Some Stones Unturned

Knitting, Biking and Some Sober Second Thoughts

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

$5 in Paris: à laver la tête d’un âne, on perd sa lessive

$5 in Paris sweater progress

You know how there was that one member of Destiny's Child who always had to wear the one sleeve thing? This isn't like that at all.

Now that I’m back on Canadian soil, I can say that my first trip taking knitting in my carry-on (or, as I like to refer to it, Operation Please Don’t Confiscate My Sweater) was a huge success. I got a ton of knitting done. I don’t know why I wasn’t doing this ages ago.

I like to be early for things, especially flights, and since I was taking public transit to the airport, I left super-duper extra-early. I got to the check in just over three hours before my flight left, which is technically the time they recommend you be there, but just so you know, they do not actually even have the check-in counters open yet. Fortunately I had no luggage to check, so I just used the machine to get my boarding pass, beat the crowd to security and breezed through customs. I was seated at the gate ~2.5 hours before my flight was due to leave.

Needless to say that gave me a great starting point for knitting, both before boarding and during the flight, although I started getting worried during the flight because there wasn’t really space to wriggle into my sweater and check the sizing as I went, so I had to keep knitting and hope it would be okay. In the end I think I did the waist shaping decreases too quickly: the pattern says every five rounds, which seemed way too infrequent to me so I did every three; next time I would split the difference and do every four. Also, I threw in three sets of short rows and I thought that if I combined the decrease row with the row after the two short turns then I could save having to do any funny wrapping or picking up of stitches and just do k2tog/ssk where the gaps were, but for some reason this didn’t work and I’m left with a bit of a hole:

short row fail


I’m still not quite sure why this is. I do it all the time with sock heel turns and that seems to go okay. Is it the yarn weight or does the shape of the heel turn make it less noticeable? I didn’t rip it back though because I’m on vacation so whatevs (hence the post title). It basically almost fits. Close enough!

Anyway, knitting was great. I didn’t care that I had a long wait at the gate. I didn’t care when we hit turbulence. I almost didn’t even care that the woman beside me smelled pretty bad, although that was starting to make me a bit sick by the end. None of it mattered since, after the flight there, I had a sweater that was about 3/4 complete.  I think they should actually encourage everyone to knit on flights; people would stress way less. Sitting in the airport for my flight home (for which I was again really early because my sister’s flight was before mine and I got dropped off with her), I could hear families fighting around me, having (I assume) finished their vacation in Florida, where it was gorgeous weather all week, the stress of travelling was getting to them. “No we board at 2:10. It says right on the ticket.” “Well, I just asked her and she said 2:40. We’re delayed an hour. Go check yourself if you want.”…”I checked we board at 2:10. You want to fight about it some more? I love fighting.”

Now, if these people knit, I could just lean over and say “Hey guys, don’t worry. If we’re delayed an hour then I might be able to finish this sweater before I get home. Isn’t that great?! Well, not the sweater. I mean the sweater’s okay, but it’s my first sweater and I think I kind of messed up the fit a bit and there are these holes where the short rows are, see? But I can fix that up when I weave in the ends. Aren’t the colours great though? It’s great yarn. It’s acrylic. Crazy right. I mean, you can still tell. I’m nor a fibre snob or anything and I can tell, but it’s not bad and it’ll be machine washable. So, yeah, I’m starting to think I could really finish this up on the flight today.” But then the part of my brain that is still capable of interacting with non-knitters suggested they might not actually find any of this helpful or comforting. But if everyone knit on the flight, well, they would be thrilled with the extra time to finish their own projects, wouldn’t they?

I finished the body (may go back and do more ribbing? I intentionally did less than called for because I was worried it would be too long since I already have two extra stripes, but a couple more rows might be better) and most of one sleeve on the homeward wait/flight, but I didn’t want to start the sleeve ribbing until I could try it on to test the length. I think two more stripes will be too long, but right now might be too short, so I’m not sure what to do. Anyway, I’ll probably have something I consider finished by next week. Hopefully I can get those holes patched up.

$5 in Paris sweater unfinished

With the needles sticking out at odd angles, I guess it's a bit less Destiny's Child and a bit more Locutus of Borg. Although my pyjama pants are nicer than his.

More WIPs at Tami’s.


Actual Dinner Conversation with my Parents

I was eating dinner with my parents in Florida and we had been on a tour and seen some dolphins but no manatees, which we were discussing and then things went off the rails.

Me: Well, maybe it’s not the right season for them. Also, they’re harder to see than dolphins. It’s not like they jump out of the water. They just nom on seaweed reaaaalllllly slowly.

Dad: Yeah. Aren’t they called the cows of the sea? Cows aren’t that excitable either.

Sister: How did cows survive so long anyway? Like obviously we protected the domesticated ones, but before that. Were there ever wild cows?

Mom: I don’t know. There are wild horses, or, wait, are horses native to North America?

Me: I don’t think so. I can’t remember, but I’m sure I should know, that I’ve heard the story of how they got here before.

Mom: Yeah, me too. They were brought over to South America I think. By that bad guy. Oh what’s his name. The bad guy.

Dad: Cortes?

Mom: No. You know. That bad guy.

Me: Lex Luthor?

[They ignore me like they’re used to me.]

Dad: In Peru?

Mom: Yeah, that’s him.

Dad: That Japanese guy?

Mom: No! Spanish.

Me: Japanese guy? In Peru?

Dad: Yeah.

Me: With horses?

Dad: Apparently not. But yeah, he was Prime Minister for a while and he wasn’t even a citizen.

Me: So, wait, what did we decide about wild cows?

Is this what happens when you have dinner with people who don’t keep phones in their pockets? I vaguely remember what it feels like, but it’s so strange. You just speculate wildly and then that crazy guess moves you on to a new topic about which you also know nothing and end up speculating wildly. And before you know it, you’ve gone from manatees to Peruvian presidents.

For the curious, here are a few answers:

Manatees seem to be in Florida pretty much all the time, but especially in winter when they should be further South, so I’m not sure why we’ve seen fewer than I did when I was here last July.

Cows have a wild ancestor, the auroch, which was native to Europe, Northern Africa and parts of Asia, but the last one died out in 1627. They could fend off wolf predators once they were older, but also had to contend with large cats and hyenas. They were apparently quite fast and could be aggressive.

The whole horse thing is just confusing. Apparently horses were in North America (as well as Europe and Asia) 3.5 million years ago, but died off around the same time as the other North American megafauna did. Then the Spanish re-introduced them in the 1500s.

My Dad was talking about Fujimori, although I’m not sure why because that was in 1990, soooo…

And finally, once at a computer, my Mom said she had been thinking of Pizarro (which I heard as Bizarro), who does indeed seem to have had some horses around.

So that settles that.

Is This Blog Ever Going to Have Anything about Biking on it?

Ummm, hopefully? My fault for starting it in January I guess. A couple of year ago, I did bike most of the winter, but only to places I had to go not weekend trips to interesting places in the city. This year it’s been warm enough to probably make a go of it again, but I haven’t really had many places to go within biking distance (work is walkable; my weekly ultimate game is too far).

Also I really need to get my bike in for a tune-up, particularly new tires as the treads on mine are gone. But there doesn’t seem to be much point until after the cold goes away. I only got the bike 2.5 years ago and I think I’ve managed to keep it in pretty good shape myself using but at some point it really needs a professional to look at it and make sure the brake cables aren’t about to snap or something.

But so my one biking story from this winter is that a couple of weeks ago, I got all bundled up, pumped up my tires and headed to my dentist appointment downtown. It was just below freezing when I left, but dropping rapidly, close to -10°C by the time I was finished and had to head into work. My dentist is in a pretty big office building and I was taking the elevator down after my appointment and a guy got on and saw my helmet. He asked how the winter biking was going. I told him today was a bit cool, but not bad. He said that was his brother’s opinion as well, and that it hadn’t been that snowy/icy this year, which is indeed much more of a concern than the cold. Why you need multiple people’s opinions on the biking conditions when you could just stick your head out the door and check the weather, I’m not sure, but it’s always nice when people are interested and not (a) shocked you bike in winter or (b) complaining about crazy/self-righteous cyclists. And if there’s any way to stop Canadians from talking about the weather, I haven’t found it yet.

Also, my appointment was at 11 and I had to walk past 3 or 4 bike posts that already had bikes on them so either there are a lot of abandoned bikes in that area, or biking is really becoming more popular this winter.

Also also, there is a Bulk Barn on the ground floor of my dentist’s building. Yes, a Bulk Barn in the city. Within biking distance. This is going to change my life. Come spring it is going to be weekly candy and trail mix bike trips downtown. At least weekly. It’s great that I can go to the dentist, get my teeth cleaned, then buy candy knowing I won’t have to face the consequences until six months later.

Anyway, there are a huge number of bike lanes in this part of Florida (where I’m vacationing for the week). My parents are in one of those weird gated communities and all the roads have bike lanes in both directions in spite of the fact that the roads are not busy at all (unless you count golf carts in the bike lanes). Supposedly there are bikes in the garage, so maybe there will be another bike post about the weirdness of toodling around nearly-abandoned streets. But otherwise, to answer the question in the title, probably no bike-y things until spring this year. Sorry.

Two New eBook Sites

A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of my biggest issues with eBooks was the ability to find relevant ones and browse through options.  Emails about the ten most popular bestsellers or clicking through page after page (ten books each) of a genre category doesn’t always feel like the best way to find things I might be interested in, particularly weird new things I would need to stumble across by accident.

Shockingly, I am not the first person to think this is an issue. And more importantly, other people did not just sit around with their knitting (or with some other hobby. Are there other hobbies? I have heard rumours, but cannot understand it myself) muttering about it; they have actually gone about proposing solutions. You go entrepreneurial book-people!

Jellybooks (details on paidcontent) will let you browse full-size book covers and download the first 10% of any book you think looks interesting. If you like it or think it looks interesting, you can share the excerpt with people using a link. It doesn’t look like Jellybooks is planning to sell books itself, but there will be a link at the end of the excerpt to online retailers. Jellybooks will then use the information on what you’ve read and shared (so if being tracked online freaks you out, this may not be for you) to create recommendation lists and offer group deals on books you might like.

Jellybooks will initially only be launching the UK. I am assuming the name is related to the Fourth Doctor’s penchant for Jelly Baby candies, which he goes around offering to friends and enemies alike, but that could just be my limited Anglo-knowledge.

Then there is StoryBundle (more details here, which is not where I originally saw it, but I can’t find that now), where you download a group of ebooks together and get a chance to check them all out. Bundles will be “curated”, which is a word I would have avoided because of its kind of negative association with Apple’s practices, but I assume is somewhat necessary in the ebook market where quality is highly variable. Supposedly you set the price for the bundle, so I have no idea how that’s going to work, but even just the bundle concept is intriguing to me.

Interestingly, both solve the problem of ebook discovery by trying to do volume-based things. StoryBundle gives you a large number of books, not all of which you may be interested in reading, but some of which could be hidden gems. Jellybooks relies on large numbers of people reading and recommending to create recommendation lists and then also offers deals when large numbers of people all agree to buy an ebook at a reduced price. When you don’t have to transport things, why not take advantage of volume-based deals? Both are DRM-free as well. Huzzah!

I’m signed up for email updates from both, but not much news so far. Neither is expecting to offer anything until early spring, but still, exciting times in the ebook world. (I myself am a big Kobo fan, but it would be nice to get some new ideas and ways of buying into the market).

$5 in Paris: La croisière s’amuse

The title is my subtle way of telling you that I’m going on vacation. Ages ago I read an article about Canadian politics that explained “La croisière s’amuse” basically means a group of folks try to amuse themselves with frivolous things.

(Weirdly I have always assumed the phrase had a bit of a negative connotation, but I found the article online-could not find my hard copy which I think I clipped from the paper back when I actually used to clip things from the paper, back when I got a paper made of paper-and it doesn’t really imply the expression is negative. Maybe just because of its context in the article? “La croisière s’amuse” was also the French title of the TV show “The Love Boat” and that’s not negative. Well, okay, I’ve never seen it, but the opening song is great. Incidentally, results for the TV show are basically 98% of what you get if you Google the phrase and I have no idea what keywords I ended up using to find the article since all I really remembered was I thought it was about a Canadian election.)

ANYWAY, yes, I’ll be doing frivolous (hopefully) things in Florida with my family for the week, but I hope to have posts queued up before I go (I should be in the air when this gets posted) and will have internet, but perhaps slightly less frequently than normal.

I am trying to take just a carry-on and have prepped what I have of my sweater to go with me.

sweater started

Hooray for top down-try it on as you go. Feel even stupider if it doesn't fit in the end.

I didn’t initially plan to knit so much of it since I have a whole week’s worth of time to fill, but after the lacework it was sort of nice to just knit round and round in worsted while reading. And by the time I was finished the first non-ribbed stripe, I figured I should finish the shoulder increases and get the sleeves onto scrap yarn to check the fit because it would probably be really awkward to do that on a plane.

sleeves not done yet

So many pointy needles passing my face to try this on, yet I am uninjured so far!

But when I got the sleeve stitches transferred, I just kept knitting. I wanted to do some short rows on the front, as suggested by someone on Rav, so there would be less bunching. It seemed like a good chance to practice Japanese short rows, which I’ve been wanting to try, since the results would basically be hidden in my armpit. I was reviewing this video before I started, but I continued to knit in the round as I watched and when the video said “Continue purling across” apparently my brain responded well to the not-so-subliminal messaging:

accidental purling

Purl across? Don't mind if I do.

So I tinked that back. Then did my short rows, but when I went to knit back across all the stitches, I realized neither this video nor the first related one did short rows in the round and so I was left wondering how to deal with the purl-side turns. I did it by trying to imagine what things would look like from the other side: knit to one before the gap, slip that stitch purlwise, lift the marked yarn onto the left needle, put the slipped stitch back and knit those two together. It turns out that if I had bothered to look up “Japanese short rows in the round”, I would find that someone else had already worked this out (except she slipped knitwise and then went through the back like you would with ssk, so mine probably leans the wrong way, but still GO ME for kinda figuring it out on my own).

I finally forced myself to put the sweater aside Saturday afternoon, picking up Skew to keep my hands from reaching toward its siren call again. I still cannot get over how ugly those socks are going to be. I’m excited yet horrified at the same time.

FO Friday: Rock Island Shawl

Rock Island Shawl

Completed Rock Island shawl

Pattern: Rock Island shawl by Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

Yarn: Indigo Moon, Finest Silk, 481 yards (a bit smaller than it was supposed to be)

Size: 22″ x 42″ before blocking; 28″ x 60″ after blocking

I took a zillion pictures because I’m pleased as punch with the way it came out:  Read more…

$5 in Paris: Bon. On Commence!

I cast on 176 stitches to account for my massive shoulders and, well, I had to stop for a picture because

long tail cast on


Have you ever seen such an ideal cast-on estimation of yarn for long-tail? Okay, I’m sure the more experienced knitters have, but for me this is astronomically unlikely. A 6-inch end of perfection.  (/refraining from dirty jokes.)

And then I realized halfway through the first round that I had forgotten to double-check the stitch count before I started, but I kept going and it turns out I had the right number. And I’m about six rows in and did not twist when joining in the round!

I can’t even…Things are going so well that I shudder to think of the disaster that must be looming in order to re-balance the universe. What is it? Did I start with the wrong colour? Is the ribbing supposed to k2p1 instead of k2p2? Am I going to manage to spill red wine (of which there is currently none in the apartment) all over everything?

Because a reckoning is coming. Knitting this straightforward and love-able does not come without a price. A day will come when the courage of men fails… an hour of woes and shattered shields. BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY!

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