Saturday, July 08, 2006

Forty-one: Sky Sampling

The Saturday sky idea got me thinking. Here's our sky - we've had a lovely heat wave going for over a week now.

A vertical section of it, pixelated with the photoeditor:

A (somewhat simple and hasty) FairIsle pattern using colors sampled from the pixelated photo:

I find this to be very useful in helping me to truly "see" the colors which make up a natural object or phenomenon. Just look at the multitude of hues present in a basic "blue" sky.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Forty-two: The Answer to Life the Universe and Everything

Don't you wish it were that simple? Perhaps not. I've always liked the number forty-two, being such a fan of Douglas Adams.

Yesterday was reasonably productive, from a delving and decluttering standpoint. A few highlights:


We love books. Reading and owning a sizeable book collection has always been an important part of our identity, yet the impending requirement to downsize our possessions cannot, practically speaking, exclude the books.

Our initial estimate was that we could manage to take along enough to fill six of these smallish shelves:

Note what already takes up one sixth of our can't-live-without-'em space.

I have been forced to give careful thought to what actually makes it so important to me to own all these books - or any given book, for that matter.

  1. Buying (when you can) rather than borrowing is something of a financial courtesy to the author, which in turn makes it more likely that good books will continue to be published.
  2. Being surrounded by books makes me feel rich in ideas and wisdom and vicariously shared experiences. I love bookstores in very much the same way as yarn or fabric stores - for the sense of potential and possibility contained on those overflowing shelves. It is hard to imagine giving up either stash.
  3. I identify myself as "the sort of person who is surrounded by books." This one bears careful examination, because it is perilously close to being attached to an object for the sake of status. A large and eclectic collection of great books creates an aura of knowledge and sophistication - "well-read" is an undeniably admirable quality. Would it say anything different about me if I no longer owned all those books I've read?
  4. I want my children to grow up with books, to experience the delight of raiding the bookshelf on a rainy afternoon and discovering all those wonderful stories that I wish I could read again for the first time. It is also a way of passing on part of myself - because so much of how I see the world is influenced by the books I have read - my children can dip into that same well of story and idea and take away bits to become part of their own selves.

I think, in the end, there will be more than six shelves. But we have decided that what we can't keep, we will take to Whistler and donate to the local library which, last I checked, was woefully understocked. Not only will they then be shared, but they also won't feel so far away.


I also dug up more yarn (big surprise.) This is Baghdad Blue from Peace Fleece:

Is it just me, or is this considerably more purple than blue? It was the first time I've been really stunned by the difference between the webstore's photo and the real life color. I'm not exactly complaining, because it's a beautiful color, scrumptious wool, and a company with a great cause, but I thought it might be worth a mention in case anyone reading plans to order it. Personally, I chose to see it as an opportunity to break away from my blue rut.

Here's the handpainted skeins in "heavenly blues" I bought to coordinate:

Also leaning strongly to purple.

Finally, a shamefully UFO (I think it stalled about 2 years ago):

This is from Alice Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters (worth having as eye candy even if you never knit a single thing from it). I made it a little ways into the armhole steeks when I began to have a sinking sensation about the quantity of yarn left.
This is a loose fitting sweater with long sleeves - am I really going to get the remainder of the bodice as well as two sleeves out of the yarn pictured here? I was not nearly so confident a knitter when I bought the supplies and basically put blind faith in the yardage calculations done by the woman at the LYS in Winnipeg. My gauge is on, or if anything, a little small (which is fine, since I am slender) and I am in a real quandry. It is a spectacular design, which I would love to finish, and a great learning experience in traditional gansey construction - just look at the way the pattern flows into the underarm gusset: It is also very labor intensive and I don't want to plug along blindly and wind up short a sleeve's worth. The navy yarn is Paton's Country Gardens DK (which does not appear to exist anymore) and the red and oatmeal are a King Cole merino superwash, which does, although I'm sure the original dyelots are long gone. What odds the King Cole navy would match this one if I were to run out? I guess there's only one way to find out.

Learning point here: make sure you have plenty of yardage when you substitute AND beware leaving a UFO so long that its yarn is discontinued.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Forty-three or You Can't Keep a Good Imagination Down

The descending numerical titles were starting to seem a little tedious - all the same, I can't resist the morbid fascination of watching time run out.

An alternate title would be "Avoidance is a Force to be Reckoned With" because yesterday at 5 pm when the last patient had left and I was staring morosely at the enormous stack of insurance forms and prescription refills on my desk, it came to me.

All at once, I knew exactly how the black silk dress was going to look. Bear with me, it looks a whole lot better inside my brain. (I wonder if you can take correspondence courses in fashion drawing.) I knew I wanted strong vertical lines skimming the body and accentuating (and in certain places creating the illusion of...) the curves. I had been mulling over a number of not-quite-right ideas, and then it hit me: cables.

I have been enamoured with cables for some time - I like to think it's a sort of primal connectedness with the knotwork of my Scottish / Viking heritage. An instance of "collective memory," perhaps. Also, cables and lattices have that whole sexy, curvy, semi-botanical, twining business going on.

Then, because I was still not ready to face The Stack, I went for a little cruise in blog land. And discovered that my cable brainwave is, in fact, up-to-the-minute trendy. This happens rather frequently to my brainwaves, and I find it spooky and mildly disturbing, because as much as I would like to believe that I am blessed with hipness and finely honed fashion instincts, it is far more likely that I have merely been ensnared by sneaky subliminal suggestion. So much for my noble efforts to avoid mass media manipulation by getting rid of cable TV.

However, my design will most assuredly not feature giant crystal-studded puffy sleeves, nor will it look like it had an accident with a chainsaw (not on purpose, anyway). So perhaps I am My Own Woman, after all. (This, and this I thought were very cool designs, though.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


days until we go. All of our multitudinous moves have been stressful, but there is something about this one that is so much more... final. And positive - we are looking forward enormously to living in Whistler full time. The thing is, it has to be done right this time - the condo we're moving to simply doesn't have the physical floorspace to hold boxes and boxes of didn't-quite-get-to-it crap. At some point in the near future, the house also has to stop looking like a Goodwill sorting station long enough to entice someone to buy it. Some days it all seems doable, and other days the anxiety rises like a wave and I have to curl up in a corner and knit to myself. The BBS, in particular works well - it is just the perfect combination of color and softness and simplicity to be very very soothing.

Creative knitting - aka original design - is rapidly grinding to a halt - anxiety is the mother of distraction, which tends to generate a lot of frogging and frustration.

Consequently, I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with this, which arrived yesterday:
Black silk noil in DK weight, 1100 gms (around 3000 yds) of it from knitknackers on ebay (and a most excellent price, at that).
It was/is supposed to be a sexy little dress for a formal dinner next month. Just as soon as I finalize my brilliant original design. Since a dress is so much longer than a sweater, the physics of drape and elasticity have to be carefully plotted so as not to wind up with a saggy baggy mess. Also, I haven't worked with silk noil before, at least not in this weight. I'm not sure I have the mental agility for the challenge right at the moment.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


days until we leave for Whistler. Happy 4th of July to our friends south of the border!

The BBS is back in action - right front was done, and I finished up the back after work yesterday.

At this point, I elected to try my first three needle bind-off for the sloped shoulder seam. Sewing together two bound-off, stepped shoulders inevitably produces a distressingly irregular and lumpy join - the three needle bind-off is easy, and produces a smooth, elegant, and sturdy seam. (I still don't fully understand why published patterns rarely include optimal finishing techniques - fear of intimidating the novice?)

A little close-up: See how cunningly the wrong side of the front is knitted to the right side of the back?

Perhaps sneaking a couple of minutes of knitting in the upstairs bathroom while admonishing the DD not to dissolve an entire bar of soap in the bath and splash it in her brother's eyes was not the way to go.

It did produce a fascinating (one might even say magical) mobius effect:

On the bright side, thanks to the miracle of super bulky knits, there's only 12 stitches to undo.

Monday, July 03, 2006


days left. I'm posting from the office today, so no photos - sorry.

09:52 - my 9:45 patient just called to say she's "stuck in traffic". Honestly - this is Moose Jaw - there's all of 2 cars on Main Street at the moment.

10:45 - after that late start, there was some unexpected counselling and a very anxious patient who wants answers that the test results have not clarified - now running 30 minutes behind. Sigh.

11:10 - a couple of no-shows and we're back on time. It's an awfully nice day out there - I think folks just decide they don't feel that bad after all. Calling to cancel would be a nice touch, though.

So, about that burning creative urge I dropped everything to pursue - it didn't exactly work out. I decided after approximately 20 rows of intensive cabling that I really wished I had incorporated an integrated I-cord cast on and edges. Knit first, think later - that sort of thing. I spent another 15 rows or so of intensive cabling trying to convince myself that I could set aside perfectionism and love it the way it was, knowing full well I couldn't. Finally, I faced facts and bound off - it is now a large, undifferentiated swatch. Sometimes spontaneity is serendipitous and sometimes it's merely swatchful. (I think that's how afghans get started.) The original idea is still on, but with a little more forethought and planning next time around.
Next up for the afternoon: hypertension, hemmorhoids and a looming battle with WCB. Oh the glamour.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


days to go. Just a little teaser today:
You know how sometimes an idea springs into your head fully formed and is so insistently cool that you simply must stop everything else and make it happen? Regular work on the BBS will resume shortly.