Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Before This, There's That

It rained all day yesterday so the ground is finally good and saturated. I won’t have to water for at least a couple more days, depending on whether or not the sun comes out. Meanwhile it’s only 17 degrees (62 F) in here and I’m wearing socks, a long-sleeved turtleneck t-shirt and a fleece jacket. There’s no turning up the heat because the furnace is turned off for the summer. The turtleneck comes in handy though for keeping the dust from going down my neck as I clean out the attic. Yesterday I pulled out everything from the Spinning Stash space and today I hope to do the same to the other half where the Fabric and Paper Stash is. That one is a bit more problematical because the insulation came down in several places, pulling the stapled-up plastic sheeting with it. Also a couple of piles of things fell over joining in a messy heap in the middle of the one spot where I didn’t have any extra plastic. Sheesh. There’s also the fact that I can’t put anything back until I can capture T-Man and get his help with the staple gun. See this post’s title for the dilemma I’m caught in. At least the temperature is conducive to crawling around in the attic wearing my haz-mat gear. I bet I just look terribly glamorous in black pants and turtleneck, baseball cap, vinyl gloves and a dust mask. Good thing there’s no paparazzi here to snap my photo for People magazine, huh?

I forgot to tell you about the lovely needle gauge I got from Debra’s Garden. She finally came up with metric sizing so I got a metallic red one:

This pic is bigger than life-size — they are only 1.5” tall by 1.25” wide so fit easily wherever you like or use as a zipper pull or necklace. A bit pricey at US$16 plus postage but the holes are very accurate and the numbering is deeply incised and won’t wear off. Doesn’t include 2.25 or 2.75 mm sizes though which was a little disappointing though it does have 3.25, 3.5 and 3.75 mm. However, Debra is great to deal with and packages your purchase up in a matching little silky bag. And her many different stitch markers have been giving me ideas. (Which reminds me — I’ve misplaced my first and so far only crochet stitch marker. Hope it turns up somewhere when I get all this mess cleared up out of my study and studio rooms.)

So this means I now have a total of 4 needle gauges, each one sporting a different number of holes and sizes:

My oldest green gauge is in both French and English and measures Canadian and metric sizes from 2mm to 10. I’ve had this one forever and it’s the only one with both 7 and 7.5mm but it doesn’t have 3.5mm, just 3.25 and 3.75. I got the next one several years ago, a Goose Pond brass sheep that goes all the way from 1.25 (yes I do have needles that small!) to 10mm. It’s missing the 2.5 out of the 2’s and the 3mm out of the 3’s (though it has all the others), no 4mm (4.25 instead) and no 7’s. More recently still I got the Turbo Needlegauge which works great with Addi needles because that was what it was made for. It goes down to 1.5mm and has all of the 3’s but only 2.5 in the 2’s. It does have 7 but not 7.5mm. I’ve already listed what my newest Debra’s Garden one has and doesn’t have. Together they pretty much cover my needle collection. Close enough for me anyhow.

I find the sizing thing totally fascinating but maybe that’s because I’ve used so many different types of knitting needles over the years. They vary a lot even if they say they’re the same size. No wonder you are admonished to use the same brand of needles for instance if you’re switching from circs to dpns. But even that ploy might not be totally foolproof. Throw in the fact that I knit tighter on metal needles than on wood or plastic, even if they’re the exact same measured size. Recently I’ve restricted my needle use to circulars and dpns and haven’t used single points for years. My favourites are Addi lace circs in brass and bamboo dpns (Clover and Crystal Palace) with good old Denise plastic modulars coming in whenever nothing else will work. I should actually get rid of all my old Aero “twin pins” and sets of only 4 dpns, particularly the metal ones because they are heavy. I only use metal dpns in sizes smaller than 2.25mm. I also mostly prefer dpns in 5” or 6” lengths except for the larger sizes which are functional in the 7” length so I can use them for hats or sleeves. However, I kind of like keeping all my “vintage” needles even if I never use them. It’s almost too bad I didn’t keep their packaging as well. They look much more intriguing in a super-ancient paper or splitting plastic envelope, perhaps at least to collectors.

In knitting news, I’m finally at the toe decreases on the A-Maizing Socks. Yay! This project has been kind of a chore so I decided to get it off the needles asap so I could feel more free to start another project. I bought a second skein of Louet Euroflax fine/sport weight in Gypsy Bronze so I will have enough to do the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery. I want to do it 3 repeats wide and long enough to wrap around my neck several times. Will. Finish. Socks. First.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some Several Reviews

Just got Knitter’s magazine in the mail, the last one of my subscription. I’m not going to be renewing though I probably won’t be able to resist buying it anyway. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not particularly happy with the direction this magazine has been going. It seems like so many of the garments are designed just to show off a particular technique and aren’t very attractive. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should! I find myself thinking about how many changes I would need to make to each one before I would be able (or even want) to wear it. Too many. One big exception is Jane Sowerby’s lace shawl patterns. This issue has a great section on half-hexagon “fichus” or small shawls. She talks about how to fit lace patterns into the basic shape and there are several edging treatments including an attractive ruffle. Just up my alley — giving me the tools to make my very own version in any yarn. Another other useful article is by Cat Bordhi on her sock architecture with a lovely pattern for Spring Thaw Socks. I don’t much like them in white but that’s easy to remedy. The pattern for the Star Afghan by Sandra Daignault is also great and would work with plain or patterned yarn of nearly any dimension just like the shawls.

I suspect that nearly half of the patterns in this magazine were designed in-house which I think is where the problems lie. I’m not saying they’re all bad designs but it’s mostly not an esthetic that appeals to me. And I’ve heard rumours that other knitters are not particularly pleased either. When I look back on older issues of Knitter’s (I own every issue), there are many more nice-looking sweaters in them even though the fit on some is very oversized compared to today’s styles. Currently Interweave Knits and Knitty are far more up my alley and, judging by the number of Ravelers who have their patterns queued, other knitters agree with me.

I also got a couple of new books. The first one is the 3rd in the series by Linda P. Schapper, 300 Classic Blocks for Crochet Projects (hardcover). Linda’s books are to crochet what Barbara Walker’s Treasuries are to knitting: invaluable references to have on hand for designing. They’ve all been completely revised from the 20-year-old originals and the first two are on stitches and edgings while this book carries on with block designs in many shapes and includes both charts and written instructions. I just love paging through stitch collections and enjoying the many ways stitches can be combined into beautiful patterns. It makes my hands itch to start swatching. The examples here are all in plain ecru cotton so you need to have some imagination to see beyond the obvious. Just add colour and texture with your yarn choices. Though there is a certain beauty in plain cotton thread crochet.

In keeping with my current interest in the more artsy possibilities of what one can do with knitting and crochet, I also got 2 more books in this vein. First is Surface Works by Jenny Dowde (softcover). This is Jenny’s 3rd book and covers adding surface decoration to knitted or crocheted backgrounds. As usual she has quite a difficult job in explaining specifically what she did in pattern form because her design techniques are so very improvised and freeform. She gives lots of small motifs and embellishment ideas and then puts them into patterns for hats, bags, pillows, jewelry and sweaters. What she wants you to take from this is to try things out, change her patterns if you want, and then go ahead and create your own items. I do like the way Jenny doesn’t discriminate between knitting and crochet and switches or mixes them freely and also adds spool knitting, lucet, pom-poms, yo-yos and the like. But I can’t say I’m overly impressed with her results apart from the cover art piece which consists of beads, stitching, woven cloth and felt — no knitting or crochet to be seen! There are some good ideas to play with though and, as you can see from that particular piece, they aren’t limited to the obvious techniques.

It’s hard to describe what you do when it’s personal and instinctive and kind of organic yet give your readers the tools and incentive to experiment and find their own style. The next book, Contemporary Knitting for Textile Artists by Ruth Lee (hardcover), leans even farther than Jenny Dowde’s books into capital-A-type Art with knitting as the medium of expression. This book is more a series of techniques written out as experimental exercises and utilizing different yarns or yarn-substitutes such as wire, cord, and ribbon. The photos are more intriguing than illustrative and I think to get the most out of this book you really need to pick up the needles and try things out. But you’d better be good at working from words rather than diagrams or charts. Even so, Ruth is trying to free you from the written pattern and to work intuitively right into the third dimension.

Interestingly neither of these last two authors is from North America (and I’m not too sure about Linda Schapper either). Jenny Dowde is Australian and also does polymer clay jewelry and acrylic paintings as well as fibres. Ruth Lee is from the UK and has taught at Cumbria Institute of the Arts for over 20 years. She’s a knit designer and textile artist and I also have another book from her called Knitting Beautiful Boas & Scarves (2006) in which many of her ideas appear in a more wearable form. I know I said that I’m interested in the artsy possibilities of textiles and I am. But I’m still much too practical to make something just for art’s sake! So I amuse myself by reading and occasionally swatching a bit. Maybe one day I’ll have something concrete to show. Or not.

I have one more super-expensive but very special book that just came Sunday and I’ll talk about it in another post. Meanwhile it’s very strange hearing rain on the roof after it’s been sunny for so long. It’s a lovely reprieve from having to water the garden today and it even penetrated under the walnut tree. Yesterday I said I was taking a break but I still ended up out there weeding and watering for several hours. I can’t help myself! The results are looking pretty good though which is what’s keeping me at it this year instead of pooping out and letting it all go to seed like I usually do. Today I hope to clear out one of the 3 remaining attics. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Need A Vacation

I’ve been continuing to work very hard around here which is why I haven’t had time to even turn on the computer for the last few days. On Friday I cleaned off the deck furniture and put it back on the newly stained deck. I had to wash each of my cactuses off also to get off the grit and leaves and spider webs before I put them back on the big table. The big disocactus has about 2 dozen blooms coming very soon so I’m looking forward to how spectacular that will look. Here are some of the opening buds:

Then I just had time to make a birthday card for Milord Son-In-Law plus a potluck dish of blanched peas in ginger dressing with sesame seeds before we were off to the wilds of Surrey. We didn’t want to get caught in Friday’s rush-hour traffic so we left 3 hours before we were due to arrive at the birthday party. While we were waiting we went to nearby Bear Creek Park and went for a walk. We checked out the miniature train (it wasn’t running so we didn’t ride), the playground (where the kids were having a ball), and the gardens (lovely). We walked the Salmon Trail along the creek and finally sat for awhile in the car while I knitted and T-Man phoned his mom to find out how she was doing. We had spent 5 hours Thursday afternoon and evening with her in Emergency after she had a bit of a fainting spell when lunching with friends. Nothing wrong was discovered but it did give us a bit of a scare. Scared herself too! It was probably just stress.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Milord liked his Imperial Purple socks I made him and it was a lovely party with lots of chatting and munching. The birthday boy manned the barbeque himself so we had yummy hamburgers, hotdogs and veggie burgers. We sang both the conventional Happy Birthday song and the really funny dirge the local SCA like to sing: “Now we know how old you are; Your demise cannot be far. Happy Birthday (thump!) Happy Birthday (thump!)” There’s more, with references to “sheep” and such. I think there’s an infinite number of verses with more being improvised on the spot. We got home at nearly 11 pm which for us is the equivalent of 1:00 am so we slept in until 8 the next morning.

As if Friday’s walk in the park wasn’t enough, we went on our usual magazine/grocery run on Saturday morning. It was overcast but still quite warm so when we got back T continued his scraping the paint off the garage (and cremating the chicken on the barbeque) while I tediously weeded about 1/3 of the veggie garden and watered the whole thing. It rained some early Sunday morning but it barely watered under the trees so my time with the hose wasn’t wasted. I managed to make it to my knitting meetup on Sunday afternoon at the usual coffee shop. T stayed home to see The Ninja and Snow White and take the grandkids while their parents went to a movie to celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary. On the way home I met up with the train of Stargazer’s stroller pushing Princess Pink on the tricycle toward the park and joined in the fun. Later I cooked supper of slightly-singed leftover chicken quesadillas for everyone after their parents returned. It was a hit with the grandkids. Finding something that the Princess will eat isn’t easy sometimes. (Apart from her picking all my blueberries.) I’m tired today. Wonder why?

Unfortunately though the weather is nice this morning, it’s supposed to rain some more and be cooler this week. That might keep me out of the garden but it should be perfect for cleaning out the attics. However, today I’m on strike. It’s all been catching up to me and I need my batteries recharged. I’m going to read and knit until I can’t stand it anymore. Oh and do a mountain of dishes from yesterday, put away the laundry and maybe vacuum the main floor. Guess that’s not much of a vacation, huh?

Thanks so much for the kind comments on my health. The Dizzies are subsiding and haven't really slowed me down at all. (See above.) Wish I knew what causes it or how to avoid it in future though.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Bit O’This’N’That

Still rocking on that boat that my head somehow thinks I’m floating on. I still managed (between bouts of nausea) to get the fridge cleaned out yesterday. A lovely Sikh gentleman and his son showed up just before supper to fix it which took about 15 minutes. Just a new thermostat and now it’s working fine again. Fridges are supposed to be cold inside! Go figure. I’m glad it was relatively easy to repair because I do love that big old thing. Everything is arranged just the way I like it and it holds loads of stuff. With the freezer on the bottom (with a door not a drawer) everything in the fridge section is at eye level, no bending over to find the veggies. I was having nightmares about having to get a new one. It seems that they only come in white or steel these days, neither of which appeal to me. Almond has gone the way of the avocado green and harvest gold of the ’70’s now unfortunately. What is it with the stainless steel appliances craze? Is that what they mean by a “gourmet kitchen”? Because it looks like you’re some kind of professional chef? Too cold and industrial for my taste and besides it shows every fingerprint.

T-Man helped finish up staining the deck railings plus the one around the basement stairs. So now there’s only the front rails to do but they have to be cleaned first. We seem to be getting an awful lot done on the outside of the house this summer. Somehow we’re feeling pushed to do it. Maybe the perfect weather has helped? It’s been dry for a month and lately a bit cloudy in the mornings and not too hot. Couldn’t ask for better for painting and scraping and cleaning. The only drawback is the fact that I have to spend so much time watering everything. The lawn has been ignored (civic watering restrictions) and it already looks like it usually does at the end of August with expanding brown patches.

Cleaning the fridge inspired me this morning to clean the oven to match. But first I baked a crustless quiche. I put the last of our asparagus and garlic scapes in it along with ham and mushrooms and lots of cheese. Yum! I’m not feeling quite as bad as yesterday so I just keep plugging along. Playing the “As If” game with myself and trying to act as if the world was holding still for me. Sometimes it actually works.

Just thought I’d show some of the sock knitting I’ve been doing. First the A-Maizing socks that have been going on forever. They’re just past the side gussets on both:

Check out the cute heel flap treatment thanks to Criminy Jickets’ excellent Ridges & Ribs pattern. I think what’s slowing me down with this project is the elongated twisted stitches are rather difficult to accomplish in this yarn because of its splittiness. I have to make sure I have all of the plies caught on the needle. It wouldn’t be so bad if I was actually looking at what I was doing but since I try to knit while reading, that just slows me down. On both the knitting and the reading part. Plus there’s no deadline for these because they’re for me. So I also started the Purple Passion Socks which do have a deadline (or at least a general timeline). Unfortunately they aren’t any easier to knit while reading. But I love the pattern stitch:

The yarn is Knit Picks Bare which I dyed in a range of purples. The Bare yarn is very soft, softer than the usual sock yarns even though it’s still 75% wool/25% nylon, and you get slightly more yardage at 462 yds per 100g skein. I’m hoping to have enough left to make a pair for Princess Pink out of the leftovers.

So go check out the AntiCraft’s new issue (link in my sidebar). I love the Bat Shawl! Of course it depends on one’s twisted sense of humour, but the two Vlad the Impaler hats are pretty cool too especially the one with little people (impaled, of course) around it. Not that I’d make one but you have to admit it’s a pretty ingenious way of using cable and bobble stitches. I am tempted to make a shrunken head necklace though and the Algormortis tea cosy is great too. Perfect for celebrating International Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept. 19th, if you didn’t know). This is a really exceptional issue with lots of quite functional stuff for knitters. Alright then, knitters who are even weirder than usual. Quit looking at me like that.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I am totally out of it this morning. After teasing me off and on for the last few days, The Dizzies have returned in spades and I could barely stand up in the shower this morning. Hope they subside later today because I have things to do! I knew it was going to be bad though when, before even waking up all the way, I rolled over in bed and felt seasick. I stopped turning but the world didn’t. Oy. Not fun. And no use going to see my lovely doc because he doesn’t know what causes it either. Besides that would necessitate walking a kilometer on uneven streets (remember the Canada Line subway construction) and maybe not such a good idea under the circumstances. There’s nothing he can do but recommend Gravol for nausea and it’s not that bad. I’m pretty good at handling around-and-around motions. Must be why I loved hanging out on the roundabout at the playground when I was a kid! And we owned a sailboat for 15 years too. Lots of practice balancing while your world isn’t cooperating. Meanwhile I will try to knit and relax. And ignore all the stuff that needs doing.

Also we had another crisis with the refrigerator yesterday where the freezer was fine and it was running properly but the top fridge section wasn’t getting cold. We stuffed it full of ice packs like a giant cooler and T-Man did his magic with the hair dryer on the vents in the freezer. Luckily we have a big old chest freezer in the basement so we had lots of ice bottles and a place to put the freezer stuff. It seems that the vents get clogged with ice and then the cold air doesn’t circulate as it should. This is the 4th or 5th time it’s done this so methinks a repairman is in its future. I need to it clean out anyway and make sure there’s nothing icky hidden somewhere behind the bags and bags of peas from the garden. More work I can’t do right now. Sigh.

OK enough of the pity party for poor little Damselfly. Could be worse.

Meanwhile I’ve got several inches of the Purple Passion Socks done. I’m liking the little Double Lace Ribbing pattern from Charlene Schurch's More Sensational Knitted Socks book. It’s a simple 4-row rib and zigzag lace combo. A little narrower than my usual socks on 64 sts, these ones have only 60 sts but it’s a stretchy rib so it should fit fine. Photo coming soon when there’s enough to show.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fibre Content Alert

Yes, I do still have something else to talk about besides my house and garden. Today we have a Finished Object. One that I finished so quickly I never even had time to mention it here.

Peeenk Tam
for Princess Pink (to go with her Peeenk Cardi)

Begun: July 18, 2008
Completed: July 21, 2008

Yarn: SandnesGarn Smart superwash, colour 4715 (rose pink), 100 metres = 50 g, 1 ball.
Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns, 4mm.

Pattern: Basic Tam Pattern from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd. Size 18 months to 4 years.

Comments: Ann Budd's generic pattern made it pretty easy to plug in the seed stitch border and 3 rows of the eyelet pattern from the cardi. I used the Wheel-Shaped Crown with the "subtle seams" and a short i-cord on 3 sts at the top. I blocked it on a 9.5" plate because I don’t like tams too large. I ran a strand of clear elastic (Stretch Magic bead cord) through the band edge and knotted with two overhand knots just to make sure it stays on because seed stitch isn't stretchy like ribbing. It turned out really cute and large enough to be worn for awhile. If she'll wear it at all!

I still have 2 balls of this pink yarn left and I’m trying to decide if I can stand to make anything else out of it or if I need to exchange it for something else. Like sock yarn. Working with this DK weight yarn has made me realize that I prefer finer yarns. This is probably the maximum thickness that I ever use. It might have something to do with so much knitting of socks and shawls. You kind of get used to the thin yarns. Or maybe it’s the feel of the finished fabric. Worsted weight just feels too bulky and heavy to me. It might be the fact that the longer you spin the finer the yarn you produce, but my heaviest handspun is only around 1100 yards per lb and is probably in the “3 Light” category in the Standard Yarn Weight System. Most of the time I spin something around fingering weight and sometimes go as fine as laceweight yarn, depending on how I plan to use it. I try to stay away from “frog-hair” even though I’m perfectly capable of spinning that fine. It’s just silly to have to ply several times before you can even use it for anything! Except maybe singles for weaving…

Next I cast on for another pair of socks, Purple Passion for my sweet sis-in-law’s upcoming birthday. She’s been going through a rough time recently trying to help get Auntie 90 settled in care. Because SIL is a respiratory therapist she has some idea of how to deal with the medical system and Auntie is suddenly no longer able to live in her home because of her health. Nana, my MIL, is one of Auntie’s two relatives with Power of Attorney but she really doesn’t want to have to do the job. The other relative is T-Man’s cousin and neither he nor his wife are much happier with the situation. Meanwhile Auntie is in hospital and is quite happy with all the attention and 3 square meals while a more permanent situation is located. I wish she could go where my mom was but I don’t think that’s a possibility. Now of course Auntie is regretting not having made better plans before her health deteriorated. 20/20 hindsight indeed. Nana, take note! And Auntie 92 as well. I’ve got quite a ways to go before it’s my turn but I’m sure paying attention.

You know how when you’re a child and the time seems to go so slowly, especially if you’re waiting for something like math class to end? And then as you get older time goes faster and faster and the seasons flip by like the calendar pages in those old movies. I feel like we’re trying to do so much this summer while the weather has been good that it’s going by much too fast. I ended up spending about 4 hours staining the deck railings yesterday yet they’re not finished yet. Today I took advantage of the cloudy weather to work in the garden for a similar amount of time. I now smell like dead fish again. But I still feel like I barely brushed the surface of the work that needs to be done. Maybe I should just shut up and enjoy the moments as they pass? And quit worrying so much about it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dizzy Damselfly Returns

I have been quiet for the last few days but I’ve been really busy. On Friday I managed to clean one of my attic spaces, the one with the spinning equipment that mostly belongs to my guild. It’s small and it didn’t have any loose insulation or plastic sheeting so I didn’t need help with this one. I wore full haz-mat gear: long pants, long-sleeved shirt, hat, gloves and dust mask. I hauled everything out and vacuumed the whole space, dusted everything off and put it all back. That took all morning (3 more attics to go!) and in the afternoon I scrubbed the top deck on hands and knees with a scrub brush. This one has a textured plastic liner to protect the storage shed underneath. The texture collects dirt like crazy. It took scrubbing 3 times to get it more-or-less clean. Then I had to take Citrus-Solv to get the black bits off that were left from the roofing shingles. That exercise took all afternoon. When T-Man got home he started scrubbing the cedar bottom deck but then wimped out and finished with the pressure washer. At least I can now sit at the table on the top deck. Unfortunately the bottom one is still out of bounds for the moment. You’ll see why in a minute.

On Saturday I went out to Maple Ridge’s cute little Country Fest to demonstrate spindle spinning. The day was gorgeous, sunny and warm and the fest was like an old-time one with tractor pulls and sheep dog trials, popcorn and quilt displays. Our booth was in the ice arena (no ice but cool anyway) but the building was at the very end of the fair grounds and not many made it that far so it was fairly quiet. We shared the arena with a number of other local guilds and several fibre vendors so it was a congenial bunch anyway. There were also a few fibre animals on show: Jacob sheep, angora goats, French angora bunny and alpaca. I apologise because I had total camnesia even though I did actually remember to bring the camera. Must have been because my hands were full of wool. Yeah, that's it.

However, I managed to spend a few dollars and picked up some super-soft cream-coloured yak and some baby camel down to spin, some vintage afghan hooks, and some more white 8/2 cotton for more tea towels. (Yes, I know I’m supposed to work from the stash but I ran out of white for the warp.) I got a lovely surprise when Milady Daughter showed up with her friend Yvette because neither of us knew the other would be there! Of course I managed to convince her to get some of the lovely fibres too. In a phone conversation with her husband she rightfully blamed me for enabling her! I was glad I brought my handspindles because nobody else was demonstrating with a spindle. There were oodles of Lendrums and other wheels going though. My companion (and driver) Diana was weaving shadow weave samples and we also showed several children how to weave on our demo table loom. Get ’em while they’re young, I say.

I missed getting a long walk in this weekend and nearly 8 hours on my feet demonstrating doesn’t count. On Sunday we went grocery shopping with the car so we could pick up big items like laundry detergent and toilet paper, plus replenish the meat supply in the freezer for subsequent barbequing. Normally T and I just walk but then we’re limited to how much we can carry home. And that’s usually uphill too depending on which grocery store we go to. One of the perks of living in our neighbourhood is that there are at least 3 big chain groceries and 3 or 4 specialty grocery stores within relatively easy walking distance. Not to mention our favourite fruit and veggie store. And in summer, the once-weekly farmer’s market. And if none of those is quite enough there’s always the Granville Island Public Market that’s only a little farther. And we won’t even mention the plethora of cafes and restaurants in every flavour. The eatin’s are pretty yummy around here, I tell you.

So I have to tell a funny story. I ended up making a couple of meatloaves for dinner with half and half ground pork and beef, onion and herbs from our garden, salt, pepper, eggs, ketchup, Worstershire sauce and rolled oats (old family substitute for bread crumbs). When I dumped in the oats I unintentionally used some that I had mixed up with oat bran and cinnamon for porridge. Oops! The cinnamon gave the meat a very interesting flavour. Luckily not bad at all. Not that I would do it on purpose again though!

Also on Sunday afternoon we started in on staining the faded deck back to a lovely redwood colour. It’s weird stuff but it's looking really good after it dries. We used up a whole gallon of stain and T had to run out for another jug, the last one on the shelf. Which reminds me I should be out there working on the railings right now but I’m taking it a bit easy today. I had a recurrence of the dizzies yesterday and it’s still there in the background today. Is it possible I’ve been overdoing things? Have I mentioned that summers are definitely not lazy around here? Crazy, yes. Lazy, no.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun & Games

Just to show that I haven’t been totally idle this week, here’s the scoop on the socks I finished yesterday:

Imperial Purple Socks
for Milord Son-In-Law

Begun: June 19th, 2008
Completed: July 16, 2008

Yarn: 2 balls Phildar Preface, 70% machine-washable wool/30% nylon, 211 yds = 50 g, original colour Metal 060 (one strand each white, lt gray, dk gray) dyed purple in LWI technique using acid and Lanaset dyes.
Needles: Addi Natura bamboo dpns, size 2mm (plus one bamboo skewer after I broke a needle).

Pattern: Garter Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. I worked it in my usual Damselfly’s Basic Sock Pattern on 72 sts, 8” before heel flap, re-oriented sock sts slightly to put a k2 rib at beg and end of instep, EOP heel stitch, scant 8” before toe decreases, dec to 24 sts, dog-ear reduction.

Comments: I like this pattern. It is fairly easy to work (1 round plain, 1 round k2/p2 rib), gives a bit of stretch and looks very smart. The finished socks look rather long and skinny off the foot though!

Meanwhile I’ve been trying to ignore the racket and the mess and amusing myself by reading blogs and knitting. I picked up the A-Maizing Socks again and am past the heel turns on both. I’ve also decided to make a tam to go with the Peeenk Cardi since I have several balls left of the yarn. No idea whether the Princess will wear said tam but you never know. It should go pretty quickly!

OK, the roofers are finished. And just to show that my whining wasn’t all for naught, there has been somewhat more damage done than I expected. There’s a huge gouge out of my lower cedar deck. The gutters look like hell. There is still a lot of trash around that they missed picking up. The roof itself looks a whole lot better than it did but our work is just beginning to put things to rights again. Here’s what the inside of just one of my 4 attic spaces looked like before the plywood went on:

Yes, that is the sun shining in through the roof! And the insulation down where the staples popped out of the plastic sheeting. What you can’t see is all the dust and grit that will need to be cleaned out. Times four. Bleh. They were all clean and organised before this all started. And it’s about 1,000 degrees in there (F or C, take your pick). This is going to be fun. Not. Can I wish for cooler weather next week? Or would that be a mortal sin since we are actually having summer in July for once.

Have I mentioned that there is a new house being built just two houses down the alley from us? My noisy workmen just finished but theirs just started. As T-Man says, “Let the games begin!” Unfortunately being hard of hearing doesn’t help. Thank goodness for my podcasts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Whining Warning

OK, I’m totally tired of this roof thing now. I can’t concentrate on anything. I want to weed my garden. I want to stash dive in my attic. I want silence. I want air. I want it to be finished. I’m sick of leaving everything on hold while they rip and hammer and tear and crash and bang…

Thank you for letting me vent. I feel better now. Got some of it out of my system anyhow. When I get stressed I want to clean obsessively. Somehow I never have that problem the rest of the time. (What’s up with that?) Unfortunately it’s pointless to touch anything around here at the moment. I’d just have to go and do it all over again when they’re done. Instead I’ve been making myself go out and water my garden at the crack of dawn. You know. Before it’s all covered in roofing crap and blue tarps. It’s so lovely and cool out there at 6 am. The bad thing is that the weeds are growing along with the veggies and I just haven’t had time before the workmen arrive to do anything much. As soon as they show up, I want to go hide in the house. As if that’s any safer! Or quieter. The good thing is that I’ve been getting a lot of reading done because I’m certainly not going to houseclean with this going on. When they’re finally finished all of my attic stash spaces are going to need a thorough cleaning and vacuuming. Plus some of the icky old Fiberglas insulation has fallen down where there was no stapled-up plastic sheeting to hold it in place. That will necessitate dust mask, hat, long-sleeved shirt, and gloves to remedy. Eeww. OK, I’m totally tired of this roof thing now. Oh yeah. I said that already.

Another thing to complain about is the Imperial Purple Socks. They’ve been going swimmingly except that I was perilously close to running out of yarn before the end of the toes. This yarn, Phildar Preface, is new to me but the yardage should be fine even for a man’s pair of socks at 211 yards per 50g ball. Does the fact that so much of this Garter Rib pattern has purl stitches made it use more yarn than usual? Or the fact that they’re on 72 sts instead of my more usual 68? I did manage to make it with a little more than a metre of yarn to spare on one of them and maybe 2 m or so on the other. Now that’s cutting it close! They’re currently slowly drying in my airless bathroom because I can’t put anything outside right now.

The roofers are getting there. They’re doing a great job. I am enduring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Swimming Underwater

There’s not really any water around, but with all the blue tarps on the south side of my house it feels like I’m living in an aquarium. I keep half-expecting fish to swim by outside my windows. The workmen didn’t finish yesterday so they left the tarps up overnight so they wouldn’t have to put them back up today. And yes, they asked first. It’s weird not being able to see out my windows though. I had to turn on the lights to cook our slightly odd-coloured dinner last night.

Speaking of food, I’ve been growing some of our veggies, fruits and herbs for a very long time. As frequent visitors to Damselfly’s pond might know, I’m a huge grow-your-own fan. I even grew stuff in boxes on a flat tar-and-gravel garage roof when we were renting. (The only way to get to it was to walk “the plank” across a 15-foot drop. My kids will tell you how exciting that was when they were little.) I’m a big believer in local food and eating what’s in season. Living where I do in this little piece of Lotus Land on Canada’s wet…er, west coast, we have a very different type of growing season than many do. Our frost-free season is very long, usually from early to mid-April to sometime in October. However, things grow much slower than you might think because it’s often overcast and sea breezes make it relatively cool. I still have purple sprouting broccoli in my garden that is celebrating its first birthday! (The replacements are currently starting to grow in a pot in the greenhouse.) The “real” broccoli is still pretty small and I haven’t picked any yet. But it’s coming along:

Some things do really well and some things don’t. And which ones those are will change from year to year. You have to have patience and experiment. This year, I’m so happy to report that I have summer squash! Aren’t the flowers pretty? Here’s a boy one and a girl one snuggling:

Yes I know, an over-abundance of zucchini is a running joke. Not here. For whatever reason, I haven’t been able to grow it properly for several years now. I also have little yellow pattypan squashes too. I love those. Unfortunately the lady who sells them at the farmer’s market won’t be selling me any this year (but perhaps some winter squash instead). I also have heaps of salad greens: lettuce, arugula, and mizuna. I was buying arugula last year but not this one. Though I can’t grow spinach (leaf miners) or any of the root veggies such as radishes, carrots, or kohlrabi (rust flies), we luckily don’t have some of the problem bugs that other places have such as squash borers or Japanese beetles. My biggest pests are sow/pill bugs and slugs/snails. And late blight on the tomatoes. Which is why they live in the greenhouse. Currently the Juliet (Roma-shaped cherry tomatoes - indeterminate) are up to the roof and the Alicante (red vine) tomatoes aren’t far behind:

The determinate yellow Taxi already has little green fruit setting:

It’s a jungle in there! We can’t really grow the hot-weather stuff like cucumbers and peppers though I try always to choose early varieties if anything is going to mature properly at all. But that’s ok. Really sometimes when my garden delivers it does so in spades! Right now it’s peas:

And blueberries just starting:

I feel bad when there’s lovely local produce at the store or the farmer’s market that I don’t need to buy because I have my own. Guess that’s not actually a big problem though, is it? We atone for this buy buying lots of the stuff we can’t grow, especially fruit like strawberries (sadly already over for this year), cherries, apricots, peaches, and later in the season wonderful apples. And then we pig out because I don’t freeze much (usually only my blueberries and blackberries). We just don’t use it for some reason. I prefer my produce fresh.

I think I need to leave soon. They’re busily tearing off the rest of the roof today. I feel sorry for putting my poor house through all this trauma. It will be better when they’re done though and we’ll be warm and dry this winter with no worries about rain and wind and ice or anything like that. Unfortunately it’s really hard for me to concentrate with all this shaking and racket going on overhead! I want it finished. Soon.

By the way, thanks so much for all the kind comments on my Circus Blanket! I really appreciate your perspective because I’ve been staring at this thing for much too long and it started to look like clown barf to me before it was finished. Nice to know it’s appealing to view as well as to sleep under. I’ve been happy that it’s been cool enough to need it at night, though poor T-Man was too warm with it tucked in on his side. Once he pulled it out he was fine. I prefer my side safely tucked in. It’s not only more comfy, but I’d be blanket-less by morning thanks to T’s rolling over and taking the covers with him. Even in our double sleeping bag I end up with the zipper down my middle by morning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Serene Weekend Over

After puttering around for the last couple of days we’re back to the roofing today. It really was lovely to have some peace but I also want this job over with asap. The back of our house is now covered in tarps:

and more old roof is coming off. At least they left me the front door or I’d be trapped in here! I already had to close all the windows on a sunny summer day. (Yes, I learned my lesson last time.) Help, I’m buried in a sea of blue…

Anyway, while it was quiet this weekend I was finally able to finish the blanket and it dried quickly on a line strung over the deck in the sun. So here’s the details:

Circus Blanket

Begun: July 27, 2007
Completed: July 13, 2008 (nearly a year since I started!)

Loom: Woolhouse Gertrude 45” 8-shaft countermarche
Yarn: Warp & weft — Condon’s 2-ply medium, Briggs & Little Heritage and one or two unknown wool 2-ply yarns. 32+ skeins of various colours (some overdyed). 2 extra dyed black skeins for crocheted edging.
Warp: 324 ends (40.5” in reed) by 11 yards long.
Sett: 8 epi (1 per dent in 8-dent reed)
Weft: 8 ppi (approximately square)

Weave Draft:
8-Shaft Pinwheel Twill

Comments: Since I'm using old yarns in various colours, the warp was wound in random alternating stripes each a multiple of 8 and woven the same way. The colours blend in the plain weave areas and show individually in the floats. The pinwheels show best when the crossed colours are the same or similar, but I'm not taking full advantage of the colour-and-weave design.

Wove 10 yards and cut into 3 lengths of 120". Multi-zigzagged the cut edges with the sewing machine. Laced sections together with a strand of yarn. Crocheted around with 3.75mm hook in Pointy Edging (my own pattern design).

The huge piece of cloth shrank down to approximately 93-95" square (not including edging), which is more than 20% take-up and shrinkage in both directions. This is fulled somewhat more than most blankets might be for thickness and warmth and to stabilize the long floats. It came out a bit smaller than I had anticipated and somewhat unevenly fulled in the washing machine. I did end up chopping off the selvedge knots at the seams as the blanket was drying. The edging is still wavy even after a hard pressing with a hot steam iron but I kind of anticipated that. My finished blanket is very firm and warm and it fits the bed just fine. And it’s heavy! But I slept really well under it last night.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Am A Dork

Yep. I’m home today resting my obviously befuddled little brain. I was all prepared to head out this morning until I got a call from my demo partner last night (seconds after I had just fallen asleep) to tell me I’d gotten it wrong and it wasn’t until next week! I actually had the date of the Country Fest thingy written down incorrectly from the beginning months ago. So I can’t even blame my mistake on the stress of the re-roofing. I was actually happy she called (though I probably sounded like a complete doofus) because I was then able to sleep peacefully and wake up knowing I didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything in particular today. That feeling was almost worth my mistake. Nah…

So my house seems very quiet today. We have our little table out on the upper deck again temporarily. I can think. No fear that my house is coming down around my ears! I can work in peace which means I’m nearly finished the edging on the blanket. I’d like to get it done today and into the washing machine so it can dry before the mess that’s coming on Monday. The weather is hot and sunny so it shouldn’t take long. There is one little glitch — some of the violet-blue yarns are pulling out of the stitching at the edge and I have no idea why them and no other of the yarns. It feels somewhat different but it had no label so I have no idea if it has some other fibre (nylon?) or something that makes it more slippery than just plain wool or if it’s just a different type of wool. It’s certainly stronger because it’s harder to break than the other yarns. I hope it doesn’t do something awful when I wash the blanket, like seersucker or popping out or whatever. I know. I should have sampled. But I’ve worked with the yarns before and didn’t expect this one to be any different. It would serve me right to assume, wouldn’t it? Anyhow I hope I can repair the problem without making it ugly. Or uglier, anyway.

I was very sad to have to throw out my oldest pair of Birkenstocks, circa 1991. I guess they’ve had a good long life, huh? For the last few years I’ve been wearing them out to the garden to protect my bare feet but watering in them has completely destroyed what was left of the footbed. So I succumbed to a pair of black Croc-wannabee plastic clogs that were only $8 on sale. They dry instantly and protect my feet better than the old busted Birkies did so they are already an improvement. My first instinct was to get a bright orange colour but the muddy garden aspect made me go with black so they wouldn’t immediately look terrible. They are easy to slip on and surprisingly comfy though I wouldn’t want to go on a hike in them. I also had to repair my newest pair of Birkies. There were some issues with the cork on the toes starting to come apart. Some E-6000 glue and a number of small clamps seem to have worked fairly well and saved me from taking them to my shoe repair guy, Tito, who would fix them perfectly but charge me lots for it. I don’t really tend to be hard on my shoes but I expect them to last for many years. Probably a lot longer than the manufacturers had in mind.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Adventures In Roofing: Day 3

It was pretty weird seeing cracks of daylight through my attic roof yesterday. I should have shut the windows too because the strong winds blew a whole crapload of black grit into the house which had to be vacuumed up. I’m not touching the attics yet which also are full of grit at least until they’re done. When the noise and dust got too bad I went down in the basement and hauled out the Shop-Vac and cleaned half of the basement while listening to podcasts. When T-Man got home we left for a long walk and dinner at the local sushi joint.

Here’s what the house looked like when we got home after they left last evening:

(No, they didn’t leave the front door open — I did.) What you can’t see are the broken rhododendron branches and the flattened plants. They tried to avoid damaging them, just not hard enough. Today they are finishing up that side and cleaning up the rest of the debris. They apparently don’t work weekends and they still have at least 2 more days to go so they won’t be done until Tuesday or Wednesday. The stress goes on.

There is good news though. I found two different things that I was missing. One was my original backup hard-drive that I lost over a year ago! It was…wait for it…buried in yarn in a drawer. One that although I’ve glanced in it, I haven’t rummaged through in all this time. Since then I bought a new back-up drive, one that I like much better. Maybe I’ll use this one as well and have more than one going for absolute security. You can bet I won’t misplace it again anytime soon. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way!

Another thing that I found was a whole ‘nother ball of the black yarn that I need to complete my blanket edging. Now I don’t have to dye anything. Yay! I’m glad I held off on that until I was absolutely sure I’d need it first. The moral of this story is to go hunting through my stashes more often because you never know what I might find that I forgot I need.

Speaking of stashes, I had to go out to Birkeland Bros and buy more wool for tomorrow’s demo at the Maple Ridge Country Fest. {ETA Apparently I'm not capable of reading a calendar. The demo is NEXT week!!} Not that I don’t have any wool (heh! I could supply the store!) but that I can’t get at it in my attic space which is covered in plastic and grit and dirt. My guild has a booth (with Wilfred the Moose, remember him?) at the Country Fest and I (foolishly) volunteered to demonstrate spindle spinning with a hands-on component if anyone is interested in giving it a go. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to concentrate but at least I’ll be somewhere without an air-compressor going. Have I mentioned how much I hate the sound of the air-compressor? Even with my hearing aids off the racket around here is pretty awful. Better than yesterday when they were tearing off the north half of the old roof though. Now that I know they aren’t working tomorrow, I’m almost regretting that I won’t be here to enjoy the silence. But there’s always Sunday. I plan to relax on Sunday. Because on Monday they start on the south half of the roof. Oh joy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Poor House!

I never realized how traumatic getting a new roof would be, both for us and for our house. The drywalling up here on the top floor is amateur at best (no it wasn’t us!) but this is some of what happened yesterday after loading all the supplies on the roof peak:

There are quite a few of these splits where the mudding and taping cracked away, most of them not as bad as this one. So we’ll probably end up having to do some repair and repainting. Sigh. I wasn’t planning on having to do this right now. Of course since it’s in my studio, I’m the only one likely to see it so I can always ignore it until I feel more in the mood to tackle the repairs. Of course the company has tentatively volunteered to repair it but I think it would be easier in the long run to do it ourselves. I’m sure we could do a better job than the original one, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, my old garage now looks like this:

Big improvement. And yes, it does have a definite swayback. It’s over 70 years old after all. (So does my house. And it’s probably worse now than it was too!) Now to replace the eves troughs, finish stripping and paint the walls. The door is going to be violet-blue instead of red. The big door will be blue too, with red and brown trim and white walls.

It’s very windy today and the guys are having troubles up on the house roof. Their tarps won’t stay put and everything is blowing around. Yes, they have harnesses on. And hardhats. There is a safety guy that comes around and checks if they don’t play by the rules. And another couple of guys that check on their work. And yet another guy who makes sure we’re happy with the job. They are very competent and friendly but I’ve discovered it is rather stressful having people banging and stomping over your head all day. And I thought it was bad when it was all happening next door! Now I know why T-Man went to work today after working from home yesterday. They should be done by Monday or so anyway.

Crunch. Grind. There goes my old roof!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Roofing Begins

It feels like many earthquakes up here in my study. My monitor is wobbling. The roofers have started (ahead of schedule!) and they’re putting big loads of roofing shingles up on my wonky old roof.

It’s actually rather freaky! I spent the early part of the morning before they came putting extra plastic over all the stuff in my kneewall attic spaces. Hope it’s going to be enough! We also moved all the stuff (flower pots, tables, chairs, barbeque) off the deck and hopefully out of their way. T drove the MINI out of the garage. In the 2 hours since they started they’ve already stripped the garage roof.

Professional and efficient. I think the main crew is Filipino. I must trust them all to know what they’re doing and that my house and garden are not going to be totally destroyed in the process!

T-Man is working from home today so he can be around just in case there are questions or whatever. He already helped me with moving things. I didn’t want the crew to move my cactuses because they were draped over the railing and there are more than two dozen flower buds on my big disocactus. T and I were very careful with them and moved the whole table over beside the greenhouse. It’s a perfect day for roofing, high cloud but dry and relatively cool. For me it’s safer to stay in the house! I can’t watch much anyway. Scary.

I think I’ll just take it easy today and try to stay out of their way. I hope to get my blanket finished so maybe I’ll work on it in the living room. The deck is kind of occupied.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


When you have an enjoyable garden, big trees to provide cool shade and a double-layer deck with a pleasantly tinkling water feature, why ever would you go on vacation in the summer? The roads and ferries are too crazy, the beach resorts and parks hot and crowded, and it’s just not fun — at least for me. Without the restriction of having children in school, we can go away in September when the weather is usually nice but cool at night for sleeping and the roads and campsites are much less busy. I adore traveling in the late summer even though the evenings aren’t as long. We’re planning on heading out down the coast to California this year. Maybe we’ll even get further south than San Francisco for once. (And maybe all the fires will have subsided.) Meanwhile, I’m enjoying bringing my fibre work out on the deck and puttering in the garden. I also have plans to start on the bathroom which is in dire need of painting. We’ll see how far I can get on that without T-Man’s help.

Today though I’ve promised to look after the grandkids while their parents go to the dentist. I need to vacuum but that would be pointless until they leave so I’ll just run the dry Swiffer around to pick up the wood chips that T dragged in on his clothes after running the mulcher/chipper. His t-shirt retained an interesting smell from the gas that totally reminded me of when he worked at a service station (while going to college full-time) when we were first married. It’s funny that smell reminds me of our youth and is almost romantic! Yeah, that’s weird, I know. Shut up.

I got 1/4 of the way around the Circus Blanket with the Pointy Edging that I unvented. Here’s the cute double-pointed corner:

And here’s my first clip-on stitch marker holding my last stitch from unraveling:

Yes, it does resemble an earring but it’s not! That little green bead is one of T-Man’s lampwork beads, just for fun. I still have to make more of these markers but I’m obsessed with finishing the crochet on the blanket above all else. I fear I’m going to run out of the black yarn somewhere in the last quarter of the distance but I have a skein of the same yarn in blue-grey that I can overdye to match close enough if I have to. I won’t dye it until I see if I actually run out first though. It’s a pretty colour that I’d like to use for something else if I can. You know how it is when you’re about to run out of yarn. You work faster and faster as if that will help stretch the yarn to complete the piece! Either that or you just want the bad news quickly so you have more time to decide what to do about the shortfall. In my case I just want to finish the darn thing! There are only 19 days to go before its first birthday which is my self-imposed deadline.

In other news, the poor VW van got it’s left mirror broken by a gardener’s truck yesterday morning. The perpetrator actually kindly left his card with our across-the-street neighbour but hasn’t returned T’s call yet. It’s only the mirror that’s broken so hopefully it shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive to repair. When a vehicle is nearly 20 years old it gets rather tricky to fix it sometimes because specialized parts are rare and at a premium. If they’re available at all. T says that he treats our van like an airplane —replacing parts as they wear out and keeping her in the best running order possible. There is nothing new out there that’s enough like it to replace her with. She hasn’t even depreciated all that far even though she’s so elderly. And we loves our Fraulein Blau (Miss Blue). Even if cheeky Velvet the MINI Cooper usurped the garage.

Monday, July 07, 2008


We’ve recently found a way to spend a whole huge chunk o’change on something that’s absolutely important to our wellbeing but, alas, not terribly exciting. As I might have mentioned before our poor elderly house needs a new roof. Badly. The only company who responded to our request for an estimate also happens to be the best if not the cheapest one around. It’s been in business almost as long as our house has so that’s gotta count for something. It’s a very good thing that I put aside some of my inheritance from my late adopted mom. (Thanks, Mommy! Miss you!) Because the rising price of oil has caused the price of roofing shingles to also increase and of course we need to have the whole shebang stripped right down to the rafters. I had a big concern about all my stashes and equipment that are stored in our knee-wall attics but apparently the insulation covered in plastic sheeting should prevent most of the debris from getting into things. I’ll need to throw more sheeting over anything not in covered boxes just to be sure. And I’ll probably be hauling stuff out and vacuuming afterward anyway. But at least I don’t have to try to fit it all in the inner rooms while it’s all going on! That would just be too much.

I don’t have the worst job however. T-Man had to climb up to cut some branches away from the garage. There were walnut and chestnut branches of a pretty hefty size that met over the garage. The estimator guy was kind enough to supply us with a roofer’s brace that nails into the peak but T didn’t need it. Luckily he is fairly comfortable with heights. It’s a job that would cost big bucks if we had to get someone professional to do it so it’s great if we can manage ourselves. T still has to remove some arborvitae branches over the house and he also wants to check on the eaves while he’s up on the ladder because there may be some rotting wood that needs replacing. Then there’s the debris that needed to be dealt with! Good thing we have a chipper. Noisy old beast but it works great.

While we’re at it, we will have the company replace the flashing on the skylights and chimneys and add a roof peak vent system. Since the roofers don’t have the tools or skills for it, we have to pay for a professional to do the chimney flashing which has never been done correctly before. After all that someone needs to scrape and paint the eves. I’m sure as heck not going to fuss around under there 25 feet off the ground myself! Eep. But it really needs help badly since it’s all dirty and peeling. This last weekend T-Man painted all the lower wooden slat part of the house. Above that is white stucco so it just needs maybe a light pressure washing to clean it up. After all this house repair, it’s going to look pretty good. As long as you don’t notice the fence is falling over. It’s just never-ending. Sigh. Of course the only people I know who ever get it all done then promptly sell their house, so maybe never finishing is a good idea? I really don’t want to move!

In fibre news, I’ve gotten all the way around the Circus Blanket with single crochet. It isn’t perfect (a bit thick and some of the mess shows through at the back side) but it’s the best I could do. Hopefully some of that will disappear or at least blur when I finish the whole thing in the washing machine. Now I’m hoping that I have enough black yarn left to go all the way around a second time with a pointed edging I came up with. It seems to be taking forever but it’s a gigantic piece of fabric. Good thing it’s a bit cool today even though it’s mostly sunny. A perfectly lovely early summer day actually.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Wee Sprinkle

It rained a bit today, just enough to make us use our umbrellas. We walked up to Oakridge shopping mall to get some tea and coffee from our favourite Murchies store. The nice thing about Oakridge is that it’s uphill. That means the return trip is down and after a meal at the White Spot (hamburgers, sweet potato fries with chipotle mayo — yum!) I could almost roll home. My hips and knees still haven’t quite recuperated from our adventures on Thursday so it was very welcome to go in the opposite direction for a change. I’m pretty fit for an old granny but my friend Arthur Itis is a pretty constant companion and he reminds me when I’ve overdone things.

It barely rained hard enough to penetrate the walnut tree’s canopy so I’m glad I spent quite some time yesterday watering the back garden and T-Man watered the front. It does feel damp though, even in the house. I kind of like it. It feels like we’re camping and the air is full of familiar mossy and leafy smells. Speaking of leaves, here’s the second big head of Esmeralda lettuce that I’ve picked whole (as opposed to snitching some of the outside leaves):

Ain’t she purty? This type does very well in my garden and seems to be only minimally bugged by slugs and my archenemies, the sowbugs. It’s very crisp and bolt- and disease-resistant. Tastes good too. I’ve got more in several stages of growth, hoping to not have them all come ready to pick at the same time. We’ve also picked lots of peas, finally! The snap peas are a little behind the snow peas but that might be because the plants are over 2 metres tall! Monster peas. I’m going to have trouble picking the ones at the top because they’re growing out of my reach. Kind of like the scarlet runner beans do. Speaking of which, those are growing about 15 cm a day (6”) or more and are racing for the top bar of their support. Nearly there!

I was right that I wasn’t going to get any more done on the Circus Blanket but I’m hoping to do some work on it tomorrow morning. T is on-call this weekend so can’t get too far from his computer just in case something comes up. Otherwise the Imperial Purple Socks are nearly up to the heels on both and everything else remains untouched for the moment. I need to get the blanket put to bed, so to speak. Har-har.

Friday, July 04, 2008

That's Gotta Hurt

I’ve been listening to the flickers drumming incessantly on the telephone poles. They are calling their mates and defending their territory and especially like to drum on the metal caps at the top of the poles where it creates a much louder noise that you can hear a block away. I don’t remember them breeding around here in quite such numbers before so I’m trying hard not to be annoyed with the racket. They are beautiful birds and I love their different calls.

So we had our Spectrum meeting yesterday on the deck. In spite of the fact that a few were a bit chilly, it didn’t rain and the sun actually peeped out just as everyone was leaving. I of course was toasty warm under part of my 4 kilos of wool blanket and got the last seam stitched up and half the knots retied in the time I had. I did offer to cover up the cold folks with it but it would have meant rearranging our seating which would be awkward for working on everyone’s current projects. I ended up lending out my wool and cashmere shawl instead.

Later T-Man and I walked down to Granville Island and I got some supplies from the bead shop for moveable stitch markers. They had some round lever-back earring hooks in silver colour:

I’ve never seen this earring shape before and I think it’s just perfect for this type of stitch marker. They are useful mostly for crochet because unlike knitting there is no place to leave a ring between stitches. With a clip-on stitch marker you can hook it into a stitch and then when you come to it again, unclip and move it to the next stitch to be marked. This ability might also come in handy occasionally in knitting where you want to leave a marker in but still allow it to be removed later. Now I just have to find the perfect beads to decorate them with. Of course I also bought some matching eyepins for the beads. Plus some larger split rings to make regular stitch markers since most of the ones I have are quite small and don’t fit on the larger needle sizes. I got them in both silver-coloured and blackened metal so I can have several sets. I’ll be practicing my wire wrapped loops with all these!

The gallery opening was fun and we chatted, nibbled, sipped wine and looked at the wonderful clothing and jewelry on display. T-Man threatened to eat the poor silkworms dipped in hummus but we discouraged him. The Silk Weaving Studio are raising several very small groups of silkworms and they are very interesting to view munching away on their mulberry leaves. The tiniest ones are less than a centimeter long but there were large fat ones which were the ones T was eyeballing jokingly. The walk home was rather a marathon though since we took a longer way along the seawall east through where they’re building the Olympic Village for 2010. There was a finished seawall section with sculptural seating and plants and even a new pedestrian bridge but none of the buildings are completed yet so it was all blocked off from the walkway with tall fencing. The fencing directed us a couple of blocks out of our way and after that it was all a steep uphill slog (and well past our bedtime) when we finally staggered home. It was fun though to see all the changes going on by False Creek.

This morning I finished sewing the button on the Peeenk Cardi, which is still a bit damp 36 hours after its bath due to the rather humid weather we’ve been having. So here it is:

The Peenk Cardi
for Princess Pink

Begun: June 16, 2008
Completed: July 3, 2008

Yarn: SandnesGarn Smart superwash, colour 4715 (rose pink), 100 metres = 50 g, 5 balls.
Needles: Addi Lace 24” circulars, 4mm. Crystal Palace bamboo dpns, 4mm.

Pattern: Eyelet Yoke Cardigan by Sarah Hoadley, free pattern on Lion Brand website. Modified by me for DK yarn and completely circular construction in size 4.

Comments: My pattern re-jigging worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself. The circular construction worked fine and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it might be to join the parts before working the yoke. I got 7 rows of eyelets instead of only 5 with the finer yarn and I think it looks more delicate. As usual this sweater will be large on the recipient but that gives her lots of growing space. However it might have been better with 3 buttons rather than only one.

OK, I’m off to do a huge pile of dishes from our potluck lunch yesterday, water the whole garden, make the bed and finish 4 loads of laundry. Maybe I’ll get a chance to get started on the crocheted edging for the Circus Blanket. Or not. That chore list looks rather long.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy Anniversary To Us!

My T-Man and I have been married for 37 years today. It’s been a wonderful, close and respectful relationship. I probably mentioned this before but we met and fell in love when we were very young, between our 18th birthdays (which are just over a month apart) and just out of secondary school. Because of our extreme youth we were forced to wait two and a half years until we finally got married at age 20. We are “life-bonded” or “soul-mates” or whatever foo-foo word you want to use to describe it. He is my world and I know I’m his. Weren’t we cute? Don’t laugh. It was 1971 after all. And I like to think there’s still a lot of the flower child in both of us. My hair is a lot shorter now though.

This is a short post today. Got the Spectrum Study Group (whoever is left in town anyway) coming over this morning. We plan to continue on our Word-Inspiration Bag Project. Haven’t touched mine since the last meeting. I don’t feel too inspired about it methinks. Maybe I’ll work on the Circus Blanket instead. I was somewhat disappointed that it’s currently sprinkling rain because I wanted to host this on the deck. Maybe it’ll clear up in time? Or not.

Later T and I will go down to Granville Island and go to a gallery opening at Diana Sanderson’s Weaving Studio. A bunch of my buddies are in the show with their wonderful work. We’ll probably save a fancy dinner out for another day.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Blanketing My World

I seem to be moving right along on both my current active projects. This must be because I’ve been staying out of the garden for the last few days except to water as necessary. It was also considerably cooler yesterday and today which meant that the huge and heavy wool of the Circus Blanket wasn’t quite so hard to take. It now has two pieces joined and part of the third.

Well I’m back! Betcha didn’t know I was gone, didja? We had a short-lived power outage so I went outside to water the garden while I was waiting for it to come back on. Now where was I?

Oh yeah, the blanket. The first photo shows where I was lacing the two parts together, a weft loop from one side then a weft loop from the other.

This is a smooth join and nearly invisible in plain weave but a wee bit more obvious in this pinwheel twill. I used two warp ends at each side that wove in tabby so I wouldn’t have to use a floating selvedge so the join isn’t quite continuous. But since the weft stripe colours don’t match up either, no big deal. It might have helped if I hadn’t used such a light-coloured stripe at the edge of the warp though. I decided that since the knots were helping to secure the two sides together, I would do the dirty deed and untie and re-knot them all in a square knot. The next photo of the underside shows the old overhand knots on the left, a retied knot in the centre and the ends snipped so the knots are almost invisible on the right.

It’s a lot of work but I’d be afraid of things coming apart if I just chopped off the knots entirely. I’d rather go for durability than perfect beauty. The blanket will mostly be under the other covers on my bed anyway. I haven’t quite decided what I will do with the last knotty edge when I work over it while crocheting around the whole blanket. Maybe it will be secure enough to cut them off there. It will all meld together much more when I full the whole thing heavily in the washing machine anyway. That’s going to be a big job. But first, more work to do.

The other project that’s heading for the finish line is the Peeenk Cardi. I’m midway on the yoke and it’s looking just right. My pattern version in a smaller gauge seems to have worked out fine. I’m into the 5th ball of my total of 8 and this one will take me to the end with plenty to spare. Now what to do with the leftovers? Matching mitts and hat perhaps? Pink is certainly not my colour at all (at least by itself) but the Princess loves it. Unfortunately she’s not much on wearing warm hats or mitts no matter how cold she gets.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy 141st Birthday, Canada!

As a very proud Canadian (no, that is not an oxymoron) I celebrate my country and her beginnings way out east in 1867. Nice of them to let us West Coast folks join in a couple of years later too, wasn’t it? The most common word used to describe Canada and Canadians is “nice” and really that’s not so bad, eh? We aren’t perfect by any means but we live in the best part of the best country in the world. But don’t tell anyone that, OK? They might think we’re boasting or something. Poor T-Man has to work today so my celebrations today will consist of wearing red and white clothing, perhaps a toast to Canada rendered in local beer and cider, and then we’ll both attempt to get deeply asleep before the fireworks begin at 10:30pm. I’ve resisted painting a maple leaf on my face however.

So I’ve been working on the Peeenk Cardi and have the sleeves attached now and I’m just getting into the eyelet part of the yoke. It was a bit tricky to do the 3-needle bind-off at the underarms but it looks pretty good except for some holes on either side that will need remedial action to close up. Better than sewing all the side seams and the underarm seams, that’s for sure. The holes mostly happened when the stitches at the sides of the underarm got stretched out some because it was tight going for the first 4 or 5 rows of the yoke. For the tightest first row where I was taking in the sleeves, I used a spare dpn to help spread out the stitches more. I knit a number of stitches off onto it and then transferred them to the right-hand point of the circular and it worked quite well. Onward to the neck now.

I finally managed to cut the 10 yards of Circus Blanket into 3 pieces and am starting to lace them together. With a blunt needle and a long piece of yarn, I pick up a selvedge loop from one side and a loop from the other side and draw the yarn through. On my original Marigolds & Feverfew Blanket, you can barely see the joins but it’s a bit more conspicuous on this one. I’m somewhat regretting my shortcut of just tying the tails together at the colour changes but there’s no way I was going to weave them in every 8 picks. However that leaves knots at the seams that I’m not sure what to do with. If I cut them off, they will leave a spot where the lacing thread will pull out. If I leave them in, they will be lumpy. If I untie them and try to weave them in, I’ll be back to the gazillions of ends to deal with that I was trying to avoid in the first place. If I machine stitch to secure the ends, the thread might not shrink up with the wool and I’ll have wavy seams. Any ideas? I was planning to just leave the knots on for now and full the blanket first and then decide what to do with them afterward. Though I just thought that if I change the overhand knots to square knots they will be less lumpy. Then maybe they will be relatively unobtrusive if I leave them in. Hmmm…but that means picking out and retying 446 knots. Erp.

Remember my woad? It’s grown a lot especially in the last few days while we’ve had some nice hot weather. Come to think of it, so has the rest of the garden. There are baby peas finally! And baby tomatoes and yellow pattypan squashes too. I’d show you pics but I’m too lazy to go out there in the sun to photograph anything. Later maybe. Right now I wants me some lunch.