May 31, 2004

Uninspired

It’s barely above 10C and it’s rainy and windy and I’m not feeling very inspired about anything productive at the moment. All I want to do is curl up on the couch and knit, preferably with wool. That might keep my fingers warm. (I’m currently refusing to turn on the furnace again, in spite of the low temperatures, because I don’t believe we should be heating the house at the end of May. I won’t be beaten by reality!).

For once I can’t complain about the timing of the awful weather, though, since it was sunny and clear all weekend and only started raining this morning. It wasn’t particularly warm on the weekend, but I’ll take what I can get. In particular, I was grateful for the clear skies on Saturday because I attended a Jays’ game, and it was nice to have the roof open. Though once the sun left our side of the stands and the wind picked up it was pretty cold. Still, the Jays won (rather a rare event this year) and I had good company, so I had a great time. I must manage to get to a few more games this year, preferably once the weather has really truly warmed up.

After the game we headed over to a friend’s house to watch the hockey, (and after that The Pink Panther, because it happened to be on CBC — what a wonderful movie!) and between that evening and Sunday night’s viewing of one of the Poirot dvds I bought Mark for his birthday I managed to finish the second striped sock. Again, however, I’m too lazy to take pictures right now (cf. the beginning of this entry…) so you can just imagine it looking pretty much exactly like the first sock; remarkably, it actually does — no problems with the patterning matching up this time. I’ve now started a pair of children’s socks with the remains of the yarn; I’m not making these for any child in particular but just trying to use up the yarn, so I hope I can find someone with the right-sized feet!

That’s all for now; time to go make dinner, I think.

Posted by Aven at 06:46 PM | Comments (2)

May 28, 2004

Troy

First, I’ve finished the first of the striped socks:

stripedsock1done.jpg

It’s not easy taking pictures of one’s own foot, especially when one is trying to display the sock on said foot to its best advantage; my first attempts produced some rather artsy results. I’m also making progress on the sweater for Mark, though I had to rip out several inches and I haven’t yet caught back up. It seems that the acrylic I’m working with, while achieving the stitch gauge perfectly, is off on the row gauge. The pattern I’m using gives a row count, not measurements (because it was originally written for a striped sweater), and I didn’t think to check if the body was truly long enough before I bound off for the armholes and started the shaping. It turns out it was about an inch too short, so after working on the armhole for a few days I had to pull it out, knit an inch further, and then do the shaping again. Irritating, but it’s my own fault for not checking earlier.

In other news, we went to see Troy today. I won’t bore you with a full review, but I will say that while they changed some major plot points (a number of important characters who should have survived died, while several people who should have died survived), and there were of course any number of minor inaccuracies (but really, it’s a mythical story set in an only partially known historical period, so how accurate can anyone be?), I actually thought that the movie captured the feel, emotions, and motivations of the epics quite well. Much better than most other attempts at dramatizing the ancient world, at any rate. Other than Achilles saying that the gods envied humans their mortality (which is pretty much the exact opposite of the oft-stated archaic Greek view of life and the gods), I thought the values and attitudes expressed by the characters were pretty true to the Iliadic world-view.

Plus, I found it quite moving. Now, anyone who knows me knows that it isn’t very hard to make me cry over a movie, and it’s true that I might have been reacting as much to my memory of the Iliad as to the movie itself, but I still found it remarkably emotional to see that story come to life. Call me insufficiently critical-minded if you like, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now I’m off to enjoy the evening and hang out with an old friend who’s in town for the weekend. In spite of Stephanie’s complaints and dire predictions (completely justified, of course, considering the weather we’ve had for the last few weeks), it’s actually sunny today; not warm, but sunny. We’ll take what we can get! It’s barbecue time again!

And I’ve harvested more mint from our garden for mojitos…

Posted by Aven at 06:03 PM | Comments (3)

May 25, 2004

Quiet

Not much to report around here; the knitting continues, but there’s nothing exciting to show you, as yet. Yesterday was a holiday, and while that had no actual meaning for us (since we don’t have any scheduled work on Mondays) we still felt it was important to mark the occasion. It’s not every day your country celebrates the birthday of a dead queen (oh, and officially I think it’s also meant to mark the living one’s birthday as well). So we had what was conceptually a barbecue; however, due to the cold, rain, and threats of severe thunderstorms, it was more of an eat-barbecued-food-inside-with-sweaters-on kind of night. Still, I made pie

pies.jpg

with rhubarb from our garden, so as far as I was concerned the event was a success.

That’s all I can think of to say — sorry! I’ll try to finish something, at least, for my next posting.

Posted by Aven at 04:36 PM | Comments (4)

May 22, 2004

Photos

I didn’t put any photos in my last entry because I was too lazy to go get the camera and take pictures of the completed and started socks. But I’ve managed to overcome my inertia briefly, so here they are. The finished pair:

colorisocks.jpg

And the sock-in-progress:

stripedsock1.jpg

I don’t know how well you can see this in the finished pair, but the yarn did not variegate the same way in the two socks, and so did not form the same patterns — this is perhaps due to the balls being wound different directions by the manufacturer (so that the pattern is reversed), or there may be some other reason that escapes me. Also, due to some problems with pattern reading on my part there are more stitches around the foot than around the leg, meaning that there are different patterns on those two sections on the same sock, as well. In fact, there are four distinct patterns in these two socks, all produced by the exact same yarn (left foot, right foot, left leg, right leg):

samples.jpg

While this means that the socks don’t match exactly, it doesn’t bother me; but it does surprise me a little that there could be such variation.

I hope everyone’s enjoying the long weekend!

Posted by Aven at 05:02 PM | Comments (3)

May 20, 2004

Report

So, this conference in Quebec City was the annual meeting of the Classical Association of Canada, and I gave my first-ever conference paper at it. I’m happy to report that everything went well, at least from my perspective; my paper was in the first session on the first day, and no one asked any nasty or difficult questions, so I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference. Which I did — the location was fabulous, everything was run very well and went very smoothly, I had lots of lovely food and wine, and I met a number of very friendly and interesting people. So, all in all, it was a very successful trip.

The days were, however, very long and busy, and I don’t yet feel that I am in a position to pull out my knitting while listening to the papers, so I didn’t get a huge amount of knitting done. However the train rides were 9 hours long each way, so I did get some things accomplished. I’ve finished the second toe-up sock, and started another pair, this time in a true self-patterning yarn, which I find extremely fun to knit with.

There is a sad note, though. In preparation for my previous trip to Ottawa I had put together a small collection of knitting tools necessary for knitting and finishing the socks: a tape-measure, nail scissors, a larger dpn for casting off, some waste yarn for holding stitches, a tapestry needle for threading said yarn through stitches, and a crochet hook, all of which I put in a nice embroidered make-up bag. This was very compact and useful, and I brought it to Quebec as well. However, when I got off the train in Quebec City I left it on the floor under my seat by mistake. The people at the Quebec City train station didn’t find it, and I haven’t been able to ask at the Montreal station yet, but it looks like it’s gone forever. Nothing in it is irreplaceable, though I did like the make-up bag, but it meant that I couldn’t cast off the sock I finished the first night when I arrived, and had to put the stitches onto some yarn so that I could use the needles I had to start the next sock. Tragic, isn’t it.

Oh, in response to questions on a recent entry — the picture of Mark was taken at a carolling party over Christmas, and the sweater he’s wearing is one of the first I made for him, with heavy Icelandic Lopi. There is an obvious error in a cable near the neck, but at the time I wasn’t persnickety enough to fix it. And Mike, I don’t think I’m taking orders quite yet, but if I can ever satisfy Mark’s insatiable desire for knitted garments I may start looking for other recipients of traditional male sweaters… I like knitting them but I really can’t wear arans and other heavy sweaters because they’re too warm.

That’s it for now — I’ve got to get back to my work and convince myself that I’m not on vacation, even if the weather has become distractingly lovely!

Posted by Aven at 07:07 PM | Comments (5)

Back

I’m back from the conference; I’ll write more about the trip and the knitting aspects of it soon, but in the meantime I’ll just say that Quebec City was absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t understand why I haven’t been there before. What was I thinking?

Anyway, I’m catching up on life after getting back into town last night, but I do have a couple of pictures to post of knitting, and a sad story to tell about leaving possessions on trains, so I’ll try to post again today.

Posted by Aven at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2004

Out of Town

Just a quick note — I’m off to a conference in Quebec City and won’t be back until Wednesday evening, so no blog updates until then. I hope to get alot of sock knitting done on the train, though.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by Aven at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2004

Birthday Wishes

Happy Birthday Mark! I hope you have a fabulous day (at least once the work parts of it are over).

I love you, sweetie!

Markpic.jpg

Posted by Aven at 10:12 AM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2004

Knitting!

Well, I’m a day late, but I am finally going to talk about knitting. A while ago I started another sweater for Mark. The yarn is Patons Canadiana, a 100% acrylic yarn — he needs some lighter sweaters, and wool is just too warm for the spring and fall. We couldn’t find a pattern that he liked, other than ones I’ve already made for him; he has very specific and fairly traditional tastes, and there just aren’t a huge number of men’s patterns out there, or at least we couldn’t find them. So I’m adapting a pattern he does like, and likes the fit of — it’s a Patons pattern called Simple Stripes, written for their Classic Wool. There’s a picture of it here, and the details and a couple more pictures are on my FO’s page. I’m ignoring the colour changes and substituting an all-over knit/purl pattern called the King Charles Brocade; I’ve also replaced the ribbing with a band of seed stitch because I think it goes better with the pattern. This is my progress so far:

brocade.jpg

And here’s the stitch close-up:

brocadestitch.jpg

My assumption, naive though it may be, is that the addition of the stitch pattern should make no difference to the rest of the pattern; the gauge is the same, so surely it’s just a matter of maintaining continuity while I do the shaping. That’s my theory, anyway — we’ll see how it all turns out!

Finally, since there appears to be some interest, I present to you the bunny-ears pictures — me and my good friend Mike. In case you’re wondering, these lovely items of apparel were sent to us by my mother for Easter. There really is no good story associated with why we’re wearing them, unless you consider the consumption of six batches of frozen margaritas by five people in one evening a good story…

Posted by Aven at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)

May 11, 2004

Sun madness

I promise I am still knitting — but there won’t be any evidence of it in this post. It’s suddenly jumped from 10 degrees and rainy (with hail for added enjoyment!) to 25 degrees and blissfully bright blue skies. I’m just not capable of concentrating on knitting, so I’m reporting on the outdoors, instead.

Because it is so gorgeous out today I took my books and notebooks outside into the back garden to sit in the sun while I worked. Here’s the view from my lawnchair:

gardenfeet.jpg

Those are the hops, of course, still growing at a phenomenal pace, even though I culled them heavily this weekend. They should really grow to 10’ or so, but we don’t have tall enough supports, so they need to be trimmed at about 6’ or they fall over and coil in on themselves.

Tigger joined me in the garden, of course; he loves it when we go out there with him. He mostly lounged around in the shade, but he also came to visit me and hang out under the lawnchair:

tiggerunderchair.jpg

I actually managed to get quite a bit of work done before fear of incipient sunburn drove me inside. It was lovely.

There’s a secondary, but also extremely gratifying, aspect to the summery weather:

laundry.jpg

We don’t have a dryer in this house, though we do have a washing machine, so all winter the clothes dry on lines in the basement. It’s so nice to finally have them airing in the sun again! And much quicker.

And finally I’ll finish up this long and inconsequential post with a picture of one of the moneyplants (also called silver dollars, I think) in our backyard; I think these are often considered weeds, or at least I’m pretty sure our neighbours think they are, but I find them so pretty that I can’t bear to pull them up. They’re welcome to the edges of my garden as far as I’m concerned.

moneyplant.jpg

Tomorrow, knitting. I promise.

Posted by Aven at 03:52 PM | Comments (5)

May 08, 2004

Socialising!

Wow — the last two days have been a whirlwind of social activity! It’s a bit of a shock to the system for a recluse like me (though that’s by necessity, not inclination). First, on Thursday I took the train up to Ottawa to attend my father’s retirement party — which was a blast. It was wonderful to see so many people there, and to hear all the warm, loving, and admiring things they said about him. I’ve always known my father is a wonderful person, but it’s great to see that others know it too, and will tell him so.

Here he is, performing his newly composed “Algonquin College Talking Blues” for the assembled crowd:

talkingblues.jpg

And showing off one of his gifts from the department, clippers (or, as he said they are called ‘in the trade’, secateurs) for his new avocation, tree pruning:

secateurs.jpg

I don’t think we need to worry that he won’t know what to do with himself now that he’s not teaching or administrating any more!

Then, on Friday, I took the 12:30 train back to Toronto, getting in at 5:00 pm, and rushed home to do some quick baking and set up for having friends over for desserts, margaritas, and Trivial Pursuit. I think I can confidently state that a good time was had by all, and I can certainly state that a quite astonishing quantity of frozen strawberry (and raspberry) margaritas was consumed, but that there’s a slightly surprising number of cheesecake brownies left over — I know we were all full from the chicken wings, pound cake, ice cream and margaritas, people, but I expected better. Now I’m alone in a house with a platter of cheesecake brownies in the fridge — not fair, not fair at all.

And of course we mustn’t forget the bunny ears incident — if properly persuaded by encouraging comments, I might just have to post photographic evidence…

Oh, lost in all of that was some knitting — on the train home I finished a sock:

firstcolorisock.jpg

Now I’m sitting around doing very little, recovering my strength after all the excitement. It’s possible that cheesecake brownies may be involved in the process…

Update: My father says those aren’t secateurs he’s holding up, but a folding pruning saw. Clearly I am not a professional tree pruner!

Posted by Aven at 03:06 PM | Comments (2)

May 05, 2004

Quick post

Just a quick note to say I’m off to Ottawa tomorrow, just overnight, for my dad’s retirement party (Congratulations, Dad!). I’ll have a four hour train ride each way, so I should get lots of knitting done — I’m hoping to finish the socks.

I’ve also started the next sweater for Mark, but I’ll go into that in more detail later. Oh, and I’ll need to update my WIP list — I’m woefully behind! But not tonight.

I’ll post again on Friday or Saturday, with a FO picture, I hope!

Enjoy the end of the week, everyone!

Posted by Aven at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2004

On to the next!

I’ve finished the baby blanket. Actually, I finished it yesterday and wanted to blog about it then, but there was a certain impediment to taking a good picture:

tiggeronblanket.jpg

He spent the whole evening there. Only this morning was I able to take a picture sans chat:

babyblanket.jpg

And here is the Roman Stripe stitch up close. I think from now on I’m going to stick to little sweaters and booties for new babies — blankets fail to take full advantage of the most appealing thing about babies, their small size. The blanket, though simple, seemed to take forever.

After finishing the blanket I finally allowed myself to dig into the oodles of sock yarn I bought from Elann a while ago and started my first self-patterning sock:

colorisocktoe.jpg

The colours aren’t right in this picture, but it was the closest I could get. They should be jewel-tone greens, blues, and purples, my favourite colours. Since this will be only the second pair of socks I’ve made, it’s fun to be already experimenting with construction techniques — this is the toe-up sock pattern offered free on the Elann website to go with this yarn. I like it already because it avoids the grafting at the toe that I’m so hopeless at!

I’m also swatching for the next sweater for Mark — more on that tomorrow, perhaps.

Posted by Aven at 09:21 AM | Comments (3)

May 01, 2004

Marking

Not much new around here right now — the exam for the course I taught this term was on Wednesday night, so I’ve been mainly marking since. The only amusing thing about the exam was that it was from 7-10 p.m., right during the Leafs-Flyers game. One of my TA’s and I were very annoyed to be missing the hockey, and two of my students came in wearing Leafs jerseys. So, in a blatant bout of unprofessional behaviour, my TA got a friend of his to text-message him the score updates on his cell-phone, which he would then pass on to me and, at intervals, to the two students wearing Leafs jerseys — who didn’t seem at all annoyed at the interruption, since the Leafs were winning!

Silly, but it helped get us all through the three hours. I hate invigilating exams — I think I’d rather sit them. At least one has something to do then…

This weekend I really, really should get to the garden, and mow the front lawn — but I have to finish my marking first. Fortunately it’s threatening rain right now, so I don’t feel too miserable about being stuck inside.

I’m getting close to finishing the baby blanket, but I’m not there yet — with luck, I’ll have a FO picture by the end of the weekend.

I hope you enjoy your weekend more than I think I will mine!

Posted by Aven at 01:57 PM | Comments (1)