Saturday, January 31, 2015

What's on Your Cutting Table?

This month's homework assignment from the Curious Professor Z is “What's on Your Cutting Table”. As usual, the insomniac  has left it to the last possible minute to hand in her assignment, the excuse being she always works best under pressure.

As she's never been particularly good at following assignment guidelines either, she will not only share with you those items currently on her Cutting Table but also any craft-related items on every other table in the cottage as well. Because just when a person finally gets their very own crafting area condensed into a portion of an old attic - where everything is close at hand, is decorated exactly how one wants, and is organized enough that one has a vague idea where things are - well then obviously, it's time to move.

When we decided to build, the insomniac  knew she would likely have Separation Anxiety when her large collection of crafting supplies went into storage, so she took up knitting to keep herself occupied until we were reunited.

Little did she realize knitting would become such an obsession - to the exclusion of all else, some might say. House needs cleaning? Pffft. Nobody comes to visit. Laundry needs doing? Pffft. Nobody comes to visit. Meals need to be prepared? Well, if someone claims they're not really hungry for long enough, eventually someone's spouse will make us something to eat.

Let's start this assignment off with some finished projects, shall we?

Rowan Tamara Glove Pattern

The insomniac  loved these fingerless armwarmers ever since she discovered the pattern in Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine number 48. And although she'd never tried the intarsia technique before, she didn't think it would be a problem as she'd previously made a Cowichan sweater for her father using the fair isle technique. Once. Like thirty-five years ago.

The back looks much like a dog's breakfast, doesn't it.

And really didn't have the calming effect one looks forward to when knitting.

After three attempts at intarsia, the entire thing was pulled apart and a fair isle pattern from the same magazine was selected to replace it. And because any project these days always culminates with the insomniac  screeching, “Where is my **insert missing item here**?” which will require a trip to the basement to sort through all the craft boxes still unpacked because there's no place left to put anything else, she did not carefully plot out all the colours with her missing pencil crayons to see if they looked okay together and just started knitting.

As any prolific knitter will tell you, one of the biggest problems with knitting (besides the intarsia technique) is what to do with all one's projects after completion. (You'll notice the insomniac  has categorized herself as a Prolific Knitter. Not a Good Knitter. Vastly different). And so she asked the youngest if she'd like the armwarmers, to which she graciously replied, “Of course, mum.” And to prove she really liked them a lot, she put them on in the car and carefully covered them over with the sleeves of her coat before we headed into the bookstore.

In one's defense, her special order of non-pastel wool in shades
of scarlet, purple and grey never arrived until after these were finished ...

In December, the insomniac  inquired of her eldest whether his Significant Other might be interested in a slouchy hat with a pompom on the end for Christmas. “She doesn't wear hats. No point.”, he said. Doesn't mince words, the eldest.

But when they came for Christmas Dinner and his SO saw the youngest in her red slouchy hat with a pompom on the end, she said she liked it and wouldn't mind one for herself. And when asked whether she'd like a pair of mittens to match, she replied, “Thank you, but you already made me a pair last year.” A statement which one didn't believe for a second, but totally admired for the skillful way in which she'd managed to avoid receiving one more knitted item without offending a woman who might conceivably become her future Mother-in-Law. Nicely done, my dear girl. Nicely done.

Unfortunately, the sock wool complemented the slouchy hat wool so well,
the insomniac  just couldn't help herself.

If you listen closely, you'll be able to hear the offspring hissing at one another:

Eldest: I'm  not taking those socks. They're pink. You  take them.
Youngest: I'm  not taking them. I  took the armwarmers. And  the slouchy hat and matching mittens at Christmas.

Even when one isn't knitting, the Night Table always contains
potential knitting projects for someone's future enjoyment.

Or inspirational pictures for the day she might have
her own dedicated crafting area again.

Some people manage to make knitting look like an enjoyable pastime; not so the insomniac, who is probably the world's most awkward knitter. When she's not flipping needles across the room or dropping them between the cushions of her chair, you'd probably find it humorous to watch as she raises the double pointed needles perilously close to her face in order to see well enough to unknit her mistakes. Because it's always funny until somebody loses an eye.

A dedicated knitter slaps a band-aid on any friction points and knits through the pain ...

Most days you'll find the insomniac  firmly planted in her knitting chair from sunup to sundown. And although she could knit well into the evening as we do have electric lighting in the Little Gothic Cottage, they're mostly to provide atmosphere and pretty much useless for doing anything practical.

Now we come to the unfinished projects portion of the assignment and let's be honest ... if a person has a damask box in their possession clearly labelled Unfinished Projects, it's safe to assume that box is filled to overflowing. Taking pity on her readers, only a small portion were exhumed for this assignment.

An embroidered runner which will likely never be completed,
despite the threaded needle suggesting otherwise ...

Silkscreen samples, to be made into some thing at some point ...

Although that grey scarf could almost be considered finished and
perhaps moved into the Completed Projects damask box.

The Gothic Fingerless Gloves Project

Might  need a bit of pressing before continuing on with that one ...

Have decided this piece will not be repaired as previously thought,
but framed for display exactly as is.

Still planning on graphing out the pattern and sharing it with you all though.

And finally, we come to the Project of Shame - because although she may procrastinate on projects not meant for anyone in particular, she never does so with projects specifically promised to someone well over a year ago. So earlier this week, she went down into the basement, searched for the garbage bag containing Nightwind's coat, brought it upstairs and dropped it down next to the chaise in the large guest bedroom, which now also doubles as the insomniac's  sewing room.

And there it sat ...

Today she opened the bag, withdrew the contents and laid them out in full view, hopefully providing the needed incentive to get cracking on it. To be clear, there is absolutely nothing worrisome about this project - the pattern is extremely simple, there are no sizing alterations required, most of the supplies have been located (except for the buttons and soutache braid, which are still missing but around here somewhere), the embroidery pattern on the capelet is exciting - and yet one keeps stalling, for whatever reason. To make matters worse, Nightwind has been an absolute gentleman about the whole thing, never once asking when he might be able to expect his coat to be finished.

While you're here, did we decide on bats or spider web embroidery
on the capelet, Nightwind?

Maybe Doctor Z. could schedule a follow-up assignment in another month, specifically requesting completion of ALL unfinished projects, since some of us seem to work best under pressure.

In the meantime, please check out this month's other participants, all of whom have likely passed their assignments with flying colours. They probably don't have ANY unfinished projects lying about ... epic fail for the insomniac.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Adjusting to Rural Life. And Retirement.

Now that we've had a couple of months in our new home and settled into somewhat of a routine that no longer includes unpacking vast quantities of boxes (and not that there aren't plenty to go through still) the insomniac  thought you might enjoy a post about a typical day in the Little Gothic Cottage. Although she realizes everyone is far more interested in seeing how the Buckleberry turned out, but as that involves wading through almost 700 pictures of the build and whipping them into some semblance of order, writing this post seemed the lesser of two evils.

Upon awakening - time varying depending on the quantity of sleep the previous night -  the first order of business is to grab the tablet off the nightstand and check for any important incoming mail. Or Facebook updates. Or something exciting on Pinterest. Basically anything to delay having to crawl out of the very warm, cozy and comfortable bed. During the first half of the month, this is an enjoyable part of the day as internet speed is almost acceptable. By around the twelfth of the month, the 20GB limit has been used up and everything slows to a crawl. Is anybody reading this old enough to remember dial-up connections back in the day? It's every bit as bad as that.

After performing her morning ablutions, which often don't include brushing out her braid (because there are seldom unannounced visitors at the cottage) she heads into the kitchen to make the first pot of coffee of the day, to be enjoyed in the Four Seasons Sunroom.

Obviously, no tidying up was done for this photo ...

Once comfortably settled in the sunroom, the spouse likes to check the weather forecast on his cell phone by extending his arm in the air and waving the phone around until he finally gets a signal, and the resultant generic weather report for Alberta Zip (even our phones can't figure out where we are). The insomniac  prefers to use the old-fashioned method of forecasting, commonly called Looking out the Window.

The more frost on the windows, the colder it is.

It's a pretty accurate indicator.

This is a Chinook arch. It's windy and warm. All the snow will melt.

He's all puffed up. It's cold.

After we've finished the first pot of coffee and determined the day's weather, it's time to start our exercise routine. This consists of running from the main floor to the second floor and from window to window to see what wildlife is visiting the neighbourhood that day. And then running between floors trying to locate the camera. Further trips up and down the stairs occur frequently during the day, as we attempt to get cell service to receive any incoming texts or phone calls.

Red squirrels are voracious eaters.

So are mulie young'uns.

You'll notice how the insomniac is already adopting the rural dialect ...

There were a pair, but they caught sight
of the spouse and the camera ...

Flee! Flee!

After all this vigorous exercise, it's time for the second pot of coffee ...

The rest of the morning is spent performing various activities around the cottage; said activities determined by the weather. -15°C or less and you'll find the insomniac, roll of paper towels clutched firmly in hand, mopping up water from the melting frost on the windows and trying to prevent the wooden sills from being ruined. If we're having a Chinook, the day is spent moving the lasagna pan around the sunroom floor, trying to catch the drips from the melting snow that enters around the roof cresting. Since the caulking was done last year during the dreaded Polar Vortex, we'd probably have been more surprised if it didn't  leak.

The purple lasagna pan has become a permanent fixture in the middle of the floor, but as it matches one of the settees it's not too annoying. Unless one is attempting to sneak into the sunroom in the middle of the night without waking the spouse and stubs her toe on it. Then it's annoying.

Time for the third pot of coffee, followed by a brief discussion on what to make for lunch ...

In the afternoon, the insomniac will wander around the cottage deciding what bathroom fixtures are in need of a dose of Iron Out or Calcium Lime Rust Remover. Our well water, although it has been “shocked” (which means it had bleach poured into it - oh, the things you'll learn on this blog ... next week, septic tanks and fields) has quite a high iron content, and toilets and sinks and washing machines and every other appliance in the cottage require a great deal of maintenance to keep them looking pristine. So that takes some time.

Around 3:00 p.m., the insomniac  spends fifteen minutes getting into her winter gear and walks down the highway to get the mail. On the way down the driveway she checks the tracks in the snow to see who has been there previous to her, aided by her handy guide “Animal Tracks in Alberta”.

R-L: Size 8 Sorel - Female;
Vulpes Vulpes or Red Fox - Gender Unknown;
Case International Farmall B Tractor - definitely Male.

Once on the highway (and one is using that word somewhat loosely, although it is paved) a person can expect to be greeted by one or two drivers also on their way to their mailboxes, with the age-old rural acknowledgement of another's existence - a slight lift of the index finger off the steering wheel. Quite different from the middle finger salute one had become accustomed to in the city.

The walk down to the mailbox ...

... looks identical to the walk back home.

Our closest neighbours live on the left. Within a month of our moving into the Little Gothic Cottage,  a House for Sale by Owner sign appeared in their driveway. Probably just coincidence.

And there she is ... the Little Gothic Cottage.

Before entering the LGC, the insomniac  stops out front and spends a few minutes (or an hour, depending on weather) feeding the chickadees.

Also voracious eaters ...

Back inside and it's time to switch from coffee to tea. A debate on what to make for supper ensues. 

After the meal we head upstairs, where the spouse watches TV and the insomniac  sits down at the computer; how long she sits depending on speed. According to our Internet Service Provider, the cause of the drastic slowdown in the evening is because every child who's been at school all day long are now playing on their computers until their bedtimes. And so we all suffer.

And since some of the inhabitants in the cottage don't care much for television, they will give up in disgust and retire to bed early to read. During the first few weeks of being in our own home again, the insomniac  slept like the dead. But after six months of hotel living and being awakened EVERY night at 1:00 a.m. when the saloon started emptying out, firstly by the joyful sounds of people laughing and singing, then degenerating into arguing and shouting, and inevitably ending with somebody getting their head slammed into the hood of a pick-up truck, that shouldn't come as any great surprise.

But just lately the old habits have returned, and it's actually pretty awesome being up in the middle of the night in the sunroom with only the moon and millions of stars for company - and whatever carnivorous beasts are out in the forest staring in at her. Much like a sitting duck.

Pretty awesome, indeed ...

People said the insomniac  wouldn't like living in the country and probably wouldn't like being retired very much either. “You'll be bored!”, they said. But, as you can see, we have very full days out here. Never a dull moment.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.