Thursday, 23 August 2012

Lost My Voice

I thought I was recovering from this cold and then wham.  Out of the blue today, about an hour before the end of my shift at work, my voice started dying on me.  I could feel it going.  The sudden hoarseness.  The need to clear my throat before addressing a new customer.  The drop in pitch to a low, rather sultry, cabaret-singer sort of voice.  That bit's quite fun while it lasts, but unfortunately it never lingers more than a couple of hours.

Now I can't talk at all.  Barely a rasp when I tried to greet the cat.  I could verily be the "speak no evil" monkey because I cannot, in fact, speak at all.  So I shall drink lemon and honey tea and push liquids and not even try to talk at all and hope my voice will return to me before the choir callback auditions which are happening on Sunday afternoon.  (And that maybe they will let me clean theatres tomorrow at work instead of trying to work concessions with a non-existent voice.)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Fudge Factor

I'm reading through the delightful and useful book Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti, and came upon this section, which made me giggle:

Definition of the Fudge Factor: I will stop eating fudge and will have lost ten or fifteen pounds by the time this sweater is finished.  Therefore, I can make it in a smaller size.

Optimism is an exemplary characteristic of human nature.  Without hope we cannot exist and, of course, we all hope for the best.  My best would be to lose ten or fifteen pounds, but I am a faster and more reliable knitter than I am a dieter.  It would be foolish for me to give into the Fudge Factor.  I hope I will lose the pounds, but I'm not betting on it.  If I do lose the weight, I can always take in width at the side seams and make the garment narrower.  Or I can give it away and proudly make another in a smaller size.  As surely as I depend on the hoped-for happening, I will gain instead of lose weight."

I have succumbed to the Fudge Factor on several sewing projects in the last few years.  I suppose it really is better to make it in a size that fits *now* than to hope and pray that your size will adapt to the size of the garment!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Order from Chaos

Finally.  I've lived here for a full year and my room is only just now in a state which I'm comfortable showing you in pictures.

Last week I got completely fed up with the mess and disorganization of my living space.  I have too much stuff and I wanted to cut back.  So I did a complete overhaul.  The main goals were to pare down my wardrobe so it all fit on the hanging rack and in my dresser, to get the craft supplies in some semblance of order, and also to get rid of all the cardboard boxes which I still had things stored in.  They make a place look like you haven't unpacked properly.  I wanted storage which was practical but also pleasant to look at.

I bought the yarn dresser at a local antiques warehouse.  It has mis-matched drawer pulls and the finish is not perfect but I love it.  Eventual goal is to not have more yarn than will fit in this.  (I bought flowers to celebrate!  They're mixed in with my road-side sunflowers from last week.)

The shelves came from Target -- they were on sale for a very reasonable price and were just what I wanted.  The bins on the righthand side hold most of my fabric scraps (saved for quilts); they are very, very full!  Then I've got my sewing books and patterns.  The tin holds thread and that other box has notions, zippers, etc.  Obviously they didn't all fit, so I've a basket with the rest of that sort of thing, plus embroidery thread.  My little tea-set finally found a home out of a box, but as I don't use it often, the cups are doing duty as a place to store odd buttons, t-pins, hair elastics, and my porcupine quills.  (Because they look nice!)

I've still got several crates and some plastic bins with yarn and fabric and sewing notions in them.  I would like to pare down the stash so that the crates are unnecessary and probably so that I only need one or two of the bins for things like polyfil and quilt batting.

I finally hung my Ikea hanging tower thing.  I have no idea what to call it.  But it's holding dishcloth yarn, crochet cotton, wool fiber, and a few other things.  The hamper underneath has all the random balls of acrylic and other lower-quality yarns.  I'm hoping to empty that out as well within the next year.

And all the clothes fit.  The hanging rack is not exactly attractive -- I don't think I will ever have the sort of closet able to be neatly ordered by colour and type of clothing, but I don't have a closet at all at the moment and this is the best I can do.  I finally got my shoe rack hung instead of in a pile on the floor.  And I don't have overflow.  Everything I own can fit where it's supposed to be.

The postcard collection and posters from various performances finally got a place to live, also.  (Some of them are actually postcards; some are photos I took and had printed up.)  It's funny how much more homey a place feels when you hang things on the wall!  This room is a challenge because of the ceiling; I don't have a lot of wall space.  (The main problem here is that I've no place to hang a mirror.  I propped the little one up on the yarn dresser but it's not very useful there!)

So there's a little tour of my space!  I'm sure it will change again eventually but for now I'm happy with it, and I'm so happy that I got so much unnecessary junk out of my life.  Here's hoping I can make that change permanent!

Friday, 17 August 2012

First Quilt

You are forgiven if you're thinking "but this is not the first quilt I've seen on this blog...."  You would be right.  This is not the first quilt I ever finished, but the first one I ever started.  The one that got me into this whole craft.

I've learned so much since starting this.  Like it's a lot faster not to cut each square individually.  (The rotary cutter and mat I got for last birthday help a lot.)  Like make sure you cut the batting a couple inches bigger than the top (because things will shift around and "spread" and you'll end up with half an inch of quilt sandwich missing its filling along one edge.)  Like how to keep the backing from getting wrinkles stitched into it (pin better.)  Like how to hide the ends of the quilting thread so there aren't knots on the back of the quilt.  (There are here.  Lots of them.  But that's okay.)

It's finished, and I love it, and this one isn't going anywhere.  It's staying right here with me at the end of my bed, where Conrad can sleep on it, as he loves to, and I can look at it and all its flaws and remember how much I've learned since I started it two years ago.  And how much I still have to learn!

(Construction notes: 4" squares from my scrap bags.  Machine pieced, hand-quilted and bound.  Batting is an old blanket and backing/binding are a thrifted sheet.)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Red Dragon and Sunflowers

Red Dragon is the name of the yarn colour, of course.  This is my skein of Mithril, which I've been fondling almost non-stop since it arrived last week.  It's so lovely.

And since it's destined to become Amy Pond's lace scarf, which she wears most memorably in the episode with Vincent Van Gogh -- I had to photograph it with my sunflowers.  I've been driving past a drift of them on the roadside for the last few weeks, thinking how lovely they are but not wanting to pick any... and then yesterday I saw that the mowing crew had been by and knocked down a lot of them.  So I immediately pulled off and went to see if I could rescue any.  They're cheering up a corner of my bedroom, now, in a bright blue ceramic vase.  Sunflowers should always be put in blue vases.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Another elephant

I finished another elephant.  This little lady is going to a grad-school friend's small niece.

I never cease to find these little guys charming.  I hope the small people they are knit for love them as much as I do!

Monday, 13 August 2012

So Many Stars

Photo by Stefano de Rosa. Check out his page, he's got gorgeous pictures!
I got home from work around 12:30 last night and spent a couple hours lying in the front lawn star-gazing.  Partly I was looking for meteors or shooting stars (the Perseids were strong this weekend) but mostly I just looked at stars.

So many stars.

I kept repeating the beginning of Psalm 8 over and over:  When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the sun and the moon which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him?  and the son of man that thou visitest him?  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Compared to all those stars I am so very small.  And yet God is "mindful" of me - I am one who is just a little "lower than the angels".   And that is almost as overwhelming as trying to count the stars.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


I've become increasingly frustrated with the state of my material possessions over the last few months.  It's probably exacerbated by the fact that I have all my earthly goods in a single smallish "bonus room" without even a closet -- everything is in constant view.  But this week I decided to do something about it.

I'm down-sizing.  I decided I shouldn't really need more clothes than will fit in my dresser (five medium-sized drawers) and on my hanging rack which is masquerading as a closet.  So yesterday I piled all my clothes (socks and underwear and everything) on the bed and did some sorting.  I ended up with a comfortably-filled hanging rack and a dresser a little over-full, plus one small crate for mittens, hats, shawls, and other knitted things.  This seems reasonable to me.  Some of these items are starting to wear out, also, so I'll be discarding them as they pass their useable life.  Three or four items went in the scrap-fabric pile, a few in the trash, and the rest (a very large box) will either be offered at yard sale or donated.

Today I began tackling the yarn stash.  This is a slightly more complicated process... not only do I have to find all the yarn I own (a daunting task, as I never unpacked some boxes when I moved last year), but I also have to sort it, decide whether it's all worth keeping (ancient acrylic from my first attempts at knitting 18 years ago, anyone?), and then find an organized way to store it.  By weight?  By fiber content?  I'm also taking this opportunity to enter it all in my Ravelry stash, so that I have it all photo-documented, and I can see at a glance what I have and what might work for a new project.

I spent about three hours this afternoon, and made it through four small boxes.  44 separate entries.  This is going to take a LONG time.

(And this is not counting all the FABRIC that needs to be sorted and stored, or the books, or the papers accumulated from four years of college and one of grad school...  I need about three weeks for this project!)