Friday Night at the Museum

Music, drinks, food, and dinosaurs.  Yup, dinosaurs.  Just a typical night at the Royal Ontario Museum for their popular Friday Night Live series.  This is how I spent last Friday night, with close friends and my sister, to celebrate her birthday.  This popular event runs every Friday night for a two month period, and it is amazing to see the hallowed halls of a museum being transformed into areas for bands, conversations, and good food.  The inner museum person in me has little panic attacks when I think about food/drinks in gallery space (eek! Think of the pest possibilities!!), but it really is great to see that a museum is THE place to be on a Friday night.

Drinks... in museum galleries... pl;ease pardon my panic attack!
Drinks… in museum galleries… please pardon my panic attack!

Growing up in Ontario, the ROM was one of the places that you visited with family and on school trips. I think my earliest memory of the Museum was the old dinosaur gallery, before the ROM Renaissance of the 2000s.  It was dark, and there were really big bones.  Child of the 80s, The Land Before Time was a staple, and I remember thinking how cool it was to see a ‘Sharp Tooth’ in real life.  We visited sporadically before I started high school, but then it was years before I returned, after the installation of the ever contentious Michael Lee Chin Crystal (side note: I like the Crystal).

Visiting the ROM, you can wander and see their paleontological collections, natural history collections, and galleries showcasing Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, China, Japan, Africa, Europe, along with their textiles and mineralogy collections, which is one of my favourites.  I’m such a girl: I like shiny things.  Off the main rotunda, you can find their Canada Gallery, showcasing art, furniture, and artifacts which are significant to our country.  This is my favourite gallery, and I’m always sure to visit my favourite artifact, their Rebellion Box.  I see it, geek out, then move along.

Hello Rebellion Box
Hello Rebellion Box

While it’s wonderful to view objects from cultures from around the world, the one area that I feel the ROM leaves me wanting is a gallery outlining more of our own history.  Yes, there is the Canada Gallery, but even that gallery leaves me wanting.  This past Fall, I visited Quebec City, and I fell in love.  The history, the architecture, the culture, the museums.  The Quebecois people know how to tell their story.  In the musée de la civilisation, one of their permanent galleries is Le Temps des Québécois, and it outlines the 400+ years of history that the Province of Quebec has.  I was fascinated.  I am a History and Canadian Studies major, so I’m familiar with the history, but museums give the opportunity to educate and showcase, and the musée de la civilisation did just this.

In my humble opinion, the provincial story in Ontario is not being adequately told.  The Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau tells the national story and city/municipal museums tell the story of their own communities, but the history of Ontario is somehow lost in the shuffle.  I would love to see an exhibition showcasing the history of the province, from the earliest First Nation inhabitants, to its creation, struggles, expansions, and how it has become the most populous province in the country.  How did Ontarians react to the World Wars? Why did they react this way? How about the Upper Canada Rebellion, what happened there?  From farms to cities, the north to our border with the US, there is a story waiting to be told.  This is what the musée de la civilisation did for the history of Quebec, and wouldn’t the Royal Ontario Museum be the ideal place to showcase the history of this province?

Until that day, I will continue to visit the ROM, look at cultural materials from around the world, wonder at pre-historic giants that roamed the earth, and visit my beloved Rebellion Box.

FNL at the ROM
FNL at the ROM

Socks: It’s Complicated

Do you have a project that you love and hate at the same time?  For me, it’s socks.  They are the project that I love to hate, or hate that I love.

Relationship status with sock knitting: It's Complicated
Relationship status with sock knitting: It’s Complicated

I was well into my knitting addiction when I began my first pair.  I bought a skein of Berroco Comfort Sock, soft and purple, from my LYS.  It was perfect for my first pair of socks.  It is self striping and created a lovely mix of colours, and I chose a fairly simple sock pattern with lots of stockinette and YouTube tutorials for when I inevitably got stumped on a step in the pattern.  They are soft and warm, and they make me happy when I’m wearing them.  Yes, I truly am about the simple things in life.  Since knitting this first pair, I find myself being drawn to bright, colourful sock yarn.  My stash doesn’t need anymore sock yarn… or so the logical part of my brain thinks.  These are the things I love about socks.

My first pair of socks - a little slouchy, but I love 'em!
My first pair of socks – a little slouchy, but I love ’em!

Flip the coin, and oh socks, how I loathe thee.  First, and perhaps I haven’t adequately stated this about me, I’m not a patient person.  When they were handing out virtues, I seem to have been skipped for patience.  I love chunky, bulky yarn, big needles, and the instant satisfaction that comes from starting and finishing a project.  I just don’t get that instant satisfaction from socks.  The yarn is so fine and the needles so tiny!  Maybe with more practice, I’ll get faster at them, but socks definitely test my patience.  And then there’s the fact that they are a pair!  Once one is finished you have the Yay the project is cast off feeling, but then, alas, you are ONLY HALF DONE!!  You get to repeat the process ALL OVER AGAIN!

Despite all the things that irritate me, I am still drawn into sock knitting.  I have a lovely pair on my needles right now, the yarn is green and blue and reminds me of the ocean, and I have a small ball of pink and white yarn just waiting for a simple sock to be made.  I might grumble, I might curse the knitting gods, but I do love me a knittted sock… and David Tennant agrees

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Finding the right words…

I love knitting.  I’ve started a knitting blog about how much I love it, so clearly, I’m not shy about sharing my passion.  I’m also not the type of gal to shy away from attention.  Exhibit A: I love bright coloured clothing, I wear bold glasses (think Penelope Garcia from Criminal Minds), and my hair currently has panels of blue, purple, and teal in it (my BFF and hair dresser extraordinaire was going for a peacock look).  Clearly, not afraid of a little spotlight.  But when it comes to my knitting, there are times that I’m not sure what to say when it gets attention.

I will often knit in public.  Trains, coffee shops, buses, restaurants, all of these are places to knit.  So when I had the chance to see a notable politician speak about his latest book, I arrived early to ensure a good spot, pulled out my e-reader and the Sweet Sweater Dress I was working on for my BFF’s daughter. I know how to keep myself entertained. While working away, knitting in hand, e-reader balanced on my knee, a woman made comment on my multi-tasking, and later, while standing and chatting with my sister, again knitting away at the stockinette pattern, a woman remarked how impressed she was that I wasn’t watching my stitches, just knitting along.  Both times, I found myself at a loss for the right response.  The first one I laughed away, that I couldn’t be as co-ordinated if I was trying to read a real book with pages to turn, and the second, my sister responded, telling her that I’ve always got knitting needles in my hands, it’s second nature to me.

I also have awkward responses to when people compliment my work.  If I’m wearing pieces I’ve made, and I get asked about them, I appreciate the compliments and kind words, but I’m always doubting my responses.  I was once out shopping with my mother while wearing my big slouchy Chateau shawl, which I absolutely adore for a number of reasons.  A lady remarked that she liked my sweater, and I thanked her, but my mother couldn’t resist boasting that I had made it.  I am proud of the Chateau, no doubt, and Mum was proud of it too, or perhaps simply proud of her daughter.

My favourite, slouchy, comfy Chateau Shawl
My favourite, slouchy, comfy Chateau Shawl

Perhaps, my awkwardness and uncertainty comes from being aware of walking the like between being thankful of others’ compliments, and not wanting to come across as boastful.  Am I the only one with these thoughts?  Yeah, probably 🙂

J’adore Entrelac

From the first time I tried it, I fell in love with entrelac.  If you haven’t tried this technique yet, I ask why not?

First, what is it?  Entrelac is a technique in knitting where it looks as if the fabric is interlaced.  Appropriately, when translated from French, entrelac means interlaced.  It gives a lovely woven appearance, and it looks as if it’s more difficult than it actually is.  There are fantastic tutorials available on how to go about knitting this technique.

My simply lovely clutch
My simply lovely clutch

My first foray into entrelac came with the above clutch.  I decided to get fancy and use two different yarns for this project (as if learning a new technique wasn’t challenging enough).  It was also a perfect way to use up the last of my Red Heart Super Saver (first yarn I ever bought), and another yarn, which I just can’t remember where or when I bought it.  It knit up surprisingly fast, and a fast project is always satisfying.

Lovely yellow lining adds a pop of colour to the simply lovely clutch
Lovely yellow lining adds a pop of colour to the simply lovely clutch

The project called for the i-cord wristband, but I added the chained loops and buttons to act as a closure.  I also had ‘fun’ (fun used rather loosely), adding a fabric lining using a sewing machine.  Sewing machines and I don’t always see eye to eye.  We have a history.  This was a battle I won, and after a few trial and errors, the lining was added and it adds a fun pop of colour to the inside (and bonus, it is wide enough to fit my phone and a set of keys – only the important items).

I really wish I could have shared the link to this pattern, but when I went to add it, I discovered the link didn’t work.  It was a Seattle Yarn pattern.

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed knitting a ‘garterlac’ washcloth for my sister, garterlac because it is made with the garter stitch.  Lots of knit stitches, no purls. That’s okay in my books.  The pattern I used was from Criminy Jickets, and like the clutch, it was a fast and satisfying project.  I would have loved to share a picture of this, but my sister’s inquisitive kitten decided the washcloth was hers to chew on.

I encourage you, find an entrelac pattern and give it a try!  Surprisingly simple, a fast fun knit.  Allons-y!

Cast on, place marker, join

With everything, there is a beginning.  I suppose that’s true with a blog as well, a first post to introduce what this is all about.  If you didn’t glean from the title or the header photo, this blog is about one of my passions, knitting, and a little of everything else in between, otherwise known as life.

I began knitting in 2011, simply because I was too cheap (cost conscious?) to pay for a cover to protect my new e-reader.  I was in the store, looking at these, admittedly lovely covers, but thinking to myself, ‘I could make something at a fraction of the cost.’  And so I did.  I bought my first ball of yarn (good ol’ Red Heart Super Saver), and a set of 6mm needles, and slowly I taught myself how to knit.

The first thing I ever knitted, a cover for my e-reader
The first thing I ever knitted, a cover for my e-reader

I still have this e-reader cover, and I love everything about it.  There are the odd rows when I accidentally switched from stockinette to garter, without realizing I did it wrong; I look at those and think they add character.  While the yarn may not be the highest of quality, I still love the colours.  They make me happy.  I love the large button I added, and am proud of the first buttonhole I made.  This cover is a reminder of my stubbornness, my abilities, my dedication, and of how far I have come.