Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ya Gotta See This Rooster

A fine work of art - music, dance, painting, story - has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place. ― Robert McKee, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting
Listen: just so we're clear, I'm not a huge fan of roosters. I mean, I like them, I think they're handsome birds, and I think they are among the most impressive of birds out there. It's just that I have memories of them crowing at all hours and keeping me awake every time I went to the Philippines to visit my relatives. I awoke every morning to the crow of the rooster and to the songs of the morning mass which were always serviced with a very powerful microphone from the local church. To this day, all Filipino hymns are always accompanied by a poultry chorus in my head.

But anyways...

I finished my painting workshop this week, and I am super happy with the result:


For all the memories of all that racket, that is one heck of a nice-looking rooster.  Check out that wattle, hey? And the head comb... quite impressive, I think. 

The paint is called Pebeo, a water based paint which was originally designed to mimic the look of stained glass. On canvas, it has a shiny, glossy look to it, which looks a lot like oil paint when you apply it over the textured paint that I used last week. I knew what the final product was supposed to look like, but I was so surprised when it all came together:


I'm still struggling with my tight muscles. I had a rough week: I spent a day out on a site visit with a lot of walking (i.e. limping and stopping and stretching and wincing), which meant that I had a lot of lost ground to try to get back this weekend. I'm at a full stop with all workouts right now. I think what I need most is rest and more rest.

I slept like a log last night, and woke up and "painted" myself a breakfast of oatmeal, coconut, sliced almonds, and fresh strawberries. It was so pretty that I almost didn't want to eat it:


And then I spent most of the day here on my yoga mat. It started out with lots of foam rolling and stretching, after which I decided that it would be best if I stayed on the floor to help me stretch out my hips:


It was a good place for me to do my calligraphy class homework. This is, by far, the prettiest homework I have ever had to do. I am very happy with this piece. I used some watercolour pencils for the little drawings on it, which I've never really played around with before today:


And also very happy with being able to fit this quote in somewhere:


I have another alphabet that I'm supposed to be practicing, but I'm saving that one until tomorrow to work on because it's more complicated and I think I'll need to sit at the table for that one. It's Victoria Day tomorrow and I have the day off. Queen Victoria would probably frown on me sitting on the floor anyways.

My last class is next Wednesday, and I was so happy to have the excuse to go back to the art store and get more supplies. I get to use WATERCOLOURS next week. I was so excited when I got them home with my new set that I thought I'd whip out a quick painting to share on the blog today...

... except then I remembered that I don't know how to paint with watercolours and I ended up with a piece of soggy paper and nothing more. I guess that's my next class.

It's been so nice to have some new things in my life to look forward to. It has been a good switch for my brain to concentrate on something creative and completely new to me. When I came home from my painting class on Tuesday night, I sat down and looked at my canvas and felt really, really happy... which I realized was a feeling I hadn't truly felt in such a long, long time.

I'm gonna need more of that, I think.

And the knitting... it's coming along, I swear:


It's these dagnabbed bottom-up shawls. They take FOREVER to get through. For. EVER. I keep looking at the pattern to see if I'm getting close to the final stitch count but that's like waiting for the bus in the pouring rain: doesn't 'matter how hard you look for it, it'll come when it comes... and you're just gonna have to tough it out until it does.

As much as I have been enjoying the change with my painting and calligraphy classes, I am looking forward to having my evenings back so I can get on with my knitting. I keep looking over at my forlorn stash and feeling sort of guilty that I haven't been playing with it as much I usually do. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do all the fun things, I guess.

I suppose it would be handy to have a rooster around after all. He could wake me up a bit earlier and give me a few more hours to get stuff done.

Or maybe I've been inhaling too many paint fumes. Heh.

I'm off to knit. Have a lovely week.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Unplugged

Accept — then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.This will miraculously transform your whole life. --Eckhart Tolle
I had an extra long weekend with a visit to my family in Winnipeg this week. I'd booked it a few months ago, and It was nice to have something to look forward to. Visits home are always nice because I don't plan anything concrete to do while I'm there... maybe go swimming, maybe do a bit of shopping, maybe meet up with a few friends. I mostly just enjoy sharing the same space as my parents, enjoy being in the same room as them, not even really talking, but just being together. That's the best part for me. It rejuvenates me more than any spa or retreat ever has.

In true Adriene-fashion, I did cram a lot of stuff in before my days off. I started a painting workshop at one of the local painting studios on Tuesday evening. It's a project with a type of acrylic paint called Pebeo, which has a glossy, oil paint-like sheen to it. It is turning out to be a fun way to get back into playing with paints. I did the background first with stamps on tissue paper, and then used decoupage to apply it to the canvas. After that, I drew on the main subject and then roughed it in with some texture paste, over which I will apply the colour. It's a rooster, in case you can't tell. When I looked at the photo on my phone later on, I thought it also kinda looked like a king with a beard. I will never think of King Arthur the same way now:


I also went to my second calligraphy class on Wednesday night, where we broke out some proper ink pens and had a go with this fun alphabet. I packed it to take it with me to practice while I was off, and I took it out to admire while I waited in the airport between flights:


I can't decide which are my favourite letters:


I didn't have my own pen and had to borrow one of the teacher's pens for class. As luck would have it Artists Emporium in Winnipeg was having their 40th Anniversary Sale this weekend, and almost everything in the place was 40 percent off. I love art stores. What I mean is: I LOVE ART STORES! So many pens and papers and paints and colours to look at, tools to wonder about, brushes to pick up and stroke against my palms... it was a dangerous situation for my wallet, but I held restraint and came away with a pen of my own to play with (at 40 percent off the sticker price):


And maybe a few other treats. 40 percent off is 40 percent off, after all:


I'm still finding my way around ink cartridges:


But I did manage to produce a few things while relaxing in my parents' living room:


Meanwhile, I am quite jealous of my mom's orchids that live in the living room. I don't know how she does it. Despite all of the tips she has given me, I have one that has barely grown a leaf in the last two years, but hers bloom so beautifully each year:


The blossoms on this one are as big as my palm:


Winnipeg was beautifully sunny and dry while I was there, which was a nice switch from the cool rainy weather we've been having on the Island (Island snobs: take note). I went out one afternoon to The Forks Market to wander about in the shops and enjoy a cannoli and herbal tea. I always start quoting The Godfather when I see cannoli:


And to sit by the river and watch folks enjoying the weather on a Friday afternoon in the city:



I met up with friends for dinner, and helped another friend get ready for a garage sale this weekend. I also practiced the monoline alphabet we learned this week. We're encouraged to use quotes to practice to keep it interesting for ourselves. This one was quite pertinent:


As was this one:


I did work on my current knitting project, but the thing about knitting shawls from the bottom edge upward is that, since you start with the rows that take the longest at the beginning of the project, my enthusiasm for the whole thing is challenged from the start. "How am I STILL on the 10th row??" I saw to myself. "It's because each row takes you half an hour to finish," I explain to myself. "It'll get easier as you get closer to the top."

I seem to do a lot of reasoning with myself these days. It's like talking down a child from the edge of a tantrum. It's a tiring place to find myself (both as the talker and as the child).

My muscles are still tight and sore, but feel slightly better than they did this time last week. I even managed to wander around for a couple of hours at the mall, with periodic breaks to stop and stretch. I watched a documentary during one of my flights this week about Dr. Marian Diamond, who is the brain research scientist who is responsible for the concept of brain plasticity: that your brain is the product of the environment you put it in. In case you're wondering, if you want a healthy brain, it needs:

  1. A healthy diet.
  2. Daily exercise - for both the brain and the body.
  3. Challenge - activities that force us to think.
  4. Newness - new pursuits, new ideas.
  5. Love (which is unusual for a scientist to say. They discovered that, if they held and stroked their lab rats each day, they lived to the human equivalent of 90 years).

She is also a pioneering female scientist who emerged in the 1960's, and who has endured a lot of ageism and sexism throughout her career. The narrator of the program said, "She doesn't like to talk about it. She says she prefers not to carry bitterness."

Then occurred to me, like a lighning bolt then and there (which is maybe not the best metahpor while traveling in an airplane), that this muscle tension is really me carrying around the bitterness of my current situation at work these days... along with the fear of all of those people who keep wanting me to return to my previous career finding out that I'm having a hard time. That's a lot of stuff to carry around. I'm working on it. I'll let it go soon. I think it's my brain's way of using my body to tell me to move forward... to be present in each day, instead of living in my head all the time.

I'm back on the Island today, already missing my parents, but glad to have had the chance to be with them. I feel fortunate to be able to return to the home of my childhood. It feels familiar and comforting, and it was just what I needed. My lunch is packed, and I'm about to go pack my gym bag next. I feel fresher, and for the first time in a while, a bit clearer.

Back to the routine tomorrow. Have a good week.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Activities of a Washed Up Jellyfish

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing right or better. -- John Updike
So... the knitting... it's been kinda stalled recently. My cut finger took longer than I thought to heal, and the pattern I'm making has enough twisted stitches and wrapped stitches to make it impossible to knit with a finger that threatened to split and bleed everywhere with minor pressure. Maybe there should be a physical fitness metre for patterns: "knitter should consult with their physicians prior to start of project."

Not that a doctor would know what the heck I'm talking about.

I have been talking to a lot of health professionals recently. I've been struggling for a few weeks with some tight muscles in my hips and glutes, which became bad enough to keep me awake at night and to prevent me from standing too long or walking more than ten or fifteen minutes. Oddly, I have no trouble being at the gym on the elliptical or on the bike, and apart from some of the heavier lifts, I can maintain my strength program. I can also swim. And yet, a walk to the shops is uncomfortable if I've been on my feet for longer than a few minutes. It's been depressing and demoralizing. I've been feeling slightly better over the past week, but I pushed it a bit too far today and I'm currently sitting here nursing some aching muscles.

And there's another week over.

And yet, the creative life sustains me.

I found this cotton blanket in a vintage shop a couple of weeks ago. It was all folded up in a display, and I walked past it three times until I finally decided to pick it up. It's a substantial piece of fabric (it's folded in half in this photo), and I was so taken by the colours that I decided to take it home. I thought it would make a really cute little dress:


Trouble is, I haven't sewn a full garment since I was in high school, and that was, ahem... not yesterday. I thought about winging it and trying one of those "patternless dresses," but the fabric is unique and not something I can easily get more of. I decided to search for a pattern that would work and came across this one online. Since you have to print it out yourself, putting the pattern pieces in order and sticking them together was a task in and of itself. I laid it out on the floor to make sure I had the layout right before I embarked on piecing them together:
 

One of the reasons I don't sew that often is that I don't have the space to lay out patterns and fabric to cut them properly, and so I usually end up crawling all over the floor, pinning and sticking and cutting. I had the bright idea of sticking them to the wall as I pieced them together, and that worked well, except that standing for that amount of time with my sore muscles was not ideal. I have the pattern put together, but I am reserving cutting out the pieces and the fabric for another day. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, at the art gallery:


The calligraphy course that was cancelled a couple of months ago came around again this month, and happily, it is going forward. I had a very contented evening sitting in the workshop playing with pens and paper and letters. I remarked to the hubby how much it was like being back at school again: the teacher standing up front showing how to form each letter, and then the pupils sitting quietly and practicing them on their ruled sheets over and over again. It was so calming... so nice to be using my brain in a different way.

The instructor gave us portfoilios and a handmade book to keep our things together:


Each week, we will learn a monoline font as well as a thicker brush font. I did this one with pencil, then used watercolours to paint them:


And our homework was to decorate our book. It took me a lot longer to do that than I thought it would, but I'm happy with how it turned out:


And to practice the monoline font and writing out a quote:


This one has been on my mind a lot lately:


The course runs for another three weeks, and I'm excited to find something to give me a break from my regular, regimented routine. I also have a two-part painting workshop starting this week, which I'm very much looking forward to. I've been feeling really worn out and lonely these days. It's nice to have something else to think about for a change.

But the knitting... I have not forgotten about it. My finger has healed up enough to pick it up again, except that it's a lace project, which never looks like much while it's in progress. It kind of looks like a washed up jellyfish at the moment...


... which is sort of ironic, because that's sort of how I feel like with these tight muscles these days. I'm off to go stretch for a while. Have a great week!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

My Finger Says it All

There is only a finger's difference between a wise man and a fool. --Diogenes
I've had a bit of a funny weekend... and when I say "funny," I don't mean "haha" funny, more like, "just what the heck is going on" kind of funny.

I had been looking forward to a yoga retreat I had signed up for weeks ago. It was supposed to be a one-day retreat on Saturday, and I'd been watching the calendar closely, counting down the days. On Friday morning, I got a call from the organizers to say it was cancelled due to low registration. I'd already had a few disappointments that day, so it was quite a blow. Not everyone looks forward to seven hours of yoga and meditation, but I'd been really depending on it for a bit of peace in a stressful time.

In some ways, it was a bit of a blessing in that I usually have a bunch of things I like to get done over the weekend: grocery shopping, cleaning, meal prep for the week, and most importantly, napping. I'm a grump when I don't get my weekend naps. It was a bit of a gift to get a day back to get to do all of those things.

We decided to do a bit of garden work in between all of the rain we'd been having. I have such a habit of just diving in with my bare hands and pulling, picking, digging away until my fingernails are caked with black dirt. After I'd finished, I came in and carefully cleaned under each fingernail. I poked under one a bit too hard and it stung a bit, so I carefully cleaned it, not wanting to get an infection...

After that, I really wanted to try adjusting the Oatmeal Soda Bread recipe I've been using to create sandwich-sized buns instead of one round loaf. It took a little cutting and rolling and shaping, but I'm pleased to say it was a success. It was such a triumph to remove them from the oven and to see them nestled in there like eggs in a basket:


And even more satisfying to slide them out of the pan to cool:


I felt pretty good about myself, so I went ahead and reworked a sweet potato cottage pie recipe I wanted to make for my lunch. I had a bit of inspiration to cut the sweet potatoes with my mandolin into thin slices and lay them over top to save me from cooking and mashing them. As I sliced them, I stopped to put the guard on so I wouldn't slice my hands up. Safety first, after all. I was feeling pretty clever by this point...

... until I decided I'd try to slice the rest of the leftover potato on its round edge with a knife... which then slipped and sliced deeply across the tip of my fingers. I gasped in shock, went straight over to the sink where I rinsed it, declaring that I needed to go to the hospital. I was in that stage of knowing I needed to look at it, but not wanting to... and then I looked at it, and wished I hadn't because I'd cut it quite deeply...

I went up to the health unit, which is a tiny little place where I live, and the nurse in triage was a lady I used to play volleyball with until the league broke up. She tried to engage me in v-ball talk, but I was oddly uninterested/bleeding through my paper towel. Luckily, I only had to wait a few minutes before a man named Doctor Broccoli (no joke) called my name and took me in. I thought I'd need stitches and would be told not to do anything strenuous for a week. Instead, he looked at it and declared kindly that it only needed a bit of skin glue and a bandage, and that it would probably take about three days to heal. It was quite numb by this point, so it didn't hurt when he cleaned it and applied the glue. "It's the kindergarten treatment," he said. "Tape and glue. Fixes everything."

Here's what my finger thinks of that:


I came home and took a nap. I tried to knit, but it turns out that I use my middle finger a lot more than I thought I did. After I noticed some blood on my needles, I figured it was time to give it up for a while. No use bleeding over my pretty yarn.  And typing this blogpost is taking me a lot longer than I imagined it would. I never thought I would miss my left middle finger so much.

Luckily, I do have a finished object to share: my modified Millay Jacket. I was having such a hard time getting a good angle to take a photo of it on (I'm seriously considering buying myself a selfie stick), so I hung it on a hanger to get a full frontal (heh):


Since I only had 600 yards to play with, it doesn't really close in the front, but the llama/bamboo blend allowed it to block really well and drape quite nicely when on:


I did elect to put the waist-stay in after all, but I think I put it in too low. It does sort of look like a low-waisted belt, which I'm not sure I like. But it is wearable. I'm not sure how much I like it, but maybe it'll grow on me:


Since I can't knit right now, I guess I'll go and sit on my yoga mat and try not to feel too sorry for myself for the rest of the night. Or maybe I will enjoy a cuppa from my new handbuilt teacup that I bought from Westholme Tea Farm last week:


Either way, here's hoping my middle finger heals up quickly so I can resume all middle-finger-related activities. Have a good week!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Motivation, Not Here

May you becomethe gracious and passionate subject of your own life.May you not disrespect your mysterythrough brittle words of false belonging. -- John O'Donahue
The trouble is: I don't have much motivation for anything right now.

That is the best way I could think of to start this blog post today. I've been dragging my feet with all things outside of work these days, and here I am, on a Sunday afternoon, procrastinating, trying to write something of substance in this post. I did open Blogger up, and then starting reading through some of my previous posts from a couple of years ago, getting lost in nostalgia, and remembering things I'd long forgotten. Who is that person, anyway?

It's been a relentless push at work these past few weeks. I can't really remember a lot of it, but it has felt like that episode from I Love Lucy where she gets a job at the chocolate factory and can't keep up with the flow of chocolate down the conveyor belt...

Except my work does not involve chocolate, nor was it nearly as amusing.

The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to get a bit brighter, in that we've got some new staff coming on next week. I think the current flow of tasks is slowing down a bit since we're stalled by the lack of movement from the client. A couple of us took the opportunity to just sit down and stare dumbly at our desks on Friday, waiting for the clock to tick down towards the weekend. I'm hoping that we're cresting a hill right now and that the work life is just about to back off to let me live my personal life again.

The hubby and I bought a new bed, and it was delivered on Friday. Needless to say, I have taken every opportunity to justify the purchase. I was feeling pretty run down this morning, so I took some extra time to lie in bed and doze for a while, before flopping over onto my back to watch a few silly YouTube videos on the tablet.

Wait. This is a blog about creativity and stuff. Better think of something creative... Here's a quick food shot from dinner tonight:


Oddly, despite my lack of motivation these days, my current knitting project is coming along in leaps and bounds. It's a modified version of the Millay Jacket, and I'm attempting to knit it from the top-down, purely because I'm not sure I have enough yarn for it. Each time I pick it up to knit a few rows, it seems to fly off my needles, and I'm pretty sure that, at this rate, I could be blocking this thing by next weekend.

The original pattern construction is worked firstly from the waist up, all the way to the neckline, then you're supposed to pick up stitches from the cast-on edge and then knit downward to the bottom. This creates a waist stay, which is supposed to add some stability to the garment and to make the waist STAY in place, rather than riding up or floating off. I'm debating whether or not I will create my own waist stay by casting off at the waist and then picking up the stitches again. I'm sort of dubious as to whether or not it will make a difference. I'm really just knitting along until I reach the waist, and then, well... we'll see what I feel like doing then.

Given that I don't even know what I feel like doing now, trying to predict what I'll feel like in a week is pretty much out of the question.

It looks so tiny lying there, but it's doing the annoying thing that lace does by squeezing itself together so that it looks like nothing more than a crumpled fishing net. It is quite lovely when it is stretched out, as I tried to show here:



In spite of my melancholy, spring is doing its best to peek around the corner at me. The cherry blossoms are trying to burst into bloom, and today was beautifully sunny if not all that warm. And, in spite of my lack of motivation, every so often, a hankering to knit a super-complicated lace shawl pops up. Maybe that'll be just the ticket.

You know what else would be just the ticket? Some ice cream. Have a nice Sunday, all.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Confidence, Arrogance, and a Sweater

Do not let arrogance go to your head and despair to your heart; do not let compliments go to your head and criticisms to your heart; do not let success go to your head and failure to your heart.― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
I had a strange realization the other that I've been at this knitting thing for a while now. I had a Facebook memory pop up for me from eight years ago, and well... it was a photo of one of my first handknit sweaters. Eight years??? Haven't I only been at this for two or three? Am I not still a newbie? Granted, I learned to crochet when I was a little girl... we won't talk about how long ago that was. Still, it was a shock.

As an aside: I never quite understood why the gods of Facebook decided that the "memory" feature wasn't immediately available to all users. I was sorta jealous when I saw I didn't have that feature before, but now that I have it, it's not all that great. So far, I've been getting a lot of photos of my Rascal, and that just makes me feel so sad and lonely. I miss my little doggie boy so, so much. I don't like to talk about it that often, but it hurts as much now as it did when I first lost him.

Sigh. Memories are double-edged, I guess.

I finally finished my latest sweater project late last Sunday. I was sailing along with it on Saturday night, perfectly confident that I would be finished and have it in the water for blocking before I went to bed, except... well, you know... sometimes confidence is just arrogance in disguise.

This sweater is based on a Red Heart pattern by Lorna Miser called Big Comfy Sweater, which is probably the best name for a sweater pattern you could ever have. It actually was brought to my attention by someone who visited my YouTube channel to watch one of my help videos and who messaged me with some questions. I decided right then and there that I would make it, but with some modifications (because, of course, Adriene is not knitting if she is not modifying the pattern).

I decided to knit it at a tighter gauge, because I wasn't sure such a long sweater would hold up so well with the looser gauge suggested in the pattern. I also talked it over my with my friend Linette, and decided that the ribbing on the upper half of the sweater should start above my bust to be more flattering (more "what a nice sweater", instead of "hey, have you seen these boobs?"). The pattern is written for knitting the sweater in two pieces, front and back, and then it is seamed along the sides and shoulders. I decided I'd knit the ribbing at the bottom in two pieces, and then join them to knit the body of the sweater in the round.


The original pattern didn't add any waist shaping, but I got nervous as I worked on it that it was going to turn out to be a big, unflattering, unwearable sack. I kept on, though, and when I reached the armpits, I stuck a ruler along my arm and arbitrarily chose a length I thought would work. I worked out how many stitches I'd need and cast on accordingly, using a crochet provisional stitch (sorry, I didn't take any photos of that) so that I could knit to the top of each shoulder and then pick out the crochet holder and pick up the live stitches for the other side of each sleeve. The big finish was to do a three-needle bind off, effectively eliminating any need for seaming throughout the whole project. Clever me.

What do they say about "best laid plans?"

It all went upside-down when I decided that I didn't want boxy sleeves on my already-boxy sweater. I lay in bed one night and worked out how to taper each sleeve by working short rows that would make the sleeves more fitted. And it was a good idea... until I decided I'd ignore all the rules about how to knit short rows properly. You're supposed to wrap the stitches in such a manner that it would prevent holes, but all that malarkey always throws my stitch count out, so in my great wisdom, I decided that I, the great Adriene, would not be afflicted with holes my knitting as other mere mortals are.

Yeah... about that...

It was all looking great until I was ready to join the shoulders with the three-needle bind off. I started working my way across, but each time I reached the end of one of the short rows, I would knit the bind off and, wouldn't ya know it. A hole. Big ones.

I made this face:


Then, I sat back and did some thinking. I tried fiddling with the short rows, but that was just making everything worse. In the end, I sighed, pulled out my darning needles, and started seaming the shoulders using a Kitchener stitch. So much for avoiding the seams.

I still had to mess about with the short rows to try to hide the gaps. I think I did a pretty ok job, and other people will probably not even notice. Perhaps after I wear it for a while, I won't notice either.


Who am I kidding? I notice all the mistakes in my knitting.

But, once I finished it all up and tried it on, I was amazed. The shapeless, boxy sweater was lovely: very comfortable, and quite flattering. This tells me that, either I am actually box-shaped, or perhaps I don't need to try so hard to add shaping to my sweaters. Or maybe both.


I bought the yarn so long ago that I can't even remember what the fibre content is. I THINK it's merino (but it's a good chance it's Blue Faced Leicester). And I THINK it's superwash (but I'm not taking any chances). Whatever it is, it is SUPER DUPER soft and squishy and comfortable, not in the least bit itchy against my bare skin. Geez.... now I really wish I knew what it was, because then I'd get a few more skeins...

... because, of course I need more yarn:


It's a little bit rumpled in the photo above, because I'd broken my rule about wearing new knits prior to photographing them. I'd just come back from the supermarket when I decided to pop upstairs to get a few shots. It is, incidentally, a pretty good sweater to wear for shopping.

I am very happy with how the back turned out:


And the seams at the shoulders aren't really all that noticeable:


I suppose that part of the reason it is so flattering is that the ribbing at the bottom made a sort of natural flare at the bottom after I blocked it. I kept going over and giving the ribbing a stretch every so often as it dried to keep it from clinging to my hips:


The whole sweater took just under six skeins, which I think had roughly 240 yards in each skein. I still have four full skeins left, which means I get to have another go with making something with this lovely yarn.

The weather is turning for the better these days: rainy days here and there, interspersed by lovely, bright, sunny ones. I wore this sweater out for a walk yesterday with a shawl to keep the wind off my arms. I was perfectly comfortable.

These days, my thoughts are turning towards springtime knits: lacy cardigans and cotton tops. I decided that I'd finally try my hand at making Veronik Avery's Millay Jacket, which I have been admiring for a while now. And of course, I'm modifying it, because I don't have enough yarn for the original pattern, and I don't like the front, and I think I'm getting a larger gauge with my yarn and needles... does any of this sound familiar? I spent a few days just sitting and sketching and calculating. I think I've got a good handle on it now. After all, what could go wrong?


Heh, confidence or arrogance? I guess we'll find out. Happy Sunday!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Kitten Goalie

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
I was glad to see the weekend again this week. I spent all week feeling like a kitten trying to be a goalie in a soccer match... trying to catch all the stuff that was being thrown at me. I think I did ok. I don't think I let anything past, but I wasn't really keeping score or anything. I just know that I reached Friday night feeling tired and hungry and whiney. I ate lots of snacks and went to bed early. Kitten goalies need lots of sleep and lots of snacks.

I didn't have any huge plans this weekend: mostly just chores and cooking. I finally got around to making the hubby's birthday cake, one week late. It's a recipe I found years ago from a Sainsbury's recipe card back when we lived in Belfast. I lost the card somewhere during one of our moves, but I went searching online and found that someone saved it here. It doesn't photograph all that well, but it's made with orange juice, dried apricots, ground almonds and semolina, which makes a heavy, dense cake, and which is why it's cracked all over and has a split in the middle. It's so good, it can't even hold itself up:


The little holes all over the top are for the orange syrup to soak in. I poured it over last night, and so it's well-absorbed today. It's not the easiest cake to make: I cut the very tip of my thumb off while I was slicing the apricots, and I spent half an hour cleaning the burned sugar off the stove after the syrup overflowed. But the hubby loves this cake (so much so that I had to shout at him one time for stealing a slice before it was ready), and if a cake must be made, then it must be made.

Vancouver Island keeps getting hit with slushy snowstorms. I'm pretty sick of it all, as is everyone else. It would be different if we didn't have all these sunny, spring-like days in between to get our hopes up. It's different from when I lived on the prairies - winter is winter until winter is done being winter. And when it's done, it's done. And it's not slushy and wet and icy and dangerous.

This might be the whiney kitten goalie talking here.

Anyway, perhaps I won't be too late to wear this sweater that just keeps dragging on, much like the winter (heh). I'm very happy to say that I finished one side of it, and I took the stitches for the back and the other side of the sleeves off the holders last night. I know it looks really weird here, but that's because I've got holders on the shoulders because I intend to do a three-needle bind off when I'm done the other side. It sorta looks like a white monster with beady little eyes at the top... but really, I think it's turning out to be a nice sweater... eventually:


It's Daylight Savings Time this weekend, which is means we lost an hour last night, and which is adding a degree more annoyance for me. Really? One less hour for the weekend? I don't normally get that uptight about this whole time-change thing, but right now, I must protest. When can we leave this thing behind and let us just adjust to the seasons as Mother Nature intended: with nap times intact and sleep schedules unchanged? I must write a strongly worded letter about this one of these days, complete with commas and em dashes and words like "heretofore" and "indubitably." It will be a proper Victorian-style letter, after which I will fan myself with my hanky and sit back in my settee and catch my breath. Perhaps that will show them.

Or, I can just sit around and feel sorry for myself with the same face that our new office puppy has:


In the end, I'm grateful for the weekend, shortened as it is. One of my office mates is back from his holidays this week, so maybe I can hide behind him for a while and let him field some of the shots. It might take a bit of bribery. Good thing I made cake.

And, deep down, I know what is true: all these tough days are part of what will make me a better person than I was yesterday and the day before. I am as the Skin Horse says: a little loose in the joints and a little shabby, but perhaps one day, even if my hair gets all rubbed off in the process, I'll be able to stand up stronger and wiser... and perhaps a "real" kitten goalie. Now that's a dream worth waiting for.

Happy Sunday, all.