Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Public thanks

Baseball talk will soon be over and the football inundation began weeks ago, so I just want to give a public thank you to the Cincinnati Reds one last time. I can't remember the last time I was still paying attention to baseball in the last week of September. It was probably 1999, when they ended the season tied with the Mets for the Wild Card spot, and lost in a tie-breaker game.

Since then, each season has been an exercise in hopes being dashed by the All-Star break and last year, I deleted my bookmark of the team website before August.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, it would be awesome for them to make the playoffs (and it is still mathematically possible), but really I'm just happy that they've put together a decent season. They may or may not make the .500 mark (if they don't, it will be close), but no matter what happens I will have hope for next year and I have enjoyed following them this year. Maybe their improved play might even cause me to invest in broadcasting, so I can see them play more often and not just read about it.

Because of my show, it looks unlikely that I'll be able to make it to one of their games here in Pittsburgh this weekend, but I will certainly be listening on the radio and rooting them along! They will need it, as the Pirates have really turned around their season and become a more formidable opponent than before. (In a perfect world, the Reds win but Freddy Sanchez gets enough hits to win the batting title. The Pirates fans deserve something to be happy about for sticking with them for 14 losing seasons!)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Swallowtail Shawl

The good news is that I really like the pattern, and it is going quickly and looks pretty.

The bad news is that I made a mistake in counting the number of times I had repeated the main lace chart, and I had to rip back 8 rows of lace. About 200 stitches per row. I used all of my knitting time Sunday (plus a little more than I should have) to undo the work I did on saturday.

It's all done now, and I'm moving through the second chart. The p5tog are slowing down the purl row a lot and are the first stitch to make me wish for a really pointy needle for lace. The second time through I made the nubbs much looser and I am having an easier time on the current purl row. I also considered sanding down the tips of my clover circular, but decided that a super-pointy needle is somewhat dangerous on the bus. There are only 5 rows with the p5tog, and I'm sure now that I am past the "shock" of the first row I'll be fine.

I have the pattern and yarn for my next lace project, but it's a present for a reader and I won't be blogging about it. ;-) I also need to get back to the ribbed sweater. I want to baste it together and check the fit before I weave in ends, block and sew it together...but I haven't made time for that yet.

Also running around my brain is the question of how many christmas presents I'm going to knit this year. Not sure yet. All I do know is that it won't be as many as the last two years...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Theater Pet Peeves

Saturday's post was something that I think about almost every time I go to a show. It's a pet peeve that comes up each time the lights go out, the curtain goes down and some members of the audience get up to leave just as the applause is beginning. Yes, I know that it takes a few minutes to leave the building when you wait until after the applause to get up. But are you really so important that can't possibly spend those 5 minutes slowly filing out of the theater in exchange for rewarding the performers for their hard work. Is it REALLY too much to ask that you not be incredibly rude?

My other regular pet peeve is the need that Pittsburghers seem to have to give EVERY performance a standing ovation. A standing ovation doesn't mean anything in this town anymore...because every stands for everything. And I was disappointed to note the same phenomenon on Broadway (though I could be easily convinced that the cast of Sweeney Todd deserved it and NYC crowds don't stand for just everyone.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A big pet peeve of mine... people who leave during the blackout, before performers have taken their bows! Grrrrr

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

15 items

Dulaan 2007 has officially been announced

Since the goal for the program is one more item than last year, my personal goal will be to do my part and send at least one more item than I did in 2006. There were 14 items in the box I sent, though 2 were made by a friend. So maybe if we each increase by one we can send a box with 16 items. :-)

I think I have two hats knitted, but they need to have their ends woven in. And I've completed 1 and 1/3 of a pair of mittens. I start a Dulaan item whenever I want something quick and small to work on or whenever my main knitting projects are all too big for the bus.

There are plenty of knitting charities out there. For some reason this one speaks to me. At some point I might find one closer to home. But until I find a place here where I can personally deliver items that I can see being used, Dulaan is the charity project for me. (Given the quantity of hospitals in SW PA, it seems like it would be easy to find a local charity, but so far my web searches have only hit upon national organizations.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Home & Stash Enhancement

I think it has for a while, but I can definitely say now that Pittsburgh feels like home.

I spent the weekend with family in Ohio. (Work unfortunately prevented R from joining me.) They do a great job of making me feel at home and the people that we visit are all parts of my very earliest memories, but there was a certain sense of relief at coming through the Fort Pitt tunnel and seeing "my city". And also knowing that I was a few short minutes from my husband, my house and my cats. But it does make a lot of sense that seeing the city skyline would have a feeling of arrival. All of my time here has been spent living in the east end, and most of my trips have been to the north (buffalo) or west (ohio)...meaning that most of my return trips meaning pass by or through the city to get home.

A month or two ago I hit the point where I had spent more years living here than any other city. And when you consider that I have few memories of my first 3-4 years of life living in Ohio, it's not hard to believe that this feels like the place I've lived the longest as well. (For the record, I'm counting my college years as being a Pittsburgh resident, despite the fact that my drivers license was issued by New York State. Just a technicality in my mind.)

I'm not saying that we'll never, ever leave (ultimatums are dangerous), I'm just glad that someplace has come to feel like home to me.

I'm also not trying to discount my connection to the city where I was born and where my family lives. But given that almost no one there still lives in the home that they were in when I grew up, the visit most likely to send sentimental chills up my spine would be a walk down the street where we lived or a visit to my elementary school playground. :-) Maybe someday.

Now to the YARN.

On Saturday we went to The Wool Gathering at Young's Dairy Farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Where do I begin?!?

Let me just say that this was my first fiber festival, and I think it was a good introduction. Not too big, not too small and not so swarmed with knitters that you had to buy what you saw as soon as you saw it (though there was one item that wasn't there when I returned - oh well). Following the example of other bloggers, I limited my purchases to those that I could only get at the festival. And I also didn't write anything down as I went, so a yarn or vendor had to be memorable for me to return.

We took a couple of hours to visit all of the booths after a stop at the duck-herding dog pen. (yes, you read that correctly). We missed the sheep shearing demo - arriving just as they were finishing, and didn't make it back before we had to leave. But we did get ice cream, so all was not lost. :-) During lunch, I strategized a game plan for my purchases and snapped up my yarn fairly swiftly. I did have a couple of color decisions to make, but I forced myself to go with my gut.

I bought 3 skeins (400 yd/skein) of a hand-painted, sport weight wool/hemp blend. It's not scratchy, as you would expect from the blend, and I think it will be enough for a short sleeved cardigan. The colorway is primarily blue, purple and gray, with some pink and cream tones. I'm anxious to see how it knits up.

Just down the tent was an alpaca farm that had sport or fingering weight hand-painted alpaca. (One of my priorities was hand-painted yarn, and there really wasn't as much of it as I had expected.) I debated between two colorways and whether I should buy one (for wrist-warmers) or two (for socks) for a little while. I ended up going with a tan/lavender/pink colorway and getting one...think specifically of Mrs. Beeton, partially because I have been listening to Cast On recently.

The next stop was the booth of an alpaca and llama farm. I chose a skein of alpaca from a shelf that had a photo of the alpaca that most of the fiber came from. No name, but a cute face. :-) It's a two ply, hand spun, where one ply is lighter brown and the other darker brown - natural fiber color. I also bought a skein of a chocolate brown alpaca llama blend. There were many natural color alpaca yarn options throughout the festival, and I'm pretty sure that there were less expensive yarns (and similar) yarns available. But I really liked the woman at this booth and I liked that she had the donating alpaca's photo. ;-)

The last stop was the only knitting shop booth that really interested me. I bought a locally spun/painted lace weight in 95% merino and 5% cashmere. They had some pretty, hand-painted silk which I considered, but none demanded to be purchased for some reason. I was also drawn to the booth because of several tubs of beads. I have been wanting to try a project that includes beads, so I bought a large bag of lavender beads that can be used for Mrs. Beeton and which will leave me enough left over to experiment with a little bit.

My only other comment is that after seeing a spinning demonstration and some of what is involved, I think I would enjoy learning to spin at some point, just to gain a better understanding of the yarn. But I don't see myself taking it up as another vocation. As it is, I don't have as much time to knit as I would like, and I'm not at all dissatisfied with the yarn that I can purchase. I also can't see myself doing any yarn dying - mostly because I have enough trouble keeping the kitchen clean without making a big dying mess!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Last night I met with the Technical Director, the Director and the Stage Manager. And piece by piece we discussed each set piece, what parts of it are in the TD's cost estimate and what isn't. We talked about what's in the theater's stock and what isn't. We talked about what he can get done this weekend even if I don't finish the design.

The result - we're still very close on the budget, but I think it is doable. I think. Much more so than I thought it was a few days ago. There are still negotiations to be had, but I have a better understanding of how the TD plans to spend the money so I can make design decisions accordingly. He was nice enough to offer up his salary to buffer the set budget and he said multiple times how sorry he is that we can't build everything exactly has I first had it drawn, but while I appreciate that I'm not going to take advantage of him. I said that if he wants to put up his salary as a contingency, that's fine. But I'm not going to add his salary to my budget as if I don't think he'll deserve every penny for how much work I know he's going to be doing.

The best part is that he doesn't need that much more from me before the weekend. There is enough that he knows he can do to keep him busy, and he's still discovering more in the theater's stock as he digs through the layers of wood. I will be taking my laptop with me on the family visit, but there won't be any guilt when I'm not working on it. :-)

The image above is to give you an idea of the scope of this set. (this isn't the latest version, but it's close) The columns are existing and the dark gray flats are audience seating. I've hidden the back wall for a little bit of clarity (right side of the model), but everything else needs to be built and painted. It's big.

The software is sketch-up from Google. We have the purchased software at work and I've downloaded the free beta version for home. Happily, I can't see much difference between the two and I can open the same file in both versions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Must Vent

The set that I'm designing is very large - lots of building and lots of painting. And now it's over budget. So construction can't start until we have the budget under control, but the show opens October 20th. My concerns are two-fold. One, I don't have a lot of time this weekend, so we need to figure out as much as possible tonight and tomorrow night. And two, the less detail that can be built means the more detail I need to paint. My design calls for trim pieces and some foam construction to give things dimension, but if we can't afford the trim and foam the painting becomes that much more intensive because I'll need to put highlights and shadows on everything. Lastly, there is the issue that with so much to build I can't actually *start* painting anything until some building gets accomplished...

On top of all that, I'm feeling kind of "blah". Last weekend, even though it was four days long was not relaxing really. Too much time spent staring at the laptop and not enough knitting or just hanging out.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is the third anniversary electronics?

Today is our third anniversary. Two years ago we were in a lodge in Cook Forest (PA). Last year we were in St. Lucia. This year we stayed home...for a few reasons which include how busy things have been for R at work. He worked from home for most of last evening, had more to do this morning and finally finished up with emails and phone calls about 3pm. I'm not complaining. He was recently given a nice raise as thanks for all of the extra work he's been doing. Plus, I have several things going on this weekend that would have made a trip somewhat complicated.

This morning I finished my first sleeve of my ribbed sweater and we watched some of the coverage of the procession and funeral for the mayor of Pittsburgh. After lunch at our neighborhood coffee shop, we took Nora to the vet. (Apparently all of the wrestling and playing with Stewart has worked off about a pound of weight. She's healthy otherwise, but because she's 10 the vet wants her to start coming every 6 months. Partially so that the two vaccines she needs don't have to be given in the same appointment.)

For the evening, we had dinner at Mad Mex - a local chain - followed by a little clothes shopping for me and the purchase of a new DVD player. We got the second season of LOST this week, and it wasn't playing properly in the 10-year old DVD player in the living room and only playing moderately well in the 5-year old one upstairs. Given the low price of DVD players these days, we just upgraded.

Also, I want to give a quick report on last weekend. All dirty dishes and laundry were cleaned. All floors were cleaned and/or vacuumed. Work was done on my set design, though not enough. I will need to do more on that tomorrow. It is fun to work on it in 3D, though I will have to go back and do a little drafting once the plan has settled to be able to add dimensions.

Lastly, I want to say (with surprise) that 2 day work weeks are not good. It's too short to feel like you've accomplished anything, and with my job the likelihood of having to stay late to get something done before leaving for the weekend is too high for a 2 day week. It wasn't awful, but it makes me think that working part-time would be somewhat unpleasant. Possible, but stressful.

Here is a photo of that dog blanket I made this summer.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My post from Friday...

(It helps immensely if the message is sent to the correct address)


Work has been busier than expected this week - I've been kind of a marketing diva, doing lots of the things that our past marketing people have done. The officers are currently interviewing for a new one, and I'm the one here with the most Photoshop, Powerpoint, graphics experience and interest. A couple of weeks ago I put together a proposal, and we got short listed so I put together the Powerpoint presentation for the interview this week. Also, my boss designs opera sets and I spent a few days helping him with the graphics for his design. He paints the images or has me find them online, and then we make collages and adjust his paintings to get everything to work together. It's really kind of cool to see another set designer work first hand. Something to keep in the back of my mind in case it might ever apply to one of my sets.

This weekend there isn't much of anything on the calendar, but there is stuff to do. My current set design needs to be flushed out and fairly well finalized by a week from tomorrow (at the latest). So I need to crank on it this weekend. Also, the house is a big mess, and knowing that my schedule is going to be busy for the next two months tells me that I need to get it under control before things get crazy. I'm not spending three days cleaning, but I do need to clean the floors, clean the bathroom, get caught up on dishes and laundry at the very least.

Also, I need sleep. I've let myself stay up a little too late a couple of nights and it just isn't a good scene. My tolerance isn't what it used to be, and since the schedule has been pretty open the past couple of months I've gotten used to having "me" time every night...which isn't really an option when I get home after 9:30 or 10.

The endless, boring back of my ribbed sweater is nearing the end. Two hours in the car for work on Wednesday helped me through the worst of it. I hope to start a sleeve this weekend. I also have a few phone calls to make. I missed a friend's birthday last week (bad Amy) and owe a few friends a return call.

If all of the above goes well, maybe I'll finally post some of those pictures that I've been promising for so long. :-)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Darn it

I sent a nice post from work on Friday to comment on my weekend plans and a few other things. Guess I should have checked to make sure it arrived before I left work. Maybe it will show up late like the last one did.

I'm off to clean the house, but I'll try to return later this weekend.