Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spill Over

The big juried craft show is over and I am on the way to recovery--sort of. I find that these things really exhaust me. I try hard but am probably not cut out to be a retailer! Right now, I have these little piles of stuff in the living room, loom room, etc. that are all migrating slowly to be put"away" in slow motion. I find that everything is very tidy before I go off to teach, etc., but when I come home, there is this spill over exhaustion that keeps me from putting everything away as neatly as I got it out in the first place.

The craft show itself was interesting. The crowd was a lot younger and more hip than I expected. As a result, they spent smaller amounts of money. I did sell a bunch of stuff, but it was almost entirely handspun yarn and signed copies of my books. A lot of knitters and crocheters (again, majority of them under 45) snapped up my handspun. They fondled and talked about it with me, lovingly discussing gauge, texture, fiber, and yardage. In one case, a twenty something guy who knits came up, proudly showed me his handknit alpaca toque (hat) and then saw Fiber Gathering on the table. "Hey," he says, grinning, "I have that book!! NO WAY! You wrote that book?!" That was fun.

By contrast, occasionally, it was difficult not to be snappy or sarcastic...like when people doubted that I'd made the things for sale at my table. (NO, this is all an elaborate farce where I import things from developing countries and pretend I made them at juried craft shows!)

Here's another one. These same people started picking up copies of Knit Green and Fiber Gathering and I said I'd be happy to sign copies of my books. "You wrote these books?" those folks said, in an entirely shocked and surprised tone. (NO! I thought, I'm volunteering to sign other people's books.) Luckily, I didn't let that thought out even once, although this scenario happened more times than I'd care to admit. I'm telling you, my dear blog readers, because it was hard to hold this one in, believe me.

What didn't sell? Most of my handwoven stuff...you know, the stuff I've been working so hard on this past year. I sold 1 rug to a friend (and I would have just given her a rug, honest), 2 scarves, and 2 pillows. The rest came home with me. I even had people tell me that the rugs were "too nice to put on the floor" and I told them they could put them on sofas, chairs, or even on the wall if they liked. They fondled, touched, let their babies drool and roll on, and even put their purses and belongings on the rugs as they sorted through their other purchases...but they were apparently too good to put on the floor! (that one confused me...) I haven't quite figured out what to do with those, because although I wouldn't hesitate to put my rugs on the floor, I'm not going to put 14 of them on the floor. There is such a thing as, umm, over decorating...

The second case of spillover happened right in the middle of the craft show. Saturday morning, I wandered downstairs to have breakfast and noticed a weird grassy smell on our first floor. I raced back upstairs and accused the professor of having watered all our houseplants at once. (apparently a crime?!) He apparently hadn't watered them that morning, and the sceptical look he gave me was amazing. I mean, I know I've been weird while on this wacko medicine..and maybe I've accused him of some strange things, but obviously, even his patience has limits...

I decided to check out the basement while the kettle was heating water for tea. Uh Oh. Water on the floor in the distinctly grassy smelling basement. Not a good sign. I raced back up to the 2nd floor--the poor professor. I mean, poor guy was about to step into the shower when I told him the news.

We had to divide and conquer. He stayed home to have a date with the plumber. I rushed off to the craft show by myself.

A couple of hours and $440 later, the professor joined me and told me that the drainage pipe "had been cleared" but that we might have a problem with the sewer pipe that went out to the street. We'd find out on Monday, when the plumber could come back with a special camera that saw such things.

You'll note today is Tuesday. The news is not so good and we have a dvd of the pipe to prove it. At the least, some pipe is mis-aligned, but given that our house is nearly 100 years old, it's probably time to replace all those pipes before they all misalign, disintegrate or fill up with more tree roots...yup, we saw dirt and tree roots in there. Since the plumbing pipes in Winnipeg are roughly 8 feet underground (and under 15" or more of snow)--we'll be having another plumbing appointment with a backhoe soon.

Even if I'd sold all of those rugs, it probably wouldn't pay for this. Maybe it's good I'm on this stoner medicine. I feel very accepting about all this "spillover" in my life. Mess? Complication? Plumbing problems? Par for the course. Whoa. That's very laid back of me.

If you've known me a while, you know this is SO not usual...

The professor and I are having a very low key Hanukah. We're giving each other gifts:
On night #1: We'll get to flush our toilets. Hurray!
night #2? wash our hands!
night #3: take a shower!
night #4: do laundry!
You get the picture...? Little presents and sweets?--we can skip those. Sewer drainage from our house? That's priceless.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A winner!

Congratulations to StephCat, who just won the gift certificate contest! Thanks to everybody for participating. I am slowly (very slowly) going through everyone's comments, visiting your blogs or dropping you emails, and enjoying all your thoughts. Thank you so much for saying hello. Some of you are old friends--for instance, we spun together in a guild in North Carolina 8 years ago...and others are new acquaintances I am meeting via the internet. It has been delightful to hear from everyone. Please keep it up when you might have something to say via comment. I love hearing back when I post.

The professor took this photo of our house in the snow as he was out shovelling. It's supposed to snow again tomorrow, so there will be more white stuff to come!

You may wonder how I chose the winner for the blog comment contest. Well, the truth is that this time, I had the professor do it with the Random integer program online. I used to do it myself, but well, it's a funny story. When you add my looney toons, anti-histamine addled brain into the mix, well, I set it up (1-21=the total number of comments, 1=winner), and then it chose a number. Wow, I said! That was fun. Then I did it again. I chose another number. And again. Then, by the time I had 3 numbers, I realized I no longer had one winner...and if I did, the one winner wouldn't be random. I would have chosen 1 out of 3. In fact, I had forgotten the first number by the time I'd gotten to the third. This seemed funny, but then I realized, uhh, this is how come I'm not driving when I'm on this medicine... so I had my lovely husband do the hard work of being objective.

Luckily, the doctor has suggested I can reduce my dosage and stop taking this medicine in December, if all is well. That is probably good. In the meanwhile, I might go back to entertaining myself with random numbers. Apparently that's all it takes. :) (yes, I'm easily affected by medicines...)

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Sunday, November 21, 2010


Remember to leave a comment on that last blog post (the one that says "Win Something!") before Monday afternoon! I am loving the comments and enjoying hearing from all of you, including some new-to-me lurkers. Thank you so much for making me feel cheery this week with your comments. I loved reading them! One more day left...comment on!

Our weather in Winnipeg this week has been fantastic if you're a snow lover, like me. Yes, I love snow, even after living in Ithaca, NY--yearly snowfall average? 67.3"or 171 cm and Buffalo, NY--93.6" or 238cm. By comparison. I think we've gotten about 20-30 cm (8-12") in two separate snow falls this week here. This is a lot in one go for Winnipeg, according to the radio. The picture at right is one that my professor took from his laboratory window. It's the U. of Manitoba administration building--but it looks like it's in a snowglobe!

Better yet, the "asthma and allergy" portion of my health has improved immensely with the cold weather. I'm not quite fixed in the health department, but every time I step outside, I'm grateful for the weather change. No more leaf mold! Deep breaths again-- Hurray!

Inside, I'm working hard to get ready for the Handmade Holiday Sale, which is happening on Friday and Saturday this week. Since I'm still a bit, umm, mentally challenged with the antihistamine medicine I'm on, I work slowly. However, this week, I did some weaving and dyeing.

I will be selling a bunch of handspun yarn at this sale, and some of my stockpile was a very boring natural white color. I dyed all that blue yarn in the front of the stash there this week. While I was doing that, I decided to do some renovations of some of my winter woolens. Long ago, I wrote this article for Knitty, an online magazine. Each fall, I do a bit of "renovation" to make my older handknits seem fresh or interesting. This year, a white Icelandic wool hat (pattern in Fiber Gathering), a pair of plain white medium wool mittens and a handspun Rambouillet scarf cowl took a dip in the dye bath. Check out the result...brand new (old) knits!

When I was a kid, my mother always wanted my accessories to match. I've never managed the matchy matchy stuff particularly well--and this dyeing job was no exception! If you look carefully, you'll see that the cowl doesn't exactly match the hat and mitts--it's pinker. This is because they were different breeds of wool, different kinds of processing/knitting, etc. That's ok though--because I doubt I'd be able to remember to wear them all together in any case!

I also was able to finally finish this light green scarf for the sale this week. It has been a struggle, as I haven't felt up to weaving much. Even so, I forced myself to get it done, and I'm very pleased by how it came out! I combined two different yarns with very close (but not matching) spring greens. The plain weave has texture and tonality from these two yarns, and I am sure it is just right for someone. I hope that someone (whoever he or she is!) comes to the sale next weekend.

That's the fibery stuff from here. I've also managed to make a chocolate hazelnut cake for a friend's birthday, and we'll brave the un-plowed streets to see him this evening. I love snow--it makes everyday life an exciting adventure...

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Win Something!

I am so sorry, blog readers--it's been a whole week since I've posted. I feel like I'm letting you down!

Here's a sunshiney photo of my loom in action while I explain. I've still been feeling under the weather. I haven't been going out much and I'm a little lonely. I feel a bit teetery, like I'm sitting on a counter stool and my feet are dangling off the edge with no (steadying) floor in sight! I'm also trying hard to keep up with my work--including getting ready for the Handmade Holiday sale, put on by Manitoba Craft Council, which is taking place November 26th and 27th.

Comments on the blog have been few and far between for a while, so I was a slacker and didn't post as much as usual. (I find your comments and those interactions very encouraging. Otherwise, I don't much feel like posting sometimes!) I'm sorry for my silence over here, and I'd like to make that up to you. I figured I'd combine a few topics at once. Here it is:

I notice that a lot of people read my blog each day...but I don't actually know who most of you are. Are you friends and family? Fellow knitters/spinners/weavers? People who like dogs? People who like old house stories? People I met once? I wish I knew more. If only 3 people comment on a post left up for a week but 30 people visit each day...there are a lot of you out there who I don't hear from very often!

At the same time, the lovely folks at CSN Stores contacted me out of the blue and asked me if I'd like to give away a $45 gift certificate to any of their over 200 online stores on my blog. (They sell dog beds, kitchen tools, shoes, bar stools...and more!) Well, gosh--this seems like a really good time for someone to win a $45 gift certificate!

So, if you read my blog, and you'd like to say who you are, and why you visit the blog--I'd love to know. I will read everybody's comments and (assuming you actually say who you are and answer why you visit my blog) will enter you into a completely random drawing. Please leave your comment by next Monday afternoon - 3pm North American Central Time-, November 22nd. (I will hop on to the blog and officially close the drawing at that time.)

A few little notes:
1: Please be sure I will be able to contact you via your email address, blog, smoke signals, etc. Even if I know you in real life, I might not know your secret blog log in nickname, so be sure I can figure out how to find you!

2: CSN only ships to U.S. and Canadian addresses, and if you live in Canada, you may have to pay international shipping charges. (Sorry!) If you live farther afield, please feel free to leave a comment-I'd love to hear from you-but I won't be able to give you the gift certificate, as the shipping won't work out.

So, tell me, dahlink...why do you visit the blog? What interests you? I look forward to hearing from you! I hope you win the $45 gift certificate, too!!

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Monday, November 08, 2010

1 pair of socks+other random stuff

The other night I finished my Mary Jane Socks (pattern found in Fiber Gathering) and I tried them on before I'd woven in all the ends. Before I knew it, the professor snapped a couple of photos. While the socks themselves aren't exactly the right color here-they are much darker purple in real life- the professor thought the tableau was perfect.

Note the copy of the book, the socks, and Harry the dog snoozing across the room. Beyond, you can see my Canadian Production Wheel. If you happen to have a copy of Fiber Gathering, you may have seen this pattern, these feet, and that spinning wheel before. Quick! Go look at it--does it look familiar? (hint: It should.) Only difference is the shade of yarn used in the socks themselves!

In other news, the professor installed a new wireless router over the weekend to our replace our 7 year old router. Who knew wireless could be this fast? Well, now I do. Whew, it sure does make downloading big files easier!

The other random thing (I'm listing them in threes here) is that yesterday, I was talking on the phone to my very nice knitting buddy, Christine. She's the kind of person who I really value as a friend...as my mom would say, she's got her head screwed on straight. (translation? Her priorities seem really ethical to me and make good common sense.) So, there we are, talking, and I look out the front window. Uh oh.

Ten skateboarders between the ages of, say, 14-20, drive up in two cars. They suddenly start using the construction site across the street as a skate park. They move some wood to make a ramp. They are doing tricks off the second story of an unfinished structure. You know, the kind with big holes and concrete everywhere? The kind of building where the construction workers are working hard every single work day. They didn't deserve that.

I got to make a wee little phone call to the cops then. Christine let me call her back, cause, you know, she is a nice person. Plus, I think seeing someone crack his head open would really turn my stomach. All that blood? Yuck. On a practical note, if they hurt themselves while being stupid, well, we're all responsible for the medical bill here in Canada, aren't we?

Luckily, the police don't seem to be busy on Sunday afternoon, and maybe someone else called too, because they chase the skateboarders away not once, but twice. As Christine would say, Good on ya, police guys!

So, three random good things--I hope this doesn't mean I'm due for anything randomly bad to happen. Anything good happening with you? Do tell!

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

slow progress

Well, that title's a lie there. For those who know me, I'm usually sort of fast on the uptake. Lately, all progress around here has been glacial. I'm getting better, but the weather does persist on being warm (dang it!) so my lungs hurt (asthma) and I am just feeling under the weather. I've been prescribed some nice medicine that makes me feel loopy.

That said, sewing on a sewing machine always feel like such a speed demon (compared to spinning, knitting, weaving, or sewing by hand) that I decided to get mine out. I mean, I felt too loopy to drive, so why not operate a sewing machine? (logic was lost for a little while there, but don't worry, I haven't hurt myself or others.) I put the spinning wheels on the window seat out of the way and set to sewing...about 6 seams, maybe.
For a long time, I haven't wanted to look out my kitchen windows. (I took this scenic view from the third floor, but I pushed aside a curtain first!) That would be because I have an awful view of the back door and parking lot of this place. The back door is where all the super skinny ladies sneak out after their face is all red and scary looking from the "beauty treatments." I could say a lot about why I don't think we need to have this place in the neighborhood, but I'll skip it for now...and talk about curtains.
I've had several ideas about the kitchen curtains, which even included weaving fabric for curtains. That plan went very well until I went to finish the handwoven fabric. It unexpectedly felted together and shrunk. Uh OH. That fabric will now become textured pillows as soon as I cut it up and sew them with my sewing machine. (scissors+loopy meds+ handwoven fabric? Uh oh. I'm waiting on that, too.)
A few months ago, I happened upon the perfect colored gingham fabric at Artsjunktion. Have I mentioned how I love that place? It wasn't a large piece of fabric, but fine for making cafe curtains for two windows...not enough for enormous gathers, but good enough and it was free. What held me up? Getting out the sewing machine and finding the right size tension rods. I went to several stores this summer looking for tension rods. (curtain rods/pressure rods--I thought of every name I could think of) I could not find the smaller sizes of tension rods. I couldn't use the magnetic rods, because my old window casements are made of --wood. It was frustrating. So, since I was at home and not driving anyhow, I made the curtains and thought: If I sew it, they (the curtain rods) will come. (Like building a baseball diamond, only different, right?!)
My kind professor sat next to me on the sofa and surfed the web with me until he found the right sized tension rods. (At Home Depot, of course. Why didn't I look there?) So, after my curtains were all made and washed, he went by the hardware store on his way to work and brought home the final ingredient to making kitchen curtains.
You'll note that you can still see the sky and trees above the curtains. Good. You can also see the ground and grass below the curtains. (Good for monitoring dogs at play.) Also, when you look at the photos, it sort of looks like I've always had these totally bland looking matching curtains there. (Perfect.) So, I feel satisfied with this project. I won't even tell you how stupid and loopy I felt while discovering I had the casing on one side and the hemming on the other at first..but I fixed that. They look ok now, and that's all that matters.

My sock KAL over on Ravelry is winding down, I think. My Mary Jane socks from Fiber Gathering are nearly done. I've decided to extend the ribbing as far as I can to use up every last bit of this lovely hand-dyed yarn. I'm sure I'll being doing the picot edging with the tail end of things, but my ankles will be warmer, come winter.
That is the knitting/sewing/fiber art-y news around here. Please--feel free to admire my (incredibly basic) kitchen curtains. :)
Every time I go downstairs for a cup of tea, I am still smiling in a somewhat loopy way at them. Maybe it's the antihistamine that's making me do that?!

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