Thursday, 26 February 2009
With heartfelt thanks to my friends and family, I think that I am all set:
Something old and something borrowed: a lovely cameo broach that I feel very honoured to be borrowing from Katy. She told me this evening that this broach came to her, from her godmother as she used to admire it when she was little. This really resonates with me as I remember admiring a very similar broach when I was little too - except, oddly - I cannot remember now whether it was my mother's or my grandmother's broach.
Something new: my wedding dress, shoes, shrug and oh, my underpants of plastic steel. Without Lara and my mother, my wedding outfit would not exist. At all. Now the arms of my shrug were a little long for me so both Chrissy and Lara came to my assistance today to adjust its fit. Chrissy helped me to shorten the sleeves a little and Lara crocheted a stablising edge for me.
Something blue: I have a gorgeous blue silk garter from Mel that I will wear with pride on Sunday. It feels really important to have something with me from my friends from home. Also... my plastic pants will make sure that it stays in place?!
A sixpence in her shoe: well, what can I say? The Fella has come to the rescue! He delved deep into something he called 'the treasure chest' and he pulled out an original 1938 British sixpence. A bit of metal polish tonight and it has come up a treat. I doubt that my shoes or my feet will cope with the presence of a coin but trust me, it will be about my person somewhere.
So, um....wish me luck for Sunday?!
ETA: Roobeedoo, you have given me a fantastic idea, thank you!
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Not exactly the sexy underwear I had envisaged for my wedding day. But hey, needs must. I just hope that our wedding venue is not too hot else, squashed into this and my polyester bridal gown? I might melt without the assistance of a lit match!
Ok. Now promise me: please don't tell the Fella. I am hoping that he never has to find out what lies beneath my dress. (Now that we live together, I detect no evidence that he still reads my blog.) I will simply create some kind of diversion and battle the damned thing off when he isn't looking!
Failing that? I am hoping that we can have a good laugh and then deploy it as a catapault to propel empty bottles of prosecco, cava or champagne across our bedroom?!
(I sooooo never want to go through this again. I am going back to the gym before I have to wheel my wedding outfit back out for our blessing in July.)
1) Robynn has now had her baby shower, so I can reveal that my first FOs of this year were two teal, barn raising squares that I made as a contribution towards her baby blanket! You can see a lovely picture of the finished blanket on Robynn's blog and more images from the baby shower on Ravelry, in this discussion thread. Mel did an absolutely fantastic job of organising squares from Robynn's friends and customers all over the world plus she put the blanket together with a fleece backing - bloomin' good work!
"All" Robynn has to do now, is pop her baby out on the 1st March at 3pm PST or 11pm GMT (the time of my wedding ceremony) and I will stand a chance of winning a sweepstake!
Actually Robynn, we hope that it all goes well and we will be keeping our ears and eyes peeled for news over here on the West Coast!
2) The shrug arrived from my mother yesterday and it is beautiful - I just need to sew the sleeves up a little bit more so that it doesn't slip off my shoulders and lay bare my bingo wings!
3) I finished my course yesterday and I am now the proud owner of a Masters Certificate in Project Management. I hate written exams but it seems that I achieved 85% in the test and that my score was the joint 3rd highest in the classroom. The chap who scored my paper told the class that when I read back over the test at the end and altered some of my answers (as you do) - I changed 6 questions that I had previously answered correctly, to wrong answers. Opps. The icing on the cake is that the team I worked in, came out in pole position in the project simulation too.
It's not all quite over though. Now that the course is finished, I may submit my application to sit a further exam. However, to sit the Project Management Institute's professional accreditation exam (PMP), I need to provide evidence that I have 7500 hours of Project Management experience (yes, detailed in hours).
I am going to wait until after my wedding to do this paperwork. If I am accepted, I will try to schedule my exam to take place in a month or two so that I have a breather for a bit (yet more cramming in my future)!
Friday, 20 February 2009
Yeah, okay, I admit that I was clearly bunking off my revision and I was looking exactly like this:
All on project plan and totally, utterly, smugly, on project schedule (or so I thought).
When I received this text from Lara:
"Hiya, were u successful with dress fitting and pickup?"
I freeze - surely that is at 10:30am tomorrow????! My plan says so. I am certain of it. To add weight to my argument, I tell myself, the shop has not phoned to demand where I am and why I have missed my appointment.
I phone Lara and tell her this. She pointed out that the alterations lady doesn't work on Saturdays and to top it all, she wrote this appointment down in her diary at the time that we made it, so she was certain.
Inside, I have that sick feeling that knows that I am wrong and that Lara is right. I now recall that the alterations lady does not work on Saturdays, so how on earth could my appointment and second fitting be on a Saturday?
At that point, I grip the nettle of reality. There is nothing that I can do about it - I am sitting in a hair salon a good 30+ minutes drive from my plastic fantastic dress and at that precise moment in time?
I realise that I look like something out of A Flock of Seagulls, with chemicals doing their caustic best to stop the top of my head from looking like a neglected, greying cowpat.
Trust me, even I know that a girl knows that when she looks like this? She ain't going anywhere fast.
So I breathe and I relax. I browse the net from my phone to obtain the shop's number. I call them, I apologise and I make the appointment to be prodded by a disapproving Russian-sounding lady for a second time, at the same time, next Tuesday.
The good news is that the hair result is okay.
Also, this afternoon? The artisan goldsmith coughed up our rings - we have them in our clammy mitts. Now our rings were made deliberately one half-size too small on the basis that the artisan could easily tap them up to the actual size we need.
The good news is that the Fella thinks that his might be okay as it is. However, I think that mine is a touch too small for comfort (it just about goes on and it's snug around my finger but it jams significantly at the knuckle joint on the way off). The goldsmith was not there when we went to collect the rings. Instead, there was this older, quite obnoxious woman who served us and declared my ring 'a perfect fit' and treated me like an idiot when I asked if it could be made a tiny bit bigger.
As you can imagine, I respond well to that kind of treatment. I am not daft. If it is made a bit bigger, I realise that I increase the risk of it flying off when my hands are wet. However, equally, I need a ring that I can get on and off easily because I cannot wear any jewellery when I am competing. I cannot risk having a ring that I cannot get off in the height of summer during a match. I tried to explain but she just, quite deliberately from the expression of 'I know better than you' on her face, did not get this at all.
I realised that I was not going to get anywhere when she suggested that if I were to leave it there to be tapped up in size (not a big job from my memory of jewellery making at university) that I would probably not get it back in time for the wedding. In fact, from her expression, I got the distinct impression that she would personally make sure that this was the case.
So I didn't really have much option other than to agree to take it away, wear it for a few weeks and then come back if I still feel that I need to have it adjusted. Anyone want to run a book or whether I will need to adjust it?! I am happy to be wrong about needing it sized up a little.
Do you know, just about everything that I have had to buy for this wedding has reinforced to me that shopping is, by and large, an abjectly miserable experience - I hate it.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
...long post, sorry but sometimes it is important to share!
The days are flying by and the 1st March is accelerating towards me at a rate of knots. I have my exams this weekend and I am writing this when I should be studying Project Management Cost Management formulae (no wonder the blog beckoned). Actually, according to my Project plan, I need to leave the house in an hour to have my roots done. No hour is my own at the moment.
Just as an aside here, I did muse to companions at my local knit night recently that the more people that get to know about my blog, the harder I find it not to censor my writing. Sometimes, I worry about being the owner of a blog of abject blandness - not that I think bad thoughts about anyone or anything but I do not want to risk offending anyone, all the same.
This may be why I have been so silent on the topic of my wedding preparations. I am not sure that Brides-To-Be are supposed to be honest about what is really going on in their heads. I think that they are supposed to float out, on the day, in a cloud of white tulle, smile a lot as though the whole thing has been a complete breeze and hope that the fact that it is their wedding day will help people overlook the fact that they have a far closer resemblance to an exhausted, whitewashed oil tanker than a delicate princess.
In reality, what is going on behind the scenes is something that looks a little like this:
Oh come one, did you really think that I didn't have one?!
Trust me, this is mild, as I am doing what's known in the trade as 'rolling wave' planning. I have split my wedding into three events, spaced a little apart which gives me a chance to put more detail into my plan as I go along, making sure that I have everything covered - otherwise I think that my head would start to spin like something out of the Exorcist.
If you care for a giggle, click and enlarge the image in Flickr. Actually, you may be able to pick up a flavour of it from this extract:
I did chuckle when I compared the list of my preparation tasks to the Fella's. No wonder blokes think that women make a whole heap of fuss over nothing - they just dry clean a suit, get a trim at a barbers and they are good to go?!
Now I don't enjoy high levels of unnecessary fuss and this whole wedding thing? It just seems to me that it is very high up there on the whole, over the top, fuss factor thing with all sorts of pitholes to fall into - frankly, I am not finding the experience very enjoyable.
It doesn't surprise me at all that there is a whole industry dedicated to taking care of the most expensive, complicated day or event of a couple's life. The things that are available to 'add that special touch to your special day' are astonishing. Stuff I never even knew I was supposed to do or have. Actually, I have decided that if I have never heard of something before, I do not need it!
Mind you, it can be difficult to step off the wedding cake altogether. Kudos to you, if you are managing it. I haven't! For instance, I did not envisage getting married in white but I had no idea where to shop in Canada.
In the UK, I would have headed straight to Coast, Jigsaw, Monsoon or Fenn, Wright & Mason. You know, picked up something posh without being overly formal? However being here, without a clue and becoming evermore desperate as time ticked on, I sought help and solved the problem with a traditional sort of dress in a sort of pale cream-white colour.
The hilarious thing, for a woman of my yarn tastes, is that the damned thing is 100% polyester - I wonder if I'll be wearing the bridal world equivalent of Red Heart or Bernat on the 1st March? I'll cope - just don't light a match near me, ok?!
Yup - I am going to be wearing white. Trust me, no one can be more astonished about this turn of events than me. I am fully aware that I have gone up two dress sizes since I arrived in Canada. Despite assurances to the contrary, there is every chance that I will look like the back of an ice cream van in my wedding dress - complete with uncooked Christmas hams for arms.
After all, the dress is a size 16. For goodness sake - I am hardly going to disappear if I turn sideways! I am not feeling sorry for myself here, I am responsible for my weight gain. The most important thing to me is that I look neat and tidy for the Fella on the 1st March and if it takes a layer of polyester to achieve that? So be it.
The excellent news, of course, is that the Fella would probably tell me how lovely I look, even if I was wearing a brown, hessian sack. The other wonderful news (for my bingo wings) is that the saving grace of a laceweight silk shrug is winging its way towards me, as a wedding gift from my mother.
So the whole bride-to-be and dress thing? So far it has been quite an experience. Don't ever envy the bride - she's sitting somewhere, doing her Project Management best to avoid forgetting something.
Speaking of which, I had my first dress fitting last Thursday. Luckily, Lara came with me again, else I might not have exited the shop without being tasered. Now my dress happens to reside in one of those shops with soft lighting, flattering mirrors and a recruitment policy that dictates that employees should not exceed a Size 4. Not my natural environment at all. Voila!
No, that is not my dress in the window. (Although I did try on a dress with 'pick ups'...yep really, it was a hoot actually!)
So during my fitting I sort of 'came to' to find myself, a wholesome Size 16 (cough), in a circle of mirrors, in the middle of a lake of white man-made fibre with my fat bits odging ominously out of the top of my dress.
The alterations lady was quietly ripping the tulle out from underneath the dress (well, there is a limit to the amount of pouffiness any self respecting 38 year old can stand) and whippet thin women were bustling in and out of my line of sight. One of whom, a glamourous lady in her fifties - no more than a Size 2, seemed to be on her walkie talkie the whole time, "Is the bride, dressing herself?! Is noone available to help her?!"
It was quite funny, in a surreal sort of way. Outwardly, I tried to retain my composure. Inwardly, my paranoia was screaming that the shop assistants were all glancing at me nervously. You know, a bit like they thought I might catch sight of myself in my dress, have an epiphany, realise how ridiculous I looked and burst into tears - or worse, throw an ugly sister tantrum.
I was certain that I could see their pupils contracting as they whizzed through their staff training manual behind their eyes: How to Deal with a Bride-To-Be who Realises that She does not Look like a Million Dollars in the Plastic Dress She has Bought.
I think that the only thing that kept me on the podium were the dual facts that Lara++ was sitting relaxed in her chair, making encouraging noises and the static in the shop was causing the dress lining to stick to my legs - I thought I might face plant into the carpet (in a sharp crackle of electricity) if I moved.
So I decided that my brain was overreacting - a panic response, or the static - breathed a little and asked the alterations lady to loosen my dress. Just on the basis that overhang is not attractive – on either the front or the back of a woman.
I think that it was at about this time, that the shop assistant with the walkie-talkie walked past me, eyed the dress and commented, "Hmm, you choose that one." She looked me up and down and after hesitating a moment, offered a rather stiff, "Very elegant." However, I did note that her smile did not reach her eyes.
Back to the alterations. The lady doing them was a rather stern woman with a decent Russian sounding accent. As she circled me, she kept pursing her lips and frowning. To the point, actually, where I started to wonder whether her body language was suggesting that a woman of my age, general shape and bingo wing acreage should not be getting married in a white strapless dress. I felt like saying, "Okay, lady - I know what you are thinking - guilty as charged! I cannot argue but I am where I am. Please - just do what you can!"
As it turned out, she was just worried about having loosened my dress. Although this action had resolved the overhang, the dress had become a bit loose at the front. After a bit, she pointed out (I was a bit perplexed at the time, as I did not ask and nor had I twitched at my dress) that there was just no way to hoik my bosoms up from my waist to my chest, "Particularly not this dress - it just isn't structured that way."
A bit bewildered, I laughed. I said that it was okay as, after all, I am 38, not 18. To be honest folks, my chest has obeyed the laws of gravity since I was about 16. However, the alterations lady did not look amused or relieved at all - instead she suggested that I stick my boobs to the inside of my dress with double sided sticky tape, so that the top doesn't gape and it stays flat.
At this point, I realised that the time for any frivolity was past - things were clearly serious if the only recourse open to me was tit tape. So I simply nodded like she was very wise and that I had every intention of doing that - clearly, I have no intention of doing that.
So, if you see pictures of me from the 1st March and either I am suffering an apparent case of 'Attention-Deprived Areolae Syndrome'* or you spot my chest peeping out from under my dress, around my ankles and next to my shoes - you'll understand why, you can agree that the alterations lady was right and that I should have 3M glued myself to the inside of my dress.
Take pity though – I am a woman in a strange land and it's a lot - this whole wedding organisation thing - and I am up to my armpits in revision for Sunday.
Besides, at least, I can look people in the eyes and tell them that I am still a double sided body tape virgin. Also, I will be able to rest safe on the day in the knowledge that I won't stick myself accidentally to the Fella's hirsute chest if he ever manages to work out how to get me out of my dress!
*With thanks to Emms for bringing this link to my attention!
++With double, treble thanks to Lara for putting up with me in the whole arena of wedding attire (it's a lot, I know) and spotting that the alterations lady needed to account for the fact that my bum sticks out when she was pinning my dress hem. Thus I am saved from having a dress that is longer at the front than it is at the back.
Monday, 16 February 2009
The bride, celebrates - British style!
My sister told me to expect to see lots of pictures of her holding both a pint and a ciggie and do you know what? She was quite right! I spoke to her yesterday and she reports that she had a brilliant day, ate and drank for Britain (to make up for the last month of effort needed to squeeze back into her dress after the excesses of Christmas). Then, on Sunday morning? Oh, she had a very severe hangover!
Meanwhile in Vancouver...
...on Lara's recommendation, I asked the Fella to take me to a local Bird Sanctuary and it was brilliant! I haven't processed the photos yet due to some PC problems but I had always thought that bird sanctuaries were reserved for twitchers and people with serious zoom lenses. Oh no, for 50c it is possible to purchase a bag of bird feed that will result in the purchaser being dive bombed by gaggles of ducks!
So while we were there, I asked the Fella to pose with a part of his Valentine's present from me:
It is another simple scarf, worked up in 5 balls of Noro Silk Garden Chunky. The Fella picked out the colourway. I used roughly the same pattern that I used before - click here for the details! The modifications to my original set of scarves are that I used this yarn single and cast on 30 stitches, which resulted in a rather wider scarf. I probably could have got away with 4 balls of yarn if I had stuck with 25 stitches! I used swing needles and worked with two balls of yarn at the same time (alternating balls for each row) in order to achieve the heathered effect.
The scarf is a replacement for the one that I made him for Valentine's Day last year and that he has misplaced. He thinks that he left it on an aeroplane after one of his many commutes to see me last year (which makes it a bit difficult for me to chastise him about its loss).
However, as he has been hoping that his old scarf is merely mislaid, he has been resisting the acquisition of a new one. So he has been without a scarf all winter. I have made him a replacement as I think that he might need one in the place that we are getting married!
I have warned the Fella that if he loses this scarf, I will only replace it with something made of nice, cheap and very soft manmade fibre! So I think that the name that I have given this Ravelry project sums up my sentiments fairly well: Lose This and you are Toast!
Thank you for a such a great day on Saturday Fella, Happy Valentines xxx
Saturday, 14 February 2009
May your lives together be filled with fun and happiness!
Thursday, 12 February 2009
Oh contraire! Amongst others, Roobeedoo, Yogic Knitter and Erqsome all make, and in Emm's case design, fabulous socks. I love seeing their work on their blogs. In addition, I have half worn to death the socks that Mel gave me last Autumn: comfy and tested for warmth to at least -6 degrees! In fact, I would like to make the Fella a pair of socks as he has never experienced such comfort and warmth between his feet and his shoes (watch this space).
Yet there is one knitter who stands out to me for her dedication to photographing as many varieties of socks as she can, out in the wild and in their natural habitats.
I present, Knitterbunny, official Sock Hunter since March 2007.
So far, I believe that there have been 51 episodes of the Sock Hunter on her blog, which is 51 pairs of socks in 24 months. "So what?" I hear you ask, "That's 2.2 pairs of socks on average a month - I could do that."
Well, for starters, it impresses me because I made a pair of socks last year and it took me two months to knit a pair of extremely plain socks! Then, for finishers, Knitterbunny does not only work on socks. Last year, she chalked up an astonishing (to me) 97 knitted items. This list includes 34 pairs of socks, 5 sweaters and about 7 lace shawls. Some projects were made with her own handspun yarn and a range of them became prize winning entries at her local state fair - not bad, eh?!
Now, from this, you might think that her blog and Ravelry name allude to her needle speed. Nope - in her spare time (when not working, studying or knitting), she raises, shows and judges Dutch rabbits.
Why am I mentioning all this? Well, I enjoy reading Knitterbunny's blog and last April, I had an opportunity to help her to source some beads for one of her state fair projects. Now, in return, I have received my very own pair of Sock Hunted Socks, as detailed here on her blog.
They arrived this week*, they are lovely, they fit perfectly and, as they are cotton, they do not make me scratch at my feet like my shoes are filled with fleas!
Hurray - thank you, I love them!
*Notes: the interval between beads and socks is entirely my fault - despite many reminders, I did not manage to supply my foot measurements until a few weeks ago! Now my measurements are (as I am unlikely to ever remember this information unless I record it somewhere sensible i.e. in plain sight on my blog):
Heel to Tow (weight on foot)
Left: 9 and a half inches Right: 9 and just over a quarter inches
Circumference of Ball (just behind toes, weight on foot)
9 inches (give or take 1-2 eighths between feet!)
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
Sometimes - even I can tell (by the pure fact of my avoidance behaviour) that something is just not going to happen. This is one of those projects. It was a garter for my sister who gets married on Saturday. However, even if I flogged myself half to death with this pattern today and paid through my nose for an international courier, it is not certain that it would reach her in time.
I am sad about that but I am going to rip it out and place the yarn aside for a little while. The yarn, Fiddlesticks Zephyr, is allocated to my sister in my head. So I will make her something else with it - that way, she will get better use of my gift over time.
I have been sitting here, staring at the garter this afternoon trying to work out why this project did not happen for me. I have decided that it is a mix of little irritations, no one single thing, that added up to a complete stop, just at the point when I needed to be full steam ahead:
The pattern is fairly straightforward and I have seen some great project results on Ravelry (Eloping, Knitty Summer 2008). Yet I am not in love with it. I am put off by the fact that my brain found it difficult to get into the swing of the repeats.
At the very start, I was caught out by a YO before a P2tog stitch. I usually complete my YOs as a YF manouvere. Naturally, this doesn't work when the next stitch is a purl! So I had to change do a full YO which, because I do not do them that way usually, I kept stumbling over. (This is where I find out that I have been doing YOs wrong for 5 years.)
After a couple of repeats, I decided to redo the lace chart, as I found the one in the pattern unnecessarily complicated. Once I had assigned a symbol to each stitch that had the same meaning whichever row I was on, I found it much easier to settle into working rhythm.
Mind you, I still found that I couldn't put my crib sheet aside completely though as the pattern has stuff happening on every row - my memory must be completely shot!
All of the above meant that I couldn't work on this with anyone else around. - as soon as I lost concentration, e.g. the Fella asking me if I'd like a cup of tea, I'd lose where I was. Ngg.
I did not like the way that the yarn worked with my long metal straights. Somehow, the yarn was too slippy for them. Also, as my last project was on sock needles, I found them a bit heavy, cold and awkward to work with.
So I swapped over to the only other 3.25mm wood needles that I had: my Knit Picks Harmony sock needles. I got better grip on the yarn with these needles but I found them a bit too short and fiddly to work a flat pattern with easily.
For now, until things have settled down a bit, I think that I need to stick with some very simple and easy knitting?
Monday, 9 February 2009
Sunday, 1st March 2009
Yes, I know - I am getting married in 21 days. I have exams in 14 days. No pressure. I hope that this helps to explain why my blog posts (plus replies to all messages and emails) are few and far between at the moment. I really apologise - I am finding it all quite a lot.
In the meantime, if I do not finish my sister's garter today, there is no chance at all that it will arrive in the UK in time for her wedding this coming Saturday. I know - I am pushing my luck. So, in some respects, it is lucky that she is not expecting it.
I am hoping that something like Fed Ex will come to my rescue tomorrow.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Okay - just what are my chances (if I just leave it here, neatly pinned out with the excess yarn and some appropriate sewing needles on hand) that the Finishing Fairies might stop by the studio (the over-the-top posh reference for my amateur crafting space) and do the seaming honours on my behalf?!
After all, I still believe in the tooth fairy you know.
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Although it is not unusual to destash knitting and spinning things at a knit night, I have noticed that we seem to be extending the repertoire of things that we are moving on to new homes at my local knit night in Vancouver.
For instance, we have recently had the detash of a silk screen printing kit. Okay, that is still crafts related and not really way out there. So, to 'up the ante' a little bit, here is evidence of the latest destash to be agreed at 64th/Granville in Vancouver:
With my apologies in advance for the blurry photos (there was a lot of laughter in low light conditions) and to the destash recipient as I have applied artistic licence to my recollection of the dialogue!
Neighbour: Excuse me young lady? This is an apartment building, not a marina - what exactly do you think that you are doing?!
Destash Recipient (DR): Oh, hello neighbour. We are just trying to shoe horn a sea kayak (canoe) into my apartment. Really, nothing to see here, nothing to see!
Fella [a muffled voice from inside the apartment]: Um, DR, I don't think that we are going to get this in? Unless you want to put it in your bathroom?
DR: Possibly that's not the best idea, let's try to get it into the hall another way. Okay, bring it back out and up into the stairwell!
Fella: Okay...um DR, you know, I really don't think that it is going to turn the corner into your hall? It would fit in your bedroom though..?
DR: Darn it, I did sort of tell my boyfriend that I wouldn't put it in our bedroom. After all, he said when I phoned him, "What?! You are adopting a kayak?! Where's it going to go?!"
I mentioned the bedroom and he wasn't very keen on the idea so I told him that it would go in the hall...(thinks for a moment)
...oh well, never mind!
Fast forward to later, as imagined in my mind:
DR: Hi honey, you are home!
Boyfriend: ....?! (stunned silence)
DR: Isn't our new bedroom feature great?! It really adds that certain 'je ne sais quoi' touch of perfection to our Pacific West Coast Home Decor arrangements! Um - just try not to trip over it in the night, okay?