Dear Canada: You’re Stuck with us now

(N.B.  Dear Fellow Grammar Nerds: Apologies in advance for the wanton switches in pronoun focus below; I’m a wee bit exhausted.)

Unless otherwise noted, the wonderful photos below of our Big Day were taken by Anne Blayney.  She basically rocks, and made a great day even more special with her lovely kind silly support. Also: Butter Tarts!

Our Big, Happy, Life-Changing Day

There are very few days in one’s life when one can actually feel one’s life changing with every breath as the day unfolds. The birth of one’s first child. The birth of each child thereafter. Your wedding day. The day a parent dies. The day you receive the keys to your very first, very own home (and your very first, very own mortgage!) The first day of the dream job you never thought you would get. Each and every time you move through such a day, you are aware that your life will never be the same.

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All photos courtesy of Anne Blayney unless otherwise indicated.

Yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 19th, was such a day for Melody and I. We drove north to Kitchener, Ontario, as citizens of the United States, and permanent residents of Canada; we drove home several hours later as newly minted Canadian citizens and still loyal, grateful citizens of the United States.

We are now full citizens of two of the most inspiring, beautiful countries in the world, countries who each celebrate freedom and human dignity, who believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to liberty for all.

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Canada’s newest troublemakers citizens! 

We feel like the luckiest people in the world right now.

The Ceremony

It was an AMAZING day; 48 new Canadian citizens walked out of court yesterday at about 3 PM. Judge Wong and his clerk Ryan (apologies to Ryan for forgetting your last name!) clearly love their jobs, and both made us feel that Canada welcomed each and every one of us individually. In addition, both had obviously spent quite a bit of time studying our files and learning how to say our names properly. A lovely touch, and quite a feat considering there were 26 different countries/languages represented!

The judge met briefly with each of us after handing us our certificate (I am bringing it tonight, it is beautiful, plus I am proud as a peacock about the whole thing!), asked a few personal questions (such as what our journey to Canada had been like, what we did for a living) and welcomed us personally.

we talk with judge wong ryan looks on

Our personal meeting with Judge Wong, who is a wonderful, kind man. Clerk Ryan is to the right; Ryan is completely hilarious and made the entire ceremony run smoothly whilst setting us all at ease with his kindly and silly sense of humour.

It was a beautiful, deeply moving ceremony. And, on top of all of that wonderfulness, God graciously granted Melody and I a very special gift. After weeks of searching for a guest who could share this special day with us (after all: it was on a weekday, smack-dab in the middle of the day, in a town about 2 hours away in commuter traffic), literally two hours prior to the ceremony as we were in the car driving to the ceremony, a friend (a knitting friend, of course!) messaged us that her boss had given her the rest of the day off just so she could attend our citizenship ceremony! We were completely overjoyed that Anne kindly gave up her afternoon to be there. (I am also quite sad that we didn’t manage to get a good photo of ourselves with Anne! A passing gentleman held her camera and pointed and clicked, but he must have been from another dimension or something because all the photos he took came out very strangely overexposed.) We’d been a tiny bit depressed that we didn’t have anyone there to celebrate our big day with in person, despite the fact that dozens and dozens of our friends and family posted their congrats on Facebook, email, Twitter, and elsewhere. We knew we were not going to be truly alone during the ceremony; we knew dozens of you people would be there with us in spirit. But…there is just nothing like having someone sitting right there, cheering you on, snapping photos like a crazy person, clapping for you, and offering their love and support right there in real time. To have that sort of support right there in the room was wonderful.

Plus, as part of the celebration, Anne thoughtfully provided us with wonderfully sticky butter tarts to eat after the ceremony. We sat on tiny, rickety, colourful iron chairs outside, in a wee corner park at the end of the block, and laughed and talked and shared our favourite parts of the ceremony, and had a truly wonderful time.

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This amusing cardboard frame was sitting off to one side in the courtroom. Anne and I simply couldn’t resist! #unofficialphoto

It made all the difference. Thank you so very much, Anne. You’re now part of our family history in a very special and unique way. Couldn’t have asked for better.

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Official portrait: Judge Wong with Sandi and Melody Wiseheart, showing off our shiny new certificates of Canadian citizenship. Hooray!

Posted in Knitting | 7 Comments

Still Here, Still Obsessed with Yarn (and Cats!)

Hello, fine bloggie friends! It’s (past) time for another missive from Sandi’s YarnLand and Cat Worship Facility.

This month has been Cat Appreciation Month at my vet’s, and August 8 was International Cat Day. So, in the spirit of the all this, here is a pic of the whole Fab Five all in the same place at the same time.

all 5 edited blog

Do you have any idea how many pictures I had to take to get one, just ONE decent photo of all Five of my Fab Furbits together? That’s actually the reason that this post is going out a bit late: I was combing through my gigabytes of cat photos (don’t judge, let those amongst you without disk space filled with cat or dog pictures toss the first catnip mouse), and I didn’t find that one until a few days ago. (There was also the fact that I hadn’t organized my photos in a while. That was painful.) I do know that it took me at least a year of trying to get that one, taken in February of 2017. Clockwise from upper right corner: Dusty (male), then age 13; Tessa, then age 1; Zoë, then age 13 (Dusty’s littermate); Tim, then age 7; and Ben, then age 1.

And yes, Tessa does have ginormo paws. That one paw right there on Zoë’s shoulder has eight toes. Well, to be accurate: Five toes and three thumbs; each toe/thumb has its own pad and is completely functional. Her other front paw has the same number of toes/thumbs, although one of the thumbs has an atrophied muscle and thus is not functional, and thus is for display purposes only. Back feet have six digits each.

Yes, we are keeping an eye on her. If she shows any hint of being able to actually use those thumbs, any of them, well then, I guess we’ll be in a whack of trouble, won’t we? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Tour d’ Flail

The Fibre

The project I chose for this year’s Tour d’ Fleece was to turn 4 0z of gorgeous hand-dyed Finn fibre plus a similar amount of shiny silk into Yarn. Preferably nice yarn, but we all know how fibre is…has a woolly mind of its own.

I started with this.

Silk and Finn fibres

Top to bottom, above: (1) Green and blue hand-dyed Tussah silk, source lost in space and time; (2) lovely (if somewhat compressed) 100% Finn wool, hand-dyed by Dan Brewer of Gnomespun (note that the compression happened on my watch, not on Dan’s; I may have been a little overenthusiastic about packing my bins of fibre for the move into this house); and (3) some bits and bobs of the same batch of Finn, recaptured from its hidey hole under the sofa where I suspect it was re-appropriated to the lovely Ms. Zoe’s own stash.

my pretty girl Zoe

Who…me?

Ahhh….Ms. Zoë. She is gorgeous, but she is also a fellow Fibre-Hoar if ever there was one. I have to be very careful to make sure she is closed out of the room when I am drumcarding, otherwise, I will turn around to find her laying on her back right in the middle of a newly made batt, rolling around on it, purring as if it were a pile of México’s Finest. (Catnip, you sillies, what did you think I was going to say?).

The Tour Begins

Let me start off by saying that I have been a bit out of the loop this year, what with my father’s death, re-connecting with relatives after several years (which meant becoming a semi-active Facebook user, oh-my-dog, the wormhole that is social media!), eye surgery, new glasses, new braces, working on our Canadian citizenship papers, and the inevitable new homeowner’s first real round of Home Improvement, Canadian Style. (I’ll get to these breathtakingly exciting topics sooner or later, but Not Today.) (Tease, tease, tease.)

This meant that I actually had No Idea when the Tour itself started. I randomly picked a Saturday to begin, got in a lovely couple of hours doing fibre prep, and only afterward went on Rav to discover that it was actually the first day of the Tour d’ Fleece in truth! The rhythms of the fibre seasons, they are in my blood.

I originally started off just playing with the Finn (above), a new-to-me sheep breed. Then I found the green and blue silk fibre in my stash, so of course, that meant dragging out my scale, my bobbin winder, and my trusty drumcarder. (Let the fun begin!)

Over the next few days, I spent happy hours blending the silk and Finn, making happy batts, and spinning some samples.

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I think I may have something here.

Pretty Batts Pretty Paws

Tessa and her Mighty Twinkle Toes seem to think so.

Posted in Knitting | 8 Comments

A Finished Object Doth Bloom in Spring

Happy Spring!

Actually, by the time I hit Publish, it will be nearly time to wish everyone a Happy Summer Solstice. However, most of the original draft of this was written in April. At least I keep life interesting for y’all.

I am wearing a sleeveless short cotton dress. My windows are open. My toes are 93% thawed out. The patches of sunshine on my wood floors are sprouting cats all over the place.

Not to mention that there seems to be a BEN in my Green Knitting Chair, located in the perfect Sunny Spot in my living room.

Ben in his green chair.png


“MINE.” says 2-year-old Ben. Like every toddler the world over, Ben has quickly mastered the two most important words in a youngster’s small-but-mighty vocabulary: “Mine!” and “No!”

::sigh:: At least he is adorable.  Plus:

Winter, I am not a bit sad to bid thee farewell.

Catching up with Sandi’s Needles

It has been a long, long, LONG time since I did a basic knitterly sort of post. (About a year, actually. A Life-Ate-My-Brain kind of year.) How about some stitches?

Pansy Garden Tam

I finished it! I finished it!

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My own, uh, rather… whimsical… interpretation of the Pansy Garden Tam. (Photo credit: Me, April 2018.)

Pattern details: 
Pansy Garden Tam, designed by Donna Ritchie.

If you click on the link there, it will take you to Ms. Ritchie’s pattern page on Ravelry, where you can see beautiful photos of the Tam the way it was intended to appear, like this one:

Donna Ritchie orig pansy Garden Tam updated.png

Ms. Ritchie’s original, beautifully symmetric, version of the Pansy Garden Tam. Also, much more accurate colour portrayal than that in my own photo. (Photo credit: Donna Ritchie, Mrs. Knitter Designs, 2018.)

A few short moments of contemplation and comparison of the images above might cause you to notice some rather unusual features in my version. (Who says round tams have to have perfect radial symmetry at the top? Who says all the flowers in a given band must match one another? Pish-posh.) 

I feel compelled to point out that you will not find instructions for the mismatched, non-symmetrical motifs found in my hat anywhere, not on my site and especially not on Mrs. Knitter’s site. Ms. Ritchie’s original design is flawless in symmetry, balance, and consistency of motif.

In other words: It isn’t her fault I cannot count stitches in 8 groups of 12. It’s not her fault I chose to go stitch-marker commando on this project. As little fuzzbutt Ben would say: “MINE. ALLLLLL MINE.”

HOWEVER-AND-BUT-WAIT-A-MINUTE-HERE-HOLD-ON-NOW-FER-A-SECOND-THERE

I FINISHED A PROJECT. It’s done and it’s wearable and it actually has, in fact, been worn at least once outside of the house. So I feel justified in saying: I may be just a wee bit proud of myself for actually finishing something, after so many many months of barely being able to START something, let alone persevere to the finish line. And the Pansy Garden Tam is not just any old garter stitch toque: Seven colours! Two-handed stranded! Tiny needles!

As we used to say when Ravelry was younger, “I haz a proud.”

It’s stranded colour work, not true Fair Isle, in that it has no peeries (tiny repeated designs used in traditional Fair Isle colourwork), floats are frequently carried over more than four/five stitches, and its motifs are more representational than is usual with traditional Fair Isle. However, the smallish motifs and two-colours-per-round give the stitching the rocking, soothing effect that is one of the true pleasures of stranded knitting.

The pattern calls for using corrugated ribbing in the “brim”, and it was my first time trying out this pretty method. Despite the rather tricksy-sounding name, I found that it is a stitch pattern without tricks of any kind. Corrugated ribbing is nothing more than combining a [k2, p2] rib pattern with 2×2 columns of colour work [2 purple, 2 yellow] all the way around.

Pansy Tam - blocking underside - brim

For some reason, no mutant flowers were found on the underside of the hat upon completion.

Now, if you are a bit wobbly in your colourwork skills, you might be a little hesitant to incorporate purling into your colourwork toolset. Don’t be, really. Once you’ve hit the third or fourth stitch repeat, you forget you are doing anything with a special name and a fiddly reputation. It’s just knitting, and every knitter can handle anything that is “just knitting”, right? (The correct response is, “RIGHT!”)

My only advice in terms of purling and colourwork is this: Make sure your floats stay on the INSIDE of the project. (Voice of experience, obviously. I think I lost ten rows to that single mistake the first time through.)

Two more tips:
1.  Use markers,  at least one per repeat. Now is not the time to “go commando” and leave your pretty markers in their tins.
2.  If you are in the middle somewhere and discover that you have too few or too many stitches, look VERY carefully at your repeats and the solid colouring between the flowers, as these are the most likely spots for stitches to appear and disappear without permission.
3.  In fact, as you proceed through the pattern, please do make your increases/decreases there, between the motifs of the previous rounds, as best as you can. TRY VERY HARD to not make changes in the midst of the motifs themselves. Doing so may result in an unwelcome increase in Mutant Motifs.

Of course, I would never actually do such a thing myself. Of course not.

A final note on Finishing: My cast-on was much too loosey-goosey; the bright fuchsia edging was thus extremely ripple-y and ruffle-y. (Technical terms, of course.) I just could not bring myself to rip back after I finished the lovely ribbing, so I let it be as I knit the hat, letting the Girls in the Basement work on the problem.

My solution: After I had woven in six thousand ends (yes, yes; I am aware the instructions say to just tie knots and leave short ends which will full themselves into submission during blocking; I am also aware that this leaving-the-ends-alone is a traditional method used by knitters far more experienced than I. However, I am the Wilde & Fearless Childe of knitting, am I not? So I put on a very absorbing audiobook (Aliens! Hideous Monsters! Dark corners of an ancient pyramid under the Antarctic! Mysterious tones producing instantaneous mutations horrible to behold! Scientists too stupid to compete with one-celled organisms, and too clueless to believe the alien in front of their faces!  Scientists who are killed off one at a time in manners too gruesome to imagine! You know, the best that modern literature has to offer.) and wove in ends for an hour or so.

Once that was done and two-thirds of the scientists had been eaten, I threaded my yarn needle with the fuchsia yarn, and carefully folded the edge of the edging underneath and stitched it into place. This made a firmer, as well as neater, edge. Yay!

As mentioned in previous posts, I bought this in kit form, mainly because there were 7 colours and I am not (yet) totally confident in choosing my own colours for this sort of pattern. The colours in the kit were gorgeous, however, so I was quite content to trust the designer and (attempt to) just do as I was told (for a change!). The main colours are a sunny summer’s yellow and a spring’s dark deep pansy purple; contrasting colours include a mint green, an emerald green, a deep fuchsia, a navy blue, and a yellow-so-pale it seems almost white. (FWIW, The colours in the second photo above are more true-to-life.)

You can buy a downloadable PDF of the pattern here on Ravelry. If you would like to order a kit, or perhaps even a yarn pack of the colours, hop on over to Ms. Ritchies’ website, Mrs. Knitter Designs. Kits and yarn packs for the Pansy Garden Tam are available here.

 

 

Pansy hat Feb rib closeup v3.5.png

Tessa admires the beautiful yarn and tasty wooden needles used in this project. Also, see the ribbing? Corrugated, it is.

I’ve just now finished taking updated project photos of my current knitting projects, so there will be more Project Shenanigans next post. No doubt there will be OTHER sorts of Shenanigans as well, because when have I ever deprived y’all of Shenanigans?


† Girls in the Basement: Creative folks of all types often talk about setting aside a troublesome project for a while in order to give one’s subconscious time to figure out possible solutions. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, and also in his novel Bag of Bones, describes this process as “letting the boys in the basement move the furniture around for a bit”. Me being me, I have girls in my own basement, pushing tables, chairs, sofas, and spinning wheels from one corner to the other, working out how everything fits together, getting back to me with an answer while the Rest of Me edits and tweaks and twonks the text of whatever it is I am writing.

Posted in BenKitty, Books, Knitting, Making Things, stranded colourwork, Tessa | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Time Changes

Time stopped functioning properly, for me anyway, the day in late February when I got the phone call from my mom.

“The Phone Call”, as it were, since it seems that this particular sort of call is nearly always referred to in verbal capital letters. The minute one speaks that phrase with a particular intonation, it is instantly understood, at least in North American culture, what one is referring to.

Monday afternoon, February waning; my phone ringing. Then: Dad was in hospital; what was to come in the immediate future was uncertain, but perhaps I ought to get a plane ticket and fly “home” in the next day or two.

For the next few weeks, I would find myself pondering at odd moments, the quirk in our psyches that sometimes has adult children equating “home” with the house where Mom and Dad are living, regardless of extraneous facts such as where we grew up, how long we did (or did not, in my case) live in that particular house, etc. Mom lives there, Dad has his favourite chair there; family celebrations are held there. It’s Home, a Platonic Form of all things safe and loved, all things family and belonging.

I listened to my mom’s voice, did the usual daughterly calculations, and decided the heck with waiting for a plane flight, I was going to leave now, as in as soon as I could pack up my little green Bug and get out on the road.

Less than two hours later, I was in the Bug and on the highway headed for central Illinois. The next evening, I was with my mom and sister at the dinner table, grateful to have skipped the horror of the security lines at Pearson International (Toronto) Airport, the indignities of seating arrangements that force one into unwanted intimacy with strangers for hours on end. The following three days were days of Grace, precious hours spent with Dad before he peacefully slipped away into that green, sunlit valley on the other side, on the morning of March 3.

Dad May 23 2004 edited

Bill Sproule, my Dad (at our wedding, May 23, 2004)

This may sound ridiculous, but I found the following a steadying thought in the days that followed: I had never lost a parent before, and thus I literally had no idea what to expect, how to feel, what to think, what to do and when to do it. The flip side of this thought was this: No one expects you to know what to do, or behave a certain way, or follow some set of unwritten precepts. Again and again, I heard people around my mom and my sisters and I say things like: “It’s OK, don’t worry, everyone grieves in their own way, and there’s no right way to do it.”

I also was truly grateful for the space given to those who are mourning: Of course there will be times of tension. Of course there are bound to be emotional outbursts out of proportion to the mundane tasks at hand. Those who mourn are granted a certain freedom, a certain social permission to not be Socially Correct for a while. That graceful acknowledgment by those around us of the enormity of what we were going through was deeply comforting during these days, weeks, and beyond, of adjusting to the new reality of Dad Is Gone.

I’m still in shock. I know that, and those around me know it. I notice that I am avoiding writing (or speaking) about Dad himself, about anything too close to home, as it were. None of this is quite real to me yet. However, there is still the memorial service to get through, so perhaps I am to be allowed a bit of self-muffling, a certain degree of numbness, in order that I can do what is, perhaps, one of the most important jobs of Daughters, of Sons, at such a time: Supporting Mom through these days of public grief, just being there to add whatever comforts I can add to my mother’s already formidable reserves of strength.

As I say: Time isn’t working properly at present. Not for me, not yet.

I am infinitely grateful that this is a rather normal and to-be-expected symptom of grief. I know there are no rules, but it is reassuring to know that others have gone before me on this journey, this odd, timeless, chaotic journey after a loved parent has died, and what’s more, that those others have not only gone before me, but come out the other side, to the place where the clock starts running normally again, to the place where grief becomes a living memorial to Dad, instead of an island, remote and frozen, where time stops because the unthinkable has happened, and all the bits in one’s heart and soul have to stop what they are doing and rearrange themselves for the next season of life, the time where the clock ticks on, but clicks on with one parent instead of two.

My sisters and I have already informed Mom in not-completely-joking terms, that she, of course, is Not Allowed to Die. Yet. Not for a long while, we hope.

I, myself, need more time with her before that particular time change occurs.

Those of you with fathers still here on earth: Please call your dad tonight, or hug him if he is nearby. (Same goes for mothers, of course. Kiss ’em if you got ’em.) This bit of time and connection will cost you so little; it will be priceless someday.

I do have some lovely knitting to show off, but now is not the time. I hope know you will understand.

Stitch peacefully.
Sandi

Posted in Family, Just Life, Ponderings, Travel, Wheel of the Year | 21 Comments

January 6, 2018: Epiphanies

Well, hello there, Internet Friends. Long time no blog.

It has indeed been a while since you’ve heard much from me. A tweet here, a Facebook comment there, a Ravelry post every now and then.

It was never my intention to quit blogging, not forever, anyway. But as we all know, sometimes Life gets very selfish and wants all of our attention. Not just some of our attention, nor even most of our attention. Sometimes Life is like a hungry teenager, devouring everything in the house and then standing in front of the open refrigerator one last time to announce Imminent Starvation because There Is Nothing Left to Eat In The Entire House.

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BenKitten: “Mom! We’re out of kitty treats…AGAIN!”

When Life is that demanding, it’s rather challenging to ignore those demands, and take time to tap out a few hundred words, let alone a few hundred coherent words.

My life has never been about giving up. Just as in my knitting, I frequently hit obstacles in my life: I discover unmendable mistakes, I realize I have taken a road I once thought was creative, only to finally realize it was a simply a seductive brick wall. As in knitting, there comes a point where I must admit that trying to push ahead in a particular endeavor, despite obstacles, dropped stitches, and wrong-way decreases, is foolish and will never result in anything resembling the sweater I had in mind when I cast on. The sound of ripping stitches is then heard, the cats come running to help me rewind the yarn (so helpful, a knitter’s cats), and the project is set aside, to be considered and meditated upon until Further Notice.

Well: It’s time. This post is Further Notice. I am casting on again, taking up pen and keyboard and needles once more in service of continuing to knit a life for myself, a life that fits the person I am, the person I want to be, instead of the person I no longer am, or the person whom others might wish me to be. And I have a new goal this time ‘round, a goal for which I haven’t yet seen the map, nor do I know where the first step might be…except that the first step is also here, now, this time and this place.

The goal? To write, to knit, to do whatever it is I do (I really have Clue Zero what that is most days), not just for myself, but for others, somehow, someway; to help some of you knit a life for yourselves, too.

One thing I loved so much about KnittingDaily was that it allowed me to be a force for good in the community; I have missed that. I absolutely loved the comments that shouted “I FINALLY GET IT NOW!”; or the emails showing me pictures of a particularly well-executed bust dart. It was rewarding having y’all come up to me somewhere across North America, wearing a gorgeous handknit sweater and a grin to light up the entire city. Then, shy or struttin’, full of pride, so full of joy, you’d announce: “This is my KnittingDaily sweater, I made it with the tips you gave, and LOOK!” or “I used waist shaping for the first time, and I thought it would make me look fat, but I think I look kinda cute, don’t you?”

Yes, readers, indeed I did think all your sweaters you showed me over the years, whether in person or via photos, I thought all of them were amazing. (One of you even showed me a PONCHO you’d done, complete with shaping, that was truly a knockout, who knew a poncho could look so nice?) You were amazing with your courage (“Look, Sandi, I steeked! I had two glasses of wine first, but I steeked and it worked!”), and your creativity. I will NEVER ever forget the very tall, bear-shaped man who showed me the back of his handknit sweater, pointing out the darts up around his plush and padded shoulders, darts that made the back of a potentially baggy pullover look smooth and tailored, showing off his manly assets to their best. (At the time, I remember thinking that this guy was Paul Bunyon Going Incognito In YarnLand. He was awe-inspiring, if for nothing else than the fact that he had persevered through acres of stockinette stitch in pursuit of that quite handsome-on-him sweater. Well done, Sir. Well Done.) Your pride in learning was my pride in teaching; it was my pleasure to give back so much pleasure to my community.

I am the first to admit that I lost my way after stepping down from KD. That was one of the most painful decisions I have had to make, but in the end, I realized that KD was needed for other purposes in the life of Interweave, and I knew in my heart that I was not the right person to take her on that new adventure.

It was a huge loss for me, personally. I didn’t (and still don’t) know how to continue doing what I wanted to do without the support and resources of a company or group behind me. But as a favorite movie dad once said, “Small steps, Ellie. Small steps.” (Contact, starring Jodie Foster as Dr. Ellie Arroway and David Morse as The Dad.) First thing was to let myself heal from the loss of KD, to fully mourn, and in the end, to fully let go and acknowledge it was no longer “mine”.

As for the next step? Well…take a look at the header of my blog, if you would…I have a new tagline. A slight shift in perspective, a wider purpose, perhaps…or is it? I haven’t ever been one to sidestep some of the more thinky topics in my knitter’s life; perhaps the shift in the tagline is simply an acknowledgement of something that already is. Not one of you has ever asked me to “write less”; in fact, almost every one of you has, at one time or another, asked me to write MORE, more posts, more tutorials…and even Please Write A Book For Us, Ms. Sandi. It’s way past time to listen to what you’ve been telling me for a decade or so: That you WANT me to tell my stories, that you like it when I show you what I have learned from whatever I am currently working on, to share the questions, and the discoveries, that come to all of us who Make Things. It’s time to listen to what some of you have been telling me for a decade or more: Don’t listen to the inner voice that tells me I am an imposter (oh, yes; because Meg Swansen would TOTALLY come up to me and thank me for writing an imposter blog, yeah, that would happen); but instead, to please kindly listen to the folks who actually read the stuff I write–especially those of you who are still here, seven years on from my last post on KnittingDaily–and trust that when you ask me to write more, you mean it. You’ve hung in there with me over the good years and the bad; how about we see what 2018 can come up with for us?

There’s lots more to catch up on: new creative projects, new cat stories, new adventures, new stitches cast-on and knitted up. But rather than try to recap any of it, I’ll give you a brief glimpse into Now, catching you up along the way Later, saving the rest for Next Time.

Just for fun, let me show you my newest knitting project, because it is brightly coloured, and a lot of fun, and will result in something warm for this bitterly cold Canadian winter.

First two inches of a stranded colourwork hat. It's resting against a new project bag by Erin Lane, decorated with knitting sheep dressed as the various incarnations of Dr. Who.

It’s stranded colourwork! It’s a pre-hat, resting on a favourite project baaag (hee) by Erin Lane: Look at all the knitting Whovian sheeples! (That particular bag is a Large Project Bag, just in case that’s helpful to know.)

That is the seedling of a hat, a slouchy beret sort of hat. It’s called the Pansy Garden Tam, designed by Donna Frost Ritchie, and its colours are joy to the dark chills of midwinter here at the 43rd parallel.

More about this lovely project will have to wait a short while; as will news about my other adventures, and even new Silly Kitten Tricks.

Dusty, in his favourite sink, drinking from his favourite fountain.

Dusty, in his favourite sink, drinking from his favourite fountain. (“Now, with even more Adorable Pink Tongue action!”)

Peace, Sandi

Epiphany
Middle English: from Greek epiphainein ‘reveal’.

Epiphany, Capital E: The Feast of Epiphany occurs on January 6th; it celebrates the manifestation (“revelation”) of Christ to the Gentiles, as represented by the story of the 3 Wise Kings who “came from afar to worship the Baby Jesus.”

epiphany, lowercase e: A moment of sudden revelation or insight about the essential nature of things; a sudden illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure.

Posted in BenKitty, DustyCat, Knitting, New Year's Epiphanies, stranded colourwork, Wheel of the Year, Writing | 18 Comments

Sick (still), On the Mend (more or less), yet Busy (sort of)

Oh Heck. Let’s just throw caution to the winds and begin with a cat photo or two.

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Tessa, about 18 mos: Rotary Cutter? I don’t need no stinkin’ rotary cutter, not with paws like these, baby.

Dusty sprinkles 2

Dusty, after a long and happy session of drinking out of the tub faucet: Look, Mom! I have diamonds on my nose! 

OK, ¡basta! (Spanish for “enough!”) There can (and no doubt will) be more cat pics later.

Sick (still): Pain is not my friend, but it sure seems to hang out here a lot. When Pain stops by, it usually brings its cousin, Fatigue. I know I’m supposed to be all mindful and healing from within with visualizations and aromatherapy and whatnot, but to tell you the truth, I loathe Fatigue, sometimes much much more than Cousin Pain. I love to be useful, to be productive, to be Doing Things. These days, that’s just not happening. Four months now. This is RIDICULOUS. I register my official protest with the Usual Suspect. (You there, the Entity known as All and Everywhere and Within. Yep,  You. Check Your Holy Inbox, please.)

fence flowers 2

On the Mend (more or less): Two steps forward, one step back. My hand tremors have let up, a grace for which I am extremely thankful. I can type again! Imagine me, who lives through writing words, not able to write words. (No wonder I feel so squirrely of late.) Also, I don’t seem to need naps as much. I am sleeping better when I am supposed to be sleeping, often all the way through the night (yay!). I am stronger and have more stamina now than when summer began. I have been walking as well as doing daily stretches and resistance exercises. However, Cousins Pain & Fatigue are still slinking about, stealing a lovely morning here, and a sunny afternoon there. I have asked them politely to stop and to Go Away, but they just smirk at me and play with the remote control some more.

Busy (sort of): I’ve discovered that even when my body is out of commission, my mind and my spirit do not want to sit around watching bad movies on Netflix all day long. Nor do they wish to wallow in my favourite cushy chair, meekly sipping noodle broth, feet propped up on my perfectly well-behaved ottoman.

Tim-knitting is to sleep on

Knitting is to sleep on, says Tim

However. “Rest,” the doc says. Thus, M. gamely tries to encourage me to do all those Resting sorts of things one is supposed to do whilst ill. I, however, am not a good sick person, and I do not like to Rest. To make things even less Rest-friendly around here, there’s no one here to feed me grapes, waft breezes my way with peacock feathers, or place a damp, cold, pure white linen cloth on my fevered brow. (I mean, really. What good is it having a chronic illness and being down for the count for four months when there is no one to waft peacock feathers at me? How am I supposed to properly Suffer and Endure under these conditions?)

peacock fan

Don’t start googling “peacock feather fan” unless you have a slice of your life to lose. My score: 45 minutes. This one is from Etsy: ReturnToVintageUK.

Besides. There is yarn in my house. How can I possibly sit quietly on the sofa Resting when there is yarn to be fondled–and rather nice yarn at that? And fiber. I am surrounded by gorgeous bits and bags of fibres: washed fluffy fleeces, various samples from classes I took at PlyAway 2 the last week in April (AKA the last week I could function somewhat like a regular person), fibre gifts from concerned friends (I love you, my friends, you have bestowed so many bright spots on me in the past few months of Personal Yuck); not to mention The SpinWheelie Girls: two Schachts, one Lendrum, one Ashford Elizabeth II, and oh yes: the charming new-to-me Babe charkha I bought at PlyAway. (I have spindles, too, but best not to go there right now. My hand tremors still fight with those a bit too much.) And fabric! And quilt patterns! And half-finished quilt tops, oh my!

Birthday Alpaca Yarn

Birthday Alpaca (Laceweight), from a Very Nice Person

I also have felting needles and some really cute kits from GoingGnome, but even I realize that fingers controlled (loosely speaking) by randomly sparking synapses ought not to be anywhere in the vicinity of a five-inch barbed super-sharp needle.

In light of all this Craft Bounty and Time on My Hands, one might think I have completed every UFO in the house. One would be quite wrong. I have spent much of the past four months hopping from one project to the next, from one craft to the next, in an effort to see what I can work on without too much hissing and growling (from me, not the cats).

Allow me to take you on a wee tour of my Crafty Whilst Chronic Adventures.

A Hoodie of Her Own

I found an old friend: the custom-cabled Central-Park Hoodie I started as a gift for my sister Liz. She picked out the yarn, the colour, and the hoodie pattern, but seemed less than thrilled with the actual cables on the original Central Park Hoodie.

Naturally, me being me, I headed off-road into uncharted (heh) territory.

Try 64 of Hoodie Hem

Hoodie Attempt #64: Back Hem, just before the start of cables (And yes, that’s a handwoven-by-Sandi towel.)

At first, I designed a vertical panel or two of interlocking hearts to replace the simple twists on the original. This meant I had to adjust the stitch count and gauge a bit, oh, and tailor the thing to Liz’s specs and measurements, which meant, in the end, admitting to myself that I was really writing a whole new hoodie pattern, one that resembled the CPH only in that it has a hood, sleeves, and cables. I am calling it Liz’s Lake Ontario Hoodie II, which seemed somewhat appropriate. (Version I was frogged back in 2013. Bad cable, no donut.)

This time around, I cleaned up the cable panels, which meant ripping back everything I had already done in terms of knitting and starting over from scratch. New stitch counts, new gauge, new size of needles… Yep. Still me, not a zombie, not a pod person. Radically myself in that I cannot leave a good pattern well enough alone.

Swatch of Hem Cables

Hoodie Hem Cables

I spent a couple of months re-charting and re-figuring numbers (brain fog and fatigue are not kind to precision at times), and so here I am, done with the hem of the back, a few rows into the interlocking hearts chart.

If this all seems vaguely familiar, then thank you, you are a long-term reader from the original Knitting Daily! I posted about Liz’s Lake Ontario Hoodie ages ago when I started Attempt #2.

hoodie sleeve 1202

The original heart cable panel. Messy. Especially the interior of the hearts, and the badly-shaped…er…shaping.

I posted a photo like the one above of the sleeve, complete with the heart cables as they were at the time. I subsequently was flooded with requests for the chart. If you are still waiting…my apologies, but it’s an even better chart now. More chocolatey flavour in the heart cables. Promise.

I have considerably tweaked and twonked the cables quite substantially, and am happier with the results. I am not sharing the cable chart yet, as I am feeling a bit proprietary about it for now. It’s no doubt unvented, and no doubt exists in a thousand designers’ imaginations, but I had not seen one like it when I started designing it (I went searching for heart cables for months), and good golly Miss Molly, making it work and charting it was a big job.

Besides, I don’t have a decent swatch to show with it, and what’s a chart of a new-to-me cable without a lovely swatch?

Qiviut Shawl, The Return of

In the past year or so, I have had a surprising number of requests for help regarding the Qiviut Shawlette I designed for SpinOff Winter 2010. As it turns out, the charts in the mag were printed in a rather confusing way; the instructions are missing about three paragraphs (short, but important), and the stitches down the spine of the shawl never quite looked right to me.

I have sent in errata, yes, but I know how it is, working on an Interweave magazine, right? Insane amounts of work and deadlines everywhere. There was a time that I was managing editor on 11, count ’em, eleven issues at one time. So I am not surprised if somehow, the errata went into outer space. Past Jupiter, by now, probably.

Qshawl_stdefn

The original Qiviut Shawlette, wee and a bit wonky. Motifs in the upper section are supposed to invoke Musk Ox faces, complete with horns. Motifs in the lower section represent prairie flowers; and the border is sort of vine-y and leafy, reminding me of all the “vegetable” matter I removed from the gift of raw qiviut.

So I think it is waaayyy past time for me to redo the charts and make the changes I have always wanted to make (instructions on how to enlarge it, for one thing). I’ve been working on that this summer, and I am very glad to be tending to something I worked so hard on and that so many of you still seem to love so very much.

But wait…there’s MORE

Oh, yes, there is. But I will split up those project reports into more blog posts, which will be a Good Thing. (I truly, really, am trying to wrangle myself into some sort of daily/weekly schedule, taking the Cousins’ gift of a complete upheaval of my routine and turning it into an opportunity of sorts. See above re: two steps forward and the inevitable one back.)  I am sewing, and working on some cross-stitch, and doing a bit of hand quilting…and of course, there are more knitting WIPs to show you. There is also yarn-in-the-making; unfinished quilt tops; and even one partly stitched Loch Ness Monster toy hiding in my sewing box. In general, I have been messing about with any sort of crafty thing I can get my hands on. As one does, if one is Sandi.

I know I am somewhat fortunate to have all this time and luxury to indulge my crafty self…except that I am still not quite back to normal (whatever that is now), so there are days when I have neither focus nor energy, and/or my hands are too shaky to manage tools and tiny motions. Life-In-Balance is not mine, sayeth the Sandi, and really, truly: I would just like to have a job, even a part-time job, something to get me out of the house, someplace where there are those fabled Other Humans with whom I might have grown up conversations. I am tired of feeling useless; I yearn to be my “was-normal” busy, productive self.

Also, some sanity would be nice.

All in good time, my pretties, all in good time.

Enjoy your stitches.
Sandi

Posted in DustyCat, Knitting, Making Things, Quilting, Sewing & Stitching, Spinning, Tessa, TimKitten, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Quilt

Ten minutes ago, I opened a box that came in the mail. It’s a thundery sort of day, pouring down rain by the bucketful; our wonderful postal worker Angie dashed from her vehicle to our door with the box covered by her clipboard so that it wouldn’t get too wet. (It didn’t.)

Melody brought the box into the kitchen where I was having coffee, and said, what’s this? I looked at it quickly, and replied that I had no idea. She went off to the city for an appointment; I got caught up in pattern writing, forgetting about the package until I went into the kitchen for a late lunch.

gorgeous rainbow quilt (29 colours)

That is what was in the box. Yes, it is handmade, by a friend on the (U.S.) East Coast. Enclosed was a card signed by a crowd of my Ravelry friends from (literally) around the globe. In addition to chipping in for the fabric for the quilt, they’d made a donation to a charity they knew I would like.

The card was of the “Get Well Soon, We Miss You” category. Due to illness, I haven’t been able to play on Rav (nor anywhere else online, including my blog) for going on for three months now. I’ve poked my head in now and then, but mostly I’ve been a bit busy dealing with being sick. It’s been kind of awful to be away from my Rav friends; sometimes, on bad days, my lonely and pain-addled mind has gone to dark places: What if they mean more to me than I mean to them? Would anyone notice if I was on the forum or not? Even if they did notice, would they care?

It can take weeks, even months, to plan and make a quilt this size; especially if the maker has a demanding full-time job, or, say, is in school. As quilter myself, I know full well this isn’t one of those Mile-A-Minute projects (“You can start this on Friday night and have it ready to give to the mom-to-be at Monday’s office baby shower!” Yeah. Nope.) So. I guess I have my answer. Folks noticed. And they definitely care. More than I knew.

My gratitude defies words.

The box is a bit wet now. Well, the quilt is too; it’s actually damp in one corner. Sorry about that, but tears are like that. They fall where they will; and one has a tendency to grab the nearest soft bit of cloth with which to dry them. In this case, I was sitting with the quilt all scrunched up in my arms, burying my face in it, so really, the tears had no where else to go.

My wish for the world is that everyone have friends like these.

I hug you all.
Sandi

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