Monday, February 27, 2012

Inspiration Mondays: A Tribute to Bob

Sometimes, you get news that makes you stop and take a breath and think a bit about what it's all about.

We had sad news at my workplace today that a beloved co-worker passed away this morning. It made me stop and think...

Bob worked in security and in shipping and receiving. He was retired... I don't know from what. He was a fixture for many of us... someone who always greeted you in the morning and said goodnight at the end of the day. He walked the floor, talking to visitors, making sure people knew their way and knew where things were. He was a friendly face, a willing ear, and always, always pleasant. He was a rarity. And all who knew of his passing are grieving now.

Isn't it wonderful to have the privilege to have known someone whom everyone loved?

So many times, I hear of people who retire from work, and then cease to know how to live life. Bob didn't do that. He carried on being him... being friendly and pleasant. He was lucky to find work he could do and to be around people who appreciated him. He chose to keep on living.

My favourite memory of Bob is from a few years ago. I met him in the hallway, and I greeted him, as I always did. "Hi, Bob! How's it going?"

"Well, Adriene," he said, "I've got this gout in my fingers and it's making my fingers swell. I can't get my rings off."

"Hey, you know what you should do?" I said. "You should walk around with your hands up in the air!" We both chuckled at the thought and went on with our day. For weeks after that, whenever Bob spied me approaching him, he'd lift his hands up in the air, and I laughed.

This morning, as I sat alone in the office thinking about Bob, I remembered that day. I looked down at my hands and remembered his knobbly, gnarled fingers.Then, I looked up at the ceiling, and raised my hands up in the air, just as he used to do.

Thanks for being you, Bob. I didn't know much about you, but I'm so glad I was lucky enough to share life with you. In a world full of silliness and frivolity, your steadiness mattered to me. Goodnight... see you next time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Power of Unbuttoning

I finished my Moody Cardigan (which I have decided to call Paprika) on the weekend. It was an interesting knit, since the pattern was a little convoluted, and there were a couple of errors I had to straighten out. I was loving it as I was knitting it, though, and I couldn't wait to finish it so that I could wear it. I finished all the knitting and weaved in the ends on Sunday night, then I blocked it that evening and sewed the buttons on the next day.

Hmm. Eep, opp, ork, ah ah...

Those are the noises I make when I'm unsure. It's from an old Jetsons episode, I think.

Anyway, I didn't love it. Two problems:

  1. I messed up on the placement of one of the buttons holes. It forgot to add it in as I was knitting it, so it's a tad too low.
  2. It just didn't look... right.

I went back to the pattern and looked at the pictures. I started talking myself down:  I don't look anything like that swan-necked beautiful blonde model. I don't have that body. I am oval-shaped. I'm Mrs. Humpty Dumpty...

Then, I looked at the project pages of people on Ravelry who made the same sweater...No Humpty Dumpty-like people there. Hmmm.

And then, I unbuttoned the front. Hey... wait a minute!

And then, I loved it again.

So, the moral of the story is, when it doubt, unbutton it. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: Finding Rest

I didn't write a post yesterday because I wasn't feeling particularly inspired. I was tired after a day trip and dealing with a headache. I was worrying about things I needed to get done at work, and about things that seemed out of my control... or at least, I didn't want to have control over. I was in a bad spiral, going around and around in circles and not finding my way out. It's something that happens to me, perhaps to everyone, once in a while.

After I felt sorry for myself (and pouring out my sorrows to a friend - thanks, Squeakybuddha), I decided enough was enough. I got up and washed the dishes, then went into the living room, got out a yoga belt, and started to do one of my favourite yoga practices from a DVD my friend, Sarah, recommended to me called Yoga: Morning, Noon and Night. It opened up my hips, and stretched out my back, but most of all, it encouraged me to breathe.

What's interesting about the simple act of breathing, especially breathing with intention, is that it really makes me feel amazing. I remember my biology teacher in high school telling our class about this phenomenon... that it made him feel a tingling, energizing sensation down his back. I didn't believe him until this year, when I felt it for myself. It's a wonderful, calming feeling.

If you think yoga is not for you, and that you're not flexible/strong/cute enough to do it (because I didn't think I was any of those things before I started), know this:  If you can breathe, you can do yoga. You don't have to twist yourself into uncomfortable positions or stand on your head or do anything that hurts you. If you still don't think so, try this Simple Seated Sequence from and see if you feel better afterward. Dollars to donuts, I think you will.

(I don't know what dollars to donuts means, but it seems like a good way to place a bet... it involves donuts...)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Bestest Day

Ask a knitter: What's the best way to start the day?
Answer: Yarn!

Ask a knitter: What's the best way to end the day?
Answer: Yarn!

Ask a knitter: Who are the best people to hang out with?
Answer: People who give you yarn!

Et cetera.

Yesterday, I arrived at work, and on my desk, I found this:

It's a skein of laceweight yarn from one of our favourite Etsy shops, At Knits End (who I've mentioned in previous posts... such talent!). I'd been admiring it for a while now. I had a pretty good idea of who the Yarn Fairy was, so I picked up the phone and called dkzack's extension. "The Yarn Fairy came last night!" I said.

With a smile in her voice, she said, "Oh, she did, did she?"

"Yes," I said. "And she even took the tooth I left for her."

That made her hesitate for a split second, then she said, "I didn't know the Yarn Fairy did teeth, too."

"Oh yes," I said. "She is part of the same union as the Tooth Fairy. She has to get the same amount of work, you know."

Later on, when she visited my desk, I thanked her, even though she told me to thank the Yarn Fairy instead. She also brought along a bunch of yarn she had ordered that had just arrived. She piled it all on my desk and I laid my head on it and breathed deep.. ahhhh...

That evening, dkzack and more of my coven knitting friends came over for a Knit Night. Susan brought along news of sources for undyed roving and knitting book sales. Oh man, I love that kind of news. Time to save up my pennies so that I can buy books and make the yarn I've been wanting for a skirt I really want to make for myself...

Tara also brought along a huge basket full of... what else? Yarn! But not just any yarn, but yarn she dyed herself and is now selling at her Etsy shop. (You should click that link, by the way. You know you want to.) And we all jumped on, looked through each and every skein. And well, you should support your friends in their endeavours, so I decided that these three should stay at my house... you know, because I wanted to help out...

Clockwise from the top are: Pumpkin Spice, Honeydew and It's Grape to be Me (named by her genius daughter).

I also shared some of my own acquisitions, including this braid of roving from the aforementioned At Knits End. It's a merino/bamboo blend in the colourway called Ewe Win Some, You Lose Some. I think I really won this time:

So, it was a great day, topped off with a great visit from my coven knitting friends, lots of good Strawberry Rooibos tea and some of my homemade gluten-free Raspberry Tart based on this recipe (I made it with a rolled oatmeal base - YUM). I might rapidly be reaching SABLE status (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), but could you ask for a better end for the week?

Oh yeah, and I swam next to Captain America yesterday morning, too... but that's a whole other tale...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Inspiration Mondays: Not the Only Obsession

Cure for an obsession: get another one. -- Mason Cooley 
I'll admit it: I talk a lot about knitting. And when I'm not talking about knitting, I'm talking about yarn, and when I'm not talking about yarn, I'm talking about spinning, and when I'm not talking about spinning... well... I'm usually not talking.

However, I do have another love:  old stuff. Old letters, old postcards, old newspapers, hats, jewelry, books, teacups and colanders.

Yes, colanders. Among other things.

I've recently fallen into the world of vintage ceramics, specifically teacups and teasets. As I was trawling through the web a few weeks ago looking at cafe au lait bowls, I turned to my husband and said, "Did you ever thing you'd be married to an old biddy like me?"

Wisely, he said nothing. At least he smiled.

One of my recent acquisitions was this sweet little cream jug that I purchased from an Etsy seller called Ancien Esthetique. All I knew of it was that it was made by Villeroy & Boch and that it was old and sweet and pretty. I held back from purchasing it for a few weeks until I realized that I had not seen anything quite like it before. When it arrived and I took it out of the box, I cooed in delight. What a nice wee treasure.

Since then, I've been thinking about how nice it would be to find a sugar bowl to complement it. Since I don't know the first thing about identifying old dinnerware, the first thing I did was look up the Villeroy & Boch website. I scanned the page, read a bit about the company, and then promptly gave up. Pah, I said. They aren't going to be able to help me.

Weeks passed, and I faithfully searched online. I looked at images of Villeroy & Boch cups, plates, teapots, platters, even kitchen fixtures and toilets (apparently, if you're in the ceramic business, you also make toilets). I Googled villeroy, boch, pink, cup, tea, ceramic, peach, cream, jug, sugar in various permutations. I learned about pottery marks, learned about other ceramics manufacturers, looked at more modern patterns. At times, I thought about commissioning one to be made to match, but it just wouldn't be the same as getting the real, aged treasure...

Finally, I sent a message to the Etsy seller and asked her if she knew what pattern it was. She replied, "I don't know I'm sorry. I presume you have researched all Villeroy and Boch related sites."

Ehm, well... not really.

So, I went back to the Villeroy & Boch site and the FAQ section showed this question: "Where can I get help about historical products?" And the answer?

"Please contact Ester Schneider for assistance." And there was an link to her email address.

So, I emailed Ester, and by the next morning she had an answer for me.
Thank you for writing and for your interest in the products of our group.
This jug belonged to a dinnerware named "Santos" and was available during the 1950ies. Sometimes there are offers to find under "Karslruhe" which is the name of the shape.
I hope, I can help with this information and remain with kind regards
Ester Schneider
So, I could have saved weeks obsessing over Google searches by just biting the bullet and asking the experts. Heh.

Well, I'm glad to finally know where my little treasure is from, and hopefully, armed with this information, I will find a little partner for it. And in case you're wondering, my obsession has not lessened one bit. If anything, the interwebs will be buzzing with all my future searches... something like, sugar, bowl, santos, vintage, pink.

Ah, sweet insanity. What fun you bring to my life.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Life in a Snow Globe

Have you ever felt like your world is like a great, big snow globe that has been picked up and shaken for fun? Since I was sick last week, I feel like it's only now that all the snowflakes are starting to settle. The world is finally looking clearer and I look less like a zombie and more like the jolly dolly I am. 

Yeah, I'm not sure what a jolly dolly is. It just came out like that, ok?

I've been working steadily on my Paprika Moody. It has been decidedly slow-going because of the mistakes improvements I've been making along the way, specifically:
  • Adding bust darts to the front to give my "girls" more space.
  • Ripping out the bust darts because I ended up with way too much fabric on the front.
  • Making super-stretchy buttonholes for the big buttons I wanted to use.
  • Stitching my super-stretchy buttonholes closed so that I could use smaller and less distracting buttons.
So, I'm still kinda hovering where I was around this time last week. I think it's for the best, though. These are the buttons I was going to use:

And here are the buttons I decided to use instead:

I think these buttons are much better for the sweater. It meant spending about an hour hand-stitching the buttonholes so that the smaller buttons would sit properly. I can now say that I am now a button-stitch expert. Send me a buttonhole, I'll stitch 'er for ya!

I don't know how anyone would send a buttonhole, but you get what I mean...

I had an out-of-town appointment this afternoon. I usually bring my knitting along to work on in the waiting room, but I happened to arrive a bit earlier than I anticipated, so I decided to have a short walk around the town to explore. I found a second-hand charity shop and spied these:

Size 10, pretty, shiny, sparkly shoes! And the price? Wait for it...

One dollar and fifty cents. Wha?!

I was so happy with my purchase that I actually took one of them out and placed it on my dashboard for the drive home. It was only after I'd been driving for 20 minutes that I realized that the sequins were probably reflecting the sunlight and dazzling oncoming drivers. I snatched it off the dashboard and tossed it onto my passenger seat. Imagine having to explain that to the police...

I guess I could tell them that I was trying to replicate the snow-globe-effect for everyone. Yeah... that'd go over well...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Inspiration Mondays on a Tuesday: Respiration

I've had a cold for the last few days (in case you didn't know from the last post). Woo boy, that one was a doozy. I haven't had a cold for a couple of years, and man, this one sure made up for that time. I'm happy to say that I'm just about back to normal - a real walking, talking, breathing person.

I don't really have much to say except that, it's days like these that I really appreciate the ability to take a full lungful of breath. There are so many who can't... they live with daily health issues, or have been born with problem lungs, or a problem heart. When I walk outside to take Rascal for a walk, I think I'll remember to stop and take a big, deep breath and enjoy the air while I can.

And well, when you breathe out, the biological term for that is exhalation.
And the biological term for breathing in?


Heh, I love when it works out like that.

Cute Baby Animals - Stop and smell the flowers!

see more Daily Squee

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rascal's Blog Post

Hi, I'm Rascal. I'm writing my mom's blog post today because she's been sick. I usually sit around looking cute and watching for intruders, but I thought I'd help out and give you an update about what's been going on around here.

My mom came home at around lunch time on Thursday, and this is what she looked like:

Since then, she's been sleeping a lot, drinking a lot of tea and water, eating a lot of soup, and taking a lot of baths. I don't know how the baths are going to help her because, if you ask me, baths are bad news, but she seems to like them.

One of my mom's friends came over in the afternoon on Thursday to drop off this stuff. She likes this stuff a lot. She has lots and lots and lots of it, but she said she was lucky enough to get it at a great price from someone in Canmore who didn't want it anymore. She said she had another friend who even drove there to pick it up for her. She seemed pretty happy to get it. 

She even took this stuff upstairs to bed with her on Thursday night so she could look at it before she went to sleep.

I know it's strange to sleep next to this stuff, but forgive her. She's not feeling well, after all.

On Friday, my mom decided she wouldn't go to work, even though she slept a lot. I usually sleep the most in this house, but I think she's trying to beat my record, because I think she slept for about thirteen hours (I can't really count, but that's what she said). She had more baths and ate more soup and drank more tea and water and slept even more. She said she didn't really want to knit too much (I think that's what she calls that sticks-and-string-thing) in case she made a mistake, so she used the thing I tried to chew up during our last trip to the mountains to wind this stuff for her next project:

Today, my mom seems to be feeling better. She even took me out this morning for a walk and even she was sniffing the air a lot, just like me! It's nice to have her back outside with me, because there's so many cool things I've been meaning to show her since she's been sick. She's not always interested in the piles of leaves and the new peeing places I've found, but it's still nice to have her outside, even if it was just for a little while.

This afternoon, she worked on this. She says it's supposed to be a sweater, but I'm not so sure. She says she keeps finding little errors in the pattern (whatever that is). To me, it would make a great napping place.

Anyway, I'm trying really hard to look after my mom. She usually takes pretty good care of me, and it's nice to help her out sometimes. She's not too good at remembering to take as many naps as me, but I'm trying my best to teach her how to do it.

I'm gonna stop now, because this typing thing is pretty hard for me to do with these paws. Happy sniffs and tail wags for now!