Nath Knits

and should probably be doing something else.

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Wasn’t this blog supposed to be about your knitting?

Why, yes!

Sorry about last week.  I’m back to normal, I think.  Though I did catch whatever Vorlon had last week and spent a very, er, purgative night last Thursday.  Zebula and Dr. Thingo got it too, and now we’re all better.  And hungry.

So what about the knitting, you ask.  How about this:

This is a capelet I made for Spinrite.  I mentioned it in the last post, I think.  The yarn was amazing!  I think I said it was an alpaca bamboo blend.  But no!  It was, in fact, an angora bamboo blend.  So soft!  It feels wonderful, but sheds like crazy.  I liked the cable pattern a lot, but the overall piece is kind of strange looking. The size was XS/S, so I couldn’t really try it on to see what it looked like.  I’m guessing the disproportionately large-looking sleeves look better hanging as they should than sprawled on the floor.  I’ll see if I can find the publicity shot for this one in a few months, because I’m curious.  Anyway, this one was fun to work up.

Cable close-up:

Speaking of angora, I only just found out what angora bunnies look like.  They’re like pillows with noses!  I can’t decide if that’s super cute, scary, cruel or just weird.  But their fur is amazing!

Also, I know I mentioned before that I went to Shall We Knit on the day after my birthday.  I really love that place.  They let me wander around petting the wool for an hour, undisturbed, which was just what I needed that day.  Plus, the owner remembered my name, even though I hadn’t come around in about a month or two.  So nice!  I came away with a drop spindle and some brown sheep hair.  I like the spindle very much – low overhead, and fairly quick results.  Plus, you can make super thin yarn without worrying about breakage – the spindle is fairly light and exerts way less force on the yarn than the tension on my spinning wheel does.  Also, the spindle spins very quickly, so I can impart a lot of twist with relatively low effort.  Way easier than trying to treadle like mad to get enough twist in the yarn.

The mini-skeins are my efforts so far.  Sorry about the picture, but the light isn’t very good (really, could we have a little sunshine, please?  It’s been forever!).  The one on the far left is my first attempt.  Very lumpy and uneven.  The middle one is the second attempt.  Much, much better, and the yarn is much finer than anything I’ve done on my wheel.  The pink one on the right was an attempt at making thick singles, which, as you can see, is harder than I expected.  I think I’ll try that on my wheel instead.  Anyone know what to do with two metres of super chunky yarn?

I haven’t forsaken my wheel.  I have, in fact, finished all the Lorna’s Laces roving (except for what I used to make the super chunky pink stuff with my spindle):

That’s about 470 metres (and about 200 grams) of handspun yarny goodness.   I’m very happy with it!  I think at that yardage, it’s more of a sport weight than the fingering weight I thought it was.  Now I have to find a good pattern for it.

Pr0n shot:

Oh, and I learned Andean Plying, which you can use to turn one singles into a two-ply.  It’s a neat technique where you wind the singles around your wrist in a certain way, join the two ends, and start plying, and the yarn magically feeds off your wrist, without cutting your hand off, garotte-style.  I used it to ply the stuff on my spindle, and I gave it a shot on the wheel as well.  I like it better than plying from two bobbins.  And it has the added advantage that you never have that problem where, when you ply from two bobbins, they’re never exactly the same length no matter how hard you try, so one bobbin is always left with a small amount of singles left on it.

Last, here’s a picture of my baby at her first piano recital.  She played Jingle Bells and did herself proud.  All the other students did a fabulous job as well!


Long, self-indulgent and whiny post about the past few weeks

Well, hello! It’s been a busy, emotional time here over the last few weeks. Let us recap:

1. Vorlon has been sacked out on the couch all day, after a brief barfing episode first thing in the morning. No fever, but essentially a limp noodle. Which, if you know Vorlon at all, (my tasmanian devil, my weapon of mass destruction, my entropy acceleration device) is a big deal.

2. I turned 36 at the end of November. I was in a foul mood that day (lack of sunshine for two weeks, hormones, paint fumes, and a crazy schedule). I half-heartedly made myself a cake, ate it, and generally felt blah. I’d been slowly painting my kitchen for about a week until then, in 2 hour increments while Vorlon was at preschool, and the crazy schedule of dropping Zebula off at school, attempting to do some semblance of housework and grocery shopping in the morning, then dropping Vorlon of at his preschool and running back home to do my two hours of painting, then running back to pick up Vorlon, then Zebula from their respective schools was taking its toll. I took the afternoon off the day after my birthday, and life suddenly got much better. In the meantime, I’ve slowly made progress on my paint job. There’s only one coat of trim left to do, and then I’m done with this particular project, which means I’m officially allowed to tear out the disgusting carpet in my living/dining room.

3. Canadian politics got interesting last week. I’d never heard the word prorogue before, and suddenly it was a festival of prorogation. I make it a point not to dwell on politics in here, but what a clusterfuck this all was! A lose/lose situation right from the start. There was no right answer, I don’t think – Harper clearly can’t continue to govern, as he doesn’t have the confidence of the house, and doesn’t have a very good understanding of what is involved in successfully leading a minority government. A coalition of the opposition parties wouldn’t have worked either – Dion doesn’t have the confidence of his own party, let alone the MPs in other parties. I really don’t think the answer was to suspend parliament for two months, seeing as how we really need a sitting parliament to work through our economic issues right now. What I think is that Harper should resign and let somebody else lead the party who is willing to work with the other parties rather than pretend he’s leading a majority government. All I can say now is that the budget Harper presents at the end of January will need to be nothing short of miraculous if he doesn’t want to trigger yet another election, and I’m afraid that even if he does present a reasonable budget, the other parties are going to vote against it, as a matter of principle, which is getting kind of tiresome.

4. My choir, of which I have been a part for six years, is dangerously close to folding. We have no cash, and an accumulated debt of over $100 000. The concert we had scheduled for the end of January is canceled, as we don’t have the money to pay for the orchestra or the performance space. We’re hoping to still be able to put on our Good Friday show (Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion), but we are going to need to raise quite a bit of cash for that to happen. This is all making me very sad. I love singing in this choir – I love the feeling of being part of something beautiful when we put on our concerts. However, our audience has been declining in even the six years since I joined. Apparently the same is true for many choirs and orchestras across the country. It’s a shame, but in the end, if nobody wants to listen, who are we doing this for? And to be honest, I can’t understand why it’s such a struggle. We’ve sung music that I’ve disliked, sure, but we’ve also sung music that has been powerful, moving and beautiful, sometimes joyful, sometimes full of lament. It moves me to sing it, and from what I’ve heard of people who attend, it moves people to hear it.

I’m not here to criticize anybody’s taste in music, or tell you that you absolutely must come hear us perform. But I am curious. There’s a perception out there that classical music is boring, inaccessible and elitist. Why? Is it because the expectation is that you have to sit still and not make any noise, either appreciative or no (hell, you can’t even applaud between movements, which has always baffled me) for the duration of the concert, and then applaud politely at the end? Because you can’t dance? Light your lighter? Because there generally isn’t much in the way of a visual display? Not enough cleavage? Too much cleavage? Don’t want to get gussied up? Dr. Thingo claims that, generally, the emotions elicited during a classical music performance are more complex and require more introspection that those evoked in, say, a rock concert, so classical music is not as easy to listen to. I don’t buy it, but do you feel that way? If you like classical music, do you just prefer to listen to a recording?

Is it a money thing? I’ve heard people complain that $40 is too much to see the symphony or a choir. But looking at the ticket prices for the current Britney Spears tour at the Air Canada Centre, you’re looking at $37.50 to $140. If Britney’s not your thing, then at how about Nickelback for at least $50. Or, setting our sights at a smaller venue, the Jim Cuddy Band for $40 t0 $60 at Massey Hall. Closer to home, David Cassidy (?!) at Centre in the Square ($35 to $70). These people are all way more famous that the Grand Philharmonic Choir, no doubt about it. Still.

And why is it that inaccessibility and elitism is ok for music, but not for, say, athletes? People pay lots of money to see very well-paid people play various games. Many go several times a year. Leafs tickets are $25 to $400. Raptors tickets are $10 to $965. It can be argued that that level of athletic ability and endurance is out of reach of us normal people, and is therefore elitist. You are, however, encouraged to show your appreciation at all times.

What is it that makes ‘high’ culture high, and ‘low’ culture low?

So, please, tell me what you think! I’d love to know. And I will continue to let you know every time we put on a show, until we disappear completely!

And lest you think my whole life is a constant vale of tears, here are some happy items:

1. Winter came here early, and the world has been looking beautiful. Though it started raining earlier today, so it’s pretty gross out right now. Despite the lack of sunshine, I really do like winter. Some people in my life just can’t wrap their minds around the fact that I would rather walk the 15 minutes it takes to get pretty much anywhere I need to go for my day-t0-day living than take a car, even when it’s -10 out. But I love the snow, and I love being outside.

2. The choir got to sing pretty much all day on Saturday, and despite the fact that it was cold, a few of my friends and my family (including Dr. Thingo’s parents and brother) came to watch for a while as we sang outside City Hall. It’s always more fun to sing when there are people you know in the audience. Then we got to go caroling in nursing homes, which is always nice. A good, though tiring day. My voice gave out as we were singing the last carol at the last home.

3. I am still knitting! But on the same projects – the knickers are coming along, and are much more reasonably sized than I thought (I made the rookie mistake of not reading the pattern all the way through before making all kinds of crazy assumptions about the quality of pattern-writing and the size of people in the 40’s as I was working). I’m almost done making the capelet for Spinrite. I love the yarn! Love it! I’ll take pictures when it’s done.

4. I made this nine-layer monstrosity for Dr. Thingo’s birthday last week! Delicious!

5. I went to see the Grand Philharmonic Chamber Choir (a subset of my choir. I’d love to sing with them, but if I auditioned and made it in, Dr. Thingo might finally lose patience, and I’d become a single parent, and then I wouldn’t be able to sing at all!) do Messiah this weekend, and it was wonderful! I thought it would be really difficult for me to just sit and listen – I haven’t attended a performance of Messiah that I wasn’t singing in since I was a teenager. But it was nice to really listen to all of it as a whole rather than concentrate on just the Alto section. It was beautifully done.

6. Ecogrrl is, as we speak, flying over Canadian airspace on her return flight from Ghana after being gone for a year! I can’t wait to see her!

Back to your regular knitting blog next time.