Saturday, September 30, 2006

(not) Saturday Skies

The clouds are sleeping in the tree tops this morning, and the forecast is significantly cooler than the glory of last week, which could put a damper on plans for this:

wading in lost lake

Lost Lake is just a 15 minute walk from our door and boasts ample kid delights in the form of ducks, minnows and tadpoles. Practically on our doorstep is what my children have termed The Secret Garden:

secret garden

The garden contains a spiral path, on whose stones are inscribed the Albert Camus line "In the heart of winter lies an invincible summer." We pass by daily, and the kids never fail to pop in - to play tag, admire the latest blooms, or hug the marble sculpture in the centre. On the way home from the school bus, we often settle on a bench with Catrionagh's latest library selection.

I am profoundly grateful to have such things in the rhythm of our daily lives.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pretending to Knit

With all the high drama and attendant exhaustion of single parenting a Very Challenging Temperment, I have managed to knit all of three rounds worth of anything over the last week. I finally elected to stop kidding myself that the second sleeve would be done any day now, and settled for photographing this:

byzantium halfway

Note the subtle tromp l'oeil achieved by the miracle of cropping. I had a go at pasting a mirror image of the completed sleeve over my bare left arm (I used to watch the View while running at the gym and they had this computer whiz give Star Jones a perfectly matched pair of "assets" - very nifty) but it just looked freaky. Of course, a dressmaker's dummy lounging in the garden would be considerably classier format for the half-finished sweater shot, but my birthday is coming up later in the fall, so there may yet be hope...

I'm happy with the fit - it's at the limits of negative ease, but that is what I intended for this design, and two pages of scrawled calculations did make the stripes line up along the hypoteneuse, although I may have to fiddle with a bit of duplicate stitch to make the fretwork flow across the seam more gracefully.

I have decided that this is all I'm allowed to work on until it's done - no guesses when that will be.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Free Will vs Determinism: Round the Cape of Equanimity part 2

There is a kind of designing - I suppose one might term it "proper" designing - where everything is worked out ahead of time. Gauge counted from an ample swatch, body measurements morphed into garment dimensions and translated to a precise schematic of rows and stitches, pages and pages of jotted numbers. All perfectly sensible and prudent, but when the paperwork is finished, the garment's destiny is set, and the only discovery remaining is whether or not the calculations were correct.

Every so often I crave the adventure of Not Knowing, of making it up as I go along. Which is why I am Loving this:

cape full circle

Having set the initial conditions, I am now free to choose new cable panels as the cape expands, and it pleases me no end that I have not yet decided what the next one will be. A simple plaited cable won round 2:

cape close

Once the next set of dividing spokes reach 10 stitches or so, I'll make up my mind about number 3. If you are following the math on this, I am now increasing every 4th round, since at this point there are twice as many dividing spokes - when the next set of panels starts, that will double again, and so on.

I put it on waste yarn to photograph it, to try it on, and because it is now big enough that I need the needles that are presently occupied Magic Looping the last sleeve of the navy and white sweater. This is also an excellent incentive to finish that sweater, whose destiny is now fully manifest, making it considerably less alluring (though I am very pleased with how it's turning out - more on that tomorrow.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Patterns in Nature: Cedar - part 1

I plan to make this a regular feature on Wednesdays (life etc. permitting). It is a wonderful creative mental exercise to explore and learn from the colour and texture in the natural world, and even a simple photoeditor can be tremendously useful in the process of experiment and discovery.

Cedar is one of those plants that has become so ubiquitous in landscaping as to be scarcely noticed for its own beauty. Here on the west coast, of course, it is inextricably linked with First Nations art and tradition, and the few old growth giants passed over by the logging companies are awe-inspiring monuments of strength and history.

A close look reveals a branching pattern which would be lovely interpreted in twisted stitches (a future project):

cedar branching pattern

What looks at a glance like a monochromatic dull green, is in fact, a whole range of hues:

cedar close

The "squinty view"

cedar pixellated

reveals both a blue-green and a yellow-green range of hues.

Since a core principle of Fair Isle is the maintenance of consistent contrast between saturation levels, I tried playing with the saturation setting in the photoeditor. On the top is the blue-green palette, with the identical set of hues in saturated (left) and desaturated (right) form. On the bottom is the yellow-green palette with the desaturated version on the left, and saturated on the right.

cedar palette all four

I created a simple interlocking pattern of branches in order to play with the colour combinations.

Here is the saturated version of the yellow-green range set against desaturated blue-greens:

cedar colour pattern sat yellow

Saturated blue-greens against desaturated yellow-greens:

cedar colour pattern blue sat

Both ranges equally saturated - note in this case how the middle hues don't really contrast sufficiently:

cedar colour pattern both sat

If a uniformly saturated palette were imperative, one could experiment with eliminating the middle hue range, or toss in a complementary colour for extra spark - perhaps the reddish brown of cedar bark? There's infinite scope for play.


I must thank Charity for her recent comment, which made me laugh out loud. I had a vision of a scary Darth Vader-ish mom person stalking the house and breathing "mindfully" through gritted teeth. Only one more week now until reinforcements (ie. hubby and the moving truck with all the toys and books) arrive.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Mother's Grimm

Interesting scientific fact: a three year old screaming at full volume reverberates spectacularly in the mountains. The effect was particularly sonorous at the crest of the hill by the Chateau Whistler, dampening somewhat once we dipped into the trees. Probably more effective than those insipid bear bells, however. I know I felt like fleeing.

Thich Nhat Hahn suggests regularly reminding oneself to adopt a half smile, along with mindful awareness of the breath. I think of that often these days, as I catch myself with jaw set and eyes narrowed in a "grim mother"-ly expression.

A few random knitterly things:

1) Thanks to all for the lovely compliments on the vest and the silver work. As soon as our "real" computer arrives (the one that will run software written after 1995), I am either going to switch to WordPress, or else look into having my comments hosted by Haloscan. I see a number of the folks who have stuck with Blogger doing this, and it allows them to collect email addys and reply to comments personally.

2) After looking over the stash, I realized that I omitted quite a number of projects in my recent roll call, most notably this:

FI yarn

This is authentic Shetland wool for my magnum opus Fair Isle. Which I haven't actually designed yet. By far the more intelligent thing would have been to design it first and then purchase exactly the right amounts of each colour as determined by the chart, however, when I bought it earlier this year, I feared that once we assumed our thrifty mountain lifestyle I would never again be able to justify the outlay. I went with "one of each in blue," and hoped for the best. I think I can make it work, possibly with the addition of a complementary skein or two for balance.

3) Christmas presents. Blogland is teeming with gifts in progress, and with our newly streamlined budget, this year would be an excellent time for handknit pressies. Problem is, a goodly portion of my would-be recipients are just not into the whole handknit thing. While, for example, a luscious pair of fine merino socks would seem terribly special to me, the giver, the majority of my giftees would be merely puzzled and bemused to receive something utilitarian that they could have picked up cheaply at Costco. Same goes for hats and scarves, and quite likely even sweaters (not that I'm going there - I do have at least a marginal grip on reality.) So, the handknits will be confined to hubby and the kids, and the rest of you (many of whom I know full well read my blog) will get.... other stuff. No more hints.

4) Speaking of my kids, who are still young enough not to read this, I plan to make a pair of these Knitted Babes for DD:

knitted babes

I figure we could have great fun making outfits for them together - an opportunity to teach her a bit of sewing, maybe introduce her to knit and/or crochet.

Then I just have to decide on a project for DS - I am dying to try the Wallace and Gromit and Shaun patterns I scored on ebay, but both kids are big fans and there might be jealousy issues... Still thinking. A more basic bear or dog might be safer.

And then there's the Spiderman balaclavas.....

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tales From the Bench

My passion of late is botanical - striving to capture the essence of real flowers and leaves in crocheted and knitted silver.

Crochet is tremendously versatile for three dimensional sculpting, but I love the ethereal elegance of knitted lace forms.
real aspen
aspen leaf

Happily, there are endless sources of inspiration at hand,
leaf 2

and DS is always happy to join me in a treasure hunt.