Friday, May 17, 2013

What comes first? The project or the project bag?

Look, I'm blogging again LOL

Today was my first day of planned unemployment. I'm starting my new job next week but I'm enjoying the few days off.

The yarn I ordered for my Dad's sweater arrived yesterday but when I saw it....  Not what I thought. It looked more orange but in real life it was more brown. The one thing my dad asked was that the yarn wasn't brown or gray. So, I called Webs and ordered his other choice and will return the other yarn tomorrow.

Starting the project is exciting but learning to make the project bag that I will use to carry the WIP will be just as fun. Today was the trip to the fabric store to pick a pattern, then the fabric and notions.
 The aubergine linen rayon fabric on the top is going to be the outside of the bag. The pop of color is polyester taffeta for the lining and the black linen blend is the contrasting color to masculine up the bag just a skosh. 
 The pattern I chose was the one on the right with a minor mod to change the pocket flaps. It's hard to make a bag that won't look too much like a man purse but I'll try. 

Life is Good

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fun Fiber and Imports from Sweden

Hi everyone, lots going on lately.

Lets start with I'm starting a new job soon. Same industry just a better company and they have a benefit package. The biggest difference is that I'll be driving a day cab and be home each night instead of the sleeper cab and being on the road for a couple days at a time.

School is going well, in fact I have 5 classes until the degree is finished. Trucking and online schooling sounds OK but you need a much higher level of commitment to stay on top of your work and work when you can. During the interview for my new job the hiring manager was impressed and when I said I was going to continue and get my Masters. He said that he would like to make room for me on his staff when I'm ready to find suitable work that applied to my degree.

I'm loving my wheel and wish I had more time to spin but I will make time. Last week when I was off for a few days I managed to photograph some of the recent fiber acquisitions. The few highlights are 7 ounces of processed Paco-Vicuna

 and a fleece from another Paco-Vicuna.

 The other big acquisition is one pound of Qiviut.

Other notables are camel, polwarth, rambouillet-yak blend, three colors of yak, CVM corri blend, and a 30 pound bump of Rambouillet. here is a link to enjoy more.

Next on the mental list is I'm in the planning stages of making my Dad a sweater. What sweater you ask? The Textured Argyle. 

  I ordered Cascade 220 superwash from Webbs who has the yarn on sale through the end of the month. I sent my Dad an email with a link to Webb's and let him chose the color he wanted. He chose colorway Ginger but that looked brown in person so we went with Christmas red heather.

 This leads me to the next thing. Last month on Craigslist I found a Husqvarna. If this were the mid 70's I would have been coveting this.
The Husqvarna motorcycle. Popularized by many of the top European riders of the day and Malcom Smith. You may ask who is Malcom Smith? In 1971 the movie "On Any Sunday" featuring Mert Lawwill, Malcom Smith and Steve McQueen. Mert was a short track racer for Harley Davidson, Malcom was a legend in the motorcycle community and yes the real Steve McQueen was featured in the movie.

Mr Newman was a real stud in the day. He was shown on the cover of Sports Illustrated shirtless.

Malcom Smith opened a Motorcycle dealership in Riverside California that is like a museum for motorcycle fans like myself. He has a few of his bikes that he won certain races on display in amazing condition. I know by this time I've lost most of the knitters but for those of you who are still here there is a payoff.

I wish I had the money to buy a Husqvarna motorcycle but I was talking sewing machines. Why buy a sewing machine you ask? I want to sew and design but having a basic machine to learn on was first. The first project is to make a project bag for my Dad's sweater. 

It's a Romeo model, not top end but in great condition. Craigslist is wonderful when you look hard for the gems. Made in Sweden, now residing in Iowa. Now I get to find some "fun" fabric for the sweater project bag.

Life is Good

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A few weeks ago we took a ride to a yarn shop to look at spinning wheels, fiber and so much fiber goodness. The shop is called The Fold in Marengo IL. It was so much fun looking through the fiber. She has all the typical fibers and lots of exotics too. We picked up a couple pounds of goodness but there was a wheel that spoke to me when I was looking through the shop. Flash forward a few weeks and we went back to take a test spin on said wheel. Oh my is was so smooth and effortless to spin. What wheel you ask? Drum roll ............

It's a Schacht Reeves 30" Saxony in cherry. The name Celine comes to mind when I spin on her so that is what I will call her from now on.
I know I have talked a lot about an accelerated wheel but I don't see waiting for a custom wheel and this has the capability with a super high speed whorl of 38.5 to 1 spinning ratios. I think that's fast enough.
She is beautiful like fine furniture with the rich cherry wood and oiled finish. Sitting in the living room like she belongs there instead of feeling like it should be put away if company comes over.
I am learning about double drive after the Scotch tension on my other wheel and the ease to spin short staple fiber like Yak. The fiber on the bobbin is some two tone bfl that I used at the shop during the test spin.

The yak will become a caplet or shawl once I get more comfortable with the short fibers on this wheel. It spins up so soft and with more spring than I expected.

On the work front... I think I survived my first winter driving commercially. The temps are rising and the chance of snow while still exist is not expected. On Friday the temps in Memphis were in the high 70's. Here in Iowa it's not freezing overnight anymore and the dayime temps are in the mild mid 50's. It was so nice I took Wendy Jo ( the motorcycle ) to the bank today. Yes the drive through at the bank is open on Sunday here. It felt good to ride again.

I'll get into some of the fiber I bought lately and what I'm knitting in the next post. The stash is more diverse though. Polworth and yak, and others have found there way into my possession.

Life Is Good

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are you a docent?

Docent as defined by Merriam-Webster
noun \ˈdō-sənt, dō(t)-ˈsent\
: a college or university teacher or lecturer
: a person who leads guided tours especially through a museum or art gallery 
Origin of DOCENT
obsolete German (now Dozent), from Latin docent-, docens, present participle of docēre
First Known Use: 1880
I see these definitions as inadequate though...  Let me digress and when we finish maybe you will see why I feel this way.
The word docent seemed foreign to me until the mid eighties when I was taking an art appreciation class at Orange Coast College. I was making an attempt then to get my associates degree and maybe transfer to one of the Cal State Universities but I'm digressing too far. This class was eye opening to me because the teacher had a passion for the subject he taught. Past teachers had some of the drive but this teacher/professor just glowed when he talked about art. He arranged excursions to his home and three other homes of his fellow art enthusiasts for lectures on the art they had in their own home. The class is held in a huge amphitheater with more than 200 students so the at home visits were by sign up on a clip board that passed around the hall. I was able to attend two home lectures. 
The first was at a small condo in Orange where she offered wine, cheese and nice finger foods. She had a well decorated home with hundreds of little objects everywhere. The art she brought out to pass around was mostly pre-Columbian. She spoke of the art like her children. She knew everything about each piece. The students who were there with me asked questions about the origin, use, age etc. Next was the teacher's home in Huntington Beach. He lived in a suburban tract home but he had a stainless steel sculpture in his yard atop a pedestal, not what you would expect to see in a casual surf locale. His home was a mixture of art museum and the residence of the original Addams family TV show home. When you cross the threshold you couldn't miss the African burial canoe suspended over the entry way. Everywhere you looked there were fertility gods and figurines. Masks and artwork adorned the home but he actually handed us pre-Columbian art to hold in our hands and admire. OK enough back ground minutia. This professor was a fanatic about what he loved. So the part about this that refers to the docent you ask? We had one last required field trip to the Getty museum in the hills above Malibu. This is now referred to as the Getty Villa because they built a new museum in the Sepulveda  pass. What I was getting to was we eventually made it to the museum where we met the docent who was supposed to enhance the visit by giving the class a deeper explanation to the art we were supposed to see. As we walked into the side entrance we paused to hear the docent's description and when he was finished the teacher waxed poetically about  the purpose of the room in such detail the docent just listened and said he never knew any of the details the teacher was sharing. This went on throughout the tour. At each point the docent spoke and then he looked to the teacher to add what he knew. 
Sometimes the docent is the one who just need to listen to learn. When we stop learning, our life grows stagnant.  I see the docent as one who gives to others so they may grow. I have had many docents in my life. Many give without any restraint. You fiber docents out there who have given to me as a way to keep the fiber arts growing. Lori and Janel have given to me the love of spinning. I have given freely in your honor to any and all who want to learn. 
Recently I've had the chance to give and receive, I'm a knitter who understands the stitches and most of the techniques but the series of techniques needed to make the project often intimedates me when it shouldn't. I have trouble interpeting patterns that are not written in the way I think. One pattern that fits this is the Baby surprise jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I've had the good fortune that I met someone who knits like the wind and understands these patterns that befuddle me. Susan says I just over think what I'm doing. She offered to do a knit-a-long with me on the BSJ and so far so good. Last week she asked me to teach her how to spin so now I get to repay her and pass along the craft. Today was our first lesson and she just took to it like a natural. This isn't our first attempt at spinning. about a year ago we tried this and she wasn't really wanting to learn yet but now she really wanted to learn.  Watching her was so inspiring today. Sometimes when you are the docent, you learn a lot about yourself if you are willing to listen. Try to surround yourself with people that are passionate about what they love and share your passion with others. Be a docent or be a student, don't just be...
At this point I want to thank a few other life docents who have change or inspired my life. 
Celine for inspiring me to be true to myself no matter what.
Athena for letting me give to you what nobody ever has. 
Rex for giving me the strength think out of the box.
Terry for encouraging me when you knew I needed it. 
So many have given to me and you never realized the impact you had on my life. Be a life docent when you can.  

Life is Good

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nuns who wear wedding bands

I haven't talked much about my schedule but I drive two runs to Memphis each week that takes me away from home on average about 35 to 40 hours. If I leave at midnight Wednesday and get home anywhere between 8 AM to 3PM on Friday. The company has 3 drivers, one of us leaves each night except Sunday nights. The schedule rotates so one week I'm off Mondays and some weeks I'm off Tuesdays and so on. One of the benefits of this company is that after 6 runs you get "5 days off." When you say 5 days off in the trucking industry that means that you have some part of 5 calendar days off. Typically I get home for this 5 days off mid-day Saturday and I have to return to the shop to leave around 11 PM the following Wednesday. This makes attending knit nights sporadic at best. That being said, I was off tonight and Susan and I went to the local library that has a weekly knit group. What a nice group of ladies. Most of them are beginners with a couple experienced ladies who are teaching first timers most of the times we attended. We have a Sister, Nun or whatever the pc term they are called now who attends. I noticed that she had a wedding band on and on the ride home Susan told me that the Nuns here wear a wedding ring because they gave their life to God. Learned something new today.

The temp here is in the single digits so everyone was bundled up at the knit night. I wore my hat that was sent to me in the last hand-spun swap. Seeing all the hand knit scarves and hats is fun because you don't see them as much in the warmer climates. 

If you were wondering what I was knitting on at the knit group? I'm knitting on the Baby Surprise Jacket and doing the color changes. I know that most of the seasoned knitters would be ripping through this project but for some reason the pattern and I don't get along very well. I'm not giving up and with the little two person knit-a-long that Susan and I are doing is making it way easier and motivating me to press on. 

I wanted to share something else with all my (handful of faithful and much appreciated ) readers. I found this mug at TJ Max for $3.99 that just spoke to me. The tag line at the end of my posts is Life is Good but this said "all is good". The cheery yellow inside, positive words and the huge scale just made me feel good.

School is going ok right now. I'm taking a English literature class and this is the last English course of my educational career. I had to analyze a short story and after hearing the back story of the original French version of "Little Red Ridding Hood"it made me really look at the story differently.  The long drive time to listen to the text book for this class really helps with all the required reading. Two weeks down and three to go, the hardest part is writing the weekly term paper due each Monday.

Life is Good