May 2009


Last year was the first time I participated in Sock Wars, and I felt pretty lucky to have successfully taken out one victim.  I am the world’s slowest knitter, after all, and some people were completing a pair of socks in less than 48 hours!

It was fun, so I decided to try my luck again this year.  As of today, I have not been taken out yet, and I just mailed this to my current target:

sockwar4

The socks are hard to see inside that plastic bag, aren’t they?  I was in such a hurry to take the photo and get to the post office.  My target is in Texas, and Canada Post, bless their hearts, tells me it will be up to 9 days before the socks reach their destination. 

Last year, my victim actually sent me a skein of gorgeous yarn after she received her “death socks”, and I thought that was nice, so I’m sending a few extras along for my victim.  Maybe that will take the sting out of being eliminated.

I have had bad eyesight for most of my life.  When I started having trouble seeing the blackboard at school, at age 7, my parents’ solution was that I should move to the front of the classroom.  It took several months to convince them that my vision was compromised to the point that I needed to wear glasses.

The day I finally took possession of my new glasses could have been the last day of my life.  I was 8, and my mother had taken my brother and me to the mall to pick up my glasses.   What a revelation, seeing things clearly for the first time!  I didn’t want to take them off.

We had to take an escalator back down to the main floor of the mall.  My mom was busy with my brother, who was about 4 at the time.  They got on the escalator and proceeded down.  I was behind them, realizing for the first time that seeing more clearly was going to take getting used to.  I had no depth perception with the glasses on, and when I stepped forward, I missed the escalator stair and started to fall.

I was a long way up, and there was no one in front of me to break my fall.  If I had fallen, I would have been killed.

With amazing reflexes, a woman beside me grabbed my left arm, pulled me back and held me, it seemed, until we got to the bottom.  I was  panic-stricken and had started to cry, and never said a word to her.  I think she may have asked if I was okay, and I may have nodded, but I don’t really remember anything except being scared witless.  My mom and brother had no idea what happened until they reached the bottom and stopped to wait for me.

I don’t know whether anyone thanked that woman for what she did.  I hope so.  For many years, I couldn’t ride an escalator (up or down) without holding the handrail in a strangler’s grip, frightened out of my mind.  I would get off as quickly as possible and then, once I calmed down, I would remember my heroine and offer silent thanks to her again.

I haven’t thought about that day for a long time.  She was gray-haired when she saved me, and probably passed away years ago.  Today, on my birthday, I need to thank her one more time.  You saved my life.  Thank you.

Harlan Ellison is 75 years old today.  You may not know his name, but you have probably seen something on television or the movie screen that he had a hand in creating.  Google him and be amazed!

I was introduced to his work at a convenience store in Winnipeg, circa 1978.  I was about 14 years old, and a voracious reader.  I bought this book because I was in the mood for something new to read, and the spine was labelled “science fiction”:

clearpulpcover

This was the first time I understood the value of a handmade book cover.  Pulp fiction-style artwork aside, the short stories inside were appealing, and I went on to read as many of his books as I could get my hands on.  He also wrote a great deal of nonfiction, including critical essays about TV shows and movies.  His work had quite an influence on me.  I was raised in a dysfunctional environment, and the moral philosophy that was the undercurrent in Ellison’s writing gave me inspiration that was otherwise absent from my life.

Tomorrow is my 45th birthday, and I’ve been thinking about the people who have inspired me and made my life better than my 14-year-old self could have imagined.  Harlan Ellison is one of those people.  There are three others who deserve my thanks, and I’ll talk about them over the next couple of days.  I had thought of honouring them in the order that they came into my life, but Ellison gets to jump the queue because it’s his birthday…he was number two.  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the first person who saved my life (literally).

There will be some 2009 Rockin Sock Club spoilers in this post, so look away if you don’t want to read about the March socks.

I haven’t been blogging very regularly, but I’ve still been knitting.  There have been some inspiring sock pattern books published in the last few months, and I can see many more socks coming off my needles this summer.

First, I finally knit a pair with the Patons Stretch Socks yarn.

stretchsockdone

They are quite soft and comfortable, and go very well with jeans.  This picture was taken after two trips through the washer and dryer, and they’re in good shape with only a little pilling.  I have to be careful knitting with this yarn, though.  If you don’t keep an even tension, and stretch the yarn too much while knitting, you can end up with two socks of visibly different size.

I recently received a copy of Wendy Johnson’s Socks from the Toe Up, and I want to knit every single pattern.  Gorgeous socks, knit in yarns that make my credit card tremble in anticipation.  I had never knit a short row toe before, so I grabbed a skein of Araucania Ranco multy, and knit basic stockinette socks with short row toes and heels, using one of the basic patterns from Wendy’s book.

rancosock

I tossed away the ballband from this one, so I don’t know which colour of “multy” this one is.  The Araucania is not a very soft wool, but it is nice enough and has some nylon in it, so maybe it will wear better?  I love the short colour bursts in this yarn; it gives lots of different colours without a pronounced striping effect.

The March sock for the Rockin Sock Club was designed by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and stretched my sock skills to the limit.

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The pattern is called “Rogue Roses”, and that panel of purl stitches and rosebuds twists diagonally across the leg of the sock.  The cuff has a picot edge, something else I had never tried before, plus the socks are knit as mirror images of one another.  My aching head!  It was worth it.  I love these socks, which look alarmingly torqued on their own, but fit perfectly once slipped on the feet.  The yarn is Socks that Rock mediumweight, in the members-only “Gertrude Skein”.  I’d love to make a quilt in those colours. 

My fabric stash has been sorely neglected while I’ve been so caught up in sock knitting.  I will have some quilting photos to share soon, though.

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Ottawa quilters are very lucky.  There are two large guilds in town, and they each have a quilt show every two years.  Conveniently, they alternate years, and share the same venue, the RA Centre.  This weekend, the Ottawa Valley Quilters’ Guild is putting on their show.  Check out their web site for all the info.  It’s probably going to be a rainy weekend here, so the tulip-viewing won’t be so great.  Go look at some amazing quilts!