Wednesday, 26 February 2014


There was a knock at the door yesterday. When I opened it, there were 2 parcels that we had ordered online. One was books from Amazon and the other was from KnitPicks.

Yay! The sock blockers have arrived!

While ordering, I thought I'd order some of the beautiful Caspian wooden needles in my most-used length (10") and sizes (4mm - 5mm). Also a 2.5mm fixed circular needle.
They appear to be very similar to the Harmony needles, just different colours. But the Harmony needles were made in India and the new Caspians are made in China.
I am now able to better display The Big Four socks.

Here's another close up of the interesting, yet easy to execute, pattern. It's a checkerboard background with a superimposed trellis.
I am now at an impasse. I don't have any new projects planned. I have some lovely madelinetosh sock yarn I could make either socks or a shawl with but the only shawl pattern I want to knit comes in a set of 5 patterns and costs almost $20. I've been trolling Ravelry but haven't found anything that has 'grabbed' me. It's particularly perplexing because A Good Yarn is so closeby with every yarn one could ever need and I still can't think of what to start. I did bring a couple of projects with me so maybe I'll have a stab at one of them.

I did find a helpful hint for casting on the tab at the neckline of a crescent-shaped shawl. It is all explained here. Susan's Sweet Dreams Cast On is outlined here.

The Sweet Dreams shawl is actually the one I was thinking of doing. I may just bite the bullet and buy the Boo Knits collection.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Olympic Knitting - Mostly

I cast on The Big Four socks a couple of days before the Olympics started so they don't really count for the Ravellenic Games. No matter. They were mostly knit while I watched various permutations of NBC Olympic broadcasts.

Some things I liked about watching the Olympics on US stations:
- several channels to watch with staggered events
- Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir's enthusiastic and knowledgeable commentary on the figure skating on NBC Sports Network. They should do it on the prime time NBC broadcasts as well.
- some coverage of Canadian events, especially when the US had nothing to report about its own teams in the given event.
- not having to listen to Don Cherry.

What I didn't like:
- no Canadian broadcasts. I like being able to switch among the various CBC channels in both English and French when I'm at home.
- Sandra Bezic's commentary on the figure skating and to a lesser degree, Scott Hamilton's. For some reason they just rubbed me the wrong way.
- not being able to stream CBCs feed as it was blocked in the US. I assume it was due to some agreement with NBC.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Canada beats Sweden tomorrow morning in the gold medal men's hockey game.

I am waiting for my new sock blockers to arrive in the mail from KnitPicks. Until then I'll have to make do with these photos.
I did 3 complete pattern repeats before starting the heel flap.
By that time on the first sock, I had internalized the pattern.
One change I made was to cross the first cable on round 1 to the right (back) so the trellises would go in the over-under-over-under configuration.
I think they will be very spiffy during the Christmas season.
The Leading Men Fiber Arts Showstopper sock yarn in the To Grandmother's House colourway was really nice to work with. It is 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon. It has a nice twist and not much halo. There is very nice stitch definition.

I look forward to seeing the Figure Skating Gala. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will be commentating. It was supposed to be on this afternoon but I couldn't find it on any NBC station. Hopefully, it will be shown in its entirety this evening but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, 14 February 2014

February Fun

Skip and I have been enjoying our holiday in Sarasota. We've done a lot of shopping for food since we have been eating wheat-, sugar-, and grain-free.  We have been doing a lot of reading about the ills of sugar in all its forms - including glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, etc. Our weight-loss results have been encouraging.

We explored the Sarasota Farmer's Market on Saturday and stocked up on some favourite things as well as getting a subscription for the local daily paper.

Monday, Lorna and John arrived for a couple of days. Lorna and I ran errands on Tuesday and got a lot of shopping done. I bought my first bathing suit in about 15 years. Yay! I have been so afraid my other one was going to have a blow-out of one of the elastics around the leg. Skip and John golfed until after dark with another guy from the condo complex. Then we went out for Mexican food.

After they left on Wednesday afternoon, we were to meet Andrea and Paula for dinner but there was a torrential downpour scheduled right about that time so we postponed it 'til later in the month.

Yesterday, Sue and David arrived for breakfast. We went birding at a couple of good spots. At the Celery Fields in Sarasota we saw the resident limpkin, some roseate spoonbills, yellow-rumped warblers, glossy ibis and a great egret.
After lunch we went to Oscar Scherer Park south of Sarasota and Osprey to see if we could see the endemic and endangered Florida Scrub Jay. The person at the gate told us where we would be able to see it and sure enough one was exactly where she said it would be even though it was quite windy.
Here are some better pictures I took last year.

Then we went to the Venice Rookery where we saw several types of herons, including great blues on their nests and saw several babies. There were lots of anhingas and at the adjacent trailer park were tons of glossy ibis and black-bellied whistling ducks. We believe that they are being fed by one of the residents of the trailer park.
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at a great distance
It was a fun day of birding.

Today we all went for a nice walk before bidding goodbye to our guests. Then Skip and I noodled around the condo, and generally enjoyed our Valentine's Day together. I watched 'Philomena' and cast on the second "The Big Four Sock".

I finished the first sock last night.
I didn't bring my sock blockers so I had to make do just laying it flat on the rug.

It has been a busy week but lots of fun. We have a better social life here than we do at home. LOL.

Scooter arrives tomorrow for his 'reading week' and to get away from the unrelenting winter weather back home. The weather is supposed to cooperate for him.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Big Four - Part II

I have been doing a bit of knitting on my 'The Big Four' sock. I have almost finished two pattern repeats and will do at least one more and maybe half of another before starting the heel.
I have been enjoying the team skating. Canada has the most figure skaters at the Olympics - 17 out of a possible 18 spots. It looks like Russia, Japan and China will be our most formidable competition.

The Winter Olympics are somewhat of a non-event in the US. I know there is a 9-hour time change from Eastern Standard Time but NBC really isn't very concerned about televising anything live from what I can tell. At home, I'd be flipping from the French CBC channels to English CBC channels and NBC during the commercials.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Starting The Big Four

My knitting designer friend, Maureen Foulds, has been prolifically releasing her designs - most of which are based on Agatha Christie novels.  On February 1, she released a sock pattern, The Big Four. It is a lovely criss-crossing travelling cable with a textured checkerboard in the background.

I started it last week before our trip to Florida using Lana Grossa Meilenweit Seta Cashmere sock yarn. Unfortunately, there was too much of a 'halo' to the cashmere/silk blend and I didn't like the look of it.

Yesterday at 'A Good Yarn' I picked up a skein of Leading Men Fiber Arts Showstopper sock yarn in the 'To Grandmother's House' colourway.

I am liking the look of this yarn much better. It has a tighter twist and is not as fuzzy.
I modified it by crossing the first cable in row one to the right instead of the left. That way the travelling cables adhere to the over-under pattern. I also upsized the pattern from 64 to 72 stitches per round to accommodate my tighter knitting style. This makes for an 18 stitch repeat and 32 rows in the pattern.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

We're Here!

We had a good drive to Florida last week. This is the route we took.

Before crossing into the US, we stopped into the Duty Free store. I noticed this jaunty 'wool' cap for sale.

They were on sale for $9.99. On closer inspection, I noted why they may have been so deeply discounted.

They were made of 35% wood? The ones we saw in Ireland weren't made of wood.

We had Mexican food in Lexington, KY. We must have arrived at Happy Hour because our two beers (20 oz. drafts of wheat-free Bud Light) only cost $2.50!!
The car performed wonderfully, was comfortable, and got good gas mileage. The weather cooperated. In fact by the time we got to Florida, all the splits on my fingers (from the dry conditions at home) had healed.

At the GA/FL border the temperature got up to 20C and rose progressively as we went further south. It got up to 30C just before we arrived at Sarasota. 2460 was the number of kilometres we've put on the car since we picked it up on Wednesday. We had about 20km on it when we left the house. (I took this while we were hurtling down the highway - Skip was driving).
 And when we got out at the condo, it was 28C and we'd logged 2478km.
We took it pretty easy today and finally went out to do some shopping. I also got to stop into the local yarn shop, A Good Yarn. They carry lovely yarns.
Tomorrow we will get the salt and crap washed off the car and do some more food shopping. We're avoiding wheat, grains, and sugar so finding food we can eat can be kinda tricky. We can eat meat, nuts, seeds, cheese and vegetables. We are reading more and more about how wheat in the system creates inflammation. So we are giving this 'Wheat Belly' diet a try in an effort to stave off overweight, diabetes, and get rid of adipose fat. I've been on this eating program for a month today and so far, so good.