Monday, 25 August 2008

It's My Move

Chessboard complete

Great success in my Olympic knitting: I finished off my chessboard last Thursday (needs washing and blocking though) and, squeaking in just under the wire early yesterday, the last of my dozen dishcloths.

Up next, I'm going to start knitting a model of one of the kings, using larger yarn and needles than what I actually plan to use for the finished sculpture. While the vast overwhelming majority of the models I make are smaller than what the finished item is, I think I'm better off building big to ensure I get this right the first time.

For starters, it's infinitely easier to pick up stitches when I rip something out, as I can almost guarantee I will do on this phase.

Repeatedly, I'm sure. (Although I would love to be proven wrong!)

As always, excessive details can be found on the My Past Life blog.

At least now, I'm working to my own schedule, not someone else's. That being said, tying myself to the sports extravaganza certainly provided me with motivation, much as spinning in the Tour de Fleece provided sufficient impetus to get the spinning done.

I've been debating whether or not I want to talk about the politics of the Olympics: perhaps even just typing that line will get me banned in China, depending on how sophisticated their parsing programme is. Personally, I couldn't not watch our athletes, as one of my first Olympic memories as a kid was watching our equestrian show-jumping team take Canada's only gold medal in Mexico City in 1968.

But I know several people who chose not to watch simply because the games were in China, as if watching somehow condoned the human rights abuses, censorship, and almost frightening spectre of organization to the point of compulsiveness on threat of death.

I prefer to look at it from the same perspective many of us have about being in Afghanistan: support our personnel (be they troops or athletes) without necessarily supporting the reason they are where they are.

A quintessentially Canadian solution, I fear....

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Inspiration Point

Mount Rundle from Bankhead

Well, the decision between coffee table and board shear became an easy one when I played around with the measuring tape and quickly realized that while the shear would physically fit, I wouldn't be able to do much with it once it was installed.

shrug So I thought about what it was I really did need and boiled it down to three things.

The first was a trip up to the mountains -- that's Mount Rundle in Banff National Park: I do some of my best thinking up in the thinner air, and there was a local Flickrmeet trip up to Bankhead (an abandoned town and colliery complex) on Saturday.

It was a beautiful, hot, sunny day with a reasonably steady breeze, and a good group of people, most of whom take much better pictures than me. Here's a look at the group's Flickr pool, where you can see everyone else's take on le grand aventure.

I always find it interesting to see how all of us experience the same place so differently -- yes, I think we all took at least one mountain shot, but the diversity of perspectives of the ruins, nature, and the other participants are the ones I like the best.


The second of my three things to think about was to find something and take a lot of pictures of it: I wasn't sure of what exactly it was that I wanted to find until I found the first example of it.

And then I couldn't stop: the picture above this paragraph is the last of four pictures I posted up to my Flickrstream, and I must have taken at least a dozen more.

Orange. Brown. Grey.

Rock. Lichens. Brick.

Colour. Texture. Aroma.

Which led me to the third thing I wanted to think about: pushing more artist books out the door. My old printer was in its final throes: the light cyan and magenta inks weren't printing properly, and I have a book I need to finish by September 1.

Either I started sending files over to our neighbourhood copy shop (not cheap, and not on the paper stock I want to use) or shell out for a new printer. So after some 'net research, I came home with an Epson Stylus Photo 1400. It's not the most expensive printer on the block, but it suits my purposes, and, most importantly, will get me back up and printing again.

And about time, too.

Plus in other news, the Olympic knitting challenge goes well, and I look forward to having the next blog entry show my results. Back to the needles....

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Eyes down -- now knit!

Dishcloth #4

It's not even been a week since the Olympics started, and I've been having great success with my projects.

That's my fourth dishcloth above -- my goal is an even dozen by the end -- and I've been making fabulous progress on my mindful knitting adventure as well. Details and pictures of My Past Life are here.

One of the few downsides of all this knitting is that I really have to be aware about doing more than my wrists can stand. It's not that I've had major problems in the past, but I don't want to do anything stupid that I will result in "issues" for the future: I've learned that lesson the hard way with other parts of my anatomy (hello, right Achilles heel!) that I've essentially ignored when they were minor impediments and now come back to haunt me.

And it's not just my wrists I need to worry about: knitting the tiny swatch for My Past Life on 1.25 mm needles with handspun yarn the size of heavy carpet thread really drove my eyes to distraction. After what I went through knitting the silk tapestry (done on 1.75 mm needles) in Virginia Woolf Knits (below), I swore I'd be more patient and take more breaks to give my eyes a break.

No, sitting and doing work on the computer doesn't count: after the swatch, I went back to the dishcloths and knit half of today's contribution before running a few errands.

While running about, I started to figure out what I want to do about my pending book projects: I suspect my printer is toast (two of the colours aren't printing properly) and I need to decide soon whether I will just go out and buy a new one, or send out files to a copy shop downtown. The latter is cheaper in the short-term, but the former would make my life much easier.

And since I returned from my adventure in Pennsylvania, high on my list of stuph to get has been something with which to do a better job of cutting board and paper. Spreading out a 4' x 4' hunk of Masonite in the middle of my kitchen, dragging out my big self-healing cutting surface, and crawling around on the floor just ain't cutting it (pun intended!).

Well, it looks like I've found a board shear: it's not the biggest one on the face of the earth, but it does have a floor pedal to hold the material, I can get it at an exceptionally reasonable price, and if we get rid of the ginormous coffee table that sits at my end of the couch, it would fit perfectly, I think.

Hmmm coffee table or board shear -- like, this is a difficult choice?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

But it's only August!

There's a reason....

Yes, that is snow up on Storm Mountain.

We took advantage of some better weather and our New-To-Us truck to have a few short adventures over the long weekend here: I've been spending an awful lot of time hunched over my work table, sitting in front of the computer, and knitting, and was in dire need of some fresh air and exercise.

Blow this pop stand

Saturday afternoon, we went down to the weir across the Bow River to check out this year's crop of juvenile male white pelicans: they love to hang out there, catching fish thrown up by the violent undertow in the water. It's a lot of fun to walk around the constructed wetland by the fish hatchery, seeing the flowers bloom and the few avian babies still about (mallard ducks and Canada geese, mostly) with their parents, learning all the things they need to know.

Sunday, we went off to a nearby driving range and split a small bucket of range balls. It was hardly busy there at all, and my skills were, ah, rather rusty: either I dribbled worm-burners straight or blasted great shots far right. Hardly auspicious for someone who had dreams of joining the senior womens' golf tour!

(Moreover, I ache today. A lot. Shoulders. Arms. Wrists. Working on the computer has not been high on my list of fun things to do.)

And then yesterday, we headed off to the mountains for a short hike up to Elbow Pass and Lake from Highway 40. Packed up some sandwiches and a thermos of tea, and got away from vehicle noise -- unfortunately, there were a number of busloads of unquiet children who spoiled what might otherwise be a peaceful retreat. I'm glad the pictures capture the best part of what was up there....

Even the snow! grin

At least I don't feel guilty today for having gone off to recharge my creative batteries, even if I'm now back at the grindstone. Deadlines I've committed myself to that will be met, things to bring to life, and ideas to implement, and words that need an outlet.

The only pressure I have to do these things is from within, of course, but I can be a merciless taskmistress....

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