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Aug. 25th, 2014

Progress!

Wow, there were a lot of threading errors on this project. This is the widest project I've ever put on the loom, and a new draft (pattern), so I guess I was asking for it. I am glad that I can keep my cool and just fix things as I find them instead of getting all worked up over it. It looks like I've done very little:

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Until you see what's hiding underneath:

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I've rigged up all kinds of things to help me keep track of the pattern. The other non-plain pattern I made had about 8 steps which were repeated throughout, but this one combines pattern changes with thread color changes, so I just have to go through them one by one.

On Saturday, Aiden came over to do some yard work, and was injured while using the weedwhacker. A small rock hit him in the eye. No, he was not wearing safety glasses. I grabbed a book and some knitting and took him to the ER. (David was out of town at a fighter practice.) The ER doctor was great, and we were there about 4.5 hours, which is an express visit by their standards. Aiden was lucky - he has corneal scratches and a small cut, which should heal up in a few days. If the rock had punctured his eye, he'd have lost some vision at least. Wear your safety glasses, kids.

Sunday, I did all that weaving, and what a lovely contrast to the previous day. I also met a friend over at the frozen yogurt place and ate way too much yogurt and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Aug. 22nd, 2014

weaving continues, in a manner of speaking

Good golly, that loom is a mess. As I started to weave, I found and fixed all kinds of threading errors, but the shed isn't opening correctly. I think I've hung the heddles too high, so I'm working on lowering them. (Plus, I've found another threading error. Damn.) I try to look at it as a puzzle.

Last week I went to visit family in New York - my dad in Cobleskill, and my aunts, cousin, and a brother in Syracuse. It was so nice to see everyone, and the weather was great. On the way back, I saw a couple of old friends in DC, too. I got back early and spent the remainder of the vacation getting stuff done around the house. It was great.

I'm currently listening to a teleconference on mental health treatment issues and having a good laugh (on mute). They're discussing a patient who "wants to stay out of jail and use drugs and alcohol." Well, yeah. Who wouldn't? The poor person working with this schmuck does not understand why he's like this, and she is PISSED. It's hard on the person trying to help, because it seems like their client is just determined to suffer. They don't understand the compulsion, and they never will. It's rough.

David has decided to hire a landscaper to replace the boxwoods in the front yard with holly bushes. The crew came and pulled the boxwoods out on Monday, piled them on the curb yesterday, and they're planning to put in the hollies today. The front of the house looks a lot lighter without those overgrown boxwoods. David wants hollies because he believes it discourages people from breaking in the windows. (The fact that our back door is glass doesn't seem to faze him.) I've never met anyone so preoccupied with break-ins. I told him if he wants to protect the windows, we ought to put in prickly-pear cactus and agaves, but that's too out there even for him. Spanish bayonet plants would do it, by golly. Heh.

Dolly continues to forge ahead. I took her to the vet for annual vaccinations and a nail trim, and she's lost about 5 pounds. That will help her hips a bit. I really thought we would lose her last fall, but now I think we'll have her for another six months at least. She's doing pretty well, considering. Jake continues to be a delight, and a pain in the ass. We are both crazy about him.

I have a strong desire to have another cat or small dog. So far, I've been able to resist, but I might be overcome at any moment. If I am, there will be photos!

Aug. 4th, 2014

weaving again (almost)

I ordered a weaving kit for baby blankets, so I wound the warp and got it sleyed, threaded and tied on. I have not yet wound the warp on.

Sleying is threading the warp through the reed in the front of the loom (the smaller rectangle in front):

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The reed is the part I push against the weft (horizontal) threads to push them into place.

Threading refers to threading the warp through the heddles (wires hanging in frames int he middle of the loom):

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The heddles are the way that the threads are distributed into patterns, even if it's just plainweave.

Jake likes to help:

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This past Saturday, I taught the aqua bike class and then the aqua aerobics class, from 8:30 to 10:15 am. I left there and went to the commissary, and finally had lunch around 1 pm. I don't mind teaching aqua aerobics, but I could live without the damn bike class. We use a stationary bike in the water and there is zero momentum. When you stop pushing, the pedal stops moving, so you're pedaling the entire class time without a break. Argh. My hips and legs are not happy with me.

I also took Jake for a walk Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, just to keep him from self-destructing. That poor dog does not get enough exercise. The dog walker came this morning. It's only twice a week, but it's helpful.

Exciting news: I'm taking a vacation, starting Thursday, and driving up to New York to see family. I can't wait! I'll also stop and see friends on the way back. Maybe when I'm back home again I will get started weaving that project.

Jul. 17th, 2014

ow dammit

Man, did I hurt my back Tuesday. I might have overdone it at the gym on Monday, and then really strained it on Tuesday, helping Dolly up the front steps. She has dreadful arthritis in her back hips, and has a lot of trouble with steps, so we pick up her rear end and carry that part up the steps while she walks her front end up. The lifting isn't so bad - it's the lifting and moving forward up the steps that gets tricky. I try to lift with my legs, but clearly failed in that case.

I was uncomfortable driving to and from the guild meeting (an hour each way) Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning I could barely walk. I did my stretches (gingerly) and went to work, and though I had to be really careful, it was better as the day wore on. I'm still tender today, and once again carefully and thoroughly stretched my lower back and hips. I had some Mobic left over from having plantar fasciitis, so I've been taking that. (It's an NSAID like Celebrex, not something you'd want to take all the time.)

Those who have known me for a while know that I am really paranoid about hurting my back. I have seen quite a few people lose their sobriety to medication for back pain. It's time to get a harness for the dog, to make that stair lifting less dangerous. My aunt Dorsey told me to get one a year ago and I procrastinated, but she was right. David doesn't have any trouble with it, but I do most of the dog lifting around here, so I need help.

I checked the schedule at my gym, and they have a Pilates class on Thursday mornings at 6 am (ugh). I'm in no condition to try it today, but I really need to improve my core strength. One of these days, Jake is going to be old and unable to get up the steps, too. (And he'll have a harness!)

Jul. 14th, 2014

another weekend report

This past weekend was the NC State Convention for Alcoholics Anonymous, up in Raleigh. I'd registered for it in advance, and went to Durham and stayed with my folks for the occasion. I went to four AA speaker meetings, and an AlAnon speaker meeting, going back to my folks' house in between. It was a good weekend, and I saw some folks I hadn't seen in a while, from my old home group in Chapel Hill. Naturally, I have no photos of any of that.

I started winding my warp for a baby blanket project. One of my (many) cousins is going to have another baby, and I thought I'd try weaving one instead of my usual practice of crocheting them. This grand-cousin* is not due until December, so I have some wiggle room.

Speaking of grand-cousins, I made something for William's baby boy (due next month):

Hat

That's a crocheted blanket and a knit hat. Baby hats knit up fast.

This week, I have a lot of prep work to get ready for some vacation time. One of our directors has been busy scheduling classes during my days off, but those are all off-site classes. I can print out the paperwork ahead of time, and that's my plan for this week. The only thing that's keeping me from doing it today is that my computer won't talk to the color printer today for some reason. I have plenty of time.

*I made that word up and I don't care. "First cousin once removed" is a clunky name for an infant.

Jul. 7th, 2014

Hot weekend. No, really.

Welcome to July. I took Jake out for an hour on Friday, and we were both wiped out from that.

photo 1.JPG
A tired dog is a good dog.

That afternoon, I went to the garden center and got some things for a new garden bed I'm making in the back yard. Last week, I went online looking for jewelweed and fell down the wildflower rabbit hole, and ended up buying a LOT of seeds for various things. So I got some landscaping timbers, some fencing (to keep Jake out), and some dirt. By the time I got those in the car and got home, I was dripping wet. Man, summer.

On Saturday, I taught the aqua bike and the aqua aerobics classes for another teacher who asked me to sub. I went to the commissary and ran some other errands. Not surprisingly, I had to have a nap.

Yesterday, I tackled the garden tasks. I planted a few things I'd gotten, and turned over some of the soil where I'm putting in this garden bed. After I've been in direct sun for 30 minutes, I'm so tired and sweaty that I can barely lift a shovel or a bag of dirt. I got about a third of it done, and the rest can wait. The plants that needed to be in the ground are in the ground. After I recovered, I took Jake to the dog park, and he was ready to go after 30 minutes. It's just brutal outside.

The tomatoes are producing in droves. The squash I planted are not: I have lots of flowers and no squash. I have a squash-like volunteer in the tomato bed, but I don't know what it is. It's not hurting anyone so far, so I'm leaving it alone.

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squash

photo 3.JPG
not squash

Jun. 20th, 2014

Friday, o frabjous day!

Friday is here! It's hot as a frigging sauna outside, interrupted with thunderstorms. The storms do nothing to reduce the humidity: they only make it worse. (This is the price we pay for mild winters.) That's okay, at least I work indoors. If it weren't for air conditioning, I guess I'd have to live in Canada.

I have some manuals to put together this afternoon, otherwise I'll be reviewing invoices, as the end of the fiscal year is upon us. Editorial remarks deleted, because I'm lucky to have a job in this crap economy. A good friend of mine has been looking for work for ages, and stays afloat barely by doing odd jobs (including walking Jake). She ran out of gas yesterday and the cops came to help push her off the roadway, then took her car's license plate because her insurance had lapsed. Her phone's been turned off, as well. Awesome. It reminds me that a lot of folks live right at the edge, and the smallest thing just cascades. I may be bored, but I'm able to pay my bills.

Tomorrow, I'm going with David a couple of hours north so he can got to a big War Practice for the SCA. I will take knitting, reading, and binoculars, and find myself something do once I get there. Hey, there might be a yarn shop in the area, who knows? The main reason I'm going is so that I can drive home afterwards, because he'll be exhausted. We'll get to spend some time together driving up and back, too. We rarely do anything together anymore - he's working all the time, and even if he wants to do whatever I'm doing, he feels like he can't take the time off. That Protestant work ethic is very demanding.

I considered applying for a part-time job opening up here at work, but decided against it. I'd lose my benefits, including our dental insurance. It would also halve my income, which isn't a huge amount, but I do like having it!

In weaving news, I've ordered a baby blanket kit, because one of my cousins is having another baby. I'm not sure when she's due, but I saw a photo of her yesterday and she looks about 6 months gone, so I'm on a deadline. The kit is for two blankets, so I'll even have a spare. Heh. Anyway, I usually crochet or knit for these occasions, so I'm excited to have another way to create things. Weaving's only tedious in the set-up - after that, it's really fast. (I am SO SICK of crocheting baby blankets, ugh.)

In my generation of the family, I'm part of the oldest group. My Uncle Bill's kids are about 15 years younger than me. My cousins from my stepfather's family are even younger. They've been having babies over the past ten years, and I've greeted each with a blankie. I expect I'll need to make more blankets, hats, and booties at some point. I'm just grateful that I'm not close enough to my Kirchner cousins to be on the baby shower circuit. There are a pile of them!

Jun. 12th, 2014

not much excitement around here

So my weeks have been work and meetings, and my weekends are mostly yard work. (My kid's supposed to do that, but he's not speaking to his dad right now. Editorial remarks redacted.)

I did go to an AA function up in Raleigh a couple of weeks ago. I have finally, 25 years after the last time, gotten a service position above the group level. That is, I represent my group at the district level. In AA, all the authority rests with the groups. When decisions need to be made or votes taken, the group rep asks the group, and takes that decision back to the larger district or area, and votes the group conscience. (Ideally.)

I did service work in the local Intergroup in the DC area years ago and detested it. I was much too impatient and judgmental to do committee work. I'm not much better today, but apparently, I can listen to others peacefully, despite my judgmental feelings about whatever. Anyway, I went to the Assembly, voted, and survived. (Knitting really helps.)

Things at work are tight - the financials this year have been bad. I doubt my job's in danger, but two other people whose positions were based on fulfilling a state contract are leaving, now that the state backed out of the contract. (Way to vote Republican, you guys.)

David and I have discussed my leaving here and helping him out in his work. That is not a good idea: we shouldn't spend that much time together and our work habits are completely different. This is a good work environment, even though I am bored witless, and I get pretty good benefits. This year, I doubled my 401K contribution from 10% to 20% of my gross salary. It's not a huge amount, but I'm so glad I am able to do that. Most of my life, I've felt pressed for money, and I don't today. That's priceless, right there. So I will stay here and plug away, and do some admin stuff for David in my downtime, and preserve my sanity and my marriage work on my weaving. Ahem.

May. 23rd, 2014

whirlwind

Last Thursday, Mom and I flew to Boston. We drove to Hartford, CT, to see my cousin William, his wife Nikki, and their daughter Mitzi, who is as cute as pie. We stayed the night and when he mom went to wake her up in the morning, she said, "Where's Aunt Kate?" Good girl, Mitzi. We went further west in CT to see another cousin, Lisa, and had a lovely visit. We were headed to southwestern New Hampshire, to a knitting weekend thing, and we finally got there around five on Friday.

On Saturday, we went to Harrisville Designs. They've been in business since 1830 or so, and have weathered many ups and downs. I have an HD loom. Mostly, they spin yarn, and teach crafts these days. Harrisville is a mill town - Mr. Harris built his mill on the river, then built his home nearby, his kids built their houses, and they had to build some boarding house to house the mill workers. They eventually built another mill building, three retention ponds for water control, and now the spinning mill has been re-built about 5 miles away.

This is the second mill building. The water doesn't go to the building, the horizontal line you see is the damn in front of it.

Harrisville

The wool carding set up is about 100 feet long, and goes from larger to finer combs as it goes along. What goes in is chunks of dyed wool:

Harrisville

And what comes out is 2 mm thick roving (unspun wool):

Harrisville

Then the roving spool is taken to the spinning machines. This was a bank of machines about 50 feet long, one on either side of an aisle.

Harrisville

Harrisville

As the wool goes through the machine, twist is added with both the rotating spool and the little wire traveller on the rim of the spool socket, which whips around to wind the yarn onto the spool.

Harrisville

And finally, here is the man himself, telling us how it's all done.

Harrisville

This fellow is the mill owner, Chip. His family bought the mill and other buildings from Mr. Harris after the Civil War and have run it ever since. The mill closed in the seventies when fashion went crazy for doubleknit, and woven fabric couldn't be given away. Chip has managed by hook or by crook to get the business back on its feet, and his son Nick is working there too, getting his training to take over. Chip's views on business management, the history of Harrisville and Harrisville Designs, the relative value of tourism, and his deep and abiding love for his little New Hampshire town were quite inspiring. I bought 13 skeins of yarn after the talk. I have zero need for more yarn, not that it matters, but I want to support this effort. I might have to take a class up there this summer.




On Sunday, I got up with the chickens and drove to the airport to go to Chicago, to see my darling stepdaughter graduate from high school. David was already there, and we went to the graduation ceremony at the Sears Arena. Finding your kid in a crowd is pretty easy when her hair is contruction cone orange.

Grad 2014

Hurray!

Grad 2014

The child and her besties.

Grad 2014

She certainly is a beauty. I harassed her mercilessly talked to her about going to college while I was there. She's planning to get trained as a massage therapist. I said she could go to community college for two years, get an AA degree in business, and that would help her run her practice. Failing that, I might kidnap her and make her go to school at gunpoint. (Hi, Aunt Jean. The apple didn't fall far from the tree, did it?)

May. 14th, 2014

travelling weekend

So tomorrow, Mom and I are going to New England to see some family and attend a knitting weekend event in New Hampshire. It's a very swanky thing, Friday to Monday. However, I must leave on Sunday and fly to Chicago, because my daughter Sammi is graduating from high school. David's going to fly to Chicago tomorrow and do some recruiting work and visit Sammi. He comes home on Monday, and I'll fly back to Boston and see more family, then Mom and I will fly home on Tuesday. Zoom! I don't mind flying but I detest airports. I'll need to practice my loving kindness meditations while going through security.

Summer has arrived with a dull thud. Hot and humid is here to stay. Oof. I set up a drip hose to irrigate my raised bed garden this summer, and I'm hoping that will do the job. So far, so good - the tomatoes already have flowers. Mmm, tomatoes. I also got two squash plants at the big box store yesterday for the other raised bed. I hope squash does better this year - last year, the zucchini got some kind of rot. I'm hoping the drip irrigation helps with that.

I took the afternoon off yesterday. When my boss denied my request to work 32 hours per week instead of 40, on grounds of budget & office politics, he told me I could take whatever personal time I need. I'm going to do just that. When David was in Civil Affairs, they used to say "if you don't have anything to do, don't do it here!" Anyway, I have plenty to do at home to get ready for the trip, so I bailed. I'll work the whole day today, though, since I have some preparations to make before being out of the office.

Last night, David got an idea for a new sword display.

scottish swords

Careful with the light switches in my house, y'all.

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