Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sweater and floors and cats, oh my!

So not too long after my last post, I repacked my suitcases and headed for another vacation but this time in Charleston, SC. A dear friend flew in from South Africa and we headed for the coast and the charm of the South. It was wonderful. Warm with sea breezes, sunny days and good company. I was so sad when she left.
This has been a year for friends and adventures and I count myself as lucky.
The weather hereabouts has been varied, to say the least. A wonderful balmy week followed by grey skies and rain. I enjoy both and as I am 100% certain that we are not heading back into Winter, I am enjoying the lazy days.
Meanwhile I used the opportunity of being out of the house to get the hardwood floors upstairs refinished. I came back to the awful smell of oil finished floors and years and years of accumulated stuff everywhere.

Still, the floors look great. I am a little in love with my house.



Meanwhile I am using this chaos to carefully go through everything and clear it all out. It's going to take forever. A normal and healthy person would just go through everything tossing out what was not needed and moving forward. I have a true horror of wasting everything so a lot of time is spent trying to figure out how to recycle things and make sure nothing is trashed unnecessarily, and my other major hindrance is my extreme sentimentality. I have realized that I can only do this process successfully by doing it in small amounts. When I go downstairs I try to take something out the house, and when I walk into one of the 2 crazy rooms (2 are livable, 2 are chaos) I try to address one small and confined area. It's working for me but it would definitely drive a lot of people crazy.

One of the big jobs that I finished this week was taking a paper bag full of CD's that had jpeg files from 2003 loaded onto them, and getting then uploaded onto my hard drive and onto the cloud. I can now discard the CD's, the CD covers and the paper bag it was in. Such a trivial thing but I've been meaning to do it for years and I love that it no longer occupies space in my home and in my mind.

As far as les tricot goes, I have finished some things and started some more. I have only purchased yarn and fiber twice so far this year. The Hill Country Spinner's Retreat (oh boy, did I blow the budget) and then I bought some of Malcom Fielding's corriedale top as it's heavenly stuff and I wanted some. The Knitmore Girls are having a Spin-A-Long, Knit-A-Long soon and this might be what I choose to spin. If it arrives in time.
I am halfway through the Mondo Cable Pulli. Here is the swatch.


Thrilling stuff, right? I understand that it's just a cream colored swatch, with little of interest. But the yarn is from Brooks farm, Rialta, and is discontinued. I bought it from SAFF last year and I have 4 skeins of the wool, mohair and silk  blend. It's a worsted weight and I'm knitting it with size 6 needles and I think I'm vaguely at gauge. It's meant to be a warm, loose sweater that can be worn with jeans. I've planned on making it since the first evening of SAFF, and it's rather a pleasant feeling that it's being done.
I am also working on a handspun cardigan with size 15 needles! I have never knit with anything that large and I only have a set as they were on sale a few years ago and I got a really good deal. This sweater is either going to be adorable or will need to be frogged immediately. As it has taken me 2 evenings to get halfway through this cardigan, the time invested is minimal and I could deal with a leap in the frog pond. If necessary. Who knows? Maybe I will love it. So far it's incredibly soft.

And of course there is more. But I have errands to run and cucumbers and mint to buy, so that will need to be for another day. Are y'all ok? I have been a poor friend and I'm sorry for it. To make it up to you I leave you with a picture of my irritating cat, Frankie, likes to sleep in beds like people. He's ridiculous.


I did not put him there. That is how I found him. He looked at me and then closed his eyes and went back to sleep. I am of no consequence.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Um. Hello?

True confession. I am only writing this because there are two large Eastern European men in my spare bedroom ripping out the disgusting carpet in there. I feel I should be available but don't want to be seen doing nothing while they work. So here, I am.
I have been planning to get the hardwood floors refinished in the upstairs for oh, about as long as I've lived here and they are tackling what I consider a hell of a job with nonchalance and casual ease that is making me rethink my entire approach to life. What it must be to be strong and experienced and not require small breaks every 30 minutes when attempting to do anything home improvement related. They are also getting paid a lot more to do the hardwoods than I would be.

Right now there is a lot of hammering. And they had to move so much junk out of the spare room (I work part time as a hoarder) that I found several items to give away as penance. I even threw out a broken ceramic jelly mould that I can't think for the life of me why I never tossed out.
But the ways of the part time hoarder are mysterious and clouded by Freudian psychology, even to those of us who practise it.

So here I sit. Huddled in the study and typing away to look busy and productive so that my hardwood floor people don't judge me. I'm choosing to ignore how horribly influenced I am by complete strangers' opinions of me and see this as an opportunity to reconcile myself with the long suffering blog.

As far as craft updates go, I am recently back from Texas. The wonderful Hill Country that has now become an enormously important part of my year. I saw my wonderful friends, took daily naps and spent a lot of time reflecting on how much I have learned over the last 4 years of attending this retreat and spending time with these people and Judith Mackenzie. This year the theme was plying and for me personally the parts I learnt the most from were the multi-plies and the woolen spinning. I am slowly coming to terms with long draw and battled through camel cloud, camel top, camel and silk top, and polwarth. Interestingly the easiest for me was the camel cloud. I messed the polwarth up dreadfully on the first go round and then nailed it on the second. The camel top was iffy but I have the feeling that if I tried it again, I would be golden!

So progress. Progress without pictures. I surrendered myself to enjoying this weekend and not feeling the urge to capture it in a photo so that I can keep it forever. Turning 40 has apparently allowed me to let go of things more easily. Either that or I was tired and just didn't care.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Looking for rainbows.

There's been a lot of this.


And this.


And a lot of muddy paws resulting from this.


There's also been a lot of baking, tv watching and general lazing around and taking it easy during our precious snow days, but the snow has now officially left us and instead we were treated to an incredibly loud thunderstorm at 3am this morning.
 As a die hard romantic/escapist/fantasist type, I love a thunderstorm. But as an almost 40 year old with poor sleep habits and a penchant for reading past midnight, I resent being woken up at 3am. And when I say loud, I mean house vibrating loud. The lightning was impressive too and after worrying a little about my tv I ended up bumbling my way downstairs in the dark to go and yank the plug so that my electronics didn't get fried. And then back upstairs to lie in the bed and resent not sleeping. I would have practiced my tossing and turning except that all 3 animals were nervous and were sleeping as close as they could get to me. I was trapped in fur and sheets and could do nothing but count the seconds between lightning and thunder. It wasn't as interesting as I'm making it sound.

As an antidote to all the white and now the grey, I started spinning some colour.
It's a BMFA club fibre and the colourway name is Prism, base is Polwarth.


I'm making the most of every moment of crafting as we are short handed at work and I am working extra. Again.
I like helping out when I can, I really do, but I'm tired and grumpy and feeling out of sorts. Every day has to start with me trying to talk myself into getting out of bed and not spending the day dreading the next one.
That's a lousy way to live.
I really need to disengage for a little bit but there's no hope of that right now. I was so grateful for those snow days as it made me stop and take a break, but the truth is that until there's a little more steadiness in my work schedule, I'm going to find the day to day stuff hard. Oh, well. Plenty of people have it so much worse than me that I'm ashamed of complaining. I am a firm believer that you can teach an old dog new tricks so I'm just going to keep trying to focus on each moment and not dread tomorrow so much. Tomorrow will be dealt with later.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I keep finding more stuff!

I should be honest. If it wasn't for the fact that I had to get on line and cancel a check, I would have skipped this little scribble. I blame winter. I blame me. I blame the fact that I have kept the heat at 65F for months so the only warm room in the house is the tv room. So many excuses.
Plus there is the whole working all the time thing.

Today it is cold and snowy and rather beautiful. I spent a good hour or so this morning curled up on the living room sofa watching the snow fall and restraining myself from going, "Ooh" all morning long. It wasn't bad.

And as I continue to finish up old projects, I have noticed a different kind of unfinished thing in my house. Wound up and balled hanks of yarn with no purpose.
Allow me to demonstrate.



And wait, look over here.


Not to mention these bags of mystery.


Who knows what lurks in there? Or in this one.


I'm sharing these because the first step in a 12 step program is always to admit you have a problem. I have a finishing problem.

So I am using the Ravellenics to keep up with my goal of dealing with this problem.
It starts with this.


That is a bag full of an unfinished Mitered Crosses blanket. Started in 2011. Gulp.
Here's what I have before the games began.



I need 9 more squares. I'm on it.

PS. Baby Mikey says "hi"!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Smug

I am a good girl.
I continue to knit from stash.
I continue to discard the unnecessary and unwanted.
I feel self righteous and slightly supercilious when I hear others talk about buying yarn.
I'm sure I would be horrid to speak with right now.

In the interest of vain and self-glorifying boasting, let me begin.

My niece's Lush cardigan is complete. I used yarn that was at least 6 years old and although I only used 2.5 of the 5 balls, that's space for 2.5 more balls of yarn that couldn't fit in the yarn closet before.

I don't have any pictures of her wearing it because I never remember that part, but it's done.


It's short sleeved (duh!) and has a ton of little pearly buttons up the front. It fits like a dream. And not only was this stash, but the pattern for Lush came from a Tin Can Knits books that I already owned. I am tempted to say that this cardigan cost me nothing in materials, but I would have to qualify that by saying that it cost me nothing this year…

I immediately lit upon the next hapless yarn victim. I had selected a Carol Feller pattern called Caherciveen. (And if you can pronounce that then please drop me a line. My Gaelic is poor, to say the least. I know how to pronounce Siobhan and that's it.)

It's from her book called Contemporary Irish Knits.


I already had the book and the yarn because I had ordered both over a year ago and knit myself a very simple cardigan out of it. The yarn I used was Kilcarra Aran Tweed. It's a  very rustic yarn that will not work for next of skin even for the hardiest of souls, but for a sweater vest or sleeveless pullover or whatever you choose to call it, it's perfect.

The garment has cables and texture. My favorites. Right now, it's drying in front of the fire.


And I'm now working on a WIP. A cardigan from Cecily Glowik Macdonald called Kara. I started it in february of last year. I can get this done by the end of this month. I know I can.


It's a simple lace repeat in a cotton linen blend of yarn from Rowan called Creative Linen. I'm not really in love with the colour anymore and think that I might take it with me to our retreat in Texas and put it in the indigo vat.

I'm so happy with this process. Long may it continue.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Facing the yarn...

So clean up and toss out continues. (I really should come up with a fancy name for all of this. Something bold, assertive and predictable. Like Operation: Tidyupyourcrap. That might work.)
 I am slowly easing into the hard stuff like bed linens.
 I have a 'thing' for sheets and duvet covers and find them hard to part with because you know, one day you're going to need them.
When you have a sheet emergency. Those happen all the time, in my head.
Meanwhile I have all these sheets and duvet covers and pillowcases for double and queen size beds and I own neither one of those anymore. This week I packed up a cream embroidered duvet cover and 2 pillowcases and it's in the give away pile. Admittedly normal people are probably scratching their heads and looking puzzled at what they could only consider a minor event, but I say that's progress. I deserve a reward! Maybe new sheets?

And there has been a concerted effort to organize and pack away fibre and yarn. It's been great to see piles of stuff disappear but I keep finding yarn that isn't logged onto my Ravelry stash, so the number that I already thought was crazy, is apparently not the actual number of skeins of yarn that I own. Oops. It's worse than I thought.

For instance, here are some skeins that I found a few days ago.
The first is Broken Pattern, specifically their sock yarn in the colourway 'Berries'.


I found 2 skeins of Dyeabolical Strong Arm Skinny Sock. The first is the colour 'Firefly' and I want to knit it now!


And then their "Flower Shop Inferno". Pretty stuff.


And I think this is what is worrying me about my stash. I want to knit all the things in all the patterns but having too much yarn and buying too much yarn is a) preventing me from following through with my original plans, and b) resulting in my losing track of what I own.
 And so I persevere.
 No new purchases.
Go stash shopping, go cold sheep, haul out the old yarn diet or whatever it's called. The time has come to use it or lose it. (I type this while making nervous faces at the computer. I feel a stumble in my future…)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking back and starting to look forward.

And hello from a very cold and rainy day. A grey day. It's also the last day of my brief 6 day vacation. I had one of those vaguely anxious and disturbed nights with little sleep and a lot of waking up and worrying. It is familiar to me from exams, immigration and just general life. Work. It's a privilege but I am shallow enough to dream of winning the lottery…

Anyhow. I've spent a nice enough day with the background soundtrack of Agatha Christie's 'Postern of Fate." It's a Tommy and Tuppence mystery for the Christie fans and I'm rather fond of the two of them. This is the last book she wrote and that seems significant as she was so prolific. It's downloaded from the Audible website and it's narrated by Hugh Fraser. Incidentally he takes the role of Hastings on the BBC recurring series of 'Poirot'. I love this recording, but some random person named Dawn on the Audible website has reviewed it as 'boring'. So now you have my opinion and the mysterious Dawn's. You're on your own.

As far as my goals that I listed for my vacation, I feel like there has been real progress. Of the two items that were on spinning wheels, one is complete.
It's a wonderful batt that I had bought from Judith Mackenzie in March and I forced myself to spin long draw to try and complete the woolen process of making yarn. It's not fine and elegant but I've got decent yardage, and more importantly, a yarn that I want to knit with.


I love this red.

I also finished seaming my Livingstone cardigan. Really, it just needed the collar seamed onto it and the toggles stitched. It fits wonderfully and that was quite by chance because I simply knit a pattern size and hope for the best. Not a swatch in sight. There would be pictures but my phone and I are on the outs. Photos won't upload without tremendous effort on my part, and well frankly it's too cold and grey and too close to going back to work for me to pick a fight with the iPhone.

I have also discarded an entire shopping bag full of yarn. And I don't have a qualm. In fact after working through and packing neatly my stash of yarn and fibre, I wish I could have found more to discard…
I must spin some of this fiber. It's ridiculous!

I still need to finish up the fiber on my Hanson mini spinner but I was lured by a pretty marigold colored braid of merino and by frankly bribing myself by promising to spin it with longdraw as part of my attempt to improve my woolen spinning, I succumbed and popped it on the wheel. I'm hoping to finish it tonight.

So I think that's pretty good. I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled with my toasty new sweater, I'm excited about my woolen yarn and I've started to really clarify what my ambitions are for this year. I think that's a good start.