Sunday, 25 December 2016

Origami Star

I stumbled upon instructions for making an origami star.
First, I wanted a snazzy piece of sheet music so I googled 'sheet music' and 'images' and decided on this one to print out.

I then followed these instructions to make a perfect pentagon from a square of paper, then these instructions to fold the pentagon into the star.

The resulting star is about 60% the size of the original square of paper. My square was 6" and the resulting star span is 3.7".

Make a bunch and string them up like a garland or alternate with pom poms. Here's where I got the idea.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Finished But Not 'Finished'

I have some Christmas ornaments that I have finished stitching but haven't finished them into hangable ornaments. The lettering was stitched over 1 thread.
I just unearthed this one today whilst looking for something else. It would be quite easy to make this into a little hanging ornament.
This one hardly took any time at all to stitch.
There are a whole bunch more to 'finish' but right now I wouldn't even know where to begin to find them.

I'll certainly be looking for finishing directions on Pinterest and in other places. Yet another thing for me to finish up.

Last Batch of Cookies

I threw another batch of cookies in the oven. They're very shortbread-ish spritz cookies that are so easy to make in the Kitchen Aid mixer and with my cookie press.
I'm very lazy so I didn't really decorate cookies this year except for a few sprinkles before putting them in the oven.
Yesterday, I did the last batch of gingerbread cookies. This recipe is really easy, too. They're mixed up in the food processor. The dough is chilled then rolled out. I didn't decorate these either - too lazy. The holly cookie cutter is 55 years old.
But they seem to get eaten anyway.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Yet Another Mitten

I knit another little mitten for my tree. It's number 9 of the Mitten Garland Advent Calendar.
I like the the palm even better. If you squint a bit, you can see where I switched the yarns between hands, making one more dominant than the other - on the rounds adjacent to the crotch of the thumb, the white yarn was dominant as I held it in my left hand. From there to the tip, the grey was in my left hand.
This is the actual size. That palm pattern would work great on a regular-sized mitten with 3 stitches and 3 rows. Again, you can see the white dominance. It's also really visible on the inside but I didn't get a shot of that.
I think this will be my last one for this year. I love the little Latvian braid. The pattern gives very easy instructions for this including the set-up row where you alternate colours. In the future, I need to remember to leave a longer tail at the cuff so I can twist the yarns together to make the hanger.
They'd be great for holding gift cards or other small gifts.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

So Behind!

I have felt behind the eight ball since returning home from the cruise. Everything I do seems to be at the last minute or not at all. I've screwed up dates, finished my Icelandic sweater, had a cold that flattened me for 48 hours, lost stuff, found stuff*, attended several concerts and one pot luck luncheon, and baked and given away dozens of cookies.
Tonight I have another pot luck event - mostly after-dinner finger foods. I'm taking my usual deviled eggs. The cookie press tip I use to make them broke today so I had to resort to other ways of getting the yolk-y stuff in the eggs. They don't look that great but they are yummy.

I tried to make pralines from an authentic New Orleans recipe. Out of the 4 dozen from the two batches I made, only 5 turned out.
One of my former students and Facebook friends thought they looked like poop. I know they're not uniform in shape and size, but the consistency of the caramel looks exactly like the ones we ate in New Orleans. I did use a candy thermometer and follow the instructions to the letter but realize there's a lot more to cooking sugar than meets the eye. Hopefully there will be a YouTube video or Craftsy class I can take to improve my skills.

I had an epic fail knitting one of the Mitten Advent Calendar mittens. I was happily knitting away and only had a couple of rows to knit before grafting the top when I realized I had totally forgotten to knit the gusset and the thumb. Rip! Here it is, re-knitted, complete with the thumb.
I did another one, too.
The tree is up. The bird for Christmas dinner is bought. Wood is piled by the back door for spontaneous fires in the fireplace.
Last Sunday, Alexa and I attended the Sing-Along Messiah at Massey Hall performed by Tafelmusik.
Ivars Taurins, the music director, traditionally impersonates George Philip Handel for the occasion.
We also celebrated Skip and Scooter's birthdays.

So I guess I have accomplished quite a bit since returning home less than a month ago. There's still some stuff to do and stuff I'll never get around to doing. This is going to be the most laid-back Christmas yet.

* last night I lost something that had recently been given to me. I was SO upset. I retraced my steps and found the item in a snowbank that I had climbed over to retrieve the mail from our superbox earlier yesterday. I was SO relieved to have found it.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016


So this morning I posted a couple of photos of my lopapeysa on Facebook.
No sooner had I done that did I get a 'love' from Franklin Habit! Franklin freaking Habit!!!
I was stunned, thrilled, and gobsmacked all rolled into one. I can't remember when we became Facebook friends but I really did not expect him to notice, much less react to my Facebook photos.

I was verklempt. I could hardly breathe. Wow!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016


I had finished all the knitting I could do on the Icelandic sweater before I left for the cruise last month. The next step was to cut the front open to 'cardiganize' it and then knit on the button bands.

The steek was designated by two purl stitches. I found it much easier to isolate them by turning the sweater inside out.
It made it much easier to see the two stitches that I sewed down with my sewing machine.There were a lot of strands across the steek in the yoke.
But on the body, it was a lot easier to see the stitches.  Here you can see the completed, machine-stitched line on the left stitch and the stitching going down the right stitch.
This is plenty to anchor all the yarns so the cutting can be done between the two stitches.
Here I go! I kept the sweater inside out as that made it very easy to see where I needed to cut.
Well underway.
That done, I picked up and knit every third stitch and skipped the fourth to do the buttton bands. This deviates from the traditional ribbed band that is knit as a long strip then sewn onto the front edges. I, instead, chose to knit my button bands on.
I had to do a little arithmetic to calculate where to place the button holes. I spaced them 12 stitches apart and created them by doing a k2tog then on the return row, did a yarnover to put back the stitch. These buttons will be fairly small 1 - 1.5cm or so and I'll need 10 of them. Because the ribbing on the bands matches, it will be very easy to place the buttons to align with the buttonholes.

Looking inside, the cut ends of the steek are visible. I may stitch a grosgrain ribbon to cover that. Normally with a knitted steek (as opposed to the steek with 2 purl stitches called for on this sweater), the edges just curl under and don't need any finishing at all.
Once the button bands were done, I then picked up the stitches at the top of them with a smaller needle, and did a decrease row (k2, k2tog) around the neck stitches that had been on a holder. This yielded me approximately the number of neck stitches called for in the pattern. I first tried a K1, k2tog decrease but that left way too few stitches. So I ripped it back (this 'sticky' yarn makes it very easy to pick up live stitches) and tried K2, k2tog and that made it much better.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I knit a few short rows between the armholes before starting the yoke. This added extra length to the back so it would sit higher than the front. I defy you to see where the ends of the short rows are. In fact, I added a total of 10 short rows, or 2 courses of the 'lice' pattern, before starting the yoke.
I think the tubular cast-on looks really nice.
I'm very close to finishing up and trimming or weaving in the ends. I still have one underarm to graft. I'm almost out of grey yarn in the last ball but am pretty sure there will be enough to finish the ribbed neck and underarm. Then it will need a good blocking to even everything out.

It's nice and warm and I think I'll get a lot of use out of it when the thermostat in the house goes down.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Bankhead and Knitting Accessories

I ordered this reflective yarn online a while back. It was something I saw advertised on Facebook of all places.

It is mostly acrylic but not 'crunchy'  - rather it is very soft and surprisingly warm for a synthetic yarn. The reflective strand is plied throughout the yarn.

I made this Bankhead cap to give to Scooter for Christmas. He is a runner and this would be good for him to wear as it gets dark so early here in the winter. I have tons of yarn left so may also fashion a scarf for him.
Bankhead is a free pattern on Ravelry and it is sized for all sizes from child to XL adult. I didn't make the ribbing (ktbl, P1) as deep but did go up a needle size for the rest of the hat. This yarn was about worsted weight. There are lot of other reflective yarns available but this one seemed to have the reflective strand plied many times more per inch than any others I've seen.

Speaking of buying stuff from Facebook -  a while back I bought the 'free' knitting kit that I saw advertised.
The shipping from China was $10 but it was well worth it. It comes in a little, partitioned organizer box and contained stitch markers (coil-less, locking and closed),three kilt-pin style stitch holders, two sets of point protectors (only one is shown) three cable needles, a tape measure (not shown), yarn snips, one plastic and one metal darning needle, a locking drawstring threader, and a seam ripper.
When I removed the measuring tape, I could fit in my row counter. I paid $5 at some show or other for the row counter. This is the stock photo but shows the one I bought in my favourite colour, apple green. I found several for sale on eBay for around $1 with free shipping.
Here's the link to the 'free' knitting kit but I just checked eBay and it's about $3US with free shipping.

This accessory kit was one of the handiest things for me to have on the cruise and I would recommend it for any knitter. It took almost 6 weeks to arrive by mail but it was well worth it.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Silverleaf Shawlette

Off the wires, I look forward to sporting the Silverleaf Shawl.
It measures 60" from point to point in a straight line
and 17" deep.
As I used 4mm needles, it is very open and 'drapey'.
I was inspired to do the picot edge after completing my green Nurmilintu.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Blocking Silverleaf

While on the cruise, I worked on the Silverleaf Shawlette off and on. I actually knit one garter stitch/eyelet course too far as I was running out of yarn while knitting the lace edge so had to rip back. I finished the picot edging in New Orleans and just now got the shawl blocked.

I was lazy and only ran the wires through the picots, and along the other short side, pinning each of the three points.
 I could have run a bendable wire along the long side but rather like the shape as it is.
The pattern doesn't call for a picot edge but I really liked the look of it on someone's project page on Ravelry.

I'll have some nice pics of the blocked shawl very soon.

This pattern would be excellent to combine multi-coloured handspun on the garter stitch part with a coordinating solid or tonal yarn on the lace part. The garter stitch pattern is very easily internalized and the chart for the lace was easy to follow.

I'll be making a few more of these.

I re-blocked my old, red Swallowtail Shawl when I got home and it is as beautiful again as when I first knit it lo those many years ago. I wish I had taken a photo before pulling the wires out. That reminds me, I have a crescent swallowtail still on the needles and am very close to the bind-off. I need to get that finished.


Skip and I arrived in New Orleans on Monday afternoon after sailing up the Mississippi delta all morning.
The ship docked right downtown beside the outlet mall and between a paddleboat and the Carnival Triumph which were also in port. We were all required to get off the ship and clear US Customs before getting back on to enjoy our last evening onboard and pack for final disembarkation the next morning.

As we didn't have any flights to catch the next morning, we could take our time having our last sumptuous breakfast on board. We then grabbed a cab to our hotel (St. James) just west of the French Quarter. As it was too early for check-in we stored our luggage there and headed out on foot to explore our environs.

My goal was to visit the Royal Orleans Hotel and 812 Bourbon St. The Royal Orleans was where my parents were married in 1961. My mother had been living in New Orleans through the late 50s and early 60s. It is now an Omni Hotel.

We then walked up to Bourbon St. where we had been warned that it was not a 'family friendly' street by the tourist office. In fact, this area is crammed with gay bars and strip clubs. When I saw "Pete Fountain's" embedded in the sidewalk in tile, I knew I was in the right neighbourhood as I recall my parents telling me his bar was right on the corner of her block
According to Google Maps it is now 'Oz', New Orleans' #1 Gay Dance Club. I was surprised to learn he just died this past August.
810 Bourbon St. was clearly marked so I assumed that 812 was the next door.
After taking a couple of photos, we walked back towards our hotel and grabbed some lunch at the famed Palace Café on Canal St. on the way back.

There was no doubt that this was New Orleans Saints and LSU Tiger territory.
We saw several houses displaying purple footballs on the door wreaths.

Finally checked in, we baffed out for a while enjoying both of the HD TVs and unlimited Internet for the first time in over 2 weeks. We always are surprised at how tired we are after being on a relaxing vacation. For Skip, it was nice to not be rocking. It took me a couple of days before I no longer felt the rocking sensation.

After finding dinner that night, we were delighted to see the Christmas lights up Canal St. which apparently had just been lit.

The next day, we had breakfast outdoors on the corner at the Ruby Slipper Café before walking over to Jackson Square and then to the place where we could board the Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus. Of course, we had to take a selfie with Jackson Square and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral in the background.

No, we didn't go to Café du Monde. Being US Thanksgiving week, there was a lineup a block long to get into the place and we just didn't want spend our limited time in 'The Big Easy' doing that. I'll just have to find a place in Toronto that serves NOLA-style beignets.

Thursday morning we left the hotel at 7:30 and were at the airport, checked our bags, were through security and at our gate by 8:20. Woo hoo!!! That would never happen flying out of YYZ. We landed in Buffalo at 4pm after a stopover in Baltimore. Our shuttle to the hotel was waiting for us at the hotel shuttle stand. Now THAT's what I call good service. The Clarion Hotel makes it a practice to meet arriving passengers who have used their Park Stay and Fly program.

Travelling on Thanksgiving Day was a really good idea as the usual crowds and traffic were greatly reduced. When I booked the flights, I didn't even realize it was Thanksgiving but was happy it worked out well.

The next morning we anticipated a crush of people at the places we wanted to do some shopping before crossing the border and returning home. It actually was really quiet on the US side and only when we drove past the new outlet mall on the QEW and the adjacent Bass Pro did we see parking lots crammed with cars. However, the traffic was acceptable and we were glad to get home in the early afternoon.

We are now home for a while with no big trips planned until our departure for the sunny south at the beginning of February.