Garden of Fuzz

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I feel as though I’ve been sleepwalking, at least part of me, since I was 19. And I’ve been tossing and turning in a half-sleep, just under the surface, for the last three years. It is the creative and wild part which is awakening. And it is exhilarating.

Perhaps it is my age… I have recently turned 33, which puts me in that traditional female awakening period (in more ways than the obvious). Certainly some of the responsibility for the sleepwalking feeling rests on the shoulders of becoming a contributing member of society and chasing a stable job (it just can’t be called a career); some of it belongs to the need to please…everyone, especially my parents. This has been a struggle for me as I’ve had only the vaguest ideas of what to do in life: create, help, live, learn. Somewhere along the way, fear became a stowaway, deep in the holds of the ship.

Some sappy greeting card I bought some time ago and kept for myself says, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” I have latched onto this phrase, because I know I will never root out all the fear from its dark corners; I will keep tabs on it and use it as I can, even as just a list of things I will work towards over time.

I have the will to create again; it is slow and creaky as seldom-used things are. To learn. I am learning a new language and it will be a long road and the reward will be slight if any, but I want it. (Insert Gollum-voice here: I wants it.)

Who knows how long this will last? At 19, I thought it would last forever. I will ride it now for as long as I can.

This little sock has faith. It wants to be done in time for the TTC Knitalong so I can be working on something new and exciting. It thinks it has a chance, having only just begun a little over a day ago.

Today's Earworm: Kickstart My Heart, by Mötley Crüe – Throw up the horns, mofo.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Back At It

Knitting action’s been scarce here lately, due to a string of unfortunate events, and plain old ennui with the summer shawl mutant I have been trying to finish up. Since my hands are officially cold while at rest (my indication that it is well into autumn), I have put the pretty UFO aside until the new year.

I knit myself a nice warm scarf instead; haven’t knit/finished anything for myself in a while. Haven’t blocked it as I haven’t checked to see if one is supposed to block angora…

2 balls Anny Blatt Super Angora (70% French angora, 30% extra fine wool) in Mineral -- purchased in France!
Straight needles, size US9 / 5.5 mm

Modified Lopi Lace Scarf, from Weekend Knitting

Increased number of cast on s
titches to 37, increased number of lace holes to four from two.

This weekend I also took as spin with two-end or twined knitting and I love it! I decided last week to knit myself (myself!) a sweater, and have chosen a nice yet simple pattern from Lopi #24, the Von 4. However, being me, I plan to modify it…. There are two lengths in the pattern, but I would like something in between, that hits me mid-hip, and I’d also like to nip it in at the waist and add a surface pattern using special stitches in twined knitting, which would appear right between my shoulderblades, and shorten the neck so it doesn't fold over double. Not to mention I may put in a second, contrasting colour for the inside of the ribbing on the sleeves and bottom and perhaps carry it into the pattern…

I have the book by Anne-Maj Ling, and practised -- practised! -- all the stitches on Saturday night while convalescing on the couch after an encounter with a lath nail Friday night. What's next, gauge swatches???? For this sweater, you bet your ass.

Twined knitting produces a very warm, firm and sometimes wind and water resistant fabric. It is suggested to use an s-spun z-plied yarn, which is proving difficult to find in this hemisphere. I may have to use standard yarn and keep an eye on twisting and tension. If I go this route, and this is looking likely, I am considering Lett Lopi or an alpaca mix as I’d like a very light but warm sweater, preferably using a worsted or sport weight. I’m open to suggestions from the two or three of you who actually read this blog! :)

And as autumn sets in well, here we have Rosebud, aka The Munchkin, fattening up for the winter.

Today's Earworm: Daymalhum, by Natacha Atlas

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Rest In Peace, Nimba.

Nimba left us yesterday afternoon on the heels of Kitt. She is shown here having a nap on Monday, while Pilea comes in to groom her.

(He was a good-looking mouse, but really, Nimba…)

We hardly knew Nimba, despite caring for her and her sisters for over a year. Nimba was our little thundercloud; quick and tempestuous, and prone to strikes (with her teeth). Even when she was a mouseling at the Toronto Humane Society, she would not approach an outstretched hand, except to give it a warning nip. Her sister Cirra (cousin? With different fur texture, we think so) is just as fearful, though runs and hides instead.

We always knew when Nimba was on the exercise wheel; she was so fast and so … thunderous. We could hear her two floors up in the house, such a happy noise: a mouse running on her wheel.

Lately Nimba had been living alone with her sister Cumula. The other three mice (Strata, Pilea and Cirra) had been showing signs of barbering, a type of bullying, so we separated the groups until we could tell who the bully was as both Nimba and Cumula were a bit aggressive. When we got back from our vacation to France, it was obvious. Nimba was now showing signs of being bullied, so I put her into her own cage in transition to rejoin her sisters. It was the next day I noticed she hadn’t eaten her seeds from the previous night, so I put her in with her sisters right away, thinking she was lonely. She seemed to be feeling better, but still I noticed she seemed unable to locate food or water. She would see or hear one of her sisters eating or drinking, and run right over to get some, but would stop with her nose millimeters from her target, unable to find it. Our intention to go to the vet did not come soon enough and the following afternoon we came home to find her spinning round and round backwards, with her head and shoulders twisted nearly 180 degrees behind her. The vet thinks it was some kind of inner ear infection (aggravated/accelerated by a fall the day before, I think, for which I will feel eternal guilt; I should have been more careful), leaving her with no balance and nausea. She did at least stop spinning and begin to rest after the medication took effect – or extreme exhaustion – and after her sisters tended to her.

Nimba died in her sleep (I have to hope this), warm, safe and clean within the mouse-pile of her sisters.

We will all miss you, Nimba. Your sisters continue to search for you in their Habitrail, thinking you are just around the corner, in the next series of tubes.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Rest In Peace, Kitt.

Early this morning we lost our magnificent Kitt. It was quite sudden, and we suspect a heart attack. Kitt had been on several different medications over the past year, and it was only a matter of time before his little body gave out.

I brought Kitt home from the Toronto Humane Society, where I volunteer with the small domestic animals, socializing them (loving them, really, ultimately, and preparing them for loving homes), to increase the level of care he received. Kitt had some kind of chronic itching; we initially thought it was mites, but over the past year we never nailed it down, putting it down to some kind of developed neurosis. He almost died several times from blood loss, shock, or infection, and at one time last Christmas was missing a band of skin and fur across the back of his neck and shoulders almost an inch square. He lost his ears to his affliction.

Heartfelt thanks go to the staff of the Animal Hospital of High Park, most especially Dr. Jen Thompson. They went above and beyond in their care for Kitt.

Brave Kitt had been as stable as we could expect for the past six months, occasionally having a bout of itching during which he would scratch off his fur and lacerate himself. During these periods we would affix booties of fabric bandaids to his back feet to prevent him from doing further damage. He hated it, and would pull them off, losing the fur on his back legs in the process – otherwise we would have kept the booties on most of the time. He had been scratching again off and on for the past month, so perhaps he was finally weakened to the point where the usual routines would not save him. He was approximately a year and a half old, which for lab mice can be anywhere from middle to old age.

Yesterday afternoon he was his cheerful but nervous self, enjoying a bit of time sitting on my wrist inside my sleeve, just hanging out. I wish I had had him out to play just once more last night before bed.

We love you, and will miss you, Kitt.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nous sommes retournés!

Je suis très fatigué.

So here's one photo from the 900 or so we took and need to weed though. It's dark but it is knitting related and shows the view from our hotel suite on the last night...

(Click to see it bigger and slightly less crappy.)

And in light of how things went at work while I was away, behold:

You are PHP.  You enjoy the World Wide Web.  You are constantly changing the way you do things, and this tends to confuse people who work with you.
Which Programming Language are You?

Today's Earworm: Haram Aleyk, by Natacha Atlas