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.