Friday, December 29, 2006

Frivolity, Not Just an Illusion

There has been much eating and drinking and opening of gifts here, at the farm and assorted family residences. Eventhough I didn't knit for Christmas (much) , we have two out of three babies already born this holiday season. I haven't got to hold any of them yet, but the gifts were well received.
Except for the heavily gravid SIL who deemed it best to open the gift later in the week when she's alone.... you're welcome.
Some people are so strange.
This Magknits illusion scarf was as quick and easy as it was interesting to knit. It goes to the zamboni guy at the rink where my daughter takes figure skating lessons. Years ago we always had her birthday at the skating rink. These young people go out in public skating like life guards. Therefore I don't need to skate and supervise them. We gave zamboni guy some pink cupcakes when he was about 16 and he said, "No one's ever shared before". That captured my heart.
He's been such a help at turning on the parent "toasters" in the bleachers, chasing away dangerous young men doing drug deals in the wrong place and dressing up for our carnival. When he asked, "When are you going to knit something for me?" I undertook to find a pattern in our club colours.
I don't like the rink. I have issues with the self-centered young women and their shallow pit bull mothers. But I knit there. I have failed on the board, so I just do joe-jobs. I have found a few friends. I stay less than I did when she was very young. But I always look forward to seeing zamboni man. I hope he likes it.
I intend to knit the cabled DNA scarf as well.
Overwhelming yarn choices, reading choices and goodies to be saved from going stale. I must take the big dog for a walk first to earn my rest. I was at the doctor at 0900h this morning for care of an ear infection. It just about struck me out of the holiday fun, but I managed to overcome the misery and now I have backup meds if I need them. A sure cure.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Embrace the Unexpected

What a joy and delight it is to knit from this kettle-dyed pure merino wool from malgrigo.
I am not normally content to accept change and surprise. I like to know what's being flung at me. But through knitting I am becoming a better mother, wife, teacher, everything.
Just because I can't control or anticipate something does not make it bad, scary or evil. In the case of handpainted yarn, it is a blessing. What's coming next. How will my action (stitch, guage, pattern) affect the cosmos.
An unexpected Boxing Day sale. 40% off. Yay! I had my eye on this emerald mix. I want to see how Li's scarf knits up in it. I want to wade into the water eventhough I don't know what's under it. The year I went surfing I had to practice being brave. What's the worse thing that could happen? Falling off didn't hurt, it wasn't violent. I just got back on.
I hope this will be a year of embracing the unexpected. Getting out of my sun room and walking into the depths of life.
I need all my courage to work on my novel. It's already helping because my journal is filling with parallel and unrelated ideas. I'm working in pencil now to give myself the feeling of jotting down thoughts. Nothing important. Nothing in stone. No risk.
Life is all risk. Going to Christmas dinner at my in-laws is all risk. But we've grown past the days when my BIL and I poked each other with verbal turkey forks. The new SIL is megolamaniacally pregnant. But I am almost 14 years from that situation. Our new addition this year will be a cello for my daughter. Embrace that unexpectedness.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Embraceable You.

I just love my little ipod. I just downloaded my first song from itunes: Jane Siberry and K.D. Lang "Calling All Angels". Such a beautiful piece. I hope to sing it one day. I'm lucky to have a few new favourites. Not too many Christmas songs this year, but that's OK.
This is his little basket of wires and where he rests and sleeps so I can ever find him if I need to listen to a knitting podcast or a book while I walk.

I'm already excited about the 40% off sale at my LYS on Boxing Day. I'm swatching a knit from the top raglan for my eldest nephew. If I get enough for the next guy, it doesn't count for knitting from your own stash year. I may buy some beautiful emerald hand paint, too, to make Li's reversible herringbone scarf. I have some Noro Silk Garden, but I probably wouldn't wear it. Who knows what it would look like knit up.

I'm enjoying a little break before tomorrow's three musical services at church. I love my flute and I'm so pleased to be playing. But I will be exhausted after the midnight service. It will be great to be surrounded by my three part brass family. It will be so wonderful to hear the trumpets and trombone players who are my husband and kids. Maybe I should take up the tuba.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Shortest Day

That was a pretty cool sostice. My best friend brought her son over and the kids played their new Dutch Blitz card game while we talked fibre and music lessons.

My daughter will be taking cello lessons in the new year. Despite the ordering of a new small car. I'll still have to schlep the soccer mom van around. It's not as bad as the year we both played bass drum in our pipe bands. The flute is much handier.

The tumbling blocks is finished and brilliant, though not bright enought to add light to the short day. Walking was so great this morning as it has warmed up a lot. I bathed the dog, so we couldn't run in the muddy field.

This is going to be a good Christmas. The 24th is almost entirely filled with carols and playing of instruments. Mom is handling the Christmas Eve soup and sandwich party that I always have. So I get to see my sisters and nephews before the big day. The big day is spent at the in-laws. But I have now shaved off the entire morning (for a classy breakfast with my parents) and the early afternoon (for a rest/ snack). We aren't expected until after 2pm. Much better than the years I had to bring the babies for 0900h. Yuck.

D. wanted me to go to the Knitter's gathering in California. It was awfully tempting. But two things held me back. First, I don't really like the sweaters/ads/ glitz of the magazine. I'm much more into knitty and IK. Secondly, my writing guilt wouldn't let me. A retreat must be a writing retreat. Not that it would be more fun. But it's something I should really explore. Perhaps a few days at UBC this summer.

In response to the finding my own knitting crowd, I tried to get onto the knitty chat room last night. But they wouldn't let me in. The scary squiggly letters were not what I read them as, I guess.

For two years I've been reading blogs, Yarn Harlot, Life's a Stitch, And She Knits Too. I've lurked. I've posted. Finally I got a blog. But I don't feel legitimate because I don't know if I'm getting any comments. Have I ever been read? It's like having a kool aid stand out the back of an ice rink. No way to meet the thirsty people.

I'm going to email Lara at Math4knitters to ask for help. I would like to politely reply to comments and get to know people better so that if I were to ever go to a knitting event, I would not be the outsider.

I don't knit as much or as well as so many of you. But this has been such a warm and inclusive gathering. I've learned lots about podcasts and blogs and computers and digital cameras. I feel that I'm not being judged in comparison, but for my own efforts.

I'll try to start a knitting group here in Sardis this year. I have a space I'm allowed to use. I'll see if there's a response. I hope it's better than the writing circle. Ew. I should try that again, too.

First get through this year. The lists have been checked off. Even the apple cranberry relish is now done. I'm going to enjoy a little rest and knitting.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

You're Not Alone

My daughter sat with me for two days while we were ill and knit with me. It was strange and relaxing and at times annoying. But like my mother, I didn't solve her problems and hand back the penguin. I showed her my reference books and demonstrated on my own needles.

She's very random and will be knitting without patterns before her 14th birthday (2 weeks).

What a silly penguin. He made us smile as we trudged through all our Christmas videos.

D. is in his grumpy Christmas mood. It really does irk him. Thank goodness for our music. We are playing together in three services on Christmas Eve. I love my pieces. Huron Carol, Wexford Carol, Lulay.

I have found reception for CBC Radio 2 and have been wallowing in wonderful classical music and great hosts all week. This is not the scheduled spot on the dial, but I'll take it.

Two more days of school. On Friday I serve pizza at lunch. Chaos.

All the gifts are wrapped and the baking done. It's good that I give myself time to be sick. The fever still comes, but I was able to attend a long meeting/party yesterday and make a nice meal for supper.

Teens are funny. No Lego this year. It's a bit tough. They want hair dryers and razors. I want a cup of tea and a bit of knitting.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Knit Your Own Stash

This is a big step to take on an evening that I'm home with a fever instead of helping at the Christmas Pageant. I'm dizzy and hot and cold and weak. No, please come in.

Given time to read Wendy Knits, I am interested in her idea of knit from your own stash year. I'm having trouble finding words.

Here are her rules. I will make a few changes. A few years ago I did manage this. I also read from my own shelf for a year. It makes me feel less guilty about my abundance in a world of unequal distribution, and helps validate that I like my own taste and can make good choices, even in the frothing excitement of a wool shop. When I make my long project list, everything is in the cupboard in the basement in clear containers. I even have enough baby yarn to knit for the Oak Avenue Mission.

Knit From Your Stash 2007!
L-B mentioned to me that she was thinking about attempting to knit from her stash exclusively in 2007. I, of course, laughed at her initially, but started thinking that attempting to knit from my stash exclusively was not a bad idea. Both L-B and I have stashes of epic proportions. L-B had suggested a period of 9 months of knitting from the stash, so that we could go to Stitches East next October and buy yarn there.
So, in a phone call, we sketched out our guidelines.
Knit From Your Stash 2007: Guidelines for L-B and Wendy
1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 -- a period of nine months.
2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:
2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone?
2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.
2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project.
2.d. We each get one "Get Out of Jail Free" card -- we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.
3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.
4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.
Anyone else who would like to join us in this is welcome to do so! Feel free to link to this page or to post the guidelines on your own blog. You may also alter the guidelines to suit your own situation.

The yarn I already ordered doesn't count because it's mine and no one can take it away from me. My sister's 50th is in October. If I do two nephew sweaters, my own lace shawl(s), sister's and various socks, I probably won't even need my get out of jail free card. I will try to save it for Scotland and London in August. OOO London!

Back to bed and A.S. Byatt's wonderful Possession.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thicky, thicky

I'm trying to buy lace weight yarn over the internet, but I'm having trouble with all the numbers. That's why I listen to Math4knitters.
From my Joy of Cooking I have the equivalents.
1g =0.032 oz
10z = 28.35 g

Now if the wool comes in 150g skeins and there's 325 meters to 4 oz (why mix imperial with metric!) (Why mix ever anyway?)
Fleece Artist is Canadian. I'm Canadian. We use System International. Phooey.
How much do I need and what will it cost and is another type a better deal?
This is simple math but I'm floundering in little cards and my calculator is laughing at me.

I need 800 yds of "laceweight". That could be anything. Granted a shawl will fit, my problem is if I buy hand-dyed, I'd better have enough at the start.
Is sock weight light enough? I'm not sure it's what I want.

And the answer is Helen's Lace from Lorna's Laces in navy. Sight unseen. Thanks Urban Yarns. I hope I'm not sad with the yarn, or the pattern, or my knitting, or my sister's reaction. Who said knitting was simple?

Baby Alpaca is for Babies

Yummy yarn buy. I knew I would reneg on my intention to do no Christmas knitting. But there are two marvelous little boys in our office and I can't resist. My only regret is that they're not more a part of my life. I will drop in to bring this little gift. I may even bring my horse/dog for the older boy to tussle with.

This thick and soft yarn will be perfect, I hope for the little ones who don't want to wear a hat. I'm strict about winter hats and little ones. I knit many for my own babies. The first hat knit up so quickly last night. I'm using Ann Budd's The Knitter's handy book of patterns again. I use it a lot. You find your gauge, you pick your size and you follow the graph for that choice. So many sizes and gauges are given. It's good for adding designs, too. But this first hat was still a little big, so the second one will be the smallest size. Easy, peasy.

The Chilliwack Wool and Craft shop is so charming. The first time I walked in, it was so bright and clean, I thought I was in the wrong place. Hanne is Dutch and sweet. She has a big family and one of her boys did work experience with D. who is a dairy vet.

They have clients in the traditional Dutch community who actually still have ties with Europe, so we're seeing a whole new line of wools. Plus they'll order just about anything for me. I had a lot of trouble with the other shop over her priorities and why I was at the bottom for a year. When she got on the order, the wool came in a week. But the birthday had come and gone- twice!

Hanne orders and keeps me up to date if it will be delayed. I rarely order in a fit of need.

Right now I'm trying to order some Fleece Artist from Urban Yarns. Lace yarn is a bit thin on the ground, and I think I'm talking myself out of cobweb. My Pacific Coast Rainforest Shawl (Fiber Arts) has a hole. I'd like to give something a little sturdier. This is a 50th birthday for my second-oldest sister who is a wonderful knitter and painter and artist and lives on Saltspring Island. A true eden.

I'm looking for a dark blue to knit Print o' the Waves from Eunny. They have apologized that they don't have my choice. I emailed back that I can't start the gift until February anyway. I hope they'll order it for me. I can maybe pick it up in the New Year. That's really only a few weeks away.

Tonight I will probably make the pastry for my butter tarts. And that may be it except for more shortbread. They do love that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finished Object

I'm excited about how quickly this ingenious pattern knit up once I got the flow. The second half took less than half the time of the first. That's the story of "first time". Always be patient with beginning a project.

That's something that knitters understand. Invoking the god of patience is part of beginning each project. After I finished and steam blocked the Backyard Leaves scarf, I swatched for an illusion scarf. Now I have the right needles and wool for when my friend is ready to cast on. I'm doing the DNA and she'd doing the keyboard from Magknits.

This blog is a beginning project. I love my little Canon and I'm learning to play with the settings. But Blogger has changed a few times and now I have no indication of comments. Maybe I'm on a comment-blocked setting. I need to check it out more extensively. As far as I know, I've never had a comment. Perhaps never a reader. I was quite discouraged as I invested my time in my on-line course. But that's over and I have more time for writing, knitting and fun.

The on-line knitting community has been so very important to me in my creative life. I have been following knitty, Life's a Stitch and the Yarn Harlot for a few years now. But I didn't like the ethical implications of being a lurker. I started to comment. Then I slipped into this blog. I like the idea of doing my part to join in . If no one reads it, I still have moved beyond lurking. My next attempt will be to join a chat room. Even if I were in a big city, I could never find the exciting, imaginative and giving people whom I meet in blogland. It is a special place that helps me overcome my little speed bumps of life and the trials and successes of my knitting. There is inspiration being freely shared that I appreciate so much. Enough to get going on my blankie and chalk up another FO.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Well, back walking, anyway. She's big but she's not a horse. It is a theory of mine that the reason I am not pining for another horse is this 95 lb dog.

The snow has a bated, it is warm enough to trundle through our 5 km walk. What a relief. I require the walking therapy for my asthma and my nasty knees. I did spend an entire year (not last year) when I missed only 2 days. I try to be gentler on myself, though Carly requires daily excercize. If I have a busy day or can't make the full 45 minutes, I'll be OK with a smaller walk or wait until tomorrow. The kids have helped out when I've been sick. D. likes to take her out, too. It is good to have a goal. It is bad to be inflexible and not allow for real life.
But how easy do I go on myself? At what point do I just get lazy? I need to remember that walking is fun and lets me be alone and self-directed. The way I feel after the walk is important to focus on as well. It is a much better feeling than sitting at my computer for that 40 minutes.
Lots of uninterrupted (!!) knitting last night. What a rush. How long has it been? I have 6 pattern repeats left on my backyard leaves from IK Holiday Gifts and two balls of butterfly cotton left on my tumbling blocks baby blanket for early January.
The pattern developed from several sources. I can't take credit for the pattern, but neither can I cite my source. I'll try to put it down below. Sets of 10 that travel through st st, reverse st st, and seed st. I like a predictable pattern that I can knit off the stitches. I have 10 st border in seed stitch because I'm not a big fan or garter. I cast on 200 stitches to get a blanket 40 inches. I hope to knit a square. I charted it on knitting graph paper.
On right side: v= pearl and 0= knit, but this is entirely reversible.
20. vovovovovo
vvovovovoo 19.
18. vvvovovooo
vvvvovoooo 17.
16. vvvvvooooo
vvvvvooooo 15.
14. ovvvvoooov
vovvvooovo 13.
12. ovovvoovov
vovovovovo 11.
10. ovovovovov
vovoovvovo 12
8. ovooovvvov
voooovvvvo 7.
6. ooooovvvvv
ooooovvvvv 5.
4. oooovovvvv
ooovovovvv 3.
2. oovovovovv
ovovovovov 1.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Not Quite Falling

These leaves are designed by a genius. Anne Modesitt is incredible. They are as intriguing as they are impressive. I'm working on the second half (to be grafted in the middle). The ends are sculpted leaves. I'm loving it. I never intended to finish it quickly, but I would really like to wear it to one of the Christmas things.

I bought a beautiful crinkly cranberry blouse with lots of little fasteners down the front and lots of cleavage. Then I bought a light turtleneck in the same colour. I'm a bit of a fashion chicken. But what could I do with a pattern from the knitting heretic? I've asked for the Big Girl Knits for Christmas. Even when I'm at my (old and shelved) goal weight, I'm curvy. I no longer believe in goal weights. I believe in knitting goals and writing goals, exercize goals and health goals. But the scale be damned. It is not my friend. The only numbers I have ever gotten along with are in knitting.

Blogger is hating my photos again and wanting them shunted to a parallel universe. I'd love to share the pewter stitches with anyone who stops by.

One of things I adore about knit blogs is learning about the places people come from.

I'm in the Fraser Valley in a small town that used to be called Sardis. There are lots of used to be's in my town and that's partly what my book is about. The threat of development.

The snow is returning to its normal state i.e. anywhere else. I have had a lot of trouble walking my big black dog lately. But Carly needs her mileage (kilometerage) to be content to shed on the white carpet in the front room. She really is a good dog. But 95 lbs on the other end of a leash makes for a tipsy turn on the ice. I really have been tough on her "heeling" lately. The kitten chow in my pocket helps her to focus on my needs: don't pull!!!

The gifts are wrapped except for D and the kids. I have another gathering on Thursday with the choir. Good news, we got a lot done last night. They can stick to the tune while I play flute and I have a solo on Christmas Eve morning. I'd rather sing, but I have this Lo How a Rose ready.

My thin crust vegetarian bake at home pizza is ready. The boys are in the basement watching pirates and D has our daughter at the skate shop. Sit back and relax. Listen to Kathy Reichs on the computer while following the falling leaves. Good.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


My dragon daughter had a blow up last night at dinner. We sat at the table. Together. This is supposed to be healthy. Sometimes on a week night we have to go to meetings after dinner. Not every night. Not like a few years ago when we were at pipe band practice 4 evenings a week.
Why did she have to freak out when we pointed out that she had failed to clean up the dog after her walk? We all make mistakes.
So much aggression. I was in despair. I had to go to parent teacher night for the son. It wasn't so bad. He's an asset to the school. So is she.
When I got back, I just wanted quiet time. So I put on an audio book and I made 8 trays of shortbread. I knit between batches. The teachers' gifts are done and wrapped on square plates. Next: butter tarts.
Filling the house with the smells of our favourite food and warming the kitchen were healing.
She apologized this morning. She doesn't understand it either. Teen age is the worst.

I'm sorry. Blogger is not downloading my pictures. I'm not alone with this problem. Maybe I should just take comfort in knowing I'm not alone in my problems.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I Should Be Writing

My course is over and I'm not signed up for next semester. That means I have an opportunity, if I take it to get my first draft finished. It has been too long since I made that as a goal. Knitting is more than a diversion. It has helped me to understand the long winter of the middle of a project. I feel that often with a big sweater, lace project or blanket. But I also know now that I have the capability to finish something. I trust myself.

I'm not the kind of knitter who has lots on the needles. I used to have one knitting and one stitching project at a time. Now I have one complicated and one simple- both knitting.

I stopped journalling when I threw out my old notes. I never intended to reread them and D was pushing to clean up. It was difficult. What is the purpose of writing down all my ideas, only to toss them?

I keep my poems.

I have hundreds of cards written up for my novel. Now is the time to make a big mess and get some chapters written. Only when I'm in the middle of it can I decide on the ending. Making this decision has paralyzed me. But I wouldn't choose an edging until I had most of the shawl in my hand. I may even need to block it.
Practice forgiveness. Get that monkey off your back.
Look at how adventurous I can get in knitting. Transfer the skill to the writing.
Mur Lafferty has a great podcast: I Should Be Writing at I'm catching up on my listening and I find it so encouraging and realistic.
The baby blanket is doing great- starting my 4th of 5 balls tonight thanks to Six Feet Under. My scarf increased this weekend and I look forward to the first edge. Had a great time yesterday with my best friend as she is rediscovering her knitting self. We went to a wool shop two weeks ago and she already finished the shawl and baby hat and made a second shawl of stash. Now she's making her first socks. She called lastnight asking about the magic loop. No holding her back. I sent her the link to knitting where there are good videos. I haven't tried it yet myself but the socks and yarn are top of the pile.
I also sent her the link to the counterpoint scarf from Magknits new issue. Our sons play piano duets together. I thought I'd do the DNA illusion scarf at the same time. Go Cascade 220.