Kourtney Robinson – Dollybird Workshop Rotating Header Image

And Now For An Educational Experiment…

I like blocking things.  I need to be in the right frame of mind, of course, and not rushed at all, but it’s very pleasing to see the transformation.

On a whim, I used an app for making stop motion animation movies to record Mrs Whatsit’s blocking process, and with luck, it will work for you to watch…

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It’s only a couple minutes long, and there’s a surprise whiskered guest star, too.  Drop me a note if you can’t download it; I tried to set up a youtube account but I am apparently meant to remain tubeless.

(Re-)Introducing Mrs Whatsit

Yes, at long last, Mrs Whatsit is back!  As usual, the pattern is available through my Ravelry store for $6.00USD:
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mrs-whatsit-2

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What’s that?  You don’t remember Mrs Whatsit?  Well, it was originally published in January of 2011, by Sanguine Gryphon.  The rights reverted to me some time ago, but I wanted to rework the charts and re-knit it and, well, life intervened.*  I ended up not doing the re-knit – my amazing test knitter did the knitting, and as always, her work** increases the quality of my patterns.

The instructions are fully written and charted out, and you can cross reference between the two.  I’ve also included construction and blocking schematics.

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I chose a new yarn weight for this re-release; I decided on the delicious Mondegreen by Verdant Gryphon.  It’s currently on a hiatus so they can carry a couple other bases***, but I happily stocked up some time ago.  You can use any worsted weight, although it really will shine (hyuck) with a blend featuring some silk.

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Yes, I look smug about that terrible pun; forgive me.

Mrs Whatsit is a character in a book from my childhood.  She is an angel disguised as a tramp: “It seemed small for Meg’s idea of a tramp… it was completely bundled up in clothes. Several scarves of assorted colors were tied about the head, and… A shocking pink stole was knotted about a rough overcoat, and black rubber boots covered the feet.”  She transforms to show “…a pair of wings…made of rainbows, of light upon water, of poetry.”  A Wrinkle In Time, Madeleine L’Engle. 

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I think here, you can see the idea of wings spreading.  The construction is unusual – you begin at the nape and knit out, much like a neck-down shawl.  When the shoulder depth is reached, the center portion is bound off, and each ‘wing’ is worked outward separately.  Due to the nature of the increases & decreases, the only place markers are used in this pattern are to note the BO’s of the Center Panel. 

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The piece looks quite large here, but because of the lines of yarnovers, it happily wraps around your neck to act as a scarf as well as a stole.

I hope you’re as glad to see Mrs Whatsit back as I am – again, the pattern is available in my Ravelry store for $6.00USD.
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/mrs-whatsit-2

*This also explains the pause since my last pattern publication.
**All mistakes are all mine, as always.
***Yes.  I’ve been working at this for a while.  Trust me, if you can find Mondegreen you will be so happy…  Think it looks familiar?  It’s the same yarn that I used for His Golden Lair… http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/his-golden-lair

Family Changes, Part Three

This is the blog post I haven’t wanted to write.  Spoiler alert – sad news ahead; don’t read this, expecting a miraculous recovery.

My goofy, sweet, funny buddy is gone.

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I’d taken Suki and Mr. Kittenbritches to the vet for an annual & newcat checkup.  They were both healthy and fine – well, Suki hissed at the vet, but par for the course.  They each gobbled up their soft cat food reward when we got home.

The next day was a busy day; and after supper when Suki and I usually have some quality couch time, I had to go find him.  He was hiding in the basement.

“Oh dear…” I thought.

Saturday morning, I woke up and checked on him.  He was still hiding and unhappy.  So I got him a last-minute appointment with the vet.

She confirmed that he was indeed very sick, and she thought she could feel mass in his abdomen.  So Suki and I drove down to the vet hospital.

We still don’t know what happened to him – it wasn’t liver or kidney failure (had bloodwork done).  It wasn’t any kind of abdominal obstruction (they did xrays and an ultrasound too).  He wasn’t responding to the drugs they’d put him on, and on Tuesday, when the vet called and told me that they’d discovered one of his lungs was obstructed by fluid from pneumonia, I broke down weeping at the second hand store (where I was shopping for Halloween stuff).  I wasn’t willing to entertain intubating him, or scanning his brain for lesions, or more than another semester’s worth of tuition in vet fees.  The man and I have had frank conversations about DNR orders for each other; but it seemed so much harder to think about and arrange euthanasia for my buddy.

They put Suki on oxygen and kept him comfortable for the rest of the day, and after all of the day’s other commitments were met or arranged around (kids, school, dance class, etc), I drove down to the hospital again to be with him as he left.  The man had left for a work trip Saturday morning, and I’m glad that mom was around to help and lean on.

I was (and am) surprised by how much I miss Suki, and how much it makes me cry.  He was my companion for thirteen years , and was with me through a lot of tough times.  I think some of my sadness is from reflecting on the nature of life – we spend so much time, trying not to be alone, and then ultimately? We will either leave first, or be left.  I’m sure there are all sorts of deep poetic quotes I could use here, but really, all I can say is that is as long as Suki was in my life, he was well loved.

And that’s what I’m trying to do – is to love everyone in my life as well as I can, as long as I can.

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Good bye, buddy.

Family Changes, Part Two

  Yes, it’s part two of the family changes updates!  Although perhaps it should be “Part Mew”.

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Yes, we got a kitten.  Mr. Tiberius Kittenbritches is about four months old now, and he is Siamese.  I’ve been looking on and off at Siamese kitten listings, and could never find any that were less than a thousand dollars.

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Now, I am attached to Siamese as a breed because of their personalities, but also because they don’t bug my allergies so much.  And although there are many many adult Siamese available for adoption, I thought that a kitten would integrate into our household better and be less stress for Suki and more fun for my kids.  (Suki’s face there is saying “Wait, does he have my tail?)

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A____ has taken a real shine to him.  E___ likes him to play with but is averse to snuggles… Odd, but there you go.  Z___ has gotten over her initial disappointment that we didn’t name him Oliver and they are fast friends too.

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You may not be able to tell – Suki is a lynx point Siamese who I’ve had for 13 years (he was a shelter cat).  In the above photo, he’s sitting by the man, and A____ is leaning forward and Kittenbritches is sort of beside her.

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Here is the little dude asleep and hugging Z’s arm… I have a disproportionate number of photos of him being mellow and adorable.  I mean, he is adorable, and quite mellow for a Siamese kitten.  But he’s also a kitten, and when he’s moving, he’s usually moving fast.  Which means I have a good selection of fuzzy blur photos.

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He protecting me from my knitting book.  There are any number of hazards around; who knew that we were in danger from a green feather boa, a slinky, and the man’s shoes?*

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This shows Suki and Britches’ comparative size (and derpiness).  Britches’ points will darken up as he gets older, he’s a seal point.  He also has his head stuck in my circular knitting needle (the derp, it is strong with all kittens).  Suki is looking disproving yet patient.

And yes, I have about seven million more cat photos.  I’m doing my best not to wallpaper them everywhere, although really.  KITTY KITTY KITTY MOAR KITTY PHOTO!…

*Well, the shoes are very large. If you’ve ever tripped over a pair in our entryway then you might see Kittenbritches’ point.

Family Changes, Part One

Forgive me if I’m a bit scattered.  I’m coming off the end of a migraine and my brain is more aphasia-prone than normal.  (Incidentally, I find it funny and ironic that I can usually remember the word aphasia*, even if I’m feeling it.

Anyways.  This is the first in a series of three about some recent changes in our little family.  About a month ago, my darling niece Z___ came to live with us.  She’s 16, and entirely funny and wonderful.  I have guardianship of her, so she and I have been explaining things as basically, it’s like we adopted her and now she has bonus extra siblings and parents.  I’m not sure how much of a bonus the siblings seem like sometimes when they are fighting with each other – or lamenting whatever**- but she seems happy here and we are very happy to have her around.

She’s going to be finishing up her high school – if we ever get in to the guidance counsellor at her school! – and that will be online courses.  And more exciting (for me), she’s started running!  I have a running buddy!  We are very slow runners; and although we are both tall and fairly lean we each seem to have sad, asthma afflicted lungs, so our cardio is our weak point.  We did run one 5K; and we run every other day.  While we aren’t tearing up the track with our speed, I know that I for sure feel better after a run.  That’s my whole motivation for running, actually: I just feel so good after a run.  I know the cardio benefits are good, and the impact bearing exercise is a good preventative for osteoporosis, and blah blah, but really: I’m running for my brain.  Other benefits are secondary.

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This is me at the end of the the 5K colour run, and that wore the new right off those sneakers!  Z____ got new running gear at the same time (it was her back-to-school outfit), and while they used to be incandescent, they no longer hurt the eyes when you look directly at them.

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I did get all the colours out of my white running bra, but those shoelaces are still turning my fingers turquoise.

All right, I’m going to go make a pie.  It’s random, I agree, but I’m not quite focused enough for clever segues.

*Aphasia – it’s basically when something is up with your brain and you can’t word very well.  Transient aphasia is common for migraine sufferers and thankfully it’s mild for me.   No long term brain injuries here, thanks.

**”NOOOOOOO!!! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED/BRUSH MY TEETH/ETC ETC”

The Things That I Already Know…

Every so often I get a chance to relearn things that I already know.  I’m not talking about the lessons that haven’t quite stuck yet – something that I have yet to learn is to wait a moment when I open the oven door.  There is always a poof of steam and it always fogs up my glasses.  Although I’ve been wearing glasses since I was five, and cooking with varying rates of success since I was ten or so, I have yet to not fog up my glasses when I go to check on something in the oven.

No, I’m talking about things that I really do know.  In this case, it’s the fact that it’s a good idea to switch to a smaller size needle to do the ribbing at the hem of a sweater.  I’ve learned this through reading (Elizabeth Zimmerman, you darling), and the hard way as well.  “Why does that flip up like that and look floppy?… Maybe I’ll pick out the bind off and re knit the hem…  Hey look that worked… Huh…”

I’ve had that one figured out for a long time, like, a decade plus.  And given the amount I knit, I kind of feel like it’s the equivalent of knowing that a letter “t” needs to be crossed.  It just does.

So imagine how agog I was when I looked at the sweater I’m working on* and realized that I’d charged through 2″ of ribbing at the hem and NEVER EVEN THOUGHT about changing needles.  I did mull garter vs. seed stitch vs. ribbing; but changing needle size?  It literally NEVER CROSSED MY MIND.  I don’t think the capslock button is accurately reflecting how agog I am that.  I NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

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I’m proud to say that at least I DID actually look at what I was doing once I realized it, and evaluated it, instead of just telling myself that no, it will be perfectly fine just like it is, then casting off, then hating it.

Instead, I looked at it, yanked the needles out, yanked the ribbing out, found a smaller needle, picked up all the stitches, and resumed my K1, P1 rib.  Although I’m filled with resentment about it**, I am almost done (again).  Hopefully for reals this time; words don’t do this garment justice.  It really needs pictures.

*Sweater is perhaps a generous term.  It started off as an Enchanted Mesa, by Stephen West, but it’s taken some left turns and now is more like a tunic.  I hope.  The yarn is a 50/50 cotton wool that I overdyed a long time ago.  Deliciously soft.

**My own darn fault.  It never even crossed my mind!

Fruit, Jam, Pie, Oh My..

I spent a happy part of last week at a farmer’s market, showing great restraint.  I really felt sad that I’d missed the Rainier cherries in July… imagine my delight when I found them in mid-August!

They cost about one million dollars, but I bought them and promptly ate an irrational amount.

I also got a flat of rasperries to make freezer jam; a box of blueberries which I turned into pie filling (also frozen), ten pounds of saskatoons, some peaches, some dumplings and some curry, pea shoots for salad, and that’s all.

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Like I said, I showed restraint.  The raspberries were promptly turned into jam, and a couple pounds of saskatoons* became a pie.  I pre-cook the filling, and the leftover syrup was lovingly drizzled over the maple-vanilla ice cream.  (I got an ice cream maker.  Have been making all the lactose-free ice cream all summer.)

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Everything turned out so well!  The maple/saskatoon was a particularly beautiful combo, although the saskatoon pie was possibly my best pie ever.  I’d post a photo of that, but after an hour of wrestling with the ipad and the laptop, to try and figure out the easiest way to post photos, I’m out of patience.  So imagine a delicious pie instead.

I have been knitting too, of course, but more about that later.  Off to the day’s to-do list!

*Saskatoon is both the name of a city in Saskatchewan** and a kind of fruit.  It’s a berry that’s delicious.

As I Drift Off, Almost Every Night…

Almost every night as I’m falling asleep, my brain starts popping up with clever ideas for blog posts.  Inevitably, I wake up to a busy day and completely forget whatever it was I was going to say…

(Spoiler alert: I had a great idea but it’s gone now so this is just going to be a rambling post.)

It’s been a while.  In short, Italy and France was fantastic.  Truly lovely,  and I’m looking forward to going through my photos and memories and posting about some of my favourite experiences.

We got back from holiday, and fell into the mad swoop of the end of the school year.  Both girls are doing well, although I think E’s heart might break a bit when kindergarten starts and she doesn’t have her (much-loved) pre-K teacher.  I’ve tried to explain, but it’s hard to say how much her busy little four year old brain has processed.

Summer holidays are going well.  We spent most of the first two weeks at splash parks here in town, then we went to Saskatchewan* for a couple weeks.  July was the quieter of the two months; August had a wedding we travelled to, and there’s a family reunion this weekend (again in Saskatchewan**).  Next weekend is the playground build here on our cul-de-sac… Did I not mention the playground?  I’ve played a very small part in helping to replace the playground here on our block.  Raffle tickets, grant applications, and planning, oh my.

I’ve also reorganized the kids’ rooms – from having seperate bedrooms to sharing one!  They are both very excited about it; it’s a big thrill and a treat.  I suspect the double bunk beds help. :)

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This is a panoramic of their room – I didn’t repaint, but the furnishings are new to the room/repurposed.  Each bunk has a curtain that can be closed.

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These are the steps for the bunk bed – I had one of the step chests from Ikea in E’s room, and I got another (which I merrily chopped down one step), and now there are stairs AND storage!  Book shelves for the win!

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Each of the dressers are new, and above them I put some of the artwork I feel is special for each of my girls.  Their names are really neat – when we were in Hawaii four years ago, there was a street artisan who painted them for us.  Each letter is made up of different images.

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And the piece de resistance – a disco ball.  It rotates, and has little LED lights that are quite hypnotizing.  I admit to wanting one for myself, too.  Disco ball and dressers and steps are from Ikea; the bed is from a company in BC that ships to Calgary for free.  All in all, everyone is delighted with the room.

Their room is the biggest project I’ve finished lately – I keep trying to pick raspberries from the yard, but I tragically forget to take a bowl so I have to eat them all!  There aren’t really enough to do anything but eat anyhow.  It’s a memorial garden for my Gramma – she had the most extraordinary raspberry FOREST when I was little.   The patch is only in its third year; next year I think it’ll produce enough to maybe make one little batch of jam.  Until then, it’s berries from the farmer’s market for me.  Or a U-pick farm, although I don’t think there’s enough time to accomplish that…

So, this isn’t quite an essay about how I spent my summer, but it’s pretty close, and the laundry is waiting for me.  Hopefully I’ll remember the clever blog ideas in future, although you, dear reader, may be stuck with a random slapdash*** for a while.

*This trip, the man and I divided and conquered which means that I drove the kids down seperately.  It’s a LONG DRIVE when you aren’t knitting or sleeping…

**This time, we are all travelling together, so I’ll be knitting! Hurray!

***I know, I know.  Random slapdash is one of my strengths.

Happy Long Weekend!

Well, if you’re in Canada, it’s a long weekend.  If you’re me, it’s a holiday… We’re in Italy!

I love Venice!  I have to say it.  Despite all the problems and concerns, I love Venice.  Sure, it smells, it’s overpriced and full of tourists… But it’s wonderful.  We spent several hours at the Lido today and it was a really fantastic beach.  The sea was a tad cold but I guarantee that it was warmer than lakes in Alberta!

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(Mithril and my pale pale thighs at the Lido.)

The littles are delighted this far, and I’m excited to have holiday time with my family.  The fact that it’s in Italy is so very much a bonus!

 

-K.

Happy Mother’s Day

I say that because I am a happy mother, and I am fortunate enough to have a happy relationship with all the mothers that are in my life.*

But what really fills me with joy is gratitude for what makes me a mother – my man and my girls.  They are splendid and I adore them.**

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We had a wonderful day today.  The ground in the garden is still too frozen to work and there was ice frozen onto the deck cushions, but it did not snow today so I’m calling it a win.

I hope you have as much happiness (but maybe less mud) in your life.

-K.

*I know that this is not the case for all of us.  Mother’s Day can have almost as many emotional landmines as mothers themselves.  Plus, all the twee “Mothers love you unconditionally forever” dreck on facebook is irritating, at best.

**They are not perfect though.