Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A Stroke of Good Luck OR No Missed Opportunities

So the night before last, I checked my email and I got one from my friend, Suzanne, with whom I taught for many years before I retired. We live fairly close to each other (15 km or so), keep in touch almost daily via Facebook or email, and occasionally get together for dinner or a movie or both. We were both single when we started at our school and have both been through a couple of long-term relationships. She has interesting, creative hobbies like scrapbooking and photography and we both love to travel. We just have never done it together.

So I get this email with the subject: Want to go on the baltic cruise?

I then read on: You can be my roommate! The room would be free for you -- you'd just have to pay for your airfare, insurance, excursions, etc.  

It didn't take me more than a couple of seconds for my brain to scream "Hell, yes!".

Suzanne's parents are retired and like to travel as much as they can. A couple of Christmasses ago they treated their entire family to a Caribbean cruise. I think there were 13 people in total that they paid for. They discovered they enjoy cruising. Helloooo! What's not to like?

Anyway, this summer they are booking a 12 day cruise and paying for Suzanne and a roommate to go. And lucky me gets to be the roommate! I'm not sure how many were on her list of potential roommates, but I got to be the lucky one who said 'yes' first.

We're going to be sailing out of Amsterdam (which I last visited 31 years ago). Suzanne and I will fly over a couple of days ahead to do some sight-seeing. Then we'll meet her mom and dad (M & D) who will fly in a day before sailing and board our ship which will stop at: Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg (2 nights), Tallinn, Berlin (actually a port on the Baltic Sea with an excursion to Berlin) and Copenhagen.

A Baltic cruise has been on my bucket list for a while so I'm thrilled with this opportunity to do it so affordably. A trip like this would have been completely out of the question this year otherwise. I even have some left-over Euros from my last European vacation (before I retired even) that I should be able to make good use of.

Skip will be in the middle of his golfing and grass-cutting seasons, so will just have to muddle along without me for a couple of weeks. I'm sure he's somewhat jealous and would love to be able to join us, as he loves cruising as well, but he understands that Suzanne doesn't need 2 roommates.

I have been knitting on and off but mostly have been pursuing other activities lately. I know I've been eerily absent from blogging but all will be revealed in a week or so. I'm working on a second of two socks that I started on a car trip a few weeks ago. I also started Evenstar Gloves using some red KnitPicks City Tweed DK yarn from my stash. The yarn is really soft and squishy. I'd like to knit some other projects with it.

Tina at Soper Creek Yarn put a post on her blog about the classes I will be teaching there in April and May.  I need to finish one knitting project and get it blocked as well as blocking another I recently finished - both versions of the Dianna shawl. Then I'll get them over to her so she can display them in her shop and drum up interest in the classes.

Every day I am grateful for what life has laid out for me at this stage of my life. I don't take it for granted because I know it can all change in a heartbeat. As retirees, we know we are only 1 doctor's appointment away from some nasty diagnosis so I will certainly be availing myself of as many opportunities that come my way. I am a very, very fortunate person. This I know. It more than makes up for other periods in my life which were not quite as blissful. I'm certainly receptive to any good fortune that comes my way. And having a good friend with extremely generous parents, doesn't hurt either.  :-)

Happy Leap Day!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Quilts and More

Yesterday, I picked up a 'simple, fresh & fun' publication called "Quilts and More" - a Better Homes and Gardens publication.

It had lots of easy, achievable patterns for projects. One in particular that intrigued me was a 2-in-1 Reversible Quilt designed by Kate Spain.

Basically, each side of the quilt is pieced and then they're quilted together. This particular project uses the same pattern on both sides, just different colourways on each side. Each side can be created with one 26-piece strip pack or 'jelly roll' (2 1/2" x 42" precut strips or equivalent) alternating with solid white strips.

There are so many things that could be done with this idea - same colourways on both sides with contrasting patterns, sampler on one side and strips on the other, etc. etc.

I also did some stash-building at the discount department store that had a large fabric department. Most of the fabrics were on clearance for between $2 - $4 per yard. I bought 1/2 yd. of each (mostly).

These 4 fabrics would work together.
Of course, I couldn't resist these purples and blues.

These 4 might also work together.
I just thought this was cute.
And I grabbed a yard of this kitty cat fabric for Mo.
Next up - a variety of projects that I'm planning to make...  Stay tuned...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Checking In

I`ve been on a holiday from blogging lately but thought I`d check in with my latest efforts.

I continue to work on the Every Way Wrap, a comfort shawl for a friend who recently lost her husband. I'm on the last ball of yarn and repeat 13 of 16 before starting the ribbed edge. Forgive the crappy photos - it's nighttime and the lighting is horrid.

I finished a sock and have started a second one. The pattern is called Katwijker Frok by Erry Pieters-Korteweg and it's based on a Dutch fisherman's sweater pattern from Katwijk, a coastal town in the Netherlands. There are only 4 rows to the pattern so it was great car knitting.

I started another Dianna shawl - a store sample to promote a couple of classes I'm teaching. This one is using Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn. The feel of it is like the Sekku yarn I used on two previous Diannas but the Taiyo Sock Yarn is thicker. It should block out nicely.

I`m also working on a rectangular one which will be 3 squares x 20 rows of the Jawoll Degrade sock yarn I`m using. It should block out to about 9``x 60`` when I ever get it done.

I found a WalMart with an extensive fabric department and picked some inexpensive items for my little fabric stash. I then noticed several shelves with cute cotton fabrics at between $2 - $4 per yard. I'm definitely going back for more. I have no idea what I'm going to make with all these random fabrics. Perhaps a pieced quilt of some kind with an eclectic collection of fabrics? Some more project bags? For now, I'm going on cute/whimsical designs I like a lot.
I recently learned how to download movies to watch on my computer and have been having quite the Downton Abbey extravaganza. Skip and I have been watching it on Sunday nights for a couple of months on on PBS. I downloaded all of Season 2 and the Christmas special and have watched them all. Then I went downloaded all 7 episodes of Season 1 and watched them, realizing I had seen the first one but had missed several episodes of Season 1 when they were first aired.

I was surprised to learn how many of my friends (Facebook and otherwise) and cousins were watching it. We`re all really enjoying it. Tonight PBS aired the last two episodes of Season 2 (Episodes 7 & 8) back to back and next week they`ll show the 1.5 hour Christmas special which resolves some story lines and opens some others. Season 3 will be aired in the UK in the fall and on Masterpiece Theatre Classic on PBS in the spring of 2013. We`ll have to wait a whole year to watch it (unless I download it after it airs in the UK).