Saturday, December 26, 2009

Very Traditional Holiday

I don't know how long this link will last, but I did enjoy reading this from the Shetland Times.

Yule Traditions

Friday, December 25, 2009


Works in Progress otherwise known as Startitis or I'm Bored with This, Let Me Try Something Else For A While.

I think most knitters experience this. Surely, I can't be alone.

You start a project and you are moving along and then you are out and about somewhere and wander into a yarn shop and BAM! There is a skein of yarn in the perfect color or it feels just divine or it's on sale or ... well, you buy the stuff and come home and think, "let me see what this looks like on the needles. I'll just do a little swatch." And the next thing you know, the first project is stuffed into the basket next to your knitting chair and you are off on the new project.

Another way this happens is that someone you love needs a gift. Doesn't matter for what, it could be they are giving birth, having a birthday themselves, they've rescued your dog... doesn't matter, they need a hand-knitted gift. So you put aside this other project along with the first and pick up this third project. Now project #3 has a deadline in most cases, so you may work steadily along until it is completed. And you may actually finish this. But in many cases, while you are gift knitting, you think of other people who also need hand-knitted gifts and cast on for those projects so you can work on them as well.

Now, here it is 8 months from Christmas and you have 5 or 6 WIPs. You might pick up and knit on project 1 or 2, but 4, 5 and 6 are still sitting there. So you alternate between them. It's coming up on winter by now and you know you need a new pair of mittens, so you cast on for those. Okay, now we are up to 8. You finish project 5 because it's small and you put it away so it's safe with other holiday gifts hidden somewhere in the house.

Your birthday comes and your dear husband or mother gives you yarn or new knitting needles or a book of patterns. Well, you have to try out this new gift, yes? So, you are now at 7 or 8 projects. Husband asks why you have a pile of knitting overflowing your work basket. You realize it does look a bit insane and they are acting as dog hair magnets since they don't fit inside the basket so the next day you take one or two of the smaller projects to work so you can knit on your lunch break and perhaps make some progress there. You also buy a bigger work basket to keep the others off the floor. So you have six at home and two at work. You might stuff another small one (like a sock or hat) into your purse so you have a portable project for those times when you are waiting but not at home or work.

Now, the irony of all this is that nothing actually gets finished because while you are making progress on everything (or at least the projects you pick up from time to time), the progress is so incremental as to be one row at a time.

So you try some focused techniques. You put away everything you have started and work on ONE thing until it is finished. The problem is that you brain is now wired to feel distracted and sad with so few projects surrounding you. Something is missing and it's all your yarn and needles and projects and books, little by little, they all come out of the closet again. And in the interim, you may have added some new ones.

The solution? Don't knit gifts. They just interrupt the flow. Keep your stash out of sight (for out of sight is out of mind). Be strong. Just say no when your mind cries out for more and more. Don't drink alcohol as it lowers your resolve.

Yeah, that doesn't work for me either... but it's worth the thought. I have noticed that my knitting has improved because I can see the difference in gauge, lack of dropped stitches and other mistakes as I have S-L-O-W-L-Y progressed on Project #1. The differences are so stark from beginning to near end, in fact, I may have to frog it and start over!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Goals for 2010

I don't think I did so great on making my goals for 2009. But I did get my sheep and that was a big one. The bonus is that Ken has decided that they really aren't so bad and actually does a super job of taking care of them when I can't. I quit drinking. I learned to knit fair isle (or at least with two colors at a time).

But here are some of my thoughts on where I would like to go in 2010:

  • Finish spinning the oatmeal fleece and knit up this Shawl.
  • Move my large (and only loom) out of the fiber room and installed into the Yellow Cat Saloon where it will get more use (from me and other weavers).
  • Weave a set of kitchen towels (3 each) for myself, my mother and my mother-in-law and Mandy and perhaps a set for Ellen & George at the Tavern.
  • Begin to learn to weave overshot (perhaps a table runner or a set of four place mats)
  • Clean up my fiber room once I can move in there and organize what I have so I can find it.
  • Create some fun spinning batts and offer for sale
  • Spin off the grey shetland fleece currently living in a basket in the living room.
  • Make a sweater or vest from this grey fleece.
  • Spin off the white shetland fleece also living in the living room and use at least some of this in 1. yarn for socks 2. yarn for a shawl 3. dye some of it and make scarves or other nice small projects with it. But get the stuff carded and spun.
  • Make some silk hankies and dye them. (I dyed some last year but want to learn to make hankies from the little silk cocoon.
  • Get past this depression.
  • Loose some weight and learn to resist the urge to eat like a crazy person.
  • Get fresh fleeces off of Alice and Jerry and use their fibers to make something wonderful for Ken. What will depend upon the condition of the fiber and how much we get that is usable.
Now as for work... my newest co-worker has been a great help to me and it has forced me to really take the time to learn more because I don't want to teach him wrong. He's also very enthusiastic and verbal in his thanks so I feel like I'm contributing. He also makes me feel like a patient and wise person, even though I'm not. He has made me examine my short tempered attitude towards one of my supervisors. Even though I'm only pseudo supervising the new guy, I've come to greatly appreciate our supervisor's approach to things which had previously seemed very anal to me. So my goals for 2010 at work:

  • Improve my documentation of phone calls, conversations by learning to use functional abbreviations and go directly to the computer rather than jot notes on paper THEN go to the computer.
  • Negotiate with my big boss for at least one evening a week during which will regularly I work late and adjust the time off later. (LIke work late on Wednesday evening and adjust off by coming in late on Monday morning). The office is quiet in the evening and I get a lot more completed on things that require focused concentration (like report writing).
  • Get my gang files organized! And attend one more gang related training.
  • Use more of the EBP stuff and practice (Master?) those motivational interviewing techniques.
  • Make sure that when folks get locked up or I submit a MVR I remember to put the case in waiver so I don't have to worry about them anymore and my ass is covered for the audit.
  • Add one day a month to home contacts so I am going out faithfully three days a month regardless.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Yep. We got some.

Pictures I do not have because I left my camera at work. Brilliant, eh?

There are a few "dregs" left and I will attempt to take a few shots on my way to work.

The best part was the reaction from Jerry and Alice. This was the first time in their lives they had seen snow (they are technically, still lambs). It was very cold and they were sleeping inside of their house for a change. Fortunately, I had slept in so did not let their alarm clock (the dog) out until it was daylight; so I got to watch their first snowy morning. I could almost narrate their conversation by their "body language"

Jerry stuck his head out first and stopped halfway out the door. "Shit! What the hell is this crap?" as he looks first right then left.

Alice, from inside the house grumbles, "Common Jerry, move! I gotta pee!" She bumps him from behind and he stumbles the rest of the way out of the house onto their covered porch where he stands without letting a hoof touch the strange white stuff. The front half of Alice's body appears in the doorway and stops. "Ooooh, wow. What happened to my grass?"

She moves slowly off the porch and out onto the snow, hooves crunching down through 4 inches or so of the fluff. She looks up and down her yard and then looks up and down again. Jerry hasn't moved out from off the porch.

"Jerry," Alice says, "I think we may have a problem. There's no grass out here."

"What is that stuff?" Jerry asks her. "What does it taste like?"

She puts her face down into the snow, gets a mouth full and nose full and immediately shakes her head to try and dislodge it from her nostrils. The snowball in her mouth gets stuck on the fur around her lips. Suddenly she's shaking her head violently and bobbing her head up and down, then paws at her nose and mouth.

Jerry backs up a step in alarm and his back feet go into the snow and he bolts forward into the snow and bumps into Alice, who has finally freed herself from the snow blocks and gasps for air. "Don't eat it!" She orders. She goes over to get a drink of water from the water bin with the de-icer and takes a long drink of water just under the freezing level. Then she heads back into the house. Somewhere in the midst of the short suffocation from snow, she peed.

Jerry stands outside for a moment longer, walks around the entire house, and finally retreats to the relative warmth and darkness of their house.

They did not come out again until I went out an hour later and brought them pelleted alfalfa mixed with cracked corn and some fresh hay. They ate a little and returned to their house.

It wasn't until the next day that they came to realize the white stuff meant them no harm and we enjoyed watching them running and sliding in the snow at dusk. While they had hay in the hay feeder to eat and more hay in a tin kept under their porch roof to eat, they decided that they prefer a small flake of hay laid in the yard on top of the snow. If they would eat all of it I would not mind feeding them that way all the time, but they pick through it, scatter it about and end up trampling most of it. The hay feeder seems to be the most economical way to feed them hay, they just don't like it because they can't pick through it and must eat what comes out the hole.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Bad Housekeeping May Have Saved Lives!

Check out this story:

Germs May Be Good For You

Now they need to hook up with Social Services and find really awful homes in the US and test those kids.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Spinning in progress

I purchased a wonderful, deep purple and deeply soft roving that contained flecks of green from The Barefoot Spinner at the Maryland Sheep in Wool Festival in May. This picture looks washed out.

This looks much closer to the correct color.

I purchased about 2 pounds of this stuff and got just under half of it spun while we were in Maine. I seriously need to sit down and get serious about spinning again or I will never get through it all before Jerry and Alice are shorn.

This is a closeup of the oatmeal colored Wesleyndale Fleece I purchased. This stuff is just yummy... even if full of vm. The closeup shows the softness. The picture below is the most accurate for color.