Thursday, July 30, 2009

the curtain

Warning: Gratuitous pictures of completely mindless knitting ahead! Want complicated stitchwork? Come back another time...
Old houses have lots of quirks. Ours lacks a first floor powder room. (washroom/half bath, etc. choose your own vocabularly here..) As a result, the second story bath that we use daily needs to be clean and well maintained.

This bath has a fabulous old mosaic tile floor. At the very least, I need to clean the heck out of it. At best, it's time for some restoration. Some of the corner tiles are loose or missing. I'm not a mosaics crafter but I may become a mosaics repair specialist sometime soon.

The room also has two windows which overlook a busy street. They clearly needed a curtain so we could, ahem, do private bathroom things. For the first few days, I hung a Kenyan batik cloth on the windows. (I use it as a picnic blanket and it was in the car for the trip. Lucky.) However, when I did that the room became so dark as to be claustrophobic. Time to consider plan B.

Plan B: I had a lot of sock yarn with me, and a set of circulars. Using Green Mountain Spinnery's fabulous Spinnery Sock Art yarn--which happened to match that mosaic tile, I cast on 40 sts. (Actually, I can't remember what I cast on, but that sounds close.) I knit in garter stitch, checking my progress at the window as I went.

Our theory with old houses is that if they have hooks that look usable, it makes sense to use them. No point in removing old curtain hooks and risking paint flakes, holes in the plaster, etc. to put in new ones. In this case, there were hardware hooks I've never seen before that look like they perhaps held a very skinny curtain rod once at both the top and bottom of the window..perhaps for taut muslin or gauze curtains.

After I finished the first curtain (garter stitch on size #13 needles is speedy like a race) it seemed only logical that I rush on towards the second. After all, without furniture, there wasn't a lot else to do other than walk the dogs...

So, what do these accomplish? 1) They let in light. 2) They obscure things slightly, so that people on the street might not see completely nekkidness if they look up. (nekkidness=nudity if you're northerners. :)

These curtains do not insulate the window, and they probably are not the most modest option I could have chosen. They don't show off any kind of complex knitting talent, which is ok with me. I debated lace, but concluded that lace on big needles equals bigger holes, and, well, I didn't want the neighborhood to see that much!

I figure, come winter, I'll rethink my options if there's a draft or we need something more substantial. In the meanwhile...

The curtains seemed like an interesting metaphor. Lots of things in Winnipeg seem to be about "letting in the light." First, in a concrete way, because it doesn't get dark here until very late at night in the summer time...think 9:30 or 10. There are nights that I've fallen asleep before it gets dark. It gets light early too, which makes for wonderful dog walks between 6-7 AM. By 7:15 AM, forget it, our new neighborhood becomes like dog Grand Central Station. Not an enjoyably quiet meander anymore...

In a more figurative way, I've been so impressed by the efforts Winnipeggers make to appreciate and make the most of the diversity of their human and natural environment. Everyone seems to make an effort to go to the summer festivals and to spend time outside in cafes, exercising, and in parks...even when this summer is unseasonably cool. There's a citywide effort to support fundraising for a new national museum called the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. There's fundraising afoot to open an educational butterfly conservatory at Assinibone Park. Not only that, but they were thrilled to meet with the professor right away about enlisting his butterfly expertise for the effort. (in town 2 weeks and suddenly he's needed!)

The metaphor of the window as a way to see out into the world and the curtain (does it enhance or cover up the view?) has really struck me as a way people here see their city. When we explain why we're here...the professor to do research, and me, the writer...many people seem curious and excited about what we'll lend to the cultural/intellectual landscape--either that, or they fake it very well!

Most of the necessities of life are now unpacked. My office is still in boxes and there are definitely a lot of projects ahead. The backyard fence is being built today. I hear there's a "pick your own" raspberry place that's got me excited about a visit. Things around us are at once stimulating, intriguing and --in the home department--hopefully going to settle down soon.

I haven't been knitting since finishing the (totally mindless) curtains. While I don't need to sit down to knit, I do need both hands free, and that's hard to do while unpacking!

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Blogger Kristy said...

While it may get light out early and dark late now, just wait for winter when we only get about 9 hours of sun light a day. Sun comes up after 8 and goes down by 5! And you're right, we do our best to make the most out of our summers, even when they're as unseasonable cold as this one has been. Winter here is just so darn cold and miserable that we go a little nutty!

But there's so much to do in Winnipeg! Folklorama is coming up ( August 2-12. There are a few u-pick strawberry and raspberry places around the city. There is also Fringe Festival and Folk Fest, which are over for the summer now but should definitely be kept in mind for next year. :)

And those are just a few summer activities. With winter making up the majority of our year, there's just as much to do then as there is now!

July 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Willow said...

I like the simple stitch, a net to catch the light (and views). And the way it reflects the pattern of the floor mosaics.

Winnipeg sounds like a wonderful town. Friendly and open. I think it'll be a good fit for the two of you.

July 30, 2009 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

The curtains that were on those windows were probably 'hour glass curtains'. Great immediate 'fix' you created!

July 30, 2009 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger knitalot3 said...

I like your curtains! Great creative use of resources on hand.


July 30, 2009 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Sarah Jean said...

That is quite an ingenious idea with the curtains! And I love your reflections on the different attitudes of the people in your new town.

July 30, 2009 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

Those curtains are so simple, but really look nice. And gives you time to figure out something to keep the heat in when the flurries fly!

Pgh Cathy

July 30, 2009 at 7:40 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

It sounds as though you're enjoying exploring your new home. I'm glad! As Kristy says, Canadians make the most of the summers because the winters are very different. Dark and cold. But, if the darkness and cold start to get you down, remember spring will come again! I envy you the northern spring; I miss it dreadfully :-/

July 31, 2009 at 4:27 AM  
Blogger annmarie said...

creative solution for the 'privacy problem'! be sure to do a test where either you or the professor goes outside after dark and the other stays in and turns the light on and waves. if the one outside waves back, hmmm, plan B, maybe? I have the Mason-Dixon Bubbles curtain on my bathroom window, but I'm five floors up and a bit less visible. ;)

BTW, did you know that you have a review on The Manic Purl Podcast? She has a lot of good things to say about 'Fiber Gathering'. :)

August 1, 2009 at 6:05 PM  
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