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Archive for June, 2007

MYOB

I was out in my front yard the other night digging in my flower bed when I had a visit.  My next-door-neighbors were having a party in the back yard, and one of their guests came out on the driveway for a cigarette.  We chatted about this and that, kids, work, gardening and so on, and he went back to the party.  On his next trip out front, he looked at our driveway and asked “How many people live in your house?”  I answered “Three”.  He said “Three?  and you have three cars?”  I said “Yes.  One for me, one for my husband and one for my son.”  He replied “Well, that’s not very green.  Do you ever take the bus?”  I said no, the bus doesn’t go to where I need to go.  He replied that every third Thursday he takes the bus to work (at City Hall, so of course the busses run there.) and that was his commitment to the environment.  Now, I don’t drive a big vehicle, and I only fill it with gas every two or three weeks.  We do not drive a big SUV (which was the vehicle he was leaning on while he proceeded to lecture me about the environment) and we don’t have any internal combustion toys (you know, motor boat, jet skis, ATV’s).  Even the lawnmower is electric.  I turn off lights when I am not in the room, I recycle paper and metal, we haven’t used paper dinner napkins for years (preferring to wipe our hand on the table cloth.  No no no.  I mean, we use cloth napkins.  Always have, probably always will.) and only have half as much trash to put out as many of our neighbors.  I don’t pollute with cigarette smoke (rather ironic, given the habit of the guy lecturing me), and for the most part, I think we leave a fairly small footprint on the planet.  Sure we could do more, and likely will as time goes on.  I wasn’t actually offended at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more offended I was.  I mean, how does he know what our habits are?  And are they any of his business?  Any decisions I make about being “green” (and I still think that is better applied to Kermit the Frog) will not be made because of some North American celebrity acting like he invented the movement.  (Carbon credits?  What a crock.  I mean, really.  Just get a smaller car and drive it less.)  I do things the way I do because a) I was raised that way, and b) I have made a decision somewhere along the line that makes sense to me.  So, a quick message to the guy with the cigarette:  Butt out.  Butt out your disgusting cigarette, and butt out of my business.  I have nothing to explain to you and nothing to aplogize for.  I will not make suggestions about how if you were truly committed you would take the bus every day, and walk your kids to their activities and light your house with candles.  

I may not have been offended at the time (and I was even pleasant and polite) but apparently I am willing to let it fester and then hold a grudge.  I should have said…

Thanks for listening.  I feel much better now.

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I always think that I have lots to say, so it surprises me when I realize how infrequently I am actually posting on my blog.  The last week has been spent knitting on thinner needles than I have ever used and totally understanding when other people comment on how frustrating it is when the needle part and the cable part of a circular needle are not joined smoothly.  In my case, having to convince over two hundred stitches that they each want to move from the cable to the needle was a humbling experience.  I wrestled with them, I begged and pleaded, I got angry, I tried the “soft touch” (which was kind of hard when I was trying to keep my tension quite tight to take in unwanted extra slack), and eventually got the job done:

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It is finished.  Note to self (or anyone else who would like to learn from my hubris):  In this pattern, using cotton is not a great idea.  Cotton weighs more than wool of the same gauge, and so the lower ruffle pulls down on the centre panel, exposing it a bit. 

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It looks okay, but I would rather the upper ruffle just came over the lower ruffle a bit (like in the book).  It was a fun project (except for the neck, back, arm, shoulder, hip, leg and head pain caused by marathon knitting sessions because of my self-imposed deadline) and I might do it again someday if the right wool presented itself. 

Having finished the fichu, I can now concentrate on losing five pounds in three weeks so I fit into the dress that goes under the fichu.  This weight-loss project got off to a roaring start last night by going to Mary’s birthday party, where we had martinis, and fabulous desserts from Calories, one of our local dessert temples.  Mary manages to fit knitting in (and we love to see her on Wednesday mornings at Prairie Lily) with her other interests, not the least of which is gardening.  Her yard is beautiful; she has an English country garden thing going on, and it was a warm, mosquito-free evening.  (And here Mike and I had just been sitting on our deck admiring the two spindly cranberry bushes we had just put in.  I am such an underachiever.)  So, three desserts later, (that resounding crash you may have heard was me falling off my diet.) I am ready to start again.  For sure, this time.  Oh, except that tomorrow is our anniversary and we’re going out for dinner, and Friday is a big graduation barbeque, and then I’m going to Calgary (does anyone have any hot tips on yarn shops in Calgary?) to meet Geoff’s plane and hopefully visit with Teresa and Rigas (who like to cook and from whom I hope to scrounge at least one Greek meal), and, oh what the heck.  I’ll just have to slide into my “foundation garment”.   A smart woman might have bought the dress one size larger, but, well, there you go.  I guess I could take a backup muumuu.

You may have noticed the graduation reference there.  Andrew, my baby, has finished writing his grade twelve exams.  After much studying

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and more applying himself

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he thinks he requited himself nicely, and should never have to take chemistry again.  We are also thinking that it’s not likely that we’ll hear any trombone noises from his room again.  Oh, well.  The upshot of this is that I find myself thinking I have to redefine myself again, this time as the mother of grown children.  This should free up a whole lot of mental energy, previously harnessed for nagging.  (“What do you have for homework?  Did you do it?  When are you planning to start that term paper that’s due tomorrow?”  and so on.)  In honour of my self-redefinition, I am going for a pedicure.  I may also get my hair cut.

Congratulations to Ellen, who correctly identified the Fiddler on the Roof  reference in my last post.  She won, not a million dollars, but my respect and willingness to partner with her should we ever find ourselves playing Trivial Pursuit.

One other note:  If any of you have ever thought of checking out Franklin’s Panopticon, (as noted in my sidebar), his post from June 21st is a great one to start on.  He tickles my funny bone, and has a real gift with words.  Check it out!

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Ten points for anyone who caught the “Fiddler on the Roof” reference in today’s title. 

Like I said, blogging about lace knitting is a trifle boring.  I finished the main part of the fichu last night, and am blocking it as per instructions. 

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 I have a sinking feeling in my gut.  If you squint really hard, you can see the blocking pins (and my toe, lower centre of the picture, as I perched on the edge of the bed, but that’s not important).  The pins are in every third picot.  There are roughly 340 picots.  (I did not count, I may be out by a few. )  I normally don’t mind blocking lace, as it opens the pattern and turns a lump of fibre into (hopefully) a thing of beauty.  This time, however, I am trying to tease the thing into something smaller than it wants to be.  Sigh… 

 I am always in such a hurry to get going on a project that I sometimes make poor decisions with regards to fibre.  The pattern says wool, I translate that as “anything that’s long and stringlike”, and as long as the gauge on the ball band agrees, I am ready to race headlong towards Disasterville away to the races.  The pattern says wool, I get cotton.  Not the shrinkable kind out of which they make every pair of blue jeans I have ever owned, but the nice mercerized kind that has a lovely sheen, especially visible as it stretches.  It laughs in the face of accurate tension swatches.  It grows, like some kind of (I was going to say knitted erection, but this is family hour) magic cloth that starts out as a handkerchief and soon becomes a large awning.  I am forever optimistic, so I washed it, and currently have it pinned out on the bed in the guest room.  To knit the little collar and tie, I will be using the required 2.25 mm needles, and the pattern does call for some decreasing in the form of K2TOG’s  at regular intervals across the top, so I can monkey around with it and do the decreases more often if I need to.  I think the cotton will drape okay (I just don’t want it to drape down to my knees.), so my fingers are crossed. 

So, this weekend in between knitting and fretting, we had a birthday in our house.  Yes, we made it through Father’s Day (for which Mike bought himself a new camera; it’s a Nikon slr something or other) (I continue just to point and click. ) (And I told him that I will not be carrying his camera on holidays, as it is rather large.) and got up the next morning to greet Mike’s Birthday.  He’s not quite at the half century (we both do that next year, same year as our 25th anninversary.  No gifts, please.  I will be reminding you later on, closer to the actual dates.) but he’s older than me for the next 5 months.  I am revelling in it.

What to get the man who just bought himself a big honking camera?  This:

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Sure, it may look like just a turntable, but there is one very important feature.  It has a USB cable, and now we can turn all our old vinyl into mp3 files and pop them onto our Ipods.  It is a slow laborious process, but it’s like visiting old friends.  Granted, we can record them at 45 rpm and have the computer reset them to 33.3 rpm, but if I’m going to listen to them while they’re recording, I want the original artist (Just like a K-Tel record.  Raise your hand if you remember K-Tel records.  Started by a boy from Saskatchewan, you know.) not Alvin and the Chipmunks.  I understand that with the accompanying software, I can do sound editing (noise removal, sound normalization, all sorts of technical things that a sound engineer might know about) but I just want the darned music in my earphones.  It was good enough scratchy in the 70’s, it’s good enough now.  ****For your information, I do not own any 78’s.****

Oh, and we finished the shed. 

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Just in time for a really big rain, and it didn’t leak.  Neither did we divorce during construction.  Hooray!

I guess that while I am waiting for the fichu to dry I’m going to pull out the Magallanes sweater and see if I remember what I’m doing.  After all, it’s been two weeks.

Oh, and I interrupt this blathering to send you a very important link.  Ruth just had her first big appearance at the Farmer’s Market in Whistler, and the pictures on her blog of her booth will make you drool.  I want to go shopping.  Check it out!

Oh, and for Christie.  (Christie, are you there?)

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Surprise Gifts

This is why lace knitting is boring to blog about:

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I have done 5 pattern repeats on the edging; only 5 more to go.  Some of you think I am tempting fate and bad things by having an ETC (estimated time of completion) for this fichu, but you really don’t know if the deadline I talk about is actually the deadline I am aiming for.  (Heck, I don’t even know if the deadline I talk about is the one I am actually aiming for!)  I thank you for your concern nonetheless.  I am becoming adept at fixing prior mistakes thinking creatively when necessary (who knew you needed to do that while following a fairly straightforward pattern?) and hope that there won’t be too many surprises in the rest of the project.  I have read it over and over, but we all know that’s no guarantee… I do have some concern that the cotton may sag a bit, but the top edging and ties are knit on 2.75’s so that should pull it in a bit. 

I had a very interesting conversation yesterday with my underground sprinkler guy.  Quentin had been to a funeral on Tuesday for his 58-year-old aunt who died of cancer, after having survived an abusive first husband, losing a second husband to drowning, and finally being outlived by her third husband.  While going through her mother’s things, Quentin’s cousin discovered books and books of poetry that her mother had written through the entire course of her life.   No-one knew she was writing, so these poems were a real surprise to everyone.  They read a couple at the funeral, and had people laughing and crying in the space of just a few minutes.  It made me stop and think that even though someone has passed away, there is still something to be learned about him or her.  Can we ever say that we know someone inside and out?  Do we ever know anyone completely so that there is nothing left to learn?  I don’t think so.  Quentin’s aunt was an ordinary person with an extraordinary gift that she gave, first to herself and then to everyone else after she was gone.  I hope I can leave something new for my family and friends to find when I go (not for a long time).  I have no deep dark secrets, but then again, I don’t speak every thought that pops into my mind.  (I don’t even blog about every random thought that pops into my mind, believe it or not.)

I’d ask you what you would like your family to find out about you, but then it wouldn’t be a surprise for them.  Or maybe, if you think about it now, it might be a gift you’d rather give them now than waiting.

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Other than my inability and unwillingness to count stitches (1056- would you?) the fichu is clipping right along.  I am using 2 circulars (and a great tutorial) and so far it’s going pretty well.  I have only found 1 mistake in the inital pattern-setting round (ordinarily I would frog or tink, but  this was fixable (and hardly visible) with an extra k2tog.  And I am not going to go back 2112 stitches to make it perfect.  Call me sloppy.  (The fact that I was watching the movie Twister (which I have seen numerous times but still really enjoy) while I was doing the first pattern row had nothing to do with the mistake.  Nothing.) 

I am finding it a lot easier to watch the pattern having it spread out somewhat.  The grey thread is from the waste yarn cast-on.  I will not take it out until I block the piece.  Or maybe not even then.  It’s like a security blanket.  I did measure for gauge, but it seems to have stretched out a little.  It’s cotton, so not a lot of springiness.  I am not concerned about the stretch; I think it will look fine.  It it’s too big,  I’ll wear it around my hips.  (wouldn’t that be an attractive look!)

The funny part of it is this centre panel is not even visible once the fichu is completed; it’s covered by the upper ruffle.  Common sense dictates (I don’t do dictation) that all of the mistakes I make should be on the centre panel.   I refuse to submit.  

I did spend too much time knitting this weekend, and now my right leg is aching and my foot is numb.  I am a little concerned because these are the same symptoms I had that necessitated back surgery six years ago.  I think I’ll try a different chair, and a curse on anyone who suggests that exercise might fix the problem.

The Kwik Kerb guys were here on Saturday, and I’m very pleased with the results.  Now it looks like we have a landscaped backyard

instead of random bushes growing along the fence.  If you look closely you can see some lovely rope light palm trees on the neighbors’ deck across the back fence.  Thankfully the novelty seems to have worn off and they don’t leave them lit all night very often any more.  The lilacs are ready to bloom, the apples are showing, and once we build our new shed (it supposedly snaps together; I call it the Lego shed) we can put stuff away and I can do some knitting on the deck and enjoy the back yard without feeling like I should be doing yard work instead of creating a knitted work of art.  (oohh, snooty.)

It does look like I’ll have the fichu done in lots of time for the anniversary.  I expect that I’ll even have the Magallanes done.  Geoff called from Galveston yesterday (they were going for tacos for breakfast.  To be young and immune to indigestion…) and we figured that he’ll be back in Canada 4 weeks from yesterday.  Since his arrival is my deadline, I’ve got lots of time.  (Now I’ve probably angered the knitting gods.)

DH was pestering me yesterday about picking up my guitar and playing with him again.  His reasoning is that then we could play together when we retire.  (He used the same line when he tried to entice me to take golf lessons and go sailing with him) (not at the same time).  My answer to the guitar was the same as it was to golf and sailing.  I will take up golf/guitar/sailing when he learns to knit.  Then we can do that together too when we retire.  Sadly, he will not be converted, so I don’t have to golf or play guitar.  It’s all part of the cosmic balancing act.

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Fickle

I am weak.

 I promise, Magallanes jacket, that I will return to you,

 

but I really, really need to start this fichu. 

fichu.jpg 

The yarn came in a week before I expected it, so that must be a sign that I’m going to need the extra week to finish it before the Big Anniversary in July.  (Especially since I farted around for two hours this morning trying to do one lace cast-on (which I’m sure I’ve done before) and then trying to do a crochet cast-on (whch I’m sure I’ve done before) before I finally just bit the bullet and did the waste yarn cast-on, which I was trying to avoid because I didn’t want to knit 4 extra rows of waste yarn, what with there being 245 stitches per row.)  And then, several rows into the pattern, I discovered a mistake (big mistake) (purled a row instead of knit a row) two rows back and had to frog 488 stitches.  Yes, I am definitely going to need the extra week.  (It’s like Marjorie is a bad example or something, what with all the fussing over her rather breath-taking jacket.  Rip back, redo, rip back, redo.  I think I may be catching a bit of what she’s got.  And I thought I’d had all my shots…)

This is the result of roughly eight hours of knitting and frogging and tinking.  I am getting more patient as I age.  Good thing. 

I am at a stage in the “Mag” (time to abbreviate) where I think I can safely leave it without going braindead and forgetting everything I’ve done on sleeve #1.  I took copious notes; hopefully enough that I will be able to duplicate it when I come back to sleeve #2.  It is going to be too warm to wear it until the fall anyways.

Yesterday morning at Prairie Lily we had a fun departure from the usual drudgery of knitting and drinking coffee and visiting and eating treats.   Lynne took a class in needle felting this winter out on the island, and patiently shared the craft with us.  There were very few injuries (Christine and Mary), some very artistic results (Christine and Mary), some not so much,

 

 and me without my camera!  We did have a lot of fun, but I won’t be doing a lot of it.  (I refer you to my three samples above.  These were my good ones.  The other I euthanized.)  I really have to start taking my camera with me, even though I suspect that my Wednesday morning friends may prove to be camera shy.   They always say “Oh, put this in your blog!”, but they don’t want actually to appear on the blog.  I may have to use a hidden camera.

On a cultural note, I went to the high school showcase tuesday night and Wednesday night.  Tuesday I listened to Andy play his guitar in the jazz band and jazz combo, and last night he actually played trombone in the concert band.  I did not hear him practice his trombone even once this year, so the music selections were quite a surprise.  I do not expect that he will ever pick up the trombone again, it’s a good thing I went.  As long as there’s music!  We’ve got 6 days of classes left in high school (and that’s truly “we”; this year more than any other has been a group effort.) and then it’s on to whatever life presents Andy.  I am having trouble believing that my baby is nearly done school, since I haven’t aged a day.   If I make many more frog-and-tink-worthy errors on the fichu, however, I may go gray even faster than my hairdresser can deal with.  Oh yeah, he has resurfaced at another salon.  Big sigh of relief…

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Can’t post. Knitting.

Self-imposed deadlines are the best.  You can ignore all around you to knit, yet there is no boss or editor at the end of the deadline to question your dedication.  I finished the fronts of the Magallanes, after reworking the neckline this morning so the collar wouldn’t cover my ears.  (I am sure I was following Ann Budd’s directions, but maybe not.)  I did what I often do in that situation; I took a sweater that fits correctly, and copied the dimensions and shaping.  Voila!

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Now, the big question is:  Can I do two sleeves by tomorrow morning?  Not a chance in hell.

Onwards and upwards! 

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