Episode 1: Just Like Starting Over

In which Maire, formerly of the Socktart podcast, relaunches under a new name, with renewed hopes for continuing to podcast.

On the needles:

– Marled Pink & White Baby Surprise Jacket
– Sirdar Snuggly “Baby Yours”
– Seamless Raglan Sweater
– Vanilla Socks,
– Sock Knitter’s Anonymous Mystery Sock (Mock)
– Bloody Vampy Willow Socks (Supersock Scarefest)

We talked about sock KALs and Yuletide knitting preparations.


thechickswithsticks (aka sprouty25). Scented soaps, colourful rovings and yarns.



I have a horrible tendency to self-edit.  I will find tons of reasons why I won’t write, usually for family reasons.  I generally try to avoid pushback on delicate subjects, mainly because I know that “The Family” has my URL, and it would cause Teh Dramas.

I’m trying to overcome that.  I had thought that maybe I would keep a “sooper seekrud journal” elsewhere…maybe on Livejournal or Blogspot, but just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  I still have my old LJ account, and it gets dusted off once in a while to  put something that just needs to get out that I don’t want the general public to see.  Thing is…while starting yet another journal holds some sort of appeal, I’ve been blogging in this one for years, albeit off & on.

So, needless to day, I’ll try to do better.


This is my piano.  She doesn’t have a name.  She never did.  The information on her sound board indicates that she was “registered” in July of 1900, which means that she was likely built somewhere between 1895 and 1900.  The manufacturer name is Gerhard Heintzman, who built pianos for a short while back at the turn of the last century.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I grew up in a very artistic family.  My parents gave my brother and I a lot of encouragement towards art and music.  What many people don’t realize is that piano took up much of my formative years, and while some can walk away from their early training, I really miss it.

I expressed an interest in lessons around the age of 10.  Knowing that I’d dropped out of about 3 dance classes & was having trouble fitting into Girl Guides, Mum and Dad didn’t put a lot of faith into any long-term musical interest.  Plus, the age of 10 is a little late to start lessons — many serious pianists start developing their skills about 4  or 5 years earlier.  For the first year or so, I would practice at the church across the street for about a half hour each day at lunch with my friend Heather.  It soon became evident that I would need a piano of my own.

I seem to recall being sick near my birthday, so I was home from school.  I wasn’t allowed to come downstairs that day…and when she was moved in and situated in our living room, they let me come down and see her.  The picture really doesn’t do her justice, because the finish is nothing like it was back then — also…the living room of that house suited her.  If I recall, Mum & Dad picked her up from a neighbour whose sister had gone into nursing care & would no longer be playing.  Later, I was told that they almost literally got her “for a song”.

I didn’t stop after 2 years of lessons.  She moved with us to Yellowknife, where I completed my Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 8 Practical (I also finished my first year of Harmony, which is kinda like the equivalent of Musical Math & Composition).

She probably should have stayed in Yellowknife.  I had gone to college, and the thought was always there that once I grew up & got my own place, I would call for my piano and have it moved.  Mum and Dad, however, moved to Calgary, and brought her with them.  There was no room in their living room, so they put her in the sunroom, where she’s been ever since.  I moved from their house to a small townhouse, then a tiny apartment, and then to a house where we wouldn’t have been able to get her up the stairs to the living room (plus, we were never sure how long we would be there).  Finally, we bought our pretty little home in the Northeast of the city…and there’s no room for her here.  Actually, there’s some room in the basement, but we’d never get her down the stairs.  Pianos aren’t built like IKEA furniture.

Mum and Dad had her assessed for sale recently, as they want to clean up & fix the sunroom.  Her finish is crackled from moisture, her soundboard has some small cracks.  She needs to be re-strung, as she still has the original steel wires (amazingly enough, they haven’t rusted).  I gather she needs new felts, and I’m sure there is more damage that I’m not remembering.  She’s 110 years old.  When 110 years old you are, look as good you will not.

I’m hoping that Mum is able to post up her info on Kijiji and find a new home for her.  I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that her time on earth may just be over.  She’s come a long way from the front parlour of our old Victorian home. Dad has mentioned that if they can’t find a buyer or someone to move her away, he’ll have to dismantle her & take her to the dump.  There is a wee part of my heart that hopes that if this happens, he turns her case into a nice cabinet or desk (I’ve seen it done..it can look very pretty).

Myself, I’m keeping an eye out for a digital piano.  When we have the money to do so, I’ll be visiting the dealers in the city to try out their showroom models, and will either look into a new unit, or see what’s on the second-hand market.  I’m thankful that my parents found my sheet music and my Flute…so I’m looking forward to playing again.  Never know…I may decide to finish my training and get my teacher’s certificate 🙂

The Crack Spider’s Bitch

I seem to be having one of those months.  The rainy weather really really really isn’t helping.  I’m thinking that I should just go crawl into a nice hot bath and soak away the world for a while…such a girly thing to do.

I’d show everyone what’s on the sticks at the moment, because it’s really a very cheery looking piece of knitting, but I won’t…because Mum looks at this blog once in a while, and that would spoil the surprise.  Pictures will likely be posted either by the end of this week or the beginning of next.

Instead, I’ll share with you an (old) parody of the classic Canadian film/video icon, “Hinterland Who’s Who“.  Believe it or not, I actually forced my parents to sit down and learn about the Crack Spider’s Bitch a couple of weeks ago…

Bits of Awesome

Sometimes you have to do a reality check, and remember the bits of awesome all around you.  Folks may have noticed that I haven’t blogged recently (not sure if anyone other than family reads this, but it’s true*).  Mostly that’s because life has been crazy lately, particularly with trips to various doctors for various things.  Nothing serious…one doctor who doesn’t believe my blood pressure is perfectly fine had me do a 24-hour heart monitor that, in the end, proved that (for once) I was right.  Yay!  Other trips to doctors were for girlie things that I’m sure the public doesn’t need to know about.  The last visit (yesterday) left me feeling so flattened that I had to take the day off work today to recover — headaches, what felt like a mild fever, and tummy upsets.  Yuck.  Should be all better for tomorrow, though.  A hot bath and a long lie-in will help that.

But instead of wallowing in feeling ugh-ey (yeah, that word?  It’s MINE), I decided to actually write a little & share some bits of awesome.  It’s been a grey, rainy day, so why not a little cheer?


Tulips!  After my chiropractor visits, I have to take a little walk afterwards to loosen everything up.  On one of those trips, I took this picture of one of the gardens along my route.  There are a couple of spectactular gardens to be seen, let me say.

My other car is a battlestar

Yep.  These are the kind of folks I work with.  While I may not be approving of the pretentious inner-city gas-guzzling sport pickup truck (I mean…really), I think the bumper sticker is 100% pure awesome.

Do not adjust your set

No, don’t adjust your monitor.  Those cookies are green.  GREEN.  They were even greener in person, and really really tasty.  Last week, when I was doing that heart-monitor thinger, I had some fun in the kitchen.  I took my Mum’s tried & true chocolate chip cookie recipe & altered it to have less sugar and gluten.  Not that I’m gluten sensitive, but every bit counts.  I substituted the sugars with Splenda & Splenda blend, and the white flour with Pea Flour & Whole Wheat.  Awesomely tasty! 🙂

BpalThat?  That would be BPAL.  Sniffies of various scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs.  Took forever to get here, but well worth the wait…AND they threw in some extra imps (that’s what the wee samplers are called).  Most of the scents in my order were intended for the Husbeast’s use, and most of the extras seem to have been along that vein.  Yay!  And now I have more of my favourite scent, “Gluttony”.  YUM.  These have been camped out in my living room for a couple of weeks, since either we’re too lazy to take them upstairs, or we’re enjoying trying the scents in the much larger environment downstairs (less shower & hair style product smells to interfere).

Yet another baby surpriseJust off the needles, a Baby Surprise Jacket!  And yes, even though it’s acrylic, it’s awesome.  What’s also awesome is the fact that I have figured out how to knit using straight needles.  The set shown are a pair of aluminum needles by Boye, which seem to do the trick quite well.   Folks who remember how long it took to make the last two BSJs will be glad to note that this one took maybe 2 weeks.

On Hold OnlineThis is a sock in progress out of Online Supersocke yarn in a pattern by Wendy Johnson of Wendyknits.  They’re turning out rather pretty, and I’m enjoying playing with my circular needles again after spending some quality time with straight needles.  No, this isn’t Wendy’s latest book…I haven’t yet picked that one up.  Expect a review of the older one soonish (really, the books came out rather close together, and while I love a prolific author, I haven’t finished with the first book yet!) 🙂

Living Dead DollI’ve saved this bit of awesome for last.  Mainly because I have no idea how to be eloquent about it.  My brother and his family brought this little girl back home with them from the US, and my Mum & Dad made sure we brought her home to our place.  I’m hoping that the picture can show just what it is we see in her when we look at her.  It’s a kind of awesome malevolence.  Don’t think we don’t appreciate her…we’re far too scared of her to do otherwise.  Yes, she’s still in the packaging.  Generally, she’s in the glass cabinet in our living room.  Why?  Because if she’s in the sealed package, behind glass, she can’t get out. (And no, we wouldn’t display her if we didn’t think she was cool.  Otherwise, we’d stick her at the back of a closet, probably in a salted circle, wrapped in charmed ribbons.  Yes, seriously.)

And yeah.  You DO see a Douglas Adams book and 3 different varieties of Munchkin.  Because that is exactly how we roll around here.

* I figure that I can never become a hit knit-blogger because I’m just not alternative enough.  I haven’t eschewed all modern conveniences, adopted the latest gizmos, and become vegan.  I live in what passes around here as the burbs, have a mortgage, and like to eat meat too much to give it all up for coolness.  I also don’t have a way-cool alternative-type job that lets me be creative-as-fuck all day.  Otherwise, I’m sure there would be more finished projects.  Sad, eh? 😉
And yes, that was all said tongue-in-cheek 😛

I’ll get you next time, Cthulhu. Next time.

Yeah.  I was less than impressed that this is how my Cthulhuclava turned out.  There’s been a lot of knitting and re-knitting on this particular pattern, and I have to admit…the instructions could probably have been a little clearer.  Maybe some better close-up pictures to show how some of the bits (like the socket/brow area(s)) fit together.  I may come back to it.  I still have this vision in my head of the Husbeast wearing it on his bike while passing slow cars in traffic…

You win this time, Cthulhu...

Perky Fleurs

Woke up this morning & stumbled on down the stairs to make a cup of tea, and what should I find waving at me through the garden windows?  Bright, cheery, unashamedly perky flowers!


It seems that the gentlemen who previously owned our house left us a few pleasant surprises in the garden for springtime…now I just need to find time to get up before the bees to pull some weeds and do some pruning of the old stuff!

We have pink and yellow tulips, and when I went to take a picture from a better angle, I spotted this lonely little girl standing off in a corner by one of the garden lights…


Absolutely gorgeous.  Made my morning, as I woke up with my back screaming at me and all sorts of other unpleasant girly things that I won’t go into.  My back has been giving me problems for a couple of months now, and only just finally got around to making a visit to the chiropractor’s office.  Since it’s been years since I last visited, they did a full assessment, and I’ll find out the results today.  I got a pretty good idea from Dr. J, who made some pretty telling comments about my hip being so out of alignment that my left leg is slightly twisted & consequently shorter than the other by about an inch or two.  Yeah, that will cause some problems.

So while I was waiting for all this to happen, I whipped out the Robinsock and did a few rows.  Apparently they see quite a few knitters, and have to tell them to stop hunching over their work.  I guess I shouldn’t be telling them that I’ve been spinning too… 😉

Robinsock goes to the chiropractor

Yes, that’s their website address.  If you need a chiropractor, I highly recommend them.

Finally…since it’s the weekend, I leave you with the following example of “Ur Doing It Wrong”.

Ur doing it wrong

I was getting ready to leave work the other day, when I noticed that the silver car ahead of me was parked rather oddly over the lines.  Notice that there is plenty of space to park on either side of it.  Little black car comes whipping into the lot, pulls up *proportionately* next to the silver car, and this girl gets out and hurries into the building (license plates have been deliberately blurred to protect privacy).  You notice that she didn’t even stop to consider that maybe…just maybe….she was doing it wrong?

Maybe it’s just my sense of symmetry that’s affronted, but c’mon…

Happy weekend!

Worst block job evar

I know it looks like a sudden rush of productivity, but I’ve been meaning to do this for while now.  The blocking of my Wisp shawl.  Yes, a Wisp.  And just like a bunch of folks in Calgary, it seems, I knit mine from Zauberball.  I got the idea from the Sherrimonster, who apparently picked up the idea from the ladies at The Knitting Room.  And when one person gets a wacky idea, of course there’s going to be a domino effect.

Worst block job evar

It took me longer than I thought to get this piece finished, but it’s been off the needles for about a month or so (and waiting to  be blocked).  As you can see, the reason I went to art college was to learn how to draw a rectangle properly.  Apparently the lesson didn’t stick.  Maybe that’s why I dropped out? 😉

Got a couple of sock designs in mind, but as this is “buy nothing month” (at least, in our household), I can’t exactly rush out and order the yarn ASAP.  Thinking I might stop by Michaels’ & see how many balls of Kroy I can pick up at a reasonable price instead.  In the meantime, I have a Robinsock to finish off, as well as a couple of other pending projects.  I’m really trying to finish stuff off so I can get them off my plate.  The Cthulhuclava is going to have to get ripped back a bit because the whole “slipping the first stitch” to keep the rows even?  Yeah.  It turned some of my counts wonky.  The coninual setbacks make for slow progress and a few headdesk moments.

5 Days

Sometimes I think that it takes forever for me to finish a project.
Sometimes, I forget that some of my projects are freakin’ huge (ref: Robin’s Sweater)
Sometimes, I forget that some of my projects are wee, but with tons of tiny stitches (ref: Socks).

Sometimes things don’t take as long as you think they will.  Or be as difficult as they could be.  Sometimes, just sometimes, you realize that the perfect project is portable, colourful, light, and full of holes.

I started last week and took this:

Sweet Georgia, it's Green!

And turned it into this:

Blocking Ishbel

(Notice the sneaky kitty under the rocking chair)
That, my friends, is a finished (small) Ishbel, designed by one Ms Ysolda Teague.  The yarn is Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in “Botanical”.  It didn’t want to be socks.  It really didn’t want to be socks.  The first time, the gauge was off.  The second time, the heel turn was sloppy (it was a pair of Sleepy Hollows, and far be it for me to diss a pattern the Yarn Harlot loves, but something just wasn’t working out for me.  Maybe later).  The variegation in the monochromatic green was gorgeous, so I decided to try it as a shawlette.  And I love it.

Today, I wore my new shawlette to work.  Funny enough, it was the gents who noticed.  Thanks, boys 🙂

Finished Ishbel

Just a busy Saturday

There’s a ton of wildlife in Calgary, and it has a tendency to just pop up wherever.  We went for breakfast down at the Blackfoot Diner with Chelsea…and what should be parked on top of Chels’s building?  A Canada Goose, full of attitude, honking away on the roof.

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We walked down to the Diner, and Chels showed off her new toes.  Well…she’s always had ’em, but now she’s got ’em on display.  Apparently she had to get the more audacious colour, too.  Bright, bright pink.  Now…both Robin and I had heard of these things, and had been very curious about them, but had no idea where to get them.  Apparently MEC carries them for a very reasonable price.  We stopped in after breakfast and picked me up a pair of Vibram 5-Fingers Sprints.  What most folks probably don’t know is that I have horrid posture & my back has been killing me like crazy for a good part of the last month.  Barefooting is supposed to help that.  We’ll see how that turns out.

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After getting home, and putting on those bad-boys, we went for a walk over to Dale & Morgan’s place & then walked back, taking a stop off at the Safeway for a brief coffee with friends… and saw a wee froggie on our walkway (he posed for a photo-op.  The bunny that wandered past our garage the day before didn’t stop long enough for that).  We ended the day with some meat on the grill, the remains of a bottle of chardonnay, and a bit of knitting in the last few sunbeams of the day.

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Hope everyone else had an equally good weekend!