Saturday, October 20, 2007


Well, here I am, coming to you from the official drought state of VA. Ain't it wonderful to check the USGS site and find your state is colored in entirely. And your local river has one of those bright red dots for really low. It's near the end of October and we have yet to have a hard frost. The temps are in the mid-70's to mid-60's for highs and 50's to mid-40's for lows (if you live in a mountainous area). We got a smattering of rain yesterday but it lasted about 2 minutes. Just enough to remind you that water could still fall from the sky. I was beginning to think it was a fairytale. NC Gal mentioned to some friends the other night that she had 400 bales of hay and the way they leaned forward, with this gleam in their eyes, and said "400 bales! Where do you keep it at?" was a little bit....well, intense, if you know what I mean. The poor farmers can't even sell the livestock because no one is buying. Doesn't make sense to buy more cows or horses, even if they're dirt cheap, if all you've got is dirt left to feed them. There was a time I actually felt a bit antagonistic toward our up-stream neighbor because he built this big bank around his pond and it dammed up the stream that flows from a spring a bit up the small valley (we call it a holler around here) and cut off the main flow to my part of the creek. I've only had a creek in the spring after that, when the wet-weather springs would rise and feed it. It's been 2 years since we even had a sign of wet-weather spring and the last was more of a slight mudhole. I sincerely hope the bullfrogs that lived there managed to vacate before the springs stopped filling. I loved listening to them. His pond is very meager right now. Actually, it's well below the drainage spout he installed to keep it from becoming stagant and well on it's way to becoming just a mudhole it's self. I noticed his cattle are gone.....

I will never complain about rainy days again. Just please wish some our way, okay?

On the knitting front:

Had a bit of an interlude there between posts. Due to actually knitting instead of surfing. I even have blocked and seamed sweaters to show off:

Josie's sweater and hat. Very nice orange Cotton Classic yarn by Takhi Stacy Charles from Orchardside Yarn Shop in Raphine, VA. It's showing up as a very bright violent orange on my monitor but it's actually a calm shade of orange, if such a thing could be said of any orange color.

The Merry Sweater for Bridget, from Elsebeth Lavold's Designer's Choice no. 11, in Hempathy. I managed to get the green and golden colors very close but again, the orange is rather aggressive. I loved knitting this. The only problem was the yarn fought me when doing the seaming. It's a bit splitty.

The freight and loom conundrum. Well, I now have a Gobelin loom lying in pieces in my living room floor. NC Gal has a Nilus jack loom installed in her home. Both have sustained damage and missing bits and pieces, which we have been assured will be replaced. I had a chunk chipped out of the bottom support of mine but her's had a bad crack in one side piece. We bought these on Ebay at an excellent price but didn't quite know what we'd end up getting since neither was assembled in the photos. All we were certain of was that they were Leclerc looms with "some accessories". The freighting incident kind of got us down there but once assembly began and we realized what we'd ended up with, well, the song and dance began. I hope to have mine assembled for show and tell tomorrow. It takes 3 people to put it together so I have to find 3 people I can get in my living room at the same time that will cooperate to put it together. Where's my son-in-law when I need him? :-)

Rogue. Rogue is living up to it's name in being a bit of a rogue. It only lacks sleeves and I was to the sleeve cap and almost at the binding off point. But I kept having this tinge of unease. It just seemed way too long to me. Instead of reaching for the tape measure to check this, I put it off by checking my gauge. Yes, getting both row and stitch gauge, so I had to be right, oui? Knit another row. Gee, that's an awfully long sleeve lying in my lap. So I dragged myself out of the recliner, found a flat surface, pinned the sleeve down and measured. 24 inches long and I wasn't finished knitting it. No, no, no. That couldn't be right. So I called Tech Gal, hoping she had 25 inch long arms. No such luck-21 and 1/2 inches long. Of course, the sleeves need a slight bit more to set back into the top of the shoulder correctly but still, this wasn't going to work. I have dragged the offending sleeve and schematics and instructions to every knitter I know that would understand such things and measured every person's arm length that didn't run from me. The longest I found was 22 inches. They did state they'd be willing to give the sweater a good home, even with the too-long sleeves. Very nice of them, eh? All I can figure out is that I've done too many rows in the mindless knitting and increasing section after the cable inset part and thus have, well, too many rows. I can't face ripping back yet, so I'm going to start the other sleeve and PAY ATTENTION! What a concept.

And no, I haven't finished that pair of socks. They're still in time-out. I did pull one of them out and try it on yesterday. Instead I decided I needed to start a baby dress for T, after talking to her mom, who said, oh, yeah, the baby shower's November 8th. Yikes. I also managed to mess it up last night while attempting to watch the CBS lineup, increasing all those triangles to 12 stitches instead of 14. See, you start by knitting 13 triangles, which are themselves begun by casting on 2 sts, increasing to 14 sts, then joining them all together to make the bottom hem of the dress. Haha. Got a tad confused on the numbers while watching, well, Numb3rs, Moonlight, and Ghost Whisperer. It is almost Halloween/Samhain after all, so I can be excused for watching ghosts, vampires, and serial killers, right? I think I lost count somewhere during the Fibronacci sequence explanation that they crossed with numerology.....

I think I'd better go try to fix those triangles and have a soft drink. Good thing I don't really like to drink water, isn't it?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Back to what was lost and now is found*

I am still experiencing numerous October setbacks, the latest due to a knitter's worst action, namely that of self-delusion. Knitters are often capable of this. It occurs when some item you are knitting is obviously either too big, too small, oddly shaped or bearing absolutely no resemblence to the schematics provided or those common sense should be alerting you to. I've been knitting a pair of Jaywalkers, pattern by the ever-amazing Grumperina, with a few modifications by myself, namely that of not carrying the pattern down onto the foot portion of the socks. This has gone well and I could have a finished sock to show you except for one thing:

I totally messed up the toe decreases. No, I did not take pictures. I don't want to remember this.

I knew it as I was knitting that it wasn't working. Yet I kept going and even tried a wonky fix in order to avoid stopping where I was and going back 4 rows to knit plain another 1/2 inch. 4 scrawny, measly rows. Instead I forged ahead, thinking to myself that I could just add a couple of plain rows at the end of the sock before kitchenering the toe off and it would work out.

Well, it didn't. Because a 1/2 inch on size 1 US needles is more than a couple of rows to add at the end. I ended up with a weird chimney-shaped funnel, kind of like the one you get when you start a toe-up sock with a certain kind of provisional cast-on. I even contemplated casting it off and ignoring the shape. But, gee, I noted that my toes kind of slope and there was that 1/2 inch sticking out on the one sloping side and if I tried sticking that in a shoe, it would bunch up and cause all kinds of problems. So I took out darning needle and yarn, inserted a life-line back at the row just before I started my decreases and yanked out an hour and a half's work. All because of the blinders I'd put on. Total idiocy for the sake of not wanting to tink back 4 rows.

And they're going to be such pretty socks, too, if only I stop fooling around with them:

This is the sock from about a week ago. I'm using Fleece Artist 100% merino for them, another great buy from Mosaic in Blacksburg, VA. I had some anxiety about whether or not there was enough yarn in that dwindling ball you see in the photo but now know that there's more than enough to do my women's size 7 (US) socks. Going for a size 9 in this pattern would be pushing it though.
Both socks are currently resting comfortably in my knitting bag beside the recliner. After all, it's hardly their fault I became mired in self-denial and delusion.

As for what was lost now being found, look what I located:

Yes, as previously mentioned, the elusive, worm-hole traveling roving. I had the one bobbin full and have now filled half of another and have the roving displayed to finish spinning before the plying can begin. I'm trying to be really dedicated to spinning at least one strip of roving a day, even if it's only a 5 or 10 minute spinning session, so I can both get this spun, plyed, set, and knitted up into the planned baby booties but also so I can improve my spinning.

As to where we stand with the service providers mentioned in the last post, well, let's just say that the 4th box finally wended it's way back to the person we'd bought it from and we've arranged for it to attempt to find it's way to us...again. A claims adjuster is supposed to be in contact with us to come inspect the damage and I figure that's where the big fight will commence, since they left NC gal a message that indicated they were under the impression that all we had in the order was a bench. Now, I'm not quite sure where that impression came from since that "bench" was insured for around $6,000 but that was the message left. NC gal returned their call, leaving her own message to correct this false impression. It's not the first they've had and I'm sure it won't be the last.

I've managed to overcome some of my seaming avoidance. I seamed one side of Bridget's Merry sweater while watching VA Tech play Clemson. (Yay, VT!). I still really like the hand to the Hempathy yarn and love the pattern for the sweater but I am definitely converting this to be knit in the round when I do the one I'm planning on for myself. Being tri-colored, it's been a pain to mattress stitch the seams and not allow the yarn I'm using to show through and the Hempathy yarn's qualities that I like so much, it's softness and drapiness, hinder this seaming process even more. I hope to finish seaming the other side and knit the few rows needed to finish the neckline and it'll go on the "Finished Object" list on Ravelry. If you want to see that list, including the other things I have on the "in progress" and such, I'm HokieKnitter. Feel free to drop by.

Rogue is in the process of gaining sleeves. I cast on and am 24 rows into the sleeve, not counting the hem. I also cast on this:

The Goldilocks Shawl from Fleece Artist, obtained from Colorsong Yarn, an online yarn shop. The fiber itself is named Goldielocks and is 56% mohair, 24% silk, 20% nylon. It's a boucle and very soft and drapey. I'm being slowed down in knitting it due to having to hold it up to the light so I can admire it's colors and cuddle it at intervals. The colors remind me of a forest with a stream running through it or the deep blue sky peeking through the dense tree foliage. Yes, I love it. And it's going to stay and be mine.

Another view, to try to help see the colors.

The Brown Dog had a few choice words to bark at me because I dared post a picture of the cat. He was quite adamant that he disliked sharing his blog with any of the other "hangers on" that also reside here.

This was taken during his lecturing of me. He wasn't happy about me snapping this either.

One good thing in October:
Gabriella, my friend Angela's little girl, all dressed up in her christening dress I knitted. She is a beautiful model and a true miracle. I couldn't ask for a better model for the outfit.
*"once was lost and then was found" taken from the lyrics of Amazing Grace, the hymn written by John Newton and originally published in Olney Hymns in 1779. You can read more about him at The John Newton Project, if you feel so inclined. He was quite an interesting man.
BTW, I'm sure you've noted the somewhat screwy spacing of my posts. I promise you, I have repeatedly edited and re-edited them and then, when I re-post, they are still screwy in their spacing. Even Tech Girl can't get the spacing to behave. So I've just decided to ignore it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bad Moon Rising*

Or waning, as may actually be the case. October seems determined to be one of those months you have to grit your teeth and, perhaps, pound your head in the wall a few times, in order to both survive what it throws at you and to keep from damaging people in the so-called "service" industries. I don't know what they're teaching them in orientation training but it ain't customer-based service.

(several yarn photos will appear to help ease the frustration in this post. I'm practicing my yarn photography. Please feel free to tell me which you like best. This is number 1 in the colors of fall wools.)

True, the above seems to have nothing to do with knitting. On the face of it, that is. In actuality, it does because when you're frustrated and angry, your tension changes (pun intended). You find yourself sitting and staring at those pointy implements in your hands, while your husband and dog decide it's best not to sit in the same room with an angry, frustrated and half-crazed-by-having-to-deal-with-customer-service-representatives woman. You make little to no progress on your projects because you're on the freaking phone for hours, listening to anything from Mozart to bluegrass (I found this to be profoundly disturbing-bluegrass should not be used for "on hold" music. That's tantamount to heresy in these parts.) I really disliked the mechanical female voice apologizing every 10 seconds for the "heavy volume of calls at present". It makes you worry deeply about the fact that you've just signed an 18 month service contract with these people and everyone seems to be calling them with a problem.

(so, what do you think? My fall colors involve greens, browns, and red and white for the Red Sox. Yay for the Division champs!)

Especially when they didn't even show up at the appointed time to set up your tv service. Try that on for profoundly disturbing. The original appointment was set up by a bubbly girl rep 2 weeks ago for today, between 8am and 5 pm. The world around me knows I hate early rising. But I agreed because I had other things to do in the afternoon. Nice, fun things. Like getting together with my friends at the LYS and hanging out knitting and bad-mouthing Presidential candidates and then weaving class. (We'll forget for the moment that weaving is torturing me right now. After all, I've got the warp on right now so I had the fun of just weaving for tonight.)

(Mustn't forget to add in the required merlot color of Virginia Tech for the fall, eh? Playing a bit with light and shadows here.)

So on Tuesday, I get a chirpy call from another female rep asking if they can come between noon and 5 pm. No, I say, I have a life and I can't do that. She pauses and sighes and I relent (because I'm sucker and a Southern one at that, taught to be polite and accomodating and I DO try til I'm crossed.) Alright, I can wait til 3 pm, how about that. Oh, perfect! was the response but she added that he would try to get here in the scheduled time period if he could.

Hmm. Now that left me not quite knowing exactly when he would get here. Anywhere from 8am to 3pm. Quite a gap. So I dragged myself out of bed (this is not funny. I do not care that most of the world functions as day people and some of them are even "morning" people. There was a reason I chose 3rd shift when I worked like other people and it had to do with this early morning allergy. I hates dragging out of bed.) Noon came and passed. Did I get anything accomplished with all those early lighted up hours referred to as "morning"? Some dusting. Well, a lot of dusting. Gee, that light does rather show the dust more. Yet another reason to avoid it. 3pm came and went. 4 pm. At 4:45pm, I gave up the teeth gnashing for the first service rep call. After the obligatory waiting period on hold (I think they just do this to weed out as many complaints as possible. Or possibly cause strokes from the fact this is just increasing your anger level and blood pressure. This is when the bluegrass was playing.) I got another chirpy-voiced woman who listened to my explaining that it was past time for the installation guy and where was he since he was supposed to have been here by 3pm. She asked what time was it? I said 4:45, now thinking about that Tuesday call and wondering exactly what time zone that service twit had been in that did the original re-scheduling. She put me on hold (Mozart, very soothing tune, don't know which one) and then said she'd called and the guy had gotten held up on a job and would be here by 6pm. I did tell her that as a new customer this was NOT the way to do business and it worried me about doing business with them and I wouldn't be so mad if they'd had the common courtesy to have called me earlier and said there was a delay. After all, I DO have a life, too, yes? Why, yes, she agreed, apologizing yet again. (Anything to get you off the phone, right?)

5pm. 6pm. 7pm. What do you know. It's fall now and guess what? It gets dark by 7:15. I did manage to wait til 8pm to place the 2nd outraged call but only because I'd been outraged by another company in another manner in the meantime but we'll get to that in a moment.

Mechanical voice this time, high volume of calls yet again. (Bad, bad feeling here.) This service rep is not only chirpy, she's bubbly, too. But I'm past polite. When she asks how she can help me tonight, I tell her I'm calling to report a missing installation guy and perhaps they should consider notifying the proper authorities since he sure ain't where he's supposed to be and hasn't been spotted in this location all day. I tell her how disappointed I am in her company, their lack of service, their inconsideration for their customers and pre-customers (yep, tendency to make up words when I'm angry. Family trait. Ask Techie Gal.) And she chirps "sorry" repeatedly all through it. Finally she says, well, I can re-schedule you for Tuesday if you'd like.

Tuesday. She repeated this a bit more hesitantly after she noticed I was pausing for a bit longer than she felt comfortable about. I replied it wasn't like I had a big choice in the matter, if I was going to get the tv service installed, I'd have to have someone come install it, right? I did make very sure we were scheduling this for the correct time zone, too. For all I know, some person on the West Coast got my tv service installed right on time at 3 pm PST.

(A shot of the back yard but I couldn't capture the gorgeous depth of the blue fall sky. But there isn't a cloud in it and that's important in the next chapter of this on-going tragi-comedy here.)

In the midst of all of this, my friend, the NC gal, arrived home to find bits and pieces of the looms we'd ordered dumped in her yard by a freighting company. The packages were mangled, holes involved, and who knows how many vital pieces, such as nuts, bolts, and screws, lying about. (And who knows where else they've been left lying whilst in transit?) A note was taped to the largest box explaining that the delivery person was sorry, whoever-the-heck she or he was couldn't carry it any farther.

Well, how polite to at least leave a note. This is the only time to be thankful for the drought we're having. I'm just amazed it didn't choose this moment to ease it by raining like a monsoon while those boxes were just lying about, mangled, torn, and available to anybody who drove by and was able to lift them. She had a worse fit than I did--of course, she was seeing the damage first-hand, I couldn't go over to investigate or help her since I was tied to my house, waiting for the MIA installation guy. She did take numerous photos before her husband arrived home and helped her get the boxes out of the yard and under shelter but we don't dare open them until the freight company's appointed claims investigator shows up and then we're going to take pictures of each and every phase of the opening of each box. We did take out proper value insurance but I have serious fears about what we're going to have to go through in order to get all those important bits and pieces (you know, nuts and bolts and screws hardly seem significant until your loom won't stand upright because it doesn't have any to hold it's frame in place, eh?) replaced that are missing, since the impression we got when seeing the condition our looms were delivered in does not exactly inspire confidence in the company's services. In fact, it gives you the same feeling I got from the tv service company and the service I was supposed to have received there. The non-existent service, that is.
But it got even better. Because when NC gal called to scream at these people (and she was screaming, ho, yes, boy, I can vouch for this), they said, oh, so the 4th box is okay then?

4th box? 4th box? What 4th box? We DID NOT get a 4th box. It's apparently off somewhere on a nice tour of the fall foliage.
All I can say is, I'm really very glad I'm not one of NC gal's students tomorrow. Not that she'd take this out on them but it would be very bad timing to ask for, say, an extension on an assignment.
So I'm not even going to attempt to explain the feelings or cursing elicited by this last tidbit of info. I'm sure you have enough imagination to fill that in for yourselves. I did manage the tiniest bit of knitting progress on Rogue. I have a sleeve cast on and 18 rows, not counting the hem, done. I spun a bit on the was-missing-but-now-is-found roving and managed to transfer my tension into it's twist. (hmm. Was missing but now is found. Talk about a hymnal association. Could lead me right into the strange doctor's waiting room conversation I had Tuesday but I'll save that one for my entry tomorrow.)
Let's leave with a nice photo of the Guardian of the Wool:

Sylvester. He's as old as the hills and misses Tech Gal something fierce. She always smuggled him into her bedroom. He pretty much just lies around in the available sunshine nowadays and sleeps but perks up when comes to visit. He's no fool. He knows she's still good for begging from, even now that she's got a family.
*"Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Green River album (1969)