Two of the blogs I read had this title last week. The funniest part was that the posts both appeared on the same day, and just happened to appear consecutively in my Bloglines. A sign? Maybe not. But a title, at least.

So. November, eh? Well, a lot of things have happened since November. Most of them were good. Some of them were pretty okay. And one was fucking devastating. This isn’t a personal blog so I don’t really want to get into it, but it’s important to me and I think about it pretty much every day with fresh shock and disbelief, so I don’t feel like I can come back without saying anything about it. My dad’s best friend died suddenly and unexpectedly from a massive brain tumour a few days after I posted my last entry. I don’t know or can’t remember most of the medical details, but he’d been suffering headaches for a few weeks, put it down to work stress/travel fatigue and basically ignored it until his wife marched him to Emergency. He was admitted that evening and died just over a week later. His funeral was on Remembrance Day and fuck yes he will be remembered. Robert was more than family to us, and more awesome than most people I’ve ever known. His kids are very close in age to both me and my brother, and we all grew up together even though we only saw each other a couple of times a year. The whole family is awesome and supertight, and I know I can’t even imagine how they feel. Sometimes I’ll sort of start daydreaming about summers at the cottage or skiing or whatever, and I’ll remember suddenly and all over again that he’s gone, and it hits me exactly the same way it did the first time I heard the news. The funeral was standing room only. He will be sorely missed.

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But life doesn’t always give you much of a chance to grieve. We all travelled down the lake for the funeral, and when we got back I started working for real and for serious on my final research paper (you know, the one I’ve been warning you not to ask about since the summer). I pretty much moved into the basement, spread my papers out and rigged up an enormous corkboard to pin ideas to. I entered the dungeon around 9 every morning and crawled back into bed around midnight every night. Getting to go upstairs to pee was a break, nay, a treat; something to look forward to. Grant fixed me lunch, cooked me dinner and cleared up every day. More importantly, he encouraged me to get started, to keep going, and to believe in myself. He drove with me to Ottawa during a huge snowstorm to hand it in. I owe him everything. I owe him my Mastery of Rock!

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Because Master of Rock sounds way more awesome than Master of Canadian Studies. It’s my degree and I get to call it what I want on my blog (as opposed to on my CV!)

But that was only the beginning of December. A few days after we drove to Ottawa, we flew to Scotland to have Christmas with Grant’s sister, her Geordie husband and their Thomas The Tank Engine-obsessed 2 1/2 year old son. And my camera died soon after we got there, so these blurry pics are really the only ones I have of the trip:

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Grant at the Christmas Market in Edinburgh

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Grant and Sam enjoying fresh mini doughnuts. mmmm lard

Christmas was pretty fun, especially since we all clubbed together and got our brother-in-law Guitar Hero III! Grant and I immediately decided we must now buy a Wii and also every piece of music-performance-related software available. This might mean saving up for awhile. A loooooooong while. But good things come to those who wait, right?

Speaking of waiting and good things…I do have knitting content.

I knit one of the two hats in the picture above. Unfortunately, it was not Sam’s supercool Ming The Merciless helmet (you can’t really see it in this pic, but the brim comes to a tiny peak in the middle of his forehead. I covet this hat). Grant’s hat is the Marsan Watchcap, knit with almost 2 whole skeins of Noro Kureyon (dude has a bigass head, and he wanted a wide flip-up brim. But he wears it lots and lots, so it’s okay). Here’s a slightly better picture of it:

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Even when he’s looking cute, there’s still more than a hint of smarm. Just how I like ’em.

Grant’s hat was the last thing I knit before I put everything on hold for my paper. Which means I didn’t have a hat for myself when we went to Edinburgh. So, of course, I had to make myself one:
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It’s Grumperina’s Odessa, but to make it nice and warm I did lifted increases in place of yarn-overs. The rest is pretty well exactly to pattern, except where I missed out a single bead in the second beaded row. It’s the one mistake that makes it perfect, right? Even I have to really search for it when I’m putting it on (because, of course, the mistake goes to the back!). Nothing but glowing praise for this pattern!

The yarn was a yay-you-did-it! treat for myself: Handmaiden 4-ply Cashmere from The Naked Sheep in the Beaches. I can tell that it’s going to bag a wee bit, but since I made it the tiniest bit too tight for just this reason, it shouldn’t be a problem. Here’s a slightly closer-up shot of the hat:

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As you can see in the background, it’s been pretty green here for awhile now. I’d been putting off FO photoshoots until we got some nice white to shoot against, but the few flurries we’d been getting always blew away so I finally just went ahead and took pictures. Of course, today I woke up to snow-covered everything, but whatev, Trev. Maybe now I won’t feel so silly going out in my mittens:

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I started these in Edinburgh out of some Rowan Tapestry (a wool/soy mix) that I grabbed at the John Lewis department store in Glasgow. I just wanted to make something superfast to cover my hands. Well, I didn’t end up finishing these guys until a couple of days ago, so so much for the bum’s rush. Now I wish I’d done something a little more ambitious, like cables or tone-on-tone colourwork or something, but here we are. I’m not the hugest fan of the yarn anyhow, but they’ll do for what they’re for. Anyway, I probably wouldn’t have had enough yardage to make anything but what I made. Since I was just improvising these guys, I didn’t know how much yarn I’d need for each mitt. In the end, I had to unpick the first mitt’s cuff to finish off the second mitt. Here’s how much I had left over:

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Yeah. Not a whole lot. Hooray for spit-splicing, I probably wouldn’t have made it without it!

Grant says the pointy tips make my hands look like flippers, but I like the roominess of them. I hate the feeling of too-small mitts with my hands slightly bowed inside; these guys give my middle finger lots of breathing space. Anyway, I have much bigger hand-covering plans a-brewin. Actually, it is pretty much exactly the same idea another blogger I just spent ten fruitless minutes searching for had: a pair of fingerless gloves with an extra-long finger section that can be folded back when you need to use your fingers, or flipped down when you want to keep them warm. Seriously, I thought of it one evening, really loved the idea, and then the NEXT MORNING checked my Bloglines to see the EXACT IDEA in a FO shot! I mean, it’s not a genius or revolutionary idea, and I certainly never intended to patent it or anything, but I still think it was a pretty funny coincidence. They were even cabled down the back of the hand and everything! The cables were slightly different than the ones I had in mind, tho. I envisioned Sweet Sheep’s Evangeline gloves from the winter MagKnits as the base, and I keep pawing through my little stash to see if I have something suitable. I still haven’t decided if I need to go shopping yet.

Okay, one more FO on parade and then I’m going to close the gates. Like most of the projects in this post, I started this in Edinburgh (we were there for almost three weeks, okay? And Edinbugh pretty much closes down for a week over Christmas and Hogmanay) It’s a toque for my dad that I sort of made up as I went along (a familiar tune here at knittingmixtapes). But I think it turned out looking pretty pretty good:

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Denny wound the wool for me when I bought it at Lettuce Knit, so of course I’ve lost the tag by now. It’s a thick, single-ply pure wool that I think really helps the cables pop just enough to admire them, but not so much that you’re all like, “whoa, cables!” The wool is a bit scratchy, but I also made a cashmere liner for it it’s nice and soft on my dad’s bald head. It’s also not pointy on my dad’s head the way it is on mine (my head is not quite big enough to make a perfect model, but here we are).

It’s basically half a Marsan Watchcap with a Saxon Braid stuck to the bottom of it. This hat also represents my very first go at cables, which are dead easy and very fun to work. I provisionally cast on, then knit a few repeats of the Saxon Braid cable (I got my instructions from the Samus cardigan) and grafted the ends together when I thought I’d done enough (the cables don’t quite match up seamlessly, but it’s good enough in this hairy yarn that you really have to hunt for the seam) Then I picked up a bunch of stitches for the rest of it, knit a twisted rib pattern, and shaped the crown like in the Marsan Watchcap pattern. Finally, with the Handmaiden 4 ply Cashmere (a much, much finer yarn than the grey wool) I picked up some stitches at the bottom of the brim and knit a liner for it at a very loose gauge (I picked up the stitches with some 4.25mm dpns, then switched to 5mm dpns about a half-inch in, and ended up knitting most of the liner with a 6mm circular. I switched back to the 5mm dpns for the crown shaping).

It’s the tiniest bit tight on my dad’s head (I knit most of it while we were on different continents, so although I measured his skull before I started, it was a bit of a crossed-fingers situation), but the wool and the cashmere will likely stretch out a bit with wear. The cables are nice and warm on his ears, and the looser-knit crown should allow plenty of air circulation, which is important as this hat is destined to be a ski toque!

I’d definitely knit it again, which is saying a lot as I very rarely choose to re-knit things I’ve already made (which, I guess, is where Second Sock/Mitt Syndrome comes from). The first time I started the body/crown knitting, I tried it in plain stockinette, but I thought it looked too feminine so I switched to an exaggerated rib for some manliness. If I reknit this for myself, I’d probably stick with the stockinette, although you could also get creative and stick something like an Odessa swirl on the top! We’ll see. Right now I’m pretty happy with my straight-up Odessa, but you can never have too many lovely handknit hats, right?

Aaaaaaaaaand I’m spent. There is more to say and to see, but they will have to wait for another day. I don’t mean to contribute to the Only Posting FO Shots thing that is allegedly Sweeping The Blogosphere Like A Plague, but when you don’t post for two months there is a lot to get caught up with. Next Time: New Year Crafting Resolutions and Sam’s Jacket: Now With Hood (Arms Pending). See you all soon!