Sunday, December 23, 2012

Averting Disaster

 I always enjoy the magic of watching the amaryllis emerge and bloom from an ugly bulb planted on Halloween. This year I did two and took one to work. It was a great addition to Christmas at Hospice.
 I have been working lots! Almost full time. I miss my home and sitting to knit and follow your blogs. Perhaps in the new year. I have a week off now and started my Christmas Eve cooking late.
 Decorating and baking got done in between shifts and concerts and teaching Sunday School. I don't feel that I have immersed myself in Christmas music as in other years. I now have my entire Christmas library on an itunes play list and just hit shuffle.
I did get all the knitting done. But I ran out of yarn for my last gift!! And, of course, there is none in Chilliwack!! I tried other yarns, but have decided to do the last bit in the new year. I made a quick hat instead of my first Sweet Georgia superwash worsted in the tourmaline colour way. I wish all my problems were solved so easily. Actually I finished the hat last night and it seemed stupidly small. I picked another pattern and different needles for the remaining yarn before I went to bed very late. I had my clock messed up from a night shift.
 But blocking made it much bigger (surprise?) and I could cook for the 7 hours since church.
French Onion soup ( I almost forgot, thanks D for the emergency supermarket run), twice baked potatoes, tortiere roll ups, bean salad, caesar salad, cranberry chutney, buns. Plus I made butter tarts today and peanut butter scotch marshmallow squares. They go with the shortbread and Christmas cake I already made.
 I worked the night of Dec 11-12. I missed the end of the world. Whew! I had all my presents wrapped and didn't want to miss Christmas.
Mom had a nice Solstice Dinner and we sat around the table filled with candlelight.
D has been sick with a bad cold, my friends are looking after their own family emergencies, or working Christmas hours, so they didn't even miss me while I worked. I was worried they would feel slighted.
Now I have caught up. The children are nestled in front of their computer screens and I want to watch some Christmas movies and maybe knit on my long neglected Colour Affection (affliction). The three balls of yarn behave much better in the yarn bowl. Soon I will be on to the plain grey border and knitting like the wind. Or at least knitting at all.
Hope your Christmas is filled with good cheer, warm hearts and gentle knitting.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thinking Big

After spending the last couple of weeks at work helping with an LPN student, I am pleased at her progress, and appreciative of the time and effort that her preceptor nurse, and the whole team, have shared.
We don't get paid more to have a student. Not everyone is a good teacher. But each nurse has something to give, beyond the needs of the patient and the family, beyond the duties of being a good team member, and sharing our own OCD quirks (I call it OCD for good at work).
I was trained in a hospital in the 80's. The whole school, our instructors, all the nurses in the building, shared a guiding and nurturing (and sometimes harsh direction), over the three years. I purposely travelled to Calgary to have the opportunity to learn on the job.
As well, D has been involved in developing a trade certification for dairy herdsman. In the past, farm boys and girls have been raised with the standards and instructions of the myriad of jobs surrounding raising and milking cows. Going out to do chores was the way they learned the needs of the herd and the the milking. But more people are coming from beyond the rural areas, even from other countries.
To take years of slow training and development, and encapsulate it in an organized and  comprehensive manner is a huge undertaking.
As well, our clinic is part of the veterinary program, taking students, almost continually, to go on calls with them to the farms and learn according to their needs. They even take kids who are interested in maybe becoming vets. Many of the vets in our area have spent time with D on his calls when they were starting out.
But D is a great teacher and has some good partners.

I bring this up because, even though neither of us have chosen teaching as our vocation, our professions have teaching wrapped within it. We are so proud that Emily has a calling to be a band teacher. We both loved school and are the worst parents for always being excited about what our children are learning (except maybe now with Scott's advanced programming and math).

My ideas are sparked by this article:

Our friend from elementary school, and Emily's Godfather is bringing a message of opening communication and taking the time to encourage and empower the youth of today. Worldwide.

I love having students. I have been invited to do some teaching at the local university's nursing school. I need to follow this up.
As we head in to a new year, do you see yourself sharing your knowledge with the next generation? What do you wish you had known before you headed in to a new environment? Who do you see around you who could benefit from some nurturing?
And I hope that I am in the sights of someone else's wisdom.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tis the Season

 Christmas crafting is having to be squished between practices, concerts, the pageant, festive breakfasts and way too many shifts.
My BIL welded these treble clefs for me to decorate for Christmas. I love them! I have tons of holly and ivy because they are special to me, grow really well in my yard and make great ornaments.
 Welcome to our Christmassy home. I finally got the tree decorated and baked the 8 batches of shortbread. I wrapped half the presents last night. But the big news is the knitting that is finished. I can't even tell you about the gifts because of my dear lurkers. But there will be a big reveal after the gifts are opened.
These little mittens were for me.
My sister emailed me a question about an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern and she was surprised I hadn't knit it yet and why not. Good question. Perhaps I could think about knitting through the Knitters' Almanac this year?
I am also going to start a blue hexipuff blanket from Tiny Owl Knits.
And maybe a sweater for me! And a baby blanket for my next great niece or nephew!
But first I must finish this last gift, work on the poor, neglected Colour Affliction shawl, finish my silk mittens and find my other buried UFOs.
Don't spend the season before you have enjoyed this one.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

A Little Christmas Break

 D and I enjoyed a few days in the city (Vancouver) for our annual meet up with friends from UBC days. We stayed in the Wall Centre, which is close to everything. It is part of our Intrawest Whistler time share. We walked everywhere and bought a few things on our list as well as some treats that were surprises.
 In Holt Renfrew, our friend's niece was dancing to beautiful piano music. Ballerinas were handing out candy canes. A most delightful shopping experience.
 Love the kitchy decor in such an upscale store. This is Canada's premium department store and sells all the biggest names, including Tiffany. I bought one small item in the mens' department. But I loved Urban Fare, a fancy grocery store, for stocking stuffers and good spices. The rain was a bit nasty, but the meals were delightful. As well we went to Jazz Vespers at St. Andrews Wesley United Church. We have wanted to go for years, but have never had the chance. D booked an extra night, so we had plenty of time.
But coming back, I feel I could use a few more days at home to prepare our Festival Chorus concerts this weekend, as well as the Fiesta Christmas Pageant I am directing on Sunday morning. I still have two gifts to finish knitting, but our Sisters' Lunch has been pushed back a week. Small blessings. The tree is up without lights or ornaments. And one of us has not baked anything.
The Common Threads Knitting Circle made a basket of cup cozies to thank Starbucks for hosting us for 6 months. We are now meeting at my church and the room is great for teaching and moving about and planning and sharing. Such a lovely and diverse group of knitters!
Today is booked from 0930h to 2100h. Plus I have to get home to let the dog out. Tomorrow I work. I hope to get some tasks done on Saturday morning.
When the concerts are over and the tree decorated, I will put on some Christmas music, pour myself a hot spiced apple cider and wrap some gifts.
Hope you are enjoying the excitement of the season. And don't forget to take a little break.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Craft Crawl

I had fun on Thursday with my eldest sister, who is now retired. It was Craft Crawl Weekend, but we're both pretty busy, so we were glad they added a week day. Mom is still at the ranch and my friends had other plans. It's good to do things with family. I found a quilt I love at Hamels Fabrics, hello Karen??!!! I love the happy colours and the white space, like a picket fence. Next door is the Smitts Cheese farm, and I bought assorted gouda cubes.
Instead of yarn (no yarn shops on the crawl), I bought a yarn bowl. It is exquisite. Holly form Greendale Pottery made it in my favourite glaze. See how happy it is next to my little dishes of stitch markers? It's actually more luminescent in person. She does some beautiful crystal glazes, too.
We enjoyed the lunch at the Little Beetle Restaurant, and bought some hand made soaps at Rustic Soap Co. and candles at Chilliwack River Honey. I love real bees wax candles! So there was no Black Friday shopping needed. I think I have all the gifts bought, and only 4 small ones to knit. Next month will be busy with extra shifts, two concerts, a pageant and a weekend in Vancouver. Oh, and Christmas.
The rain held off, but you can see the snow line creeping down. We certainly are feeling the weather. It is cold and crisp, alternating with monsoons.
The amaryllises (what is the collective plural) are reaching toward the window. They get a quarter turn each day. Soon one will go on my dining table and one will go with me to Hospice to share the wonder. My dining table is covered with research books right now, when I don't push them aside to do some crafting for gifts and wrapping of birthday presents.
I finished knitting the little mittens and am entirely charmed by their size and colour. Tonight I hope to string them on the i-cord and get them ready to go up in the dining room (or on the mantle?) after the first of the month. They took all year to knit, but I will have them for many years. I may even turn them into an advent calendar as there are 24.
On a sadder note, I was asked on Sunday to make a prayer shawl for a friend of a friend, whom I worked with in the hospital years ago. No, I won't sell one, but I'll make you one. This is the delightful Balm to the Soul by Jaala Spiro. She had gifted me the pattern, and I had the yarn in the stash. It came together and was blocking on Wednesday when my friend called to tell me it was too late and her friend had already passed. We talked a while and I let her know right away that the shawl was now for her. I hope I have such good friends when it is my time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Autumn Sun

 Today is beyond gorgeous. It is clear and sunny and warm, about 20 degrees (for U.S., double it and add 30). Mt Cheam has new snow on her and I had to stop to take a picture of her.
 Later in the afternoon, I took my bike out. The dog helped me with some gardening, and by the time I put a leash on her, she was limping. So I took my bike on the same route I used to ride my horse after school. Boy is the traffic more dangerous. If you look to the bottom of "the hill" you can see some barns. That is the farm where I grew up. It's Mt. McGuire with the snow on top of it.
 My next door neighbour does not believe it's fall. She has pink roses blooming and purple beauty bush berries (callicarpa). What a nice surprise next to our driveway.
 Most of the gardening was replacing my front door pots. It's a bit early for my Christmas display, but dead mums do not say, "welcome" and we have friends coming for dinner on Saturday. I work tomorrow so I have to get most of the stuff done ahead. I also worked Tuesday and it was brutal! All our families are in stress and struggling with the grief journey, but honestly. What I can't tell you!
On a happier note, the twin sweaters are done and are currently blocking. I took them to knit night and everyone said black buttons on the white sweater. I love how they turned out and mama is 32 weeks along now, so they are pretty safe. I'm OK with her having them  now that the sweaters are ready.

Knit night was exciting in our new venue, our church meeting room. Check out our facebook page, Chilliwack Common Threads. We had about 14 knitters and they settled in so wonderfully, helping themselves to tea and pulling up soft chairs. When I arrived after work, the laughter was in full swing, the newly donated yarn had made it around the table and the young ladies were ready for their lessons. We are going to enjoy this venue.

I am working on a crazy cowl with some hand spun from Spun Monkey in the poppy colourway. It's an adaptation of the pedestrian crossing cowl which is an adaptation of the jaywalker socks. I'll post the particulars on my Ravelry page.
Plus I'm making "The World's Warmest Hat" for a BIL. It's actually a hat you knit, then pick up at the cast on and knit another hat to go inside it. A bit boring. It was exciting when I didn't think I had enough yarn and could go back to Birkeland Brothers' new store in  Abbotsford. But one ball will do each segment.
I get to choose which of the 4 or 5 other Christmas presents I'm going to knit next. I have the yarn all in a basket on my printer because I need to see things for them to stay in play.
How can I clean up my mess and not lose track of all my projects?
Maybe I'll just sit in the afternoon sun and knit.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Festival Season

 Our community choir, through the Chilliwack Academy of Music is the Festival Chorus. We are ramping up our practices for our early December concerts. This is a great time of year to celebrate the friends with whom we join voices. I also get to do Christmas stuff early, which makes me happy. I have  gathered most of the gifts in Scott's bedroom. They will be wrapped and under the tree before he comes home after final exams. Plus his January birthday gift will be ready and delivered when I pick him up. I have some more accessories to knit, but right now I'm on schedule.
 We also have extra music at church. I am organizing the children's pageant again, and it will be a Mexican Fiesta.
 Our piano had been neglected for a while as the young musicians are away at university, but D and I are practicing our choir parts. And I have even tucked into a little Christmas music.
This is my corner. The 12 string is a bit of a disappointment, but I love my sweet guitar, my little ukelele and the bass guitar. The djembe has been a constant companion. What a great time we had a few weekends ago when I lead a drumming workshop. I usually drum in church if the music is lively enough. I like lively music when the kiddies are there.
Tomorrow I do Sunday School on Remembrance Day. We should really all be at the cenotaph, but I will try to make it meaningful for them.
The twin cardigans are done knitting. There are ends to be woven in, buttons to be chosen and sewn on and then the blocking. I need a dye saver to keep the black from bleeding into the ivory. I can maybe pick that up today when I go to get Emily. She will be playing Last Post at our service and does the best job!
Music and knitting and watching the birds at the feeder. This is a good season!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Now With (Almost) All New Content

 Baby Twin sweater the first. This is Mission Falls 1824 in cotton that I bought on sale. I was going to make a Daybreak Shawl. But I don't need another shawl. This Coffee Bean sweater is nicely written, though Karen encouraged me to make the body a little longer and that was easy to do. The second one will be cast on today with ivory ribbing and button bands. They are due in January, but are twins and can come any time. I look forward to a baby shower with the ladies from our vet clinic.
 I'm dangerously in love with this handspun from Judy Pilote. I bought it at the Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association fibre fair. It was meant for mittens for a sister who doesn't deal with hand washing. So I knit up the Work + Shelter fingerless mitts from the Sweatshop of Love because I will be teaching it to the beginner knitters of our group. I knit them both in a day. I listened to Nicole from Stash and Burn to make a provisional cast on. It would have been great, but I did the three needle bind off on the second one upside down. D very kindly asked (three times) if it was a rookie mistake. I would say so. But I just said it will help me be a better teacher. They are for someone special for Christmas.
 I had enough left over for an "Old Pattern Kindling Coffee Cup Cozy". And maybe another one.
I have four five more small projects for Christmas plus 4 tiny mittens. I can almost imagine making it.
 I dove into my deepest darkest stash for the Knitgirllls Podcast. I bought this mohair in about 1985 when I had two small children and the February blahs were threatening to take me away. I used all my loonies I had gathered. It was the wool shop I no longer go to. The husband said they were closed. I had my money in my hand and my kids in the van and I wouldn't take no. It was expensive and I think he made an error in addition, but I took away my special yarn and made a brioche sweater from The Knitting Goddess in about 3 days. I still wear it when I feel the need for comfort, but I'm brave enough to show off my knitting.
I have 118 grams, about 345 meters. Don't know what I'll make. Maybe a stuffed toy.
Carly would like to walk more in the rain. I would like to go to yoga and then walk in the sunny break. We may not both get what we want. But it's a new day.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Turn the Calendar

I love the planning and flurry of activity that goes into the beginning of the month. At the end of the month I usually ignore it, but I embrace it on the fresh new day one.
We celebrate the seasons in this house. A way to mark the passage of time, to create and instill traditions that enhance our daily lives. I love ordinary time.
Observing and discussing the stripes on the wooly bear caterpillar has always been an important time stamp. Emily used to say callapitter.
Now she plays trumpet in the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Jazz Band. That's her on the far right in the back. Their concert yesterday was wonderful. I can't think of a better way to celebrate Hallowe'en.
I also received a Tiny Owl Card Pals package from Katsmonkeyhouse. What a treat!
Now that the spooking is done, I can plant my amaryllis, set up my Christmas picture and get ready to send out cards.
Last night I cast off my 6th scarf for the Green Heart Warm Heart project. The Chilliwack Common Threads Knitting Circle wanted to collect 160 scarves for the Salvation Army Christmas Dinner. I have 180 in my basement right now and more are thrown at me every day. What a blessing. There are lots of ladies scarves, plus hats and mitts that we will share with Chilliwack Community Services.

I am knitting mitten number 20 of 24. Now that I feel I can get this done for December, I'm enjoying it more. I need to embroider on some of the plain ones and I have to get creative with the stripes. I'll do a bit more fair isle on the last ones. My scraps of yarn may even last. Then I'll crochet hooks and use the icord machine to make a string to hang them from. It will be a banner in my dining room this year, but would make a nice advent calendar.
This is a busy month with extra shifts to help with staffing shortages. I'm getting behind on some of my church work and was a zombie at knitting- appropriate because I wore the knitted brain hat. I'll try to post a picture from our Facebook page.
But the plants have been watered and the mattresses turned. The beginning of the month is a bit more work with cleaning, but worth it.
What do you do when you start a month?

Saturday, October 27, 2012


 I love a big project. I plan for months, hoard yarn and make piles of patterns to choose from. Some people only knit little accessories, but I like to read heavy tomes, practice for big concerts, and knit big sweaters. This has been an extra big project. And I'm close to being done. One sweater away. But this sweater, which I cast on April 10 has been slowly growing next to my chair where we watch TV. This is for nephew #8.
I have an extra large soaking basin because these boys are all over 6 foot 2. Plus my old basin was used to clean D's work shoes when he had to trudge through "sticky donkey poo". I let him have the basin for his own after that. I'm generous that way.
 Here lies the "Ins and Outs" sweater of Diamond Tempo Chunky (with the just right 25% wool)on the newly vacuumed carpet. I decided to block the pieces before I sewed them because I read your blogs and I am trying to heed your advice. I also crocheted the side seam. Very slick. Especially good because the first time I sewed the sleeves to one another. It comes out like a zipper. But it stays after you weave in all the ends.
There is a theme to these sweaters: cables, plain colours and long arms.
Sorry about making you crick your neck. I turned the photo but it didn't take. With computers, I don't have to do it again a different way. I just wait and do it the same way and it might work. No logic there.
Because the sweater is ribbed, I hope it will fit this young man who will turn 22 next month. He's tall and slim, but he's pretty buff, too. He works in the bush, so maybe this could be his apres work hanging out and chillin' sweater. He has a girlfriend, so I should get some extra points from her, as long as she doesn't steal it (I think my BIL lost a sweater to a fellow med student, but I really liked her). There is a Karma to sweaters. The investment is not lost as long as the sweater is loved.
My next one finishes the nephew project with my own godson. I look forward to checking it off my to do list, but I feel bittersweet about turning to new projects. I would feel regret if I had not reached out to these special men who are sons of my sisters, and of course the awesomeness that is my only niece on my side. I have the yarn and pattern ready to go for the last sweater, as soon as I get some Christmas knitting finished.
It takes a lot of persistence, stick-to-it-tiveness, perspicacity.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blustery Bustle

The wind is dancing with the leaves. It has been rather dry (until it rains like a monsoon) and we have leaves like the rest of Canada, instead of the brown mush in the gutters that can be our norm.
I have been delving into music with 2 choirs and playing bass guitar at church. Gotta love U2! I also lead 2 drumming workshops this weekend and it was as inspiring and exciting as it was exhausting.
I was loaned a DVD series, Injustice by BBC and knit my way through the 5 episodes in 2 nights.
D was away and I could indulge.
I am very close to finishing the cabled nephew sweater, but then I start the finishing. I think I'll try to crochet the long seams as Carin, from Round the Twist, did on her Strange Moon sweater.
I am almost done the second robot mitten. Two more in slightly different blues.
I am knitting the 18th of 24 little mittens for my Christmas Banner/Advent Calendar.
I have a list of Christmas knitting that I thought was small, but was really just incomplete.
Yoga this morning, and hopefully 2-3 times a week. I am improving and need the encouragement to keep moving. The big black dog also likes to move, but her walks are getting shorter as she ages and her hips become more sore. My sister lost her golden retriever last week, same age as my Carly, and we are sad for her and for our own future. But we'll keep playing with her and enjoying her companionship.
How else would I find myself in a field of autumn leaves?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Love and Affection

 Autumn has arrived with its colour changes, cooler rain and foggy mornings. I was ready for this. It was a rather difficult summer for me with aches and pains and hot flashes. Thank goodness for Bikram Yoga because you can't tell if you're having a hot flash. I didn't go often enough last month and I am so glad to be back. I may have sore muscles from exercising, but having no muscles hurts much more in the long run. And some of  my 12 hour shifts could be considered the long run.
 Emily's anemone is blooming bravely. She broke up with her boyfriend and, though we are sad for her, we are proud of her adult behaviour. Like her flower, she is both delicate and strong.
 Me, I'm being a kid and knitting robot mittens of love. Love this pattern! I've knit them a bit too tightly, but they will be warm for one of my 2 year old grand nephews. I hope to make another pair, a little different for the other boy. This may slightly ruin the surprise for my readers, but the great nephews aren't reading yet (that I'm aware of). I celebrate their brash boyishness.
The Colour Affection is cast off. I made a mistake in the wrap and turn rows by knitting past just 2 stitches (including the wrapped stitch) so it's much longer. Math gone awry! I struggled with the three yarns all wrappy and misbehaved. I should have talked to my friends when I couldn't figure out the instructions. When I knew I made a mistake and still had to persevere through long rows, I lost a bit of steam. Disheartening. But it was too much knitting to rip out.
It is still beautiful yarn and colours, but it has this awkward tentacle-like appendage on one side. Ew. When I wrap it, I hope to disguise it.
I am over shawls. Every skein of yarn I buy, I dream of what shawl it can be. But I miss socks, and guess what, I have lovely sock yarn that no longer wants to be shawls. Some of it wants to be mittens!
I love the Ravelry search option that allows me to search the patterns in my own library. Time to stop always reaching for the new and shiny. What do I have that I already love? Right now I love mittens, so don't be shocked if you see a few more. I am onto Christmas knitting. It always starts as a short list and morphs to take all my time.
Just finished tiny mitten number 16 for the banner.
After the robot mittens, and nephew number 8 sweater I dream of knitting.... surprises.
In the new year I will cast on for a baby blanket and a shawl for a choir friend. And a blue sweater for myself, probably Twist, because I only have about 6 sweaters worth of blue wool. I already have the sweater and it's very close to the Cassidy I knit from the same designer. Repetition is a good practice for improving my knitting and my fitting.
Practice love and blogging.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Giving Thanks

 It's Thanksgiving in Canada. I made turkey stew and today I make biscuits so we can have a laid back meal with out kids and their friends. There are pies and carrot cake, too. I'm planning to get some strawberry sorbet so we can drizzle it in tequila and call it Marguerita.

The corn is being harvested. But the brussel sprouts are not. Apparently we buy American brussel sprouts for our Thanksgiving, and they buy ours for theirs. Don't you think that's a nice neighbourly arrangement? No brussel sprouts in my house, thanks.
 Plums and apples and dahlias, oh my. Go for the Ambrosia apples! They are even better than the Jonagolds.
 Last weekend was a bit scary with the civic taking a hit. An old lady blew through a red light and crashed into my baby (not the aggressive language). Everyone was OK but we are in a rental car for the foreseeable future. I am so thankful that there were no injuries and the little car can be fixed.
 There has been a bit of knitting. Mostly working 12 hour shifts and feeling so tired. But I want to get through the 3 colour section on the Colour Affection because it's too fiddly. The last section is just charcoal. The weather has changed a bit. It's still dry, but cooler, so I could actually wear this, plus socks, plus my new boots. Thanks.
And because of the newspaper coverage, we are inundated with scarves for the Christmas Dinner at the Salvation Army. I had to go after work to knit night on Tuesday and I helped a lady tink back her fuzzy poncho, and another to turn a heel on her toe up sock. What a great community we live in. There are knitters out there who are as hungry to connect as I have been.
My friends are back from their month in Italy, safe and tired. Great thanks.
Tonight is just feasting, tomorrow is feasting. We are so grateful!