Friday, February 26, 2016

Try Something New

 At coffee last week, my friend served monkey bread, a sweet bun with snips of bread roll in cinnamon and sugar. She told me where I could source the frozen bread roll, so I bought some on my way home and made a garlic parmesan version for dinner. Comfort food in the midst of winter.
 The skies have been alternately singing spring, or drizzling grey. February hasn't been as dreary as some years, but I have armed myself with distractions. The walking, hiking and swimming are probably the best things. I make sure I visit with at least one live person per day (in addition to DH). I'm cleaning house and decluttering and a veritable tornado of change.
 On my long walk, I took a different route and enjoyed all the gardens I used to be familiar with.
 There were classes and craftsy classes. I took some leftover t-shirt and jersey fabric and made strips for crocheting a mat. This idea has been in my head for a long time, but Cal Patch is a great teacher and I just up and did it. Actually, I did it twice because the first mat was even more wonky. It takes a very short time, about a day. But the large motions do stress my hands.
 I'm happy I stepped out and picked up 2 m of navy for a pittance to make a border. This will probably be a gift.
 The first daffodil is out. Unlike the groundhog, she loves her shadow and will soon be joined by friends.
 This is the problem stash. No complete skeins, no labels, some to rustic for hats or cowl. Too much to throw out, but not enough to plan something with. Plus it's all leftover from lovely projects.

Enter some more crochet. The colour block basket was the first idea, a free pattern on Ravelry that I think I found on Pinterest. This girl does not waste any time! The basket and two trivets equal 1 kg of worsted (held 6 together like the Garter Squish Blanket). Right away, I think the basket is too nice for me to keep, so I filled it with yarn and now it's used, so it can't be a gift. Three bins are empty. Plus a large bag is going to a friend for her neighbour to make afghans for charity. So glad I popped into the knitting circle for the first time since the summer.
I haven't been buying knitting magazines, but I read a review of the new Interweave and was intrigued. Bonus, classes on short row shaping in a trivet project. I love trying something new in a bite sized attempt. I'm also trying to use up this kitchen cotton, odds and sods, some from D's Grandma. I really love the dishcloths I made for my kitchen after Xmas. Here is another one in a new shape.

The promise of something new does not always end up with success. But with the right attitude and the right materials, you can give yourself a better chance. Plus I am not such a perfectionist. I delight in the character of something that shows it has been made with love by human hands. I wonder what new thing I will try next?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Walk Toward the Light

 It has been very February here this week. Lots of rain, short days, short tempers. My friends ask about symptoms of soreness and allergy. Only about a month before we are surrounded by spring flowers. Keep busy, make connections with each other and get some stuff done while you're a bit housebound.
 Enjoyed a Fish Lips Kiss party to make our templates and push past the math. Next we will cast on some socks to try this heel. I bought the pattern years ago, but was daunted by the 16 pages of instruction. Sox Therapist is now diagnosed with severe breast cancer, so our community is trying to support her by gifting the pattern and knitting it together.
 Fun distraction: elder college. I am enjoying Wednesday mornings with our former band teacher learning about the history of jazz.
 And continuing to swim laps at the pool. I am so surprised I can still swim. I thank my SIL and my BFF, Jen, for the late in life lessons. 
 Galactic Hat Knit a Long. Really a great pattern. Doesn't hurt to make it in Malabrigo.

Couldn't decide if it needs a pompom, so I'll make one and give it separately. Uses up more yarn stash. Maybe I'll make one in each colour.
 She doesn't believe she can walk around the block, but she likes to get out several times a day. It's a bit like having a cat that wants in and out.

 Sewed a cover for my wedge cushion. I am not going to sit on it all the time, but am getting to know it. I think a key for my back is to not sit or stand or do anything for too long.

 More exploration of new ideas. This is my first English Paper Piecing. I am thinking of making a small quilted object. Trying to use up some of my fabric stash.
I was given this silk yarn as a gift with an order from a hand dyer. Slowly I gathered the idea to knit a bluebird of happiness. And then I had to make a clutch of them.

 This gives me such delight. Now I can add the left over yarn to my sock yarn blanket. There are some Easter stuffies in the queue.
And I'm actually moving forward on Emily's quilt. She made the squares years ago but made some mistakes and had to put it away. I tidied some edges and sewed them together. Last night I made the quilt sandwich, pinned it and did some hand basting. Next step is to sew long strips of machine quilting. I didn't think I could have it done by Easter, but now it is possible.
We had a lovely quiet Valentines Day. I like to celebrate every season. For Groundhog Day, I tried to live a day I wouldn't mind repeating. Valentines is a good excuse to snuggle and eat chocolate.
Like my bigger knitting projects, I break down the steps into smaller goals, I break down these days and weeks into small steps for small victories. And get out into the sun as much as possible.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chasing Rainbows

 We are in the late days of winter when the rain comes and goes and then seems to stay forever. Getting outside to the local hills is a great antidote to the grey.
 As is the Suburban Stitcher Rainbowalong KAL. I love this Raincity Knits kit of rainbow minis in superwash worsted merino. The Monster Cowl was introduced to me by Must Stash Yarns and I'm so glad I got to knit it. 
 I'm also swimming at our local pool, once a week. It delights me to see people in all their all weather gear, dodging the raindrops, when I am truly wet.
 Outside the pool is this fragrant shrub. My sister says its Oregon Grape, but it is much more delicate than the stuff I have grown.
 D and I travelled to UVic to see Emily's concert and visit with our kids. It was a spectacular program with the Naval band. We loved having dinner and breakfast in Oak Bay. We even got to see Scott's apartment and his roommate's cool cat.
 Camelias are blooming in Oak Bay.
 Brass Needles is hosting a February Finishuary. It gives me hope that I can work on this Featherweight cardigan in Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace and make it fit. Mom took my measurements. I wasn't off that much. Now I have separated the sleeves, I can just knit straight on the body till I feel it is long enough. It was a good travelling companion. My hands like the small movements of light yarn.
 Coming home on the ferry we noticed the late brightness (this is about 5:30 pm). Hope for spring.
 And my snow drops welcomed me home.
 I played around with strip sequences on the cowl. It is rather bright! But it looks different when you wear it. I also want to show my support for the Pride events that will be happening soon.
 I walked the big block and enjoyed the familiar scenes. 
 I must remember to try this in my front yard. The naturalized crocuses are so cheerful.
And in the end, there were ends to weave in. Actually I did quite a few as I went along. It did block longer (from 46 to 60 inches) and I will wear my rainbow KAL cowl with pride.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Winter Comforts

There are a lot of rainy and chilly days right now. Think UK. But when the rain stops, or the sun comes out, I go outside and mark the progress of the snow drops and the buds on the trees.

 I finished the 3 Colour Cowl. This is in Shibui Stoccata and is so soft and luscious. What a great travel knitting project! I think I'll cast on another in my Party of 5 from Sweet Georgia and just play around with the textures.

 There was more hat knitting. I thought I'd use the leftovers from Mom's hat, but had to dig in the stash for some lighter yarn. So happy to be using this well-marinated yarn. The pattern is Bumble by Tin Can Knits and it was as much fun as my friends have said. So squishy.

 A birthday gift for a great nephew.
 When it is cold outside, my thoughts turn to baking.
 A new (very old) recipe from a knitting friend, this sheet apple pie was the bomb. I think it's an old Mennonite recipe.

 I brought it to our church auction and dessert party. D and I were a little worried that it wouldn't get off the ground because it's his committee and we were away. But people brought great items and our professional cowboy auctioneer helped get the bids up.
One of the purposes of such an evening is to have fun in the dark, damp cold. The weather was there for us and the people came and we laughed and got high on sugar and had a great time. I also made that giant carrot cake. There were left overs for Sunday coffee time. I donated my quilt and a silk and bamboo shawl. Both went for good prices. Yay.
 The Graffiti and Asphalt socks are done. The fabric is perhaps a bit loose, but the fit is pretty good. I will be playing with different heel patterns this year. 
 Knit up a hat in some White Buffalo unspun yarn and it turned out really big, so it goes the biggest head I know, DH.

 Revamped the pattern and now I have a nice hat for Great Nephew.

 Both my kids have their birthdays in January. The birthday boxes were packed before Christmas and delivered when they returned to Vancouver Island after the holidays. It was fun chatting with them about the varied items and why I included them. There were some hand made items and plenty of coffee.

 I splurged on some yarn I needed but did not need. Feeling the pull of pink from watching podcasts with delightfully sweet hosts. This is going to be a great shawl. But first I have to finish my February Rainbow KAL and the Galactic Hat KAL. It is encouraging to have internet friends.

 The jasmine is flowering. I really need a sprig of this. It reminds me of sister's back door at the farm, which was always colourful and welcoming in the winter.
Tomorrow we celebrate Mom's birthday. It will be fun to get together and share some lunch.
I am fitting in some swimming and even hiked the stairs on the hill. Since my birthday I have lost 18 pounds and I feel hope in my year of Wellness.
Some comforts I am trying to get back to: reading, vegetarian cooking and spending more time with friends.