Thursday, May 26, 2011

New Sock Design - Do the Bee!

This is the first prototype of my new sock pattern, Do the Bee. I grabbed a skein of what I thought was sock yarn, but it turned out to be sport weight yarn, so I will have to work one in sock yarn now, and recalculate accordingly. This "oops" pair will be mine.
And here is a close-up shot of the eyelet, bee, and honeycomb motifs.
The new pair is being worked in a superwash merino/nylon sock yarn, but I didn't have the right color, so the yarn is still a natural cream color. When the socks are finished, I will either paint them or drop them in a dye kettle. either way, something interesting will transpire. I just don't know exactly WHAT. That is never fully revealed until the socks have been dyed, washed, and dried. No preconceived notions of what the final version might look like are allowed.

Very exciting!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Confession Time: One of My Biggest Fears

I like to wear overalls, a.k.a. farmer jeans. A lot. They are great, all-purpose work pants, and I have worn them, if not quite every day, then often. REALLY often. I bought my first pair six years ago when working for UniStar Textiles, once I realized I would have to do a lot of crawling and climbing over boxes and packing crates, loading tractor trailers, packing and shipping boxes, etc. A few months after that business folded, I went to work "upstairs" at Omni Control Tech, and at first was simply a "grunt," unloading trucks, vacuuming floors, and "organizing" everything my "supervisor" didn't feel like dealing with. It was often filthy, physical work, so I continued to wear overalls. They had many pockets and I could move easily while wearing them.

In all those years of wearing overalls to work, my biggest fear was that one day I would go to use the restroom and drop one of the straps in the toilet within the first hour of the work day, and not be allowed to go home and change. But I was lucky. In six years, that never happened.

Until tonight. I accomplished my "business," stood up and got ready to rebuckle the straps, and saw that the end of one strap was submerged.

Oh, yuck. It was only trailing in watered-down pee, but still...yuck.

Well, at least I was home, and the washing machine was just down the hall...

O, For the Life, For the Life of a Cat...

He has a hard life, this cat of mine.
He would not go anywhere NEAR my bed until I dug out the duvet cover and went through all manner of contortions to get the down comforter INTO said cover. Wrestling a king-size comforter into a king-size cover all by myself was no fun at all, and I certainly did not manage to be very efficient about it. I'm glad no one took a video of me trying to accomplish this task. It would have been embarrassing.
Once all humans had vacated the bed this morning, Steve decided it was the perfect place for him to stretch out. Looks mighty cozy lying there, doesn't he?

His nickname is LB, which stands for "Little Bastard." We pronounce it with a Rhode Island accent for giggles. "L'il Bastid."
I seriously cannot imagine life without this ornery little critter.

And once again, I will post one of my favorite William S. Burroughs quotes, from his essays about cats.

~This cat book is an allegory, in which the writer's life is presented to him in a cat charade. Not that the cats are puppets. Far from it. They are living, breathing creatures, and when any other being is contacted, it is sad: because you see the limitations, the pain and fear and the final death. That is what contact means. That is what I see when I touch a cat and find that tears are flowing down my face.~

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So Far...

Well, it appears that quitting my job was a good thing after all. Still not sure how I'll feel about that when bill-paying time rolls around, but it's really amazing how much more energy I have, no longer living in fear of being fired. The worst has happened. I no longer have a job, and furthermore, I CHOSE not to have a job. I was NOT a victim of an unjust boss' cruel whim. So, though broke, because my final paycheck is already earmarked to pay the last installment on our car insurance, I feel like I am beginning this phase of my life from a place of strength. I do not have to recover psychologically from the trauma of being fired. I do not have to start out feeling like a loser and reject from the get-go. I can just start, feeling like my normal self again, from the get-go.

I know none of this means I won't have my bad days. I do, after all, suffer from chronic depression. It will be interesting to see, though, if my depressive episodes come less frequently. I hope this will be the case, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

At the moment, I am giddy with excitement over the idea that I can go to my favorite market again, when I want to, early in the morning before too many other people are there to make my shopping experience unpleasant. I'm really looking forward to exploring the produce department I loved so much once again. I'm even thinking along the lines of making some good preserves this week. We have not enjoyed grapefruit/ginger marmalade here in a very long time, and I'm craving it. I guess I'll have to be making some soon.

I'm a morning person, and now I don't have to waste the best, most productive hours of my day trying to meet the expectations of an employer whose expectations change from one minute to the next: whose demands become more ridiculous with each passing day.

Yes, we'll be cutting a lot of corners. Yes, we'll be eating a lot of variations of beans and rice. Yes, I'll be counting more than ever upon the success of this summer's home veggie crop. Yes, I'll be working like a maniac spinning yarn, dyeing yarn, knitting small items to sell, and resurrecting Mad Angel Creations. But it will all be good work, done for myself in support of my household. I lost sight of all that for too many years. Now I've begun to reclaim it. This feels very, very good.

The trick now is to pace myself. I'm impatient and want everything done and settled all at once, but that's impossible. One piece at a time, and hopefully my life doesn't end up looking like the Cadillac in Johnny Cash's song.

Oh, well, nothing wrong with a Wild Ride...ain't that right, Mr. Tent?

Friday, May 13, 2011

It Is Finished

"It is finished." Well, that does seem to be the thing to say when one has been crucified, yes?

I am now officially unemployed, by my own choice, because cellphones were forbidden on the production floor where I worked, but I carried one anyway. I have children who are often in crisis, an elderly, ailing mother, and an elderly, ailing mother-in-law. I must be tethered to my cellphone, and I thought that was understood. I was answering to a school-related crisis with my younger daughter when the "general manager," who has been gunning for me for quite some time now, caught me and laid into me WHILE I WAS STILL TRYING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION with the woman who called from the school, in hopes of figuring out the best way to help my daughter along, so she will pass this year and not have to go to summer school or repeat 9th grade.

I thought if I explained it was an emergency, that it would be accepted. I would not even mind if the reprimand had been delivered privately and courteously AFTER I had finished the phone call. But I was read the riot act while I was still on the phone with the woman from the school, and this woman got to hear every bit of the ass-reaming, as did everyone on the production floor. And I was marched into this man's office to finish the phone call. Thankfully, he left me alone with the door closed, and indeed left me alone for the rest of the day, and all day today. But yesterday afternoon, following the incident, he was walking around the place looking very smug and self-satisfied. He done put the b*tch in her place again. All in a good day's work for Captain Clipboard. And even better than putting the b*tch in her place? He done made her cry, too. Score!

This morning during break I found out who threw me under the bus. She couldn't stand not letting me know that a) she had done the deed, and b) would be spying on me and was fully prepared to throw me under the bus again. Up until then, I had been intending to give two weeks' notice on Monday. But to honor a final two weeks under those conditions?


I have been a good, conscientious, and loyal worker for nearly six years, but none of that counts for anything in the face of my breaking a rule to take care of a family emergency.

I e-mailed my resignation to the big boss a little while ago, and received a one line "thank you for your dedicated service" message, sent from his blackberry. I did not expect that he would want to know what happened, so I am not disappointed in his response.

I am free.

A little scared from a financial standpoint, but I'm not the main breadwinner here, and I never have been. Somehow, some way, we'll get through this, and I will get back to the business of taking care of my family and household, and myself. In time, I will probably feel like writing again, and I may even attempt to resurrect my yarn business on a small scale.

I am sad because I liked many of the people I worked with, and I will miss those people. But I will not miss the politics or the petty bullsh*t or the mean people.

I am free.

Now, what? There are certainly a lot more possibilities than there were when I was chained to that place...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Profound Bit from Milton

I confess, until this past week, I had been very lax indeed about perusing "Paradise Lost," but after viewing all these great videos of Grant singing "Awake, Arise" on his recent tour, I got excited about it all over again. Spent a fair lot of time listening to the audio book at work last week, and I have been trying to pick up the actual hard copy at least once a day and browse through the pages. Often, something will leap up at me, totally out of context, and insist I take heed.

"Still govern thou my song, Urania; and fit audience find though few."

The footnote at the bottom of the page identifies this as: "A famous phrase expressing Milton's conviction that it is preferable to address even one just man than a world of false men."

An earlier footnote tells me "Urania" is a name Milton uses to identify the Holy Ghost, though technically, Urania is actually the Muse of Astronomy.

"Govern" seems to mean "guide," and I can certainly dig being guided by the Holy Ghost, and do make an effort to hear Her voice when I attempt to create, be it music, or a poem or story.

As for preferring to "address one just man than a world of false men," well, it's what I've been saying all along. "A fit audience though few" means seeking out discerning folks, rather than aiming for mass appeal. I would much rather "a fit audience though few" of folks who actually get it, than worldwide appeal and an overabundance of material riches.

Being free to create as I wish, and listen for the voice of inspiration -- sometimes subtle, sometimes not -- is worth more to me than millions of dollars and designer clothes and fancy cars.

And those discerning few who occasionally take the time to tell me I have touched them in some way?

Treasure upon which no price can be placed.

It was a beautiful thing, to find this jewel of wisdom within the depths of "Paradise Lost."

Kitty Pics and Music

This is Steve, our big, fluffy, angry-looking kitty. I'm very thankful I'm no longer allergic to cats, because I've really gotten attached to this boy since he came to live with us. It would break my heart to have to give him up, but it seems that will not happen. I'm still careful to wash my hands after playing with him, so I don't forget and rub my eye, or something stupid like that. My eyes DO still respond to cat fur in a bad way, but I can live with that, as long as it no longer bothers my lungs.
I am slowly -- VERY slowly -- getting used to this new haircut. Hubby hates it, though. Too short for his likes, but I'm liking how easy it is to take care of. There's not even enough to comb. It is, quite literally, wash and go. No fuss, no muss.
I was blessed with some quality "alone time" this morning while the family was off at church, and of course I plugged in the Tascam and got down to business. "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You" is one of my favorite Tom Waits songs, and I basically don't give a damn that it's a guy's song. I love it anyway. The man in my soul is using my voice, and I'm OK with that.

I am up to six tracks now. I sang the song in unison three times on three separate tracks, and recorded two guitar parts on two separate tracks, and added some discreet djembe action on one track. It came together pretty quickly, and I was already doing the final mix-down by the time the family came home. All in all, quite a productive morning and I am well satisfied.

Today my heart goes out to a dear friend who lost his mom earlier this year. Mother's Day will be a tough one for him to get through, I think, so he's in my thoughts and prayers even more than usual. I miss his mom, too, but my grief is nothing compared to his.

Please, God, let him not be overwhelmed by it, and make him aware of ALL the love that surrounds him...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spindle Spun Yarn - Oceania

Ever since I closed up my virtual shop, I've had a great time diving into my own yarn and fiber stash. This yarn was spindle spun from one of my own blended batts. I believe there was some blue wool and some green, both hand dyed by me, plus a bit of blue mohair I bought from someone online last year, and a bit of white silk noil top. It does remind me of ocean waves, hence the name, "Oceania."
This is probably my finest gauge 2-ply yarn ever. I began with 1.55 ounces of blended fluff and ended up with a total of 276 yards. It will, no doubt, end up being some kind of lace scarf, probably in some kind of shell or wave stitch, and if I go with a wave stitch, I made add some clear beads as well, for weight and sparkle. This could be quite the elegant piece when all is said and done.

I am still utterly gobsmacked at the amount of yardage I got. If I did the math right, that works out to approximately 178 yards PER OUNCE!

I might just have a Big E entry on my hands. It would be very cool to score a blue ribbon and/or another best of show.

I guess I'd better wash and block the skeins first, before I start fantasizing!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I told the hairdresser to take it down to a quarter of an inch. Does this look like a quarter of an inch to YOU?
It doesn't to me, either. Welcome to the wonderful world of "Oh, Sh*t, What Have I Done?"
Well, it's just hair, after all, and I do have a large collection of festive knitted caps, which will hide a multitude of mistakes.
I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I do think I now know for sure that I never want to shave my head 100%.

The oh-so-attractive discoloration on one side of my forehead is indeed a bruise. If it were Art and needed a title, I would call it "Blind Girl Unexpectedly Meets Bookshelf on a Bleary Friday Morning Just Before Work." Hurt like hell, but at least it's fading quickly.

My hubby is going to have a fit. He thought the last haircut was too short!

Lesson learned. I am going to buy my own damn clippers and mow my own head from now on.

I'm actually laughing about this, folks. It's only hair, and in three weeks' time, it will look semi-normal again. Really...