Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Dianna Update and a New Gadget

I continue to work away on the Dianna shawl. I'm almost finished the last tier before I do the triangle tier, then I'll be done!
 This pattern could be easily modified for any small lace pattern in the square and certainly any weight of yarn could be used. Normally a lace pattern would be lost using a yarn with so many colours but because there are little squares, each one has its own colour which actually brings out the lace pattern.

I'm also quite excited about my newest gadget.
It's a 3G 32GB iPod Touch!

My old Palm T3 hasn't been holding a charge that well so I've been deliberating when to replace it. I finally 'bit the bullet' and bought it the day after we returned from our NY state trip. 

I spent hours the other night trying to figure out how to transfer the 232 contacts from my  Palm so I wouldn't have to painstakingly do them all by hand. After doing several searches online, updating my iTunes and iPod software (a couple of times), changing settings, consulting with my tech support guru (my sister, Valerie) via msn Messenger, a lot of gnashing of teeth and exasperated sighing, I finally got the job done in the wee hours of the morning. Now I spend a lot of time looking for WiFi hot zones.

Earlier that day, I was able to make my first Skype call on it. And this morning, I was able to check my e-mail without having to even get out of bed!

I have uploaded a few free knitting apps and am now deciding which ones I might want to buy. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Distillery District

For years, I've looked at The Distillery District from the GO train and have wanted to explore this niche of The Big City so today Skip and I finally ventured there. We thought it would be a nice way to spend our anniversary of 15 years together and 12 years married.

Gooderham and Worts Distillery was started in the 1830s and operated continuously until the 1990s when a conglomerate bought the company and ceased the operations at this site. The area then found new life as the number one film location in Canada and the second largest film location outside of Hollywood. More than 1700 films have used this site.

About 10 years ago some 'visionary' developers took a derelict collection of Victorian Industrial buildings east of downtown Toronto that had been pronounced a national historic site and transformed it into a place that would excite and inspire the senses -- here people could experience new ideas, new foods, new designs and new ways of living and working.

One of the first things we saw was some art work displayed out on the sidewalk outside a studio.

On closer inspection I noted that it was made entirely of puzzle (Rubik's-like)  cubes!

I say 'Rubik's-like' because these cubes are a Chinese replica which not surprisingly are much less expensive but are indeed more durable. Rather than using stick-on squares of coloured paper used in the Rubik's cubes, the plastic in Chinese models are permanently coloured – meaning they won’t wear away or come off and ruin the amazing effect.

We ventured into the Cube Works
studio where there were many more similar artworks on display.

Wouldn't they be great to knit?

One of Cube Works' big claims to fame was their Guiness Book of World Records setting 'Sistine Chapel' which was constructed from over 250,000 cubes. It wasn't on display there but the details were featured on a poster.
Other interesting pieces were these mesh figures which, when lit properly, cast a very realistic shadow on the wall behind them.
They were even 'signed' by the artist with wire woven into the thigh.

I am always so fascinated by how artists conceptualize pieces and render them using different materials. CubeWorks is definitely a place to visit on any trip to this neighbourhood.

Being retirees, Skip and I can explore some of these downtown areas on weekdays thus avoiding a lot of crowds and traffic congestion. There is a big open area with tables and chairs.

The CN Tower can be seen in the distance from where we're enjoying a coffee before lunch.

This group of people was doing the Segway tour of The Distillery District as Segway Ontario is based there.

How fun! I think I'll put that on my 'bucket list'.

For lunch, we ate at Café Uno.

which very much reminded us of Zeste, a favourite restaurant of ours on South Padre Island. 

Here, I was eagerly awaiting my turkey meatloaf with sides of roasted sweet potato, penne alfredo and salad greens. Yum!

After lunch did some more wandering around, making note of some other eateries we'd like to try next time we visit the area.
 Soon it was time to start making our way back to Union Station. We found the Esplanade by going through a little park directly west of Mill Street. This easternmost part of the Esplanade was quiet and shady and had lots of places for dogs to run, children to play and grassy spots to sit.
What a nice way to spend the day together.

Happy anniversary, Honey. I'm sure glad we found each other. ♥

Saturday, 26 June 2010


On Wednesday, Skip, Scooter and I headed out for the first day of our adventure which ultimately involved our circumnavigating Lake Ontario. Our first stop was Williamsville, NY where we often go to do some cross-border shopping at some of our favourite stores - Lockport Outdoor Store, Target, Rick Zurak's Golf Warehouse, Barnes and Noble, etc. and had a great Mexican dinner at La Tolteca Authentic Mexican Restaurant.

Thursday morning we picked up Skip's new driver he was having custom made and drove eastward to Henrietta, NY to attend the Wegman's LPGA Championship. This was be the third or fourth time we've attended this event. For Scooter especially, it really marks the beginning of the summer as his last exam just finished on Monday. It poured rain for about 20 minutes while we were at Hole 10 but fortunately we were just steps away from a concession booth with a big overhang so we were able to seek shelter until the worst of the rain came down. Once that was over, the skies cleared and the rest of the afternoon was breezy and warm and we had a very enjoyable time. The highlight of our evening was dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill - a favourite Italian restaurant of ours.

Friday morning, we again got up early and made our way to Baldwinsville, NY to meet up with our friends, MaryAnne, Aidan and James.

I first met MaryAnne in the early 90s when we were sailing on the SV Polynesia for a week in the Caribbean. 

My travelling companions, Leslie and Marsha (RIP), and I had purchased about a dozen 250 mL cans of beer on the pier in St. Maarten at 2 for $1 and designated ourselves to be the official welcoming committee while waiting to embark for our Windjammer Barefoot cruise. I met MaryAnne when I slapped a 'beerlet' into her hand when I learned she was waiting to sail on the same ship I was. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

After our hellos in Baldwinsville, Skip and Scooter went golfing for the day and my hosts and I made our way up to Oswego for the Festival of Sail where we saw three tall ships.

We got to see the Lynx leaving the dock for a sail out into the lake.
Aidan and I went on a treasure hunt where we had to find the answers to 8 questions pertaining to the tall ships and the little maritime museum on the pier. After Aidan collected his prizes, we posed with this very friendly pirate.
When we left there, we took a drive up to a higher vantage point and were able to get some better shots of the ships, even though we were quite far away.

Here is the Lynx under full sail beyond the Port of Oswego breakwater.
The Pride of Baltimore II is a reproduction of an 1812-era Baltimore Clipper privateer.
The Tallship Unicorn is the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world with proven on-board leadership programs for teenage girls and women.
It was great being able to spend a day with my friends and have an opportunity to have a good visit with Aidan, now 8 years old, again since he was only 4 the last time Skip and I visited them when they lived in Georgia.

MaryAnne is also a knitter so we got to talk a little about knitting but know our next meet-up will be in Rhinebeck at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival next October.

MaryAnne also writes a blog, "She Who Is Queen". You can imagine how excited I was when I found this cross-stitch project last year.  I got it stitched up in no time then delayed finishing it.
It was this project that impelled me to learn how to stretch and frame my own cross-stitch projects a couple of weeks ago.. I had bought the frame a while back so all I needed to do was get going and finish the project so I could give it to MaryAnne this week.

Last night, all went out for a nice dinner and a walk along the Seneca river near the locks. Scooter got all nostalgic playing with the Yu-Gi-Oh! cards with Aidan and enjoyed playing games with him after dinner. It was so nice to get together with our long-time friends and just picking up where we left off the last time we were together four years ago.

Our drive home today was uneventful and we were very glad to not have to drive any where near Toronto where the G20 Summit is taking place with all that has gone on with it.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Sekku Shawl

I continue to work on the Dianna Shawl using Sekku cobweb weight yarn. I'm about half done and figure I have about 4 more tiers to go until I run out of yarn. This is a 2' by 2' foam tile so each leaf measures about 2.5" x 2.5" when blocked.

Here, the yellow leaf has a reverse stocking stitch background.
And here, the green leaf has a stocking stitch background.
The leaves themselves are done in garter stitch. I think it's great I'll only have two strands of yarn to weave in - at the beginning and at the end.

The yarn itself is lovely and soft. I think it will make a very lovely shawlette.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Madelinetosh - 'in the flesh'

I've been hearing about Madelintosh hand dyed yarns on various podcasts for a while now. Reviewers have been absolutely swooning about this yarn. A couple of weeks ago I dropped into Mary's Yarns in Unionville and came face to face with it. I decided to purchase a skein of Pashmina which is 75% merino, 15% silk and 10% cashmere, sport weight and has a generous 360 yards.  I picked a lovely lilac colour called 'Ms Taylor'. (top image is the most colour-accurate)

The labels are pretty non-descript -- simple grey print on a while card stock band.  Now I'm trying to figure out what to knit with it; maybe a lovely scarf? A shawlette perhaps? Or a neck warmer of some kind? Decisions, decisions.

Today while shopping at WalMart I picked up a deeply discounted skein of Bernet Cottontots. I felt like I should knit something completely frivolous just for a break during the various projects I already have on the needles.

I sat down at the beginning of CBS's "60 Minutes" and by the end of the show I had finished it.
I'm still puttering away on the Dianna shawl but it's a big job.

Last week I found a frame I had purchased to fit a cross-stitch project I had completed several years ago. I liked the design because it reminded me of my Royal Albert Petit Point china. I knew if I googled 'cross-stitch framing' or 'stretching stitchery projects', I'd figure out how to stretch it myself so I could just pop it into the frame. All I needed was a piece of foam core board which I purchased for $2.99 plus tax at the local art supply store and rust proof pins. It took a couple of tries trying to get it centred but finally it was done.

Ta Da!
That was easy!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

I ♥ Pot Luck (urp!)

This evening was the last meeting of the Trillium Embroidery Guild before our summer break. Like the December meeting, the June meeting is a pot luck of primarily snack food and desserts. 
This meeting is the General Meeting for the year at which the theme for the coming year is selected. This year the theme was 'butterflies' and members' butterfly projects are judged. The competition is called the TATA or Trillium Annual Themed Award and a few members who did not submit items are called upon to judge technical excellence and all the members vote for best piece in each category of kit/chart/adapted chart and original design.
This was the one original design incorporating butterflies.
Here were the items in the kit/chart/adapted chart category.

It wasn't until I looked at this photo on my computer that I realized it was actually a woman's face - duh!

This one was the winner of this category as well as winner of the technical excellence award. Maybe one day I'll learn how to do blackwork.
As usual, people brought their completed projects to show off.

Some Christmas ornaments...
A needle keep and thimble holder...
This was a very clever way to display the charms accumulated on a travel holiday, now that charm bracelets are not particularly in fashion.
Then I strolled around and took some shots of projects that are being worked on.

This giraffe would make a neat pillow cover.
Here, the entire picture is minuscule French knots with 1 strand of silk thread. Note - the frame is 6" in diameter which would make the picture about 2 1/2" x 4".
This beautiful project is being stitched with overdyed yarns over one thread. I'm guessing there would be about 30 stitches per inch. My eyes feel sore just thinking about stitching something this extensive over one thread!
Someone thought a book swap would be a good way to kick off the summer. If you brought a book, you could take a book. The idea was for there to be no books left at the end of the evening.
The Trillium Embroidery Guild is SO well organized and well run. Although I don't do a lot of stitching on an on-going basis, I really enjoy meeting with these ladies every month.

I look forward to seeing the results of their summer stitching when we re-convene in September.

By the way, the 2010-2011 TATA theme will be 'red'.