Friday, June 02, 2006


I was born by the sea, with the fragrant rocky hills of Provence at my back, so I will never be properly home on the flatlands. Nevertheless, two years in Saskatchewan has taught me a new appreciation for sky. I never felt this in Calgary, perhaps because I was too absorbed in misery to notice, but more likely because I was not yet a runner.

Running on the flat prairie with nothing between me and the infinite blue, the ground seems to melt away and it feels like flying. Whole weather systems form and travel and change their minds before my eyes. Most entertaining are the smotheringly hot days of summer, when the cumulonimbus gather slowly into towering green monsters and I do the sensible thing and get to the car just as the first fat drops sizzle on the hood.

Bear in mind, I only have these atmospheric epiphanies in the summer - in winter I mostly tuck my chin down and think "Dear God, what I wouldn't give for a terrain feature to block this freaking wind." Then I go inside to go nowhere on the treadmill and watch The View, trying not to laugh at the funny bits, because apparently it is considered gauche and just a little freaky to giggle to oneself on the treadmill. Especially at daytime television.

Remember the summer top I was knitting for my DD? At her request, it morphed into a skirt. With a purple waistband:
I am very pleased with the casing, which is just awaiting elastic now (either buried in the debris of my studio, or in another of the mysterious "miscellanous" basement boxes). I unvented (Elizabeth Zimmerman's term for discoveries that you are pretty sure can't be brand new, but you made them yourself, nonetheless) the technique:

What I did: Purled one round to make the folded edge, then knitted a few more rounds until the casing looked wide enough. Then, slip the next stitch onto the right needle, pick up a purl loop in the appropriate round with the right needle, slip the left needle into the two from left to right (exactly like an SSK) and knit them together. Then I slipped the previous stitch over the one just knitted to bind it off. This made a very tidy seam / bound off edge. I left the last few stitches unattached, to leave room to insert the elastic, particularly since I imagine I may have to readjust it as she grows.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Warning: introspection ahead. To go directly to fibre, scroll down to the start of the photos.

Still here? Today's brilliant insight: It's slowly dawning on me that I may not have a tremendous lot of success figuring out what to do next with my life until I understand and accept (I've managed to avoid that one for 38 years) who I am.

My original, unshakable career goal ran something along the lines of: go to medical school, head off to a third world country and save it from war, poverty and disease, die young (and gloriously). This was based on two (possibly unsound) premises: Firstly, that being fundamentally unworthy, only a really BIG achievement could justify my existence, and secondly, that I was going to be alone forever. (Number 2 seemed logical, having spent my teen years at the rock bottom of the social pecking order, possibly due to my utter inability to integrate into mainstream WASP culture after being an "ex-pat" Canadian from birth to age 12.)

It's just a little disconcerting to contemplate the possibility that my Shining Destiny was actually the product of low self-esteem, poor social skills and a not so subtle death wish.

The Big Goal did serve a purpose, though - like a giant booster rocket, it overcame the sucking gravity of despair, blazed through cloying layers of depression and social phobia, and (perhaps most usefully) scattered the insecure bullying men which my upbringing predisposed me to choose.

Along the way (and to my everlasting astonishment) I acquired a happy, healthy marriage and two beautiful children (so much for eternal loneliness). I made it to "doctor", but never quite managed saving the world. And now I'm adrift - the rockets are spluttering out, their job complete - and for the first time in my life I have no idea where I'm going.

Enough of that.

This (the little steek vest) is several rows into the armhole shaping and zipping along at an almost indecently speedy pace. I've snuck in a few extra rounds here and there for length insurance, since I have a long torso, but have otherwise followed the pattern exactly. And since I'm up to the armholes and have half the yarn left, I'm going to tempt fate and stop worrying that the extras will cause me to run out before I'm done.

Clearly I did not worry enough when ordering yarn for the tunic (what earthly good is Generalized Anxiety if you still run out of yarn?), but I am counting on this to save me:
I have only a vague (but brilliantly artistic) notion of how it is going to go. Which may change radically once I get started. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I am blanketed of late with an uncomfortable restlessness, as though my psyche were an ill conceived beginner's sweater of cheap itchy wool, one armhole far too tight, the sleeves different lengths, and the seams all bunchy and ill-matched. I suppose there is some cyclical hormonal overlay at the moment (how humbling these little neurochemicals are in their ability to ride roughshod over what I like to call Myself) but the trend is undeniable.

I have been slowly leaving my Chosen Profession for years now and this business of keeping one toe in it for guilt and practicality's sake is increasingly feeling like a ludicrous sham. It's like when you run down a battery - and if you leave it sit for a while you can get a few more minutes life out of it, and you can do that a bunch of times, for increasingly shorter bits of life, until finally it's well and truly dead. After the initial burnout, I tried to convince myself that time off and part-time hours were recharging the battery - but in fact, I think I've just been draining off that final bit of juice at intervals for the last six years - and it's clearly almost gone.

What I want to do is not so hard to ascertain, what I ought to do is much more difficult, and what is financially practical to do - there's the rub. The Chosen Profession, soul-destroying though it has become, is very financially practical.

Back to fibre:

My discontent has extended to the knitting - the cute little top from VK: is not working out, due in approximately equal parts to the yarn substitutions I made and the fact that when all is said and done I just don't like the design as much as I thought I would. For one thing, the top panel is clearly not going to work at all in the yarn I chose, and for another the whole thing is a bit lumpy and cumbersome and probably looks much better in 2D on a lingerie clad model standing perfectly still with her chest jutting out unnaturally than it ever will on me in real life. I still like the concept of a lacy camisole in a variety of hues and weights of white / natural / cream yarn - it's just that I now think I Can Design a Better One Myself. We shall see - in the meantime, I have lived in this skin long enough to know that a hormonally heightened state of restlessness with an approaching deadline is not the time to embark upon a design adventure.

So, (hopefully) to the rescue, is this:

It's the little steek vest from Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham, and I have substituted Jaeger Celeste: since I couldn't track down the recommended yarn. I achieved row and stitch gauge in the swatch, and I am fervently hoping this will work. I love love love the designs in this book, but I've recently been a little put off by the difficulties encountered by some other knit bloggers attempting to knit from another adventurous designer's new book - hopefully Durham has done the necessary test knitting. I'm going to be doing a lot of knitting from this book regardless, but I'm just not in the mood for glitches right now.

Speaking of glitches, it turns out I'm a couple of balls short of a sleeve for the tunic (and I like to think I'm a math whiz - arrgh) and Gedifra Korfu seems to have disappeared from the planet. Not to worry, I have a Cunning Plan, for which I have already ordered the yarn. More on that another day.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Before and After

I pulled out my trusty sewing machine again yesterday, and remade this:
I ask you, how many men could buy their 7 months pregnant wife a cow suit and live to procreate again? In fact, it was from our favorite ice cream store in Whistler, and a very nice cotton flannel, although I only wore it a couple of times. The problem was that in order to go pee, which I was doing approximately 487 times a night at that stage, I had to unbutton the thing to the waist, wiggle out of the top, and drop the whole business to my ankles. Not only was this time consuming, but we were living at that time in an extraordinarily drafty little cottage - so it was cold, too.

Romantic that I am, I thought it would be a lovely sort of continuity to turn it into a flannel nightgown for my DD. In the end it was, but not before she had half tried it on, pronounced the sleeves a fraction too long, demanded that I remake the whole thing, tried to slam my sewing machine shut when I refused, spent a long time-out in her room for that, followed by a serious Dad chat, a heartbreakingly sincere apology and a lovely long hug. She's now been wearing it for the last 24 hours and has declared her inviolable intent never to remove it. Which should make for some high drama come Monday morning. I'm sure she was sent to teach me something - many days though, I just feel utterly inadequate to the task.

Here for posterity, is the remodelling process:

In other news, the first sock is finished, and fits perfectly:

My DH was astounded (first time ever my knitting has had that effect on him) by the alchemy of seamlessly producing a perfectly fitted sock. It would appear the next pair will be his.