30 November 2007

PayDay! and 'tis it the season?

Well, today marks that ever cherished holiday in the annals of Brouhaha - PAYDAY!

(I should note that PayDay occurs twice a month, luckily for me. The Ides Payday is my preferred holiday, as the End of Month PayDay is immediately followed by that most dreaded of dates in the Brouhaha calendar - Rent Day - that day when I'm forced to write out a four-figure (eek!!) cheque and give it to the dreaded LANDLORD).
This typically means, if you have followed this blog for any length of time, that tomorrow you will be expecting a big post with about 50 photos of the yarn I am about to acquire today. Well, I have news for you. There will be no yarn purchases today.

I imagine that you think I am deluding myself... and that in fact a little skein of Handmaiden will manage to leap into my hands as I pass Knitomatic this evening - or that I will be scooting over to Romni over the lunch hour. However, I have tremendous willpower. I even managed to quit smoking for three months once! And if I can do that, I can do... well, just about anything but quit smoking again, apparently.

But what is the real reason I'm not buying any yarn today? you ask.

Well - there are a couple of reasons.

First, I came across this in the stash, which I have been avoiding looking at:Rowan Calmer, purchased for making the diabolical Morrigan by Jenna Wilson in the No Sheep for You pattern book.

This is my progress to date on the Morrigan:

2 inches into the first sleeve, back in August. That's it. Then it went into the back of one of my stash shoeboxes, never to see the light of day again.

And, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I will likely never knit this pattern. It's not in the cards for the next few years, at any rate. I love the way the finished pattern looks, but frankly I do not enjoy the level of cable knitting involved, so there seems little point. If I were to try to do it, this would just be setting an unpleasurable and tedious challenge for myself. In my blog post in August about this, I wrote that I thought knitting it would be "fun, in the masochistic sense of the word, to knit." I have no idea what I meant by this at the time, as I don't really think masochism is fun. So, I'm packing it in. Life is too damned short.
(I am just type A enough that I could not actually convince myself of this logic until it dawned on me that Jenna Wilson, another lawyer - and a higher-falutin' one than my legal aid self, I should imagine! - did not even knit this pattern although she designed it. Someone please do correct me if I'm wrong about this! Anyway, if she didn't, then why do I feel obligated to? Hmm...)

So - while saluting Wannietta, who knit the original photographed for the pattern, and Laura, who is the only person I'm aware of to actually have completed it besides Wannietta, I will have to content myself with admiring their efforts. I note that on Ravelry there are only those two finished Morrigans and a few more in progress - most, like mine, hibernating.

So, all this to say that I've decided to use the Calmer to knit this instead:

The Jess Gansey, which is featured in Interweave Knits, Winter 2007 - pattern is available for free through Knitting Today!! Similar idea to Morrigan, but far less daunting.

Which means that effectively I already have new "luxury" yarn available to me... which, in turn, means that I don't have to buy any today.

(Does my logic make sense to anyone else but me? I really doubt it.)

Where was I again? Oh yes.

Second, I just bought Handmaiden and Fleece Artist earlier in the week.

Third, I'm leaving for vacation in 2 1/2 weeks' time and will not be doing much knitting while away.

Fourth, ... agh!!! I'm going to stop rationalising now - and I'm just not going to the yarn store today, damnit!

I must confess that I will be heading over to Chapters after lunch to hunt for some books - and I am not undertaking to refrain from buying a pattern book or two if I see anything interesting!!

On my way to work this morning, I thought I'd splurge on a little treat for the co-workers - it is one of my long-standing PayDay traditions to buy some food treat to share with others on the time-honoured principle that coming to work shouldn't be a drag all the time.

(What is this photo doing here? you ask? It was what came up in my first attempt to import John Cleese, above, from my desktop. I cannot for the life of me remember what I used this picture for - probably some joke on the coworkers. However, Panoramix was always my favourite, so I'll just leave it here)
Well, given that it's nearly December, it is increasingly difficult to avoid tripping over monster-sized over-priced snack displays nearly everywhere you turn! At Timothy's coffee shop this morning, for example, a huge table had materialised right next to the entrance containing all sorts of treats such as chocolate covered cranberries and espresso beans, fancy teamug sets, gadgets for making coffee - etc. Nothing for less than $15, mind you. I could barely get to the front to order a coffee! At least Tim Horton's doesn't subject one to this type of display (I guess they make enough money...).

I then stopped at the new local food mart, Fresh & Wild(ly Expensive) where I drop in to get bagels most days. The bagels are about the only affordable thing in this joint. I'm told they spent $40,000 on a sound system - for a mini grocery mart?! You can sit and watch four plasma TVs while waiting to order a coffee, that sort of thing.

I guess this is why you have to pay $15 for a tin of hot chocolate.

That's right - $15.00. But it's the Barefoot Contessa's Sinful Hot Chocolate Mix, mind you:
Here's the blurb:

Rich and smooth, chocolaty and so sinfully delicious. Nothing is better on a blustery cold day than a steaming cup of hot chocolate. This mix is incredible, made from only the finest chocolate. Just add milk!
Oh - does the $15 include a litre of milk too?

Let's have a look at the ingredients:

  • sugar
  • dutched cocoa powder
  • coffee powder
  • vanilla
  • salt
  • Hmm - no gold dust? Amazing. I reckon $15 could get me at least 5 kilos of sugar or cocoa powder, about 10 kilos of salt, 1 1/2 kilos of nescafe... and how much does vanilla cost, anyway? With this, I could have enough hot chocolate for me and all my friends for the rest of our natural lives.

    Or, for $15, I could make this one and probably still have money left over from the $15 for a mickey of Frangelico to slip into it...

    I'll pass on the cocoa powder. For that price, I wouldn't buy it unless the Barefoot Contessa threw in a catered dinner on top of it.

    Other delights at Fresh and Wild:
  • christmas fruitcake: 6" diameter (approx. 5 kilo weight from what I could tell!) = $20
  • paella mix (rice and a packet of spices - just add shrimp and chicken!) = $14.00
  • cookie mix in a mason jar: $14.00 for 24 cookies approx (for that, I think they should throw in a self-cleaning mixing bowl and baking tin, frankly).
  • What did I end up buying? Some oatmeal cookies. $5 for the package, but they're tasty, anyway, and I didn't have to bake them.

    Happy Friday! And, you'll be glad to know that today marks the wedding anniversary of Lucy and Desi.

    They eloped. How romantic is that? Too bad the marriage didn't last.

    29 November 2007

    Ribbed... for her pleasure?

    Just when you've left the baby at the sitter's and think you've got some privacy...

    I guess Quack and Daisy like the feel of this CotLin as much as I do!!!

    This is the Brioche Rib Vest (from The Best of Interweave Knits) - a true Bespoke by Brouhaha piece, commissioned by:
    JJ... light of my life, apple of my eye, etc.

    (Having said that, I made him buy the yarn and some for me besides. He repaid me by picking the colour that I had bought for myself instead of the bland old Oatmeal that I had intended for this vest. I knew I shouldn't have given him any options... and here I thought that Scottish people liked oatmeal!!)

    I very much like this pattern, although I have to say it doesn't much look like that in the pattern book (the yarn is of a completely different composition). This is the right side:

    ... and this is the wrong side.
    Perversely, I actually prefer the "wrong" side to the right. I will, however, let JJ pick whichever he prefers before starting on the front sections... nice of me, eh?

    Even more perversely, I got a big kick out of posing my little duckies on top of it while JJ was watching "Kidnapped" with Michael Caine for the seventh or eighth time (too many bagpipes for my taste, but each to his own...).

    JJ did not actually notice what I was doing with this until I was almost finished. I knew he had noticed, though (or perhaps he was just distracted by my cackling uproariously), when I heard that trademark sigh, followed by:

    JJ: What exactly are they doin', then?

    KB: Makin' sweet lurve...
    JJ (with his usual sagacity) seemed to ignore this response - until 10 minutes later when he saw the last photo above loaded onto the computer...

    JJ: Lassie, why are these ducks screwin' on top of my sweater, anyway?

    KB: They're not screwing on top of your sweater, they're just cuddling... (scrolled forward to the first photo)...see, here they're not just cuddling, though.

    (long pause)

    JJ: I don't know what to do with ye. Yer a wee horror. And a bampot. What is this fascination with rrrrubber ducks, anyway?

    KB: I don't know, I must have had a deprived childhood or something.

    JJ: Nonononono... that's yer excuse for buying all that chewin' gum and blowin' bubbles and breakin' them! That can't be yer excuse as well for this nonsense.

    KB: Why not?
    Silence. Then:
    JJ: Look, Ah'm just trying to watch my video, OK? So behave. Stop muckin' aboot with those duckies. Gi'us peace!!

    KB: You said "duckies"!!! hee hee hee

    JJ: (deep sigh, then turns up the volume on the TV).
    Puir wee JJ. He has a great deal to put up with, living with a wee bampot like me!

    Must sign off now. I want to do a swatch for another sweater before I leave for work. It's amazing I ever manage to get to work, actually...

    Oh, and in parting: today apparently is the birthday of 1976 - Michalis Kakiouzis. Who is he? A Greek basketball player. I always get a big laugh when I think about Greek basketball teams. Even thought I am Greek-Canadian, the only Greek of my acquaintance that appears anywhere near tall enough to actually play pro basketball is Takis here:
    Maybe when he's not blowing his own horn, he's practicing to be the next addition to the Toronto Raptors! (I suspect he'd have to lose the skirt and the pompoms to get anywhere with that ambition, thought).


    KB: JJ, did you know that they have pro basketball teams in Greece?

    JJ: Really?... what do they call that, then... the PeeWee League?

    heh heh heh. The JB household is never short on comedy, I tell you!

    28 November 2007

    The Group of Seven still lives!!!!

    Look!!!! UFOs (the ones with aliens, not the ones with yarn and sometimes needles attached which you might find stuffed into the back of the closet if you're like me) have descended upon Toronto!!! The Group of Seven just came in on those, I swear to you (the large one must be the Mother Ship).

    Er... I'm jesting, really. This is my (extremely lame, even worse than usual!) attempt to photograph the buttons I bought yesterday for JJ's cardigan in progress. I won't show you the photo taken without the flash because it looks like mouse dung (and, having lived in 15 apartments in Toronto since I moved here 16 years ago, I have a really good sense of what that looks like!).

    Now for some (slightly) better photos: my Mason-Dixon Knitting Miniature Series. (a.k.a. the Group of Seven. I really hope I don't get visited by seven irate male paint stained ghosts during my sleep...).

    It was originally supposed to be the Group of Nine but my ADHD kicked in even sooner than usual.

    All of the below were knitted using Svale Stork fingering cotton (lovely stuff, highly recommended!) and 2.5 mm doublepointed bamboo needles (no casualties - yippee!). They were then mounted on little 4"x4" canvases. JJ will be earning his dinner tomorrow evening by putting them up during the day while I'm at work.

    And here they are in clockwise order from the top right corner (how organized am I?!?)

    1. Baby Nina Shawl
    This is the my original modification of it - my mother's Christmas present last year.

    2. Baby Baby Moderne

    Here is my full-size version of this blankie (knitted with Bernat Handicrafter yarn sometime in mid-late 2006):

    I'm not big on the colours (aside from the red) but they were what were plentiful (at Zellers) and cheap. This was my first blanket and I didn't know if I'd go the whole distance, so didn't want to shell out big cash.

    3. Baby Curve of Pursuit

    This is an absolutely wonderful pattern by Pat Ashforth of Woolly Thoughts. I truly believe that everyone should try knitting one of her afghan patterns at least once. There are dozens to choose from!

    This is my Baby Curve right smack dab in the centre of my large Curve.
    4. Ballband Warshcloth

    I have never knitted a real warshcloth. Until I knit this one, I had been firm that I never, ever would (never say never!) However, as you may recall I've done two high-falutin' artistic versions: A Woman's Work no. 1 and A Woman's Work... #2.

    5. Baby Baby Kimono

    Again, I've never knit the full-sized version. I'm not around babies all that much - well, never. Probably a very lucky thing for them.

    6. Circle of Fun

    Here is the mini-version of this lovely rug.
    I haven't made it full size - although one day I think I will (I would use Brown Sheep Burly spun or Bulky rather than anything else doubled). However, I did adapt the centre pattern for my Pinwheel Blankie.
    This poor blankie was cut down (or bleached) in the prime of its life by some chickenhead who lives in this building and believes it's a good idea to put an entire bottle of Javex in during the wash cycle. I got that washing machine immediately after (and there were quite a few more casulaties, trust me). A pox on his/her head!!!

    And, finally (in my inimitable "couldn't take a good photo to save my life" fashion - this time I'm blaming the fact that it is dark these days both when I leave work and when I come home):

    7. A baby log cabin square

    The true colours are something between this:
    ...and this:

    This was my first stab at this concept:

    (It has been gifted to Holly Ogre together with some Smarties and Terry's chocolate orange. Maybe if Holly's feeling nice today she'll post a comment linking you to the photo of the full-size version on her blog...)

    ... and this was my second stab at it (with Fleece Artist Curlilocks and wool slub from one of their afghan kits. I got sick of the yarnovers.)

    So, that's all, folks!!!

    Oh, not quite (you didn't think I was going to let you off the hook that easily, did you?) I know you'll be shocked, but I did end up going back to the LYS today and acquiring the lemon yellow Super 10...

    ... and some in a lovely fuschia/purply colour besides. It was on deep discount, so I actually saved money!!! (yes, keep talking, Evil Kristina...).

    And, in parting, I'm sure you'll all be thrilled to learn that today marks the 17th anniversary of the resignation of the Iron Lady (now Baroness Thatcher) as Prime Minister of Britain. I've decided that when I grow up, I want to be a Baroness too..."Baroness Brouhaha" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

    27 November 2007

    Shameless self-indulgence...

    ...or, How Kristina Went to the LYS for Buttons Only and Ended Up Buying More Handmaiden and Fleece Artist.

    I imagine that just about any knitter who reads this will relate to tales of an everburgeoning stash. My stash drawers and tote box, in particular, runneth over with fancy silks, silk blends and wool by those beckoning sirens, Handmaiden and Fleece Artist.

    With this in mind, I set off for the LYS at the lunch break - only, mind you, to look for buttons for JJs vest in the making:

    When I got to the LYS, however, I realised that I had forgotten they now close on Mondays!

    I remained remarkably calm. After all, there was a huge sewing emporium just down the street. So, I popped in there and got the buttons. I felt quite virtuous that I hadn't just gone back to the office and tried the LYS again on Tuesday instead.

    Virtuous, that is, until 2:30 p.m. or so when visions of this started dancing in my head...

    A skein of Fleece Artist Italian Silk that looks remarkably, er. chartreuse. The identical skein, in fact, to one that I had been laughing at the last time I was at the LYS close to my house, Knitomatic I think my words to Leane, who works at the store, were "There is no one in the world who this bile colour would look decent on."

    No one, apparently, except Evil Kristina, to whom the yellowy-green colour was a light beckoning me towards some oasis.

    By the time I left work it was pouring with rain which was starting to turn into sleet. I made a steadfast decision not to stop in at Knitomatic (a ten minute walk from my place) and instead to take the bus all the way home.

    Until, that is, the Knitomatic bus stop (as I have come to think of it - I can't even tell you the name of the cross-street!) approached.

    The inevitable internal dialogue then began:

    Evil Kristina: Hey!!! You forgot to pull the bell cord. Our stop's coming up.

    Good Kristina: I told you we're not stopping here tonight. The weather is crap, and besides, that colour is horrid.

    Evil Kristina: Well then, let's just go have a look at it again. It will make you feel good to walk out of there without having bought anything.
    Good thinking. At any rate, although no one usually gets off at this stop, about five people stood up and made tracks to the door. This was a sign.

    So, when I arrived at Knitomatic looking like a drowned chipmunk (oh, did I mention I forgot my umbrella today?), I headed straight for the little baskets where the Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns live. And guess what I saw?

    A shiny buttercream confection of half silk, half wool - by Handmaiden.

    Good Kristina: Put that back. You don't need it.

    Evil Kristina: Of course I don't need it - I want it! It's only $31 - a steal!

    Good Kristina: But just think of that whole stash of Handmaiden and Fleece Artist that we came across yesterday in the spare room!

    Evil Kristina: Did you see any in this colour there?

    Good Kristina: Er... no, come to think of it.

    Evil Kristina: Well, don't we need a nice neutral colour for a change to balance off all those jewel tones?
    (Good point!)

    Good Kristina: NO!!! Besides, since you bought all that laceweight yarn, you haven't even wanted to knit any more lace! So, what is the point of buying more?

    Evil Kristina: I already told you, that's going to be the New Year's resolution - lace knitting. Forget that "quitting smoking" bit. You just set yourself up for failure when you try to quit smoking at New Year's!

    Good Kristina: But we don't even believe in New Year's resolutions!!!

    Evil Kristina: My point exactly!!

    Good Kristina: That doesn't even make sense, you moron. Besides, we decided at the beginning of the summer that we wouldn't be buying any more wool, and stick to cotton and other stuff.

    Evil Kristina: Oh? So why'd you buy this in August then?

    Good Kristina: (grasping at straws) Well, it was cheap. And I still want to knit lace.

    Evil Kristina: But the buttercream colour looks so Victorian! It's perfect for lace.
    (Score: 1/0 for Evil Kristina. But, never content to rest on her laurels...)

    Evil Kristina: So, what about this one then?

    Good Kristina: (exasperated) What about it?!? The buttercream one is meant to be instead of this one. Let's just pay for it and go.

    Evil Kristina: But it's so funky!!

    Good Kristina: It is not "funky", it's hideous. Why do you think it's still sitting there? Because no one wants to buy it!

    Evil Kristina: But it's Italian Silk by Handmaiden!!

    Good Kristina: We already have two skeins of that, don't you remember?!?

    Evil Kristina: So? When did that ever stop you before? Remember that week when you searched high and low throughout the city to find Sea Silk in the Ocean colourway after hearing about it on Ravelry...

    ...and then, the same week - the same week, mind you! - you saw this purple Sea Silk...
    ...and just had to have it!!

    Good Kristina: (sulking) It was my birthday that week.

    Evil Kristina: Ah yes, your birthday. Didn't you buy the Alchemy that week as well, because you just had to make that Oriel blouse which now you don't even like any more?

    Good Kristina: Um, er...

    Evil Kristina: And how convenient that it falls right after that stupid Payday holiday you've started celebrating to justify your spending to yourself!

    Good Kristina: We're not getting the chartreuse colour. Period.

    (long pause)

    Evil Kristina: Look, you know you're just going to come back later in the week for it - and you'll be pissed off if it's not there!

    (longer pause)

    Good Kristina: I don't know...

    Evil Kristina: Look at it this way. You're knitting that vest for JJ, right? Despite the fact that you have all this other stuff you want to make for yourself? So, don't you deserve a little treat?

    Good Kristina: (faltering) But... if I get new silk I won't want to finish his vest...

    Evil Kristina: Hey, you've got lots of willpower. You'll finish it. He needs it for the trip, right?

    Good Kristina: ...well, all right then.
    Final score: 2/0 for Evil Kristina.

    And the moral of the story, you ask? Never go to the LYS for buttons again. There are sewing shops that sell buttons without all of the other tempations that the LYS holds...

    Temptations such as this:

    And this...

    ...and more of this...

    (The first photo that I took of this yarn, by the way, will show you just how excited I was by my new purchases - jumping up and down!)

    Not to mention this:
    Good Kristina: Well, surely that doesn't really count as I bought it on sale 1/2 price!

    Evil Kristina: Yeah, but were these two on sale? Huh? Huh?

    Good Kristina: Um, er...
    You would think that I would learn, wouldn't you!

    Sigh. In closing, last year on this day Harper (the PM)'s motion to declare Québécois "a nation within a unified Canada" was endorsed. I still haven't figured out what that means, but hey.



    PS. Actually, the final score was 2/1 for Evil Kristina. She spotted a bright yellow skein of Super 10 on her way out but Good Kristina managed to talk her out of it in light of this:

    (Hmm. No yellow. Maybe I'll have to walk home from the subway station this evening. It doesn't really take that much longer than the bus...

    Yeah, right.)

    26 November 2007

    bad teeth day

    Well, it's Monday again - time for me to get off my lazy @$$ and back to work.

    It's been a fairly productive weekend on the crafting front - I've finished knitting my Mason-Dixon Knitting miniature series (packed it in after 7). They are still waiting to be mounted.

    After making the executive decision that I did not need nine miniatures, I then decided it would be a fantastic idea to make a scarf from the remaindered yarn. So I started that:

    This is how far I got because I became completely bored with the scarf. I am knitting it horizontally - thus, there are about 2 milion stitches cast on to a 2.75mm 47" long needle! See?

    Whose bright idea was that again?

    So - I ended up casting on for a vest for JJ that I had been putting off (after all, it's not for me!).

    This will be the Man's Brioche Vest by Erica Alexander, found in The Best of Interweave Knits or the Winter 2003 edition of Interweave Knits mag. I could not find a full photo of it on line - even on Ravelry! Surely I can't be the first person to make this vest!

    Anyway, so far it's a lot more fun to knit than that blasted scarf!

    I also did some work on my feudalism altered book project, which is coming along nicely, and ordered a load of beads from Earthfaire.

    No big news otherwise from the weekend - however, I have a little pet peeve to share. When I popped into the smoke shop yesterday to grab some smokes, I got stuck behind a woman who was dickering with the guy in the store about her own cigarette purchase. Specifically, she was insisting that she not be given a cigarette package with the
    bad teeth on it. This meant that he had to rip open two other cartons of cigarettes before he could locate one, which had this label instead:
    (Please note that I am not refraining from showing you the bad teeth warning because it is ugly. Rather, it is copyrighted - or so says Health Canada anyway.)

    Now, I must say that I had thought all that fuss about the "bad teeth" warning had died down, although I seem to remember this being a fuss for a lot of people when they first came out with these warnings (which cover half the pack, mind you!). I ended up having quite a bit of time to ruminate over this, as - just when I thought the "say no to a bad smile" woman hauled out a sheaf of lotto forms and decided she needed 98 6/49 tickets. 98! That costs $196!! And the 6/49 draw is twice a week!

    Anyway, I really don't get the insistence on refusing to buy a pack of smokes based on the
    Anti-Smoking warning label. I mean, is this how narcissistic we are as a people?

    "Oh, smoking causes lung cancer. Oh well. If I continue to smoke, I'll end up on a ventilator in hospital? Fair enough. Cigarettes have cyanide and formaldehyde in it?

    Well, everyone knows it's the tar that's bad for you. And I'm destroying other people's lives with my second hand smoke? That's their problem. And what if my kids mimic me and start smoking, ensuring a tragic premature death? Well, I'll be dead by then of lung cancer or emphysema anyway, so I won't be around to see it.

    "Hold on - you're telling me I'm going to have an unsightly smile...?!?!!?!"
    Really. It seems to me that if Health Canada were really serious about getting people to quit smoking, they would scrap all of the other warning labels and force the tobacco manufacturers to use the bad teeth warning. Or, better yet, force smokers to go and sit in a room filled with photos of people with gum disease for three or four days. I just hope that they let me know in advance so that I can start up a company to market fancy cigarette cases!!!!

    Actually, when they first came out with these big photographic warnings on the smoke packs, parody labels were being sold practically everywhere, with such bon mots as "Smoking Makes You Hoark Up Brown Chunks" and "Smoking Makes You Smell Like an Ashtray". I don't know whatever happened to those, but it strikes me that those types of messages would be a better deterrent than the threat of lung cancer.

    This, although it may appear to be a parody, is not one:

    And how did you guess that this one is my personal favourite?

    A very happy Monday to you... and in parting, I'll just note that the NHL celebrates its 90th anniversary today! It started up with five Canadian teams only - the Montreal Canadiens (fondly known as "Habs" today), Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas.