Tuesday, 30 December 2008
Now, I know Yom Kippur is a 'day' of atonement but I'm going to take a whole week. My method involves going to the gym every day starting last Saturday. I've done 2 Zumba classes and one weight-lifting class since then and have the achy muscles to show for it. I have 2 more Zumba classes on the roster for this week and at least one more weight-lifting class and possibly another aerobic class of some type. My other motivation is a little card which, when initialled 28 times by class instructors, entitles me to win a cheap, plastic luggage tag. Hey, turn something into a competition and I'm there. This is where I am on this card.
I had another card with 17 stars initialled but I LOST IT!!! So I started this card at the beginning of December in an attempt to catch up before the deadline of Sunday 4 January.
The Zumba instructor in Bowmanville gave me bonus initials because I sing during our class. :-)
Here are my loved ones at our little Christmas dinner. We are small in number but mighty in enthusiasm.
On the stitching front, I completed two little stockings which hang on the wreaths on our front doors.
I stitched the mitten back in the 90s.
I also finished stitching the Victoria Sampler Christmas bellpull.
Yesterday I finished the first Noro Silk Garden 4 x 1 ribbed, toe-up sock. I used a loose tubular bind off (Knit One, Purl One) and got a fairly stretchy top. I kept weighing the ever-diminishing-in-size skein until I had exactly half the yarn left. I will start the 2nd sock sometime soon - when I'm not sweating my arse off at the gym, that is. Vickie reminded me that I could have done an afterthought heel which would have made things a bit easier. Maybe next time.
Ollie got his Christmas mousie and really seemed to like it.
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
We enjoyed our Christmas Eve at Norm and Lena's. Luke, the cat, enjoyed the catnip mousie - so much that by the time we left, he had ripped a hole in it and had almost yanked out the catnip sac.
And now.... to bed.
The only modification was that instead of breaking the yarn after finishing the body, I p2tog a row and made i-cord with the remaining three stitches. Ollie tore the tail off the first one I made him so this way, the tail is firmly attached.
If you click on the photo and look at the snow by Skip's boot, you can see how much we got last night.
And here's our neighbour from across the street, Bill.
I don't remember having this much snow in December - ever. The big piles of snow by the driveways won't be gone until at least late March - maybe longer. Only 34 days 'til we head south.
After finishing up on the Danforth, I took the subway to the Main station in order to walk the 1/2 block to the Danforth GO train station to await my eastward train. I got there in time to hear that the 3:24 train was delayed by 20 minutes. A couple of minutes later we were told it would be 30 minutes late as it was stopped west of downtown because IT HAD RUN OUT OF GAS! Say what? Huh? I've never heard such a thing. Sure enough, at 3:54 the train pulled into the station and on we got. Good grief. On the way into the city this morning we were delayed for 4 minutes because someone wishing to get off at the Scarborough station got on the wrong car and had to walk through the train at the station in order to get to a car where the doors would open as the doors on west half the train don't open due to station construction. The driver/announcer sounded really ticked off as he explained our delay while the person was making her way to the correct car and then after she got off and we were underway again. Crabby, crabby.
Fortunately, I had my Noro Silk Garden toe-up sock with me to work on. For the cost of the yarn, I'm not impressed with the two knots I've encountered nor the fact that although the ball band says 100g there are only 92g. Harumph. However, I am liking how it is knitting up. I'm using smaller needles (2.75mm) than recommended and am getting a nice dense fabric which will be very warm on my feet. I'm on the home stretch with the first sock as I've turned the heel and will knit the leg until I have a little more than 46g of yarn left on the ball (92g/2 socks = 46g each). That should ensure a nice long leg and not much yarn left over after finishing sock number 2.
These colours are pretty true.
A couple of nights ago I knit another coffee cup sleeve in some leftover Noro Kureyon yarn.
And although it won't be done for THIS Christmas, I've continued to work on the Victoria Sampler Christmas bell pull hardanger project .
Scooter is with us until Christmas Day after dinner. We decided to go to the movies this evening and the consensus was that we see Disney's 'Bolt' in 3D. It was $2 more per person but very cute and lots of fun. The 3D glasses have improved from the previous cardboard ones with red and blue acetate gels. Ours tonight were plastic horn-rims - nerdy, yet, high tech. And there was a bin at the exit for recycling them. I don't remember hearing a lot about Bolt when it came out but it's a good family movie. Although there was some dramatic tension, there weren't any terrifying moments so even really small children would enjoy it.
Tomorrow we will spend Christmas Eve the way we have for the last 13 years - with Skip's former neighbours in the West Rouge, Norm and Lena. Lena puts on an amazing Swedish spread with dried ham, Swedish meatballs, Mr. Jannson's temptation, rödbetssallad (beetroot salad), wonderful cheeses, rice pudding, little sticky toffees called knäck, and glögg. I have decided that, although I won't go 'hog wild' during the holidays, I plan to enjoy all elements of our Christmas dinners and may even partake in some glögg at Lena's and some wine with our turkey dinner. To atone for any gastronomic sins, I plan to go to 4 Zumba classes next week as there are two extras on the schedule; one on Dec. 31 at 9:30 in Oshawa and one on Jan. 1 at 9:30 in Bowmanville.
Friday, 19 December 2008
So today was a really good day to stay inside and knit. I finished the Mille Colori Slouchy Mittens - a modification of Vickie and Martina's Slouchy Hand Warmers. In order to have enough yarn to complete a mitten I only did 5 slouches at the cuff and extended the ribbing to the tips of my fingers. Then I k2tog the two knits and p2tog the two purls for one round. Then I k2tog for one round. Then I had 5 stitches on each of the back and front needles so I grafted them. When I finished the thumb, I k2tog the 2 knits and p2tog the 2 purls for the round, then k2tog the next round. Then I pulled the yarn through the remaining stitches and closed the end and wove in the yarn. I bought three more skeins last night to make either a hat or a scarf and decided today to make a scarf as I really don't wear hats.
Last night at the Kniterary pot luck event I purchased a lovely Victoria Sampler hardanger/cross-stitch pattern at Hedgehog Stitchery (Durham Region's finest stitchery shop) called 'Christmas Hearts' and the accessory pack. I look forward to starting it soon.
This evening I did a quick knit for Lorna for Christmas - a coffee cup sleeve from the Canadian Living website. I knit a few extra rows of stocking stitch and then stitched the word 'café' on it for a bit of pizazz. I did a cable cast-on and the Knit One-Purl One bind off as outlined on the Knitting Help website under Casting Off - about 3/4 of the way down the page.
I'm hoping to make it to my Zumba class in Bowmanville tomorrow morning. I hope the 401 is well cleaned off. I missed the Wednesday class because of the embroidery guild pot luck so I really want to get there tomorrow.
Thursday, 18 December 2008
All last week I prepared for Skip's birthday party. There were lots of lists to make, lots of groceries to buy, lots of food to make, lots of tidying, cleaning and last-minute things to do.
I procrastinated about ordering the cake. When I finally went to A & P and looked through their catalogue of cakes, I flipped through the Barbie, Spiderman, Dora and Simpsons cakes and happened upon a 'golfer' cake. Score!!!
And here's the birthday boy with his cake:
Another cool thing I did was finally make some window coverings for our front window in the living room. I painted the room 2 1/2 years ago and never did get anything on the windows. I thought, 'why not get something festive for the holiday season' and found some inexpensive sheer nylon fabric silkscreened with gold stars. After a $17 Cdn. investment and sewing a few straight lines, I had festive sheers.
(click on the photo for a close up view)
That is Skip's little tree adorned with bird ornaments and ornaments Scooter made and displayed as a small child.
Since the party, which was a big success, I've been doing some Christmas baking. Yesterday I made my sister-in-law's Chocolate Macaroon recipe (this one is pretty close) and also a bunch of Rolo Pretzel Turtles. I've also made devilled eggs for 3 events in the last two weeks. It's actually like an egg salad filling for the egg halves. The tortilla rollups I made were also very popular. To make them healthier, I used whole wheat tortillas and low-fat cream cheese. Also, last week made phyllo cheese and artichoke triangles. Unfortunately, I forgot to serve them at the party so we fed them to Skip's brother and his wife the next day when they dropped by with Skip's birthday card. They were yummy, if I do say so myself.
I love having parties because it forces us to get the house tidied and cleaned up. Over several days, I managed to get everything done (and all the detritus shoved into my office upstairs).
Last night was the pot luck event and ornament exchange for our Trillium Embroidery Guild. I contributed a hardanger ornament which Vickie picked.
Here it is before I cut around the buttonhole stitch and added the hanger.
Here are all the ornaments that were exchanged taken on my cell phone, hence the crappy shot.
The one I received was the lovely, fancy one on the left created by Amy who coincidentally happens to be a Sarnia native. The one I stitched is on the right in the middle above the long, thin one (Vickie's blackwork book mark).
After I got home, I started a toe-up sock using Judy's Magic Cast-On which made much more sense to me after watching Cat Bordhi's YouTube video. I'm using Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn and am enjoying how cozy the sock feels as I try it on at various times in progress.
Today I'm pretty much having a pyjama day. That is, until I have to clean myself up and get ready for the pot luck festivities at Kniterary this evening. After that, I may head to downtown Oshawa to hear one of my former students entertaining on the piano at Izabella's Cafe.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Here he is at 1 1/2 years old - the summer I first met him and started dating his father.
We still have those little sandals. (♥ sigh)
And here he is now:
They sure grow up fast.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
He isn't aloof like a lot of cats. Unless he's having his 4-hour midday nap, he likes to be in the same room as either Skip or me. When we go away for a couple of days, a neighbour comes in and feeds him. But if we're away a week or more, he really needs to go to a place where he can be with people. Last year when Skip and I spent a month in Texas, Ollie stayed with Skip's niece, Michelle and her two kids, Amber and Elliott. Unfortunately this year her living situation has changed and she can't look after him.
This sent me into a total panic today when one of my friends who thought she could take him told me she couldn't after all. I certainly understand that looking after someone else's cat for 70 days is a big committment, but it looked like the alternative was a kennel where he would be exposed to lots of kitties (and their diseases), not to mention the small fortune it would have cost.
So this afternoon I panicked and started e-mailing people and sending my 'friends' Facebook messages in hopes someone would be able to help me out. My friend, Francey, in Georgia even offered to look after him if we dropped him off at her place on our way to Texas.
Finally at about 6pm, Lee-Ann, one of the secretaries who used to work at my former school sent me a cheery Facebook message: I would love to...I'm all over it....let me know...But I of course will...I love kitty's.
Man, was I ever relieved. The weight of the world suddenly lifted off my shoulders. Since then, two other wonderful people have offered to help me out so I will certainly keep them in mind for future trips.
Last night I blocked Elaine's shawl. It took up the entire queen sized bed in Scooter's room.
Of course, I forgot to take it to her this evening at our Sit 'n Knit so will drop it off tomorrow morning after Skip and I go out for breakfast and go to the library. I love blocking lace. I think she's going to really like how it turned out. That's also the first quilt I ever made- the 'Forever Green Quilt' from the January 1993 Canadian Living magazine. I haven't made too many since then but I'd like to make another one of these.
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
I haven't put the decorations (buttons) on it yet but have considered decorating it with my earrings.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
I also finished stitching my name tag for the Embroidery Guild. I'll have to figure out how to finish it before next week's potluck dinner/meeting.
Friday, 5 December 2008
It has been a gradual process and happily, not too painful. I have learned how to eat properly and have actually been cooking meals on a regular basis for the first time in my life. Not only has eating at home more been good on our food budget, I've had total control of what's been going in my mouth. I really haven't felt deprived at all. The best thing is that I'm now more fit and healthy than I ever have been in my life. My blood pressure last week was 110/70 - down 10 points in both numbers.
This time, things just seemed to 'click' for me where I had always floundered before. The motivator was when I saw a very unflattering picture taken of me. Yikes! I could no longer deny that I had allowed my eating to get out of control. Also, a couple of my friends had recently shed a significant amount of weight and I wanted to be a 'copycat'. I also have diabetes and colon cancer in my family history and decided that I wanted as good a quality of life as I could possibly create for myself. I want to be able to get on and off a toilet unassisted, climb stairs, walk for an extended period of time and not have sore hip and knee joints from carrying around too much weight. I want to enjoy my retirement to the fullest. I had to admit I needed help and shelling out the cash for a personal trainer made me accountable really quickly.
My sister, Valerie, created side by side photos of me taken then (May 15) and a couple of weeks ago (Nov. 23?). See any difference? I'm minus at least one chin.
Only 5 lb. 'til I get to my next goal weight and then 6 more after that to my ultimate goal. Stay tuned...
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
or folded over for double the warmth like a turtleneck.
I finally took a shot of the NOEL hardanger project as a fait accompli.
I continue to putter away on three different scarf projects. The Lacy Leaf scarf,
the Boku striped, ribbed scarf,
and the Lily of the Valley Scarf from Nancy Bush's "Knitted Lace of Estonia". This will look MUCH better once completed and severely blocked.
I also started another hardanger project on sand-coloured linen with ecru floss. It will have lots of beads.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
I finished casting off the Cable Ribbed Gaiter in the van on the way home and I'm quite pleased with it.
Then last night I started another striped, ribbed scarf made from the poor person's Silk Garden, Plymouth Yarns Boku. As per the instructions on Brooklyn Tweed's website, I purchased two very different variegated colourways.
I'm liking the look so far. At one point the two yarns were getting too close in colour so I broke the yarn on one of them and joined (spit join) at a more contrasting place.
So I was happily knitting away last night watching 'Private Practice' and I finally realized - Holy Crap! Next week is the beginning of December. I have a bunch of stuff to do to get ready for Skip's birthday party on the 13th. Eek! So this morning I got up and got moving and started painting the bathroom. I primed the spots that I had patched and got the ceiling painted in no time and took the cover off the ceiling fan and vacuumed the dust out of it. I also properly aligned the fan box into the ceiling so the cover could be re-installed properly after painting it. I then began painting the walls and within about an hour, had the first coat done. Working in such tight quarters (3' x 5') is challenging and I only tipped over the paint tray once by stepping on it whilst stepping down from the ladder. After a quick wipe up, I was back to work.
Skip goes on an NCAA basketball road trip tomorrow to Syracuse where he and his companions will see them play the Virginia Cavaliers at 7pm. After spending the night they'll head to Buffalo and watch Canisius College play the St. Bonaventure at 7pm and then drive home. Skip will be pretty pooped - I hope he can sleep in the van.
Tonight I'm Sitting 'n Knitting at Kniterary but in the meantime, I'm waiting for paint to dry and am starting to compile shopping lists for food items for Skip's party that I can make ahead of time and freeze.
Today is also US Thanksgiving so I wish all my American friends a happy holiday and hope they are enjoying quality time with their loved ones.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
I finished the hardanger stitching on a Christmas ornament yesterday from the "2005 Just CrossStitch Christmas Ornaments" issue. I now just need to cross-stitch the N, O, E and L and cut the holes and the outline of the ornaments which will be strung on a ribbon.
(click on the photo for a bigger view)
I'm almost finished the Cable Ribbed Gaiter - a pattern I modified from Leigh Radford's book, "One Skein". I'm using yummy Alpaca Cashmere Tweed by Estelle in the Rose (10) colourway. I cast on 144 stitches and did 2x2 ribbing in the round for 1 1/4". Then Set-Up Round: (K2, P2, K6, P2) until the end of the row. Round 1: (K2, P2, C6F (slip 3 stitches from the left needle onto cable needle and hold to the front; knit the next three stitches from the left needle; knit the three stitches from the cable needle), P2) to end of row. Rounds 2 - 6: (K2, P2, K6, P2) to end of round. Then repeat rounds 1 - 6 until gaiter measures 5" or desired length. Then do 2x2 ribbing for 1 1/4" and cast off.
In this picture, I'm almost done the cable rounds and will be starting the ribbing soon.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
Then we spent an hour or so at Barnes and Noble where I found Nancy Bush's new "Knitted Lace of Estonia". I've already started the Lily of the Valley scarf. I'm getting better at knitting the 5-stitch nupps (rhymes with 'snoops') but for now have eschewed the patterns with 7-stitch nupps.
Once back in Canada, we changed and dropped in at the lovely new home of Marilyn Orr, a former colleague, where she was entertaining several of the people I used to work with when I taught in Sarnia 19+ years ago. Everyone looks JUST THE SAME. Am I ever glad I'm a bit svelter than I was back in June - sheesh! We then made our way to the golf and curling club for the anniversary reception and dinner where I caught up on the lives of Don, Marianne and Theresa and got to meet their spouses and children. It was a lovely affair with the highlight being the entertainment provided by Evan (the eldest son whom I did not teach) and Don singing an ode to their father to the tune of "The Modern Major General" with Marianne on the piano. Then several of the grandchildren enacted the three little pigs outlining their grandpa's vast skills of working with cement and carpentry. Next were Teresa and Marianne singing a song about a mother's life to the tune of "A Sailor's Life" from "The Pirates of Penzance" with Don accompanying on the accordion. Marianne's spirited, 6 year-old daughter, Julia, echoed the ends of each phrase. She was delightful.
We returned home early the next morning arriving in time for the early NCAA football games on TV.
I finished the third hardanger ornament and cut it out on Tuesday night at Stitchin' Time at Hedgehog Stitchery.
Last night I attended my first meeting of the Trillium Embroidery Guild. I was very impressed with the 'show and share' segment of the evening where the theme was heirloom stitchery. Stitcher of the month was Alda who displayed her lovely, intricate cross-stitchery. She only started cross-stitching in 1996 and has completed many, many beautiful pieces - many on very small gauge fabric.
Another of the members gave us a little workshop on Kumihimo, a type of Japanese braiding. We then were given the materials to do our own simple braid.
There will be a pot luck and ornament exchange at December's meeting. On Vickie's suggestion, I plan to contribute one of my hardanger ornaments.
Yesterday morning I began stripping the last wallpaper remaining on the wall of this house - that of the main floor powder room. I have to do some major wall repair as a result of a plumbing mishap almost 10 years ago. At Home Depot I bought new fixtures and look forward to getting the job done.
Sometime in the last week I finished the Silky Waves scarf.
I just knit until I ran out of yarn.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
During my career as a high school music teacher, my students were always called upon to perform at the school's Remembrance Day ceremonies. Most recently we'd play "O! Valiant Hearts", "Eternal Father Strong to Save" and "Amazing Grace". And either I or one of my students would perform Last Post and then after an interval of silence, Reveille. I remember singing those hymns when I was in elementary school and later, playing in the community band at our local cenotaph on November 11, which used to be a school holiday. We also memorized the words to John McRae's poem "In Flanders Fields" and Canadian school children recite it to this day. The first verse is on the back of the Canadian $10 bill.
As I write this, I'm watching the ceremony from Confederation Square and Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Our last WWI veteran, John Babcock, now 107 years old, passed the torch today to younger soldiers.
When I was a student, Canada was not involved in any wars but more recently as peace keepers, we've lost many young men and women overseas. Now I really notice how young the soldiers are. I sure hope they can all come home soon.
It is a day to remember.
In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
After supper, I couldn't wait to get to my stitching and in about 4 hours (including ripping out mistakes, looking for a beading needle and thread, feeding the cat, watching Alabama beat LSU in overtime, etc.) I made this Christmas ornament:
It measures about 3 1/2 inches across.
And here's a closeup of the bottom part.
It's 22 count fabric, which means there are 22 threads to the inch. It's pretty fiddly stuff but on this special fabric called hardanger cloth it's pretty easy to see the holes.
The stitch around the edges is the buttonhole stitch and tomorrow when I'm not so tired, I will cut away all the fabric around the outside. The blocks that are 5 stitches wide are the kloster blocks and are the foundation of hardanger. The red stars are the eyelets. The red portions between the open squares are called woven bars and the red threads in the open squares are called dove eyes.
The pictures are crappy - bad lighting. The fabric and threads are actually white. Better pictures will follow.
I met some very nice ladies today and was invited to join the local stitchery guild which meets the third Wednesdays of the month. If I remember, I'll go on the 19th.