Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Beautiful City & Its Homeless Community

Now that I have seen this, I am not sure that I should attempt to take another landscape image within the downtown Vancouver area! This art project is a very cool time lapse photography video of Vancouver set to even cooler music:

Personally, I think that this is a beautiful piece of work. I find it a good representation of the glossy parts of downtown Vancouver. I suspect that videos/images like this will go a long way to perpetuate the idea that Vancouver is one of the best cities to live in on the planet?

I tend to think of downtown Vancouver as being a bit like the City of London on a smaller scale. It is a blend of smart high rise office and residential developments. It has shopping streets plus the usual entertainment, restaurant and bar type places.

For me, in style and location, it appears to sit a bit separate to the rest of the city (in the way that the City of London feels like a distinct but sort of separate part of London to me). It is a dense mix of metal, glass, brick and concrete. It has a big park and it is surrounded on 3 sides by water. Downtown is reached from both North and South Vancouver by bridge.

The remainder of the city and the Greater Vancouver area is a bit less 'glamourous city' in its look and feel. It has quite a different sort of character and feel. Many residential homes are timber-framed. The commercial and retail areas tend to have a lower profile too (storey-wise).

In order to balance the content and mood of the above time-lapse video, I think that it is also fair to say that there are certain areas of the city that have serious, ongoing problems with poverty, homelessness, prostitution and drug use e.g. Downtown East Side (DTES). In addition, there are other areas within Greater Vancouver that have a real problem with gang violence - it seems that the recession last year did not just hit legitimate businesses hard.

So it's not all pretty scenery backdrop, buildings and lights here in Vancouver.

I am not suggesting that we do not have these problems in the UK. We do. However, I am still shocked by the numbers of homeless people that I see wandering the streets here.

DSC_0011 01

I snapped this image as part of a class photography assignment during a fieldtrip downtown last Autumn. Even though I consider it to be a picture of two people helping each other out, I still felt uncomfortable about taking it. I read a book about the DTES called, 'Hope in Shadows,' which helped me to pinpoint exactly why I wasn't happy. As a result, I have not taken another image like this since and I am only posting it now for awareness raising purposes.

People pushing supermarket trolleys stacked high with bags is not a sight that is confined to the DTES either. There are many more people living rough in parks and out in the suburbs. The homeless people where I live congregate in the local supermarket and off-licence car park - they sit outside, beg or busk for money and they trawl the local alleys for bottles to recycle*.

The city opened over 160 new winter shelter beds in the past month but they will close them again in April. While I am delighted that some more homeless people now have a safe roof over their heads, I confess that I am suspicious about the timing.

These shelter beds opened in the month before the Olympics and they are due to shut in the month after the Olympics end. The bad weather here kicks off in September/October. Where were those beds when temperatures went down to -7 degrees celcius and it hosepiped down with rain last year?

This topic feels like it is a boil that is just too big and complex for me to lance properly on this blog. I do not feel well-enough informed to do it justice. (It is why I have not blogged about it before. Actually, I did not set out to when I started to write this post today.)

So if the topic of homelessness in Vancouver interests you, here are links to:

  • Operation Pheonix, which is the campaign that was run by a local newspaper here over the past year. If nothing else, it gives a snapshot view of kinds of problems that exist in the DTES;
  • Hope in Shadows which is a annual community photography project for DTES residents. It is a really positive project that I support. Their book is an illuminating, if extremely depressing, read; and
  • Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society which is a non-profit organization that provides food and related assistance across Greater Vancouver.

Don't get me wrong, Vancouver is a nice enough place - I have just never been able to reconcile these two very different aspects of the city in my head.

With thanks to Katy, I have added these links which relate to the Vancouver Winter Olympics and relocation of Whistler's and the city's homeless for the duration of the games:

I do understand the issues around security for the Olympic venues. Yet there is still something extremely grotesque to me about shuffling homeless people out of the way for the expensive frills, pomp and ceremony of the Games. Heaven forbid that the world should see anything other than partying tourists, Olympic officials, athletes and Official Game Sponsors advertising** behind the heads of presenters during tv broadcasts during February and March.

* Here you still pay a bottle and can deposit (in the way that I remember that we used to in the UK when I was little). You get your money back if you return your empties to the store. However, many people simply put their bottles and cans out in their recyling box where they become a potential source of income for people living on the street. I hesitate to say, as a result but, I notice that many stores have a limit on the number of bottles and cans that a single person can return at any one time/on any day.

**Apparently VANOC spent $40million on procuring all commercial advertising space across the city during the Games for Official Sponsors (so that the city is suitably badged behind tv presenters' heads). The local media have been having a bit of fun with the fact that VANOC officials are (apparently) driving around town, reporting incidents of ambush marketing and making people take down unauthorised Olympic symbols etc. So we are now a city advertising a lot of Macdonalds and Coca Cola?

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Family Affair / Ok, it's like this...

...I do not seem to be making anything at the moment. I am not knitting, not spinning, not quilting or making anything else out of fabric. (This is a slight issue as I have a quilt class tomorrow evening and no, I have not made any of the squares set in the class that I attended back in November. Hmm.)

However, I have been taking lots of photographs and I am really loving it. I also want to find ways to combine my photography with my making - I have lots (and lots) of ideas but they seem to be trapped in my head waiting for me to discover the correct technique to make them real and not look completely crap!

So at the moment, I am biding my time, collecting images that I like. With this in mind, I am doing two photography classes at the moment - Advanced Studio Lighting and a Landscape Photography workshop.

The Advanced Studio Lighting course has really only just started. We've had an intro and a kit orientation but we do not go into the studio to start our practical work until next Wednesday. The Landscape Photography course is being taken by the tutor I studied Macro Photography with last term.

However, this time, I am not taking her class alone. I am taking it with the Fella - so this class has become a family affair! The Fella has dragged out his 35mm SLR camera and this class seems to becoming a battle of technologies between us (digital vs. film)!

That said, I am being helpful. I mucked out, hoovered, dusted and scrubbed the Fella's darkroom area of the basement on Monday night (untouched since about 1996). On Tuesday I picked him up some fresh developing chemicals and last night? He made some B&W prints.

I even shot a roll of black and white film with his camera last week and I cannot wait to get down there (now that it is up and running) in order to do some printing of my own. - I am SOOOOO excited about it (oddly, for someone who should be burying herself in Photoshop post production techniques for her digital camera).

For fun, here are the photos that we took to our first two critique sessions. Now, we know that these are not perfect. The idea is that you take images to class that you sort of like but that are not quite right i.e. you need feedback from the class on what you can do really nail the shot that you want.

Also, because we are teaming up (as a couple) on our field trips, we are consciously trying to take in pictures that are different - even though we are taking pictures in the same place.

Field Trip One: Stanley Park
Please click to enlarge images

Fella's 35mm Film Images

Shot By The Fella
Lighthouse, Stanley Park

Shot By The Fella Shot By The Fella
Olympic Barge & Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park

My Digital Images

01 DSC_0057 - Landscape Pick 01
Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park

02 DSC_0196 - Landscape Pick 02 03 DSC_0225 - Landscape Pick 03

Two Images from Trails around Beaver Lake, Stanley Park

Field Trip Two: UBC Area
Please click to enlarge images

Fella's 35mm Photos

Shot By The Fella
View From Old Marine Drive (UBC)

Shot By The Fella
Log Detail - Wreck Beach

Shot By The Fella
Log Leading Line - Wreck Beach

My Digital Images

DSC_0262 - Pick 002
Reeds - Wreck Beach

DSC_0100 - Pick 001
Sky above Iona Beach

DSC_0434 - Pick 03
Stream Detail - Wreck Beach

We have another two classes and one more field trip left before the end of this workshop. Plus we have to come up with a final project for our last class and we are feeling a bit stumped for we collaborate (okay with our tutor) or do we attempt completely separate projects?!

I favour collaboration because the Fella works full time (I have only just started to look for work) so I have more time on my hands (e.g. I helped him to digitise and crop his prints). However, I get the sneaking feeling that the Fella is starting to get a bit competitive and may wish to complete a project on his own?!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Handmade November– January Gifts

Now that Yogic Knitter has opened her birthday present (Happy 40th Mel!), I can show off my November – December making efforts! My apologies in advance but this is a very heavy picture heavy show-and-tell post. My images are a bit uneven as I took the majority of them a big rush (in the hour before we left for the airport to catch a plane to the UK)!

With one exception, my November-January birthday and Christmas gifts were sewn rather than knitted. The inspiration for all of my sewn gifts came from the fantastic Bernina Sewing Club that I attended in 2009. In two cases, I gifted the original items that I made in class as they were perfect fit for two people on my gift list. Otherwise, I made duplicates or tweaked and rescaled the original project patterns to create things that I hoped my gift recipients would like.

Just as an aside, the good news is that the lovely people who own Bernina Corner are developing a website for their business. Shortly, you will be able to find out more about them, the services and classes that they offer at this link!

1) Beaded Notebooks

I gave beaded notebooks to my sister-in-law (lilac, green and pink), mother-in-law (blue and red) and my stepmother (red and gold). Here are two close ups of my sister-in-law's gift:



Here is a group shot showing all three notebooks together:


Truth be told, it was a bit difficult to tell whether my mother-in-law liked her notebook but my sister-in-law and my stepmother both loved theirs - so two out of three isn't bad?! I plan to make another one of these, probably in blues, for my sister who lives in Bangalore.

2) Small Embellished Bags

I made this little brown bag in class. I filled it with 3 walnut whips (for fun) and gifted it to my brother's very long term girlfriend for Christmas:

DSC_0068 DSC_0075 DSC_0071

Please click to enlarge!

Here it is again together with a little pink bag that I made for Mel's daughter, E. The pink bag is based on the same design:



However, I gave E's bag a robust snap to help the contents of her bag safe and sound from prying eyes.

The great thing is that both bags were well received which is lovely to know!

3) Project Pods, Stitch Marker Holder and Camera Pouch

Back in September, I made a little drawstring bag. I modified the pattern for this little bag to create a number of different things.

First up was a DSLR camera pouch that I made for my friend K. who blogs here and is 365 photoblogging here. K. is a fabulous photographer who also happens to knit and sew:

DSC_0221 DSC_0236 DSC_0225

Please click to enlarge!

The true colour of this bag is a bit more teal than it shows on my screen (it looks quite blue) but despite playing with these images in Photoshop, I cannot quite get the colour right. So I have opted to leave them just as they fell out of my camera.

The reason that I made this for K. is that there are times when I do not want to lug a purpuse built camera bag around. I simply want to pop my camera into my handbag. Yet I need to keep it clean, as dust-lint free as possible and protected. As K. has as at least as many hobbies as me, I thought that there might be times when she would value having something like this on hand for her camera! Actually, I got a little note from K. recently to say that her camera pouch was proving to be useful - I love it when things work out and are used!

Next up are two knitting project pods I made as joint Christmas/Birthday presents for my mother and one of my sisters who lives in the UK:



This blue bag containing two skeins of yarn (complementary dyed merino and kidsilk style mohair in greeny-teal) went to my mother. Now I realise that my mother likes green. However, I have also noticed that she loves indigo dyeing and did a lot of fabric work in blue before she started her plant dyeing again. So I compromised: blue bag and greeny-teal yarn.



So this black, white and pink bag containing a mad selection of bright pink yarns in different weights went to my sister. I chose her bag colours to match her vibrant personality and gave her some bright pink yarns of differing weights in order to present her with a 2010 knitting project challenge. My sister has a fabulous and quite individual fashion sense (which is just as well as she teaches fashion-textiles!) so I will be interested to see what she does with her package (nudge, nudge sis').

Last, but certainly not least, of my sewn gifts is a fibre bag and stitch marker pouch that I made for Mel's birthday:


I know that Mel likes pink and when I saw this wool-silk fibre, I thought of her instantly:


I chose her fabrics to coordinate with her fibre. Now I hope that the bag is useful as I find (when I am spinning with pre-prepared fibre) that I want a bag that will sit on the floor at my feet.

This is my first attempt at a bag that is big enough to hold fibre, robust enough not to flop over all the time yet small enough not to be in the way - just to keep Mel's fibre handy, clean and contained. I hope that it works out.

I made the stitch marker pouch in purple cotton fabric and gave it a lilac silk lining. The outside fabric has the same print as the fibre bag. However, it is purple to go with the spinning wheel stitch markers that I made for Mel:


You see, I am hoping that Mel will knit her yarn into something cool once she has spun her fibre and I wanted her stitch markers to show up against her yarn. So I used some amethyst beads (which are the same as the ones that I used in my Semi-Precious Scarf project). I found the little sterling silver spinning wheel charms when I was green bead hunting for Kelli in a shop in Covent Garden. I had the feeling that they might come in handy one day!

So here's the family group shot of my project pods all together (the camera pouch had gone to its new home by the time that I took this picture):


Well, this just leaves me to tell you about the knitted gift. Hmm. Well, I made a 'Turn the Square' hat (Designer: Jared Flood) for my brother-in-law's birthday:

DSC_0006 Altered

The pattern is great and the yarn I used was lovely (Dream in Colour Classy - Black Parade and Cocoa Bean) – lots of bounce. However, as you can see below, the gauge fairies are still not on my side:


I added just over an inch to the length of this hat because the Fella's family have enormous heads. Really - they are huge, we measured them all last Christmas for a laugh. I even tested this hat on the Kid while it was in progress and it looked like it would be perfect.

Nope - it was massive on its gift recipient:


As a result, I doubt that my brother-in-law will ever wear it. Although he was very kind about and said that he thought that it might be good to play football in. I will report back if I ever spot it on his head!

Phew, I think that catches up my recent making efforts - I hope that all of your making went well over the holiday season and that your gifts were all well received too!

Monday, 18 January 2010

A Right Olympic Argy Bargy?

There was a gap in the rain on Saturday, which was very lucky as it coincided with a photography class field trip to Stanley Park. Although we were there to take snaps of (cough) shoot the landscape surrounding the seawall, I could not resist taking a picture of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics barge:

DSC_0095 - Blog Pick

I realise that the barge doesn't actually look at its best or particularly interesting during the day or from this angle. But then, to be honest, this could be said to sum up my individual lack of excitement regarding the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

I have not commented before because it really did not feel like it was my place to do so. Vancouver does not really feel like it is my city yet and the Games were announced long before I arrived. So I am a tail end Charlie. However, I am mindful that the Summer Olympics are coming to London in 2012, so I have been watching events unfold here with some interest - is this how it will be for Londoners too?

From personal, informal observation (gathered from people I know, reading the media etc.) local residents of Vancouver appear to be split into three main camps:
  • gung-ho for the Games;
  • ambivalent about the Games; and
  • extremely vocal in a negative way about the Games.

I need to admit that I am not sure that I have actually met anyone who is in the first category but I do hear that they exist. Perhaps they are just keeping their excitement well hidden (in the way that a football fan might do if their team scores but they are seated at the wrong end of the pitch)?

It is possible that when the Games start, these people will stream into the streets, cars bicycles (as these people will be compliant with VANOC's transport recommendations) bedecked with Canadian flags and toot their horns ring their bells in triumph at a Canadian medal winning performance.

I do know a number of people in the second category. They appear to be doing what they can to make the best of the fact that the Games are coming to Vancouver and they plan to get on with their lives, as best they can, around the event. However, they do not sound that excited about it. They sound a bit well...resigned? The impression they give is that they are steeling themselves for the arrival of the Games rather than looking forwards to it.

Based only on what people have said to me in discussion and from reading local media, it seems that many people fall into the third category. Despite a lot of positive PR (which includes endless ads on tv "Do You Believe?"...ack, cheesy... and a big poster campaign around the city etc.), the discussion tends to focus on:

  • the expense of the Games, the projects that money has been spent on, the disruption to the city-businesses-people that these projects caused while they were in progress and the long term value of those investments versus what people feel the city should have spent money on (longer term relevance and value);

  • the fact that the Games are very over budget and residents perceive that they are going to be paying for the honour of being a host city for many years to come;

  • wondering what positive legacy will be left in place for the city and its residents after the Games are over;

  • the feeling that Vancouver did not really need the publicity associated with being a host city. Whistler is a well known ski resort and the city of Vancouver is a popular tourist destination (courtesy of having the reputation of being one of the best cities in the world to live in);

  • the disruption that the event has brought in the run up to the Games (which is going to worsen while it is on) and the impact that this is having on communities, commutes, livelihoods and families.

    To give you an idea - there will be road closures, parking and stopping suspensions. There will be area security closures around key Olympic venues. This may sound obvious but as a result...

    ...some schools and businesses plan to close. This might sound great but is likely to impact some residents personally (extra child care requirements / adverse impact on income).

    Some employers are following official guidance and are requiring that their employees change their regular work hours from 9am-5pm, 7am-2pm during the games (to alleviate anticipated Olympic congestion downtown).

    Others seem to be implementing a 'regular hours' contract with staff - someone who landed a job recently was required to sign an employee contract that committed them to regular work hour attendance during the Games. If they are absent or late? It will be grounds for dismissal.

    Not to mention the 200 or so homeless people who were relocated to Squamish from Whistler for the period of the Games very recently (for security reasons, apparently).

    More about what the city recommends to local residents and businesses can be found at this link. You may need to read between the lines to assess the impact of this advice on a busy city.

Now VANOC consulted with an official from a former Games host city and as a result, distributed a leaflet to local businesses advising the fact that while they expect hotels and restaurants to benefit from the Games, they do not expect very much in other areas of retail sales. In fact, they might drop. From the evidence collected from former host cities, people who travel to Vancouver to be a part of the Olympic experience may buy things that they have forgotten to pack or did not realise that they needed (e.g. wellies, raincoats and umbrellas) and they may buy memorabilia. However, that is pretty much thought to be it. Consistent with this, many watering holes/restaurants popular with local residents have warned that they are booked throughout the Games as they have been adopted by competing nations as hospitality venues. This means that they will be pretty much closed to the general public.

So, despite the fact that this should be, a memorable, 'once in a lifetime experience' for the city and its residents, many people are voicing that they do not feel that there is anything in it for them. In fact, they plan to avoid the city and the Games altogether.

Some are taking holidays (abroad in some cases - yes, leaving the country to avoid the Games), some plan to work from home in order to avoid coming into Vancouver and the rest appear to be gritting their teeth, or grinding them, about the prospect of their commute and the disruption to their usual routine.

So, in summary, I feel that I am living in a city that appears to be bracing itself for the Winter Olympics, rather than embracing the forthcoming experience of being the host city.

Personally, I hope that the angst and worry is misplaced. I hope that the whole event goes well - particularly for local residents. After all, if local residents will be paying for this event for years to come, they may as well get as much as they can out of the experience while it is here.

As for us? We will stay out of the way. I did meet a few people early last year who obtained event tickets through the residents' ticket lotteries (not met any since though). I was not eligible to participate in the lotteries at the time and the Games were too distant for them to prickle the Fella's interest at all. By the time he was interested, the lotteries were over and he's looked since but there do not seem to be any tickets available (certainly none that are affordable) for the sorts of things that we are interested in.

So despite the fact that we live here, we will watch the events on tv, just like everyone else around the globe. Yes, there is every chance that we will fight over the remote (convertor). The Fella wants to watch the ice hockey and I want to watch the figure skating!

Friday, 15 January 2010

December Download

December was a slightly weird month, split neatly in half (almost) between being here (Canada) and there (UK). I am not sure that I recall a great deal of the run up to our departure as it sped past in a frenzy of making. In fact, I was making gifts up until 1 hour before we left for the airport and snapping quick documentary shots of everything that I had made until 15 minutes before we left for the airport (more of that later).

The second half of the month whipped past in a series of short visits with as many family and friends as we could shoehorn into our short trip to the UK. I remarked to the Fella that it was peculiar, only having time to see some of my friends. Also, only seeing those friends once, when I was used to seeing or speaking to them every 2-3 days ordinarily - I felt very sad about it, actually.

We did get caught up in the bad weather during our trip. We had to pull off the road during our return trip to London from Hereford. It was the night that snow hit Reading, Newbury and Basingstoke and as we were in a rental car with summer tyres (effectively), we decided to bail and stay overnight in Swindon. I worked on a big project in Swindon for about 6 years once, commuting 150 miles (round trip) by car almost daily from my home in London. It was a fantastic project to work on with brilliant colleagues but I am not sure that I would want that commute now. It was strange and slightly nostalgic to wander around the shopping precinct in the snow, seeing what had and hadn't changed. Yes, I made sure that we entered and left Swindon via the Magic Roundabout (mostly to terrify the Fella)!

The day after, we whizzed down a quiet M4, remarking on all of the cars abandoned on the hard shoulder, and cut across Bracknell to Farnborough where we went to visit my Removal Company's warehouse. There, we tackled the belongings that I have had in storage since October 2008. We have probably spent more on storage costs over the past year than any of my things are actually worth. We went through my things, knowing that we needed to reduce it all by 50% in order to make the shipping costs to Vancouver viable.

Frankly, my hat is off to them - I think that removal men must possess the same sort of skill and tact as undertakers. We stood in their freezing cold warehouse with my two opened storage containers and they very quietly, tactfully, efficiently and good humouredly helped us to separate my things into three piles: to ship, to give away, to throw away. I thought that it would take all day. Nope. It took 1 hour and 30 minutes to unpack, sort and repack all of my worldly possessions (which looked extremely pathetic on the concrete floor of their warehouse).

I am sure that people will tell me that it was good for me but it was really hard to give and throw so many of my things away. Particularly the ones that I remember saving for and appreciating very much when I could finally afford to buy them. Of stuff kept, some went to my father's family house and some went to my youngest brother who has just moved into a flat. My father's family put us up while we were in the UK and it was really strange to see some of 'my' belongings dotted around their house. In truth, it was quite hard not to snatch some of them back and hide them in my suitcase. Even though I knew that we had no room or use for them here. Mind you, I think that there might be more bed linen here in Canada than we originally planned to bring back in my suitcase!

So as I type, 250 sq ft of household goods (reduced from 500 sq ft) are on their way towards Vancouver. They were shipped on the 12th January and we have been told that they are expected to arrive here on the 31st January. It's quicker than I expected.

I am glad that my stuff is on its way. I realise that it is a silly thing but it has been very strange living with the Fella in Canada without any of my belongings around me. I have felt a bit naked and uncomfortable about it. It is not that any of my things are nicer or smarter than the Fella's - in some cases, quite the opposite. However, it will be good to have some familiar items here e.g. to have a tea or coffee out of one of my own mugs (assuming that they survive the journey) and to have my own, familiar bath towel in the bathroom.

Sometimes I think that the Fella doesn't notice but it turns out that he does.

One of the things that upset me the most to throw away was my old bed frame with its really comfy mattress. It was not worth the cost or hassle to bring into Canada. Besides, the Fella prefers to sleep in a larger bed. However, his bed has to be one of the most uncomfortable beds that I have ever tried to sleep on. I cannot begin to count how many wretched, sleepless nights I have had since my arrival in Vancouver in October 2008. It has been thoroughly miserable – I have either paced the house, sat at the PC or lain in the dark, listening to the Fella breathe while watching the clock tell me how slowly the night is passing. It is so very hard to survive the next day when you have had very little or no sleep. I have been like a zombie - I cannot tell you how many classes I have almost fallen asleep in or had to apologise because I am yawning constantly and felt horrible.

So watching my lifeline to a good night's sleep being moved over to the disposal pile was quite tough. Made worse by the fact that the beds that we slept on during our trip were either completely trashed (hotel in Hereford) or extremely small and hard (parent's house in London) where the two of us were kipping on a ¾ size bed.

So I may have mentioned my heartache at letting my bed go - perhaps I mentioned it more than once, if I am honest.

When we got back to Canada, out of the blue, the Fella confessed how old his bed was. Put it this way – my stepson (almost 16) was likely conceived on it. He then marched me out to his truck, took me to a stretch of road with bed shops and refused to come home until we had picked out a new one.

It was delivered last Saturday and I made it up with some of the freshly laundered bed linen that I had brought back in my suitcase. Our new bed is so comfortable that I didn't get out of bed, all day on Sunday. I propped myself up, surrounded by my lovely, old, familiar bed linen (just some old IKEA stuff) and I read 'Kafka on the Shore' (at last). I have even had a couple nights since then when I have slept all the way through the night. In fact, the Fella tried to wake me with a cuddle this morning and he got told very firmly where he could stuff it for waking me up!

I think that the Fella is worried that he has unleashed a beast - that I am going to, 'take to my bed' for days at a time, as ladies used to do in the olden days.

I don't care. It is very selfish but I like how I feel after I have had a full night's sleep.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Tick Tock...

Well, we might be married now but surely I can still expect a little bit of romance on Valentine's Day...?!


I realise that is not actually a word but it is how I felt when I showed my Quick Cabled Cowl pattern to someone when I got home to the UK (just before Christmas).

Just imagine my chagrin when I spotted that I had managed to upload the wrong version of the PDF to Ravelry and that I was in the UK without access to the files I needed to correct the error. Particularly when I nipped into my store and saw (with some horror) that about 360 people had downloaded the pattern.

If you know me, you will know how carefully I checked that file. You will also know how much it pains me to confess that I made such a stupid error. Yet somehow, in spite of checking thoroughly, I managed to rename and upload a slightly older version of the pattern with a cut and paste error right in the middle of it.

Luckily the error was not fatal i.e. if you followed the instructions as they were written, you might wonder why the pattern referred to you lines 5 & 6 in Section A, when you should really have been referred to lines 1 and 2 in Section B. However, as the instructions on lines 5 & 6 in Section A were the same as the instructions on lines 1 and 2 in Section B? The cowl would turn out the same.

I corrected this problem as soon as I got back to Vancouver, so there is a new version of the PDF to download. I took this edit opportunity to tidy up (simplify) one of the main row instructions and I altered the two buttonhole row descriptions to try to make them easier to follow as well. I hope that the new edits are easy to use and beneficial.

I made a note of the update on the pattern page to alert people to the new version and I did try to do the 'notify users of an update' thingie but I am not sure that it worked because the pattern is a free download. So I will have to hope that people read this post or cruise the pattern page to ensure that they have the latest version of the pattern PDF.

In the meantime, as you were (mumble, mumble – need glasses – mumble, mumble)!

A Befuddled Start to a New Decade

Happy New Year! I promise that I am alive, even if I am sheltering from the usual West Coast deluge and not doing brilliantly well at fighting off the crippling lethargy that seems to afflict me when the gloom closes in and the rain falls incessantly.

I have written, if you can believe it, two reviews of 2009 - one in words and another in pictures. Yet I have not posted either of them. I think that it is because I found 2009 quite a downbeat, difficult year - despite the fact that 2009 is the year that I got married. When I reviewed them, I found that neither of my posts made very entertaining reading or viewing.

So to spare you the agony, I think that last year can be summed up very simply as:

- I made some stuff (less knitting/spinning than I expected; more sewing/quilting than I expected);

- I learned some new skills (well, put it this way, I have a back up drive stuffed full of image files);

- I did my best to adjust to the change of being in a new country , a long way from my family and friends (I am not sure that I am doing that well on this front so let's move on);

- I put on an extraordinary amount of weight (see bullet point above); and oh yes, I almost forgot

- I got married in a plastic dress. Twice – effectively.

Phew, I am glad that's done. Let's move on shall we?!