Monday, May 31, 2010

Treasuring my Purls

Up until the last month of so, I have loathed purling (the reverse side/stitch of knit stitch, for those of you not in the know).  It seemed so slow, and more work than the knit stitch.  In truth, there is more finger/hand action for me with the purl stitch.  So why am I suddenly warming up to, nee, loving the purl?  It's simple - the right thickness (weight) and type of yarn.  I seem to have an easy time working the purl stitch with heavier yarns, like the 5-ply, worsted, tightly-twisted QED BFL yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon (which I have mentioned a few times before, in previous posts).  My fingers just seem to know what to feel for and do with a thicker yarn.  So I can knit almost a whole row of 250 stitches or so without looking at my work.  Why is this useful?  Well, say I am watching an interesting movie that has subtitles.  The more I can pay attention to the screen and not my knitting, the less of the text I'll miss.

Oddly enough, the knit stitches still require more attention - the fingers don't have that action of finding and knitting without my eyes as guidance.  Dang.

On the dyeing-for-the-fibre-festival front, I must admit to getting tired of it already, and I still have eighteen days to finish.  The weekend dye-time is good, and I have decent energy and enthusiasm for it.  The weekday evenings however, are when I just want to curl up with my knitting, after a busy day of being a mother.

Did I mention how impatient I am for my time off in July...?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pagan Values Month

I came across this post today from the Pagan Values blog, via another Pagan blogger:

International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month June 2010


"Once again we are nearing the June Solstice.
The Sun is nearing its height in the Northern Hemisphere and nearly hidden from view in the Southern Hemisphere.  Midsummer and Yule, festivals of fire and of light.  Times to exuberantly celebrate all that makes life bright and wonderful, and to light our personal and familial candles and hearth fires of our inspiration and nourishment in celebration of our beloved living.
Once more I issue a Challenge and a Call to my fellow Pagans, of every Pagan faith and path, to join me in blogging about Pagan Values in the month of June.
I invite you to share those Values and Virtues and Ethics and Ideals that you have found within whatever your Paganism is.  How do you carry these jewels out into the world, thus enriching it and yourself, in your daily lives?    What has living your Values taught you?  How have the Ethics or Ideals of your particular Paganism challenged you?  What have you discovered about yourself in your relationships with the Gods, and the world around you, and with the Ancestors, and with the Spirits of the World around you – however your individual Pagan path defines these things?
Yours in Peace and Curiosity,
Pax, your editor

IF you would like to take part in the 2010 International Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month there are several ways to participate!

Before June: Spread the word about the project!
If you think you’d like to participate leave a comment in the comments section of this message with a link to your blog or site.  (and direct folks here so they can find out more and let your erstwhile editor know if they are interested)
Think, pre-write and meditate on the topic, it can sometimes be surprising difficult to articulate ones deepest feelings and instincts especially on such heartfelt topics!
Feel free to ask questions and share ideas!
During June:
Once you have posted your blog post or uploaded your episode you leave a comment, or another comment, in the comments section of this post linking not only to your blog or site, but to the specific post or episode!
Feel free to sign onto delicious and, or if you are already on delicious, to tag your post (or one in the event you particularly like) with the tag  “metapagan.values” to not only help archive valuable Pagan writings and share them with others, but to also aid your editor in his chosen task!
For ease of research for future generations of Pagans, the suggestion has been made to use, or also use, a standardized tag “PVE2010” for Pagan Values Event 2010  across the many article and information sharing social networking sites.  Please do!
The Pagan Values Blog will then begin creating an index of contributions, similar to the one created for the 2009 event.
Some blog posts will be asked permission to re-post in their entirety (with appropriate byline and copyright information) on the Pagan Values Blog.
SADLY, the Pagan Values Blog does not (at present) have the capability of similarly archiving/re-posting podcast episodes.  We will however be asking select podcaster participants (whose contributions will be linked to both in the index and in individual entries on the Pagan Values Blog) the opportunity to post a written piece to the Blog either summarizing or expanding on their chosen topic.
After June:
Enjoy reading, and blogging and podcasting about the contributions, and discussing them with your friends and communities!
PLEASE NOTE: Should your everyday life interfere with your intention to post or record your contribution in JUNE, the cut-off criteria will be if you posted your intent before the end of June 2010!"

I think I may participate, in a small way, by contributing a few blog posts during June, on this subject.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Flinging the Balls

of yarn, that is - get your mind out of the gutter!

It has been a while since I've posted.  The inspiration to blog comes in clumps.  However, I thought it would be good to update some knitting progress.  Oh!  Speaking of knitting progress, you may have noticed that I now have a "Knitting Projects Progress" section in the sidebar, courtesy of Ravelry.com.  The two pieces that I'm having to focus exclusively on right now are the purple Estelle Cardigan and the Banba Green Gables Tee.  Why?  Well, I hope to have them ready for the Victoria Fibre Festival weekend, where I would like to wear the green Tee (pun not intended) for the fashion show on Friday, June 18th, and the purple cardigan for the Sunday Market at Saxe Point on the 20th of June.  Both are moving along okay.  The Estelle cardigan is very good - well written, and not too difficult.  I moved through the lace/flower pattern at the yoke with ease, and divided the sleeves and am now working on the body, in stockinette.  The only problem I'm encountering is the yarn.  It's QED (which I love), but since it's hand-dyed in a dark purple semi-solid, and from two different batches, the eight skeins are not the same.  So I'm having to juggle a lot between lighter and darker skeins and yet also try not to have such extremes in light and dark in the knitting as to look odd and/or stripey.
Which is a pity, because as the only issue with the knitting, it makes the knitting process not as much fun.

The other top is another top-down piece, in the round and knit with a heavy sport/DK hand-dyed (my own Gaia's Colours Pales DK Fluffy) in the pale sage green "Banba".  After having a wee challenge with the designer's choice of cast-on edge, I moved forward without issue.  The top has a small front panel of lace along the top chest area, and is stockinette for the body, with short sleeves.  I'm not thrilled with the circular needles I am using (Hiya Hiya interchangables) and would prefer to use an Addi Turbo circ, but don't have that size/length.  Other than that, it's moving along fine, though a little slow and a bit boring.  I'm really pleased with how my hand-dyed subtle-solid is knitting up - very pretty!

This week I've been catching up on emails, including messages to friends and acquaintances that I don't speak to often.  One such acquaintance I knew back in my one year of theatre school in Calgary, AB.  It brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad.  It also brought back the music that I listened to during that time - namely Tori Amos' "Under The Pink", Depeche Mode's "Songs of Faith and Devotion", and Pearl Jam's "Ten".  I also fell in love with the 19th Century Polish composer Frederic Chopin and his vast piano pieces.

I find it fascinating how certain things are often associated with memories - like scents, of course, and yes, music.  Books can be too, and even TV shows and films.  I now link knitting to the path of memory - what I was knitting when a certain event occurred.  Or linking what I was watching, reading or listening to when I was knitting a certain piece.  I recall Brenda Dayne of the Cast On podcast mentioned this idea - what we are surrounded by when we are knitting becomes a part of the woven cloth.  I love this idea.

Just a brief piece of musing today, as I've a dinner out to prepare for.  This post is also the first to be created on my new studio computer.  It's not brand new, but a fairly new, hand-me-down from my husband.  It's about a thousand times faster than the outdated laptop I previously used, so I'm pretty pleased thus far.

Hoping your spring weekend is sunnier and warmer than the gray West Coast one today outside my window...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dancing in my Head

While I've been standing over steaming dye pots in this last week, or winding yarn into dyeable skeins, my mind has been far away in Scotland.

I've been daydreaming about my story, keeping open to the Muses as the ideas flow in.  The story is building, bit by bit, though the opening still remains a mystery.  My main characters also need their back-stories.   I've also been jotting the ideas of various scenes onto 3x5 cards (think recipe cards), as seems to be common amongst screenwriters.  Once I get enough of these ideas solidly in place, I will start to write it all down in rough blocks of prose.  After enough of that is completed, I can actually put it into screenplay format.  Screenplay format?

Oh, yes, there is a very strict format for screenplays.  And if a wannabe screenwriter doesn't turn a script in with the specific formatting, it won't get looked at.  It's like learning a new language, like HTML, in this case, a new way to write/format.  I tried it, a little, but I have such an unclear idea of both the specific dialogue and the new format, that it was very short lived.  It's fun though, have the screenwriting program on my computer, just waiting for me to be ready with knowledge on how to use and abuse it, and with a full story to attach it to.

In case the impatience doesn't come through, it's here.  Along with the impatience for my summer time-off to come, and my work at the GC dye studio to be done.  I'm ready for time off now!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Buzzing!

Inspiration came today.  But in the form of actual ideas!

You see, in the wake of needing to think seriously on screenplays due to this online course I'm involved in, I've been in brainstorming-mode.  But in a no-pressure way.  It was more like active daydreaming today.  And because I approached it in a relaxed mind-frame, the ideas came in plenty!

So now I can actually put pen to paper - well, fingers to computer keys, more like - and get as many of the ideas out into solid form as possible.  The order doesn't matter, as there will be time to sort and edit later.  In brainstorming-mode, one doesn't edit.

I'm pretty excited about this - I was wondering about what sort of story this was going to be when I couldn't think of more than a couple of scenes.  The scenes presenting themselves now, and I need to be alert for the visuals appearing.  That's the other thing - keeping it visual.  One of the books I have mentions the importance of seeing the story unfold, as if on a screen.  Screenwriters have to think visually.  Being a very visual person myself (having detailed, clear dreams almost every night helps), this will probably be easy.

Eep!  This is feeling a tiny bit more real.  Where will it go, I wonder?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Walking into Madness

Otherwise known as "Overcommited, part III".

Because I didn't have enough to do in the next month, I foolishly signed up for a Screenwriting Basics course through the Writer's University.  I was planning on waiting until the summer.  What was I thinking?  Clearly I wasn't.

So let's break this down in what I have commited to over the next month:
  • The Victoria Fibre Fest, in form of teaching a dye class, sponsoring the fashion show, needing to have two knitted tops (one cardigan, one t-shirt) completed for the June 18th-20th weekend, and participating in the Market day at Saxe Point on the 20th.
  • Dyeing and swatching before the end of May for the Harry Potter House Cup "Ancient Runes" class (may not happen in time).
  • Needing to wind and dye as much yarn and spinning fibre as I can from now until the 18th of June.
  • Somehow doing some reading/learning for this Screenwriting class.
And yes, doing my usual daytime job of being a full-time mom.

Yeah, I know.  Madness.

But as I was winding yarn (yet again) tonight, I decided I'm not going to let this drive me batty.  I'm not going to create more pressure and expectations for myself over this next month.  I'm going to do what I can with the time and energy I have and not drive myself into the ground.  The exhaustion and emotional stress just isn't worth it.  If I don't have mounds of yarn and fibre dyed and ready for the Market Day, so be it.  There is only so much time in the day.

I'm going to attempt to be Zen about this.  It's late spring, after all, and I love this time of year.  I'm going to do my best to enjoy it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On Dreams

Sometimes I wish I could live in the world of my dreams.

Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful and happy with my waking life.  I married a lovely man, who is patient, hard-working, loving, very tolerant of my oddities, and a wonderful father to our two boys.  And yes, my two sons - darlings in their own ways.  Absolute joys and challenges and yes, very much boys.  We have a great little house (rent, not own - oh, well), with a huge, wild yard that I love more than is likely good for me.  We live in a lovely not-too-big city, surrounded by forests, mountains and the sea.  We are very near to several grandparents who adore our boys and regularly take them off our hands when needed.  We have enough income to live well, eat well and indulge in pursuing our personal hobbies and passions.  I also get to do many things I love - knit, spin, weave, dye and sell fibre for the pleasure of others, and garden.  Really, things are very good.

So why do I often long for the realm of dreams?  I don't mean living in a world of all sorts of dreams, but of particular dreams, particular scenarios that really appeal to me, that have a strong emotional connection, usually to a particular person.  I will admit it - usually it's a love story that I, or the character I embody in the dream, am wrapped up in.  The person of my passion in the dreams is rarely one that I know in the waking world.  Sometimes it's a celebrity (hey, we all do that, yeah?), but most often it's an unknown male.  Strange, no?  Why does my subconscious create these love stories?  Is it that I'm a sucker for romantic movies?  Is it that I am a married woman whose imagination loves to wander and wonder about other romantic possibilities, for myself, or for imaginary female characters?  Hm, likely both.  Mind you, I have had these sorts of dreams since my teen years, before I was a "taken" woman, and often during my swingin' single bachelorette years.  So the married thing might not be the only reason.

I suspect that because I am an emotional person, one who keeps her feeling very close to the surface, I often become emotionally invested in things easily and quickly.  It's part of what makes me a passionate person, and a 'get-obsessed-with-something/someone' person.  And then I get bored and move on.  So perhaps my mind creates these particular emotion-packed, romantic/sensual/sexual dreams to just explore, to feed my need for more - more love, more passion, more creative fire, more adventure and more longing.  This is conjecture, of course, as my subconscious won't tell me in words, only in symbols and archetypes, in visuals, and of course in the dreams.  Now if I could only decipher it all succinctly, I'd have the answers I seek.

So why do I mention this today?  Well, not surprisingly I had a dream in the early hours this morning of one such romantic dream that left me wondering. It also seemed somewhat fitting for my screenplay idea - could it be incorporated into the story?  It did take place in Scotland, as my story does.   Maybe my subconscious was trying to take the story in a slightly altered path, to create much needed conflict.   Not sure what it all means.  More to daydream and brainstorm on, no doubt.

Friday, May 14, 2010

QED, how do I love thee...?

Let me count the ways...

I love thy plies
and thy twist.
I love thy blue-face
and thy subtle sheen.
I love thy softness
and thy hardiness.
I love thy depth and richness
of colour.
I love thee in deep purple
or mahogany.
I love thee in caramel
or ocean teal.
I love thee between my slippery needles
and next to my skin.
Oh, QED, how I love thee.
And should the Gods will it,
I shall love thee better after felting...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When the Podcast fades...

I discovered the knitting podcast, "Cast On," over the holidays this past December, through, not surprisingly, a knitting friend.  The friend mentioned during the post-Winter Solstice ritual potluck, that she had fallen in love with listening to podcasts.  I told her that I really liked several of the CBC radio program podcasts, like Tapestry and The Vinyl Cafe.  She asked if I knew about the many knitting podcasts out there.
  "Podcasts?  For knitting?" I queried.  What a concept, I thought.
  "Oh, yes!" she replied, her eyes lighting up.  A list of recommended knitting podcasts arrived in my Inbox a few days later.

"Cast On", created, written and hosted by American-living-in-Wales, Brenda Dayne.  She started in October of 2005, and has kept up a fairly steady stream of released podcasts.  She puts out a very professional-sounding, hour-long podcast, with the talents of her clear, soft voice, and wonderful writing skills.  It really is, in my opinion, one of the most excellently crafted knitting podcasts I've heard.   She's definitely set the bar in that realm.

Which is why it's so unfortunate that Brenda is on a hiatus due to health reasons.  Her last episode (#90) was in January of this year.  And we wee "knitsibs" are pining away as a result.  "Pleeeease come back, Brenda!" come the plaintive cries.

I must admit, once I had discovered Brenda's podcast, with 90 whole episodes for my listening pleasure, I got greedy.  Instead of having to wait for each to be released as her fans from 2005 onward had, I had a big basket of knitted goodies right there, ready to be devoured.  And devour I did - large mouthfuls of the rich, sweet stuff.  I gorged on full, fat episodes, never thinking I'd get to the end.  But get to the end I did, just last week.   After about four months of regular listening gluttony, the 90th episode came, and went.

What's a girl to do when she's emerged from a feast with an unending hunger?  Why, start them all over again.  Yet this time, while nice to hear, the episodes don't feel the same, don't fill the need as before.  And how can they?  Some of the magic is gone, and the crazy need for something new and fascinating drives me now.

Does this mean I've fallen out of love?  Perhaps.  It doesn't mean, however, that I adore Brenda any less, and I certainly wish her the best in her recovery. 

In the meantime, Electric Sheep and Never Not Knitting are doing a wonderful job in filling the void.  Both have amazing theme songs, by the way!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ode to the Knitting Teacher...

For if knitters didn't teach others to knit, where would we be?  That's right - not knitting.  And that would be bad.

To all the lovely men and women who reach out and teach even just one person how to knit and purl with two sticks and some string, I thank you.

I also, and especially, give thanks to the person who taught me to knit.  It was in the spring of 2006, at the Moss Street Market, here in Victoria.  I knit very tightly in the beginning (I hear it's common), and knit through the back loop instead of the front, and couldn't get the hang of the knitted cast-on no matter how much I tried.  But I persevered and she along with me, helping me in my moments of panic at dropped stitches, showing me that I had knit back on myself, and fixing my mistakes before I learned how to "read" the stitches for myself.  We sat that long, hot summer, on the couch, in sarongs, with the air conditioner blasting, and knit. 

In all our years together, with in's and out's, beginnings and endings, it is the knitting that has brought us finally back to this comfortable, easy, casual "just being" relationship.  Our history is just that - history.  Now we have loops of cashmere and merino to lead us forward.

If it hadn't been for this lady of Ucluelet teaching me to knit, I likely wouldn't have found Etsy.com (where many indie dyers sell their wares, as I did), wouldn't have discovered a passion for hand-dyeing yarn and spinning fibre, wouldn't have wanted to find a local knitting group, wouldn't have discovered the wonder that is Ravelry.com, wouldn't have a small business, or lovely hand-knit items for myself and my loved ones, wouldn't have wandered into the world of spinning wheels and fibre and looms and weaving...

So for this dear lady, and her crafty fingers, I am eternally grateful.  Thank you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Yet Again, Overcommited

Right, so when I intended to not start any more knitting projects, I really meant it.  Really.  Then things happened that I said "yes" to, and now I have two new sweater/tops on the needles.  But, but, they are time-sensitive, and for specific purposes!  So that makes it okay, right?  Sure, why not.

I somehow agreed for my business, Gaia's Colours, to sponsor the Victoria Fibre Fest's fashion show, and the lady organising it suggested that I wear a hand-knitted piece for the evening myself.  This is how I came to be casting on for the Green Gable t-shirt last knit, which watching "Iron Man" on DVD.  It looks pretty basic - a short-sleeved top made out of a DK weight wool, with a little eyelet lace pattern on the front neckline.  Knit in the round, in one piece, I hope to have it done by the end of the month.  Like I have so much knit-time.... but these days, despite the need for dye-time, I'm really making time for knit-time as well.  It's really important to me, both therapeutic and practical - I need to complete my projects!

But for today, it's Mother's Day and I'm going to go relax with my knitting....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Can We say Overcommited?

Coming up in June, June 20th specifically, my small business, Gaia's Colours Fibre Arts, will be participating in the Victoria Fibre Festival.  So I get to work on dyeing as much yarn and spinning fibre from now till then.  Meantime, I have two small-ish orders that have to go out to a Victoria LYS (local yarn store) called Knotty By Nature, and a brand-new, just opened LYS in Tofino called Knitting by the Sea.  This has depleted my stock somewhat, so now I need to dye pretty much all of what I have in the next six weeks.  Woohoo!

And if that wasn't enough to keep me busy, I recklessly signed up for Ravelry's group "Harry Potter's Knitting/Crochet House Cup", for the Spring 2010 term (May, June, July).  We get to choose one "class" per month minimum to do one project for that class.  Plus we can do extra in the OWLs or the Quidditch team.  Like I don't already have enough to do. 

I'm contemplating ideas.  I would love to dye yarn/fibre coloruways that are relevant to certain topics (flowers, or Norse mythology - I could do either).  I have a cardigan pattern I've been wanting to do, "Estelle", but am not sure if I should do it in the "flower" theme, and have to complete it in one month, or do it as an OWL, and have all term (three months) to complete it.  Hm.

Will keep you posted.