Sunday, February 28, 2010

Canadian Komi Mittens on closing day

On the last day of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, I've finished the Komi mittens that were begun on the opening weekend. I bound off before the puck dropped on the gold medal match between Canada and US in men’s hockey. I knew there was no way I could focus on colorwork while the game was actually on.

The Ravelympics mittens cheer on Canada during the Gold Medal match. They were very nervous. Team USA is very strong and showed their ability to beat Team Canada just last Sunday.
Go Canada!

The mittens are starting to wilt under pressure as the US narrows the lead.
Ravelympics mittens, second period

Ravelympics mittens celebrate!

the mittens nearly became unravelled at the stunning US goal in the last 25 seconds that forced the game into overtime. If the mittens could have hidden behind mittens, they would have, because TeamUSA had such great momentum it looked like it would sweep them to a win. Then Canada scored and the mittens are head over heels with joy and relief!
The mittens felt bad that there could be only one winner. It was an absolutely phenomenal game and could have gone either way.

The mittens relaxing happily:
Canadian Komi mittens

So relaxed, they don't mind showing their backside:

Canadian Komi mittens

If one looks more white or red than the other, that's because I experimented with which colour was held in front. For me, the colour carried in front is more prominent. There were a few modifications: I shortened both the hand and thumb by just a few rows, and used a half-wick decrease instead because I prefer the appearance. Otherwise, knit just as written.
I love these mittens and will be making more. For now, though, they're a memory of the best Winter Olympics I have ever seen, even more exciting since it took place in my hometown and home province.

Knit for Ravelympics2010 between Feb 14-28 2010.
Pattern: #18 from Charlene Schurch's Mostly Mittens from the Komi tradition
Yarn: red and white Tove
needles: 2.25mm Clover Bamboo dpn's

Ravelry project page

Friday, February 26, 2010

warmer on the home front

Really, if I had to wake up to one more cold, grey morning I was going to scream, and the magical wonder of ice fog and hoarfrost was getting really, really old. But as tired as I am of the winter monotony, I am even more tired of whining about it. So I took a little time downtown with my camera while the kids were at piano lessons.

dominion fruit

Like most towns, Lethbridge has its share of abandoned buildings: this is the old Dominion Fruit warehouse which, in the 23 years I've lived here, hasn't shown a sign of life. Which makes me wonder: who keeps that mailbox so shiny and white? Is stuff actually being delivered to that mailbox? And since we know that nothing really comes to mailboxes anymore but bills, who's paying them? That is almost a short story waiting to be written.

no fruit here

The incredibly decrepit old loading docks of the same warehouse. (hmm, I didn't realize till now that I composed the last two pictures in almost the exact same way. I will try for more originality next time).

Some blocks down, the weather-beaten sign of one of the downtown restaurants, one of the first that my new friends took me to when I first moved here, and for a long time the place we went after softball and soccer games. Despite many more restaurants opening in town since, it still seems to be holding its own.


and just around the corner, the abandoned Paramount theatre. Pretty much, there are no freestanding theatres here anymore and I suspect that's the same in any town. It's Cineplex or die. I think the last movie we saw here was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and I remember the children being very impressed by the red velvet seats and curtains. I have no idea what's in store for it now.


and something to smile about at the end of the day's errands. I am full of envy. Who doesn't want a dog that can pull a cart?  Who doesn't want dogs that will ride in that cart?
a friend indeed

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lost and found

messy perspective

a while back, I tweeted that I had misplaced the little notebook I carry with me, and was a little discomfited to realize I had left it in church. It's not that it's full of anything incriminating, aside from evidence that I draw in church. The most sensitive financial information it contains is how much allowance I owe my children, and the only really personal information therein are phone numbers of my book club and family. It was nice to get it back, though it made me realize that

1) wow, I am boring. My most personal notebook, and I have NO SECRETS. That's kind of sad, in a way. I should have at least felt a thrill of apprehension. The most embarrassing thing a stranger could discover is that I draw crooked.

2) I'm quite attached to my notebooks. I wasn't that upset about this particular volume, because it's fairly new and I haven't done much in it yet. But, as it starts to accumulate more content and reflect what I've been doing, it becomes very much a record of my daily life, boring or not. Probably, I'd be more upset if I lost it today, because I did get a few more things in it yesterday when we headed up to Calgary to apply for passports:

Lucky number, 2

Lucky number, 1

This particular volume is a pocket sized Quo Vadis Habana. This small version has cream colored 64 gm paper, which is beautifully smooth for pen - any kind of pen, from markers to gel pens to fountain pens. However it is very thin, and you can easily see writing not just on the other side of the sheet, but all the way through a sheet; in the passport office sketch you can see both the church drawing and the passport application drawing. That doesn't bother me all the time, but it's certainly a consideration when I'm trying to decide how I want to use a page. I am looking forward to continuing to keep it close and not abandon it again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On the fast track

The family has been sick this rather grey frosty long weekend, but that meant lots of time to work on these mittens. These are the successors to the now-frogged blue and yellow mitt from the previous post, but from the same book. With the same yarn, on larger needles and a lower stitch count, these are a much better size for me. Of course, now I feel slightly guilty and I will probably start another pair in a flamboyant yellow and royal blue - Ukrainian colours - for one of my children.

Komi mittens for Ravelympics
I love knitting colorwork. And I love this type of pattern, the kind that comes out looking quite complex but really is not that difficult - there's only two colours, and the pattern is based on stitch counts of 1, 3, and 5 in quite orderly seqeunces. I've finished the thumb gore, so now it's a straight track for a while till I get to the fingertip decreases.

Pattern detail:
Komi mittens

I'm glad I got this much done this weekend. Things will slow right down now, as I'm heading back to work and will be having busy evenings as well as days. But I'm glad to have settled into a comfortable pattern that I can easily pick up and work on even just a few rows at a time.

Pattern: Komi mittens #18, from Charlene Schurch's Mostly Mittens
yarn: Sandgarn Tove
needles: size 1 clover bamboo
more deets at Ravelry 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

False start

False start, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I'm knitting a colorwork mitten for Ravelympics2010. This is mitten #8 from my newly arrived "Mostly Mittens" by Charlene Schurch, containing mittens from the Komi tradition. These are "entered" under the Nordic Colorwork Combined  and Mitten Moguls events.

However, even on size 0 needles this is going to be too big. I thought I could get away with sport weight yarn - it's not that far off the fingering weight that the pattern calls for,  but I really can't. I love this yarn - Sandgarn Tove. I've used it for my all-time favorite mittens, Maimu's mitts, and it just has the right "stick" to hold together and felt slightly during wear. 

I could modify the stitch numbers but as it turns out I hate this colour combination anyway. So I'm ripping it out and starting again with new colours and a different mitten with a lower stitch count.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Guilt-free book list

In a recent discussion with my fellow yogalilans,   a few remarked sadly that they were immersed deep in academia and didn't have time to read fiction.  For a little while, I felt a bit guilty because I wasn't saying the same thing - but, I can't help but read fiction, no matter how busy I am. I need it because there's a point where my academic brain just puts down its toys and refuses to play anymore. Or, because its tying itself up in knots and going nowhere fast - I almost need to read fiction, or draw, or knit, or paint, just to break it out of its unproductive pattern. 
I love talking about books, and am fortunate to be part of a wonderful reading group.  We've been together for nine years - long enough to actually see babies grow to be readers themselves. But I love talking about reading, so if anyone else throws out a few questions, like Tammy recently did at Daisy Yellow - well, I'm all over that!
  1. What is on your reading list for 2010?  
  2. Do you keep track of the books you read? 
  3. How many books (fiction + non-fiction) do you read each year?  
  4. Has the number of books per year increased or decreased over the last 5 years?  
  5. Do you read more than one book at once? 
  6. Do you read more fiction or non-fiction? 

portable pile o' tinder

I'm slowly working on the books above, except for Quo Vadis.  I had already read an old library copy over the Christmas holidays, but bought a new copy and modern translation for my husband.

Fiction, hard copy:

The Blythes are Quoted, Lucy Maud Montgomery
Whiteoaks of Jalna, Mazo de la Roche
Finch's Fortune, Mazo de la Roche
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
The Outlander, Gillian Anderson

Fiction, on the Kindle:
note - I'm one of those excited Canadians who jumped on this almost as soon as it became available up here. We really only have two choices, this one and Sony. Would I have still bought it after the Amazon/Macmillan debacle? It's likely, given the current lack of players in the Canadian market.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett
Espresso Tales, Alexander McCall Smith
The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
Anne of the Island, Lucy Maud Montgomery

What it is, Lynda Barry
Yoga for Pain Relief, Kelly McGonigal
Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama

That's a very modest list. But enough for me, and it could well take me into summer.

To answer the rest of Tammy's questions:

2. I sporadically keep a reading journal. I should keep it up. I was trying to explain to someone a while back why I couldn't finish Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl, and had a hard time remembering why. Then I  found my journal, in which I wrote. "...and the idea of the obese, gout-ridden Henry VIII as the love interest was just not doing it for me".  Oh yeah, that's why.

3. I have no idea. I don't always finish what I've started. And as for non-fiction, I almost never read those all the way through - I often use them as references, in which case I read some parts over and over again, and the rest, never.  Also I don't think it counts that I sometimes pick up a well-loved book (eg. Pride and Prejudice) and read bits of it again.

4. Definitely decreased since I went back to university.

5. I'm incapable of reading one book at a time.

6. See #3 :)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Looking back: January Experiments

Looking for inspiration for the Creative Every Day challenge, I turned to some of the experiments suggested by Tammy at Daisy Yellow. As suggested, I noted down the ones I wanted to work on, and kept a list for myself to check off in one of my sketchbooks. From the main list, I chose:

  •  Develop a mind map on any topic
  •  Play a card or board game with other real people  (on-line doesn't count)
  •  Read 1 book just for you, not for school/work
  •  Alter a recipe you frequently make
  •  Attend a brainstorming group or book club meeting
  • Do something creative at a library, book store, cafe or restaurant (i.e. knit, draw, write)
  • Write/Update/Make Progress on a 101 Things in 1001 Days List 
  • Create one art journal page, from background to journaling 
It actually looks like I did okay managing to cross off a number of items, but in reality, half of them are already regular habits that were fairly easy to continue - reading, going to book club, writing/knitting/drawing while waiting at the library or restaurant. I only had partial success at the ones that were really quite new to me.

It should have been easy to play a real card/board game with my kids, as they often ask to do so, but somehow this one slipped by undone. I also didn't get around to purposely altering a recipe, though I did inadvertently and absentmindedly dump some ketchup instead of chili sauce into the chili. I don't really think that counts and besides it tasted funny.  And although I did the background of an art journal page, it pretty much just stayed a background. On the other hand, there's nothing to stop me from continuing to work on it through February (or March, or....). Also, I enjoyed working on the mind map. I do these once in a while anyway, often when problem solving or preparing to write a paper, and in fact this time around I used it to help start compiling my list of 101 things.

I also found I learned something from the ones I set out to avoid, just by fact of avoiding them:
  • Write down a quote and share it with a friend
  • Make or update an inspiration board for your home/ studio
  • make and send  handmade card
  • Gesso a piece of art and start over again
The first three made me realize how reticent I am about sharing anything I do in terms of art and creativity. For instance, I kept trying to visualize myself sharing something inspirational with someone around me - my husband, my lab mate, even one of my girlfriends. Even in my imagination, it still felt like...oversharing. I'm not really sure what that means, but it's something I'll continue to think about for the next while. 

As for the gesso, I still don't really know what that stuff  is! I suppose that leads nicely into one of the February experiments, though: watch an art tutorial on YouTube. That should help.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


emerge, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
This is what home looks like today. I see this train trestle bridge, the longest and highest of its kind in North America  the world nearly every day, but it's hardly ever wrapped in ice fog like this. It's been a strange winter. We're officially semi-desert, but this year the air has been full of ice and hoarfrost.

This is was minimally processed in Lightroom to correct exposure (camera meters seem to HATE fog) and increase contrast - but the colors are pretty true. We are living in a near-monochromatic world these days.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Askew: a little perspective

Askew, originally uploaded by Sophie_vf.
I have had an urge to practice drawing perspective, something which is always a bit of a struggle for me. I know that "real" art books have you pulling out straight edges and t- squares and identifying the vanishing point and I am sure that it does indeed serve a useful purpose.

But most of my drawing is done in a little notebook balanced on my knee or the car door. I often draw the street and surrounding buildings while waiting for my children to get out of school. But I am not confident enough yet to post any of those awkward, askew, distorted perspective drawings.  Granted, these are not super-favorable conditions for drawing - my hand can't really rest on anything, and I often find the line going this way when I'm trying to make it go that way. But that's where and how I like do draw, on the spot, and having fun with the spontaneous process.

So that's my goal, if I can be said to have one - practice drawing something in perspective each day in February. Hopefully I'll have something postable by March.