Saturday, September 27, 2008

zipping through?

When I made my 101 in 1001 list a few weeks ago, I immediately had second thoughts about several list items. Too easy, too hard to quantify... So far I am leaving it as is, but since I'm an unorthodox list maker, I'll allow myself the freedom to change it to a certain extent as I go.

I've completed a few in the last few days, which makes me think that they are too easy, or perhaps I'm just tackling the easy ones first.

8. Reorganize my book shelves so that all my books fit without spilling onto the floor. I just needed to do it. Not hard, just easy to avoid. (Now I need to find someplace to put all the non-book items I removed in order to fit the books in.) Yawn.

13. Read Emma, by Jane Austen, all the way to the end.

Until yesterday, Emma was the only one of Jane Austen's complete novels that I had not read. I had tried on several occasions and inexplicably failed. The first time was in grade 8. It was my first Austen attempt, which proceeded to turn me off the whole experience for a few years. I was a big reader then, but I think I couldn't get into the language at that stage. I don't know exactly what made me stop. The second time was a few years later, I believe after I'd read a few other Austen books. Again, not sure why I stopped.

After finishing it last night, I can't think what my problem was those other times. It is a delightful book. (Yes, I just said "delightful.") It easily ranks up near my favourite Austens, though to be fair I love them all. Other than Mansfield Park. That one bugs me.

Anyway, this time around I adored Emma. It's a brilliant example of Jane Austen's social comedy, which I love far more than the romantic aspects. All the petty hang-ups and ridiculous behaviour that seem so important at the beginning become far less important and all-encompassing towards the end. I recognize that reading from my perspective I'm bound to find this obsession with manners a little funny; we don't care about these things in quite so much detail these days, it seems to me. But even so, the way Austen picks at the ridiculousness of human relationships is biting and hilarius. Ah. Also, Miss Bates? That kind of caricature seems perfect.

Oh, and I'm this much closer to achieving #101. (Get a masters degree). I got into a masters program yesterday, accepted the offer, and must now start freaking out about finding a place to live in London. (Ontario. Unfortunately not UK this time).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

FO: Liesl

Liesl

Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda, at long last.
Yarn: Zara Plus

I intended to make this with long sleeves, but I ran out of yarn at about elbow-length.

yarn

Seriously. That's what I had left after weaving in ends and trimming. I could have sworn I bought extra, but nevermind. The sleeves gained some length with blocking, and ultimately I'm happy with it. I have this ridiculous paranoia about things growing, and even though I blocked my swatch this time around I still feared... And the sweater did get longer, but I managed to scrunch it up again, so now it is a perfect length.

cardigan,liesl

I like it. The neck isn't as wide as I'd expected but I can always leave a button or two undone. On ravelry, most people seem to prefer only buttoning this sweater at the top, like Ysolda's original, so I worried a little about my decision to button it all the way down before seeing what it looked like on other people. I think this way does work better for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

some pictures from the last few days

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IMG_1779

I finally finished reading Don Quixote. Having started it in class, I always intended to finish it, but didn't have time during the time I was supposed to... But I finished it eventually, so it counts, right? I loved it. It is pure slapstick with an underlying current of intelligent satire. The first part is better than the second in my opinion; the second relies too much on Sancho Panza spewing inappropriate proverbs than anything else, still it is all enjoyable.

I have two jobs!

Oy. I just got home from my first day at work, and I'm beat. It was an 8 hour day, and after just one I'm convinced that I'll never be able to work full time at anything. Hahaha. Darn. University's random scheduling and 16 hour weeks has got me spoiled. Back in high school I easily stayed at school for 12 hours straight some days because I was an overstimulated overachieving extra-curricular kind of gal. Okay, not so much on the overachieving, but I had before and afterschool activities on various days. And I lugged my textbooks around when I didn't need to, and I played the saxophone. I still claim to play the sax but these days I don't take it any place. Note to self: actually get the sax out and play. It's on your 101 in 1001 list!

Eh. I'm sure I'll get used to working in the next little while, and it won't always be 8 hour shifts. It's a relief to know this sort of thing is short term and I'm not tied to it for the rest of my life.

Also, right after I went to training for this job I found out I got another (very temporary) job. It never rains but it pours hyukhyuk? The two don't conflict so I can do both, and one only lasts a day and pays a lot better. But hey. Suddenly I have a busy life! Crazy times.

No photos, no knitting... I've actually been taking photos and knitting and baking and crafting quite a bit but this sudden employment threw everything out of whack so I have nothing uploaded. Liesl will be finished within a week - she has a second sleeve, but I'm still not sure if I'll run out of yarn, so I may need to rip back the first one, which isn't even full length. I got the yarn at a warehouse sale, so I don't expect to be able to find any more of it, and honestly I'll be satisfied with a 3/4 length Liesl even though I was intending to make full sleeves. But we shall see. DUNH DUNH DUNH.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

#1 - get a temporary job

As of yesterday, I have a job. I wrote up my 101 in 1001 list in no particular order, so I'm a little amused that the first item I've completed is actually #1 on the list. I'm also bemused and conflicted about this whole job thing, because the moment I lowered my standards I got a job. Ouch. We shall see if this job is positive in any way, other than that it pays and is situated down the street from a yarn shop. Ha. Low expectations, woo.

Despite my reluctant participation in the capitalist system (snort), I've found myself obsessing over money and finding a job lately. I think part of this comes from finishing school and finding out for sure that my degree in itself isn't helping me towards legitimate employment. I'm a bit embarassed. Another part of this is that I've started to want expensive things. (And inexpensive things). This isn't solely a ridiculous desire to participate in conspicuous consumption, since the expensive things I want are mostly related to moving to England or at least visiting, but I am finding a disturbing trend in my thoughts towards material goods. Ha, how pretentious. I'm not as much of a hippie snob as I sound by that statement. Yes, I want Things. What have I become? Hopefully I can use my shopper's-guilt to the advantage of my bank account and save more than I spend.

In other news, Eoin Colfer is writing a 6th Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book. I am slightly terrified at this prospect because Douglas Adams' original trilogy in five parts has pretty much shaped how I see the world. (No, really.) I've heard good things about Eoin Colfer, though I haven't read any of his books yet; maybe he's brilliant and it will all turn out well, but I can't help being nervous that it will all end badly. I guess all this worry is silly - I know I'll read the book and try to forget it if it's awful. A different addition doesn't necessarily reflect on the whole thing, and the original books will always be my favourites.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

shame and needles

Tomorrow I have a job interview. I thought I'd never get that far, so I should be happy and excited, but I'm mostly a little ashamed. Whatever, I'll go and it will be a good experience whatever happens - I've never had a face-to-face interview because I'm apparently incompetent at job-finding. Anyway, I lowered my standards and suddenly I have an interview! What does THAT say about me? Could this end with me employed at last? Ha. We shall see.

The interview is relatively near a yarn store, so I'm planning to pick up some DPNS for Liesl afterwards. Hopefully it will go well and I won't feel depressed and tempted to splurge on lovely yarn goodness... / I won't be so joyful that I'll be tempted to reward myself with expensive yarn purchases. Either way. I don't need to buy any yarn right now because I have lots in my queue that I have yarn for. I WANT to buy, though. :P That's probably pretty typical. I'm probably a little too obsessed with requiring self-discipline of myself. If that makes any sense.

Been feeling particularly crafty of late, and I've been experimenting with combining some crafts I enjoy: polymer clay and decoupage. I dug the sculpey out recently after years of neglect, and luckily most of it is still usable.The combination arose entirely from spatial placement of my craft materials. The polymer clay lives in an old cookie tin on a shelf next to a stack of old Cooking Light magazines. I love the colours in magazine ad photos, and I've always liked combining them through collage; I don't feel guilty slashing and chopping apart ads like I would cannibalizing a National Geographic. So far I've made a few disastrous pendants with polymer clay as a base, but with each mishap I think I'm getting closer to something workable. Often I'm not so persistent, hehe. Anyway, I'm having fun. Photos to follow eventually. I need to acquire some kind of sealant/varnish/terrible spray.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More body dilemmas

Musing on two sweaters I suddenly want to make: February Lady Sweater, and Snow White.

Problems, as I see them: FLS is loose and not fitted. I'm not beanpole skinny, and I fear that this shape would make me look bulky. Snow White is certainly fitted (possibly too much so?), but what worries me is the square-ish neckline. Somewhere I picked up the idea that I can't wear square necklines. I can't remember why. Maybe it has something to do with my face shape, or my broad shoulders.

The fact that I can't remember the reasoning and yet cling to the directive probably points to the total irrationality of some of my fashion hangups. I'm a little obsessed with the idea that everything I knit must have waist shaping, although why is not exactly clear. I think I need to take a leap into the untried and see what happens - I want to reject preconceived and perpetuated media/cultural ideas of proper body shape and emphasis and just do what I want.

And yet, I know I'll be very disappointed and discouraged if I make a sweater that turns out to be entirely unsuitable. So I stay safe, even if I shouldn't.

In less hypothetical news, Liesl is chugging along nicely. I've finished the body section, and once I acquire 7mm dpns I'll do the sleeves. Next task: find perfect buttons.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Because I'm a critic, just like everyone else

vine
Fall is definitely here. It's a beautiful bright, cool day, but not cold. I caught this vine in the backyard, already turning red.

Speaking of fall... It seems to me the Fall issue of Knitty is full of the crazy. I like a lot of it for its quirkiness, but that doesn't mean I'll make it. But maybe I will.

Versatility is brilliant in theory. I'm tempted to try it, maybe without the bobbles. The more I look at it the more I'm fascinated.

I've never been too keen on knitting huge things like blankets. OpArt is probably the first baby blanket pattern I've seen that I actually want to make. I will keep this in mind.

All the socks in this issue look fun, but especially Garden Gate. What is it with me and colourwork socks? I find myself so drawn to them, but at the same time convinced that attempting it would end horribly. I need more colourwork practice first, anyway.

Slither cracks me up, but I very much doubt I'll make it. Waves of Grain is beautiful. Kinetic would be dignified and subdued as a scarf

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Brrr

IMG_1652

Fall blew in this week after the sunniest late August and early September. I still have my window open because I like the fresh air and the cool breeze, but it is getting chilly. I love summer, although I get impatient with muggy humidity and heavy air. I also love fall; there's something comforting about being able to sleep with blankets again.

IMG_1680
Last week I saw rosehips so big and red that they looked like cherries.

In the summer I exist barefoot indoors and out as much as possible, but the slight chill makes me want to knit and wear socks. It may yet warm up again, but this way there will be no more sweat and sunscreen in the knitting.

Monday, September 08, 2008

wip

2008,knitting,cardigan,liesl

The garbled mess above is Liesl. I've been looking forward to making this for a while, but upon starting I immediately messed up, ripped back, and messed up again. Every time I start a new project I forget how traumatic it is - I generally jump right in and make loads of mistakes and have to start over. All my fault, of course, because I can't count. Sigh. Now I'm on track, I think. *crosses fingers*

Sunday, September 07, 2008

101 in 1001

I'm jumping on the goal-setting bandwagon. A while back I decided that New Year's Resolutions were silly, and that it was more interesting to make resolutions that apply right away whatever the time of year was. I then resolved to turn off the shower while I washed my hair to conserve water. Needless to say, after the first few days I started to fail. Despite that, I still think that resolutions or goals or whatever should be set at any time, to be accomplished at any time.

I've decided to try 101 things in 1001 days. I've seen this around the internet, and it looked like a neat idea. For a laugh. For some self-improvement, maybe. Because 1001 days is long enough to actually get some of these things accomplished, but it is short enough that I can't continuously procrastinate like I might if the end date were my death. We'll see how far I get. I know some of my tasks aren't as quantifiable as would be useful, but I'll be satisfied if by the end I generally feel I've made progress on those things. Many of these things may show themselves to be impossible or undesirable in the future, but that's life. In no particular order, then, here is my list:

Started September 6, 2008
Finishes June 4, 2011

italics = in progress
bold = completed

1. Get a temporary job
2. Write a novel
3. Learn (and use) 150 new words [51/150]
4. Knit a lace shawl (Ishbel, finished Feb. 2010)
5. Knit a cabled sweater (Vivian, finished Dec 2009 / January 2010)
6. Perform a random act of kindness
7. Organize my old notes, schoolwork etc and consolidate it into one box
8. Reorganize my book shelves so that all my books fit without spilling onto the floor completed Sept 22, 2008
9. Steek something
10. Sew a casual dress that flatters my shape
11. Acquire a decent fountain pen
12. Knit knee-high socks (Delicious Socks?)
13. Read Emma, by Jane Austen, all the way to the end
14. Paint something with watercolours
15. Make and fill an art journal
16. (Private)
17. Handpaint some yarn April 2010
18. Take a road trip
19. Reconstruct a man’s shirt into a blouse
20. Launch new webcomic
21. Get prints made of my favourite digital photos
22. Read the Iliad and the Odyssey in their entirety, back to back
23. Paint on a canvas
24. Send something to PostSecret
25. Sew a skirt from scratch, May 2010
26. Knit something for a baby
27. Read Ulysses (cliché, I know)
28. Create embroidery art
29. Read (and understand) a novel in French
30. Read at least 10 works of non-fiction [3/10]
31. Write in my paper journal weekly
32. Buy a suit
33. Read Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon, June 2009
34. Write 5 short stories [0/5]
35. Earn $5500 (May 2009)
36. Read something (to be determined) in the original Latin
37. Read King Lear (May 2009)
38. Silkscreen an ironic (or not so ironic) t shirt
39. Teach someone to knit
40. Draw 5 still-lifes
41. Learn to spin
42. Read something by Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart, May 2009)
43. Read something by Sartre
44. Write and send 3 letters [3/3]
45. Read The Brothers Karamazov
46. Read a long book out loud to/with someone (Nicholas Nickleby)
47. Get a steady job
48. Get appropriate visa to work abroad in England (May 2010)
49. Move to England semi-permanently
50. Go to Spins and Needles
51. Enough in savings account to yield $50 interest per month
52. Sing to someone
53. Visit Italy (April 2009)
54. Visit the Uffizzi gallery in Florence
55. Make a short film
56. Bake croissants from scratch
57. Knit 10 things for other people. [10/10]
58. Explore Toronto (Sept 09)
59. Bake bread from scratch (no bread machine) Feb 2010
60. Visit Spain
61. Go to the Canadian War Museum (December 2008)
62. Swim in the sea
63. Move away from home (at least temporarily) (London, ON: January 7th 2009)
64. Invest in some comfortable flat black leather boots (not suede)
65. Walk at least 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week
66. Hike in the Lake District
67. Run 5 km
68. Learn how to cook salmon (Sept 09)
69. Learn 5 songs on guitar [1/5]
70. Take a yoga class
71. Have a 24-hour silent fast (similar to first year, except 24 hours as opposed waking hours)
72. Learn to swing dance
73. Hike in Gatineau once a year
74. Go to 3 classical / orchestral / chamber music concerts [3/3] (Evelyn Glennie at NAC, Nov 26, 2008), (Kanata Symphony, 9 May 2009), (Parkdale Orchestra, May 2009)
75. Get a haircut and donate my hair to a charity, 30 May 2009
76. Be social with friends once a month (Sept 08, Oct 08, Nov 08, Dec 08, Jan 09, Feb 09, March 09, April 09, May 09, June 09, July 09, Aug 09, Sept 09, Oct 09, Nov 09, Dec 09, Jan 10, Feb '10, April '10, May '10)
77. Wear a different pair of earrings every day for a month(started Sept 9, finished Oct 9)
78. Attend a knit night (August 2009)
79. Drag out the bike and do whatever maintenance needs doing
80. Bike from my house to downtown
81. Get my colours done (just for a lark)
82. Get a pedicure
83. Go out and buy a few CDs I’ve been meaning to get for ages (definitive selection to be determined)
84. Try some food I have never had before (cuttle-fish ink pasta, Modena 2009)
85. Do 50 crunches in one go
86. Do my hair without braiding it every day for a month
87. Walk from home to Parliament Hill
88. Design a knit item and write up the pattern.
89. Buy new sport sandals
90. Make lemon meringue pie
91. (Private)
92. Cook from 30 new recipes [8/30]
a. Pepper Lime chicken, New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (13.01.09)
b. Smashed chickpea salad/sandwich: Smitten Kitchen (30.03.09)
c. Kalamata lemon chicken, New Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (31.03.09)
d. Vegetarian Shepherd’s pie (Sept 09)
e. Quiche! (Oct 09)
f. Boeuf Bourguignon (Jan, 2010)
g. Coq au Vin
h. Pizza (March 2010)
93. Try raw food for a week
94. Be vegan (not raw) for a week (Sept/Oct 09)
95. Write a song
96. Learn to play and improvise on 5 new songs for saxophone [0/5]
97. Go to 3 jazz concerts [3/3] (Jazz at grad club, April '09) (Ottawa Jazz Festival, June 2009)
98. See Leonard Cohen in concert
99. See a play. (professional production)
100. Learn to identify the plants in the garden by scientific name
101. Get a masters degree

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cool or creepy?

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One Japanese beetle on some clover. I didn't know it was a Japanese beetle until I consulted google image search later, but I thought it looked interesting.

A few hundred metres farther on, interesting turned into slightly terrifying.

aaah!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Brownies are a vegetable

Mmmmm

A few years ago, my mom discovered that pureed pumpkin is an excellent substitute for butter/margarine in brownies (and as it turns out, some other baked goods). Ever since, we've made brownies with pumpkin exclusively. We ran out of freezer pumpkin, but we have loads of zucchini and squash from the garden, so the other day I did an experiment (GASP). My mom also used to make zucchini chocolate cake, and I thought - why not zucchini brownies? I ended up using crookneck squash, but I expect it is texturally equivalent to zucchini.

Brownies with squash/zucchini/pumpkin/other
or, "What I did this time"
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white sugar (less if using sweetened applesauce/peaches etc)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup pureed (lightly cooked) squash
1/4 cup vegetable oil (optional)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp instant coffee powder

Slice squash thinly. Steam or cook with some water in microwave until it begins to get clear and soft. Cool and puree in food processer.

Mix dry ingredients, sifting cocoa and instant coffee if required. Stir in oil and squash, beat in eggs and vanilla. Preheat oven at 350 F. Bake in lightly greased or parchment papered 9" square pan. These took a long time to bake, and I probably checked them too frequently, but I think it ended up being about 40 minutes.

The brownies turned out really moist and chewy. Mmmmm.

In the past I've also used pureed canned peaches, and I expect apple sauce works as well. Sometimes I leave out the extra oil, and it also seems to work.