Saturday, August 18, 2012

Before and After, Cute and Cuter

A couple of posts ago I showed some of my works-in-progress.  I did finish up the peacock shawl. Yay!

The problem with knitting lace is that when you take that last stitch of many thousands of thousands, it's not a "tah dah" moment.  It's more of a "how many hours of my life did I waste on this" moment. 

Knitted lace isn't done when you're finished knitting it.  There's still a lot of work to be done.  It has to be washed, and then you spend an hour on your knees with dozens of pins and brutally stretch it out.

Then you have something worth wearing.  I'm pleased with it, and it's taken me to my next project (yeah, I know there are still 2 or 3 in progress).  This one weighs 3.75 ounces.  I'm wondering how big of a scarf I can make with 1 ounce of yarn.  Stay tuned.

In other areas--I've been working with a new bird at the museum.  This is a kestral--a wee tiny falcon.  And yes--she is full grown.

In the last post we introduced Noko Marie.  Not that we really needed another kitten--after all, RiverSong is only about 4 months old, and the Resident Kitten, with all rights and privileges thereof.  And them comes this stranger.

*And* the kitten was put in her condo!  River was at first a little jealous.  But, on second thought--best kitty toy ever!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August Mini-cation

We had another mini-vacation this past week--odd how many of them involve scale models.  This time is was the IPMS (Internation Plastic Modeler's Society)--the real biggie of the modeling world.  It meets in different locations each year, but this year it happened to be in Orlando--about five hours away.

As we were in no rush to get there we stopped halfway at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville.  It's been many years since we've been there, and it's now an amazing place.  They specialize in prehistoric Florida--our favorite being the fossils.  They have an interesting way of displaying them--the skeletons are all in action poses, and on the interpretive boards there are small statues of what the animal would have looked like (as Bob calls it) "upholstered). (and yes--that is a big scary bird).

They have also recently completed a butterfly rainforest. So beautiful and relaxing.  And no-I didn't take this picture.  We forgot to take the camera in so I'm lifting them from their website.

We continued on to Orlando, and after circling around a few times we found our hotel.  It later turned out that driving in circles would be portentious of Things To Come.  The advantage in this case is that while hunting for a hotel we found a tiny hole-in-the wall Thai restaurant.  My kind of place--maybe 12 tables and the owners are also the cooks--and the food delicious.  And the music incongruous--for some reason they were playing Spanish guitar music.  Odd to be eating pork panang while listening to "Spanish Harlem."

I was fascinated by the juxtapostion of the two Floridas.  Orlando is king of edifices of artificiality.  We were almost within walking distances of Universal Studios (including Harry Potter World).  The sprawling metropolis of Disney World was a few miles away.  But just beyond the fence around our hotel was the "real" Florida.  Swamp.  Waiting patiently like an alligator, waiting to take over again.  I found it oddly comforting.

(and no--we didn't visit Harry Potter World or any other attractions.  Not in August, with thousands of other tourists.  No, thank you)

Friday the real adventure began--getting to the IPMS conference, at the Contemporary Resort in Disney World.  We went through the famous gateway of "where dreams come true"--if your dreams include driving around in circles for an hour.  We apparently missed a cutoff, and anywhere we asked directions we got sent to a different resort, or told a wrong turn, or whoever we asked didn't know about the Contemporary Resort (big building--monorail running though it--that one?).  We eventually got there.

The conference was somewhat bigger than others we have been to.

That's part of one of the vendor rooms.  There was also a hanger-sized room of model displays.  I tromped around with Bob for a couple of hours, then found a comfy chair to settle with my book and knitting.  We met for lunch, then parted ways again.  Our original plan had been to spend about a half-day there on both Friday and Saturday, but after the debacle of finding the place he was damned if he'd try to drive in Disneyworld on a Saturday so  he did a Friday marathon instead.

That left Saturday for my Orlando wish--to see an IKEA store.  I don't understand why Tallahassee doesn't have one, being as we have two universities and a community college and IKEA specializes in stuff for apartments.  Like Disney, IKEA is designed to make you get lost and go around in circles so that you see everything.  Unlike Disney, there are frequent maps and the staff actually know where the stuff is.  Although you can buy whole kitchens or living room suites there, I fortunately was not tempted.  It's all rather sleek Danish modern, and my aesthetic leans more towards Victorian/goth/steampunk.  I did get a neat strip of LED lights that I put on my loom:

Otherwise, we just got an armload of small stuff--LED lamps, some artists mannequins, a wine rack.  We found that at checkout is where customer service ends:  we paid, our stuff was shoved to the side of the counter, and we got an abrupt and somewhat mechanical "have a nice day."  No bags.  So we balanced our swag in our arms, and didn't bother to shop the Swedish food section that, for some reason, was beyond the check-out line.

And thence home.  As always, we enjoy these short getaways (except for the driving in circles).

And then . . . we got a call from our vet.  Someone had found a wee calico kitten on the interstate and dropped it off at the vet's office.  They really didn't want to take her to the shelter--could we . . .?

Never mind that RiverSong is now approaching four months old and entering the Crazy Kitten stage--or that we have four other cats.  Meet Noko Marie:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Scattered Projects

I often admire Bob--for many reasons, but at the moment for his model-making.  When Bob starts on a project, he works on that one project until it's finished.  He might think about the next one, and maybe do some planning or order parts, but he doesn't start on the next one until the first is finished.

Me--there are a lot of started projects lying around.  Several months ago I mentioned this one:

It's been sitting there for about 6-7 months because I can't decide if I like it.  And I have to finish spinning the the weft.

And there is this blob:

Lace always looks blobby while it's being worked.  This one dates back several years, when I spun the yarn to make this:

Gorgeous, yes.  But very complicated.  My style of knitting is "twiddling my thumbs."  I knit in the car when Bob drives; I knit while watching TV; recently I've knit a lot in the ER and hospital rooms while waiting on parents.  This project requires sitting in a quiet corner and concentrating on it. Not my cup of tea, so it's been sitting in the closet for years--every now and then I would feel guilty, knit a bad-tempered row or two, and shove it back.  I finally took my courage in my hands a couple of months ago and unzipped it back into a ball of yarn.  The yarn, after all, is handspun, and quite lovely, and I just had to admit that this particular shawl wasn't going to get finished.  The new one is almost done--meaning 5 rows to go, but it takes about an hour per row.  And I did stop in the middle of a row to knit the scarf that was in a few posts ago.  And something else has been started:

A young man of my aquaintance asked if I knew how to knit a dragon sock puppet.  Of course I said yes--and now I have to figure it out.  But unlike the lace shawl, which is 800 stitches per row and of thread-like yarn, this is fat yarn and big needles and only 28 stitches around, so it's going at a gratifying pace.  Now I have to figure out how to do the head . . .

Meanwhile, back on the other loom, the Project That Is Not Meant to Be.   Sometime in June I was supposed to attend a weaving workshop on how to get a warp on the loom with ease and grace (I personally can warp a loom, but it usually involves a wrestling match, yarn wrapped around various body parts, and some swearing).  I wound a warp to take with me--but the class got cancelled.  So I went ahead and put on on the loom in my living room, and wove a few inches.  That's when I had to disappear for a week or so to deal with parental concerns.   A warped loom + a new kitten = this:

Chewed threads.  I got it rethreaded last night--and now I have about a day-and-a-half before we go on a short trip to get it woven off before she finds it again.

And one more short project (done in one day!)  I wanted to try ice-dyeing.  Basically, you cover whatever you're dyeing (in this case a scarf) with crushed ice, and sprinkle dye powder on the ice.  As it melts the dye get distributed.  It's one of those techniques where you don't have much control--you just let it happen.  Here's the pan with the scarf buried in ice and the dye on top

Finally, the peacocks are molting, so I decided to take some of the feathers and make a collar:
It has a way to go.

So that's two weaving projects in progress, two knitting projects, one sewing projects--and one finished scarf.

For the cat-lovers, here's the warp-chewing demon who has also discovered my lovely sheepskin