Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday Wanderings...

Wednesday is The Sheep's class night. Thus, it is also your drive-by post flung at you from a brain that is shut down from a day of teaching followed by an evening of involuntary learning. Enjoy!

*Arriving at the high school where the Professional Development Center holds the class just in time to catch the lacrosse team's post-practice snowball fight makes entering the building a whole new, exciting endeavor. And not in a good way. Those boys have throwing arms... And I am not spry.

*I am feeling just a wee bit of the guilt over the depth of my hatred for this class. The professor is awesome. She checks on on my knitting progress. When I asked her if she went to SPA she didn't think I was referring to the place with mud baths and aggressive Swedish massages. She didn't laugh at me like my staff did when I mentioned the Maine Fiber Frolic. I really should try to find the love for this course, if only for her sake. It's not her fault that I need the credits and have to be there despite my having no intentions whatsoever of being a school administrator. I'm wondering if it was the guilt that drove me to later behaviors.

*My truck continues to flash the battery light at me at irregular intervals. I patiently explained to it several times on the way home that this was not going to work with me anymore. The battery has been checked and is fine. This had no effect. My mood and the situation degenerated to the point where I found myself lecturing it in a strident and harried voice while shaking my fist threateningly. For the record, this is not generally considered socially appropriate behavior while one is parked at the local Target department store. It is, in fact, considered quite odd. I know this because of the pointing and whispering. On the plus side, I was given a rather wide berth by most shoppers entering the store and had my pick of the carts.

*I stopped off at Target to check out some jeans they had on sale. (straight leg, slightly lower rise, just enough of the lycra/spandex to hold various elements of The Sheep in place...and on sale!) While there, I had something of what I can only describe as an "episode" and ended up buying underpants. I'd managed to cull the panty herd down a bit over the school vacation and was actually able to close the underwear drawer for a week or so. However, if I've done my math correctly, I am now back to the 53 pairs that I had before the February Panty Purge. Note to self: it may be time to go on "The Google" and see what I can find in the way of support groups or twelve step programs. I clearly have some sort of disorder going on here.

*The harsh realization that I had purchased more of the underthings hit me hard once I was safely ensconced in my vehicle and apparently impaired my ability to navigate the Target parking lot. I somehow managed to end up on the loading dock. I took some comfort in the fact that, while I might be lost, I had enough underwear to see me through the next six days of being stranded by my own stupidity.

*I still have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I had hoped it was a bad dream or something. It isn't.

Maybe this is why I felt the urge to purchase a few extra pairs of clean underwear...

SA

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Smoke And Mirrors...And Pointy Things

Thanks to all for your consolation on the scratchy sweater issues. To have come so very far on the project before finally just accepting that I am allergic to this particular wool was disheartening. I've used this fiber before without problems and I don't seem to react to anything else this way. But the dry winter skin is making me all sensitive and delicate. I'm really a fragile Sheepie. I require a gentle touch...

And it's all just a distraction anyway. A means for avoiding yet another, more unpleasant little event that awaits me in the very near future. A place where the hope of a gentle touch is for naught. All you clever commenters who happened to glance at the sidebar are correct. My doom awaits. I am mere days away from that most horriblest of appointments. A thing that is worse than vegetables, scratchy wool and and regular exercise combined.

I am going to the dentist.


I never used to have a problem with the dentist. I had my share of dental interventions in my youth and came through with flying colors. I even opted on several occasions to skip the Novocaine and just tough out the fillings. It all worked out...I liked my dentist. He was a good guy who listened to a little lambie and let me make some of the decisions about how we were going to go about this stuff.

Not so with Dr. DeSade, DMD. To be fair, he is not the one who is responsible for my needing so much work on the choppers last year. That was all me. I'll own it. I let some stuff go. The root canal, the fillings, the endless rounds of x-rays, the hundreds and hundreds of dollars...all my own fault.

But, he is mean. And grumpy. And aggressive in his dentistry. And mean...did I mention, "mean?" He makes comments about the state of education and "suggestions" as to how I might be a better teacher. He likes to talk politics. He pokes me with very sharp things then invites me to disagree with his opinions. I decline each and every time. I have not had good experiences with the expression of dissension from the depths of the dental chair.

The dentist's office is not a good place for me. I get the stress. That bright light they shine on patients is not good for a middle aged complexion and makes me feel like I'm being sweated for information by third rate detectives. I take the day off from work to deal.

So now I've got an unwearable sweater and have to somehow cram six month's worth of flossing into the next two days. No problem. I can cope. I will set the alarm for hourly intervals for the next two nights and work the waxy string betwixt my choppers and see if I can't simulate a daily commitment to this most healthy of activities.

And I'll resurrect the Comfort Sock that was begun during the angst-filled days before the removal of The Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions. This soft, squishy and huggable little number is most soothing to a Sheep who is suffering from Sweater Curses and Dental Drama.





And I've already picked up the heel stitches so that whole stress-fest is over!
I'll survive. It's only the dentist, after all. But I can't promise that I will be a brave little soldier. I will spend some quality time chewing on that hangnail that I always gnaw on when the going gets tough. I will force my staff to listen to endless tales of dentist visits past and will reenact the root-canal-without-painkillers experience until they can mouth the dialogue along with me. I will frighten the children in my class with cautionary tales of the dentist and there will probably be phone calls from irate parents who have to sit up with their nightmaring offspring. I will make the usual promises to lay off the Mountain Dew and caramels in order that I might appease the Dental Deities.
None of these things really work and I'm just lying about the soda and candy. I'll be picking them up on the way back from the dentist's office and noshing until I'm sick. But I am a creature of habit and I'll revert to the little rituals despite their lack of any real effectiveness. What else can you do, really?
I'll go. But I don't have to like it. And I'm bringing the knitting needles. In a truly fair fight, both combatants get sharp, pointy things.
I wonder if the good doctor would like a sweater? I happen to have a nice scratchy one here that might go nicely with his chairside manner...
SA

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Truth Hurts

Your humble Sheep is rather good at denial. I've elevated it to an art form. I am the one who can cheerfully maneuver around the proverbial elephant in the room without missing a step. Give me a situation that is unpleasant or unwanted and I will ignore it until it is impossible to do so for another minute. From bad job situations to haircuts gone awry, I've smiled the blissful "this is just not happening" smile through all of them.

But sometimes, you have to face things. Some truths are just bound and determined to slap you upside the head repeatedly until you give in and admit that they exist. I've taken a couple of truth-hits over the last twenty-four hours and, while I will be the better for acknowledging them, I have to say that denial was a much more pleasant state.

Stupid truth.

Painful Truth The First: Two weeks away from the bike, weights and step machine make for a difficult Monday workout.

I have a few rules around the workouts. Odd though they may be, they work for me. One of these rules is that I don't try to exercise while I'm sick. There is some wiggle room here, but, in general, if I'm not feeling well then I take that as a sign from the body that it needs a break. The week before school vacation I had the Squirrel Pox. There were no workouts. Another rule is that school vacations are also workout-free. I can't exactly apply this to the summer vacation. That's a bit of a lengthy stretch. But the random week that pops up here and there throughout the school year is a freebie. And I get to eat a lot of chocolate. I like those vacation breaks. But when you combine the sick break with the school break then you get two weeks off from exercising. Today's return to the routine was horrific. It felt endless. There was a creaking sound that I fear may have come from my knees. I may have actually been sweating chocolate and Mountain Dew as this has comprised much of my diet over the last week or so. I'm sure that it will get better. But, for the moment, I am full of the aches and the pains and wishing that toning and aerobicizing came in pill form.

Painful Truth The Second: The Sweater Curse Continues.

I had to come to a harsh realization last night. One that I have really been aware of for some time now. I just didn't want to admit it. I've been knitting this sweater. I have hummed along with few errors and had naught but the seaming left to complete. This would have been the first sweater successfully completed since starting the blog and was to have broken what I have come to think of as the Blog Induced Sweater Curse. (pre-blog it seems that I was perfectly capable of knitting sweaters...not so much lately) But every time I knit on this thing, I get hives. Not metaphorical hives referenced in a joking manner to illustrated a high degree of stress. Real hives. On my forehead or upper lip. I can ignore it no longer. I am having a reaction to the wool. I will admit that my choice of yarn for this project was a poor one. I spun this Lincoln Longwool a couple of summers ago with no problem and have used it before without getting all puffy. It is fairly scratchy, but it was what I had on hand in an amount that would work for the project so I figured I'd give it a go.

But I had to finally give in last night despite having made it nearly to the finish line. If I can't even knit this thing, how on earth am I ever going to be able to wear it??? The time has come to step out of the darkness of denial and into the harsh light of truth: the sweater is a bust. I give up. The white flag is waving and I'm back to knitting on the sock.

I'm not giving up entirely, though. There are a few new yarns nestled in various corners of The Sheep household these days and I think that I can still pull off a sweater. This curse will be broken and there will be a picture of a sweater in the sidebar of this blog or I will die trying! (overly dramatic, perhaps...but I need to work up a bit of a frenzy here if I'm gonna get my sweater groove on.) It just won't be the scratchy, hive inducing Boxy Jacket.

The truth may hurt, but your sweater shouldn't.

SA

Sunday, February 25, 2007

On With The Show!

When the story of The Sheep is finally told (and I'm sure it will, albeit in a venue that is off, off, off Broadway, at best) it will feature a show-stopping musical number complete with scantily clad dancers wearing top hats and waving sparklers. The song to which they will tip their hats and shower the audience with sparks will be my own personal theme song: But I Have An Excuse..."

As is typical of me right before a school vacation week, I made many plans for how I might better my life and residential circumstances during the time away from work. There was to be scouring, sweeping, scrubbing and sanitizing. By week's end, I had all intentions of living in the condominium version of an operating theater. And that's pretty darned clean.

And, as is also typical of me, I did very little of the cleaning. There were a few half-hearted swipes around various household surfaces with damp rags and dust removal products. I think I may have swept once. And I vividly recall swishing some bleachy substance around the toilet bowl, but that could have been a dream. I'm not really sure...

It is always the same: I fritter away the week then spend the Sunday before returning to my life of toil frantically attempting to achieve something vaguely resembling "tidy" while the clock ticks down. But...I have an excuse. Honest. I really do. There are many people in my life who, upon hearing this familiar refrain, will have already begun shaking their heads sadly at this point.

But not you guys. You'll understand. You're cool that way.

I mean, how the heck is one supposed to be attending to the swabbing of the decks when one's spinning mojo has returned? I'm not made of stone, here! When one kicks off their week of vacation with a trip to the vendor room at SPA, what do you think is going to happen??? Am I supposed to return to hearth and home with a bag full of the happiness then set it aside so that I can make the house smell like artificial lemons?

I say, "NO!" There must be spinning. There must be the fondling of the fibers and the sniffing of the yarns. There must be the putting off of the oil change in the truck until the very end of the week just so that the spinning can continue uninterrupted for as long as possible. There shall be a lack of groceries and a certain odor to the unattended litter box. The wheel and the spindle shall reign supreme over all that is domestic and disinfected. So say I and so it be.

Thus, I give you the fruits of my labors over the past week:





From left to right: Shire Blend in progress on the spindle; 2 oz. black lump of spindle spun; 12 oz. of a very soft mystery fiber that awaits the plying.
I may be living in squalor, but I'm OK with that. Clean is overrated. Being exposed to a little of the bacteria can only kick my immune system up a notch. I'll be a healthier Sheep for letting the mold cultures cultivate just a bit longer.
There was a bit 'o the knittin' but not as much as I'd hoped. The sweater that I'd slated for completion this week got a bit sidetracked when it refused to behave and had to be sent to time out for blocking. The collar is now laying flat so it was worth the time spent, but this put me a bit behind schedule. To fill the empty hours, I knit a bit on my latest sock as I'd like to get past the gussets before class on Wednesday. That way I can bring it along and just knit mindlessly in the round while I think of all the other things I'd rather be doing with my life. The drop stitch scarf has had a little growth spurt, but not in a good way. I have somehow managed to add to its width in addition to its length. I blame the garage knitting. Taking it to visit with the mechanics during the oil change on Friday may have been a mistake. How else does one explain the screwing up of the most simple of patterns except to say that the fumes from all the rubber and gasoline were killing off my brain cells?
All in all, though, it was a lovely vacation week and I am currently exploring careers that will allow me to sit at home and knit ever-widening scarves for a living. I think that is my calling, really. Me on the couch, cartoons blaring in the background, cats cavorting in the foreground, fiber everywhere...
It would make a great closing number for Sheep: The Musical!
SA

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sheepie's Little Helpers

I'm an independent old cuss...or so I've been told. But even the most dedicated loners amongst us are grateful for the little elves that like to help out from time to time. Of course, there is that level of assistance that is less than helpful, however well intentioned...

After re-knitting the cursed collar on the almost-flung-across-the-room-in-disgust sweater, I learned a little something about myself. I could have lived the rest of my life without having to deal with this revelation, but epiphanies come whether you are in a receptive mood or not sometimes. My latest little life lesson is this: I bind off tightly. Even when I don't mean to. Even when I am actively trying to bind off loosely. And with some fibers, this means a very, very curly collar. Very. Very. Curly.

Before making a third attempt at this small, but vital part of the garment, I decided to try some aggressive blocking. I pinned out the offending collar on the ironing board, soaked it, steamed it with the iron and even pressed it with the aforementioned block of hot metal. That collar was screaming for mercy by the time I was done with it, lemme tellya! I then left it to sit and think about its behavior and make better decisions for the future. Apparently, someone took this as a sign to step in and monitor the situation.







Do you see the sweater? No you do not. She has the situation covered.
There was no moving the Big, Fluffy Kitty. Hysterical Mind, ever concerned with the possibility of poking, flapped her arms and made dire predictions with regard to the pins finding their way to her fluffy hindquarters, all to no avail. When Persephone decides she is going to help, she is helping and heaven forbid anyone get in her way.
There was also a little of the helpful stuff awaiting me in the mailbox this morning. And this was the good kind of helpful! My blogging circle includes those who would help keep the fiber fire alive here at Sheepish Annie's House Of Hobbies. I mentioned earlier this week that there are some new Etsy stores that were calling my name and the fruits of my on-line shopping labors arrived at the same time.

This should help keep a Sheep out of trouble for a while...
The Samurai Knitter is now sharing her hand-dyed yarns with the world in her on-line store and I was lucky enough to get in there early and snag some very spring-like yarn. The colors make me think of the grass in summer and might just shake a bit of the winter blahs from my brain.
Right around the same time as I was perusing the sock yarns, I got a little heads-up from my favorite fiber pusher. It seems that Anne's store had quietly opened its virtual doors before the official grand opening. Wooly Wonka is due to be fully stocked soon, but there are some delightful things there in the here and now. That includes The Shire blend that found its way to my home and is currently residing on and near my new spindle. To say that this is merely a "pretty" fiber would be an insulting understatement. It is a luscious blend of angora bunny, alpaca, silk and just a touch of angelina...I wandered around hugging it for the better part of an hour.
These are two stops that I highly recommend in your Internet wanderings. Anne's store is linked in the sidebar and I hope to have Julie's up by the end of the weekend. Both are worth the trip even if you simply want to gaze upon the fibery goodness and make plans for your income tax refund...just sayin'!
And now it seems that "the help" would like to be fed. By that I mean the feline assistants that reside here in my home. I'm pretty sure that Anne and Julie know how to operate can openers all by themselves. And that they probably eat a far more balanced and healthy diet than they would get around here anyway.
But the ones who live here need me for the filling of the bowls. And I shudder to think what kind of "help" they might decide to provide should I slack in that duty...
SA

Friday, February 23, 2007

"W" Stands For Wrong.

I'll admit that I have a few behaviors and beliefs that are a bit left of center. I have a disturbingly short list of Sheep Approved foods and rarely change my daily menu. I obsess endlessly and publicly over the smallest of disruptions in my life. I believe that the zombies will one day arise and attack.

There are those who claim that I am just a couple of quirks shy of a tin foil hat but I believe that they just haven't learned to appreciate my unique character. And I would never wear a tin foil hat. Silver is not a good color on me. I find that it makes me look sallow. Should I ever take the full ride to crazy, I will do so with a glowing complexion.

I'll admit that clinging to odd belief systems can lead to judgement errors. Sometimes it really is best to march to the beat of the collective drummers. But, it doesn't always work out that way.

Just the other day it was reported on the local news that zombies were fleeing a burning factory a mere town away from my current locale. The fact that they were filming a movie was not lost on me. (they do that every once in a while around here...) But, I am viewing the whole thing as a training exercise and a generally good thing for the community.

I have believed for some time now that my truck is sentient and something of a needy, whiny, fussy baby. It will periodically and pathetically flash pictures of various engine-y type things at me in what I have come to believe is a childish bid for attention. I don't blame it really. I am not the best of vehicle owners. I am known to let oil changes lapse and no car of mine has any real hope of regular washings. But I refuse to be held hostage by a hunk of metal. I am using the 'tough love" method of vehicle maintenance and do not always respond to it's histrionics. Eventually, the lights will go out and the truck will behave itself.

This, however, is often the cause of great distress on the part of those fine gentleman who are responsible for the care 'n repair of my truck. They are great believers in the lights and see deep meaning in them. So, despite my better judgement, I opted to mention the fact that the battery light has been on lately and they eagerly agreed to test the it for me. There was almost a giddy atmosphere amongst the mechanics this morning when I came in for my scheduled oil change.

"She's really going to let us do this...we should get a cake or something!!!"

"Wait! I need to call my mom; she's never going to believe I was actually here for this!"

"Dude...are you crying?"

"::sniff:: No, I just have something in my eye. Can't a guy have something in his eye without everyone making a federal case about it?"


The battery was tested with great fanfare. And it is fine. Never before in the history of battery tests has there ever been a battery with such charge and strength of battery-ness. It is the king of all batteries. The other cars all had battery envy. I was not wrong.

Thus, when I stood yet again at the service desk, flapping my arms and crying out in a strident voice that my truck is psychotic, I didn't get the usual pitying looks from the five assembled mechanics. There were actually a few nods and chuckles. I didn't get any of the cake, either...

But I wasn't wrong.

In knitting patterns, a W followed by an S stands for "wrong side." As in, "pick up the stitches for the collar on your almost completed sweater from the wrong side or your collar will be inside out." Pity I didn't catch that. Might've saved me some time. And a little bit of dignity.

Turns out The Sheep can still manage to pull off some of the wrong even on a day when she has scored a whole lotta right.

SA

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hrrumph...

The Great Drop Spindle Experiments of '07 have gone swimmingly to date. I found a spindle that appeared to have been crafted with just this Sheep in mind, discovered that I can, in fact make yarn happen on a spindle and was even able to successfully spin singles in front of live witnesses without the whole kit 'n kaboodle crashing to the floor and rolling away under some random piece of furniture. All good. I didn't get cocky or anything, though. I've had enough fiber-related drama in my life to know that it is in my best interest to keep a little of the healthy skepticism on hand just in case. But things were going well enough that it was not unreasonable to think that I might have a real, live skein of yarn on my hands in the near future.

Spindling is one thing. Plying is another altogether...

There was the tangling of the singles, the places where they barely clung to one another let alone resembled anything that could really be called, "plied" and, finally, the inevitable breakage. I did, however manage to get enough so that I could pull together an eenie-weenie widdle skein for your viewing pleasure:






Black wool shows off this yarn's plying in the best possible way...poorly.
But, if we all just remember that this is the first yarn I've completed on a spindle in at least five years, then I think we can call it acceptable. I made it to about the half-way mark before one of the singles decided to give up the ghost so I have a bit further to travel on this learning curve before I can honestly say that I have completed my first of the spindly-spun. But I'm still taking a little bow for my efforts to date. In my humblest of opinions, it ain't half bad!
There has been a bit of other fiber related activity as well. The Boxy Jacket now has completed bands and hems and the collar has been picked up if not knit. Next up: setting in the sleeves. This never goes well... You can all settle in for some sleeve-related ranting in the very near future, I fear. I'm also thinking that this garment might be just a bit on the small side. I'm a horrible judge of my own size so I may be going all angsty for naught, but I'm not really seeing the "boxy" in this sweater. In fact, it is really looking a bit more "fitted" and that was not our agreement when I cast on for this. And, if you recall, I began the project as a way of breaking the "I Started A Blog And Now I Can't Seem To Knit Sweaters Anymore" curse. While there have been no real issues with this knit thus far, I can't help but wonder if this is really going to be the sweater that shatters this curse. In the end, it may still prove the rule, I fear.
I'm not going to think about it. I'm going to think about my mediocre spindle-spun yarn that is blocking in the shower. That makes me happy...
SA

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Have Spindle, Will Travel.

Last night, The Sheep wore shoes after 7:00 in the pm. and headed out to Chicks With Sticks night at the invitation of the ever-gracious Noolie. As an added incentive to the shoe-wearing, there was a guest knitter on the program that I've been wanting to meet for a while now: Brenda! I caught sight of her while I was spending my cat's inheritance at SPA but was unable to successfully negotiate my way through the hordes in order to introduce myself. I was thrilled to learn that she would be in attendance!

For those of you keeping track of my social life these days, that's two trips outside of my home where I actually interacted with others in a somewhat acceptable manner in the space of four days.

However, it became clear to me yesterday morning that I would need a good traveling project. I have a couple of things going on right now, but both are at that stage where the knitting techniques required are akin to adjustin' yer thong: best done in private. Too much risk of the horrified stares and mutters of, "what the heck does she think she's doing there???"

I quickly cast on for a drop stitch scarf. That I can manage publicly. The downside of this strategy was that I got to sit and knit my humble scarf while those around me had their needles flying around complex projects that required math and spelling skills. I hadn't thought of that...

Fortunately, Brenda emailed me earlier in the day and asked if I might be willing to bring my new spindle for her to see. Thus, I was able to redeem myself a bit by showing off my mad spindling skills and have a brief moment of coolness before returning to my sad little scarf hanging from the gigantic, clown-like needles.

This being a vacation week for my Sheepie self, I have made some genuine progress with the spindle. I wound off a goodly length of ply #1 yesterday by whirling it on the ball winder.




OK..."goodly amount" is a relative term, I realize. But it is about half the fiber with which I was working.
When I'm finished with the second lot, I'll wind that into a nice center-pull ball then ply the two. I have no earthly idea just how much of it will be usable given that this is the first yarn I've spindle-spun in at least five years, but I imagine that some of it will pass muster. I hope...I've been babbling on about this spindle since it followed me home and I feel that I at least owe you all a picture of the yarn just for your kind attention to the whole thing.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on the school vacation time. Today represents the half-way mark and the downhill slide back to workdom. As is usual, I did not do nearly as much as I'd hoped and spent far more dollars than I'd planned. But, there are still a couple more days to be fiddled with so perhaps I'll surprise myself by actually finishing something on the To Be Knit list. There is still a glimmer of hope for a finished sweater, although that is going rather slowly now that I am a spinner again. Let's not even discuss the sock...
It's all that socializing. How's a Sheep supposta get anything done when she's all out on the town all the time? I really must slow down!
SA

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Can Admit When I'm Wrong.

This isn't the first time I've had to suck it up and admit to having been wrong. Just a few short months ago, I was forced to humbly apologize to the entire sock yarn industry and acknowledge that there is, in fact, such a thing as "good" sock yarn. Good things come from owning your misconceptions. Now I have nicer socks.

Yeah...I make mistakes all the time. Like that dark chocolate/chipotle candy bar that I bought because it was on the half price-post-Valentine's Day table. That was a judgement error. And one that I continue to pay for after having consumed it last night. But that's another story and one that you probably don't want any details on...

Today's humbling confession is to the makers of fine drop spindles. Like many new spinners, the drop spindle was my first introduction to the world of yarn production. I found a kit on Ebay and was seduced by the reasonable price. And it was an economical way to get a handle on the whole concept of spinning, but one that I quickly cast aside in favor of a wheel. This just wasn't for me, I boldly stated. It took too long, was hard to control and the results were just not what I was looking for. Frankly, I never really saw the appeal.

Except that drop spindles are awfully pretty... And they call to you when you see them at fiber events. And, even if you aren't a spindler, you may find yourself purchasing one for far more than you originally cared to spend. You tell yourself that it is "fiber art" and that it will make a lovely decorative item in the home.

And then you spin with it. And you "get it." It is a poor craftsman who blames her tools, but that original spindle that I bought years ago was not good. Not good at all. A good spindle will make good yarn, even if you lack developed skills. Sorry about the earlier attitude, spindle makers. My bad. You are good and talented folk who just want us all to make yarn wherever we may be.

My first stop at SPA this weekend was at Amy's booth and I just couldn't resist this spindle. I've been fiddling with it off and on for days and am just agog over how smoothly it spins. I honestly didn't think I wanted a top whorl spindle, but clearly this should have been my tool of choice in the first place. Now, I don't claim that this is my best spinning. In fact, it lacks anything remotely resembling consistency and I fear that there are places where the fiber is so thin that spiders would turn up their noses at it and call it too insubstantial. But it is, by far, the best spindling I've ever done.







And yes, that is a binder clip on my lovely Greensleeves Spindle. That's a trick that goes back to my early spinning days and it works quite nicely. It's just not all that aesthetically pleasing...
My wheel has also been active these days. All those fiber fumes from Saturday have gotten into my system wicked bad and I just can't seem to stop playing with the wool. The "mystery fiber" that I dyed a couple of weekends ago continues to please me and I'm hoping that I can finish up the bulk of it over the school vacation.

Bobbin #2 is filling up speedily.
I'm a happy Sheepie! However there is a downside to all this spinnage: my thumb is a-throbbin'! I have very tight tendons in my left thumb and it is permanently bent at a somewhat odd angle. Drafting for long periods can cause the cramping. But, I have found a pretty handy solution to that little problem. I share it with all the other middle-agers out there who have discovered that they are now capable of injuring themselves through the most sedate of activities. Sheila over at Ewenique Fiber recently updated her shop to include her new line of Tread Lightly Herbals. One of her products is a bunion balm designed to relieve foot pain. She also recommended it for the knuckles. I ordered some thinking that it might be a nice alternative to some of the more commercial remedies for pain and find it to be incredibly soothing after a day of spinning or knitting. It also softens the hands and feet amazingly well! These are also good things when you've been on the planet for a few years, lemme tellya! Sheila has also been great about answering questions I had about the product and her shipping time rivals any business out there. So now you can not only get your wool and knitting patterns at Ewenique Fiber, but also the soft and pain-free hands. Nice!!!
This is good because I have a disturbing amount of fiber to spin right now as well as more of the sock yarn that I bought during a SPA-induced blackout. And then I found these new Etsy stores...these purchases may also prove to have been errors in the financial sense. But it is my vacation.
And I'm having a really good vacation!!
SA

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Quirky Kinda Post

Had you entered The Sheep household today, you might have been tempted to take my pulse or administer chest compressions. There was little in the way of life signs. Yesterday's big outing required of me that I rest and recover for I am a delicate creature who really needs a fainting couch of some sort if I am going to pull this off effectively. I made the grievous error of purchasing an on-line computer game and have been staring at the screen for hours with glazed eyes and lowered pulse. Desdemona took over the spinning chair again so I wasn't able to whirl the wool and the sweater seaming has taken something of an ugly turn. Nothing that couldn't be corrected, but enough that I opted to set it aside for a while.

And I napped. I have little to show for the this day.

So it seems like the day to respond to a tagging. Kate, for reasons that are simply unfathomable to me, thought I might be able to think of 10 quirky things about myself that were worth sharing. I mean, really...me? Quirky? I don't know where she gets this... But, I shall oblige for I am nothing if not a gracious player.

The challenging part of this was trying to think of things that I haven't already blathered on about ad nauseum to the blogging community at-large. There will be some "repeats" here, I'm afraid. But I think I can come up with a few new things about my life that were previously shrouded in mystery. (and probably should have stayed that way...)

10 Quirky Things About Me:

* We all know that I am the world's pickiest eater and that I pretty much live on frozen pepperoni pizza. However, every once in a while, I get a cattle call. I suspect that it is a protein issue, but I have to eat hamburgers. For days. And days. I know when it's time for the hamburgers because the cat food starts to smell kinda good.

*I cannot leave my condo or my car unless I go back and check to see if the door is locked. If I leave home without checking, I will drive back. If this is impossible, then I will obsess all day long over whether I have locked the door.

*I can quote directly from the original Scooby Doo cartoons. No one will watch them with me. I can also sing along with the music because I bought the Scooby Doo Snack Trax CD and learned the words to the songs.

*I have watched far too many zombie movies and have developed something of an obsession with them. If I leave or arrive at home in the dark, I cannot exit the vehicle without checking for the walking dead. I have a plan for how to elude them should they begin shambling towards me. I am also knowledgeable enough to know that I am throwing around the word "zombie" somewhat loosely. A true zombie is actually under the control of another. What I really fear are the dead resurrected through some horrid scientific misstep. But we all get what I mean...

*I cannot abide having my shoelaces tied unevenly. There must be equal pressure on both feet. I will re-tie them as many times as is necessary to achieve foot symmetry.

*I cannot stand having my feet touched, my big toe in particular. Baby Brother Sheep used to torture me by simply grabbing my big toe. I have to tip outrageously when I get a pedicure due to all the kicking. Sometimes I just randomly think about breaking my big toe and am freaked out for an hour or so.

* I often precede statements with the word, "truthfully." Oddly enough, I tend to do this more right before I tell a gi-normous lie.

*I read most magazines and newspapers backwards.

*I am right-handed but write with a strong backslant. Anyone who sees my handwriting thinks that I am a leftie.

*I cannot stand the sound of someone whistling. It drives me utterly batty. I've had to leave stores because someone was whistling a jaunty tune. This is odd because I tend to whistle when I say the "s" sound. I sometimes drive my own self nutty.

Hmmm...that was actually easier than I thought. Perhaps I do have one or two little quirks going on over here. But, I am sure they are really all quite endearing. Denial is another one of my quirks.

As is my usual practice, I put this one out there for anyone who has the urge to do it. I really enjoyed the "6 Weird Things" posts so I'll be looking for this one when I'm blog surfing. I always somehow feel a bit better about my own little oddities when I see that others have a few of their own.

I'm hoping that the energy level picks up a bit around here. Normally this is the day where I prepare myself for the week ahead by ironing clothes, packing up some healthy snacks and girding my loins for another five days of teaching the masses. Today is a little different, though. With all the SPA, Mole Removal and Squirrel Pox going on I may have neglected to mention that I am free of my teaching responsibilities for the next week. That's right: I'm on vacation!!!! I can watch cartoons, knit and eat half-price, leftover valentines candy to my heart's content! There is a down-side, though...

Me 'n my quirks have a whole week to hang out and annoy each other.

SA

Saturday, February 17, 2007

It Is Never Simple...

The scene in The Sheep household early this morning:

The Sheep is awakened by the inner dialogue that she has come to dread. It is the voices of Hysterical Mind and Rational Mind and their bickering signals the beginning of some new conflict that will make no sense to the outside world on any real level. She settles back under the covers to wait out the war and bow to the wishes of the victor.

Rational Mind: C'mon!! Up and at 'em! We've got places to go, people to see...the day awaits!

Hysterical Mind: (muffled and sleepy) ...don' wanna!

RM: Let's go!!!!! We are going to SPA today and I want to get there right when the vendors are opening. That's not going to happen if we go through our usual morning "wakey-wakey drama." Move it!

HM: Nooooooooooo....

RM: Oh for crying out loud! What is the problem?

HM: We have a cold. We shouldn't be out with a cold. Let's just stay in bed.

RM: The cold is better. And I want a navajo spindle. Get up. Now.

HM: I think we have leprosy. I saw a dry patch on our forehead last night. Going out with leprosy would be irresponsible....

RM: I'm sensing a deeper issue, here. And I don't care. Get up.

HM: (pauses, then says in low tones) It is my understanding that there will be people there.

RM: Yes, yes there will be people there. And we have told many of those people that we are going. Thus, I repeat...get up!!!

HM: You know I don't do well with "others." I get all, well..."hysterical." People think we are like we are on the blog! We aren't always like that! We aren't all that witty when we don't have a delete key. You have seen how I act under pressure! It doesn't go well. I make fart jokes for god sakes!!! Our last post was a fart post...do you honestly think I will be able to keep from farting once I realize that I have mocked farts and can never fart again???? Let's just stay home and watch cartoons like we usually do. It'll be fun. I'll mix up some Nyquil/Mountain Dew cocktails and we can fritter away the day.

RM: Aren't you the one who is always saying that we will one day be kidnapped by eco-terrorists and that no one will notice we are missing for weeks? You actually went on for days about how they would probably force feed us flax seed and acorns. Meeting people is a good thing. The more people who know us, the faster we are missed, get our face on that milk carton and keep the seed eating to a minimum.

HM: I'll wait it out and make friends with the eco-terrorists. I'm sure that they are just misunderstood. Living in a tree won't be that bad...

RM: I am so not kidding here...we are going. We have a plan and we are sticking to it. We are now officially fifteen minutes behind schedule and I am cutting off your supply of chocolate and cold medications if you do not suck it up and get with the program!!


It all went on for a while. HM did, in fact, get out of bed. But the concerns with regard to social behavior continued to rear their ugly heads throughout the morning grooming routine. In the end. RM was able to negotiate the outing successfully by promising HM that she didn't have to talk to anyone that she didn't want to and that she could live in her protective social bubble for the entire event if necessary. RM, normally the fiscally responsible one of the bunch, was itching to spend some cash on spinning supplies and was not going to be deterred by HM's mild social anxiety.

In the end, we almost had a little problem that kept us in the dooryard for the day. I happened to notice that one of my tires was looking a little soft. Mushy, actually. Fortunately, this is easily dealt with as I am a single gal from waaaay back and know that a girl's best friend is her tire pressure gauge. I also know how to use the air machine at the local 7/11 so the tire was restored to its round and solid glory in short order. Daddy Sheep is just glowing with paternal pride right now, I'm sure. That glow would diminish a bit should he ever realize how low I'd allowed that tire to get...but we'll just keep that between us, OK?

Me 'n my warring brain cells arrived at the Doubletree Hotel with only one wrong turn to our credit and we were suddenly in The Promised Land!!! There were spinning wheels and fibers as far as the eye could see! There were also spinners and fiber enthusiasts as far as the eye could see. HM's concerns with regard to having to socialize on any level were quickly put to rest as light chit-chat was simply impossible in the small vendor room. HM was also rather excited by all the pretty colors and textures and soon began giddily zipping about from booth to booth in order that she might leave behind a trail of cash and credit card slips. RM fought bravely at the reins, determined to seek out the desired navajo spindle before all cash was spent on sheep earrings, sheep tape measures, sheep necklaces, sheep mugs and other sheep related items that HM found amusing.

Despite the hummingbird approach, I was able to connect with Amy for a brief moment at her booth. I also made a point of checking in with Susan from Goose Pond as I've wanted to commend her on her amazing customer service for some time now. I then ran into Noolie, who is one of the few knit bloggers who knows me in real life and can pierce my undercover status at fiber events. This was a good thing as she reminded me about Tuesday night's Chicks With Sticks meeting. I'd put that on the calendar for this week then forgot about it during the bout with the Squirrel Pox/Horrid Cold. I'm glad that she reminded me as I've got a sock in progress that has just been clamouring for a field trip.

The navajo spindle, however, eluded me. I guess that will just have to stay on the shopping list for a while longer. There were one or two other purchases...well, maybe just a bit more than that. My only excuse is that, like many people, I don't live in a world where purchasing spinning supplies means just a quick detour on the way home. Heck, I don't even have a conveniently located LYS at this point! So to be able to actually fondle the fibers rather than seeing them on a computer monitor before hitting "add to cart" was a true luxury! What can I say? I am weak...







Persephone examines the day's loot and the reason why she will need financial aid if she is to attend that ivy league school she's been looking at.


Desdemona, who long ago accepted that her education comes in a sorry second to Mommy's fiber obsession, does not even wake up when posed with the new drop spindle.

In the end, both RM and HM were pleased with the day's activities and were rewarded for their good behavior with a nice nap when we arrived back at the homestead. There has also been a bit of the spindling throughout the afternoon. Not great spindling, mind you. But, I am pleased to report that a good spindle actually does wonders for my spinning and I'm thinking I might actually be better at this than I thought I was. I put away the drop spindle years ago and have spun on a wheel ever since. I think I might see why people use those simple little tools, though. A good quality spindle really makes all the difference...

And that, my friends, is my SPA Knit And Spin report for 2007. I'm sure that others will be able to give a more coherent account and I hope that having a year's experience under my belt will give me a less adrenalin-fueled view of the event in 2008!

And, by then, I may have even spun or knit half of what I acquired today...

SA

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Shot Heard 'Round The World.

Some days are memorable in that they are just the epitome of foolish. There are a myriad of perplexing events that just boggle the mind in their utter senselessness. Some are created by your own absent-mindedness, others just happen and you have the misfortune to be present. Either way, you can't help but end the day shaking your head and wondering if there is a deeper meaning in it all or if you are just the subject of some cosmic reality show.

I awoke this morning feeling a bit better, but still sneezing and snuffling with the Squirrel Pox symptoms. Any hopes of a second snow day were dashed early on and I resigned myself to a full day back at the educational salt mines. My foggy state did not exactly make the morning preparations easier and I really didn't give myself enough time to get the truck cleaned off and prepared to navigate the still icy roads. I discovered that the lower half my windshield had been coated with enough snow that it resisted the sleet that ended our little weather event yesterday. The upper half was encrusted with ice that was utterly impervious to my ice scraper. I lowered the seat as far as possible and headed out, hoping that my half-view of the world would be enough until the defrosters did their job.

I then stopped off for gas. For some reason, though, my debit card was not being accepted at the pumps. I made several attempts, but my PIN number was rejected each time. Finally, the helpful display screen suggested that I go in and deal directly with the cashier. It was then that I realized I was using the wrong credit card. I was denied all further attempts at credit card purchases. I fled the pumps in shame, leaving my gas cap off and dangling in the breezes. I discovered this later at the gas station on the highway where I was more than willing to pay ten cents more per gallon for the privilege of being anonymous. I also used that time to finish clearing the windshield. I figured, I was already late at this point, so I might as well arrive at school alive.

Once at school, things failed to improve. The day off yesterday did little to boost anyone's morale and between the hours of eight and noon, I was informed every hour on the hour that another one of my students was in the office for one misbehavior or another. I went down and rescued the first one. I was still feeling somewhat pleasant at that point. The rest were on their own.

It all came to a head just before lunch. This was when my day just went south for good. There was no coming back from it.

I was working with one of my students in his regular classroom (he tends to do rather badly when I am not there to glare at him) and it was apparent that he has the same cold that has been plaguing me these days. I offered to get him some tissues from my classroom as they are the nice, soft kind that will not scratch his tender little nose. He gratefully accepted. I set him up with his assignment and promised to return quickly. I was a mere five feet from the door when I heard it. This sound. It had the "blatting" quality of a klaxon and could, perhaps have been a chair roughly scraped across the floor at a bad angle. I had but a moment to think, "gosh, I hope no one thinks that came from me" before the students in the class began groaning and crying out the name of the classroom teacher in accusatory tones. It was the sounding of the Southern Horn, A Gastric Greeting, A Fruit Toot...

The teacher had farted.

Now, I don't mean to dwell on unpleasantries here and hate that I might offend my loyal readers. I also don't want to come across all judgemental. I mean, who among us has not played a solo on the tushy trumpet at an unfortunate moment? But, gosh 'n fishes, no human being should ever make a noise like that and still be alive when its last note has finished reverberating! This was unlike anything I have ever heard. It fairly cried out for the intervention of a specialist of some sort. This was just not normal!!!!! The only other possible explanation is that the poor teacher, trapped by yesterday's blizzard, was forced to cobble together meals with only the broccoli, burritos and popcorn that was on hand.

I left the teacher to pick up what shreds of dignity remained to be gathered and deal with the class as best as was possible under the circumstances while I went about my tissue errand. I then stood in my own classroom for several minutes wondering if it would be wrong to just never go back and leave the poor student with the drippy nose to fend for himself. To face the teacher who had just shared such a personal gastric moment with so many seemed uncomfortable, to say the least. I'm ashamed to admit that it was a near thing. But, in the end, I did go back. The poor, intestinally challenged educator had managed to regain control of the class and I simply avoided all eye contact for the remainder of the day.

The situation was revisited after recess when one of my fifth graders returned to class to report that he had gotten further information on "all that teacher farting." It seems that it has been an issue all week in that classroom. I guess I was just lucky to have been in the right place at the right time today...

On the positive side, it seems that it was one of those magical farts that you sometimes hear about. My cold symptoms have steadily improved throughout the day and it is looking like I will be able to catch a few hours at SPA Knit And Spin on Saturday! It was looking doubtful for a while there, but I'm really feeling much better tonight so I'm calling it a "go." If you happen to catch sight of me, please do say, "hi." I'll be fairly easy to spot. Just look for the lady who is clearly at her first ever fiber event and overwhelmed by the joy of it all.

And it is entirely possible that I will be telling fart jokes.

SA

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow Day!!!!!

The view outside my window:





Not much...just white. Lots and lots of white.
And inside:

Not much...just napping. Lots and lots of napping.
Courtesy of the blizzard conditions, The Sheep did, in fact, get her snow day. There would have been a happy dance around the living room upon seeing the sought out school district flashing across the TV screen, but the killer kold symptoms (aka Squirrel Pox) kept everything pretty low key.
There were a few issues early on. The Squirrel Pox continues to wreak havoc with my sinuses and I am unable to open my eyes fully at this point. I am going into periodic sneezing fits which are not good for middle aged women who are currently consuming lots and lots of fluids. I also slept rather poorly last night as I have managed to blow my nostrils into total and complete inflammation and am now a mouth-breather/self-waking snorer.
To further complicate matters, The Big Fluffy Kitty and her Smaller, Less Fluffy Counterpart had great difficulty managing the low pressure system. Acting as my own personal Weather Pixies, they alerted me regularly throughout the night that a storm was a-comin'. There was much in the way of howling, pouncing and general irritability.
The whole situation escalated this morning during a disagreement over who would get to sit on the edge of the bathtub. This was not the normal posturing. There was actual rearing up and the swiping with claws extended. Blood was shed. Not much, but enough that I had to have a serious discussion with my roomies about the need to be respectful of each other's space. Persephone, the injured party, retreated to my room where she bled on my bedspread so it would match the carpet stains before seeing fit to clot. It was a small wound and a big lesson with regard to teasing her older sister. I have been a diligent Mommy today giving lots of comforting hugs and snuggles to The Big, Fluffy Kitty. She reciprocated by overseeing my nap today and making sure that I stayed in top snoozing form.
And, yes, there was knitting! I have finished the sleeve and hemmed all sweater pieces. I was originally somewhat confused as to why I needed to do this before assembling the garment, but there is something to be said for reading the entire pattern through. It all makes sense to me now and I am complacently following the directions as written. Someone should really tell all the knitters about that strategy...maybe write a book or something.
And now, it seems that the snowplows have arrived and are looking for a certain Sheep to move her truck so they can remove a bit of snow from her parking place. Thus, I will bid you a pleasant afternoon (or whatever time it is when you read this.) and take my Squirrel Pox on a little field trip to the great outdoors. I do hope it enjoys the scenery and all...
Even a snow day with the sickness makes for a pretty happy Sheep, it seems.
SA


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All The News That's Fit To Print...

After last night's rather graphic and whiny posting with regard to my ongoing cold symptoms, Trek questioned whether this might be a return of the dreaded Monkey Pox from last spring. I probably should clarify this. The Monkey Pox ( so named because calling it The Flu That Comes On Suddenly Then Turns Into Pneumonia That Will Almost Kill You is not nearly so much fun to say) was far worse and involved more in the way of coughing and pain. No, despite my rather childish attitude towards the whole matter, this is really just something along the lines of Squirrel Pox. This version of the disease, while uncomfortable and gooey, is survivable and lets you indulge in the NyQuil cold medicine. Should things progress to oh, I dunno....say, The Fox Pox, then I will update you immediately. I am not one to suffer in silence. It is just my way.

That's it for the health report. Let's head over to the weather desk for a check on the forecast, shall we?

All indicators point to our getting a significant amount of snow from about midnight tonight straight through until tomorrow evening. It is looking good for The Sheep's first snow day of the '06/'07 school year. So good, in fact, that she is choosing not to do her homework for tomorrow night's class-that-she-hates-more-than-vegetables. If the school district is closed, then the Professional Development Center is closed and if the PDC is closed then the extension courses are cancelled. The Sheep is taking a slight risk, here. But she is feeling confident in the forecast. There will be snow and there will be no school. Heaven help us if there is a change in the direction of this storm. The Sheep is going to be very, very ugly if this doesn't go according to plan...

And if a snow day does come my way tomorrow then, perhaps, there will be some knitting news to report. 'Cuz I gotta tellya, people. Right now, I got nuthin' on that front. A day stuck in the house with naught but the needles could really help this situation.

That's the news, folks. Stay tuned for your next regular update.

SA

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wahhhhh!

Those of you with access to children under the age of 2, go get 'em. I'll wait... If you are currently in a child-free zone, you can still play, but you'll have to use your imaginations.

All set? Good. Now, look at the little one. Take in all the babyosity. The infanty essence. Let it just soak in. Now, consider this:

I am a bigger baby. By far.


I'm not saying that it is one of my more stellar qualities. But my tendency towards childish behavior is a little hard to ignore right now. This stupid cold has taken over all aspects of my life and generally sunny disposition. I don't handle the sickness particularly well. I wander around clutching a tissue or, worse, twisting it up and plugging my dripping nostril with it. Instead of speech, I regress to a sort of ululating groan that is designed to alert all in the immediate vicinity that I am present and unwell. The tail end of this groan rises to a pitch that can be picked up by dogs and will cause interference to certain satellites in low orbit.

Once I have secured the full attention of any and all persons with the misfortune to be in my presence, I will dramatically command that they avert their eyes from my hideousness. I will chastise them for having the unmitigated gall to stare at one so unfortunate as I, a sickly Sheep.

The cycle will be repeated every five or ten minutes. It's a fun show if you have the time and the stomach for it...

Suffice it to say, my cold has not gotten any better since yesterday. But, I'm back at work so at least I now have an audience for my neediness.

And it is my excuse for not having finished those last few rows on the sleeve. We're talking fewer than twenty rows here and a couple of decreases. Not exactly brain surgery. But I am having a hard time balancing my knitting schedule with my groaning pathetically schedule. I am but one Sheep and there are only 24 hours in a day, after all. I did get in a bit of the spinning, though. Not much since it seems that looking down results in nasal leakage. I have to look down as a not-so-good spinner who has to look at what she is doing in order to get anything that remotely resembles consistency. And this takes us back to that tissue up the nose thing I mentioned at the beginning of the post and another rotation around the Cycle Of Childish Behavior.

There is, however, some hope for a little extra knitting time this week. While I realize that I've yet to work a full week this month due to the doctor's appointments and all, I'm excited at the prospect of another abbreviated work week in the near future. It seems that we are due for a little weather event on Wednesday and all indications are that it will be a doozy. We have had a sum total of 0 days off from school this year due to the weather and I'm ready for that first snow day! Who knows? It could be sooner rather than later if the forecasts are cooperative!

Meanwhile, I'll just be sitting here in my flannel jammies with a tissue wadded up my nose while swiggin' off a bottle of NyQuil. Real babies can't have the NyQuil...that would be bad for them.

But childish adults can. And it is the one good thing about having a cold.

SA

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Puh-leeeeeeeeeze!!

My cold rages on. I'm just an itchy, shivery, sneezy, drippy Sheepie. I'm not complaining...much. I know that I've been lucky this season and have managed to avoid most of the goo that's been going around. I'm not exactly happy about my having been struck down by that most miserable of viruses known as the common cold. But I suppose it could have been worse.

At any rate, it became clear around three o'clock this morning that I was going to need to make a trip to the grocery store for a supply of over-the-counter remedies if I was going to survive this with some measure of dignity. I was also out of Mountain Dew.

Things went fairly well right up until I hit the check-out. I have had something of a run of good luck at the grocery store of late so I wasn't all that surprised to see the registered being manned by Teenage Boy In Coma. I unloaded my few purchases onto the conveyor belt unacknowledged by TBIC who simply stared open-mouthed at the doors behind the register, perhaps contemplating the status of his Ivy League college applications. To be fair, it was early and I wasn't exactly alert myself. I figured if he didn't notice me in fairly short order that I could sneeze on him and make him aware of my drippy presence. Fortunately, this was not required. He began ringing up my items without my having to spray him with Sheep virus.

Things then took something of a strange turn. He tried to "card" me.

Let's set aside the fact that none of my purchases this morning required the showing of identification. Unless, of course, the sale of Dove Dark Chocolate Bars is now under the control of the state. And clearly this was not the case since the carding process was aborted once it was determined that my shopping list did not include tequila and limes. But, for me, this raised a series of other brain cramps.

I'm not delusional. On a good day, a very good day with subtle lighting, 8 hours of sleep and creatively applied cosmetics, I can pull off mid-thirties. Maybe. And I can assure you that none of those circumstances were at work under the harsh fluorescents of the local market early this bright and sunny morning. Twenty-one years of age was not even a consideration. I'm not being self-deprecating here. Just honest.

I can only assume that:

A) TBIC is suffering from a serious degenerative disease of the eyeballs

B) TBIC, noting the plethora of sickness supplies, opted to rouse himself from his coma long enough to toss out a random act of kindness

C) The prescription strength moisturizer recommended by my doctor to deal with my itchy, winter dry skin is more powerful than time itself

D) It is now de rigueur among the younger set to begin snorting drain cleaner before 7:00 am.


Whichever of the above may apply, it does not speak well of the observational powers of the youth of our nation. And, judging by his expression following a closer examination of my Sheepie visage, Teenage Boy In Coma is now aware of this.

Back on the homefront, I loaded up on a variety of medications designed to soak up the sinus tides then hit the fiber trail. Things progressed slowly given my snuffly state, but I now have a mere 14 rows and 7 decreases before I can say that all sweater components are off the needles and ready for assembly. OK...I haven't made the collar yet. But that is picked up and knit later so it doesn't count. Either way, I'm pretty close to the part I hate the most: finishing. I like being finished. I just don't like finishing.

I also completed one full bobbin of the unknown fiber and have begun a second.




Tah-Dah!!!
I have monitored myself diligently in an attempt at spinning a thicker single than I normally do. I don't know just when it happened, but it seems that I have become a spinner of the fine singles. I'm hoping for a yarn that is close to worsted weight and only want to do a two-ply. Funny how much more quickly the spinning goes when the singles are chunkier. Must make a note of that for future reference. I'm rather pleased with this yarn thus far. It's soft and squooshy. I think it will work rather nicely for a next-to-skin sorta garment. And I am a fragile flower with skin that is delicate like gossamer silk. The bright red nose that I am sporting right now after two days of steady blowing is an indicator of this. I require the softest of touches in my wearables. One must care for the epidermal layers, you know.
It is the key to my youthful appearance.
SA

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I Bow Before The New World Order

Sheep are generally known as somewhat peaceful creatures. Rarely does one hear of rabid sheep attacks. When a local convenience store is robbed, the police do not immediately head over to the nearest pasture in order to begin questioning woolly suspects. Sheep are like the hippies of the animal kingdom. They don't start trouble.

Thus, it is not surprising that I, your humble Sheepish Blogger, has accepted her new subservient position in the house. My only redeeming quality is that I have thumbs. This affords me the opportunity to open cans and grasp strings for wiggling and general entertainment of certain felines.

I also could grasp a pen which allowed me to finish college and get a job so I could support them in the style to which they have become accustomed.

I woke up this morning with two thoughts. The first being: Boy, I really ought to get to work on that sleeve. The second was: But I probably won't because I am so completely enamoured of this wool that I dyed last weekend and just want to spin like a dervish.

Desdemona did not agree. She is wholly consumed with the need for responsible behavior. And she took it upon her furry self to make sure that I did the right thing.






Not on my watch, Missy!!! You just get back over there and knit. And bring me some catnip, posthaste. I wish for some amusement!
So, I knit. There is really no sense trying to move a cat who does not wish to be moved. It never goes well in the long run. Sure...I'm bigger and have the thumbs and all. But there will be retribution. I hate the retribution. It is usually somewhat subtle and cleverly designed to drive me utterly mad. It is easier to comply with the wishes of the overlord.
I didn't finish the sleeve, though. I have a cold. I have been on the slow and snotty side today and not inclined to do much of anything besides sneeze. While I am fully aware of the difference between a kitty cold and a human person cold, I have to wonder just how much of The Big, Fluffy Kitty's sneezing issues last weekend had to do with this. She spent much of last weekend with the snufflies and would not hide under the bed like any other normal cat might do when ill. No. She needed the comforting throughout her ordeal and I was the beneficiary of many a kitty sneeze right in my face. I know, I know...you can't catch a kitty cold. But I have a cold now and am in the middle of a hostile takeover by my cats. You can see where I might be suspicious.
So here's where I'm at: Sleeve #2 is about half complete. Both sweater fronts have been hemmed. (although why I have to hem them before putting the sweater together, I do not know. But it seems that I do...) When the Smaller, Less Fluffy Kitty took a litter break, I snuck over to the wheel and spun up about half a bobbin. As there has been nothing in the way of payback for this mutiny, I can only assume that my progress on the sleeve was considered worthy by Her Grace.
And I took a nap. The Big, Fluffy Kitty monitored this event closely and seemed to approve. Until I tried to get up, then she leaped upon my tummy with her gi-normous, "I Can Walk On Water" double paws thus pinning me helplessly for another twenty minutes. For the first ten, I could only gasp and try to regain my breath.
Tonight's festivities have yet to be submitted for approval by the CEOs here at Casa De Sheepie. I have drafted a proposal which outlines my desire to pursue more of the spinning and knitting interrupted by brief periods of sneezing and curling up under the afghan. I'm crossing my fingers for a speedy paws up on this one.
Before I sign off to see how all that's going, I'd like to say, "Thanx" to those of you who offered support or suggestions with regard to my recent questions about copyrights. This is an odd situation where I really can't (or won't) go into details regarding the relationship between my office and the head office. The boundaries around ownership of the material I wrote are less than clear. I have found myself in the position of working well outside the parameters of my job description for the past year. Since no one ever thought that we would be writing curriculum, no one thought ahead to questions around who would own what. To further muddy the issue, had the pieces I contributed been research-based, there would really be no question in my mind with regard to my wanting to retain ownership. I wouldn't care. But these articles were based on my own work and observations and are the result of almost twenty years of experience. I'll keep thinking on this one and do a little more research. Meanwhile, the input was most helpful!
And now, my supervisors are making their needs for chin scratching and tummy rubbing known. Must keep the bosses happy!
SA

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Guilt...

Well, it seems that Mommy Sheep raised her little girl right. I'm sporting the guilts for having been less than responsible over the past week. First, I failed in my blogging responsibilities in order that I might write a bad paper. Then I missed work today for a doctor's appointment. These would all probably be forgivable under the circumstances. But I can think of no good excuse for my having blown off meeting with my boss at job #2 today. All I can say is that it was cold and I wanted to go home and take a nap. Instead of meeting today, we will be sitting down next Tuesday night. More on that in a bit. Meanwhile, let's all just enjoy my Friday Guilt Post, shall we?
A funny thing happened on the way to the knitting needles today. The plan was to see if I couldn't make some headway on sleeve #2 in preparation for the upcoming school vacation. This struck me as a time with sweater seaming written all over it. In anticipation of a completed sweater, I took a moment to lay out the existing pieces in all their block-resistant glory. To be so close to the finish line must surely give a Sheep that little extra boost of knitting speed.




I mean, c'mon! How can you not see the potential here???

But, like I said: A funny thing happened. I tripped over a spinning wheel. The same wheel that has languished over the past couple of months while I get over a serious bout of the blahs with regard to the whirling of the fibers. I guess I'll do just about anything to avoid pesky finishing techniques.


Fiber that was dyed last weekend. It was pretty much unavoidable...
What can I say? I am weak. I do not see myself plowing through this particular lot of fiber in short order. In fact, I suspect that it will find its way to the yarn state in, at best, fits and starts. But it surely is purty! And soft like the clouds.
Now, about that Tuesday meeting...
I'm in need of a little expertise from those of you out there who might know of these things. I called the office to reschedule today's meeting and discuss a little "development." Last week, in an unexpected turn of events, my name and the word "copyright" were used in the same sentence. As some of you know, I have been writing a series of articles to be used with the Parenting Education program my boss and I are developing. I have also shared that my agency is the much smaller satellite version of the main offices. We operate independently, but are under their umbrella. They have approved of the program and are most enthusiastic. Enough so that they are considering pursuing a copyright. I didn't really think much of it until today when my boss expressed some concerns. I won't go into great detail, but she feels strongly that my work is quite good and should remain under my control.
Being who I be, my first response is always something along the lines of, "Aw, shucks! T'werent nuthin'! They can have it!" Self-deprecation is a skill of mine. But, my boss was persistent. She pointed out that the articles were written based on my own experience as an educator and counselor and not a compilation of previously existing work. There are other issues around the possible copyright, but they are of a larger issue and too complex for my wee little brain to really condense for you.
My boss would like to see me retain control over the material that I have written in the event that I choose to expand upon it or use it in another manner. I have no issue with the agency using the articles since they paid me for the time it took to write them. But I have absolutely no idea what rights that gives them over them. Does anyone have any thoughts or experience around this? My tentative position, given the agency's current circumstances, is that they paid me for my time but not for the content. They have my full permission to use it in any way they see fit. But I would like to retain control over it for future use or inclusion in larger works.
Or maybe I'm just sick of it and want to take a nap. I can't really decide. And it's Friday so the brain cells are not quite in full functioning mode. This is why I like the knitting...once you knit something you can wear it and no one can tell you that the buttons do not meet the terms of the contract.
They can, however, tell you that the buttons do not meet the terms of your girth. This is another issue I'm having with finishing this current project...
SA

Thursday, February 08, 2007

*yawn*

It is with eyes at half-mast and rampantly misfiring brain cells that The Sheep reports a sudden bout of insomnia. She wandered through her day on what she optimistically called four hours of sleep and had the nice purply eye bags to prove it.

I dunno what happened...

It all seemed to have fallen together nicely when the time came to hit the hay. My weekly class-that-inspires-great-resentment was not only over for the week, but sufficiently boring that I was already halfway to slumber land. The ten page paper was written, printed and in the hands of the professor. And the final cherry on the top of the sundae that was my day: the sweater sleeve was unearthed from the knitting basket and completed. No more would I hear its plaintive cries of, "why hast thou forsaken me, o sheepish one???" (For the record, sleeves do not understand the pressing nature of ten page papers that have been put off until the last possible second. They just want to be knit upon 24/7) With all these things in the "History" column, you'd think I would have drifted happily off to the the land of Nod with nary a backward glance.

Not so. My eyes popped open at 2:00 in the morning and I was as perky as a sunflower at high noon from that point on. I exaggerate. At 6:15, the designated departure time from hearth and home to desk and drudgery, I suddenly found the sleepiness within. At that point, I most certainly could have found the inner strength to catch a few extra winks. This, of course, was inadvisable what with the need to look through the windshield at the highway, oncoming traffic and my fellow commuters who may or may not have had more rest than I.

It was a long day. Fortunately, in the "who has to make the coffee today" rotation my staff and I employ, the task fell to the dude who likes his morning beverage with a little texture. He makes our brew with gusto. One can barely pour it for all its thickness. This was just what I needed on this particular morning. Seriously...your eyes actually vibrate after drinking this stuff.

I actually took a short little nap upon arriving home today. Normally, I wouldn't dare to do this as it might lead to a little difficulty falling asleep tonight. However, that point is rendered moot by the fact that it didn't really work out last night, now did it? And tomorrow is a half-day for students anyway. Add to that the fact that I won't be going in for even that much of the day and you have nap justification.

I have doctor's appointment in the morning which has been on the calendar for a while. The surgeon who did the removal of the Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions last week, in an unprecedented gesture of generosity with regard to sharing the billing, opted to let me have my own doc check the progress of the healing rather than risk spending any further quality time with me. Thus, I was able to consolidate appointments and only miss one day of school rather than make multiple trips and lose extra time with my darling students. Trust me when I tell you that The Powers That Be notice when I am gone. Things do not always go "well." It was quite easy for me to take the time on an early release day when the alternative is my not being there for a full student day. I'm virtually a hero for taking my third sick day in two weeks. It's really all in how you spin it...

It's not all rainbows and roses, however. I made the grievous error of telling my boss at job #2 that I would be off tomorrow. My point in telling her this was to schedule time to meet with her tonight since I wouldn't need to worry about having to scamper home to prepare for the workday ahead. A great plan...but it wasn't to be. She is unavailable tonight but was more than happy to rearrange her schedule to meet with me tomorrow afternoon.

Pooh.

But, it is still the prelude to the weekend and the opportunity for a second sleeve to make an appearance. It would be kinda nice to get that well underway. You see, there is a little event coming up in my life, known in this neck of the woods as February Vacation. This is a halcyon time that sneaks up on teachers. You're just getting used to the routine of the school day after returning from the holiday break when...boom! You get another week off! A brilliant concept, really.... And it is but a work week away.

Sounds like it might be a good time for a little sweater seaming, don't you think?

SA

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Welcome To Your Wednesday Condensed Version!

We return this week to our "bullet points" posting courtesy of the stupid class I am taking because I am a stupid Sheep who needs stupid credits to renew her stupid teaching license and now have to stay out late on stupid Wednesdays instead of knitting.

*Meteorologists were flummoxed by the large, brown cloud hovering over southern Maine for much of Tuesday. Despite a high level of concern on the part of Homeland Security, all was well. It was just your friendly neighborhood Sheep frantically flinging the fecal matter in an attempt to craft a complete lack of understanding of the assignment into a ten page paper. Sorry about that. I honestly had no idea what the heck I was doing...

*This was my own fault. I missed class last week and didn't bother to email the professor for clarification. I thought about doing that. I thought about it several times. I may have even said aloud once or twice, "Gee, I probably should email the professor for some clarification on that ten page paper that is due on Wednesday so I won't have to completely wing it the night before." But I didn't. I just made it up, hoping that she was serious about this being a first draft and maybe even had an appreciation for the more creative souls in her classes.

*A brief consultation with The AntiKnitter from my class today confirmed this. The paper was, in fact, to be simply a discussion of our first thoughts on the topic. Creativity and first draftiness were acceptable. So much so that he didn't really finish it... I'm all set.

*The labs came back on The Mole Of Disturbing Dimensions and it was benign. I didn't really discuss the whole cancer part of the equation during the process because that wasn't in my mind when I first began discussing having it removed with Dr. Judy. It was only later that this came into the conversations. I do, however, have sun damage. How this is possible given my general distaste for all things "outside" I will never know, but I apparently need to wear SPF 30 sunscreen when in the presence of anything that gives off light. Lamps, nightlights, candles...whatever.

*My scar is itchy. I do not care for this.

*I would like to see if it is possible to nominate the inventor(s) of the Hot Pocket brand sandwich for some sort of award or citation. They are currently keeping me alive. My schedule has been a bit hectic of late. Hot Pockets can go in the microwave and bring you the joy of hot, melty cheese in under three minutes. I would consider marrying the inventor of the Hot Pocket. Or an actual Hot Pocket. But I am sort of tired right now so that kind of statement is not anything that could be considered "legally binding" in any state.

*It is very cold. The Hot Pockets help considerably, but the handknit socks are really the thing that makes this weather bearable. How did I live for forty years on this planet without understanding this? Why was that memo not forwarded on? I'm even sleeping in handknit socks these days.

And there you have it. Those are the highlights. I must now go attend to that poor sleeve that was so callously cast aside in the interest of higher education and the shoveling of manure onto paper. It was quite patient with me for the one evening, but I fear that it is demanding its due tonight.

Perhaps I can massage its little ego by finishing the sleeve cap this evening...

SA

Monday, February 05, 2007

Whoops!

To say that I forgot about the paper that is due on Wednesday would be incorrect. I didn't forget. I actually thought about it several times. I just didn't formally act on those thoughts.

That may have been something of a judgement error.

Or not. My blood pressure has not been raised one point over this whole matter. Not even a fraction of a point. You'd think that I might be a bit more concerned over the imminent deadline of a ten page paper, but I can't seem to muster the angst. My reasons are pathetic and as follows:

1. I lack any real interest in producing multiple pages that reflect my philosophy of supervision.

2. It is a first draft and my grade can only be bettered by my having turned in a dog of a paper then improving upon it in the final copy.

3. I am something of a wordsmith and am reasonably sure that I can pull this one out of my heinie with reasonable ease.

4. It is boring and I don't want to do it.

5. I don't need an A in this class. I just need to pass it and get the credit. I am the one to whom the experts refer when they talk about "declining standards" in our great country...

6. I have a sweater sleeve to which I must attend. Sleeves are a commitment. They take time and focus. I cannot be writing papers all willy nilly when I have a sleeve that needs finishing. That would be irresponsible.


Besides, I already have something of an idea. It goes like this:

Supervision is a good thing and everyone should have it. Except for The Sheep. She can do whatever she wants. Unless it all goes horribly wrong and then she may claim inadequate supervision.

And no one should ever have to write a paper on supervision. Ever.

The End.


I'm still fleshing it all out. I don't know if there is ten pages worth of material here, but I'm playing with different fonts and spacing. I'm pretty sure no one has ever tried that particular technique before.

There is little to no chance that I will be writing any of this masterpiece tonight. I left most of the material at school and I find it all so mind-numbingly boring that I can't remember a single thing on the list of "points to consider." And did I mention the sleeve? Why should the sleeve suffer simply because I need to come up with recertification credits? I will not be a party to such unjust acts towards the sleeves of this great land! Thus, we are looking at a marathon session of creative crafting with the words tomorrow night. Should be fun. (That was sarcasm. I know that it doesn't always come across in print, but it is there. Trust me.)

I'm thinking that it is highly unlikely that your friendly neighborhood Sheep will be posting tomorrow night. I will be at the computer. There will be keyboard activity. There will be great thoughts fairly spewing from my brain and splattering onto the screen. But I don't think that any of them will be making it your way. And, really, it is for the best. There will be a certain amount of sarcasm involved in this project. And not the good kind. The mean kind. The kind of sarcasm you put out there when you don't get to knit a sweater and have to write a ten page paper.

I'll resume normal activity on Wednesday with my "post-class bullet points" and let everyone know how it goes. Light a candle for the sleeve. It will be the one who suffers the most, I fear.

SA