And on the seventh day

I have enjoyed many of Paulo Coelho’s books, starting with The Alchemist, his best known work.  I heard it first when I was at summer camp as a teen and it was read out loud to us each day at lunch.  I know that sounds cheesy but it was an amazing opportunity to take a mid-day break and stories read aloud are really special.

Paulo has written many other books over the years and most are variations on a theme but one theme (and set of books) I have been thinking about is his “On the Seventh Day” series where he drops the reader into the life of a character for just a week as the protagonist experiences transformative change. The idea being that everything can change in just one week.

While my week has not exactly been extreme, it has been a “helluva” week (for lack of a better term).  Last Saturday I was at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto and enjoying a wonderful day with my sister.  Sunday was equally quiet, but then Monday I found out I got a new apartment in Bracebridge, which lead to a week of signing a lease, notifying my current landlady, making arrangements for moving and all that.  At work I was in 5 days and working like mad because we had two big events this week, saw the new office space we are moving into in June, making plans for the other large events we have coming up in the next few weeks.  And the big bomb dropped Thursday, when I found out that a woman who I sang with in the choir had died of cancer that morning.

Well, that pushed a busy week into an overwhelming week, oh and cancer fucking sucks.

Nancy, who was in her 60, was a friend of mine.  We were in the same section of the choir (2nd Soprano/Lead in barbershop arrangement) and often butted heads about pitch and timing.  She was a incredible, wild, amazing woman who gave so much to her community and sang her heart out, despite only being on pitch some of the time.  She knew she wasn’t a gifted singer, but what she lacked in natural ability she made up for a thousand times in spirit, caring and general gusto.

Since finding out on Thursday I’ve been intermittently crying (which I am right now as I write this) and singing some of her favorite (and a few of her most hated) choir songs.  Her funeral is tomorrow and so I’m heading to Parry Sound this afternoon to spend a bit of time with my sister today.  I will be singing with the choir at the service.

It feels like a lifetime ago that I found out I got the amazing apartment.

Oh and knitting, I do that too, but with all the upheaval this week and spending time at the gym I haven’t made it very far into my knitting.  I’ve nearly finished another pair of socks (half a foot and two toes) but I started up a new shawl with some of the madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Astrid Grey I got at the Frolic.

Astrid Grey


I also rescued a few items from the frogging pond, and already had several other project on the go.  Oh and I need to make sure that I have Carla’s wedding shawl done before the leaves start changing color so I have time to make my shawl as well.

So, seven days.  A whole lot can happen in seven days.


Trying to fix those “Broken Windows”

Broken and Not Broken Windows

A few of my broken windows on display

During work this week I ran across this blog post by Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project about “Broken Windows”.  I’ll let her explain:

The “broken windows theory” of policing holds that when a community tolerates minor examples of disorder and petty crime, such as broken windows, graffiti, turnstile-jumping, or drinking in public, people are more likely to commit more serious crimes.

As a law-enforcement theory, it’s controversial, but whether or not it’s true on a city-wide level, I think it’s true on a personal level.

My “broken windows” are the particular signs of disorder that make me feel out of control and overwhelmed.  – Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Looking around my apartment, and my mind, I recognized a whole pile of “broken windows” staring me right in the face and I have a feeling like I’m a slob who can’t get her shit together.  Not at all a woman who is closer to 30 than 20 and wants to feel like a real grownup.

My broken windows seem to include:

  • Dirty dishes beside and in the sink
  • Random bits of garbage sitting on my desk and coffee table
  • The box for my new electric toothbrush under my desk
  • The blocking mats on my floor, the blocking pins in my window sill (both of which have been there since I unpinned a shawl on Feb 14th)
  • The amigurumi in need of repairs sitting on the floor where they got tossed when Carla visited 4 weeks ago.
  • My notoriously unmade bed
  • The laundry drying rack with a few items left on it from doing my laundry, also a month ago (I have done laundry since then, but that pile is also unsorted, unfolded and half on my floor)
  • And about a half dozen things I’m not quite as keen to make public

However, it is not hopeless.  Gretchen herself mentions how spending little seconds to prevent the window from getting broken, in my case, spending the 10 minutes to put away my clean laundry, or to wash out my two or three dishes and wipe down the counter, can make a big difference in your mental health.

I think this is the other half of what I was thinking about when I talked about letting go of my FIFO knitting mentality.  I think I need to let go to the idea of a system in my crafting life, letting go of “have to” and “must” when it comes to yarn and fluff, knitting and crochet, spinning and weaving, and apply some of that mental energy to dish doing and bed making.

Despite the fact that it will take me a half second to pick up the box of tissues that fell on the floor 2 weeks ago, I have managed to pretend it’s not there and kick it around my living room several times. And when there is a box of tissues on the floor, why does it matter if I just leave that mug there on the coffee table, oh and that tupperware bowl that used to have leftovers in it, it can just stay at my desk for a week.

While I’m feeling this surge of ” have to ” and “must” I’m going to spend the better part of the weekend putting away my clutter and getting my apartment set up in such a way that I have a much tougher time “breaking the windows”.  However, this is an on going process.  I’m putting this here as a way of being accountable to myself, by telling you about the work I need to do I feel more obligated to myself to actually do the work.

So what are the “broken windows” in your life?  Do you have any in need of fixing?  What tricks do you use on yourself to stay on top of your clutter?

Hello Bracebridge

Downtown Bracebridge on a spectacular September day

Sorry for the radio silence, I have been busy moving from my adopted hometown of Parry Sound, Ontario to Bracebridge, Ontario about 50mi (80km) southeast of Parry Sound in Muskoka.

Muskoka is famous for its lakes, it IS cottage country for many in the more urban and while there are many beautiful parts of Ontario where people have cottages (including Parry Sound/Georgian Bay, Haliburton, and the Kawarthas which are all located within spitting distance of Muskoka), Muskoka is the grande dame of cottage country, with three large lakes playing host to cottagers since the late 19th century.

Yeah, Muskoka is pretty spectacular

While many people choose to move to Muskoka in their retirement for its beauty (and to live the cottage lifestyle all year round), I moved for my job.  It is only a contract, but there are lots more options for me to work as a Stewardship/Conservation Educator or a Community Planner as there is a much larger population and more employers in my field.  Also, after living with my parents on and off since graduating from grad school in May 2010 it was time to move out again.

I moved just over a week ago and I’m finally settling in. I found a great apartment, out of town right on the Muskoka River with hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings, and thanks to my mom and sister it is starting to feel like home.

While things are going well here, but I’m pretty homesick for Parry Sound and Georgian Bay.

The Big Sound, how could I not be homesick for this!

One of the constants in my life has been moving.

Growing up, my Dad’s job moved us a few times, and since graduating from high school I have been moving every 2-3 years. When I moved to Parry Sound, it was just supposed to be for the summer, I was supposed to get a summer job and find something permanent in the fall.  Then summer turned to fall, fall into winter and my contract at the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve was up and I still hadn’t found anything else, a few months of unemployment and I came across another contract, for a year this time.  I couldn’t believe I had found work again in Parry Sound, it is a town of 6,500.

Without realizing it, Parry Sound had become as much a hometown as I have ever had.  Weekly dinners with my grandparents, going to the gym with my sister, making some really good friends (hi Laura), falling for my sister’s puppy, were all things I wasn’t expecting when I moved “home” to a backwater town in Northern Ontario from Austin, Texas.

Little Toshie has wormed her way into my heart, and I’m really not a dog person.

For the first time in my life, moving away doesn’t force me to abandon my old life.  Parry Sound is a 1 hour drive from Bracebridge, I did it every day this summer.  I already have my first trip back planned for September 29th for a community event (Doors Open Parry Sound) and a party at my sister’s place and to try out the new taco place that just opened the weekend I moved.

I am still knitting, and after a week of unpacking I spent last Saturday lazing around and finishing off a shawl/stole/scarf thing in Tosh DK and maybe this week I will tell you about my yarn show as an indigodragonfly Minion and how I got to meet the Yarn Harlot and finally posting about my other pair of Ravellenic Socks!

Good News, Everyone!

No, Dr. Farnsworth is not sending you off on a suicidal package delivery, I have lots of fun exciting news to share.

I’m one of the new Minions (Studio Assistants) of indigodragonfly and I’m moving into a new place, namely my own apartment.

These two things are connected to one another, mostly that by getting the apartment I need to get a job to supplement my hours, and also that I wouldn’t have been able to take the indigodragonfly job unless I got the new apartment.

My soon to be home

As I have mentioned, I started a new job in June.  I love my job, the thing I don’t love is the 2 hours I spend in the car each day (although due to only working 30hrs/week it is only 4 days each week) driving to and from work.  I wish I could take public transit but that isn’t an option here in “Northern Ontario” and my hour commute is 50 mi (80km) each way, so it is taking a big chunk out of my wallet in gas and wear & tear.

Now, I’m moving to Bracebridge where my job is and which is halfway between where I have been living, with my parents in Parry Sound, and Haliburton where Kim and Ron have their studio.  It is kind of the center of my current universe and seems like a good spot to be located even if my contract isn’t extended past its current length of 6 months.  My move-in date is the Sunday of K-W weekend (Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Guild Knitter’s Fair), so that should make for an exciting weekend.

Knowing that I would be moving, and paying rent for the first time in quite a while, I decided to buy a new computer.  Lappy 286, also known as a 2007 15″ MacBook Pro, has been a good computer, getting me through grad school and life in Parry Sound, but now it struggles to run Safari and iTunes at the same time (not like in the old days when it would only bog down if I were running InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Mail, and iTunes at the same time).  She has gone through two DVD drives, a battery, a couple of topcases (thank you AppleCare for all of those) and a new HD which I installed myself.  Her latch is half broken, she has some lines on her screen and if you rest your hand on the right side above the DVD drive it bounces and creaks from when I opened her up to install the new HD.

I do love the beast, she was my first Mac, but much like Strongbad I have to upgrade my computer and right now Lappy 486, aka a 2012 15″ non-Retina MacBook Pro, is sitting in a UPS warehouse in Kentucky enroute to me.  I’m so excited! With this computer I should be able to actually run iPhoto and manage my pictures and actually get them onto my blog with some regularity, which is good for everyone.

Between, my awesome apartment, Minion status and new computer, I must say, everything is coming up Millhouse!
P.S. If you can identify all my cartoon references in here you win the warm feeling of knowing you are as much a nerd as I am.

Frolic and Changes

TFA Gelatto Roving, Purple Label in Seabreeze, Blue Label OOAK, Orange Label in Frost, Indigodragonfly Ultra MCN Sock in Not a Suitable Date for a Mormon, and some Lorna’s Laces Solemate in Cermak.

So this Knit and Crochet Blog week, was kinda perfect for me, it was a great boundary between different big events for me. Friday was my last day at work, Saturday was Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto and this week I start trying to find a new job and basically consulting (for $0 an hour) on projects I was doing for work.

I had a great time at Frolic, I got to meet lots of online faces in person, like the Indigodragonfly crew (Kim, Ron, Rayna and Caryn … Hi! See, I’m not a talking teddy bear who gives plumbing advice) and actually seeing Tanis and Chris in person.

And now, I need to look for a job and fill my days with all the projects (fiber-y and not) and stay sane till the next contract or job comes along.

Adventures in my own backyard

I love the whimsy of the eggs in the tree.

On Easter Sunday I figured I needed to get out of the house (and away from my knitting/spinning/weaving which is fun but quite sedentary) and so I put on my shoes and went for a little adventure in my own town.  Armed with my iPhone for my This American Life fix, and my camera,  I headed out for a little walk, 2.5 hours and 10km later I had been on a little adventure in my own backyard.

It is amazing how I can live in such a small town (pop. 6,190, 5.16 sq. mi.) and still find new places to wander through and check out.

I found these old ruins (well not that old) in a spot that is devoid of current development, it is along a current snowmobile trail and is likely an old train line. I wonder what it used to be?

The first trail I went off on was a sled (snowmobile) trail that isn't open in the off-season but as I was on foot I wasn't doing any damage. These trails aren't managed in the summer so all the water crossings were "crowd-sourced".

The Georgian Bay (granite) rock is inescapable. This is some of the oldest rock on earth, thanks to the glaciers and the Pre-Cambrian Shield we have a globally unique landscape.

It was a grey day, but it was a great time.  It’s fun to see what secrets are hiding in your own community.

I guess I am a serial monogamist kind of knitter …

In the throes of “Knit All The Things” at the beginning of the month, I cast on a whole bunch of things. Since then I have methodically worked through them, one at a time, working on first the baby items (because they have a pretty distinct deadline, a baby shower at the end of the month) and now on my Red Label Cowl because it has been hanging over my head since January, and the recent turn in the weather suggests that we are moving from cowl season to pashmina season.

Unfortunately my March Socks have been left by the wayside, with the cuff and the first three rows of the first repeat done.  I desperately want to knit and wear these socks, they are downright awesome and I know from my Aquarium Socks, which I wear every single week, that the TFA Blue Label yarn is going to feel so nice on my feet.

My current purse socks are coming along, slowly.

I think I have to commit to having two projects on the go at a time, one pair of Vanilla Purse Socks made TAAT with KnitPicks Felici, self-striping yarn, and something more complex for home.  Right now have 35ish grams of Red Label so hopefully that will be done by the end of the weekend and I can really bite into the Staked socks and have them done for the end of the month to stay on track with making a pair of socks a month, because I have acquired some more sock yarn.

From Top Left - 1. Rocky Mountain Dyeworks Kicking Horse Sock (SW Merino and Bamboo) in Peridot, 2. TFA Blue Label in Truffle (Jan 2012 Club Colour), 3. SweetGeorgia Yarns BFL+Silk Top in Autumn Flame, 4. SGY Silk Crush Sock in China Doll, 5. SGY BFL Sock in Ginger, 6. SGY Superwash DK in Tourmaline, 7. SGY Tough Love Sock in Lettuce Wrap, 8. indigodragonfly Merino Nylon Sock in With God as My Witness I Thought Turkey's Could Fly (Golden Parachute Edition), 9. ID Merino Nylon Sock in There Were Cones, 10. ID MCN Sock in River Song, 11. TFA Purple Label in Purple Fog, 12. KnitPicks Stroll Fingering Bare (to make Faux Isle Fishie Socks), 13. KP Felici Stroll in Kingpin, 14. KP Felici Fingering in Minty and finally15. KP Felici Fingering in Fizz.

Carla went to the Indigodragonfly knitting retreat in early March and brought home some sock yarn I ordered and one I have been lusting after, two in Merino Nylon and one in MCN.  Also Tanis did a OOAK update to her etsy shop and I ended up with a skein of Purple Label (MCN Sock) in Purple Fog and then KnitPicks released their 2012 Felici colors.  After several months of minimal yarn acquisition I kinda gorged, and the Tanis Year in Colour Club is going to be arriving sometime towards the end of next week so I need to get knitting. Also I had that Sweet Georgia order back in February and that trip to Toronto in January where I couldn’t leave the Purple Purl and Lettuce Knit empty handed.  I seem to acquire stash in the Winter, I can’t resist yarn between January and April, but then once it gets to summer I am just fine.  Or I am like a squirrel stashing away yarn while I am still employed to get ready in case another permanent position, or more funding, doesn’t come up for a while.

Looking for some inspiration

I have been in a bit of a creativity slump the past little while, between the stress of work, the stress of my contract ending in May and it being winter I haven’t been feeling the urge to create.  I finally started spinning again over the weekend, after cleaning and polishing my wheel (she is unfinished so I have to moisturise her on semi-annual basis).  I am not loving the yarn I spun.  It is too hard and picky, it is wensleydale combed top so it not surprising, but because my main style of spinning is inchworm, I have yarn that if woven could probably stop a bullet, never mind abrasion resistant, this stuff would abrade me if worn.  I like rustic wools, wool that still feels a bit like the sheep it came off, but because I spun this stuff worsted instead of woolen it doesn’t have any loft, whoops.

This all said I am in a bit of a spinning rut, so when I finally remembered to order Spin Art from Amazon it was a no brainer.  I have Get Spun, another art yarn book from Interweave, but this one looked different and it has a DVD.  While, I was there I picked up the Knitters Life List which I had seen a book store before Christmas.  It seems to filled with inspiration and mountains to climb, with suggestions about techniques and yarns that every knitter should try.

In addition to my spinning slump I am totally stuck on my knitting projects, and I have been trying to use up some of  the yarn that has been weighing on my mind and I the balls of yarn are the left overs from my crocheted blankets that I am thinking I am going to turn into Chubby Chirps, an adorable, free pattern from Rebecca Danger (who has the amazing monster patterns).  However after a week I have yet to cast on, so I need to get kicked into gear as it will fill my need for a quick finishing pattern and also use up some stuffing I have lying around.

I am also looking for inspiration in my non-fiber life.  My contract is up the first week in May and I don’t have anything lined up for afterwards, I am applying for jobs but nothing yet.  I am going to re-read the Sand Country Almanac because it inspires me so much and informs so much of my feelings on environment.  Maybe that will inspire me to finish Understanding Ordinary Landscapes, a book I skim read (a common crime of mine) in school that deserves a closer read.

Hopefully the new books will help kick me into fiber inspiration that will in turn fuel my personal inspiration, because winter isn’t over yet and having the blues during the winter just sucks.