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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Cruelest Month

Forget April. I think that November is the cruelest month - at least in Blogland.
We are less than 5 hours away from "NaOvEsWhaYoAchWhiStiWoSleMo"
(National OverEstimate What You'll Achieve While Still Working and Sleeping Month)
By the way - why is it "National" rather than "International"? Or does the "Nation" refer to the Internet Nation?

What drives this lemming like urge to write a novel, knit a sweater, post/create art/(insert activity here) daily in November? Is it a last minute attempt to achieve something before the year is over (kind of like the last 2 weeks of summer vacation - "holy crap, I've wasted all this time - gotta do SOMETHING!)?

I've made a commitment to blog daily (NaBloSoMo) during November, and had toyed with the idea of trying to knit a sweater during November (NaKniSweMo), but I think that the only way I will achieve that goal is to knit a baby sweater (which, it so happens is something that I had intended to knit for my new niece as a Christmas present), because I am working most of the month. Not to mention the fact that I plan to knit a scarf as a Secret Santa present for one of the nurses at work in time for the December 1st ICU Christmas party(who loves pink - a colour which is horribly under-represented in my stash), and there's this stitch pattern that I would like to design a pair of socks around, on top of my long list of projects that I want to start knitting RIGHT NOW! and the sockette/socks that just need to have the toes kitchenered shut and the UFOs that are hanging around, and I still haven't unpacked from Europe/packed my last knittyboard SP package/mailed my Ravelry Birthday exchange package/put away my summer clothes, and I should really get around to writing up the patterns for the socks I have designed on the off chance that someone might want to knit something like them plus it would mean that I could be one of the cool kids who is a "designer on Ravelry", and oh, yeah, there's still all of these cardboard boxes around the house that need to be unpacked from the move...

I tell you...cruelest month.

I'd close the post with a photo of Eiffel Sock #2, which is 75% completed, but the fates didn't get the "Hey - Ladylungdoc didn't buy any Halloween Candy, and The Gambler is going to be at Fencing tonight, so make sure that she has a quiet day at work and is able to get home in time to realize that her neighborhood is teeming with trick-or-treaters, and that her only option is to hide in the basement and hope for pouring rain to wash away the eggs" memo, and I am waiting for a transfer to arrive from another hospital.

So instead, you can look at the pretty flowers:
Ute's Lillies 3


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Caught in the act by a fruit-sniffing Beagle...

We arrived in Toronto at 8:30 PM last night, which for our bodies was 4:30 AM. Just after we left the plane, The Gambler tossed the 2 apples out of his backpack that we hadn't gotten around to eating. Since I knew that we had eaten the 2 bananas that were in my bag, I didn't give it any further thought.
As I was standing there somewhat dazed as The Gambler grabbed our baggage from the luggage carousel, I saw a woman walking a beagle through the luggage area. I noticed that the beagle had a little doggie vest on with the initials CBSA. She looked to be doing some type of training, as she put a bag down, and rewarded the dog when he sniffed at it. "I didn't realize that they use beagles to sniff for drugs" I thought. Then the beagle made it's way over to where I was standing, and started to sniff at our backpacks. The woman asked me: "Do you have any food in your bag?". "Not any more, but there was some in there recently", I said. So she unzipped The Gambler's bag and lo and behold there was nothing in the main compartment other than 2 books. So she opened my bag - on top was my knitting bag, which had yarn, and needles, and a water bottle, and underneath was my Clapotis. She dug further, and it turned out that there was a pear at the bottom of my backpack - I had forgotten that I had grabbed it at the breakfast buffet. I was told: "You could face a $400 fine for this", but she decided to let me off as long as I tossed the pear right then and there. Then she and the dog proceeded to bust an elderly couple.

But enough about my inadvertent smuggling. I had packages waiting for me when I got home

My final SP9 package:

Some Somerset coloured sock yarn (which will probably get knit up into Cat's Face Lace Socks)

A Montego Bay scarf (knit out of handpainted yarn)


And assorted goodies of Portland origin.

However, I haven't figured out my SP's knitty identity yet - please let me know who you are!!

I also received a Ravelry Birthday swap package from Tammy:

2 different sock yarns,

And more goodies!

Don't forget the lemon cookies! (Even though I am a chocolate fanatic, there's something about lemon cookies that makes my mouth water!)

And there was a surprise package from Janis:

BTW Janis - it totally didn't occur to me that you were asking for my address because you intended to send me something - I can be quite dense sometimes!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Comment est-ce qu'on dit...

..."I cannot believe that you are pandering to the tastes of les Americains. I hate you, and I am going to pee in your shoes. Now where are my Gauloises?"

We are in Paris, being touristy.
I managed to more or less shake my cold, but The Gambler still suffers...something to do with an all-schnitzel diet, peut-etre?

The Eiffel Sock is progressing:
sock progress
The Java colourway looks good (very non-pooly):
sock colour detail
And I am liking how the texture of the pattern is working out in the unstretched sock...
sock texture detail
As well as when the sock is being worn - yes, that is a cat hair which seems to have travelled 6,000 km for the sole purpose of getting on my knitting.
sock on

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Und ein SP11 Konkurrenz

Our super generous SP11 hostess has been running some blog posting contests. Her latest one was: Post a photo of your first FO and your most recent FO and discuss how your knitting has changed in the interim.

Well, my very first FO was a pair of mittens I knit out of purple Patons Decor yarn. Which were given to charity when I got rid of the jacket that they matched. They were knit in 2001 or 2002, before I had a functional digital camera (I had one at the time that I had bought second hand, but the dowload cord got lost, and it was impossible to replace, etc.)

So I am posting my first blogged FO:
clap fountain


clap n me
The clapotis I knit out of Crystal Palace Party ribbon yarn in Jan/Feb 2006.

And the clapotis that I knit out of Fleece Artist/handspun in Sept/Oct 2007:
completed clapotis has my knitting changed...well, I think that I have a better understanding of how various fibres are likely to behave, and which ones might be more appropriate or less appropriate for a specific project (i.e ribbon yarn is much heavier than wool), and I am a bit more careful about finishing (I just joined new yarn anywhere with the ribbon clap and knotted it in; I joined the new yarn at the ends of rows, and wove the ends in). I am much more likely to knit with circs than with straight needles. I am much better at "reading" my knitting than I was back then. Thanks to Eunny Jang, I understand why pooling occurs, and what techniques can be used to prevent/minimize it. I've learned new techniques - new ways to cast on and cast off, socks, magic loop, knitting with beads. And my stash is waaaaay larger than it was at the beginning of 2006.

A few posts ago someone had asked about the origin of the switched stitch patterns - it's not from a Barbara Walker book. It's from a Mon Tricot Special Publication. It's a magazine format called 1500 Patterns, which also has a Step by Step Knitting section at the beginning. I think it might have been put out by Pingouin given their logo is on the cover, but it somewhat surprisingly has absolutely no other adverts on the inside or out. I bought it at a thrift store for $1, so it came along for the trip. I will definitely test swatch future patterns - one sock pattern that I think would be great for socks says "Row 2 and even rows - knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches of the previous row", when there AREN'T any purl stitches in the odd numbered rows - just yo's, slipped stitches and k2tog's.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Ich bin krank

So this is what 40 feels like - red, irritated, dripping nose; scratchy throat; sinus congestion...

...Oh wait, that's my cold.

Yes, this is turning out to be a somewhat memorable birthday - bad cold in the middle of our Eurotrip, being re-united with the cellphones (despite a French Postal Strike), and The Gambler realizing that he forgot my card at home. But that's OK - all this just gives me licence to stretch out the celebration for the next week or so.

I did get a present from The Gambler a few days ago:

Coke and "Coca-light" have been the universal in restaurants thus far (well, except for the place that had Cola-licht, which turned out to be East German cola, according to the Berliner we were with. It is of slightly higher quality than East German toilet paper.), and I am a die hard Diet Pepsi drinker. Our hotel in Berlin has a kitchenette, so when he went to the market to pick up some food, The Gambler managed to find my sweet beautiful Diet Pepsi.

And I have bought myself some yarny presents. The first was an amazing bargain: a bulky wool yarn for 1.95 Euros per ball (less than $2.70 Cdn). I picked it up at a Lana Grossa shop in Nurmberg.

But before that, I picked up this yarn at Tolle Wolle in Nurmberg:

Some handspun merino for 12 Euros per skein; and I bought it entirely because of the colourway:

It's Somerset coloured yarn!

Dear Mommy, this is Somerset. Happy Birthday. We miss you. Greedo wants you to send some schnitzel.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Knit for fun und profit!

29 Euros for a pair of socks - not bad profit, considering that they use Lang Jawoll...

Jetzt mit dem Stricken!*

*Now with knitting! (according to babelfish, that is)
Speaking of Stricken, both The Gambler and I have both been stricken by a cold virus. Which thus far qualifies as the worst thing that has happened this trip, so we are not doing that bad. However, if I was writing this post before Tuesday morning, I'd be saying that the worst thing that happened this trip was losing both of our cellphones!!!
You see, I had thought that we would just leave our cellphones at home, as I wasn't certain they'd even work in Europe, plus roaming charges would be ginormous. However, The Gambler thought they would come in handy if we wanted to text message each other in the event we were both off doing our own thing. I called Bell Mobility (yes, GTA readers, we are idiots who use Bell Mobility as our carrier - contract expires in January, and then we will switch to Rogers), and was told that yes, our phones would work, yes, the roaming charges were insanely high in Europe (along the lines of 3$ per minute), and text messages would cost about 1$ each. So we decided we'd take the phones along, but only use them to text super important messages. Of course, while we were in Frankfurt, The Gambler checked his phone, and it couldn't find a network

Our first destination from Frankfurt was Strasbourg, France; all that The Gambler knew about it was that it was the city where his brother first saw street urchins stealing purses when he was in Europe 15 years ago. So, when we were in the hotel room and preparing to go find somewhere to have dinner, and I said that I'd put my cell phone in the hotel safe, The Gambler decided (after establishing that his phone still couldn't find a network) that he would put his phone in the safe as well, and also put the laptop in the safe. The safe that was on the top shelf of the poorly lit closet.

Fast forward about 4 or 5 days later when we were in Innsbruck, Austria. We had just arrived, were having dinner, and I said "You know, I can't remember where I put my cell phone". The next morning, I remembered about the phone and took a look through my backpack. And The Gambler's backpack. And my knitting bag. And essentially emptied each suitcase/bag that we had completely in order to establish that neither of our 2 cell phones could be found. Sigh. Checked the glove compartment in the rental car - no cell phones. Argh!
The Gambler sent the Strasbourg hotel an email asking if the cell phones had been turned in, but I thought it was best to call the hotel right away: "Sorry, nothing was turned in".AAAAAAAAARGH!!!!! Email Bell Mobility and tell them the phones are lost, have a somewhat heated argument about exactly how fault should best be assigned, then decide to get on with our holiday. Lie awake at night wondering how quickly it would take for someone to find a network to connect to and start running up the charges (which Bell Mobility kindly told us would be our responsibility up until the time we sent them the email).
But on Tuesday, a beautiful thing happened - after The Gambler sent another email to the Strasbourg hotel asking if anyone had actually LOOKED to see if the phones were still in the safe, we got another email saying that the phones had been found and where should they send them. Yay!
Anyways, knitting:
Montreux (37)
I have been knitting during this trip. In addition to finishing the Clapotis, I knit the first of a pair of sock liners:
first footlet
I altered the pattern so that they could be worn under a pair of ballerina type shoes I brought along for the trip.
I also started working on my "Eiffel Tower Socks". Originally, I was going to use this stitch pattern:
I knit the cuff, and was about to start knitting the calf when I realized that the pattern was written to be knit from the bottom up, which would leave me with upside down Eiffel Towers. So I frogged it, started doing toe up, and started to knit the pattern. Realized that with dark sock yarn, it really wouldn't show up. Found this stitch pattern:
Frogged again, knit the cuff again, and started knitting the pattern as written. Couldn't understand why it looked upside down, and why there wasn't as much texture as the photo showed. Thought that maybe it had something to do with the tighter knit. Thumbed through the stitch guide looking for other possible patterns, and found this photo, which looked exactly like what I was I was getting:
Realized that the photos had been switched, and didn't correspond to the patterns as written. Ripped back, and restarted again:
sock 2
Still doesn't show up great with the dark yarn, but I see Eiffel Towers there, and nobody is going to convince me otherwise.
More travel photos for your enjoyment - these ones were taken by The Gambler:
Montreux (11)
Montreux (42)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Random Shots, Random Thoughts

I finished my Clapotis this weekend; I ended up having a significant amount of yarn left over, despite having weighed the increase section; I would the equivalent amount of yarn into the centre of the second skein (marked it with some wast yarn), and had planned to keep going on the straight section until I hit the marker. However, after doing about 14 or 15 repeats of the straight section, I was starting to get antsy to finish, so I just started on the decreases. It's more scarf width than shawl width, because I did one less set of increases/decreases. In retropspect, if I had done the required number of increases, it would work better as a shawl, but I'm pretty certain it would be too short to use as a scarf.

We have done more window shopping than actual purchasing things shopping - this was the first time I saw Crocs boots - are they available in N. America? I personally am a Crocs hater - I have large feet, and the last thing I want is shoes that make them look significantly larger. I have a pair of Doc Martens clogs that I got years ago on ebay the I can wear if I am suddenly overcome by a desire to wear clogs. I have seem skimmer/mary jane styled crocs out there which are nice and streamlines, but my concern is that my feet would sweat horribly if encased all day in plastic.
Swarovski has an amazing "Crystal Wonderland" just outside Innsbruck Austria. Sadly, it is closed for renovations until December 1st, so we had to make do with a giant bronze turd.

The Gambler loves to go look at castles - it's almost beyond my comprehension that people actually lived in these places, and used the artifacts inside.
Hops - grown by The Gambler's cousin. This is the closest we got to any fruit one day in Nurmberg - meat and cheese for breakfast, sausages and cabbage for lunch, and dinner at "The Schnitzelteria"(The Gambler also looooves schnitzel, and would eat it 3 times a day if possible) - I decided that I would try the "vegetarian schnitzel" and got 2 huge slabs of gouda that had been breaded and fried. I have decided that the lemon slice traditionally served with schnitzel is for the purposes of preventing scurvy rather than for flavour.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Qu'est-ce qu'un blog?

We are in Montreaux, Switzerland right now, which is thankfully a French speaking area. Of course, speaking in the same language does not necessarily lead to useful communication, as we found out when Heidi ( the name we have given to the voice of the Mercedes Benz GPS system) led us on a wild goose chase when we tried to find our B&B location on Wednesday.
Story later - here's a few pictures:
Frankfurt - the River Main
Basel - our artsy hotel
My Clapotis -
The needles that I am using certainly look like Addi Turbos, and they knit like Addi Turbos, but they were sitting in a box of assorted circular needles at a flea market, and there were only 2 packages of any kind in the box, both which said "die ideale Nadel" by Wolle Rodel. They cost 2 Euros each (less than $3 CAN) - I got this 5mm needle and a 2.5 mm needle. I have christened them "Fauxddis."
And Finally: what's a blog post without a cute cat photo?
Basel Zoo.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Was ist ein Blog?

You have to love Europe - today we had breakfast in France (Strasbourg), lunch in Germany (Freiburg), and dinner in Switzerland (Basel). The Swiss internet service connects me to the German version of Blogger. The Gambler was very impressed that French male store mannequins have stubble, and thought that the German ones were also quite detailed.

The funniest thing was when a (German) saleswoman asked me if I wanted the receipt for some postcards put in the bag with the cards - I answered "Si", realized my error, said "Oui", realized that I had again used the wrong language and finally managed to blurt out "Ja". I imagine that story got a few chuckles from her family when she shared it with them over dinner.

More info regarding my Birthday Tea for those of you in and around the GTA: Please RSVP to Jacquie "I Can Organize In My Sleep" Blackman -

Will hopefully have a chance to post some WIPs and some travel photos in the next few days (plus a photo of my 2 Euro Fauxddis) - the converter that we brought didn't accomodate the ground on the computer power cord, but we managed to pick up a "universal" European power cord which runs the computer, although it does not seem to charge the battery.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Invite for my GTA readers

Hi all - limited time on the internet because we don't have a computer-friendly adapter. I am throwing myself a Birthday Tea at Alterknit on the last Sunday in October from 1 PM to 5ish. Appies and sweets will be provided. Watch this space for info on RSVPing.



Friday, October 05, 2007

SP11 contest

The hostess for our SP11 group is running another contest - flash your stash. Since our flight leaves in 16 hours, and I still haven't finished packing, I'm flashing my "stash in situ" rather than pulling it out of the assorted hiding storage spots.

Some spots are practical,

Some are decorative

Some involved no thought whatsoever.