Friday, November 26, 2010

Queen Street, Toronto

Queen Street, Toronto, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I'd forgotten I had this picture on my cameraphone till a few days ago. I love this shot, mostly because it's so different from where I live. The old style poles with all the wires for transit, the tall buildings with narrow frontage, the commuters on bicycles. I live in a part of the world very much entrenched in car culture, with poor public transit and hardly any bike lanes to speak of, at least for commuters. I don't know how many times I've been on my bike and thought "well, great. Now where am I going to park and lock this?" or "how am I going to get from x to y without getting smucked" as the path abruptly ends at an intersection with no pedestrian or cycle access, forcing you to take illogical detours. 

In another part of Toronto,  I especially liked this - an older gentleman doing his shopping on his bike, with high-rise handlebars, no less! Perfect.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking: 14 questions


Tammy asked her sream-of-consciousness questions about cooking at Daisy Yellow. These are always fun, so here's my responses. Thanks Tammy!

a. Does what you cook say something about you?

It says that I'm erratic and influenced either by time, scheduling, and whatever was on sale at the supermarket. Also, that I try to reproduce really good stuff I ate at some restaurant in a distant city.

b. How do you keep track of your recipes, your notes on how to make them?

Really badly - I have a binder of pages torn out of magazines, and stuffed into that binder are loose sheets printed off the computer. Many are sticky and crumpled. I really need to fix this. Next year.

c. What recipes do you measure precisely, and which do you guesstimate?

With the exception of finicky baked goods, I guesstimate everything. Even when trying a new recipe, like the baklava above, I treat the amounts as guidelines, and often think "oh, they can't possibly mean that".

d. Are there dishes you make quite well, but never eat?

scalloped potatoes, due to my cheese intolerance.

e. What portion of your recipes [that you make at least annually] were passed down from a previous generation?

My mother mostly cooked Filipino food, which I hardly ever cook or eat with the exception of one dish. However, there are a lot of dishes that my sisters and I cooked together growing up, and that might constitute a quarter, say, of our regular repertoire.

f. What dry spice do you find yourself replenishing most often?

cinnamon, chili powder

g. What is the messiest dish you make (biggest clean-up)?

My late MIL's perogies with potato-onion-bacon filling. Completely worth it.
Also, latkes.
oh! and the Pioneer Woman's Onion Strings.

h. What is the largest, most varied [number of dishes] meal you make each year?

Probably my book club Christmas party. Which probably shouldn't count, as it consists largely of frozen appetizers from Costco slid onto a baking tray. Okay, Christmas dinner then. Or New Years. No, wait! Any meal held at my mom's house in the summer when the families are gathering.

i. What's the wierdest thing that will be served at your Thanksgiving [holiday] table?

not on purpose, but this year my daughter drew a happy face on the mashed potatoes:

thankful for: happy mashed potatoes

j. Have you taught your kids to cook?

sort of - we tend to have a cook-along approach, which is how I grew up - we cook together.

k. What do you always seem to burn?

chicken stew, or any other stew using flour as a thickener.

l. What dishes do you typically bring to a party or pot luck dinner?

usually my husband is in charge of pot luck stuff, thus, tabbouleh or black bean salad. And my daughter has taken over baking duties, so lemon squares.

m. Which of your creations do your friends/family RAVE ABOUT?

my husband's turkey stuffing. Nobody in my family raves about my cooking, as I rank a distant third, if that, to two of my sisters. However my friends like it when I bring home-made salsa to events.

n. Do you prefer chocolate or vanilla cake?

Chocolate. Always.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Frills prompt: spheres

spheres, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I hardly ever go to movies at the theatre, never mind on opening weekend, with the exception of Harry Potter. While waiting for the movie to start, I worked on Tammy's No-Frills prompt, Sphere. Inktense pencils, dry, in a moleskine cahier, because that was the flattest thing to throw in my bag.

Again, possibly my subconscious is on the holidays, because now they look a little like tree ornaments to me, though that wasn't my intention.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why I bailed on AEDM, and why that's OK

I'm in the final stages of writing, editing, and assembling my thesis for my MSc program. Those of you who have done this do not need to be reminded how obsessive and all-consuming this process is, and even if you haven't, you can pretty much relate it to any other life project that occupies every waking thought, and even many of your sleeping ones (when you can sleep).
frogs and ducks

I did think that AEDM - art every day month, hosted by the lovely Leah Piken Kolidas - would fit in just fine, given that even in this nervy, obsessive state, I still need to scribble. But although this technically fits into the theme, I don't think it really fits into the spirit of the thing. I'm doing maintenance, sanity saving scribbles - but I'm not really evolving a process, or growing skills. With regards to art, that is. And I am OK with that, because although what I am doing doesn't fit into AEDM,  NaNoWriMo (national non-stop writing month),  NaNoJouMo (national non-stop art journal month), or NaKniSweMo (national knit a sweater in November month), I'm driving towards the end of Write a Thesis in Three Months Based on Research over the Last Two Years, and I'm pretty happy with that.

Nevertheless: when my retinas are burned out from staring at the computer screen and I'm taking a break from giving myself carpal tunnel syndrome, this is what I do:

shape grid
(while watching Reality TV in an Toronto hotel room - good Lord! I never knew half these programs existed! I did get a kick out of Mantracker, though.)


drawn leaning against a pillar while visiting the Terracotta warrior exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was really captivated by this terracotta archer, kneeling in wait for his turn to shoot his wooden crossbow that seems not to have survived the millenia. Whoever carved his face must have modeled him after someone in real life; somehow he seemed more vivid, more real than the other figures.


drawn from the website, while on break at work


and finally, a bit of a test - I got some Platinum Black Carbon Ink from Jetpens - one of my Flickr contacts recommended it as a fountain pen ink that could hold up to a watercolor wash, much better than the otherwise excellent Noodler's Bulletproof black, which lifts and muddies when washed.  It's as good as she said it was - I'm happy with how clear the colours stayed when washed over here. I can see myself using this ink a lot for drawing in the future.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

tronnah-22: Friday prompt: grid

tronnah-22, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

Am still on the road - I'll probably work these up into a mosaic when I get home.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday: green

green, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

My response for Daisy Yellow's Friday prompt, Green.

I have wicked deadlines right now, snapping at my heels like wolves, so this was very much a quickie. I started by wetting a sketchbook page with water, then dropped some Herbin Vert Olive ink onto the wet paper directly from my pen. After it dried, I sketched the house with white gel pen, filled in a bit with the fountain pen itself and and sketching crayons.

I'm surprised at how insubstantial it looks, as though it might fade away completely, or come and go like a phantom house.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Repeat Friday

I'm a bit late on Tammy's Friday no-frills prompt, repeat - I left my camera at my workplace and didn't get a chance to pick it up till today. But to be honest, I could really have taken these pictures of repeating patterns any other day in the last few weeks, or the next few weeks, for that matter, because my life is in what seems to be a continuously repeating loop.

Mostly revolving around writing a series of papers, carefully filed and brought to and from school in this folder, a constant companion:

and sorting through filing cabinets full of scientific papers and collected data:


and it all comes down to this, for the next few weeks. Despite the rather bleak and institutional look of the pictures, they're truthful,and the process, while stressful, is also strangely satisfying, and more importantly,  finite.


Monday, October 25, 2010

roseleaf holga

roseleaf holga, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

Coffeeshop Lomo + Teeny tiny world again.

What I really wanted was a sharp, clear picture of the rose leaves with creamy dried grass in the background. What I got was a mostly out of focus, overexposed picture due to my dogs running back and forth behind me on the path and distracting me. So I chucked it into a few Coffeshop actions for the save.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Faux Holga

holga3, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

This was just a little experiment because someone on the Coffeshop Actions group asked how to get a fake holga effect, and I thought that this would make a start. This was just square crop, run Coffeshop Lomo, run Coffeshop Tiny World. I'm sure more could be done, like a heavier vignette and film strip layer, but I didn't want to work that hard at it.

I wish I had a teeny tiny Red Riding Hood to put in the picture :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fence Friday

for Tammy's No Frills prompt: perspective.

Five fews of my back yard fence from morning light, through drizzle, to evening.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

thankful for: a salad bowlful

thankful for: a salad bowlful, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
even with the thread - and reality - of frost, there was just enough shelter and protection in the garden that tomatoes continued to ripen slowly, and though they are nowhere as prolific as they were last year, it is still a great pleasure to be able to have vine-ripened tomatoes in October.
thankful for: ripening on the vine

it's true that the leaves were ragged, spotty, and frost damaged, but they held up just long enough to give us these, and for the pleasure of a home-grown tomato, we are grateful.

Friday, October 08, 2010


hookey, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

I had such an unproductive day yesterday - writing, deleting, cutting and pasting the same passages over and over again - that this morning I decided to take a mental break to read, draw, and ride my bike.

I've hardly ridden my bike this year - partly crappy weather, partly dog priorities. It was wonderful to get out on this fall day, take a break at Aperture Park by the university, look at the trees, rocks, and leaves, and do a little drawing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

September falls to October: Daisy Yellow's Creative experiments

September's Creative Experiments  from Tammy at the ever-inventive Daisy Yellow were extra fun for me this month, partly because they were relatively easy for me to fit into my extremely busy back-to-school month, partly because there were prompts with emphasis on hearing and sound.

I have to admit that the first prompt, carry a notebook with you for a month, felt almost like cheating because I've carried a notebook around with me forever, it seems, as a catch-all for any list, plan, sketch, appointment that might pop up. My current notebook is the ubiquitous moleskine, but previous to that I've carried all manner of cheap, glued or spiral bound books. I actually regret that slightly - I have notebooks that are now falling apart, such as my travel log from my backpacking trip to Australia and New Zealand, and I wish they had been more durable and better preserved. So I now feel somewhat justified in my current preference - and pickiness - about my notebooks. There are other books I like better than the moleskine - most notably, the small pocket sized Habana - but just try and find one around here. I will rejoice the day they are as easy to pick up as its competitor.

Anyway,  I thought I'd challenge myself by posting some of the scribbles I'd normally never scan, much less post, because of their state of messy incompleteness. Also, the responses to the next two prompts, write a thoughtful description of five sounds you encounter and create an iTunes playlist of 15 songs that make you feel just right.  I jotted them down as they came to me in clumps over the month, so there is really no theme that I can discern. But they all feel, if not exactly good, then just that right balance of sweetness and melancholy. 


scribbly line practice drawn in the food court on lunch break, a welcome change from staring at a computer screen:


and something just a bit tidier, drawn over a number of sessions while waiting to pick the kids up at judo practice. I wish I could blame the wonky perspective on the fact that I parked in a slightly different slot each time, but I really doubt that's my primary issue. I plan on coloring it eventually, hoping to distract from the drunken tilt of the roof, etc:


The prompt sketch the perfect backpack or purse had me stymied at first. I have backpacks for school, for dog walks, for hiking, for travel, and they're each perfect in their own way. And I really don't get into purses the way a lot of women do - mine tend to be made of cordura. But then I started thinking about  the Bag of Holding, some version of which can be found in nearly every adventure or RPG, and which even showed up in the form of Hermione's beaded bag in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Carrying a nearly infinite volume of items necessary to a quest, including but not limited to bags of gold, weasels, shovels, bombs, and manhole covers, the Bag of Holding has been an unending source of hilarity to me and my children.  So as I complete my current quest, that is to say, writing my master's thesis, what would I really like to haul along with me? Modeled somewhat on my current Timbuk2 mini metro, the following:


And I admit that the last prompt, read four books this month, also felt a little like cheating, because I tend to, anyway. Prompted by REALLY GOOD TV on the local PBS station, namely Lark Rise to Candleford and Inspector Lewis, I plowed through:

Lark Rise, Flora Thompson
Candleford Green, Flora Thompson
The Jewel that was Ours, Colin Dexter

and also, doing "research" for our upcoming book club season,
People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
The Innocence of Father Brown, GK Chesterton

now, onto the October Experiments, and I'm thrilled to say Tammy included one of my suggestions on the list - thanks Tammy! To play along, and add suggestions of your own, head on over to Daisy Yellow!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

letting go

letting go, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
sometimes it's just time, right?

I have complained vociferously all year about unseasonable frost, snowfall, and hail, cold rainy summers, mosquitoes and all manner of nature being contrary, but we are now being rewarded by one of the most beautiful autumns I can recall, full of warmth and light. I'll take it, gladly, along with the nights with just enough chill to keep us alert, to what changes the following months may bring.


(taken with my phone - I vow never to leave my camera at home again: mist rising from the Oldman river and lying low in the valley):
mist on the Oldman

Friday, September 24, 2010

things in my life that are broken

Really, it was bad enough have a frosty, snowy start to the growing season, accompanied by more rain than we've ever seen in the summer (on the plus side, very green coulees). But the cold, rainy days and threat of frost continue to batter the best efforts of the tomatoes to ripen. My husband and I have been trying to cover them up in the evenings, but the night of autumnal equinox, we somehow forgot, and the first morning of fall indeed arrive with frost on the garden shed and the car windows.
Still, gardeners in southern Alberta are nothing if not optimistic, and we're all going "woohoo! 22 degrees on the weekend! NOW we're going to get ripe tomatoes!" Foolish optimism is what makes gardening worth it.


and then, to come home after a day of work and flop on the bed to do some reading. To my horror, this is what my Kindle looked like.
sad, sad kindle

I have faithfully (and somewhat hysterically) followed all the steps on the support pages, blogs and forums. No dice. This thing is bricked. Amazon is sending me a replacement, and the customer service rep remarked, as I paused for breath amidst my bleating, "It sounds like you really enjoy your Kindle".  I bet he says that to all the folks.

On the plus side, I was thus forced to raid my daughter's bookshelf and read a paper book, an old, old favorite of mine from when I was a young girl: The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Not only is it one of my favorite retellings of the old Tam Lin ballad (and suitable for younger readers), it is illustrated by Richard Cuffari, whose black and white ink and wash drawings have fascinated me since I was a child. As an adult, I find myself re-examining them with fresh eyes, trying to figure out what makes them so dramatic and appealing. This blog post at Daughter Number Three shows some great examples of his illustrations - some of them have a distinctly 70's feel to my eye, yet still seem fresh and very much in tune with the story. It was almost worth having a broken Kindle to open up the chance to revisit this book, for both story and pictures.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

view from north lot, first day of fall

Sunshine at last the morning after autumnal equinox, and the coulees begin to show their colour.

I'm still trying to figure out how to use this 24mm lens. It's obviously wider angle than a "normal" view, even on a cropped sensor camera like mine, but still I am not sure how to use it to best effect. Most of all, how to resist the cliche of "wow look at all the stuff I can cram into the view here". Must practice some more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Holy flaming merino tencel, batman!

flaming merino tencel, batman

next up, more fibre from a few years ago that I haven't touched yet. I do not even know why I picked out this color. I think it was the only color they had in this fibre blend, which is superwash merino tencel.

I had to look up Tencel on Wikipedia - apparently it is a subcategory of rayon, in that it is cellulose fibre from wood pulp. That always sounds kind of gross to me till I remind myself that wool is stuff shaved off a sheep. In any case, it gives the fibre itself an amazing sheen, which I suppose is part of what made it so hard to photograph, and I have heard that it also gives the resulting yarn strength, which would make is suitable for sock yarn. So far it has been a bit tricky to spin - it's much slipperier than the merino I had spun for the indigo socks, and with a shorter staple than the green Finn I'm spinning now for some undetermined purpose.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Indigo love

I have knit a lot of socks, but for some reason this is the most gratifying pair I have knit in a long time, because it's my first pair of handspun socks, and I'd been spinning for them for quite some time. Even if the yarn is not cushy soft like Malabrigo, etc, it still forms a beautifully strong, smooth feeling fabric. I love them. Love love love!

Indigo handspun socks

lying flat, their quirks are apparent, for instance the change in gauge caused the section above the ankle to be a bit narrower. But the 2 by 2 rib is quite forgiving, and certainly none of the quirks are visible or can be felt when worn.

Also fortunately, the thick yarn happened when I got to the heel for both socks.

unfilled handspun socks
fibre: 100% superwash merino, dyed by Lynn from Knitopia
needles: 2.5 mm Hiya Hiya dpn, from Julie

I suppose I should have some info about wpi or something like that but I have no idea. The thickness of yarn varied from heavy lace to sportweight. That's about all I can say about gauge. I love this pair and can hardly wait to spin more yarn for more socks.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

new lens

new lens, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
new to me, anyway. It's a used 24mm prime that will have to be manually metered and focused on my camera.  I am strangely enamored of the colorful coating on the lens. I don't have any other lenses that look like this at all, or else they're more recessed so I don't notice.

I haven't really tried it much yet, though. It's a wide-angle 24mm prime that I thought I'd use for landscapes and such, and the weather is currently so wretched I am not sure when I'll get it out next. If only September actually felt like September instead of November.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

If I can blame Julie for yarn...

I can blame Kateryn for this.

Really, I need another pen like I need more yarn. Or yoga books (including the newly acquired Yoga for Osteoporosis - I'll be reviewing this one at yogalila). But....

I really like the Lamy Safari fountain pens. They're relatively inexpensive, hardy, tough to break - I once accidentally flung one, uncapped, down the length of a school hallway, and once I recovered, it wrote just as reliably and smoothly as it did before its long skittering slide along the linoleum. I have two perfectly good Safaris, and don't really need another. Even if I knew one of the limited editions came in purple, I reminded myself sternly that I didn't need one.

Till I sat next to Kateryn at a judo tournament and she pulled out her purple Al-star. And showed me that it had an italic nib. And let me try it. It was all I could do not to shout "look over there! a monkey!" and make off with it at once. I did continue to covet it, but being a limited edition, it seemed no longer available. Until it mysteriously showed up again at JetPens.

The great thing about the Lamy Safari is its versatility - though you can use proprietary cartridges, you can also use a piston converter to allow for a wider variety of ink. And the relatively cheap nibs can be easily switched out, which is exactly what I did here, exchanging the nib for a 1.1mm italic. The colour is really quite hard to capture on camera - it's a bit bluer than what shows up here. But it's still awfully nice.

new pen

now, I know it is not suitable for true calligraphy - it's not really wide nor crisp enough for a lot of line variation, but that's exactly why I like it - it can be used for everyday writing if you so choose. It's smooth, easy to use, and gives your handwriting character, whether in italics or not.

quality of mercy

However, the main drawback for me is the triangular grip shown here. This forces your grip into a particular position relative to the nib, which is not problematic at all for a round nib. But I do find that it creates a constraint for me with an italic nib. I tend to angle the edge of an italic nib at 45 degrees, but with this grip, it makes better contact with the paper at 35. This doesn't seem like a lot, but it does affect the type of line variation you get, and the type of hand best suited to that angle. With any other italic nib I have, this isn't an issue since I can rotate the pen in my hand to get what I want. But the triangular Safari grip doesn't allow for those small, almost subconcious rotations.

But I still like it. For everyday writing, it's perfectly fine. However, I doubt I will get the wider nibs (they're available in 1.5 and 1.9 mm) that would otherwise be more suitable for calligraphy, as I think at that point, the inability to rotate the pen would start making me nuts. I don't think this would be an issue for everyone, and is likely particular to my own grip. And it's not really a problem at this particular width, and I look forward to getting plenty of use out of it.

(and anyway, it looks so very very cute next to the lime Safari):
I can quit any time, Loretta.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Easy there

Easy there, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

I just want to say how very much I miss these, moved out of the lab because we finished the experiments (during which subjects had to rest) and because the floor space needed to be reclaimed.

But I really, really, really miss them.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Winner of the Rhodia giveaway!

Thank you so much to everyone that entered and left a comment! The winner was drawn using the random number generator at, allowing the selection of a number between 1 and 27, ignoring my own comments. (can you tell I'm writing the methods section of a paper these days...)

The winner of the Webbie is commenter #22, stacy m. Congratulations, Stacy! please send me a note at limesally [at] gmail [dot] com with your mailing address within a week (ie, by next Sunday, Sept 12) to claim your Webbie. I hope you enjoy it!

Again, many thanks to everyone that came by. Keep an eye out for other giveaways, I know there are still some out there!

  stacy m said...
I would love a new webbie! I am just about finished filling up my current notebook and really really need a new one. Thanks for the chance!

indigo handspun socks

indigo handspun socks, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
as anticipated, these are coming out a bit quirky. I figured the thick-and-thinness of my handspun would even itself out at some point, but a sudden change in gauge resulted in a narrowing just above the ankle. Then suddenly I had all thick yarn for the heel, so I have a monstrously thick (albeit very cushy) heel.

I was completely wrong about having enough yarn for these already - my highly scientific method of estimation failed - so I've been spinning and plying more to make sure I can actually have toes for these socks. We've already had a light frost here in southern Alberta, so alas - closed toe shoes and socks are in the offing.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


achillea, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.

I don't know why I love this picture - there's sun flare and nothing is in focus, but I love the morning look of this unintentional field of yarrow that my husband leaves unmowed, despite its incursion into our lawn.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

end of the summer blues

end of the summer blues, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
finally! I got around to winding up the yarn I plied way back in January, and started a sock. It's lumpy, and gets thick and thin in spots, but really no worse than Noro. It's certainly not as soft as Malabrigo, but hey, what is.

It feels like I've been working on this for a very long time, and in fact I started spinning it way back the summer before last. I have two reasonably sized hanks of 2 ply, which I have very scientifically estimated to be close to sufficient because when I squish them in my hand they feel about the same size as a sock.

I'm still spinning this stuff, but not because I think I'll actually need it - it's just very portable and easy to pick up and spin a bit at a time, and I love watching the colours change as I spin - almost hypnotic.

August Creative experiments from Daisy Yellow

After getting completely derailed by holidays, end of the school year and more holidays, I'm trying to get back on track with Tammy's August creative experiments, which she posts monthly at Daisy Yellow.  It's not that I've been doing absolutely nothing creative in the interim, but what I love about her prompts is that they encourage me to move out of my comfort zone and try things it would never occur to me to do otherwise. For the summer, she's pared the list down from 12 to 6 items.

I'm sure nobody want so read my 8 minutes of stream-of-consciousness, nor my made-up story about the groceries of the person in front of me, but I can show these:

the month in 9 photographs:

August mosaic

somewhat annoyingly, this is in reverse chronological order and I couldn't persuade Flickrtoys to rearrange them, but otherwise, it's about the rainiest, coolest August I can remember here in southern Alberta, leading to green coulees all the way in August, prolific berries in the garden, and flowers that should have bloomed and withered a month ago. Ironically, to the west of us, BC is having hot, dry, forest fire weather, and blowing smoke 1000 kilometres east. I'm enjoying the quiet of the university campus before the students arrive in the fall, and a visit to a campus the next province over, with its residence towers shaped like grain elevators. But perhaps most importantly, we adopted a second dog, finding that two dogs isn't twice as much fun, it's more like fun squared, possibly even fun cubed.

I like working on lettering, but I often forget about doing it. I especially love Edward Gorey's macabre, scratchy hand. But on this day I wanted to work on classic Roman capitals, which are deceptively simple, and harder than it looks to get pleasing proportions. Unlike italic, the thick and thin parts of the line happen in unexpected places. I suppose if you were working with a hammer and chisel you'd have plenty of leeway in how you placed your thick-and-thins. Though I did this lettering back in August, I didn't take this picture of update this post till September - thus this isn't the actual pen I used; I actually used a Pelikan 400 fitted with a 0.7mm italic nib. But that's been emptied and put away since. Standing in is the Lamy italic, not exactly a body double, but there for scale.


We hardly ever have a full deck of cards around the house, but last week we happened to have one, just by virtue of this free deck we got from having volunteered at the casino a few weekends ago (the province deems that a portion of gambling profits goes to non-profits, charities, and clubs - so each club takes a turn doing volunteer work - bizarre I know).  We played hearts - I'm always struck at how elegant and medieval the face cards look, in contrast to the sheer cheeziness of the artwork in the back.

black queen

Tammy also asked us to think about this quote by Robert Bresson, "Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen."  could apply this to our lives? I did think about it - but I'm not sure I have an answer yet :) I did some original research, and am going to make a poster to present some of the results at a conference. I don't think that's really what she means, though.

Blogger - now eating gadgets

Is this happening to anyone else? All my gadgets (profile, archive, links etc) have disappeared from my sidebar, with just one (Coffeeshop) remaining. I tried replacing them yesterday, and they're gone again today. 

Anyone know why? I don't see anyone else having this problem at the help forum!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flamin' angel socks

I'm sure I've mentioned before that buying yarn doesn't count if you're on holiday, and it's even more justified if you buy local, support small businesses, and that businesswoman is your sister in law. And anyway who can really resist the lure of Malabrigo? Franklin Habit has amply demonstrated that it can't be done.

more Malabrigo, please

As if Malabrigo didn't already have enough stunning and seductive colours, even more have come out this fall. Of the two I got, Persia and Archangel, the Archangel is especially striking. It really seems glow. Ravelry lists this colorway as being in the purple family, and I guess it is, but I chose a skein with a greater proportion of orange, which shows up here.


Although Malabrigo sock is soft enough to use for scarves and shawls, I use socks more than either. I'm not really in the mood for a deeply thinky, chart-following sort of pattern, so I returned to the tried-and-true Waving Lace from Interweave's Favorite Socks book. I love knitting lace without having to read the chart, so this is perfect.

Waving lace sock

Malabrigo Sock is very soft and springy and to be perfectly honest, I am not sure how well it would hold up thrust ruthlessly into boots and walked on throughout the winter. I admit I still have not worn the Embossed leaves socks I knit last summer for this very reason. But winters are cold in Alberta, and I think I will maybe use these as bed socks - some warmth, plus a little ventilation for my menopausal feet :)

Tech specs:
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Archangel
Pattern: Waving Lace from Favorite Socks by Interweave Knits
Needle: 2.25mm Clover bamboo dpn

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rhodia Webnotebook version 3: even better than before + Giveaway!

(please note: the giveaway was drawn Sept 5 and the Webbie has been sent on to the winner)

I've already shown pictures of how beautifully this third version of the Rhodia webnotebook lies flat, and the gloriously clean and fresh look of the blank pages, devoid either of lines or logos.  I've now had the chance to test different pens, inks, and other pigmented items, and conclude that this newest version of the Webbie is equal to or better than its immediate predecessor, unless you really want or need lines.

Because this was a blank version, I wanted to test it for potential as an illustrated journal, and see what kind of media would work well in it. Given what we've seen from previous reviews, it works beautifully with fountain pen ink, providing crisp lines with no hint of feathering or bleedthrough. I couldn't resist adding my own logo to the bottom corner with a pigment marker, though.

verse from a translation by Diana Gilliland Wright, who blogs at the fascinating Surprised by Time - I am not sufficiently erudite to have known this verse on my own!

I'm less enamored of its use with colored pencil, however. I really like using watersoluble pencil, usually Derwent Inktense or some such, and the smooth crisp quality of the Webbie paper that makes it so wonderful for pen and ink makes it difficult to lay down layers of pencil.


More fountain pen ink, this time Iroshizuku Kon-Peki. Even tracing lines over a few times resulted in no bleeding. Sakura gelly rolls for color went on smoothly and beautifully.


Pencil for line drawing goes much better than colored pencil, and actually works very well. As long as you don't have to do a lot of shading or any other technique where you want a toothy paper to hold the graphite, all is well. The only problem I had is that it was somewhat difficult to erase unwanted lines.

Pigment pen ink (Sakura micron in this case) dries very quickly and you can put a watercolor wash on it fairly soon after the drawing.

Here are my two dogs - I do plan to enter text in here, thus all the white space. If I hadn't placed a sheet of paper under the right page, the faux manga drawings on the next page would have shown through. Despite being 90 g paper, there is still the possibility of some showthrough - the paper has a certain translucency to it. This is by no means an issue, just something I was a little surprised to see given the paper weight.


Pentel pocket brush pen, with Faber Castell brush pens for color. Again, everything goes down smoothly and easily. This paper is absolutely made for almost any kind of pen and ink.


Mandala in Sakura micron pigment pen - I haven't decided whether to colour this or not - I kind of like the starkness against the creamy ivory paper.


Neocolor ll crayons. I love these for their bright colors, which don't really resemble anything in nature but are a whole lot of fun, and easier to use on this particular paper than colored pencil.


I gave pencils another try. I did not really enjoy this. It seemed to be a lot of trouble getting layers of colour on, and I felt I had to press really hard, which embossed the page - and the next - more than I really liked.

black cherries

But all in all - unless you really, really want to use colored pencil - this would be a great notebook to use as an illustrated journal, or any kind of journal or project book. The pocket in the back is perfect for collecting ephemera or reference pictures or anything you might want to paste into the pages (fortunes from cookies? ticket stubs?) and the paper works beautifully with all sorts of pen, ink, and light watercolor washes - you wouldn't expect to do true watercolor techniques on this type of paper, but you can certainly add a splash of colour.

And now - if you've made it this far, thank you! as previously mentioned, I have a shrinkwrapped, brand new version 3 webbie to give away. Just leave a comment telling me why you would like one, and a random winner will be drawn an announced on Labour Day, Sept 6. I'll give you a week to get back to me with your snail address, and if I don't hear from you, I'll assume you've changed your mind and I'll draw another winner. Good luck!

also, if you've reviewed this v3 Webbie too, please let me know so I can add a link to your post. So far, the only one I know about for sure are Julie and Heather's - but I know there are more!

Other reviews:
Whatever - Julie/Okami
A Penchant for Paper - Heather