Friday, March 23, 2007

Hansel and Gretel

The last of the major non-fibre commitments has been completed...Thickwood Heights School's production of Hansel and Gretel has been an enormous success. I designed the set, Steve built it, Lexi did make-up and Julia played Gretel. The principal referred to us as the "first family of theatre" at Thickwood Heights. Aww, shucks.
The building of the set is always an enormous undertaking with five or six really great volunteers and whatever borrowed shop space we can find. I deliberately designed things to be modular and portable this time around because we did not have a shop available to us, so I figured we'd be building in garages and basements. Fortunately, the acting principal of the high school right next to the theatre happens to be married to the costume designer for the production and, voila! a shop was at our disposal.

I did not get a lot of pictures of the set because I spent a great deal more time than expected backstage helping with frazzled nerves. We have a wonderful teacher who each year serves as BOTWA (Bridge Over Troubled WAter), but she wound up needing to focus on one particular student who had a spectacular attack of stage fright, so I stepped in as assistant BOTWA. Not much to it, but it gave chief BOTWA the peace of mind so she could focus on our nervous Nellie. It's pretty scary when I become the voice of reason.....
This is a wide shot of the gingerbread house. It is a fly, constructed of masonite with a spruce frame. The embellishments include cinnamon hearts (styrofoam), hard candies (styro balls in cellophane), and gumdrops (plastic Easter egg halves with glitter). There is actually a boatload of glitter on the whole thing, but it doesn't show well with this lighting.

Full cast shot. There were 54 students ranging from grade 4-8 in the cast. And they were great kids, for the most part. For just a few minutes, they each got to be a star and have their moment in the spotlight. Children's theatre is a special experience--go watch it, volunteer to help, or support it with donations. It'll do your heart good!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Well, after all that pissing and moaning, it looks like I will get my in-depth study finished after all. I am one sample away from having the spinning done and three socks away from getting the knitting done! How has this miracle come about, you ask? Because I decided that I was no longer going to buy into the greatest lie of the 21st century. You know the one--I have used it a dozen time on this blog....I don't have the time.

This all came about as the result of an encounter with a 4-year-old at Starbuck's. That's how the universe works.

I was sitting and visiting with my friend Bill, knitting merrily away on one of my sample socks in between sips of my half-sweet, non-fat, extra hot caramel machiatto, when I noticed a wee poppet staring at me. I smiled at her and said hi but, ever cautious of parental paranoia, left it at that and continued knitting. Her mommy collected her $5 coffee and came over to see what her offspring was up to when the little girl asked "What is she doing, Mommy?"

It had never occurred to me that there may be people who didn't know what knitting was, so I was a little floored by that innocent little question. Mommy told her that I was knitting, and I invited Mommy and little one over to watch. I explained that I was making a sock out of wool from a sheep, and that this is the way people used to make all their socks. I showed her the old knitting rhyme "Through the fence, gather the sheep, back again, off they leap" to make a stitch. Little missy was very impressed with this trick and I had to repeat it several times. Then Mommy said the thing that really stopped me in my tracks..."I used to do that, but I just don't have the time anymore."

What?!?! You don't have time to knit?!?! What about while you're watching TV, or waiting at the pre-school to pick up your precious little girl? Or while you're standing in Starbuck's, waiting 10 minutes for a cup of coffee?

So off go mom and tot, and Bill and I resumed our conversation and the matter was dropped. But my mind being the rather circular thing it is, the thought kept popping up--who doesn't have time to knit? I kept coming up with opportunities to get a few rows, or even a few stitches, in. While supper is cooking. In the drive-thru line at your local fast-food joint. Grocery store lines, doctors' offices, while reading bedtime stories, travelling to and from the city, on the bus in town, instead of endlessly blogging....

Then I decided that I too wasted precious moments, or found excuses to be distracted when something became challenging. And that that was enough of that. So I started telling people that dinner would be ready when it was ready and that they could walk instead of getting yet another ride today. And I put my money where my mouth is...I knit while I sit and wait. I knit or spin in front of the TV--which isn't that great of a change, frankly! I do not stop spinning because my kids or my dog come into the room. And I set the challenge of getting current things done before I start any new projects, fibery or otherwise.

And now I am one spinning sample and three socks away from being done. There is still the wear-testing to do, but I even have that organized and ready to go.

So, the moral of this story is : You have the time if you want to do it.

Just do it.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I just read over some of my old posts and I have discovered a pattern. Great bursts of work on the in-depth, followed by whining about how I have no time to work on it. Sigh. I have become repetitious. I hang my head in shame.

Home Alone

It's reading week for the big kids and teachers' convention for the little one, so the family has scattered to the four winds and I am home alone for the first time in nearly 20 years. No one else to pick up after, drive around, feed, or find keys (wallets, cell phones, socks...) for. I can go to bed when I want, get up when I want, eat when I want, and, best of all, spin when I want. And I want to spin all the time.

I have been struggling to finish my in-depth study for the Olds College Master Spinner Program for several months now. I had only just gotten started when I broke my wrist in 2005, and the whole thing had to be back-burnered until my wrist healed, which took about a year. I restarted in October of 2006 and have been going in fits and starts since. I seem to average a sample skein a week when I am focused, but I am easily distracted by other projects and family demands.

So this week, I decided to put the nose to the grindstone. I am almost finished the yoga shawl commission, so I can set it aside for a couple of days and spin. And spin I have. I have completed two skeins and spun two singles for the next 3-ply skein. That one should be finished today. Each skein is approximately 200yards; half of the skeins are woollen, half worsted; there are 2,3, and 4-ply yarns; then each sample is knit into a sock plus sample squares. There are a total of 18 skeins/socks, and I now have 10 skeins finished and 6 socks. I hope to get one more of each done before the hoarde returns. It's amazing what one can accomplish when one does not feel obligated to put the needs of others ahead of one's own work. I guess the real question is: Can I keep up the momentum when there are more people around? Or will I use the family as an excuse to procrastinate again? (That's two questions, but who's counting? Oops! Three questions!)