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

Posted in Knitting | 13 Comments

Just For Fun

Hi there!

Today, I have something a little bit different for you: A video podcast!

TOPICS include:

  • Showing off Projects
  • Yak Yarn Pr0n;
  • Wee cutenesses;
  • Cabin fever;
  • Crafting and writing as ways of gathering myself together when everything around me is crazy pants;
  • One more project, and
  • The End.

Here we go…

The Making Of

I have never made a video before, not of myself, I mean. It’s a bit scary for me, this video-making, and as I went through the process of filming, editing, and writing these notes, I figured out one or two little obstacles I had to overcome before publishing this post. First: I am self-conscious about Being on Camera. (That’s a big Duh.) Second: I don’t have any formal training in shooting videos, nor do I have Clue One about editing a video (aside from the four hours of tutorials and reading I did yesterday afternoon). When those two things come together, I realize I have a bigger problem: I don’t like to let something out into the world if it isn’t Professional and Perfect and someone-please-call-the-Sundance-folks amazing.

Given the above First and Second, and given that I don’t feel that my entire success in life hinges on this one bit of video, and given that today is the third day I’ve worked on the video and it’s as good as it is going to get, well. (Don’t bother calling Sundance; not yet anyway.)

So it isn’t perfect. Oh. Well. However, the truth is: Wow, you know what? Making videos is FUN. Oh, Bob. I don’t know if it will be fun for you kind folks to watch, but let’s do it anyway. Mostly because: I will take fun and playfulness any day over stuffy professionalism.

So this vid is quite homey, homey in that I don’t have the resources (yet) to go all  Craftsy on you with the beautiful sets and perfectly groomed host. I didn’t have a nice script all worked out, and I didn’t try to be formal or grownup or anything other than just me.

Regarding “homey production values”…yeah. The focus is a wee off in parts, the lighting is what it is, and I proceed to make all the appropriate rookie podcast maker mistakes. I spend a few moments talking with my hand in front of my face. I did two edits, and the transitions between clips are not as smooth as one might wish. Oh, and I spend a fair bit of time looking off camera, and gesturing off towards my right. My desk is over there; the sofa with  Catzen is there, and Melody’s office is over that too. Oh, and to my left is the glass sliding door to The Outside. Just makin’ sure you know where all the important stuff is, right?

Links & More Info

clapotisfront

CLAPOTIS

And How About that Lovely Yak/Cormo Yarn?

  • Main Website: Bijou Basin Ranch
  • Page for the specific yarn I am using: Bijou Bliss Sport Gradients
  • Colours: I started off with one ball of the Fuchsia Ombre Flow (currently on the needles) and will make my way through two additional balls in different parts of the gradient: Lilac Ombre Flow (one dark, one light).

Felt Toys and Dolls

Cynthia Treen Studio
Etsy Shop: Felt Kits, PDF patterns, and supplies for hand-sewn about-the-house companions: foxes, raccoons, frogs, and more
Blog/Studio website

birdie-blues

© Cynthia Treen Studio

Gingermelon
Etsy Shop: Unique hand-sewn felt dolls, critters, and tiny clothes; along with everything you need (PDF patterns, felt, kits) to make one (or more) for yourself.
Blog: Charming, crystal-clear looks into her design process and mad making skillz. If you look at the left sidebar, there is a list of “tutorials”, which is Shelly’s way of saying Free Patterns, Folks. Tiny Miniature Bunnies, anyone?

easter-tute7

This one looks ferocious. Watch those ears, there.
Tiny Bunnies, a free pattern from Gingermelon.

Fact Check

Somewhere in the second half, I talk about the trade relationships between Canada (where I live) and the United States (where my heart lives, in California, specifically).

Yeah, I know. Freaky, eh? Sandi talking about economics and trade. (I promise, I kept my hands behind my back the whole time and didn’t touch anything important.) Somewhere in there, though, I did allow some Statistical Numbers to drop out of my mouth. Given how important the whole concept of Truth has become, I went off to find out what the REAL numbers were. And here they are:

A final note: Yes, look at those hands shake, shake, shake! Don’t worry about my shaking hands; that’s just what they do. They shake. It’s not nervousness or anxiety (well, not completely, anyway); I have had shaky hands all my life. It’s something called a terminal tremor, or something like that, meaning that it’s a neuromuscular problem and it can’t really be fixed.

 

Posted in Felt, Felting, & Fulling, Knitting, Sewing & Stitching | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

news from the wee town of orange

Well, hello there. How are you kind folks? Tired of winter yet? ::rolls eyes:: Here’s what it looks like outside my window as of five minutes ago…

snow-hill

Wiseheart Mountain

And out the back window…

snow-back-porch

That poor little mini-fir-tree out back. It looks like one of those fantasy winter trees you see in paintings with gnomes and hedgehogs and polka-dotted mushrooms. Only without the cute friendly forest critters and gnomes. Boooo.

Warning: More pictures than usual in this post. (12 plus a slideshow!) I will ‘splain anon.

Yesterday, it snowed about, oh, six? eight? inches. Big, quarter-sized flakes, with the winds making a blizzard out of everything, just for added fun. Heavy, wet snow, the kind that gives you a backache just looking at it. Melody was a hero and shoveled the driveway this morning, and of course it took sooo much longer than anticipated. There was no way I was going to get out of the house on time, and she just barely made it to her meeting at York U., with minutes to spare.

After last year’s relatively snowless winter, this one has been a very wintery blustery winter so far. We have had weeks of snow and grey skies, day after day after day, punctuated by the occasional day like Saturday: Brilliant blue skies, with the sunshine setting everything to sparkle. On these sunny days, I watch as the ice and snow make interesting sculptures on our deck.

Over the weekend, the Outside made lace with ice and snow:

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A delicate ice window edged with lace

Down-railing a bit, there was an icy bridge rounding the corner:

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One can see that poor St. Francis has been sporting a new winter look.

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He looks like Bishop Francis with that hat so high

Note that the above pic was actually taken about 2-3 weeks ago, before the snow really got started. As of the other day, Francis was buried up to his Bible in white stuff.

francis-up-to-bible

Someone knit Francis a big foofy shawl.
Maybe it was done via arm knitting, using roving.
I understand that is trés stylin’ these days.
Nifty door screen special effects are on special today for readers of this blog!

The Suburban Plague

It was probably just as well I didn’t get out the door. I have The Creeping Crud, as my mom would say. Yeah. I’m sick, smitten with that horrible never-ending flu that is going around. (Did I get a flu shot when I ought to have gotten one? No. I mean, why should I? I’m only kinda-sorta really immuno-compromised, but I still have a handful of white blood cells around here somewhere. Don’t need no stinking flu shot.)

I seem to have a never-ending eye-roll going on here.

I woke up yesterday with no voice; today I have a voice but no energy to do much with it. That’s the worst part of this particular Flu Fu: It’s one of those that leaves you too fatigued to really focus on anything, but not fatigued enough to sleep all day. Grrrr. Arrrgh.

The last few weeks have been sort of sickly surreal around here. Melody came down with the Human Hairball-Hacking Horror (some mundanes call it “bronchitis”), and her weeks of constant coughing have kept both of us awake most nights. Sleep deprivation, let me tell you, is not good for the soul. Nor for the mental health of the household; we’ve been snipping at each other like scissors at times, bleary-eyed and exhausted. In light of this, we both have developed a new level of respect for OTC cough meds. Melody usually hates taking pills unless she HAS to; after a week or so of nights of endless coughing, she decided that the evils of multi-syllabic ingredients in her nighttime cough medicine were worth a few nights of actual REM sleep. Unfortunately, in her case, the “all-night” effects last a mere 4-5 hours, and then it’s pajama party time at 2:15 AM promptly every morning. Whee!

Good times.

Luckily there are many amusements to be had in the wee hours at Casa Wiseheart. There’s the nightly storms, for example. And the blizzard-making winds. And the after-dark special effects. The other night, the wind threw branches against the outside of my bedroom wall, and I went to peer out various windows only to find the yard (and the driveway) covered in glass:

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shiny icy night

Needless to say, the only thing happening on that driveway might possibly be a nice game of ice hockey. (It’s not actual glass, of course. Half-inch thick ice, that’s all.)

As for more things on the list of Midnight Fun Activities… One can clean one’s sewing table, for example.

clean-sewing-table

Who knew the top of my table was white?

One can also work on projects! Sometimes, I work on quilts: the quilt-in-progress above is this one:

heart_quilt_pattern

I quilted for years Back in The Ago, before Interweave and the yarn arts stole my heart. Sometime within the past two years, I caught the quilting bug again, and now all hope of any free storage space in our home is lost forever. I have a yarn stash, a spinning fibre stash, a very small weaving thread-cone stash, a sensible (ahem) bead stash, and now, once again, I have a fabric stash.

Abandon hope, and all that.

I have not found my old quilt stash yet (something about unopened boxes in my basement?), and my new fabric stash is not yet (!) the sort that has a lot of leftover scraps and bits and bobs. A quilt like the Triangle Heart Quilt above requires either scrappy leftovers, or a good collection of fat quarters/eighths; when I decided to make this quilt, I had neither. (Melody, I can hear you laughing. Stop that. Trust me, mine is a TINY fabric stash. In comparison. No, really. No, no, don’t laugh LOUDER, you silly woman.)

So, last fall, off I went to Sew Sisters quilt shop in Toronto, and there on a table was the biggest basket of random fat eighths and fat quarters I could imagine. It took me an hour of scrounging (“there, wait, I think I see one at the very bottom…”), colour matching, consulting with the quilt shop ladies, and a fair measure of what I call Colour Humility: accepting that there was just no way I was going to be able to put together a colourway I was comfortable with (something having to do with, oh, say…purple, and perhaps green, and maybe even blue). I had to go with what was there, and what was there just happened to be close enough to the main pattern photo that I felt as though I had a prayer-and-a-half of the quilt not being a total eyesore.

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Triangles for the Heart Quilt

I have never worked with coral before. Nor large amounts of yellow and gold. And ORANGE. There are ORANGE triangles in my quilt top. Coral, yellow, gold, and orange. And turquoise. And red. And olive green. Those, people, are the Seven Colours of the Apocalypse. (Run for your lives.)

Since I took that photo above, I have cut out allllllllll the triangles, and put them in piles according to which strip they belong in, in the proper order, even. I have sewn several more strips, but weirdly, I do not have a photo of any of that…because a few months later, I brought home two very enchanting kittens, who proceeded to hog ALL the camera time.

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Tessa is so tiny!
She and Ben are 2-3 weeks apart in age. Or thereabouts.

However, I have managed to work on a few quilty and knitty things in the months since last March’s Great Kitten Takeover (Make Kittens Great Again!), as long as I accepted the fact that whatever I have in my hands is irresistible to small hunters-to-be.

Yes, I Still Knit

My friend Mardi went to Rhinebeck this last November, and brought me back a little prezzie: A lovely cake of Yak/Cormo yarn from the nice folks at Bijou Basin Ranch. (Careful, there. BBR has an evil inventory, you’ve been warned.)

This was so incredibly kind of her. You see, I was all packed and ready to go to Rhinebeck myself; at the last moment, I had to grit my teeth and admit to myself that in the ongoing argument between me and Pain as to who is boss around here, Pain was definitely winning that week; a long drive and a long weekend on my feet outside was probably the last thing I ought to be attempting. GRRRR ARRRRGH.

I have had to miss several festivals in the past two years due to this particular Grumpy-Maker aka Pain Sucks. I miss my fibre friends, and my lovely vendor pals, and, of course, the alpacas/sheep/paco-vicuńas/llama/dogs/critters. And all that lovely yarn and fluffy fluff. I thought of y’all the whole weekend, and sent you Fab Festival thoughts. (There’s always Next Time.)

However, the bright side: Courtesy of my wise friend, I now had 240 yds of blissful Yak+Cormo+Colours. I sifted through All The Patterns in an effort to come up with a Worthy Something. Nothing seemed right; in the end, I realized that the problem was not the yarn, but the LACK of yarn: I simply did not have enough yardage to knit a Worthy Thing. So, I did what any sensible knitter would do, and went online to see if I could find More Yarn. And guess what. The nice BBR folks not only had the same colour, they had a gorgeous coordinating gradient as well. Two “Add to Cart” clicks later, and look!

I made you a story slideshow because I am a total geek: (The slides are numbered 1–7. I can’t figure out how to tell it how to start with Slide One, so if you are starting in the middle, go ahead and click back to the beginning.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s going to be my first Clapotis! Hot pink at one end, moving to lavender, then darker lavender, then lighter lavender, to lavender grey, to nearly white at the other end.

Thank you, Mardi! (And take THAT, winter.)

Hm. WordPress says I have outdone myself this post, with over 1900 words. Well. It did take me two weeks to write all those words, given the Creeping Crud and all.

The sun just peeked out for a bit! These glimpses of sunshine have been blissful, and the house is soon dotted with furry chins like this one:

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Ben happily sunning his chin.
The photo is fuzzy because Ben is fuzzy.
Sure it is. I stand by my alternative fact.

I have more knitting, quilting, crafty stories to tell, as usual. After all: You no doubt have questions, some of which might be:

  • Will Sandi ever finish that red cardigan?
  • What the heck does she DO every day, anyway?
  • Wasn’t there something about a duck quilt?
  • Has she finished ANYTHING lately? A sock? A swatch, even?
  • Why no posts for a whole month? 
  • Why so many pictures in this one post?
  • Where are the other kitties? We demand a Dusty photo!
  • And how is Zoë doing?
  • Does Tessa still have more toes than whiskers?
  • What is Tim snuggling with this time?
  • WHERE ARE THE CHISPAS?!??

I know it’s all important to someone out there. My mom. Me. Stalkers. A reader or four.  👀  All the fun folks!  😉

So, there will be more stories to come. Thanks for sticking with me through the weeks of of no posts. Y’all are the best.  ❤️

1913 words
My, my.
(1916 now.)

Posted in Knitting | 8 Comments

Upgrading to New Year 2.0

Upgrading to 2017

I don’t know about you, but I am completely upgrading to the new version of Year 2.0: Version 2017. Because, trust me: 2016 has GOT TO GO.

All in favour, say AMEN.

Goodness. I ought to have put my earplugs in first. Enthusiastic, much, eh?

At first, I wanted to say that 2016 sucked, big time. Trouble is, it didn’t. Suck, I mean. Well, okay, maybe it had its (long, protracted, get-me-outta-here) moments of deep and powerful Suckage; but it wasn’t all one big Dyson. There were days, sometimes several in a row, even, when one felt the air was clear enough to do that breathing thing.

Those days were a true gift, in and amongst all the loud, clamoring, drama-filled, over-the-top days (and some nights) of sheer Overwhelm, Overdone, and Out-of-Control Nail-Biting. The Drama Llama not only came to visit, she took over the entire guest room and guest bath, plonked herself down at the head of the table, and asked Dusty to fetch her slippers for her, as she was too busy eating the dark chocolate I had bought for myself (for medicinal purposes, of course).

I am pretty sure I saw Dusty gave her the feline equivalent of the Impolite Finger, re-adjust his tail to cover his eyes, and continue to go right on snoring. I believe at the moment, he is planning his speech for Sunday’s Kick the Year Out On Its Arse and Its Little Drama Llama, too ceremony.

The Usual End of Year Project Report: Part One

I finished ONE knitting project this year. Despite its lonely status, I am pleased with the outcome:

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Ruth’s Leafy Fingerless Mitts

The yarn is handspun, and was finished in 2016, so that counts as a FO as well.

The sweet little mitts were a gift for a very special person, my friend Ruth. Ruth is one of those folks people are drawn to: deeply good, deeply kind, as well as funny, knowledgeable, and wise; she also has great stories from her own life to tell. I wanted something special to give to her, her being the special person she is.

I love how these mitts came out. I wore them for a couple of days before giving them to Ruth, and I have to say it was a wee bit difficult to part with them. Good thing I know the yarn spinner. She has more yarn! And more cute buttons! And she still knits! (Yes, I do have more of the yarn. And yes, I do still knit. Just not, apparently, finish said knits.)

I might even have my own pair of cute mitts by the end of 2017, who knows?

I have two other knitting projects I have been steadily working on, a pair of socks, and the endless Little Red Cardi. The socks are an unbelievably tiny-for-me 9 sts to the inch, so they may not be done until we have a new president. No, not the one coming up. The next one.

Up next time: Quilting Projects Report

You will have noticed a lack of photos in this post. Explanation coming next time. OF COURSE I have a story to tell about that. I always have stories. 🙂

Also next time, or perhaps the time after that: I have some news for you. Let me get my head together about it, and then I promise to share. Is it bad news? Good news? Good Grief, I have no idea. Not yet, anyway.

HAPPY 2017!

HOPE IS OUR SONG, 
LOVE IS OUR WORD, 
JOY IS OUR STAR, and 
COMPASSION OUR GIFT TO THE WORLD

yeah, I wrote that. Just now, in fact.

 

Posted in Knitting | 11 Comments