Sunday, November 24, 2013

Give a Knitter a Fish...

*Warning: poorly applied puns ahead.

I have been foiled.

I have been knitting away on a project that I thought would easy. Simple. Quick. Instant gratitude, that what it was supposed to be. But no. Noooooo...

I thought I would make myself a nice, cushy cowl out of a couple of skeins of aran yarn that I got from the dye class I took a couple of years ago. The pinky one is my own hand dyed skein from that class, and the second is a freebie skein I took home that day. I thought I'd try out a new-to-me stitch: herringbone stitch. It sounded like a good idea: simple stitch that works best with large needles:

Thick aran yarn, size 15 needles, simple stitch. You'd think this thing would have flown off the needles. The truth is that this stitch is probably one of the most aggravatingly slow, soul-destroying stitches I've ever used. It's like knitting the whole darn thing twice. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, I don't know, but MAN I am not enjoying this.

The stitch is named after a fish. Fishy business, this whole thing. Har har.

I suppose the good thing about something so slow-going is that it gives me plenty of time to think about other stuff, especially to daydream about other projects. There have been two that have been twirling through my mind recently:

I think I've found an inspiration to help me make the sweater I saw on a recent work trip. I trawled through the internet for a couple of hours searching for "open back sweater" and came up with this on Pinterest:

So, as I knit each, slow, aggravating stitch, I think about whether or not I'll knit it in pieces, or in the round from the bottom up, or from the top down. I think about whether or not I'll knit it with wool, or with a cotton blend, and if my back will be cold with all those little holes. And I think about how I'll knit that leaf pattern, and if I've seen anything like that before. Every so often, I'll put my needles down and do some searching online, before I go back to my herringbone stitches and muse some more...

The other project I've been thinking about is this red crochet top I saw on Pinterest a few months ago (darn you Pinterest, I have STUFF TO DO!):

It comes from (and is sold out, by the way), but ever since I saw it, I felt pretty sure I could make it myself using this yarn I've have in my stash for a while:

My problem is that I have never been really good with my crochet gauge, and I haven't a clue how I'd make sure that top would fit. I'm only half-and-half about how it is constructed, despite lots and lots of reading and searching... so the never-ending herringbone stitch makes for good musing time. And if anyone has a lead for me as to how I could make that thing, that would be AWESOME, because it's sort of driving me crazy.

Project ideas driving me crazy? Unheard of. Pshaw.

And so, I knit on, musing, thinking, dreaming... Here's to hoping this whole thing will be fruitful in one way or another.

Give a knitter a fish, and maybe they'll make a sweater. Heh.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Inspiration Mondays: I Want To Meet Her When She Grows Up

And though thou seemst a weedling wild --
Wild and neglected like to me --
Thou still art dear to nature's child
And I will stoop to notice thee.
-- From To An Insignificant Flower Blooming in a Lonely Wild, in Flower Poems by John Clare
Years ago, I was a teacher. One year, I taught a Reception class in London, England (akin to kindergarten/first grade in North America). In the class next door was a little girl who was often angry, would often lash out, kick, scream, cry. The others avoided her. Nobody wanted to play with Lauren.

Then I found out that she was the youngest of several children. One day, her parents decided they would move, and that they would take all of their children, except for the youngest one...

And they left Lauren behind for the authorities to look after her. No wonder she was so angry.

One day, I spent a whole lunch hour in Lauren's classroom to give her teacher a break. Lauren was under a desk, and would not come out. I went and sat on the desk and ignored her. She reached her legs out and kicked me, over and over and over, as hard as she could. I took it, because I could, and because I knew she needed to kick someone, a big person, like the ones who had let her down. And when she came out, she hugged my legs and cried.

I often think of Lauren, and all of the other troubled/spirited/difficult children I've met throughout the years. I wonder where they are, how they'e fared, if anyone has ever taken the time to understand them. I want to see her, find out who she is now. She'd be nineteen years old now. A young woman.

Yesterday, I read this post by the mother of a girl named Boheme. She is a "spirited child," and while she is in no way in the same situation emotionally as Lauren was, all I could think was, "I want to meet her when she's grown up."

It's these difficult, often brushed aside people that attract me... complex minds that are often never explored, and make me wonder what goes on behind their eyes. I want to see who they become and who else they attract. Lauren was troubled, but she was... I dunno... there was a light to her... moonlight behind those big, brown eyes.

Perhaps this is why I have always preferred wildflowers over the hothouse flowers... the inexpensive carnations over the orchids, and the sunflowers over the roses. They last in a bouquet for ages, and each day I look at them, I notice something different. My mother knows this about me: and this is the bouquet she sent me for my birthday this weekend:

They remind me of Lauren. And now of Boheme... and of Jody, and Burak, Rebecca, Daniella, Lorena... all of those children I wish I knew now that they have grown up. I hope you are inspiring the world, all of you. You inspired me to keep looking behind the actions to the soul beneath.

Grow well, my flowers...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Daydreams of a Pack Mule

My job sometimes requires me to travel to deliver documents in person, a courier of sorts. These documents are ones that usually are of too much value to trust to a commercial courier, or require delivery on a tighter deadline than a courier can afford us. Next day delivery doesn't always happen when you live on an island.

Enter me: the Flying Pack Mule.

I do enough traveling that I don't mind the disrupted schedules and having to haul luggage here and there. I was actually pretty relaxed, because when people travel for our company, there is a whole team of people looking out for you in the background, just in case things go wrong.

So, the other day, when my first flight off the Island was grounded due to mechanical failure, I sat back and thought, "Well, at least I'm not in this on my own."

"Team Travel" at work got me onto a float plane to the mainland: my first float plane flight ever. The hubby, who is an amateur pilot, was jealous, and he should have been: it was the most peaceful, relaxing flight I'd ever been on. I was too excited (and maybe a little embarrassed) to take photos of the lounge, but it was full of comfy leather armchairs, with free muffins, tea and coffee. So civilized.

In the air, I delighted in the scenery. It was a quiet, 15-minute flight that I shared with three other passengers and the pilot. I saw a pod of porpoises, but I wasn't quick enough to catch a photo of them.

After I landed, I took the shuttle to the main airport in Vancouver, gulped down a large cafe misto, went through security, and boarded another plane. As I stood in line to board, I was distracted by a lady wearing a beautiful knit sweater: camel-coloured, knit plainly on the front, but with a cable and lace pattern down the back, in a bulky or aran-weight yarn. I stared openly as we shuffled along, trying to memorize it, and fighting with all my might not to take out my phone and take photos of it. There are certain behaviours one must keep under control in an airport...

In the air, I settled back for the 75-minute flight, enjoyed my free pretzels and a glass of tomato juice, dozed a bit, then got ready to get out as the plane landed. In the airport, I bought a big bottle of water, then got into a taxi. As the taxi pulled away, my phone rang.

"Adriene, you have to come back. The deadline for those documents has been extended, and the bosses don't want them to be submitted."

So, I sighed, and the taxi took me around the block, and I walked back into the airport, downed the large bottle of water before going back through security and got onto another plane. By this point, I was feeling pretty tired - I'd been up since 5:45am. And when I get tired, I get weird. And by weird, I mean that the line between the things said in my brain and the things I say aloud gets a little blurred. "I.D. Where's my I.D.?" I uttered. "I don't mind flying," I said, to no one in particular as I sat down. I glanced at the girl sitting next to me. She looked away. I sat down and buckled my seat belt.

In my weary state, I found myself gazing at the screen on the back of the seat in front of me and reading out the ad that flashed past, "Popcorners: the new shape of popcorn." I noticed the girl next to me trying to avert her eyes from my weirdness. It was then I decided I better close my eyes and try to rest.

I sat there and day/sleepdreamed about the sweater I'd seen earlier. It was a daydream that kept me going for the rest of the taxi trips and through the ferry trip I had to take the rest of the way home (the flights to the Island were full due to the mechanical failure of the first plane earlier that day). I'm still dreaming of this sweater, and I still haven't figured out how it was made. I wish I'd been brave enough to take a photo of it. So far, the closest I've seen through my searches was a bolero pattern by Kitman Figueroa offered free on Jimmy Beans Wool. If I took this pattern and flipped it 90 degrees and knit it into the back of a sweater, it would be close, but the lacy part is a bit too complex compared to what I'd seen that day...

I'm going to keep searching, and maybe I'll be lucky enough to find the actual sweater I saw. In the meantime, I'm booked to go back on the same trip next week. Perhaps this trip will be slightly less eventful, but maybe uneventful is not the way to go. After all, what would I have to talk about in this blog?

Till then, this is Pack Mule, signing off...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Inspiration Mondays: To Remember

Rememberance Day 2013.

I struggled a lot with what to write today. Am I inspired today? I am looking around at the news, and around at the people around me, the town I live in, wondering... wondering...

I think today, I will remember that:

  • how people respond to the great wrongs in the world is personal and comes from deep within. You may not agree with it, but you can respect it.
  • the reality for many people on this Earth is still one of war, intimidation, and suffering.
  • my daily life is the equivalent to paradise to many, many people. I will not take it for granted, and I will not forget what it took, nor what it continually takes to have it.
  • speaking your opinion on the internet is not the same as casting a vote, donating a dollar, or giving your time and energy. It is my belief that those three actions are some of the strongest actions you can do to make change happen.

Remember, honour, give, serve, be grateful, say please and thank you to those that have done things for you. That is all.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Flicky Farrah Fawcett Hair, and a New Sweater

It seems like a very, very long time since I have finished a knitted garment larger than... well, one stitch. My knitting momentum swings back and forth depending on the week and how busy life gets. Since the weather turned cooler, my stitch inspiration seems to be back. I'm glad to show you my newest finished object that I call Sweater Girl, based on a pattern from called Margot, by Linden Down. It is knit with a discontinued yarn from Elsbeth Lavold called AL, a merino/alpaca blend. I dreamed this sweater up as soon as I saw the yarn in the bargain basket at Knit and Caboodle during my last trip to Canmore. It feels good to finally see it in real life:

I mostly knit it from the instructions, except I did one more decrease for the waist (and subsequently, one more increase for the hips), and I think I added more length to the torso, but it took me so long to knit this that I can't really remember now. My intention was to make it with long sleeves, but I realized about halfway through that I didn't have enough of the camel-coloured yarn to continue the stripe pattern for them. And well, that's the problem with knitting with discontinued yarns: it's WAY more of a headache to try and get more. That's when I made the decision to go on a button hunt to make the short-sleeve version a touch more interesting. I'm quite happy with the result, especially when I discovered how warm this sweater was while walking up the hill to the gym this morning. Those sheep and alpacas really warm up when you put them together...

With leggings and tall boots in style right now, as soon as I put this outfit on, I felt a little... I dunno, retro? The flicky Farrah Fawcett-thing my hair is doing at the moment isn't helping. Still, it's a flattering silhouette, perfect for one of Charlie's Angels to fight crime in, and therefore good enough for me. I'm happy to know the sweater fits. I was a little worried that, with such a long hiatus from knitting garments, my obsession with knack for a good fit had left me, but it seems that it hasn't, at least not for this project.

I tried to strategically place the stripes so that the smaller parts of my otherwise straight figure could look smaller, and so that I could highlight the bust and hip region to give the illusion of more of an hourglass look. Nothing will replace the lack of hips, but carefully placed stripes help.

I'm thinking that this sweater is going to get a lot of good wear this winter. This pattern also might have the very rare distinction of being knit again someday in the future. Stockinette stitch, knit from the top down with garter stitch accents... the sweater practically fell from the needles, it was so easy.

Well, sorta. It fell in a slow-motion, take-way-longer-than-normal kind of way.

I'm off to join the other angels for a meeting with Charlie now. Later, y'all.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Inspiration Mondays: Slower Feet

When we walk like (we are running), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth... Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. - Thich Nhat Hanh
I've been struggling with my feet over the past few weeks. I've had difficulties with plantar facsciitis on and off over the years, and it looks like it's back. That means I spend a lot of time stretching and massaging my calves and my feet in the evenings. Most of the time, I work through it. I keep running, I keep wearing my heels at work, and I keep on trucking, rushing about, getting things done.

Such are the toils and troubles of a person who wants to get crap done all the time, and wear cute shoes whilst doing so.

I had a rare day to myself yesterday, and I immediately starting filling it with plans to make things: wind some yarn, bake some scones, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry... and I caught myself in the midst of this over-achieving mess and said, "Dude, you need to just chill." That's hard for me. But I made up my mind that I was NOT going to pack the day full of things that "needed to get done."

That meant:

  • I did not get up at 6:00am.
  • I ran 8k instead of 10k.
  • I pawed through my yarn stash and daydreamed about what I'd make next.
  • I made some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on my homemade bread. That doesn't sound very relaxing, but man it was good.
  • I napped.
  • I made blackberry scones. I ate two.
  • I read a magazine on a bench while Rascal sunbathed.
  • I came home and stretched.
  • I soaked my feet, scrubbed with with peppermint scrub, and massaged them with peppermint lotion, then sat and looked at my feet for an inordinate amount of time.

My feet carry me everywhere. They've carried me when I was extra heavy, both physically and emotionally. They've worn vastly inappropriate shoes and danced in them for hours. They've taken me to weddings and funerals, and to work and back home, to hospitals, offices, banks... but I've never though much about how I walk in them, and what it does for me, nor the Earth I walk upon.

And maybe if I just slow down a bit and rest, release some of the tension, the pain I feel in them right now will go away, and I will not only feel relaxed, but a bit more at peace. And others might feel that, too.

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. Pucker up, Earth. Here I come...