Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ah....organization...chaos tamed

When you have as many books, magazines and other resources as I have, you MUST be organized with them if you want to use them to their full potential. I'm getting there.

Kid's fiction is arranged in alphabetical order by title; non-fiction is grouped by category (eg. science, math, language arts etc.) I have a bookshelf for Christian books arranged by title. Or author if he or she has written more than two.

There are two "hot spots" that I'm attempting to get under control these days. One bookshelf in my living room has all the others. These are books I want to keep handy for reference or am planning to read or they just make me feel good. It needs to be gone over as it's become a dumping spot.

And then there are my magazines. Especially now the knitting magazines. Tea times for the last few weeks have included magazines and post-it notes. As I go through the issues I put in a post-it with either the item I'd like to make or the technique being shown. Most are now sitting happily in my filing cabinet with little flags flying, enticing me to "knit me, knit me". It's amazing what a contented feeling you have when chaos is tamed.

A quick update on my knitting progress: I got the ww sock to where I thought the toe decreases should start and began the other sock. In the meantime I tried it on my husband and it will have to be ripped back an inch to start the decrease. That's good news, as it means I'll have more yarn available for the second sock. There's about an inch to go on the Knit Picks socks before the heel turn - I'm making these babies LONG to handle size 12 EEE feet. And yes, there is another sock cast on in the middle. For my son; it had to be done. Variety is the spice of life.

Oh...I learned a new computer trick. I downloaded Passchendaele from itunes (took two hours!) and watched it the other night. Why was I so anxious to watch this I ask myself? One of those movies you feel you should see, just for the historical significance. But lots of war-type violence and some other scenes I could have done without.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Definitely not neck in neck

Well, it's not really a race, but if it was the worsted weight would be winning.

My dad up and broke his leg a few days ago so my free time has been spent with him. As I've sat with him the Knit Picks yarn sock has progressed slowly, but steadily. Nothing can beat the worsted weight, though, for quick progress.
However, I'm started to get a little worried about this sock. I squeezed the ball today and there doesn't seem to be much left. Was the leg knit too long? Will there be enough yarn to finish both socks? Ah, life is nothing if not for a few risks. I will continue on this sock to the toe decreases and then begin the other. If needs be I can make the toes out of a contrast. And if there isn't enough for two socks??? Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit and start over again. Good thing I love to knit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I've discovered a new, healthy taste sensation. Sauerkraut. Who would have thought? All these years I've avoided it like the plague, thinking it was so awful. But it's not - it's quite delicious. And if you can believe the traditional diet people it's also very good for you. Check out this article. Now if I can only get the rest of my family on board...

I made great strides in knitting this evening. It's amazing how quickly worsted weight yarn knits up into a sock. My current project is almost the same length after a few hours as the other sock that I've been working on for four days. Both gift socks for special men in my life - one a sophisticated grey and one a rustic oatmeal. Both a real treat to work with. I love knitting!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A crafty few days

I've made progress these last few days on knitting projects. Not so much on reading. The 52 in 52 has gone by the wayside. 26 in 52 might be a more manageable undertaking. What I did learn in my reading today was that you can actually knit unspun fiber. This will have to done to be believed because I just can't get my mind around how it can work. I did pick up some unspun fiber at the thrift store the other day, but I have it earmarked for a thrummed hat. Sailing knitter very generously shared her pattern for this kind of hat and I'm anxious to try it out.

My WIP (works in progress) and FO (finished object): fingerless mitts (second of the pair); gift socks for George; fingerless mitts (customed designed by my daughter).

Friday, February 13, 2009

A day well spent

Having some time to kill yesterday I wandered into a branch of the library that I don't ordinarily visit. The craft section didn't offer much, so I made my way to the oversize shelf. Gold mine! A beautiful, coffee-table book of knitting. "Knitting in America" by Melanie D. Falick is a book about people who are passionate about wool, yarn and knitting. It is so inspiring to read about men and women who have turned something that they love, into their life's work. And then tonight I watched the movie "Last Holiday" which is one of those stories that are all about what's really important in life and living life to the fullest.
If I had a day job that I hated...I'd be quitting it now.

I made a little progress on the second after-thought

heel sock. It is now relegated to "van knitting".

There are too many other, more pressing projects in the queue to be spending valuable home time on them.

Today I made one fingerless mitt for myself. These must be finished before it gets too warm to need them. I love the pattern (jack-in-the-box mittens minus the box) and the yarn (Paton's Classic Wool). They have a beautiful cable on them called the staghorn cable. I used the great tutorial at this address to do the cabling without a cable needle. So much easier.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On your mark, get set, START!

Today I started three new books.

1. In paper: "Raising a Modern-Day Joseph" by Larry Fowler. This promises to be a break-through book in terms of raising up children who are true to their faith and life-long servants of Jesus. It uses the example of the Old Testament Joseph as a model of someone who was put into adverse circumstances at a young age and didn't waver in his love for God. This will be a great book for churches hoping to come along-side parents in raising their children to be strong Christians.
2. Audio: The Pilgrim's Progress. The version I'm listening to uses the old English, but I'm managing to handle that. Probably because I've read it several times before.

3. Audio: "The Man in the High Castle" by Philip K. Dick. This was recommended somewhere in my wanderings online. It's science fiction/alternate history. The write-up sounded interesting, but so far I haven't gotten hooked. My mind wasn't completely on it, however. I may start over and give it another chance.

On my needles: I finished the first sock of the after-thought heel pair. They fit really well (although they aren't for me). The yarn is Felici from Knit Picks. Love it! Effortless, even stitches.

I put the button on a calorimetry I made last night which will be winging it's way to Surrey ASAP. It's for my niece who had a birthday at the end of January. The yarn came from a HUGE ball of Bernat Worsted (acrylic) that I bought to make the pig puppet because it was the perfect colour. I may be knitting projects from that for years.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Good listening

The Internet is wonderful for acquiring new listening delights. I get a regular newsletter from Koinonia House and the most recent one had an advertisement for a new resource - available in DVD, CD or mp3 download. Within a few minutes I was happily listening as I knit on my newest project. "Through Hebrew Eyes - A Messianic Journey" is fascinating! A Messianic Jewish man talks about the feasts of Israel and explains how they are a shadow of Christ and of things to come. And the fellow is funny to boot! Well worth the listen.

On the needles I have my February "new technique" - the afterthought heel. Basically you knit a tube sock, but part-way through, where you would normally start the heel, you knit half the stitches with waste yarn. Then you continue around knitting over the waste yarn and do the foot and toe. At this point you go back to pick out the waste yarn, put the stitches on needles and knit another toe! It's one of those magical moments of knitting that don't seem to make sense, but work out none-the-less. Google afterthought heel for great explanations and probably video on this technique. I went back to make the heel before I finished the sock because I wanted to figure out how long to make the foot after the waste yarn. One tip - if you have a pattern on the leg (like I did) make sure to only do it on the instep after the waste yarn. Otherwise you will have pattern on the bottom of your sock as well (don't ask me how I know this!). The heel is very well fitting and I think that once I have done it on a few pairs of socks I'll get the bugs worked out so that it doesn't look quite as amateurish as it's doing now. It works well for self-striping yarns as it doesn't break up the stripes like a heel flap will do.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Odds and sods

My day of rest didn't include much resting today, but lots of family and friend time so that made it OK. The day started with the challenge of teaching the older children in the kid's class at church, lunch with family, awesome music recital of my two nephews and ended with an movie with friends.

I did get a little reading time in over breakfast this morning. I'm reading through the July/August 1998 issue of Piecework magazine. The only issues of this magazine that I bother to get have an article on knitting in them. This one features the history of cowichan sweaters. Since I've actually made several of these and they are quite common to where we live the article was of special interest.
The name cowichan comes from the Cowichan Valley of Vancouver Island, where the Cowichan band of the native Coast Salish people lived. The sweaters are a story in themselves as they include many of the animals important to these people, such as whales, horses, eagles etc. The Cowichan had always spun goat and dog hair, but when the settlers and missionaries came in the 1840's they brought sheep and these began to be used for spinning as well. The articles goes into some depth and there is also a pattern for a sweater included.

My new technique for January was the linen stitch heel flap. This picture doesn't do it justice, but what you don't see is the typical ribbed ridges of the traditional heel flap. It makes a nice flat surface that is much thinner than the traditional. My version is a four row repeat - google to find instructions. Mine came from a pattern that has gone missing.

In January I also made two charity hats and a pig puppet from the Creative Knitting website. This is the pig partially
made. I made some mods to the pattern to make it more "pig-like". I couldn't find the other hat, but it was called Thorpe.
Oh, I also made a pair of striped socks.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reader's Digest has been a big part of my reading material for as long as I can remember. My family always subscribed to it and when I finally settled down myself, I began the tradition. It's filled with inspiring stories about real people who are doing things in the world and making a difference. I laugh and I cry through each issue.

One article in the latest issue left me feeling rather sick to my stomach. It was an interview between the recently elected President of the United States, Obama, and Pastor Rick Warren, one of the most popular speaker/authors in Christendom.

Obama certainly talked the talk of a fervent born-again Christian. But his first pro-choice actions upon taking office certainly don't seem to be walking the walk. The contradiction between his words "I think that the country's greatest moral failure in my life-time has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me" and "I am pro-choice" is chilling.

I think that we had better watch this man very closely.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Convictions can lead to discomfort and inconvenience.

Tomorrow I will watch a film that documents the practices of Walmart. I understand that many who have watched this film have chosen to not shop at Walmart as a result. Since I love to shop there - the selection and prices suit me - this would necessitate a big change for me. So I'm hoping my convictions don't kick in.

A new book "Knitting for Good" is written in a similar vein. The subtitle is A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change, Stitch by Stitch. The chapter I just finished challenged us to read the labels of where our clothing was made and do some research to find out how ethical the manufacturing practices are. It's all about choices - making choices that lead to positive change in the world.

Sometimes I just want to remain ignorant, but that's the cowardly way out.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Well-Educated Mind

Each day purpose to learn something new; something life-enriching; something that makes you a better person. Help is sometimes needed to point you in the right direction, given the mass of knowledge available today. This is where Susan Wise Bauer comes in. She has written a book titled "The Well-Educated Mind" that gives you a game plan. The first section of the book goes over the why's and whatfor's and howto's of reading classic literature. Then she dives into a selection of books themselves. All the choices have been made for you. There is no excuse not to begin the process of self-education.

Why then have I had this book for several years and am no further ahead than before I got it? Because the book that she starts with is Don Quixote. If you know anything about this book you know that it's just plain weird. I've tried and tried to read it but it's just too....weird. And being the linear person that I am, if I couldn't read the first book on the list, I couldn't move on. Well, I'm over it. I'm turning the page and going on to The Pilgrim's Progress (which just happens to be one of my most favorite books of all time - isn't that fortunate?).

The Pilgrim's Progress is also available as a recent movie, but I'll hold off watching it till I've reread the book (as I always insist on for my children).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I have been defeated by a book

And that book is The Shack.

I have exactly 2 hours of listening time to go on this book and I vowed I would finish it today. But it's not going to happen. The book does not appeal to me. Admittedly, there have been some intriguing ideas put forth. No doubt I would find a few more should I perservere. I won't, though, because my time is too precious and I'm not convinced that the book is important enough to warrant spending more than I already have on it.

Here are some of my notes while reading the book. Some I agree with, some I have problems with.

  • It's all about me and everything is about Jesus.
  • God loves us just because we are. We don't have to do anything more.
  • We don't have to follow rules or have special ways of behaving or fulfill roles. The bible doesn't teach you to follow rules; it gives a picture of Jesus.
  • Just give yourself over completely to God; give up your independence and become dependent on Him, accepting His goodness and love. All evil flows from independence.
  • Live in the present. Don't fret about the past or worry about the future. Have no fear.
  • Take the risks of honesty with everyone - lies damage all.
  • Check your perceptions; check your paradigms. Just because you believe something doesn't make it true.
I'm not sure how to rate this book. Three stars for somewhat life enriching, but 1 star for the pleasure factor.

What do others think of the book? Well, hundreds love it. So I won't bother to give examples of those here. Many don't love it - in fact, think that it is harmful. Here are a few examples to get you thinking.

Michael Youssef
Tim Challies