Monday, December 31, 2007

Wishing everyone a
happy, heathy, prosperous
and fibre-filled New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

On the cusp of transition.

I don’t believe in New Years “Resolutions” as such, but it tends to be a season for reflection and I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, reviewing the past year(s), as well as setting/renewing goals and - probably most important of all - figuring out what I need to make of my day-to-day life in order to achieve those goals.

My agenda for the new year (and the rest of my life) consists largely of reclaiming my home and my body, detoxing and purging the excesses and the toxins from both, so that I can have more optimal conditions from which to actively (not aggressively, but avidly) pursue the musical career I want and deserve. For that I need my home and my body to work for me (not against me), to provide the environment and vitality in which I can focus my efforts on career-building: a return to regular coaching and role preparation (esp. for the big Emily Carr premiere in April), arranging and performing as many cross-Canada auditions as I can find, and getting all the details ready for the big NYC opera competition I want to do next winter (aside from the musical prep, I need to get a new passport, get visas if necessary, etc…). And if I am able to teach from my house (even for just a few hours a week) I can supplement what I get from the synagogue gigs and concerts/shows, and that income would be very welcome as the financial investment in coaching and travel will be big.

So getting my home in order is already underway. It's as if the bathroom emergency was the cork in a bottle and since then DH and I have been slowly but steadily purging stuff that's obsolete or delinquent on its rent and organizing the stuff which earns its keep, and serendipitously finding storage solutions that have eluded us for decades! (Goethe was right)

Still, this is a very big endeavour and daunting on our own. (DH is very helpful but, well, let’s just say it’s not his forte and leave it at that - ignoring for the moment his very own 3-D room of "stuff").

It's not easy. I’ve done it for friends (some of whom make me look like the queen of neat) and it’s one of those things that’s so much easier to do for someone else. When it’s your (my/our) own stuff it can be overwhelming. But my wonderful friends have offered to help and that's terrific. I’m not in need of an “intervention” (please don't call Peter Walsh). I’ve already begun to do it. But help will be most welcome.

Meanwhile, I am working on the stash. The mad recent cataloguing of my personal SABLE on Ravelry will make it much easier to either use the stuff (assigning it a pattern from my queue or finding one from the gazillions there) or divest myself of it(if it no longer makes feel me warm and fuzzy - pardon the pun).

And I am setting new firm rules for acquisition – ie: no new stringy stuff until I finish at least one large-scale project (headbands/hats/scarves/mitts do not count) AND absolutely no new project-sized purchases until I finish several large-scale projects (an extra ball or a few of whatever is needed to complete a project is permissible, but ONLY once that project is well underway and thus it won’t become stash).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weighty issues.

Tish came to SnB on Thursday and the discussion turned to her remarkable experiences with GBPS and recovery. Hearing her talk about it and mirror so much of my own experience with food and weight was exactly what I needed at the exact right time. I am deeply moved by her struggle, both for her sake and for mine.

These issues are right on the front-burner for me too right now and it is tough to deal with them “alone”. I know my friends all support me and I am truly not ashamed of my body or my weight, but I do feel lonely about it: I am alone dealing with my body and what I need to do about it, and though we all have our own body issues and assorted related syndromes, nobody in my circle of friends is in a similar condition. I have acquaintances who are women of larger sizes (some knitters, some in singing circles) but not one of my close friends is actively dealing with this right now.

Don't get me wrong - I don't expect or even want to be what anyone would refer to as a skinny or svelte. I am not biologically destined to be a slender sylph in this life. I will always be a bodacious babe, and I am just fine with that - very good, in fact. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a zaftig woman of surprisingly good health so far, despite having spent 40-something mostly sedentary years on this earth (except for that brief period of relative fitness from 2000-02, achieved by somewhat obsessive means). Due to my varying Rubenesque proportions, I have a rotating wardrobe in every size from 14 to 26. I love myself and my body at all those sizes, though to be completely honest I have to admit that I am most comfortable in my skin somewhere in the middle, around sizes 16/18.

I am also politically motivated to combat the zeitgeist of fat phobia - the last permissible bigotry. With the onslaught of reality shows and "helpful" talk shows, from the fashion industry to news reports of the latest studies on obesity, it is very easy to become caught up in the media frenzy and buy into the myths of fat vilification. The word itself, "fat", has become overloaded with anxiety and negative values. It has taken on disproportional connotations of shame and mortification, and no longer functions as noun or adjective, but is used almost as a swear word. Women in particular are bombarded with the message that if we are fat, then we are physical, emotional and spiritual cripples and I refuse to participate in or perpetuate that mythology. We owe it to ourselves and our daughters to combat the tyranny of our fat phobic society and how it targets and denigrates women.

But, politics and social issues aside, I do want to live a long and healthy life. I want to enjoy my body in all forms of physical expression and I want it to work for me as I pursue my other goals in life. I am currently about 40 lbs lighter than Tish was when she had her surgery, and I am grateful that my health hasn’t yet gone too far down the river. But it is sending up lots of flares (my blood pressure spikes last spring and summer, I’m prone to infection, etc.) and I am paying attention because I refuse to let it get dangerous and inaction now guarantees it will get worse. I am definitely not going the surgical route (despite my mother’s urging and offers to pay for everything a few years ago).

I have vowed that I am never going to diet again. Yo-yo dieting and the inevitable deprivation/obsession mindset it creates are how I got up to this size in the first place! Instead, I am determined to take better care of my health and to eat a fairly well-balanced selection of foods, mostly from the healthier ends of the dietary spectrum. I have already revamped a lot of my home cooking and I’m back on the exercise wagon I tumbled off when I was sick in October.

Still, I recognize that I need an emotional support system especially for this process, over and above what I get from DH and my excellent therapist, and I’m not going to go to a program (One day I’ll share more about my history with some supposedly helpful weight-related programs, but for now suffice to say that I have learned that they are not for me). And it is hard for me to reach out for support about this - or most things, actually. I am usually the one providing the shoulder for others, and though I do share my story with people openly, I tend not to let the feelings really come out (except for my husband and my shrink). I need to learn to reach out more because if left to my own devices I will just internalize all the issues that come up, especially those about weight and food and all the associated baggage.

So (deep breath), here goes: I would be very grateful for any and all support and encouragement, and especially now while I get used to actually asking for help if you check in on me once in a while (here, by email or by phone) I’ll be grateful.

And on that note I need to go defrost the fish and clean some vegetables for dinner.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Deck the halls with Malabrigo!
Fa la la la la, La la la la!

I'm revelling in Ravelry, frolicking in the fibre and celebrating my stash. In the last few days many (MANY) blissful hours have been frittered away cataloguing my valiant attempt to accumulate a respectable SABLE (I've got about half of it entered, but almost no photos yet), as well as exploring my options in the pattern galleries and setting goals for future projects well into the new year and beyond. Okay, so I actually have enough in the queue to get through the century. If these clever people would please press pause on all the new and nifty patterns for a while, maybe I could catch up. (Heh, heh. Heaven forfend!).

O.M.G. this place is wonderful! It feels so good to sort and organize my copious collection of string stuff and finally get an honest accounting of what's actually in there. And I am very excited by the ease with which I can cross-reference between the stash, my library, and my immense wishlist of (*cough!*) imminent and future projects.

There's not much to show for knitting around here. Lately I've been swatching and scheming and scribbling notes, and doing a lot of origami to help me visualize some design ideas that are rattling around in my head.

Still I do have one little FO from earlier in the fall. These are some super simple hand/arm-warmers I whipped up for Stella recently. MezzoDiva's simple fingerless mitts with a twist:

These are very simple 2x2 Ribbed arm/handwarmers with a cable twist at the thumbhole to reinforce the opening. Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit, Blue/Gold multi on 3.5mm needles (I find magic loop best, but if you like juggling DPNs go for it!) Here's the recipe:

Using needles a little smaller than typically called for by the yarn-band (to create a nice dense and warm fabric), cast on a multiple of 4 stitches (about 1.5 times the number you would use for a simple stockinette mitt; e.g: in a DK weight I'd cast on 36-40sts, 36 x1.5= 54, so these were made on 56 stitches which is the next number that's a multiple of 4) and join to work in the round. Work a 2X2 ribbed tube (in the round) until you reach the desired length before the thumbhole, ending with the two stitches of a purl column.

Do a cable twist (to reinforce the opening at the thumbhole) as follows: Slip the next FOUR stitches to a cable or spare double-pointed needle and hold them in back. Knit the next TWO stitches, then purl the next TWO (formerly knitted) stitches and knit the last TWO stitches (formerly purled) from the holder.

Work another round, but the next time you get to this cabled bit, knit the first two stitches (which were crossed over on the previous round and then work only the next purl stitch. Now TURN YOUR WORK and continue working flat (back and forth, instead of in the round) for about 1.5 inches, working the stitches as they appear to continue the 2X2 ribbing.

The purl stitches between the crossed-over twist will become selvedge stitches, finishing the edges of the thumbhole nicely.

When the thumbhole is long enough that if you pinch the edges together they form a slightly snug fit around the thumb, rejoin the edges to work in the round and do another cable twist (as above) to reinforce it at the top. Then continue in the round for as long as you need and cast off.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Oy to the world!

Forgive me, Blogger, for I have sinned been remiss. It's been 25 days since my last confession er, blog posting.

'Tis the season to find that time keeps getting away from me without me having a clue where it went or what I did. It's really all a blur. I'm still not sure how I managed to miss SnB last week. I had plans to go and then...? I never even made the annual batch of Potato Latkes promised for the DH every Hannukah. (I owe you some, my love!)

Still, it has been a good several weeks with some ups and some downs: reconnecting with "real" life after the last of my fall gigs were done, reclaiming the house from the fallout of bathroom-and-kitchen madness, and a minor medical issue that could have been much (MUCH) worse. But where has all the time gone? I am stumped. Sigh. If you find where my time has gone, please do write and let me know.

I hope to have a nice long blog about it all, if I can figure out WTH I've been up to! (And my sincere apologies to the grammar police for ending the previous sentence with a preposition)

I've (finally) come to terms with the notion that I can whole-heartedly enjoy Xmas as a winter festival of light returning from the dark. This is the first year I've been able to really get into the seasonal spirit without feeling even a bit guilty for somehow betraying my own cultural/religious roots: Fa la la la la - Oy, vey, let's make merry! Most of our seasonal traditions go back much farther than any Judeo-Christian appropriation of the rituals, and all northern hemisphere cultures have our own variation of the same holidays, so let's hunker in together and celebrate the return of light.

Wishing you all a belated Happy Hannukah &/or Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali/Deepavali, Yalda, Dong Zhi - just celebrate Winter-Solstice Festival(s) of your choice. I've decided to enjoy them all!

(And if I've left anyone out - it's not intentional, please forgive me and let me know about it so I can learn more about your culture's seasonal celebrations.)

BTW, there has been knitting. Lots and LOTS of knitting, but most of it is swatching and pattern drafting and there are no pictures of any interest yet, but stay tuned in the New Year. There WILL be goodies to see and goodies to share!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Reno Redux - or - Welcome to my Nightmare.
Pardon my mood. I am not a very happy camper right now and not fit for human company. I have one lonely and frayed nerve left. Please don't step on it if you want to live.

I am shell-shocked and feeling rather violated after three days of demolition and reconstruction in my house. There are clouds of dust and a mud trail from the front door up the carpeted stairs to the bathroom and back, accompanied by a continual sound-track of loud banging, crashing ceramics and screeching power tools. They’ve been ripping out my kitchen ceiling and my shower tiles (the bathroom is above the kitchen), repairing the ceiling and walls and retiling the shower.

The whole tiled shower wall was crumbling and the kitchen ceiling was caving in below it. There was horrendous water damage because there was no water barrier behind the tiles, just regular drywall, so the three walls around the tub and shower were completely rotten - like compost - disgusting.

The kitchen walls and ceiling have been peeling for years and we haven't done much about them because the bathroom had to be fixed first and then the kitchen ceiling and walls, or we'd just have to do it all again as water damage from upstairs trickled down. Blogger is not permitting me to load the pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Basically, it means we have no shower for the week and during the day we have very little access to the one and only toilet in the house. Since we both are home during the day, this is not the best scenario. We are using my very gracious neighbour’s bathroom occasionally (often) this week, but it's still been a pain in the - well, you know. The house is filthy and covered in dust and grit and, despite some daily attempts to clean up, it really isn't going to get better until after the work is completed.

DH does not handle these things well - he hates having his personal space invaded and he hates to be left alone with workers in the house. I’m not particularly enjoying the process either, but it’s necessary and I am definitely looking forward to the results. Because then we can (finally) continue with scraping off the rest of the peeling paint in the house and refinishing the walls and painting the kitchen, and building a pantry and organizing the cupboards, etc., etc... and ultimately reclaiming the various spaces in our house that have become permanent staging areas for the interim storage of our stuff (gradually over the next many months – give us a break! We’ll need to recover from this part first).

This renovation is NOT about aesthetics, but I am allowing myself to ponder the colour scheme. The new shower area will be white tile (instead of the 80's "dusty rose"). I'll probably do more white and maybe a medium french blue in the kitchen, to go with the blue-&-white mottled Italian floor tiles (we did the floor in 2000, then stopped).
The good news is I am falling in love with my cute little house all over again. It may lack some space, but the individual rooms are a good size for this sort of house and with some TLC it will be quite charming... eventually.

Oh, yeah... I have been knitting. The condition of my home (and my nerves) are not conducive to any project work, so I've been scheming about some new design ideas and knitting swatches. Lots and lots of swatches. But there's nothing to show and tell yet.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I saw this quiz on Rochelle's blog and I had to try it right away:
Which Superhero are you?

You are Wonder Woman
You are a beautiful princess with great strength of character.

Your results:
Wonder Woman 80%
Superman 80%
Spider-Man 75%
Green Lantern 75%
Supergirl 70%
The Flash 60%
Robin 60%
Batman 55%
Iron Man 50%
Hulk 40%
Catwoman 30%

Hey!!! Cut that out. Stop laughing! Yes, I mean you!...
Okay, get it out of your system if you must.


See there where it says it's a superhero PERSONALITY test. Nobody said anything about the physique.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Thursday, November 22, 2007

So. Far. Behind.

To everybody who is waiting for a swap-package/contest-prize/blog-post/reply acknowledging your existence/query/
magnanimity (and perhaps a word or two about my knitting) - please please PLEASE accept my heartfelt humblest apologies and assurances that it's all still underway or on the way.

I am having a little trouble (*ahem* - understatement) digging out from the (literal and figurative) avalanche of obligations and the piles of debris (not to mention the basic life-supporting chores) that were dropped when I was sick and then compounded by the recent spate of concerts.

Soon, my friends. Soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wow! Last night was intense. Terrific. A TKO - for the audience and for me! So I am happy, but hibernatory. I slept until 1:30 p.m. and my greatest ambition for the rest of the day is to sit in front of the TV and knit until my next nap... I hear my sofa calling me.
Three down - one to go. I get my life back after this week!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Announcement:(with my apologies for the very late notice)
If you are in the GTA and happen to be free tonight, I'd love to see you here! (psst: bring your knitting - and any Campanula socks you have made or are making)
You are invited to a 50th-Birthday Concert of
Compositions and Paintings by Jana Skarecky

“Circles of Life 3: New Light” by Jana Skarecky
Saturday, November 10, 2007, 8 p.m.
at Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Ave., Toronto

(in Yorkville, just north of Bloor, east of University)
Admission $15

featuring a preview of voice-&-piano excerpts from her one-woman opera (a work-in-progress, with libretto by poet Di Brandt) about Emily Carr (with libretto by poet Di Brandt), Emily, the Way You Are, sung by Ramona Carmelly, with a cameo as “The Child Emily” by Juliana Colwell.

concert approximately 1 hour, to be followed by refreshments and a birthday party for the composer (cards only please!)

* EMILY, THE WAY YOU ARE, a new lyrical portrait of the boldly nonconformist visionary Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr, will premiere on Sunday April 20, 2008, at 1:30 p.m., with mezzo soprano Ramona Carmelly and The Talisker Players chamber ensemble at the McMichael Gallery Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario through the Canadian Music Centre's New Music in New Places program.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Lest we forget.

I have mentioned before that I used to keep Brunnhilde in my wallet. I found her in a newspaper many years ago. Sorry, I don't recall where, or who the cartoonist is - the series title was "Bent Offerings". She reminds me how very much I love what I'm doing.

Last night I sang a fun and frivolous program at a gala fundraiser celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hospice Thornhill. This is a very worthy, underfunded and underassisted thread of the social fabric. Our society is so deeply afraid of the whole idea of death that we go to great lengths in our denial, shunning this ubiquitous fact of life (which is, to the best of my knowledge, still a terminal condition) to the extent that in our haste to forget our own potential demise, precious little attention is paid to the needs of both the dying and those whose loved ones are dying. Except, that is, for the wonderful work and programs offered by hospices, their caregivers and volunteers. I was honoured to be a part of this wonderful event and I believe a lot of money was raised for this cause (I hope to find out later in the week).

I have two more concerts coming up whose subjects bear remembering (well, three actually, but one is a partially repeated program). One program for Holocaust Education Week is tomorrow night, then there's a concert with a preview of a lot of material from the Emily Carr project next Saturday, and another Holocaust Education program is early the next week. Both the Holocaust programs and the Emily Carr work contain vast amounts of contemporary music which is either brand new (composed for this event) or recent (mid-late 20th Century) and thus it's a lot new repertoire for me. I usually love this stuff - in one case, I actually chose the rep, so it's a self-inflicted challenge and I can't (shouldn't) complain! However, please induge me briefly - I need to get this out of my system.

It wouldn't be a problem, but I hadn't planned for a rather extended interruption in my learning curve (insert sound-effects of a major glitch here). I caught the nastiest flu and was out of commission from the last week of September for almost a month. Even after the first couple of weeks, when the worst of it was over and I slowly started to get better, I had absolutely no ability to focus, no concentration and no energy. About all I could do was sleep 14-16 hours a day to recover and watch a little TV when I was too tired to read. That whole missing month was supposed to be learning and practicing time, and I got nothing done. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Heck, I couldn't even knit a straight line, let alone grasp complicated new music.

For the past two weeks, with a few almost comically unpredictable lapses due to my lingering post-flu diminished stamina, I have been desperately scrambling to learn and rehearse all this new repertoire, dashing around the city and meeting with pianists, and altogether feeling quite pathetically overwhelmed by everything (except the aforementioned Thornhill Hospice gala, which was almost too much fun, comprised as it was of silly and fabulous musical theatre, some cabaret songs and "popera"). Adding insult to injury, all this frantic preparation for my current spate of musical engagements is even getting in the way of my knitting, the usual pressure valve and comforting soother of my frazzled soul (well, except for one day when I couldn't take it anymore and I played hookie to go and sit with Haley at Knitomatic and blissfully knit the day away).

So I decided to invite Brunnhilde back to visit here again. Because there's one thing I need to keep in mind when the going gets tough: No matter how difficult, hectic or stressful my musical life gets from time to time (and boy, it does!), I have to always remember that I am blessed to be doing something I love with my life and to be able to share it with others in meaningful ways.

P.S. for those folks seeking a summary of stitches: please stand by. There will be knitting content here eventually, sometime after the middle of the month. I hope. And if we can get the new camera battery to work, there might even be pictures!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I am enjoying the lovely fall weather so much - it is such terrific inspiration to knit wonderful wooly things!

I have been at a loss regarding what to do with a horded stash of beautiful Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran yarn in Wild Plum (410).
I picked up a whole bag (ten huge balls) of this stuff on major discount last winter (because it was a discontinued yarn). That's a veritable wealth of wool! At 175 yds per 100g ball, I have 1750 yards of luscious purpley tweed with flecks of green, pink and rust.

According to Yarndex, its jewel shades provide the perfect background for the small heathered, contrasting nubs in the tweedy effect. Its weight and texture also highlight cables and textured designs extremely well... As a singles contruction, it will break fairly easily if you pull at it, and it's a little rough to knit with, but it does make a nice sturdy garment. It also softens up nicely when washed.

Nothing seemed quite right for it, then a couple of days ago I was delving in the archives at Knitty and came across Ester from Spring 2007. Oddly, this design intrigued me when it came out, but as it was spring, my fancy turned more to other lighter fare in anticipation of summer and frankly I totally forgot about it.

Well, lo and behold, the yarn called for in Ester is Rowan's Scottish Tweed Aran, which is mighty similar to my Yorkshire Tweed Aran, and so off I went swatching merrily, and my swatch accidentally became this. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.. I am getting a good gauge match with the pattern's called for 4.5 mm needles. This is a very very fast knit and I was just zooming along here until the day before yesterday. I am just about to cast on at both sides for the upper part of the body - which will of course take longer as it is a lot wider. I am sort of stuck though, trying to decide which size to make it. For the width I cast on originally, there are three possible sizes and I'm not certain which one will work best for my personal body shape.

Given the interesting construction of this garment, I have an intuitive hunch that it's not just about size, but also about shape - and I want this to be both comfortable and flattering (is there anything as disheartening as whipping up a lovely sweater for yourself only to find that while it does indeed fit, it is not really fitting?). I think a visit to both Ravelry and the Ester KAL are in order to visit with others have made this up. Hopefully there will be some other Rubenesque figures for me to see how this thing shapes up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Don't pay the Ransom! I escaped!

No, really, I wasn't really kidnapped. I've just been hostage to the lingering effects of the nasty flu that had me dazed, confused and vertically challenged (and from which I am still slowly recovering three and a half weeks later - ugh). Now I am SWAMPED with all the work that got delayed and piled up while I was sick. I have FOUR concerts coming up in early November and a load of NEW music to learn for them, lots of it contemporary artsy stuff, which is both rhythmically and melodically difficult to grasp. AAACK!!!

But don't feel sorry for me. I'm just thankful that my debilitating month-long bout with respiratory histrionics had the decency to situate itself in a period between important artistic engagements and not during the height of my upcoming concert season. All in all, if it had to come, this was a very considerate time for it to choose. Now let's all go and send some lovin' to the Yarn Harlot who is battling the mother of all colds as she heads out for speaking engagements in New Jersey and the annual pilgrimage to Rhinebeck. I feel her pain. Go on. Really. I'll wait here.

So I have done very little knitting since beginning to recover and I still haven't entered anything on Ravelry, though I accepted my personal invitation three whole weeks ago: I am MezzoDiva over there too, but there's nothing to see yet. I am alternately looking forward to and dreading cataloguing my overwhelming stash, among other things. It's very likely I will find more than a few things that will need to be destashed to a loving home... Sigh. So much yarn, so little time to knit.

And blogging has been, well, not so much on the to-do list either for the last few weeks. Heck - I haven't even had the time or energy to post my personal agenda for Socktoberfest 2007. So without further ado, here are my intentions for this wonderful month-long celebration of these amazingly addictive accessories that we make to provide warmth, style and comfort for our feet and the feet of those we love:

- Make a pair of sock that are for ME - and actually keep them this time. (What a concept!)

- Finish the Ravenclaw socks and gather all the extra goodies and mail out the package to my Hogwarts Sock Swap pal.

- Finish the pink socks for my friend Stella (these requested and promised a year ago - sheesh!)

- Develop a sequel to my surprisingly successful Campanula for the Cure campaign, ie: formulate a NEW sock design as a fundraiser for The Weekend to End Breast Cancer 2008 (because I am inexplicably insane enough to do it all again).

- Knit a pair of socks from the cuff down (for the first time ever)and graft the toes (because I really should do this at least once as an exercise). Hmmm... Okay - what with the current time constraints, this one might be a post-Socktoberfest project. But I'm stating it here anyway just to affirm my plan to do this in the not-too-distant future.
Okay. Now for the progress reports:

I did manage to finish a Campanula sock that I am making (gasp!) for myself. No, you can't have them. That's right. You heard me. These are MINE! Just keep your hands where I can see them and step slowly away from the Campanulas, Ma'am. Nice and easy... In the 15 or so months since I began knitting socks, I have made numerous pairs and I still have none just for me. So indulge me.

This was photographed by the marvelous Marla early last night at Knitomatic SnB (which I attended for the first time in a month, and got to see the lovely Lisa who is here visiting from her temporary work posting in Calgary and is the model for the other socks, pictured below). I completed another half pattern repeat and the twisted ribbing for the cuff last night, so all I need to do now is cast off and make another one. Despite photographic evidence to the contrary, it's actually a perfect fit. It's modelled here by the lovely Shelna whose feet are a half size longer and whose ankles and calves are much slimmer than mine are.

And here's the first of the socks I am making for the stellar Stella:

They are Cookie A's Pomatomus pattern, but worked from the toe up with short row tows and heels, and modifications including some gussett increases to compensate for the narrower gauge yarn on size ) (2 mm) needles. This is Regia 4-ply in a brilliant hot pink. Stella is a very outgoing and fun lady, and she requested pink, so she is getting PINK! If she wears these while biking at night she can probably skip the reflective gear.

Ahem: Warning! Spoiler Alert for Patonga Finnegan: If you don't want to see your forthcoming socks, please skip the rest of this post!

I also have a lovely (if I do say so myself) completed pair of Pomatomus to show you. My Hogwarts Sock Swap2 pal, Patonga Finnigan, is in Ravenclaw, so her house colors are blue and bronze (book) or blue and silver (movies), and though she expressed a slight preference for the movie colours, I just had to make these for her. This is a Koigu KPPPM multi (I lost the ball-band so I don't know the number) and I haven't seen anything else like it. With its interplay of blues with bronze, purple and teal and a hint of green, it is possibly the most beautiful colourway I have ever seen - and that's high praise indeed from a self-confessed Koigu addict.I must admit these were a challenge. I almost considered taking a remedial sock-spells elective, but it wouldn’t fit in my class schedule (I would have to drop potions because, unlike Hermione, I can’t be in two classes at the same time).

It wasn't that the pattern gave me trouble. Not at all. The sock spell worked almost too perfectly on the first sock. Then for some inexplicable reason, while whipping up the second sock my wand tension seemed to change dramatically. First it was much too loose and I actually ran out of yarn before the cuff, so I had to rip it back and start over. Then I must have overcompensated and held my wand much too tightly: I couldn’t even get the completed sock onto my foot (and since we are of a similar size I knew she wouldn’t either)... back to the pond.

Ultimately, after several attempts to adjust my wand tension, I believe I finally got it right. They fit me, so I think they will fit her nicely. Now I'm just waiting to receive a couple of things for her package (the muggle mail is SO unreliable), and then they'll be off to Patonga c/o her muggle alter-ego, Ellie) by Express Owl.

BTW - Ellie has a new Etsy shop for her fabulous hand dyed yarns. Go take a look. I bought some recently and it's absolutely gorgeous (and delivery was super speedy).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Well, I must say it's good to be back here in Blogland. I've missed you guys, though I have peaked in on occasion to see some lovely new Campanulas completed! I apologize for my prolonged absence, but it's been a heck of a ride here at casa MezzoDiva for the last three weeks.

First of all. I recovered very nicely, after the 2007 Weekend to End Breast Cancer, thank you! I was extremely stiff and sore for a couple of days, then I visited my friend Julie and she helped me do some assisted stretching (you can go further and therefore deeper with someone providing a little active resistance) and the next day I had a terrific massage (also with Julie - she's a R.M.T and she's great! If you're in the GTA, call her and book one and you'll know what I mean: 416-781-9355). After that I was pretty much okay.

I finally lost that one toenail. It stayed on for almost two weeks, long enough for the blistered skin underneath it to heal completely, then one day when I cleaned it and changed the bandaid it just popped right off. There's this cute little toenail-shaped area of bare skin where it was, soft normal skin and just a little tender. I am told the nail will now start to grow back. The wierdest thing is that I am wearing this fabulously navy blue nail polish, and now there's one blatantly bare toe. Maybe I should have gone with a subtler pedicure after the walk, but I was feeling powerful and that bold inky blue just spoke to me right then and I am wearing my bare toe with pride!

At the end of the following week (for those of you who don't follow the Jewish calendar) we began to celebrate the High Holidays: Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the holiest days in the Jewish Year, and that had me hopping busy with preparations and my synagogue gig (professional chamber choir). Sorry, but I just have to digress here and offer one of my favourite (albeit lame) jokes:
According to the Jewish Calendar, this year is 5768.
According to the Chinese calendar, this year is 4705.
That means for 1,063 years we went without Chinese Food.
Those were known as the Dark Ages.
In the following days I had to start catching up with everything that slid off my to-do list in the late summer. Confession: I would blame it on the WEBC, and it's true that I was rather pre-occuppied with that as it loomed closer, but to be honest things are always a bit lax around here in late summer. Maybe I never out grew the back-to-school anticipation, but I always slack off a bit in August (and that's what August is supposed to be like, isn't it?).

And though I didn't come down with that threatening chest cold right after the walk, I have a real nasty one now (sinus & chest) - I've been coughing up a lung for six days and my throat is so torn up I can't sing a note (as you might have guessed by now, the MezzoDiva moniker is for real - it's what I do - so this is not a trivial thing). Happily, I finally feel like I will be getting better from today on. Well, I should be vocally safe by mid-week, at least. I really hope so because I have an important rehearsal on Thursday and I'd like to get some practising in before then.

How sick was I? Well, let's just say that ALL the knitting I attempted in the last week, including a couple of things begun before I got sick, has now been reviewed, appropriately ridiculed and frogged. I even finally received my own long-awaited and coveted Ravelry invitation (!) and all I could manage was to log in and lurk apathetically for about five minutes.

So I have no knitting news to report and nothing to show off to you here. But I'm back!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The fight continues: 60 more in 2008

Congratulations! You did it! WOW! You stepped up and out on the street and made a real difference in the fight to end breast cancer. You were an invaluable part of the family of 5,521 participants who raised $17.3 million to support breast cancer research, clinical enhancements and continuation of the Survivorship program at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer was a huge success for the fifth year in a row - thanks to dedicated people just like you. On behalf of the doctors, researchers, Board of Directors and other staff of Princess Margaret Hospital and The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research, we deeply appreciate YOU for making The Weekend such a spectacular success. Because you committed to supporting breast cancer research, thousands of women and men throughout Toronto and Ontario will directly benefit from advancements like the rapid diagnosis pilot program, interoperative radiation clinical trial, the Breast Cancer Survivorship program and leading edge research done at The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at PMH lead by Dr. Tak Mak and his research team.

Of course, the fight does not end here. The funds our participants have helped raise over the last five years are phenomenal, but cancer is not a five-year problem. Research and cancer breakthroughs take time and money to support and realize The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation has long term goals that require long term funding so we hope you've signed up to keep fighting cancer in 2008! If you have friends who'd like to join you, please invite them to come on out for this amazing journey.

For a limited time, everyone can register for just $25. Make next year the next leg of this wonderful tradition in our community. Tell your friends and family to register for The 2008 Weekend to End Breast Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital!

Congratulations and thank you so very much for your important contribution to this record-breaking walk! You've made our community very proud.

Visit here for the news release about The Weekend.

Paul Alofs
President & CEO
Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DH posted at I Think: It is time to put aside a few minutes to remember the innocents who were executed on this day in 2001 for the crime of being American, without trial or evidence or representation by counsel. My condolences to the families and friends of these victims, and to the world that has suffered the ongoing consequences of these crimes against humanity.

I couldn't say it any better.

At 5:30 am on Sunday, on my way to Day Two of the recent WEBC, I had the most amazing conversation with a cab driver. He asked me what all these people were doing and why and I explained to him that we were raising money and awareness to combat this scourge that is cancer. We discussed the Weekend and the PMH foundation and recent/imminent breakthroughs in research and treatment. We discussed the sad state of the world, the ubiquitous wars official and unofficial, and our society's all too pervasive culture of impotence, the prevailing impression cultivated by our conglomerate driven economic-political machine, that as individuals most of us are unable to make a difference, so we might as well just slog along as cogs in the system and try to buy ourselves as much consumer-happiness as we can grab to soothe our frustration, but without rocking the boat too much, and please - leave the world-altering decisions and actions to the big boys.

The driver asked many questions about what I was doing and after I told him how deeply moved I was to be a part of this endeavour, how incredibly empowering it was to contribute in even my small way to making this world a better place, he responded in the most profoundly thoughtful, and uncannily appropriate way. He said: "What a world could we make if instead of violence and hatred, all that anger and passion could be channelled into healing and helpful directions, to curing diseases and feeding the hungry and consoling the desolate."

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
(16 December 1901 – 15 November 1978)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thank you for supporting me and the 2007 Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer. When the going got tough, your support kept me going.

This was an amazing experience! I am overwhelmed with emotion, spiritually soaring high and I really don't care that I hurt like hell, though I am hysterically amused by my attempts to climb 14 stairs to shower the previous two nights. DH threatened to video-cam my pathetic crawl up the stairs, but I said that if he did I would leave him - once I could move again.

Despite a brutal hill climb in High Park early on day one (staying there 2/3 of the way up was tempting, but not an option), minor heat stroke and sunburn (you know you’re too hot when the Gatorade actually tastes good!), and walking in the cold rain with a minor chest cold (got some hot herbal tea with honey from Starbucks en route), surprisingly few and minor blisters with potential imminent loss of one toenail (there's a blister under it), other body parts chaffing in places I cannot speak of, and every single muscle and joint aching and stiff with possible exception of one beside my right eyebrow… I am so incredibly glad that I did this I cannot describe the depth of my feelings.

I definitely did NOT do the whole 60km.

Some people do the whole 60km. Many people don't, and even experienced veterans of several previous years sometimes call a halt. I don't know precisely how far I went, but I estimate a total of about 45km. On day one I probably covered about 25km. We started with opening ceremonies shortly after dawn, leaving the CNE grounds by 7:15am. I was feeling pretty good until around 3:30pm I was overcome by extreme heat and my blood pressure was spiking (it crept up through the day, was up to 132/89 mid-day, 138/96 mid-afternoon…), so discretion being the better part of valour, I called it a day shortly before 4pm and got swept to the camp.

There are numerous bike patrols and sweep vans with crews that travel back and forth along the route cheering on the walkers and offering support and water refills and blister care, and if you need a break (or if you fall to far back at the end of either day), they will take you to the next pit-stop (or all the way to camp) where there are snacks and/or meals and water and Gatorade and toilets (incredibly good portables) as well as medical personnel, and all kinds of assistance and support.

On day two I probably did another 20km. I woke up around 4:30am with a cough and fighting a chest cold (but surprisingly limber after the first day, though tired). I suspect the extreme exertion of day one undermined my immunity, as I have noticed that in the past after some extreme bike rides or overdoing other workouts. Nevertheless, I was doing okay once I got warmed up and moving. I twisted my right knee mid-morning and went about another 5km unable to keep it in alignment, then I decided not to risk damaging it further and got swept about 2km to the lunch stop.

After lunch it was hard to get moving, but some bandages and stretching banished the blisters and stiffness and I started to feel pretty good. I actually surprised myself by almost finishing the last 14km, but I completely lost it at the last pit stop just south of the CN tower with 3km to go. I was suddenly unable to even cross about a one block distance to the refreshments tent to replenish my water bottle and I just sank onto the bench and wept. I got swept over to outside the Exhibition grounds and walked one last km in from the Princess Gates and through the closing site and the ceremonies.

The 2007 WEBC is over, but the fight continues.

This year, 5,521 walkers, the largest number in the event’s five year history, and several hundred wonderful volunteer crew and support people, participated AND raised more than $17.3 million for breast cancer research and care! The 6th annual Toronto Weekend to End Breast Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital is already planned for Sept. 5-7, 2008.

I have already registered for The Weekend to End Breast Cancer 2008 AND I am starting a team: "Knitters for Knockers!" Everyone is welcome: knitters and crocheters, weavers and spinners, and even those who are not fibre-fanatical (though we can’t promise not to attempt to lure you over to the yarn side). As we train through the year, we’ll probably set up a flexible buddy system so that faster walkers can go at their pace and slower ones at theirs, but everybody will have someone with them throughout training and the walk for both company and safety. I'll definitely be planning some extended yarn-crawls… downtown like last time but then also to the beaches, etc.

60 more in 2008!!!
If you want to join us in 2008, let me know!
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
-- Anne Frank (12 June 1929 – early March 1945)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Day one is over. Please shoot me now.

Just crawled in the door fresh as day old fish.
Must now attempt to climb 14 stairs to shower.
Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow-ow …

Vow that next house will have full bath on main floor.
Too tired to write more now.
Love to you all.

XO – MezzoDiva

P.S. I have already registered for NEXT year :0
And I am starting a team: Knitters for Knockers!
If you want to join us in 2008, let me know!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Campanula for the Cure KAL!

(Don't worry! It's still summer, at least here in the northern hemisphere. I just fudged the date on this post - it was the only way to keep it sticky at the top in Blogger for a couple of months. For more recent posts, please scroll down.)

In the interest of raising awareness for this foot-related fundraiser (a sock pattern to sponsor a 60-km walkathon to help conquer cancer), I’ve started a Campanula for the Cure KAL!
Click here
to be redirected to the post with details for the KAL about this sock pattern designed for the fight against cancer!

P.S. If you miss me here and you're wondering where I am this summer - please come visit the Campanula KAL. It's taking up a wee bit more of my time than expected. I hope to resume more regular knitting and blogging activities after Sept. 10th.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Walking my socks off!

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60-km walk is this weekend.

My training sucks lately. Really - I did a grand total of 15 miles in August. Ugh! That’s less than half of my mileage from way back in January, when we had snow and wind-chill feeling like -30C. But the extreme heat waves and humidity absolutely derailed my summer training plans. And in this last week we’re supposed to cut back and not do much. Hmmm... how do you cut back from zero?

I was really starting to panic about it last week, but after several days of growing apprehension, I examined the anxiety and realized it was simply fear of pain. Once I accepted the fact that I will experience some pain, probably during and definitely after the event, and that's okay, I will get through it, my anxiety level dropped significantly.

At least I can be happy that I covered well over 200 miles since mid-winter! I figure that I walked all day several days in a row when I was singing & traveling in Italy (1999) and I didn't train for all that walking. This can't be a lot worse.

Whatever happens to me this weekend, it's nothing compared to what hundreds of thousands of women face every year. And increasing numbers of men are being diagnosed with this disease as well. I am walking to show my solidarity with these men and women, to help raise awareness and to support the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.

So I am going for it. I'm just going to go and have fun sharing this experience with a few thousand like-minded persons. What's not to love?

I'll be in touch early next week - once I can move again.

P.S. If you will be in the GTA September 8-9, please come out to cheer me along the way. Though the location of Opening Ceremonies, Camp, and Closing Ceremonies will be announced well in advance of The Weekend to End Breast Cancer, the route will not be pre-announced. This is strictly a safety precaution as the route may have to change at the last minute due to traffic signal failures, broken water mains, or any other unforseen issues. Therefore, we do not announce the route.

There are however several cheering stations along the way where your friends and family can come and support you along the route of The Weekend to End Breast Cancer® benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital! Tell them to bring their BIG signs, smiling faces and happy cheers to the following sites:

DAY ONE: Saturday, September 8, 2007
Lambton Park: 9 am - 12 pm
4100 Dundas Street West. Street parking.

Rosethorn Junior School: 11 am - 2 pm
2 Remington Drive, SW corner at Rathburn Road.

Elm Park: 1 - 5 pm
SW corner of King and Elm Streets. Street parking.

CAMP: 4:30 pm - Downsview Park, 75 Carl Hall Road.

DAY TWO: Sunday, September 9, 2007
John Ross Robertson Elementary School: 9:30 - 11:30 am
130 Glengrove Avenue West, NE corner at Rosewell Ave.

Nesbitt Park: 12 - 3 pm
just south of Bayview Avenue. Street parking.

CLOSING CEREMONIES: Halls A & B, Direct Energy Centre Exhibition Grounds 4:30 pm
The ceremonies start at 4:30 pm, but feel free to come cheer the Walkers at anytime between 1:30 pm and 4 pm.

Note: These locations may change without notice if the route changes due to last minute detours.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The plot thickens...

Posted by: "Noreens Knit*che"
Mon Sep 3, 2007 6:29 am (PST)
"Ramona Carmelly" Spun a FINE Yarn in the below message:
Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2007 7:58 AM
Subject: New Sock Pattern to help Conquer Cancer!
Ramona, Today IS Ad day, so don't worry, you're not being yelled at, however, in the future, please remember to prefix your subject with AD: Thanks, Noreen, List-Mom... who is going over to have a peek as soon as the coffee's done...

This (above) is the only reference I have ever made to Ramona's posting, and wonder who is playing games, posting in my name and supposedly visiting blogs. I've been away on our first vacation in four years (since DH's cancer, no less!) and was not even online August 31, Sept. 1, or Sept. 2. Evidently someone, perhaps cyber gremlins, is having fun at my expense. Ramona, I agree with your cause, I only mentioned ONCE, back in JULY about 'ad' day, (see above), and although it wasn't me who flamed you, I apologize for the little houligans who think this is fun and funny... Noreen

THANKS, NOREEN! And to everyone for being supportive, too! I appreciate all the kind words.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Patience is a Virtue. Forgiveness is Divine.

As posted to the Continental Knitters Yahoo Group:

Please accept my apology for posting this without the requisite AD preface. If anyone was truly offended, I am very sorry.

In my defense:

1. This was not a deliberate flouting of the rules. I was in the act of placing the "AD" preface (as well as another modification I wanted in the body of the message), but as I was composing the title, I pressed the "Enter" key instead of "Shift" key and the message was sent before I could complete editing.

2. I immediately attempted to retrieve the posting, but it didn't show up on the group site for quite a long time after this occurred. I was going to delete it as soon as it showed up, but I simply couldn't wait around any longer at the time. Then, to be honest, I then went on with my busy life and forgot to follow up on this.

3. I was rather hoping for some understanding, especially given that I am doing a tremendous amount of work and incurring personal costs for absolutely no personal gain. At no time do I see any of the funds donated, it all goes directly to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. Furthermore I am providing a fun KAL and support to many knitters, as well as prizes which mostly come out of my own pocket. So please note, I am not soliciting customers for personal profit, but rather seeking like-minded knitters who want to join me and the 175 members of this KAL in knitting a lovely sock AND fighting cancer.

4. In fact, while I was composing this apology, I received another message from Noreen, to the effect that the group is STILL waiting for my apology. I received the first notice at 4:12pm, and this second notification at 4:27pm. I find this degree of impatience somewhat disturbing. If I hadn't happened to be both at my computer and online at the time, my IMMEDIATE apology might have come hours later, and still have been an immediate response.

Nevertheless, I had no desire to flout the rules of the group and therefore I sincerely apologize for that misdemeanor on my part.

Knitterly Regards,
Ramona Carmelly -aka- MezzoDiva the Operatic Knitaholic
designer & moderator: Campanula for the Cure KAL

From: Noreen's [mailto:noreply-comment@...]
Sent: September 2, 2007 4:12 PM
To: ramona.carmelly@...
Subject: [Sock it to me!] New comment
Noreen's has left a new comment on your post "Campanula for the Cure KAL!":

Ramona, your posting of same in the continental knitters yahell group was totally uncalled for, esp. inthat you blatantly disregarded the extremely simple rule of posting said as it obviously is, and AD or ADVERT.
The group is waiting for an apology.
The YarnWright

From: Noreen's [mailto:noreply-comment@...]
Sent: September 2, 2007 4:23 PM
To: mezzodiva@...
Subject: [CAMPANULA for the CURE knit-along]
Noreen's has left a new comment on your post "Welcome to our Campanula for the Cure KAL":

Continental Knitters yahellgroup is still waiting for your apology,
The YarnWright

Friday, August 31, 2007

As seen on a couple of my groups.
Finally - a rational explanation for my yarn-addiction.
A recent study indicated, that Yarn and thread gives off certain Pheromones that actually hypnotize women and cause them to purchase unreasonable amounts.

When stored in large quantities, in enclosed spaces, the Pheromones (in the yarn), cause memory loss and induce the nesting syndrome, (similar to the one squirrels save, before the onset of winter, i.e. the storing of food), therefore perpetuating their species and not having a population loss due to their kind being cut into pieces and mixed with others.

Sound tests have also revealed, that these yarns, emit a very high-pitched sound, heard only by a select few, a breed of women known as "loomers." When played backwards on an LP, the sounds are heard as chants, "buy me, loom me, and wind me into a ball".

In order to overcome the so called "feeding frenzy effect," that these yarns cause, one must wear a face mask when entering a storage facility and use ear plugs, to avoid being pulled into their grip. (One must laugh, however, at the sight of customers in a yarn store, with WW2 army gas masks and headphones!). Studies have also indicated, that aliens have inhabited the earth, helping to spread the effects, that these yarns have on the human population. They are called "YARN STORE CLERKS".

It's also been experienced, that these same Pheromones, cause a pathological need to hide these yarn purchases when taken home (or at least blend them into the existing stash.) When asked by a significant other if the yarn is new, the reply is, "Oh, I've had it for awhile."

Author Unknown
Addendum: What then would be the rationale for those of us who are, as one fiber-wag coined so aptly, "fiber cyber-shoppers"?
I am equally weak before the mesmeric effects of online fiber... just imagining the soft and squooshy yarn in my hands and seeing all the pretty pretty colours... oh, baby!... yes! Yes! YES!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I just had a makeover

What do you think of my new look?

I tried to be honest - it was just too svelte and that's not me.

They could offer a greater variety of bodytypes in the Simpsonize options. I had to download it and then widen it using Photoshop because the only zaftig bodytype it gave me was totally wrong.

I think it's a pretty good likeness. I might have to change the eyes, though. They're a bit too much like a deer caught in traffic.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Campanula's Day Out - Knitting in Public for the Cure!

My Campanulas came to Stitch 'n Pitch last night! Several hundred knitters came together at the ballpark here to cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays as they hosted the L.A. Angels. Several hundred SnP-ers received goodie-bags with loot from local and national purveyors of fiber goodness and paraphernalia, and tucked into each tote bag along with the loot was a notice about Campanula for the Cure and our KAL.

It's 2 to 1 for Toronto in the bottom of the 8th, with the Blue Jays at bat, and Darren Oliver in to pitch for the Angels. Frank Thomas singles to left, Troy Glaus walks: Runners on first and second with none out, Aaron Hill is up. Here's Campanula cheering on Aaron Hill:
Oh! Hill pops out to second: Runners on first and second with one out. Gregg Zaun flies out to center: Runners on first and second and with two outs and John McDonald grounds out third to first to end the inning. Jeremy Accardo starts the 9th inning for the Blue Jays, and after a giving up a single to Garret Anderson, gets Gary Matthews to line out to first, the Jays turn a double play and Anderson's out at first: None on with two outs and Casey Kotchman due up. Kotchman grounds out second to first to end the game. Final: LA Angels 1, Toronto 2.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Take me out to the ball game!Stitch-'n-Pitch, Toronto: Wed. August 15, 2007, 7pm

Stitch-'n-Pitch brings together two of my favourite pastimes — baseball and the needle Arts - ah, bliss!

The Toronto Blue Jays are holding their inaugural Stitch-n'-Pitch event TODAY Wednesday August 15. Come to a ball game and knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch and needlepoint. Sit among friends, family and fibre-arts enthusiasts and cheer on your Toronto Blue Jays as they take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

All Stitch 'n Pitchers who order tickets in advance will receive a commemorative Blue Jays tote bag full of fibre freebies. Tickets are available at a special discounted price of $20 (regularly $26).

DH and I will be there. Hope to see you there.
Knit One, Purl Two - and Play Ball!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

MezzoDiva has left the building.

My campanulas and I are taking a little road-trip! (Well, they're not really mine - they're my current CIPs for a friend (I'm still waiting for MY yarn to arrive).

MezzoDiva is going out-of-town for a couple of days to sing at a wedding, so I might be incommunicado until Sunday night. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, August 10, 2007

I know, I know. There has been precious little knitting content over here at my blog.

I have had a few things to attend to - and YES, some of them have involved actual knitting. I will post about it all soon. I promise!

Meanwhile I leave you with this:

I saw this while visiting over at Rochelle's blog and of course I had to try it for myself.
Your Life Path Number is 11

Your purpose in life is to inspire others. Your amazing energy draws people to you, and you give them great insight in return. You hold a great amount of power over others, without even trying. You have the makings of an inventor, artist, religious leader, or prophet.

In love, you are sensitive and passionate. You connect with your partner on a very deep level.

You have great abilities, but you are often way too critical of yourself. You don't fit in - and instead of celebrating your differences, you dwell on them. You have high expectations of yourself. But sometimes you set them too high and don't achieve anything.

I really needn't have bothered. I should just have taken it for granted it would be the same as hers. Yup. We really were separated at birth. A few years apart, maybe, but what's a few years in the grand scheme of things anyway?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

You Are the Thumb

You're unique and flexible. And you defy any category.
Mentally strong and agile, you do things your own way. And you do them well.
You are a natural leader... but also truly a loner. You inspire many but connect with few.

You get along well with: The Middle Finger

Stay away from: The Pinky

Anyone surprised?...

Well, you clearly haven't been paying attention.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hogwarts Sock Swap 2

My alter-ego, Cassandra Kettleburn, has been accepted into first year at Hogwarts!

1. What Hogwarts house have you been sorted into? Hufflepuff
2. Shoe size? 8.5
3. Foot Length? 9.5
4. Foot Circumference? 9.5
5. List your three favorite double-point needle brands, including size and length.
a. Addi circulars, sizes 0 and 1, length 32 in.
b. Knitpicks circulars, 2.0 cm and 2.5 cm, length 32 in.
c. ?
6. Would you like to try a new brand needle? If so, which brand? Size? Length?
Knitpicks circulars, 2.25 cm and 2.75 cm, length 32 in.
7. If you are a RAVENCLAW, do you prefer the colors in the film or the book?
Do you have a strong preference? NA – not in Ravenclaw
8. Allergies? Do you have any? Will your knitting be exposed to smoke or animals?
Allergic to smoke and cats – my knitting will not be exposed to either
9. Are you an international participant (outside US)? Yes - Canada
10. Are you willing to have an international Hogwarts Sock Pal? Yes

Said Hufflepuff, "I'll teach the lot, and treat them just the same."
A well-known member was Cedric Digory, who represented Hogwarts in the most recent Triwizard Tournament. Hufflepuff students are known to be friendly, fair-minded, modest, and hard-working. Hmmmm... I think I need to work on the modest part, but the rest seems to fit.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This arrived in my inbox recently and I think it's worth remembering and reminding each other. Rather than pass it along to clog everyone's inbox, I am posting it here.


Women have strengths that amaze men.
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.
They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.
They fight for what they believe in.
They stand up to injustice.
They don't take "no" for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.
They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.
They are happy when they hear about
a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there is no strength left.
They know that a hug and a kiss
can heal a broken heart.
Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They'll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you
to show how much they care about you.
The heart of a woman is what makes the world keep turning.
They bring joy, hope and love.
They have the compassion and ideas.
They give moral support to
their family and friends.
Women have vital things to say
and everything to give.

if there is one flaw in women,

Please pass this along to all your women friends
and relatives to remind them just how amazing they are.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


I decided to self-publish my Campanula sock pattern (pictured above) and offer it here as a charitable fundraiser: To get the pattern, all you have to do is CLICK HERE and SPONSOR ME for the 2007 Weekend to End Breast Cancer.

During one amazing weekend, thousands of women and men are joining forces Toronto to walk 60 kilometres through the neighbourhoods of Toronto to benefit the Princess Margaret Hospital, one of North America’s leading centers for cancer treatment and research, in a bold display of our commitment to end this heartbreaking disease for good.

Donate any amount you choose! Don't be shy. Even $10 or $20 will make a difference - it all adds up! As the Yarn Harlot so keenly observed in her phenomenal May 25 Toronto appearance: knitters (maybe all hand-crafters) are superdonors, giving a lot or a little, but giving often, perhaps because we are uniquely aware of the power of doing one small simple thing over and over and over... Of course, if you are able and inclined to donate more, please do. The cause is worthy and 100% of all donations go directly to Princess Margaret Hospital.

Just put "CAMPANULA" in the message line or leave me a comment here. You can either use the donation form available as a download from my WEBC sponsorship page and send it in with a cheque, or you can securely donate online through the WEBC site. The WEBC site will inform me of your donation and I will email a PDF version of the pattern to you ASAP! (if you need another format, just let me know)

These were knitted toe-up with a provisional cast on, short-row toes and short-row heels. But they will easily translate to other methods, though this lace works best from the bottom up. Toe Up socks and short rows are very easy and once you do them you’ll wonder what took so long. The first time is a bit of a leap of faith, but just follow the directions and they’ll work. However, as I do not explain these techniques in the campanula pattern, my suggestion is that you first make up a pair of plain ones by following Wendy Johnson’s fabulous instructions. Some familiarity with lace would be helpful, but it's not a hard lace to knit, a simple variation on dayflower lace done in the round.

The magnificent magenta originals (pictured above) were made from 2 skeins of Koigu (KPM #1170). The one below was made with Knitpicks Gloss (Concord Grape). Note that for this lace pattern, solid colours are best. A subtly variegated tone-on-tone colour-way would be okay, but too much colour striation will distract from the lace.

And if you happen to be visiting here, please pass it on. Let's make it like that shampoo commercial: you tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on and so on and...

P.S. Have no fear: the pattern has been tested by several sock-knitters, some adept and some new, and corrected/revised to incorporate their feedback! (Thanks again guys.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Hi, my name is MezzoDiva and I am a lapsed knit-blogger. It's been a month since my last blog posting and so much has happened, but I just haven't been in the frame of mind to blog about any of it.

In the last month, though, my knitting has been sporadic and mostly uninspiring: lots of aborted ideas, false starts and swatching and ripping. I was just not satisfied with it. It wasn't even soothing the frustrations of recent weeks, but rather adding to them instead.

I did almost finish my second pomatomus sock which has been languishing since the end of May, then I ran out of yarn just before I got to the ribbing on the cuff! I'm pretty sure I was just knitting a lot looser on the ankle and leg on the second sock, so I've ripped back to just past the heel and now I'm reknitting it and tightening up my stitches every couple of rows.

While pondering how to renew my knitting mojo I was lurking around and inspired by all the lovely shawls and stoles (and by Rochelle - I will blame you when it goes snafu)I just took the plunge this afternoon and signed up for Mystery Stole 3. I'm a late joiner - sign ups close tonight and many participants have already finished the second clue (which came out yesterday - sheesh!). Though I am a shawl/stole virgin, I really love lace patterns and have done lace socks and tops. But I am game for this adventure and suddenly I am feeling fibre-frisky again!

Now I am considering several laceweight options from my stash: There's the Purple Misti Alpaca - I have 2 skeins (437.5 yards each, so that's probably enough). I have one gorgeous skein of Midnight-Rainbow(aka Harlot’s Peacock) merino-silk (950 yards) from Perchance to Knit and also lots of a beautiful deep emerald green recycled merino from The Twice Sheared Sheep (on eBay). Decisions, decisions... And should I take the plunge and try the beads too?

I also went over to Annie Modesitt's place and got myself a copy of her fabulousRed Carpet Convertible pattern. You should go visit, read the story, and make a donation.

Well, clearly my interest in knitting has been sparked again!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I had a whole night off on Monday and I really needed to find something to wear for a couple of the shows this weekend, so I called up my new BFF/SP10 Rochelle and she kindly put her plans on pause to come out with me for some retail therapy at the mall with the mostest, Yorkdale. Our SP10 hostess Robyn has reunited soul-twins cosmically separated at birth. Rochelle and I had a fabulous girls night out (okay, it was more like late afternoon and evening) - shopping, talking, dining, talking,... talking... talking. It was just what I needed.

Today I actually have a whole day off. So of course instead of being in bed where I belong, I was up at the crack of dawn - too excited about having a whole day off to actually rest and take care of myself before the whirlwind of performances that starts tomorrow. I'll be doing some laundry and some packing this morning (unlike a long weekend holiday, a diva weekend requires carting around a lot more than you can possibly imagine). Then I am going out for some R&R: a facial and mini-massage (using an old gift certificate I found among my tax receipts). After that I'll be meeting Rochelle and Robyn downtown for some fibre sustenance and bit of dinner.

Robyn's in town this weekend for the TTC knit-a-long. Rochelle is going too, as are many fabulous GTA kniterristas. I so wish I could be there, but I'll be out of town, performing morning, noon and night, and unfortunately I still haven't figured out how to be in two places at once. But I will definitely work in some KIP-ing while I am gone. I have to represent for International Knit in Public Day, when the world knitting community brings our yarn and sticks out of our homes and LYSs, and ventures into the wide world in droves, to share and celebrate our craft and to freak out the muggles just a bit. It’s fun to KIP - I do it all the time on my own, but I'd love to try it as a team sport. Sigh. Think of me while you're out there, KIP-ers.

Pssst... if you're looking for me in the next few days, I'll be here.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

"Aus der Kriegsschule des Lebens -
Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich staerker."

(Out of the Warschool of life [I learned]-
What does not kill me, makes me stronger.)
from Götzen-Dämmerung (Twilight of the Idols), 1895, by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900), a parody of Wagner's Götterdämmerung.

It’s interesting how when you decide you’ve finally learned a big life lesson, the universe then sends you a series of tests in the form of similar situations, some of them obvious and some disguised, just to make sure that you really REALLY got it.


Thanks so much.

I’d appreciate it more if I weren’t so F#&*-ing exhausted.

Just one more week.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Names withheld for reasons which will become obvious.
Warning: TMI post follows.

I am attempting to take good care of myself. The universe is fiercely testing my resolve, but I am determined to persevere. I am a true Leo, born on the first day of August and in the Chinese year of the Dragon (among the last post-WW2 baby-boomers), so I have reserves of tenacity it has yet to plumb. Bring it, baby!

I went to my GP earlier this week reporting symptoms I mentioned before: vertigo with incipient headache, and some weird edema in my ankles and lower legs. My BP is a little high (138/90) but lower than the two previous readings (all three together showed as descending). However, that is the likely culprit for both the severe edema in my lower legs and the vertiginous migraines. I saw a neurologist and since May 20 I've been taking 400mg Riboflavin daily, which has almost totally wiped out the chronic recurrent migraines and vertigo I had for the previous 4 weeks (and it worked miraculously fast, too). But a couple of days ago the vertigo and headaches returned and they are hovering. And the edema is coincident with a very faint recurrent chest flutter and a pinching sensation left of centre (which of course was flying under the radar during my afternoon exam - only occuring in the am and evg, and hence not audible under the stethoscope. How does it know?).

Given my symptoms and my family tree of genealogical medical histories playing the top ten tunes on the obesity-related hit parade, including numerous cardio-vascular diseases and assorted cancers, they are wisely booking me for a cardiac ultrasound, an exercise/stress test and a 24-hour halter monitor (I think I will request 48-hours).

It all seems a bit of an ironic cosmic jest. I've had surprisingly good health so far. I have spent 42 years on this earth, most of them rather sedentary except for two periods of physical fitness in 1992-96 and 2000-02. I am lucky that despite my tendency to zaftig Rubenesque proportions I hadn't yet developed any of the associated life-threatening complications. But at 40+ I am clearly at a chronological crossroads and as you know I started earnestly doing something about it.

I spent the past several months improving my fitness in advance of summer training for the September 60km walk for PMH (the Weekend to End Breast Cancer). I embarked on this journey from what is probably best described as enlightened self-interest: I have pretty good reasons both to want to build a healthier lifestyle into habitual behaviour for the rest of my life, and to raise awareness and funding to support people battling breast cancer and the research to end it. Also, fear of pain is a powerful motivator and since this endurance test is not the sort of thing for which you can "cram" right beforehand, it made me get out and move regularly since the New Year. I am at the point where 8-10 miles walking or biking are totally doable. Now I need to build in the get-out-and-do-the-same-the-very-next-day stamina. Instead I am under orders to stay off my feet as much as possible until the swelling and blood pressure return to normal.

My symptoms are really only partly of physiological derivation, largely exacerbated by the cumulative stress of recent months. The reactive fallout from personal choices I made in recent weeks was a blow that left me a bit shell-shocked and I am certain it triggered my current physical condition.

I have to withdraw from an intolerable family member in order to protect myself. This person is a holocaust survivor who functions at a very high level on the surface, but effectively conceals a borderline personality disorder characterized by unpredictable private outbursts of enormous rage, verbal and physical abuse. God knows they have very good reasons to be the way they are and are coping remarkably well, given formative years spent under horrifying conditions. I have tremendous compassion and empathy, but after a lifetime of attempts to appease their engulfing neediness, mollify their defensiveness and still achieve anything resembling balance in my own life, I finally realized last month that I just cannot do it.

Now I am dealing with a bizarre mirror situation while preparing for the upcoming arts festival. The material and artists are good, but despite my best efforts I've had escalating confrontations with an artistic director who refuses to accept that as artists we have a right to decide and state what we are and are not willing to do (and then she, of course, has choices w.r.t. how she responds to that information as well). For months now she has refused to hear the word “no” whenever my soprano colleague or I say it; instead she has temper tantrums and then starts to cry!

This person is a truly brilliant poet & composer. Unfortunately she is very disorganized, wasting vast amounts of time being chronically late, scattered, overextended and unprepared, and by repeatedly digressing into her own personal issues in the middle of rehearsals. She is also utterly wrapped up in her personal victim ideation and complains about her vision not being respected, wheedling and using emotional manipulation to get her way, while dismissing our input and concerns.

Also, we have become aware that she tries to play us off against each other. She has actually commented that she cannot fathom our lack of competition and she really seems to resent our mutual support. I’ve been informed by my comrade in this insanity that (among other things) the A.D. actually told her that SHE is giving ME some terrific opportunity (like I need her to build my career?). That's a very interesting notion, since but for a visa snafu 4 years ago with the goodfellas at US immigration flexing their new-found muscles and delaying my application (it's still pending, BTW... LOL), I would have been performing with Des Moines Metro Opera, and as a result might by now be regularly engaged with Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand, et al... Quite frankly, versatile dramatic mezzos don't grow on trees. Okay, then.

... And meanwhile she is regularly bad-mouthing the other soloist to me! Both of us are being told by everyone we know in the biz to get the hell out. We’ve decided to be professional, support each other and just stick it out for this festival, (so as to not let down all the other participants).

So right now I'm just hanging in there for another 10 days and thanking God for my husband/soul-mate/best-friend/biggest-fan, my good friends and colleagues, my excellent therapist, and the ever-growing light at the end of this tunnel. And when I feel ready to do more than seriously contemplate felony homicide: I knit instead. One stitch, two stitches... very zen.

Despite the behind-the-scenes personality issues, the festival (June 8-10) is shaping up to be a fabulous weekend of chamber music, theatre, poetry, folk music and activities on the south shore of Lake Simcoe near Jackson’s Point. Then I will have another completely different concert June 23 with several talented operatic colleagues.

Summer will be slower, but I am planning major household organization & minor repairs, I have a new knitting-pattern design commissioned due mid-summer, and I will have lots of new music to learn and make performance-ready for 3 very different gigs in the fall: a kitshy cabaret-and-popera fundraiser gala for Hospice Thornhill, two concerts (I am also producing these) for Holocaust Education Week, and a preliminary concert of a new piece that’s being written (just for me!) about the visionary Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr.

And hopefully, with my health and the weather cooperating, I'll be increasing my training for September and Weekend to End Breast Cancer.