Thursday, 31 January 2013

Thursday Update

Today was a work from home day - what a relief.  A relief because last night there was a howling wind for most of the night and I never sleep well with a wind like that.  A relief because it means I don't have to drive to and from work.  The past few days - for one reason or another - I've had two-hour commutes (yes - each way) and as much as I like what I do, I can live without that.

And because I'm working from home there is no dress code.  I wore fleece pants and an old sweatshirt today.  Not there there is a strict dress code at my workplace; I'm a software engineer so I can wear just about anything but there is something liberating about going to work in slippers with your feet up on the couch.

I also did this today.

This is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Roving.  Despite the fact that there is a Wool Depot 30 minutes from my house, I decided to give Knit Picks a try.  I was pleased with how quickly the items were shipped and I was happy that when the discount code on the catalogue wasn't recognized at the checkout online, I wrote a little note of explanation  - and the discount was applied when my credit card was billed!  This roving isn't quite as 'easy' as the Blue-Faced Leicester I did last time, It doesn't have much crimp so doesn't grab onto itself as easily but I think as I get into a rhythm with it, it's getting finer and more consistent.

I also did more work on Semele last night.  

If all goes well, this should be finished, washed and blocked within a week.  I'll be happy to finish this as I have something else I want to start....and I'm sure you're getting tired of looking at the same thing day after day!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Lakeshore Drive

So I finished spinning up the roving from SweetGeorgia Yarns.  This was 28g (1 oz)  from the spinning colour six pack in Lakeshore Drive.  The fibre is Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester - for those of you who care to know such things.

I'm really quite taken with this.  I even managed to get a sneaky photo of my camera shy cat.

It isn't plied as tightly as I'd like it to be, but I figure this is still a learning process.  I know I can run this through my wheel again to put more twist into it - I might go ahead and do that anyway.

But I really am pleased with the colours in the end result.  

The Semele scarf is progressing too.  I've passed the halfway point and have started decreasing towards the end point.  Apologies for the poor quality photo.  I only ever seem to think of getting a picture of this after the sun has gone down.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Stolen Moments

I have a new work schedule that I'm quite excited about.  I work from home on Thursdays now.  Yup - every Thursday is me parked on the couch with a blankie and my doggie, my own coffee in my cups and a full kitchen to make lunch (which is really funny since I hate making lunches).

So today I hit on a great idea though I'm sure the rest of the world is going to say "Well, yeah...what else were you going to do?".  I took a few moments in the middle of the day to spin.  What a treat to have a spinning break in the middle of a workday!

A little backstory here - I ordered a six pack of BFL roving from SweetGeorgia Yarns in BC and it arrived last week.  I've been looking at it for days now.  Aren't they lovely.

It was a bit of a job to decide which one to start with but in the end I picked this one

I think these colours absolutely scream "Summer".  They remind me of the colour of the water when I was last in Thailand, the colour of the grass by the sea, summer sky with a bit of cloud.  I can almost hear the surf and the sea birds.  

Its the most perfect tonic against this.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Some days I amaze myself.  I can't believe how well weighting the yarn worked to take the extra twist energy out of this this!  Don't mistake me, there is still a little too much but the hank isn't winding itself up anymore.

This is actually usable.  There is roughly 80 yards.

And this is making progress

I think I better head out and buy a lottery ticket while my luck is holding.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Spinning Saturday

I'm not sure where the idea of "Spinning Tuesday" started.  I've heard it on Knitty and I've heard it from the Yarn Harlot.  A Google search shows that loads of others are now taking part in Spinning Tuesdays - so many that it's actually becoming a 'thing'.

But Tuesday is a lousy day for me; I don't think my boss would take too kindly to me saying "Sorry - I'm not going to be at work today.  Today is Spinning Tuesday".  And by the time I get home, I'm not much interested in spinning.  Besides, I need better light for spinning than for knitting and it's dark when I get home.

But I want to spin.  I've got some big dreams for the roving piling up in the closet and I'm not going to become a better spinner simply by wishing I could participate in Spinning Tuesday.  So I am declaring Saturday to be "Spinning Saturday".  No, not every Saturday and I can assure you there will be weeks where for one reason or another it will slide to Spinning Sunday, but this is the goal - to do more spinning and actually knit something with my handspun.

So this is what I did today.  I had 40g (about 1.5 oz) of roving from Windblest Farms.  Windblest is a farm quite close to where I live that raises Leicester sheep.  I picked up this roving at the Almonte Fibre Festival last fall.  I tried to spin it a few weeks ago and had no luck with it - it was lumpy and kept breaking; a very frustrating experience.  But curiously, I could spin it on a spindle with no problems at all.  This lead me to realize that I'm not pre-drafting well enough.   You can see that its quite a dense roving.

I didn't get a good picture of the singles spun onto the bobbin but they looked really good.  It was a fine strand and was surprisingly even.  So I wound it off the bobbin into a center pull ball and plied it back onto the wheel.  Herein lies the problem - it was plied too tightly so now there is too much twist in the finished yarn.  I washed it, and hung it up with a weight (I used an old water jug) to see if I could get it to relax a bit.

I'm disappointed that there is so much twist, but the finished yarn is pretty even and about the gauge I was hoping to get.  I think now it's just a question of practice before I get it the way I want it.

In other knitting news, I continued work on the Semele scarf  today and finished the second chart.  Now, comes the real test - can I count to four consistently to ensure an even increase?

Stay tuned - I'll post more pictures of this as a work in progress.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Forced Change

I heard some bad news today.  My sister-in-law was laid off from her job after 27 years with the same company.  It's a rotten thing to have happen and I think it's going to be a rough few days (weeks?) for her as she tries to get her feet under her again.  She's got what appears to be a good severance package but without going into too much detail (because this isn't really my story to share), it could have been much better.

The funny thing about forced change like this though is that in my experience it always works out for the best.  All my friends have lost their jobs at some point and each and every one of them has ended up in a better situation than they were in before.  Truly - every single one of them; me included.  I'm sure you have similar stories.  So why is it that if it always works out so well that we avoid it like the plague and send condolences to the person who lost their job?

I don't have answers, though I suspect its something along the lines of "people don't like uncertainty" or "pressing financial commitments".   But I suspect the real answer is about control - I don't know anyone who goes out of their way to court change like this, but I know lots of people who have voluntarily left jobs for something else; me included.  But I was the one who decided to leave the old job and I had something to go to.  I was the one who called the shots, who decided if, when, where, how and why.  That's a pretty powerful position to be in.

On a related note, I took a deep breath today and unraveled Semele, my scarf which demonstrated that I can't reliably count to four.  It went from being 95% done to being very undone.

But you know what?  This too has ended up being a good thing even though it looks like a setback - I read the entire directions again and am using the actual printed instructions instead of what I thought they said and the whole thing looks better.  I can tell already that this end is going to block out to a better shape than what I had before.

Now before I'm publicly flogged, I'm well aware that ripping out a scarf isn't in the same category - the same universe - as losing a job - that feels more like having your right arm ripped off.  But just like when the scarf wasn't working out, being forced to start over will produce a better end product and for my lovely and talented SIL, this forced change will surely produce something better than she had.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

My Hero

There are lots of reasons why I adore my husband.

He brings me coffee every workday morning.
He packs my lunch for me.
He makes me smile when I'm sad.
He makes dinner.
He plows the driveway when I'm at work.
He laughs at my jokes.
He tolerates the extraordinary amount of yarn, roving and other fibre roaming around the house.

But today, most of all, this is why I love him.

See that orange glow.  That's fire burning in the pellet stove.  Yeah, the one with the broken motor.  He's managed to fix the motor, chisel out an embarrassing amount of creosote, repair the vacuum hose and put the whole thing back together again with no spare parts.

I guess he wasn't keen on waiting four to six days for parts to be delivered either.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Good, the Bad, and Things That Make Me Crazy

The Good:  I finished the "Who's Socks" that I was working on.  They're a mix of Merino, Cashmere and Nylon.  The Wool was MCN Ultra by Indigodragonfly in Tardis.  

The Bad:  The motor for the pellet stove died.  It had a seizure sometime during the night and that was the end of it.   The motor that died drove the top auger from the hopper to the bottom auger which feeds into the burn box.  It's a critical piece of hardware.

The Good:  The stove came from Canadian Tire.  They've always got parts.

The Bad:  Canadian Tire doesn't stock parts for this, even though they sell the stoves.

The Good:  We don't use this stove for cooking, nor do I rely on it for hot water to make tea/coffee.  And I have new socks.

The Bad:  It is the sole heat source for half our house.

The Worse:  It's the dead of winter in Canada.

The Good:  Chuck went out to the barn and came back with a box with a replacement motor in it.  It had obviously been left from the previous owners when we bought the house.  And I have new socks.  Wool socks.

Things That Make Me Crazy:  That motor was dead as well.   The inner circles of hell are reserved for people who do things like that.

The Good:  We can get parts for the stove from a US distributor.

The Bad:  The company is in the US and can only ship to a depot in New Brunswick.  From there it has to be shipped via Canada Post.  They estimated 4 to 6 days.  I estimate it will be spring and I'll no longer have need of the stove by the time I receive the package.

Things That Make Me Crazy:  It will take 4 to 6 days in January for us to get a motor for the stove that heats half our house.

The Miracle:  The weather is crazy here.  It's above zero in January in Ontario.   And it will be above zero for the next 4 days.

The Good:  I still have a fully functional gas furnace in half my house.  And I have new wool socks.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Blog 2.0

After a year and a half, I decided the blog needed an update.  An electronic facelift if you will.  In most areas of my life I tend to choose the simplest, plainest style of anything.  The blog was no exception - even this updated look is still plain.  I don't know whether it's because I don't want to draw attention to myself or because I'd rather spend the time doing something else.

But the argument can be made that it's these little things, the tiny details, that give us the greatest pleasure.   And truthfully, I've been reading many other blogs lately and have been quite captivated with the fantastic layouts and designs.  Many of these are WordPress blogs - something I may consider later for the design options, but a lot of them were blogspot, and those are all available to me.

It certainly gave me pause and triggered the question of "Why?".

Why do I have no ornamentation in my life.  My plain clothes, blah hair, old coat.  I'm a software engineer so I wear jeans and a T-shirt almost exclusively, my coat is 10 years old and I don't know when I last had a real haircut; my hair is tied up in a ponytail when I get out of the shower and that's the end of it.

But occasionally change creeps up on you, pounds on the door of your life and demands to be heard.  I've been feeling restless, I know my soul is demanding change.  I don't know what has to change yet, but at least now I'm listening.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Loose Ends

It was -24C/-11F last night when I came home from the movies (I saw The Hobbit if you were wondering. Great show.) Today it has 'warmed up', if you can call it that, to -14C/7F. The water lines to the two sinks and toilet in my downstairs bath are frozen because the pipes are on the exterior wall. I'm not sure what Einstein thought that was a good idea when the bathroom was being built and truthfully I didn't make the connection when we were looking at the house, but now that Chuck isn't working, it's going to change.

In the meantime, the pellet stove is blazing away, and the dogs have lost all interest in going outside.

And I want a new sweater and am increasing interested in some fingerless mitts. Thing is, I have way too many projects on the go as it is. Granted, except for one, they're all small but don't think I can justify starting a sweater until I've finished a few of the current works in progress.  So, in no particular order, there is:

a. A pair of mittens.  These were started in the summer with the intention of being a gift.  Without going into too much detail, the intended recipient is no longer around so I stopped work on them.  But they're still great mittens made of Alpaca.  They fit me.  And it's -14 outside.  I should really finish them.

b. Socks.  I started these just for something to do with my hands one night in early December and someone commented on them.  I thought I might give them as a gift to the commenter, but I ended up with something far better for that person.  And truthfully, I really liked the yarn so wasn't keen on giving it away (Tardis/Indigodragonfly).  In the end, I've decided to keep them.

c. Socks.  While the socks in point b were being knit, I realized that I didn't know how big the potential recipients feet were so I stopped after I knit the first sock and didn't graft the toe.  I was considering wrapping just one and having her try it on to see if they fit.  As mentioned, I decided to keep them but while waiting for Christmas, I started another pair for me.  I have the first one completed.  These are 20,000 Lawyers Under the Sea by Indigodragonfly.

d. Stole.  This was going well  until sometime in October, or possibly early November, when my lovely dog expressed his approval of the yarn by 'playing' with it.  The ball exploded everywhere and I've only just recently re-wound it.  It's ready to be worked on again.  At the rate I'm going, this will be ready in the spring which honestly is about the time I'd like to have it.  The pattern is Autumn Arbor Stole by Anne Hanson knit in Amethyst Marrakesh by HandMaiden

e. Shawl.  I demonstrated an inability to count to four consistently so the first half of this is longer than the second half.  No big deal, except I don't have enough yarn for the second half.  I really like the pattern and yarn combination so I'll do it again.  But I'll be a little more conscientious about counting to four.  This is also 20,000 Lawyers Under the Sea by Indigodragonfly in a Merino Silk blend.  Before anyone asks, it's different enough from the sock yarn that I can't make up the difference using that.