Friday, April 27, 2007

Vegetarians Beware.

My brother turns 35 today. I would like to do a blog tribute to him, but I'm afraid Gwen is a tough act to follow. So, Mark, I'll just say an affectionate "Many Happy Returns of Your Birthday With Love from Shuber", and show you my idea of your perfect B-day celebration.

Actually, now that I see it (in the flesh, so to speak), I realize that it could in fact be an artist's conception of your actual self.

Get it?

In knitting news, I finished the first Ogee sleeve the night before last, at one in the morning. I was tempted to cast on for the next one Right! That! Second! but decided I should opt for sleep instead...once again life gets in the way of knitting.

But last night I cast on the second sleeve, and am halfway through the ogee chart at the wrist. If I can keep my (half-hearted) momentum up, I should be done the whole sweater by the end of May. Ordinarily I would expect its completion sooner, but I have started a new pair of geisha socks for a flip-flop-wearing friend, and would like to finish those before the tunic.

I walked to Knit Night this week, and saw some pretty things while moseying.

I do love driftwood.

And lighthouses.

Go Canucks!

And AT Knit Night, Karen had this beauty on display:

It's "Better Than A Hundred Hands"!! It's an "Improved Money Maker"!! You could make a whole dollar and a half for every dozen pairs of socks you cranked out of this beauty, according to the attractive brochure (dated 1920). Karen picked it up at AAA Salvage years ago, and is now ready to clean it, oil it, and give it a whirl. Hopefully she'll post all about it, on our group's fledgling blog.

Now, I've got some busyness to do -- Mr HSBoots is on his way home, and when he gets here I should at least look like I've been productive today (and knitting doesn't count). Wish me luck.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh My Freaking Frackness.

When my sister was six years old, she saw a picture of the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine in the Sears Christmas Wishbook. She fell head over heels for the little white doghouse with a Snoopy plunger that forced ice cubes through a little rotating grater which you turned with a crank. The ice chips would fall out of the bottom and into the little paper cup you had placed underneath, and all you had to do was sprinkle some lemon or cherry powder on them to make Delicious Frosty SnoCones just like you get at the fair.

She thought of nothing but the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine for months. She was not a terribly chatty child, and was fairly private about her feelings most of the time. I don't think my parents, bless them, really understood just how passionately she felt about the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine - how it haunted her dreams with its little red roof, its charming inhabitant perched atop the square plastic ice-pusher. In their wisdom, and the perpetual shallowness of their pockets (private education for three didn't come cheap in 1981 either), they decided that the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine was a phase - an expensive fad that would lose its luster after the first few days, to be consigned to the back of the cupboard or, more likely, the toybox.

Come Christmas morning, my sister made short work of her presents, checking each one in turn to see whether it held her wee Peanuts friend. It was a blow when the last ribbon had been untied, the last scrap of paper and tape scrunched into the fireplace, and Gwen realized Snoopy hadn't come. I half recall Mum and Dad explaining gently what their reasoning was, to my sad little sister, but this might be an invention of my sympathetic memory.

The next Christmas approached. Gwen was seven: older, and possibly at an age when the delights of the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine would have lost their appeal. The roof, thought my parents, was possibly not as red. The ice chips, maybe a little coarse. Snoopy himself? Well, Gwen was probably more interested in Beezus and Ramona now. So when Christmas arrived, there was no sno-cone machine under the tree for Gwen.

None of us knew how much she still wanted it. It was only after everything was opened, again, that she mentioned her disappointment in its absence. My poor parents could only look at each other in the mute agony of self-reproach.

Okay, here it is: one year later, Gwen's eighth Christmas. The packages were stacked high - high! it was a fantastic year - a year of many overtime hours worked by my father. Like magic, when the last box was pulled from behind the tree, the tag said "Gwen".

We were all breathless. It's not too much to say that we watched her in rapturous glee - we were the Cratchits, gathered around Bob while he says "Why, where's our Martha?" She opened the box killingly slowly - a trick of hers. I think I whined like a peckish hyena. Finally it was there, in all its splendor: the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine. There was a collective sigh of happiness, a dashing away of sudden tears. What a moment it was, to see her face light up after two years of waiting.

For all there was a happy ending, and even though it was such a great toy, the tragic truth was that it came a year or two too late. My parents' prediction had, with time, come to pass: she was now too old for it. Gwen played with it once or twice, and looked at it a lot, but she had grown out of the Snoopy Sno-Cone was dust and ashes in her mouth.

Twenty-three years later, Christmas approached chez HalfSoledBoots. It was November 2006: suffused with high spirits, I made the uncharacteristically foolish mistake of pulling my child onto my knee, chuckling "Ho Ho Ho", and following it up with a jolly "What do you want for Christmas, little girl?"

Can I just say, what the F**K was I thinking?

My five-year-old turned and looked at me, eyes wide with wonder, dwindling innocence, and dawning avarice. "You mean.....I can ask for whatever I want?"

"Ctrl-Z!!! Ctrl-Z!!!" my brain screamed.

Now, you must understand that in our house you can choose to believe in Santa or not (unlike belief in God, which we encourage with regularly-administered physical beatings using the heaviest leather-bound King James we can find, while chanting the Ten Commandments), but primarily Christmas is not about The Stuff. But I forgot myself that one time, and ended up with a child who walked around in a daze for six entire weeks, stunned by visions of herself receiving, on Baby Jesus' Birthday, all three of the Holly Hobbie Design My Style dolls. She drew pictures of her three new friends. She watched the freakin' commercial a million times on the stupid website, sang the little jingle constantly, and absently muttered "Each Sold Separately" when colouring. She started dressing in whatever she could find that vaguely resembled Holly Hobbie, wrote out, coloured, and carefully cut out invitations to Amy and Carrie:


She was ecstatic to find out that you can join the "Hey Girls Club" online, and promptly became a member in good standing. She printed out the club handbook (or, as I privately refer to it, the Manifesto) and carried it around, asking me if I had any Good Deeds she could do, to record in her book.

I am a very careful Christmas toy shopper. I do not simply wander the aisles at the local Faceless Big Box Monster, scanning the shelves for whatever is on sale. I wait every year for the Canadian Toy Testing Council Toy Report to come out, and I consider my options based on what the Toy Report says. This approach has NEVER misled me. By the time Holly Hobbie came into our lives, the Playmobil Magic Castle set was stashed away in my mother's house, awaiting its Christmas Eve assembly. I had spent $260 carefully-considered dollars on this present, which was to be the only toy the girls received from us.

I worried a bit about Holly Hobbie. After all, Charlotte had never wanted something this badly before. I asked Mr HSBoots about it, and he dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "She only wants it because of the commercial. She'd be tired of it in a week."

The next day, Charlotte came racing out of her computer room, excited and happy, words tumbling over each other in their haste. "MUMMY! You have to come see what else they have on Holly Hobbie Dot Com! I still want the Design my Style dolls for Christmas - like-you-know-for-my-Christmas-Wish, but come see what else!" I dragged my feet a bit but in I went, and bent to see the screen just as she said:

"A Holly Hobbie and Friends Sno-Cone Machine!"

The heavens opened and a gigantic hand descended to write in huge script on the wall directly opposite me.


I think I murmured some politely interested vowel sounds, then staggered off to the laptop where I checked the online Bible to confirm the reference The Hand had given me:

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life."

My duty was clear. I started with the infamous Holly Hobbie website, hoping they would point me to a retailer. No luck. I went next to eBay, where I found to my horror that the Design My Style dolls were "This year's Hottest Toy!! Very HTF!!!! Sold out everywhere!!" My heart sank as I scrolled past listing after listing. Auctions for all three dolls were in the $125 USD range, plus $25 shipping to Canada. Holly Hobbie herself started at $45 USD, with an average of 45 bidders on each auction, and $18.99 shipping to Canada. There were no Canadian auctions: as far as I could discover, these toys were only available in the US.

As Christmas approached and Charlotte's enthusiasm showed no sign of waning (she was now asking me to put entirely unwarranted patches on her jeans) I agonized over this. I stayed up late into the night, obsessively checking auctions I thought others might have missed. Being on the west coast, I thought I had a good chance of grabbing a doll out from under some easterner who had already settled down for their long winter's nap, not counting on a sudden Dark Horse bid from someone three time zones behind them. At two-thirty one morning I bid on an auction that only had 23 other bidders, hadn't seen any new bids in 10 hours, and was 22 seconds from closing. I almost burst into tears when eBay instantly notified me that I had been automatically outbid. Did I care to increase my maximum bid? I could not afford to do so: with $20 worth of shipping to pay, I had no more money to throw at this toy.

I sat down with the phone one afternoon in early December, and called Every. Single. Toystore on this island. Only two had heard of the new Holly Hobbie, and only one of them had ordered, but had not received, the dolls. The owner held out no hope, though she said that she might be able to find me one in the February toy-buying fair.

During this wild goose chase, as Christmas and my daughter's disappointment loomed ever closer, I struggled with my conscience. I was terribly embarrassed to be chasing all over hell's half-acre after a toy for a child who already has plenty of toys. I felt guilty for contributing to the mass consumerist hysteria that engulfs parents at Christmas. I felt like a sellout, eschewing commercialism on the one hand, while the other was busy typing "Dear Seller: does this doll come with any outfits? What is the shipping to Canada? Want for Xmas please reply ASAP".

Christmas came and went. I tried - I really did - but I couldn't find her doll. I was so disappointed I could have cried. I took it harder than Charlotte herself did. She, bless her gentle heart, played happily with the Magic Castle set, and only once did she cuddle up on my lap and say, "I didn't get my Christmas Wish for a Holly Hobbie doll."

Since December, Charlotte has been saving up to buy her doll. She has a chore chart on the fridge, where we carefully record each time she completes her set tasks. She can earn a maximum of about $4 a week (but of course she has never earned the maximum). When she lost her first tooth Mr HSB insisted on putting Five Whole Dollars under her pillow, to give her a boost up the Holly Hobbie Hill. Once she had saved about $10, I thought I'd better get back on eBay. I was not surprised to see that the dolls had come down drastically in price - selling for around $20 to $25 each - but my heart almost stopped when I saw the word "DISCONTINUED". Amy and Carrie were there, but Holly herself? Nowhere to be found.

My poor little girl would not have the only thing she had ever asked for.

I had failed.

The End.

(Just kidding.)
Today I was walking downtown with my friend, talking about global warming. We wandered into the "Bargain Shop", a store I have been in only once in three years. Deeply discounted, overstock, odd lots, some irregulars - the type of place you go for a huge jug of bubble liquid for $1.75. We strolled down the toy aisle, wrinkling our noses at the Bratz, and idly turning over the odd Dora package.

Suddenly I saw it. On a high shelf: the side-edge of a blue box with white hearts and butterflies printed on it, along with a picture of the Hey Girls Club smiling and waving. I gasped and dashed around to the front of the shelf where I looked up and saw, as though heaven itself had set her down, Holly Hobbie in all her patchwork glory. Her freckled face beamed out of the clear plastic window, her cheerful smile poking gentle fun at me as I screamed hysterically. I cried, "Oh Sandy They're Fourteen Bloody Ninety-Seven Each!!" I snatched up three boxes filled with the Hey Girls, while casting wild glances over my shoulder as if I expected to see throngs of Holly-crazed moms ready to claw my eyes out and make off with my precious dollies.

All's well that ends well. My daughter, when she gets her doll, will be the happiest child that ever walked. I wanted so badly to speed home and throw the boxes into her arms, but reason prevailed and I will wait until she has finished earning her $15. We will make sure this doesn't take too long. After all, "hope deferred makes the heart sick."

Now I'm off to snuggle into my bed with a happy sigh, dreaming of sno-cone machines, the magic of Christmas morning, the bag full of dolls hiding in my linen closet, and a gigantic hand descending to write on my bedroom wall:

Matthew 25:23.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Pop a Wheelie.

In (very late) honour of Earth Day, some interesting information from an article in the current issue of the Canadian Institute of Planners' publication Plan Canada. This article, written by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, is entitled Cycling in Canada and the United States: Why Canadians are so far ahead. (Misleading title, by the way - as if some self-congratulation is in order...instead of which, no matter how "far ahead" we are, we still only use bikes for about 2% of work trips.) I am bulleting this information ruthlessly: there's a lot more where this came from, trust me. (Also: Emphasis mine - all mine.)

You might want to grab a cup of fairly-traded joe, by the way: this post is long and random, though its components are bound together by a strong theme: "We're Freaking Doomed".

One might assume that the colder climate in Canada would deter cycling and thus lead to a lower bike share of urban travel in Canada than in the United States. [But]the Yukon Territory - roughly the same latitude as Alaska - has a bike share of work trips more than twice as high as California's (2.0% vs. 0.8%) and more than three times as high as Florida's (0.6%).

...higher densities and mixed-use development in Canadian cities promote even greater transit use, while the lower densities and single-use zoning in most American cities encourage car use. ...Canadian cities [are found to be] 50% to 152% denser than US cities.

...lower levels of car ownership in Canada encourage cycling, just as they encourage transit use. Canadians have 41% fewer cars and light trucks per capita than Americans. Not only are incomes lower in Canada [average $30,500 USD vs. $37,000 USD], but the overall costs of owning and operating a car are higher. Perhaps most strikingly, gasoline prices in Canada have been about 50% higher than in the US over the entire period from 1990 to 2003. parking in Canada is less available and more expensive than in the United States...American cities, on average, set minimum parking requirements three times higher than in Canadian cities.

The greater availability of transit services in Canada complements bike use by serving those trips too long to cycle, thus facilitating a less car-dependent lifestyle. ...Canadians average 46 transit trips a year compared to only 24 transit trips per American.

Canadian cities average almost three times as many kilometres of bike paths and lanes per capita as the American cities sampled. [These stats] do not include signed bike routes on roadways or traffic-calmed residential streets....

One obvious factor that can discourage cycling is the risk of death and injury in traffic crashes. Graph 2 shows rates of cycling fatalities per 100 million kilometres cycled in each of seven European and two North American countries.

While the bike share of work trips is three times higher in Canada than in the US, it still represents only about one percent of trips, a very small share indeed. ...many European cities have fully integrated, comprehensive bikeway networks, something that no Canadian city currently offers.

Forgive me for a moment while I stagger in shock at the news that Canadians average only 46 transit trips per year. What?!?! That means Canadians only take the bus/train every EIGHT DAYS.

Take the quiz and find out just how awful you really are. Telling the painful truth about things, I end up at 4.7 global hectares. Apparently, if everyone lived like me, we would need 2.6 planets.


Sometimes I worry about how dependent North American - and particularly US - culture is on oil and gas. Sometimes I think those who have a vested interest in such things might be willing to go to diabolical lengths to maintain their fossil-fuel-driven lifestyle.

Realistically, we Canadians are married to the US. If They go down, We go down. Eventually we're all going to be out of oil...They might run out before We do. When that happens, what will become of us, the pacific northern neighbour with all that nice black sand, and all the pretty sparkling miles of protected oceans?

Hey, no worries, right? Dubya himself said we're in this together. Boy we're lucky.

By the way - here is another addition to my ongoing meme. Probably unnecessary considering the content of this post.

3- I literally lie awake nights worrying about the state of the planet and the fact that I might have doomed my precious children and all our subsequent descendants, by the act of creating them, to a short cramped life in some biosphere somewhere, maybe on the ocean floor where the toxic rays of the fiery sun are filtered and therefore unable to instantaneously burn the flesh from their helpless bodies. Like Battle School - the water you drink has been through everyone's kidneys seven times.

And yet, with all that going on in my head, I still manage to worry that the gelato dispenser scorns me.

Lastly, a bit of beauty to soften the ragged edges of this random post.

Ode to Bicycles

I was walking
a sizzling road:
the sun popped like
a field of blazing maize,
was hot,
an infinite circle
with an empty
blue sky overhead.

A few bicycles
me by,
the only
that dry
moment of summer,
barely stirred
the air.

Workers and girls
were riding to their
their eyes
to summer,
their heads to the sky,
sitting on the
beetle backs
of the whirling
that whirred
as they rode by
bridges, rosebushes, brambles
and midday.

I thought about evening when
the boys
wash up,
sing, eat, raise
a cup
of wine
in honor
of love
and life,
and waiting
at the door,
the bicycle,
only moving
does it have a soul,
and fallen there
it isn't
a translucent insect
through summer
a cold
that will return to
when it's needed,
when it's light,
that is,
of each day.

Pablo Neruda

Yes, I was very tempted to mess with the line breaks in this poem. But I didn't.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Lot Can Happen in 50km

So here it is: our Fun Day in pictures. Captions are below the photos, not above them (in case the spacing goes all random again).

First, a dress I was dying to buy. Unfortunately, it fit none of us.

Do you recall things like this being in toy stores? Because I don't.

"Oh Mummy, thank you for buying me a nice pasta lunch."

That's Better.

The Gelato Counter. Scene of my humiliation.

The Gelato Customers. That's Caramelatte on the left, and Raspberry Cassis on the right. In the foreground you see Mango.


On the way home, I took the scenic route. These pictures are of things that all made me feel better, while brooding about my paucity of glamour and surfeit of children.

Clumsy, Bletherer: these are for you. ('Though it wasn't a Sunday morning.)


What my lovely Nanny used to call 'Happy Cows'.

Study: Barn with Cumulonimbus.

Sounds like fun.

Dear Sir-Who-Drives-This-Vehicle: You should not tickle your female passenger so persistently. Even I can tell she is getting annoyed - it was probably kind of titillating at first, but now it is just pissing her off. Plus, all that distraction might cause you to crash your car. Signed, the Lady Behind You Who Took Most of These Pictures Without Even Slowing Down.

And now these following are kind of special pictures. When I was a kid growing up here, the most annoying part of this particular route was the tendency of other drivers (particularly tourists) to allow their attention to wander severely while navigating this stretch of road, causing a drastic reduction in speed, and a dangerous meandering. I never got why they were quite so enamoured of the view. But then I matured, and now I have a proper appreciation for it.

To my right

To my left. (That darkish promontory there at centre left is Quadra Island - home of Fun Knits.)

At centre, some people who obviously have their priorities straight.

Oh...That's Gloomy.

Sometimes I feel so defeated by my circumstances. I think I am one way, then I round a corner and unexpectedly the truth confronts me.

Our plan for the day was to go to Winners and get the kids some pyjamas, then get some lunch. Then we'd go to the 5th Street shops to play in the toy store for a bit, get an ice cream cone, and find a birthday present for my mother.

We were in the posh hand-poured chocolates store, choosing our ice cream cones. The girl behind the counter had black and pink hair, piercings and a complex tattoo up the entirety of one arm. Throughout the whole process of gazing through the glass, helping my five-year-old read the labels, and choosing what they wanted to have, the server was putting across waves of disdain. There was palpable scorn, covered with the thinnest-possible veneer of civility.

Unfortunately it takes me a few minutes to recognize rudeness when it comes my way. I don't know why this should be: whether it's because I am in a pleasant world of my own, or if it's because I expect others to extend the same courtesies to me as I do to them. In any case, after I paid, thanked her, handed the kids the ice cream, and was pocketing my wallet I realized that the complicated tattoo I had noticed before was in fact an illustration from Dr Seuss' "Oh The Places You'll Go!" I was about to compliment her on it when I saw her send a freezing glance in my daughters' direction then roll her eyes at a coworker before turning away without a word.

Why the disdain of a total stranger should undermine me so completely, I have no idea. Why it matters what she thinks of me and my children, I don't know. Maybe she got me at a bad moment, already tired and a little frustrated with managing the kids' excited day, and what I mistook for scorn was actually indifference.

That, actually, might even be worse.

Anyhow, whether it had anything to do with me or not, I felt like what I suppose I actually am: a harassed, tired-looking woman dressed more for comfort than fashion, with minimal makeup, pushing back those strands that always escape from the hairclip, two small ragtag children in my wake, and maybe a few days past that critical moment when I really should have shaved my legs.

There's not much point dwelling on it. I am what I am - it's been a long time since I was 22 years old, with pink hair and no stretch marks.

I felt this irrational urge to shout at her "I LIKE your tattoo! I LOVE your tattoo! And your pink hair? I LOVE your pink hair! Inside this unimpressive and possibly frumpy exterior beats the heart of a ONCE-COOL CHICK just like you!"


Quick Boring Update

We are languishing here at Maison HSB, waiting for Mr HalfSoledBoots to come home from a four-day conference. The night he arrived there he phoned and said he had opted out of the "Meet and Greet" event which opened the conference, because he wouldn't know anybody there. "Hence the name," I remarked.

But that is the strange thing about being as garrulous and outgoing as I am: you end up surrounded by those who are, themselves, shy and retiring. We chatty folks are the only ones with the power to draw them out of their shells.

Last night my (shy and retiring) friend came over to do a bit of dancin' and zillin' and shakin' of the booty, then stayed to (re)watch Once More With Feeling. We had Fresca and buttery maple-sugar-sprinkled popcorn. It was so nice to spend some time with a fellow Buffy zealot.

So I haven't had much time to post this week, due to single-parenting. It's not so much that I am doing two people's jobs: it's more that it feels a bit like a holiday from the normal state of things, and the girls and I have been making the most of it. Today we are on our way to the picturesque and retail-rich city of Courtenay, to look at the bellydance store, buy some pyjamas for my little sweeties (at a different shop, of course), and get an ice cream cone. The sun is finally showing itself today, so it's a good chance to get some walking and playing done. I'll do my best to present a pictorial record upon our return.

PS: Wanna see some Ogee progress? I present Sleeve the First.

I estimate I'm only about 70% done this sweater. Kill me now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I'm Speechless

With all the crap on YouTube, it's hard to find something good. But this...THIS is what I'm talking about. Sit through the first 3:30 and you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I'd Worry, but I'm Too Busy Watching Hockey

You Are 12% Girly

Um... you're a guy, right? If not, you're the most boyish girl in the world.

And for you, that's probably the ultimate compliment.

Hatch Day

Common Welsh Green Socks
Stitch Pattern: Marnie Maclean's Wyvern Sock, with modifications
Needle: 2.75mm Aero metal circular
Method: Toe-up, Magic Loop
Yarn: Sweet Georgia's merino handpaint, colourway "Dragon"
Yarn Source & Cost: Pick Up Sticks, $22
Cast On: March 13, 2007
Bound Off: April 8, 2007
As discussed, the yarn is very soft. Because of this softness, I think durability will be an issue. Also, due to the loose spin, a lot of felting happened while short-rowing the heel.

As to the pattern, I was disappointed that, though it comes in several sizes, the central "scale" pattern remains constant in size. So, because I knit the largest size, I had to find something interesting to do with the extra ten or so stitches, to avoid the appearance of a narrow strip of pattern right down the centre of my foot. Also, the pattern as given does not have the scale design on the back of the leg - instead, the back stitches are in ribbing, as are the sole stitches. I didn't care too much for this, so I changed the sole to stockinette, added twisted 1x1 rib on the sides of the ankle, and continued the scale stitch pattern to the back of the calf.

One good thing about this pattern is that, being a basic double-increase/double-decrease, it was easy to memorize and quick to knit. Each sock only took me a couple of days to actually knit, though there was some time off in between socks so, altogether, the pair took me three weeks.

Short-row heels seem to be too loose for me, so once I got the heel knit and started in the round again, I did a couple of decreases at the centre back of the heel to nip it in a little bit. This worked well, but I think next time I will reduce it even further, to make a tighter ankle. With an hour or so of wear, they are starting to feel a little slippery in the heel. (This is in part because I short-rowed the heel about 4 rows too far - you can see, in the above picture, that the right heel is slightly square and pointy. That will go away with a bit of wear, though.)

I wanted to have some sort of flow when transitioning from the inc./dec. pattern to the ribbing at the top of the leg, so I did some fiddling around with the 1X1 twisted rib and ended up with a cuff that's slightly reminiscent of Pomatomus. I like this part of the sock, though no one else might notice it (you can see it a little bit in the above picture).

I'm not 100% happy with how these socks turned out. I think if I were to make dragonish socks again, I would look a bit harder for a more effective scaly chart, or invent one myself. Also, I'm not sure how I like that twisted rib panels on the sides. Not worth fixing though, for house socks.


Before I leave you, here is our Easter Tree. It was nice to do but I must say the weather could have been more cooperative. It started to rain as we were hanging the eggs on Sunday morning, and it poured all day and all night. By Monday morning it was a woebegone sight, chilly wet eggs dripping pastel shades of rainwater onto the sodden grass. I must say it wasn't the triumphant-return-of-life celebration I was hoping for. We'll try it again next year though - the children had a lot of fun with it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Eggy Woolly Flow'ry Clappy

24 eggs, their contents removed by me, by dint of blowing through pinholes


a miasmic haze of dye and vinegar


the biggest headache of my life. But look:

pretties! In the end there were 22 eggs, since two broke during the blowing process. Utterly disgusting. Also I had the unnerving experience of being watched intently through the window the entire time by a robin whose beady eye did not waver. I felt shamed, jaded - like an abortionist at playgroup.

It wasn't me, Cock Robin. Don't judge me. Those poultry farm chickens are sellout whores anyway. Should they really be given the chance to reproduce?

Tomorrow we decorate, and Sunday morning they will be hung in the apple tree outside, the tips of whose branches are swollen with the promise of buds. How deliciously pagan of us.


Spring continues despite inclement weather and, with every moment of sunshine, visible progress is made by nature

and by (wo)man.

Speaking of verdancy, let me show you a problem I'm having with my Common Welsh Green socks. I am working short-row heels on this pair, and I'm using a new-to-me yarn: Sweet Georgia's handpainted merino. Now, I am a huge fan of Felicia from way back - I've been lurking on her blog for ages, and always wanted to get some of her sock yarn but never managed it - just not fast enough on those days when she updated her shop. Luckily for me, Pick Up Sticks started stocking her yarns and I snapped some up. To be exact, I snapped up three pairs' worth. Now, I am turning the heel on my first pair of Sweet Georgia socks, and here is what the final wraps look like, as I come around to the last few rows of heel:

That fuzzy mass you see at the right side of the needle there? That mass is actually 5 separate stitches, all fused together just from the friction of my hand as I knit the centre heel stitches. By the time I had zigged and zagged across the heel for a total of 40 rows or so, those stitches were so felted that the plies couldn't be seen at all. They were so tight on the needle that in the end I had to switch to a smaller needle to knit them. I figure I am going to get 2, maybe 3 wears out of these socks, unless I refrain completely from standing or walking while I have them on. Then I should be okay until the nap of the couch wears a hole into them.

The problem is the softness of the yarn (and the loose spin). Over the year or so that I've been knitting socks, I have realized something. You can have "soft merino", or you can have "durable". I love wool socks, I love fancy hand-dyes and soft tootsies, but I just can't deal with disposable knitting. I have two pairs of socks in my darning basket: my Koigu Elfine socks, and my Fleece Artist Lacy Scallops socks. The Elfine socks have an enormous hole that appeared out of nowhere on their 8th or so wear (no shoes, of course, and with the heightened consciousness that comes from knowing you have thousands of careful stitches and hours of painstaking work on your clumsy callused feet), and the Lacy Scallops socks are waiting patiently for their THIRD darning.

The lesson? That $22-per-skein, hand-dyed, hand-spun, 100% merino wool would be perfect for wristwarmers (no fingers, naturally, due to high traffic and the inevitable holes), for hats (unless you have dreadlocks, because then you risk hat-hair fusion [which - it occurs to me - if you have dreadlocks, is probably fine with you]) and of course for fair-isle anything, which sort of lends itself to felt-prone yarn anyway, and carries the bonus of a double-layer for hole-prevention.

Despite my discouragement, and the certainty of darning to come, I am forcing myself to finish these socks so that I can cast on for Clapotis. Lizbon suggested it for use with my divine Hollyhock Malabrigo (pictured below), and I do believe she's on to something... The quicker I get these socks finished, the quicker we can see if she's as right as I think she is.

Edit: Sweet fancy Moses, could I use more punctuation?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I May be Suffering from Low Self Esteem.

I've been thinking that I should put up some pictures of know, because it's just more interesting when you know who you're talking to. So here it is, the blogger's self-portrait.
My eyes look blue in this picture, but in reality they are green. Also I don't remember my shoes being so disparate in size, but they say cameras don't lie, so...
Luckily there are prettier things to look at than me, and here are some.
At my front door.
In front of my stoop.
What I created today.
The top of my fridge.