Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coffee and Boxing... Day

Ah, holiday visits to my hometown: family, celebration, food... and more food. I've been very well-fed, and I'm going to have to do a bit of work to get back in the health saddle when I get back to reality, but I'm enjoying myself regardless.

Boxing Day was last Monday. For those that don't know, Boxing Day is a Commonwealth statutory holiday with relatively hazy origins. According to Wikipedia, it is the day when boxes of presents and goods were given to those in service positions (in boxes, presumably). It has also been said that it was the day that employers changed places with their employees (I can't see that happening anytime soon). Nowadays, it's the day when people get up at ungodly hours to go out and get a fantastic deal at the shops. The only boxes involved would be those with new shoes inside, or TVs, or some other such item. From I heard on the news, it's starting to be a bit mad like Black Friday in the United States, with people getting into fisticuffs in parking lots. Perhaps Boxing Day is becoming a better name for this day...

But not for me. There's nothing I want THAT badly, and I'm just way too lazy to get out of bed to spend the day in a hot mall with grumpy shoppers all trying to get stuff that I don't really want.

Instead, I made a date with Linette, my Winnipeg knit-buddy that I met up with last year. We were to meet up for coffee, and perhaps a bit o' yarn shopping. Coffee, knitting, yarn? That's a way better proposition to me.

So, I took the bus downtown and met at ye olde coffee shoppe with Linette, who happened to be sitting in exactly the same spot we sat in last year, in the comfy chairs by the fireplace. "Wow, I can't believe we got the same spot," I said.

"They obviously knew we needed it for our yearly tradition," she said. "Now that we've met twice for this, we can call it a tradition now."

This is a tradition I'm happy that we created, because it's always so nice to sit down with another yarnie and talk about yarnie-things... stitch counters, knitting socks, lace, bobbles (and "sad bobbles"), buttons, sewing... and other crafty things... and cooking... and bathrooms... and Kitchen Aid Mixers.

After a while, Linette produced the following item, over which I positively squealed. Seriously. I squeaked like a mouse and sighed like kettle over it:

Is that not the coolest thing you ever did see? Apparently, these have been circulating on Ravelry, but I was totally ignorant of the fact that such a thing could be made. And it's perfect. And I'm so chuffed to have one of my own. Thanks, Linette!

Unfortunately, we discovered the LYS in Winnipeg were closed on Boxing Day. Maybe that's a good thing. Could you imagine the crowd of anxious shoppers outside those doors? Instead, we wandered down to The Bay and wandered around a while. I picked up a few bits and bobs that I liked, and on the way out, we spied this:

What is hilarious is that we both were way more attracted to the box than we were about the makeup (though, it will come in handy since I am slowly replacing all my makeup for fresher stuff). The trays in the lower half can be removed, and if I use a craft knife, I could carve the spaces in the foam above were the pencils are to be a bit longer, then I can put some drawing pencils, sketchbooks and art supplies in it for easy transport. Nice huh?

And I didn't even have to get in line to buy it.

So, that was my Boxing Day: relaxed and chill, with knitchat, coffee, good company AND a box!

Ha! Now THAT'S why they call it Boxing Day!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: Cuteness is Crucial

Sometimes, I'm teased for loving the cute stuff. Puppies, kittens, bunnies, baby bears... anything with big eyes or fluffy fur, I'm there. A day without cute things is a day wasted, in my opinion.

And what of it? For example, here are some photos I took of Rascal when he met a group of Shih Tzus during a walk today. And they were all wearing mittens. Shih Tzus wearing mittens? Come on! That's cute!

There's no deep conversation or serious issues in this post today:  just the fact that, when you find something that makes you smile, you have a right to keep those things close to you, no matter what anyone says.

Take it from him. He's a serious dude.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aaaaand it's upside-down...

What do they say about the best-laid plans?

I thought I would rush home at lunch today to take some photos of this cowl I finished the other day. I'm quite proud of it, because it's the first project I've ever knitted from some of my own handspun yarn. This is the yarn I spun from camel down with my takhli spindle a few months ago. I used Susanna IC's Nougat pattern - simple and quick. Since my yarn was a heavier weight than that called for in the pattern, I reduced the number of stitches and went up a needle size. Three days later, I had this soft, pretty cowl.

Except, I wore it upside-down for these photos. I guess that explains why I was having trouble keeping it up on my face.

Oh well. At least I got to wear my vintage fedora hat for something.

I inadvertently took advantage for the lack of elasticity in camel yarn by using a little more ribbing than originally listed in the pattern, and with a good wash with shampoo and rinse with conditioner, I had a super-soft finished object.

So, if you stand on your head, you get the full effect. Have fun doing that... and send photos of you doing it, if you choose to give it a try!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: Inches Count

My pants fit. Yes, they do.

Since I started exercising more regularly in the evenings (as you can read about in my other blog), I've tried to do a little bit of activity every day. This is above and beyond the daily dog walk and my regular swimming schedule. And it's not always an all-out workout. Sometimes, it's a 20-minute yoga session. Sometimes, it's an hour-long cardio workout. Sometimes, it's a chapter of one of my belly dancing DVDs.

And I never, ever guilt myself for missing a night. I just know I'll do something the next day. And I never punish myself with a hard workout just because I missed a night. Something is better than nothing. I inch my way forward, and if I get swept back, I don't try to gain lost ground. I just try for another inch tomorrow.

I'm saying this because we're on the home stretch before the holiday chaos this week. I know many people are frantically trying to get all the things on their lists finished, trying to find the perfect gifts, trying to cook all the food and to remember all the relatives. And some people are totally and utterly stressed out right now with it all.

My mother is really good at dealing with a big task: she does things a little at a time. She does a couple of jobs a day until they are all done. Our house is the house upon which all the friends and relatives descend (I think there were 24 people in the living room last year), and we never, ever run out of food or presents. And it's because she's so good at doing a little at a time, even if it's a last-minute task. And if something doesn't pan out, well... so what?

I hope that everyone out there remembers the age old saying, "It's the thought that counts," and that they are all pleased enough to be around their friends and family, even if things don't turn out to be the picture postcard perfection they hope for. In reality, perfection comes from intention, not from obsession. Try a little at a time, and be ok if it's not what you planned.

That's how I got my pants to fit.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

For Dramatic Poses Only

Drama is action, sir, and not confounded philosophy. - Luigi Pirandello
How often do you get the "paralysis by analysis" syndrome? You know, when you overthink how to do things to the point that nothing gets done? It's my pet peeve... talking, without saying anything, discussion, without ever reaching a conclusion.

My own brain got in the way of getting photos of this shawl until today. I'd been spending a lot of time trying to think of some new way to take my photos. I thought, I should do an outdoor shot for a change. I could rig my tripod and camera, wear my new coat, pose in front of the shrubbery.... What will I do if it's cold? How will I check the shots? Should I let Rascal come out with me? Can I get him to pose?

Well, it turns out that simple is best. Just do it. Quit talking, Adriene... let the shawl do it for you.

So, here, finally, after months of work and after putting it aside to work on other things, here is my Sugar Snap Shawl made with Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace Multi, 50% wool, 50% silk. Finished size is about 7 feet long and about 24 inches wide.I am very, very happy with it. I never dreamed it would be so beautiful, like carved wood batik stamps.

Of course, I did have to try something different. I tried taking photos in the bedroom, hair freshly washed, shiny earrings, dramatic pose:

Hey, it kinda worked. I like wearing it, but... what if it only looks good in dramatic poses like this?

Man, something tells me I'm gonna have a sore neck for the next few days...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Puppy Added for Scale

A small Christmas miracle: I finished knitting my Sugar Snap Shawl. Man, this thing is epic. And it's huge. If you don't believe me, check it out:

I think it's time to move on to something smaller and less time-consuming... like a sweater! Ha!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: A Bit of Clarity

I'm a worrier. There's no point talking me out of it. I worry. Sometimes, I feel like, if there's a problem that needs solving, I NEED TO WORRY ABOUT IT EVERY MOMENT OF THE DAY UNTIL I CAN FIX IT.

That, of course, is totally ridiculous. Worry never solved a problem, nor did it ever bring about a creative thought. It just brings about anxiety and poor sleep, and it drives away good thoughts and good friends. Maybe it's good for bringing attention to problems, but it certainly doesn't do anything about it.

I had a weird Sunday yesterday. I had a night full of nightmares about work... the same horrible things going wrong, getting worse all the time... and I woke up feeling horrible. Then, I worried. I made lists in my head of things that were wrong, things that needed work, things I needed to fix. Then, I dwelt on them. Then, I started to worry about what others thought about my ability to fix these things.

Then, I ate a bunch of fudge. Sigh.

This morning, everything came clear, and all was well, just as it always is. It's strange how easy it can be to lose perspective when you are a worrier.

There's no use telling a worrier not to worry. It does help, though, to say, "Things will be better in the morning."

As I drove along to an appointment today, I looked at the landscape around me. There was a slight fog, a little bit of blowing snow. Unclear. Vague.

And then, the sun came out, and there was clarity, and perspective. And it was beautiful.

I'm practicing perspective and reaching clarity. Today, I was reminded that it is possible, and that, when you allow your mind to be clear, you can see beautiful things.

How sad it would be if I'd missed out on it today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Alpaca Injection

I'm struggling to find some enthusiasm for everything right now, especially my knitting. Perhaps it's the dark evenings. Perhaps it's the hectic days at work. Perhaps it's because I've had a project hanging around on the backburner for months now. I looked at this sight on my dining table today and sighed. Birthday. Christmas decorations. Then bills.

Maybe I need a change of scenery.

We have our yearly holiday to L.A. booked for January, but I need a little something to pep me up until then. Given that I live in Canada, I can't necessarily count on the sunshine to bring me around right now, so I need to find something to inject a bit of life into me. A glass of wine? A bit o' chocolate? Another nap?

How about a bit of alpaca and silk?

OH YEAH, that's the stuff.

This bag has been sitting in my stash since last summer, and it deserves a bit of love. I'm going to spin it with one of the Golding spindles my hubby got me for my birthday this year. I have 100g of it to play with, so if I spin it fine enough, I might get a decent 2-ply skein out of it.

And no, I have no idea what I'll knit with it. The sad thing is that I haven't knit a single thing out of my handspun yet. You'd think with all these dark, cold evenings, I would've knit up every single skein in my house. Nope, sadly not. I just don't seem to have the energy.

Ah well. Maybe this will give me a bit of spring in my step and a bit of tingle in my fingers. At the very least, it will create just the right about of yarn envy in my friends.

Hehe, yeah... that just put a big smile on my face.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: The Old Stuff is the Good Stuff

Yesterday morning, I opened my Twitter feed and found this post from @ilovetypography:
To anyone who suggests that digital is more permanent: try opening some files on an old floppy disc; then open a 500-year-old book.
People who know me well know that I am a lover of all things traditional and old-fashioned. "Vintage" is the trendy word for it right now. Old stuff. Stuff from before.

Yeah, I know... there are plenty of really good new things out there: smartphones (which I don't have), computers (of which we have plenty in our home), running water (a necessity for me), central heating (this is Canada, for heaven's sake)...

But I love learning about the past... Sense and Sensibility directed by Ang Lee is one of my favourite movies. And I don't just love Edwardian times. I love visiting historical parks. I enjoy rummaging through antique and second-hand shops. I once volunteered to do some research in the microfiche of old newspapers and was delighted to spend hours reading each and every word.

And yet, I'm not a historian. I don't know the dates of wars or all of the most meaningful events of the Western world. I can barely remember what I did last week.

It is not surprising, then, that I have recently become interested in the world of vintage goods. I think it started when I started looking for spindles, and discovered that there are some that have been recovered from old Industrial Age buildings and so forth. Since then, I've spent countless hours scouring Etsy looking at lots of delightful stuff from ye olde tymes. That's how I found this wonderful fedora hat from The Dapper Apple. I'd been looking for one for a while, and this one even fits my gigantic melon of a head.

I've also become increasingly obsessed with teacups and cafe au lait bowls. I could easily spend a small fortune shipping them from across the pond (but that fortune does not exist, sadly). A recent trip to the local charity shop brought me this little sweetie: a Noritake cup from Japan. My apologies for the blurry photo, but the kettle was boiling and I wanted to have a cuppa with it.

I'm not only interested in the genuine articles, but in vintage-themed items as well. Here is a poster from the world-famous Aaron Wood (i.e. justonescarf on Ravelry, where he is known by practically everyone). It's called The Social Media Propaganda Poster, created in the style of propaganda posters from the WWI era. His Etsy shop is full of fantastic offerings of a similar style.

During our trip in September to several US National Parks, I picked up these postcards, which are also of a similar style. They make me think of the old school screen printing techniques when you had a limited number of swipes on the screen to get the message across. I'm hoping I'll figure out a way to display these things sometime. Any ideas are welcome!

And... the pièce de résistance: this beautiful train case from the 1960s that I purchased from Merker Ferker that arrived in the mail on Thursday. I'd been thinking about purchasing one for a long time, but old ones in good condition are tough to find. As soon as I saw this beauty, I knew I had to have it. It is in splendid shape, and boy, is this thing solid! It's true when they say they just don't make things like this any more. When I compare it to the luggage I bought a couple of years ago, I know for sure that this case will outlive those pieces.

So, what's the attraction? Why not buy things brand new, for much cheaper and with much less trouble? Why not go for the slick modern style, all chrome, covered in apples or androids and shiny cases?

Well, I do buy those things sometimes. It's just that some things are worth the trouble.

I think it's because I like the idea of things having a story. That a hat has been around the world. Or a cup has been used to serve tea to a lover. Or that a necklace was worn to a ball, a poster has inspired people to action, or a postcard caused someone to dream of another world. I feel humbled to have a piece of that history in my hands, and that it will have my history as well. I feel like I've added my own little smudge to something that will endure. Even Aaron's Propaganda Posters give you a little thrill from a time when nations banded together behind a common cause.

That's a pretty neat feeling.

And you can't deny that it's a perfect way to recycle. Instead of purchasing something brand-new that has been cranked out from a factory, you can give life to something that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. And you can see for yourself the enduring value of good craftsmanship.

This is probably why I love to knit and crochet so much. These hobbies make me part of history, a person living a little piece of the past in every stitch. In my own mind, I feel like I've joined myself to my fellow human beings, grasping one hand onto the past and the other hand forward with my own yarn innovations. A human scaffold...

This is the part where Elton John sings, "The circle of liiiiiiiiife..."

It's worth asking, though: What do you do with these things? Are they just gathering dust on a shelf somewhere?

Well, the hat has been worn a few times, and I plan to wear it when the weather gets better. I've had three cups of tea in the cup since I brought it home last week. The poster has been the envy of all my fellow social media geeks. The postcards are either going to go to friends or will be framed and hung on a wall.

And the train case?

Well, what else would I use it for?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

And Then I Fell Asleep

Here were my plans for today:
  • Walk the dog
  • Pick up a few groceries
  • Make some chocolate truffles
  • Photograph my latest project
  • Write a blog post
It started off well. I had a nice sleep in this morning - not too late, not too early. I did some yoga, then made myself some oatmeal for breakfast. I schlepped around in sweat pants while I looked at my chocolate truffle recipe to make sure I had everything. Eventually, I got changed and we headed out to run some errands.

We got back at around noon, and I started making my truffles. The ganache needed some time to set, so I put a lid on the bowl and set it outside in the snow (large deep freeze, just outside my door). Then, I decided that I would head down into the basement, pop in a workout DVD and get some exercise. Yay me.

An hour later, I emerged, panting and sweating. I headed for the shower, then slurped down the soup the hubby made for lunch. After that, I dove headlong into truffle-making. Yay me.

That's when things started going wrong.

I burned some chocolate. I discovered that, despite buying extra chocolate, I was going to run out. I was starting to get chocolate every where. I was tired from my workout. I was starting to get grumpy and snap at the hubby. It was getting warmer outside, and my extra large deep freeze just outside my door was not as efficient as I'd hoped.

I put one set of the truffles in the freezer and put the bowl into the fridge and decided I'd have a rest. I sat on the couch, picked up the laptop and started surfing the net for truffle molds, as I do every year when I make these darn things.

Then, I fell asleep.

When I awoke, the daylight had disappeared, Rascal was curled up at my feet, and my slightly damp hair had dried with one side pushed upward like I'd walked through a windstorm with my right side against a wall. Hmm... I guess I'm not taking photos today, I said to myself.

I sat on the couch for a while, feeling a little grumpy because I'd wasted half the afternoon sleeping, but I decided that, darn it, I was going to try taking these photos anyway.

I busted out the hair straighteners and repaired my weird-looking head. I put on a dress, a pair of earrings and matching necklace. I even wore the appropriate foundation garments. I rigged lights, tripods and timers. I worked at it, people. The only thing I drew the line at was putting on any makeup, because I really, really didn't feel like taking it off again this evening.

So here it is: a bolero made from two skeins of Cascade Ultra Pima in silver with a handsewn ruffle made from satin ribbon. I pressed the ribbon into pleats using a warm iron with a damp tea towel in-between. The back lace panel blocked nicely, and the whole thing is hanging beautifully.

There is one teensy, weensy error on this thing, but I refuse to tell you where it is. Suffice to say that I am not going to bother fixing it, because it would entail much ripping out of stitches, and lots of blood, sweat and tears. Apart from that, I am very, very happy with it.

What you can't see is that I'm actually still wearing my sweat pants underneath this dress. And what of it? Maybe that's the look I'm going for. Maybe that was the purpose of this whole endeavour.

Or maybe I just wanted to get back to lounging on the couch. It is my weekend, after all...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: Living beyond limits... but not alone

I was fortunate to find this talk posted yesterday on the TED website:

I feel the need to add a few things after watching this:

While it is inspirational to see how a young woman like this has overcome such immense obstacles, I think it's worth mentioning that western society seems to think that the main goal is to fight through life, to laugh at difficulties and to charge through no matter what. Yes, this is important. Don't give up and all that.

However, I think it's also important to note that we should not expect that we should have to face the world on all our own. I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about the will to live, and the way that we face the darkness in our lives. Lonely people, or rather, people who choose to be alone, have a tougher time choosing life. This woman had a wonderful circle of people around her that supported her through it all... and therefore, she could choose life.

I am trying my best to reach out to lonely people, not to solve their problems, but to be there to say that I understand that things are difficult. Sometimes, that's all people need to hear... no plans for improvement, no advice to make things better, no blame games... just that yes, we understand. Sometimes, that's enough for people to choose life.

In this fix-it-all world, sometimes the best fix is to share yourself. That's all.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Trouble with November

If there was ever a month that needed an extension, it's November. I swear this month flies by way faster than any other month. Would someone please flip the hourglass and give me a break?

My birthday was this month, and it seems like, the older I get, the less time I get to anticipate and enjoy it. November is the busiest month of the year at work for me, and it's also when everyone starts running around trying to get holiday projects started, planning events, and attending events.

And, darn it, it's when the darkness sets in.

For someone like me, that thrives in natural light, that prefers all her photos taken in natural light, it makes for an incredibly small window to get anything done. I feel like I'm constantly in artificial light, punctuated by periods of darkness. It's funny... even though I'm still technically getting the same number of hours to do things, I just can't seem to muster the energy to do them. It's a tiring, depressing time.

Today, I wanted to take some photos of the bolero I've been working on, and I really wanted some natural light to do it. I was foiled by a headache that descended on me this morning and that stuck around until this evening. I couldn't really knit, because looking down was making me nauseous, so I decided to try out my mini muffin tray instead. (I know, it's weird... but baking during my headache always seems to help me. It's better than sleeping.)

After doing lots of stretching and getting a massage from my kind husband, I finally felt well enough to take some photos, but by that time, the daylight was long gone. Hopefully, these photos aren't too hideous, but they'll have to do. This one is the back of the bolero before blocking:

And here it is all pinned out for blocking.

I plan to make a ruffle around the edges and the sleeves with some 1 1/2 inch silver satin ribbon. I'm going to sew it onto the thinner ribbon in pleats, then sew the thinner ribbon to the edges. I have no idea if it'll work, but that's the plan anyway.

The thing is, even though I'm rather proud of myself for knitting that bolero in a week, I know that, with that ruffle left to make, it's all just beginning. I'm hoping that I'll find some more energy this week to make it happen. I think I'll have to make sure I get outside at lunch hour and see some daylight, otherwise this is going to be another very long week.

And December is just around the corner. Sheesh... when is it gonna be summer again?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: Thinking about Maeve

I'm late again this week... but better late than never.

I've told many of my friends of a teacher with whom I had the privilege of working. Her name was Maeve, and she was a teacher in one of the neighbourhoods in Belfast that was regularly hit by sectarian troubles. I met her when I took a short term position teaching Primary 2 in an all-girls Catholic school. She taught the other class of girls the same age, and we did all of our planning together.

We quickly struck up a great friendship. She had great ideas and had a wonderful way of putting me at ease in a new position. She had been teaching for many, many more years than I, but she was still as eager a learner as any of her students.

Rather than taking on the traditional Belfast teacher's way of order and regiment, she had a way of listening to her students that inspired them to follow her every move and her every whim. When someone asked a question, she always stopped to listen, and then invited the others to ponder the answer. She was like a teacher in a fairy world... she spoke, and the children listened in wonder. We were working on a unit about minibeasts: the little creatures that we find under rocks and under leaves in the garden. I would often glance up and find her outside with her girls in the schoolyard, finding every single rock and looking underneath them (which was a tough thing to do in a paved courtyard). We always joined in.

One day, her class got into a discussion about spirals. The girls noticed that the snails they had collected and that were living in a tank in the classroom had a spiral shape to their snails. "Spiders make their webs like that," one said.

"That's right," Maeve said. "I wonder... what else around us is made in a spiral?"

They came up with lots of things: jellyrolls, haircurls, even galaxies. They also noted that the spiral is used in many ancient Irish hieroglyphs. The discussion went on for days. One day, a girl from her class knocked on my door, walked in and handed me a note. "You could peel an orange in a spiral!" it said in blue crayon, written in Maeve's writing.

Of course you could.

I miss Maeve. I'm ashamed to say that, after my post finished, I lost contact with her. It was like I'd stepped out of the fairy world, I couldn't find my way back in. It felt strange to try to seek her out, and the longer I waited, the more awkward it became.

I think that Maeve inspired me to slow down and to really delight in working with others, especially children. I've learned to try to listen as carefully as possible, and to value everything they tell me. One of the reasons I left teaching in a classroom was because I felt like there was never any time to listen... always rushing, always marking, always keeping on curriculum. But no listening. No pondering.

Maybe someday I'll be like her. I'll find my way back into that fairy world and be able to wander through, delighting in all around and using every single brain cell in my head, every single one of my senses. She can't be the only one in the world like her.

But she is one in a million... in a spiral galaxy of millions...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The P.O.P. Formula

Warning: I'm going to be talking about physics today. You will not require a degree to read this post, but It seemed fair to give advance warning. Definitions used are from

Definition: Infinity
  1. The quality or condition of being infinite.
  2. Unbounded space, time or quantity.
  3. An indefinitely large number or amount.
  4. The amount of time it takes for Adriene to knit a project.
Perhaps that last definition is yet to be recognized by any respectable dictionary, but at the rate I'm going, it's really only a matter of time.

I've been dragging my feet with my knitting lately. I usually spend a good chunk of each evening working on my current project, but I spent most of my evenings last week having bubble baths, scrubbing my feet, surfing the web, and drinking tea. Those aren't such bad things to be doing, but considering that I've been working on my current project for almost twelve weeks (including the time I put it down to work on other things), this kind of activity can only be described as procrastination.

Definition: Procrastination
  1. v. To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness.
  2. n. Adriene's way of life.
Sad, but true.

This situation improved somewhat yesterday when I got out some clothes to try on for a fancy event I was attending that evening. I don't get many opportunities to wear "the good clothes," so it's always a lot of fun to pull them out and admire them. I managed to figure out three different outfits: one for last evening's event, and two more for events that are coming up... except one of the outfits I wanted to wear for a future event was a dress that has little cap sleeves.

I hate my arms. I'm working on trying to remedy that situation with daily exercise and healthy eating, but my arms are well... enormous. There's no talking me out of it. Elbow-length sleeves or longer, that's my style. But this dress is one that I bought years ago when I lived in London. It was a splurge purchase just after I got a job and started making sterling pounds. It was a lot of money for me back then, but I loved it.

But I've only worn it once.

So, I decided that I could wear a bolero cardigan over top. I only have one such item of clothing, and it's black. It just wouldn't work with this lilac-coloured dress. Silver would be perfect, I said to myself.

My mind immediately went to two skeins of Cascade Ultra Pima I purchased last summer. They would be perfect... but only two skeins? Could I pull it off?

Definition: Obsession
  1. The domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image, desire, etc.
  2. The idea, image, desire, feeling, etc., itself.
  3. The state of being obsessed.
  4. The act of obsession.
  5. How Adriene spent her Sunday.
I spent all day today thinking of ways that I could make this project work. I took out all my yarn (and that's a lotta yarn) and looked through it to see if there was anything else I had that would work. It was a good thing to do. While doing so, I managed to tidy up and organize all my skeins into one space (mostly) and used the box that my spindles were gifted in to store some of my smaller balls of yarn and my spindles. Nice, huh?

Definition: Productivity
  1. The quality of being productive.
  2. The rate at which goods or services are produced especially output per unit of labor.
  3. What happens when Adriene gets herself organized.
I decided that there was nothing for it: I am going to make this project work if it kills me. I've since spent time this evening swatching and counting stitches and looking through pictures and patterns for inspiration. I think I can do this. The only question is: Can I get it done in time?

This is where the physics comes in.

When I am in a state of procrastination:
  • Productivity = 0
  • Time spent on projects = infinity

When I am in a state of obsession:
  • Productivity > (is greater than) 0
  • Time spent on projects < (is less than) infinity
Therefore, if I keep at it, I think I can get this done in time. I've got just about three weeks to finish it. I've wound the yarn, made my swatch, checked my gauge. It's go time.

That's the P.O.P. Formula: procrastination, obsession, productivity, as it pertains to knitting and Adriene.

Somebody write this down. It's important physics. Watch out, Stephen Hawking. You're gonna need to spend some good brain time on this.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Turning Thirty-Mumble-Mumble-Mumble

It's my birthday today. I turned thirty-mumble-mumble-mumble. It's been a nice day. The folks at work got me with a good surprise and we ate fabulous banana cheesecake with lots of fresh berries and whipped cream. I'm not ashamed to say I inhaled it. It was good stuff...

My hubby made his world-famous mocha cake for me (If you haven't heard of it, well maybe you're not of this world). I haven't eaten any of it yet, but he had a piece while I had a nap after work today. And yes, he did ask me if he could have a piece before he did.

We went out for dinner to our favourite restaurant, a small Greek restaurant where they make their own pita, yogurt, tzatziki, hummus... it's awesome. We smell strongly of garlic right now, but that's a good thing during cold and flu season, you know. She loves our dog (we walk past the restaurant almost every day) so she usually gives us a free bit of dessert. It's good to have dog fans!

And presents? I was really lucky this year. My brother got me a pair of shoes I fell in love with last month (they haven't arrived yet, but I'm sure they'll be here soon). It's nice to have a brother that doesn't mind getting pretty shoes for you. I already have the same pair in grey, and he got me the black pair. Being a woman with large feet means that it's really only recent days that pretty shoes have been available in my size. I'm taking full advantage of that!

My mom got me a purse. She's always had really good taste in purses and handbags, and every time she gets me one, I get compliments on it from everyone I meet. This time will be no different. Such a pretty colour! I think I'm going to use it as my spindle bag...

... because hubby got me a Golding spindle! I actually got two because, when I asked him for it, we figured it would be cheaper to get another one to combine the shipping because it was the same for any number of spindles from them. I can't remember which one he actually paid for, but I don't care. I took one of them for a test drive with some wool/silk pencil roving this afternoon, and man, do these things spin! They go and go and go... totally cool. These really are the Rolls Royce of spindles, and I'm so proud to actually have them.

I think I might treat myself to a bubble bath and foot scrub tonight and head to bed early. This is usually such a busy time of year for me that I'm usually either sick with a cold or too busy to enjoy my birthday, but it seems to have worked out well this year. I'm grateful for the well wishes from all my friends and family and for another year of life. It's been a while since I felt that way.

So, bath and bed... and maybe I'll dream of all the pretty things I'll spin with my trusty spindles and spinning bag...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: The Thing You Need to Hear

This one is going to be short and sweet because I'm already one day late, and I'm quite tired tonight.

Keep this message and put it in your pocket. Take it out when you need it. Give it to a friend when they are having a hard time. Sometimes, it's not advice or a favour you need: it's just the reassurance that there will be another chance.

There's always another chance.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eavesdropping on Yarn Gossip

White yarn: So, here we are. Another Sunday on the dining table.

Green yarn: Yep.

Evilla Colour-changing yarn: How long do you think we'll have to sit here?

White yarn: I dunno. I only just got here on the table. She re-wound me last week after I sat in the basket for two years all tangled up.

Green yarn: What kind of yarn are you, anyway?

White yarn: I think I'm acrylic. I don't really know. I lived at the Salvation Army before I came here.

Evilla: Ghastly. I'm from Estonia, you know.

Green yarn: As if anyone knows where that is...

White yarn: Whoa! What happened to that guy?

Evilla: That's one of her first attempts at using the ballwinder. She wound it a bit too loosely, and she needed to stick that toilet paper roll through his guts to keep him from falling apart.

Green yarn: Gross. I think I'm gonna be sick.

White yarn: You do look a little green... *snicker*

Green yarn: She looks kinda rough.

White yarn: She came with me. She's also from the Salvation Army. We don't know what she is or where she's from. We call her Amnesia.

Evilla: Poor thing. No pedigree. Just a mutt of a yarn.

Green yarn: I wouldn't say that. You never know. She might end up being a real gem of a yarn.

Evilla: Pah! Such a low-grade thing, unlike me. I am from Estonia, you know.

Green and white yarn: We know...

Green yarn: Who is that?

Evillia: That's that fancy silk blend she got a couple of years ago at Olds Fibre Festival. She hasn't even been wound yet.

White yarn: I bet she uses her before me. I saw her walking around with her the other day.

Green yarn: That seems fair. I think she's been here since before us.

Evilla: No! I was here first! And I have much more yardage and have been sitting here wound in a cake for a much longer time than her! I am tired of being put aside and forgotten here on the dining table!

White yarn: You know, you're right. We should do something about this. We should try to get her attention... make her notice us! Shake her up a bit!

Green yarn: Uh, guys?

Evilla and white yarn: What?

Green yarn: None of us have arms or legs. How are we going to do this?


White yarn: You and your dumb ideas, Evilla.

Evilla: How dare you talk to me like that! I am from...

Green and white yarn: We KNOW!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: Betcha Never Thought of This One

This video put a huge smile on my face today. I actually laughed in sheer delight.

I loved it so much for these reasons:
  1. It's awesome.
  2. When I think of ukeleles, I usually think of Hawaiian guys in floral shirts and Mai Tais.
  3. It takes an idea and totally turns it on its head.
These days, I feel like so many people think they've seen it all, and they have all these pre-conceived ideas of things. "I know what that's going to be like, and I know it's going to be terrible." Where have all the open minds gone? Why all the assumptions, folks?

When you see me sitting on a park bench with my knitting needles, what do you assume? That I'm a dull, unmarried spinster with no life and nothing interesting to say?

If I'd let my assumptions about ukeleles and the people who play them get in the way tonight, then I would have never seen this.

What a shame that would have been.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Inspiration Mondays: A Little Wonky is Nice

In everything... uniformity is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth... Even when building the imperial palace, they always leave one place unfinished. -- Japanese Essays in Idleness, 14th Century
Here's a question for you: When you put birthday candles into a cake, do you just throw them in willy-nilly, or do you prefer to put them in so that they are symmetrical? Six years old - three candles one each side. Seven years old - three candles on each side, one in the middle. Do you put them in in a circle? In a zig-zag?

Or do you do as I do and just get a candle that says, "7?"

I've never been one for symmetry. It's only recently that my job forces me to align to certain design principles, which I totally understand, but it beats against the insides of my brain like a mallet on the inside of an oil drum. It's not me. I don't care for it.

That might be surprising, given the fact that I love to knit cables and lace. Most of these patterns rely on symmetry to give them balance. I love the complexity of the lines, and how it forces the yarn into different shapes and to throw the light in different directions.

But if there's anything that bugs me, it's the feeling that something is contrived... that it is forced into perfection somehow.

For example, here are some mosaics I made a few years ago in a class. It took me hours to place those tiles in a position that I liked. I had to walk away from them for a few days before I could return to finish them. I wanted to feel like every single tile had been placed because it belonged there, and not because I forced it into a space. Nothing too symmetrical, nothing too contrived. I wanted it to look natural... as natural as a bunch of tiles could look, I guess.

When I painted these pots, I spent time making sure that each line, each petal, each dot, was in a totally random place. No mathematical equations, no rulers, no measures... just one by one, placing things where they felt right.

I don't like to centre things. I prefer them offset to one direction.

I don't like to wear my shawls draped over my shoulders evenly. I place them either slung over my left or right shoulder.

I like flicky, sticky-out hair.

I suppose this has come to mind because I've been thinking a lot about how we're supposed to find symmetry beautiful - that we like to see symmetrical faces, symmetrical bodies. Perhaps I rage against this because I know it's impossible, and I see people everywhere, girls especially, struggling toward this impossible ideal. Maybe I enjoy throwing a monkey wrench into the rules of beauty, and I like to see how people deal with it.

There is beauty in being outside of the box, in offset patterns, in imperfections. They make us feel emotions... feel reactions.

That's not so bad, is it? Is it?