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In less than two years of living in Ottawa, I have done some pretty amazing things. So here’s a list of what Ottawa’s given me in the last 22 months:

Concerts/performances: Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morissette, Rufus Wainwright (RUFUS!!!), Margaret Cho, Sam Roberts, Show Tune Showdown (2008; also attending the 2009 edition on May 9 – a fun and hilarious evening)

Plays/theatre: Wicked, Mama Mia, Spamalot, Top Girls, Macbeth (at the NAC – terrible!), Broue, Corteo (Cirque du Soleil)

A Company of Fools performances (a must see when in Ottawa): Romeo & Juliet, Tempest in a Teapot, Richard III in Bouffon, 

Other: the Haunted Walk (Ottawa and Kingston), Roller derby (AWESOME!! We’re going again in June), a screening of Nosferatu (silent film) with a live band (including Balinese gamelan), the Diefenbunker, The 1930s: the Making of the New Man (exhibit at the National Gallery)

This doesn’t even cover the free things: Busker Festival, Tulip Festival, weekly trivia at a local pub, knitting groups, skating on the Canal . . .

Damn I love this city.

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I’m not normally a particularly tenacious person. I’ve got a lazy streak, and can walk away from something if it’s proving too frustrating or difficult. It appears the one time in my life this does not apply is knitting.

Last year I started knitting what looked like a fairly innocuous top in the beloved knitting book “Fitted Knits” by Stefanie Japel. (It was all the rage among young knitters about a year ago. She’s got a new book out now.) I fell in love with the very first pattern in the book – a split-neckline cap-sleeved tee – and as I have limited experience knitting sweaters and tops and it was ranked as an easy one, I thought it would be a good place to start.

It’s a top-down construction, knit in the round which is not the traditional sweater construction, and I was excited to give the circular method a try, especially since I don’t like sewing much. 

Attempt #1 – I got about 80% through the top when I tried it on and found I had knit the wrong size. That is, I knit for a 38″ bust (I’m a 37″) and it was huge in the neck, and a little loose in the bust. I decided to frog it and cast on again one size down (36″ bust). I also didn’t like the fact there was no waist shaping, so decided to add some.

Attempt #2 – I got about 50% of the way through when I found the neck opening was still huge, but the bust fit quite well. The keyhole in particular seemed to be a problem. The fabric was puckering at the hole, and not a little bit. You could fit a hand in there, and get a pretty nice view of my bra without much effort. Time to frog again. This time I decided to cast on for the smallest size and increase to the medium size in the same amount of rows.

Attempt #3 – I got about 30% of the way through (finally learning my lesson) and tried it on only to find there was still a large pucker at the keyhole, though the bust was still fitting great. At this point, I have invested countless hours into and nearly $100 into a pile of cotton that simply will not be made into a wearable top. This, and the fact that I am beginning to hate the yarn I’ve chosen (the colours are starting to make we nauseous) lead me to nearly throw the entire project off my 10th floor balcony.

Attempt #4 – I say, Screw the keyhole! I cast on the for smallest size, increase only minimally for the first few rows so that I can join the yarn on my circular needle, then proceed to increase to the medium bust size. I knit to just below the bust and try it on – looks ok, but I need to knit the edging on the collar before I know for sure. Try it on again – not bad. Still a little wonky around the neckline, but totally wearable. 

I am now nearly finished Attempt #4. I have to knit and sew the edging on the sleeves, then block it and sew on the little clasp at the neck. Have a look.

 

The collar isn't standing up - hopefully the block will correct that.

The collar isn't standing up - hopefully the block will correct that.

Just need to knit the edging on the sleeves.

Just need to knit the edging on the sleeves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still not sure this is actually something I’ll wear in public. It’s pink, for christ’s sake! I never wear pink. At least this has been a valuable learning experience: Keyholes suck!

Wedding progress

We have a date:  May 15, 2010.

As an accountant, my partner assigns special significance to numbers, and she likes the numbers this date creates: 5-10-15. Which is cool in itself, but when added together, they make 30. The number 3 is her”signature” number, so to speak, so the date is perfect.

We also have a location for the reception: a lovely old historic restaurant in the market. Before we started looking for a venue I had an image in my mind of what kind of space I wanted for the reception, and when we walked into the restaurant I knew we had found it. Old stone walls, large wooden roof beams, black window frames, wooden floors. It’s perfect – a warm, cozy and friendly space. The last thing I wanted was a big empty and impersonal hall.

The wedding ceremony itself will likely just take place at City Hall, which has a wedding space that only holds about 10 people including the couple getting married, so we would have to leave most people out of the ceremony. We’re both fine with that. To me the exchange of vows is very personal and intimate, and I’d rather have a small group of people there who really love us and support our decision.

Which brings me to the next item on my To Do list: telling my parents we’re engaged. At this point, I’m less concerned about their disapproval and more concerned about my mother being pissed that we’re having the wedding in Ottawa. And that I don’t intend to invite any of my extended family. And that we plan to have a wedding with no church, no priest, no white dress, no bridesmaids, no flowers, no bouquet toss, etc. By most western standards, it won’t even look like a wedding. But it’s exactly what we want, and it will reflect who we are as a couple.

Birthday blessings

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. It’s a bit of a milestone, but nothing that would warrant a big to-do or much fanfare. My partner asked me what I wanted to do to mark the occasion, and I said I’d like to have some friends over for a pot-luck games night. Nothing fancy: just good times with good friends. Which is exactly what happened, but to me it was so much more than that.

It ended up being a very interesting mix of people, from friends I’d known a few years, to some I’d known about a year, to a couple of people I’d never met before. It’s always a risk, bringing people together from different sectors of your life, but in the end it was a good mix. Not to mention we were pretty well-matched in our game playing. We each won a game of Outburst, with less than a five-point spread between teams each time.

MC and I have been busy the last several weeks, and hadn’t had guests over in ages – probably since long before the xmas holidays. The bus strike has also put a damper on the social lives of many Ottawans. So it was a real pleasure to host so many close friends (and a couple of strangers). I guess it’s silly, but I just felt incredibly grateful to have all these great people around me on my birthday.

This feeling of gratitude was amplified by the fact that my parents didn’t contact me at all on my birthday. No phone call, no card. This is very unusual, especially since we haven’t spoken since the xmas holidays. My brother at least sent me a card. It’s strange. In high school, I remember my mother being jealous of my friends and telling me that the only people you can really count on in life is your family. In reality, it’s my friends who have always been there for me, who celebrate my life choices and accomplishments, and my parents (my mother in particular) who are the first to judge and criticize and generally let me down.

Maybe they were busy yesterday. Maybe they thought I would be out on my birthday since it fell on a Friday night so they didn’t bother to call. Maybe they’ll call today. Maybe it’s time to stop worrying about it.

A most Canadian moment

I had an experience on Saturday that ranks among the Most Canadian Moments of My Life.

I recently joined a curling league, thanks to an invite from some good friends. I’m still very much a novice at curling, but it’s a fun night out with friends, and certainly a very Canadian pastime.

This past Saturday, however, was the Canada-Russia game in the world junior hockey championships. The game started at 7:30 p.m. and curling started at 8. I was surprised so many people turned out to curl. One of our players was sick, so she watched the game at  home and texted scores periodically to her husband who was curling with us. As we played our ends, people kept asking what the latest hockey score was.

At one point, I found myself standing on the edge of the ice, waiting to sweep the next rock, and taking a peak at the game on the big-screen t.v. which was visible through the large windows in the bar overlooking the sheets. That’s right: standing on a curling sheet, holding a broom, watching the Canadian junior hockey team on t.v. 

We finished a bit early to go upstairs and catch the last few minutes of the game. There were only five minutes left, and Russia was ahead by one. As the clock ticked down, the room became more and more silent. At around the 45 second mark, someone said “there’s still lots of time.” I thought these people were crazy. The game was over, I thought; Canada was out of gold medal contention. Big deal. Then, as we all know now, Eberle pulled a miracle and scored with just five-point-something seconds left. The bar erupted — curlers were on their feet, cheering, hollering and pumping fists. I admit I kind of got swept up in the excitement and may have shouted a bit too.

Of course we had the joy of watching the deciding shoot out, and there was more rejoicing. Curling, hockey, beer. All in all, a most Canadian evening.

“You see everything. You see every part. You see all my light, and you love my dark. You dig everything of which I am ashamed. There’s not anything to which you can’t relate. And you’re still here.”

Besides being lovely love song lyrics, a couple of these sentences are excellent examples of how to correctly avoid ending a sentence with a proposition. It makes up for her utter failure to grasp the concept of irony. There are several good songs that screw up the preposition thing. For example:

“But if this ever changing world in which we live in makes you give in and cry, say ‘live and let die.'”

In iTunes, I use the rating feature religiously. I still haven’t re-rated every song (3,805 at last count) since transferring my files from my old iMac to the new one back in August, but I’m 75% there. But poor grammar can cost a song a star, and GNR’s “Live and Let Die” is not on heavy rotation, largely because the grammar mistake drives me nuts. In their defence, I’m pretty sure Paul McCartney makes the same error in the original.

I hadn’t planned to write about these things when I sat down at the computer. I was about to complain about how the holidays, the weather and the transit strike here in Ottawa were driving me to a new level of exhaustion. But Alanis came on as I sat down to write, and the music took over. Then again, my mind is in such a weakened state that it doesn’t take much to throw it off track. Must be bedtime.

Knitting update

So after teasing the knitters out there with photos of half-finished socks and scarves, I figured I should show the finished (or near-finished) objects. So . . .

Ta-dah! The Jaywalker socks (finished) and the Hasty Scarf (unfinished):

JaywalkersThe hasty scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scarf just needs fringe on both ends. I’m halfway there, though I’ve had some fringe-length issues. (And yes, that’s me in an old, dirty T-shirt and my pyjama bottoms.) The socks are done, and nearly perfect. There’s a little flaw in the toe of the second one, but I love them anyway. It’s the perfect marriage of yarn and pattern, which makes them pretty special, I think.

Once the scarf is finished, I will be devoting my knitting hours to my financé’s (fiancé! I’m still not used to that word) sweater. Here’s a sneak peak:

Fiancé sweater  It’s my own striping design based on a simple set-in sleeve sweater pattern. Problem is, I want to   insert a 7″ zipper at the neck. Which is not in the simple sweater pattern. I’ll be looking for help     in Ravelry for this one, I think.