Monday, November 29, 2010

Strange Days Have Come

On Mondays, I only have one hour of class, and it's a class that I don't even teach in, and it's a class at 3:30 in the afternoon. At the beginning of the term, when I found out my schedule for the year, I was thrilled--how could I not be? Unfortunately, my peaceful, easy Mondays began to fill up quickly, and now most of my Mondays involve 7+ hours at the school or in meetings.

Today was no exception, and it was made all the more frustrating by the quality of the meetings. The first was derailed by an unfortunate discussion of the merits of social media (and a refusal on one party's part to acknowledge that not wanting to join Facebook is a legitimate position) that took up the first 50 minutes of the meeting. The second was with a former student, whom I normally quite like, who was exhibiting some decidedly snowflake-like behaviour. It was a very uncomfortable situation: I'm torn between my desire to help my former student and my desire to point out that she has been hoisted entirely by her own petard here, and that now is the time to quit making excuses, to quit complaining, and to start doing instead.

I'm twenty rows in to the hood on mum's sweater and it looks pretty cool.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Big Sneezy

The cold rages on, and I am so flipping happy that it's the weekend. Winter arrived quite suddenly today in the form of about 10 cm. of snow. Naturally, I had taken the car in for an oil change just yesterday, and I had contemplated bringing the snow tires along to get them put on, but Mat talked me out of it: "I figure we've got at least another couple of weeks before we'll need them," he said to me. Foolish boy.

But then, I'm the one who listened to him, so I'm actually the bigger fool there.

The annual downtown Christmas walk happened tonight. I didn't make it through the whole walk because it was cold and windy, but I enjoyed the little bit I saw: a Salvation Army brass quartet, later joined by a piper; a guy roasting chestnuts on an open (propane) fire; 20% off at the yarn store...I was good, though, and only bought one skein of yarn. (Dream in Colour Classy in Wisterious.) The chestnut--my first--was very good, though.

I have been meaning to share this project for a while, as I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. A while ago, back when I had borrowed GirlTuesday's spinning wheel, I turned this:

swatch 077

into this:

swatch 094

Like most of my handspun, it looked just fine in the skein and seemed pretty content to stay that way. Then, I was given a beautiful handmade teapot (with matching cream and sugar set) by Grrly as a wedding gift, and all of a sudden, my handspun knew exactly what it was meant to become:

wedding 021

The pattern is Baby it's cold outside, written by my friend Trisha. I had to adapt the pattern because of the Asian-style handle on my pot, but this worked out quite well for me since it meant that I got to knit it in the round. I did a buttonhole for the spout, and used ribbon to lace everything up. It works extremely well--I think I need to make matching cozies for my mugs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Patterns

Some days you have to take the good with the bad. Last week, I had a very sore throat and swollen lymphs nodes in my neck for most of the week, which seems to have transitioned into a full blown cold this week. As of last night, my voice is starting to fade. The good, I guess, is that my students are all involved in a peer editing exercise during class this week, which means that they work hard and I don't have to talk much, which is optimal for everyone involved.

I've been making good progress on the sweater - the back is now worked to the shoulders and bound off, and I'm plugging away on the front. The sleeves are what concern me most: I don't have a good track record with set in sleeves, but I figure that as long as I am patient and take my time, I can do this.

The best news from yesterday, though, is that the two patterns that I submitted to Three Irish Girls have been published and are available for sale on their website. Strangely enough, both patterns are mittens--I don't actually make that many mittens but apparently that's all I can write patterns for. The Breakfast at Jessica's mittens are done in a beautiful blue wool-silk blend, with picot edges and white bows reminiscent of a Tiffany box. The Glasgow Cathedral Mittens are modeled after the Millenium Window in Glasgow Cathedral. I had originally envisioned them in brilliant shades of blue, but the green-based handpaint in the sample is quite fetching.

Three Irish Girls released a whole new lookbook for Fall 2010, with 41 patterns and 33 new colourways. The lookbook can be seen here, if you're inclined to go looking for some yarny loveliness. My favourites are Carey, Eavan, and Mairin

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When I first started blogging, all those years ago, I assumed that the act of blogging would serve as an outlet for my emotions. I thought there would be a cathartic release from sharing how I felt with anonymous strangers on the Internet. What I have found is actually the opposite--when times get bad, I tend to post less and less.

There are lots of reasons for this: Sometimes, the problems that I have are with people who read this blog. In my first year as a blogger, I wrote something about a friend that criticized how she handled a situation. Months later, she read what I had written, and reacted by cutting me completely out of her life. I was young and foolish, and I had a hard time negotiating those barriers between the public and private, and it cost me a friendship. Now that I am older and supposedly wiser, I try to deal with my problems in person rather than delving into the passive aggression that the internet fosters so easily. It doesn't always work, but at least it doesn't create any more problems.

I also don't write about the bad because committing it to words makes it real. I've owned a house for two and a half years now, and it is easily the most stressful thing that has ever happened to me: we've had carpenter ants, mice, sewage backups, a basement flood, plumbing problems, a roof leak, and lots of much more minor things. Writing about these events and the pure, unadulterated panic they entailed would actually have made things worse for me. (In fact, I can feel my blood pressure rising even now when I'm mentioning them in passing.)

So things have been quiet here lately, as I'm sure you've noticed. I had such a good posting record over the summer, and I completely blew it when I went back to work. I love my job, but it is both intense and stressful, and this year I am involved in a fair amount of extra-curricular stuff that is also intense and stressful: I've been negotiating a new collective agreement as part of my union. It has been practically a part-time job in and of itself since August (consuming 10-15 hours a week of my time). Things have taken a turn for the worse this; the administration has decided to cancel all future meetings, effectively ending negotiations for the time being. We get to file for conciliation soon, which means that my bargaining preparations will now be preparations for other things.

I've also been knitting my mom's sweater. I've promised her it will be finished for Christmas, and I intend to keep that promise. I think I hate the yarn, though.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Conversation With My Father

Blech. My beloved has gone deer hunting for the week, and I am ill and behind on my work. In absence of a real entry, I'd like to share with you a conversation that my dad and I had over Thanksgiving weekend:

Kilt Hose in the Wild

Dad: I really like the kilt hose that you made for Mat.
Me: Thank you. I really like them too.
Dad: I like them so much that I want a pair for Christmas. I'm putting in my order now.
Me: As long as you have no illusions about there being a pair of kilt hose under the tree on Christmas Day, I would be happy to make you a pair.
Dad: That's fine.
Me: I'll find some patterns this weekend to show you and you can pick one.
Dad: No, that's okay. You can just make me the same ones in the same colour.
Me: If that's what you want. [silently dies a bit inside]
Dad: Do you know how much kilt hose cost?
Me: Not much as you want to pay for them, I guess.
Dad: The ones your mother bought me cost $40.
Me: That's nice. I like the colour of those ones. [They are a nice forest green.]
Dad: I like the ones you made more. I bet you could easily sell those for $40.
Me: Dad, they have handmade kilthose at Burnetts and Struth. They're made by little old ladies in Scotland.1 Do you know how much those cost?
Dad: Not $40?
Me: No. More like $100. And the yarn that they're made from is not as nice as the yarn that I used.2
Dad: So I shouldn't tell other people you'll make kilt hose for them?
Me: Probably not.

1 The name of the person who knit them is on the tag. It's kinda neat.
2 If you know anything about yarn, I used Knit Picks Bare in the sportweight. The B&S kilt hose are knit in a worsted weight heritage yarn like Briggs and Little--very heavy and very itchy, I should imagine. There's nothing wrong with this--it's just not as fine as what I used, and results in a very different looking sock.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sharing Birthdays

The day before I turned 3, my mother went into labour, and produced Middle Sister. I was sorely disappointed: my mother was in the hospital for my birthday, and Middle was not what I had believed her to be. She was not the fully formed playmate I had wanted, and she had failed to materialize in time for Hallowe'en, so we didn't get to go trick-or-treating together. Such is life when you are 3.

We went out last night to celebrate our co-birthdays, and we had a really lovely evening with our friends. I had to give Caitlin an IOU instead of her actual gift--I'm buying us tickets to see Hawksley Workman when he comes to town next April, but the tickets haven't gone on sale yet.

Today has actually been pretty quiet. A few of my students made me a birthday card (on lined paper with highlighters) and Mat made me a cake. The most exciting (questionably so) thing that has happened today is that the computer in my office stopped working halfway through the day. My office computer is an IBM NetVista Pentium 4, complete with original floppy drive, and it has been getting increasingly cantankerous these last few months. It currently takes over half an hour to complete its turning on cycle. I am hoping that I will be able to have it replaced fairly shortly, as it makes it very difficult for me to get anything done at work.