Saturday, September 02, 2006

Back to School Rush

I haven't disappeared - just doing more settling in chores than knitting at the moment. School starts Tuesday, and my 6 yo. (highly distractable and impulsive) DD will be riding the bus for the first time ever. Registration (mostly) complete, school supplies bought, still not sure exactly which of the multitudinous bus stops in this town is hers, laying awake nights envisioning worst case scenarios....

Also, I am thoroughly sick of moving from province to province - I think BC is the worst one EVER. I can't get a driver's licence until I come up with photo ID proving my citizenship - never mind that I've been Canadian all my life - the passport isn't good enough, the valid Saskatchewan licence isn't good enough, the record of my valid BC licence from 93-2000 isn't good enough. More paper, more money, more forms, more delays. (And don't even get me started on the rest of the basic paperwork for the necessities of life.) I suppose this is a province with an illegal immigration problem, because I've certainly never been treated like a presumptive criminal moving to any other part of Canada, and even when I moved to BC in 1993, it wasn't nearly such a hassle.

Two and a half minutes left on the card - it's like one of those bad movies where the guy runs out of quarters for the phone just before the girl tells him that critical thing. We have a used laptop now, so with any luck we will conquer the paperwork to get internet set up at home in the near future and things will be back to normal.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reprieve / String Bag Number Two

Basil came back after three days - muddy, hungry, but otherwise none the worse for wear. I can only presume something spooked him and he got a bit lost. He has a congenital eye / depth perception problem that makes him a comically inept hunter, consequently he is normally very careful to be present and vocal at supper time. It will be reasonably easy to keep him indoors in the winter, however in hot weather in a tiny (unairconditioned) apartment with windows open and the patio door constantly opening and closing, it's not likely he's never going to escape. I know there are many vociferous opponents of allowing cats outdoors - like Lee Ann's husband, mine was heavily in favor of freedom, and I wanted the safety-at-all-costs option - however, once they are accustomed to freedom, the point is somewhat moot, as it's hard to break them of the habit. In any case, mourning has now been suspended in favor of routine baseline worry.

String bag number 2 (apologies for the lower quality photos - October can't come fast enough):

It is a firmer fabric than bag number one, suitable for long, heavy objects such as a lovely bottle of fine French red. The bottom is an eight spoked spiral, flowering smoothly into a simple but exquisite vine lace.

Here's the pattern (as with number one, I will eventually - ie October - have this all prettied up and properly published as a downloadable PDF). I would love to hear feedback, good or bad, from anyone who might knit this - I can be reached at: robruth dot cox at gmail dot com.

Materials: This bag takes around 150 yds of DK to light worsted weight cotton or cotton blend twine / string. (I used Aunt Lydia's Denim Quick-Crochet, which I found at Walmart for around $7 for 400 yds - it is 75% cotton, 25% acrylic, looked and felt just like the cotton blend twine at the hardware store, but a bit cheaper).

Needles: I used 3.5 mm (US 4) dpns for the base, with a gauge of 4.5 stitches and 7 rows to the inch in stockinette. I switched to a 4 mm (US 6), 16 inch circular for the sides. I wouldn't worry overly about gauge, as long as you're close.


Base: Using the half-hitch technique (no slip knots), cast on 8 stitches and divide between 3 dpn's, preparing to join in the round. For mathematical ease, the cast-on will be defined as round 1.

Rnds 2-3: knit, tug on the tail to snug up the centre

Rnd 4: *yo, k1; repeat from *

Rnd 5, and all odd numbered rounds through 17 inclusive: knit

Rnd 6: *yo, k2; rep from*

Rnd 8: *yo, k3; rep from*

Rnd 10: *yo, k4; rep from*

Rnd 12: *yo, k5; rep from*

Rnd 14: *yo, k6; rep from*

Rnd 16: *yo, k7; rep from*

Rnd 18: *yo, k8; rep from* - 72 stitches

knit two rounds


Rnd 1: *k1, yo, k2, ssk, k2tog, k2, yo; rep from* Note that this round ends with a yo.

Rnd 2: knit

Rnd 3: *yo, k2, ssk, k2tog, k2, yo, k1; rep from *

Rnd 4: knit

Repeat these 4 rows 10 times or until desired length is achieved. Note that the pattern rounds are identical, just staggered by 1 stitch.

End with 3 rounds knit plain.


Rnd 1: *p3tog, yo; rep from *

Rnd 2: *(k1, p1) into yo, k1; rep from*

knit 2 rounds plain

Picot bind-off:

*Insert the right needle between the first two stitches and draw through a loop, placing it on the left needle as for a cable cast on. BO 4 stitches. Slip the remaining loop on the right needle over to the left and repeat from *


Make a 3 stitch i-cord the length of the bag's circumference plus about 12 inches and thread through the eyelets (see instructions for bag no. 1)

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Down Side of Paradise

It's a bit gloomy around the condo at present - our 11 year old cat, Basil, did not return from yesterday's little jaunt in the garden. The down side of living close to nature is, well - all the naturally large and toothful beasts living right alongside. Every morning run contains the ever present likelihood of a bear encounter (Rob and I have had several over the years of vacationing here), and although I have never seen coyotes while running, they are apparently in abundance, and have a taste for domestic cats.

We considered trying to make Basil into a house cat, but after 11 years, he wasn't about to change his ways. He was frustrated in a small apartment, every coming and going became an ordeal of "watch out for the cat," and the kids were subjected to an unending litany of nagging about windows and the patio door. And being resourceful, he would have ultimately have escaped anyway. It seemed that he was going to continue his routine of sticking close to home, sunning himself on the patio and chasing butterflies in the garden, and we hoped that would keep him out of harm's way. It would appear not. (I'm not going to write his eulogy because there's always a chance..... Besides, writing Lightning's was just too heart wrenching and I'm not up for another one so soon.)

No amount of rationalizing and logic entirely blots out my (Rob has that enviably robust male guilt-proof ego) creeping sense of guilt for choosing not to confine him to the house. I suppose it's a dilemma I will face with my children (though please God, not so drastically) - the need to wrestle with and permit degrees of freedom and risk to a creature whose well-being remains my responsibility (not to mention fervent desire). Is there anything more terrifying than parenthood?

On a happier note, here is the sweater I'm presently working on. I had a hankering for a classic navy / white striped cotton sweater for shoulder season - I've always liked the look, and they seem to be very much in fashion at present. I wanted something just a little different, though - predominately navy, with little bit of vertical interest, as opposed to great swaths of horizontal white. As a design challenge, I also wanted to conquer the heaviness and inelasticity of cotton, making something sleek and fitted. (That entails the thorny process of honestly measuring myself and bravely keeping ease to a minimum - my first cotton sweater design might just as well have been a gunny sack). I'm knitting it at a fairly dense gauge, which thus far looks like it will yield the desired effect. It will be a closely fitted crew neck, knit in the round with set in sleeves - another challenge to match up the pattern at the curved seam. I'm experimenting with ways of avoiding the "jog" at the end of the round as the body progresses - I think a little invention may be called for, because the standard method looks messier than a "just live with it" jump in the pattern. Still better than a seam, though.

It is immensely weird and frustrating not having a computer at my fingertips, but on the other hand, the brisk 15 minute walk to the Internet cafe is better for the bulgies than simply slouching out of the kitchen with my morning coffee!