30 March 2006

Rogue update and counting sheep.

First, I did work some on Rogue Monday evening. I got through the front shaping to the point where the neck divides - so only about 30 rows, but progress is progress.

I've also been working slowly on the arm warmers. I'm past the split for the thumb on the first one and am almost ready to do the last bit of ribbing to finish it off. It should be complete tonight during my commute home. And then I get to start fretting that I'm not going to have enough yarn left to make the second one as long. *sigh*

Last night I went out to the farm Deb works on and saw lots and lots and lots of little lambs. Lots of them. The flock they have is rather large and they started lambing a week or so ago. Several of the ewes had single lambs, but many more have had twins or triplets. In fact, one of the ewes had just recently lambed with triplets - they were still damp when we got there. They're very cute and they have this adorable little hop thing they do. I wasn't brave enough to pick one up - didn't want to spook the little guys - but I did pet several and they're very soft. It was dusk when I got to the farm and the barn was dark so I didn't get any pictures (I didn't want to spook them with the flash).

Deb said I can come back when they first let them out to pasture (which is apparently amusing because they don't know what to do or where to go, so they run around like mad little beasties and bleat) and then again when they shear later in the spring. I'll try to get pictures then.

The breed is Clun Forest, and they're originally from Scotland. Apparently the women who own the flock like these particular sheep because they're relatively small, are good mothers and lamb easily, and produce good wool for hand spinners. Looks like I'm going to have to learn to clean and process a fleece soon!

27 March 2006

A loom of another color..

Some pictures of my weekend activities:

This is my tablet weaving loom, all warped up.

My dad made the loom for me for Christmas. I had put one of Herveus's looms on my Wish List and, being dad, he said "I can make that" and he did. I've never seen one of Herveus's looms in person, so I don't know how close mine is to one of Herveus's, but in looking at the photos, they're pretty close.

And here it is after working a band for a few feet..

You can see a little better in this show how it all works - but it's a pretty simple design - as you work the band, the roller at the front takes up the finished work and the unworked warp is spooled off the back roller. The two racheted wheels allow you to keep the tension even as you progress through the piece. I must say, I really love this loom. It really makes it much easier to work on a band than an inkle loom. It's so contained and neat and portable and I can work on it in my lap, which means I should be able to work on it in the car.

.. and here's a closer shot of the band pattern.

It's just a simple woven in pattern. I turn the cards one direction until the twist build up is too much and then I reverse and turn the cards in the other direction. The photo above shows a point where I switched turning direction. The little bit of pink showing is the weft - in tablet weaving the weft almost never shows, but when you switch turning directions you create longer floats that don't hide the weft as well.

Once I'm through with this band, I have plans to warp up a much narrower band in some 60/2 silk I have from Handweaver's Studio. I have a few colors and haven't decided yet which ones I want to work with, or what pattern I want to use, but since there's still quite a bit of warp left on this one, I have some time to figure that out.

And while I'm posting pictures, here's one of the arm warmers I'm making, in progress. I've started to divide for the thumb and will work a pattern repeat back-and-forth and then rejoin for one more half repeat and then do a few rows of the twisted rib to finish it off.

And tonight is Rogue Monday, but I'm not sure I'm motivated to drag out the charts (I have the embossed leaves pattern for the armwarmers memorized, so it's close to mindless at this point). We'll see. If I do, I'll post pictures tomorrow.

25 March 2006

Saturday evening amusements

So, one of my guilty pleasures is musicals. Old musicals, typically. Tonights gem is Camelot - the one with Richard Burton. I haven't seen it in years, though I have the Broadway soundtrack burned into my tablet, so I know most of the songs by heart. The scenes, however, are a little more fleeting. So I was amused to discover that when talking to the first knight during "Then You May Take Me To the Fair", Guinevre is balling yarn and the knight is holding the skein. *chuckle*

I've decided that the Embossed Leaves socks aren't going to be socks, but instead elbow length half-gloves. But I haven't made much progress on them; I'm about half way through the first one.

Instead, I decided that this weekend I would warp my new tablet weaving loom. I screwed up the continuous warp which meant I had to tie more knots than I think I would have otherwise, but it's now warped with a 24 card pattern in simple chevrons and I've worked about a foot of the band. Just meant to get me reacquainted with it. Next I intend to warp it up with some silk and try to make trim or bookmarks or some such again. I'm not sure I'm up for a full double-face, double-turn pattern - it's just too futzy and requires too much attention and I'm not sure I'm up to that much focus at the moment - but I can work on something simple. I did take pictures of the loom warped and will try to post them tomorrow.

And I might even be able to post pictures of lambs! Deb invited me out to the farm she lives on to see the spring lambs and I'm rather excited to go out and visit. I might even be able to make arrangements to get some fleece once they shear the flock in a month or two. And I'm told they slaughter a few each year, too, so I'm contemplating trying to cook lamb and/or mutton.. not sure how I feel about that, though.

Oh, and while I'm at it, Houston County Women's Resources annual Bowl-a-thon is April 30, so if anyone here would be interested in pledging me as a bowler (either per-pin (3 games total) or flat pledge), drop me a note. It all goes to support HCWR's services for women and children victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, including their short-term and transitional housing programs. (There's half a post written in my head about the recent passage by the MN state house of a bill that would "allow" local law enfocement to ask about immigration status, ostensibly to increase communication between local law enforcement and "Homeland Security".. yeah.. not happy about what that might mean for immigrant victims of domestic violence, who are already often afraid to go to the police because in their native countries the laws don't protect women. It just adds another reason for victims not to go to the police, which abusers will *know* and use against victims to add to their power through fear of deportation if they report the abuse. Disgusting. Really, truly, honestly. Makes me sick. Which is why it's only half a post and still mostly in my head.. I can't get past my rage to be properly analytical. But I really need to write something official - like a letter to my state representative and/or a letter to the editor of one of the larger area newspapers - expressing my disgust, so it might show up here as well.)

22 March 2006


There are three administrative assistants in our office that the six administrators share (e.g., I share an admin assistant with my boss, which works well because she has lots of work for our admin assistant and I have .. well, almost none). One of the three ("mine") is out this week and another's ("mine"'s backup, which is really only important in that it's my boss's backup) computer is being completely overhauled by ITS. This makes for a rough week for "mine"'s backup, who really needs to have access to a computer to support my boss and her two regular folks.

Fortunately, I have two computers (a desktop that is rather seriously tricked out because it is the sole repository for a fair amount of data(let's not get into the ways this is a generally Bad Idea(tm)) (and, yes, it's backed up weekly to a separate drive), and my tablet which is still pretty tricked out, but which I tend not to use when I'm actually in my office for much other than music) and not many meetings this week, so my tablet has been donated to the cause.

But I'm spoiled, see. Because I'm really used to listening to my music all day. *sigh* (Yes, I'm a brat, I know.) And while I could just plug the speakers into the desktop and find an online radio station, I'm feeling petulant that I can't listen to *my* music.

Another way in which I've been spoiled, at least in the last 12 hours, is by the introduction of acetaminopehn with codeine into my life. The tooth issues*, after much consultation with my dentist, are on hold until Tuesday (it's a long and not terribly interesting story, but Tuesday is when the new permanent crown goes on), but since the pain is uncontrollable by ibuprofen overnight, which means I'm not sleeping, my dentist prescribed Tylenol-3 for me. Nice stuff. I still woke up every four hours to take more, but I almost immediately fell back asleep every time. Here's to 10 hours of only minimally interrupted sleep!

All this tooth drama and house progress, though, means I'm not doing anything really fiber-related. I finished the green cotton socks, though, and decided that I was being silly in insisting that the red skein not be socks and cast on for the Embossed Leaves socks from the Winter 2005 "Interweave Knits". The yarn is thicker so my gauge is larger, but given that the pattern as written is too small for my feet, I'm thinking it will work out right in the end. I have a(nother) work-related car trip tomorrow that has something like 5 hours car-time, so I expect I'll get the first one finished then. (Wasn't there some knit-along going on having to do with red socks..?)

* Yeah, so the antibiotics stopped the swelling, but now the crowned tooth is *really* cranky. Likely because we took off a permanent crown and re-built up for a new one, so it's feeling terribly exposed and abused and therefore justifiably cranky, but that doesn't help that I've not slept more than a couple hours at a stretch for a few nights. Without rest, the tooth isn't likely to calm down, but until the tooth calms down, I'm not getting any rest. Love that kind of catch-22 stuff. *sigh*

19 March 2006

Be nice to your mother.

On a more or less random spur of the moment decision, I called my parents last Wednesday or so and asked if they'd bring dad's little truck down to help us get rid of the (nastyrattyheavy) couch that we inherited with the house*. We could get it out and had a place to take it, but not a vehicle large enough to transport it between the two. They had no other plans**, so arrived yesterday morning***.

In more or less short order, Dad and Jack finished moving the futon downstairs and then started moving the bed from the old-bedroom-new-craftroom to the new-bedroom-old-craftroom. The bed is a hardwood futon that my dad made and is somewhat heavy and cumbersome to move. So that took a bit, but they got it moved and then ripped out the mauve shag carpet remnant to get back down to the hardwood floors. Then we moved the rest of the furniture (two dressers, two book cases, a desk, a small chest of drawers, a bedside table) between the two rooms and the boys took the couch to the dump and mom and I reshelved books and put clothes away.

Then the real fun began. *smile* We went to Home Depot, where we opened a credit account (because it got us 10% off our purchases for the day and if we spent over $300 we would get no interest, no payments for a year) and proceeded to buy.. over $300 worth of home improvement stuff. Namely, we got stuff to strip the woodwork around the windows and doors, including a little Ryobi Corner Cat Finish Sander; a programmable thermostat (finally!); a new toilet seat for the upstairs bathroom; a new vacuum (just a little one (we only have one room with real carpet), but bagless and with a HEPA filter); and vinyl mini-blinds for 10 of the windows (the ones that had shades). A quick stop at Target netted two hampers, but we weren't able to find a reasonably priced area rug for the bedroom, so we'll still need to pick that up at some point.

Once we got home (after dinner at Famous Dave's), Jack installed one of the blinds in the new bedroom while dad installed the new thermostat and I installed the new toilet seat. This morning, we finished installing the blinds and I organized the craft room and did laundry. And vacuumed.

I must say, I really love how much lighter things are with the blinds. We used to keep the shades pulled by default because we live on a corner and didn't like random passers-by being able to see our every move. With the blinds, we can slant them and still get the light, but also maintain our privacy. Definitely worth it. And now there are no more pink (yes, they were pink, with little lace edges) blinds in the living room.

And my craft room is marvelous. Without the futon, there's room to put up the larger table, which means both the sewing machine and the serger can be set up, and there's still space for at least one of my looms on the table. And I finally have a long enough continuous surface to set up a warping area so I can *finally* warp the loom dad made me for Christmas. Under table storage space works well for yarn and fabric. The desk is still available for paperwork and such, though the filing needs to find a more useful spot to live. Now all it needs is .. chairs.

And I think that Jack is rather more fond of the futon in the living room than the old couch. He's napping on it, fully stretched out, while pretending to watch "Firefly".


*In due defense of the previous owners, they asked if we wanted the couch; we said "Sure" because we didn't think we'd have enough furniture to fill out the rooms in the house. We were right, but the kind of furniture we need more of is chairs, not couches.

**Well, really, they *had* other plans, or at least dad did. He was going to go to my sister's house to help them work on their bathroom (the second one they're refinishing - they've been in their house much longer than we've been in ours), but my neice was sick all last week with the flu (and ended up being admitted to the hospital for fluids and observation Friday night). Since Kaleigh'd been sick, dad decided to go next weekend instead, leaving this weekend more or less free.

***Yesterday morning was somewhat busy before they arrived, as well. See, I got up at six, left for the pharmacy****, and then had a two hour pseudo-Board meeting at which we didn't have a quorum, but did manage to get some planning accomplished. When I got home at 10:45, Jack had also been industrious: he had moved the couch to the porch and also brought the futon from the old-craft-room-new-bedroom down to the living room.

****Backtrack a day or two, and we can observe our heroine start what would be a four-day (and counting, though it's admittedly only annoying anymore) odessy in acute pain. Seems the crown build up on Monday aggravated a dying nerve in another tooth (at least, I'm pretty sure it's another tooth)*&. Since it was Friday evening before I finally capitulated and decided I couldn't make it through the weekend on 4 ibuprofen every 4 hours, I called my dentist and she called in a prescription for penicillin that should at least kill the infection and, thereby, stop the immediate acute pain. (It's starting to work. Mostly. Except that it was 10 p.m. and I didn't feel like making the hour round trip into La Crosse to pick it up since the most recent dose of Advil was working. Then.

*&Tooth, which, if it's the tooth I think it is (and, as I said, I'm pretty sure which tooth it is), they did a root canal on a year ago. Yeah. 'Cept that said tooth started aching a couple months ago again - nothing so strong as it was before the root canal - and when I mentioned it to the dentist during my semiannual exam, he (not my regular dentist, who is a she) said that he thought the the crown which was not seated all the way and therefore causing issues with my bite, and that was pr'bly really the cause of the pain, not the possibility of an additional root that they missed*%%. So nothing happened with the "phantom" root, but the crown at least is getting replaced.

*%%Yeah, see that whole dead roots are s'posed to show up on x-ray thing appears not to work for me. So they're sort of limited in their diagnosis options for me on this one.

14 March 2006

On Fug (which is also an F-word, you'll notice.)

(No, not like that kind of F-word (well, really, yes, exactly like that kind of F-word, but that's beside the point); what I *mean* is the kind of F-word that would also work for an entry in the ABC-along.)

So, I'm a little (pr'bly completely unjustifiably) self-satisfied at the moment. I'm managing to slowly but surely introduce the term "fugly" into the administration here. *beam*

As I recently explained to a colleague after sending her a link to Go Fug Yourself by way of explanation, "They comment on what passes for "fashion" these days. I've simply adapted the word for my own personal uses to describe what sometimes passes for data."

(This was sent to the same woman who has deemed me a "Data Call Girl" because I reprimanded her when she made the (joking and in-passing) comment that I was a "Data Slut" and would do anything for data. I said I'd do anything for *good* data, which apparently moves me up the food chain.)

And now I'm finding myself wondering if there's a way to work the pizza euphemism (is bad pizza really better than no pizza?) into the vocabulary of the adminstration.. might be a little tricker, given that the original euphemism relates to more prurient matters.

12 March 2006

F is for..

I see that I've been beaten to the punch on this one, but F is for flowers for me, too. Specifically, I like houseplants that bloom and I've discovered that the north facing window in my office is ideal for violets:

.. and, after years of inactivity, Christmas cactuses.

The violets (I have two small plants, both of which bloom purple) have bloomed steadily and continuously since I put them in the window. They're watered at least weekly (twice a week when I remember) with water and Miracle Gro for Violets. I bottom water them, as I'm told that's what violets like, and clean off old blooms and dying/limp leaves about once a month.

The cactus has just started blooming, since I put it in the window about two months ago after hearing someone say that the blooming is triggered by changes in daylight. True to form, I now have three blooms in various states. I'm nor sure if it will continue to bloom, but having seen it at least once I'm confident that I can make it bloom at least annually now. It's also watered once a week with Miracle Gro.

(The window is also, incidentally, good for other, non-blooming plants, but most of those also do just as well on my desk for filing cabinets. I did move the aloe up to the window though because it seems to particularly like the natural light.)

And you really shouldn't be at all surprised at this, but F is also for fiber. Carol decided she needed to feed my addiction this weekend and gifted me with this lovely roving that she dyed with cochineal:

The color in the picture is a bit brighter than in person - they're more of a dusty rose hue and not quite so shockingly pink. There is more of it that she told me to take, but it was part of an A&S display and I thought it deserved more recognition than it would get if I stole it away. I'm going to try to spin the two balls up consistently and then ply them together and hopefully I'll have enough to do at least accent colorwork on a hat and/or pair of mittens.

I'm also trying to figure out plying, but I'm not sure I'm doing it correctly. I wanted to be able to distinguish the plys, so I decided to make my first attempt using two different colored singles. The singles have been wound into center-pull balls. I know I'm s'posed to spin the spindle in the opposite direction as I do when I normally spin, but if I do that and let the resulting yarn relax, it gets all crunched up.

If I spin it the other direction, it still twists up on itself, but it does it the way singles will spin up on themselves, which makes me think that's just a sign of unbalanced yarn, not incorrect plying. I'm trying to figure out if winding it into the center pull balls means that I'm working from the "wrong" end, and I therefore *should* be plying the same direction that I spin. It doesn't help that I'm using singles that are slightly different weights and almost certainly have different amounts of twist, so I'm sure the resultant yarn will be unbalanced.

And I'm not at all sure what to do next. I don't have a niddy noddy but I think that's the next step - skein the yarn and then figure out how to relax it (soak the skein? or do I do that before I skein it?), but I think it's pr'bly time to start gathering a library on spinning to rival my (admittedly small but useful) library on knitting.

I wonder if I can talk my husband into a run into town to Barnes & Noble..? *grin*

09 March 2006

Post-Olympics projecting..

So, the Olympics are over and as much as I love my Fair Isle 101 sweater, I've not been terribly interested in knitting much lately. This is not all that surprising - in addition to having just finished a large and intense period of knitting every day, work has gone somewhat 'splodey (it's not only "survey season" it's also when all the committees on campus realize they have reports due and start requesting data, and when faculty start thinking about summer research projects and want to meet to discuss what data might be available for them to work with, not to mention that I have been or will be in Madison nearly every week this month for various meetings and appointments (though one of those trips is personal, admittedly)), and it's time for spring and summer eventing to pick up, so I need to devote at least a little time to getting ready for that.

So, I haven't done much knitting. I think I mentioned (maybe?) that I finished the second pair of cotton socks awhile back. I'm now finished with the first sock of the third pair, so I've got some fun new socks to wear, but that's about the extent of my new projects. I'll try to remember to get pics of the socks at some point.

I've continued to work on Rogue, though not really as vigorously as originally. I forget if this week was the 4th or the 5th, but I think it's the 5th. I don't have a photo (I don't think) of where I was after last week, but I had divided for the front and back. This week I finished the back:

Not very exciting, but progress all the same. Hopefully by Monday I'll have some renewed energy to tackle the front with the neck shaping/cable (though I'm having a crown build-up done Monday morning, for which I'll be sedated and therefore have the day off; that either means I'll get more time to knit once the sedative wears off, or I'll not be at all interested in knitting because I'll be groggy and in pain).

So what, you might ask, *have* I been doing, since it's fairly well established that I'm no good at not doing anything.

Yup. That's not the RAOK from mamacate, though. It's a bit of unknown (at least to me) grey roving that Pixel gave me (gosh was it really two years ago?) to use to start to learn to spin. It languished, but now that I have a better handle on what I'm doing, I'm spinning it up. Now that I have the basics more or less down, I'm trying to work on consistency of spin and thickness. I tend to draft "too long", so the spin doesn't work through the yarn with the same consistency - some is overspun and some is underspun - so I'm trying to figure out my optimal draft length (I'm sure there are technical terms for all this that I'm simply too lazy to look up). I think once I get that part down, I'll be all ready to attempt plying with this yarn (they make it sound so easy, but I'm dubious!). And then I'll move onto the RAOK from mamacate and see about making my first real, well-balanced yarn with which I can knit a real finished project!

Not a matter of trust.

If you don't want children, make your own decisions and take your own actions to see that you don't create them. Both men and women are perfectly capable of reducing the odds of conception, so saying that your "ex-girlfriend had [your] child after telling [you] she could not get pregnant" means you don't have to then provide support for said child is the height of irresponsibility. Grow up.

There's an "E" post on it's way, as well as an update on some knitting and spinning, but it may be a bit before they get here. Sorry!

02 March 2006

E is for earthenware.

Though I'm not regularly in a studio at the moment (my last space was an hour drive in one direction and when gas prices shot up last summer, it became too expensive to make the trip; I've been unable to locate anything closer), I have been a potter off and on for the last dozen or so years and worked in studios literally spanning the country.

I've worked with stoneware, porcelain and earthenware, though earthenware is both the one I've worked with most and arguably the most common clay used in the US by recreational potters. Earthenware clay can come in a variety of base colors, each of which will look different after the firing and under the same glaze. My most recent studio stocked both red and white earthenware, but I worked mostly with the white earthenware because I liked that it was a little more versatile and would show the "true" glaze color.

This piece is a vase or pen holder or whatnot that was glazed with a turquoise crackle glaze that made it non-food-safe (whatever's in the glaze to make it crackle isn't safe to ingest, if I recall correctly).

My candy dish at work is also one of my pieces, one of my favorite, actually. Because I have only worked sporadically and usually for no more than 8 to 10 months at a stretch, working up to larger forms is something I have to do every time I get back in a studio. So to have a larger serving bowl come out so well is somewhat of a point of pride. I also have a smaller bowl that I like to use at home for soup and ice cream done with this lilac glaze.

A dear friend I met in Chicago who now lives in far off Delaware makes an absolutely fabulous baked brie with brown sugar and raisins that is To Die For(tm). She has a perfect little dish from Pampered Chef to make her brie in, but I frequently fall victim to the "I can make that!" bug and decided to try my own. The glaze on this one ran a bit, so there's a bit of kiln wash stuck to the bottom still that I haven't gotten around to grinding away, which means I'm still pining for Jennifer's baked brie!

This is one of a set of goblets I made for friends for their wedding. My goblets aren't glamorous or elegant, but I like to think they're still functional and pretty. These were done in plain black as I wasn't sure what they were going to end up with for feast gear and didn't want them to clash with their kit.

I rather liked how this drinking cup turned out, even if it is a bit thick and therefore heavy on the bottom (but hey, at least it's damned hard to knock over!). I made it as a gift for a friend who does a Norse persona in the SCA. I'm not sure it's entirely appropriate for his persona, but it at least doesn't look jarringly out of place.

D is for..

.. well, delayed, at the moment. Sorry about that!

D is for Donovan, my nephew.

Dono loves trains, especially Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. This all started one fateful day several years ago when we were at a Barnes & Noble with my mom, my sister, Dono, and my mother-in-law. Barnes & Noble's kids area had a toy train and tracks set up and Dono was fascinated with them. He played happily for as long as we were in the store and *howled* when we had to leave. Judy, my mother-in-law, decided that since the little trains had made him so happy, she wanted to get one for him. She asked mom and I if we thought Dawn would mind and then picked out one of the little Thomas trains.

He now has, thanks in large part to my father's genius, a low, wide table with drawers just for his tracks and trains, and more wooden track and trains than he knows what to do with. He has a smaller set of trains and tracks that live at mom and dad's for when he comes to visit there, and a little carry case that he can put several trains and a small handful of track in for when they go other places (like to our house).

He *loves* his trains. They are his favorite toy and he will, when allowed, run track all over the house for his trains to run along (although pieces sometimes go missing when Kaleigh, his little sister, decides they might be fun to chew on).