Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter Magic

I've walking the dog and knitting and reading. From my chair in the window, I can enjoy the small birds as they appreciate the seed we put out for them.

And the big birds. We often have eagles in January because there are fish in our little river. But this one looks like it wants to perch closer.
Maybe it appreciates the pruning job with the new chainsaw.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We had a lovely Christmas. Grown children make such a difference. They brought their girlfriend/boyfriend to our Christmas Eve open house. When friends dropped by, they knew our other friends from many different spheres in our small town. It was very rewarding.
For the first time in a decade we had dinner with my family. It was very festive and our Sticky Toffee Pudding and Elephant Island Framboise were big hits.

My Boxing Day goal is to read a whole book. I didn't get that done, but I read over 200 pages from a larger book, Drood, by Dan Simmons. A few years ago I read the complete works of Dickens except The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This is a fictional biography of Dickens while he wrote it. I also have a book, The D Case in which the famous detectives of fiction try to solve the case. It includes the original and unfinished story. Good reading for a cold winter evening.
D got a chain saw and the hazelnut tree is still shaking in fear.
I have been posting a bit more and getting more comments and I want to thank you all. If your comment has a noreply address, I'll try to catch up with you on your blog.
Scott gave me a link to one of his favourite sites because there was a reference to Firefly and the commenters were so great. They had names like "anonymous coward", "give ben a dollar", and "vicegrip". Crazy computer culture.
I only know what Firefly is because I listen to podcasts and read your blogs. Thanks so much for this rich culture.

Emily spent a day making a birthday banner for my sister. I knew she would do an awesome job. Note the polarbear jammies and new red housecoat: thanks Grandma. She also loved the bunny slippers.

I finally got back to the advent scarf. I'm loving this buffet of patterns. Eventhough I'm only on day 11, I may be able to jump into it now that Christmas knitting is done. I still have a February shawl and I'd like to use the Debbie Bliss alpaca silk aran that I bought at Boutique de Laine for some fingerless mitts like Lettuce Knit Armwarmers.

I threw myself into these slipper socks for my sister's January 3 birthday. I started with the top down flat pattern that was provided, but just ripped it out. Why would you do it that way? Definitely not. I was inspired by Chrisitnes Stay Put Booties and the bunny slippers. I stitched through the 102 holes in the sole and picked up one stitch for each, knit 5 rows in the round and then started working back and forth from the toe until I reached about 15 stitches more than the cuff needed. I faked a gusset. They're a little floppy, but I'm happy with them and not sad that I used the handspun that was meant for me.
Now I can get on with my plans for new years knitting.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Visitors

The house was full of family and friends today. I make French Onion Soup and build-your-own sandwiches. Everyone is welcome to drop by and bring a friend. It was very festive. Even the birds on the deck got into the mood.
Emily and her friends made us gingerbread cookies.

And we filled the "groaning board" with goodies. Now I'm off the hook for entertaining and can sit back and enjoy the meals that others prepare.
Tonight we sing in the choir at church. Then we'll try to stay up to watch Alister Sim in the old Christmas Carol.
Hope your Christmas is filled with traditions and new fun.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Counting Down

Crazy night shift! That's what I get for working a full moon with a lunar eclipse. There were no less than 3 emergencies on the ward at one time. The nurses were looking at each other with incredulous stares. There was no knitting.
My second shift was quieter, but still steady to keep an eye on the peeps (patients) who had had such a rough night before.
I stopped at Mom's on the way to work to say hi to everyone at her Solstice Dinner. They were having a good time.
Yesterday I slept and then knit and listened to Christmas music. Not very ambitious.
But the presents were already finished knitting, blocked and almost all under the tree.

The baking was done.
Today I make French Onion soup, tortiere puff pastry rolls and a croissant crust pizza because my tradition is Christmas Eve lunch.
This year we have invited more friends. It used to be just my family. We are around 30 people now from just the four sisters. But some have moved further away, the nephews are at their moms' and we have made family of some of our good friends. I call them shirt-tail relatives.
I hope that you are surrounded by wooly goodness and the warm greetings of many loved ones this season.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Smart Is That?

I finally found time (on the ferry picking up Scott) to knit on D's Christmas hat. It's in the Soak now. There has been lots of extra time in his home office, so I can't bring out the surprise knitting. This was a very satisfying knit. It used a sock club colour that I wasn't thrilled with ( I spent time wearing olive drab in the Medical Corps a long time ago) the ribbing was mindless and the decreases used a brilliant, balanced decrease pattern. It will look better on his head when the pointy top is stretche out.
When I am worried about not having enough time to finish all my Christmas knitting, I cast on another project. How smart is that? These mitts called to me from the Martha Stewart Living December issue. I liked the simple garter stitch with cables. I had blue fuzzy Shibui yarn, and Scott had bought his girlfriend a blue fuzzy hat. But garter in the round? What a pain. And like her baking recipes, Martha could use an editor to detect mistakes. Thankfully I am not a beginner knitter. I just have the thumb to go and then these will be blocked. But... I turned the mitt inside out to sew the ends in as I go (righteous smarty pants) and then cast on for the thumb. Yes, I cast it on inside out and had to carefully tink back to get going again. I'm working on them when I should be taking advantage of the empty house to finish other gifts.

Bunny slippers finished. The roving made great tails.
I bought buttons for eyes, but Emily is so good at getting personality from her stuffed knits, that I think I'll leave them sad and blind right now. Actually, right now they're wrapped and under the tree.

This is what I should be working on: a bulky cape from the new Interweave Knits Holiday issue. Just go ahead and cast on another project. I have knit both lace patterns once and just have to knit them both again and cast off. I hope she will like the rich burgundy colour that is not picked up in my photo. (ETA finished and blocking!)

And it's not too early to cast on January birthday presents. I bought these slipper soles in Oregon. And the handspun is from the amazing Wild Rivers Wool Factory. I had a lovely chat with the owner on our holiday and even tried a spinning wheel. I think this may have been spun by a beginner because it is not very even and it is overspun in places. I am spoiled by my sister's handspun.
These flat-knit socks are coming to work with me tonight. I want to work on my lace advent scarf, but I don't trust myself to read charts on night shift.

The butter tarts are made and ready for our Christmas Eve lunch. I'm working two nights and then not until the 30th. I've had a big break to get mostly healthy and will have a quiet day today with reading, knitting and the new Knit Girllls episode.
Hope your plans are going well. I'm so close, but I booked two night shifts. How smart is that?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's That Time

Christmas cookies at our house don't always mean marzipan and sprinkles. My Grandma Annie was a practical Mennonite baker who had to feed 7 boys and 2 girls. Only one of the girls was a cook and helper. I loved helping in the big farm kitchen where the massive table was also the family dining space.
I love all things oatmeal and date. These are so perfect that I save them for Christmas. I also freeze a few for my birthday in July.
I made a 4x batch again. Yum.
This is my tribute to a quiet and sweet Grandma. My way of saying, "I remember". I'm not alone, check out Panopticon.

You only get half the number of cookies because each takes two to sandwich the date filling. We made "smaller" ones for sharing, but the big ones are family only.

Please don't complain my cookies are too big. You wouldn't turn down a hamburger that size.

This was a week of lunches and gifts. I am surrounded by intelligent and interesting women. The drive eastward showed Mt. Cheam in her winter glory. I'll try not to make a habit of snapping pictures while I'm driving.

But I couldn't help this one of yesterday's sunrise over the Tsawassen flats. Such a glorious day to go pick up my son from the University of Victoria. We spent many weekends driving to soccer matches and I really enjoy his company.
Now my basement will be filled with boys again and we will maybe have enough cookies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unnatural Decorations

My neighbour loves to decorate and she has two little grand daughters.

This is Homer Simpson on the day shift.

Nothing says Christmas like a wet, deflated grinch.

Natural Ornaments

A walk in the winter sun shows efforts of nature to sparkle and decorate the cold landscape. The dew drops shining on the cedar hedge...
Over-loaded pinecones all at the top as if decorated by a tall child...

Topping the tree with two song birds...

Berries that withstand frost and snow and rain...

And my own holly berries that stand guard at the entrance of our driveway.
It has been very warm here. We complain about the rain, but we're the warmest in Canada these days. Consider visiting to escape the treacherous weather of southwest Ontario, or the nagging cold of the east coast. Our hearts are warm, too, even if the hearth has no fire.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Keeping Up Appearances

Saturday I took photos at the Men's Group Santa Breakfast. There were many happy families and the best Santa, the one my kids grew up with.
Then I worked in the kitchen at a dear friend's funeral. It was an honour to have a role and to pull together for a good reason. There were over 250 people there. They ate everything and drank all four bowls of punch. It was not that sad because she was such a giving soul. She drew us together through all her fundraising.
Sunday morning was the Pageant. The kings costumes were a hit and three bass singers wore them down the aisle singing We Three Kings. Dan and Emily joined another family for a 5 piece brass band. The angels and shepherds were as adorable as ever. It is our "White Gift" Sunday when we collect non-perishable items for the Food Bank. One of the little guys put his can in the manger with the baby.

There was little time for knitting. This is the hat for D to wear to the barn. It's "Ribbed For His Pleasure" but please don't let him know. It will forever be known as the condom hat. It's so simple I can knit it anywhere, but not with D around.

The Advent Calendar Scarf is coming along but I'm quite behind. I will keep plodding along with beads instead of nupps. It is quite a gift of gentle lace patterns separated by a garter lace band. I like the idea of a sampler. Perhaps this will even be nice enough to give our new bride this summer (another nephew marrying!).
The bunny slippers are almost done. Emily was out of the house yesterday so I got down to business and ears and tails. Just finishing ends and carefully embroidering the eyes and noses now.
Wrapping is well underway. I have to clean Scott's room of all the Christmas debris before I pick him up on Friday. We even started watching some of our Christmas videos. I love the Muppet Christmas Carol.
Everything is under control- to the untrained eye.

Friday, December 10, 2010

In the Bleak Midwinter

The days are short and I must priorize my knitting according to light and deadline. I've been home sick for days with the dreadful, drowning cough. So sick. I can't say I don't like to complain. Yes, that's black fun fur. It's a special project I would never have undertaken if it weren't for our very special Carlton. He bought this hat and scarf at our church bazaar that, unfortunately, all the ladies wanted. I thought we were over fun fur! He wanted matching mittens. Of course I must. He is on a trip to Haiti right now, building a school and is in great danger. Eventhough these take most of the midday light, I knit them while praying for his safety. And his wife is awesome. I chose boucle for the hands. That's grumpy knitting, too.
Fingerless mitts for the piano teacher. I've loaned her mine for years and now they're missing, she needs her own. This is the wonderful Vancouver Fog of leftover Cascade 220. I would make them one more repeat long next time, but I'm on a Christmas deadline and these were only 67 grams of worsted!
Because I have no activity reserves, I sit and knit and read and watch Eureka! and Bones. Yes, I'm sick and I don't care about culture. I did watch a few Christmas kids videos with my daughter who was also home sick.
Which meant I couldn't work on these thrummed slippers. I don't think she's reading my blog. They will have bunny ears and faces when I'm done. And just before you start thinking they're so cute....

(pen for scale) they're a ladies 11. We have no Cinderella stories in this house.
I had hoped that yesterday would be my turn around day. Emily and I did the tree and brought out the decorations. But I'm not up for baking yet. How about if I feel better today and I can go to the dinner tonight? The Santa Breakfast tomorrow? and then an important funeral. If I bring enough hand sanitizer, I can still serve punch.
The light is already fading, but I'm looking forward to the bright Christmas lights in the streets. I'll try to take some more photos if I'm outside.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Season of Gifts

I know our swap with the Knit Girllls was Fallmageddon, but I really feel as if I was given an early Christmas present. Thanks to Knitwhiskers for the wonderful swap package. You can see the pumpkin candle and the adorable pumpkin stitch markers. There's a fall blessings mug with three types of hot chocolate (yum). She already gave me Jared Flood's Celes pattern by Ravelry gift and now included two free Rav patterns for Cat Bordhi's Cashmere Moebius Cowl and the Keyhole Scarf by Lineke Kroon. There is enough Handpainted South Texan Angora Goats wool to make either. The blues are my favourite. Plus 400 yards of squishy softness from Brooks Farm Yarn in Lancaster Texas.
I have never been to Lancaster, but I have been to San Antonio and I loved the open friendliness of the Texans. I understand how they can believe they live in a distinct culture.
Thanks so much Renee for the local treats.

And my D has become Mr. Christmas. Already he strung all the lights, and helped pick out and buy gifts. I'm working two days this week and really appreciate the way he pitches in while still practicing veterinary medicine. Maybe that's why I'm knitting for him.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Support the Community

I just bought a drawstring bag from Ravelry. I don't need one, but I wanted to patronize the minimart to support this wonderful platform for our community.
We now have one million members. If each gave just one dollar (!!) we could let them know how much we appreciate the amazing treats they have offered for free.
We also planned our second Knitting Circle meeting (second Wednesday) last night. I hope our local knitters feel invited to drop in and share the ideas, talents and humour of this new group.
If they are even half as lovely as my virtual friends, we are going to have a great time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Warm Your Heart

This weekend, while I was at an awesome drumming workshop and preparing and performing in Handel's Messiah, D helped me make a turkey and then he made the broth. Last night I made turkey noodle soup. You can see we're using the big outdoor fridge.
It is cold. The power has gone out a few times, but only for a minute.
We also had an Advent mass choir sing on Sunday, so Christmas is barging her way in to our schedule.

I finally got to the cards. I have a system and a list. We send out a photo collage instead of a letter, so that makes it easier, but only after I've copied it.

Jean says she doesn't read my blog, so I feel confident that I can post her fingerless mitts. These are from a Sweet Georgia BFL yarn that I didn't like the colour of. I like it better now, and I love the softness. We were in a club together and she just finished a scarf in this same yarn.
The pattern is an adaptation of an adaptation. I loved the Nutkin fingerless mitt pattern. It is great because you can plug in any sock pattern. I chose the Lacy Rib socks from Wendy's Socks From the Toe Up.
I hope to have enough yarn left over to make some baby socks from "2-at-a-time socks" by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Then I can work on my the 2 to 6 other Christmas gifts I may or may not knit.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When the Wind Subsided

The shock of early snow was actually a relief from the bitter cold and wind. One day God is throwing branches and little birdies at the window of my sunroom/office/lab. The next day it's feeling all Christmassy. We don't usually get real cold. For us minus 10 Celsius is cold enough. But we've been through it this week.

Carly can't believe it. She loves all kinds of weather. She'd probably like the storms in Labrador, where her breed originates. Me, not so much. But I have my warm knits to wear and my knitting to keep me warm.
After choir practice I picked up icecreams for the family. It's a Calgary thing: as soon as it gets really cold, everyone goes out for icecream.
And on my desk was the most scrumptious package. This is a warm, deep brown sock yarn from my niece and her etsy shop, electrictree. It was meant to be for bloglesscarla and the Fallmageddon swap with the Knit Girllls. But it is mine. No way is this going on my feet. Caroline dyed it special order and it's going to be a shawl. Maybe swallowtail. It will match the mittens and hat that I'm not knitting because I do have a bit of Christmas knitting. But my projects are portable and I can swap them out depending on who I am sitting with.
Also, the lovely knitwhiskers gave me a Jared Flood pattern in the swap and got me on a big day dream about the yak and silk in my stash.
Last night we were at the school for a great performance of White Christmas with our daughter on trumpet. This morning at 0430 hours I took her to the school for a marching band trip to the Seattle Macy's Holiday Parade. Whew!
Now I'm going to cook a turkey in honour of American Thanksgiving and our love of turkey leftovers. I may get my first batches of shortbread in as well.
We did the Christmas photo collage yesterday and my photos are truly lacking in the people variety. I need to take more shots that tell the story. This year my photos said, "I saw some nice places and did some knitting". Not what the relatives need. I don't post photos of my family and friends much on this blog, and you're who I think of when I have my camera.
It has warmed up a bit, so the roads aren't treacherous and I may have to put my knitting down to do some errands.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ripped Away

I just want to stay home and knit more booties! These are Christine's Stay On Booties. So simple. Great construction and quick. This is just left over sock yarn! I love the Ravelry search for most popular. There is a reason everyone knits the same things.
I can stay warm with my Estelle sweater. Finally got a few shots. Thanks Em.

The Bitteroot is actually a bit large to behave like my other shawls. I fixed the hole. Can you see it? One friend says a blind man would love to see that mistake. Another says it wouldn't be noticed by a man galloping by on a horse. Design elements all.
I wore this shawl to coffee last week and one kind friend remarked that the snow had landed and frozen on it. That is exactly the effect I was trying for with the clear beads. I hesitate to use the word crystal because real crystals cut the yarn and are not suitable for beading.

Finally some shots of the Gretel hat. Emily tried to teach me how to take a picture of myself at arms length. Somehow my arms aren't the right length.

So I plopped it on her an got a shot of the back.
I knit on the long suffering toe up gusset heel sock on the way to Bellingham. I really just made a few mistakes and then had time to rip them back. It's about an hour, but longer because of the snow and ice on the road. Seriously, no sand or salt? It was a bit touch and go, but we made it to the memorial service and got to celebrate the life of a great man. He was a great knitter, too and will be missed by all.
When I got home, I made sure I finished increasing for the gusset and tonight I must turn that heel or it will linger and taunt me.
I cast on a hat for D. He may be lurking, but too bad. Lurkers like to think I don't know they're reading. You are all welcome here. Leaving comments will maybe lead to you having your own blog like it did for me.
So now I have to rip myself away from the knitting-verse to have another Handel's practice. We are getting better, but I think it's because we're freaking scared.
Thank goodness it'll all be done before the Christmas season begins and I can get back to my other projects and important things like reading your blogs.