Happy birthday to me

May 30, 2006 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Look at the cool shit I got from Aundra. She constantly amazes me. After years of giving me unrequested Eeyores–and I am not a stuffed animal person, though I do love Fancy Gay Winter Eeyore dearly–she put her crafting skills to good use and modified a corduroy bag (in my favorite color, no less) to turn it into a knitting bag.

She separated the lining from the rest of the bag and sewed needle slots into it (I’m not sure how):

She also got me the coolest shirt ever:

It’s from the California chapter of NOW. I would post a picture of me wearing it but the weather here has rendered me unfit for the public eye.

I should be sequestered in my house during the summer months–when it gets hot and humid, my hair turns simultaneously limp and frizzy (I’m pretty sure this is a feat of nature) and my skin just melts. The temperature was 33 degrees Celsius at 8:15 this morning. That’s 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit for my American friends (and myself, actually, as I have totally mastered Winter Celsius-to-Fahrenheit Conversion for Americans but have not yet done it for the summer). 91 degrees at 8 o’clock in the morning. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. That’s, like, Miami weather. Except that in Miami we have air conditioning. My apartment is a sauna. So is my office. Which, actually, does have AC but part of the system is broken. Our part, of course. Just sitting indoors makes me sweat.

Anyway, this evening after work I went and bought a keyboard and mouse. I use a laptop with a track pad and I’ve noticed that lately, my right hand hurts after using the track pad for too long. Also, typing on a laptop is horrible for your wrists. My fingers have gone numb from knitting for too long, as well, so I figured that in the interest of possibly staving off RSI or carpal tunnel for as long as possible, I’d get an ergonomic keyboard and a mouse. And so I did and it’s definitely a lot nicer to type on a full-size keyboard than on a laptop.

I have done a bit of knitting but not enough to post pictures of just yet. I made what I thought were the appropriate modifications to the Urban Aran pattern, but when I cast on and knitted a couple rows, it was just enormous. As I’ve said before, I’m not very big and I really can’t wear large clothes or I just disappear. So I had to scrap the idea of the Urban Aran. I was going to just make some pretty intense changes to the pattern but then I figured that if I was going to go through the trouble to do that, I might as well just design my own sweater. I have a couple of ideas in the works and when I have a large enough gauge swatch I’ll post pictures of it.

Until then, I’m going to go make a smoothie and sit in front of the fan and sweat. I know, it sounds sexy, but it’s really not.

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May 29, 2006 at 9:49 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This is what Sunday looked like at the Tasha-Lorien residence:

We dragged a futon mattress out onto the deck and knitted in the late afternoon sun. So pleasant!

I had decided that my next fiber foray would be dyeing, so Lorien and I went to Romni to check out their selection of books on the subject. It was surprisingly limited, but when I did a little research on the internet last night, I realized that it might be limited because dyeing is a fairly simple practice once you know the process. I was originally going to pursue natural dyeing, but really, I can’t see myself crawling around the forest floor collecting lichens and walnut shells, nor crushing cochineal bugs, so I’ll be following the acid dye trend after all. Romni also allegedly had an excellent new stock of Fleece Artist yarns in, so we figured we’d kill two birds with one stone and see if anything was begging to come home.

Lorien is knitting her mom a sweater using this pattern

Cute, no? It’s Patons’ Urban Aran from their Street Smart collection. I didn’t at all need to do any stash enhancing or project starting, so at Romni I bought 7 skeins of Lamb’s Pride worsted in Pistachio, a color that my camera refuses to do justice. It’s a delightful celery, a pleasing springtime green. Which is why I’m going to knit a bulky cabled sweater out of it. That would be ridiculously warm in spring. Oh well, I never said I knew how to follow color rules.

Anyway, while we were sitting on the futon outside, I knitted up a couple of gauge swatches. The pattern calls for size 9 and 10 needles; I’m not a huge fan of super bulky knits so my largest size needle would be an 8. Here’s my gauge swatch using an 8:

It’s ok but definitely not perfect. For starters, the stitches look a bit uneven and loose; you can really see the variation in thickness of the yarn. Also, while this gauge gave me a gauge roughly that of the pattern, I really wanted to knit something a bit smaller. As a fairly small woman (my ribcage measures 32″ around), I have a hard time with patterns that give a finished size small as having a bust measurement of 38″, as this one did. I know that aran/cable sweaters are not supposed to be tight, but 38″ would be swimming on me.

Lorien found an aran sweater that her grandmother knitted for her mom, and we measured it to compare it to the pattern:

It is ENORMOUS. It definitely measured 38″ plus at the bust. I tried it on and it held its shape completely without even getting close to my body. (Does that make any sense?) I cannot wear clothes like that if I want to look remotely my age. So, as is usually the case with me and knitting, it was back to the drawing board.

Here is my gauge swatch on a size 7 (4.5 mm) needle, the size recommended on the ball band:

It looks much better than the larger one. The stitches are even and well-defined, and the fabric has a clean look to it, unlike the other swatch, which was a bit sloppy. Unfortunately, going down one needle size didn’t do much to change the stitch gauge, so I will have to do some pattern altering.

In other news, here are some Hot Lava pictures.

I am on the second arm of the shrug and so far, I’m pleased with the results. I did have some concerns about the possibility of bunching at the underarm, because there is no shaping in that area. There is definitely some bunching, but I can live with it. My philosophy is similar to that of the ostrich: if I can’t see it, it isn’t there.

Here’s a side view:

And, finally, the back:

And that, my friends, is the knitting progress here. I hope to have some spinning pictures this evening.

Fiber update

May 26, 2006 at 7:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I brought only a couple of knitting projects with me to Turkey: a pair of socks that I’d been working on, and the yarn to make socks for my mom. Why socks? They don’t require much yarn and your basic sock can be worked anywhere without too much trouble. I ended up getting 3 socks out of one ball of yarn, and gave the matching pair to my dad. (Mainly because I’d forgotten his Christmas socks at home, but that’s another matter entirely.)

In Turkey, all of the women knit. The old(er) women, that is. I have no idea if the younger ones are being taught to knit or not; but everywhere I went, the old women in their headscarves were silently turning out a piece of knitwork. In Assoss, the path to the temple to Athena is lined with merchants selling their wares. Many of them are women selling handknit socks. On the way up, I didn’t stop at any of the stalls because nothing really appealed to me–a lot of the socks featured fun fur, a trend I hope dies a brutal death; and the somewhat sour faces of the vendors didn’t make me want to approach them. On the way back, however, I saw at one stall a woman cheerfully knitting away at a sock, so I stopped to talk to her. Using my very, very limited Turkish, I asked her if she knitted all of the socks for sale (on our flight to Istanbul, I stopped the Turkish flight attendant to get the words for yarn, knit, and wool). She said that her grandmother did, and explained that they raised sheep, spun their wool, and knitted the socks. (For “sheep,” she placed her hand flat, parallel with the ground at about sheep-height and said, “Baa.” So cute!) I had to buy a pair, thinking that despite their coarseness, they would be handy for cold winter nights and could be worn over another pair of socks.

I’ve definitely come back from Turkey with renewed enthusiasm for knitting and spinning. Right now, I’m knitting the Hot Lava cardigan–I am on the second sleeve of the shrug. Pictures sometime this weekend. I’m also working on spinning some really beautiful blue-green fiber from my favorite, Grafton Fibers. I plan on making one of the singles scarves featured in Spin-Off. Again, pictures this weekend.

Don’t leave me with the dead squirrel.*

May 25, 2006 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Don’t go flitting off to your boyfriend’s house and leave me to take out the garbage can that contains the (double-bagged) dead squirrel. I know that I didn’t help to remove it from the rain gutter, but seriously, I cannot come within 10 feet of dead, possibly (definitely by now) maggoty animals without having a serious nervous breakdown. Do you really want your roommate to be taken away in a straitjacket?

* Yes I’m feeling passive fucking aggressive. I reserve the right to express that passive aggression in my blog.

I’m not giving you the answers.

May 25, 2006 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I took the class last semester. I suffered through it. And I mean suffered–it was the worst academic experience of my life, and I hope to never take a class more disorganized or painful again. Not to be a sadist or anything, but I am so not giving you the answers. You have the assignment sheet; I’m sorry you don’t care enough or don’t have enough contacts in the class or don’t feel confident enough in your abilities to figure out how to do a literature review, but I’m not giving you the answers. When I wrote my lit review, I had to go over the course reading list and consult the relevant sources, search Wikipedia, and hash it out with my friends. What is more, I didn’t have the luxury of doing my research proposal in pieces; it was due all at once, at the very end of the semester, when I had other papers and finals to write. So no, I will not give you the answers.

Um, what?

May 25, 2006 at 8:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Just don’t.

This is one of the “surprise” patterns from Knitty, which might want to take more of an editorial role when accepting submissions. The quality at Knitty has been going ridiculously downhill with the past few issues; it’s been a while since I looked at a pattern featured on it and thought, “I would knit that.”

The problem with this pattern is twofold: one, knitted skirts are simply a bad idea; and two, the style of this skirt is unflattering. Knitters, bless their enthusiasm, are always trying to push the knitted skirt on us. Why? Why in the name of God would anyone want to use a naturally clingy fabric to clothe a part of the body that most women want to conceal? The only appropriate use for knitted fabric in the skirt department is a lacey shell over a slip. The second problem with this pattern is that the “cut” of this particular skirt emphasizes even further the shape of a woman’s hips; why not cut a hole in the bottom of a Hefty, tie it around your waist, and cinch the draw”string”? It would be cheaper.

If you’re interested…

May 25, 2006 at 12:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I’ve been sloooowly uploading my Turkey pictures to my Flickr page.

Movin’ out

May 24, 2006 at 8:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Ok, so maybe I used your laundry without permission several times once. But it wasn’t just me, I just happened to get caught.

But you:
* Told us that rent included all utilities, then when I asked a second time just to be sure, you said, “Oh wait, I’ll have to charge you girls extra for heat in the winter.” This would have been fine and not at all suspicious, if it had been mentioned before the fact.

* Stole my roommate’s newspaper and magazines several times. Then, when asked about it, totally and completely lied, saying, “I’m having the paper delivered too” (Oh, really? Then why haven’t I ever seen it?) and, “Well, maybe the dog took your magazine” (And put it on the passenger seat of your car? Don’t think so.).

* Constantly ask us to take care of your dog when you go out of town by calling from work, the airport, or by getting your assistant to call us. WE LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE. All you have to do to reach us is walk up one flight of stairs and knock on our door. And not once have you ever said thank you.

* Told my roommate she could have a cat, then when she asked you again today, you said, “No, sorry, I am allergic.” But you weren’t allergic 8 months ago, were you?

And that, my friends, is why we’re moving out. If anyone knows of a cute 2-bedroom apartment in a fabulous part of Toronto, let me know.

Ah, jet lag

May 23, 2006 at 6:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It’s not usually one of my habits to be voluntarily awake at 6:42 a.m. when I don’t actually have to be up until 8:30, but here I am. And what better thing to do when in the grip of jet lag than blog? It’s better than trying to do it at work (just kidding, cause God knows I’d never do a thing like that), which is where I’ll be spending most of my time for the next few days.

I think it’s time to talk about Istanbul. What a ridiculously interesting city. Aside from the obvious World Heritage site of Sultanahmet, which contains

the Blue Mosque,

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia),

Topkapi Palace,
cisterns, museums, etc. etc., this has to be one of the world’s most vibrant cities. I got a small taste of this one evening, when I went out with a guy who works at our hotel. We went to Taksim, with its huge pedestrian street, western stores (think Starbucks and Guess), and streams of attractive, sexy young Turks. We spent the evening flitting from cafe to bar to cafe, drinking tea and beer (not together, duh). That was an Istanbul I could relate to–smoky cafes, hookahs galore, and very few headscarves in sight.

Of course, I only saw the tourist/hip areas of town, and didn’t even wish to explore the fact that the city is achingly overpopulated and grossly overdeveloped. I would like to go back to Turkey and spend at least a full week in Istanbul, stay somewhere outside of Sultanahmet, and try to get a different experience of it. And by that, I mean that I would like to do more shopping. My parents aren’t shoppers. Well, my dad isn’t. My mom claims not to be, but she can sniff out a thrift store or a yard sale two miles away. However, she detests malls/new things so much that I’m pretty sure she’s actually certifiably allergic to them. I dragged them to the Grand Bazaar (5000 shops under one roof!) and that’s exactly what I was doing: dragging. They lagged behind me, not looking at anything, somehow failing to see the glittering jewellery, the pashminas and silk scarves, the handpainted ceramics, the shoes… Seriously, I cannot shop in such conditions. I felt guilty for stopping, knowing that my parents would rather be anywhere than where they were, and that they were only indulging me. I ended up buying one scarf and some ceramics: a teapot and two bowls. How I wished that Aundra were there, or Lorien, or both. We would have way overspent our baggage allowance; or maybe not: had I been with some decent shoppers, I would have brought at least one completely empty suitcase to pack full of loot. I usually frown on blatant, rampant consumerism, but how could I miss the opportunity to support the local economy? And to get some exotic, cool stuff that no one else has? (Or that everyone else has, considering that the Grand Bazaar is pretty damn touristy, but whatever.) I didn’t even get to the Spice Bazaar, nor did I investigate the rumors of fabulous second-hand finds. I didn’t even begin to tap Istanbul’s shopping potential. Oh well, guess that means I’ll have to go back!

Welcome back

May 22, 2006 at 7:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments


I arrived from Istanbul yesterday afternoon after a truly fabulous two weeks in Turkey. What an amazing country. We spent four days in Istanbul then drove down the Aegean coast, where we saw the ruins of Troy, Assoss, and Ephesus, among others. We then drove east to the lake district, where we stayed for three days on Lake Egirdir before driving back up to Istanbul.

Here are some of my favorite places out of everything we saw.

The Aya Sofya in Istanbul

The harem at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

The ruins at Troy–though they’re not as spectacular as those at Ephesus or Priene, they were the first that we saw and I looooved them.

The temple to Athena at Assoss. That’s my dad in this picture. I took a lot of film pictures of the site minus people, but not a lot of digital ones.

The countryside around Lake Egirdir.

Those are just some of the cool places that we saw. Over the next few days I’ll be posting more pictures and writing about some of the other places we visited. Right now though, I am seriously disoriented timewise and I managed to pick up some sort of bug. I’ve been living on ibuprofen and water for the past three days. I was totally Patient Zero on my flight from Milan yesterday–at one point I was shivering uncontrollably, as well as crying, cause I was feverish and had the worst body aches, and woe be unto those who were unfortunate enough to sit next to me. Though, judging from the amount of people coughing and sneezing, I suspect that the entire aircraft was infected with the bulk version of general traveller’s malaise. Anyway, thank God that this is Victoria Day in Canada and is some kind of holiday where I don’t have to go to work, so I can relax, catch up on the last two episodes of the OC (I know what happens, though, thanks to Lorien [I asked her to tell me] and a bunch of websites, and I have to say, holy fucking shit).

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