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June 2006

Posts from May 2006

Hand Wash Socks?!

I finished my red-hot Koigu socks tonight--well almost--I have to sew up the picot hem edge and weave in the ends, but the needle and scissors are upstairs in the VERY HOT attic, so I'll wait until tomorrow.  It's not like I'm going to wear socks when it's 32C outside anyway.

The next pair of socks are for a friend who recently completed her Ph.D.  I found some Vesper Yarn in Hot Little Mama that suits her perfectly and I'm excited to get started.  Except for one thing: the label says handwash.  I don't really want to give her handwash only socks, mostly because I don't hand wash my own socks.  I do give away handwash handknits, just not socks.

Since I'm always working the angles, I thought I would ask.  Has anyone machine washed their Vesper socks?  Will they felt?  Does the dye fade?  Is there any reason that you know of from personal experience why I shouldn't machine wash this yarn?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Vancouver Hotel Help

I'm going to Vancouver this Saturday to conduct some focus groups and need some hotel help.  I'm horribly indecisive about these things and would love some recommendations if you have any.

I require a room, under $150 a night, preferrably with internet access, reasonably close to UBC by cab or transit, but also in an area where I can get some reasonably priced food (especially sushi) and which has a good coffeeshop for me to work in (I have some writing to do while I'm away).

So far I've found these two major hotels (Park Plaza and Holiday Inn) that seem to fit the specs.  I'm sure they are the classic, souless hotels, but I'm okay with that, this is for work, not for fun.  And this B&B was already booked.  I'm not sure I will feel sociable enough for a B&B anyway (though recommendations are welcome). 

And, I also have some time to kill Sunday and Monday early in the day.  What's fun in Vancouver?

A *lot* of flowers

Today was home improvement day around our place.  We bought a bunch of annuals and started planting.  I swear the damned things were multiplying while I wasn't watching.  We started digging up any patch of ground without green things growing out of it (and since this place came unlandscaped, there were a lot of those) and planted something in it.  By the end, we had planted about 200 annuals and a bunch of seeds.  We still have some flowers left, but no where to put them.


Now there are Impatients, Verbinas, Petunias, Sunflowers, Marigolds and Black-Eyed Susans where there once was dirt.  We rent this place, so there is only so much we can do, and their isn't much to work with, but we're making it as pretty as we can.


It was hard work on a hot day, but there was beer and now everything looks lovely and has big potential to look lovelier.  And, except for some watering and weeding, the big stuff is done.  Now we can just sit on our deck and watch the flowers grow. 


More wisdom from Homer Simpson

In case you can't tell, I love the Simpsons.  There is a Simpsons quote fit for all blog occasions.  Homer is my secret muse.


Today's topic is why my blogging has been a tad sporatic lately.  Basically, I just don't have the time.  There's too much real-life going on for me to play much in the virtual world.  June is going to be worse work-wise as I do the final big push for data collection, including trips to both Vancouver and Halifax to conduct focus groups, another round of interviews with journalists and media sources, and a bunch of work for Knitty.

I'm feeling like Homer when he was working the graveyard shift at the Quickie Mart to pay for Lisa's pony:

I work from midnight to eight, come home, sleep for five minutes, eat breakfast, sleep six more minutes, shower, then I have ten minutes to bask in Lisa's love, then I'm off to the power plant, fresh as a daisy.

Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad, but this morning, while I wait for the kettle to boil up the water that will be my first caffeine infusion, I'm feeling it.  Thank FSM it's Friday.  At least I can grab a nap some time tomorrow.

May 2-4 Recap

The might be the coldest May long weekend in my life.  I'm very glad I wasn't camping.  And really, a cottage with all the amenities is the proper place to knit and relax anyway.

So here's a quick recap.

There was lousy, cold weather.  With freezing rain even.  Which meant there were worms. 


Xander said these ones were cute and had to be convinced that they preferred living in the dirt to a shorter life in his hand.

There was lots of knitting.  All the pieces of Sunrise Circle are blocking and I finally managed to get a sleeve I liked with the Cotton Tape.  I decided to go back to Angie and found a solution.  I use a smaller needle just for the dropped stitches portion.  Now it looks neater and with the blocking it looks great.  The other sleeve is half done.  Traffic was unusually light on the way home; I was hoping to complete the whole sleeve.


There were also Fireworks.  A huge heaping mound of them.  Craig likes fireworks and he and some other folks all pitched in and there was quite a show. 


Here's some video if you want to see more of the action.  (It's very short--it's more fun to watch than record).

And finally, the cottage now has all the amenities.  Wine and beer and spirits were plentiful.  And who cares if it's cold when you can sit like this and watch the stars and listen to the bullfrogs and the waves hitting the shore.


*This* Close

I'm up at the cottage for the Victoria Day weekend, which means lots of time to knit.  I used that time to finish the Sunrise Circle Jacket, as I received the extra skein I need from Wanda.

Since this put me over the required yardage, I figured I would be fine. (I was short originally and took a chance that it would be enough) .


See my finger?  This is the last sleeve facing.  I used a provisional cast on for this one just in case I didn't have enough yarn.  Good thing I did because I'm out of yarn with only 5 rows left.  I already knit the yarn from my swatch, and I'm tapped.  No more yarn.

It's not a sweater-killer though.  I'll just pick something similar from the stash (I seem to like this wine tweed shade) and knit up the last five rows and seam with it.  Since it's a sleeve facing it won't show and no one here will rat me out to the knit police.  Right?

Women as Wombs

Discussions of this bit of misongyny have surfaced on the web.  What. utter. crap.  Apparently all women who are menstruating (ie fertile) should consider themselves "prepregnant" and exercise great care and caution and engage in preconception self care.  And sure, the concept is good: don't drink excessively, stop smoking, take folic acid, eat well, exercise regularly, but some fucktard at the CDC seems to have missed the picture issue here: NOT ALL WOMEN HAVE BABIES.  Even if they can, even if they get pregnant and well, we're more than just Wombs with legs. 

I see two kinds of ways to refute this notion of "prepregnant".  The first is a more health-based argument.  We can discuss the epidemiological evidence on women's behaviours and birth defects/illnesses and prevention as Bitch PhD does.  These are good arguments.  It is difficult to extract from population based data down to individual women.  While your odds of having a "good" pregnancy (more on that in a minute) go up if you engage in the behaviours they recommend, they are not assured.  You can do everything right and things can still go wrong.  And do everything wrong and have a healthy baby.  The CDC guidelines turn pregnancy into a risky state from a natural one, making it fraught with perils.  Make you wonder how women managed to have babies before those in public health decided to step in with their pre-pregnant care or how women who are not reading these guidelines manage.

Which brings me to the other way to argue this, the moral, social stuff.  Examining that crazy assumption that women are just incubators, that we have a responsibility to always care for our bodies, just in case we get pregnant.  That our ability to reproduce means we have a moral obligation as citizens to engage in practices determined by the state to ensure a healthy populace.  I don't tend to see the power as being repressive and dictatorial since we do not have to follow these guidelines, but reports like this one contribute to a long-standing notion that women are ultimately responsible for the outcomes of their pregnancies and that they live in some statistical bubble which only measures practices like smoking and prenatal vitamin doses which are under a woman's control.

This completely neglects a whole bunch of factors which likely determine the outcomes of pregnancy:

1. Pregnancy is often a trigger for intimate partner violence

2. Poverty.  Can a woman afford the nutritious foods, vitamins, classes and in the US medical insurance.  Does she live in adequate housing?  Is there access to clean water?  Poverty is probably the biggest determinant of a healthy pregnancy.

3. Addictions.  They are not a personal moral failing but a complex social and psychological state.  Stop smoking/drinking/using drugs is not going to help women with addictions pregnant or NOT.

4. Safe working conditions.  Are women handling toxic chemicals, working long hours, in poor conditions? 

5. The environment.  But no one in public health likes to discuss that whole mess.  Too messy epidemiologically because you can't run randomized trials.  So it's neglected.

This new state of "prepregnancy" adds to the already growing trend toward blaming women for health concerns in their children and put them under the microscope for what they could/should have done.  We see instances of this with women who are portrayed as Bad (smoke, consume drugs/alcohol while pregnant) and ideas that they should be incarcerated/treated because their fetus takes priority over the woman. 

And it further marginalizes people with disabilities, since a non-perfect pregnancy  (whatever the hell that means) is seen as a failing, again of women.

If you look at the report, you can see the CDC means well but they privilege personal individualized solutions over social change which would benefit the populace, avoid placing blame on women (because people will use this report to do that) and which treat women as more than baby vessels who treat health (as conceived by the CDC) as their main priority.


Well, it's almost Wednesday, so let's do random.

1. I started watching 24, on DVD from the beginning.  I missed it on tv (no cable, I don't like buying tv, but that's another story).  I think I'm going to like this show. 

2. Met my Mentor for lunch today.  She's was my Master's supervisor, sat on my Ph.D. committee and has always made me feel smart and capable.  I left feeling recharged and inspired.  I like those kind of meetings.  Thanks Pam.

3. My design in progress is coming along well.  I'm very pleased with Part One.  One word to describe Part Two: Calmer.  I'm happy.

4. The DaVinci Code Quest (oops good show though)--the book--is it as good as all that?  I feel like I'm missing a popular cultural event, but don't know if I really care.  Waste of words?  So-So? Fantastique?  Let me know.  If you're at Cannes, send me a movie review so I can be very jealous.

5. Had a friend and her kids over for dinner.  It was great to do social stuff.  I like social stuff, especially when the guest brings beer (though this is never obligatory if you come and visit, just really nice).  Her baby is awfully cute.  Babies really are magic. 

6. I've got a rant building, but I want to save it for tomorrow.  Must watch 24 and knit calmer, I'm warm from beer.  mmmmmm.

Social Butterfly

Phew, where did the week go?  I'm sorry I've  been neglecting the blog, things just got so busy.  Wednesday I ran a focus group of knitters for my research.  That was a lot of fun.  We then went to Lettuce Knit and I stayed until pretty late.  Thursday I met an old friend I haven't seen in 5 years and we caught up on life and had some dinner and beers--another late night.  Yesterday I had a full day of work and then went to the Spotted Dick for Knit Night with the Toronto knitters.  I managed to get a whole bunch of knitting done, met some nifty new people and had a few pints.

Today I'm staffing the Jumping Castle at the school Fun Fair.  I somehow inadvertantly signed up for 2 hour long spots.  Let's hope it doesn't rain.  My experience as a carnie is minimal, but I'm thinking a Jumping castle, hundreds of children and rain don't mix.  I can see slipping and kids crashing into each other and crying (probably me and the children). 

At least I have the first two slots, then I can duck down to the Naked Sheep and meet the TTC Knit-Alongers this afternoon.  I need to go and pick up some yarn for a secret project (aka design for a book).

The design deadline means that the Cotton Tape is in the time-out corner.  I worked this sleeve on 7mm needles and I like how it looks.  Except that the row gauge is way off.  Like 9 rows off.  So I'm not sure what to do next.  I'm pretty sure I won't have enough yarn if I keep things as they are, so when the purple thing is done (see I showed you the yarn) then I will deal with the Tape.


Also made progress on my Red Hot Koigu sock. 


Nothing like waiting for the doctor to do your physical, in your gown, turning the heel on a sock.  And, having the doctor fondling the yarn (I figure if I keep knitting in her office, she'll get bitten by the bug--I can see it in her eyes) and notice it will match my gown.  Good thing I have a sense of humour.

Well off to find my raincoat, just in case.

But I want it now!

There's an episode of the Simpsons where Homer wants to buy a gun (I think to join the NRA, but I may be mixing up my plotlines) and the guy at the shop tells him there's a 5 day waiting period.  Homer says,

Five day waiting period for my gun?  But I'm angry now! I'd kill you if I had my gun... How am I supposed to last five days without shooting something?

With my newly purchased Rowan Cotton Tape, I feel the same way.  I bought 11 balls of it in dark pink (549 Sharp) to make this sweater (Angie)  from the It's A Tape Thing book (there's some good photos of it on the Elann site). 


I want a loose comfy pullover to wear in the mornings when it's still cool.  On the weekend I casted on using my preferred cable cast on method and got to work.  The flared edges at the sleeves and hem are the result of dropped stitches, a detail I though nifty, until I did the first drop.


After Clapotis, I'm not afraid to drop stitches for a decorative effect.  Clearly, I underestimated Kate's superior design prowess (sorry Kate) because this one didn't work so good--notice that really long strand at the end.  Methinks my cast on is to blame. 

Hey Rowan, if I need a particular cast on to make this work, why not say so in the pattern?  That way I don't knit 13 rows and then find out things the hard way okay?

So I rip it all out, do a long tail cast on and it's sorta better, but still not great.  I can't get the gauge consistent using the 2X2 rib.  The swatch is done in st. st. and looks fine, but my ribbing is all messy and bleh and too big.  Since the whole sweater is 2X2 rib, I decide to abandon it and use this sweater as a template to design something myself--a pullover with raglan sleeves--no Flashdance neck.


Somehow I manage to screw up the nice looking hem several times and actually fell asleep while knitting it Saturday night.  This does not bode well.  And, I keep thinking about Angie and how I want that sweater.  So I'll swatch in pattern, use different needles and see what happens. 

Grrrr.  What was supposed to be a quick, instant gratification knit is now not.  I hate when that happens.