Friday, 31 July 2009

1000 Hits!

Several months ago, the counter on this blog froze at 770. About 2 weeks ago I finally figured out how to install a counter gadget and have been surprised at the number of hits I've been averaging - a little over 15 hits per day - and today I went over 1000. Cool!

I really enjoy keeping up the blog. I like to keep track of my activities in pictures and words and sometimes look back to see what I've done in the past. And if other people like following my activities, that's a bonus.

Today Skip and I drove out to the airport (on North America's busiest highway on a Friday before a long weekend - sigh) to greet Scooter as he alit from his return flight from Europe. He's been overseas for 3 1/2 weeks and has attended a tennis camp in Geneva, travelled to Basel and Bern, set foot in France, Switzerland in Germany simultaneously and spent a week in Venice. He had a 7 hour flight home from Amsterdam where he spent 5 hours on a layover from his flight from Geneva. We expected him to be totally bagged when he got off the plane. Instead, he seemed to be really geeked up to see us - especially his dad.

Here are my two loves.

Scooter somehow got even more handsome during his absence (if I do say so myself).

Skip and I are really looking forward to his arrival at our place next Tuesday.

On the way to YYZ I finished the Charade socks.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


I received a 30GB iPod from my colleagues as a retirement gift in June of 2007. Currently I have about 2500 tunes on it. I have also discovered podcasts and more particularly, knitting podcasts, and enjoy listening to them lying in bed as I fall asleep. When I was single, I used to read in bed before going to sleep, but the light bother's Skip's eyes so listening to podcasts is a great compromise.

Some of my favourite ones are:
Knit Picks' Podcast - Kelley Petkun of KnitPicks
Sticks & String Podcast - David Reidy, an Australian bloke who knits
She-Knits Small Talk Podcast - Sharon Dreifuss is a knitting designer and mother of 7 children - newer format
She-Knits Podcast: The Knitting Circle - old format
Ready Set Knit - podcast by Cathy and Steve Elkins, owners of WEBS in Southampton, MA
Lets knit2gether - a video podcast
Stitch Stud and His Bride
Yarn Thing (Crochet and Knitting)
Knitting News Cast
Stitch It!! Podcast

They're all free on iTunes and can be subscribed to so that when a new one comes out, it will automatically be downloaded into your iTunes. Past 'issues' are also archived and can be downloaded as well.

I blocked the Branching Out Numéro Deux and really liked how it came out.
The yarn is so soft and very drape-y.

I only used one skein of Drops Alpaca yarn - 197 yards - and used 5mm needles. I wanted the lace to be very open. This pattern is so versatile and can be used with laceweight through to worsted weight yarn. Even changing the needle size will change the look of it.

Monday, 27 July 2009


I have been having fun buying hand painted rovings for spinning. I usually get 4 oz. or 100 gr so I have at least enough to make a pair of socks (if I can spin and ply it thin enough) or a small scarf, neck-warmer, gloves or mitts.

This is the seacell/merino fleece I bought at The Black Lamb at the Spin In Public event a couple of weeks ago. On the right is what half of it looks like after spinning it as thinly as I am capable at this stage.

Then I found some Corriedale on ebay from The Red Barn Farm in northern Wisconsin. It arrived in the mail today with a free lavender sachet. Yum.

And here's the alpaca and silk fleece I bought at Edy's Mills last week.

I have been working on another Branching Out scarf for my up-coming lace classes at Myrtle Station Wool and Ferguson's Knitting in October. It doesn't look like much yet but will be awesome once finished and blocked.
For this sample, I'm using Drops Alpaca fingering yarn. This pattern is very versatile and almost any weight of yarn between laceweight and light worsted could be used. It's an excellent pattern for beginning lace knitters as there are only 5 rows of pattern (not counting the 'resting' or 'return' rows) and all the basics are covered such as: casting on; yarn overs; right, left and centre decreases; and binding off.

Branching Out is free from and a very popular pattern with 3899 of them (as I write this) on Ravelry. It could also be knit wider by repeating the pattern more times until the desired width is reached and is also published by Lion Brand pattern as Lacy Leaf Wrap.

Lace knitting initially requires a lot of concentration but once the pattern is established most patterns are pretty easy to follow.

The saga of the cancelled and re-issued debit card continued last Friday. When I tried to pay a couple of bills online, none of my accounts were on the bill-paying page for my new debit card. I thought, "Crap, do I have to set up each bill again?". There were 22 of them. Once again I called President's Choice Financial and the pleasant customer service person efficiently enabled my bill-paying. She was surprised it hadn't been done automatically when I got the new debit card. I told her that I had experienced quite a bit of frustration and inconvenience with this whole process. I again remarked that the front line people are the face of President's Choice Financial to the public and it's unfortunate that the incompetence of one employee can leave such a negative impression. The gal on the phone asked if I would accept 10,000 PCPoints for my inconvenience ($10 in groceries) and I quickly assured her that I would certainly appreciate that compensation.

Admittedly, this series of events is the first time I've had any problem with PCFinancial in the dozen or so years I've done banking with them. I like not having to pay a monthly fee. There are no transaction fees if I use CIBC ATMs. There's free chequing, accumulation of PCPoints which I can trade in for any merchandise at the Loblaws chain of stores, online banking and bill-paying, excellent interest rates on the savings accounts, and excellent RRSP, etc. I'm happy again.

At Zumba in Bowmanville today, I ran into my favourite Zumba teacher, Laura. She does the 5:45pm Monday class at the Oshawa Centre which I used to do regularly but since I discovered a 9:30am class in Bowmanville, I've been going there just to get my cardio out of the way on Mondays. It was great to see Laura and my intention is to go to the 5:45pm class as well today. I was VERY flattered when Laura asked if I've ever considered teaching Zumba. She suggested it was a good way to get cardio and get paid for it. I told her that I had taught for 30 years and that was enough for me but appreciated her vote of confidence.

Now, teaching knitting is TOTALLY different - at least in my mind. ;-)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

The Saga Continued

On Tuesday, Valerie and I went to Port Huron so I could pick up some replacement bamboo sock yarn for the project I lost during our trip to Rochester and another couple of skeins of the afghan yarn. That way, I'm sure to have enough yarn to sew the squares together and do the i-cord edge. By some miracle, I got the exact same dye lot and it's been more than a year since I bought the first bunch of afghan yarn. Freaky!

Later, at the mall, I tried to use the ATM to take out some US cash with my shiny, new debit card and it wouldn't work. On our way back to Canada, I stopped to fill up with gas and the pirates at the gas station were giving only $0.75 US for a Canadian dollar. That day the actual exchange was $0.89. Harumph. Valerie loaned me the US cash to pay for the gas and I reimbursed her in Canadian at the current rate.

Back in Sarnia, I went to the PC Financial kiosk at Loblaws and became very frustrated with their lack of acceptable explanation of why they blocked the debit card they had just given me the day before. Later, when I tried to access my MasterCard information online, I learned that another level of security had been implemented and in my attempt to log into my account, I was locked out. I find it particularly annoying when I try to do something online and can't, so I call the tech support number and before I get put into the queue am told by a recording that I can also use their online support. Um, DAH, if I could have used their online support, I wouldn't have had to call them. (Deep breath).

When I got home, I was reunited with my wallet and wrote a little poem to commemmorate the event:

Oh wallee, How I love thee.

I love thine plastic cards and jingly coins,

Thine coloured papers and photo ID.

I love thee from the depth and breadth of my heart.

Let us never again be apart.

I was a bit giddy, I admit.

I finished and blocked Skip's Labyrinth scarf.

I'm also working on the Drop Stitch Scarf from Spring/Summer 2009 Vogue Knitting. I have one ball of Alchemy Silk Purse so am making a narrow version.

Today, Skip and I had lunch at Campkin's of Wellingborough, the tea house in Brooklin where my Thursday afternoon knitting group meets.

Skip had a flashback to his mother's tea cups.

I particularly like the little tea cozies put on the individual pots of tea.

I have a bee in my bonnet to knit a Christmas stocking. I'm not sure who it will be for (anyone need a Christmas stocking?) so I'm going to leave the name off for now and duplicate stitch it later. I found a cool pattern (Mix-and-Match Christmas Socks) on Ravelry from this book, which happened to be in the public library. I picked the book up today and am now at the yarn selection phase.

I'm pretty excited to have a new (to me) library to go to. They carry the Vogue Knitting magazine, a cross-stitch magazine including back issues and a whole whack of knitting books I'll enjoy looking at. I suspect I will be spending quite a bit of time there in the near future.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Lost Cause and Former Students

Yesterday I set out for London (Ontario) to visit former-students-who-are-now-all-grown-up, Andrew Hui and Fr. Chris Gillespie at Andrew's place. We had a lovely dinner with Caroline and Jonathan, Andrew's wife and son, and caught up on what each of us had been doing since we were last together at Chris' ordination in 1997. Lady, Chris' well-behaved black lab, sat under the table and tried to lean against as many of our feet as she could.

So here we are, 21 years after they left my tutelage.

This morning, I reached for my wallet into my purse to see if I needed to visit a bank machine and it wasn't there. I checked the car, my suitcase, my other bags - no wallet. Crap!

I called Skip and asked him to look around my computer as I remembered having the wallet there yesterday. No luck. Crap! It was about 8:15am at this point so I headed to the nearest PC Financial kiosk at Loblaws Superstore so I could suspend my MasterCard and debit card. I was getting pretty hungry by this point as I didn't have any cash on me except US cash. I couldn't get a replacement until 10am when someone was to come on duty so I drove to Sarnia and went to the TD bank to suspend my VISA. Of course, the gal that helped me out was a former student whom I taught in 1978. Almost every time I return to Sarnia, I run into someone I used to teach. Fortunately, I had my passport with me so had some photo ID to verify who I was even if I hadn't run into a former student.

Arriving at Valerie's, we had lunch and then headed to an 80th birthday party, then to Edy's Mills, a mini-mill near Petrolia where they process fleece into roving and yarn. The proprietors also run an alpaca farm where 97 contented alpacas live. After dinner we went to Tay's (my niece's) for a Pampered Chef party. All of the bonuses and gifts she would have made on the party are being cashed out and put towards the MS Ride this weekend from Grand Bend to London and back (150+ km!). Tay (aka Rosa) is riding in honour of her sister-in-law, Taylor who is 17. Taylor has been fighting for her life against bone cancer and last week had half of her pelvis and the top of her tibia removed at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Instead of heading off to Wilfrid Laurier University in the fall, Taylor faces at least a year of rehabilitation. At Tay's, there were 2 former students from St. Pat's and a gal whose sister I used to hang around with back in 1967 - 1969 - sheesh!

When we got back to Valerie's before going out to dinner, I checked my e-mail and wouldn't you know it? Skip found the wallet near my computer. YAY! So I called TC VISA and PC MasterCard to tell them to unsuspend my cards. And I heaved a bit sigh of relief. All day I had been making mental notes of what cards I was going to have to get replaced - library cards, blood donor card, driver's licence, health card, etc., etc. Not only had Skip e-mailed me about finding the wallet, he left me a Facebook message, he called Tay, sent her a Facebook message, called Valerie. I wondered why he just didn't call me on my cell phone but he has trouble remembering the number - IT'S ON THE FRIDGE!

I hate losing stuff. But I like finding stuff and I'm generally pretty good at finding stuff. Oh yeah, when I was looking all through my car for my wallet I found Skip's change purse he'd been looking for the past few days. So it wasn't a total lost cause.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Hail Storm!

Saturday evening at about 7:20pm, we had a violent hailstorm. We sustained no serious damage, although the marble-sized hailstones went right through many of our hosta leaves and shredded may others.

The wind and hail blew through our front door screen (which wasn't in that good shape anyway).

resulting in hailstones and shredded leaves in the front hall of the house.

The temperature dropped from 70F to 50F in the span of about 3/4 hour. This is what our deck looked like after the storm.

And here was the view out our front door.

I was very glad both cars were in the garage and didn't get dented.

Finally - The Last Square!

Last summer I began the Great American Aran Afghan with Lion Brand Wool-Ease worsted weight yarn. I finished about 18 squares using several squares from the book and a few of my own design, including one from Alice Starmore's "Fisherman's Sweaters" book. Some time ago, I bought the pattern book for The Great American Afghan and recently completed the last two squares for my afghan using designs from this book. Melissa Leapman's cat square

and Sally Melville's square.

I have the equivalent of 2.5 balls of this yarn left which I will use to sew it all together. I'm thinking of making an i-cord border around the whole thing once it's piece together.

My Handspun

Last week, Paula helped me refine my spinning technique such that I'm now able to spin fairly thin - dare I say laceweight? - yarn. Here is the best of my first attempts.

Not being satisfied with naturally coloured alpaca yarn, I beetled over to Kniterary and bought some Sweet Sheep hand-dyed superwash merino. Here is 180yd. after I spun, plied and wound it into a hank.

I'm going to knit a pair of socks with this, reinforcing the heel and toe.

Yesterday, I went to Port Hope for a spinning event at The Black Lamb.

We assembled in the parking lot behind the store and set up our spinning wheels.

I was the only one that had my style of Louet wheel. Everyone else's looked more modern and in some cases made out of plywood but mine was the 'purtiest'. It is designed and stained to look like a lovely piece of furniture.

Most people were surprised I had only been spinning for only a week, considering the thinness of the yarn I was creating. I hoped to win a prize for being the newest spinner but there was a gal there who was spinning that day for the very first time!

Mary and Paula were there, and I met Jody, aka Gypsy Spinner, and Missy from Painted Fleece.

I bought some more fleece to play with, too.

Last night I finished spinning and plying the rest of the Sweet Sheep fleece so now can start knitting my first handspun socks.

Friday, 10 July 2009


The first movie I remember terrifying me was 'Bambi'. I was only about 3 or 4 at the time and I had to be taken out of the theatre during the forest fire scene because I started crying hysterically. It was pretty intense for an animated feature. When I was about 11, I saw the Audrey Hepburn/Cary Grant movie, "Charade". I believe the Henry Mancini title song won an Academy Award that year. But I had nightmares about one of the scenes for quite some time after that. It was the scene where James Coburn is found dead in a hotel room. His one foot had been tied to a radiator and he had been suffocated with a plastic bag over his head. The agonized look on his face was terrifying to me. In the pile of the carpet he had scribed with his finger the word "DYLE" the name of the Cary Grant character. I think the carpet was light green. See? I still remember it vividly and my recollections were accurate when I watched the movie only a couple of years ago.

I've been working on the 'Charade' socks which are not at all terrifying. Today I finished the first sock and it is beautiful - if I do say so myself.

I can't recommend the Misti Alpaca sock yarn enough. It is lovely to work with, makes a very soft, light fabric and these socks will be a welcome addition to my winter sock complement.

Skip has had a hard lump on one of his fingers since February, then it seemed to heal up. Last week the lump was back and annoying enough that it was interfering with Skip's golf grip so he tried to release the pressure but it just swelled up. He went to the doctor on Monday and she gave him a 10-day course of antibiotics but by Wednesday, the finger was even more inflamed and it looked like blood poisoning to me. He went back to the doctor yesterday and she immediately sent him across the street to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics. The doctor at the hospital cut open the finger, drained the abcess, cleaned the finger and stitched it back up. Skip has begun a course of 6 treatments returning to the hospital every 8 hours for them. As fate would have it, yesterday was probably one of the nicest days we've had all summer and unfortunately, Skip couldn't golf with his golf league. He is not amused. Hopefully he will be healed well enough to golf with his league next Thursday. As it is, he will likely be unable to play until then.

He's kind of smiling here but he's really not very happy about it.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Leaf and Nupp Shawl

Today I got the Leaf and Nupp Shawl blocked. It ended up being 19" x 66".

I cast on the Triangular Scarf in Leaf Pattern from Nancy Bush's "Knitted Lace of Estonia" - my current favourite knitting book. This is the 7th pattern I've knit from this wonderful book containing 14 project patterns plus additional stitch and border patterns. I'm using laceweight Shetland wool in 'peacock' colourway.

Progress is being made on the Charade socks with the lovely, squishy Misti Alpaca sock yarn - 50% alpaca, 30% merino wool, 10% silk, 10% nylon. I'm on the home stretch of the first sock.

I deviated from the pattern by using my favourite 'eye of partridge' heel. I love the look of it when using hand dyed or other multicoloured yarn.

Here's the EOP pattern:

Row 1 - (sl1, K1) to end of row, turn
Row 2 - sl1, purl to end of row, turn
Row 3 - sl1, (sl 1, K1) to end of row, turn
Row 4 - sl1, purl to end of row, turn

Repeat these 4 rows until heel flap is the length you want.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


One of my knitting friends, Nancy, loaned me her spinning wheel a few weeks ago. My first attempts were successful but still in need of a lot of refinement. Today I went to Paula's and we spent a few peaceful hours spinning on her porch.

Here, I'm plying the two bobbins of singles I spun.

She coached me through carding the fleece into 'rolags' and monitored and corrected my drafting technique. The result is much better quality yarn.

All 42g (1.5 oz.) of it!

This Sunday is a Spin In Public event at The Black Lamb in Port Hope. Weather permitting, I'll go! Hopefully, I'll be able to check out their fleece and expand my horizons a bit. It will be so cool to be among spinners.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Gadgets and Dim Sum and Yarn. Oh My!

Skip and I got up early today to go to Lee Valley to pick up a couple of gadgets for Skip's gardening. We felt peckish after that so headed to Unionville for lunch at our favourite 'dim sum' restaurant, Grand Lake Chinese Cuisine & Banquet just south of Hwy. 7 on Kennedy. We had delicious shu mai, har gow, stir fried sticky rice and deep fried shrimp wrapped in a won ton wrapper. I could not resist the cold mango pudding, custard egg tarts and tapioca pudding so I pigged out and had all three. Eeeek! I think I'm going to pay for that.

Then we headed to Mary's Yarns on Main St. in Unionville just north of the railroad tracks. I picked up some squishy, Madil wool/cashmere yarn on sale 1/2 price and 4 balls of Magic Garden Allsorts (3 blue and 1 yellow) for the Frazer baby boy due November 4.

On the way home we drove through Whitevale so I could take a look at Whitevale Crafts but it was closed with a sign saying it would be re-opening on August 6. So I have a while to wait before I can check out their spinning supplies.

Using the Allsorts yarn, I've cast on the Garter Ridge Baby Cardigan from Lion Brand. The body will be blue and most of the sleeves will be yellow.

I'm also progressing on the Charade socks. It's a very easy stitch pattern and knits up quite quickly.

The herringbone ribbed pattern doesn't really show up THAT clearly but it makes for a very stretchy sock leg and looks nice nonetheless.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Just When I Thought I'd Heard of Everything

Today while I was looking at stuff on Ravelry I happened upon a link to String Theory which linked to a Ravelry group called Knot A Problem. Evidently members of this group "love to untangle or detangle skeins of yarn that are in a big, giant, tangled mess!". So if you have some yarn that is so tangled you want to start taking scissors to it, STOP! Take a deep breath and look up one of the over 140 people ready, willing and able to detangle your yarn. Most people don't charge anything to provide this service - you just pay the mailing costs each way. One gal asked for 2 cents per ounce or chocolate as payment.

I just looked at one of the threads and someone was suggesting ways to create a big tangle. She thought she'd get 10 different skeins of acrylic yarn and tumble them in the dryer for a few minutes. It's kind of creepy - like I've stumbled on the seamy underbelly of the knitter's world, somehow. Oh well, whatever floats your boat.

I've been kinda bummed out these past few days. I was SO close to finishing my drop stitch scarf that I knit with bamboo/nylon yarn and sometime on our trip last week I LOST THE PROJECT!!! I didn't lose the magazine that had the pattern, just the scarf (90% done), the rest of the yarn and a lovely pair of KnitPicks Harmony Wood 3.75 needles. Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

There is no LOST category for Ravelry projects so I guess I'll just leave it in its WIP state.

One of my new knitting buddies, Kaila (aka Kniterella), inspired me to knit Charade socks using some beautiful Misti Alpaca sock yarn.

She found the socks she knit were aggravatingly too tight so I've cast on an additional 8 stitches to make them big enough. The yarn is very soft so I'm using 2.25mm needles so they'll wear well. I just love working with that yarn.

Through a new friend on Ravelry, I found a very cool, free pattern for a Lace Jewelry Frame using a small amount of fancy yarn and an ornate picture frame (without the glass). It's perfect for organizing and displaying earrings and a quick gift idea.

I practiced spinning some yarn yesterday and although my product lacks consistency, I'm getting a better feel for it. Paula has offered to teach me the finer points of spinning so I'm going to spend a day at her place next week. I'd love to spin enough yarn (about 70g) to make a pair of socks. If I can't get the yarn thin enough, I'll spin enough to make some fingerless gloves. Of course, before knitting the yarn, I'm going to dye it. I have a Hand-Dyeing and Handspinning book on order.

So much to learn ... so little time.