Friday, 30 January 2009


...there is a lot going on at the moment and I realise that I have been keeping it off my blog. Let's see if this post can help resolve that. Apologies, a lot of text and no pictures.

Okay, at the moment it feels that, although I am not working and should have 8 hours per day to do everything, the weeks are flying by with me trailing behind them, barely hanging onto their shirt tails.

1. My university course is now every other weekend. I have my final exam and project simulation coming up on February 22-23rd. I should be revising. However, the manual is so full of turgid jargon, split infinitives and sentences containing multiple repeats of the words 'Project Management' that it is almost impossible to read.

I know that my grammar is not perfect but this manual puts my faults firmly in the shade. I have to read each sentence twice to remove excess words, correct grammar and rearrange phrases to make the language simple and direct. Once I have done that, I sigh, "Oh, that's what they are getting at - why didn't they just say so?" It is headache inducing so I am avoiding the manual like it is something smeared with canine processed dog food.

2. I am four weeks into my photography course. I love it and learning loads but it is taking more time up than I expected - this is eating into revision time.

3. Studio set up is still in progress. I have not shared any photos yet as I would like to show you the set up from start to finish, after it is up and running properly. I am really excited about how it is coming along though!

4. I plan to elope with the Fella at some point in the next two months. Once we are married, we plan to have a small dinner with the Fella's family in Vancouver to mark the occasion. Then we'll have a blessing and have a small celebration with my own family, in the UK, in the summer. Despite the intention for this entire thing to be simple, no fuss and low key, a lot of my time is being swallowed up by the things that have to be organised in advance.

So far, the two things that I have learnt about getting married is that looking for a bog standard set of plain gold wedding rings is like setting out on a quest for the Holy Grail. We met couples in jewellery shops who had been looking (in vain) for over a year to find the perfect rings.

Connected to this learning point, it seems that while I would have been happy with wedding rings from Argos/Walmart (for me it is what the rings symbolise, not the rings themselves that is important) the Fella felt very strongly that he wanted to make eye contact with the person making the rings for us. So we have rings on order from a local, artisan goldsmith. On reflection, I agree with him - it does feel good to know that our rings will be cast from the same batch of metal and that they are being made by someone that we have met.

The second learning point came yesterday when I went looking for something to wear. I discovered that I seem to have sprouted hams for upper arms. So um, I need to find (or make) a suitable cardigan to cover up my bingo wings.

A shawl or a scarf simply will not do - this is about my own, personal comfort level. I only trust real sleeves to do the correct, cover up job! I have a pattern and yarn in the cupboard that I can use so I think that I am set.

Connected to this learning point, I realise that I am not over my wretched fear of clothes shopping. I walked into a shop yesterday, felt completely intimidated and walked straight back out again. So I hyperventilated over a coffee and texted Lara (a fab lady I met through a local knitting group) who just happens to work across the road from the mall I was in. She was good enough to come over, march me back into the shop and get me to try things on.

I tried to leave again, in a panic, after I had tried on the first dress I was offered. She suggested very quietly that I stay put. So I did and after trying on 4-5 dresses, I bought the 3rd one I tried on - so that nightmare is now firmly out of the way.

We do not plan to elope before my sister is married in February or before the end of my course.

So, owch - not only do I need to cast on for my sister's Eloping garter, I need to cast on one for myself?! Luckily the pattern doesn't take much yarn and Zephyr Wool-Silk has good yardage so I should be able to get both out of the same ball..!

5. I do have my first finished objects of 2009 but I cannot show them to you yet as they need to be blocked and posted to the UK. This is the first time that I have had an opportunity to use my DPN Knit Pick Harmonies which Granny Purple (thank you!) brought over to the UK for me last year. They are absolutely lovely to work with. While I am not a fan of working with DPNs, the combination of these needles and the gorgeous yarn that I was working with made the project quite a treat to do. Pictures at a later date!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Matchy matchy fiance jumpers, anyone?!

In mid November I received this in the post from my former boss, Andrew, along with the suggestion that we (me and the Fella) might look rather fetching in them:


It really made me giggle! Now, I have not shared this pattern with you until now, as I have been looking to give it the room and value it deserves. Yup – okay, I admit it. I spent the rest of November and December trying to work out how to put this pattern to work. "Ohhh", I thought, "maybe he's right and I can scale it up to adult size...?"

After all, don't forget, Andrew was my boss and old habits die hard. In London, I would ask Andrew to double check my logic if I needed to present an argument on behalf of our team. So if Andrew, boss and logic checker extraordinaire, makes the suggestion that Family ORK would look good in a matching set of aran jumpers, who am I to question his conclusion? I should make them at once!

For once, it might have been lucky that DIY got in the way of my enthusiasm? Before I knew it, Christmas had arrived and out-of-the-blue, a gift appeared at our house on Christmas Day that has enabled me to test his theory without casting on a stitch:


It's uncanny, isn't it? The knitting fates must have been looking out for me this Christmas.

Now, just in case you have been trying to track down a jumper like this, I am happy to confirm that it is a genuine Irish Donegal Aran Handknit from Kathleens in the North West of Ireland. Traditional in every respect, down to the detail that it is made with good, old fashioned, itchy, pure wool. This jumper is probably indestructible. Kathleens looks like it is still going strong and sending these jumpers out worldwide, via mail order (which explains how this jumper got to the West Coast of Canada and made its way to me, via a Craft Fair in Point Grey).

This week I needed to take pictures of white on white things, as part of learning how to expose pictures properly. So I lured invited the Fella to the studio with this sweater and I took some portraits of him in it (against a wall of the same colour). Now I was almost helpless with laughter throughout the shoot and I took loads of photos. Sadly, I do not think that the Fella would ever forgive me if I shared his interpretation of, "Go on, do some menswear catalogue poses – sell this jumper to me!"

So here's an informal one of the Fella that is safe for public consumption:


Go Fella go - work it for the camera!

And here are the two of us, side-by-side, in the same jumper (well, not exactly):


Argh honey, this things itches - I can't keep a straight face!

Ok Fella, tell me honestly - does my bum look big in this?!

So okay Andrew, respected ex-boss - it's like this: I have been good, I have been thorough. As you can see, I have done my research and I have scrutinised the results - at length and in detail.

However, I apologise but on this occasion, the evidence indicates that I should challenge your suggestion that the Fella and I mght look fetching in his and hers aran weight, textured knits. Actually, I suspect that we might look a little bit silly?!

So, I am going to see if I can repurpose the pattern* that you kindly sent me. I will investigate whether I can use it for an accessory instead, perhaps something less overwhelming than a a sweater. A bag or a maybe a cushion cover?

In the meantime, I am going to slip my Christmas present back quietly back into a drawer. The Fella's drawer in fact, as the evidence of this research is that it looks far better on him than it does on me!

*Notes: by the way Andrew, it has not escaped my notice that the pattern is a 'his and hers', boys and girls pattern that you happened to find when tidying up some of your parent's things. So, okay – where are you hiding the pictures of you and your sister wearing the finished articles, eh?!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Now that Robynn has received her parcel, safe and sound, I can share my final photo from Week 1:


Doesn't that look luscious? It is two skeins of 100% Merino from Sweet Georgia. Felicia has a great studio and she has started to offer some very exciting classes that I would absolutely love to do - I am just not sure when I would have time or whether I could afford to do them!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Photography – Week 2

I am knitting but I do not have anything worthwhile to show for my efforts yet - so instead, here are my ten images for Week Two of my photography course. So first up, are some pictures that I took last Thursday evening when I walked to knit night at a local Starbucks.

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It's been foggy here in Vancouver for a week now and there is not much sign of it moving on. Although I do not mind fog, all of the weather so far in January has meant that the Kid has not been able to get here to stay at all - a bit sad for us.

The next photos are a few shots taken in the streets around my neighbourhood. I have to confess that I find the place that I live a little bit weird. It is possible that my discomfort shows in my photographs?

You see, in London, my house was only about 2-3 metres from the kerb. I lived on a fairly busy street, quite close to a train station. As a result, parking was difficult, cars and people passed by the house at all hours and so, background noise was always a factor. If I was up late, I would see urban foxes playing in the street with their young.

My house in London is one of seven in a terrace and there, I know all six of my neighbours. One of them is a very close friend - Andrée lives three doors down and we have been an integral part of each other's lives for over ten years.

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In sharp comparison, in Vancouver I live on a street of detached houses that are set back a little from the road. Here, it is considered a busy day if 3-5 cars drive down the street. It is so very, very quiet here right now that I can hear the clock ticking in the kitchen.

I do not know any of the neighbours and the street never seems to change. In fact, the houses in my road are blank. They sit within their impeccably manicured gardens and they do not give away any clue as to the personalities of the families that live inside. The whole thing is very Stepford Wives'esque.

The cars parked outside them rarely move either. Occasionally (just to unnerve me when my back is turned I think) the invisible residents in my road, nip out to their vehicles and move them ever-so-very slightly. Except for this one where no pretence is made to move it at all.

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I am home quite a lot during the week and in almost 4 months, the only people that I ever see around here are:

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays – Free Newspaper Man: he mutters to himself and throws the newspapers at our front door from the road. His alternative manouvere is to chuck them over his shoulder as he is taking a shortcut through the neighbour's shrubs.

    If the papers bounce off the glass of the front window, I indulge in a short stand-off with him, glaring until he comes up the path, retrieves them and places them on our doorstep. I am getting good at not blinking - you know, I'd feel badly about this except that sometimes the papers hit our windows with such a crack that I am surprised the damned things don't shatter.

  • Mondays to Fridays (no deliveries here on Saturdays) – Florence, the bright, bubbly, smiley post lady delivers our post. Now she might be awful for all I know but as she is the only person that I might get to speak to during the day unless Brian phones me, she's right up there as my prime nominee for 2008-9 Short Conversationalist of the Year.

  • Daily – Next Door Neighbour, Category Wife (I should know her name as they posted one of those photo Christmas Cards through our door that showed their whole family smiling cheesily at the camera at some faceless holiday destination - it had all their names printed underneath. Yet it still escapes me) – recycles at one of her back doors, which happens to be right next to our dining table window. She is usually in her nightwear or her underwear. On occasion this can cause the Fella to collapse into convulsions of repulsion over his morning coffee. I am thinking of implementing a cafe rod curtain arrangement so that we can enjoy our morning coffee without the threat of seeing a woman in her late forties, or early fifties, recycling in a skimpy, lime green, manmade fibre teddy - it's luminous, I tell you, absolutely luminous.

  • Random – Elderly Lady from Family Opposite - occasionally a car pulls up outside, honks its horn and an elderly lady leaves bundled up in a coat and hat with a fake fur trim descends the steps, gets into the car which drives away. I never see when she is returned. So I have decided, to make my world more interesting, that she is collected at her front door and returned to her back door. I have decided, without any basis in fact at all, that she must be of such a grand old age that her brain can only cope with one way traffic through her home.

    And why not? Some old people stack newspapers to the ceilings.

Otherwise, people are just dots in the distance. A bit like the cyclist in this photo. It is just as well that this person did not cycle past me as I can get so starved for someone to speak to that I would have called out a hello - they probably would have fallen off their bike in shock!

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I am not complaining about where I live, by the way - it is very nice. It is just a whole new level of quiet suburban living that I am just not used to at all. I realise that people who live in zones 1 - 3, in London, tend to view those of us who live further afield as very suburban (pedestrian even). Trust me - we are still urban by comparision with my suburb in Vancouver. Where I live now? It is totally off the end of any London Transport zone. Although I am probably only 20 minutes drive from downtown? It's the equivalent of being buried deep, way out in the stockbroker belt.

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The final photograph is of the sunshine in my life - de Fella. It is just before I dragged him off to a barbers and watched (i.e. took photos) while the hairdresser took a pair of clippers to him!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Photography Classes - The Weekly 10

I have been a bit quiet as I had another university course installment over the weekend and I have now attended two of my ten photography classes. Now while I have learnt all sort of things in all my classes, one of the two things that came as the biggest surprise is that I cannot fit all of my homework on a 128MB USB memory stick.

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Three Bags Full, last day of their sale. 2nd image is out of focus but I like the moment
captured between the knitter waiting to pay and a member of staff, assisting with a query.

I know. Actually, I was astonished to find that there were some people in the room who had 4 Gigabyte ones - really? When did that happen?! I have been using my 128 MB USB sticks happily for years.

At that point, I really felt my digital age. I was quite struck by the way that my two memory sticks (diligently knotted together with a leftover length of purple Rowan Calmer yarn) stood out on the classroom table - they looked - for all the world - like big, clunky, archaic, steam powered pieces of machinery alongside their younger, dinkier, flashier, brainer, more colourful, sylph-like cousins.

Snippets of visual research for a future knitting project.
Clearly, my memory sticks hark back to these times, in comparision with the ones in use by the rest of my class!

The other thing? I discovered that it is hard to grow out of stage fright. Part of my homework is to submit 10 images on a weekly basis for the teacher/class to critique. I thought (stupidly and cockily enough) that this homework would be a synch, as I've carried a camera around with me for almost two years to feed this blog. "Ha! I thought. Simple! I have no fear of people seeing my work at all!"

A late afternoon walk around Steveston with the Fella.

Gulp - it's not true. Remember when you were little and your parents used to have friends around for dinner and then, out of the blue, say something to the gathered company like,

"Ok, now [insert your own name here] will [insert something of your choice that you can do perfectly well unobserved e.g. recite a poem, sing a song, play an instrument, do a dance, park your car in a space that only has 2 inches to spare at either end, without clipping neighbouring vehicles or scraping your alloys]."

Remember that 'rabbit-caught-in-headlights' feeling? Starting off that activity nervously, just sick with the certain knowledge that you are bound to stuff it up in front of an audience?!

Well, before my class this week, I was really struggling to scrape 10 images together that I thought would stand up to any sort of critique. (I am still not sure that they stand up.)

A meal off the diet plan at a local neighbourhood restaurant!

However, it seems that being a digital dinosaur worked in my favour this week as my two USBs were not picked out of the pile of homework memory sticks to be viewed by the whole class. I watched my teacher's hand hesitate momentarily over my two coal fired friends and then move onto others that looked like they had been made this century.

Yet, that is just not the correct attitude is it?! I can hardly go to each class trembling in my boots that my pictures might be picked out for the class to critique. So I thought that it would be best to get over myself already and show them to you instead.

A closeup of flowers that the Fella bought me home from Granville Island.
Aww - he is so lovely.

So, as per this post, I will do my best to share my homework images with you on a weekly basis* and if you have any feedback, please let me know. Either in the comments here, by leaving a photo comment on Flickr or via a message on Ravelry!

*Note: unless they relate to gifts/projects in progress that I cannot share yet...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A Saturday Outing

Now it seems that these two balls of yarn managed to escape when they went home to my gift recipient's house on Christmas Day:


Clearly, they have escaped, in a valiant attempt to avoid their knitted fate and they have not yet been found. Actually, I imagine that the conversation in the back of the car on the way home went something like this:

Ball 1
: "W'as'dat label say?"

Ball 2: "H-A-T. Ha-t? Ohh, got it - I think that we are going to be a hat."

Ball 1: "Hat?! We don't want to be a hat!"

Ball 2:
"Hey you in the front there, pull over - He-llo, he-llo! Can't you see that our labels say, 'Baby Soft'?! The clue is in the name? 'B-A-B-Y'. We wanna be made into summat, baby related. We are not sticking around here, only to be turned into some lame adult hat!"

Ball 1:
"No way amico mio, hats are stupid! C'mon, let's hop it out the back here. It's snowing - they'll never spot us making our escape in this weather!"

So, a-hem, if anyone comes across two balls of pale blue Rowan Baby Soft (joined at the hip by silver curling ribbon), on the run, somewhere on the BC Lower Mainland, please do drop me a comment to let me know where you spotted them!

Mind you, perhaps it is for the best - the Fella and I purchased this yarn during our trip to Victoria. We selected on the basis of the colours that we know the gift recipient wears and the hats that she had previously admired. However, on New Year's Day when the gift recipient came over to browse hat patterns, it turned out that she prefered a different sort of design, in a different yarn weight and colour.

I checked my stash - nothing. In fact, as the yarn and the pattern book were sold out locally, we had them reserved for us at Indigo Books and Urban Yarns over in North Vancouver. We collected them last Saturday. Pretty...but snowy!



On our way back, we took a drive around Stanley Park:


Then, half frozen, we went for a drink to warm up before we headed back to Stanley Park for a ride on the last night of the Bright Lights Christmas Train.

It was super romantic, you know - just us, half a hundred weight of 2-5 year olds (all fractious with the cold and cabin fever) and their slightly suspicious parents, who were eying us up - clearly wondering why on earth we would put ourselves through the misery of being out in the snowy dark to ride on a childrens' train...

...without any irritable, wriggly, crying children in tow.

Please relax all - we might have been a bit old to be there on our own but I can assure you that we were simply there to see the lights and have a cheeky snog at the back of the train while clumps of snow fell onto our faces!


Mind you, on the way out, I did think that the parents had every right to be suspicious:

Don't these look like foe straight out of an episode of Dr Who?! Luckily we managed to escape before they received the signal from outer space start their march on the human race, so we (and our knitting project purchases) made it home intact!

(Okay - that is, after dinner, a marriage proposal and a vast quantity of celebratory alcohol which did lay us both out flat until about 3pm the next day!)

Monday, 5 January 2009

Crafty Gifts

Thank you all for your congratulations - I am still trying to get my head around the idea that I am now 'a fiancé' rather than 'a girlfriend'! Um, am I supposed to do anything different?

As it is just about the last day of Christmas, it is time to round off my account of the festive season by showing the craft things that I received in December that I hope will propel me productively through 2009!


These books are all from the Fella, his son and other members of his family. I did not expect them at all. The one on top is a notebook for my knitting projects from The Kid. Both of the sewing books are from the Fella - I suspect that his choice may have been inspired by my less than dazzling Christmas rag quilt and my battle with the house curtains?! Otherwise, as you can see, I am not wanting for knitterly input from the Yarn Harlot!

Now, this is going back a bit but I received a package from my mother in early December. As everything has been so flat out in the run up to Christmas, I have not had a chance to show her gift on my blog. What makes this lack of acknowledgement worse is that I have discovered that it is really uplifting to receive unexpected cards, letters and parcels when away from family and friends. (More of that another time!)

Particularly when they contain lovely things like this:


It is Called Rockpool Candy and I believe that my mother may have some more colours in stock at her gallery? It is a blend of all sorts of interesting fibres that I expect will spin up into something quite unique and lovely - which is what I will try to do, just as soon as I have got my head around how to approach it!

Now, speaking of unexpected and (to date) unacknowledged parcels, not one but two incredible packages arrived at my local Post Office over Christmas:


This is my present from Robynn which contained some delicious chocolates, a skein of extremely gorgeous yarn and a signed copy of a book that I have been coveting from afar for weeks!


Gerard and Craig - Happy New year, I miss you too and your book is fab!

Then I opened my second present and out fell a whole pile of yummy spinning fibres from Mel and her family. Mel used Ravelry to track down a local BC fibre supplier for me (Twist of Fate Yarns)!


Both, I am just blown away by these gifts - thank you so, so, so much. You both sent me things that - if I had found them myself - I would have sought you both out immediately to show, tell and share! Grrr - I miss you both a whole, bloomin' lot.

Otherwise, the final craft related gift that I received for Christmas was from the Fella. He gave me an entry level digital SLR camera as a step up from my little point and click Samsung. Naturally enough, I barely know how to switch it on, let alone use it properly.

So, I have signed up for a beginner's photography class which starts on Wednesday - so please expect a few image burps on my blog while I get to grips with how it all works!

Hopefully though, over the coming weeks, I am really hoping that my images and technique will improve. I am really looking forwards to it!

Happy New Year everyone. Do you know what? I think that this could be an interesting year!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

My Very Own Excitement?!

I said yes, that is, after I stopped crying. (Is that a normal reaction?!)