Dec 29th, 2004 - I Am So Lucky and Thankful...

...in so many ways. My Christmas was amazing; full of family, food, and great gifts, all of which I will share with you tomorrow. During all the celebrations I did not really pay any attention to the news. Someone mentioned that there had been an earthquake somewhere, but it didn't really register with me. Monday evening as I returned home, I saw one word in the blur of disturbing pictures and horror in the paper. Phuket.

Before about a month ago, I had never even heard of Phuket. And for the last month, that is all I have talked about. My company was sponsoring a conference there at a resort that was supposed to start on Jan 11th.

What follows may make me sound like a terribly shallow person, but I will take that risk. I work in a department of 3 people, including myself. The other two people I work with were going to the conference, including the best boss I have ever had, and a great co-worker. They were to leave for Phuket tomorrow. I haven't been able to stop thinking about how lucky they (and I) are/am that they hadn't left yet. I know that they are only co-workers, but I spend more time with them in a day then I do my own family.

I realize how horrible that sounds. More then 50,000 people have lost their lives, and I am thinking about the two that are home safe. But I think it is easy to say "wow, did you see that terrible thing that happened on the other side of the world?" and then go about regular business. I will never think that about this event.

I hope that everyone that has lost a friend or family member has the support that the need to get through this. And I hope those who are missing are found. This event has undoubtedly made this my most thankful Christmas ever.

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Dec 24th, 2004 - Bugs

Ok, gross title, but I just saw this article in the Star. If any of you have bought a new artificial Christmas tree this year, please check it carefully for bugs. I saw how much damage the Asian Longhorn Beatle caused this summer in the area of Toronto where I work. They cut down every single (as in ALL) of the trees for a 15km radius in an attempt to contain these suckers. That over, knitting progress...

..ok I don't have that much to show. The thrums progressed a little last night, as did my Mom's Christmas present. I also popped out to LewisCraft to pick up some more Paton's Merino to make TJ an Irish Hiking scarf. That's right folks, TJ, the man who I though was barely putting up with my knitting, has asked me to make him a scarf. Actually, he asked me to make him a scarf about an hour after he asked me to marry him (he knows about the curse). He also asked me to make him an Aran sweater, but that is just going to have to wait for a little bit until I recover from all this Christmas knitting an selfishly knit some things for myself!

Thanks everyone for the good luck yesterday. I did make it work alright, and I did manage to somehow scrape the inch of ice off my car and make it home at the end of the day. Today will be round two.

I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas and gets to spend lots of time with their family and friends. I am going to be posting a page of my Christmas knitting over the next week, as I am hoping to get a picture of everyone with their gifts. Have a great holiday everyone, and play safe.

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Dec 23rd, 2004 - It Has Finally Happened

There is no denying now that it is winter. Every year I try to ignore the fact that it is getting colder, in hopes that if I do, this won't happen.

That's right folks, that is Toronto's largest highway, crawling at a snails pace at 6am. Last night TJ and I had to do some running around, and a drive that should have taken maybe an hour and a half, took 4 hours. And it had barely snowed last night. I can only envision what the drive to work will be like this morning. One of the ladies that I work with, who is from India, said to me that she had never met someone who was born in Canada that hated snow as much as I did. I beg to differ. I think that lots of people are just so tired of the way that snow seems to incapacitate our cities that we would be happy to never see it again. I realize that is a little humbug two days before Christmas, but I SHOULD BE IN HAWAII!

*Sigh* Ok, that over, I have made quite a bit of knitting progress in the last few days, and I am down to just one Christmas present to go. Luckily it is for my Mom, and being the wonderful, amazing, understanding woman that she is, I don't think she will mind if I have to wrap up wool. Right Mom??

The snow did prompt me to work on the thrums a bit (ok I know, should have been working on the Christmas present)

I am now using the fleece that I dyed using Koolaid rather then the Fleece Artist stuff that I had. It is MUCH easier to work with, plus I smell all grape-y. I also discovered that the problem with the original mitts was that the thrums were much too big and my needles were too small. These are moving along at a much better pace and I am actually enjoying knitting them.

As for my little panic yesterday, I did get all the coffee holder gifts done.

This idea was taken from MagKnits, but I did not use the pattern. I just kinda made it up as I went along. I gave these to the girls that I walk to Tim Horton's with every day for lunch (I bring my own lunch and just have a tea) along with some gift certificates. I even got the ladies at Timmies to give me some empty cups so that I could wrap them up with the holders on them. My friends thought that was an absolute riot. Oh, BTW, the holders looked a lot better after I steamed them.

That's all for today, if you are in Southern Ontario and are driving today, please be really careful. Wish me luck with my commute.

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Dec 22nd, 2004 - Can't Blog

....must knit coffee cup holders to give as gifts at noon TODAY. Begin Christmas panick........now!

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Dec 20th, 2004 - Best Friend in the World

I have the greatest friend in the whole world. Sunday morning I got up early (who knew planes flew at that ungodly hour) to take missbedora to the airport. But before we left we exchanged our Christmas presents. I have such I hard time with her gift every year because I could spend pretty much my whole year's salary on her. She is such an easy person to buy for. I did restrain myself though, and gave her a handmade swift from Wool House Tools. I also took all the entries from her travel blog and made a little book. You will never believe what I got in return from her

That's right people. Two giant skeins of Kid Silk. And not only is it Kid Silk, but it has my favourite pink and blue label on it - FLEECE ARTIST. I have been petting it since yesterday morning. I know exactly what I am going to make with it too. I am going to alter the pattern a bit, but it will be the Cowl Neck sweater from this winter's Interweave. It is such a drapey yarn that it needs to be something flowy. I am going to make it a little more solid though so that it is not see through. I can't wait to start knitting it, and it was all I could do yesterday to not start. *sigh* Fleece Artist. Yum

I also felted the little purple bag that I was working on last week

It still needs some kind of closure, I think a magnetic snap, which I will put on it this week. I really like how the Cascade Quattro looks like tweed when it is felted. I will take an action shot later on when I get the snap attached.

We had a weekend full of guests, and I thought that I would show you the cute little gingerbread house that our friend Ali brought to us

Isn't it cute? For those of you from Toronto, it is from Marie's Gingerbread Creations on Belamy Rd in Scarborough. Apparently the store is open all year, and they do beautiful gingerbread chapels for weddings and all kinds of occasions. It seems a shame to eat it, but trust me, I will. :)

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Dec 17th, 2004 - Better News

My bad news turned into better news yesterday, so I am in a much better mood.

Today is our pot luck at work, and I made the cutest cheese ball that looks like a snowman. He even has a top hat made out of crackers. I will take pictures with the camera at work and post them on Monday. It is really cute.

This weekend is going to be packed full of guests at my house, which I love. I get to cook new foods and test them out on everyone. Most of my friends like being guinea pigs, I think.

I am also going to work on my thrums this weekend. I have to get them done, because my walks at lunchtime are started to get a little too cold with my worn out crappy thinsulate mitts. I will just go stand on the balcony to feel my fingers get cold if I lose the inspiration.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Dec 16th, 2004 - Have You Ever....

...done something dumb and then had bad news come to you because of it? I don't really want to get into it, but I had some icky news last night, and thus I missed the SnB. :( I really wanted to go show off my ring to everyone, but I will definitely go next week.

I have made a lot of progress on the felted bag that I am making, but no pics today, because the camera is still at Lettuce.

Have you ever had a project that you started, and you really want to see the finished result, but you just can't seem to get inspired enough to actually knit it? That is how I am feeling about my thrum mitts. I am not sure if it is because my hands find them akward to knit, or because I just don't think they are turning out as well as some of the ones that I have seen (Stephanie's for example). I think that the thrums might be a little too thick and too long, because I am not really getting the cute little "v" of colour. I am considering ripping what I have so far and starting again with smaller thrums. Hmmmm.....I bet a couple more days of this cold weather will inspire me.

How about you, any projects in the works that you can't get inspired about?

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Dec 14th, 2004 - Overwhelmed

I am overwhelmed by the knitting community once again. Huge Thank You's to everyone who left me well wishes yesterday. Another thing to make me really happy. If I get any cheerier, my face might crack. :)

In the knitting front, I made a fair bit of progress on my bag that I am making

I am just getting to the point where I am going to start the decreases, and I should be able to get it done tonight.

I also got a little prize in the mail yesterday. Lynette and Monica sent me 2 skeins of wool/mohair blend in a pumpkin colour

I won a little contest because I knew that a quote on their site was from the Princess Bride. I am not sure what I will make with it, but I always think when I win something that I should make a gift. Hmmmm.....ideas?

I also got a CD yesterday from Stella's garage sale

I can't wait to listen to this in the car. But I think that it might have to wait until I am not driving with TJ, cause he might fall asleep.

And a bit of news in the comments yesterday informed me that my friend Craig is going to be learning how to knit. Craig, you need to come in to TO for the SnB at Lettuce. C'mon, it is a room full of lovely women. :)

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Dec 13th, 2004 - Best Weekend of My Life

Friday night, the person I love more then anything in the world, asked me to be with him forever

TJ got down on his knee and asked a blubbering stuttering me if I would marry him, to which I think I yelled through tears YES! Many phone calls to friends and family ensued, and everyone is very happy. It is the best early Christmas present I ever could have asked for. TJ is the most incredible person that I have ever known, and the person who knows me best in the world. I couldn't even fathom me life without him; he makes me feel like royalty every moment of every day. And the ring is absolutely gorgeous! I can't stop looking at it.

In between the gushing, phone calls, and staring, I did manage to get some knitting accomplished. First off, thank you everyone for your comments about knitting and it's place as an art form. I will respond to each of you individually later today.

I worked on the thrums for a little bit

and found that working with all that fluff can be a little taxing on the wrists. So last night I needed something mindless to knit while I was watching Desperate Housewives

Another felted Cascade bag, because you can never have too many.

I'm getting MARRIED!

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Dec 10th, 2004 - A Little Thrum Magic

I joyfully started working on my first pair of thrum mitts last night, and even though I didn't get too far, I learned something new

I learned how to do the magic loop. And I LOVE it. It is so much more fluid then trying to use dpns. I know that dpns are still important, but for this, I am thrilled with how it works. I am so much faster and it hurts my hands less. I love learning something new, especially when it makes life easier.

I also took some shots of the finished Irish Hiking Scarf.

Click for a large image of the cables

I am quite happy with how it turned out for my first cabling attempt, and I was glad to see that the bottom stopped it's weird flare thing when it was blocked. I used Patons Merino Wool, and I used just over 1 ball. It is not too long as it is for TJ's brother in law, and I didn't think he wanted a scarf hanging down to his knees.

On a non project related knitting topic, and a long one at that, I was reading Anne's latest post, and it seems to have struck some kind of sore spot for me.

I have only been knitting since about April, and I can say (as can most) that it is really my favourite skill that I have learned. I find it has everything I need in an art to keep me happy; it is easy to learn, it is relaxing, and you can make so many different beautiful things. Not to mention the community of knitters continually astounds me.

I have also been doing artistic photography for almost 10 years. I enjoy it, but I don't find it nearly as satisfying as creating something with my hands.

Now here is my sore spot: My desk at work, as well as my home, has many of my photographs displayed. I am not a good photographer by any stretch, but on occasion I take a photo that I find visually appealing, and will put them up at my desk to brighten things up. I receive comments about these photographs fairly regularly, and I think most people think my photography is ok. However, when it comes to knitting, something changes. I know we have all been through the comments and criticisms of knitting. "You knit??" "My grandma does that" "You should sell your stuff" "Isn't that boring?" and my personal favourite that I have received "You must be Scottish" (what the hell does knitting have to do with being Scottish?). I am not here to rant about these people, because I can just ignore them as ignorant, but what puzzles me is the difference between photography, or any other art, and knitting.

When I take a photograph, it takes milliseconds. If you include set up time, minutes. Darkroom time, a few more minutes. I would say the average time that I spend on a favourite photograph is 10 minutes. Knitting takes hours. Hours and hours to create a beautiful garment. Hours of hand planning, hand crafting, and care. Why is it that non-artistic or creative people can not see that difference? Anyone can click a hundred pictures off on a camera and come up with one good photograph. But not everyone will spend the time required to truly create something with their hands.

But even when considering time, there seems to be a difference between knitting and other crafts. TJ is a natural born wood worker. He has built me some incredible pieces of furniture that I will forever cherish. I would say that the time spent on these pieces is comparable to the time that I spend on my pieces. Yet someone can come into our house and gush and go on about his work (don't get me wrong, he deserves every minute of it), and then see something that I am working on and the usual comments start. Why is this? Why is knitting different from other art forms? Is it the history of it? Do people still associate knitting with being forced to wear itchy, ugly, unfitting sweaters? Are they that close minded?

I had a teacher in high school that was more then a little eccentric, but something that he said to me has stuck with me my whole life. It doesn't matter what you do, just do it with passion. It doesn't matter if it is knitting, studying, raising kids, complaining, painting, working, whatever. Just pick at least one thing and make it your passion. Do it with umf, full on, all encompassing passion. And always appreciate or respect the passions of others. I try my best to do this, and I have without a doubt found my passion in knitting.

What are your opinions on why others seem to have such a hard time with knitting?

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Dec 9th, 2004 - Happy 1st Anniversary

Last night was the first anniversary party at Lettuce Knit, which consisted of tons of food and tons of people. I have never seen so many people jammed into the store at once. We all had such a good time. Which I could prove to you by the pictures if I hadn't left my camera hanging on the back of my chair. (There was a tea incident whereby everything I took with me was drenched, and I had to take the camera out of it's case to hang dry. And that is where it stayed). Guh. Megan did a great draw for some gift certificates, and Joyce won the $100 one. We are all really happy that Joyce got it, but also really jealous!

I made pink cookies to take with me last night using cherry Jello. They were *ok*, but I really like my mom's recipe for Jello cookies better. Mom, I need to get that from you next time I am home.

I managed to finish the Irish Hiking scarf last night. I will post some pictures of it once I get it blocked. The end is doing this weird flare-y thing, so I am hoping I can fix it through some good pinning. And with that done, it means that I am just about done my Christmas knitting. Just a couple more things that I can't post about because the recipients read my blog. :)

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Dec 7th, 2004 - Party Season

Sorry about the lack of post yesterday, I wasn't feeling quite up to snuff. And I couldn't find the digital camera (the loverly man in my life moved it somewhere...). But I am better today, and I have pictures to prove it.

First, I made a fair bit of progress on my Irish Hiking Scarf

I was working on it this weekend at my mother in law's house, while my adorable niece and two nephews watched. My niece is almost 8, and seems pretty interested in the process. I am not sure that she has the attention span quite yet to learn. She is not a sit still kind of person. My nephew is almost 6, and he really seemed to like this "knitling?" thing. The little one is only two (he looked at it for a second, and then continued to run in circles on the floor). The older two are coming to stay with us for March break, so we will see if they are interesting in learning.

Thanks for the comments on my dad's hat - when it dried it returned to a normal size, and should fit him perfectly. And if not, it fits me.

While I was home, TJ's amazing grandma (she is 82, looks like she is maybe 60, and can't stop moving) brought me some duplicate knitting books and stuff.

You can click on it to get a larger picture, and when you do, check out the top row of books. I wish that there was a date on them, because the "Lacey's" one is a riot. I will scan some of the pictures this weekend just to show you the poses. There are actually two layers of books on this chair, and there are some really nice classic patterns and kids toys in there. And in the little baggie there was a row counter and some cable needles, both of which I needed. I love grandma.

Last week I also managed to finish my Christmas shopping, and I started to do some of the wrapping last night. All I have left is to finish my knitting (agggh!) and make some fudge sauce. Tonight officially starts the party season, as we are having our first dinner guest. Then tomorrow night is the party at Lettuce Knit (crap, I have to make cookies for that) Friday I am having another dinner party, Saturday is my work formal Christmas party, and the Saturday after that I am having more dinner guests. But I really like this time of year, so it is not too bad. Really. *sigh* :)

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Dec 3rd, 2004 - New Comment Thingy

Thank you so much Carrie for suggesting Haloscan for my comments. It was such an easy little piece of code that I managed to get it working right away. I am thinking that I might upgrade my subscription so that I can support the folks that run the site. Yeah! No more Blogger comments!

In knitting news, I have worked a little bit more on the hiking scarf, but not enough to justify a picture. But I have some other bad news. I blocked my dad's hat last night (which was a little on the big side to start) and now it is really big. Huge. I actually really like it on my head because it is loose, but I am not sure that my dad will like that. I don't really want to rip it all out, because it will fit someone's head, but I might try knitting him another one before Christmas. But only if I get all my other projects done first. Or, does anyone know of a way to make a 1x1 rib hat smaller without ripping? I put it in the dryer for a while, but it only got shorter, not skinnier.

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Dec 2nd, 2004 - A True Knitter is Born

Last night's SnB went well, but it would have been better if I had not left my Irish Hiking Scarf sitting on my desk at work. I did manage to finish this though

I think it looks a lot better then the first one that I made. I am going to block it tonight a bit, and then make some milk bath to go with it for the recipient.

Since I forgot my knitting at work, I had to buy something else to work on while I was at Lettuce.

Some Blue Sky Alpaca Silk to made the little knitted bag that is on the front of Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Here is proof that store samples work - I was search around the store for something little to work on and saw the sample. And the rest is history so to speak.

Now what you ask, of the picture of the Denise set? One of the girls that I taught to knit at work is truly becoming a great knitter and asked me to pick these up for her. I am so proud *sniff*. She has caught on really quickly, and she is going to make her first natural fibre purchase soon (non Walmart wool). I think we have another addict on our hands!

Dec 1st, 2004 - A Little Bit

I got a tiny bit more done on my scarf last night

I know, so thrilling you can hardly stand it. I should get a lot more done tonight at the SnB. I am happy with how it is turning out though, and I find making the cables without the cable needle pretty straightforward.

I need to change the program that I am using for my comments. I know that people don't really like using blogger to comment, so I would like to use another third party web based comment program. If anyone could give me any suggestions, I would be very grateful. Just send me an email (dani warren at sympatico dot ca) or leave a comment. Danke!

 

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