Monday, December 29, 2014

Lessons Learned

 I walk the dog almost every day. She is old and can't go our 4 miles anymore, but we have farm land at the end of the street and there are lots of other dogs out walking. Some days the clouds are so socked in, you can't even see the mountains. The ground has been super saturated with water and the rain keeps coming.

Then it can be surprisingly sunny with jasmine flowering.

 Emily is home from UVic so that's means cookies
And concerts
 And board games.

 I enjoy Christmas Eve buffet with my family and friends. I make a huge pot of French onion soup and this year it was turkey and ham sandwiches. Turkey requires cranberry chutney!

We had a full on gingerbread house.
Traditional peanut butterscotch squares.
A full buffet of shortbread and butter tarts. The Christmas cake was a bit not up to scratch. Can I blame my new oven?
 And a table full of yummies. The crowd was a bit smaller this year, but I enjoyed visiting with my sister and her family and our new babies.

 Odin is 3 weeks old and relaxed for Great Grandma.
 Rory is almost one and lots of fun.
 D helped by finishing off the salad after he did calls all day.
And on Christmas morning, I had my favourite cookies (oatmeal date) for breakfast.

 My mom made my stocking a few years ago to match the ones I made the kids. This year I will cross stitch one for D because his cant' compare.
 Books and yarn and book ends, oh my. That's Emily in her vertebrae sweater I made her. Need to take a picture to show how well it fits.

I ordered a tree skirt for my MIL from my best friend from nursing school. She did a wonderful job and there was a bit of gushing.

 When all the gifts were done (including a last minute antler hat for D), I was able to focus on my sweet Matchmaker by Martina Behm. Can you say Wollmeise?
 And the socks. This is where the learning curve started. I have well-developed calves and I failed to cast on with a bigger needle. Plus I am not crazy about cuff down. Plus the beautiful hemmed edge is not stretchy. Plus the cable pattern itself, Nutkin, is not stretchy. I guess I like a stretchy sock knit toe up. I ripped out the hem of the first and knit a ribbed cuff up. Lots of fun trying out different bind offs. Still not so happy, but they look mostly alike.

Then, apparently, turning a heel is more than I can manage in the holiday jumble. It took several tries, but I was not going to be beaten! They are in the sock blockers right now and represent the sixth pair I knit this year, meeting my Operation Sock Drawer goal and on time.

 And now for something completely different. This Alpine Frost crocheted scarf will probably show some progress in the future, but it is slow in appearing. I love the tiny stitches and it will be pretty when it's blocked. It may even resemble the Rory Gilmour scarf I have been coveting.
Scott's sweater looked foolishly short when he tried it on. I knit the medium, but used the large size length. It took a bath on Christmas morning and got some serious blocking.

It barely dried before he left on Sunday, but I think he likes it.

I was gifted a wonderful skein of Eco Duo which I shall make into a Zuzu's Petals shawl/cowl. If it turns out, I'll make a similar one for the sister in law who so carefully chose this for me.
And I planted an ivy tree for our front door for next Christmas. I am pleased with the start of it. And look forward to more fun this holiday. From eating terrific left overs, to eating out and having pie with friends. When you have annual traditions, you learn how to make the best of them.
I wish you a safe and happy holiday.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Count Down

I was casting on a sock (again and again) and I realized that I do better with counting down than counting up. I always do the last 10 stitches like a shuttle launch.
 The trumpeter swans are resting in the empty corn fields on their migration south. Many of our friends and neighbours go to Mexico and California. We call them Snowbirds.
 I managed to get a shot of me wearing my Bluets Sauvage Kid Mohair and meriono Prairie Ridge shawl. I am trying to get better at selfies, but that means I have to take more. I bought this wool from the goat herder in Saguenay, Quebec on our cruise in October. It matches my Namaste knitting bag.
 This crazy yarn was so very extra. But I had to grab it. I think it's a one of a kind from Fleece Artist's other line. It was dyed in Nova Scotia, but I bought it in PEI. Really want to go back there.
It quickly turned into a Y Not cowl. I never did block it.
Just threw it on and took a selfie. I wear it lots. Love the colours and the squish of the merino. It's pretty cold here. I may have to cast on another pair of mittens for myself. now that all the Christmas mittens are done.
 That's right. Paw's ginormous thrummed mittens are finally finished. The yarn is Cottage Craft from Nova Scotia (another souvenir skein). I gave up the idea of felting for him because they would have to start out so big! These are each the size of a baby sweater as it is. I hope he wears them when he's up at my sister's ranch.
 Tis the season for butter tarts. Check. This morning I am making my favourite from my Grandmother, Anna Sarah Friesen's recipes: Oatmeal cookies with date filling. She baked and cooked for 9 kids and I learned a lot about simple foods and generous helpings when I spent my after school time practicing piano at her farm just a few doors down.
 Scott was home for a Christmas party last weekend and we took a trip to Harrison Hot Springs, about 40 minutes north toward the Fraser River. It's a huge lake. I was reminded of it when we visited the Lake District in England. My sister has a cabin there, but I haven't been for years. We bought some treats at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for gifts.

 This poor sock. The November sock is finished, but I had to take out the fancy hemmed top and put in a loose rib because I should not forget how muscular my calves are. I also did the toe twice. Hmmm.

The second one is on the needles but not getting a lot of love. I have the Matchmaker cowl now underway with my cherished skein of Wollmeise, a crochet scarf of tiny stitches (and tiny progress) and I took my needlepoint to the knit party to celebrate the end of Christmas knitting.

 We swapped skeins. I was gifted another skein of Nirvana that will help me make my crochet scarf big enough and still have yarn for a picot edge.
 Our dear sweet Carly is not walking very well. Her hips are letting her down. We hope we can keep her comfortable and give her lots of love while the family is home this Christmas.
 And still we work toward hope. The Amaryllis is finally peeking up. I'll bet the one I gave to Hospice is a lot further along.
 Here's me getting ready to go to choir. The Women's Chorus is singing with the Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra this weekend. Total Christmas fun. These are the things I am counting on for our traditions. The Pageant was a huge success with lots of little angels and shepherds. The youth group were great Magi and everyone was super. Some of the moms cried- bonus points.

And Emily is home, which means super baking and crafts. She has no fear. We will be doing lots of clean up in this count down to Christmas.
We hope for you a warm Christmas of many blessings.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Cheery Ho Ho Ho

 After being hauled to the carpet by a chest cold, I have been able to start catching up on fun things.
 We  had D's favourite beef roll ups, in which I just use a basic biscuit recipe with butter, roast beef leftovers and salt and pepper,
 And make some pretty awesome comfort food.
 There was a craft crawl in Greendale, the next farming neighbourhood. I love the hand made soaps, my favourite potter and this year, the vinegar and herb farm.
My big sister invited me to Hycroft House in Vancouver for another, fancier craft fair, and I was so happy to be able to go for the first time.
 The heritage house is maintained by the University Women's Club. They gave me a bursary when I graduated from Sardis Secondary School.

 After quite a bit of fussing, the Monster mitts are finished for my daughter's boyfriend. I ended up cutting the colours to make them short enough. Not as advertised. I don't knit a lot of stripes. But the Must Stash yarn is beautiful and I think he'll like them.
 I made ginger snaps for an information evening at our church about our town's first youth shelter. There were enough left over for the ladies to serve them at coffee time after church. D really likes them and I hid some in the freezer for when the kids come home.
 Walking around the neighbourhood, I am noticing changes. Most of the leaves have gone. There has been some standing water because of heavy rains (even for us) and the Christmas lights are coming out to cheer up the grey skies.
 My last Christmas knit is mittens for my Paw. You can see why I am futzing a little. His had is so large.
 Buttons finally were placed on the Slade sweater. I hope he likes it. There are no details or colour or anything that would make it fun to knit.
 I made mini banana breads for the Country Kitchen and Santa Breakfast, but I was busy with the Youth Group, serving at the soup kitchen down town. They were super and we were treated well.
 I made a bracelet with the leftovers from Emily's first yarn dying. Just some glue and a bangle.
 Of course there was shortbread. Only six batches this year, but I am ready to make more if we run out.
 One of our traditions is a sisters' lunch. We have been going 90 minutes to Merritt over the Coquihalla Highway. My oldest sister drives, so I get to knit. The Lenore socks are actually coming along. Just another inch or so before the first toe. That would be the November sock. But when the Christmas knitting is done, I will still have more year.
 One of my sister's brings her friend, who got kicked by a horse and broke her leg in two places. I was fascinated by the corks on the end of her crutches. We never had that when I worked ortho.
 The Brambles Bakery was awesome and the decorations were delightful.
 D produced a big Celtic Connection concert for the pipe bands. It sold out and was exhausting. I drummed for my band and the C&D that I used to drum with. Also did a guitar/voice solo that was very well received. After that we went to the city for a few days break.
 A few of the treats we got at the big book store. I was also able to pick up some make up and hand creams, etc that I can't get at home.
 From the 29th floor, we can see St. Andrew's United Church and the North Shore mountains.
 I have never been to Dressew before, a Vancouver icon. There were 3 walls of zippers! Lots of fabric and stuff to make costumes. I bought some notions at crazy good prices.
 We had coffee with my eldest nephew. He fixes computers and his shop has a great assortment of old technology.
 Friday was Food Bank and Open House at CBC. We are Radio One geeks, so we really enjoyed it.
 A great treat is the sausage and egg biscuit at Tim Horton's. D was tickled by the knitting on my coffee cup (half hot chocolate).
 Then I pulled out my coffee cozy, for real knitting on my coffee cup.
 On the Saturday, it was pelting rain. I was lucky to stop at Three Bags Full on the way home. It is a small and carefully curated shop with very friendly people.
 I missed the Knitty City event while I was travelling. It was really big this year. So I was catching up a little.
 Bought some eye searing yellow yarn for a hat. Don't run over me while I'm walking the dog.
And now we have some mulling spices for cozy afternoons when, like today, there is a storm warning. The tree is up and lit and waiting for ornaments. I have more baking to do, but I am happy to be on track and practicing the Pageant with the kiddies and Christmas music with my church choir as well as the Chilliwack Women's Chorus. Looking forward to singing with the Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra.
Now for some tea and knitting. Hope you get some too.