Sunday, January 18, 2015

Suggestions, Anyone?

In 2010, I knitted this sweater:



It's Tikru's Green Gable Hoodie, from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008. It is a lovely sweater, and I fiddled with the design of it to make it into a zippered hoodie, rather than a pullover. It is warm and pretty, and one of my favourites...

Except a couple of years after that, I lost a bunch of weight and it doesn't fit.




This is one of those times that I regret the modifications and experiments I do with my projects. It's not that I wouldn't alter this thing (as I've done before with other sweaters that became too large for me), but it's all the fancy-shmancy doodle-dee-doos I put into this that is making alteration impossible. I removed the zipper to see if it could do it, but the prognosis is not looking good.

This is the first (and I think, the only) sweater that I worked short rows into to shape the bust. It worked out great at the time, but now that my bust is somewhat... lesser... in volume, the fabric just hangs with the two lower edges pointing downwards. I just can't figure out how to adjust it to make it fit.

And no, before you say it, I will not give it to you. You give me something that took you 60 hours to make, and then maybe we'll talk. Ahem...

I'm not opposed to leaving it the size that it currently is, but I do need some kind of suggestion for a new fastening to keep it closed. I can't leave it hanging, because the neckline is so wide that it slides off my shoulders with any arm movement more vigorous than a wave.



I thought about wrapping it around my waist and perhaps making a matching belt to tie it shut, but the points at the bottom are wrecking that for me, as are the pockets, which were a clever addition at the time of knitting, but are now just bulky inconveniences.



Perhaps a couple of looped buttons at the top? Or a clasp? Or... what?


I'll have to think on it a bit longer, but I've been holding this for so long that I'm determined to get some wear out of it before the weather gets too warm. I went through a brief period of wanting to cut it up to make it into a laptop sleeve or something. Good thing my fear of steeking and my general laziness pushed me out of that mood, otherwise this would be a very different blogpost...

I'd be asking for drink suggestions instead!

We're off for a quick vacation to California later this week, so you never know... I might find inspiration there.  Feel free to comment below - I'd love some ideas!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stripes Abound

I discovered a new accessory today:


It's not as bad as it looks, even with the dramatic blue tape. My left foot has been bothering me recently. I did what all runners do: ignored it and hoped a bit of creative shoe-tying would make it go away. After my run this morning, I took off my shoe and limped around on it, knowing that I needed to do something about it. I pulled out a roll of this blue kinesiology tape, looked up a video of how to tape my foot, and applied as instructed. Amazingly, the ache is gone. I'm going to rest it a few days and see how it feels, but currently, it feels like a miracle has taken place.

I'm sort of looking forward to a bit of time off my feet, because then I might make a bit more progress on my stripey sweater, which finally has two sleeves:


I used a different method for each sleeve to join each new colour in an attempt to prevent the "jog" from one row to the next. I think I prefer the left sleeve, where I slipped the first stitch after I joined the new colour. It looks cleaner to me, but maybe that's just because I know the difference. I'm also kind of half-and-half about the sleeve cuffs: it looks like I stitched them on, which is the result of starting the 2x2 rib too early, but I think I kind of like the way it looks. 


And yes, there are many, many, many ends to weave in. I managed to get rid of half of them as I knit each sleeve by knitting in the new colours as I joined them, while leaving a tail of the old colour hanging. Still, it took an hour of my Saturday evening to get these ones sewn in and trimmed. Ah, the life of stripey sweater knitting:


At any rate, I am still loving the colours. The gentle tonal variations are pleasing, if somewhat difficult to photograph:


At least knitting each stripe gives me a sense of progress. It's also a handy way to keep time. I learned I can knit two body stripes while waiting for a loaf of Dutch oven bread to bake:


And it takes another two stripes to roast a couple of acorn squashes:


I wonder how many stripes it'll take until my foot feels better? Hopefully not that many, but I'm trying not to be one of those people who runs through injury. That kinesiology tape comes in other colours. If anything, I can tape it up with other colours and have a leg that matches my sweater. How's that for a coordinated outfit? I may not be all that mobile, but durn it, I match!

Sigh, limpy-foot humour is not that funny. I think I'll go drown my sorrows in another cup of tea and knit some more. Send over some healing vibes, would ya?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Day Old

Today, on New Year's Day, I feel curiously awake. I feel like I've been in a very long sleep. December was rougher on me than I realized. I didn't know how tired (and irritable) I was until I wasn't anymore. I'm grateful for the opportunity to recharge, but I'm also a little scared about the fact that it got so bad for me.

I suppose this is why people make resolutions. Everyone just wants to feel better.

The holiday season flashed past. We went home to my family in Winnipeg, where we visited, ate good food, went for daily swims at the rec centre, ate more good food, took naps, and then ate more good food. Needless to say, the trousers are a bit tight these days. Ah, life after Christmas is life in stretchy pants.

In true Christmas tradition, I met up with my Winnipeg knitting friend, Linette. In preparation, I performed my own little Christmas miracle: I knit a little last-minute gift. It's miraculous because I rarely knit for other people, and also because I really suck at being thoughtful enough to get gifts together when I go home. I blame the airlines: I pack so sparingly so I can get in and out of the plane with minimal pain, and so any gifts I do manage to scramble together are from quick runs out to the drugstore to see what's there.

Anyway, I found this pattern from one of the folks I follow in Google+. It's a free pattern called Bluebird of Happiness, which I thought would make a sweet little ornament. I whipped one off in about an hour before I realized that I'd made it out of alpaca yarn, which Linette is (sadly) allergic to. It's the one in the photo on the left, which eventually went to my mom. Luckily, I had another backup yarn in Patons Classic Wool, and since I'd already practiced on the first one, the second came even faster. 


And I'm glad I got it together quickly enough, because Linette was her usual sweet self and brought me some gifts as well: a couple of portions of roving she'd been meaning to pass on to me. Seeing them makes me DETERMINED to get some spinning in soon:


And she also brought some ADORABLE knitted ornaments, shown here with a combination lock for scale (it's what was handy, ok?). I'm wondering if I could knit a little character to wear them, something equally as adorable that needs a hat, scarf and mitts to keep it warm. Hmm...


I also brought my own knitting project, for the evenings relaxing at my parent's house: a stripey sweater than I'm making from several skeins of merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn, from my friend Tara's Etsy Shop. Several days of gameshows and reruns meant that I finished half the body and nearly one full sleeve. Last night, I experimented with a double-knitted cuff, which, after a tedious couple of hours of grafting, I declared a failure:


So, I ripped it out and knitted a twisted ribbed cuff instead:


This sweater has been a rip-back-and-re-knit project. I had been placing stripes at random thicknesses before, and I was hating it. I decided inch-thick stripes looked nicer. Yes, it's a lot of ends to sew in. Yes, it's tedious. No, I don't really know what it's going to look like at the end, but at least I'm liking it a lot more now. And it turns out that inch-thick stripes makes it super easy to measure how much I've worked on. It'll be a cozy cardigan eventually:



So far, 2015 has been pretty good, even if it isn't even one day old yet. I got up and slogged through a frosty morning run (man, did I mention the stretchy pants?). We went out later this afternoon for a walk and enjoyed the sight of this swan family:


Do I have resolutions for this year? Not really... but I have set myself a couple of goals. I'm quietly optimistic, and yeah, I'm still working my way through losing my little Rascal. I miss him... I miss him so much. But after I finished my run this morning, I came up with the theme for me this year:

I deserve to have a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a nourished heart. And maybe my memories of Rascal will remind me that it's possible.

I made a batch of chicken and dumplings tonight, and now I'm going to go off and do some stretching and then some knitting. Day one: not bad at all.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Off-Kilter

I feel a little unbalanced these days.

I decided to take today off work. It was the last day before we closed up for the holidays, and I was just out of steam. I put the "pro" in "unproductive" this week. I decided I was better off staying away from my desk.

So, I woke up this morning, and for the first time in a long time, I stayed in bed. I didn't hop up and go to the gym/for a swim/for a run. I didn't jump into the shower and zoom off to work. I just... stayed there. That was strange.

We're leaving on Sunday to go to my family's house for the holidays. I'm normally crashing through the last few days of work before we go anywhere, and so my packing method is usually of the oh-whatever-I-can-buy-more-underwear-if-I-need it style.

This morning, apart from my toothbrush and some extra toiletries, I finished packing. That's two days earlier. That's strange.

I have a little poinsettia plant that I rescued from work last year. It was sitting in an arrangement that none of us realized was actually a living plant until the leaves started to fall off. I took it home and put it in a pot and figured it would do what most poinsettias do after the holidays: turn green and busy and never resemble anything Christmas-y ever again.

I looked over at it a couple of weeks ago, and for the first time in my life, a poinsettia is turning red again. Around Christmas time, even.

Strange.


And... for all my protestations and disgust over the whole "ugly Christmas sweater" trend right now, I have a feeling that my latest knitting project is just going to join the theme. I'm not so sure about this one:


I dunno. Maybe I just need some proper time off, totally switched off from work, with enough sleep and nothing pressing to do. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the merriment of the holidays more than I am. Here's hoping it all evens out somehow.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Knitting Towards Contentment

Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it. --Boethius
This week, I threw myself into work. I worked, and I worked, and I worked. I rose in the morning, I went to the gym, I ate food, drank coffee, and then I kept working.

When I went home, I knitted. I wanted to finish my Mehndi to wear to the company Christmas party on Friday, and I knew I had a bunch of work to get done on it if I wanted that. I pulled a couple of marathon knitting sessions, and by Thursday evening, I was stretching it onto my blocking boards. On Friday afternoon, I yanked it off the boards, sent the pins flying everywhere, sewed the final ends in while I stood in the living room with my coat on, and slung it around my neck as I walked out the door.

It is a beautiful finished object: so much loveliness, so many intricate stitches, every single one placed with a purpose. The yarn, Cascade Heritage Silk, is smooth and warm and showed off every single stitch. I marvel at their engineering, and how the twisted stitches create the scrolled effect that attracted me the moment I laid eyes on the pattern. It is exactly as I wanted.



I wanted to wear it with this dress, which I purchased back in September. This is an approximation of what it looked like on Friday, minus the heels and the two hours of wrestling with my hair into something of an elegant updo. I'm surprised any of my hair is left after that tortuous session. Next year, I'm wearing a friggin' hat.






And now, I've reached the weekend, and I've finally let myself rest. All of the work was just a distraction, as you probably have guessed. My brain doesn't seem to want to believe that Rascal is gone. I feel sad, and sometimes I feel silly thinking about it. "He is just a dog, after all," my brain says.

But he was my family.

I had a two-hour nap yesterday afternoon, and when I woke, the hubby opened a card we'd received in the mail. We thought it was one of the obligatory family Christmas cards that appear each year.

This one was from the staff at the vet's office.



After a week of work, I broke down and cried again.

After that, I got up, took out my swift and ball winder and wound a few skeins of yarn to start working on my next project. I knitted a swatch, made some calculations, did a bit of research, and I'm going to start on it later today.

Because what more can I do? I can only keep knitting. This is all I know how to do. And perhaps someday, it won't be so sharp, and I will feel content.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rascal


I knew it was time when he howled in pain at 6am yesterday morning.

Rascal had been coasting along for the last month or so. He was hopping around on three legs, but he was happy and wanted to go out for long walks and to eat his food and to keep wagging his tail at everyone he met. He was in a pretty good cycle, even though he needed to get up every night at least once to go out and poop. We were hopeful.

Two months ago, the vet said that they were mistaken: his tumour wasn't getting any smaller, as we had thought. We decided to put him on another type of chemo drug.

But it didn't work.

Last Friday, while he was still feeling well, I picked him up and gave him lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses... it was a happy day.

That night, he began to whimper as he lay in bed. He was restless and in pain, and he wanted to get up and go outside a lot. I noticed he was having trouble walking, even on his good leg. By morning, his walk was extremely awkward, and he couldn't hold himself up on the hardwood floors. I made a path with my blocking boards for him to walk around on so he wouldn't fall and hurt himself when he went from his bed to his dish.

He stopped eating on Wednesday. The pain continued, even with the new painkiller we got from the vet. He was quiet during the day, but he wasn't very comfortable at night.

He started eating again on Friday... he was hungry and thirsty, and we filled with hope.

Friday night and Saturday morning, he whimpered and cried.

And then he howled. And I knew.

He had an appointment at 11am, but we got ready and carried him in his bed into the car. We drove to the vet's office and waited for them to open at 8am. We knocked at the door at 8:01, just as they were switching on the "open" sign.

Adele was playing on the radio when we walked in. The hubby told them Rascal wasn't doing well, and the receptionist looked over and went off to find the vet to tell her we needed to see her. They hustled us into an examination room. The vet, a different one who I'd never met before, came in and looked at Rascal.

She knew as well.

She and the hubby talked through Rascal's history while I sat silently. Rascal was up on the table, doing the usual thing he does at the vet: pressing against one of us because he doesn't like the needles.

I didn't want him to be afraid.

She examined him, took his temperature, felt for the mass... discovered all of the things I knew to be true.

Nothing could be done.

She then did what she knew she should do: she kindly talked to us about the decision we had already made. Then she left us for a few minutes to think about this decision we had already made. Rascal whined and whimpered and moaned in pain some more, even while we held him.

I didn't want him to be afraid.

They took him away and put an IV into his arm. The vet tech was in tears when she carried him back in within his own bed. She and the others in the clinic all loved him, too.

He became quiet as the anaesthetic took hold. We stroked and petted him as he settled. He laid his head down. The vet asked the tech, who was weeping silently, to cradle his head while she finished the injection. She finished, and the tech rested his head on his bed.

He didn't look like he was dead. I told the hubby so when they left us alone. It disturbed me more than anything.

We went home. I looked outside and saw his footprints in the snow. I went into work... I'd been asked to come in. I figured it would be the best thing, to keep me going.

I cried secretly all day.

What are you supposed to do when your dog dies? Are you supposed to put his things away, throw out his dish, wipe him clean from your home? Or are you supposed to keep his things so that your heart breaks every time you see them? And what do you do about the guilt when you think about all of the things you can do now that you don't have a sick dog to look after?

I know it's for the best, that the pain is gone, and that we gave hm the best life we could. He was the best dog I could ever imagine.

But when I awoke in the middle of the night last night, I thought I could hear him. And my heart broke again. And I cried some more.

I want him back, for heaven's sake, I want him back. It's not fair, and I'm angry and sad and crying even more as I write this. I know this pain will dull someday, but I'm having trouble believing it right now.

The hubby is going out for part of today, and I'll be alone here, and I'm afraid to be alone. I'll keep thinking I can hear his tags jingling as he bops around the house. I think I might go out for a bit, take my knitting, have a coffee.

I know I'm supposed to end with some kind of wistful, hopeful, grateful thought. I'm grateful for the time we had with him. I remember turning to him one summer's day, lounging on the couch together, and saying, "I'm glad we got to be alive together at the same time." And I am. And I suppose that is what matters.

Goodnight, my baby.

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.