Thursday, March 29, 2007

Am I Just Too Old For This Kind of Nonsense?

----I am compelled to note that there may be spoilers ahead. If you care.----

Have just finished watching Casino Royale. I just have a few questions. And a comment or two.

1- What, oh what, is up with Daniel Craig's accent? One minute it's American, the next it's northern Europe, the next it's London's East Side. (All right: east, west, whatever. Like I even know.)

2- That chick at The Ocean Club? Mrs. Demetrios? You could grate cheese on her chest, that's how sharp the ribs were, poking out of her plunging neckline. I mean, I know thin is in, but I'm asking whether anyone actually finds this attractive? Aren't they afraid they might poke their eyes out on her clavicles? Or maybe lose their manhood by careless handling of her razor-sharp hipbones?

3- Who is this guy my boy Daniel was chasing through the construction site in Madagascar at the beginning: Spiderman? Dude was comin' out all Cirque du Soleil style, doing superpower flips and jumps and with the amazing stamina, I thought he was on drugs. I seriously did. I was watching this and first of all said, aloud, "I have not seen such impressive hijinks and tricks since Buffy", and then thought "Okay, we're setting up the plot here - this is going to be 'Bond against a sinister band of international steroid profiteers.'"

4- To the executive producer, or whoever is in charge of casting, a few guidelines:
- Muscles do not a leading man make.
- Ditto for a craggy countenance.
- When a man is that honed, the viewer really notices the ears. Give it some thought. Slightly longer hair, maybe?
- Fleming's Bond is charming. A nice, enigmatic smile is a must. Goofy squint-eyed, toothy, Cletis-the-Slack-Jawed-Yokel smirk? not so sexy.

5- The whole tenderness thing with the girl and the yacht and the azure Adriatic was completely over the top. See number 4, above: this Bond had the emotional depth of a Tamagotchi. We, as viewers, were totally not invested in this contrived halcyon week of love, or whatever it was supposed to be, as Mr. Taut Biceps was just not making us feel it. We were using the little light to check our watches. People were whispering to their seatmates, "Whoa, that Big Gulp just caught up with me - back in a sec." We were all drumming our fingers, waiting for the ax to fall and find out just how many sides this chick was playing. Which brings me to my next point.

6- To the writers: Try not to give quite so big a signal. We like to not know that the double-crossing, or what have you, is going on, if at all possible. We like to be surprised. Think Memento. Think Usual Suspects. Think the floor of the Bellagio vault.

7- Oh, and one more thing. I think MI-6 should invest in some first aid courses for their operatives. I mean, I know how to revive a newly-drowned person, and I spend my days sitting around knitting, reading "Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever" three times in a row, and washing dishes. I make Kraft Dinner almost every day, for goodness' sake. There is No Way a person like me should know more about CPR than a secret agent. Please. I can only suspend my disbelief so far, and I'm afraid the (drum roll) Amazing Flying Grandini Trapeze Show (see number 3, above) stretched it to the limit.

I need some good film, stat, to wash away this vile Hollywood taste. This situation might call for an emergency screening of my favourite movie. Or maybe my second favourite movie. Looks like I'll be up 'til 3:00 AM again.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ask, and it Shall be Given You

In order to reinforce your commenting behaviour, I think it's time to give some answers.

The Decision on the Rheingold Wrap

Ames, to answer your question: I decided on the Rheingold Wrap, longer but no narrower. If I am going to go to all the trouble and expense of ordering an authentic Starmore kit, I'll cough up for a few extra skeins, hopefully enough to knit another 10 inches or so. After all, when you're spending $250 you may as well spend $300 and make sure you'll be happy with the finished product.

The Grapes (and Pears, and Melon, and Pineapple) of Wrath

In answer to Lizbon's "how do you get such pretty fruit in midwinter" question: there is a wonderful grocery store on Vancouver Island, which goes out of its way to excel in the produce department...and in meat, and dairy, and pretty well everything worth excellence. They have done more for organic farming in BC than any other organization, I'd wager.

The Story of the Common Welsh Green Socks

Sue, the Common Welsh Green socks are an invention of mine, not a specific pattern. The idea was inspired by a series of sock yarn skeins for sale on etsy and named after the dragon species listed in the Harry Potter books (most memorably in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament ["Goblet of Fire"], where each of the four champions has to steal an egg from a dragon). Each skein was beautifully dyed with evocative colours, and named (left to right) "Swedish Short Snout", "Welsh Green", "Hungarian Horntail" and "Chinese Fireball".*
Knowing there were two major HP events this year, I immediately wanted to knit some dragonish socks with that yarn, and started cruising for a pattern. I found Marnie Maclean's "Wyvern Socks" by chance while surfing some blogs, and the chart had an ideal "scale" look. Unfortunately, I hadn't bought the dragon-dyed yarn when I saw it (lesson learned) and now it was sold out. So, I spent another few months waiting for the perfect semi-solid dragon-coloured sock yarn. I was hoping for something in a silvery-blue, to make the "Swedish Shortsnout" socks, but couldn't find it. Sweet Georgia's chartreuse "Dragon" colourway, when I found it, was exactly right for a Welsh Green...and aptly named.

Questions No One Asked (or, My First Meme)
I hate memes.
But I love memes.

I have never published one.
But I have written several.

After wrestling with my principles, I have at last decided to give in to the craze, a bit. I am going to include a tiny note at the end of any given post, when I have something interesting, or funny, or freaky, to share.

1. When I was 12, we were coming home from our grandmother's house one rainy night. As we drove down a (deserted) rural road, we passed through an isolated pool of light cast by a streetlight at a lonely intersection. I got a prickly feeling and looked back immediately, to see a woman standing in the middle of the light, a split second after our car had driven through it. She was dressed in a grey skirt and jacket, with blonde hair, standing absolutely still. I kept watching her until we were out of sight, and she never moved. I knew, and know to this day, that she was a ghost. Believe it, or not.

2. I hate the very thought of people touching any fruit that I might later eat. When restaurants put that wedge of orange on your breakfast plate, beside your toast and eggs? The very thought of eating that makes my skin crawl. Someone in the kitchen has obviously touched the cut edge of that orange. It's a nauseating combination of hand-warmth and bruising.

I, and only I, know exactly how to prepare fruit for myself. Icy hands (run them under the water first, right), a very sharp knife (bruising = sick-making) and minimal contact. Also no wood or plastic cutting boards. (Possible taste-contamination resulting in faint traces of onion, garlic, or, God forbid, meat.) You may think I am too fussy, but here is my breakfast: a fruit salad made by me, with absolutely no crushed edges, warm bits, or flavour cross-contamination. And see how pretty:
Pineapple, pear, mango, apple, watermelon, honeydew, starfruit, orange, banana. Nary a bruise in sight.

Postscript: I can't figure out the hard returns on this stupid new Blogger. The composition window shows regular single-space returns, but once published the spaces between paragraphs take on a random hugeness, or tininess. So it's a crapshoot whether the spaces in this post will be Lilliputian, Brobdingnagian, or a titillating combination of both.

* Picture dredged off the vastness of the web.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Just What the Doctor Ordered. (Dr Fowler, that is.)

And, in an unrelated story, paramedics were called this morning to a small house after neighbours reported hearing a muffled explosion. A woman was hospitalized with undisclosed symptoms but, despite the best efforts of the medical team on call, the woman died shortly afterwards. Her two young children appeared to be unharmed by the incident, except for extensive singeing of their nosehairs. The woman's name is being withheld until all the family members have been informed.
I will be healthy or die trying.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Speaking of Dishpan Hands...

As you can see if you just look above, or at, Harry Potter is fast approaching. This year, with the release of both the Order of the Phoenix movie and the Deathly Hallows book, is a huge year for HP geeks such as myself.

Obviously, some Hogwarts knitting is in order.

There is a good amount of knitting in the Harry Potter series, and the film releases of each title give us a nice visual element that the books lack. There are good resources online for Harry Potter knitting, most notably Alison's pattern for the Weasley Sweater. In April, Alison's book Charmed Knits will be released, comprised entirely of designs inspired by the Harry Potter books and movies.

I know I want a Weasley, and the release of Deathly Hallows would be a great deadline for it. However, I don't have suitable stash yarn, so would need to actually purchase some new stuff. I am a bit out of practice buying yarn, and, strangely enough, feel a bit nervous about it. Weird, huh? I'm sure I'll get over it.

In the meantime, I got cracking on my Common Welsh Green socks.

I've been planning them for some time, and when I saw Sweet Georgia's colourway "Dragon" at Pick-up Sticks back in November, I knew it would be perfect. I am using Marnie Maclean's Wyvern sock pattern, with modifications. Should be nice and scaly when finished.


And look what arrived in the mail the other day!!

I was reading Sue's entry about the only good way to eat a Tim Tam, and commented that I needed to have one of those delicious-looking biscuits before I die. (Not an imminently-expected event, by the way, just a list I've been keeping for years. "Things I Must Do Before I Die".) In the spirit of international (magical) cooperation and blogger generosity, Sue fired off a box of Tim Tams, with a couple of other little treats, all the way from Australia. What a woman! What a biscuit! The Tim Tams are everything she promised they would be - divine, chocolatey, wafery goodness. I'm already trying to figure out how I can order these on an ongoing basis. I don't know if I can face the rest of my life (after these are gone) without them. So far I like the Double Coat best. Natch.

Monday, March 12, 2007

When, Oh When, Will It End?

I am surfacing through a haze of conjunctivitis, strep throat, and dishpan hands (from excessive washing) to bring you my latest FOs. I meant to post several witty and creative blog entries this past week, but I'm afraid we are under heavy siege from viruses and bacteria in this house - as well as the above-mentioned afflictions, my five-year-old has tonsillitis (aside - it's amazing how well antibiotics work when you never use them...the last time Charlotte had amoxicillin she was two years old and had pneumonia. Now, three years later, it only took a couple of hours for the raging infection to succumb to the meds.) so I haven't had a chance to be either witty or creative.

I have, however, had a chance to do a little reading, which made a nice change, and finish up the long-awaited Children's Socks.

First, the reading. As soon as I became too sick to knit, I picked up Family Tree. Barbara Delinsky is a popular author with whom I'm entirely unfamiliar, but I enjoyed this book nonetheless. It is a nice bit of light reading, with the bonus of a fair dose of knitting content - the main character is a knitter who grew up in and around her grandmother's rural yarn shop. Good stuff. You can tell that either Delinsky really does know how to knit, or she took some extensive pains to appear legitimate. Her character takes four or five knitting projects to the hospital where she is about to give birth, she knits for emotional healing, and she frogs relentlessly. There is a definite Ring of Truth.

Being bound to my bed (not literally, unfortunately - ha ha) gave me a chance to finish up the infamous children's socks, which have been hanging over my head since last fall. There are two pairs, one each for a set of my nieces whose mother loathes knitting, but who are quite keen to try it themselves. Apparently there was some begging and pleading going on for socks of their own, and despite my reasonable expectation of ultimate rejection, I decided to go for it anyway. Here are the results.

Pair the First: Spiral Rib Socks
Pattern: my own. Toe-up, 2X1 rib, moving 1 stitch over every four rows. Stockinette sole, short-row heel, 1X1 twisted rib cuff for the last 4 inches.
Yarn: Paton's Kroy in Winter Eclipse, 75% wool, 25% nylon.
Needles: 2 2.25mm and 1 2.75mm steel Susan Bates circular (two-circ and magic loop methods)
Tension: Dunno. Too lazy to get up and measure. I'm guessing about 8.5 sts over 1 inch in stockinette.
Cast On: Around November 15, 2006
Bound Off: March 8, 2007
Notes: First, how cute are those little five-year-old legs? I could just eat them up.
After the short-row heel, I decreased a couple of stitches at the centre back of the ankle, where I find this type of heel fits a bit too loosely. We'll see how the child likes it.

I decided to make these as long as possible, so that the eight-year-old who is destined to wear them would have some options, but to tell the truth I got so bored by the time I had knitted an 11" cuff that I had to bind off to keep myself from going completely barking mad.

Pair the Second: Purple Pixies
Pattern: my own. Toe-up 3X1 rib, stockinette sole, short-row heel, with 1X1 rib for 1" on cuff.
Yarn: Paton's Astra 100% Acrylic in Lilac (now called Hot Lilac, for some reason) with unlabelled purple eyelash stash yarn at ankle.
Needle: 3.25mm unmarked steel circular, magic loop method, and 2.5mm ancient Boye steel crochet hook for trim.
Tension: about 6 sts per inch in stockinette.
Cast On: September 1, 2006
Bound Off: October 1, 2006. Crochet added and ends woven in: March 9, 2007 (shameful)
I like these socks - especially the colour and the eyelash crochet. The only thing is, the crochet does make the ribbing a little looser at the top. Luckily they are only ankle socks, so this shouldn't matter too much...I'd make them again - they make nice slipper socks with the slightly heavier yarn.

Now, I just have to send these off, and see what the verdict is.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Next Big Knit

So I've been having a crisis of faith lately. Maybe it's the time of year (others are feeling it, too), but when it comes to knitting, crafting, cooking, shopping -- heck, pretty much when it comes to life -- I'm just not feeling the love. Ogee languishes in my knitting bag, about 15 rows from binding off. The spiral rib socks are close too - I have rounded the heel and knitted about 4 inches of sock number two. I have an entire stash full of beautiful yarn waiting for my inspired hands to create something with it, and yet.......I just don't care.

It can't be that I need something new, because I refuse to cater to my own consumerism like that. Besides - all that stash yarn (and stash fabric, for that matter) was new when I bought it, and it's still new, and I haven't touched a yard of it.

Maybe I need a challenge. That is, a challenge beyond simply finishing a project. I've been thinking about this possibility, and I do believe I'm onto something...

Here it is: the next Big Thing. I am not stinting on this one, but will go all the way with the Starmores, and buy their kit for the Rheingold Wrap.

I hereby declare my intention to buy the kit, knit it up, and wear it or display it proudly. I also hereby declare that I am totally penniless, and need to do some serious spending-money-saving to enable the Rheingold purchase. Thankfully, the lovely Jade and Alice do not charge for shipping from the Hebrides, where they live, so the kit will cost me a mere £95. Eeep. I figure I spend about $10 a week on coffee, so I'll only have to do without lattes for 24 weeks to buy the kit.

I'm thinking I'll buy it for my birthday in October. That's the perfect time of year to buy a knitting kit, anyway, and until then I will keep it in mind as an incentive to finish all the other stuff I'm working on or plan to start.

I do have a couple of questions to put to you all, though, with regard to the shawl.

1) It looks long enough for the model in the picture, but I'm betting my shoulders are significantly wider. Given the fact that the kit is one-size, should I worry? I suppose I could eliminate one of the vertical bands, and use the freed-up yarn to add length...but then will it be too narrow?

2) Should I opt for the Zauberflote sweater instead? It is £109, or about $190 US. Problem is, I don't normally wear sweaters with that high of a neckline. It's a bit traditional for me. On the other hand, if you are going to knit true Fair Isle, you might as well go for all the tradition you can.

Please, a little help?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pulsatilla C30, How I Love Thee

It turns out I was mistaken about my two-year-old being convalescent - she actually got worse over the day or two following my last post. Here's what she looked like yesterday morning:

Note the cracked, bleeding lips (from mouth-breathing all night long); the swollen nose and face (sinuses were absolutely plugged); the hopeless, apathetic expression.

And, continuing the theme of home remedies not involving drugs, note the open Tupperware of chopped onion beside her. That's right, folks: chopped onion - nature's decongestant. It brings the mucous Right. Out. So, have a Kleenex box handy. Obviously, the stronger the onion, the more effective this is... I imagine a red onion would result in a veritable Snot Storm (Dad, pardon my language. I really couldn't think of anything more evocative.)

I am informed that, in addition to the decongestant effect, the onion also has disinfectant properties when breathed in. So if you suspect you might be starting bronchitis, pneumonia, a middle-ear or sinus infection, start chopping and breathe deeply.


Now onto something a bit more cheerful (but less useful). I am a bit worn out with all this intensive, Tylenol-and-pseudoephedrine-free sickbed attendance, so I had to get an hour last night to go to Knitting. (And, you'd better believe it: I got a cell call after exactly ONE HOUR had passed, from Mr HSBoots, desperate for my return.) It was fun as usual, but too short. I thought I'd give you a little glimpse of what everyone is up to - forgive the lack of faces: apparently I can't photograph people worth a tinker's damn.

My dear Kate, the hostess, circular shrug in progress.

The innovative, positive Karen, working on .... well, I don't know what it is, but the interesting part of this picture isn't the knitting, it's the notebook. The woman actually translates all her charts line by line, writing them out by hand. This strange and wonderful habit has resulted in many a conversation about visual thinking, linear thinking, and just plain queer thinking.

The serene and softspoken Sunmi, and a self-designed striped woollen cardy for her little girl.

The hilarious and pragmatic Dolores, cardigan in hand.

I brought the Ogee Tunic, and managed two entire rows of it (!!!!!) before getting paged. I'll spare you another picture of my barely-progressed knitting, and will entertain you instead with a glimpse of my latest venture in training up my children in the way they should go. (Emily is much improved today, thank you, as a result of a homeopathic remedy given to her yesterday on the advice of the Venerated Homeopathic Practitioner -- all hail Tony, the Wizard King, He who first prescribed the Vinegar Sock and the Onion Inhalation.)