Saturday, July 22, 2006

Twenty-seven: Fire

But first:

Sunny and not (yet) stiflingly hot - perfect for home baked fresh cherry muffins on the patio, methinks.


Today's colour project: fire. As in the one over which we roasted marshmallows with the kids in the backyard.

It turned out to be a bit of a challenge to come up with something I liked. I started playing with some basic stripes of sampled colours: yellow, orange, dark rusty orange, reddish brown...... and reincarnated the hideous acrylic afghan I spent much of my preteen years not finishing. Click. Where had I seen those colors in a format I didn't detest? Of course - handpainted yarn would make a fine fiery foundation:

With a bright pale yellow or cream design to call to mind the swirling, dancing flames:

I see socks. Which is apt, since the motif on the left is adapted from a book of Turkish sock patterns. The yarn above is already committed to a half finished pair of socks, but I could order more.....

Friday, July 21, 2006

Twenty-eight: Just in Case There Was Any Doubt

about my legitimacy as a knit-blogger, I thought I'd best post a little photographic evidence.I do, in fact, own a cat. His name is Basil, aka Basil-D-Cat, Baz, Basil Buddy, Ow-Stop-That!, and How The Heck Did You Get Up There? He's very cool, and has used up several of his nine lives (putting our vet's kids through college in the process) over the years. He's a little camera shy though, and is seen here taking refuge in one of the many old packing boxes presently en route to recycling. My DD thoughtfully carved him a cat shaped door for his personal use.


Over the years, I have collected odd bits of blue themed china, some of it broken, with the idea that I would one day create a mosaic tiled masterpiece. It invariably causes no end of consternation for the movers, who look at me oddly, and then write "broken dishes" in big red letters all over the packing materials, to ensure they can't be blamed for their condition. I came across the bundles the other day while sorting and resolved, in a fit of maturity and noble self discipline, to give it all away. Yesterday, I had a brainwave about doing a sort of mosaic tile motif in knitted form, and thought I would pull them out to photograph for inspiration.

This doesn't include the odds and ends of blue IKEA dinner sets sitting in another part of the Goodwill pile. Nor the lovely Martha Stewart blue stoneware we currently own, which the kids will doubtless cause to be added over time. You guessed it - creative lust reared its ugly head, and the broken dishes are coming with us. After all, what better place for a mosaic masterpiece than our cozy little patio in Whistler? I expected my DH to have a fit, but he just shrugged and pointed out that at least they can be jammed in any old corner, and don't require special handling or immaculate storage conditions.

Kaffe Fassett does some very nifty things with mosaic motifs, but I would rather stick pins in my eyes than do that much intarsia. So I gave some thought to how one could get randomly patterned blue and white patches outlined in "grout" without painstaking plotting and millions of horrid little ends. Ah ha!:

I was too lazy to swatch yesterday, so I played on the computer instead:It's just a rough sketch, but I think it has potential. I can also see it as an interesting format for a luscious handpainted skein.

About potential yarns for the Roundabout Leaf Tank - the recommended yarn is 80% rayon and 20% silk, so I suspect 100% rayon would work just fine. I think the idea is for it to be drapey, but not overly heavy (cotton might be a bit much). The recommended gauge is 18 sts and 26 rows to 4" in stockinette - basically an aran weight yarn.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Twenty-nine: The Next Thing

It's official today: Less Than a Month until we move. Patients now are almost all on their "last visits" and the bittersweet process of closure and goodbye is in full swing - hugs and thank-you's, kind words and little tokens. Being military, one gets used to saying goodbye regularly, but oddly, this is one of the few times I have left a practice with proper closure. The last two have coincided with my maternity leaves, both of which began precipitously with obstetrical emergencies and prolonged hospitalisation.

The first time, I did morning rounds, saw a number of patients on the maternity ward, popped down to my Ob's office, was examined and promptly sent packing back to maternity, this time for admission. Later that morning, the ambulance attendants wheeled me out on a guerney, past several of my own stunned patients, en route to the big city hospital down the road. My second pregnancy culminated in an equally unexpected 3 month hospital stay. (For the record, the end result in each case was a perfect, healthy baby, for which I am eternally grateful.) The swift role reversal was dizzying, and though I was too consumed with my own fears and worries and physical pain to fret about how my patients would do without me (just fine, of course), I did regret the lack of a proper transition.

The Roundabout Leaf Tank is underway:
It is shaping up to be an interesting but not overly complex knit - perfect for my present distracted state. I am knitting it in Estelle's aran weight silk, which is a raw silk, and therefore not quite as slippery / drapey as the specified Berocco rayon / silk blend (which I failed to find anywhere online.) Nevertheless, the Estelle is a lovely yarn, of excellent quality, and I don't expect it to disappoint. A number of folk are apparently knitting this pattern in a much finer gauge with some of the fabulous new handpainted silks out there - I was sorely tempted, but decided to do it "by the book" this time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thirty: Turkish Socks

Here's something I unearthed during decluttering recently:I picked this up during our matrimonial stay on Crete. There was a basket of them in the corner of a gift shop, they were inexpensive, and I had no idea what I was looking at until many years later when I picked up a copy of Anna Zilboorg's Turkish socks book (now titled Simply Socks in reprint). I really wish I'd picked up more at the time, because they have all the classic design and pattern features of the traditional Turkish sock.

The sole of the foot and the heel, each with their own unique and typical patterning:I remain skeptical of the merits of the pointy heel, and these wound up being too small for me to properly try on, but Zilboorg insists they are quite comfy once you get used to them. Better for lounging than stuffing in shoes, though. Unlike FairIsle, Turkish colorwork does not confine itself to 2 colors per row, which would make it considerably more challenging to emulate.
I come back to Zilboorg's book again and again to jolt my design senses out of their Western rut. I generally convert everything to 2 color work, and rarely use screamingly bright hues, but the book is a wealth of design inspiration nevertheless.
This is a winter hat I designed for my 3 year old son last year, using a variety of traditional Turkish sock patterns. Sadly, he has never worn it, because he is not a "hat person." It can be minus 30 degrees and a howling blizzard and he refuses to so much as pull up his hood. I'm still holding out hope he grows out of that before he grows out of the hat.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Thirty-one: Overambitious

I spent every spare moment last night and this morning flicking fretfully between my favorite online yarn sources, trying to come up with a solution to the cabled dress dilemma.

The black silk will not work, not even for a shell. It is utterly inelastic - in fact, if you stretch the fabric, the fiber itself deforms and you can't make it go back to its original shape. The only salvage I can imagine is to knit it along with a really elastic yarn ie. wool and I wouldn't even do that until I wash a test swatch to see if a) it is dye fast and b) it disintegrates. At least it's soft, and has the characteristic warmth of silk, so knit together with a DK wool, it would probably make a very nice sweater.

Here's the dress situation: Our last dress-up event before we move to Whistler (where casual is the only dress code) takes place August 11th. We move the next week. Even the speediest Canadian online yarn shops will take a good week to get the yarn to me, which leaves exactly 2 weeks in which to swatch extensively, finalize a brand new design and knit a complexly patterned knee length dress in a sport to DK weight yarn. During this time, I will also work, raise children, pack/declutter and get the house ready for showing. My DH asserts that "no one else would even contemplate such a thing." Hah - shows how many knit blogs he reads! Nevertheless, I suppose good sense must prevail over pride in this instance.

For the record, I have not given up on the idea of a slinky little sleeveless dress in a drapey yarn with cables for structure and shaping, but perhaps a camisole might be the place to start. The sort of camisole that could be paired with nice jeans for a not-ridiculously-overdressed-but-I-do-so-love-silk sort of thing. And not necessarily before we move. Though I'm not ruling it out, either.

My knitterly confidence would be flagging badly were it not for this: The BBS finished up over the weekend and I love love love it. It is soft and scrummy and fits perfectly and is my favorite, most flattering colour. I really ought to block it, but that would involve taking it off. Fortuitously, the sweltering heat here has abated slightly, and there is just enough of a chill in the morning air to make my Serene Sweater With Coffee fantasy a happy reality. In stark contrast to the black silk debacle, I did not compromise on this project, but forked over a rather large sum of money for a top notch fiber. Could there be a lesson here?

Monday, July 17, 2006


days until the big move, and only 2 1/2 more weeks in the office. I'm counting down the latter even more assidiously than the former now, because my partner is on holidays for the next two weeks (well-earned, I might add) which means an exponential increase in paperwork, hospital work, and general fire putting out.

I decided that if I'm going to design that black silk dress in time, I'd best get on with some swatching. I started with inexpensive wool, just to get a handle on some cable patterns:

Then moved on to the silk noil - so far, so good:

Ah, but wait for it. Know what this is?

It's a scale model of the bum print that will protrude ever so unfashionably when we finish dinner and stand for the toast to the Queen.
Fetching, no? This stuff is like playdough:
Even more disconcerting, it has all the tensile strength of playdough. Once again, proving that You Get What You Pay For. I can't believe how long it takes me to learn that. My reasoning went along these lines: I haven't designed a dress before, so I don't want to spend $250 on really nice silk just in case it doesn't work out. So I spent $60 - and now have 11 skeins of crap. (I'm sure I'll use it for something, someday, but most definitely not a dress.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Thirty-three: Sunday Stories

It seems I wasn't the only one who felt a sort of compulsion to explain and expand upon A Life Well Lived. The more I looked at the list, the more I thought that each entry could provide considerable scope for story telling, musing and discussion. Well, why not? I plan to go through them one at a time, on Sundays, which should keep things going for a while.

Number 1: Bought everyone in the bar a drink.

I skipped right over this on the initial list, since I hardly ever go to bars, but in fact there was one time when I (technically we) did buy everyone in the bar a drink. Quite a lot of drinks. All the drinks actually, all night long.

On October 19, 1995 Rob and I were married on the flight deck of the HMCS Calgary. He was flying Sea Kings with the Canadian navy, and they were halfway through a six month peace-keeping operation starting in the Persian Gulf and finishing up in the Adriatic.

They had 10 days leave on Crete. The ship was docked in Suda Bay, a short way from the picturesque little city of Hania.

The ship's captain performed the ceremony, but since they weren't about to collect everyone to sail the hundred miles out to international waters, it was not legally binding. So earlier in the day, we were legally married by the mayor of Hania, in a civil ceremony at City Hall. Here we are filling out the paperwork with the Mayor's secretary. The gentleman on the far left is Raouf, a kind hearted Tunisian hairdresser who was working his way at odd jobs through Greece, and whom I met on the bus down from Iraklion. He spoke passable Greek and English, and gamely translated our vows for us.

After the shipboard ceremony, we retired to the wardroom for dinner:

And dancing:

We footed the bill for the open bar (Canadian ships are not dry), and although we retired early:

The party continued into the wee hours:

And that is how I once bought everyone at the bar a drink. Or two.