Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chasing Rainbows

 We are in the late days of winter when the rain comes and goes and then seems to stay forever. Getting outside to the local hills is a great antidote to the grey.
 As is the Suburban Stitcher Rainbowalong KAL. I love this Raincity Knits kit of rainbow minis in superwash worsted merino. The Monster Cowl was introduced to me by Must Stash Yarns and I'm so glad I got to knit it. 
 I'm also swimming at our local pool, once a week. It delights me to see people in all their all weather gear, dodging the raindrops, when I am truly wet.
 Outside the pool is this fragrant shrub. My sister says its Oregon Grape, but it is much more delicate than the stuff I have grown.
 D and I travelled to UVic to see Emily's concert and visit with our kids. It was a spectacular program with the Naval band. We loved having dinner and breakfast in Oak Bay. We even got to see Scott's apartment and his roommate's cool cat.
 Camelias are blooming in Oak Bay.
 Brass Needles is hosting a February Finishuary. It gives me hope that I can work on this Featherweight cardigan in Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace and make it fit. Mom took my measurements. I wasn't off that much. Now I have separated the sleeves, I can just knit straight on the body till I feel it is long enough. It was a good travelling companion. My hands like the small movements of light yarn.
 Coming home on the ferry we noticed the late brightness (this is about 5:30 pm). Hope for spring.
 And my snow drops welcomed me home.
 I played around with strip sequences on the cowl. It is rather bright! But it looks different when you wear it. I also want to show my support for the Pride events that will be happening soon.
 I walked the big block and enjoyed the familiar scenes. 
 I must remember to try this in my front yard. The naturalized crocuses are so cheerful.
And in the end, there were ends to weave in. Actually I did quite a few as I went along. It did block longer (from 46 to 60 inches) and I will wear my rainbow KAL cowl with pride.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Winter Comforts

There are a lot of rainy and chilly days right now. Think UK. But when the rain stops, or the sun comes out, I go outside and mark the progress of the snow drops and the buds on the trees.

 I finished the 3 Colour Cowl. This is in Shibui Stoccata and is so soft and luscious. What a great travel knitting project! I think I'll cast on another in my Party of 5 from Sweet Georgia and just play around with the textures.

 There was more hat knitting. I thought I'd use the leftovers from Mom's hat, but had to dig in the stash for some lighter yarn. So happy to be using this well-marinated yarn. The pattern is Bumble by Tin Can Knits and it was as much fun as my friends have said. So squishy.

 A birthday gift for a great nephew.
 When it is cold outside, my thoughts turn to baking.
 A new (very old) recipe from a knitting friend, this sheet apple pie was the bomb. I think it's an old Mennonite recipe.

 I brought it to our church auction and dessert party. D and I were a little worried that it wouldn't get off the ground because it's his committee and we were away. But people brought great items and our professional cowboy auctioneer helped get the bids up.
One of the purposes of such an evening is to have fun in the dark, damp cold. The weather was there for us and the people came and we laughed and got high on sugar and had a great time. I also made that giant carrot cake. There were left overs for Sunday coffee time. I donated my quilt and a silk and bamboo shawl. Both went for good prices. Yay.
 The Graffiti and Asphalt socks are done. The fabric is perhaps a bit loose, but the fit is pretty good. I will be playing with different heel patterns this year. 
 Knit up a hat in some White Buffalo unspun yarn and it turned out really big, so it goes the biggest head I know, DH.

 Revamped the pattern and now I have a nice hat for Great Nephew.

 Both my kids have their birthdays in January. The birthday boxes were packed before Christmas and delivered when they returned to Vancouver Island after the holidays. It was fun chatting with them about the varied items and why I included them. There were some hand made items and plenty of coffee.

 I splurged on some yarn I needed but did not need. Feeling the pull of pink from watching podcasts with delightfully sweet hosts. This is going to be a great shawl. But first I have to finish my February Rainbow KAL and the Galactic Hat KAL. It is encouraging to have internet friends.

 The jasmine is flowering. I really need a sprig of this. It reminds me of sister's back door at the farm, which was always colourful and welcoming in the winter.
Tomorrow we celebrate Mom's birthday. It will be fun to get together and share some lunch.
I am fitting in some swimming and even hiked the stairs on the hill. Since my birthday I have lost 18 pounds and I feel hope in my year of Wellness.
Some comforts I am trying to get back to: reading, vegetarian cooking and spending more time with friends. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Progress at Home

 I needed a little cheerfulness in the house. The weather has been mostly grey and chilling. 

 Had fun playing with yarn this week. Added a crochet border to a hat and had to admire the sweet collection of hooks and tools.
 Mom wants a hat like the ones in this Tim Horton's commercial.
So I mashed up some patterns and put one together. With a red pompom.
The jet lag was pretty amazing. I also had to get over an infection, so the week was just this productive. I have turned the second heel on my Grafitti & Asphalt socks. I worked on them quite a bit on the coach during our trip. Now I just have the concurrent feet and toes to finish. There are lots of sock knit alongs this month, so it would be nice to have them finished. February has other projects to knit.
Felt better today, so I went walking to my trail. I saw a pompom in the tree. But it was a squirrel and he wasn't about to pay me any notice. The heron landed on our bridge and the ducks are starting to dance. It's nice to be home. It's fun to catch up with friends and family. Even though it's dreich, the spring is still a promise.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


 There are too many words and too many photos of our trip to Israel. It was so much fun to join the group of 40 under the leadership of Ross Lockhart, a professor at St. Andrew's College at the Vancouver School of Theology in UBC. We started at Tel Aviv, and Jaffa and toured our way through Bethlehem and Jerusalem. There were lots of archeology lessons, stories of the ancient people of Israel, the Romans and Crusaders and the building, tearing down and rebuilding.
 Israel is so beautiful. The January weather was so pleasant and the range from coast line to desert to mountain top was astounding.
 Our guide, Shimon Zemer is a bit of a rock star in the tour guide world. He served in the Israeli army and has taught Christianity to Jewish scholars. But he's funny and patient and had his hands full with us.

I fell in love with the olive trees. Old and young, they are so strong and elegant.
In Nazareth we visited a 1st century village that was reconstructed from the ruins of a vineyard.
 We stood on the top of Masada and looked at the Dead Sea. Then we swam in it and covered ourselves with the black mud. It was a silly time.

 The walls began to speak to us as we discovered the different ages of building and the signature of King Herod or the crusaders.

An interesting demonstration of spindle spinning, yarn dying and rug weaving.

 We enjoyed many quiet moments of reflection and lesson. There were hardly any other pilgrims around. At the Sea of Galilee we gathered at the water at sunset.

Ornate iron work makes me think of my sister.
I am designing a needlepoint inspired by all the Roman tile work we saw. There are few barriers. You can touch and take photos and even walk on the treasures.

 There were many stairs and trails. I was happy to be up for most of the trails. 
 At Masada, we took a cable car up to the top of the mountain that King Herod built. The stones are still there telling the stories of sieges.
We could see the Dead Sea in the distance and later floated in it and covered ourselves with its healing black mud. Such a silly group when there is fun to be had.
 The gardens captured me. It is dryer and warmer than my home but many of the plants were the same. I was enchanted by the rosemary hedges and the cyclamen planted like pansies.
An unknown beauty, Mom identified it as cyrtanthus mackenii. It originates in South Africa.
 We sang in the amazing acoustics of the chapels. Our group was especially talented and it was such a blessing to be able to freely play with harmonies. Some of the hymns were familiar, but we loved learning new ones. The Taize music was especially touching.

 Bread. Nuff said.

D bought a shofar. It is a ceremonial horn made from the horn of the kudu. He was able to play it like a bugle.

Roman ruins are still being unearthed. I had no idea that archeology is such a living science. There are endless digs to work on and endless treasures to be discovered.
We were invited by friends from church and we made many more friends. This was on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
Jerusalem was astounding. The golden walls. The history piled on history. The different religions living passionately cheek by jowl. Yet it is a living city with families and congregations.
 A typical stall with all the bling.
 We visited the Western Wall of the second temple. The most holy site for the Jewish people.
 And we went into the tunnels below that reveal the history of people who kept on worshipping and building. My prayers were placed in the wall far below in quiet where only women worship.
 D rode a camel on the Mount of Olives. Great fun. I fed Tristiania bird out of my hand at Masada. There were innumerable cats trundling about, well fed and ready to be pet. We were charmed.

Our last evening saw the end of Shabbat. The paths of the city were quiet. It seemed like months, or just hours. The flight home was a bit brutal (over 24 hours) but we are back in our comfortable home and connecting with family and friends. I had a poem attack yesterday morning and was able to get it all on paper. This is auspicious in a year in which I hope to write more.
I feel like a real pilgrim. I didn't get blisters, but I was changed by the close proximity to history and grace.