Thursday, March 30, 2006

An OddBall Easter Egg Hunt

Some Odd little Easter Eggs

The front door at the OddBall crib is looking distinctly...well, Valentine'ish and it is, by my reckoning, well past Valentine's Day. I've got the Tyler Hamilton Foundation shawl under semi-control, at least until my days off and well, things just need a little sprucing up.

All signs that spring has sprung are here. The days are getting longer. I'm not going to work and from work in the dark. The OddBall IT and Technical Support Division is commuting to work on his bike. And there's barely a blade of grass left unburnt on the northside of Fredericton.

Needing something to keep me occupied and awake on these long night shifts, in between dispatching crews to YET ANOTHER BLOODY grass fire, I took up crocheting Easter eggs and/or cat toys.

Supposed to look like this when done

Not rocket science. Not design genius but fits in my purse and is not a lifetime commitment. Unlike some shawls I could mention.

Well, it's time to get ready for worky-worky again. Last night shift...oh yes! Talk at you'se laters; thanks for reading.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Done Knitting

Not done to the DoneButs but off the needles. Still needs a few ends wove in, blocked, beaded and blocked.

But I'm done with the damn knitting.

Yeeeeeee- haw.

Talk at you'se all laters because it's bed time; thanks for reading. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Off the needles...

The silk shawl is off the needles before the OddBall is off her rocker! And the peasants rejoiced.

I'm only one month behind schedule which is some sort of land-speed record for me. Pictures tomorrow when I get home from work.

Talk at you all laters; thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Something's being accomplished here

Lots of colours

In a frenzy of semi-productivity, Ditto and I tackled some fluff dying yesterday and it turned out well. She’s pretty good at coming up with colour ideas and we had fun. And for the record, she’s not the one who ended up with the red-violet streak up her left arm to near the elbow. Sheeeesh.

Don’t ask me about the pink. It’s Serendipink. When I emptied all the steamed packages of fluff, there was so leftover dye that I dumped into the dye kettle. When I was cleaning up, I looked and thought “Oh, what the hell?” and chucked in a skein of B&L and some fluff. It’s the prettiest shade of pink ever and I have absolutely no idea of how to recreate it.

Like you were expecting this to be some kind of professional outfit or what?

Ditto learns the dyer's trade

I had to laugh at Oneida. The other day when I was packaging fluff to take to Singer’s, it was the huge whine fest when I asked her to help me out. So I did the packaging that night and in the morning before I delivered it to Trish. Then I dropped the bomb shell on her -- I got paid for my work and had she contributed some of the labour, I would have paid her some of the money as well. She was totally put out that she missed the chance for some moolah. Ha-ha-ha. Momma gets the last laugh. Again.

Today she’s off the NB Scots Dance Elite Dance camp and when I dropped her off, she was too grown up and cool to kiss me goodbye. Sigh…where did the time go?

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

Thursday, March 23, 2006

This month's utterly shameless plug

Come have fun on Tartan Day

The world's most successful quasi-professional ethic group, namely the Scots, are at it again. Tartan Day it is, on April 8. Celebrations in Fredericton will be held (for those of you without the visual acuity to read the itty bitty print are as follows:

2nd Annual Celtic Gala: A Tartan Day Celebration

Saturday, April 8

reception and dinner at the Fredericton Inn, 1315 Regent St - reception at 6 pm; dinner at 7.

Featuring: Celtic entertainment, Live & Silent Auction and the launch of the 25th Annual New Brunswick Highland Games and Scottish festival.

To reserve your tickets call 457-0148. Tickets are $60/person with $30 tax receipt available upon request.

Success is spelled with a capital $

All the pretty colours

So, you might ask, what’s been new on the OddBall front? It turns out, a fair bit. I’ve made my leap to the big leagues. First, my concert photo from the Great Big Sea concert made it to the Great Big Website. Oneida is pretty thrilled by it. Actually, it’s the second time I’ve had a photo published. Last year, the posters for the Fredericton Craft Festival had one of my pics as a centre shot.

Second point of yahooed-ness is that Trish at the Singer Store on York St, Fredericton is now carrying my hand dyed needle felting fluff for the Fredericton area. Nothing like the cha-chinga-ching of cold hard cash hitting the arse pocket of the jeans to validate one’s sense of being an artist.

Now at Singer Fredericton

I’m reminded of Stephen King’s wise words about professional art and artisans. He was being interviewed about what makes a person a “real writer” and he said, in effect, that if someone wrote you a cheque for the words you wrote and you cashed that cheque and paid the light bill with the proceeds, you were a professional writer.

I paid Oneida’s dental bill.

In any event, I have a couple of hours left before Oneida gets home from school and with any luck at all, I will manage to finish the knitting on that shawl for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Great Big Really Good Time

Bob Hallett, Great Big Sea

It was Christmas time revisited at the OddBall Crib. Tonight was the date for the Great Big Sea concert that the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division had bought tickets for my Christmas present. It was worth the wait, worth the money, worth it all.

If you've never seen GBS live, do so. Here's the link to their webpage so you've got NO excuses for not cluing into their concert schedule.

If you've never heard their music, you ought correct that shortcoming on your part.

I don't know if they 'translate' as well in other locales, but here in their back yard of the Maritimes, they had the place a-rocking. The entire audience from 8 to 80 years old were singing, clapping and more or less having a grand time. The first set was their traditional Newfoundland folk music (with the usual GBS twist) taken largely from their new album The Hard & the Easy. At the risk of being repetitious, it's well worth the money to buy the album. Don't let the 'folk', 'traditional', 'Newfoundland' labels put you off. If you like music, you will like this band.

The second set was just Great Big Sea at maximum energy.

Honest. I wouldn't lie to you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hey, would you look at that??!!

The home stretch

Do you see that? Eh? Eh? You know what that is? Huh?

I’ll tell you what that is…that’s me within 15 inches, 38 cms of the finish line on the shawl border. That’s getting to the ‘doable stage’. I’m almost there but too tired to continue tonight.
But yahoo, it can be measured!

Talk at you’se all later when I regain consciousness. It's nappy-jammy time. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

An OddBall Blogiversary

A Year in the Life of an OddBall

I don’t rightly recall what possessed me to start this Blog. Perhaps it was the success of my online bike journal at which turned out to be a hit in my life. There's been over 43 000 hits on that journal and I still get email about it. I started this blog mostly as a place to organize my thoughts and a year later, I’m still surprised to find I’ve got regular readers in Australia, Europe and all over the United States and Canada. I know I was immensely surprised to find out that someone other than family members read it. Not bad for a hick from the sticks in Maritime Canada.

It’s been an eventful year all in all. I’m still 40 something, another year older but none the wiser. I’m still lard-arsed and bucket-mouthed. Some things in the universe are a consistency -- me being overweight and mouthy are two things you can count on.

But a lot has changed in 12 short months as well. The biggest was the death of my mother, Eileen MacKay, in April. After a decade of suffering with the effects of Parkinson’s, her death was a relief at the time. A year later, I think as a family, we’re just starting to mourn. I miss her a lot.

Liz is still the Bestest Friend Ever but a lot has changed in her life as well. She’s left her job as the curator at the York Sunbury Museum, resigned as President of the New Brunswick Craft Council and gone back to university full time. We still hang out a lot but our respective schedules sometimes work against us.

Jackie's joined the Blogging ranks with her One Thread, Two Thread. It's lead to some moments of confusion. One day, I walked into Liz's kitchen and met a friend of her whom I'd heard a lot about over the past year but had never actually met in person. Liz made the introductions and Amy said "So are you One Thread Two Thread? "

"No, I'm Oddball". And the wierd part is that it seemed so utterly normal that I didn't even stutter at it until I got back in the car. The blogs have taken on a life of their own out there in the wild world of cyberspace.

The Blog forced me into going hi-tech here at the OddBall crib. A digital camera, new computer, new computer desk and scanner were all purchased to support this 'free' Blog. Why I hadn't bought them before, I have no idea. The camera? I use it all the time. I can't believe I resisted that one for so long. The OddBall IT and Technical Support Division believes he has survived the year relatively unscathed. His sweater that I started two years ago still isn't finished. If I actually finished it, he'd have no fodder for his complaints, now would he? I'm only looking out for his mental health.

What else has this year brought? I bought not one but two knitting machines, neither one of which I can use properly. I’m eventually going to get there although I still find the process very daunting and I find much of what is designed for machine knitting to be very poorly designed. I’ve got a magazine subscription (why I signed up is beyond me) that just showcases really bad designs that are ill fitted. Why is there this misconception that machine knitting HAS TO BE crappy knitting? There’s absolutely no need for it. Although, I find a lot of the British patterns are nicely executed. Maybe it's just my prejudices but just because you can do it quickly on a machine doesn't mean you have to do it poorly. If nothing else, the machine is an opportunity to do it better because you're not stuck with those hours and hours and hours of just making endless yardage.

Of late, my entire knitting universe has been about hand knitting. Let’s face it, machines are none too portable and I'm always going to need at least one handknitting project on the needles to preserve my sanity. Currently, I’m in the middle (but nearing the end) of my most ambitious design project yet, a silk shawl for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation. Part of what’s kept me going on that never ending project is the fact I’ve publicly given notice that I’m doing it and somehow, that means I need to finish it or ‘fess up to failure.

What else has this year brought? I made my debut as a fibre artist at the Gagetown Village Fibre Festival where I demonstrated needle felting. I did the same at the New Brunswick Highland Games and the Rothesay Craft Festival. Somewhere along the line, I started taking myself seriously as an artist -- that’s a huge leap forward for me.

I beat my head around the concept of crochet, although I suspect I’ll never ‘like’ it. I’ve tackled felting/fulling with mixed results. I designed, although it needs some tweaking, a pig cloak and a couple of very snazzy pig scarves. I’ve taken up dying and think I’ll be getting into that a lot more intensely in the future.

This year has been about transforming myself from an avid hobbyist to something a little more commercially oriented. I’m still exploring but I have a few years to tweak the business plan. I retire from the City’s employ in about a dozen years at the ripe old age of 55 -- way, way too young to “retire” but with a 30 year pension to keep the wolf from the door. This blog has done a lot to keep me on track in that department. Needing to post on a regular basis to keep the Blog current has kept my nose to the proverbial grindstone for the past year. Some days, I knit so I have something to Blog. It keeps me honest and focussed.

There’s been some unforeseen benefits to this process. I’ve ‘met’ some incredibly cool women through the internet this year. I really hope someday we can find a place to gather for a drink or six.

In any event, from the bottom of my little OddBall heart, thanks for being here this past year. It’s been a lot of fun and here’s to Year 2 in the OddBall Universe.

Thanks for reading. No, really...THANKS for reading. You've all made it worthwhile and an awful lot of fun.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Had it...totally and completely HAD IT

You think taxes are tough? Try knitting, buddy.

Through me the way into the suffering city,
Through me the way to the eternal pain,
Through me the way that runs among the lost.
Justice urged on my high artificer;
My maker was divine authority,
The highest wisdom, and the primal love.
Before me nothing but eternal things were made,
And I endure eternally.
Abandon every hope, ye who enter here.

Well, OddBall, where are you with the progress on this shawl, conceived and executed in the Firth Circle of Hell, the place where sinners are doomed to an eternity of useless labour to atone for their slothfulness of life? Hmmmm… how else would one describe this ever blessed shawl than a "useless labour".

I‘m not done. I‘m not ever going to finish this ever-loving thing. I’m at that horrid stage. About six stages past the “I want to strangle myself with the yarn" stage and two stops to the left of the “I’m considering gouging out my liver with these needles” stage. If you’ve ever knit a big, incredibly tedious and unspeakably repetitive piece of knitting, you know what I mean.

Let me put it this way, this afternoon I had to make the choice between scrubbing the kitchen floor and sitting with a nice cup of tea and knitting for a couple of hours. The scrub bucket won out. Now that’s desperation.

Okay, enough with the lollygagging with the computer. It’s back to the needles for this OddBall. Talk at you'se all laters (provided Blogger isn't on strike) and thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The end is in sight

Another milestone reached.

Well, I've made it past the 3/4s mark for the border. I may actually finish knitting this shawl in this lifetime.

It's been a long haul but at the risk of tossing all sense of modesty to the wind, it is a beautiful piece. It's going to be hard to send it away.

In any event, I'm tired. It's been a long day. Talk at you's all laters; thanks for reading.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Who is that Cloaked Pig??

Pig in Sheep's clothing

I realize that this will come as a surprise to some readers, but there aren’t a lot of knitting patterns for pigs out there in the market. You can find patterns for dog jackets and cat thingies but I’m here to attest to the fact that pigs are more or less ignored in the couture clothing department. When Willie was a much smaller pig, my sister tried to made do with a large dog’s jacket. It didn’t fit and he quickly outgrew it. Pigs, it turns out, are NOT dog shaped.

Enter the OddBall and her knitting machine. My life doesn’t have enough wonky in it so I had to import some from my sister’s life. Armed with little more than a tape measure and a rough mental picture of what a pig looks like, and the trademark battle cry of Oh, what the Hell?, the OddBall flung herself into the project.

Well, for starters, let’s just say pigs aren’t the most patient creatures to grace the planet. The project started off on a slightly offbeat note at Christmas time when Kelly and I decided to take the pig’s measurements without the use of a measuring tape. I’d forgotten to bring my quilter’s tape and we were reduced to using hanks of string. Nevertheless, we were in the ballpark. Or something like that because I’m here to tell you, pigs do not like being measured.

It didn’t take to long to knit it up on the knitting machine because pretty much, it was 4 rectangles, sewn together along the long sides. I did do a bit of shaping at the bottom, back end, so that in the end we had a large, almost square with a rounded bottom section. The collar section was knit on to the piece after I had joined all the rectangles and I curved both collar pieces in towards the middle. As it turns out, I didn’t curve them enough -- something to fix in Version II.

Just for the record, I might add that it is somewhat easier to fit something when the model lives a bit closer than 440 kms to the south east. And I’ll confess, I’ve never really examined a pig closely for anatomical details. For example, I didn’t realize until now that the hind end of a pig is considerable higher than the front end. Instead of a straight sided rectangle, I’m going to have to taper those sides in a bit.

And the neck!!! Willie isn’t fully grown -- he has about another year of growth, making him the porcine version of a teenager -- with all the blessings associated thereof. As it stands, his neck/collar size is 36”.

I was all for taking at this with a pair of scissors and cutting down the front portions but my sister wanted to leave some growing room in it. He’s bound to get a couple of inches wider across the back which will naturally lift the front portion off the ground a little more. I guess we'll just leave this as being the full length, formal, pig cloak.

Happening Pig

I had knit a belly strap for the jacket, thinking we needed some means of closing it other than at the neck but I wasn’t sure of where to place it, so I just felted it separately and took it with me. As it turns out, it wasn’t needed. This is more pig cloak than pig jacket. It fastens only at the neck. Not wanting to waste the belly strap, we turned it into a snazzy scarf, complete with bow.

Does Willie like his new duds? According to my sister, he does. What he really doesn’t like this week is ME. At Christmas time, Willie had an unfortunate encounter with a flannel pyjama wearing, slipper swinging monster (not me for the record) but I got blamed for it anyway. And he still has a pout on for it. He’ll chill out. He just hasn’t figured out his OddBall Auntie yet.

Oh yes, and about the fitting tips for cranky little pigs that I promised in yesterday’s column…here’s the secret. You don’t. Pigs don’t do anything they don’t want to do. Learn to deal with it.

In the meanwhile, it was great to get down to see my sister again. The two days were a welcome break from knitting the Shawl from Hell border. I’ll be back at that little project today.

Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading. Oh yes, and before I forget, wishes for a very, very happy sixth birthday go out to my favourite little pirate in Halifax. Happy Birthday, Noah. Aunt Kate loves you lots.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ain't this the living end?

What all stylish swine are wearing.

The trip back from Halifax was made in record time. Apparently, I'd filled up the OddBall-Mobile with aviation fuel and we were doorstep to doorstep in 4 hours, 7 minutes. Mostly this has to do with my bladder capacity than anything else...we only required one pit stop.

I waved in the general direction of the London Wul-Farm as we blew past the Dieppe turnoff but I wasn't in the mood to stop today. It was all 'pitter-patter, let's get at her". In case you all didn't know already, Heidi has her own blog now and here's the link.

Okay, it's time to unpack and/or contemplate what we're having for supper. I'll write more tomorrow, complete with tips on how to fit a finicky and exceedingly cranky pig.

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

Live from Halifax!!!

Well, the neph-pig is having an anxiety attack over his new duds. Actually, he likes them a lot, according to the pig expert in residence, namely my sister but being a pig, he has to make a huge fuss over them. I'd make some corny joke about him being a ham but that's just too easy.

He's spent some time rolling around on the floor with them; however, the neph-pig thinks Auntie OddBall is going to do rude and nasty things to him and he spends a lot of time running away and squealing like ...uhhh, well, like a pig. There will be pictures eventually but right now, as of 0630h, we have yet to achieve pig modelling new jacket. It's in the works. We haven't tossed in the towel, or the jacket, yet.

Drama Queen?? Drama Queen... you have no idea. This pig is overdue several major Hollywood acting awards for the theatrics.

The things we endure to help keep a Willie warm.

Heading home later today so talk at you'se all laters;thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Too much nakedness...

Naked Pig!

It’s been brought to my attention that in the fair city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, there lives a naked pig. Actually, he’s only semi-nude because he has a little coat but that’s the issue. The coat is too little and the pig has become a big, strong, incredibly handsome pig.

Auntie OddBall to the rescue. This has been in the works for some time and you’d have thought I’d have taken it down to the poor little freezing porker by now. I’m sure he’s all excited about having a new felted wool coat 2 weeks before spring. But between my schedule and my sister’s, actually meeting up has been problematic. There’s been a whole lot of phone calls that start with…”thought I’d come down this weekend…..Sure but I’m off to Toronto.” or “are you free to come down this weekend because I’m actually off…Sorry, I’m working. Again.”

In the meanwhile, the pig has froze his parts off while his people try to get their act together. Fortunately for the long suffering Willie, there’s been a scheduling break through. In about an hour, Ditto and I are off to visit Willie and fit his new coat. Pictures will ensue. Yeah, yeah, I’m going to drink my sister’s booze supply when I’m there. She’s not getting off scot free on this one.

In any event, I still have to finish packing and round up the clan. It’s road trip time.

Talk to you’se all laters, like Friday, I’m thinking; thanks for reading.

Monday, March 06, 2006

More of the same

This is working for me

There's not much to report other than I'm further along than I was yesterday. It's the same old same old, just farther down the road. I'm officially past the half way marker of the filet crochet border.

Where we stand now

When the lower part of the filet crochet border is finished, I'll be 3/4s of the way done. That still sounds like an awful lot of knitting to me.

In any event, it's onward bound. I think I'm actually going to survive this project but it's between my two night shifts, so this OddBall is back to bed. Talk to you'se all laters; thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Progress and Hope Intertwined.

Getting there

Today, I hit two major milestones in the never-ending quest to finish the border for the shawl I promised to the Tyler Hamilton Foundation. I’m really glad I didn’t promise them an end-date because I’d be royally embarrassed by now.

Milestone # 1 was finishing one of the 100 g balls of silk. Starting into the second ball gave me a sense that I’m getting somewhere.

Major Milestone Right Here

The second milestone was joining the knit border to the filet crochet portion and knitting the lower border piece. That, I might add, is going along at a much better pace, no surprise considering that it’s 8-14 stitches wide versus 38-46 stitch width of the main border.

Am I ever going to see the end of this project? Please, I hope so. I’m getting really tired of it.
In any event, I’m off to bed. It’s nappy-jammy time for this OddBall. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Now that hurts.

It's getting there

Proof at last to me that I’m getting somewhere with this project. On the right is what was formerly a 100g ball of silk. On the left, for comparison, the size of the 100 g balls. We are getting somewhere, oh yes, we are.

See, the one on the right is actually smaller…that’s because it’s all knotted up in the border. I want to print this out poster size and pin it to something.

We are approaching a major milestone right now. I’m within 10 inches of marrying up to the filet crochet. Obviously, there’s going to be a bit of short row knitting to navigate the connection.

A milestone approaches

Time frame for this blessed event? I have no idea. Tonight, my hands are tingling and there’s an ache in my right elbow. I’m going to stop for today and see how I feel in the morning.

In the meanwhile, there’s beer to be drunk. I’ve decided that was the problem with the whole Olympic thing. I was way too sober. Talk to you’se all laters; thanks for reading.