Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January Blues

No, this is not a post about post-festive-season depression.  It's a post about being in a colour rut. (Though a rut is a depression of a sort...)

You see, I've been doing a studio tidy this past week.  I really haven't touched things since getting home from the Tucson/Sedalia trip, aside from shoving piles back and forth to make a tiny space to work in.  I hadn't even unpacked some of the things I had purchased on that trip!  But now that things have slowed down, I was beginning to find the climbing over boxes and shoving of piles annoying, so it was time to tidy.

The job is not quite done--there are still all the circular needles to sort and put away, and a pile of UFOs to frog and store, and one more bin of odd balls that have no home--but the studio is a viable work space again.  But now, as I sit in my comfy spinning chair, I look around and can't help but notice an alarming trend.

I've got the blues.

The blues are waiting to be spun... a variety of painted tops and rovings.

The blues are spun and awaiting knitting... the form of 780 yards of Merino/yak/silk 3-ply, about 1600 ypp/20 wpi.

The blues are freshly dyed... the form of the Paco-vicuna I posted last week, dyed rather spontaneously with a random (and, therefore, unrepeatable-d'oh!) mix of Ciba cobalt and Telana turquoise dyes.

More blues await knitting... the form of handpainted yarns lined up for commission pieces.

The blues are even lurking in other yarns... this 110 yards of bulky corespun made from a batt named "Calistoga" blended by Sayra at Atomic Blue.  Sure, it's mostly greens, but that blue is there.  Mocking me.

The blues are even evident in the UFO pile...

So, am I in a rut?  Or am I, like Picasso, just going through a Blue Period?

In any event, it's January, and I have the blues.  Lots and lots of blues!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Optimism. Or Not.

I'm sitting here this morning feeling all mellow and relaxed and really not caring that I have Important Real Life Things to do.  Things like going to the store to buy soy sauce and baking powder.  Things like getting my glasses repaired.  Things like folding those two loads of towels on the couch.

Instead, I'm sitting here, knitting away on a sweater for Steve and pondering.  Pondering what to do with this...

...340 yards of Paco-Vicuna (28 g), about an 18s/52 wpi.  It is going to be something lacy, of course.  Possibly an Emily Shawl (Rav link).  But the real question is to dye or not to dye.  The natural colour is a lovely, rich, warm beige that I hate to cover up, but beige and I decided to part ways a few years back when my hair turned white.  Blue would be better, but the natural is so pretty.  So I knit and stare and ponder.

And very now and then I get up and check on this...

...Big Pile o' Mo.  Because checking it every five minutes will make it dry faster.  I spent part of yesterday washing marvellous kid mohair locks in natural colours with the vision of a fabulous monochromatic tail-spun yarn that will become the most glorious scarf in the history of the Universe.  But mohair dries in January at about the same rate molasses flows in January.  So I check and I ponder the marvellous yarn yet to come.

All this knitting and checking and pondering has led my mind down a few stray paths, too.  Which brings me to the topic of today's sermon.  Optimism, or the lack thereof.

I am an optimistic person.  Not like Pollyana optimistic, where everything is wonderful all the time.  I do have a little to much skepticism for that, and 50 years of living in the Real World had taught me a lesson or two on tempering optimism with caution.  But I'm essentially a glass-half-full kind of person.  (See the above hopeful delusion that mohair will dry quickly in January.)

This does not mean that I don't notice the bad things.  Or that I don't complain.  I do both.  Lots.  But I get over it, or find a way to turn it around.  I make a joke and move on and embrace the joy in life.

But lately, it has struck me that I am in a minority.  (I may not actually be, but it just seems that everybody is so full of gloom and doom.)  My Facebook and Twitter is full of complaint and misery.  Some seem to delight in reposting news stories of death and mayhem and tragedy of operatic proportions.  Others are sharing the suffering of their New Years resolution diets or the dark days of January (for which I actually do feel some sympathy).   A few are trying to pick political fights-Albertan and American (Neither contest is looking like it's going to be pretty, even to us optimists). There are even a couple who have made disparaging comments on the positive posts of others.  (It may be getting close to time for a Friend Purge...)

Even the Real World seems to be in a bad mood.  On two separate occasions this past week, strangers in check-out lines started conversations with me.  Normally, this would delight me, but these conversations were just openings for them to vent their spleens to a stranger.  (And, as a side note, to the man who believes that photoradar is just a cash grab by the Municipality because they nailed you 3 times on the same stretch of road:  STOP SPEEDING and the Municipality will stop grabbing your cash.  Just sayin'.)  Cashiers and servers grumble about the winter weather, which, in my opinion, has been exceptionally mild this year.  Well, okay, they reply, then say "but just wait, we're gonna get nailed."

You know, when you dwell on the negative, pretty soon it's all you see.  I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of people out there who are missing some pretty awesome adventures because all they can see are the roadblocks.  There is a silver lining to every cloud, but there seem to be a lot of people noticing the cloud to every silver lining these days.

So is it just the January Blues?  Or is everybody depressed because the Mayans are going to end the world this year. (Or because the Family Radio Network failed to do so last year?)  Or is this because there is too much bisphenol-A in our drinking water? Or do this many people just see the glass as half empty?

Well, you know what the optimist in me says to that?

"Glass half-full. Glass half-empty. Who cares?  We've still got wine either way!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


There has been a whole lot of this going on around here lately...

Yes, we are in the deep, dark days of winter.  The holidays are over.  The feasting is finished.  Twinkling decorations are stowed for another 11 months.  It's January, and nothing is going on.

Oh, stuff is happening.  Just not that hectic running about that seems to go on during the rest of the year.  No travel.  No teaching.  Not even a lot of emails rolling into the inbox.  In fact, it was beginning to feel downright dull around here.  Just a whole bunch of spinning and knitting and reading, with the occasional tasty meal thrown in for variety.  Fighting a lingering sniffle.  Really, nothing much to speak of.  I was beginning to get bored.

So, this morning, I decided to start getting things organised for the coming year.  I knew I had a few upcoming workshops that would need supplies, so I started sifting through contracts and emails.  I came up with 13 different classes, in 7 different venues in the next 6 months.  Four, count 'em, four Master Spinner classes alone!  And this doesn't count August-November, where I have at least a class a month booked already.

The list-making, the budgeting, the travel-arranging has begun.  Along with my work on curriculum review, article writing, and my annual foray into set design.  Suddenly, time spent spinning seems very precious, and reading is a luxury.  The last couple of weeks have not been a boring waste of time, but a precious island of calm before the next wave of chaos.  Now those empty squares on the calendar are a respite, a couple of days to rest and recharge.  Because I have been reminded that when I flip the calendar page over to February, there are no empty squares.  Until mid-August.

So, like a bear, I will continue to stay curled up in my little den, living off the fat stores built up by the excess of the last few weeks, resting and recharging.  And when the spring comes (apparently on February 15th!), I will be ready to charge out and face the world.

But for now, I'm gonna curl up and take a nap.