Posts Tagged ‘life’

Living the dream

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big geek.  Not only am I a general Geek (who loves sci-fi and tabletop roleplaying games and the Avengers movies and…) and a fibrecraft geek, but also a folk music geek.  Back when I was first learning to spin, I wrote about how I felt like my spindle connected me to all the makers who came before me, especially through folk music relating to fibre crafts.  I loved the idea of putting together my passion for music with my spinning skills to literalize that connection, and this week I had a fun opportunity to do just that.  My family was invited to sing at an intercultural night of music featuring both organized choirs and ensembles with a specific ethnic focus, and more casual groups who just like to get together and sing music from their culture.  My mother suggested that we perform some French Canadian music, as another group was presenting English folksongs from BC already, and she lead with the suggestion of “Dans mon chemin (In my road),” the song I mentioned in that old post.  I added a song I had recently learned, after having sung it many many years ago in a choir, “Je le mène bien, mon dévidoir (I run my swift well),” giving us our theme of fibre crafts.  Finally, Mom added “La laine de nos moutons (The wool of our sheep),” a sort of little-red-hen type song that I loved for its thematic resemblance to “Sejala sam lenek (I sowed the flax),” a Croatian song about flax and linen that I sing with the Balkan Babes.  But it’s not just the singing I’ve been dreaming of.  No, I also thought how cool it would be to do a bit of performance-spinning-in-public!  And it turned out, so did my sister.  So we got out our spindles and spun while we sang!   And since I know pics or it didn’t happen, here is the video of our performance (sorry, it’s just a cellphone and the video quality is questionable).  Check out the cool harmonics in the first song – I was a bit confused when I first listened to the recording since I could have sworn I didn’t sing that high note until the very end of the song…but by the second verse I realized we had just achieved the sort of excellent blend you can get when you’ve been singing together for over a quarter century. 😉


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Spring Resolutions

I can’t be the only one who feels far more inspired to make changes in my life in the spring than in dreary January!  The return of the sun coupled with Nature’s effusion of energy always fill my mind with grand ideas, wild plans, and fresh hopes.  Also I have a smartphone now!  I have been loving the convenience of always having a camera in my pocket, not to mention the ease of being able to upload photos straight to the internet.  And I have been knitting some seriously awesome stuff, if I do say so myself!  For example, I participated in the recent Follow Your Arrow mystery KAL and hoo boy do I love my FO!


It’s still a bit cool here but many afternoons have been warm enough for shirtsleeves and a magnificent shawl!  And this one is so dramatic, it’s equally cool with jeans and a tshirt or a fancy dress.  I modified the edging a little to add the slowly widening stripes…because I was running out of yarn!  I had way more than the required yardage to start, so I worked an extra repeat of the lace, which meant making adjustments to the knitted on edging which meant by the end I was cutting every spare inch off my colour changes to try and finish the last pink row (thinking of following in my footsteps? More details on my mods on my project page).

Follow Your Arrow was also my first MKAL. It was a large one, and one with a vibrant community. I know some people felt disappointed with the pattern, but I really think one has to be prepared for the unknown when embarking on a mystery KAL. Mystery, dudes. It’s right there in the title. I loved the experience – I got exactly what I was looking for: a shawl construction that I might never have chosen, but that I now get to experiment with, not just on the needles but in my wardrobe. The unique “kite” start surpassed my expectations and I am totally excited to knit another with a few different clue choices down the road (probably in a single colour, possibly in handspun)! All in all, I don’t know that I’m going to do a lot of MKALs, and for example you couldn’t pay me to do a sweater MKAL, but I had so much fun with this one I hereby resolve to do more in the future…as well as more blog posts!

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Carry on…

Hey blog.

I’ve been busy.

Hanami Recap

Also, I just discovered Fotor, a free photo online photo editor that you might see cropping up in future posts.  Look, it makes collages go!

And dear bob there is so much to catch up on under the jump.  SO MUCH.


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Not gone, just offline

I have a bunch of projects to catch up with from December and new stuff as well, not to mention the doll hat pattern I have in testing and expect to release in a couple of weeks. So of course my laptop decides to pick this week to quit accessing the internet! Granted, it’s given me five years’ hard service…still, what a pain! So it will be a while till the next update, ’cause blogging from an iTouch is not quite as convenient as you might think…

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  • spending 12 hours straight knitting the world’s most epic garter stitch scarf
  • doing park cleanup and finding 1) a paring knife, 2) a lighter and metal spoon in suspicious proximity, and 3) a basketball in a pear tree.  No joke.  We donated the basketball along with several coats to Women In Need Victoria (but forgot to upload & submit the photo! NOOOOO!)
  • dusting off my composing skills, then walking a few steps in my choir director’s shoes – they pinch a bit – and having so much fun interpreting pop music in harmony
  • being one of over 100 000 people who have pledged to make November & December the kindest months of 2012 (what are we going to do next year?  A million people?  We could totally get there, because GISHWHES can accomplish anything!)
  • running to Home Depot with one hour left on the clock because WE NEED MORE GLUE FOR JENSEN SNACKLES
  • being asked on the bus if we were connected with the people running around downtown dressed as pirates because “you look like you’re in costume,” looking around, and realising we were all wearing our everyday clothes
  • a misty-eyed (on both sides) hug for the vet offering poppies outside the grocery store
  • working with the fearless, tireless, and creative members of Team Spacebees Loves Shenanigan!  Thank you all for an amazing experience!

Now I can get back to real life…I guess…if I have to…


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Dearli is finished and blocking.

I have some dolly knitting almost finished.

But right now I need to take a break…because GISHWHES!!!  No time for knitting (unless knitting something for points) – I have to help my international team, Spacebees Loves Shenanigans, compete to gather the craziest photos and videos imaginable to gain points to hopefully become the winning team that goes to Scotland and spends a weekend in a haunted castle with the insane mastermind behind the whole thing – actor Misha Collins.

If you are participating in GISHWHES yourself, GOOD LUCK and HAVE FUN!  If you’re not…you can still support Team Spacebees (or any other team you know to be participating)!  One of the challenges is to see how many people we can get to pledge to perform one random act of kindness (RAK) before the end of 2012.  Anything, from buying a coffee for the next person in line, to donating blood, to volunteering at your local soup kitchen.  Pledging is easy and painless and FREE, simply go to the pledge page, enter your name and email (and the act you plan to perform if you know what it is already), and enter my email address as the person who referred you.  [email redacted post-event]

GISHWHES will not email you (unless you choose to sign up to their email list) or share your email address – it’s just there to make sure you are a real person who’s not me.  I hope that even if you don’t want to pledge in my name (gaining my team 1 point per 2 people who pledge), you will consider performing a RAK this year and every year.  GISHWHES is about craziness, but GISHWHES is also about love, so let’s all share the love and good wishes and may the craziest team win!

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It took a lot of ripping and a lot of knitting, but I got Dearli looking the way I wanted it to!  Here’s how much yarn I took out of each front:


And here’s how the sweater is looking right now:


This is seriously the best fitting sweater I have ever owned, and it’s not even sewn together yet (notice how my black t-shirt showing on the right makes my arm look disembodied?)!  Yesterday was a day of epic busy-ness: I finished knitting the sweater.  I went grocery shopping.  I photographed the sweater.  I put ONE MILLION LOCAL SQUASHES in the oven (okay, it was one pie pumpkin and 1.5 kabocha squashes but still, the oven was full).  Meanwhile, Killira decided that actually it was her sweater:


I washed the sweater.  I made delicious pumpkin pie filling (for Thanksgiving, you know).  I blocked the sweater.  I made amazing squash soup.  I washed ALL THE DISHES (I think I broke the hot water heater).  Then I collapsed on the couch.

Now I’m still waiting for the darn thing to dry so I can sew it up and see if I can knit the ruffle while wearing it.  I know once I put this one on for real I will never want to take it off.  But why does wool have to take so long to dry?!?

Oh, and the pie was delicious!  My grandma confessed that in all her 71 years, she’s never had a pumpkin pie that didn’t come out of a can…so thankful for the opportunity to share the yumminess!  I also used the leftover pastry to make pumpkin tarts to share with my friends over the next few days so we can all enjoy the local squashly bounty.

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Don’t you just love that feeling of clearing something off your to-knit list?  Especially when it’s been hanging around for a long time!  I have two such success stories to share with you today!  In fact, from a certain perspective, I have three thrilling tales of projects I’ve happily wrapped up!

You see, last September, this is what our computer/craft/spare room looked like:


Before you judge my housekeeping too harshly, this was in the midst of Mr. Salamander renovating the landlords’ deck as well as our laundry/utility room underneath it, so there were appliances and bicycles everywhere.  Still, this room is a magnet for junk.  But right now, it looks like this:


(Sorry about the weird bending effect – I thought it might be fun to take a panorama shot and only realised after uploading the photo that I’d changed the alignment somewhat midway)

There are a few things left to do, but the spare room is looking great right now – and the rest of the house is pretty close!  While we were tidying in here, though, I noticed my Ivy sweater (which I started more than a year and a half ago) balled up on top of one of my yarn storage towers where I’d tossed it when the Tour de Fleece started.  “THIS CANNOT BE!” I thought.  And after an afternoon’s work, it isn’t!


I love Mary-Janes and cardigans so much, this outfit almost makes me wish I was going back to school next week instead of back to my nannying job!  Like the spare room, it’s not perfect – the collar is quite floppy in the back and although I am hoping I can block it into shape I suspect I may have to re-do it.  But that’s for another day.  Right now I’m enjoying wearing it – it fits pretty well, although it wants to fall off my shoulders.  Not sure if that’s because I am not well endowed in that area, or if, like with my Regent, I should have knit a size smaller in the back and a size larger in the front instead of just picking the size that fit my circumference best – it will be fine when I’m wearing it over a shirt, but with just a camisole underneath here, I had to re-take this photo several times to make sure my undergarments were not making an appearance!

Then I was on a roll and I had my yarn needle out anyway, so I decided it was time to finish up the Puerperium Cardigan I cast on in February, so sayeth my Ravelry project, intending to mail it to my baby cousin who was expected to appear in mid-late March…and then put away when I still hadn’t finished it by the time she was 4 weeks old.  I needed more time to finish, and then it would have taken a couple of weeks to get to her in the mail, and it would have been so sad if it didn’t fit, and I became full of self-doubt and lack of willpower.   So I’m hanging on to it for now, maybe to add to my hope chest or maybe to give to another family, as I seem to be reaching the point in life where people I know make babies.


My Puerperal Pansy was a fun knit.  It was easy and quick – don’t let my problems getting it finished deter you!  I am definitely considering buying the extended version (Beyond Puerperium, for multiple yarn weights and sized up to 2 years), since it’s such an adorable gift knit and lends itself so well to embellishment!  I was thrilled to find that I had just enough yarn left over from knitting the original pansies to do an entire baby cardigan in pansy colours and then a pansy decoration, and I love how sweet it turned out.  This would be freaking adorable paired with a headband that had a pansy on it as well…hmm, must see if I have any of that yarn left!

Here’s hoping I can keep up the momentum and knock a few more items off my WIPs list!

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Dear me!

First off, here’s a picture of the deer I have started calling “my Dearli dears.”  They are always hanging around when I am heading home from work late and I’ve taken to saying hi and telling them off for being so bold!  People walk and bike by them, and they just stare placidly at the interlopers, like “you’re not a tulip, why do I even care?”


Dearli, if you’re wondering, is a Chinese TaoBao shop selling Mori Girl outfits and accessories, and since I named my Regent cardigan “Dearli” (in part because I intend to style it Mori-fashion, and in part because the colourway is named “Doe”) I have had deer and Dearli on my mind a lot this summer.


Recently at knit night we were discussing what to do when a project doesn’t fit.  Some people felt strongly that if a sweater doesn’t fit you, that just means it’s destined to belong to someone else!  One woman said that she’d given away handknits before and that she would go to great lengths to find just the right person for a garment that didn’t fit its intended recipient.  Personally, I’m a selfish perfectionist and once I’ve put that many hours into something, I will do whatever it takes to get the finished project I wanted.  Which brings me to this week’s update!

When I got to the armholes and separated the fronts from the back, I figured it was about time to try the thing on and make sure the bust darts I’d added were working out.  That’s when I discovered that although the total circumference of the sweater was pretty close to what I wanted, the back was so wide that the centre of the armholes wanted to sit about 3″ forward, more on my bust than my torso!  So this weekend I sat down with some apple-ginger cider to dull the pain and ripped the whole thing out to start again.

more than 6 extra inches - whoops

I’m now working the next size smaller, with an additional change: after carefully checking my own measurements against the schematic (which I had done circumference-wise, but I’d neglected to take separate back and bust measurements), I’m placing the back shaping and armholes as for the smallest size.  I think this will mean I can dial back the bust darts slightly too, as there will now be more material in the fronts to start with, but I haven’t double checked that math yet.

In addition to wanting a sweater that I will love passionately for its well-fittedness, I had a reason for ripping right back to the cast on: I tried to mess with the design and regretted it!  Lately I’ve been moving away from Kfb increases because they create a purl-like bump that distorts stockinette.  For some reason, instead of trusting the designer’s instructions, I decided to place a marker and use M1 increases from that point.  The shape of the front was fine, but I was not happy with the very visible line where I’d been increasing.


This time around, I tried following the actual directions as stated in the pattern (crazy, I know) and what do you know, it looks amazing and no more line-that-adds-nothing on the fronts of my cardigan!


So let this be a lesson – always measure twice, and respect your designer!

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One craft-along wraps up, another starts, and just where is a person supposed to find time to blog about it?

I outdid myself on the Tour De Fleece.  I didn’t come out with as many completely finished yarns as I maybe hoped, but I spun every day the tour rode, challenged myself to try out new fibres and new techniques, and all in all had so much fun!


I’m really excited about the Polwarth/silk in the top right corner.  It was my spin on Challenge Day: I was busy with work and friends and wasn’t sure how much spinning I’d get to, so I gave myself half an hour and measured how much I was able to complete in that time – about half of this 1/2 oz teaser bump from Corgi Hill Farms, it turned out.  In the end, I was able to spin the rest while visiting my friends (as we played Small World, I worked on this and Em was busy just, you know, SPINNING A SWEATER!), a thick-and-thin yarn destined to be a sweater for poor, neglected Edik.  He’s equal parts thrilled (“It’s for me!!!”) and bemused (“But…what is it?”), as you can see in my progress pic.


Now, of course, the Ravellenic Games, which run parallel to a certain international competitive sporting event but had to be renamed this year so as not to go on diluting the brand, as it were, have started!  Actually, I guess they’re more than halfway done!  And I have so much more to do!  Which is kind of sad, considering that I kind of burned out in 2010 and therefore set my goals commensurately lower this year.  Well, I guess in 2010, I was only employed part-time and wasn’t entertaining folks for board- and role-playing games 4 nights a week.

My main focus is socks for Mr. Salamander.  I bought the yarn (you might remember) on impulse one payday, then saw the perfect match for it over at Everything Old (it’s awesome to find amazeballs indie dyers who happen to be local and also fun to hang out with) and knew this needed to become his-and-her mismatched socks.  I’m a little more than halfway onhis, have yet to start mine.  I’m using various elements from Socks A La Carte 2: Toes Up, which my lovely mother-in-law gave me for Christmas.  I have to say, I’m not overly impressed with the book – some of the directions are worded confusingly and relatively few of the designs appeal to me – but it’s great for learning different construction for toes & heels.  Here, I’m using the star toe and origami heel, and I’m planning to try out a couple of different options when it’s time for my own mismatched pair.


I was going to work on an old WIP as part of my games challenge, especially since I’ve been doing so little dolly knitting lately, but, well, have a look:


It’s the thinnest cobweb-weight yarn I own, on 1mm needles, a bottom-up skirt for Vasya, my 60cm girl.  I worked on it for about 2 hours last week, and do you know how much farther I got than that photo?  FOUR ROWS.  I calculated how much more there is to it, and it’s over 100 more rows.  Now, the rows will get faster as they get shorter, but not soon enough!  I’m still committed to finishing this skirt in 2012, especially now that I can work under a magnifying craft light (Canadian Tire!  $40!), but I think it can wait until after August 12th.

It’s also been hard to convince myself to do any knitting at all, since this totally happened:


That there is my new spinning wheel (tentatively named Tamar).  Vintage (reportedly 50s), virtually all wood, so Mr. Salamander can help look after her/make some new parts, on consignment at the local yarn store for only $100 (I’m still not ready to spend $3-600 on a wheel, but this seemed manageable), not too frightening since she only has one setting, so no worrying about ratios (yet).  There’s definitely a learning curve: here’s my first attempt at yarn, the braid of corriedale that came free-with-large-purchase plied with some boucle cotton that was what I was in the store looking for in the first place.


After I spun that, I went back to spindling my flax to prove to myself that I don’t totally suck at spinning.  I’ve also been plying several strands of that cotton together to get a feel for the wheel and also make up some bulky multi-strand funkiness with which to make more wacky hot mats.  Soon, I’ll spin up the rest of my KP Roving of the Andes – I had a lot of trouble drafting the Corriedale, but I had trouble drafting it on a spindle as well.  I don’t quite want to sacrifice one of my beloved braids from CHF or Everything Old to learning how to wheel, but I do want to try out something a little less compacted and grabby.  Plus, must stash down before buying more fibre at the local agricultural fair!  Yes, that’s what’s going to happen…

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