Sunday, February 28, 2010

Been Kinda Busy

So where did I leave off last? Oh yeah. I was right about my hearing aid problem and it was exactly the same thing as last time – only on the left one. The receiver gets really weak resulting in the part needing replacement. It was also interesting that both times it happened a short while after they were checked and okayed by my audiologist. Odd. It cost me another $30 but at least they work right again.

I forgot to show off the bison yarn in the finished skein:

BisonSkein That’s a dime to show scale. It’s approximately 360 yds and 2 oz. And sooooo amazingly soft! I keep cuddling it. I used the Yarn Abuse method of finishing so it’s very fluffy and stable. One cute account of this process is here. (Please ignore the little inaccuracies. For starters that’s “Boxing” Day. And we always run around showing off our handknits in Vancouver. Not just one day a year. Heh.)

Then there was the problem of what pattern to use. It’s for a gallery show for my guild’s 75th anniversary so, since weavers tend to make rectangles, I wanted something with a different shape that would stand out. (And probably give them conniptions trying to figure out how to display it!) There are other options of course, but I thought a triangle lace scarf or small shawl would be best because apparently I’m addicted to wearing such things. Then the hunt for the right pattern was on.

It was harder to choose than I thought because I didn’t have much yarn, can’t easily get more if I run out, and didn’t want it too simple or plain. I don’t really have enough time to design my own and this yarn doesn’t really much like to be frogged if it isn’t working. So I settled on Gail (Rav link) by Jane Araujo. Then I read a bunch of the comments by those who have knit this pattern before. There’s lots of them! And many had trouble with the fact that though it’s a lovely pattern, it’s not written very clearly. Instead of seeing if perhaps there’s a way of editing it better, the designer seems to have gotten rather defensive. I guess because it’s a free offer, she’s given up on it and moved on. Meanwhile, others have noted their helpful solutions. And it doesn’t seem to have stopped over 1300 knitters from trying it anyhow! Me included.

I decided first to use Knit Visualizer to re-chart the main pattern. That helped me see it better and to locate the repeat. Then I dove right in! It’s addicting:

GallopingGail_progThe name may change but so far I’m calling it Galloping Gail, thinking of the bison we saw at Antelope Island in Utah and the Buffalo Gals brand of bison fibre, which I read somewhere is one of Judith MacKenzie-McCuin’s enterprises. I hope I don’t run out of yarn because the only place I can find to get more of this bison is through Carolina Homespun. Apparently Wild Rose Fibres (my Canadian source) doesn’t have any more, at least not on their website. I think Judith has a deal going with Morgaine at Carolina Homespun to distribute her yarns and fibres anyway so that’s probably where they got it in the first place. It’s certainly cheaper than the Buffalo Gold brand - US$15 vs US$42 per ounce! I have no idea how they compare in quality. I found a wee bit of VM and a few stray guard hairs but nothing too annoying. This scarf is costing me C$40 just for the fibre alone! It’s going to be very nice though.

So, gotta go watch Canada’s hockey team bring us our last medal of the Games. Knitting with my buds is the best part! I’ll leave you with this shot by T-Man of the little sharp-shinned hawk who was eating at our birdfeeder yesterday. Guess nobody told him he wasn’t supposed to eat the birds at the birdfeeder?


S’okay. I forgive him. He’s gotta eat too!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Watching The Computer Screen

I am really grateful to the old innernets for allowing us to watch the whole of the women’s figure skating yesterday and the ice-dancing the day before. The regular TV channels we had available to us weren’t showing the events, except for tiny snippets. They missed Canada winning ice-dancing gold! And yesterday’s skate by Joannie after losing her mom suddenly only a couple of days ago was heartbreaking. And she still scored third! (One more skate to go tomorrow for medals.) Yeah, I’m paying way too much attention to sports. How uncharacteristic. What can I say? It’s catching around here. The Host City Effect.

Meanwhile I’ve spun up about 3/4 of my two little (expensive!) ounces of bison. I’ve really been enjoying the spinning but it’s tricksy stuff! Still occasionally gets away from me but now I’m wise to it and am able to get started again without too much difficulty. Just don’t let go of the end or the twist immediately escapes and it turns back into a handful loose fibres. Very resilient stuff! And only about an inch long. Otherwise it kind of reminds me of qiviut. I’d love to know how many yards I will have when I’m done. The pattern I knit will depend on that factor.

It’s raining this morning (and snowing up the mountains!) but I’m hoping it will quit before I have to go out. I will be very happy to get my busted hearing aid finally fixed. It’s been driving me nuts for about a month now. I was too busy to bother taking it in to the audiologist before. At least this walk is uphill. That means downhill on the way home for once! I have no desire to take public transit today. It’s been really busy according to the traffic report, particularly because of the rain. And the hockey, of course.

Back to spinning. Maybe I can finish up the singles before I leave.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Home Where The Buffalo Roam

I’ve been trying to get back on track with my crafty stuff after focussing so closely on The Talk for so long. After I dug out all the fibre samples from the stash (aka Attic Insulation) I got excited about all the yummy stuff in there. I also promised, perhaps foolishly, a scarf for the Guild’s 75th Anniversary display at the Seymour Art Gallery. If it’s knitted, it must also be handspun. So I dug out the tiny bags (only a couple of ounces total) of the bison and put the lace flyer on Tori (the Louet Victoria wheel). I used the 13:1 whorl (second-smallest) so it wasn’t going too fast and creating wire. It was surprisingly difficult getting started! I’m kind of out of practise and this short (short!) fuzzy stuff got away from me a couple of times. Once it did, it was hard to get it started again because it kept breaking. I learned to put lots more twist in it before even trying to join in the fibre source again. Here’s the day’s results:

BisonYarnSpin You’ll notice how I wasn’t being as careful to load the bobbin evenly as I should. Bad damselfly! Out-of-practise-damselfly. I didn’t want to stop in case I couldn’t get started again. I have another bobbin’s worth to go however, so there’s lots more chance for improvement. I should have it just about right by the time I’m finished! I have no idea what the yardage will finally be after plying but if there’s enough I plan to knit a lace triangle, exact pattern TBA. Yes, I know I haven’t finished either the socks or the green cardi yet. So? I have an actual deadline for the scarf: April 15. Deadlines count first.

It was really enjoyable spinning out on the deck in the sunshine yesterday afternoon. I had to wear a hat again to keep the sun out of my eyes! (This time it was my own hat, not T-Man’s.) However today looks more like February: cloudy, with rain forecast for later. I’ll probably be walking in the rain tomorrow morning when I have to take my hearing aids to the audiologist for repair. The left one has developed what I think is the same problem as the right one did a year or so ago. It still works but it’s too quiet as if one program is broken. Last time I think it was a broken wire and after they replaced a piece (for $30) it’s been working fine since. Hopefully it won’t be any more expensive than that. I do try to take good care of my “ears”! Anyhow, I need to get some tea while I’m at the mall. Mmmm…fresh Murchie’s #22 tea. Slurp.

Heading for the teapot…

Monday, February 22, 2010

O. My!

Since we’re paying for these festivities we decided to partake of just a little taste of the excitement downtown. So yesterday T-Man and I left around 10am to walk down across the Cambie Bridge to see what was happening. Here’s our front door in its festive garb:

Door It echoes in miniature the city’s decor. See? Here’s City Hall:

CityHallTheir flag is somewhat bigger than my flag! The weather was glorious and we soon realised that though we thought we had dressed fairly lightly, we were still wearing too much clothing and not enough sunscreen. We ran into more and more crowds as we walked over the bridge, many heading to the first of the day’s 3 hockey games. Red and white clothing, flags and face-paint everywhere.

We continued on, passing line-ups for Bell’s Ice Cube, and decided to go into the Aboriginal trade centre in the Vancouver Community College building which had many booths full of impressive artwork. This one particularly caught my eye:


A humourous dragonfly by Daniel Tom. He kindly allowed me to photograph his piece, made from stone, shell, wood, and aluminum. It’s 16.5” from nose to tail and worth $12,000! Urp. I’m glad he didn’t underprice his work but he admits he can’t afford it either. His other pieces were very interesting also including a hot “Vixen” which was quite arresting as I walked up, before I noticed the dragonfly. I always appreciate art that is unique but not pretentious and his somehow hit the right note for me. Some of the other stuff there tended to be somewhat trite. Though not a pair of these that T-Man nearly purchased. (The buzz was too busy in front of this booth.) He might still!

Where was I? Oh yeah. We continued on down to the waterfront where there were already lineups to get into Deutcheshaus (Germany House) and the crowds were thickening fast. By the time we passed the Pan Pacific Hotel it was crazy with people:

Crowds Everybody had their best party faces on and were all having a good time but it was a squeeze to get near the flame:


Surprisingly, it looks like cheap tinfoil up close! Much prettier from a distance or at night. There were long lineups to get up to the viewing gallery too so we skipped that and headed back toward Robson Street. I tried to capture the person going overhead on the zipline:

Zipline Even embiggened he’s still a dot up there. The lineup for this ride of mere seconds takes upwards of 6 hours! Crazy. Then we went to Granville Street to see the Lantern Trees:

LanternTreesA closeup of all the work the schoolchildren did:

LanternsI’d love to have seen them at night when they’re all lit up from within. After watching all the people taking photos of each other in the sports cut-outs (and not succumbing to it ourselves) we walked south on Granville Street to a pleasant-looking seating area in front of a restaurant/pub. Our feet were tired by this point and we were starting to get hungry and thirsty. Here’s T-Man:

RelaxingTWithout his big leather Aussie hat because I was wearing it to keep the sun off my face. Here’s me relaxed:

RelaxingAhhh. Perfect. We had yummy chicken club sandwiches as well as the English cider (mine) and Mexcan cerveza (his). I shared my fries with him and he shared his salad with me and we were quite stuffed. Not too stuffed to start waddling back home over the bridge, this time on the western side:

FalseCreekThat’s a big police boat in the middle there, with the practicing dragonboats waiting until it pulled in to the wharf alongside that huge yacht on the right. There’s a pontoon barrier just underneath us here keeping boats, except police, out of the inner section of False Creek beside the Olympic Village where the athletes are staying. Talk about security!

So how come it’s always uphill on the way home? We were pretty tired by the time we got back. We passed a lot more people heading downtown, though I guess because Canada lost the hockey game with USA it was much quieter last night. I didn’t even wake up to the fireworks.

Yeah, I know we missed a metric tonne of venues. One can only do so much, waiting in lines is not a preferred option, and not everything is of interest anyway. It was a fun adventure and we were glad we went but we’re back to hunkering down again and just watching stuff on TV. I have to admit that I’ve watched more than I thought I would – while knitting less than I’d like! Good thing I didn’t sign up for the Knitting Olympics, huh? One more week to go.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Done Good!

Yippee! My talk went well, if somewhat overtime. They were practically kicking us bodily out of the community centre at 10pm so they could close up. I knew it was a bit long but didn’t want to cut anything out. I think some eyes were completely glazed over by the end! It’s just like how I pack – too much stuff rather than less. More is more! You never know when some random piece of information will spark a mind. Or boggle one.

It was lovely to see some of the local young knitters showing up for the first time. They got a little lost on the way but managed to find us before the boring general meeting part was over and the good stuff started. I hope some of them come back to visit again or maybe even join us! We can always use some youth and enthusiasm to counteract us old jaded folks. A little more “yes, lets!” instead of “been there; done that”. I can’t say the latter isn’t me too sometimes. I think I really have been there and done most of it.

It was a great experience for me anyhow. I found I wasn’t even nervous after I got everything all hooked up and ready to go. I was really glad I’d had a couple of dress rehearsals though or I wouldn’t have known how to set up the projector quickly and efficiently. I didn’t have any help except for setting up the screen. It was somewhat scrambled at the end with the hands-on portion. I didn’t really have enough time to set out the samples carefully. In retrospect, I should have done that while the executive meeting was going on but thought it wouldn’t take as long as it actually did. Oh well. Oils well that ends well! Done and done.

I got a few comments that I should publish my information. Not as easy as it sounds! At least not in print. I scarfed photos from everywhere and only a few were mine to use. I would have to take all new photos or actually get permission to publish them. Big huge MAJOR job! And I’m sure I would never recoup enough for the work it would take. It already ate up most of January and February as it is! But I might just publish the words (which really are mine) here on the blog with links to further info on the web. Probably I’ll have to do it in a several segments since it’s 15 pages of type! If I give it a unique tag and links in the sidebar then it would be easily accessible. Don’t hold your breath though – this could take a little time to set up.

I’ll take the samples to my Spectrum Study Group as well – likely in April since we’re planning a field trip to the Royal BC Museum in Victoria in March. I know they wanted a closer look and a chance to ask more questions. And several weren’t able to be there last night. Meanwhile I’ll have to put the jumbled samples back together again. I had lots of lovely assistance bagging it all up and putting it back in the basket but I was the one who was just stuffing it in!

On with the rest of my life. The sun is out, the grass is riz, and I have to go do dishes and fill the bird feeder. The chickadees are yelling at me to get a move on, they’re out of sunflower seeds! I can’t vacuum (heh!) because T-Man is working at home. We’ll be going for a walk when he’s done at 2pm. I need some of that fresh air and sunshine and spring blossoms. And I’ve been promising photos, haven’t I?

Don’t feel too envious of our early spring though. It could have disastrous effects on our BC fruit crops if the bursting buds freeze. And it was pretty cold last night too. The Olympic folks are happier anyway now that their snow isn’t disappearing at an alarming rate. Though it’s dreadfully icy up there. And we got another gold medal in ladies speed skating! Whoo-hoo! It was incredibly noisy out there last night will all the fireworks and the extreme sound system blasting forth music at all hours. I’m kind of underslept today. But I’m hoping they all had fun partying without me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

At Least The Sun Is Out

I think I was being too optimistic yesterday. I read my talk out loud for the first time and…meh. I have to do some pruning because it takes over an hour. And some of it sounds dumb. Reading in my head and out loud are really two different things. I just discovered that. Make a note.

I have until tomorrow evening to finish this, set up the projector one more time and do a partial dress rehearsal. Why am I going to such trouble? It was actually rather fun – up until yesterday anyhow – and I just want to do it right. Right now I’m going to flake comfortably in bed and finish editing one last time. I so want this to be done and over. Remind me not to say yes next time someone asks, huh? It’s much too much work.

In crafty news, I’ve nearly finished one leg of one of T-Man’s Hedgerow socks. Slow going. And I screwed up the decreases on the back section of my resurrected Green Star Cardi. I have to frog an inch or so and fix it. I did finish the right front though and I think it looks good. I hope. About half finished now, I’d say. Not sure how long I’ll make the sleeves. Maybe elbow or just below – if I have enough yarn. Also slow going. It’s impossible to knit when my hands are covered in ointment, which happens about 6 times a day.

Speaking of ointments, I’m finally down to weekends only on one of the five different things with which I have to plaster my soles and palms. The dermatologist’s office finally said that my fungal infection test was inconclusive so they’re sending it off to the provincial lab. While they’re debating over it, my feet got super itchy again and I only get relief from the anti-fungal stuff. Doh! Since Doc Serious-D won’t give me the prescription for the oral med until the results come back from the lab, I’m using the topical I got from Dear GP. Ooh, treating myself! How daring. I think the reason things aren’t clearing up is because there’s two different problems at the same time: psoriasis and a chronic fungal infection. And they’re egging each other on. One gets a little better and the other gets a little worse; then reverse. Sigh. I hate being a battleground.

And speaking of battles: Yay! Canada won another gold medal! In ladies snowboard cross which, contrary to my usual attitude, is kind of fun to watch. Now we have 2 gold, 2 silver and a bronze – last I looked. Caught some of the men’s figure skating too and it was so cute when that American dude was crying into his black feathers. I thought his performance was breathtaking! Who cares if he didn’t do a quad-whatsit. I have no idea how they count them when it goes by in a blur anyway.

Nevermind. Back to work, damselfly.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Take It Back

OK, apparently you can injure yourself seriously while skating around and around really fast. Our speed skater, Jeremy Wotherspoon, has a 14” steel plate complete with screws in his arm from a past incident. I guess when you’re trying so hard to win, serious accidents are sadly always possible. I think I’ll stick with walking to the store.

I’m done the Natural Fibres slide show! Yay! Now I’m just tweaking the words to go with them and hunting down and labelling a few more fibre/yarn samples. As I was waking up this morning, I had a flash of inspiration on how to display them. I was going to pass around a basket while I talked but I think it’s better if I just put them out on a table or two and let the audience have at them after the slides. They’ll be better able to see and feel everything with the lights up and it can all be spread out. They also won’t be missing my fabu slides and deathless prose! I’m so smart.

At least I wasn’t kept awake by the revellers downtown last night. I could hear them as I went to sleep but it wasn’t too loud. Everybody is certainly having a good time! I’m happy enough just to catch a few glimpses of the events on TV. The weather is improving today and I’ve noticed lots of buds and flowers out already. I think we’re a couple of weeks ahead of schedule this year. I hope to have some pictures for you tomorrow when I have more time. Just to make those who are still experiencing winter envious!

Alright! Back to work. I need to do some serious housecleaning once I’ve printed out my talk. This place has been going downhill for days. Without skis.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Not Only Red But Gold Too!

Man, was it loud celebrations last night for Canada’s first gold medal of the Games! There was music and drumming and yelling “Go Canada Go”. I could hear it all the way from downtown while lying in bed without my hearing aids in. I was just dozing off when the fireworks woke me up and they went on and on. I’ve had enough trouble sleeping through the constant helicopters and planes flying overhead as it is. This place is Party Central like I’ve never seen it before!

We managed to catch the gold medal run in freestyle moguls on TV – more by accident than design. Ouch! Crazy game. Glad I’m not his mom, just saying. I’d be proud but worrying myself silly at the same time. At least the ones who skate around in circles aren’t playing with their lives the way some of these athletes are. The older I get, the more I value my life, health and wellbeing. But then I’ve never been good at any sport so what do I know? I’m not much on competition personally. But I can get excited for the winners and feel great sympathy for the losers anyhow. Except for the guy skiing for Australia who lost to Alex. He’s an ex-local who brazenly creates computer malware. My comment: pfffttthhhh!

Meanwhile, I gave it a big push yesterday and I’m about 3/4 of the way done the slides for my talk. It’s actually been kind of fun putting them together. In contrast to my usual care, I’m shamelessly “borrowing” most of the images off the web using my google-fu skillz. I figure it’s for educational purposes, a one-time only thing. Plus I’m not planning to publish or profit from it, so nobody’s really being ripped off. It takes far too much time to find what I need copyright-free or to ask permissions for each image – if that was even possible. I do have a few of my own photos and a couple that were kindly sent to me by Lesley Prior, UK breeder of fine cashmere and angora goats plus rare Bowmont sheep. This is shaping up to be pretty interesting, if I do say so myself.

I’m really not much of a public speaker (though I can talk your ear off one-to-one!), but I can write ok so I plan to pretty much read my talk rather than wing it. Fortunately I’m not really nervous because this is just like hanging with a group of friends and I’ll know most of the audience – some of them for more than 20 years. And I’ve gained some confidence in myself over the years. There was a time when I had trouble voicing my name to a small group of strangers. I credit my weavers guild for providing me with a friendly, warm and comfortable space in which to grow. I’ve been a Member for a full one-third of the GVWSG’s 75 years of existence and there are lots who’ve been there longer than I have! It’s a great bunch of fibre folks.

So because I haven’t had time to take any photos myself lately, here’s a hint of where I’d rather be right now:

D18_02 Washburne fr north2Somewhere where all I can hear are the cries of the gulls and the lap of the waves… 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Painting The Town Red

It’s RED all over around here – especially today. What with the Canadian patriotic fervour for our Olympic team, plus the fact that it’s not only Valentine’s Day but also Lunar New Year. The latter is big news in this town of many Asian immigrants. We’re welcoming in the Year of the Tiger, which is my Chinese astrological sign (and T-Man’s) as well. So there are Canada maple leafs, red tuques and mittens, hearts and flowers, red lanterns and auspicious red Chinese characters everywhere you look.

Speaking of that O-Thingie that’s taken over my city, I did manage to see one tiny little segment of the Torch Relay last Thursday. Though I have no idea who the woman who ran by me was! It was a bit disappointing in that I expected something more than a couple of C*ca-C*la trucks with dancers and another from The Sponsoring Bank. (How exciting. Not.) The cops didn't even stop the traffic but just kind of maintained a bubble around the central action. The people in the streets were pretty enthusiastic anyway, running out in the street and taking photos of themselves with their red paraphernalia. Even though it was raining all the little kids from the nearby school were out with their flags and red mittens. Hey, it was only three blocks from my house and I needed a few groceries from the store right on the route. I just timed it well. Heh. Yeah, I had my red umbrella up!

And did you catch the Opening Ceremonies on Friday? Personally I thought they were just fantastic – beautiful and moving – and it made me feel such pride to be Canadian. My favourite bits were the Native dancers, the whales and the punk-Celtic segments. (My kind o’music!) The lighting effects were totally amazing and left me wondering how they did it. Too bad about the leetle teensy glitch at the end. But hey, it was live! Stuff happens in real life. (As that poor luger found out. Sympathies to his family and friends.)

So now they can all play their games and win (or not) their medals and we can all get back to what passes for normal around here in Lotus Land.

Meanwhile, back at Damselfly’s Pond, I won’t even elaborate on the “fun” I’ve been having trying to locate 3 different fleeces for a workshop we’re having in May with Anne Field from New Zealand. The wool has to conform to particular numbers of crimps per inch – fine, medium and “bold” (my fave new term). And we don’t have many local farms with suitable sheep and nobody I’ve heard from is planning to shear in time. So I’m trying to track down people willing to sell me something resembling the right stuff. It ain’t easy. Especially for the “bold” which you think would be the easiest one to get. Not so much. I have lots of Romney in my stash but it’s all washed and no longer in very perfect lock form, which apparently we need. Luckily I still have a couple of months though I’d like to get this done ASAP. Just so I can stop worrying about it.

Plus I’ve been slaving away on my slides for my talk. Time’s getting very short and I’m not nearly done yet. At least PowerPoint wasn’t so bad to figure out. My version is the old 2003 and it’s pretty straightforward: type in the text and paste in the photos; resize them and arrange them to look nice; next slide please. At least I have the digital projector here and was able to make a test run. It worked fine, except that I had to adjust little Bluet the Netbook’s resolution to match the projector’s. (She has a weird long narrow screen.) OK, time to go to work and make more slides. I only have a few more days.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Food Thoughts

It’s Auntie Bubbopants’ fault. I got to reading her current Ravelry newsletter column on food and recipes, plus all the comments, and realised that:

  1. Bubbo almost always has good suggestions – on any topic.
  2. I don’t eat like most other people.

Six years ago we started eating what I call Low-er Carb. Not super low. Not following a particular diet guru or plan. Just generally staying away from too much sweets, grains and breads. I’m still not thin by any stretch but I’m much healthier with way more energy and less unpleasant digestive problems. I don’t really miss anything because I don’t really deny myself anything. If I’m craving a bagel, I have one. But not a big one and not every day. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth anyway (except dark chocolate, of course!) but do I enjoy the occasional cookie or ice cream. Or wine. Our homemade white wine is a big problem since it’s impossible to only have one glass because it’s So Darned Good! Currently I’m trying to keep it down to a glass or two a week instead of three per day. Good Damselfly! Gold star!

But I look at all the food available at the coffee shop (plus all the fast food places and most restaurants) and I read the popular recipes and…I just can’t go there. At least not very often. There’s just way too much bread, pasta, rice and unnecessary sweetening for me. OK, I do occasionally indulge in sushi. It’s addictive! But sometimes I pay for it later with tummy burbles. And yes, of course pizza, though we get the kind with thin flax crust so it’s not so bad. What I’m trying to say is that I’ve pretty much totally changed the way I eat. I guess that’s actually “we” since T-Man is stuck with my cooking!

The best part of this is that I’ve developed a taste for vegetables that I would never have eaten before. Kale, eggplant, parsnip, turnip, jicama, leeks, sweet potatoes, edamame, shiitake mushrooms. Who knew they could all be so delicious! We go to the market at least once or twice a week to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. I buy no canned and very little frozen veggies because fresh tastes better and it’s more fun to see what’s available in season. I’ve also learned how to roast veggies in the oven, either on their own or with a roasting meat. Oh my! Delish.

Eating like we do might be considered expensive because it’s the fillers, the grains and pastas, that are cheapest to buy. But you really need less of the good stuff to fill you up so it actually works out to not that much more. We don’t buy a lot of prepared items which are more pricey than fresh ingredients. And we don’t eat out very often. T always takes his lunch to work – usually leftovers from dinner because apparently I still can’t cook the right amount for just two people. Heh! Besides, as long as we can afford it, isn’t our continued good health worth the cost? I don’t know too many people our age who aren’t taking meds for high blood-pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. We are free (so far) from all these problems (touch wood) and I didn’t even get a cold or flu all winter (touch wood again). Now if only I could get my psoriasis cleared up! But then my life would be perfect and we all know that would just be asking for trouble.

All right. Back to the salt mines – aka the fibre stash. I’m nearly done hauling out the touch samples for my talk and about half are labelled and bagged. I found a whole bunch of bits and bobs of this and that that would make fabulous novelty yarn combinations. Can’t wait until I’m done the prep for the talk so I can play in the bins. One week to go!

Oh, nearly forgot. Happy Birthday to my dear mother-in-law (aka Nana, to her 7 grandkids and 13 – I think – great-grandkids)! And many more happy returns!

Nana(I was going to say her age but decided that she’d kill me. Not that she reads this or anything.) She has invited us, along with T’s brother and sis-in-law, to her house on Saturday evening for a potluck dinner and a look at vintage family slides. Should be good for a bit of nostalgia.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Oil Slick

That’s my new nickname. You could solve the peak-oil crisis with the amount of petroleum on my skin. It’s really quite ridiculous the amount of time and energy it takes to put each different ointment on at the correct time and in the correct order. Man, I have the most pampered feet ever! The frustrating part is my hands are mostly too greased up to knit. And we won’t even mention the amount I’ve gotten on my poor keyboards! Both of them (big desktop and little netbook) are shiny. As are the mice. There’s just nothing like a slippery mouse. Oy.

Meanwhile, I’ve pretty much finished the words for my talk on natural fibres. I need to let it sit for a little while before I read it over one last time. It has to feel less familiar, like someone else wrote it, before I can give it the final edit. I’ve also collected up a bunch of pictures, some better than others, to illustrate each fibre. These have to be put into individual PowerPoint slides. Then I have to dig out all the fibres, decide if I need to spin a small sample or if I have some yarn already in the stash, compile, label and bag each set. Just over a week to go. Better get busy, huh?

But first I want to show you some things. Such as Spring:

CrocusesThese are the crocuses I was telling you about. Not quite as open since it wasn’t sunny when I finally took the picture. I just love the way they’ve naturalised themselves along several properties and on the boulevard.

And we have more Spring:

FirstSalad This is the First Garden Salad of 2010. The arugula actually grew in the greenhouse from seeds I planted last fall. There’s also a wee mizuna and a larger gai lan sprout from the only ones to survive the December frosts. Plus a few leaves of corn salad (mache) and some garlic chives. It was all very yummy with some raspberry walnut dressing!

On Saturday we went out to the garden shop to get my seed packets. The shelves were already diminished so the gardeners are getting pretty antsy around here to get planting! They had a sale on phalaenopsis (moth orchids) and I fell in love with this one:

Phalaenopsis Must be the purple and chartreuse together, huh? Hope I can keep it alive.

What else? Oh yeah. There’s also these:

Sock-It-To-Me Mitts

For: T-Man

Completed: February 7, 2010


Comments: This project began with a pair of socks that I had knitted in July 2006 for T and where he had finally worn out the feet. There weren’t any holes but the soles were generally thin enough to see through so a number of holes were probably imminent. No point in darning – only drastic measures would work or I’d have to give them the old heave-ho. To avoid that, I decided he needed a pair of fingerless mitts (since I love mine so much). I chopped off the foot just above the heel flap, ripped down the leg until it was a nice length for mitts minus 1/2”, picked up the loose stitches and knit 6 rounds of 2/2 rib before binding off in pattern. I measured down to what I thought was an appropriate place for the thumb, clipped a stitch in the centre of where I wanted the opening and picked out the stitches to either side, freeing 14 stitches. I put each 14 plus an extra half-stitch (picked up one at each edge) on a needle on the top and bottom of the opening. 30 sts total. Joined on the leftover yarn and knit around, decreasing the extra half-stitches by knitting them together with the next st thus avoiding holes in the corners. 28 sts rem. I knit 7 more rounds plain then switched to 2/2 rib for 6 more and then the bind-off. Lots of ends to darn in!

These are not my favourite thumbs. I prefer the ones with proper gussets. Plus I think the thumbs could have been situated down another half-inch or so to leave enough above them to cover more of the fingers. However, T is happy with them and I managed to give a worn-out pair of socks another life. Good enough.

OK. Bye for now. I have to go apply another layer of ointment. Oils well that ends well! Hah.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Another Blodgie Sweater

I was really enjoying yesterday’s sunshine. There was a patch of gorgeous purple crocuses that have naturalized themselves in drifts on the edges of the sidewalk a block or so from here and they lifted my heart when I walked by. Today is drizzly and dark. Much more normal February weather though it’s still unseasonably mild. My feet just about toasted last night in the socks I was obliged to wear after plastering them with the new tar ointment. It stinks pretty bad and brings back memories of when we were tied up to the public wharf in our little sailboat many years ago. The pilings were coated in protective thick black tar that smelled just like this stuff. I’m surprised I didn’t dream I was sleeping on the boat! At least I was smart enough not to bother putting the tar ointment on my hands. Can’t imagine how bad it would have been under my nose all night long. I decided my palms don’t need this stuff. So there, Doc Serious-D. Luckily I don’t have to use it during the day. Can you imagine? Ewwww…

Moving right along, here’s today’s FO:

Blue Blodgie’s Sweater

clip_image002For: Stargazer’s Blue Blodgie

Begun: January 28, 2010

Completed: February 4, 2010

Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool, 100% superwash merino, colour 010 Russet (red-brown), 85 yds = 50 g, 3 balls.

Needles: Addi Natura bamboo dpns, 4.5mm

Pattern: Rachel’s ISBN Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cozy by Yarnagogo

Mods: Cable substituted with Elongated Chain Cable from Walker’s Third Treasury. Began with Judy’s Magic Cast-On.  Added one extra increase round to 72 sts and one extra dec round to 52 sts.

Comments: This hot water bottle (Life brand) is slightly larger than my orange one (and didn’t come with such an interesting package of instructions!) It was given to Stargazer by his grandmother Judith to see if it would help with his leg cramps. Of course his mom wanted a sweater for it like the one I made for mine. The first yarn I bought (Smart superwash tweed) was too thin and too harsh for this project so I tried the softer merino yarn. Had to be superwash though! And it took the better part of all 3 balls so this is one pricey blodgie sweater. Hope it works for the intended purpose.

I hadn’t used this yarn before and I found it a bit splitty and hard to make an invisible join. Unfortunately one join is right in the cable which I thought would disguise it some. Not so much. Oh well, this is a utilitarian item so if it isn’t perfect, nobody will really notice. It’s really soft anyhow.

Back to my lecture notes. Nearly done. I hope.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Rather Ugly

I went to see Dr. Serious Dermatologist yesterday for a follow-up visit a month after our first encounter. After dithering hither and yon on this for the better part of a year (fungus infection? contact dermatitis? eczema?) I have now finally positively been diagnosed with psoriasis. Bleh. I have also been given yet another three different medications/creams to apply to my soles and palms along with tapering off the last one. This is getting silly really. My feet are better cared for than the entire rest of my body.

I’m of two minds about the psoriasis diagnosis. On the one hand, I don’t have to change my diet – apart from laying off on my usual vast amounts of our delicious homemade wine. (The side effect of this partial abstinence will hopefully help to reduce some of the excess fluff that has reappeared around my middle.) Apparently the reason why I couldn’t definitively isolate a particular food that caused the itchiness was because food allergies apparently don’t really play a part in this disease. It was just a coincidence of flare-ups matching certain foods and I was trying to find a pattern where one didn’t exist. The good news is I can eat anything I want.

The bad news is that this is a chronic recurring problem that has no permanent cure. It can be managed though. And I have to be thankful that a) it could be worse and b) it could be on some more obvious or annoying parts of my anatomy. It’s already looking almost-normal although it’s still somewhat itchy and heat sensitive.

The pharmacists are having a good time too. They couldn’t fill the two prescriptions Doc Serious-D gave me because they have to order in the first one and compound the second. You’d think they’d enjoy the change from pill counting to mix up some old-fashioned tar ointment for me, wouldn’t you? And I guess there isn’t much call for something called Dovonex, which is calcipotriene, a synthetic vitamin D3 derivative. It’s supposed to be an alternative for the very strong corticosteroid I’ve been using which can become less effective over time. If you alternate you avoid resistance issues. It’s specific for psoriasis and no other condition. At the same time I have to taper off the steroid ointment or risk a rebound affect. See how much I’m learning? I also have to use a urea cream and I know from my dye experience that urea attracts moisture and helps to keep things from drying out too quickly. One goo on top of another on top of yet another! Are we having fun yet?

Enough of that stuff! I have a Finished Object to share that’s actually been done for awhile:

Princess Pink’s Legwarmers Too

clip_image002For: Her Highness

Begun: January 25, 2010

Completed: January 30, 2010

Yarn: DGB Confetti 100 Stretch, colour 25.02 (pink, tan, turquoise, off-white), 70% superwash wool/23% nylon/7% polyester, 420 yds = 100 g, 1 ball.

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns, US2.5/3 mm

Pattern: Pickles – Little Girl Legwarmers free pattern, by Beth LaPensee.

Mods: Like the first pair, I made these in a single sock yarn on 52 sts, knit 10” plain, 2/2 rib cuff to 5” (could have been an inch longer but didn’t have the pattern with me and forgot!)

Comments: It’s kind of a stretch calling this colourway “pink” since it only has a bit of that in it but it was ok’d by the recipient in the ball. I hope these are more acceptable to Her Highness than the Candy Legwarmers were! I washed them in conditioning hair shampoo to soften them. But I’m not holding my breath.

I’m also nearly done her brother’s Blue Blodgie’s Sweater and got a good start on the new socks for T-Man. I’m beginning to get a little panicky about my guild talk however because I blew the whole day yesterday (though the lovely sushi lunch I had with Milady Daughter was very nice!) and this one also seems to be filling up fast with other things. I have to go pick up the magazine I forgot at Three Bags Full, my LYS, and, in the total opposite direction and only if they have it ready yet, I have to go pick up my prescriptions. I plan to do this walk in two stages with lunch at home in the middle. Otherwise it’s a long slog. At least the sun is out! A lovely early spring day. I need to open the greenhouse!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Let The Games Begin

Is it February already? The crocuses are up, the witch hazels are in full bloom and flowers are showing on the pieris (aka lily-of-the-valley bush)! This time last year there was still snow on the ground. Unfortunately there isn’t even much on the mountains right now. To illustrate the desperation, I saw the funniest cartoon: a helicopter hovering with two snowmen inside. One says to the other, “You mean they want us to jump – without a parachute?!” They are actually helicoptering snow in at about $900 an hour to supplement the stuff made by machines and packed over straw. Guess when they started planning for this O-lympical Thingy they forgot to ask El Niño what he was planning for this winter, huh?

So thanks to said Big Winter Sporting Event, my poor city is going somewhat nuts this month. Roads are blocked, fences are up, checkpoints are in effect, cameras are on, transit is rerouted and confusion…er, celebration reigns! Ho-hum. I do hope things go well though, since I’m paying for it one way or another.

In crafty news, I’ve finished Princess Pink’s second pair of legwarmers. I still have to photograph them and write them up as a Finished Object. Then I find out whether they meet with Her Highness’s approval or not. Yesterday I started a new pair of socks for T-Man because he wore out a pair of his socks. (I’m turning the legs into fingerless mitts for him. More on that at a later date.) I’m using the Hedgerow pattern by Jane Cochran for a little texture. Guess I did so many plain socks in the last while that I was back up for some variety. I’m using good old Mega Boots Stretch in one of the soft colourways where one colour oozes slowly into the next and you can’t match them exactly. Photo to come when I have enough sock to show.

I also started a hot water bottle sweater for grandson Stargazer’s blue “blodgie”. I wasn’t quite happy with the yarn I chose first. It was too fine (DK weight) and not soft enough for next-to-a-3-year-old-skin. So I got some superwash merino instead which is much nicer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get enough! My blodgie sweater took the whole 185 yd skein and this stuff only has 85 yds per ball. In the shop I thought 170 yds might be enough but this blodgie is a wee bit wider and I’d rather not run out 20 yds short, so I need one more. I’ll go get it today before the shop runs out of that dyelot. It’s a deep maroon which I think will contrast nicely with the bright blue hot water bottle. This is going to be one luxurious and expensive hot water bottle!

When I was knitting the aborted blodgie sweater attempt, I tried Judy’s Magic Cast-On instead of sewing the bottom together as I did on mine. It was a little awkward on dpns and also because I had to cast on more stitches than is practical for this method, but it did work out fine. I’ll try again with my new yarn choice. It’s good practise!

So – pardon the lack of photos. I’m back to my lecture notes! Time’s a-wasting (as my great-uncle used to say).