Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sunday Finals

For the (probably) last time, here I present final pictures of my completed Knitting Olympics project - the Noro scarf in a fishtail pattern.

I do really like how it's turned out. And it's light enough that I can wear it inside, too, as an accessory, which I've done a couple of times now. I've been wearing this quite a lot, to tell the truth. My dream is that someone I don't know, somewhere will stop me to tell me how beautiful it is and where did I get it. I know that this won't happen, because everybody these days wears gorgeous scarves, so mine really isn't anything out of the ordinary. But I did come close today, to that dream. When I was at the counter in Lewiscraft, the clerk reached out to my scarf and asked what kind of yarn it was, and how beautiful it is (the yarn) and how much she loves Noro. It's close to gushing over the scarf itself, so I'll take it.

And now more pictures.

These were taken on my oh-so-picturesque balcony of concrete.

But the trip out today wasn't just to display the scarf (although that may have been enough to keep me happy). I also made a stop at Lush, and picked up some fun bath stuff that I plan to bring on my next hotel stay. I love using a bath tub that gets cleaned every day, as opposed to my own, that get cleaned... um. Yep, it gets cleaned.

I love the Lush stuff - it's so pink and pretty and smells so yummy.

Then it was off to Lewiscraft, where I encountered the wonderful Noro-wise sales clerk,

and greatly expanded my stash with much yarn that I have no idea what to

do with. But I really like the bright orange, fluffy stuff. That may end up yet another scarf, unless I can think of something else fun.

And, finally, I picked up a little something for Sebastian.


Not Very Kermit-Like

I am being a bad neighbour. I currently have the Grey's Anatomy soundtrack playing so loudly that even I find it a tad uncomfortable. (It's good, by the way) But the reason that I have this excessive volume isn't to tick off my neighbours - that's just such a bad idea that it's incomprehensible. No, it's the result of someone a floor (or maybe two) above me playing - something - so loudly that the rhythmless, pounding bass sounds more like construction being done by monkeys than like any kind of music. I don't understand it - if it was even a beat, or a repeating pattern, then I could identify it as music and just kind of ignore as best I can. But it's not - it just seems like some kind of random banging that is seeping into my brain via the base of my skull and curdling there into a pulsing knot of pain. At least the knot has a beat.

I am about to venture out in search of respite from the noise. Yes, that's right - mark it on your calendar - on a weekend, I am leaving my house. It turns out Lewiscraft has gone under, so I'm going to Square One to pick over the remains for any yarn that I can subsequently stuff into my ever-growing stash. I'm also going to try to get an outdoor shot of the scarf, to have an official, Olympics closing ceremony day picture of my completed project, that can show the colours as they really are, and not the flash-faded, hard to make out colours from the other day.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I did leave the house last night, as well. I went with Deena and a friend of hers to a housewarming party for (another) friend of theirs in Guelph. It turned out to be an odd sort of reunion for me. The beginning of the evening was full of, "Did you go to Guelph?", "Yeah, you look really familiar" conversation. And it progressed to a room full of engineers, iron rings flashing in the subdued light, talking about P.Eng exams and EITs, and what the other engineers we knew are doing now, which was all rather surreal, with the Calling of An Engineer framed on the wall nearby. It did make me feel better to see people who don't have their P.Eng. yet, and are even thinking of not getting it, wearing their rings, too. I've been thinking a bit lately about taking it off, because I'm not working as an Engineer, being in Quality, and I'm not looking to make a move back in that direction any time soon. I resist, though, because my degree is something that I'm proud of - I know that it was hard to get through those four years, but I did it successfully. And yes, it's always a bit of a minor thrill when someone spots the ring and asks, "Oh, are you an engineer?" It's also a great conversation starter, because we can start talking about what schools we went to, and my (and their) discipline, and by then you can ease into a real talk.

But mostly, I like the feeling of wearing it because it reminds me that I have the ability to think clearly and logically, and to analyse a situation properly, and find solutions, and to figure things out when I need to. It's a reminder that I need some days, when I feel stupid and slow and as if I have accomplished nothing of worth.

Wow - that really wasn't what I started to write about. But it'll do. Now, my ring and I are going shopping.

I Love Muppets

You Are Kermit
Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!
The Muppet Personality Test

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympic Victory

No, I'm not talking about the women's hockey gold medal - although, yes, I must admit that that is impressive and exciting.

But not as exciting as my Knitting Olympics victory. :)

I have successfully knit a lacy, kind of complicated (for me) pattern, during which I had to pay a great deal of attention, which meant that it couldn't be done while watching any (good) TV. And, for the first time ever, I have blocked a project. I won't even say 'successfully', however. It's not quite what I was originally going for, but I'm still really happy with the result. It's amazing to see the difference the blocking made. It really relaxed the fibres, and stretched it out, so that what felt kind of lumpy and almost stiff before, now feels like a fabric, with a lovely drape to it.

And now, for posterity, here I do present the Blocking Process.

First, here is the scarf before I blocked it. On the right, you can see the length of the scarf, helpfully held up by Mr. Peanut. On the left, you can see a closeup of the knit. You can't see much of the lacey pattern here. It kind of just looks like a messy lump.

So, step one of the whole blocking process is to soak in lukewarm, very slightly soapy water. And, because I was camera happy, here is what that looks like.

After the soaking, I rinsed and then squished (gently) in a clean towel. Then next came the fun part. The pinning.

Here, Sebastian helps me out by overseeing the process. Only coincidentally taking advantage of the pile of bedding temporarily (and messily) shoved aside. And I also answered for myself the question of what to do when the 'pinning surface' isn't long enough (because I like scarves that are long, long, long). Yes, that's a pillow there propped up.

So the whole idea of blocking is that you're putting the piece of knitting into the shape that you want it to be. Aside from the awkward grammar involved in that last sentence, it really does work. So, as you can see, I made a little error here.

See those little scalloped edges? Yeah, didn't want those. (cat added for interest for anyone who is not fascinated at this point (which I honestly can't understand because this is some kind of wonderful, fairy-magic happening here))

I covered the scarf with that handy pink sheet to keep it safe from little hairy bodies, and left overnight.

In the light of a new morning (and it really was light this morning, even before I left for work, which was very exciting) I uncovered and removed all the pins and discovered the magic fairies had visited, and taken away my lumpy scarf, leaving behind a lovely, drape-y scarf that was signifcantly longer in its place.


You can see that it's grown quite a bit, and, happily, those scalloped edges aren't too bad after all.

And here is that same close up view of the stitches - you can see the pattern here, and what a difference a day (of blocking) makes.

I wore the scarf today, and it was glorious. It's just long enough that, when wrapped around my neck, it still hangs to the bottom of my coat. I love the way the colours drift from one into the next, and the thin yet warm light loveliness of it. I'm sure I'll get over it, but until then I'm just going to glory in the beauty that I created. The blanket was nice, but it wasn't for me. I think I like knitting for me.

And best of all? I have achieved my Olympic goal! Look out, next knitting Olympics! I may move beyond the rectangle!

Friday, February 17, 2006


Yay! Today the magic knitting gnomes worked in my favour. A package full of all my knitting goods travelled from Windsor to Toronto in well under 24 hours, sent through Canada Post. This is nothing short of a true miracle, especially considering my Mail Curse. (see my mad Paint skillz?)

For three years in a row, I tried to send presents to my friend Jen in Calgary - little packages, big packages, Christmas packages. And none of them made it. So sad. The worst was the first one. Jen had told me that she was missing the Ontario falls, full of reds and oranges and apple picking and pumpkins. Not so much of that in an Alberta fall. So I put together a little box, full of leaves and fresh picked apples and cookies and pictures of our colours and leaves and us apple picking. And it disappeared, never to be seen again. I hope whoever took it choked on the cookies.

After the first package, I learned to insure them. So at least I ended up with a bit of money back about a month after sending the package. But it was still maddening. Things she sent me got to me, so some evil appeared to be happening only in a westward direction. Then a package coming to me from eBay was lost, and the curse seemed to be spreading. This past Christmas, we had a scare when we thought I'd used an old address, but things turned out okay, so the curse may be broken. And today's package may be confirmation.

At the very least, the package is my salvation - I had no idea what I was going to do with no sticks and string to occupy my little fingers while I watch copious amounts of television.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How to Chase Away a Bad Mood

Use your fluffy, bouncy yellow rubber ducky pen.

(Can you tell I'm still playing with the new camera?)

Play Doh Bunny

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

So much, yet so little

I am back home again. Good and bad.

First off, the good - ish. My old camera finally failed me one too many times. It's gone to a good home - my brother has taken possession and he's going to tear it to bits to see what's gone wrong. But at this point it looks like a lost cause. And here's where the good (ish) comes in.

I cannot be without a camera. I just can't. So, this means, of course - I have a new baby. I loved my digital elph, and so when I was looking to adopt a new one, I didn't have far to look. Here's my new baby. (yes, it's a mirror shot because it's fun and I'm a geek)

And speaking of new babies, I finally got to meet little Nicole. She didn't really wake up much while I was there, but she'd had a tough day involving thrush and rashes, so I can understand. And finally meeting Nicole meant, of course, finally getting to present the blanket. I think they liked it. Now I want to make another. But first, here is Nicole.

And, of course, the little show stopper herself, Dana.

It was nice getting to see them all again - after living with them for six weeks (well, not so much with Nicole) last summer, they kind of felt like a surrogate family, and I really felt like I lived Alone when I finally went back to my own place.

As for the Olympics - yes, I did cast on last Friday, during the opening ceremonies, even. Here is what I have so far. I'm making progress, which is gratifying. Especially since I had to restart it four times the first night. This is my real Olympic challenge - it's not that the pattern is very complicated, or that there are any new stitches or techniques here for me. What's the real challenge is that I have to pay close attention to what I'm doing. I'm used to patterns that are mindless, or very repetitive, so that once I've done a bit, I can knit away without concentrating on my needles and yarn. But with this pattern, I have to read the pattern continuously as I go along, and I have been very easily distracted.

What I'm loving about this project is the yarn - I love watching the colours change, and not knowing what colour is coming up next.

But my biggest snag? I FORGOT my knitting bag in Windsor! I can't believe I did this. Fortunately, I had the scarf on its needles in a different bag, so I have that with me. However, all my other needles (including the Denise) and - most importantly - the second skein of Noro are in that other bag, which is currently sitting under the picture window in the living, right at the foot of the armchair, slightly askew from the wall. I can see it in my mind's eye so clearly. I can remember looking at it yesterday morning and reminding myself how important it was to remember to pack that in the car. As it is, there is no way that I can finish this scarf by the end of the Olympics when half of the yarn is sitting in Windsor. So I had to ask my mum to mail the whole thing to me. As it is, I won't get it until Monday at the very earliest. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself this weekend, with nothing to knit. And I am bound and determined to get this scarf done and blocked by the closing ceremonies. Considering that I've never blocked anything ever, and I only have a vague understanding of the process, I want to leave myself plenty of time to get it done. I keep looking back at the moment of realisation - on the 403, just after the 401 - when I finally realised what I'd done and swore aloud and loudly to myself in the car.

In the meantime, here is a gratuitous cat picture, part of the whole 'will I keep this camera or should I return it because my visa bill is so massive that it blocks out the sun?' trying out process.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

South for the Winter

And now I am in Windsor. Much to my dismay, I was informed upon my arrival that the wireless network usually in my parents' house is absent, due to router problems. So my laptop is like a paperweight on this trip, and I'm left using my dad's computer.

Last night I went to a surprise party for the last one in our group who was turning 30. I was the first (kinda). I wasn't sure I wanted to go - just being the day that I arrived, maybe only knowing a couple of people there, trying to dredge up small talk from some deep recess in my brain that might know how to do that. But it turned out that my parents were going out, and my brother was having gamer friends over, so it was kind of the only good option I had. I am glad that I did go. I ended up learning a couple of new games and having a good time. Thank goodness for board games. Unless it's with people I really know and can talk to easily, I hate sitting in groups, trying to keep a conversation alive and think of things to say to people I barely know. I'm so very, very bad at small talk. But if you have a board game, you're not trying to discuss something, and you're suddenly in a team with a bunch of people who have now automatically (if temporarily) become your friends and your companions-in-arms.

We played 'Catch Phrase', which is a bit like Taboo, and then later we played 'Left, Centre, Right', a game involving quarters and dice.

I couldn't help thinking as we played the first game that everything had come full circle. I was sitting at a dining room table with all the women at the party, while the men were downstairs, listening to classic rock and playing pool. And most of the women were talking about their kids and potty training and how to deal with attitudes, and the funny things they said (this was the part of the night where my eyes glazed over a wee bit). And when the phone rang at one point and the hostess answered and asked, "Maybe - who's your mom?" I felt like I was 12 years old again, but looking through the wrong end of a telescope. I can remember calling my parents at parties and listening to the ruckus in the background while they shouted, "What?" and I struggled to make myself heard long enough to ask some inane question that probably involved whether my brother and I could open that last bag of chips.

It was also while I was at this party that my camera stopped working - again. I'm thinking that I really, really have to accept it this time. I may be shopping for a new camera tomorrow, while I also shop for birthday presents.

But it is for this reason that I have no pictures of my adventures so far - not even today, when I met the new member of the Friesen-Rowe family - Moki. And I got to visit with the llama and the donkeys and goats and dog, and even got to watch the chickens eat some little fish, which was kind of disgusting. Not as disgusting as the time we watched them hunting and eating frogs, but still.

And the adventures continue tomorrow. First, I may go car-ogling with my dad, then I'm meeting up with Cathy, Carly and Chrystal for lunch, then Car and I are going to the casino (yeah, I don't know) and then my brother's going to go shopping with me, and then we'll probably share some quality geek time.

I like being in Windsor, even with the annoyances. I think sometimes that I'd like to find a job around here and move back to be close to my family and friends. But I know that it wouldn't be the same living here as it is visiting. People don't get together as often, my parents and I don't get along well in big doses, and my friends spend most of their time with their kids and jobs.

But at the same time, some of the people with whom I am most comfortable, most myself, are here. When I'm with them, I'm not trying to figure out what to say or do. I'm just me. There haven't been many times and places in my life when I've been completely me. But it is in those times that I come closest to being content with who I am.

I miss me sometimes.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Olympic observations

The Australian team is carrying little yellow stuffed kangaroos.

The Austrian team is wearing these hats that make it look like everyone has spiky black hair sticking out the top of a visor.

The Belgian flag bearer is hawt.

What? Bermuda - is... here. (Bermuda?)

Yay! Canada just came in! And they're looking... pretty goofy. Boo to the Bay outfits - bring back Roots! No one is going to be buying these silly, silly hats. And the coats look like winter weight lab coats or something.

Okay - the Danes look kind of silly, too, with their little ear covers. I feel better.

Ethiopia? Oh, that's sad - there's just one guy here! There are a couple of 'team officials' walking with him so it's not just him carrying the flag all by himself. Maybe he can hang out with the Bermuda team - they're a pretty small team, too.

The German women have the coolest hats! They look like they have bright orange and green braids hanging down beside their faces. I want one of those hats.

Oh - another lonely, lonely athlete. From Kenya this time.

I should be knitting. K - getting back to knitting. Oh, and if you're interested in a 'real' recap of the opening ceremonies (complete with a wee bit of snark, check this out)

Just some observations.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cosmetic Review

I can't find the post, but a while back in the forums, someone was asking about e.l.f. cosmetics. It caught my interest, because I am pretty frugal (read: cheap) and the items are all only $1 each. So I ended up ordering a bunch of things to try out, and thought I'd pass on my thoughts, for what they're worth.

The eyeshadows- the pallettes are a little small, but I like the powders themselves - nice colours, blend easily, and have a little bit of shine to them, without being tacky-glittery.

The lip balm - nice enough, I like the feel, but the scent is a little off. Not unpleasant, but not quite the 'vanilla cream' promised.

The lip gloss - not bad, but kind of sticky on the lips (catches my hair, which is just ick) and the scent is far, far from whatever it's supposed to be - it's more like cough syrup.

The mascara- don't bother. It's a neat idea, with the two kinds in one tube, but the regular takes forever to dry, so blinking is verboten for several minutes. And the waterproof kept flaking all day, leaving me with the need to run to the washroom every half hour to wipe up the little teeny black chunks of colour under my eyes.

The eyeliner - I like. Runs a little bit, but no more than any others I've tried. And it has a bit of shine to it, which is nice.

So there are my thoughts. Take them for what they're worth, keeping in mind that I wear only eyeshadow and mascara most days, and have never ventured into the realm of products costing over $10.

In summary:
1) They're very inexpensive, which is very good. Each item is only $1, and shipping is a flat fee of $7 - that's to Canada. It's only $5 to the States.
2) And they're a decent value and quality for that price, overall. I'll probably get a few other people who might want to stock up and we can all go in on one order, later. (read: when I need more stuff)
3) Shopping on the internet is fun. Getting packages is fun. Playing with new makeup is fun.

In other news, tomorrow I am off to Windsor (or Saturday morning if I am lazy, and I probably am). So tonight I have to decide which knitting projects have to come with me. The Noro scarf is a definite, as it's my Olympic project. I'm thinking basic dishcloth easies for breaks will be good.

Until then, here's hoping for some birthday present inspiration! (and funding)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Knit 1 Geek 1

3 days to the Olympics! Here is a sort of preview of my project.

This is the pattern I'm going to be using - kinda. I'll only have three of the loopy bits across the pattern, and my yarn is entirely different - I'll be using the Noro silk garden that I raved about a while back. I have to admit openly that this is not all a generation of my imagination and creativity. It's directly copied from an idea by Aspenglow here, so credit definitely needs to go where it's due. Unless, of course, the thing turns out looking awful, in which case that would be entirely my fault.

Sadly, it looks like I won't be able to cast on along with the 3000 other knitters in the Olympics. I'm heading down to Windsor this weekend, so I'll most likely be driving during the (replay of) the opening ceremonies. I might think about not leaving until Saturday morning, but we'll see how that plays out.

My non-knitting project is compiling right now as I type (which is actually causing a very annoying typing delay, that and a crappy (and sadly 'new') keyboard). It's my annual photostory. Can I call it 'annual' when I've only done it once before? Well, I am. I did this last year, and I loved the results. It's such a fun program, easy to use and best of all, free! I pick out all my favourite pictures for the whole year, some appropriate music, and voila! A great, beautiful little slideshow. Well, that's if 'voila' means adjusting timing and framing and editing pictures. But still, it's overall quick and painless. I installed the program probably a bit over two hours ago. Since then, I've made and eaten dinner and gotten a load of laundry half done, and finished the photostory. I wish I could put the finished thing here in my blog, but I really don't think I can. It's probably for the best. Enough people will be subjected to it when I burn it to dvd and bring it everywhere with me.

heh heh heh

Overall, it's turning out to be a really good night so far. Groceries on the way home, a yummy pesto pasta dinner, getting laundry done, getting the photostory done, and - the very best - pulling on my PJs still warm and fluffy right out of the dryer.

Some days it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bipolar Bits and Bytes

I have discovered a new love - the Google Reader.

Now I can just go to one place and see all my time wasting activities laid out, waiting for me. Of course, this makes my time wasting more efficient, which, I guess, is kind of ... redundant. Oh, well, it's a fun new toy that I've found and I'm enjoying it.

Yes, that's right. I declare my discovery of a service that the rest of the world caught on to quite a while ago. That's just my way. I keep seeing the little orangey "RSS" at the bottom of all these blogs and webpages, and wondering exactly how this voodoo works, and keeping clear of it because it is Foreign and New. And my geekiness only extends so far. Beyond a certain point, that's where my brother picks it up and runs with it.

I like to think that I am fairly technically savvy. At work, I am a 'go to' gal for all kinds of things, including spreadsheets and internet stuff, and I usually represent myself pretty respectably. At least to the point that I continue to be a 'go to' gal.

But when it comes to anything that could possibly harm my computer, or my files, then it is Fear. Any windows update, any configuration changes, any unexpected error messages, the 'go to' girl turns into a blubbering mess. Computer problems stress me out more than just about anything. They keep me awake at night. A day that ends without a working computer results in a sleepless night. Whenever I move, and I don't have the internet for several days at a time, I'm a mess, unable to figure out anything from the address of the nearest bank to my bank account numbers.

My main problem (aside from Internet disconnectedness) is when I encounter anything that is New. Now, the RSS feed thing is New, but doesn't really have the potential to do any harm should I screw it up royally. Any time that I encounter anything of that ilk, I run, crying, to my brother. And he tells his geeky friends about the time his computer illiterate sister managed to accidentally unplug her hard drive from the... um.. other thingy ... and then the computer (obviously) wouldn't work and ha ha ha - isn't she a hoot?

How can I feel so intelligent and so stupid all at the same time? It's a gift.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Weekend Woes

I love that I can bring my laptop home on the weekends. Being able to sit in bed and read my comics and email and click around the forum and read blogs makes it a little more bearable that I keep waking up way too early every Saturday morning.

I have a love/hate relationship with the weekend. All week, I long for the weekend. Every day I wish it were Friday. I rush home Friday night (most of the time) and ... that's where it all falls apart. Because I do nothing with my weekends, and come Sunday night, I feel like I've just wasted the past two days with nothing but garbage tv and movies. I wake up on Saturday and think that I'm going to get all kinds of things done, go out and do laundry and get groceries and be accomplished. Then I don't get out of my jammies until sometime mid-afternoon and continue to waste away the days on the couch.

At least yesterday I did get out of the house once. I went out to dinner at Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine Bar with Deena and her family. It was a nice night, and afterwards we played dominoes, which was new to me, but fun.

Today I finally started the blanket that I was originally going to give to my dad for his birthday. Now, considering that his birthday is next week, well, who knows when this will be done and when it will get to him. On the bright side, I just cable knit for the first time. Unfortunately, I'm using a bumpy yarn (as called for in the pattern) so you can't see the cables at all. I'm tempted to just plain old knit a huge rectangle and be done with it.

In other knitting news, I've been training for the Olympics. My plan is to knit as my project a fishtail patterned scarf out of the silk Noro. I found a similar pattern for a washcloth, and I'm making up a few to get the hang of it. With such beautiful yarn as the Noro, I really don't want to have to pull it apart over and over again whenever I make a mistake.

For now, I'm going to make up some chicken tikka masala for my dinner and then keep on with the blanket in front of whatever comes on tv. The wonderful curry smells seeping out from my neighbour's door pretty much determined my dinner tonight.