Archive for the ‘Housework Avoidance’ Category

Fibers Through Time wrapped up today.  I don’t know how much of  the course content will stay in my main bag of tricks, but it was a fun weekend (except for the insomnia) (more on that in a minute) and I got to know some really interesting people.  There was one other Canadian woman taking  a class, and one Canadian instructor.  I always chuckle when people in Arizona say I have an accent, because I can never hear anyone else  down here in Arizona speaking with an accent.  Great.  I talk funny and apparently I am going deaf.

Insomnia, you ask?  Yes.  The hotel bed was more than a little uncomfortable, and the pillows were feather, which made my eyes scratchy.   Once I did get to sleep, I dreamed that the knitting police kept bursting into our classroom and telling me that I was doing it wrong and I should just give up trying to pretend that I am creative.  Then I found myself driving around in some gated community but I couldn’t find the gate to get out.  I suspect that I was a little stressed about having to step outside my comfort zone of knitting in the “Paint by Number” genre.

I got back to my house today  to find that the lovely stick that I mentioned in my last post, and which I had left on the patio to finish drying, had been tossed out by Lorenzo my yard guy.  I guess he didn’t share my vision.

I may have bought another little bit of  Navajo spun and dyed yarn.  I will try to remember to snap a picture to post.

Now, I think I’ll head to bed and see if I can evade the knitting police long enough to find the exit from the gated community.


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First a little housekeeping:

There has been an actual, full-sized cement mixer parked on the street in front of my house all morning.    There are guys with no shirts and tattoos working in my yard (don’t get excited; all shirtless tattooed guys were not created equal), and there is an actual patio on the south side of the house.  There is almost a whole actual patio on the west side, and rumour has it that by the end of tomorrow, there will be completed patios, no junk in the yard, a shed in its proper place, dirt installed and graded away from the house, and the gravel Mount Judy at the foot of our driveway will no longer be damming Lake-Next-Door-Neighbor at the foot of their driveway.  Yay.  All that will remain is fixing and priming the drywall in the basement, then I can (re)paint, we can deal with the new carpet (again), and the Playroom can take shape.  Mike commented the other day that he’s way more impatient to get the basement done than I am, but I didn’t like to point out that while I am anxious to get it done, I am likely more patient because I knit.  (I know, I know; I’m just as impatient about it as he is; maybe moreso; but am uncharacteristically not showing it.  Inside I am a seething mass of impatient.)

Knitting?  Did someone say knitting?  Okay, since you asked.

I have almost finished Echo Beach.  In a moment of weakness I agreed with the Wednesday Morning Ladies that I would ladder down the dropped stitches while they watched (what was I thinking?) so I won’t know until then whether I have goofed in the pattern or not.  Assuming no goof, I will then bring it home and wash it and block it.  Pre-laddering measurements:  42″long by 13″wide.  I’ll post post-laddering measurements post-ladder, and then final blocked measurements post-block.  I am curious how much it will grow.  It could end up as a scarf.

Pre-stitch-ladder, pre-block

Stitch markers where stitches will be laddered

I am halfway through knitting a pair of red socks.  I have wanted a pair for years, and finally got around to it.  I thought it would be a good chance to try out some of the techniques I learned at Saskatchewan Stitches from Lucy Neatby, but apparently my brain can only process so much at once.  F’rinstance, did you know that in an ideal world, the heel of the sock would be centered relative to whatever pattern you’ve chosen for the leg?  Also, were you aware that your caston point is generally found at the centre of the inside of the calf, or at the centre of the back of the calf?  Not at the centre of the front of the shin?  Sheesh.

Anyways, I have decided to continue on to the second sock, and not bother completely redoing the first one, as it’s going to be in a shoe anyways.  I have promised myself that the second sock will address all these issues.

Knitting done, finishing to follow

Toe chimney; possibly the niftiest Neatby trick ever

The yarn is Knitpicks Stroll Tonal, colour Gypsy.  Now that I’ve cast off Echo Beach, I think I’ll cast on sock #2 before the moment passes.

Last week I displayed an immense amount of self-discipline and finished off the Balkan Booties.  I used flat hook-and-eye closures (5 per leg), and trimmed with cute buttons that look like black Smarties.

Balkan Booties

I suppose I should wear them, although if I can find a pair of inexpensive mannequin feet, I may just display them in my Playroom; an example of how not to knit intarsia.

All-in-all,  it’s been a pleasant and productive week.  Mike’s birthday, Father’s Day, patios, sock, wrap, laundry, desserts, the season finale of Game of Thrones and on it goes.  Life continues.  It beats the alternative.

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Stitches is over for another year.  I learned so much, and luckily the class notes were really good so I can refer back to them.  More enticingly, I think I want, nay, must have, all 16 of Lucy Neatby’s instructional DVDs.  I am so excited I don’t know what project to start first.  I may have to decompress for a few days before I leap ahead.

In a fit of adolescent hero worship, Lucy kindly signed both of her books for me, and consented to pose with me for posterity.

Hoping some talent will ooze from shorter to taller

Now that I’m home, Mike expects me to make supper.  Sometimes reality just plain sucks.


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There were a couple of empty spaces in the backyard that needed a little something, so I thought, Hey! Why not plant a cactus?  This is the desert after all.  So it was off to the tree nursery to find the least lethal-looking specimen.  I present:

This is the Red Bunny Ear cactus.

Up close:

Kinda cute, eh?   Neat little polka dots, little cactus babies ready to grow out the extremities, low maintenance…

Red Bunny Ear cactus is a terrible misnomer.  I have renamed it the Monty Python cactus.

Those of you who haven’t seen Monty Python in Search of the Holy Grail will likely not get the connection, and I am not going to try and explain it here.  Know that I spared you the graphic picture that followed the scene in this picture. Go and watch the movie.  It’s a classic.  But I digress.  The cute little polka dots are clusters of teensy weensy spines that can penetrate even heavy leather gloves.  In large numbers.  Hundreds.  Maybe thousands.  I know this because the trick for planting without touching the cactus only works if the pot is not made out of Titanium or Kevlar or whatever is impervious to a sharp cutting instrument.  The cactus looks kind of cute (in a deadly sort of way), but I promise you, if it dies, it will not be replaced with another one just like it.

As an aside, digging in the ground here is hard work.  Rocks, sand, rocks, the ever-present threat of nicking the irrigation line, rocks, sunburn; you get the idea.  There is only one thing keeping me from jumping into the pool to cool off, and that is

Yup, construction next door.   I don’t want to scare them off by appearing in a bathing suit (and topless is completely out of the question, for a variety of reasons).   Boy, will I be glad when they’re done.  There are 7 houses in various stages on construction within a hundred and fifty feet here, and these guys start early.  6:00 this morning, with music and hammering and noise.  The upside is that they’re gone by 4:01 pm, and the building will be done and completed when we come back in the fall.  In the meantime though, the backyard isn’t as private as you might think.  I am spending time inside trying to amuse myself with sticks and string.

This is Elizabeth Freeman’s  Aeolian Shawl from Knitty.  I am naming it the Ironic Aeolian, since the pattern is inspired by desert plants, and I am knitting it in an obviously watery colour.  I’m using the pricey-but-oh-so-nice Ella Rae Merino Lace and some really cheap beads from a chain craft store.   Lace is uninspiring before it’s blocked, but this is a pretty fun knit (although the beginning was threatening to kick my ass.  Oh, and failure to apply the stitch chart at one point also threatened to kick my ass, but that was after happy hour and I may have had a libation that was clouding my faculties.).    The wrong-side rows are all purled which is proving to be somewhat tedious, but I am using that to practice the Peruvian purl technique that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee  taught last year at Knitting Camp.  (The only tension on the yarn is from around your neck, and the yarn is on the floor.  Terribly quick and easy, or at least it should be by the time I get to the end of the shawl.)

I’ve been invited to dinner tonight up the street- meeting some new neighbors.  I have to take a salad.  I hate making salad.  I love to eat it, but I hate to make it.  Terri- if you read this in time, send me an email with a salad recipe.  (Is that pathetic, needing a recipe for a salad?)  And now, I must go and pick miniscule cactus spines out of my hand.  Everyone needs a hobby.

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This is why it’s really important to choose your neighbors wisely:

Really, we do have the best neighbors.   On a day when the city snow removal crews weren’t apparent even on main arteries (including one near our house where there was a fatal accident three days ago),  we  were at the mercy of the elements.  Andy took my jeep to work (and had to drive a few people back and forth) and reported little or no road clearing happening.  We only see a city grader on our cul-du-sac every three or four years, and this isn’t the year, so imagine my joy when Dale from next door snow-blowed (snow-blew?) our driveway on his rounds.  A little while later, however, he looked like a sissy when Brent from the other-side next door brought home one of his company vehicles.  Too bad we can’t compete, but perhaps heartfelt thanks will suffice.   I don’t want to seem petty, but we were hoping this weather would happen while we were away…

Big news.  I knit!

This is the Flared Smoke Ring Cowl.  I used Ella Rae Lace Merino that I purchased in Ottawa last year.  It spent some time in the timeout bin, after an abortive attempt at some Victorian Lace Today.  Victorian Lace Never, more like it.

It matches nothing I own, no jacket, no sweater.  I do love it, though (even though it will never be pulled up on my head like this), so I’ll have to improvise.

I ran into a rather snooty person at the gym this week, who poo-pood my loom.  She of course weaves on a “grown-up’s” loom.   After she told me that I couldn’t weave patterns on my loom, just one-by-one weave, I ran home and warped up for a basketweave scarf.   I think it turned out quite nicely.

He insisted on the sunglasses in case any of his friends recognized him and gave him grief about the nice purple scarf.  He’s such a wuss; not in touch with his feminine side at all.  I told him that this shouldn’t be as threatening as the cowl, but he just set his jaw and refused to talk.  To add insult to injury, I made him go and sit on top of the china cabinet with a ball cap on sideways and a pair of 3-D glasses from Avatar.   You want silly?  I’ll give you silly.

The ultimate in silly has to be last night’s movie fare.  In my own defense, I left the room.  Almost immediately.  Crank High Voltage .  I really hope that everyone involved in this movie did it tongue-in-cheek, because from what I heard and saw on my few trips past the television, well, it would be too sad if they thought they were making an art film.

Mike has very kindly finished cleaning the kitchen after supper, so the table is cleared and I am ready to resume weaving.  I know I keep saying it, but I am having way too much fun.  Housebound because of the weather?  Bring it on.

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It is minus 30 today, plus whatever windchill is blowing around.  It’s too cold for the sparrows and finches to leave the comfort of their commune in the front-yard cedars to eat, and Attie needed help back onto the deck when she was outside for her constitutional this morning.  In other words, it is Cold.  Didn’t we just do this in December?  I don’t remember.   All I know is that in exactly 4 weeks, we will own and have possession of a winter retreat down south.   Yay.  Now that Christmas is over, I can obsess about the new digs without distraction (except knitting, weaving, and cleverly avoiding housework at all costs).  Mike thinks we’ll be making no changes, but I think a couple of rooms’ worth of painting and refurnishing will happen with or without his enthusiasm.  After listening to him change his mind on a daily basis about whether to drive down (30 hours each way) or fly down, and nodding my head and agreeing to whatever he decided, he finally booked flights down.  I can’t say I am disappointed, although this does mean that taking down dishes and assorted kitchen stuff will have to wait until we drive to Arizona, probably in March or April.  So, interim paper plates, I guess.

The reason I am all het up about taking dishes from here mainly has to do with these:

Pretty good match with the dishes, yes?

thick and thin= wavy texture.

I whipped these up in early December, taking not-too-long, although I must admit that the hemming took a back seat to Christmas preparations.  Slip stitching the hems was a royal pain, and I am sadly out of practice with that kind of needle.   I am pleased with the texture from the thick-and-thin yarn, and the fact that they are all the same size give or take an inch.   Technical info:  warp is Moda Dea washable wool (purchased a few years ago for a knitted Christmas tree skirt that refused to be knit and has come in handy for ever-so-many smaller projects), weft is Sirdar Juniper, which likewise refused to cooperate as a sweater.   I thought 6 was a good number, since I knew I would lose interest before I hit 8, aqnd 4 placemats just isn’t enough.

Geoff and Courtney were home for Christmas, and we had a great visit!  I know that 10 days with in-laws can be overwhelming, and I think Courtney did a great job of not rolling her eyes in front of Mike and me.  (I don’t have any proof that either Geoff or Courtney were rolling their eyes, but I am projecting my remembered reactions onto my children).  We did trick them into the car one night (with Andy too) and drove through the Enchanted Forest, which for those of you who don’t live here and have no clue what I am talking about, is the longest outdoor drive-through Christmas light display in Canada and maybe North America.  It winds through our local zoo grounds (although not where the animals are) and looks best when there is snow on the ground.  Some years that takes until the second week of January, but we lucked out and got visually pleasing weather on January 1st.  Even if there were snide comments and rolling eyes from Geoff and Andy  (and there were),  Courtney enjoyed it and so did I.  It’s not like we drag them through it every year- more like every four or five years- and Courtney did say she wanted to learn our family traditions.

Speaking of traditions, we get together with Mike’s in-town siblings every Christmas Eve, eat and drink too much, and sing the first line (or more if anyone knows more) of many Christmas carols.  Andy and Mike were on guitar this year, and after the first 15 minutes or so, Andy suggested that perhaps we would be interested in the Christmas Karaoke channel on t.v., so there we were, gathered around the tube singing carols.  It was surreal, but not so surreal as when someone changed the channel and we ended up singing Abba karaoke.  Nothing says Christmas like “Money, Money, Money”.  And a new tradition is born.

After taking a break from knitting (it’s all loom-related), I actually knit a hat. It turned out okay, but it is not a good style for me.  I don’t really do hats that well, and I have always blamed my hair- it’s too short or too long, too flat or too poufy, or not really that cold out.  (Like today.)  So, it’s into the tickle trunk without so much as a photo, but at least I’m knitting.  I am almost finished another facecloth for my Spa Experience Bathtub and may weave a few kitchen towels next week.

Loving the colours here.

Oh yes, and I did whip up a couple of quick scarves:

Linda, I'm sorry your Christmas present was late.


I warped this one at 10:30 in the morning, and cut it off the loom at 1 in the afternoon.  Too much fun.

The saddest part of dismantling the Christmas decorations?  Saying goodbye for another year.

I always have a chat with her on the way to the top of the tree, feel slightly guilty when I jam the tree up her dress, and then apologetic when I take her down and put her away.  By the next year all is forgiven.

Speaking of forgiven, I have broken all my new year’s resolutions (all of which involve sugar and exercise- you figure it out), but am not beating myself up over it.  Life is too short, and if I had a bucket list, there would still be too much fun on in.   So, to all of you in Blogland, happy belated Christmas, and I wish you a healthy and prosperous new year.   This is a fun ride we’re on, isn’t it?

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Tunnel Vision

It’s not that I am particularly obsessive; it’s just that I just can’t seem to think about anything else.

Weaving.  I wake up at night thinking about fibre combinations.  I make deals with myself:  “Empty the dishwasher and you can warp the loom for another project.”  “Put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and you can weave for an hour.”  I am sure that the novelty will wear off eventually and it will just become a part of what I like to do, but in the meantime, am I ever producing a lot of scarves.

Yesterday’s production:


It’s AslanTrends Santa Fe sock yarn with DROPS Lin. Hopefully it will soften up with washing- it’s a little, shall we say, crisp for a scarf now.



Attie is already getting bored with the whole thing.   Too bad; it’s not like her schedule was full anyways.

And in the “Nothing says happy birthday like shredded cheddar on your dog kibble” department, Wallace turned 6 yesterday.  We’re expecting maturity and the cessation of barking that comes with it any day now.

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