A Visit To Mahone Bay

Wednesday past was a glorious day – Remembrance Day. My friend Mary Ann and I decided to spend the day visiting Mahone Bay (to have lunch, visit Have A Yarn Wool Shop (if it was open), and to pick up a piece of used furniture she had seen on Kijiji,).

The day started off with dense fog here in Halifax but by the time we reached Chester the sky was clearing and in Mahone Bay it was sunny and warm – like 20°C warm.

We had lunch outdoors at The Biscuit Eater – mild enough to be without jackets. Then visited Have A Yarn – and of course I came home with a couple of balls of Sisu solid yarns (to fill in missing shades from my stash). We picked up the old table Mary Ann wanted.

Then on our way back to the highway we stopped at Heidi Wulfraat’s Woolworks shop.

Just one section of  the Kaffe Fassett Fabrics – colour sorted

She has some interesting yarns but her collection of Kaffe Fassett/Free Spirit Fabrics (the most complete in the province) is to drool over. The fabric collection is small compared to the quantity of bolts you’d see at Avonport Discount Fabrics (the other must go to fabric spot in Nova Scotia) but this is just about the complete collection of Free Spirit fabrics.

The collection is a lovely quality of quilting cotton. The prints, both large and small scale) are compelling. I spent quite a long time looking through each shelf. It was so tempting to pick out bolts but I already have one drawer in my stash with Kaffe Fassett/Philip Jacobs fabrics – I couldn’t make any decisions. In the end I did come home with a 21 piece fat quarter bundle to add to what I already have.

It’s one thing to go shopping with a quilt idea in my head – quite another to walk into a riot of colour like this and make any decisions! I had the same experience in New York in 2012 at the button warehouse we visited. I walked up and down the isles of buttons unable to pick out anything – what size? what colour? what quantity? Buttons are something you pick out after you have selected the fabrics and made decisions about what you’re making. A tailored shirt needs 11 small buttons, a wool jacket might look good with 5 large bright ones…. It’s the same with quilting fabric – do I want some fat quarters, half yards, full yard cuts? Or am I looking for a specific backing in which case I will need 2 metres. I just don’t know.

So I added some fat quarters to my collection of Kaffe Fassett fabrics:

My Collection of Kaffe Fassett Fabrics

Now I just need to think about what to make with them…. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

“Ugly” Socks Finished

Completed these socks a couple of days ago. They turned out not badly. After I finished turning the heel turned I decided to continue with the single yarn until I was midway through the foot when I decided to add a couple of contrast rows to connect the foot to the leg.

Multi-colour Socks

I know the recipient will be happy to have them. They’ll keep her smallish feet warm!

Invisible Join For Knitting In The Round

I have a friend who’s picked up sock knitting again after many years. I was describing to her how I set up the casting on. I decided I might as well share that information:

Invisible join when casting on
for knitting in the round

There are lots of ways of casting on for knitting in the round – as I was checking out YouTube videos I didn’t quickly find one that does it in the same way I do, so here is my method:

Casting On

I use two needles held together in my right hand and cast on over both needles.

I cast on all the stitches (usually 64 stitches for a women’s sock) on both needles.

When I have the required number of stitches, I add one more stitch (you’ll see later why I do that).

Stitches Cast On Over Two Needles

Next I carefully pull one needle out of the stitches – now I have the required number of stitches (plus one) on a single needle that are somewhat loose and much easier to knit into for the first row.

Stitches On One Needle

Invisible Join

Here’s how I set up to knit in the round – I use double pointed needles because I find them easier than having to continually slide stitches along on a circular needle (when you can find one short enough for sock knitting).

With 64 stitches, I slip 8 stitches onto the first dp needle; 

First 8 Stitches Slipped To New Needle

I slip 16 stitches onto the second; I slip 16 stitches onto the third, I slip 16 stitches onto the fourth – that leaves me 9 stitches on my last (original cast on) needle.

Stitches Now On All Needles

I bring the two end needles with the 9 stitches (on the right) and 8 stitches (on the left) together, making sure I don’t twist the casting on, knit the first stitch on the left hand needle,

Knit First Stitch

slip what was the end stitch on the first needle (that is the extra stitch you added when casting on) over the first knit stitch – that secures the join.

Extra Stitch Slipped Over First Knit Stitch

Continue knitting – knit one more stitch (you’ve already knit the first stitch when making the join), purl 2, knit 2, purl 2…. What you’ve done is make the join in the middle of a needle – much easier to handle than trying to make the join between two needles.

Remaining 8 Stitches Knit On First Needle

[When you finish knitting that first needle you will have 8 unknit stitches (on the right) and 8 knit stitches (on the left) on one needle with the join in the centre.]

The nice thing about making that join in the centre is that it’s much easier to handle in the next couple of rows than trying to make that join between two needles.

BTW

If you happen to be working with a different number of stitches – I often start with 68 or 72, then I’m not going to have the same number of stitches on each needle – for 68 – I put 8 stitches on the first needle, 20 on the second, 16 on the third, 16 on the fourth, and I’m left with 9 on the last needle. For 72 stitches I distribute them 8, 20, 16, 20, 9. The reason for doing it this way is that those numbers are divisible by 4 which means I can K2 P2 and end up without knitting that pattern over two needles – the K2 P2 pattern fits on each needle.

Once I’ve finished the cuff, then I redistribute the stitches so that I have the same number on each needle – with 68 stitches I have 17 on each needle; with 72 stitches I end up with 18 on each needle. In both of those cases I knit ~25 rows, then decrease one stitch on each needle (and with 72 I decrease one stitch on each needle again at ~ row 40 of the leg) to end up with an ankle that has 64 stitches. When the leg is long enough (I generally knit 80 rows) I knit the heel flap, turn the heel, pick up the gusset stitches, begin knitting in the round again decreasing for the gusset, then knit the foot, rounding off the toe.

Here’s a link to my generic sock pattern if you want more details.

YouTube Videos On Making An Invisible Join

Here are a bunch of YouTube videos which show variations on the technique.

Only one casts her stitches on over double needles and then only on a single needle, many are knitting with circular needles, but you’ll see how the technique makes the join and be able to adapt it for yourself.

Using DP needles

https://youtu.be/rrfSQNgROpM

https://youtu.be/svCAFOhq6SY

Slipping end stitch with an extra stitch using a circular needle

https://youtu.be/idghalAiuZQ

https://youtu.be/S-Wbay5fROg

https://youtu.be/wHaQyK-2kJo

https://youtu.be/fbvOEotpOlA

Switching end stitches using circular needle

https://youtu.be/9xsPlcPp_tw

Socks Restored

Finished restoring these two pair of socks last night.

They were holdovers from a batch I restored well over a year ago. After replacing heels in a half-dozen pair of socks I’d had enough. This pair, however, although I had set up for new heels – I’d run a stitch-holding thread where the heel began and though the instep, cut out the worn heel – I put them aside.

Socks Renovated!

Marlene’s birthday is at the end of the month. I thought it time to repair these two pair of socks and give them back to her. These were two of the original Kaffe Fassett yarns I’d bought a long time ago. The original heels used the rust/brown yarn but I had none in my stash and couldn’t find any in town so I matched up the dark blue, instead. Works fine.

Both pairs look like new socks. They should each get another couple years of wear.

Putting Words To How I Feel…

Yesterday I got to the point where I could verbalize how I was feeling: disappointed and let down. Then my sister Donna sent me a link to Frank Bruni’s piece in the NYT:

Photo From The NYT

It’s always assumed that those of us who felt certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 were putting too much trust in polls.

I was putting too much trust in Americans.

I’d seen us err. I’d watched us stray. Still I didn’t think that enough of us would indulge a would-be leader as proudly hateful, patently fraudulent and flamboyantly dishonest as Donald Trump.

We had episodes of ugliness, but this? No way. We were better than Trump.

Except, it turned out, we weren’t….

Some 46 percent of the Americans who cast ballots for president in 2016 picked him, and as he moved into the White House and proceeded to soil it, most of those Americans stood by him solidly enough that Republicans in Congress didn’t dare to cross him and in fact went to great, conscience-immolating lengths to prop him up. These lawmakers weren’t swooning for a demagogue. They were reading the populace.

And it was a populace I didn’t recognize, or at least didn’t want to.

Read the complete article yourself – he wrote it a week or so before the election, I wonder what he’s got to say now. I will keep an eye out for his next article.

How Maps Deceive

When I look at the current election map of the US I am mystified by the enormous red expanse. I’m supposed to believe that the US is almost entirely Republican:

Normal Vote Representation by State

And then I came across this map showing population density – now the election results make some sense! People in the US are clustered on the coasts and in a few central locations – and the vote distribution is clearly more equal:

Vote Map By Population Density

I came across the map in a tweet by Sarah Cooper and then tried to find out more.

“Land doesn’t vote. People do”

Here is the visualization by data scientist Karim Douieb:

Data scientist Karim Douïeb figured that a more accurate way to represent how people voted is to use colored dots, varied in size proportionally to the population of each county. He turned the results into this GIF, which provides a clearer picture:

Pretty eye-opening, no? And yet, while this is clearly an improvement over the ham-fisted method of the first map in this entry, even this is not quite accurate. Within each of those large blue dots, you still have plenty of people who voted red, and vice versa. These results only show you which party won the vote in each region.

What do you think we’d see, if these data represented actual individual votes and we could zoom in on each one? The country is now more divided than ever, and just about evenly split. So all I’m certain of is that zooming out, we’d see a perfect shade of purple.

I guess it’s important to think more deeply about the mundane.

The Day After…

A Gloriously Sunny Day

A gloriously sunny day, if cold, and I feel profoundly disappointed. Sad so many people chose the path they did. Last time wasn’t a fluke – just a harbinger of things to come. Yes, I know populism is spreading globally, but I’d hoped the folks in the US would see possibility in voting for the ideals expressed in their constitution. I guess they understand it very differently than I do.

People will continue carrying on – grocery shopping, visiting the dentist, managing in whatever ways they are managing in the middle of the pandemic. The stock market will go down and then up and then down again. This snow on the ground will melt tomorrow – the temperature is predicted to reach 12° during the day. Fall will march on, I have an appointment to put my snow tires on at the end of the month. Winter will come and go. Life goes on.

I don’t feel like sewing today. Maybe back to the mystery novel, maybe take a morning nap.

4:12 pm

After some conversation (and a few tears) I can now describe my feelings: profoundly disappointed and LET DOWN.

For more than 4 years I’ve invested huge emotional energy being informed and trying to understand American political happenings even though it’s not my country, and I don’t have a vote, but I have friends living in the US who were doing their damndest fighting for social justice for everyone.

I feel let down by all those women, LGBT, Black, Latino, other vulnerable people (who ought to have voted Democrat but obviously didn’t) whose social, financial, and health prospects will now be severely diminished because they supported the Republican ticket maybe even electing trump and returning a Republican senate which (if Biden/Harris are elected) will result in unimaginable acrimony and chaos for the next 4 years.

We don’t know the outcome yet (likely won’t for a few days) but you can certainly expect trump (even out of office), hanging around pulling Republican strings for as long as he wants.

It’s like being betrayed by a very close friend. It’s that same let down feeling. The best you can do is sever ties and move on with your life.

That’s it. I’m cutting out the news  – I can now invest the 2-3 hours a day I spent trying to stay informed reading novels, doing things that reduce stress levels. It’s time to turn my back on this nightmare I can’t do anything about.

Nov 3 2020 – Getting Through The Day

My day started as usual and being a Tuesday I first went to have my hair cut, then visited the chiropractor. Came home and had lunch. Next a bit of sewing:

I started a new small “purse” yesterday – 4 small zippered front pockets and one side pocket, to carry “my stuff”. I’m carrying less and less these days: a couple of credit cards (I probably could dispense with those since they’re in a card app on my phone, but I still carry three), my health card, drivers’ licence, car registration and insurance card, a bit of cash, a couple of loyalty cards, 2 low dose aspirin, and a wee bit of change.

The “change” thing, I realized this morning, was only for parking meters; I don’t use change for anything else – I’ve taken the coins from my purse and put them in a small change purse in my car – now I no longer need to put up with the weight.

My “Purse”

I made it from some leftover PUL fabric which I used the other day to make an outdoor heater cover for my sister in Toronto (I forgot to take pictures of that project – maybe she’ll send one when she receives it).

I’d sort of finished the purse last evening but didn’t like how I’d handled the side zipper so after lunch I took the two side and the bottom seams apart and redid the side zipper. It works better now.

Completed size: 4 1/8″ x 5 1/2″ – a wee bit large to fit easily in my front jeans pocket but it’s great in a jacket pocket.

It means I don’t have to carry a purse (my chapstick is in my iPhone case along with some cough candies and chewing gum).

It’s now 3:05 – I started a Thomas Perry novel yesterday (The Burglar) – I’m going to pass the next couple of hours – a tall glass of sparkling water with a couple of lemon slices at hand, and a the book.

Last night I fed Ruby and me; tonight she’s returning the favour so I don’t have to think about dinner.

It’s snowing out quite hard right now – even accumulating on the ground:

1st Snowy Day of the Year

I can barely see across the parking lot. I may put my snow gear on and go for a short walk in the storm in an hour or so – fresh air to clear my head.

Tonight, I’m gonna try to avoid any network TV – I’ve got the latest season (Season 4) of “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix – a great light, amusing way to pass some time. This season Phil Rosenthal is visiting Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Singapore, the Mississippi Delta, and Hawaii. All sure to be entertaining. 3 and 3/4 hours of binge watching.

When that’s over, I probably won’t be able to resist checking out MSNBC to see what Rachael Maddow has to say about the incoming election results. God I hope Biden/Harris are leading at that point. I’ve been preparing to feel like I did on Nov 9 2016 – as if people close to me have died. The polls have consistently been favouring Biden since last winter – surely that’s how the election will turn out – but like everyone else I’m nervous. I can feel the tension everywhere in my body.

I just read something by Charlie Cook (editor and publisher of the Cook Political Report – someone people consider “in the know”) – here it is: “Don’t Expect A Contested Election” – he should only be right!

And I’m Canadian – eh? I don’t have a vote in this contest. But it will affect my world in ways I can’t imagine right now.

Oh, well. Enough of this time wasting – gotta get to my mystery novel….

Small Projects

Last week Ruby handed me the sleeve from an old Persian lamb coat – wondering whether I could make a small zippered handbag for her.

I cut a strip from the sleeve, discovered some original lining inside (still usable), added a bright red zipper and a bit of leather lacing for a handle – and there you have it: a small Persian Lamb handbag – finished size close to 7″ x 9″. I also put a small zippered pocket on the inside! (I used a leather needle and ordinary polyester thread – the machine handled the stitching just fine.)

Persian Lamb Small Handbag

She should be happy with that.

After finishing the last pair of socks I picked up this ball of Antarctica yarn which came in a “mystery bag” of sock yarn I ordered from Hobbii (in Denmark).

It’s one of those balls you want to use up quickly but I realized I’d be more than bored knitting this yarn…

Ugly Yarn

It’s a lovely texture yarn, nice to work with, but the colours are so bleh! So I added a bright leftover that I intended to interweave through the Antarctica yarn:

Ugly Yarn + Bright Leftover

This is what the sock is turning out like. By chance, the heel more or less fit in the green section, almost the whole heel, so I decided to keep knitting with just the original yarn.

Developing Sock

Right now my plan is to continue the foot in the Antarctica yarn, introducing a bit more of the leftover somewhere past the instep for a short distance – mainly to extend the yellow section (which will knit 20 rows – I counted that in the leg).

If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to end the toe in mauve to match the cuff –