Monday, June 27, 2005

Employees of the Month at New Blue Moon Designs

Mambocat has launched her own pattern design company: New Blue Moon Designs. I hope to have a small commercial website available by fall 2005 for pattern sales. Patterns will not be sold on this blog. This is where the design process happens.

But I can't take all the credit for my design work. Without a dedicated support staff, no knitwear designer would ever get anywhere.

I'm very proud of my Quality Control department. Their high standards and round-the-clock diligence assure that only the most attractive, wearable, and softest designs make it through the design approval process.

Today I'd like to highlight our Employees of the Month: "Seven" and "Shamu," both of whom are tactile assessment engineers employed in the Softness Evaluation division. Here they are in the Knitwear Testing Laboratory, scientifically evaluating the "Go Ahead, Make My Poncho," a unisex poncho done in Lion Brand Thick-n-Quick. Thanks to their hard work, I should have the pattern available for sale by the fall of 2005.

Don't they deserve a pat on the back? Or at least a can of tuna?

Please note that all employees of New Blue Moon Designs are provided with room, board and full benefits, including health and dental care, regular vaccinations, entertainment, and a complete retirement plan.



Above: Seven (left) and Shamu (right) compare bilateral tactile variations on the poncho.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A Pacemaker, A Conference and A Wedding...

My New Year's Resolutions included posting to my blog more often, along with losing 15 pounds and excercising more.

BWAAA...HA...HA...HA...HA, says Mambocat in her best Halloween laugh.

Nonetheless, I am now up to about once a month or so on blogging (assuming your calendar is a bit off). And, I have actually lost 5 pounds. But just when I got to the point of getting around to some serious excercise, summer arrived. This is Louisiana. Which means jogging or cycling in the world's largest outdoor sauna.

Not me.

The Big Lace Shawl For Me remains nearly finished except for the final few garter rows and blocking. A picture of that shawl is coming soon. Both finishing the shawl and learning how to post pictures to this blog have been delayed during the past few weeks by a series of mostly non-knitterly events including:

a. My 87-year-old dad having a new pacemeker and defibrillator installed...
b. My Mom, also of an excellent vintage, contracting food poisoning from the hospital cafeteria, for which she had to be hospitalized herself...
c. A very, shall we say, intense and pointed conversation, between myself and certain key hospital administrators....
d. Being sent by my boss to a conference in Scottsdale, AZ immediately upon Dad's release from the hospital ...
e. Getting to take my husband along (the room was a double anyway and the city paid for everything else so we only had to pay for his meals and airfare out-of-pocket)...
f. Immediately upon arrival back in Baton Rouge (after having the exact same piece of luggage lost at Dallas-Fort Worth airport on both legs of our journey), rolling up our sleeves to participate in one of our oldest friend's second wedding...
g. Beginning a new shawl on the airplane with cotton yarn and plastic needles, out of fear that my almost-done Big Shawl For Me and Addi Turbos would be seized by over-zealous TSA employees concerned that I might use my needles to hijack the plane to New Zealand and load it up with sheep ...
h. Catching up on 2,378 pieces of paperwork back at work.

So those are my Official Knitter's Excuses (signed by my mother, even) for fewer posts and no pictures so far. But it gets better!

Things I have learned in the past few weeks:

My parents remain remarkably resilient despite their advanced years ... those WWII folks are not called the Greatest Generation for nothing.

The folks at the Dallas/Forth Worth Airport can lose the exact same piece of checked luggage both on your way to your destination and once again on your way home...

Note the evidence below. See that black rectangle, roughly in the center of the picture? As we got off the little toy plane that took us to Dallas and got on the real plane, what to our wondering eyes should appear on the tarmac but: a piece of our very own luggage. It's hard to see in this picture, but from our seat, we could just see a fluorescent green luggage tag.

We have fluorescent green luggage tags.

"Is that our big suitcase?" said my husband, who had the window seat.

"It has a fluorescent green tag on it..." said I.

We watched numerous luggage trains actually steer to avoid this piece of luggage, and numerous airport personnel walk past it and around it, without so much as a by-your-leave.

It was still there, alone on the tarmac and as helpless as an upturned turtle, when our plane took off.

The TSA folks at the Phoenix airport were much more interested in my husband's supportive steel-shanked boots than they were in my knitterly Implements of Doom ... oh, and one more thing ... if you are traveling with a person with a physical disability through the Phoenix airport, the TSA will insist that the abovementioned person remove supportive boots and other dangerous terrorist accesories used by people with disabilities, but they will not assist that person in taking them off or putting them back on, however difficult it may be for the person. Mind that the TSA folks at the Baton Rouge airport simply ran the metal detector over the same boots, ran their hands inside the boot cuff, and otherwise inspected the boots while still on hubby's feet.

Quite on the other hand, the Phoenix airport customer service staff, including one exceedingly nice young woman in a Muslim headdress, absolutley rules, in terms of fetching wheelchairs and those nifty airport stretch-limo-golf carts to assist handicapped travellers.

Do not attempt to knit anything involving rayon ribbon yarn while you are in a turbulent commuter airplane in a thunderstorm over Texas....

People in Arizona have devices called "swamp coolers" which eject mist out over the poolside bar guests at the Hilton and other upscale inhabited desert locations. This fact was unknown to me on my previous visits to the Southwest, because, at those times, I was not on a trip paid for by the city, much less staying at the Hilton. The idea of a "swamp cooler," astoundingly, is to make humidity on purpose. I kid you not. What I do not understand is the name of this device. It should properly be called a "desert cooler," because it actually does cool you off in 5% humidity at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However (as I informed the poolside bartender in my best Science Lady From Louisiana voice), adding more humidity to the already-saturated air in an actual swamp would actually increase the heat index, resulting in poor employee productivity, more mosquitoes and possibly even mass murder... and ... speaking of the bartender at the poolside bar...

When you are done with your conference and have time to relax, do not attempt to knit anything at all while you have a little Captain in you, even if you earnestly believe that you really and truly can enjoy a rum and Coke, immerse yourself on the pool steps up to your armpits, and keep your knitting dry all at once.

Upon returning home, I learned how many sober middle-aged adults with college and post-graduate degrees (five and two, respectively, for a total of seven, and one being an engineer) it takes to assemble a rental tent for a friend's rather spontaneous second wedding...

The kid who sells keg beer and other intoxicating substances to the above-mentioned sober middle-aged adults planning a spontaneous second wedding, doesn't look old enough to spell "beer" much less sell it ...

How utterly smashing our boomer-age friends can look when they want to ... especiallly the bride...

Being one of the designated drivers for said spontaneous wedding, how many inebriated middle-aged adults in cocktail attire (most of whom are a few sizes larger than they were in college) can fit in a Volkswagen Golf....

That, after 25 years of college, jobs, husbands, divorces and kids, the bride could not choose a "best matron," because:

a. how can you pick only one of your closest friends?
b. ... and ... we are all "doggy people," so the Matron of Honor would have to be "Best Bitch."

but this is supposed to be about knitting.....

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes. After waving goodbye to our luggage and realizing that the rayon ribbon yarn I was swatching simply would not work in bumpy weather, I cast on for a cotton lace shawl I am designing in a sock-weight cotton perle cone yarn of unknown ancestry, to wit:

I had hoped that my little black travel-knitting bag would show off the lace pattern a bit better, but you get the idea. Only moments after snapping this photo I had to snatch up that coffee cup on the left, for fear of ruining both my knitting and my reading material as we continued through a convention of angry thunder-gods.

So, this is the beginning of what I am calling the Ruby Tuesday shawl, not only because I still like the Rolling Stones but also because I happened to start it on a Tuesday and I happened to be using ruby-colored yarn. For some reason in looks redder in the picture than it is in real life.

Must have something to do with altitude or turbulence.


Inmates in the Asylum since July 27, 2006: