Sunday, June 25, 2017

Hardly Moving


Today I’m flying low and I’m not saying a word. I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep. 
The world goes on as it must, the bees in the garden rumbling a little, the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten. And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off. Quiet as a feather. I hardly move though really I’m traveling a terrific distance. 
Stillness. One of the doors into the temple.
-- Mary Oliver

And just like that, it's summer... and it's hot out there. I was quite enjoying our tepid weather: cool nights, pleasantly warm days, not too sweaty, cool enough to knock out a batch of cookies if I wished. All quite civilized, yes.

And now, I have put away all my trousers and will remain in shorts until October.

I'm tired this weekend. I haven't felt this tired since I had a kidney removed from my body... and I really am not exaggerating. I keep thinking, "Next week, I'll be back to normal," but week after week has passed, and this "normal" we speak of has not appeared. The weekend arrived, and I was so tired that I couldn't sleep, which is totally ridiculous. My body kept twitching and itching, tossing and turning until I finally found myself asleep.

I awoke on Saturday having slept through the whole night, but I was still tired. I skipped my Saturday morning swim for a post-breakfast nap. The hubby came back after his swim, and enticed me with a lunch out at a local winery, which I've been wanting to do for a while now:

The trouble was: it was so hot and I was still so tired that it was a disappointing experience. We were sat on the veranda on the side of the building where there was no breeze, and I was far too grumpy to be ok with it. In the end, I asked a bewildered waitress if we could move inside, where it was at least darker and cooler, and she carefully picked up our wine glasses and led us in, looking back at me like I'd told her that I wanted to dine with my pet dragon.

I am not good company when I am tired.

I had another nap when I got home, then went to bed early and slept through the night again. I awoke this morning feeling almost normal. I turned to the hubby and announced my intention to go out for breakfast, which I almost never do. I think he was glad enough not to have his head bitten off first thing that he quickly agreed. We sat outside on their alley patio, and I looked up and admired the bright, blue sky:

When we got home, I noticed that the poppy plant I had bought for myself a few weeks ago was blooming. These poppies seem to bloom in short, energetic spurts: they flame into life for a day, and then the next thing you now, they wilt away:

Right about now, I can relate:

In the meantime, I've been slowly working away on my current knitting project. So far, I'm loving the way it is turning out, even though I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I keep thinking that I have a clear vision of how I want this thing to look in the end, but each time I work on it, that vision keeps changing. It keeps eluding me, transforming in my brain every few days: first, it was going to be a boat neck tee, then it was going to have three-quarter length sleeves, then it was going to have set-in sleeves... At the moment, I'm pretty sure it's going to have a v-neck and some cap sleeves, but I have a feeling that the yardage will dictate what it's going to look like at the end. The yarn always has the final say:

Anyway, I'm steeling myself for another week.  I know I sound an awful lot like I am being over-dramatic and self-pitying, but you now, right now I actually don't care what anyone thinks. I do know that we have some new leadership at work, and changes are ahead, and I do have faith that the changes will be good. Honestly though: I am not so sure I can handle the earth shifting beneath my feet again. We shall see.

Have a great week.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Berries, Chipmunk Cheeks, and a Stripey Challenge

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. -- Dolly Parton
It's been a cool, wet June here on Vancouver Island. I have no complaints. We've had some nice, bright, sunny days, and have had nice, cool nights where I can sleep soundly and without air conditioning. Not to brag, but I do my best sleeping in such conditions.

Our outdoor mess garden seems to be enjoying this weather as well. We have a riot of strawberry plants that started out two or three neatly planted units. They have since spread haphazardly around the plot. We barely weed them, and we mostly neglect them, apart from watering them when they seem a bit dry. They seem to like it. I quite like the wild look they have about them. Who wants neat, orderly strawberries anyway?

Our blueberry shrubs seem a tad overwhelmed, however. I don't know if it's because of all the rain or because they are so heavily laden with berries, but the hubby had to go out and stake them up so they wouldn't fall over with their own weight. This is not such a bad problem to have, I think:

And the cool weather has given me the excuse to roast some of the almonds I've been hoarding. I buy them in bulk when they are on sale and store them like a chipmunk until it's cool enough to run the oven. I roast them at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour - no oil, no salt. When I pull them out, they are slightly chewy, but when they cool, they are delightful, nutty, crispy treats, and I have to resist stuffing them all into my mouth at once:  

Which reminds me of a baby photo I found of myself the other day. Holy crap, I was cute:

Anyway, I'm a little later than I wanted to be in getting my blog post out today. I have a work trip tomorrow that I had to get organized for. I won't be home until later in the evening tomorrow, so I wanted to get my lunches made and clothes laid out for the next couple of days, because I don't like starting the week off with everything scattered and in a mess (which is more than I can say for my closet, but I digress).

I was rushing around so much that I barely had time to take a photo of my finished embroidered cushion before the light ran out for the day. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. I think the simplicity of the pattern overrides my uneven stitches and the fact that it's slightly off-centre on the cushion. I ran out of polyfill to stuff it, so it looks a little understuffed:

Which is more than I can say for my cheeks in the previous photo.

This is not to say that I could not have done all of these things earlier today, but I was having too much fun working on my current knitting project all afternoon:

It's a top inspired by Irina Poludnenko's Bleeker Shawl. I bought the yarn a few months back with the intention of making a simple, striped tee, but when I saw this shawl, I knew I had to figure out a way to make a garment out of it. I had to spend a bunch of time trying to understand how to make the slanted stitches line up where I wanted them to:

And I kept screwing up the short rows and had to rip them out again. In fact, all four of those colour changes have been ripped out twice and re-knitted. I don't know if there's a record for the most times a stitch has been ripped out and re-knitted, but I think I might be challenging for the trophy with this one. I am, however, very excited to see how it turns out... though, at this rate, it might be next year before I finish it.

I have to go and finish getting organized for tomorrow. I'm not all that thrilled to go on this trip, since it's going to be a long, long day, but sometimes you have to do things you really don't want to do. I'm thinking about taking my knitting with me to keep me occupied during my flights, but I might take the opportunity to just sit and daydream for a while. That might be the most rewarding part of the day. And I'm taking some of my roasted almonds with me, so I could theoretically just stuff my cheeks and enjoy myself. There are worse goals to have, after all.

Have a good week!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Good Work Ongoing

I thought that I'd try writing out a quote by hand instead of typing it out for a change. After all, I did take a four-week long calligraphy class. I figured I should put it to work sometime.

I never did report on how it all finished off in the end. It was a great class, and there's another one coming up in the autumn, which I'm thinking about taking. It was the only place where I ever heard anyone utter the words, "Sorry, I'm being italic," and totally understand what they meant. 

I always find it interesting taking art classes and being around artistic-types. It's a neat feeling being with people who feel totally comfortable with someone telling them to pick up a watercolour brush and paint something. You don't get the normal, "Oh, I wouldn't know what to do with that" type comment. Being around people who are comfortable experimenting is such a freeing feeling.

I had an awkward moment near the end, though... the others were sharing their websites and Instagrams with each other, and when they turned to me to ask me if I had a website to share, I choked on my words. I don't know why, but I'm always so self-conscious to openly speak about this blog. It's one thing when people stumble upon it and start to follow it. It's something completely different when I have to speak about it aloud with people. Even when my coworkers openly ask me about it, I feel a wild rush of fear about it and quickly change the subject. I don't know why. I suppose it's because the things I share here are from a side of me that I rarely get to show in my day-to-day life, and they come from my inner-most parts: the things I dream about when real life gets to be too much. It feels strange to have people jabbering away about it aloud.

But I guess that's just me.

In the meantime, last week was a really crazily busy week, so I'm sort of glad I don't have a big complicated knitting project on the go. Instead, I've been picking away at a little embroidery project. This is a cushion cover I bought on a whim at Ikea, and I'm using some leftover silk yarn from my Going Places Shawl to embroider daisy chain circles onto it. Here's what it looked like yesterday afternoon:

And here's what it looks like this evening. It's not easy, and the stitches are wobbly and uneven, and I barely know what I'm doing, but I'm enjoying it. The yarn is helping a lot: the sheen adds to the elegant simplicity of those circles. I am looking forward to washing it and getting all of the wrinkles out. I think it'll be very pretty:

I have quite a lot of the yarn left, and I've got another cushion cover left. The wheels are already turning for what I might do with it. My Pinterest boards are already overflowing with ideas.

Except... I have a big stash of yarn looking at me. Man, I need more hours in the day.

If only I had more hours in the day...

Sorry, I'm being italic (snerk). I had to say it.

I think I'm going to spend the rest of the evening daydreaming. Happy Sunday, all.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Rendezvous in Lace

“It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.” ― Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy and Tib
I have this vague memory of something I said a couple of months ago. It went something like, "I have a hankering for a complicated lace knitting pattern." It was sometime after finishing my Big Comfy Sweater, after knitting hours and hours of plain stockinette stitch in the round.

I must stop living in these extremes.

I finished my Rendevous Shawl yesterday and got it on the blocking boards last night.  I don't knit many of these "bottom up" shawls, so I'm not used to starting off with hundreds and hundreds of stitches and working my way to just a handful. This project was a long, sluggish trudge at the beginning. I felt more optimistic after the first few weeks, and then all of a sudden, I was finished. It was like I woke up from a dream with a finished shawl in my hands. It was startling.

I was particularly amazed at how I reached the final rows. I can't fathom how a pattern writer would know that I would end up with the prescribed 55 stitches after working 46 rows of a complicated pattern with decreases and wrapped stitches. I kept trying to predict how it would end, but like any great mystery, I simply couldn't. And like any great mystery, I simply marvelled at how it all turned out. This knitting thing... it must be witchcraft.

But then, what does that make me?

I usually have such a hard time blocking these large shawls, mostly because I don't really think it through before I start sticking pins onto a pile of wet knitting. This time, I actually figured out how I was going to place this thing before I got out all the wires and pins. After that, it went surprisingly quickly onto the boards.

I moved it out onto the deck this morning to let it completely dry:

And then I took it off the boards and marvelled again at its beauty. The colour was hard to photograph. It's sort of a dark coral pink:

I really love Lily Go's patterns. They remind me of Art Deco or Art Nouveau architecture, and they satisfy my love of complex lace patterns, however long they might take me to finish. I am particularly astonished at how the wrapped stitches created those ridged arcs. I feel like I'm looking at calla lilies and bridges at the same time:

As usual, I was afraid I'd run out of yarn, but Lily's genius predicted almost precisely how much yarn I would use for 12 repeats. I actually have some left over, which would typically annoy me, but I'm actually ok with having about 60 yards left. After all, I still have a substantial shawl to show for all my efforts:

I am thrilled, as you can see:

I'm very proud of this shawl. I'm also feeling really proud to be able to work my way through these complicated projects and to see them through the end. I think that's what makes yarn people different from other people: we have this willingness to sit through the discomfort of not knowing how it will all turn out. 

That sounds suspiciously like a metaphor for life.

And so.... now on to something else to divert my attention. I thought about pulling out a summer cotton to make a simple knitted tee... or maybe I could try another shawl pattern with a skein of sock yarn... or maybe...

Maybe something completely different. Let's see how this one goes: