Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Acre, Another Celebration

Noodle Pie gave me this precious angel along with a marvelous plain, large journal. She bought them at the Art Gallery in November. I think I'll put it in my little car.
Our decorations were more sparse this year, but they still make me smile. We had a rather grown up Christmas. In a few weeks my kids will be 15 and 17.
This is one of the few things I have from my Grandmother Annie. She's in a home in the next town because one of her daughters (who lives in Saskatchewan) insisted it would be best. No one is nice the quiet shy lady there. I hope to visit her this year a bit more regularly.
We had another big in-law Christmas yesterday. Again it was rather grown up because the little kids were in the other room and our big kids looked after them.
There was a drama involving control of the menu. But the SIL in whose house we gathered was fearless and kind. I doubt the MIL has learned anything, but everyone ate too much, so there was no collateral damage.

I finished the front of the baseball sweater. It was rather quick and easy. Then I wrangled the cable on the sleeve. Sorry, Cary Lantz, but I have very specific cable esthetics. The one she chose over 9 stitches had all three crossing in a single row causing a ruffling and a huge bump that just turned me off.

A good excuse for looking through my Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by the most wonderful Barbara Walker. But I found a simple plait in the Vogue Knitting Book. I always return to classics. I may not be adventurous, but I know what I like. And I feel that sweaters for men must be simple and understated. At least for the men in my life.
There's a chance I can finish this sweater before I begin classes on January 15. It's not by goal, but would be a bonus. I have my druthers about the fit. Nephew #3 has grown a bit bigger lately. This is the pattern I chose for nephew #4 and I think he still may receive it. His birthday is in September. I still have time to make the big brother a bigger sweater for May. I'll just roll with it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Catching Up

I know I'm cheating with three posts in a row, but I wanted to keep the format, and I wanted to share with you all the excitement of the season.
My sister on Saltspring Island sent beautiful millspun, undyed wool. I'm going to try to estimate it's yardage using the wraps per inch method. I'm thinking a scarf or mitts, maybe. That's a blow torch (!!!) from my mom in a creme brulee basket of goodies.

My MIL gave me a marvelous casserole and it is shown modelling the bracelet that my two kids shopped for and bought together for me. It is a new charm bracelet with beads. I love it.
Boxing Day means wool sale in Chilliwack. I didn't join my friend and her guest in town at my LYS. I'm trying to finish my book. It has been a tradition of mine to read an entire book on Boxing Day while the house is full of food and the toys are still new. I have had to relax that need in the past few years. I just try to read as much as I can. I have 50 pages left on the last of the Golden Compass, the Amber Spyglass. I was able to read some in the Dr's office today. I got a booster for my vaccinations to return to Nursing. I am registered and paid up. I still need to drive to Surrey (1 1/2 hours west toward Vancouver, but this side of the Fraser River) to buy my $1,000.00 of books. Ouch.

In the name of saving money, I shopped the 40% off sale.

We have greens in butterfly cotton for a baby blanket for a cousin. Ivory and black Cascade 220 for a baby sweater for our trumpet teacher and her husband, the principal of the Chilliwack Academy of Music (they are so sweet!) and some ribbon for a scarf for my flute teacher. She's a bit outrageous and loves to paw through my knitting every lesson. The babies are all due in June (there's a third).

Finally, pour moi, blue/green heather Cascade 220. Enough for a Moriah or some similar cabled cardigan. This will not be knit in a hurry, but it will not be knit at full price either. Aunt Debbie's Knit and Stitch in Vedder is the Canadian distributer of Cascade. Her prices have improved, the selection is usually good. But I worked there one Christmas and I was not impressed with her ability to plan and order and look after customers. Things are improving, but I once waited an entire year for an order! Still, plenty of stash to start the year.

Hope you were blessed with wool and time to knit.

Good Cheer

Christmas was quiet this year.
Christmas Eve was my lunch for my sisters and nephews. My Mom and Paw were in Kamloops. We still had a houseful and they loved the French Onion Soup.
In the evening we went to church where Noodle Pie sang a solo in the choir, I accompanied on flute and sang, D sang and played his trumpet and Mr. Boo rang the bell. It was a beautiful service of carols and readinings.

We had crepes and omelettes for breakfast on Christmas morning with just us. Carly got her own duck.

We had some very nice gifts. This is from a dear friend thanking us for our music.
D like his alpaca toque and admitted to being jelous of all the knitting I do for others and strangers. I knew.
MIL baked and cooked up a storm. SIL and I tried to help, but to no avail. The boys reverted to beer, poker and dirty jokes, the kids were plugged into the bountiful video games, so SIL and I visited. I brought my knitting- a real saving for me.
Don't squeal too loudly at this block of stocking stitch. I am pleased to have finished the back and part of the front of this mens' large baseball sweater from knitty. I'm half-done the front. I knit in the car, in the dark on the windy highway. I knit during Alistair Sim's rendition of A Christmas Carol, during a long Christmas afternoon and even while waiting for the kids to wake up on Boxing Day.

My favourite gift is this Tom Bihn knitting bag as seen in the reviews on knitty. D even ordered the same colour and all the little bags and gadgets. It's even working as a purse while it carries a sock and the navy stst acreage. He also put the 25 year Vogue book in my stocking. Yay. You can see they are making themselves at home in my chair.

There and Back Again

On Friday we drove to Kamloops to my sister's new ranch. The morning was beautiful in our back yard.
The Coquihalla Highway was built about 20 years ago and utilized a pass that cuts off about 3 hours from the drive. It is a toll highway (still, though it's long been paid). This is less than an hour east of us.
We took highway 5A through the beautiful Quilchena and drove along the river, through Douglas Ranch (the largest in BC) and Stump Lake Ranch.
These are her Canadian Champion Papillon dogs, Cherie and Peppy. They are very happy on their new land. My sister is happy, her husband is happy to no longer be milking cows on his "little Ireland" farm. My mom is happy visiting and my dad is happy fencing and settting up the shop. They stayed for Christmas.

This is the tree she cut down from the Stump Lake Ranch during a tree cutting party with her friendly and very nice new neighbours.

It started to snow just before we left and my sisters and their husbands (and especially my mom) wanted us to stay. But we had planned to only travel for the day. D wanted to go at all, which surprised me. So I said no, and we drove back. The first leg was a bit dicey to Merrit. It too 1 1/2 hours but after that, the road report of packed ice and slippery patches was true and we made it home, by the light of an almost full moon, safe and sound.

It was so strange to be pulled home- away from my family.

We woke up the next day to snow of our own. We would have had a terrible time on the highway that morning in our little civic. We enjoyed a snow day of reading and eating baking.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hey Dude, Where's My Week?

This was supposed to be the easy week. The pageant and concerts are done. I just had a flute recital and the book club lunch.
But Mom wanted to come over before they left for Kamloops (eventhough we'll see them there tomorrow) and I ended up cleaning house, grocery shopping and cooking a more substantial meal than I normally would on a Wednesday night. We also cancelled pipe band and skating.
I've been walking the dog and even made it to the gym.
The clay baker has worked overtime with two back to back free range hens. Yummy! I needed more than one chicken to feed 6 people and I needed chicken for the book club Waldorf salad. As well, I made extra broth for the Christmas Eve French Onion Soup.
Book Club was awesome. My friend brought a wonderful parsnip soup to go with the salad and we had Triple J's organic cranberry and apple juice from just down the street. All 6 books were chosen for the year as well- our first time to be so pro-active. And I think another friend will join us to make 5.
I'm excited, eventhough I'll have some trouble fitting it in with Nursing study. This is going to be a big year.
I finished buttoning the EZ tomten jacket and chose to make loops instead of using snaps.
I so enjoy having a cable sweater and a pair of socks on the needles. It feels like zeroing out in my calibration. The attraction of opposites. You probably understand how to balance your projects.
When I was upgrading for nursing school, I was still in the Reserve Forces Medical Corps. We were on alert to take over in case of a general strike (BC politics is a clown show). I couldn't decied whether to take my ballet slippers or my basket ball runners. I'm still like that. I don't rule things out just because their new or different. I am my own set of contradictions.
I have a whole day left in this week and it will be spent in travel. Whew. I feel as if I'm on a big wave that's headed for... what? Hopefully some good choir and flute at Christmas and then lots of family.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Planet Gauge

I made it through the concerts. One on Friday night and another on Sunday afternoon (between teaching Sunday School and directing the Pageant). This is a blurry shot of a very nice senior's choir singing with a grade 4-6 choir. Very Christmassy. I wish I had had more time to prepare my flute accompaniment, but it was nice to be included and appreciated. With flowers!
On Saturday morning, my daughter's skating leadership group hosted a Santa Skate. There were tons of little ones and Santa and a bake sale and the usual freezing rink madness.
She did a Mickey in the theme of the "much anticipated" skating carnival.
I managed to hunker down and finish the silly dog sweater. They really like it and have promised me a picture of Stella in her finery.
I don't know what planet I was on when I cast on the Anniversary Sweater (knitty) a few weeks ago. I made sure I was ready to jump in on Sunday night and it was twice as big as I expected. The gauge was all off!!!
So I reswatched (in pattern, I prefer to set gauge in st st). And I reknit and I reswatched and couldn't get gauge.
Finally, I chose the gauge I liked for the springy navy phildar and went looking for a pattern in that gauge. Bass ackwards. But I will be spending quite a bit of time with this project and I don't want to fear the ghost of swatches past.
I chose Baseball (also knitty). I had planned to make it for the next nephew, but I think it's what this yarn wants to be. I usually don't like large swaths of st st, but for Christmas, it could twine my head together.
I also started and LOVE the jaywalkers. Who knew two rows could make such an excellent pattern? Well, everyone, but me. I'm always the last on a trend. But this is a good one.
I hope I have figured out the navy sweater. The relaxing break is not as useful if there is sighing and cursing. I would like the gauge fairy to revisit my knitting bag and make it work again.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Can She Make It?

This is a short post because I must return to the festivities.
That is some of the mauve mohair dog sweater I am knitting for my neighbour's grand-dog. I don't like dogs in sweaters and I think they should wait for a real kid. But I love my neighbour and Stella, the black pug is a delight. I'm usure about fit. I've never made one before. The pattern is from Fall 2006 Knitscene (yes the one with the Central Park Hoodie) and I'm trusting the pattern. But not enough to knit in garter stitch stripes. I figured the ribbing will offer better fit. The problem is that it could not fit really badly. We'll see.

My sisters came for our annual lunch (one was snowed in) and we feasted on chicken pie and goodies. It was so good to see them without any distractions. We each brought a gift. This one is from the sister who couldn't come. She made the wrapping paper and inside...Hand made homespund mittens. Squee!! They are so soft and great for reading at the rink.

Lastnight was the Middle School Band concert. The music was great. I was swamped with organizing a silent auction. The local businesses donated great prizes and I even came away with a few, oh pictures.

D. and I went to a Christmas brunch, the first time in several years we could accept the invitation. We stopped at Costco, but I had already scooped some good items at MTF which sells off their rejects. I have done Christmas shopping and even have some January/February birthdays looked after. Then D. bought snow tires for my car. That was so sweet of him and now we can travel the Coquihalla Highway to see my sister in her new ranch. The open house is next Friday.

But right now I have to get back to my flute practice. I accompany a multicultural seniors and kiddies choir tonight and on Sunday (between teaching and the pageant). Whew!

I will be so happy when this weekend is over and I only need to wrap gifts.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Seven Dozen Buttertarts

That sounds like a chorus in the 12 Days of Christmas. I'm happy to be marking things off my list.

All the gifts are bought. We were in Vancouver on Friday night and Saturday (sorry no pictures) and I found some books for the kids. I also stood in line at Lee Valley tools forever to get Uncle Jack a gift certificate. We draw for names in D's family and I've already had his name a few times. I have already knit for him. He does wear his Lopi sweater, though. He taught wood work at a highschool and can pick out something for himself.

We ate at the Sandbar on Granville Island. Such a Vancouver mix of good design and casual approach. The seafood was influenced from all over the world and we had a great visit. It is a special friendship that can survive so many years with just an annual visit.

My friend is getting back to knitting because she has quit her job to stay home with their 3 year old. Her last project, 9 or 10 years ago, was a sweater for her very tall husband. It was stolen out of her car!

We went to Urban Yarns and I set her up with some Cascade 220 and Ann Budd's book, the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. I think this is a good step to success. First a vest for her son.

I also got some Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran. It is the perfect colour to make my mom some hotel socks. My bestfriend has the pattern right now, so I'll get the specs. I probably have until February, Mom's birthday.

In our travels, I ate something that didn't agree with me. It was a long night. But this morning we had a run through of the Christmas Pageant and I now have the confidence that I have chosen the right one. The Youth Group are going to have to do a bit more, but the little Sunday School kids have their parts down. That's for next Sunday night. By then I will have finished my baking, wrapped many of the gifts and performed flute with the Harrison Hot Springs Multicultural Choir.

Maybe I'll be able to sit back and finish reading Moby Dick and get started on another knitting project.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Trying to Pay

Who wants handmade gifties? I still haven't had comments for three handmade specially crafted treats.

If you are interested, the request is that you comment and then post on your own blog the same challenge. The first three commenters qualify. We will have 365 days to make and send the items. Think about joining Pay It Forward.

I'm off to Vancouver for our annual shopping visit with friends from UBC. I'm a bit nervous about leaving the kids alone overnight for the first time, but Grandma is right down the street and we have great neighbours (on one side).

We hope to do a bit of shopping tomorrow.

Today is pre-empted by another funeral. So sad. One of our

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Early Treats

Thanks to Angie at for the yummy treat of yarn which I won in her bloggiversary contest. My first win.

Cooling their little tails behind the yarn is a double batch of "White Mice" or "Mexican Wedding Cakes".

I remember making these with my three big sisters when I was even very small. They would let me shape the small balls and sometimes let me dip them in the icing sugar after they were baked. I'm afraid mine are a bit large, not quite rats or guinea pigs, but my family will all remark on how I can't make anything small or in small batches. Here's an early treat for you:

White Mice

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup shortening - cream together

1/3 cup brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla - mix in

2 cups flour

3/4 cup chopped nuts- add and mix

Roll into balls. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 10 minutes.

While still warm, roll in icing sugar.

There will be none left on Christmas Eve as documented in the poem,
"Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

Here are my red amaryllis. I usually plant bulbs on November 1st, but the last few years have been disappointing. We went away in January and the blooms were late, so my mom got the blossoms. She also got a beautiful silk plant from me. So this year I have my own faux loveliness. It goes nicely with the white pointsettia in the pot on the mantle. Oh yah, the tree is fake too. But the knitting time I earn from not tending disposable living plants is real!

The Tomten jacket is down to the sleeves. I like knitting in bite sized bits. The front and back were a bit of a slog- plain garter stitche is not my favourite. But each module is small and measurable and quickly knit. It's like finishing several projects and then not sewing them up. Yay. This would look stunning in a more interesting wool. But I inherited this Beehive Astra and I'm making a sweater for that lady's great grand-child. My first great-niece or nephew.

I just keep thinking about those beautiful Italian baby sweaters I have seen in pastels with incredibly simple garter stitch. I do adore those. This would fit in there. I also bought really cool tractor buttons because their family sold the farm in September, so baby may not know cows or tractors, just as mine don't.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow Knitting

I'm glad I put out seed and suet for the little birdies. I saw a goldfinch, but this is an Oregon Junco. The snow was so bad on the way home from church that I was sure our evening concert would be cancelled.
No such luck. We ended up walking to the church in the pelting ice. The concert was warm and wonderful.
Somehow Noodle had 3 girls come over for sugar cookie cooking in the afternoon. They decimated my kitchen and I hid in the basement, knitting and watching The Four Feathers. A great video.

I hate storms. Growing up on the farm, there was so much extra work. Driving big trucks in the Medical Corps was a lot of responsibility for me. I was the one who had to get through. Then training for Nursing in Calgary was often difficult. It took me quite a while to get the right clothes. I would use the tunnel underground to go from the residence to the hospital. I would use Siberia as my return address. Parts of Dr. Zhivago were filmed in Canmore.
I did get some knitting done. This is the squiggles shawl from Magknits made into a scarf for my lovely flute teacher. I can't tell you how happy I am to get it off the needles. I did not enjoy this strange large needle/ fluffly wool/ side to side knitting. Carly is modelling it here. Everyone is at school or work, so I was able to clean the floors. I'll go out driving for afterschool pick up and delivery.

The heavy, warm rains have come to wash away the snow and threaten flooding. We call it a pineapple express.

Today I hope to cast on some (less than exciting for pictures) navy swatches for another nephew sweater. I enjoy traditional knitting.