Archive for January, 2014

Oh yes. It’s that time again. The awards season has started and everyone I know is making bets and setting pvr’s and thinking up drinking games and acting like they don’t care (but they still comment and make sure everyone knows they don’t care) and the media hyperventilates and the gossip rags vomit all over us in the grocery store line-up. And to top that THE OLYMPICS are coming, don’t you know! Oh my! Athletes! Sports! Hockey! Curling! Skiing! Skating! Medals! We’re #1! We’re #1! Yay!!! And then two weeks after all the awards have been given out, the athletes have been feted and the stories of inspiration have been read and cried over, we will have forgotten who won and who lost. That is until someone mentions something and our brains will creak into gear and toss out a vague memory of the event.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all this stuff. I love watching the awards shows, The People’s Choice Awards, The Golden Globes, The Oscars, The Emmy’s, The Tony’s, The Grammy’s, the Canadian Screen Awards, the Junos…and, yes, the Olympics. I love watching them but have ceased to believe they mean anything. I mean they mean something to the people involved but as for me personally? Other than an evening of questionable entertainment (unless Neil Patrick Harris is hosting then it’s usually great entertainment), on a day-to-day basis these things don’t impact me at all. They don’t influence me to go see the Oscar-winning movie or play or buy the cd or download the music of whoever won the Grammy or Juno and if we win the most medals, it doesn’t make me any more proud of my country. But I will set my pvr and I will spend countless hours watching.

I haven’t seen any of the movies which will probably be nominated for Best Oscar and I probably won’t. Movies have long ago lost their magical glow for me. I think it was somewhere around the release of Lord of the Rings and the nail-in-the-coffin Inception. I would love to be able to enjoy a movie again. I would love to be transported away from all my cares for a couple of hours and just live in a different world for an afternoon. I can do this at home. I can watch Game of Thrones and be completely captivated by the compassion of Tyrion or revolted by the cruelty of Prince Geoffrey or be totally gutted by the Red Wedding. I can be totally immersed in the struggle of Maggie to regain the love of Brick in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”. I can laugh out loud at Tracy Lord, Mike Conner and C.K. Dexter the Third in “The Philadelphia Story”. I can watch “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”, “The Princess Bride”, “Benny and Joon”, “Iris”, “Moonstruck”, “The Shipping News”, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” or “Good Night and Good Luck” over and over again and enjoy them as much the twentieth time as I did the first. But I can’t sit in a movie theater any more.

I think the thing is that as I have aged I have become very picky about what I want to waste my time on. I’ve also become less inclined to submit my ears to the loudness of the theater and, being short, I find the theater seats very uncomfortable. More and more I resent spending the money on a movie where the dialogue seems to have been written in crayon. I mean, who, in real life says some of the crap the actors are paid to say? Especially the tripe in the Rom-coms. I realize that for a lot of people, they would love to hear someone they love spew that smarmy stuff but if any guy ever said half of that stuff to me I would wonder at his sanity and my own. Oh, and don’t get me started on the sex stuff in movies. I’m no prude but come on. Really?

Movies may turn me off but I do love watching the Olympics. There are certain sports I watch: figure skating, speed skating, short track speed skating, downhill skiing, aerials, bobsledding…I would say curling and I probably will watch most of it except the games I can avoid that have Canada in them. Yeah, I know, how unpatriotic but I really, really cannot stand Kevin Martin. I may watch just for David Nedohin and Brad Gushue but Kevin Martin? Nope. Don’t like that man. I have my reasons. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was the Kevin Koe did so poorly in the Olympic trials. But that’s the game. A game of inches. But all the other events in the competition? Love it and I love cheering heartily when my team wins. And even then sometimes it’s not so much that country that wins but the excitement of the competition and the closeness of the fight that gets my blood pumping.

I’m sure most of those who knit and crochet have heard of the Knitlympics. If you haven’t here is a brief sum-up: what you do is cast on for a project during the opening ceremonies, knit, or crochet or spin, like a demon for two weeks, and finish it before the flame goes out at the closing ceremonies. The only rules are that the project should be a challenge for you – a new pattern stitch, a new technique, a new type of pattern – but nothing that is going to cause you to have a nervous breakdown to get it completed. Just something fun and something you may never have tried before. A lace shawl might be a bit over-ambitious but a cardigan using fingering weight yarn might do.

Two years ago I knit this for the Knitlympics:

Whisper Cardigan

This year I’m not sure what I will knit. I’ve been looking through my books and magazines and have some things in mind but what I really want is to knit a t-shirt of some kind out of linen. I love the look and feel of linen and I can always use a cool summer shirt so I thought this might kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Most of the patterns I’m finding that use a linen yarn are also sleeveless, a big no-no for someone whose arms flap like a pelicans so I’m looking for something with 3/4 sleeves. I’m thinking this one would do but I would have to lengthen the sleeves which doesn’t look to be a big problem for this design.

My oldest daughter gave me this yarn for Christmas:

DSCN0202

and so I’m thinking I might make something out of it but I think I would have to then make something else because there really is only enough for a pair of handwarmers or fingerless gloves. It will make a nice, cozy pair for sure, it’s 94 grams of Alpaca/Merino/Bamboo from my favourite alpaca farm, Meadowview. My youngest daughter owes me two skeins of yarn and I’m still trying to decide what I want. It can’t be too expensive because she doesn’t have a lot of money and she has to feed a dog but I figure I could possibly go with some nice Cascade 220 or Madeline Tosh sock yarn. I could make some hand warmers and a pair of socks over the course of the Olympics, I’m sure.

So with an awards show approx. every two weeks until the Oscars in April and the Olympics next month I figure I should be able to get some of these projects that have been hanging around far too long off the needles and on my body. And I’m actually looking forward to knitting for the Knitlympics and seeing just what I can do in two weeks. I may have to do some fast juggling if February turns out to be a busy month at work, they won’t let me have anything sharp and pointy if I’m working a dance competition so knitting at work is out. But if I decide to knit that linen t-shirt I’m pretty confident I could have it done in two weeks. Fingers crossed. Well, fingers and toes…and maybe eyes as well…and a rabbits foot or two…still on the rabbit though…Think rubbing a cat will bring me luck?

As I mentioned yesterday, I bought my daughter The Knitter’s Book Of Yarn for Christmas. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a good book and I’m enjoying reading it but there is one thing that bugs me about it. From what I’ve read so far, and from my independent research and from talking to sheepy people, Clara Parkes really knows her stuff but there is one little niggly thing that will bug me every time I pick the book up. It has no impact on the information contained inside the book but it’s there just the same. And. It. Bothers. Me.

Now before I get into this there is something I think you should know: I’m a stickler for detail. It drives the people I know crazy and no one more so than my youngest daughter. She has had to bear the brunt of my tirades against movies that were made from books that I loved but miss the mark – I will never forgive Peter Jackson for not including Tom Bombadil in the Lord of the Rings movie nor will I forgive him for casting Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn but that’s another story – and I have been known to carry on for days when I’ve heard a particularly egregious cover of a song I love – Avril Lavigne’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” is one of the worst things to happen to music since Britney Spears (although Miley Cyrus is right up there). Yeah, so I think I’ve established that I have a closed mind when it comes to certain things.

So back to the book. When you crack open the cover, Ms. Parkes has a lovely graphic illustrating the animals that wool comes from as well as the categories of yarn. It’s a very good graphic. She includes things such as corn, modell, polyester, cotton, hemp, linen, angora, silk, yak…and then, there it is, a glaring error. Staring me right in the face is a picture of a certain little critter that often comes to my bird feeder at night. It’s got a ton of sharp little teeth and a long tail and is pudgy and…white. Yes, it’s a North American opossum. She carries this error into the text by proclaiming that this opossum is from New Zealand and Australia where it roams around in large numbers and is a real pest. Well, you know she got part of it right. The fur that she is referring to does come from an introduced species in New Zealand that has become a pest but it isn’t an opossum and it certainly doesn’t resemble the picture she has in the front of her book.

Here is a picture of the critter she has referenced: North American Opossum

Now as cute as that little guy is and let me say that it could have a very nice, soft undercoat, I wouldn’t want to try to catch that thing. These guys have 50 sharp little teeth! I would rather try to take a peanut from a squirrel. Now compare this to the critter responsible for some of the loveliest, and softest, yarn I’ve ever had the good fortune to hold in my hand:

Brush-tailed possum

This is a brush-tailed possum and that cute little guy is culled regularly by the thousands in New Zealand because it has become a pest. Fortunately for us knitters, the fur is harvested and spun into an amazing yarn. Now if only I could afford some of it.

The problem with Ms. Parkes error is that someone will see it and think that they can trap that rat-like animal roaming around, and causing mayhem, their backyard. They may even put out a trap thinking they could kill the beast and get some free yarn. I am doubtful, however, since it would take a few…dozen…to get enough usable yarn but you never know, there are some strange people out there and I would hate to think that some other creature, like a feral cat, could get caught in someone’s misguided attempt to obtain some opossum fur. In any case, it is a small and insignificant error and the little bit of information she gives about the yarn is truthful but, still, it is an avoidable error. It is an error a careful editor would have caught. And I know a lot of people will shrug their shoulders and carry on, as well they should, but me? I’ll think of it every time I open the book even if I’m looking for information on Llama yarn or hand-dyed yarns. And it will drive me crazy.

This is going to be a real problem for me and my enjoyment of this book. I know that every time I turn a page I’m going to be waiting for the next trivial thing to set my brain on fire. I will be reading it with an eye kept wide open looking for typos, or grammatical errors, or questionable research. And the really sad thing is that I won’t be happy until I find another mistake. I will go through each and every pattern looking for errors, I will probably even look online for the errata for this book. I won’t rest until I’ve found them all. And why? Because when I buy a book I like to think it is perfect. Yes, I am that person. Nothing is perfect. I realize how silly this all sounds and I wish I could stop myself from obsessing over such trivial little details but it’s been like this ever since I cracked open my first book.

It’s funny, though, that this kind of obsession doesn’t translate to my knitting. Oh sure, I have been known to rip out an entire back because I didn’t like something about it or I’ve noticed a mistake that I didn’t catch earlier but generally, if the mistake is not that noticeable and doesn’t affect a pattern or cable or the fit of the garment, I leave it alone. It’s kind of like those Persian rugs that the weavers supposedly purposefully make a mistake on. It’s my way of making it my own. Oh, who am I kidding. If I make a mistake I’m not happy until I go back and fix the damn thing because I. Am. That. Person. Sad but true.

Well, I have to say it’s been a while.  Christmas, life, cat-in-hospital, blah, blah blah…all the crap that happens.  And then there is the fact that I am a professional procrastinator…I wish there was some kind of job that paid me for procrastinating.  I would be one rich lay-about.

That was some ice storm a while back, eh?  Just before Christmas Mum Nature decided that there wasn’t enough excitement and so she unleashed a few centimetres (inches for those still not using metric) of freezing rain on us.  We were lucky and were only without power for about 25 hrs.  One of our friends was hydroless for 10 days.  They were lucky, though, and had a couple of fireplaces to keep the house warm.  We have a gas fireplace and so our house was never colder than 19.5C (67.1F).  It was still chilly enough that the cats and dog wanted to cuddle and I was glad to snuggle down into my feather bed but we couldn’t see our breath so that was a plus.

I really, really missed my tea though, and the thought of knitting was not entertained although it would have been appropriate but my fingers were stiff and I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up those thin sticks and try to twiddle yarn around them.  So progress on the unfinished project is still slow.  And to be honest I’ve been engrossed with reading again.  I used to read all the time, anything and everything, but since getting married and having kids and fighting depression (and winning) and this and that, reading has been sporadic at best and only engaged in books that I’ve read previously and know I would enjoy.  But now I’m reading other stuff and enjoying it immensely.

I bought my daughter The Knitters Book of Wool and The Knitters Book of Yarn for Christmas as she is getting very interested in the various types of sheep and their yarn.  She is really interested in Angora rabbits, though.  Me?  I love those wooly little Alpaca’s.  I think they look like stuffed animals and am trying to get her to consider a career with those critters.  She has other plans.  They always do.  Although she is planning on a life in agriculture and raising fiber animals.  Can you imagine?  I would have all the wool I could ever dream of.  It’s a knitters paradise.  I would have to renounce my long-held dream to live in Micronesia.

I’m going to read these two books once I’ve finished my current book. It will be interesting learning about the different wools that I fondle every time I’m in the yarn store. I’m a very tactile person so if a yarn feels right, it is right and I worry about all the other stuff later. That’s why my stash is so big. Other people collect jewelery and baubles and shoes and purses and gaudes. Me? I collect wool. Sheepy things that feel amazing and look pretty in their tight little bundles. I never buy yarn with a project in mind, well, I rarely do, yarn seems to find me and beg me to take it home. Sooner or later I will find something to do with it. And that my friends is why I still have a bundle of yarn that’s got to be 30yrs. old still waiting to be knit into something…anything. I feel too guilty to throw it out or give it away.

Periodically I go through my stash just to see if it’s still all there and to make sure the moths haven’t been munching away. I make promises to the yarn as I go through it, knowing too well that it likely won’t be kept. I tell it that I won’t buy anymore until I’ve knit up half of it but I can’t look it in the eye when I say those words because I know that the next time I go to the yarn store I will be coming home with a bag of shame. How I will put the bag in the cupboard, away from my horde, thinking that I will look through my magazines and books for a project and get to work on it right away. A couple of months later it will end up in the half empty box at the back of my stash cupboard. The other yarns will look at it sadly.

It’s not my fault if I’m a hoarder. Tell the manufacturers to stop making such tempting yarns. I mean, how am I to resist possum yarn? Tell me that! I mean, it’s so soft, it’s like rabbit fur. And what about yak? So warm. So exotic. And muskox? Then there’s silk and sea cell and cashmere and angora and linen and bamboo…Forget diamonds, just give me some yarn and I’ll be yours forever. In fact if you give me a skein of vicuna and I’ll be your slave for eternity. But I really would rather have a skein or two or three of qiviut (muskox). I don’t know if you’ve ever held it in your hand but it is exquisite. And it was an honest mistake. I didn’t realize I still had it in my hand when I walked out of the store. I swear.