Monday, January 30, 2006

Coolest WIP of 2006

I mean really -- does it get any more hand-bitingly adorable? I particularly like the WIP against the background of the red towel and the blue tiles. That look on her face? Might be the "enough with the goddamn pictures" expression. I have to hand it to her: she was an extremely good sport, as you can see from the next shot:
It was M and D's 35th on Saturday, so we sent photo greetings from Junior.

While in town, Lindz ate all the green seedless grapes she could get her mitts on, snapped up a caseload of pre- and post-natal vitamins to take back to France, and bought 32 cloth diapers -- the French are all about disposables, apparently. Also ten novels, because she and Pez are starved for books in English. And yarn, bien sur! We headed to Romni (cf.) on Friday, where the approximately 50 people working in the shop (the place was jammed with staff) ALL praised Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, so Lindz snapped up a bunch of Barn Red for a baby blanket. But there were setbacks.
The ersatz perfect yarn split like crazy, even in the swatch, and the knitter thought it felt too much like dishcloth and not enough like blanny. What with the infant kicking from the inside and the yarn splitting on the outside...well, she scrapped the Barn Red and exchanged it on Sunday for some Red Baron superwash worsted wool, which looks more promising, judging from the swatch.

I stuck to the yarn sanctions, despite TWO trips to Romni in 72 hours, and am still smugly stitching up the stash. There'd be pictures, but blogger is fractious and won't post them right now. Besides, it's time to tuck up in bed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You gotta eat.

Since quitting my job on the 4th of July (yeah, nice coincidence) I've started feeding like some kind of itinerant animal...when the food is plentiful, I'm at it all the time. When it's not, I make do with what I can forage from the high shelves and the back of the fridge. The bulk raisins are now gone, as is the milk and the last can of tuna. You'd think I'd grocery shop, now that my time is my own, but it seems I'd rather test the limits of what's palatable on toast. Mind you, I'll have to get groceries in the morning for La Soeur Francaise: she's put in a request for seedless grapes, which the French must stop importing in the winter.

Elena (my knitting-buddy-from-the-internet) and I went to the Knit Cafe tonight where we drank tea and I pulled back one triangle of the multi-directional malabrigo scarf [lime blue] and did half a repeat of the falling leaves malabrigo scarf [black]. Love the KC, but the snax are totally inadequate. What that place needs is a pizza joint next door.

Right. Off to forage and then finish that repeat. Photos of the pregnant chick tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quel Bordel

Yep, I'm cleaning house. The French have some great expressions, and one of my faves is "Quel bordel!": literally, "what a brothel!" and figuratively, "this place is one hell of a mess!" French houses of ill-repute: are they particularly untidy? I don't know anyone I could ask. But if a French person dropped by this place on most days, he or she would be thinking "QB" if not saying it out loud.

Anyway, what with the little sister arriving on Thursday for her first visit to the new nest, it's time to de-bordel it, so I'm shoveling paper and reorganizing clothes and alphabetizing the CDs (will she notice or care? unlikely) and breaking out the Mr. Clean. Tomorrow I lay in groceries and plan an agenda of Toronto activities.

(Now that I think about it, the British sometimes talk about "sluttish" or "slatternly" housekeeping... maybe it's a cross-cultural slur against the oldest profession.)

One lucky victim of the cleaning campaign: my Teva Durham polar vest. Here we see it post-Euculan bath and finally blocking on the ironing board. Not sure why it and the entire house look so yellow. I swear I'm going to get better with this camera. I loved knitting this vest, and I hope it looks reasonable on. The yarn is lovely, and in the yarn suitcase I have ten red balls of it (eBay impulse), so I'm on the hunt for something else to make out of it. Maybe a parka-style sweater with a zipper?

Right. Must get back to busting the bordel.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Deja Blue All Over Again

I'm parked in front of the CBC watching the election results come in and it looks like the Conservatives are out of the doghouse and back in charge. The numbers keep shifting across the bottom of the screen, but the Tories are up 20ish seats on the Liberals. B.C. hasn't come in yet, so the gap will get bigger...but with any luck the NDP will hold the balance of power. I'm still waiting for them to show Parkdale-High Park.

ANYway, in more cheerful news, we have this:

That's the Noro scarf from Amy...isn't it pretty? It's a lousy shot, because I'm still an amateur with the new camera, but believe me, it's fab. Here's a closer shot. I think I'll go put it on to watch the B.C. results come in.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

London Calling

Am just back from London, where I spent a weekend at Victoria and Waterloo, walking along the Thames, cruising get the picture. The wrong picture, mind you: it was a whirlwind trip to London Ontario, where everything is named for everything in the original London (it's a bit creepy, really...Pall Mall can't possibly measure up), and where Amy is a history professor. I managed to forget the new camera, in part because I'm not used to having it and in [slightly larger] part because I was hung over something awful on Friday morning and packed in a blur. I did bring the almost-complete Marilyn's NSSC and Amy loved it, even with the ends unwoven and the buttons not on. I finished it up Saturday morning and blocked it in the afternoon: next time she comes here for a visit, there'll be photos! And tomorrow there'll be photos of the gorgeous basketweave scarf and cowl that she made me out of Noro Cash Iroha in "midnight." It's a beautiful colour and they're soooooo soft. I wore them all weekend, inside and outside.

Heaps of other knitting content: I brought a bunch of books and all the malabrigo in the house. [Can't wait for the yarn diet to end, because I am going to go on one unholy Uruguayan binge, let me tell you.] Anywho, the books. This one, an Xmas gift from M and D -- I want to put a decorative edge on everything -- and this favourite that I bought in Philadelphia last June. Plus these two from the library. Then we hunkered down on the couch and watched 1) Funny Face, 2) Brigadoon, 3) Grey Gardens, and 4) Moonstruck. I finished the lime blue Malabrigo hat and started Annie Modessitt's backyard leaves scarf...3 of 22 repeats done. WIP photo tomorrow in the daylight.

This week I have some work lined up for Monday and Tuesday, election-results-watching on Monday night, and a whole lot of scrubbing up the house and cooking of tasty things for my little sister, who arrives from France on Thursday WITH my niece/nephew-in-progress. Very excited to see Lindz knocked up: more excellent photo ops.

Good grief, it's seven past midnight: must put myself to bed. What is this, some kind of after-hours glam rock blog?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Still Life with Classics

At Christmas, my mother asked me if I wanted all those Greek her ongoing purge-the-house-of- children's-crap campaign (also known as the "Your Dad and I Aren't Running a Museum" initiative), her narrow gaze fell on ten or twelve Penguins that I bought in '89 for Classics 101 -- a team-taught survey course that introduced punk undergrads to the Greeks and Romans. Great course, especially Anthony Barrett's lectures on The Aeneid. I haven't had a lot of use for my copies of Plutarch, Herodotus, and the gang in the intervening years, but they're classics for pete's sake, and I liked knowing they were back at the homestead. Made me feel smart when I visited. Well, there's no flies on my mother, and my strategy to avoid taking the books (leaving them on the shelf downstairs) didn't work -- she paid the $16 to send them across the country and have them live at my house. Hmmph. Chagrined, I was. Though she softened me up a little by sending some xmas cake in the package...I'm almost mollified. And I've started watching "I, Claudius" on DVD this week, so maybe I'll look through the books and find out if Livia really was so evil.

The whole "I, Claudius" series is something like 800 minutes long, and I've made it through episodes 1-3 while racing to finish the cardigan for Amy. It's now officially a garment, as you can see from this brown blob:
Today while on an interminable conference call I finished up second sleeve (the upside to working at home) and now I'm down to hems and button bands and possibly ruffles -- I'm going to wait on those and let Amy decide whether she wants them. I think they're quite cute, but she might not. Tomorrow I need to find the Perfect Buttons. And block the thing. Might be weaving in ends on the bus down to London.

After this, I'm going to finish a Malabrigo hat I have on the go (colour: Lime Blue...Bonne Marie would adore it) and then make the fabulous scarf that's on the front of Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Malabrigo (black, to go with my weird collection of pink, red, green coats). Looooove the Malabrigo. Can't wait to go off the yarn diet and snap up some more. Might bully my sister into buying some when she comes to visit next week...she's pregnant and therefore can't run away from my yarn evangelism.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

In Training

I've joined the Harlot's Olympic Challenge: my hard-but-not-impossible-I-hope project is Kiri, which I'll knit out of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in bittersweet. The yarn was going to be a clapotis for someone in the ex-bf's family, but plans have changed because that would be a bit like stalking, given that he and I are no longer keeping company. [Good grief: it's just occurred to me that I may be a victim of the Boyfriend Curse...for xmas I knit him an Irish hiking scarf and a ski toque. And here I thought it was only sweaters. Loved that scarf, too -- it'd be wrong to demand it back, wouldn't it?]

Anyway, on the upside, I now have this lovely luxury yarn to make something for me me me. Very excited to get started on it and MUCH MORE excited at the thought of working to finish it before the closing I like the idea that 500+ other crazed knitters will be out in the world watching skeleton and bobsledding and ice dancing and knitting things that are a little hard for them. I'm all for hard projects, and the blog world seems to be the place to find them and see others working on them (cf. Wendy, just for starters). You can't swing a circ in your lys without hitting another Big Book of Garter Stitch Blobs for Newbies and I think it's boring. Sure, big market of novices out there and they need inspiration, but even if you're just starting out, don't you want to look at projects that make you nervous? It's like reading cookbooks. I'd rather read a recipe for profiteroles than leaf through the Jello Collection anyday. No disrespect to gelatin treats, either.

Speaking of things that are hard to do, here's my smart and beautiful friend M
arlis all ready for her interview at a Major Canadian University. She's up for a tenure-track position -- the gold medal for academics -- and the interview is Olympian, all right. She started this morning with a job talk [academic paper presented to the department], then gave a lecture to a class of 82 undergrads, met with the Head of the Department and the Dean of Arts, had lunch and assorted coffee/donut encounters over the course of the day, and I think she's probably in the interview proper right now. Then it's off for dinner with the interview committee. I expect her back tonight around 9PM and plan to pour either herbal tea or scotch into her (she gets to choose). Tomorrow she goes back to Philadelphia to her husband and their 6-month-old and her post-doc at Penn. She's astonishing!

Last night I was working on the cardigan for Amy and she said something along the lines of "I really have to get back to knitting...I just let it lapse...." Babe, one Olympic sport at a time.
I'm convinced she'll land this job: the committee is probably offering it to her right this minute.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Million Little Pieces of Zara

The first of my hard-won extra Zaras appears to be fifty bits of yarn knotted together. Plus, dye lot matters! Not sure if this is going to work as a design principle.

And: my book club is divided on James Frey. But really, if, ten years after the fact, I wrote a memoir about six weeks of rehab, would I be any more reliable? I did wonder, while reading it, how Frey could possibly remember every meal he ate at the clinic. The gritty crack stories, the dentist appointment from hell, the motley crowd of loveable if terrifying buddies: those would stick with you. But the fish sticks?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

When In Doubt, Tape it to the Fridge

I'd like to see a Venn diagram of the overlap between knitters and packrats. I'll bet the shaded area would be really, really big. Today, several days post-break up [hate rejection: hate it!] I ate two fortifying scones and opened up the boxes that I've been toting from apartment to apartment lo these many years. (Not that the bad man who rejected me was around long enough to generate much packratted material...but he provoked a purge urge and I was going to grab it.)

I managed to part with enough paper to fill a big black garbage bag, including such treasures as a blank calendar page for December 1996 on which I had helpfully written "Christmas" on the 25th. It was otherwise empty, and I figure I'll remember the date of Xmas '96, so I chucked it. Also on their way out: postcards from friends I can't remember, a notebook of grocery lists (don't care what I was eating as an undergraduate), and the student evaluations from my ten-minute career teaching Shakespeare. I'm keeping all love letters, everything from family members, wedding invitations, and my English 100 essays -- which are handwritten on foolscap (you can't throw out FOSSILS).

But what to do with things like the envelope of Peanuts cartoons? I've always loved the ones with Snoopy on his typewriter and can't quite get rid of'd be expensive to replace them and besides, I like them on newsprint. So they're on the fridge...probably their last stop, but I'll see them every time I go for an icecube.

Post-purge I worked on sleeve
#2 of the NSSC and I'll be back on it tonight in front of the tube. Must finish by Thursday!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Quest for Fibre

My final Christmas present is almost finished (yeah, late)...and horrible horrible horrible I'm running out of yarn. Like the rest of the knitting world, I'm on a yarn diet, but surely topping up for an existing project doesn't count, right?

I'm making Knit and Tonic Wendy's "Marilyn's Not-So-Shrunken Cardigan" (great pattern) for my friend Amy, but I've substituted Zara for the Elsebeth Lavold tweedy silk.
The gauge, yardage, weight, etc all match but there's no denying the dwindling pile of Zara, so today I was on the hunt for more chocolatey brown shade 1663. Never mind that it's minus a hundred and I'm carless [why drive when you can Ride the Rocket?]: I have a new digital camera and a deadline that has already whizzed by.

Now, Toronto is the Florence of knitting, we're told, and we have a heap of LYSs to support the Renaissance, but damn: if Leonardo had had to cover the miles that I did to find the last tube [did they have tubes?] of paint for the Mona Lisa, the Louvre might be a lot less crowded today.

First stop: Back to the source of my 8 balls of Zara. Here we have the paradiso/inferno of knitting in T.O.:
Imagine the most yarn you can and then double it, and you're close to picturing Romni. My mother thinks it's a firetrap, and it's true that you don't want to get preoccupied in the merino aisle and forget to check for exits. The staff varies from lovely (Laura -- so nice! Jonathan -- darling new dad!) to surly as hell but most local knitters put up with the spotty customer service because they have So Much Yarn.

But not Zara 1663...nope, not even in a different dye lot. EVERY OTHER shade, natch.

Anyway, moving right along, I zipped by streetcar and subway to this place. Wedged between the barber and the PizzaPizza [heh heh]: see the sign in the window? Yep, 50% off everything in stock -- the owner is packing it in and selling to someone who's going to run a yarn shop but doesn't want the inventory. It's a dream: I'll find the Zara for HALF PRICE. Yep, a dream...she doesn't have a shred of Zara. Dang and blast.

Okay, no problem, I'm a professional, don't mind the frostbite, thrilled to get back on public transit....

Well, I suppose I'm a bit of a drama queen, because I only had to go another six stops to find Village Yarns [where I forgot to take a picture because my blood sugar was low and I'd lost feeling in my fingertips] and praise be they had a profusion of Zara and several 1663s. Plus, it's a nice little shop with an assortment of solicitous women to help out. I'll go back, in the spring when it's warm and the stash is more svelte.

The dyelot isn't the same (I couldn't even find a PHOTO of the right colour), but to hell with it: I'm going to use it on the hems, edging, button bands, and ruffles. And call it a design choice.

Friday, January 13, 2006

An Early Knitting Lesson

I'm the bald one. On the left is my mother, a mere slip of a girl herself -- if I'm six or eight months in this pic, Mum is about 23. Isn't she darling? I can't say I remember this lesson (though I remember subsequent siblings using that yellow saucer to get around) but I've always been easily influenced, so I'm glad it was knitting, rather than, say, skeet shooting.