Friday, September 29, 2006

Knit Knite

Wednesday is knitting night. There are only four of us, and occasionally five, but it is a great group. This is part of the reason it's a great group:

Food! Note the beer bottle and the empty glasses. Also note the chocolate and chips...aaaah...nobody understands women like women.

I would share what everyone is knitting, but I'm afraid I never asked. We were too busy discussing the state of the country, its education, and its future citizens. It was a great night, but maybe not if measured in terms of rows and repeats.

Pomatomus is within sight of the end. I am over half done the last repeat of a 22 row chart, before toe decrease begins. I'm afraid that my second sock is slightly looser than the first, but the row tension doesn't seem to have changed, thankfully. I am not too worried about the difference in tightness, mainly because it's slight, and it only affects the fit for the better, as the first sock is a mite too tight. No reknitting, though: there is no way I am signing up for another whole Pomatomus on these needles, with this wool. The yarn hates being frogged and, even with just the occasional tinking and reknitting I've done, it has developed a notable fuzz and pill in those areas. I'm not too keen on the Socks that Rock, having knit this pattern with it... but it just makes me love my favourite yarn all the more. The retailer claimed that STR was "the same thing" as KPPPM, but she was deluding herself. Perhaps she just felt defensive, being an American, of Socks that Rock, since I had just voiced my disappointment over the shop's lack of KPPPM. Poor thing...with Koigu and Fleece Artist both hailing from the True North, what chance do they have?

But here is a glimpse of my second Pomatomus. I tried to caption this photo but for some reason I couldn't get it to save. And let's face it: there are only so many hours of my day available for faffing around in Photoshop. So, I had to do the caption another way.

" suis suis suis M. Pomatomus.
Voulez vouz tricoter avec moi?"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Hello Habibi. As promised, a glimpse of the two skirts which cost me ten dollars each at Incognito on Saturday. They are both intended to be one-size wrap skirts but don't fit around my waist properly, so they work perfectly when tied sarong-style around the hips instead.

Skirt the first: Black with metallic threads. Seen here over copper/black knit harem pants. Crappy picture - taken in the mirror in semi-darkness. I had to lighten it a bit so it looks weird.

Skirt the second: Pink. Seen here with my purple coin belt. Can you believe five-year-old Charlotte took this picture?

Last night I went to class, wearing my new pink and gold skirt, and a black choli. As everyone was taking their places, the teacher held up a plastic bag and said "By the way, anyone want a fuschia pink belt with gold coins?". I sashayed up to the front and grabbed the belt, which was a perfect match with my new skirt. The teacher added, "It's $20." Twenty Bucks! There was some grumbling amongst the other women, typically: one of them said to me "if she had told us it was only $20 to begin with, there would have been a stampede." Well, you snooze, you lose.

The skirt with the new belt:

Beaut, hey? I love it when I get a good deal, especially on belly dance costume parts. The one thing I need help with is tops...from the hips up is my area of least confidence. I find I continually look for plain, black, modest tops to cover what I don't want to show. As I progress in the dance, though, maybe I will gain new appreciation for what beauty I have, rather than being disappointed that I don't have the same beauty as others.

Next post - more knitting content. Promise.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

View from my Pillow

Spent tonight taking a rest from knitting to watch "Mrs Henderson Presents". So funny. Really worth a look - the casting is spot-on and the costumes are, as Dame Judi would say, "delicious".

When I say "taking a rest from knitting" I don't mean I didn't knit, by the way, merely that I did some swatching so I wouldn't have to look at the knitting or a chart. All I have on the needles right now is Pomatomus, which you can't really look away from.

The swatch I knit tonight is for Bayerische...Eunny gives the tension in stockinette, so I haven't tried the charts yet. I am thinking of it for a friend's birthday present, or maybe Christmas if October turns hectic. I'm using Regia 4fadig, which I haven't tried before. It's quite scratchy, actually - I didn't anticipate that since you can't really tell from petting the ball. But it knits up nice and evenly, shown here on 2mm needles (and 2.25mm - separated by the purl row). I think the Bayerische will look nice in this colour. It'll be understated, without a lot of that variegate busy-ness. You can't tell by the photo, taken in the dead of night in a poorly-lit room on a burgundy background, but the colour is a nice malt, masquerading as ho-hum brown. It is growing on me as I knit it, although generally speaking it's not what I would choose at all. Right now I'm getting 9.25 sts/inch on the 2mm, so I am pretty close - only that .25 of a stitch stands between me and perfection. Annoying: going up a quarter millimeter to the 2.25 gets me 8.5 sts/inch. I think I will settle for the 9.25 since I think I will loosen up when I've been knitting with this yarn for a few hours.

In the last few days this is what has gotten in the way of knitting:

The Perimeter Drain Excavation. The big digger (yes, that's a technical term) came today and tore up the entire back of the house, from one corner to the other. The photo doesn't really convey the devastation, nor the panic we are feeling. The digger dudes (I understand that is actually the job title) left it like this because clever husband (let's call him "Mr. Man" for now) decided he'd save a few dollars and put the pipe in himself. He Knows A Guy. This guy apparently is going to order the pipe wholesale and get us a Deal, then help Mr. Man to install it. So Dig Dug, as I like to call him, cocked a doubtful eyebrow at the pile of earth and rocks, and broken up concrete, said "you sure you don't want us to do it for you?" and then, upon hearing the confident, if completely ignorant "nope, I got it covered", shrugged and climbed back into his caterpillar, or whatever you call it, and rolled away (flattening the neighbour's blackcurrant and gooseberry bush on his way).

Any bets on how long it takes The Guy to get the Deal, and he and Mr Man to lay the pipe? Come on, let's make it interesting.

And, lastly, the View from my Pillow as I write this.

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night

Sleep well. Tomorrow, pictures of my new belly dance skirts, bought on the weekend for a song.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

You May Need to Avert Your Gaze

After two interminable days of being inexplicably unable to upload photos onto, I finally found a forum on which some guy who says, and I quote, that his "english ain't good", told me to select "none" on the photo placement layout option and Hey Presto! I've got a picture up. Hopefully it continues to work since if it conks out again I think I might have to switch to Firefox, the other solution offered.

I briefly considered editing 22 September's post to add the photos, but remembered what Edna says. "I never look back, dahling. It distracts from the now." Plus I was rather charmed, upon reviewing it, by the prose. It's been a while since I wrote any descriptive paragraphs - about 17 years, actually, since all university profs (all who don't teach fine arts) tend to ruthlessly hector students out of the habit of description (or, as they would doubtless call it, wordiness). Therefore, I am packing all my botanical shots into this little post so you can see just what the animals from the pit of hell did to my plant.

Jasmine, one hour before the earth cracked open and three horned, cloven-hooved denizens of the deep emerged to wreak their horrible destruction:

And the destruction itself:

Ugly. Ugly, ugly deed.

Enlightening Our Future Leaders

Still can't get the pictures in. I'll keep trying though - generally speaking, pictures make the post.

As I mentioned before, (that would be, THURSDAY, when I FIRST POSTED) I educate my children at home. We've just started, as my eldest daughter has just turned five. We like it, but it's definitely harder than, say, dropping her off outside the nearest weedy, depressing, pavement-covered subsidized public school and waving a cheery goodbye to our little contribution of grist for the mill.

a - HA!

This week was about adjusting to outside activities. Since Charlotte was born, I have strenuously resisted all commitments outside the home, feeling it was important for a child to play, every day, in their own space, without the pressure of getting up, dressed, ready, and out the door by a certain time. So far, her childhood has been idyllic…..

Until Now.
(dun dun DUUUNNNN)

Now, we have emerged, blinking and stumbling, into the all-too-bright lights of the real world. We are like homesteaders taking the two-day trip into town to buy flour and salt at the general store, baffled by the speed of the traffic, starting at every noise, every whooshing air brake, every honking horn, staring in wide-eyed wonder at the gaily dressed crowds and the astonishing neon lights blinking an endless repetition of “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!!” and “OPEN 24 HOURS”.

Charlotte has started swimming lessons Monday and Wednesday, art lessons Tuesday, and library Storytime on Wednesdays. We are not used to it, to put it mildly. I had to make a trip to Please Mum this weekend just so she would have something fit to be seen in, besides her seven or eight pairs of flannel pajamas, which are her usual uniform.

However, girlfriend has really taken to the outside activities. She really likes all the stuff I don’t like – the need to be somewhere at a certain time, the rushing to get our things together and get out the door, the agonizing suspense of whether we’ll miss the bus.

Happily for me, when you're homeschooling a Kindergartner, the pressure really is off. For the most part, we do what interests us. Today just as we were going to begin Science (i.e., asking her what she would like to learn about today and referencing that subject in her encyclopedia), a wasp flew into the schoolroom. I whacked it with a workbook, and collected its lifeless form onto a piece of paper, bringing it and a magnifying glass to the centre of the room to examine. We spent five minutes or so checking out this wasp, and Charlotte peered through the magnifying glass at it while I turned it this way and that with a pencil, showing her its anatomy. I tried to double-check insect anatomy in her "First Nature Encyclopedia", to make sure I was correct about which part was the thorax and which the abdomen, but sadly the encyclopedia let us down on this point.

About ten minutes later, another wasp flew into the room, and when I whacked it, it fell onto the floor and lay there, buzzing on its back. To our great excitement, a huge spider ran out from underneath the heater, seized the wasp, and started wrapping it up. We watched this thrilling spectacle through the magnifying glass for several minutes, until the spider had paralyzed the wasp and completely wrapped it in silk. When it started to drag the hapless wasp up inside the heater, I had to intervene and put both of them outside. This way they could continue to take part in the great circle of life, just not in my house.

So now we have Marauding Deer, Sinister Wasps, and useful but very creepy Huge Spiders. Science has been GREAT this week. Go see what my sister's kids are doing.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Yesterday was a lovely day, a beautiful last glimpse of summer before fall sets in in earnest. I strolled around outside, examining my garden’s fading glory, and taking one nice little picture of my valiant jasmine plant. This poor little thing has had a hard life, struggling against climate, transplantation, and, most ominously, white-tailed deer. But, it has fought the good fight and at last, late summer though it is, put out five very promising flowers which, yesterday, were on the verge of opening. Here is my... timely... picture:

Take my word for it - the picture is lovely. However, the picture is also absent. Day Two on and I can't get the bloody pictures into this post. I had four...they were good ones too. If it works tomorrow, I'll edit. In the meantime, "imagine, if you will,..."

A delicate, pale-leaved vine, just touched by the late September, late afternoon sun. Dappled light plays on the slender stalk, and, just at the end of one brave, fragile stem, five pale ivory quills reach from feathery green tendrils toward the last of the cool autumn light. The petals are still wrapped tightly in the smooth, pointed bud - one is longer than the rest, and will probably open first. Not tomorrow, but maybe the day after. The others are slightly darker in colour, not as much ivory as dark cream, almost butter.

I know what you're thinking, and you're right. "Too good to be true." Not one hour after I took this picture, Emily glanced outside and said in her endearing childhood lisp, “Mummy, deyahs! Deyahs ousside!” Charlotte looked and shrieked out, “MUMMY! THERE’S THREE AND THEY’RE EATING YOUR PLANTS!!!” I leapt up from the sofa, hurdled the coffee table in one smooth movement, hit the floor running, and threw open the sliding glass door. The bold rascals just stood there, their chewing for the moment arrested, staring at me. I was not four meters from them, so it was pretty easy to reach down, grab three impressive stones, and hurl them with all my might. The mother took off, but the two fauns (old enough that they were no longer spotted, for all of you who might be feeling entirely too sorry for these predatory and greedy creatures) couldn’t make the jump over the chain link fence, and simply ran around the yard in an increasing panic, hotly pursued by me. No, I didn’t hit the stupid things with rocks, much as I wanted to. I just ran them around in circles, hopefully terrifying the simpletons enough to dissuade them from returning, and eventually chased them into the adjoining woods, before returning to check the damage.

Again, your indulgence for a moment as I paint a picture of what confronted me when I bent to my precious jasmine. NO FREAKING FLOWERS, THAT'S WHAT CONFRONTED ME. The five beautiful ivory quills? Lunch. The pointed, pale-green leaves? Freaking appetizers. The precious inches of tender new growth, on which December's blossoms would have appeared, to comfort our winter-weary souls with the faint, elusive perfume of exotic spring? Elevenses for the THREE BLOODY DEER.

The bastards also made serious inroads into my young, tender hydrangea. The leaves they could have taken with my blessing – it’s a deciduous plant – but they actually cropped the new branches, which I NEEDED FOR NEXT YEAR’S BLOOMS.

---------Pause while author retreats to her happy place---------

All right. I realize that it's all part of life. That my plants simply took their place in the food chain. I will try to refrain from grinding my teeth to tiny nubs, and reflect that plants grow, and sometimes even grow back…it’s what they do. Right? Whatever doesn’t kill them, makes them stronger.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wait Up

I know, I’m late to the party. However, I’m compelled by the phenomenon that is knitalongs to start a blog, in the hope that I can at last take part in some of them.

A little background – nothing heavy, since there’s nothing more boring than too much information about a new and unknown blogger. I knit, I sew, I read, I cook, I garden (in a very novice capacity) I dabble in embroidery (okay, well, cross-stitch. Hrm hrm. Did you say something?) I belly dance, I educate my children and try not to let them drive me completely barking.

Here’s where I notice that, to the casual observer, I don’t really do much of anything at all.

On to the knitting. Let me count up my works in progress so both of us can get some kind of idea what is going on around here. A word of warning – I have been working on Christmas knitting for six weeks. If this freaks you out, get a grip…you’ve got less than a hundred days.

1-Knitty's Pomatomus sock 2 of 2, in Socks that Rock colourway “Star Sapphire”. (I’m not sure about the colourway. I was winding the skein at my friend’s house, while her husband prowled around making us a bonfire so we could have some marshmallows. She had mentioned that he likes to burn stuff, but I didn’t realize the truth of this until I looked around for the ball band for my new STR yarn. Burnt. Apparently she has to actually hide things from him on “fire nights” because in the past she has had to rescue brand new magazines, gift certificates, gas coupons, and carelessly discarded articles of faintly-worn clothing from imminent fiery death, snatching them from the licking flames. This made me a little uneasy and I found myself calling in a would-be-unconcerned, unnaturally high voice for my children.)

2-Sailor-collared cardy in Sirdar Snuggly DK, for Emily. Emily is two and a half years old, so I hope she won’t have reached the stage of refusing to wear anything I make for her, by the time I block and sew it.

3-Striped cardy in Sirdar Snuggly DK for Charlotte, at the age of five, who is subject to fits of hysteria on the subject of clothes. I very much fear that, in this case, I will be casting my purls before swine. I have a hideous vision of her trying on the cardigan, her smile fading quickly, to be replaced by a blank look that lasts all of three seconds before she transforms herself into a hideous shrieking banshee, screaming “IT FEELS WEIRD, IT FEELS WEIRD!” and tearing at the sweater with fingers curled into claws. Watch for it.

4-Knitty’s Trellis sweater for my cousin’s wee babe, now three months old, in Patons Classic Merino. There’s a problem with this one. I have lost the second ball of yarn, with half a sleeve left to COMPLETE FINISHING. The LYS doesn’t have any more of that colourway, and even if they did the dye lot wouldn’t be the same. I know I’ll find that bloody ball somewhere, but I’ll find it forty-eight hours after frogging both sleeves and reknitting them with alternate rows of two different dye lots, then sewing SIX buttons onto the sweater and presenting it to my cousin’s baby, who by that time will be three sizes too big for it.

And that’s it for the knitting, oddly enough. I feel like I’m missing something…I’m looking around for all the WIPs I’ve got skulking in corners, and there aren’t any. This means casting on, But Quick.

But I’ve got Charlotte’s Christmas stocking to finish X-stitching by December 20, and a lot of big sewing plans, and The Most Beautiful Yarn In The Stash calling out for swatching…it should be a great winter. Stick around.