Saturday, November 29, 2014

Just some flowers

My Christmas cactus is a bit early this year, and only got the two flowers on the whole plant, but I always find it so great when it blooms at all! It usually lives in the bathroom where the light is better for plants, but we let it come into the dining room with its pretty flowers.

Tonight we are having some friends over for dinner, so there is much fussing to be done. Unearth the table, and so on.

Tomorrow I will show you my sweater progress. I did not keep up the "ball every two days" pace, but I have a sleeve and body, so about half of it done.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November's almost over

I went to the Textile Museum today, because I happened to be in the area having a lovely lunch with a friend.  I am a member, so can just pop in for a quick visit (and should do it more often).

They have a great exhibit of Oriental rugs of all sorts on now. This one is quite high pile; some were much flatter. This is just a part of the border of a large rug -I love the variations in the orange background colour.

There was another exhibit called Urban Fabric: Portraits of a City. There were some great photos, and this map of Toronto, made of metal, mesh and wire (and who knows what else). I don't have anything for scale, but it's several feet across.

A close-up of the university area.

I also got some divine things in the gift shop, some for me and some for other people!

I got pictures off my phone, and off my camera, and will sort things out and have more for you ... I won't say "tomorrow," but soon!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A day at the thrift shop

Today the kids and I went shopping. Arthur needed trousers, but otherwise we had no plan.

For less than $100 we got fourteen Christmas cards, eight placemats, five books, three pairs of pants, two little tins to put treats in, two secret things for presents, one belt, one bag of buttons, a T-shirt and... an enlarger!

Almost an entire enlarger; we are just missing a crucial lens.

We passed on the pedestal Christmas cake stand. Took note of the many balls of Phentex available. And admired many candle holders and candles before pulling ourselves together. Elaine and I didn't even really look at clothes, and once Arthur pounced on the enlarger we were sort of overloaded!

Best: we've got a loyalty card full of stamps now, so next time, 30% off!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saw some movies

Last Days in Vietnam. I saw this PBS movie in the theatre earlier this month. Apparently it will be on TV next spring some time, with additional footage. At its present length it was super-interesting, very suspenseful and surprisingly touching.

It was sort of stunning to hear interviews with men who had been soldiers and marines at the embassy on the last day, when those huge helicopters ferried people away all day long. It was absolutely shocking to see some sailor's Super-8 film footage of smaller helicopters landing on the little ship he was on -- when another came, they had to shove the first one into the sea, and they did this over and over again. Now is the time to collect all this material; what other footage is out there?

There is a whole playlist on Youtube where you can watch more bits of it. See it if you can!

Today I saw a film from what we'd call my comfort zone, Keep On Keepin' On.

Music, friendship, struggles, nice people. Really a good time.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Temperature scarf

I made my way to the yarn shop yesterday, after a brief conversation with my resident physicist, who tells me that green should be at 0ºC. Who ever heard of that? Oh, well, it kind of makes things easier to just have a spectrum of colours.

Red for hot, through green at 0, to blue and indigo for cold. I'm hoping I don't have to get more colder yarns, because it's already freezing during the day, and, in fact, snowing at this very moment! (I will resist the obvious temptation to use some sort of fuzzy or sparkly yarn for snow days.)

The darkest blue, on the right, will be for -15º and lower, bright blue for -10 to -14, pretty variegated icy colours for -3 to -9, and green for -3 to +3.

Green variegated for 4 to 10, yellow variegated for 11 to 15, yellow/orange for 16 to 20, orange variegated for 21 to 27 and red for 28 and above.

I was worried that I'd need more on either end of this scale. That is why the colours have to stretch to a bit more (sometimes) than the 5 degrees I had initially thought.  Also, it's the time of year when all Torontonians forget that it ever gets warm here. We are bundled up for our months and months of cold and can't think beyond that. Really, it'll be 28 degrees here sometime in the next year??

I'm sure that if next October I find I need more 10º yarn, I won't be able to match dye lots or even colours, but then again I am equally sure that I can't need more than 160 metres of any one colour. Right?

This all gets lovingly put away till the winter solstice, when I shall cast on. Cast on what, though? A plain garter or seed-stitch scarf? A 10-stitch blanket? I think I'll find a two-row lace pattern and make a scarf out of that.

But who knows, it's weeks away and I have a man-sized sweater to finish!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Something I will do in December

Once upon a time, I started to knit a Sky Scarf. You knit a garter ridge, 2 rows, every day, based on the colour of the sky. Two things stymied me: I was using stash and ran out of one colour of yarn in February, and the colour of our sky changes hourly, so when exactly do you say it is clear today or it is cloudy today?

However, I recently saw a thread on Ravelry that reminded me of the general excellence of this idea (someone made a blanket!) and I am going to do a temperature scarf, with one strand for the day's maximum temperature and one for minimum. I think I will start on the solstice, December 21.

Toronto goes from about -10ºC to about 30ºC, so I need 8 colours if I do a colour for every 5 degrees. Red for hot, icy blue-white for cold, but how to I get from one to the other?

I could just go around the wheel:

That would mean having greens in the mix, and while you know I love green, I don't really think it signifies much about temperature. And I would end up with three-quarters of a rainbow. Naah.

There are other ways of making colour wheels:

I could go up from the pale centre blue to brighter blue... then what? I don't want pinks. I think one tends to do yellow, orange, red as things get warmer, but I'm not sure I'll like that mix... Of course, it would be a rare day to be -10 for a minimum and +15 for a max. I think what I have to do is go stand and stare at the wall of Koigu at Eweknit and pick 8 good colours.

Will I need more than one skein of each colour? Will I be able to buy another, mid-April or next October if I run out of something? Agonizing... (I found another group on Ravelry that quite appeals to me: Pre-process knitters! We are not in it for the finished project, nor for the experience of the knitting, but for the planning!) Maybe I should not do Koigu, with its little wee skeins, but I should buy 100-gram balls of Cascade 220 or something. But does one need 800 grams to make a scarf?! God forbid. No, no, stick with the Koigu, but perhaps buy 2 each of the colours from, say, 5º to 15º? Perhaps I shall stop at the yarn shop this afternoon.

Perhaps I shall show you the big grey sweater tomorrow. I think I can start the sleeves soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twenty or more years ago

Let's see, it must have been 1992 or so, maybe later in 1991, that I made this big ol' sweater.

It is one of my faux-Fassetts, based on his Stone Patch. It is heavy, made from Lamb's Pride bulky, and it was supposed to reflect the colours of the hills around Santa Barbara, California. 

As soon as I made it, though, I thought it looked more like camo.

It also has a bit of a problem with the sleeves. I know, it was the 90s, but still, no one needs sleeves like that.

I wore it a bit, but it is too warm for inside, it's no good in the rain and you can't put a jacket over those sleeves, so there are just a few days a year when it is the perfect thing.

I've known all about these issues for a long time, and the poor sweater has languished unloved in a corner for some years. The other day, I finally shoved it in a bag for pickup by a charity.

Boo hoo! Farewell, crazy sweater!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Another single sock

This month of posting makes me go around the house taking pictures of knitting. So I have for you today a single sock for Elaine.

Funny looking in this state, but that flared part at the top folds down to make a super cute cuff.

And the cuff is all lace columns.

It is school-uniform colour, but the season for ankle socks may be past this year, and besides, one should really have two matching socks. I once meant to have these done for Christmas, but now I make no promises of that sort!

Now to update my Ravelry project page!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


I see that I missed another day in the daily posting business. Big sigh.

I will have a few pictures for you tomorrow, but right now I am preparing to dash out to a Scrabble club to play "proper" players. Two of my friends have been a couple of times before and say that the club people look down on "kitchen table" players, but of course, my friends have won their share of the games.

And we don't play at a kitchen table, but in a cafe, most of the time! Hmph.

It will be bit challenging to play with a timer and no friendly dictionary to hand, but I think I'll be okay. It's just a game, right?

(Oh, just a picture I snapped a while ago of my 183-point word, MISSHAPE, from triple to triple.... )

Monday, November 10, 2014

The perils of monogamy

I am knitting solely on my Eddie these days.

No second mitt is getting finished. I started these a year ago, it seems. Huh, I'd thought it was more! I "just" need to get the cable knot out of the way and then this becomes subway knitting. It is not quite mitten weather here yet, so there is hope yet, I suppose.

No Kaffe square is getting added to the pile. I am even stuck in the middle of one! I don't need a pretty cushion for my comfy chair, but I hate to leave it at this stage.

And of course, there are other things to knit, and other things to sew...

I had (ridiculously) wanted Eddie finished by last weekend, but now my (more reasonable) deadline is the end of November, which still means I have to give it all my attention.

Getting there, but alas, why can't I knit more, faster and all the time?!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Mary Collection

Don't get all excited -- it's not a collection of knitwear or anything that delightful. It is a collection of postcards!

Once upon a time, some friend on Facebook posted a link to an image from a postcard of one of the college libraries at the University of Toronto. Who could resist, so I clicked through... and discovered a whole blog about postcards! This was what we call serendipitous, because I had just found a box in my house full of postcards I had collected as a kid. Some from England when I was living there in 1965-6 and 1972-3, some from art shows, some from European travels in the 80s and 90s. It had been several years since I had last cast eyes upon them and though it did give me a small amount of pleasure to look through them, it was not enough to keep them forever. (Okay, I did hold back a couple... )

It turned out our postcard fellow was at U of T, so it was easy to get my cards to him, and he has posted a few of them.

Here are a few of the gems I kept.

I suspect this is from 1972, but might be 1966. Actually, it was glued down to a page in a scrapbook with a big glob of white glue, so I hope I did that when I was 6 and not 12. Anyone identify the building going up in the background?

My mom and grandma went to Expo 67.

I bought this in 1989 at the Vatican Museums. One of my all-time favourite pots, Achilles and Ajax playing a game.

I got this in Santa Barbara when we went to see an exhibit of the AIDS quilt. This is it spread out in Washington DC in 1992. I remember the exhibit well; it was an excellent idea to make the disease real to people who thought it would never touch them, as well as an inspiring piece of textile art.

Last Friday when we went to the art gallery, I had to hold myself back from the postcard rack...

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Falling down on the job already

I see I missed blogging yesterday. I shall tell you why: my brother was here visiting for the day.

We went to the Art Gallery and saw the Colville exhibit, along with some drawings of Michelangelo. And had some gelato.

The Colville show was quite marvellous: lots of info about his life, lots of sketches and studies alongside the finished works.

And Michelangelo, what can one say? Obviously they can't just ship David over here to show us, or the Sistine Chapel, but there were drawings of things familiar and not; plans of buildings that never got built; sketches that had been somewhat polished up and completely rough lines. The notes sometimes mentioned that this pope or that had likely held this piece of paper in his hands.

After the art, we had food. Some other friends came over for dinner and we had a grand old time together, before sending John back out into the cold to catch an airplane.

So that is my excuse. I do have a special treat for you tomorrow, though, I prrrrommmisse.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Nature in all its autumnal glory

Some years the trees around town are gloriously coloured; some years things turn to brown mush on the ground right from the beginning. This year we found ourselves driving down the 401 to London (our London) one day in the late afternoon with the sun shining brilliantly on the golden, red and orange leaves. Just stunning. Did I take a picture? No, I did not.

I do, however, have a picture of my hosta. I posted this picture in a thread on Ravelry where Rowan Yarns is looking for a new colour for their Kidsilk Haze. Goldy-yellow, caramel, bits of green...

You can be sure that if they pick my colour and I end up with a package of golden Kidsilk Haze, I will share it with you!

In other news, I am still not at 22 cm on my grey sweater, and things aren't going to get much better tomorrow. I'm also finding I don't have a ton of time to plan and write great witty things! Perhaps on the weekend...

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Shakespeare and his collected works

Did William Shakespeare of Stratford, the guy who left his wife his second-best bed, write Hamlet and Love's Labour's Lost and Henry V and all those sonnets?

I don't know. (Also, this portrait from the First Folio may or may not be anything like Shakespeare, but it's about all we have.)

Of course, I had always thought so, just like Homer composed (using some pre-existing bits) both the Iliad and the Odyssey. (I was taught Homer by "a naive unitarian.") But now I am liking the "Shake-speare as pseudonym" idea.

(I am not going to link to anything about this! There are a million opinions and convictions and arguments.)

That William of Stratford left not a single letter strikes me as a kind of serious counter-argument to his being a writer. Especially a writer involved in the theatre in London while living in Stratford.

Some people say that William couldn't have written the plays because he had no education, and some other people object to this because genius flowers in the strangest places. The genius of the writer (whoever...) is not in question, but our writer certainly had considerable education in a variety of fields!

Why did he leave no books? Why didn't he even teach his children to read?

I have a number of books about this on hold at the library, so I shall see what I come up with in the coming weeks. Elaine is reading Romeo and Juliet at school this year and Arthur gets Hamlet, so there will certainly be some Shakespearian discussion at the dinner table.

I'll keep you posted about this. (Although really, it is not very important... )

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Some progress on the big grey sweater

Is it blue? Is it grey? Is it, sometimes, sort of purple? Did I mention that I'd like this to be done by the end of the week? Ha, ha. However, I am almost at the point where I get to do some purling.

I don't like to use up too much blog fodder in one day in these NaBlo months, but I would like to ask you all who you think wrote the works of Shakespeare. I saw a production last night called Is Shakespeare Dead? about the almost complete lack of information we have about William Shakespeare. So you just watch that and come back tomorrow and we shall discuss the issue.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Bread with pomegranate seeds

What is more fun than a pomegranate? I bought one a week ago thinking I would put the seeds in a fruit salad, but then didn't. So, now what?

Finally I decided something had to be done, and I knew that although the seeds (or arils, to be precise) are yummy just eaten a few at a time, I really should use the whole lot at once.

So I found this muffin recipe.

Since I was lazy, I made a loaf instead of muffins, and since I made a loaf, I skipped the topping. I'm not much of a topping kind of gal anyways; the muffin should be tasty enough on its own. (I also used milk instead of pomegranate juice!)

Of course I did not have my camera at the ready while dealing with the shiny pretty arils, but I remembered eventually.

about to go in the oven

about to be eaten

Very tasty, especially if you like an oatmeal bread, but you have to remember there are the tiny, crunchy seeds in the juicy, fruity arils. The soft fruit sort of melts into the bread a bit, but the crunch is still there.

It's not the best use of a pomegranate, I think, but it fit the bill this time.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

One almost finished sock

I do apologize for the blurry phone photos. I shall have to get organized with camera and cable and so on to do this NaBloPoMo properly!

This is a Broadripple sock for Arthur, which I've been working on for a while. The yarn is 6-ply sock yarn, which I've never used before. My, things really do go a bit faster if the yarn and needles are that much larger!

It is a bit scratchy, but I imagine that once it is washed it'll wear quite well. I just have to graft the toe and then perhaps make another one!

The grey sweater still looks much the same. When I get 22 cm on it, I get to do some purling! I am meeting up with some friends for some needlecraft action tonight, so who knows, maybe I can get to 22 cm!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Let's play NaBloPoMo again

I tend to take part in NaBloPoMo in November, although unofficially, and I guess I am going to give it a go again this year. I don't register anywhere and I'm sure no new people "discover" my blog because I don't tell anyone about it. Not very good marketing on my part. Oh well.

This November I am knitting a grey pullover named Eddie. So far the only excitement has been the daredevil thrill of changing things a tiny bit to knit it in the round instead of in flat pieces.

This is one and a bit balls out of 15.

I bet we can't wait till tomorrow to see how much bigger Eddie has become! I would love to get this done in a week, but since such a feat would require knitting up two balls a day, I'm not confident that that will happen. I shall knit diligently nonetheless.