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I just got back from Vancouver, and on one of my flights there (it always seems to take two) I sat next to an Indian man. He was wearing a turban and traditional clothing, including a white cotton wrap that had a wonderful woven in edging in red and gold.

As I was knitting I dropped my yarn on the floor and picked it up. He gently took the yarn off my knee and put it on his own. He then proceeded to measure out more yarn for me each time I needed it until I had finished my ball and stopped knitting. He even reeled it out and rewound it when the mechanically wound ball was too small and no longer held together properly. I was impressed with his dexterity with it. I think he must have had some practice with weaving or other textiles, because I can’t imagine anyone being able to manipulate yarn so gracefully without some practice.

We talked a bit after I stopped knitting, but he didn’t speak English very well, and I don’t speak any Indian languages. I was happy to meet someone who is a kindred spirit in fibre.

I have finally gotten my knitting machine “working,” well a bit better than I did last time.


This is some lovely silk/alpaca in lace weight from Princess Farms. I wanted to make a shawl in plain stockinette — you would think that this would not be so difficult for one familiar with the ways of the fibre, such was myself (or perhaps more to the point, I would think that), but the machine had different plans:


Yes, that is a big hole in my beautiful shawl. I waxed the yarn and everything, and now I have a huge hole (and a couple little ones). I also ran out of yarn before I bound off, so I tried my trick from before of making the knitting jump right off the machine by running the carriage over the needles without any yarn in it.

That part definately worked — I am glad that hand knitting isn’t so enthusiastic about jumping off the needles like that.

I will crochet the ends and the holes closed. In my mind, this will make a lovely rustic type garment, which I will then sew or crochet into a tube to wear around my shoulders like Teva Durham’s fade-out ribbed stole in Loop-D-Loop: More Than 40 Novel Designs for Knitters, because I think I would like that and what else will I do with it?

I pulled these two batts from my stash yesterday and spun them up. I am so pleased with the results. It still kind of feels like magic to make yarn.

Here is the batt I started with:


Here is the single I had in the middle:


The colours on the real yarn are not quite that warm, I was playing with the colour settings on my camera, and that is what the camera thought they would look like because I told it it was a cloudy day.

Here is the bit of yarn I had when I tried to Navajo ply said single:


It was just too twisty and wrong, so I went with plying it with thread:


The colours on that picture are closer to the original.  I am very excited to knit it up, but I really shouldn’t start knitting anything new until I finish something.

I have given in, perhaps throwing good money after bad, and bought some cast on combs and weights for my knitting machine, because I have been told that then my machine will stop dropping stitches randomly.


I am hopeful that this will solve my problems and make me a brilliant machine knitter who can make a splendid living of the work of her hands and keep all her friends and family warm clothing for pennies — okay maybe not. But I really want to make something that works: I am very disheartened with my machine knitting career so far.

Something that has fascinated me for years is that when one culture interprets something from another culture they always interpret it a completely different way from the way the original culture interprets it.

For instance while in China I saw sushi made with mayonnaise and a fairly large piece of salmon wrapping the roll instead of nori — it was Cantonese sushi. I did eat sushi while I was in China though not that kind, but I don’t recommend it until you are there long enough you don’t care if you get sick anymore.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I was home sick an going over some library books and magazines I had lying around. The library book was The French-Inspired Home, with French General by Kaari Meng and the magazine was Marie Claire Maison (I am learning French for work and perhaps vacations in Paris — I should be able to write off French magazines on my taxes). What really interested me was the contrast between the two visions of the world.

Here is a snippet of one of the pictures from The French Inspired Home:


Here are a couple from Marie Claire Maison:



They are both lovely, but it is apparent to me which of these places is in California. I think my natural taste runs to the American version, but I love to think of myself living in the French version with its elegant spareness.

I also live with foreboding that I will always need to move somewhere smaller and need to fit all my stuff in there. Right now I live in the main floor of a house with approximately 800 square feet (or about 87 square metres) without a closet for the vacuum, so moving somewhere smaller is not inconsequential. Actually, I think our place is fairly large — I moved here from a studio that was really small (and beige which is worse).

I feel a great fibrous weight has lifted since yesterday. I pulled out the alpaca I had lying around and spun in up in the way I like:


It is thick and thin plied with thread, and it has revived my interest in spinning, even if the fibre is a little too soft to make this kind of yarn in its most perfect incarnation.


What can you do?

I am carting out the wheel right now and spinning up that fibre that has been sitting there for months. I never want to spin regular thin yarn again — I have decided it is not my thing.

Instead I want to do something time this, this, this, or this.

Or for that matter this:


(Which I am pretty sure I know how to do as I did that one.)

It occurs to me that I have gaping holes in my education relating to various things. In the culinary arts I don’t know how to make mashed potatoes, potatoes in general are a great void that I know very little about. When I tried to make baked potatoes for Valentine’s Day because of a special request I mistook the time, and they were still uncooked (we put them back in the oven for half an hour and made hash browns the next day).

I have promised to deliver mashed potatoes today, and I think I will need to pull out a cookbook (The Joy of Cooking has saved me many times). I am also hazy on how to steam broccoli, but I make a mean chocolate cake, spanakopita, and, after polling the room I can say, coconut cream pie.


I am bad at things that everyone is supposed to be able to do. The birthday cake above however was in my opinion the best chocolate cake I ever ate (I think the recipe was from Susan Mendelson’s Mama Now Cooks Like This: The Best of Susan Mendelson with candied violets on top from my last trip to Montreal).

I suppose that it is inevitable that people will have holes in their educations. I am trying to think what the holes in my knitting education are — I would say that they mainly revolve around socks. If it is time for true confessions, I have never knit a pair of socks. I knit a pair of slipper socks once, but actual socks never. I have just never really wanted to — I get hot feet.

What holes do you have in your education, knitting or otherwise?

A while ago I was at my parents’ house and I was looking at my mother’s buttons. She doesn’t sew much any more and I asked if I could have some of her vintage buttons:


This was a fairly tense moment — after a pause she said: “I don’t think I am ready to think of buttons I bought as vintage.”

Now my mother is not very old and as far as I could tell some of her buttons go back to the 30’s or 40’s. Obviously she was not buying buttons then, she wasn’t born then. But how to save the moment? I had called my mother’s buttons dated, kitschy, and old.

I did point out that it would not have been possible for her to purchase certain buttons as they were older than her, and she did mention getting some from various individuals, which seemed to defuse the situation somewhat.


I am not sure that the rift in the crafty fabric of the family was healed, but I did get the buttons I wanted.

I got up early yesterday morning to take out the recycling, and I was completely surprised by how nice it was:


Generally I take out the recycling as fast as I can on a Saturday morning, run back inside as quickly as possible and try to forget the whole sorry business, but not this time. I was inspired to run back inside to grab the camera. To give you an idea of how improbably this was at 8:00 on a Saturday morning at -22 centegarde, here is a glimpse of what I was wearing:


Dressing gown, boyfriend’s shoes, coat. As I said later — “for some reason I don’t understand, it was cold, but it didn’t feel bad.”

I also went to the yarn store as I needed some particular yarn to submit a design, and ended up buying enough to make a summer sweater (sweaters in summer make more sense here than they do in many places). It is Classic Elite Yarns, classic one fifty and one of my favourite shades of blue:


I am thinking cardi, lacy, summer, blue — and that is all you are getting at this time.

March 2009
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