Sunday, May 30, 2010

prédisposée aux accidents

So. I may or may not have broken the little toe on my left foot for the second time in nine months. I feel more than a little stupid about this, but mostly angry that I'm left hobbling around again. I have many sedentary hobbies, but just as the time comes to participate in one of my favourite non-sedentary hobbies, I trip and mess up my toe. Argh.

On Friday, the toe episode: I tripped over a yoga chair thing at an ashram. (Maybe a story for another time?) On Saturday, a trip to Parc National de la Mauricie for hiking, canoeing, swimming, etc. It's really not so bad, and if it's broken I now know what to expect, since it happened before, but I'm not too pleased about the inconvenience. I'm being very careful with my toe, and trying not to spend too much time on my feet just in case.

Nonetheless, it was a fun day full of beauty.


While I was very annoyed not to be able to do a lot of hiking or at least walking around, things worked out. I did about half of the "easy hike," and spent most of the rest of the day hanging out by some waterfalls taking in the scenery and feeding the population of blackflies.

(made with the bighugelabs mosaic maker)

And knitting. Observe my blurry, out of focus shots of my sock. I tried. Ah well, at least the waterfall looks good! This is the beginning of Skew, knit in my easter-egg dyed Elann sock yarn. I already suspect that the colour repeats are too short to really do this pattern justice, but I think I'll keep going and see how it turns out. In the ravelry group for koolaid dyeing, the term "clown barf" is used frequently to describe very colourful handpaint jobs, but as I knit this stuff up I keep thinking it's more like unicorn barf. (Vomi de licorne?). I love it anyway.

Monday, May 24, 2010

je m'occupe

I have been going places and seeing things, in addition to sitting in class and wracking my brains for French expressions. Last week I went to Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap, in Trois Rivieres.

The place is huge and slightly terrifying. In addition to a basilica and a small original church, there's a massive park with artificial rivers and symbolic bridges.
To take pictures of the stained glass windows, I played with my camera's manual settings and used the wall and pews as steadying devices in absence of a tripod. It worked pretty well!

Yesterday, I went to Quebec City, and ended up with a load of mediocre photos. Seriously, none of them turned out the way I'd hoped. Ah well, I'll share some anyway. I'd been before, several years ago, and I'd forgotten how beautiful Vieux Quebec is.


The whole city smelled like lilacs. (Des lilas, en français.) Okay, that's an exaggeration, but I love lilacs and to have the smell wash over me as I wandered along made me happy.

Samuel de Champlain, you swashbuckler you!

I spent far too much on food yesterday, but it was worth it. I ate crêpes, answered in French to the serveuses who spoke to me in English, learned some new quebecois expressions, and encountered some interesting people.

Tomorrow, we have a much needed break - it may be Victoria Day in the rest of Canada, but here in Quebec it's the Journée nationale des patriotes. Ah, Quebec!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Des mots de jeudi

J'essaie d'écrire en français un peu aujourd'hui. Si quelqu'un parle français et trouve des erreurs (qui sont inévitable), corrigez-moi!

Ne paniquez pas: je n'ecrirai pas en français toujours...

(I'm trying to write in French today. If anyone reading this speaks French and finds my inevitable mistakes, please correct me! Don't panic: I won't write in French all the time...)

un autre fleur qui s'ouvre sur le campus


1. (Oeuf) S'ouvrir
2. Se dit d'une fleur en bouton qui s'ouvre
3. [fig] naître, paraître

~Le Robert Micro

1. to open out, to blossom; to hatch ; [fig] to develop
2. [fig] to dawn


Thursday, May 13, 2010

WIP on Wednesday

Thanks for all the supportive comments. I'm already learning so much, and I'm glad I came. Damn, speaking/thinking/listening in French all day and night is exhausting, though.

I don't have enough projects to warrant a WIP Wednesday feature like some blogs have. But today is Wednesday, and I do have a work in progress to share.

Lavalette, by Kirsten Kapur

lumpy pre-blocked lace

This is my first lace-weight project, and it was a struggle to start. I botched the garter tab cast-on several times because of the tiny, slippery yarn. It's still not totally right, but it looks fine if you don't look too closely.

Stretched out

Demain je vais essayer de faire mon post en Français car j'apprend beaucoup de mots nouveaux ici. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bonjour, etc etc

I'm safely settled in Trois-Rivières... and last night, along with about 350 other participants, I swore to speak French all the time and everywhere for the next 5 weeks. Right-o. I suppose the internet counts, but I don't think anyone is watching. Nonetheless, I'm trying to be conscientious about it since I really am here to learn - and I won't improve if I don't constantly speak French. So there it is.


Turns out that I have access to the internet in my room. Wahey! Another surprise is that the residence apartment I live in is clean and new - not at all grimy, dirty, or sketchy. Bonus. Though as the photo above shows, the view from my window is... spectacular. Ha. It's all good, and so far not too noisy.

These lovely, cute blossoms grace my walk to class. I don't know what they are, but I like them a lot. Anyone recognize it? It's a bush.

Tomorrow, a WIP on Wednesday.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Always packing.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the wilds of la belle province to do a 5 week French course. I'm excited since this is a great opportunity that costs me almost nothing, but I'm also nervous. The main reason that I'm not fluent in French yet, despite years of exposure through school, university, living in the nation's capital, and most recently working for the government, is that I don't practice speaking because I'm too scared. Until now! Or so I keep telling myself. I'm hoping this course will provide me the kick in the ass I require to use and improve my French. (I'm also hoping it will be super fun. We'll see!)

I'm going to miss watching the garden change through summer.

Nothing to do with anything, but the other day I opened the door and was overpowered by the smell of lilacs. Mmmmm.

So I'm packing. Whenever I try to fit things into a suitcase, I'm reminded of how much unnecessary crap I have. I'm a failed minimalist, since I don't WANT to be a person that owns a lot of stuff, but somehow I collect it and I have a hard time letting go.

I'm trying to pack as for a 5 week vacation, but I keep thinking of this as a packing dress-rehearsal. I have a huge trip coming up a few weeks after I return from Quebec.

In July, I'm going to the UK for an extended period of time. I'm actually moving there, although saying that still sounds impossible. But an extended stay of 2 years + counts as moving, right?

Seriously, that's a logical trajectory. Learn French - Move to the UK. Haha. Whatever. I've been planning this for literally years -- ever since I went on exchange, fell in love with a local boy, and realized that this relationship is worth much more than two or three visits per year. Until now it has been a distant hazy future sort of planning. Now that all the paperwork is sorted, it's starting to feel real, and there are real details to line up. It's all very serious and life-changing, and whatnot. But mostly exciting and terrifying. This is the trip I'm really excited about. And this is the trip that is looming in my head, even though I have a significantly shorter trip coming up tomorrow.

There will be time to sort through my entire collection of worldly possessions when I get back from Quebec, so I don't really need to think about that now. And yet, whenever I look at my suitcase, I start dreading that process, instead of worrying about what I'll need for 5 weeks of university accommodation, cafeteria meals, and weekend excursions.

Not sure what the internet situation will be for my time in Quebec, but I'm bringing my laptop along and hoping for the best. I'll aim for some travel blogging, but not going to make any promises.

Violets are my birth-flower, and we have lots of them in the lawn now.

Sigh. Packing beckons. Enjoy your May/June, everyone!

Friday, May 07, 2010

An FO? Yes! An FO for reals!

It's been too long since I finished a knitting project. I've been knitting a lot, but man. I feel like I'm not getting anywhere on the Noro socks. So, I started these two at a time socks last month to break things up a bit.

Green / Camo Maple Socks

Pattern: Sugar Maple by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too Ty-Dy Socks

Mods: I knit the medium size, but didn't knit the full length for the ankles. I got bored and stopped at about 6 inches. I added length to the foot, to fit my 10 inch long feet.


This was my first try at knitting socks two at a time (henceforth abbreviated as 2AAT). It was... interesting. The 2AAT method described in Morgan-Oakes' book seemed intuitive up until the gussets; at that point, I messed something up and I didn't find the instructions helpful to get me out of the mess. Although I was able to sort it out to some degree, it never really recovered. The toe on one sock is a complete mess as a result - but I fudged the grafting a little so it looks okay. Anyway, it's good enough. Now that I know how it works, I think I'll be able to do it right the next time I try.... but I plan to try a different 2AAT method next time, anyway.

On the plus side, I like the mock cable pattern, and I love how the heels turned out.

Heel flaps are my friend. Short row heels, not so much. More on that later :P.

This is a difficult yarn to deal with, and I wasn't sure which pattern to use. This one looks okay, except the mock cables get lost in the black. The weird colours were the main thing that bothered me about it. From the ball, I had no idea there would be such extended runs of yellowish olive green. On my feet that's no problem, but it's not a colour I generally choose to wear. It's also rather splitty, which is too bad. Things aren't all negative, however: it's very soft and comfortable to wear, and the fit is great. The yarn was a gift, but now that I've tried it I don't think I would buy it for myself.

woolly words

I meant to post these words last week during Knit and Crochet Blog Week, but I totally forgot. So, a week late, my words are vaguely fibre related.

like felt
The Phrontistery

having a goatlike smell; of, like or pertaining to goats
The Phrontistery

To avoid a pictureless post, here is some seasonal flora from around my home.
The crabapple trees are in full force.

The tulips were early and they may be all gone by the time the Tulip Festival gets going.

There is a forest of forget-me-nots on the lawn! My favourite :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Too subtle?

I've run out of white sock yarn to dye at the moment, but I still had some Easter Egg dye mixed in the fridge, so I dyed some gray sock yarn.

The yarn, Fortissima Socka mit Bambou is 25% bamboo, which doesn't absorb food dyes. I knew this going in, and was interested in seeing how the yarn would absorb the dye. That said, I definitely didn't use enough dye, although I supplemented the green/blue Easter egg stuff with some Wiltons Royal Blue and Leaf Green.


The result is a light sage-greeny-blue. Very light. Possibly too light. I contemplated adding more dye or overdyeing it again, but it's growing on me. It's definitely more interesting than plain old gray, if you look at it closely. (Not that I have anything against gray; I just wanted to dye more yarn!)

I dumped the leaf green in when the dye bath was already hot, and I didn't stir, so it stuck in uneven places - this was kind of intentional. You may be able to see some light green traces.


I think the blue took unevenly as well, in some places.


I'm curious to see how this knits up. Next time, I'll probably use more dye and go for a brighter/deeper colour, but an experiment in subtlety isn't a bad thing.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

What a Yarn: Knitting and crochet blog week, day 7

I am a yarn coveter. (coveteuse?) I gaze longingly at pictures of pretty yarn on the internet. In particular, I'm drawn to rich semi-solids.

Here's a short list pulled from my bookmarks that I go back to and ogle every so often:
Sanguine Gryphon
Stricken Smitten
Tanis Fiber Arts

I'm also intensely curious about yarn made with Blue Faced Leicester fibre. It sounds like a miracle fibre! Long stapled wool resistant to pilling, yet super soft? sign me up. Unfortunately, yarn from this wool is elusive. While I can find examples on the internet, I haven't found much in actual yarn shops. I know, this is what the internet is for, and I'll get on that as soon as I have a disposable income :P. For now, I'll remain intensely curious.

Have you used yarns with BFL? Got any recommendations?

This blog week has been a really fun experience, and I'm happy I participated. Thanks to everyone else who participated - I enjoyed reading all the stories and looking at all the pictures. And thanks for commenting! :)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Liesl Revisited: knitcroblo6

Liesl then, September 2008

I finished Liesl in September 2008, and it turned out to be much more versatile than I had expected. I've worn it in every season. It works as a cover-up on chilly summer nights, and as an extra layer to make tank tops viable in spring or fall. Any layer is a good layer in the winter, and Liesl does nicely. Seriously, I think I wore this once a week at least this past winter.

The yarn I used is Zara Plus, a sproingy merino that has pilled a little, but not as much as expected. The sweater has gone from being slightly fancy, to worn-looking and comfortable, and back to presentable - pilling was worst at the middle stage. Miraculously (or, you know, this might be how yarn works), the pilling has pretty much stopped now. Hurray!

Liesl now, May 2010

It has definitely stretched, and it sags a little more in the back than it used to, but I don't really mind. I actually like how the neckline has stretched; when I knit the wide-neck version, I had expected it to turn out wider than it originally did. When it disintegrates, I know I'll be making this one again!