Monday, September 27, 2010

Alright, I'm awake

Monday morning (I think). I'm fighting the urge to sleep, despite the fact that I managed to sleep for most of the night. I think we'll have to go out and get some sunlight and exercise before I crawl back into bed.

The flight over was uncomfortable, cramped and very, very long. Never again, Thomas Cook. It is an airline for smurfs, I've decided. The seats were perfect for them, but not for my husband, poor man. And I've never had a chicken dinner the size of a postage stamp before, but there's a first time for everything. Luckily, we brought snacks.

Oh, and everyone else had MUCH bigger hand luggage than the limit specified. If I weren't so tired, I'd be miffed.

I was fortunate to be seated next to an interesting gentleman who was traveling with his wife to his hometown in England for a wedding. He was a retired engineer who emigrated to Calgary in the early eighties for work, stepped off the plane, and then was immediately laid off due to the recession. Nice, huh? And yet, he stayed and weathered the storm. We chatted on and off about construction in the city, buildings, houses, learning to drive on the "wrong" side of the road, and wine holidays in Sonoma. We made fun of the flight attendants. We complained about the food. It made the journey bearable.

Then, we arrived at Gatwick, aka: what a mall in purgatory looks like.

I'd forgotten how loud and busy and bright Gatwick is. I'm sure it's all very exciting at the start of a journey, but it was like pushing pins into my eyeballs after a long, sleepless flight. We had to sit around for about three hours waiting for our gate to be announced.

Oh yeah, and I was also reminded that all immigration officials are pure bastards. If you are an immigration official, I'm sorry, but you are. You don't know it, but you were chosen to do this job because you really don't like people and you enjoy tripping them up after they've stepped off a long, overnight flight, bleary-eyed and confused. What a special talent to have.

I did manage to retain my crochet hook for this journey. At the start of the longer flight, I had ambitions of completing the entire project during the eight hours, but that was not to be. I did make a bit of headway, though, and, while lying awake last night for a few hours, I figured out exactly what I'd do with it - I think I'll make a little dinosaur applique and sew it on to the front. I'm not following the pattern at all, but it seems to be working out so far.

Oh, and my mother-in-law has alerted me to the fact that they sell wool in a shop in town. I may have to explore that later on this week.

Once I wake up, that is.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Airborne with Yarn

We've had a vacation booked to visit my in-laws over in Belfast for a few months now. It's only just dawned on me that we are leaving in less than a week, and I've got to get packing!

We used to live in Belfast, and while I was living there, I was not much of a yarnie. I knew how to crochet, and did a doily here and there for fun, but it wasn't until I moved back to Canada that I really picked up hooks, needles and yarn and started to make things. Since then, whenever I travel, I bring a project with me. This trip is proving to be quite the challenge in that respect.

The problem? Well... times changed:

1) No water allowed: Well, ok... we usually bring an empty water bottle and fill it at a water fountain after security.

2) No knitting needles: Contentious. Some airlines allow it, some don't. We fly to England, then take another flight to Northern Ireland. One allows knitting needles, one doesn't. And, sometimes, it depends on the policies of individual airports. I don't think I'll chance a knitting needle this time. I could maybe try with a crochet hook.

3) Airlines are strapped for cash: Which means? Charges for everything. Extra bags, meals, beverages, and now, over-sized cabin baggage. I never bring a huge bag anyway, but the allowance for our trans-Atlantic flight is ridiculous. 43 x 28 x 23 centimetres. That's smaller than a laptop bag (an older one, anyway). I don't think I even own a handbag those dimensions. I might get away with my lunchbox.

I don't really bring a lot of things with me into the cabin when I fly: usually a magazine or book, some snacks, and maybe a small crochet project (knit project if I fly within North America). But, at this rate, I might bring an apple and my wallet.

There is the possibility that I could just not bring any projects with me at all... pardon me while I hyperventilate. I mean, I lived a life before that did not include yarn in any form or fashion. But I was bored and restless. And we're going to be away for two weeks. Yeah, no.

I also have to consider the type of project I could bring. I want to make a gift for a newborn, maybe a blanket or bag. Those projects require a lot of yarn, though, that will take up precious space in my luggage. Maybe a toy? I'm not very good at crochet toys, especially for babies. And I've have to bring the stuffing along as well.

This is a difficult conundrum, but I suspect I'll be researching things on Ravelry for the rest of the week before I decide. I know for sure that I will not be bringing my current project, the Green Gabled Hoodie along, because a) I'm hoping to get that done this week anyway, and b) it's way too bulky for this trip.

I think I have settled on making a pillow, like the one on Crochet Me, maybe with the baby's initials worked in somehow. I have lots of cotton sitting around, and I think it will fit nicely in my luggage... somewhere.

I guess I better get on it and get started with packing. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ok, who stole my mojo?

I am not having a very successful day today. Blah.

I got up this morning and went down to the basement to exercise. I was all suited up to meet Jillian Michaels' smiling face, all stretched and hydrated and ready. One third into the DVD, I had to stop. Just too tired. Hmph.

I opened up the laptop and looked up some yoga on YouTube to do instead. Well, I'd already whacked out my arms with Jillian, so the yoga... well, unless you count lying face down on the mat, panting and sweating (that's almost child's pose, actually), that was not so successful either.

So, I picked myself up, dragged myself up the stairs and managed to shower and dress myself. Score one for usefulness.

I then decided to shorten some jeans I got this week, because the 32" inseam seems to be a variable thing these days. I figured it would take me about half an hour.

Ninety minutes later, after much swearing and after using three different screwdrivers on the machine, I ended up with a crappy hem job. What the...?

I know these things happen (especially with my sewing machine, which seems to be going through a tantrum-phase, despite all my cleaning, oiling, tightening and loosening of the parts), but boy... it's only noon, and I'm exhausted. I'm even a little afraid of picking up my knitting needles, for fear of really screwing that up.

I think that, sometimes, during the week, I end up storing up so much emotion and energy that it all goes kablooey on the weekends. Maybe this is what's happening to me today, I dunno. I might go out later and start cutting back some of my shrubs... what could go wrong there?

This is in direct contrast to last weekend, when I breezed through two completed sleeves for my Green Gable Hoodie. I knitted the first one while watching Invictus, and the other the next day. I feared the Invictus one would be of much tighter tension than the other (rubgy is intense!), but it seems to be ok.

I'm on the main body now, and I'm hoping it will all work out alright, because my gauge is off and I'm not sure my calculations are right, but I guess, given how this day is going so far, it wouldn't be too much of a shocker. I have some backup plans just in case, but I'm hoping I won't have to use them.

So, the question is: should I try to make the pie I planned on making today? Hmm...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Phoenix in Flight

It was a good test for my blocking wires, but it's finally done:

This thing is huge, but that comes of making it with needles that are a full two sizes larger than the pattern states. I've found that the changes in colours aren't nearly as jarring as I feared - rather, it has made it really interesting to look at.

I washed it twice and added conditioner to the rinse, but it is still a tad on the rough side. Kauni is not known for its softness, but its rustic nature may be why it blocked so well. And it's warm - that's wool for you. I could wear this thing outside on a cool evening and still be sweating. Goodness knows I was sweating by the end of taking these photos!

All in all, even though it seemed like the never-ending project, it's turned into something I really, really like. I'd wear it to the opera, if there was an opera to wear it to. Maybe an opera outdoors. On ice. With penguins.

I can dream, right?