19 December 2011

floating

Last night, I had the unusual experience of not knowing what to do with myself. My schoolwork for the semester is finished, and I'm taking a break from academic stuff for the week to let my mind recuperate before I get going on the thesis again (it's the only thing left between me and graduating right now, so I'm determined to complete it this semester). One of my best friends, who usually comes over on Sundays, is visiting family for the holidays, so our weekly dinner and a children's movie didn't happen.

So J. and I felt a little lost last night. I finished a Christmas present. We watched an episode of Firefly (Shindig, fantastic just on the basis Kaylee's dress, not mentioning many other great parts of the episode), played a couple rounds of Ascension (I won), and I got the fruitcake and Christmas puddings started. But the evening still felt weird, like something was missing. No stress from deadlines, maybe.

Today was a little less weird, since there were things to do, but I still feel up in the air. Like reality has been briefly suspended and will come crashing back down to surprise me.

In the meantime, I guess I'll keep knitting.

16 December 2011

My to-do list for this semester has shrunk quite dramatically. I have two things left to finish. Crazy, right? A week ago it was a much longer list.

It's a good feeling, being awake in the middle of the night, working on a paper. Whenever I finish a long paper, I have this weird exhilarated reaction despite the sleep deprivation. Maybe that's what it feels like to have given birth. Also, I may be naturally slightly nocturnal, so being awake in the middle of the night is pretty great on its own (pretty strange for a woman who was afraid of the dark for years when she was a kid and still can't sleep without a light on when alone at night).

Something about the end of the semester usually means that I'm sick. Last spring, I went to a final accompanied by a box of tissues. Today I woke up way early, having gone to bed late and not slept much, because of this cold that I caught from J. Unable to go back to sleep, I managed to finish three assignments, do dishes, go to the doctor to get a prescription renewal, and do a load of laundry, all before noon. This is pretty awesome for me, since mornings and I aren't friends.

I've been working on the paper for a lot of the afternoon and evening. My process with papers is different than my process with fiction. With fiction, I do a lot of drafting and revising. With papers, I do a lot of outlining, note-taking, reading, and thinking, so by the time I sit down to write the paper, the writing itself isn't too hard because I already know most of what I want to say.

I typically don't follow the advice I give tutoring students: get it done early, let it sit, read over it again, have someone else read over it. I wish I did. I'm not organized enough in my personal life to do that (unless it's my thesis, in which case a constant state of revision is pretty normal), and I never have been (hence my untidy home and the fact that I have no idea what I'm serving for dinner tomorrow).

And yet this disorder works for me. Having to rearrange things once in a while works. Not sure why.

12 December 2011

Sometimes it seems like I do better at concentrating in the middle of the night, in the silence of our apartment. J. is asleep in the next room, and the only sounds I hear are the occasional creaks of the heater and my fingers tapping on the keyboard (music can be distracting). My cup of tea has long since gone cold, and I haven't eaten in hours.

I'm taking a break from a project to write for myself for a little while. I'll work on the project until I'm sleepy, and then head to bed. To sleep. When I get up I'll work on the project until it is complete.

We ventured into the mall today, armed with an HBC gift card. It was less scary than I'd anticipated, possibly because it was a Monday evening. My last memories of the mall at Christmas were several years ago, and all I remember was chaos, and needing to lie down afterward because I was dizzy. Large spaces with lots of people still make me a bit dizzy, but thankfully, there weren't too many people there.

When we emerged from the mall, we had a food processor (which I've been longing for, for months--J. said I looked quite the feminist, carrying a food processor with a big smile on my face--I may be a feminist but why that should stop me from making hummus, I don't know), and new underwear, which we both badly need. Not that that's really something to write about on a blog. I mean, seriously, underwear? I must be stuck for ideas if that's what I'm prattling on about. As an aside, has anyone noticed the pricing for men's versus women's underwear? We both got the packaged kind, and his cost quite a bit more than mine, for fewer pairs (one package of 6 for women's was less than a package of 3 for men). J. asserts that it's because his involve more fabric.

On a different note, I have a food processor! I am positively looking forward to making hummus on Wednesday for the Fraser Valley Knitting Guild Christmas party. I don't have to splash partially blended chickpeas all over the kitchen this time. I can try chopping chocolate in it next week when I'm doing Christmas baking and cooking. It's going to be fun. And now I have to figure out how to fit it in the cupboards somewhere (reorganizing the kitchen's on my to-do list next week).

I sound absurdly domestic in this post, and I haven't even talked about my knitting. Oh well. Back to the language project write-up.

03 December 2011

when distraction is fruitful

This is what happens when someone gives me fruit:

There is jam. And jelly. I used to be confused about the difference between the two, but it turns out that jam has actual pieces of fruit in it, whereas jelly is just made of fruit juice. Believe it or not, these are both derived from the same batch of fruit.

My friend Donna has a quince tree, and this year, she gave me some. Quince need to be picked after the first frost, and because they are very hard, letting them ripen is not a bad idea (turns out the process is called "bletting" and it's the same thing you have to do with persimmons--essentially letting them rot until they're ripe enough to eat). I didn't take a picture of the fruit, but they look much like yellow pears. And they smell heavenly, a combination of floral and pear scents (as quince is in the rose family, this is not unsurprising).

I parboiled the fruit so they would be easier to cut up, and then peeled and chopped them. After that, I boiled the chopped fruit like potatoes until it was soft, drained off the water into a separate bowl, and cooked the fruit into jam. That's how tough these things are. I stirred the jam in between reading and trying to work on a project, and then processed it for ten minutes in a hot water canner, which is my standard procedure with jam. The most complicated part of the process is waiting for the jam to cook to the right consistency. I usually don't add extra pectin, so it takes time.

Later that evening, I started on the jelly. I found a recipe so I could figure out the proportion of sugar to juice, and then started it cooking. I think it took over an hour before it was where I wanted it, which let me take advantage of one of quince's other properties.

The tannins in quince, as they break down, render the white fruit pink, and then red. The jam is in the early stages of this, where it's more pinkish-brown (it's supposed to grow more pink with time, even in the jar). But the jelly is crimson.

Even though I know they came from the same fruits, I am still surprised when I look at the jars. Jam-making, as a process, is endlessly exciting for me. It's always a joy when I come out with jars of jam at the end. It feels like magic.

Perhaps it is.

29 November 2011

midnight musings

I'm currently doing the "up in the middle of the night even though I have to get up in the morning" because I'm freaked about the end of term. And possibly other stuff. Not sure. Either way, I keep tossing and turning, wondering if my sore throat indicates the beginning of a cold (in my head, I hear my mother's voice telling me to take zinc lozenges, which taste vile, but head off colds in a marvelous way; I may take her advice tomorrow after tutoring--tutoring with zinc breath would just be yicky), thinking over all I have to do (making a schedule mitigated some of this, thank God--now it looks possible), and trying to talk myself into sleep by going through the imaginary knitting bag (yes, for real...or for made-up).

At any rate, the tension's enough for me to be struggling to relax enough for sleep to happen. I'm up browsing Ravelry, hoping that the cough syrup I just downed to make my throat feel marginally better will make me sleepy enough to go back to bed. If not, I may be the person in the back row of the classroom with the dark circles beneath my eyes and the really awesome finished mittens, zany from reading Shapiro at 2 am (I'd really prefer sleep than finishing the mittens tonight, though, and I'd rather read Shapiro over my breakfast cereal).

Okay, weariness seems to be returning, so I'm for bed, in hopes that I'll stay there this time. Happy dreams!

25 November 2011

pondering

Earlier this week, I braved the chaos that is the thrift store on 50% off day, in search of something with long sleeves. I became what I term "edgy" within a very short space of time. It's the sort of feeling that makes me wonder whether or not I'll be bursting into tears in front of a crowd of strangers momentarily.

It may be the general stress of the end of the semester. It may be something else entirely. Who knows? But the anxiety that lurks beneath everything has resurfaced at intervals this week, and crowded stores are, as I am well-aware, a trigger point for this. Exiting the store and returning home where quiet reigns solved the problem, but the anxiety continued to lurk.

As Black Friday has spread northward, I am celebrating "Buy Nothing Day" almost incidentally. Very little could induce me to enter the mall or most retail outlets today (if, superhero-like, going would prevent a major disaster, then yes, I would go; since going might induce a panic attack, it's better to stay home and attempt to focus on my paper). I don't need to go to the grocery store today, only the library, so buying nothing is a given.

I think Buy Nothing Day is commendable, but there are many days in the year when I do buy things. I go through spates of cleaning out our excess, but the fact remains that I truly do have more than I actually need. This North American problem of acquisition has been debated, constantly, by many people wiser than myself. My own contribution today is my wondering what it accomplishes. Where is what I value? How would I react if I suddenly found myself with drastically fewer items in my possession?

The answer is that I simply don't know. I know that I am far more a product of my culture than I would like to be, and that I sometimes envy my friends who could care less about stuff. I confess an attachment to my stuff. I'm very fond of the books on the shelves, the teacups in the cupboards, and the yarn in the chest. Sometimes, getting rid of old clothes that I don't wear anymore is a wrench. Getting rid of books is even harder, because it feels like getting rid of friends.

Is this attachment to things okay or not? Again, I don't know.

Where is my treasure? And where is my heart?

12 November 2011

thinking about books

In the middle of taking a short break from Deeley's fantastic Four Ages of Understanding (I want to own this book so I can underline and make comments in the margins and muse over it more, and I can't afford it right now as it's out-of-print), I've drifted over to the blog.

Books are a way of life with us. I grew up in a house full of books. If I wanted to read something new, it wasn't hard to find. I didn't even have to go the library (although I did, quite regularly). My own home is full of books, and it seems we're always ending up with more. From where I'm sitting, on the bed in the bedroom, I can count at least nine books on the nightstands and the bed. The bedspread is patterned with books. If I go into the living room, there are three tall bookcases, all pretty much full. There are stacks of books for a paper I'm working on. There are library books on the hallway bookcase, and a bag of library books in the living room. The bookcase in the spare room has a few philosophy books and my small collection of craft books on it.

Yep. We're addicted. I vividly remember my dad grounding me off of reading for an afternoon when I was a kid. It was horrible. I don't remember what I'd done, but I'm pretty sure I never did it again. Six hours without reading was a nightmare.

And on that note, back to the Latin philosophers.

09 November 2011

I'm sitting here at my desk at school, staring out the window occasionally. I'm not entirely sure why I'm exhausted; I just know that I am. I think I slept last night, but apparently it wasn't enough, and the caffeine in my tea isn't doing the trick.

So in my sleepy state of mind, I've been sending emails about fairly important stuff (let's hope I emailed the right marked documents to the right people, since comments on someone else's homework are likely to be less than useful) and trying to figure out money things. I hate money sometimes. Or rather, I hate having to deal with money and not having enough of it to easily handle stuff at any time of the month. The hope is that once I can get a full-time job, this will be less of a problem, as J. and I will then both be working full-time, and neither of us will be paying tuition. Still, sometimes I wish I could pay my tuition with knitting. That'd be good. Also if I could barter baked goods for a working vacuum.

I realize that there are many advantages to a monetary system, but bartering has its charms when you don't have to live with it on a daily basis (as I don't know what it's like when you do).

As I'm retyping sentences and then deleting them, I should probably stop this and try to do something more productive, like homework. If I can stay awake.

17 October 2011

change in the weather

It's October and the temperature's dropping. That can mean only one thing. We're playing Furnace Wars.

Okay, to be honest, it's actually Baseboard Heater Wars, but "Furnace Wars" sounds more dramatic. It's mostly an effort to drop our heating bill this winter, because baseboard heaters use a lot of energy. We're competing with ourselves, since most of our friends don't appear to be that competitive about it.

I'm layering up, with warm socks and sweaters. J. hasn't noticed the cold much yet, because he radiates heat like a miniature star. It's not that cold at the moment, but we're starting to notice the change in the weather in our apartment because we're on the first floor, above the garage, and at the corner of the building, neither of which are locations conducive to just absorbing heat from the neighbours.

This is actually one of my favourite times of the year, because it's cool, crisp, and yet I don't freeze at the bus stop. Bright sunlight doesn't feel oppressive because it's not accompanied by stifling heat, and my habit of drinking hot tea with everything appears sensible. There's the rest of it, too: the leaves change colour, there's squash at the produce store, and it's foggy in the mornings.

But right now, my toes are cold, in spite of the wool socks, and I'm drinking hot tea because it is cool in here. Admittedly, part of me wants to turn on the heater for a little bit. But I won't. Part of the game is to see how long it takes to cave.

16 October 2011

sense of wonder

These thoughts were sparked by a post from here. The topic of surprise quickly leads me to thinking about wonder.

What do we mean when we say that something is "wonderful"? Take the word apart, and you get the idea that we're saying it's "full of wonder." But do we really intend to convey that? What is this thing called "wonder," anyway?

I know what it is to wonder about something. I'm thinking about it, and the sense that I get sometimes is that it's maybe more casual than pondering (possibly not, but work with me here). I'm thinking about an idea, or a topic, and that object of my wondering is something I don't understand. I don't know it. Je le connais pas. This is an unknown that I might not even be able to understand soon.

And in that sense, it is possible that wondering is far more serious than pondering. It's forming ideas. New ideas, about things I don't understand, in an attempt to reach understanding. In the Peircean sense (I've been reading a lot of him lately), it's part of the process of abduction (as compared to deduction or induction; I'm not talking about kidnapping here).

Of course, wondering may not lead me swiftly to understanding. What it will ultimately lead me to, if I allow the process to draw me down its natural path, is a growing sense of mystery. Of awe in that mystery. A respect for the workings of this universe. A desire to learn more. That deep feeling of serenity which tells me of the peace I can't possibly comprehend.

A sense of wonder.

10 October 2011

layers

Because it is so damp around here, wearing layers is a fact of life. It's cooled down enough that I'm starting to do the wool socks, the jeans, the long-sleeved shirt, the jacket, the scarf, and the mitts. Fortunately, it's not cold enough for the thermals yet.

I carried the layering theme over to Thanksgiving this weekend (albeit unintentionally). My family and my husband's family came over on Saturday, and we had lasagna, followed by baklava for dessert. The lasagna comes from my former roommate's husband's recipe--his family is Sicilian and their lasagna is so good that I, a former lasagna-hater, will eat it cold for breakfast. A few years ago, we did lasagna for a family Easter and he made it. It was amazing, and now I associate lasagna with holidays. It's also a simpler meal, in many ways, than the traditional turkey dinner.

The baklava came from the giant bucket of honey that someone gave us. It seemed like a good excuse to go buy walnuts and phyllo dough. Then I realized that dinner was turning into a layered theme. I didn't stretch the theme to a layered salad, because those scare me.

Today is a quiet day after the craziness of the weekend (family visit, Cranberry Festival, Houston Trail, unicycling, and learning to make espresso). I ought to be doing homework and baking bread but I'm still trying to summon up the motivation. Most of me just wants to have a nap.

23 September 2011

Yarn Harvest is tomorrow, and I have butterflies. This year I had the privilege of getting to help out with this event, and while I'm not a primary organizer by any means, I'm still having the anxiety of "will it all come together tomorrow?" If I'm jittery now, I can't imagine how it'll be tomorrow morning. I'll probably have to leave early for 88 Stitches (the carpool I'm going with isn't leaving from there until around 11 am) just to banish the twitches.

Anxiety, of course, is a frequent companion, so I know that it will probably be fine tomorrow, and that tonight I should concentrate on what's happening tonight (weekly movie night, either The Court Jester or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty).

Which means, of course, that I should stop blogging and go unload the dishwasher.

08 September 2011

It's September. Life begins again.

For most of my life, the year has started in September. Even as a homeschooler, the school year started in the ninth month. There is something about this time of year, as summer is slowly (oh so slowly) moving into autumn, that has a special quality to it.

This week has been fraught with ups and downs. There was Labour Day, when friends visited. There was a lot of laughter and talk and it was wonderful to spend time with people I don't see very often. Tuesday was a wretched day, where I pulled up a section of my thesis, wrote a sentence, and then cried about it. Wednesday was better. A friend came over so we could finish up Season 3 of Slings and Arrows and we got into a great discussion about story, writing, and behaviourism.

Today was good. I came home from the first day of classes, zinging with the energy that only comes from well-spoken words and the academic environment. Exposed to Academia, I become giddy from discussions and lectures. It doesn't last, of course. Highs are inevitably followed by crashes. Once the workload piles up next week, I doubt I'll feel as much of the zing.

However, a good story, an interesting discussion, a fascinating article...those can bring it back for a few hours. This is probably why I keep coming back.

23 August 2011

language, theory, and the uncertainty that plagues me

Tonight I was staring at registration for fall courses and when I finally registered for one, I dropped it three minutes later.

I'm required to take the thesis continuation. I know that; it's not a problem. Ideally, I want to finish writing the dratted thing this semester (yes, I love my topic, but I've been thinking about it and making notes for a year, and now I only have a lousy six pages drafted...62-ish to go, because I'm such a procrastinator--I'd wanted to have something like 40 pages written over the summer, which was totally doable, and didn't happen). But I feel sick at the thought of taking another course from the applied stream to fill up my degree requirements. I signed up for the one course that I can take, and then dropped it. What is it with me and classes not from my stream?

Last year, I took a course that I'd never intended to take, simply because it was available and happened to be one of the few classes I could take, and while I did learn some useful things, I intensely disliked most of the course.

Maybe it's just that which is colouring my view, or it could be my preference for analytical linguistics, rather than applied linguistics.

It makes me want to laugh at my eighteen-year-old self, who, when embarking upon her BA, saw non-applied linguistics as "useless" and theory as "boring." She never realized that she'd be specializing in analytical linguistics, and would develop a love for theory. She never thought that the applied branches would turn out to not be as interesting to her as she'd believed they would be (and the one branch that she's beginning to investigate isn't really something she'd thought much about back then, and she still isn't entirely sure about it).

I still feel that theory needs to be sensitive to the realities of language--if it can't be used in understanding real language use, I think that makes it problematic--but it's far from useless. And it's beautiful. An elegant theory is unique in the kind of beauty it creates. Sure, some of them make my head hurt, but what I love is how each one seems to point out interesting aspects of language.

Last spring I started to realize just how interesting semantics can be. It used to be one of the branches of language that made me want to pull my hair out. Some semantic theories still make me want to do that, because they so obviously don't get it, but it's far more intriguing than I'd originally thought.

I want to do a directed study in semantics this fall, but I have no idea if I'll get to. Part of me is beginning to feel desperate about it, because otherwise I'll end up stuck in a course where the focus is more on the Bible translation thing, and less on the linguistics. Not that I think Bible translation is bad (as a Christian, I definitely can't say that). That was my original goal when I ended up at this school. A lot's changed, though.

I'm certain God drew me to linguistics for a reason, but my heart seems to be more with teaching it than with translating the Bible. Let's face it, everything I'm half-way decent at seems to be more in theory and analysis than anything else. I really enjoy getting up and talking about language, or just playing around with language and theory. Greek class? It was okay, but I was always forgetting to do my translation before class, translating on the spur of the moment, and then getting told that my translations were too free (which I still argue is a legitimate translation style).

Add to that God telling me to let go of the mission thing for now and giving me an okay to pursue writing more than I have in the last few years, and I'm sitting here looking at a very different path than the one I envisioned even just four years ago. It's a path I'm okay with, even if it's a little scary.

A part of me has been thinking lately that, once upon a time, it might have been easier to throw myself into the mission and make that the focus, than it would be to really evaluate the whispers I've been hearing for years, the ones that suggest that traditional missions work isn't for us, and that maybe we're supposed to be elsewhere than living overseas somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Those whispers say that my longings and my doubts are there for a reason. That I started writing over ten years ago for a reason. That J. and I are part of our church community for a reason, part of our group of friends for a reason.

So that's where I am now. Evaluating the whispers. I have a few answers. Not many, but I don't need many right now.

02 August 2011

sweater stories

When I learned how to knit, I envisioned myself knitting amazing sweaters that would astound people. The reality was that it took me a while. My first attempt at outerwear resulted in the red vest of shame, which lives a secret life in the bottom of a box. I won't even frog it, because that would be to acknowledge it. The second red vest just didn't fit well, although it looked good by itself. It's waiting to become another red vest. I just haven't had the courage to re-knit it using a different pattern (seeing a trend with red vests?).

So instead, I knit a different sweater. A green one. In seed stitch. Unfortunately, seed stitch stretches. A lot. I should have used smaller needles. The resulting sweater is okay, but not great.

Sweater number three is blue. I love it, I think it's great. It's also very, very warm. And a little too big in one shoulder, so it's a tad lopsided. Other than that, it's much better. People think it looks good, but it still doesn't have the polished look it does in the picture on the pattern page.

The fourth sweater was a sleeveless top/vest. I wear it a lot, more as a vest than as a top. Waist-shaping is a fantastic thing.

The next sweater was black. It ended up a little shorter than I'd hoped, but otherwise, it's not bad. Also very warm. Angora=winter sweater.

There was a sleeveless brown sweater that got knitted up over the winter, and sadly, it's not a terrific sweater, either. The yarn just wasn't the best choice. I don't wear it often. That'll teach me to knit sweaters from super-bulky yarns.

This one is the most recent complete sweater. There's another in progress which I plan to finish this next month, but that'll be a different post. My Adriatic Cardi has turned out well. I can wear it, it's comfortable, it's not too warm or too short, and kettle-dyeing it has added another layer of interest to the sweater. It doesn't look like I might need shoulder pads (blue sweater--but I refuse to use shoulder pads). The sleeves are too long, due to some stuff with the pattern repeat, but that's what the cuffs are for. They fold back.
I've finally hit that "cool sweater" moment. I got comments on it at the library when I was checking out books last week. One of the exciting parts for me is that I knit it in less than a month, which is unheard of.

This month will mostly be a month of finishing things--there's another sweater to finish, a scarf that'll be a gift for someone (still don't know who yet), and some socks. I'm looking forward to it.

25 July 2011

the necessity of daydreams

I freely confess to being a daydreamer. It comes with being an introvert. The world inside my head is just too fascinating to stay out of. This can make me appear absent-minded to those around me, and it also means that if I've been quite for a long time, I may not hear the entirety of what you say to me the first time you say it.

Minor problems aside, it means that it's hard to be bored. Granted, I carry knitting everywhere with me, so staving off boredom isn't a problem (knitting + daydreams is a fantastic combo--then you really have to repeat yourself to get my attention). It's a good way to help myself fall asleep: I just tell myself stories and eventually I drift off.

I can't remember how long I've been telling myself stories, but it's been most of my life. Sometimes I re-live books I've read in my head, but more often I work through stories I've made up, either possibilities for life or possibilities for written stories. If I'm having troubles with a character, I put them into new scenes and hope that'll do the trick.

The story-telling doesn't stop with my daydreams, or with my writing. I love to tell stories to people. My mother's family tells stories whenever they get together (a memorable Easter included 3 people telling the same story from different perspectives all at the same time), and I've just sort of picked that up. It used to embarrass me--my mom would tell stories about me to my teachers or my friends and I'd be standing there rolling my eyes. Now I don't mind so much. If/when I have children, I'll probably embarrass them the same way.

But that's a bit off the path for what I'm attempting to articulate here. I suppose it's that I think stories are essential to the human experience. I realize that not everyone may feel this way, but story-telling is so deeply entrenched in so many human cultures that it's almost inavoidable. Our culture's version of story-telling made up of books and movies and television shows and computer games (the storyline for Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 is surprisingly interesting). My daydreams are just one form that stories can take. They are one of my responses to my need to explain the world around me.

21 July 2011

sweater update

The octopus-shaped sweater is coming on apace. I'm working on the part of the body where you get to knit the front and the back at the same time. Fortunately this very long row only lasts for one repeat of the lace pattern (okay, 24 rows. I'm currently somewhere around row 10) before you divide for the front and the back.

Cutting into my sweater-knitting time is a purse sock. I started it on Saturday, when we were going to be spending much time on the bus (visit to Vancouver and Lonsdale Quay), and I didn't want something large, like the sweater, with me.

I like purse socks. A purse sock is a sock that fits into my purse (the back pocket is reserved for knitterly objects), and preferably is not too complicated. A purse sock may have charts, but it's easier if it doesn't. This purse sock is a plain, top-down, stockinette sock made from self-striping yarn. I can do a plain, toe-up, stockinette sock from memory (for a given stitch count, granted, but working on that), and now it turns out that I can remember how to do a top-down sock heel from memory, too (yes, I only carry it in my purse, so I only work on it on the bus, at the bus stop, and occasionally at school, and I'm already past the heel).

Once upon a time I thought stockinette socks were boring. I've changed my mind. They don't capture my fancy like the intricate ones do, but their simplicity is not boring. It's soothing. Relaxing. I can think about other stuff and knit them at the same time. This will help me fulfill my quest to replace all my store-bought socks with handknit ones. I'm getting there.

But tonight at knit night, I will be knitting on the sweater. I have a deadline (the 31st, before midnight).

14 July 2011

it may be an octopus

In the words of a friend who recently saw me working on this: "WHAT are you knitting?"

Contrary to appearances, it is not part of an octopus, nor is it a fancy, lacy loincloth. It will be a sweater when it is complete. This is only half of it, minus the bottom ribbing and the button bands, of course.

This, of course, is what happens when, after mulling over the sweater patterns in the latest Interweave Knits, I finally decide that I actually want to knit at least one of the sweaters in the book, and this coincides with my getting a sweater's worth of yarn in the guild swap (I also came home with a lot more sock yarn). In the normal way of things, I don't really want to knit sweaters out of Interweave. I'm more interested in their hat and sock patterns, and I lean towards independent designers when it comes to sweater patterns.

This issue, however, I came to the conclusion that I would like to knit at least two of the sweater patterns in the magazine, which is unprecedented for me (not that I've knit that many sweaters). So the Adriatic Cardi and the Coral Cardigan got added to my queue (coincidentally, I actually had the yarn for knitting them).

This is the Adriatic Cardi. The unusual construction caught my eye, as did the simplicity of the finished product. It's captured my fancy enough that my plan is to finish it before the end of the month so I can submit it as this month's homework for the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry (why, yes, I am a geek, how nice of you to notice). I'm going for a yardage bonus, plus extra effort for the fact that once the sweater is done, I'm overdyeing it so it'll be a nice shade of green, instead of the more blah beigey-brown (in an attempt both to knit a sweater more quickly than usual, and to live up to the name of Ravenclaw). Basically, this is the only thing I've been knitting for the last two weeks, except for the occasional round on the sock in my purse.

I'm looking forward to the day, hopefully in about a week and a half, when I can sew the seams so it'll turn into something that resembles a sweater. Also, blocking it will make it look like a sweater for me, not a cardigan for a lamp post.

01 July 2011

We have been without internet at home for the last week, which is why I haven't gotten around to posting anything this week. We're still waiting for the new modem to arrive, since the old one died (the green lights turned red and it refused to acknowledge our internet connection). The complexities of modern life are making me feel like a spoiled child whose toy has been taken away. "But I want the internet!"

I can use the internet at school, so I can do some things there, but it feels frivolous to be doing much more than checking my email there for some reason. Maybe because it's my workplace. Most of my fellow students don't feel that way, and happily check facebook and play goofy online games in-between checking their email and working on homework. Right now I'm at the Starbucks around the corner from my home, drinking chai and using their internet. It feels okay to be checking Ravelry, etc here.

Irritation aside, there are some nice things about being internet-less. There are fewer things to distract me (not that I cease to be distracted, of course. It's a good thing I'm not ADD or I'd never get things done). There are things I've missed, of course. Like webcomics. Maybe I am just frivolous.

24 June 2011

After the stash swap on Wednesday at the guild meeting, I now have more sock yarn. Yes, I brought some of my larger sock yarn leftovers to swap, and people took them, but other people brought more sock yarn, so I came home with lots. I finally have a ball of Trekking XXL to try--I've been wanting to give it a go but hadn't bought any. I even came home with enough wool for a sweater. I guess I have to admit that I am a yarn addict.

I'm still adjusting to my new schedule. Mostly this means that I am more tired than usual. I still have the inability to fall asleep quickly, but I have to get up an hour and a half earlier. Not that that's terribly important for any readers here--just that I am currently writing this while consuming my morning tea before I've woken up properly.

The only random thing that comes to mind that might be funny to share is that yesterday, J. dropped a jar of salsa on the floor in the kitchen. It went sploosh. He started cleaning it up, but I wasn't much help because I said something, then said, "I just said a phrasal verb! I have to go write that down!" (Look, there's another one!) So I ran to find some paper and a pen and wrote down the phrase. Then a moment later, something else popped out of my mouth which was also a phrasal verb, so instead of immediately getting the vacuum out for him, I wrote down another sentence, and then fetched the vacuum.

Yep. My priorities are language first, glass on kitchen floor second.

11 June 2011

sock mix up

Today I started two socks. I was at the orientation sessions today, which were fun, and I grabbed a ball of yarn before I left and cast on for a toe-up sock at the bus stop. The pattern has a textured cuff and a stockinette foot, so I figured I'd work on the foot. I knitted during odd moments of the day, finished the toe, and got a respectable amount of the foot finished. Then it hit me, at the bus stop on the way home.

It was the wrong yarn. This yarn was supposed to be for a pair of cabled socks. A different colour of the same kind of yarn was what I had intended to grab. So this evening I unraveled it and cast on the other socks; I've been planning to start them sometime this month anyway.

It wasn't wasted time. I learned that the colourway looks good. And what I wanted was something to help calm me down, and that's what it did.

Still. Drat.

09 June 2011

Yesterday seemed like a day that wouldn't be too exciting. I was wide-awake at six, so I went jogging (gasp, yes, really!). That seemed like it would be the most interesting thing to happen. Then, while I was at the farmer's market, waiting in line to buy tomatoes, my cell phone rang.

I've been lamenting the lack of structure in my life, and my inability to create enough structure to prevent my going a little crazy. This week's been pretty good as far as things go, which is nice, but it's still not at the point I'd like it to be.

Now I'm going to have structure, which is exactly what I needed to help me get going with the writing.

The call was about a TA position I'd applied for, hadn't gotten, and was now being offered. I said yes immediately, without even asking what the class was. Fortunately, it's one that I like. Since it's a morning class, I will have to be up and awake in the mornings, and I will be back in Academia. I was so excited I forgot to buy tomatoes and practically floated home.

This was one solution to my writer's block (or whatever it is--writer's lack of motivation?) that hadn't occurred to me, so I hadn't even prayed about it. Prayer gets answered in unusual ways.

03 June 2011

musings on a retreat

*Note: I don't usually write about God and my faith on here. I've avoided that, but I want to be able to share more of my thoughts than I usually do; I'm tired of just writing about my knitting projects. Knitting doesn't usually bring me to think more deeply, and this does (I hope). So here goes.

Last weekend, I went on my church's Women's Retreat. I was too afraid to go last year, afraid to step out of the familiar. This year, willing to face the challenge of the unknown, even for a couple of days, I managed to go, although before I left I was pacing up and down and trying to convince myself that I didn't really have to go. But I was packed, and we were past the refund date, so when the buzzer rang, I picked up my bag and headed down the stairs.

My experience with retreats has been mixed over the years. There's the retreat center that my family went to every year, which was a second home for me. I worked there for a couple of summers and the place has an indefinable sense of peace about it. Even J. noticed it the one time we managed to go there together. In the last few years, the retreats I've been on haven't been so great. I was overwhelmed by the number of people I didn't know, and not terribly excited to be there in the first place, so I would spend the afternoon free time sleeping.

This time, I was determined to avoid doing that. I wanted to actually listen to the message of the retreat, and hopefully get to know people's names. I don't do that much socializing at church because the fellowship hall area is so noisy that I flee from the sound.

I wanted to listen this time, and try to be more open. My sense of panic ebbed and flowed during the weekend. Sometimes it was because I needed to pray about something (fitting, since the theme of the retreat was prayer), and sometimes it was simply my anxieties rising up again. An odd side-effect of my anti-depressants at the beginning was the occasional panic attack, and that sometimes resurfaces when I'm stressed. I managed it better than I'd expected, though; other than the moment before I'd left when I seriously considered staying home, I didn't have any terrible panic moments, and I was able to quiet my thoughts quite a bit.

Retreats always seem out of time to me, like the few short days there are something else entirely, not part of the normalcy of life, even though when I return, I bring back what I thought about. The pages of notes, when I look them over, surprise me now, less than a week later.

I'm open with a number of people about my depression, but not with others. I think I've mentioned it on here before, but I don't remember. If not, well, here it is. It's been a strange journey. When I remember where I was a year ago, I thank God that I finally got myself together enough to get help. It didn't really happen until the whispers in my ear grew too loud to ignore. Counseling helped some, and when autumn came last year it was as though I'd been released--the first rainfall was a restoration. It was one which didn't last, of course. By December I was back where I'd been, and I was falling apart once more. A month or two later, my counselor once more suggested medication, which initially I'd been very reluctant to consider. When God finally shook me into going, I managed to hold myself together at the doctor's as I described what was happening, rather than dissolving into tears, and he listened. It took a couple weeks for the medication to start working, and then, all of sudden, the whispers were quiet. In the past, they'd always gone away on their own, but it had been over a year this time, and it had just been getting worse, until now. I began to wonder if I should have gotten help years ago.

Some days are still pretty bad. Others are good. Most are mixed, like today. It came to me at the retreat that there is something good that can come out of this. Is this a discipline in faith? I'm not saying that God gave me depression to give me faith, but that out of my brokenness, out of my awareness of my own inadequacy, can He bring me to a deeper faith, a better sense of trust?

I'm not always good at keeping up with a prayer life. I talk to God, but I don't always listen to what He's saying. Sometimes all I find myself asking for is grace. Or for healing, for myself or for others. I don't like feeling broken, but if this is what it takes to bring me closer to the God I want to love and serve, then so be it. Christ, have mercy. And bring me into a better understanding of Your love.

26 May 2011

If Tuesdays are for spinning, Thursdays must be for staring at the computer, lacking inspiration for writing. If I can write one page on phrasal verbs today, I'll be happy. Actually, that sounds like a possible accomplishment. I can do that. Once I've started some laundry and cleaned the bathroom.

I'm leaving on a weekend retreat tomorrow, and I'm working on figuring out what knitting to bring with me. I'm finishing up my sleeves for Fireside today (on the sleeve caps!), but I'm not sure if casting on one of the fronts is the best idea. The other thought is to cast on Hunter Hammersen's beautiful Afshari tomorrow morning (I bought Silk Road Socks a while ago and have been wanting to start a pattern from there. The difficulty has been picking the pattern, since they're all amazing). I have three hours in the car on the way there, and most of the afternoon on Saturday, if I decide not to go kayaking or hiking. The weather will determine that.

I could also cast on something in stockinette stitch, but I'm not sure if I really want to do that (although striped toe-up socks would be simple). I just ripped out a shawlette that I started on Tuesday because it was going wonky and I wasn't sure what was wrong. The yarn and the pattern were blah together, too. Maybe I should just overdye the yarn and start over. Or I could add beads. That might help.

In the meantime, to the laundry!

21 May 2011

It was one of those days. Quiet, grey, sleepy. The kind of day where I just wanted to sink down onto the couch and not move because I felt so dreary. Fortunately I have J. and he's a little more animated than I am, although he was sleepy, too.

The one thing I managed to properly accomplish today was re-organizing the kitchen cupboards that function as our pantry. We have a lot of cream of wheat that I didn't realize was there. J. doesn't like it so I'm pretty sure I'm going to be the one eating it for breakfast. There was also an additional carton of molasses. Sadly, it's cooking molasses, which tastes too sharp because of the sulphur, but I can still bake with it. I made a list of everything except the spices and stuck it to the inside of the cupboard door so I can check things off as they're used up. And we now have a section of another cupboard which is completely empty. I have a smoothie maker/blender thing to get rid of now (it doesn't work very well for blending and we don't really do smoothies; I'd prefer a proper blender or a food processor, and in the meantime we have this hand-powered thing that works well for smaller amounts of things, or for larger amounts if you don't mind splattering yourself with hummus or whatever it is--I tried to use it to chop up chocolate back at Christmas and was rewarded with chocolate in my eye--turns out the eyes do not have tastebuds so chocolate in the eye just hurts like getting anything else in your eye), and possibly a few extra teacups. Then I can get a tortilla press and not feel guilty about buying a kitchen gadget (it can double as a pastry or pita or naan press, too).

And...I was going to think of something clever to write, but it's not happening, so I'll go make roll dough for tomorrow and then go sleep. Good night, all.

16 May 2011

Today Value Village was having one of its 50% off sales. I went and bought jeans. I tend to buy one pair of pants, wear them as frequently as possible, and thus wear them out quickly. Sometimes I have two pairs. Lately, I have had one pair of jeans and a pair of brown pants which were a little too big. I can take them off without undoing the button or zipper, and I don't have a belt that fits them. So I've been wearing my one pair of jeans a lot and they are showing signs that soon they will rip in an awkward place. I'm trying to wear skirts more but the weather keeps discouraging me.

Anyway, I went and found two pairs of jeans this time, so I can rotate wearings and hopefully keep them longer. I also found a scarf with a wacky woven pattern. Scarves seem to be my latest thing. I love them. They keep me warm, and given that it's cool and wet outside, I'm still in need of warm things.

This is why I should complete my Fireside Cardigan. I'm going to finish the back today and I plan to cast on the sleeves, which I want to knit at the same time so I can be sure I've got the same number of repeats done. I'd love to have it complete by next weekend, when I'm off on a retreat, but that seems unlikely. I am supposed to be doing research and keeping our home clean, and I don't really know if I can knit most of a sweater in two weeks. We'll see.

03 May 2011

where did April go?

April wasn't a good knitting month. The first couple weeks were taken up with finishing papers for school and then marking the last few assignments that came in. There were some days of me panicking about schoolwork, freaking out about the work I have to do over the summer, and being anxious about my schedule change.

The last couple weeks vanished somehow into a vortex where I caught up on sleep (as I caught a nasty cold just before mid-month; I attended a final accompanied by a box of tissues), and read books. I love to read and I always make time for reading, even during the busiest parts of the term, but after I finished my final, I stopped at the library on the way home. I spent the rest of the day in bed, sniffling, coughing, drinking tea to soothe my throat, and reading.

I did some spring cleaning. We hosted Easter dinner at our place. I went to UBC with a friend and did some research (and I have to head back there next week to return books). I'm in the process of settling into a routine where I work on my thesis in the morning and then clean and do other stuff in the afternoon.

The thesis is slowly taking shape. I have a new outline, new sources to look for, and a much clearer idea of where I'm headed. There's a rough draft of the proposal in the works, too. It's going to be a lot of work. I find myself reading articles, checking their reference lists, and adding the odd source to my list of things to find and read. Part of me wonders if I'm ever going to finish it, but the rest of me hopes that I'll have it pretty much complete by the end of the summer.

The knitting, as I said, has been happening slowly. I finished a potholder on Sunday. Tonight I'll finally finish a pair of socks for my grandmother. I'm nearly done with the back of a sweater I started in February. Only two fronts and two sleeves to go! I also started crocheting a lap blanket as a gift for someone, but that's not done yet. I know crochet's faster, but I have a harder time counting my stitches in crochet.

In addition to that, I have two sweaters and a poncho to finish frogging. I picked up a light tan cashmere sweater a while back and had taken it apart but hadn't finished frogging it. Since it's lace-weight, I was going to ply it on the wheel so it would be a fingering weight, and then overdye it. The second sweater is a teal cotton, picked because this pattern I want to knit was designed for cotton yarn. The poncho is red linen and it is unraveling beautifully. Simple seams. Gotta love them. With the cashmere, there's figuring out how to take off the pockets, and how to undo the seams as carefully as possible, and with the cotton, there's figuring out how the collar was put on, since it needs to come off before the shoulder seams can be undone. The poncho, in comparison, is easy. The seams were sewn with thread, not with the yarn itself, and the yarn unravels very nicely.

With my spinning, things were at nearly a standstill last month. I have to finish spinning what's on the wheel right now, I have silk roving on my top-whorl spindle, and silk hankies that will need plying on my takhli. I'm thinking about spinning the camel roving on my Turkish spindle, but I think it's going to stay in its bag for now, until I get some of the other stuff done.

In the meantime, I should probably finish the last four rows on those socks.

15 April 2011

Wow, it's been a while since I've written anything for the blog. I am still alive, I've just been busy with school.

The knitting been pretty slow and the spinning's been at a standstill. I've managed to get through another repeat of the cable pattern on my Fireside cardigan, and I'm at the heels for the socks I'm knitting for my grandma. That's it.

Spinning-wise, I have some merino on the wheel that I need to finish up. I think I'll leave it as a single, so I'll just need to wind it into a hank and wash it.

There's the silk on my top-whorl drop spindle; that's going slowly because I haven't been spinning, but I love it. That's going to stay as a single as well.

There are some silk hankies that I'm going to spin up on my takhli. Those are spinning up so fine that I'm going to have to ply them.

The next project on the wheel is a frogged cashmere sweater. It's two-ply, so I'm going to add some twist to the yarn and then ply two strands of it together so I'll have something closer to fingering weight. I'm going to over-dye it, since it's beige. It'll probably end up being green.

And that's...about it for now.

27 March 2011

Fibres West, part 1: the yarn

While I did manage to go to Fibres West last weekend, for some reason it took me a while to get around to writing about it. This will be a two-part post, because I haven't taken pictures of the fiber yet.

What I typically do at events like this is walk around for a bit--make the rounds, get an idea of what's out there. Then I start buying things. I had brought a bag, a limited amount of cash, and a list. While I did stick to the list (sort of), I did buy a few unplanned things. For example, it was mostly fiber on my list, not yarn. I think the only yarn-thing on there was the vague "solid-coloured sock yarn." Then I went to Fun Knits, which had everything on sale, and saw this:


It was so pretty. I knit a shawl with Kauni last summer, using the colourway that goes from red to darker red. It's good shawl yarn, and the skeins are fairly generous in size. So I bought a skein of Kauni, unplanned. I don't know what shawl it's going to be yet. I have a few things in my queue on Ravelry. It'd be awesome for the "Heere Be Dragones" shawl, but I don't think it's enough yarn, and I think I want that one to be a single colour. It might end up as another Estonian lace shawl. We'll see.

Fun Knits also had sock yarn. I like to try new brands of sock yarn, so I bought this. It's solid in colour, and it's a nice shade of teal. It's actually a little greener in hue than the picture makes it out to be.

Later, on another walk-through with some friends who had just gotten there, I noticed something that I had missed my first time through the Fun Knits booth. I wound it up in balls at the Guild's table, so you can't see how it looked in a hank (but it was pretty). This is Hacho, by Mirasol yarns. It's wool, it's DK-ish weight, and I loved the colours, even though I'm not usually a fan of variegated.

It being so pretty and all, I just couldn't resist casting on, so it became this:

That's right. I knit a Multnomah in about a week. It's good bus knitting. Because of the yarn weight, I did fewer repeats than the pattern specified, which is good, because I nearly ran out of yarn while casting off and had to take out my bind-off and do one that used less yarn.

Other cool things about Fibres West: I got to watch someone making bobbin lace. Gorgeous. Amazing. Apparently there are two basic movements in bobbin lace, not unlike knitting. She said the pattern she was working on was easy, but then I asked her how long she'd been doing this. "Fifteen years," she said. It's something I'd love to learn but I don't have time for now.

I drooled over a spinning wheel with a lace attachment--it was cheaper than you'd expect, but still out of my price range. Then I drooled over a Knitter's Loom. Still out of my price range. I looked at some hand-carved Turkish spindles, the small, light-weight kind. More than I wanted to spend for a single spindle that day. I love my Turkish spindle, but it is heavier than I'd prefer sometimes.

Then I drifted over to Knitopia to look at their spindles. And with that, I'll stop until I have more pictures.

15 March 2011

I had a presentation in a class today. We're asked to get up and do 10-15 minutes on our paper topics for the semester. This actually isn't too hard, as I've done this a number of times in other classes since starting this program. It's not as scary as it used to be. But my professor asked me, as he was walking into the classroom today, if I'd go first. "Sure," I said, thinking it would be like the other days have been--he lectures for a while and then the presenters talk. Nope. First meant beginning of class first. This was actually a good thing. No time to get nervous. I just got up there and talked about meaning and metaphor. Tomorrow I have to get up in a different class and talk about focus. I still have to finish working on that.

Time was, I used to get so nervous I would shake like a leaf. When I took a speech class in high school, the first time I got up to talk, I burst into tears (and at 16, that's pretty embarrassing). I'll never forget the way the teacher handled it. I sat down, humiliated, and my teacher gets up and says, "Anna's got what about 70% of us also have: a fear of public speaking. This is normal. It's okay." He didn't make me feel worse--instead he talked about how this happens to a lot of people, and it would be all right in the end. And it was. I was confident enough by the end of that year that I could get up and wing it--just talk about a subject without having much prepared at all. It was great.

Of course, practice helps, I've learned. First time I taught an ESL class, my hands were trembling when I started talking. The more times I have to speak in front of other people, the better I get (I know this is sort of a duh thing, but it's helpful for me to remember it).

These days I save my fear of other people for large social occasions. Those seem more terrifying than giving a speech. (Oh, look Fibres West this weekend...but social occasions with knitty people are usually easier).

01 March 2011

So we are back from our trip to Portland (as of a few days ago, but I just keep forgetting that I have a blog where I can write about things so that total strangers may or may not read what I have written). I don't have pictures of the yarny stuff I bought yet because I haven't gotten around to it, but I did buy some things.

I went to Twisted, which was amazing. I found them because I'd been looking up yarn stores in Portland, and they had a great website. They actually had the tiny needles I'd been wanting. And they sell tea! Knitting and tea--two of my biggest vices under one roof. How could I resist? My mom and I met one of her friends there and after I'd wandered around for a while, touching everything, we had tea. I had a kind called "Captain Hammer's Corporate Tool Tea." Flavoured with apples and caramel. It was delicious (and I'm not much of one for flavoured teas most of the time). Sadly, the people who sell it seem to be in Illinois, so if I want more, I'll have to buy it online (and send it to my friend in Washington because their shipping rates to Canada are pretty impressively steep). The shop itself is very roomy, there are lots of places to sit, and, what I especially liked, there were loads of samples. I even got to see the Swirl Shawl in person (I may need to knit that someday). The people were really friendly, too. Anyway, after I wandered around the shop, I managed to pick up a few things.

I now own a set of steel Hiya Hiya DPNs. They are 6 inches long and 1.5 mm in diameter. Once I finish some of the stuff I'm working on right now, I will try them out on a sock project. They look tiny, and they weren't even the smallest ones there.

Also on my list was spinning silk. I've been wanting to branch out from wool and silk is pretty. I got 4 ounces of silk roving in a shade of crimson labelled "True Blood." It's Bombyx roving from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I'm a little nervous about working with it, because it's so pretty already, and I know I want a fairly fine yarn. I'm debating between my Turkish spindle and my top whorl at the moment for spinning it up. Katelyn the spinning wheel is lovely but she's a double-drive, and since I'm just learning to handle a different fibre, I don't think the take-up speed will be a good thing (normally I love it).

I picked up a couple balls of Panda Cotton for making socks for my grandmother. She has very small feet, so I know I can get 2 pairs out of 100 grams. I'm on sock number 2 at the moment.

Lastly, I found some Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn on sale. The only shade they had left was apricot, so that's what I got. It's not usually my favourite colour, but it's growing on me. They had a lot of Louet Gems fingering but I didn't really feel like buying a skein, since I already have one that I haven't knit up yet (so I don't know if I like it or not).

We also dropped by Make One, which is in my hometown, just by the library where I used to be a volunteer. It's newish. I wandered around and found that they carry some Knitpicks products, so I ended up getting my chart holder after all (yay!).

J. and I went to Powell's and found some books, too (they actually had something by Peirce!). Mostly we hung out with my family, which was fun and relaxing. One morning my parents and J. and I walked over to Bob's Red Mill to get muffins for breakfast. Another day Mom and I walked over to my grandparents' house. It snowed a bit while we were there, just like it did up here.

Despite how good it was to see my family, it's really nice to be back home. Home is where you can leave your socks on the floor and not feel bad about it (unless company's coming over or if you are more into things being really tidy, which I am not).

For some reason, my body has decided that bedtime is now somewhere around 9 pm. I'm getting sleepy already, so I'm going to think about drifting off towards bed. Good night!

14 February 2011

So, I had one of those moments where I was pretty dang happy with my knitting self. Last Wednesday (the 9th), I cast on the toe of a sock because my mind didn't want to concentrate on reading anymore. I finished the toe and then I had a three hour class. I took the sock with me. I finished the sock and cast on the second one on Friday night. Then I bound off the second sock on Sunday afternoon (that was yesterday, the 13th).

Yes, that's right. I, Anna the crazy knitter, knit an entire pair of socks in less than a week. I can't do the very awesome thing that the Yarn Harlot just did, because I'm just not that fast of a spinner and a knitter, but I'm very happy with myself (also, I'm happy with myself because I managed to finish a reading report tonight instead of tomorrow morning--I'll take my victories where I find them).

Granted, these were plain stockinette socks. Very simple. No wonder people knit stockinette socks. They're like instant knitting gratification. I forgot to take a picture before I wore them and then washed them, but I'll try to post a picture once they're dry. I managed to get the stripes to match up, which is always nice.

I finished a sleeveless sweater, Shalom, last week, too. I finally got the buttons on yesterday. It's comfy but not exactly fashionable. It'll be the sort of thing I wear around the house and possibly to knit night and maybe to the grocery store.

And now I've hit a bump in my fast knitting, because on the needles I have:

The Tibetan Clouds Shawl, which I'm finally in a mood to work on, and for which I require the chart, and which have beads.
The Glass Slippers Socks, which have mini-cables, which are lovely and dainty, and for which I require the chart.
and, last but not least, the Fireside Sweater, which has large cables for which I require the chart, and also which, despite swatching, I keep having to frog and start over because apparently my actual size (based on the one listed on the pattern, at least) is too big and I need to go down one or two sizes (I have read in other people's project notes that this has happened before, so it may not be me--it may be the pattern sizing).

I'm thinking of starting a cowl just so I have something to knit on the bus.

09 February 2011

Random thought of the day: Some of the X-mas gifts this year included several lotions from the Body Shop. They're very nice, although scent-wise, I could take or leave most of them (the strawberry one is a little too much how I would expect Strawberry Shortcake to smell if cartoons were scented), but the mango one is amazing. For some reason, it makes me want to go get frozen yogurt, and frozen yogurt is something I never crave. Since we're out of yogurt, frozen or otherwise, I'm eating frozen blueberries.

* * * * *
In other thoughts...I wish I could write the kind of poetry I love the best. Free verse turns out to be very difficult to write. When I listen to a reading of a good poem, all the words flow and sing. Anyone can write a sonnet (whether it's a good sonnet or not isn't the question), but free verse that excels? That's truly challenging.

I suppose that means that I should practice.

07 February 2011

I'm not a morning person. I've had moments in my life where I could pull it together in the mornings, but this morning doesn't seem to be one of them. I just want to go back to sleep, and instead, I have to leave in fifteen minutes and I haven't decided whether I need a jacket or a heavy coat yet (okay, jacket it is, based on what the weather report says) and the fact that it isn't raining outside.

Maybe it's because I had one of those nights where I thought I would never fall asleep, and then when I did, I had really strange dreams punctuated by waking up at intervals. I really should start writing these down. Some of them might make good short stories. I dreamed the other night that I was going to have twins, and I was due the next day, and we didn't have anything ready (no bottles, no baby clothes, no diapers), and I hadn't knit anything, and I was trying to knit a baby blanket at the last minute...and all I had was scarlet eyelash yarn. The knitter's nightmare.

When thinking it over, the part that sticks out most is the yarn. I have no eyelash yarn in the stash. I have never had eyelash yarn in the stash (although, come to think of it, if I did, I might go for red, since it's a great colour). I have this kind of yarn that will make a ruffled scarf (which I'm thinking about starting soon), I've used ribbon yarn, and I've had boucle yarn (which I didn't like that much but I was knitting on needles that were too small for it), but I don't knit with the novelty stuff very frequently. I want to try chenille some time if I can find the type that has enough wool in it so it can felt, because pictures I've seen of that are really neat.

Anyway, enough of a digression. Time to find my shoes.

29 January 2011

Like so many days in January, today is wet and grey. When I look out the window, I see a greyish-white sky, with no hint of blue. The wind is blowing, and it's raining occasionally. I hear people talking about the weather, about how depressing it is, how it weighs on them, how they miss the sunshine.

When I go for a walk in the rain, I don't mind the wetness. I don't mind the grey skies. When I lift my face to the sky and I feel the rain coming down, I feel hope well up in me. Yesterday, it was raining steadily as I walked home from the bus stop, and the wetness felt wonderful. It wasn't so cold that the rain was deeply chilling. Instead, it was invigorating.

Over the summer, it was all sunshine and scorching heat. No rain. Few clouds. I hid indoors when I could and despaired because it seemed as though autumn would never come. Heat drains me of energy, and bright sunlight makes me close my eyes to shield them. The combination is wrenching. I grow unhappy in the summer, and for some reason, it's harder to handle than on the days when the sky is grey. I miss the rain, and I hide in the shade of trees.

The first day at the end of the summer when the skies opened and it poured down rain, I went for a walk, lifting my face to the rain.

It felt like a benediction.

17 January 2011

The semester just started last week. I think several trees have died as a result of the photocopying I've already had to do (the prof I TA for always uses paper handouts, and I had to photocopy a 60 page article to put on reserve, plus it seems like there's always a new handout for class, even when we haven't finished the last one. I'm not complaining, mind, since the photocopier is usually my friend--except for the time last week when the server had crashed and I was trying to scan something). Given the reading schedules for my classes, plus all the marking and reading responses I'll be doing, I think I can definitely state that I will not be committing to anything more this semester than I'm already committed to.

Last Tuesday, I went to language philosophy class. When your professor walks in, and he's wearing a tweed jacket, he has sideburns, and he starts by reciting a Dylan Thomas poem, you just know it's going to be a good class. Sadly, tonight I've been bogged down in Lakoff's thing on objectivism, and an excerpt from Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I've read Kuhn before, and while I understand him better now, I still don't agree with all of what he says. Fortunately this time, I have more intelligent reasons for disagreeing with him. Last time it was because I was so sick of trying to wade through what he was saying. I'm not too keen on objectivism, either. After reading that I wanted to go back and hide in the excerpt from Confucius' Analects on language and names. I still really love the class. I just want to read all the fun stuff on how awesome language is, and not read the people who have drastically influenced linguistics with all their formal, true/false, dualistic, "we're objective" stuff. Which is important, certainly, but it can be boring. And language shouldn't be boring. Language is---well, when I have a better-formulated concept of what is, I'll get back to you---truly incredible.

In the meantime, I've been doing that thing where I start a lot of random projects because I'm feeling jumpy. I finished a double-knit hat and a pair of mitts this weekend, I'm closer to finishing a pair of stranded colourwork mittens, and I have one sock out of a pair finished. I also started a sweater. And I finished the first half of a pair of mitts for a friend. Yeah. I know. I'm probably a little nuts. And on that note, good night.

03 January 2011

Way back in July, I found a sweater at a thrift store. It was black and beautifully soft. And yet this sweater was not exactly pretty (baggy and dowdy with buttons that didn't match the fabric). I brought it home and carefully unraveled it, deciding that it would be the sweater to match the very cool steampunk buttons I'd bought in April. So I swatched and I cast on, and then the heat wave hit. Did I mention that the sweater was a blend of wool, nylon, and angora? I set it aside until the weather cooled down.

Then, what with one thing and another, such as work, and school, and other projects, the sweater grew in fits and starts. Finally I said, "I'm getting this thing done by December 23rd (the day we were leaving to visit family)." And I did. The sleeves suddenly turned out to be not so hard to knit, and the last bit--attaching the sleeves and working the raglan decreases, went quickly. Several days before the 23rd, I bound off the last stitch and wove in the last ends. Then I blocked and jumped impatiently up and down while waiting for it to dry, and sewed on the buttons.


It is soft and warm and comfortable, and I like it very much. It's a sweater that makes you want to pet it, because it's made out of bunny hair. And I love the buttons, although they are a tad large for the button band.

After that, it was time to pack for our bus journey north. I thought very carefully about the projects to take along. We were leaving on the 23rd and returning on the 29th; we would be gone for less than a week. In the end, I packed J's scarf (which I finished on the 2nd and when I have a decent picture, I will put one up) and the beginnings of a second sock. Then, almost as an afterthought, I added the yarn for a pattern I've been meaning to do for quite some time. I printed out the instructions and the errata, highlighted all the rows which contained errata, and put them in my backpack.

That night, on the bus, I pulled out a crochet hook and started chaining.

I actually started this whole crazy yarn thing with trying to crochet. I was doing what I thought was single crochet and actually turned out to be slip stitch. Then I learned how to knit and I dropped the crochet hook.

One day, I checked out Wrap Style from the library. This is a book of mostly knitted patterns, with variations on what a wrap is. A little crocheted shawl, Chanson En Crochet, caught my eye and I lamented the fact that it wasn't knit, because I was hopeless at crochet.

What with one thing and another, I left things there until last January, when I finally figured out what I was doing wrong with crochet. I made a few dishcloths, picked up the yarn for the shawl when some stuff I liked was on sale this summer, and then the yarn sat in my stash.

No longer. (Actually, there's still some in the stash...a ball and a half....because the pattern lied about the yardage requirements). A few days before we left my in-laws' home, I had this:

I can crochet. But I'm not going to be trading in my needles for hooks. I can crochet, and it's an interesting exercise because it's so different, but it just doesn't feel as intuitive as knitting does. A lot of crochet patterns just don't appeal to me (not to knock crochet, since a lot of knitted patterns just don't appeal to me either; I've just found more knitted patterns that I like than crocheted ones). And knitting feels more versatile, in some ways. But I need no longer fear the crochet when I find a pattern that I like. Next on the list for crochet is broomstick crochet, since that just looks cool.

I'm learning to be as fearless with other crafts as I've been with knitting. This is a good thing (the whole fearlessness quest is a longer story than I really want to get into).

In the days following the completion of the shawl, I have finished J's Space Invaders scarf and a pair of slippers for someone at church, and gotten to the gusset on the socks I want to finish. There's one mitten left out of a pair to complete, and then I'm pulling two projects out of hiatus. A lace shawl and a pair of stranded mittens that I started last winter. I may start a sweater, too, but we'll see. I have to knit at least a few rounds on the shawl first. I really ought to finish what I've started, especially since I still like the patterns.