The End of the Pact

September 30, 2008

Is today.  Much anticipated, and a bit anticlimatic now that it is here, and as of tomorrow, or 12 am tonight I am allowed free rein once again in any yarn store my little heart desires.  I did very well with this pact, and since early spring have only bought yarn at the Olds Fibre Fest, and a limited amount at that.  But here is the thing, and perhaps the best thing of all.  I have no desire to rush out and buy anything.  I am still extremely focused on the projects I have going in house, and can’t wait to get to a few other things that I already have yarn for, that I don’t want to go and buy new stuff that will only sit around until I get to it.  And I think that that is very, very good.  That is not to say that I won’t be picking up anything in the near future, but it does mean that until I finish two sweaters that I have on the go now, I don’t want to jump into any new large projects. 

Oh, but when I finish these two projects I plan on doing an intense study of the Berroco alpaca yarns to make a cardigan from an old Vogue Knitting that will be perfect for the office, maybe in that new red colour they have out.  And then there are a few sweaters I’m dying to make from the new Debbie Bliss magazine…  But all in good time!!

Congratulations to out to Jocea well for the completion of a succesful pact!  I know it hasn’t been easy, but our pocketbooks thank us I’m sure!  Don’t go too crazy in NYC!

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Catching Up!

September 29, 2008

Don’t you hate hotels that don’t have WIFI, or charge you $12.99 a day for it, or they have ethernet and forgot to bring your cable, cause you are used to WIFI, and then you are too busy smoozing it up at the conference to even have time to check e-mail, much less communicate your exciting adventures to your friends and family?  A quick sum-up is that I finished one sock, and started on the next in the car, read one chapter of my book I’m supposed to have been done already for my exam next week, and didn’t take many photos.  Conferences always tire me out terribly with all the standing around and being nice to everyone.  I did however get to spend an evening working the charity booth of Water for People.  This charity was started by water professionals, and completely supported by them.  They choose specific water projects in needy places and donate money, knowledge, and time.  We raised money for a community in India, and I had a great time encouraging people to get involved, buy tickets, and bid on the silent auction items. 

Fall is progressing here in Alberta, and it is beautiful with cold nights just above freezing, and warm days.  The trees are yellow, and the grasslands are a beautiful golden colour rich with various hues.  The weekend before last saw me up in the mountains for a looong bike ride up two good hills.  I made it up the first one, and was pointed out the next hill by my faithful companions:

Waay over there.  But I made it, and passed a hiking group filled with many people who appeared to be senior citizens.  Did you hear that?  Yup, I passed them!!  Woohoo!  If they were moving at a crawl, I was going at a crawl plus 1, which is all that matters isn’t it?  And the view from the top, once my heart found its way back into my chest, was divine!

This weekend saw me attend a friends Bellydancing Gala in Red Deer, which was a hoot.  She is always the best dancer, and gets to wear lots of sparkly costumes.  Unfortunately there was some drama among the dancers, and I’m thinking they should have a bellydance off to decide who’s right, but somehow I don’t think they will like that suggestion!  I got to hang out with the kids, 5 and 3.  They are adorable, adorable times a million.  Sunday morning we watched the Food Channel (that’s right they love cooking shows) and chatted about “stuff”.  A political attack ad came on which attacked (hence the name eh?) the current Prime Minister.  I then explained “voting”, “Prime Minister” and “You don’t have to worry about it until you are 18” to a five year old.  This kid is really cool however, as he listens closely to what you are saying and seems to digest it.  Try explaining that just because the other guy says the PM is a bad guy, doesn’t necessarily mean he is, because its just the other guys opinion and he’s trying to win the election.  Whew.  We moved onto “You are a vegetarian and we’re omnivores” a much safer subject.

All for now, tons of stuff to show you this week however, I’ve been on a hat knitting kick with almost two done now in addition to the Brudha hat!  Then I believe I’ll become a mitten factory…

Off to RegIna…

September 22, 2008

Rhymes with v*g*n*!  Not Regeena!!  After a very exciting weekend (post to follow sometime later as I forgot my camera at home today oops) I am busy packing up for an all expense paid 3 day vacation in Regina, in the lovely province of Saskatchewan.  Myself and two co-workers are driving out, six hours each way, so I have packed an activity package for myself containing study material, 2 pairs of soon to be socks, and my Blue Hoodie.  That should do me!!  I’m also planning on starting a new book as well, Anna Karenina. 

I am attending a trade show/conference for water and wastewater, which I really enjoy.  I love learning about water technology, and even some of the wastewater stuff.  I love getting out and meeting people in the profession, seeing old friends, making new ones, chatting about the business and getting face time with people who I talk to on the phone.  Since I went to my first conference in San Francisco years ago I’ve always had a good time, especially the big international shows.  At my last company in Utah it was de rigeur to hate trade shows, because, gasp, you had to talk to strangers!  Now I’ve had some great conversations with strangers, the one that stands out most in my mind was chatting for awhile with a member of a commune in Montana.  He was not Mennonite, not Quaker, not Mormon, but another type of religion that I can never remember.  He wore hand made black clothing, but drove a truck, talked on a cell phone, and drank beer.  They were businessmen after all!  However to my old co-workers talking to strangers was bad, and doubly bad in my case I’m afraid.  Now most of the people I talk to at these things are men (unfortunate side effect of the mostly engineer population), and married.  They saw me chatting with these guys as “husband hunting” or “husband stealing” as these guys were married, and viewed it with great suspicion, and disapproval.  Of course I never saw it that way, as I’m simply trying to build relationships with clients, customers, peers, friends, and to date have stolen 0 husbands in 10 years of “trying”.  Maybe I just wasn’t doing it right huh? 

I’m also looking forward to meeting a new co-worker from Saskatchewan for the first time, who is super special as she has already spun some yarn for me.  We are now calling her boss “super smart” as he hired a knitter, as is my boss, and are asking da bosses to ask prospective employees if they knit.  Which my boss did actually, and flabbergasted the interviewee.  Tee Hee!! 

So posting may be erratic this week, but here is a little teaser from the weekend:

Now I’m not going to say I rode up both of the two huge climbs, but I will say I made it to the top.  And that’s what counts isn’t it…  And I almost landed an axle on Sunday!  Progress….

Batten Down the Hatches…

September 19, 2008

This week has certainly been a bad one for financial news.  With all the scary articles about financial institutions going under, recessions happening but maybe not happening, and the springing up of tent cities either aimlessly or by design for homeless people, it makes one want to batten down the hatches and stay home.  And be very thankful for that home.  In Canada the mortgage crisis has not hit as hard as not many of the “too good to be true” mortgages were given out.  When I explain some of the no money down, reverse interest, and other programs used in the States to fellow Canadians they are gobsmacked.  Our culture is much more of the put 20% down, buy small and work your way up to the house of your dreams.  That is not to say that in a city like Calgary, where houses are so expensive (average price is still around $400k) people are not overextended.  And the homeless population is being estimated at around 4000 people, many of whom are living in the rough outdoors.  During a recent survey they found a 5 year old child, and a pregnant woman living by the river.  I am very thankful that I can afford a house, and that I feel reasonably secure that I’ll weather this storm.  Of course when I read those bad news articles I do find myself thinking “okay, if I lose my job I’ll rent out the two extra bedrooms, fix up the basement for someone, get some sort of job, and I’ll be okay”.  I also comfort myself that people will always need water and wastewater treatment systems, especially the latter!  And, since I’m back in Canada I am very comforted to know that if I do lose my job I don’t have to leave the country within 35 days as I would have if I was still living in the US. 

My house is very cosy, and hopefully warm this winter.  I still haven’t turned the furnace on, and hope to put that off as long as possible.  On the to do list this weekend however is to install a programmable thermostat, which is wonderful if you don’t have one.  I can keep the house cool at night (55oF is what I would set it in Salt Lake City) and have the furnace come on ten minutes before your alarm goes off.  Wonderful!!  As the winter hibernation is setting in, I can’t wait to spend the long hours of darkness curled up with knitting or a book under an afghan made by my Grandmother, with warm wool socks and a sweater.  And eventually I’ll get around to de-pinking the place, its a bit nausea inducing! 

Note: Spray bottle to keeps the evil kitties off duh counter!  Have a great weekend!

FO: Anais Tank

September 18, 2008

The Anaistank by Norah Gaughan, from Berrocco Patterns Volume 1 is a very quick knit, and quite lovely in my opinion.  The center and sleeve motifs appear complicated, but are easy peasy, and a bit like performing magic.  I wasn’t able to find this pattern booklet locally as it is a bit older now, but I did order it on-line.  The lovely Mrs. Chuky was kind enough to give me the Ultra Alpaca Light, which is a delightful yarn and one I will be using again in a planned fall cardigan.  This is a tank that needed an extra purchase of a shirt to wear under it, which made the process of finishing, taking photos, and blogging into an extended one!  I did find the tank a bit too wide for me at the waist, and a tiny bit too short for my taste.  Now I did measure myself as I went along, and it seemed like it would be long enough, but live and learn huh?

After consulting the fashion police the ensemble was approved, and I’ll be exhibiting it tomorrow at work!  Its been a bit hot this week for the alpaca and long sleeves combo!  (Except in my ice box of an office that is).  Some more details, from the front and side:

Now I ask you, if Piper did not want to be included in the photoshoot, why did she jump up on the divider?  Hmmmm?

Piper is not Amused!

Believe it or not, I’m down to two projects, a resurrected sweater, and a new sock for to travel with.  I started this sweater last year after scoring a bunch of Silky Wool at 40% off, then put it down to concentrate on the Christmas blanket present, and recently brought it back out.  I had finished the back last year, and made some unpleasant discoveries:

1) Yarn selection for the pattern was really screwed up!  After much pondering I figured out what I did wrong.  The pattern called for 20 sts in 4 inches, and the ball band said 22, not that far off right?  However the pattern was on 5.5 mm needles, and the ball band was on 4 mm needles.  Whoops.  No wonder it is so screwed up.  However!  The side effect is that the pattern is knitting up a bit like lace, and after going up a size in the pattern to make the sweater wide enough, after blocking the thing lengthened by 2 inches as well.  Which may or may not work with this sweater.  So.  After much measuring, bellyaching, and looking at the ceiling (what I do when I’m thinking) I decided to keep going.  After all, I think its really pretty, and I love the lace effect:

I’ve almost finished the 5″ ribbed section on the front of the sweater, and would like to do a few repeats of the “honeycomb/lace” pattern by next week.  The hard part of this sweater will be making sure the sleeves aren’t too long on my short arms, which means knitting them really short, and expecting the 2 inches of growth.  I may also make it into more of a tunic and not sew the two pieces of ribbing together, as I’m worried about it being too tight across my behind.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that all will work out however!

I have discovered the most amazing new thing this week called “Going To Bed Early”.  Remember that, I bet your Mum told you about it.  For some reason since Sunday I’ve been “Going to Bed Early” instead of my usual 11 pm, its been way before 10 pm.  As I think back, I believe the last time I accomplished this feat was back in the spring.  Hmmmm, when the sun used to go down before 11 pm if I remember correctly.  I am therefore wondering if my new discovery is a result of our shortening days, and the approaching hibernation that is winter.  A side effect of “Going to Bed Early” is that you wake up before your alarm, not after you have already pushed the snooze 3 times and you don’t have time for “Breakfast” anymore.  You are bright and chipper at work, and unbearably perky.  I know, my co-workers are wishing the old grumpy morning Anne would come back as well!  Traa laa laa!!

 

A little while ago the lovely (and apparently lying about her age, cause she isn’t much out of her thirties) Cherylgave me an “I love your blog” award.  I thought that was very nice, and it made my day.  Cause the week after that wasn’t a very happy one, nor was that weekend.  Now there are a number of blogs that I read, and some I particularly like which are also very popular in knitting blogland.  Every morning I read Mrs. Zeneedle first, cause it is a good way to start the day.  But for the four blogs that I chose I decided to go with particular ones that are Canadian, and that I enjoy, and look forward to reading whenever they post. 

1) The Bog Blog of The Tundra has become a particular favorite.  At first because of her beautiful photos of Eastern flowers, and her knowledge of them, and now for her lovely photos from where she is teaching in the North West Territories.  And I can’t wait to see her photos of the Northern Lights, I’m on the edge of my seat!  And its snowing up there already!  Brrr!

2) Meli-Melo is a friend here in Calgary, and the mother of internet superstar Moira.  I know there are cute babies out there, but this one is da cutest!!  Plus Meli’s interesting musings, thoughts, mini-essays, and photos of Uglies.  Always enjoyable!

3) Joce.Blogs. is an ever changing, always hilarious or touching, extremely energetic, lady here in Calgary that writes about life in all its forms.  Her Flickr photos are famous, and extremely good in my humble opinion.  Every day I tune in to see what the latest is!  Joce is the Queen of single sockdom, cause why have two when you can knit another pattern!  People pay a lot of money for mismatched socks ya know!  And when you signed yourself as Jossip Girl, that made me laugh a long time!!!

4) A new obsession lately is Knitting on Impulse, by a lady who lives in Whistler British Columbia.  Every Friday I wait in anticipation for the colourway of the week.  Last week was really good, but it sold out fast!!  As soon as the yarn diet is over (two more week!!) I’m all over that place I tell ya!  Old Growth sock yarn here I come.  And pretty please, more “Returning to Earth”.  That one was really good too! 

 

As Cheryl said, here are da rules:

The rules: 
[I’m not going to be a stickler for the rules – my award winners don’t have to play along if they don’t want to.]

1. Post this award on your blog. (Do save the photo image to your own site, please)
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least 4 other bloggers, and add their links as well.
4. leave a comment at the new recipients’ blogs, so they can pass it on.

 

That’s right, its time to get out the tiny skirts, squeeze your feet back into your tight skates, and work on your finger calluses!  Every year I develop calluses on my baby fingers, and various other ones as I struggle to get the skates done up tight enough.  The skates squeeze my leg muscles back up from my ankles, and various other strange things happen to my feet.  As my new skates still are not broken in very well, there is still pain involved in this process, but the invention of new gel pads I can put around my ankles helps immensely. 

This year I plan on going twice a week to two different arenas, so I hope to make more progress.  I was however very pleased yesterday that I don’t seem to have gone too far backwards in my skating from last year.  There is a huge difference to overcome 3 months off, as opposed to 15 years!!  A lot of skating is about developing muscle memory, training your arms, legs, hips, shoulders, and hands to do the correct thing all together in a split second.  I did some spins, a lot of skating around to try and regain flexibility, and even a few little jumps to try out my legs.  Not bad!  I need to reinstate the axle dry land training however, and scare my neighbours (even more) by jumping around in the back yard.  Less chance of cracking my head open out there (I hope). 

But it is wonderful to go back to the ice.  The crispness in the air, combined with the smell of the ice brings back tendrils of memories going waaaay back into my childhood.  The sound of my blades purring across the ice, and then snicking away as I do cross cuts across the end of the rink.  The rasp of a spin, the dizziness that comes afterwards (getting better, but its a hard skill to regain, the not getting dizzy in a spin).  Expect some more videos this year of skating, some outdoor skating once the weather gets cold enough (nieces be prepared!) and even some skating knits!  I’m ready for the cold (almost).

Honduras’s Next Top Model

September 12, 2008

And now for something completely different, as its time to laugh.

Mum down in Honduras has been working hard on a few projects, and prefers small crochet items that aren’t “too hot”.  I suggested the Mermaid Scarf pattern in the free section of Interweave Knits online, she pulled out some leftover cotton, and viola!  Okay, maybe not Viola!, but “oh my goodness was that pattern hard to follow” Viola!.   But as always she persevered and figured out the durn thing, and my, isn’t it pretty?  Daddio is the lovely model, and suggests pairing the scarf with a plainish t-shirt and your shorts:

But for the more adventurous among you, an alternate look was modeled, with a rakish “around the head” ensemble:

Now that is FIERCE!! 

In other news, a federal election has been called in Canada.  Which means the campaigning is underway, and will continue until the election, are you ready?, in the middle of October!  Yes my dear friends to the South, instead of 4 (or 8 really) years of campaigning, we get 1 month.  Short, sweet, bam its over!  So for the first time in a long time I get to vote, yippee!  I’m out of touch with Canadian politics, so I will try and pay close attention for the 1 month, and make a good decision.  Currently I’m leaning towards the Green Party, simply because I believe environmental issues are the most important thing in our country, and my number one issue.  Sorry, not “family values”, ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES”.  Yup, you heard it here first.  Can you tell there is a reason why I’m ignoring the election to the south?  Well, mini-rant and boasting over.

Have a good weekend ya’ll!

A Long Distance Hug

September 11, 2008

When I started working overseas my Dad would sign off our conversations with “Long Distance Hug”.  And when I was living in Asia, and twelve hours in the future according to him, it would be “Long Distance Hug to the Future”.  When I heard Grandma was getting sick, and I knew how much my Aunt, her daughter, would be going through, I immediately started digging around in the stash for something.  As usual Plan A did not work, but Plan B was adopted and a scarf for Anthea was started.  In my way, I was sitting at the bedside with my Aunt and her daughters, keeping the vigil, knitting with them.  But I did not want to make it a scarf that would remind the new owner of the death of a Mother, but of the life of a Mother.  So I knitted, and thought of my Grandmother, and my memories, and made them good thoughts.  I knitted on the plane beside my brother as we traveled out to Toronto.  I thought good thoughts.  At the luncheon after the funeral, and after the ceremony at the grave, I pulled out my knitting and knitted on the scarf.  My Great Aunt Lil sitting next to me smiled, and told me her stories.  She learned to knit at school in England, before the war.  If you wanted a warm sweater, or socks, or anything, you made it yourself.  During the war they made socks for the soldiers.  She confided that she liked the Canadian men she met at the local skating rink, Englishmen were so stuffy and uptight.  She came to Canada a few years after my Grandmother, and lived with them while establishing herself.  Later on she knitted for her daughters, and granddaughters.  One granddaughter in particular wore out a Mary Maxim sweater with a huge unicorn pattern that I would have loved to have seen.  I think when I was 7 you would not have been able to get me out of a sweater like that! 

I finished the scarf (or deemed that it was long enough to be okay) late that night, and gave it to my Aunt the next day.  I hope that as she wears it she will feel the warmth around her neck, like a long distance hug, from someone who shared the vigil with her, even if from far away. 

Misty Garden pattern from Scarf Style (essentially Feather and Fan lace)

Made from Sleeping Dragon sock yarn in a lovely blend of greens, from deep evergreen to fresh spring leaves.  I used about half the skein, so I may make a twin as the first scarf was lovely to make, and a nice easy pattern.  Very meditative.