Friday, 29 June 2012

A Fine Day Out

Today was Skip's and my 14th wedding anniversary. We got married exactly 3 years to the day after we started going 'steady' back in 1995. On our last three anniversaries, we've spent the day in the Distillery District in The Big City. The last couple of years we've said, "We really must do one of those Segway tours one of these years". Well today was the day.

Because there is construction going on in the area, the 1 hour tour wasn't available so we settled for the 1/2 hour tour. Pavel, our tour guide, first made us do some paperwork (signing that we'd be responsible for any damage to our respective Segways) and assigned us helmets that fit. Then we went outside and got our 'training'. Once he showed us how to get onto the Segway,
and how to get it to roll forward, backward, stop it and how to steer it, he then escorted us individually as we demonstrated our ability to gather speed and manoeuvre our way around an obstacle.
The Segway has a top speed of 20kph (!) but there is a governor on these limiting the speed to 10kph. I think the top speed I attained was 4.3kph. Because of the big tires, it rolled very comfortably on the uneven paving stones of the Distillery District. I've been told I should now watch the movie "Mall Cops" as I will relate to their mode of transport.

When Pavel learned that we were celebrating our anniversary, he took us to Soma Chocolate and across the street to Mill St. Brewery for some free samples. The Lemon Tea Beer that I tried was so refreshing! I have to try to find some of that at The Beer Store.
After we turned in our helmets and collected our bags, we made our way up to Varsity Cinemas at Bloor and Yonge to go see "The Intouchables" an acclaimed French movie that we've been looking forward to seeing since we saw its trailer when we went to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" a few weeks ago. "The Intouchables" is only showing in 2 theatres in the GTA. I'm hoping that with better publicity, this delightful and touching film about a quadriplegic and his relationship with his caregiver, will be enjoyed by many. I cannot recommend it more highly. Gordon Pinsent was even in the theatre watching it, too!

After the movie, Skip and I met Scooter at the Indigo bookstore just downstairs from the cinema and we browsed for a while before leaving to go for dinner at a restaurant we all enjoy, Spring Rolls. Then we three made our way home, happy to be taking the GO train and not having to deal with the traffic congestion caused by the mass exodus from The Big City for the holiday weekend.

It truly was a fine day out.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


The other day, Skip asked me to knit some covers for his golf clubs. I had knit 3 covers for his woods a few years back. But two of them were worn out. In the meantime, he has traded his irons in for fairway woods so he needs 8 covers!!!

I got these done over the past couple of days. I found the pattern for the middle one here.
The red 'x' is duplicate stitch but the 'P' on the pitching wedge cover was done with intarsia. I left the third one blank and will stitch a number onto it.

I did another argyle one tonight - this time with an orange 'x'.
Only four more to go!

I got the buttons sewn onto the Baby Surprise Jacket,

using a different colour of yarn for each button.
Now I need to finish the baby quilt.

I did a bit more organizing today. I corralled all my sock yarn into one drawer
and half of another. Some of the 50g skeins are orphans. Not counting the orphans, I figure I have enough sock yarn to knit 50 pairs of socks.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going over to Windreach Farm to help Eleanor warp the loom that was donated. I don't know very much about weaving, but the little I do know, I don't mind sharing. Hopefully we'll be able to warp the loom so visitors to the farm will be able to see the entire process of processing wool - from shearing the sheep, combing and carding the wool, spinning it and then weaving the spun yarn into fabric on the loom.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012


I finished knitting (except for a little rolled collar) the Baby Surprise Jacket late last night. I seemed to have gotten a 'second wind' which may have been due to the (alleged) 'decaf' coffee I had at about 7pm, that accompanied a delicious cannolo (singular of cannoli). Will I never learn?
As suggested by Elizabeth Zimmermann, I put buttonholes on both sides (even though I knew it was a boy). It helps determine button placement.

I will sew up the holes when I sew the buttons on. I have to seam the shoulders before I knit the collar. For the rolled collar, inspired by this pattern, I will pick up and knit stitches around the neck on the right side, knit a row on the wrong side and bind off knitwise on the right side. Easy peasy.

Now I just need to get the quilt finished.

For our first official day of summer we might break previous temperature records with a 35C (95F). It is day 2 of a three-day heat wave. Tomorrow will be as hot and there will then be thunderstorms. At 3 days of 30+C temperatures, it's officially a heat wave and possibly the earliest on record.

I am very grateful for air-conditioning.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Starting to Feel Like Work

Today I spent an inordinate amount of time in front of the computer. I needed to be doing other things but I just couldn't get away.

I spent hours editing photos for a website that I created and maintain and adding captions based on text I received when the photos were emailed to me. The formatting is often a bit of a problem, too. Then I decided to figure out how to remove my name that appears as a watermark on every photo. That took a while. I then had to delete the photos I had added today and upload the non-watermarked ones and fiddle with the formatting again.

Then I received an email from our friends who today became grandparents for the first time. I had to send a congratulatory reply and update them on some plans we changed this week.

I then took a look at my MasterCard bill and realized I was charged twice for a motel room during my visit to the US last week. Of course the 'finance manager' wasn't in when I called. When I called later, he was too busy to talk to me. (That reminds me I have to call him back).

I then contacted my telephone/TV/Internet service provider to try and get my bill reduced a bit by reducing the amount of Internet bandwidth I pay for. The customer service rep encouraged me not to do this as I currently have 25GB for $5 per month plus an additional 40GB for $5 per month (65GB for $10/m) and their new plan is only 50GB for the same $10 that I get 65GB for. WTF?? I asked the nice live chat rep to please convey to the 'powers that be' that this reduction in services is unacceptable. We pay among the highest Internet and mobile phone rates IN THE WORLD. In France, there is no limit to usage of bandwidth. I made sure the rep knew I wasn't mad at him - just his greedy bosses. 

Then I found out I have to apply for trip cancellation insurance for the air ticket that couldn't be transferred to the person now going on the Baltic cruise in my place. I found this out at 5:02pm and the trip cancellation office closes at 5pm. I'll have to deal with this tomorrow.

A bathroom renovation person called to set up a visit to my ensuite to measure and give me an estimate. I had to run down to the calendar on the fridge and write that appointment down.

Then I read an annoying column in today's paper and wanted to put it on Facebook to publicize it. It was yet another ploy to remove perks to seniors by no longer offering no-fee bank accounts to customers 60 and over.

I'm rather sick and tired of things being taken away from me. (Thanks for letting me rant).

Somehow I had time to go to a Hungarian pavilion for lunch (Budapest - goulash and a cabbage roll) and a Polish pavilion (Poznan - kielbasa, pierogies and cabbage roll - urp).

Aside from the yummy meals, today felt like work! Sheesh!

I need to get back to my knitting. Our friend's grandchild arrived 6 weeks early and I need to get cracking! I guess the Baby 'Surprise' Jacket I'm working on is à propos!
I must admit, I did knit a few rows while I was watching these awesome YouTube videos on the basics of weaving - warping a loom and starting a weaving a project. (This was a pre-removed-watermark photo). I guess it wasn't ALL work...

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Chili Peppers! , etc. etc.

Whilst in the U.S. a couple of weeks ago, I was on the hunt for some fabric to make an apron for myself. I found the perfect fabric but didn't have a pattern in mind so didn't know the exact yardage I needed. The salesperson suggested I buy 1.25yd.

Last week I purchased a pattern that looked like the apron I wanted to make.
But it required 1 3/8 yd. (1.375 yd). I figured I could fudge things a bit.

Today when I started cutting the pattern out, I decided to make the top (bib) part a bit wider as I am a bit wider (ahem) on the top than most folks. I'm a messy cook so I wanted the top of me well protected. The pattern included a piece for the bias strips that would become the ties. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough yardage to do it in one piece AND accommodate the piece for the pocket so I did it in two pieces and it worked out just fine.

With a minimum of cursing (Scooter even noticed that) I was able to complete it.

I LOVE that fabric! Now I wish I had bought more to make table napkins as they'd hardly show any stains or foodstuffs. Now I have something to look for next time...

With the increased width at the top, the top edge of the bib now gaped so I added some elastic to gather it and it's perfect now!

Last night I was looking at the photo of the quilt top and noticed that there indeed was a mistake! The top course of blocks was flipped and the houndsteeth were going upwards to the right instead of downwards to the left. Eeeek!
As it was quite late at night, it took me a while to figure out how to fix it. I picked out all the stitches of the offending strip of blocks, and removed one 2 square piece, repositioned it and sewed it back together correctly.
Now all the houndsteeth go in the same direction. Yay!

Phew! Am I ever glad I noticed it BEFORE I quilted it.

My next dilemma was how I was going to machine quilt it. I thought I'd do wavy lines an inch apart but I don't have the correct attachment for my sewing machine to guide me a consistent distance from the adjacent quilting line.

While at Marion's today, we figured big x's from point to point on each solid square and along the centre seam of each diagonal strip square would work.
In knitting news, Skip has requested that I knit him 8 (!) golf club covers. He only uses woods now and he wants them all protected in his golf bag. He mumbled something about the 'shoemaker's children going without shoes'. I think I'll use Patons Classic Wool as I can't bear to do that much knitting with acrylic yarn. Also, if the club cover develops a hole, I will be able to patch (felt) it if it's 100% wool. It'll be the equivalent of knitting 4 pairs of thumbless mittens. A knitter's work is never done....

Tomorrow night at spinning I will be passing 'the loom' off to Julia so she can complete her weaving project.  Initially I was trying to hasten things but my knitterly friend, Paula, has kindly consented to lend me her 8-harness table loom for the summer. Yay!  I have all kinds of things I want to try.

We had a very nice Father's Day today. After our celebratory breakfast, Skip and Scooter went to the driving range for a couple of hours. Skip has his league golf tomorrow and he wanted to further hone his skills. We met for lunch at our favourite pita place and then came home for the rest of the afternoon. Scooter played a computer game (he's almost done his last high school exams), Skip napped and watched golf and I sewed. It was a fine day.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Surprisingly Square

 I finished the quilt top this evening. I'm really surprised it turned out as square as it did.And so far, I haven't noticed any major mistakes.
I bought the low loft batting today and will get started making the quilt 'sandwich' and pinning the beejeepers out of it before I machine quilt. I haven't decided what machine quilting I'll do. I could do wavy lines, stitch in the ditch or just big 'x's from corner to corner through each square.

This pattern is very forgiving. If you don't exactly match a couple of seams, it's not really noticeable. Perfect for a fairly new quilter like myself.
I'm pretty happy with how it has turned out thus far. I must admit it was a little boring sewing all the blocks together but before long I had the horizontal strips done and with only 7 long seams joining the strips, the top was finished!  I'm seriously considering doing a larger one for myself. I'll keep an eye out for appropriate fabric.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


I have wanted to make this houndstooth quilt for quite some time.

A friend's daughter is having a baby soon and I wanted to make a little quilt for the occasion.

I wanted to keep the striking contrast of the black and the white but in the black fabric, I wanted some small pattern - preferably animals or something appropriate for a girl or a boy. I couldn't find anything I liked here but when I was in the U.S. last week, I found exactly what I wanted at JoAnn Fabrics - coloured dots on black and a companion fabric for the backing with outlines of animals in the same colours! Perfect!
I spent most of yesterday evening cutting the strips to make the stripey diamonds. Thank goodness I had purchased a triangle ruler and an 8" square ruler with the coupons I had printed. The rulers were exactly what I needed to cut the strips and squares the correct sizes.

I pieced the white squares with the striped diamonds, then all the black squares with their diamonds. Here are a few laid out. If you squint, you can really see the houndstooth pattern.
This evening Mo came over to knit (and learn to cross-stitch!!) while I sewed the white pairs to the black pairs. I got all of the 47 patch blocks done just as I was running out of white thread. Tomorrow, I'll pick more white thread up and a couple of other sewing items I need, such as iron-on vinyl for another project I have in mind. I couldn't find it at any of the stores I visited last week but I have seen it here for mucho $$$$.
Many years ago, while on a trip to Boston, I bought some pretty sheets to make a duvet cover for my bed and some matching curtains. I made the duvet cover right away and have used it ever since. It now is on James' bed which is being converted to a guest room this fall. I never did make the curtains. The window topper I've had up in James' room for the past 16 years was from his nursery when he was a baby. The matching crib duvet had long since worn out.  I finally decided what kind of topper I wanted for the window. While at Dianne's a few weeks back she suggested a type of pleated curtain. I did some research, scratching my head, measuring, and finally got the sheet out and got the curtain started. In the motels we stayed in last week, every window had a pleated curtain like the one I wanted to make. I studied them quite carefully and finalized the planning for mine. It took me forever to finish the sewing as there were long seams to sew and I was very slow.  But, I'm happy to say I got it finished on Monday. Bring on the company!
It looks like I need to clean the windows (again). A homeowner's work is never done.

Checking In

Suzanne and I were scheduled to go on an amazing 12-day Baltic cruise with her parents for a milestone  birthday this summer but due to a medical issue that has arisen with Skip (my husband), I'm now not able to participate (sniff!!!).  I've been pretty bummed out about this but have accepted that when I got married I did the whole 'in sickness and in health' vow so I need to 'stand by my man'.

Today I dropped by Continuing Ed. to return 'The Binder'. It is chock full of printouts of information about the ports gleaned from travel and cruise review websites. Suzanne will pass 'The Binder' on to someone on her 'short list' who will be able to participate in my stead.

While at Con. Ed. I dropped into Erin's class (unannounced) where I had taught knitting two weeks ago. And what did I see when I walked in the door? Knitting!!!!

It was just sitting there on a desk waiting for its owner to pick it up again during a lull in the activity. She proudly informed me she was going to knit pink squares and blue squares and sew them together for blanket.

I looked in another direction and I saw this gal knitting a blanket! She was finding the plastic needles to be quite 'sticky' with yarn she was using so I suggested she try a bamboo needle or perhaps a bamboo circular.
And Tayiba was sitting in front of her laptop knitting!!!
 I'm SO proud.
Erin, the teacher, proudly showed me the scarf she is knitting. In a basketweave stitch! From a pattern! Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of that. :-(

And this young lady had knit herself a headband! Without a pattern. Just making it up on her own, including the daffodil! She sure was proud of herself. As well she should be.
I overheard the blonde (below) ask, "How did you do the flower?". To which she replied, "Trial and error.". She then turned to me and said, "I had to knit each petal individually and then joined them".  
Holy crap! She's designing things!! And it really does look like a daffodil!!

Several of them told me how relaxing they thought knitting was and how much they enjoyed it. Some of the students are opting to submit their knitted project for evaluation (as per the rubric Erin and I devised) as part of the assessment for the Fashion Design course.

I can't tell you how rewarding it was so see so many happy knitters. My knitterly heart is full.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Finishing My Homework

I have been away with Skip for a few days attending an LPGA event in Rochester, NY and partaking in some retail therapy on the way there and on the way home via Buffalo/Williamsville, NY. Skip and I have attended the golfing event almost every year since I retired. We very much enjoy seeing professional golfers 'up close',  spending the day outside in beautiful surroundings and noshing on the free samples in the Wegmans tent.

I augmented my fabric stash at JoAnn Fabrics and WalMart (many WalMarts in the US have excellent fabric departments) and purchased a few sewing and quilting accessories. I had previously printed several discount coupons from AC Moore, Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics. They honour each others' coupons so I used them where I'd get the most benefit.

This morning Mo and I went to a yarn and knitting book garage sale in Pickering. The woman had advertised on Ravelry and had listed everything she was putting out for sale. I had already identified the books I wanted to buy and bought some yarn from her as well.
She let them go for less than half the price.

Then Mo and I went the Art of Fabric, a very nice fabric shop in Pickering. After I got home, I mowed the lawn and whacked the weeds while Skip made chicken wire cages for our tender plants. The neighbourhood bunny has been treating our garden as his own personal salad bar and Skip has already replanted peppers and tomatoes once. Now, (in between rain showers) he's working on trying to plug the holes under the fence where the little bugger is getting in. The bunny is very cute but he is SO destructive. Skip has been using his slingshot and marbles to discourage him. Hopefully the bunny will now associate pain to our yard and go eat somewhere else.

I have some stealth sewing I want to do this week so I thought I'd finish at least one UFO - my weaving homework. I had woven about 17" before we went on our little trip so I finished the last 7 inches. I was able to keep track of how much I had done because every 4 inches, I put a piece of green yarn on the edge.

I then used the thin weft yarn to finish my section. At first, I continued with twill weaving
and then I remembered that I was supposed to plain weave it so I unwove it and reworked it plain.
I'm really torn between getting a rigid heddle loom or a 4 or 8 harness loom. 

One of my favourite pieces of equipment is the boat shuttle. I've seen them on eBay and may just invest in one myself even before I get my own loom.
The last meeting of the Shuttlebugs for the 2011- 2012 year is on Wednesday. I can now pass the loom off to someone else so they can complete their towel. Maybe they'll lend me another Dorothy loom for the summer?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Today I went up to Greenwood to finish threading the heddles on the loom and sleying the reed in preparation for starting our hand towel project. Dini got me sorted out and calculated the pattern so we could cram 14 threads into 10 dents on the reed. (2-1-1-2-1-1-2-1-1-2)

After a couple of mistakes and correcting them, I finally got everything ready to start weaving. Ulla helped me weave in the first waste pieces that helped spread the ends (threads) out (A below). Then I plain wove about an inch (14 picks) of weft with really thin yarn (B below). That will be folded over later for the hem so we don't want it too thick.

Then I began twill weaving with the white, slubby cotton - which was also the white part of the warp. To weave this twill pattern set the shafts as follows: 1&2, 2&3, 3&4, 4&1.

After a few inches, it was time to come home so I brought the loom with me and wove a total of 17 inches.

Only 7 more to go before I'm done! Ulla showed me how to start an new weft thread and how to keep track of how much you've woven (as it all gets wrapped and hidden on the front beam). She likes the paper IKEA measuring tapes. I don't have one of those so I just inserted a piece of green yarn every 4 inches.

I think I'm hooked!

Just looking at the photos, I see a couple of mistakes but hey, I'm just learning, right?

Anyone want to get rid of a 24" rigid heddle loom and/or a 24" 4-harness loom?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

And the Winners Are... (drumroll please)....

Two first places.
Two second places. In the senior (55+) classes, ribbons are awarded.
And another second - as it should be
 because Mo's shawl won first place AND was awarded a "Best in Show" rosette!! Woo hoo! Yay, Mo!!!
And what of the Sheep Heid, you ask? In the Adult hat class, this one came first,

This one came second,
and this one came third.
The Sheep Heid tam was in amongst the losers. (What do you think of that Anne F.?)
So there you have it. $23 in prize money.

While I was waiting in line to pick up my prize winnings, I met Lisa, whose beautiful thrummed mittens came second to my Chrysanthemum mitts.

She said her husband went out of town this weekend so he wouldn't have to deal with the kvetching about the judging. We're both already planning our strategy to win that coveted "Best In Show" rosette next year.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Mission Accomplished

Today was my second and last day teaching knitting to the young adults in the Fashion Design class at Continuing Education. At the beginning of class, several of the students proudly showed me what they had accomplished since last seeing me on Wednesday.

Cameron finished his cozy at home, sewed it up and raided his mother's button jar for the buttons.
But the coolest thing is that he's not even in the class! He showed up on Wednesday to visit, saw that we were knitting, grabbed some needles and yarn and with a minimum of instruction started casting on and knitting. I love the functional and stylistic use of the 3 buttons.

This young lady actually knitted two of them. Here, she's showing me one of them with the side seams all sewn up and the button added. I was really bummed out the picture I took of her with the two cozies was too blurry. :-(
Victoria was REALLY enthusiastic about learning how to knit. And she did a beautiful job! She thought her Nana would be very proud of her.
Tayiba initially struggled with her tension but got a lot accomplished during Wednesday's class. When she took the project home, her mother was thrilled to see her knitting and helped her get it all finished for today's class.
Here are 5 of the finished projects all lined up waiting for Erin (their Fashion Design teacher) to evaluate them.
Erin was very proud to get her own iPod cozy finished in class today.
This gal missed Wednesday's class (life got in the way) and knit like a fiend all through today's class. She followed me to the office when I was handing in my visitors pass and I helped her finish the very last rows, creating the buttonhole and casting off. She was pretty proud of herself. As was I.
I was sad to say goodbye to the students. I think most of us really enjoyed ourselves. Some of them were quite surprised at how relaxing knitting is and how quickly they were able to knit this project! And I had a blast!

Erin gave me this amazing custom-made rubber stamp she ordered for me on It couldn't be a more perfect gift for me!! 
I was so lucky I got to be involved with students again while teaching them a craft that I SO love. I hope some of them will pick knitting up every once and a while and maybe even become fairly regular knitters!