Sunday, May 20, 2018

In and Out of Season

Spring cleaning the house is easy. Spring cleaning life is tough. -- Anonymous
I'm often shocked at how quickly the seasons change. All of a sudden, I'm digging out shorts and sandals to wear and I'm having to concern myself with shaving my legs and with the state of my toenails. It's not that I'm terribly vain, it's just that there are some things I feel I should not burden the world with, my hairy legs included.

We've been busy these days with such unglamourous seasonal tasks such as vacuuming the car and steam cleaning rugs and other such unglamourous moving-house tasks such as clearing out cupboards and old clothes. We've purged books and magazines, and I'm slowly going through a list of things to sort through and clear out. It's amazing how many holey socks and raggedy t-shirts I appear to be holding onto, and it's times like these where I am a teensy bit ashamed at the number of pairs of shoes I own. Still, there's nothing like moving to make you shed things you simply aren't using anymore.

This includes my own finished knitting projects. After over ten years of knitting, I guess there are some things you have far too many of. Years ago, I would never have dreamed of letting these things go, but since I only have one head, I think I can let go of any ill-fitting hats and unflattering scarves. It's a strange feeling to let them go and it's really the wrong season to be donating warm clothes, but needs must. I have a pile waiting to be cleaned right now, and as soon as they are ready, I'll walk them down to the local hospital auxiliary thrift shop and wish them well.

Don't talk me out of it. This is hard enough.

Last weekend, we made a trip over to Vancouver to interview for our Nexus passes. We'd planned the whole day away since we were sure we'd need to have lots of time to complete the interviews. We were surprised when they allowed us in early, and before we knew it, the whole thing was over in an hour. That left us the rest of the day to wander around busy Vancouver. We went straight down to the water to escape the masses of people who were out for Mother's Day:

Craving some greenery, we wandered down to Stanley Park to find some shade and some ice cream:

We stopped by Vancouver Aquarium. I was surprised at how much it had changed since I was last there. We didn't go in, but I enjoyed the new artwork outside, especially this mural:

We sat by the water for a while:

And then we made our way back to the Port of Vancouver, where we would be catching our seaplane back to the Island and where the cruise ships all dock while they are getting ready to sail away with their thousands of vacationers. Wow... they are getting bigger and bigger all the time:

It was a pretty good day, but whenever I spend time in big cities, I remember why I don't live in them anymore. I'm so used to my sleepy little town where people greet you as you walk past and where there's never a line up to wait in and never too many people in my way. We were glad to get home to our quiet little town where little Seymour had been having a fun day with the dogsitter. He was as exhausted as we were by the end of the day:

I'm thrilled to finally be able to share you a finished project, just in time for it to be too hot to wear it. Here is the Sideways Wrap by Robin Lynn, made with some yarn dyed by my friend, Tara called "The Experiment." It was a great pattern to make the most out of a skein of variegated yarn:

I absolutely adore the way this single-ply yarn shows off the colours in the skein. The stitches have such a pleasing roundness to them that just makes the colours shine:

I'm particularly enamoured by the effect of simply slipping one of the stitches makes to create this pleasing ridge. It's like a little braid all along the inner part of the edging:

Someone else seemed to like it as well - enough to be a model for me:

Well, he liked it to a point, but he had more fun rolling around on the floor with it afterward. Oh well. It's not scarf season anyway:

I have another project I'm about to start which should keep me busy for a while and will be nice whatever season I find myself in, but for now, it's barbecue season and I'm off to get some veggies ready for grilling. Have a great week!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Why I Haven't Been Knitting

Oh, I just want what we all want: a comfortable couch, a nice beverage, a weekend of no distractions and a book that will stop time, lift me out of my quotidian existence and alter my thinking forever. --Elizabeth Gilbert
So, here's where I am with my current project. I really should be further along with it, but there have been a lot of things lately to distrct me from my knitting. It's a shame, because it really is working up nicely. It's a skein gifted to me by my talented dyer-friend, Tara - a colourway called "The Experiment," dyed in a superwash fingering spun in a single. I'd declare a success, especially with this pattern. I'm using RobinLynn's Sideways Wrap, which is designed to make the most out of variegated yarns:

I think one of the things working against me is my choice to go along with the suggestion to use 3.0mm needles. Seriously, why did I do that? I didn't even think I would even own such a ludicrous size of needle, and was truly shocked when I unearthed a set in my stash. They're a little awkward in my big, clumsy hands, especially because they're a set of Knitter's Pride Novas, which are shorter in length than I am accustomed to. Still, they seem to be working out ok. I'd forgotten how much I love the roundness of a single-ply yarn, and the colours seem to glow with the sheen from the fibre (which I think is merino, but I lost the tag). The striping in the short row section is so lovely that I hardly notice awkward hands:

We've had some beautiful weather over the past couple of weeks, which is also a distraction from settling down to my projects. I wandered home from meeting someone for coffee yesterday and had to stop to take a photo of one of my favourite houses framed by some blooming lilacs:

I've also been out in the yard pottering about. I've been pleased that some of the plants I put in last year are spreading to cover an area that seems to refuse to grow anything else. It was such a pleasant surprise to find them flowering this week:

This morning, I skipped the gym and we decided to wander down to the water to enjoy some morning sunshine:

We stopped for a while by the playground, but poor Mr. Seymour wasn't allowed to join in:

So we found a seat with a nicer view for him to relax on:

And then we stopped for crepes on the way home. He was a little miffed that no one asked him what he wanted:

So I let him take my spot on the couch when we got home:

I think another reason I'm so distracted is because I have an idea for another project involving crochet flowers and a picture frame and I'm slowly building it in my head. I sure hope it works out because I've been daydreaming about it for a while. It seems like such a long time since I've felt inspired like this, so I'm just going to enjoy it while it lasts, even if it does distract me from progress:

And... probably the biggest distraction at the moment is the fact that we put an offer on a house and it was accepted. After years of dithering and waiting for "the right moment" and "the right house," our landlords provided us with the necessary motivation by announcing that they'd like to put our current house on the market. We told ourselves that, in the current housing market, we'd have to be patient and expect to put a lot of offers down before it was accepted. We looked at the first house on a Tuesday, fell in love with it, put an offer in the next morning and it was accepted an hour later.

Um, yes. Patience. Right.

So now, I guess my biggest distraction is getting a mortgage in order and thinking about moving all our stuff to a new neighbourhood. I keep walking into rooms and coming out with things I want to throw out, and I keep looking at our furniture and wondering how much of it I really want to move. And, of course, I'm looking at my yarn stash and wondering where I'm going to keep it all... because you know... priorities...

Off to daydream. Have a great week.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

And Then, I Let It Go

The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward. -- Steve Maraboli
So... I've officially given up on the Never-Ending Thingy Thing. I believe this is the first project I've ever just given up on. I can't say I'm happy about it, especially after I've spent four months of my life trudging through it... but then The Day came.

It was a day like any other: got up, went to the gym, went to work, came home, walked the dog, made dinner, then settled down for an hour of knitting. It was going well. I looked down at the piece and could see it was going to be a "something," long enough to go around my neck and shoulders.... someday...

And then, while moving the stitches along my needles, I tugged a little too hard...

And I yanked off about ten stitches...

Which started to unravel...

I gasped. Then I tried for the rest of the night to get them all back on the needles, but I could tell I was missing stitches, missing decreases, missing yarn overs. I thought I could just fudge my way through it, but the next day, it was bothering me so much that I decided to rip back a few rows and see if I could correct it all.

Long story short: no. No, I couldn't fix it. It's a freaking mess.

So, I made a bird. His name is Peepity.

It felt good to finish something, even if it was a tiny wee project:

Seymour seemed to like it, anyway:

Yesterday, I spent most of the day dreaming about how I could make a top out of two 385 skeins of fingering weight yarn, one red and one dark grey. I had plans of colourwork, somehow incorpating one colour on each side. I came up with some interesting ideas.

And then, I changed my mind and started a shawl with some variegated yarn... because really, I just to make something pretty. The yarn is a skein gifted to me by my friend Tara a few years ago, in a colourway called "The Experiment." So far, the experiment looks promising:

The sunshine has come to Vancouver Island, so I took Seymour down to the marina with me for sunbathing and knitting. I picked up a small coffee and spilled it on me as I walked down. It's these days when I remember that no one can drink coffee and walk a dog at the same time. At least the scenery was nice:

It's interesting that, now that I've put away that silly project, I all of a sudden feel so much more creative and inspired. I guess this is a lesson for me. Sometimes, fighting your way through something that just isn't working really does cost you more than you think. I thought I'd figured that out already, but I guess I still need to learn more about it.

Time make dinner. Have a great week.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Fricken Elephant

If it wasn't for last minute, nothing would ever get done. -- Anonymous
Well, it's happened. Seymour has claimed my knitting:

He's the spitting image of Rascal. Maybe it's a thing they learn in puppy school: you MUST sleep on knitting at every possible chance:

Perhaps Seymour has mistaken it for a blanket, given that it never really changes much and can usually be found abandoned on the couch. I'm predicting that The Never-Ending Thingy Thing will be THE project of the year 2018.

As the weekend approached, I was so desperate to have something to share on this so-called creativity blog that I decided on Saturday morning that I was going to have a finished project by the end of this weekend, come hell or high water...

And ironically, it has rained nearly all weekend. Hmm.

But I've literally just finished this tonight, and darn it all, I'm going to share it. Behold: The Fricken Elephant:

I named it after I saw this photo floating around on Twitter. As a former teacher, I find it absolutely hilarious, and altogether true. English is such a funny language, and I say that as an ESL student myself:

My Fricken Elephant is quite a bit cuter. I originally planned to make it plain grey, but as per usual, I thought I might run out, since I was only working from a small leftover ball of Cascade 220. So, he got a colourful back decoration:

I used nearly every last scrap to make the head. I had a backup plan of giving him brown hair in case I couldn't finish the top of the scalp, but luckily I just made it to the top. That meant he got bullseye-style ears as well, which I think are quite cute, especially since I've sewn them on slightly askew:

So, there you have it. I think this is the year of small weekend projects while the epic cobweb project gets picked away at during the week. I don't know if I'll do another knitted toy anytime soon. They're small, but man are they fiddly, especially when you're dealing with the malarkey of sewing in ends of stripey trunks and ears...

... but I have a little dream of making a wee monster with a cowboy hat. We shall see.

Have a great week!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

An Easter Hedghog

A fool may be known by six things: anger without cause; speech without profit; change without progress; inquiry without object; putting trust in a stranger; and mistaking foes for friends. --Arabian Proverb

And now, all of a sudden, it's April. I can barely believe it. It snuck up on me, as stealthy as a pup under a coffee table:

It feels strange to me that it's also Easter Sunday today. I can't remember Easter ever falling on April 1st, but here it is. I don't feel very Easter-y this year and I'm not sure why. I guess that's why I felt the need to make a felted hedgehog with rainbow prickles instead of a bunny:

I'd been thinking about making another felted sheep, but a friend brought up a tutorial she had seen online for felted hedgehogs, and well, it seemed like the thing to do:

The body is made on a wire frame covered with some hand-carded wool someone gave me. The white pillowy frame around his face is combed merino top, and the ears are a combination of some llama roving and alpaca locks. Of course, the crowning glory is the dyed locks that make up his "prickles." I'm particularly pleased with how nicely those dyed locks worked out. I thought it might look too clown-ish, but I find it quite charming. And I'm no expert, but I think it even might make for good camouflage, but as I am not actually a hedgehog I couldn't say for sure. The kink in the locks also give it quite a coiffed look: possibly the most styled prickles a hedgehog ever had:

The other hedgehogs in the collection barely even looked twice:

We've had a visitor in the office for the last couple of weeks: Levi, a two-year old chihuahua. He's the quintessential little dog: quite the little general, and quite the lap dog:

And he's also quite distracting when I'm trying to get work done. Oh well:

Luckily, Seymour didn't seem to mind too much. He sniffed me ever so carefully when I got home, but he figures he could eradicate the other doggie's smell by napping on me every chance he gets:

Ruff life, as they say:

The never-ending thingy thing project is still going on, and I'm just going to keep hammering at it until I'm done, I guess. In the meantime, here are some lemon poppy seed muffins I made today:

And here is the very non-Easter-y meal for tonight: slow-cooker chicken with orange, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and a bit of soy sauce. It'll do the job, I think:

I think next week might be the time to break the monogamous knitting promise. There are just too many goodies in my yarn stash waiting for me, and I'm using the never-ending thingy thing project as an excuse to be lazy. Perhaps I'll dig out something spring-coloured for a change. Or maybe I'll try another felted creature... perhaps a psychedelic mountain goat...

Have a great week!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Never-Ending Thingy Thing

I've learned a lot this year.. I learned that things don't always turn our the way you planned, or the way you think they should. And I've learned that there are things that go wrong that don't always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I've learned that some broken things stay broken, and I've learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you. --Jennifer Weiner
It's been a long week... not a difficult one, but a tiring one. Daylight Savings really kicked my butt this year and on top of that, it was our first week with our Mr. Seymour. We're tired, but we made it:

He's a sweet little creature, complete with his own darling habits and a few naughty ones. He does well in the car, usually just curling up and going to sleep during the ride. He sleeps well at night, even if he does insist on his bed being at my feet on top of our bed. It's a good thing we upgraded to a king-sized mattress: we'd never get any sleep around here.

The Humane Society had scheduled a dental cleaning for him last Friday. They do that with all little dogs, as they tend to be a bit spoiled with soft food and not enough exercise to keep their mouths in order. It was nice to get it out of the way, but he was sad and groggy and sore for most of the evening:

He bounced back pretty quickly the next day, and he felt well enough to go out on an adventure with me:

And today, he got his first bath. He was terribly unimpressed by that, and equally unimpressed with the indignity of having his ears turned back to dry out:

But it's because of him that's there's any knitting at all on the blog right now. We washed his bed and while it was drying I let him lie on a blanket I knitted ago that has never seen much use:

And yes, through it all, I pick away at this thing: The Never-Ending Thingy Thing. I have no idea what it's going to be. I just know that I haven't even reached half the skein and I'm terribly uninspired by it:

Still, the fabric is nice, I guess:

And yet, I keep working away on it, an hour here and an hour there. I keep saying to myself, "I'll give it another week, and then I'm going to start something else," but I have yet to make good on that threat. Seriously, though, it's March and I have yet to finish anything. Perhaps it's time to break the monogamous knitting vow... or maybe I could kinda cheat and felt something instead. It's nearly spring here, so I think something NOT grey would be in order...

Because we've certainly got a lot of grey around here... dark grey, almost black, with a sweet little face. That'll do just nicely. Have a great week.