Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Miserable White

The thing about living here is that the weather changes suddenly and drastically, and wholly unpredictably. There is no way the weather man can be accurate, and they pepper their forecasts with a little of everything – something HAS to be right!

Winter seemed to be taking its time getting here. Then one morning, it was here! Suddenly, without warning, it just arrived, and has no intention of leaving. One morning, as I awakened to the sounds of the daybreak show on the radio, I hear them talking about “the snow”. What’s that all about? I open the drapes… and then I know. Yup, it’s all nice and clean and white out there. Not the best thing to see when a body doesn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone venture forth into that miserable cold wind.

It’s well ensconced here now; the rest of the week is going to be much the same. Although the forecaster is trying so hard to be optimistic, it’s quite clear he hasn’t a hope of anything changing. So we just bear it. Amazing what we will put up with! And why do we insist on carrying on as if nothing is different? There is no good reason for going in to work – it’s not as if civilization as we know it will come apart at the seams if we just cancelled the day!

You can probably tell that this is not one of my favourite seasons. Winter is the dread that fall forebodes. And spring seems to just drag its feet, as if it didn’t want to come at all. Summer? Sometimes there’s a nice day or two.

So why do I still want to live here?

Meanwhile, here is a pic from last week, at sunrise, looking west from the elevator in my office.

Next time: Bling!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dyeing Red Coats

Spinning classes have started again for my next level in the course. And since this is fall, we did some dyeing again, using natural dyes.

This time, we used only one dye-pot and with the addition of a couple mordants, and modifiers, we were able to get 25 different shades! Doesn't that just blow your mind? There are so many variables that can give you different results, so we wanted to explore all of them, and make note of the effects. This way, we can have a better idea of what we can obtain, should we follow a couple of steps. Quite fun!

We used cochineal, which is a pregnant bug. Honest!! These are already dead, and dried, and we just ground them up to make more of the dye available, and then cooked it for a bit to get all the colour out of them. We had pre-mordanted our small wool skeins in a couple of different mordants, and then dropped them all into the pot. After about an hour, we removed and rinsed them, and then dropped a few of them into other pots with a few different modifiers to get all these lovely colours.

I was told that cochineal was used to dye the red coats of the British forces during the British-American war. I was rather disappointed when I didn't get any red! The dye in the pot was a glorious rich red... and yet it didn't come out that way in the wool. Another lesson learned! The mordants and the modifiers each had their effect, and the result is a wide range of shades in the reddish-purple-maroon range. Nice, but not quite what I was expecting. Ah -- the joys of nature dyeing!

Here, you see the pre-mordanted skeins just before they went into the dye-pot. (some people will take a pic of anything, won't they?)

And here, I'll show you a few of the skeins I got, and once I get them all displayed properly, will show you them again, but more organized. These are all my handspun yarns, a 3-ply all done on my CD spindle.

The weather has been absolutely wonderful this week! Well, not quite. The weatherman had predicted +21 on Tuesday. Of course, he was wrong. But today was probably that high! The sun was shining, and it was too warm for a jacket at noon, or on the way home after work. I kind of like this fall weather, if it stays this way! However, Hallowe'en is next week, and we have had all that white stuff around in other years. Weather here can change in the wink of an eye, so I have no idea what we might yet get. Stay tuned!

Edit: Thursday 10:36 pm
I looked out the window. Remember that white fluffy stuff I mentioned earlier? Yep, it's here!

Saturday, October 13, 2007


During all those years growing up, making wishes about what I wanted and not getting them, I realized that sometimes they come years and years later. There are no timelines in regards to promises by the universe! They don’t always come quite as expected.

One thing I’ve learned is that wishes normally do come true, but in a very literal sense. You have to be very careful what you wish for – because you will get just what you asked for! You have to be very specific in making your declarations. And so I’ve tried so very hard NOT to express any kind of wishes, for sometimes you get a whole lot more than you bargained for. Such as all the responsibilities that come with owning a dog, for example.

But sometime in the not-too-distant past, I made a slight slip of the tongue, and made a wish for something that I didn’t have a remotest chance of getting. But I did! The question now is do I have to accept it.

One thing that I was told some time back was that when the universe hands something to you, you are being given the opportunity to show that you can take responsibility and ownership of it, and make good use of it. If you refuse, you are showing that you are not worthy of anything at all, and you will not receive anything again. If you accept, you have to show that you are mature enough to handle all the pressures that come with it, and that you will share your fortune with others. That’s an awesome choice to make.

Now, I have to make choices every day -- difficult choices, requiring hours of examination of all the facts and all the outcomes -- choices that I must make in a matter of moments. Things like what tie to wear today, which street to take to work, where to go for lunch today. But that is all part of a day’s work, and I do them without too much agony.

However, there comes a time in every person’s life where a major decision must be made, a choice that will have life-changing consequences, and there is no way to know for sure what the final outcome is going to be. You can gather all the facts, follow it through several scenarios, you have to consider the pros and cons, weigh them all, and then make an informed choice. In my case, the scales always seem to be equally balanced! How do you make choice based on that? You can’t always rely on emotions, for they have led me astray before; and logic doesn’t seem to be enough to make the choice. What else can I go on?

So my friends, the question is: Do I or don’t I?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Knitted Winterwear

Across the street from my office is a small grassy area. It's a small park, I guess, and I think it belongs to the office building at the other end of the block. At one time, this belonged to the local school board, and seemed to be very appropriate. In fact, the board used a depiction of this sculpture on their letterhead. But after they moved on to larger quarters, this place was taken over by a business, and so now the sculpture looks out of place. This sculpture, called Brotherhood of Mankind, was created by Mario Armegnol in 1967 for the Montreal Exposition and was donated to the city by a private firm about 1989.

There was quite a big controversy over this at the time since these statues were all naked! It represented the family of man, with male and female figures, some holding a child in their arms. They are all very tall and thin, but definitely naked.

However, a local artist recently decided to cover these poor creatures, and clothe them. So now I feel that I can post some pics of them here. I wouldn't be able to do it otherwise! hehe

They are only wearing leg-warmers, and that should help a bit in our cold, severe winters, and they aren't naked anymore. These were all knit or crocheted flat by Suzen Green and friends, and then seamed on the leg. The artist has said that it was too difficult to do them in another way. Not that it hasn’t been done!

And with the cold winter arriving tonight perhaps, these certainly are well-appreciated by the recipients! See here:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The little mistake

A little while back, one of the guys on a knitting list was having trouble with the Brioche stitch. It is a rather strange pattern, but he liked the results. However, he kept getting an extra stitch when he would come to the end of a row! It just didn't add up for him. So I set out to see why -- it seemed simple enough! haha

By following the pattern directions strictly, I was all confused, and was making mistakes. The directions were wrongly written. She would insert a yf and also a yo, which in my way of thinking, are both one and the same. By bringing the yarn forward, and then knitting a stitch, you can't help but make a YO. So putting the directions like that really was confusing! I had to re-write the directions (once I figured out what was going on) and it worked much better.

I first did the pattern with large needles, as suggested (section "a"), and it was quite interesting. I liked the result; there were possibilities here! Usually, it was used as a scarf and hat, but I can see this as a sweater as well.

I then switched to smaller needles, as I felt there was too much looseness in the fabric, and the back layer was showing through. I thought it would look better as a type of double layer fabric (section "b"). The results of that you see here:
After working this a number of times, I realized that I WAS working a double layer fabric anyway! So I switched the pattern just a little bit (not doing the YO) and I was doing plain double layer knitting!! (section "c") The word "brioche" comes from the French and means "mistake"... now I see what they mean! Someone was doing double knitting (or thinking they would) but made a slight mistake, and came up with a new pattern! That's how many of these things happen: you set out to go down one road, but things happen along the way and you get diverted and see something entirely new. Not all mistakes are bad; they are only not quite what you were expecting, that's all.

I think I would teach this by doing some double knitting first. Once you understood what was happening (bringing the yarn forward before slipping the back stitch, or after slipping the front stitch), you can see that by forgetting to take the yarn back again, you make a "mistake" or a "brioche" and have developed a new pattern technique.

There -- it's just that easy!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Hat pattern

Some have asked about the pattern for my hats. This was an over-sight! I had meant to give you the location of the pattern – it’s from the net, of course.

I had seen this a long time ago, made a note of it, and of course, lost all my bookmarks when the HD died. I had to re-install Windows XP (not a fun job) and, of course, I had to re-format my HD, and I lost everything! So I am starting all over again to collect my patterns, and bookmarks (making sure to make back-up copies this time!). I would think Uncle Bill could come up with a better way to re-install his system, since it does fail so often.

This pattern is called the Tychus hat from I thought it looked so interesting, and yet was fairly simple to do. I also found a similar pattern called “zeebee” from schmeebot. This is a good site to go to: she has a pattern generator! You plug in your numbers from your gauge swatch (yah, I know) and there it is! Really slick!

I made a few changes to my hats. I didn’t like the way the wraps were done, so came up with my own version, which I like a lot better. After seeing the way Cat Bordhi does her wraps, I have to make another hat, and try it that way! LOL You can adjust the number of your cast-on to create longer or shorter hats (for that turned up brim), and by changing the number of ‘arrows’, you can adjust the size (circumference). I really like this pattern; it’s quite easy to do, and fits very well.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Early Sunday Sunrise

Most of you probably don’t know that I read a lot of blogs. In fact, my bookmarked list was so long that it would take 3 whole evenings of doing nothing but read blogs to catch up with what you’ve been writing!! That is a lot of hours!

Now, I don’t read everyone’s blogs every day! Some I look into once a week, some every couple weeks, and some only once a month or so since you don’t write anything that often – like me!

I was particularly impressed last week to see the beautiful photographs by David of the sunrise from his window. He takes really great photos, and has a great sense of colour and design. But after all, that is his life’s study!

So I look out my window in the morning, and this is what I see:

I don’t get the same great colour that Dave does; we have a lot more softer and pastel shades, being so much further north, I suppose, and are somewhat colder too (this was on a overcast morning). I don’t know what makes our skies so different. Now, of course, my scenery is not so great to look at either! That is the price we pay for “progress”; this is boom-time in this town. The bubble is about to burst, but you would never guess that by looking at all the cranes that are busily turning this way and that; I can count eight right now to the east of me. They don’t know what is going on, right under their noses! They start working at 7 a.m. sharp! And those lights you see?-- that shines right into my window!

We’ve gone through this before, you know. Back in the late 1970’s, when there was a big oil demand, we thought our party was never going to end. But it did… and suddenly. All these high-priced homes suddenly were an albatross around so many necks – and the only thing to do was walk away. They went back to wherever they came from, telling stories of great times, raucous parties, and fantastic hang-overs. They went home, and those of us left behind had clean up the mess.

There was another smaller splurge in later ‘80’s, and then the inevitable doldrums. You couldn’t find a crane anywhere on the skyline! There was never a blocked street due to construction, no one was hiring carpenters, apartments were vacant. What distant memories those are!!

So we are in another oil boom. The young people think it’s terrific, the world is rosy, we can have anything we want! They are buying, buying, buying. Not with cash, you understand, since they don’t have any, but with “potential earnings”. We all know how much substance is in that!! One day, very soon, they too will walk away from their over-priced homes, the latest model SUV, and all the newest toys and gadgets. Everything will be taken back for they own nothing!

I am very much like my Dad – he only purchased anything when he had the cash to pay for it, even a car or any other major purchase. I never thought I was much like him, but we do pick up little habits, don’t we! So when times were tough, I didn’t have to worry about outstanding loans or debts; and I’ve learned to manage quite well on very little. I don’t need that much, really. And by now, I’ve got most of what I need, but not quite all that I want! Hahaha One day, when the time is right, they will come my way.

In the meantime, I’m still spinning with the spindle, making up more skeins. Really, I have NO idea what I will do with it all, but again, one day, there will be something I really want to make, and will have just the right yarn for it. I had better have the yarn, for I have nearly every colour and weight anyone can ever want! I’m sure I have a larger collection than the yarn store down the street, but we won’t start making comparisons.

Meanwhile, I did do some work on the wheel. Here is a quick peek:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Some new hats

I was able to get some pics taken of the hats I did this past month. These are all done with my handspun, 3-ply wool, spun and plied on my CD spindle. After having all these skeins, I thought I had better do something with them. I've always liked the design of these hats, and decided these colours would work well in them.The white one is the first I did, just to learn the technique. This is all in garter stitch, knit sideways, with short rows and then grafted at the end. First of all, I had to learn how to do those short rows -- I've never been pleased with the way they looked. So after trying a couple of different versions, I settled on the wrap and turn technique. I leave the wrap in; I don't knit the wrap as some instructions say. I like it better this way, on garter stitch. On stocking stitch, I believe it wouldn't work as well.The green hat (or is blue?) was done the same way, but by using the two colours, it shows off the short rows very nicely. By doing the wrap, it also makes a nice sharp point on the triangles and I think adds to the look of it. I did another one, in the same colours, but made it just slightly shorter. It is still waiting for the grafting. I wanted a short beany; you can turn up the brim on the longer one and it shows an interesting pattern on the reverse side.

This is a fun easy knit. It's all garter stitch. It has a couple of short rows, which go fast. The grafting at the end is easy to do as well. You should try them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


No, I haven't been swept away in the floods. I really didn't even get very wet at all -- when it rained, I stayed inside!

However, that was then, and this is now. It's changed. Well, if you live here, you know it changes -- frequently -- all in one day! So the rain stopped, and then it got warm. Really warm. We even hit 30 degrees C (about 86 for you 'Muricans) which is pretty hot around here. Most years, we only get to 30 a couple days a year, and I don't mind that. I can't take the heat very well, so it's a good thing I live here.

This year, however, it's not the same. Well, actually, no year is the same as any other here. It's always something different. Keeps us on our toes! But when it got warm, it kept on getting warmer and warmer. We got some really hot air coming over the mountains from BC, and we went up to 35C -- which is pretty damned hot.

Now, normally, we tell everyone: "Yes, but its a dry heat." Yah, sure. It isn't so this time around -- we had a lot of rain earlier, remember? And there is a lot of water around in the ground, and in the rivers, and in the air too! So it's hot and humid too -- and that makes for a really muggy New York kind of sticky days! Not good.

The Stampede Parade was on July 6 this year. It's always the first week of July. This starts the 10 days of the Stampede Exhibition, "the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth" as it's billed. I suppose there may be some debate on that title, but we will leave that alone. Most of the 'natives' from this city try to get out of town during this time of the year, and I've usually quite enjoyed the relaxed and fun Western themes. However, I've been here for a number of years, and it does get tired after the first few times. Now I understand why they want to leave!

And so I did myself. Yes, for the first time ever, I left town just as the parade was about to start. I took off for Saskatchewan, the province to the east. I used the excuse of having to go attend a family function, which was true. My uncle, the last of my father's brothers, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I wasn't about to miss this one! And I'm glad I did. We had a really good time, it was all very tastefully done, very casual, very enjoyable. I finally got to meet some of my cousins that I haven't seen for many years; we usually only meet at weddings or funerals, and lately, there haven't been many of those. We all grew up, left home to seek our fortunes in the vast world, and then forgot to come home again.

Let me tell you something: people change. Yes, it's true -- when you don't see anyone for many years, you notice how much older they have become! After all, two of my cousins have retired already (they were just a few years ahead of me at school) and my younger brother retired this year. I'm not sure I'm ready for that!! But they have all aged quite a lot too -- I noticed that during this visit. Oddly, I haven't aged at all! LOL

I got to spend some time with Mom, we did a few things around the house, we visited her 91 year old sister (who is still living on her own and doing very well), and her 67 year old sister too (the youngest) and got to see how much the land has changed too in the time I have been gone. Nothing stays the same. But it was all over too fast, and I was forced to come back to this hectic city and to the job. Some things never change!

The heat has steadily increased and it was about 34 the other day. And in the evening, there is usually a thunder storm with some lightening, sometimes some rain, sometimes some hail! It normally cools off at night, but not that much this week. Now, you understand, I'm not complaining! I'd never do that -- however, I suppose I would like to even it out a bit... you know, like we do with this strange concept of "daylight saving", which I don't understand at all. If only we could "save" some of this heat to release during those long cold winters; now that I could support. Maybe we should talk to the shrub and get him to sign some bill before he leaves his office.

There hasn't been much on the spinning front. Still doing some of the same thing as always; I did take my spindle on the trip and did some spinning while at Mom's. I finished a hat I was knitting-- it was fun, and I started another one tonight. I am still looking for some patterns for something different to make, but haven't made a choice yet. I thought I might do the Mystery Stole 3, but I'm very far behind now but would like to do this one. Too many projects, not enough time!

There's no pictures in this entry. As you remember, I had some computer issues previously. I did get myself a new camera, but it doesn't get along with my computer (I don't understand these things myself) so they are stuck on that little card. I'll keep working on that. But when I get it to cooperate, I'll show you pics of the hat. In the meantime, stay cool!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Water Woes

There is more news about water in our area. Most of the year, it’s rather dry around here, with most of the rain in May. This year is very different – everyone is saying that all over the world – and spring was somewhat delayed. Then we had that snow in late May, and then we had that little bit of rain this week!

I’m putting in a couple of pics for you; just some of the sights around town earlier:

One house got hit by lightening.

Meanwhile, there is still some water problems in my building. As you recall, it took much longer to do some minor repairs the other day. But last night, there was no hot water. Okay, so this has happened a few times before, and I know that the boiler lost its pilot light. Simple thing to fix, but when the maintenance person is already in bed, how does he know to go check it? So I’ve threatened the former caretakers that I will call at any hour of the night and let them know! She said it was okay to do that – however, we have new people now, so I wasn’t too sure I should bother them. And why not? You know, I think I should have hot water at midnight! I also know that we won’t have any hot water in the morning, so no shower.

There wasn’t any hot water until about 10 am. I didn’t go to work, so wasn’t too worried about that.. a little annoyed, but I would have been some angry if I had to get to work by 8! I’ll let someone else complain. (Rent went up by 25% this month too)

I ran out this afternoon, took a very long bike ride on a slightly cloudy day, and enjoyed that trip. It was to a part of town I haven’t visited for a very long time, and it’s quite pretty right now along the river. It took about 2 hours, but was fun. Stopped for some ice-cream too! I got a really nice book on knitting T-shirts, and she also gave me quite a few knitting leaflets. In talking to her, she said she had some men’s patterns too, and gave them to me too. So it was quite an enjoyable visit and worth the trip.

Oh, and one last thing: Harry was in town too. I don’t think I will get to see him this time.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What a Day!

For many years, I have belonged to a small social spinning group that meets once a month. They used to meet on the first Monday of the month, which suited me just fine when I didn't work on Mondays. However, I had to change my day off at work, so now work Monday. For a special occasion, such as Christmas or first spin-in of the season, or the last meeting of the season, or just because I needed a mental health day, I would take that day off and go spin!

Recently, they had to change the day to Tuesday, and that didn't really matter to me much, since one day is much the same as the next in my work schedule. The June meeting is the last for this season, they take a break over summer and restart in September. This was one day I wanted to attend. I have a lot of over-time sitting at work, so decided I had better use them up, or they get taken away from me. So I asked for Tuesday off -- it's not as if I do anything at work anyway! They won't even miss me!

The day started well with the water being turned off in my building so they can do some maintainence. Wonderful! Thinking I might be able to sleep in a little, I had to make sure I was up early enough to catch a little of the last of the hot water to have a shower before there was nothing! I also was going to make something to take to the pot-luck lunch; how do I do that? But I made some muffins the night before, so that will have to do.

When my ride came by to pick me up, they had the pleasure of watching a fight in front of the house next door. This house is boarded up -- it was condemned by the health department after the police were in there looking for clues to a murder of a prostitute (I live in a great neighbourhood in the centre of the city).

Spinning is always a fun time. I took along some of the bootie I picked up a couple months ago that I haven't gotten into much yet. I'm almost done with the grey, so took along some of the white striped with black to see what I can do with it. I also took along some mixed red, and even my CD spindle, and some knitting. Well, I never know how bored I will get with anything, and I need back-up -- you know that! But the morning went by very quickly, with laughing, talking, telling stories, spinning, gossip and general merriment. It's always a good day.

The weather forecast was for rain today. It didn't rain. It was a rather nice sunny warm day. We never know around here. But there were some dark clouds coming up from the south-west (not the usual direction) when I got home in the afternoon. I really need to do some laundry. But after this very long day, I really needed a nap first; laundry will wait -- it's waited this long, what's another hour or two?

When I got up, I picked up the laundry and set off. Now, I have to go about 4 blocks to the laundro-mat. But with my trusty little cart, that's not a major hardship. I take along my CD spindle, and make good use of my time. The clouds are getting darker.

Just as I put everything into the washers, it started to thunder and then rain. Not a little rain. A hard fast rain! With a lot more thunder, and lots of lightening. And more loud crashes of thunder! There was even a bit of hail too. We like a bit of everything around here -- just to make sure they don't miss something. Quite nice -- if you are inside your home, looking out at nature's show. Not in a laundromat!! But what else can I do? So I watch the rain, a little ET on TV (so glad I don't have one with that crap to watch) and I do some spinning! One woman, finally couldn't help herself any longer, had to ask me what I was doing! hahaha -- those are such fun questions, since I can see that for several minutes she is really curious, but I take no notice of her. But then I stop and explain what I am doing, and how it works, and she wants to know what I do with it. Nice girl. Later on, a guy wanted to know if I was going to make bracelets with it. I don't understand that question at all. But maybe that's all he knows about what you would use yarn for. I dunno.

Well, eventually, the laundry is done, and I have to go home. It's still raining, still thundering, still lightening. Not as much as it was, but still raining. Oh, heck, it's only water! So I take my little cart, make sure I have everything, and set out to walk home. It's not that cold, really. So I stick close to some of the buildings, and get a little wet. Ok, so I get a lot wet... it's only water! I will dry off. When I get home, the plumbers are still there (it's now 3.5 hours after they were supposed to be finished!), and I am hoping there is going to be some water in the building! And there is... only cold, since it hasn't had time to heat up yet. At least, there is water! I hang up my things, decide I really should make some supper, and then check some emails.

As you know, for over a month (or has it been longer?), I've been having computer problems. I did re-install WindowsXP and was able to boot up and get to my data. Except for one drive. We'll work on that one yet. But after 6 days, it started doing the same thing, not booting up properly. So being frustrated again... I will install XP by myself this time; I've had enough experience doing it! So I did that. There was nothing on that drive, so I didn't care if I did wipe it out.

Well, that worked -- to an extent. But not well enough, so after a day or two, I just wiped it clean, and started over, and installed it once more! I'm getting good at this! And then I did it once more the next day, just for fun. My next computer is going to be a Mac!

I had to re-install my browser and MSN and lots of other programs I use all the time. And of course, all my bookmarks that I had collected over the years were gone... disappeared, no more. I had a long list -- a very long list -- of blogs that I had marked. There were a few I remembered that I visited most often, and marked them once more. I have to start my collection all over again! Fortunately, some of you keep a list of your favourites on your blogs (thanks guys!), which I read as well, so I was able to find most of them again. I did discover there is a way to save my list, so will be doing that from now on. I have a feeling I may have to re-install XP another time yet!

One thing I've lost and can't seem to get working is my sound. This thing seems to think there is no sound cards installed, and yet in other places, it says they are! I don't understand -- all I know is that I don't have any sound! So I can't listen to many of the podcasts I enjoyed, nor any YouTube vids (they do look so funny with no sound -- try that sometime), and can't play some of the old Whistler movies I have received this past week! I need my sound!!

You want some pictures? I don't really have much to show you. There was that duck, but I didn't get pics of it, and it's gone now. Oh, you don't know about it?? Well, that will have to wait until next time. In the meantime, I want to show you that we had a bit of rain lately.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The more things change --

Since I haven't logged in for so long, Blogger (in their wisdom) didn't know who I was! So I had a lot of trouble trying to get into MY OWN blog!! Why don't they just mind their own business and leave me alone?!

I am in a complaining mood today. I had a lot of computer problems lately. First of all, I couldn't get any internet connection. I didn't know where the problem was, but obviously, it was the fault of my provider. When I called, after a long weekend of NO SERVICE, all I got from the kid at the other end was that it is all working well. Dude, it's not!! I still don't have service!

So after a whole week (seven days), one morning when I was laying in bed, trying to analyze this whole problem, I decided to try once more. I would disconnect all the cables, and then re-attach them one by one, checking that it's all working fine to that point. And after a few of these, I discover that my router was the weak link. So as long as I didn't put it in the system, I can work with no problem. But then I don't have the firewall protection I need.

My hard drives (yes, plural) were all quite full, so I had to clear out some stuff. As I was cleaning them out, getting ready to write some of the data to disk, and re-arranging some of the files, I must have moved something that I shouldn't have. Then I couldn't boot up anymore. Why does this always happen to me!!?? I was able to get in under Safe Mode, sometimes, but sometimes not. It was like a computer game, where you have to hit all the right buttons very fast, to get to the next level! I wasn't very good at that game.

The only thing to do was re-install the OS. However, if I were to do that, I would wipe out everything on my drive, since I had to format it. Not good! (Did I ever tell you about making back-ups of all your important data?) And so the only other thing to do was get a new drive, and install XP on that, and then use the old drive as a storage drive, and recover all my data from it. Good plan!

Not that easy! After a few tries plugging in, re-trying, and going back to the store, and him telling me to do the same things over and over.... I finally took my computer to him, and showed him why it wasn't working. There was a little setting, something about RAID, and I didn't know what it meant, or why it was there. So, after all that tweaking, and 3 hours (plus a few dollars), I had XP installed, and the old drive plugged in and I was able to access all that data, and get back to where I should have been! Whew! Another week wasted!

For the past week, I've been trying to go through all the stuff I had saved (whatever for?), and deciding whether it's worth keeping or not, transferring it over to a more logical location, and burning a few disks. I'll get it all put into it's correct place eventually! And then I will format that offending disk, and have a clean slate to fill up again!

A few weeks ago, I went to a concert featuring Lily Tomlin. I was given a seat on the second balcony at the very last row! Well, at least there wasn't anyone behind me, kicking the seat from behind! And the stage was way down there in the depths of the canyon! I hoped I would be able to see anyone when they walked on stage! I was smart enough to bring my opera glasses with me! I was also lucky enough to sit next to an Olympic medal winner!!

There were the familiar characters that we have loved and known forever: Edith Ann, Ernestine, Trudy, the Bag Lady. There is a whole new generation that never knew them when they first appeared on the scene, and became so identifiable to us. I will never be able to think of c-a-k-e the same way again! When I first saw her perform, with only a change in posture or contortion of that amazing face, a new character would appear. What an amazing talent she has! Even at 67, she still looks fantastic, with a lot of energy, and fun. She has a bit more patience and maybe just a bit of tolerance now, but still very strongly opinionated. She told us she has done a movie, but has no idea why it still hasn't been released. She is working on a TV series for this fall, and a few other things in the works as well. There is no sign of her slowing down at all. She still keeps up a hectic pace of one-woman shows all across the country.

Was it worth it? I would have a very hard time justifying anyone paying that much to see one person performing on stage for 2 hours. Yes, I wanted to see her, and I'm glad I did. This may not happen again. She did almost the very same routine I remember her doing 35 years ago, with a few little comments thrown in. She is a very cool lady -- I think it would be quite interesting to sit down and chat with her. I have a feeling she is not an easy lady to get to know. I will watch for her new shows this season -- if they ever appear.

But I think I would have liked just a little bit of that "service" for which I paid.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Weighty Subjects

I’ve been having a great time spinning some of the treasures I got recently. The grey is really a brown blended with white, which produces a real ‘grey’ shade. I don’t know what it is, but it does contain some very long fibres and some short ones too. There is a fair bit of kemp in it as well, but they slip right out without getting caught in the twist. It is buttery soft and so easy to spin. I forgot to tell you where it came from! We got it from which is in Wyoming. Carol and her staff were very easy to deal with, and the huge package arrived within 2 weeks. This is quite unheard of here in Canada! We didn’t have any trouble getting it through Customs either. The grey roving is found on this page, at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately, this is the last of it – I think I should have purchased more!

Not all online purchases are this easy or as successful. Early this year, in our spinning class, one of the girls brought in the cutest little weigh scale. It is about the size of a pocket calculator, and when the top slides off, there is a fully operational electronic scale underneath! The capacity is not high, but for our purposes in class, this was ideal. The price was right too (about $40) and she found a site in Canada that sold them.

Several of the others in the class wanted scales too, and this company, Digital Scales Canada, had quite a nice selection of different kinds for all sorts of needs (I don’t wish to promote them so won’t post a link). After much consideration, I made my decision, and the others placed their order with me, and I agreed to place one order for them all. The company advertised that there was one price for shipping PER ORDER, and we thought that was a very good deal. We ordered 6 scales for a total sale of $681. They preferred credit card sales, but said they would accept cheques and would ship the order when the cheque cleared. I didn’t mind that, since I don’t have credit cards, and we weren't in a big rush.

Within 3 days of mailing off my order and payment, I received an email from them saying that they cannot accept cheques. Seems they suddenly changed their policy. I cancelled my order and told them to mail my cheque back. It’s now 60 days, and still no sign of it. I guess return mail takes longer.

We looked around locally to get something that we could use, but small scales like that, with a 0.1g accuracy, were selling for about $60 to $120 in the pawn shops!

One of the girls in the class decided she would try and place an order herself using her credit cards. She dutifully placed her order online, and paid with her card – only to be told shortly thereafter that they won’t process the order without photocopies of the front and back of her credit card, AND the front and back of her driver’s license!! Her bank advised her not to do this, and she also cancelled her order. We’re not sure what this company is up to, but selling weigh scales doesn’t seem to be one of them!

Shortly after this experience, we noticed that the company has suddenly started accepting Paypal payments. The same girl still needed a scale (as do the rest of us) and decided to give them one more chance. She placed her order for only one scale this time, with her Paypal account, and they accepted it, and she received her scale in due course! So it seems they don’t want to ship more than ONE item per order, and don’t really uphold their claim of one shipping price PER ORDER. After all, they were about to lose $47.50 in shipping charges on our multiple order!

So the result is that we don’t get our scales, and our homework is now on hold. I suppose I could take my little packages of wool and dye plant material to the post office and get them to weigh them for me. I have a feeling that won’t work very well. Well, there are always the scales at Safeway!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Weird Stuff

There are so many weird things going on around here lately. I just don’t know where to begin.

Okay, first of all, my poinsettia, which had some red leaves late in the year, before Christmas (see an earlier post), has decided that it’s time to do it again. So now I have ten branches with red leaves on the tips. I don’t know what this means. Is there some sort of strange cosmic shift going on, and this poor plant is getting all confused?

It’s been in this same pot, from the florist, since it arrived at my office about 5 years ago, I should think. One of the senior people in the office used to buy a large potted poinsettia for each floor. They didn’t last long, except for the one that I looked after on my floor. I knew what it liked, and kept it growing nicely and green for several years. Because the office lights are on almost all the time, it never got night, and didn’t know when it was time to change colour. But one year, after I came back from a Christmas break, I turned it around, and found all these red leaves on the side against the wall! That side had the dark, and they changed colour. So cool! I finally took it home when it was in danger of being thrown out (people are like that in the office) and it has bloomed for me during the two years I’ve had it here. And now once again this the spring. It’s really confused. Maybe it needs to be repotted, since they do tend to put out flowers when under stress.

Speaking of stress, I didn’t have internet connection for over a week. OMG! Talk about withdrawal! I knew that I spent a lot of time online, but I sure did find myself out- of-sorts last week. I depended on being connected to the rest of the world – no, I NEEDED to be connected with my friends and family. I tried to tell myself that it was only temporary, and I’ll get through it. I called my ISP, and got a recorded message that some parts of the city were not getting service, and will be rectified soon. Yah, sure. I stayed online until I finally got through to a techie who checked what he could from there, and said it all seems to be working just fine. No, it ain’t!!

Then one morning, as I lay in bed, I thought I should check all the connections. I would take them all apart, and reinstall them all one by one and see what happens. Since I use a router, I thought I would try connecting directly to the computer from the modem and see if the modem really is at fault. It worked! No problem! Alright, so it was my router. It’s fairly new, but I believe the warranty has just expired, and so has the router! Isn’t that a coincidence?!

So now I’m back into the swing of things, trying to go through 637 emails to see if there was anything really important I need to attend to. Nope, none at all. Wonder why someone thinks it was necessary to send them out in the first place? Oh, well. Now I have to try and catch up with all the podcasts and other downloads I get regularly. Oh, when will there be time to get any sleep?!

One thing that was good out all this was that I got a chance to do some real spinning. I’m working on my second bobbin of that lovely grey/brown roving I got. I’m really liking it, and am visualizing something nice for me out of it. It’s not going to happen for some time yet, so don’t wait for it.

There are a few other things I need to get off my chest too, but that will have to wait for the next time.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

New Additions

Although last week tended to be pretty crappy, there was something that makes me smile -- a lot. I received a nice pile of fibres to play with. Well, I had to pay for it, but it came very quickly.

One of the girls in my class discovered a place in the US that was selling some punta wool. This is a breed that comes from Mexico, and we’ve used it in class. It’s quite nice and soft, long lustrous fibre which we blended with all manner of other fibres. So why not get some for myself to play with? Well, I looked at the site, and found a few more things that I might like to get my hands into: superwash merino, dyed superwash, dyed Cotswold, a spinning bell, a nice grey, some random roving … well, it went on and on, and by the time I tallied up my order, I knew this was out of hand! So I trimmed down to a few essentials, trying to stay under $100 – well, okay, just a little over that!

The order arrived very quickly. We expected a couple of weeks, but it was less than two weeks that it was here. Very good service from them. It flew over the border with no problem, with out duty charges, and only the US exchange is what really got us. So it cost me about $175 for 12 pounds of fibre. That should do me for awhile.

In fact, as soon as I got home that day (I picked it up from the classmate at noon -- thanks Sherry), carrying two large bags of loot, I had to spin up a small handful of the black and white roving, and because I like a 3-ply, I Navajo plied it. Then I had to knit it up too, to see if I could maintain that random colouring. I liked the effect. There was some blending of the black and white, but I think I will work harder at keeping them separate. I am thinking that a sweater for myself might just be in order.

I’ve already started spinning what was supposed to be the grey, although it does appear to be brown mixed with white. I quite like how it is working up, being quite soft and fine, and fairly long-stapled. I will also do it in a 3-ply, and this time am spinning up three bobbins. I’m trying for a uniform yarn this time, since there was some unevenness in the b&w that I did earlier.

All of it looks so very nice! I haven’t had a chance to get my hands into the rest of it yet. There is one bag of random odds and ends that looks interesting. There is a handful of red, and black, and white, and even some brown/gold roving in there too! I’m not sure what will become of it all, but I think I could make something out of it yet. Maybe it will join something I already have, or mix together into a project, or maybe I’ll have to get more of one that I really like to make up an item. Hmm, now that is a possibility too.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring Arrives!

Although Spring arrived almost 2 weeks ago, this is the view that greeted me this morning when I got out of bed and looked out the window:

It was so very nice early in March, and was quite shorts weather. The little shrub outside the front door has already set out it's leaves, and the dahlias have pushed up several inches of shoots. Then this.

Those of us that have lived in this city for a number of years should be used to this now. I'm not quite used to it, but I am resigned to it; it changes all the time, so be prepared for anything. There is a new co-worker at the desk next to me that has arrived a month ago from "the other side of the mountain" where winters are rather mild, and the snow is heavy and wet. By now, spring has taken a good hold "back home" and she is expecting the same here. No, no, I keep telling her, never put away your winter coat! You can never tell what will happen in the afternoon, so be prepared for anything. Even this.

Now, I imagine some of you were waiting for the second sock, and the description of the wonderful discovery I have made. Which should have been here, if only it weren't for a small little thing that happened: I was told that it looks so much like a pattern that has already been published. Oh, damn! So I took a look at Widdershins, and indeed it is very similar. I did my turning of the heel slightly differently, but with very much the same effect. Incredible that we could come up with so similar results! I knew what I wanted to happen, and so created my pattern to do just that; apparently the creator of Widdershins had the same thought, and we reached almost the exact same solution.

Well, in reality, there are only a handful of ways to knit a sock. I think we've about developed all methods possible; we now will focus on variations and developing a library of pattern stitches. That's as it should be.

I still will go ahead and knit the second sock. Right now, it's all on hold. I was put into quite a downer once I learned I hadn't discovered anything new! I really had no desire to continue with this once-exciting project -- in fact, I had no interest in doing anything whatsoever! I have now sufficiently recovered to start moving again, and will go on to finish those socks (because I'm stubborn enough to do it) and maybe I might try to do them again -- once the pain is long forgotten. Perhaps I should try something completely different first. I think it would be a good learning exercise to document the development of the sock, with photos and text, just for my own use. However, someone has beat me to it as well: Charles has written a very good description of how he did it, along with VIDEOS of how he casts on, turns the heel with short-row and wraps, and the sewn cast-off. So go look at his, and I won't have to bother.

I am still continuing to spin. I was lucky enough to acquire about 3 lbs of some really wonderful grey wool. I have no idea of the breed, but it is so soft, and silky. It is spinning up very nicely, into a strong yarn, and I have about 3 skeins now, and continue to work on it almost every day. And yes, I am still using my CD spindle. A fellow knitter called me this week to say that he has the chance to buy a Louet wheel (at a very low price) and he wondered if learning to spin would be easy. He is going to take some lessons in a month, and has also purchased a lovely top-whorl spindle made by Ed Tabachek. Well, all I could tell him was that, as with all things, it's a bit awkward at first, but I have confidence that he will do very well with some practice, because he is very determined and a perfectionist.

I also got some really exciting news tonight! But I will have to tell you all about it next time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Socks

It's probably quite evident that I like -- enjoy -- knitting socks. They are so much fun doing them, and are quick, and have so many interesting parts to them so you don't get bored, and are just so useful too. I always am worried that one ball of yarn won't quite make a sock for my larger-than-petite feet, so have to come up with some creative ways to make that yarn go further. This only applies to commercial yarn, since I can spin up my own and never run short! hahaha

I've always liked the principle of toe-up socks. There is a sense of accomplishment when knitting up the cuff, and you can continue until almost all the yarn is used up, leaving only enough to cast-off, and there is no waste! That is the way it should always work out. However, I don't really get along well with short-row heels, and the after-thought heels are only slightly better. That eye of partridge heel flap is one of my favourites (variation of the Traditional heel flap) and seems to fit much better. But to turn the heel in reverse is quite a trick. And then you have that gusset to do -- also in reverse -- which means you have to know exactly what your dimensions are and can plan ahead. Some of you know that I don't do this naturally!

So for a long time, it's been going through my head that there has to be -- simply HAS to be -- a way to knit socks toe-up AND do the heel flap complete with a gusset. Yes, there are a couple of patterns out there with gussets and some have attempted to do a heel flap. Some have actually done a sock in the normal manner, by putting the flap at the BOTTOM of the heel where it gets more wear; now this seems to be logical to me. I've been thinking about this for some time, and one night (I must have dreamt what I had to do), I awoke with the whole thing perfectly clear! Is this what is meant by a EUREKA moment?

Now, the first thing I had to do was make up a mock-up of the heel -- that is the part that had me stumped. I have to do this quick, because these night revelations are very fleeting! I've had these before, only to forget all the details within a matter of minutes.

The little heel worked out quite well. I was impressed! There are possibilities here! I think I have come up with a winner this time! Okay, now for the real test -- a full-fledged sock, with my own version of the provisional cast-on, the toe increases, the gusset increases, and the amazing turning of the heel, and then the flap. Well, this was just too much fun, and in a matter of a weekend, I had the sock done! I amazed even myself! I used just some stray yarn that I acquired somewhere (some kind of acrylic, but I didn't care) and I made it to fit my foot since it was the only foot anywhere nearby that I could try on periodically to make it fit. I was so very pleased with the way it progressed, and I think there was a kind of zen feeling, seeing how all the numbers seemed to work together. There really IS a system here! As I was doing the leg, I was thinking I may have to make it just a bit wider for the calf; I increased a couple of stitches in the ribbing of the cuff. When I had cast off, I didn't really need those increases, and it made the top just a bit floppy. So out came that cast-off row, and I pulled out a couple rounds (I never rip!!) and re-did the ribbing without increasing. It fits perfectly now!

I was really impressed with my accomplishments. Well, okay, so this isn't the first time I've knit a sock, and I'm quite certain this is not a new method of doing them toe-up (nothing new under the sun), but what amazes me is that I constructed the whole sock with my own brain, without finding a pattern in a book, which shows me that I truly understand sock construction. I know all the different parts of the plan, know how to get what I need, have all the skills to accomplish it all, and certainly have no fear of sock knitting. You know, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Now, the next step is to do another one exactly the same, AND this time writing down all the steps so that someone else will be able to do the same thing. I'm starting right from scratch, with two sticks and some string, and taking lots of pics along the way to document the whole process.

It's going to take a little longer this time!

Monday, February 19, 2007

New scarf

I just wanted to show you a picture of a scarf I knit using a pattern I received before Christmas from Iris Schreier, author of MODULAR KNITS. She does a lot of multi-directional designs and will have another book out this year, hopefully in July. She is co-founder of Artyarns ( and does wonderful colourways that work perfectly for much of that multi-directional work.

This is not one of her yarns. I liked the design, so thought I would do a sample, a dishcloth, with cotton (as always). I searched through my stash, and found some cotton in a variegated colour and took one ball with me when I went to visit Mom at Christmas. While there, I started it up, and did a few inches, thinking it was about time to cast-off. But Iris didn’t give the ending of the pattern until we posted a pic of our work! I showed it to Mom and she was quite imporessed and said I should continue to make it into a scarf. So I went on. I finished one ball, and then a second when I got back home. It was still pretty short by this time, and I thought I had a third ball, but couldn’t find it! I sent in my pic, explaining my problem, and I got the ending anyway. I didn’t work on it just then, not sure what to do with a very short scarf! One day, looking for something else, I found another ball of that yarn! I KNEW I had another one! But it ran away and hid.

So I continued with the third ball; this time the scarf was of a decent length. I planned to work until the very end of the ball, and have nothing left over! Risky! But I did it… and only had a yard or two left over. Gee, I could have done one more row!

This is in variegated greys, in DK cotton, and is a good scarf length at 140 cm (55 inches). Perhaps it’s not the best material for a scarf, but it may work for cooler days, and for decoration, rather than keeping the cold wind off your neck! I didn't really care for the cast-off row; there were too many added stitches and it flared too much for my tastes, despite the fact that I didn't do as many as suggested. Still, a very fun and easy project.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Winter Games

This is a very strange place to live. I mean, there are no constants, other than it changes all the time!

I’ve lived here many long years, and I still am surprised by the weather. Just a few days ago, I rode my bike to work, and came home very slowly since I didn’t want to get splashed by all the spray from the street. You see, there was slush everywhere. We had a sciff of snow, just enough to sprinkle icing sugar over everything, but it’s very warm here, and so it all turned into wet, dirty slush. There was actually water running in the gutters! This is Early February, remember.

That evening, on my way to the laundramat, I actually stopped and using a small stick I found, I cleared a path for the rivulet of water that couldn’t get down the street to the drain. I loved making rivers when I was a kid!! I still do! What fun that was! I should have been an engineer, I think.

The next morning, I didn’t take the bike to work. It had all frozen over; there was ice over everything. Good thing, for it snowed a bit more in the afternoon. We get these sudden snowstorms without warning. It changed from +10 one night, to -28 the next day. It’s kept snowing for the last two days! Not heavily, but there are these soft white fluffy things flying around everywhere. There is just a bit of snow on the ground, the trees have a layer only on the tops of every branch, it all looks so pretty. Did you ever play with a snow-globe as a child, and thought how wonderful it would be to be inside? Yup, I got that now!!

Here is a pic of Olympic Plaza this week:

Yes, that’s all ice, and yes, you do see a Zamboni on the ice, and yes, those are “bulls eyes” painted on the ice. What’s THAT all about?!! Perhaps I should explain it to you.

That is called “Human Bonspiel”. Those of you in Canada will know what that means, but for the rest of you, I will tell you this: Canada LUVS curling. That is a winter game where you throw these heavy round rocks along the ice surface, and get them to land in the centre of the circles, and the opposing team throws their rocks and tries to knock you out of the circle. There are others with brooms and they run in front of the rock and sweep the ice surface clean to make the rock go faster. I know, I know – but that is how they play the game!

Now, with Human Bonspiel, there are many players from the corporate world that will come down to this plaza at noon, and play the game. There are teams (always have to have teams) and one person is called a runner. He/she will run and jump doing a belly-flop onto a huge inner tube causing it to slide across the ice to the other end, and getting as close to the centre of those circles. Yes, and this is great fun -- in the cold, in winter! I don’t understand it much myself. But all the on-lookers get a real kick out of it, there is lots of cheering, and I would imagine some kind of prize, too.

I am NOT making this up! Here, see for yourself:

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Official Birds

When I look out my window onto the city skyline, this is what I see. There was a time quite a number of years ago, when I first arrived in this town, that we experienced phenomenal growth. There was building going on everywhere! As it always happens, there followed a crash of sorts, and all construction came to a stand-still. It’s all changed now – with the price of crude oil hitting record highs, we are in another one of those booms. It won’t last. But for now, this is my view of the unofficial birds of the city, the crane. How many can you see?

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year - New Start

We are all, including you, dieting. In fact, you’ve very likely been on an unnatural diet since the day you were born – without realizing it.

I am defining the word “diet” as “the food naturally consumed by an individual or a population.” The food you’ve been consuming isn’t natural. It bears little resemblance to the native diet our ancestors enjoyed for hundreds of thousands of years. Deviating from your natural eating pattern is “dieting”.

This change in your food put you on a risky “diet” with dangerous consequences. The regular intake of these artificial foods has caused a constellation of modern diseases together representing the biggest epidemic the world has ever seen.

You may not associate yourself with cavemen, but your genetic make up is 99.99% identical to your early ancestors and your body still reacts in the same way theirs did despite the complete change in our environment.

In evolutionary terms, the appearance of processed foods happened in the blink of an eye. Your body simply isn’t designed to handle them. For instance, the diet of early man was naturally low glycemic. But today, the foods we regularly consume cause huge spikes in blood sugar (along with the inevitable drop), which puts your body in a constant state of stress.

Diabetes has become epidemic. In the last 20 years, the number of worldwide cases has risen from 30 million to 230 million. By 2025, that number is expected to reach 350 million. Diabetes is often a stepping stone to other chronic diseases like high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. I keep learning of family and friends being diagnosed with these diseases, and I keep asking myself “why”.

The point that you’ve been dieting since birth is the main idea that we need to understand. I’ve realized that the path to a lean, fat-free and disease-free body is NOT to go on another of the hundreds of diets that others have advocated.

The key is to stop dieting all together. You must eliminate the rogue foods that have invaded your daily eating habits and simply return to your native diet.

But there’s the rub. We’ve lost sight of what our natural diet is. We need to learn what that diet is so we can stop “dieting”. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to follow. It doesn’t require a lot of sacrifice. And you’ll be relieved to find out that you don’t have to give up a lot of the foods you really love.

As you’re celebrating the New Year, don’t waste your time with sacrificing resolutions. Instead, allow yourself to return to a natural way of eating. And enjoy a healthy and sustainable way of getting exactly what your body needs.