Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Another Project Finished

These guys have been felted and dried for ages but I finally got them stuffed and stitched.

I had to felt them 3 times and still the stitches are visible - oh well. They're both from the same pattern, Debbie Radtke's 'Huggable Hedgehogs'. I just used smaller needles for the smaller one. Also I used brown yarn for the back in the bigger one. The smaller one has the natural yarn with the Fun Fur and it looks like it has alopecia.

The directions are very readable and easy to follow. The entire project could be knit in one evening.

My cold has really set in so I'm heading to bed with something Skip got for me at the pharmacy.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Dealing with WIPs

I started a project with some of my birthday yarn - the Freedom Spirit.

I have selected the French Market Bag for it. I'm also using a couple of other contrasting yarns from my stash to make the Freedom Spirit go farther. The sides of the bag will be 2 - 3" longer than the pattern calls for.

I also started my first lace project - the Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits. I'm using the Naturally Dawn yarn I bought at the Knitter's Frolic. It's not a hard pattern but it does require 100% concentration. It's definitely not a project I can do while at our Sit 'n Knit or when Skip's trying to talk with me.

While adding the new project to Ravelry I realized I had 12 (!) Works In Progress (WIPs). Yikes! So I had a good look at them and reassigned a couple to hibernation and finished another project. So I'm down to 8 WIPs.

I also have caught Skip's cold. I haven't had a real cold in several years. I had the beginnings of one at Christmas but it never really settled in. I'm so annoyed. I think I'll go blow my nose...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Frolicking with Knitters

This morning I headed into The Big City to attend the Downtown Knit Collective's 'Knitter's Frolic'. I didn't take any classes this year but did spend about 3 hours in the Knitter's Marketplace looking at many gorgeous types of yarn. I significantly added to my stash. This is what I bought:

Berroco NaturLin - 40% Linen/60% Rayon

Fleece Artist Sea Wool
70% wool/30% sea cell

Kroy Socks

Naturally Dawn 50% New Zealand Wool/ 50% Silk

100% Soybean Fibre yarn

I bought a simple shawl pattern and a 60" (150 cm) 5mm Addi Turbo circular needle for the button band on my Must Have Cardigan. I also bought an itty-bitty sock blocker key chain.

While there, I ran into several of my knitting buddies: Lisa, Martina, Margo, Jackie, Michelle and Cindy.

After arriving home and updating my Ravelry stash, Skip, Scooter and I headed to the cat show at the Whitby Curling Club. We saw many breeds including: Abyssinian, Himalayan, Maine Coon, and Bengal. There were even mixed breed housecats being shown.

Now to search for patterns for my lovely yarn...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Feliz Cumpleaños a Mi or "Apio Verde Tu Yu"

Today is my birthday and I had a lovely day. Skip and I went birding in the morning at Second Marsh adjacent to the General Motors Canada headquarters and Lake Ontario in South Oshawa (the 'Shwa or "Shwigity" as one of my former students calls it). We spotted a common tern, some goldfinches, some song sparrows, lots of red-winged blackbirds, what we think were Bonaparte gulls, flotillas of hooded mergansers and some tree swallows looking for a place to nest.

Here's Mr. Tree Swallow (tachycineta bicolor) looking over his domain.

Skip also took a picture of me trying to look like a real 'birder' with the spotting scope and tripod slung over my shoulder.

After our expedition, we went to the Imperial Chinese Buffet in Ajax for lunch. Mine was free because it was my birthday - I had to show photo ID to both the hostess and the server. The meal was very good! They could give the Mandarin a good run for their money and they're a couple of dollars cheaper as well.

I then dropped Skip off for his nap and headed to Michaels to buy a book I've been eyeing, "The Knitting Answer Book" using a 40% off coupon. I then went to Mark's Work Wearhouse and spent the gift card Skip gave me for my birthday - plus a bit more.

After returning home I was still full from lunch but managed to choke down 2 pieces of my birthday cake - my trademark Devil's Food with Reece's Pieces baked in it frosted with chocolate fudge icing. It's past 10:30pm and I'm still not hungry.

I finally successfully finished a sleeve to my Must Have Cardigan. I knit it to fit the armhole perfectly. I have frogged the other one and will work get it done in the next day or so. I will then get cracking on the button band.

I've been combing Ravelry for pattern ideas so I can buy some yarn at Kniterary with my birthday club discount. There's some yummy Berroco alpaca yarn that calls to me...

Monday, 21 April 2008

Must Have Cardigan Update

I finished the tops of the back and fronts last night. As I suspected, the sleeves are not wide enough to fit in the armholes so I will be frogging them and re-knitting, increasing every 6 rows rather than every 8 as the pattern calls for. This will (should) widen them enough - I worked it out mathematically.

I'm getting really familiar with this pattern. I may do a square of it in the Great American Aran Afghan afghan I'm planning to do. I guess I could also do a square from the fisherman's aran sweater I knit for Skip last year. Oh yeah, and a square from a sweater I knit for Scooter when he was just a little guy.

It's weird but my brain is often planning knitting patterns, projects, undertakings, etc. I thought it was pretty strange at first, but the more I read about knitting, knitters and knitting designers, I realize this is perfectly normal. I also realize I'm really a process knitter more than a product knitter. Often once the interesting parts of the project are done, I'm ready to move on rather than finish it. And in the case of the Must Have Cardigan, as much as I would like to get it finished, I'm rather enjoying re-knitting parts of it after I've ripped it out. It seems to be getting easier.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Yarn Dilemma

Today I gave blood and then Skip and I drove up to Port Perry for the Garden Show at the arena. It was very nice to see all the plants and garden ornaments. It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. Skip is eager to get out in the garden except that yesterday, his back started feeling 'twinge-y' and he's not able to do much stooping and bending. Hopefully it'll clear up pronto.

After the garden show, we stopped in at Never Enough Wool and I bought a pattern book, "The Great American Aran Afghan" from Knitter's Magazine. I wanted to make the squares out of a washable yarn - preferably a blend rather than a superwash wool. I've heard the superwash wool yarns tend to pill. As cost is a factor, I picked up some Patons Decor yarn - 75% acrylic/25% wool. I've knit about 25 rows and I don't really like the look (too shiny) or the feel (too acrylic-y) so I'm going to return the 2 remaining balls and find something else. The gal in the yarn shop had used Patons Canadiana but I don't like the feel of 100% acrylic. What to do. What to do.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Really Spring

The calendar has told us it's been spring for the past 3 weeks but the temperatures are finally confirming it. Here are some pics of our birding on Tuesday.

A blue jay on the ground.

I heard this downy woodpecker before I could see him. You can see how he's working up the tree. And man! Does he ever pound his beak into the bark!

This chickadee didn't seem to be afraid of us at all.

And here's Mr. Mallard.

Whilst riding the GO train into The Big City to see "We Will Rock You" on Wednesday, I cast on the first ribbed sock with the yarn I bought to match a top I had bought in Texas. I started the eye of partridge heel last night.

The second Must Have Cardigan sleeve is almost finished. I still need to finish the last few rows of the back and two fronts. I'm a bit nervous about getting the sleeve to fit in the armhole and am considering reknitting the sleeves increasing every 6 rows instead of the 8 that I did. I don't want the sleeve to be too tight. I'm going to block it first, though, because it might stretch laterally quite a bit.

And finally, we have a rabbit in the back yard. It likes to chew our emerging shoots down to the ground. I hate it. See how shifty its eye looks?

Death to the rabbit. Grrrr.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

[Knit, Rip] Repeat

Well this last sleeve of the Must Have Cardigan is taking a long time. It doesn't help that every time I pick it up to continue, I realize I've made a mistake and have to rip it back a few rows. I'll be glad to finish and I sure hope it'll fit in the armhole. I still need to finish the top of the back and the two fronts.

Yesterday I did our income tax returns and will submit them electronically tomorrow. I get a bit of a refund. Now that I'm retired, I can't contribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan so I guess I'll have to spend the money on ME! Woo Hoo! I also got my new health card yesterday.

Today Skip and I went birding at Lynde Shores and Halls Road adjacent to Lake Ontario with a friend of Fred's. We went out for lunch afterward - Thai food - yum. After lunch I got my new driver's license and vehicle sticker. I then bought myself a birthday present, a new finch feeder, 'shepherd's crook' to hang it on and 2kg of nyger seed. So far only a mourning dove has found the seed. I'm hoping the house finches find the seed at some point. If not, it is convertible to a regular sunflower seed or birdseed feeder.

Now that all these obligations are taken care of, Skip and I are going to the afternoon matinee of "We Will Rock You" tomorrow after we meet Lorna for lunch in The Big City.

I continue to knit the second sleeve....

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Among Greatness

Yesterday Skip and I got to watch Scooter participate in the provincial finals of the Canadian Geography Challenge. It is a competition open to Ontario geography students from Gr. 7 - 10. The majority of students were in Scooter's Gr. 9 cohort. 54 students were vying for 5 places on the provincial team and Scooter made it to the top 5 and will be competing in the national finals on May 15, 2008. He will be competing online under the supervision of his teacher and we will get to monitor the proceedings online as well from our home.

The provincial semi-final competition yesterday had the students divided into 6 groups located in different locations around the school. They were asked questions and had 15 seconds to write down their answers. They would then simultaneously display their answers. There were 6 rounds of questions in the morning. After lunch, the top ten students' names were revealed and they took their place on the stage for the final competition where the top 5 provincial representatives would be chosen. Alphabetically, Scooter was number 9 in the top 10. There were 6 more rounds of questions, this time asked by TV and radio meteorologist, Harold Hosein. There were three ties in the end which were broken in further rounds of questioning but when it was all finished, Scooter had captured a spot in the top 5! We were thrilled! He will go on to compete online in the National Finals of the Canadian Geography Challenge on Thursday, May 15, 2008 under the supervision of his teacher. His father and I will be able to monitor the goings-on from home as the action will be viewable online. I guess all those trips we've taken him on, his reading the Reader's Digest Children's Atlas cover to cover when he was about 6, watching all those disaster and nature shows on TV and playing the geography quiz on Facebook has paid off! Way to go, Scooter!

I knit almost an entire second sock during the competition:

I finished the afterthought heel last night.

It is the Regia Galaxy sock yarn that I think is so cool because it looks like the rings around Saturn.

I've also been working on a new clapotis. This time it'll be a bit wider as the yarn is 200m longer. I'm using the Fleece Artist Blue-Faced Leicester DK yarn I bought last week. I'm loving how it is turning out.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Thinking about Angie and Her Family

I made a quick trip to my home town to attend the funeral of Angie Gibson, the wife of a former colleague and friend, Floyd Gibson. I had also taught their son Mark and their daughter, Mai-Ling, is one of my facebook buddies. We had beautiful weather - like the sun was smiling on us the whole time. As sad as it is that Angie lost her battle with cancer, I truly believe it is a blessing that she is no longer suffering and I hope in time her family will believe that, too.

After the funeral, I went to Canatara park adjacent to Lake Huron near the mouth of the St. Clair River and just reveled in being outside - living in the moment. I walked on the path all around Lake Chipican and enjoyed birdwatching. I heard a real songster - a goldfinch and an enthusiastic cardinal and spotted them, too. I saw Mr. and Mrs. Downy Woodpecker, a flotilla of mallards and of course the ubiquitous Canada geese. Over at the Sarnia Harbour I spotted some redheads and a solitary bufflehead. And I thought of Angie and her family.

I had a nice visit with my sister and we went out for lovely dinners both nights. Today, on the way back, I dropped into Mary's Yarns in Unionville and bought a few things.

This yarn is for a pair of socks to match my nifty new Liz Claiborne pink, black and white long-sleeved t-shirt.

This yarn was only $8.50 for a 100g 420m ball.

This hank of Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester DK was 25% off and just the right amount for another mini-clapotis. It would look very spiffy with denim.

Then I went for 'dim sum' at my favourite place at Kennedy Rd. and Hwy 7 - Grand Lake Restaurant. It's on the NE corner of the building adjacent to Kennedy. I was honouring the memory of Angie as I savoured every bite. My first knowledge of 'dim sum' was as a result of Floyd and Angie celebrating Chinese New Year at Tang's one year. At Grand Lake, one of the servers knows what I like and came bustling over and asked if I wanted Har Gow, Shumai, sticky pork fried rice and mango pudding. I was impressed with her memory. Although, that is probably what all of us 'round eyes' - types order - LOL!

I also brought home the leftovers - yum!

The server was also very pleased to present me with a fish-shaped mango pudding.

So Angie, we are all thinking of you and know you are in a much better place and enjoying being pain free. You will certainly be missed.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

I ♥ ♥ My ♥ Tom Tom ♥*

Skip and I bought a GPS (Global Positioning System) on our way down to Texas in January. I'm a real techno geek and whenever I hear about a cool electronic gadget I want to own one. I did a bit of research on the Consumers Reports website and decided I wanted one that not only spoke to me but also gave the street names (i.e. turn right on Main Street 200 metres ahead).

We bought it at Best Buy in Texarkana, TX after I returned the Slingbox I had bought last November. To digress, the Slingbox is a gizmo that you can hook up to your TV at home and then through your computer you can watch TV on it anywhere in the world you have access to the Internet. It sounded like a good idea at the time but we didn't think we'd have regular Internet access in Texas so I returned it and used the money to buy the GPS.

I purchased the Tom Tom One XLS device and eagerly opened the box. It doesn't come with a manual so I pretty much fumbled through getting the thing to work. Once we got to the condo I did look up a couple of things online and soon was able to pretty much do anything I wanted with it: plan routes, determine lengths of potential trips, find shopping malls, etc. We really liked the feature where we search and select restaurants and then get the directions right to the door. It was very handy when we didn't know the area at all.

It tells you what your next turn will be and how far until your turn, how fast you are going, how long your trip will be, what your actual ETA will be. It can be programmed for miles or kilometres. The voice can be either male or female, there are various orientations of the map (north at the top, direction always going upwards, etc.) , different colours and a setting for driving at night where the readout is dimmer. It plugs into the 12V outlet (formerly cigaretter lighter, I guess) and charges itself that way. It can also be charged through the PC or laptop and also with AC current. It has a 2 hour battery.

The only problem was that I couldn't figure out how to get it to tell us the street names. And I bought this upgraded model specifically for that feature. It would say "turn right ahead 200 metres" but it wouldn't say the street name. A couple of days ago, I got online again to make sure that the model of GPS I had purchased was indeed the one with the street names (as stated by the sales person, on the box and by Consumers Reports) . At one point I was sure that the one we had had been switched with a lesser model that didn't give the street names.

Finally, I googled "Tom Tom One street names" and found a forum where the directions to get the GPS to state street names was given. Sure enough, I followed the directions and Eureka! It worked! (I ♥* Google, too). The voice had to be 'Susan' the computer-generated voice and in her menu, the 'street names' box had to be checked. That's it!

*By the way, if you ever want to type the heart character = ♥ , just press the Alt + 3. Let go of the Alt key and voilà - you type a heart. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Just thought I'd pass that along.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Day After

Yesterday I went into The Big City to attend the Yarn Harlot's book launch at the Isabel Bader Theatre at Victoria College University of Toronto. I thought I'd make a day of it and do some yarn shopping first and also work in some exercise. I walked from Union Station to Romni Wools on Queen St. W., a 3 km walk according to Google Maps. While there I bought some beautiful Noro sock yarn and a ball of Regia Galaxy yarn. The Regia yarn supposedly knits into rings that look like Saturn's rings. However, since I'm knitting a child's sock I'm using fewer stitches and the rings aren't quite working out. Oh well.

Here's my 'loot' including the autographed copy of Stephanie's new book.

There must have been 400 people at the book launch. It was a lot of fun being amongst so many enthusiastic knitters. Jean Waller, a former colleague, also retired, sat with me. I frequently run into her at knitting events in Toronto.

I found Stephanie's talk particularly interesting when she was speaking about various types of brain waves and how knitting is an activity that prompts a particular type of brain activity that is difficult to attain during most other daily activities. She also regaled us with her hilarious description of how she once ended up locked out of her hotel room in Calgary wearing nothing but a pair of powder blue panties with "Cowgirl" printed on the butt and the ensuing series of events which led to her getting back into her room.

I was fortunate enough to sit in the third row so my flash would work - somewhat. Here she is taking the picture of her sock and the audience which appears on her blog today.

And thanks to my 10x zoom:

In less than an hour I'm going to be going to my first 'spinning' class. No, I don't mean spinning yarn, I mean the exercise class where you pedal a stationary bike for 45 minutes. My goal is to get to the end any way I can. A former student, Chandra, talked me into it. My biggest concern is what my butt will feel like afterwards, not to mention my quads. I'm taking my gel seat. Stay tuned.