Friday, February 26, 2010

The Scarlet Pumpernickle (Mittens)

So I suddenly find myself in possession of a pair of the coveted red Vancouver 2010 Olympic mittens. I'm not sure how I feel about that, really. On the one hand, I feel a little weird having a piece of Official Olympic Merchandise. On the other hand, the way I got the mitts - is pretty cool.

Every 3 months or so, the school has a bit of a competition between classes. It's an event that takes place over the course of a week, and usually involves some kind of presentation: a speech contest, a summer-themed "infomercial" and so on. Given the timing of this month's first contest, an Olympic theme seemed appropriate. Each class participated in a variety of "events" - a potato race (like an egg-in-spoon race, but less messy!), a scooter relay, shooting at a hockey net, a creative version of the national anthem (my class chose to do a multi-cultural dance exhibit, of sorts, which involved a lanky Taiwanese guy trying to Samba - it was pretty awesome!) and a toilet paper sculpture. (If I remember to take a picture, I'll show you - they did a great job!)

Anyway, my class - on their own merits entirely, just a lot of cheering from me - won first place. Which is usually money towards a dinner out for the winning class, but this time, the prize was a pair of the souvenir mittens for each student. And one for the teacher. So I will wear them, in all their acrylic glory, with great pride!

As far as the actual Games go, I'm glad they're almost done. It hasn't been as chaotic as initially feared, but most people here are starting to feel pretty worn out. (And I'm not expecting to sleep tonight, either, as the post-hockey revelry seems to find its way up to our neighbourhood, even though we're pretty distant from the arena. After Canada beat Russia on Wednesday, there were sporadic fireworks till about 3:00 a.m. Happy happy day.)

We were thinking of maybe trying to check out one of the free concerts tomorrow night, but we'll play that one by ear. The crowds downtown...could be a little nuts. We did take advantage of last weekend's fine weather, though, to take in a few of the Olympic sights. Mostly, we just looked at the line-ups for different pavilions, and kept on walking! But we did get down to the Cauldron with my knitting:

This is not the greatest shot of us & the cauldron (since it's totally missing the cauldron!), but I love the grin on Mr.Q's face:

And some of the street-art installations downtown:

A whole whack of pin traders had set up on collapsible tables in the middle of it all, and were showing off their pins to each other & passers-by; it was pretty fun to watch! We also browsed through the aboriginal business & artisan market, which was amazing - there were some absolutely stunning carvings, paintings, pieces of jewelry, etc.

Not a ton of Olympic-y activity, but it was enough for us. It's been neat watching all the tourists and atheletes downtown for the last couple weeks. Wearing a flag-cape seems to be the new fashion trend. But holy busy streets, Batman! My sleepy little small-town-city looks more like the streets of New York or something! It will be good to get back to normal next week.

But I will miss some of the fun advertising and displays. Like this one, in a lingerie/adult shop downtown:

In case you can't read it, the bottom of the window reads: "...and they beat off some stiff competition!"


Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Game's Afoot!

You could be excused for thinking I mean these games:

Watching the torch come by work was cooler than I expected. Mostly because of the very enthusiastic response from the international students. And really, that's a pretty neat experience to have when you're living abroad! It was interesting to be part of that. (Though I do suspect that some of their enthusiasm was also for not being in grammar class...)

I will confess to watching - and even enjoying - the opening ceremonies. Yes, there was cheesiness. And Nelly Furtado's outfit looked uncomfortably like my prom dress. Also, I'm not quite sure what sparkly Bear-Zilla was all about...that was a little strange. (Yes, I get the Spirit Bear thing - but I know I'm not the only person who saw it coming up out of the floor and thought of Godzilla rising out of the ocean.)

However, I was willing to suspend my cynicism and enjoy the spectacle, right about the time I realized that the huge circle between the welcoming poles was a drum. And then all those dancers started coming out, and it just got way cool.

I loved that there was a spontaneous standing ovation for the Georgian athletes. I loved that there was a punk fiddler and a slam poet. I loved that Julie Payette was a flag-bearer, that Rick Hansen was part of the flame-lighting. I thought the stage-design was awesome, for the most part, and may have squee-ed when, at one point, the set looked like a giant Emily Carr painting.

And k.d. lang singing "Hallelujah" in bare feet...was just about enough to make me consider switching teams. I melted.

(But - what the heck was with Gretzky riding in the back of the truck like that? I mean, dude! Were you not just in the stadium with Rick Hansen? How do you think he ended up in that wheelchair?!)

Anyway, as the 2010 Winter Games open, it's kind of amusing that it looks like this on the streets of the host city:

Welcome to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, ladies and gents! Being the one city in Canada that doesn't get winter! Doh! Still, it looks pretty cool around here, and we will go out and enjoy some of the free events, check out some of the pavilions and such. (As one of the anti-Olympics protest organizers said - we are paying for it, we might as well enjoy what we can!)

(Which organizers are not to be confused with the hooligans smashing shit up downtown yesterday. Tres uncool! But that's a rant for another day.)

Olympics aside, however, Friday also marked the start of the Real Winter Games: the 2010 Ravelympics. In which I am, of course, competing! See this?

Hasn't been touched in a year. Time to do something about it! There may also be a bit of frogging in the near future, on several half-finished socks that are never going get finished. Sitting on the couch Friday night, glass of mead close by & some maple tarts waiting for was pretty awesome when I picked up my needles to start, and realized that there were literally thousands of knitters doing the same thing at that very same moment.

We are so, so cool.

Also, warm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Calling in Sock

I've caught the edge of a nasty bug making the rounds at work (how is it that schools & germs just never change, regardless of students' age?) Anyhoo, I seem to have missed the worst of it, but only coz I decided to stay home and sleep in today. Yesterday was mostly a total loss, except for the amusement my students (rightfully) had at my expense - I was more than a little out of it!

So I had a good long sleep, woke up quite late this morning, and am feeling almost human again. Which is good - coz starting next week, the rest of the month stands a good chance of being pretty chaotic, with lots of germ-sharing on over-crowded public transit, so I'm really glad I had the sense to stay home and not tough it out. I think my immune system (and my brain) are going to need all the help they can get for the next few weeks!

Am just thinking of having another wee lie-down, but first thought I'd take advantage of being the only computer-user at home, & post a bit of knitting content. Haven't seen much of that lately, have we! There are reasons, my pretties. One - I've been very busy plowing through some UFOs, trying to clear my plate for the Ravelympics; and two - a couple of the subsequent FOs had to be kept Top Sooper-Secret, until they made their way to their recipients. One FO has found its new home, so I can show you it:

Fingerless mitts for Baby Sis, after much nagging on her part. Pattern (which I have cleverly named "Git Yer Paws Off My Mitts!") largely of my own devising, with a little help for the thumb gussets. Yarn: STR superwash, in their Lucky colourway. They knit up a lot faster than I expected, and I'm quite tickled with the end result.

Next up, a pair of socks from some of my SS09 stash:

A basic 2x2 spiral rib; I tried an Eye of Partridge heel for the first time, and fell in love! I also managed to consistently use Cat Bordhi's "Slim & Trim SSKs" for the decreases, and I'm absolutely a convert. The yarn is "Wisteria" from Miss Babs - gorgeous colours, and it washes up wonderfully. Also, I've ordered from her a couple times since Sock Summit, and she gives fantastic customer service!

(The pic is somewhat crap, but if you look closely, you can see that I've cleverly reversed the direction of the rotating rib...Which took at lot more concentration than I should probably admit!)

Last, but not least, I have cast on a new pair of socks in this:

Sweet Georgia's "tough love sock" in her tres-sexy "Riptide" colourway. (I sort of had a little accident a couple weeks ago, when I saw the new stock at TBF. Oops!) I'm turning it into a pair of Tidal Wave socks, which seemed appropriate given the name of the colourway. I'm modifying the pattern a wee bit - the Eye of Partridge heel again, and the Slim & Trim SSks (Seriously, go google it & use it if you don't already. A bit finicky till you get the hang of it, but it looks sooo good!) Also, I'm carrying the pattern down the foot. Just coz I like how the yarn knits up...I can really feel the nylon in it, and it's a wee bit splitty, but I have faith that it will wash well, and wear even better.

And that, Gentle Readers, is about all I've got for you today. It's definitely feeling like it's nap-time again!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Today, of course, is Groundhog's Day. According to both Canada's own Shubenacadie Sam, and his better-known neighbour to the south, Punxsutawney Phil, we're in for another 6 weeks of winter. Here on the Wet Coast, that's not such a big deal, as we've just had the warmest January on record, and snowdrops & crocuses have already been blooming for a week or more. Though I do feel for the rest of the continent, where winter's been a little crankier than usual.

In honour of Groundhog's Day - which also happens to be the Feast of Brigid, the patron saint of poetry - and better yet, my Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday Mom!), I'm starting my day with this: the 5th Annual Cyberspace Poetry Slam for Brigid. And since Mom likes cats, and our not-so-wee diva kitty is named for Brigid, I thought I'd share a cat about poems, by one of my favourite poets.

The Cat and the Moon
(William Butler Yeats)

The cat went here and there
and the moon spun round like a top
and the nearest kin of the moon,
the creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon

for, wander and wail as he would,
the pure cold light in the sky
troubled his animal blood.

Minnaloushe runs in the grass,
lifting his delicate fee.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
what better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
tired of that courtly fashion,

a new dance turn.

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
from moonlit place to place,
the sacred moon overhead
has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
will pass from change to change,
and that from round to crescent,
from crescent to round they range?

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
alone, important and wise
and lifts to the changing moon
his changing eyes.