Monday, December 20, 2010

In all the glory

A couple of years ago, someone was moving and had given me a couple of potted Amaryllis. They grew nicely, had huge bulbs, and I was expecting to see some great blooms. Nothing happened. They grew... they died back, and rested, and then grew more leaves, and kept on growing! But no flower stalk or blooms.

Many long years ago, an old lady I knew gave me some seeds from her amaryllis. I planted them. And I have two bulbs from them. They are many years old now, a good size, but still haven't bloomed for me. Of course, I don't put them into the cold rest they prefer... I just don't have the basement which they would love.

I have a great window sill in my office. It faces south, and I get light in the afternoon. I took one of my larger Amaryllis bulb to work and set it on my window. It grew great big leaves. And then in the fall, the leaves died back one by one. That is a sign that it wants to go into the resting phase. I covered the pot and placed it into the corner on the window ledge, where it was fairly cold, and left it there for a couple of weeks. Then it decided it wanted to grow new leaves... and I pulled it back out into the sunlight. There was no flower stalk.

This year, when the leaves died back, I was determined to get it to bloom! I covered it with a plastic bag, and stuck the whole pot into the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. It would not be very cold there, but cooler than anywhere else. And it would be left undisturbed. Every 2 weeks or so, I would check on it. And as time went by, I eventually noticed a tiny leaf coming out. I could see it was not a flower stalk. This was not good. The flower should come out first, and then the leaves later. So I put it back into the drawer and left it for another week. I was not too pleased with it.

One Friday, I remembered it. I wondered what it was doing. When I opened the drawer, I could see there was some growth... there was something protruding and pushing the bag to one side. I opened it up and saw it was a flower stalk!! Iit was about 25 cm (10") and had to lay horizontally! The poor thing! And it was white, because of the lack of sunlight.

I put it on my desk, and left it for the weekend. When I got back Monday morning, it was all green and standing straight upright! Gotta love the way nature works.

I put it back on the window sill, and let it have some water and sunlight. That flower stalk kept on growing steadily upwards. I was anxious to see what colour it was, because since I've had it, it never bloomed and I was not told what colours they might be. This is so very exciting!!

Finally, the bud was quite full and opened slightly showing me the innards. I could detect deep red. That was going to be great!
Last week, the bud opened, and revealed four blossom buds. They were a deep red, not maroon, not orange, but a really nice red. By Friday, the bud had fully opened, and revealed four great big flower buds! Oh, and it was going to open up on the weekend! I will have to come in on my days off to see it!

I came in on Monday morning to be greeted by the most beautiful gorgeous gigantic blood red blossoms!! Four perfectly and fully formed blossoms in the most vibrant red I have ever seen!

Oh I am so happy! This is such a marvel! I feel reallly blessed to be rewarded with such a miracle of the formation of this intricate and beautiful flower from a simple bulb. I never cease to be amazed at how incomprehensible our world is.

Here is one pic of the blossoms. Red is such a hard colour to capture with the digital cameras, but this one is close. I was not able to show you the majesty of all four flowers, so only one will have to do. I could not be more pleased.

May I extend to you all a very Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More loaves

The weather has been strange around here, hasn't it? Just a few days ago, it is -32C going to work in the morning. By evening, it had gone up to about -9C. The next day, it was +4C -- so the snow we had earlier was melting and we had slush. That's the Chinook, you know. It's nice to see, although a lot of people get bad headaches from it, and there is quite a strong wind. Oh, well, it does break up our winter.

It was very cold in my apartment. I had the oven on for over a week. That didn't seem to help much -- it was still very chilly inside. We had a fire alarm in our building one day, and I happened to talk to one man who told me it was very cold in his place too! Apparently, they forgot to turn on the heat!

But right the next day, when it finally warmed up outside, it was hot inside! That was a pleasant relief. In fact, I had to open a window! It's been open for the last two days and nights ... I may close it tonight...maybe tomorrow. What odd weather! Mind you, we are used to having it change this quickly in this part of the country. Still is a little hard to take.

I baked more bread yesterday. I had so much to do, and instead just stayed in, had a nap, and baked some bread.

I put in some chopped apple, some dried apricots, a handful of dried cranberries, and the rest of the canned. It's quite good! I made four small round loaves. One has already disappeared -- I think it's our dry climate that makes them just dry up and vanish. (well, it works for me!)

I think I may put in some seeds next time. Just to add something different to it. No matter -- it all seems to disappear just as quickly. Sorry, no pics this time. They don't seem to sit around long enough! :-)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

So Much Better

This is much better in real life than in photos, but this is the best I can do. While I wrote the post previous to this one, my bread was baking in the oven. I have just taken it out, and had to show you what I did this time! I'm so excited! This is about the best it's been.

The last several times I've baked bread, they have turned out great. Almost perfect! I had a lot of trouble a couple of months ago in that it would not rise evenly for me. But I think I've discovered the secret now -- although I really don't know what I'm doing differently -- and the last few have been just wonderful.

I usually just make a round loaf and let it sit on the pan that way, but today, I decided to place this one in a loaf pan. It rose beautifully, no more cracks in the surface, and baked just right. Sometimes they get a little darker than this one, but I was careful to watch the timing.

It's still warm over there -- that first slice has already vanished -- and I have to try a few slices, just to be sure it's done all the way through! Sometimes the centre might not be baked as nicely as the rest, you know! :-)

This one was made with a little bit of cranberry, and I always add a little bit of sauerkraut to my breads. You can't really taste it at all -- it sort of disappears -- but I think it helps in the rising. At least, since I've started adding it to my breads, I've never had an failures! So I'm sticking with this method.

I only baked one loaf, because that will do for me for a few days. I like it fresh. I will bake another early next week... not sure what I will add to it then. I like to try different things. I may throw in some fruits in the next one.. just for some variety, and because I have some.

But right now, I have to go and test another slice... maybe with some of my real strawberry jam this time. You know, you have to try it all different ways to see what works and what doesn't!


PS: I should add that this cloth was woven by me several years ago. It was meant for a sale, but I made a treadling error about a quarter from the end... so I kept it. It sat in a drawer for many years, but I have started using it the last couple years. I really like it, and am planning on making another one. I am afraid I am going to stain this one, so I need to be careful what I do with it! It is a regular waffle weave in cotton.


What fibres could be any nicer to play wtih than Merino and Silk. And having both together is even double the pleasure!

Here is some that I had for quite a long time... just waiting for the right time, you know... and I have now spun it up. I did it all on the spindle, of course, as my spinning tool of choice. I really love my spindle!

Here is a pic of the roving, the spindle and the cops I've done. I still have to ply, and that will be done soon.

But in the meantime, I got distracted by some regular wool in rich brown and some navy blue. I do have some black that needs to be twisted a bit too, but with there not being much daylight these days (only 9 hours today), I think it will wait a bit longer. I will process these skeins that have been plied, maybe complete this grey, and then I'll post more pics.

I've been looking at all kinds of patterns for the next kntting project. Some lace, some scarves, some vests, some hats. We'lll see if anything ever gets completed! I seem to be distracted so easily... by more fibre!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

More BFL

For the past couple months, I've been spinning some Blue Faced Leceister ( I've heard many others squealing with delight about this fleece, and when I had a chance to see some it, I knew why. It's beautifully soft, and has a nice lustre to it. What I have is natural brown -- it's a rich brown, but with a few white hairs in it, which softens the colour to this gorgeous soft brown colour.

Of course, I am spinning this on my trusty CD spindle. I find it so portable, and it's always beside me when on the computer, and I take it with me if I am going to have some waiting to do. While watching some movies (and I've seen some wonderful marathons lately), I pick up the spindle to keep me awake. And I can't just sit doing nothing -- I have to account for every minute in the day! While the spindle is slightly slower in producing yarn, it sure has done a lot more than my three wheels. I haven't touched my wheels for many months now, so they are essentially useless to me at the moment. Perhaps one day I will get some time to sit down at them, but for now, yarn is being produced without them.

It's been miserably cold for the last week or so, and raining (or pretending to rain) so there is no good reason to go anywhere. I will stay home, inside, comfortable, and spin. I really should be knitting or weaving up warm winter clothing, because I will need it sooner than expected!

I have included a pic here showing you (cc from top right) the roving, the spindle, the little cocoons I make with the quills I use, and the plied yarn.
I only have 227 gm. I did this as a 2-ply -- I usually prefer a 3-ply -- and it will become some lace I think one day. The pattern hasn't been chosen just yet. I haven't measured the grist of the yarn, but it's pretty fine. But that is how it wanted to be spun! I am using the long-draw with this, and it goes very quickly, and so very easy to form smooth even yarn. I'm having the best time of my life with this BFL. Give it a try.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

BFL Skeined

As I wrote last time, I have some gorgeous BFL which I have been spinning. Whenever I have some time, I grab the spindle that is always beside me and spin a little of it. I have taken it with me on trips and spin a little when I have the time. And little by little, these little cops of singles are accumulating.

This weekend, I decided it is time to ply some of it and see if I have put the right amount of twist in the singles. After all, I need to know that before continuing! I should have done that right at the start... making my twist swatch, so to speak.

But I needn't have worried -- the singles plied just right. Well, they had to. I mean, no matter if I don't have the right amount of twist, whatever I have is what I am going to get. The 2-ply yarn meets my requirements for the moment, and I quite like the way it looks. I had thought that perhaps I had put too much twist into the yarn, but after plying, I think it will work quite well.

I yet don't know what it wants to be, and so have no idea where it will end up. It is very fine, so it may become some lace. We haven't found the right pattern just yet, but there are a few that are being eyed and have some potential.

I may have to try doing some with less twist and get a softer yarn. While they have their place, I find they don't hold up to handling that well. It all depends on the gauge of the knitting, or the sett of the weave, but for my purposes, I feel it needs to be a firmer yarn. So what I have will serve me well.

Here is a pic of a skein that I have plied.
The colours are more accurate this time. I have about 780 metres (about 850 yards) now, and only about half of it is spun. So I should be able to get something fairly good sized when I knit whatever it will be. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying the spinning of this fibre. And after all, it's the process that matters, right?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Basic Brown

So as I said, I really enjoyed spinning that black alpaca, and was very disappointed when it came to an end. I went into a slight depression -- nothing really seemed to measure up!

But as I was moving something one day, I spotted a bag of a nice brown roving, and remembered that I bought a pound of a nice rusty alpaca about a year (maybe two?) ago from a local producer. I set it aside and promptly forgot about it. I was so happy to see it.

However, I didn't want to start right into it. I had some rich brown wool waiting as well, so I thought I would spin it up. Oh, what a difference! It' s just not very nice at all! It felt coarse and harsh and didn't draft easily, and over all very disappointing. But I persevered and spun up two cops so I could ply it. They are still sitting here waiting to be plied. Just not that enthused about it.

So last night I decided it was just time to do some fun stuff for myself, and forget all this unpleasant wool. I dug out that bag, and pulled out the bag of alpaca... and it's not alpaca!!

It's a lovely cool brown shade, and looks nice through the plastic bag. The label says Blue Faced Leicester in natural dark. I have half a pound. I opened the bag, and Oh, ah, Nice!!! It's great stuff. Very very soft, and so light. Better than alpaca even!!

I couldn't wait to show you what I have. I spun this up last night:
(the colours aren't very accurate)
It said it wanted to be spun very fine, and I was glad to accommodate. And what a pleasure it was to spin! It just flowed so easily, it is beautifully prepared, all combed top, no neps in it... just the best thing I've seen!

I have heard many people raving about how lovely BFL is, and I thought they would go on about anything with just as great a gusto. But they are right! It is very fine, so very soft, and drafts without any effort at all. I love it!!

Oh dear -- do you think I am turning into a yarn snob?!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Middle of Black

Way back in May, at the monthly meeting of the local knitting guild and their annual garage sale, I located a bag of loverly black fibre. I debated whether I should get it or not. I looked over the other tables, not really needing anything you understand, but not wanting to let a real bargain go by! I found a couple magazines (like I needed more?) but resisted getting any yarn of any kind. I have enough!

But I keep thinking about that black roving... and thought about it some more. It was nice, and I could use it, but I promised myself I would not bring anything home!

Eventually, I did the only thing I could: I went over and bought it!! It was a pound of rick black alpaca. So how could anyone resist it? I didn't. It appears no one else was really interested in it.

As soon as I got home, I had to try it!! Nice! So since then, I've been spinning alpaca with my spindle. And I just kept on going. Of course, it wanted to be spun fine, and I gladly obliged. I spin my singles on a paper quill, as you know. It took me a good long evening to spin one cop.

I plied up on skein, and it was really nice hanging here in front of me! And of course, I just had to do more.... and I kept on spinning.

Now, a pound is quite a lot, and spinning fine, it seemed to just go on and on and on. It had to end, I know, but at the moment, I was enjoying playing with the roving. It was carded and was very nice. A little VM now and then, but I didn't mind.

When I got near to the last bit in the bag, I decided to see how long it took me to ply one skein. I timed myself on the weekend -- I didn't do anything else but ply. I watched a couple of old TV shows, and a couple of Indiana Jones movies. Do you know it took me a little over 5 hours? I think it took me about that long to spin one cop as well. So that is a lot of spinning!

What would one charge for one skein? Considering all the time I spent on it, this is not very cheap yarn! Of course, the financial outlay was relatively small, but the amount of man-power that went into even one skein makes this a very expensive yarn!

Here is a pic:
Do you know that it is really very hard to get a good photo of black yarn? Who knew?

It's quite fine, and I like it. I have 518.6 gms -- that is a little over a pound. I have 6 skeins, of about 180 - 200 metres each. I'm not sure what I will do with them, but there is a lace shawl KAL that is just starting, and I may use this yarn for that. Although, I would like to know what the pattern will be before I commit to this yarn!
Maybe I should look around for another project. It will probably be lace... it's too fine for anything else ... and maybe it will have a few beads too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mindless Knitting

Quite some time ago, a lady I know was given some yarn by a weaver that wasn't going to be using them. They are on cones, some of them very large! They are very fine, and in the most awful colours you can imagine! We have no idea what she was weaving with these yarns, because they are very fine.

But this lady didn't want them either, so she gave them to me! I thought I might be able to do something with them, but I sure didn't care for the colours. Nothing really went with anything else, nor could I find anything that would work with them. Very strange colours.

So one day, when I was really bored, I took a box of those yarns, and thought I would combine several coordinating yarns into one large yarn and knit something with them -- perhaps a rug or something along that line. But I just couldn't find many that would work together!

I decided on making two yarns: one is a lighter orange brown, and the other a dark brown. I took three of the lighter shades to use as one, and there were two brown yarns that I used for the darker shade. I was going to knit something in garter stitch -- perhaps a scarf knit the long way.

I grabbed a needle that I thought would work with these yarns, and cast on. I don't know how many stitches -- I didn't count -- but when it looked like there were enough, I started knitting! I decided I would alternate colours every two rows. That would give a clean row of a colour from the right side... but there would be those little blips on the back side. Oh, well.

I wouldn't cut the yarns at the end of the rows but just carry it up the side. And that worked quite well. The knitting was just plain knit all the time... very boring, but I could do that while watching a movie. In time, it slowly took shape. Despite using three yarns as one, it still took a long time to complete even one row!

This is the scarf. Trying to get the colours accurate, and still show the stitching was most difficult. It's still not quite correct, but comes close. I don't know what kind of fibres these are, but probably some sort of acrylic. It feels quite nice despite that.
The front shows nice clean lines of colour. The back side is also in rows, although not quite as distinct, but pleasing nonetheless. It was a fun knit (albeit somewhat tedious), and I will do another with other yarns. There are a couple of other ideas I have using this same principle, but I need to work on it a little before I get something completed. It's odd how the perfect design in my head doesn't quite work that way once it is made up in yarns!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bare Truth about the Ladies

Last night, I decided to go and see the Bare Naked Ladies. They were finally playing at the Calgary Stampede for the very first time in 22 years of performing.

I have enjoyed some of their music over the years, but wasn't ever really a big fan. But I wanted to go and see their show. Not a good idea.

There were far too many people! So there was security all over the place... not really sure why. They were just keeping people away for some reason. You really had to force your way into the venue. Gave the whole thing a very bad taste right from the start.

The sound level was much too high. I think most of the young people must be quite deaf, if they listen to this stuff, and if they need to turn it up that loud. I was very disappointed because everything the band played sounded about the same. It was just noise... irritating, obnoxious, disturbing noise. I think they sound a lot better on their recordings. Perhaps it's all the magic they can do in the editing, I dunno.

They seem like nice guys. They smiled a lot, seemed to really enjoy what they were doing, they looked like they were having fun. They made a few jokes that seemed to go over well, except that thing about cats. That really was a big blunder. I don't think they ever recovered from that one.

After last night's experience, I have to say that I don't like crowds. There are a lot of people whose parents should have used condoms more often! I don't know what purpose these creatures serve. Just using up valuable oxygen is the way I see it. Of course, I would have to be right next to the few that made it bad for everyone else. But I must be tolerant and not say anything about it.

So it was quite a shame that it went so badly last night. The Ladies seemed to sound quite good the few times I've heard their recordings. But it was quite a disappointment to see them live. I don't know if it was them, or their production people at the venue, but I don't think I would pay to see them again. At least, that was my experience. YMMV

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

All gone flat!

The little shawlette has been washed and blocked.

Now the problem is that I really don't have anywhere to block it at my place. Really -- I don't have that much space on the floor or on the bed or anywhere on the wall to pin it out while it dries. But I do have the perfect spot at my office! So I ran over on the weekend (imagine! going to the office when you don't need to!) and I pinned it on the cubicle wall. Because it's lace, it dries very fast. I went back in about 6 hours, took it off the wall, and it's all done! No one even knows about it.

Well, all those lovely waves and nipples are all gone. It's all flat now! Still, it does look quite nice in its own right. That is the amazing thing about lace knitting, isn't it? What you see as you are knitting is nothing like what it becomes when you are finished! Transformation. Or in Greek, methaphor.

Here is a look at my newest knitting:
And here is a detail of the pattern and the edging.
It was rather easy to do. After all, it's plain basic ordinary lace. And the yarn was nice to work with too. I like the spinning I did on it. I'm very pleased all around!

Now, I got a few more ideas for another little neckerchief. I better get working on it.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


(so let's see what the searchbots make of this post!)

I have completed my latest project, and am showing you a few tidbits of what I've got so far. It really does look a bit peculiar, and as I spread it out while working on it, I couldn't help thinking that it does remind me of something -- I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
As I cast-off, and it was revealing itself (it was all bunched up on circular needles, so you couldn't really see the full patterning), it became more and more clear what I had created. I just couldn't help giggling to myself! It is the funniest thing. Look:
Well, I'm sure it will look a lot better once it is blocked -- won't it? Tell me it will! Please!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


This is just a quick note to let you all know that I am working on something, and it is just taking its time!

I've tried a few things, thought about things for a very long time, worked on doing some computer repairs (not going smoothly) and once in a while I try to do some household chores around here -- because if I don't do it, no one else will!

Here is a quick peek at what I am working on now. This is one of those skeins you've seen hanging earlier.It is going to be a small shawl, and I think I put a little too much twist in the yarn for this project, but would have been perfect for socks. Maybe I should make socks instead! But as you know, I NEVER rip anything! So it's going to have to stay.

More later!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Once I got the skeins rinsed, and rolled up in a towel (several towels, actually) and then snapped a few times to straighten out the strands, I hung them up to dry. I do not believe in weighting the skeins, as some do, because there is no need to do so. I also like to keep some elasticity in my yarns, and don't want them stretched out like commercial yarns.

I have a wooden yarn blocker, so these skeins are all wound to the exact same size (I can't adjust the size at all) but I noticed while they were off the blocker before being washed that they were all different sizes. In truth, it is hard to tell, since most of them were so kinked up that they were shortened a lot.

After I threw them into the bath, and leave them awhile, I find they do relax a lot. Most of the kinks seem to disappear too. After the rinse, I insert my hands inside the skein and then snap them open. Not with a great force, but just enough to straighten out the strands because they do get tangled a bit while being handled in the water. I then hang them up, usually on wire or plastic hangers because that is what I have! And then just let them dry.

If you take a look at these, you will see they are pretty straight, there are nearly no kinks at all now, and there is no twisting! So all my fears about having tight over-twisted kinky skeins was all for nothing! They just hang there, nice and neat, very relaxed, just as they should. I like that. But do you see that they are not all the same length? I mean, one would expect them to be, since that is how they started out.

These are all wool, but from different breeds of sheep, so there is a different amount of crimp in each fibre. There probably is some degree of variance in the amount of twist as well, since I am not that consistent on the spindle! Still, I am a little surprised by how some are shorter than others. This will require some investigation.

However, here is the pic of all 18 (yes, eighteen) skeins hanging when mostly dry. I'll get some close-ups as soon as my beauties are ready!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bathing Beauties

This is to warn you that you will encounter some scenes that were shot in the bathtub, and some readers may find the following discussion shocking! Proceed at your own risk.

From my last post, you would have seen some skeins of yarn that I have spun and plied on my truly remarkable CD spindle. The skeins were all wound on my wooden blocker, and are all the same size. They are just hanging there awaiting the next step in the processing.

I was enjoying the plying and didn't feel like doing the rest of the work. So I plied more. And more.

You may have noticed that they were a bit twisted, kinky, over-plied. Well, that is the way I like my yarns! Okay, not so kinked up, but I like the twist in the plied yarn, and that is how I did them.

I tried to spin the singles with a lot of twist, knowing that I would be plying with a lot of twist as well. In the past, while I got a pleasing single, when plied, I found them to be rather weak, and softly plied. But according to my spinning instructor, we were to aim for a "balanced yarn" which means that the twist in the single is balanced against the twist in the ply resulting in a truly relaxed stable complacent yarn. Well... okay.

So when I plied my yarns, they were too weak for my tastes. So I put a lot of extra twist in the plying process to give me the yarn I like ... resulting in an over-plied yarn. Not good.

The result was what you saw last time. Today, I show you those beauties in the bath!
I ran a couple inches of the hottest water I can get in my tub. I added some soap and a dash of salt. Then I threw the skeins in, one by one. I didn't count them... there were quite a few!

And then I walked away. I never touch them, I leave them alone, to do their soaking and whatever else they want to do when I am not looking! I watched a movie, chatted with my brother about computer problems, and then remembered my poor skeins!

Here you see them laying quietly, peacefully, comfortably in the now-cooled water.

I drained the water, and refilled with warm water and let them soak a bit more. They are soaking now... I will go check on them in a moment, and then squeeze out the water, and hang them up to dry.

Now, where will I be able to hang them so they don't drip all over my floor? A final look at the skeins in the next post.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Kinky Stuff

So for the last several weeks, I've been involved in some other activities and haven't been blogging here in that time. I've been meaning to -- while walking to and from work, I keep thinking I will write a short note about what I've been doing. And by the time I get home, it has already been done (in my mind) and forgotten. Just not posted!

As you may know, I don't like to be idle. So when I have a few moments, I will grab my spindle and spin away. I will do this outside my apartment building while waiting for my ride, or while reading emails, or watching a movie. My hands can work while I do other things! So in the past several weeks, I've spun up quite a lot of yarn. I hadn't realized until I looked at all the bobbins of singles waiting to be plied. And when they are all together, there is quite a lot!! So for the past week or more, I've been plying. Some evenings I can get two skeins done. After all, plying is not that hard to do.

I always spin my singles on a quill, and then put them away until I have more done up for plying. Sometimes I just like to spin, and leave the plying for when "I am in the mood" to do so. Here is a collection of some of my paper quills that I have recently cleared up. Okay, so now I have to fill them up again??

These are usually half a sheet of 8x11 paper (salvaged from the office), or most often even a quarter sheet. You will also see some paper from a flyer, since that is all I had when away from home. It all works!

So I like a good firm plied yarn. I have been finding that when I ply "balanced" as my teacher tells me to do, that it is much too loose for my liking. So I have purposely twisted my singles very tight... and then plied tightly to make a yarn to more my liking. But that wasn't enough either. I found that to get the yarn I like I would have to really over-ply, according to my teacher. But that is what I like!

So here are some skeins I've recently plied, and they look a bit -- um -- over-plied? They are really kinky, don't you think?
I like the look of the yarn itself, but in the skein, they really twist up, and make all those kinky curls. Will it be alright? Will my knitting be all biased and twisted as well? Is this just a reflection of what I am like?

Stay tuned for the next episode in the "Kinky Files".

Monday, May 31, 2010

Art Linkletter

Art Linketter, born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan (that's in Canada, you know), passed away in his Los Angeles Bel Air home on Wednesday, May 26, just short of his 98th birthday with his wife of 74 years at his side. His life did not start easy and he worked hard in his youth, and had much tragedy in his personal life. But throughout it all, he abided by a simple belief, which I want to share with you.

I never want to be what I want to be
Because there's always something out there yet for me.
I get a kick of living in the here and now,
I never want to feel I know the best way how.
There's always one hill higher with a better view,
Something waiting to be learned I didn't know,
So till my days are over never fully fill my cup.
Let me keep on growing – growing up.

July 17, 1912 - May 26, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Starting anew

This past weekend, the OTR community that I participate in was holding their Spring Marathon. This meant that there were 12 hours on Saturday and 12 hours on Sunday of excellent old-time radio presentations. I listened in on Saturday, all day, and heard many really good shows that I hadn't heard before. Very well done! In between presentations, there was time for a little chat. Because most of the people here are blind, these are voice chats. It's really quite an efficient way to do these things. I've formed very good friendships with these people from across North America.

So eventually I shut down and went to sleep because the next round started in a few hours! I got up early on Sunday morning, turned on the computer, and it didn't start. It would not boot up. Something was wrong here! I tried, and tried, and tired very many times. It just would not boot up. I didn't know if it was the HD or something else. There was power, there was humming, it just didn't start up.

So Sunday was dismal. I didn't know what to do! I was annoyed because I was missing a really good day of shows, and that I couldn't do anything else. I suddenly realized how much I depend on getting access to everything through the computer. I couldn't watch any of the shows I've collected, or the music, or access my mail, or chat with friends... I was lost! I had no contact with the outside world. I felt like a prisoner, lost on an isolated island somewhere.

So I sat at my wheel and tried to console myself. I always turn to the wheel in times of need. That is one thing that will ground me, will calm the turmoil in my life, that gives me a sense of some stability in the world. It helped -- but only a little.

Monday I called my computer tech person, and made arrangements to take it in for some service. After work, I ran over with it, and he checked it out. Seems that the power supply had failed. He suggested I get a whole new case. And a motherboard since this one was shot too. (I still don't really know what the problem was) And one thing after another, I ended up buying a whole new computer!

I can't use the HD that I had with the O/S on it. I had to re-install.. which is good since I already have XP Professional. But I had to get a new HD as well. I get home, and search everywhere for the disks... and they are no where. I know they have to be here somewhere... but where? Since I moved couple of years ago, everything is still in boxes piled to the ceiling. Not labeled. So where do I even start looking? Another dismal tortuous evening without the computer! I spin some more.

One good thing, though, about digging through a bunch of boxes and moving things around is that I will find things that I had 'lost'. I did find some money -- a lot of money, in fact -- which was enough to pay for the new computer, so that was fortunate. I think I need to go through more of the things around here and do some "cleaning" and see what else I can find.

Tuesday I run back to the techie guy and cry out for help. So I have to buy another disk! But he says XP is no good, it is being phased out, there is no support, get Windows7 -- and it's cheaper too. wtf? So I end up buying Windows7, which I really did not want to do. Damn that Bill Gates!

Okay, the installation went smoothly enough. Then the drivers (at least most of them). But I have to start from scratch again... all the bookmarks are gone, all my saved programs I had installed, all gone. I haven't tried hooking up the old drive with all my files... he said I can do it once I get this all installed. I will do that tomorrow. Luckily, much of my emaill is web-based, so I didn't lose anything there. I had a lot of my OTR and movies put on disk (just in case) and I'm glad of that. But I still don't have sound!

I finally found the right spot to plug in the speakers, and got sound working. The mic is not recognized -- I have to work on that. I will need that for the Thursday chat. I need to get everything back to the way it was -- I just don't like change!

I had made a promise to myself the last time I had to get a new computer (almost 6 years ago) that the next one will definitely be a Mac. I'm sorry I didn't follow through on that. I think it would be so much better if I did. Next time for sure. Maybe even before then.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


The socks are now finished, and washed, and dried. Here is what they look like:I think they are a little shorter than I like, but shall see. Because they are knit from toe-up, I can always add a bit more to the cuff if I need to. But they fit nicely, and feel good. Maybe I'll just leave them as they are for now. You never know!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

More Socks

I heard from Mom that the socks were a great hit. They fit perfectly, and he is very happy with them. He wore them for three days, and Mom finally got them from him and "washed them in the sink", she said, and laid them out on the bed to dry. She knows how to handle my precious wool socks! haha So it appears I was a success. I wonder if he thinks there will be another pair following these.

But I did like them too, so I decided I have enough yarn to knit myself a pair as well. I wanted the same kind of pattern -- seemed to work well -- and wanted to do a white heel for myself. And when I got to doing the gusset, I decided to do my favourite with the increases on the bottom of the foot. Well, that meant that I couldn't do the white heel (because of the construction method) so I just went with all grey. I also did the slip-stitch heel flap, as I like, and then continued the rib pattern up the leg. I will make two white stripes at the top, as I did with the others, just to tie it together. As I am going along, I've been trying it on (to see if it fits) and I really quite like the way they feel. I can understand why he wore them for three days!

I'll show you the turning of the heel. I quite like the way it works this way, and it makes for an interesting structure and design.
Oh, about the frog. The girl next to me took him home and put him in a terrarium. We are just calling it a "him", but the guys at the pet shop didn't know for sure. She bought a tub of crickets and would put 2 or 3 in with him and overnight, they seem to disappear somewhere. Because it is nocturnal, he hides under some bark all day, but when she gets up in the morning, there he is hanging on the side of the glass, eyes wide open, and looking for something to eat. She gave him some meal worms, but he doesn't seem to care for them. I think he likes to see things move, and then snaps them up. I wonder if he has a long tongue? She may have to catch some grasshoppers in summer. But I did tell her not to let it go here because he doesn't belong to this part of the world. So for now, she will keep him. Still no name for him/her/it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Just Hopping Along

A little over two years ago now, I made a decision to accept a new position. It's still with the same large corporation, but in another unit of the same department. Anyway, they had built a new office tower, and had just opened it when I started there. The place I was at was also moving into a newer larger building, which I have visited, but I was glad I didn't have to go through the move. So I was quite lucky -- I left one place just before the move, and joined a new one just after the move.

The new building was officially opened in the fall of 2007, but there were still workmen doing all the last finishing touches (like replacing cracked windows and warped doors) for quite a few months.

A few of the older staff have retired, and so these prime offices have come available. The senior staff remaining then get first choice of which office they would like. So for the past 2-3 weeks, there has been quite a bit of shifting of offices. It's like musical offices -- we move one out, another moves in to clear up one more office, which someone else moves into, and so on. This involves moving entire offices... all the furniture, art work, books, etc. The senior management people have their own furniture in their own offices, so it's quite involved. But it's all overseen by a very competent organizer, and it all moves like clockwork -- most of the time.

Late on Friday, when one office was almost moved over, and the assistant was cleaning up (the assistants have to do all the work), she discovered something hopping away down the hallway into a corner. It was a little frog! It apparently had been in that office, on the 23rd floor, was disturbed and was trying to find a new place to hide. How long it was here, where it lived, what it ate, we don't know.

It's the cutest little thing. It is a tree frog. There aren't any native tree frogs in our part of the country; there may be some on the west coast. I believe this one is native to south-east Asia, perhaps from Indonesia. It has very long delicate fingers and toes -- with suction cups on the ends. Looks a little like E.T. It's no more than about 5 cm (2 inches) long.

So the assistant took it home, put it into a terrarium and may let it go in spring. However, I don't know if it will survive our winters here. She got some coconut bark for it to hide under, and even a little tub of crickets! These frogs are nocturnal, so she hasn't seen if it is eating any crickets, and it seems to sleep most of the day. In the morning, she finds it on the side of the glass looking very bright and chipper, so she assumes it has found a cricket or two.

So here is a pic of the little darling! It's really quite cute -- in its own way.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am finished

Well, the socks are done! I finished them and they are on their way now.

After quite an agonizing week, with no knitting, I decided that the socks can just stay as they are. There isn't a "mistake" after all; it's a design feature that the socks wanted, and I should let them be. Which is what I did.

Here is a look at the toes again, after washing and viewed from the side.

They do look a lot better than at first. But I knew they would. :-)

The gussets were a bit troublesome, but after all is said and done, they seemed to be just right. The math was there, so it had to work out; just that it didn't look right when I was doing them. Here is a look at the gusset and the heel:

The heel was not quite as I had hoped it would go, but since this was the first time doing it with this formula, I really had nothing to compare it to! In the end, I think they worked out just fine. I have made a mental note to change a few things on the next socks!

I continued the 3/1 rib pattern established on the instep and carried it around the back of the sock as well. I was thinking of increasing a few stitches as I went up the leg, but where? It would just upset my whole patterning, now wouldn't it?! So I just left it as it was. There is considerable stretch there anyway, so that will account for any leg shaping. With the ribbing, I don't need to worry about the socks staying up as well.

When I got to the top of the cuffs, I remembered I needed to do some white stripes! I did have to tink back just a little, and added the two stripes of white, and cast-off. I used my version of the Very Stretchy bind-off, and it is surprisingly stretchy. There is lots of room to get it over the ankle.

I washed the socks last weekend, and hung them to dry. They were still quite damp the next morning! So I left them until I got back from work. They were pretty well dry by then. I left them for a few days extra to be sure they are completely dry. It is 100% wool, and they are fairly thick, for socks, so they should provide lots of insulation. But they do take a long time to dry!

I packaged up the socks into a nice little package, and wrapped it very neatly, complete with a nicely printed address label. I took it down to the Post Office to mail on their way. They wanted $9.56 postage for it! It was only going 840 km!! I said there is something wrong, that can't be right. But she said yes it was right, it has to go parcal post -- duh-- it is a parcel, I know! It's just a pair of socks, damn it! I told her that I was getting ripped off. Then she said if I could package it into a flat packet, it would be less.

So back I go to my office, and take it all apart very carefully, and stuff the socks flat into a 8x11 envelope which was able to pass through that magic little slot they have, and it went for $2.00. Can you believe the difference?!!

Anyway, I'm awaiting word to see if they fit, and if they are going to be worn. I should hear something in about a week. Here is a look at the full socks:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Much Better

Well, it's been quite a week! But I have survived, and am feeling much better now.

Last week, late in the afternoon, I started feeling unwell, and had some abdominal discomfort. Something I ate? Only had a sandwich at lunch, shouldn't be that. But it kept getting worse, and was making me very concerned. I did get home, and didn't feel like having any supper, and went to bed early.

Of course, the pains were getting more and more bothersome. I didn't sleep all night, just couldn't find the right position where I didn't hurt and could sleep. I still went in to work, suffered through the day -- it was ever so long when I didn't get any sleep -- and had chills all day long. But I'm normally cold at work, so that wasn't unusual. The security person came around in the afternoon and said I looked flushed... my face did feel hot, but I was still shivering.

Eventually, I got home at the end of the day, and went straight to bed. I had no supper again. I woke up during the night, and took 2 aspirins for the fever, and slept a little. I got up a few hours later and took 2 more, and slept again. I stayed in bed for 18 hours, and felt a lot better when I finally got up. I wasn't that hungry yet, so didn't do much in the day, had a nap in the afternoon, and went to bed early again. I just needed the rest!

By Monday, I was better, and went to work, but it was several days later that I was feeling back to normal -- or as normal as I can be. But it was a bit of a rough time for a few days there... and gave me much time to think about a few things that I have ignored. I'll have to do something about that now.

So there has been no knitting! I just was not in that space where knitting would have been appropriate. There are times that I am just not in the mood, you know? And that's alright too... it will wait for me!

But now that I'm better, I guess I have no excuse! I have to get back to my work. It's waited long enough. I hope the socks have learned their lesson and are going to behave now!! LOL

Saturday, February 20, 2010

and around the bend

I have finally gotten around to doing the heel. It's not really that hard, but I've been finding that there seem to be so many other things that I am required to do, and that takes away from my knitting time.

Doing the heel with a flap from the bottom up means you have to do everything backwards, in a way, and think of the final goal and how to get there from here. Do you remember in highschool, having the answers in the back of the Algebra book, but you had to figure out how you get to it?? This is much the same.

Now, true, I need to do some calculations here. I start out with X number of stitches, and I need to end up with Z at the end, and I have Y nuimber of steps to get there. A real problem. However, it is possible to work it out. Just have to sit down without distractions and work them out.

So I have finally done it, and turned the heel, which I find really cool how it does that, and I am on my way. Not a problem!! Why did I think it would be? It all just works out, as it should. Here is a look at what I have so far:
I tried to show you how I did the heel, and you can also see the gussets. I did do each heel turn and the flap separately, since you really can't keep working in the round while on that part. It's not that hard, really --just need to keep focusing on what you are doing.

So far, I'm finding the yarn nice to work with. It's quite even, and is holding up ..... Oh, darn it!! I just spotted an error -- a huge glaring mistake! So now what?? Do I rip out (I have a rule about never ripping out) or do I ignore it and keep on going. But it will keep bothering me. Oh, darn! I'm sick over all of this... I think I'm going to go lie down for awhile.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's started

After doing the swatch, and determining which needles I wanted to use, and deciding on the 3/1 patterning, I cast on!

I am doing these toe-up because... well, because I want to! I like doing them toe-up and trying out different heels. It is a good way if you don't know how many stitches to cast on -- try them on until they are large enough! I am not sure how long to make them either, so this is a better way to go. I don't have to worry about not having enough yarn -- I think I have enough for a couple pairs -- and I do like a challenge. I've decided to try and do them as traditionally as possible, with the heel flap, and to do them in reverse, so to speak. I've done this before some time in the past, after struggling to find a way to do it that way. It is rather easy, when I finally figured it out!

I will do the toe and the heel in white, perhaps a little around the top of the cuff, and the rest of the sock will be in the grey. It is going to be very appropriate for a farmer in winter! I don't want to try and do anything fancy. Here is a pic so far:

I am doing both socks at the same time, on one circular. I don't do second socks very well, and since I don't have a pattern (I don't keep notes unfortunately) so doing them both at the same time is insurance that they will be the same. I used Judy Becker’s Magic Cast-On for the toes. I've used this method several times for all sorts of things, and I just enjoy doing a small sample when I am bored. It's so ingenius and so simple! Gotta love it! Oh, the red thread? That is my marker showing me the beginning of the round. I used it when making the increases on the toes, and it just stayed. I'll need it later for the gussets and heels. I just use a piece of smooth yarn in a contrast colour and it works really well. I also use it for counting rounds.

I'm coming up to the heel soon, so I want to put in some gussets. I had better concentrate now and put them in the right spots. More to follow!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Required Swatch

So I'm doing this right. In order to plan this project, I need to do my swatch. I've chosen a needle size, and after a couple rows, I can see it is too loose. Then I used a smaller needle, and it's much better. I want a firm fabric for socks to wear well, so this will do just fine.

I did find, though, that the smaller needle size was harder to work with. I can feel the extra strain on my hands. So this will be a little tougher to do, but I will manage.

I used 4.0 mm and 3.25 mm needles. I have some nice bamboo needles that I really quite like, but not enough for both socks at the same time. I don't like doing one and then the other -- I always forget what I had done on the first! No, I don't follow a pattern! These will be knit toe-up, and I make up the design as I go along. I haven't yet determined how I will do the gusset or the heels. I do want the toe and heel to be in white, the rest in grey, but I don't like short-row heels, but am not sure how the flap will look in white. Shall see when I get there, I suppose! Why worry about it before I need to?

I do want a simple rib on the instep and around the leg, so tried out a 3/1 rib on the swatch, with both needles. Yes, the smaller works better. One thing I noticed, which I should have known, is how much the fabric pulls in with the smaller needles! You can see in my swatch, in the stocking stitch area, and in the ribbing, how much they have pulled in, even with these few stitches. This is compounded when you are doing a sock, or even a sleeve! Something to keep in mind.

Here is the swatch, with the needles placed next to their corresponding section.
Now, to cast on.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Those hanks I showed you drying have now been twisted up into a skein waiting to be used. I just wanted to show you a closer pic of them. I really like the way they look! I like a yarn with more plys to the inch than the regular stuff we tend to do.

My teacher said I need to ply a balanced yarn. But when I did, it was too loose for my tastes. Well, that is easy to fix, right? Just put more twist into the singles, then you need to put more twists in the ply and you will get what you want... in theory. So I did. But even then, with so much twist in the singles that I was getting tangles before I could ply them, it was still not what I wanted if it was a balanced yarn.

So I just did what I needed to do. These singles have a LOT of twist in them. I was careful in the plying to put in the amount I wanted.. it kinked up badly. Well, of course, it would be said to be over-plied! But as I showed you, once washed, they seemed to balance themselves out, and were very happy where they were! I dunno... but I liked the result and the yarn seems to be quite happy to be there too. (am I seeing more than I should??)

Anyway, here's a pic. More to come later.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm twisted

When I was reading the Harlot's blog about her sixth blogiversary, I was reminded that I too have celebrated my blogiversary as well. (We do things together, you know) It's only my fifth, but I thought it was longer than that. I don't post as often as she does, if you hadn't noticed, but she is a writer, while my other writing goes elsewhere and you won't read about it here.

I've been really busy lately, with work, and by the time I get home, I'm too bushed to do much of anything I had planned. YoU know how it is -- I write all these wonderful blog posts in my head, while walking to or from work, or at work, and by the time I get home, they are done, so I don't need to actually post them! And I'm always so surprised when I look and find out they are not there!

I don't do much knitting these days, although I have a lot in queue and I doubt I will ever get to them. I just am not inspired to do much. But I do spin a lot. I always feel the need to do something while I am watching a movie or listening to a radio show. And the first thing I grab is my spindle. I have three wheels, as you know, but they are sadly being neglected, and I do feel a bit guilty over that. But it requires a bit more organization for me to sit at the wheel. Of course, the wheel is not conveniently positioned so that I can watch my computer screen -- where I watch all my movies. So the spindle is it.

I've decided that I want to knit some socks, and want to use my own handspun for that. But what I have been doing is 3-ply which is a bit too heavy for what I want. So I am now doing some 2-ply. For socks, I want a firmly spun yarn, so am putting in a lot, and I mean A LOT of twist in my singles. I am doing a fairly tight ply too and getting what I feel is a very nice yarn for socks. I just need to knit up a sample to know for sure, but I'm sure it will be just fine!

I've noticed that the white seems to be a bit finer than the greys, so I need to make some adjustment in how I am making my singles. I wonder how it will work when I knit them together in one piece; I was thinking of white toes and heels, but I shall see yet. I have watched four seasons of Dexter, and am awaiting season 5 to be broadcast. I am addicted! Now I need some other show to watch, as interesting and suspenseful as this one.

But what I want to show you this time, is what happens to my spinning in the process from spindle to sock. Here is a pic of my skeins after plying and just hanging there waiting their turn to be washed. I always wash the skeins after plying, and they are ready to be knit after that. You will note that they are very tightly plied. In fact, my teacher would say they are way over-plied. See all those kinks as they twist back on themselves? If it were not for my ties, I would have a major tangled mess!! However, after the soak in soapy hot water, and rinsing, I roll them up in a towel to soak up most of the water and then hang them up. No weights, just the damp skein hung to dry. You will notice that there isn't any of those kinks that were there before. I don't understand the physics of this, and don't worry about it. I know that the resulting yarn is what I want, and that is it. I know that in order to get to this point, I need to do this and this and this, and I do. After all, it's the final product that will get the winning marks.

So I have lots of these skeins spun, plied, washed and waiting to be made into something. When? well, ....