Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm a Barbie girl

When I was a kid, I didn't like baby dolls that much. To me they were just things. But my Barbies did stuff. They had adventures, epic battles, and soap operatic stories. They went through kidnappings, imprisonment, slavery, and war. I had my sister's Barbies, which were from the late 50's, often cast as the bad guys. Ken had a particular handicap in that some how his neck got broken so his head stayed on via a yellow Tinkertoy. Old Barbie often was the one in charge with her assistant Midge. My good guys were my Malibu Barbie and Ken along with Skipper. Often Skipper was the victim and Barbie was off to rescue her from evil Barbie.

One of the things that made my Barbies so fun to play with was the extensive wardrobe they had. Ken's wardrobe was pretty puny compared to Barbie's. I think he had just a shirt, a denim jacket, jeans, and swimming shorts. But Barbie had a number of dresses, tops, pants, coats, and shoes. Mom had made clothes for my sister's Barbies so I had a pretty good sized wardrobe when I got them. It expanded when one of my babysitters gave me clothes she had made. My Barbies were fancy dressers.

This year at the office we received the Christmas list for a family that included a couple of girls who wanted Barbies. I snagged one of the tags immediately. I don't have the Barbies anymore so I can't pass on the clothes, but I could make a few things that would be unique to that Barbie's wardrobe. Yesterday I picked up the Barbie and a couple of outfits, then set to knitting up a sweater for her. Her sweater's made of designer yarn (Kaffe Fassett Landscape sock yarn). So that her sister doesn't get jealous because she got a handmade sweater, I'll be making another out of a different yarn for her Barbie. There are also scarves and hats to knit up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Time management

In the past seven years I've been involved with Confluence so my holiday season usually centered around the Christmas concert with a mad dash for the remainder of time before Christmas. This year felt like a luxury of time was given to me to pursue my fiber hobbies so I've been spending the weekends in indolence when not involved in some sort of fiber event. This weekend it dawned on me that Christmas was a month away and I had not made any plans whatsoever on how I was going to manage it. Gifts would be handmade, but what? When do I fit in the holiday letter? What holiday events do I want to attend and can I fit them in the budget? I tend to do things by the seat of my pants more and more though I know better. You'd think I'd have learned by now.


This last weekend was devoted to the Portland Spinnerati one year anniversary meeting and a road trip to Woodland Woolworks with Mary, a fellow fiberholic I met at my Saturday breakfast hangout, the Hollywood Burger Bar. Mary is a re-enactor for Fort Vancouver, participating in all sorts of activities from the trading period of the early to mid-nineteenth century, so it's difficult to fit in other fiber activities. So when I found out she was a WW virgin, I of course had to lead her unto temptation and propose a road trip. She's an absolute delight and the two of us gabbed nonstop all the way there and all the way back. Inside WW she found the materials she could use for her re-enactments and put a healthy dent on her credit card. My purchases were much more modest -- a couple of skeins of Jaggerspun Zephyr, some sock yarn from the clearance room, and a WPI tool -- but it was fun going through to see what I could find.

At the Portland Spinnerati meeting, the celebration was modest. I taught a workshop based on the class I took at SOAR on how to make the most out of your wheel. It was an abbreviated version of the class and I could have done better in providing information on the whys and how-tos, but my students enjoyed the workshop and appreciated getting the info. I spent the rest of the session working on plying up the mohair single with the Zephyr for making up the yarn for Karen. It came out very pretty and should make for a lovely scarf or wrap.

Ever notice . . .

I have Netflix and am able to stream the instant play on my computer, so over the weekend when there was nothing on the idiot box I played a couple of movies. One was "Helvetica", a documentary on the font Helvetica and its influence on modern typography. It brings up one of those things that is ubiquitous to our environment but never notice because of its ubiquitousness. Since watching the movie, I now notice where Helvetica is used as the font. It's everywhere.... Then check out Frank Habit's posting of his London alphabet.

Universe expansion

The past couple of weeks have seen the arrival of my SpinOff and Knits magazine and a few books. Schoolhouse Press brought back into print Susanna Lewis' book Knitting Lace which according to my more experienced knitting friends is a must have if you're serious about lace. As I went through it I can see why. Lewis has in this book everything for the beginning to advanced knitter on the wheres, whys, and how-tos of lace knitting. Another book (actually series of books bound into one) Schoolhouse Press brought back is Maria Erlbacher's Uberlieferte Strickmuster, now titled Twisted-Stitch Knitting. This has many stitch patterns and the technique of Austrian twisted stitch knitting, including how to read the charts, which are different from your standard charts you see in magazines and books. Lastly, my copy of Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont arrived. Few books go through with such detail the history and purpose of the different kinds of handspindles along with techniques the handspindler can use for making all kinds of yarn. When the holiday brouhaha finally settles down, I'll have some lovely books to peruse and use. Sweater anyone?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Comfortably seated in fall

At last the hot weather has passed and the cool rainy days of fall have arrived. My current office location requires that I use an outdoor parking lot instead of a covered lot, so I'm out in the weather. While there is some danger from crossing a busy street to get to and from the lot, there is the pleasure of walking in the rain with my body bundled in lovely woollens. This weekend I found a pair of boots in the boys shoe section that work wonderfully for the wet weather. All I need now is reflective safety tape all over them to mark me out to cars.

Monday I had jury duty with the county courts. It had been a while since my last jury duty service and this time I didn't want to get out of doing it. I'm a firm believer that even though the duty can be boring and at times really tedious it's important that everyone serves. If I was the person in the defendant's seat, I want people that understand the importance of a fair judgment by their peers. I prepared for a day of sitting in the jury assembly room waiting for my name to be called: crosswords; paper for writing my NaNo; a novel; some singles to ply on my Turkish Delight handspindle. Next thing I know I've been called for a grand jury pool so off I trundle.

For the good part of the day I'm in the pool going through the jury selection process for a case of worker's compensation that is expected to last up to Thanksgiving. As the case progresses I am feeling more and more that I want to be on this case. It was interesting and with my background I would understand much of what was being discussed. But I ended up not getting chosen.

This Saturday there was a gathering and sale by the PDX Knit Co-Op at the Aloha Grange. I went with my array of orifice hooks in hopes of selling a few to get some pocket money for expenses. Fellow spinners from the Portland Spinnerat, PDX Knitbloggers,i and the Northwest Regional Spinners Association came with fleeces, prepared fiber, yarn, and assorted goodies. I came home with 20 oz of California Red wool to play with and washed up this morning.

While there I worked on the mixed mohair locks Karen had purchased, finishing them up this morning. Next weekend I'll be getting the wool/silk single I'll need for plying it up to make a pretty yarn for a scarf or hat. It was a bit of a challenge to spin up the mohair as not all the locks were clean of gum. I'll give the yarn a good washing so that it can get degummed. Any tips on what I should use besides Eucalan or Dawn? I have washing soda; will that help?

My Thanksgiving is going to be a quiet one. No traveling to relatives this year. Instead I'll be spending it with Ruth and John, my good neighbors. With no chorus this year I may even be able to get my holiday letter out before Christmas. That is if I don't space it out. Nudge me before the first of December, hokay?

Monday, November 09, 2009

From my mailbox

Today in my work email box I got one of those lists that usually you just smile, read, and move on. This one has some fun observations I'd thought I'd share.

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7.. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I now how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this. Ever..

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? D@mn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night, more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

20. Wouldn't it make your life a whole lot more fulfilling knowing you worked to live and not lived to work!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Slow recovery

The week has been one of trying to recover from SOAR. Between the altitude and a chest cold I was pretty much out of it. Facebook and Twitter folks saw a fair amount of my presence but I had no real brains for doing anything beyond those and watching the idiot box. I'm behind on my NaNoWriMo, I haven't done any complex knitting, and my spinning wheel has been pretty much sitting idle. I did do up some of the mohair locks Karen purchased at OFFF to spin up but I need to find a good yarn for plying it with so that the color doesn't get lost. I did finish a UFO pair of socks that had been languishing since last year so I'm pleased with that progress. I'm doing better energywise but I have laryngitis. No hollering for me for a while.

Tomorrow I have jury duty so I spent this evening going through my girlie bag and pulling out anything potentially comfiscatible at the courthouse. That meant no knitting or tool bags. I have other things I can take for entertaining myself during the dreary wait. It's been a long time since I last went to jury duty so this will be interesting.

I finally had a decent lighted day for taking pics of my SOAR swag. From Blue Moon some Blue Faced Leicester in Fall "On Top".

From Polwarth Co, some lovely silver polwarth roving that will make beautiful fingering weight yarn for a scarf.

From Sweet Grass Wool Targhee top in Moki Canyon. I found enough to make a vest.

SOAR Roomie Deb had a dyeing class and came away with a silk hankie. She just wanted one layer for a sample from the class so Barb and I split the rest. This will be fun to throw into a mystery batt for practicing my drum carding skills.

Barb did a swap with me. In exchange for one of my orifice hooks. Barb did a number of her Barbara's Buns in lovely polwarth and silk. So pretty!

The Monday following my return from SOAR I had an errand and lunch. The errand went quickly and gave me some time to rest before lunch. When I opened my door there was a package waiting for me from Black Bunny Fibers: Border Leicester wool/mohair/silk in colorway Hailstorm. The picture makes it a little lighter than it is. It's a pretty combination of blue and gray that will be nummy to spin. Thanks Carol!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Things I Learned At SOAR

I came home with a souvenir of SOAR that a number of other SOAR-goers came home with: the crud. But there were many things I got out of SOAR.

Plying yarn is a great way to get a student used to the hand motions when working with a wheel.

Hand combs are pointy and will draw blood.

Fellow spinners will come to you when you look like you’re going to fall over from lack of oxygen even though it’s just because you’re breathless from walking to class from a meal.

If you need fiber to spin, you will get it from someone, no questions asked.

I would sell my soul for a Lendrum Saxony. Woodland Woolworks has payment plans.

The mentors will answer your questions even though by Saturday they are zombies.

A charkha is not on my wishlist.

Judith McCuin is so mesmerizing I forgot to take pictures of the plying class.

Internet notables are delighted to sign spinning wheels.

A travel steamer is excellent for setting twist in yarn and the Christmas sales are the time to buy one.

To do a quick twist setting and you don’t have a travel steamer but have access to a microwave, take a hand towel and soak it in water, wringing out the excess. Fold it so it will fit in the microwave and place the skein inside the folds. Zap it for one minute.

You never know what you'll see.

You walk in with just a few tools and leave with many friends.