Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Snowbound! (Well Almost...)

Skip and I had a lovely holiday at what I call "The Spa". Actually, it's my BFF, Marion's, daughter's lovely post and beam home outside of London, ON near Komoka. We arrived last Saturday bearing leftovers from our Christmas dinner which we enjoyed for dinner that evening. After dinner, a friend from high school, Cathy Cleave and her daughter Jean, came to visit and knit. Except for saying hello for a few minutes in 2006 at our high school's reunion, I hadn't seen Cathy since 1972! Cathy claims I taught her how to crochet in high school. Now, she is an avid knitter and, like me, has recently retired and taken up spinning. It was nice for Marion and me to have a couple of knitters to hang out with.

Sunday, we went to my niece's place for lunch near Camlachie - a hamlet in the town of Plympton-Wyoming on the shores of Lake Huron about 25km east of Sarnia. It was nice seeing her family as well as my sister who was visiting there as well.

I think the Fetching hand warmers I gave to my grand-niece were a big hit as Andrea promptly put them on, wore them through lunch and still had them on when we left a couple of  hours later.

My nephew, Darryl, seemed to like the hat I knit especially for him.

Monday, Marion and I ventured to the Little Red Mitten, a delightful yarn shop in St. Thomas, 25 km south of London, ON. I bought a couple of skeins of Briggs and Little Durasport (sock yarn) to knit some more Selbuvotter.

Speaking of Selbuvotter, I finished another pair of them. This pair will go in the Durham Hand Knitting Guild's display at the Whitby Public Library for the month of January. I have to get them and a few other items to Martina tomorrow so she can take them to the library.

These mittens will eventually be on sale.

This morning we woke up to this.

There was a massive snow squall from Grand Bend to Port Stanley. As we were staying near Komoka, we were right in the line of the squall. The snow was very light and fluffy. Marion, Skip and I moved snow around for a bit but lacked proper shovelling equipment.

Here I am with the snow up to my knees. It wasn't cold or windy - just lots and lots of the fluffy white stuff.

Skip went down the driveway to the road and as luck would have it, a guy was going by in his spiffy new Kubota front-end loader. He was an NHL player, possibly from the Maple Leafs, and he lives in the neighbourhood. He kindly consented to clear out the driveway so we could get out and drive home.

Our hero (whoever he was) to the rescue!

As soon as we made it to the 401 from the 402, there was no more snow falling and the roads got barer and drier as we continued eastward - altho' the temperatures were dropping and the wind was picking up. There had been no snowfall at all outside of the line of the snow squall. Freaky!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Annemor #12 - The Second

I finished the second pair of Annemor #12 mittens - this time in black and white.

They are so fun to knit! It's like knitting about half of a sock (in comparing the number of stitches) - and no heel turning! As long as one is comfortable with two-colour knitting, they're so easy. My preferred method of two-colour knitting has me holding one colour in each hand. I 'throw' with my left hand and 'pick' with my right. Because I am a fairly tight knitter - I also knit them inside out so that the strands are at their maximum apogee.

The thumb is a hybrid gusset/peasant thumb. The original pattern was for gloves so I just repeated the star pattern and began the decreases once I finished the widest part at the top of the second star.

I have cast on the next pair - this time a 'rose' pattern based on the eight-sided star. It's Annemor #11 and I'm knitting with dark grey and white yarn. This pair will be for me.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

We decided to have our Christmas dinner last night while Scooter was still with us. It's his mother's turn to have him on Christmas morning and day this year. The capon we got from the butcher was delicious! Skip doesn't particularly like turkey leftovers and since we had turkey at Easter AND Thanksgiving, we had capon this time. From the first bite we could tell it was going to be delicious. I am now ruined for those raggedy old rotisserie chickens or whole chickens that are sold at the grocery store.

Scooter opened his gifts from us after lunch. He deemed it a 'good haul'. We are quite pleased with ourselves as he didn't give his father and me a list this year.

Last weekend he did ask me to knit him some gloves he could use with his iTouch, so I used Ruth Bendig's Hogwarts House gloves and knit a little flap for the index finger.  I don't know how impressed Scooter was with the gloves but I had a lot of fun knitting them.

This morning we had a brief power outage and since then I have not been able to boot up my PC. Argh!  The computer is about 5 years old but it has enough memory and a big enough hard drive - I just want it to start! Waaaah. I guess I'll have to take it in for a diagnosis next week. Pooh!

This is the empathetic sticky note that Skip stuck on my monitor this afternoon.

It certainly captures the essence of my mood now that I have had to resort to using my old laptop exclusively.

He got a variety of sticky notes like this from his friend, Bob, for his birthday. In a quest for some to use with my knitting, I snagged a few that say "Balls".

I'm rather bummed out about the failure to boot as my last backup onto my external hard drive was a couple of weeks ago. I will be able to get most photos back from people I sent them to but am lamenting the loss of some of my teaching notes. Hopefully the techies I'll take my CPU to next week will be able to fix the booting issue. Now, to find the CDs that came with the computer....

I finished Yvonne's Selbuvotter Annemor #12 mittens in black and white.

They look very spiffy and I have cast on another pair in grey and white using the Annemor #11 pattern. They're for me.

I can't locate my Moose Loves Roses mittens. I have no idea where I've put them. I don't think I left them anywhere outside of the house but I'd sure like to find them.

Here we are as we were getting ready to head out to our friends' , Norm and Lena, for a Swedish Christmas Eve. You can read about what it entails here.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a restful and enjoyable holiday with your friends and family.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Ornament Exchange

At the Trillium Embroidery Guild December meeting last week, we celebrated the festive season by having pot luck snacks and sweets. Another tradition is to exchange hand stitched ornaments. Participation in the exchange is voluntary but even if one doesn't participate, it's fun to watch how the exchange works. When it is your turn to select a wrapped ornament, you may either take one that hasn't been claimed yet or steal one from someone who has already selected one. Once all the packages have been selected, they're opened and the recipients display the ornament they received on the bulletin board and learns who it was that crafted it.

Here are this year's ornaments from the exchange: (click on photo for detail)

This one was two-sided:

And this covered box wasn't technically an 'ornament' but certainly a beautiful seasonal item:

During the meetings, when we're not learning something, ooohing and aaahing over someone's work or, in the case of last week's meeting, eating and drinking, we go around and look at things people have brought in to show off.

The (Whitby) Trillium Embroidery Guild meets from 7pm to 9pm on the 3rd Wednesday of every month from September to June at the Whitby Public Library (Central Branch). Interested stitchers are welcome to attend their first meeting for free. Thereafter it's $5 per meeting or $40 for the year's membership.Interested? Come and join us! The next meeting will be on January 20, 2010.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Olympic Excitement!!!!

When Skip checked the route of the Olympic torch relay last week he noted that it would be passing ('x' on the map) only a few metres from our house.

The bad news is that it would be at about 5:40am! However, it is not every day that the Olympic torch passes by so Skip and I got ourselves up shortly after 5am, donned several layers of clothing to cope with the -20C (with wind-chill) temperature and headed out the door over to the corner to witness this historic event.

Not surprisingly, there were several other like-minded, early-rising townspeople assembling to take in the event - including our neighbour dogs, Rudy (in the red sweater) and Oscar (in blue) and their owner.

First came a grouping of vehicles including the bus with several torch bearers inside. Relay participants were being dropped about 300m apart along the route.

Our young lady alit amid a surge of cries of the enthusiastic crowd. Her shiny, white torch was ready to be lit.

A few minutes later another group of vehicles approached in preparation for the relay participant with his lighted torch held high. I love how one can see the maple leaf on his right mitten. (click on the photo!)

Right at our corner he joined the next participant and lighted her torch from his and off she went amid more enthusiastic cries from all those assembled.

Then came the bus that picked up him and his now-extinguished torch. And that was pretty much it.

It was pretty exciting, albeit briefly.

In knitting news, I have completed the first black and white Annemor #12 I'm knitting for Yvonne.

I still need to knit the thumb but I have cast on the 2nd mitten and have the cuff completed and about half of the first star pattern.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Annemor #12 - Done!

I've been knitting on various projects and have finished the Selbu mittens, Annemor #12.

Ta - da!

They still need to be blocked and I'm going to wet block them, rather than steam block them. I think that will plump up the yarn and allow me to loosen up the cuffs a bit. Otherwise, I'm very pleased with them.

Except for doing the afterthought heels on the Out of This World socks, I have finished them, too. I don't think I'll have enough of the Regia Galaxy yarn to do the heels so I'll use black.

Monday, 7 December 2009

I ♥ Selbuvotter

I have recently become intrigued with knitting Scandinavian mittens. When searching on Ravelry I kept seeing patterns from Terri Shea's book "Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition" so I ordered the book from KnitPicks during their recent 40% off book sale.

The patterns are reproductions of actual old mittens and gloves knit in the Selbu (an area of Norway about 400km below the Arctic Circle) tradition. They are from two sources, the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle (NHM) and the private collection of Annemor Sundbø, a Norwegian textile designer and teacher of weaving.
The pattern I chose is called Annemor #12 and is actually a glove (vanter) pattern in the book that I modified to make mittens (votter). The first modification was to do the Latvian braid on the cuff. First, I cast on with the two colours. Then I knit blue on the blue cast-on stitch and white on white. The next step is to purl colour on colour always bringing the desired colour around to the front from the other colour. The next row you purl colour on colour again, this time bringing the yarn around behind the other colour. I then knit two rows of white. Then I knit the cuff rows from the chart, knit two more white rows then repeated the Latvian braid by first knitting alternating the colours.

The Latvian braiding is the most tedious part of the whole project because you are twisting the two yarns in the same direction for 60 stitches when casting on, then the same direction when doing the first purl braid. (That's 120 twists!) Then twisting in the other direction with doing the second purl braid. It might also be noted I did this riding in the back seat of the car on the way to Scooter's piano recital in The Big City in the last hour of sunlight. I got a few rows done on the cuff before I had to pay attention at the recital and finished the cuff at home later that night.

When knitting the back of the mitten, I didn't exactly duplicate the star above the first one as I thought it would make the mitten excessively long so I simplified it a bit. It turns out I could have duplicated it but I think it looks OK as it is.

On the palm, I put 17 stitches on waste yarn for the thumb and then cast on 17 stitches using the twisted loop method. I came back and knit the thumb in pattern after I had the rest of the mitten done.

I had to fiddle with the pattern a bit for the decreases for the fingers as the honeycomb pattern didn't match the rate of decrease I needed. But I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

 Today when I was looking at Annemor's collection of mittens, I saw the original one and noted the palm decreases had been done the same way I did them.

 I ♥ Selbuvotter.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A Trip to the Library

Today was a lovely, sunny day. I had a bunch of errands to run and I refused to wear a coat even though it was only about 5C. In between stops, I soaked up the sunshine and just lived 'in the moment' savouring the beautiful (although breezy) weather. One of my last stops was the library in the next town to pick up a book I had on reserve, "Latvian Mittens" by Lizbeth Upitis. I was going to ask Santa for it but was thrilled when I checked the library's catalogue online last week and learned that they had it.  Yay!

My next stop was at my own town's public library. It has lots of windows and lots of nice places to sit and look at books and magazines. They subscribe to "Creative Knitting" magazine and I enjoy having a good look at it on my visits - including the back issues kept under the display shelf.

Today I took out these books that interested me: (sorry about the glare)
 "In Sheep's Clothing" was in a completely different section (677) of the library from the knitting books. I only found it by searching for the keyword 'spinning' under the subject.  The rest were in the usual knitting section (746).  I am intrigued by twined knitting but my first impression is that it seems to be a lot of work. And I rather dislike getting my yarn all twisted. But I'm going to give it a shot. I saw some lovely twined items at Rhinebeck.

Our library has a very good collection of knitting books. I find ones I haven't seen before every time I go there. One of the librarians is a knitter, from what I'm told, and seems to be ordering a good variety of new books. The knitting section in the library one town the other direction primarily has books from the 80s and very little which appeals to me. Our library also has a great coffee shop where I can get a good latte to sip on while I read. I often take some knitting to work on while I peruse the books.

Today, a woman sat down at my table and asked me if I had knit my sweater - I had my "Must Have Cardigan" on. I said I did and noticed her lovely scarf. We started yakking and learned she is a knitting addict like I am. She was bemoaning the fact that she felt so isolated as a knitter. And...she hadn't heard of Ravelry. WELL! I whipped out a pen and piece of paper at warp speed wrote the URL down for her as well as when my monthly knitting guild meets (second Wednesday of the month in that same library) and where and when my two Sit 'n Knits occur every week ( Thursday from 1 - 3 at Myrtle Station Wool and Ferguson's Knitting and Thursday from 7 - 9 at Kniterary in Whitby. She seemed truly pleased to meet another knitter and to learn of opportunities to hang out with other knitters on a regular basis.

I feel like such a knitting 'missionary' sometimes. LOL.

This evening after dinner, I made some chocolate oatmeal macaroons and a batch of the prize-winning ($1 Million in the Pillsbury Bake-off) Double Delight Peanut Butter cookies. I heard about the peanut butter cookies on Oprah a while back and printed out the recipe. Both types of cookies turned out really well. I need to package them up to give away so I won't be tempted to dip into them. Scooter is with us this weekend so I'm sure he'll put a big dent in our cookie inventory.

After cleaning up, I made some cute stitch markers! (again, pardon the glare)
I patterned them after some I got in a UK knitting magazine a while back that has a freebie in each issue. I bought some little beading pliers yesterday as well as the jump rings and star beads. If I can find the bigger beads less expensively, I could make a whole bunch of stitch markers. These will fit up to at least a 5.5mm needle. I'm totally winging the beading technique-wise. I know very little about how to do beading properly. But I like my results.

I'm also still planning some Christmas knitting. I found a pattern I liked but will be modifying it a bit which will involve some more research. For now, it's a stealth project.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

A Yarny Christmas

My BFFs (Best Fibre Friends) Elaine and Marion and I made our yarny Christmas wreaths at Marion's today. We've been planning this for months and modeled ours after last year's Starbucks Christmas wreaths.

Georgie snoozed by the fire in his basket.

We played and sang along with some of our favourite Christmas CDs including Barry Manilow's, Barbara Streisand's, Harry Connick Jr.'s, and a couple of traditional carol CDs.

We wrapped styrofoam balls with yarn and planned our layouts. We then started hot glueing and wiring our yarn balls and unbreakable (plastic) ornaments to the wire wreath frames.

Ta Da!                           Elaine's                                                                 Marion's

I had to make two smallish wreaths because I have a double front door. I have broken out my festive attire now that it is December. In my former life - when I was working - I sported a different outfit for every school day during the month of December. I out-dressed many a colleague who attempted to compete with me and always won awards for the most festively dressed teacher. I still continue this sartorial tradition every year.
When I got home I added a few 1" diameter red and gold balls from my former door wreaths to fill in some of the little gaps.

We're already planning our Ukrainian Easter egg (pysanky) drawing session which will be taking place chez moi next March.

We're so crafty!