Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lumpy Bumpy Knitting and a Pretty Plate


I was over in Victoria last weekend visiting a friend, which meant I was a bit too tired to sit down and write a blogpost last weekend. It's funny how having one fewer day in the weekend can really tire you out. Sunday afternoon rolled around and I realized I wasn't going to be all that coherent if I tried to write, which is a shame because I had plenty of stuff to share.

I was hoping to get a bunch of knitting done while I was there. There is an optional ferry you can take to cut some of the driving time down, and I was trying hard to catch it at least on the way there to take advantage of some spare time on the needles. Unfortunately, I missed it both ways. At least the traffic wasn't too bad, but it meant I couldn't get any further with my project.

Luckily, the weekend was not without some good yarn stuff. We had a chance to stop in at Knotty By Nature, which is a shop I had only previously known about from the local fibre festivals on the Island. It's a shop that specializes in spinning and weaving, which is really inspiring for a mostly-knitter like me. As you approach the shop, the telephone poles and signs are all sweetly yarn-bombed, and as soon as you walk in, a yarnie knows they are in a place of kindred spirits:



I was fascinated by this tapestry hanging on the wall. I've daydreamed a bit about making tapestries in the past, and this just gave me a bit more fodder for the imagination:



And this piece made me think of some buttons in my stash that need a home... perhaps sewn onto a long runner or shawl or something:


Later on, we stopped in at a vintage and handmade market, which is always guaranteed to be an interesting time. I get so excited when I see tents like these springing up in the fields:



I was so, so tempted to bring this cool record player home, but then I'd have to start collecting vinyl records. That's a whole world I'm not sure I can commit to:


Instead, I came home with this sweet little plate:


I thought it was perfect for my daily treat. I mean, if you're going to eat cookies, you should eat them on a beautiful plate:


And if you're going to eat them on a fancy plate, you should make the whole thing as fancy as possible. I like to pretend it's being served to me by a butler on the lawn at Downton Abbey... because why not?


Meanwhile, I am still plodding along with my top. I sewed up the sides last weekend and knitted some cuffs onto the sleeves, and I am now knitting the second half of the neckline:


While I'm nearing the finish line with this project, I'm still experiencing some trips and falls along the way. I popped one of the seams while I was testing out the stretchiness of the fabric, which involved some emergency stitching to close the side. I may yet use my sewing machine to sew a basting stitch along each side seam, just to ensure that there are no gaps to reveal the seam underneath.  I'm also a little unhappy with how it's turning out because I'm noticing all the little errors in it that make it sloppy and untidy. My knitting gauge changed between knitting one side and the other: probably the result of worrying about running out of yarn on the second side. One side is longer because of it. I've still managed to seam both sides to match the colour changes, but the uneven gauge means that the seams are lumpy and uneven:


And since one side is longer than the other, I've realized that one side of the neckline is going to be higher. On one hand, that might be ok, because then I could make the shorter side the front, but on the other hand, since it's going to be a boatneck top, I'm not sure how it will sit on my shoulders. I guess I won't know the result until I actually finish. I think this is why I much prefer to knit things in one piece... but I bet it won't be the last time I knit a garment in pieces:


Meanwhile, I've been working on this project long enough to cast longing glances at the rest of my stash, wondering when I can be free to dive in there and do something new. Since I saw those tapestries last week, I'm itching to experiment with one... something that places around with different needles sizes and different knitting gauges...

... because goodness knows I've had enough experience messing around with gauge lately.

In the meantime, I think now's a good time to have a few handfuls of blueberries from the garden. It's a bumper crop this year, and we've been getting nearly a full punnet each day:


This is particularly amazing when I think about what the shrubs looked like only a few months ago:


There are so many that we have had to freeze a few punnets. I really must get better at eating them. That's a goal I think I could really work on.

Happy Sunday, all!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Carbon Copies

A good name is rather to be chosen than riches. -- King Solomon
I had a couple of interesting encounters yesterday. On the way to the supermarket, we stopped in at a Staples because I wanted to have a look for a few supplies. While wandering through the aisles, I came upon this:


If you were born anytime after 1985 (and yeah, I realize there a lot of you whipper snappers out there), you probably have no idea what this is. This, young ones, is where the "cc" comes from in your emails... if you are still emailing, that is (can you cc someone on Instagram? I don't know). For those of the same vintage as me, you are probably as shocked as I am that you can even buy carbon paper anymore. I remember relishing in pulling out a fresh sheet of it, carefully placing it in between two sheets of paper so I could duplicate my document, and then making sure I used every square millimetre of it before I would get a new one. I was so delighted that I picked up the packet, and scanned the aisle to find someone to whom I could exclaim my delight. An older lady was over looking at the day timers, and I trotted over and exclaimed, "Look what I found!"

I guess it's a bit shocking to be accosted by a random stranger pushing carbon paper into your face, but I think, after the initial shock, she took it quite well. "Oh, well look at that," she finally said, after blinking a few times.

"I know!" I continued. "I just have to buy it!

"Well yes," she said with a (forced) smile. "You should keep it as a souvenir of the good ol' days," she said, before slowly rolling her shopping cart away from me.

I guess not everyone is as pleased with this stuff as I am. And I am planning to use it. It's useful for transferring patterns onto canvas and onto fabric. Though, I only have 12 sheets of it... I feel the need to use it sparingly. Of course, I could always make my way back to Staples to get some more... just think of the next poor soul who will get to witness my excitement.

My other interesting encounter was at the supermarket later on, when I scanned my rewards card at the till and the lady behind it exclaimed, "Hey, you spell your name the same way I do!" I looked at her name tag, and wouldn't ya know it: another Adriene. "I've never met another one! It only took my ENTIRE life to find another person who spelled their name the same as me."

And that is how I met my OWN carbon copy.

You must understand: I am FOREVER spelling my name out to people. "No, just one 'n'," I say. "A-D-R-I-E... no E, no A... A-D-R-I-E-N-E..."

Sometimes, I say the last few letters quickly, just to keep people from trying to add -AN at the end of my name. It comes out, "A-D-R-I-eee-ehn-eeeee."

And then, nobody can pronounce my name. "Adri-AANN." "Adri-EHHHNN." I'm often called "Andrea." One enterprising person called me "Arlene," which I have yet to figure out.

At Starbucks, I tell them my name is Lisa. It's easier and faster, which is important when caffeine is involved.

So to meet someone with the same name, and who understood what it's like to be spelling your name day after day, was enough to really lift up my day. Sometimes, the world is really lonely. It felt kinda nice to find another Adriene. "Bye, Name Buddy!" I said as I left.

Yes, I take whatever joy I can get.

Meanwhile, my Over-and-Over Top continues. I was really hoping to have the second side finished and blocked by today so that I could start seaming up the sides, but I am still knitting and re-knitting sections of it. I did manage to wash and block the first side yesterday. I took this photo looking upward from the bottom edge, so it looks a little wider at the bottom than it actually is. It is a bit longer than I planned, but it will still be totally wearable:


You'll notice that I still have the needle at the top end. The yoke isn't deep enough to reach over my shoulders, so I'm keeping the stitches live so I can add a few extra inches at the top, probably with the same colour that I used for the bottom ribbing. I don't want to start it yet until I get it sewn up the sides so that I can try it on and see how much I need to knit. I am quite pleased, though, that the second side is matching up nicely with my first side... not quite a carbon copy, but a very good mirror image:


I think I'll give colourwork a rest for the next project. I'm liking the idea of knitting something with one boring colour... Perhaps something in carbon grey...

And I'll name the project Arlene... you know... after me...

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Conspiracy Theory and Sheep Detectives

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. --Stendhal
It was one of those strange weeks that felt way longer than it should have given that we had a holiday last Monday. What's even more strange is that I took an extra day off this week, which gave me three days at work, and yet three days have never felt longer. I've decided that there's a secret time-stretcher out there that the government employs to get more work out of you to make up for the day off you got. It's a theory I have yet to prove, and one should not get too stuck into conspiracy theories, but let's just say that I have invested enough time thinking about it that it might be worth taking notes on it... in secret. I mean, I'm not savvy enough to mess with governments... not at the moment...

Anyways... I spent my extra day at home on my own, watching episodes of Father Brown and Murdoch Mysteries while doing a bit of knitting and resting. Earlier in the day, before it got too hot, I went out for a wander around town. I stopped to get a coffee and a cinnamon bun and sat in the sunshine to enjoy it, which was a great treat, as I rarely get a cinnamon bun nor the chance to sit in the sunshine these days.

I stopped in at the local yarn store. It's a place that I spend surprisingly little time in, mostly because it's closed by the time I finish work. I felt fortunate to be able to get a chance to stop in. I really didn't need anything urgently, but I wanted to see if they had any polyester fibre fill to top up the stuffing in the cushion I finished a couple of weeks ago. The ladies working that day both stopped what they were doing to see if they could find some for me.

"It says on the computer that we should have three bags," one of them said, but they looked and looked, and weren't able to find them at all. 

"Perhaps they used them up for the quilting class," the other said. 

"That's ok," I said. "I can try another time. Thanks for looking."

"Ok, but we'll let you know if we find them. We should have three bags... three bags full!" And we all laughed.

Speaking of, I found this in the used book shop:


It combines two of my favourite things in the world: detective stories and sheep. It's about a flock whose shepherd has been found murdered. They take it upon themselves to find the murderer, led by the smartest sheep, Miss Maple... but not before they get into the garden and eat up all the veggies. They couldn't help themselves. They had no shepherd, after all. 

I believe I can relate to them on more than one instance.

Meanwhile, my Over-and-Over-Again Top continues to earn its name. I'm making pretty good headway with it, but I made the mistake of thinking that the second side would be easier going than the first. I am continually having to rip back and do things over. One time it was because I forgot to work the waist decreases. Another time was because I thought I'd changed colours too quickly: I ripped out the new colour, then knitted one row of the previous colour before realizing that I actually was right the first time... so I ripped that row out again. Sigh.

I'm making both sides to the same dimensions but mirroring the colours so that they will look seamless once I sew them together. The perfectionist in me is annoyed because I discovered that the waist-shaping in the first side is uneven, but the realist in me knows that this is not the first time this has happened.

And heck no, I will not rip out the first side to fix it. There is only so much agony one person can take. Now that I think of it, maybe this top is part of my time-stretcher conspiracy theory. Hmmm:


I'm still undecided as to what the neckline will look like. I keep trying to imagine it as I knit, stopping every so often to squint at the air while I try to figure it out. I also can't decide which side will be the front, as I would like to choose the side that has the fewest errors, but at the rate I'm making them, that could be anyone's guess at this stage. I'm thinking that I'll block the two sides first, and then seam up the side and try it on. I'm hoping it'll become more apparent then. That is, if it fits... which is always a worry when I make garments in separate pieces. If it doesn't fit, well...

Let's not worry about that, shall we?

In the meantime, my summer subscription for vegetable boxes from a local farm started a couple of weeks ago. I stop at the farm on the way home on Fridays to pick it up. I always huff about having to pick it up, but once I'm actually on the road to the farm, I always settle back and enjoy the rolling hills and the trees and the sunshine. There are worse burdens than that, surely... especially when the end of the road you get all this stuff:


I'm going to go make some awesome stuff with this now, and then maybe go find out what happens with Miss Maple and her flock. Not everyone can handle this kind of exciting life, but then, not everyone is me. Have a great week!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hypothermic Swims, and The Over-and-Over Again Project

I am a Canadian. I come from a "nice," thoroughly unrealistic country. --Matthew Fisher
It's Canada Day Weekend, and since the holiday fell on a Saturday, we're lucky enough to have Monday off. I'm looking forward to being off on a Monday. I always enjoy being off on a weekday, not just because it's a nice break, but also because I secretly love daytime tv. It reminds me of those rare days when I got to stay home from school as a kid when everyone else had to be at school. I had the same feeling later on as an adult when I was a substitute teacher and took a day off during the week... Man, I loved watching the kids trudging to the bus stop while I was still in my pajamas. What a great feeling.

We decided to head out to Lake Cowichan yesterday to see if the water was warm enough for a swim. When we got there, people were already starting to set up their beach chairs and bring in their picnic baskets. I was skeptical about the water temperature as soon as we arrived, as there was still a bit of a chill in the air, and we haven't had many super-warm days to warm up the lake yet this year.

The hubby and I sat on the edge of the beach in our bathing suits and rash shirts, waiting for the courage to wade in. We eventually did, and it was, shall we say, brisk. Bracing. Totally freezing, even. We hooted and waded in a bit further, swishing our limbs about and trying to adjust, and eventually, I took a  deep breath and submerged myself and started to swim as quickly as I could. It got better after a few minutes, and we swam up and down the length of the shore for an impressive 30 minutes or so before we called it quits. It was a brave attempt, nothing to sneeze at for sure.

Nothing says Canada Day like a hypothermic dip in the lake, I say.

We dried off and picked up our things and drove to the town to find a picnic table in the sunshine to enjoy our sandwiches. We were like basking lizards for the first few minutes, just soaking up the warmth of the sun again. It wasn't as busy there as I thought it would be, but I could see more people arriving by the minute. The last time I was in Lake Cowichan was before Christmas when I stopped in for a coffee on a rainy day on the way to a work meeting. This was a nice switch:



I noticed someone had yarnbombed a couple of the trees. I'm not a yarnbomber myself, but the sight of it made me smile:


We wandered over to another table and sat down to eat our lunch. I guess I'd never really noticed before, but it was the first time I noticed the displays of old logging equipment all around:



After we ate, we walked across the pavement and wandered through the little museum featuring life in the area when logging was the main industry. I was surprised at how much they were able to pack into the small space. The displays were all cleverly built, mini scenes from houses and shops... all little glimpses into the past.


 Of course, I loved the kitchen:


And after seeing the sitting room, I left coveting the box next to the organ, which looked like it was overflowing with someone's sewing project:


 And the little scissors on this embroidery hoop are just beautiful:


There were plenty of photographs on display. I'm not sure I would have chosen this seating layout, myself:


And this one just looked like a really, really bad idea:


I guess that's how this poster came about:


There was even a mini post office. These mailboxes were really cool, each one with its own combination lock:


My mom operated a phone exchange like this when she worked at an office in the Philippines:


 And the general store was a delight:


 And just WHAT are these rum soaked crooks dipped in??


Today, I am resting and relaxing. I finished one side of my top a couple of days ago. I'm still unsure of how it's going to look in the end, but I have an idea cooking in my brain that I'm hoping will work out. So far, I like the look of it:


I thought I'd be further ahead with the second side today, but I am still struggling through the twisted rib hem right now. It was nearly complete this morning, but when I compared it to the first side, I noticed that it was much smaller. I made a face... I couldn't have made it with another size needle, could I? I thought I remembered only using one size for the entire first side. Did I actually start with a larger one for the rib? Why would I do that?

This is why notes are important. And no, I didn't take any. Of course I didn't.

So, I ripped it all out and cast on with a larger size needle, but as I started working the first row (which, even when it's not twisted rib, is always a struggle), I became absolutely sure that I did NOT knit the rib with this needle, not at all, no sir. I could only deduce that my gauge had somehow changed, and the longer I thought about it, I realized that I had noticed how much more difficult the second side seemed to knit. So, I ripped it out again.

Sigh. I'm about halfway through this section, and I guess I'm more relaxed this time because it seems to be going a lot faster. I suppose that, if you're going to do anything over and over, it's going to get easier each time. I'm thinking that I should call this project "Triple K" or "The Over-and-Over Again Top," because it's looking like I'm going to be knitting each section AT LEAST three times. Lord help us.


I'm pleased to know that I have one more day off tomorrow. Things are just about the same these days at work, and I feel as tired as before, but I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that this will all balance out again some day. I really don't know how I could continue if it doesn't. I don't think I want to contemplate it just now. This weekend, I am reminded of all the privileges I have by being lucky enough to be born in this country. No matter what happens at work, I am grateful that I have this place to call home.

For now, I think I'll go get myself a bowl of ice cream and sit down to knit some good ol' twisted rib for the third time... again...

Have a great weekend!