30 June 2010


(Photo by NCP)

Some years ago (eight, maybe nine?), my youngest brother's pleadings for a rabbit paid off. My parents caved and began the rabbit search. Why on earth a family with a beagle would think that buying a rabbit is a good idea is beyond me. Fortunately, there was a method to the madness. That year, my brother got a black and white Rex rabbit for his birthday. His name is Joshua, and he is adorable. Rexes are good-sized rabbits, and their fur is incredibly soft. Petting him is a little like petting a skein of cashmere. He and the dog, Albert, actually got along pretty well, partly because we only let them be loose in the same room with a lot of supervision. When the dog died some years later, and my parents got another beagle, the puppy, Southwell, was delighted to find that there was someone his size in the house. He kept trying to get into rabbit's cage, not to eat the rabbit, but to eat the rabbit's food. Joshua, by this time, was middle-aged and not thrilled with this. His favourite pastimes are hopping around the laundry room or the backyard, nibbling on things and rubbing them with his chin. He was very fond of me, but then I moved away. Whenever I'm back for a visit, he's happy to see me, though.

Now, I hadn't really realized, until I started knitting, that you could actually find yarn made of rabbit fur. I hadn't tried it before, seeing it as one of those fluffy yarns that are a nightmare to frog. I've branched out a bit. I swore once I'd never want to knit with mohair. Now I have three balls of mohair in my stash. One went into a pair of mittens, as the liners. The outer layer is Manos del Uruguay. They are impressively warm. The pattern is Sheltie, by Robin Melanson, from Knitting New Mittens and Gloves.
The other two are going to be a pair of striped mitts, based on the ones Alice wears in the new Alice in Wonderland movie. I'm considering using the same stuff I used for the mittens (SandnesGarn Kitten Mohair) for a sweater. After knitting with it and trying the mittens on, I'm fairly sure it doesn't irritate my skin. Alpaca has a tendency to itch a little bit for me unless it's the nice, expensive kind, and that was the fluffiest yarn I'd use on a regular basis.

I've given a cashmere blend a try and loved it but cursed the yarn when I had to frog back a row, and discovered, after wearing the cashmere mitts I'd knit, that it was like wearing a furnace on my hands. I'm unlikely to knit a cashmere sweater because I get hot and cold easily. During the school year, I get warmed up on the walk from the bus stop to the classroom (it's a decent walk, after all), so I take off my sweater, hang it on the back of my chair, put my scarf, mitts, and hat on top of my backpack, and then by the end of an hour-long class, since the rooms are always cold, even in winter, I'm wearing it all again. Cashmere is probably not the best idea for me since it's so drastically warm.

Anyway, all this to say that I hadn't tried knitting with angora. It was a fluffy yarn, which I had sworn to stay away from, and it didn't really appeal to me. I've seen angora bunnies, and am forced to admit that they are adorable, although they look a little funny with all that fluff. If we had a rabbit, it probably wouldn't be an angora, but you never know.

I was at the thrift store yesterday, and as is my habit, I wandered through the sweater section, touching sweaters and wondering why so many sweaters are made of really heavy cotton. I don't like knitting with cotton, and don't feel the need for a sweater's worth of it. I always hope to run across a cashmere sweater that I could take apart and turn into a shawl, but that hasn't happened yet.

Then, I found it. It was really soft, and it was charcoal-coloured, which meant it actually stood a chance with me (bubble-gum pink does not). I dug out the tag. 54% nylon, 6% wool, and 40% angora. I bought it without even trying it on. When I got home, I did try it on. It was too big for me, and the shawl collar and buttons on the front didn't suit me. So I got out my seam ripper, reduced it to pieces, and started frogging. I've about finished the two sleeves, but the fronts and back still need to be taken apart. I can salvage some of the button band, but the buttonholes were cut, so that section is no good. It's coming apart very well--much better than I had expected. I'm probably going to use it for a cardigan. I think I'm in love. It's so soft, and it doesn't itch at all. I may have to see if the LYS carries angora in worsted weight. It'd be perfect for that one sweater that I was going to use mohair for. Turns out fluffy yarns have their charms.

22 June 2010

We survived the move but it took a few days to get our internet back up and running. I spent nearly two hours on the phone with Telus yesterday, and someone came and fixed it this morning.

My parents and one of my brothers drove up Friday night. Saturday morning was spent shuttling boxes to and fro and then, in the late afternoon, we picked up the U-Haul for the furniture. J. was really excited to get to drive a truck. He didn't squash anything, much to my relief. One of our friends showed up to give us a hand with the furniture, and with his help, the furniture was moved in pretty fast.

I've been doing most of the unpacking, since J. did most of the furniture arranging. Also, because he's at work most of the time. The second bedroom turned into The Pile for a day or two, but The Pile is much smaller now. Mostly some book boxes and the box of pictures that I haven't hung yet. We don't have enough bookcases, really, and haven't bought new ones yet, so the boxes of non-fiction are stacked against the wall right now. I unpacked the fiction on Sunday and re-alphabetized it, which wasn't too hard because I'd boxed it up in sections. The Pile will be our guest room slash where my desk and sewing machine go.

And I suppose that's about it. I've been doing a little knitting here and there but haven't had much time for it lately, and since the sewing machine isn't set up yet, I haven't done any of that, either. Instead I've been unpacking, re-arranging things, and having an unholy amount of fun loading the dishwasher.

If I get around to taking pictures, I'll probably put a few up on here. In the meantime, I need to eat lunch.

17 June 2010

We're currently in the in-between phase with the moving. I've taken a few things over to the new apartment, but since we don't have a car, I have to carry whatever I'm taking. So J's board game collection has been mostly transported over, since board games are easily put in bags and carried, but the place is still pretty bare, and over here, everything's mostly in boxes. The official moving day is Saturday. I might have to come back next week to do any additional cleaning that we don't finish on Saturday, and I do have to come back to go over the place with the manager and to hand in our keys.

It feels strange to be leaving--we've been here for nearly two years, and while I'm glad to be leaving (when you get a ride home from a fellow student and feel compelled to explain that "the rent's cheap, we're hoping to move sometime this year," it's probably time to move), I've felt a tad nostalgic once in a while during the last couple weeks. Not nostalgic enough to want to stay, though. Our new apartment is much better. There is a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, along with a fan and an electric outlet (if I ever want to buy and use a curling iron, I can use it in the bathroom, in front of the mirror). Yes, the new place has the normal, legal number of electric outlets. I will no longer have to unplug to microwave just because I need to vacuum. The windows have screens. The door to the balcony can be opened without a wrestling match (we have a really large balcony but because the door sticks, we don't use it often--the new one is much smaller but I think we'll be out there more frequently). The heaters are actually connected to the thermostat. And of course, the whole dishwasher, garburator, four closets, normal-sized fridge, and decent-looking stove are terrific, too.

I managed not to do any knitting yesterday, and a minimum of lifting and carrying, so my hands are doing much better. I might give the Endpaper Mitts a shot sometime later today, and see how my hands do with it. I'd still love to finish them this week. In the meantime, I should probably go run some errands.

15 June 2010

The other day, when I was checking my email, one of the newsletters seemed like fate. I'm not sure how it happened, but my wrists and hands have starting aching in earnest. Badly. This isn't like the strain I had last summer when I was simply knitting too much and hanging onto my needles too tightly. This is in my wrists, not just my thumbs. Typing isn't really painful, and oddly, knitting mostly isn't either, but picking things up, especially in certain ways, is painful. It may stem from hauling boxes home from the liquor store last week--they don't have handles and I have to carry them by holding tightly to the box flaps. My hands start hurting after less than a minute. But it's been in the last couple of days that it's been really bad. And, of course, I'm supposed to be picking things up and putting them in boxes.

Anyway, Sunday night, I was looking up the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and worrying that I was developing that. I don't have all the symptoms, though (especially not the numbness and tingling, yay), so I'm probably just worrying too much (lately I feel like the Peanuts collection, My Anxieties Have Anxieties, was written about me). Monday morning, hands still aching, I checked my email. The Knitting Daily newsletter was about exercises to help prevent hand problems in knitters. So I've started doing those, in the hopes that this will help. And the Endpaper Mitts may not get finished this week. Now I'm going to stop typing, since I'm sure that isn't helping.

12 June 2010

it's a blur

A couple days ago, I hit the point with the packing of the boxes where I couldn't really pack much more until next week. I think I'm stressed about the move. So stressed, in fact, that I finished a pair of socks in less than a week. An entire pair. Cast on sometime Sunday late afternoon, finished the second sock Friday evening. Oh, and I finished a hat somewhere in there, too. Now my wrists hurt a bit. I need to slow down.

Thankfully, this week, I get to clean like the OCD person I'm not, and finish the packing. I will have more things to do, which is good, since I've been going a little stir-crazy. We get our keys on Tuesday, so I can take a few things over to our new place and decide how I want to organize the kitchen. We're moving Saturday, which means I have to skip WWKIP day. I skipped today's events because I was kind of tired. My wild and crazy dreams last night included watching Wicked (finally!) with Data from Star Trek NG and several people who were apparently transformers in disguise. I haven't been watching Star Trek or Transformers, or listening to Wicked at all lately, so I have no idea where this came from. But the wacky dreams left me feeling a tad off-kilter today.

Anyway, because of that, I anticipate doing less knitting this week, which is fine. I started the Endpaper Mitts a few weeks ago, and the first one is done (except I have to undo the bind-off and re-do it again because it looks weird), and the second one is well begun. Ideally, I'll finish it sometime this week. The red and black looks very cool, and I'm definitely happy with how the project is turning out. And that's about all for now.

07 June 2010

the packing saga

My project for today was to pack books. I've packed up a lot of the kitchen things that aren't always required (all of the teapots except one, most of the teacups, the double-boiler, the wine glasses, the ramekins, etc). So today, I headed off to the liquor store to fetch boxes. They told me on Saturday that they get their shipments Mondays and Tuesdays, so they'd have boxes then.

Turns out I can only manage about half a dozen boxes at a time. I made three trips, so I have eighteen boxes with assorted labels on them. I didn't even know they made blue raspberry flavoured vodka. I started with the non-fiction bookshelf. That took about six boxes, with a few books left out. Turns out I have four or five English dictionaries. So I'm getting rid of a couple. I don't really need two versions of Webster's or two thesauri. I left the enormous Webster's dictionary out because it's really heavy and I should probably pack it in a box with lighter things, like socks.

Then I moved on to the fiction. Twelve boxes later, nearly everything except the shelf with all the extra-large and children's books was packed away. I left out a couple books. One because I know I can pick it up and re-read it for the next couple weeks, and the other because J. is working his way through that series and he'll want me to leave the last book out so he can read it.

Anyway, now I'm tired. And dusty. I need to remember to dust more often.

03 June 2010

some knitting but mostly waxing lyrical about a dishwasher

It's the beginning of June, and I am contemplating mittens. It's been cool and damp and cloudy, instead of sunny, and I'm not complaining. There's this pair I want to make that have an inner layer of mohair and an outer, lacy layer of wool. They'll be great in the winter. My hands and feet get cold really easily (so does my nose, but wearing a nose-warmer is really reserved for people under eight or so), and something that warm will actually be nice. I'm finishing a pair of socks right now. When I catch up to where I bound off the first sock, I'm going to undo my bind-off, join the other end of the ball of yarn to it, and put it on a second set of needles. I want to use up the entire ball of yarn.

Since I have put most of my yarn in a box, except for a couple projects that went into the knitting bag, the mittens will have to wait. If I start something new, it will be more socks. We're moving in a couple weeks and that means lots of packing. It's happened pretty fast...we gave notice at our current place on Tuesday and officially have a new place as of today. We get our keys on the fifteenth, which gives us lots of breathing room to move in between then and the last day of June. I'm looking forward to moving. Our current apartment isn't bad, and we've been pretty happy here, and the building's gotten better since we got a new manager, but we have been wanting to move for a while.

I was so surprised to find out for sure today. The lack of pets and the non-smoking thing helped, I think. That and the fact that I'm a geeky grad student with a love for language who likes to knit in her spare time, and J. is a geeky soap maker who likes to play board games. When we have people over, they come over for dinner, and we hang out, talk, watch movies, and/or play board games. Or they come over just to play board games. Sometimes my friends come over for tea. We don't do wild drunken parties, and when I play music, I usually turn it down because I think it's too loud when it's at less than half as a loud as it could be. A night out at its craziest might consist of going to a pub. Well, there was my sister-in-law's nineteenth birthday...we went to the casino because she wanted to see what one looked like. We all thought it was boring, left, and went to a pub so we could buy her a drink to celebrate. Anyway, all that to say that we're fairly mild-mannered.

Our soon-to-be home is bigger, it's on a quieter street in a more residential area, there's a park really close by, it has a dishwasher, it has very decent storage space (and shelves!), and the hallways do not reek of cigarette smoke. My allergies will be less severe. The building has an elevator, which will make my family happy. They've volunteered to come and help us move, and I remember the last time they helped us move, my mother wondered why we couldn't find a building with an elevator. And I feel certain that I will not get "The Look" when they see our new building. I got it when we moved into this one. The building is older and looks like it. The new place is also an older building, but either newer than the one we're in, or better preserved. We still have to pay for laundry, but that's okay, because there's a dishwasher. I'm sort of stuck on the dishwasher. It makes me happy. And the kitchen is bigger. J. thinks it's at least a "one butt" kitchen, instead of the half a butt kitchen we have now.

And while I thought we really couldn't get much closer than a block from a liquor store, we will now be less than half a block from a liquor store. This isn't a plus or a minus, just interesting.

All in all, I'm really happy. But I'm not looking forward to boxing up all the books.