Saturday, June 25, 2016

With Wool, Let the Rain Come.

 When you change your environment, you change your actions and reactions. Moving my desk into a little room was so exciting (and a lot of work), but it means taking the intention to go into that room to write or study. This is a habit I need to cultivate. Listening to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin, I am encouraged to work toward habits I desire.
Like yoga. The bag is packed and at the front door. I am not going to be the one thing standing in my way.
We celebrated D's birthday with 2 parties and Fathers' Day. We were blessed with sun for the last part of this Sunday. The poolside gathering was very festive. The Giant Jenga got to play and it was great fun.
 D was on call for his birthday and the weekend, so we had quiet celebration at home. But home made says party to me. It was fun to include his vet student and share a meal.
I finished the giant grey Waffles blanket. At the end it threatened to  swallow me up. But the weather is switching between warm and chilly. There was no contradiction to having its wooly weight on my legs while we watched TV in the evening. Almost done the 6th season of Big Bang Theory and enjoying laughing out loud. This blanket is destined to live in Winnipeg, so I hope it brings and easy comfort to that new start.

Love my button box. I'll just look to see if there's anything that might work. This is a baby sweater in the amazing Sweet Georgia yarns. You see that little blue dot on the button? It matches perfectly. I can hardly wait to see the sweet young bundle of joy at her first birthday.

We are excited about our trip to Ireland. I have had my clothes laid out on the guest bed for weeks. A capsule wardrobe of navy and white with a fair amount of wool and cashmere. Dublin is a swanky city and I don't like feeling like a compost heap. So I have some tidier items. There will be a gala dinner and a private party at the Guinness Storehouse. But the sun may shine, much like our own home, so sandals may make a showing.
Of course the travel knitting is paramount. I started both toes on D's Christmas socks. The left over Sweet Georgia Tough Sock is good for heels and toes. These are big men's socks, so I don't want to run out of the Socks That Rock in Bella Coola. Thank goodness I am taking the intended feet along, so I can try them on. I still plan to wrap them as a gift. He doesn't care.

Had a lovely bicycle around the western blocks near us and was charmed by these hops. Each pole has a moniker. When I was little, there were hundreds of acres of hops in our valley. They are just coming back thanks to the craft brewers.

Another big finish. This blue chunky cotton yarn is from the deep stash. I knit a baby sweater for one of Emily's skating coaches. Couldn't tell you if that was 10 or 15 years ago. The cables were a delight. And chunky knit up quite quickly.
Now I only have the grey crochet shawl on the needles. Plus the travel socks and I started a travel shawl. Plus the shawl that is waiting for another skein to be dyed. Plus the cozy memories sock blanket. But I think that's all.

This sweet girl loves to explore the front garden. We used to walk 4 miles every day. Now she barely makes it to the road. But she loves to go out. She won't go without me, though, (even if the door is wide open) so I stand around and pick a few weeds while she sniffs and follows the paths of the bunnies.

With my computer and books in my little room, I have a little haven to explore my words and ideas.
But it is new, and I don't always walk the few steps to leave the sunroom that was my "office" for so many years. I am trying to use my desk as a centre and anchor.
There was a ball of the blue cotton left over and I just couldn't put it back into the stash. I have other creative tasks on my list, but the yarn kept me enthralled. I used a free dishcloth pattern from Knitpicks and made 2 lovely circles while watching the Bakery Bears Podcast explore the castles of Elizabeth and Mary. Delightful. I also was compelled to try the citric acid soak to make the yarn colorfast as explained by Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls.
Last weekend was World Wide Knit In Public Day, but it was a cold, dreary rainy dreich. I wasn't feeling up to taking one of the big blankets to a chilly circle of lawn chairs. So I watched some new podcasts and am so charmed by the heavy Canadian content of the Grocery Girls , Wet Coast Wools, and Soxcetera. Knit with us. Join us in a knit along. Thank you, I think I shall. 
In yoga I got very excited by starting a head stand practice and I was way better than I expected. It felt very playful. But it was bad on my neck and I could feel the migraine starting that my physiotherapist had managed to exorcise. So now I have let that go.
With my gore tex runners and rain coat, I am not afraid to go out into the showers and explore the fields and trails. I actually prefer it to the heavy heat we had last year. This is the valley that I remember and feel at home in.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Decadence



This is the 10th anniversary of my blog. Unfortunately I have not been posting every Friday as had become my rhythm. I hope to maintain that in the future. I can even try when we are away.

We have been piping in parades every weekend. My DH is pipemajor (on the left) and does a great job. Our music is really sounding good and we are a fun group. I love my bass drum, but I am grateful that I don't have to carry it until September. My back is not getting better and it is keeping me from yoga. So this week I already had 2 yoga classes, swam laps and cycled. It is good to keep moving.

I love my bass drum, but I am grateful that I don't have to carry it until September. My back is not getting better and it is keeping me from yoga. So this week I already had 2 yoga classes, swam laps and cycled. It is good to keep moving.

We piped for Cultus Lake Days and the romance of this space gets me every time. Because of chill and high winds, it was quite empty- my favourite!! I was 3 when we moved here from Ontario and I will always feel it is partly my home.

On the grey days, I was able to knock out a few more skeins on the giant waffle. I'm just adding the 9th and last skein for a total of 1800 yds. But I keep hoping that the big guy will appreciate it when he is in the Winnipeg winter.

On sunny days I celebrate the roses.

These Queen Victoria roses grow 8 feet high and love our weather. We had a similar rose bush at the farm where I grew up and these are about the same age as me if they were planted in the early 60s when the house was built.

On the wellness front, I am resurrecting some recipes. Big Batch Bran muffins!

And diving into all the early fruits. Last year was the first year we had raspberries in June (D's birthday). This year we are already adding blueberries to the rhapsody.
I made a half recipe of The Pioneer Woman Cooks' Margaritas for a crowd. We had the best margaritas in Las Vegas! Now at 2 o'clock, I look around for our cool waitress.
And I have pizza dough on the go. Things I have wanted to do for a long time.
Enjoy the days you have. Celebrate. Have another cocktail.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bouncing Around and Straight Lines

On the hottest days I hide in my deepest shade.

When its chilly, I play with pompoms and glue.


Still bringing books up to my office. These shelves are knitting. It feels so good to touch them and flip through them, giving them a place in my mind. Yesterday Emily asked me to find a pattern in a magazine. There's a rabbit hole. I have years worth of Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting. When I think of all the energy and creativity that went into making each of those patterns, and then the layout and publication, I am astounded. I have almost stopped buying knitting magazines because I buy my patterns from the designers on Ravelry. But it is not always about the new. I often turn to classics, standards and favourites. This is about the 7th waffles blanket I'm knitting. But I don't have a picture because I only just picked it up again.
Instead I was working on this test knit for the delightful Prairiegirl Susie. She calls it Good Grief. It is beautifully written and a great gift (in superwash) for a great nephew who is just turning 6.


The pipe band has been marching in parades every weekend in our local communities. We have such a fun group and are sounding pretty good. Today is our last one for a while and my back could really use the break to strengthen and get back to yoga.

Dreaming of the colours that Emily will enchant with these undyed yarns.

In preparation for our trip to Ireland starting July 1st (Canada Day) I am rereading some Iris literature. There is a Writers' Museum in Dublin I am so excited about.
Plus I will need some knitting for the plane ride. This is the wonderful Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre (from Vancouver) 50/50 silk and merino. The colourway is Tea at the Empress Hotel. The colours look like pansies to me. 
I set up my swift and ball winder on the table in the basement where my sewing mess lives. It looks worse in a photo, or if you don't live here. Really it is a mess.
But I am just in love with it and going to knit Afternoon Tea by Helen Stuart of Curious Handmade. There is a free pattern on knitty.com, but she later released a more extensive pattern with a larger size (I have two of these for over 700 m) and her wonderful percentage pattern, so I can know if I have enough yarn when I reach the 50% mark. Definitely worth it. I love her podcast, not just for the knitting content, but for the slice of London life.
Not London. Here we are keeping a close look on the corn. It got very hot last week and we were worried the small plants would scorch, but lately it has been heavy rain. Perfect for healthy fields. We don't have any fields of our own anymore, but corn is magical.

The weather hasn't been right for me to wear my finished featherweight. But it does fit.
 Today is the church picnic and threatening to rain, but I have put a lot of time into practicing guitar and preparing my lesson on creation (including blow torch, sparklers, bubble and a TRex)
And I finished the Exonumist Pi Shawl by Wendy Knits in Jamieson's Spindrift, shetland fingering weight. It is very wooly, but soft after its bath. you can see this wearable blanket is almost 2 metres across. I had to buy an extra skein of the Blue Lovat in the middle section but I have 2 and a bit left of the Pacific dark edging. It will be perfect for travelling to Ireland. 

And just to be brave, I joined a project bag swap with a new to me podcaster from Vancouver, soxcetera. Shannonmariah is lovely and encouraging. I am making this drawstring bag for a partner in Indiana. She will sew a bag for me! I have had to mess with the "pattern" a little, but it is surprising to me how much I understand about procedure and sewing skills. I can sew a straight line, too.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Slow Road

Knitting is not a fast hobby. I am a fan of simmering a stew all day, or taking the time to write a meaningful letter. I am OK with slow. As with growing a baby, life can't be rushed. And it can be enhanced by taking the time to enjoy the moments within the hours.
I love knitting for babies. I dream of their little toes and their their sweet stares. This sweater was knit too small for one of our babies, but I knew if I waited, another one would come along. And with it come the blessings of being swaddled in hand knits and wool.

Even when the petals drop, this is my favourite rose. This wild rose grew up from the bottom of one of my nine foot tall Queen Elizabeths that flank my deck. Somewhere in its heart, it wanted to be wild.

The lace weight Featherweight sweater has taken many season. It is harder for me to knit for myself. Partly because I have to knit big sizes and the chances of it making me look smaller are lost in the tears of an adolescent. But I also enjoy thinking about others as I knit. After finishing and blocking, the sleeves were 2 inches too long. This is something I can fix. Rip it back (thank you top down knitting) and just knit it right. By fixing my mistakes, I can learn by them and not load them into the trunk of guilt.

When I am too tired or distracted, my Cozy Memories Blanket is always there for me. I keep it in a basket next to my chair by the TV and can pick it up at any time. This is a project that is loved by the doing and not by the having. I am so grateful to the podcasters who share their blankets and keep this love going.

Our wee pipe band is getting so impressive. DH is the pipe major and it's not easy. But last week, we had gone through all our parade tunes and worked hard and worked together and really enjoyed one another's company. Our season started Victoria Day with our longest parade in Fort Langley and piper friends turned up to support us and march with us.

D had some days off and when asked what he wanted to do, he said, "Go visit the kids". So a fun ferry ride, with time for knitting and reading and some nice moderate weather. 

Instead of shopping for books and wool, we walked around Oak Bay. It was fun.

Supper was a big family affair at a brew pub with great beer and great food. So much fun to just sit around a table and laugh.

Here we are after, reluctant to drive our separate ways.


Emily invited us to her band practice. They are crazy! Crazy talented and crazy fun! Eastern European Gypsy Music. They are called Bucan Bucan (Boochan) and play at festivals and weddings. 

On the way home, we discovered my knitting needle was bent! I'm making a large Waffles Blanket by Tin Can Knits for Emily's boyfriend's graduation gift. It is about the seventh time I'm knitting it because I love the rhythm and the finished object.

So a quick stop at 88 Stitches Yarn Shop in Langley on our way home solved the problem. It's a good thing we left the highway when we did because the long weekend traffic was slow or stopped all the way home. We took the back roads and it probably took about the same long time, but we enjoyed the countryside.

I am finally working on a test knit. With my cold, I didn't feel up to it, but it is an easy sweater pattern and I had the yarn in stash. Love the finished object. I did fight with the yoke a bit, but I blame it on late nights and Dr. Who. Today I am weaving in ends and it can go for a soak.

This Bradbury Shawl took a long time. I was so anxious to have a project for our trip to Israel, but the sock I was already knitting was the one I worked on. Just had to finish something. So I got it done. I thought I wouldn't be able to wear it until fall, but it goes with some of my seasonally transitional clothes too. We normally have very a very long spring and autumn, so it makes sense to have short sleeved tops in dark colours.

I am still enjoying the Pi shawl, though it has been mostly neglected. Won't let myself wind the next yarn for the projects I'm dreaming of until I get more done on it. The weather has been cooler, so the shetland yarn isn't as sticky. But when I have the choice to knit for others.....
With this cold, I have allowed myself some podcast time and highly recommend The Grocery Girls and Soxcetera. They both sell project bags, which I love, but I appreciate that they encourage us to make some of our own. So I joined the swap and am excited to use some of that fun fabric I have been afraid of.
Life is slow for a reason. If you don't push and let the project or idea come to the forefront when it is ready, you can spend less energy struggling and more time engaged in creativity.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Making Progress.

I am enjoying this early spring that feels like summer. My first morning journalling on the deck gives me such hope and anticipation.


Finally cast off the Bradbury shawl in my very old stash Suri Blue. Good idea to hold it double. Not a good idea to use the almost 400 stitches as a travel project. I still don't like leaving a knit in the middle of a row. I only used 100 of the 200 grams, but my friend said she would swap with me. 

Here it is blocked, with the lace stretched out. This will be a fine shawl for the autumn. Plus I have fabric to sew a dress to coordinate. I would definitely knit this pattern again. Wrapping a rectangular stole can be much simpler than trying to wear a triangle.
This Peace rose has resisted blooming in my garden. I have moved it twice. The last time was over 5 years ago, but it finally decided to be happy, and it makes me happy.

Mothers Day was fine. I was happy to have visits with my kids on the phone and to see Mom at the niece and nephews. It doesn't have to be a big deal, I just don't like to be forgotten. This bracelet has charms that my kids have given me for Mothers' Day over the years. It's good to remember when they were wee and we were a family of four every day.

After the success of monogamy in the maroon shawl, I have decided to get cracking on my featherweight shawl. I had already knit the body and the neck band and picked up the first sleeve. Good thing I checked the instructions because it says knit 9 rows and I was aiming for 9 inches. Ripping back lace weight is down heartening. I have had to muster my bravery for much of this sweater.

What if it doesn't fit? The yarn is precious and the colour is my favourite. Why did I risk it?
But now I have the first sleeve done (put it on a line and tried it on twice before casting off) and I am faithfully replicating the second. Soon I be able to imagine that it can be finished.

Another brave day, I took the second set up stairs up the mountain and trekked across to the trail head for Mount Thom. When people say "You can't miss it, " I know I shall get lost. So I went up to the trail head and then down the path to get my bearings. My knee didn't like it later in the day, but I am so thankful for my mobility.

Plus you are rewarded by a new view. I used to ride my horse up here, but now it is all developed into what we call subdivisions.

A great opportunity this week to see Lawrence Hill speak in our small town. He is a proponent of supporting the Syrian Refugees and we have managed to cooperate with 5 other churches to sponsor 2 families. His book was written before this current crisis, but is very timely. I like the setting of the near future in a fictitious country. My hope is that people can stretch to see themselves in this novel.

He spoke beautifully and compassionately. The excerpts he read were funny. It was great to have the audience of mostly white women laugh at his characters, especially the crazy church ladies.

Big events in our house: the books in the sunroom,

and on the windowsill, are getting a new home.


Yesterday Dan and I went to IKEA. A fun trip on his day off and a practice run for future retirement. Then he put them together. They still need to be anchored into place, but watch this space for my dreams of having all my knitting, writing and teaching books in one place. My own Pinterest Room of Her Own. There are still shelves to be put back in the closet, and closet doors to be put back on, and maybe returning the glass door to the room, but I am smitten. Making progress.