29 February 2008

Jump! for your love...?

Did you know that women are supposed to propose to their sweethearts on Leap Day?! I didn't, until I read this article in yesterday's Star:

Feb. 29 has historically been a special occasion, and not just for those born on the leap day. According to Barbara Sutton-Smith, author of The Leap Year Book, the 29th once was the one day when women were encouraged to propose to their sweeties. The tradition is believed by some to go back as far as 5th-century Ireland.

"We have no idea if this is all true, but there must be some semblance of truth," says Sutton-Smith, "because by 1228, there was a Scottish law that said if a man refused a proposal, he could face a fine."

Editorial comment: Wonder if JJ knows that? The fine money could come in handy for the next trip to the LYS...

The law fell out of use, but the cultural ritual of women offering themselves to men continued. In the early 20th century, popular leap year greeting cards featured drawings of women cajoling their shy grooms into marriage – or at least a date.

Here's some examples of the greeting cards: one by Lance Thackeray (early 20th c.):

...and this one (from 1908):

... and this one (from the 1920s):

Rather quaint, eh? Quite a nice tradition, I think.

But, alas, we are actually ensconced in the 21st century, aka the Century of Bling and Crackberries. So, apparently, more upmarket pleasures are warranted for Leap Day celebration, as I read in the travel section of the Star a couple of weeks back:

British tradition says women can propose marriage on Leap Day and London's historic Mayfair hotel has seized the moment to introduce a "Leap Year Proposal" package, available through March 16.

It includes "Proposal Butler" services, as well as a "Proposal Menu" to help women plan the perfect moment. Rates start at about $1,075 and include accommodation, breakfast for two and bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries on arrival. Examples from the Proposal Menu include:

Top-of-the-World Proposal – from a private capsule on the London Eye, over a bottle of champagne and champagne Truffles;

James Bond-Style Proposal – where a private dealer is hired to host a card game in the hotel's Palms Casino, with the proposal written on a dealt card;

"Bottoms Up" Proposal – a martini with the wedding ring in the bottom of the glass [emphasis added].

So - tell me this, if women can only propose on Leap Day, why are these packages available up to and through two weeks after? Too much of a good thing? Sheesh.

(Having said that, I might sign on for the James Bond-style one, but only if it were guaranteed that I could propose to James Bond himself...

... and that he would have to accept!! Wonder where I can find that old Scottish statute book?!?)

Hmm... was that the whoosh of JJ's virtual whisky glass sailing past my head?! Couldn't have been - he doesn't read the blog - it must be guilt talking. Worry not, JJ...

... you're the one I love. In fact, I was thinking of buying you this:

... but then I remembered as a Greek I'm meant to be superstitious about proposing or getting married during a leap year.

(I also remembered that I don't personally believe in marriage, but that's another story for another day).

So, sorry, JJ. But if you're guid, there might be a bottle of Highland Park 18 yr in it for you...

Oh, just in case my American friends are feeling a bit left out, I'm reminded that today is apparently Sadie Hawkins Day

So, come on up to Fynn of Temples Pub for 4ish today and make sure to ask one of the ultra cute Tenant Advocates for a dance! They will all be in attendance for the Monthly Tenant Advocates' Summit - and the celebrations should be particularly hedonistic summit, given that the next Leap Day summit will not occur until Friday 29 February 2036!

Happy Leap Day!!!

me and my shadow... and my SOTSii clue 6 finished!!!

Forgive the terrible amateur picture - and no dry blocking - but I'm so excited to have finished my Clue 6!!

(and yes, that's me hovering over it with approval...).

This accomplishment, I must say, has improved my day immensely. It started off with me forging out into the -2millionC (-5million F) face-burning cold, surrounded by snow:

This is the view outside my apartment building (note the shadow of the huge light fixture that we tenants are currently reimbursing the Landlord for to the tune of $16,000 per light fixture. But I digress...).

Yes, yes, it looks kinda pretty. But does this?!

Welcome to snow in Toronto. We haven't had a lot for a while, so I guess this is our year.

Anyway, I came home and worked out my frustrations on the SOTSii. And I'm glad to report - NO FROGGING during this clue!!! (touch wood, cross fingers, etc. etc.). I should also confess that I did fudge some missed YOs on the "rest row" (purl side) ... but hey. Hope that's not too much cheating!
Here is a rather lame close-up...

I promise some better photos for Clue 7... really.

JJ's guess as to the theme: a manta ray. Is he right? You heard it here first!!! (oh, and by the way, JJ was fondling the SOTSii this evening. I fear I will lose it to him when it's done. Wonder how it will go with his work uniform?! No pics because he works in a high security environment and is not allowed to show how he looks at work... or so he tells me.)

Wishing you a happy Leap Day... and for that grand occasion you get to read posts in one day from me. Please try to control your excitement, but make sure to check out the special Leap Day post!!! (only one every four years, after all...)



28 February 2008

my name is Kristina and I am a lace addict (hi Kristina!)

And now for a little psychiatry lesson (man, we lawyer-types know everything, don't we?!)...

According to the DSM IV diagnostic manual used widely by psychiatrists (and consulted from time to time by social assistance lawyers for research purposes regarding disability appeals, addiction, or dependence), lace dependency is present in an individual who demonstrates any combination of three or more of the following symptoms (paraphrased for simplicity and for relevant context), occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

* Preoccupation with use of the lace yarn and patterns between periods of use.

Example: rushing to the yarn shop over the lunch hour during a snowstorm in order to buy a set of circular lace needles in a size you already have so that you can start a second project.

* Using more of the lace yarn or patterns than had been anticipated.

Example: while at the yarn shop buying duplicate needles, just "having to buy" yet another lace pattern despite the fact that you have several at home already.

(But it's the Creatures of the Reef shawl by Fiddlesticks - right here in Toronto! I can buy Canadian! And aren't the sea creatures fun?)

* The development of tolerance to the quantity of lace yarn or patterns in question.

having bought the Creatures of the Reef pattern despite:

(a) having at least five other lace patterns on your Ravelry queue and three in progress besides;

(b) still eagerly awaiting the first shipment of the Year of Lace kits less than a month from now; and

(c) glancing wistfully on occasion at the Victorian Lace Today and Gathering of Lace books which have pride of place on your living room bookshelf, separate from all the other craft books.

* A characteristic withdrawal syndrome from the lace.

hyperventilating when you have to go to a staff meeting or to court where you cannot knit. Drumming fingers nervously and biting fingernails during said staff meeting and/or court or hearing attendance.

* Use of the lace yarn, project or pattern to avoid or control withdrawal symptoms.

Example: exactly one day after the trip to the yarn store to buy needles you already had, etc. etc. Oh, and let's not forget the evening trip to the other yarn store to buy Rowan Kidsilk and Misti Alpaca, in increasingly furious snow, going to the first yarn store again over the lunch hour in -15C (-2 million C with the windchill) to trade in perfectly good lace yarn for new and more colourful Handmaiden lace yarn:

...and then priding yourself that you didn't actually buy anything. Trading in stuff is like getting it for free, right?!

* Repeated efforts to cut back or stop the drug use.

Example: feeling virtuous having bought the Creatures of the Sea pattern that you are not buying any new yarn to use with it because you already have the perfect yarn sitting in the stash:

(i.e. the dreadfully overpriced Alchemy Silken Straw that you just had to have back in August to knit... yes... a lace blouse, but then decided against using because it was too pretty. Remember, that must-have birthday gift to myself....

But it looks sufficiently aquatic to suit the theme of the shawl, don't you think?)

* Indulging in lace at inappropriate times (such as at work)...


(although, to be fair to myself, this was mostly done en route to work...)

... or when withdrawal interferes with daily functioning (such as when knitting lace makes person too unmotivated to go to work or to function while at work).

Example: thankfully, none as yet. (Hey, it doesn't say anything about checking Ravelry or researching lace patterns there, does it?!? Huh?!? Huh?!?)

* A reduction in other knitting activities in favor of further lacing.

Example: the puir wee Bespoke jacket flung into the corner of the living room, lonely and unloved.

One day, Bespoke... I promise. Besides, it's way too $#(*$&@(#$* cold to think of a spring jacket right now! That is the only reason I have forsaken you. Really. I mean it.

And besides, this is far more bright and cheery and likely to banish the winter blahs, no?
Sorry - requisite photo of the last lace FO ... aren't I shameless?!

* Continued lace knitting of the individual having suffered social, emotional, or physical problems related to lace yarn or pattern use.

Example: None.

See... I guess that means I'm not an addict after all!!

Phew. I feel better now.

Happy Thursday to all!

27 February 2008

my cup overfloweth...

...with Alexander Keith's beer? Diet Coke?

Nope. Milk.

That's right... milk.

Creamy Milk Yarn. Yes, you heard it here first, folks - yarn made from milk! (at least 80% of it... the other bit is cotton). Now I have heard it all, I think.

I received this as a surprise package yesterday from Amy the Wonderful... all the way from Oklahoma.

(In recognition of my latent brilliance, she also sent me these:

American Smarties!!)

Anyway, as it happens, I (like many others of mediterreanean heritage) am lactose intolerant (which, mind you, doesn't stop me from scarfing down ice cream, pudding, etc., although it does justify my dislike of drinking milk). But, given that I don't plan to ingest the yarn, I should be fine.

And I have just the pattern in mind for it: the Diamond Fantasy Scarf by the fabulous Sivia Harding! The pattern will come out, with all good luck, looking like this:

The surprise package was very timely indeed as I was suffering a spate of winter madness yesterday at work which continued into my journey home. In that time-honoured spirit of self-medication, I had made a quick stop into Knitomatic on the way home from work. Here's what I found - on sale!! Some Rowan Kidsilk Haze:

A lovely espresso shade (don't know that this comes out in the photo...it was on deep, deep discount so I thought I'd better find out what all the rage is about.

I also scored this Misti Alpaca laceweight.

Well, folks, it's now official... I actually have more lace yarn than I could use if I lived to be 100.

In fact, I have so much lace yarn that in addition to picking the SOTSii lace stole again (I managed six rows last evening on Clue No. 6) I thought I'd better start the Icarus shawl:

Early days, obviously - but I'm loving the Handmaiden lace silk!

So, today I'm a very happy camper, really.

Happy Wednesday!

26 February 2008

Swallowtail shawl - done!

I love love love this piece! I wore it today (sorry, no pics of that - but would you believe a judge at the Divisional Court offered me $500 to make her one?!?!)

This is the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark, featured in Interweave Knits Autumn 2006 issue.

I made some modifications to the shawl, inspired by the Yarn Harlot. That is to say, I added beads.

I'm not sure you can tell from the photo, but the beads I used were in four colours: mauve, bright orange, dull orange and red.

The yarn was Handmaiden Mini Maiden in the Sangria colourway (although a bit more muted than the last Sangria I used).

yarn: Handmaiden Mini Maiden (silk/wool laceweight blend) - 100 g/ 500 m (most of the one skein)

needles: 3.75mm addi turbo lace

beads: 4 colours of seed beads from Arton Beads in Toronto
notions: 0.75 mm crochet hook (to string the beads)


* I added beads to every motif in the Budding Lace 6 row repeat pattern - one bead each at rows 1 and 3. For more details, contact me if interested.

* I also placed a bead at the centre stitch (missing out one every seven - this started as a mistake which I choose to call a design feature).

* I abandoned the picot edging (partly because I couldn't figure it out, but largely because I didn't personally care for it anyway). In its place - I bound off at the 14 row of the last repeat, and then crocheted a half-double crochet row on the edging.

At any rate, I'm very proud! And this project definetely reinforces my interest in lace knitting.

Now, all I have to do is get back to the SOTSii. (I'm writing this on Monday evening, having had a few pints and awaiting dinner delivery from Swiss Chalet). Manana, manana... or shall I start the Icarus instead? Hmm...

25 February 2008

shiny happiness

Good morning!

(Don't you hate people who are chipper on a Monday morning?!?!)

I'm in a good mood today because:

(a) I finished knitting my Swallowtail last night!

It's currently being blocked. Proper pics tomorrow...

(b) I found some Treasures from Trash in the laundry room!

Just what I needed to brighten up during the grim weather!

(c) I got to watch the Oscars last night!

Now, I have no idea what attracts me to the Oscars like a magpie to the Crown Jewels. But speaking of which, here is a photo of my favourite Queen:

Helen Mirren. I have such a crush on her, really!

I wish I looked that good now, never mind at her age!

However, I didn't even see any of the main movies last year! So why bother watching? It must be all the eye candy:

Daniel Day Lewis!!!
Javier Bardem!!!
(move over, Daniel Craig! You are now way down the list in my affections... today, anyway).

And how could I not resist checking out all of those marvellous costumes?! Here's my favourite:

So, all in all, a decend end to the week. Roll on, Monday!

24 February 2008

the Brouhaha cure for the flu...

...why, yarn, of course!!

(It won't get rid of the flu, but you'll feel much, much better psychologically. Trust me!)

Now, I am down with a cold or the flu. Really. So in this regard, I had to drag myself out of the house to get to Shoppers Drug Mart for some meds and more orange juice (given that JJ was home from work and even sicker than I. Sigh.

Well, as it happens, Shoppers is only about one block away from Knitomatic. Since starting the Swallowtail, I have been on a mental quest for more Handmaiden Mini Maiden. So, I mustered up some additional energy and headed down there.

I found some of the Mini Maiden in the Woodland colourway:

...and could not resist snapping up some Lace Silk as well, in Buttercream:
...and a coppery shade that I can't find on their website:

The relatively subdued range of colours I bought are probably a good indication of how under the weather I feel. Sigh.

I think I will use the buttercream for the Icarus shawl from Interweave Mag Summer 2006 issue:

Or, maybe the Woodland? Or one of the other two million colours of Lace Silk I have in the stash? Sigh.

I did also manage to make some progress on the Swallowtail and last evening completed through the major pattern repeat sequence:

(I had actually willingly frogged back from what I last posted here as I didn't care for the bead placement. Here's my new scheme:

Pretty, eh? I also introduced some clear purple-lined beads).

Well, obsessing about lace helps me feel a little bit better. I may be able to start the SOTSii Clue 6 today as well... I got a printout while at the drugstore yesterday.

I've also decided to order some Sivia Harding lace patterns so that I can start plotting uses for some of the lace stash... I had best win the lottery soon, as I'm thinking I'm coming pretty close to a lifetime worth of lace knitting in the stash.

If you see a crazed-looking woman wandering the streets of Toronto dressed only in lace stoles, please come up and say hi. I don't bite!

Cheers, and happy Sunday!

23 February 2008

strummin' them Ol' Man Winter blues...

Hi all:

A short post today. The flu finally seems to have caught up with me. SIGH. JJ is sick as well. So just chugging orange juice by the litre and trying to feel alive.

In knitting news: I forgot to download the SOTSii clue 6 yesterday! $#*(&$@(*#$&(@*#&($*#&$( So now I won't be able to start until Tuesday night at the earliest as I will be out of the office on Monday observing an appeal hearing.

Work on the Swallowtail and Bespoke are travelling apace, however, and I managed to get about six inches done on the Storm Water scarf yesterday during a meeting! The lace thing seems to be back on track (famous last words?).

Am also currently reading The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. It's interesting enough, although he is a bit less progressive than I had thought. But reading the book does give me some sense of how the American electoral system works (which I've never quite been able to figure out! sigh.).

So, how about this R2D2 cake?!? (or knitted hat, for that matter...

And, my Saturday gift to you - a free pattern for you guys from Craft Magazine, perfect for any baby I think. Click here for the pattern.

(Check me out ooh-ing and ahh-ing about baby stuff. I must be sick!

Anyway, stay warm and healthy and hope to be back here tomorrow with some progress pics of the lacy stuff!

22 February 2008

lunchtime at the shops...

... and no, not the yarn shop for once.

Instead, I headed over to Pages bookstore. And imagine my surprise to find my autobiography... on the remainder table!!!

It's just not fair... WAH. And the book depicted me so well!
Anyway, I had to snap up a copy (my mother stole all the promotional ones). If you're looking to buy it, it's called "Wonder Woman - a Complete History".

Some other chaepo gems from the remainder table:

The caption to this book, if you can't read it, is "How to Get Dinner on the Table if you can't cook". Now, I can cook (sort of) but for $5, anything that helps me get this task accomplished quicker is useful info.

I also found this gem for $2!

(which in turn made me hustle out and pick up Canada's newest chocolate treat, the Caramilk Deluxe:
Check this out:

Caramilk Deluxe comes neatly packaged and it contains four small pieces. Each piece is filled with a blend of caramel and dark chocolate, all wrapped in the signature Cadbury milk chocolate.
Can't go wrong with that, eh?
I then had to stop at the newsagent to pick up JJs weekly British/Scottish trash tabloid reading:

... and if you ever doubt my love for JJ, consider the fact that I actually allow him to bring this Tory / Royal Family-positive rag into the house on a weekly basis:

("How I'll Rule, by Charles?!?!?" Who cares?!? Millions of British expatriates, apparently. Sigh.)
I also picked up some highbrow Canajan reading material for myself:

Then off to HMV, where I wanted to pick up Sting's latest album: a classical album! I'm serious!

I also had to grab kd lang's latest collection (called "Watershed") while I was there. It's been a long time, kd!

(I think she's been eating a few too many of the Cadbury Deluxe myself... but hey. She's still lookin' guid!)

I also grabbed a DVD:

Which leads me to the requisite Friday rant/self-loathing exercise. I have not purchased or rented any DVDs in a long time as we have this fancy digital box thingy at home so that JJ can watch nature programmes 24 hours a day if he so chooses.

So, in my quest today for the Simpsons Movie on DVD, I literally could not figure out which version I was supposed to buy. BluRay? HD? Vanilla? (I'm sure there was a fourth one, or maybe that was a video game...?!?!)

I mean, I felt completely ridiculous. I am a professional with two university degrees, and I cannot figure out which disc I should buy for the machine I have?!

This was compounded by the wave of abject stupidity which washed over me when I remembered my last trip to a music/video shop, which was in the U.K. in December. I was faced then with all these designations and simply thought "Oh well, this must be some British or European thing". Nope.

So, at the end of it all, I had to ask for help. And, of course, as usual there was no employee over the age of 16 in the place... two of them did, however, help me out, calling me "ma'am" at least five times each while they did so. Ma'am!!! Argh. I'm sure I could hear them laughing at me when I left.

Perhaps I'd just best stick to knitting. The concepts are simple, and I don't need fancy electronic equipment that needs changed every six months to engage in it. Hmm.

In parting, here's a gratuitous eye candy photo:

Happy Friday to all, and to all a good weekend!