memories of Cape Breton…

Now, I warn you in advance: I have decided that I would like to return to live in Cape Breton when I win the lottery manage to find a legal aid job in Nova Scotia which will never, ever happen retire.  So, I took a million photos of the place.  Well, 502 photos to be quite exact.  I’ll only show you a fraction of those, I promise…

Let me first start with telling you about one of the best yarn shops I’ve ever been too, Baadeck Yarns.  It is located in Baddeck (get it?!?).  The owner, Patricia, is from Toronto but decided to move down there and open a yarn shop after a vacation some time back.  And I’m very glad she did, too.

Why?  Well, first off, she carries an exclusive line of colours by the Fleece Artist/Handmaiden… which she helped design herself.  And if I dare say so myself, I managed to exercise significant self-control in the face of this, buying only two skeins of HM Sea Silk in the Blueberry Mist colourway:

She also carries Tilli Tomas products which I had never seen in person before… so of course I had to snap up two skeins of the Moroccan Blue silk prestrung with beads:

Patricia was also kind enough to let me drool over fondle the Tilli Tomas Swarovski crystal studded silk which she had in stock.  At $125/120 yards I couldn’t really see fit to buying any, although I was sorely tempted.  (By the way, for you knitters out there, I am deliberately not including a link as I think it would probable be actionable if you checked it out and lost your house as a result.  Having said that, I did link it somewhere previously on this blog and I think if you search “bling” you’ll find the link.  Heh heh).

All I can say is that it’s just a very guid thing that JJ was along, otherwise the rent cheque for June would have gon bounce bounce bounce into the Atlantic for certain.  Oh – and if you are anywhere near Nova Scotia, do visit Patricia!  It will be worth the trip, I can assure you.

All right, all right… enough yarn pron.  Back to the vacation.  We spent two full days on the Cabot Trail, which is a road through the mountainous part of Cape Breton spanning approximately 120 kilometres.

JJ insisted on driving the first day but I got to drive the second!!  It is a fabulous drive.  The topography changes constantly.

There are all sorts of little curiosities along the way, such as, for example, the Lone Sheiling (a replica of a highland hut):

The federal government pours lots of money into the Cabot Trail (quite rightly, I think) so that they can keep it vibrant and replant trees… here is a baby birch tree!

I was happy for that, because it means that we can keep enjoying lovely views like this:

…and this:

…and so on…

…and so forth:

That’s me, by the way, at one of the highest points – about 500 metres above sea level!

I loved the mountains, obviously:

…but also the beaches.

…and even the rocks.  Nay, especially the rocks!

JJ, on the other hand, loved this site the best!


When I gently suggested that he was perhaps spending too much money at the place which manufactures the only Canadian malt whisky, and that he didnae really need a sample of every year that they’ve made..

…he pointed to the back of my newly acquired T-shirt:

Fair enough, I guess.  Anyway, he was just feeling cocky because we were in Scottish territory, where some of the road signs are even printed in English and Gaelic!

We also, by the way, ate fabulous Acadian food in Cheticamp, where the signs are in English and French.  (And by the way, if you’re coming to Nova Scotia, bring your fat clothes.  The food is great, unless you’re a vegetarian.  JJ wanted to take a photo of me eating the 10th order of fresh fish and chips but I refused as it would have been embarrassing to show my face buried in the plate.

I will part with photos of my favourite place in Cape Breton, which was Inverness, where we stayed.  This beach was within a two minute walk of the motel…

…and the sun sets very kindly on Inverness (when it’s around, that is, as the locals would hasten to tell you.  Apparently it’s not around all that often.  But when it is, it is glorious!)

That is about it for the vacation photos, I promise.  Only I still have to show you some of my fabulous acquisitions, as there are many great artisans in the province.  And you can get a palace of a condo even in Halifax (the capital) for what it would cost you for a 450 sq ft bachelor in Toronto.  I really need to move there.  Sigh.

Cheers,

Kristina

boring vacation photos, part I…

(…and don’t say you weren’t warned.  Now is your chance to hit the back button.)

I must say that JJ and I both had a blast on our extended vacation down East.  JJ had decided that we should take the train both ways.  At first, I was a tad sceptical (it takes just over 27 hours total, and I am not all that guid in close quarters as you can imagine).  But then I learned that they had a bar car on the train…

… so all was well.  It was also a great way to travel in that I got to see parts of Quebec I’ve never been in, and also New Brunswick…

…and somehow I didn’t even manage to piss off JJ!

Our first port of call was Halifax, which is on the Atlantic Ocean.  So you get to see lots and lots of big fancy boats:

… and look how clean the water is right in the dock!

A far cry from Lake Ontario, I can tell you.

Unexpectedly, I got to see Pier 21, where most of the immigrants to Canada landed prior to 1971, including my own father.  They had an interesting museum, including a photo of the boat that he came in on!

Halifax is also chock full of Irish pubs, which didnae take us too long to find.

And after a few pints of Guinness, JJ even managed to capsize a ship!

I should really, really be living in Halifax.  I mean, check this out… they give you potato chip topping for your street meat!!

While in Halifax, we also went on a real life pirate sailboat!

And see… here’s Johnny Depp piloting it!

Well, OK… not Johnny Depp.  Lars Lancebottom or something like that (I’m sure that was his real name, too)… but he was a nice guy.

And then we found another Irish pub of JJ’s past acquaintance, with real-live Irish snugs!

We were actually staying in Dartmouth, which is a twin city to Halifax and across the water.  Since JJ did not want to pay the 75 cent toll for the bridge, we had to take the ferry…

Oh – and I got to meet my all-time hero, Mr. Alexander Keith!!!!

We would have taken a tour of the brewery, but they wanted $16.50 per head and we decided that was best spent on some cold Keith’s.  Far cheaper, by the way, than in Toronto.

After a couple of days of debauchery and hanging around the Halifax waterfront, we decided to rent a car and hit the road.  The first stop was apparently a mandatory one if you visit this province: the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.

This is quite the tourist spot and I was happy we were there out of season, I can tell you!  They have spooky signs hanging around such as this one:

… and if you picture this coastline in winter, you can see why.

We then spent a day travelling the South coast of the province, which includes such lovely sights as Lunenberg:

It’s full of houses like that, all painted different colours! Lunenberg is also home of the Bluenose II, featured on our dime:

This is what she looks like in real life, at least when on vacation:

We then decided to travel to Cape Breton, a large island which is part of Nova Scotia.  Upon JJs insistence, the first stop there was at an old French military installation at Louisburg:

I thought this would be quite boring, but the scenery was spectacular!


They have set the fort up as an exact replica of what it would have looked like in the 1700s when it was in active use – right down to the house of worship that the soldiers were all forced to attend:

This is just a small part of the grand apartment designated for the Governor (Old French for “Grand Poobah”) at the base:

And, pray tell, where did his wife stay?

Er… not quite.  But this was about the extent of her quarters:

Go figure, eh?  Leaving the fortress, you come upon an ancient (by Canadian standards, anyway) cemetery right next to the water:

We then found a place to stay with, reputedly, the best sunsets in the East Coast:

This is the beach at Inverness, where we stayed for five days or so:

I must confess that I was fascinated by the ocean rocks and brought an embarrassing number home with me.  So many, in fact, that our baggage weighed… ahem… well over the alloted amount.

We tried to leave our mark on the beach…

…but sadly the ocean had washed it away within five minutes or so.  Sigh.

Well, I think that’s about enough for now.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installation, with more pictures of the Cabot Trail than you want to see, I’m sure… and also the PayDay Haul.  Here is a preview:

Cheers,

Kristina

farewell… (we’re off) to Nova Scotia!

Dear Gentle Readers:

Well, JJ and I are setting off for a big trip first thing tomorrow: to the East Coast!

(Um, no, we won’t be dancing out there – we’re taking the train. I wonder if you could call it the Orient Express?!?)

So, alas, this means that I will be taking a short hiatus from the blog. I will miss you all dreadfully, but JJ insists that I need a break from “that bloody computerrrrr” as well as from work.  (In exchange for this great sacrifice, by the way, he has agreed to check out some yarnie spots down there that I have researched.   I don’t know if he realises quite what he is in for, actually).

(Oh, and by the way, I’ve bribed hired Mario the superintendent

to watch over my spare room while I’m gone – so don’t get any ideas about stash raiding…!! Your only chance is to show up right after he’s finished the bottle of vodka this cost me, I figure…)

Nova Scotia, by the way, is home to the Fleece Artist – so who knows what I might manage to score in my travels?!

I’m also likely taking a wee break from knitting as well as I have some trashy novels to catch up on… but will be taking some lovely Blue Moon with me just in case.  I’ll also be practicing my tango moves… 

(I started Argentinian tango lessons some time back.  It is quite addictive.  If you do a YouTube search on “tango” and “argentina” you’ll see what I mean.   I had taken lessons for a couple of years some time back but my then-dance partner was 13 inches taller than me, which proved a bit awkward.  This time, I’ve managed to find a midget like myself.)

So, I’ll be back on 7 or 8 June or thereabouts with lots of boring vacation photos and, it is hoped, far less boring pics of NS yarns! 

Wishing you a lovely couple of weeks, and see you anon!

Kristina

PS. I just realised that the subject line of this post will probably only make sense to Canajans like me who were forced to learn annoying little folk songs about all the provinces in public school years.  The Nova Scotia one was called “Farewell to Nova Scotia” and is actually quite a depressing little ditty talking about dead sailors, etc.   Another east coast favourite was “I’s the bye who builds the boat” from Newfoundland – anyone remember that one?! Now try and get it out of your head.  Ha!

 

evil spirits in Angus, Ontario?!

Are you wondering if this is the shameless daily fearmongering component I’m reporting on from yesterday’s TV news?

No. More about that later, fear not….

I’ve decided that Wannietta, as charming and benign as she comes across in person, is Knitting Evil Incarnate. Seriously.

I mean, I’ve met the woman once… I had a coffee with her and I now believe she must have slipped something into it intended to make me hemmorhage money at the yarn store.

First of all, that very day she induced me to buy some Handmaiden Silken. She literally twisted my arm. Really. I have witnesses … although I imagine she’s gotten to them already and they will never tell you the truth about the situation now.

And since then, I’ve now been twice to the LYS. I don’t know if I can blame her for the trip to Knitomatic the other day, to be fair… but she is directly responsible for my buying all of this stuff at Romni yesterday:

Yet another skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk:

(A lovely spooky grey colour with hints of blue!)
Some Fleece Artist Suri Blue in what I am calling the “Easter colourway”.

(Hey! I don’t even like pastels! More proof of Wannietta’s “intervention”?!?….)

and some Kidsilk Night:

Now, this speaks to a yarn mania bordering on the ridiculous. Not only did I pick up Kidsilk Haze last week on sale… three balls!… but I hate working with mohair. Really. Here’s the proof:

Brouhaha on 6 January 2007: To be honest, this is slowgoing work for me – the first time I have worked using mohair only, and probably the last.

Brouhaha on 7 January 2007:

I managed to sketch out a pattern for the Tilting at Windmills blanket which I will start whenever I have finished wrestling with the mohair (I have promised myself this much although am sorely tempted to abandon it)… and here is the cursed mohair. Might as well be trying to knit with cotton candy! [emphasis added]

Um… well… this wouldn’t be the first time I was guilty of Short Memory Syndrome when it comes to knitting, I suppose. Or, to be honest, in general…

And, besides, it looks like a cloud. And, it’s sparkly.

But I still blame Wannietta. She mentioned mohair during our conversation when we met. I’m sure this was intended to create a subliminal message in my brain.

And… the only reason I was in Romni yesterday afternoon was because Wannietta had urged me to buy blocking wires for my lace work. Really. But once there, I went into a trance so deep that I looked at mohair which wasn’t on sale!!!

Oh, speaking of trances, while I’m at it I think that I’ll shift some of the blame for the latest expenditures to Holly. She wrote about a yarn-store induced trance in her blog yesterday. I read this post just before going to Romni. Coincidence? I think not.

And, while we’re on the topic of abdicating responsibility for one’s actions, here is last night’s instalment on How to Dupe The Canadian Public Dumb and Dumber the evening news.

Specifically, it was reported that the Canadian Forces are recruiting 450 mental health personnel to help soldiers returning from Afghanistan deal with post traumatic stress disorder. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that the soldier don’t need the help. I’m sure they do. But… again I ask, to what end is this all happening?

On the CTV web entry on this item today, it says:


Psychological problems have become an increasingly important issue for the military in recent years as it has expanded its traditional peacekeeping status into a greater combat role [emphasis added].

Wow. I think this might be the first time I have seen “combat” and “Afghanistan” in the same sentence written by any major news outlet as it relates to what is usually (cynically?) called “the Canadian role”.

But that’s not what was actually spoken on the news item last night. Instead, our soldiers’ work in Afghanistan was referred to as … wait for it…

“defacto wartime activity”.

Hello?!?? “Defacto wartime activity?!?” This is probably the truest example of political (as in politician) correctness that I’ve ever seen. How about… war. Why use three meaningless words when you can use one stark one?

Oh, I forgot:
(I saw this T-shirt on line yesterday. I’m trying to decide between the colour above and this colour:

Sheesh. It makes me want to catch the next train to Ottawa and start crushing some heads.



I crush your head!! Crush crush crush…

(Please don’t sue me, Mr. Harper. I’m a decent lawyer, but no match for the great wits of your vaunted legal team, Bonhomme and Partners LLP… oh, and nice scarf!!!)

Man, I miss Kids in the Hall!!

I crush your head. All your heads, in fact, o mighty Parliament of Canada and pandering media outlets…!

Phew. I feel better now. You should try some head crushing sometime. Really.

Happy Friday! Off to work now, and then to crush some heads sink a few pints at the pub with the Tenant Advocates. It’s been a very, very long week.

Fleece Artist Goldiehair Shawl!


My latest FO, hot off the needles!!! And so easy you wouldn’t believe it. I recommend this knit to anyone.

The pattern came with a skein of the Goldiehair (which is a luscious silk/mohair/nylon blend) and is all garter stitch. Excellent TV knitting – although actually I knitted all but 10 or so rows of this either on the subway or at a legal conference I attended earlier in the week. I’m such an outlaw…!

I decided to take the shawl out to the balcony to see how she deals with the snow and cold:

This reminds me of a fuzzy stained glass window (does that make any sense?)

I then brought her inside and decided to sew some beads on the few parts where colour had pooled:

The beads match the green colour in the shawl and there are some black opalescent ones as well, although the colours don’t show so well in this picture.

I’m very happy with this piece… and I will certainly have to guard it with my beady little eyes when I wear it to work tomorrow.

Specs:

Yarn: Fleece Artist Goldiehair – Fruit Punch colourway (one skein – 125g=500m)
Needle size: 5.5 mm
Beads: from Arton in Toronto
Start date: 30 January 2008
Finish date: 6 February 2008

The recommended needle size was actually 6mm but I didn’t have a set with a long enough cord. So I tried the 5.5mm and liked the fabric. I did bind off with my 6mm needles though, to avoid crinkling.

Anyway, I love it!

So now for a little rant about the evening news (because I couldn’t leave you without at least one sourpuss thought. I am not Pollyanna, after all). I don’t know why I bother to watch the news, by the way. All that is accomplished is that I get alternately infuriated and depressed.

Now for today’s dose of what I consider to be rank governmental stupidity: the Ministry of Education has released a report recommending, among other things, that students not be penalised for turning in homework assignments late, nor given a mark of zero for the assignment if they don’t turn it in at all. Students should be marked only on what they decide to turn in, apparently. This is to avoid students becoming stigmatised by low marks.

WHAT?!?!?! Man, I was born a generation too early!

Am I the only person who sees something wrong with this?!? I mean, I have a couple of work deadlines for Friday. I would LOVE to go to work on Friday and tell my boss “Sorry – I didn’t feel like doing all that research. Now, where’s my paycheque?”.

What kind of lesson does this teach kids, anyway? (if I may be so bold as to venture any opinions about child education given that I am childfree, that is). I’m completely flabbergasted. Is it really true, like Pink Floyd said best, that we don’t need no education?!?

The best that I could figure out from the little snippet was that the government feels this is necessary to address the fact that some kids present with learning disabilities and other kids have problems at home which might lead to issues with homework. In that event, what’s wrong with hiring extra tutors and counsellors to find out how to support these kids?!?

Oh… oops, I forgot. That would cost money.

End of rant. And to finish off, here’s my new shawl saying goodbye:

Bonus snap of JJ to the left, rivetted to the news and about five minutes before he threatened to throw his whisky glass at the screen because there was an inane news item about George Bush being gifted a hockey jersey. Sigh.

Oh – I’m making a bit of progress on the SOTSii – I haven’t been able to do much all week, though:

This is through Row 140. So, I won’t be done this clue by Friday. I’m amazed at how chilled out I am about that, given my type-A predilections. Maybe I’m getting more into the process than the product?

I guess there is light at the end of the tunnel:

If it ever stops #$%(*#@$&(@* snowing, that is.

Happy Thursday!

Gathered Pullover and other fancies

Well, here she is – the Gathered Pullover in all her glory!

Don’t mind the bemused look on my face. It reflects the fact that I was standing outside, relatively unprotected from the elements, in roughly -2million Celsius (-3million in Fahrenheit) temperatures. How I suffer for my craft!!

Here’s a close-up view of the cable design:

Lovely, eh?

Specs:


Pattern:
Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason (Interweave Knits Winter 2007 mag)
Size: 29″ (small)
Start Date: 14 January 2008
Finish Date: 19 January 2008
Yarn: Rowan DK Handknit Cotton
Needles: 4mm Addi Turbo
Intended Wearer: moi (who else?!)

Notes:

  • I am very, very happy with the way this pattern turned out. Super simple and a very quick knit. The body was knit in the round up to the armpits.
  • The cables were knit without using a cable needle – a first for me but definetely not a last!
  • I got the yarn in a swap on the Knittyboard – the swapper had frogged a sweater she had made with it.
  • Only pattern modification: I knitted the sleeves straight instead of in the round as the pattern called for because I am too lazy to use double-pointed needles.

I was actually rather productive, knitting-wise anyway, this weekend. Here is a little something I whipped up yesterday: a Moebius wrap a la Cat Bordhi, to go with my leather car coat:

This was knitted using Fleece Artist Goldielocks. It bears an uncanny resemblance to my Fleece Artist log cabin afghan:

Separated at birth?

I also started the first hint in the Secret of the Stole II. This is the first 22 rows:

I very nearly abandoned this altogether last night after 5 frogging disasters. In fact, I very nearly threw it and the lovely Malabrigo yarn over the balcony. However, once I actually started to pay attention to the chart and read it properly, it was relatively smooth sailing.

I wish I could figure out how to stop the end from curling up, though! Any suggestions?

The colour, though, makes me very, very happy – as will be shown with the next project I cast on for:

This will be yet another Moebius shawl (I’m addicted to Magical Knitting!) using Noro Silk Garden. I plan to have it as my travel project.

I also cast on for still another Moebius project: a hat to go with the car coat, using Manos del Uruguay aran weight yarn:

So, this is what keeps me off the streeets and out of trouble in January (as if the deep freeze weren’t enough!!!) And, one last sweater cheesecake photo starring Aphrodite (who handles the cold weather far better than I…):

Signing off for now – but, for your information, on this day in 1908 New York City passed the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public
You’ve come a long way, baby! Actually, that’s not fair, because the mayor ended up vetoing the ordinance. And, if you actually do think we have come a long way, just visualise this photo with a cellphone in the hand instead of a mascara wand:

booty!!!!

No, not that kind of booty – get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about the pirates’ treasure kind of booty…

JJ and I went to the Danier leather outlet yesterday and scored big time. At least, I scored. I bought this beautiful bookbag:

This is what I wanted during all of my school daze! Instead, I got to schlep stuff to school in LCBO bags and, eventually, cheapo knapsacks. I feel grown up now.

But even better, JJ bought me this as a belated nameday present:

A car coat! And it even has Thinsulate lining, so I can wear it right away…

Isn’t that snazzy?

(JJ picked up two leather jackets for himself as well, one black and one in redwood (similar to the above colour). And if I may say so, when wearing them he puts Daniel Craig/James Bond to shame!)

Of course, JJ had to joke with me that mycurrent wide range of knitted scarves and hats did not include brown, and my usual over-the-tops colour choices might clash with the new coat. So, this was an excuse for an immediate trip to Knitomatic, where I picked up the following beauties:
On the left is Fleece Artist Goldielocks (mohair/silk/nylon blend) in the Bugundy colourway, intended for a Moebius scarf which I will likely start today. To the right is Manos Del Uruguay aran weight wool for a hat of some description.

Of course, I also had to pick this up:

This despite the fact that I have not yet managed to start my Secret of the Stole first hint. I mean to start today… but may wait to see if writte instructions are forthcoming tomorrow. I’m having a problem reading the chart.

Sigh. I did, however, finish the Gathered Pullover yesterday! It is currently blocking, so pics to follow tomorrow.
(I noted with happiness that Haley is selling books at the American price (it has been a big debate up here that despite the fact our dollar is more or less at par now, book prices differ between Canada and the US by several dollars – in this case, seven!).

JJ also bought this microwave/convection oven/grill thingy to replace our toaster oven and microwave (the microwave’s plate got broken by JJ, and the toaster oven, for some reason, keeps blowing the fuse when in operation of late):

It is huge … and comes with an instruction manual resembling the Great Canadian Novel. Good thing I have post-secondary education – I think I’ll need it to figure out how to operate this puppy. You will notice that the clock is set, however. Damn, I’m good!

In parting, while reviewing this blog post I was reminded of Rick Mercer’s take on blogging (a video clip – click on the second link down “Mercer: the last man to get his own blog”). Hope Im not that boring! I must come across like some shameless consumer – I guess after 10 years or so in the big city in relative penury while going to school and working two or three jobs to get by, I’m still not used to having discretionary income!


…and on the eighth day, She…

…bought yarn! (inevitable, wasn’t it?)

And I can’t even say that I had good intentions at the beginning of the day. Evil Kristina has been holding the reins since Monday (perhaps Good Kristina is still hungover and bloated from the extended beer/wine/champagnefest in Europe?).

So, I stopped at my friendly neighbourhood LYS, Knitomatic on the way home from work today, ready to spend. And spend I did!

So, now for the requisite really bad photos of really fab yarns! (I really should take a photography course. Wonder if I could get my workplace to pay for it?… hmm…)

First up: the magical glow-in-the-dark Fleece Artist Goldielocks!

(Ok, ok… it really doesn’t glow in the dark. The real colour is closer to this photo of their shawl pattern below.)

Isn’t it pretty! And that shawl is made in garter stitch. I love stuff that looks complicated and impressive but is really super simple…

And next, a selection for a summer top or two (on sale!): Manos Cotton Stria.

I’ve always wanted to get some of this, and there it was in some of my favourite Mediterranean colours! Time for a new future Greek antiquity!

And finally, some Noro Silk Garden:

I was thinking I might do another Moebius something… but who knows.

Now, it’s not as though I needed any of this. Imagine my shock when I came home from vacation to find that Santa’s elves had been in my absence and overturned my spare room…

Seriously. I certainly didn’t leave it like that. Nor did I leave the bedroom in this state:

As proof of this, you can see the suitcase on the left hand side of the photo.

Anyway, in my defence the spare room is not solely a yarn stash. JJ has his whole life documented in there in various little piles… however, I will confess that there is probably some yarn stashed behind the laundry basket in the bedroom. There is also a considerable stash in the corner of the living room but I can’t show you it right now because I took these photos last night while JJ was watching TV and he would have started asking stupid questions such as:

(a) Why are ye takin’ pictures of this tip (Scotspeak for garbage dump)? Ye’re surely not puttin’ them on that bog (sic) of yours?!?; or

(b) Where’s mah dinner? Ye set the smoke alarm goin’ an hour ago!!!

But there are more important things to do, such as work on the Nina shawl. This was the progress as of early last evening:

Add about 30 rows to that. A bit slower than usual, because I said to myself that I’d start reading more for pleasure again. This is the current book:

If you haven’t read anything by her, think about it. Her fiction is excellent. This is a non-fiction book about her family’s decision to eat only fresh local stuff for a year… and how hard that can be. Quite interesting, and some good recipes!!

Anyway, time to motor. As a parting thought, it was on this day in 1768 that the first modern circus was staged… in London.


(You must have known that I was going to sneak in more vacation photos at some point, surely?!?)

Hmm. And here I thought that the circus first arrived when I hit town!

Shameless self-indulgence…

…or, How Kristina Went to the LYS for Buttons Only and Ended Up Buying More Handmaiden and Fleece Artist.

I imagine that just about any knitter who reads this will relate to tales of an everburgeoning stash. My stash drawers and tote box, in particular, runneth over with fancy silks, silk blends and wool by those beckoning sirens, Handmaiden and Fleece Artist.

With this in mind, I set off for the LYS at the lunch break – only, mind you, to look for buttons for JJs vest in the making:

When I got to the LYS, however, I realised that I had forgotten they now close on Mondays!

I remained remarkably calm. After all, there was a huge sewing emporium just down the street. So, I popped in there and got the buttons. I felt quite virtuous that I hadn’t just gone back to the office and tried the LYS again on Tuesday instead.

Virtuous, that is, until 2:30 p.m. or so when visions of this started dancing in my head…

A skein of Fleece Artist Italian Silk that looks remarkably, er. chartreuse. The identical skein, in fact, to one that I had been laughing at the last time I was at the LYS close to my house, Knitomatic I think my words to Leane, who works at the store, were “There is no one in the world who this bile colour would look decent on.”

No one, apparently, except Evil Kristina, to whom the yellowy-green colour was a light beckoning me towards some oasis.

By the time I left work it was pouring with rain which was starting to turn into sleet. I made a steadfast decision not to stop in at Knitomatic (a ten minute walk from my place) and instead to take the bus all the way home.

Until, that is, the Knitomatic bus stop (as I have come to think of it – I can’t even tell you the name of the cross-street!) approached.

The inevitable internal dialogue then began:

Evil Kristina: Hey!!! You forgot to pull the bell cord. Our stop’s coming up.

Good Kristina: I told you we’re not stopping here tonight. The weather is crap, and besides, that colour is horrid.

Evil Kristina: Well then, let’s just go have a look at it again. It will make you feel good to walk out of there without having bought anything.

Good thinking. At any rate, although no one usually gets off at this stop, about five people stood up and made tracks to the door. This was a sign.

So, when I arrived at Knitomatic looking like a drowned chipmunk (oh, did I mention I forgot my umbrella today?), I headed straight for the little baskets where the Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns live. And guess what I saw?

A shiny buttercream confection of half silk, half wool – by Handmaiden.

Good Kristina: Put that back. You don’t need it.

Evil Kristina: Of course I don’t need it – I want it! It’s only $31 – a steal!

Good Kristina: But just think of that whole stash of Handmaiden and Fleece Artist that we came across yesterday in the spare room!

Evil Kristina: Did you see any in this colour there?

Good Kristina: Er… no, come to think of it.

Evil Kristina: Well, don’t we need a nice neutral colour for a change to balance off all those jewel tones?

(Good point!)

Good Kristina: NO!!! Besides, since you bought all that laceweight yarn, you haven’t even wanted to knit any more lace! So, what is the point of buying more?

Evil Kristina: I already told you, that’s going to be the New Year’s resolution – lace knitting. Forget that “quitting smoking” bit. You just set yourself up for failure when you try to quit smoking at New Year’s!

Good Kristina: But we don’t even believe in New Year’s resolutions!!!

Evil Kristina: My point exactly!!

(Huh?)

Good Kristina: That doesn’t even make sense, you moron. Besides, we decided at the beginning of the summer that we wouldn’t be buying any more wool, and stick to cotton and other stuff.

Evil Kristina: Oh? So why’d you buy this in August then?

Good Kristina: (grasping at straws) Well, it was cheap. And I still want to knit lace.

Evil Kristina: But the buttercream colour looks so Victorian! It’s perfect for lace.

(Score: 1/0 for Evil Kristina. But, never content to rest on her laurels…)

Evil Kristina: So, what about this one then?

Good Kristina: (exasperated) What about it?!? The buttercream one is meant to be instead of this one. Let’s just pay for it and go.

Evil Kristina: But it’s so funky!!

Good Kristina: It is not “funky”, it’s hideous. Why do you think it’s still sitting there? Because no one wants to buy it!

Evil Kristina: But it’s Italian Silk by Handmaiden!!

Good Kristina: We already have two skeins of that, don’t you remember?!?

Evil Kristina: So? When did that ever stop you before? Remember that week when you searched high and low throughout the city to find Sea Silk in the Ocean colourway after hearing about it on Ravelry…

…and then, the same week – the same week, mind you! – you saw this purple Sea Silk…

…and just had to have it!!

Good Kristina: (sulking) It was my birthday that week.

Evil Kristina: Ah yes, your birthday. Didn’t you buy the Alchemy that week as well, because you just had to make that Oriel blouse which now you don’t even like any more?

Good Kristina: Um, er…

Evil Kristina: And how convenient that it falls right after that stupid Payday holiday you’ve started celebrating to justify your spending to yourself!

Good Kristina: We’re not getting the chartreuse colour. Period.

(long pause)

Evil Kristina: Look, you know you’re just going to come back later in the week for it – and you’ll be pissed off if it’s not there!

(longer pause)

Good Kristina: I don’t know…

Evil Kristina: Look at it this way. You’re knitting that vest for JJ, right? Despite the fact that you have all this other stuff you want to make for yourself? So, don’t you deserve a little treat?

Good Kristina: (faltering) But… if I get new silk I won’t want to finish his vest…

Evil Kristina: Hey, you’ve got lots of willpower. You’ll finish it. He needs it for the trip, right?

Good Kristina: …well, all right then.

Final score: 2/0 for Evil Kristina.

And the moral of the story, you ask? Never go to the LYS for buttons again. There are sewing shops that sell buttons without all of the other tempations that the LYS holds…

Temptations such as this:


And this…


…and more of this…

(The first photo that I took of this yarn, by the way, will show you just how excited I was by my new purchases – jumping up and down!)

Not to mention this:

Good Kristina: Well, surely that doesn’t really count as I bought it on sale 1/2 price!

Evil Kristina: Yeah, but were these two on sale? Huh? Huh?

Good Kristina: Um, er…

You would think that I would learn, wouldn’t you!

Sigh. In closing, last year on this day Harper (the PM)’s motion to declare Québécois “a nation within a unified Canada” was endorsed. I still haven’t figured out what that means, but hey.

Cheers,

Kristina

PS. Actually, the final score was 2/1 for Evil Kristina. She spotted a bright yellow skein of Super 10 on her way out but Good Kristina managed to talk her out of it in light of this:

(Hmm. No yellow. Maybe I’ll have to walk home from the subway station this evening. It doesn’t really take that much longer than the bus…

Yeah, right.)


the beauty of evil

(pretty glass baubles… more info below!)

The philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil”, a concept with which I have great sympathy. Having said that, my personal version of evil is quite beautiful. Fleece Artist and Handmaiden borne evil, to be exact.

I must have broken some kind of record this month in yarn spending, even for myself. I had to attend the MTO office yesterday to renew my driving licence (only two months after expiry, a personal best). I must say the lady there was so kind with me – usually they give me a really hard time and make me beg, plead and sign three or four statutory declarations that I didn’t even THINK about getting behind the wheel of a car within the period the licence was expired. I was having nightmares about being forced to go and redo the test 21 years later, and now they have a graduated system which means I would have had to drive with the supervision of an “adult” for a year first (wouldn’t JJ just love THAT!!).

But I digress. Of course the MTO office was only a 10 minute walk from my 3rd LYS, Lettuce Knit. And, of course, I had to take a spin by there – to buy stitch markers only, you know.

Well, 20 minutes later, here’s what I left the store with:

Wool, of all things! Suri Blue, laceweight, Fleece Artist. Nothing wrong with wool, of course. I just don’t usually buy it, preferring silk instead (and cotton when I’m feeling cheap). But I think it will be perfect for the Magical Earth shawl by Sandy Terp from A Gathering of Lace. I am a sucker for Celtic patterning (hence, JJ living with me… he is a Celt, and Irish, although he doesn’t admit it. However, if both one’s parents are Irish, what does that make one, anyway? Luckily for me he doesn’t read this blog or the very first comment on this post would be “I’m SCOTTISH – how many times do I have to tell you!!!”.

But here I digress, yet again. Not that I have anywhere near the skills to knit the Magical Earth shawl. But hey.

Holly thinks that zombies are evil. However, I’ll tell you what the true evil in life is: lace knitting. It seems like the potato chip of knitting to me these days… you can’t eat just one! So, now another 1200 metres of yarn for the stash. I could probably string together all of the yarn in the stash across the Atlantic and get myself a very cheap trip to Greece next summer. 😉

This was me having patted myself on the back because I didn’t locate any Sea Silk that I didn’t fall in love with. So abstemtious, I thought, until I found myself rooting through the Suri Blue bin.

Mind you, here is the Sea Silk I fell in love with earlier in the week at Romni, in the amethyst colourway:

It’s now official. I have enough yarn to make shawls to cover the entire exterior of my six story apartment building. The Super 7 or Lotto 6/49 had better come through very soon, given that having to work impedes me substantially in attaining this goal.

Oh – and my new addiction (although, thankfully, much cheaper than the yarn one):

Beads!! Because, of course, I had to hit Arton Beads on the lunch hour yesterday. So, now I have enough beads to mark every kilometre on the cross-atlantic yarn pulley trip to Athens… 11,000 or thereabouts (I am geographically challenged, so please do correct me if I am wrong!).

But – did I actually end up buying stitch markers? NO. I forgot. SIGH.

I wonder if the landlord would accept yarn for the November rent? Hmm. Note to self: lobby Ministry of Housing to suggest change to the Residential Tenancies Act to allow for rent payment in stash rather than cash. I would run it by the Toronto housing study group but they would probably have me committed.

On the knitting front: I am working on two projects that I want to submit to Knitty to see if they will actually publish them. This is killing me in a way as I can’t show off project pics on the blog. SIGH. Next project will be the Brioche vest for JJ from the Best of Interweave Knits (selfless little ol’ me…).

I’m also hacking away at some mosaic flowerpot candle holder thingies for holiday gifts. Luckily for me, they take quite a bit less time to make than the Magical Shawl will!!!

Oh – NEW CRAFT ALERT!!!! (for those of you who have lots of time on your hands and want another craft which will allow you to make fancy Christmas presents…) here is my gift to you for the 20 October feastday of… well, it must be some feast day, somewhere!



Shiny Happy Coasters!!

(you may or may not know that I also do mosaic work, primarily with stained glass. If interested I have links to some of my mosaic projects on the sidebar)

I started making these after seeing some woman selling them for $25 for four at a craft sale (which I thought was quite something, given that the glass costs about $1.50 and they take about 5 minutes to make). J “if it’s no’ whisky, it’s CRRRRAP!” J has co-opted the last set I made (10 minutes before a dinner party I was hosting… he was amazed. One minute, no coasters, the next minute … coasters! The guests also got some to take home as a little hostess gift. How Martha of me, really!

Here’s a gratuitous cheesecake photo of JJ – a very rare sighting with a glass of alcohol other than whisky!

He does look Irish, doesn’t he?!?

Back to the regularly scheduled programme…If interested in making coasters, the start up cost is fairly low. This is what you need:

From the bottom (because I’m weird) – all tools available at a stained glass shop, and likely at places like Michael’s as well:

1. glass cutter (this one is rather high end as I have done this professionally, but you can get a decent one for this purpose for about $10 CDN)
2. tile/glass snapper (to separate the pieces of glass once you have scored them – about $3)
3. a rasp to file down the edges of glass (about $5). I also have a special machine I use for this, but again, not necessary unless you’re doing pro work.

You will also need:

1. a cork-backed straightedge (mine was, ahem, liberated from a past office)
2. stained glass, of course. It costs anywhere between $5 and $20 for a one-foot square, depending upon the type of glass. The one in the photo is “opalised” and goes for about $15 per foot. One foot will make 9 coasters. My favourite is called “oil slick” and is opalised like the one in these photos but I don’t have a pic to show you right now.
3. these little foot things with sticky backs (available at ye locale dollar shop). There are optional but helpful to avoid slippage.

The process:

1. put the piece of glass on a non-slippery surface (a table covered with a towel works well. Don’t forget to put the towel in the laundry basket right after).

2. pick the part you want to score and put the straightedge there.

3. score a line on the straightedge with the glass cutter.

4. use the glass snapper gently to separate the pieces.

5. cut the resulting smaller piece of glass into coaster sized pieces.

6. file the edges with the rasp.

7. stick the little feet on.

Voila!

So, now you’re asking – why did I post a photo of glass baubles at the top? Because they’re pretty (Michael’s, $7/bag. You can also get some good ones at the dollar store) and because they lead to a very simple craft to do – either by yourself or with kids. Just get a tube of glue or a small bucket of tile adhesive if for outdoor use, and stick the beads to stuff – glass vases, mason jars, etc.

Have fun!