Friday, October 31, 2008

Shetland Knitting Belt (adapted)

(Just a quick note to my Vegan friends, this post contains the use of animal products - I wanted to be as authentic as possible. If it makes you sad to see someone use leather, feel free to skip this post.)

I did it. After much struggle, strife and far too many months without knitting, I found a working solution. I can now knit one handed (sort of - it's a learning curve, but I'm getting there).

This is my adapted version of the Shetland knitting belt. As you can see, it doesn't have a belt attached to it. Instead, it has a belt loop on the back so it can fit on my everyday belt.

Dad let me borrow his brain for the planing out of this contraption and also helped with some of the tasks that required strength. I had actually gone down to the local Leather shop to ask them to make it for me and ran into an old friend, LabyrinthLeather (I just adore her belt buckles, especially this one. Sigh, if only...). She encouraged me to make my own knitting belt and helped choose out the materials. In the end, I saved a Huge amount of money by making this myself and I have a sense of satisfaction that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

Working with leather was far more enjoyable than I would have suspected. I thought it was going to be stubborn, but it actually seemed to anticipate my will and act accordingly. The hardest part was to stuff it full of horse hair (traditional stuffing), but I'm glad I endured. The horse hair works great.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Big smile

Here is something that brought a big smile to my face.

I found it over on Moth Heaven while trying to catch up on the 200 odd blog entries I haven't read lately.

If you like the video, here is the main site that produced it: Playing for change. I love this concept: peace and understanding through music.

Pleased as punch

Guess what I made. Here's a hint:

I'll tell you more about it soon.

Yep, I'm starting to feel better today. A huge source of stress has been removed from my life (for now) and I am enjoying having time to do what I love, even if the energy to do it is sporadic at best. As of this week, I'm officially on sabbatical from university.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dreaming of white stuff falling from the sky

I think I need to move out East. I hear from someone who's name starts with the letter J, that they have real snow as early as October. It's still t-shirt weather out here (well, for some people anyway). I miss snow. I love skating on a frozen pond. I love snowshoes and I adore cross country skiing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

what I really need is...

...a knitting sheath. That way I don't have to use the injured hand at all. Then I could knit again.

I wonder where I could get one of those.


I'm disappointed. The new thumb brace that was suppose to make knitting possible again isn't working. I can manage all of maybe ten minutes of knitting before it hurts so much that I have to quit for the day. At this rate, it feels like I'll never knit again. I hope that's not true.

The problem is my Lyme disease. One of the main symptoms is chronic inflammation. I have injuries that happened years ago that are still inflamed thanks to my Lyme friends. Neither rest nor anti-inflammatory, nor ice, nor snow will bring the swelling down. What's worse is that my thumb is not an old injury, it's arthritis caused by Lyme singling out my most used joints. Really inflamed arthritis. Fun.

Unlike most of my Lyme symptoms, these will most likely dissipate with treatment, but it will take a few years. Does this mean that I'm going to have to go four years without knitting or spinning? I'm not good with that.

I'm tired, I'm in pain, and I'm feeling grumpy.

It wouldn't be so bad if I was just working on knitting projects for myself, but I have two half-way completed projects for other people. Under normal circumstances it would take me less than a week to complete both of them. But as things are now, knitting at most ten minutes a day, I don't know if I'll finish before New Years. That's not good enough.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ah, fall again

The weather is absolutely lovely these days. It's dry and sunny. There is a cold breeze in the air and the are undressing themselves for the winter.

I haven't been out enjoying the season much this year. I've been doing a lot of sleeping and the occasional bout of homework for university. I haven't even been able to do much knitting which totally sucks because I have two knitting commitments that are hanging over my head. But no matter, it will work itself out somehow.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Here's another Y sighting.

Just a glimpse but cute as always.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Still alive, just tired

I've been doing a little bit of colour therapy with some silk corriedale roving.

I sat on the couch and pre-drafted some of this Easter egg coloured future yarn. I think I'll make sock yarn. It's not a colour I could ever see myself wearing, but I sure am looking forward to spinning it.

Other than that, I've discovered that I can watch Dr Who online. Thank you CBC.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

great walking wheel goes walkabout

I said goodbye to my walking wheel yesterday. It's gone to live with some friends for a few months. I must say I will miss it while it is away, but they promised that I can come and visit any time I want. I know they will take good care of it and it will take good care of them.

So why did I lend my biggest, oldest and most valuable wheel away and who are these people anyway? They must be someone special if I trust them to look after it.

The other day, I was thinking about how this wheel is like a living person. There are parts of it that have got to be at least 400 years old and made by hand with great love and skill. Other parts, like the miner's head, have parts that look like they have been made by early machine manufacturing. The cuts are more even than the hand hewn parts, but not as even as today's techniques produce. That, plus other features, puts that part at about 150 years old. The axle on the wheel itself is obviously new. It's shiny and modern.

Many parts have been repaired over the years, some replaced, some remain the same. A few spokes for the wheel are different than the others, but all of them are deeply worn where hundreds of hours of use by human hands have shaped the spokes of the wheel and worn them smooth. This is not some fragile antique, this is a tool that people have used and loved.

To me, this wheel is a living thing. It grows and changes, gets worn down and repaired. It may not breath or eat, but something in it feels alive. To see it sitting it sitting in my living room gives me a sense of warmth. But, when I take it out into the world, something even more magical happens. Other people see it and interact with it. It gives me such joy to see them with that wheel. Maybe some of these people would go their whole life without seeing a great wheel otherwise and it feels good to share it with them.

The good people of Knotty by Nature will be caring for my walking wheel for a few months. When we dropped it off I gave Stephanie a quick lesson on how to use it (it's in semi-working condition but still needs a bit of adjusting). She gave me a post card with a picture of a great wheel on it. I can put it where my wheel usually lives then when the time comes we can exchange it back again.

The shop has all sorts of stock in it now, even if there is a while yet before they open. I love to see that so much of their merchandise is from local sources. I think it is great that they aim to support the local community and I hope that the community comes out to support them. Also, I hope that, once they are open, if you haven't seen a walking wheel in person before, you can stop by the shop and have a look. It will be there for a few months, but not forever.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Someone bought me socks

Okay, somebody didn't actually buy me socks. Rather, someone extra special bought me an amazing sock pattern: Lissajous Socks.

(I swiped the picture from the Twist Collective website. I hope they don't mind)

I am so excited about this pattern. I have loved it ever since I first saw it, but I couldn't justify buying the pattern when I have so many other projects on the go. But now, that dilemma is solved for me and all I have to do now is to find the perfect yarn. I'm thinking something a light slate gray or perhaps a soft blue. You know, I don't actually know what colour to knit it, but I will know it when I see it.

Don't worry, I won't be knitting these until I finish my socks for the sock exchange that was due a month and a half ago. I do think that this is exactly the pattern I need to get my knitting mojo back into full swing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Someone stole the fingers off my gloves armwarmers

Most of the people who have met me will know that I almost always wear these cute little armwarmers. I must of knit them ages ago, maybe four or five years now, but I wear them ten months out of the year and they are still going strong. Okay, maybe a little bit of wear and tear is starting to show, but I'll just have to make some more soon.

The pattern is called Someone Stole the Fingers off my Gloves (pdf link) and it has both knit and crochet instructions (though I like the knit best). If I am not mistaken the pattern was created by the Yarnpath. I think that this is the favourite thing I've ever knitted, but it was relatively simple. I feel kind of guilty that I don't love my more complicated knitting more. It's also the first time I tried knitting cables.

I used the yarn Peruvian Baby Silk by and the colours Raspberry and Oxblood knit together as if they were one yarn. It's the same yarn I am using as my weft for my scarves.

The weather is great today, lovely and sunny. I'll try to get some photos (the blog has been rather short on photos lately - I ran out of batteries) of these handwarmers to show you. I also got my new thumb brace yesterday. This will, in theory, make it so I can knit and spin again. I can't wait to take it for a spin. I'm so excited to be doing what I love again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

So glad

I'm so glad I went to Guild last night. Guild nights are one of my three most favourite nights of the month (along with my two spinning nights).

Guild nights are filled with wonderful energy. The people there are so different and yet, so much the same. We all share a passion for yarn, fibre and textiles. The room, a rather large room I might add, is just filled with people.

It's wonderful to arrive and be greeted by your friends. It's not like spinning night when you get to sit down with them for a few hours, it's more like a festival where you get a quick hug and a few words, then off you go to the next person. But it is great like this because it makes a person feel so welcomed. Then, after a few quick hugs, I wonder over to get my name tag and have a quick look at what the vendor brought to tempt us with. Then I dump my coat and bag on a chair (usually in the back with all the 'trouble makers' like myself) and take a moment to just listen to the music that conversation makes.

I don't know if I've talked about this before, but I love the sound that crowds make. The serious hushed murmur of a theater crowd between the time when they take their seats and when the curtain goes up. It starts out slow and nervous then gradually builds to a level of intensity similar to that of kids in a play ground, then hushes again to a trickling murmur as the performance begins. Guild night before the meeting starts has the cheerful sound like pop fizzing when you pour sugar into the glass. It has such a happy flavour that I feel if only I could stand there long enough listening, I would absorb enough energy to move the world.

There is also always the chance to meet someone new. There are so many people in this guild, and it seems like it is growing every meeting, that I always get the chance to meet new people. Last night I meet the kind of person I've been searching for who could help me understand my illness. I didn't even think to look at the guild, but there she was. I'm excited to see where this leads to.

Today, I'm completely done in; even more so than I was yesterday. I wasn't up to that much exertion but it was worth it. I had so much fun. Today I have an appointment in the morning, then I think a nap, then I'll read those wonderful links that Josiane kindly sent my way and learn how to finish off my first woven scarf.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

quick weaving question

Do I need to do a hem stitch at the start and end of my weaving if I am making a fringe? If so, how do I do it? If not, how do I make a fringe?

I'm feeling a little better so I thought I would play with my loom.

What a day

I don't have anything happy to blog about today, here's why. I'm going to have a nice, lazy day so that I'll have enough energy to go to Guild tonight.

I'm actually apprehensive about going to guild, I still haven't finished those socks yet. I'm just approaching the heal of the first sock. I think my life is like a really bad farce these days. Now that my wrist is finally healed enough to knit, my thumb has some serious arthritis going on. I get a new splint tomorrow which, in theory, will allow me to knit again. Then, I can finish the socks, buy some chocolate and present them both to the patient recipient next month.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Well, that was anticlimactic, as expected. Very little changed in the Canadian government. I'm just fine with that. Voter apathy was at an all time high; but, didn't I predict that? I would love to see the voter turn out per Provence. Judging from how empty our polling station was, I don't think BC will come out as most enthusiastic. But I'm being cynical.

Three cheers. It will be four years before we have to go through a federal election again. Or, perhaps three, or more likely two years. Heck, it could even be three months. But that's Canada for you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Election Day Canada

Well, it's that time again. It's time to VOTE!

I know it's not very popular to say anything bad about democracy these days; but you know what, it's not a very good system. I still want for you to vote and if you read to the very end of this post, you'll find out why.

You should know that in fact, I'm not a huge fan of any political systems we have going on in the world these days; from far right to far left, they all leave something to be desired.

This isn't a new problem. Remember Athens? Circa 2500 years ago, it was a haven for philosophical discussion (well, they did kill Socrates, but I suspect it was suicide by execution) and democratic governance. Plato never really got over the death of his mentor and I think this is what lead him to be a harsh critic of democracy. Plato suggested that the people in charge were looking out for their own interests rather than the good of the state. When they did try to do the right thing, they spent so much time bickering with each other as to how to do it, things became completely inefficient. Or so Plato thought. He was a big fan of the benevolent dictator.

However, Plato's student, Aristotle didn't think that Plato was on the right track. Sure, Aristotle thought that democracy was messed up, but for additional reasons. The problem was more that special interest groups held the power of governance and the majority of the people were handed a few bones but were otherwise neglected. Wait, that sounds damningly familiar. Democracy might work, Aristotle intimates (but you have to read between the lines), if the people weren't in it for themselves. If they looked out for the people they were suppose to represent. But that never happens, humans are seldom as benevolent as we might hope. For that very same reason, a benevolent dictator that Plato suggested was out of the question. Even if by some miracle we could find someone wise enough and selfless enough to rule, they would eventually die off and with them any chance of finding someone else fit enough to rule.

No, Aristotle didn't like most forms of governance. But, there was one form of governance that he thought might just work: polity. This is like democracy in so many ways, but sort of a step up.

Polity is about everyone, every citizen, having a say in all issues. In Polity, you don't just elect some bloke to go off and govern you from some far off city, hoping that they will maybe live up to their promise of representing you. No. In a Polity, you get to vote when it comes time to increase or reduce taxes. You get to vote when NATO asks you to send troops to Afghanistan. Then again, in a true Polity, as I understand it, you also get to vote when it comes time to increase expenditure on toilet paper in the national park system.

I suppose you could mix Polity and democracy. Elect a small body of representatives to work on basic every day governance, but allow the citizens to vote for ALL serious issues.

I don't know if Aristotle is right. I can see some huge flaws in his system. The same flaws that many people have pointed out in what they call 'true democracy'. You have people involved in making important decisions who are uninformed and perhaps over influenced by propaganda. This doesn't necessarily lead to a good end. When faced with this problem, Plato's idea starts looking all that more shiny.

You know what, every form of governance looks beautiful on paper. The ideal of democracy is as joyously wonderful as the ideal of dictatorship or socialism. As Plato would tell you, the actual is an imperfect reflection of the ideal. Aristotle would add, all we have is the actual, you've gotta make the best of it. Of course, they would say it in Greek; I'm just paraphrasing.

So, let's make the best of what we have and stop dreaming of the unobtainable ideal form of governance. Let's take this democracy - sham or not, I don't know - and head on out and participate. I don't care who you vote for. Just vote. Take your ID, something with your address on it or that silly little election card they sent you, and go spend an hour standing in line. Take some knitting.

Heck, you can even write "YOU ALL SUCK" on your ballet. I'm tempted to. Just so long as you participate. Because, if you don't participate, you don't get the right to complain about it when everything goes to pot.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Giving thanks

Because I'm still feeling pretty rotten today, because it's Canadian Thanks Giving holiday and because it never hurts to remind myself what I am grateful for in the world; I'm saying thank you.

  • Thank you for those who stop by and read my blog.
  • An extra special thank you to those of you who take the time to comment every now and again (especially Josiane, you always make me smile).
  • Thank you to the weather for not raining while I was out today, instead you waited until I was home and snuggled under the covers having a nap.
  • Thank you to my friends and family who have given me the most amazing support over the last year and a bit as I struggle with my health. I couldn't do it without you.
  • Thank you to warm baths by candle light for warming me up.
  • Thank you to my dad for being amazing.
  • Thank you to my begonia for making my room look a little lovelier.
  • Thank you to yarn for always giving me a hug when I need it most.
  • Thank you to hope and all the comfort it brings.

Happy Thanks Giving everyone.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Things that make me smile today:

  • Sunshine on a fall day
  • knowing where the secret grove of sweet chestnuts grow in this town and gathering them in the early morning with my dad.
  • Fruit
  • falling leaves
  • coffee to wake me up in the morning
  • settling in to watch a good tv show with some lovely lovely yarn.
  • being able to knit again after I don't know how many months of having a bum wrist, even if it is just for 15 minutes a day.
  • weaving
  • friends
  • breakfast

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm Weaving

My mentor O-B-1 (can you guess who she is? She's been on the blog before, only now she has her very own pseudonym) came over the other day and gave me some pointers for dressing my loom. It was fantastic! She spent about three minutes showing me how to do things better, and presto, I was dressing my loom with lightening (well, almost) speed. What took me three hours to do earlier, only took forty minutes once I knew how. I bet it will take half that next time around.

Once my loom was dressed and ready to go, I got out my trusty shuttle and started weaving.

Now, I don't expect to be very good at first, and you know what, I'm not. But at this stage, it doesn't matter. I'm making cloth! But as you see, the first pattern repeat turned out, hmm, poorly.

A little bit further along, I'm doing a bit better.

And eventually, I get the hang of things.

There are a few things that I want to improve. First off, my edges really suck. This is a practice scarf and I will wear it with pride; but I hope one day, to improve my skills at making the edges even. Secondly, something is uneven in the way I beat the fabric. A casual glance at my fabric will tell you each time I've gotten up from the loom. Each time I come back to it, after drinking more coffee or perhaps moving the fabric along a bit, I seem to have a different tension or something. I'm hoping that this will improve with time and practice.

Still, it is pretty awesome, don't you think?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Knotty by Nature is moving in

This week, I stopped in to see my friends Stephanie and Ryan, the creators of Knotty by Nature.

They had just received the keys to the the new location for their shop and Stephanie was polishing the wooden floors when I arrived. She took a well deserved break to show me around the place. It's the perfect shop in this great old building with brick walls, high ceilings and wonderful natural lighting. The main floor felt so welcoming already, like the walls were filled with happiness at the thought of yarn and fibre coming to live inside the shop. Downstairs, there is ample room for classes and other activities.

There is still a lot to do before they open, but you can see it in their eyes that this is a labour of love. With great care they set up the displays so that when the stock arrives, it can hop right into its new home. I can't wait to see what treats they have in store for us fibre lovers.

(what a great action shot of Ryan delivering display units)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

To my Vegan friends

Dear Vegan Friends,

I've been totally remiss in my duty to you; I apologize.

Vegan A Go-Go! is already on the shelves. I discovered this while poking around the local grocery shop. Something caught my eye as I passed the cook books, it was this tiny little book nestled in among all the giant Vegan cookbooks [edit: as I look at my photos, I discover that it was in the Healthy Eating section, they didn't have a separate section for Vegetarian or Vegan cook books in that shop].

On closer inspection it was, you guessed it, three copies of Vegan A Go-Go! by Sarah Kramer.

Don't they look so adorable there? They are like little puppies in a pet shop window, with big adorable eyes just begging you to take them home and love them.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

weather pixie

Well, I have finally got my weather pixie back, sort of.

It should look like a girl who's wardrobe changes according to current weather conditions in Victoria. When it works, it's great for knowing what to wear. But, so far, it just looks like a flag. Hmmm... I'll deal with this later.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Liberals phoned me after my bedtime. How rude is that?

Now that I'm awake, let me tell you about one of the biggest 'joys' of any federal election in Canada.

The campaign offices hire loyal followers to phone people in their home at the most odd and inopportune hours to ask them who they are going to vote for. We have very few independent polls in this country and those are often sponsored by one party or other (indirectly). Actually, as anyone who has taken a basic stats class in collage knows, it's all in how you ask the question and which math you choose to use when calculating the answer.

I'm all snuggled in my extra-warm PJs and under the covers when the phone rings. Being in the half-dazed pre-sleep state, I answer. It's the Liberal Party! Am I going to vote for them? um... all signs point to no.

Instead of telling them to Sod off, I'm sleeping; I decided that now was the best time to ask my questions. I have lots of questions. I very politely told the rather enthusiastic young woman that I could be persuaded and that I had some questions, would she answer them? She's not allowed. Well, that's understandable, is there anyone else there who will answer some questions for me. No, they are all home with their families. Sleeping, I suspect.

Tell me, please, if you want me to vote for you, why are you phoning me at all hours? At least the NDP only called me while I was cooking dinner. Non of the other parties have called yet. Yeah, sure, 8pm bedtime is rather unusual for an adult these days, but I'm an unusual girl. It's not like they are phoning from a time zone that would make a good excuse. We are the furthest away from GMT out west, there are no later time zones than here. [edit: at least not in Canada. The girl did have an Indian (as in from India) accent... but I doubt the Liberals would screw up so badly as to outsource their phone surveys]

The rules of etiquette are quite clear on the matter of when you are allowed to phone people:

  • If you don't know the person or only know them slightly one phones between the hours of 10am and 8pm, noon to 7pm on weekends.
  • If you know the person moderately well, you can extend the parameters by a couple of hours either side, within reason and your knowledge of the individual's habits.
  • If you are great friends - when to phone is developed though a mutual respect and understanding (or lack there of) of each other.

There. Modern phone calling etiquette in a nutshell.

Anyway, I got the phone number for the local campaign office which will be open at a more reasonable hour. If I get a few moments tomorrow, I'm going to be doing my own little survey. Te he. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dream of healing yarn

In my dream last night, I was in Japan with Y, Y's friend C and C's infant daughter, H. We were walking up a long mountain. The sun was hot and penetrating but a dry and icy wind blew against our faces from the top of the mountain. It was a long walk up the mountain, everyone around me spoke Japanese; a language that I understand very little but I knew enough to know that the tone was one of quite desperation at the state of affairs in the world. Instead of beautiful houses and gardens that filled Japan last time I was there, the road was lined with run down mobile homes and houses made of large shipping containers that people had placed on the parched earth. The people I saw were dressed in drab cloth that was frayed around the edges and only C, Y, H and myself were wearing anything close to 'modern' clothing.

The further we walked, the more thirsty and foot sore I became. My friends seemed to be use to this journey and were resigned to it's riggers, but I felt that I couldn't complete it.

Just as I was about to lye down on the side of the road and accept my fate, I saw a yarn shop ahead and off to the left. The title was in Kanji (a Japanese font), but somehow my mind knew that it meant 'House of Yarn and Healing'. Despite my friends' objections to the time and the amount of distance left to walk, I left them and headed towards the shop.

The moment I stepped over the threshold, the world was no longer drenched in sepia. Rather, there was so much colour I almost couldn't stand it. There was yarn of every natural fibre and a smell that I can only described as what the feeling a welcoming hug gives you, would smell like. Two beautiful people welcomed me in English. They glowed like angles. I crossed the polished wooden floor and pet some red yarn; a mixture of the colours oxblood and heaven. Then I saw this sweater hanging behind the counter.

The owners brought down the sweater for me to admire. The general construction of the sweater was simple and elegant, but it was the pattern on the the front and back panels that captivated me. A simple worsted yarn made the background, but knitted in a textured yarn that was slightly thicker was a purely amazing pattern of circles and semicircles that seemed to dance among each other like old friends when the fabric moved. When I touched it, the fabric seemed to sing through my fingertips. The yarn itself was soft to the touch but stronger than any yarn I had known before.

The yarn and the pattern to make this sweater came in a lovely cloth bag that smelt of jasmine. But when I went to pay for it, I realized that I had forgotten to get any Japanese Yen from the currency exchange. I tried to pay for it with my credit card, but I remembered that the bank had taken it away from me. I promised to come back and pay for it if they would only put it to one side for me.

One of the owners went to a wall at the side of the shop where a collection of tall candles lived. You know, the type of candles you put on the dining room table at a special occasion. Each one of these candles was a different colour and the wax was infused with herbs and spices. They were labeled according to their function: the while ones for energy, the sky blue ones healed ulcers, a dark purple one for healing cancer and so on. The owner of the yarn shop chose a deep yellow one, almost golden, but I didn't see what this one did.

That's the end of the dream.
It felt very prophetic, but I don't know what it means.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm House

Which House Md Character are you?
Your Result: Gregory House

Congratulations, you're the snarky bastard Dr. Gregory House. You're a genius doctor and you enjoy annoying your boss. There's a rumor that you and your best friend are gay though...

James Wilson
Eric Foreman
Lisa Cuddy
Robert Chase
Allison Cameron
Which House Md Character are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I suspected as much, I have been feeling rather cynical lately.

Canadian politics are so entertaining but this election takes the cake.

So, ranting about politics on one's blog does have an upside after all.

I broke into joyful laughter when I read The Federal Loom Buying Powers.

I love the photo. It's about what I would look like in a year or two without Lyme treatment. It's quite apt, even if I'm not yet thirty.

Quick, everyone hop over there and leave a comment as to how cool that cat is for bringing these issues to every one's attention.

I doubt the government is willing to pay for the medical research I desire or the postage involved in sending everyone more yarn; however, we can start small and work up to the bigger issues: We can start a campaign to get the government to remove all tax on yarn and yarn related products (like spinning wheels).

Loom's wardrobe

I started warping the loom yesterday, ops, I meant to say, dressing the loom. I feel that I should make the effort to learn the vocabulary.

We already gave my loom two aprons (one for the front and one for the back) but it was still feeling kind of naked. Especially now that winter is settling in. Now that the rains are here, I'll be spending less time at the garden and more time at home with my loom.

So, I used my reed as a rattle. It sounds like a foreign language to me still, but basically, I thread the warp through the reed, attached it to the back apron and wrapped it around the back wrap-warp-around-bar (don't remember what that's called). That last part is a two person job. One person holds the warp taught at the far side of the house while the other person carefully wraps the warp on.

Next, you disentangle the warp from the rattle/reed (fabric scissors work well) and begin threading it through the headless.

I expected that this part would be the most interesting and enjoyable part of dressing a loom. It's not like I have an exceptional number of warp threads to do and I'm only using four shafts (place where the heddles live - hopefully I got that word right, but it might be sheds). I put an old milk crate inside the loom, gathered together my hooks and note book, and started threading the heddles.

This is actually really difficult. The heddles are made of string, so untangling them took some effort, but the thing that gets me is my depth perception is really wonky when it comes to this sort of thing. I'll show you what I mean:

It's at just the right distance so that I can't focus my eyes with or without my glasses. It's like trying to navigate one of those gestalt optical illusions with one eye tied behind my back. I'm navigating more by feel rather than sight at this point.

Please don't think that I'm not enjoying myself. I am really enjoying developing this new skill and I have all sorts of ideas of how to do things better next time around. I just find it really interesting to see what parts I have trouble with and why.

After I thread it through the heddles, I thread the warp through the read (again) and with any luck, tie it on to the front apron and start weaving. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Canada, leadership debate, and the thoughts of an 'average Canadian'

Apparently, I can't help myself. Just one more post about this election, promise (fingers crossed behind my back).

The last two nights, I watched the Leadership Debates for the upcoming Canadian election. It was a great deal of fun. No, really. It was. There is nothing like a good old fashioned farce to keep me entertained. There was a great deal of laughing on my part, a few incredulous comments loudly addressed at the television, and a slight headache at the end of it all. This is my favourite part of any Canadian election and I wouldn't miss it for anything short of a nice ball of yarn.

I have some thoughts and some questions. I'm not interested in addressing specific party policy or discussing an individuals performance (except to say that allowing the Green party into the debate added a fun element to this election's debates). I just want to note a few generalities that really interested me.

To start with, I'm really glad I watched both language debates. The French debate was great. Something of the candidates' personalities are lost when their speech is translated into English. It's much easier to focus on the specific words and not get caught up in any potential charisma when you don't speak the language they are bickering (ops, arguing) in. It really helped me get a better picture of what this election's platform is for each party. The English language debate was more entertainment. It's much easier to enjoy those moments when everyone just talks at once without regard for the other person. Very disrespectful and damaging to that individual's image, but entertaining for the rest of us. I managed to get something very useful out of both debates, even if it was just a bemused smile.

On the topic of language, is the French debate usually first? I think it was last election. It really annoyed me that during the English debate, the candidates kept referring back to the French one. Mike Duffy (like a sports commentator for Canadian politics) said that only one million English speaking people watched the first one. Also the French debate didn't make the papers or local news stations out here, so if I hadn't watched it, I wouldn't have known anything about that debate. Good thing for the politicians, this behaviour only lasted the first 20 minutes of the debate. Also, in some ways, I think that the French debate helped them prepare for the English debate; the questions presented by the public in both debates were almost identical (which may tell us more about what the media wants to know than what the people want to know, as they said that the questions were carefully screened by the main news stations). To give francophones the advantage of having a more polished debate, shouldn't they switch it up a bit? One election French first, next election English first, and so on. Just a thought.

While I'm thinking about French, there was one question in the French language debate that I thought was fantastic: Say something nice about the person sitting to your left. What a great question. It completely caught them off guard. Now, I'm not going to name names here, but in general terms, their reactions fell into three categories. First, some candidates said only nice things about the other person. They said things that they admired in the individuals personality and specific party policy that they liked. This or these people avoided saying anything nasty or self centered. Good for him/her/or them. Second, this category of people or person talked about 'we did' and 'we share'. That is to say that they focused on policy that the person on their left and they shared together and that they liked. They also made a few digs about what they didn't agree on, but stuck mostly to the policy. The third category, and this I think is deplorable by the way, said almost nothing nice. He/she/ or them might say something like, 'yah, alright, they have trait X from their personal life that I like, but they really suck otherwise.' I'm exaggerating, slightly. This category just seemed to dive into attacks on the individuals character and policy, then switched the conversation over to what they personally would do right if their party was elected. That doesn't sound like they are saying something particularly nice about the other candidate; not to mention, they weren't suppose to be talking about themselves at all.

This question influenced me more than any other about who I will vote for this time and for the entirety that that or those individuals are leaders of their party/parties. It's a shame it never made it into the local papers.

In the English debate, a phrase came up far too often for my liking: "What Canadians want is..." If I'm not mistaken, EVERYONE, excepting the moderator, used this phrase. There are a few things wrong with this. First, the entity labeled 'Canadians' is not a single minded creature. It is in fact, not a creature at all. It is a group of individual people who each have separate values and wants, not always the same as the next individual Canadian. If we all had the same wants, we wouldn't need an election. Heck, if we were all of the same mind, we wouldn't need a government, we would just do what was right and save tones of money doing so. Canadians are a category not a specific substance (think Philosophy, think Aristotle who attempted to make clear this distinction in the most confusing way possible, a work known as The Categories). That brings me to the second point. I was born in Canada, I have Canadian citizenship, I even have a Canadian passport. I think I fall under the Category of Canadian. Not once did anyone mention my wants. I want more yarn. Honestly, I haven't bought yarn in months. I also want a new spinning wheel (my spinning wheel savings has gone to pay for my health troubles). I also want more research into Lyme disease. They didn't mention that either. These are my two biggest wants, and non of the candidates mentioned this.

It makes me wonder, when you say 'what Canadians want is...' are you describing what some members of the category 'Canadians' would like (remember, we are using Aristotle here. When talking about categories, you have the choice of some, all or none, some meaning one or more members of the set) or are you telling me what, as a member of the set 'Canadians,' what I should want? Maybe I shouldn't be wanting to know this, no one mentioned it during the debate.

Okay, take a breath. I still have two topics I wanted to talk about. Need some more coffee? Tea? Actually, I wonder if anyone is still here. I'm sure you all have your own political opinions, why would you want to waste your time reading mine? But then again, I like wasting my time writing my opinions, so perhaps someone might read them.

Next up is consistency. When it comes to philosophy, in my opinion, consistency is the first thing to evaluate in an argument. You look at it from two points of view: Are they consistent within the context of this discussion or argument (in this case the debate), and is what they say here consistent on the larger scale? Is it consistent with their previous works, stance, actions, &c.? In my humble opinion, only one party leader remained consistent in the context of these debates. I kind of wish that had been the Green leader, but she was a close second, which is really difficult when the stakes are so high, so good on her. The other fellows, well, sorry guys, you suck at this!

Consistency on the larger scale, some did better than others, but non of them really shone. In some ways this is a good thing. I'm fine with people changing their mind when they realize they were wrong. In other ways, with some individuals, coupled with their history, this sort of wavering makes them far less trustworthy. It's up to you to decide who you think did what.

And my last topic, a question about carbon trading. Several members of the debate mentioned this was the best thing we could do for the environment. I'm confused.

Now, I consider myself a fairly smart bird, and yet, this carbon trading has never made sense to me. It seems, and I could be wrong, that person or company X wants to pollute so they pay someone to plant a tree (over simplifying). X makes quantity Y of pollution in one week, but the tree takes hundreds of years to (what's the word here?) absorb(?) Y amount of pollution. So the pollution hangs around and does all sorts of damage until tree gets rid of it? I must have this wrong. I'll try again.

It's okay for a company to pollute so long as they pay someone not to cut down a tree elsewhere in the world. That doesn't work either because the tree has already done most of it's good work and cutting down the tree adds pollution. That tree is already there, maybe that person wasn't going to cut it down anyway. So this would be it's okay to pollute so long as you pay someone else not to? That can't be it either.

Basically, carbon trading seems to me to say, 'it's okay to pollute today so long as you do something now that reduces pollution in the future.' Is that what's going on?

Even if this carbon trading did work, and I'm not certain how it could, it's gotta be expensive to implement and even more costly to monitor (do the people monitoring this aspect of industry plant x number of trees every time they get in a plane to go to inspect a factory?). From the point of view of this little bird, it seems cheaper and more efficient to simply say, 'you wanna pollute, go for it, you can give the government (which goes into a specific fund for helping the environment only!) one dollar for every 500g of pollution. Voluntary tax, like speeding. Make that eco-fund a revenue neutral thing so that the government doesn't make any money off it - everything they take in in year 1, they have to spend on the environment in year 2, and so on. Less bureaucracy, less money wasted and more money going to help the earth.

But these are just my opinions. I tried to be fair to everyone involved. I'm not too worried about people disagreeing with me because only three people (one of them is me) will probably read the whole thing. It's kind of long.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


The rains arrived this morning. That means that winter is just around the corner.

The rain arrives in late September to early October, we have a few more days of sunshine here and there, then the world is wet until spring, perhaps with a slight snow in January. The weather here is like clock work. For example, it ALWAYS rains in Vancouver (to varying degrees) for the last two weeks of August, then once labour day is over and kids go back to school, we get summer back with a vengeance. You can set your watch by it, if you watch had seasons and weather instead of hours and minutes.

On the way to class today, even though it wasn't cold as such, the rain made me feel chilled. I realized that I need to wear a scarf. I have several, but non of them really speak to me today. Most of them are either too light or are made from synthetic material. I think I need a new one.

Good thing I have a loom and stash. I've measured off the warp for some scarves and now it's time to dress the loom. I didn't have the energy to do it in September, but I have a feeling that this month is going to be different.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Holy crap. How on earth did it get to be October already?

What the...?

(sorry for the language, I'm just really socked)