I really have had it up to here!  Didn’t you get the memo that it is no longer snow season, and that it is now biking season?  I carefully checked the weather report that said flurries on Saturday, good on Sunday, and planned for a bike ride on Sunday accordingly.  There were a few, scattered, wouldn’t have bothered me flurries on Saturday, that is true.  But on Sunday morning I woke up to this:

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Aye Caramba!  No biking, not even any running with that much snow.  And my poor Auntie with her crutches trying to get around on the ice!  Not good at all.  So instead I stayed home, rode my bike in my living room, cleaned, and did a bunch of knitting.  I know, life of the party me.  However instead of starting a brand new project, I actually pulled out a twin set I started to make over 1.5 years ago, ran into serious problems, and put away.  That is a long time out!  I worked on it yesterday, and had a major break-through over breakfast this morning.  More on that later in the week.  Okay, I did start something new, but its small and I’ve already got 1/4 of it done, so that doesn’t really count now does it? 

I have desperately been looking for a “sign of spring” to put on the blog so that I can join all the cool kids as well.  Aside from maybe putting up a photo of the cut flowers flown in via airplane displayed enchantingly at the farmers’ market, this is all I could find:

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The ice is melting on the river leaving just icebergs behind.  Yup, that’s it.  Nothing green, nothing robinish, nothing like a tiny crocus coming up.  However, I do get to keep wearing the two winter sweaters I just finished a bit longer.  But come on, I had to wear the big parka again this morning!  C’est suffit!  That’s enough!  And for those of you that visited southern Utah this weekend, I’m not talking to you until I see a flower, or a green sprig of grass. 

My Red Bell

March 28, 2008

Is now in the category of my favorite things. 

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Ting-ting-ting, out of my way!  Yeah you lady, walking on one side of the path with your dogs on the other, and the leash strung out in between.  Right or left, you decide!  And don’t yell at me and tell me to ring a bell, I have been ringing the red bell, you just couldn’t hear it over your music!  Ting-ting-ting!!  And the lady that I scared last night when I dinged her, and then rode by yelling “Surprise” after she jumped, I’m sorry about that.  A case of high spirits I’m afraid.  And when I threatened to run over the three executives in their fancy suits as they jay-walked, sorry about that as well.  I just get really happy when I’m riding my bike.  Bikes bring out joy in other people as well, most notably my friend Geeg in Salt Lake.  My favorite memory of her, which I will always treasure is of her blazing down a hill, screaming at the top of her lungs “I love my bike, I love riding my bike”.  It was pure, undiluted, distilled joy. 

This summer my goal is to ride my bike to work every day I can.  If I don’t do this, because I’m lazy, or whatever other excuse I may come up with, please call me out on it.  These first few weeks I’m easing into it slowly, and don’t have to ride every day, cause my old bones are just too tired.  The ride takes about 40 minutes, which is approximately the same amount of time I’d spend on the bus.  I ride almost completely on bike trails, and most excitingly, I go through the zoo!  I get to say “Good morning” to the buffalo, deer, and moose, whose pens line the bike path.  I could tell you I’m doing this to save the planet, but the reasons are much more selfish:

1) Parking in downtown Calgary costs approximately $500 a month.  Plus all the traffic as everyone tries to get to the office at 8 am together.  Plus the cost of gas, and having your car not start at night due to -40 oC weather.

2) Taking the bus is the only option, but costs $4.20 a day.  When I ride my bike I get to write $4.20 in the plus side of my expenses, and can save up for something pretty.  So each month I can tally that up and buy something frivolous! 

3) The bus can be a bit of a downer, with lots of grumpy people, and sometimes smelly ones.  On my bike I get to go my own pace, don’t have to wait around, and only smell myself, and of course I smell like roses everyday!

4) The butt, she is big.  Hopefully in a few weeks it will be smaller.  Plus I’m on a race team now, and this could be called “training” if I really stretch the definition. 

Its been a bit nippy in the morning, and still a few snowflakes here and there.  But today the sun is shining, and last night I did beat that snowstorm home by 1/2 hour! 

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

I’m on a Roll…

March 27, 2008

And I”m feeling rather good with myself!  Without further ado, may I present my collarbones, which as Mrs. Chuky commented, ain’t seen the light of day since last year sometime:

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That is quite the sly little smile now isn’t it?  I’m also sporting “I rode my bike to work today” hair, which is just darling.  Ick!  And I did have to wear a scarf around my cold neck and collarbones most of the day, but I still think they liked the little breather.  This is the Gathered Pullover from Interweave Knits 2007.  I used 4 skeins of Cascade 220, in Heathered Green.  That means the total cost was under $30!  I made the small size, but got an extra stitch in gauge over 4 inches, which made it more like a 34″ with some ease in circumference.  The only other modification I made was to crochet chain across the back of the neck to bring it together a little bit more, as believe it or not the neck was wider at one point.  I originally went looking for the Brown Sheep Sport, but the store did not have it so I substituted the Cascade.  I still can’t decide if it was the right decision, I think I would have preferred the recommended yarn, and don’t think I’ll be going back to Cascade again.  However it did make a nice defined cable detail:

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Overall however, this sweater knits up quick, as it is in the round until you hit the neck split, and the sleeves are in the round until you make the cap.  I seriously made a sleeve in one day, plus went shopping, went on a bike ride, patted the cats, you get the idea. 

Two sweaters done (except for buttons), you know what that means?  YARN CRAWL!!! WOO HOO!!!

Auntie S Cometh!

March 26, 2008

Yes, Auntie Sis moving back to Calgary from her island paradise. Now doesn’t that seem backwards to you?  Wouldn’t that make a good novel huh?  Auntie S knows how to knit, its genetic with us, but she doesn’t.  She has volunteered to be the honourary modeler of knitted goods, and photo taker, which means no more funny photos taken by yours truly in her office, which will be nice for a change.  This also marks the first time in 11 years that I’ve lived in the same city as a family member, which I’m really looking forward to!  Welcome Auntie S! 

My definition of when a new place feels like home is when you meet people you know on the street.  Normally it takes a year or two for this to happen, and I can’t remember it ever happening in Boston.  It used to happen in Singapore believe it or not.  But in less than 6 months its happening in Calgary, I ran into a lady from the knitting group on the train.  I’ve also run into people from the skating club.  And now I’ve gone and joined a biking club as well, and gotten myself on a biking team.  As long as I can keep myself off the injured list (no comments needed there Mum) this should be a great summer.  And when my brother arrives in the summer, he’d better work hard to keep up with me and my bike! 

And even without buttons, I’m having a hard time taking it off, its so warm, soft, and comfy.

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I think this cardigan is going to be worn mostly with the middle three buttons (wherever they are!) done up, because its just too warm to wear any other way.  The yarn is Custom Woolen Mills, Prairie Wool from Alberta.  I found it at The Knitting Room in Calgary.  If nothing else I can highly recommend the cream, as it is so soft, and believe it or not, does not itch my skin!  I have 2 skeins left over and plan on making some hats and mitts.  All together the sweater probably cost $60, and I have a lot extra.  Presenting the yoke:

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The colours blend very harmoniously (in my humble opinion), but at the same time the patterns don’t really “pop” the way they would if I had used more contrasting yarn.  From the bottom we start with a maple leaf:

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And on top of that we have “knitting water”, my personal favorite:

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On top of that are some random motifs and some “flechettes”.  I don’t quite know why I’m calling them that, I just feel like it I guess.  I learned where the Percentage system does not apply to me.  I seem to have slightly wider shoulders than “normal”, of I just have a smaller chest than my shoulders, whichever.  So I must remember to make the arms wider, in order to add more to the shoulder circumference.  But that is why knitting is like life, sometimes you don’t really know these things until you try them.  And in life, sometimes you need to try a big adventure like moving to another country, because you aren’t going to know until you try.  And whether it works out or not, at least you tried.  And its good to come home. 

A huge shout out to Jeffrey Buttle, the super cute Men’s Figure Skating World Champion.  Any athlete that cries during the National Anthem is a favorite of mine. 

Happy Birthday to D.O.D.

March 24, 2008

Who is somewhere in his 60’s today.  Hey, if you get to forget how old I am, I get to forget how old you are!  I’ve been thinking about writing my Dad for a little while now, so I thought today I’d tell you a bit about what an amazing man he is, and then write him a birthday wish.

My Dad was born in England, and then came over with his family after the war.  Things were pretty bleak in England after the war for a long time, Dad was 7 and had his first taste of ice cream on the ship with his Father.  My father was a policeman for 35 years, which has a way of changing people, but I think Dad came through it okay.  He’s a crack shot, and liked to try teaching us how to use a night stick to break people’s knees, and loved to give me advice if I ever got attacked that was usually “Kick em in the balls right away!”.  Favorite memories growing up involve many things, a little snapshot that comes to mind is my Mum giving us a lecture about behaving at the dinner table, then looking over at Dad who had two carrots shoved up his nose.  Mum was not impressed.  Ha!  Dad retired in 1994, and finally went back to his first love that he had to give up when he was 19, painting.  The family couldn’t afford to send Dad to art school, so he became a policeman instead. Not only a painter, but a creative, inspired, wonderful painter!  Where do all these ideas, these visions come from?  It is so interesting to not only see the paintings, but to hear the story, or muse behind them, what Dad is trying to show and convey.  In many paintings he tries to show motion, or a single figure from different angles, as it spins.  The subjects are wide and diverse, and colourful.  Just a heads up however, Dad does not sell his paintings, just gives them away when he wants to, and supports some charities through auctions etc.  I’m lucky enough to have a few, as is my brother.  I’m also lucky enough that my Dad has painted me twice.  This is my painting, which Dad did a few years ago called “Anne in Utah”.  It is my painting, so I feel I may put a photo up here, but please, no copying.

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This painting represents me living in a different country, in Utah, where I was always separate and different than those around me.  This is because I was a Canadian living in a foreign country, where things seem the same, but there are so many differences, and I never really fit there.  My head is bowed, as I’m not happy, as I’m so isolated.  But you see, Dad painted this about a year before I really figured this out for myself.  Which leads to:

Dear Dad,

I love the paintings that you have made of me.  I remain amazed that you made a picture that captured what I didn’t even know I was feeling at the time.  The second painting you made of me, of me surrounded by DNA, is also very powerful for me, as you are capturing a feeling, an emotion that I cannot even express into words, but is a deep question about myself and what motivates my actions that I don’t understand quite yet.  I have a problem looking at that painting without being overwhelmed by emotion, and have had many discussions with friends trying to figure out some fundamental questions raised:  What have I moved around so much?  Are some of my major life decisions, that I have made by “instinct” really a product of DNA, of our genetics of which we share so many in common?  I think you may be upset as you don’t think I like the painting, but I think you should look at it as an extreme compliment that you have elicited extreme emotion in your audience, which is very important.  Some day, when I figure out more about what motivates me, or as I get older and settle down more, I would love to have that painting in my house, but now it makes me upset.  Can you understand? 

Your painting has also taught me something else that I think is priceless.  We go through our teenage years thinking our parents don’t understand us, and then we move away, and see each other rarely.  In our case it is only a few times a year.  I think we just assume that our parents only know superficial things about us, and don’t get “us” or know what is going on.  And out of politeness we don’t talk about it, (we are English after all), and we never know.  But then our parents make a picture, that demonstrates without words that they know us, they understand us, and they know what is going on with us when we don’t even know ourselves.  And that Daddy-o is a priceless gift for which I thank you.  Oh, and I hope you get the card and the book I sent you!  Tee Hee!

Love Anne

Here we are, halfway between the longest and shortest days of the year.  Its bright and sunny here in Calgary, but there still have not been any sightings of green things, and there are still resilient piles of snow lying around.  My boss was a dear to remind me not to get used to this nice weather, as its going to snow at least a few more times.  Sigh.  Speaking of which, I was considering changing my tag line from “Knitting to Survive the Winter in Calgary” to something more spring-like.  Then I got told yesterday that this winter, which felt bloody cold to me, was actually mild.  Mild!  Can you believe it?  So the tag line stays, cause if I’m going to survive something other than a “mild” winter I need to work all summer long.  Knee high socks, sweaters, hats, scarves, fuzzy underwear, I’ve got to get started now! 

Yesterday I came to work with my camera in my pocket intending to take photos of the cute chicks, but they must have gone to the happy farm in the countryside.  Instead I snapped a few shots of things I pass by every day that I like.  First off is this lovely spring sweater in the Holt Renfrew window:

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As a fan of “Anne of Green Gables” I have a soft spot for puffed sleeves, but I particularly like the little half belt that is sewn onto each side.  You can just pull the cardigan closed, and belt it, so cute.  Oh, and I guess big prints from the 60’s and 70’s are in now.  I still have not gone inside Holt Renfrew, as I’m sure I don’t pass their minimum income level to buy the smallest item.  But I can always make copies of their sweaters now can’t I?

Downtown Calgary has been home to an independent book shop, but no more, its going to close.  This is sad as its a beautiful store, with a huge selection of knitting books.  In their window they have a sign that reads:

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And every day I think “Yes, I want to go to story time!  Why do I have to work every day, why can’t I just go and get a lovely story read to me?”.  But being the good worker I continue on my trudge into the office.  Sigh.

I would also like to mention that for the first time in 7 years, I get Good Friday off!  Yippee!  When I lived in Boston the first holiday would not have been until April, when we got Patriots Day off.  Something about the Revolution, I would ask people and no one really knows what it is for.  In Salt Lake the first holiday would not have been until Memorial Day in May.  That is a long stretch from January.  Here in Alberta they are trying to give us a long weekend each month, which is a policy I wholeheartedly support.  So for my American friends, na na na na booo booo I get Friday off!!!  I’m planning a lovely bike ride, and that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.  Maybe Farmer’s Market on Saturday, knitting in the afternoon, more biking, maybe some running.  Life is good!

Finishing EPS

March 19, 2008

It is getting there!  I think that next week is going to be huge in terms of finishing projects that I’ve been working on for awhile now.  Perhaps three sweaters!  (Baby sweaters are sweaters too you know!).  Last weekend I gathered my courage, and started the finishing touches of the EPS.  I got out my Alice Starmore book “The Celtic Collection” read over her directions on how to finish the steek and began.  She says to backstitch on either side of the steek, and I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant.  I was at home, it was Saturday night, with no Internet access, so I plunged on and did my best.  So far it has turned out okay, I hand stitched around the last column of stitches on either side of the steek.  My sewing machine is in Salt Lake, so I was left with hand stitching.  She recommends handstitching anyways to prevent altering the knitted material, and knowing how I sew, its a distinct possibility!  Besides, all those ladies way back when on those little islands never had sewing machines.  Okay, deep breath, get ready, here I go.  (In case you were wondering, no alcohol was consumed to give false courage).

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Cut!

I then turned each edge under, cut the steek further so that only two columns of stitches were on each side (I only did a few inches at a time, just so it wouldn’t unravel before I got to the sewing bit).  I then sewed the edge down to the sweater going up, and then stitched back down again to make a cross stitch.  On the way down you are only supposed to be worried about covering the edges, not attaching it down to the sweater anymore.

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The side on the left is complete, and I’m working on the right side there.  It turned out okay, if a bit wonky.  I got the edges wet and pulled them straight so that it was a neater edge.  I then picked up the stitches around the neck and completed a 3″ neck edge.  This may sound like a lot, but it is the same amount of ribbing as on the bottom edges, and still does not go very far up my neck (I tried it on as I went to verify that 3 inches wasn’t too much).  I like to have a nice warm neck, so for me it works.  I then picked up the button band edge, and am currently knitting a 3 inch band. 

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Just over an inch accomplished there as of breakfast this morning.  I can’t tell if it is going to be too “ripply” or just right, I think I’ll finish it, cast off, and maybe try it again, picking up fewer stitches this time.  Perhaps it will be just right!  So this weekend I’m shopping for buttons, and still haven’t decided what to go for.  Blue ones?  Cream ones to blend?  Hmmmmm….  Plus I’ll need five buttons for my BSJ, but that will be easy as yellow and orange ducks will probably fit the bill to a T.  I like to take the sweaters to the store and hold all the buttons up next to them until I find oue that “goes”. 

In other news, of particular concern to certain Mums and Aunties, Dancing with the Stars started Monday night.  I wonder if Kristie Yamaguchi will be able to pull it off.  She should, as she used to be a pair before she was a single skater.  Let the drama begin!  At least I can’t be asked to call and vote since I don’t live in the States anymore!

Spring Sheep Shearing

March 18, 2008

As a result of the wonder that is Ravelry, we got invited to a sheep shearing event taking place last weekend, got directions and off we went.  We woke up to fairly cold, snowy conditions on Saturday morning, but we made the drive just outside of town anyways, and had a very good time until we got cold.  The little farm was incredibly cute, and had a  multitude of animals in addition to sheep, goats, llamas, afghan hounds, and other assorted four legged beasts.  But we’re here to talk about sheeps! 

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The farm has Icelandic, and Shetland sheep.  There may have been some other varieties that Mrs. T. mentioned, but I don’t remember.  I do know she pointed out the orange Shetland, which you can see in the photo (if I get this stuff wrong, I apologize).   There were sheep that couldn’t see:

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Sheep with purty eyes:

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And, brace yourself, cashmere goats who are reportedly the princesses of the farm.  We got to watch them jump effortlessly over fences like they were nuting!

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And cutest of all: a Icelandic sheep dog who was so adorable I wanted to steal him away!

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After oohing and aahing over the animals we got down to business, you know, cause we were helping.  Mrs. T., I found out later when I went to the knitting group in town, is the only lady shearer in Alberta.  That is very cool, and let me tell you she heaves those little sheep around like sacks of 50 lb potato bags.  First she did Eliza, since she insisted on head butting all her other sheep friends:

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Can you believe that all this came off of one little itty bitty sheep, and that it was 2.2 lbs of fleece?

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Next up was a lovely brown/black sheep, over whose fleece two women almost came to blows over.  They settled the matter amicably, whew!  This little black sheep was next, it was her first time being shorn and she wasn’t too happy.  But what a pretty black colour underneath the outer coat which was slightly sun bleached:

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As it was her first shearing, it is also the best fleece she will ever produce. I have been alternating about thinking that it is very good to not only to have met the sheep whose fleece you have, but you also watched the shearing, and helped weigh and dress the fleece.  But it is also a huge responsibility, as you can’t really make an ugly something or other from a cute little sheep when it is her first and best fleece.  That is a lot of pressure.  But perhaps I over-analyze. 

In other news, I’m busy knitting button bands on EPS, which is very exciting!

Dear Friends and Family,

Wish you could have come with me, did I ever have a good time!  This was the furthest north I’ve ever been, and the air sure was clear and crisp!  I was amazed when I got on the plane with all my new friends in Saskatoon, it was the first time I ever did not show ID or go through any security check whatsoever.  After the two hour flight north, we went directly to work since everyone does 12 hour shifts from 7-7 pm.  But I didn’t mind, I was raring to go!  The views were wonderful, look at all that white stuff:

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Miles and miles of snow, trees, and small depressions that for one month a year are filled with non-frozen water.  How pretty.  The weather was a balmy -20oC, which we all have to admit is much better than the -40oC that is the norm up here.  Plus the snow wasn’t too bad, and the cloud ceiling was high enough on Friday for the plane to take off.  The planes don’t have a lot of “modern” equipment, so they have to take off and land by sight, which means if you can’t see the run-way, no planes!  They tell me it was really lucky that my plane got off on time.  Good thing I love snow in March, cause there is so much they use this to plow the parking lot:

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I didn’t want to take too many vacation pics of the mine, you know due to security.  But here is the sneak peak of the top of the mine shaft which extends a huge amount underground.  As someone who is slightly claustrophobic, I cringe every-time I think about this:

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Trust me, there is a lot going on under the ground up here!  No wonder, its probably much warmer down there.  The workers come up and work for a week, then go home for a week.  While they are working, they stay in “Man Camps”, since by and large they are all men with the odd woman thrown in for variety.  As there are no towns, or roads even, all the facilities must be built by the company.  This camp was decent, but I wish they had warned me to bring my own towel.  Two people say in each room, and rotate in and out each week.  So some people have made their room a bit more “Homey” shall we say.  My room is usually occupied, but the person was on vacation.  He left up his girlie calendar (her favorite things are hairy men and long walks in the snow) and the Periodic Table of Sexual Positions.  It was very informative. The food was pretty good, as it has to be in order to keep the guys coming back.  They serve up 4 entrees for each meal, with a rocking salad bar.  I realize I am a very strange person, and like things the average person does not, but they had a great broccoli salad.  Since I was testing the water, I did not drink it, I knowse too much! 

I had an almost disaster, but my back-up project saved me!  I had placed my Invino socks onto my NEW Rosewood needles, thinking that way I’d get through security okay.  One of the NEW needles was starting to split a bit on the end, which I could live with, but then another needle split near the middle!  That I could not live with.  I switched over to my other project which was on metal needles, which also got through security without a hiccup, so no worries.  Word to the wise: when a shop only sells Rosewood needles, go to the next on that sells bamboo!  The good news is that my Scottish Kilt Socks are growing a little bit!  I got home safely late Friday, and slept after a very enjoyable vacation, and dreaming of the next one!

For my Dad, who named me:


What Anne Means


You are usually the best at everything … you strive for perfection.You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.You have the classic “Type A” personality.You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.

You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

What’s Your Name’s Hidden Meaning?
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