Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat!

It's the last day of October, and I've met all three of my deadlines: HUGe, the writing contest, and the bag contest (!!!) Spent most of today writing up instructions for the bag pattern, but all is done and gone now. Tonight I'm KNITTING!

Happy Birthday, Rosie!!

Have a great one!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wanna See What I Saw?

I did get out for that walk and it was wonderful. It's getting cold out! I needed a toque (my knitting of course) and a heavy sweatshirt. Next time a woolly sweater.

The salmon are spawning. This mostly means we see a lot of dead salmon on the shoreline. I have seen them charge up the creek, but only when I don't have a camera with me. They seem to know. I thought this guy was a goner.

But then he started thrashing around. Poor things. They look so beat-up and bedraggled by this point. Those guys are tough!

There are also lots of birds around these days (feasting on salmon suppers). More photos another day. Blogger is being pissy.


I have finished my three entries for the writing contest!!! Done! Done! Done! I just have to submit them via the online entry form and then forget about it until February.

How do I put this massive feat into perspective? First, you need to know that I am not exactly...employable. I can't keep regular hours, and too much activity stresses me out. Sometimes my nervous system just goes down and I need to sleep for a few days. I jump easily at noises and loud voices. I used to be a high-school teacher...can you imagine me going back to that? Noooo. I used to be a hard-driven academic grad-school student (ancient biblical languages and exegesis). Don't even ask.

Now I am a writer. I have set aside mornings to work. I work from about 9:00 until noon. I've been training myself and my friends and family to this schedule. I don't have to commute. The coffee is always fresh. And I can go to work in my pajamas if I want to. I have set myself the modest goal of selling something I've written to a paying publication. I'm hoping that it happens within a year, but whatever. It would be really great to make some kind of a living off what I do more naturally than anything else, besides knitting. It would be cool if something I wrote put a roof on our house or yarn in my stash. Doug wants a Mini-Cooper very badly, but I get ahead of myself...

So...this past two weeks, I have stuck to my schedule, and I have three pieces of work ready to enter in a contest. One is a collection of poetry, and two are personal essays. All three began as pieces I have written in the last four years, but all three required major surgery and editing to conform to demands of quality, clarity, and length. I'm surprised at the different directions each one took me. Like going on a journey on a familiar path and winding up somewhere else entirely.

It feels amazing to be done! I'm going off for a much-needed walk on what has turned into a glorious fall day. When I return I'm posting pix of what I saw.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pretty Darn Brilliant

I came up with an idea this week that is so wonderful, I have to share it. Maybe you remember I was working on a "science experiment" a while back (and maybe you don't), but life got so crazy in October that I put it away. I had three deadlines in October, and the other two have gone so well that a few days ago I hauled out the abandoned experiment. Ok, it's a bag that I'm designing. That sounds too lofty. Ok, it's a bag that I'm making up as I go along. That's more accurate.

I got to thinking about handles. I can knit a handle, but I like strappy handles on my bags. I was in the thrift store looking for other items, and I wandered into the purse aisle. Lots of purses. Lots of handles. I started looking at them closely. A lightbulb went on over my head. It is cheaper to buy a used purse and raid the hardware than it is to buy something at a store that might not look as nice. I bought some used purses.

I harvested the handles. Went for ones that were supple, and that had a good shape and comfortable feel. I went for ones that had cool hardware and clips and such that could be knitted and felted right onto the bag. Or that could clip onto D-rings after felting

I went for belts and belt-like purse straps that could be buckled through two D-rings or sewn in place. Very excited about the whole idea, cuz I've got plans. Bag-lady plans.

I finished knitting and felting the bag today. Can't show a pic until...later, but I have to say I LOVE how the bag turned out. I don't even care if I win the contest. I made a bag that I really like, and it's my own design. I'm already planning to make a second one. And I have handles...

Apart from that, it has been an exhausting week. I am nearly ready to send my three pieces of writing off to the contest. I went to see my therapist today, and that was a soggy affair. Doug and I desperately need a few days away on our own. I'm feeling like I just can't keep up with all that is going on in our family life these days. But hey, I made a bag that I like.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The rest of yesterday went a lot better. I met my mom for lunch, and we had a nice time. We went to a Japanese restaurant, and she gave me a butternut squash from her garden and some birthday goodies. Chocolates and a knitting book...who could complain? I saw my dad for a few minutes at the end of the visit. He has become a lot quieter in the last two years. I can't say I get excited about seeing my parents. I'm not looking for anything particular from them. But I've discovered that each time I do one of these get-togethers, I feel less scared of them -- of both the visits and of my parents. I come away with a stronger feeling of who I am in relation to them.

On the way home I stopped in to the VV Boutique. Valu-Village is a thrift store. I used to be snobby about such things until I discovered how much fun it is to shop the deals. H needed some duds to complete her hippy look for Hallowe'en.

Find of finds...eleven pairs of knitting needles in excellent condition for 99 cents a pair. I bought up a big handful for the Wednesday yarn girls. Many of them are just beginning to knit, with few supplies to call their own. I found a lot of useful sizes in the worsted/aran range and a set of DPN's

Spent most of my free time yesterday working over two of my contest pieces. They are starting to look good again. And then I knocked off to finish this fingerless mitt. I like this pattern. It's simple, comfy, and close-fitting. You can find the free pattern here:


I mostly followed her instructions, but worked a few extra increases at the thumb gusset (15 st. instead of 11), and cast on a few extra stitches over the thumb hole. She says two; I did five. I also worked my rib in K1 P1 instead of K2P2 as she does.

I can do the Spock salute with both hands. Ain't I geeky?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Never Done

Here's a 2Truths and a Lie question that is so easy. [How easy is it?] It is so easy, that I'm giving everyone a point. Even people who don't read my blog are getting a point. Ready?

My favorite ways to wake up in the morning:

1. I don't like to wake up
2. If I have to wake up, let it be gently, by the sound of rolling surf
3. By my daughter flipping the light on in my eyes in the middle of a dead sleep and shrieking hysterically that her father is an idiot!

Our dear MS. H went off to bed last night with a sore belbow, so her darling father gave her an ice-pack to help soothe her way into slumber. She woke up early this morning and discovered to her great horror that her quilt, her sheets, her pajamas -- and her favorite cuddly item given to her when she had the chicken pox at four years old -- were soaked with sticky red juice. The man had given her a bag of frozen mixed berries for her ice pack, and no, he did not move the original (perforated) store packaging into a zip-lock bag. I'm not even going to unpack that one. I'll just leave it to your imagination.

Bunny enjoyed her trip through the washing machine, despite H's great fears that something terrible would happen. Her white parts have not looked this white in a long time, and she is still soft and fluffy. She's going to nap and dry in front of the fire today. Everything else was permanently stained, but fortunately not Bunny

Here's another 2Truths question that everyone gets a point for not having to answer:

Things I enjoy listening to:

1. The sound of the rain on the roof
2. The sound of a wood-burning fire
3. The sound of my son's voice dictating hockey statistics at me.

He is a hockey fan. I am not. No...that is putting it too mildly. He is hockey-OCD. I will watch the final game of the Stanley Cup IF we are playing in it.

This is the score board he installed on the outside of his room door. He made this himself. He changes the logos to show who is playing in the game that day. Every time a team scores, he opens his door and changes the score. Nobody in our family pays attention to the games except for him, so we're not sure for whose benefit he's posting the scores.

And people wonder why I buy yarn...

My Little Knits package finally arrived -- over a month after I ordered it. It was not Little Knits' fault -- they sent the package the day after I ordered it, and it arrived in Canada a day after that. And then it disappeared for a month. Little Knits kindly set about tracking it for me after I contacted them a few days ago, but it arrived today by itself. Didn't seem the least bit apologetic for partying on, staying out for weeks at a time and making me worry.

Look at all that splendiferous DB merino. It really is lovely lovely lovely. DK in three great colours (green, a light blue, and dark dark brown). Ten balls of merino chunky in a dark eggplant purple. This stuff sold for a song. Whole bags for 25 dollars. I guess I can forgive it for being a little late.

Two more joys await me now: I get to put one of my essays throught the editing process (and turn it into shit), and I get to have lunch with my mom. That one could go either way. I'll let you know.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I finished that shrug and made half a mitt, but the mitt is too small. So I knitted a hat. It's a free pattern from Berroco called "Kap." I knitted it in Artful Yarns Jazz, a heavy worsted 50/50 alpaca and wool yarn. It's yummy soft and tweedy rust/sage green. And it fits my pin-head. It is not felted, and I wanted it to have that newsboy slouch, so after I washed it, I blocked it...on my head. Yes, I wore this damp little hat on my head for the better part of five hours while I slaved away on my computer. It was surprisingly warm and I was not aware of the dampness. The wonder of wool.

I worked today, worked hard too. I'm editing three different pieces of writing for that CBC contest. It's a huge job. Today I worked over a poetry collection. They were all poems that I wrote in moments of great freedom, when I had no thought but to get them down onto paper. That is how all my work begins, in moments of complete abandon. I allow anything and everything to spill out without restraint. I love that stage. It is full of feeling and release. My unconscious mind travels all around to places I would never visit otherwise. Sometimes it's terrifying and painful, but it is also a bit of a thrill.

Then the raw material sits around, for weeks or months (or even years) before I lay my hands on it again and wrangle it into some kind of shape. That wrangling process involves several stages of distilling, changing, moving things around, throwing my hands up in despair, slamming my computer shut, and stomping around outside.

This collection of poems has been through the grinder several times already, and I have reached the point in editing where it all feels like shit. Nothing is good. It's dead. No one will ever want to read it. At this point, I have to leave it alone for a few days, let it set. Knit. Watch brainless movies, like "Lake Placid."

I've been reading a lot of those meme lists of four things. I think my favorite question is the one about movies you can watch over and over. Some of mine are:

The Hunt for Red October
Erin Brokovitch
An Affair to Remember
The Shawshank Redemption
Dead Poet's Society
You've got Mail
The Abyss

Saturday, October 21, 2006

How NOT to Make a Shrug

Don't follow the instructions in Knit It! Magazine (Better Homes and Gardens) April/2006.

This is the Fisherman Shrug featured on the cover of April/06 Knit It! magazine. The shrug is knit with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. I have to admit that I like LB Wool-Ease yarns. I like the T&Q and the Chunky versions. I'm not a big fan of LB in general, but Wool-Ease yarns are soft and cozy and very nice on the hands. It's a good product that washes and wears well. I've made several super-bulky sweaters with it that I love to wear. The yarn has just enough wool for warmth without being at all scratchy. So many people I know refuse to wear animal fibers. I am dismayed since I love to knit and wear animal fiber myself, but there it is...Wool-Ease is a good compromise. Since this shrug is a Christmas present for my sister, I got the best of both worlds. Something I enjoy knitting that she will enjoy wearing, and a super quick knit.

The instructions inside the magazine are problematic, to say the least. The pattern tells you to knit the main body of the sweater on 6 1/2mm needles and the sleeve cuffs and bottom edging with 10mm needles. Okay, I get part of this. They want the sleeve cuffs to be super huge and loose, and the bottom edging has to be looser and stretchier than the main body, BUT...guage is 9st = 4", and there is no way I'm going to get that on size 10 1/2 needles. I tend to knit bang-on guage, and this yarn is designed to be knit at 9st on 9mm needles. So how is a person supposed to knit that guage on 10 1/2mm needles? Not to mention, that with yarn that bulky, you'd probably be fighting and cursing over every stitch on needles that much thinner than intended. Forget that, I knit with 9mm needles 'cuz that's guage. I used 9mm needles for the sleeve cuffs because I did not want to be swimming in them, and 10mm for the opening edging. And guess what?? It worked out fine.

Next problem:
The shrug is knitted in five pieces: one back, two small triangular fronts, and two sleeves. In the pattern schematics in the magazine, it is very clear the the sleeves need to taper along a particular raglan angle to fit to the back, and along a completely different raglan angle to attach to the small triangle front pieces. You can clearly see how the triangle fronts fit in to form the front shape in the above picture.

The pattern instructions have you increasing the sleeve to the armpit and then decreasing it in exactly the same way on both sides of the sleeve. It doesn't fit the schematic and would make it impossible to sew together the shrug.

You can find extensive pattern corrections on the Lion Brand Free Patterns Site. Go here (thanks B2!):


This is mostly helpful, but they haven't addressed the guage issue, and they still neglect to clear up the decrease issue on the raglan edge of one side of the sleeve. I fixed it by putting in three extra decreases on each front sleeve edge.

So...if you want to knit the shrug, I do recommend it as a super quick and relatively easy knit. It only cost me 24.00 'cuz the yarn was on a good sale at Michaels. I used four balls. You don't need the magazine. Use the LB pattern from the address above. You can make the back and the two triangle fronts with no problem. Just pay attention to needle size and guage. I used 9mm for all but the band around the front and bottom, and most likely you can do the same thing. Make sure your sleeve decrease rows add up to the same number as the decrease rows for the back.

Here's how I did the math for the sleeve decreases. I did a total of 13 decreases for the back raglan edges. That added up to 26 rows of knitting. For the sleeves, I did 13 decreases on the matching edge for the back and the difference between thirteen and the total number of decreases needed on the opposite edge for the front. In my case, it turned out to be five decreases, which I spread evenly over the length of the front edge. I needed a different amount because I Made my sleeves longer and thinner than in the original pattern. I wanted sleeves that came to the knuckles and did not balloon out or fold back at the wrists.

Oh yeah...the other glitch I ran into was that the pattern told me to pick up 100 stitches for the band that goes around the bottom, neck and front opening. I knitted the 100 stitch band, but it was too tight. I frogged it and then picked up one stitch for each stitch of the sweater around the band, and thus ended up picking up an extra 18 stitches altogether. That worked out great. You can also make the band wider than they say. I think I added an inch to mine before I ran out of yarn. A Wider band means you can make the fronts meet in the middle and stick a pin through them.

How do I keep track of everything? I always enter notes about my knitting projects in this notebook. When you have as many projects on the go as I usually do, you have to write everything down. I keep track of yarn and guage, size and type of needles, pattern notes and changes. I do my calculations and keep track of rows. I keep the book with me whenever I knit. I have found that to be one of the best knitting tricks I know.

Now that the shrug is done, I'm making a pair of fingerless mitts from a pattern I found online. More later.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Check it Out!

I haven't posted in a few days. I've been BUSY. Busier than I like to be. Too busy. You have to know me -- I am the unbusiest person I know, so when I say I'm busy, that's saying something. Ok, busy might be the wrong word, but I have had a lot going on these days. I know there's a problem when I have to go to sleep every afternoon for two hours.

We're not talking about knitting goings-on either. Well, mostly not. Doug was away for five days last week, and I was on deck a lot. I did have a friend stay over on the weekend, and we stayed up WAY too late. I did get my HUGe done and mailed off to NY. I did have the yarn chicks over on Wednesday night. I have been trying to get my writing for the contest edited and ready to send. And I have been sleeping every day for two hours in the afternoon just to keep up.

The kids are off from school today, so I took them out to breakfast and then to Wally-World to pick up a birthday party present. And...check it out! Wally-world has an intriguing new yarn out. Well, mine does. I googled it, and there is a little eeny bit of talk about it so far, so it must be very new.

It's called Eco-fil (recycled earth-friendly yarn). It is 75% cotton/25% acrylic, but feels totally cottony. It is soft enough, but feels like it will get even softer in the wash. You get a HUGE ball for 3.97 Cdn. 225 grams!! Can only guess how many yards that will be. Must be a few because they had a free pattern for a ribbed pullover that called for 2 1/2 balls to make a 34/36" size. It has a nice smooth twist to it, is worsted weight, and does not look nearly as cheap-o as the standard Bernat Handicrafter cotton. At that price, I had to get a few balls to play around with.

I picked up this fun pattern book called Yarn Play at Chapters last night. It has lots of focus on using colour effectively, and some funky sweater constructions. I'm considering using my Pamir to make the cover sweater. That would mean scrapping the design I'm carrying around in my head for now, but I'm up for that.

I think the new Eco-fil yarn would make nice scrubby washcloths.

And funky table runners. Both patterns are from the new pattern book. Bet that yarn would do a wonderful Mason-Dixon dance too...

Despite not having much time to knit, the insta-shrug (This Great SHRUG!) is coming together quickly. I thought the instructions were pissy to say the least. Even the massively corrected instructions on Lion Brand's free patterns site were pissy in a few places. I ended up inventing several instructions for myself. This is the second time I'm knitting the ribbed band because of said pissy instructions. I'm hoping to get the last inch or so done in time for movies with the man tonight. I'll post the finished pix and fix-ups in tomorow's post.

Finally...only "anonymous" who turned out to be Karin BJ won a point for the last round of 2Truths. I have documented proof of swimming with turtles and of swimming in a waterfall in Maui.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

All Good Things

Happiness is...a warm nest on a cool day

Isn't it organic...(hum dance music in head)

This is O-Wool from the Vermont Organic Fiber Co. I got it from Webs. It says it's spun from luxurious 100% certified organic merino. I love the colour, and the yardage is good too -- 100g/200 yds. I did have to pay for the organic part though...

Am I ecstatic?? Sort of...not yet. It's not quite as soft as I had hoped. It is a beautifully spun, robust wool. It certainly does feel "wholesome," the word used to describe this yarn in all the promotional material. I think it is a lovely woolly yarn that is begging to be knit in a nice pattern stitch or cables. It seems just a bit uptight to me. I think a nice Lavalan bath will help it relax.

This was the dark horse in my box from Webs. Not sure what I was expecting when I ordered a few balls of Frog Tree alpaca worsted/aran weight on spec. Goodness...this stuff is next-to-the-skin soft. It is truly luxurious alpaca, spun in a single ply with a soft halo. You would never actually have to knit this yarn; it is perfectly content to be squeezed and cuddled as is. I might have to go back to the trough for more of this.

My Pamir experiment. I started with a back. I'm kind of making it up as I go along. I like the way the colours work together, but I've decided there are some things I don't like about my design. The back is too wide, and I don't like the seed stitch edge. While I was knitting, I added stripes and then frogged back. Tried different stripes, liked them, but frogged back. Not happy, I put it aside for a day. The next day I was out walking and suddenly I saw a picture in my head of the sweater I want to make. It is not this sweater. Same colours, new flavour. Stay tuned.

You would think I would be happy to play with my new O-Wool, or my Frog-Tree alpaca. I should be content to start working up the new sweater design for Pamir that is still orbiting around in my imagination. Or I could continue on with the nicely progressing side-to-side cardi. If I was feeling altruistic, I would root around for an orphaned project and get that launched in life.

But no...my husband is away. I miss him. I have a restless attention span. Michaels is having a big yarn sale. I found an old yarn love of mine in that sale (like running into an old high-school crush). And now I've...

"Cast on This Great SHRUG!"

What can I say? I like instant-gratification-knitting. LB Wool-Ease Thick 'n Quick is a comfort food of mine. For me it's the yarny equivalent of eating a big bag of Chee-to's. And it was on saaaaaale. I knitted the back this afternoon while watching Star Trek reruns. It's a cool construction, but I don't like the instructions. I figure, I'm a big girl; I can do better with this. So I've come up with a few changes. I don't want to be swimming in my sleeves, for one thing.

I did a good deed yesterday. Still feeling happy about it.

You know how you hear about older people with alzheimers or the like wandering off for hours until someone finds them? Well, yesterday I was out on a walk at the inlet with my dear friend R. We were off on a gab, laughing and catching up when a very frail older lady staggered up to us and asked us to help her. She was covered with mud. She had obviously slipped and fallen into a muddy patch of trail, and she was upset. We helped her to a bench, sat her down and helped her to clean her hands and to calm down. She was charming and delightful. She told us her name was Ivy. We waited for her to catch her breath and gently asked questions to help us figure out how to get her home. She remembered that she liked to come and see the birds at the park. She remembered that she had grown up in a small town in the Fraser Valley. She remembered the taste of fresh corn and strawberries, but...she had no idea where she was or where she had come from.

She had gone out for a walk with no jacket on a cool day. All she had with her was a little make-up kit with her toothbrush and a few personal items. She had a hospital tag in the pouch that told us her name and birthdate, but little else. She was 79 years old.

Ivy was cold, so R took off her warm fleece jacket, and I helped Ivy into it. I noticed a medic-alert bracelet, turned it over and bingo! The bracelet told us that she had memory loss and to call the police. R pulled out her cell-phone, and very shortly we saw two police cars driving down the gravel path toward us. Ivy had wandered away from a hospice more than two miles away and had been missing for over two hours. By this time we had quite a little party happening at the shoreline trail. R and I had been with Ivy for about half an hour. A group of three other older ladies had joined us and helped out with paper towels and water. And now we had two rather good-looking police officers, one in uniform and one in plain clothes. The plain-clothes cop looked like Patrick Swayze (in Ghost). I leaned over and whispered to Ivy that she had the best-looking police to help her out. She threw her head back and howled with laughter. R got her fleece back, and the uniformed cop tucked our new friend up into his big warm police fleece. I felt a little pang when we said good-bye to Ivy. She was such a lovely lady.

2Truths Update and Round Five:

Rosie has two point now. I've never had a tonsillectomy. Colin was born by C-section, and I had a navel hernia operation when I was a year old.

New Round: Things I have done in Hawaii

1. I swam with big sea turtles
2. I swam in a waterfall
3. I swam with no clothes on

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Reframing an Addiction

If you are not familiar with the term “reframing,” it is a therapeutic word that means to shift the perspective from one way of looking at a thing to a different way. We use specific words to show our attitudes and beliefs about things. If I say that a child is hyperactive, you get a different impression than when I say a child is spirited, even though the behavior may be exactly the same. To say I am a victim of abuse is very different than to say I’m a survivor.

I’m not talking about political correctness although I guess that’s one way it can play out. The new word or perspective needs to connect with a basic feeling or belief that one has held, usually about oneself. Some of my most powerful moments in counseling have occurred over these kinds of shifts. The shame-filled memory of how I wasn’t strong enough or brave enough to protect my sister from my dad becomes the knowledge that it was never an eleven-year-old’s job to do such a thing. When reframing, you see a piece of the truth you did not see before. Like the term suggests, the frame shifts; a new image slides into place, and suddenly something you believed all your life to be true is shown to be inaccurate. That changes lives.

I know from your comments that many of you understand that responsible self-care (caring for yourself as you would for a dear friend) is never selfish in the negative sense of that word. Many people will tell you that it is extremely selfish to take care of yourself well when others around you have so many needs. But once you’ve begun to learn the tough lesson of how to take kind care of yourself, you know that it is one of the most loving things you can do for the others in your life.

Okay, so how does this apply to knitting? Because I believe that it does apply to knitting. Doesn’t everything?

In the knitting world, we call ourselves shameless hussies, harlots, junkies. We cheat on our projects. We lust after each new colour and fiber that comes along. We are hopelessly addicted, obsessive-compulsive yarnaholics.

See where I’m going?

BUT…before you get the wrong idea. I wouldn’t change a thing about that wording. I love it – it’s hilarious and fun, and it takes knitting straight out of the world of grannies in rockers (bless them too, every one of them) and into the world of danger, risk and intrigue. It turns knitters into an edgy force to be reckoned with. I like being right in the middle of such a rebellious, up-yours kind of crowd.

However, I also know that there is a fair bit of guilt and apologetics that go along with the whole yarn acquisition fetish. Here’s what I think. When a person is an artist, we don’t beat up on them for wanting more colours for their painting. When new textures and mediums and surfaces come along, no one is surprised when an artist expands outward to try all that is possible. That is an admirable part of artistic expression. Imagine telling a painter that they already have too many colours – and that they really should stick to working with what’s in stock and not to bother experimenting with anything else. Imagine telling a musician not to try any more new songs. Oh the outrage.

This morning, I was wondering to myself why I jump from project to project, why I must start something with a new yarn that comes to my door, despite having several other projects in the works. It’s not that I never finish things. I have no trouble completing things once I’ve decided to. For me, it is an issue of having to get my hands into each new weight and feel and spin and colour. My hands just have to go exploring, have to discover what this new fiber is made of and what it can do. Maybe we’re all yarn-junkies craving another fix, but we are also fiber artists, and we need an ever-expanding range of colour and texture to express ourselves.

My counselor says that if I was to take my entire stash of yarn and dump it all into one huge pile and take a picture of it (I’m tempted to do this), I would have a wonderful image of the depth of my hunger and longing for all good things. This is a universal hunger, by the way. We all long for peace, wholeness, goodness, home, belonging and love. My drive to collect and work with beautiful yarns is simply one of the ways I’ve found to express this hunger in a tangible way.

Oh…and what’s stopping me from creating my yarn mountain memorial? Too damn lazy.

PS. More Stuff 'n Nonsense in the post below.

Can't Tell the Players Without a Program

2-Truths and a Lie Update

I have never had a hangover or a broken bone. Rosie is right about me being a goodie-two-shoes, too squeaky clean to try anything. Ever. Plus my sisters tried so many things that they scared me straight, but good. The weed was a special gift on my 40th birthday. It is a very fun story, especially the part where DH acquires the stuff. And yes, I did inhale. :)

Score stands thus: Cate, Rosie, T, and CBM each have one point.

I've been confused by a few guesses -- remember, two things are true; one is a lie. Your job is to identify the lie.

Round Four: Surgeries I've had...or have I?

1. Tonsillectomy
2. Caesarian Section
3. Hernia Operation

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Canadian History Moment

If you google the words "first permanent settler in Canada" you will get several references to a man called Louis Hebert. The address below will take you to a concise essay on our friend Louis. I would take you there myself, but I haven't learned that skill yet. Louis Hebert is well-established in Canadian history as the first permanent "Canadian" resident, despite the fact that the country was not called that at the time. Canadians do not quibble on the point.


No, I am not a direct descendent of Monsieur Hebert, but I am a direct descendent of a family that came from France later in the 1600's, along with Samuel Champlain and his gang. I am, in a straight line of descent, in the fourteenth generation. My children represent the fifteenth generation. My family tree intersects with Louis Hebert's family tree in the second or third generation, so there is some overlap. I have been to Quebec, but not to the Isle d'Orleans where there are tombstones of some of my old ancestors dating back to the mid-1600's. My dad has been there. We have a beautiful document of our family history that was done by a priest in the Catholic church sometime in the last century. My grandmother updated it and had it translated into English. My dad has since added to it, and we all have a copy. It is called 'Nos Familles" (our families). My ancestors were all artisans. They worked with their hands as silver smiths and cutlers.

My dad's French-Canadian family married within French, Roman Catholic families in all branches until his mother married an English Irish Protestant. That made a wave! They lived in Rural Saskatchewan and worked as teachers and in the county clerk's office. My dad was the first in his entire family tree to get a university education. My mom's family is more recent to Canada. Her grandparents came from England and Ireland. My dad used to say my mom's people were all Irish horse thieves just to make her mad. We only know a little bit about my mom's family -- only back to her grandparents. They were farmers.

My mom's dad was an alderman (sort of like a mayor) in Regina in the 1950's. We have a picture of him meeting and shaking hands with the Queen of England. I have not served a beer to up-Chuck, but my friend Laura did when Expo was here in 1986.

That makes CBM the winner of round 2.

Round 3 (obviously you'll stop if you're tired of playing, but I give out decent prizes)

1. I have never smoked marijuana
2. I have never had a hangover
3. I have never broken a bone

Friday, October 13, 2006

Yarny Eye Candy

Meet Elann.com's Pamir. Pamir is Italian-made 80% wool and 20% mohair. It knits a light, airy fabric of 15 stitches to 4" on 6mm needles.

A few people at Elann chat asked how it compares to Brown Sheep Company's Lamb's Pride Bulky. I have a few skeins of Lamb's Pride worsted on hand, so assuming the composition is the same (85% wool/15% mohair), here are my thoughts. The Lamb's pride yarn is spun in one ply, and the fibers seem to be evenly blended together. The Pamir looks two-ply'ish. If you look at the photo above, you'll see a thicker strand of a matte yarn spun with a thinner strand of a shinier yarn. I think the wool and mohair are in two separate strands with the mohair acting as an accent. This effect adds texture to the knitted fabric. Both Pamir and Lamb's Pride have a slightly thick/thin effect as you knit, but not noticeable in the finished fabric, except to add texture. Both feel like homey, comforting yarns. Both have a bit of a halo, and I would say both are about equally soft and equally scratchy. Nice on the hands, lovely to knit, certainly not as scratchy as many yarns, but I would not wear either against my bare skin. I have not knitted much with Lamb's Pride, but I think Pamir is a lighter bulky than the LP bulky would be. It comes across as airy and lofty, not a dense bulky yarn at all.

I want to do a Saturday-sweater with the four colours of Pamir I bought. Something to add a second layer to long sleeves on a cold day. I want the sweater to be loose and airy, not closely fitted as most of my sweaters are. Will post pix when there is something to show.

This next is my stack of Elann's Sierra Aran. I just like looking at how those colours work together.

This is the most accurate photo of Lichen (the colour in the middle) that I've been able to take. Compare to the shot above. Above, it looks brown; below, it looks green. It is both of those, just depends how the light catches it.

Finally, some progress on the side-to-side cardigan. Can you see how this is shaping up? I've knitted one sleeve and working towards finishing the left front. The back is knitted to the point where I will extend towards the other sleeve and front. I could sew up the left side seam now. If I felt like it. Which I don't.

We have a WINNER!

Two Truths and a Lie (round one) goes to T, clever girl. I'll give her a point even though she hedged her answer a bit. I was lying about gummi bears. I hate them. I have never smoked a cigar, and my favorite bit of a roast chicken or turkey is the heart.

I'm going to try a few more rounds of this. If anyone manages to accumulate more than one point, there may be a prize involved oooh-eee!

Round Two:

1. I descend from Irish, English and French stock.
2. I am a fourteenth-generation Canadian
3. I once served a beer to Prince Charles (of Chuck and Di fame)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

HUGe Relief

HUGe is done! Yippee-ki-yay!!

Elannites have been posting progress, and one woman who shall remain nameless, finished and then taunted the rest of us with "tic tic tic." Fine. I decided to get going. Hauled out all my supplies. Sorted out the HUGe mess they had become. Felt overwhelmed at the variety and where to start, and finally dug in. Today, I needed a quiet day at home, so I worked away at my projects until lo, they were done. I made ten sets of one thing and then ten sets of another. They look great!! See them all sitting there all pretty on my kitchen table? You can't see them? Why not?

Because I CAN'T post a picture. Can't describe them. Can't show. Can't tell. I'll make a deal though. Will photograph them tomorrow before heaving them eastward. After the spoiler alert period is over, I'll show y'all what I done made.

I knit out in public at Red Robin today. Doug goes out of town tomorrow, so we all went out for hamburgers today. Didn't do much knitting today because of HUGe. But it's done, it's done, oh happy dance!! What was I saying? Oh yeah, knitting...I'm working on the left front now of the side-to-side cardi. It's cool that it's all done in one piece. I'll post a picture tomorrow.

I'm waiting impatiently for some yarn I ordered weeks (and weeks) ago. Webs is being slow. Little Knits is being slow. Elann boxes show up in two days -- what's everyone else's problem?! Been waiting for my O-Wool from Vermont Organic Fiber Co. I want to see it. I want to feel it. Webs keeps tempting me with all sorts of emails about new yarns and new sales, but if they really want me to buy something, they should hurry up and SEND what I've already ordered.

Quiz question: The game is called "Two truths and a Lie." You have to decide which of the following statements is the lie.

1. I love to eat chicken hearts.
2. I love to eat gummy bears.
3. I've never smoked a cigar.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Right Back At'cha Joan

Joan (Vamanta Knits in side bar) has been posting beautiful pix of Vermont autumn leaves and colours. Yes, I want to go to Vermont and see these things for myself. I thought that I'd bring you a bit of that true-blue sky I posted about yesterday.

The trees are staying green a lot later this year because of the extra long summer we've had.

Not that we get a dramatic autumn around here, but there will be more colour in just a few weeks.

I want to say thank you to all of you who left encouraging comments to yesterday's post. I have to admit it's a bit like finding little chocolate easter eggs hidden around the house. I especially want to thank SK for her Husband's account of the gift of a hat. That story is a treasure, and I encourage you to look for it in yesterday's comments.

Several years ago, Doug and I went downtown to eat at our favorite Thai restaurant and to go to a movie. We always pass many homeless people downtown, and they generally ask for money. That night, when we were done eating, we had the restaurant pack up the extra food from off the serving dishes along with napkins and a fork. We were a bit nervous about offering leftovers to a stranger, but we walked up the road to the movie theatre hoping we would know what to do. We passed a few people and then walked close by a man sitting alone witih his back to a wall. "Do you have any food?" He asked. I smiled and asked him if he liked Thai food. He smiled back. I handed him the bag. He thanked us very politely. Further along, I stole a quick glance back and saw that he had spread the napkin neatly on his lap and looked like he was enjoying his meal. I felt so happy, and I was surprised by the dignity he had shown. That moment was a moment of grace for all three of us. Next time I go to see my therapist, I'm bringing a hat. Just in case.

A few people have asked me what's up with my therapist and the knitting thing. Do I sense knitters getting their ire up and wanting to defend one of their own? Poor D. She is a wise and very loving woman. I see her because she is sharp enough not to let me get away with any bullshit. I can usually pull the wool over people's eyes (ha!) but not hers. Anyway, she is not against knitting -- thinks it's grand -- especially when I make something for her. BUT she also knows that I have a tendency to use different things -- like sleeping and, yes, knitting -- to shut myself down to other things that need to be a part of my life -- like eating and getting exercise and, yes, paying attention to what's going on inside. So a few weeks ago when I went to see her, and I fell apart rather dramatically because I hadn't been doing those other things, she suggested "no more knitting." I think I said something back that rhymed with Fuck Off. We agreed that I would, perhaps, pay a little bit more attention to the other stuff and try to balance that with knitting.

I got a chance to knit out in public today -- at the chiropractor and at the dentist. I've made it across the back of the side-to-side cardigan. AND my VISA card is back in service, so I ordered some Pamir from Elann. Can't wait to show and tell.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Can you see the Progress?

Autumn is my favorite season. I'm not a heat-loving person, so I look forward to cooler days when the sun filters through changing leaves. I love the way the greens and oranges stand out sharply against a rich blue sky. The bluest sky I know happens in October and November. I'm a bit blue these days too. This is the time of year of family birthdays -- the family I grew up in -- and Thanksgiving. In my family of origin, it all gets blurred together, but now that I have distanced myself from some of that, the days stand out more sharply. I was aware of my parents' birthday in late September. I sent cards. I celebrated my birthday as a single entity, not as part of a conglomerate. It was a fun day. Sunday was Thanksgiving, and I did not go to where my family was gathered. Instead I celebrated yesterday with Doug's family, and I was thankful that I have an emergency back-up family where I belong. Yesterday was also my dead sister's birthday. I was due on her day but came a few days early. Cathy would have been 46 years old. I always wonder what she would have been like at different ages. She didn't make it past eighteen.

My therapist has been on my case about knitting. She doesn't have anything against it as such. It is the fact that she knows that I use it as an anaesthetic that causes her concern. She's been yanking my chain lately, and much as I don't like it, I know it's for the best. Yesterday was Thanksgiving Monday, and it was my dead sister's birthday, and it was also the anniversary of the day I started seeing my therapist. Four years I've been trudging up the stairs to her office. Four years, and sometimes I wonder if I've learned anything at all. Today I passed a homeless person sleeping in a doorway on the way to her office. It's getting colder out at night and in the morning. I wished I had a knitted hat or scarf on me to lay beside the sleeping person. A surprise for when they woke up. At the same time, I was thankful. Thankful that I have a wonderful family of my own -- Doug and the kids -- and an emergency back-up family, and even a painful limping family where I began. I am grateful that I can afford to knit and to see my therapist and that I live in a beautiful city with such a blue sky.

This is the sweater I'm working on these days. It is a very simple pattern, knit side to side in one piece. The tweedy rusty red yarn makes me feel in sync with the season. That and the homey nubby texture of the yarn. I wonder though -- is it a requirement of tweed that there be little bits of sticks and flotz in there? I don't get that.

I've made it up one sleeve to the shoulder and the sides of the front/back. Pretty soon I have to divide to make the front openings.

In this position it looks a bit like a loin-cloth. Tarzan wouldn't appreciate the little sticks 'n bits though.

This is another sweater in the Debbie Bliss book that I want to make. This looks like something I want to put on when I get up in the morning and wear all day.

I want to make it in Elann Sierra Aran in Fiddlehead Green. My white box arrived this morning. And it was free! Sort of...if you spend enough money at Elann, eventually you get some free yarn. I think of it as free yarn anyway.

More lovely colours of Sierra Aran. What I like about this picture is that in the direct sunshine, the yarn looks lighter than it is in person, but you can see the texture and the colour flecks in each ball. These colours are Paprika, Lichen, Damson, and Walnut. They look good together, and I'm thinking of combining them into something. I'll post some other pictures of them later.