Saturday, July 29, 2006

Two FOs For The Price Of One

Not only does she babble on at length about her yard and her child, but she knits too!

That's right. Two finished projects. In the last few hours I've managed to finish off a scarf and my July Project Spectrum socks. Not bad for a month during which I've moved and have been faced with 5,000 lbs of useless stuff piling up in my basement.

First up,
Madder Rib socks from Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Sheppard Sock in Fresh Stripe
Needle: U.S. 1 bamboo DPNs
Mods: None

Comments: Love the yarn. Like, really, really love it. This is the first time I've used any Lorna's Laces (I'd never actually seen it in a store until I moved to Calgary and found Make 1 Studio). It's beautiful to work with and beautiful to wear. I do think the one row stripe pattern is a little wonky and would have preferred wider more consistent stripes (they repeated every row plus 14 stitches at this gauge), but I love the colour and kind of appreciate the wonkiness. The pattern is great too -- very simple and introduced me to the pointed toe (I've only ever done flat). I don't think that I'm going to have a life-long love affair with the pointed toe, but it was fun to switch things up. I think my next pair of socks will be another one of Knitting Vintage Socks ribbed variations. It was nice to actually be able to relax while knitting after the stress of Pomatomus.

Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Kid Mohair (I lost the band in the move, but it's basically a cheaper version of Kid Silk Haze, minus the silk)
Needle: U.S. 10 cheapo aluminums (my supplies were still in transit, so I cheaped out)
Mods: I had to add extra repeats to lengthen the scarf
Comments: I love the fabric that the large needles created -- very gauzy and lace-like even though the lace repeat was simple beyond simple. I originally intended this for my One Skein Secret Pal, but it seemed a little too flimsy for the exchange (I think I'm going to whip up some wristwarmers instead) and it's also perfect for a birthday party we're going to tonight.

Speaking of gifts, after I finish my August socks, it'll be time to start work on Xmas gifts! I think between my love of Last Minute Knitted Gifts and my desire to learn how to sew softies (Hilary Lang, here I come), I'm just going to start making stuff and decide who the recipients are later. I really love making small items (who needs the stress of a sweater) so I'm pretty excited about gift season.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Secret Pal Strikes Again

Nothing quite matches the feeling of seeing the Canada Post truck (the one that carries the parcels) coming down your street and realizing that it's stopping at your house. I must say, I'm not overly impressed with the One Skein book, but I am enjoying their Secret Pal exchange immensely. My West Coast SP has been suitably spoiling me with fancy yarn. This month she sent me a gorgeous hank of Suss cotton in hot hot hot pink. I haven't decided what it'll become yet, but I'm thinking it will inevitably be worn by Miss Ruby. My lovely SP also sent a cute bunny bath mitt and a super cool little card. Thanks SP!

Speaking of being spoiled, take a look at Reason #437 that my husband is one of the most lovable creatures on earth. There's a great cupcake bakery called Crave near his work and for the second time since we've lived in Calgary he came home with a selection of delicious cupcakes. Last night I tried one of the pink vanilla cakes, tonight I'm going for chocolate. The plate, by the way, is from a set that Aaron's mum, Leena, lent us while we were waiting for our stuff to arrive from Toronto. The set used to be her mother's "good set" of china, later to become her "everyday" set, then Leena's moving out set, Aaron's moving out set, and finally they were relegated to Leena's basement. They're turquoise, in pretty great shape and have a "Poole" of England stamp on the bottom. I suggested to Leena that I not return them once my own Ikea dishes showed up and she did not protest.

Oh, and I've finished my purple socks. Photos to come a.s.a.p.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Self Portrait Challenge -- Self-Portrait As My Mother

Okay, so it's a bit of a cop-out to use Ruby for SPC, but I really don't have the creative energy to play dress-up this month. So here is a portrait of Ruby dressed up as me. Get it? The little princess has become obsessed with prancing around in my shoes. I have to hide all shoes from her (hers, mine and Aaron's) otherwise she cries and whines until I put them on her feet. I'm constantly afraid that she'll do a head-dive into a sharp corner as she stomps around in my mary-janes, but I can't deny her the pleasure of dress-up. Note that she's also got one of my old purses, which she long ago claimed as her own. She likes to carry around an old set of keys.

And, here's a gratuitous shot of the growing girl's face, along with Mommy. I can't believe how fast her little brain is growing or how true all of those clichees about how quick they change are. Sigh.

p.s. Both photos are blurry because this kid never (NEVER!) sits still. Never.

Monday, July 24, 2006

They Call Me Excalibur

By popular request, I give you the sword in the stone. Most of our friends thought we were joking until they saw it for real at our inaugural housewarming barbeque last night. It's actually more of a sword (and the kind they use for fencing -- I don't know the actual term) in a block of petrified wood, but still. Whoever manages to pull it out becomes the next premier of Alberta (pardon the bad Calgary joke).

So, summer seems to be a sloooow time in the craft blog world and I'm turning out to be no exception. I've wussed out on the Self-Portrait Challenge this month (I was so excited about the theme, but with my current energy level it turned out to be too, er, challenging) and have little time to post about my other foibles (and honestly, other than the stress of moving, I have few foibles to report). Strangely, I have been doing okay on the knitting front and should finish my July socks with time to spare.

Our stuff has finally arrived from Toronto and I'm meeting some other people in the neighbourhood. The people who live next door to us are great and have a gorgeous little son who's about a year younger than Ruby. Other than that, most of the people in our neighbourhood seem to be in their 90s, save for the negligent mothers we met at the park the other day who let their toddlers play in a school-age playground unattended. While the moms were chatting at the other end of the school-yard, Ruby got pretty severely beat up by a three year old, whom I had to pull off of her. His mother didn't even notice and was too far away to hear me scolding her brutish son. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling very welcomed to the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Look Into My Crystal Ball

One of the things that was hardest to leave in Toronto was our grape-vine covered back yard. Shockingly, the yard we managed to score here in Calgary is even more lovely to behold. First up, it's huge (Calgary's giant plots of land are largely responsible for the housing crisis going on here), but the former owners of the house really tried to make it special. There are little patches of flowers and shrubbery everywhere, a swing, a bench with vines growing over it, a little archway and a really charming shed at the back (which I'm sure Ruby will soon claim as her play house). In addition to the old piano and vintage organ (which are so awesome they're worth a post of their own) that the former owners left, we inherited a menagerie of lawn ornaments. While I was saddened/relieved to see that they'd taken the plywood cowboy silhouettes and life-size stone deer from the front yard, they left tons of stuff in the back: woodland creatures, tiny cherubs, birdhouses, a bubbling fountain, butterflies over the garage, a dinner bell, a sword in a stone (really), a stork, some painted pots, a rain barrel... and more I'm sure. So far the only thing we've gotten rid of was a Calgary Flames flag (we support our hometown team, but we don't need to advertise it), but we may also need to turf this giant purple crystal ball.

I kind of like the kitsch factor of the ball, but it does sit in a tiny mosquito bordello (i.e. gross standing water) and it's the first thing you see when you look out any window in the house. I do however have a soft spot for fortune telling gear: as legend tells it, my great-grandmother Kathleen Chorney worked out of the lobby of a prairie hotel under the name Madame Chorney. If my father tells it correctly (keep in mind, he is a well-known b.s.-er), her specialty was tea leaf reading. One day she read her own leaves and was shocked to learn that her husband, John Chorney, was close to death. Rather than warn him, she allegedly ran out and took out a huge life insurance policy. Time marched on and everything was fine until John found the policy tucked under their mattress and promptly shipped Kathleen off to live with their son (my grandfather) and his family. I recently found a picture of Kathleen arriving at my dad's childhood home -- she was a formidable woman, and from what I could tell, was wearing a raccoon coat.

That's all for now. There are more tales from the new neighbourhood to tell, but I'll get to them another day.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Movin' On Up

I'm still alive and still bloggin'. Well, I will be bloggin' now that my internet is up. We moved into our new house, though we're essentially camping, since our stuff doesn't arrive from Toronto for at least another week and a half. It's been strange and depressing sitting in a near silent house in a neighbourhood I don't really know with little to do and too many mosquitoes outside to take Ruby out.

So, back to regular blogging (and self-portrait challenge) soon. I did manage to put up my SPC picks this week -- check 'em out here.

Friday, July 07, 2006

WIP Friday

I have some WIPs! That aren't Pomatomus!

First up, there's the scarf I'm knitting for my One Skein secret pal. Since I'm not really all that in love with the One Skein book, I chose the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. What a quickie knit! I'm feeling kind of guilty about how fast and how little yarn this one is using, so I think I'll whip up a second one in a different mohair for my pal. A girl can always use a couple of airy scarves.

Then, I also cast on for my July socks. I'm doing the Madder Rib socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. The Lorna's Laces is beautiful to knit with and there's not a ktb in sight! Yahoo!

And finally, in terms of a personal WIP, today marks my fifth wedding anniversary. Five years since Aaron and I said "I do" in the middle of a beautiful mountain valley. In those five years we've been to Toronto and back, owned two houses (well, as of noon today) and created the craziest little lady we know. Sometimes I think I'm still in the rock club that I first spied Aaron in about seven years ago (well, not counting the show I saw him play when I was about 17) and I've just blinked my eyes and imagined our entire life together. Sometimes I think that Toronto was just a dream and that I'm still 26 years old. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pomatomus: A Tale Of Woman Vs. Sock

Finally, a post about knitting. They're done. The Pomatomus socks are done. I did actually finish on June 30 -- thus making my Project Spectrum June deadline, but with the long weekend, I haven't had time to post until now. But yes, they're done.

I did not enjoy making these socks. I believe I knit on them every day of last month, and if my commitment to finishing a pair of socks for each Project Spectrum month hadn't been keeping me motivated I doubt I would have finished the first sock let alone started the second. I didn't like my yarn, didn't like the pattern and didn't even like the finished project. Still, I'm proud I finished, so here are the specs:

Pomatomus Socks from last winter's Knitty
Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote in Bluegrass
Needle: U.S. 1.5 bamboo DPNs
Mods: omitted one decrease at toe

First off, my distaste for this project has nothing to do with the designer or the yarn company -- both the pattern and the yarn are perfectly fine, they just weren't for me. The thing that held me up the most about the pattern were the number of KTBs -- the last two pairs of socks I did had a lot of twists in them and I think I was just fed up with them. When it came time to do straight stockinette on the feet, my finger memory had forgotten how to do plain knits. So that held me up and also led to a lot of tension in my hands and shoulders. I broke two needles doing KTBtogs and warped the hell out of my needles. Not a pleasant way to knit. I didn't mind the complication of the chart, though I did zone out while watching Canada's Next Top Model one night and made a really big error (I think I k2tog when I should have yo'ed). Because I was so pissed off at the socks, I didn't properly correct it, but you can barely tell with the finished socks.

I also wasn't crazy about the way the toes and heels were constructed (too many ptbs -- which are even worse than the ktbs). If I was a more experienced sock knitter I would have gone with a different heel.

As for the yarn, I'm still loyal to all of Brown Sheep's products, but I was a little disappointed with this yarn. I generally love hand painted sock yarn, but this was a little too saturated with colour, so it really stuck to my bamboo needles (note to self: must invest in aluminum sock needles). Also, while one skein had nice bits of red that appeared periodically in the colourway, the second only had bits of a dark wine colour -- even though they were from the same dye lot. The yarn also split a lot and was unraveled in sections.

So, yes, I have been knitting and yes, this is all I have to show for it after 30 days. Still, I think they're cute socks and will probably wear them a lot over the winter. I've already started a couple new projects, which I'll post about later in the week. Until then, I've got a soccer game to watch. Go Italy!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

My home and native land

Happy Canada Day to those of you who care about such things. For those who don't, July 1 is essentially our July 4, a day to feel patriotic, do a little flag waving, a little beer drinking and a little barbeque eating.

Being back in the fold of our family, the only thing our wee family could do today was to head out to Drumheller, which is where my mother's people hail from and where my Aunt Janie and Uncle Jerry host an annual BBQ. We watched the town Canada Day parade, which featured tractors, horses, a pipe band, an Elvis impersonator and vehicles representing local businesses, from which handfuls of candy were lobbed at the kids in the crowd. Gotta love small town parades. Did I mention there was an Elvis impersonator?