Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Clapotis yarn is here!

My peacock Cherry Tree Hill clapotis yarn arrived today from Sandra Singh, and it is gorgeous! I love it. It's beautiful to look at and luxurious to touch. Everything in me wants me to cast on today, but I am saving it until all my Christmas knitting is finished. I might even wrap it up and put it under the tree as a gift for myself.

As a Canadian, buying online can be wildly expensive because of the currency exchange, shipping rates and duties. However, I'm very happy to report that the exchange was normal, the shipping rates were more than reasonable and luckily my yarn crossed the border with no duty or handling fees. I'm delighted to be able to wholeheartedly recommend this store to Canadian knitters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Prize-winning letter of complaint

Below is a copy of a letter that won a competition in UK as complaint letter of the year...have a laugh and read on.

The British do have a way with words. This is a real-life customer complaint letter sent to NTL (to their complaints dept ...)


Dear Cretins,

I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone.

During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions. Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative, and seek to rectify these difficulties - or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office:

My initial installation was cancelled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further

57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website....HOW?

I alleviated the boredom by playing with my testicles for a few minutes - an activity at which you are no-doubt both familiar and highly adept. The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools - such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum. Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks my modem arrived... six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it.

I estimate your internet server's downtime is roughly 35%... hours between about 6pm -midnight, Mon-Fri, and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 calls on my mobile to your no-help line, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highly skilled bollock jugglers.

I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman...and several other variations on this theme.

Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle-moments to attend to. Frankly I don't care, it's far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustration's in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

I thought BT were shit, that they had attained the holy piss-pot of god-awful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That's why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn't anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum incompetents of the highest order.

British Telecom - wankers though they are - shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy puss-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy. Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of service from you.

I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver - any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps bemused rage. I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cats litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit - they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you did not experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL, and its worthless employees.

Have a nice day - may it be the last in you miserable short life, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twats.

still seething

I’m still seething, but the scotch is starting to kick in now. I’ll be okay soon. I have been battling Bell since August over a $49.99 charge for a satellite dish they never installed because I cancelled the order when they tried to charge me $75 for installation after quoting me $0.

I have written letters and emails, and I have ridden their incredibly aggravating merry-go-round of a voice system more times than I care to remember. I’ve been ignored, hung up on, put on hold permanently, passed around, thrown into endless loops, and subjected to many, many hours of forced advertising while on hold. I’ve been promised my credit several times, but never received it. I’ve been lied to. I’ve been told “I have no supervisor” when I’ve asked to speak to supervisors.

It’s so frustrating to listen to that obsequious recording saying “your call is important to us. Please continue holding and we’ll be happy to take care of you as soon as we can. Have you heard about our new…”

At this point I’m so mad I could cry. They put me on hold until the office closed today. And the worst of it is, I hate when I get to the point where I’m taking it out on some low-wage Bell worker, because it’s not their fault they work for a huge soul-sucking monopoly with an intentionally rotten system of customer service.

I won’t give up though, even though the aggravation is not worth the $50. I’m stubborn.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The hat binge continues...

Never let it be said I didn't make enough hats.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Magical and Maniacal Knitting

I've been so busy knitting I haven't taken time to update my knitting blog lately. I must confess I've been scaring myself a bit with a compulsively maniacal approach to knitting. I'm currently on a hat binge.

I finished Mike's birthday hat and he says he has become a chick magnet...the girls are all over him whenever he's wearing the magic hat. It's a magic chick-magnet twisted rib watchman's cap, and the pattern is free on the net.

I also finished all these other hats in the last week. The black one and the blue one are Marsan Watchcaps. One is for Ken and one is for James, for Christmas. They're a nice fast twisted-rib knit. The striped one is for me. The two strawberries (aren't they adorable) are for Gavin (age 2) and his little brother Jonas (2 months). I'll post a picture of them in their hats when I get over there.
Mostly I think I'm just avoiding the cardigan.

green mountains madnessI ordered my yarn for my clapotis today. After much much much deliberation (you have no idea), I finally decided on Cherry Tree Hills silk/merino DK. I decided on the Green Mountains Madness colourway, but five minutes after I ordered it, I changed my mind to the Peacock.


Later I found my mind changing again, but I couldn't bring myself to call her back again. It's bad enough I have to live with my constantly changing mind, but I really shouldn't subject strangers to it. I got it from Sandra Singh's online store - her shipping rates are excellent, her prices are competitive, and her customer service is phenomenal.

country gardenThe worst part is just now, as I went looking for the pictures to show you the colourways, I wished I had chosen Country Garden

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Mannequins Shopping Spree

I don't know if I've mentioned them here before, but I have several mannequins - Clarissa, Genevieve, Peg, and The Kid. Plus a few mannequin heads, some with names and some without.

Now, I'm a blue jeans and t-shirt kind of girl...nothing fancy for me. I can't walk in heels without hurting myself (I don't even try anymore), and if I wear something I love I will probably spill coffee on it. I rarely wear dresses because I can't get the whole ensemble together - even if I find the perfect dress, I won't have pantyhose or shoes or a coat or a purse (I keep all my "stuff" in my pockets). I just can't get my shit together enough to wear a dress, you know what I mean?

But I do love some of those feminine things that mystify and elude me, those girly-girl accessories that girly-girls wear so effortlessly, those grown-up lady shoes and dresses and lingerie. I just feel faintly ridiculous in them. Hence, the mannequins....they wear all this stuff I wouldn't be caught dead in.

So the biggest day of the year for my girls is the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show, held at the most opulent of hotels, the Chateau Laurier. Every year I get there early and line up with the crowds, and then the doors open and there's a feverish crush of women unleashed into the pure decadence of this incredible, delicious, delectable smorgasborg of historical textiles and fashions and jewelry and accessories.

Meanwhile, the mannequins wait at home with baited breath, eager to see what I'll bring them. A fur stole? A beaded flapper dress? Stiletto heels? A cocky litle hat? Something demure and Victorian, or a see-through go-go girl outfit? Another mannequin? Ya just never know. So here are the treasures I unearthed this year:

This is a fabulous find, a dress, or a mantle, or a combination dress/mantle thing, which comes from Belgrade! It's made of black wool, with fine hand-done petit-point adornment. The photo of Clarissa modeling it simply does not do it justice, so I've included a couple of photos with better lighting.

It actually fits me too, but only if I wear heels, so I just know I'll never wear it. Still, it's nice to know I could wear it, if only I could.

Everybody got something except Genevieve and the Kid. This is Genevieve, wearing the stunning dress I bought her last year at the same event. It's black fringe with a silk lining, and it clings to her form as if it were custom-made just for her. She looks exquisite, no? This dress is why she didn't get anything this year...she is divine just the way she is. The picture just doesn't do that dress justice...if anybody knows how to photograph black, please tell me!

Here's Clarissa again, modeling a lovely little dress, which I have to admit is far too ordinary to be in their wardrobe, but somehow it made more of an impression yesterday than today. Oh well. No adult human being is small enough to wear it, so it must have been made for mannequins.

That's The Kid in the background. I wanted to get him a Davy Crocket hat, but I didn't find one. Poor kid, he's been wearing the same clothes so long the back is fading. Peg loves her white rabbit-fur jacket. It fits me too, but she has already told me I can't borrow it because I'm likely to slop coffee down the front of it. I only bought it because it's sooooo incredibly soft. Poor little bunny though.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I'm not weaving without it!


I really don’t need another hobby, especially a good one, since there are already not enough hours in the day to do all the things I love doing. But it was such a good deal. I got it at the Spinners and Weavers show – it was the only loom for sale, and it was singing out to me. I didn’t buy it right away because I needed to think it through and figure out how I would fit it into my apartment and so on. I decided I don’t really need the loveseat, and the loom is about the size of a loveseat. Brand new, a loom like this would cost about $1800, and I got it used for $150. My friend helped me move it and together we dragged this 95-pound loom up the three flights of stairs to my apartment.

So now I have a loom, and I have no idea how to weave. None. The course doesn’t start until March. In the meantime I’m going to read about weaving and I’m going to put my loveseat on Freecycle.

The picture is of me falling in love with the loom at the show. As soon as I sat down, I felt I was "one with the loom."

Next I’m getting a spinning wheel and a sheep.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

I can’t decide if I really want to be more decisive or not. On the one hand, I’d be more likely to get what I want if I could just decide what it is I want. But on the other hand, not knowing what I want keeps all my options open. Maybe I won’t know what I want until I see it, but if I’m busy pursuing something else with single-minded determination, I’ll miss out on something better. On the other hand (how many hands do I have?) if I refuse to choose SOMETHING, I end up with nothing.

Major milestone!

I changed all my strings on my guitar for the first time tonight. It took me an hour and a half, but I did it. The hardest part was wrapping the strings around the pegs in the right direction…the string has to wrap over the string end the first time, and under for all subsequent wraps. For some reason, this was really difficult for me (I’m pretty sure I’m spatially challenged, even though I score above average on that dimension of IQ tests). I kept ending up with the strings wrapped in the wrong direction, ie wrapping from the outside in, if that makes sense. I don’t know why. The more I tried to understand the problem, the more incomprehensible it seemed. So finally I stopped trying to understand, and just kept doing it (and often undoing and re-doing it) until it was right. I figure at some unconscious level maybe I will figure it out, but thinking about it wasn’t helping! Anyway…it’s done, I’m happy, and now I can reward myself by opening up my new shipment of songbooks from

Now that I think about it, my guitar stringing problem has certain things in common with my knitting problems.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Making a mess

Ever have one of those weeks where you should just keep your hands away from the knitting needles because you're just making a mess, and every time you try to fix the mess you make it worse? I keep putting aside my projects as I mess them up, with the aim of taking them to my knitting goddess, Penelope, who will not only magically fix them, but make it look easy too. Usually I only have to take her one mess a week, but I'm up to three this week.

I think I'm just being careless because I'm preoccupied with the impending crisis at work. The funding situation is ominous - and I say this as an incurable optimist.

You'd think it would be easy to be a non-profit organization...all you have to do is not make a profit. But jeez louise, that's the easy part. Getting enough money so you can keep the staff so you can do quality work is starting to seem almost pie-in-the-sky unrealistic. Non-profit organizations are spending a lot of resources just trying to survive, let alone carry out their missions. Fifteen years ago they were laying off deadwood. Now they're cutting good workers with solid commitments to their organizations' values and mission. It's sad. And for those of us who work in the sector, it's scary.