Monday, April 25, 2011

Scottish Sundays, nothing to see here


Yes it is still Sunday. The second day of Sunday even. By law, no less.

We celebrate a second day of... a few things over here. Christmas, Easter and Whit Sunday. So today is the second day of Easter, a public holiday. Last Friday, Good Friday was another day off at work. Due to not sleeping, I took a few hours last week, at the end of the day, and sat in bars (don't judge me) working on clearing out my head. Seems I found me a spot, so I'll be returning there regularly. They don't look at you funny (much) when you whip out a stack of paper and a pencil and start scribbling and doing weird things with symbols.*

On Friday I got some help clearing cobwebs from a dear, slightly loony friend. Hefe Weissen is our mutual friend, and the bill was loads smaller than last time, so that was nice as well. I'll be taken a course in house renovation with her, free of charge, hurrah!

Due to this course, and me enjoying my... socks off (too warm for April), Scotland has been put on hold. It's all about feeling good about what you're doing,** and I've been having a bit of a good time lately, so I'm just going with that. I'm sure I'll get some kind of response on that later this week.

Anyroad, while I wasn't hanging around in bars or out eating or knitting a stranded sock, I finally finished the bfl/silk/silk 2-ply. 650 meters of it. It stunk when wet.


This will be a weird week, with today off, a short day on Wednesday because of tri-weekly appointment, and then a short Thursday to be un-rushed before the Big Night. To boot, the folks will be in Japan, and I'll have Friday to recover. Looking forward to it!***

* drawing charts. Stop that thought.
** it is, isn't it?
*** not the recovery bit, the bit just before that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WIP Wednesday, a full head's worth


You thought I'd forget again, didn't you?

But I didn't, did I? It's just too warm to carry on knitting a heavy wool cardi, as that's what Manu feels like right now. We're having a bit of an Indian Spring, if such a thing exists, and it's just so darn nice out there. I'm also still not sleeping more than 6 hrs a night and have just entered the 4th week of doing so. My brain is slowly turning to mush, so ehm... have patience with the getting on with things, will ya? (addressed to self, don't worry).

So do I have some WIPs? Indeed I do. Manu

Pleats and the beginning of a poofy pocket

Bea hasn't been sitting still either, having some lush silk added to the twine, but due to being silly, the silk single is being drop spun on this supposed Thai spindle. The yarn had better be nice.
Also in this picture, bits occupying my brain. Not really, they're out now. Harhar.

Must be off again, singing some more Queen bits. Hurrah!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Scottish Sundays, in Black and White

It's not often I get to use my shoes as a way to describe my thoughts, so here they are! Black, heeled and oh so purdy. White, somewhat comfy and wearing the wrong laces.

I wore the black shoes this Saturday. They went well with my black dress, the one which seems to be the costume for singing the serious stuff. Singing was serious yesterday, even though it's quite joyful in parts.
Some of it is massive, other bits are very subdued, but all of it is beautiful and very unlike our usual repertoire. Of course we're not the first (or the last, beating Eindhoven to the post) to perform this, so youtube provides some great performances, like this one, which is Movement I of the Queen Symphony

I wouldn't dream to suggest I could sing to that level, but not for lack of trying. Trying is made a lot easier because of the enthusiasm and, dare I say Charisma (such an awful word, but quite correct here) of the people we're working with. The fact that the choir conductor was pleased(!) during practise can be called quite a miracle, as he never seems entirely happy at regular choir practise. There's always room for improvement, quite a bit of room to be honest... After the try-out he still seemed quite pleased "with some bits which turned out quite beautiful" which may possibly have been the bits we didn't sing. I'm not sure he specified. Anyway, we'll take the sort-of-compliments when we can, won't we?
The other conductor, who is actually in charge of us all seems to radiate joy in what he does, it's quite addictive. He got me thinking about having so much joy in what you do that you infect other people with that positive energy... Be honest, how often do you get to experience that? I don't, not often.
Are you that person? I'm not.

I moan a lot about a job which does little more for me than pay the bills and keeps me from not leaving the house. The people around me moan about their jobs too, because we share the same lack of enthusiasm. My mentor finding joy in his latest nickname "Rain man" isn't quite the same thing. He just remembers a lot of useless facts and can do numbers in his head.
Anyway, if you've been keeping up, you know that enjoyment doesn't come easy these days but I try very hard, which brings me to the other side of the coin.

Before, I unconsciously decided that there was no point in starting new things because it meant there was only going to be more to say goodbye to. And since I had very little going on, that worked, kinda. For a while, until it didn't any longer. So now I enjoy a lot more things, allowing the entire experience to "enter my head" (which is not a medical term, obviously, ahem). But oh boy, trust my head to bugger it up again. Besides having the best of times singing and experiencing and quietly enjoying the fact that I still think this conductor is my DH's long-lost-twin-brother-from-another-mother (I've got people agreeing with me, I'm not crazy), there's this nagging little voice in the back of my head reminding me it's going to be all over in 2 weeks and nothing is going to replace it. Besides that, I'm moving to a place which seems to be a bit of a cultural black hole (no offence, really, it's a numbers thing) so even in the very far of future, there won't be anything like it. Granted, there is a music hall in Dallas, but lets be honest, I won't be singing for Jaap van Zweden, if he's even still there.

So, in order to stop this voice from nagging, plans have to be made, once again. All this energy has led to me plans 1004 through to 1006. Ehm yeah, not really counting, I just make a lot. But, piano lessons aren't so hard to come by, and maybe even some voice training? Who knows, but music is good for the soul so why not, eh?

On to the white shoes...

We did this one today at a shared concert with another local choir. The general feeling lacked a teensy bit of enthusiasm. Only a little bit, honest. It's just not quite the same, is it? Hilariously, we managed to get the number of chairs wrong again, which I might just blame on the little gnome sitting in the row in front of me at the Queen stuff. She turned up with a chair she brought in, which might possibly have come from the selected stack which was painstakingly counted out up to 3 times before we needed them. So what do you do when the awfully loud music combo is not where it was supposed to be and therefore in your way with fewer chairs than bums to fill them? Uhm, I'll leave it to your imagination to come up with the answer.

Instead of being bummed out, I did manage to enjoy the day, grinning at the valiant attempts of our own conductor to stay awake (he didn't leave the try-out after-party until 2.30 am, rockstar that he is), being happy with the outfit I didn't feel much for at first but turned out to be much more me than many others, and my red fingernails! Hurrah!

What does this have to do with Scottish Sundays, or even the lack of WIP Wednesday earlier this week, I hear you ask!

Quiet down, even you in the back of the class! (I still imagine people actually read this). I've been going on an average of 6 hrs sleep for about 3 weeks now. This article explains what that does with your brain. For now, I'm happy with my language centre working, somewhat...

Now, please excuse me while I keel over. (If only)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scottish Sundays, a 4-horse race

I was told this week that I didn't have to have everything solved before visiting the one person there to help me solve the problems.

For once, you do your homework thoroughly and still it's no good. Uhuh. I'll take it as a compliment anyway.

This Scottish Sundays thing was started a little while back to help me focus on an achievable goal. Something to work towards for the time that the main goal, share continents with the hubby (or even states, county, dare I say address?), is held back beyond my influence. This secondary goal, being where I love to be, is something that I have influence on, something that isn't quite unimaginable as much as you would think.

Now that we've got that clear, let me explain what my head does with that information.

*insert Munch-like scream*

That's it, no really. And then it runs around like a headless chicken, bumping into all kinds of useful ideas that could help sustain me during this new adventure.

I ask you, what would a headless chicken do when it runs into a splendid idea?

Really think about it.

A bit harder.

Exactly, that's what I thought (and know, this is MY head after all). There isn't much a headless chicken can do, is there?
This head of mine ran into a few decent ideas, but rather than acting upon them, it would run right on into the next one, only to stumble on to the one after that.

The hubby goal seems to be on the move much like tectonic plates move. You need expensive and complicated instruments to measure movement, and once in a while it makes a big hoohah and upsets everything. Only when tectonic plates do it, it's not just my little bubble that gets shaken.*
So whenever this tedious work-thing finally moves into place (maybe in 2 weeks, maybe in 2 years, who knows?) we get to see what happened to the visa application. I don't even want to think about what that means.

Anyway, the Scottish thing got a strange reaction earlier this week. A Welsh girl in my book club said (and I try to quote here):

"What do you want to go to Scotland for, no one's happy there, it's miserable!"

So ehm, yeah. I'll happily stay in my tent for a few months, the thing is, I need to be able to afford that. Queue Plan 2a, 2b and 2c. As I haven't assigned them yet, I've been working on one of them this weekend. The secret knitting got sent of to its little recipient, after I figured out what I did with the cast-on. A pattern has been started, Illustrator has been beaten into submission (for now), and my little baby (the knitting, not a real one, obv.) is now gone, never to return... *sob*

Something to cheer you up

Spring is here, you can tell by the blossom (not only in Japan, ha!). This happens to be our neighbours' plum tree, but tress are doing their flower thing all over the place now. Not the big tree that lived at our other neighbour's house. It got the chop last week. the light, oh the light! It burns, even though the sunscreen lotion.

As this is still Scottish Sundays until further notice, here is a picture of me, taken a few years back on Skye.

Some of you might recognize the backpack, only it's being used properly here. These days it only comes out when oodles of fibre-goodness needs to be carried around (ahem). But, this picture might help to explain the blue-green obsession I've had going in crafting these past few months.

The latest thing on the bobbins is much like that. Blue, green, and yellow for the backpack. Cunning, isn't it? I'll have to get my maps out to name this one...

*have you done your bit for Japan yet?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

WIP Wednesday, Singing Too Much

Yes! I know!

It's Thursday, yes, I am aware. I was too busy singing yesterday to be posting you crappy pictures of fluff I got last week to play with. Enjoy them anyway, while I try to figure out this Illustrator thing*

*working on a pattern, yes**
**everyone is doing it these days...***
***not really

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Scottish Sundays, and a Glorious Day of Knitting

I'll start you off with a Glorious Day of Knitting, which could also have been named "Day of Frantic Driving, Intensive Estonian Knitting and Utter Exhaustion" but that doesn't really get people to buy tickets. So they went with Brei- en Haakdag instead. This being a Dutch event an'all.

After some well placed advise and misplaced sense of direction, we reached the event with 5 minutes to spare before the course started. Our frantic re-routing by way of a 80km road didn't leave us much time to breathe, let alone stop for coffee or a bathroom break. You get the picture as we reached the venue. I should add at this point that we were not the last ones to get to class. Minor triumph, but only that.

We took the Estonian Colour and Lace Knitting Course from the Dutch Knitters. They started out by telling us that this is normally a 3-day course, crammed into 3 hours, and to be honest, it did show. At the end we were rushed to finish the Lace instructions because the next class was waiting, while at the start we were shown a large collection of books we might be interested in. I'd think they might want to turn the order of events around, as they kindly provide a list of interesting books with the written instructions. That aside, I learned a lot.

Lace practise

Since I've already made the Laminaria, Aeolean and the Echo Flowers Shawl in the past, I'd met the lace techniques that were in the course already. This came in handy when my neighbours had a question, and at least I got my knitted cast on corrected, as I knew I was doing something wrong with that. We started with the colourwork, and this is what I came for!

Estonian braids

Don't you just love the different braids? Not all of it is great looking, I got the tension and the order of the tails wrong a bit at the start, but wow, I love it! the best thing is that I caught most of it from the instructions, so I'll be able to reproduce them all.

After the class ended we went down to the fair part of our day, and spent some time oggling and coo-ing some lush yarns, but I managed to keep to my wish list and only get spinning fibres. Obviously, the Belgians had some nice things so I scored a 500gr hank of yarn that is to be dyed, and two cones of merino, one black, one magenta.
It was lovely to find some new yarns and a shop I knew of but hadn't seen before, Penelope Crafts.They stock Cascade which I love for a 'simple' yarn. Mom got a cardigan's worth of blue and matching sock yarn so she can make a set ;)

As far as the Scottish Big Plan goes, boy is it ever so hard to keep going. When the rug got pulled it didn't just take away my ooomph, but also quite a large chunk of the base I was working from. With the buffer gone, this is turning into a very different sort of game. Wrong decisions start looking attractive all of a sudden, which is to say that one should be content with what one has, and not aspire to have what one needs. I've got my job until the end of May and quite likely beyond. It feels wrong to not want to have it, but..... oh go on, I need to stop myself from moaning about it. Now, if only I could find that little bit of Oooomph back, that would be nice.

Secret Knitting

One part of the Grand Scottish Plan (it goes by many names) was to find something to do that could be exported along with me. Something to do regardless of my position on the globe. The Secret Knitting is to be sent off this week, so I better get on with writing down the pattern, the instructions, and teach myself how to do layouts etc.

Meanwhile, I'm spending quite some time rehearsing for the Queen Symphony that we'll be performing on the 28th with Harmonie Cecilia Princenhage for their jubilee. Today was the first rehearsal with orchestra, and I've decided that the director is DH's long lost older twin brother from another mother. Makes it a lot easier and pleasing to the eye to keep focus on his directions. Ha! It's not even close to what we usually sing as this is a project (with 140 singers), and I hate to say I love this so much more. Next time there's a classical project and I'm in town, I'm definitely joining in.
During breaks, I'm making lists for the other big huge plan of bringing dyeing, spinning and knitting to the not-yet-yarnies. Oh boy.

PS. I don't know what happened to last week's pictures, or which they were or I'd put them back. Ehm, sorry 'bout that.