Monday, February 26, 2007

A plethora of finished objects

Finally, I have been able to gather in one place the camera, fully-charged batteries, and the finished items which I've accomplished in the last little bit.

Firstly, I offer the Accursed Sweater. Knitted from a pattern in Paton's Around the Seasons (#548), I used Smart Superwash (11 balls) for the main colour and Zara for the contrasting colours. The superwash was a mite thinner than the Paton's Super Wool called for, so I had to go up two sizes in needles. The sleeves are just barely long enough and I'm contemplating picking up stitches from the bottom cuff and adding more length there. Maybe. Maybe not. Here is a close-up of the yoke. The colours here are far closer to reality as there was no flash used with this photo.
Doug has worn it both during and post-skiing and pronounces it delightful.

Secondly, I offer the February socks. These were knit two at a time on a very long Addi Turbo, while recovering from the appendectomy. Waiting for the morphine and codeine to clear the brain tissues. Slightly muzzy-headed. And I only screwed up once and knit onto the second sock with wool from the first. Quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself.
The socks were made with Regia 4-fadig Strato Color no. 5738. There is sufficient left that I can make cuffs, heels and toes on another pair of socks. Nice.

Finally, I completed the mat and mitts I was designing for my knitting class in Uxbridge. Cables galore. I am particularly proud of the decreases at the top of the hat. I managed to complete them while keeping the ribs and cables pretty much intact.
The pattern is available, if desired, by sending me an e-mail. I'll be happy to share.

That's all--for today. I have one more hat for the class, but I'm not quite ready for show and tell. Hopefully this week ...

Monday, February 19, 2007

We're having fun now!

I've survived the week in pajamas, a miracle in and of itself. An entire week, wearing pajamas. And I didn't go crazy!

What I did do was figure out how to knit two socks at the same time, on the same needle via magic loop. My intention when learning this technique was to use two different colours of wool to reduce the tendency to knit across both socks with the wool from sock number one. I didn't do that. (This might have something to do with being too easy, and wanting to give my brain cells an opportunity to function. Or perhaps an attempt to distract myself from the scratchies and itchies that the stitches in my belly wrought.)

All went well, until I got just to the toe shaping. I did the ribbing. I did the calves. I turned the heels. All with no problem. I knit the gussetts, picking up the necessary stitches, and then decreasing. All with no problem.

Then there was the one lapse, at the last row of knitting before beginning the toe stitches. Fortunately, there was no one around with a camera to capture the moment. I felt pretty silly as I sat there and looked. And looked. And looked. How could the wool be here, and here? When I realized what had happened, it was as if the sun rose in my living room. A sudden brightness ...

I tinked back the necessary stitches to repair my mis-step. And then I couldn't resist! Here you see me modelling the two-socks-on-one-circular socks in progress!
They are complete today, but alas, pictureless. Soon, there will be a photo of the completed socks.

In other news, I visited my surgeon today. The stitches have been removed, and I have permission to rub vitamin E on the scars. (Obviously this lady does not know the value placed upon scars by my family!) She encourages me to remain in my pajamas for the upcoming week, although she does say that I can now chase dust-bunnies using the dust-mop, and possibly load the dishwasher. And change the sheets on my bed. Under no circumstances am I to use the vacuum cleaner on carpets.

I was able to visit my store this afternoon. I miss it. I checked the inventory in the store and closets, and compiled an order. I fondled wool. I put together the purchases for my knitting students for class next Monday. I putzed. I watched my dear husband work diligently at his efforts to renovate the bathroom. (It looks amazing! Smooth walls, clean primer, absence of the clunky and nasty baseboard heater. He does good work!) I may try some afternoons this week, and for sure I'll be there on Saturday. Possibly not the whole day, but we'll see.

And then I came home and napped.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pajama Party -- Day 4

Last Friday morning I awoke at 3 am with a stomach-ache. I was able to sleep some more, finally, but when I awoke for good at 7:30, the ache was still there. Nothing serious, mind you, but still there. I had breakfast and trooped into my wonderful wool shop. All morning long, my stomach ached. I finally stopped trying to pretend that the coffee tasted good and dumped it by 10:00.

At noon, my tuna-fish sandwich didn't sound remotely good, but chicken noodle soup did. I called home to request my wonderful husband bring me some, but he didn't answer the phone. When he called me back (note that I did not say "finally") at 2:30, even chicken noodle soup didn't sound good. In fact, a trip to the doctor sounded good.

He was not able to reach the doctor's office. Who knew that they would stop answering the phones so early on a Friday afternoon? (Note to self: Must check into this.) Doug dutifully called the after-hours clinic to which our doctor belongs, only to discover that not only was the clinic not answering phones (it was before 5:00 pm), it wasn't open on Friday.

Doug called me back to report his findings. I didn't care. I needed to see a doctor. My stomach really hurt. Folks who know me will realize that I don't get to this point often. Usually I am the equivalent of a dead body before I consent to visit the doctor for an illness. I don't run fevers, and I had been having chills and chattering teeth all day.

Doug raced in and met me at the shop. The next question became which hospital emergency room to visit--the dreaded Port Perry (that's a very long story which I'll save for later), the much-reviled Oshawa General (which is likewise a long story), or traipse into one of the Toronto hospitals at which my doctor has privileges. Besides not wanting to ponder such decisions (and also because I had self-diagnosed appendix issues), I told him to just get me to the nearest hospital.

Port Perry saw me at 4:10. By 4:30 the surgeon had called in the team and a time of 5:30 was decreed. She decided that an ultrasound would be torturous beyond belief and a CT scan a waste of time, especially since it was a Friday evening and my condition was worsening. She could tell best by a quick peek into said offending belly ... and went at it.

I was correct in that my appendix had decided it was time to leave this body. Fortunately, there was no rupture and recovery has been uneventful. I have spared you all the delight of reviewing the incisions and bruising--but if you are a family member, just let me know and I'll send you photos. (For the uninitiated, we are a strange bunch and regularly have discussions over who has the biggest owie {that would be the Daughter, since she has visibly missing body parts}, who has the most impressive scars {Mom was the leader here, but in her absence it is the Eldest out in Missouri currently} and the like. Apparently, it is a badge of honor to have multiple broken bones at the same time {Andy and Jason}. As I said, we are a strange bunch.)

Kudos to Dr. Karolyn Dobbin and the nursing staff at Port Perry Hospital. They were awesome!

During my recovery, I finished the Sea Silk scarf. Viola!This iteration of the scarf is 71 stitches wide--a 3-stitch garter border, 65 stitches of Fishtail Lace and another 3-stitch garter border. It is approximately 4 feet long, so will be just right for the keeping the evening chill off my delicate shoulders this summer. I must admit that I absolutely LOVE how the colours make those gorgeous diamonds along the length of the scarf. Seen here, the scarf is not yet blocked as I am not really able to crawl around on the floor much yet. Even in its unblocked state, however, the finished project is fabulous. This yarn is truly a delight with which to knit and a joy to watch as the stitches flow past. I highly recommend everyone try even one project with this yarn, even though it is expensive. After all, everyone is worth one very expensive project.

Having completed the scarf, it was time for another project. An amazing discovery ensued--hold on to your hats, folks, because this is momentous!

I have grown bored with plain-jane socks using self-patterning yarn.

Yes, you did read that correctly. I have grown bored just going round and round and watching the yarn do all the work. Since I am prohibited from lifting (and that includes darn near any and all weight) and all my yarn is stored in stacking tubs, I was relegated to using these poor, lonely balls of sock yarn which have been sitting, abandoned, on top of the stack. But how to make them more interesting? I had been planning on the Jaywalker socks, but am tired of trying to make the diagonals work (there's a store project sitting in the bottom of a workbasket because I'm frustrated with it!), and besides I'd heard that the socks don't fit all that nicely.

In my drug-induced haze, it made perfect sense that I should attempt to figure out the 2-Socks-1-Circular technique. I'd tried it before, and given up. So with less than full capacity in the mental area, this should be a real challenge.
It was and is. It does, however, make the plain-Jane sock pattern far more interesting.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What a day! (Or why I need my shopping gene examined!)

Monday is the one business day a week that my shop is not open. This day is reserved for doing important stuff--like getting the daughter's passport renewed because she is going to France in April. Monday was P-Day (otherwise known as passport day). Aside from being beastly cold, the day dawned just fine.

We got up super early and headed down to Oshawa to catch the GO train. No problem, except that all the commuters had arrived prior to us. Which meant that we had to park way the heck out in the boonies and walk up to the station. Did I mention that the train arrived just as we did? And how cold it was? The wind had nothing to block it as it blew across the parking lot. We were pleased to have a reason to walk quickly.

I am not too bashful to admit that I enjoy taking the GO train. It means that I am on my way to an Adventure in the Big City. Monday was no different. Once on board the train, we began filling out the passport application. She already had a passport, so it should be a breeze, right? Wrong. The silly application requires her Social Security Number (the American equivalent to a Canadian SIN). No problem. We'll call home when we get to Union Station. We sit back and pull out our knitting.

Upon arrival at Union Station, we stop at the first pay phone (thank goodness THEY still exist!) and make the collect call home. Daughter had a call-home card ... does she have it with her? Nope. So collect it is. Explain to the husband what I need and where to find it. Several tax returns later, we find a year wherein I claimed the daughter, complete with SSN. Whew.

Now to find a pay-locker so that we can leave our knitting and purses. Why? Because the U.S. Consulate website claims that you cannot take any bags of any type into the Consulate with you. Did you know that there are no lockers at Union Station any more? Deemed a safety risk, they were removed in the post 9/11 security craze. OK, fine. There must be some in the PATH, right? Nope.

Daughter and I trudge onwards, heading always north and parallel with University Ave, looking fruitlessly for a pay-locker. Finally, we run out of walkway. Arriving at street level, I confirm with a friendly security guard that we are, indeed, just one block away from University Avenue and that the Consulate is still north of our location. Does she know of anywhere we could leave our bags? Nope. But then I had a brilliant thought--could she watch them for us? She thought about it for a minute, and then said sure. I handed her my purse, claiming there was nothing of value therein because I had to take my wallet with me. The REAL valuables were the knitting projects in the second bag.

Away we went in search of the Consulate. I did mention that it was cold, right? Two blocks directly into the wind to University Avenue, two blocks north to the Consulate. No problem, except that it was "blowing like stink" to quote my husband. Brr.

We U.S. citizens have an awful lot for which to thank George Bush. The Consulate has had concrete posts in the sidewalk to prevent cars being driven into it for a long time. And the bullet-proof glass has likewise been present for a long time. But the requirement for U.S. citizens to enter the building at the rear? To stand in line with visa applicants, a safe 15 feet from the rear door and guard area, while everyone is questioned closely before being allowed into the building? The demand that you enter with only your wallet and documents in hand? The demeaning treatment rendered by the security guards, attempting to safeguard the safety of the building's employees?

Did you know that a jeweler's screwdriver is a lethal weapon? I didn't either. I carry it on my keychain because my glasses frequently fall apart. The jeweler's screwdriver is small enough that it will work with the teeny, tiny, microscopic screws used to hold eyeglasses together. The security guard insisted it was a lethal weapon and not allowed. To make things more difficult, he was not very fluent in English, and could not understand that I was asking him to discard the offending weapon. Daughter, meanwhile, watched the discussions with bated breath, and wondered how she could get herself home after I was arrested for assaulting the guard.

Not to worry. I resolved the problem by snatching up the screwdriver, stomping to the nearest door, flinging said door wide open and hurling the screwdriver as far and hard as possible.

"NOW can I come in?" I demanded. Apparently so. The car keys were then put back into my coat pocket and run through the x-ray machine. After being scanned with a handwand, I was cleared to enter the building. I must then gather my possessions and IMMEDIATELY go through the next door, leaving my daughter behind. Not a problem when the child is 16; the family ahead of us had a two-year-old, and she was distraught at having to watch her mommy disappear behind a door, and walk all by herself towards a strange man who held something in his hand.

Anyway, once clear of the first security hurdle, U.S. citizens have the supreme pleasure of getting to bypass the line of visa applicants and proceed directly into the first waiting room. Where you are greeted by a security guard who demands to know why you are coming in through this exit door. He escorts you to the next locked door and opens it for you, whereupon you are accosted by yet another guard who likewise demands to know why you have come through the apparently forbidden doorway.

Once we finally reached the appropriate floor and department, everything went swimmingly and without problem. Daughter will have her passport in two weeks or less. Whew. Explorica will be happy.

What I find terrifying is that Canada is a "friendly" country. Truly it is. Daughter and I have felt very welcomed every day of our presence. And the U.S. feels the need to take these draconian steps to insure the safety of its employees. How difficult is it to access the Embassy or Consulate in a not-so-friendly country? Thank you, George W., for your diligence in protecting U.S. citizens, at home and abroad. (Please note--heavy sarcasm used here!)

Then, since we were in town and there was really no way Daughter could attend her afternoon classes, we decided to do some shopping. Of course, to do this we had to retrieve our purses and knitting from the friendly security person. Two blocks south to Adelaide, two blocks east (with our backs to the wind!), and we are at the right building. We retrieve our bags with no problem, and put our minds to shopping.

After all, the Eaton Centre is in downtown Toronto and that is exactly where we are. Shopping here we come. After walking back down to Union Station, looking in vain for the mall, we patrol Front Street, searching for clues. All to no avail. Undaunted, we return to Union Station and head back into the PATH. We should be able to find the mall this way. Right?

Two hours later, we still have not yet found the mall. Plenty of shopping on the PATH, but no mall. We finally succumb to hunger and head for the nearest coffee shop. The kind lady sells us warm beverages and sandwiches, and assures us that if we head north we will find The Bay within two blocks. I know The Bay is part of the Eaton Centre, so we are good. We sit down, have lunch, and knit for a while. To soothe our nerves ... also to convince ourselves that we really know where we are headed.

The nice lady was right. The Bay was only two blocks north. Along the way, I have tripped and stumbled to my knees and crashed my eyeglasses onto the ground. (It was a far better choice than a face-plant onto the looming light pole.) Fortunately, the glasses did not self-destruct--especially since the security guard had forced me to discard my screwdriver. Also fortunately, I did not grab onto Daughter as I went down. She still had some warm coffee in her hand.

We found The Bay. We found the PATH. (It looks strangely familiar. Have we been here before? Don't answer that!!) Did we find the mall? No. We wandered in circles in The Bay. We felt extremely foolish. How can two reasonably intelligent women not be able to find a MALL? For crying out loud, we had credit cards with us!!!

In an effort to salvage some resemblance of pride, we refused to request directions. I suppose that technically speaking we WERE in the Eaton Centre. It just didn't look or feel like it.

After another half hour of wandering fruitlessly, we gave up. Daughter then said, and I quote, "If you can find Nathan Philip Square, I can find the Eaton Centre." Well, I had seen several signs on the PATH that directed one toward City Hall. Nathan Philip Square is right in front of City Hall.

If only she had thought of that option earlier. Say two and a half hours earlier?

Shopping ensues. We find a shoe store with lots of shoes that Daughter finds cute. And her favorites are not only cute, but inexpensive! Does life get any better? Only if they have the right size in stock. Test fits follow, and three pairs in the appropriate sizes are decided upon. We pay up and head home. Via the PATH, which does indeed take us directly to Union Station.

A mad dash to catch the next train, leisurely knitting on the GO, a quick drive home, speedy dinner, and I race out to teach my knitting class in Uxbridge.

Know what happened at home in my absence? Daughter discovers that we brought home two pair of shoes in the wrong size.