Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In which knitting for my children proves futile....

So apparently Calgary was the second coldest place ON THE EARTH yesterday - it was -31.2 C (and although that's cold - I can honestly say I have felt colder -  but I digress). So my oldest son (15) goes out the door with a hoodie, runners, no mitts, no hat, and basically scorning my offers of knitted things to keep him warm.

It's almost enough to make me give up least for him.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How cold is it?

I ran this morning - -21C (I deliberately didn't listen for the wind chill - sometimes it's better not to know). Part of the group I trained with for Long Beach are also running the Honolulu marathon. Today was their 4 hour run, so knowing how much fresh people with new conversation are appreciated half-way through a long run, I decided to join up with them at that point. So with two layers of tights, 3 layers of shirts plus my jacket, my down ski mitts and MH's toque, I went out. After 10 minutes of waiting, I went off alone (I was getting cold) - and met them as I was coming back (I did an out and back run). The good news? I RAN (always important to feel smug) - if I had known that I would not meet up with them until 50 minutes into my run, I likely would have stayed in my jammies. But the fact that I was there, dressed and ready, meant it was a foregone conclusion that I would run. I usually feel strong and proud of myself for running anyway - but when I run in these conditions, it's like a huge shot of self-worth, wrapped up in a box and tied with a bow. The bad news - I wiped out - running by the river is always a little tricky as things tend to be icier. I don't think I have done any permanent harm, however - too many layers and the fact that I was running in the cold meant I didn't really feel it anyway - at least until now.

Oops, I did it again.....(with apologies to Britney Spears)

So I have been trying to resist building up my stash - if you check out  Ravelry, I realize that it doesn't look that large (although not everything is on there yet), especially compared to other, random knitters. Really, up until about 4 years ago, I had maybe enough for 1 pair of socks and another sweater sitting in my stash (and I wasn't on Ravelry, either). I rarely bought on impulse - usually, I had a specific something in mind when I went off to a yarn store. But then I discovered Jimmy Beans Limited Editions, Blue Moon Fibre Arts Socks That Rock yarn club and I also did a little travelling - and now it seems a little overwhelming. I knit impatiently on one sweater or pair of socks, and can't WAIT to get it off my needles so that a) I can wear it (providing I get it sewn up) and b) I can get something else going right away.

But when I am done and can dive in? I look at what is there and I think nope, nope, nope and nope!!! The yarn may have had a specific project in mind when I bought it - but by the time I get back to it - the project has eluded me, or I can't believe I would ever want to wear THAT - what was I thinking? 

So in June, I decided - no more yarn. I would buy only when I had a project in mind - and not until most of what was in my stash was knit up (that includes you, Kauni, and you, Noro Blossom). And then.....I was in Seattle and went by a yarn shop (Tricoter) and wandered in - and came out 20 minutes later with some Punta and some Alchemy Haiku, to knit the Stay-put wrap by Mag Kandis...

 OK - everyone gets one do-over....

And then? We were in Halifax, getting AE ready for her sojourn at Acadia - and after going to every store that sold bath caddies and sheets and towels and other items of necessity for university, I HAD to have some yarn therapy - and I fell HARD for some gorgeous Fleece Artist to make up the garter stitch sweater that came with the wool.

But I stood firm - I didn't even visit any yarn stores in Long Beach - and there were several.

And then 3 weeks ago I went to Pudding Yarn, my favourite Calgary yarn store - and she was unpacking Malabrigo - and I stood there drooling at the colours (OMG as the children say). There was this gorgeous green and purple - and a lovely navy and gold...and I was strong.  I walked away with the only thing I came into the store to get, which was a pair of needles. (I know I probably have the same size somewhere at home, but it would mean going  into the rat's nest of a sewing room that needs some love and attention before I can find anything).

And then I found myself back there last week, card in hand, pattern in the other - and I walked out with 4 skeins. Still not sure how that happened.....

Sigh - you know even if there was a Yarns Anonymous group, and I had a sponsor and everything? I wouldn't stay very long on the wagon. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lest we forget

I always think of my dad at this time of year. He died Christmas Day 1994 - but this is the time of year that I remember him. He was a soldier - RAF, actually - in the second World War. He flew in planes over Germany, navigating while bombs were dropped - but he never really talked about that part of war. He talked about being a soldier, being part of the war effort, good comrades and the habits of a lifetime he developed when he enlisted (a pack a day habit that ultimately killed him, a love of fine scotch and good books, a hatred of liver, mutton and Brussels' sprouts) - but never about actual war - the "thing" that took him overseas. He always attended the Remembrance Day service - he loved the music and the laying of the wreaths - but he never said much about being overseas, about what took him there, about the feeling of dropping bombs that killed people or even why he enlisted.

He was the fourth child of my grandmother - herself widowed after her first husband went overseas and was killed in the first battles of World War I and her second husband died of strep throat  - and I suppose he could have pleaded hardship and stayed home. But that was not like him - he was a man of principal and he felt for Canada the way you hope most Canadians do - if her people were called on to serve, then he was going to be there to help in whatever way he could. I think it left him with some ghosts - ones he never really talked about, except if you came in late at night, after some teenage revelry and he was unable to sleep. Other than that, it was just part of his make-up - but all his children inherited his need to serve and help where-ever their skills took, and take them, and I like to think that that was one of the best things he could have given us. By serving, our communities, the individuals we serve and ourselves as individuals become better - and that was likely part of the reason he signed up and went overseas.

My brother thinks that Remembrance Day should not be a day off - except for those soldiers who served and serve - but I disagree. I think that the day off gives us all a time to reflect - and attending a service at the local cenotaph or war memorial, or listening to the service from Ottawa reinforces the things we take for granted - our freedom, living in a land of opportunity, even the political system we often despise - because despite all the negatives about Canada, we are a land that gives hope and opportunity to all of her citizens, whether they were born here or came here. So today, I pause and think about all of this - and I think about my dad as a young man forced to grow up sooner than most young men today, but how he took that as an opportunity to contribute to a cause that was bigger than him and could have gone bad in so many ways. And I hope and pray fervently that my children will never be asked to make that type of contribution - but that their contributions will make a difference to their worlds and that they will always know peace.