Saturday, January 13, 2007

No Steek Today

Instead we've been working on this:

The final frontier of project Downsize Our Lives: the books. Rob and I each did a preliminary cull before we moved. (I got rid of obselete medical texts, he parted with tomes like "The World's Most Offensive Jokes" and "My Jedi Journal". It's a pilot thing.) Since our storage space has turned out to be substantially less than we had hoped at the time of the move, the day has come for the final cull. There are three boxes in the car waiting to go to Goodwill, the two in the chair are also leaving, and the rest..... We'll be covering one wall (at least) of the bedroom in shelving. Really, how could we part with Tolstoy, and Dickens, and Timothy Findley, and Margaret Atwood, and all the other truly great authors who have graced our imaginations. (The Yarn Harlot also made the cut.) We were ruthless, we really were, but there are some books you just can't part with.

But every day's a good day when it ends like this:
Especially when you watch it from the hot tub.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I've been feeling a bit discombobulated the last few days. There was a wee bit of unpleasantness earlier in the week - not extremely serious, though alarming enough, and thankfully resolved with an appeal to ethics and the rule of law - that nevertheless caused us to reflect on the fact that money is power and in choosing to do with much less of the former, we may need to give careful thought to fall-back strategies for asserting our right to exist. (On the plus side, my chronic existential guilt for having achieved socioeconomic success has abated slightly. ) It was all very stressful, and today's post will therefore be a little... scattered.

Firstly, the plain knitting portion of the gray sweater zipped along faster than expected (funny how mindless knitting seems to accrue all at once) and I have now reached the day of reckoning: time to sew and cut the steeks. (Pictures of that process on Monday).

After the steeking comes the Day of Math. I plan to chart out a variety of approaches to short-rowed, top down, set-in sleeves in order to compare their shapes, and ultimately work out a formula to mimic the classic bell curve.

Secondly, the latest swatch:It's nice enough, and a successful experiment in filling in the yo holes with M1's (this is supposed to be outerwear, after all), but it just isn't as deeply ribbed / embossed as I would like. No matter, I've got several other motifs in mind that will be closer to the effect I'm looking for.

Third, and last - for all the poor snowless folk out there:

As of today, a record-breaking 28.4 feet has fallen since November 1st. The snowfall in the first 11 days of January already exceeds all previous records for the month. Sidewalks are reduced to corridors between 8 ft high snow-plowed walls, dump trucks are hauling away tons and tons of the stuff to make room for daily life, and the skiing:

Is incredible. (For real-time mountain top views, check out the web cams.)

While I couldn't help laughing at Seattle shutting down for an inch or two, I have to admit that snowclearing infrastructure makes all the difference in the world. Every time it snows here, armies of plows descend on the town around 5 am, scurrying about like manic insects, so that by the time most people leave the house, the roads, parking lots and sidewalks are clear and tidy. It's really quite amazing to watch, and intimidating if you are walking early in the morning because they are mostly operated by 20-something males working on commission, and therefore go like stink.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Shawl Pins

I finally pulled together some uninterrupted time at the bench this week (amazing how challenging it is to get work time when working from home) and created some shawl pins:

These are sterling silver and not over heavy - no. 1 weighs 5 gms and no.'s 2 & 3 are around 9 gms each. Being relatively new to lace knitting, I don't have many shawls to try them on, but I use my prototype regularly to close buttonless cardigans, decorate scarves, etc. and have found it very versatile.

These are available for purchase: No. 1 is $30 (Canadian), No.'s 2 & 3 are $40 each. Postage costs: Xpress post (14 business days to the US, 3-5 in Canada, with package tracking and insurance): anywhere from $12-$14 to the US and Canada, a little more internationally. Regular small package mail is in the $2-$6 range to the US and (inexplicably) $10-12 within Canada. Since these are small and actual postage varies so drastically, I will obtain the actual cost from the Canada Post site prior to invoicing.

To purchase: email me regarding the pin of choice, your address and preferred shipping option, and I will send you a postage quote prior to generating a Paypal invoice.


Number 3 has been sold.

Number 1 has been sold.

Number 2 has been sold.

More in the works - meanwhile feel free to email me if you would like something similar to those pictured above.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Guinevere Usurped

Or at least her sweater. By me. Remember my little baby girl (all 160 lbs of her)?

Or, as she appears now, in her winter coat:

Back when we lived on the prairies, in suburban single family dwellings with fenced yards, she used to sleep in the laundry room and spend the better part of the day outside with her best buddy Lightning (rest his soul). They would dig holes and roll in the mud and snow, and by spring, her coat would be thoroughly felted and stinky (she has ultra sensitive skin, and hates brushing with a passion, though we always made an effort to keep up with it). And since it was awfully hot for her, we always had her shaved right down in the spring.

We thought when we moved to Whistler that we would have to keep her coat short year round, in order to make her bearable to live with as an apartment dog. I had the brilliant idea that the poor dear would need a warm sweater for those long winter walks, and before we moved, ordered 25 balls (let's not get into what that cost) of Alafoss Lopi in a nice heathered ecru.

It turns out that a) with the occasional trip to the groomer, her coat stays quite nice when she spends her days sleeping on the couch and stealing food off the counter, b) she is bone lazy and protests mightily when forced to walk more than a block or so from home (the first year we had her, we worried that she had some hidden orthopedic problem, but it is apparently a trait of the breed), and c) it never really gets all that cold here. So she doesn't actually need a sweater (nor would she likely tolerate it, in any case).

I, on the other hand, would love to have a thick cozy sweater as outerwear for mild winter days - a longish one with big squashy cables, roomy enough for layers, but shapely enough to be distinctly feminine.

The first swatch:
I am looking for big, curvaceous cables that suggest a sort of free spirit that could go looping off wildly at any moment. I have a fiercely intricate Aran design in mind for another day, but for this sweater I want sensuously organic curves rather than primly mathematical knotwork.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cheap Cashmere?

I came across this article via the Worsted Witch. (A fascinating blog I would never have found if Juno hadn't linked it some time ago.) The article discusses the horrific environmental toll on China's grasslands, as goat herders respond to North America's insatiable demand for cheap cashmere. It got me thinking about the yarns I have used with bits of cashmere content, and where that might come from. The downside to inexpensive yarn (perhaps inexpensive anything?) is the abusive practices that are sometimes the means of keeping costs down. It did make me resolve to think more carefully about where my fibre comes from - and I'll be avoiding cheap cashmere in future. (Though not throwing away the small amount already in my stash - that would serve no purpose.)

Monday, January 08, 2007


The gray sweater is past the waist, traversing the bust and heading for the shoulders.

I had a moment of indecision at the waist, as it was time to leave behind the texture patterns, and move into plain stockinette. For some reason, stockinette feels like a sort of design mediocrity - I was tempted to abandon the plan and go for Fancier! More Intricate! The rational part of me quite likes the effect, though - I think the contrast showcases the knit-purl patterns very effectively. Plus, the point of this sweater was to permit myself the luxury of playing with the mathematics of the sleeve cap without having to match up patterns.

I also opted to steek the armscyes so as not to interrupt the soothing rhythm of plain knitting in the round. (I'm all for soothing things right now - the excess of the holiday caught up with my head and my stomach this weekend.)

Here you see the underarm stitches held on one of my trusty KP Options cords, and four steek stitches cast on above them.

Swatch of the day? Maybe later on. As I said, I didn't feel like much of anything requiring original thought this weekend.