Thursday, 27 November 2008

Shuffling Off

Anne Marie and I drove to Niagara Falls and Buffalo on Monday for a wee shopping trip. It was a nice trip to look forward to and nice to get away. There were sales everywhere! We discovered a women's clothing store that has recently opened at the Prime Outlets called Chico's. Very nice!! I dropped quite a bit of cash in there. buying some new clothes that fit my slowly shrinking body. Other purchases were: some Christmas gifts, a pair of shoes, 6 balls of yarn, some hardanger supplies, some 'underclothes', a nifty bathroom scale that not only give the weight but the body fat weight and percentage, the percentage of water and the bone mass.

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 have been working at losing some weight since July when I retained the services of a personal trainer for 6 weeks of 3x a week sessions. Since then, I have continued following the meal plan and doing some exercise. Although I have lost 14 lb., my weight loss seems to have stalled lately so this week I decided to step up my workouts. I did three Zumba classes this week and a BodyPump (weight-lifting) class this morning. I know I'm going to feel achy tomorrow as Anne Marie and I head to Buffalo for a couple of days.

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

Odds & Ends

Last week Skip and I made a quick trip to the Sarnia area to attend a 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Harry and Joanne Boere, parents of three former students of mine. We drove there on Thursday and got settled in the guest suite at my sister's condo and went out for a lovely dinner. The next morning we had breakfast at our favourite diner, South East, where one of the menu items is two eggs, toast and a pile of fresh fruit. Then we headed to Port Huron, MI where I shopped at Mary Maxim (where there was virtually NO hardanger supplies) and JoAnn Fabrics. At Mary Maxim I found beads to match the four colours of lace yarn in my stash.

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

Lest We Forget

Today we remember those who fought and fell during Canada's wars. Most particularly, today marks the 90th anniversary of the WWI Armistice. For the seven days leading up to today the names of the 68,000 Canadian soldiers who perished during WWI have been projected onto the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Similar displays took place in six other Canadian cities and in London, England, where the Queen and Prince Philip participated in an event last week at Canada House in Trafalgar Square.

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)
Canadian Army

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

As If I Needed Another New Hobby...

Today I took a very informative and practical class at Hedgehog Stitchery on a type of Norwegian embroidery called Hardanger. It had always looked difficult and scary because you have to cut holes into the piece. However, under the capable tutelage of Joanne (Jo) Gatenby, a Canadian stitchery designer and proprietor of X's and Oh's, an online cross-stitch shop, the seven of us learned the four basic types of stitches and were on our way. In the morning we practiced the kloster block, buttonhole stitch, woven bars and eyelets. It is neither 'hard' nor was I ever in 'danger'.

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.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Silky Waves

At every knitting festival I've attended over the past 2 years I've drooled over the hand dyed silk and silk chenille yarn at the Sweaterkits booth. I've admired a silk and chenille shawl many times but am not really a shawl person (the shawls I've been knitting have been more scarf size) but this time I happened upon the Silk Waves Scarf . It was quite expensive considering the kit only contained two 50g balls of yarn - one silk and one silk chenille - and a 4-row pattern. However, I'm not getting any younger and I have been wearing the scarf-sized shawls I've been making lately. I really liked the more pastel-y colourway but they only had the jewel-toned ones left so I went for it.

Basically it's the feather and fan pattern knit the length of the scarf alternating the silk yarn with the silk chenille yarn. I'm going to knit until I run out of yarn. And I'll take it with me tonight when Skip and I go to the public library to hear Linwood Barclay read from his new suburban thriller "Too Close To Home". We heard him read from his first thriller, "No Time for Goodbye" last year at a branch of the Oshawa Public Library and very much enjoyed the event. NTFG was a best seller in Germany before it was released in North America - second only to the 7th Harry Potter book.

We are long-time readers and fans of Linwood's columns from the Toronto Star from which he has took a leave-of-absence last year to write and promote his novels. He has since retired from The Star as the book thing worked out very well for him and Neetha took an early retirement from teaching last June. We particularly became endeared to Linwood during the provincial teacher's strike in 1998 when he wrote about it sympathetically in his columns. His wife, Neetha, is also a teacher so he was living with the results of the tyranny of the Mike Harris (I almost hate to befoul my blog with his name - ugh) government. I even sent him an e-mail thanking him for his writings. I was thrilled when he sent me back a reply. Then last year when my friend Suzanne got me hooked on Facebook, she dared me to ask Linwood to be my friend. So I sent him an invite and sure enough he accepted my offer. HA! He has lots of friends now on Facebook (but not as many as I do) but I was his friend way back when he only had a couple of dozen friends - I think I was number 19. I sent him a Facebook message when I heard he'd be in town so I plan to introduce myself tonight and ask him to autograph my copy of "No Time for Goodbye". I sure miss his columns.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Getting to the Mountaintop

I was glued to the TV last night watching the election results. I was prepared to stay up as long as necessary to hear the concession speech and the president-elect's first speech. Although the map of the US seemed to have a lot of red on it, many of the heavily populated states with the most electoral votes were blue. I anxiously waited to hear the results from Ohio - a bellwether (I looked up the correct spellling) state and sure enough it went to Obama. Could it be? Then all of a sudden, it was announced - Obama exceeded the 270 electoral votes he needed. It was SO exciting to see the assembled crowd. And THEN to see Jesse Jackson in tears and Oprah Winfrey in tears --- how nice for them all. How exciting it was to be able to witness history as it was being made.

This morning, I saw Jesse Jackson being interviewed. There was a lump in my throat when I saw a video clip of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have been to the mountaintop" speech from 40 years ago.

We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.


Many prominent African-Americans were interviewed today and almost all of them referred to Dr. MLK's words from either that speech or his 1963 "I Have a Dream Speech".

I saw an excellent PBS biography on both John McCain and Barack Obama last week and after seeing it, concluded that they are both great men. Although I despise McCain's politics, he certainly is a good, proud American. I was very impressed with his concession speech last night. Too bad he still had the Bush crap stuck to him for the election.

And I loved Obama's speech. He really will be the one to unify the US if anyone can. And good for him calling on everyone to help him. It's going to be a tough job. It amazes me that anyone would want the job. And I can only imagine what was going through Michelle Obama's mind...

I was so caught up in it all I forgot to go to Stitching Time with Vickie at Hedgehog Stitchery. So you KNOW how geeked up I was.

Today I wanted to work out and watch 'The View' so I went over to the gym and watched it while doing some time on the elliptical trainer and then the treadmill. I decided against a workout with weights as I was going to a Zumba class in the late afternoon. So I've had two pretty vigorous workouts today. I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight.

I'll get to a weight-training class tomorrow and maybe even will start stripping wallpaper off the downstairs bathroom. I want to lose one pound in the next week. I tried on some golf skirts that I haven't been able to wear in 4 years and can fit into all of them. The one golf skirt I wore last spring just hangs on me now. Whoopee!

Every time I sit down I do some knitting on the indigo Norwegian Woods shawl. I'm almost done the penultimate chart. Each row is taking 10+ minutes now. Chug, chug.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Odds and Ends

I've kind of had knitting ADD today. Maybe it was because of the extra hour of sleep that I got 'falling back'. I worked on the Clapotis Numéro Deux which I found buried in a bunch of UFOs. It's about half done.

I also continue to work on the indigo Norwegian Woods shawl. I finished the repeat of the second chart - budding leaves - and will begin the 'emerging leaves' chart next time I pick up the project. I ordered some KnitPicks Gloss Lace yarn in the Pinot, Port and Aegean colourways. It is extremely inexpensive, well regarded in most Ravelry projects I've seen it used in, has good yardage per skein (440 yd.) and has the blend of wool and silk that I like - 70/30 respectively. I look forward to working with it.

This evening I knit another petal bib using cornflower blue Creme de la Creme cotton worsted.

I also wet blocked the first clapotis. I wasn't completely happy with the look of it so after a good blocking into a rectangular shape, it looks much better and now measures 4" wider - 11" by 58".

I am going to try another solution to my felting dilemma with the felted socks. Martina and Vickie suggested I actually boil them to finish felting them completely. This may be a project I undertake tomorrow.

Skip and I got our flu shots yesterday - the first day they were available at a regional clinic. Any time I can get something free from the government, I'm there. I don't know if it's the flu shots or the fact that I wash my hands a lot and am no longer exposed to germy students but I haven't had a cold in 4 or 5 years. This is a good thing. What I'm doing seems to be working.