Monday, July 6, 2015

Blogiversary #7 - My 7 Favorite Blog Posts

Yep, it's my 7th Blogiversary. And in honor of that event, I thought I'd present my 7 favorite blog posts.

Blogger has a widget to show which blog posts are viewed the most (it's on the left side of the blog - "Oddly Popular Posts"). But the blog posts folks view most often via the odd Google search (like "mini bamboo" or "Sock Summit") or from a Ravelry Yarn Bowl discussion are not necessarily my favorite blog posts.

So, here they be, in no particular order - My 7 Favorite Blog Posts from the last 7 years of blogging:

November 15, 2010 - "The Obnoxious Furry Quilt"

May 31, 2013 - "Sit Long and Prosper"

June 29, 2010 - "Cat Burglar and Kitty drugs"

It was rather fun and poignant to review all the blogs I'd written over the last 7 years. There have been a lot of life events, fun videos, paradigm shifts, and kitty pictures. We'll see what comes next, but I'm absolutely positive there will be more kitty pictures. {wry grin}
Thanks for visiting. Blessings Be.

Friday, June 19, 2015

No, really, I only did this for school...

Yep…that's what I keep telling myself. ;-)

I have many interests/diversions {that's an understatement} that go with the "Jack-of-all-Crafts, Master-of-none" in the blog header. However, I actually DO try to resist picking up every craft or new technique to which I am exposed. Sometimes I am even successful!

As part of the Spring semester's weaving class, a very talented and experienced spinner from the Tucson Handweaver's and Spinner's guild came by to demonstrate spinning on her spinning wheel and to support our instructor's guiding us on spinning yarn on drop-spindles. My spinning efforts on a very well-loved drop-spindle from the classroom cupboards produced, uh….more effort than yarn. {grin} You could say I epitomized the "drop" part of drop spindling.
However, I did dutifully take home some mystery fiber to try and spin it on the drop-spindle I have at home, obtained after a spinning lesson {mumble} years ago.

Said drop-spindle still had on it some of the "art" yarn (i.e. thick-n-thin) I'd spun in that first spinning lesson with a bit of un-spun roving hanging from it.
People pay big bucks for "art yarn", don't they?
(Ok, maybe not this art yarn. {grin})
So (since the cats were asleep), I roughly spun the pink/red roving into more "art" yarn, attached the new mystery fiber (later identified as bamboo), and did a little spinning - as homework . I was somewhat relieved that my less-well-loved drop spindle spent much less time on the floor than the classroom spindle (and I didn't wake up the cats) but I was still achieving "art" yarn.

A few days later, I was attempting to explain spinning to a classmate who had missed the spinning demonstration due to illness and something quietly clicked. No, not a big "ta-da" click, just a quiet "makes more sense" click and when I went to try to show her how spinning on a drop spindle was done - I was actually able to spin something a little more even than "art" yarn. She thought I was a prodigy and I was rather surprised to be, well, spinning.
Isn't this what real spinners do?
Take a picture with a dime to show the width of the yarn?
{A nickel might make mine look more impressive.} 
It was kind of fun. And I found myself spinning just a little more of the bamboo and thinking about picking up a bit more from the classroom to spin. And then I went to my stash and tracked down this ball of orange-y roving that had been sent to me in a yarn order of many years ago….

...and then… I got distracted with the next adventure in our Weaving class (Solar dying) and I didn't get back to spinning.
But I keep thinking about it. And I really enjoyed the spinning I did this semester.

But I already have soooo much yarn. The idea of spinning to create more yarn to add to the scary stash causes a question-my-sanity moment.

Though...I could…just spin up the mystery roving to see what happens. If all else fails, I could add it to a fulled kitty bed project….

We shall see. Besides, I've never considered myself to be perfectly sane. {wry grin}
Isn't it: "You have to be loopy to knit (crochet), warped to weave, and twisted to spin."?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The World Stands Still and Waits For Me

I have a recurring fantasy.
I find that a stray door in my home, when opened a certain way, leads not into the usual (messy) room or closet but into….a lovely, tidy cabin in the woods. (No, come on back. It's not a Joss Whedon reference).

The cabin has heating/cooling, running water, electricity, and a great view of the nearby lake and hills. It is late spring or early summer and there are hiking and swimming options but no bears or mosquitoes (!ha-ha!). Getting the picture? The cabin also has a great window seat/reading nook - well lit and with lots of pillows and a soft, woven throw for snuggling under. There is also a nifty screened-in porch ('cause there might be other bugs) with hanging chairs and a rocking chair. There is a computer built into the kitchen island that allows me to request food-n-such as needed and the shopping list is fulfilled that night. Poof - it's just there the next day just as the trash magically disappears overnight. {!Yes!} The best feature of the cabin is a roomy studio that supports all of my craft explorations in weaving, knitting, ceramics, sewing, tatting, needlework, etc.

It's a slightly boring fantasy where there is no strife, no angst, no heroics, no depressing world news or distracting cable TV, and no romantic interest. There are cats. The cats get to come with me through the door from home. There is also a fair amount of solitude, because once I discover the abilities of this stray door, time suspends for, say 6 months, and I can't leave my house.
This is the true core of the fantasy. I can move back and forth between my house and the cabin at will. Food, cat and general/craft needs are addressed by the shopping list. And the world stands still and waits for me.

Waits for me to do what? What do I do with the 6 months of no phones, no errands, and not going to work or school?
No worries. I sleep. I craft. I organize. And I clean.

At home, I read all those Oprah magazines that I haven't finished. And I read more of my many, many books (and I get actually read some of my craft books instead of just using them for reference material!). I explore movies and TV series I haven't seen like "Call the Midwife" and "Outlander". I bundle up stuff to be recycled and donated. At the cabin, I hike and swim and eat ice cream (and don't gain weight!). I go through ALLLLLLL my e-mails and start/finish Christmas Cards. I knit gifts for the holidays and birthdays for the next year. I go through all the published Interweave, Knitty and Twist Collectives and I add the patterns that make my heart sing to my Ravelry queue/favorites list. I water my plants regularly and scrape and paint the back porch. I blog (well, pre-blog because time is suspended for the rest of the world) and I set up projects and knit sweaters/hats/socks. I weave and explore techniques I've only seen in books. I throw pots and yarn bowls and mugs (in a side-room of the cabin studio. Gotta keep the ceramic dust off the yarn-y crafts, y'know). The wish-list of to-do's to accomplish could fill up a week of long blog posts.

Yeah, I know. There is no way I could get the above list done in 6 months. {grin} But, it's a fantasy. The 6 month time limit acknowledges that I'd achieve a whole 'nother level of "odd" if I only had the cats for company for longer than 6 months. Ha - would I even last 6 months?
I must also giggle at the fantastical idea that I would diligently work daily to accomplishing the things on my loooong to-do list and not get distracted with knitting a shawl or something (which is pretty much what happens in reality).

The Spring Semester ended a couple of weeks ago and I've begun to step past the initial panting rest from the hyper-focused work/school world I occupied for the past 4 months. I'm also consolidating long-neglected to-do lists and plotting both necessary and fun projects for my "Summer vacation". I've actually crossed a few small ones off the list, but there is so much to do.

So, as I was gathering those to-do lists, I was a'wish'n that I had some additional funds and {greedy me} more time to work on the many to-do's. Then... I realized…that while I can't escape to the quiet and safe cabin in the woods to craft in an already clean-n-tidy environment whilst I slip back to methodically work my way through cleaning and organizing my neglected home…my current reality is actually a modified version of my fantasy.

I'm still working part time but I'm usually home before mid-morning. The cats are with me for company when the DH heads off to work. And with school out for the summer, I'm not in class or monitoring the weaving lab 5 or 6 days a week then getting home an hour before bedtime.

I don't have 6 months before the Fall Semester begins, but for the summer I can read books and magazines, visit Ravelry, clean and craft. I've queued up "Outlander" to come from Netflix. I can work on clearing my e-mail and haul things off to GoodWill.
And look {wry grin} - here's a blog post!

But best of all, in this reality, the world doesn't have to stand still and wait for me. I can meet up with friends and spend time with my DH (Dear Husband - who makes my current fantastical reality possible with his patience, humor, insurance and willingness to treat me to dinner and a movie 'cause I'm still living the financial diet).

It's kind of weird to realize that a bit of a fantasy has come true. Surreal and smile-worthy but a little embarrassing that it took me so long to catch on. Blessings actually be. Huh.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Other adventures of the New Year...

Aside from acclimating to the early hours of the new job, I have been distracted by other adventures this New Year relating to… 
The sudden passing (stoppage) of our front-loading washing machine. {sigh} 

Yes, the front-load washer in which I have been magically fulling knitted and woven items for more than a decade suddenly stopped working right after Christmas. {Sigh}

The "demise" of the clothes washer was discovered after the washer liberally applied water to the first load of the weekend (towels and such) when it made an unhappy squeak/whurrr sound instead of the motor quietly starting to move the washer drum.

We believe the motor had gone out - as it had once before a decade or so ago with a similar lack of warning. We hung the hand-wrung {oof}, not-clean laundry outside on the clothes line until another clothes washing option could be identified.

Based on the original cost of the washer and the cost to replace the motor the last time, we decided we should probably invest in a new washer. We considered our washer-replacement options on-line and came to the realization that the newer front-loader models literally would not fit in the available space in our laundry room.

The newer top-loaders don't all have the agitator-post so they are supposedly gentler on clothes and they also now have sensors so they don't fill up/submerge the clothes in water - wasting a precious resource.
(Are you noticing an aspect of self-convincing from the above-listed features? I am.)

As it turned out, the new energy-efficient top-loader washer we chose would take a few days (due to the holidays) to get to Tucson. Inspired by the need for clean clothes, we investigated the 3 laundromats closest to our home. Two of the laundromats made my skin crawl a little and they also required the purchase of a laundry card. {Sigh}
The third one was very clean, always has an attendant readily available and didn't require a long-term laundry credit card investment. {Laundromat nirvana!}

The next morning, we pulled the (now frozen/crunchy) towels off the line, loaded up all the immediate-wash laundry, soap, extracted the dose of bleach from the defunct washer and trucked everything down to the nice, clean laundromat.
Yep, the DH and I visited that Laundromat for a few weeks - excellent weekend bonding time.

Noooo - of course it didn't take weeks for the washer to arrive/be installed.

The extra week at the laundromat was inspired by the semi-flooding of our laundry room when the new washer unloaded the used water at a volume and velocity that was too much for the current state of our plumbing. {SIGH} This time we didn't wring out the sodden towels, we had the washer finish spinning out the excess water (and re-flood the floor just a little more) and we trekked on down to the nice, clean laundromat to deal with the week's laundry.

The nice guys who had rescued us from frozen pipes a couple of winters before came by on Monday to roto-root the pipes and educate me on the basics of how the plumbing flows in our house.

Aside from the oddly similar holiday-timing, the demise of my front-loader is not quite like the passing of the Yarn Harlot's Sir. Washie. (I never washed diapers for beloved children in our front-loader, just a lot of kitty-towels.)
But I knew the machine's functions well, it worked like a champ (except when the motor died), and it treated our clothes very gently.

The new washer? Well, it's pretty. And it has a lot of wash "settings".
(I don't seem to own a range of clothing types that require so many settings…)

And it kind of matches the dryer we had to buy about a year ago (when the heating element on the old dryer went into over-drive and set-in impressive (crunchy) wrinkles in the DH's permanent press work uniforms).

And it's certainly roomy enough to wash the Obnoxious Furry Quilt (probably along with a full load of towels and maybe some sheets too.).

But I miss being able to use the top of the washer as a shelf and I have noted the lack of a lint/drain filter of any kind (rather useful with 4 constantly shedding fur-balls and my interest in fulling wool). And…. I need to research the "dust" I'm finding collected in creases of the just-washed clothes.

Let's just say I'm still working on the self-convincing aspect of this needful purchase.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Whups - it's the New Year already, isn't it?

{wry grin} Today, as I was attempting to make a dent in my long-neglected e-mail, I was jolted into full recognition that the New Year was well underway.
(Yes, the acclimation to the new job continues.)

The subject line of Interweave's "Weaving Today" mailing of a few days ago said "Weave more towels in 2015!". The intro above the pattern/kit offerings said "Resolve to Weave more in 2015!" and I realized I hadn't had even a passing thought to making resolutions for the New Year.
Whups, oh well.
S'ok, I actually don't make resolutions, I tend to set "goals".

Actually, the new job is allowing me to achieve a couple of (wishfully) long-pursued goals:

  • I have always admired folks that get up early and accomplish a lot before the sun comes up.
    Granted I'm not accomplishing much more than getting up and getting to work, but it's a start.
    {The part that boggles me most is the daily realization that, in my schedule, 4 in the afternoon is the equivalent of 8 PM and I'll need to hie myself off to bed after another hour or so.} 
  • Weight loss!
    {wry grin} When you spend the first few hours of the day lifting, pushing stuff, stretching, lifting more, and semi-speed walking, some weight loss is inevitable. I have lost enough weight that a belt is required for modesty's sake on my larger pants and I'm fitting comfortably into some pants I haven't worn in a number of years. (I'm also ravenously hungry every couple of hours - go figure.)
  • Newish to the wish/goal list - some financial support for my Fiber Arts Degree adventure. I have submitted my first request for tuition reimbursement (yay!) to the new employer.
    (Bonus - I have received a number of verbal and even written compliments on my work at the new job. It is always nice to be appreciated. {Happy sigh.} I'm hoping I can learn more and continue to be useful.)

I guess my New Year's goal (wish) would be to acclimate more to my pre-dawn schedule so I'm not craving a nap (nodding off) a few hours after I get off work. {yawn…}

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I Am Acclimating

Life happens. Change happens. Life changes.
My life is changing - again.
I think the changes are an improvement, however, they are requiring some profound modifications in my physical energy, sleep patterns, and lab time for school.
I am acclimating.

Over the summer, I ramped up my search for a part-time job. The plan being to find a part-time job that would allow me to finish my Fiber Arts degree and offer me some financial respite (i.e. funds coming in instead of just going out). Sadly, since most folks weren't hiring over the summer, the job-search continued into late summer and early fall.
However, I am pleased to report that I found a rather excellent part-time job!

I still think it's inappropriate for me to comment too directly on the folks that employ me. I do think they're brilliant for hiring me {grin} and they have a very good reputation as an employer - which is why I looked into getting a job there. They are very safety-oriented and they do a pretty fair job helping their employees acclimate to the job's physical requirements and to avoid injury. I like that!

I am considered permanent part-time and am currently only working two to three hours a day. The time goes VERY quickly and I'm learning a lot. The new work that I do is an excellent physical workout and I get out of work in plenty of time to attend my classes.
Bonus!! They offer Tuition Reimbursement so I'll be receiving some financial assistance for my current educational pursuits! {Happy dance!!}

The challenge with the new job ... I need to get to bed in the early evening to achieve 8 hours of sleep. Yep, I get up in the wee hours of the morning to go to work.

On my first early morning to-work exit, I looked up in the sky and was delighted to find the constellation Orion right above me.
Photo is borrowed from the spiffy AstroSociety.Org. webpage.
It is my favorite constellation and I'm used to seeing it in the Winter sky. But there it was to greet me on my first "day" {pre-day} of work. I took it as a good sign.

The sleep patterns are requiring the most acclimation. But I enjoy the lack of traffic as I go to work, the view of the sunrise as I leave work, and the endorphins generated by my work "work-out". Oh - my meal schedule is also migrating and I seem to be hungry most of the time. ;-)

As I said, I'm new and I am learning a lot but some days I'm embarrassed to say that I feel a little like I'm in an "I Love Lucy" episode. This one, in particular:
There's no chocolate involved in my new job (more's the pity) but there are conveyor belts and moving items to sort through/move that I'm still learning how to manage. I'm not the only one performing these tasks so I'm perversely pleased to report that on occasion I'm not "Lucy". {wry grin}

I feel a nap coming on. I'll try to check back in sooner over later. ;-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Streak of Similar Happenstance

Do things happen in your life that almost seem like random but related clusters of odd instances? Like a streak of similar happenstance?

This week, it was random, charming and fun videos that delighted me. Several came from the web site (and were sent to me by several people.)

"Kitten kung fu attacks ceramic cat". Better known as "Enemy Cat" from Karpalo77's YouTube page.
(He mew-growls like our Gryphon.)

I then fell in love with this Ceramics video I found from the American Museum of Ceramic Art.
(Please forgive me if my links go astray, the YouTube links are behaving oddly.)

"Unsung Hero", a Thai Life Insurance advertisement, is particularly lovely:
(It's easiest to read the subtitles if you click on the "Full Screen" option at the bottom right of the video insert or use the link in the title above.)

Heather at CraftLit mentioned this video in a June Tweet - Another reason to love Nathan Fillion in this Parade magazine interview: "Castle's Nathan fillion Reveals His Favorite Reads".
{whispering: "I want to see this again tomorrow" ;-)
Watch the interview and I think you'll get my pun.}:

Lastly, both Heather Ordover at CraftLit and David Reidy of the Sticks and String podcasts raved about "Weird Al" Yankovic's new album/videos. I must agree with their raves - I think Mr. Yankovic is brilliant! The DH and I have been having a great time watching these:

"Word Crimes" from "Weird Al" Yankovic.
{I'm quite sure I'm guilty of these from time to time.}

And referencing another favorite I included in the blog in February, this is "Tacky" by Weird Al:

Can't help but share the joy!