Do you think about retiring, about what you will do?  Do you see it as an endless bore, with nothing to do now that lovely, lovely work, the meaning of your life has been taken away?  Don’t laugh, I’ve met a few people that have told me that when they are forced to retire they will drink themselves to death as quickly as possible in order to end the boredom.  I personally can’t wait to retire, I see it as a time in life where I have the means to live a relatively comfortable life, and not have to make more money unless I really want to.  You see, I have the example of my parents, now retired for almost 15 (!) years.  Is it a bad thing that my parents are having more fun partying than I am? 

IMG_1178

Dad is the hot blonde with the pink body suit, Mum is the hot chick with silver locks.  I know, if I didn’t tell you which was the woman and which was the man you could be confused!  Wednesdays are big nights on the island as it is karaokee night.  Dad’s signature song apparantly is “You make me feel like a woman” and Mum’s is “Ride a Cowboy, Save a Horse”.  Now that photo isn’t too bad you say, I don’t understand what the big deal is you say.  Well, how about this:

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I know, Dad isn’t wearing any shoes with his lime green mesh pants.  Apparantly he broke them from boogieing too much earlier in the evening, but he’ll get some new pumps in Florida later in the year. 

Now I bet you can’t wait to retire!!

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Charting out the Process

October 29, 2009

This week I have made a graphical representation of my works in progress, which also depicts how quickly or slowly I feel the particular project is going.  I spent a good amount of time this weekend on Ene’s shawl, which is worked from the bottom to the top, or from 375 stitches down to around 20 stitches. 

Ene's shawl graph

On the x axis I have “Progress from 0-100%” and on the y axis I have “Time Required” which is rather relative scale.  At the bottom would be 0, and at the top would be a perceived or real time required.  At the beginning of this shawl, it seems to take forever to make a tiny bit of progress.  Cast on 375 stitches, knit one pattern row.  Purl back.  Elapsed time, 3 hours!  Or so it seems.  It took a long time to get through the edging chart (Chart 1).  However once I got onto Chart 2, progress seemed to speed up, and the time required was less.  Now I’m on Chart 3, and the decreases have really started!!  Woohoo for decrease rows!  That means that knit 1 pattern row, purl back, takes less and less time as I keep going.  Its all downhill, nothing can stop me now.  I’ve marked my where location with a red star, definitely going downhill! 

My sweater, or any other large project, time line seems to always go like this:

Sweater Progress Graph

On the x axis I have “Time Spent” from beginning to when the project is completely done.  On the y axis I have “Progress”.  When I first cast on, and am really excited about the new project I spent a lot of my time on it, and get tons done.  Then the shiny newness wears off a bit, and I may cast on for another small project just for “interest”.  I spend less time on the sweater, and don’t make as much progress.  But slowly the light at the end of the tunnel comes, and I get excited to finish it.  I’m all about goals, and finishing something means marking it off my list with a shiny red pen, and having a new sweater to wear.  Or is it the other way around?  Probably not, I do love my shiny red pen.  I start to spend more time on the sweater, and hurry to get it done.  Again, I’ve marked my current estimated position on the chart with a red star (red!!).  The end is in sight!  Almost at the decreases of the 2nd sleeve, and the front to finish.  (Then a collar, putting it together, sewing in a zipper etc. etc.)

And in case you were wondering, I am a big geek nerd engineer, and I love to graph things AND make spreadsheets!  Woohoo, life can be so much fun!

A link for those who haven’t already seen this, and to spread some of that Canadian culture around.  This video has not only my favorite Rick Mercer, but my absolutely super favorite Kurt Browning who is his charming self!  Listen closely to Rick’s Newfoundland accent, can’t beat it for being easy on your ear!!  I think he asked Tuffy for a date after this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-h5JYvgOVo

Enjoy!  I think it has become my new make a cloudy day sunny video!

Pondering Gauge

October 27, 2009

Over the past year I’ve been working on a theory of gauge, specifically mine and how it relates to the rest of the knitters out there.  This theory is becoming useful to me, as it is helping me pick the right needles for specific yarn right off the bat, without going through numerous iterations of needle sizes or yarn for particular projects.  As always, what I’m about to hypothesize only pertains to my knitting, and is not a detriment to other peoples knitting styles.  Everyone knits their own way, in their own time, and exactly how they want to, and each and every one of them is right, okee dokee?

I begin by saying that I knit english style, and am a thrower.  Adding to that I don’t wrap the yarn around any fingers, I kinda hold it loosely between the thumb and forefinger of my right hand.  I knit this way simply because that’s the way my Mum taught me, and even if I’m a bit slower I do have nice even tension.  My theory has to do with knitters who knit with their left hand, continental style, or wrap the yarn tightly around their finger in order to maintain tension. 

Theory 1: As a result of putting the tension on the yarn from wrapping the yarn, larger needles are needed in order to achieve proper gauge, whilst I need smaller needles.  I’ve been noticing a trend that in certain patterns, and with certain designers now, I go down 1-2 mm in needle size and achieve the same tension. 

Theory 2: I don’t have a problem with the Noro sock yarns breaking on me, or really any yarns breaking on me, because I’m not  pre-tensioning the yarn as I knit it, just holding it.  I still love my Noro socks, a year after I made them.  (I also still need to sew some elastic in the tops, but that’s a whole other problem). 

Back to theory 1.  I first noticed this when I wanted to knit some Brooklyntweed patterns, and could not get over how big the needle sizes were.  Why did I need such small needles I wondered?  But now that I’ve noticed the trend I can mentally substitute the smaller needle and start my gauge swatch.  Also with the Ann Budd socks I recently completed, the interlocking cables.  The pattern calls for 3 mm needles, I instead cast on with my trusty size 1 needles (2.25 mm I believe) and went to town.  And by town I mean sock town. 

I would like to conclude this presentation of random theories on gauge with a shout out to Nancy Bush.  Mrs. Bush is also a thrower, and with every single pattern of hers I have ever attempted ( and by now that is a few) the needle size is right on for the gauge that I get.  Yet another reason to love her patterns!

Snowy Saturday Morning

October 26, 2009

It seems a bit early to be on our second snowfall this year, but Saturday morning we had another couple of inches of fluffy snow.  It was just rain at 6:30 am, and switched to snow around 8 am.  If you are wondering how I know, its because I left the house at 6:30 am to go skating, drove across town, sat for 15 minutes being pretty sure it must have been cancelled as there were no other women in tiny skirts there, and then drove home.  I then checked my e-mail and got the cancellation notice, but in a first for me, did not go back to nap some more but made coffee and adjourned to my office to listen to pod casts and as it turns out, watch the snow fall.  Around lunch time I decided it would be a hoot to let the cats out, as there are fewer things funnier than cats in a snow storm.  Piper looked absolutely offended that she was getting wet, and could not figure out where is was coming from.  Jack stuck to the dry parts for a little bit, then in boy fashion took off through the now 3 inches of snow for some fun.

Jack Outside

He was squawking away the whole time, having a grand old time.  Eventually they both came inside, and poor Jack’s belly was loaded up with snow.  We either need less snow, or he needs longer legs.

Snowy Jack

Not to worry however, the temperature was pretty moderate outside, and afterwards we all curled up by the fireplace.  Some kitties were even treated to extra snuggles by their favorite guy:

Piper and Julian snuggling

Stop the Presses…

October 23, 2009

Okay, I had my weekend project all picked out, then I stopped at Gina Brown’s last night after picking my car up at the repair shop, a repair that cost me $2000 less than I was worried it was going to.  When does that ever happen?  My streak of unbelievable luck continued when the store had many copies of Made in Brooklyn, which I’ve been coveting for a couple of months now!  I smartly picked up three copies, one for me, two for friends, this book disappears fast!  This is a book in which I would like to make every single thing, excepting perhaps the ear muffs.  So, there I was in the store dancing an excited jig, when I spotted a copy of Verena, a European knitting magazine.  I was just discovering their gorgeous designs on line, the fall magazine has beautiful textured knits, whilst the Winter one (not yet available) has some incredible colourwork.  At this point I was positively gushing, but then I spotted Interweave Holiday Knits which looks pretty good this year.  I think I want some of the knitted balls to use as pillows. 

As much as I want to cast on immediately for the mittens, and one or two of the hats in the Brooklyn book, I think its going to have to become a reward for me.  If I can get a few things finished up, then I can cast on.  AND once I use up my stock of sweater yarn, I can start purchasing for a few of the sweaters in this book, they are all beautiful, and lucky for me they seem to be perfect for my figure.  Even the models look similar to my body type, I bet most of them have my 34b bust.  And of course his mens sweaters would be perfect for long and lean Mr. J if I ever start to knit for him.  This book is a keeper, and one to knit from for a long, long time, just not this weekend!

Hope everyone has a great weekend, looks like we aren’t too cold yet so we may get outside yet!

Has been found!  Check out this hat here: Qivuit Cap.  I think I will use the last bit of buffalo/silk that I have however to make it up.  The key is to have a yarn with a bit of a halo for this hat to work however, helps fill up the holes to make a cosy head.  It is nice at the end of the weekend to be able to hold up a finished object, rather than point to an extra 6 inches of sleeve!  Makes one feel right pleased with their productive weekend (to come).  The jury is still out whether this will go into the Christmas box or not, right now I’m smitten with the design and may just have to keep it (and make 3 more).

Once again, all my works in progress are blue!  The ruinous blues title comes from a Cousteau song I was listening to, great little band from England that I still enjoy, they are a fall band to me, and go well with cool air and colourful leaves. 

WIP #1: Snowflake Sweater: 1 sleeve down, 3/4 of a sleeve to go, and the front

Snowflake Scarf Sleeve #2

Only having this in South Dakota meant that I slogged through one sleeve, and have about 1/4 of the second one done.  If I can manage to finish this sleeve off, the last front should go very quickly as I have the snowflake section to look forward to.  I hope to finish the sleeve this week.

WIP#2: Purse Knitting: Bettie Stockings

This has been resurrected, and extra stitches added to the purl section to make it wider around the calf.  I’m going to take it off the needles and try it on again tonight, I believe I’m at the top of the lace pattern, ready to do the finishing.  I need to finish that, and do the provisional cast on for the next toe before next Tuesday so that I can work on it at the Knit Night.  The second sock should go well as I don’t have to continuously try the durn thing on.  This time of year I’m either wearing knee stockings or tights, therefore I’m eager to finish these up so that I can wear them before deep winter cold sets in.  (Then I wear BOTH tights and knee highs!)

Bettie Stockings, #1

WIP #3: A more complicated project, Ene’s Scarf

I’ve been eager to cast this on for a year and I finally did which gave me no end of joy.  The 375 stitches got cast on, and now that the first set-up row is done this is going well, if you consider 2 rows an evening well.  I can’t wait to start decreasing (only 16 more rows!  Or 8 nights!)

Beginning of Ene's Scarf

The Drops Alpaca is so soft, this is going to be such a nice scarf/shawl when it is done.  My cold neck can’t wait to meet it!

FO: Undulating Rib Socks

October 20, 2009

I guess all the time in airports has paid off recently as I finished my undulating rib socks.  As I wandered around Denver airport (four times, two trips) I kept a sharp eye out for the Yarn Harlot, hoping to see her knitting away in a corner, enjoying some coffee, but no such luck.  As Canadians fly a lot on Air Canada/Unit, and Denver is a big hub we tend to end up there quite often, but it is a good airport so I don’t mind.  The terminals are long enough that you can get some good exercise by walking around, good bookstores, some pretty healthy food, a selection of coffee places. 

Interlocking Cable Socks

I even found some time to go to the mall and buy some shiny new shoes!  I think the dark red goes well with brown, grey, and perhaps black slacks in addition to dresses and skirts.  The pattern is Undulating Rib Socks by Ann Budd from the Favorite Sock book, and is a nice easy pattern.  The BFL from Wooly Wonka gives a nice crisp edge to the raised rib, yet retains a softness.  The colour is Desert Rocks, and is achieved using a blend of red, pink, browns, and perhaps some other colours to give a true depiction of the beautiful rocks in Southern Utah.  This is a true knitters yarn, other knitters that have seen me working on the sock have picked it up and held it up close to look at the colours.  They are amazed at how it all blends, and that there is absolutely no pooling, the dye job is downright perfect! 

 

Close up of Interlocking Cable Sock

As this is my first full week back in town after 5 weeks of traveling, I feel like I’m getting to do all my favorite things for the first time.  Knitting with friends again at last, getting caught up, and this morning back to skating!  The skating feels like it is starting off slow, which isn’t so atypical after not skating all summer.  Plus getting to the rink at 6:30 am, and a cold one at that makes for stiff knees, cold ears, and lots of warm up time needed.  Towards the end I was getting colder and needed a break so I took some photos of my spinning position, I was curious to see what I really looked like.  The answer: my sit spin is more like a slightly leaning over spin which must be worked on, but the camel spin is looking okay except for some weird arm position.  And in other exciting news only to me, my back spin is much better this year, actual circles are being turned on the ice!  Woohoo! 

Anne doing camel spin

So that is us on Tuesday mornings, two skaters, one coach who is now 5 months pregnant, and almost unable to put her skates on.  I have a mental note to make up a February baby jacket in the boy colour so that I’ll have a back up for the girl colour!  She’s due to have her baby during the Olympics which is exciting!

This post was due to be written in the Denver Airport last Friday evening, initially as I was excited by their free Wifi, which turned out to be erratic and impossible to bring up pages with.  Sigh, the disappointment of free.  I had a bunch of time there due to a late plane in, then a mechanical problem on our plane.  I spent last week flying on planes that are due to be “retired” on Oct 22 and replaced by Airbuses.  Is it just me or does it strike fear into you when they announce that the plane you are currently sitting in is about to be retired because it is “old and difficult to maintain”.  Oh well, what can you do when you are strapped in 30,000 feet up other than hope if there is a problem the death is quick and relatively painless, so you might as well knit away.

I was happy to be leaving Sioux Falls South Dakota, or Big C*#K Country as an orange t-shirt proudly proclaimed.  Not that is anything particularly wrong with that part of the country, other than hunting season of pheasants (hence the t-shirt) began on Saturday and the airport staff were busy celebrating the hunters arriving in droves.  Everyone was wearing hunter orange hats, shirts, a lovely firearm officer was waiting to give everyone back their checked rifles lawfully.  I don’t have any huge beef against hunters, as long as they are controlling populations of animals that would otherwise have problems, and I don’t like it when people take pleasure from killing an animal.  I sincerely believe if you kill an animal for food you should instantly thank that animal for the sacrifice.  And you should feel bad, and you should use the whole animal, or as much of it as possible.  AND I don’t like hunter orange, it does nothing for anyones complextion. 

I spent the week working with one of my old co-workers from Utah, who has always been a good guy to work with.  He was one of the few people during my three years at the company in Utah who would talk to me, allow me to joke with him, and was always nice to work with.  He is very right wing, ultra conservative, and proclaims his belief in small government and low taxes.  So of course I have a great time teasing him, asking him if he’s really happy Obama got elected, if he is excited that more people should get medical coverage in the States etc. etc.  He’s a good sport, and generally gets that I’m just having some harmless fun to tease  him.  One day we walked over to the restaurant to get some lunch and I asked him “Do you know what is the problem with the United States”.  He immediately tensed up, wondering if I was going to make a crack about health care, gay rights, foreign policy, any number of things on which we disagree about.  I kept him in suspense, “This really bothers me, and its something really good about Canada”.  He was worried now.  I said “Its hard to find ginger ale here, in Canada you can get it in every restaurant, store, on the airplane, in the United States you have to hunt for it”.  He relaxed, and we went on to talk about the yumminess of ginger ale, its sweet by spicy taste, its caffeine free goodness.   Next time I’ll bug him about Smarties.