Friday, December 31, 2010

Job hunting and buzzwords

I've been casually job-hunting for a few weeks now.  My current/previous job isn't going to last much longer.  I've been watching my friend's daughter for a little over a year now, but my friend is going to be heading off on maternity leave soon, and I really ought to find gainful employment.

Here's the problem:  I SUCK at buzzword bingo!  I'm looking over my resume, and it fails highly in the areas of Buzzwords and Flashiness.  It has nothing to grip you.  I'm not a terribly exciting person.  And as much as I would like to discuss in detail the various business attempts that have been ongoing for the last two years, potential employers are not generally very excited about knitting publications.  Especially not when you are applying for administrative work with a splash of accounting on the side.

The thought of going back into that environment leaves me feeling somewhat cold and paralyzed to be honest.  It's what I went to school for, it's what I know how to do, but I hate it with every fiber of my being. 

Is there any sort of a job out there that would allow me to fill my artistic passion while simultaneous being gainfully employed?  Is there any possible way to avoid the cold, tired world of administration and accounting?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

St. Distaff's Day

Did you know there is a whole day devoted to spinning?

St. Distaff's Day is on January 7.  Lucky for me, I've got my wheel put back together and it is in proper working order.

H is thoroughly unimpressed with the design of the Ashford Traditional.  As much as I love it, he hates it.  Only he hates it from an engineer's perspective.  He doesn't like the screws that are used or the way the hub pin fits in  And I won't even get started on his reaction when we'd put it all back together only to realize that the polyurethane drive band (a single unbroken loop) had gotten twisted around the legs.  He thought we were going to have to take it off.  His eyes went sort of buggy when I just snipped it (I'd left it loose on purpose and just raised the mother-of-all, in case I ever needed to do what I'd just done).  I'll fix my polyurethane drive band later.  For now, I've got the cotton band tied on.  It's working fine.  I'm happy.

It's a shame H doesn't do more woodworking.  I'd love to see what sort of spinning wheel he could comeup with.  I bet he could make something really fabulous!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The best of Christmas presents

My spinning wheel is in pieces on the guest room bed. 

I received the double treadle kit for my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel this Christmas.  It was wonderful and the wheel went together quite smoothly.  Until I got around to putting the hub pin in the wheel.  I used the old hub pin instead of the new one.  The old hub pin, being several millimeters smaller than the hold in the crank, allowed the crank to wiggle back and forth, which made the wheel a little clunky as it treadled.

The new hub pin is a much tighter fit, but requires the hole in the wheel to be made larger.  I need to work up the courage to make any permanent changes to my wheel.  I'm even scared to stain it in case the stain ruins it.  I doubt it would. 

What makes a better finish?  Waxing or staining?  And which wax or stain should I use??

So many questions. 

As a result, my spinning wheel is in pieces on the guest room bed while I sort out these very important issues.  I rather miss my spinning wheel.  However, it's absence is allowing me to focus a little more on the knitting.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

Christmas celebrations are almost done.  We've got one more family dinner today and then we are finished.  Luckily, this one does not involve a gift-exchange.  It's just dinner.  Good dinner, too!  It's with H's extended family and is my favorite dinner of the Christmas season. 

Since H is chinese, the dinner with the extended family is a Chinese dinner.  But this isn't your Mandarin buffet or Chinese takeout style of dinner.  This is a sit down meal at a fancy Chinese restaurant with lots of fancy dishes.  There is always some sort of seafood.  Shrimp, scallops, fish.  Then there will be chicken.  Usually a whole chicken chopped up into pieces.  The bone are left in and the head is usually still on the plate.  Sometimes we order peking duck.  The whole duck is brought to the table and sliced by hand in front of you.  Then the rest of it is taken back to the kitchen where the remainder of the meat is chopped up and stir-fried.  Of course there is rice. 

There is lots more, but I can't think of what else we usually order.

Christmas with my family was good.  The gift exchange is always a bit unruly, but that's to be expected when there are 15 people opening presents at once.  My brother-in-law bought me two knitting books.  Stitch'n'bitch Superstar Knitting and Modern Top-down Knitting.  Both were absolutely perfect.  I've wanted the first one since it came out, and the second one was a pleasant surprise, since I've often thumbed through it at the library and had been thinking about picking it up.

My mother bought me yarn.  I will admit to being a complete yarn snob.  I tend not to enjoy it when other people buy me yarn, since other people's opinion of what is good yarn usually differs vastly from my own.  Nevertheless, the more I touch and fondle it, the more it has started to grow on me.  At first, I had no idea what I would make out of 5 balls of bernat boa (in the colourway "Bright Glitter", no less).  But it didn't take me long to envision it as a hat, scarf, mittens, and possibly shawl.  All of which would be made for and enjoyed by ME!  I don't do enough knitting for myself.

I almost cast the hat on last night, but a (very!!) stern glare from my husband told me that probably wasn't a good idea.  It'll be a hat for next winter.  ;)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Days of knitting

One of the nice things about Christmas is that I get to generally ignore most of my regular duties in favour of chilling out and relaxing with H.  It's wonderful!  ;)  I only really get to do this for a day or 2 at most, but those two days have given me some major headway on some important projects.

I've managed to get the second full side of my mother's sweater finished.  It's blocking right now.  The side panels can (and will) be knit two at a time, which will make them work up faster.  Well, not technically "faster", since my stitches-per-minute remains fairly constant, but it will seem faster, since I'll be doing them both at the same time.

I know for sure I can get them done by the end of the month with minimal effort.  This leaves only the sleeves, which will also be knit two at a time.  This will ensure that they are identical and again will make them seem like they are going faster.  That plus the collar and front band are all that remain of the sweater.  It will certainly be done by Mother's Day.  That makes the sweater just over a year in the making, including all the times I ripped back and started completely over again.  I should point out that it was two solid months of starting, ripping back, and starting over to create the perfect design. 

On top of that, my February deadline projects are working up faster than expected.  At my current rate of knitting, I should have both done and photographed not later than January 20th.  Maybe 30th.  They're almost finished.  ;)  And the test knitting on them is coming along well, though I am admittedly horrified at the mistakes I made in one of them.  Only one of them, mind you.  The other one was perfect with the exception of some small technical inconsistencies (the use of capital letters, improper punctuation, and inconsistent notation).

All in all, I'm fairly happy with my progress.  I'll be taking my mother's sweater with me to my family Christmas tomorrow.  I dare not work on anything else while I am there, since my mother knows of the sweater project and is anxious to receive it.  ;)

I am endeavoring to get as much finished between now and January 1 so that I can focus on my new pattern.

That said, it's 2011 in less than a week.  Time flies so quickly. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

Here's a cheer to all on Christmas Day!
May your day be filled with joy
Your stockings filled with toys
Your presents be tremendous
and your holiday stupendous!

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Epic Project (or the blanket that would not end)

6 years ago my husband asked me to marry him.  I started a blanket that was to be a wedding blanket for us.  It was to be a queen-sized bedspread.  In boucle yarn.

5 years 4 months and 2.5 weeks ago I married my husband.  The wedding blanket, which was not done, went into a bag.  And there it stayed.  Oh, I'd pull it out occasionally to crochet a row here and there, but the truth is, I hated it nearly as soon as I started it.  Boucle yarn makes me crazy and causes uncouth words to issue forth from my lips.

But, I have good friends who learned about the "wedding blanket" and they encouraged me to finish this project.

I crocheted the last row on it tonight and draped it over my husband.  He's pretty happy with it.  As you can see, it's not a bedspread.  It's only roughly 2/3 the intended finished length.  But it looks nice and it's symmetrical.  It is the perfect size to drape over the back of the futon and is the ideal size for curling up in while watching TV.  So after roughly 6.5 years in the making, I consider my wedding blanket done.

When your plate is full...

The correct course of action is, of course, to finish everything you are doing before taking on more.

BUT, Interweave Press put out a call for submissions for a project that excites me greatly!  And even though I know I've got a lot to do (see previous posts on this subject), I just cannot help but know I need to participate in this extra project.  I've even got the yarn for it.  6 balls of Noro Chunky that's been sitting in my stash since the summer waiting to tell me what it needs to be.  It decided it needs to be part of this project and I'm very excited about the prospect.

2011 will be the year of my complete breakdown into yarny-insanity.  You'll find me next Christmas curled up in my closet surrounded by piles of yarn, knitting furiously while whispering to myself  "One more row.  One more row."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Disclaimer:  I'm a serious geek at heart.  Comic book movies, sci-fi, fantasy...if there is a big lineup of fangeeks standing outside a theatre (and let's face it, fangeeks make up 90% of those lines...the non-geeks can't be bothered and go the weekend after opening weekend), I'm usually there.  

I generally have a rule against 3D movies.  Being practically blind (okay, an exaggeration, but I do wear coke-bottles), I have a difficult time with 3D movies.  I tend to see a halo around the images, or will see double, and the hard work of focusing on 3D tends to give me a migraine. For this one, I'll break my rule against 3D movies.  I will suck up the migraine that comes along with the 3D movies.  For this one, I'll be there, ticket in hand, lined up for however long I have to line up.  But I'll be writing to my theatre well in advance to request that they offer the 2D version, too.  They usually don't.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas presents and wonderful swaps

I love fiber swapping.  The fine folks over at Phat Fiber put together a holiday swap for the contributors.  It was a great deal of fun.

I put together what I thought was a lovely gift for my swap partner, within the suggested $50 budget.  I sent her a pretty silk cap for spinning, some gold merino, a red/white/green braid, a large bulky skein of handspun wool, and a handwoven bamboo scarf. 

My package came today, and I felt like a bit of a heel.  What I sent just pales in comparison to what I received, and I'm the sort of person who feels guilty about stuff like that.   I got all of the following:

There is a white merino/milk/nylon batt, a blue merino/silk batt, cinnamon-red alpaca, BFL locks, Buffalo Gold, a bag of milk, bamboo, and soy silk, and some corriedale roving with a small turkish spindle. Plus chocolates.

It's all so very beautiful!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The blog post I nearly didn't write

I have waffled back and forth over whether to write this post, and if I was going to write it, what would I say?  This post is highly personal and is more serious than most of what I write.  It has nothing to do with my knitting, and I hope you'll forgive me for that.  It deals with a complicated and heart-wrenching topic that affects more than 6 million couples in the United States.  Canada has not measured their own statistics.  I'd like to ask why not, but that's not really the point of my post.  This post is about infertility, and the heartbreak a couple feels when they finally realize that they may never have children on their own.

Infertility can be heartbreaking.  Chances are someone you know has impaired fertility, reduced fertility, or is just plain infertile.  I discovered on Thursday that I have reduced fertility.  I may be infertile.  In any case, I don't seem to be able to get pregnant on my own and the doctor is sending me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist at a fertility clinic. 

There is nothing that can describe the feelings you feel sitting in a doctor's office while they toss terms at you that go straight over your head.  They don't bother to explain what these terms mean, so you go home to Dr. Google for an explanation.  But those explanations are filled with more complicated terms and you just end up feeling more lost and alone than ever.

Sometimes you come out with a new term or diagnosis every time you visit the doctor, and so these visits become a source of anxiety instead of help.  When I visited the gynecologist last year, after an ultrasound, I was told I had polycystic ovarian syndrome.  In short, the follicles surrounding my eggs were not maturing properly, so no fully mature egg was being released to be fertilized.  But there was still a hope that I might get pregnant, so H and I continued to try to conceive naturally.  I continued to take my basal (first morning, before moving or getting up) temperature every single morning.  I continued to menstruate regularly (an oddity in itself if PCOS was the preventing factor), and my basal body chart continued to show an ovulatory pattern.  So back I went to the doctor.  Inquiring minds wanted to know...if I am ovulating on a semi-regular basis, why am I not pregnant yet?

This time there was something new wrong with me.  This time I was told that there was something unusual in my bloodwork from last year.  My progesterone levels are strangely high.  The doctor couldn't confirm without further tests, but it looks like I have something called "Adult Onset Adrenal Hyperplasia."  That was a such a mouthful that I forgot all the rest of the questions I wanted to ask.  Questions like "If I have this and it showed up in my bloodwork, why didn't anyone call me back for more tests to confirm this?  Why would you let me keep trying?  Why wouldn't you want to treat me for it?"  I didn't ask that.  I left quietly (after being given another pregnancy test which, not at all shockingly, turned out negative).  I went home.  My period came.  I cried.

I can't be sure if this is the deciding factor.  My overall impression of doctors between my migraines and my impaired fertility has been that they really don't know much more than the average person and spend a great deal of time guessing.  Maybe that's unfair.  I'll give the reproductive endocrinologist a chance.  Maybe she'll find something new wrong with me, too.  I'm supposed to see her at the end of January. 

Here's how infertility hurts:  It breaks your hope and your spirit, one month, one negative pregnancy test at a time.  After a while, a new month doesn't signal just a new hope and a new chance, it signals the death of your previous hope.  Your heart starts to break, little pieces at a time.  You turn numb to turn off the pain, just so you can put your smile on and pretend to be normal. 

The questions start and the pain bubbles to the surface.
Why aren't you pregnant yet?
How long have you been trying?
When are you going to have a baby?
It's your turn to produce a child now.
Are you pregnant yet?

Then the well meaning but equally hurtful comments start.
Maybe it's just not God's time yet.
Trying is the best part.
Your life changes so much after having a child, maybe you're not ready yet.
Children are so much work.
It's not all fun and games, you know.
Why don't you just adopt?
You don't have enough faith.

And my heart keeps breaking, and my fake smile gets faker, and the pain goes a little deeper.  I dig a little deeper to find the strength to move on, to keep hoping, to keep praying, to not lose heart.  It won't define me nor make me bitter.  I push forward on the long road, and in my ear, I hear Aslan's voice whisper:  "Courage, dearheart."

How does knitting sound like a frog?

They both go "rippit! rippit!"  (and that's why ripping back your work is called "Frogging").

So I have good news and bad news today.  The good news is that Canada Post apaprently makes deliveries on Sunday close to Christmas.  I came home to find a package on my doorstep containing 10 balls of gorgeous!! City Tweed DK yarn.  It's for a new design project that was accepted last week.  I'm frankly shocked at the speed with which it came.  I'm not casting on until after January 1, 2011, though.  I have GOT to get these other projects finished first.

And therein comes the bad news.  Have you ever had to rip back 100 rows of lace when you haven't used a lifeline?  I made a HUMONGOUS mistake in my mother's sweater roughly 100 rows back.  I noticed it in church (while the preacher was talking about a particularly sensitive topic) and almost started to cry right there.  I bit back the tears, put the knitting down, and somehow made it through the next 30 minutes without crying.

I have to fix it, though.  I've devoted this afternoon to ripping back to my mistake and fixing it.  My fingers are crossed that the mistake is only 100 rows back, and not more than that. 

I'm never knitting lace for anyone ever again.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ninja Snow

I woke up a little later than I was supposed to this morning (8:30 instead of 8am)  The only reason I woke up at all was because a friend had called about a series of errors (big and small, but mostly small) in a pattern she is both test-knitting and tech-editing for me.  The tech-editing is a much bigger deal than the test knitting.  I'm fairly confident that the pattern is mostly correct with maybe only one or two mistakes.  I'm knitting it myself from the pattern and I'm pretty decent at spotting my own mistakes.  But the tech-editing is where I get a giant FAIL sticker, so I was ecstatic when she started noticing all the little technical errors that keep the pattern from being (to quote another good friend) "awesomesauce".

As I was talking to her on the phone, I wandered around my bedroom and peeked out my curtain.  Lo and behold!!  It's snowing again!  This was awesome stealthy ninja snow.  The kind of snow you have no clue is happening until you peek out the window. 

I keep peeking to make sure it's still there and hasn't stopped yet.

As a side note, I've decided that as soon as I get the vacuuming done and the kitchen floor washed, I'm going to spend the rest of the day in front of the TV knitting.  I am planning on working on Mom's sweater for at least 3 hours today.  That should get me part way up the sleeves.  Maybe...just maybe I can trick myself into getting it done for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Knitting things you're supposed to be knitting...

I suppose I could also call this post "Not knitting things you're supposed to be knitting".  Or maybe I could call it "One too many things to knit."  How about "I knew this would all turn on me one day."

First, I'm having a blast with this whole new world of design.  I've just had a second pattern proposal accepted, and the yarn should be en route pretty soon.  I will almost certainly not get it before Christmas.  That's just as well, and leads me to my second point.

I have officially taken on one project too many!!  I ought to feel terribly guilty, because projects that should be done are not being done in favour of other projects which really need to be done.  I haven't knit on my mother's sweater all month.  Instead, I've been worried about another project deadline that's been rapidly approaching.  Now I have test knitters working on this other project for me (God bless free test knitters who knit for your because they love you).  But I still need to get the project itself finished so that I can photograph it for the pattern.  No one wants to knit a pictureless pattern.  How will you know what you are knitting?

In addition to the knitting, though, I've been playing with my loom.  See that pretty picture?  That's what I've been doing when I've been hiding from the knitting.  I need to stop doing that and get on with my knitting.  I desperately wanted to have my mother's sweater done for Christmas.  As it stands, I'm two sleeves away from finishing it, and since the sleeves are primarily tiny-gauge stockinette, that is NOT happening.  I love my mom, but she'll be really lucky to have this sweater for Mother's Day.  I have a February 15 deadline, a May-ish deadline, an August-ish deadline, and an October-ish deadline.  This is in addition to the new Men's sweater vest that I'm creating, which takes a certain amount of priority on account of it being a source of income for me.  I'm thinking that having the vest done for September-ish will be good.  My mom is pretty forgiving, but I know this isn't improving my reputation as the girl with her head in a million places at once who doesn't finish things.

So where is the one-project too many?  A set of dishclothes that I really want to weave for my mother in law because she asked for them last year and weaving is so relaxing when your knitting makes you crazy.  Maybe I can do two for her for Mother's day 2011.  They are just a weekend project.  But I just don't think I can handle having them done for Christmas.

Let's just forget about the spinning for now, and I'm officially dropping out of the Phat Fiber boxes.  I just have way too much on my plate to try keep my fingers in all the pies.

I'm starting to doubt my theory that knitting is good therapy for people with ADD.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Ah-ha!!!  The snow has started falling...and falling and falling!  This makes me pretty happy.  Hopefully I'll have a good picture of it tomorrow.  :)

Merry Christmas. Where's my snow?

I am a bitter old woman.  I don't think there is any way around admitting that.  I'm very bitter.

At the moment, my bitterness is twofold.
First, a BIIIIIIIIIIGGGGG (!!!!) winter storm is supposed to be attacking Ontario and Quebec today.  Loads of heavy snow.  Blizzards.  Whiteouts!  Snow Squalls!!

Except in my area, where warm air is causing not snow, but rain.

WHY IS IT RAINING?!?!  Christmas is in 2 weeks less a day.  I feel I have been more than patient with the weather.  Tomorrow, we've been warned to expect an arctic blast.  So we will get plenty of ice when all this rain freezes.  I feel more strongly than ever that I'm being seriously ripped off this winter.  Just like last winter.

I think I need to move back to Newfoundland.  I do love a good heavy snow.  Honestly.  I even like shovelling.  I'm really, really weird that way.

On top of this, I got a very exciting delivery yesterday.  My husband ordered me the double treadle kit for my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel.  It's a Christmas present.  I knew it would come before Christmas, though.  So I was hoping to be able to put it to some use before December 25. 

Apparently not.  Apparently being a Christmas gift means that it must stay under the Christmas tree until December 25.  Does H not know me AT ALL??  It sits there, pristine in it's Canada Post box.  Staring at me!  I gaze longingly at it, knowing it's there, unable to touch it at all.

Who knew that seeing your gift under the tree could be so effective in creating that childlike anticipation of Christmas morning.  ...If I make it till Christmas morning, that is.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dorothy: a little loom

Sometimes, when I know I shouldn't, I like to troll Kijiji for killer deals.  I especially like the sort of deal where you get lots and lots of stuff for not very much money.

Such a deal was found yesterday.  A beautiful LeClerc table loom.  There was almost no information on it, and no picture.  It was listed at $50.  I nearly died right then and there.  She said it was working, and so I emailed her to ask for a picture.  She did not send me a picture, but she described it to me, gave me her phone number, said she'd gotten a surprising (to her, not to me) number of calls on the loom, and it would be sold to the first person who showed up at her front door with the cash.  She said she was pretty sure it was a LeClerc Dorothy loom, since that's what it looked like to her.  Also, it had a warping board with it. 

Well!!!  If I could have gone to pick it up at 10pm last night, I would have!!  But that seemed a bit unreasonable, so I promised to show up today with cash in hand.  She said she would consider it sold to me. 

She put it aside, and I booted my crafty little bum over there as promptly as I could today (calling before I left to make sure no one else had sniped it).  It was there in all it's weaving glory, shining out like a table top beacon of light.  I took my loom and thanked her profusely for it. 

The warping board is missing the pegs, but I don't even care.  ;) 

It's a LeClerc Dorothy 15 3/4" 4-shaft loom.  The least expensive of the LeClerc Dorothy looms.  Retails for $675 (Canadian).

I'm pretty happy with my deal.  Saving money feels really awesome!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Naming Conventions

I think one of the most fun parts of designing stuff is coming up with fun names.  For example, my latest pattern (which will be available for free) was originally designed under the name "Last Minute Beret".  But that seems boring.  Yes, it does convey the idea that this is a quick and easy knit, but it just didn't really do it for me.

I though perhaps "Christmas Eve Beret" would be better, but then...what if you don't celebrate Christmas?  What if you have a friend with a winter birthday?

After some deep thought, I've finally settled on "Tam O'Quickness".  Much better, don't you think?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

every once in a while

Every once in a while you get to enjoy a moment of happiness that is so blissful and real that it makes you giggle, squeal, and make your significant other ask you if you need a paper bag.

Such moments as these tend to happen when you've been trying really hard to make something happen and then it just happens.  That kind of pure happy makes you feel slightly giddy and can even bring tears (of joy) to your eyes.

Remember how I've been writing about that sweater for KnitPicks?

Here it is!!!

It might not seem like that big of a deal, but it's pretty big to me.  :)