Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Cards

I get almost all of my graphics at work from Eugene at Colorimage. He is nearby, does good work, tolerates my complicated projects with a smile, delivers proofs right away and is speedy when I need him to be.

Today, I got my first business Christmas card ever today, from Eugene. It was an exciting work world first. Definitely cooler than the Thank You card I got from the lubricant company, though that was funnier. Its nice to work with nice people. That's all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005


Andrea has given me one of these, or maybe she meant all of the ones on the page, for nonspecific winter holiday.

In response, my friend Charlie gave me these. I love this game.

Thanks Babelbabe!

BB posted her Virtual Christmas Gifts to the blogosphere friends today.

She got me this swift and ball winder. I'm in love with it as a gift, even without ever getting a real one. I promised to explain how it all works in a thank you comment that isn't appearing just yet.

A swift is an item that holds your yarn skein while you wind it into a ball. The kind that BB got me is an umbrella swift that clamps to a table. There are other kinds of swifts, as well as ways to hold your yarn during ball winding. A frequent pseudo-swift is another person's arms (preferably someone who will get so sick of it that they buy you a swift) or a chair back.

The umbrella swift looks like a broken umbrella because it has a very similar mechanism that is essentially infinitely adjustable with in range of circumferences, depending on how far up you push the center. The skein is untwisted so that it is one big loop, and then put onto the swift around the Xes. The skein is then expanded so that the skein is held taut. The swift is a wonderful invention not only when considering how tired a human pseudo-swift's arms can become, but also because it spins.

The broken umbrella part of the swift is attached to a center post, around which it rotates. Good swifts have a bearing of some sort in there. This is an important part of being a swift because otherwise the person winding the ball must walk around and around the tightly held loop.

The center post goes into some sort of base. Most swifts clamp to a table or countertop, others have a weightier base that lets it sit wherever there is a surface.

Dragonfly Turnings makes some really super, simple, no-clamp swifts. You can check them out here. If I ever get a swift, instead of using my feet, I will probably get one of theirs. It is simple, attractive and I don't really have a dedicated work table to clamp it onto. I also think that it is more likely that I will get around to getting a swift long before I find a man willing to hold my yarn.

On to the ball winder. The one shown is a very standard issue, plastic ball winder. You hook the yarn onto the center core and turn the handle. The core moves in a strange pattern that creates a cylindrical, center-pull yarn ball. They are neat to have, but I hear that they wear out over time and sometimes can't handle the fussier yarns.

My preference, due to their relative cheapness and portability, is a nostepinde. It is pretty much a thick, tapered stick. Before my aunt bought me one for Christmas (but I got to take it home after Thanksgiving), I used the wisk handle and then one of the center posts for my niddy noddy (the one to make it one yard). I find that the balls made are very good both for knitting from and plying (instead of an Andean plying bracelet).

I hope that this all helps with the "what the heck is that?" reaction to seeing a swift. Post any questions in the comments and I'll edit the post.

How to Fluff

a Christmas tree. This is intended to be a primer for those who are unfamiliar with the concept of fluffing an artificial tree. Apparently, there are many people out there who don't know how to do it.
  1. Make sure that all of the branches are in their slots on the center post. There should be no big gaping spaces. This is a sign of missing or twisted branches.
  2. Untangle and straighten branches as needed.
  3. Start at the top row of branches on the tree. Each branch is made up of many tips.
  4. Grasp the branch close to the center post, and lift the tips off of the branch's core wire. This is essentially un-braiding.
  5. Working from center out, lift all of the tips off of the branch. They should form a radial sort of pattern, coming off in all directions. This should be quick moving and result in the branch taking up as much volume as possible on the tree.
  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for all branches on the tree. You should move quickly and touch every tip on the tree, not just the ones at the end of the branch.
  7. Step back from the tree and see if there are any major problems. This is the time to fuss with the tree, not when it is still crushed from storage.
  8. Decorate and light tree as desired.
Congratulations! Your artificial tree has been fluffed. There really should be a video that can be shown to low-wage, unskilled labor to save supervisors from repeatedly explaining how to do it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Its been a really long time

since I posted a blog entry. I have so much fun reading everyone else's blogs, I don't know why I'm such a slacker with my own. It does go in cycles, but so much has been going on in the last month or so, I don't know why I'm not keeping the world up-to-date.

Quick facts, in no particular order:
  1. I have too many people with conflicting interests who could be considered my boss.
  2. The spinning is going very well.
  3. I have a mountain of wool in my apartment, waiting to be spun. Probably more than a whole sheep.
  4. The new Knitty is up, and full of cool patterns.
  5. I have very little patience for people who can't imagine things being different from how they are presented.
  6. CMU got a CNC router. Check out David's blog for some entries. I love CNC routers, they have totally changed the way that designers and production folks look at scenery construction.
  7. Nicole, who needs to take up blogging, is coming to Chicago this weekend. I'm very excited, even if she has decided that Mike&Jackie are who she wants to stay with. *tear*
  8. It is really really really cold here right now. But it is a bit warmer by the lake, which I appreciate greatly. And the weekend is supposed to be back up into the high twenties, thirties and maybe even the forties.
  9. Things officially ended with the most recent boy on Friday. It has been dwindling for quite a while.
  10. I think that I would be well-suited to a fun-loving accountant who cooks. Does anyone know any single, 23-31 year-old, male accountants who cook? I'm a nice girl.
  11. I think that I might start going to church. I did a Christmas Basket through the local Episcopal Church and Cathedral Shelter Chicago. When I dropped it off, the woman who runs it was really nice. Young, single and friendly. She was very welcoming and encouraged me to try out the 11am service, which even I should be able to get to on time, if I make an effort.
  12. I don't have any idea what I'm going to wear to the Winter Wonder Fest preview party gala thing on Thursday night. Which is in two (2) days. Eeek.
  13. I read Under the Banner of Heaven over Thanksgiving weekend and into last week. It was really good, and made me curious about my father's family and childhood and why he dislikes Mormons/Mormonism with such passion. I wonder why I've always thought of Mormonism as just another sect of Christianity, when really its a whole other branch of the monotheistic Judeo-Christian-Muslim religion, the most recent prophet, if you can accept that it isn't just a crackpot religion. Ok, time to move on, this isn't a quick statement.
  14. My roommate and her boyfriend are getting on very well. I hope that she doesn't move out at the end of this lease though. Maybe at the end of his lease they could move in together.
  15. You can buy a 36" whisk at the restaurant supply store. I want a whole kitchen full of oversized utensils. Its not like I cook anyway.
Does anyone know where Valerie Light is or what she's up to? I miss her. She was one of my best friends in college and somehow I lost her.