Monday, March 26, 2012


 D and I hosted a Fiesta lunch to fund raise for our Mission Trip to Mexico with Project Help Mexico. We are leaving the Wednesday before Easter for the whole weekend and meeting up with some Calgary friends to build a dormitory onto a foster home that D helped build last year. Our high school sent a team for many years, but with the job action/strike it is not possible.
We planned for 75 guests for right after church.
 I made a six times batch of corn bread to go with D's famous vegetarian chilli. Also a 5 times batch of brownies and carrot and celery sticks.
Saturday, after work, we set up the hall and had a bit of fiesta doing that. There were about 60 people and we surpassed our fundraising goals. We are blessed to have the support of our church. Maybe next time we can get a real team to come out.
This weekend I go to Ucluelet, near Tofino with three knitters for my first ladies' weekend. We are taking some of the chili.
I will be knitting on the Dahlia. The right front is done and I have picked up for the left. But I had to knit my Knit Girllls Afghan Square for the swap (it's blocking) and cast on the Kippah.
I started the Kippah last week, but couldn't manage the brioche increases in two colours in the round on night shift brain. I couldn't keep track of what row I was on and couldn't tink back in the brioche. It went better this morning.
So floors are clean, laundry done, dog walked. I'm off to town to copy letters for our Green Heart Warm Heart scarf initiative and continue my to do list fiesta.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It Only Takes One

I worked last night because we had a staffing problem. My first night shift in 8 months. Luckily the nurse I was working with was patient enough to help me with all the charts and medication checks for the morning. When I come on a day shift, the medication schedule sheets and the medications are ready for me and I can trust that they have been checked against the doctor's orders. It makes things go much more smoothly. I have never done that at this hospice. It took me till 0330! The other nurse was done tickety boo, but if I'm signing my name, I need to know it was properly checked and it took me forever to find the info.
Then I slept. The first day of spring and I slept through sleet and wind and darkness. There was about an hour of sunshine that I enjoyed when I woke up around 1 pm. Then it was dark again.
But the promise of spring is lurking in the garden. We can hear the small birds and smell the wet grass.
And my magnolia tree has a bloom.
It only takes one bloom to bring hope to a new season.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fibres West

What a great time we had this morning in Abbotsford at Fibres West. I have gone for 5 years now, I think. I love to see it grow and change. This year there was a real shift to fibre and spinning. You could easily walk out with a Sidekick Wheel, but I'm not ready yet. Caroline Sommerfeld was there and I really think she is the most amazing spinning teacher, and her booth was filled with gorgeous colours from her Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts. She is leading the vanguard on supported spindles and has a beautiful scholarly publication on the technique and history of supported spindles.

We started at sweet georgia, looking forward to her moving sale. She is just as sweet and her colours are just as vibrant, but the sale was a bit thin. Still, I bought this teal for a swap.
Couldn't leave this superwash chunky. Probably will be a hat for D.
And this is a poor representation of trinity lace in glacier. It is really a deeper turquoise. There is enough to make a featherweight or something like it. My last attempt ended up in frogging a camo jacket. This is a rich, almost solid.
Knitopia is a special shop that is now back in White Rock. Lynne was there and helped me choose this grey-green shiny silk and merino worsted. I would love to make it into Sivia Harding's Harmonias Ring sweater. I fell for it hard. Not my usual colour, but complements my bright aquas.
The real treat was Valley Yarns! I remember meeting Julie at the first Fibres West that I attended. She floored me with her careful selection and soon after I was ordering Noro and other special yarns in the colours and amounts that I really wanted. Her customer service is awesome and delivery was quick. Great yarns aren't as far away as I sometimes feel.
Last year I bought some Shi Bui from her (which I haven't knit up yet). Again, we hit her booth last and had spent a few sheckles. Still, the selection of Hand Maiden and Malabrigo and Madeline Tosh was beyond any store I've ever been in. Next year we must go there first. Her prices are more than fair and I couldn't walk away without some yarn to mop up my drools. The Casbah actually reads more as a black. I'm going to crochet a yarmulka for a hostess gift this summer.
I needed help choosing these two malabrigos. My pattern calls for Noro Silk Garden, but these are truly gorgeous and still pretty manly for a kippa hat. When I got home, I saw this was the same Rios that I used for the trim on my brown Moody Kerchief. I must really have an affinity for this colour. Well done, Valley Yarns!
One of the great things was bumping into other knitters who should be strangers but become instant friends- thanks for saying hi from North Van! We fondled and marvelled at one another's choices and went through the choices of patterns for the new stash and what yarn and patterns went into the shawls we were wearing. Such a friendly tribe. Even when it was busy and crowded, we were laughing and chatting and agreeing that knitters are great people!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Cup of Comfort

I went to work this morning. It was a bit of a stretch with my cold, but I don't think I'm shedding virus anymore and I get to rest tomorrow. I'm in that transition time after my shower, before the troops come home to be fed and watered. Thank goodness I have my cup of tea.

Last night I picked up the Dahlia. I had ripped her back because I had some terrible "rowing out". I don't know if my  purl back was tight or loose, but I had been worried about my gauge, and I tried to manipulate it. Many bloggers have written about changing needles, or even yarn before you try to "knit differently". They're all correct. I now know I'm knitting the right size, so just knit to the 13 inch mark and make nice fabric. In music, I had an instructor who once said "piano" (play softly) means make a beautiful sound. Too often, especially in flute, you get a strangled whisper. Blow as quietly as possible while still getting a lovely sound. Sound advice.

I'm doing a 12 projects in 2012 in the Knit Bits Forum on and it's challenging my priority setting process. Apparently I have a short attention span and a very long queue. But I think it's a good idea to remember what was important to keep in mind what was important at the beginning of the year. 

So Dahlia gets knit on before I start another sweater, or even pick up my true UFO (unfinished object), my Philosopher's Wool fair isle sweater. I drove in a rain storm to a sewing fair to get this kit. It was important enough to save up for and even to make the sleeves. But I have angst about sizing and have been paralyzed. Now I have my Cassidy sweater that fits so well (except it's 2-3 inches short) to measure against. That will give me courage.

What I really need is courage and comfort. It's raining right now and I just want to disappear in a SciFi show and knit. But I have music to practice and dinner to heat up (made a roast yesterday for that purpose). I am proud that I was able to do my work today, but I was a bit behind and now I'm done in. Tonight is a quiet night in with D and Dahlia.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Coming Around

 On Wednesday I was feeling so poorly that I couldn't knit on the lace Qiviuk scarf, despite the great set up of rows on cards. So I picked up the dog cushion cover that I'm knitting out of Lion Brand Homespun. I heard Miss Kalendar of Brass Needles podcast say that she liked this yarn in crochet and that was all it took. As a moderate yarn snob, I am not drawn to acrylics, but only the best (machine wash) for my doggie. Her pillow is green and doesn't go in our home, especially since I had the big chair recovered. It looks like two skeins are enough for each side. One side is black and the other charcoal- sneaky camouflage for the buckets of black dog hair that make up our "dust puppies".
This is based on a hexagon crochet pattern, and I can see how the lovely afghan squares can be addictive.
 One of my 12 in 2012 projects is a mitten banner for Christmas. But I was already behind my 2 mittens a month. I adapted a small pattern that I felt was way too small. But my first one was even too small for my image of hanging 24 on a cord in the dining room. I did bring up my leftover red and ivory sock yarns and place them in a basket with the pattern and needles (step one). But beginning time is an investment and you have to be prepared to fail a bit. This is a bitty fail, but will stay in the set.
 The second one is the right size and I made lots of notes. I will post them after I check them with a third and fourth (and 24th) mitten. Yay for starting.
 I also picked up the Knit A Long (KAL) Mittens For Me from Laura Linneman (Lala) of the Knit Girllls video podcast. I put the stranding on the inside because it just wasn't working for me. I made the smaller size but got a bigger mitten because this electrictree yarn is very squooshy. The second thumb increases are done and I'm working on the hand, but now it's hurting my hand, so I'll probably crochet a bit today. I was down to the last 6 inches on the halved ball of green yarn. Now I get to fuss that I won't have enough for the thumb. I'll do colour work if I must. These will probably become a Christmas present, so if they're for you, act surprised.
And I did finish the Qiviuk (15% qiviuk, 80%merino, 5% mulberry silk) Seafoam scarf. It is lofty and drapey and I'm so glad I chose the pie crust edging. This definitely matches the image I had in my mind. Plus it's ready in time for St. Patrick's Day. My family has Irish roots and I gave my last green scarf to the cowboy sister when she took my daughter for spring break a few years ago (Malabrigo don't you know).
I'm really sorry to miss choir practices and being with my friends.
So I'm coming around to almost healthy enough to go to work on Wednesday, and I'm knitting and crocheting around and around.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Mission in the Desert

In the desert there is a light. From 1687 when the Jesuit priest Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived to visit the O'odham village of Wa:k, the site was christened San Xavier del Bac. It is between our Aunt's home in GreenValley and Tucson. And it is a special place.
Recently restored at great cost and great effort over many years, the white is pristine, the sculptures are crisp and the paintings inside, originally made by the local artists, are bright and stunning.
There is a memorial chapel next to the main building with beautiful bells. Also an active school and a community of worshipers who also run the museum and allow visitors into the sanctuary to ooh and aah, take pictures and even to stop and pray.
Every surface is ornamented with a saint or a tableau telling a story. The art runs the gamut of naiive to gilded and sophisticated. Some of the symbolism is lost on this Protestant girl, but I was taken by the brilliant use of light, the reverence of space and the continued effort to maintain a house of worship. There are architects notes and videos of the restoration here. But there is also a lively community raising children and sharing potlucks and mass.
I loved this visit. Climbing the pilgrims hill next to the chapel, reading the proud history of the mission and the building, and especially the warm and gracious welcome we were given, regardless of who we are. I hope to go back some day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Crochet Shadow

I am drawn to blogs like attic 24 and completely cauchy because the art of the crafter comes through in everything they do.
But I have had an aversion to crochet.
When I was growing up, my mom, my nanny and my sisters and I knit. Knitting was proper. We made scarves and doll clothes and baby things. Once in a while someone would undertake a sweater. I made miles of orange garter for a blanket. There were needles and books and yarn lying around like Bronte novels.
But my paternal grandmother was a crocheter who fancied especially scratchy and livid yarns. We were saddled with slippers that cut our feet and afghans that could be seen in the dark and were too dense to mop up spilt tea.
I did learn to make irish doilies from the craft encyclopedias Mom bought us. I did start a tablecloth on our honeymoon but gave it away when my hand was hurt in a riding accident.
My family was an early adopter of the "Little House On the Prairie" look that diverged from the hip and garish look of the 70's.
So when I drool over Chawne's bold use of stripes or Lucy's riot of happy colour, I am torn from my classic monochromatic, maybe blue comfort zone.
Lately I have been adding colourful accents to my rooms to add a touch of light heartedness.
I have also been crocheting. This colourful crayon granny square blanket is hiding in the basement.
I have one blanket in 3 undyed shades of alpaca,

 and a giant hexagon of black and grey for the dog cushion,

 but I have been dreaming in colour. Slowly I am stepping out from the crochet shadow of the past.
If you follow me on Ravelry, you may have noticed the recent "favouriting" of the afghan patterns that are hot right now. They are especially gorgeous in the new exotic yarns. I cringe a bit when I see them done to my grandmother's satisfaction.
But in the crochet pages, Japanese sensibility mixes with German ingenuity. You must see Rosa P.
I am so happy to have been admitted into this new design world where the ideas and photos are as brilliant as the knitters'.
I am on the verge on no longer apologizing for my crochet. I can make things without a pattern. Because the new blogs and tutorials are so good, I'm actually doing it correctly. I tried to offer a crochet class at our LYS because I would like to spend more time there and have much to offer, but there was little feed back. But now I have all the teaching materials and could help others freely.
Growing up, we sewed and glued and drew and painted. I was about 4 when my mom decided we would make Mrs. Dixon, our babysitter (nanny) a beaded curtain from rolled magazine sheets. I still remember the smell of turpentine. Each sister had a creative stamp from restrained elegance, to Van Gogh colour bravery, to diminutive detail. I was just the caboose, taking it all in and copying until I found my own sea legs.
And I was the writer.
Today I am quarantined as I try to shake the sore throat and keep it from infesting my lungs. I feel blessed to have had such a tumultuous up bringing. I seek out more mentors, and I can use my writing to play with my crafting and exploration of a colourful world.

Monday, March 05, 2012

March Enters Like a Lion

Our trip back to the Pacific Rainforest was uneventful. But the weather at home has been very rainy and windy. Our river is full to its banks, planters are blown over and I'm wearing several layers of hand knits to combat the damp cold.

In Tucson it was clear and sunny. I took tons of photos. We drove across the entire state (at least twice) and then to Palm Springs. Whew! There was knitting. The Qiviut scarf is more than half finished. It was the right size to carry, the right length of row to pick up and put down, and, with the cards, the right lace to keep me involved, but not making huge mistakes.

The only things that spoke "February" were the pecan groves. Barren of leaves and being trimmed and tidied, they reminded us that the 75-80 degrees and blue skies were only on loan.
We loved the saguaro cacti! Whole forests of them. They are amazingly old and were probably standing when this wild west country was settled.
At the Museum of the Desert we met a great horned owl. She flew across our path several times as she followed the path of her trainers.
And a charming little road runner who wanted to jump and climb as well as speed away.

We didn't miss the rain. But it welcomed us back anyway.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Radio Silence

D and I have been playing in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, tracking stars, dining with family and finally relaxing in Palm Desert. We fly home tomorrow after dinner with his parents tonight.
Looking forward to seeing our grown daughter who has been on her own, and celebrating my Paw's birthday with a show, Riverdance.
The Qiviuk has been a good travel companions, especially as some of that desert looks a lot like dirt.
I'll post some pictures of the San Xavier Mission and the Portal Sky Village when I get to download them.
Thanks for your comments and for posting such interesting blogs for when I have wifi.
Adios y hola.

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Location:California 111,Rancho Mirage,United States