Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get Off My Needles

Finally I have two sleeves. They are the same size and are in the correct gauge. They have correct cables and correct eyelets. This is not a small undertaking. One may assume that because I have knit for many years (all my life!!!) and have made a variety of challenging (epic) projects that a sweater wouldn't set me back so hard.
This yarn jumped off the needles in strange middle bits and I totally lost the eyelets for whole sets of pattern. But I persevered, ripped back and reknit until it felt that I wasn't even going forward. Yet here I am at the other end of the sleeves.
Which means I can reknit the back that I had to rip out because the gauge morphed so badly. I keep telling myself. Pretty purple, nice purple. Let's get along.
I cast on the back and knit the seedstitch. So now I'm allow to futz about my next project.
I want to knit a scarf for a grad present and I'm reeling in choices and mistakes. He loves the Noro 2 Rib scarf I made my nephew.
I bought Handmaiden Casbah. I know, that doesn't compute. I thought of the Entrelac scarf, but it is too clowny and the colors aren't moving at the right time. I downloaded a beautiful side to side scarf that is proven in Casbah, but after I cast on 400 of the 500 stitches, I remembered how much I hate knitting those long rows. I could knit it in short rows, or knit another pattern. Oh stop the chasing!
I think I'll go get the Silk Garden and knit the thing in the Mistake Rib a la Kay. I'm hesitant because I'm not sure which colours to knit ( you never know with Noro) and I don't know what my LYS has in stock. I could buy it at the trade show on Friday, but I have a big credit at the store and his mom is coming with me to ruin the surprise.
So I'm trying to not struggle with this knitting thing. Aside from casting on another baby sweater, it all feels like homework. I have a few months so I can just relax and let the wool come to me.
How do you deal with this sort of indecision?
I'm making some big decisions in my volunteer life. Our new leader has a leadership style that absolutely makes me crazy. She is not intentionally grabbing for power by making changes at the last minute, and she has every bit of authority to make the decisions. But the method rips ownership away from the team and leaves us (me) thinking, "What is the point?"
I have already stepped down as coordinator to just a teacher ( I have a helper once in a while now) because my whole philosophy was bulldozed with no chance of stating my reasons and the process of the three years I have been developing it. I am given orders as to what I will do to enhance her vision. Even just helping in other areas is fraught with fear of last minute changes. Like lego pieces, I am part of her vision, but not part of the visioning.
Rather that stamp my feet and shout, I first asked for consideration, and now I'm just asking for space. Her way is not wrong and she is hired as leader. But as a volunteer, I can choose what team I want to work on, and it's not that one.
I'm such a stickler. Why does this matter so much to me: philosophy, group dynamics, the steps of delegation? Sometimes I wish I was just the drone that she treats me as.
Such a rant, and not about knitting. But I know you deal with groups of people, have insight into these experiences and may have the advice that will show me if I'm right or just stubborn.
I will be working soon (hopefully in a few weeks) and will have new-found purpose.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Big Picture

The aran afghan is complete and squirrelled away into an oversized ziplock bag for graduation presenting. It's really soft and warm. The final dimensions are 42x60 inches.
These are some of the stash yarns I used to make it. Some didn't have labels.

It all came back except for one quarter cup. These bits will be a baby surprise or a pi shawl.

On my walk this evening, I finally found the sentinal forsythia. It usually blooms in early February. We had a 20 foot hedge in the horse field at the farm where I grew up. When the forsythia blooms, it is safe to garden and trim your roses.
The weather is still very unsettled and pretty cold if you go to lunch without a jacket ( no mother??)

I have just gained access again to Merlin Mann 's blog, 43 folders. I don't know why it crapped every time I tried it. I have been locked out, apparently since November. He is a "life hacker" who discusses creativity, effectiveness and the Zero In Box. Such ideas widen my little life and help me look at the work I'm trying to achieve instead of the piles of work on my desk. My planner, in box, next action (the whole Getting Things Done) as well as links to the formidably creative and effective are little bits of sugar to my rat brain.
He does a series on blogs that I have (obviously) not yet read. I would love this blog to grow. Merlin would tell you that the best way to get better at something is to do it.
Think of when someone says "how did you know that?" Because I have walked this floor before. In the army we had a phrase "from the ranks" which meant that the person had learned the hard way- by doing, no studying. Perspicacity. I try to keep my foundation steady with lots of grunt work.
The trim is finished. It may not be the most important thing and leads to other fixing, but if we wanted to sell this house (we don't) it would be the first thing I would do for an invisible buyer. Why not do it for myself, my family, and those we invite into our home?
It's simple and yet very difficult.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Next Step

I am cheered. Eventhough it's still a bit chilly, I planted my front door pots to give you a welcome.Can you see the giant half-frozen raindrops? They're white streaks. Robin In the Rain was one of my favourite songs to sing in Grade One. There are dozens of robins huddling infront of the neighbour's house when the wind pick up. There's no room for them in the back because the ducks are getting very bold.

And the aran afghan is in its epic blocking. A total stash buster. I still have small balls of yarn, but the big basket is empty. The border alone took two skeins. These are all mismatched from my former sweaters and blankets. I have a thing for Irish cable sweaters, but then, I'm Irish (mostly).
Late last night I got an email from the registered nurses college. They found my file and will set up a temporary license right away. I don't know what that means in linear time, but it's better than "it may take months" which was the discouraging news at the beginning of the week.
Now my projects take on a different light from the view of returning to the medical/palliative floor that has so generously left open my .6 part-time job.
I have been diligent (for a whole day) in my healthy eating/active plan for Spring Into Summer.
I have been a weight watchers leader, but have been unable to focus on diet since I let myself be buffeted by daily stress.
Write down what I eat- no cheating on yourself.
Veggies, veggies, veggies.
Tiny treat each day ( one ounce chocolate OR small glass of red wine).
Move every day.
In spring there is hope.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thankless Job

I thought I would feel good when I finished painting the baseboards. It's a good recession renovation: just take the paint from the garage and use.
But my family feels very strongly about preparing surfaces for painting, so I'm stiff all over from washing walls and sanding. The finished effect is pleasing- but very subtle.
It's like weaving ends in when you finish a knitting project. I wove in many ends last night while watching Twilight with Emily. The aran afghan is finished and needs just a light blocking. But I can't access the floor until the painting is finished and cleared away and the carpet is vacuumed. Darn that dog hair.
Still "frolicking" in the second sleeve of Bristow. Then I have to reknit the back in the correct gauge.
I did wind up some alpaca and the Handmaiden, so I may try to get out of this funk with a little startitis.
I am joining the Spring Into Summer endeavour. I have gained 10 pounds since I last stepped on a scale and am horrified and discouraged. Perhaps the encouragement of gentle knitters will help me to choose better meals while continuing my increased activity. The studying really held me back, as well as health troubles. But I need to work through those so I have the peace of mind to sit and knit.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fibres West

I had so much fun yesterday in Abbotsford at Fibres West. This is the first time I have been surrounded by real knitters who speak my language. The bag of rovings represents for me how open and casual the gathering was (is, it's going on today, too).
I bought a row counter for a friend. It's another one from my nephew, Tim that I bought at the Twist of Fate booth.

Where I got to play with my niece, Caroline. She is making glass knitting needles (electric tree glass) and has no fear with knitting and spinning, eventhough she has just begun this year.

There were tons of special yarns, all available to me "locally". I can hardly stand it. Valley Yarns is an on-line store with great selection, and I won't hesitate to order from her such goodies as this Casbah. I hope to make an entrelac scarf for a grad present.

Erin at Twist of Fate had this Naturally on sale. Sadly discontinued, it's enough to make my first design. Emily doesn't like the colour, but I'm trying to be brave and branch out a little. Who doesn't like gold?

It was exciting to get my own ravelry pin and meet others. The ladies at Fun Knits hosted the table for ravelers.
I went with my nursing friend, Eleanor, who is inspired to pick up the needles again. She even met an old friend there.

I was able to pick up the needles and knit a few rows on the little blue sweater while listening to the lovely Ivan from the Vancouver lace club. I bumped into a friend from church who turns out to be a weaver and a bobbin lace maker. Wow, I hope to learn a bit from her.
I finished the baby sweater last night and ventured on with the aubergine Bristow .

With the shaping and the cabling and the eyelet, I'm having to pay pretty close attention. I have set up a knitting plan to juggle the few projects I have on the needle in an attempt to become more efficient.
A lot of my "knitting" is surfing on your blogs, looking at patterns, dreaming of new ideas. Perhaps efficiency is the wrong approach. How about more time on the needles using the wool?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As a left handed child, I was a real challenge to teach to knit. My grandmother Donnelly spent more than one turn at it, one of the kinder things she did in my life. My mother was an expert knitter and I remember her sereptitiously knitting jackets for my sister and I in maroon with pale blue paper cutout dolls around the edge. My two older sisters showed me over and over, let me knit a few stitches on their projects, and also ripped back and fixed my mistakes.
But it was this publication from McCalls that cemented the process. I was probably 8 (and later 10). Mom's paperback is probably lost to the gods of moving house, but this old book was a gift from my MIL who can craft but chooses not to. She cooks, which is OK.
I was surfing Ravelry for a bag inspiration when I came across My Constant Companion from Knitter's Stash. By "my" My Constant Companion was not there. No old pictures, so I took a new one. My old paper knitting diary says I fininshed it in September 05. I really love it (after I lined it) and lots of my friends and their friends have made them after meeting mine. The pin is from Russia, my sister Pat and her husband Abraham have been involved in PanArctic art exhibits. Pretty cool. Pat is a spinner, weaver, and knitter of the finest colourwork. Her daughter has lately thrown herself into the knitting universe and I shall see her tomorrow at the Fibres West exhibition in Abbotsford.

This is my own LYS, the Chilliwack Wool and Craft Store. It is so bright and tidy that at first I didn't believe it was a wool shop. Susan is one of the owners and they have worked hard to provide the kinds of yarns and needles that my friends and I love. Crystal Palace and Noro in Chilliwack! They have nice sales on Canada Day and Boxing Day and have just received their biggest shipment of the year. Hanne leads classes and there is a Tuesday night club that I haven't been able to join because of music commitments. But they welcome me as a native and I can go there to just knit and visit.

The March baby sweater is coming along- great pattern to share next time. I'm practicing visiting with friends who have been neglected in my year of study. Boy it sure takes up a lot of time. Hopefully some of it will double as knitting time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Time to Learn

I am still filling my own time while I wait to start work. I forged ahead on the sleeve of Bristow and overcame someof my math challenges (as well as the need to look busy in front of my family). I am knitting this sweater for me, so I keep feeling it's not as important as other things in my life. But with my knitting skills, I should be able to knit a sweater to fit me. How will I be able to do that if I don't practice and make mistakes and learn how to correct them.

Plus I learned how to link in my blog!!! This is a long-wished-for-skill. Uncle Frank would say, what's stopping you? I was jealous that my neice, who only started knitting and blogging has totally rocked her blog. I was just about to ask her how to do it- in a whiny voice- when I thought I'd check the help menu. How about that? Her blog is electric tree and I put it on my blog roll on the side (eventhough she lurks and doesn't comment). Love you.
D got his computer back from out IT guy. It was salvageable and now connects to his iphone. He was mighty stressed out about the blue screen after all the updating etc.

Yesterday's walk showed some real signs of spring. But today is raining. I'm going to go to the wool shop to connect with some knitter and maybe return some cotton that didn't work.

Lastnight's Honours Concert of the Music Festival was super. I kept the beat on the hand drum and even slipped in the riffs. I'm so proud of my friends who taught them and the young musicians who worked to hard.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Left To My Own Devices

I finally carved out some uninterrupted time to knit and listen to Elizabeth Hay's "Late Nights On Air". It's a great audio book set in Yellowknife and I'm finally catching on to the charms of this cable pattern.
I love how it is a bit open between the pairs. The zig zags help keep you on the right row, and the little yarn over adds a feminine touch.

I seem to be blessed with a crop of thank-you cards lately. Two for knitting gifts. It helps in these last cold days. Tomorrow is supposed to go up to 10 degrees and then give us the rains. It has been too cold to garden with this arctic front. But the sunshine is teasing. When it warms up, the gardening will be pretty soggy.

The aran afghan is my "incidental knitting". These hair clips really helped with seaming. But now I know how to make a better seam. http://knittsings.com/bickford-seam/ Thanks Sam, (Lime & Violet Chum) but I'm a bit bitter that I'm already past that step. Vices and devices.

The seedstitch border is knitted on- I decided the ridge on the back would look like a frame and help with stability (sure). It sits downstairs with the TV and I can pick it up at any time and do a bit. One side is completed. This will help it be finished before June when Scott will get it as a grad present. He has been accepted in Computer Engineering in UVic. Yay! The ferry is a bit of a pill, but we have lots of friends and family on Vancouver Island and know he will be happy in the smaller, personal campus.

This is how my dog shows her music appreciation. When I am practicing flute, she makes a snoring sound and balances on her backbone- no small feet for a four-footed 110 lb big black dog. I had trouble getting a picture, because when I stop playing, she rolls over. She especially likes my Bach and the Rankin reels.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Answers- The Hard Way

Or: Doesn't That Sleeve Look Big To You?Yes. I found the reason why my stocking stitch was "rowing out". The needles were too big for the yarn. Oh, and by the way, the needles are too big for the gauge. Seriously: 16 instead of 19 stitches for 4 inches.
I swear I got gauge to begin with. I was so certain. I even made a note and wrote it on the pattern.
Apparently this sleeve can't read.
I started over, and everything looks so much better (except the completed back). I'm way more into knitting it with this nice hand. My mom likes to talk about the soil having "tilth". This sleeve has good tilth.
I have been doing a bit of surfing. Not a lot. Well, maybe more than a bit. I really encourage you to start your surfing from the Twist Collective ( http://twistcollective.com/2009/spring/magazinepage_01.php) pages. Wonderful colourful waves.
http://blog.morkland.org/?p=341. I already have the wool for the mitts. Perhaps I should start the hat first. I needed a hat really badly this morning. Minus 8 with a cold east wind. The dog loves it, but we cut a few corners on our walk and I didn't encourage anyone else to go out into it.
The choir I played drum with won gold and has been invited to the final concert. I hope they can get everyone. My best friend's son has wrapped up the high piano awards and I'd like to watch him collect the big silver trophies and hear him play his concerto. But that means I have to drum again and I hurt my hand last night, trying to do some rifs. It was great unbridled fun.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Dusting of Thoughts

Woke up to snow again. This means I have more time to spend with my thoughts in my home.
This ingenious row counter was made by my nephew (#7). He makes real chain mail (!!!) and lives on Saltspring Island with his dad, a carver http://www.inuastudio.com/index_files/page0004.htm, and his mom (my sister) a painter ,http://www.mountmaxwellcardco.com/ spinner and now poultry fancier. ETA She was mentioned on Lime & Violet when I sent them some crow cards!!
I bought it at the Twist of Fate fibre store in Kamloops. I could tell Erin wanted me to take advantage of some of her amazing sales. She has a very carefully chosen selection and great prices, but I couldn't be tempted.
It's that thing about stuff. There was a time when I couldn't leave a skein that was a great price. There would never be another opportunity to buy. But now I am worried that I won't be able to knit all my stash (it's really very moderate) or all the patterns I have gathered or earmarked.
Each skein of yarn in the clear, covered tubs in the basement pantry were accompanied by dreams and giddiness when they were bought. How can I recapture that personal hope?
I feel like the rat that pushes the button to get the jolt of endorphins. I used to be simple: candy, food, drink. Push the button. But mindfulness gets in the way (and pants that won't zip up).
Magazines have been my button sometimes. I still look at them in the grocery store check out, but they don't target my interests anymore.
Now I need a long walk or extended periods of knitting. Playing music usually helps, but I like to do that in an empty house (or when D is practicing his bagpipes).
Then there's you. I hit the blog button hoping for a treat. Did you post today? Can I see what you're knitting? How is your family, your pets. Please be the button that feeds me. Being locked to the computer is a bit pathetic and interferes with my own knitting time.
But I do enjoy the great pictures and the generous welcome that continues the story in your own words.
I think everything comes down to story telling. The narrative of life. The threads or yarns that intertwine us. I am lucky to have such a rich virtual neighborhood.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

i don't know

There has been lots of excitement at our house. Not enough to have pictures download upside down, but lots.
Two new iphones and a blackberry.

There has been much texting. Oh, and new glasses.

And even words spoken under breath when words do not text simply.
I still have my old dinosaur phone for a year. But I do, do, do like the iphone. I'm trying to convince D that he should have gotten a blackberry and I'll pick up the leftover iphone.

He has agreed to share the phancy camera. I'm not sure how long before I have improved images to share with you. But it gives me something to play with while the others are texting each other.

I have been invited to play my little drum with one of the local choirs in our Music Festival. Paula is a great choir director and I was in her Festival Chorus for a few years. It was a very tight squeeze with skating and soccer and D on call on Monday nights. I had to step down and tried flute instead. Now she has 3 choirs, one for ladies and the one I'm to join, an Intergenerational Choir. I'd like to sing with one, perhaps in the future.
But today I will practice an african song with them using my djembe. It is from Ivory Coast. I went to a workshop where we made our own of drums that had broken hides. We soaked the (very stinky) goat skins and stretched them and tightened them.
I was so excited that the rope is Kitchener stitch!!!!!
But the hides were from Africa (not enough goats in the Fraser Valley?!!) and were impregnated with the indigenous Anthrax. Yes, the same as the terrorist white powder! One of the ladies had something like flesh eating disease. Plus her skin was too small, so I laced it into my drum!! Health Canada said they would come by to incinerate my drum.
I was lucky that it was wet and stinky and set on a high shelf in the garage until it was ready to shave. I was frustrated that they didn't understand the concept of double bagging. I was so sad to lose my little drum.
But about 4 months later, the fellow who led the workshop sent out a replacement drum. So I didn't make this one, but it is the replacement for the one I made.

The back of Bristow was finished at Orchestra practice today and I cast on the sleeve. Frolick, frolick. But there won't be much knitting tonight because I can't knit at the concert. We're very excited about this youth orchestra, such an opportunity, but lots of work, too.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Not Just Sitting Still

I've been sitting and seaming. The afghan is now together in one spot and waiting for me to add the border. I'll probably pick up and knit seed stitch, if I can get the pick up tidy. I figure three stitches for four rows. It's very warm as I've discovered while working on it in our cold basement. D has been very busy lately: work and piping. I have been indulging in mysteries on DVD from our library. But I've been falling asleep rather earlier than is good for following the story.

This is an abacus bracelet. I was reminded of it when I was watching Madagascar 2 with the kids. The penguins just kill me. Their statistician just looks at the abacus and says "six weeks".

It's from this site: http://sutherland-studios.com.au/free/rowcounter.html. I used what I had in my modest bead box. I had to do the little elastic of beads twice. I hope it's small enough now and the glue holds.

Then I started playing. These are stitch markers for dummies. What does this marker mean?

And just for fun. One for me and one for Jean. Don't worry, she doesn't read this or any other blogs. I'll slip it to her during one of our great knitting sessions.

Oh, and look at the leaf bead. You know how it goes with the magpie in gear. This is me practising the most difficult of patterns: random. Let go. They're just beads. Go for the sparkly.

Now is the time for me to get to all those things I couldn't do while studying. I'd rather be working (I know, it's very strange for me, too). I hope my nephew will lend me his bass guitar. That's been a dream of mine since 2ooo. Plus I got a found a bunch of reels to play on the flute. I even walked with my nursing friend along the river, despite the early snow, we had a lovely time.

Real pussy willows along the Chilliwack River.

I'm off to walk the dog in the crisp sunshine again because the snow is coming. D says it won't stick, but it is disturbing. I want to garden, but can't trim my roses until the forsythia bloom. I won't even make up a flower pot for the front door until the warning is past.
Now I'll try to get a grip on the shaping of the back of my aubergine Bristow. Then I can frolick in the cables of the sleeves.