Sunday, December 22, 2013


We had what we call an ice storm. That means that icy, ooblecky, rain-like stuff fell out of the sky and coated everything.

Before they get in their cars, people have to scrape the ice off their windshields and then their tires. Trees fall over and knock down power lines. Streetcars can't use their overhead wires. And everything looks twinkly and shiny and treacherous.

I hear, though, that no one is in the grocery store! Maybe I'll just slip out (ha ha) and get some food. And one last present. It seems better than staying here where there are dirty dishes and laundry. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

I'm going to start keeping track of books

I find that I get lots of my ideas about books to read from other people's blogs. I also find that with teenagers instead of toddlers, I have way more time to read! I don't fall asleep at 9 pm and I can read on holidays instead of chasing around and sweeping all the time. I'm not sure what happened in those years between toddlers and teenagers, but I certainly notice that now I have more time!

So, I am reading a lot. I see things I think I'd like to read; I put a hold on at the library; at some unspecified time in the future, the book will arrive. Sometimes I even forget where I heard about a book, some are revelations and some are, of course, duds.

This September I saw that there was a movie at TIFF of Thérèse Raquin, by Emile Zola. (I see they have retitled it In Secret.) It has that cute Tom Felton as a sickly and pale husband, who has to be disposed of by the lovely and talented Elizabeth Olsen and her tall, dark, handsome lover, Oscar Isaac. Now, I like a good movie, but I do like to read the book first, so I decided to read Thérèse Raquin, and in the original French. Heck, it's only 32 years since I got a BA in the subject, after all. It was surprisingly easy to get back my ease of reading in French, perhaps because this is a book about people who live in a city, hang around home, kill off husbands... all pretty straightforward vocabulary.

Chuffed with that success, I took on Madame Bovary.

In this book, I bet 17 different kinds of trees are named; 37 different fabrics; there are furnishings, kinds of clothing, architectural bits, carriages and medical terms. Sometimes I knew what the words meant but things still didn't make sense. I had an English translation nearby -- I still often wondered why he'd put that sentence just there. A bit more challenging, for sure.

I have a stack of other books by the bedside, and I even bought some more French books. Now, I think, a thriller in English, though. And starting today with Madame Bovary, I will put a list in the sidebar of books I have finished.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Bonus December post

Ha, even though NaBloPoMo is over, I am bestowing upon you all a new post! And it is even about knitting.

I am doing the December challenge for the Socks from Stash group. The only challenge this month is to start and finish one pair of socks. I do have Arthur's green socks to knit, and my second mitten, but at the moment I am full of confidence about this. Because, really, how much do I have to do in December....?

So here I go, casting on:

These are the Undulating Rib socks by Ann Budd. The cuffs and toes will be green, and the pretty multicoloured stuff will be the main body of the socks.

I thing Ann Budd must be the tightest knitter in the world, because she knits the tops of the socks on 3.5 mm needles, and the rest on 3.25s. I am going 2.75 all the way, and wish I could go smaller to get a denser fabric. I haven't knit Elaine socks in a long time and am not sure how these will fit -- she is likely not as tiny as I imagine.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grand finale

A mitten.

Finished today at 5 pm: just in time, one might say.

I made the top of the hand like a sock toe, except I did a few decreases on the baby finger side before I started on the index finger side.

And now I know I can knit one of these in about 10 days with no serious injury, so I'll make sure I have the second one before Christmas.

Friday, November 29, 2013

One last distraction

If I can just keep you amused for another day, we can get through this month. I think my sister-in-law is meant to be writing a novel, so I hope to hear about that, too.

The other day I found a nice leather glove in a mud puddle. It looked like it might have been run over a couple of times, too. I picked it up and carried it around, let it drip on the cafe floor while I met some friends, carried it home on the subway, lay it on the cold air vent to dry out.

And then I took it downstairs...

This collection has been growing for a couple of years. One year there was a bumper crop of abandoned hand-wear around the 'hood, and I realised, in about March, that I could have had a wall of gloves like this one if I'd only collected them instead of just rolling my eyes at them as I went by. So the following year(s) I have picked them up if they seem truly abandoned and a bit interesting. No pairs left at the bus stop -- someone might come back for them or someone who actually needs mitts to keep their hands warm can have them. And I now avoid the plain. black, stretchy, dollar-store ones. I meant to display them in a somewhat artier fashion, but it's still a work-in-progress, you know, so they are just pinned up in a mass on the wall of the laundry room, with the Earth and a calendar Emily Carr.

Now there is a new glove on the wall. Leather, with decorative buttons! Very small, though that might be an effect of having been soaked in a mud puddle and dried on a vent.

It is somewhat ironic that the same week I found this, Arthur "lost" a brand-new pair of store-bought waterproof mittens by forgetting them in a classroom at school.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today, who needs Tom Jones if you've got the New Groovement? My nephew Geoff Mason is the timbales player. If you are in Victoria, I think they play reasonably often. Oh, look: in fact, they are playing this weekend.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Just some Tom Jones

Tom Jones with Jools Holland. And who could ask for anything more?


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A blog I found

One of the things I never think about with NaBloPoMo is that other people do it at the same time. And not just knitters. There is a blog where registered bloggers list their posts and you can check out other blogs, with the idea that you get more exposure, more community, more readers.

There are a ton of things there, but not my blog, because it didn't occur to me until last week that this was at all organized. I've never registered for NaBloPoMo in previous years, either. 

I clicked around a bit there and found one gem of a blog. First I thought, wow, cool idea: take a 19th-century book about London and wander around seeing what's there now. And then I thought, when I saw all the photos and the links and the research, wow, what a lot of work! 

The blogger also offers a list of sources, including a Pinterest page where you can lose yourself for hours. Fashion, history, hospitals... 

I will check back and see how the tour of London progresses!

Monday, November 25, 2013

David Bowie Is

I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario this morning to see, for the third time, the David Bowie exhibit. 


One can't, of course, take pictures inside the exhibit. If I could, I would have taken pictures of this sketch he did:

or this suit that was there on a faceless mannequin: 

but as it is, I just had to get these off the AGO website.

The costumes were the highlight for me, especially the ones by Alexander McQueen, and I could have spent all day watching the videos. There are good pictures here, from when the show was at the V&A. I love especially the Union Jack coat:

As I left, humming Boys Keep Swinging, I took this picture of the back end of the gallery building, with weird purple sky and, if you look carefully, a row of pigeons along the top of the beige wing. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I have a thumb gusset

The lower yarn on the right is the spare yarn holding the thumb stitches
My glove/mitten debate continues.

The hand seems a bit big at present, and if I were to make mittens, I would decrease a few stitches or maybe go down to 2.25 mm needles from the 2.5s.

If I'm making gloves, I have to start soon on the pinky finger, although the pattern says to start with the index finger and move outwards. My pinky is, I think, about 2 rows below my index finger. And also maybe change the needle size.

Mittens are warmer and simpler to knit; gloves look cooler and are more interesting to knit. Some people make short little finger tubes and then mitten-like covers that can flip on or off. I do kind of like that idea, I must say.

If I don't spend days pondering this question, I hope to have a finished thing by the end of the week, which will be the end of NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Surprise from the Saturday sky

The sky this morning was nice and blue with white fluffy clouds. The tree has lost all its leaves and it was pretty cold out on the deck in my jams.

Over to the east-ish, thicker clouds, but a reminder that summer will one day come again. (I know, it's barely gone.)

On the deck, evidence that winter is definitely on the way. Forget summer for 6 months; we got snow!

And I scurried back inside.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Creative Mornings

One morning, a year and a half ago, or so, I went to a talk someone had told me about. And then the next month I went to another and then another and another. This morning was the second anniversary of the first Toronto Creative Mornings talk, and, if I'm counting correctly, the eleventh time I'd got somewhere for 8:30 in the morning to listen to a talk.

Creative Mornings started in New York but has now spread far and wide. I can imagine looking up a CM talk if I were travelling! In Toronto, they are usually on a Friday morning towards the end of the month and the speakers have included lots of people who design things on paper or on the web, or who talk about how cities could be designed, how toys can be designed... and a butcher. Today's talk was by George Elliott Clarke, Toronto's poet laureate. I hadn't even known we had a poet laureate.

Mr Clarke was meant to be talking on the theme of Bravery, but he mostly told the tale of his life (in about 20 minutes or half an hour).

He told about having the art teachers mock him for colouring his valentine pink instead of the correct red, or giving his traced elephant an anti-gravity belt (clearly not proper).  In high school he wrote songs in an attempt to be cool, then learned about poetry to write better songs, then wrote poetry -- I wonder if anyone ever played one of his songs at a school dance... He went to university, got a BA and then a job not at all in his field, which provided him with material for writing poems and publishing a monthly paper, which led him to working in Ottawa for someone who inspired him to get a PhD. Now he is a professor, though he hadn't set out to do that. The story is not a straight line, and there's a combo of hard work and good luck and, sounds like, good friends along the way.

These days, with a kid in grade 11 and one just looking for a high school for next year, education and working and getting through school and finding one's way and "success" are always on my mind.

It was a really inspiring talk, with a couple of poems, like this one, thrown in. Lots of things to think about as I try to nudge or back off or encourage or protect or shove my kids, who have no patience with being told what colour to make their valentines, along the road.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

More phone camera pics

I passed this "vintage" shop a week or so ago. They had several "seasonal" sweaters hanging outside.

This was my favourite. It reminds me of a gingerbread man sweater that was in a Vogue Knitting holiday issue in the 90s.

I've never made a Christmas sweater, though there were a couple through the years that I always meant to make. One had coloured intarsia lightbulbs connected with a green "wire" that you would have to duplicate stitch on. I can knit a lightbulb, but all that duplicate stitch scared me away for... 25 years, about.

Funnily, I can't find any of those old faves in the Ravelry database!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Out and about on a Wednesday

Today I had a million things to do, but all fun. Actually, I had three things to do: play Scrabble, go to the ROM and have lunch.

Guess what, I forgot my camera; just had the one on my phone.

I lost the Scrabble game, though it was close. Once I had ONGOING on my rack, but it was late in the game and there was nowhere to put it. I did, however, start off the whole game with TOKENED, which is pretty good, if I do say so myself.

After Scrabble, I dashed off to the museum. I met my friend and we wandered pretty aimlessly around, spending quite a bit of time with ancient Greek vases (the red and black ones are lovely, but a good geometric vase is quite a special thing, I think)

and the odd mosaic floor, which looks like the pattern in Monkey socks, don't you think?

Wow, must remember to take a real camera next time.

The only thing I really wanted to look at was the Malagasy textiles, but there seemed to be no sign telling us where they might be. We strolled through a few centuries of wooden cabinets and silver tea sets, wondering how big a house one would need to have space for stunning art deco sculptures and such.

Shortly before we had to leave, we found ourselves in Asia and Africa, and there, over in the corner, were a couple of cases of very nice woven shawls and wrappers from Madagascar. Beautiful, but I didn't get a picture. Another time.

We had to head out to meet another friend for lunch, so we went down the Stair of Wonders, which I always enjoy. It's one good thing that came out of the recent renovation of the museum, I think. And there we saw some wonders, indeed.

Giant butterfly, big old bug.

Lunch: excellent company, okay food! And home to find the house elves had not been hard at work in my absence.

Now that I've got the phone and computer in the same place, I will see what else I have on there! Ten more days of November to go...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The true reason for NaBloPoMo

... must be the kick in the pants from embarrassment! How can I show you half an inch of knitting and call it a glove?

I'm closer and closer to calling it a mitten. I might have made gloves in August, preparing for the chilliness to come, but now it is cold and I want mitts, so my fingers can huddle together for warmth.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Things I am actually knitting

I certainly am not knitting as much as I did before, and I am still inclined to have more than one thing on the needles at a time, although I know this is not as efficient as just knitting one thing till it is finished.

In fact, I just started these Knotty gloves the other day. I bought this yarn especially to make these a couple of years ago, I think, and so for a couple of Novembers, I have said, Gee, I wish I had those gloves! Maybe this winter, I will have them...

This blasted thing! I took it to Rome in March thinking I could just use my airplane time and get back in the swing of things, knitting-wise. It took longer than I'd anticipated (though I should have anticipated that) and the final horror is the edge I decided to do. It isn't that bad once I sit down to do it, but it seems there's always something a bit more exciting to do. I am almost at the middle of the shawl; you can see the centre stitch in the bottom corner.

And Arthur's dragon skin socks are still at about the same point they were last week.

Okay, no more time to blog; gotta go knit!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some of the sock yarn

Today I took pictures of easily identifiable, largish quantities of sock yarn. There are still a few bags of single 50g balls, odds and ends, things without labels. I am also noting here how many projects there are shown on Ravelry, because one of the sock group's challenges for 2104 is to knit with one's stashed yarn that has the fewest projects. Most people seem to be finding their fancy indie-dyers' yarn is top of their list for that; I seem to have scratchy, discontinued commercial yarn.

So, here goes:

San Francisco. This likely came from the basement at Romni, and the reviews on Ravelry are not encouraging. Cheap and cheerful, though. There are 152 projects on Rav and only 4 comments about it felting to itself or snapping or feeling rough. Ah, never read the reviews; only the discontented bother to comment. I hope that, come January, you'll see a pair of Arthurian San Francisco socks fly off the needles.

Comfort Sockenwolle. This has 216 projects. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, one of Stephen's former students, who was living in Germany, gave this to me because I had helped her and some others sew up a blanket for another student's new baby. I think I started this once but was uninspired by the colours, or maybe thought it was too thin.

Fortissima Socka Color. Or, in this case, zebra yarn! There are 219 projects with this yarn, but the same company makes a lot of similar yarns with slightly different names. I suspect this looks better in the ball than as socks, but we shall see.

Lang Jawoll Cotton, 341 projects. I have 4 skeins of this, and another in an orangey colourway. One could make a big thing with all that yarn. A big shawl, at least (which I need like a hole in the head).

Jawoll Magic.  A whopping 4399 projects! I once started socks with this but the pattern and yarn were not that well matched. I think a plain pair of socks or maybe a small shawl (another hole in the head) is likely.

Lions Brand Sock Ease, used in 5368 projects! Bright enough? This is destined for Arthur, I am sure. Also from the sale bin. Do I ever buy full-price sock yarn? I would say, no.

Patons Kroy FX. My most popular sock yarn today: 6918 projects. I got this in Southampton the second time we went there, so a year ago August, just as my elbow was telling me to never ever knit again.

Wow, I can't tell you how glad I am to be at the bottom of this list! This was not a lightning post, with all the linking and so on, and I was making shepherd's pie at the same time. Hop up, stir onions, sit down, check Ravelry, hop up, add meat, sit down, load a picture... What a day. Now the pie is ready for the oven and the sock yarn has been tamed. Only laundry and all that other stuff to do now. Onward!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Blogger's acting weird

(The title of this post refers to the fact that when I type in the header line, an error message occurs. The body seems to be okay. I just hope it publishes properly when the time comes.)

It's just no good to post without a picture. I have ideas, but I seem to have them late in the day (or in the middle of the night) and then don't get pictures.

Ah, well, I will tell you my ideas, anyways!

I will show you my sock yarn. I have started a sock for Arthur, green and textured. Elaine, who earlier in her life rejected knitted socks as "scratchy," has dug hers out recently, only to find that her feet have grown. So, I need to get on that. And I have started something else that looks like it might be a sock, but really it is destined to become a glove. Or a mitten, if I wimp out. I have had this pattern and yarn for at least a year, and maybe two. Gorgeous orangey yellowy greeny.

I would like to get my sock yarn under control. I am a member of the Socks from Stash group on Ravelry, and although I haven't yet taken part in any of their monthly challenges, I look on in awe. There are some interesting challenges coming up, like knit with the yarn that has fewest projects on Rav, or knit with the colour you have the most of. So I need to do a bit of diving to see what exactly I have.

If I can do all that, heck, it's fodder for several days.

I would also like to show you my Denim stash. I have been acquiring bits and bagfuls and should sort out what I have. Hmm, I wonder how long it's been since a real "flash the stash" photo...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Knitting, but not my own

I have a new sweater.

Sorry, this is a terrible picture
I bought it on Ebay for not that much money. It was on the German site, priced in euros, hardly anyone looked at it. I nervously even upped my bid in the last minutes, but it was not necessary!

It is made of Rowan Denim, so one part of my brain says I can rip it and reknit it if no-one ends up wearing it! It does fit me and I will certainly give it a good go. It's not super soft, but I think it will soften up. I washed it and air-dried it. Maybe a run in the dryer would soften it up.

I made Arthur try it on, and it actually fit him better than me, but he said he didn't like it because it is not fuzzy. For him, the perfection of a sweater lies in its fuzziness, or, as I believe he means, softness. Indeed, it doesn't seem what you'd call cozy, but not every sweater has to be cozy.

You can see that the knitter "rowed out," or did something weird so that every other row fades differently. I think also that one sleeve is of a different dye lot. It was more evident when the fabric was wet, but you can see in the picture below that things are not perfectly and totally the same colour. (That diagonal line is just a shadow or a wrinkle or something, not a big line on the sweater!)

I wonder if the neck is made according to the pattern, of if it gaped too much and so these nifty decreases were added.

A fine set-in sleeve. It's a mark of some kind of excellence that the sleeve shrunk just right and the armscye shrunk just right and it all fits together so nicely. I have enough trouble even with non-shrinking bits and set-in sleeves!

I still mean to make my own Denim masterpiece, but it is nice to have one ready-made! The knitting is well done and the design is simple and attractive. All in all, a great deal, I say!

Some of you may have noticed that I missed a day or two here in the NaBloPoMo business. I took these pictures on Thursday with the best of intentions, and although it is nearly midnight, I am writing this on Friday!

ETA: This sweater is called Scarborough, from Rowan 45.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I went to a rally

I went down to City Hall today to yell about the stupid mayor. While we were listening to speakers (who didn't know how to use a megaphone) and shouting slogans (hey, hey, ho, ho...) the council was meeting and shouting and the Ford brothers were generally acting badly.

This is someone else's photo I saw on Twitter. My pictures are held hostage until I find the cable to download them! Under the sign that says You Had A Good Run on the right, you can see my lime green coat. No head, unfortunately.

I'm not sure this will do any good at all. It's very embarrassing to have a mayor of the largest city in Canada who is such a buffoon. More and more allegations are coming out about shenanigans in the mayor's office. Surely anyone with a bit of sense would resign??

Tomorrow, knitting, I promise!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

After I walked up the hill

I told you about the art I passed on my way up the hill the other day. Once I got to the top of the hill, I returned a book to the library and made my way to the thrift shop.

I was really on the lookout for wine glasses. We have an eclectic collection so nothing really has to match, but we've had a couple of breakages lately and I wanted to stock up. I poked around and was trying to decide between four mismatched ones, each one perfectly fine, and a boxed set of four which were quite nice, too. But then, I was totally distracted from that task by seeing a glass pedestal cake stand.

It's quite hard to take a good picture of a glass thing. You can see the shadows of the blobs that decorate it.

Here is its scalloped edge. The whole thing is very heavy and will withstand the zombie apocalypse, I am sure.

I would invite you all over for cake if I could!

And you could have a glass of wine, too; I bought the boxed set and have had nagging doubts about that ever since. If I had bigger cupboards, I'd go back for the mismatched ones.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sic transit gloria mundi

I was looking back at a few old posts lately, partly because I was trying to find when I started the Louvre floor "blanket" and things like that. It is disheartening to see that a lot of old links don't connect to anything anymore. What do you do about that?

I did dig one picture up on the Wayback Machine. This is my headmistress from when I was at school in Brighton in 1972. I recall she was terrifying.

Miss R A Clarke, headmistress from 1961-77
It seems a huge job to fix things from 2005, that likely no one reads. But then, it seems bad to leave links one knows are useless.

This is why some designers hate doing webpages. Things change and one could spend all the time updating, chasing new links, adding new info, deleting out-of-date info. I think I will try to fix things that I come across, but won't go on a fixing crusade. I am kind of glad I found the fearsome Miss Clarke, though!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's street art, not graffitti

I was out on a walk yesterday and noticed that the wall, holding the houses above from falling into the road, had been painted.

Very clear, bright colours, attractive pictures. But a bit odd, nonetheless. The word FAILE was all over it, obviously meaning something beyond my ken. A bit of research tells me that is the name of a street-art pair from Brooklyn who were paid by our fair city to give us something nice to look at. (Tsk, that Wikipedia page is not totally up to date.)

According to the National Post, they couldn't actually be here themselves, but art-directed the project from afar. Some people object and some don't; I suspect most, like me, didn't even know about the "controversy." You can see a series of photos of the work in progress starting here

I quite like the boy asleep with his horse.

It's all certainly better than the tagging, painted over in various blotches of industrial-strength grey, that used to be there.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Saturday sky

This was around noon today. 

Now, a few hours later, it is grey and threatening. Happy November.