Thursday, January 31, 2008

Too Bad 'You Knit What?" Is Defunct.

The spring Interweave Knits Preview is up.

I was thinking of doing a critique of it - and there are certainly three things I like.....okay, more like two. Aleita Shell, Bleeding Hearts Stole. But I realized that, overall, I could sum up in one word - a rarity for me.


Questions? Comments?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

As long as they pay for the yarn.

Celebrity Knitting Queue

1-Tea cosy for Sarah Michelle Gellar, to give poor Buffy a break for one measly hour.
"I don't want any trouble. I just want to be alone and quiet in a room with a chair and a fireplace and a tea cozy. I don't even know what a tea cozy is, but I want one." Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3:1

2-The Widdicombe Fair afghan for Shiloh Pitt-Jolie (Jolie-Pitt?), to give her something cuddly under which to hide from her mother's resentment that the little girl was born and not adopted.

3- Cabled willie warmer for Pee Wee Herman.
"It's like you're unravelling a large cable-knit sweater that somebody keeps knitting, aaaaand knitting, aaaaand knitting, aaaaand........." Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

4-Scarf made from hundreds of big, many-coloured crocheted and knitted flowers, for Macy Gray. Because she's a good kind of crazy that way.

5-Single-ply cashmere/silk twin set for Reese Witherspoon, to teach her that happiness depends on fiber content.
"No, David: nobody is happy in a poodle skirt and a sweater set." Jennifer, Pleasantville

6-Felted soundproof earmuffs for Katie Holmes.

7-Postmodern legwarmers for Karen Kain.

8-Set of beanies for the barenaked ladies, one of my all-time favourite bands. Because they'd wear them.

9-The Intolerable Cruelty skirt for Jamie Lee Curtis.

10-Icarus Shawl for Britney Spears. Not that she'd understand.

Thanks to Knititch for the idea for this post.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Terasen can wait.

I can't believe I forgot to post about this, but contest winner Kris has a draw of her own going on right now. Check it out. Tell her you came from HSBoots.

Remember when I said yesterday that I have already spent the $100 G00gle is going to pay me at the end of February?

Did you wonder what I spent it on?

1-I've been wanting it for over a year.

2-It will be my meisterwerk.

3-It is coming from here.

Oh yes, oh yes. I finally bought it.

I must say: lace is WAAAAY cheaper to knit than Fair Isle. This sucker is going to be about $240 by the time I have paid for the extra yarn (it needs to be a bit longer to be useable) and the exchange from pounds sterling. Hopefully Postes Canada Post doesn't sock me for duty - sometimes they are merciful (and sometimes they're not).

But money isn't everything, and this will be a really beautiful piece. What better way to spend some settlement money?

Monday, January 28, 2008

An Inner Monologue, and a Winner.

Just to get the technicalities out of the way, here was my scientific method. I assigned names to numbers from 1 to 21, scrawled said numbers randomly on a piece of interlined paper torn from Charlotte's notebook, folded the paper, shut my eyes, and jabbed with a hatpin.

"Okay, let's see. Which number is closest to that hole? Ah ha!!"

Kris, it's your lucky day! Send me your address by email (see sidebar) and I will have your winnings in the mail by Friday.

"Oh this is gonna be so great. She's going to love this yarn. Yay!

"Wait a second. What is this I feel? Badness? Guilt? Sympathy for the disappointment of my commenters? Oh crap."

So, I jabbed again.

Ames! Girl!! The hatpin loved you!

"Crap. She's my sister-in-law. People are gonna think it was a setup. Should I have a do-over? But that wouldn't be right: I jabbed her number, fair and square.

"Now I feel cheap for not giving away all of it. Should I give away all of it? It's only $90 worth of yarn...and the G00gle deposit is only a month away...but I've already spent it.....WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME?!? They are all grownups!!"

But I'm still so very sorry.

Hopefully it won't be long before I can do another one of these...think positive!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Free To Good Home


Here we are, at Half Soled Boots' 198th post. Coincidentally, my G00gle revenue has just reached $100, which means I get paid next month, which is GREAT NEWS for a stay-at-home mum suffering from a lack of jingle in her jeans.

To celebrate, I think I'll give away some yarn. In fact, I have decided that, in the interests of my stash reduction and to share the love a bit, I'll do a giveaway every time G00gle pays me. It just puts me in such a good mood when that happens. Also, that way, if I end up giving away something I'd really prefer to keep, I can afford to replace it. I can also afford to tuck a few extra things into the recipient's box.

I don't often get paid, actually - only about every five or six months...the clicks do take a while to add up. But whenever I reach the magic number, I'll post a request for comments. Anyone showing interest will be entered into a draw of some sort.

Today's prize will be your choice of one of these four Valentine-tinted skeins of sock yarn, all of which retail for about $22 (although at least two of them are no longer for sale).

From bottom left to top right:

1) Fleece Artist (unnamed colourway) washable, hand-dyed 100% merino. 325 meters - 115g. Ball band gives tension at 26/4" on a 3mm needle. This yarn comes from Nova Scotia - I bought it at Victoria's Beehive Wool Shop. The colour is lively and intense - cheerful, tooth-achingly pink. It is tightly spun, and has a beautiful, almost silky sheen. This is a candy store yarn if I ever saw makes me think of the cool spicy crunch of Island Farms' Peppermint Candy ice cream - with swirls of melted pink sugar and rocky chunks of crushed magenta sweetness.

2) Seacoast Handpainted washable 100% merino, in colourway "Raspberries". 560 yards (no weight). Ball band gives tension at 7-8/inch (no needle size given). This one makes my mouth water...the colours are delicious, ranging from a cool silvery grey to an intense purpley magenta. There are bands of rose, orchid, lavender. This yarn reminds me of nothing so much as heavy, softly whipped cream streaked with the chilled juice of fresh, dusky berries swirled in....or the purple-stained fingers you get when you've been picking them right off the canes. (Are you getting the idea that I love this particular skein?) I bought this from Pick Up Sticks.

3) Blue Moon Fiber Arts' "Socks that Rock" in colourway Rose Quartz. 100% superwash merino, mediumweight. 380 yards - 5.5 oz. Tension is given as 8 stitches per inch on size 2-3 needles. I bought this yarn in Washington, USA, where I had trouble picking from all the beautiful shades. This colour was so appealing - pink overall, but with many subtle variations throughout the skein. The colour ranges from flecks of a bronzey-peach, to sections of pale mauve. The pinks are subdued - very subtle. (The close-up photo, below, does not reflect the colour as accurately as the group picture above.) The yarn is tightly spun, with a matte finish. Readers of the Yarn Harlot might recognize this yarn from the "Big Pink Thing" she knit for her friend with kidney cancer. When I read that post I was happy I had already bought this yarn - figuring it would be hard to find that colour from now on.

4) Sweet Georgia Yarns' Handpainted Sock in colourway "Merlot". 100% merino, NOT SUPERWASH. 420yds/384m - 112 grams. Tension is given as 28-32 over 4" on a 2.25mm - 3.25mm needle. This yarn also came from Pick Up Sticks. The colour is not as deep as I thought it would be - I guess that's why it's called "Merlot", not "Cabernet Sauvignon". The reds range from a pale, orange-tinted rose to deep ruby. The yarn has a matte finish, with a medium spin. I knit my Common Welsh Green socks out of a green version of the same yarn, and I can vouch for its longevity. It wears well, due to the untreated wool which felts slightly with wear. You should also know that, having finished an entire pair of toe-up socks with one skein, I have a great deal of yarn left over - definitely enough to knit some booties, possibly enough to have added another whole repeat to each sock. The yardage is excellent.

What you must do, elegant and clever readers, is simply comment that you'd like to be included in the draw, and which skein you would prefer to have. (Or, you could say you haven't decided -- we can talk about it later.) I will announce the winner on Monday, January 28, and will mail the prize by Friday next.

Oh, I should also say, pet-free-smoke-free-well-loved-not-stored-in-sunlight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Profanation of Holy Writ

Dear Person Who Last Borrowed Aran Knitting from the Library:

I borrowed this book both before and after you did. Did you think I wouldn't notice?

I don't know who you think you are, but if there's a hell you have earned yourself a special place in it for slicing four pages out of an out-of-print Alice Starmore reference and pattern book.

I can assure you that anything bad that happens to you in the future, whether during the knitting of St Brigid or at any point thereafter, is entirely and completely due to your cowardly desecration of this most sacred of texts. Not only is it a STARMORE book, but it's ARAN KNITTING and it's A LIBRARY COPY, you utter Philistine. You deserve whatever punishment heaven and the knitting gods mete out for your crime. Get ready to be jostling Judas Iscariot for elbow room in the ninth circle of hell.

And I'm TOTALLY TELLING. The library and Ms. Starmore will BOTH hear about this disgusting show of selfishness. They may not be able to do anything to you in this world, but be sure you will get your comeuppance in the next.

Indignantly yours,

PS: With all my heart I wish you moths.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Ten Things I Like About You

1. You are very different than me.

2. You savour the small things.

3. You know what it's like to have loved - and lost.

4. You like lists.

5. You make me think in quotes.

6. You never forget my daughters.

7. You have sumptuous taste in yarn.

8. You don't have to have everything figured out.

9. You have an eye for beauty.

10. You surprise me.

Thank you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Voice of Reason is Ridiculously Young.

I have spent much of the day in verbal negotiations with my youngest daughter. She is at the foot-stamping, hands-on-hips age of 3.5, wherein she desires nothing more than to escape the totalitarian state under whose oppression she currently languishes, and set up a new utopian society called "The Wuhlud Wheya Kids Can Do WHATEVAH THEY WANT TO WIF NO. MUMMIES!!!!" (You have to shriek that last part.)

By 11.30 I was extremely cross. I had a raging headache, my womb was cramping (because it can't quite believe it produced this viper) and I was literally biting my lips to keep from screaming. As I stood there slowly counting to ten twenty, the six-year-old raised her head from the book she was reading and calmly observed, "Something tells me she's not going to do what you want."

I'm thinking of renting her out for interventions.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The woman behind the curtain.

I did something today I've never done before.

I was reading a blog I subscribe to, but don't actually visit often. I have left the occasional comment, but for the most part I don't enter into the discussion at hand. This morning, on rereading a post, something got on my nerves. In a moment of irritation I typed out a remark that was uncalled for, unfair, and mean-spirited.

And what's more, I clicked on "Post".

Remorse instantly seized me, and a few minutes later I was back on the site, trying - in vain - to delete the comment.

I went around here feeling terrible all day. And I didn't feel a bit worse than I deserved to feel. Then, I got an email from the author, who is not a reader of mine and has only been here once that I know of. She was pardonably upset, and though I defended the irritation behind my comment, I could not defend the comment itself.

My emailed retraction doesn't matter though - we bloggers are not real people, and certainly not friends with each other though we leave comments with smileys and exclamation marks. And you can't apologize to a non-person with non-communication such as email: and the non-person can't forgive you either.

But I have learned a couple of lessons.

1-You get what you give, and there aren't any takebacks.
2-The pen might be mightier than the sword, but a conscience makes the deepest cuts of all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

That and This.

I am 34 years old. Mr HSBoots and I got married 11 years ago. And look! Just two days ago I grew up and got some furniture!

It's amazing how long these things can take. There always seems to be money for everything else except furniture, lamps, non-essential stuff like that. But I've finally had enough. After all, why else would I have a huge car accident, followed by a smallish ICBC settlement, if not to finally have a place to put the dishes?

I've been knitting on the Log Cabin blanket, but it's not working out like I had hoped. The thing is, the spiral design would have looked great if I had 20 balls of the same three different colours. Unfortunately, I have 20 balls of about 7 different colours. I would have done better to have knit a traditional log cabin, with a dark half and a light half, divided down the diagonal axis. But I'm not ripping this out. It's a 38" square so far, and it just keeps growing.

I won this yarn at the Fun Knits inventory party - six hours of pure leg-crampy, hip-ach-ey hell, punctuated by hourly yarn giveaways and crowned with the best pizza I've ever had. I was lucky enough to win the Grand Prize, which was the yarn for this blanket. It came in kit form, actually, to make a cool afghan made up of blocks of intarsia.


My skin crawls just typing that word.

So I opted for the multi-coloured log cabin throw instead, and I must say I love it despite its confusion of hues. It's amazing how tempted I was to buy yarn so I could keep the colours consistent. I firmly squashed the urge, though, and have been working on accepting the fact that, whatever its colours, the blanket will be fantastically warm.

D'you know what I hate? Every single weekday, the postie drops off the mail. But instead of going down Next-Door's driveway, along the street, and up my driveway, Dude just ducks under the trees and crosses our two lawns. See the evidence?

And he comes round at 9.30 AM, just when I'm sitting near the front window checking my email and drinking my cuppa. Every single morning I about have a heart attack when a man's shape suddenly looms up directly outside the window. I don't know why I am still surprised when he does this.

So if anyone from Postes Canada Post is reading this and knows what policy he's violating (I DO know they're not allowed to cross your lawn) please email me and tell me who I should address my letter to.

In case there is anyone still reading this profound post, I would like to publicly thank Penny, of Random Thoughts from Another Dilettante, for choosing me as the winner of her two-year blogiversary contest. I got this delicious banana yarn - as well as some tasty UK goodies - a good while ago and kept meaning to post about it.

I haven't completely decided what to make, yet, but I do have some ideas. I saw a beautiful scarf in Fun Knits while I was there counting yarn and trying not to gibber with crazed frustration, and I think I'll beg the pattern off Shelley. It looks like just a yo k2tog with edge increases/decreases to create a cool bias thing - only about 8 inches wide. It's nice and I think it'll look good with this yarn. Thanks, Penny!

PS: Thank you so much, everyone who voted for me in the Canadian Blog Awards. I must say, the thought that people might be coming here to check whether the blog is any good kind of gives me writer's block. ("You don't say.")

Uh oh. The Yarn Harlot just asked everybody to go vote for her friend who is nominated under the category "Best Personal Blog".

So thanks anyway guys. I guess I can hang that belly dance costume back up now.
: )

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No Ballot Confusion Here

Just checking in to say the voting for the Canadian Blog Awards has begun. If you are inclined to vote for Half Soled Boots in the category of Best Personal Blog, you can do so here. Just click on "Best Personal Blog", and scroll down until you find me. You are only permitted one vote per category (sadly).

There are no restrictions as to location, so all my southern neighbours are welcome to chime in.

Thanks guys.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Departure.

This blog is kind of frivolous. I write about yarn, books, my children, little frustrations, domestic worries. I don't try to change the world, or even intentionally to make it a better place. The things you hear about are the things I choose to tell you - not even necessarily the truth about myself, and never the whole truth. I have chosen to keep things more or less light.

I recently got back in touch with my uncle Joe and his partner Dave, after years of comparative - though amicable - silence. I started reading Dave's blog, and he mine. You've probably seen him in the comments.

Last week he wrote about a shocking hate crime that was committed in England last August against a disabled man. If you Google "Brent Martin murder", Dave's blog entry is the second result shown. I will leave the details to you to discover if you choose to - I don't wish to discuss them here because they sicken me.

Dave has asked that his readers observe, in their own way, a period of mourning as a protest for this unconscionable crime. I have been thinking about it since, and considering what I can best do.

I don't have much of a voice in the world. I am what I am. I stay at home, literally, spending a lot of intensive time with my children. I don't go many places - maybe the house of a friend a couple of times a week. I read. I make things. I do dishes.

But I can speak to you, whoever you are who is reading this blog. And God hears my voice. So I am telling you about it, and I am praying.

I am praying for peace and hearts' ease for Brent's family. I'm praying for the jury's wisdom. Praying that his murderers - mere boys - feel their guilt, so that they can feel remorse, so that they can repent. Praying that the world I brought my children into is not as bad as I fear it is.

Poor, poor man.

Rest. In peace.

Could you just DIE?

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 1, Number 4

Boho Baby Knits
The book is cute. Really cute. I mean, seriously, this?

is adorable.

There are a lot of choices in here, especially for a fairly new knitter who is game to experiment with techniques (there are lace stitches, some shaping, lots of colourwork both stranded and intarsia). A few years ago, when all my friends were filling up their playpens with children, I would have got a whole lot of use out of this book...the designs have that touch of Different, which I love.

This is the Poet Coat

which is great in theory, though you'd need to know your recipient - and his mother - if you planned to make it for a boy. I would imagine you'd get a blank look and a bright smile from most people.

The designs are loaded with bright, saturated colours. Knitting for kids is great that can deck them out like Tiffany lamps and nobody bats an eye. (Not that eye-batting should be considered a deterrent if you, yourself want to wear flamboyant and remarkable colours.) Thankfully, most of the garments are for toddlers rather than older children - I find that as they age some children tend to become a bit self-conscious about their clothes. I figure we should jam them into as many luminous, screaming jumpers as possible before that phase hits.

I love this:

And these wings have potential:

But my favourite designs from the whole book are the legwarmers. They are given in two colours - khaki, shown above, and pink:

I would like to make the legwarmers immediately, but I don't think I have the yarn or a suitable recipient. Practicality is everything around here these days, and the realist within me says none of the children of my acquaintance will wear them. But I know of two women who are expecting babies (though only one of them is, technically, a friend of mine), and another who is likely to have another in the next year or two. So I think I'll hunt down some scraps of sock yarn and make this, instead.

I do take issue with one aspect of the book. There is one design whose introduction states something like "natural moms know that woollen soakers are a must to prevent cloth diapers from leaking", but the photo shows two babies in woollen soakers and hats, REACHING FOR BOTTLES. This brings me to the last thing I want to mention.

The book is marketed as for "bohemian babies", but it's a Starbucks kind of bohemian - not a Montmartre, Soho, Bloomsbury Group kind of bohemian (despite the presence of a design named "Bloomsbury Nursing Shawl"). It'll cost you a pretty penny to make some of these designs, too. The purist within me raises a cynical eyebrow at the idea of a shiny, glossy $35 book - full of babies in privileged surroundings, clad in $120 garments - being called "Boho". It seems a misnomer....but then, I guess "artistic licence" was arguably the whole point of Bohemianism.

Anyway, I don't think I'll descend into an ideological debate with poor Kat Coyle, whose lovely book has some quite nice designs for children. I am noticing within myself a tendency to overcomplicate things lately.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"But what will I WEAR?"

I've been nominated for the Canadian Blog Awards in the category "Best Personal Blog". This startled me. It made me uneasy for some reason - I felt pressure. At first I was so nervous I thought, "This will no doubt result in a flurry of non-posting", but then I realised that, historically, I can't shut up. So I'm sure things will be fine.

I don't know if there's voting involved.... is there? But if there is, well I guess I wouldn't mind if you guys went over and voted for me. Just if you've got the time, only if you're not too busy. When I win my fabulous gem-studded prize I will give a very gracious acceptance speech. And I'll offer pie to all those who live close enough to come get some.

PS: Thanks for nominating me, Dave. You're so supportive....seriously. Ever since I was 12 and won a red velcro wallet in the Toronto Sun poetry contest, for which you entered my stirring "Raccoon" piece. Win or not, I owe you some pie.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Coronation of the one-eyed man.

Sab·o·tage. Pronunciation: \ˈsa-bə-ˌtäzh\ Etymology: French, from 'saboter' to clatter with sabots. 3 a: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt b: deliberate subversion

I've been troubled with headaches lately. This morning I was pressing my hands against my eyes to relieve the ache a bit, but sadly I had put my glasses down on the duvet, whence they slipped to the floor without my noticing. I squinted down at the carpet myopically, then took a step back without thinking.


Now my entire day is going to be wasted, first searching feeling around the catastrophically messy laundry room for my old glasses, then going to the local very-crappy-optometrist's to either get contacts or get the broken ones fixed.

But I am not only here to bore you with trivia about my day, but to bore you with updates on my crafting.

Last night I made some progress on the Cap Shawl. That is, I knitted ten rounds and tinked six after discovering two inexplicable increase errors in what should have been blissfully easy knitting.

Since that wasn't going so well, I put it down and picked up Charlotte's Christmas stocking. After a couple of hours spent on that, I realized there was a chart error and I had done about 30 minutes' worth of work in the wrong colour. So I pulled it out and did it again.

With another wrong colour.

So then I went to bed. And what I'm here to ask you is this. Is there a malevolent fairy casting her powdered glass over whatever I set my hand to? Or, to lay the blame where it most probably belongs, do you believe that your state of mind can directly affect events in your life? Do you believe that a persistent nagging suspicion of your own incompetence can, in fact, undermine your competence?

I need Tony Robbins.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

You can take the girl out of UVic, but......

This box arrived at my house today, long before it was expected.

Note the pattern on the tissue. It can only mean one thing:

There IS a Doctor in the house.

And not a moment too soon.

The handknitted socks feel right at home.

Oh, yeah: here's some knitting. Progress on the Log Cabin (note the colour change - such is the nature of stashbusting) and the Cap Shawl.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Togas: the New Look for Spring

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 1, Number 3

Don't you love it when a book makes you laugh out loud? I read a lot, and over the years it's gotten harder to find something that will really crack me up. Gods Behaving Badly was so funny. Maybe it's just because I'm a Classics geek, but I LOVED this book. The premise is that the Greek gods, though no one believes in them any more, have relocated from Olympus to London. They live together in a poky house and, though they are still responsible for their traditional tasks, have begun to lose their power. They've had to take jobs to support themselves, but don't really excel at it. (Except for Aphrodite, who is in high demand as a phone-sex operator.)

400 years living in the same house have taken their toll, and the gods spend a fair bit of time sniping and backbiting each other. These are the best bits of the book, actually, and highly amusing - especially if you're familiar with the Greek pantheon. In one scene, Artemis interrupts Ares at his work. He is muttering, "This War on Terror isn't producing enough casualties. Bringing in Iran is the obvious choice, but I don't think they've got enough firepower yet. I wonder if I could somehow antagonise Japan?" And Hermes, to a mortal: "Did you shag [Apollo]? I wouldn't worry about that. Everybody shags him. Even I've shagged him. That was during a very boring decade."

The novel is centred around Artemis and Apollo, for the most part. (I liked this: Artemis was the focus of my 4th year Directed Readings course at UVic.) The other deities have roles of varying importance, although some only get a mention. Demeter appears in a rather poor light, and Hestia doesn't appear at all. It's an important omission (considering their domestic difficulties) but the worst crime is the way the author depicts Athena: as a hovering, anxious, self-important fusspot.

Aside from a few flaws, it was an enjoyable read. Hilarious in parts, thought-provoking in others. Like many novels, I felt it was off to a good start and had the scope to be about twice the length it actually is: the author is onto something. Unfortunately, the conflict resolves rather quickly, and the novel wraps up before you're quite ready to be done with it.

And as a reader, if you have to have a problem with a book, that's a good one to have.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sadly, Almost Completely True.

The other day Mr. HalfSoledBoots wanted to exchange the sweater I bought him for Christmas* and asked me to find the receipt while he was at work. I was feeling a little emotional that day. ("What? Surely not.")

I thought I knew where it was, so I breezed into the bedroom, swept the 18" of junk off the top of my cedar chest, and propped it open. I rummaged around inside, surprised to not see the plastic bag I had expected, containing the receipts from all the Christmas presents I bought. I frowned and dug deeper, piling beside me such things as:
  • the ten thank-you cards I wrote after Emily's baby shower in 2004. They are in sealed envelopes, with the recipients' names written clearly on the front so I could later add the addresses and mail them.
  • a plastic grocery bag full of paper hats, streamers, and napkins from three differently-themed children's birthday parties.
  • a picture frame with the glass broken in two places. Still perfectly good, waiting for me to get around to buying replacement glass for the frame WHICH I BOUGHT FOR 75% OFF AT PIER ONE IN 1999.
  • 10 years' worth of negatives in slippery plastic sleeves, which slithered all over the floor.
No sign of the receipt. And what did I do, at this juncture? This is what I did. I threw myself on my bed and burst into stormy tears, sobbing bitter invective against myself as follows: "Oh, why am I such a fucking loser? Oh, why do I suck so bad? Oh, I'm a terrible wife, can't even think what to buy my husband for Christmas and when I do it's the wrong thing, then I throw away the receipt so he can't even return it. Woe is me, the world is at an end."

Actually, it's all true except that last line.

So, my children heard me crying (though I was trying to be quiet about it) and came in with concerned looks on their sweet faces, to see what was wrong. They crawled up beside me and put their smooth little arms around my neck and kissed me. Their voices were very anxious when they asked me what was wrong. I cried, "Daddy wants to take back the sweater I bought him for Christmas and I can't find the receipt. Oh I'm sorry I'm such a terrible mother, I can't do anything right."

Luckily they have experience with this type of situation and they were very kind. At first they were inclined to be indignant that Daddy didn't like the sweater, then they asked me what the receipt looked like, so they could search for it.

At that point, Em leaned over to her sister and whispered something in her ear. She sat back on her heels and said "Should we bring it? That would cheer her up." Charlotte nodded and Emily ran out of the room. Charlotte patted my hair and kissed my cheek, murmuring "you're a good mummy", just as Emily came back at a run from the living room........

.....carrying yarn.


* Yes, I bought a sweater. Believe me, it's better this way.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Almost Forgot a Title.

Today is one of those coastal days that overwhelm newcomers and visitors by their sheer pervasive soakedness. But hey - it grows the trees that everyone admires so much. (Click to embiggen.)

Well, my respite from knitting lasted all of about 2 hours. Here is the Log Cabin Blanket, in progress:

And here are the first 18 rounds of the new lace project:

which will in time become this:

Gift certificate in hand, I went to Village Yarns' (no website) January sale the other day. I had a bit of trouble spending the money, actually - the vastness of my stash has been a weight on my chest lately, interfering with my enjoyment of it. One thing I hardly have any of, though, is laceweight. So I picked up three skeins of Zephyr Wool-Silk in Ruby, for the Cap Shawl, and also bought 15 skeins of Berroco Glace at 70% off. Yes, Please!
The Glace (the orange rayon in the picture below) will become a Clapotis - at last - for a friend. Then there is the celadon -....lime?.....celery?....whatever, it's green - Handmaiden Sea Silk, which is gorgeous, and which I bought for my mother at 40% off. She's trying to decide what to knit with it, and left me one of the two skeins to wind into a ball for her. Lastly, at bottom left, are the two balls of Naturally "Me" which is a 50% cashmere, 50% merino blend. I bought this at half price to make myself Odessa.

I've been spending some time on Ravelry lately. It hasn't cut into the knitting time, much, but I find the queue concept very motivating. It's not that I didn't have a list of things to knit BEFORE Ravelry, it's just that having them all in a line, with thumbnails clearly visible and yarn details noted beside the photo, keeps me enthused about casting on. I've already started three of the things in my queue, and have plans for at least two more.

What I'm hoping, then, is to revive my Stash Reduction Plan of last year. I haven't fallen off the wagon, per se, but I have not done as much actual knitting as I thought I would have. I haven't bought much yarn, either, but there is still Much to be Done.

Thank you for your encouraging comments on my very cheerful and zingy New Year's Day post. I think you all were right: it's bound to be better. Besides, in the end, really, there's nothing to do but go on - one has no choice but to hope for the best. I appreciate your words.

I also appreciate these.

They arrived in my mailbox today, and should go a long way toward cheering me up....which, if you are at all familiar with the plots, will probably strike you as ironic. Thank you so much, Joe and Dave, for your generosity.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Batten Down the Hatches.

Everyone has been posting years-in-review, and resolutions, and UNresolutions. For me the New Year is usually a great time - a deep breath of cold air, arms thrown out to the winter wind, smiling face upturned to the sunlight. Not so, this time. This time, the post-Christmas letdown has been dogging me since....well, since before Christmas even began.

I've learned some things this year. I was originally just going to post that - the "Things I've Learned" list, joining the rest of the known blogoverse in their Old Year retrospection and New Year prospection. I thought about that a fair bit as I spent today on my couch, fingers flying on the Log Cabin blanket. To the casual observer I'm sure I looked content, happy, and maybe even peaceful. But my inner child spent the entire day huddled into a corner, hugging herself nervously.

It took me until this evening to realize what I was feeling: what I have been feeling for days upon days, watching 2008 approach.


The passage of time, the approach of another year. It doesn't bring new opportunities, better conditions, more elevated thoughts, increase, improvement. For me this year, the winter wind simply carries with it the threat of illness, the possibility of loss, and the certainty of fear. In the past the small victories and occasional moments of happiness were enough to make up for all of that. I don't know whether that's true anymore.

When I was toying with the idea of a lighthearted New Year post, I had two lists. One was "Things I've Learned". Things like "when buying a Christmas tree stand, GET THE EXPENSIVE ONE" and "you're never too young for a rectal exam". The other list was "What Happens Next". This was the optimism part, with things like "use my stash" and "run 100 miles by April 1". I sat there thinking about it, then with my mental Sharpie I drew a big black line through the whole damn thing.

It turns out the only thing I want for the coming year is that my family is healthy and unharmed, and my friend is cancer free.

I don't want to have whatever 2008 will throw at me. I have a feeling it won't be hugs and puppies.

As far as Life goes, the meaning thereof and the secret to success and whatnot, I guess it's just a matter of grimly hanging on: achieving longevity and - maybe - happiness by sheer bloodymindedness. That I've got - in spades. I hope it's enough.