Monday, 24 November 2008

All painted!


On schedule...if anyone thinks that they can hear a big sigh of relief. They can. It's mine.

The floor guy started this morning, it is a crisp sunny November day and for the first time in weeks, I can spend it doing something other than DIY and I can take in some air that is free of paint fumes!

Y'know, the contents of this bag look like they could be quite intriguing:

Look, even my pals H and Duquesne think that they might be objects of interest! +^


* * *

+ Hurray for finding a local channel that seems to show almost non stop CSI! Plus a whole load of other police and mortuary hocus pokus.
^I wish that someone could get the whole CSI Miami team up to BC for an episode or two. Y'know, perhaps they could sort out this local mystery. Although it reads like something spat straight out of a storyline - oh no - sadly, it is real. It would be very nice if it could be cleared up with a few fast paced, split screen 'at the lab' images of whizzy tidal triangulation followed up by the deployment of diving Delko (the only known human, faster than the speed of light, underwater evidence magnet). It's a shame that real life is not like that as surely, there are some families out there who need some kind of closure?

Friday, 21 November 2008

We are just about on track...

...for the chap coming on Monday to refinish the floors. In the meantime, the house seems to be covered almost entirely in plastic and masking tape (while I seem to be the one thing inside it that is most covered in paint)!


However, I did negotiate a DIY Exit Pass to get to knitting group last night - I did not appreciate just how much I needed to get out of the house yesterday until I returned home! I had such a good time and proof of my rare presence in public (spinning not knitting) can be seen on Flickr here, here and here, all courtesy of the lovely b i t c h n s t i t c h e r. I am amazed at how cool spinning looks in these photos - even if I don't really have a clue yet what I am doing!

Okay, back up a ladder I go. Both the room above and the hallway below need another coat of eggshell (vinyl silk emulsion) before the end of today...

...gulp - I wonder how early the Fella can escape work to pitch in at home?!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Shh, I am supposed to be painting another ceiling...

...yup, I have my shower cap on and my rough surface roller at the ready. Well, we are behind plan and The Floor Guy arrives on Monday!

However, I just thought that I would pop by to sneak you a very amateur spinning update (which is the only craft related thing that I have managed to do between coats of paint and another course module in the past week).

Okay, I signed up for four evening spinning classes at Birkeland Bros. in Vancouver -do drop by their website as it has a lovely history! Here is my spinning tutor, U, whizzing her stuff on a drop spindle at the end of a class:


This is what I managed to produce on my wheel by the end of my second class. I am/was trying very hard to work on producing a more regular single, that was not as overspun as my first attempt and was thin enough for me to ply and end up with a finished yarn that is somewhere (anywhere) between 4 ply and aran weight:


*Cough* I have no idea what a single should look like for each weight of yarn yet. So I have no clue whether I am on track here or not. I guess that it will be trial and error until I've practised enough to understand what sort of single I should be aiming for. I will plod on with this bobbin, make a friend to go with it, ply them together, see how the yarn turns out and adjust things from there?

However, I came home to practice and this fibre kept winking at me:


So I put aside my class fibre and bobbin and I set to work on this instead. I really struggled too. This fibre behaves completely differently to the stuff that I am using in class. It is Louet, space dyed wool top. I am not sure but it seems that something has happened to the sections of fibre that were squashed against the outside of the plastic bag - it feels drier, more coarse and rougher than the fiber from the centre of the bag. It is a bit harder to work with, somehow. So on my first bobbin, I delved into the centre of the fibre and worked backwards, out towards the fibre that was on the outside of the bag - I have absolutely no idea if this makes any difference.


I also found that if I spun it in the way that I was spinning my class sliver, it would break easily from a lack of twist? So um, I have put more twist into it. It seemed like the logical thing to do but I am not sure it was the right solution. Actually, I am worried that I have completely overspun it - there are areas on the bobbin where it has twisted around itself as it went onto the bobbin and so, I am hoping that I will be able to even that out when I ply it...gulp.

I guess that I should have stopped when I only had a little bit on my bobbin and andean plied it, to see how it turned out? Nope, I did not - so instead, I have a bobbin full of very pretty but probably overspun fibre!


I know that I should wind some of this off, to test how it turns out. Except, I just want to get on, spin and ply another bobbin, so that I have enough of this very pretty coloured stuff by the end of this house reno work (DIY) for me to knit something lovely as a reward for all my hard work... that so wrong?!

PS: I have just spotted that last Friday, Wye Sue Knits posted a really lovely post on her blog called, 'Down Alley Way' - it's about my mother's Textile and Artisan Yarns gallery in Hereford. If you take a closer look at the gallery window sign in Sue's post, it looks like my mother has been having some fun with her sewing machine!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Wheels Go Round...

...when I was a little girl and my grandparents were not looking, I used to play with a little plant stand in their hallway. Its moving parts fascinated me. I could build it up to a terrific, mesmerising speed until its string came flying off, broke or the plant rattled in its container, giving me away - each time it was fixed and/or my grandparents' attention wandered, I'd creep back to play with it again.

Later, my mother had two proper versions of my grandparents' plant stand. I was still a child though and I do not remember having permission to use them – apart from once or twice, perhaps? My memory is that they were pretty much out of bounds. Mind you, that didn't stop me from having a sneaky whizz round on them when my mother was out or not looking (sorry mum, I fibbed back then - it was me). There is just something about their design that begs you to race them around, even if you are not supposed to.

I was allowed to have a go on a manual version of my mother's kit but I didn't find it any fun at all -so I cast it aside and forgot all about it.

* * *

Fast forward to 2008. Lately, I have noticed a lot of friends, for example this one and this one, getting into a new craft. I have been watching them from the sidelines with the same feeling that I used to have when lurking around the edges of a playground at a new school. You know, sort of hoping that someone would invite me to join in a game of something but half terrified, just in case they did?

After all - a new craft equals more financial outlay, something extra to try to fit into the same amount of crafting time and I remember writing this particular craft off as a bad job when I was small.

Yet the feeling of wanting to have a go persisted. So, I went home to Hereford and I asked my mother if I might borrow some of her equipment. I was completely thwarted though! It seems that my mother has started to use it all again recently. (Although mum, I await evidence of this on your blog!)

Net result? I wrote off the whole idea. Luckily, something popped up unexpectedly on Ravelry just after my birthday. This led to the vague mention in a previous post that I might be up to something betwen DIY duties.

Well, I have barely knitted a stitch since I arrived in Canada. All my yarn, fabric, tools, books and notions are in Rubbermaids (plastic containers) due to the DIY mess (paint and dust) and the house barely has any furniture left in it as we are having the floors refinished soon.

Right now, I am supposed to be washing, sanding or painting the house. I am not supposed to be spending any time with this beautful thing:


It is supposed to be the carrot that keeps me diligently at my DIY tasks. Yet it keeps on coming out. Excuse me while I make an understatement here - see this wheel?

It is soooo much better than the plant stand that I used to play with when I was little.

And spinning itself? Ohhhhh folks, it is so very, v-e-r-y addictive.

I have even heard myself saying to the Fella (who is a bit bemused by this sudden turn of events), "I'd really like to go home. I'd really like to get my spinning wheel out to practice."

"Oh! Do you mind, if I spend ten minutes with my wheel before we go to bed, after I have washed off all this paint?"

I have had my wheel for a week. So far? Between DIY duties, I have managed to spin three bobbins of Crossbreed Sliver 33 Micron. This is the fibre that they handed to me when I signed up for my 4 spinning classes at Birkeland Bros. The first two bobbins, I have plied into my first skein (or so) of really lumpy, bumpy yarn, which I have dutifully skeined and soaked to set the twist. Voila!


Now the Fella lost the Noro scarf that I knitted him at the start of this year. So I have told him that I plan to knit a replacement from this - I plan to call it The Penance Scarf and make him wear it out in public!

My next bobbin looks a bit thinner and more even. With any luck, it will be less overspun (it seems that I still like to whiz my wheel):


Now while I am enjoying practising with my spinning class fibre, I am looking forwards to putting it aside to play with some of the other things in my budding fibre stash:


From Left to Right:

Front Row: Birkeland Bros fibre that Chrissy kindly gave me to get started; some yummy, yummy fibre from Yarnsprout (Chrissy) who sells her natural hand dyes here and her commercial dyes here. I do not want to touch (ruin) these until I have a better idea what I am doing; my spinning class fibre

Back Row: a mixture of things that I picked up on Friday from Fun Knits at BC Expo. I tried to work with the Louet fibre last night (as I was told that it was the best next step, after Sliver, for beginner spinners) but it is not behaving at all like my class fibre. So um, actually, I had to give up as I wasn't getting anywhere! Hmm, need more help and practice..!

So um, yep - my name is Gabrielle. I used to have a fabric stash.

(It's been about 2 years since my last fabric purchase.)

Then, as my interests developed, I developed a yarn stash.

(Opps, it's only been about 2 days since my last yarn purchase.)

Now it seems that I have moved halfway around the planet and now? I have a fabric, yarn and fibre stash?

What does the Fella think? Well, he did mention that I justified bringing over my yarn stash by saying that I wanted to work on existing projects and wanted to reduce bug related yarn panic attacks. He also pointed out that making more yarn does rather contradict this objective!

However, mostly, his view on this sudden turn of events? Actually, he keeps chuckling, shaking his head and saying, "I thought that I was a knitter's boyfriend. However, it turns out that I am a spinner's boyfriend...

...what's it worth, for me not to mention this to anyone?!"

My reply?

"Oh shhhh, don't interrupt - I'm spinning!"

Ceiling Painters of the World Unite!


Saturday, 8 November 2008

Rain, rain, go away...

...I have been told, by several - no, make that many - unrelated people, that it is going to rain here every day between now and Spring 2009. It seems that the Fella doesn't call it 'the rainforest' for nothing.

The furniture storage units have arrived and DIY is almost on track!

People look at me incredulously when I tell them that I am here for another 5 months, "What? You came to Vancouver in October? For 6 months? Don't you know that it is going to rain every single day between now and March?!"

XL805334 01
Enroute to Port Moody to track down the Black Sheep Yarns store (no, we didn't find it)

I have been doing my best to ignore the glum tone in their voices. I have been doing my best to remain cheerful and celebrate each and every low sun setting autumn day.

However, as it turns out, they were not joking and they were not exaggerating - I am hard put to remember the last day that it did not rain recently. Actually, there is a heavy rainfall warning in effect at present.

Downtown Vancouver, enroute home from BC Creative Expo

The last time that I felt like this? I was living on the West Coast of Scotland. Actually, the Fella just laughed when I read him the first bit of this post and quipped that Vancouver makes Scotland look like a desert.

Generally, it seems that the sky is an unremitting, steely grey here. It's only October and some days it only ever seems to half lift itself out of a UK 3-4pm deep winter gloom. On other days, just to add interest to the grey - any remainly light is obscured by fogginess. Nice.

Enroute to a Christmas rag quilt class

In the past? I didn't think that gloomy days affected me at all. It turns out that I was wrong - they are more life and energy sapping than you can imagine.

So I am stalking websites like this with a feeling of dreadful longing - does anyone have any experience of these things and how well they do (or do not) work?!

Notes: craft update, relating to the above is coming very soon, just once I've thrown the Fella off the scent - o-k-a-y I have not been doing quite as much DIY as I am supposed to have done by today's date but amazingly, we are still on track. See?

House Project 1

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

One Step Forwards - One Step Back?

It is rare for me to comment on politics, however today I will make an exception:

1. America has voted for change. It is my observation that when we have had a change of political party in the UK (regardless of the direction of the power switch, interestingly), it has bought with it a new energy to the leadership of the country and sometimes, a refreshing change in key policies.

Mind you, it is a challenging time for the US, so the Democrats do not have an easy term ahead of them. It will be very interesting to see what they make of their term in office, how well they are able to deliver on their election promises and what impact that has, both at home and abroad - on us, the rest of the world.

2. The State of California was split on this item but it seems that overall, they have voted Yes to Proposition 8. If you are not familiar with Proposition 8, you can read more about it here on Wikipedia. I feel very disappointed that a state, within a country that I expect to lead the way on equal rights for its citizens, has decided to slap the faces of same sex couples in this way.

I know many couples in very good, loving, supportive, strong, stable, enduring and committed relationships - some of these couples are heterosexual and others are not. To me, it is the people that I know and the good quality of their relationships that stand out, not their sexual orientation.

In my personal view, a couple's decision to marry, should be governed by whether they wish to formalise their partnership and make a lifelong commitment to each other (both legally and spiritually). I do not feel that it should be constrained by the fact that they are not entitled to marry because they are a same sex couple.

This ballot outcome feels like a peculiar step back, in a wider atmosphere of a country taking a different step forwards.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Opps, how did that happen?!

Now, see this?

House Project 01

This folks, is a gant chart that shows the next phase of house reno (DIY) in Vancouver.

Oh bah humbug, please don't tell me off for being a control freak! Okay, okay, so I am - however, in my defence, I am here studying for a professional Project Management accreditation and I did get a copy of MS Project for my birthday!

Now this gant chart shows that in the next three weeks, we (me 'n' de Fella) need to get three fairly large spaces - namely the living room, hall and Kiddo's bedroom - T.S.P'd (sugar soaped), primed (undercoated) and painted before a contractor (bloke) comes to refinish the floors in week commencing 24th November. That way, we can haul all of our (the Fella's) furniture back into the house in the first week of December (after we have allowed 5 days for the floors to harden).

Now, as you know, I have a vested interest in this milestone, as it means that I will be able to get my yarn/fabric stashes out and start playing with them, without fear of contamination by dust or any other kind of crud (yes, I am thinking of this DIY as a 'deep clean' and a chance for the Fella to wave goodbye to ten years of single bachelor existence). Hurray!

However, see that faint trail of little red tasks (mainly allocated to me)? Those are the things that are on the critical path for this little project. So if they shift sideways to the right (i.e. I do not finish them in time) then we are stuffed, as we will not be ready for the floor bloke to do his thing.

Mind you, as with all 'good' project plans (cough), weekends are contingency.

Um and let's face it, I am likely to need them too as I have my next course module soon, some real course work to do and oh, y'know, today...

...I seem to have purchased a preloved (second hand/nearly new) one of these from this lovely person and signed up for some beginner lessons here.

I am so excited about it! Well, there's nothing like setting yourself a dual challenge, eh?!