Thursday, 27 December 2012

Stealth Knitting / Let it Snow

I would just like to note for the record that stealth knitting for a Christmas gift is very difficult when you are in the same house as the recipient, and you have all sorts of holiday baking and such to do as well. Thank goodness we aren't having Christmas gifting until tomorrow night. I finished my gift last night, in bed, at 2 am, with a little headlamp for illumination.

And you know what's more fun than stealth knitting? Stealth blocking. In a house where the primary heat is the kitchen woodstove. I take great pride in the fact that the gift in question is done, blocked, dried, and packed now.

It's been a gorgeous day here. The soundtrack was definitely either "Let it Snow"  or "A Marshmallow World". That lovely winter storm predicted came through here overnight and all day, and dropped enough snow to have us wading thigh-high in the drifts. The birdbath looks like a plum pudding, minus the holly or berries on top. So far, though, no success in getting a cardinal to land on it for the necessary note of color.

Oh, and that trail in the snow? That was Rex, the bigger dog. He was chest-deep in it, looking like he was swimming. The car was a foot deep this morning - Dad was cleaning it off when I took the picture after breakfast, but enough has fallen since that it looks like he didn't do anything! Everything was quiet, muffled by the snow, except the twittering of the birds at the feeder - eating with impunity, since the snow is well over the cats' heads.

We went for a walk/wade in the bush with the dogs this afternoon, and it was lovely, like a scene out of "The Nutcracker". Tufts of snow on every twig, and lining every branch and fir bough, turning them into something sculptural.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Prep and Allie's Adventures

Happily settled in at the parents' for the holidays, and since it appears the world didn't end yesterday as predicted, the Christmas prep is in full swing. There's a line of cookie tins in the pantry, along with a couple bushels of pine and cedar boughs, and filling for tourtiere cooling on the counter. We went out Thursday and hunted a tree, and the ice and snow are dripping off it in the living room, where it'll get put up and decorated tonight.

For a couple days there, I was a little worried about whether it would be a white Christmas - even yesterday's storm was half rain here - but it's been snowing most satisfactorily all day today. The big wreath Mom put on the barn/garage door is dusted, and the cardinals are coming to the bird feeders, adding a note of festive color.

And who's this helping Mom with filling the bird feeders?

The spotted dog on the left is Allie, and she's been here for a week. Someone apparently dumped her on our road about two or three weeks ago. She was living in an abandoned barn down the road, hunting mice for her living and coons for fun, when my father saw her. One of the neighbors told Dad about her (including the fact she had apparently killed four coons), but he hadn't been able to take her himself, since he already had four dogs. So Dad said hello to Allie when he passed during his run, and when he invited her, she followed him home. We won't say she's settled in perfectly yet, but she's getting there. Our big dog, Rex, is mostly ignoring her, with the occasional argument. She was a little prone to chasing cats and chickens, but that's improving. She mostly ignores the chickens now, and may be down to chasing the cats only if they run. (Thankfully. She's not fond of going up stairs, but she will if there's a cat, with the result that twice in one day we had to carry her down the shed loft stairs, because she was afraid to go down, then rescue the cat she chased up there. So far, knock wood, no injuries to anyone involved.) She's learned how to sit already, and Dad's teaching her to catch bread cubes. She looks to be at least part Australian cattle dog, and they're apparently good at playing ball and frisbee, so maybe next summer...

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Speed Demon

That has to have been the fastest pair of mittens I've ever knitted.

I cast on Wednesday night, cast off Friday at knit night, blocked and dried them overnight, and delivered them to Marianna this morning at 10:30 - slightly damp around the cuffs still, but done and tagged and ready for her to give as a Christmas gift. AND I remembered to take pictures before leaving this morning.

I do not want to knit at that speed on a regular basis.

Except for a few rows on a sock foot redo, there has been no knitting today, for a change. I finished picking up a few things for Christmas, then got the cookies for the exchange baked. Holiday Oatmeal cookies, with coconut and raisins and nuts and maraschino cherries.

I needed 48 cookies for the exchange. The recipe produced 50. Sooo...48 neatly bagged, and two in me. After all, I had to make sure they were good, didn't I?

Friday, 14 December 2012

2012 Stashdown: Year in Review.

Back in January, I signed up for a local 12in2012 stashdown. Now we're getting down to the end of the year (Already? What's up with that?), and the call is out for us to tally our results. So I went and hunted out my original list to compare with what actually happened.

1: Myrosia's scarf. Currently at 3 feet long, it will probably be my first complete project of the KAL.
Another week, and she will be able to wear it this winter. Completed.
2: My gold Pamina socks. About 3/4 done. Completed.
3: My Autumn Rose sweater, which I had hoped to finish last spring. It's been on hold, but maybe it will be done for THIS spring. Fail. Didn't even touch it.

Stash Projects:
4 and 5: A lace shawl and a lace scarf from Joanne's cria. She didn't think she could do justice to her share of the spun yarn, so she requested that I make something. Completed, and greatly appreciated.
6: The lace shawl from my handspun for the Guild challenge. I got the stitch patterns figured out, I just need to do some math. May knit a sample scarf first (I've some laceweight alpaca in stash), so I could get two projects out of this. Completed, as a triangular shawlette.
7: A textured stripe cardigan/jacket in Briggs and Little I got from a destash. Pattern is called Marsh, it's in a magazine I have but not on Rav yet. Maybe I can enter it when I get to needing it. Fail. Forgot all about it, in fact. I think I found another possible pattern for the yarn, too.
8: Socks in the grey alpaca I bought at Rhinebeck year before last. Pattern "Alpha" in last winter's Interweave Knits. Fail. Got part of one sock done, then it got pushed aside.
9: More handspun - the Borealis sweater in my peacock 3-ply. Someone I know made the sweater, and it looked so good I went to find the pattern. It's a bulky weight cowl-necked fitted tunic sort of sweater, and ought to go comparatively fast. Completed and loved. Required more math than I expected, since my yarn was about half the weight of the original. 

So 6 out of 9 of my originally planned projects got done - but when I started going over my projects on Rav, I found another 10 this year that count as stash-down, which means I did theoretically destash a fair amount of yarn - and most of the FOs went to other people. Why the stash doesn't look noticeably smaller is a mystery. I swear I didn't buy too much this year. Maybe it really does breed when you're not looking.

The word is that we may do a 13in2013 next year. I am so in.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

On To The Fun Part

It's been a bit crowded this past week. 5 final exams in 4 days, and finished off all but one of my commissions for people at school.

Erin's mittens

Marilyn's baby set

Marianna's fingerless mitts

But as of about 10:30 this morning, it's Christmas vacation for yours truly. Well, in a manner of speaking, anyway! I don't leave town until Tuesday, but in that space, somehow, I get to cram in the following:

- Finish the last pair of mitts commissioned by a classmate, and pass them on to her. I cast on last night, and the first mitt is over half done. They're for a Christmas gift, so definitely they get priority.

- Clean the apartment. Properly. It's been kind of neglected lately - and I've got a friend coming to stay Monday. So I will have to find places to put things besides on piles everywhere, and then see about removing the cobwebs and cat hair and whatnot...

- Dye 2 skeins with indigo, and start my Christmas knitting. It's not much (redo the feet on a pair of socks, and knit a stole) and neither piece is really 'due' until after Christmas.

- Bake cookies for a cookie exchange on Sunday. No rolled cookies this time - I'm thinking our family Holiday Oatmeal cookies, with coconut and maraschino cherries and raisins and nuts. Nice simple drop cookies, and the dough is practically addictive.

-  Finish a bit of Christmas shopping, and pick up the ingredients for the cookies. I think I can do that all in one session, and maybe work in handing off the mitts at the same time. Nothing like getting all the errands done in one shot.

- Maybe, just maybe, if I have time, put up my little Christmas tree. Didn't get to it last year. It's not as important usually since I'm out of town for the holidays, but if my friend is here, it'll be nice for her to have a bit of decoration. I'm thinking if I can find a place for my schoolbooks, the tree should fit on the dining table...

You know what? It sounds like a lot, but it's all fun stuff, really. Even the cleaning. I don't usually like it, but I feel a tidying mood coming on to fill the space where school assignments used to be. Now to roll up my sleeves and get cracking!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Awesome New Skills Week

In a way it seems kind of odd that the last few weeks of the semester, after most of the outdoor work is done, would be the ones that I'm learning the most new hands-on stuff. But that's kind of what this week has been.

Back in September there was the set of three Fridays with lectures on Workplace Safety. Now that we've all survived for a couple months longer, (having taken those lessons to heart), we get the practical part. Last Friday I spent the day doing training for emergency first-aid and CPR-B. At that level you don't get a huge amount of skill / knowledge, and it does assume you are in an urban area, with access to phones and an ambulance within 10 minutes distance. But knowing CPR basics, basic checks and steps for things like stroke and heart attack, bleeding, choking, heat stroke, frostbite...well, it's all good to have. And the booklet we get covers more, so I figure we can read up a bit on our own. There is apparently a wilderness first aid course also, which might be a good idea to take at some point. That one sounds like it might be better for us country types, since it apparently covers more of what to do if you don't have a phone or ambulance nearby, and the injured person will be on your hands for a longer time.

So I have a nice little card that labels me as having first-aid/CPR training, and today I added one that says I'm trained for Elevated Work Platform with Fall Arrest. Which basically means an amiable and garrulous trainer came in and taught us the safety procedures for working at a height, showed us how to  inspect and wear safety harness, and then made sure we each got a chance on one or both of the pieces of equipment brought in - a scissor lift (the little rectangular ones you see in malls and things, basically a platform on wheels that can go up 20 feet or so) and a boom lift (arm with a basket, adjustable length and angle up to 40 feet, sort of a cherry-picker type). Yup. I've gotten to drive both of them and play with the raising and lowering. Much better than I though it would be, given I'm not fond of heights. The trainer, I think, must have been quite brave or quite confident, since he parked his truck right behind the boom lift. No damage done, so it appears he was justified.

Exciting new skill number three of the week was winterizing equipment. I've never had much to do with motors - that's been dad's job, he's the mechanic, and I don't use motorized equipment at home anyway. So all completely new tasks, and I am very proud of the fact that I did most of an aerator by myself - changed sparkplug, changed oil, changed air filter, topped up gas, added stabilizer, cleaned and greased joints, and gave the whole thing a bit of a wipe-down before packing it away in the tool shed for the winter. Pretty cool. I think tomorrow we learn to sharpen tools. I hope so - I have pruners that could use a tune-up.    

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Off Day

Well, I won't say it was a wasted day, exactly, but I don't think I will be putting in for a table at the RA Centre sale next year.

I was trying to decide what to take of my stuff to the sale, and ended up taking everything but the rovings - there are enough knitters out there now that I've been tending to sell both yarn and finished stuff at each show. Three bags (with Mom's rugs), and the clothes-dryer for hanging things. I didn't know what the exact dimensions of the space were, but figured I might be able to put the dryer up at the end of the table. Maneuvered the whole pile out the door, and hauled them and myself to the bus stop this morning. Good thing about Sunday morning - even if the busses are running less often, at least they're not too crowded.

45 minutes and two busses later, I was plodding across the parking lot of the RA Centre. Found my table, and got set up. I couldn't put the clothes-dryer up, though. Might have been able to squeeze it in, but someone at the table next to me was in a wheelchair, and we needed to keep the aisle space free. Completely reasonable, but that was a whole bag and the dryer I could have left at home. Anyway, the extra got shoved under the table, and I settled down with my knitting.

And would you believe it? Not one sale all day -  a first for me! I really don't think it was the right crowd, though. They would look at my stuff, maybe try on a mitt or feel a rug, look at the price, and put it down. And meanwhile, the pipe-cleaner and bead ornaments beside me and the gift baskets of Avon products and ruffled net scarves across the way were selling. Definitely not the right crowd!

I did manage to get almost all of a fingerless mitt done today, though. And I certainly won't have to worry about re-stocking for the sale next week in Ste. Agnes. Which means tonight I get to tackle the design for the first of the commissions I have from school. They certainly don't seem to think my prices are unreasonable!        

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Mostly Mittens

I think there's a knitting book by that title. At any rate, book or not, that's what's been in my knitting bag for a few weeks now, and what will mostly be in it for a few weeks more. I've been having fun with colorwork and gotten 3 pairs done for the sales this weekend and next. Yeah, there was only supposed to be the one more, but Mom signed us up for one in our neck of the woods too. The rest of this week, I think I will be doing a couple baby things, since there seems to be a baby boom going on, so the demand ought to be there.

And then I have now 5 pairs in queue commissioned from classmates. Three are for Christmas gifts, so I certainly know what my study projects will be. (I need to have something in my hands while studying, or I tend to fall asleep over my books.) That sounds like a lot, but only 2 pairs are full-sized mittens, the others are two pairs of fingerless mitts and one pair baby mitts. We are joking that while our green shirts  are the official uniform, at this rate, my mittens may be the unofficial one in the Hort building.

Lest you think it's been all mittens, I will show you a pic of what last weekend looked like. I was teaching my very first spinning class at Johanne's last Saturday. You can't see Jo in the picture, or one of the students, Josee, but Chantal and Josee's daughter (Anne-Sophie, I think it was) and Jean, are all visible, in Jo's cozy studio. I hope everyone learned something. A first class is a bit nerve-wracking, especially if you don't know the language distribution. Turned out Jean was the only one mostly English, everyone else mostly French with some English, so I ended up switching languages a lot.

It was a fun afternoon, and Jo is talking of doing a dye workshop over the Christmas holidays...well, if that goes through, that's me teaching again!
In the meantime, Mom and I started Christmas prep, so I have a few delectable little fruitcakes in the fridge. Next time it will be butter tarts and mince tarts, as fuel for exams ;)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Here and There

Whoops, disappeared for a while there. Been a busy week - Ex and Sale, group project for English, general studying and catching up...

We had a really nice weekend for the Ex and Sale, at least. A bit chilly, but not raining. I was really glad I didn't have to lug my stuff on and off the bus in the rain. And the colder weather makes people think of Christmas. I don't know if the attendance was as high as last year, but there were always people wandering around to booths and displays, demoing going on, and a buzz of conversation.

I made enough to make it worth coming back next year, for sure, and since most of the finished work went fast, I think that will be something to concentrate more on. I spent most of the time I wasn't talking to people in knitting and reciting plant names for this week's quizzes.

The cold weather coming in also means we need to get our outdoor work finished at school. I noticed when I was shoveling stone dust today that it was starting to freeze into chunks. But the walkway is progressing well, and we should hopefully have it finished in a week or so. Besides hauling stone dust today, I got to use the Core Cutter (the saw for the brick), help level stone dust, and lay brick. Can't you just see the frantic activity as we work? Like our uniform? Hort Couture, if ever there was. The big balding dude at right in one pic is our teacher, and he is very good at bellowing.

Yesterday I was helping with getting one of the water features cleaned up for winter, so between pond scum and stone dust, my pants and gloves have some pretty interesting residue this week!

One final thing the cold weather is bringing out, and that is the Christmas ads in flyers. I got the Canadian Tire one today. There seems to be a tacky tropical decorating trend I missed. Not only are there normal fake Christmas trees, but there are also pre-lit fake palm trees - and a lit pink flamingo and tinsel palm tree for the front yard. Oi. As if the normal pink plastic flamingos weren't enough!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Little Things

All three midterms done! One quiz this afternoon, and one Monday, but the crunch for school is over, and I can focus on getting stuff done for Garden Club, and for the OVWSG Ex and Sale, only a week away...

I'm very glad the crunch is over. I can remember important things, like what to study and when to show up, and getting assignments done - but apparently food is not on the 'important' list. There have been a couple things this week where something really obvious has slipped my mind. Yesterday it was lunch. Had a snack at school around 10:30, figuring with lab scheduled 11-2, the best thing was to have lunch after I got home. Well, I finished the lab, went to the library to print some stuff, came home, had tea, and worked until 8, had supper - and couldn't figure out why I was so hungry, until I realized that I hadn't eaten since my 10:30 snack.

But better yet was Wednesday. I made my tea that morning, as usual, but all the milk curdled when I put it in. Puzzling, since the milk was fine the night before, but certainly not a drinkable cup of tea. So I muttered, dumped the milk and the ruined tea down the sink, found a packet of green tea, and made a cup with the still-hot water left in the kettle. Took one sip - and it was awful! Since the tea had been around for a while, in sealed packets, I thought it had gone bad somehow, and I felt terrible that I'd given a cup to my mother for her trip home on Sunday. One of the guys at school is big into tea, and he said green tea can go off. Anyway, I gave the tea up as a bad job, threw out the remaining green teabags, bought a cup at school, and picked up fresh milk after class. I was so anticipating a proper cup of tea by then. Poured the milk in - and it curdled again!

It was at this point that I realized that the night before, I had set the kettle to descale, and had completely forgotten about it overnight. What was responsible for the milk curdling and the horrible green tea was the fact that I had actually been using vinegar water to make my tea. Three cups of tea ruined, and half a carton of milk and a box of green tea dumped, which were probably perfectly fine, because I forgot about the little fact of the descaling... Some days I wonder why they let me out without a keeper.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Rhinebeck 2012 Rundown

OK, so because I need a break from studying, you get the Rhinebeck rundown and loot viewing today. I was a good girl and studied in the car and at the hotel in the evenings, and I think the schedule's under control...
All the leaves have been falling here, so I was thinking we might miss seeing the fall color on the way down. There was plenty left, though. This is part of the Adirondacks on the way there, before those clouds came down and started raining.

It poured for hours, and when we got to Red Hook, we had to grab umbrellas and scamper to get into the antique shops without getting soaked. I found some National Geographic magazines from the 1920's, so those came home with me.

The rain let up for the evening, and we got checked in at the Delamater. See the arrow? That's our room. Right on the main drag in Rhinebeck, super nice, plenty of space, comfy beds, walking distance to the Festival. There was a kitchenette and a sitting room for the guests, too. Only downside was that the breakfast was mediocre. And no, you can't have it - we booked on the way out for next year!

The weather for Saturday was bright and sunny - in fact, too hot for most people to show off handknit sweaters by the time we got to the fairgrounds. It was a little disappointing to find that my expected supplier for indigo and thiox wasn't there. That was the main thing on my shopping list. Not that I had any problem finding things to buy. I picked up some gorgeous merino/silk roving in red and purple jewel-tones, undyed sock yarn in an alpaca blend, a huge skein of burgundy merino/silk laceweight, some books and magazines, and some lavender hand lotion.

We found a bit of time Sunday to say hi to the sheep and goats,

checked out the sheep-to-shawl teams,

and looked at entries for the Make it with Wool competition.

But that was it - Sunday noon we had to get going, to get home at a decent hour. But there is one more pretty to show you. Johanne got her yarn and rovings back from the mill last week, and I got a couple bags of the cria roving to spin for her. Colors like chocolate and dulce de leche, with a light streak in each. Super soft, and I can't wait to see how it spins and knits up.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

See You Later, I'm Off

I'm thinking it's entirely possible that this will be my last blog post for the next week. Things are about to get crazy.

Tomorrow night I leave town for Rhinebeck. Packing of done. I still need to make sure I print a map, pack the appropriate knitting needle/yarn combinations, the last-minute toiletries, and school study materials, and get some American money out of the bank. But the restaurant reservations are made, at least.

And why am I bringing school stuff to a wool festival? Because I have 3 midterms and a quiz next week. Yup. Plus an English assignment due Monday - a business letter in reply to a call for companies interested in re-landscaping a fictitious City Hall. (We talked the prof out of a quiz the same day), and some research to do for Garden Club. This is why I will be disappearing. I expect I will be spending most of the time in the car and in the hotel room this weekend with a book open. I even (unusually for me) checked the hotel website to see if there was any indication of WiFi available. Found nothing, so I will have to likely do without internet - but the laptop's coming anyway. A sad state for me to be in!

Eh, bien, off to the shower and bed for me. It's been heavier labour at school this week, planting shrubs Tuesday, and digging and hauling dirt and gravel today, and I have a few sore muscles. The walkway is progressing nicely; all the digging is done except for removing the top layer of dirt/stonedust at the center, and we've started putting down gravel base at the sides. I will be very happy when all this preliminary stuff is done and we can start doing the fun stuff - re-laying brick patterns!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Winter Prep

Even though we're barely a month into autumn, officially, I feel like it's getting rather close to winter this week. (So do the squirrels, apparently. Lots of activity there.) There was frost predicted for Thursday night, so in our Thursday lab at school, we ripped out most of the annuals and put them in the compost. It's much pleasanter and easier to take out green plants than slimy, post-frost remains. Our section is near the front door, so there were a lot of annuals - snapdragons, nicotiana, red salvia, zinnias, and ptilotus (which were new to me, also known as joeys, and look sort of like tapered lavender bottlebrushes with succulent leaves like a sedum.) Kind of felt bad taking things out, since they still looked nice, but we salvaged several bouquets' worth, one of which is brightening the coffee/tea corner at school. Apparently we have some vases at school for uses like this. I think I might try doing a bit more flower-arranging there next summer.

I picked my remaining beets and emptied the veg garden at home that afternoon. I guess it was just in time, since there were actually flurries around on Friday. Not a lot, and nothing stuck, but there was something in the air that was falling a lot slower than rain... Got the beets and some random radishes pickled yesterday and made a huge pot of stew with the veg I brought home from school the other week.

I finished the diagonal striped mitts I was working on Thursday, and they look very Christmassy, so right in theme with the colder weather.

I really like the way the idea came out, and I definitely want to do a whole pattern range with it.

And now...less than a week until Rhinebeck! I've signed up to play Bingo again, have to make dinner reservations tonight for Friday and Saturday, and do a little studying, since I get my quiz two days early, so I can leave town Thursday night. Tomorrow I'm at the Ottawa Knitting Guild vendors' night, with a load of pretties to sell, all packed up and ready to go.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Studio Opening

Well, Johanne's opening for the studio and store at her L'Ourse Qui Danse ranch went wonderfully. It looked a bit like rain, but ended up being great weather - very important for anyone wanting to go say hi to the alpacas!

I hadn't seen the studio since before they started fixing it up, so I remembered it as a cement-floored, ladder-to-the-loft, cobwebby outbuilding. I got updates on the progress of the renovations, but still, you never know quite what to expect until you see the results. Let me show you the new look!

You drive up or walk up, and see the front of the studio.

Then you get to the honey brick doorstep, and open the door. The main floor is divided into two parts, with the store area right in front of you as you walk in. Racks and antique cupboards hold alpaca yarn and products from the ranch.

As you walk in to see the things at the back, the space opens out on your left into another room with stairs against the back wall. This is the workshop/social sort of space - cozy, furnished with chairs, a table if needed, and the makings of tea on the antique stove at the corner, and two windows, one looking out onto an alpaca pasture. I spent the day spinning in the corner by the window, where you see my wheel.

Up the stairs there are more alpaca things on the wall and on the landing, then you enter the studio space, with looms and equipment.

It's a super cozy, homey space, and I think a lot of the people who came felt that also. Granted, quite a few people knew either one of the ranch team or other visitors, but it really seemed more like a party than a store opening. There were snacks and drinks, and people chatted and admired, and signed up for classes - and I don't think anyone just came, toured, and left. I swear most of them stayed for at least 2 hours.

The only drawback to the day was my cold. 7 or 8 hours of talking - or croaking -  to people (mostly in French) and spinning proved to be tiring, and by the time the guests were cleared out and we all had a chat about the day, I was definitely not up for my cousin's reception. Mom and I went home and had tea and supper, and I tried knitting a bit, but I was falling asleep. So, rather amusingly, the parents got dressed up and went out to party, and I said goodnight, have fun, and rolled into bed at 9. It proved a good call - I was able to garden all day Sunday!

Friday, 5 October 2012

See Amanda Run

See Amanda. See Amanda run. See Amanda drying yarn and blocking pillow cover pieces.

Only to discover the pillow top is on the small side. Hmm.
See Amanda run around stacking interlock pieces Wednesday, attending the inaugural garden club meeting at school, learning to drive a riding mower Thursday, and then dashing off to Deb's to make measurements and pictures for an assignment (on interviewing clients and getting the needed information, presented as a theoretical garden/landscaping renovation.)

Also, see Amanda succumbing to the lure of Chapters and purchasing both the new Knitting Traditions and Knits Holiday magazines from Interweave.
See Amanda catching the nasty cold going around at school. See Amanda navigating the Friday Safety lecture and quiz with the help of Tylenol and ginger tea. See Amanda looking ahead to Saturday demoing spinning all day with the prospect of a wedding reception that evening to go to...

Yeah, that was my week. Hope everyone else's was good. Tomorrow's demo is back home, at the official store/studio opening for Johanne's alpaca ranch, L'Ourse Qui Danse, in Godmanchester, Quebec. She wants me there to spin, and show off some of the natural dye colors, since the idea is that I may be teaching workshops on those topics at her store/studio. Just hope Jo doesn't mind me coughing and blowing my nose, and croaking. But unless I feel a heck of a lot better tomorrow, I'm going to try to avoid the reception. Very thankful (appropriately) this is a holiday weekend, and I have two days after tomorrow where I hopefully don't have to go anywhere, and someone else can cook and let the cat in and out, while I rest and do homework, and try to catch up on knitting...

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Piling Up

I have no idea how some people manage to keep homes or workspaces relatively tidy. I suspect they have either less stuff or more space than I do. Last week I did a bunch of cleaning and tidying - and this week, apart from the decrease in feline dust-bunnies in the corners, it looks worse than before. My excuse right now is an influx of things.

The last few days, there has been dyeing going on. OKG Vendors' Night coming up in 2 weeks, and I've been filling in a few gaps in the stock. That means there's a drying rack in the bedroom, partly hung with skeins of yarn (the other half is devoted to the wool socks I washed the other day.) The last of the skeins just came out of the dyepot,  so I will at least be able to tidy the pots away soon. Will post pics when I get some taken.

And then there's the school stuff. I lugged an extra few pounds home today. Not only did our textbooks finally come in, but the garden harvest, having been duly weighed, measured, and analyzed, was put out for us to take home what we wanted. So I came home with carrots and parsnips and beets and celery and eggplants, in addition to 3 new textbooks (softcover, thankfully.) Counter space and table space all quite occupied now!

I'm not anticipating much tidying going on in the next few weeks, either. Thanksgiving, then Vendors' Night, then Rhinebeck (I get to go! My profs for the Friday classes are willing to let me make up those days elsewhere!), then the OVWSG Ex and Sale beginning of November. And fitted in there are assorted assignments, quizzes and midterms...ah, well, I'm sure it'll all get done somehow!

Tomorrow - must remember to bring camera to school - we're planting trees. Big ones. Apparently world tree day was last week. This should be fun.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Little Ramble

Just like little kids, I think our whole class was excited for the class trip on Friday. Get to school early, don steel-toed boots, grab any other gear we wanted, and out to the parking lot for the bus! Or rather, busses. There are 60 in the class, and since someone had said a school bus takes 72, I was a little surprised to see 2 busses in the parking lot. Well, it turns out 2 was a good idea. Not only is it harder to squeeze 2 adults than 2 kids into a school-bus seat, but if you take Hort students to an orchard and a garden center, it is perhaps not surprising that a little shopping gets done along the way.

First stop: Mountain Orchard. A very fast stop, really. We had a ride out to the back of the orchard, picked a few apples, heard a talk by one of the owners about the history of the enterprise and some of the methodologies, trials and triumphs in the business, and piled back on to the wagon to return. Our co-ordinator wanted us back on the bus and on the way to the college ASAP, but gave us 5 minutes to go to the store and make any purchases we wanted. Yeah, you can imagine the bottleneck. Stampede to the store, and subsequent slowdown as two cash registers try to deal with the sudden rush. I think it was a good 15-20 minutes before everyone was back on the bus. I came back with a jug of cider, and a bag of homemade doughnuts.

Being a little late to the college meant that that felt a bit rushed too. The plan had been that we were supposed to be able to watch some of the testing for Landscape Ontario certifications, and do some networking over lunch. Well, by the time my group had been for a talk (a good one, though) by someone in LO, most of the testing stations were being cleaned up for lunch. We had a tour of the stations, minus people actually using them, and sat down to eat lunch quickly. I ate and was looking to see if there was anyone who looked likely for chatting to, getting my courage up - and our co-ordinator spoke up and said we were all to be on the bus in 5 minutes and ready to go. Off again, to our last stop of the day.

I finally thought about getting the camera out when we got turned loose at Rideau Woodland Ramble, with an hour to explore. Big day for them - apparently they were on the Regional Contact segment on the news Friday as well as having all of us show up. As a garden center, they seem to specialize in unusual trees and shrubs, and shade plants like hostas. As a ramble, there's wooded paths, a pond, some garden sculptures and seats, work in progress on a sunken garden and a wildflower meadow - all quite compact, as the property is only 7 acres.
I'm not normally much one for garden sculptures, but they do have a knack. Certainly their choices are a far cry from garden gnomes and flamingos:

And it was nice to have a little color to set off the plants. The emphasis is so much on foliage and form, tranquility and contemplation, that I rather felt glad I had just been reading a chapter on Chinese and Japanese gardens in the history of gardens I got from the library, and so was in the right frame of mind.

The parallel was further carried out by the presence of a North American version of a teahouse - a little cabin, furnished with a couple pairs of tables and chairs, one of the coffeemakers with little individual cups of different teas and coffees (Keurig?), paintings on the walls, and a back entrance facing a spot with a birdbath and some bird feeders. The chickadees were bold and active, and I stood hardly 5 feet away and tried taking pictures of them as they came in for a bathe or a sip. Alas, they were too active for a really clear photo!