Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Odd Ball

I have a trip to Britain planned for mid-September. However, this blog post is not about that trip. It is about the "Traveling Sweater" I have been making to take on the trip.

This sweater has all the qualities necessary to make it a good travel companion. It is 100% wool, which makes it toasty warm. It is knit with worsted weight yarn, which means it will be lightweight enough to fit in my backpack. And it is a deep blue colour, which should hide any "travel grime."

I started this sweater over a month ago, which gave me enough time to knit away at a leisurely pace and still be finished well ahead of my departure date. Nothing sucks the joy out of knitting like rushing to meet a deadline. Ellen, my dear friend and fellow fibre enthusiast, was here for a visit last Saturday. I excitedly pulled out the partially completed pieces of my sweater - the body up to the arms, one completed sleeve and the start of the other - and spread it out on the island in the kitchen to show off.

It was A Disaster. I had only worked on this sweater in the evening. What I had failed to notice in the low light of evening, but was now glaringly obvious in broad daylight, was that one of the skeins of yarn was a different shade than the others.

It was probably good I discovered this while my friend was with me so she could talk me off "the knitter's ledge." After a restorative cup of tea I decided to phone the vendor. She is a lovely lady who runs a small family business. They raise sheep and have the wool made into gorgeous yarn - yarn I have knit with several times before. The company shall remain unnamed because I do not want to do anything to harm their business. It's tough enough making a living these days without someone bad-mouthing your product online. Mistakes happen, and she was very gracious about it and has refunded me a large portion of the cost of my order.

Still, there remains the problem of what to do with the sweater. You can see from the picture
that the finished sleeve matches the bottom half of the body. So does the second sleeve that is now in progress. Which leaves me with two choices.

1. I can knit on and have a very odd looking sweater. This has some advantages. For instance, I will be immediately recognizable to any of my readers in Britain when I am wandering around being a tourist. It also has some disadvantages. Such as the fact it is incredibly ugly.

2. I can rip out the yarn that is the wrong shade and reknit the top half of the body. This has some advantages. For instance, I will have a sweater I would actually wear. It also has some disadvantages. Such as the fact I am leaving in under three weeks and redoing a major portion of the body will mean I go from knitting at a leisurely pace to rushing to meet a deadline.

I have been in denial for the past few days, knitting on the second sleeve and pretending all is well in my knitter's universe. But that sleeve is nearing completion and I am soon going to be forced to choose. Opinions?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Nurse From Hell

I should start off by saying I am not in a good mood. Not. Even. Close. Alexandra has just spent the last couple of days in the hospital after getting her tonsils out. This is normally done as an outpatient surgery, but in the medical world she is considered "special." This qualifies her for all sorts of perks like getting to sleep in sheets that smell like they have been soaked in a toxic chemical and getting served food our dog would pass up, along with the added bonus of being woken up every few hours to be poked and prodded. She is now happily back home in her own bed and I am sitting out on our back deck soaking up the heat of what I fear might be one of our last true days of summer.

The nursing staff we dealt with were all amazing with one glaring exception. I think there is an unwritten rule of hospital staffing that states for any given patient's stay one hospital employee must be a dud. Alexandra's nurse yesterday turned out to be The One. (I am quite confident it is safe to blog about her here at North of 49 because only nice people read my blog.) At one point yesterday she was doing some pointless thing to Alexandra, and I was sitting by the bed reading. My cell phone went off alerting me to a text message. I picked up my phone and this is what I saw:

Watching Alexandra clutch her cell phone through pain, nausea and severe allergic reactions made me realize something. Millions of dollars could be saved in the medical system if they would stop using monitoring devices on teens and twenty somethings. All they need to do is monitor their cell phone use. A slowing of texts and Facebook updates is the perfect indicator of low blood oxygen levels. There's no need to wear that silly clip on the end of their finger. Stopping all cell phone use would mean a code blue. Never mind the crash carts rolling in and attempting to resuscitate the patient. Simply plugging the phone into the charger would achieve the same results in a much more cost efficient manner.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Things That Go Bite In The Night

I have mentioned before how much I love the smell of sheets that have dried out on my clothesline. It is near the top of my frugal luxury list. Well, at least it was until Saturday night.

I noticed when I pulled the sheets off the line Saturday afternoon that the top sheet was draping down and touching the grass but didn't give it a second thought. I should have. In the middle of the night I was woken up by this intense itching on my big toe. Think of the itch factor from 20 mosquitoes concentrated into one bite and you will have a good idea of what it was like.

It kept me awake for over an hour, and while I scratched (and scratched and scratched) visions of those sheets touching the grass under my clothesline came to mind, quickly followed by visions of some of our resident arachnids.

My first instinct was to turn on the light, throw back the covers, and do a search. I wasn't sure this was going to be greeted with enthusiasm by Jay, so I refrained. The next day I did pull back the bedding and had a close inspection. I thought the worst thing that could happen would be to find a black widow or hobo spider residing between the sheets, but I was wrong. I have now come to the conclusion there was an even worse outcome. Finding nothing. Because that means that whatever got me is still there...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Capture The Flag

This past week has been spent with family and friends, celebrating the new addition to our international family. There was the formal gifting of flags. You can tell Anton has been hanging around our family for awhile. He purchased a flag stand complete with Russian, Canadian and Korean flags for his parents, but made sure the stand had an extra space since his sister isn't married yet.
We were gifted with a Russian flag and a new stand. Our old one was at maximum capacity.
There was a little friendly competition at the Richmond Go Kart track. Note the intense look on Diana's face. She was ready to redeem herself after her infamous performance on the same track five years earlier. Unfortunately she picked the pink Barbie go kart, and it was very slow. At least she refrained from going backwards this time!
Last but not least was the food. You know if it involves the Hammonds food is going to make an appearance at some point. Rebekah and Alexandra prepared a BBQ feast for the family the night before the wedding. Not only did we get to load up on salads (three kinds), buns, burgers, Uighur shish kebabs and two choices of desserts, we also got to meet Anton's parents. It was great to get to know them before the wedding. I think they should get an award for bravery. It can't have been easy to face meeting so many Hammonds at one time, especially when English isn't their native language. But then again, perhaps we aren't quite as frightening when you can't understand what we are saying.

Details of the wedding itself to follow...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Sudden Goodbye

From the obituary:

Glenn was born July 8, 1931 and died August 4, 2011. He spent 50 years
farming in Northern Idaho. Glenn is survived by his wife of 55 years,
Thelma; 3 children, Kristie Hammond (Jay), John Madsen (Cheri), and
Glenn Allen. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and
grandchildren-in-law who share the following memories of their much-loved

"A kind and gentle spirit. Work-worn farmer's hands. Riding in your
combine. These things we will remember. Grandpa."

"I will always remember the day that you let me sit on your lap in the front seat of your pick-up. Driving down that dusty road with feet barely able to touch the pedals was the most exciting thing in the world. I am going to miss you so much."

The land my dad loved:

The family he loved:

North of 49 will be back in a couple of weeks.