Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things That Do Not Suck

After a long day of eating, shopping, eating, spinning, shopping and eating, it's important to stretch. Those bags of stuff over the shoulder wreak havoc on the neck.
After more eating, we have parties at which we geek out over the home decor, a rather twee foreign red squirrel in jacquard weave. Neither lovely nor authentically local.
Deb and her colours. Always fabulous.
And then this blog post was going to be wrapped up, signed, sealed and delivered, but time ran short, Internet ran short, and so there's more.

There was the last night of SOAR with its sad frenzy of time well spent about to end, the wine that needs drinking or packing in the suitcase with the chocolates and the plans for next year.

Not enough sleep that last night, I'll tell you for sure, though if Denny managed two hours I'd be surprised.

And then the next morning we left for the cabin which had more wine and I sittng around the kitchen table with stark sunlight and crisp snow outside.

Really, no suckage at all.

We took a walk.

We gathered wolf lichen.

We breathed in gorgeousness.

There was also that silly thing you do when there are multiple cameras.
There were outdoor activities involving sawing and firewood.

The lumberjack thing. All woodsy-outdoorsy. Not everyone though: there was knitting and spinning to do!

Speaking of which, we had a treat of magnificent proportions. We visited Jimmy Bean's Wool (which was none too shabby), but the best part was that we got to go and see The Back.

The Back is the insanely huge warehouse of yarns, most of which don't make it into the actual store. If not for the issue of luggage and the fact that hello! SOAR market just a couple of days ago! I might have made a bigger dent, but I restrained myself with enough for socks and gloves and some yummy hand lotion. Cream. Solid bar. Smells good anyway.

We think that perhaps SOAR attendees, or perhaps spinners in general (the nice ones, the ones we like to spend time with) may have been raised by cats. We so enjoy the food, the snugginess of the fibres, the company and companionableness of other spinners, even though many of us are at heart somewhat solitary, quite independent. And we love to loudly show off the mice we catch/stuff we make, and sometimes even give the reslts of our labours as presents. We're all about the stroking of he senses; we love good food, delicious colour, techniques that sparkle in the mind, fibres that thrill our fingers.

Raised by cats.

Doesn't sound like a bad thing, does it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Again with the snow.
Fortunately it's not far to walk anywhere, and as you can see, the steps are well-shoveled.
At the special interest dinner we were less interested in bast fibers and more about missing Phreadde and Dan. Gord thinks someone should buy a bottle of swill for a toast in absentia.


I did finish my sweater the night I arrived here.
It's hideous both off and on my body. And extraordinarily scratchy.

Once more, ripping was the only choice.

I did have a breakthrough though, when I realized that not every handspun yarn has to be made into clothing, especially when it's so scratchy. A fulled little rug might be a more appropriate use.

And then it snowed a lot.

It snowed again a lot more last night and some more today and I think (hope) iwe're done now.

Stephenie is keeping us busy, and we even came back in the evening after dinner for more punishment, um, instruction.

This weaving thing has lots of winding. Wind into a skein, wind on the other thing so ht it can dry with sizing on it, wind into a ball, wind the warp onto a frame loom. All a bit tedious, nothing serious. The actual weaving itself hurt my eyes and hurt my neck and shoulders and in the interest of not annoying everyone around me with whining and not pissing myself off, I bowed out. I'll watch someone else make their sample and full it while I know with absolute certainty that interesting as this is, I will never try to recreate baize from two or three hundred years ago, and besides, what will I ever use the sample for?

I knitted instead and it was fine.

I hear my cats aren't especially thrilled right now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

All At Once

 These are not things that have happened all at once since I posted last night; but I did photograph most of them today. I did in fact sleep in the interim.

I'm not sure what possessed me, lo these many years ago when I was a new spinner, to buy pale bluish-grey roving, though I guess I know why I spun it fat (I was into that for a while as rebellion against all the thin yarn I was spinning prior to that). And I suppose that once I had the yarn, it wasn't all that much effort to knit it up, but I'm pretty sure I didn't wear the resulting cardigan more than once.

The colour is hideous, it's scratchy, and it has a cosy shawl collar - the last two facts do not play well in the same garment.
I guess I haven't knitted at my usual pace in the past year, because I find myself with only two new handspun sweaters, and one of them doesn't fit well, so I probably won't take it to SOAR. One new sweater. The horror.

On the other hand, I have this yarn, doing nothing in the sweater in the box on top of my bookshelf, and I'm pretty sure it'll be easy to undo.
 Pretty easy to dye, too.

Easy (of course) to knit, but I leave in less than twenty-four hours and all I have is one sleeve and part of the yoke and an inch and a half of a second sleeve and sitting around in the airport, sitting in a plane, sitting in a shuttle, and probably a day or two before I run out of time, so I could make it.
I'm being optimistic - and why not?

If I finish in time, I have two sweaters (instead of one) in the gallery, and if I don't, I'll have something to do with my hands while not in class.

Win-win, right?

I had to get a new sofa to match the chair I covered.
It's insanely comfortable and I think not hideous. Only problem is the old sofa. I'd thought to store it in my daughter's now-empty room for the day when my son gets his own place and needs furniture, but my hallway is too narrow to slide it to her room, though I suspect that two strong people could carry it, tilted, successfully, but I only have one slightly feeble me, so right now it's not contributing anything positive to the overall decor of my house, though the cats seem to find it quite entertaining.

Speaking of cats, my daughter's cat visited for a few days while my daughter went to New York and had a grand time. The cats? Less so.

The kitten took a couple of days to warm up to me (she went from hissing to purring and presenting me with her belly), but my cats remained freaked out, and my easy-going surfer-dude cat pretty much ate nothing while she was visiting.
By the time the kitten left, all three could stand to be in the same room without hissing (mostly), but it was a somewhat uneasy truce. Two more days and they may well have been playing together though.

Or not.

More than a few years ago I bought some fabric that I thought would have made awesome pants. Perhaps so, but the skirt I made instead is none too shabby either.
It's been worn and vetted.

This is the coat with the melted fabric, now thankfully hidden by a pocket. It looks large and lumpy, but it's in fact a-line in shape. Swingy.
 Back in May in Krakow temperatures were way below the average, and the city was full of inexpensive shawls with adverstised fabric content running the gamut from cotton to silk to cashmere to angora, though I'm pretty sure they were all rayon.

So I bought a shawl which did indeed help mitigate the effects of the cold, but it rubbed against a piece of velcro for a few hours and then it was ruined by a large snaggy, puckered section that I could not fix. I did try.

So I bought another shawl with which I was far more careful, and brought the original shawl home, intending to use it to make a tunic (with sleeves made from some other fabric), and this is the only thing I have started and completed since I posted yesterday, because apparently I do in fact love deadlines, much as I rail against them.

Seems they motivate me. Who knew?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Not Just Another

I'm not saying that this weekend is wildly unusual in the existence of the species, but it's not just another weekend which is punctuated by the subsequent Monday at work. It's the weekend that starts a week in which I escape reality to live in a fantasy world where I don't have to apologetically explain "Oh, I spin my own yarn", but can delve into just why I prefer knitting a set-in sleeve into the armhole, top-down, or the oddly surreal feeling of being in a place at a time when my life was not in danger because of my grandparents and great-grandparents, or the need for the uninformed to have to apply for a license to procreate.

I leave for SOAR on Sunday, so my tomorrow will be filled with packing (I have my knitting and spinning and beading projects sorted out) and taking care of details so that I can completely disconnect from anything vaguely resembling any sort of responsibility.

And oh yes, they're supposed to deliver my new sofa also.

Part of my preparations involve new class projects for the February through May time frame.
 Icosahedra and dodecahedra have always been my no-brainer beaded beads, but for people whose heads don't go to three-dimensional geometry quite so naturally, these are always difficult to teach, in part because after a few beads it can be hard to read the beadwork and all too easy to get lost.

If you however colour- or size-code some of the beads, a dodecahedron is very quick and easy, though not necessarily gorgeous. Made with different sizes of base beads, it can take more or less embellishment, and connects very naturally to other dodecahedra with tubular (not cubic!) right angle weave.
 The twin beads continue to lend themselves well to simple thread paths, adding visual interest due to their shape. These shoulder-duster earrings could just as easily have been a simple bracelet or necklace, and I believe a little further experimentation with multiple seed bead sizes will provide some necessary complexity.
I saw a picture of tiny little beaded beads like the one on the right, which to be sure is made in a snap, but it's a little dull so I tried using right angle weave instead of peyote in the one on the right, but the shape was odd, so yay! I found a use for size 6 beads in the centre rendition.

Tomorrow's beading will absolutely for certain focus on one last illustration for the class I'm due to teach the day after my vacation ends, but I really want to play and play.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Weekend

Amy's sale went fabulously well for me, but I'm still making jewellery faster than I can sell it.
 Last weekend I made little dodecahedra to use as earrings; this time I made a bigger one to use as the focal of a necklace, as well as a medium-sized one. The big one was just too plain and gappy, so I embellished with seed beads, and I think I'm onto something good.

I really like it when a basic design can be used in multiple ways.
 I had some help with the beginnings of my packing for SOAR.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Necklace and a Rant

At this minute, just about all the beaded jewellery that I've made that is not specifically more me is not under my roof. I suspect it's already artfully displayed for Amy's home sale.

Peg had admired this necklace a few weeks ago:
And even though she said she would have liked one the same, in the same colours, I didn't:
I debated holding it back for her, but again, I didn't, so if she likes it, she may have to fight for it (unlikely, really that combat will be necessary).

Work has been ... challenging again this week; not so much the actual Things I have to accomplish, but the personalities.

<RANT type="optional">

I have a colleague who has been at my company for a decade and a half, and is continually allowed to get away with essentially bullying everyone else with few consequences.

To be fair, her behaviour is bullying, but it doesn't always result in the actions she wants. She raises her voice while she plays her sad little story (no one cares about quality the way I do, no one else's projects come in on time like mine do, I'm excellent at estimates and no one else is), and because she's one of a group of people who have to sign off on various artefacts of all of our projects, we often spend far too long dutifully making nit-picky meaningless edits in exchange for her signature (this is where she does get her way).

People just laugh and shrug (if they're feeling generous or it's the weekend or they're not directly involved) or roll their eyes (if it's been played Yet Another Time and Damn It's Getting Old) or grumble and mutter under their breath (if they're in that meetimg or are being forced to jump through smoke rings), but no one really stands up to her. And no, I'm not considering a pissing contest with her; for one, we'd both be soiled by the experience, and she'd shout louder and with more practised vitriol than I could or ever would use, and whatever the outcome, she'd shape it into corroborating evidence for her perspective.

She is on my team which makes for interesting dynamics. My mandate is facilitator, roadblock-clearer, and buffer for my team, and in return I hope for mutual cooperation and respect among the team members.

Fat chance.

In a fit of temper in large part due to her pathological inability to accept and deal with change in any way other than to spit and hiss and in an attempt to destabilize everyone around her in order to bring them down to her level of fear and uncertainty, she had a full-on hissy fit (directed in large part but not entirely, and not in a personal way, at me) in a meeting (yes, others were present) on Thursday, and stormed out afterwards.

After percolating for a day (no, I'm hardly impulsive when it comes to difficult situations), I decided to appeal to her better side, the one that can set aside personal fears and act in a positive manner for the benefit of the team, and ask her to help foster better team unity blah blah blah. Since he knows her better than I do, and since he needs to be aware of her tendency to sabotage attitudes, I ran my plan past our boss.

He said that (a) she would not take it well (I figured as much), and most importantly, (b) that it would have no effect.


So unless I actually request that she be removed from my team, making me the person on record for providing her with consequences for her behaviour (and I'm not yet comfortable with that drastic a step), I get to play pacifier for someone who refuses to grow up.

Again and again.

Oh joy.


On the other hand, it's Saturday and I can still taste the excellent meal I had last night.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Last Set

There is only one set of lampworked head pins remaining, and Amy's sale is this Saturday, so this is probably the last of these for a while.
The earrings have dodecahedron beads, and the pendant has a cuboctahedron.

For the math nerds, the reason I chose to make a cuboctahedron is that I had twenty-five 6mm deep orange beads, so I needed to choose a shape with no more than twenty-five edges. Dodecahedra have thirty edges, so a cuboctahedron with twenty-four edges fit nicely.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lotsa Littles

Oh, the coat? No photo, sorry - I should get to it though.  And the T-shirt I finished knitting last week.

I had to add patch pockets so as to make it wearable, and the first thing my fashion maven offspring said when she saw it was "Ooooh, cute pockets!", so I guess it turned out ok.

So Peri has been making head pins which are apparently impossible to resist.
Earrings (sans ear wires as yet) seem to be The Thing that I need to do with them. The long, pointy ones need smaller beaded bits, while the little round ones need more.
 I had a fun morning.

At last week's show I swapped a necklace for some lampwork from a Kansas City (I believe) artist: two large hollow beads and some head pins - but these ones I think will not be for sale, since I don't have ready access to her work, and I'm pretty sure I can order more Peri Pins.
 And then I made another pair.
 And another.
These last beaded beads (and the ones on the orange and purple head pins in the group photo) are just dodecahedra, but not using all the same beads. Turns out that this makes it incredibly simple to see how to construct it, and better yet, very straightforward to explain it too.

In other news, last night was the start of the dance season (first show in the subscription), and all I can say was that I sincerely hope this is not an indication of things to come. It can't be, because Pilobolus will be here next month, and they're all kinds of awesome.

Last night was four pieces by four allegedly professional local dance companies (except one of the dancers is also a bartender, so I'm thinking the word "professional" might be slightly optimistic). Officially all dance companies, but they could have swapped me in for the third one, because I too can look left, look up, look down, hold someone's hand, drop the hand, stare at them when they take my hand, and look right, look forward, etc. No dancing whatsoever, and lame, lame, lame.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Messed Up

I guess I'm done with the upholstery, but not with the upholstery fabrics or sewing.

Mumble years ago, I bought a few yards of upholstery fabric which I thought would make a rather nice jacket, and it seemed it was finally time to do more than admire it.

I searched online and I searched Real Live fabric stores in town for a pattern for a swing coat, saw one which was sort of but not exactly what I was looking for, and decided to keep on looking. 

Eventually I turned to my rather old collection (not a very big one) of Burda magazines which used to be my staple back in the dark ages when I thought I liked sewing more than it turns out I actually do (I like it a bit, but not enough to make ninety percent of my clothes like I used to), and realized that the newest magazines were from around 2003, and there have been a number of fashion shifts whereby every pattern becomes useless. Like in the Eighties the amount of ease for clothes was a huge amount, and then there was a fashion shift to almost everything with negative ease. You all remember the fashion shift from high-waisted to low-rise, from Big Hair to not to much, right? So my Burda collection is replete with oversized everything, armholes that practically reach the waist, shirts which would not motivate one to lose weight, and jackets inside which you could be IWB (Intimate [with another person inside the coat] While Buttoned). I kid you not. I think sewing must be more practical now than in a few decades ago in terms of fabric usage. All those lengths of fabric that I thought were for shirts may well be for dresses or ensembles.

Anyway, turns out an a-line shirt pattern from the early Nineties has exactly the right proportions for a swing coat for today, so off I went (the swing coat pattern from the same era really may be for two of me at one time. Certainly I could get both arms into a sleeve). 

I was slightly short of my main fabric, so I cleverly supplemented with a coordinating solid to make turn-back cuffs, the under-collar and front facings, and then it happened.

I needed pockets (in the coordinating fabric), the kind that are invisible except for the flap, and sit on the inside of the garment. To make these work and dissolve, you need to strengthen and stabilize the main fabric, usually by using iron-on interfacing.

I thought the fabric was rayon (mostly), and therefore able to tolerate sufficient heat from the iron.

I was wrong.
Anubis is helpfully pointing out exactly where I ruined the fabric my MELTING it.

Damn. It was almost finished, and apart from the pockets needed only buttons.

I guess it's back to patch pockets.