Saturday, October 28, 2006

Once I had a dream I stood beneath an orange sky

The December exam schedule came out yesterday. I only have two bloody exams - two! - and when are they? The 16th and the 21st.
So I'm pretty upset. School starts up again on January 3rd. Why do they do this? I know there isn't anything to be done, and there are even those who have exams on December 22nd. It's just not faaaaaair.

Yeah, I'm in a pretty deep funk, more than I'd expect. I love being here, I really do. I'm working harder at school and I have a job and for the last two nights I've been out with people from school, which is the biggest accomplishment of all, really.

But sometimes things just feel empty. There's a wonderful essay in Sarah Vowell's The Partly Cloudy Patriot where she talks about first discovering the fact that you could feel empty, that this happens at all. Then something like this comes along and pushes.

Growing up sucks.

You know, I'm going to blame James Joyce for this. We did "Araby" in English class on Monday. Yeah, I think I'll blame him.

Sorry to be so depressing. As I said above, life hasn't been all staring out rain-streaked windows and moping. I went to the Inspirations Needlecraft show yesterday. It was OK, though not as focussed on knitting as I expected. I mean, I knew it was lots of different stuff, but there was far more quilting than I expected. I quilt, but haven't felt much in the mood lately. So I just concentrated on fibre - not simply yarn. ;)

Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester roving. Gorgeous, eh? It was in a neat braid when I bought it - this is after me playing with it. No (siiiiigh), I'm not going to spin it. I still don't know how to spin. This is going to turn into thrummed mittens. It was $7.50 - I don't know much about the cost of fibre, but it's less than I'd pay for a hank of Fleece Artist yarn, so I think it's not so bad. I got it from the Yarn Forward stall - so I could have got it at my LYS any day, but I got it at the show. So there.

Natural-coloured laceweight wool, from a yarn store about 5 hours outside Ottawa. Each 50 gm hank has ~400m, so I have ~800 m here. Wanna know how much it was? G'wan now, guess!
Less than $9. Boo-ya. It's not the absolute softest yarn ever, but it's softer than Lopi and I'm thinking it'll soften up with washing. I'm thinking of possibly dying it with Kool-Aid. I have a ton of packets of blue and green; I'm going for a gentle handpainted look without variegation.

And you'll note the fact that these photos are taken at home. Yes . . . I didn't bring my camera to the show. I'm disappointed in me, too. I saw some really cool stuff, but the absolute best was the Philosophers Wool stand. They had complex Fair Isle sweaters strewn about like it was nothing at all. My favourite was this one. Sadly the kits were at least double my allotted budget, so it was a no-go. But! One of the top reasons, I swear, to pay the entry fee on these types of shows is to see the people first-hand*. And you can have them show you two-handed Fair Isle, like Eugene (the co-founder) did! How cool was that! Pick with left, throw with right, pick with left, throw with right...

As for knits that are not just yarn in real life, sweaters in my mind, I feel like I've been making real progress with the mitered afghan. I've talked about it before, but never posted a photo yet. Here goes nothing:

Jack Skellington for scale.

I think it's beautiful. It's Patons Classic Merino in burgundy, grey mix, dark grey mix, sage green and new denim. I have 10 balls to play with, 2 in each colour, and I still haven't cracked the 2nd ball in any of the colours. Miters (mitres?) take way less yarn than you'd expect! I love it.

I'd like to say the blanket is based on Berocco's Mu Shu afghan, but it really isn't. It's exactly the same. I mean, it's a blanket! Sure I changed the yarn, and thus the size, but it's not like that really required complex calculations or anything. I love the 41-st miters - when I started I tried a 71-st miter that just crashed and burned. Three hours later I was still knitting the damn thing.

It moves at a decent clip, too. Generally it's my TV watching knit, because I can't haul it around anymore. I mean, look! That's the 35th square I'm working on, right now! Despite that, it's sooo small. Here, look at it as compared to the blanket my granny crocheted for me when I was little:


It feels so big when it's on my lap that it's a real ego crush to see it like that. I keep calling it a blanket because I can't in good conscience call it an afghan at this size. The problem is that it's supposed to be an afghan! It's going to be a Christmas present, and not for a child.
As I said, I've been working on it just about continuously since I got it. My receipt says I bought the yarn September 18, so for just over a month it's not so bad. My original plan was to have it 6 squares by 8 squares, and then I'm going to do a border with mini-miters in the corners. So I'll go to 6 x 8, and see how it looks then. I'm sure not going to run out of yarn at this rate.**

Seeing as it's Halloween soon, I'll leave you with this image of unspeakable horror and pain. Knitters with weak stomachs may choose to look away.

35 yarn ends to weave in. And counting.

* Speaking of which, the Yarn Harlot is going to be at Yarn Forward (both locations) on November 9! Eeeeee!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things I've noticed lately

Alfred paper was done and duly handed in. I've been prepping for another paper, and working at Quizno's (sandwich artiste, thank you) and saving my pennies for the Inspirations Needlecraft show. I don't really feel like a full post, but I thought I'd record a few things that I've noticed lately:

A license plate that said "NOSPOON". This was even better when I walked past the car and noticed that it was . . . anyone? . . . a Toyota Matrix.

A poster for a show featuring a band named "Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend". Oh yeah, way to get people to come out and see you, boys. I think I'm going to go weep into my eyeliner. (OK, fine, I do think it's kinda funny too.)

A tag on my Joe Boxers that, under the washing instructions, reads (I kid you not) "CHANGE DAILY." Of course! That was the part I was forgetting. No wonder it was hard to fit them into the washing machine. Even better than that? They've trademarked that saying.

Inside a Hershey bar wrapper: "Candy is a treat. Please consume in moderation." Oh crap, if only they'd written it on the outside . . . [falls over in diabetic coma]

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

In which Sarah makes fun of a document that's worth more than her life

Crazy busy writing paper on Alfred the Great right now, and still sick. I promise to have real content soon, particularly photos of my new jacket and the story of the total deal I got on it, as well as this beautiful mitred-square afghan I'm working on. But I had to share this.

See, there was this bishop named Asser (snicker snicker) who wrote a biography of Alfred. And I was really pissed because I finally managed to find a copy of this book in the library and yesterday I crack it open, flip past the 60-odd pages of intro, only to find that it's written in the original Latin. Whiskey tango foxtrot! Luckily I managed to find one online in English, and the translation is positively saucy! Take this part, for instance. King Ethelwulf is Alfred's father, and the two of them went to Rome on a pilgrimage when Alfred was 7, staying there for a year. Emphasis is my own.

"In the meantime, however, whilst king Ethelwulf was residing beyond the sea, a base deed was done, repugnant to the morals of all Christians, in the western part of Selwood. For king Ethelwald [son of king Ethelwulf] and Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sherborne, with Eanwulf, earl of the district of Somerton, are said to have made a conspiracy together, that king Ethelwulf, on his return from Rome, should never again be received into his kingdom. This crime, unheard-of in all previous ages, is ascribed by many to the bishop and earl alone, as resulting from their counsels. Many also ascribe it solely to the insolence of the king, because that king was pertinacious in this matter . . .
For as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with all his counsellors, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators . . ."


Sunday, October 15, 2006

I said almost worth it.

First, thank you to everyone for your very kind comments on my Black Sea Hat! I really recommend this pattern.

Now I have to make another hat, and sometime in the next decade I need to make a pair of mittens or two. Maybe if I go wild I'll actually use my Latvian Mittens book that's been sitting on my shelf for the past year because I'm too chicken, even though lately I've been crazy for colourwork. There just aren't enough hours in the day! Gosh.

Today I'm planning to buy a mid-season coat (those things are expensive!), and I have to go to work, and the next week is going to be pretty much non-stop schoolwork. And (would I like some cheese to go with my whine?) I have a cold.


It'd almost be worth the crippling poverty, not being a person, and dying of consumption at the age of 35 to live back in the day when a girl could knit all day and be paid for it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

FO: Black Sea hat

Warning: bathroom photos ahead. Suspiciously cheerful emo bathroom photos ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you. It's been particularly dark & rainy lately, and I haven't had a chance to take a nice outdoors photo.

So! Black Sea!
Ahhh! It's Puck! Flee her fearful chipmunk cheeks!

Seriously, what a cool knit. Close up on the beads:
Neat, eh? Also, I swear on all that is holy, my eyes are NOT brown. Or green. These photos LIE. They are BLUE. Thank you. (There must be some yellow glow, because in real life I don't look like I have jaundice either.)

Pattern: Black Sea Hat, by Grumperina.
Yarn: Scheepjes Donna (50% wool, 50% microfibre), in colour 601 chocolate.
Yardage: Just under one ball, about 95-105 m.
Yarn Source: Stash, baby, stash! Originally bought from Yarn Forward (linked above).
Needles: Boye US 4 (3.5 mm) DPNs, Denise US 5 (3.75 mm) 16" circular

Knitting with beads is kind of like . . . well how can I explain it. Stringing the beads was very frustrating. It just goes on and on and on. I kept the beads in groups of 10 so they'd be easier to count. It got easier to push them down the string as I went on as I knew how much leeway to give. The only really annoying time was casting on.

Other than that, the knitting was delightful. Just enough changes to keep it interesting. It is so weird to knit a bead in - you have to experience it to get it. Very fun. I love the way the ribbing works with the waves. Grumperina is a total genius. Good thing, too, as my cousin has asked me to make her one!

I had only two concerns: yarn and size. I had less yardage, because the yarn was thicker - a DK rather than sport. So I used smaller needles than I normally would (I still could have gone a size smaller if I wanted a really firm fabric), and I made the small size. It fits just right, possibly stretching a slight bit larger than desired as I've been wearing it basically every day for the last two weeks.

You may have also noticed that I don't have the ruched top with the hole. This would be because I didn't want that, so I just didn't print off the top instructions. Well, it turns out mine are basically exactly the same, except my decreases don't swirl (note to self: left-leaning decreases need to keep decreasing to the left to swirl), and I did one more decrease so I didn't have a hole.

I'm pensive! Yay! And (sigh), my hair flips like that naturally.

Altogether, a rather fun knit. Considering how fast & loose I played with gauge, it fits rather well, and I love the colours. My only complaint is that it isn't warm enough for this wicked wind we've been having lately. Time to break out the alpaca!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Nice turtleneck.

The blog was down for a while there, and so I was fiddling. I don't know what happened - my best guess is that it's back up because Blogger replaced the hamster on a wheel that powers this thing. So yeah, I changed the template, and I think this one's going to stick. Not sure though. If you change the template it wipes out all your customizations, so that's why there's essentially nothing on the sidebar. If I decide I like this I'll put all the old stuff up.

Anyway, I alluded a while back I was going to talk about my classes now that school is underway. My friend Juli who goes to UBC does a semi-annual thing at the end of each term, but all my classes are full-year! Oh, woe is me. So here we go.

Oh yes, and for those who don't know, I'm a second-year undergrad at Carleton U in Ottawa, Canada, majoring in history with a minor in film studies.

England in the Middle Ages: A professor emeritus teaches this one. He's English and looks like he could have witnessed everything first-hand. But he's hilarious - just sits at the front of the room and tells us stories for three hours a week. Occasionally he'll get sidetracked and tell us things like how much better professional wrestling was in the '60s before everything was fake. No, I'm not kidding. He's awesome, and very approachable. I suspect, however, that he didn't get to be a professor emeritus by telling funny stories, because I have a paper due in a couple weeks that's supposed to be longer than one I had four months to write for a class last year. We'll see how much I like him after that, but so far, not too bad for an 8:30 AM class.

History of Russia: Another professor emeritus, not so much fun. This guy talks FAST, and asked us in the first lecture to not ask questions during the lectures. This goes against my preferred back-and-forth type of learning, but he's still an interesting teacher. It's just a tough act to follow my Middle Ages prof.

Historian's Craft: This is the course that's mandatory for all history majors in their second year, where we learn to use archives and read old handwriting and talk about interpretations of history and all that rot. This course is taught by two profs, who both showed up for the first class but apparently work one on, one off for the following classes. So I haven't had as much time to get to know these profs as I have with other classes, but in the first day I was reminded very strongly of two of my favourite English teachers from school (Mr. M. and Mrs. K., for those who went to high school with me). These are very good signs. Also, this is my only class with a female prof. Am I just in the wrong courses? I'm not saying I prefer female profs, but it seems odd that in the 14 profs and TAs I've had so far at university, only 4 have been women. I'm in arts - what up with that?

20th Century Literature: A first year English course. There's a digital cable channel that shows specific Carleton courses as a sort of correspondence school-type-thingy, and last year I kept catching bits of this. What really grabbed me was the lecture I saw on Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, which is if not my favourite play of all time (and I've seen a few plays) is way up there. Also the prof was really good. So I signed up this year, and I got a different prof who didn't have R & G as one of the readings. Booooo. But I just got home from this course, and the prof talked for more than 45 minutes about an Ezra Pound poem that is a whopping 2 lines long, and I was fascinated. So it's a winner.
PS. I have to put this note in. We read 6 poems for today's class - Yeats, Pound, and Eliot. One of the Yeats poems was "Leda and the Swan", which, as I was reading it, I was hoping against hope it wasn't what I thought it was about. Well, the prof elaborated on it. I feel sick. Blech.
If you don't know your Greek mythology, do yourself a favour and read a Wikipedia article or something, because the poem is - yeah. Imagery is a tool that must be used for good and not evil, Yeats!

Canadian Cinema: Fantastic, amazing, super-fun course. I know, I know - those of you who didn't think I was insane up til now are know assured of the fact. The prof is very good; he strangely reminds me of Kenneth Branagh but without all the bits that make me hate Branagh. Fascinating stuff, freely allowing us to make fun of the cliches of Canadian movies, and good people in the class. Film classes are ALWAYS the best, I have discovered, for making new friends. Perhaps all the funnest weirdoes major in film.

Oh yeah, that reminds me: Go see Bon Cop, Bad Cop. One of the best movies I've ever seen. Hilarious! And a really good cop movie too. Just a ginormously fantastic movie all round that happens to be Canadian. I'm not really into hockey, so apparently I missed a bunch of the NHL-related humour, and I was still laughing the whole way through. Go see it!