Slow Motion Disaster

I just wanted to put up a short post tonight with a ceiling update. I’ve been running like crazy this week, trying to get Concerto published in time for the pattern to travel to a tradeshow in February with some friends. Monday I’ll be in the city, so I can get it printed then, but first I have to have it ready. I’ve also been working diligently trying to get ready for the Ravelympics. I’m entering one of the designer events there, and it’s a good thing I’m allowed to swatch in advance. The pattern I’m doing has given me plenty of grief! At the same time I’m juggling those two projects, I’ve also been continuing work on my next lace shawl design, which thankfully is in the knitting phase and proving very addictive when I actually have enough time to sit and work on her.  I can’t wait to share pix, but just as a tease, she’s got bling! And that’s all I’m saying for now – partially because I have to get back to work, and if I start talking about what all has really been happening this week in my life, I’ll never stop. 😉

So, the ceiling is still up, and those of you who put in guesses in February are looking very wise indeed! The drip has slowed to only an occasional drop here and there, and I thought perhaps the danger was past, but yesterday, there was a sudden change in the topography…

I mentioned earlier that DH said he’d caulked, but obviously this problem got bigger than his caulk gun. He’s pulled apart the faucet, but he says it was dry back there. He’s now talking about getting a plumber in – a HUGE concession on his part, but a lot of stress for me, as a handyman would be a most inconvenient addition to my life this next week or two – especially considering it will equate to needing a lot of things moved and an lot of mess happening. I just really need a big “pause” button on the ceiling/plumber thing for a week or two!

So anyway, you can see from the picture that there are suddenly a lot of new cracks. They all showed up Friday, after several days of no noticeable leaks or changes in appearance, so they feel rather ominous. That was a big, abrupt change, and it says that things are still going on behind the scene. I’d swipe that stupid cobweb, so it wasn’t in my pictures, but quite frankly, I don’t want to touch the ceiling right now!

Okay, I said this would be short. I have a pattern to finish, and there’s still plenty of work to do!

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Christmas 2009 – Part 3

Before I start, the kitchen ceiling is still hanging in there – literally! Newest update is that DH claims to have caulked several days ago, but since the worst of the damage and the leak appeared after he says he did it, I’d say that there was definitely something lacking in his technique. 😉 The dripping stopped briefly this morning, but a couple hours after his shower it started up again, so obviously, it’s not cured…

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How do I know I’m too busy? I’m just now starting to put away my Christmas gifts – a month after Christmas Eve! It’s hard to believe that as I’m writing this, a month ago at this moment, we were just starting on the final leg of our “adventure” trying to get to our daughter’s house for Christmas… The reason I’m squeezing this task of putting gifts away in right now, is that I need the box in which I toted my gifts home. It’s the perfect size to gather the parcels coming in for the 2010 Bleuette Stash Swap. (There’s still time to join!) Otherwise I fear it would have continued the way it has up until now with me grabbing something from the box when I want/need it for something, and I might have still been putting things away at my birthday in June!

I thought I’d take a few quick pictures and share what everybody got for me, because I think I received some neat stuff, even if it is somewhat lacking in fiber… 😉

For paper crafting, hubby bought me a Bind It All (neglecting to get me any accessories whatsoever, so I’ve not been able to try it yet) and a new design card for my Slice machine. He didn’t understand that there were different cards and just bought one off ebay. Thankfully he got one I didn’t have already – and now I don’t need to re-prioritize when I make my birthday list. 😉 If you don’t know, the Slice is a compact design cutter with hundreds of shapes and fonts in a multitude of sizes. The design cards are very well priced and contain clever and useful designs and a themed font. I’m not sure where those folks at Making Memories get their ideas, but they think like I do – and it’s an affordable system if you shop smart. 🙂 The Bind It All is a Zutter creation – again a compact machine. It slots pages and covers, then installs wire bindings, turning anything you wish into a book. In addition to the paper crafting applications, I’m thinking it will be nice to be able to bind such things as my Queen Susan Shawl print outs and other ebook downloads, so I can easily put them on my bookshelf with my other knitting books.

I received a nice assortment of doll related items this year, including a lovely Bleuette dress, china paints, and the complete Re-ment Bread and Butter set, which thrilled the Hitty gang. I wish I knew who had made the dress, but he bought it on ebay, and it didn’t come with a tag or sewn in label. It’s very nicely made, and I’m sorry I don’t know who to praise for the workmanship. We haven’t decided who gets to wear it yet (After all, it IS short sleeved and not seasonable right now.), but there is going to be a clamor among the early girls when they see it!

My younger daughter condescended to walk through the door of an antique shop and found an adorable baby tintype for me, which contrasted amusingly with the “purrfect” pet cat mannequin she picked up for me elsewhere. I love both of these surprise gifts, which just goes to show what an eclectic nut I am!

And last, but very certainly not least, is this wonderful mobile! When I was in Honduras the last time, I fell in love with it, but I’d spent my money by the time I saw it, so I had to leave it behind. My older daughter told DH how fond I was of it, so he had her bring it home when she was up on furlough. What a surprise it was to find it among my gifts! Other than just being an attractive sculpture, when the ball at the bottom is tugged and released, the bird begins a slow, graceful flapping that is utterly enchanting – very peaceful and rather addictive! I’m trying to figure out where he will be best hung now. The wingspan is rather wide, and he really argues with my somewhat Victorian decor. That’s not going to stop me from having him somewhere that I see him often, though. I just need to work on finding the perfect long term location – and that is NOT hanging from the ceiling fan chain! :))

Drip, Drip, Drop…

Little kitchen showers…

Yep! The ceiling is still up, but it’s now officially raining in the kitchen!

There’s about one drop every 45 seconds, but I’m a bit puzzled about one thing. Obviously, I’m choosing to bathe in the downstairs bathroom, but he took a shower last night before going to bed and when nothing happened, I thought perhaps he’d snuck in some caulking time between shopping and working on his buddy’s model railroad Friday. He left early this morning to spend the day skiing, so no one has been in that bathroom all day. However, sometime this afternoon the dripping began. Sure makes me wonder how much water is built up behind that sagging plasterboard! I’m thinking I need to move more things farther away. This could be a whole lot messier than I was anticipating.

The water is picking up minerals on the way through the ceiling. I cleaned this before I went to bed last night, and when I took the puddle picture, I did a double take, wondering how I’d done such a lousy job of it. Then I realized that the dirt was all in little splash designs. Whew! I’ve not gone entirely crazy – yet… 😉 I guess I need to follow up on the suggestions to find a tarp… or maybe a big trash bag?

And if you haven’t entered the contest, there’s still time! So long as the ceiling is up, you may enter. Scroll down to the Next Catastrophe post and leave a comment there with your prediction regarding day and time of the impending collapse. There’s a prize to be had!

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sudden Death

Before I start this post, the ceiling hasn’t collapsed yet… tick… tick… tick… Keep those guesses coming! Be sure you have put your prediction in your comment on the Next Catastrophe post. I’ve noticed several of you didn’t include one. I’m really appreciating all the comments you have posted. Your advice, comfort, support, and humor are definitely making this much more amusing than it would otherwise be. Thanks! 🙂

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So, I’ve alluded several time in the last month or two to having been offline for a while rather unexpectedly, and I promised an explanation. Long story short, I was working on the computer early one morning, back in November, and DH begged a turn. When I tried to get on again when he was finished, nothing worked. A few phone calls verified my worst fear; he’d found a virus somewhere, and Norton had not stopped it. 😦

Now the long version!

With five online stores and several open transactions at the time, plus having intended to spend my day publishing my next knitting pattern, I only panicked a little bit – probably somewhere around a 6.2 on the Richter scale, just as a rough estimate… I put in an emergency call to our computer guy, who still hasn’t returned my call as of January, and who is now our former computer guy, and then tried to find something important to do that didn’t involve the computer (not an easy task) while I waited.

The next day, proud of myself for not having gone insane in the first 24 hours, I started looking for someone who DID want a job. I’d tried a shop in Wilmington a couple years ago, and they weren’t going to touch my machine again, but then I thought of Staples. Surely they would be a trustworthy medical team for this project, and after talking to the young man who took my call, I confidently packed both the current tower and the machine that died a few years ago for a trip to the doctor.

Checking my two patients in, I asked numerous questions and received all the right answers. Yes, they could pull the “lost” data off the old computer, and they would even put it into the newer tower if I would like.  No, I didn’t need to be concerned about my data, as it would be saved and reloaded once everything was clean. And yes, no problem loading Word into it while it was there, especially since I brought the disc with me. And, this would take two days unless they had to order discs to reload Windows, but they’d likely be able to do it from the “mirror.” The only “bad” news I got was that not only did they have my two computers in their possession, they also demanded over $200 paid up front before they’d even touch them. For some reason, that bothered me greatly!

Two more days offline was going to be rough, especially since it actually would be 3 days, as it was over the weekend. At home, I pulled out my geriatric laptop, which was old technology and well used when I bought it back in 2003. Poor thing can’t even open Hotmail any longer; it can’t cope with whatever it is MSN tries to load when a page is opened. Every 15 minutes or so of online work (1-5 minute page loads) requires a 45 minute reboot. Needless to say, this was not a highly productive time for me, but at least I managed to get a couple of critical notes out.

The next day was Saturday, and I got several calls from the nice young man who was caring for my computers. He got the info out of the old computer with no problem; he was working on the newer one – couldn’t find the virus with his software, but was trying something else; he didn’t get done today, and wouldn’t be in at the beginning of the week, but someone else would finish the job and call me Monday.

Uh-oh.

Monday I heard nothing. So much for 2 days…  Tuesday afternoon I get a call with an “update” in which the new guy tells me that the info from the old machine had been retrieved. “Nice,” I tell him, “but guy #1 told me he did that on Saturday.” “Oh,” he replies. Then he adds that he’s completely wiped my hard drive clean and is going to order discs to restore it. (Note: this is the fourth day it’s been in Wilmington, and he’s talking about ordering discs as being a future activity…) So I asked if he was able to save all, or at least most, of the info from that computer. “Huh? No, the paper work didn’t say you wanted your information saved. I just cleared it.” I’m afraid my next question was a bit louder than it really needed to be… “WHAT???? You just DELETED my entire BUSINESS???????” :O A brief silence on the other end of the line was followed by, “Ma’am, could I call you back?”

The thing is, he did NOT call me back! After fuming for a couple of days, I called Staples back, and thankfully, the nice young man answered the phone. I was SO relieved – until he told me that he wasn’t allowed to work on computers for a while because he’d done something to upset them. Until that moment, I didn’t realize the knot in my stomach could get any tighter than it already was. 😦 Guy #2 was very reassuring when I did talk to him, though I wasn’t sure I trusted anything he was saying. He told me first that my old hard drive had apparently been damaged by the virus and needed replaced. He also said that he’d spent a lot of time scouring my hard drive and had retrieved “a whole lot of music files and a big mess of pictures.” He also asked me to make the hour round trip drive to the store, wanting me to look at what he found and make sure he had it all. Now I don’t know about you, but I sure couldn’t know off the top of my head if a few files here or there were missing from my computer, unless they  happened to be the ones I needed at any given moment, so I was a bit dubious about this exercise, not to mention unhappy to have to invest the gas and the time to do it. However, Saturday found me standing nervously behind the tech desk looking at what were supposed to be my computer files. First he pulled up a few songs I didn’t recognize, and none of the dozens I was expecting to find. I was still puzzling over that when he pulled up the “mess of pictures.” The light dawned on me as I looked at these strange, professional appearing images. He’d not recovered a single one of my photos or music files; he’d painstakingly retrieved the sample songs and images that come packaged on a new computer! I began fighting a meltdown and asked to see my documents. The best description I can use for what I saw would be “Swiss cheese.” Many folders were missing, and the ones I checked that were there were all missing many of the files. Now before you think I’m totally daft, I do use an online backup service, but still… they promised my computer was going to come back to me fully functioning with all my data, perhaps even salvaging my programs. Instead, I was looking at rags and tatters of what had been. Never before had I had computer work done where the tech didn’t save and reinstall information, and I was paying them more than I’ve ever paid! My departure from the store was definitely abrupt – enough so that the next call I received was from the store manager. I don’t think Guy #2 had the nerve to call me back. Perhaps he doesn’t like tears and barely restrained anger…

So, when the manager called me a few days later, she informed me that what they guy had done was standard practice at Staples. However, she said that two of the fellows had spent the better part of a work day trying to find everything they could retrieve, and there was nothing else to be found at this point, whether it used to be there or not. Also, if I had wanted my information saved, I’d have needed to hand over yet another $100 at check in time. I was still sputtering over that when she poured a bit of tiny bit oil on the water by telling me that they weren’t going to charge me to install my new hard drive. How thoughtful of them! (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes…)

More days passed, and I finally got a call from the nice young man, saying my machines were ready for pick up. Three weeks to the day, I retrieved them, and was pleased to not be charged for the hard drive itself, either. With a bit of trepidation, I came home and looked to see what I had left. You know, sometimes words fail me… What I had was a computer that was more naked than any I’ve ever bought new. I sat here and bawled, which wasn’t very useful, but certainly did feel appropriate! I had a blank slate, and no, they did not put my files back, nor did they load Word.

I’ve had a major learning experience that was very much unwanted over the past two months, but I’ve finally rebuilt (hopefully) most all of my files, and I have only a couple more programs to replace. I’ve spent far too many hours working “on” the computer and because of that, far fewer working “at” it, not to mention other things I needed to be doing. I’ve had to walk away from the project in total frustration more than once, but I’ve survived the experience, and I’m feeling a bit proud of that. I do now have a computer that is running, and I can do nearly everything I was doing at the beginning of November again – finally!

I did lose many of my knitting class files (Apparently they tasted good to the virus.), so I had to redo a lot of work I thought was done “once for good,” and do it in time for January 4 classes. That was probably the biggest headache, as it was the most immediate and time sensitive project, holidays were happening – and I’d only just finished it the first time a few days before the attack. Even with my curtailed holiday plans, I only completed the minimum of this the day before it was needed, and not as well as before, because I discovered another program I needed and couldn’t replace in time. I have it now, though, and I feel like an overcomer when I look at what I’ve rebuilt! Next step – get those patterns that were supposed to be done last year published!

I’ve often wondered during this odyssey just what it is that makes the people who write viruses do what they do. So many crimes are designed to benefit the perpetrator, but the virus bunch never even sees the damage they do and the heartache they cause people. I’ve looked at what it’s cost me personally – about $500 and untold hours of my time just trying to retrieve what was mine in the first place, not to mention the extreme emotional strain and the additional out of pocket expense to try to protect everything from potential future loss. I guess just imagining this pain multiplied over how many people is some sort of a thrill to the criminal mind…

What I’ve learned…

  1. Having Norton isn’t a guarantee, and if Norton says it’s having problems fixing something, you have a big problem on your hands. Check out some alternative anti-virus programs. I got lazy and didn’t do that when this computer came – used Norton “because it was there.” Many viruses are written specifically to get around Norton, because it’s so widely used.
  2. Get every single promise in writing when you take your computer for work, no matter where you go. If you expect to have your information retrieved, then be very sure they will do it, and ascertain that they know the difference between family photos and the pre-loads.
  3. Ask probing questions before you hand over your computer to anyone! Every computer person and every recent repair client I’ve spoken to in the past 3 months, other than Staples, is appalled my hard drive was cleared without the information being backed up, and some of the tech people I’ve queried were approached in such a way that they did not know of my experience. This means you really have to ask “dumb” questions at times if you are going to know the whole truth.
  4. If you don’t have a reputable computer repair person right now, find one, even if you don’t need them for another 3 years. Get recommendations from as many people as you can, and choose someone who has on overwhelmingly good reputation. After what I just went through, I’d strongly suggest you look for a small, local shop, as they have much more to lose from bad customer service than does a big chain store like Staples. Call during off hours to see if they return calls promptly, and if they do, keep that phone number in a safe spot. It’s worth its weight in gigabytes!
  5. Use some form of back ups – perhaps several! My online back up system saved my skin. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s the difference between me still having anything that resembles a business and being totally wiped out. I wish I’d also had additional back ups on discs in my desk drawer, and I’m remedying that problem in my not so spare time. The joy of the online system I use is that it constantly backs up things as I work, and I don’t have to remember to make it happen. It also allows remote access, and if I ever lost my computer and discs through some disaster, I’d still have the files stored in a safe place. It’s worth every penny it costs!
  6. There is a free program/service, formerly called Foxmarks, but now known as Xmarks. It will not only sync your bookmarks between computers, but also is backing up your bookmarks on a constant basis. I’d installed it years ago and forgot about it, as my geriatric laptop was too old to run the program. One day a few weeks ago, when I was nearly in tears trying to find information I’d searched out and marked in the past, I suddenly had this little memory from the past tickle my brain. I found Xmarks again, and lo and behold, there were all my bookmarks safe and sound, ready to sync back to my restored computer! That made for one of the best evenings I’ve had since November! 🙂
  7. If you don’t write your passwords for every single site and program you access somewhere secure, unless your memory is far better than mine, you are going to spend an awful lot of time retrieving them when you face something similar someday.

The Next Catastrophe and Blog Candy

It’s not often that I have the privilege of knowing what the next catastrophe is going to be around here, but this time I think I have a very good chance of guessing correctly.

We moved in here October 1, 1983. January 1, 1984, a huge section of our kitchen ceiling collapsed. At the time, my infant daughter and I were having breakfast, and had we followed the suggestion of family members who helped us move, we would have been sitting directly under it when it happened. Not only did a large section of the ceiling cave, but with it came a substantial amount of broken brick, which had been tossed into the crawl space when a recess was chipped into the 12″ thick brick walls of our house to install a shower in the bathroom carved out of the corner of one of the bedrooms upstairs. It was an event that could easily have proven deadly.

Once the dust had cleared, we discovered that someone before us had placed a plastic tub in the crawlspace under the shower drain. Apparently, it was prone to leaking. It took us just 3 months of regular showering to fill that tub to overflowing and soak the plasterboard of the ceiling enough that the weight of the bricks brought it down. It was many years before DH repaired the hole, and even longer before the ceiling was finished and repainted.

Somewhere in that time, the shower was replaced, but I suspect our contractor wasn’t substantially more talented than the original installer. Even before the ceiling was done, it was apparent that there continued to be a problem, and that it would be necessary to re-caulk the shower drain on an annual basis, at the very least. It’s also no secret that DH’s favorite activities have little or nothing to do with preventative maintenance, and our beautiful new kitchen ceiling was discolored and slightly bulged within a few years. A change in its appearance and a gentle reminder has been sufficient to see the caulking done – until now.

This has been worsening quickly for several weeks, and after his shower this morning, the split (where the blackish line is) showed up.

Personally, I give this one more shower until it comes down, so I took some time today to move the things below it that could be destroyed by wet plaster. I thought we could have a little bit of fun until what looks inevitable happens, so I created a poll. Cast your vote and leave a comment with your guess as to when the ceiling is going to collapse. Include a date and the time, based on Eastern Standard Time. You can vote without leaving a comment, but you will not be entered for the prize drawing, as I won’t know who is attached to the vote. I’ll send the person who comes closest to the time of the actual event a $10 Amazon gift card. If he caulks before it crashes, I am going to wait one month before announcing a winner, since it will take a while for the plasterboard to dry out and prove it is going to stay up for another round. If I’m away from the house and can’t determine the exact time, and more than one person could be right, I’ll do a random draw to determine the winner.

And stay tuned!

Christmas 2009 Part 1

Remember? I said I’d get to this eventually! Honestly, I’d have probably let it slide except it was pretty special to me. I HAD to share!

When my daughter came home on furlough in November, back when I was offline for so long, she brought me both my birthday gift and Christmas gift for last year, and I think she really outdid herself. I wanted to show off her work!

My daughter doesn’t have a Bleuette, but she’s an excellent seamstress, so she arranged with AnneLise Wilhelmsen of Londonberries to get one of her patterns. Working from that pattern, which she customized, and using fabric she purchased in Honduras, she made this lovely dress for Josianne Carol (Mary Raleigh Daisyette). Josianne is thrilled, as the only thing she had to wear until now simply did not suit her. Now she’s wanting me to make her shoes and socks. Reminds me of the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie for some reason…

Then, with nothing to go by except the pattern, DD guestimated the measurements and produced an outfit for Elayna Noelle (Raikes Bobette “Brandy”), modeled after the Guatemalan huipils. This suits Elayna so well that it looks as if she’d going shopping with her in mind, but she actually made it having no idea that Elayna had been craving a Central American outfit of some sort. I can’t imagine what I could make her in the future that would convince her to change out of this ensemble!

Just the other day, I overheard the girls whispering, wondering when their “big sister” might be coming home for another visit. Any wonder? 🙂

Help For Haiti

If you’ve been looking for patterns on Ravelry any time in the past few days, you’ve probably seen the Help For Haiti announcement. Many designers have pledged a portion of the sales of some or all of their patterns for a certain period of time to go to the relief organization of their choice. As I’m writing this, there are nearly 1,500 patterns in the Ravelry system that are tagged “Help for Haiti,” and it seems every time I get on the site, there are dozens of new offerings.  A quick glance shows offerings from Susan Pandorf, Susan Wolcott, Birgit Freyer, Robyn Gallimore,  Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, Wooly Wormhead, Renee Leverington, Tina Whitmore, Ysolda Teague, Chrissy Gardiner, and hundreds more. Patterns span every category from bikinis to baby blankets, bags, hats, mittens, socks, sweaters, lace shawls, toys, and at least one upcoming mystery KAL, and include knitted, crocheted, and felted projects. My shopping list from just this selection has me a bit dizzy, as I’ve found a tremendous number of wonderful patterns I’d never before seen – just in time for the Ravelympics, too!

I only have one “for sale” pattern available at this point, but I’ve joined the Help For Haiti drive. (Okay, yes, looking at my cart, I joined it well before I added my pattern to the program!) From now through the end of March 2010, $3 from each sale of my Symphony Scarf Pattern – Ravelry or Etsy – will be going to CAM – Christian Aid Ministries. CAM is a Mennonite organization with an ongoing presence in Haiti. They have a team in place already providing medical care, and several more teams are “scrambling.” Long term, they will be helping not only with medical and clean up needs, but also rebuilding. Being Conservative Mennonite, CAM doesn’t have an online presence, but you can CLICK HERE to learn more about them from another Mennonite source who works very closely with them.

And grab a cup of your favorite beverage and go over to Ravelry and click the pattern tab. At the top of the page, you will see the option to look at the Help for Haiti patterns. If you’ve not found your Ravelympics inspiration yet, you should have no problem after an hour or so browsing the amazing selection of patterns which have been donated!

Two in a Day

I did a really lousy job of blogging my knitting last year, but hope to rectify that this year, perhaps even doing a bit of catch up, if I find myself with time on my hands and out of other stuff to write… Hah! :))

I’ve had a frustrating week in many ways, so I really surprised myself when my knitting time last night produced not one, but TWO finished projects! Admittedly, they aren’t Sharon Miller shawls, but they are still finished objects, useful, pretty… and one of them is a UFO from way back. 🙂

I was getting really tired of having cold feet in bed, my frustration hitting a high point coping with the recent cold snap and living in a very drafty house. I finally succumbed to the wisdom of the ages and dug out the hot water bottle from the back corner of the bathroom closet. It worked great, but one night snuggled with that nasty rubber bladder was more than enough to convince me that it needed wool wrapped around it. Glack! I remembered a lonely ball of worsted weight, handdyed yarn I’d bought from Robin Dodge at One Sheep Hill for a project that ended up being diverted to another ball of yarn… Perfect! A few minutes searching the Ravelry database provided me with a simple but interesting, free pattern for a very attractive hotwater bottle cozy in worsted weight. Check out the Trebuchet Hotwater Bottle Cozy on the blog, Trampled by Geese – perfect! 🙂 I grabbed my beloved DPNs, which never seem to get enough these days, and cast on immediately. Even with everything else I’ve been having to deal with, just five days later, I have a finished, snuggly sweater from my bottle. I love it!

The knitting was quick and easy, and my Brittany DPN’s were the absolutely perfect needles to use on this particular yarn. They glided smoothly and didn’t split stitches. I’m far too familiar with comfort food, but I think this is a first time experience for me with a comfort knit. I’m not saying that I don’t use my knitting for stress relief and all, because I do, but this particular project was a totally magical experience, and I’m fighting the urge to just cast on with the remaining yarn and knit in circles until it’s gone, just for the sensual pleasure it provides.

BTW, the irony of this project is that the colorway for the yarn is “Glacier.” Nothing like making a hotwater bottle cozy from Glacier yarn…

So, I finished that project up and still had about two thirds of the last disk on my audiobook to go. Not one to waste valuable knitting time, but not wanting to pick up a complicated project for just a half hour or so of knitting, I cast about for something less involved to do. Ah HAH! In some cleaning this week, I finally found the missing card of buttons for what was supposed to have been my first BSJ. I still had ends to bury and a shoulder seam to sew, in addition to the buttons, but if I didn’t lallygag over the  normally despised finishing work, I just might be able to get it done before the end of the CD…

YIPPEE!!!!! And the funny thing is that it wasn’t until I was done that I realized I’d accidentally accomplished part of one of my annual goals – the one about finishing 3 pre-July 2009 UFO’s! That sure was painless. 🙂

The buttons were pricier than I’d have normally bought, but DH was with me picking them out, and even he said they were “the ones.” In fact, he made me stop looking the moment we tried them, saying there wasn’t going to be another button in the world that suited it better. Can’t argue when he says something like that; it was a very rare sort of statement coming from him!

I’m not sure I’m thrilled with the yarn I used, Queensland Collection Bebe Cotsoy, as it fuzzes quite a bit even in the knitting, but it’s definitely soft and lovely to the touch. I’ll be interested to see how it wears, though I shan’t know for quite a while. This is for my grandma hope chest, and seeing as how there aren’t even any grandbabies in the oven yet… 😉

A Good Start

It’s pretty early to feel optimistic on such a big project as annual goals, but I’m feeling very positive at the moment, so thought I’d share the progress from the first ten days of the year. What I’m loving is that I’ve made such great progress, while at the same time feeling as if I’ve gotten some good and desperately needed “mental health” time off. Not sure how that works, but I’m feeling more positive and relaxed than I’ve felt in many months, and I’m loving it!

I’ve enjoyed my music time this past week, focusing on learning the fingering on the flute for the basic 8 note C scale. It’s not difficult to limit the time I spend at it, though, as my arms, fingers, and breathing aren’t used to the new techniques I’m learning. Various instructional and music books are on the way.

I’ve spent a lot of focused time getting back in touch with a shawl that I’ve designed, which is intended to be one of the patterns I publish this year. It’s a large project and a bit picky in the knitting, so it’s going to take some time. However, it’s also really pretty, and I think it’s going to be very special. I’m excited to finally see it growing, and I’m pleased with myself for making more time for my budding business since the first of the year, too. In the coming weeks, I need to sort my time into work knitting and work pattern making, but at least I’ve gotten back into doing something that qualifies as work. 🙂 I also can hardly wait to be able to reveal this project – worse than keeping Christmas secrets!

A huge project over the past ten days has been putting a substantial amount of energy into my email problem. I started with the inbox of my most active email account, which was sporting over 11,000 emails, nearly 8000 of them unread. This was a jumble of informative treasures, useless “me too” posts from groups, and emails from friends – and a few foes – all built up over the past 5 years. Often when I come home from an extended travel, I find it very difficult to get all my email read, which isn’t surprising, since I frequently struggle to get through even a day’s worth in a day. I’m stubborn, though, so I don’t want to do a whole scale delete of things that may be of value to me. On the other hand, having 11,000 emails in my inbox was depressing! Now I have two functioning computers, however, and I figured out a great way to attack the problem. I set them up side by side with one in old emails and one in new ones, and while one page loads, I read the other, allowing me to fly through my mail at record pace.  As of yesterday, I no longer have any unread messages in my inbox – and my total is only 4000 messages! It’s still a lot of stuff to finish filing (still debating on whether I should drive some friends crazy by  answering emails from 2005), but I’m so thrilled to have sorted and dumped that other 7000-8000, plus the hundreds of emails that have come in new since the start of the year, that I’m positively floating! What a weight off my back already! 🙂 One big sorrow remains, though. It makes my heart ache to see how many emails I’ve received from friends that were never answered. I’ve found many lively conversations that were abruptly ended because of my busyness, and far too many notes from people who gave up on me ever writing again, and it reminds me how much I lost when my life spun out of control.

So anyway, back to the goals business – and yet another exciting bit of progress. It was due date for my credit card, and with Christmas money plus the income from starting knitting classes again last Monday, I was able to make a substantial payment. I’m SO hoping that I’ve seen the last of having $100 of interest added to my account each month! That interest bit bothers me more than the total due, as it’s money entirely wasted – no value received by me.

And I’ve finished reading two books, more than accomplished my blogging goal, almost learned my memory verse (and found out how rusty I am on such tasks!), and re-purchased the last program I need to get back on track with the pattern writing. If I can keep progressing at anything near this pace, I will certainly have a satisfying year in 2010. If I don’t, I still have a glowing 10 days upon which to reflect. 😉

Published in: on January 11, 2010 at 1:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Christmas Knitting – Post Event Wrap Up

I knit gifts for two people this year for Christmas – my husband and my son-in-law. Both were done on time, though I pulled an all-nighter and drove to our family Christmas gathering on two hours of sleep in order to complete the last one. I didn’t post these earlier because my husband had to choose buttons for his, so it was “done,” but not quite done until this afternoon.

My first project was one of Liz Lovick’s Fisherman Scarves for my SIL. It was an adventure for me in many ways, as it has an interesting construction, it’s patterned from both front and back (which caused me no end of frustration until I got my brain arranged to think correctly), and I used Colourmart yarn for the first time.

To knit this scarf, one needs to cast on and knit the patterned end, then cast on and knit the other patterned end, then on through the ribbing that goes around the neck. When that is long enough, the first end is grafted to the end of the ribbing, which turned out to be an adventure in and of itself. I’ve never grafted this long of a seam, and believe me, I was more than frustrated when I thought I had it perfect and finished, only to discover I’d managed to miss one stitch in the middle. It is NOT fun to un-graft! The challenge of the Colourmart yarns is that they are spun for industrial knitting, so they are still oiled. The 100% cashmere I used looked like pretty brown string during the knitting. However, a hot water wash and a tumble in the dryer removes the oils and allows the fiber to bloom, while it also helps even the knitting. It’s like seeing pure magic to take an “okay” project and abuse it like this, and end up with a finished project that is utterly decadent. 🙂 I was amazed to see my stitches look so even that they could have been passed off as machine knitting, too. Awesome cool yarn!

(Color more accurate in top photo, but I also wanted to show the texture, so messed with the picture.)

If you are intrigued by this fiber, remember that swatching is absolutely mandatory. It must be knit, washed, and dried in order to judge the actual gauge, but is it ever worth it! I don’t know anywhere else that it’s possible to purchase 150 grams of pure cashmere for just $35. They have a lot of other yarns, too… blends, merinos, silk, yak, cotton, angora, mohair…

And if you want fuller project details for this scarf, you can check it out on my Ravelry project page for Wendall’s Christmas Scarf.

The other gift I made turned out to be an adventure of a totally different type. The moment I saw the Hugo Hat pattern from KnitPicks, I knew I wanted to knit it for DH. Over the 3 weeks preceding Christmas, I was to second guess that decision many times. It is undoubtedly the most miserable pattern I’ve ever knitted, and I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier to be finished with a project than I was that one. Thankfully, it had the redeeming value of being knit with a really awesome yarn (City Tweed) and producing a super neat hat.

Perhaps this will be a little bit like childbirth – though this is something I can’t ever imagine voluntarily knitting again. The pattern was rife with errata, far more than was posted on the KnitPicks website, and the Ravelry page doesn’t even mention that there IS errata. In addition to wrong stitches on the charts, there are several bad measurements and no seam allowance suggestions for construction. If you don’t enjoy assembling small pieces, this is definitely not a great project to attempt, as there are 6 knitted segments, ribbon, elastic, two buttons, and an interfacing for the brim. This doesn’t go together without a bit of a fight either. But it’s really cute when it’s finished, and I love the stitch pattern. 🙂

One change I made is to use Amish bonnet board for the interfacing on the brim rather than the fabric interfacing. I’m pretty sure that will hold up much better over the long run, especially being manhandled, and it’s washable and won’t lose its starch, since it’s plastic. Here’s my Ravelry project page, which better details the trials and tribulations of this project.

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