On Sunday we leave January and enter February, which for me is the hardest month.  I’m busy getting excited about the approaching spring, but still mired down in sub zero temperatures, mounds of snow, and frost bitten cheeks.  I miss my skirts, sandals, my pretty tank tops, running out the door without taking 5 minutes to layer up.  The world seems colourless as the snow melts, becomes brown and grey, but nothing green can be found.  I can feel a big binge of spring cleaning coming on as I peer into my closet, wondering what I haven’t worn in forever and can be donated.  I need, I must shed the past year, the cold winter, and get ready for the spring. 

I love the idea of knitting brightly coloured items to cheer up my wintery house.  I love the idea of making green things in honour of this time of year.  Bright, vibrant green the colour of new grass, crocus stalks, tulips peeking through.  At times it seems our world has been frozen solid, and will never unfreeze.  I can’t imagine living in a world such as make-believe Narnia where winter lasted for 100 years.  I would like to meet a Centaur however.

This morning a Chinook blew through, and its currently 8 oC outside, which is extremely warm when you are used to -25 oC.  But its hard to enjoy it when I’m sure we’ll have another one or two deep freezes to endure before the end, before spring.  In order to get through February, expect to see me posting cheerful photos of warmth, spring, and green things.  I hope that ()&*($@ groundhog tells us its only six more weeks of winter! 

bow-river-running-fast

Peggy and the Clown

January 29, 2009

A few weeks ago I had an interesting discussion at Knit Night with Mrs. R. about our first knits.  We were both taught to knit as kids, and I found it interesting that we both just made stuff up and knit it.  No patterns, no guidance, just imagination and apparently good visualization skills.  I do believe the first thing I knit successfully was a brown pencil case (knit a rectangle, sew up two sides, sew a zipper in) which I may still have but I’m afraid to dig through the drawers in my desk.  I never made a scarf, contrary to current trends for new knitters, nor a dishcloth.  Somehow I then decided that my toys needed clothes, and I had some handy yarn around and made these:

peggy-and-the-clown

On the left is the clown my Grandmother made me, which is a work of art.  He has a proper clown outfit upstairs still, and I do believe I never named him.  On the right is Peggy the flying horse, handmade by Santa Claus.  She is a bit dirty after all the years of attending skating competitions.  In examining their high fashion garments it looks like I didn’t know how to increase or decrease, these are variously sized rectangles wrapped around and sewn in place.  It looks like I tried to make a ruffle around the bottom of Peggy’s dress, but didn’t make it long enough which meant it started out really ruffly, then not so ruffly, then left a gap.  Note also the convenient “wing holes”.  Now that takes some skill!!

After reading another blog (I believe it was Annie Modesitt’s) I’ve decided to make Saturday a “Creative Day”.  No patterns, just making stuff up, hopefully some drawing.  It has been approximately 30 years since I’ve done this apparently, and back then every day was a “Creative Day”.  (Every day was scream when you were tired as well, which sometimes I wish we could still do)  There are so many good patterns out there I want to make which leaves me little time for my own inspiration.  I have no illusions that I will ever become a designer myself, but I think being creative is good for you, and unfortunately us engineers tend to lose sight of that sometimes.  (I do know some very talented, creative, and artistic engineers however).  Sometimes the sum total of my creativity is figuring out a new way to save money on a project.  Sigh.

So far that is.  The last two Wednesdays have not been so pleasant, but this one so far is shaping up to being a nice day, with lots of work sent out the door to the customers.  Our customers like it when you (finally) send them things like prices and descriptions of equipment. 

My evening stockings are coming along quickly, considering the last few pairs of socks I made took around 3 months to complete.  The first one is almost at the toe shaping now:

evening-stockings-one-almost-done-003

I tried it on last night and it fits tightly, which is good as the Kroy tends to loosen when washed. 

The Pom-Pom sweater had a bit of a rough weekend, as I seemed to have a mental block about the lace on the top of the yoke.  At one point I realized that five rows down I had stopped doing the lace pattern about halfway around, and had switched to straight knitting.  I can only surmise that after a bathroom break I messed up or something like that.  Sunday evening involved going back five rows, and then reknitting them, for a sum total progress of 2 rows at the end of the weekend.  I seem to have a handle on it now (about time) and hope to finish up in the next day or two.  The beauty of the yoke is that I’m decreasing a lot now and things go much quicker! 

I have been impatient lately as I have no check-marks on my yarn diet chart.  But I am telling myself that checking off a sweater is huge progress, and I shouldn’t be so upset, after all life is way too short.  But perhaps if I finish the sweater, and knock off a quick hat in bulky yarn this weekend I’ll have two check-marks by the end of January and life will be good?  I think so.

That was then, This is now.

January 26, 2009

This photo was taken when I was nine or ten, which is also the time when I was learning to do an axle for the first time:

little-annie-skater

There I am, all gangly, long, in my first real skating dress, holding my good luck flying horse Peggy, extremely uncomfortable in my skin.  (Mal dans ma peau as the french say).  Now 25 years later I’m learning to do an axle again.   I can’t really remember learning it the first time, other than it took a long time, was frustrating, and was hard.  Take off on the left foot, 1.5 revolutions, land on the right foot (toe).  Arms in, legs crossed, jump from the legs.  Sounds easy doesn’t it?  The axle was such a milestone for us all, the first real jump, every parent promised an extra treat when it was finally mastered.  What were those treats, a candy bar, a doll, a pop?  I really can’t remember now.  I haven’t promised myself anything this time around, as I don’t really want any of those things anymore, the sad thing is that as an adult the satisfaction of mastering something is enough.  Weren’t our parents trying to tell us that 25 years ago when we were angling for candy bars? 

On Sunday I had another scary deja vu of those days long ago; skating cliques.  Believe it or not a group of women gathered at the side of the boards, chatted, and watched each other do jumps for about 1 hour or so.  I could just hear their parents “stop standing and get skating”.  Now, like then, I wasn’t in the clique, I’ve never been someone on the inside, always on the outside, mal dans ma peau.  But the difference is the wisdom from 25 years of living, of not wanting to be in the clique, but to enjoy giggling at them, and skating, skating skating, jumping, jumping, jumping.  25 years of living gives one the confidence to go our own road, to not worry anymore about fitting in, or being in the group.  My skin may be much further around then when I was 10, but it sure fits better now.  AND I landed a number of axles, all the way around (just on the flat of my foot, not on the toe like it should be.  BUT its getting better, and much higher.)

personal-trainer-jack
And is very involved in my training!  Whenever I get the bike out for a living room spin, he is right there, demanding that I pet him and ride at the same time.  Doing both must burn more calories, he has my best interest in mind of course.  When I start my sit-up’s he sits on my chest (I still have to keep patting him) in order to make it harder for me, and improve my work out.  When I do push-ups he walks under me so that I have to bury my nose in his fur, which must help my technique.  He is such a great help!

Have a good weekend everyone!  Bundle up!

The Wind Went Whump!

January 22, 2009

I live on the west side of Calgary, almost in the first set of houses.  The wind coming over the mountains has about 60 km of land unbroken by trees, or houses in which to pick up speed.  My neighbourhood is also up on a hill, and all this means that when the weather changes, and the wind ushers in a completely new climate overnight, we are all intimately aware.  Around 2 am last night the wind started Whumping the house.  I wake up, the cats wake up, and I lie there wondering if a window fell out of the house, or if part of the roof is gone.  The wind slams so hard the windows flex in and out, the walls move in the sonic boom.  I begin to plan: if the window falls out, I’ll get that plastic and tape it over the opening, keeping the cats upstairs to avoid the broken glass.  If a wall falls over, I’ll lay down beside the bed like you are supposed to do in an earthquake.  Will the insurance cover my windowless, wallless house?  What should I wear to work tomorrow!  Whump!

Nor I or my cats got much sleep after 2 am.  Whump!  The temperature is back down to -17 oC, and big parka came with me to work this morning. 

In other news, I am excited to announce that the sleeves have been joined to the  body of the sweater, and the colourwork in the yoke started.  Actual colour!  Woohoo!

yoke-just-started

Dreaming of Moab

January 21, 2009

After the holidays, with more months of winter ahead, more cold, more darkness, my thoughts inevitably turn to my annual trek down to Moab for sunlight, red rocks, and biking, beautiful biking.  The entry forms are filled out for the Moab Skinny Tire Festival (must send those in), the cabin booked, vacation approved, plans made.  The exercise regimen has begun that will hopefully make it possible to ride the 150 miles in 3 days, followed by two days of mountain biking.  I’m not saying there won’t be tears, and a turtle may pass me, but I want to make it through.  I’m dreaming of Moab:

canada-anne-on-slickrock-compressed

Only two more months to go.  Tick Tock.  Now?  No.  Now?  Tick Tock.

And congratulations to all those of my friends in the great land to the south on your new President, here in the true north we are very glad for you.  Letting you in on a little secret, approximately 99% of us (with margin of error 1%) did not like your last President.  Now we are Canadian, and we are polite, and its not polite to say not nice things about people.  Therefore I’ve been thinking long and hard and here is my nice thing “Laura Bush was a very good first lady, and Mr. Bush was lucky to have married her”.  There. 

As a note of comparison, here is our Prime Minister (for another few days anyways, he may get laid off on the 25th, we don’t know yet) dealing with a tv celebrity, Marg the Princess Warrior.  (Marg is approximately 50ish, just so you know, and regularly confronts politicians in her Warrior outfit, its hilarious).
Marg, Princess Warrior Kisses Stephen Harper

And to the viewer who found my blog by searching “Do figure skaters have big butts”, I would just like to answer that its usually the cookies not the skating in my experience.

Of Skating and Yarn Pron

January 19, 2009

Thanks to all of you who took the time to comment on Friday’s post.  Daddio has been enjoying the comments, he loves it when other people see his paintings in new and unexpected ways.  I had a chance to talk to him briefly this morning about it, however Honduras was being attacked either by a horde of helicopters or a buzzle of bees the interference on the line was that bad.  My Mum did manage to report that “its warmed up” down there, as it was getting dangerously close to 70 oF the last few days.  Catastrophe has been averted however, and everyone can put away their toques and scarves and get the bikinis out again. 

I really can’t complain however, Calgary has been enjoying extremely, well above freezing weather that is due to last until Tuesday.  Yesterday Calgarians were out running, walking, biking, rollerblading, or simply turning their faces up to bathe in the warm sun.  I should feel bad for the rest of the continent experiencing extreme cold, but I think we deserved a bit of a break after our before and during holiday frigid temperatures.  But like true Canadians, as soon as that temperature gets near the zero degrees Celsius mark, you start to see numerous people out in shorts enjoying the warm weather. 

But skating, don’t forget the skating.  The Canadian Nationals were this weekend and I got to watch a bunch of it, which makes Mum jealous.  And she should be, the skating was wonderful again this year.  I’m always impressed by the depth of talent in the field, there were men that didn’t even make it to the top 6 skaters who had wonderful skating styles, unique and individual.  And these guys are young, 16, 17, 18, and just getting their jumps together, and when they do, watch out!  The skater in third place, who is a cutie patitue from British Columbia, landed two quads.  He needs to grow into his gangly body a bit, work on his artistry, and he will be a contender in the Olympics for sure.  I would advise all Canadian athletes however; do not put piano keys on your outfit, its tacky.  A male and female skater went this route, both single skaters, both making the same bad decision.  Patrick Chan had it right, simple navy shirt, simple sequins, not too much, not too little.  Fabulous.  I knitted, and provided a horizontal surface for a few cats:

jan-6-002

About two more inches of stocking stitch to go on the sweater before I start the yoke, so good progess this weekend!  I also received some lovely yarn that was ordered before the official start of the yarn diet (so it doesn’t count.  Pre-ordering yarn whilst in a yarn diet is a great idea however, I highly recommend it)

impulse-of-delight

From Impulse of Delight, and meant to be an Andromeda Shawl.  It may become something else, but it will definitely be a Mimknits design.  How could anyone resist those sapphire shades, or fail to picture the finished product gradually changing from dark sapphire to light.  Downright gorgeous I say.  And a good fix during the diet. 

Hope you had a good weekend!

I’m a very lucky daughter, as I’ve received special permission from an artist (D.O.D. – Dear Old Dad) to share one of his most recent paintings with you titled ” Stitch in Time”

stitch-in-time

On my parents recent visit my Dad found a photo of an older woman knitting, which may have been taken in Newfoundland, I can’t remember correctly.  With this as his inspiration he made this painting.  His thoughts are:

“I just thought as you are all together with knitting as a common bond it would be interesting to see what the reaction of your fellow knitters would be to the painting.Would they see the beauty in the topic of knitting as an expression of ones self and the beauty in the mind of ageing.   In my mind the sombre  tone, contentment, in the act of using ones hands is very expressive to the observers eye.  If you get a reaction such as what an old hag etc. then the observer does not get it and needs to look deeper into the painting and use the brain to think about the person and her task of creating something in spite of physical infirmities or age.  ”

At my first glance I see a woman who almost looks like a witch.  But then, like Dad said I looked deeper.  The expression is of intense concentration, and contentment.  She is wholly involved in what she is making, which seems to be a white wool sock.  Is she having trouble, is she knitting without really paying attention and thinking of something else, what to have for dinner, something that happened long ago, of the future? 

What do you think? 

Thanks D.O. D. for sharing!