Friday, November 28, 2008

Lame Duck Post

Yarnpiggy tagged me for a knitting meme...and having nothing original to say for myself, I'm gladly (and finally!) taking up the here goes!

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with?
Hmmm.....Malabrigo sock would be one. Not as stretchy as some, but not splitty or any unpleasantness like that, and it feels soooooo sexy on the hands! (And feets, too!) I also really like BMFA Socks that Rock. A lot.

Your favorite needles?
I am luuurving my new Harmony circs! And they look so pretty in the yarn.

The worst thing you've ever knit?
Ummm....well....there was this stole I knit for a family friend a few years ago for Christmas. I had no idea what I was doing, really, I was still a very novice knitter. I used acrylic boucle -which was, to be fair, nice and soft - but a nightmare for a noob to be using! Especially with a project of that size. Knit lengthwise, entirely in garter stitch. On needles that were probably a size too small. And I didn't really understand why one should cast off loosely, so it was a very...ummmm....interesting geometric shape in the end.

Bless her, the recipient never said a word about it, and wore it all day. Don't know if she's put it on since, and don't want to know if I want to know! I'm knitting her something a little extra special this year, to make up for it.

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
Tuscany, once I got the hang of it. Easily-memorized sock patterns (NOT Charades!).

Most valuable knitting technique?
Learning how to pick up a dropped/missed yarn over. Also, lifelines.

Best knit book or magazine?
I'm honestly not all that familiar with a lot of knitting books or magazines. I read Interweave Knits, of course, and might just ask for a subscription for my birthday one of these years...On my wee knitting bookshelf, one of my favourite finds was a seriously discounted copy of Knitting Nature. (And, of course, the Yarn Harlot books...!)

Your favorite knit-a-long?

Umm...yeah...well...I do tend to jump on a lot of bandwagons, but have yet to see one through. The NaKniSweMo was a bomb - though I did accomplish my intended goal of knitting too much of a sweater not to finish it! Does the Ravelympics count? Coz that was way fun!

Your favorite knitwear designer?

???? No opinion.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)

Socks, of course! These two pairs in particular are my current faves:
The Smooshy Charades:
And the Malabrigo River Rapids:
Though the frequent wearing-of-the-socks is also due to the freezing temperature in my morning classrooms.

There. That's about all I've got for you at the moment. Coffee is waiting, and a pile of dishes and unfolded laundry. Good times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't forget to floss!

A few quick, largely non-knitting notes...International Potluck at the school last week...I cooked up slices of elk sausage, and added a dish of maple syrup for dipping. YUM! Mr.Q earned a taste by doodling some cards to go with:

I'm not sure that the animal depicted wasn't a cross between an elk and the Grinch's dog, but it did the trick.

Dad was in town tonight for work, and Mr.Q and I, Sis & her husband all met up on Granville Island for some tasty burgers and beer. I tried to take a picture, and I think, if you look closely at the red eyes, you will notice that my sister appears to be a demon. I'm not sure, but I think the possibility bears further investigation.

Then we talked about weird, kind of gross things, and laughed so hard we could hardly breathe. I will never be able to hear the term "butt floss" again without collapsing helplessly in giggles. My stomach still hurts! It was fun.

Then, we found Greenland in B-I-L's beer:

It was just that kind of an evening.

Tomorrow: a whole lot o' nuthin', with some knitting and maybe squash soup thrown into the mix for fun. Also, for breakfast, some tasty pastries from the French bakery on Granville Island.

Which, incidentally, had these really cool-looking, round loaves of very, very dark bread for sale. I, thinking they were some kind of hard-core pumpernickel, asked about them. Mr.Q & I have a weakness for bread so dense you could build a house out of it, and this looked perfect! wasn't pumpernickel. It was sourdough. With - I kid you not - squid ink in it.

I didn't buy the bread.

Random cat shot of Brigid helping me change the cover on the couch:


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two out of three ain't bad

Civic elections in BC yesterday...I could go on about the pathetic voter turnout (25%...yuck!) but I'd rather save myself the angst. Instead, I'll mention the Noro scarf that walked into the polling station as I was walking out. I'd have Kinneared her, if I'd been a little quicker on the draw. Anyway, it was just funny to spot a Noro handknit in the wild like that. And no more voting! Till May, anyhow.

There was more wilderness knit-spotting later in the afternoon, too, as Mr.Q accompanied me to the opening of Sweet Georgia Yarn's new studio space. He really is the perfect trophy husband for a knitter, and didn't ask any questions when I asked for his Mastercard before we left. I only bruised it a little in the skein of sock yarn, and one of silk lace-weight that was seriously - literally - shiny. Someday when the light is good enough to do them justice, I will post a pic or two. It's not worth even trying, otherwise, it's just that sexy.

An interesting election-related observation on the bus home late in the afternoon...a little old man, who spoke barely a lick of English, got himself on what he obviously hoped was the right bus, going in the right direction. From the sound of his very thick accent, he was originally from Eastern Europe. There was a lot of gesticulating and charades going on while he got himself sorted out. He was clearly taking an unfamiliar route, and was clearly determined to get where he was going, despite the challenges.

When he got off a few stops later, it became obvious that his goal was the neighbourhood polling station. He was going to vote, dammit, age, infirmity, language barriers, the vagaries of public transit, and geographic disorientation be damned.

I 'spect he really gets the notion of "use it or lose it." I wish more people did...sigh.

Politics aside...the NaKniSweMo sweater is making more progress than I'd thought, but finishing by Nov.30th is highly unlikely. There is a chance, though, that I might get the body finished by then. The arms won't be so much to tackle, after.

I wore Tuscany to work on Friday (again with the crappy light and no pics). I really am enchanted with the new colour, and can see doing a lot more dyeing in the future. I was a little disappointed that no-one commented on it, given the ribbing I often get for knitting in public. I figure there are two possibilities: it looked ridiculous on me (the "wings" are rather long) and they were being polite by not saying anything; or they assumed it was "store-bought". I'm going with the latter, as I really am proud of it (not in a vain way, either, just kind of astonished that I did that! Holy cow! Did I really do that?) And I'll refrain from commenting on the sad state of things, when "it looks/tastes/sounds store-bought" is the highest societal bar for judging quality.

I'm trying to work on a Malabrigo keyhole scarf, as a relief from the Sweater of Doom, but the pattern is kicking my arse. I think I've figured out the problem - two different translations to English, one being inaccurate, and that, of course, being the one I was trying to use. Got it now, but in the process, I've stumbled across another pattern - lacier, which is not necessarily what I was going for. But easier to understand, and knit lengthwise instead of sideways. Sideways is a charming idea, but casting on and binding off that many stitches...maybe not so appealing. I'll see how I feel in the morning.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I get dye with a little help from my friends.

A certain yarnpiggy of my acquaintance happened to have a dye pot I could borrow, and a free afternoon to lend me moral support. The mission: overdye the nasty colour changes in the Tuscany shawl, so I could finally wear it.



Close up:

Things I have learned from this adventure:

1) following directions may have resulted in the colour I'd actually intended...but wouldn't have been nearly as much fun (and I love the midnight-blue that I ended up with!);

2) blocking sucks, which leads to #3;

3) I need blocking wires;

4) there are an astonishing number of ways to make bad plays on the word "dye"; and

5) cat hair doesn't take dye. You know, for future reference. In case I ever turn into that much of a crazy cat lady.

Thanks to all who sent happy thoughts! I think it worked.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A pleasant surprise

I left work this afternoon with the most virtuous of intentions...tomorrow being a stat holiday, I thought I would catch up on marking. I mean, it's basically a paid day off, so why not do the work while I'm getting paid anyway? I sorted out the papers on my desk, printed out current marking sheets, even found an empty file folder, so stuff wouldn't get mangled or stabbed in my pack.

I just sat down to plow into it...and realized that I left one batch of writing assignments on my desk; neglected to bring home the answer key for another exercise; and had only brought home the sheaf of quizzes that had already been marked by one of the student teachers assigned to my classes.

So that took all of 10 minutes. Nice. I mean, I'll have to do the marking over lunches this week, but I'd just as soon have tomorrow free of extra obligations. And it's not like I'm being a lazy bum or procrastinating or anything, even. (Just disorganized, but I can live with that!)

Not that there's anything wrong with being a lazy bum from time to time. But I do have other, rather important plans for tomorrow, so having the extra time is certainly a bonus.

(And, if I wanted to be really forthcoming, I could confess that I've already spent an hour or more tonight working on lesson plans. So I really can relax guilt-free. Not that I was feeling guilty, but, you know, if I were. Which I wasn't. But even so.)

I'm going a little stir-crazy, truth be told. I've been going a little overboard on the Black Hole of Viking Sweater Doom, and needed to give my hands a rest today. The not-knitting is making me a little batty. I'm hoping it pays off in the long term.

I'm missing the Malabrigo, though. Or something soft. I sometimes feel like I'm knitting a giant brillo pad. (I'm exaggerating a little, I s'pose. But I'm also scoping patterns for that cashmere in my stash, for afterward...)

Mmmkay. 'Nuff stalling. Baby bro's just popped up on MSN from India, gonna go touch base with him and be all big-sister-y and stuff.

Tune in tomorrow for more yarny adventures. I hope. As opposed to mis-adventures. Send me happy thoughts?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I so should be doing housework right now.....

But it's a rainy, sleeping-in Sunday kind of morning, post-coffee & Baileys, pre-breakfast, and I don't feel like sweeping. Though I have got as far as putting some laundry in....whether it gets folded today remains to be seen!

Lots of knitting this week...some progress made on the Viking Sweater...much, much more to go! I've taken to knitting "publicly" in the staff room at lunch time, which hasn't led to as much mocking as I might have expected. Possibly brandishing the pointy sticks at the very beginning may have thwarted some of that.

(Though it's interesting, the perceptions people have. One colleague asked me how long it would take me to knit up a simple hat. I estimated a few hours; he asked me how much I would charge. I said, "You pay for the yarn, buy me a bottle of Baileys, and we'll call it even." He thought that was kind of pricy. If he brings it up again, I'll suggest that he pay me my regular hourly wage for the 5 or 6 hours of my time, as well as for my skill and knowledge. That may shut him up.)

Progress on the sweater:

Anyhoo. Friday night I was signed up for a Freeform Knitting class downtown...a bit of a gong show trying to get home, organized, fed, and back downtown, thanks to the appalling traffic, but I did get there, and only a few minutes late. I'd been talked into it (ha! my rubber arm twisted right out of shape!) by a fellow Raveller, and it was a lot of fun.

We built a colour wheel out of a table full of yarn:

Then sat down and started knitting random shapes into each other for three hours. I tried to go outside the blue box, and wasn't as happy as I could have been with my colours...but it was good to Take a Risk, such as it was. Plae's knitting was much more experimental and cool:

Mine was less impressive, but....But. I was there to play, and learn something new, and I did both. Here's my piece, such as it is:

I played with yarn-overs all on my own, for the first time. I picked up all kinds of stitches, knit random increases & decreases, tried different ways of joining yarn...played with short rows for something other than sock heels, which was totally cool...I don't know that this kind of patchwork knitting is for me, per se. But it was a good lesson in thinking outside the box and trusting what I know, as well as just feeling free to experiment, screw up, try again, and move on if it doesn't work out. And a lesson in how much I do know about knitting - more than I thought - and just how much more there is too learn - way more than I'd imagined! Within about 5 minutes of walking into the room, I felt totally over my head...and went into sponge mode, sucking it all up. Definitely a good way to spend a Friday evening!

Eep! I need to get going on breakfast...hoping I have a Granville Island date to finally get the dye for Tuscany...Gratuitous kitty cuteness, to close with:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blowing Goats, and other family-rated fun

I think it's about time for me to quit pretending that the mythical "extra hour of sleep" this weekend was a good thing. I think it's about time to proclaim the truth: Daylight Savings blows hairy, stinky, non-cashmere goats. It is way too dark for 7:30. I am trying really hard not to go to bed yet - because I woke up at 4:00, which was really 5:00 as far as my body was concerned, coz I fell asleep at 8:30 (9:30). And it was dark and pouring rain this morning, and now it's dark and cold, and all I want to do is eat potatoes and cheese. (Which I could do something about, so I made myself a big dish of scalped potatoes for supper, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Screw that vat of uber-healthy, mostly-organic veggie soup I cooked up yesterday. I heart potatoes and cheese.)

I have bloody jet-lag, and I didn't even get to go on a trip.

And I'm already 3 rows behind on my NaKniSweMo project.

And I still have to change the litter box tonight.


Saturday, November 1, 2008


Halloween was quiet Chez Quimby last night. Mr.Q had a gig, I stayed home and kept the cats in until the fireworks and hollering died down outside. I did wear a costume for work, and of course neglected to take a photo of the whole get-up. I got one of my face with my phone camera:

What you can't see are the curly tail and tufted ears that I was quite proud of, thankyouverymuch! Or the bits of feather stuck to my shirt and gloves. It was great fun walking around swiping and hissing at students who hadn't done their homework. And purring when I got petted. Mrrroww!

But no parties or hooliganism for me. I stayed home, watched a DVD, and blasted through some more Christmas knitting. Which I am now putting away for the month of November, since I am clearly crazy and have decided to do this:

Some time ago, Mr.Q absolved me from making him more socks for awhile, if I would knit him a sweater. Again with the clearly-crazy thing, I decided that I could think of nothing more fun than knitting a sweater for a hulking Viking. NaKniSweMo is probably the only chance I have of getting a decent start on the thing. I'm not necessarily expecting to get it done in a month (though of course my competitive nature may have something to say about that!) but I'm hoping that I'll at least get enough done that I'll be motivated to plow through and finish it in time for Christmas.

(Along with, you know, all that other Christmas knitting I've assigned myself. Because clearly, I am a certifiable wingnut.)

Anyhoo. After I finish a few odds and ends this morning, and fortify myself liberally with coffee & Baileys, bought specially for the occasion, I am going to cast on and get down to business. I'm going to take a whole pile of this:

And see if I can't turn it into this. I did a swatch last night, and...ummm...well, it's going to be a fine, rugged outerwear sweater. And the yarn's not too bad to knit with - a lot better than I'd expected, actually. But I have been really spoiled with The Good Stuff lately, and Malabrigo, it is not. This is Real Wool - sturdy, a bit rough, and sheepy-smelling. A back-to-the-roots kind of thing. I'm feeling kind of pioneer-y or something. Yeah, that's it. A regular Laura Ingalls Wilder, except with central heating and Harmony circs and a Bodum. And no corset, that's important, too.

Alrighty, then. I do think the coffee's ready...awa we gae!