Saturday, May 30, 2009


Pattern: Fern, by Ann Shayne. From Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines
Size: I knitted the size small, but blocked it to the dimensions of the size large. I did this on purpose as alpaca relaxes a lot in water, and I wanted the finished fabric to be quite drapey.
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, 50% wool, 20% alpaca, 30% nylon. Colours 1277, 1279, 1275, 1284, 1294, from Village Yarns, Cumberland, BC. Fiddlehead embroidery was done in Kauni Effektgarn 8/2, 100% wool, colour EK from Fun Knits yarn shop, Quadra Island BC.
Needle: 2.75mm and 3mm Addi Turbo circular, and Susan Bates steel circular
Tension: 32 sts and 32 rows over 10 cm (I blocked it hard to add length)
Cast on: February 10, 2009
Finished: May 27, 2009
Modifications: Used four buttons instead of the eight shown. Substituted yarn, including using a brown and a purple instead of two unavailable greens.
Notes: The fiddleheads were extremely -- well, fiddly. The designer's instructions for this part of the process were limited: "Chain-stitch fiddleheads at the hem of the coat as shown in the picture." A template would have been nice, but I managed to free-hand them well enough. It was trial and error - I ripped out about seven of them all told, and redid them - they looked wonky the first time around.

Click photos for a much better view.

There are meant to be buttons all down the length of the coat. The sample in the book has eight, and it looks wonderful (although in the book photos, all the buttons below the chest are undone to allow the lower 2/3 of the sweater to open up). I did try using eight buttons, but found in the end that simply using four at the top looked much sweeter.

The buttons are not identical. There are two of one style, and two of another. This ups the cuteness factor considerably.

Here is a view of the sleeve, set in with the stripes matching up. Don't think this didn't take careful sewing and clever easing - it really, really did. Thank T-Fal for upright-steaming irons.

You can't get an idea of the beautiful drape of this fabric from pictures, but here you can see it a little bit. It's light, smooth, and almost silky-feeling.

The coat is very long on my model - she is a year younger than Ruby.

Her mum was there for this photoshoot, and for a minute it was looking like I wasn't getting this sweater back. I said "You can't afford it".

Actually I said "I can teach you how to knit if you like."

Again with the matchy stripes on the sleeve seams.

Thanks to the darling little girl for modelling, and to her wonderful mum for giving me the sweater back.

And thanks to my Uncles Joe and Dave for commissioning this garment - it was a beautiful thing to create - maybe my favourite knitted item ever. It really kicked my butt at times, and in the watches of the night I often wondered if I'd ever finish, or if I'd end up hanging myself with my circular needle out of frustration...but I made it to the end and I'm glad I did.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

If you say it, they will come.

Miles Copeland, as I live and breathe. I feel quite kerflummoxed, getting a comment from someone who has his own Wiki page.

To your comment: Fair points, certainly. Thin can be beautiful too, and in your chosen arena probably sells better. I concede that.

I tell ballerinas to eat more on a regular basis. Sometimes they hit me, but mostly they just cry. However, what I really want to know is....

what do you think about the sultan overlord thing, and will I get royalties?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

By Jupiter!

Went to see the Be11ydance Sup'rstars the other day with eleven members of my troupe. Jeepers, what a spectacle. As a dancer I could appreciate the amazing skill level, but a few things really dampened my enthusiasm.

First, it was too Vegasy. It was so overproduced. Even the facial expressions felt choreographed...there was no spontaneity and little joy. The tribal fusion dancers were an exception - very intense and connected with the audience. However, even that started to wear a little thin.

Which brings me to my second point - WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE HAND THOSE GIRLS A SANDWICH. With fries. I mean, come on! BELLY dancing, people! Let's see some bellies! If I wanted to admire skin stretched over muscle fibres I'd have gone to the bloody World Bodybuilding Championships or whatever.

And, my third point - I think they should come out with a Bellydance Superstars Over-35 Division. These girls were mostly in their early twenties - hard to tell for sure through all the makeup though - and I feel that bellydance is an art form best interpreted through the lens of life experience. Everybody on that stage was so damn smooth, it was depressing.

Now - I'm glad I went, certainly. It was an amazing show and I was zaghareeting my head off along with the many other dancers in the audience. It's just that over the entire 90 minutes or whatever it was, everything acquired a plastic sameness. The dancers all looked alike - excepting any distinguishing tatts - and honestly it resembled nothing so much as a Mattel aisle at midnight when all the Barbies magically come alive to dance for their lightning-bolt-wielding warlock sultan overlord. (Which, right there - great idea for a themed choreograph. Possibly though it would end up being more adult-film-industry and less ethnic-art-form.)

It's a great show, purely from a "dazzle me" standpoint. There's a lot of impressive fitness and beautiful moves, not to mention really stunning costumes. But if you are an earthy type, like I am, who appreciates the more subtle beauty of Reality, you might find it a tad shiny for your taste.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Coming to.

I was on last night and I blacked out and when I regained consciousness I found this email in my inbox.

This is a automated email confirmation of your order. Thank You!
Please read the information below and if there are any corrections
please let customer service know as soon as possible.

Anxiously and with a shaking hand I checked the link and saw these:

and I suppose I could stand to own them, so I'll just leave it for now. At least if Mr HSB wonders where the $90 Mastercard charge came from, I totally have an alibi: I can show him this weird bump on my head from where I hit the keyboard with my cranium after losing consciousness, evidently clicking "Place Order" at the same time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I just sent my first ever text message. It said, "Where are you guys". It's really bothering me that I couldn't figure out how to add a question mark. Punctuation must be possible, right? Just because other people don't use it in their text messages, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Shall keep you updated.


I did figure out the punctuation (Options - Symbol, yay!) and my phone has a shift key - a terse little up-arrow on the bottom left. All is right with the world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I finished spinning the Romney - now that I've really got the hang of the longdraw, I can't believe how fast it was. One evening to do the second bobbin, a day to let it rest, and less than an hour to ply.

I ended up with 136 grams of a 12 wraps-per-inch 2-ply, with an estimated 230 meters. This puts into the worsted-weight category, which was a little heavier than I was going for - I was aiming at DK. Still and all, it'll make a nice something-or-other.

I've started spinning the Shetland, now that I'm comfortable with the woollen longdraw, and the other night I filled a bobbin in an awfully short time. I will be spinning and plying this fleece one ball at a time, apparently - using two bobbins of singles onto two bobbins of 2-ply. I had wanted to do a whole bunch of singles before plying, but I've not got the bobbin space for that. I've only got four bobbins for my wheel (I have three Ashford bobbins but they are shorter in the shaft-length so I have to futz about jimmying washers to keep the tension line from hitting the flyer arms as I spin).

No pictures of Shetland singles yet - next time.

Friday I am doing a performance (real, honest-to-goodness, darkened-theatre gala performance) for which a lot of rehearsal with duet partners is necessary, so I might not post again this week.

Might, though.

Today, tomorrow, and Thursday are good days for planting and transplanting. I went to a local charity plant sale last weekend and have been anxiously waiting to put in all the perennials I bought. I also acquired a hazelnut tree for a song (less than $5) because, I think, it has been chomped by a deer while a seedling. The central trunk is cut off about 2" from the ground and the tree has already started branching below this pollard - it'll be interesting to see how it grows in the next few years.

I think I'll do hanging baskets this year - tips? I've worked out that you need to stuff those suckers fuller than full, and feed them like Hansel and Gretel, but any other less well-known wisdom would be very welcome.

I think they'll be full sun.

Well the great, blustery outdoors awaits. Off I go to get dirty.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Redirect

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoled Boots
Volume 9 Number 1

by David Downing

Mr Dave Hingsburger writes the award-winning activist blog Chewing the Fat. He is an internationally-accredited speaker, author, and advocate for the disabled.

Today is his second online book-club, a blog-based discussion on David Downing's novel Zoo Station, an espionage story set in Nazi Germany before the outbreak of World War II. I had planned to post a review of this book here at Half Soled Boots for Erudite Monday, but Dave contacted me last week and asked whether I would consider publishing my review as a guest post on CTF, instead.

So today's review, if you care to read it, can be found at Chewing the Fat. It's a little weightier than what I'd normally publish: wade through it if you dare. I'd be interested to hear your comments, and you can leave them either here or there.
Nazi propaganda poster ca 1938. "60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the People's community during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money too. Read 'A New People', the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Funnier and funnier

Everyone knows Franklin's got a way with words, but now I think he's outdone himself.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

No pressure though.

I got this one from a blogger I just stumbled upon while looking for information on seaweed dyes. She did a giveaway that's a little unusual, and I liked the idea. Thanks, Wicked.

Read the rules carefully though, as there are a couple of catches.
The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me.

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. You get what you get.
2. What I create will be just for you...if you have a blog I can mine for ideas, it might be based on what I think you'll like - or it might be random.
3. It'll be done this year (2009).
4. I will not give you any clue what it's going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. It may be baked goods.
5. I reserve the right to do something strange, if inspired to do so.
6. In return, all you need to do is post this text into a note of your own - or a blog post - and make something for the first 5 people to respond to your note.
7. Send me your mailing address if you don't live close to me!

IMPORTANT: You DO have to pay it forward.

So that's what I copied from Wicked...with my own changes. I would like to add that the value is not high - I won't be knitting five lace shawls. Plus we've all got postage to consider.

I took out the line that said that you have to make something for me too, as well as your five people - I'm not going to require that, but if you feel like it, by all means have at it.

If you want to participate, great. Leave a comment with a link where I can find your post. Email with your address and I'll start working on your creation later this month. Fun!