Friday, January 30, 2009

VIP Service.

I got my brochures from Cunard, two days after I ordered them - lovely "ExpressPost". I'm sure if I hadn't made up all those expensive cruises I'd taken, they'd have sent them by donkey.

GrannyPurple, your comment made my entire week. And, Bon Voyage!

* * *
I got a lovely Bodum for Christmas, having wanted one for a long time. Any ideas what this might be?

You, there in the back - good answer. Observe, the transformation:

The steek stitches.

The steek, fulfilling its natural purpose.

The serger, fulfilling its natural purpose.

I like Bodum cozies, and there's no arguing their necessity. This one ended up a bit too narrow, even after an aggressive blocking, so I ended up ribbing more than I thought. Don't care - it looks cute. I opted for many buttons because I think it looks neat that way.

Bodum Cozy
Pattern: None. Corrugated rib using scraps
Yarn: Patons Classic Merino in a few colours
Needle: 2 circular method, 5mm bamboo
Time: about six hours all together
Size: About Bodum-sized. Could have used a few more stitches (I cast on 40 - should have used about 52)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"We're all just children when our mothers die."
-Father Milia, Lilies

My friend Sandy, who (you may remember) was diagnosed with cancer in August 2007, lost her mother yesterday. It was sudden, shocking - late complications from a surgery that seemed to go perfectly well at the time.

I was up late knitting and thinking, but as philosophical as my thoughts were I can share none of them with you. I don't have the heart to.

Remember Sandy and her family today if you can, and for God's sake go hug your mum.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ocean LIEner.

So I went to the Cunard website today, because I have this fantasy where I fly to Wales, spend a few weeks walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, go by rail to Southampton and then cross the Atlantic by ship. When I came back I would be different - changed somehow. Quiet. Introspective. Wise. Laconic. There could be an ineffable air of quality.

Anyway, I was looking at the pretty pictures of ocean liners, dreaming of brass door handles and parquet dance floors, windy balconies and sparkling portholes, and I noticed a link inviting me to order free brochures to be sent in the mail. You could choose any three of their glossy publications, including an informative DVD. I ordered that one, naturally, along with "Transatlantic Crossings" and the "2009 Voyages" brochure.

They asked me to fill out some information. Address and phone stuff, mostly, but then they politely inquired whether I had cruised before, and would I please check all the cruise lines on which I had travelled?

This is the weird part - I blithely told them that Yes, I had cruised before, and I had been on Princess, Norwegian, and Holland America. I was planning a cruise in the North Sea and was interested in Scandinavia. And - Oh, what the heck, send me more info on the Mediterranean as well. Why not!

What compelled me to spin a web of lies for the benefit of an anonymous and uncaring Cunard clerk? Would it really matter to them if they knew that every cruise I've taken, thus far, has been with the classy, inimitable BC Ferries? (I recommend the Pacific Buffet, by the way - you can make your own toaster waffles - many as you like.)

I read over my newly-minted Cunard profile, wherein I am (apparently) a woman with nothing but money and time to lay on deck chairs all over hell's half-acre, and wondered what on earth possessed me. It occurred to me, on reading the places I have (not) been, that I had invented a curious blend of where my parents have been, and where I want to go. It's very odd. Plus I think I put "Norwegian" on there because I would like to go to Norway. How nonsensical is that.

See me? I'm waving out of one of those portholes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

All is not Lost.

Thank you Ames - this is the best thing I've seen in a while.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Boom, like that.

I've mentioned it before, but you might have forgotten - Mr Half Soled Boots suffers from chronic renal insufficiency, and in 2006 had a kidney transplant. My sister donated to him. My father-in-law has the same disease (Polycystic Kidney Disease) and had a transplant 20 or so years ago. Shortly after Mr HSB's transplant, his dad's graft failed. He has been on automated peritoneal dialysis since then, and six months ago was deemed healthy enough to be put on the transplant list in Ontario.

Today was my FIL's birthday. Just after we phoned to wish him many happy returns, he called us back: the hospital in London had paged him - they have a kidney for him. He goes in at 5.30 tomorrow morning (January 20) and, if the final tests all go well, he'll have a new kidney by tomorrow night.

If you have a minute to pray for him, wish him well, or cross whatever you usually cross, that would be great. I'd appreciate it.

I'll let you know what happens...and also Pssst.....consider becoming an organ donor.

ETA: David waited 15 hours for an OR to open up, and went into surgery at 9.00 PM. The kidney was a 'perfect match'...all went well, and he is in recovery...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Possibly a little premature.

Top Five Proofs That I Might Be A Well-Preserved Septuagenarian

1 - I am particular, to the point of querulousness, about how my tea is made.
2 - I love marmalade.
3 - My house sometimes has this strange smell that people are too polite to mention.
4 - I often can't hear what's being said to me, prompting my family to raise their voices when - and only when - they are speaking to me.
5 - Um......I was going to say something else....but I can't recall what it was.

So hand me my glasses and that TV Guide, and be quiet, will you? My program's coming on.

Tea: Use hot water to preheat brown betty. (Brown Betty. Period.) Fill large hinged stainless tea ball with loose leaf Twinings English Breakfast. Boil water. Hold down the auto-off button on the kettle so it boils for about 30 seconds. Empty teapot. Fill with boiling water and simultaneously add - or immediately afterwards submerge - teaball. Cover with lid and quilted tea cosy. Let stand five to seven minutes.

And here's the important part:

Pour into a china cup and saucer. Do not use a mug. Do not add lemon, sugar, cream, milk or honey. Do not add anything except an almond cookie, butter shortbread, or gingersnap, which you should place on the saucer. If there is cake, use an additional plate. Eat. Drink. Wipe away tears of joy as needed.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Behind the Scenes

I used to write a knitting blog. I miss those days sometimes.

Niece's Socks
Pattern: none. Basic Stockinette with a 1X1 rib at cuff, a slip-stitch heel, and a wedge toe.
Yarn: Fortissima Socka mit Bambou, 60% wool, 25% bamboo, 15% nylon
Yarn Source: Needle & Arts Centre
Yarn Cost: $20
Needles: 2mm and 2.25mm Addi Turbo
Tension: 40 sts over 4 cm
Cast on: December 30, 2008
Bound off: January 10, 2009
Size: Youth size 2-4
I tried to use the Addi Turbo double-points for this project, but got a lot of laddering. It might be because the double-points are pretty heavy and I'm used to the lightness of a circular. I went back to magic looping with a slightly smaller needle (Addi doesn't make a Turbo in 2.25mm in the 120 cm length).

Gwen's Chalet Socks
Pattern: Chalet Socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks
Yarn: Phildar Preface, 70% wool, 30% polyamide
Needle: 2.5mm Addi Turbo 120cm long circular, for magic loop
Tension: about 36 sts over 10 cm
Cast on: December 27, 2008
Bound off: January 8, 2009
Modifications: Left out one cuff repeat, making these a little shorter in the leg. I was worried about running out of yarn - needn't have been, since I have more than enough left over.

I'd make these again - they went surprisingly quickly and were fun to knit. The pattern was a little tricky to memorise at first, but after about 2" of the travelling twisted stitches, I had caught on and didn't need the chart too much anymore.

I've cast on another project, from the book I got for Christmas from my sister. These are Veronik Avery's "Woollen Gloves" from Knitting Classic Style. They're meant to go under a pair of fingerless Latvian mittens, but I'm undecided as to whether I'll make the mittens or not. They are pretty cute together....

The yarn I'm using is Crystal Palace's Panda Silk, a blend of merino, bamboo and silk. It's gorgeous yarn. Soft, smooth, with a little lustre...I'm knitting it on 2.5mm needles and getting a little finer tension than the pattern specifies, so the glove is nice and snug. It's a nice quick knit, with an easily-memorised pattern - a simple lace scallop. In fact, it's almost the exact same pattern as the Lacy Scallops socks.

Soon I'll be casting on for the next of Ruby's sweaters - Mason-Dixon's "Fern" cardigan, knit in Sisu sock yarn. My goal is to finish it by Easter - knit on tiny needles and with sock yarn, it will probably take me some time, so I'd like to get going. At the moment though, I'm happy to be knitting something for myself for a change...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What a relief.

It's nice to know my money worries are over...and this just arrived in time since Piper is, even as we speak, having his testicles removed. And you know how expensive vets can be.

I'm not sure what I love most about this sweepstakes that I just won. I'm trying to decide between the part that says "The face of this document has a colored background on white paper", the part that says "The back of this document contains an artificial watermark" or the bits where they put the word cheque in quotation marks. Though it IS nice to see a business finally using quotation marks more or less appropriately.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Just crushed.

I am suffering from debilitating disappointment. Two things slipped from my grasp today:

Oh. Frack. I love you so, so much, my patent blue destiny.

Fluevogs. Fluevogs on sale. I first saw them on about December 27, and fell in love. They were available in blue, wine and black. Obviously the blue is meant for me. But cooler heads prevailed, and I decided I couldn't really afford them - half price or no half price. But I kept coming back....they drew me, every day, just to look at them. I realised today that resistance was futile, and clicked "Buy Now". I had some trouble deciding on a size, and in the time it took me to stand on a ruler, find my credit card, and type in my brother's zip code (this style is only available to US addresses), the blue and the wine both sold out.

While still reeling from that blow, I got an email from a woman with whom I've been negotiating the purchase of my first spinning wheel. Things were going swimmingly until this evening, when she wrote to call the whole thing off.


I'm awfully depressed about these two events.

At the same time, I can't help but feel a little chagrined about how cast down I am because I didn't get to spend three hundred dollars on shoes and a spinning wheel. And this in a world where thousands starve to death every day. My friend Tabatha, who often has a voice of disconcerting and uncomfortable truth, would say "These are the problems of prosperity".

Now I'm sighing a heavy sigh, and thinking:

I should sign up to sponsor a World Vision child....or I could buy a sheep for a village somewhere, with that money....maybe just donate it....Hang on: would the black be just as nice as the blue?

Oh my GOSH what is the matter with me.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

FO, FO, FO, Merry Christmas.

Pattern: Knitty, winter 2004
Yarn: Phildar Preface in light denim and denim marl
Yarn Source: Touch of Wool, Vancouver
Needle: 2.75mm Lantern Moon ebony DPNs and 3.25mm bamboo circular
Tension: Dunno.
Cast On: November 20, 2008
Bound Off: December 5, 2008
Size: This one is pretty big. It fits my 24" head perfectly but I think it's a bit too large for my brother-in-law, who got it for Christmas. I guess I'll be knitting him a watchcap to go underneath.
Notes: This one takes a lot of blocking. You've really got to use wool for best results, and do a heavy block. I used a steam iron on this because I didn't want it to grow, but next time I'll knit it smaller and stretch it like crazy in the blocking.
Note the shades - it's my clever solution to the time-consuming photo-shoot makeup problem.

I like it. I wouldn't mind making myself one of these eventually - it's a cool-looking hat. It was a fairly quick knit considering it's made of sock-weight yarn and small needles, and it was fun to make. The applied i-cord was a bit of a palaver though - not sure I wouldn't change that for next time, but it does make a nice finish.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

All but the crying.

Well, it's the least wonderful time of the year.

Everyone has gone home. The snow has turned to rain. A few cookies lie dessicating in their tins. The tree is still up - I was meant to take it down today but I didn't have the heart to. Maybe tomorrow.

We had a great time during Christmas. My family is big on Christmas - as kids we were completely mental about it, stretching the celebration out from the end of November to about January 10. And my brother and sister and I have not been together for Christmas since 1997, so we had some catching up to do.

In this picture, I am in my pajamas. I don't remember whether it was late at night, or early in the morning (or, let's face it, midafternoon), but let me just say that the presence of a bottle of rum doesn't really offer any clue as to the time of day.

You know how when you get to a party the host usually says "Red or white?" We prefer to be 'and' kind of people.

Here are our children, who are apparently learning by our example. The substance of choice in this case, though, is sugar rather than alcohol.

New Year's was at my place, and turned out to be quite cheese-centric. My friend owns a deli and she hooked me up for my party. Three kinds of chevre, a triple-creme brie, a baby blue, some smoked cheddar, manchego (sheep's cheese), and their attendant crisps and condiments...delicious. We drank five bottles of champagne that night. We also got dressed sister has this great mulberry taffeta party dress which I forgot to take a picture of.

There were a lot of cameras at our Christmas, which is good. Between us we probably have several hundred photos of the good time we had, and 20 or 30 minutes of video that, when we watched it the night before everyone left, wrung our hearts.

Now I've begun the gloomy process of packing decorations away, with a heavy heart. This whole holiday reminded me how sad it is that money stops us from being together. People go where the work is. I suspect that being far away from each other is one of those things that prove to be a source of lasting regret. It always seems like an inconvenient time to pull up your roots just to move back to your family, the end, I think it might be worth it.

Thanks for dropping by, everyone - I took a long break there but I think I'll be back more or less regularly, now. Thanks, too, to knititch and Jo for the Christmas cards, and to The Other Shannon for the beautiful card and picture of your family.