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Changing It Up - Week One

August 3, 2009
Run #17
5:30 p.m.
Route: Uvic trail
Intervals: 30 sec runs, 2 min walks.

Notes: Started a new program today. I’ve been reading Runner’s World Book of Beginning Running and decided to try their 24 week program for new runners who are more than 20 pounds overweight. The first week is on the easy side for me, which is nice for a bit of a break, but it will quickly ramp up to the same total amount of running time I was doing before. Both the run and walk intervals are shorter, so there are many more of them. The running time will increase each week, while the walk time remains the same and eventually decreases. Also, this program includes 4 runs per week, 2 days of walking, and one day of rest. The book has arranged the days so that there are runs on both Friday and Saturday, but Friday is a bad day for me to fit a run in, so I’m moving the two days in a row to Monday and Tuesday. Wish me luck on week one!
Total time: 41 mins

August 4, 2009
Run #18
7:00 p.m.
Route: Uvic trail
Intervals: 30 sec runs, 2 min walks

Notes: This is the first time I’ve run two days in a row. It really wasn’t too bad, except my legs were griping a bit towards the end. I also made the mistake of going all the way around the trail instead of my usual halfway out and turn deal. I ended up with an extra 10 minute walk back to the car (I got bored and actually ran about a minute of that even though my run intervals were done). Good thing I’ve got a rest day tomorrow – nothing more strenuous than my usual walk to and from work.
Total time: 50 mins

August 6, 2009
Run #19
6:00 p.m.
Route Uvic Trail
Intervals: 30 sec runs, 2 min walks

Notes: Note to self: do not run on an empty stomach – you will, I repeat, WILL, run out of steam. And I did too. Today I ate about a 500 calorie lunch at noon, then walked 20 mins to work, had a nectarine at 3:30, walked 20 mins home about 5:30, then went straight out for my run. It started off okay, but the last 3 sets of intervals were rough – I felt like a sack of potatoes. So, lesson learned is to carry a snack to have about 5:00 if I’m going to run straight after work.
Total time: 40 mins

August 8, 2009
Run #20
5:45 p.m.
Route: Uvic trial
Intervals: 30 sec runs, 2 min walks

Notes: As a whole the run was pretty painless (aside from running out of steam near the end…again!). I’m definitely ready to move on to Week 2 and up the running intervals to 1 minute. There were some really cute baby bunnies on the trail tonight. Tomorrow is my rest day, so the adventure continues on Monday. Go me!
Total time: 42 mins


The Thing I Said I Would Never Do

I have done the Thing I Said I Would Never Do. 

Ever. Never ever. 

Throughout my life, I have been willing to walk, swim, cycle, dance, aerobicize, drip sweat on gym equipment, and even crawl on my belly like a reptile, but I would not do the dreaded, evil, most cruel and heinous of physical exercises…run.

As a teenager, P.E. classes that required running were my arch enemy. After such classes, plagued by shin-splints, I would limp off to my next class with a burning red face and limp, frizzy damp hair, scheming up ways to avoid further episodes of torture. I simply couldn’t understand why anyone, anytime, anywhere, would purposely subject themselves to this ridiculous practice.

Then, about three years ago, my psychologist (long story) instructed me to close my eyes and imagine running somewhere, anywhere I could picture clearly in my mind. I recalled enjoying a walk or two on the trail around Beaver Lake, so I used that setting for my imaginary run. As I ran inside my head, he asked me to focus on exactly how it felt…my breathing, sensations in my muscles, the scenery passing by…and much to my amazement, it felt great. According to those mysterious studies, our brains can’t tell the difference between a real memory and an imagined one – a mildly disturbing notion, considering it means that there is a very fine line between delusion and imagination, but it does explain a lot. At any rate, running in real life began to seem like a good idea, and the desire to run has been rattling around in my brain’s storage locker for the last 3 years or so.

“Three years? What’s been the hold up?” you ask. Excellent question. I have been telling my apparently gullible brain that I can’t start running until I lose “X” amount of weight. You guessed, it – my pathetic attempts at dieting have not have not reduced me down to that magical number at which I could begin to run.



I started running 2 days after my 42nd birthday.

This morning I completed my 16th run. Here's how I got there:

Run #1:  Saturday, June 13, 2009, 6:30 p.m. 
Route: Uvic Alumni chip trail (5 k). 
Total time: about an hour
            Parked in the Fraser building parking lot (the meter was broken and I ended up with a stupid “warning” citation). Walked most of it, ran a few one minute intervals.  Felt heavy and sluggish – like I was running with bags of sand loosely fixed to my hips and thighs. The trail sort of disappears at the bus terminal and is tricky to relocate on the North side of the library. Bazillions of bunnies, including half a bazillion babies…cuteness personified.

Run #2: Monday, June 15, 2009, 6:00 p.m.
Route: Uvic chip trail.
Total time: about 50 mins
            Parked in the first lot off the ring. Just ran the southern half of the trail until my intervals ran out. Tried “Couch to 5k intervals – 60 sec run, 90 sec walk until it ended (20ish minutes, I think ended close to the North west corner of the trail), then turned around to walk back to the car – the run was very hard and the walk back was torture. Decided to try different intervals and found an iPod app that I could program myself.

Run #3: Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 5:30 p.m.
Route: St. Charles to Rockland, West on Rockland to Oak Bay, then turn around.
Intervals: 30 sec runs, 4.5 mins walks.
Total time: about 45 mins
            Screwed up the iPod app by accidentally closing it out and wasn’t able to reset it to where I was. Bought my first piece of technical running gear earlier in the day – techie running socks and a baby blue, long-sleeve Adidas top with swishy white trim and silver particle mesh sections to keep me cool and dry – love it.

Run #4: Saturday, June 20, 2009, 8:45 a.m.
Route: Beaver Lake trail (took right hand trail from parking lot).
Intervals: 1 min runs, 4 min walks.
Total time: 45 mins
            Zillions of other runners on the trail. Felt good and accomplished after.

Run #5: Monday, June 22, 2009, 4:45 p.m.
Route: though Stadacona Park and into Fernwood side streets.
Intervals: 1 min runs, 4 min walks.
Total time: 45 mins.
             The hills were a bad idea and my legs didn’t appreciate the pavement. Ended the run with a sharp pain in my left thigh. Decided that running the neighbourhood is a bad idea for now and I would stick to trails.

Run #6: Thursday, June 25, 2009, 6:30 p.m.
Route: Uvic trail.
Intervals: 1 min runs, 4 min walks.
Total time: I forget
             Figured out that I can park for free on Cedar Hill X Road across from the church and get onto the trial from there. Started and finished the run along with 2 twenty-something hard body women. They lapped me a few times as I plodded along. Ran to the end of the trail behind the Fraser parking lot and turned around, timing was just about right after walking an extra loop on the trail near the car. The running was feeling much easier and I was very happy and excited when I was done.

Run #7: Sunday, June 28, 2009, 10:00 a.m.
Route: Uvic trail.
Intervals: 1.5 min runs, 3.5 min walks.
Total time: about 50 mins
             This time I went around the whole loop, which included runs and recovery walks on mild hills. Ugh. The hills were a bad idea and made me work harder than I should be at this point – like gasping for air hard. However, I still had a fair bit of a walk back to the car after I finished the run intervals, and that walk was juuuust fine… a little bouncy even.  Sweet.

Run #8: Wednesday, July 1, 2009, 10:15 a.m.
Route: Beaver Lake, east side.
Intervals 1.5 min runs, 3.5 min walks.
Total time: 42 mins.
             Very hilly on the east side – made a mental note to save that side for late in the week and not days when I up my running time. The first half was a breeze, but during the second half, my legs were griping all over – thighs, calves, shins – this will get easier, right?

Run #9: Saturday, July 04, 2009, 8:30 a.m.
Route: Riverfront Walk, Quesnel, BC.
Intervals 1.5 min runs, 3.5 min walks.
Total time: 55 mins
            Spectacular. Great run. Randy came with and ran as much as he was comfortable. Legs felt better than usual after, but I don’t quite feel ready to up the running time. I’ll do one more day with 1.5 min runs, then bump up to two after that.

Run #10: Monday, July 6 , 2009, 7:15 a.m.
Route: hiking trail on south and east side of Smithers, BC.
Intervals 1.5 min runs, 3.5 min walks.
Total time: 45 mins
            Nice, mostly flat trail. Good run aside from the mosquito bites. The little buggers couldn’t penetrate my high tech running gear though :D . Next run I’ll bump up to 2 mins of running.

Run #11: Friday, July 10, 2009, 5:10 p.m.
Route: treadmill at Prestige Inn, Golden, BC.
Intervals 1.5 min runs, 3.5 min walks.
Total time: 42 mins.
             You read that right – no bump. Since I let 3 days pass since my last run, I thought I’d stick to the status quo. I probably won’t bump now until I get back to Victoria. I really liked the treadmill, though. Boring scenery in the 8 x 8 “fitness centre,” but it was cool to be able to monitor my pace, heart rate, and incline during the run. May have to sell the elliptical and replace it with a treadmill for home.

Run #12: Wednesday, July 15, 6:00 p.m.
Route: Uvic trail.
Intervals 1.5 min runs, 3.5 min walks.
Total time: 45 mins.
            Woke up with a cold on Saturday morning, but was feeling better enough to give it a go today.  The run was fine – not easy, not hard. Listened to a podcast instead of music, which was better for passing the time, I think. Hopefully I’ll be back in regular rhythm soon and can finally get up to 2 min runs.

Run #13: Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 9:00 a.m.
Route: West side of Beaver Lake.
Intervals 2 min runs, 3 min walks.
Total time: 45 mins.
            A friend told me how to by-pass the hilly part on the west side, and since I’m finally recovered from my cold (after a mild bought of laryngitis on the weekend), I went for the new intervals. It was hard work, but not nearly as bad I thought it would be.  And the really cool part was that my legs didn’t hurt at all during or after. Although my thighs were a bit stiff by the time I got home in the car. I’m raring to go for the next run on Friday morning and then Sunday night after I take Jess back to Duncan.

Run #14: Friday, July 24, 2009, 9:00 a.m.
Route: Uvic trail.
Intervals 2 min runs, 3 min walks.
Total time: about 45 mins.
            Cardio was good, but my legs were KILLING me. I guess they didn’t get enough recovery time between runs. The main problem this time was so much sweat running into my eyes that they were stinging. It’s hard to run with your eyes closed, but sweatbands are so very dorky, aren’t they?

Run #15: Monday, July 27, 6:00 p.m.
Route: Uvic trail.
Intervals 2 min runs, 3 min walks.
Total time: 44 mins.
            Okay, we’re having a heat wave and I’m running at pretty much the hottest time of day. I did my best to stay under the trees (and started carrying a towel to mop up the waterfall which was my face), which included an excursion into the “Mystic Vale.” What I didn’t realize was that the vale drops about 50 steps down to a creek. I didn’t balk however, just carried on exploring the area, which resulted in traversing up and down said stairs…twice. My lungs were cranky, but lo and behold, the legs were fine. After I got home, I didn’t stop sweating for about 20 mins (my apartment is an oven in the heat).

Run #16: Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 8:00 a.m.
Route: Uvic trail.
Intervals 2 min runs, 3 min walks.
Total time: 43 mins.
            Tried to beat the heat by getting out early today…it started out cooler, but was already heating up by the latter half. I also may be out of commission for several days due to a little hospital thing I have to have done this afternoon, so I thought I’d best get a run in while I can. The cardio was pretty good and the legs were a bit sore and tired, but not unbearably so. I think I could up my running time, but I’ll have to wait and see how my recovery goes. Remarkably, I am starting to feel just a smidge more fit than before I began this adventure, but the weight could start dropping off anytime soon.

Off Their Rockers - (movie review)

            Picture your grandmother sitting at the kitchen table, content as can be with a hot cup of tea and a crossword puzzle. Now picture her center-stage, basking in the bright heat of a spot light, leaning on her cane and brazenly delivering suggestively raunchy lyrics like “It’s always tease, tease, tease / You’re happy when I’m on my knees” to a hooting, whistling, captivated audience.

Grandma? Headlining a punk rock band?


Try telling that to 92-year-old Eileen Hall, lead singer for the Young at Heart Chorus’ rendition of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” and one of the two dozen or so stereo-type pulverising subjects of director Stephen Walker’s documentary “Young@Heart,” which offers up boundless evidence to support the adage that age is just a state of mind.

Walker, who also narrates the film, is a director and producer of television programs in the UK and was initially repulsed by the idea of someone’s great-great-great grandmother warbling out almost certainly watered-down arrangements of tunes recorded by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, the Bee Gees, Bob Dylan, Coldplay, and more. But after his wife, in his own words, “dragged [him] kicking and screaming” to one of the Young at Hearts’ performances during their 2005 “Road to Nowhere” tour, he couldn’t resist travelling stateside to the chorus’ home town of Northampton, Massachusetts to chronicle this compelling and extraordinary chorus’ story.

Considering the film won the Audience award at its debut at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, and the same award in Atlanta in 2008, as well as securing a Golden Rose in the art documentary category at the Rose d’Or Light Entertainment Festival, it would seem that audiences on both sides of the Atlantic are equally fascinated with Walker’s delivery of this life-affirming narrative.

The film opens with teasers from the final performance, jumps back seven weeks, and then tracks forward through a roller-coaster rehearsal process culminating in an astoundingly moving concert.   As rehearsals begin, Walker reinforces the stereotypical perception of old-age-pensioners by toggling between one-on-one interviews of the would-be rock stars in their natural environments, tidy apartments loaded with doilies and knick-knacks, and eliciting expected responses about their musical preferences (Mozart, opera, The Sound of Music),  and their initial reactions as they listen to their band and chorus director, Bob Cilman, perform the song list – eye-rolling, face scrunching, and packing tissues in their ears. As the singers struggle and flounder during the first couple run-throughs, we’re left wondering why they seem so motivated and determined. 

Much of their motivation seems to come from Cilman, who forgoes any type of kid-glove treatment and, while he clearly respects them, doesn’t believe in molly-coddling simply because they are old.  When they suck, they hear about it – Cilman pulls no punches. However, the respect is mutual and despite one singer’s depiction of Cilman as a man who “chews nails and spits rust,” they undoubtedly appreciate being treated like vital, capable, intelligent human beings. One of the side effects of watching this film is a strong desire to see this type of program implemented in every senior’s center across North America, yet, unfortunately, we only get sound-bites from Cilman throughout the film, which leaves many unanswered questions about his background,   song choices (which are clearly not arbitrary – they all follow the same themes about aging, life, and the hereafter)  or philosophy about the power of music as an analgesic or perhaps even an ersatz fountain of youth.   

To emphasize his “old is as old does” message, Walker intersperses short and playful rock-video-style pieces throughout the film. The Ramones, “I Wanna Be Sedated,” provides self-mocking satire of never-ending doctor and hospital visits. Dressed to the nines with nubile “hotties” draped over their arms, the octogenarian “boys” playfully assert their sexuality while singing the disco hit, “Stayin’ Alive.”  David Bowie’s “Golden Years” sends fearless seniors on hot-air balloon and amusement park rides – activities usually reserved for the young. Walker pulls off these sequences without flashy gimmicks or computer generated images, and the actors, while delightfully unselfconscious, never lose their dignity.

The film is laced with subtle reminders that the subjects are ominously nearing the end of their earthly tenures. Many outdoor shots are taken from a moving vehicle and capture images of late winter New England with its mix of bare branches and goldenrod-leaved deciduous trees. These travelling sequences suggest a road-trip feel while reminding us that the stars of this show live in retirement-friendly, tidy, symmetrical houses with freshly painted shutters. Both dramatic and flattering, as well as symbolic, gold filters or white natural light are often applied during in-home interviews. Cleverly situated near blinding window light, chorus member Jean Florio recounts her near death experience and jokes about telling the “white light” to leave her alone because her time wasn’t up yet. Walker ensures that Fred Knittle’s oxygen tubes are always visible, and he frequently accompanies chorus members to the hospital to demonstrate their tenacity in the face of fear. Joe Benoit, while patiently and optimistically enduring a blood transfusion, explains, “That’s what my life is now – singing.”  While Bob Cilman chooses to outfit his chorus in casual and contemporary white shirts and jeans, the members are still surrounded with reminders that while the mind may be willing, the body eventually becomes weak.

Many scenes are equally emotionally wrenching as they are uplifting. A few weeks before the big show, the singers file onto a public school bus heading to their warm-up performance at Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction. Immediately after settling into their seats, they are the recipients of some devastating news. However, once more, their maturity in the face of adversity, and determination that the “show must go on,” fails to deter anyone from delivering anything less than a stellar performance. And stellar it is. Faced with an intimidating gathering of dozens of convicts sprawled on a grassy embankment, the group opens with an energetic rendition of “Dancing in the Dark” and their energy is visibly infectious. But the highlight of the performance, and the piece that brings the prisoners both to tears and to their feet, is a poignant arrangement of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” Trust me…have a fresh box of Kleenex handy for this one.

By opening night, the mixed sense of anticipation and trepidation is palpable. But whether they are captivating the crowd with an exquisitely earnest Coldplay ballad, or bringing the house down with their signature song, the Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere” (the same song plays over the final credits of Bill Maher’s recently released documentary, “Religulous,” which questions the sanity of believing in the absolute existence of an afterlife), the Young at Heart Chorus will have imbedded themselves into your heart and mind. Stephen Walker’s eye-opening film reminds us that as the baby-boomer generation ages, they will find unorthodox means to avoid settling into the usual afghan-knitting, bridge-playing, game show-watching golden-agers we’re accustomed to, and they won’t stand for being type-cast or marginalized. None of us should.

Wireless Walls

             Sometime in June 2007, a co-worker sent me an email invitation to sign-up with a social-networking website called “Facebook.” Co-incidentally, about a week before this, I heard a CBC Radio program panel discussing the positives and negatives of Facebook and its cyber-culture phenomenon status. The panel’s consensus on the merit of social-networking sites seemed to fall somewhere between shameful spying and harmless fun. The idea of connecting and re-connecting with friends and family from the comfort of my couch appealed to me, and besides, if CBC condoned it, then it must be kosher. So, without further ado, I clicked on the link provided in the email, set up a profile, and began searching for people from my past and present. At first it was just as the CBC panellists had described: compelling, entertaining, fascinating, and more than a smidge addictive.  However, once the novelty wore off (which, disturbingly, took more than a year) and I was fully immersed in Facebook culture, I began to be troubled by consequences of this convenient new mode of sharing and connection.  I found myself communicating in sound-bite-size blurbs and wasting valuable time replying to afterthought notes and trivial messages from people I barely knew, while making little effort to spend real face time with anyone on my so-called “Friends” list. As opposed to virtual ones, real friendships cannot be cultivated through one-line status updates or mouse-clicks; they require our personal time and energy. Our growing dependence on breezy, effort-free cyber communication seems to be shifting our focus from nurturing quality relationships to collecting people like trophies.

For many of us, making new friends is challenging and keeping them is time consuming. Facebook’s database of over 100 million users makes populating your Friends list gratifyingly painless. Simply spend a week or so obsessively filling the search box with the name of every person you have ever met. Then send each one a friend request and wait for them to accept, which they almost invariably do (after all, what human being with a soul can say no when asked, “Will you be my friend?”). Repeat the process until you have at least 100 names in your Friends list, because any lower number means you are probably over 40, or worse, unpopular. However, popularity, while it may indicate admiration, doesn’t necessarily equal love. A friend of a friend recently broke up with his live-in girlfriend.  The girlfriend, whose apartment said friend had moved into, asked him to leave – pronto. Sadly, despite having over 200 Facebook friends, he found himself with nowhere to go.  He explained to my astonished friend that he didn’t feel close enough to any of those 200 people to warrant a couch-surf request. In fact, his only offer came from someone who needed a house-sitter, someone with whom he had once had a close relationship but who wasn’t on his Facebook list, his ex-wife. Perhaps this story supports the adage that the more we have of something the less valuable it becomes. A single dollar to a person who has only twenty is far more significant than that same dollar in the hands of a billionaire.

Facebook does have its virtues. For instance, it has proven to be a valuable tool for tracking down and reconnecting with long lost friends.  I recently received an email from a former high school chum with whom I regularly caroused for a few years after graduation. I even lived in her home with her parents during a brief separation from my then boyfriend (who eventually earned the dubious honour of being my first husband). We lost touch around the time I married and she was ecstatic to find me again. Actually, she was ecstatic to find anyone because she lives on a sparsely populated island off the north coast of Vancouver Island, and Facebook, she realized, offered a link to the rest of the world. However, despite the convenience and low cost of communicating through the Internet, one of the first things she wanted was my phone number so she could hear my voice. I was equally keen to make the trip to see her, her husband and two children, and to thank her parents in person for putting up with my 19-year-old insanity so many years ago. After enduring a 4-year long-distance relationship, I can tell you that nothing...and I mean nothing...compares to the electric experience of eye-contact or the warm, mushy joy of a long-overdue hug. Study after study has shown that human beings need human contact to thrive. Last month, two Utah universities published the results of a study that verified that non-sexual affection between spouses significantly lowered their blood pressure and reduced levels of stress hormones. Science has proven it – hugs are healthy. Virtual hugs may be cute, but I doubt they will keep anyone out of the hospital.

Before my epiphany about human connection shifted my perception of Facebook, my embarrassingly small Friends page cajoled me into searching for and adding people I had merely a cursory curiosity about: elementary school classmates whose faces I barely remembered, my first husband, my rebound boyfriend after said first husband, my apartment building manager’s wife, my favourite junior-high school English teacher, a high school English teacher I never even had, and, of course, several of my current co-workers whom I see on an almost daily basis.  By doing so, I managed to boost my number into the relatively respectable mid-thirties. Still, compared to most users, I was playing in the minor leagues, yet nonetheless, my self-esteem went up. Then, about three weeks ago, a close friend, who is precariously on the verge of being a whole generation older than I,  and whom I will henceforth refer to as the “Sceptic,” reluctantly created his own Facebook profile for the purpose of staying in touch with his university-bound daughters. After accepting my friend request, the Sceptic proceeded to inspect my profile pages like a mother-in-law running her white-gloved finger over every surface, searching for dirt. Apparently he found some on my Friends page.  The Sceptic was stunned that I willingly invited ex-husbands and former school teachers into my daily life. I defensively and adamantly declared that having Facebook friends was harmless (remember – CBC said so). Besides, I posted nothing in my profile that I wouldn’t happily tell any one of them if I encountered them on the street.  He gently countered that bumping into someone on the street is not the same as letting them camp out in your front yard with the drapes wide open and all the lights on. He suggested that I test my connection to each person on my list by asking myself if I would call that person daily or even weekly to update them on my activities, and if not, then why do so through the computer? Much to my chagrin, I began to see his point, and smugly, like an alcoholic in denial, I declared that I would happily apply his test and without a second thought delete anyone who didn’t pass. And I did delete most of them.  However, unlike shaking a chemical addiction, it was easy – perhaps too easy.  As it turns out, losing those contacts didn’t make much, if any, difference to my life. If anything, with fewer looky-loos, I’m less self-conscious about sharing openly on my profile; plus, I’ve re-gained the hours I spent prying into the lives of people that have little impact on mine.   In the “real” world, it would be considered heinous to shut someone out of your life with no explanation. In the cyber world, it’s business as usual. 

Through social-networking websites like Facebook, we can bring someone into our lives with the click of a button and remove them just as coldly and easily. We can surreptitiously eavesdrop on our friends, family, and acquaintances, and mostly feel no more connected to them than we do to the photographs in a glossy celebrity magazine. Each of us has a limited amount of emotional energy and attempting to share that energy with hundreds of people is like trying to make a dozen sandwiches with a thimble-full of peanut butter. The next time I feel the urge to connect with a friend, I’m going to forgo Facebook and pick up the phone book instead.

Lion Brand redeemed (I suppose)

Okay, here's Lion Brand's response to my email:

"The contest, run by another company, determined winners  based on a) a selection by Lion Brand of 5 of our favorites and b) the most viewed items and c) one random item.  Unfortunately, one of the ones we did not select was the gun and we agree, that this was an unfortunate result.  We apologize that this and in the future would avoid a situation where a design that would be offensive to our loyal customers could be included in a contest.

With Warm Regards,

Ilana Rabinowitz

Lion Brand Yarn Company"

I suppose I'm somewhat happy with that, but I'm still hoping that they will make a public announcement on their website regarding this issue.

I'll keep you posted if I see anything further.

Lion Brand boycott

I am extremely upset with Lion Brand Yarns this morning.  While perusing their latest email newsletter, I came across a link to the winners of their recent slideshow contest on Instructables.com.

This disturbing monstrosity was one of the winners:

Here's the link to the slideshow complete with some equally disturbing viewer comments:


I don't know about how you all will feel about this, but I am so disappointed that a big company like Lion Brand would have the unmitigated nerve to promote an item like this.  I bet they'd never give an award to a "penis cozy" despite the fact that it's a far less offensive project (in my eyes at least).

Unless Lion Brand publicly and sincerely apologizes for this,  I will not be purchasing their yarn  again.  I have already sent them an email relating my feelings and intentions.  If you moved to do so, I hope you will join me.

Cheers, Nicole

Knit store ideas - more brain-picking

Hey all.  I had a few hours to come for air this afternoon, so I finally responded properly to the "Yarn store" thread contributors.  And, no, I haven't made it down to the Button and Needlework Boutique to check out their yarn stock.  I know the owners, Kim and Mike, very well...in fact since their very beginning days in a corner of Satin Moon Quilt shop.  They are, indeed, lovely and helpful and enthusiastic.  I will head in to chat with them soon and see what their plans are.

In the meantime, a few more questions for you:

1.  Location, location, location....what say you all?  Close to town?  Away from town?  Easy and perhaps, free, parking?  Into which area of town are you least likely to venture?  Or would you travel over hill and dale for the right store?  How much does convenience factor in for you?

2.  (the big one) Yarn.  What kinds of projects do you knit most? Socks, scarves and shawls, sweaters, baby/kid things, pets, gifts, accessories?  And what types of yarn do you prefer?  Natural fibres, prints, solids, hand-dyes?  What brands?  What would you like to be able to buy locally that you can't get now?

We'll talk books, patterns, and magazines on another occasion.

Now, dilemma time.  I have so many projects on the go right now, it could make a flea's head spin.  And so what have I done?  I have joined the "Sexy Knitter's Club" who have just started a knit-along of the oh so fabuloso project below: Bella Paquita.  (free pattern, by the by here: http://marniemaclean.com/patterns/BellaPaquita/index.html )

So, do I dare? And do I dare?  ( a little J. Alfred Prufrock there for you English majors)

What say you?  To yummy to pass up, methinks.

What type of yarn are you?

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!

Knitting resolutions

Here we are - January again.  Time to think about being a better person this year...well...at least a better knitter.  Okay...more organized knitter anyway.

Resolution:  to finish my UFOs and use up at least half my stash before buying new yarn.  Phew. Did I actually say that out loud? It's going to be a tall order considering I received a lovely Beehive gift certificate for Xmas.  I suppose I can employ the gift cert as my carrot in this case.

Here's some other cute stuff I got for Xmas from selfknitter who also happens to be a close relation of mine.

These are tiny 1" high sheepies.  Way cute, absolutely useless, but super lovable!

These are really really tiny sheepy stitch markers. Each one is about fingernail size. Don't you love the black one?

This is a simply fab sheepy tote that selfknitter made just pour moi.  She needlefelted the sheep on the front. It has a side pocket too!  Right now it's full of natural wool yarn to make the Lambchop pattern (remember Shari Lewis and Lambchop?)  she also found for me. 

  How cute is she?

Here's my Cowichan Teddy Sweater:

    and back

The pattern is a freebie from Interweave: http://www.knittingdaily.com/freepatterns/christmas_holiday/250-1.html 

The teddy and sweater went to my mummy's extensive teddy collection. : - )

Hope everyone had a happy holiday!

School starts in two hours!  Yikes! Gotta go...

Cheers, Nicole

Need your knitter's opinion

So, here's the deal...I'm beginning a business plan for the ultimate yarn store. 

I know what kind of features, policies, and environment would make up MY dream store. 

I have many many cool ideas, but I need to know how YOU feel.  After all my dream store is not all about me - it's all about you!

What do like about your LYS?  What don't you like?  What works and what's missing?

Do you prefer to buy your yarn from the Internet?  If so, why?

I want to create a space that invites, entices, and inspires. 

I want to employ people who encourage, inspire, and go beyond the call of duty - every time. 

This is your chance to help create the yarn store of YOUR dreams...

Cheers, Nicole