Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This economy stinks!

Okay. I've been pretty quiet about what's been going on in my life the past month but it's time to rant a little bit. Please bear with me... but before I start I'll let you know the story has a happy ending (sort of).

The end of last month I was brought into a meeting with my boss and our HR person (not a good sign). "First quarter earnings...... tightening the budgets.....blah,blah,blah....you're position is going away.....blah,blah....severance pay......" I ended up with a month's notice and due to my length of time at the company 8.5 years I had an okay severance package. After 2 weeks of looking around for something else in my pay/skill level I decided an extended "vacation" may not be so bad. Just as I got used to that idea and figured out I had enough savings to see me through the rest of the year, the resource center (copy/mail in our building) supervisor gave 2 weeks notice.

The same day that manager came over to me and said he would offer me the position however - it's 3 grade levels below me and the pay scale was below mine. By the end of the day my manager called to say they worked out a deal so they would pay me 90% of my current income for this position. However, that's over the top of the scale and that means come April I won't be able to get the annual increase. But - and here's where they got me - if I don't take the position I lose the severance package because they have offered me a job at 90% my pay scale and I do know how to do the position (after all I trained the last supervisor). I accepted figuring at least I have my benefits and any position that comes up in my grade level I can go for without having to be at this position the usual "at least 1 year".

I should spent the past week and the rest of this week clearing up my current projects and started this new position Friday this week. Life has been playing fun little tricks with my life lately so naturally the supervisor quit early - last Thursday. I was going to work with him this week to get passwords, supply ordering information, billing procedures, etc. I got NADA! I walked into the center Friday with no help (the help was pulled to another site because of an emergency there). Friday, Monday and today have been, to say the least, crazy. We got more copy jobs and projects than normal. One job was 16 cases of books to cut down to 6x9" and 3-hole drill. At least I hunted up some help for this and he's been great. I'm just not used to doing anything like this any more. I've become a desk jockey. Give me a spreadsheet, word document, etc. and I'll make magic happen. Collating 12 documents into one bigger document with slip sheets in between (25 times) and my shoulder muscles will complain!

In the middle of all this I keep getting phone calls from people wanting me to do my former job - the one I thought I'd have until Thursday to clear up. I still have to write the monthly newsletter and update several of the websites for our other sites. ARGH!

Okay - rant over......... I'll survive and I do have a job so I can't complain too much.

Now to make me feel better I'll work on my baby sweater and if I get bored of that I'll work on my socks. At least my off time is still the same and the boys will always give me a good purr!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Finally some knitting

There's been some actual knitting going on at Maison Chat. My friends that come over every Friday night couldn't make it this week because of various reasons but I had the time to knit instead of teach/coach. Earlier this week I started a new pair of socks. This this Araucania Ranco Multi. It's wonderful yarn with a firm twist and very minimal splitting. The pattern is a mix of patterns. It's my basic toe-up design but the pattern on it is from Eagle's Flight. A free sock on the internet.

I like this design with this yarn. The yarn isn't so busy that the design gets lost.
I've also started another baby sweater this weekend. There's something in the water at work because the past 6 or so months everyone has had a baby. At least that's what it seems like. This is the 4th baby and I'm tired fo the EZ surprise kacjet so I switched over to Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Sweater on 2 needles (February sweater from Knitting Almanac). The original is 1 color but last week when I was at the NU Outlet I bought 1 skein of 2 different color of Snuggly DK by Sirdar (can't beat $2.75 a skein!). Once I decided what to make I didn't want to go back down there for more of one of the colors so - the yoke and garter stitch areas are white and the body red.

House Rules
One rule we have in the house is - all bags that come into the house must live on the floor for at least a week. It's not my rule but I must follow it if I want to live in peace. This bag becomes the toy & nap place of the week.
OOH This Paton's bag is just the thing to sleep on! - Bert

15 minutes later -
Are you sure there's not something inside the bag. Let's explore. - Chief
You're bothering me. I want to sleep! - Bert

30 minutes later -
Like I said, It's a great place to nap! - Bert

Misc. Item
When I was at the MOA last week I found a pillow at Bloomies that I managed to kinnear. It looks very easy to make. It was expensive. And it may be a project in the near future.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's Alive! I'm back to my Podcasts

Thanks everyone for your concerns about my iPod. It's amazing how used to technology we've become.

I ended up letting the iPod die (run its battery down). Like I had any choice - it wouldn't do anything else. After it was offically dead. I recharged it and it let me format after it was charged. Of course, all my music and podcasts are on the computer in iTunes so I didn't have any problems getting things back to normal.

I have gotten so used to the iPod Classic in the past few months that I forgot how small the storage was on my old Mini. The Classic has 80g memory while the Mini has 4g. Last night figuring I'd need to use the Mini I loaded up what I could but couldn't get everything on. At least it worked for my bike workout. Riding a exercise bike in a basement with nothing to listen to would have been terrible!

But - as of now I'm back to normal and listened to Sticks & String and a few others that posted new episodes this weekend. I also found a new podcast that sound like it will be good. Diva Knitting.

Since I started talking about podcasts yesterday I decided I'd list the ones I listen to in case anyone is interested in finding some new ones. I'm not going to link them as you can go onto iTunes or google the names.

Belle of the Ball
Cast On
Changelings Knit and Stitch
Diva Knitting
It's a Purl, Man
Knit Picks
Knitting at Night
Let's Knit2gether
Ready Set Knit
Socks in the City
Stash and Burn
Sticks & String
Stitch It!
Sweaters for Dragons - he seems to be pretty slow at getting new podcasts up
Yarn Thing
Yarn Craft

Some I 've downloaded but haven't gotten to yet -
Faery Knitting
Knit Science
Knit Sibs
Knit Spirit
Knit Views
Knit With.Us
The Knitting Cook
Knitting Step by Step for iTunes
Knitty Nora's knitting natter
Lixie Knits It
Mamascrapalota Knits and Spins
Pointy Sticks
Purl Diving
Stitch Stud and His Bride

This list should give you something to listen to while knitting, or driving, or excercising, or cleaning the house, or ignoring the boss, or -
or what do you do while you're listening to podcasts?

Speaking of technology - just to let other blogger people know. They still haven't fixed spellcheck. If you go up to the right side and click on help you can then click on known issues then outstanding issues. This will let you check what problems they are working on. Spell check has been out since Feb 5th. Sure would be nice if they could get it fixed!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I listen to podcasts at work when I'm doing boring stuff like plodding through a list of 400 copiers to be sure everyone was added properly to a website data base . SheKnits, Sticks & String, Yarn Thing, Stash and Burn, and so many others have kept my company during these boring times. Today was no different. As I worked on updating a list for one of our Iowa sites I caught up with Stash & Burn. On the way home I caught up with Stitch It.

So tonight I decided to get the iPod ready for the next week of listening. I turned it on and de-checked the episodes I've listened to and got ready to update from the computer. Then it happened - my iPod FROZE! It also froze my computer. I had to Ctrl-Alt-Del to shut down the computer. Tried again and still iPod froze, computer wouldn't open iTunes when the iPod was plugged in. Plus the iPod doesn't show up on the computer. It doesn't charge. It's (da da dum) DEAD.

What am I going to do? How am I going to get through the rest of the boring database checking without my podcasts!?! Luckily I still have my old iPod but it's been sitting on the shelf for the past 3-4 months. I plugged it into the computer and downloads some of the podcasts I haven't listened to and one of my audiobooks. That's all the space the one has. It will get me through until I figure out whats going on.

So- no knitting tonight. I've been too busy trying to fix the iPod. No knitting tomorrow, I'm having dinner out with several friends. At least Friday will be knit night here so I'll get something done then.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What can I say?

I was not sure if I should post today or not, because I don't have much to say. But- I know if I don't I'll get lazy and start to find reasons not to post and suddenly it will be a week or a month and I'll have done nothing. I'm that way, I'm real good at something until I find the first reason to procrastinate then it's down hill from there.

Friday night only 2 of the "gang" made it over here to knit. One had worked 12 hours and another was sick so they didn't come. Those that did come were very productive. Cousin learned to purl and made a small coaster of stockinette - 2x2 rib - stockinette. It gave her a chance to practice purl and binding off. She's ready for a bigger project beyond her garter stitch scarf. My other friend has been very productive. She made a garter st. blanket for her girl's doll and has been working on a scarf of multi colors for the past few weeks. She's also able to purl now. Next week they'll be making slippers.

The past week I've been trying to survive sinus stuff. It's been over a week of headaches and pressure that "did me in". I ended up working a few short days and Saturday was spent sleeping (and taking Advil). You know you're sick when knitting makes you dizzy! Finally about midnight Saturday I sort of got rid of the headache so today I went to the Knit Out at the Mall.

I was not overly impressed but then- I'm still not totally healthy so I didn't hang around for the special events. I went around the booths, got free samples, ate a burrito up in the food court and went home via the NU Outlet. What I came home with was a crochet hook, some patterns, a pen, the light up needles (size 13), and a skein of Patons Pooch (a very strange yarn!). I didn't wait in the super long line for the Lion Brand tote bag because I have way too many tote bags already and I didn't think it was worth what would probably have been over 1/2 hour wait.

I think the Yarn Out was fun for a few hours but I can't imagine traveling 8 hours, paying for a hotel and having what I saw as the "big event". It didn't seem that impressive to me. What can I say?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

National Sink Kitty Week?!?

Apparently we need to join in the National Sink Kitty Week Festivities. We're all about joining things. At least Bert is...

I don't know why Chief won't use the sink but it fits my body so perfect! - Bert

Anyone coming to the Twin Cities this weekend for the big event at the Mall of America should also consider heading to to Como Park area to visit the Conservatory. Its a beautiful place and makes you forget the winter cold for a little while.

The Sunken garden is always beautiful and has the winter flower show going on right now.

Some of the flowers in the Sunken garden are so perfect you'd think they're fake.

The North Garden always has many orchids to discover. I love the Conversatory and try to get over at least once a year if not more. It's time for another visit!

The past week I've been sick. Sinus stuff. It sounds like it's been going around but I don't like it going around me! I went home sick yesterday after about 2 hours of work and thought I'd try to knit a little bit. After 1 row of knitting I was so dizzy from watching the yarn and needle movement I had to quit. No fun for me! Today I made it through 4 hours of work but finally gave up. Hopefully tomorrow I make it through the whole day because I have to be better in time for the Knit Out at the Mall. Also Sunday night Nicki Epstein is having a book signing Sunday night at Amazing Threads. So looks like I better take it easy tonight and get better!

Don't worry Mom. I'll take care of you.- Chief

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Caught in the Act

The Case of the Missing Knitting Needle


Monday, February 11, 2008

Where's My Needle?!

Most of this weekend was ignoring the artic blast that hit us and sleeping. I started getting the "sinus pressure-migraine-hey, you've got a cold coming on" symptoms and since I had a job interview today I didn't want to walk in to the meeting all snarky and puffy eyes. So - I slept. But between bouts of sleeping and seeing 5 minutes of various TV shows I did manage a little knitting.

One of my goals this weekend was to finish the Regia socks. DONE. They're for my Uncle as a thank you for all the parent help he's given me this past year. Previously I made a pair of slippers for my Aunt using a basic toe-up sock with thicker yarn and a short cuff. I'll see both of them this week to thank them. (My cousin that's been coming to the Friday night group is their daughter so maybe she'll make them something for Christmas.)

The socks are Regia Designer Line Kaffe Fassett, color 4251. I used 2 skeins with just a little left. As usual I knit them toe-up. This lets you knit until you get to the end of the skein without worrying about having enough yarn for the 2nd sock. The inspiration for the socks was Wendy's Eyelet Rib Toe-up socks. I use this pattern for basic number in the heel but go off on my own from there. The design is a Garter stitch rib - 1 round knit - 2 round k2,p2. I really like the way this rib gives just a bit of design texture without being too fussy. Once I got near the top I put 10 rows of k2-p2 rib to finish them off. I know I'll make this sock again for myself.

Between sleeping and socks I also spent some time hunting for my knitting needle. Bert has developed a new obsession - he keeps stealing one of my big-ole- plastic 14" needles. This time I found it tucked under my slippers. This means he grabbed the needle from the living room where a friend was using it, hauled it across the living room, down the hall, past 2 bedrooms & the bathroom, brought it in my bedroom and tucked it under the slipper. He has WAY too much time on his hands!
Quick question for anyone else who uses blogger. Have you had problems with spell check on blogger lately? It hasn't worked for me for about a week.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Night Knitting Group

Tonight was The Friday Night Knitting Group. My attempt to turn my friends. It's working. Four them have been coming every Friday for the past month, with occasionaly missed nights because of other commitments. One of them couldn't make it tonight but here's the others working away. (I promised to smudge their faces)

The guy in the picture is hubby to the "back". They've been my friends since elementary school. The other one is one of the cousins. Our "gang" goes way back and has always been close. Now they are finally getting why I like to knit. The missing one is the protege. She wasn't there the first night and came the second and out distanced the others. As of last week she has started a scarf and had about 12" complete. She also tried a sample piece to learn purl and bind off. Guy had a hard time with knitting so last week I tried crochet. Part way through tonight he started getting it. He completed 2 rows without error and took home the Sugar and Cream to practice some more. He also went home with a smile! That was SO worth it.

Baby Boomers Need Glasses
Earlier this week I decided to eat a frozen pizza. Being a fairly normal person I decided to heat it up. Big problem. The directions on the package are so small I couldn't even read them with my glasses on.

What is the deal!?! I got another TV dinner type meal tonight and it's directions were super small. Don't the companies in the food industry realize the baby boomers are getting older and need bigger directions not smaller ones. Line lines of directions the size of a dime just doesn't cut it for me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Got Turkey?

The past week has been one for the books. I have some things going on that require some big life decisions. Being a single person means no hubby to talk to. Being the daughter of 2 severely memory challenged parents means no parents to talk to. My brother and I are not terribly close (3-4 days a year visit and some emails and occasional 5 minute phone calls). That leaves my friends. Some things I don't want to bother them with because - well - everyone has their own problems and I don't want to dump more on them. So- here I sit discussing big life issues with Chief and Bert. Good listeners. Not good at giving advice. I'll eventually decide to talk to one of my friends or I'll figure things out on my own but it's times like these that get a little lonely.

Enough sad stuff. On to other things - I've been knitting on the Regia socks and the second one is almost 1/2 done. I've been good at using my exercise bike. I decided this week would be "get to know the bike" week so I've only done 15-30 minutes a day and will start with my training next week.

Pet Turkey!?!
I dropped off my preemie hats to Jeanne's place of work. When I pulled into the lot I noticed a stuffed turkey by the building. Why on God's green earth would a company have a stuffed turkey in the front. That is absolutely the most insane thing I've seen at a company. Give me a break! One problem- once I got out of my car I notice the stuffed turkey moved. They did not have a stuffed turkey, they had a real life big turkey hanging out by the building "sunning" himself. I asked Jeanne about it and she said he kind of moved in after they started building a new section to the building and displaced his former home.

Yarn Tasting
This Friday (Feb 8) noon to 10pm is Yarn Tasting at Amazing Threads. They have lots of goodies (35% off yarn-needle sales,etc) according to the emails I've been getting. They also have many national writers and workshops set up for the next couple months. If you live in the Twin Cities or near them, you should check out their web site for schedules and updates.

My goals for the rest of the week are to finish the Regia sock, work on SIL's neverending Maizy socks and make it through the boring stuff like work so I can go to Amazing Threads Friday night before my friends come over for Friday Night Knit group. This weekend I'll deal with life decisions (after all- tomorrow IS another day).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Going to the dark side

I haven't shown any fresh knitting lately which may make you think I've been idle. Nope. Just bad at taking pictures. Last weekend I started a new pair of socks- Regia Design Line (Kaffe Fassett) color4251. I told my Uncle I would make him socks as a thank you for all the extra work he's done for my parents. He gets them for church every Sunday and Christmas he went over to get them so I could get the house and meal ready for everyone. What a guy!
The first picture shows the actual color a bit better (but a little 'dull') . As usual I'm doing toe up. I decided the colorway was about as much excitement as my Uncle could handle so I made them in a 2x2 rib. But- I wanted something a bit more than plain rib so these are a cable rib. One round knit all the way around - next round knit 2- purl 2. This gives a bit of texture and interest without so much that the colorway losses the design.
The other thing you may notice is - I've gone over to the dark side. Yup. I'm knitting magic loop. It took me a while to try it but I had other projects on all my dpts so rather than not start these socks I gave the magic loop a try. So far, so good. However, I do not see myself ever trying the 2 circs. The thought of all the dangling 'stuff' doesn't appeal to me at all.

The other thing that kept me busy this week was getting my new "toy" down stairs and put together. This puppy weighs about a million pounds and was in a big box with a million parts to put together. After one day getting it home, one day it getting down stairs and one day putting it together, it's now a fully functional Nordic track excer-cycle. It has a MP3 plug in, personal trainer chips to plug in, all sorts of good stuff. I decided the bike is what I do best as far as excercise and the club near me closed so - put my money into a bike and see if I can get healthier. The Saturday of Mother's Day weekend is the MS 30-60 bike ride so I need to get myself ready. Last year my knee was acting up so I didn't ride. This year I'll be ready!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bert-hog's Day

Bert - It's Groundhog's Day. Can you see your shadow?

Shadow? But I'm a kitty not a groundhog!. - Bert

Give it a try and look.

Nope. No shadow down there. - Bert

Maybe if I stretch out and make myself real big I'll see one.......Nope. - Bert
Guess we'll just have to play with the fishy and wait for spring instead.

Good plan! - Bert