Sunday, May 28, 2006

No, I'm not exactly insane. Yet.

This is the goal post

Question of the Month: How long can an OddBall go without a lace shawl in her life?

Answer: Apparently not longer than 6 days.

The Shawl Time Forgot was shipped to Colorado on Friday. By Sunday, I had been lured over to Jackie’s house to see her new shawl pattern and answer a question she had. I started to feel the pangs of withdrawal. She even emailed me a second shawl pattern. I went home and started fondling parts of the stash and looking longingly at my big book of shawl patterns and leafing through my binder(s) of dream projects. I’ve got a zillion miles of angora/silk blend that needs something done with it…

I spent the next two nights dreaming about lace shawls. And stoles. Stoles work too. I considered dragging out my Faux Russian Stole and getting it cranked off the needles and that’s still a possibility but I’m really, really in the mood for something done on piano wires with dental floss and it's in B&L singles on 6 mms. You know how it is. You get something stuck in your mind and there is no denying it. The Faux Russian Shawl just isn't going to cut it.

“No”, I said to myself, in a very firm and business like manner. “I’m going to be sensible and knit socks this summer.” Socks are the perfect summer hand knitting project. They’re easy and portable and fit into my bike bags with a minimum of fuss. They don’t require charts, graphs, magnifying scopes, stitch markers (okay, 2 stitch markers), rulers, pencils, photocopiers, highlights and tables of code interpretation. Socks need none of that stuff. I can knit socks in my sleep. They are brainless and I would be so very happy with it all when it’s fall and time for socks. Oh yes, I know I will.

And this is where I'm to

I lasted until Thursday. I should have known better than to walk into Singer with lace on my brain because what was the very firstest thing to look at when I walked in the door? Fiddlesticks knitting patterns. And a new shipment of merino/tussah silk blend yarn in more yummy colours than I can even talk about.

Socks? What freaking socks? Who the hell needs socks in July? So much for the practical plans.

It’s entirely Jackie’s fault. No, really, it is. I was doing well and then she had to get involved and now it’s lace on the needles again. Isn’t it pretty?

Talk at you’se all laters. I need to go start Chart # 3. Thanks for reading.

PS: Yes, I know. There are such things as lace socks. I even knit a pair (okay, one and 3/4s of a pair and then I lost the pattern and probably the 3/4s and I think I tossed the one last month, but you are SOOOOOOOOOOOO missing the point. I want wrappy, gauzy, flowy, fluttery, miles and miles and miles of bloody "k2, ssk, yo, k2, sl1, k1, psso...". Perhaps only the lace knitting addicts "get it". The sane portion of the population just goes crosseyed and wishes us luck.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

OddBall Cargo Services

Not the wierdest thing to get strapped to my bike but decidedly Top 10 material.

By the way, it's a skein winder, enroute to Liz's place for a sleep over. I think it's dating her loom...shhhhhhhhhhhhhh....

It's nap time; talk to you'se all laters. Thanks for reading. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Trinity Stich Shawl Revisited

A shawl revisited

Sometimes there’s a bonus feature associated with doing the right thing. For those of you who have had to listen to me prattle on (and on and on) about the shawl I did for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation, you’ve already been subjected to the blocking woes.

Yeah, I know but here comes yet another instalment and for those of you who thought that the shawl being delivered in Colorado meant I would finally shut up about it, keep dreaming. As recent readers of this Blog already know, the shawl was huge and it turned out, I decided it had to be blocked during the recent monsoon season in the Maritimes. Though the jigs and the reels, and considerable consultation over small cans of fermented hops, it was decided by the assemblage of fibre people that the building of a blocking frame was the way to go.

One idiot trip to the local lumber store later and with considerable patience and perseverance from the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division, and a blocking frame materialized in the basement. One big ass silk shawl was pinned to it and dried and that was the end of that. Or so one would think.

This morning, I was contemplating tearing the thing apart because an 8’ x 8’ lumber frame wrapped in a gold mystery fibre blanket is a bit of an obstacle to navigation. Then it came to me that I’ve never really properly blocked the Trinity Stitch Shawl because I never had enough uninterrupted space to do the deed. That excuse apparently doesn’t hold up to scrutiny anymore at the OddBall Crib. And here, Jackie thought I would be months, if not years, before I used it again.

Voila…one blocked shawl, now drying, while I contemplate its fate. This is the shawl I worked on while my mom was in palliative care last year. It was a very comforting project for me while I sat the night shifts by her bed. I guess I have a bit of a sentimental attachment to this one and I’ve never decided if I’m going to keep it for myself or if I’m going to put it up for sale. In any event, I’ll be better able to make the decision once it’s truly finished. In its unblocked state, it was a bit small for me but I think that’s been rectified with blocking.

In any event, it’s the night shift for me tonight. Time for me to go have a nap. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Details, details, details

C'est moi

Holy blooming foliage!!! Asthma season is in high gear. Every wheezer I know, including myself, was gasping today. Hopefully, it will soon be past us all.

Other than sticking close to my inhalers, it’s been a good day. The Shawl That Time Forgot arrived in Boulder without any horror stories to accompany it. I received an email from Deirdre Moynihan from the Tyler Hamilton Foundation saying they won’t be raffling it off this weekend. She has other plans for it and that’s fine with me. It’s just nice to know it found its way to its new home.

Today was a day where I did pretty much a whole lot of nothing. Given the state of my lungs, I decided not to use the knitting machine. A lot of wool dust gets thrown up when I’m knitting and it’s just not worth the agony. So I did some other things.

One was making hang tags. I’ve only been threatening to do that for about six months now. It was one of those little jobs that kept getting shuffled to the bottom of the deck. One of those “I need to do that tomorrow” deals where tomorrow never actually arrives. Today, it was tomorrow and I did the deed.

I’d like to say it was because I had a sudden attack of productivity but actually, it’s about the fact that I finally got off my can and opened an Etsy shop. eBay just didn’t do much for me -- like it didn’t work whatsoever. My listings never listed properly and after listing twice, I just said ‘forget this shite’ and moved on. The Etsy thing makes way more sense for handcraft. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to be ‘competing’ where off-shore knock-off crap is being sold for 99 cents. At least on Etsy, I’m in the proper category - handcraft by artisans. Besides, the listings stay on for six months or until they’re sold. In any event, hang tags were now a necessity and now they are done.

So how do you all like the new layout for the Blog? It’s spring and I’ve had the same design for the past year. I decided to give the place a new coat of paint and freshen it up a bit.

I’ve got a couple of socks to sew up so I’d best get back at it. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's done and gone...

The year that was

Hard to believe but The Shawl That Time Forgot has grown up and headed west to seek her fame and fortune in the US. I hope it makes some money for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation.

For better or worse, it’s out of the OddBall crib, mistakes and all. There are a couple of mistakes in it but to correct them, I’d have to unwind the entire shawl. It wasn’t happening, particularly when two independent observers couldn’t see them until they were pointed out to them. Of course, to my eye, they were about as obvious as an elephant’s tracks through a lemon meringue pie.

Blocking it was an adventure. There were several false starts, mostly starting at the lumber store. I said I was going to Wilkins. I should have stuck with that plan but by the time I biked over to the OddBall IT and Technical Support’s office to pick up the car -- the one day this month he had it -- I was half-way to Kent’s. I had repressed entirely what morons they are. Here’s the upshot -- they sold me four 1x2s. The problem was they didn’t actually have any. Nice. I ended up with 2x2s at a cheaper price because the 1x2s they sold me were knotty pine. I guess the part of the explanation where I mentioned I was making a frame to staple a big assed sheet to it was lost. I don’t know if men have these kinds of experience in Kent’s but I know every time I darken the doorstep, it ends up taking me at least an hour longer than it should and usually three arguments with staff members. Okay, one time it was understandable when I was ordering roll upon roll of galvanized steel wire -- something like a quarter-mile of it before I was done.

“What are you doing with all that wire?”

“Knitting it.”

He got a rather strange look on his face, but what do you make YOUR chain maille from?

But other than that, my trips to the lumber store aren’t all that strange. They’re usually pretty simple and nothing weird in the order. 2x4s, 1x2s. And every single time, they get something messed up. Wednesday was no different. After buying the four sticks of non-existent 1x2s, I ended up settling for 2x2s at a much cheaper price. Liz wouldn’t be surprised. It’s hardly the first project I’ve tackled that was over engineered by 50%.

We tried setting up at Liz’s house and it probably would have worked, except she was dealing with a sick kid and it would have meant trapping one boy child on the couch, completely separated from the bathroom by a big assed chunk of silk shawl. Not workable.

Bless the OddBall IT and Technical Support Division. He set the frame up in one room of the basement and when I decided I needed more room to move around it, he tore it down and set it up in another room. Finally, it worked out and an hour later, the shawl was blocked. Surprisingly, with all the reefing, hauling and pulling, only one beading cluster let loose when I was blocking.

It’s been almost a full year from start to finish. I was looking at my records and I dyed the silk for the shawl on May 26, 2005 and it’s going for sale/raffle in Boulder on the May 26th weekend of this year. Nice sense of symmetry. The circle of time has come full rotation. It's time to move on, all of us.

How could I give it away? It’s a question asked of me a lot lately. It’s really not hard. It’s time for the shawl to go make her way in the world. I just hope whoever ends up with her loves her as dearly as I did.

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

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Closing in on the finish.

Almost finished pinning

There it is -- big ol' shawl defined. It's off to its new home in Colorado tomorrow. I have mixed feelings on waving goodbye.

In the meanwhile, I need some sleep and it needs to dry.

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Time to get the lead out.

Almost goodbye

Well, it’s giddy-up go time at the Knittery. After several false starts and a bit of “Tag, you’re it”, Deirdre Moynihan from the Tyler Hamilton Foundation and I managed to get on the same telephone wire at the same time to have ourselves a chin wag. After the usual pleasantries, it was down to figuring out what to do with The Shawl That Time Forgot, aka The Truth Against the World aka What the Hell was I Thinking and Why Is the Room Still Spinning?

It turns out the Foundation has a very good forum to get rid of the darn shawl during some type of festival or some such thing in Boulder, Colorado. The catch, and you knew there had to be a catch, is that it’s coming up soon. Like the American Memorial Day weekend soon. For those of you north of that big line on the map, that would be the weekend after our weekend.

All in all, this ought not cause too much of a headache. Deirdre kindly offered to pick up the tab on shipping the blessed thing to the US of A. The downside of this is that it’s absolutely, totally, no kidding, has to leave here Monday noon at the latest to be guaranteed to be in Colorado before the weekend. Actually, UPS promises it’ll be there by Thursday but I’ve learned to build in the fudge factor when it comes to shipping promises. Still, it’s do-able. Today is Wednesday. Even I, the lazy arsed bucket mouth that I am can manage to pack that shawl up and haul it down to the UPS depot before Monday.

There is, of course, a wrinkle in the plan. Nothing in the OddBall Universe goes according to plan and the wrench in the proverbial works is the weather. The shawl needs to be blocked. It’s not an option to ship it unblocked and this requires two things. Space and dry weather. We’ve figured out the space bit. I need to build a blocking frame from some 1 x 2s. This is the easy bit.

The slightly more challenging part is going to be getting it to stop raining long enough to dry it. The storm system that was stalled over New England and beating the crap out of them has started moving into the Maritimes. It’s straight rain and 100% humidity from here until…you guess it… Monday.

“Egads!”, she exclaimed.

Okay, this necessitates the formulation of plan number two, which is actually probably Plan # 16, but who keeps track of such things? Technically, there is a block of uninterrupted floor space in the basement of this place. It’s not ideal conditions but necessity is the mother of invention. I’m off to get Gerald at Wilkins’ Building Supplies to hurry up with those 1 x 2s and I’ve press ganged Liz, the bestest friend ever, into giving me a hand tomorrow lacing this puppy to the frame. Hope she’s handy with a hair-dryer too.

Ohhhh, ohhhh, scrap that…we’re into Version 2 of Plan 16 because Monday is a holiday here in Canada means that the UPS depot is NOT open on Monday and if there’s any shipping to be done, this puppy needs to be shipped by Friday. I’m going to have a coronary before this is over. Okay, talk you you’se all laters; I have way too many people left to annoy today to dawdle anymore here. Thanks for reading.

PS to God: Please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaase, remember the Gunners are playing in Paris today. Thank you.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

A glorious OddBall moment

One Done Shawl

Probably a day late and a dollar short, but finally, finally, FINALLY, the shawl for the Tyler Hamilton Foundation is done. I mean, Done... moment please...

Apparently, the photographer has found a missed beading point. But other than that, it is done. I mean, really done.

Except for the blocking. But, but, bunch of nay-sayers....on the bright side we've pretty much figured out the HOW we're going to block this monster. Unblocked, it's kicking in at excess of 6 feet in diameter. I don't have that much uninterupted flat surface anywhere in the house. I think we're looking at a good 7 feet in diameter when it's all said and done so we (that would be Liz, Jackie, and me) are building a blocking frame for it, probably next week.

But that's on next week's "to do" list. This week's "to do" list was to complete and submit the application for the Artist's Residency at the Soldiers Barracks' Casemates. It's done. It's sent. It's so over.

In any event, it's bed time for this Bonzo because I'm working days tomorrow and the wakey-waky bit is at a ridiculous hour. Talk at you'se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Oddball Quickie

Socks and more socks

As you can see, things have been happening around the Knittery. Right now, I'm off to pick Liz up and see if we can't do some damage at Fabricville. I just wanted to show off the progress of things so far.

I'll write more later; thanks for reading.

Monday, May 08, 2006

For the birds

Christmas dove

It’s going to be a short column today because I’m in the mad dash to get some work done, not to mention some laundry done, before I’m off to the real job, you know, the one that actually pays the bills.

I have several socks all felted and now it’s decoration time. This one is pretty much done by my way of thinking. I’m trying to get some serious work accomplished between now and Friday because the application for the Arts residency is on May 15th and I’d like to include these as well.

Actually, it's a partridge, sans pear tree

As you can see, needle felting is the weapon of choice for a while. And yes, we all know I’ll be sticking some shiny, shiny beads on at least some of them. As Jackie put it, “I want to see them when they’re fully blinged.” This week is dedicated to the blinging of the socks.

And probably more laundry.

Okay, I’m off now to hang some laundry on the line. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

An OddBall Snafu.

An OddBall disaster

The morning started off productively enough. I was up and at’em early in the morning. I was dressed, had the blog written and was fully caffeinated well before 8:30 am.

I wound some balls of wool from skeins and was just settling down to a good day’s knitting, when the earth moved, and not by means approved by our Diana. No, I had inadvertently hooked the back of my chair on a support piece of the wire shelving that holds the ‘wall of wool’ next to the knitting machine and when I pulled myself up the knitting machine, the support came with me.

Gravity ensued. The resulting carnage is pictured above. That’ll teach me to get all smug about actually getting ahead on something around here. Fortunately, no OddBalls were (seriously) injured in this bit of buffoonery. My dignity, however, took a bit of a shellacking.

Of course the Odd Ball IT and Technical Support Division was at work, which probably was a good thing. Not that I couldn’t have used an extra hand when I was trying to simultaneously hold up the shelving unit, unload it and unhook my chair. However, his absence ensured that he didn’t laugh at my plight and that alone saved me from having to kill him.

So, the day got off to an official good start by yet another errand to be run. This one was to Home Hardware to pick up cable zip ties. Not that there wouldn’t be 973 000 of the damn things in this house somewhere but the IT and Technical Support Division is feigning ignorance on the subject. Specifically, I got "yes, we have them and damned if I know where they are." Now that's what you call Technical Assistance.

All along, I’ve known that I needed to figure out something to make the wire shelving more stable but it wasn’t until I was literally digging my way out from under it that it came to me. Three hours and one hundred zip ties later and I dare say that shelf isn’t going anywhere in a hurry. In the meanwhile, my hands are cut to pieces from tightening them down. I like the directions on the zip ties…snug up the tie and cut off the excess. Cut it off with what? Because, I am here to tell you, it’s not scissors. I even dug out a pair of wire cutters (useless) and another pair of shears. A couple look like I gnawed them off with my teeth, which probably would have been faster.

Order hath been restored

On the bright side, the studio really needed to be dusted, cleaned and vacuumed. And I found one of the claw weights that had been among the missing for a while.

Tomorrow is another day. . Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to go pour myself a nice shot of whiskey. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading

Sock season at the Knittery

Socks to dry

Yesterday I attempted to write this Blog about a dozen times but it turned out I was too busy doing to write about it. That occasionally happens around this place. I get blinded by the dust bunnies, trip over my work ethic and get down to brass tacks, as they say.

So what all did I manage to accomplish yesterday? I varnished the stocking blockers and finished up the pile of socks to felt and ran them through the wash a few times. I knit a couple of more socks, worked on my application for the Artist in Residence program and ran errands.

Yes, the old running of the errands. Why is it that job takes up half a day, regardless of what needs to be done. A trip to Staples always morphs into something much, much more and predictably, this one did as well. It was the classic case of ‘while I’m at the top of the hill, I might as well….” and it was all downhill from there from a time management perspective. Part of the ‘problem’ is that I largely haul my carcass around on a bike in the summer and the mall district in Fredericton is at the top of a gia-normous hill with a relentless 10% grade over a 3 km stretch. It’s a challenge walking DOWN it, let alone biking up it. I have done it a couple of times because they stuck the diabetes management clinic at the top of it as well but yesterday was so not the day.

I really hate ‘errand day’. I hate having my routine interrupted, I hate that it distracts from what I want to be doing and most of all, I hate that I spend huge wads of money every time I head out of the house. And yesterday, the drivers in Fredericton were particularly irritating, which did nothing for my mood. And don’t get me started on the parking bit…

Honesty, I’m in so much better mood when I use my bike. Honest. I wouldn’t lie to you.

In any event, this is actually a knitting blog as opposed to a biking blog, so perhaps I could get back to the topic at hand, or foot, as the case might be.

I felted the Christmas stockings I had done up and I really need to talk to Jack about making some more stocking blockers. I have 6 of the little ones and I’m going to probably make many more smaller socks than the big ones. And it costs me the same amount of money to felt 20 socks as it does to felt one -- so logically, I might as well make it a machine load when I do it.

I’ve got the knitting down to about 45 minutes and it takes another 15 minutes to sew up the back seam and close the toe. Now comes the fun part, decorating them. I can’t wait for this batch to get dried so I can start in on them.

Therapy socks done

I finished the Therapy Socks the other day. And officially, I hate them. As predicted the knit is too loose for my tastes. I even washed them up last night, hoping they’d straighten around but it’s that damn super-wash wool, and you know what that crap is like…completely useless. Not a hope in Hades of shrinking these things. Oh well, they’ll do. They fulfilled their purpose of keeping me from losing my mind and that’s the important bit. I think there will be a lot of socks knit this summer, however, none of them on 3.5 mm needles. Too loose.

In any event, I’m off to conquer the knitting machine. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.