Sunday, January 30, 2011

Scottish Sundays, roughly so

This past week has been a bit rough. Sleep seems to be elusive like sunshine on a rainy day and this hasn't helped my Being at all. In fact, although it has been quite nice, most of last week have felt like I wandered around with a cloud above my head.

Much like this one, actually (Outer Hebrides)

Road to nowhere, anyone?

I'm not a very pleasant person when I'm in this state of mind, so I mostly try to avoid people. I was going to enjoy my day off on Friday and devote it to Scotland and to designing. Instead, I dealt with the remains of a 2-day headache and read a book. It's a nice book, and it makes me laugh. It started with the title: Blood Sucking Fiends (amazon link). Enough to extract a smile, and it's pretty amusing for a Vampire Book.
The rest of the weekend I've spent ripping out (re-)knitting, watching tv, and finishing a skein of Black Icelandic wool, which wasn't a pleasure at all. In a sense, I felt pretty stuck in where I am right now.

Very Stuck Standing Stone, Callanish

In an attempt to grab myself by the scruff of the neck, I've been doing some job hunting with the Scottish Arts Council, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. Unfortunately, I'm not qualified as a ranger or an estate manager, because how wonderful would that be? On the other hand, I'm not quite ready to go back into retail, as far as being a tourist trap shop assistant. At least not for a while yet.

So another week passes with no answers but more questions. At least there is still my awesome mother, who did my laundry so I can have clean clothes while I drag myself to work again in the morning. I promise to be more upbeat soon. I just need a bit of good news, the old good news has worn off.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

WIP Wednesday, only it's Thursday

Uhm yeah, so all plans were out the window yesterday. Apparently, that's where all of my plans live. I can only assume it's getting crowded out there and it is quite cold, so maybe some will drift back inside. One can always hope.

No essential work was done in the end, but I made back ups (long overdue), updated my phone's software (so the reminder could stop draining the battery) and lots of annoyance with the one camera in this family was more or less solved today.

All of this happened so I could show you some lovely pictures of some new projects. Yeah I know, I have a few (a lot) on the needles already, but sometimes it just feels good to start something new and exciting. (Startitis, much?)

Exciting, no?

Last weekend I cast on for the Peaks Island Hood, which has been in my list for over a year. The Hysteric Yarn is nice in places, and a bit over-twisted in others, but who cares?

I don't

And then for the piece de resistance (in French, obviously) I figured I could design something myself. It worked out alright in the beginning, the size was just what I calculated but I didn't quite like the way it lacked 'widening' after the brim. So I frogged. And decided I didn't like the edge anyway. I came up with another one, and spent all evening watching progress bars move slowly and knitting a 180 stitch picot edge. This afternoon, I re-read Alice Starmore's Fair Ilse Knitting, and decided to change the k1mc,k1cc colour edge as well to a k1mc,p1cc.

I moved on to larger needles this afternoon, after the brim so for the first time, I could tell the actual size. And now it fits 2 heads.

Pretty though, isn't it?

or 4 yarncakes, if stretched

Guess what, I'm frogging again and abandoning the picot edge. The k1mc, p1cc can stay, after I measure again.

It's not all doom and gloom, today at work we learned that not one, but two girls found themselves another job so no one is sent home (yet). Next elimination planned for the end of March. I'm not over the moon about it, though I guess I should be. The best I can do right now is "meh"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday, postponed.

Due to epic technological failure including emergency back-ups (laptop), essential updates (phone), SD card breakage (camera, not mine) and 2(!) empty camera batteries, there will be no WIP Wednesday this Wednesday.

All being well, there will be a WIP Wednesday on Thursday. Unless the sky falls down. There's always a chance.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Scottish Sundays, Confusedly Yours.

You're never too old to learn, so if I go by my age and the average age of my Grandfathers (not my grandmothers, that would not serve my purpose), I have a lot of things to learn still. One thing I've learned is that you must make time to find some tranquility within yourself. I've learned some exercises and my spinning helps me get there, but the trick is in the Doing (as ever).

Take a pebble beach, a tranquil sea, and Feng Shui! A Quiet Head!

This Quest For Scotland, however, is not as easy to follow. While the idea is starting to stick, with the sticking comes the worrying about how to execute this Quest. If I had my way, there would be no more worrying about money and how to pay the bills, but that's just not realistic. The road to IF is very treacherous and will lead to the Bridge Of Doom if you're not willing to stray from it. And you know you won't have the correct answer to the question. Aaaaaaaaaaargh!*

It doesn't hurt to travel along it for a while...

IF there was no worry about how to pay the bills, THEN I'd love to live in my tent for a while. I'd take the big one, the one with room to move around, and stand up. I'd take it to my most beloved sites, and some I haven't visited before. I'd take my knitting and my Bea*** and my laptop, and I'd design and people would love me and offer me odd jobs around their business, their hotel or whatever. I'd make a commitment to walking at least an hour a day, and because of this, I'd finally reach a size that leaves me room to expand a little again, whenever I get back to having access to fall-of-the-bone-ribs. I'd do some tech editing or translate patterns to bring in enough to buy food and petrol when I need it, and the world would be OK.

However. The world is not made of IF (unless you're offering ;)), but of NOW.

The Windy Road Of Deathy Deaths, or NOW****

I've traveled that road a fair few times now, and it's mesmerizing, scary but with that sense of excitement. And sometimes, I find glimpses of excitement but they disappear so quickly into the Fog of Doubt. Would anyone else be interested in walking and crafting to free the mind? How would you find these people? Where would you go and where would you stay? Would anyone buy into this silly idea of mine?

This Quest is scary and driving me back into IF and into worrying, and it's really up to me to fix it, but it would be silly not to ask for Help. If you, dear reader, have an opinion or ideas, please leave them below.

It never hurts to remind yourself that the Windy Road of Deathy Deaths sometimes takes you here. Life ain't bad on the Harris/Skye ferry.

*Note by Geek: Blue**
**I probably got that wrong.
***Bea, the Orphaned Wheel
****Yes, that one, again

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday, does not contain enough sleep

Hi there,

yes you, lurking in the corner. Hi, you can come out, I won't bite. I'm too tired, it's too much effort. On the other hand, I'm bursting with creative frustration adrenaline!

Below, find O.W.L.S.

Looks alright, doesn't it? Almost finished, wouldn't you say?

Well it's not. I carefully calculated gauge, did the numbers as instructed, and when my row count didn't end up matching my calculations, I Just. Went. On. Anyway.

And now I'm stuck with an INCH of surplus boob-room. Believe you me, that's quite something to have spare if you're me. Also, let me tell you, I'm not ripping back, I'm not. I'll do some shaping when it's done. It's just fine otherwise. It fits an' all. (It just has extra room for a set of regular sized boobs)

White Shetland, 203 mtr, light fingering

Now this is much more pleasurable. It's what I've been doing when I wasn't working on a job or flinging myself at brick walls. It's soft.

Grey Shetland, 221mtr, light fingering

This was last week's skein, and it's also lovely and soft and squooshy (how do you spell that feeling of yummy softness when you squeeze a skein of yarn?)

All of the colours I want to use are spun now, so all that's left is to soak and let dry so the twist can set. I really hope to be trying it out next week. This is them, together.

I should sleep and be more, so I've just started reading Eckart Tolle's The Power of Now. Will keep you posted...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Scottish Sundays, and shamelessly inserting some holiday pictures

The past week wasn't one to write home about. That would be silly. I spent quite a bit of it at home, so it would at least be a waste of a stamp. No I'm not in the business of keeping TNT Post alive, as long as they pay me my pension if and when I reach 67. In the last WIPW post, I've mentioned that my diary seems to be clearing, and that trend has only kept going.

Quite understandably, my students have put their NT2 lessons in the fridge, while he travels around the world for work for the next few months. While it does make very little sense for them, it does blow a hole in my finances. At times like these, I have to keep hold of my mantra.

Something Will Come Up

It hasn't helped with being more productive but I'm getting there. I ingested some alcohol on Friday, which didn't help either, but it was good for the soul. (not for the head. or the liver). Since then, I'm trying to pick things up, while not forgetting the Big Project of getting me Across At Least One Sea by this Summer.

Oh no, I've done some thinking. Tonight, my thoughts seem to have re-enforced themselves while I watched Lark Rise to Candleford. It's a period drama set at the end of the 19th century. Many of today's issues get incorporated into the series. Last week, for instance, a honorable man lost his business and his possessions because he took out a loan he couldn't pay back. Sound familiar?

Anyway, this week, it was about industrialisation and old crafts being replaced by factories. One of the characters, Queenie, the old wise woman of the village, can no longer sell her bobbin lace to the Pratt sisters who run the local boutique. They've gone over to factory-made lace, which leaves Queenie in a sorry state of loss. In true Lark Rise tradition, her setback returns her to the true nature of her craft, the art of making instead of the lost goal of selling. In a truly heart-wrenching scene (or stomach-turning, whichever your sentiment) the younger sister Pratt turns around and learns the art from old Queenie, who never had a daughter to teach.

In a side-line, Laura learns that winning is not the object either, but the wish to create great writing, and recently bankrupted Gabriel learns about his wife's true motives for marrying him. All in a day's work, dear writers of Lark Rise. If you don't already know it, the entire series has a hue of rich honey mead, but I like it. The costumes are quite stunning, and the story lines are really not all that bad as I'm making out here ;)

The point I'm trying to make, is that they actually chose this subject, the loss of great crafts. It's just one signal of the interest for the handmade that is growing on an international basis. Not long ago, Ravelry, a forum for anyone interested in fiber, knitting and crochet, reached 1.000.000 members. Yes, One (1) Million (6 zeros) members. And not all of them are over 50!

In the UK, there is special interest for the wool industry, with sheep running around Savile Row and over here, a very successful YA writer is starting up some super knitting club for teenagers.

Just a few examples here, but there seems to be a genuine interest in getting back to the basic of things. We've all seen it with food, Jamie Oliver grows his own veg, the slow-food movement gaining momentum (slowly, ha!) and we all want to know where our food comes from, as long as we're able to pay for it. Search Amazon for a few minutes and you'll be flooded with titles on how to grow your herbs in a city dwelling to starting your own dairy business from scratch.

And now, knitting is hot! Museums all around the world get Yarn Bombed, bridges get wrapped on every continent and new designers turn into Bright Young Things at the snip of a fiber-wrapped finger.

Which leads me back to, well, Me. I'm not a designer (much, yet), but what is keeping me? Time, too many WIPs and the bad excuse of not having the correct software installed. I don't see myself as the next Ysolda, Gudrun or Kate, but they're great examples and inspirations. Talking of which, wouldn't you be inspired by this?

I know I need to be more organised with my time. It should help with going forward instead of stalling in the faux-safety of a job that only gets me to the other side of the city-canal. And that's Not A Sea.

Road of Deathy Deaths

It's a windy road, but I'm sure it will take me somewhere. Plans are starting to hatch, but uncertainty about the how and the 'will people be interested' bits still find their way into my head. That's okay, these questions need answering.

For now, all I'm happy to say, is that it might involve demonstrations, or 'doing things fiber-y' with kids. Or tourists. If you like someone to spin in your business, your castle or on a lonely beach, I'm sure it'll attract some people. I'll be needing a spot to put up my tent ;)

I might be going potty, but at least I'm going somewhere!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WIP Wednesday, and a diary clearing itself

I had a lovely clean diary for a little while, but mostly around Christmas. The Texan was here for such a short time, it just didn't seem right to fill that time up with driving around the country to meet up with people.
Anyway, there I was, getting used to the 'no practice, no teaching' regime when all of a sudden the year changed, fireworks went off, and my diary was full.

During the first 3 weeks of 2011, I was to be out of the house 4 out of 5 weeknights, while also trying very hard to get used to increasing working hours.

Big Meltdown.

That's what happened...

And then I spun, because that helps. Yep, that's definitely something I've learned over the past months. Spinning makes the short circuiting in my head stop. It has something to do with the repetitive movement, the soft buzzing of the wheel as I make it turn (now that orphaned wheel Bea is sitting on a towel) and the drafting I now seem to be able to do by touch. The last few yarns I've made are to be together in a project, so I'm trying to get them as similar as I possibly can so my rhythm is more or less *Tread Draft Tread Slip (repeat from *) and then ply *Tread Tread Tread and Feed Tread Tread Tread Slip (repeat from *). So far I've only fallen asleep at the wheel 5 times this week. No major accidents reported so far. I've been told I'm Not The Only One who does that.

Unfortunately, my diary started clearing itself. A number of the good and fun things seem to have canceled themselves, some for very sad reasons. All of the annoying things remained, like going to work every day. Such fun ;)

Luckily, I've managed to knit some and spin some. This week's goal is to finish the O.W.L.S. sleeves, and one is already part of the big Unit. The other, well, see below.

This picture is (was) on its side.

27 rounds to go before I can add this one too, and then on to the actual owls. This means I need to start collecting buttons. So far, I've decided on 2. These are very much on the psychedelic part of the colour spectrum, and now I'm undecided if I want to keep the others quiet or go all out.
Either way, when this is done, I'll return to some secret knitting, and then some more secret knitting, and some designing and Manu. I feel like I've neglected my sweet soft Manu for too long now. Soon...

Black Shetland, 199 mtr

I spun this over the weekend, when I should've been doing something else. The something else was started, so at least that's something. I've found that the black shetland was far coarser than the moorit I spun before, and the grey I am working with now. Odd, or maybe not.

Here they are together, sitting on a vague colour swatch sort of thingy.

They, and below and some white shetland that I haven't touched yet are going to be one of the designing thingies that I'm planning. No pressure.

Grey Shetland 2-ply light fingering

So I've been busy, sort of. Some things are crossed off the list. One day soon the rest of it will be as well. So far, I've even stuck with my one and only resolution for this year...

What have you been up to this week?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Scottish Sundays, an Introduction, reposted

I'm terribly sorry people, what with my confusion, but it seems like anywhere I could spread the word about the Scottish Sundays will only let me import 1 RSS feed. That means it'll be very difficult to drag you all in to both blogs, so I guess Scottish Sundays will reside here.
Please find below a post I published earlier today

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my newest blog, Judith goes Scotland, sister of my other blog Judith goes USA. That one got started because I was spending a lot of time either in the USA, or trying to go there on a more permanent basis. This, alas, has still not happened, and while I'm waiting it has been decided that The Big Wait* could take place anywhere I want it to.

Why not here?

The "where" question is easily answered. Ask me where I've felt happy, and I'll tell you it's in Scotland. Luckily, my passport allows me to go there quite easily. The trip itself is easy and affordable. Getting there is pretty much figured out.

While I am a highly trained (young) Lady Who Waits, I wouldn't be happy just waiting around so I must find some way to occupy myself. It would be even better if this occupation helped with those basic things we people seem to need. Food, a roof over one's head, clothes on one's back and fiber to play with. Alright, maybe not the last bit, but that's just something that makes me happy. Anyway, I have a tent, which makes for a roof, and I'm not lacking in the clothing department. While I'm carrying some reserves around the waist, food will become an issue very soon.

The point is, bills will still arrive in the post, the car will still need petrol and my body will want some fuel to burn. In order to deal with these tedious things, money will have to come in one way or another and that's why I started this blog and the Scottish Sundays.

This blog is here to help me organize my thoughts, my abilities and my wishes. My questions and hopefully some of your answers. And then, in the end, this will have helped me find a way to make this happen, I'm sure of it.

Goals are good to have, because without them, what would I be aiming for? Here are some that I've thought of so far
- Start every day with a walk
- Do something creative and share this with other people
- Find someone to talk to every day (or go mad)
- Be within reasonable distance from wifi (can't post without it!)

To help achieve those goals, I need some skills. Here's what I already have

- I am good with people of many a persuasion, be it young, old, male, female or other
- I love driving in Scotland as it takes me to places where I'd never walk to. I have my limits!
- I am not afraid of working. I find this helps
- I knit, I spin, I sew and I love it
- I navigate with a map and a compass, which is a good thing, since I don't have a GPS and I love maps

So far, I'm not quite certain how these skills will sustain me just yet, but this is just the start of the adventure and not the end. If you, dear reader, have any ideas, please leave them below. I'm also quite good at accepting help!

That's it for now. Even though it's Sunday, there's always something to do and it won't do itself. I'll be back next week, hope to see you here!

* The Big Wait: time spent waiting for stars to align in favor of me joining my dearly beloved husband of 4 years. Imagine anything that could possibly go wrong with that, and it probably already happened.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

WIP Wednesday, hysterically yours (and an announcement)

Hold on, it's not me. I saw you thinking "did she finally realise?"

No, I didn't. I'm still trying to hang on to a smidgen of sanity, and according to my therapist, I AM. So there.

(mind you, by the time you finish reading this, you might reconsider)

No, last week, the Texan went home (I did mention that, did I not?) and I spun some hysterically colourful yarn. I love it so much, that I took some more pictures of it, for your pleasure only (and mine)

Since then, there was a lot more knitting. O.W.L.S. is moving along like a high speed train, only more soft and wearable! The short row option of making it fit seems to be working out, find the instructions I used here at knotions. Unfortunately, it only shows up as a black blob in pictures when I'm not wearing it, and since it's not done, I'm not wearing it. I'm up to the part where the arms get added to the round, and I've got half an arm done, so there. Not too bad for a week's worth of knitting.

I did do more spinning, the results of which you can see below. The first two are the same skein (duh) which added up to 183 meters of moorit Shetland wool, in a light fingering weight. It's lovely to work with and squishy and soft.
The last picture is of 63 meters of Corriedale I received for my birthday from Japan (and Ashford), and I find it a nightmare to spin with. I'm not sure if that's the sheep's fault, but there you go.

Finally, an announcement!
I can't keep using my appointments as the only reason to Do Something Significant About My Future (she won't be there forever because my insurance just won't cover), so as an incentive to have Something Significant to say every week, I'm starting a second blog this Sunday. Judith not only goes USA (sometime, surely), but also Scotland (achievable, and sometime soon). I'll be inviting you to help me out with that quest. You'll not disappoint me, will you?