fun crafts and weird phone hotlines

Well, it’s back to the grind – but what better to kick off my working week with some craft ideas, one quick, one interesting if you’ve got a tortured brain like mine? (Besides, I figure I’d better have some craft content on here before my 10 or so regulars wander away).

First up: you, too, can look like a lace knitting genius in ten minutes or less* by making yourself a
fancy lace bracelet:
:

* more than 10 minutes if you actually want to knit the lace… but why not just pick some up and say you knitted it! and don’t quote me, either!

And now for another tip which has haunted and fascinated me since I came across the concept: a tutorial onHow to knit backwards:

And speaking of “backwards”, now for a wee rant. Sometimes I just hate reading the paper. You see, I learned this morning that our Minister for Public Safety, the Honourable Doris Stockwell Day:

in his infinite wisdom, had started up a snitch line for us upstanding citizens to report illegal immigrants by way of anonymous phone call. The Canadian Border Services monitor this line, and they say that “no information, however trivial it may seem, is too small.”

Well, guess what? According to today’s Glib and Stale Globe and Mail, that endeavour has apparently generated a large number of bizarre calls.

Why? Well, some people apparently like to make crank calls. Others, no doubt, are mentally challenged, wandering aimlessly without treatment since they started to defund certain medical services and close beds in certain facilities and are merely looking for company.

And… some other people like to make crank calls. I know this might be shocking to you, but it’s true. Of course, I personally have never made a crank call – unless, of course, you count those ones that we made from the church hall payphone when we were all about 12 and resenting having to go to Greek lessons – we’d phone 411 information and ask for “Hooker Heaven”, etc. and hang up giggling. And let me tell you, the priest was not best pleased when he found out we were doing this. But I digress.

Anyway, here’s the types of calls they’ve been getting:

  • Caller wants personal information about her husband, but doesn’t know when or when he was born.
  • Caller says that psychiatrist is forcing caller to take illegal medication
  • Caller says he is illegally in the country, and demands to be deported.
  • Caller states he has a problem. His wife’s family is interfering with his marriage and he doesn’t want them to come to Canada.
  • Caller would like to deport a couple of people from Canada and she would like the website address to fill out the proper forms.  Caller is advised that it is not her decision who gets deported. Caller does not care.

I particularly like that last one.  I can think of a few people I’d like to get deported, Stockwell Day and his boss Stephen Harper being at the top of that list!

Hmm… where is that website?  I need to get hold of that hotline number!

Happy Tuesday!

“Advised him to speak with his wife.”

another PayDay, another $50 out the window…

Well, yesterday being the Ides of May, I headed to the local yarn shop as usual.

And here’s what I got!

First, a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas cotton in the Curry colourway (pictured below in the middle).

I’m hoping to make the Delft top in the current issue of Interweave Knits with these colours (I had the red and the orange in the stash from past swaps).

Oh, you should all congratulate me on my extreme forebearance. Why? Because, even though they had a brand new shipment of Handmaiden products in, I did not buy Handmaiden yesterday. I didn’t even look at it.

Er, um… ahem… I should confess that this is only the case because I was so taken with the Blue Moon collection:

The colourway is called “Atomic” of all things. Cool, eh?

And damn and blast (and double and triple damn) Lettuce Knits for being only one of two stores in Canada for carrying the stuff!! They’re just a bunch of pushers, really. Sheesh. I really, really can’t be blamed for losing my head (even though a whole bunch of Blue Moon stuff is winging its way to me from the US as we speak).

Actually, with all of those kilometres of laceweight yarn due to arrive, maybe I could use one of these as well:



Do you think I could program it to make Shetland lace?

Hmm. Actually, I doubt it. It was probably intended to make more useful everyday items of wear such as this:

Just check out that hunk o’ burnin love, would you? That fancy top wouldn’t be staying on him too long in my vicinity, I can tell you!!!

Or, how about some toys for the kiddies?

A very topical set of toys, I should think, given all the talk about bullying in the news these days (and you can click the link if you want to see my view on this issue!).

And, just to end off the work-week, I thought I’d post my top three weblinks for today:

(a) Passive-Aggressive Notes: I figure we’ve all seen such notes from time to time, although of course I’ve never written one myself! (cough cough). I get a real kick out of this website.

(b) Stitchy McYarnpants: some very funny photos of vintage knits, together with commentary. And, she reminded me that I hadn’t looked at Passive-Aggressive Notes for a while. Thanks, Stitchy!

(c) Stephen Fry: he is a rather funny English actor and has recently set up a blog. I’m not sure what I prefer about it – reading his excellent writing or checking out the self-important commentators who either pretend to be buddies with him or pontificate using poor grammar and big words that they dont know how to spel.

Miaow!

Happy Friday!

a lovely spring afternoon…

…part of the loveliness courtesy of Michaels Craft Superstore!

We scored lots of goodies there yesterday.  For example, since I didn’t already nearly have enough beads for knitting…

… I needed to pick up some more.  Approximately 12,000 more by my calculation:

And what am I going to do with all these beads, you ask, shaking your head?  Well, a girl can never have too many chartreuse beads, can she?

These ones are intended to replace the gold beads I bought for the Moroccan Days shawl kit:

…which calls for 5,000 or so.  However, I poached some of the gold beads for the Sherwood I’m working on now:

(which I’ve decided, by the way, will be my mother’s belated present for Mother’s Day.  Hi, Mom!)

And these ones?

Well, I think they’ll go quite well with this Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Ocean colourway:

This, by the way, is the Ocean that I just had to have last August.  Yes, it’s still in the stash.  I’ve earmarked it for a “stealth project” (as Soo would say).  Stay tuned.

In keeping with the oceanic theme, I also picked up some sea glass:

It looks like pastel ice!

But don’t worry, JJ didn’t come home emptyhanded.  The reason for the trip in the first place so that he could pick up some stuff for the seasonal door decoration.  Here it is:

Isn’t it lovely?  Almost as lovely as this stuff…

Happy Sunday – and a happy Mother’s Day to those brave souls out there who have earned that title.

some knits for summer – and a free pattern!

Well, summer is coming (says she, groaning at the thought of venturing out into a miserable cold rainy day) and the summertime knits are parading along right in front of it!

Ever wanted to make your own Converse sneakers? Here’s the pattern.
And don’t say I never gave you anything!

(I love Craft Magazine!)

I also like this pattern in the Interweave Knits Summer 2008 edition:

The pattern is by Barbara Gregory, a local designer and artist who also created the fabulous Bacardi cardigan:

As for Vogue Knitting, none of the patterns in the current issue really spoke to me (probably a good thing as I might start speaking back and people would look at me funny). However, check out this rib/cable pattern!

The instructions are available for free on their website here.

But what am I plotting? Well, I’m still awaiting my order from Blue Moon – in typical indecisive style, I changed my request for Sapphire to (love the name!) Lover’s Leap:


(What I really wanted to do, of course, is write back and say “Just give me one… no, make that two… of everything please. But I haven’t won the lottery. Yet. It won’t be very long until I’m famous though, as I’m sure the phone will be ringing off the hook today with calls from publishers who have seen my letter to the editor today and want to offer me a book deal.)

As well, in addition to the Sherwood, I’m working on the lovely Moonshadow stole by Sivia Harding (the kit is available at Earthfaire online):

I’ve picked a different colourway, Velvet Turquoise from Liius yarns, a wool mohair blend:

It’s lovely stuff.

I’m also trying to decide whether I should make one of these for myself.

But actually, on second thought, it probably won’t work unless I get the name of her makeup artist as well.

Miaow. I invite you to put your caption for this photo in the comments section.

Happy Thursday!

**************

conferences can be productive…

… and I’m living proof – because I have not one, but two finished objects to share which were knitted from start to finish at a tenant advocate conference I attended earlier today!

They were both one skein projects – but then what the hell do you expect from me?!?

First up, number 1. I’m calling it “Feudal Forest”.

It was knitted with a yarn called Estelle 12 which I picked up at Knitomatic.

The yarn was advertised as 12 yarns in one. And I think that was correct, although I lost count. Finished scarf is 47″ by 5″, knitted on 10mm needles.

This one was just a simple garter stitch, but knitted lengthwise. I can’t tell you how many stitches I cast on. In fact, I freaked out a couple of coworkers because I had started knitting this from the short end but didn’t like how it looked, so just ripped back the whole thing, having knitted about 8″ worth. Two people at least at this point gave me the “what the hell are you doing?!?!?!” sign language …

And here is a photo with the proud (for now) owner.

And now for number 2, which I will call “Purple Prose” for this exercise.

This was knitted with one skein of Berocco Quest on 9mm needles.

Again, I cast on lengthwise (the needles were 24″ length and I just cast on as many stitches as fit). The pattern is as follows:

Row 1: K1, (K2TOG, yo) x whatever it needs to get to the last stitch, then K1

Row 2: P all

Yes, yes, I know the ends aren’t darned in. But I knit two scarves in five hours!!! What more do you want from me?!?

Finished size = 38″ x 6″ or so.

Oh, I should note that I lied slightly above when I said I knit all of this at the conference. In fact, I finished the purple one at the pub… but this is only because (a) I had to rip out the first scarf; and (b) I had to spend the lunch hour scouting the pub location for after the festivities with my trusty social co-convenor, J.

And here’s a photo with the proud owner of Purple Prose.

Now, put this all together with the fact that today I wore my Crazed Harlequin Dress:

…together with my Tuscany:

… and I know I came across as some knitting eccentric. But then again, apparently I’ve gained some fame in the wider admin law/poverty law circle… a lecturer today whom I’ve never met approached me and said “You’re the knitting lawyer, aren’t you?? I’ve heard of you!”

Hey, I’ve been called worse in my time.

Happy Tuesday!

Sherwood and other forests

A burning question: if April showers bring May flowers, what do May showers bring?

The answer: gloom and doom, with a beacon of hope.

I don’t know how people live in a climate where it rains all the time. I can’t stand three days in a row of rain, myself! Not to mention the damp chill.

So, I had to take some photos in the forest to remind myself that there is hope of regrowth after all.

And what did I find? Dead trees…

…and more dead trees.

Auuuggghhh!

But then I decided to take the glass half full approach to life for once, and was able to notice signs of life after all:

…both real and metaphorical!

And another shot of the Toronto forest (as opposed to Sherwood):

So, how is Sherwood anyway? Well, he’s ticking along quite merrily – as did Robin Hood and his men, apparently.

Gotta love these beads (there will be 1300 or so in the finished object, or so I’m told)! The yarn is Misti Alpaca Handpaints laceweight in the prosaically named “EZ05” colourway. I’m calling it Sunset in the Forest, myself.

And here’s the money shot:

Not bad, eh? It will be approximately 16″ wide when finished and I don’t know how long, but suffice it to say there are many, many more pattern repeats to go.

But now off to gather my materials for the big all-day legal training session I’m attending today…

Luckily I’m not presenting, which means that I might actually have the time to whip up a scarf!

Happy Monday!

**************

Never on Sunday…

I tend to refrain from shopping for yarn on Sunday, preferring instead to clean the house laze about, go out for coffee, knit, etc.  It is, after all, meant to be a day of rest (I am a subscriber of the “take what you like and leave the rest” school of religion, obviously).

Which meant, of course, that I had to go trolling for yarn yesterday!

Yes, yes – I was unfaithful to the Handmaiden yet again! I should be hanging my head in shame, not gloating about it over the Internet, I suppose.

But in my defence, I had the car yesterday and was in the mood to explore. So I headed up to a shop I had heard about some time back called The Enchanted Needle.

This shop is located in a city called Woodbridge, just north of Toronto:

Woodbridge used to look like this, apparently:

Now it looks more like this:

And it’s full of these:

Argh.  Let me tell you that the Enchanted Needle was the only beacon of light in what otherwise seems to be Strip Mall Hell.  It is a great shop, primarily focusing on needlepoints and tapestries.  I saw some kits for pieces like this:

I had to avert my eyes, because the last thing I need is another expensive and time-consuming hobby.  So, instead, I headed upstairs to the smaller space where they sell knitting yarns.

It is there that I found the Misti Alpaca Handpaints depicted above there.  Blue, turquoise and lime green – what’s not to like?!  I won’t tell you how many skeins I got there.  Suffice it to say that if I were to tie all the skeins together, affix one end to the doorknob in my apartment building and venture out on foot in Toronto, there are few places I couldn’t find my way back from.

For good measure, I threw these in:

2.25 mm knitting needles!  If you had told me I’d be buying such a skinny pair of needles a year ago, I would tell you that you had taken leave of your senses.  Instead, the senseless one is I.

I guess having new kilometres of yarn in the stash wasn’t enough, as I promptly arrived home and ordered the following from Blue Moon Fiber Arts: Blue Moonstone…

…and Star Sapphire.

Why did I have to take up lace knitting! It requires kilometres of yarn and every project takes a long time to finish.  This ensures that the stash will grow to brobdignanian proportions.

On that note, I think it’s time to go off and re-organize the stash.

But not before I explain the photo at the top.  That is a photo of Melina Mercouri, who was a famous Greek actress and singer:

The film she is probably known most for here in North America is Never On Sunday…

… where she played a hooker with a heart of gold who organized all the other hookers in Athens to stand up to the big bad bossman pimp, and led them in a strike!

A woman after my own pinko heart, clearly.  She later became a Minister of Parliament and they’ve even made stamps with her on it!

The whole country mourned when she died some time back.

Vale Melina.  I want to be you when I grow up.

Happy Sunday!

tempting the Photo Gods

Well, the other day I got bored at work had some free time. So, naturally, I decided to mess around with all the photos I published here the other day, using the free photo morphing program in Flickr.

Here are my favourites.

Hey, do you think that this is what acid rain causes? Hmm.

Now for a diptych (big word, eh!):

As you can tell, I really like that radioactive blue colour. And what about electric blue?

Pretty cool, eh?

However, I think I’ve pissed off the Photo Gods. Here is the only non-blurry photo I’ve managed to take of Sherwood thus far.

Now, when I’m working on this project, I can’t stop thinking about this guy:

…which inevitably leads me to thinking about this guy, Dennis Moore:

Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Galloping through the sward
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
And his horse Concorde
He steals from the rich
And gives to the poor
Mr. Moore, Mr. Moore, Mr. Moore….

Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Dum dum dum the night
Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore
Dum de dum dum plight
He steals dum dum dum
And dum dum dum dee
Dennis dum, Dennis dee, dum dum dum.

(By the way, I do hope you didn’t click the link above, as this tune will probably be with you for the entire weekend. Yes, it’s one of those.)

I wonder where all these guys disappeared to who used to steal from the rich and give to the poor, anyway. They certainly didn’t end up in Parliament!!

On that happy note, let me bid you a fond farewell, gentle readers, and a happy weekend!

Regards,

Maid Marian

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PayDay mysteries… and a new family member!

Well, what a coincidence that on PayDay, I came across a mysterious door…

…which led to a long and winding path through an enchanted forest.

And where did the path end?

My local yarn store!

Amazing, isn’t it? So, of course I just had to buy some yarn.

Misti Alpaca has managed to outdo themselves, I learned, with some new handpainted lace yarn in 800g skeins!

(In actual fact, I had learned this before PayDay. But it was a guid excuse to lay in some more stock.)

Isn’t this sumptuous?

I also succumbed, finally, to the temptation to give in to that dreaded Siren, Kureyon.

Now, I don’t quite get why I would want to knit socks out of this scratchy-as-hell yarn. However, I couldn’t resist the lure of the rainbow…

So, the lovely Leane suggested that I pair the Kureyon with a strand of this Kid Seta and make a shawl:

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I am highly suggestible to anything to do with the acquisition of yarn. But it’s lovely in itself, isn’t it?

Almost like a sunset in a skein!

I even bought some novelty yarn on sale because of the fab colour:

Fit for a Yarn Queen.

And, finally, this rather uncharacteristic purchase. The yarn is called Twelve and it’s got twelve types of yarn in one.

Funky, eh? I thought it would make a cute party scarf at some point.

But lest you think I was selfish on this very fine day, let it be known that JJ got a goodie as well:

A garden gnome for the balcony flowerbox!!!

And not only that, but it comes with a handy reference manual on All Things Gnomish:

In this photo is the author of the guidebook (I’ll leave you to guess who that might be):

JJ is quite chuffed, and as I write is talking to the gnome. I’m advised that his name is Wee John. (And now you understand why it is that JJ actually puts up with all my foolishness. He’s a bit barmy himself, eh?

And finally now I realise why I was so inspired to do my Group of Seven project!!

Methinks the wee pagan Quack Junior and Wee John will become fast friends…

I just hope that they don’t run off to the forest together!

Happy Thursday!


the legend of a shawl called Icarus

Once upon a time there was a Princess called Aphrodite. She had the fairest figure in all the land of Trana:


For this reason, Aphrodite’s evil stepmother, the Handmaiden, was jealous. She kept Aphrodite locked up in this tower:

with only a shawl called Icarus for company.

Icarus was actually far better company for Aphrodite than one might think. He had been made of the finest Lace Silk which the Handmaiden had lovingly spun. Also, a wonderful designer called Miriam Felton dictated what form Icarus would take.

Now, Icarus had some very difficult moments growing up. He was constantly picked on by the full grown lace shawls in the tower. They even threw him outside a couple of times.

Even worse, he was attacked by the dreaded Frogman three times!

This left Icarus a little bruised and battered.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Icarus never reached his full weight. He was meant to become at least 150 grams with 1,000 metres of yarn, like all the other Icari. However, the Handmaiden used only a 3mm needle to make him – so he weighed only 90 grams!

However, his actual size was 66″ wide by 44″ deep – quite impressive for a scrawny underweight.

But back to our main story. Icarus, once he reached his full size, got restless and bored with life in the tower. So, one day, he escaped:

He initially got caught in the leaves protecting the tower, as you can see. However, he managed to disentangle himself and go exploring the grounds around the castle.

He found a rock wall to lounge around on for a while…

…but then got bored with this and went to find a more comfortable bed:

It was springtime in Trana. Being locked in the tower all that time, Icarus had never seen flowers, so went exploring a bit.

He had never seen anything so beautiful in his short life:

He then headed over to Millionaires Row – Aphrodite had told him never, ever to go there because the people who lived there were Evil and Corrupt Capitalists. However, Icarus didn’t initially see any evil people, only beautiful trees:

Meanwhile, back in the tower, Aphrodite wept bitterly. She could not be consoled by the other shawls, although they tried:

You see, unlike the other shawls, Icarus had a very delicate Rowan Kidsilk edging, which was lovely, but likely to shrink in the cold April rain:
.

As well, people called Icarus had had a history of melting in the sun, and Aphrodite, being the superstitious Greek Princess that she was, was scared for her little shawl.

(The Weatherman had said that it would not be sunny for several days. However, everyone knew that the Weatherman was always wrong – especially in April).

Icarus, however, wasn’t missing home a bit. He hung around in front of Spadina House for a while:

then found some pine cones to play with.

But suddenly, an Evil and Corrupt Capitalist jumped out of the bushes:

“Hey! Those pine cones are my property!”, bellowed The Capitalist. He then threatened to call the police, who would come and unravel Icarus so that Icarus could never trespass again.

Icarus ran as fast as he could to the safety of the Local Yarn Store, where he knew he would be protected by the Lovely Yarn Pushers:

However, he soon tired of all of the close up attention he was getting (Icarus was actually quite shy):

He also realised, seeing all the fabulous yarns, that he missed his lace brothers and sisters in the tower.

So, Icarus returned home to Aphrodite, who was thrilled.

And the Handmaiden, realising the folly of her ways in keeping all of them locked up, began to let them out from time to time:

And so they all lived happily ever after…

(Happily, that is, until Aphrodite got seduced by a Prince called Misti d’Alpaca who promised her all sorts of gold baubles:

…but then ran off, leaving her in a forest called Sherwood to fend for herself.

Stay tuned for the next fairy tale!!)