Saturday, April 15, 2006

Where Has All the Magic Gone?

We rented Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe this weekend. While some aspects of the movie adaptation left me cold, I am also thankful it wasn't butchered anywhere near as badly as Disney is normally wont to do with British literary classics. In any case, it elicited deep memories of the role the Narnia series of books played in my childhood and spiritual formation.

Narnia was my lifeline. When every part of my waking reality was banal and discouraging, when every message I received said "you are ugly and ordinary and there is nothing more to existence than suburban yards of dirty snow and the dry smell of defeat from the tailpipes of dusty beige cars," when the significant adults in my life told me that it was useless to dream and lofty aspirations were futile to the point of sin, when the churchly version of God confirmed my worst fears that I was forever condemned to apologizing for my existence - C. S. Lewis and Narnia gave me hope. Hope that my nameless longing had an object and an answer, hope that somewhere inside of my frizzy hair and bad skin were the seeds of Being - brave and true and beautiful.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Linen Joy

It took a little careful negotiating (considering I have four recently purchased summer projects on the go) but my DH has a smile on his face and I have a flouncy bohemian skirt's worth of Euroflax Linen winging its way towards me. Not that I couldn't have ordered it regardless (I do contribute rather substantially to the family income), but this is my most expensive yarn purchase yet, and my knitting karma improves dramatically when the DH is happy. I fell in love with the skirt the moment I set eyes on the pattern, and for the first time ever in my life, bought the exact high end fibre it was designed for and (disturbingly, since I like to think of myself as a creative free spirit) the exact colors in the picture.

As for the camisole, it's coming along nicely. A pieced project like this is rather satisfying to photograph in stages, much more so than a row by row account, anyway. I wasn't sure I'd like the way they've done the seams but the effect flows more smoothly than I thought (due in no small part to the number of times I redid them to obtain perfect alignment.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I made decent progress on the camisole yesterday, somewhat tempered by the realization that I used the wrong yarn to border the large crocheted squares and have to redo them (hence only one is showing in this photo.) I used to chide myself for stopping to admire my knitting, thinking that if I spent all that wasted time actually knitting instead of spreading it out to see how it looked with 4 more rows, I might finish a project now and then. Well, now I see that devoted knitters not only stop to admire their progress, they photograph it and post it to the Web. I sure hope this camisole looks as good on me as it did on the Vogue model. The only thing worse than a cherished project that looks awful when you try it on is one that is knit on a deadline to wear to a specific event - and only reveals its awfulness after the stores close on the day of the party. To up the ante a little, I used none of the recommended yarns (although I did choose appropriate gauges) and substituted fibres like bamboo and cotton/viscose for the wool. (Yes, I know better, but I still think it will work. The bamboo in particular is knitting up very nicely.)

On the topic of unfinished business, here is a sweater I designed for my daughter last summer, using patterns from Anna Zilboorg's Simply Socks. It is dizzyingly bright and busy, just like my daughter. I loved exploring the non-Western design theory that reverses pattern and ground and keeps the eye moving. I'm not happy with the collar, and still need to sew on buttons and weave in the ends but I justified putting it all off because it was substantially too big for Catrionagh and I couldn't stand to spend another minute with it. My mother loved it and immediately began hinting that she'd like a full sized version for Christmas - HA! The only thing I knit again with this pattern will be the Turkish socks it was meant to adorn.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Color Inspirations

Early spring / late winter is not the prettiest season on the prairies. Dirty ridges of leftover wind-drifted snow litter the muddy fields, and last year's stubble emerges sodden and disheveled, like a forgotten washer load. But, as warmth returns to the land and the season progresses just a little, intoxicating signs of hope appear. Today was such a day. I elected to run the airfield perimeter road because the creek trail was too muddy from last night's rain, so I had a fine view of the vast blue sky that Saskatchewan claims as it's finest feature. The stubble in the surrounding fields had dried to a lovely bleached hue of pale cream silk, and made a stunning contrast with the cornflower blue sky. Most definitely sweater colors - I wished I had a camera along, but since it's a military airfield, I'm not sure the MP's would accept my explanation that I was photographing stubble for a knitting blog. As my other running trails dry up, I will have to see about some pictures, although there's only so much stuff that's practical to haul along. I do get some of my best inspirations running.

As far as actual knitting goes, I did get a start on the first cabled panel for my camisole during the weekly coffee / play date with my friend and our daughters. This was my first time knitting over coffee - she's a non-knitter, so I wasn't sure if it was truly polite to do so myself. She elected to fold laundry, so it worked out, but I still felt awkward. I've always been a solitary knitter, and I have no knitting friends in town, so I'm not sure what proper etiquette is. Since I don't have the pattern memorized, I have to look down periodically, thus breaking eye contact - if the other party has no reason to look away themselves, it feels as though I'm not paying attention. Her 5 year old daughter was fascinated however, so perhaps I can make a convert there.

The irony of titling a photo-less post "color inspirations" has not escaped me - I'll do better next time, I promise.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Birthday madness

Catrionagh's 6th birthday went over very well and a good time was had by all. Best of all, since we hosted it (most uncharacteristically, since we never eat there) at the local fast food chain, we didn't have to buy new carpets or repaint our walls at the end. For the record, blue food coloring stains magnificently. I wonder how it compares to Kool-Aid? I made a knitting bag last year out of unspun undyed wool I picked up at Value Village 10 years previously - dyed it with blue Kool-Aid and felted it. The color was nice, but it smelled fruity for months.

Not a whole lot of knitting got done yesterday, but I did unwind by finishing the crocheted flower waistband to the soothing strains of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. This is wonderful knitting music - rhythmic acapella that just sweeps you away to a happier place. I first discovered this group when I spent 3 months in South Africa on a med school elective; oddly, the first time I saw them perform live was many years later in Victoria when we lived on Vancouver Island.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Knitting Bags

It was a glorious spring day yesterday - spring on the prairies is particularly intoxicating because the preceeding six months are so utterly dismal. I treated myself to a lovely 2 hour run along the tree lined creek (swamp) bottom paths of Connor park and the Trans Canada trail. Only the six inches of prairie gumbo glued (I'm not kidding) to the bottom of my runners kept me from skipping and dancing like a fool. I designed a couple of sweaters and a clutch purse on the way and arrived home brimming with happy energy.

Back to the bags - my daughter's 6th birthday party happens this afternoon, so I hit the dollar store yesterday to put together some goodie bags (I gather that is the protocol for birthday parties - I am SO green when it comes to the childhood social scene.) While there, I also purchased four attractive vinyl bags (meant, I think for gift bags, but exceptionally sturdy) - one for each of my summer knitting projects. Why is this so significant? Because it graphically demonstrates the level of maturity I have grown to in my lifelong battle with perfectionism. The old me would have felt that my projects deserved nothing less than the finest hand-quilted and embellished originally designed totes that reside in my head, waiting for my studio to be tidy enough to set up the sewing machine and lay out fabric. Consequently, the yarn would have languished in its shipping boxes, cluttering the top of my piano throughout the summer. Instead, the piano is uncluttered and my precious fibers are nestling harmoniously in their $1 bags - and not one skein has complained that their environs are demeaning.