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Posts from December 2008

Holiday Goals, Part 2: 60km

My second goal this holiday was to get my stash into Ravelry so I could get a sense of what I have.

Well, that proved to be an interesting task.  I got all my tools together today and started cataloguing.

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The handiest thing (besides the coffee) was this nifty new scale I got for Christmas.  It helped me calculate how much of those leftover balls of yarn I had hanging around.  I love how small it is; it fits in my knitting bag.

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(Those smudges are Lindor tracks to check scale accuracy)

Small amounts went into the bag of cast-offs for the daycare to use for crafts.  The rest is in a bag for a crazy weaving project or something.  But now at least I know that those things exist.

The rest, well, there's a lot.  As I write this, I realize I forgot a box in the basement, so let's say I have about 60km of yarn stashed.  That's 60,000 metres.  Ouch. 

I found some real gems in those baskets: 500 yards of cashmere/silk fingering weight yarn, three 2000m cones of worsted weight wool tweed I bought about 5 years ago for a song, a sweater's worth of Rowan yorkshire aran tweed in a beautiful colour and lots and lots of possibilities.  It made me want to swatch and cast on a bunch of new projects (though that could also be due to the fact that I've been knitting my Grey Mist Bohus exclusively for a few weeks now).

And it made me happy with what I have.  I like that part.  A lot.

I'm not going to commit to knitting exclusively from stash, because I already know that doesn't work, but I have committed to seriously thinking before I buy more yarn, especially single balls that are pretty but seem to just sit in my stash being pretty (not that there's anything wrong with that; I'm just running out of room).  And I'll also be posting a tiny stash sale of sweater-lots of yarn soon.  While I found some really pretty things, I also found some beautiful yarns that I don't care to knit with, or just aren't me and it's time to let them become part of someone else's stash.

BTW, I didn't photograph anything.  I will photograph things when I pull them out, or if I acquire something new, but it was just too much work to do everything right now.  And it wasn't really the point for me--I wanted the spreadsheet so I could compile some statistics on my stash (I'm geeky that way).


Holiday Goals, Part 1: My Mii is Rather Chubby

I'm not much for Christmas, but I do love the two weeks I get off at the end of every year.  It gives me time to catch up on my sleep, play with my family and take care of tasks that never seem to get done. 

This holiday, I have three goals:

  1. Start doing more exercise
  2. Catalogue my stash and do some de-stashing
  3. Finish painting my stairs

The first goal is moving along thanks to the Wii Fit I got for Christmas.  Now that I'm not on my bike over the  winter, I'm feeling mighty lumpy and this move to full time employment has also led to 10 extra pounds that I would like to lose before it turns into 10 more.  I was a bit skeptical about the Wii Fit, but so far, my hobbling around like a broken old woman proves that doing a regimen of strength training with some cardio and fun yoga and balancing games is better than my previous plan of sitting on my ass complaining about how fat I'm getting. 

My only complaint (besides the idea that I'm becoming the healthist subject of my dissertation) is that there is too much time between exercises where the trainer is talking to you, or moving from activity to activity.  I think this goes away with the unlocking of more repetitions and a good plan of attack, but it seems that 30 minutes of activity takes about 45 minutes of real time and I know I'll want those 15 minutes of sleep on the mornings I will be doing this before getting ready for work.

It won't be the last exercise program I do, but it is a good place to start and the type A person in me loves how it monitors progress, and lets me set goals and rewards me for doing exercise by giving me more games to play.  And using a virtual hoola hoop is pretty fun!

Now to see if I stick with it and move into a more regular exercise routine.


Made it!

I set a modest goal of weaving two scarves for Christmas presents, which due to the wrong yarn choice on my part turned into three scarves. 

I've warmed up to the first one (which I will give to my cousin for her birthday on the 26th), and am really pleased with the other two.

Warp and Weft: Spirit Trail Fibers Superwash Merino Worsted with a 7.5 dpi reed and twisted fringe.  This is a better photo than the other day (nice to have some sunlight!).

Growing on me scarf


Warp: Beaverslide Worsted, 90% Merino, 10% Mohair in Chokecherry Heather.  Weft: Malabrigo Worsted in velvet grapes with a 7.5 dpi reed and twisted fringe.  This scarf is soooooooo soft and squooshy.  If the recipient even makes a little noise about not liking it, I'm taking it back!

Hannah's Scarf


Warp: Knitpicks Gloss in Black and Pumpkin, 70% Merino, 30% Silk.  Weft: Knitpicks Gloss in  Cocoa on a 12.5 dpi reed with regular fringe.  This is for my brother who wanted something not too thick to wear under his camel coat.  I think it's suitably masculine and I love how the stripe worked.  This one has inspired me to try some more solid colours and stripe combinations.

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And as you can see, we're having a white Christmas. We're in the final scramble here before we head out to the cottage, but we did find time to go sliding and watch the original three Star Wars movies.  I'm on holiday until January 5th (one of the perks of working for a University; they close for 2 weeks) and I plan on doing a whole lot of loafing.

Elements of Style

It's book review time at And She Knits Too! My dear pal Rosemary Hill, shoe fairy, knitwear designer of beautiful things, nifty shawl pin maker, jewelry designer, and fibre arts innovator has a fantastic new book, Elements of Style.

Book cover  

I was so pleased that she asked me to be part of her virtual book tour so I could show you all the beautiful jewelry she designed using beads, wire, crochet, knitting, and felting(!).  For me, it pushes knitting into places that I never considered combining soft fibres and hard elements like beads, metal and wire to make some incredibly pretty and interesting pieces.   I recently e-spoke with Rosemary about her new book and her designs.

Geometry

1. Silver or gold or...?  What's your favourite metal and why?

I love to look at ancient gold jewelry. You know that incredible rich color of old pure gold? Beautiful! When I was a teenager, I wore only gold because my mother wore silver. I had to be different! But I do love silver, and that is what I most often wear these days. I live in a very casual area, so day to day, I really only wear my wedding and engagement rings, which are gold and platinum. I guess if I really had to choose, I prefer silver. I think of gold as dressier and more formal, and I'm more of an informal person.


2. If you could have any materials you wanted for beads, findings, fibre and anything else, and unlimited skill and time, what would be your ultimate make for yourself?

I have always wanted to learn how to blow glass. If I were able to do anything, I think it would be glass beads and little silver boxes with cutouts. Inside the boxes would be bits of knitted Habu silk/stainless steel in different colors so you could see texture through the holes.

3. Back to reality, name the beads that makes you go "ga-gorgeous".

Nepalese beads are absolutely fascinating to me! The intricacy, the colors, the different stones...wow!


4. What about the yarn that makes you go "mmmmm"?

Well, I've been a huge fan of kidsilk haze ever since I first laid hands on a ball. But my new loves are Habu silk/stainless steel and Habu bamboo laceweight. Incredible stuff! There are just so many possibilities with the silk/stainless steel! And the bamboo is. So. Gorgeous.

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5. What has been the niftiest part of this whole, publishing a book thing?

Getting to play with all of the great materials and actually being able to say I am working! And I really did just get to sit down and let my mind roam to do the designs. It has been amazing. Like fiber and jewelry heaven!!


6. What was the not-so-niftiest part?

Without a doubt: always feeling behind. There is always more to do than time to do it in. I hate that feeling: losing track of everything and everyone while you are trying to get it all together!


Mess-up


7. Who should play you in the movie adaptation of Elements of Style?

Well, since it would, of course, be a big budget flick, I would have Katharine Hepburn cloned and she could play me. What do you think? They must have her DNA somewhere!


8. Who would be the romantic lead?

There again: Cary Grant. They were so great together!


9. What advice do you have for people who want to design their own jewelry or knitwear?

Just do it! Be true to your own aesthetic and style, and keep plugging at it all the time. Take your inspirations from visuals everywhere: anything could trigger a great idea. And when you are stuck, get outside and get some fresh air. It does wonders to unstick your brain!


Be sure to check out the other tour sites to learn more about Rosemary and her book:

Dec. 15: Scout J, http://www.scoutj.com
Dec. 16: Heather Powers, Art Bead Scene, http://www.artbeadscene.blogspot.com
Dec. 17: Stephannie Roy, And She Knits Too!, http://acunningplan.typepad.com/andsheknitstoo
Dec. 18: Stefanie Girard, Sweater Surgery, http://sweatersurgery.blogspot.com
Dec. 19: Cristi Brockway, Turtlegirl’s Bloggy Thing, http://turtlegirl76.com



I didn't knit a stitch for 3 days...

But I did do a whole lot of weaving.  I don't do a lot of Christmas knitting because I don't like to put that kind of pressure on myself, but this year, I thought it would be nice to make a few scarves on the loom since it's pretty quick and the results are pleasing. 

The first step was to get Emma's project off my loom. I bought her purple yarn at the Purple Purl first anniversary sale for her own scarf.  The warp was Malabrigo and the weft, Manos Silk.  First, don't use Malabrigo for the warp; it's too delicate and it broke a few times on the outermost strand.  It was fixable, but also a pain the ass (think swear jar...see below).  We warped it right away and then Emma let it sit.  And sit.  And sit.  So a bit of threatening that I would weave it myself and keep the scarf, and a bit more threatening and she sat down and got it done.  I would say it's 50% me and 50% her, but I'll give her all the credit.

She's wearing her Medieval costume (the time period they're studying at school) and she's very pleased with the final result.  After washing it, it was soft and beautiful.

Princess Emma's new scarf

We used all the yarn up (which was my plan) and there's a neat spot with just the Malabrigo which makes it look extra neat (must remember that for future projects)

Now that the loom was free I warped my first project.  The warp and weft is superwash worsted from Spirit Trail Fibers.  It's yarn I bought 2 Rhinebecks ago and while I loved it in the skein, I loved it less in the ball and then less on the loom.  The lime is glaring against the purples.  It also didn't say "sister-in-law" to me, so I'm saving it for the right person.

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It took about a day to do (and I didn't weave for 24 hours straight) so I decided to warp a do-over using Beaverslide worsted (which my pal Deena gave me--it is ga-ga-gorgeous and there will be more of this yarn in my life) and a skein of Malabrigo worsted in Velvet grape.  

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I love the combination of the solid warp with the handpaint weft--it looks tweedy and subtle but also gorgeous and rich.  This one speaks to me as the gift for its intended.  It's going to be tough to give it away.


Rocket Dress, finished just in time

Thanks for all the advice on the buttons.  I really loved the green and orange daisies, but the pink one just wasn't working for me (I've had them forever, so couldn't find more).  Luckily Lettuce Knit had some snazzy lime ones that were perfect.


Actual Buttons

The dress is now finished and I'm taking it to the wee recipient this morning.  She came into the world a few weeks early, so I'm not sure when she'll be wearing this 6 month old sized dress, but the way she's nursing, it'll be soon enough.

Rocket Dress finished

I might just make a traditional new-born sweater because I know she'll have lots of time to wear it.  I don't usually make the small stuff, but since she was born weighing less than 5lbs, it would be quick and fun to make something like this.


My Latest Time Waster

For a while Cake Wrecks has been part of my blogroll and it usually gave me a good laugh in the morning.

Yesterday, my pal Dr. Laura put me on to Fail Blog and I'm hooked.  It is merely a collection of video and photographs which readers have voted as a FAIL.  There are logistics fails, sign fails, headline fails, you get the idea. 

This Answer Fail made me laugh out loud confirming to my cubicle mates that I'm insane:

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more fail, owned and pwned pics and videos

Don't read the blog with your mouth full.  And it's a bit more fun if you're sitting with a friend so you can share.


Prorogues and Coalitions and Punditry...Oh My!

My aren't things suddenly very interesting in Canadian politics? (Yarn Harlot has an excellent synopsis to get you up to speed.)  We move from an election that pretty much everyone knew would lead to another Conservative-lead minority government to a full testing of our parliamentary democracy and constitution (that I actually typed democraZy shows how extraordinary things have become).

Anyone who reads this blog knows that not a single atom of my being supports Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, and yet, as I try to step back from the possibility of Harper crashing and burning (which fills me with glee) I'm not completely convinced all will be well.

I will say that Harper messed up big time.  Minority governments, by their very minority status must govern in ways which build coalitions with the other parties to pass legislation.  In a country like Canada where no one or two parties represent the views of the majority of the population, minority governments are a good thing.  People need to collaborate and fight to ensure that things happen, be that economic stimulus, the daily work of government, continuing to build a great country etc. 

(And yes I said fight. I have no issues around decorum and playing nice that people seem to continually harp about, representing people's ideas is hard work and sometimes it means being forceful and showing leadership.  It might even mean yelling. It's not being childish, it's being passionate and we could use a lot more of that in government). 

Harper decided he would attach a confidence motion to his economic update and put the onus on the other parties to like it or lump it.  Instead, they chose a plan C: We'll take you down, but offer the Governor General a coalition that can govern instead of having another election.  They said, no more making us do your bidding by force, you come and talk with us instead.  So far, Harper has done nothing to say, "let's talk" to the other parties and anything reassuring to the people of this country who are feeling the economic pinch.  And while he has supporters, I think he's completely misread the mood of the population.

From where I sit, that works for me, I don't want Harper as Prime Minister, even less so than in October.  But I'm not sure the coalition can hold together.  I don't think Dion is a great leader.  I believe he's an intelligent person, who cares about Canada and has sound ideas, but I don't see him as one to inspire others, strategize about how to implement his plans or work the details, which are an important parts of leadership.  I think he'll have a tough time as Prime Minister which will shorten the life of any coalition. 

I also don't know if the Liberals and NDP can find common ground if they do form a cabinet, especially if there is a leadership vacuum, but I also would like to see if it could work.  It happens in other countries and would far better represent the interests of the majority of Canadians who did not vote Conservative in the last election. 

I also have no real issue with their coaltion having the support of the BQ.  They were duly elected by Quebecers and have no real appetite for separatism at this time.  I see them more as boosters for their province who have managed to be a political force in their for nearly two decades.  I don't like some of their policies and platforms, but I can say that about all the parties.  The BQ could have sided with the Conservatives (and have done so in the recent past) but instead chose to work with those they felt could DO the work of governing. 

And if this coalition does occur and suddenly a giant hairy monster named separatism comes rushing through the corridors of power (which is what Stephen Harper is predicting) then the Conservatives can step up, side with the Liberal and NDP coalition and save Canada. 

Imagine that?  Again with the working together thing. 

Right now, the Governor General is consulting with her advisors after meeting with Harper, who asked that Parliament be prorogued (post-poned) until January as a "cooling-off" measure. 

Wait, while looking for a link, it seems that Parliament is prorogued until January 26th.  Then Harper and the government will present a budget (which is always a confidence motion).

I'm not sure if this means Harper will be walking over to Stornoway with a Toblerone and a bottle of Bailey's to work out something with Dion to stop this coalition, or if he will be making appointments, and changing anything not requiring legislation in a last ditch effort to govern like he has a majority (I do hope that if the proroging happens that Jean puts some limitations on the government), but he better not just put up the Christmas tree and sit in front of the fire;  he's going to have to show Canadians that he has a plan to govern within a minority government and embrace the idea of collaboration.  Since he's going to present a budget, he better start the consultations now.