Monday, February 15, 2010

New beginnings etc

Tomorrow marks a big step in our family. Tomorrow is exciting to me. Tomorrow we have an appointment to register our first born at secondary school. I am torn between being thrilled and wanting to puke. Can I get a hollah from the other mommies out there?

Ben (AKA Thing 1) is in 6th grade. This is his final year of Pramary school. Its the end of an era for him and us parents. We decided that he should continue his education in his first language so we are switching from French education to English. Why? Well, whilst he is brilliant with math, language is NOT his forte so much and we though that given some of his issues, we would try to level his playing field. He reads English as well as or perhaps better than he reads in French, so he won't be held back due to poor reading skills but his spelling and grammar might suck pretty bad. Apparently thats ok though because so many of the students come from Francophone families so he won't be the worst. Without the struggle of doing everything in a second language, he may even begin to excel and maybe some of his issues will be less intense. Being a teen is hard enough without having the struggle of language. He has a solid French foundation now that will be an asset in life. We are satisfied.

However....he's just a little guy! He's young for his age and small for it too! Its so scary for me to look at sending him off into a world of bigger people!!!! I know I know...he'll be fine...everything will work out...but for me its still scary as shit. Luckily the woman I spoke to totally gets that. She's probably heard it from every parent and maybe experienced it herself. I still wanna throw up though.

Now for the part I am actually quite happy about. Thanks to my sucky French skills I haven't been able to volunteer or be involved in the boys school and very little help in the homework department. Now? I am so looking forward to becoming more involved!!! I can volunteer. I can take part in the Parents organization (I forget what its called here...not PTA but its the same idea). Once Cameron is going there too (we convinced him it would be great thanks to their Focused program in Visual Arts) it will be even better! Maybe I could start an extra curricular knitting club if there isn't already one, or volunteer with it if there IS one already? Hman was intrigued by the fact that there WAS a Golf club/team but due to lack of volunteer coach this year there isn't. If its just a case of being a volunteer and not a teacher, he may consider volunteering as well! Lets face it...I'm also pretty stoked about being able to read notices from school without having someone translate or needing a dictionary, to be able to more or less comprehend the Report Cards (even though they are pretty weird now and even Hman doesn't quite get what they much for OUR higher edumacations), the chance to be the involved parents we wanted to be and were more so back in NS...this is a happy thing. And a scary thing. A new beginning for the family in a way.

Ravelympics knitting: I suck. SO SLOW. Very little progress made on my St-Denis Arctic Mittens . The charts are fine...the yarn is wonderful...I'm just very slow when it comes to busy colour work with DPNS rather than a circular needle like on a sweater or hat. I am going to try switching to the Magic Loop method for small circumference knitting in the round and see if that clears my path a little and speeds my progress. I only have 12 more days! ( I think?)

NOTE: If you go to the St-Denis link and decide to print the charts, note that the thumb charts have not yet been released and that the thumb placement on the palms is hard to spot .

Next week Things 1 and 2 have their "spring" break! YAY! No alarm clocks! We will be spending 6 nights in salty Scotia and are very happy about it. We will get to see some family and hopefully some friends and maybe walk on a beach in the cold and bracing briney breeze. A change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered after the last couple of months we've put in.

A trip to FRENCHY'S is also in my future I foresee! I miss Frenchy's sooo much! I got my most favourite pair of jeans there (Old Navy low waisted boot cut with lycra) about 6 years ago and those babies are still being worn. Not bad for about $4!!! At the rate Thing 2 has been out growing things we like to stock up on some larger sized clothes for him to grow into. Maybe I'll find something for myself for a change too? Hard to say. My sizes are hard to come by there.

I'm dying to see friends we didn't get to hook up with last trip. This one will be much less a whirlwind since there isn't a business trip thrown into the mix. 4 more sleeps to Friday!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Have not polititians feelin' spendy
I had a good sanctimonious post about this but my computer ate it.
Aren't you glad?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Jim posted a question in the comments about thrummed mittens. He's a non-knitter (aka muggle) and does not know what a "thrum' is. To him I offer this 'splanation.

In knitting, a "thrum" is a bit of unspun wool roving that is knit with a stitch in a piece of knitting, usually mittens or slippers. The stitch with the thrum is repeated at a regular interval and causes a pleasing dotted appearance on the right side (outer side) of the knitting. The ends are inside the garment and create a warm insulative layer that is wonderfully soft and cozy. That layer is why the mittens or slippers (or any other thrummed garment) is over sized. Its a much needed bit of cozy up here in Canada, land of igloos and polar bears if you go north far enough. The technique is thought to have originated in Newfoundland but some theorise that it is a northern European invention that made its way to Nfld with settlers and traders etc. Whoever is responsible, us chilly willies say "THANK YOU!" for the cute and cozy Thrummed garment. Mmmmm thrummy goodness.

Thanks goes out to my family for sharing their plague cooties. What would I do without a lovely sinus cold to make me so snottilicious? Such generosity deserves reward...possibly a pillow over your sweet sleeping faces some night when I have regained strength. UGH...I am dosing with Cold F/X and Sinutab since the symptoms hinted at their existance this morning. I "heart" drugs. I am not the type to whine about a virus and yet do nothing to fight it. I WILL take vitamins and remedies and sleep as much as possible and as a result sometimes I am well again the very next day. Not a fan of needless suffering. Nope not a bit. Why yes I did have an epidural during child birth, thanks for asking, and if I coulda been, I'd have been unconscious. Miracle of birth my ass. Ok....maybe I would not have been comatose for that...hindsight is iffy on the subject.

Lookit! I made pictures! The pretty coloured one is my darling sister Jessie's scarf that seemed to go on forever and ever and ever. I don't like making scarves and have no idea what possessed me to make this one but its beautiful and soft and cozy and she deserves every delicious stitch of that 50/50 silk and wool blend. The colours will go with any sweater or coat and will look stunning against her olive skin.

The grey sock is my first of a pair of Nutkin socks. I love this pattern. Its easy and pretty and I only changed one thing...the heel. I did a regular ol' slip stitch heel flap and turned heel rather thna the pattern's short row heel. I just LIKE the regular ol' heel bestest. Aren't they awesome? Yarn is Cestari 100% wool sport/sock on 2.75 or 3 mm needles. I'm pretty sure they are 2.75s. I started these waaaaay back in November so its hard to remember.

That is all!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Thrummed Mittens

(my Dad's thrummed mittens are the blue and white spotted ones...Xmas gift 2008)
Thrummed mittens are some of the warmest hand gear out there. They are oversized due to the wool roving inside and some people don't like how they look as a result. If you have problems with cold hands, these could be a solution.
They are kind of fun to knit, especially in public. Folk freak out when they see them! (This can be a little scary too if they are blah blahing loudly in a language you don't always understand and come up fast and loud from behind you, startling you in a coffee shop.....just so's you know)
People think its hard to make thrummed mittens but it really is NOT. They are dead easy to knit for any knitter. Its just a matter of learning a wee technique and making a lot of thrums before starting so that they are ready. However, they can be a bit tedious because they do go slower than just knitting up plain mittens. The finished product is worth it, though.

Alison's Thrummed Mitten Pattern
(written for woman's medium)

You will need a 100 gram (4 oz) skein of worsted weight yarn, 50 to 60 grams (2 plus oz)of wool roving, and appropriately sized DPNs(or circulars for magic loopers). I used Briggs and Little Heritage yarn and 4 mm dpn needles.

Cast on 36, 1x1 rib for 18 rows, increase to 45, knit two more rows to the first thrummed row.

I go every 3 stitches, ie: thrum, 2, 3, thrum , 2, 3.. for a row. The next thrummed row is done like this: 1, thrum, 3..1, thrum, 3.. so that the thrums are offset. There are 3 knit rows between my thrum rows (thrum row, knit the thrums through the back loop row, knit row, knit row.. and repeat).
Continue to thumb placement (use EZ's thumb trick). Place the thumb in row 3 of your thrumming sequence and it will not disrupt your patterning. Continue for the rest of the hand. I used 11 stitches with the waste yarn.

When you are a scant inch or a pinch less from the finished length you need and are just before your last planned thrummed row: In the row before the thrummed row (row 4 of the thrumming sequence) decrease by K1, K2tog. Thrum the next row as scheduled and all the thrums will fit in pattern perfectly . Knit next row tbl as usual. The next TWO rows are decreased by K2tog all around. This leaves you with 8 stitches to finish off by running the working yarn through them and cinching off. I was very pleased with the shape and the fact that my thrums stayed in pattern. If desired you could have placed 3 thrums in the second to last row for denser tip thrummings.

Take out thumb placement yarn and pick up the thumb stitches, plus one at each end to make 24 thumb stitches. Knit one row and commence thrumming sequence until almost to the right length. In row 3 of your final thrum sequence K2tog around, row 4(final row) K all, break yarn and finish.

This is for a women's medium width. To up size or down size, increase or decrease your stitch count by 3's.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Sorry if I have mispelled the title of todays post. I don't have a dictionary on hand and am too lazy/don't care enough to look it up online. For that I do apologise.

It was pointed out to me last night by someone very dear and darling to me, that I have been lax in the blooging department. For this also, I apologise.

Sometimes life doesn't send happy cheery blog fodder a person's way and I don't want to waste anyone's time in posting a downer. At the same time, though, a blog is a journal where I should be able to post whatever the fuck I want. What are your thoughts?

So, where to start? There is a bit of crap happening on this end that I am not at liberty to share with the internet-verse but I can say that its making life a bit of a pain in the ass these days. To put it mildly. I keep telling myself to relax, breathe, things could be worse and then guess what!? THEY GET WORSE!!!! There is a lot of deep breathing going on here, let me tell you. And teeth grinding. My jaws have been aching.

This week chez nous, we had the car break down again. I had escaped the house to take part in a knit night in NDG when it happened so I ended up having to go back home. Last time repairs cost almost 2000 dollars. That was just back in December. This weeks bill of repairs is less than half that, so I guess its a small blessing. Something to do with a misbehaving engine cylinder. We hope it will done today.

Today we had a lovely phone call from Thing Two's teacher. It would appear that he has been lying and sneaking about homework and things needing signatures. Also, doing very little in his classwork. Troubling and called for an immediate intervention so we walked to the school and hauled him out of class to A) find out where he'd hidden his back pack and B) confront him with the issue. It would seem he's been keeping a lot of feelings and worries and fears under wraps too and they all came spilling out once the dam of tears broke. Things are being dealt with but the added stress is not welcome.

My Dad's health continues to be of concern. Apparently something showed up in his blood tests that warrants an ultra sound on his internal organs. My mother was very vague on that part. She'd rather discuss the neighbors and other various and sundry topics in GREAT DETAIL AND LENGTH than something thats actually important. I'm trying to be patient until I know whats what but its very frustrating.

I think thats it for the crap that I CAN discuss.

KNitting: I finished the charcoal and pink thrummed mittens that I was making for my hairdresser Nancy. She's a great person and I appreciate her skils very much. I go months between cuts but when I need the bangs trimmed, she never charges me for it. Sometimes she even takes it upon herself to style my hair at those bang trimmings to give me a boost and we chat about our families, weight, blah blah blah. She'd admired Ben's thrummed mittens last year and I promised her a pair eventually. She loves them.
Work contuinues on my sister's scarf but the last few days have not been productive knittingwise. I have about 1/2 a skein left to go and I want it done next week so I gotta get crackin'. Still don't have a Ravelympics project but have options. Did I mention that I have taught Hman to knit? He picked it up really really fast! Its a great way to clear the mind of things that are stressing you out or worrying you, if you can force yourself to sit down and do it. I don't foresee him becoming an adept but he at least is giving it a try from a therapeutic point of view. :o)

Reading: I have gone back once again to George R.R. Martin's series A Song Of Ice And Fire. I re-read A Game Of Thrones again last week and am on to a book two A Clash Of Kings. This is a really good series of Fantasy fiction and is as yet unfinished. Book 5 is breathlessly awaited for a few years now. Thats the great thing about Martin's writings....they are NOT rushed and thus crappy installations to cash in on a theme. This tale is convoluted, loaded with major and minor characters and takes a lot of time to tell. Book 4 A Feast For Crows was disappointing in that it covered only half of the story at that point in time...the other half is coming in book 5...there is JUST SO MUCH! So while it seemed like the story did NOT progress, it kind of did. Its hard to be patient but this series was started several years ago (I first read it in the mid to late nineties and book four only came out in 2006 or 2007). If you like murder and mayhem, intrigue and mystery, betrayals and plot might enjoy A Song Of Ice And Fire.