Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the knitting continues

Even I have to laugh at myself for how ridiculous this project is - my ambitious ambition to make the world's longest scarf. And as you can see in the photo - V keeps rolling his eyes about it all. But he's a good sport - posing here to show that I have at least a scarf for 1 person.

After 2 weeks I have just over 13 feet of this multi-coloured scarf. I usually switch colours each time I pick it up since I am keeping a knitting log and this makes it easier to measure how much I did in each sitting. Sadly, my pace has actually slowed this week.

One reason is that I've got my nose to the grindstone with my master's thesis. Ever one for setting deadlines and targets, I've drafted up a tight timeline to get it done by Dec 15. It's doable, but just. Unfortunately I can't knit my arguments and lit reviews.

Still, every now and then it's nice to take a break from the computer and sit down with my knitting for a bit. My two favourite ways to clear my head and focus my thoughts are walking and knitting. I find that my mind often gets so busy and restless, I need to step back and sort my thoughts out. Walking, knitting or doing puzzles seems to occupy that restless or superficial part of my mind - giving me better access to the deeper levels. If I could ever master meditation I suppose I'd be able to transcend all levels of my mind, not just the superficial part. But for now, as I try to keep my mind clear for my thesis, knitting is my fix, my meditation. It's just because I'm a little crazy that I have to turn my meditation into a Guinness world record.

Monday, August 18, 2008

crazy ambition

I had a crazy idea last week. Watching the Olympics got me thinking about world records and I've always thought I'd like to try and make a Guinness World Record. I can't run, row or swim to make the kind of records being set now in Beijing. But there has to be something I can do.

I browsed around on GWR site and decided I would not beat the largest stamp mosaic (50.8 m²) or the 9.6 m tall sandcastle. I don't think I'll have the longest appendix removed - 26 cm or pull 187 tonnes of aircraft.

Then I got it - I can knit. I can knit the world's longest scarf.

GWR doesn't have this record on their site (I guess they want me to buy the book) but the internet tells me the world's longest scarf is 33.74 miles!! Um, maybe I need to rethink my project. But wait - this scarf, made as a benefit for Feed the Children, was stitched together from the knitting of over 2000 knitters. There has to be a different standard for a scarf knit by one person.

I can't be sure since I have not got official word on the record to beat - but one site had the world's longest scarf by one person, continuously knit at slightly over 1 kilometre - which is still crazy long, but doesn't seem impossible.

I began the process of applying to break a world record. First I had to register on the site, stating what record I would like to break. A few days later they sent me a detailed agreement and a claim number. I have to sign this agreement and fax it back to them. Within a couple of months I should hear back with details regarding the current record and what kind of evidence I will need to produce to claim to have beaten this.

I am a bit worried by all the talk of witnesses that is in the agreement. World records have to be witnessed by people with 'standing' in the community - such as police officers, judges, mayors or town councillors. But the man who may have the current world record took more than 4 years to do knit his scarf. I think it would be hard to find a justice of the peace to sit and watch me knit for 4 years.

I'm hoping they will accept some other proof that I was the one who knit this (pictures as I go?) - and that witnesses will only need to be brought in for the final measurement.

Even though I haven't got the official go-ahead from GWR, I cast on last Monday. This morning I measured my progress so far and have roughly 2.5 metres. If I was to simply meet his record, going at this pace it will take me about 400 weeks! If I want to significantly beat it (which of course I do) it will likely take a lot longer. I'm well off his pace (I'm looking at more than 7 years at this rate) - so I'm going to need to pick it up a bit. Good thing the Olympics are on - I knit faster when I'm watching a race. (The Amazing Race is a great show to knit to - I'm super speedy).

Once I have official confirmation, and I've knitted about to 500 metres, I will contact a local charity - the Ottawa Snowsuit Fund - and let them know that I will be doing this to raise money for them. I'm hoping I'll get some donated yarn and maybe even sponsorship as I go - and then after it is measured and witnessed, I will break it up into regular length scarves to sell as a fundraiser.

V keeps telling me I have no idea how long 1000 metres is. He may be right. I may be crazy. But as Confucius would say, "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop."

Monday, August 11, 2008

summer gardens

I'm still fairly new to this whole gardening thing - seems it's either feast or famine with me. Flower beds overflow the borders as plants crowd each other out - or the plants struggle to fill their allotted space, looking spindly and forlorn.

But not one for admitting defeat, this spring, instead of just planting flowers, I put in a vegetable garden as well. And it will be a feast of tomatoes, zucchini and squash - while a famine in carrots, onions, peas and peppers.

Well, I'm learning as I go. Learning that 3 zucchini plants is more than enough - I now greet my neighbours with 'hello, would you like some zucchini?'

V and I are learning what to do with this feast of zuccs - yesterday he made a moist, dense zucc spice cake. We've also had grilled zuccs, zucc frittata, zuccs in tomato sauce, zuccs with couscous, zuccs in curry... and that was probably just last week.

I also have what seems like 100 tomatoes almost ripe on the vines - we're having a string of cool days and even cooler nights, so they seem to hanging there, unchanged, taunting me. I know when they do start to ripen we're going to be overloaded. 'Hello neighbour, how about some tomatoes?'

The one squash plant I put in has also gone crazy. A couple weekends ago V built a 9 ft frame for it to climb on since it was reaching around and strangling everything it could get its tendrils on - tomato vines, day lillies, zucc stems, raspberry bushes... We leaned the frame against the garage and I tore up an old pillowcase to make strips to attach the squash vines. Already the plant is climbing up and over its frame. Seems we might be up on the garage roof to harvest this fall.

So for all my inexperience, I'm seeing how forgiving gardens are. I may not have put things in the best location, or foreseen how much room each plant would need, but they seem willing to make do with what they've got, rewarding at least my effort. And I'm learning from my mistakes, seeing what works and what doesn't. V has already dug up more ground for an expanded garden next summer... but now I have to go, the zucchini muffins are ready to come out of the oven.