See You Next Year!

December 31, 2008

Like many other years, this one has passed by in the blink of an eye.  Unfortunately I feel like I’ve been rushing from thing to thing, never really slowing down to smell the flowers.  But it has been an outstanding year for me.  With the exception of the passing of my Grandmother, all news has been good.  I feel like all things are excellent, bordering on outstanding.  I have learned a few things about myself this year that are interesting, as they go under the heading “Things I can never do again”, and while this is an unfortunate side effect of getting older, this is the first time I’ve made such a list.  That in itself is sobering.  Potato chips, full fat eggnog, big meals, more than two glasses of alcohol, all on the list.  Wearing a tube top, short shorts, and mini skirts have been on the list for awhile.

As for favorite knits of the year, that is also a hard one.  (I’m almost finished my last project of the year, only an inch or so more, piece of cake!)  Of all the great things I’ve made, and worn a lot already, my lace sweater from the summer is the most versatile, and most worn piece.  As soon as it was made I was wearing it a couple of times a week to work, over skirts, dresses, jeans.  I also get a lot of use out of my pink scarf, in the office now, but it was used a lot in the fall before the bottom fell off the thermometer.

sept-15-009

And my favorite part about 2008, while there are so many wonderful memories to think about, one has got to be at the top of the list:

our-jersies

Mr. J. and I bought each other our favorite teams jersey, cause yes, we are that freaking adorable.  He’s my favorite part of 2008.  AND my jersey has a burrito in the back pocket, which is so very cool.  AND I can get the matching argyle arm warmers. 

Happy New Year to everyone!

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The hat made for my skating coach is so nice I had to buy another skein of Noro wool/angora/silk so that I could make myself a Couvercle

pamelas-hat

Once again, a successful photoshoot up in Bankers Hall.

Revelling In Winter

December 29, 2008

Now that it has warmed up enough for one to get outside without bits falling off:

skiing-at-the-nordic-center

Its been a lovely -10 oC lately, which is making all of us run around saying things such as “This isn’t so bad, I think I’ll go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air”.  And some of us went out to Canmore to go cross country skiing for the first time this year.  I would like to thank Mr. Stranger with the Canada jacket for getting into the photograph, he certainly adds a bit of patriotic fervor to it. 

And to further celebrate my first cross country ski of the year I’m currently sacked out on the couch in my pink reindeer fleece pj’s, hoping it doesn’t hurt too much when I wake up tomorrow.  I’m knitting furiously trying to reach my goal of 50% completion of my 2008 knitting list.  I’ve also made a chart for my yarn diet.  I like charts.  Its all ready for red checkmarks when I get stuff done, Yippee!

Jack and Piper survived the vet today, poor little guys.  Piper spent almost the whole time on the table with her face buried between my arm and body.  I guess she felt safer there.  She also fought hard, and apparantly will fight to the death to avoid having her toes clipped.  The next step would have been sedation, at which point I declared “I’ll buy a cheap couch”.  Poor little stubborn kitty.  Jack had his claws clipped but his little paws shook the whole time.  Don’t worry, they have completely recovered their normal panache like nothing every happened.  Just more cuddling today. 

Still hate food.

skiing-ornament

Wishing you and yours the merriest possible holiday!  We’re busy chilaxing as best we can today:

jack-in-front-of-fireplace

And hoping our stomachs don’t explode before diets start Dec 27th, 4 pm sharp!

 And they are so cute!!  Giardia, otherwise known as beaver-fever in Canada, or hiker’s diarrhea, is currently regulated under the USEPA guidelines, but indirectly regulated in Canada.

giardia

And cute and fuzzy E.Coli!  (Made famous by Walkerton tragedy)  This is regulated in Canada, but indirectly in the US.  These little darlings will dissolve your intestines!

ecoli

And one that is especially cute, but has some pretty toxic properties of its guts are split open is Blue-Green Algae!  I know a guy who has spent his whole career studying this fuzzy, adorable cyanobacteria!

blue-green-algae

And when they get together and get into your drinking water, you know you are in trouble!

giardia-and-ecoli-in-a-glass1

I’m about to go online to get some lovely cryptosporidium (that which caused hundreds to sicken and many to die in Minneapolis) to complete my collection of regulated organisms in Canada and the US.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve said in a presentation, or written in manuals “A membrane is important in the removal of giardia, cryptosporidium, and E.Coli.”  And now in presentations I can whip these cuties out and show everyone!  It really is the height of a water process engineers geeky nerdom.  I must go now and e-mail these photos to everyone I know in the world of water.  Ha!

(P.S. I almost got my nieces herpes, just to piss off my brother, but I didn’t.  Check out www.giantmicrobes.com for the many other diseases they have, its a hoot)

I’m thinking of resurrecting the title phrase.  Did anyone ever say this to you when you were a child?  My little niece told me a few times this weekend that she “can’t do it”.  Without even trying.  This was while we were out tobogganing in sub-arctic weather.  (Which may have been a factor, but stick with me here).  This little girl is only three, and in the future she will hear many times that she “can’t” do something.  She “can’t” be an engineer, she can’t ski jump, she can’t do this or do that.  Only a short time ago her options would have been teacher, nurse, or wife.  Because women before her took “can’t” out of their vocabulary women can now choose to be one of those three things, or a doctor, engineer, chef, anything!  When she couldn’t get up we practiced bringing one knee up, two hands on the knee and PUSH! She got up.  When she couldn’t walk up the hill we crawled.  We got up!  My brother is also really good at making her try things before giving up.  However when her mittens came off, and her hands got red instantly, we went home.  We’re empowered females, but we’re also smart enough to know when to call it quits.  We lasted three runs down the hill, Whee!! 

One Christmas present down, a few to go.  This is the cabled beret   (Ravelry link) from the new Debbie Bliss magazine, in Patons soy/wool left over from mitten frenzy:

db-tam-from-top

With the big needles, 5 mm, you can make a lovely thick tam, and the simple pattern can handle a bit of colour change.  I like that you can wear it as a tam, or pull it down over your ears to keep warm.  A la tete:

db-tam-on

And as always, now I want one for myself!  I think I have the perfect yarn already…  I’m also planning on running a simple line of crochet around the opening just to hold it together a bit more.  I probably should have used a stiffer cast-on.  I hope the recipient likes it!

Isn’t Christmas Next Week?

December 19, 2008

Oh, yeah it is!  Its kind of snuck up on me this year, it seemed like it was sooo far away.  I’m extremely excited as this year I get 1.5 weeks off.  That is 1.5 weeks without going to work.  This is the longest I’ve had off since before I graduated University.  That is a loong time ago!  And I’m not going anywhere!  Skiing, visiting, eating, entertaining, shopping and many other fun activities are planned.  However it also means that those few Christmas presents that I was thinking of making need to get started now or never!  I’m just thinking of doing a few things, an Inga hat for a friend, a Couvecle for my skating coach in this lovely Noro (the cotton in the pattern is much too cold for Calgary):

yarn-for-courvcle

And perhaps some kids mitts for my niece and friends kids.  Those don’t take very long do they?  And perhaps a felted bowl…  Not all have to be done on Christmas, some friends are being visited the week after. 

Calgary is full of Christmas decorations, which we all get to admire when we do our noontime walkabouts.  Those of us who work downtown are benefiting from the network of covered “bridges” that connect most buildings in the downtown core, its called the +15 (or 15 feet up in the air).  I can go on a lovely walk from my office for 45 minutes and never have to worry about going outside!  So far this has been my favorite decoration:

christmas-musk-oxen

It is in the Gulf Canada Building.  Oh the lovely Christmas musk oxen about to be slaughtered by the hungry wolf!  How festive!  I keep looking but I haven’t seen them drop any qivuit yet! 

With all the cold and snow I’ve been treated to some beautiful views out my office windows.  Today is sunny, but the last few days it never quite made it out:

dead-cranes-winter-sun

That photo was taken at 11 am.  The cranes are dead, the construction site shut down due to the cold.  I get to to toboganning tomorrow with the nieces, I’m very excited about that as well!

Have a good, warm, and safe weekend everyone!

Well guys, it looks like we have snow and cold (-20 oC) until at least Christmas!  The good news is that means a White Christmas, which is my favorite kind, the bad news is that I need to shovel my drive-way again.  And as I jauntily told a lady getting on the elevator yesterday “Only four more months to go!”.  I do so love being annoyingly chipper like that. 

Over the past winter and this one  I have developed a bit of a strategy to deal with this type of cold, and a few things upon which I depend immensely.  With these things in my toolbox, I can do four months standing on my head! (just preferably not upside down in a snowbank pls. thx.)

1) My parka, giant, purple and ugly as it is.  It adds about 30 pounds, but inside I’m toasty and warm, and the trusty hood pulls up to keep the wind off my face.  It has tight cuffs at the wrist, a windblock at the waist, and goes down to my knees.  Along with the parka are assorted warm toques, scarves, and mitts, as thick and warm as I can get ’em.

2) My adjustable thermostat that turns the furnace on 15 minutes before I have to haul my lazy butt out of my warm bed.  Without it there would be fewer episodes of me getting out of bed at all. 

3) My electric blanket.  The best $40 bucks I ever spent.  It warms up the bed, and on extremely cold nights it comes to stay with me on the couch.  Last year when the apartment I was renting had heating troubles, it really saved us. 

4) The fireplace!  Piper and I try and get as close as possible each night, she loves her basket that is right next to it.

piper-in-front-of-fireplace

5) Having a fuzzy, furry belly helps Jack out a lot.  He really doesn’t need much help surviving the winter, he’s fine, Piper is the one sitting directly on top of the furnace vents.  He does love to lay around on his back and grab his tail however, like he is trying to do below.  Sigh, such a boy. It helps having two furry kitties curl up behind your knees each night. 

jack-trying-to-get-tail

6) My personal theory that staying warm when it is cold uses up more calories, and will help me lose weight.  ‘Cause it takes a lot to generate heat when its that cold out doesn’t it?  Which totally makes up for the stick to yer ribs type food I’ve been trying to eat lately, and the cookies, eggnog, and hot chocolate.  Totally makes up for it!

7) Embracing the cold, and getting out side.  The outdoor rinks must all be frozen now, and its about time I got out there.  Preferably with Kurt Browning!  I believe he filmed this at Emerald Lake, but I can’t be sure!  Wait up Kurt, I’m coming!!!  (Did anyone else watch the Kurt Browning Christmas Special last night?  I tried to find “Christmas for Cowboys, but no link yet, it was gooood!)

8) I think I look good when its cold outside!  I think we all look good!  We get rosy cheeks, and bright eyes.  At least that is the 5 minutes before the frost nip sets in…

9) The wonderful excuse why you have to stay inside and knit all day long; its too cold to do anything!

Just the Ends…

December 17, 2008

Of my scarf!

buttonhole-scarf-ends

Gently Flaring

With soft Ease

Zamboni

That would be my attempt at haiku!  Alright, Heather had asked for a close-up of the ends of the scarf which I like.  The cast-on is a normal cast-on, the simple thumb loop method, and the cast-off is the Estonian lace method.  It is detailed in wonderful fashion in the Estonian Lace Knitting Book.  As both methods are stretchy, the knit and purl pattern can form its own shape, which makes it appear like strips of fabric on the ends, rather than a straight edge which it actually is.  I believe the softness of the baby alpaca is helping in this shape, a more rigid yarn would not necessarily look like this.  Tres jolie!  (Yes my scarf and I are still madly in love from our first night bonding at the bus stop)

The test being “Can you keep my neck, chin, nose and face warm and frostbite free while I wait for this bus for over an hour in -25 oC weather”. 

buttonhole-scarf-done

Okay, that’s not me waiting for the bus, that is me smiling at Mr. J on the 4th floor of Banker’s Hall, where I’m sure you will see more photoshoots as it is a great place for it. 

The buses have been having trouble obviously with the cold, not starting, and not showing up for their routes.  I was fairly warm last night, but my toes had started to freeze long before the bus finally came.  A little kid was waiting with his mother and started to cry, which is how you get your face frozen off kid!  Tears just make it worse as they freeze on your face, he so failed winter survival 101.  I felt like crying at times, but I knew better.  The scarf is soft and warm, and stays up over my nose and face with ease due to the almost pleated effect of the weaving pattern.  At the bottom of the scarf the ends flare nicely out, I made sure I did the Estonian lace cast-off taught by Nancy Bush to ensure that end also flared out. 

The pattern is the Buttonhole Scarf from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008, made with baby alpaca from Alpaca with a Twist.  I used 3 small 50g balls, and about half of the big 200 g balls.  The middle 1/3 of the scarf does not have buttonholes, for extra warmth.  I’m not going to block it in order to keep the puffiness to the almost woven pattern.  The scarf is very long, and took like forever to finish.  But now I’m very happy it is!  It is perfect!  There is one row wrong however, as one must show humility.