Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour

What were you doing between 8 - 9pm Eastern time last night (March 29th)?

"Wow, it's so dark out! That's cool..."

The Little Dudes and I participated in Earth Hour, doing our part by turning off all of our lights, and the TV/radio/computer etc., for a full hour. Doesn't sound like much? Well, every little bit counts, and the city of Toronto actually decreased it's power consumption by 8.7% during this hour. Although knitting by candle light isn't very efficient, I certainly did enjoy watching the stars come out in the night sky. My neighbourhood went quite dark, except for one lone house visible from my back yard, and as a result, the light pollution was very low. It was an interesting experiment, and it did make me think about what I can do to decrease my energy consumption at home...

What about you?

"I did my part! For a full hour I didn't run around all looney and weirdo-like, conserving my energy! Does that count?"

The above shot of the beginning of Laleli's first sleeve is proof that I can neither read, nor count. Because picking up and knitting ONE round, and knitting the first pattern round took nearly 3 hours. Because I read "127 stitches", and just took it to mean "each side". Because I didn't seem to think it was important to continue reading on, I missed the very important "total of 128 stitches". I just zipped right past that, deciding that if it says 128 in the same sentence, well it must mean pick up anther 128 stitches on the other side. Couldn't figure out why it just wasn't working out. Then I realized that I had in fact, had had a major brain fart because 260 stitches would make for uh, a pretty big armhole. Once I figured that out, I was then able to successfully pick up 127 stitches, plus the centre stitch for a TOTAL of 128 stitches (amazing what READING the pattern notes can achieve...). Not the first time I've picked up stitches for a Fair Isle sleeve, but you know...I also couldn't read or count yesterday.

Once I managed to do that, I of coursed messed up my colour symbols on the chart, couldn't tell the difference between right and left, forgot to turn the chart upside down, and by the time I did figure all of that out (again with the reading and counting) - I'd managed one round. I then realized - because I forgot once again to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS - I cut the wrong colour yarn for the next round and therefore joined in the wrong colour yarn. That's when I called it a day...

At least Columbia is going much better.

A couple more chart repeats, and I'll have completed the front.

Atticus would also like to thank all of his friends and admirers for all the good wishes and cyber-scritches. He's fine now - it was just a little reaction to the new wet food the vet has him on now, and thankfully not crystals.

And - guess who turned all of 9 years old last week?!

Baby Mae!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

All About the Cat

"So anyway, I told Gandalf that if he looked out the window long enough, he'd go cross-eyed! And he believed me! Oh, I know, but I'm just being the older brother, heh heh...oh, hi Mom."

"Why am I in a gym bag?? This isn't cool. Not cool at all. Why am I outside? And what are those SMELLS!??"

"OK Atticus. Breathe. Breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Oh...Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean..."

"I can't believe I fell for this... Go with your gut Atticus, go with your gut... But noooo, I have to fall for being picked up and petted and kissed on the head like it was my birthday or something. Now I'm stuck on this cold table with some lady probing my butt and telling me I have to watch my weight...yeah, watch this lady. And as for you, Mom... I'm so freakin' pissed off I could spit."

"If you think I'm going to forget this. Think again. I have a memory like you wouldn't. Believe. When you least exp....oh, hey! Is it dinner time? Cool!"

Finally. I had to resort to stuffing him into a gym bag, but it worked. Mister finally made it to his appointment, spitting mad. More bark than bite (he was actually spitting on the table), but in the end, he made it. Not as heavy as I'd expected (20.2 lbs, up from 19 lbs last time around), but all in all, in good health.

But, wouldn't you know it... He's been in the box every 10 minutes since last night. I'm praying it isn't crystals again, but judging by the way he's running around and playing master and commander with his toys (and Gandalf), he's *hopefully* just reacting to the senior food the vet has him on now. I'm going to be watching him closely to see what develops (or hopefully doesn't).

There is precious little on the knitting front. Thanks to everyone who gave me sock knitting tips, and especially to Bev who sent a few very simple patterns my way! I have to keep trying, seeing how I have a load of sock yarn that's not going to knit itself...

Now, wouldn't that be something if it could? Or at least started itself for me...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You may remember a certain kitty was scheduled for his annual check up. A certain kitty keeps getting reprieves. Last appointment we had, we were postponed (again) due to an accident involving a poor little Doberman (who did do fine). For once, Atticus was all for the dog.

"I'm what? "For" the what? Why? I mean, good news that the dog came through fine, but what does that have to do with me? "

Still clueless.

We try again next week.

Next week marks a special milestone for me. Now, normally I don't get too nostalgic when it comes to milestone dates (apart from birthdays and anniversaries), but this one is a special one for me. It'll be 10 years that I took my life back into my hands, and struck out on my own. With the support of friends, very little money and a whole lot of courage, I decided that life on my own terms was better than a life on my then husband's. I packed my bags, and never looked back. It was the most difficult, and the single best thing I could have ever done for myself. You never truly realize what life is all about until you take a good hard look into your potential future and remind yourself that you are worth more, and what are you going to do about it?

So, I moved into this apartment (I had so little that it took me an hour to "unpack"), and made a truly wonderful life for myself on my own terms. There have been ups, and downs, but I've learned so much about myself and my place in this world, it's been worth it all. I wouldn't change anything about it, despite the hard times.

I've gone from eating out of old Tupperware containers and borrowed cutlery to having a home, my freedom, my 3 bestest buddies, and life that is entirely my responsibility. Not to mention a killer stash...!

And the knowledge that sometimes you need a bit of pain and hardship in order to truly appreciate yourself, and your time here.

My 3 Bestest Buddies

On to something else!

Hey! Did I ever tell you how much I can't get my fingers around socks? I try! And, unlike lace, I have a stack of perfectly do-able patterns that I could possibly manage. Remember this?

My enthusiastic attempt at a top-down sock? Yeah, that didn't work out all that well. So, I figured, stick to what you've done in the past! So I unravelled my messy top-down, and am trying...again. When it comes to socks, I really have to STICK TO WHAT I KNOW. Sheesh. So they're plain stocking (which is probably why I always use variegated yarn) stitch. I do have a few nice toe-up patterns, but one sock at a time! It does after all take me months to knit a pair. I need to get a few more under my belt before I can attempt anything but the odd slip-stitch pattern.

Don't ask me how it is I can to a Fair Isle sleeve in the round on DPN's, and yet totally mess up a simple stocking stitched top-down sock. No clue. It's a me thing.

I mention the sock thing because I've spent a fair bit of time this past week trying to find a suitable sock pattern, ripping it out, crying, looking again for a suitable sock pattern, again ripping it out, crying, and then deciding that plain is best. This is the time of year when my hands become easily irritated by yarn, so I wasn't able to work on Columbia (back is done and front has been started), or even Endless Summer for that matter. Socks were therefore the project of choice for delicate hands.

Oh, and the other good thing about this upcoming week?

The First Day of Spring. Aaaaaah.....

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Snow. And A Winner!

What Gandalf thinks of the endless round of snowstorms... Can you blame the little guy?

That would be a (at least) 3' snowdrift resting on the flat roof of my neighbour's kitchen.

The little path on my deck I shovelled for myself this morning...


Spring is what? Eleven days away? Sure. OK.

*big sigh*

OK. On to more exciting stuff!

We have a WINNER! All the names went into a bowl, and one was chosen -

Chaos and Mayhem's Mom Chris!

And the chosen design? Kimberley, hands down. Thanks to EVERYONE who voted, wow, I received a lot of entries... And, it was great fun going through them all, and discovering some really cool blogs in the process.

I also want to thank you all for your advice on the neighbour situation. It is a sticky situation, and it seems to have settled itself for now. I've decided that I will look into getting a locked mailbox, as it seems to be the best solution. Although I really am hoping that it won't happen again, deep down inside, I don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling that it won't. So, instead of waiting for that to occur... May as well nip it now.

And this week in knitting...

Well, you may not believe it. Western Seas? The Never-Ending-Gansey-From-Hell? The body. Completed. Yes. Completed, including the collar. I did take a picture, but being navy blue, it just shows up as a big dark blob, so you'll have to take my word for it. And although I'm supposed to be knitting the Adult Petite size...this sucker is HUGE. Because my tension - WAY off. A whole 3 sts per 4" off at the top. Not sure why. Oh wait, yes I do. The tension when I started was spot on. I, uh, must have "loosened" up as I progressed along...that's what you get for knitting a gajillion stocking stitches in spurts over *cough* two years *cough cough*. But, I have more than enough yarn to finish the entire sweater. And I really, really don't want to know how tightly you'd have to knit this gansey yarn to get the finished fabric any denser than it already is. Besides, it was meant as an outdoor sweater... Oh well.

The sleeves. Oh right, I still have to do those... Wait for 'em.

Hey! Laleli has a completed body!

Tension on this baby is EXACTLY as it should be. Now on to finish Delores' body. And you know... with all this snow, I hope you'll understand why I felt the need (despite my other WIP's, oh shut up!) to start this:

"Endless Summer" from Fiddlesticks Knitting, in a yummy, warm green that's actually a bit "greener" than it appears in the picture, with blue accents. AND - it's lace. But never fear! Fiddlesticks Knitting charts are Lousy-Lace-Knitter-Brigitte proof! She takes the guess work and the head scratching decrease/increase calculations out of my dorky lace hands, and tells you exactly when, where and how much to work. Ah, it makes me feel good just to look at it...

So, I leave you with this, to hopefully inspire you to keep shovelling and slip sliddin' away, knowing that spring cannot be too long off...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Long Post But Worth It!

Someone put up such a fight on Friday, we didn't make it to the V-E-T.

"Go. Away."

I gave up after one scratch, a few kicks, and a tinkle or two.

So we try again in a week. I need a new strategy.

(Oh, and please bear with me through this looooong post. It'll be worth it in the end!)

We have updates! It's been awhile since I showed off some of them, which doesn't mean I have been neglecting them - just neglecting to update you on them.


Mmmmm...Laleli. I had hoped to have the body completed, and I'm around 10 rounds short of that. It WILL be completed today!

Once I've done that, I want to finish Delores' body. Then I can work the sleeves on both, and the button bands. I was pleasantly surprised (more like a "right on!") when I realized that I have around 15 rounds left until I start the armhole shaping. It seems kind of short... but then I remembered that the buttonband continues all the way around to hem the body. Now that is going to be a LONG, LONG knit... Oh well... Probably shouldn't get too ahead of myself.

And a new kid on the block! I alluded to her briefly last week.

"Lalalalala...oh, a pointy thing...lalalalalalala...I wonder if playing with it would have the same outcome as "running with scissors" Mom always tells me not to do?...Hey! Wait a minute! Hey! Are you taking a picture? Wha' the..."

This would be Columbia, from the Starmore book "American Portraits". I did have a picture of the lower edge of Columbia last week , however I wasn't too happy with how it came out, so I didn't post it... This is much better. I'm using some of the Jamiesons Aran I just stocked up on - this is the "Chartreuse" colour - and it's perfect for this design.

Oh...and my little Nordic Sweetheart hat? Um. I kind of forgot to block her... Got caught up in other stuff and she remained unblocked (although not unloved!). But, I WILL block her today. Yessiree.

What Would You Have Done?

OK. Bear with through this.

I'm really fortunate that I live in a great apartment, in a very nice area of town, close to everything, and painless to get to and from work downtown. It's my home, the longest I've lived anywhere in my life, and has been my home for almost 10 years. I've always had wonderful neighbours. And I still do. My neighbour in the apartment downstairs is great; she's always been considerate, and besides - she has a cute dog! She's not the issue. The issue is her adopted sister, who lives with her.

Now, she's also very quiet for the most part, works hard (the girl gets up at 4:30am everyday for work) - and has special needs (she was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome).

However. There was a time last spring or early summer where I went a period of time where I received no mail. I asked next door to see if it had maybe been delivered to the wrong house, and it hadn't. I had my suspicions that the sister may have taken it (Lorraine, remember me telling you about that?), but I thought - nah, that's just paranoid. And besides, after a couple of weeks or so, it again started showing up, and I received a pile in one day. And that was that. The odd time I would find some of my stuff in the flyers pile next to the door to be recycled, but didn't think much of it. Then, about a month or so ago, I got home from work and went to put my newspaper in the recycle bin, and found some mail addressed to me in the bin! It was my book club catalogue, and although annoyed - I didn't say anything; I just didn't think about bringing it up. About 2 weeks ago, I came home and found one of my magazines thrown on the lawn, in a spot where the wind could not have blown it. I have a big front porch that's pretty much protected from the wind due to the construction, and even if it had been windy - no way it could have been blown there.

Now for this past week. A week this past Friday, a couple of people at work who live in the same neighbourhood as I do told me that they had received their T4 slips in the mail (for non-Canadians - this is the summary of your previous years' income that your employer puts together for filing your taxes). I figured - cool, I should be getting mine. Nothing came on the Friday. I was a bit concerned, I figured by Monday for sure it would be there. I got home from work, and there was NO mail for me. I had a sneaking suspicion... The recycle bins were by the side of road for our next day pick up, so I went over to have a look.

And what do you think I found in the recycle bin? A magazine, my KnitPicks catalogue, my cell phone bill. And my T4 slip.

I was LIVID. Rumaged through the bin, and didn't find anything else.

Went into the house, calmed myself down, and called my neighbour downstairs. I talked to her for a good while, and she herself was not impressed that her sister had been doing it (because we both knew it was her). To her defence, she made no excuses for this behaviour. And she confirmed that she had placed my mail that morning by my door - so she knew it had arrived that day. She said it was her sister's "passive-aggressive" mind, and once she gets a bee in her bonnet, she obsesses over it. Now, I was very nice about the whole situation - I like her, and she's always been a good neighbour. She said she'd talk to her about it, and she did. I understand completely about her sister - I know she has special needs. She's had a rough go of it (their adoptive mother is a saint for having raised her to the level she's at), and her way of thinking is not like yours and mine.

I'm not a vindictive person, I'm very much someone who can look at the big picture in a situation like this and say - what's it worth? Sure, it's my mail, my IMPORTANT mail, but I trust it won't happen again. Oh, and WHY did she do it? She said I make noise. ??? Which I dismiss out of hand, as my neighbour has told me that this is the first time she's lived outside her mother's house, and doesn't understand the concept of daily activity. She takes it personally.

Now. Sure I have 3 cats, but they are 95% of the time very quiet. If Gandalf and Atticus roughhouse, it never lasts more than 15 - 20 minutes at most. And - this is an old house, built in 1892. The hardwood floors are old and creaky. It apparently bothers her to hear this noise. Well, as I told my neighbour - if she can't understand that walking around will make the floors creak in spots, she may not be ready to live outside her mother's house. It's life - and it's going to happen. I will say - I am a quiet person, I'm very considerate, and after all, I've lived here for 10 years in perfect harmony and NO problems or complaints with others below me. And our mailman? It's been the same guy for the past 6 years. It's not him.

Anyway. I'm going on, and you get the picture.

If it happens again, my options are to call the owner, which I'm reluctant to do at this point because it would result most certainly in both of them being evicted (they are NOT on good terms with the owner), and to report this as mail theft to the police. I am on very good terms with the owner - after all, I've been an excellent tenant for 10 years, and her parents who owned the house prior to her taking it over, were wonderful people and very good to me.

Being the person that I am, I'm not keen on either option. But, at what point do I kick my tolerance level aside, and do what is well within my rights to do? If it happens again...

They are walking on eggshells right now, and deep down inside I'm not convinced it won't happen again. I understand my neighbour's sister has special needs, which is why I'm giving her this second chance.

Should I have given her a second chance? Or should I have just told the owner of what's been happening, and let her deal with them?

Anyway, thanks for lending an ear...

Moving on to more exciting stuff!


I swapped some Campion in my stash with a lovely lady on Ravelry for some Dunedin she had hibernating. I now have 15 skeins of lovely Dunedin in Mulberry.

Mmmmm, nice... Notice how someone keeps injecting himself into *every* picture I try to take...

Your mission. What should I make with it? Because I can't decide.

Here are your choices (the links are to projects on Ravelry):

1. Elizabeth of York, from "Tudor Roses",
2. Kimberley, from "A Collector's Item's",
3. Spanish Knight, from "A Collector's Item".

Send me an e-mail (bdepocas at rogers dot com), giving me your choice, and very importantly - why. Or, leave it in the comments. If you do leave your choice in the comments, be sure to include your e-mail address! Blogger doesn't record it unless you put it in.

Which ever gets the most votes becomes my Dunedin project, and from those who nominated the winning design, a winner will be chosen.

Contest closes at midnight, Saturday, March 8th, and the winner will be announced next Sunday.

And you will win a most fabulous winter pick me up box with some of my favourite comfort foods, yarn and other fun stuff!

Anyone, anywhere is eligible! Just remember to include your e-mail address.

Thanks again for listening!