Friday, March 30, 2007

Making Breast Cancer History
in only 180,000 Steps!

The Weekend to End Breast Cancer:
Toronto - September 8 & 9, 2007
Walking 60 Kilometres in 2 Days

It may seem a long way off, but for me September is peeking around the corner.

I am a classical/theatre/jazz vocalist & actor, an obsessed fibre artist, unrepentant sock-knitting addict, and a chronically verbose blogger. A zaftig woman of surprisingly good health so far, I have spent 40-something years on this earth, most of them sedentary except for a brief period of physical fitness from 2000-02.

If you know me, you know what a tremendous undertaking this is for me. You may not know that in my family tree of genealogical medical histories you'll find the top ten tunes on the obesity-related hit parade, including assorted cardio-pulmonary diseases and cancer. My paternal grandmother was not a lot older than I am now when she developed breast cancer and underwent radical bi-lateral mastectomies. A dozen years later, she developed ovarian/uterine cancer which ultimately metastasized aggressively and took her life.

I am lucky that despite my tendency to Rubenesque proportions I haven't developed any life-threatening complications. But at 40+ I am at a chronological crossroads. So I am undertaking this journey from what is possibly best described as enlightened self-interest: I have some 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.

I’ve already started preparing and training to walk 60 kilometres in two days (for those of you who think in imperial measure, that’s about 37.25 miles). Fear is a pretty powerful motivator and I am not ashamed to admit that I am truly scared. I am not worried about the first day - motivation and camaraderie will prevail...

I am REALLY afraid of waking up on the second day and trying to cajole my rebellious body to go back out there and do it again!

But that’s nothing compared to what hundreds of thousands of women face every year. Remember: one in every nine Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer - maybe even someone special in your life. And increasing numbers of men are being diagnosed with this disease as well.

I am walking to show my solidarity and support with these men and women, to help raise awareness and to raise money to support the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, an international leader in the fight against cancer and the largest institution in Canada devoted to cancer treatment, innovative research, and education programs. These funds raised will be used for ground-breaking research, moving us one step closer to a future without breast cancer.

Each walker must raise at least $2,000 for the cause, but I have set my personal fundraising goal at $5,000. With your help, I can meet and even exceed it. The money we raise makes a real difference in the fight to end breast cancer and to bring breast cancer education, care and research to those that need it most. Thanks to the help of people like you, we are making major headway with research initiatives, gene technologies, the availability of Herceptin, and in finding chemotherapies that are less toxic...not to mention hundreds of other break throughs!

I am posting this in the hope that you will help kick-start my fundraising endeavours for this vital cause by sponsoring me now. As you know, people are more likely to contribute if they see that someone else has done so already. Any and all donations are welcome and appreciated. However, if it is within your means, please consider making a donation of $100 or $200 or more.

Click here to sponsor me
or to use the printable form to mail in your cheque donation. (SORRY, we cannot accept cash) so that together we can help to end this heart-breaking disease for good!

Please feel free to contact me via email or comments regarding this event or anything at all. Thank you for all your support on my journey and your contribution to this cause.

Wishing you and your loved ones all good health, happiness and prosperity.

MezzoDiva the Operatic Knitaholic

Monday, March 26, 2007

Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?

Robyn, our nifty SP10 hostess, has set up a contest for the participants in her group (apparently posting our SP10 questionnaire answers was contest #1):
Contest #2. Please post about your fave knitting accessory!
Talk about it, photograph it, explain how you use it, and why you love it.

My favourite knitting accessory is..... (drumroll, please)

Here's a hint: you're using at it right now...



The internet is my ultimate knitting accessory. It's a resource that serves my knitting needs and enhances my knitting life in so many ways, I think it will be hard to enumerate them, but I'll try:

1. Inspiration - do I really need to spell it out for you?

2. Patterns galore - oodles of free ones (we are apparently a generous bunch) and lots of gorgeous paid downloads (as well as the extremely valuable opportunity for budding designers and self-starting publishers to disseminate their own patterns via e-commerce and thus develop their craft by doing it).

3. Fibre and needles and stitchmarkers... OH, MY! All sorts of wonderful stuff from knitting materials, tools and paraphernalia to knitterly gifts can be purchased, ordered, sold or swapped via the internet.

4. Research - techniques and tutorials, fibre facts, historical information, KALs and more, etc., etc.,...

5. Border-less community building - swaps like SP# and all the wonderful KALs and the myriad knit-blogger rings and...

6. Social Action - Have you seen how much goodness has been raised by knitters' good works initiatives? Go see the total (so far) at the Yarn Harlot's Knitters without Borders. Ever heard of StreetKnit or The Sheltering Stitch,... not to mention the many other like endeavours (as I said, we're a generous bunch).

BTW - has anybody done a comprehensive list or tally of the fibre-arts related charitable initiatives? I'd love to see that.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Weeks ten, eleven & twelve.
[04/3/07-10/3/07]: 10.75 miles
[11/3/07-17/3/07]: 10.75 miles
[18/3/07-24/3/07]: 0.75 miles.

No matter what the calendar says, Today is always the first day of the rest of your life.

Wow! I just read Kelly Jo’s report of her return to active duty after health problems derailed her original plans – and her renewed commitment to 100 miles in 100 days on her own calendar. Go check out what she says about it. I’ll wait.

See? She’s so right and her attitude is most inspiring: it’s really not about any externally imposed calendar or any arbitrary deadline that someone else has set. There is no official magical date on which to start acting on your commitment to your own health, happiness or well-being.

I was demoralized because after proudly bouncing back from several setbacks, last week (number twelve) I just plain flaked (last week's total, week twelve = 3/4 of a mile!).

After that bout of vertigo I had a month ago (week nine: 3 miles), I got back up and put 10.75 miles under my feet both of the next two (weeks ten and eleven). Even with a sprained ankle (my own 17 year recurrent Achilles’ heel, as it were), I was out there treading the pavement.

But last week, I flaked. I walked less than one mile and I didn’t pick up my bike from the shop after its post-winter tune-up. I wallowed in sloth.

And you know what – I just realized that I needed that! The week before last was INTENSE. I had four days of incredibly concentrated creative output in rehearsals as well as another small performance gig and I got a pattern submission in just under the deadline.

So what if I fell off the wagon for a week! I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. And I have already shown myself that I have the inner strength, grit, determination and emotional resilience to go the proverbial distance (even on that sprained ankle).

So I'm up to a total of 62.5 miles so far this year (only walking). I've known for a couple of weeks that I wouldn't make 100 miles on the hoof by April, but I figured on at least 80, and maybe get some or all of the rest on my bike. But after last week’s little unplanned holiday, I suppose I’ll have to settle for 70-75. And do you know what? I’ll settle for that. I don’t have to be an A++ student anymore. I can settle for a B or even a C.

Because I lied. There actually is a magical date to begin (or to begin again) and that’s today. Whatever your goal or desire, whatever change you need to make to reclaim ownership of your life, be it for your health, your relationships, your career, your community, or your spirit – do it. Now. Commit to the first (or next) positive act, the first (or next) block or mile, the first (or next) healthy choice, the first (or next) smile, the opening gesture, the overture, whatever will bring you even one step closer to your own purpose.

As a performing artist I have come to truly admire and respect those who can pick up the ball that was dropped: a good save is worth much more to me than a perfect show (and there never really is one of those, so get over it).

So I am gearing up and on my way out the door. Are you coming with me? I can wait until you get your shoes on.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Keeping my short-row toes crossed.

In case you are a new visitor or you haven't been paying attention keeping up, I will come clean: Hi, my nom-de-blog is MezzoDiva and I am totally obsessed with Dayflower Lace. (please insert the appropriate 12-step program greeting response here).

About 20 years ago I became addicted to knitting the first time, and for a couple of years I was hooked on the line of Pinguoin yarns from France and their pattern books. It was there I first laid eyes on what remains to this day my absolutely most favorite lace pattern. They referred to it as Campanula (Bellflower). You may be familiar with it by the name Dayflower Lace as it is called in Barbara Walker's 2nd Treasury.

I'm addicted. I can't escape it. It haunts me. Whenever I knit other floral/leafy lace motifs, invariably they just do not compare. Sigh. As a result, I can probably knit that DFL in my sleep! In a (failed) attempt to exorcise (or at least alleviate) the obsession, I recently created a sock using the DFL and named the pattern "Campanula" for nostalgic reasons.

After much trepidation (do I even dare?...) I submitted the design to Knitty last week, sometime around 1:00 am the night before the summer issue deadline (which is why the early preview pix on my blog have been temporarily removed). It's my first design submitted anywhere for public consumption, so wish me luck!

I have to thank all my sock test-knitters - you all did me proud!

First was the intrepid and swift Lisa, who cut through her first Campanula like it was butter and whose eagle-eye found the first typos. She's no slouch, our Lisa!

After some initial false starts, Carol's Campanula came along beautifully and she was soon able to show some fancy legwork. Carol too found some eratta for me - whew! Carol also claimed she was a lace neophyte. (Snort.) Yeah. Sure, Carol. Whatever you say. She also has an unfortunate propensity to channel Bill Haley and the Comets (“We’re gonna lace-around-the-clock tonight…”), but we can forgive that because she’s so darned nice dammit.

I met up with (blogless) Shelna at Knitomatic's SnB a few weeks ago and we discussed some modifications. Shelna is an extraordinarily even knitter (domo arrigato, knitster roboto), but somehow her double decreases weren't coming out evenly: her SK2Ps were dramatically tighter than her K3TOGs, with the result that on one side the lace looked beautifully even, but on the mirrored panel the bell-flowers were looking rather drunkenly slurred. We replaced the SK2Ps with a K3TOG(TBL) to correct that problem. I was doing that on my newest pair of Campanulas and it's much more elegant, so I put that mod into the final version.

And last but certainly not least, the amazing agile Angela whipped up her own Campanula, caught a couple more of my pattern errata (when I could no longer see the trees for the forest), and tried out the sizing adjustment for me.

These lovely ladies all found my typos, corrected my mistakes, gave me oodles of useful feedback and challenged me to think through and justify each design choice. As I refined my pattern to make it ready for prime time, I incorporated all their input.

I am more grateful than I can say.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Everybody in the pool!

Ugh! The subtitle to this post should be: How to turn perfectly lovely yarn into some fugly crap.

I've been knitting a standard short-row toe-up sock a la Wendy J. with that gorgeous "Cha Cha" yarn I showed you last time. In the plain stockinette I've got 64 sts around (on 2.0 mm needles).

My poor little sock started to go horribly wrong very soon after I left the toe , but I just kept going round and round, hoping the pooling would somehow (magically) sort itself out.

It hasn't. I'm getting vast areas of stripes in white, white and black, and on the other side stripes in grey, grey and light blue (which looks like murky blue slush).

Here's the other side:

I got so turned off it last night that I put it away and dug into the Manos vest for DH (okay, so he'll wear it next winter).

But my mind is churning over the pooling problem: I need to find an enjoyable way to coerce this beautiful yarn into showing some better striping distribution. DH suggested working with two balls at a time, alternating every couple of rounds, but I'm not sure I want to go that route. Maybe I should try a wavy motif or a zig-zag pattern. Hmmm... True, I may be one of the only sock-knitters in the western world who hasn't yet made a pair of Jaywalkers.

Help! If anyone out there reads this and has a suggestion or has made something with this yarn - please let me know. I need ideas!

Instead of moping I decided to visit my fellow knit-bloggers for some cheering up. Sure enough, that did the trick. I found the perfect antidote for my petulant mood when I saw the following link over at Laura's. Check out this video: Gangsta Knitters.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Project Spectrum 2007
February/March: Blue, White, Grey.
Okay, Ma'am. Move along.
Nothing to see here.

The grey SRK Monkey scarf WIP is officially on hold. I'm just not feeling the fun fur right now, especially with it being nearly the official start of spring. Sue me.

But I definitely want both a pair of armwarmers or fingerless-mitts and a cozy earwarmer/headband in the soft blue-grey worsted Misti Alpaca. It's still cold enough here for me to need them for my walks. And so I have a pattern dilemna: I want cables. Nice and intricate cabling to provide density for warmth and also aesthetic interwoven beauty. I've tried out several nice cabled patterns, but the alpaca makes the cables blurry unless the ribs are quite wide.

I really should be working on a nice vest I promised to make for DH with the repurposed beautiful blue/multi Manos (colour #111). But again I am stuck deciding on a simple pattern that will let this gorgeous yarn be the star. I have narrowed the field down to two favourite plans: I'm thinking it will be either in Entrelac or maybe just a simple regular 5 by 2 rib?...

In case you couldn't tell: my Project Spectrum plans for February and March were rather severely side-swiped by my new obsession with fair isle and learning to do stranded knitting well. I've tried a few swatches (sorry, no pix) and I think I'm going to love this stuff.

But I need to get my technique in the groove. My knitting has to have an element of flow in the mechanics for it to be truly satisfying. It's a meditative experience for me: the action needs to be on cruise control, whether my brain is on vacation with a simple stockinette or analytically challenged with pattern complexities.

After exploring various possible fair-isling strategies and gadgets, I realized the simplest skill-based approach is best for me. You may have one that suits you better - no judgement is implied. I'm a big believer in whatever works for you and if it ain't broke... But I love the basic two-handed Fair Isle technique video tutorial from the Philosophers Wool website. In a little under ten minutes, Ann Bourgeois demonstrates with very clear instructions how to do two-handed two-colour knitting. After watching her carefully a couple of times the penny suddenly dropped and I get it. Really, I do. This does not, however, mean that I can actually do it. Yet.

Sigh. She makes it look so easy to do stranded two-colour work this way. But you really need to build up that double-handed dexterity since essentially the right hand is working English style (aka - throwing) and the left hand is doing the Continental aka - (picking). It's an equal opportunity pain in the learning-curve: whichever style of knitting you habitually use, you'll need to become comfortable with the other.

I'm a picker. My German-speaking Romanian grandmother taught me how to knit the Continental style, which is very ergonomic with an inherent economy of motion that allows for some very fast and even knitting. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that in recent years I have secretly become rather smug about being practically the bionic knitter (better, stronger, faster). Well pride goeth before a fall. Despite being otherwise right handed, I find throwing or wrapping with the right hand incredibly counter-intuitive: it just crosses the wires in my knitting brain and something shorts out unless I concentrate very very hard. My brow furrows, my jaw clenches, my palms sweat.

I am not finding it fun. It's a little like practicing piano scales (don't even ask!) with your non-dominant hand for the first time - while wearing stiff padded gloves. But I figure I need to become comfortable (dare I say perhaps even proficient) in English style if I want to embrace this wonderful method of stranded knitting and thereby avoid the tangled mess I get when both yarns come from the same side.

So I'm going back to some of my Project Spectrum plans for project ideas to work out the kinks with my right handed English.

February/March Project Spectrum colours are Blue, White and Grey. The SP9 sock yarn "ChaCha" from Perchance to Knit is perfect Project Spectrum material: fine fingering-weight Kona superwash merino in a handpainted silver-grey, black, white and icy blue. Mmmm... Yummy project spectrum socks.

However, I think I would rather start to practise English style on something bigger than size 0 (2mm) needles. There's enough potential for cramping without asking for it. I need a project with a lot of straight stockinette, either flat or in the round,and probably in a worsted weight to begin with. After that I will do a simple sock to really get the hang of keeping the working yarn tension without cramping up my right hand. But first...?

I'm open to suggestions. Any ideas?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

SP10 Questionnaire Here we go again!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I’m not a yarn snob, but I do prefer soft natural fibers or good blends. I adore cushy merino for socks, wool-silk blends for pullovers/cardis/wraps, soft cottons for summery stuff. Last fall I fell passionately for worsted Misti Alpaca, winter shifted into cushier merinos for cabling and marvelous Manos. I’m enjoying some of the new merino-tencel and bamboo blends for socks. My SP9 recently sent me some sinfully soft Karabella Chameleon (merino with silk and cashmere!) and I am seriously considering reversing my previous opinion on knitted underwear!

While I love a good FO, the tactile and meditative qualities of the knitting process are 99% of the experience for me, so I don’t enjoy knitting with scratchy yarns even if I know they’ll soften up after a wash. Acrylic leftovers from the 80’s live on in my stash, but I won’t buy them anymore. (Well, to be perfectly honest, there is some purpley/magenta worsted mystery-fibre stuff from a more recent sale bin – it’s got a pretty sheen and it’s nice and soft but a little squeaky on some needles so I suspect there’s a rayon or silky component combined with some acrylic). But it really all depends on the project.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Good question. Let’s see: I have a large plastic tube needle case with about half of my straight needles, the narrower ones. The larger ones are in their packages in an old Pingouin heavy duty plastic shopping bag I keep for nostalgia. My circulars and sock needles are in a separate smaller plastic Ziploc bag, along with my point protectors, stitch holders and stitch markers. I’m contemplating moving it all into a new and better storage system, perhaps by repurposing a picnic basket or a retro valise, but I haven’t found the right one yet. Oh, yeah - my cable needles, a crochet hook and Chibis are all in my purse just in case I get a mad urge to cable, fix a dropped stitch or do my seaming while in transit.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I consider myself a clever intermediate knitter with advanced aspirations. I am congenitally incapable of following a pattern without altering or tweaking it. I can be rather capricious so almost all of my projects go off on a different tangent than originally intended. But I love the process as they evolve.

I learned to kit in childhood from my grandmother - continental style with a long tail cast on which is still my favourite. But I REALLY got hooked on knitting twenty years ago (and was fatally attracted to the long departed Pingouin yarn shop in the great big downtown mall, hence the nostalgic shopping bag). However, after a very bad experience resulting in the furious wanton disposal of lots of perfectly lovely navy blue cotton that took the fall for betraying my na├»ve gaugeless efforts, I dropped knitting for a while. About five years ago I got an itch to knit again and it’s been a consuming passion for about four years now.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes - see the link on my sidebar to

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
I don’t like very flowery or heavy spicy scents, and though I adore vanilla as a flavour, it makes me gag in scented ambience or body products. I adore Sandalwood, Bergamot, Citrus, and Tropical cents. My current bath soaps are Coconut from the Body Shop and a Sandalwood soap found in little Chinese stores; my shower gel is Life Brand Coconut-Lime body wash.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
If it’s made of/with or wrapped in chocolate, I will probably eat anything. I love dark chocolate truffles and alpine milk chocolate. Caramel/toffee, nuts and coconut go over well. Other candies just don’t do it for me. I usually share with the DH, but when I discovered Toblerone in a dark chocolate, I seriously considered hiding the bar.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
Though I haven’t done it yet, I have lately been more and more attracted to felting and hope to do some this year – maybe a gorgeous carpet bag and some slippers for the DH. I am also very keen to dye some yarn, and I recently got some dyes and bare sock weight merino from Knitpicks. And I plan to over-dye some yarns in my stash whose colours are making me less than happy at the moment (what was I thinking?).

I do not spin, although I admire those who do and I occasionally purchase some beautiful handspun. I don’t really need to acquire one more fiber addiction at the present, however spinning and weaving are both on my learning-to-do list... Of course, with wicked enabling intentions, my SP9 pal recently sent me a lovely hand spindle and some soft undyed blue-faced Leicester roving. So at least I have someone to blame.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s?
I like ALL genres of music, but I’m not much into contemporary rap unless it is non-violent, non-misogynistic and it has a strong poetic message. I can play CDs and MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
That’s a trick question. My favourite colours vary with my mood and the season. Mostly, I love the way different shades, tones and colours play off each other more than I do any particular individual colour. Right now I am passionate about the variegated effects of some Fleece Artist Kidsilk in a colourway called Cosmic Dawn, which flows through shades of charcoal, smoky purple, magenta, turquoise, teal, smoky green, and gold.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I am married, and we have no kids or pets – just one overly-anthropomorphized teddy bear (custody issues regarding the bear have prevented marital dissolution more than once). Actually, I am very much in love with this wonderful man who has shown the courage in recent years to manifest and become my soul mate, the inner being I recognized in him 23.5 years ago despite all of our mutual baggage.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear scarves, hats, mittens. I also wear capes, but not ponchos. I’m rather zaftig (size 22-24) and only 5’3, so ponchos are not a flattering shape. But capes work well.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I’m a SOCKAHOLIC. I used to suffer from single sock syndrome, but Socktoberfest and recent experiments in design motivated me to make up the pairs and cured that disorder. I enjoy knitting tunics, tank-tops, cardigans, wraps, scarves, armwarmers. I’m considering a skirt or two this year. I haven’t been into purses, but lately I’m craving a nice large felted gag with some intarsia (which I also avoid). I’m also hoping to do a lace shawl, which I haven’t done yet.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I am knitting a few different socks, some armwarmers, a couple of scarves/wraps. Body-fitting garment projects are on temporary hiatus pending further progress with current fitness-and-weightloss endeavours.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Well, Duh! YEAH. Yep. Yes. Uh huh... Seriously, does anyone really NOT like to receive handmade gifts? Okay, perhaps an unfortunate handmade gift experience in childhood has scarred some people, but that should be easy to remedy.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I usually gravitate to circular needles, though I use all of the above except for plastic which irritates me. It depends on the project, the fiber and my mood. Whatever works best for the present needs.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
A ball winder followed me home last fall. No swift yet – just the human (me or DH) kind.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
What decade is this?

18. What is your favorite holiday?
My birthday, but any holiday that results in gifts and cake makes me happy.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
These days it's all about yarn, needles and patterns. I am trying to avoid going overboard, but not very successfully. Knitting has become my drug of choice. I suppose there are worse addictions.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? See my wishlist (it's linked on the sidebar).

I used to subscribe to Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting, but now I just buy them at Knitomatic – the owner is terrific and so I want to support her business as much as I can.

I am pining for Anna Zilboorg’s sock patterns. Unfortunately, my library has none of her sock books. Socks for Sandals and Clogs is not hard to find, but what I really want is a copy of either Fancy Feet: Traditional Knitting Patterns of Turkey or the reprint of that which is called Simply Socks: 45 traditional Turkish patterns to knit.

I'm intrigued by the new Addi lace circulars with the red cord and clear-coated bronze tips. I have some of the size 2.5mm in 32" length, and will try using them for magic loop socks. Then, if I like them, I will probably get some of the other sizes in longer lengths for fair-isle and lace projects.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I am a stranded-knitting neophyte just starting my first stranded project – a headband ear-warmer. I previously avoided multi-colour knitting unless it was conveniently printed or painted onto a single continuous string for me. Determined to lose my fair-isle virginity, I joined the Fair Isle February KAL and though I did no actual stranded knitting in February, I embarked on full immersion fair-isle studies. There are more than a dozen books I am pouring over, with several still in transit from the library.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
See answer to #12. And did you notice my blog url? it’s “sockit-tome”. My feet are size 8.5 and I have rather wide ankles due to several bad sprains in previous years. I don’t have more specific measurements: I knit my socks toe-up so I just try then on as I go and adjust accordingly.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
I am a true Leo, born on the first day of August in the Chinese year of the Dragon, among the last of the post-WW2 baby-boomers.
I was born on the day the final Looney Tune, "Senorella and the Glass Huarache", was released (before Warner Brothers cartoon division was shut down by Jack Warner). Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Promises, promises.

Despite my best intentions to show off all the lovely SP9 loot I received from Laura, the swag didn’t have a close encounter with my digital camera for weeks! In my defense, there have been few days of coincidental good light and image capturing opportunity. But that’s a poor and shoddy excuse for not sharing her exquisite taste and generosity with all the bloggerly inclined.

We eventually had our photo-shoot last week and then I was knocked down with the whole room spinning thing... excuses, excuses... I will now (finally) post a detailed pictorial spread to tantalize you with the exquisite stuff she sent me. Feel free to drool and turn green with envy.

I opened my first package to find a gorgeous box-board valise decorated with images of exotic clay pottery. Inside were exquisite goodies, starting with this skein of luscious handpainted merino-mohair, a.k.a. Schaefer Yarn's Anne.

Along with that, there was a very heavy overstuffed box of Evelyn's hand-dipped chocolate truffles - sorry, no pix, they are long long gone (terrific boozy ones - all the important food groups were covered). And last but not least the Classic Elite book 9075 Luxe, which contains the pattern for my coveted curvy cabled cardigan!

My next package arrived near the end of January (and yes I did send a thank you note at the time). This box was practically overflowing with fibre goodness and various indulgences. Let's see with the whole shebang, then I'll break it down for you.

First the yarns. She sent me some gorgeous handpainted merino from Chewy Spaghetti AND two skeins of what might have become my new favourite thing in the whole world (if I could find more of it, which I doubt - I think it's discontinued): Karabella Chameleon, a dk/light-worseted merino with 20% silk and 10% cashnmere. Seriously - this stuff really might make me change my mind about knitted underwear. Sooooo soooooooft.

There was yummy pampering body scrub and body butter from the Body Shop in a tropical fruity scent. Also shown here is the card I received with a photo of her lovely baby girl. Since it's a partial nude, it goes here in the bath and body segment. I call this masterpiece "Becky-in-a-Bag."

A box of fancy sea-creature organic Belgian chocolates and a fabulous assortment of teas, as well as an appropriately titled book of decadent recipes (I gained 10 pounds just leafing through it!)

And last but not least some nifty polar bear stitch markers, travel size Soak samples, as well this lovely soft undyed wool roving (blue-faced leicester) and a truly beautiful hand spindle.

She's evil! Seriously - if I'd been paying more attention I would definitely have nominated her for a best pal award. Since I'm a SP newbie, I suppose she'll just have to settle for my deepest thanks and delight for spoiling me irredeemably rotten.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Runagogo! Week number nine.
A setback. I am unbalanced.

[25/2/07-03/3/07]: 3 miles.
40.5 miles down. 59.5 more to go.

This week’s obstacles included major menstrual cramps and headaches (though no migraine), snow storms and freezing rain, and then a three-day bout of vertigo.

Vertigo. It’s as though the room around me is spinning while my body is stationary. With my eyes shut, it feels like I’m spinning or moving; when they’re open, my environment seems to whirl counterclockwise past my field of vision. The symptoms are triggered by movement, worst when rolling over in bed, looking up, or bending over. When I’m not feeling worried or scared, it’s actually quite a fascinating phenomenon.

Given that, I’m satisfied with the 3 miles I did manage this week. It means I am just under sixty miles from the goal. With just four weeks left to April 1, I would need to get in 15 miles a week, so I might not get there after all. But I am farther along than I would be if I hadn’t started this walking project. And it doesn’t really end in April. This is just the start of a lifetime commitment to get up and move!

Meanwhile, I suppose it all depends on whether (or how soon) the vertigo goes away. It has diminished today, allowing me to finally get out for a short walk, but symptoms returned after we’d gone 1.5 miles so that became the finish line. And yes, if it persists I will go to see a doctor early next week. Actually, I’ll go even if the symptoms pass. Just to check things out.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Fair Isle Virgin now Smitten with Stranded

I'm still a bit behind - just starting my first project - but I am really loving the learning and planning stage and will be happily stranded on from now on. Fair Isle February Forvever!!!

Currently, I am enjoying full immersion in fair-isle studies. There are more than half a dozen books I am pouring over, with at least as many still in transit from the library. Here's just a taste of what's filling my head with visions of delight these days: