The Gauge Monster

It was nearly love at first sight. I saw that pattern and knew deep in my soul that I wanted–no, needed–to make it. The FoxxyLady Shawl is everything I ever wanted in a shawl: it is big, but not too heavy, patterned, but not too much, and embracingly long, but without monotony.

Then I found the yarn: a little fair trade number that reminds me of vanilla bean ice cream. I tried to look at other yarn–there was even a perfectly timed knitpicks sale.

No other patterns or yarn compared. I returned to look at them day after day, yearning for them.

So I took the dive, spent the money and revelled in the beauty of my new purchases, eagerly awaiting the day I could cast on.

Until I decided to do a gauge swatch. My second swatched project ever. Except this time the measurements didn’t work, even after going down a needle size. It was taller than it was wide.

I’ve read up and it seems that there’s not much I can do at this point, unless I was using wool and could block to a specific size. At this point, I may as well just pick a size and run with it–at least until I can see how the first part of the pattern looks.

I want it to work, dagnabbit! The longer it takes for me to find the correct method to get it to look right, the longer it takes me to finish it. I want this shawl so badly!

Why won’t it work?

Did you ever have a project that wouldn’t gauge? Any ideas on how I can fix it?

Advertisements

Puzzles

The first thing I do, after I open the box, is to sort all of the pieces into two piles: border pieces and non-border pieces. Simple, yet somehow I always seem to miss a few. Then, I set all the non-border pieces aside, and work on assembling that border. There is a comfort in knowing that in the end all the pieces you need are there and everything will fit together.

Unless you got it from a thrift store, in which case, there will probably be a few pieces missing, as well as a couple from a different puzzle entirely. But that’s life–very few things fit just right. You learn to make do with a few pieces that have more wiggle than they should. And some that are outright gone.

Since my mom passed away, I don’t do many puzzles. It was mainly a special activity that my mom and I shared. She tried to instill the same love of puzzles in my sister, but it didn’t stick. My sister would get frustrated after a few pieces and wander off. The cat, on the other hand, always enjoyed puzzles (mostly the “lying on top of the pieces you’re working on” part).

image

My mom’s favourite type of puzzle is called a “mystery puzzle”. A mystery puzzle has a design that is completely unknown to the puzzle-assemblers, then at the end, there’s a story to read and a mystery to solve based on the “clues” in the puzzle. I never really cared for the story part. Maybe it’s because mystery stories were never my thing. Maybe it’s because solving the mystery was always really hard. Regardless, eventually we just stopped trying to do the stories and focussed on the puzzles.

I haven’t done a mystery puzzle since my mom passed, but even when I do non-mystery puzzles, I avoid looking at the box. Some people call this crazy or strange or too hard. For me, it’s just the way you do it. In fact, looking at the box feels like cheating. I don’t need to look at the box to know that the next puzzle piece is going to have a continuation of the same pattern that’s on the current piece. I don’t need to look at the box to know that similar patterns tend to be grouped together.

It’s all about the puzzle. It’s all about feeling that satisfying connection between two perfectly matched pieces. Each one is a success. Each larger group is an even bigger success. That last puzzle piece is near perfection. But, then, once the whole thing is assembled, the allure is gone. It’s time to rip it up and put it away. Not many things in life are better in pieces than they are as a whole.

I sat down yesterday to do the first puzzle I’d worked on in a long time. I didn’t even know I wanted to do one until I saw one in the random hobby store where we’d stopped. But I realized quickly that it was exactly what my heart craved. As I sat to do that familiar sorting of pieces, I felt a sense of calm and reassurance. My mind slowed, my focus sharpened. Each time I felt that satisfying connection between two pieces, I was a bit more connected to all those puzzles with my mom, all those years ago.

Life is so much simpler when you know all the pieces are there and they’ll all fit together in the end. But, maybe it’s not so bad when a few of them are absent or wiggle. It certainly makes it more of a pain challenge.

2013 – An Awesome Year

Some years are better than others, just like some days are better than others. This year happened to be a great year for me.

  • I got married
  • The wedding went wonderfully!
  • I found a new positive outlook around my job
  • I saw a lot of healthy growth in my family (which lowers my stress levels)
  • The condition of my back, neck and arms has improved enough that I can knit again
  • I got back into yoga
  • I found friendships where before I was annoyed and shutting them out
  • I enjoyed the whole year as a vegan (with some mishaps, as is bound to happen)
  • We got an elliptical and I still use it, 6 months later! (although not very regularly)

While there are lot of things I’d like to improve, I think I have room to be  proud of myself for those 🙂

I must confess, I’ve been avoiding setting New Year’s resolutions the past few years. They really seem like empty promises, made to make a certain person who is not me feel better. (And no, it’s not my partner either, don’t worry) But after such a good year it’s hard to not want to make some of those resolutions in an attempt to push myself. Really, though, every resolution ever boils down to:

“Be a better person”

(If you can name me a resolution that you’ve made (no cheating!) that doesn’t fall under that category, I will knit you something. Or make you jewellery. Your choice.)

In conclusion, next year, I’m going to keep trying to be better. And with luck, 2014 will be even better than 2013.

After all, I won’t have a wedding to pull out all my hair over plan.

Wedding Wrap-up: The Big Day

The weather was forecasted to be partly cloudy with thundershowers in the afternoon. It was concerning, and unexpected. August weather is usually reliably sunny around here. I knew there was nothing I could do, but I worried anyway. And checked weather reports constantly.

The day dawned cloudy. I cringed. The weather forecast hadn’t changed. It was at this moment that I chose to ask my mom, if she could, to give us good weather for the day. I envisioned sun and bright blue skies with few clouds. That is not what I received.

The view from where we got married when it is sunny -- you can see why I might have wanted that! (Image taken by my lovely friend Alison)

The view from where we got married when it is sunny — you can see why I might have wanted that (Photo taken by my lovely friend Alison)

The clouds did not dissipate for the late-morning ceremony. Fortunately, my worry did as I walked down the aisle under bright grey skies. We said our vows–I could barely comprehend it was happening, it seemed so much like a dream. There are at least a couple pictures out there of me looking like a deer trapped in headlights. I just wanted it to sink in so that I could appreciate it. (Luckily for me there is a video of the ceremony for that)

After the ceremony, there were hugs and tears with our treasured guests, some of whom hadn’t been seen in over 9 years. It was hard not to be overwhelmed with the love that was present there.

We took a few group photos, and then everyone piled under the tent where the reception was to be held. It was then that the first few drops of rain began to fall. The rain continued to fall lightly, sporadically, during the wedding party and couple photos. Enough to frizz my hair (sigh), but not enough to really cause any damage.

The gift table - which had to be pulled under the tent when it started to rain. We made the guest book ourselves, and the guest fish was a wonderful idea from my new mother-in-law (photo taken by my lovely friend Nicole)

The gift table – which had to be pulled under the tent when it started to rain. We made the guest book ourselves, and the guest fish was a wonderful idea from my new mother-in-law (photo taken by my lovely friend Nicole)

It was minutes after I returned to the tent post outfit-change that it began to pour. But everyone was under the tent, so it didn’t matter. Lunch was delicious, and also raw vegan. Many people were very impressed and told us so–which was especially nice since it was a worry point with me, that people wouldn’t like it.

Since it was still raining when it came time for dancing, the tables were pushed aside, chairs put in a ring and the dance area was in the middle. We had our first dance surrounded by wonderful, lovely people. Which, I must say, was way better than the original plan.

Soon after that, the rain stopped, and the sun came out. The foosball table was dragged out and a tournament was arranged. People kept dancing. We had unbelievably delicious vegan cake. The 90’s kids rocked out to Backstreet’s Back. Oh yes, we did that. And it was one of my favourite moments, I have to say, everyone suddenly getting up to dance again, belting out the lyrics.

It was sunny for the rest of the day, even as we left. There was probably a beautiful sunset from our hotel room, although we were still so buzzed on the rest of the day, we didn’t really notice.

a

The end result of the head table, after all the hard work. I’ll do a breakdown of these decorations in a future post! (Photo taken by my lovely friend Nicole)

With the clouds and rain, initially I thought that my mom hadn’t heard me, or didn’t have enough pull with the weather gods to pull off the change. But then I realized we had the perfect weather. The cloudy ceremony was excellent for pictures, I didn’t get too hot in my mountainous dress, and I wasn’t all squinty (I often wear sunglasses in cloudy weather, my eyes are that sensitive). The sporadic and then downpour of rain kept the wasps away from the snacks and then lunch that was out. And, of course, caused the awesome move of the dance floor to inside the tent. Then it became sunny after all the food had been cleared, making for the perfect finish.

So, she was there, and she did hear me, because, like any mom would, she gave me the weather I needed, not the weather I wanted.

And, that realization was really what made it the perfect day. That, and I got married to the most wonderful man in the world.

Thank you to everyone who has been going on this wedding journey with me! Just one more post to wrap up all the DIY and then life really will be back to normal! Did you enjoy these posts?

P.S. Did you vote in the poll yet?

The Perfect Proposal

It is expected, thanks to movies and tv shows, that the best wedding proposals are the epic, romantic, never-saw-it-coming proposals. Those are, in fact, the only ones worth having. Otherwise, might as well just return him/her, he/she is obviously broken.

I must start out by admitting, that’s what I thought I wanted. I wanted the romantic dinner (or walk/weekend getaway/etc.), the surprise down on one knee, the displaying of the perfect ring he had managed to pick out all by himself…But in reality? I’m far too impatient for things like that. With all the weddings I attended last summer, my brain kicked into overdrive–I wanted to get married, dammit!

So, we started talking. Figuring out (mostly just confirming) that we want the same things in the future, including getting married. Eventually, when it started coming to light that he couldn’t handle my impatience anymore (yes, I was pretty bad, but it wasn’t my fault, I swear!), we started a little pre-planning.

He suggested that he’d like to design a ring for me, so that it was as unique and special as I am to him. (Seriously, is that not the most romantic thing ever?) Obviously, I wasn’t saying no to that. But there was a caveat: he wanted my opinion. At least to give him a general idea of what I wanted. So I did. And then I waited, while he tried to give life to his design. I hate waiting.

Finally, he found a jeweller who refined his design. My wonderful partner decided he wanted my final say, just to make sure they got the right type of stone. Needless to say, I was excited. We left work a bit early and went to meet the jeweller. The design that had started with my partner had been further refined into something gorgeous. It was everything I wanted: low profile so I wouldn’t smack it on things, sturdy so stones wouldn’t fall out when I did smack it on things, and, of course, beautiful. The last decision was mine: did I want a light blue sapphire or a colour change sapphire? The light blue sapphire was cheaper, but the awesomeness of the colour change sapphire was the clear winner in the end. The deposit was put down and then they told us we’d have to wait 4 weeks. 4 whole weeks!

And no matter how many times I asked him whether he’d heard from the jewellers, he wouldn’t tell me. He valiantly evaded that question up until the last.

Then, one day, we were sitting in the car, heading away for the weekend to visit family. I had just finished asking him the question not five minutes beforehand. We were chatting about random things, when he fills the silence by sharing, “So, when I went to the jewellers today, they wanted to take down my credit card number and my driver’s license in order to take my cheque.”

I couldn’t help it, I laughed. I laughed even harder when the look of realization came across his face. All that work, all that effort to surprise, and he was just so used to sharing things with me, he let that slip.

Very kindly, he agreed to not torture me for an indefinitely longer period of time, and took me to the nearest park. He sat next to me and told me he loved me, and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. Then he got down on one knee, opened the ring box, and I can’t remember much other than he said some very wonderful things to me, but all I could see was that ring.

2012-09-15 13.44.35

I still remember how blue the sapphire looked in the sun that day. And how for some reason I was panicked it would never turn blue again when night fell and it was purple. But what I remember most is that he loves and trusts me so much that he tells me everything. Even when he’s not intending to.

It was the best proposal I could’ve asked for.

All that hype about proposals having to be a big, romantic surprise is a lie. The best proposals are the ones that lead to you marrying the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. That’s all there really is to it.

A Tree Of Memories

Christmastime, to me, has always been about family. It’s about being with those you love, thinking of those who are far, and remembering those who are no longer with us. It is a wonderful time, and sometimes a hard time. But it is always full of love.

My family has started many traditions over the years that I now associated with what gives the holidays meaning for me. One of the most important is the tree–it must meet several requirements to be considered a “real Christmas tree”.

Our First Christmas Tree

First, it has to be real. None of that fake tree crap. It smells wonderful, looks wonderful, and keeping it alive for 3 weeks really makes me feel like I accomplished something.

Second, we have to cut it down ourselves. That’s right, down on those hands and knees in the dirt, sawing that sucker down. Just gives you the warm and fuzzies, doesn’t it?

Third, it must have coloured lights. White lights look very classy, I admit, but that’s not the look I want. I leave the classy trees to classy people.

Fourth, it must have moving ornaments. Some of you may not have had the pleasure of these particular motorized ornaments, but they are pretty much the best thing ever. Unless I hear that buzz of tiny motors, it doesn’t seem like a real tree.

The little elves rotate around the tree to "decorate it"

The little elves rotate around the tree to “decorate it”

Lastly, mostly importantly, there are the picture decorations. I could probably suffer through the absence of 2 – 4 as long as I had these (not the fake tree though, never the fake tree). They contain memories, that you can put up on your tree, all the while reminiscing about all the good times, and all the people you love. It is an especially good way to remember loved ones, be they human, pets, or just dear inanimate objects.

Picture Ornament

And because it’s the holiday season, I am going to be generous enough to share the how-to for these cherished decorations.

DIY Picture Decorations

Materials:

  • thin cardboard (file folders work really well)
  • wrapping paper
  • glue stick
  • scissors
  • a pencil
  • a photograph (not an original!)
  • ribbon
  • single hole punch
  • Approximately 3.5″ and 4″ round stencils (I used a small sour cream container for both, it was perfect! Other options are lids, using a compass or mugs)
  • glitter (optional)
The tools (minus the hole punch)

The tools (minus the hole punch)

On the cardboard, draw a circle 3.5″ in diameter and cut it out – if you want to make multiples, this can be kept and used as a template, so I suggest using it to draw another

Trace the 3.5" circle onto the file folder

Trace the 3.5″ circle onto the file folder

Trace a circle 3.5″ in diameter on the back of the photo and cut along the line

Trace 3.5" circle onto the back of the photograph

Trace 3.5″ circle onto the back of the photograph

Use glue stick to glue photo to cardboard

Photo and cardboard glued together

Photo and cardboard glued together

Trace a circle 4″ in diameter on the boring side of the wrapping paper, and cut it out (sensing a pattern yet?)

Trace 4" circle on wrapping paper

Trace 4″ circle on wrapping paper

Put glue all over the boring side of the wrapping paper circle. Stick the exposed cardboard side in the center of the wrapping paper circle, then fold edges of wrapping paper over the photo.

2012-12-20 02.47.25

Glue the photo-cardboard to the wrapping paper and press the exposed edges onto the photo

Use hole punch to put a hole through top of the ornament. Cut about 8″ of ribbon and loop it through the hole, tying off the ends.

Tada!

Tada!

Optional fun bonus steps:

  • Put glue on the exposed wrapping paper on the photo side, and sprinkle some glitter on. (Ooooh shiny!)
  • Stick a label on the back of that sucker! 20 years from now you may not remember who that person was, or why the photo was significant. Then you have arguments over who the baby in the picture was, where the picture was taken, who took it…(I may or may not be speaking from personal experience)

This Christmas, I’m very excited to make some new ones including my fiance and his family, so that we can start our own collection of memories to put on our tree every year.

Your turn: what memory would you make an ornament out of?