Saturday, September 30, 2006

Waaaaaah! MezzoDiva wants a digital camera!

Okay. I just needed to get that out of my system. Really.

I’m somewhat cranky about not having a digital camera and hence being unable to post my own pix on my blog. I've become a bit infantile about delaying this particular gratification (in case you couldn't tell) so the DH and I talked about it and decided that we are going to fudge the budget and just get one in the next couple of weeks. It won't be our dream camera - I'm not going to sell an organ or anything. We just want something reasonable and functional. The always brilliant Haley had a great idea about using airmiles or some of the other points that just accumulate around my magnetized plastics and never get used. (Thanks H!)

I’m asking for some info/input from my fellow knitters and bloggers. If you have a digital camera (or if you have your eye on one for future acquisition) please reply in comments to the following questions: What make and/or model of digicam do you use? What do you like about it and why? What do you dislike about it? Is there anything else you think might be useful to know about it? If we get enough data, maybe I'll collate and post our own little consumer report (from the knitblogging demographic p.o.v.) and likeminded folks will get some help choosing one too. Thanks a megapixel!

In knitting news: several sympathetic readers have inquired about the condition of my coffee-soaked sock and its travel companions. I rinsed out the poor sticky drenched thing right on the needles, laid it out and gently pressed it between two hand towels, blocked it a bit... and the prognosis looks good. (Umm, just so you know, I do not recommend recommencing knitting until it dries.)

It took a while to rescue the rest of my knitting bag contents, especially the sweater project and the assorted inspirational yarns (I won't subject you to all the horrific details). Fortunately, nearly all the victims of this tragic incident are recovering nicely, though some of the printed patterns still look vaguely ill, a sickly sort of mottled beige that I fear will never go away. The lingering symptom is purely cosmetic, however, and if necessary we will deal with any image and self-esteem issues that may arise.

I just picked up Cookie's gorgeous Katrina Rib pattern (so named because all of the proceeds go to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina aid) and I'm really looking forward to knitting it up! Now I just need to go spelunking in my stash to find something scrumptious to make it with. (Maybe I'll make her part of a funky twinset with Wendy's Something Red...)

And Lolly's fabulous Socktoberfest 2006 starts tomorrow!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Half a sock with built-in aromatherapy.

I was standing at the bus-stop knitting a new sock (plain and satisfying toe-up short-row; Fortissima Socka in a pretty colour-flecked marled blue). Waiting... knitting and waiting... knitting and waiting,... and knitting... There is nothing so good for the public transit experience as a nice happy sock-in-progress to make the trip pass pleasantly. I'm in my happy place.

Every couple of minutes the door of the adjacent Prohibitively-Exorbitant-Fancy-Coffee-Chain franchise would open, and the most amazing warm and spicy enticing aroma waft over me at the bus-stop, as I'm waiting... and waiting... until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and being cold and damp (and completely devoid of willpower), I made the excruciating decision to risk missing the bus which would surely arrive while I’m inside the Coffee-Shop-of-Unconscionably-Expensive-Joe and ducked in to order my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season.

In my own economically minded way, I chose the largest size cup, as it’s only half a dollar or so more than the medium, which is only half a dollar or so more than the small, and so I feel I’m getting a bargain here. In my own special little world, the small cup will make me feel ripped off: That’s way too much money to pay for a [totally unnecessary decadent treat that only remotely resembles] coffee. The largest size has the attraction of all economy value-packs: buy more, get a deal! [Sure, you can drink the Big Gulp coffee. Just make sure you know the location of all the bathrooms on your route.]

I smugly exited the Egregiously-Priced-Purveyor-of-Syrup-laced-Caffeinated- Confections a paltry $5.85 (Canadian) poorer than when I entered, and feeling oh so virtuous for denying myself the sugar-and-fat-laden baked goodies lined up behind the glass (“no, thanks, just the *coffee*”) to find the bus considerately pulling up to the corner for me to board.

I flashed my bus transfer, smiling apologetically as I climbed in for not bringing the driver a coffee too (next time I’ll get her order in advance), and planted myself comfortably in a seat, *coffee* warmly embraced in my left hand and my purse and knitting bag in the seat on my right. As the bus was two-thirds empty I felt no moral compunction about my bags taking up a seat of their own and this way I could safely enjoy my beverage and then pull out my knitting without fear of elbows or needles causing bodily harm to my fellow passengers.

(You can see where this is going, can’t you?)

Several stops later, the bus pulled into a station platform and most of the passengers exited at the subway juncture to continue their journeys underground. Then, a small horde swarmed into the bus, and a game of musical chairs ensued as the new passengers jockeyed for position to the accompanying strains of the engine roar, and we pulled out of the station to continue on westward.

So far so good. I was still comfortably ensconced, beverage in one hand, baggage and knitting on the other side. Until I found myself in the indignant glare of a woman parked in front of my seat, communicating clearly in the universal unspoken language of bus commuters: “ahem – do your bags need a seat, too?” [Never mind that the bus was still one third empty and there were several vacant seats at the other end of the bus. This woman made it very clear with her pointedly raised eyebrow that she needed to assert her right to sit in the seat beside me, the one then currently occupied by my purse and my knitting bag.]

(This is where the music starts to play real creepy like.)

Being a generally agreeable sort who plays well with others, I foolishly proceeded to make room for the nice lady, so I reached over to move my bags to the floor and my lap, the lid promptly popped off my ridiculously priced coffee-flavoured concoction, the sticky liquid sloshed out and (yes, you guessed it) right into my knitting bag, dousing my sock-in-progress, a couple of other projects, various balled yarns in tow in case of attention deficit, as well as several printed patterns I had brought for eye-candy and project-planning. Whereupon, for no reason I can ascertain, the kind lady decided she no longer wanted to sit beside me, took the now vacant seat across the aisle, and avoided my eyes for the remainder of the journey.

"No good deed goes unpunished," quoth my DH sagely.

Monday, September 25, 2006

You spin me right round, baby...

One of my all-time favourite jokes involves the fellow who prays for years and years to win the lottery until decades later the exasperated voice of G-d* exclaims: “SO BUY A TICKET!” I think the message is obvious, but let me state it anyway: G-d* helps those who help themselves. We need to participate too. *(please feel free to interpolate your universal source or higher power of choice, but this joke needs a little anthropomorphic help)

While tripping the blogverse fantastic this morning, I came across a brilliant example of enlightened self-interest in action: Julie had this idea to raising money for a spinning wheel. For each $10 you donate to Julie’s Wheel Fund she will send you 50g of customized handspun, beautiful yarn created for you on her drop spindle until the wheel becomes hers.

Julie caught the spinning bug a few months ago and realized there's an empty space in her heart and her home where her spinning wheel should be. Since she, like most of us, has a few other three- and four-figure priorities, the cost of a spinning wheel is impractical. But the heart wants what it wants. So Julie asked the knitblogging community for help in manifesting her desire. And because knitbloggers are a friendly, generous bunch she is close to her goal and will hopefully be ordering the wheel by the end of this week! As a member of this friendly, generous bunch, Julie is including tithing in her fundraising and her worthy cause even has a strong thematic relation to her own objective: at least 10% of all the proceeds will be donated to Charkas for Africa.

I'm grateful I haven't yet caught the (potentially expensive) spinning bug - so far knitting is my drug-of-choice, with a serving of (mostly knit-oriented) blogging on the side, and I'm branching out into hand-dyes and some felting in the next few months.  I spend a little bit occasionally on yarn or needles, and some on clothing, cosmetics and shoes (much less now that I have a fiber habit to support).

There are a few longed for items on my own wishlist, some gadgets and toys that would enhance the knitting and blogging experience. But I really can't justify embezzling from the grocery money for them (that's ear-marked for the plumbing repairs anyway). And I also contribute to worthy causes: in my own limited financial way I donate annually to a handful of charities, and I offer my time and talents free of charge to fundraising efforts on behalf of several nonprofit organizations. Those toys won't make me feel happier than paying forward some of the blessings and goodness the universe has sent me.

I must admit my admiration for Julie and her creative approach to fulfilling her dream of wheel-spinning. And I look forward to seeing what she spins for me! From what I've seen on her blog, our tastes run to similar vibrant jewel tones, so I've asked her to surprise me with something soft in a fingering or lace weight. And I've opted to wait until she gets her wheel so she can use it to spin my yarn. It seems somehow appropriate.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Knitters Rejoice - Sweater weather is here!  

Welcome the first official calendar day of fall. 
Socktoberfest 2006 is coming!

Lolly at LollyKnitting Around, the colourful ringleader of Project Spectrum is sponsoring this month-long communal spree of socks and sock-crafting. It's not a knit along, competition, race, swap or sale. Socktoberfest is a freeform celebration of sock knitting in whatever way turns your heel. Sign up here to join.

As a born-again-knitter, recent sockaholic, and even more recent blogger, this is my first ever knit-blogging community project.

Hopefully Socktoberfest will motivate me to obtain my digital camera even sooner and then I can add some colourful visual interest of my own to the vanilla verbal chronicle to which you've been thus far subjected. 

Friday, September 22, 2006

I've lost that lovin' feelin'.

The thrill is gone, baby. The purple raglan cardi and I have been estranged lo these past three days. The guilt of the first couple of days has made way for indifference. I don't know how long she will languish in neglect, but I suspect at least several more days of cold shoulders (pardon the pun) before we make up. Neither one of us has done anything wrong, we've just been seeing too much of each other for a while.

Meanwhile I am spending much time stash-diving, ogling and somewhat cataloguing my amazing hoard of string from the boxes and bags stacked precariously at the top of my stairs. (Mmmm... so pretty...heh heh drool) About once a month or so there's an attempted mass escape and we have an avalanche as assorted balls, skeins and clumps of fibremake a break for the exit. I really need to consider an alternate storage location for the stash.

I'm also working on several sock singles and fantasizing about various shawls, wraps, shells, pullovers, scarves, fingerless gloves, and even hats. Hats! I AM NOT now nor have I ever been A HAT PERSON. At least not in this incarnation. Perhaps I wore bowlers to bed in another life, but this time around no hats for me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Ansley at BleuArts has a pattern for all the Star Wars fans, this incredible Princess Leia Wig-Hat

I am (a) more of a Trekkie; (b) simultaneously delighted and appalled; (c) in awe of her skill and creativity; and (d) weirdly inspired to make a knitted ‘wig’ hat like this one - but maybe with highlights?

I. Need. Help.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Now that I have my own blog I can finally play with Blogthings AND post my results for all to see ( see: self-confessed narcissism, in my virgin post). I just love these things! Tee Hee!!

You Are a Chimera

You are very outgoing and well connected to many people. Incredibly devoted to your family and friends, you find purpose in nurturing others. You are rarely alone, and you do best in the company of others. You are incredibly expressive, and people are sometimes overwhelmed by your strong emotions.

Meanwhile, in knitting news:
My Something (not so) Red progresses slowly but satisfyingly. There has been some absence from my appointed task, as I was distracted by a wanton Koigu toe-up sock (you know who you are, KPPPM#P115) but I have since reaffirmed my devotion to the purple cardigan. I've got her arms on some scrap yarn, have joined the body. Just a few more rows of this with continuing increases at the V neckline and I should be ready to start the body ribbing! Then I'll pick up and knit her some sleeves (3/4, I think), do the front border and (short-row) collar trim.

I'm trying not to tempt fate by getting too excited about this, but
I can really see how it's going to shape up and I'm VERY pleased!!! It's getting chilly around here and I want to wrap myself in her grapey goodness.

I can't believe it took me so long to discover the joy of top-down raglan knitting. Especially for a zaftig busty babe, this makes so much sense for shaping, allowing for trying it on and customizing the fit as you go. Yeah baby! I may never knit another bottom-up sweater again.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A number of people I know are going through relationship breakdowns and breakups.  As I contemplate their painful transitions, I can't help but see the flipped reflection in my own life.

I am a very lucky woman.  I met the love of my life very early: I was just approaching my nineteenth birthday (we'll just skip over mention of his age - save that discussion for another day). We recently celebrated 23 years (whew!) of love, laughter, and occasional creative contemplations of murder, and we both feel truly blessed by the depth of the bond we have: We are best friends and lovers.

I have learned what I know to be true in my heart, what I need and what I want, and to stand up for how I deserve to be treated, and even more important, I am learning every day (practice, practice, practice) to convey and request all that without blame or recrimination. I have also learned that a couple can indeed be independent together. I'd love to share a few more things I've learned - you may find them helpful, or not. I cannot claim consistent application or great proficiency in these skills, but I can vouch for their efficacy when applied to relationships.

1. Take the time to come together at night in peace and share your experiences of the day, what's been on your mind, what you're looking forward to tomorrow. If you are fortunate enough to have a few moments together in the mornings, share your dreams of the previous night.

2. Enjoy each other. Remember to laugh together every day, especially at yourselves and especially after a fight. Avoid teasing one other in a contemptuous or sarcastic manner- that kind of verbal sparring disguises judgment and disdain beneath a cloak of humourous banter. No one should need to keep a thicker skin around their life partner. They are your safe place.

3. The cliche about not going to bed angry - it's important. I've blown that one and paid for it miserably at least once a season: it merely leaves us both unrested and sore in both body and heart, and we sheepishly make-up the next day anyway. Better to skip the overnight suffering.

4. When you find yourselves at an apparent impasse, you can both get your needs met if you learn to really listen. Your positions may seem unresolvably opposed, but they're probably not. Remember to ask: do I want to be happy or do I want to be right? Nine times out of ten you'll answer happy. Just look inside yourself to find why the issue at hand is so important to you and share those underlying feelings. Ask your partner to do the same in return with compassion and trust, with no judgment of each other's feelings - they're all valid at the time you feel them. You will discover some very creative ways to compromise if you reaffirm to each other that you're on the same team, and you may both surprise yourselves by reevaluating whether you really want what you thought you do.

Oh, yes: Knitting content. Ahem. I also know from experience that no matter how kinkily tempting they may be, dairy products and sugary substances DO NOT belong in the bedroom. Substitute some of Knitty's homemade candy lingerie instead. Get a bag of red candy laces, and this knitting pattern from Kitty's naughty summer 2004 issue 302 calories (Has anyone actually tried this one? Please comment!)

Feel free to use or ignore any of the advice above - except the caveat regarding dairy - trust me on this one!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's almost 2 am and you'll never guess what I'm doing. Okay, I suppose if you're reading this, then you probably can guess. I'm blogging. WOW. Who knew this could be so addictive?

Still working on the Something Red (er... mine's purple) cardigan. It's growing beautifully. This time. I originally tried to start this top-down raglan cardi four separate times a few weeks ago. I'd get just a few rows done and already I could see that my increases were not symmetrical. You see the pattern calls for strategic placement of stitch markers to show you where to work the raglan increases. Okay that makes sense. But you see, I am just not happy with stitch markers. We do not get along well at all. Really. Trust me. I find them visually distracting. I would so very much prefer if pattern directions described how to do these things using common sense and visual cues. Perhaps in addition to the stitch marker approach, we could have a brief exposition of the structural logic of the garment's construction? I began to wonder if there was an error in the pattern, or I am just missing something here. I even went so far as to email Haley and ask her to toss a few rows of of the pattern onto her needles and tell me if it's just me or what's wrong with this.

I had started the cardi in August in some beautiful new aqua/turquoise cotton (Butterfly super 10). But I found myself ripping it back over and over and over again, and eventually I gave up on that one and switched to some cheaper yarn so as not to destroy the nice unblemished new turquoise stuff. Found some sweet purply mystery fibre in the stash. Since we were heading into fall, it was probably time to put the tropical sea away for a while. I'll get more use out of the purple cardigan this fall and winter anyway. No idea what the fibre content is, but it is very soft and warm and the colour reminds me of Welch's grape juice.

Anyhow, after much gnashing of teeth I decided to go without the f---ing stitch markers, throw caution to the wind and just build the raglan shaping intuitively. The tools were just confusing me so they are gone! (YEAH!) And the cardi is starting to shape up reassuringly. (Whew.)

You know, this makes me think there's probably some kind of psychological functional style issue. Maybe I can learn something about myself here. I am just not a gadgets kind of gal. I have lots of materials: yarn, art supplies, cooking ingredients, music scores, books,... but very few toys. No fancy row counters or tools, but plenty of needles. No fancy kitchen tools, gadgets or machines, just a microwave and standard electric stove and oven, a couple of pans I use almost everyday for everything, some well worn wooden spoons, and a couple of simple knives. Lots of recordings but no ipod or mp3 player, just the CD walkman or my computer's CD drive and speakers. No blackberry or PDA (God forbid). I did break down a few years ago and get a cell phone only because it became impossible to coordinate rehearsals with a group of chamber musicians without being more telephonically accessible while out of the house.

Too much paraphernalia just gets in my way - I'm not wired for that. I also definitely need to understand why something works the way it does. More on that next time. We'll also learn how I was totally in love with the colour fuschia as a child and in the 80's, and therefore now I could knit a freaking fuschia cozy for the CN tower from stash yarn without spending a penny.

Wish I had some pictures for you. Let's all just tell the universe to send me a lovely digital camera, okay? Click your heels together three times and say: "I wish there were pix. I wish there were pix. I wish there were pix."

Oh, good, it's only 3 am. Lots more time for knitting!

Friday, September 15, 2006

I'm here! I'm really here.

Haley (the Knitomatic goddess) declared: "you need a blog". I’ve been contemplating it for a while. God knows I’m narcissistic enough and the verbal diarrhea flows, but I don’t know that I have the time and inclination to generate this crap on a regular basis, at least not enough to be posting new entries at reasonable intervals. So if I have a blog, I will feel obligated about the care and feeding of the blog and/or guilty about neglecting the blog and really, do I need another thing to feel that way about? My life has two speeds: full go and stop. I’m much too busy with gigs and stuff, then I flatline: Nothing. Nada. Zip... Then I'm way too busy again… and so on and so on. Still, my own blog became a more and more intriguing notion (cf. narcissistic) and so here I am. Haley - it's all your fault.

Oh, did I mention that I knit? And I am (as you may have guessed) a sock-a-holic. I knit my very first sock just a few short weeks ago (Wendy J.'s toe-up wrap&turn short-row toes and heels) and as I finished turning the toe I was filled with glee! My inner child did the Snoopy-dance, complete with feet whirling and ears twirling. What is it about this simple mundane object that is so deeply and profoundly satisfying for knitters?

I do have varying knitterly tastes. I am rather partial to lace patterned cotton tops and sleek tunic pullovers. My first (unaborted) cardi is on the needles now: Knit and Tonic Wendy B's "Something Red" (only mine's more of a purple grapey colour). And I am planning a lace shawl in the not too distant future, pattern undecided (the shortlist is down to about 20).

And then there's the beautiful Simple Knitted Bodice(Steph aka Glampyre design, from StitchDiva). Ah, the very lovely SKB. I swoon with desire. It's a perfect style: this baby gives boyish figures curves and gives curvy figures a nice sleek shape. I am far on the Rubenesque side of scale, and this design is exactly the sort of thing for zaftig bodaceous babes like me!

I've been scoping out the KAL and craftster forums on this pattern, looking over other knitters' online shoulders for inspiration and guidance because this pattern is so gorgeous I don't want to mess it up. And apparently it's a bit of a yarn pig (even aside from the exorbitant cost of the recommended Tilli Thomas pure silk yarn). Since I need to be a little fibre-frugal, yarn substitution is the way for me. Bamboo has a lovely drape and sheen so it will mimic the silk at a better price. I'm using SWTC bamboo in "purplexed", a variegated rich purple/wine/magenta colourway. To add some irridescent dazzle to the lace bits, I'm just planning to carry along a strand of SWTC shimmer in "blush." (sorry, I am way too lazy to do all this AND start stringing them beads by hand). So I'm now working up a prelim version in some fuschia stash cotton. Then it's on to the purplicious bamboo. I also have some gorgeous Fleece Artist Kidsilk 2-ply on order in the "cosmic dawn" colourway (charcoal with magenta and turquoise and gold and green). I think it will make a terrific winter version of SKB if I can get the gauge.

I was up (and knitting) until dawn (yes, the one with the sun coming up and the birds and squirrels and all that) a couple of nights ago. For some bizarre reason my body clock is going around the world or something. I’m staying awake later and later into the night every day, and asleep much of the day. And I am having the most amazing vivid andentertaining (weird) dreams! I really should write this stuff down. It's better than most of the stuff in movies or TV-land.

On Wednesday my personal body-clock skidded over the Greenwich mean time line: I woke up mid-afternoon, puttered around for a couple of hours then wandered over to S&B at Knitomatic. I got home around 10:00 pm and we had a late supper, watched some TV (we love the new sitcom "Til Death" with Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher) and eventually crawled into bed at 2:30 am. After lying there wide awake for nearly an hour I gave up and came back downstairs so I wouldn't disturb my DH (aka -the lightest sleeper on Earth). I read and surfed and knit until 7:30 Thursday morning.

It’s almost like jet lag, only I never got to go anywhere fun on the plane! Fortunately, the cycle seems to be shifting further and further into the next day, so eventually I should catch up to local time again. Or (gulp) will I be in some strange science fiction scenario where I’m a day behind/ahead of everyone else?… And the DH is keeping a wary eye on my teeth (I am of Romanian descent). I showed him where I keep the jumbo Size 15 bamboo needles, just in case. He may start sleeping with them under his pillow.

Of course, if my sleep cycle stays f----d up, then blogging will give me something to do in the pre-dawn wee hours of the night.

Well, dinner's been getting cold so I really should go. Before I sign off: apologies for the lack of linkage and pictorial content. I will look into the former and edit this post tomorrow. The latter will sadly await funding for a digital camera.

But: I'm here! I'm finally here.