May 2007


My package arrived! Back in March I signed up for the Knitters’ Treat Exchange. If you are reading this and aren’t a knitter, you may not know that one of the knitting trends spawned by the internet is the gift exchange / secret pal swap phenomenon. I don’t know exactly how to describe it because this was my first one. Two Irish knitters organized it. They matched up the dozens of people from around the globe who signed up, and sent each of us our assigned treatee. I think some of these swaps are just yarn; some of them seem to be finished object – e.g., knit a scarf and send it to a stranger, and another stranger sends you a scarf they made. I think in some cases, your pal remains secret, but in this case you would eventually find out who was sending you something. For the Knitters Treat Exchange, there was a list of suggested treats not just for knitting, but for pampering as well. Everyone who signed up filled out a questionnaire to guide their treater.

I sent a parcel very far away and it hasn’t arrived there yet, as far as I can tell from spying on my recipient’s blog. Mine didn’t make it there by the finishing date for the exchange because I didn’t want to spring for $44 airmail! The destination is surrounded by water, so it’s on a slow boat I guess … I hope she will get it soon.

Meanwhile, my KTE pal sent me a lovely package with nice treats for me and for my furry family. She also sent it from pretty far away … but between the Royal Mail and Canada Post, I had it in hand only six days after she mailed it from England. Specifically, my KTE Pal Emily sent my parcel from Wallsend which is just outside Newcastle. I thought that was cool because a musical hero of my youth is Eric Burdon and he is from Newcastle. (No I’m not that old … When I was in high school in the 80s, the 60s were what the 80’s are to the kids today. Except my friends and I were trendsetters I’m sure.)

But I digress. Look what I got:

Two skeins of exciting laceweight yarn. It’s handknit and hand-dyed wool that is not much thicker than thread. The two skeins total 1900 metres in length. And she also sent me a pattern for a beautiful stole to make with it. This is exactly the kind of project I want to work toward. Note that I say work toward … I think I’ll have to do a couple of intermediate lace patterns before I dare tackle this one. But I really like it!

And as a bonus there is a magazine for me to peruse (okay I already have done so), nice-smelling bath treats, a bookmark (I like bookmarks more than you probably realize) and even something for my kitties. Like most felines, my cats love catnip. These catnip drops are a convenient way to feed it to them, and they loved it. (I gave some to Molly the token dog, so she wouldn’t feel left out, but she seemed unaffected. I wonder why that is.) Clark is a belligerent drunk, he gets feisty on catnip, but Ruby is a happy stoner. She loved the drops so much that she tried to eat the wrapping paper that had been around the unopened package!

Back to the lace stole pattern. The pattern is a design by Eunny Jang, based on traditional Shetland lace patterns and elements. The motorcyclist in me can’t help but see something else …

It’s not just me – Bill saw it too when I quizzed him. Call me crazy but I like it all the more for this reason. This opens (to my mind) a whole fascinating possibility of lace patterns designs based on tire treads. I’m not the only knitting motorcyclist out there, but that is a challenge for a stronger mind than mine.

Thank you KTE pal, from all of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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… It’s ‘Ocean Mist’, the latest “theme” from WordPress.  I wonder if I will like it.

EDIT: No I didn’t really like it. Back to the “Cutline” theme.

It’s five months into 2007, and I have been living up to something I vowed to do this year: knit more for myself. Last year it seemed that I made a lot of things for other people. I still will – I have a couple of things in mind at the moment – but I’m also planning a few nice things for myself. I also was determined to get back to making socks. Thus I’m pleased that I’m now nearly finished my first two pairs of socks for myself.

In the past I’ve made myself a couple of pairs of socks, and they were too loose. I tend to be a loose knitter so in retrospect I wished I had used smaller needles. Also they were 2×2 rib, which meant there was a high ratio of transitions between knit and purl stitches. I was a bit apprehensive about trying again, but I’m using smaller needles and a 3×1 rib, and they have worked out well. First I started with some Opal Seide, wool & silk … they feel so soft to the hand and on the foot. And I love the Lantern Moon ebony needles (2.25mm). They are so smooth. I do wish they were shorter; at 7 inches there is just a little too much of a good thing.

At the same time I’ve been working on a pair with just regular opal wool & nylon in this circus-y colour. I would be unlikely to buy a pair of socks in this pattern. The thing about spending a lot of your waking time in a yarn store is, you spend a lot of time thinking about a certain ball of yarn and then eventually you find yourself buying it. In this case, I was intrigued by an irregularity in the dye pattern – you can see it in the cuff of the finished sock. Turns out it is the only such anomaly. But I like these socks for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the 5-inch Brittany needles too. They used to be my favourite, until I discovered the delicious smoothness of the ebony needles. Perfection would be a hybrid of the two: 5-inch ebony.

I have one more self-patterning yarn I couldn’t help but buy: one of Opal’s Hundertwasser collection. Then, the low-key speckly green. I am working toward some gorgeous hand-dyed solid yarns that will be well-suited to patterns more interesting than the knit 3 purl 1 rib I’ve done so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wooden gadget there is a case made specially to hold little double-pointed needles. They are made by Wray Parsons on Vancouver Island. He makes beautiful wooden tools for sewers and knitters. He asked for ideas and I suggested this … he made a few and sent them with our order for the store. I had first pick, and bought the one I liked best! It’s one of those things that is just a thing … but it is truly beautiful and functional, and I love it.

 

I hope to keep socks on the go throughout the year – they are so portable, they’re handy when travelling or when I want something relatively mindless to work on. I’m almost finished the sweater for my niece (really) – then I will start something really exciting for me, a long-sleeved linen shirt in a zig-zaggy rib pattern. It’s called Felicia, by Louet, and I have the jungle green linen all ready to go. It will be more of a challenge for me but I can’t wait to wear this!

One week ago, my neighbour’s motorcycle was stolen from the outdoor parking lot of our condo apartment building. Three of us who live here own bikes, the three bikes exemplifying the wide range of style and function among motorcycles. The bike that was stolen was just purchased by my neighbour a month or two ago, a lightly-used Kawasaki Z-1000. It was a very sharp-looking sportbike with sexy-sounding rumbly aftermarket exhaust pipes. The other one is a 40+ year-old Harley which, if you like that kind of thing, is pretty spiffy with its chrome bits and well-kept vintage look. Its owner is never seen without his full-on biker costume, living the life. He also happens to be the best-known and friendliest resident of the building. Good thing, because the sound of that bike with its blatting, blasting loud pipes sets my teeth on edge whenever he drives past. Then there’s my little putt-putt, a well-worn 9-year-old BMW F650 dual sport with a sound closer to a sewing machine than a Harley. To most people it’s an odd-looking bike. I happen to love it, and Bill’s little dog Molly always preferred it over his ugly KLR650. [He’s upgraded to a Suzuki DL1000 VStrom which I think Molly approves of.]

When the sportbike was stolen, it was the talk of the hallways & parking lot. Apparently it was a fairly brazen 2 a.m. job, with the thieves throwing the bike into the back of a pickup truck and pealing out of the lot. I cringed when I heard that the morons hadn’t secured the bike and it fell out. They tossed it back in and took off.

I was told that someone in the next building watched the thieves move around the parking lot and lift the covers of the three bikes. Unfortunately for my neighbour, her newish sportbike was the most likely candidate for theft. Still, the Harley neighbour and I are both pretty wary now. We’ve heard reports or rumours that the thieves have boldly returned, breaking into a vehicle parked here, and continuing to eye our bikes. The idea that someone would steal my bike feels absurd and abstract, on the one hand, and on the other hand makes me very angry. Any kind of theft feels like a violation, but I would venture to say that there is something intensely personal about a motorcycle, more so than other vehicles. Anyone who owns or has owned a motorcycle would agree with me, I think. I’m not the kind of person who names their bike – that’s embarassing – but there’s something about a bike that feels like a close personal relationship. Maybe it’s because you are both exposed to the same elements and risks. It’s a more equal partnership than being coddled in a car where you are always the right temperature and can even enjoy a coffee while you drive.

Yesterday evening, six days after the theft, I was told that the person whose apartment is directly in front of my parking space had seen a possibly suspicious vehicle driving back and forth. We know the description of the thieves’ truck, thanks to video surveillance cameras. So last night, I stayed up until nearly 3 a.m. carrying out a paranoid vigil. I felt compelled to return to the windows every time I heard a vehicle go by, especially after 1:30 or so. At one point I thought I saw a truck fitting the description lurking at the far end of the parking lot so I did the natural thing and … went out to check it out. I wondered what would happen if I did actually come across bad guys snooping around. I almost wished I would see them so I could get a plate number and call the police. Once I got out there, I realized the truck was a mini-pickup that lives here, so I went back in.

I spent a lot of time staring out at this scene in the middle of the night last night. That’s my baby under the cover. My biker neighbour is working on his bike near the top of he photo.

Trying to fall asleep sometime after 3:00 this morning, distracted by each vehicle sound, I remembered that my bike has an alarm built in. I only used it once before, years ago, when I was still living in Toronto. I forgot about it and nearly had a heart attack when I set it off by removing the bike’s cover, and never used it again. I’m not even sure I’ll remember how to set it, but I should try it again. If I can find the key for it. I have started using my disk lock again. This is a small Kryptonite U-lock that fastens onto the front brake disk. It won’t thwart a gang of thieving bastards who want to throw a bike into a truck, but it will make the whole process harder since the front wheel won’t turn. I had stopped using that lock because of an embarassing incident last summer where I forgot it was on … Geared up, bike warmed up, pop it into first and start rolling out of the parking space. A nanosecond of wondering why the bike feels wonky then WHAM suddenly the bike is on the ground. Yeah, that’s ‘what happens when something is clamped on the front brake disk! Doh!

So I let complacency creep in. Who would want my dinged up bike with the cracked seat, scratched left front tank cover, rusting and peeling bar ends, anyway? But the sickening feeling that some scuzzballs have been cruising around here, successfully stealing one bike, means I’m going to reinstate my little security measures, just in case. I’ll probably also end up peering out the window a lot late tonight, too.

Aside from stalking bike thieves, I spent some time this afternoon stalking my cat Clark trying to get a video of him snoring. You won’t believe how loud it is … I could hear it from the next room. Stay tuned for exciting footage.

Do you know about Etsy? It is a wonderful website that is a sort of marketplace for people who like to buy and sell hand-made things. It’s easy to get mesmerized, browsing through all the beautiful things on the site. I’ve bought a few things lately because I wanted to support the people making things, and also simply because I saw nice things that I like. Here are my little treasures … unfortunately my photos don’t do them justice.

First, the cuffs: I’ve never owned a leather cuff and I got the idea in my head that I should. So I was browsing many of them on Etsy. I had a hard time deciding between a few, so I ended up buying two.

The one on the left is leather that’s been dyed green with a stamped tree pattern on it. The one on the right is soft leather with random coloured grommets. I like them both. They appeal to my inner tomboy I guess.

And of all things, I bought yarn on Etsy. There are about a million people selling hand-dyed yarns but some stand out more than others. The colours of Fearless Fibres caught my eye. Both Bill and I have gotten into making socks lately, and I bought some sock yarn for each of us:

The dark one, “Deepest Forest” is for Bill. It’s beautiful dark shades of green with a lot of black in it. The brighter one is for me … Kiwi Lime. It’s a little brighter than I thought, but I like it. The wool is 100% merino, superwash, something typically used for socks (for the non-knitters reading). This particular wool is really soft and cushiony, and I can’t wait to start knitting with it. That will happen after I complete the two pairs of socks I have on the go now, and the hoodie cardigan for my niece that is so close to being finished.

I also bought one more nice little item but I can’t show it. That’s because it’s a belated birthday gift for my sister and she might look here now and then. It just arrived today, so I’d better get it in the mail to her soon.

Once I get my life a little more organized, and once I’ve filled the orders for my glass (three stores waiting for shipments from me), I might like to try selling some of my jewelry on Etsy. If you even remotely like nifty hand-made things, head over there and have a browse.