Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Innovative New Tool!

Do you face challenges when plying?

Are you tired of your traditional Lazy Kate?

Then why not try the all new Lazy Cat*?  The innovative new plying tool that is guaranteed to make plying nearly impossible and add 3% cat fibre content to every yarn you make?

Not only will the Lazy Cat* slow those bobbins right down and keep your yarn from inconveniently becoming plied, it is a fabulous way to remove the smile from any spinner's face.

And when you are fed up with your Lazy Cat*, it can be removed with only  minimal hissing and scratching.

*Patent Pending

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog entry, though the temptation was there...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Would You Like Some Cheese?

Well, that was a waste of a perfectly good two weeks.  If you thought there was some whine in the last post, you ain't seen nothin'yet, as the man said.

First, though, some fibre content and the good news...

I got my SSZ black silk/merino plied.  Just over 500 yards, 15 WPI, and 6 TPI.  It will eventually be the warp for a rigid heddle project, but I have to make the same yarn spun the traditional ZZS first.  At least, that's the plan.

Then I got this all plied and washed, too...

...the Louet Northern Lights from this post.  Super bulky and cushy, there are about 14oo yards of 4 WPI at 2 TPI.  It's all washed, and it took it 3 days to dry, but it's now waiting in a bin until I can get the design muddled out.  Here's a sexy close-up....

I love the colors and there is a sheen to the yarn that is absolutely fabulous!

Now on to the my last post, I alluded to a lingering head cold. It went away.  It was really just a sniffle, sort of a ripple on the surface of my immune system.  Little did I know that it was a preview for the upcoming tsunami... 

Steve came home about 2 weeks ago with a little sniffle himself.  Which turned into a monster headcold overnight.  And for 2 days he laid on the couch sneezing and coughing.  I soldiered bravely on, making soup and making sure there was plenty of Kleenex in the house.  Then, a little tickle began at the back of my throat.  I started to sneeze.  Hard.  My eyes got red and watery.  And the headache set in.

Being the stoic type, I marched ever onward.  There was laundry and spinning and correspondence to see to.  So for three days, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, all the while munching cold and sinus pills, echinacea, and vitamin C tabs.  On day four, I gave up the fight.  I didn't even try to get out of bed.  I surrendered to The Worst Cold in the History of Humanity.

There are not words to describe my misery.  I had what we suspect was the dreaded H1N1 in November and was livelier than this.  For four days, I barely opened my eyes.  I had the most amazing sinus headache--my migraines are so much more pleasant than this headache was.  I had goo built up in the passages in my ear, so the room spun uncontrollably at times.  I lost my voice to post-nasal drip irritation.  I couldn't inhale.  It was gruesome. 

No fever.  No chest symptoms.  Just a head cold.  And ten days later, I am still struggling to recover.

AND AT THE SAME TIME--yes, there is more...

You see, sometimes, when the weather turns really, really cold, the sewer gas exhaust pipe on our roof gets blocked by ice.  This requires us to get the maintenance crew to come and unblock the pipe, which sometimes takes several days to happen.  And while that pipe is blocked, we invariably get not only the delightful aroma of sewer gas drifting through the upper floor of our house, but an airlock that prevents the upstairs toilet from flushing properly and slows the bathtub's drainage to a trickle.  This happened just as we were about to go away for a few days after Christmas.

So, we left it.  We figured the weather would change or we would get someone to fix it once we got back in the new year.  This turns out to have been a bad plan.

We came home to a partially-flushing toilet and a slow-draining bathtub and a forecast of above-zero temperatures.  That meant we didn't have to call the maintenance creww, which, in the past, has turned out to be a great big hassle most of the time, anyway.  So we didn't.

And then the toilet stopped flushing.  It just filled up with water and overflowed.  The bathtub ceased to drain.  At all.  There was much mad plungering and bailing, all in vain.  It was the weekend.  There was no maintenance crew to call.  Steve was sick, and I was beginning to feel a wee bit punky myself.  Then Julia went into the downstairs bathroom, which is directly below the upstairs bathroom.  When she came out, she asked why the ceiling was bubbling in the bathroom.  A brief inspection, followed by a ginger poke at the bubbled paint on the ceiling, resulting in a sudden downpour of sewage into the downstairs bathroom.

Buckets were grabbed and every available container was pressed into service.  I stood, valiantly, under the downpour, catching the mess in what ever container came to hand while Steve cursed above my head, trying to bail the upstairs toilet and stem the flow of water.  Every towel in the house was put to use.  There were tears and curses and all manner of drama.  Then we went to bed.

The next morning, the maintenance crew was called and they mosied on around that evening, climbed the ladder, rattled a hook the exhaust pipe and asked us to check the toilet.  This resulted in another deluge in the downstairs bathroom.  Mr.  Maintenance diagnosed the problem as the ice jam being too far down the pipe for them to reach and promised he would be back in the morning with some brine to pour down the pipe and fix things once and for all.  Steve decided he would try snaking the drain line to see if there was a problem there, too.

The promised brine showed up late the next day, and when I checked the flush this time, there was a mighty bubble and a rush of sewer stink, and a slow, gurggly drain.  Huzzah!  And I sent the maintenance crew on their merry way.  I was so excited that I ran upstairs to flush the toilet again, and that's when the real trouble began.  Not only did it rain in the downstairs bathroom again, but water started to come out around the base of the upstairs toilet.  The wax seal under the toilet had given.  It was too late to do anything but sulk that night, and both Steve and I were well into our nasty colds by this point, so we decided we would get a new seal and lift the toilet the next evening and repair it.

So, twenty-four hours later, with a mercifully stuffed nose, I helped Steve lift the toilet off the pipe and remove the old seal.  There was water right up to the top of the drain, which is not right, so Steve thought he would send the snake down the drain while we had the chance.  Two minutes of snaking, and a clump of something furry, resembling a drowned rat, came up.   It seems that the airlock had created something of a vacuum that sucked all the debris in our drains up to a turn in the pipe and made a massive dam.  Furball removed, the water miraculously drained.  We did not examine the furball too closely, but it did contain, among other stuff, construction garbage that must have been there for the 30 years since this condo was built (because I'm sure none of my children would have flushed nearly 2 feet of baling wire).  The toilet went back onto its new seal, and all has been well since.  Except for the massive hole in the downstairs bathroom ceiling that we are waiting on an insurance quote for...

That was when I decided to stop getting out of bed for a few days.

But I'm up and around now, and while I am not 100%--there is still some congestion that makes my inner ears suddenly malfunction and dizziness ensues, and a mild lingering sinus headache on the left side--I'm trying to catch up.  So many wonderful opportunities have come my way this last few weeks, and I couldn't say no.  But I did have to say "later".  And now later is here.

Whew!  Thanks for letting my get that out of my system.  And for those of you who held on until the end, here is a gratuitous pet picture to cheer you up...

You just know Teagan the Wonder Schnoodle is thinking, "Oh, the crap I have to put up with around here..."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Glass of Whine

...has been half-empty for the last couple of days.  I'm feeling quite trapped in the house by the cold weather, and I seem to be caught in a never-ending spiral of housework that is keeping me from spinning, or doing anything else interesting.  Everyone I know seems to be in a crisis, recovering from a crisis, or anticipating a crisis.  Add a lingering head cold, a sore knee, and a plumbing problem that seems to have no other viable fix than to burn the house to the ground, fake our deaths and move to another country, and you have quite a case of the Oh-Poor-Mes. 

I spent the morning drinking coffee and feeling unusually pessimistic that things would never improve, even though they usually do.  Even a beautiful morning view like this did nothing to cheer me up.

So imagine my amusement when this showed up on my horoscope this morning:

Rather than being a pessimist, embrace the happy moments around you. This attitude will make you feel better. There is no good getting upset over things out of your control.

You know you are a grumpy panda when even the great sages at start noticing.

So let's embrace some happy moments, shall we?

First of all, the workshop line-up for Fibre Week 2010 is finished and up on the website.  Huzzah!  My rather scattered fall made the tasks of getting all of the instructors sorted out and the schedule arranged a little more difficult than it should have been, but the information has all been passed on to the fabulous team at Olds College and they have managed to make sense of it all and put together what looks like another amazing week.  You can check it out for yourself right here.  (I have to add my thanks to Otto and his team at Olds for all their patience and support at this point.  I would still be flopping around in a pile of papers if not for them!)

Secondly, the Christmas knitting is almost done.  Yes, I am well aware that Christmas was two weeks ago.   But the Christmas knitting is usually finished in March, so I consider being one sleeve away from the end of this year's batch a personal triumph.    As usual, I did not have the sense to take photos of the work, except for this one:

The pattern is Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke Cardigan from Interweave Knits Fall 2007 and I knit it up in that yummy, yummy alpaca/silk/cashmere blend I had spun in November.  The yarn was a joy to knit,and aside from a few issues with the fact that I do not read charts carefully, the knitting went quickly.  Okay, there were a lot of issues with my inability to read each line of a charts carefully, which led to the Tweets about the Celtic Cables of Insanity.  This is in no way a reflection upon Ms. Jang and her pattern, but should have been the first clue that things were slipping around the edges of my mind.

The sweater turned out to be stunning, in spite of my best efforts to ensure otherwise, and was much appreciated by Miss Lexi.  I'm hoping to see a picture of it being worn someday (hint, hint?)

The other gifts included a Moebius wrap for my sister that I liked so much that I'm making one for myself out of the same yarn, and a hat for Brendan.  Promptly wrapped and shipped off to Edmonton, without a photo shoot.  D'oh!

My third little happy thing actually involves a project that got bumped from the Christmas list pretty early on.  I spent the last couple of days spinning up the cashmere for a hat for Miss Julia and I now have about 225 yards of lovely, is somewhat pink, 3-ply fingering weight yarn to knit up...


So I've made some nice string, gotten some knitting done, even set up the loom to finish those tea towels I started last year.  My household is all suffering from the same cold I have, and we are all red-eyed and snuffly, but we are together and wearing handspun, handknit goodies to ward off the chill.  The forecast is for warmer weather, which should resolve the cabin fever and the plumbing problem for a while.

And I have three weeks of clear calendar to spin in.  Things start getting nuts again in Mid-February and the teaching season kicks in in March, but, for now, there is time for me to spin.  What could be better than that?  Okay, maybe a working bathtub, but what else?

Today is St. Distaff day, also known for some bizarre reason as Rock Day, the day when spinners and weavers traditionally return to work after the Festive Season, so it seems appropriate that I set aside everything that's bugging me and sit down at the wheel.  There is a bulky yarn to finish up, some Merino/silk to ply, and some guanaco calling my name from the stash.

Well, what do you know?  It worked!  I'm in a much better mood.

I'm gonna go spin.

Friday, January 01, 2010

In With the New

Happy 2010!  We managed to make it through another year--some of us more gracefully than others, but here we are nonetheless.

We celebrated the changing of the decades in Edmonton, with family.  There was much laughter--perhaps a little too much--along with fondue and, well...  Really sweet shoes.

At this time of year, so many of us pause to reflect on the year that has passed and examine its events and their impact on their lives.  Every time I tried to do this, I felt a little overwhelmed.  So much has happened that my wee brain cannot process all of the data at once!

Let it suffice to say that 2009 was a year of transitions and flux.  So many changes in my life and the lives around me.  So many babies born, jobs lost, couples married.  So many new ventures, successful and otherwise.  So many illnesses diagnosed (too many!), new friends made, old friends lost.  So many adventures embarked upon, and much travelling to new and exciting places.  So many new knitters and spinners converted.  To list everything that happened in 2009 would take longer than it did to live it!

Life is change, and this year was well-lived.

I have learned through the years that, like a roller coaster, life will go where it's supposed to, and it's best to just hang on tight and enjoy the ride, no matter how scary.  And on the first day of 2010, the first day of a new decade, I'm clutching the bar of the roller coaster cart and closing my eyes as it climbs that first climb.  I know that when the car reaches the top, the ride will begin again and all I can do is hang on and scream when I need to until the car rolls into the boarding platform.  And I'll stagger off and maybe throw up a bit, then yell "Let's go again!"

Or, who knows?  Maybe this year I'll decide to ride the Tilt-a-whirl instead.