like a bat through an open window...

i grow more convinced with each passing day that there exists in the universe some force that is deeply committed to keeping me alive... but barely sane. i imagine a small group of shady characters talking frantically around a large table, when one figure suddenly exclaims:

gentlemen! you are missing the point here. based on our latest surveillance data, we know that she has had the two or three hours of sleep necessary to prevent a total system shutdown. what we have to decide right now is if we are willing to risk her sleeping through the night and waking up with even some fraction of sanity intact. that is the question under immediate review, as the clock is running out on available options.

at which point, my favorite animator—for he is certainly an agent of said organization—shifts in the bed, digging his elbow into the small of my back. the same small of my back that causes me great discomfort every now and then, a friendly reminder of my extreme luck in walking away from the accident that totaled my car all those years ago. that small of the back. there he was, his elbow planted in the small of my back, like a salt-covered finger stuck into an open wound. and, just like that, any prospect of a full night's sleep flew like a bat out an open window. which brings me to...

so, there i was, sitting on my favorite davenport, minding my own business, watching some random thing on the 'puter, and working on that cardi for his mom. suddenly, i hear a rustling noise from the other side of the room, and i spot some movement out of the corner of my eye. i turned my head in the direction of the other davenport (the one that is not my favorite), expecting to see one or more kitty engaged in some form of silliness, because that is what happens when you live with silly kitties. instead, i see a small dark thing crawling out from below the couch, and before i could register what was going on, it sprang skyward, and began flying back and forth between the (interconnected) living and dining rooms. what the...???

i literally tossed my knitting into the air, and ran out into the hallway screaming, "sweetie... BAAAAAT!!! sweetie... BAAAAAT!!!", as i headed in the general direction of the studio. it should be noted that i was simultaneously freaking out and laughing my rear off at this point. we had a bat encounter many years ago (which is still one of his favorite stories to tell), so there was a humorous element of déjà vu to this latest experience. however, all joking had to wait until our uninvited guest was gone.

he shoved me into the studio and slammed the door shut, before setting off to close the doors between the living-dining rooms and the rest of the apartment, then he waited for the bat to eventually fly out the balcony door... which would have been possible had he actually remembered to first open said door. so, after running through the living room like a crazed lunatic, ducking out of the way of the constantly circling bat, he finally got to the balcony door, slid it open, then returned to the relative safety of the hallway and sounded the all-clear. it should be noted the bat was not gone at this point, but it had been confined to one space. what followed was a tense five or so minutes during which we stood outside the glass doors to the dining room, watching as the bat flew in long graceful loops between the two rooms, and cheering him (or her) on every time (s)he got near the open door. it was the longest five minutes of my life, but the exit was eventually located, and we rushed in to close the door, lest (s)he decided to return. my nerves remain on edge and i still jump at every little noise, but he finally understands why i am always complaining about keeping the screen door closed at all times between dusk and dawn. small victories, i guess.

on the milder side of life, i am happy to announce that we have rejoined modern civilization. we are, once again, able to produce meals that do not come out of cans labeled Chef Boyardee™ or that do not require calculating the tip for a delivery guy. what was the very first thing i cooked with the new stove, you ask? a (very non-gluten-free) walnut cinnamon strudel-cake, i reply. i had a very small slice (okay, maybe two very small slices), and he wrapped most of it up in his idea of single-size portions and stuck them all in the freezer... because we also have a functioning one of those again.

this recipe was plucked from the cosmos using my own brand of randomization. i basically Googled "cinnamon walnut cake" and picked the third result on the list. i followed the recipe as written with two-and-a-half minor adjustments. 1) having no greek yogurt on hand, i opted for some milk with a healthy splash of vinegar added for thickening/curdling purposes. 2) i used about two-thirds the recommended amount of sugar for both the batter and the walnut mixture. and the half... i used brown cane sugar, as that is what we use for just about everything. it is a simple muffin-like batter with a layer of walnut-cinnamon-sugar strudel in the middle and another dusting along the top.

 regarding that project for his mom. i was about to cast on the Dory cardi (free pattern), when i came across Siri. it was love at first sight (plus, it is seamless, so no pieces to sew together in the end). despite the intricate network of small cables that form the leaf motif, it is a basic, top-down yoke sweater/cardigan. i cast on at the neckline (top of the photo), and i am currently working down across the shoulder/upper-chest portion of the garment (middle of the photo). the stitches for the ribbed collar will be added later. this is my progress after the end of the first chart.

i am using a stitch marker between each repeat of the chart. this is my favorite one, which i made several years ago. it used to be part of a set of like six or seven, but i think i can find two or maybe three of them at present.

the colorful object below the cardi is a Russell Stover™ tin.

it once housed chocolates, but now it houses knitted swatches.

and it has a fraternal twin, which is empty... for now.  this one is supposed to be used for random watercolor supplies, but it will likely end up housing even more swatches or other knitterly things.

my favorite animator bought them solely for the containers. i especially like that the design is embossed on the top, as you can easily see from the inside of the hinged lid. if only all tasty things came in such useful packages.


messages from the universe...

this past week has been a graphic novel of first-world problems on the domestic front. my favorite animator went to the local Home Depot to purchase our new fridge and stove (i was at home hyperventilating and swallowing antacids, as i tend to do whenever we have to spend more money than a typical trip to the grocery store). he arrived at the parking lot, only to find that they were turning people away because a broken water pipe had shorted out the electricity for the entire store. perhaps the universe was trying to send us a message.

i have been distracting myself with... you guessed it... wooly things. i finished the second sock from last week! note: i did not wash/block them because life is too short for such pointless things. i stacked them together, folded them in half, then passed them off to my favorite animator.

they are fraternal twins, as he made a point of discouraging my obsessive need for evenness. so we have fraternal cuffs...

fraternal heels...

even cute fraternal toes. this would drive me insane, but they are not going near my feet, so... not my problem.

the pattern is Susan B. Anderson's How I Make My Socks, and the yarn is Regia Cotton Horizont Color in the (uninspiringly-named) 6404 colorway. i used most of the hundred gram ball for the socks, but there was about seventeen grams of leftovers, which will likely come in handy for repairing heels and toes. and, yes, that is a kitty in the background.

Baby Bear has been spending so much time napping outdoors, that her grey fur has taken on a noticeable bronze highlight.

still, she is on her best behavior out there below the peppers. this is probably the first time i have photographed fibery things without constantly having to move her out of the way or to wrestle yarn from her mouth. i seriously love this crazy little cat.

i was on such a roll when the socks came off the needles, that i went on a frantic search for my next project. i will likely be casting on three or four new items in the coming week. it is next-level madness, and it just keeps getting worse. i was putting down my camera after taking photos of the socks (and cat), when there was a knock on the door. it was the UPS guy. he was delivering a box of yarn. in my defense, i used up eighty-three whole grams of fiber making those socks. clearly i needed to replace it with over a kilo of new stash! the box contained more than enough yarn for two cardis. the pale lilac(superwash wool) will become a Christmas gift for his mom, and the light-grey (alpaca/wool blend) may possibly become a cardi for self, hopefully before it starts to snow.

i seem to be on some sort of lilac and grey kick, because i pulled a gigantic bag from deep-stash earlier this week, and it contained this assortment of alpaca yarn. there were close to fifty balls in total, and i have already designated them for a long-term project, which i will discuss in more detail once i cast on.

then there was that nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that i really want to knit another pair of socks. it is seriously that addictive. i am awaiting the arrival of new (non-bendy) needles, and he has already picked out the sock design he wants next, so that too should be in the works in short order. i may have also purchases three new patterns in the past twenty-four hours. to merely suggest that i might be losing it would be something of an understatement. in my effort to distract myself from stressing over stupid stuff, i managed to skip right past casual enthusiasm and boarded the express elevator to next-level insanity. good times.

the single sanest part of the past week was a moment less than a minute long. i pulled back the curtains on the west-facing windows just in time to see the full moon suspended at eye level in the morning sky. i dove for my camera and managed to get the lens cap off in time to grab a few quick shots.

then, the sun rose the slightest bit higher in the sky, and the moon became a faint shadow against the suddenly too-bright morning, a reminder from the universe to find joy in even the smallest moments in life.


woes, foes, and HOs...

full disclosure: i just took a couple painkillers before sitting down to write this thing. the pain began amidst the sweltering heatwave conditions of the past few days and finally peaked last night when i found myself unable to focus on even the simplest task on account of the pressure inside my head. the heat finally broke in the small hours of the morning, and i drifted off to sleep just as the sun was threatening to rise, secure in the promise of cooler temperatures and maybe (just maybe) some much-needed rain. i was asleep for what felt like five minutes (although it was actually closer to five hours) when i was awoken by the combination of heavy machine noises and my favorite animator's less-than-happy voice telling me that the fridge had stopped working. this just mere days after the stove had finally decided to give up the ghost. and, just like that, the peak inside my head got a little bit higher. still, in the grand scheme of life, it is just another woeful inconvenience. a frustrating distraction. in effect... a headache.

if the enemy of my enemy is my friend, then the construction workers must be my new besties for life. they showed up, and my arch-nemesis disappeared, only to be replaced by this.


and he has company. this is my favorite of the new arrivals.

i was convinced that they were nesting in the old squirrel hole, as they were taking turns occupying that space...

... while the squirrel took up a watchful post in the equally-gigantic maple tree across the street.

however, come Friday, the workers took down the scaffolding from the end of the building nearer to us, and moved their setup further along the facade. in the blink of an eye, the pigeons disappeared and the squirrel went to work redecorating.

welcome home, old foe... welcome home.

while we are on the topic of foes, i find it necessary to admit that i was wrong, and to offer an apology to the Montreal police department—and, possibly, to my favorite animator—for wasting both their time that one day last summer. turns out that he was right after all. it was a raccoon who had climbed up the fire escape and ripped the screen on the kitchen window. how do i know, you ask? i caught him in the act of doing it again, i reply. i cannot decide if i am more annoyed at having to repair that screen again or having to admit to being wrong... but it is probably the second one.

on a note of awesomeness, i finished knitting a sock this week... as in ONE single sock... as in half of a pair. this is what my people refer to as a Half-finished Object. so, yes... i have a HO!!! i did not want to fall victim to second sock syndrome (yes, that is a thing), so i cast on the second one as soon as the first sock came off the needles. so, now i have a HO and a bit on the side...?

and speaking of needles... seriously! this is my first time using this set of Addi FlipStix™, and i am never ever EVER using them again after i finish this pair of socks. i like the colors and the finish on the needles, but they are far too bendy (as in... bends and stays that way) for my personal taste. every single one of the needles now bears a slight curve that just gets worse when i try to straighten it out. then there was the one needle that i found in the bottom of my project bag looking like this.

it is now twenty-four hours later, and it has rained all day and will continue through the night. with the rain came a refreshing blast of cold air, a reminder that summer is rapidly drawing to an end, and autumn will soon be here.


statutory break...

i was awoken one morning, some few weeks ago, by a noise that i was convinced at the time to be the start of the apocalypse. turns out it was a crew of construction workers operating heavy machinery just outside our building. it should be noted that i was wearing earplugs at the time, so this was one impressive racket. still recovering from the shock, i turned to the other side of the bed, expecting to be met by an equally astonished expression. he was snoring away happily, oblivious to any disturbance in the immediate vicinity. that was the moment i realized that the only thing more maddening than the sound of construction machinery is living with someone who is not bothered by the sound of construction machinery. between the jackhammer and the masonry saw, i could feel the pressure building inside my skull. starting off the morning with a headache is a sure sign that you are going to have a miserable day. i stumbled to the kitchen, hit the switch on the kettle, and just stood there, trapped in the sensory tidal wave. it was at this point that i made the mistake of looking out a window, which was when i realized that they were erecting scaffolding around the neighboring building (a scant driveway's distance from ours). they were settling in for the long haul.

fast-forward a couple (or so) weeks, and i wake up one day, remove my earplugs, and wait for... nothing. you could hear the proverbial pin drop. i actually pinched myself a few times to make sure i was awake, then walked from window to window looking for signs (visual or auditory) of the workers. there was none, neither that day, nor the next, or even the whole week after that one. the scaffolding still covered the exterior of the building, but, like a sugar cube tossed into a bathtub full of water, the workers had disappeared without a trace... but only for a couple of weeks.

getting used to life in Canada is one thing, but the province of Quebec is a world unto itself. as the old joke goes, "there are two seasons in [name any Canadian city]... Winter and Construction". turns out that in Quebec—and only in Quebec—Construction season comes with a statutory two-week break. i am not talking about a situation where an employee is entitled to a two-week vacation to be taken when they please. regardless of what they may be working on, the entire industry grinds to a halt for a set two-week period every Summer... and it is the law!!! it is as if the rapture came, but only for the people wearing hard hats and tool belts. at any cost, i thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet of the past two weeks, because i know the commotion will be back come Monday morning.

speaking of breaks... well, sort of... i sprained my wrist about a month ago. it was a very slight injury, and only really hurt when i carried anything, or rotated my wrist, or tried to engage in any activity that required actually using the affected hand. naturally, i was banned from my favorite pastime until it healed. i (usually) laugh at such suggestions, however this one came with the threat of tossing a ball of yarn off the balcony for every violation, so i was forced to capitulate. once the mandated rest period ended, i knit my little fingers off and finished the orange sherbet cardigan.

it is equally cute from the back, a fact that annoys me to no end, as i am still coming to terms with the color.

as i mentioned in the original post, i was working from a minimalist set of instructions for the actual construction of the garment, which is common with Japanese knitting patterns. on the up side, the fabric consisted of a simple lace repeat that even a novice knitter could memorize after a few rows, making for an ideal knit-while-you-watch-stuff project.

on the down side, the cardi was knitted flat (i.e., each piece was knitted separately), which meant that it had to be seamed together. in my humble opinion, the most not-fun aspects of knitting are seaming and weaving in all the ends that result from each ball of yarn. not gonna lie... it took a couple days to put this one together, and there may have been alcohol involved. i was making some quick (very bad) sketches to illustrate how it was assembled, when it dawned on me that i have my very own artist (who happens to be on an extended break from work) just a room or two away. he looked thoroughly puzzled by my step-by-step instructions (which, to be fair, bordered on interpretive dance), but the end result does a far better job than the original pattern at explaining the process. [note, the pockets were knitted after the cardi was assembled, so they are not included in the drawings... or, if i am being completely honest, i forgot about the pockets until after he sent me the sketches].

me: oh [minor expletive]! i forgot about the pockets.
him: do you need me to do another drawing to show how you added them?
me: not necessary. i'm already over it.

first you gather the knitted pieces ...

...and create the shoulder seams (sewing "A" from each front to the corresponding "A" on the back piece).

then you open the piece, lay it flat, and attach the sleeves.

sew up both sides (starting at the bottom hem, turning at the armpit, and continuing on to the sleeve cuff... or, if you prefer, start at the cuff and end at the lower hem), and sew the short ends of the back collar together...

...then attach the collar to the back of the cardigan.

the collar seams should look something like this when done.

the back of the collar was the second most stressful part of the finished piece. i as still not completely pleased with the vertical seam in the center, but that horizontal line makes me smile.

as stated, sewing seams was the second most stressful bit, but the top honor goes to... drum roll please... adding the pockets!!! seriously, i knitted the two pockets as instructed (ripping them out and restarting at least twice because i kept changing my mind about how large they should be), then i could not figure a way to attach them to the garment that would satisfy my obsessive-compulsive need for absolute evenness. so, i knitted a new set of pockets directly onto the finished cardi. this step may have involved multiple rulers and half a box of pins... and more alcohol. the pockets may look a bit wonky due to the way the garment relaxes on the hanger, but i assure you that they are in perfect sync with the background and (far more importantly) with each other.

as for the abandoned pockets (mach III), they will likely end up under a couch, covered in cat hair. a fitting end after the pain they caused.

i fell asleep that first night in my new cardi. it was such a joy to actually be able to wear something i made for more than a few minutes. however, as the feels-like temperature is currently hovering around "surface of the sun", the cardi and all its sherbety (or, should it be sherbetish?) goodness will remain draped artistically across the back of a chair for the foreseeable future.

i did make two solemn vows after completing this project: 1) i will take a break, and 2) i will never ever ever knit another cardigan in such thin yarn... EVER! i kept that promise for less than a day before i began to work on a pair of socks (in stupid-thin yarn) to repay the artist-in-residence for the five whole minutes he spent working on the sketches. after that, i will likely start working on a Pomme de pin Cardigan in—you guessed it—even more thin yarn.  clearly, i have not learned my lesson.