60 done

Yesterday was a day of accomplishment. After focusing very intensely for about a month, I finally finished the 60 book sample for achieving independence in subject cataloguing. It’s been a long haul, and in many way I still don’t feel ready to be no longer reviewed by my trainer, but it’s really inevitable, since he is retiring. We are losing too many at the library, and too much knowledge is passing without the time for it to be properly passed on. So my part is to take on the cataloguing of books in Iberoamerican history and literature, and face the fact that I’m going to get some of them wrong.

(Of course, I was getting somewhat close to being ready for independence — I’ve begun to disagree with my trainer. And that is one of the prime signs that you are developing the necessary skills because you have your own ideas about how the headings should be used. I will certainly try to follow some of his patterns, but not all. No, not all, at all.)

Ah, well, at least this time of testing is past.

In the meantime, I figured out a good excuse for the baby cardigan. If I can get it done with decent speed, I’ll give it to my new baby cousin (first cousin, once removed). The giving of it would be a fine time to go and see them.

Tomorrow I take off for my parents’ house for the holidays. See you next week when I get back.

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Infected

Just so you know, I’m not sick. At least not physically. Well, that is, if you don’t include the migraine headache that won’t quite let go this week — but I’m not infectious sick.

What I am is infected by blogs. To be precise, I am infected by startitis that is rampant on blogs.

Truthfully, it’s my own fault.

I started a new project.

I’m not sure what it is, really, or why I felt I had to do this. I was just in a mood, unhappy with most of the knitting projects on the needles, unable to find the time to do something with the sewing machine (you know, December busyness). And not quite sure what I wanted to do next on the machine anyway.

This is not to say that I don’t have a selection of possibilities. There’s the muslin to do a pattern shaping thing for the dress I’ve already made, plus the material to do the next one. There’s the little pin squares for SAI members that I want to do. There’s the binding to add to the harmonic convergences experiment I did. I could always drag out the handwork for the denim quilt back or the crossstitch that never goes away (have I told you about that one yet? If I haven’t I will, believe me.) Or even the next embroidery project(s) I have in mind. There’s the spinning that I have on the list. And of course in the knitting area I have the shawl, the sock, the other shawl, the afghan (one block), the cardigan (not actually started yet, just swatched), the scarf (also just swatched). But I felt restless, wanting to start something new, and both the cardigan and the afghan didn’t quite qualify because I wasn’t ready enough to move on them.

Knitting blogs constantly show progress, new projects impulsively started, and in some ways I find this inspiring, but they make me want to START lots more than I can finish, and I know it, so — all right! It’s not their fault. It’s all me. I just wanted to see if it was really true — baby clothes are quick knits. (We’ll see; so far I’m suspicious of the statement, but the lack of speed may be more due to lack of time. I’m taking it with me over the holidays, so we’ll see how it goes when I’ve got some concentrated knitting time.) I wanted to actually work on a sweater, one with sleeves, before I did it on a big scale with the purplish cardigan (that’s next on the tell-you-about-it project list). I wanted something ready for the next baby shower to come along (several occurred recently). I wanted — something new.

So, I started a baby cardigan. I picked up some Lamb’s Pride Worsted from the knitting store — I had to go there for something else and I have nothing suitable in my small stash — and checked out a book from the library — Tadpoles and tiddlers by Rowan — and picked out a charming baby cardigan pattern. It’s called Jammy Dodger by Louisa Harding. I like the simple stitch pattern, which is easy to memorize, and so far I’m enjoying it, even though I only have a couple of inches of the back to show (I did do a swatch, but only a very brief one that I then ripped).

I still blame the blogs.

Intro to projects 8

Well, it’s been busy this past week with Christmas stuff and just living. I’ve been busy at work and actually working some extra hours, since I was in the work mode of thinking and I needed the extra hours. And so that has gotten in the way of actually posting about the Christmas project that crops up every year now for the past three or four. And what is it? Answer: Christmas stockings.

One of the groups I meet with at work during lunchtime is a quilting group. It had, long before I got involved with it, a regular charity that they give to at Christmastime, providing stockings for needy children. I’ve been happy to contribute to it by making some stockings to give each year.

This year I was able to make four. Two of them were crazy patch stockings, and somewhat rushed, so I don’t know how good they are. The other two were me playing on my new machine. I made them out of red felt, and used green thread to do all these varied decorative stitches that came with the machine. I did take some pictures of those two, so I’ll put them up soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been reflecting on this whole war on Christmas thing that seems to be going on in American culture right now. Although I am definitely a Christian, this little contretemps strikes me as ironically humorous. Why? Because 1) Jesus wasn’t born on December 25 and 2) “Christmas” trees actually come from pagan symbols.

Now I’m not saying that some of the conservative types don’t have a point; the multiculturalism that gets rid of the Christian symbols in favor of the other symbols is a sign of a significant problem. If you are going to be open to adding the other holiday greetings of this season, well and good, but it doesn’t mean you should get rid of the Christmas meanings, it means you should add the others without getting rid of Xmas symbols. That’s what inclusiveness is.

But when you consider the fact the Christ Mass was grafted onto ancient pagan holidays and that, as I understand it, current scholarly thinking is that Jesus was actually born in the spring and that the wise men did NOT come on the night of his birth but some time within the first two years of his life, making an issue of this strikes me as, well, ironic. I’m perfectly willing to celebrate His birth at this time of the year, but the historical inaccuracy of it annoys me.

But then, there’s a lot about Christmastime that annoys me, especially the madhouse of consumerism that happens at this time of year. I love the season, but I have to limit its obsessiveness, otherwise it can take over your life.

With that in mind, here’s hoping you have a relaxing, peaceful holiday that doesn’t overwhelm you.

Winter drain

No, I am not talking about plumbing. I am actually talking about how tiring the weather can be.

I have found that during the dark part of fall and winter, when as happens all too often I go to work before the sun rises and leave after the sun sets, my energy is drained by the end of the day. When I was younger it wasn’t so bad, but then a lot of things change as you get older, so I don’t know why I’m commenting on the obvious. But it’s just that it’s become clearer to me in recent years especially that I really need sunlight, and even with sunlight, the cold severely drains me of energy, enough so that I do much less in the winter than at any other time of year.

For example, the other day we had snow, which meant that getting to work and getting back took special effort, I didn’t go out for lunchtime, and I was extremely chilled by the time I got in the door. I had barely two hours before bedtime, and I could barely function enough to get supper, much less DO anything.

Now, I’m not saying I’m like that every night of winter — I went out the next night — but I am far more likely to feel it in winter than I ever would in summer. I was talking to a friend about it today at lunchtime, and she asked me if it was SAD, but truly, I think it’s just an example of what everyone suffers from during winter; the SAD people just take it to an extreme because they feel the lack of light so much more intensely. And other people feel it far less, but then there are people who like the cold, which I don’t. I like light and heat, and I’m cranky if I don’t get it. (This will actually be another benefit of telework, since I get more light at home.)

Actually, thinking of SAD always reminds of Northern Exposure, and the episode where Walt, I think it was, was diagnosed with SAD, and so Dr. Fleischmann prescribed a light full-spectrum light for him to wear on his cap, and he overdosed on it. I really liked that show, but that episode stuck with me a bit more than some of the others. The final scene of Walt coming to the doctor’s office to get his daily dose of “sunlight” was rather funny.

Ah, well, tomorrow I get to see the sun.

Intro to projects 7

Now, let me see, where was I with #7? Oh, yes, the hooded towel.

Well, I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was clearing out old projects. Well, this was another of those old projects, more or less.

You see, my mother has the interesting tendency of cleaning out her closet/attic/boxes in general, and whenever she finds something of a crafty nature, she gives it to me to do with as I will. Sometimes it is supplies that I have absolutely no use for, and they get passed on. Sometimes it is actually something I might use — though rarely. And on occasion, it is an old project of hers that she never completed.

The hooded towel was one of those simple projects that you see and think — oh, I can do that! A friend at the church back where my parents attend made them for new babies and gave them at baby showers. It is simply a nice, soft towel, that has had a hood added to it, middle of the long side of the towel, decorated with some simple ribbon with some kind of nursery type decoration. The hood is made of the matching hand towel or something similar, that has been cut in half and then had a seam sewn across the cut edge to make a hood shape. Then the bottom edge of the hood is sewn onto the long side of the towel, at the midpoint, to make a towel that you can lay a baby in and have there head properly covered when they come out of the bath.

So, Mom had actually sewn the hood, pinned the ribbon down, and …
stopped.

And there it stayed for quite a while; I don’t really know how long. Long enough that one of the pins was starting to show signs of rust! So when she gave me this bag of stuff for me to go through, I looked at that and said to myself, “Oh, I can finish it easily.” Well, it was easy, though I did make one small mistake, but then I’m still figuring some things out, and it took me a while to get around to it. But that, let’s use the new machine urge is still active, and I’ve just in general been very focused on do something crafty on a regular basis now. So I finished it the other night, just in time to give at a baby shower. But I am going to wash it first, just to be sure it’s in good condition for a baby to use.

Edited to add: I gave it at the baby shower, and it was well-received. I think I may make some more.

Stop the presses!

Well, today some exciting news came that I simply must share! Telework has returned!

Now, to give some background…
Where I work, the prospect of telecommuting was a long time coming. A coworker of mine, recently retired, was actually one of the moving forces behind it actually happening, but it took her a very long time. Since I work at a library, one of the reasons that management was so reluctant was that they didn’t like us taking the books off of library property to work on them; other reasons had to do with them being fairly hidebound. I’m not saying that they didn’t have legitimate concerns, just that they were so stuck in the mud that they weren’t even interested in trying to figure out solutions, but instead wanted to ignore it as a possibility. Fortunately, they can’t, since Congress is really pushing telework these days just to get people off the roads, not to mention the possibilities of greater productivity and security concerns.

Anyway, about three plus years ago, through long, hard contract negotiations between labor and management, we got a telework pilot project. I was lucky enough to be one of those who got to work in it for two and half years. It was, for me at least, and the general consensus was for most everyone else as well, hugely successful. I was able to work at home two days a week, and was so much more productive on those days that it wasn’t even funny. I loved it! (five hours of travel time saved, plus approximately $20 in metro costs, the flexibility of working at home on days like today when snow hits, etc.)

To continue, the pilot project came to an official end back in September of this year, and there was considerable nervousness about whether or not we would be able to get it back. The union pushed it. (I’m not really a big Labor person, but there is no doubt that they serve an important purpose. Something like this is a prime example.) Some of the managers wanted it; others were less happy, I think. But it went through! Today we got the official announcement that it would happen, beginning again in January, and that applications would be reviewed after the deadline of 12/16. My application is already in. Yeah!

Now, of course, there is no guarantee that I will be a participant. There is a limited number of computers to be used, and because of the kind of work I do, I have to use one that they provide. But even if I have to wait, I will eventually be able to do it again, I have no doubt. It is something significant to look forward to, I’ve got to say.

Yes! Yes! telework is back!

Intro to projects 6

On to the next project to introduce — you know, it’s only when I list them off like this and number them that I realize how many projects I actually do (as in finished), am doing, and would like to do. Just wait until I get to the list of ideas.

Now the sweatshirt cardigan is something I actually saw way back in college. A friend who had some sewing skills had made herself one very simply. I was inspired enough to want to follow suit and even bought a cheap sweatshirt and some edging material. But then I never followed through. I’m not sure why, perhaps just too busy, not quite enough interested in craft/sewing things yet, not enough comfortable space in our room for a sewing machine — who knows? But I set it aside and started packing the sweatshirt with my craft stuff for years. Until now.

About a month ago I was watching Sewing with Nancy, and it was a show with a woman named Mary Mulari, who had written at least two entire books on doing stuff to sweatshirt to jazz them up. And I’ve been going through old things, trying to finish off old projects that never got off the ground and otherwise clean out my sewing fabric box. (Basic rule, to avoid extreme amounts of stash of whatever kind, buy a box of some kind and stick with that as the limiting factor. You can only buy enough to fit in it, and past that, you must use it up or get rid of it.) Since I’ve got this nice, new machine, I’ve been using it. So this time, I actually was able to check out one of the books she had written, though not the one I actually wanted — I’ll try again later to get the first one, because I have a feeling it may be a little bit more helpful. But enough to show me some ideas to get me started.

All I really want is to put a simple fabric edging around all edges, add some kind of button or clasp, and have a warm, casual cardigan that I’ve personalized for myself. Interestingly, reading the book did give me a option that I hadn’t considered before. I can get rid of all the elastic edges around a sweatshirt with limited effort and little problems with raveling. This pleases me, because often the elastic is too tight for the size of the sweatshirt. I’ve already removed the wrist edges and the bottom. Now all that is left is the neck. The problem then will be cutting the center line of the cardigan (instructions are in the book), then putting an edging on in combination with interfacing, so as to give it proper support. Since none of the patterns she gives does exactly what I want, I’ll have to improvise a little. That’s actually why I want to look at the first book rather than the second one that I have, because I think of what I want as very simple — it’s the fabric that gives the pizzazz, not the design — and I would assume that the first book would tend to have the simpler styles. Maybe it will have more explicit instructions for what I want!

Anyway, that the #6 project. We’ll continue the progression next time.

Intro to projects 5

Back again from Thanksgiving, and finally getting back into my routine. I always have a hard time getting into a routine after vacation, especially when I come back at the beginning of the week. This time I came back on Monday — no way! was I traveling on the Sunday after Thanksgiving — and then I had an unusual week with two telework days. So here it is Sunday before I feel fully back into routine. And this week looks to be off kilter as well, with snow probably coming tomorrow, waking up this morning with a migraine, and several nights with things to do. But in the meantime…

One fun thing I did over the holiday was re-teach my 8-yr.-old nephew to knit; he actually finished a little scarf. Now he did have me there to correct his mistakes, but he’s the one who kept doing for most of Sunday afternoon (rainy and chilly) and actually produced a 10-stitch wide scarf of approximately two feet.

I also taught my sister how to knit. I had made her a felted hat and matching scarf by knitting. I think she must have been thinking about it for a while, but really I think she was seduced by the fascination of knitting. Interestingly, since she already crochets, she picked up the Continental hold without me even showing her, although I did mention it as something I wanted to show her, because I thought she might prefer it. But I didn’t even have to show her a picture of the hold, she said she did because it just felt natural — who am I to argue? I may have to get her to show me how it can be comfortable, because so far it just hasn’t worked for me, and I’d like to be able to do it for Fair Isle knitting, one color in each hand.

Right now, I’m benefiting from one of my Xmas gifts. This year my brother and his wife got me the wireless keyboard I’ve been wanting for quite a while. It is much more comfortable to type with the keyboard close and comfortable, at the right height, and without me having to lean toward the desk. Now the only two things that I need for my computer are the DVD-RW drive to replace my broken one and a flatscreen monitor. (Of course, the list of “needs” is really endless, but I try to be controlled about it.)

Anyway, to get to the projects I am introducing.
5 — knitted dishcloth
6 — sweatshirt cardigan
7 — hooded towel
8 — charity Christmas stockings
9 — purple/brown cardigan with handspun

You know, each one of these actually has a background to explain, so let me just do #5. I did a simple dishcloth using the Sugar & Cream yarn that is 100% cotton and meant for this purpose. I used the stitch pattern called Chinese waves from a site I found just by wandering on the Internet. It looks very nice — the site I mean — and I really like the pattern.

I liked it so much that I’ll probably get more of it and start using it as my easy carry along pattern that I can easily give as gifts. Interestingly, at the two nearest yarn stores, I haven’t seen this yarn. I only found it at A.C. Moore. I wonder why that is?

Anyway, I’m going to go and pay attention to the tv right now. The interesting “biography” of Leonardo da Vinci is on right now, and even though I’m recording it — it continues past my bedtime, I am still interested enough to watch as much as I can. In fact, having halfway watched the show before it, talking about the story of the Da Vinci Code, I may actually have to get around to reading it, as well as the book from which it supposedly took many of its basic idea, Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Richard Leigh. The ideas are fairly wild, and pretty definitely wrong, according to the show, but at least the Code should make a good read.

See you tomorrow.