Tuesday, December 28, 2004

...in which there are pictures, and tales of yummy German cookies

Wahoo! I was finally able to get a couple days off in the last week, and I've managed to update some pictures, adding a not-so-recent stitching finish (the DragonKnot Bookmark. I'm particularly pleased with two of the hats.

The red one is Coronet, with some polka-dots (pulka-dots?) added in at the last minute to alleviate boredom. The white one is a hat of my own creation, using bits of the other three hats I finished: the rolled-up brim of one, the pointy-top of another. There's a little bobble pattern in the contrast band that you can't see very well in the picture, but it's there. Both were knit bottom-up using Magic Loop. I have an aversion to dpns that has been solved by a 52" Denise cable.

So now I'm spending the times when I'm not coding my various project data or nursing my neverending cold and a sore right hand (can't even begin to imagine what I did to that) working on Shimmer, of which I have two sleeves and the bottom of a back:

I don't even want to think about how many times I've ripped out a row of that lace pattern. Blah. And I'm not even at the decreases yet!

I'm still watching the second season of Land of the Lost on DVD, which has been positively addictive. And I'm trying to do some background variation theory reading for the paper I'm currently (supposed to be) rewriting. And spending some time with the husband, who miraculously got 5 days in a row off without meaning to (boss said no one, including she, needed to come in on Friday. Monday & Tuesday both stat holidays).

The most exciting thing on Christmas Day was the trip to Starbucks (I go there every day, really, but it's one of the few things open on Dec. 25, so that makes it special then). And so it goes. Boxing Day involved turkey and all the traditional sides, a really tasty chunk of Schinkenspeck, a box of Lebkuchen Herzen cookies of my very own (why yes, we did make a trip to our favourite German deli recently, why do you ask? She says with her mouth full...), and games of both Pirate's Cove and Goa with DH and some cousins at the in-laws. There are worse ways to spend a holiday Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

...in which I learn to always bring a bottle of water along

So, in the last three weeks I haven't gotten too much knitting done, but I'm only a few rows away from finishing the second sleeve for the shrug, and then I can start the back. Most of the Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport weight for the Dr. Who scarf came in a couple weeks ago, but one colour is backordered, and I've decied to wait for it before I start. It's one of the more common colours in the scarf, and I'd hate to get a few rows in and have to stop and wait anyhow.

School work has been going equally slowly, I have 1/2 of my TWPL submission written, and I've promised it, for sure this time, for tomorrow, Monday. So, I guess it's another all-nighter to get it done, but at least then it will be done. Several days last week (3, to be exact), were taken up preparing for a 10-minute worksop presentation at a neighbouring university. I had heard this was a small little thing they do every year, never too many people... imagine my surprise when the room slowly continues to fill up from 9am to 11am. By the time I gave my presentation at noon, there were nowhere near enough handouts (45+ people in the room for 35 handouts - I always end up taking extras home, and I hate that!). Due to the room setup (small ampitheatre-style), I felt like a gladiator in a ring, staring up at the bloodthirsty masses. My mouth was dry, and there wasn't a bottle of water in sight. I managed to fit 30 minutes of material into 9.5 (I was cutting up until I stood up), then a few intelligent questions were asked and answered as best I could, and I now have something else for the CV. And I finally dusted off the paper I was supposed to have been working on for the last several months, which just can't be a bad thing, no matter how you look at it. Really, the best I can ever ask for out of these conference/workshop things is that I don't make a complete ass of myself in front of my peers and professors, and I think in that I was sucessful. There were only a couple stunned and blank faces in the audience, anyhow, which is better than previous efforts. In other school news, the purging of the four old IMacs in the computer room at school has been going, well... the less said about that, the better. At least all the Sociolinguistics projects are graded.

DH was supposed to take this coming week off, but he decided to move that vacation until mid-January. Just as well, since I have two holiday concerts (with two different bands) and several meetings this week, which means I wouldn't have been able to be home much. But I still feel bad for him, I think he could really use a break right now. But at least we've gotten some time in the last couple weekends on board games with friends: current favourites are Betrayal at House on the Hill and Pirate's Cove. I'm hoping to try Goa soon, since we've picked that up as well, and DH wants to try Samurai.

I've been spending some time with several TV shows on DVD - yes, I'm a total DVD junkie. Right now, I'm revelling in The Land of the Lost. I finished season 1, and just picked up season 2. This show is so much fun, I had forgotten how much I loved it! I finally found a copy of CSI season 4 today (it seemed to be perpetually sold out since October), so we'll start watching that this week. The short-lived Babylon 5 sequel, Crusade just came out, which we've been waiting for, and this week is Star Trek TOS, season 3 to complete the set, and LOTR: Return of the King extended edition. Blah, expensive month! Oh well, merry X-Mas to us.

So this week is going to be data extraction, data extraction and more data extraction, followed by coding, coding, and more coding, while purging IMacs in my spare time (don't laugh!). I have three language variation and change projects on the go right now, two of those are joint projects with others, and I need to have serious progress on all three a week from tomorrow, before I take a couple days off for the holidays.

And boy, do I need a couple days off for the holidays.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Me: Bridget. You: Blurry

So, perhaps not the most productive of weeks. I was supposed to get a large amount of coding done this week for three ongoing research projects, but it has only been superficially started. As well, the article that was due August 15, (then September 15, then October 15, then November 15) is still only 1/4 written, blah. I seem to need at least 3 days of downtime after finishing a large amount of anything - early this week it was grading. I can only hope that next week will be a better one, but the month so far hasn't been a promising trend. I absolutely cannot get enough sleep right now and I have had a continuous sinus headache going on 6 days. I really miss Daylight Savings Time.

I did finish putting together and distributing a much-needed survey (addressing computer use by the grad students in our department), and that has taken up a lot of time this past week. Remind me never to volunteer to do something like that again. Next week I have the happy task of backing up, reformatting and installing all software from scratch on 4 old IMacs. I am reminded that I volunteered for that, too. Really, hold me back, wheee.

But I do have one sleeve done for Shimmer! I'll bind it off tonight and maybe start the second one while I watch the CSI episode on the tape. Or not. *yawn* I haven't heard from the LYS about the yarn for the Dr. Who scarf yet, but I guess it can take a little while for special orders from Brown Sheep Co. to come in. For some really sick reason, I'm rather looking forward to making that obnoxiously huge garter stitch scarf. There's just such a geek aspect to it. And it is, unsurprisingly, the only KO (knitted object) that DH (dear husband, for the uninitiated) has requested. So, you know. Geek factor + DH factor = 14 ft., 60 stitch wide garter stitch Tom Baker scarf.

I must be insane.

Tomorrow - er, today, actually - is our 10th anniversary. Huh. How 'bout that? Dinner reservations are made, and all that. I'm tepted to crack open the cedar chest for nostalgia (it contains all our wedding memorabilia, only been opened once since). Hey, wait, does this mean I can officially break out some more of the towels I got as shower gifts and packed away unused? (I got a LOT of towels, folks. Really, we'll have fresh, new towels for the 25th anniversary. And some sheets.)

I would love to have a nice, quiet weekend that doesn't involve interaction with the outside world, but that is probably unlikely. I suspect the best we can hope for are a few uninterrupted games of Memoir 44 or Carcassonne on Saturday or Sunday. We also dug out his copy of the old board game "Survive", which is a hoot, so maybe we'll give that a go, too.

Wow, the geek alert is on full blast this week. And I used to think that my parents playing CrapPile (2-player card game taught to every member of our family at birth, probably goes by a different name According to Hoyle) or Backgammon in the evening was lame. Who am I kidding? Frankly, their backgammon board is nice, wish we had one like that...

OK, must have drugs before I go sit on the couch for a bit with Shimmer. Sinutab, yes. And Robaxacet. Two. Yes. Extra-strength, even.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

More Yarn: The Justification

The introduction of knitting to my list of fibre-hobbies has certainly been hard on the pocketbook and storage space. I haven't worked on the cross stitching since early September, even though I was nearly done with a Michael Powell piece (Mini Cottages IV) and making good progress on PT. Instead, I've been knitting with a vengence. Well, OK, I've been buying stash and starting things with a vengence.

Right now, I have on the go:
2 scarves: 1 Rowan biggy print (colour: Joker, garter stitch in 25mm needles), 1 in a grey kid mohair/pink rayon ("Faggot Lace scarf" from Knitting for Dummies)
1 bag: Tasha, from Knitty Magazine. It has cables. :) I'm using the recommended Rowan denim.
1 crochet sweater: The pattern is "Casual Chic", from Today's Crochet. I'm doing this one in Naturally Woodland mohair - the colour (08) is a very neat black with bright multicoloured flecks. The fringe edging on the neck, bottom & sleeves will be done in a bright rainbow-coloured mohair (Furrari M4405) that matches the colour flecks in the black yarn. Should be lovely (though perhaps a little itchy), if I ever get around to making the front. The back and both sleeves are done. Actually, they were done a year ago.
1 knit shawl: On Size 13 needles using some dark blue fuzzy eyelash stuff (it sheds! it sheds!) mixed with a dark blue/purple boucle. I seem to have thrown away the labels from the yarn, bad me. I think the boucle was Katia Nube(?). The eyelash stuff came in balls with a black label and sheds like a beast. Anyhow, the shawl is done, and the fringe is on - but I'm adding beads to it. I have these *perfect* teardrop crystal beads, and it's taking forever. Doesn't help that the hole in the beads is too small. I hate bruised fingers. But I hope to finally have it done for Mom for Christmas. I'm sure I have those labels around here somewhere, now it's going to drive me crazy.

Other yarn in the stash:
- 1 skein Fleece Artist kid mohair in a yellow/pink colourway. Goes with...
- 5 skeins Briggs & Little Regal "Yellow WO" for a lovely cowl-neck sweater pattern by my LYS owner.
- 9 balls of Paton's Divine "deep earth" and 1 ball "soft earth" for a big cable sweater, Paton's Canadian Living Collection, vol 100.
- 3 skeins Manos del Urugual in lilac, 1 skein of brown/gold multicolour. For ???
- 2 balls of Lion's Brand Homespun, colour Sierra for ??? - maybe a big shawl?
- Numerous skeins, many colours, of Paton's Classic Wool Merino. For gloves and hats.

On order:
- 20 balls of Brown Sheep Nature spun in various colours to make a Tom Baker Dr. Who Scarf
I have recently finished:
4 hats: 1 Coronet in Paton's Classic Wool Merino "rich red", with "old gold" for the cable band); 1 knit-from-the-top-down hat with I-cord, from Knitting for Dummies, in Paton's Decor "rich aubergine", with lace band near the bottom "pale sage green"; 1 Sparkle Hat from Stich 'N Bitch, minus the sparkles and far too small for an adult, in Paton's UpCountry "charcoal"; and one hat of my own design, borrowing liberally from the previous three, in Paton's UpCountry "silver mist", with a band of "charcoal" for contrast containing a single row of cob nut stitch from Knitting on the Edge.
1 felted bag: Meema's marsupial tote, minus the keyholder, from Stitch 'N Bitch, using Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted in Aubergine and Sunburst Gold.

Why the summary, we ask? Because just when I said I would buy no more yarn (see above list), I realized I needed to make Shimmer, so that I would have something dark to wear over my sleeveless black concert dress, which is a great dress, except for the sleeveless thing. I originally bought a tan/black crochet shell to wear with it, but once I got on stage today I realized it was far too light in colour. So, off to the LYS, and I now have 6 balls of Patons Brilliant (black) with some Patons Kroy (black). I'd like to have this done before the next band concert in February.

Further rationalization: I've been too intimidated to start the sweaters, and this will give me a stepping-up project. It's more than a bag, scarf or hat, and less than a full sweater. Right? RIGHT?

So now I will really not be buying any more yarn, not even the Briggs & Little for Rogue, until I've finished at least the two scarves and the bag. And begun working on the crochet sweater again. And gotten somewhere on Shimmer.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Baseball and the Fabric of the Universe

Well, it's done, Boston has won the World Series.

Time to dig out that big old "Fabric of the Universe" needle I keep for just such emergencies. It might need some repairing in the next weeks and months.

Of course, if the Cubs win next year, I don't give the laws of nature much chance of recovery.

That said, Go Sox, and Go Cubs.

I'm such a sucker for the underdogs.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

New Neighbour Paranoia

Something I learned at a young age: Never, ever take good neighbours for granted. Ever.

So, after 10 years, we are getting new neighbours. Our landlords, who live in the upstairs of this house, are moving into their new house at this very moment. I'm happy for them that they're happy. They've found people to rent the upstairs. A young couple with two cats and a young daughter who comes for visits. Sounds OK. So why am I panicking about this?

Our 10 years here have not entirely been bliss, but any problems have been with the apartment itself (flooding from the washer, flooding from the broken water tank resulting in ripped-up carpet for weeks, more flooding from the washer, shower stall broke, multiple furnace repairs mean workmen in my kitchen, etc.). The owners/neighbours have been great, and we all get along well. Anything we ask for has been dealt with promptly. They love us and never want us to move, because we always pay, we're very quiet, and never complain about anything. They haven't raised our rent, ever. I've gotten used to hearing the mother screaming at her teenage kids in Portuguese. :)

And now, I am faced with a complete unknown. I'm as much worried about the new people being jerks (it can happen) as I am that we will do things that annoy them. They need to know that they control the thermostat for the house. Not a big deal, and as long as they set it so that they're comfortable, we'll be fine - but it means that if they go away for a week in the winter, I can't have them turning it down too low, or turning off the AC in the summer. We need to find out if they want specific days to do their laundry. They need to know that the furnace is in my kitchen, the breaker switches for the entire house, including the cable connection for their TV, are in my bedroom, and they should call us if they need us to check something. I need to get their phone number, and they need to have mine. I don't want to seem like I'm being nosey about them, or too forward, or trying to be their best buds. I don't know that I want to be their best buds. But we need to establish lines of communication, fast and early, and I really don't want to come across too forward, or like "I've lived here 10 years and you're new, so THERE." But there are things they need to know. This is not an apartment building, it's a house with a makeshift basement apartment, and the downstairs and upstairs are not entirely self-containted units.

So why am I so paranoid about this? Because we are about to be placed, essentially, at the mercy of strangers. And first impressions can be a big deal. And lucky us, apparently they want to paint next week. I really hope they don't fume us out of the house.

I hope they're nice. I hope they're friendly, but not too friendly. I hope they're not smokers. I hope I don't piss them off before the year is out, and vice-versa. I hope they're not axe-murderers... OK, there goes that late-night paranoia again. I'll stop now.

Cross your fingers for me, folks, it's new neighbour time.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Work: 5; Knitting: 1

Well, at least there's symmetry.

After hitting an all-time low in production the previous week, this past week was pretty good. OK, perhaps I should qualify that - it didn't suck quite so badly. I managed to: 1) Finish enough coding that I didn't look like a slacker dolt at my meeting on Tuesday, 2) Finish grading Statistics assignments (how I, the supremely under-qualified, came to be grading these is a story for a whole 'nuther day), 3) Finish two scholarship applications that required begging for four reference letters on short notice and writing up a detailed "Plan of Study" for the next two years (and considering I can't keep straight what I'm doing tomorrow, that's quite a trick), 4) Help put together a large order for TWPL to send out to a conference, 5) Write an acceptable abstract in under 3 hours today to make a submission deadline for a conference.

And I still made it to band rehearsal, remembered to send in a health insurance form, and crammed in a couple hours' sleep this week. And I occasionally fed the husband and cats and snuck in an episode of Buffy. I did not, however, make it to my chiropractor appointment or finish a paper that's due to be submitted for publication (which I said would be done for today), or make it to the bell tower for some carillon practise. But I hear there's a new week coming up.

The weekend will be fun-filled: full of grading with a short detour on Sunday to play at the CBA band competition with my concert band. And maybe the CSNF. *Looks at pile of grading, about to topple over.*Or not. Bummer.

Last night, while avoiding work on the scholarship apps, abstract and grading, I felted (intentionally!) the bag I made last week. It's the "Marsupial Pouch Bag" from Stitch 'n Bitch, minus the little extra pouch, done in Lamb's Pride worsted Aubergine and Sunburst Gold. That is a yarn I don't think I'll ever get tired of. My finished bag is a little smaller than the pattern specs - I wanted to felt it longer, but the pre-felted bag was already small, since my gauge was a little tight, and I didn't want it to shrink too much more. The handle sections didn't felt evenly with the rest of the bag, but for a first felting project, I'm very pleased. I'll probably make a couple more bags before moving on to sweaters: definitely this one and maybe this one or this one. Or maybe some slippers.

The pink & grey mohair/rayon lace scarf is still growing, a few inches per sitting. I'm getting ready to order the yarn for husband's Tom Baker Dr. Who Scarf next week. I'll be making the earliest version, in Brown Sheep Co. Nature Spun. At around 12 feet long, that will be something of a long-term project, I think.

I have a sneaking suspicion my neighbours (and landlords) of over 10 years are moving to their new house this weekend. We've been expecting this for a while, since they closed on it last month. The sounds of stomping feet and furniture being shuffled around at 2:00 am are something of a tell, and there was a cryptic message this afternoon, saying that she wanted to talk to us.

I'm trying not to stress too much about that right now, but it's hard, what with the sounds of creaking floorboards above me as a constant reminder. It's not that we're good friends with the landlords, but we have built up a comfortable relationship and mutual trust that has worked well for over 10 years of renting the basement apartment of their house. The thought of completely unknown people living in the same house above me is really disturbing right now.

Wonder if they rented the upstairs yet. Wonder who my new neighbours will be. Wonder if they'll suck as badly as my overactive paranoia assures me they will - I'm envisioning pyromaniac, klepto chain-smokers with big dogs who will have huge parties and burn down the house after they flood it.

Late-night imagination, you are truly a bitch.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Knitting: 5, Work: 1

In a concerted effort to avoid work, I have, over the last several weeks, knit 4 hats: 1 out of Patons Decor, 1 Patons Classic Wool and 2 Patons Up Country. One of those only fits my Ewok stuffed animal, but I firmly believe mistakes are for learning. And he looks cute in it. I have continued working on two scarves. One is a very long grey mohair/pink rayon simple lace pattern that I can only do a couple inches of in one sitting, the second is garter stitch using 3 balls of Joker colour Rowan Biggy Print on 25mm needles, which will be done in one more sitting. I'm also almost done with a simple 2-colour bag made out of Brown Sheep Co. Lamb's Pride worsted weight, which is just about the most delightful stuff I've ever worked with. This will be my first felting experiment, we'll see how it goes.

I've also bought yarn for two sweaters: Paton's Divine (brown & cream) for an oversized, all-cable (6 stitches wide) sweater, and a large hank of pink/yellow/orange baby kid Fleece Artist hand-dyed to mix with 5 skeins of Briggs & Little yellow (aran weight) to make a lovely cowl-neck sweater. I have another ball of Lamb's Pride in bulky weight, for another hat, and at least 8 different coloured balls of Patons Classic Wool. Maybe those will become another bag, if I can get this felting thing down. And then there's those 4 hanks of Manos del Uruguay kettle-dyed wool, 3 lilac solids and 1 varigated brown/yellow. When I figure out what I'm going to make with that, I'll let you know.

Oh, and the patterns... there's that beautiful Rogue Hooded Pullover pattern that I have yet to buy yarn for. I'll probably buy Briggs & Little for that - at CDN $5 for a nearly 200 metre skein, how can you go wrong? I've picked up the books Stitch and Bitch and Knitting on the Edge, and I've been printing out patterns from Knitty magazine like a fiend. Yes, friends, the knitting mania is in full swing.

I finally broke down and bought a set of Denise Interchangeable Needles, and wow, do they rock. I must stop buying yarn, though, I'm certain I have enough to get through the winter and next summer. Maybe just a few more skeins of Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride or Nature Spun, because those colours are just so beautiful...

Let's not even talk about how much work I have to do right now. The only bright spot in the last month was a well-received conference presentation last week, but now that it's over, I have no excuse to get on with the rest of it. Coding 800 lines of data by Tuesday, grading 15 assignments by Wednesday, at which time 200 new assignments and 150 exams come in for grading, 2 funding scholarship applications by next Friday (but drafts to my reference-writers tomorrow). I am going to have to lock the yarn, needles, cats and husband away this weekend, or I have no chance.

It's a damn good thing Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. If I didn't have a long weekend until November, I'd be screwed.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

That First Post: Bandwagons and the Introduction to Myself

Hmmm. A blog. My chance to shout at the world and be heard. Disseminate my insights and knowledge to the masses.

What a crock.

No one is going to read this, and if they do, I pity them. See - I'm pitying you right now. I've needed to start journaling some of my random thoughts for a while, if only to get them out of my head and make it less cluttered. I tried writing little journal notes to myself, but now my computer hard drive is cluttered with them. So consider this my virtual pensieve*.

Topics will range from my fibre hobbies (knitting, crochet, cross stitch and hardanger), to my music hobbies (playing French horn, piano, and my occasional attempts to learn to play a carillon), my family (husband, cats, parents, siblings) and friends, my current day job (PhD student in Linguistics at the University of Toronto , studying language variation and change) and my previous job (desktop publishing, layout and output technician at a DTP service bureau, printing everthing from press-ready 4-colour film & colour-matching proofs to colour photocopies and large colour posters), which keeps coming back to haunt me.

The run-on sentences are a bonus for the reader. My thoughts, your bad luck. I'll try to update at least once a week. The URL might change to be hosted on my website, once I decide if I want to continue this and figure out how much server space I have there. So perhaps this is actually a test-run of my virtual pensieve.

I have political and religious opinions, but I'll have to be pretty provoked to air them here. Having been on the internet since pre-WWW, I have developed a keen sense of self-editing before hitting "send". Never forget that anything put here is for public consumption, and has the potential to stick around forever, unlike things said in person. That goes for anyone who sees fit to comment on my blog. I've found old email archives from usenet groups I posted to in the early 90s. Damn. Longevity can be a harsh mistress.

The title of this blog, btw, was the brainchild of my husband. It is sometimes useful to have a pun-meister in the house.

*And if you haven't read any Harry Potter yet, don't waste your time here, get on with it! There's a difference between jumping on a bandwagon vs. stubbornly avoiding something really good because you don't want to appear to anyone, particularly yourself, as if you're jumping on a bandwagon. Hence the reason I now have a blog.

And if you simply "don't like that kind of book", then my pity for you now knows no bounds.