Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pumpkin Inspirations

And just like that, it's mid-November. Fall/winter... whatever. It's getting colder and darker, and therefore it's time for warmer things... handknit hats and mittens and sweaters... movies on the couch... mid-afternoon naps on the weekends...

And cute little pumpkin squashes. A friend gave me these out of her mother's garden. Such lovely colours.


Rascal was intrigued.


At least, he was until I made him sit through a photo shoot with them.




He wasn't so impressed after a while. It's hard to be excited about vegetables when you're technically a carnivore.


Anyway, one of those became a pot of soup today, and whatever didn't make it into the soup was roasted to perfection and picked at all day by yours truly.


And then I took the pumpkin seeds and roasted them in Worcestershire sauce and salt, also picked at all day by yours truly.


It's funny how a few squashes bring such welcome colour into the dark, dreary days. It inspired me to wander up to my yarn stash today and gather these skeins of merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn, all from my friend Tara's yarn business, Dragonfly Dyewerx. They're from some of her first dye batches (can I call these vintage, yet, Tara?) and every time I see them together, I think that I really need to make something with all of these colours all in one project. Clockwise from the top: Pumpkin Spice, Honeydew, Killer Tomato (which is more orange-y in real life) and It's Grape to Be Me. Prettee.


I can't wait to start playing with these. I'm thinking I've got enough to make a cardigan, if I play my gauge right. I've been scoping out patterns and playing around with it in my head. It could be a fun winter.

For some of us, anyway. I think he's hoping I don't get any other winter vegetables. He might want to renegotiate his modeling contract soon.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sickly

Turns out that I am one of those lame people who call in sick the day before a statutory holiday.

But like, I really am sick. I thought I could head it off at the pass, get lots of rest at the first sign of weakness, do my usual bath-footscrub-yoga thing to get it out of my system. I fought it all weekend, stayed home and nursed myself with lots of tea and hot baths, But I awoke this morning feeling like I COULD go to work, but that I would deeply regret it if I did. So, I'm home, one day before a mid-week holiday, feeling guilty as heck, but glad that I didn't go out to spread the germs.

It's a blessing and a curse, really. I go hard at life, from dawn till dusk, exercise, work, cooking, stretching, then sleeping. My yarn projects and creativity, and thus, this blog, have all been taking a back seat. It's a bad sign when I'm not here. It means that I'm somewhere planning my life away.

So, my body seems to have dragged me kicking and screaming back to myself, at the cost of a lot of tea and tissues (Seriously, I'm on my last box. This is not going to be pretty.).

I thought I felt good enough to drive down the three blocks to the tire maintenance shop and get the tires re-torqued. And you know what? It is not a good idea to drive when you've got a headcold that gives you sudden sneezing fits, even if it is only three blocks away.

I felt sorry enough for myself to go to the store and buy myself some treats at the corner store:



And, in case you didn't know: marshmallows have a tendency to alight at an alarming rate when you try to toast them over a candle. Don't ask me how I know that. I'm not sure if there's an insurance company in the world that would cover you for accidental marshmallow blazes.

So, while I've been at home, when I haven't been setting marshmallows on fire, I've been taking naps, drinking tea, doing a bit of work from home, doing some knitting, and napping some more. And during one of my wakeful moments, I was putting away some of the clothes that have been strewn around the house, and noticed that I seem to have amassed a great number of black clothing:


... which inspired me to go find a bit of colour to wear with them. And so I put on a pair of my most brightly coloured socks and put them on in defiance of all the black (and yeah, I know I've got black leggings on as well):


And then I dug out this hemp scarf I knitted a couple of years go, which has been languishing in a basket because it's just a bit too short and skimpy for wear. I sewed some buttons on, and declared myself useful before I lay down for another nap:


Probably the best result of this cold is that I've managed to sit down to work on my Mehndi scarf. I've finished one side of it, and now that I'm starting on the second side, it feels familiar and simple enough to be able to work steadily on it, even while I'm sniffling through a cold. Perhaps it will get finished before Christmas after all:


Ok, that's enough babbling. Brain is telling me to go rest for a while. Keep warm and sanitized, my friends.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rain, With Periods of Inertia

inertia (in·er·tia)
noun
1.
a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
"the bureaucratic inertia of government"
synonyms: inactivity, inaction, inertness; More
2.
PHYSICS
a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.
It's raining. A lot. It's been raining most of this week. A lot.

Yeah, I know everyone: According to the rest of the world, this is not unusual in British Columbia, Canada. I KNOW. But after the summer we had, getting the dregs of Hurricane Ana is kind of hard for me to adjust to.

I am a pile of mashed potatoes. I can't think of anything more inert than that. That's how I felt when I looked out and took this photo of our deck. I even turned it artsy-fartsy black and white in an effort to show how motionless I've been.


I don't know if it's because of all this rain, or the darkness in the mornings and the evenings, or not being able to get outside much this week, but MAN have I been doing nothing. I mean, I've been getting up and going to the gym and going to work, but apart from that, yeah... no. I am someone that usually had something that needs to be done: if it's not my yarn projects, it's packing my gym bag or making my lunch or making my morning smoothie, or cleaning something... or, more accurately: thinking about cleaning something. But nope. Just a whole lotta sittin' goin' on after work this week.

My inertia seemed to last until about 5pm today. Before that, I went out and did the grocery shopping (or rather, I went with the hubby and moped the whole time), and then after lunch, I sat on the couch and watched a bunch of YouTube videos (managed to wrench myself loose from watching pimple extractions to switch over to a steady stream of The Voice auditions).

And then, I jumped up at 5:00pm and decided to hem some trousers that have been sitting on a chair in the bedroom for about a month. They're so long that I need at least a 3-inch heel to get them off the ground. All that dragging was really wrecking them:


How's that for a nice repair? Another press should make them perfect:


I did manage to do a bit of yarn work this week. I took my freshly blocked Peekaboo Mitts to the local knit night on Tuesday and finished embroidering a simple little pattern on them. I bought the green embroidery floss at the yarn shop that night:


And inner compulsions are trying to get over that the flowers aren't perfectly symmetrical. Still, they're pretty, no? And they fit my hands really well, and will keep this reptilian-handed-always-cold-knitter warm.


And well, they're going to come in handy with a forecast like this:


Hopefully, my mojo will kick in again and will start taking advantage of this weather to park myself on the couch to do some good old knitting. After all, I have a shawl to finish to wear for Christmas.

Oh yeah. That's coming up. Better shut up and get knitting.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Little Bit of Happy

Old books exert a strange fascination for me -- their smell, their feel, their history; wondering who might have owned them, how they lived, what they felt. -- Lauren Willig
A couple of weeks ago, I came home with this little ceramic pot, which I purchased from a vintage shop at Whippletree Junction. I can't decide if the shop is called Myra Inbows or My Rainbows. But I digress:


It's been sitting on my dining table, just kind of taking up space. I sit and look at it while I'm eating dinner, admiring the glaze, picking it up and running my thumb over the unglazed bottom, running my fingernails lightly over the sandy bits that didn't quite melt in the kiln... wondering what the heck it is and why it was one of three that I spied in the shop. I picked it because it had the most varied in colour and had the most visible pattern in the clay. These little details singled it out. Little details make me happy.

So, this weekend, I was walking around another vintage shop in Cowichan Bay, which is just up the road from Whippletree Junction (can we just pause here and just delight in the name, "Whippletree Junction? I usually say it twice, with an emphasis on the 'wh' of Whippletree...). I was actually on the lookout for a cute teapot (which I don't really need, but I'm in the midst of a cute teapot obsession), and I walked right past another one of these little pots. I paused, walked backwards two steps and looked at it again. I picked it up, noticing it was the same shade of green of the ones I'd left behind at Whippletree, had the same unglazed bottom, similar raised pattern. I put it down, mindful of the fact that I'd left the hubby and Rascal waiting outside in the sun and hungry for lunch, but I made a mental note of what I'd seen.

One the way home, I stopped at Whippletree again, to pick up a ball of yarn from the yarn shop there, which I've visited a few times before. I needed it to send to my friend, dkzack, who'd been here for a visit not long ago, and who had pulled a classic "Adriene" (i.e. bought some yarn, but not enough).


And well, Myra Inbows (or My Rainbows - I must find out the name for sure) was open. I stopped in. The other two green pots were still there, and after standing there and staring for a while, I asked the shop owner about them. She explained that they are actually old "ginger jars," and they would have had a cork stopper on top, and that you often find them in old houses that are standing in ruins here on the Island. The lack of glaze on the bottom was to keep them from sticking to the kiln during firing. And, she remembered me... and remembered exactly which one I'd bought and what it looked like, and that made me happy that she remembered.

And then I went home and Googled like the dickens to find out more about them... that Chinese ginger jars have been around for a long time, and that mine was specific to BC, and that they were used for holding all kinds of different foods...

And then I went out to find some napkins for my little pot, so that it could have a purpose again in my little house. I like that it has a life again, even if it is only a little pot. Giving it another purpose made me happy.

This photo is a little truer to the actual colour. Maybe sometime I'll find a bit of cork and see if I can fashion one to fit in top, just so that it can have a lid again.


I suppose it's these little discoveries that make my little vintage discoveries so interesting to me. I delight in knowing that these things had a past, that they were created for a purpose, that they were used and cared for by someone, and that I can use them again. I wonder if the people who bought it in the first place thought it to be as beautiful as I do, and if they knew that it would find a home in someone else's house, possibly a century later. And maybe it's because I love stories that this is why I love old things.

It's nearly dinnertime. I'm off to put a bread pudding in the oven, make some chicken and potatoes, and set the table with the napkins in my new napkin/ginger jar. I know it's only a little thing.

But it makes me happy. And I'm grateful for that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

And Then, We Went to the Cabin

A vacation is having nothing to do and having all day to do it in. -- Robert Orben
I was away on a work trip for most of the week. It was a long week, with long days in places where I don't normally go with people I don't normally spend time with. I learned a lot, and I'm grateful for the experience, but I finished the week feeling weary. Oddly, despite being outside of my element, it was quite a productive knitting time. A few hours in airports and on airplanes afford a knitter with the rare gift of uninterrupted stitching time. After a day of traveling, I had most of one fingerless mitten finished:


After that, I didn't pick my knitting up again until I was traveling back home again... and I would have finished the second one, except as soon as I was home, I went straight back to the office. And then after that, I came home, packed up our stuff, and escaped for a weekend in a cabin in Cowichan Bay.

And yes, we packed the Rascal.


We've always loved cabins and cottages... not enough to build one and live in one full time, but enough to seek them out for little getaways throughout the year. There's something lovely about finding a quiet place, usually without a tv, usually near the woods or near the water, always with a cozy little space to rest and find your head again. Days are slower in the cabin, not because they are boring, but because you have time to slow... your brain... down...

Cowichan Bay is only a short drive for us, so it wasn't long before we were relaxing in front of the woodstove, a perfect place to finish my second mitten and for Rascal to finish his nap:


We awoke the next day to some welcome sunshine:



I blocked my mittens in front of a sleepy woodstove:


And then I picked up my Mehndi shawl and kept working on it. I must say: I thought I would dread working on such a complicated lace pattern, but I'd forgotten what it was like to knit one like that. It's like a good book: I can't wait to see how each row will end. I am mesmerized by the beauty of this stitch pattern. I don't want to put it down, not only because I am loving it so much, but because each time I do, I have to re-learn each symbol on the chart until I'm back in the groove again.


We just came back from getting lunch in the village. The clouds are rolling back in again, so I think I'll settle back onto the couch and do some more knitting. I am grateful for the opportunity to recharge after a week away. And after I do some knitting, I might go an enjoy a bath here:


It's a rough life, I know, but someone has to do it...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sleepy Sunday

The last week seems to be a bit of a blur to me. I honestly can't remember where the week went. All I know is that I've managed to have an hour-long nap both yesterday and today, and I feel like I could easily go to bed at 8:00pm again tonight.

It might be because I finished my busy week with the first Friday night volleyball session of the season. Lots of fun, but man I laughed way too much...

It might also be because of the cool, rainy weather we're having, which always makes me drowsy.

It might be because I got up this morning to hit the gym, since it'll be closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving here in Canada.

However, it's mostly because I'm anxious about my little Rascal.

Rascal is doing so-so right now. He got through his last course of medication relatively well, but the mass appears has appeared to have moved a bit, and it is now pressing against his sciatic nerve. He can't feel his back left leg very well, and so he's hopping around on three legs. Despite this, he's in good spirits. He seems to have adapted to this new hopping gait very well: he pushes off with his right back leg and propels himself forward, and occasionally, his bad leg joins in, so he looks like a rabbit bopping along the road. He insists on going as fast as he can, until he reaches the end of the block and needs to have a rest. He is sometimes restless at night, which means that we're all constantly waking up to see what he's up to. It's probably why I'm so tired this weekend, even if it has been mostly the hubby who has been getting up to check on him. He's going for an ultrasound soon, and so hopefully we'll know more about what is going on in there.


In the meantime, there hasn't been much knitting going on. I just haven't had the head to work on my current project, which is quite chart-heavy and would require some actual concentration. Despite it being a holiday tomorrow, I'm getting on a plane at noon for a work trip and won't be home again until Thursday night. I thought I'd make a batch of these oatmeal snacks today. I usually have one each day at work for a snack, and even though I probably won't take them along for this work trip, today was the only day I really had time to make them. I tweaked the recipe a bit (as usual), as I didn't have any flax seed, but I did have chia seeds and hemp hearts. I skipped the cinnamon, but I think I hit it right on the nail by adding some dutch cocoa and dried cranberries. They're proper hippy snacks now, and tease me if you like, but they're darn good.



I also took the time to take some proper photos of the bamboo shawl I was blocking last weekend. It's a pretty little crochet project, if I do say so myself:



I will also say that it's somewhat awkward to wear. I have no idea really how I am going to use this thing, but maybe my confusion is fuelled by the cool, rainy weather we're currently having. I put this camisole on to model it, and despite my smile, I was not all that warm wearing it. I guess I'll be saving this one for next summer:



Meanwhile, I'm off to finish packing for my trip. I'm thinking that I'm best not taking along a complicated charted lace project, but I might be able to crank out the pair of fingerless mitts that I've been wanting to make for a while. I'm going to just go simple with it, perhaps using Abi Gregorio's Peekaboo Mitts, and then embroidering some little flowers on the back. Simple ribbing, straight stockinette, and easy thumb gusset might mean I'll at least have the mitts done by the end of the week.


And THEN I'm taking off for the following weekend for a little cottage holiday at Cowichan Bay. I can't wait: it'll be a quiet weekend next to the woodburning stove with the hubby and puppy, some takeout food from the local fish and chippy, and hopefully some good knitting... and maybe a trip to the nearby yarn shop! Am I wishing my life away? Nah. Just keeping my eyes on pleasant thoughts.

But maybe I'll have another nap first. Yawn...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

And Sometimes, Stuff is Just Weird

"I'm just one of those regular weird people." -- Janis Joplin
It's been a weird Sunday morning so far. I went out for my regular Sunday morning run, and it wasn't what I hoped it would be... my stomach was a little upset, and I felt a little tired, so I decided to do a shorter run rather than risk wearing myself out. I blame it on experimenting with a new pre-run snack and on having a couple of nights of poor sleep, but still... it felt a little strange.

It's carrying on into my yarn projects. I've finally managed to get my crochet project on the blocking boards. It's a free pattern call Tranquil Wrap from Lion Brand, and it was a relatively easy project...

... except it's a bit weird.

It's not the pattern, and it's not the yarn. Its weirdness is attributed by me failing to take into account that simply adding repeats on a crescent-shaped shawl does not mean it will grow proportionately. It's like assuming that a person who is twice as old as another person will need twice as much food. It doesn't work like that (even though, come to think of it, it would be kind of nice if that were the case sometimes).

Anyway, since I cause a disproportionate growth of this shawl, it was no longer a crescent when I finished, but more of a swirl... a vortex, if you wanna get dramatic. And, try as I might, after a couple of hours of sitting on the floor with this thing trying to wet-block it in one attempt, I decided it would be better to block it in stages. I'm pinning portions of the edge and letting it dangle to stretch out the lace.

It's the weirdest, messiest block-job I've ever done. I hope it works.


In the meantime, I decided to wind the yarn for my next project using two skeins of Cascade Heritage Silk in black. Winding yarn can be kind of tedious, even using a swift and ballwinder, but this time it was actually quite pleasant. The yarn was so slick that, even when I had ends that twisted around the shaft of the swift, it was a simple matter of a few tugs, and it slithered out of its tangled mess. Its serpentine nature made me think that the knitted project would be just as dreamy...

... except it's a bit weird, too.

Maybe it's because I've been doing a lot of crochet projects, but the cast-on for this project was the hardest ever. The HARDEST EVER. It's Susan Pandorf's Mehndi, which for all accounts is a beautiful and well-written pattern, but MAN did I struggle knitting through the first row. I probably cast on too tightly, and knitting through the back loop on the first row isn't that easy either, but an hour of dropping stitches and struggling to put them back on again was kind of... much. Gee willikers. I'm only three rows in and I think I need a nap.


The sun is trying to come out now, so maybe I just need to get up and make some lunch and go for a walk, and then stuff will kind of fall into place. I've got a turkey pie to make later, so I'd really like all the weirdness to work itself out now, because it would really suck to mess that up.

But maybe a messed up turkey pie isn't so weird. In another dimension, I think you could call it a casserole. Hm. That's worth considering. I wonder if all the other stuff is totally normal in another dimension as well. I shall ponder that as I roll out the pastry...