Friday, December 28, 2007

Don't Drop Beer On Your Knitting!

I've been more than a little nostalgic lately. I've also been busy, which is why almost a month has passed between blog entries. Remember last year when I was assistant manager and couldn't wait to step down? Yeah...well.... Now I'm a manager.

One day at nine am, I was an assistant learning paperwork with a test looming. By five in the afternoon, I was going to inherit a problem-laden store two days later.

I was a little surprised by my excitement, but not surprised by my fear of leaving my second home. But leave I did. I walked into a near-constant headache, scratch tickets gone wildly out of control, out of date products on the shelves and a staffing crisis I'd only heard about.

So now it's been a month and a week since I was given my own store. My assistant manager and I have worked out our personality clashes (I think), I have a better idea of what I have to do in a day, and I've learned a few things. Among the high points are: it really is easier to add whole packs of tickets if I want my counts to work; there really aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want; and most importantly, I CAN do this. If I could just get my communications & paperwork bag ready by 4:30 every friday afternoon I would be pleased.

Santa was good to me this year. Was he good to you? He brought me yarn, knitting needles, needle tip protectors and other assorted gizmos every knitter lusts after but doesn't really NEED. And beer. On the needles this week: a deep purple garter-stitch scarf intended for our local homeless program, a child's mitten that is nearly ignored, and a sock for a friend's father (although I don't think this one wants to be finished). I think it's too small, but Tammy is trying to convince me to finish it. I really want to finish it, do it well and go on to another pair in brighter colours. The yarn is such a dark blue it's almost black. Try and tink that! I love Ravelry though. I'm almost as addicted to the site as I am to knitting. I have such grand plans for my favourite craft... I foresee socks in self patterning wool blends, scarves that will bring homeless people a little warmth, and eventually teddy bears that will be distributed to kids stuck in hospital. I want to make a difference. I know I did at Tammy's store, I hope I make a difference at home. I'm told I'm making a difference at work...but I just don't know? So I'll make a difference with my needles.
I hope.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Chevy's Basic Mittens

This is the pattern for Chevy's Basic Mittens....

With 3mm needles, cast on 16, 16, 16
Knit 3-4" for cuff

For thumb gusset--knit 3, p1, k3, p1, knit to end of round. Repeat this for 5 rounds

Next row--k3, p1, make 1, make 1, k1, p1, knit to end of round (5 stitches between purls)
Next row--k3, p1, k5, p1, knit to end of round
Next row--k3, p1, m1, k2, m1, k1, p1, knit to end of row
Keep doing this until there are 11 or 13 stitches between purls

Next row--k3, slip thumb gusset stitches onto stitch holder (don't drop the others). Cast on 5 stitches. Connect to other side. Knit to end of round.
Keep knitting rounds until you have the desired length.

To shape top--*k6, k2tog. Repeat to end of round. You might end up with 4 stitches at end of round. These will gradually be incorporated.
Knit next round.
Next row--*k5, k2tog. Repeat to end of round.
Knit next round
Next row--*k4, k2tog. Repeat to end of round
Knit next round
Next row--*k3, k2tog. Repeat to end of round
Knit next round
Next row--*k2, k2tog. Repeat to end of round.
Knit next round
Next row--*k1, k2tog. Repeat to end of round.
Knit next round.
Next (and final) row--*k2tog. Repeat to end of round.

Leave a length of yarn for assembly about 6" long. Pull stitches up tight and thread through tip to seal securely.

Carefull take stitches off stitch holder. Divide stitches onto 2 needles. With 3rd and 4th needles, pick up and knit at least 5 stitches.
Knitting with all four needles, make thumb. If it seems too large at first, k2tog.
Knit thumb at least 1 1/2 " or desired length. K2together all around thumb.
Leaving a tail, cut yarn and thread through stitches. Pull tight and finish off.
Thread all tails into mitt, snip off excess yarn.

Voila, you have a mitt!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Am A Greener Computing Knitter

Every now and then, it's gratifying to see that we've supported the right company for the right reasons. The last computer we bought here was a Dell, and while all the highlights escape me just now, I can say we've all (all 5 of us) have been very happy with it. It does all we ask and then some. This morning I was reading over at EcoGeek and I saw that Dell has been pushing long and hard (since 1991 in fact) to be the environmentally conscious leader in the technology field. Everything from a tree planting program, a packaging optimization program, a used computer and peripherals program, a computer donation program; leaving a smaller carbon footprint is a high priority for these folks. Even their inbound components are considered. Instead of having the inbound parts delivered on those wooden pallets we've all seen, starting back in 2005 Dell has been having them brought in on "slip sheets", three-pound, .03-inch thick plastic sheets that has resulted in more than 8,000 tons of wood reduction for inbound shipments. More than 8000 tons!
In 2006,
Dell saved over 24,000 tons of packaging material by annual reduction and elimination of corrugated, plastic foam, and wood materials. Wow...
As if that's not enough, Dell also demands their design stage be greener.
Dell's Design for Environment (DfE) program incorporates into product development environmental attributes such as reduction of environmentally sensitive materials, decreases in equipment energy consumption, extension of product life span and utilization of parts that can be reused, resold or recycled. Extension of product life, I'd like my computer to live a little longer, thanks. Good idea, hmm?
So the next time you wonder what one person can do to help the environment, beyond shutting lights off when you aren't in the room, consider spending your computing dollars at Dell. We can change the world with our dollars.
Even knitters know this. Many knitters are seeking out handmade sweaters at thrift shops with an eye for the yarn therein. I know of at least three that have scored some very nice wool this way. They buy the sweater for a few dollars, carefully frog it (also known as taking it apart) and roll the wool into a ball to be used in some other project. So that $3 wool sweater that someone else found to be too itchy or ugly, or whatever, finds a new life in a pair of socks, or mittens or sometimes even a new sweater. Many knitters and spinners are seeing the eco-advantages to using vegetable dyes over alkaline ones, even more folks are using wooden needles. There are some amazing birch and bamboo needles out there, and some very soft soy yarn. Soy!
Even we knitters can change our world, one stitch, one dollar at a time.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

First One Finished!

There it is...all toes tucked in, Kitchener Stitch attempted. It turned out pretty well I think. It isn't squared-off, like the first blue one. This one is...better.
I was over the moon I was so tickled with how it turned out. Tried to call Mom, but she had gone to bed. At 10:30...what was she thinking? (insert evil grin here)
So I stopped dancing (which can be pretty sad, because I have NO rhythm) and cast on the mate. I wonder if I can get these done in time for my friend's birthday. I can show these photos, because I finally asked her if she ever read the blog. When she compared the difference between catching up with me in RL, as often as we do, or spending time on the blog...I saw her unspoken point. That, and I know how many other demands there are on her time. So I'm safe posting the photo here.

Today Betty and I took the boys for a nature walk and gathered some wild grapes; which are, at this very minute, hanging from a cheesecloth, hanging from the now-empty birdcage stand and dripping into a bowl. We've already cut, mashed and hung watermelon pieces in cheesecloth and collected approx. 4-5 cups of juice for jelly. Realistically, it likely won't get made until next weekend; so for now it will rest in the freezer. In the freezer, and awaiting the pot are strawberries, peaches, and watermelon juice. Tomorrow morning, the grape juice will join them. And apples within the next four days. Well, at least we won't die of scurvy this winter.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Breezy Toes

Nearly done.
All that remains of the first dsock (yes, that's what I'm calling it) is to do the Kitchener stitch on the toe. I actually did a few more rounds after I took this shot, so no, the recipient's toe will not be sticking out as mine was. I'm fairly pleased with it so far. It fits well and should stand up to a hiking boot with some dignity at the end of the trail. These will be a gift for a close friend, and I'm hoping I'll have them both done for the big day. If not...I'll have to get creative.
I've already started a pair for Betty. In baby blue that has a slight silvery sheen. I'll post that pic of the WIP the next time I blog. It's like knitting with hair! I have to keep stopping because I notice myself hunching up and straining to hold the tension.
Looking for some inspiration? Look no further than Knitting Up A Storm. She reads, she writes, she
If you're looking for the kind of inspiration that you can read in bed, try "Easy Knitted Socks" by Jeanette Trotman. Cool photos, cool projects and a keeper if you can find it in your local bookstore.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

At What Point Does It Classify As An Obsession?

I have fallen head over heels (pun intended) in love with knitted socks.
If you read this blog at all, you know my mother has knitted me socks for years. You also know that I have recently learned how to do this for myself. I like to snack while on the computer, and surf for inspiration. This morning, I came across the Runs With Needles blog, and the photo at left. Talk about inspiration! I love these! The moment I saw this sock, I knew I had to find some yarn like this, which then made me recall the dream I had last night. I dreamed I was in one of our local craft discount stores, in their yarn section. The last time we were there, Betty saw a yarn that has aloe vera impregnated into it, intended for socks. I also remember how beyond our budget it was.
My first thought upon awakening was, 'great, now I'm dreaming about making socks!'
Needless to say, I can't wait to get to Len's Mills again.

I have another project on the needles, but because it is a gift for a friend, and I think she reads this blog occasionally, I can't tell you about it. But I can tell you it suits her, and it is very colourful. That, and I can't wait to get it finished! As I get more of it completed, I'll see if I can take photos that won't reveal too much of what it is.
A couple of months ago, I came across a cute little animation on youtube. It really makes one think about the fine line between a hobby and an obsession.
The Last Knit
Another knitting obsession of mine is
Helpful, funny, cool and whimsical all at the same time. I can't wait for each issue to come out. I have found some great time wasters, free patterns I can't wait to try, wonderful techniques, inspiration and ...whew!
Go check 'em out, I'll bet you come away just as addicted as I am.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Footy Achievement

Isn't it odd how most of us take our feet for granted?

Diabetics have to pay careful attention to their feet; keeping them clean, dry and watching for cuts and infection. Sock manufacturers have recognised a market and swooped down, making a "diabetic" sock in all shades. I am fortunate enough to own a few pairs of such socks, and let me tell you they are worth every cent we paid! Because I stand on my feet for hours at a time, I wanted a pair of socks that would not make my feet sweat, 'cause when that happens my feet itch and then all kinds of nasty things happen! I am not, thank the heavens, diabetic. But my mother is, so I think of these things quite a bit.

My mother is a most amazing sock maker. She has knitted socks for as long as I can remember. The past few years, I have always been a grateful recipient. One year she gave me one sock for my birthday (in December) and the mate on Christmas day! I have gotten brown socks, peach socks, socks that made no colour sense at all, and socks that I miss because I wore them out. I have always envied the way she can produce such a warm and form fitting sock out of a length of yarn; and I always wanted to learn how she achieved this magic. Mom sent me the pattern a couple of months ago, and this past week, I got brave.

I made a sock.

That's it, up there in the left corner. It's a modest little number (ok, not so little) in turquoise blue with a dark blue speckled cuff. It turned out very well, if I do say so myself. All except the toe. It seems I need a bit more practise with the Kitchener stitch. But no worries, with Mom's instructions in hand, and the fab photos at Silver's Place

(see the bottom part of the page for Kitchener stitch instructions)

I'm quite sure I'll get it with the next sock.

Not bad for someone that learned how to knit a sock via the internet and long distance phone.

Back to the needles!

Monday, September 03, 2007

R.I.P Tweety

This is, or was, Tweety.
We got Tweety for Betty back about six years ago. Betty has always had birds and when we got the opportunity to get a bird, I thought it would make her feel a little more at home.
Tweety never liked me.
She would fuss, holler and carry on so much when I was on the phone (it didn't matter to her who I was talking with) that frequently I had to go to another room. When I tried to be nice to her, she would threaten to bite me. Nearly succeeded a few times, too. We would put her cage outside on nice days, and then keep an eye out for the neighbours cat. In the spring we moved her cage to stand near the patio door, in the living room, so that she could see all of us and interact with everyone that came through the place. Our patio door became our main entrance, and everyone would say hello to Tweety. Jimmy taught her to sing, and somehow she learned how to make noises like our phone when we called out. It got so frequent that for the longest time I thought Jimmy was calling all his friends, and it turned out to be Tweety beeping like the phone!
She was a character, our Tweety.

Last night, at 1 in the morning, Tweety passed away from, what we believe, was a heart attack.
She was sitting on her perch watching t.v with me, occasionally retrieving a mouthfull of seed, when she started singing very softly. I called it "singing to herself" it was so low key. She would often do it at night while we watched t.v. Last night she did it again, and I thought nothing of it. Then I heard a small thump and scratching on the bottom of the cage. I stood up to peek into the cage, thinking she was goofing around as she did from time to time. But she was on her back with her wings stiffening and opening, repeatedly. I called Betty from across the room to come look, tell me what was going on, but by the time she had crossed ten feet, Tweety was gone.
Her eyes closed and her feet clenched, our beautiful feathery family member was gone.

I confess, I'm a little surprised how much I miss her. Shandon has been crying all day and I get choked up when I think about how empty her cage is now. Strange, I didn't expect this much emotion for a bird. She was just a bird, right?
No, she fit right in here.
Colourful, loud, opinionated, dramatic and very out there.
Yup, she was one of us, and we'll miss her.

Fly free, Tweety.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Knitty Moments Approaching Another School Year

With the mitten behind me, and the ending of same haunting me with it's ugliness, I gave in and thought I might try a sock.
"What?! Are you insane!?" I hear you cry. Yeah, I guess I must be, but let me tell you, it's not that bad.
Yes, I have had moments where I wondered what was in my glass, but I've also been lucky enough to have MOM only a phone call away. With her instructional email printed out and in front of me, and the phone on my shoulder, I've managed to nearly complete one sock. I had it on my foot and I've made it to the arch. It has a royal blue flecked cuff and a baby blue body, and it will have a royal blue toe, I think. (I'll post a photo when I finish the sock) So far, I'm very pleased with the way it's turning out. A website I'd like to point you to (if you're the knitting sort) is
I'm also encouraged by the Yarn Harlot's many knitting adventures.

School starts again on tuesday. The School Board still has not responded to my letter explaining why Shandon will not be attending school this year. First thing in the morning, I have a meeting with the new principal to see what can be done to get Braydon a different teacher. The teacher he has been assigned cannot teach children with a learning disorder. I don't mean she's not allowed, I mean she is incapable. She taught Shandon for grade two and it was an unmitigated, horrible, emotional nightmare. She furthered his sense of emotional isolation, cramped the potential for learning and along the way gave the other kids more fuel for teasing. Even against our pediatrician's objections, she left Shandon out in the hallway instead of teaching him within the group. Long story short... she's not teaching Braydon. So the little guy will not be attending the first day of grade two. I expect we'll be able to get it all sorted out. Apparently this principal has taken all kinds of training in the special ed arena, and Braydon has all kinds of documentation to record his ADD, NVLD and depression.
So, we'll see.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Powering Up

Those of you who read here every now and then know how busy we are here. Well, to add to all the other stuff we do, I've been doing research on tidal generators. More specifically, in-stream generators. There's lots of information on the web about tidal generators, like the computer rendering to the left, but very few places that reveal anything about in-stream generators. Basically, they are small turbines that float in, or sit on the bottom of rivers. The current turns propeller-like blades, which creates electricity, which can then be delievered to a battery or delivered to the user. In the module to the left, the idea is that the blades are mounted on huge towers anchored to the bay/lake/ocean floor. The current/tides move the blades, again creating the electrical charge, and so on. Tidal power farms, like our example above, can power more homes, but are more expensive and are a massive undertaking. Truly inspiring though.

Anyway, in my book (The Anari Effect) that I've mentioned before, one of the projects being developed is a small in-stream turbine. No, I know it's not new. Yes, I know someone has already invented it. But my book is fiction, with a strong ecological theme and message. Readers are either going to forgive me that I didn't think of these things first, or they're going to hate me. (Besides, that's what the disclaimers and Kudos section is for in the foreword of the book.)

I've learned tons while doing the research. Tidal power projects are being considered and installed all over the world. New Zealand, Nova Scotia, Africa, France, Greenland...all countries with coast lines. Apparently wind farms are either loved or reviled. I would think that they would be embraced all over. After all, aren't we all paying too much for power? I had the good fortune to see a wind turbine on our way to a Pride event (see previous post), and it was much taller than I expected. The blades weren't moving that day, so I was able to see how long they are. It was impressive, believe me! I was pleased to learn that there are persoanl-sized wind towers that are available now. Small enough to fit in your backyard, and powerful enough to relieve some of your dependency on the local power company. So I got to thinking; if one could outfit one's home with even a small amount of solar, combined with a wind tower in the back, combined with energy conservation...what would the impact be to your power bill, and how much would it cost to get that savings?

All very intriguing food for thought.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Oh, The Indecision...

The world of blogging has become huge. Celebrities have blogs, people who don't want to write in a diary have blogs, hell, even politicians have blogs now!

<- That's Freckles the Wonder Dog contemplating what he might blog about; if he stayed awake long enough.

But I've found that life often gets in the way of blogging. I've been working 6 days a week for I'm-not-even-sure-how-many-weeks now, and my evenings fly by in an exhausted haze. Betty and I were fortunate to attend the Dyke March in Toronto last Saturday, and we HAD A BLAST! We saw drag queens, we saw topless women, we saw women on stilts, we saw grandmothers, young mothers, mothers to be... we saw women making a political statement, and we were able to be a small part of it by merely being crowd control. Next year we'd like to be able to go to Toronto and stay the weekend.

I've gotten NO knitting done, but I am writing again! The Anari Effect has been a work in progress for some time. I got stuck for a bit, but a friend (and agent), has been challenging me. She's inspiring, thought provoking and very intellectual. she's always a delight to spend time with, and she's a fellow doggie person too! I'm hoping to hear her opinion soon of the first four chapters. I'd like to think that I'll finish it, be proud and be able to market it out to a publisher. I never wanted to be a one-book author.

The Anari Effect was originally supposed to be a bit of a thriller/mystery with a bit of science & tech thrown in; but the mystery is falling more and more by the wayside. I'm not sure the mysterious element is as important as I thought. The theme seems to be the quest for alternative energy solutions, about pollution and saving the planet's resources, about broadening our horizons as a race. While it's interesting to me, is it enough to sell books? How does Jackie Collins do it? She has churned out countless books, countless characters, countless plots, but she writes for hours every day. How did she manage book two?

Argggh! she probably didn't watch t.v, though either.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Musings From Nature

What a day!!!
The family and I planned a stroll down to a nearby Osprey nest today, and while I was hoping to find a feather or two, no luck. At the nest, anyway. The two youngest boys strolled along, happy to look through the binoculars every now and then. Daddy osprey was not around, as expected, so we veered down a woody trail Betty and I have been down before. After spotting a huge turtle we found a couple of spots that would have been good fishing holes, and decided to sit down at one. The boys were willing to sit quietly, and much to our surprise, Shandon spotted a couple of extremely large carp laying their eggs. We were sitting on a bank about four feet above the river, watching the carp when a muskrat swam right under our noses! Twice!
Of course I couldn't get to the cell phone that serves as our camera.
We were all just thrilled, every one of us wearing big stupid grins.
After a while, Braydon got bored, so we moved further down the trail. The no-see-ums were swarming, but it was sunny, so we were okay.
Until my right leg disappeared down a hole.
It smarted, but I think my pride was hurt more.
We knew that all we had to do to get home was veer to our right and walk across the back of the cornfield. (As the crow flies we only live about a mile away) So that's what we did.

Just before the cornfield is a large flat rock. I was already past it when Shandon asked,
"Is that a skull?"
Shore 'nuff, son.
Turns out, the skull was accompanied by the two lower jaw bones, multiple clumps of brownish fur and a leg bone too yurky to bring home.
We brought home the skull and jaws, since they were amazingly clean. A few steps into the cornfield, which has yet to sprout, Shandon found a feather, which seems to be an owl feather.
(I'll show you that one next time)
Can you tell I'm proud of my boy?

Speaking of Shandon, we've decided to homeschool him for the next school year. In fact, it's kind of started already, even though he still attends public school for the remainder of this year. As we were crossing the cornfield the first time this afternoon, Braydon (who is all of 7 years old) says, "This must be homeschooling, 'cause we're learning stuff."
I choked up on the spot.
Braydon will still attend his current school, I don't have anything against the school itself. I just think, I believe, that Shandon could learn more at home. Now before you start hollering about socialization, let me tell you what his social life at school consists of. He has been bullied since grade 1 about a medical problem that his classmates seized upon the moment they discovered it. His pants were pulled down at school out in the playground a couple of years ago, and the student who did it was not suspended. I'm told he removed himself from school that day, refusing to come back out of guilt, and the school talked him into coming back! Shandon has never had more than one or two friends, and only one of them goes to the same school. Shandon is not invited to parties, go bike riding or invited to Yu-gi-oh tournaments.
He has been miserable at school; so there is NO socialization problem to worry about.

We are all looking forward to the start of our new journey. Pumped! You bet! We're going to start with a unit on marine life. We have found webcams that give us a window into the world of river otters, turtles, tuna and sharks. I've sent away for more info than I remember on Ontario's water and fish habitats. We're going on field trips this summer to the ROM, the Zoo and ...
Best of all? Shandon is looking forward to it!

With all this going on, my knitting has taken a back seat.
I finished Mom's Crayola scarf a couple of weeks ago. Still working on Dad's purple one. The red and black mitt didn't thrill me. From the point where I started decreasing, I wasn't happy with it. So while I'm not quite finished, I stopped. I debated for a few days and decided to rip most of the mitt back.
But I started Betty's scarf! It's a varigated purple/mauve baby weight. It's sooo soft!
One of these days I'll get back to preemie knitting.
One of these days...


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Just a Short One...

So this is the first mitten, nearly done. It's done in a multi-coloured Paton's yarn.
There is no mate, being a technique mitten. Picking up the stitches at the thumb was a pain of gargangutan proportions. So I've learned that knitting mittens can be fun, now I'm doing a real pair with a black tweed cuff and a red body. Pictures to follow, as soon as I knit enough of it. So now I'm thinking that socks might be fun too. Have you been following the Harlot's adventures? I'm thinking my mittens need to travel, get their pictures taken outside of the apartment. Just for kicks. I'm hoping I have enough fun that I don't mind making fifty or so.
Just a short one tonight, maybe more tomorrow.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring, Sticks and Twisted Strands

I think Spring is finally here.
I heard the red-winged blackbirds talking to the bluejays this afternoon on the way home from work; and I'm pretty sure they were all talking about the sunshine. It was odd day. We started off with sunshine, then cloud, then misty rain that quickly turned to torrential buckets! Then it tapered off and got warm when the sun came out!

We were watching WNED the other night and I was pleased to see "A Song's Best Friend: John Denver". They played a lot of my favourite songs, and some I'd never heard. If I had to pick an absolute love-the-most, I guess "Sunshine On My Shoulders". I know I was certainly humming it today!

Remember the bamboo needles I mentioned before? Well, I've knit with them a bit more, and I'm still trying to decide if I REALLY like them. Maybe I've just been spoiled by metal smoothness; I don't know. I recently decided to try knitting mitts, and after a couple of stutters, it's not bad. I'm nearly done the first one, a multi-coloured attempt at unashamed creativity. It's not going to get a mate, I'm hoping to get all the BIG mistakes out of my system with this one. What a nightmare trying to remember how to knit with four needles! And then I found out that the cuff was going up instead of down. I was knitting the wrong way! Pull it all the way back to the cuff (I came to my realization 15 rounds past the cuff), flip it right side out and do it all again. All in all, it's been a learning experience.

Are you a knitter? When you start a new skein, do you use an outside strand or pull out the guts and use the inside strand? A few of us get together at least once a week and work on our projects of the week. (I am the only person who does not crochet, but they're trying to convert me.) Anyway, my friend Lorraine is a go-for-the-guts kinda gal, and sometimes this backfires on her. Last night I thought I would capture our friend, Diane, (pictured above) trying to sort out the yarn. See, THIS is a true friend, willing to go the distance, willing to tie herself up in knots...and the only one of us loopy enough to even ATTEMPT to sort out the mess that was Lorraine's skein.
(note to self: CAREFULLY pull the guts out of the next new skein.)

Well, back to the newest baby hat. My co-worker is due at the end of March, and the hat won't finish itself. I'll see if I can finish the mitt tonight too, and scan it for you to see.

Be crafty!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sticks and How they Support Me

I have a confession to make.
I've become addicted.
Maybe even more so this time.
I cannot seem to stop knitting, not counting the times when I am at work, eating or in the shower. I knit at home, while watching t.v, while waiting for stuff to download on the computer, between games while playing in the billiards league we belong to, while on the phone with my mother, and even squeezed in "one more row before work". I've even been in the bathroom and found myself thinking, 'I could have brought that hat in here and not been wasting all this time'. I haven't resorted to bathroom knitting yet, but it sure is tempting. When I'm not knitting, I'm thinking about it. Or knitting blogs. Or knitting needles. I picked up a pair of bamboo needles at a yarn outlet sale, and I'm still trying to figure out if I like them. I like the warmth, their silence and the earthiness of them, but they aren't as easy to knit with as my favourites. I inherited a pair of metal (aluminum?) needles from my Mom and I seem to knit fastest with those. They have points that, while not SHARP, can go into the back of a stitch without shredding the yarn. The bamboos seem to be a bit more tension difficult. But I'm sticking with it, just in case love comes late with these sticks that so many seem to like.

On those bamboo needles right now is a baby/toddler hat made with a Phentex baby yarn. Not sure of the exact colour name, but it is a light blue with a silver thread running through it. (I picked this up at the aforementioned yarn sale) I'm two rows past the ribbing, so it's still new, but I can tell you I LOVE this yarn! It's soft, looks great and I think it's got the potential to be talked about for some time. I have knitted a preemie hat in a Phentex mint green sport yarn, as well as a newborn hat in the same yarn. I have started a pair of booties, with only one being actually completed. I am knitting my Dad a scarf in grape-koolaid-purple, by request. On another set of needles is a multi-hued scarf for my Mom, fondly called the Crayola scarf around here. I made my youngest son very happy about a month ago when I made him a scarf in the colours of his coat. It was the first time I had tassled anything. A few friends and I have decided we're going to knit & crochet for charity, so we have a box started for a hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario that is looking for peemie and baby items, as well as a box for our local Out of the Cold program. I have more inspiration than fingers and time!

Remember the blogs I mentioned? I've recently discovered The Yarn Harlot. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is an obsessed knitter and author, and Canadian to boot! She has a blog that is intensely popular, and I think it's safe to say that she's a role model for a great many; if the comments to her blog and popularity of her books is anything to go by. Betty (the brave housemate and best friend) is bringing me home a few of the Harlot's books sometime today. Looking forward to that!

Well, the needles call, and so does breakfast!
Learn something new today!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pathetic how much time flies by before I realize I haven't written anything here.
When I was much younger, my mother went through a back to the land phase, like many folks in the seventies. It was an interesting time, and one that made a huge impression on me. She taught me how to do many things. A few never quite stuck, and some I did for a while and let drop. Knitting and crocheting were a couple of those. Knitting was a craft I'd pick up in the winter when I had nothing else to do, so it was very much an on-again-off-again kind of thing. I have knit a sweater, and a pair of socks; neither of which I am proud of today, but they were learning experiences.
Lately though, it seems to have gripped me again, and this time is refusing to let go.
I have knit preemie hats and newborn hats. I have knit a bootie (whose mate will get finished), three scarves and swatches. I hear you non-knitters asking "What's a swatch?" It's a piece of knitting of no determined dimension (other than small) that allows one to get gauge and see if they like the stitch being used. For example, a basketweave stitch looks different in chunky yarn than in baby weight yarn. The drape is different and it feels different. I was thrilled to be able to offer my mother a swatch in a stitch she had not yet knitted, and in a yarn she wanted to see that I had gotten on sale.

Knitting is bringing me back to my mother. Back to the values she tried to teach me. I am knitting preemie things to send up north to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I am knitting for the less fortunate here in my own town of Cambridge. I am knitting to learn, to share and so that I may do something productive for my neighbours. I can't change global warming, but I can make my fellow man a little warmer.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Evolve & Change

I don't think of myself as an extremist. I try not to shout "the end is coming" from the rooftops.
But I do believe it's coming. Not the end of the owrld, but the end of our age of convenience, luxury and laziness.
The end of taking a hummer to the grocery store and spending more on gas than we do on food for our families. The end of sports figures who earn in one year what I will not see in ten; to play a game. A game.
There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people playing baseball who get paid enormous amounts of play a game. Same with football and basketball. Take a guess at what Michael Jordan earned in his prime.
$31.3 million. That's before his $47 million in endorsements.
I see the end of that kind of income for a basketball player. Even a really good one.

The price of gas being what it is, we have already seen a huge number of people start to examine the way they get around. There are a growing number of people who have no choice but to use public transportation because they cannot afford a vehicle. The maintenence, insurance, and repairs are all more than the monthly income; and that is BEFORE the gas is pumped into it!

There are folks who see the way the world is "progressing". Some of us are learning how to be a little more self-reliant. We're learning how to make our own bread so that when it costs more than is reasonable, we have an option. We're learning how to make jam so that we no longer need to run to the grocery store across town where it is cheapest. We are re-learning the fine art of family fun night, we are teaching ourselves the crafts that may one day prove useful. Why pay $20.00 for a scarf when you can knit one for a $10.00 investment in needles and yarn? (Remember, those needles will pay for themselves again with the next project.) Some of us are learning how to grow lettuce, carrots and radishes in an apartment so we are not forced to pay $10 for produce from the grocery store the next time we want a salad.
Some of us have gone even further and are learning how to survive.

How to build a fire and keep it going. How to build our own homes. How to grow fruits and veggies that we can put by and ensure our families will eat during the winter. Some are even learning how to raise chickens so they have fresh eggs. Some are learning how to build with what nature gives them, like trees and stone. We are learning how to install solar panels so that our families experience little discomfort when the power goes out as it did on August 14th, 2003. I can tell you that many of my neighbours had no way of cooking their dinner that night, and many were lured to my patio by the smelling of cooking bacon. More than a few were shocked to see me happily making bacon, eggs and toast for dinner! An investment in a barbeque two years before and cast iron pans changed our menu possibilites dramatically. Because I knew that anything can happen.

Our world might not end anytime soon, but I do know that it's changing. I see it in our weather patterns, our rising cost of living, and the many ways we are dependent on someone else to provide our food.
It's time to change that while we still can.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Birthing A Character

It occured to me while in the shower that writing is very much like giving birth and raising a child.
A writer gives birth to characters by deciding what they will look like, how they will respond to certain situations, their likes and dislikes, their habits (good and bad) and where they will live. As the story progresses, the characters define themselves by interactions with others.
Just like my sons.
The characters define their personalities, figure out what kind of morals they have and how they will be remembered; all by responding to stimuli and interacting with others.
Just like our kids.
Writing a novel stays with you, for better or worse; just like children. You have to decide how to live with your creation once it's published and has an ISBN. Sometimes you aren't so proud of a certain passage, other times you hang on to a section that you can barely believe came from you. Some folks want to keep going; create these new lives again and again.
Sounds a lot like parenthood to me.

I've been giving thought to reworking a couple of old stories, tweaking and adding on; renovating them I suppose. I've been checking out markets while I do this, and one of my favourites, I see, does not take submissions widely available on the web. Hmm. Well, I can understand that. As a reader, I don't want leftovers. I want something new and fresh.
So if I want to submit to that market, I need something with a strong female protagonist. No problem there, I write those anyway. If I were an editor, I would want to read a piece that's going to change the way I think about my day. A piece that makes me stop and FEEL something.
Okay, strong female lead.
A story that makes a difference.
And then I realize, I don't have a single piece that fits that bill that has NOT been seen before.

Back to the drawing board, or in this case, the keyboard.

I owe, I owe, so it's off to work I go.
More later.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The holidays are finally over. Whew! Not good ones this time. They were okay, I suppose, but I've had better. Lots of stress at home this time. Lots of customers in the store who were less than jolly, and I guess it rubbed off on me. So, yeah, I'm glad to have the holidays over with. I worked tons. Every premium paid day I could work; I did. So I'm exhausted.
But enough about that. the last couple of months have been...interesting. We discovered my eldest son has an allergy to shellfish. Thank the Goddess he had only a slight reaction consisting of hives. It was scary, let me tell you. Then we discovered I have asthma. After three different long-term treatments, we finally found one that I don't have a reaction to. One of them gave me all kinds of side effects...everything but the erectile difficulty and blue lips! One of them made me moody and forgetful...not fun. Even my regular customers at the store were wondering what was going on. But now everything seems good. Of course, it's not been cold, so it's a little hard to know for sure. All of this was put in perspective for me yesterday. An elderly customer came in with a question about the lottery, and my manager talked to her for a few minutes. About two hours later she came back and asked me if she had lost her winning $10 ticket in our store. So my boss came out of the office and talked to the lady. All of a sudden, the customer starts to cry. "It'll be okay." my boss assured her while she patted the elderly lady's arm. "No, it won't. My son is dying." our customer sobbed.


What do you say to that?

So, yeah, it put my day in perspective.

Last night, I was talking to a friend on the phone, and among other topics, she suggested I look into writing short stories since I don't have the time I used to write with. Anthologies, she suggested, or perhaps a serial tale.
Hmm. So I've been looking into that. But of course, one needs to have a short story first, right? So now I'm looking at a couple of my older pieces that could use a good dusting and polishing.
I'll let you know what happens.

In the meantime, visit my website and read some of the writing of my talented friends and peers.