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Posts from February 2009

If it hurts like this now, what will it be like tomorrow?

I am fortunate to have free on-sight yoga a work two (and soon to be three) lunch hours a week.  A woman in our office teaches yoga and volunteers to keep us limber (she is high on my list of people to weave a scarf for).  Today's class focused on our core with lots of spinal twists and abdominal work.  The class finished 2.5 hours ago and my abs are starting to hurt.  I'm going to sore tomorrow.

But it's worth it.  I was a bit demoralized a few weeks ago with the pace of my weight loss (or to be more accurate, my desire to fit into my clothes again) and the lack of other noticeable changes in my physical body that I was hoping to see 6 weeks into a new physical activity program.  The mental benefits started almost right away--it feels good to get up and move, especially in the winter when I'm more sedentary--but I also want the physical changes to happen to0.  Not just looking good, but being more flexible, combating the soreness that comes from having a desk job and a sedentary knitting hobby, increased strength and good old general wellness.

I'm starting to see and feel it.  But I could live without the sore abs. 


Tax-Free Savings Accounts...More of the same regressive tax policy

I don't write about politics as much as I used to, but you all know that I have no love for conservatives, expecially our current Prime Minister and his ilk.  The latest federal budget does nothing to change that.  I know I'm a bit late on the analysis of this, since the budget came down in late January, but that's because the "how does it affect me" part didn't really sink in until I started working on my taxes.

I have no particular issue with paying taxes.  Taxes pay for things I value like universal health care, education, roads, social services and a whole bunch of other things that make Canada a good place for most people to live.  In fact, if paying more taxes would turn "most people" into "everyone" I would happily pay more--but only to a point.   I would prefer that current taxation schemes become more progressive (which could mean I would pay more) and do a better job of redistributing wealth through the provision of services and less taxation for the very poor, rather than the current trend towards encouraging those who already do okay to keep more of their earnings out of the system.

The Tax-Free Savings Account is one of those new programs that gets it completely wrong in my books.  This new scheme allows anyone over 18 to annually save $5000 of money, and shelter all the investment interest it accumulates from taxation, forever.  Any of the $5000 that is not used in a tax year can be rolled over into the next year similar to RRSPs.  However unlike registered retirement savings which are taxed when they are withdrawn (ie the taxation is deferred), the captial gains from the TFSA are never taxed.  The tax savings are greatest for those who can put away the most money.  No sign of progressive taxation there...

The smart people at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives sum up my issues with this program nicely:

This is essentially a program to shield capital gains. Consequently over two-thirds of the benefits from this program go to 6% of Canadian, those with taxable incomes of more than $100,000 (They were the source of 69% of all taxable capital gains in 2005.)  This is a male dominated group, but also a very elite group: 5.7% of men who filed taxes, and 1.6% of women.

Looking ahead, TFSAS raise another troubling issue: a future generation of retirees could be paying little or no income tax (for those who could afford to save) but expect to receive large amounts of high-cost public services, such as public health care.

Budget 2008: What's In It for Women?

This new program also raises personal issues for me.  I live very comfortably.  My family income is much higher than the median national family income and while I live in a big expensive city and have a comparatively large mortgage, our family is able to do pretty much anything we want.  As Jo suggests in a very thoughtful post, we have chosen how we wish to live, and do what we need to achieve that. 

I have some money that I could use in one of these accounts.  It seems foolish not to take advantage of this and increase my personal wealth.  Does that mean I should strive to donate a portion of this to causes I deem worthy and exchange taxation-based income distribution with philantropy?

While I know that both government and charitable organizations play important roles in Canadian society, I also feel like my government is going in a direction I don't support.  I suspect that most Canadians are not having this conversation with themselves.  They seem to not consider how their taxes contribute to services they demand for themselves and for others (everything from funding for amateur sports to Aboriginal housing), but instead think only of keeping more of their money; like the "tax man" is some nefarious entity that keeps them from their holiday or big screen tv.  

I also suspect there's a whole bunch of people out there who wish they had an extra $5000 they could save and earn some extra income.   

 


It had to be done

I tried to use something from my stash.  I really did.  After some measuring and some help from the designer, Hannah Fettig, I decided I did need to knit the large size of the Whisper Cardigan.  Which meant that I didn't have enough of any appropriate yarn in the stash.  It happens. 

I was planning on using Malabrigo lace, but after swatching, I found it too thin, and chose Malabrigo Sock instead.  It's not quite the same as the Morehouse Lace, but I wanted the yarn in hand, swatched, with the needles ready for my trip, so I needed a local yarn.  It's not single ply, or slightly slubby, but it's soft and pretty and knits to a pleasing drapey fabric at the called for gauge, so I'm going with it. 

Emma and I popped into the Purple Purl on Sunday (we had only 15 minutes; I love how local my LYS is!) and I was drawn to the acid green, but decided that I really needed a brown cardi for summer.  Brown is my favourite neutral and I'll get an acid green tank to wear underneath.  The colour is cardovan--think chocolate and cinammon. Or since I'm going to be in Mexico--think mole.  Mmmmm.

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I restrained myself to only swatching last night.  But I may start it this week, I want it on the needles before I board the plane, and just 'cause it's so soft.

In all, I went 66 days without buying yarn.  And since this is just sock yarn, it doesn't count, right? 



Random Wednesday with a Whisper

1. Normally Wednesdays are a tough day at home because everyone is tired.  This week the kids had a 4 day weekend and I had Monday off so we're pretty zippy.  I suppose that will mean tomorrow is the tough day.

2. I did very little knitting on my long weekend.  But did make Emma a pair of fingerless gloves.  She seems to be reviving the 80's style (is that back already?!) with suspenders and leggings and now these gloves.  But it's cute on a ten year old who is expressing herself.

Emma Finers

3. Fingerless gloves on 4mm needles are a fast knit.

4. I'm working on my taxes which is leading to another blog post, but not today, I need to let it percolate more.

5. The coffee at work actually tastes good again.  I stopped drinking it for about 6 months until they changed the machine.  Now that it doesn't taste like coffee-flavoured diluted dishwater I wonder if the regular drinkers are wondering if they should have been drinking the old stuff.  I sure wonder how they stood it.

6. I bought a bikini this weekend.  Not only does it look pretty good on me, I feel good with it on.

7. Why a bikini?  We're off to Cozumel in 2 and a half weeks.  I want to get a little UV therapy while I'm there.  It'll save me having to do UVB therapy when I'm home and will be more fun. 

8. I got a regular takini too.  Takinis rock. 

9. I'm feeling better about my exercise program.  I'm feeling better BECAUSE of my exercise program.  I feel crappy about sleeping instead of exercising today; though I did get a good walk into work today.

10.  I started a new notebook today for my work notes.  I love starting new notebooks.  I'm working towards a very much reduced paper office and I'm doing very well, these notebooks are my one weakness, I like to write things down sometimes.  The process of making script seems to help me think more than the process of tapping keys.

11. I hope Lettuce Knit has the Spring Interweave.  I really want to knit the Whisper Cardigan while I'm in Mexico.  I'm hoping my stash yarn will work.  I'm going between these two colours of Handpaintedyarn.com laceweight, or this Briar Rose Grandma's Blessing (which I think will be too thick).  I'm thinking I should use a semi-solid so the Orange is the big contender. 

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Briar Rose Grandma's blessing

I might not have enough of the orange laceweight which will lead me down the ice ramp of breaking my knit from stash pledge right into the loving embrace of some malabrigo laceweight or sea silk or something equally lovely for this sweater.  Ack!

12.  I haven't purchased any yarn since mid-December.  Maybe I've shown enough resolve...


Book Review: Pet Projects, The Animal Knits Bible

I don't have any pets.  And I don't really want to have a pet. So I was a bit surprised to have this book, Pet Projects by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne show up at my door.  Regular readers know that I knit mostly for myself, and if I do knit for others, it sure the heck wouldn't be for an animal.

Pet cover


After reading this book, I'm a bit tempted.  Don't tell Emma, but I could totally knit for a hamster if it was going to look like this:

Pet hamster

Isn't that the cutest little rodent house you've ever seen?

This is the charm of Pet Projects.  These are not your run of the mill dog and cat stuff.  There are carrot blankets to cover your bunny cage, a horse blanket with interesting intarsia patterns to customize for your pony,  a mouse-skin mat for your cat (knit of course), dog collars and hats and a range of nifty dog coats and cat beds that have style and whimsy.

I also really liked the instructions on how to felt and repurpose human sweaters for your dog and the tortoise hibernation tent.

Yep.  A little Camelot-esque tent for your turtle.  Or your child's favourite stuffed toy.  Totally sweet (even if it is a bit silly).

And for the pet-less out there like me, there are patterns to knit your own animals, a pattern for a wire bird feeder, water lilies knit from plastic bag strips (to float in your pond) and some very pretty and intricate charts that could be knit into perfectly serviceable human-use pillows and blankets.

Being a British book, Rowan and Jaegar yarns feature heavily, but all can be substituted with less expensive, machine washable yarns (except for the felted stuff--be sure it's not superwash) if your pet is not considered Rowan-worthy. 

My only quibble is with the photography.  It's beautiful and this book could easily have a spot on your coffee table as the animals and the knitting are photographed in lovely settings.  However, in several cases the focus is on the pet and the knitting is blurred in the background.  As a knitter I want to see the knit stuff first and the cutesy pets are secondary (even that super cute hamster and the fluffy bunny). 

But maybe that's just my lack of furry critterness showing.







Last thing I expected to get me out of a slump

A funny thing happened on Friday.  I was procrastinating at work taking a break and looking at Ravelry, when I noticed Emily's very beautiful Hanami stole.  I peeked at the pattern, saw many other beautiful versions and decided that I needed to make one for myself.  Immediately.  I went through my stash (I totally *heart* Ravelry for making this so easy) found a few possibilities, bought the pattern, and when I got home from work, decided on the yarn (need to touch it to be sure) and casted on.

Less than 10 days earlier I was trading away laceweight yarn for boat shuttled because I realized that I didn't like knitting lace.  And here I was spending the weekend getting through 38 rows of a not-so-intuititve (for me) lace pattern.  Huh?

In this case, I'm not fighting it.  Knitting is supposed to make me relaxed and happy.  I'm relaxed and happy and loving the KSH springy pinkiness (it's kidsilk spray in vino).

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Time for Tea Towels

I finished the tea towels and I'm rather impressed with myself.

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The patterns are random, to see how different combinations work together.  I also roughly followed the instructions in the Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving (2nd Edition).  A book I find good on ideas, but a little light on instructions for someone new to the craft.  But a good book all the same.

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I consider myself a pretty proficient knitter, and I don't make a lot of mistakes that I can't fix.  Not so with weaving.  These towels are full of little errors, bad selvedges and those little things that show that I'm new to the craft.  And while I successfully used the sewing machine without cursing or crying, my complete lack of skill in that area only shows a bit.

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I learned that I also need to take into consideration the shrinkage of the hempathy so I can make decent sized towels. These ones are soft and appear absorbent and there will be more; the whole process was fun, and it's neat to make something I can use.


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Random Wednesday with Holiday Goal Updates

*I spent the day home sick.  Xander shared the GI bug he picked up (and puked up) and I'm feeling bleh.  Not awful, just tired and bleh.  I'm off to bed right after the kids, but wanted to whine a bit, so I came here.  It is my blog after all.

*While I have been using the Wii-fit pretty consistently (and have the sore muscles to prove it) I just don't feel like I'm getting the results I want--that is, losing the weight I want to lose.  The good news is that I haven't gained, but I am staying in the same 3 lb range and it's frustrating as hell.  I'm trying to cut back on things like pop and sweets because I really want that 10lbs gone.  I do feel better, so I should be focusing on that.

*I'm also hoping that my little bug will give me a weight-loss edge. How sad is that?

*I haven't worked on my dishcloths since I blogged about them, even though I made a trade with a local knitter--laceweight that I'll never use for boat shuttles.  I just haven't had the time or inclination when the table was free.  Really need to get a loom stand, that will help a bunch.

*I did purchase some nifty weaving books and am cooking up some reviews.  I  just need my brain to be working when I get home from the office.  Work has been kicking my ass and I don't know when that will change, so I apologize in advance for a) not blogging and b) not visiting other blogs.  I miss it.

*I seem to be in a knitting slump too for the same reason.  I'm just too tired.  My Ravelry queue is filling as I virtual knit, but the actual yarn and sticks thing is going slow.  That hasn't happened in a long time.  Weird.