Monday, January 29, 2007

The New Addition

I'd like to introduce the new addition to my household. Meet Teagan, the wonder-schnoodle.


So far, she is a lovely wee dog. She is 9 weeks old and has remarkably good manners. Sleeps through the night and is pretty darn good about going outside to pee, even though it is -27C this morning.

Orlando is not impressed.

He has chosen to ignore not only Teagan, but everybody else too. Molly has just gone about her business. She has been through the new arrival thing before when Orlando came, so she seems rather bored with the whole proceeding.

Today is a dye day, so we shall see how I am going to manage with a puppy underfoot!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Moving Forward

After months of recovery and therapy, followed by months of tail-dragging and whining, I have finally decided it's time to move forward with my work and my life. Apparently, with a vengeance.

First, I've made finishing my in-depth study my priority. At least 2 hours of each day must be spent working on it in some capacity. I have restructured the study to exclude 4 samples, but added six others, making more work for myself but, I think, a more logical piece of work in the end. I have managed to produce two of the sample yarns, get the wool/nylon fibre blended for all of the samples, and make one of the sample socks. In six days. That amount of work under my old routine would have taken a month. And the great thing is that the momentum is inspiring me to keep going--I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a glow.

I accepted a commission a couple of weeks ago to weave a prayer shawl for a local yoga instructor, and she invited me to join her class yesterday. I was into yoga in my teens, but have done little (read no) exercise since my accident. The class was marvelous and I felt great all day. I'm paying for my past inactivity today with aches in places I didn't even know I have, but I will be buying a pass and attending Sunday yoga from now on.

All the talk of prana and energy in the yoga class took me back to the days when I was exploring healing work. Back before I became pregnant with Julia, I studied and practiced Therapeutic Touch. So much of what is explored in yoga is tied into the sort of energy healing that was involved in the healing community that I was involved in back then, and so much of what I did back then is tied into the considerations of the shawl commission. So I played with the energy work that I could remember, and found a new dimension in the textile work. I have found a deeper sense that the textile work is important, and new doors have already opened for me. I will be making more than one prayer shawl, and now there are meditation seats on the list, too.

The last big change is our new addition to the family. I have wanted a dog off and on for years, but circumstances have always made me reconsider. Lately, though, I have had this almost compulsive desire for canine companionship. Steve has never lived with a dog, so he does not really understand the companionship and energy that a dog brings to a household--all he sees is years of poop-scooping in his future--so there have been heated discussions. But this past weekend, I said "damn the torpedos" and put a deposit down on this little cutie.
She is an 8-week-old Schnoodle and I am just waiting to hear from the breeder about when I can head down to pick her up. It will be an interesting week--my only regret is that the drive to the breeder's and back will eat up almost two whole fibre days! Oh, compromise!

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Room of My Own

WARNING! Whiny rant ahead:

Virginia Woolf said that all a woman needs is a room of her own.

For the past 17 years, we have lived in a 1,000 square foot townhouse. I have raised 3 kids, 4 cats, and a variety of guinea pigs and goldfish in this tiny space. I have created a garden paradise in what was once a flat stretch of dead grass. And I have worked as a knitter and artist out of this wee home.

It has been challenging, with my skills and interests expanding to need more equipment and space. Compared to many fibre folk, my collection of tools and equipment is as miniscule as my home, but it's still a lot of stuff to cram into a household this size. My "studio" consists of a 12 square foot corner of the living room. I work where I can find space--the kitchen table, the basement, the couch. And for the most part, my family gives me the space I need and lives with the skeins hanging all over the place and the constant threat of sitting on a casually placed knitting needle.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always work. Last week, a careless gesture by a daughter resulted in the virtual destruction of my Schacht kate, leading me to a full-blown artistic temprament meltdown. My daughter did nothing intentional, there was no malice intended, but losing major components to a piece of equipment is quite a blow. The parts can be replaced, but that takes time. And money.

The reason for the meltdown was not the damage to the kate--there are plenty of ways around that problem. The real reason was the age-old balancing act that creative women have always had to perform. Creativity of any type, be it visual art, writing, performing, is hugely demanding. There are times that one requires quiet, solitude, focus. And raising a family, meeting the needs of a spouse and household, even in this enlightened age of shared gender roles, seem to eat more into a woman's life than into a man's. My husband does not have to clear the kids' breakfast dishes off his desk before he can start work. The girls can leave their school books or art project laying around their bedroom and just close the door. I have to put everything away at the end of a workday, then clean the room, pull the work and tools out and reset the workspace before I can do anything. Then I have to spend half-an-hour hunting for scissors. And because I work in the home, at my own pace, I can drop everything to give rides, run for groceries, make meals and help with homework.

I know that my creativity and productivity is being limited by the constant disruptions. I also know that I am as guilty as anyone else in pushing my artistic priorities to the back burner-- my family is more important to me. But I would dearly love to have a little room that I can go into and lock the door and say "I'll come out when I'm done". At least for today.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Back to Normal

I guess things are back to normal--or what passes for normal around here!

With the celebration of Ukrainian Christmas Eve last night, the holidays are officially over at Casa Boyd. With the exception of the week that I was felled by our good friend Influenza A, it has been a bit of a whirlwind this year. While we usually stay home for the Christmas season and take it easy, this year we were off to the big city to see family. Preparing to travel, travelling, sleeping in a strange bed, travelling back, and unpacking were all my principle arguments against going away for Christmas in the past. And I still stand by them. However, it was really great to have everyone gathered together for a few days and spend some time with both the kids and the parents. The opportunities to do that are getting fewer and farther between, so it was worth the stress and the ensuing flu.

As always, I did a whack of Christmas knitting. I'm not really production-oriented, but it was a great feeling to churn out project after project.

The only large-scale project was this vest for my Mom. The pattern is from Knitty, and is called The Rocks. I had a wee yardage malfunction, which I am still not sure whether it was my fault or the pattern's, but in the end, it all worked out. The yarn is an acrylic/alpaca/cotton blend whose name and manufacturer escape me as I have misplaced the ballband, and the collar and pocket trim is a wee bit of Fleece Artist mohair.

Everyone else got hats and mitts. The mitts were all on the needles at the time of the picture, but they were all done in time for the big day, which is all that matters.

And, because I am a miracle worker, I also whipped out a couple of scarves as teacher gifts the evening before the last day of classes. Apparently, chocolates just don't cut it anymore! I had grand intentions of posting the pattern before I went away at Christmas, but time somehow slipped away. Perhaps this week....

The girls are back to school tomorrow, which means I have to get back to work myself. I am determined to finish my in-depth study by March, if not sooner. There really isn't that much left to do, so I should meet that deadline easily if I don't get distracted or injured yet again. Touch wood.

Today, though, a little mindless woollen spinning to settle back in and unwind.