Monday, October 16, 2017

My life is a pickle jar full of thread

This is the very cool thing that Trish gave me as a housewarming present when we moved back into the house:


It is a giant pickle jar full of leftover super colourful, tatting-weight thread scraps that once belonged to a seamstress building a business and a new life in Canada after getting through WWII in Slovenia.  When it came into Trish's hands she said Aha!  This is so obviously for Mary.  I think she meant, this is the sort of crafty colourful vintage thing that is right up Mary's alley.  But I think what the universe was really saying was:

Mary's life is a giant pickle jar full of colourful, distracting, raw materials. 

 And boxes!

Yeah... because the condo is still full of boxes and shelves and random beautiful casserole dishes (and I do not even cook casseroles, because Pete is not up for those At. All.  he is so missing out, isn't he?)

That's pretty much where I've been since I said I was going to be posting every weekday again, come hell or high water.  Of course now that I think of it, that is no longer one of those casual expressions that suggest 'unlikely extremity', given the floods and fires in the southerly states of the U.S. lately.  But I hope you know what I mean.

The condo project has been under a crunch because we need to get it listed for lease before the beautiful ferns outside the bedroom windows wither and die in a late fall frost, leaving the low-ceilinged space looking like a long dark sterile cave.  And even if they were going to stay green and leafy for months yet - I am losing my mind having to stretch across two places.  Plus there was pressure because after more than ten years since the last time, my writing friend Wrona was coming to Toronto and she was going to stay with us.  Yay! and yipes.  Amazing how much joy can mingle with terror...  even the day before she got here there wasn't room to open the pullout sofa because of all the unpacking I still had to do, with all the other box storage areas full and unable to take another mouthful.  AND I was going to the same writer's conference she was, so I was going to have to put all that condo work on hold for four precious days.

So... while I was away from Hugs, I was packing and unpacking and sorting and clearing and generally trying to chase down enough thread ends so I could wrap them up and contain them in a giant jar. 

And I did it!  The basement guest room is GORgeous now.  I had to order shelves for placing decorative baskets of yarn, and they are in and assembled and up.  I had to make curtains for the basement windows, and I successfully subbed in tension rods with vintage tablecloths folded over them as an emergency solution.  (I have picture of this surprisingly effective decor move, but I can't find them right now.  Another day.)  And I got the dining room table entirely clear of the junk I was sorting, so that there was space for us to sit down together for a nice meal if there was time for one.  (there wasn't.)

Now that the house is in its ultimate, habitable form with just a few manageable boxes tucked out of the way for dealing with over time, I can go back to the condo and focus on that much more exclusively.  It's going to be as terrible there as it was before, but at least I get to leave it and end my day someplace orderly and welcoming.  It's definitely progress and gets me that much closer to my dream of having writing as my default mode, instead of managing a renovation.  I am SO desperate to get writing again, especially after the writer's conference.  It is always so energizing to do those.

Well - let's look at the front of this jar shall we?


In case you thought this was a random association I'm making between me and this thing.  The pickles were produced just a few miles from where I grew up!

It is a huge jar, about a foot tall, and super wide.  Really striking, and there are just an incredible number of colours inside so it matches everything.  Right now it's on a kitchen windowsill but once Ray builds them, it will go to live on one of my fireplace mantels, along with the two sculptural paintings Wrona brought me in a totally uneven trade for the pittance of manuscript formatting work I do for her (she is a professional artist as well as a writer and SO TALENTED.)

Okay this is a very long post after a very long silence... when I'm back tomorrow I hope to be more moderate but now you know I didn't disappear into a sickly green mist of pickle fumes.  Hope you've been well in the meantime and I'll see you again soon!


Sunday, October 1, 2017

How to tell if you have too much yarn

We joke that there is no such thing as too much yarn. I mean, how can you have too much of something as pretty as this?


Well... when the rest of the picture is a giant lump of yarns, the mostly finished knit three sizes too big with no hope of ever being salvaged...


... and there are many more errors in knit-based judgement filling bins and boxes, it's hard to think you need even more yarn, ya know?

Unpacking all the knitting bins on Friday, I found unfinished projects like this sock yarn hat (on the left) and another, smaller attempt at the soft stripey garter stitch hat (on the right):


The sock yarn hat looks promising but the needles I was using... ugh.  They are lace tips.  SO painful in this application, so I had just set aside the hat.  I will have to find different needles and get back on that horse.

Fearful of moths, I've packed most of my yarn into plastic bags.  Those bags made the sorting pile on the kitchen table even more daunting.


And I guess it's good that I somehow missed renewing my Vesper Sock Club membership for this season? 


I still have a lot of sock yarn I haven't even caked yet, plus 10 pairs ready to cast on.

The 10 sets of socks-to-be tucked themselves neatly into the drawer of our new coffee table, ready to put onto needles as soon as I have some free and need a new emergency knit.  They look so cute in there!  Every drawer should open to reveal bright colours begging to be worked with.  But sadly, on the shelf below them, I have a bag with four pairs already knit, waiting for toes to be grafted and ends to run in.  Ugh.

The soft alpacas unsuitable for socks and the wrong colour for hats have gathered together with some handspun yarns to pair with hardier yarns that can handle the abrasion from a heddle moving over them.  Luxurious scarves are not only a practical use for these soft, vulnerable yarns, but weaving is superfast, so there's hope I might actually make it through the pile some day.

The yarns that I know I will kick myself for handing off - things that will one day be a joy to rediscover when I want to make a special knit for a friend - are gathered together too, in a box of noncommittal options I can put away as my 'yarn store' next time I want to go shopping.

I found the green cowl I've been working on since we visited Newfoundland, but not very hard because I don't enjoy the knitting needles I was using and couldn't find my knitting needle stash to sub in a better option.


I also found the knitting needle stash, which bodes well for both the cowl and the matching yarn I bought so I could make a hat.

And I noticed that a two-colour stripe is maybe even more appealing to me than three or more.  It's so clean!


(I ripped out the giant  hat anyway.  That yarn - a blue-faced Leicester blend from Debbie Bliss - is stupendously soft and I don't want to waste it.)

In good news, it turns out that this edition of our house - in spite of all that top-grade spray foam insulation we put in - does get cold when the temperatures drop outside, as they finally did a couple of days ago.  We are not quite ready to turn on the in-floor heating, and when we do I may well find I'm more comfortable in bare feet, but right now I am making good use of both my heavy mohair socks and my mid-season, lightweight Vespers.  Whew!  I love knitting the mohair socks especially, but it would be awful not to be able to enjoy wearing them any more.

The unwavering bad news though is that even after I filtered out all the yarns even I can admit I am never, ever going to get around to working with, and assigned all the yarns I am certain I have a use for to their various bins...

I have too much yarn.

Maybe not too much for a person who loves textiles as much as I do, but certainly too much for the space I have.  And there is only one thing a knitter can do when s/he has that much too much yarn.  Right?

BUY BOOKSHELVES.

(mine are arriving on Friday.  cannot wait.)

Hope you've had a good weekend, see you tomorrow!