Friday, March 31, 2006

A close race, indeed!

Pink had a clear early lead, but red rallied and overtook pink around the mid-way point. By the end, red was the winner, but not by too much -- at last count, red had 33 votes, pink had 25, and Em thought I should swatch both. (That was a good one! She's a funny lady.) I have to say that I'm still not completely sure, but I'm leaning to pink. So I'm going to start knitting a sleeve with the pink, and if it looks terrible I'll switch to red. But thanks for voting! If fifty people had said the pink was the worst idea ever, I'd have to reconsider, but since the results were close, I'm going with my knitter's gut on this one. I'll keep you posted. Now I think I'll go and put a little pink yarn olive in my sidebar, to keep me on track...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The SCJ Contrast-Hem-Facing Poll [TM]

There is a bit more support in the comments for red than for pink, but to help you decide, I've wrangled up an interactive, high-tech visual tool. To consider each combo fairly, you can cover up the other side with your hand -- that's the interactive part. :)

I tried to photograph the balls of wool to show you, but it's impossible to photograph red. It was much easier to find the closest possible shades in my computer, which is what the little circles are. Then I tried to compose pairs of circles that didn't look like demonic googly-eyes. I think I've achieved something closer to pimento yarn-olives, don't you?

So, if you haven't weighed in yet, pink or red? (I'll admit that blue would really be the best choice, but I'm using what I've got.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Swatch-oo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

Oh, dear. I do apologize for that title.

Instead of finishing the zinnia socks yesterday, I knit swatches -- oh yes, I did -- for the Sunrise Circle Jacket. Putting all of those skeins of wool into my new drawers (ooh, itchy!) motivated me to start this project. I know, I know, I said something recently about not knitting any more sweaters. Luckily this is a jacket. Heh heh heh.

I thought it might be fun in bright pink Peace Fleece. Here, my lovely assistant Bill will hold the swatch for your perusal:

On 4.5 mm needles, too few stitches per inch: I'm getting 17 stitches over 4 inches, and I need 18.5. Feeling quite sure that knitting Peace Fleece any tighter than this would really not be a lot of fun, I switched to the Briggs & Little wool that was originally intended for Mariah, and was last seen flirting briefly with Kepler:

Also on 4.5 mm needles, a perfect 18.5 stitches over 4 inches -- but my row gauge is off. The pattern calls for 28 rows over 4 inches, and I'm getting only 24. And it seems to me that row gauge will be more important in this pattern than usual, and that I'll end up with a jacket that is longer than it should be. I think I'm going to take my chances, though. (Maybe I should knit a size smaller than what I want to end up with, based on the jacket's construction?) In any case, I'll start with the front pieces, as designer Kate has recommended here.

One question remains, and for this I need your advice. This jacket is hemmed, and I want to knit the inside facings in a contrasting colour. I have more B&L wool in a medium pink and in red (you can scroll down to see them, actually); which colour should I use?

I just love the headline:

"The cardigan is now the most fabulous thing ever."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Consumer's Report

I thought I'd share a recent (yesterday) purchase with you, mostly because this is something that is on sale at Canadian Tire until March 31 (item #68-1159-8).* You might be interested if you have a modest yarn stash like me, or if you're battling stash overflow and need a few more drawers.

I love this little chest of drawers -- it's not too big, but it holds a lot of stuff. What stuff? How much stuff? Well, let's look inside...

Two of the top drawers hold my sock yarns, and I'm pleased to report that I've used up most of what I had on hand. I have enough in these drawers for seven pairs, and that's plenty. The other top drawer holds leftovers, as does the large bottom drawer:

The middle drawers are filled with my surprisingly large collection of Briggs & Little wool and Peace Fleece:

It's great for me to be able to see all this stuff at once -- my previous "system" involved various plastic bins in a closet upstairs. Putting that stuff into these drawers let me see what I've got (and let me see that I really should whip up a sweater with some of that B&L wool or Peace Fleece!). It also showed me that I have a lot of pink wool, which is a little weird, really. Anyway, for me, these drawers hold all the yarn I really need, and if I want to bring in some new stuff, I'll need to make room for it first, either by giving some away or knitting it up. (Except for sock yarn -- there's still a bit of space in those drawers. ;)

I hope you're having a lovely weekend. I'll probably finish those zinnia socks tomorrow or Monday, so come back soon to see my feet!

* Product-placement disclaimer: Obviously, it's way better when we build our own things or buy things second-hand!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sock(s) progress

With a view to spring (it has officially begun, after all), I'm making these socks short. Not ankle socks, but only about four inches before starting the plain stockinette heel flap. I looked here to figure out how to pick up the gusset stitches of both socks, and now I'm on my way to Toesville!

You can't really tell from this photo, but the yellow from one ball is noticeably brighter than the other. Weird, since the dye lot is (supposedly) the same. Anyway, new and very cute socks this weekend, perhaps. Woot!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Note to Self:

Finish writing thesis, graduate, and then contemplate taking up quilting.

(Maybe I shouldn't have picked up the gorgeous Denyse Schmidt book on my way home today...)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Do cats have nightmares?

Seriously, I'm wondering, because the craziest thing happened this morning. At about seven o'clock, more than half an hour before the alarm was set to go off, I woke up suddenly because Bill yelled. I looked up and Mooky, the fifteenish-pound cat, was hanging, perfectly still, from the bedroom curtain. Just hanging there by his claws, which had pierced the fabric. It took me a second to react to the fact that Mooky was hanging from the curtain, and that he was about five feet off the ground. I jumped out of bed and grabbed Mooky, mostly worried about the curtain crashing to the ground with my cat attached to it. (It's one of those heavy cotton Ikea curtains with tabs at the top, and it's just hanging from one of those cheapo adjustable metal rods.)

Anyway, everybody's OK, and Bill doesn't remember any of it, so neither of us knows why he was yelling in the first place. But as I'm thinking about it, I realize that the only way Mooky could have been so high up the curtain was to jump onto it from the bed -- and what on earth possessed him to hurtle himself from the bed towards the window, and to grab and hang on to the curtain?! Here, I'll show you the punctures in the curtain, to help you visualize the whole situation:

Granted, this may not be as dramatic to you as it is to me. The things to note here are (1) the holes are further apart than Mooky's claws, which means his paws were fully extended for battle as he hit the curtain, and (2) there are only these two sets of claw holes on the whole curtain -- it's like two footprints in the middle of a backyard of virgin snow. In other words, he didn't climb up the curtain, people. He landed squarely in the middle of it.

It's not just me, right? Is this one of the craziest things you've ever heard? I think it's hilarious (since Bill bent the curtain rod back to its original position, and Mooky seems to have forgotten about the whole thing). And seriously, all I can think of is that he had some kind of bad dream where he was being chased or something. But whatever -- he's totally over it and is back on the bed:

(The painting shown behind the Mook was done by Barbara Tucker.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday: Socks.

Two pairs of socks for you today -- one pair just finished, and the other pair just started. First, the socks I knit for Jean (the kind soul responsible for the shetland yarn tower two posts ago). The colourway of this yarn will henceforth be known as "Joan Jett":

Look familiar, Carolyn? To continue the spirit of reusing and recycling, I knit Jean's socks from yarn that Carolyn sent me more than a year ago: Froehlich Wolle Blauband Maxi Ringel. I really hope they fit. It's nerve-wracking knitting socks for someone else, isn't it? (If you want to see these socks laid out -- and how they match exactly -- you can check out "Jean's purple socks" in the knitting gallery.)

Next, socks I started yesterday. I've been so busy and so stressed out that Madli's shawl has just not appealed. I wanted simple sock knitting, but I also wanted to try something new. Enter the technique of 2 socks on 2 circs: I consulted this page to see how to get started, and off I went:

I do love the idea that when I'm done, I'll have a pair of socks all at once. This technique is definitely not as contained and portable as my usual 1 sock on 1 circ method, as there are needles and yarn strands hanging all over the place. But it didn't take long to get the hang of it, and it's not difficult to do. I'm using Knit Picks merino (colour: zinnia) that the Divine Ms. Em sent for my last birthday. I'm quite pleased at the lack of colour pooling, though I'm planning a heel flap 'n' gusset rather than a short-row heel, so there will likely be Instep Blotch when the time comes.

Anyway, I'm knitting today. No (or very little) schoolwork. I really, really need a wee break. So right now I'm listening to DNTO, enjoying the sunshine and blue sky outside, and getting ready to pick up those zinnia socks again. Ahhhh. I hope you enjoy your weekend, too.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Globe and Mail, September 3, 1945

I'm at the library, looking for articles about immediate-postwar food shortages and rationing in the Globe. I love that the paper is archived digitally, each page a PDF file -- my search is finding all stories that include the word "meat," but I also get to see the whole page that each of those stories is on. This allows for the discovery of gems like the article above. In case you can't read it, here's what happened to Mrs. T. F. Rahilly, while vacationing at Point des Chenes, Ontario, in early September 1945:

     Wife of the general manager of the Toronto Iron Works, she was sitting by a living-room fire knitting with a young companion, Dorothy Bonspiel, when she heard bears sniffing at the door. She handed Dorothy a flashlight, took the rifle and went outside. Dorothy aimed the flashlight, Mrs. Rahilly aimed the rifle and plugged a 300-pound bear. She repeated on two more, these smaller.
     She plans to use the skins as cottage trophies.
The reporter was obviously not a knitter. Hello, did Mrs. Rahilly drop any stitches?

(If I ever write under a pseudonym, it's totally going to be "Dorothy Bonspiel." How excellent is that name? Or maybe I'll write a Nancy Drew-type story in which Dorothy Bonspiel, the clever heroine, is a crime fighter and a champion curler.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ask, and ye may indeed receive

Whew! I handed in two (draft) thesis chapters yesterday, so I can, at least temporarily, tend to other parts of my life again. So, hi! My toe is not broken, and in fact the bruise is almost gone, thanks to the merino therapy. The snow has mostly all melted here, and it was about 8 degrees today. Um... OK, I think we're all caught up.

Do you remember the bright salmon/tandoori-coloured sweater I thrifted before Xmas? Remember I wrote a ha-ha classified ad, knowing full well I'd probably never get around to recycling that nice shetland wool? Here's that post, if you'd like to refresh your memory. Here's what the sweater looked like:

And here's what that sweater looks like now:

Yes, somebody answered my fake ad! Aren't people wonderful? An especially wonderful person in California -- a person with a recycling ethic, a sense of adventure, and a ball winder -- offered to do the job. I sent her the sweater about a month ago, and today these balls of wool arrived in the mail. It's like magic. Of course, we negotiated the terms, as I obviously couldn't supply a Californian with cups of coffee; I can, however, knit her a pair of socks! (I'll show you those when I finish.) Let's look at that gorgeous shetland wool again, shall we?

(Fisher Price dog included for scale.)

Thank you, Jean, for doing this. You're a thrifty knitblogger's dream.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Happiness is a warm skein

I stubbed my toe yesterday. I find that rubbing it gently with a new skein of merino sock yarn (which I picked up on a day-trip to Detroit on Wednesday) is quite soothing.

(Think feet are gross? Then just look at the yarn.)

Gotta get back to work -- only four hours to the Oscars, a.k.a. the chance to watch Jon Stewart for a few hours!

Saturday, March 04, 2006


OK, here are the basics: In March 1946, a torso was found just outside of Hamilton, Ontario, and identified as that of 40-year-old streetcar driver John Dick. Police informed his 25-year-old widow, Evelyn, of this, and she replied, "Don't look at me -- I don't know anything about it." Needless to say, they took her down to the station. While police were investigating this so-called torso murder, they came across a suitcase in Evelyn's attic; inside the suitcase was a baby's corpse encased in cement. (The baby wasn't John's; Evelyn hadn't yet met John when this baby was born.) Evelyn was charged with both murders, and so was her married boyfriend (repeatedly referred to in the press as "the husky oarsman"). (He was eventually acquitted of all charges.) At the preliminary hearing she set the number of lovers she'd had at 150, including several prominent local lawyers, businessmen, bankers, and so on. Evelyn was tried alone in October 1946 for the torso murder, convicted, and sentenced to hang. Then she got a new lawyer, who won an appeal and a retrial for her. Over the winter Evelyn put on 20 pounds, which was the subject of much comment in the press. At her second trial for the torso murder, in March 1947, she was acquitted. (Incriminating statements that had been evidence in the first trial were inadmissible in the second.) This was followed by her two-day baby-murder trial, at which she was convicted of manslaughter. A psychiatrist testified that Evelyn's "mental age" was 13. Evelyn was given the maximum sentence of life in prison, of which she served 11 years at the Kingston Prison for Women before being granted a ticket-of-leave in 1958. She was given a new name, and she effectively vanished. As of 1985 she no longer had to report even to the parole board. She may be dead now, or she may be an 85-year-old woman somewhere in Canada.

Responses to specific comments:

1. Kat:
The women were hiding in the bathroom because they didn't want to lose their seats in the courtroom when the session reconvened after lunch. Hundreds of people lined up outside the courthouse every day hoping to get in to watch the trial, and getting a seat was very competitive. The building was supposed to be cleared out during the lunch break, but these 35 women who were admitted that morning didn't want to risk being turned away after lunch.

2. Insubordiknit: First, no, I don't know if she did it. (And whether or not she did doesn't really matter to my work.) Second, I actually don't know what happened to the gifts! She received flowers and jewellery, mostly. I wonder if she was allowed to keep the jewellery for when she got out of prison...

3. Lori: Yes, it was a very sensational case, especially coming so soon after the end of WWII when people were probably especially receptive to such a distracting and juicy story of sex and violence.

4. Janine: I hadn't even thought of the connection between this case of dismemberment and the title of the book I'm reading (for fun) right now! Maybe a subconscious thing?

5. Em: I imagine coming up with a title will be the very last thing I do. (Got any suggestions?) But of course I'll follow the fail-safe formula of Something Clever: What It's Really About.

6. Susan: I forgot to include the following gem: "Hamilton Women Boo Short, Fat Evelyn Dick." (Ouch.)

7. Sylvia: I have about eight research questions, actually. Basically I'm looking at the ways this story was told in the newspapers of the time and then in subsequent retellings (e.g., books, films, a play, a novel), how the case is constructed as a narrative, what cultural preoccupations are evident, which elements are considered important in that postwar period versus later years. In terms of the press coverage alone, I'm arguing that the narrative adheres to (feminine) generic codes of melodrama and soap opera, despite the facts that the actual events seem instead to resemble (masculine) film noir or detective fiction.

8. Karen: Yes, and the play "How Could You, Mrs. Dick?" is opening in Hamilton on the anniversary of the discovery of the torso! I'm so excited to see it.

9. Gina: John Dick was a Russian immigrant -- "the Russian" from the headline.

10. Anne and Marielle (re: an 11-year-old sense of humour): You will appreciate the mileage I've gotten out of the joke that I only chose this topic to make a name for myself as a Dick expert... (nyuk nyuk nyuk)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

You have to start somewhere

Someday, and I don't really know when, I am going to knit a Sunrise Circle Jacket. (That's the link to the big PDF pattern.) And when I do, I'll already have the toggles, because I bought them yesterday.

(I'll return soon with details of the Evelyn Dick case for curious readers. I didn't realize my last post was a cliffhanger! Stay tuned.)