Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Butchart Gardens

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Yesterday was another lovely, sunny day so we decided to visit Butchart Gardens.

It was surprisingly busy for a Monday. I cannot even imagine what it is like during the summer months.

I took lots and lots of photos of flowers but am only going to post this breath-taking shot of the sunken gardens.
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I'm guessing it's a major employer for the area - and not just students. The last time we were here was in the spring. This time many roses were in bloom and the chrysanthemum beds were just starting to bloom. We were impressed with the dahlias of every shape and size and many plants we usually only see in the south like bamboo, crotons, azaleas, rhododendrons, etc.

It was a very pleasant way to spend the day.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Fun on a Rainy Day

Several years ago, we visited this area after disembarking from a Panama Canal cruise. Skip had a few relatives and acquaintances that we visited in various parts of Vancouver Island and we ended our trip visiting my cousin, Barry, and his wife, Lynda, at their home, where we are now house-sitting.

Just before we flew home we spent a night in Sidney near the airport that serves Victoria and the environs. That evening we poked around the main street a bit and noted that there were several book stores and coffee shops that looked rather interesting. We made a mental note that we would like to investigate further on some future trip.

Today started out quite rainy. We decided it would be a great day to poke around bookstores so we headed up to Sidney.

We were hungry so we first went for lunch at The Pier Bistro - that little building at the end of the pier to the right of the blue fish market.
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I had delicious crab cakes on a bed of greens.
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After lunch we walked around the waterfront. This 'Welcome Figure' is a landmark in Beacon Park and faces out to the harbour.
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There is also a bandshell at the southern edge of the park with a few Muskoka chairs.
The sky looked very menacing but shortly after this it cleared up.

A few metres further down is this pirate sculpture.
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Vegetation is very lush.
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We were really trying to find this establishment - The Surly Mermaid. What a great name for an eatery/pub.
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At the used book shop, Beacon Books, Skip bought a book about Hannibal (history nerd) and I found a 60 year-old Danish book of pulled thread techniques.

The sun came out for our 25 minute drive back to our lodgings.

We will definitely pay the area another visit before we return to Ontario.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

West Coast Windfall

Skip and I flew to Victoria BC on Tuesday. We are house-sitting for my cousin and his wife who live in a beautiful Art Deco home on a bay. They left for a European holiday two days ago. This is the view from the living room.
My 'stitching chair' is in the corner of the windows on the far left. Looking out there, I can feel my blood pressure dropping by several points.

Yesterday, Skip and I ventured downtown to explore the Button and Needlework Boutique. It's one of the loveliest stitchery and yarn shops I've ever been in. They had charts from designers I'd only ever seen on Etsy (Satsuma Street) and online. It's easily found by the big button hanging outside.
The centre table has bins with many, many designer's charts. I didn't check but I'm sure I could find almost every Victoria Sampler chart here.
I have this chart by Little House Needleworks at home.
Overhead are several Sue Coleman designs inspired by Northwest Coast native images.
They have all the threads, needles, fabrics, and accessories for stitching as well as a full inventory of beautiful yarns. I will definitely need to make a return visit (or two) on my own so I can explore further.
Then, not surprisingly, we found a Mexican restaurant for lunch.

Otherwise, we`ve been pretty lazy while we adapt to the time change. Skip loves that he can watch NCAA and NFL football games starting at 9am and be finished sometime around 8 or 9pm.

Today it is raining so we may hop in the car and go up to Sidney where, on a previous visit, we counted 9 bookstores.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Buttons are Finally On!

It took me 3/4 hour at the button store to make a decision about what buttons to choose. I finally took the plunge and they were on sale 1/2 price! BONUS!
They're quite small to fit between the two i-cord edges.
I didn't want them to really stand out.
Unbuttoned...
Buttoned (as much as I'd probably ever button it)...
I really would love to knit another sweater with this yarn (Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift) or Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight. It is so light but very warm.  And the vast amount of stocking stitch wasn't that annoying. The waist shaping made it interesting. All over Fair Isle would also be fun.

I've had the pattern for Alice Starmore's Oregan cardigan pattern for ages. I could cough up the big bucks and order the kit from her with the Hebridean 2-ply or try to match the colours with Spindrift or J&S 2-ply jumper weight.

I would do a set-in sleeve because I don't like the look of a drop shoulder on my ample upper body. This would involve doing steeks for the armholes. After watching the relevant episode of Fruity Knitting (episode 40, starting at minute 11:00), I have the confidence to tackle that new technique. Andrea (in the video) uses a 10-stitch steek. I'd probably only use 5 or 6 stitches for my armhole and front steeks.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Finally Blocking Starry Night

I've procrastinated yet again by not blocking my Starry Night cardigan until just now.
I just laid it in the shape I want rather than use the blocking wires. The collar is pinned. I have the fan trained on it so it can dry overnight and I can take it to the button store tomorrow and finally get buttons on it. The weather is cool where I'm going and I want to take it with me.

I also need to free up this bed as Skip and I use it for our open suitcases when we pack.

A Little Bit More

Last night I had this much done.
 Today I finished a bit more.
Sometimes I make a mistake of a stitch or two. If it's hard to pick out, I just stitch over with the correct colour.
 Fixed!
I still need to pack...

Almost There

I spent a good part of the afternoon procrastinating. I'm supposed to be packing for an upcoming trip. Instead, I did more beading on the Goldfinch piece.
I have a few spots still to fill in and the long stitches on the tail and the petals. I won't finish this before I leave and won't be bringing this project with me. What I do need to do is figure out what stitching projects I am going to bring with me. Oh yeah, and pack some clothes.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Trees are Done

I have finished the trees on the main part of the pincushion and about half the houses. I'm working on the rest of houses and the Smyrna stars along the checker board border.
The top of the square pincushion will have the tops of the trees and the diamond for the piece of checked wool fabric for the cushion part. The square on the bottom is unpatterned except for my name and date. I will use a DMC thread matching the fabric as the backstitching so the seam barely shows when I stitch the square top to the sides.
On Thursday I was Barb and Jeanette's guest at Toronto Guild of Stitchery meeting. It is a robust guild that meets in two shifts - a morning shift from 10am to mid-afternoon and an evening shift. We only stayed for the earlier meeting. I enjoyed the 'Show and Share' and the 'make and take' project  featuring small stitched pieces inserted in padded greeting cards for the 'Sunshine and Shadows' committee who send cards to members who are ill or experiencing some type of life challenge.

The guild meets twice a month on the first and third Thursdays. The first meeting is a business meeting usually with a program. The other meeting is a stitching day they call FIFI - "Find It, Finish It" where members bring projects in progress to work on.

It looked like a very nice group of talented, friendly women, however, I am away so much, I don't think I'm up to making another commitment to a group that I'll miss attending so much. Thank you, Jeanette and Barb, for inviting me.

Before and After

The countertop for the bathroom vanity finally came in! The guys installed it and the towel rods yesterday marking the end of the renovation.

The green tub, tile and aluminum-framed shower doors are gone. In their place is a new, white tub, tile and shower doors. We repurposed the plumbing fixtures as they were in excellent shape. Now there's an LED pot light in the enclosure as well as a whisper-quiet vent fan with a timer in the ceiling.
Same toilet. Gone is the step up to the tub which left room for a toilet tissue stand rather than having to reach behind for t.p. The water supply was also moved to the other side of the floor joist to be closer to the wall.
The green sink was replaced a couple of years ago but we are now rid of the unattractive countertop. In their place is a 7-drawer vanity with a sparkly cultured marble countertop and recessed sink. The faucet was also repurposed as it was new when we got rid of the green sink. The lights above the vanity are LED and supposedly will not need to be replaced. The mirror was purchased as a package with the vanity. Because we only had a 59 1/4" space for the cabinet, the countertop had to be a special order as most are 60-ish inches wide.
The new cabinet is at least 4" higher than the old one as can be seen when comparing the towel rod heights in both photos. This allowed for a 7th drawer below the under-sink cabinet. Only the right 2/3 of the cabinet is visible. The towel rod was moved to the right a bit so the drawers could open completely without impediment.
The porcelain floor tiles and ceramic shower tiles are the same colour and the same as in our previous bathroom reno in our ensuite bathroom.

Any guests we have will now enjoy a spiffy new bathroom. We are very pleased with the new look.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

4th House

I completed the 4th house last night.
I need to get back to my Berlingot project. It's in the rotation with this project and the sock yarn blanket. I knit on the sock yarn blanket when I need to read the subtitles on TV or am watching something that really required that I look at it rather than just listen to it.

Today, people involved in education are starting back with students. I do not miss the anticipatory feelings on Labour Day weekend that I used to have. I do not miss cramming my personal life into the summer, holidays, and weekends. I do not miss all the class preparation and marking that would keep me late at school and carry into my post-dinner hours.  I do not miss surliness and being sworn at. I do not miss having to get to bed early and getting up early to go to work. I do not miss the upheaval a new provincial government would cause. I do not miss the stress of spending 70 minutes a day with some students who enjoyed challenging the teacher at every step.  Don't get me wrong. Teaching high school math and music was a great way to make a living. It was very rewarding seeing a student learn skills and improve them over the semester. It was exciting opening students' eyes to the joy of listening to and performing music.  It was rewarding seeing these students through from Grade 9 to the end of high school.  Many have become my personal friends. It was rewarding working with other dedicated colleagues. But that middle third of my life is behind me know and I'm enjoying this last third immensely.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Beading the Goldfinch Piece, etc.

The Mill Hill Buttons and Beads Goldfinch project found its way to the top of my UFO pile yesterday. I started the beading. To do this I really need to sit at my desk, pour the beads into white container lids, and use my magnifier.
To my horror, today I realized that all the grasshopper green beads on the leaves of the flower should have been only done with half cross-stitches so they'd sit diagonally. I sure could have saved a lot of time if I'd done it that way. Now I'm trying to decide if I'll take all those beads off and redo them correctly. And if I don't, I guess I'll need to continue the full cross-stitches on the rest of the green beads.

I got the blue house in the right place last night.
The tops of the trees are stitched on the top square.
This is about the size of one of the four sides.
There aren't any fancy stitches so it shouldn't take long to stitch up. However, I keep distracting myself with other projects in the rotation.

I also picked up the sock yarn blanket that I started at the Needler's Retreat last year.
All of this has barely made a dent in my bin of sock yarn ends. I really like the drape of this. I even use small bits of yarn that yield only a couple of rows and simply grab more to finish the mitered square.
My squares start out with 41 sts using a 3.25mm needle and are 3" on each side and 4" from point to point.I throw in a big square every once and a while

Here's my pattern once you have the 41 sts on the needle:

Slip the first stitch (Sl1) of every row purlwise then move the yarn to the back to knit.
Row 1 -RS - Sl1, Knit to 2 st before the centre stitch, ssk, pm, k1 (centre st), k2tog, k to end of row. 
Row 2 - WS - Sl1, knit to end of row.
Row 3 - Next row - Sl1, knit to 2 sts before marker, ssk, slip marker, k1, k2tog, knit to end of row
Row 4 - WS - Sl1, knit to end of row
Repeat rows 3 & 4 until there are 3 sts remaining.
Sl1, k2tog, psso. Cut 3” tail of yarn and pull the stitch through.
Some mitered square patterns have the knitter do a double centre decrease on the centre three sts on the right side rows but that leaves a bit of a ridge. I prefer having a centre stitch and decreasing on each side of it.
Here's the previous one I did.
I did an i-cord edging to finish it off. I keep it in my yoga bag and use it to cover myself up in the Shavasna portion of the practice. Shavasna is my favourite part of yoga because we are simply lying down on our mats, covered up, nice and cozy and relax for a few minutes at the end of each class.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Not One to Point Fingers

Last night I started stitching away on the Hands on Design pincushion, 'Home' in the 6-part series "Block Party".

I bought two of them while at Twist.
The pattern calls for 28ct dirty cashel linen but I much liked the 30ct grey linen better.

The bottom part of the sides is Smyrna stars over 4 threads alternating green shades in a checkerboard.
I stitched a bunch of those then started in on the houses and trees. I was happily stitching away whilst watching episodes of Fruity Knitting Podcast when I realized I had stitched the second house in the wrong place! (arrow shows correct place)
Pick, pick, pick.
See,  Barb?  I do it, too!

I'll get that sorted out and re-stitch the blue house in its correct place.