Saturday, January 30, 2010

Note to self re: PD James

I must have read every PD James book in our local library.

I often pick one up, thinking it has somehow escaped me in the past, and take it home, only to discover about 20 pages in that I know that scene, that minor character, that road by the ocean.

I always plug on, because I can't remember who the bad guy is or even who gets murdered, why they were murdered, what thrilling end game we will be treated to. I am now reading, for at least the second time, but perhaps even the third, one called Devices and Desires.

As I always need a picture, I give you two possibly dangerous items from my very own collection. Which might be the weapon: the cricket bat once discarded by neighbours who were moving, or the 100-year-old soup ladle, once owned by my Dutch grandmother? (I hope to see short stories featuring a soup ladle as a murder weapon appearing soon!)

And now I think I have to venture out in the cold to pick up Elaine from a birthday party. The birthday girl generously asked guests not to bring gifts for her, but donations for Haiti!

That doesn't stop me whining about having to go out in the cold.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It might be quicker to make it in marble

Those of you who hang on my every word will remember that I once admired a certain floor in the Louvre, and decided to knit it.

I took this baby out this weekend because I needed "yakking with knitters in the coffee shop" knitting, and wasn't I good to work on this instead of starting something new?

This is not that much like the original, is it? (Just tilt your head -- I was too lazy to rotate the picture...)

I see that the stone one isn't as simple as I'd first thought. I was just making this:

But, as I now see, the colours are not uniformly distributed:

And, of course, I have 4 colours instead of 6 -- and there is a lot of variation in those 6! In fact, I have used two different light browns and a bit of silvery grey for some of the white -- aren't I clever? (No, because I have now used up all the second light brown in a different project...)

Ah well, since it is not a project I have worked on with any real diligence, I will put these issues off yet again and worry about it later!

For fun, I will continue to pay attention to my brown collection and keep an eye out for good yarn for this, but really, Must Knit Skiers! (I have the back and 1.5 fronts up to the arms, and will get everything to that point and then join in a yoke.)

I must add that I just put a batch of brownies in the oven. As I was putting the batter into the pan, I realised I hadn't greased the pan. Will disaster follow?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Now here's a paragraph

I am reading the original Julie/Julia project blog these days. I am maybe half-way through. Of course, Julie talks about her cooking, but she also talks about her husband and politics and New York and food. She has at least inspired me to put Julia Child's book on hold at the library, so I can make leeks gratinees and beef stew with anchovies in it!

But look at this -- this is perfect:

"It seems to me – and I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit – that any revolution in food and agricultural [sic] has to be two pronged. Yes, by all means, extol the virtues of the artisanal this and organic that, patronize the small farmers and the renegade cheese-makers, if you can afford it. But the goal is to make good food available to everyone, isn’t it? And that means doing more than opening a hoity-toity restaurant. That means lobbying and teaching and bringing the food to Mohammed, and otherwise getting your hands dirty. Get the peach to the inner city kids killing themselves with Krispy Kremes. Get the peach to the 22-year-old mother of three living off welfare checks, dependent on the Bargain Market in the strip mall. Do that – and I don’t know how you do – and you’ve really got something.

Otherwise, you’re just shoveling horseshit for rich people.

[And with that, Julie modestly descends from her soapbox.]"

From March 18, 2003. You can also read the comments there that offer some other thoughts.

And now, I shall go knit a sweater. Oh, I need a picture...

This will be my Knitting Olympics official cup. A tacky touristy Vancouver mug from likely 20 or 30 years ago. There are other significant things that would be on a modern-day tourist mug, I think!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The very exciting spelling bee

Elaine was in the school spelling bee last week. There were 22 kids to start, from grades 4, 5 and 6. We parents were stuck way up in the bleachers, but the spellers had a microphone so we had no trouble hearing. The whole school was watching!

That's her in the middle in the red pants, spelling one of her first words. The benches are full of kids. As time went on, the crowd of spellers dwindled.

That was her penultimate word -- I was saving camera battery power so didn't catch her last try -- "synthetically." The last successfully spelled word of the day was "muesli"!

Now we must watch Spellbound, and see what happens next year!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finished, I finished!

Don't get too excited -- it's doll-sized!

I meant to have this under the Christmas tree and addressed to Elaine's doll, but circumstances did not allow that!

It's this pattern, and used about 1/2 a ball of sock yarn. The funny proportions make it easy to get on over dolly's stiff fingers, and she doesn't complain about the bunching under her arms. We'll see about a modeled shot, but this morning the only doll I could find had no pants on and her hair was a mess!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Far out, far away

So, there was an annular solar eclipse.

Since I am not in the Maldives, I have to rely on others to take pictures, but I have borrowed this one from Reuters...

That's the sun, not the moon!

Oh, so cool. Except that people seem to have been looking at it through X-ray film and little cardboard glasses, which doesn't strike me as correct procedure. Just FYI, NASA says: "Unsafe filters include color film, some non-silver black and white film, medical x-ray films with images on them, smoked glass, photographic neutral density filters and polarizing filters."

Enough of that! What I really wanted to share with you today is this video of Holly Cole.

My husband does a lot of travelling to conferences and to give talks to physicists far and wide, and he's been to both Vancouver (that's in the big blue province on the west) and Fredericton (in province #3 on the east) this week. So, eventually, I get to singing this song...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zooming right along

Love these 6 mm needles! I think when I am old and blind, I will just knit stocking stitch on 6 mm needles forever... deo volente et me potente, touch wood, etc.

Anyhoo, the first skier is in motion.

I would suggest to anyone making such a garment: don't start with the back! A wonky skier on a sleeve will be much less noticeable than one slap in the middle of one's back! This is not too bad, but I am sure I can get better at maneuvering the bits of colour around.

Those skis are especially tricky! And the goldarn poles! One stitch at the end, say a purl row. Fine. Then knit a bazillion stitches on the next row, fine. Then! Bring the yarn back across to purl one more stitch! Holy cow! When I have trimmed and secured all the ends nicely I will show you the back, but for now it is a bit of a mess.

My poor Birch sits and waits. I'll do this sweater, then Birch, then, I hope, it will be time for the Olympics, and then I have to make my mom a pair of socks for her 90th birthday... But wait... I meant to make myself a sweater for my birthday... I guess Birch will be my present! But I think I might give it to someone else... Ah, the knitter's life is never simple!

Big sigh, more later...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The tension is killing me

I've knitted one ball of the black yarn on my Skiers sweater already! I have 12, so, as usual, I am doing ridiculous calculations to see if I need to buy more.

But that's not the main point. The main point is, Lookee here, I made some zigzags!

The pattern says to use a separate length of red for each line, which I thought crazy at first. So I just went along with my one ball of red and my one ball of black. Eeeuw! Especially on the circular needle, twisting around with only 3 or 4 inches of knitted fabric below, I was not happy knitting one red stitch and 5 black ones across the row. It was hard to keep the tension right and I was loathe to leave a float of 5 stitches, so I had to hoick the red up in the middle, which didn't actually add to my pleasure at all.

I finally decided to follow orders, so cut myself 13 lengths of red. It worked quite well, except that instead of being too tight, that bit of knitting is too loose! Actually, I don't like doing colourwork... what am I doing making this garment at all... all is lost... gimme back my lace!

Ah, 6 rows of plain black has now calmed me down and I am about to start on the skier! I think I'll be more able to keep my tension on this part, since it's more or less one big blob of colour in the middle. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Starting the year off right

Oh, the joys of back-to-school! Now I have time to accomplish all those millions of little things, right?

I have a pile of knitted bits which need to be sewn up into two sweaters.

Don't hold your breath.

I should also point out that little ball of green in the basket there: it was supposed to be a doll sweater for Christmas. Better really get on to that again soon! I would have finished it in time, honest, if only the kids stayed in school till Christmas eve!

I have started to knit Birch, out of that nice yarn I have been looking at for 2 years.

Sorry, terrible picture! You start with 299 stitches and decrease down to the point, and I'm down below 279 now. It is not too hard, but I am not giving up my stitch markers just yet. I'm doing it in garter stitch, which makes it sort of fluffy. The yarn is very soft. I am using straight needles because I like these points, but I wish I could spread it out and see the whole width. Ah, the excitement.

I have ordered yarn for this classic gem, the Skiers, which I hope to have knitted for the Olympics, mid-February. I don't have the yarn in hand right yet, but this will soon be competing with Birch for actual knitting time.

I saw one in real life over the holiday -- bright green with yellow skiers! I liked it a lot, and decided I didn't need to have white snowy background. Mine will be blazing skiers, red and yellow on black! Hoo-la!

Ha ha ha ha ha.

In non-knitting news, we got two new jigsaw puzzles at Christmas. Why oh why did we start with the 1000-piece one? The one with the tantalizingly different buildings, interspersed with identical-seeming patches of shadow?

This morning we were soooo close to finishing, having 2 holes and 2 pieces. Alas, the pieces did not fit in the holes! Those big black shadows are deadly, I tell ya!

Finally, after a bit of rearranging, success! Every dang bit of shadow is now perfect. The dining room table is still covered with this, though, and we can't sit and admire it for too much longer. Back in the box!