Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Great and Powerful Oz

My friend emailed me today with a cautious inquiry as to my health...apparently I've been a little too silent.

Definitely the blog has suffered, the last few months, from a lack of action on my part. Especially the crafty stuff - it's not that I haven't been doing it, I just haven't been telling you about it.

My feet have been cold lately, so I finished a pair of "Grown-up Booties" from Ysolda's book "Whimsical Little Knits". Well, I've finished one, and the second one is half done. I am going to be about 5 grams short of yarn, so I'll pick up some more from the Farmer's Market on Sunday.

The yarn is from a flock of Border Cheviot, locally grown for wool and meat. They are raised about 25 minutes from here, and processed in a cool little mill in Alberta. The colour is natural - no bleaching or dyeing. It's a heavy aran weight.

I've finished the first skein of Shetland yarn from Aiden's flock. My long-term goal for this wool is to create a fair-isle palette of natural colours, blending the wool on the carders to make the various shades. I started with the natural grey, which started out as a three-colour fleece - the tips are warm, light brown, the middle of the lock is cool grey, and there is white next to the skin. Sadly, of course, the colour gradations are lost in the carding, but in the skein all three colours are present, giving the finished yarn depth and complexity that a single colour wouldn't have.

This is my first long-draw skein. Things get a little uneven in places but I love the overall effect - not to mention the incredibly fast process. The skein is a heavy-fingering/sport-weight 2-ply - I haven't done the wraps per inch nor the yardage yet.

I had a half-bobbin of singles left over -with this much raw fleece, I am not worried about making the singles ply out evenly. I just fill two bobbins more or less, and ply away. The process is interesting. I've developed a contemplative, long-range view for this project, due to the sheer size of it. You can't expect to have all the fleece washed in one day, and you can only spin as much as you've carded, and you can only ply as much as you've got bobbin-space for...I like it. It's impossible to hurry. I've done as much plying as I have singles, and I've spun all the rolags I've carded, so now it's time to card again.

This week is for carding, then, and next week I'll be able to spin some more singles. Once I've got another 100 grams or so of the natural grey, I'll start carding some white and grey together for blended rolags to spin an intermediate shade.

I took some garden pictures to show you, but a baffling 'internal error' has stymied me. Blogger is vague as to whether the error is internal to them, or internal to me. Perhaps next time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Putting Paid

Oh Buffy, thank you. THANK YOU.


I tried to embed this, but the blogger format cut off the entire right side of the scene. Watch it though - it's so worth it, even if you haven't seen either show.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


If I showed you a picture of the bottoms of my feet, you'd know what we needed the Swiffer for. Public hall floors are disgusting.

People had cameras, so you might get to see a photo if any of them turn out (doubtful - it's hard to take good photos of dancers) but I took one self portrait for the blog header anyway, to give you a teeny glimpse.

It was a great night - lots of dancers in the audience, which is always energizing. Thanks, everybody who showed up - Rona, Brenda, Alison, Kate and her mum, my friends Sandy Leanne Teralee Renee AND my lovely mother - it was great to have you there, girlies.

We're finished for the year now - this was our last show - but as usual, post-performance, I'm buzzing and can't go to sleep. So I'm going to watch some Buffy and drink another Stella Artois...party time!

Friday, June 19, 2009


My list for today:

false eyelashes + adhesive
fake piercings
safety pins
large red faux flower + hairpin

clothing adhesive/double-faced tape
stick-on rhinestones
beaded fringe
Witch Hazel
ankle bells
outfit X 4
Rescue Remedy

Three guesses what I'm doing tonight.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I'm a bit conflicted about Twitter. It seems like unalloyed narcissism. But then, I've been giving it a try for the last week or two and I've noticed that it comes in handy for odd one-liners that I might have turned into blog posts but which really don't deserve that much air time.

So in that way it's potentially useful, provided one doesn't become unhealthily obsessed with apprising the internet of their every eye-twitch.

There's a per-tweet entry limit of about 140 characters (160?) and I often wonder how this will affect the next generation of upper-academia: how much do you want to bet some first-year university student will some day print off a week's worth of tweets and submit it as her writing assignment? God help us all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And it goes around, and around, and around...

I've just been over catching up on the Yarn Harlot, and read one of her posts defending herself and her co-organiser in the aftermath of Sock Summit registration day.

First of all, I think the post was totally unnecessary. All the wounded feelings and dignified explanations are more appropriate on a low-profile forum - the YH is anything but. Once you are on the NY Times bestseller list for your knitting books, and you are organising an internationally-heralded four-day conference with thousands of registrants and hundreds of thousands asking for email updates, you are in the kind of league where you WILL get some negative feedback and: baby, by now you should be able to deal. There's no need to fish your readership for soothing affirmation.

The post isn't what really got up my nose, though. I browsed the comments for a bit and a few things struck me. You know what really pisses me off about the blogiverse? When people say things like this:

...we have managed to raise a society of selfish, self-centered, rude and agressive people who think the sun rises and sets on them.

...might be that time of the month too (I'm just saying)

I would have told all the nasty pasties to shove their needles where the sun don't shine.

It's impossible not to let mean, vicious comments hurt, but try to think about what wretched lives those writers must lead. How else to explain their vitriol?

I hope they feel deep shame and embarrassment for their deplorable behavior. Stephanie, take heart. You have many supporters and friends..many more than those hateful people will ever have.

And to all those slinging abuse in the comments section, an extreme 'Pot and kettle, much?' The irony is simply reeking.

Then there are the ones who love to show how mature and gracious they are by writing things like this:

Send me the names of the meanies and I'll totally go tangle their stashes (after I've sifted out some goodies as due recompense on your behalf!).

Some people are selfish and bitter when they don't get what they want. Those are the mentally ill ones. I feel badly for their poor families.
["Mentally ill"? Seriously?]

For all those rotten people who sent you hate mail:
May their mohair and laceweight yarns be forever tangled beyond recovery.
May their entire stash of wools be eaten by pesticide-resistant moths.
May the rest of their yarn be inundated by a sewer overflow.
May all of their dpns break, two at a time, forever.

Steph, Tina: May the rude emailers never get their heels to look right. May they miscount stitches, and may they miscount cables and lose their Lantern Moons. May their cats pee in their quiviut stashes; a pox of moths upon their fiber rooms.

Which is an interesting sentiment, especially with all the warnings floating around:

For those of you who are spreading hate - Karma. KARMA.

I hope karma swings around sooner rather than later and whacks the freakouts upside the head(s) with a large sack of perspective.

And here I'd like to remark that karma, as a concept, is maybe the most tiresome, imagination-sucking, passive-aggressive thing that has ever happened to us a society.

Plus there's this hilarious thing where people are forever sighing about "karma", but only as payback that's bound to happen to someone they don't like, and never as something that is HAPPENING TO THEM BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THEY DID. If "karma" rules apply, then Steph and Tina must have done something terrible in a former life.

To use another tiresome, passive-aggressive, hackneyed comment-speak, "Just sayin'."

I could go on and on - trust me - but as far as expressing my sentiments, I believe this person, the 765th-ish commenter and the victim of a simple typo, said it best:

You likely won't get to read this vomment, and that's ok.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Children's Book

Erudite Mondays at HalfSoledBoots
Volume 9, Number 2

by A.S. Byatt

I'm really confused. I don't know what to say about this book although 24 hours ago I had this whole review mentally written and it was such a volcanic scold it was going to spontaneously combust my screen as I typed it.

A.S. Byatt is probably best-known for her novel Possession, which was adapted into a film starring Jennifer Ehle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart and Jeremy Northam. I picked up The Children's Book because I had liked this adaptation of Possession (which is kind of a silly reason, books and their adaptations being, in the usual run of things, two distinct and dissimilar entities). Also, I thought the precis sounded nice - gentle and pastoral, nonthreatening. Philosophical.

The Children's Book is a story about a group of children from about six families. The families are mostly British and are all more or less related to and acquainted with each other. The parents are mostly bohemian socialists: some of them are members of the Fabian Society, some are early suffragettes, most are artists.

The story spans the years between 1895 and 1919 - a turbulent time in Britain and Europe. As time passes, the children grow into young adults, with complicated life stories and problems both grave and trivial. It's a little tricky at first to keep straight which children were born to which parents - at one point I decided to draw their family trees on a separate sheet, but I never did simply because I couldn't find a pencil.

Children flickered and flitted along the flowerbeds and in and out of the shrubbery as the light thickened.

The writing is lovely. There are beautiful, moving passages in this book. There are whole sections with the most softly-turned language, with delicate phrasing and limpid images. These occur especially in the first third of the novel, when the children are young and times are, by the standards of the characters, simpler.

Philip's lantern, with its painted flames and smoke, and elegant, sinister forms, had been given a place of honour in a herbaceous border, standing on an uneven terra-cotta pillar. As its candle burned down, it had wavered and flared. Then it had fallen into the surrounding vegetation, which was a mixture of ferns, brackens, fennels and poppes, both the great silky Shirley poppies and self-sown wild ones.

In this respect, the author has done a marvelous job - the tone of the descriptive passages changes throughout, acquiring by the end a kind of starkness that made me flinch. Byatt brings the reader along at the same pace as the characters, taking us from simplicity and innocence to brokenness and bitter experience in a little over 600 pages.

The novel follows not just the families, whose relationships get quite tangled at times, but also the social and political forces at work in Europe as a whole. And this, really, is my one problem with the book. It's ambitious, and sometimes it feels like the author has overreached. Between the many, many names of contemporary philosophers, artists, politicians, monarchs, societies and places, I started to feel like I was attending a historical sociology lecture, with family photos in between the bulleted powerpoint slides.

In June 1909 King Edward VII opened Sir Aston Webb's new buildings for the Victoria and Albert Museum. He opened them with a golden key, with a stem of steel damascened with gold. The long white buildings, which had emerged slowly from their wrappings of tarpaulin, and thickets of scaffolding, were judged to be rhythmic and lovely, were compared to symphonies and chorales. The opening was attended by a glistening crowd of courtiers and dignitaries. The Webbs were there, and Alma-Tadema, with Balfour, Churchill and the prime Minister, Herbert Asquith.

Reading The Children's Book, I found it difficult to follow the tone change between the bare facts of the sociopolitical infrastructure, as it were, and the smaller events of the families I had come to care about. It was hard to suspend my disbelief when real events and real people, dates noted, kept intruding on the flow of the primary narrative.

My final note on The Children's Book, though, is this: I absolutely get the feeling that there is more to this story than meets the reader on her first journey through it. I missed something....I feel as though I should start from page one again. It's not "Oh crap I missed something because this makes no sense to me", it's "this book was subtler than I realised, and now I need a do-over in order to sort out all the foreshadowing."

Which is a good thing.

And it also means I won't be giving my copy away to one of you, as I had first intended. The Children's Book needs a re-read...and I believe I'll even add Possession to my summer book list.

HSB Highly Specialised Book Rating System
The Children's Book gets

Reread? Yes
Given to Others? Yes
Bookplate? Yes

which is an enormous surprise even to me.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

And if this is the worst I've got to complain about...

I wish I lived in the US just so I could get some Anne Bonny perfume from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Not only can I not watch Dr Horrible or anything on Hulu, I can't smell like a girl-pirate.

I cry geodiscrimination.