of us, dragged home some 5 pounds of fleece to dye, which reminds me, it’s all in one bag and I need to take Liz’s pound over to her.

Today’s project was the undone blocking board. For years, I’m telling you, years, I’ve been threatening to build myself a board to block things on. And every time, it’s the ironing board or the bed or … blah blah. About two months ago, I reared up on my haunches and decided I was making myself one, right there and then. I got the board. I even covered it with the polyester batting. And there it sat, at the end of the hall, behind the coat rack, very much unfinished. All it needed was for me to put the white flannel cover on it. I even had the damn flannel. The official excuse is that I didn’t have a staple gun to do the job right. The real reason, I got sidetracked on something else.

In any event, the massive studio cleaning push has brought some of these half finished projects to the forefront. I have at least a half a dozen things that need just a bit of work on to complete. That’s the mission for October -- get things in gear and finished.

Caveat: if the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division gets all beaky about a certain unfinished sweater, I’m going on strike.

In any event, it’s time to rinse tonight’s offerings to the yarn gods and head to bed. Tomorrow is another long working day for this OddBall girl.

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

Monday, October 03, 2005

Machine Knitting Wrap Up

Entrelac hat

I’m here to say that the Maritime Machine Knitters Annual Seminar was a great experience. My head is still swirling from all the information I took in and most of it, I’m sure, I will never use.

It was also nice to meet some other knitters, some of whom are like me, and rank beginners at it. And always helpful to pick Barb Telford’s brain. I love talking with Barb because she really has a sensible handle on the BUSINESS end of craft.

I was lucky enough to been seated at the lunch table with Mary and Graham Avery, the couple who had travelled from New Zealand, and Tina Doiron, a Fredericton machine knitter. The Avery's are a wonderful, charming couple who have done a lot of knitting. Friday night, Graham had said that last year he knit 6000 (no, not a misprint - that is six thousand) scarfs for the Japanese market out of hand dyed New Zealand wool. Of course, Tina and I took the opportunity of lunch to grill him on his production techniques. He has two machines set up, with electric motors, and just keeps cranking. His explanation was he's a retired dairy farmer and after a lifetime of milking cows, he's learned to think of other things while he's doing boring tasks. That's when Mary stepped into the conversation and let the cat out of the bag. Apparently, there's a picture of Graham in his 'knitting room", both machines turning out the scarfs and Grandpa Graham and a little one having a wee snooze.

Tina and I made arrangements to be room mates at next year’s seminar in Prince Edward Island. Hopefully, by then, I will have mastered how to use the ribber.

The instructor for all of Saturday’s sessions was Audrey Wagenaar from Kenora, Ontario. She was such an inspiration. One of the really neat things, in the pile of a zillion neat things, was doing Entrelac on the machine. It’s time consuming, although it’s time consuming on the 2 needle version as well. There’s one of her hats in the photos above. She showed some really beautiful pieces that she has done that are so fantastic. I wish I had more pictures of her work to show you all. She did a silk suit that was just out of this world.

There were door prizes galore. Your OddBall won two pattern books and a Timeposter perpetual write-on calendar. Do you think maybe the conference organizers know how badly I need to get organized?

Mary Avery and the booty

Mary Avery, who claims she NEVER wins ANYTHING, won the ‘Early Bird” draw on Friday. Then, when the door prizes rolled around, she won the two highy coveted skeins of hand-dyed yard Barb Telford had donated. Apparently, her luck is a whole lot better north of the equator. Thank goodness we’re shipping the two of them back to New Zealand on Tuesday while there’s still some goodies left here in Canada.

And really, if you didn’t do like I told you last column, and check out some of the incredible knitting they’re doing in New Zealand, take a second and click here. It ain’t no Granny Grunt Frump down there.

I need to go finish whipping the ‘studio space’ into shape. It’s about 90% organized and I’m getting very impatient about this last two weeks of being kept from my mad passion of knitting. Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Machine Knitting in the Maritimes

Maritime Machine Knitters

Well, today is the full day session of the Maritime Machine Knitters Annual seminar, workshop and chat fest. I was there last night for the opening sessions and it was a blast.

There are machine knitters from all over and I mean ALL OVER. Obviously, the Maritime provinces, NB, NS, PEI, are represented and we have visitors from the New England states and Ontario. The roster goes even farther afield. Graham and Mary Avery from New Zealand were there and gave us a nice chat on machine knitting way south. They do a lot of knitting for the Japanese market. They also talked about how their area knitting clubs are helping grow the local interest in machine knitting. For some superb photos of knitwear, check out the New Zealand Machine Knitters Society web page. The pictures from their 2005 Taumarunui Festival are wild!

I had a great chat with Barb Telford from Woodsmoke Farms. She won the shawl division of the knit competition. I really need to get down there and learn some more from this woman. She teaches me more in a 15 minute conversation than I get from reading a dozen books.

In any event, the kick off for this morning’s seminars is 8:30, so I need to shake a leg. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.