Saturday, 26 January 2013

Hard and Soft

New computer - Yay! - is up and running. Dynascape is up, and I know it works, because I did my first assignment on it. All the little essentials like MS Office and Photoshop are installed too - and I did it all by myself. Very proud. Really rather sad to reflect, though, that the IT people at school are pretty much useless. Had completely off-track diagnoses from them, but between my classmates and a bit of reading and common sense, I got along fine despite that misdirection.

Finished spinning the beige cria while I waited for various things to upload and install, and polished off a pair of gloves while watching online videos for class (testing the kit quantities for my Andean pattern). But really, the fiber-y side hasn't been very active lately, and there are so many things I want to do! I'm having a craving to knit sweaters, especially after seeing Cora and Pull Me Over recently on Ravelry. (No! Bad! Must finish WIP sweater first!) And I want a chullo rather than a tam for some of the cold days.

What I have been doing instead of playing with the soft stuff is exactly the opposite - starting the 'Lego for Grownups' construction in class. Rather fun, actually. Our group is working on a water feature for the first couple weeks. There's a semi-circular basin, pieced together with pavers.

A pump insert fits inside.

Then a back wall goes up, which will be support for a little waterfall. Some of the pavers have to be split to fit, or have the edges roughened.

The water will fall into the basin, where all the plastic of the insert will be covered with pebbles. I think the waterfall may light up, also, when we're done. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Computer Bad; Quilts Good; News Sad

Still playing 'Fight the Computer'. Now it turns out the download from school, which I thought was Windows 7, is only an update. This after 2 attempts at downloading and a visit to IT at school. Which means I still need to beg or borrow a disk from someone of a reasonably recent Windows OS (Vista or XP), install it and partition the drive, THEN update to Windows 7 before I can put in the program I need. Beginning to wonder if the hassle is worth it.

Right, so now I've got that off my chest, something more fun...I skipped the Weaving and Spinning Guild meeting the other week in favor of the Quilter's Guild. The program for the night was a trunk show by Elaine Quehl, and a traveling display of mini art quilts from SAQA, which stands for Studio Art Quilt Associates.

Elaine I had met a couple times before, through a mutual friend. She does hand-dyed fabric, and the most incredible, often botanically inspired, art quilts using her fabrics. Click the link. Check them out in the gallery. Wonderful use of color and form.

SAQA was completely new to me. I must admit I'm not really drawn to abstract art, but I do think their idea of a traveling show is pretty neat. A whole group of small quilted panels by all different people, each piece maybe a foot square and framed individually, and sent from place to place to show people what art quilting can be. I think someone said this particular group had Hong Kong on its itinerary, so they are really traveling around. A virtual look at the show can be found on the SAQA website, for anyone curious.

One other piece of news to share, rather sad. (Stop here if you wish). The parents are back to one dog, and down one chicken. Allie made it rather obvious that even after being there for several weeks, she couldn't be trusted with the other animals unless under supervision. Mom had already scolded her away from the chickens that day, and she was being good. The minute Mom went off to check on the laundry, though, Allie tore one of the chickens to pieces, then compounded the felony by trying to hide the evidence, asking for the body back when it was discovered, and terrorizing one of the cats into hiding in the woodpile all night (found the next morning, cold and hungry but unharmed). Add that to the fact that she was showing a bit of a tendency to snap at people over the holidays, when everyone was home, and Mom felt they had no real choice but to put her down. She said she cried all day about it, but they couldn't risk keeping her, and wouldn't have felt right about giving someone else a dog that might harm them or their animals, especially in a rural area. Best case, she'd have to be chained or confined all the time (and what kind of life is that?); worst case, someone would abandon her again, or put her down after another person or animal got hurt. So there was no real way to make that a happy ending, unfortunately. Sometimes it just doesn't work, hard as you try.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Alea Jacta Est

That's Latin for 'The die is cast'. Tradition states it's what Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon river (which was the border into Italy - bringing his army into Italy was pretty much a declaration of war).

The phrase is, understandably, in my head. The die is cast, the Rubicon crossed - I went out and bought the new computer today. And I don't doubt I'll be fighting it for a few days. I got the basic set-up done at the store, but the Apple people didn't want to mess with the PC aspects. There's a whole set of steps I have to tackle now, which seem to be needed to get the thing into order so I can use the CADD software I need for school.

In fact, come to think of it, it's now a little less Caesar and a little more 'The house that Jack built' or 'For want of a nail...'. I need Dynascape CADD installed for school. To install Dynascape, I need Windows 7 installed, and I need to set up Bootcamp and partition my computer. I can download Windows from school - but I also need to download support software, and need to burn it all to a disk for installation. And guess who cleaned up a while back? I could find only 2 CD/DVD disks in the house, and the computer says it can't burn onto either. So I'm stalled out for lack of a disk, at the moment.

Monday I shall tackle the computer people at school, see if they have a disk of Windows, or buy a blank and try this again.

I think I can install some of my other stuff in the meantime - Adobe and Office. And I have plans for a felted computer case, but won't start it until I'm sure this is up and running what it should - the guy at the store said they have a good return policy, if this doesn't work out. Fingers crossed it does!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Fiber Update

It doesn't seem like there's been a lot of fibery stuff around here lately. Too much getting back into the school routine, starting the wheels turning for the co-op process (I really, really don't like writing resumes and cover letters!), and researching computer stuff. Turns out my computer isn't compatible with the design software we need for it's off shopping for me at some time in the next week. Money I didn't really want to spend, but what can you do? At least that should keep me in the loop, technology-wise, for a few years!

But there has been some fiber-related content around. I've been working on spinning the cria roving I got from Johanne back in October. First skein is done, about a light fingering weight, and very soft.

The second skein is being plied, and then there will be one more smaller skein of the beige to spin and ply before I start the chocolate-colored one. And there is an idea for a lace shawl in my head for at least some of that beige yarn.

I cast on knee socks for myself last week in Briggs and Little Regal which I had in stash. Good take-around knitting. One is done and the second is close to halfway - just in time, since it's supposed to start getting cold the next few days!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Lang Syne

Remember those old National Geographic magazines I bought a few months ago? I meant to show off a bit of what was inside them, but don't think I ever did. So here's a quick look at what the cutting edge was like, 90 years ago.

National Geographic was just starting to get some colored pictures. I think they're supposed to be color photographs, but they look more like someone painted over a black and white photo.

There was an article in one of them on Holland, which I was excited about because my mother's Dutch.  Only think - everyone's wearing the traditional costume in these pictures, and the wooden shoes!

And there were at least 3 pictures with someone knitting. Apparently it's in the genes.

The articles had a few prime notions too. It's a little odd to think of a large, scientific-type magazine like this one apparently thinking it completely the norm to use concepts like Manifest Destiny (which was sort of a White supremacy, we-were-born-to-rule idea; think British India or the Boer War), referring to 'the ladies' or 'the weaker sex', describing a South American as 'a Peon type', or having one of the authors casually mentioning how he let his pre-teen son loose in the jungle to shoot at birds for amusement.

And just to show how much else has changed...imagine buying a house for this price.

You'd maybe have a car in the drive that looked like this:
And you would still have to dip your steel-nib pen in the inkwell to write your letters and do your accounting.

Friday, 11 January 2013

January Semester, Week 1

One whole week of back-to-school completed. Despite the fact that outdoor work isn't precisely an option this semester, it looks like this is going to be a busy and fun session.

Construction class is divided into 2 parts. It seems we'll be making Adirondack chairs in woodworking (let's see if my carpentry skills have improved since high school...) and for masonry, we're doing what the prof refers to as 'lego for grownups'. He's got about 4 projects lined up, put us in teams of 4 or 5 people, and each team gets to assemble and disassemble each project, as well as keep logbooks and time-sheets, cost out the work, and have each member take turns being the crew foreman. There's a stone bench, a waterfall, a barbecue, and a light pillar, all to be functional, all to be done without mortar, and we're encouraged to take his basic plans up a notch, in terms of creativity. And some of the projects will be used for the garden show in the spring, which the second-years are organizing.

For further creative exercise, there's Design this semester. By far the most fun to shop for, IMHO. Besides the textbook and CADD software, we need all sorts of fun stuff for drawing - colored pencils, circle templates, tracing paper, gridded vellum, compass and triangle, Sharpie markers, drawing pens...Definitely looking forward to this one!

We've also got a course on interior-scaping (with a nod at tropicals and indoor plant ID), green walls, and green roofs, a nursery class which is starting with winter twig ID and continuing through starting seeds and transplanting, our second urban agriculture course, which is covering a range of concepts and topics - bio-remediation, sustainability, vertical gardening, business practices, organic certification...

By contrast, our second maintenance class doesn't sound nearly as interesting. Appropriate to the season, it's all on snow removal and salt management - and litigation. The prof basically stated that if you work in snow removal, you will get sued, and so we have to learn all the things to record to prove that we did our best - not because we might win the suit, but because our insurance company will appreciate our efforts, apparently, and maybe charge us less money. Terribly depressing, and rendering snow removal a job to be avoided. I think I'll try to keep winters for designing, instead.

English class is all about the prep for our co-op semester - resumes and cover letters and such, useful if not exactly a gripping topic. By the end of the month we'll be starting to apply for co-op positions already. And my elective is Geology of the Ottawa Area, which I figured would be useful in understanding the soils around here, as well as adding a nice base of knowledge to the interest I had in rock collecting as a kid. All online, though, except for the intro class, so it will be a matter of setting aside the time to work each week.

So many projects and assignments everyone's talking about, though! I feel rather as if I'm in water that's only ankle-deep right now, but watching a huge wave coming towards me. Here's hoping the schedule gets a little less imposing as we get into it.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Next On The List

The blue stole is finished, blocked, and neatly boxed, waiting to be shipped off to its recipient. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

I no sooner got the stole pinned onto the bedroom floor to block than I had a pair of fingerless mitts cast on. Another commission for school - my classmate's girlfriend liked her mitts so much she wanted a pair for her mother. No pics of those yet, but as of an hour or so ago, they're done, blocked, and drying on the radiator.

With no other commissions, gifts, or shows lined up in the near future, I get to knit for me for a little while. It's very exciting. I've started the first sleeve for a sweater that's been languishing for far too long, with high hopes of getting that done this season. And for travel and in-class knitting? Socks. For ME. Up to my knees. In good warm Briggs and Little. No fine yarn, nothing too fancy, not too many ends to weave in. Plain, wears-like-iron, this-is-January-in-Ottawa wool socks. Life is good.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Pink Dogs, Blue Stole

Y'know, it's kind of nice to be back in the city, in my own little apartment. The cat seems to think so too. We're both in the same boat - love the country, but also love our own (peaceful) space. It's all pros and cons. If there's no woodstove to snuggle up to here, there's also no feeding the stove necessary. And if I do have to do my own cooking, well, it's nice to get back down to normal quantities of food! And as for Julia, maybe here she can't sit out on the porch and watch birds for hours - but at least there are not quantities of noisy humans scaring her, or dogs forcing her to hide under the porch.

And speaking of dogs, we saw the weirdest thing the other day. Talk of your New Years' hallucinations. Both my parents' dogs were all agitated and barking like they heard something, which was the neighbor's hounds out following a coyote trail. And sure enough, several minutes later, the two hounds flashed out from the back fields, across our lawn, and off into the bush on the other side, noses glued to the packed track which we, and apparently the coyotes, use. Nothing weird in that. Except both hounds had been dyed pink. I expect it's so you can see the dogs easier against the snow or something, since they're normally white with spots. But the notion of pink hunting dogs was certainly enough to set Mom and I off in giggles for a while. And think how they'll clash with the owner's camouflage clothes! Plenty of fodder for bad jokes - Mike's a redneck, and now his dogs are pinknecks...Pink elephants on New Year's, maybe, but whoever heard of pink dogs...

Nice to have a few days before school starts to get back into the groove here - inventory pens and paper for school, maybe do a bit of spinning, finish Jen's stole. That's about 80% done, so with any luck I can have it blocking in the next day or so. Assuming, of course, I don't get sidetracked too much by new books from my Christmas gifts...