Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two Too Many Big Projects

When will I learn? Doing 2 big projects at one time is just not satisfying to someone who wants frequent ohhs and ahhs for finished projects.

I am currently knitting on the Dr. Who scarf for J. If you have looked at one of these things, you know it will take pretty much forever to finish it. I am possibly almost, but not quite, 1/3 of the way finished. Which translates to having 2/3 of this hummer to go. The one positive note--it's a great project to drag along when you want to visit as it is straight knitting and doesn't require many brains cells to function at once.

The prayer shawl for the family member of a fallen soldier is in better shape. I have knitted 15 inches of the required 24 inches. Hopefully I'll have it finished and mailed to the family in another week or so. I may have to take a break and work on a smaller project or two before I run screaming into the night trailing yarn after me.

The heat is ridiculous right now so I am doing an impression of a bear hibernating only I'm knitting instead of sleeping during the day. Thank goodness for floor fans. They are a life saver and using them I can keep the a/c on 78 during the day and turn it down to 74 at night. NOTE TO ALL: Floor fans also have the advantage of herding the dust bunnies into a couple of groups rather than scattered around the room. Very productive. Makes for less cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning...a brilliant friend is now cleaning her place by spending 15 minutes a day doing it. She sets the timer and when the timer goes off, she stops cleaning for that day. I thought it was a wonderful idea and when we discussed it on Saturday, I decided I would start on Sunday. It is now Tuesday and I am 45 minutes behind schedule. Somehow I don't think this method is going to work for me.

As Scarlett so beautifully put it, " I'll think about that tomorrow." Hey, if it was good enough for Scarlett, it's good enough for me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Knitting and iPod

The knitting on the prayer shawl for the family of a fallen soldier continues. I am using the Old Shale pattern which is only 4 rows. Only one row is actually a pattern row with 2 rows of straight knitting and one row of purl. As long as you remember which row you are working on, it goes smoothly. A friend told me about putting the pattern on index cards which are on a ring. I love this method as I can just flip the cards as I knit and it does help to keep my place. Previously I had used post a notes or a piece of paper upon which I made pencil marks.

I am currently listening to The Camel Club by David Baldacci. This is very riveting and certainly a timely story. Can't wait to see where the plots goes next. This is my first book by Baldacci but it won't be the last as I enjoy his style of writing.

I was going to garden some this morning but with the heat index already well into the 80s I changed my mind. Hopefully the heat will kill some of the weeds. Much better to knit in front of the fan. I am having to almost physically boot the Shelties out the door to go potty. They aren't into the heat any more than I am.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Laptop crazies

My wonderful beautiful Dell Studio 15 laptop arrived. I love it! J truly gives special gifts and then is so patient explaining to me how they work. (I tend to think that magic and electric are the same thing.)As a computer programmer he doesn't hold with this theory .

L and C came over and while L and I talked knitting and spinning, C set up the router. I played on Studio for a while that afternoon. That night I plugged it into an electrical outlet to charge away. The next morning I went to get on, sitting comfortably on the couch with feet propped up, and Studio wanted to get the latest updates...and then you know what hit the fan.

In the middle of this lovely download with the computer flashing "Do not turn off your computer" at me the battery died. It beeped once and died, really dead. My shouting "no, no, don't do that" had no effect on it and so I immediately took myself to the nearest working electrical outlet and plugged the Studio in. (Apparently the outlet I had used last night didn't work.)

The updates seemed to continue, however it got in a loop and would not get out of it. Feeling as I do about the magic/electric thing, I was hesitant to touch anything lest the magic/electric gods rear their angry heads and banish me from the internet forever. I was patient!!! We're talking 3 hours.Finally, in desperation, I used the pc to im J and ask what the same hill was going on. After I tried a couple of things he suggested, and nothing worked, he suggested that I get on line with Dell tech support.

Thus began my 2 1/2 hours visit with "Benjamin". I found out where the battery is on my Studio, as well as the cd portal. Also found some other little square thingie that comes out when you poke it but until I get better reading glasses, I won't know what it is. Thankfully when I poked it again, it went back in and the Studio didn't fall apart .

Benjamin was kind enough to mention that I wasn't the longest chat he'd had, several people had needed 4 hours to get things fixed--not encouraging. NOTE TO SELF: If you are going to be on the phone with tech support for over 2 hours, put a comfortable chair next to the laptop plugged into the electrical outlet. The little kitchen stool is not the best for sitting or trying to knit while maintaining your balance.

Why didn't I unplug the computer and move to the more comfortable couch, you ask? HA, I was taking no chances on the battery dying again. I'd learned my lesson so I balanced, knitted and mumbled about Vista, Microsoft, and wondered whether Bill Gates really liked the rest of us or this was just a cruel jest on his part.

After finally re-everything (boot,load, whatever) the Studio it was up and running. I considered asking Benjamin for a mailing address so I could add him to my Christmas list but I am pretty sure he was in an area of the world where Christmas wasn't celebrated by most of the population.

This morning I got up, confidently turned on Studio and everything looked good until I got the notice that a program wanted to do something and should McAfee be notified. Dang it! Number one, I had already told Studio that I didn't want to deal with McAfee but there was no "go away" option in the annoying little box. Then, there it was at the bottom of the screen, the little flashing notice that said "Java Updates". Well, I'm not falling for that one again! That's what got me in trouble yesterday. I carefully shut Studio down and came into this room to report all this on my pc.

Could this be a plot on the part of XP not wanting to be replaced by Vista, or the pc not wanting the Studio to be more loved? I may yet prove that magic and electric are the same things. Laugh now, but think of that the next time you take Vista out for a walk on the internet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fun weekend

What a great weekend.

14 spinners / knitters / dyers met at my home and we played for the entire day on Saturday. Several wheels were turning, lots of knitting and 3 natural dye pots were simmering away.

The black walnut hulls closely resembled sludge. My fault. I had stored them in a plastic bag for 2 years and when they were put into the water they became something other than what they were supposed to be. The yarn came out a grey brown rather than the soft, rich brown that I have gotten with them in the past. Oh, well, there's always over dyeing!

The annatto seeds produced a soft pastel and not the anticipated deeper color. The cheesecloth the seeds were wrapped in was a much richer color than the fiber we put in to be dyed.

The coreopsis turned out to be a strong dyebath , if a somewhat stinky one. The color was a rich golden yellow . I put cotton and also silk in all the dyebaths. The other dyers were using wool.

I'm going to make another dyebath today and try to pull more color out of the annatto. I think we might have blown a fuse and didn't get the full heat we needed on the hot plates. That could account for the paler colors. We'll see.

Picture will be posted when I get them taken.

One interesting note...I had some cotton that I had mordanted years ago with alum/tannin/alum and it took all the colors beautifully.