Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Utilitarian Knitter

Wow. A whole week went by - how about that?

Look what I got today:

a lovely package from Jo, with the yarn I won on her birthday contest (thanks Jo!). This package was such a treat to receive - along with the yarn she included a pound of Dunkin' Donuts coffee (hilarious), a bag of quite intriguing veggie chips, a package of something called "TastyKakes", four ornament creme eggs (think Easter creme but slightly smaller, with a different wrapper), and several lovely post cards from the Eastern Seaboard. SO NICE. Note the hand stealing into the frame to investigate the ornament egg...Charlotte is monstrously addicted to chocolate and can smell it at fifty paces. I think the yarn will become a hat and wristers for me...I may even cast on tomorrow as this will go FAAAAST and will be a nice break from the Aran. (I'm in sleeveland, by the way.)

And, I received some more yarn for the Print o' the Wave stole, from my Fibre Sistah Shelley. (By the way Shelley I will TOTALLY phone you tomorrow with my Visa number...SO SORRY.) She came through in the crisis and got me a very very close match to the original. Sadly it's not close enough for me to continue knitting the edging from where I am - I had to rip the entire edge off. We're talking about forty repeats, people. Luckily I remembered in the very nick of time that I should take a picture for the blog, so I snapped a couple quick while I still had four inches left. Sometimes I'm not a very good blogger that way - I tend to forget there's an interest in my works in progress, and don't bother to document them.

Anyhow, I somehow didn't take a picture of the new yarn (see above re: not a very good blogger) but I did manage to wind the better part of it into a ball during knit night tonight, by hand. I'll show it to you next time, when I've finished the ball and started knitting the edging on. The new colour contains most of the old colours, plus a few dashes of quite a dark bronzey brown colour. It should be nice....although of course HAVING THE WHOLE STOLE KNIT IN THE SAME DYE LOT WOULD BE BETTER.

One good thing about this situation is that I will be able to weigh the skein before knitting the edging, then weigh it after knitting the edging, thereby deducing the exact amount needed for making this stupid pattern. My incredible bad luck will in the end be turned to the common good, rendering my frustration, annoyance, and expense totally worth it.


Friday, November 23, 2007

A Tragedy in 55 Words and 2 Pictures.

One day, two sisters were playing happily in the living room. The older one was singing to herself while colouring in her sketch book. The younger one was sitting on the couch, idly playing with a pair of kids' scissors and looking around for something to do.

She found something to keep herself busy.

The end.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Call to Stamps.

We Have A Guest Blogger Today

Hello everybody. My name is Charlotte and I am six years old. My sister Emily is 3. I was hoping that some of you or maybe your children would send us a Christmas card because I have never got one before. And if you would like to send me a card, I could send you one too. I would like to get cards from children all around the world.

If you would like to exchange Christmas cards with me, please email my mum. She can tell you my name and address.

Merry Christmas everyone.


- Charlotte
PS: this is us on my birthday.


I have a very sad little girl here who tells me tearfully that she has never received a Christmas card and thinks that if she can send some out, other people will respond. I suspect it's all a ploy to get my new Nutcracker Christmas cards for her very own, but sympathize with her plight. Personal mail is very fun indeed -- and very rare.

If you would like to exchange Christmas cards with us, please drop me a line at the address in the sidebar. You'll get a card from my children, with maybe a picture in it or something from our town. I did actually buy a packet of international stamps the other day, thinking vaguely of starting a bloggy card exchange, so I'm all set here.

Any takers?

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Want To Be A Clone.

My daughter was over at a friend's house today. Charlotte is six, and so is Rosie. When I came to pick her up, Charlotte excitedly showed me that Rosie had a new poster in her room - her dad had bought it for her. For his six year old girl.

So I get that there are probably some people out there who think there is nothing objectionable about this. I, myself, admire NF's sassiness. She's Canadian, too, from my own city (Go Nelly!). But for a six year old? Couldn't the assault on her innocence wait a while? Shouldn't she still be playing with dolls and watching Super Grover?

Images are powerful. And our society bombards us with images that whole corporations full of people have studied, researched, tested, and developed for one purpose: to COMPEL US TO BUY THINGS. Is it in the best interests of a multi-billion dollar industry to encourage women to be happy and content with themselves as they are? Do they want us to be the kind of women who say "No thanks, I walk a fair bit: I don't need to buy a membership to your gym"? Or, "My breasts are just fine as they are, thanks - they don't need to be lifted and tucked and tightened and fluffed up. Keep your scalpel/cruel underwires/expensive creams to yourself."

I'll admit something. When I look into my daughters' future, (and obviously that future is not as far away as I had hoped it would be) I feel fear. I don't know how much I can do to help them - I try, but in my heart I know they will hear and obey all those messages from the purveyors of the Beauty Myth. They will be like every other girl: with an inward hatred of their bodies, in part or in whole. They will agonize and struggle, feel inadequate - or overadequate - and cry bitter tears about their upper arms. They will make distasteful faces into the mirror. They will heave gigantic sighs and say to their girlfriends, "I wish I had your thighs."

Ask me how I know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Progress for Its Own Sake

Sometimes I feel like I’m climbing a mountain.

The Aran is coming along slowly, since there has been a lot else going on to distract me.

Here in BC, the government is quite amenable to homeschoolers, even providing us with funding to teach our children at home. The hoop we have to jump for the funding is, we have to submit a portfolio full of samples of the child’s work three times yearly, to assure the Ministry that we are meeting the same education outcomes which they are (or rather CLAIM TO BE) teaching public school children. It’s portfolio time now, so I am madly scanning Provincial Learning Outcomes, throwing together worksheets for Charlotte to complete, and sorting all this information into a binder. It takes a lot of time, particularly for a free-form educator like me, who covers most of the material either by contextual reading, or verbally in discussion form, rather than by rote with worksheets for the child to fill out.

It’s not that my system is a bad one. Charlotte is obviously learning a lot, albeit above her grade level. (One of my concocted worksheets has the question “What is the term used to refer to animals who are most active during twilight (i.e., dusk and dawn)?” C. correctly answered “crepuscular”.) It’s just that it doesn’t result in stacks of completed papers with red check marks, and endless lists of addition and subtraction problems. This makes portfolios awfully time-consuming. But, hey: a thousand dollars per year per child is worth it.

And then there is the common cold, which is making my life a living hell for the second time in a month. Both the kids have it, so I’ve not had much sleep lately, getting up every few hours to blow noses, get drinks of water, doses of Dimetapp, more pillows. It all makes the knitting harder.

But, Mum and I went to Winners yesterday, and I came away with this:

I’ve been looking for YEARS for nice Christmas ornament storage, and was quite chuffed to see these beautiful boxes. There are two trays of compartments, each holding twenty ornaments (more, if they’re small). There is also extra room between the layers, and under the lid, for flat things such as tinsel garland. It was $20…I think I’ll be back for at least two more, for my children’s ornament collections.

Speaking of which, isn't it about time I put a countdown banner up?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

You surely didn't think.....did you?

There seems to be a misconception that when I said "I wouldn't want my stash to end up at the Thrift Store" I meant "I'm going to give you guys my yarn." In reality I meant "I need to get to the knitting and use up my yarn."

But of course now I feel bad and will probably have some kind of yarn giveaway to buy your affection again.

I have been working on something though, despite all appearances to the contrary. Remember when I said I was going to knock off Eunny's Macho Aran? Well, when I started examining the knit, I realized that there's no such thing as knocking off when it's a traditional Aran sweater. The ropes, cables, braids, what-have-you are all more or less in the public domain. It's just a matter of deciding which ones you want, swatching the panels, putting them together handsomely, and doing a bit of math.

So I just did that, instead.

I changed my mind on the needed size, after having knit 6 or 7 inches of sweater. I needed more width, so I ripped it back and added another rope cable to the outside of the 12 stitch plait. See? Old sweater (sorry about the crappy picture. Arrows indicate where I later added more ropes):

New sweater:

I like it better with the extra rope. Not only is it wider, it's more visually balanced.

For the actual cables, I consulted Cables Untangled. None of the charts are complicated, so I haven't had to photocopy or even write down a pattern, which makes this project just about as portable as a sock.

As the sweater started to take shape I noticed that all the motifs had fairly short repeats (the longest, honeycomb, is 8 rows) resulting in a dense fabric with a small-scale appearance. This wouldn't be my choice all the time, but for this particular sweater it's perfect. Because when complete, this sucker will be under the Christmas tree of a very, very cold person.

The yarn is Classic Al, by Elsebeth Lavold. It's a 50% merino, 50% alpaca worsted weight. This yarn is completely dreamy. I'm not a fan of Elsebeth Lavold's charts (or maybe, I'm not a fan of her pattern editor? test-knitter? someone.) but I have to admit she doesn't make mistakes when it comes to fibre choices and spinning. I've used her Silky Wool and her Silky Tweed, and now the Classic Al. All three are gorgeous, quality yarns.

(And hey - if you feel like trying it out, Webs has it on clearance for $3.49 a ball US!! That's, like, $3.30 a ball Canadian. Which means you can get an entire sweater for about $80, shipping to Canada included, with leftover yarn afterwards. Woot!)

And I realized I forgot to post a picture of Candy&Costume Day. For the first time I just went with the Princess thing. My daughter was shocked and pathetically grateful to be allowed to dress up as a Princess, complete with curling-iron ringlets and

"Oh, Mummy, I thought for sure you would say no!! Oh I love you, Mummy."

"I love you too sweetie. And remember: you are strong, you are beautiful with-or-without-a-dress, you are clever, and anything he can do, you can do better. Including saving yourself from towers, dragons, and evil queens. You don't need a man to complete you and you certainly won't be waiting around for some lame Prince to come schmaltzing up on his stupid pony, magnanimously agreeing to kiss you and somehow magically make your life complete just by condescending to "fall in love" with you."

"Yes Mummy." [Absently, while stroking her ringlets with glazed eyes.]

Friday, November 02, 2007


An interesting thing happened after I posted the R.I.P. Meme challenge. There was a short but eerie silence around the blog, then over the next two days I got three emails:

I was going to do your meme, but I tried and couldn't think of anything good to say.

I recently had a loss in my family so this is too close to home for me.

I took a stab at it but didn't like the process...I feel a little jinxed by the idea.

Then, yesterday, I received this:

Liked your idea immensely...thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there and challenging us to do the same. I don't have anywhere to publish my attempt but I thought I would share.
Attached: "All Saints Day" eulogy.

It was such an honour to receive this piece, from someone who mostly lurks but has commented twice. I read it with so much interest and sympathy, and found myself exclaiming "Hey! Me too!" while reading it.

Olga put up her eulogy the other's a real roller-coaster of emotion: read with caution. The most enthusiastic participant, Jenny, (private blog) has yet to post hers. And I have a promise from Jared and a cautious commitment from Ames to do theirs, too. I'm curious to read them not only to get to know them better, but to see whether my theory will hold true: that, in the end, certain things are common to the heart of us all.


If you do end up posting a reflection of yourself, please leave a comment.

Tomorrow, we will put all this behind us and go back to the knitting. I've got some stash to deal with...I really wouldn't want it to end up at the Thrift Store.