Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Fountain Pen Shawl, Finished

Fountain Aster
Pattern: Fountain Pen Shawl, by Susan Lawrence, Interweave Knits Spring 2009
Yarn: Handspun 80% merino, 20% silk (worsted spun, 2-ply)
Needles: 4.5mm Addi Turbo Lace (120cm length)
Cast On: June 2009
Bound Off: February 20, 2010
Finished length at centre: preblocked - 34.5" / blocked - 50"
Ths pattern calls for 11 repeats in total. I didn't have enough yarn for 11 repeats, so I ended up with 9 plus the border.

I love the pretty pointies.

Blocking wires make this all so much easier. My friend and my mum and I made a set a few years ago for, practically, tuppence. Just a few stainless welding wires and a poster tube. How many hours has this saved us? Innumerable.

Colour not quite true, in any of these pictures. Darker than the sunlit shots, and lighter than the blocking shot.

Getting all arty with my crocii.

I usually do this thing with the trees and the grass and the points of lace, and I don't see any reason to stop now. In the absence of a good camera and a keen-eyed photographer, we have to settle for nature's spartan glories.

Drapey goodness.

See? The grass, the tree, the shadow of winter you're all meant to sigh "how beautiful! How understated!".

From the wheel it was born, and to the wheel it has returned.*
And that, my friends, is the story of how my first spinning became finished knitting.

I'm so proud of this project, because it is a study in gruelling hard work and perseverance. I had bought the roving before I even had a wheel or knew how to spin, on the advice of a sheep-show vendor who, when I asked her whether it would be too much for a beginner to handle, said "I'd go for it. I'm a both-feet-in kind of person."

So am I, I thought, and I went for it too. At times I was so frustrated I wanted to burn the lot, but I set my teeth and grimly carried on, drafting all wrong, overtwisting, underplying, stripping the roving down to a frayed and frazzled thing....and ended up with 1010 meters of ropy yarn experiment. But it was the weight I was shooting for, and it was an incredibly valuable learning experience.

As dubious as the finished yarn was, I picked a pattern, cast on, and worked on that sucker til it was done. My hands hurt (did I mention "ropy"? I think so.) and I had to rip it out twice, but it is finished and blocked and ready to wear.

And I have a little list going, of mistakes I'll not make again.

Thanks for your patience on the knitting posts. And, hey! This is the first one in..............oh my gosh. I just checked. LONG TIME.

Anyway, Carry On! I shall be back soon, with more of something-or-other.

* Shit. Remind me not to drape my lace over my spinning wheel in the name of artistic photography. It got caught on a hook. ("The bolt of Tash falls from above!")

Saturday, February 20, 2010


A half hour ago I finished casting off my lace shawl and wove in the ends. I filled a bowl with lukewarm water and set the shawl to soak, got out the blocking wires, and sat down to write a triumphant post along the lines of "This is finally done! Can you believe it? I bet you thought you were going to have to wait forever to see this FO!"

Then I realised something.

I never did get around to telling you that I had begun the Fountain Pen Shawl from IK Spring 2009.

Or that I was using my purple laceweight handspun yarn...

or that I was half way done...

or that I took a chance on 11 repeats, and ran out of yarn...

that I ripped it back to 10 repeats, began the border, and ran out of yarn...

that I ripped it back to 9 repeats, began the border, and did NOT run out of yarn...

that I was almost done, that I was enjoying the border pattern, and that I'd likely finish by the weekend.


But now you know, right? And the shawl will be dry by tomorrow afternoon, and if it's sunny you will see pictures. So, really, hardly any waiting at all! Yay!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our strategy for the 2030 games

Today's Olympic Moment is in the form of a dialogue with my sister.

SHAN: So I was watching this Michael Whatsit interview with Jenn Heil the other day, and he said "Is it true that there are condoms readily available in the Athletes' Village?" and Jenn said "Yes." Then he said "Really, there are condoms everywhere?" and she said "Yes."


SHAN: You think of them as these elite athletes, flying down the course doing all these instantaneous physical calculations, "I'm focussed on this competition and can't afford distraction", and in reality they're a bunch of bunnies, doing it with each other between events.

GWEN: And why not really. I mean, who can blame them?

SHAN: True. You're young and hot, the best shape you'll ever be for your entire life, now's the time, man.

GWEN: Yeah - they're the best of the best. Actually - hey, breed 'em!

SHAN: Yeah, what are we doing supplying them with condoms? If there's one thing this society needs, it's more people like them.

GWEN: Exactly.

[Short silence.]

SHAN: Hey we should go to Whistler, sneak into the Athletes' Village with a pin, and poke holes in all those condoms.

GWEN: Totally.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kindest Regards, Shan

Dear Norwegian Men's Olympic Hockey Team:

Welcome! Thank you for your interest in our country's second national sport! We are so glad you could make it to Vancouver to enjoy our nation's hospitality for this the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Please make yourself comfortable. We understand your best goalie is a very nice carpenter, and we'd like you to bring him along so he can bang some nails, figuratively speaking, into our offensive line's shots. We'd like to stress that he can expect some very rewarding glove saves, as we plan to only shoot gentle forehands right into it. All he has to do is hold it moderately open: our players have amazing aim, so they will be able to drop the pucks right in.

Thank you again for attending the games, and giving some of our citizens a well-deserved smackdown. You are making us a better, more humbler nation.

Yours deferentially,

* * *

The Canadian Men's Olympic Hockey Team
RE: Strategy for the Game vs. Norway


Monday, February 15, 2010

Small and Sucky

I've been procrastinating posting, but I saw a post by Juno today wherein she says she's trying to post even if it's 'small and sucky', and realised something was better than nothing.

I finished so many things in 2009, you'd be astonished. I've decided I want to make 2010 about finishing - aiming for NO unfinished objects by the end of the year. Finished, or frogged - that's my new motto.

I'm waiting for a sunny day to take a picture of Dad's vest. It's AMAZING but, I fear, one of those things that looks better in real life.

Dad's doing great, except for the weakness and of those annoying 'time' things.

I have a cold and am very crabby about this.

How much did I love the Opening Ceremonies? A LOT much. Tears of patriotic joy.

You know what I've noticed? The Canadian team is amazing. I'm not talking about their race performances, or their medal chances or fitness or whatnot - I'm talking about their grace. Whether they medal or not, they are so......non-egocentric. Here's the interview with Alexandre Bilodeau after his gold-medal mogul run. It's all about the family, and the staff, and the volunteers, and Canadians being "super supported" (which I love), and not all about "I was so ON today" or "I knew it was mine" or any of that elite-athlete arrogance you often see. (Although, aside - has anyone else noticed you get a lot more of that in the Summer Games?)

SO GLAD Mr HalfSoled finally bought a better TV last year. I'm loving the Olympics on forty-inch high-definition LCD.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

When is a good day a bad day?

Yesterday was my Dad's surgery, and thanks to all the prayers, good wishes, positive vibes, and possibly chickens sacrificed on his behalf, it looks like "they got it all".

"They" meaning the surgeons et al, "got" meaning removed, "it all" being every last scrap of cancer.


And that, my friends, is a cute little summary of a hellish 16-hour day during which, at every trip to the hospital bathroom (because, lots of coffee), I noticed my hair was greyer.

But the surgeon says "no trace of cancer anywhere else", so even if all my hair were to turn snow white before dropping off my head and leaving me bald as an egg: Great! it's a bright, bright sunshiny day.

I cast on a vest for Dad (at his request) last week, and (power knitting) finished it before the surgery. It just needs the ribbing at neck and arms...I forgot "Folk Vests" at home so couldn't do the ribbing at the hospital as I had planned.

Next post - knitting news and pictures. I have finished so many projects in the last few months, you'd be surprised.


PS: My sister is here to be with my parents and me this week, and she wrote a beautiful post for Dad yesterday before the surgery. If you would like to read a bit more about my lovely Dad, and even seen a photo of him in his preferred habitat, click over to Blethering Spot and bring Kleenex.