Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Spoke Too Soon

After raving yesterday about how great things were going, this morning it all came back to bite me in the butt. It wasn't any one thing, just a bunch of little things. Let's start from the beginning shall we.

7:30 Cat wants me to feed her so she steps on my face to wake me up. (In retrospect this kind of makes me laugh.) Feed cat, go back to bed.

8:00 Wake up to see if I got an email from my private lesson student who was sick on Monday and may have to cancel today. No email.

9:15 Drag self out of bed. Check email. A response. He is coming today. Decide to stay up because I need to reskein and label yarn before going to see my mom.

9:30 Begin redesigning all labels.

10:00 Finish labels. Put skein of yarn on PVC swift to be wound into a ball. Once it's in ball form I will rewind it onto the swift then twist and label it.

10:05 Realize I began pulling from the wrong end of the yarn. And that the PVC pipe swift sucks at being a swift. It won't turn fast enough and is pulling the yarn.

10:10 Start trying to wind from other end. Realize you had the right end the first time. Yarn begins to tangle.

10:30 * Wind a little yarn onto ball winder, take ball of yarn off the winder, wind by hand through the tangled parts, re-wind onto the ball winder, repeat from * 3-5 times. Decide to finish winding mass o' tangled yarn by hand.

11:00 Take a break to make reservations for birthday dinner with friends on Friday. Find out that there are 5 other large parties there so can't make reservations. They will have to make room for us when we come. Fantastic. (Please note sarcasm.)

11:05 Continue hand winding yarn.

11:30 Teach private percussion lesson.

12:30 Eat lunch.

1:00 Call mom and tell her you got tangled up (literally) this morning and are running late to hang out with her. She tells me not to worry about coming over. She's had a rough morning too. Her inside kitty's heart murmur is worse and a friend's baby boy died of some as yet unknown genetic disease that almost killed his big sister 2 years earlier.

1:15 Finish hand winding 1st skein of yarn. Pull out old, wooden, hand made swift to finish making other balls of yarn. Will use PVC swift (now PVC skeiner only) to make hanks.

1:30-3:30 Finish winding other sock yarn into neat hanks for selling.

3:35 Decide to re-skein lace weight.

3:37 After winding a tiny bit of the lace weight into a ball realize this is going to take a long time and contemplate scrapping the idea. Realize it might be easier to wind yarn from old, wooden swift onto PVC skeiner.

3:38-4:00 Tinker with getting the set up between the swift and skeiner right so that the swift will turn smoothly and the skeiner will catch the yarn correctly.

4:00 Handle on skeiner breaks. Wonder if the screw has been stripped. Realize the screw is fine, it's just been turned so many times in the PVC pipe it's made a bigger hole and now just turns and turns in the little hole without being grippy. This happens, of course, after you already have several, several yards of yarn wound and cannot take the arms of the windmill off to remove the broken handle.
Picture of broke a$$ handle.

4:02-5:15 Continue to mollycoddle yarn onto skeiner. Handle flops in the way. Turn the windmill by hand. Yarn snags on old, wooden swift. Pieces of swift are literally flying off. Stop and stoop to fix swift, then yarn, then start turning skeiner again. Yarn begins to fly off skeiner in loops because it's too tight and is pushing the first few rows over the caps and off into mid-air. Pray that this will just work long enough to finish this one skein. Also, say a lot of words that are unbecoming of a lady.

5:16 Decide never to reskein lace again (unless there is machinery involved).

5:17 Remember that sometimes, when your life is moving in the right direction, Satan will try and attack you the hardest. Feel bad about the curse words. Pray for forgiveness and some relief from horrible, broken equipment. (Not that I feel like some spiritual vigilante armed with dye, yarn, and set of needles but I have prayed a lot about my little business and seen some wonderful results. So maybe I am a spiritual warrior of the yarn-y persuasion.)

5:18-5:35 Picture and label all yarn. (I'd post a picture off all the new colors I dyed, which were really lovely, btw, but the light was terrible and I need to fix them.)

5:37 Feed screaming cat.

5:43 Rush to knit night.

6:00-8:15 Sell lots of yarn, hang out with friends, finish left front of test knit sweater (see below), chat, drink frappacino, have a good time, make up for most of the crappy morning.
8:30 Drive through Wendy's and get Caesar salad for dinner.

8:45 Eat.

9:05-9:45 Upload pictures, cuddle with cat, write blog post.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life in Fast Forward

Have you ever felt like the foot of your life has hit the gas pedal and you're just along for the ride? Yeah, that's me right now. For the past few weeks I've done nothing but try and stay afloat with the demands I'm trying to meet. But it's good. Really, better than I could have hoped for. More on that in a bit. Let's back up a little shall we?

I spent several days with my parents over the last week just hanging out. I was at my former high school for a workshop for school so I stayed with them for a few nights. I love my parents and I love being at their house. It's a relaxing experience for me and I'm glad I live only 45 minutes away so I can visit often.

My parent's dog, Luke, is a huge baby. He's 53 pounds and thinks he's a lap dog.
He'll start by putting his paws on your leg and then, one foot at a time, push himself all the way into your lap. Very sneaky. Except that it's really hard for 53 pounds of fur to be sneaky.

During the morning sessions at the workshop I knit. Usually for about 2 hours while I listened to speakers talk about reading and writing. One morning I was sitting next to a very nice woman who commented that I was smart for bringing my knitting with me. I asked her if she knit and she said that she had in the past and that she was planning on taking it back up when the weather got cooler. We didn't really talk much but as the speaker was wrapping up she accidentally knocked into my binder. Unfortunately my knitting notes and pencil were sitting on top. I grabbed for them and, in the process, stabbed myself with my metal DPN I was using to knit a sock with. For a split second I thought, I've impaled myself with a needle. When I glanced and saw I'd just scrapped the surface pretty deeply my next thought was, I hope I didn't bleed on my knitting.
Thankfully I had neither impaled myself nor bleed on my knitting. But a needle injury on the web of your finger doesn't feel too good. It's all healed now though and, thankfully, it didn't affect my knitting.

I got to test my PVC swift and...
it works! I tried to skein 4 balls at once but the skeins wouldn't stay separated enough so I had to unwind, untangle, and individually skein each ball. I don't mind though because it still goes *so* much faster than my old method. And the skeins come out much more uniform. I had to glue the back leg of the stand to the base since the windmill gets front heavy and was pulling the leg out of the base. It didn't help that the connecting pieces on the base aren't 100 flat and even with one another. I had already thrown out the PVC glue so I just used my Gorilla wood glue. Gorilla can fix anything.

I got to try it out yesterday when I dyed late into the evening.
I've got these in my bedroom with a little fan on them trying to get them dried before tomorrow night. I'm taking them to knit night tomorrow. The ladies wanted to see some of my goodies since I'm running a 26% off sale at my shop this week in honor of my 26th birthday. If you order online just use the code "birthday" when you check out.

My dyeing has really taken off lately. This the area that I feel like has been put on fast forward. Every month I sell a bunch of sock yarn at guild. This past weekend I meet with a woman who is designing a pattern for my yarn. Today I walked into my LYS, Rare Purls, and my friend who owns the store immediatley asked me for some sock yarn to sell. At last count I have only 5 or 6 new skeins of sock yarn. I need to pump up production! It's great, lots of work, but great.

As for knitting, there was the sock I started last week during my workshop.
It's, um, very colorful. I'm making it out of odd little balls of yarn I have sitting around so it's gotten kind of wacky.

Most of efforts have been placed in finishing the test knit sweater.
Sorry, really crappy sideways picture. I've got the body and back finished and the right front started. I think the fronts will go fast. Then I have sleeves and a collar to do. Will I have it done by the end of the month? Um, no comment at this time. I've pretty much stopped sleeping though so we'll see.

Today I caught Penelope sleeping sitting on the edge of the chair.
Just a little cuteness for you :)

Monday, June 15, 2009


Saturday and Sunday were World Wide Knit in Public Days. Our regular group of Noble Knitters who usually meet at Barnes and Noble on Wednesday met up at California Pizza Kitchen for lunch and then gathered in the little bit of shade around the fountain near B and N for some knitting in public.
Please do not provoke the knitters.
Keep hands and arms 20 feet away at all times.

We had a great time hanging out, knitting, and talking.

On Saturday I also started work on a PVC pipe swift. The swift I had been using was just not holding up like I had hoped. This model is a combination swift and skeiner.
I finished it tonight but I'm waiting for a bolt that I had to glue down to dry. It kept loosening whenever I turned the windmill. It's not totally professional but I think it will work better for me. I can't wait to try it out and I just got in an order of yarn that needs to be dyed so I can try it out by the end of the week. I also ordered some new dyes that should be here by Wednesday. Exciting stuff!

My knitting is still going, though slowly. I've had to throw all my efforts into getting the test knit sweater done by the end of the month (speaking of...where did this month go?!? It's already half way through!). I did start a new sock though. I'm in professional learning all this week and I needed something to work quietly on before (and maybe during) some of the larger meetings (I don't knit during our smaller breakout sessions though it would have kept me awake better this afternoon I'm sure).

I thought I'd stick in a picture of Penelope since she hasn't been seen lately.
She got groomed last week so she's looking tiny. Here she is curling up on her blanket one night trying to sleep. It looks like she's sucking her thumb. Currently she is yelling at me to get her treats so I guess I better give in or I won't be able to even edit this post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Orleans: Day 2

Buckle up, it's going to be a long, bumpy ride.

This is a typical shot of my family in action while in NOLA. 3 people with cameras all taking pictures of the same thing and my brother standing around.
Sunday was a visit to the zoo. The first thing we saw was an elephant exhibit. I was about 20 feet away from the paddock so I had a great view. They did demonstrations of how elephants are trained and used in India and other parts of Asia. And yes, that is a guy on the back of the elephant in the picture below.
The zookeeper doing the presentation at the elephant exhibit sounded and looked like a totally stereotypical California surfer and by the end of the talk had wandered off into talking about tortoises. Classic.

We saw some camels which my aunt and I decided were pretty much the perfect pet.
They can store 40 gallons of water in their body, go up to a week without having to drink again, withstand extreme and sudden changes in temperature, lose up to 25% of their body weight in sweat without dying, are excellent transportation devices, and, most importantly, you can spin their fur into yarn. I think I may get a couple.

My brother did his best impression of being a statuary.
Boy with Turtle next to Boy with Water Bottle.

Brandi climbed on stuff she wasn't supposed to...again.
I saw a bear swimming (and some dumb a$$ redneck try and spit on him. I would have loved to have seen the bear scale that wall and maul the guy to death...but I'm evil and vengeful like that.)
Got up close and personal with some baby crocs, and I don't mean the shoes.
This guy was just hanging out in the gift shop.

Saw a loose interpretation of the fabled "Swamp Monster."
He kind of looks like the Chupacabra (ugh, I hope I don't have nightmares from looking at those pictures...).

Got to see the famous white alligators.
These are not albino alligators. They are leucistic which means they lack the pigment in their skin that produces the traditional camouflage coloring. They don't have red eyes like albinos do but blue. There are only 2 examples of white alligators being found in the wild and they both occurred in Louisiana. The first time was in 1986 (or '87 depending on your source) and there were 18 hatchlings found in a nest with other, normal colored, alligators. Scientists speculate that the reason why they are so rare is that, because of their color, they are easy targets as infants to be eaten by prey.

Hmmm...this trip is turning very educational.

Brandi climbed on some more stuff...
We almost got sprayed by some bobcats (there is a reason those fences are 4 feet away from the cages).
My mom communicated with some gazelles (it's a loooooong story...).
Brandi and my brother climbed on things they weren't supposed to.
Brandi is definitely about to be eaten.

Saw some warthog love which was actually pretty cute. The male had wandered off from the female (a total of maybe 30 feet) and she came running over. They embraced in this kind of head butting/rubbing. They seemed totally elated to be reunited even though they'd been apart for less than a minute.
True examples of love can be found in the strangest of places.

Brandi laid on stuff she wasn't supposed to.
And then that night we rode the trolley to Canal Street and back just to say that we'd done it.
Thus ended my 1st trip of the summer to Louisiana. I'll be back there in a few weeks with Brandi again to visit my brother. Brother working in a different state=instant vacation destination.

Knitting wise I've been working on the following, some of which saw a little face time on the way to and from NOLA (I was too busy while I was there to do much knitting).

Test knit sweater
I've actually finished the 3 inches of garter edging and I'm about 1.5 inches into the body.

Britt's baby blanket
Half way through with this. Which is good because my aunt's already having contractions. He better stay in there until the 17th.

Pair of BIG socks for Warm Woolies
The pattern is the Perfect Fit Hiking Socks. I didn't do the stripes or the ribbing all the way up the leg (just at the top). Yarn was Cascade 220 tweed for the main color and Cascade 220 for the toes, heel flap, and ribbing at the top. My friend Carolyn graciously modeled one of the socks a few weeks ago at knit night.
Not for the normal sized foot.
But perfect for a 16 year old boy.

Big 10 socks which were a test knit for a friend on Ravelry.
These are the ones where I got to try out an afterthought heel. Turned out well. Blocking didn't totally fix the pointy toes but I think it did help. Both these pairs of socks are now dry and ready to send off.

In other knitting news I'm working on some job opportunities with my shop and getting ready to dye some more. I'll keep you posted on how all that is going :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Orleans: Day 1

I tried to condense the weekend into one blog post but New Orleans refused to be reduced into just a few pictures and paragraphs. So, here by popular demand, is New Orleans: Day 1. Or, Saturday.

We started at my brother's apartment
before heading down to Canal Street.
From there we went to the IMAX and saw Dinosaurs Alive! narrated by *the* Michael Douglas.
They look so real!

We climbed high and low looking for fish, birds, and sea creatures of all types.
Some enjoyed it more than others.

I'll spare you all the hundreds of pictures of random fish I took but here are 2 pretty cool ones. Some giant ells
and a shark that swam around with his mouth open all the time. I think he had lock jaw.
Next we took a little trip to the Riverwalk which a mall area on the waterfront.
We ate some beignets which my aunt declared delicious.
The aftermath was brutal. There are lots of rules for eating beignets: Don't breathe in. Don't breathe out. And under no circumstances should you shake the excessive sugar off the top.
Brandi climbed on things she wasn't supposed to (this was a reoccurring theme)
and then we visited the insectarium which is giant museum of bugs. Here's my brother getting friendly with some cockroaches.
Brandi and I chose to hang out with the butterflies instead.
Later that evening we went to Superior Grill which had the best burrito I've eaten in a long time and we took turns mimicking my parents' dog who has big droopy eyes and gets things toys stuck on his teeth from time to time.

I got my to-go cup of (rather strong) margarita and hit the town.
I fit right in. Then it was back to my brother's apartment where my dad got some first class lodging.
Tomorrow: the zoo and knitting.

P.S. Check out my future SIL, Brandi's, blog. It's a little glimpse into what it's like to join my family in our kooky adventures.