Saturday, July 15, 2006

Thirty-four: Saturday Stuff

Saturday sky: Another scorcher in the works today.


Colour play: I decided to make this a regular Saturday project, as a way of really seeing the things around me. This week: hollyhocks from our front yard. (The picture was taken last week since Wednesday night's storm pretty much flattened them.)

Pixelated with the photoeditor:

Sampled colors converted to FairIsle:

Friday, July 14, 2006


days until we move to Whistler. I spent much of yesterday doing laundry, culling my closet, and clearing out the ensuite bathroom. Another resolution: No more cosmetic impulse buys, particularly lipstick. There are approximately 2 shades of pink that flatter my pale complexion; everything else makes me look either like a harlot (not the good kind) or an escapee from the Night of the Living Dead who actually believed the fashion mag's assertion that "everyone can wear coral".

Typically, I make these purchases when stopping in at the pharmacy on my way home from work in order to buy pantyhose for a function that evening. I will have just looked at my tired work face and my boring work hair under the garish fluorescent in the tiny office bathroom and decided that if I am going to feel good about myself tonight, it's Time For a Change. Because I am fretful about communicable disease, I do not try the sampler, but simply pick a shade which looks pretty. In the tube that is, or possibly on the poreless model hovering in cardboard glory over the display.

Once home, I invariably apply the lipstick last, at the point at which we have exactly 12 seconds to get out the door and still make it on time. I inspect my reflection with horror, scrub it off, fret about how the scrubbing process has made the area around my mouth look flushed and blotchy, apply my regular lipstick, race downstairs and pepper my harried husband with queries about the adequacy of my appearance.

But it doesn't end there. The tube of lipstick can not, of course, be returned or passed on. I can not throw it away because it is still Perfectly Good and Brand New. So it sits at the bottom of the cosmetic stash for a year or two, until it is old enough to have plausibly grown germs, at which point I can finally discard it in good conscience, because it has become a Safety Issue.

Since laundry and old lipstick are not especially photogenic, here's a peek at yesterday's other project:

Another crocheted silver piece, with some scrumptious Sleeping Beauty turquoise. I'll post proper pictures when it's all done.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


It's a gloomy morning here - the headlines on the Internet news service today announced an East Coast Cormorant crash. Three dead, four hurt. The all too familiar clenching sensation in the gut - no names yet, which of our friends? Too many dead friends, particularly for my husband's part. While leaving the military will not exempt us from further losses, I will be very happy to receive no more late night calls from the squadron, taking far too long to tell me that my husband is alive. I know all of life is uncertain, but a career of risk and sacrifice gets old after a while, for the family as well as the soldier.

So, being in an introspective, stock-taking mood, I did something entirely foreign to my overanalyzing, reluctant-to-hop-on bandwagons psyche. No idea where this originally originated - I found it at Knitting in the North. The idea is to bold the things you have done.

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said 'I love you' and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby's diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 10 provinces
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer then you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your cds
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror.
96. Raised children.
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an illness that you shouldn't have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone's heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language 139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146: Dyed your hair
147: Been a DJ
148: Shaved your head
149: Caused a car accident
150: Saved someone's life

Of course, the whole time I was doing it, I wanted to argue with the list as being an arbitrary and culturally biased definition of a broad and complete life. It is a testament to hard won maturity and self-control that I did not cover it in addendums and explanations (such as: my family went to Venice when I was five, and we walked all day to the point of exhaustion because we got lost and couldn't find the car, but being on a strict budget, my parents did not spring for a gondola ride, thus depriving me of that particular life milestone.)

You see why I don't often do these.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I thought it was about time for a BBS progress shot: One of the happy surprises about this pattern is that despite its big, cozy, and informal impression, it is also very nicely fitted - much more than I expected from a bulky knit. So nicely, in fact, that I am considering creating some sort of handcrafted clasp system down the front. (I might give nickel silver a try, as it is non-tarnishing and inexpensive. I've only worked with sterling to date, which I don't want to sew on a wool sweater because of the tarnish issue.)

The other thing about this more-fitted-than-you-might-expect sweater is that it would be prudent to pick a size that matches your hips if, like me, your hips are significantly bigger around than your bust. The sizing in the pattern lists bust sizes only, and since the shaping is straight up and down (albeit with some clever use of differently elastic stitch patterns) and hangs well over the hips, you really need to choose your largest body circumference, whatever that might be.

Converting the sleeves to round knitting (love the Addis for magic looping) was not difficult and I am very pleased with the smooth set-in sleeve seam that resulted from doing away with all the other seams.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thirty-eight: Memories

First, in answer to Charity's comment about the dream - the stress is certainly making me a tich hyper, but I have to admit, my mind really is that busy. I am fascinated by a whole lot of very different things, which either makes me some sort of Renaissance woman, or else just someone who lacks focus. I remember when I was interviewing for a residency postion in Halifax, the professor conducting the interview was delighted when I exclaimed over the sculpture in his office. Bonus points for being a medical student with "outside interests." Then I was foolish enough to let slip how had I seriously considered degrees / careers in math, quantum physics, performance piano, philosophy and linguistics. All true, but it was quickly obvious he thought it was merely a clumsy and disingenuous attempt to impress him. Needless to say, I didn't get that position, and have been very cautious about discussing my diverse interests since.


Here is a bit of yarn with some personal history:
During my last year of medical school, I chose to do a surgery / obstetrics elective in South Africa. I spent three months based in the east coastal city of East London, and got out and about wherever and whenever I could. One day I discovered an ad for a local hiking club tacked to the hospital bulletin board and phoned them up. Turned out they were embarking on a three day weekend trip to the Drakensberg mountains and had room for another hiker. I packed my bags, they picked me up at the appointed street corner and off we went. Of course, I would have a fit (not to mention a nervous breakdown) if my daughter ever did such a thing, but I exercised good judgement and it all turned out just fine. It was a splendid weekend, including the ascent of one good sized mountain accessible by a full day's hike and a bit of rock scrambling at the top. Near the farm house where we were staying was a sheep farm that was selling natural handspun wool. I haven't the faintest recollection what kind of sheep they were, but the wool was soft and interesting and nicely priced, especially given the highly skewed exchange rate at the time.

What I should have done was to save it for a single fantastically worthy project that would remind me of that wonderful weekend forever. Instead, bits of it got incorporated into a number of ill-fated projects, some of which (like the half knitted child's sweater already far too small for either of my children) it can be recovered from and some of which it can't.

It has a thick and thin texture, which I'm sure has a technical name that I would know if I were a spinner. (I actually have a spindle and some roving, and just have to find time to sit down and try to follow the printed instructions. I've been delaying heading down that path just yet, as spinning appears to be highly addictive and I have quite enough on the go at the moment.) I think I'd like to make some sort of sweater for myself from it, but obviously there is not nearly enough left, so off to the stash it goes to await the perfect companion yarn and the perfect design idea. (Yes, the high occurence rate of the word "perfect" does indicate a personality trait.) I thought hiking socks might perhaps be appropriate, but I'd like something with an indefinite lifespan, which socks definitely do not have.

Here's some (probably very old) mohair from the bargain bin of my LYS:
It is 70% mohair, 10% wool, and a little acrylic and nylon making up the remainder. Sadly, I did not notice until I got home that the ends of many of the balls are significantly faded - as though it had sat in a sunny window for months at some point. I'm thinking it should be dyeable - maybe a dark navy. I have no experience dyeing (actually that's not entirely true - I Kool-Aid dyed a felted bag once, but couldn't bear the fruity smell that lasted well over a year.) I'll have to do some research before I leap into that one.
The local knitting culture (what there is of it) leans strongly toward thrifty and easy care: the Moose Jaw Exhibition knitting entries were very sparse and consisted virtually entirely of acrylic afghans and baby layettes. (I think the prairies tend more to quilting than knitting, which seems odd to me, considering how cold it gets in winter.) Consequently, what little wool the LYS has carried over the years has languished, and their back room has shelves of wool dating back (I suspect) to the 60's.

Crochet wool:I had never heard of such a thing. It has a sort of hard tightly twisted feel to it (not unlike crochet cotton) - I'm thinking socks for this stuff.


One for the "what was I thinking?" section:

White Buffalo, very historically Canadian, and recently discontinued. (I grew up economically challenged, and to this day have a terrible time resisting the siren call of discontinued! discounted! ugly but it's on sale!) I was in a felted bags phase when I ordered this from Yarn Forward last year. It does indeed felt readily, but is not at all easy to knit, and any tension on the yarn (eg. small children yanking on it, tripping over it etc.) causes it to immediately pull apart. I found it a huge pain to work with, much more difficult than Lopi. Also, I can not believe I ordered the "bleached puke" shade on the bottom. Definitely an experimental dye project in waiting.

Monday, July 10, 2006


days until we move to Whistler. Resisting the urge now to curl up in the fetal position and whimper about how there's barely a month left and the kids are undoing my sorting and tidying almost as fast as I can do it. Of course, it takes a lot less time to unsort and unclean than the reverse.

I ought to download all those interesting yarn shots I took just before the computer crashed yesterday, but it's the end of a long office day and I'm fried, so I'm going to be the ultimate geek and relate the dreams which my Beloved and I had last night.

I clearly immersed myself very successfully in Chaos over the last few days, (which is depressingly apropos for our family) because I spent much of the night trying to devise a way to graph my 6 year old daughter's behaviour, certain that I could generate a strange attractor diagram and form some sort of unifying theory about her behaviour. I suspect the truth will turn out to be that a butterfly flapping its wings on the other side of the world is the cause of her latest meltdown.

My husband, Mr. Tough Guy Fighter Pilot, dreamt he was posted to Iceland. Glancing out his office window, he saw a transport plane go down in flames and on his way to render assistance, was temporarily diverted by the latest issue of Martha Stewart magazine. Oddly though, it looked like it had been hastily assembled in rough draft format, and he realized with horror that the plane had in fact been carrying the entire editorial staff of the magazine. (Yes, we subscribe, but he umm.... only looks at the recipes. Honest.)

Tomorrow I'll get back to yarn. Assuming, that is, that the giant swirling formation of cumulonimbus presently over our house doesn't send us running for the basement and take care of this decluttering business in one fell swoop. Gotta love life on the prairies.

PS - apologies to all Bloglines subscribers - I messed up somehow just now, and it appears that yesterday's post is going to publish all over again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


days and forty nights until we move to Whistler. This will be exceptionally brief, because it is past everyone's bedtime here. I just couldn't skip over day forty, though - such an auspicious, biblical sort of time frame.

Sadly, we had a computer crisis of near-biblical proportions today and have only just now got it up and running again to see what has been lost or corrupted. (I hereby solemnly promise to back-up critical files to CD-ROM regularly for the rest of my life, so help me God. Just as soon as the problem with the CD burner gets fixed.)

Funny how isolated and at loose ends one feels without a computer. Also, what a terribly subtle time-waster it is - in all those bits of "take a load off for a minute" that I normally spend checking email or cruising blogs, I made serious headway on "Chaos" by James Gleick. I think I might have to go back to university and do that math degree - this stuff is just so cool.

Lots of pictures tomorrow, I promise. For now, how old do you suppose this is??
It says ART. X. 966 - it could conceivably be from 1966 - I have no idea. Details of this and other interesting bits of the stash over the next 2 days.