Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Alpacas, a stump, sock progress, and more

I went for a walk the other evening, mostly so I could visit the alpacas that live down the road from my parents. I stopped at the fence to look at them, and they all started walking toward me! (It was like a zombie movie, but with fleece-bearing animals.) Here they come:

They were funny. They're all different colours and different sizes. One was extra friendly and came right up to the fence to say hello, so I gave it a little grass in exchange for a photo:

As I was walking back, I was struck by this cherry-tree stump -- doesn't this look remarkably like a statue of a woman's torso?

And the next picture was taken at the spot where I used to wait for the school bus. It shows you all of the elements of the local landscape: semi-desert dryness in the foreground; orchard in the middle; and the lake and mountains in the background.

As I mentioned in the last post, I've had a ton of knitting time. I've already gone through a 50g ball of sock yarn on my first Clessidra Stocking, and here's what that looks like:

So far, so good. A few people commented about the splittiness of Sisu, and it's true -- I probably wouldn't use it again for cables. But other than that, I like it; in fact, I bought enough for two more pairs of socks. (Five dollars a ball, and it comes in great colours.) Trying on the Clessidra-in-progress feels like I'm wearing a sleeve on my leg. It sure is pretty, though.

One more picture, of something I noticed when I was in town a few days ago -- it's on the side of a school, ha ha:

Oh, those crazy kids.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My kind of shopping

I hate to shop, but I love to thrift. It's not so much the purchasing that thrills me as the process of picking through a collection of entirely unique items. Everything that you look at in a thrift shop is the only one of its kind in the store.

The local thrift shop in my hometown is the best thrift shop ever -- I'm not even going to tell you exactly where it is, for fear that you'll go there and get all the best stuff before I can. I went twice last week and did pretty well. Over two days I spent a grand total of $5.65, and I bought four books, a magazine, two knitting-pattern booklets, a brooch, a crocheted doily, some fabric, and a set of hankies. I also went to a thrift in the next town, where I bought another piece of fabric and some buttons (from the big bowl above).

I've also been shopping at my favourite bookstore in the whole world, which is a secondhand bookstore in a town called Penticton. I bought a pile of books, and I took some photos, which I've posted in a Flickr set.

Other than all this shopping, I've been knitting like a fiend -- I started a pair of Clessidra Stockings, in green Sisu yarn. I knit all afternoon yesterday (a dream come true!). So I'll show you that progress soon, as well as something very exciting that is located down the road from my parents' house.... Stay tuned, mystery lovers!

Friday, May 25, 2007


Pattern: Monkey
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino 2/6
Needle: 2.25mm circular

I like my new Monkey socks; it's a good pattern for yarn that is variegated but not too crazy. I also like that they match my latest sewing mini-project, which is a skirt hem. I thrifted a black linen skirt a year or so ago and have been meaning to hem it for ages. I finally got around to it, using some wide turquoise bias tape (also thrifted). I should have been more careful, as the tape doesn't lie flat, but it still looks cute. And with my Monkey socks and old shoes, I have a sweet new outfit -- look, I'll model on the picnic table on my parents' patio:

Nice view, isn't it? That's Okanagan Lake in the background, and that's the view I grew up with. I'm having a nice, relaxing time here, visiting family, seeing friends I haven't seen in years (and in several cases, meeting their children for the first time). It's been warm and sunny. I definitely feel like I'm on holiday. Still disappointed about my change in plans -- thanks for your commiseration, and no, I couldn't get a passport in time, and I've already changed my tickets, so I'll be flying back straight from Vancouver -- but I'm having a good time. The days are longer here, you see. Time doesn't seem to move very quickly, so the days are long and pretty quiet. I plan to have a very nice weekend, involving garage saling, more visiting, and lots of eating. I hope you have a good one too.

I'll leave you with the standard flat-sock shot -- behold the power of a good wet block!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I'm at the local library, with 16 minutes of Internet time remaining, so I'll be brief. Change of travel plans: my passport expired in February, but I only noticed this fact the other day, so I can't go to San Francisco after all. I'm not allowed to fly into the States, and that's that. Not so brainy, I know. I'm totally disappointed.

Other than that, all is well. I've been thrifting and yarn shopping and taking some pictures, and I finished my Monkey socks, so I'll be back soon with all kinds of visual goodies. Ciao for now!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Time to pack

As I get ready for my West Coast holiday, I'm checking airline info to find out whether or not I'm allowed to bring certain things in my carry-on luggage. This is obviously an important step when travelling, as it clears up a lot of ambiguity.

For instance, I have learned that I am not permitted to board the plane with tear gas, brass knuckles, throwing stars, a crossbow, bows and arrows, dynamite, a billiards cue, molotov cocktails, a hatchet, a meat cleaver, insecticides, a fire extinguisher, a paintball gun, bombs, knives, ice picks, sabers, swords, spear guns, cattle prods, hand grenades, spray paint, gel shoe inserts, or a snow globe.

Lest you think that I won't be able to have any fun at all during my flight, I can assure you that there is some good news. It turns out that I can fill my carry-on with pudding, cheese in pressurized containers, screwdrivers, unrealistic replicas of weapons, gel-filled bras, whips, laser pointers, underwater torches, hypodermic needles, dry ice, and ... oh, yes ... knitting needles.

See you soon!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Introducing Kate

Kate is wearing a springtime outfit inspired by classic boys' wear. Her striped sweater is made of 100% wool leftovers, making it an environmentally friendly garment: Patons Classic Merino in a medium peacock blue, Moda Dea Washable Wool in a sassy kiwifruit green, and Cascade Quattro in a cheery blend of orange and pink, set off with a neckline and sleeve cuffs in red organic O-Wool.

Kate's stylish and versatile navy slacks are knit from Cascade 220, and she wears sensible brown shoes in Moda Dea Washable Wool.

"I can go outside," says Kate, "because I'm wearing shoes."

Kate herself is a natural -- "natural mix" in Patons Classic Merino, that is. Her brown eyes, red nose, and slightly asymmetrical mouth (oops) are all stitched in wool.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

7 facts

Dr. Steph tagged me for this meme. Then I was tagged by letah75, but her version involves eight things -- I can hardly think of seven, so I'm going with Steph's rules. Fortunately, these things just need to be true, not profound or fascinating.

Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog. The facts:

1. I'm currently knitting Kate. I don't really know why -- it's more of a "why not?" project. It's fun. Basically, you knit a gourd and some glove fingers. The smallest bag of fiberfill I could find was giant (one pound, which is a lot considering polyester fluff doesn't really weigh anything), so there may be more stuffed toys in my crafting future. I've got my eye on the Pointy Kitty over at Wee Wonderfuls.

2. So far so good with my corduroy dress. I love piping! I want to put piping on everything! Last night I had successfully attached the first sleeve (a sweet little cap sleeve -- with piping!) when the power went out. For two hours. So that was the end of last night's sewing. I was hoping to get the sewing finished last night, or at least everything but the zipper; maybe I can do it tonight. I want to finish this dress, and then I want to make another one in plaid, and another one in polka dots, and another one in a solid colour, and...

3. I'm giving a paper at a conference this Saturday. I'm very excited, since the conference is all about crime and media, which is right up my alley. I'll be talking about press coverage around the production and release of Karla in Canada.

4. On Monday, I'm getting on a plane and flying across the country! For the next two-and-a-half weeks, I'll be on (or near) the west coast. First, just over a week in the Okanagan with my parents; then a few days visiting friends in Vancouver; and then a few days seeing some friends and family in San Francisco. I can't wait. I haven't been out to B.C. since Christmas 2005, and my last trip to San Francisco was in ... 1999?

5. I'm at the heel flap of my second Monkey sock. (I'm getting desperate here. Seven facts about me? Clearly that's three too many -- some may even say it's seven too many.)

6. Thanks to a recent link from Jo S., I now must have this T-shirt. While we're at it, let's have a look at some recent wanty bookmarks: Fluevog boots, which I can pick up while in Vancouver if I find myself with an extra $300; a few skeins of merino from Oceanwind Knits -- maybe in sweetgrass and poppy; Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje; fabric, fabric, and more fabric; and my copy of the current issue of Interweave Knits (hello, post office?).

7. I have to get back to work now! I'm not going to tag anyone in particular for this; it's a meme, not a chain letter. Feel free to share facts about yourself if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Remember my big crocheted blanket? I'd almost finished it, but then it got too warm to have a giant pile of wool on my lap. Well, I'm thinking it will be a good choice for tonight's TV-watching crafty time!

I joined Flickr recently because of Ravelry, and I've put up some more photos from the weekend. To see a little more of Old Quebec, click here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quebec City

I'm back! Quebec City was fantastic -- if you've never been, you should plan a trip. We had a great time, and I'm glad it's only three hours away, because I want to go back. Aside from the fact that we were only there for 24 hours, it's still the low season, so certain things are not open on Mondays (e.g., afternoon tea at Le Champlain, the Musée de la Civilisation). But there are plenty of buildings, statues, monuments, cannons, cobblestone streets, and views of the river, and then there's the Château Frontenac. It's actually more impressive than it looks in photographs, I think, and you can see it from almost everywhere. It's gigantic! The photo above was taken from about halfway down Côte de la Montagne; below is a view from the lower town -- I think I was on Rue du Cul-de-Sac.

We arrived early Sunday afternoon, checked into our auberge on Rue Ste-Anne, and then attempted to follow a walking tour I'd found online, but the directions were totally confusing, so we just wandered up and down the narrow streets. Unfortunately, many of the plaques explaining the history of a given seminary/monastery/residence/etc. are in French only, so we missed out on lots of the details of what we were looking at. We went into the Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame de Québec, which was as spectacular inside as many of the Buddhist temples we visited in Thailand (with tons of gold leaf, etc.). We rode the funiculaire down to the lower town, to see the Quartier Petit-Champlain, the Batterie Royale, and Place-Royale.

Place-Royale is where it all began, they say: the site was always a site of trade among First Nations, and after the arrival of Champlain in the 17th century, this square (then known as Market Square) was the centre of trade in New France. It is also the site of possibly the oldest existing church in North America, called Notre-Dame des Victoires. (I was going to show you a better shot of the church -- like, one where the steeple isn't cut off -- but the photo above shows the square a little better, including the bust of Louis XIV.) We went into the church, where an enthusiastic tour guide covered 1,500 years worth of history in less than 10 minutes. The altar was lovely.

On Monday, we continued wandering. Once we found that the Musée de la Civilisation was closed, we decided to head out of the walled city and visit the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham. Is it ironic that we couldn't for the life of us figure out how to actually get into the Citadel? We approached it from a few different angles, and we honestly couldn't figure it out. (I'd like to point out that we weren't the only ones. Lots of people were wandering around with maps, scratching their heads.) By then we were hungry, so we decided we'd do the Citadel next time, and we headed to Chez Victor for lunch. Oh my. Not only were there four different kinds of veggie burger to choose from (as well as meat, of course), but this was one of the best burger-and-fries meals I've ever had. (How I love fries with mayo!)

We headed home after lunch, taking the 40 along the north side of the river -- we took the 20 on the way up, but the 40 was a little more scenic. We'll probably go back sometime this summer. You know, for the burgers. Now I'm going to put I Confess on my DVD-rental list, so I can see how Hitchcock saw the city in 1953.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Returning to well-rounded life

I went with some friends last night to the opening of La Biennale de Montréal, first at the École Bourget and then at the Parisian Laundry. (I especially liked the installation by Graeme Patterson at the Parisian Laundry.) I felt like I was reintroducing yet one more neglected element back into my life -- like sewing, reading for fun, and spending time out in the city, looking at art is something I used to do but dropped while doing coursework.

That's been the theme of this week, actually. For example, I went to my knitting group on Wednesday, for the first time since ... January? I had lots of fun, sitting outside, getting plenty of compliments on my Monkey-in-progress, and catching up with lots of the local knitters I've missed in the last few months.

I also went to a fabric store the other day and bought everything I'll need to make a new dress. I already had the fabric -- 3 yards of cherry-print Cool Cords -- which I'd bought thinking I'd make the dress version of Simplicity 3835 (the same pattern I used for the top in my last post), but having made the top I decided to look for a new dress pattern. I finally chose Simplicity 4116 -- I'm thinking I'll make view B, but without the tie at the neck. It looks very classic to me, with the little retro touch of the Peter Pan collar, and I think it will be flattering (depending on my sewing skills, of course). I also bought some cotton jersey in a light olive colour for another BBW top, because I do like it, but I think it would work better in a fabric with a little stretch.

Something else that is part of "normal" life for me is road trips, and Bill and I will be heading up to Quebec City on Sunday. I've been there two or three times before, but the last time was 14 or 15 years ago (!). So we're going to drive up there (it's about three hours away) and just hang out and walk around. I'm really looking forward to it. So I'll be back on Monday or Tuesday with some pretty pictures. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Built by Brainy


I made this top yesterday. It felt absolutely luxurious, spending the day sewing! I used a Built By Wendy pattern (Simplicity 3835) and an old vin-tahge sheet from V. Village. It was fun and easy to sew, which is exactly what I was looking for since I haven't sewn much in a while.

I don't know if it's the fabric or the elastic, but I'm a little afraid that if I actually wear this shirt I'll end up being the answer to a question I never want to hear, like: "Who's that girl in the peasant blouse?"

I have no such reservations about yesterday's second sewing project, though. I'm very sweet on my new headband.

I used Heather Bailey's free pattern -- PDF: Hooray for Headbands -- and some thrifted fabric. I really love it, and I'd like to make another one with a large-print fabric.

Somehow, this headband is really comfortable, and it doesn't threaten to pop off my head. There's a little strip of elastic at the back, under the ties. I'm going to get a haircut later this week, so I can't be sure I'll still have headband-hair, but if I do, I'm definitely making more of these. It's a great way to wear a little bit of a nice print, and the pattern is simple and straightforward. It's not easy to photograph your own head, though -- I tried a few times before enlisting Bill's help. I do really like one of the shots I took; it doesn't really show off the headband, but it shows you that I was outside with my little buddy:

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Do you love the Monkey or do you love me?*

Time to start something new, whether to mark the beginning of my summer or because of time spent recently at Ravelry. (If you haven't heard of Ravelry yet, frecklegirl Jess explains the site here.) Last night at 10 p.m., I chose a skein of Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 -- from my four-skein stash of precious sock yarns -- that I bought about two years ago at The Needle Emporium (before F.A. had actual colourways). I then enlisted Bill's help in winding the skein into a ball, since he's so talented that he is able to hold a skein and watch a hockey game. (Go, Sens, go!)

Then, to choose a pattern. I wanted something textured, and interesting, but not cabled or holey. I picked Tropicana and cast on, but my fingers were aching after only one round of increases (of a total 66 sts., I'd have to knit into the front and back of 36 sts. every 4 rounds!!), and that just didn't bode well. Too bad -- I think it's a great-looking sock.

Next, I felt the pull of the wonderful world of Cookie A., and settled on Monkey. I cast on and knit the twisted ribbing and three pattern repeats.

There are many, many versions of these socks online, and I always liked them but never loved them -- until seeing them blocked by Gleek. Yep, blocking is magic. This stitch pattern just looks weird and puffy when left alone; it needs to be stretched out, and then it's awesome. (Vanessa pointed this out, too -- check out the difference.)

* You don't have to choose. It's just a George Michael song.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Touristy T-shirt shop on rue St-Paul, Old Montreal.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Reading material

Thanks so much for all of your lovely comments. I'm very excited at the prospect of finally getting to focus on my own work -- even though I'm not sure exactly what that will be. So, yeah, it's not like I get to sit back and rest for the summer -- next step: comprehensive exams -- but I'll have a little more control over the pace and content of things. And I definitely have plans to spend more time doing fun things like knitting, sewing, and reading things I don't have to read. And look -- part of my celebratory thrift shopping the other day included book gathering!

(Now that I look at this stack of books, I wonder how many other people would be looking forward to doing some recreational reading on murder, Degrassi, murder, and knitting. Anyone else? or just me?) From top to bottom: Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, from Value Village; Growing Up Degrassi from the library; The Last Dance: Murder in Canada and Feminism and the Politics of Difference from a used bookstore (J. Westcott Books, at the recommendation of The Daily Protagitron); Under the Bridge: The True Story of the Murder of Reena Virk from that corner of the Faubourg that sells discounted new books; and The Friday Night Knitting Club, sent by the publisher to be "reviewed."

Below the books is evidence of mid-paper-writing shopping: brand-new fabric destined for kitchen curtains and a new dress. And to the left, celebration Twizzlers -- which clearly resemble last week's package of paper-writing Twizzlers, and are equally necessary.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Why so blue?

Believe me, I'm not the least bit blue. In fact, I'm thrilled -- I'm officially done my Ph.D. coursework! Papers have been written and submitted, and there will be no more courses for me. To celebrate, I went shopping, and I happened to bring home a bagfull of thrift-store blues:

A nice little Pyrex dish with a blue rooster on each end, two pretty pillowcases with blue roses, and seven-and-a-half 50g balls of 100% DK-weight wool -- for a grand total of $8. I was happy to find one ball band in with the wool, which identifies this stuff as "Lambs Wool de Georges Picaud," made in France. The label also says "Decatie a maille douce," which I don't understand. (Anyone? Anyone?) It's really worth clicking on the photo above to see the little cut-out lamb heads on the label. There's no info on yardage or gauge, but I think this wool has a future as a Blustery vest -- and look how nice it looks all wound into balls:

Huge score!