Friday, October 26, 2007

Biting the Bullet

So, after a time of heavy debate, my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and fly back out to the Coast. My mum has expressed a desire to be alone in her grief, but we (my husband and I) think that closing ranks as a family and standing together is important. We're going anyhow, but staying at a sumptuous B&B in the city so as to be able to give her the solitude she needs.

This should be a no-brainer, right? Family sticks together. It just makes sense. However, when I called to let her know I was coming, the reaction was far less positive then hoped. We go prepared for anything; at the least, a nice couples holiday on the Coast. At best? Perhaps some healing.
Wish us luck and patience.

On the plus side, there's another pair of West-Jet socks in the offing. And the opportunity to spend DH's birthday together, which hasn't happened for some time... we've managed to find ourselves on opposite ends of the world for years now.

My wonderful hubby is actually pretty excited that my "gift" to him is spending 6.5 hours jammed together in a metal tube. Happy birthday, honey! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Yesterday was the Inspirations Needlecraft show. Although Kate and Kate were women on a mission and I was invited along, it was one of those rare days when DH and I didn't have the step-kids in attendance, and I wasn't going to let him out of my sight. Besides, he truly enjoys these shows.

So off we went. It was mid-day on the second day of the show before we got there, which meant things were a little picked over... however, there were still lovelies to spare. What a treat, having quilting, knitting, cross-stitch and sewing vendors all in the same room. I thought my head might implode from fiber overload.

I was good. I was very, very good. I didn't purchase a thing! However, DH, in his infinite wisdom and love, bought me two of the sweetest balls of yarn I will ever own. I don't know if I'll knit them or just fondle them. Yes, they're that good.

We were just about to leave the show, when his cell phone rang, with the news that I had been expecting and dreading for some time now. It was still a surprise, though, 'cause when I saw Dad on Monday he looked strong and like he might live for a long time yet.

Tonight I made good stout German comfort food for supper... a dish that our family has indulged in time and again, a variation of potatoes and dumplings. This is, in my family, traditionally served with cheesecake for dessert. Don't ask me how these things get started, but there it is. Of course, the step kids are a little mystified by the total lack of greenery on the plate, or the lack of variety... but I needed a way to feel closer to my mum and brother out there on the West Coast, and that dish did the trick.

I used a week of compassionate to visit last week. I can go out again, but at the cost of giving up my math course... I am allowed two absences before I am given the boot, and I used them last week. The course is run again in January, but then when I apply for university in the spring it will necessarily be a conditional acceptance, as I will still be finishing the course during the consideration process. I already feel a little behind the eight-ball for missing the two classes last week, especially with mid-terms coming up this week.

Last night I cast on for Millicent, and royally screwed up the first round of lace for the cuff. I'll have to rip back at least a row to the ribbing and try to figure what went wrong.

The Plain Wintery Socks are finished. I think I will re-name them "West-Jet Socks" as I know now that I can finish a single sock in the time it takes me to fly to Vancouver and back. The woman in the seat across the aisle from me was watching in amusement as I scrambled to finish the toe (save for grafting) before the wheels touched the runway back home.

I will also wear them and think of daddy... he held and admired them last week before jokingly asking me if I'd make a pair for him. (Joking 'cause he had no need for a pair; he lost a foot... well, leg, to the complications of diabetes some time ago.)

I'm sorry. I'm not fit company tonight. Thanks for listening, though.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Still Thankful

I have reason to be thankful for many things, this week after Thanksgiving. I flew out to Vancouver Island to be with my family as my father was placed in a hospice, and I have seen some of the best of human nature this week.

I am thankful for the kindness of strangers, and volunteers... people who selflessly give of their time to make someone else's life just a little bit smoother. The hospice workers, always ready with a cup of tea and a kind word, ease some small sting. Dad is surrounded by family and friends, but I can imagine their worth to those who face this journey without such support.

Dad worked before his illness in this same hospital as a shift engineer. He touched many people through the years with his good nature, crazy humour and his willingness to work, and now all those chickens are coming home to roost. The nurses who he once helped look out for him, and even moved him to a private room yesterday. Kindnesses to others never go unanswered, whether in this world of the next.

I am grateful as well for that same sense of humour. It has not deserted him, and he is still funny and irreverant about everything, including his own death. With the constant laughter, we are by far the loudest room on the ward, and I bet we make everyone wonder what's going on. When he is so joyful and accepting of his choice, how can we who love him best do otherwise?

Sunday, October 7, 2007


DH took his eldest daughter to the hockey game last night, which left me alone with the youngest and her "play date." Seriously. That's the term the "date's" mother used when she called to ask if her daughter could come over. I'm not sure how to take the phrase but I do know when I went over to one of my little friend's houses to play, it wasn't a "play date." That's like calling a garbage-man a sanitation engineer... tarting up something with words. Calling me up and asking if her daughter and mine could run like a pack of wolves in the basement is much closer to the truth.

So we did a little build-it-yourself pizza for dinner, and while they were downstairs, doing whatever it is that little girls do without direct parental supervision, I was upstairs, utterly indulging. I had a glass of Bailey's, a bowl of popcorn (what? That's a balanced dinner, isn't it?), the entire first season of The Tudors (Long live Henry VIII!) and just a little wool. This is what I built.

Kauni cardigan with colourwork

A pretty, pretty swatch for the Kauni cardigan. My first experiment in colourwork, and it's obvious by the puckering that I need to learn not to carry my stranding so tightly. Also, I didn't get gauge, so I tried again (after RTFM'ing and discovering gauge was with plain knit, not the colourwork.) (RTFM= read the friggin' manual) I moved up to a 3.75mm needle from the 3.5mm and got perfect stitch gauge. Not overly concerned about row gauge, as it will be on circs and I can try as I go.

Kauni Cardigan swatch with gauge

Does it show that I am just a little bored with Wintery Socks and alpaca scarf and am looking for a little something something special in my knitting life?!

I am so going to have to develop a knitter's callus on my throwing finger. The Kauni yarn is pretty darned scratchy after a while. (A fatal flaw for a knitted undergarment, but something I am prepared to live with for a cardigan.)

This will be one hell of a long, but amusing, project.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Friend, the Harlot

Dear Harlot;

There's something that's been bothering me for the last few days.

It all started with Ravelry. I entered a few projects, photographed some yarn, and had fun with the site. The trouble started when I went to the "friends" tab. You know how it shows you pictures of people who did the same projects as you, and suggests that you might be friends? Well, having cooked up a couple of socks from your Basic Sock Recipe, I saw, amongst the other happy sock knitters, a small black and white photo of you. I didn't even think twice. I added you as my friend.

I immediately had second thoughts. Let's face it... you don't know me. We're not even in the same city. You could ride past me on your bike and not know me from any other muggle. Sure, we met at a book signing, but you've met a significant portion of the knitter population in this country and the next, and I don't flatter myself that you'd remember my face out of the thousands. Considering those facts, adding you as my friend on Ravelry seems a little... presumptuous. Possibly even stalker-esque. Or just plain juvenile.... like the people who just add everyone to their "friends" list on Facebook, thinking that might make them seem loved and popular.

I wondered what you'd think when you got that notification that you'd been added as my friend. "Who the hell...?" you'd think, then probably shrug it off. I suspect I'm not the only one, but all the same, I was uncomfortable with you thinking that I presumed friendship. I very nearly removed you from my friends list.

Then I thought a little about it all. And here's how I see it now.

I make time in my busy life for you almost every day. I can't wait to hear what you, your family and the squirrels are up to. Your stories have made me laugh, made me cry, made me mad, and made me act. "Knitting Rules" is a constant companion, and from it I draw the courage to be the boss of my own knitting, the technical know-how to make what I want to make, and no end of amusement. Even my family knows you... the household activities come to a screeching halt when you were on CBC TV and I am forever stopping someone to read aloud a choice excerpt from a book or blog entry.

Though I think my husband sometimes regrets that you hang around the house so much. One night as we sat in a darkened theater together, I muttered and cursed over the fact that there simply wasn't enough light to knit by. "But the Harlot knits in theaters!" I exclaimed, frustrated. "If the Harlot went to movies naked, would you do that, too?" my husband growled, exasperated with this whole knitting obsession.

I'd have to give it some thought.

I think "friend" actually is the wrong word for it. I think "role model" might be a better fit. I know you're probably surprised at that, but there it is. You make being an "ordinary" mother, wife and knitter look pretty damned good. The humour through which you see the world, the patience you exemplify towards your family (and sometimes even your knitting), the way you're not afraid to stand up and do something to right a wrong. Even the fact that your hard labour with needles and yarn sometimes turns out looking like ass is terribly, terribly endearing. You are a quiet heroine for the everyday woman.

Steph... can I call you Steph?... Please don't think I'm stalking you 'cause I added you as friend. It's just sometimes, you're more helpful then the in-the-flesh people around me. And let's not forget, you are personally to blame for the fact that I am now obsessed with string and pointy sticks. You must be held accountable for that; it alone earns you the epithet "friend."


your admirer,


PS. See what you made me do?

Plain Wintery Sock

Plain Wintery Socks, Basic Sock Recipe (Knitting Rules), Austermann Step yarn. One to go.

PSS: Can you spot the difference?

Can You Spot the Difference?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's Just My OCD Talking...

So I was sitting outside at lunch, working on the alpaca scarf, thinking about binary code and how it can be turned into knitting (ASCII.) A knit to represent 1, a purl for 0... you could turn any text into knitting. 8 characters per letter... 110 0001 for a small-caps "a"... two knits, four purls, a knit. Some multiple of eight for the row count. It would be the ultimate scarf to be stuck on a desert island with... or to accessorize a well-dressed spy.

I was thinking of a scarf made from the Qur'an, with a lovely little lacy inset, as similar as possible to Arabic calligraphy as possible, to give the pause for the Bismillah's at the beginning of every chapter. Since each chapter in the book is arranged from longest to shortest, the lace would be closer and closer as the scarf progressed... I can see it in my mind and it's rather lovely.

So. There, in one short post, you get to feel the impact that taking philosophy and math courses at the same time are having on my mind when combined with the knitting bug. Freaky stuff.

Picture Perfect

To distract you from the lack of new knitting or quilting progress pictures, I bring you PhotoBlog Tuesday.

This is the Apple Pie "Fan and Feather" scarf I made for my mom, Linda. It's been done for some time now but needed blocking. Here it is on the wires:


Fan and Feather Scarf

Feather and Fan Scarf (Detail)

Fan and Feather Scarf (detail)

Blocking is such a minor miracle. It turns "nice" into "wow!" Wish I could find me something to do that to other areas in life! :)

A kitchen "wow!"... Home-made pad thai. I've never made it before this week, but have now made it twice because it's so delicious and fun to make. Everyone loves it, too, which is the larger surprise. (My wok can only handle two servings at once, so I make a batch of comparatively bland pad thai for the girls, and a more zippy one for DH and I.


To finish off, two pretty leaves I came across on Sunday. My husband's brother has some property out in Lanark, and we went out there to take the air. What a perfect day. We even found a little fibre festival at Almonte, and finished our trip by admiring some quilts and alpaca fur from Victory Alpaca Farm. Nice man, nice yarn.

Lovely weekend.

Autumn leaves