Back in the spring I had this grand idea that by fall, it would be safe enough to travel to Montreal for a short vacation. Take my journals and cameras, stay in a fancy hotel downtown, grab a drink with friends around the corner at Brutopia, sit in parcs and catch up, whatever.
Of course, COVID is still here, not enough people are vaccinated, and though the risk to myself is small, I didn’t want to be an unwitting vector to the vulnerable populations of the city, so I cancelled. Alas.
Part of my plan was to knit a cute sweater to wear as the weather got cooler. While it’s been delayed, it hasn’t been cancelled outright, and I am almost done. Almost.
I’m now seaming while streaming my favourite genetics conference… to recreate the authentic genetics conference experience (I have finished sweaters at a variety of genetics meetings). Mattress stitch is time-consuming but requires little frontal lobe use, so ideal for these situations:
Oh, and this is also my first Custom Fit pattern–I’m very keen to see if it actually fits! It might be a little tight in the upper arms since I’ve gotten in much better shape since I started, but perhaps I can block the sleeves aggressively.
Am I blogging again? I think I’m blogging again. Living life like it’s 2005!
This has nothing to do with fibre arts, but rather my main gig, which is genetic counseling. And the teaching of GC students. Why here? Well, I own the domain, and given all the problems with Medium and Substack and whatnot, I thought I might as use this site that is currently (honestly) not being used for much else. So here we go.
This is a series of recommended readings for GCs and students, and aspiring GCs, and anyone else interested in the intersection of genetics and literature. It’s going to be an unorthodox collection–you won’t find Middlesex, or the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, or anything by Jodi Picoult (who ends up on these reading lists with My Sister’s Keeper, usually). It will reflect my own taste in fiction and essay writing, and therefore is likely to be a bit weird at times. I’d also encourage you to purchase these recommendations from your local indie bookseller, or read them via your local library.
Are you ready?
The first piece in this series is Danielle Evans‘ “Happily Ever After,” which opens her new short story collection The Office of Historical Corrections. Lyssa, the main character, works in a Titanic-themed party venue and is grieving the loss of her mother, who died from what seems to be an HBOC-related cancer. Don’t get too hung up on the details, or trying to figure out exactly what syndrome she had–this is the kind of thing that it makes it impossible to teach The Death of Ivan Ilyich to physicians, who are wont to ignore the literary aspects in favour of arguing about whether the symptoms are more suggestive of stomach or pancreatic cancer.
Evans is a skilled writer. The absurdity of the Titanic-themed venue isn’t played for laughs but is another part of Lyssa’s reality, which also includes the absurdity–and desperation, and unfairness–of what she as a young Black woman must do to advocate for medical care for her mother. After the story ended, this paragraph stuck with me, and has for weeks:
“There was always something they wouldn’t tell everybody, and she wanted to be told, which meant she had to look like a real person to them, like a person whose mother deserved to live, like someone who loved somebody. Whatever information they weren’t going to give her, whatever medicine they didn’t bother trying on Black women, she would have to ask to get, would have to ask for directly so that it went in the file if they refused, but ask for without seeming stupid or possessive or cold. She would have to be poised and polite through her frustration, which, thankfully, retail had prepared her for. Tell me what you would tell a white woman, her face said. A white woman with money, her clothes said.”
The whole collection is worth reading. If you want a taste of Evans’ brilliance, check out the devastating “Anything Could Disappear” available for free at Electric Lit.
Thirteen years ago I took up an offer from a little shop in Montreal called Ariadne Knits (may she rest in peace) to come and teaching some spinning classes (the yarn kind, not the crazy people on stationary bikes). I remember that first trip well, the train from Ottawa (including the nervousness as the train slowed down past the Farine Five Roses sign and past the old decrepit Dow Brewery brewery building and how I was reviewing my class notes over and over, never having really formally taught before, and then the train arrived in the station and I pulled my bag out of the car and was off on this new adventure), the whirlwind delight of the first class, a long walk down Laurier in the orange snow-light of evening to my accommodations in the Plateau, the friends I made, how it would all lead to more teaching, future stays and a close friendship with one of the owners of Ariadne (and an unexpected fondness for the most unlikely of Montreal neighbourhoods, NDG), adventures further afield, a career change, then another, then in Toronto and teaching here, then teaching as a career albeit at a very different capacity (graduate level, clinical field) but that same delight, that same joy in teaching and accepting adventures (and job offers) as they come.
And how I miss it all so much now, the friends who have left Montreal, the ability to travel back to that city on a lark (saying fuck it, let’s get in the car and GO somewhere, pre-pandemic), meeting strangers, seeing friends, ending up in a parc somewhere on a blanket under blue sky
Welcome to my moribund blog! I hear blogs are dead anyway, but since this site seems to provide useful information (especially about spinning wheels from Quebec), I’ve decided to leave it be for a while longer.
I hear all the cool kids are at Medium or Substack or something, but I still post a lot of fibre arts content on Instagram (mitoticspindle) as well as some of my film photography (frontoparietal).
Or maybe I’ll reanimate this into something new. In a few days, or months.
Along withthe great folks at Common People Shop, I’ll be hosting a learn-to-spin workshop on October 21 from 1-3pm. No experience necessary, and you’ll go home with your own drop spindle and your first handspun yarn(s)! Register here, and comment if you have any questions.
If you know me, then you know that I rarely knit with a) synthetic fibres, and b) chunky yarns. And yet, when the lovely people (truly, they are a great team of folks!) at Yarn Canada contacted me and asked if I’d like to try a new synthetic chunky/bulky yarn, who was I to say no? I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked their last offer (and even have ended up buying more), so I was happy to take them up on the offer again. They gave me my choice of colours in Bernat’s new Baby Blanket Stripes yarn, and I went with Above the Clouds. A couple of weeks later, and I had three monster cakes of the stuff in a box at my door.
Essentially it’s a machine-washable polyester chenille, in a self-striping colour way and as the name implies, intended to be used for baby blankets. First I had to dig through my needle stash to see if I had anything large enough, but some US 11s (8mm in Canadian sizing) showed themselves and I cast on with a free pattern provided by Yarn Canada.
You know, as much as I like knitting with finer yarns, there is a real instant gratification factor with a chunky yarn. Knitting goes FAST. Well, faster… I’ll admit I’m still not done the blanket yet, though my cats (or perhaps a new baby in my circle of friends; I’m at that age…) will no doubt appreciate the finished product.
I also am finding the experience of knitting with it quite pleasant–I tend to associate syntheticyarn with squeakiness (a trade-off for the fact that you can punish it with machine washing), but it’s not bad. I’m also very impressed with the lack of shedding or pilling, which can be a real issue with chenille yarns.
The colours are nice and they have some good gender-neutral choices in addition to your standard blues and pinks. One aspect I don’t like is the colour changes–they are abrupt and the different colours are quite obviously and sloppily sewn together with white thread. It doesn’t end upshowing in the blanket I’m knitting but I would expect a bit better quality in that regard for the price (takes about $35 worth of yarn for a baby blanket).
Will I knit with this again? Likely not, given my yarn proclivities, but if you do like quick projects, chunky yarn, and the ability to machine wash your finished object, you’d probably like this yarn. It’s soft, sturdy, and cute. Check out the full line here.
See something you like? Send me an email: lordal (at) gmail (dot) com. Prices are in USD and I accept PayPal, Venmo, and Interac e-transfers.
‘Sugarplum’ — I’m not sure about the yardage but likely at least 700-800 yards, light fingering-laceweight, pure Merino wool (same source as Malabrigo yarn). $60 + shipping. Patterns using this weight/amount of yarn.
‘Mirkwood’ — approximately 190 yards (split between two skeins) of gradient-dyed wool, worsted weight. Colours gradually shift throughout the yarn. $40 + shipping. Patterns using this amount/weight of yarn. SOLD