Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pay It Forward

My Christmas cards are done. I will wait till next week to mail them. I have been a bit punky and it was all I could manage when I wanted to bake.
I have a lot of lines to learn for the two dramas I am preparing. My own fault. I'm barely getting practice time with my actors, though, so it's stressful. A lady came and took all my costumes away until 2 days before the pageant. Did I already tell you that?

Good news, good vibes. I was reading Purling Oaks and she invited her readers to be part of a blog phenomenon, " Pay It Forward". I will carry on from this site.

“The idea of the exchange is I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on this blog post requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”
I know this is another step to conquering the world.

I'm trying to conquer this squiggle scarf. Three types of yarn to make an open knit with visible stitches. I'm not really enjoying it. I think it's partly the side-to-side knitting and partly the cutting and fringing of each row. It should go quickly now (because I'm not allowed to work on anything else). Moby Dick is seeming more compelling suddenly.
Here is the hat which I have finished since this morning's photo. It's Bernat Alpaca blend. It's very soft and very warm and good enough for something D. will wear in the barn. I adapted the old Paton's pattern (Habitant) to knit in the round. The yarn is not a great choice to show the cables, but c'est la guerre.
I do like it's fluffiness. It will placate the husband who sees so many projects leave the house for others.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I have 4 sisters. I am the youngest. They each have great gifts and strong personalities so we drive each other crazy in many and varied ways. But there was a time when the four of us, the big guys and the little guys, were a strong unit and stuck together to help each other grow up and explore the many interests and ideas that we are known to generate. We are idea people.
I remember sitting around a table making boxes to wrap gifts in, making extraordinary Christmas baking. I was four years old when we made beads of magazine papers and strung a curtain for my nanny. I can still smell the turpentine. I was not much help.
We knit and sewed and made candles and macramed and did anything that was a new fad or an old heritage craft. This was before we had heard of Martha Stewart and we had no money to "source" items. We just used what we had.
The handspun was made by my second oldest sister who lives on Saltspring Island. It is lush and smells like lanolin. She gave it to my next oldest sister who passed it to me this summer when she was moving. Now I guess I have different rules about gifts. Most of what I believe I blame on them. But this wool wants to be with the giftee.
So I made her and her husband hats for their cold Kamloops ranch. They were a quick knit from the amazing "The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" by Ann Budd. I love this book. If you have any unmarked yarn in your stash, you must find this book. It goes hand in hand with EZ's idea that the gauge you get in your swatch is the right gauge and you just adjust the pattern.
But look.

I may have enough left over to make another hat. For me? I think that will be allowed because it was not intentional, and the gifts were made first.

In the list of Christmas knitting, I have only a few things left. I don't like to stress my Christmas further with the stress of unsatisfactory progress.

One hat for my hairdresser who does both my kids now too. He can use it for mountain biking, maybe.

Two mittens for friends' boys 2 and 5 years old. Ann Budd and some sock yarn for that. We don't have very cold winters, so I think non-bulky mittens would be more useful for play.

Squiggles shawl. It is not big but I don't like the side-to-side knitting. Get it done next!

D. asked for a toque. That means he feels left out by my knitting for others. I bought an alpaca blend and I'll whip it up in my travel knitting. But he will criticize it's fit or colour or feel. Oh well. Perhaps it's his way of being interested. I have knit him a masterpiece aran sweater which is "too big" and a vest that is also "too big". The vest fit when I made it (of brown fine weight alpaca) and the aran sweater looks really good on him. I'm not inclined to knit a lot more for him.

It's like my daughter asking for popsicles. There are popsicles in the fridge but she doesn't like them. When she has finished them, I will buy more. The ones I buy next will be wrong as well, anyway. This is low on my priority list. Go get your own popsicles and quit whining.

So on to more baking. I finished the Christmas Pageant, cast it, chosen and handed out the musis, had a first run through with the main actors and am waiting back for the word on set helpers and kiddie attendance. One lady came and took all my costumes out until a few days before. Horrors! I was not going to let them go. But she has been roped into fitting the costumes (that same night!) and helping with the little kids. Whew. This does not help me.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Not A Book Club Event

I have the greatest friends in my book club. The problem is we have trouble choosing a book, reading it and discussing it.
This summer we read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (three of us did) and then in the fall, her Wives and Daughters (two of us finished it). I had a lovely Folio edition, a gift from the other one who finished it.
Last week we met on a Wednesday evening with no kids or husbands (shocking neglect) to watch the movie North and South. It was actually the second showing, I missed the first, and four episodes all together. It was marvelous.
At the end we asked, "Are we going to pick another book?"
There was discussion, but no answer.
The good news is most of us brought our knitting and it was entirely satisfactory as a sit and knit.
These are the stitch markers I have made for my bestest friend for Christmas. She doesn't celebrate Christmas, but she's good for gifts and exquisitie baking. This is her colour and matches the Kiri shawl I knit her for her birthday. They are packed in a sweet chiffon bag and tucked inside a tiny box marked, "Peace On Earth". I hope I can wait to give them to her. Our black Alaska finally came in at our LYS. I gave up on waiting for it for the Counterpoint scarf and just bought Cascade 220. Dependable 220. We have the Canadian distributer here in town. She does not have my favourite yarn shop, but I can be a bit mercenary when I want Cascade.
This is some Araucania sock yarn that slipped into my basket at my favourite store when I was buying extra Maisy yarn for the chemo cap. I don't know how that happened. I was only buying black Alaska for Noodle Pie's felted messenger bag. Whoops. As it turns out, I didn't need the extra skein of maisy and will trade it in for another of the Araucania. I think I will need more than one skein for socks and if I knit from the toe up, I can happily knit them as long as I choose.

My book club also went on a craft crawl. We started at our regular organic bakery and bought some Christmas cake, biscotti, home made chocolates (with Red Chili!) and lunch.

Next we toodled off to Greendale Pottery, a fellow music mom and brilliant potter. I bought a Brie Baker for my mom. She had the alpaca farm people there (woo hoo). I bought another skein of sock yarn. Next door is the soap maker and I bought enough for all the girlfriends of my nephews. I have never given them gifts and some have been around for years (even if I don't get to see them). I will extend my auntiness to them as well. Perhaps we can be the kind of family that welcomes friends.

Finally I finished the Maisy corn fibre and elastic chemo cap. It is nutbrown (plum) softness. I was afraid it would be too tight. I had good stitch gauge and terrible row gauge (again, none was given). I ended up measuring my head with a napkin (we were knitting at the said bakery) and still being unsure.

Because I read your blogs, I have learned a lot. Uncertainty is not a necessary part of knitting. I slipped the stitches onto a thread and tried the darn thing on. It fit my skimpy little head and still had give and sproing from the elastic. I was satisfied enough to knit up the border and cast off. Now I must get into the next town to deliver it.

I hope she can wear it. I hope her head does not itch as her hair grows back. I hope that returning to work will give her zest for life and not sap her of the energy required to heal and be a mom and wife. I hope she knows how thankful we are that she was brave enough to complete the full breast cancer treatment and how our prayers were answered that she has survived to come out the other side.

Now if I could only teach her to knit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not a Good Friend

Oh No! Bad Friend.

My dear friend is knitting lace socks with Cascade Fixation. In order to help her with the tiny printing, I copied out the lace pattern. The 8 rows took two sides of a 5x7 card.

She called me to say that she was ready to start the heel flap when she found a problem. Oh, no, I thought. She failed to turn the card over.


There are actually 10 rows to the pattern and it is my fault that her lace looks "different". She's OK with it, but I have no way to apologize heartily enough. I think a gift of yarn is in order.

I've made some changes to the blog. Is it easier to read? I wanted to add the blogs I read. It took a bit of fiddling, but I think I can work with this.

We had our first light frost. It's a good thing my sister picked up her plants and took them to her new ranch because they wouldn't have liked my frosty deck last night.

The hardened mud means good walking in the corn field, with off leash Big Black Dog.

On the other hand, our trees are having trouble with the mild climate and light frost. We have willows in full leaf, beach trees with dried leaves that probably won't fall till spring, poplars that gave up their leaves (and some of their lives) in the last big blow, and the evergreen and much revered cedar.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not A Pink Ribbon

This brown/plum non-colour of yarn is for a friend who has just finished her chemotherapy. I was trained as a paediatric oncology nurse. I know how devastating this treatment can be. She was not supposed to have any radiation or chemo. But after her surgery, they just wanted to be sure. I worked with her on a committee that wrapped up very successfully just before her surgery. She had had a mamogram just a year before, she is young and healthy. It was a shock.

I knit her a prayer shawl right away and gave her a pink ribbon angel to watch over her, but I have not seen her. I am grateful to be on the list of email updates.
But I bumped into a skating mom who works in the same place and my friend is going back to work soon- sans hair.
I hope this soft chemo cap will help her feel loved and ready for action.
It is made of the new Crystal Palace Maizy (82% corn fibre and 18% elastic nylon). I hope it is not irritating to the baby exposed scalp. It is just a bit sproingy- not as much as Cascade Fixation. I think it is also thinner.
Which came first, the pattern or the yarn? They both jumped out to me on the same day.
At first I wanted to knit in red because my friend does not wear pink, doesn't like it and probably hates it by now, being showered with pink ribbon paraphanalia.
I have seen her wear this almost brown. I was wearing it the same day and we made a point of sitting together to laugh about it.
The pattern is from and was designed by Corey Laflamme for her own post-chemo self. It is called a Pi Topper Chemo Cap with a nod to Elizabeth Zimmerman ( I can see the stars alligning).
I ran into the wool shop on Friday because I was worried about Susan who is spending too much time next to her mother's hospital bed. I had seen her Thursday when I bought a book for my sister (the New Cat Bhordi) and I had to get back to her to lend her my copy of Knitting Without Tears. One of the first things I said to them when they opened was they should stock EZ books.
Maybe she'll believe me after reading this amazing book.
I encouraged her to start a Pi shawl or something equally brainless to soothe herself.

My friend has a red beetle and I'm going to enclose this ornament in the pre-Christmas gift.

Eight more batches of shortbread in the oven. Next: Buttertarts and White Mice.
I love food that improves with age.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not So Unoriginal

I was captured by my muse (the virtual knitting world) to knit a big hat. The twin to my godson is also turning 17 next Wednesday (they share the same birthday every year). Twin A had a knitted item. Twin B sat crying into his cake in the corner. No, a good auntie won't allow that. So I took a hint from the Yarn Harlot and tried my hand at a quick knit.

I have no jumbo yarn in the stash. I took 3 strands of worsted from a previous nephew sweater and got gauge! Yes! Well, almost. He has a big head so I was happy to be a bit over. Their big brother loved his "Dublin Beanie" in alpaca a few years ago.

Now I don't know if skateboarders wear cables, but I know this dude travels around town on foot and in the bus and would probably appreciate a warm, dry head. I would appreciate a totally engrossing few hours with cables and wool that is sticky enough not to need a cable needle (thanks Grumperina).

When I had finished one pattern repeat, I was afraid the 3 skeins would not go another round. Plus I probably didn't get row gauge (as none was given) . It was almost long enough. So I farted around with joining the cables while slowly decreasing the purls. I don't like hats that decrease too quickly and bunch at the top.

The opposite risk is a pointy top. But this is relieved by wearing the thing. I worry it is too small. I worry it is the wrong colour, although as cafe au lait it is no truly discernable colour. There is a lot of black in it. I worry that cables are for geeks. I worry a lot less because I may not see it that much and my sister will probably snag it if she can. If it is the thought that counts, I'd better include the Dairy Queen gift cards that were their first gift ideas.

Not So Smart

This is my idea of sleeping in on a holiday. I get up early and surround myself with a nest of books, magazines and, on the weekend, the paper. It is quiet and I have even been known to do some writing. Even (gasp) poetry. Somehow this same chair, in my sunroom/office is just too close to central station (the fridge etc.) to allow much thinking. When the troops arise, I pull out my knitting. I can do really difficult knitting while they sleep, too.
One would think that at 14 and 16 they would be relatively independent. This is what I have been striving for for several years as I plan to re-enter the work force. Alas.
I forgot my trumpet. Mom, didn't I have a piano class today? Did you need the keys (this from G'mas as I am stranded in the parking lot). Sigh.

My little patch of clever is this display of personalized stationery for my "team leader". Yes, her name begins with S. I feel bad that I got twice as many cards for the same 1/2 price and the envelopes, too. I used scrapbooking paper and cut out letters I traced from the computer. I'm not the best at cutting (left-handed with a right hand injury) but I got the job done and she will be happy to have something handmade. Don't you just love those people. To them be blessed more handmade goodies.

Now I have learned a lot from my internet knitting friends about using markers, marking patterns, counting rows, etc. I have enlisted these strategies because they are used by better knitters. Before, I thought the goal was to knit better with no help. Not so bright.
However, with the aforementioned aids, I still stumbled. This is not a keyboard. Even if you squint. Even if you hold it really far from the piano. Here froggy, froggy. (Same picture, so intellectually cheapening. Sorry).

Ahhhh. That's better. Almost 2 repeats ( D.C. al fine). I hope our bandmaster likes it. He wears goofy ties. That's encouraging in this case.
I have a very tentative grasp on this 4 row pattern so that, if I am uninterrupted, I can knit the four rows of one pattern stripe as if I could follow along. I didn't get much knit at the rink today (Noodle Pie was doing a Skate Canada skills test), but because of all the aids for the knitterly challenged, I didn't get lost.

I have had to begin another 'public' knitting project. Knitting a gift really tells you how much someone is part of your life. I can't knit this gift at any recitals or practices where the teacher in question or his family may be attending.

Enter EZ Tomten in the ivory astra inheritance for my first grand niece or nephew. This makes me feel better about abandoning the pi shawl.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Meaningful Remebrance

This is my NoodlePie practicing her trumpet for the Last Post. See her kicky new short hair?
She played for the Lieutenant Governor at her Middle School for an exceptional service that included a power point by the computer classes of pictures of soldiers, local, First Nations (aboriginal, Indian?) and relatives of the teachers. The middle school kids were so well behaved. His Honour, Steven Point ( a local boy and hereditary chief) captured their attention. It was fun to watch them go through proper protocol. I'm big on protocol and dress and deportment from my years in the Reserve Forces Medical Corps.
That was Friday morning. Then we went to the Elementary School where the band teacher's wife teaches (my high school friend). I was asked to give a short talk on Piper Richardson VC, our own local piping hero, and Noodle played the Last Post and Reveille again. The little tykes were most attentive. We also took a piper (not my husband or my son). This young man did a stellar job of scaring the kids and making the teachers cry.
On Sunday my band was playing at the cenotaph near the closed army base in Vedder Crossing. I have been there several years attending my young drumming students in the Fraser Valley Youth Pipe Band. Before that, I drummed with the Chilliwack & District Pipe Band at the cenotaph in downtown Chilliwack. But Noodle and I went to church where my dear friend and Worship Team Captain put together a very moving service of remembrance. I did Children's Time as I usually do and Noodle played her trumpet. Usually D. plays trumpet for the church but he was piping at the official service downtown.
We had lots of tears and thankful seniors who are to frail to go out in the (moderate) cold.
We usually carry those disposable hand warmers and try to layer extra shirts under our jackets in the pipe band. One year the rain was so hard, it stopped up the pipes and we had to retreat to a drums only parade. That was fun! Then the band makes the rounds of all the seniors centres and Legions, playing and drinking until about 5:30 at which time they are unable to drive. My soccer-mom van comes in handy.

This is wrong. There is an illusion, but it is no of a keyboard. I had a 50/50 chance of getting the MC and CC right and I lost that lottery.
I frogged it and now it's better. I can knit without that niggling feeling that the world is turning in the wrong direction or at the wrong speed.
Thanks for the comments on my Noro scarf. I used two balls of each number. Would you be brave enough to pick a third like Jared at . He posted the finished scarf on April 30, 2007. (I was going to use numbers only but I'm a bit of a stickler for ascending or descending and he put the month first. No, no, no.)
My nephew's birthday is this week and I hope he loves the scarf because I don't want to give it up.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Humble Bliss

These socks are so soft and fit my big feet so well! When I put them on I did a "Lime & Violet" squee. These are a decadent pleasure to overcome sore and cold feet. This is an auspicious beggining to a long, dark, wet winter.
Thanks to Noodle Pie for asking to try them on and then taking the time to take pictures. It's nice to have another knitter in the house. We can all knit, but only ther girls care about it.
Thanks to Nancy Bush for the Rib and Cable pattern in Interweave Knits Fall 2005. Thanks to Helen's Needlework in Mt. Vernon, Washington for the Mountain Colours wool in "Meadow". I'm a sucker for good colour names. I bought enough for 2 more pairs when I went back the next year and I think I can hear them crying from the stash in the back corner of the basement.
Mr. Boo got his 'N' yesterday, so he can drive independently. He can only have one friend with him, though. Good. We're proud of his capable, comfortable driving. He's so much like my Paw!
I'm doing a bit of starting. But I should knuckle down and explore the illusion knitting of the piano keys scarf. Let's see if I listen to what I "should" do.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Almost Unbearable

I love this scarf so much I can hardly bear to give it to my nephew (and godson) for his 17th birthday.
I chose it because he is very stylish and brought back a real European dash from his year as a Rotary Exchange Student. Jared from Brooklyn Tweed has such a grasp of elegant simplicity. I thought my nephew would really appreciate the subtle colour changes, the slubby wool and the extra length. He will smile and put it on right away and give me a big hug and wave as he waits for the schoolbus.
I could always make myself another one. But it would have to be different, and, with Noro, it could turn out radically different. I did love the actual (addictive) knitting. I have learned to embrace "random". But I really would like to recreate it. How dumb is that to have a matching scarf with your old auntie? I guess it really will be his.
It's almost unbearable.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Visually Pleasing

We have had a nice dry, crisp stretch which allows the leaves to rest on the ground instead of clumping up in wet balls. This is visually pleasing. It's raining again. Oh well, I got a picture. This is right after I dropped my 14 year old daughter at the bus depot to travel to Naramata for Youth Conference, a great 3-day Youth Group romp with all the younger United Church youth in the province.
My own visual requirements were not met when I went to the trouble of bringing my bookcase upstairs. It was my first purchase after graduating from Nursing School and I love it. To have it in a corner behind the couch in the TV room was too sad. However, it was place too close to the window. Yesterday I took all the books off the shelf and moved it 3 inches to the right. I know. Picky. But very important to the symmetry of the room. I put all the books back on and was much happier. Now I need another book shelf.

And this Noro fun. It's Silk Garden in 203 and 245. The knitting is 1x1 ribbing, but it is visually addicting. I was able to knit through a middle school band concert, waiting at the bus depot and lastnight in a darkened theatre room (almost finished painting) so that I didn't even know what colours were mixing. I moved through the rust and back to blues with the second skeins. I don't want to give this one away. But what better way to let someone know they're special?