Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas in Review

This Christmas was rather low-key but lots of fun. Skip has a variety of inflatable outdoor ornaments. This year, Santa cyclically emerged from the chimney on our front porch.

I have a little (yet mighty) family so we take every opportunity to expand our circle and spend time with friends, especially at this time of year. This year we were invited to my long-time friend, Lorna's, for Christmas dinner. Since we had already ordered our Christmas capon (Skip likes turkey but doesn't like turkey leftovers so prefers having a capon instead), we decided to make our own celebration with it and all the fixings and used the Winter Solstice as the excuse. It was delicious.

The next evening, we were invited to my BFF (Best Fibre Friend), Marion's, for dinner and enjoyed yet another yummy meal in tasteful surroundings.
Marion has a real flair for style and design and changes her décor from season to season.

Then on Christmas Eve, we enjoyed more camaraderie with our friends, Norm and Lena, who are Skip's former neighbours.
Lena and Norm
Here, Scooter and Skip are anxiously awaiting the announcement that "dinner is served".

Lena's traditional Swedish dinner once again exceeded all our expectations.
Christmas morning, we got up at a reasonable time.  This is what the scene looked like before we ripped everything open. Our stockings (all knit, needle-pointed and cross-stitched by me respectively) were moved to the wall unit when Skip lit the fireplace.

Then we opened our presents.
This was lots of fun when Scooter was younger. Now it's just nice to be together as a family with our traditional TV fireplace going beside the real fireplace.

I like to reminisce about Christmases past. That snowman stocking at the left above dates from 1961. I remember that special Christmas because my dad had remarried that month and my new mom, who later legally adopted me after his death 6 years later, decided we needed some Christmas traditions.

This was our 'girl' photo that year. My older sister, Valerie, made the best of the situation. She wasn't 100% thrilled to have a step-mother, especially so soon after our mother's death. 
Geri (age 7), Mabel and Valerie (age 16)

As a family that year, we baked and decorated cookies and all got Christmas stockings. I don't think we ever had any before then.  I still remember several gifts I got that Christmas: a 7-year-old-Geri-sized platform rocker, an inflatable Santa with weighted rocker feet and my chalkboard (not pictured).
Geri on her new rocker with Santa and Dad demonstrates his new seltzer maker
 I remember being very happy to have a mama again, as my first mother had died earlier that year after a lengthy battle with cancer which had begun when I was 5. And Dad certainly was happier.

Another new tradition was to string wires up around the living room and hang Christmas cards from them (we weren't a family of tall people).
Dad and Mabel
Somehow I retained possession of my brother, George's, stocking after all these years. I like to put it out just to remember him (he died at age 26 in 1973) and that very special Christmas.

After opening our presents this year, we planned what we were going to buy with our gift cards and played with our new stuff.

Then we were off to Lorna's for her scrumptious turkey dinner with cranberries and dressing, squash, broccoli, potatoes, raspberry ripple dessert and a variety of cookies and sweets. 
Geri, Skip, Lorna, Megan and Scooter
Lorna and Geri
I'm SO lucky to have nice friends and a nice family.
Spending Christmas with these two guys is my favourite part of it.

Norwegian Woods II

In October 2008, I put this Norwegian Woods shawl down only 12 rows away from completing it. I decided I wanted to add beads to the edge and needed to find the right ones. There it sat until last Monday. I finished it and finally got it blocked.

Sivia Harding's pattern depicts a forest progressing from winter into spring. At the neck are the Winter Branches, then the Budding Twigs, to Emerging Leaves then the Leaf and Bower.
The Norwegian Woods shawl used just over a ball of Fiddlesticks Zephyr laceweight yarn - 660 yards. This yarn has been renamed Fantastic Knitting Laceweight. This is the Indigo colourway. This outdoor photo washed the colour out quite a lot. The indoor photos are more true.
The pinning of the points took a long time. In fact, the shawl was almost dried before I finished pinning and I had to re-wet it.
I used an opaque blue bead and silver lined clear bead every three stitches along the edge. The blue bead doesn't really show up - oh well.
All that pinning was worth it.
I'm pleased to have another long-standing UFO finished. Yay! Although I completed it in 2010, it doesn't count in the "10 Shawls in 2010" because I didn't start it this year. No matter - I'm just glad to have it done.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Quick Knit

Copying Oprah's "My Favourite Things" theme, I made that my theme for this year's Christmas gift buying for one of my friends. This evening I wanted to whip up a dishcloth for her. I managed to complete it while watching "TheGirl Who Played With Fire" in Swedish with English subtitles. Thank goodness it was garter stitch.
I also finished the Norwegian Woods II shawl but it needs to be blocked (as well as the Citron shawl) but my blocking area (Scooter's bed) will be in use, at least at night, until after Christmas Day. Then there will be a flurry of blocking and photo taking.

The Internet connection tonight is painfully slow, probably due to everyone in the neighbourhood being online, so I'm going to bail and head to bed. I still have one card to buy and that should be it for my shopping. Then I may even go to the mall just to be amidst the hustle and bustle of desperate last minute shoppers. And I really need to get my butt to the gym!

Monday, 20 December 2010

St. Moritz Sweater

There's nothing like natural light for photographing knitwear (or anything else for that matter). With only a couple of days until the Winter Solstice, our daylight hours are limited. However, when I got home from shopping today, I found skip decorating our little Christmas tree and wearing his new sweater.
I made him go outside so I could get some official photos of the St. Moritz sweater. 
And a back view.
He likes the patch on the sleeve. The patch normally comes with a kit but I ordered the yarn, pattern and patch separately as I already had the white and black Dale of Norway Heilo yarns in my stash. KnitPicks Telemark yarn is a dead ringer for Heilo and a real bargain for $1.99 per 50g skein.
 Here's a closeup of the patch.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Enfin C'est Fini!

I finally finished it! Last night I got up the courage to cut the steeks and get the sleeves sewn in.

The pink yarn shows where I'm going to cut for the sleeve steek and the pin shows the terminus of the cut. I didn't bother trying to avoid the 'jog' in the pattern as the cut would abut the sleeve anyway.

Here, I've folded back the two cut edges. You can see the sewing machine stitching two stitches in from the cut and on either side of the pink yarn line. (click on photo to enlarge)
According to the instructions, the shoulder seam is supposed to show the purl bumps. It seemed strange to me but I did it anyway. The sleeve went in surprisingly easy.
I like the way the facings cover the raw seam.
I bought the sleeve patch on eBay several months ago. I think it looks very nifty!

I look like a linebacker in drop shoulder sweaters but Skip was napping when I wanted to take the final photos.
If I ever locate the gold yarn, it would be very easy to rip back the crew neck and re-knit it with the two rows each of gold and red before finishing it with the black yarn.

I still need to weave in the many yarn ends and sew the official patch on the left sleeve. There will be more pics to follow with the proud owner modeling it.

Good news! We received our invitation for the traditional Swedish Christmas Eve party at our friends' place so Skip will be able to wear his sweater there.

I have two other Dale of Norway pattern books. This one from the Vancouver Olympics.
And this one commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Norwegian Ski Association.
I'm not too keen on the design of the Anniversary Design 2008 but the pattern is for a raglan sweater which looks much better on me than a drop sleeve.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Monday was Skip's birthday - not one of those milestone birthdays but certainly a day for celebration.

I found us a hotel/dinner/breakfast deal at the Hilton Fallsview Hotel in Niagara Falls in a two bedroom suite with a king bed and TV in each bedroom. There was a huge Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom and a fireplace in one of the bedrooms.

At 6:30am on Monday, my alarm clock rang. Skip wondered what the heck was going on because I normally don't get up that early. I handed him his birthday card in the dark and said, "Here's your card. Turn on the light and find your glasses so you can read it". Inside I had a gift card for him and a message to get packed because we were going to Niagara Falls for a day or two.

We both ran around preparing for our departure. I had made sure to get all our clothes laundered the day before and for someone to come in to feed the cat during our absence. We got on the road by about 10am and after a lunch break along the way, got to the Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls by about 1pm. It had been recommended to me by my friend, Pam, knowing that we were avid birders.  Skip got in free because it was his birthday and I had printed a discounted coupon before we left. We pretty much had the place to ourselves.

There are several areas to Bird Kingdom - a reptile exhibit, a small bird enclosure and a three storey open large bird area which includes a lorikeet cage and an indoor tropical paradise for the other large birds.
African Grey Parrot
Blue-cheeked Toucan
Golden Pheasant
Scarlet Ibis
Love Birds ♥

After that, we made our way to the Hilton. Pam had given us the tip to take the Fallsview Casino self-park entrance and go up to the 5th level where we could walk across the walkway to the Mezzanine of the Hilton. That way parking cost $5 instead of $20 for valet parking. We then checked in and got accustomed to our environs.
Skip with his new MacBook by the fireplace and TV

Skip watching Don Paul, the WDIV (Buffalo) meteorologist
The Galleria of shops at the Fallsview Casino

Skip at the fountain under the dome at  the Fallsview Casino
♫ "Oh the weather outside is frightful"♫ (on the walkway over Fallsview Ave.)
View of the American Falls from our 32nd floor suite
Our view of the Fallsview Casino/Hotel and Horseshoe Falls
Finally the sun makes an appearance!
One striking thing about our time there is the absence of people. It was a weekday but there was only a handful of people everywhere we went - at the hotel, casino, coffee shops, restaurants and stores.  Niagara Falls is really hurting in this current economic climate, given that the US dollar isn't strong in Canada right now, and it's more difficult to get into Canada from the US now as passports are needed. I sure hope things pick up for them.

We had a very luxurious and restful couple of days. I think I had as much fun for Skip's birthday as he did. I already have a couple of ideas for the next 'surprise' getaway. Tee hee.