FO: Aleph

April 29, 2013

Aleph SweaterFinishing a worsted weight sweater in the spring, in Calgary is never a waste-I feel like I could wear it almost every day.  I wore it again today to work and had to have a scarf on as well, I was driving home through a white-out snow storm – again.  Aleph fits easy, is comfortable, and is warm, which is still so important to me.  Fia can fit her head inside those pockets, she actually tried and succeeded after I left daycare one day with her toys, shoes, hat, mitts, and dirty clothes tucked into the pockets.

I messed up on this pattern twice, and had to reknit the yoke, but all my fault, nothing to do with the pattern which was well written.  It does to go show why I need simple patterns to do still, and why I should circle all my sizes first thing in the pattern before I start knitting.

I made this with Briggs and Little Aran, it is soft and appears relatively untreated, closer to a sheep than other yarn which I love.  I have a fondness for outer garment yarn such as this, not meant to be soft enough to be worn against the skin, but intended for rugged outer garments, wind proof, water proof sailor sweaters.  If you want to make an Aran sweater, buy this yarn.

Antler buttonsI used my caribou antler buttons that I bought in Yellowknife last year, I think they are just perfect.  The sweater pulls some, more buttons would have held it together better, but oh well.  Until it actually gets warm around here, I’m living in this sweater!

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Aestlight shawlMy Aestlight shawl has been in progress for many, many months now.  I have finally gotten to the border however, which is good and exciting, but now I’m only working back and forth on 12 stitches, which is tedious and fiddly.  Now that I’m done my sweaters, this is seeing more time in my hands!  I had it with me up north, but little time in the hotel, plus bad lighting in the room made this black yarn hard to knit!  I hope it will be worth it when I’m done, right now it is a big lace blob!

The Bush

That was the view from our job site for two weeks, with varying levels of snow cover from light to heavy to even more god-damn snow.  Not much there, and an hour to a chocolate bar.  The first Friday we made a run for the airport (after getting dismissed by the customer at the very, very last minute) through a blizzard at speeds much too high for good sense.  We barely made it on the flight, but somehow we did.  The next Friday was much more leisurely, but still with a good snowstorm the day before.  As soon as we arrived I started wondering about the wildlife.  These sites are in the middle of muskeg forest, low stands of spruce, which look small but are probably very old and slow growing due to the poor and most likely acid soil conditions they grow in.  The first week I was fairly confident the bears were still hibernating, it was cold.  The operators reported seeing a pack of wolves and a cougar, along with lynx every so often.  The second week I had heard report of bears being seen in Banff area, and could see a hungry bear poking their nose out.  Again the operators report seeing black bears all the time.  As I said to my co-worker, I am not crazy, I have a real fear about a real danger – namely bears wolves and cougars.

I’m going to have a really hard time telling you about the work atmosphere among all the operators up on site, without giving away the guilty parties.  I felt all last week like I should be treated for PTSD, that I had just escaped a war zone, and that barely.  The operators tend to be forceful personalities, with foul mouths.  We counted 8 obscenities in one sentence from one operator.  Thankfully we did okay, we never had the full force of anger turned on us, but seeing it and feeling it displayed towards others was hard.  It has been over 5 years since I’ve done any commissioning, and I’ve gotten used to a gentler sort of people.  Plus my little group of 4 that worked and dined together, I could tell you stories, but again protecting the innocent.  Suffice to say “OH MY GOODNESS – YOU JUST SAID WHAT?”.  I actually had to warn them to stop hugging the warm tanks, you heard me, and if I catch you back there rubbing up against them I will do something, I don’t know what but something.  (They were joking of course, but the one guy did nickname the Polisher unit “Polly”.  It was 50% absolutely hilarious, 50% unbelievable.  And as my co-worker said “we know waaaaayyy too much about those guys now!”.

It was like working in western Texas – everyone seemed more like a character than a real person, stereotypes come to life and talking to me.  Even I have become a character.  The programmer turned to me at one point, after I had just schooled him on his own program, and said “you are a Water Goddess”.  He was very, very serious.  Obviously this has been picked up by my co-workers, and I now have a sign of a mermaid and a title “Water Goddess” on my cubicle.  Honestly, it is a bit cool to be called this, and there are many other bad things they could be calling me, and my co-worker as a penchant for giving nicknames (the only other one I’ve heard is Mamma Bear, after I tried to convince him to stop calling the programmer an unpleasant name).  Some of the other names – King, Boo-boo, Junior, Fluffy, etc.

Man, it still feels so unreal, like it really never happened as it was so unbelievable.  I’ve taken my name off the “available to travel” list for the near future.  I need time to recover, plus time to clean up my language again.

WIP: April 17th, 2013

April 17, 2013

Leaf ScarfKnitting time has been scarce lately with being up north for two weeks.  Our schedule there was out of the hotel at 6 am, on site at 7:30 am, and who knew when we would get back?  I’m still sore at the operator who informed me rudely at 7 pm that I wasn’t leaving until everything had been run and shut down by us, not just us showing him how to do it.  How dare I be exhausted and hungry?  Harrumpf!  He was voted my least favorite operator.  Besides, I was working with 3 guys, all of whom were also tired, hungry and grumpy, it was practically self preservation that we needed to get back to town and eat nachos and other bad food.

But WiP!’s.  I am sewing up my Aleph sweater, after a major mistake that had me ripping out the completed yoke to start over.  And now that it is done I have found another major mistake, but pzzzzztttthhh to that and I just sewed the durn thing up.  Nobody is looking in my armpits, and if they are, they should just get out of my armpits.  I hope to have it blocking tonight!!!  Just in time for more snow this weekend, yeah!

Here and there I am also working on the leaf scarf shown above, which I love.  It is very addictive however so I was leaving it down in the basement until I got my sweaters done.  The fun thing with Noro is that the colour changes seem limitless, I don’t think this ball ever repeats!!

Still other things on the needles, which will get spot lighted another time.  I need to start making some baby things for a co-worker, and I’m also itching to start some summer items!  I have spent far too long on these last two sweaters, as I insist on knitting them twice over.  New things!  Yeah!  Shiny!

Anne the Commissioner

It has been over five years since I’ve been out commissioning equipment, but too much going on at once at work meant my number was up.  Commissioining is like a bike, you don’t really forget how to ride it, but it is a bike you never really want to get up on again, it hurts, people yell at you, you spend all day on your feet, you are exhausted, and you have to do it all again tomorrow.  My mantra is “remain calm”.  As I watched the lead operator run around like a hamster on a wheel, directing his considerable panic energy at everyone around, my mantra proved it’s value again.  I think my team did a good job of systematically moving through problems, spending our energy on fixing rather than freaking the freak out.

As we were out in the bush, in a square of mud cut out of muskeg and spruce trees, we brought our own breakfast and lunch for the day.  Around 4 pm one day I lamented at length that the nearest chocolate was over an hour away, and the fact that we had been much too virtuous at the store that morning at 6 am, apples, and bananas our snacks.  The electrician said when he got back to town he had two chocolate bars due to my rapsodizing.

I was also interested in whether the bears were still hiberating, as I knew other sites had them wander through from time to time.  The sub zero temperatures and blizzard reassured me of our safety.  The operators then mentioned the pack of wolves in the area, and cougar sitings.  Don’t go into the woods kids, even if you are wearing your fire-proof coveralls.

By the way, don’t you love my outfit?  Hard hat, safety glasses, fireproof coveralls that hide a multitude of body types, safety boots?  I was looking for my co-worker and an operator told me he had walked right by, “Everyone is wearing blue” I shot back.

Best line of the week was from the electrician “I don’t trust a guy who gels his hair and wears Lululemon Pants under his fireproof coveralls”.

Bad news however: due to slow progress, many problems, and general normal conditions for a start-up I’m heading up there again next week.  This time I’ll buy an apple, banana, AND a chocolate bar.  I sure hope the snow has stopped.