Saturday, September 23, 2006

Saturday Sky

Due to previously mentioned camera issues which I won't go into again, the photo is actually from the middle of last week - but it truly is the same weather today. It was taken at the base of Blackcomb, on our daily walk to the bus.

23 Sept 2006

I was stunned and delighted the other day to discover that during ski season, Whistler has a school program wherein every Monday, students may spend the day on the mountain receiving greatly subsidised lessons, and be marked "present" for classes. I'm not exactly sure why I was suprised, since we moved here specifically because of opportunities like this. I suppose it's because we spent our six years on the prairies determinedly not thinking about what we were missing (mountains, good produce, organic anything, decent climate....)

A small sampling of cultural differences:
Fundraising student lunches that consist of sushi rather than hot dogs.
Bears in front of the school - this was not considered reason to stay in for recess, just a warning that students ought to stay in the back playground.
Standing in the fall drizzle, waiting for the school bus while other moms drop their kids off in gleaming HumVees. The implications of living simply among the conspicuously wealthy are not yet clear, and I am determined to keep an open mind - nevertheless, it was a little startling at first.

On a more serious note, I was incalculably relieved to find that the school and in particular, the Grade 1 teacher seem well equipped and motivated to deal creatively and productively with my DD's challenging temperment. I'm sure there will be plenty of bumps along the way, and I haven't entirely stopped holding my breath, but it looks very promising.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rainy Day Vest

Fitted, simple, and just a wee bit artsy/funky - perfect for dodging bears en route to the school bus.

wearing rdvest


rdvest closeup

Pattern: Original (so to speak - it's a pretty basic V-necked vest)
Yarn: recycled sari silk, wool (Briggs and Little Regal) - one strand of each knitted together for the body, borders knitted of 2 strands of wool alone. The sari silk is handspun from weaving mill remnants, and is generated by a series of women's cooperatives and cottage industries, primarily (I believe) in Nepal. I bought mine a couple years ago on Ebay - it is seriously overspun, dramatically varies in thickness, and there are some twiggy bits to pick out - nevertheless, it behaves remarkably well when knitted together with wool. I believe substantially more refined versions are now available.
Comments: I'm very pleased with the fit and the look - it turned out exactly as envisioned (which was by no means a certainty with such an oddball yarn.) I still have a fair bit of the sari silk left - perhaps I'll make a little jacket for DD, or else a set of funky ski hats for the family. Later.

BTW, the pendant in the photo is my own - part of the botanical collection I'm working on presently - more on that Monday.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Round the Cape of Equanimity: part 1

Sorry for the double publishing - couldn't resist adding a few pics, now that we're home from the photo shop.

One of my very favorite things to do as a knitter is to sit down with a whack of yarn and a great big stitch dictionary and Make Something, changing patterns as the mood strikes me. I hate swatching, (although I have - at last - reached the level of self-discipline wherein I do it for the sake of properly fitted results) so I much prefer to have a wearable (or at least functional) object at the end of all this impulsiveness, as opposed to a bunch of little squares. (I know, I could make a blanket, but I hate seaming even more than I hate swatching.) Sometimes it becomes what I had in mind, and sometimes it goes for a little ride in the washing machine. Virtually anything (wool things, anyway) can become a nifty felted bag.

This time it's an Aran cape, with Barbara Walker's first and second Treasuries to pick from as the mood strikes. The wool is Briggs and Little Regal in Horizon Blue
b and l blue
2700 yards (it was a really good sale) of worsted weight ought to at least get down to my waist, I think.

1) I decided (by draping the tape measure around my shoulders until it looked about right) that the starting neck measurement should be 30 inches around. I want to leave plenty of room to make up my mind about the actual neckline design later.

2) I chose Triple-Braided Diamonds
triple braided diamond
as the starting spokes of the wheel - a small swatch
small swatch
tells me that the panel works up nice and crisply at 4.5 inches wide on 4 mm needles.

3) A little math:
30/4.5 = 6.66
Six panels would be nicely symmetrical - two in front, two in back, one down each arm. The remaining .66 of a panel amounts to about 3 inches (actually a little less by the time I add in a single line of stockinette between the panels) - a quick trip back to the mirror with the tape measure reveals that 27 inches will still work, especially if I were to add a nice wide button band after the fact. (Michael Kors has a capelet with a delicious double breasted look.)

4)Six panels it is, then: 30 stitches each, plus 7 lines of stockinette to divide and border them: 30 x 6 + 7 = 187 stitches to cast on.

5)The increasing can't be left to chance, so a little more math:
I'm going to make a 3/4 circle, so as not to be swimming in fabric. Based on the principle that the circumference of a circle grows in direct proportion to the radius, I calculate that the number of stitches must increase by a factor of 1.5 every time the radius doubles. (I have chosen to ignore the difference between row and stitch gauge, as well as the pulling-in effect of the cables. This is, after all, supposed to be fun and spontaneous.) I want to work my increases in the columns of stockinette between the six panels: 5 points at which to increase. (187/.75)/(2x3.14)= 40 mythical rows in the starting radius of the circle. That means that by my actual row 40 I need to have 187 x 1.5 = 281 stitches. 281-187 = 94 stitches/40 = 2.35 stitches increased per row, or (how fortuitous!)approximately 5 stitches every other row. So: I will increase one stitch in each of the 5 dividing columns on every right side row. Which is what intuitively seemed about right (based mostly on the fact that it is tidy and convenient) - but it's always nice to know the numbers add up.

That'll keep me going until the columns get wide enough to insert another motif - stay tuned. (BTW, any mathematical folks out there who detect a gaping hole in my logic - feel free to comment sooner rather than later. Please.....)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


My poor sniffly DD stayed home yesterday to bask in TLC and far too much television (although my militant position on the evils of TV has been softened somewhat by the Magic School Bus). Roundabout lunchtime she announced that her continued existence might well be futile if I did not sew exact replicas of Spiderman's costume for her and her brother this year. Hedging with the standard mom line "we'll see", I pointed out that it was a pretty tough proposition. "Mom," she said, patting my shoulder kindly, "it's your job to do tough things. You know how to knit, and that's a tough thing, so I'm sure you can do this if you try." My initial reaction was, "Isn't that sweet, she's still young enough to have absolute faith in my abilities." But I got to thinking.... Knitting! One knits balaclavas for practical purposes, so it might be possible. Seems like something more up Lee Ann's alley, but I'll have to give it some thought.

Moving on, here's this week's colour project:

Upper Harmony Lake, at the top of Whistler mountain:
mountain lake 400 size

Pixellated to tease out the colours:
pixellated mountain lake

The chosen palette:
mountain lake pallette

The pattern:
mountain lake pattern

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I had one of those "can't believe I didn't think of that before" brainwaves yesterday, and after a brief search, found and downloaded my camera driver off the Web. Brilliant, no? Especially since my DD is home sick for the second day in a row and I couldn't get to the post office even if the package were there. I then proceeded to spend the entire morning trying in vain to get it to connect with the camera. All indications are that the software is loaded correctly, it just won't procure the photos from the camera, and I vaguely recall back when we first purchased the camera that there was some business about Windows 98 not working well with digitals and really what did I expect from a $300 used laptop?

Still, there's nothing quite like the sickening feeling of waste that computers generate - the way they suck up hours and hours of precious time that was needed for so many other things, the tantalizing promise that if I only try one more thing, the software will work and I will be able to do this terribly important task efficiently forevermore. And when all avenues are exhausted and it still doesn't work, it feels a bit like losing a wallet full of cash, or discovering that the entire flat of organic peaches you were going to can today went moldy all at once last night.

So, that's all to say that until October, I'm back to square one, paying the camera shop to download the card to CD, and I have resolved NOT to fret, because goodness knows I need every scrap of fret energy for parenting right now.

To end on a happy note, here's a bit of eye candy from the mountain, all of which will eventually become design inspiration of some sort:

fuzzy cream flower

heather seed pods


Monday, September 18, 2006

Oh..... why not?

The Rainy Day vest finished up on the weekend, and I'm very pleased with the final result. Photos to be downloaded later this week, subject to expedient behaviour on the part of Canada Post (insert hysterical laughter).

Meantime, here is a bit of eye candy from our trip up Whistler mountain at the end of August:
mountain lake 400 size
I have always loved the saturated colours of high alpine lakes. This one yielded a lovely palette, and I've got a design in the works for later this week.

I have until now resisted the whole poncho/cape/gargantuan-blanket-around-the-shoulders Thing. Not entirely because I didn't like the look, but because it seemed like a heck of a lot of knitting for something that was bound to become glaringly unfashionable the moment it came off the needles.

But I have Aran on the brain of late, and the fall runways were overflowing with spectacular cabled capes and capelets. I have a load of steely blue worsted weight Briggs and Little in the stash from an irresistable ebay sale last year - it's not soft enough for anything next to the skin, but it does make marvelously crisp cables. I need a "wing it" project to balance the meticulous planning required by the other designs currently in the works, and I'm thinking of casting on a neckline's worth of stitches and having a go at a split circle, adding new cabled "spokes" whenever the space between the existing spokes gets big enough. Not unlike the spontaneous doodling of Mandalas (though I didn't know that's what they were) I used to do as a child. Like all impulsively started projects, it has greater than average potential for disappointment - but what's life without a little risk? Perhaps I'll achieve equanimity in the process.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wish List

A healthy helping of the following: equanimity (one of my very favorite words), aplomb, assurance, calm, calmness, composure, confidence, cool, coolness, detachment, equability, imperturbability, patience, peace, placidity, poise, sangfroid, self-possession, serenity, steadiness, tranquility.

Also, hats off to everyone out there single parenting for the long-term. Talk about digging deep for hidden strengths....