Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day...

If you live in SE Michigan, this could be another weather post. What is the point in having an extra day in February this year if it's going to be another "Four inches of snow, followed by rain, followed by extreme drop in temperatures, chisel yourself out of the ice" kind of Friday? So in the spirit of the day, we'll just "leap" right over my complaining rant and head for the fiber.

I spent last week doing the "knitter's time travel" thing. You know how this goes. You take something that looks like this:
You then travel back in time by unraveling to make it look like this:
(This is/was AS's Fulmar which I've modified to knit from the top down and for a fitted armscye and sleeve cap. The armholes were about 2.5" too long, which defeated the whole purpose of my revisions. I knew I would never wear it like this, so it's languished in a knitting basket for 3(?!) years. I'm back up to the point of making the underarm shaping and have new enthusiasm for the project.)

Or here's another example. You start with this:

And you take it back to this:
(This was a lace cardigan from INKnitters a while back. The sweater was working up to be freakin' HUGE. The yarn will make a much better shawl.....perhaps either Pacific Northwest or Creatures of the Sea.)

You get the idea. By simply pulling a thread and winding it into a ball the knitter can go back in time and undo past mistakes, errors in judgment, and exorcise the demons which plague a stalled knitting project.

It's one of the beauties of knitting that spinning and weaving do not share. There are those who would argue that you can unspin fiber, but that's not something I care to attempt. One can go back and apply more spin or ply twist, but that's as far as I'll go.

And unweaving....anything more than an inch or two is sheer madness.

However, I'm discovering that this knitting time travel stuff is unbelievably freeing to the imagination! The simple process of setting free the stalled UFO's also seems to set free a plethora of creative ideas and energy in almost every other fiber pursuit.

There are two of my own designs on the knitting needles right now. Neither involves the liberated "time travel" yarn.

And I have been playing with a combined overshot/twill weaving draft similar to King's Puzzle:

But the new fabric would be in blue/greens and more suitable to garment fabric.

Then yesterday, the warping instructions arrived for the Taquete' workshop with Jason Collingwood, just one short month from now. Hmm...the suggested weft yarn is not like anything from my yarn stash. Well...there's is some natural cream colored yarn that would work. But I need at least 4 colors.

Not to worry! I have a stash of medium grey Masham wool top to spin which will make a lovely rug-type yarn for the class. Between the two natural colors and a dye pot, I should be able to come up with 4 new colors for the workshop.

So after months of lull, here I am with big plans for knitting, weaving and spinning.

BTW...that knitting time travel thing? It only works one way....going backward. As yet, I've found no way to leap forward from yarn to finished project without putting in the requisite time with "sticks and string". However, since it is a pleasurable activity, that's a leap I'd rather not make.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Under the weather.....

Another 4" of snow to repeat yet again the cycle of: *wet heavy snow, freezing rain, 2" of ice to chip off a 1/10 mile driveway, achieve dry pavement* repeat until winter calendar has run out.

I intentionally wrote that as knitting instructions because I've been playing around with a couple of designs. However, they are not likely to be written out but charted instead. Since Ravelry will be hosting patterns, there will be a place to post them.

Meanwhile, news reports state that this year's flu vaccine was not spot on for the strain of flu that is circulating.

I can attest to that.

I did have my flu vaccine. I have also had the aching muscles, hair that hurts, nausea, dragged through the back end of a cow feeling for the past 24 hours. No fever, though.

Perhaps the vaccine I did get provides partial coverage and this is just my "copay" or "deductible".

Gotta love today's healthcare system. I'm going back under the afghan with the cat.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Book Review:

I had the good fortune to receive an Early Reviewer's copy of The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur through my LibraryThing account (see the sidebar). By participating in the Early Reviewers program, one is encouraged to post a review of the free book. Below is my review. I hope it encourages you to read this book, or one of several others currently in circulation on this topic.

This is a brief but very powerful memoir that takes time to digest what Daoud Hari is really telling us. The title, _The Translator_ , sent me to the dictionary as I've pondered this book. To translate means: "to express the sense (of words or text) in another language.

As Daoud faced death and watched the destruction his family, village, and way of life at the hands of the Sudanese Bashir government army and the Janjaweed, he made the decision to become a translator to journalists with the hope that the rest of the world would learn of the tragedy and injustice.

Daoud was able to do this because his father honored young Daoud's urge to see the larger world and sent him off to get an education. Daoud's education consisted of: reading of classic English literature; a temptation to join Zaghawa resistance fighting, and travels across the Sahara to Libya and Egypt. His brother, Ahmed, encouraged him to use his brain and not a gun for fighting with the words, "Shooting people doesn't make you a man. Doing the right thing for who you are makes you a man."

With these skills and values, Daoud moves from translator to interpreter in writing this book. He uses the account and his understanding of his harrowing experiences to interpret for us what the genocide in Darfur means to us outside of Africa.

In this book we learn of an earlier time when nomadic Arabs and agrarian Zaghawa and other tribes had traditional ways of living side by side and settling disputes over resources. We see a despotic government, greedy for resources, impose on this way of life by turning neighbor against neighbor in violence to clear the land of it's people.

Daoud walks us through the refugee camps and graciously acknowledges the provision of the NGO's, while at the same time pointing out the inadequacies of those provisions to meet the conditions and the need. He points out the plight of women and children, faced with serial rape as the price for collecting essential firewood.

He relates the experience of arriving to visit the tattered remains of his family just before an attack which takes the life of his brother and mentor, Ahmed. And he describes suffering and death of a magnitude beyond comprehension.

The education Daoud has received enables him to succinctly outline the politics behind this tragedy for the reader. As I read this book, similar events of the twentieth century haunted me: the Armenian Genocide, the WWII Holocaust; the Balkans, Rawanda....and now Darfur. All cases where diverse communities lived side my side in a degree of harmony with the blessings of a rich culture until despotic governments incited death and destruction for the material gain of the few in power.

Daoud closes this book with a subtle challenge to the reader:: "For it has no meaning to take risks for news stories unless the people who read them will act."

It is an echo of Edmund Burke's famous quotation: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
How can we not act?

Saturday, February 16, 2008


And they fit......

Like a glove!

Completed and washed last night, they were dry this morning. This allowed me to run off to the Fleece Fair early this morning: My just rewards for meeting the self imposed deadline.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Move along, move along...

Nothing here to look at. I'm working on my gloves and alternately reading and listening it podcasts. But if you're a weaver you might want to mozey on over to this and enjoy something new and exciting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Darned Gloves!

We've had some cold weather this past week and I noticed that the first two fingers on my right hand were especially cold. Well, here's why:

These gloves were handknit with Koigu PPM about 4 years ago. I love handknit gloves. My hands are very long, especially from the wrist to the base of my fingers. Commercial gloves rarely fit me properly: if they fit in the hand then then the fingers are too long. Of course I could resort to those cheap, stretchy gloves on the display trees by the checkout counter of the discount stores.
  • They're synthetic and not very warm.
  • What would be the fun in that?

These gloves, along with a pair knit from Trekking sock yarn about 10 years ago, have been my staple for hand warmth over the past several seasons.

Earlier in the season the Trekking gloves totally gave up the ghost. All the fingers were worn through and there's no left over yarn to repair them. Now the Koigu ones too?...oh no!

Fortunately there is plenty of yarn left over in my stash, so I sat down last night and repaired them:

Wow...look at the difference between the 'used gloves' and the 'new yarn'. I basically just duplicate stitched over the worn threads since the fingers weren't worn through completely.

However it is very evident that new gloves are needed. I was tempted to make a special run to the yarn store for more Koigu. But since we were in the middle of yet another snow storm/travel advisory yesterday afternoon, I decided to shop in my stash instead.

I found some of my handspun Romney left over from the cool tones fair isle sweater I did a few years ago. The wool was from Kirsten Holbo at Iron Water Ranch. The yarn was spun semiworsted from mini-combed locks. The last issue of Spin Off magazine was still sitting beside my knitting chair, so I just cast on for the glove pattern in that issue. I think I'm in love!!

There's still some natural white and some charcoal brown/black Romney left over from that sweater. I'm thinking maybe I'll knit a whole new wardrobe of gloves for next season!!

Saturday is the Spinner's Flock winter sale. I've been debating on whether to head over there as a treat to myself. There is absolutely no need for stash enhancement here in Fiberewetopia. But I'm thinking if the first pair of gloves are finished by Saturday, they'll deserve a little outing. What d'ya think? Is that a good incentive?

PS. Thanks for all your supportive comments on my last couple of posts. That last one almost felt like a WW meeting! (oh my!!)
Some new (to my knowledge) visitors posted on the Ice Queen etc. I'm never sure of the best way to respond when there's no email address.
I do love to visit your blogs...but a response there to your response here seems disjointed. So here's my response: Welcome! And thanks for the comments!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Groundhog lied.....

The local groundhog in Howell, Michigan did not immediately return to his den 8 days ago, thereby forecasting the rapid arrival of spring. Bet that little sucker is in his den right now! The wind is howling and the temperature is plummeting. It's currently at 4 degrees F., not accounting for windchill.

Meanwhile I decided to cut myself some slack in the Proper Noun losing episode this week. I had several other social engagements later in the week and not a single proper noun was lost or misplaced. I attribute Tuesday's fiasco to having chaired a meeting at church the night before (until 10 PM), and facilitated a discussion group with 15 women earlier Tuesday morning. I was "peopled and pronouned out" by the time the lunch date rolled around.

2008, the year so far.....

It seems I keep learning the same lessons over and over again. Hopefully the repeat lessons take the learning to a deeper level. However it can be difficult to achieve depth with such density sometimes!

Almost 6 weeks into this year, it seems this year will be all about progress through small steps. It's been happening on a variety of levels:

  • Lifestyle choices:
  1. I've been doing WW online and am again reminded that healthy eating occurs one bite at a time and one choice at a time. So far I've shed 12 lbs. and haven't had a single hunger pang. However, I have had some delicious meals with savory new recipes.
  2. Also in the Lifestyle department has been showing up for yoga and cardio when I have a few minutes. Prior to flipping the calendar I was skipping exercise more often than I'd like because I didn't have a whole hour. Well, even 20 minutes here and there makes a difference, I am learning once again.
  • Fiber: Again, the small steps.
  1. Knitting: I've surveyed my works in progress and put on hold those things that just don't make sense for me right now. It's silly to work on fitted garments when the body is in flux. So shawls, socks, gloves, and scarves it will be for the personal knitting over the next few months. And those things work well for charity knitting too, so all else will be on hold for awhile.
  2. Weaving: Again, waiting for an afternoon or even an hour of weaving time to become available meant that no weaving was happening. So I've taken a cue from Bonnie and have begun spending "stolen moments" at the loom. What do you know?! Progress can be made in 15-20 minute segments through out the day!
  3. Spinning: I've spun a little bit. But there's not so much happening there yet.
  • Clearing the decks: I've put into motion the necessary steps to move out of some volunteer leadership positions that have eaten up a lot of my time and energy. By the time June rolls around, I will be off to "greener pastures".
  • As a celebration of that, I've taken some other steps to indulge in a real fiber treat about that time. Well...actually the treat is courtesy of the dh. I won't know for a few weeks if those plans will actually come to fruition. Keep a good thought for me on that front, it's out of my hands.
Probably the only downside to my habits this year has been the acquisition of reading materials at a pace much faster than I can read. There's aa wonderful stack of books piled up here. I know that I'll get through them just like all the other stuff: one step at a time.

Life is good.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Losing my nouns....

It's been a disturbing day.

Lunch with friends: two I've known for years, one I've known for just a couple of years. Conversation took a turn toward our "Bucket Lists". Haven't seen the movie, but I do have a bit of a list (if only I can remember what's on it!)

As the conversation progressed I began losing nouns, particularly proper nouns. Now that makes a person a particularly annoying lunch companion:

me: "You know where I've always wanted to go?'

Deb: "Where?"

me: "Just give me a minute and I'll think of the name."

Deb: "What about you, Laura, what's your dream trip?"

Laura: "Today it would be someplace sunny and warm: Fiji, Bali. Anything to get out of these gray Michigan days."

Me: "It's that place where they set off for base camp when they climb Everest. Give me a minute the name will come to me." (every one looks at me out of the corner of their eye....but are gracious enough to not roll their eyes.)

Kim: "I like to visit cities and take in the museums and culture. It's always a treat to visit our son in Manhattan."

Me: "Nepal! That's it! I've always thought it would be neat to go to Nepal and be there when all the climbing expeditions were getting ready to head out for the spring climbing season."

All eyes turn to me in blank stares, nod their heads, then politely return to their soup.

Soup, I didn't order soup. Maybe that was the problem!!

All I know is that in the space of a one hour lunch date with friends I lost:
  • the name of at least 2 travel locations.
  • the title of 2 books;
  • and the last name of Deb, whom I've known since she was pregnant with her 17 year old daughter.
At least I smart enough to keep quiet on the last was just a thought that flitted through my head for a moment before it came to me. Of course her maiden name was right there on the tip of my tongue...go figure.

Losing proper nouns is a problem. There are no substitutes. If I want to go to Pittsburgh and I can't think of the name, I may well be shipped off to Petersburg, which wouldn't be such a bad thing in the first week of February. Nevertheless it is not the intended destination.

Loss of common nouns, not such a problem. We have words for those lost common nouns: whatchamacallit, thingamajig, doohickey, doodad, thingamabob, gismo..... The conversation can continue and may even be a bit entertaining with the noun euphemisms. But lose your proper nouns and no one knows who or what the h*ll you're talking about.

So let me tell you about the early readers' selection that I snagged from Library Thing (you can get there from my sidebar). It's title is: _The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur_. The author is Daoud Hari. It's a narrative account of attacks of Sudanese militia groups on the tribal people of Darfur. The book arrived today.

Now, looky there....just look at all those proper nouns in the above paragraph. I didn't lose a one.

I'm really looking forward to reading this book.

If only I can remember where I put it.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Coronation of the Ice Queen:

There are a lot of these on the web right now. I've been wondering how others blocked theirs and wracked my brain for the best way to get the shape imparted by the pattern.

This is how I blocked Ice Queen. The blocking form is a small trash can, padded with an old bath towel and supported on a pillow.

Long before it even got to the blocking stage, the men in my household called it a "fire hydrant cozy". This photo doesn't do much to improve on that perception.

This is one way to wear her:

But I think I prefer this more asymmetrical drape:

If I were to make this pattern again, I would probably stick with the suggested yarn of Kidsilk Haze. I used Filatura Di Crosa Superior, a silk and cashmere yarn which is soft and fuzzy....almost too soft and fuzzy to show any pattern. However it is very comfortable against the skin and quite cozy!