Saturday, February 28, 2009

I've been busy

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I had cast on for the Reversible Vest from Knit One Below and was making great progress when I ran out of yarn last weekend with literally 27 stitches and 2 inches of knitting to go. And there was no more of that color in my stash. So off to Ravelry I went hoping that some kind knitter would have some in their stash that they were willing to part with. Hurray, last night I got a response and I'm now waiting for the skein to arrive.

In the meantime, I've gone back to work for Creative Spaces Landscape Design and Construction. This week was spent indoors building our garden display for the Home and Garden show here in Columbus. The theme this year is Hooray for Hollywood and our booth theme was Terminator 2, "HOSTA la Vista, Baby". Steve designed a garden full of hostas, rhodedendrons, ferns, evergreens, flowering cherries and tulips. Complete with a waterfall, stream and pond and a garden shed that could have been lifted from the movie. Think of the urban industrial, graffiti covered buildings in the movie. My assignment was to help lay it out and help supervise getting it built. Steve had broken it out into day by day tasks, and was there most of the week to help, especially with building the water feature.

Everything went fairly well except for the water feature which had developed a leak that we could not find. To the shock of my crew, Steve and several of the adjacent landscape companies I went so far as to peel off my boots and socks, roll up my pants and waded into the pond in an attempt to get it repaired and put back together. And yes it was very cold. To my amusement what really bothered them the most was that I was going to walk barefoot across the concrete floor of the building to the bathroom to rinse my feet off and put them under the blow dryers before putting my socks and boots back on. They thought that was so unhealthy. I pointed out that they were a bunch of guys who played in the dirt all day, and didn't wash their hands before eating lunch, and that I had seen them eat food they had dropped on the ground so they had no room to talk.

We also spent some time adding graffiti to the garden shed. By 4:30 Friday afternoon we had it done, groomed and the plants watered, ready for the preview party at 7. I had a phone call this afternoon that the water feature is dry, so I'll have to refill it before I start work in the booth tomorrow. One of the partners in the company is leaving for Florida in the morning, so I'll be taking his place in the booth this week. This should be interesting.

I've also been working on finishing a super secret birthday present for my friend Barb's 60th birthday, which happens to be today. The Soft Wavy Wrap in these striking shades of acidy green from Fleece Artist. It happens to be one of her favorite colors, and is knit of an alpaca boucle and a mohair that have been painted the same colors. It's a six row, eleven stitch repeat and very simple.

I've also been practicing my long draw woolen spinning technique and have 3 bobbins complete so far. I want to spin the February offering for the Colorways Club into a woolen yarn rather than my usual worsted/semi-worsted yarn. Here's what I managed to get from the January fiber. It's really nice, but typical of handspun in that it's a bit dense. I would like to get more air and more yardage out of the same size batt. So woolen is what I'm shooting for.

And on a final note. The witch hazel starting blooming on Thursday. Proof that spring is really on its way.

Friday, February 13, 2009


It was a beautiful sunny day today. Something to be enjoyed after two days of high winds. Chore for the day: repair damaged shingles. My neighbor who is 80 lost a couple of shingles on his one-story house. And here's a bit of trivia. His house is a Sears kit house. I replaced the shingles. And made sure that everything was well adhered with roofing cement. Then I thought I would adhere the couple of loose shingles on my roof too. But I have a 12/12 pitch on my story and half Cape Cod. I discovered that I can't climb that high. So I called my cousin the roofer and begged him to fit me in. He was a bit amused.

Then unable to resist the sunshine I started prowling around the gardens looking for damage and hoping for spring. And look what I found. The witch hazel is starting to open in the backyard and the daffodils are starting to poke through the cold dark earth.
Even though this is central Ohio and we are normally considered zone 5, the backyard is enclosed with a privacy fence to block the wind on two sides, the house on another and the masonry wall of the garage on most of the fourth. This creates warm spots in that areas that let spring arrive early.

And the area on the south side of the house is a heat trap between the two houses and maybe one - two zones warmer. There are plants growing there that shouldn't be there, perennial fuchsia, holly ferns and gladiolas that I never dig up. Spring comes to this area about 1 - 2 weeks earlier in this part of the garden. Look at the difference in the daffodils. And after a winter that started about six weeks early this year. We're really happy to see these.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Look what came in the mail

From Grafton Fibers Colorway Club.

Linda sends these to club members around the world every month. Complete with a little booklet with spinning tips and a possible project for the resulting yarn.

And isn't it beautiful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It dropped Friday.

The other shoe, that is. For weeks now I've suspected that my employment time was limited. There simply wasn't enough billable work coming in to be able to cover my salary and my CAD skills are essentially non-existent after 14 years away from it. My boss, a friend for more than 20 years, had the uncomfortable task of letting me go. He did offer to let me keep my health insurance as long as I pay the premiums. And he wants me to do contract work on an hourly basis. So all in all I'm better off than I was when this happened in 2007.

My friends rallied around me to keep me busy over the weekend and came complete with offers to take me out, feed me, cheer me up etc. I have to admit that emotionally I'm in much better shape than I was the last time. And I know that this really is survivable, so it's not quite as scary.

I applied for unemployment over the weekend. And answered a bunch of silly questions from them today. (Why wasn't I available for work last week? Duh I had a job until Friday. Why didn't I contact 2 potential employers in the last week. Same answer. And the one I truly loved, Why were you fired? And your only options were all "for cause" reasons. Agree to any of those and your claim will be completely denied. And this after I had told them I was let go due to a lack of work.) And the government wonders why the unemployed are frustrated...

Yesterday I polished my resume and started the hunt in earnest. In all honesty I had a couple of small freelance graphic projects to finish, so I've been concentrating on that, and will grab the contract work while I can. I know that I can get by on the benefits, but that there will be nothing left "to stimulate the economy."

This morning I was surprised to get a call from a former employer at a landscape company wanting me to come back to work for him in a couple of weeks. With the same deal as last year, work while I'm looking for a job in my licensed and trained profession. Time off when I need it for interviews and as much work as I want to handle for them at an hourly rate otherwise. The work will start almost 7 weeks sooner than it did last year and it pays OT something that I'm not used to but kind of enjoy. And I am not as in shape as I was last April. This should be interesting and probably painful. But it is a job, something I like doing and something I'm relatively good at, just really over qualified. We're talking truly getting my hands dirty as a working foreman in the landscape business. And this is a boot camp method of getting in shape in hurry.

And yes knitting does continue I'm making progress on the Inside Out scarf. And this arrived via UPS this afternoon. I wasn't expecting it for another month and was pleasantly surprised. Now I want to play with my wheel again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It snowed

It's February. Where did January go?

Actually I know what happened. The weather has consumed all of my so called free time in the last week. Tuesday a storm moved in dumping snow, ice, sleet, ice rain and more snow on Tuesday and Weds. This is my redbud covered in ice and snow. Before it was over we had 4" of snow with an inch of ice, then 6 - 9" of snow on top of that. I parked the car Tuesday night and couldn't get it out of the driveway until after work on Friday. I have discovered the joys of public transit, and it's free during level 2 and 3 snow emergencies and comes complete with at least 20 minutes of knitting time each way. Not a bad thing for a knitter who spends the evenings with a snow shovel.

Pretty as it is on my barberry and scarlet oaks. It pretty much shut down Columbus on Wednesday and slowed everything up until the weekend. But it did make for great back drops for my latest finished object.

This is the Alligator Scarf from Morehouse Merino. In the Orinoco color. It's very purple. Ravelry details are here. Although as I write this I haven't uploaded any pictures yet.

Before the snow showed up, this arrived from Grafton Fibers. The first shipment in the new Colorways Fiber Club. Comes complete with suggestions on how to spin it and a possible project to make with the finished yarn. Rich red, to a deep black and teal.

And since I have a FO, I started another project. The Inside-Outside Scarf from Knit One Below. It's actually really simple. My friend Ruth figured out how to machine knit it too. Its basically a two color tuck stitch pattern. And I'm already mulling the possibilities around in my head. And yes Heather, when I get that far I will photograph the steps on the knitting machine to share.

The wind is starting to howl. There's a chance of more snow blowing in overnight.