Sunday, December 30, 2007

What I did over the holidays

I humbly apologize to anyone who tries to read my blog. I can't believe that time has flown by so quickly, and that December has gone. I really have been knitting ...

Much as I love my children, and Doug's, this year they decided it was the year for them all to visit the parents on the other side. There was some commentary about needing to be fair and hoping we'd understand and all. And so we agreed that it would be fair to the other parents and in-laws if the dear children did, indeed, visit elsewhere this year.

Inside, however, we were actually rather pleased. The shop was going to be closed for Christmas and Boxing Days. Adding my regular Sunday and Monday days off meant that I was the proud owner of a Four-Day-Weekend. Rather an event to be celebrated in my opinion--especially since we would be child-free.

Doug researched and finally we decided to try a stay at the Nordic Inn. The B&B had rooms available for the necessary days; unfortunately, they wouldn't be able to provide breakfast for two of the days. This wasn't a problem for us, because we had planned on taking our breakfast and dinners with us and using the microwave in the room.

We checked in, and learned that Jane, the owner, was a knitter. She was quite pleased to show me her afghans and look at my works in process. And at breakfast the next morning? She showed me a Llama hat that a previous guest had prepared.

I personally think the hat is priceless. And why would someone knit her a Llama hat? That remains to be seen.

The room we selected for our get-away was the deluxe suite. We had a king-size bed, a jacuzzi tub, a stone fireplace and a dining nook. It was delightful.
And now for the answer as to why someone would knit her a llama hat. You see, at the Nordic Inn there are llamas. Friendly llamas. Ones that like carrots. Oh yes. There's a horse there too. We immediately went to the nearest grocery store and bought carrots.

The critters were quite friendly when tempted by carrots.

Finally, the only question remaining is why we would go to the Nordic Inn for Christmas. Well, the answer is that the Nordic Inn is minutes from the Frost Centre, where there is some wonderful cross-country skiing.

Doug is quite an avid cross-country ski aficionado. Several years ago, he took me out on a trail that was far above my abilities. Since then, I've been greatly reluctant to venture back out onto the trails. This was an attempt for me to learn to enjoy skiing again. The Frost Centre has a multitude of trails, ranging from easy to more difficult, short to long. We were able to select a route for us to ski that would be short enough for my endurance as well as not beyond my technical skills.

We went skiing on Monday, after the big rain. Fortunately, we had some rain overnight which helped, as did the cooling temperatures. The conditions were slightly better than OK, and we did fairly well. Actually, I was more than a little vertically challenged (which means that I fell down ... a lot). Then we returned to the room and soaked our weary bones in the jacuzzi.

Tuesday we went skiing again. This time ... Well, they always say that a photo is worth a thousand words.
That one says a lot, eh?

On Wednesday, Doug deicded to attempt a ski on the trails at the Nordic. Turns out that the Nordic Inn was previously a training centre for the Canadian ski teams. The trails were ... um ... challenging. Doug reports that the word "challenging" is somewhat like the Chinese curse of living in interesting times. Challenging was an understatement.

The first two water hazards were intimidating. Which means that he managed to get past them without incident. The third water hazard, however, was daunting. Which means that he turned around and came back.

The verdict? The holiday get-away up north was an unqualified success. We will do it again, the first chance we get. After all, we DID purchase the family membership to the Frost Centre ski trails.

We returned home on Wednesday afternoon, to prepare for the impending visit of my second son and the return of my daughter. More on that later!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Done like dinner!

I've been knitting an Aran sweater for a customer at the store. The gentleman came in looking for a hand-knit Aran sweater for his wife's birthday. Money was not a problem, and he realized that Aran sweaters require LOTS of work. Also, there really wasn't a deadline as his wife was in on the surprise. With that in mind, I accepted the commission.

She selected a design from Susan Bates booklet no. 17670, circa 1983, knit in Paton's Classic Merino. All well and good, and quite in line with what I would have chosen. Unfortunately, the wool wasn't available from the warehouse immediately, so I had to wait until the latter half of October to cast on.

I knit dutifully and carefully, following the pattern diligently. Christy asked if I made any alterations to compensate for the difference between the style as written (long and lean) and the current styles and/or body styles. Well, I did. First, I cast on using the numbers for a size 42, and tapered to a size 40 to mimic the customer's body. I also shortened the length to the underarm shaping since the customer is vertically challenged.

One of my friends from the store questioned whether I had knit a gauge swatch. "Ha! I know this yarn and I know me! I'll be fine!" And when she wasn't looking, I measured. Once the back and two fronts were completed, I took them home for a little blocking. Unfortunately, the goddess of knitting didn't look kindly upon my arrogance. I needed six more stitches. I compensated by knitting up a gusset from the bottom ribbing to the armhole, sewing it in darn near invisibly.

The sleeves were knit just as written, only for a size 42. This provided some extra width across the shoulders and the necessary length. The collar was also knit as directed, for the size 42.

All in all, looking at the photo, it does appear to be a credible job, and one I hope the customer will find worthy. After the photo shoot, I sewed on the 7 buttons. All in all, the sweater consumed 8 balls of wool and six weeks of my life. It could've been completed sooner, with more diligence on my part in the store. But sometimes a girl has to do the bookwork, and stock the shelves, and play on the computer. Ya know? And I'm happy with it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An attempt at normalcy

My family in the US celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend. This is the second year in which I didn't pull Carrie from school and make the mad drive on Wednesday. She takes her high school classes a little bit seriously ... doesn't want to miss the time in school. Coupled with her involvement in the high school play (Voices 2000), the Rebel Improv Team, and her having missed so many days earlier in the year, not to mention her paying job, it just didn't seem right to forcefully yank her away for the long weekend. She does just fine with missing the family activities. I do miss them ... and the recognition that life is finite just makes things more difficult.

In an effort to cheer myself up, then, I am posting some amazing photos of my Lizzie kitty. She regularly gets thumped by both Henry and Mimi when in the house, so she is always on the look-out for a new hideaway. This past summer she found what she thought was a truly great spot --
Fortunately for her, we spotted her in there before we shut the drawer -- hence the photo. She really didn't understand why we were killing ourselves laughing at her. Perhaps I don't either. After all, it IS a secure hideaway.

Fast forward to last weekend and the arrival of cold, ice and snow. NOW the kitties are looking for somewhere warm to roost. Remember when I said that Henry and Mimi regularly thump poor Lizzie? Apparently, all is forgiven.
Yes, you saw it here first. Henry and Lizzie sharing the same lap. Even more amazing, they've shared the lap at least once more since this photo. I'm not sure, but it may be getting a little cooler in a place not known for warm weather. (As in hell freezing over in case I've been too cute!)

And now for something completely different ... if you are near and dear to my heart, or married to someone near and dear to my heart, you should now wander on to the next place in your internet wanderings. Nothing else here for you to see. Really.

I mean it. Nothing here for you to see. Just keep on moving.

Still here, eh? Well, don't say I didn't warn you. Now you will have to take the chance of ruining your Christmas surprise. Glad to see you took the warning. See ya later!

For those of you still here, remember the day I spent dying wool with my friends? The wool dried and was wound into pretty little centre pull balls. Very cute. The photo doesn't do them justice, but they are truly things of beauty. The "manly" colours on the right are two shades of green, a gold, an orange, a yellow and a brown. Truly they look like autumn colours in their brightest shades of glory. The "girly" colours on the left are a vivid yellow, hot pink, green ... you almost need sunglasses to look at the yarn.
All in all, a dying experience worthy of praise, and definitely one to repeat. Especially the manly colours. I really want a pair of socks from that colourway.

Finally, a not-very-good photo of another Christmas gift. This is a lace skirt from Interweave Knits Summer 2007 issue, knit in Blue Sky Cotton. The skirt itself is lovely and the photo truly doesn't do it justice. I hope to get a better photo after the gift-giving.
As with all lace, it is better knit with few distractions. However, the pattern shows itself almost immediately thus making it an easier knit than it might otherwise have been. The designer attempted to have a "fake" I-cord border up the sides with a provisional cast-on finished off with a real knitted I-cord edging. In my humble opinion, the I-cord should have been knit around the sides and bottom afterward as the imitation cord really doesn't stand out. Other than that, a delightful knit. I used one and a half balls of this cotton to make the skirt, by the way, making it a very economical holiday gift.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A day of painting

Several months ago, my friend Barb and I attended a dyeing workshop offered by a local spinner. We had fun. Just prior to our workshop, our friend Irene also attended a dye workshop held by the same local spinner. She also had fun.

In fact, we had so much fun that we decided that we should try to recreate the fun. We ordered Jacquard Acid Dyes and Bare yarns from Knitpicks. Barb has a wonderfully large basement with sturdy linoleum floors. It was agreed that we would meet there and begin our adventures.

This is a photo of Irene and I painting our yarns. Irene and her sister, Kathy, were painting wool to make a sweater. Me? I'm just painting sock yarn.
Barb decided to attempt some immersion dyeing with lace-weight wool. She is trying to explain to us how it will work.

Here you see Barb pulling some of the laceweight out of the dye bath and letting it run into the rinse water. The theory was that the wool in the dye bath would continue absorbing dye, making it darker and darker.
The theory is good. Unfortunately, it probably should not have been attempted with lace-weight. 880 meters is a lot to be pulling from the dyebath at 5-15 meters at a time. The truly frightening part of the endeavor was that the wool in the rinse water was just pooling there, waiting to be rewound. We kept teasing Barb that we were going to stir the rinsewater. Her shrieks were quite amazing.

We were quite thrilled with the results. The colours were vivid and rich. Even before the heat setting process. And after? Even better. We are all waiting (im)patiently for the yarns to dry so that we can wind them into balls and show them off.

And what was Doug up to while I was out having fun? He spent the day on his hands and knees, spreading out the heating element for the new bathroom.
To say that I am thrilled with the progress being made would be an understatement--possibly the biggest understatement of 2007. Stay tuned for more updates on the yarns and the bathroom!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yes, I have been knitting

Despite the blahs I have been experiencing, I have been knitting. Not as enthusiastically as is customary, but I've been plugging away. And here are photos to prove it!

This first project is a store project--an Aran-style sweater for a customer. The book is one I collected 25 years ago when I worked for an Aunt Mary's (Caron warehouse outlet). I just collect Aran books, not necessarily knit them. The customer browsed through all the books available, including some from the store and some from home, and selected her favorite from this golden oldie. The photo shows a back and most of the left front ... currently I am half-way through the right side as well. The wool is Paton's Classic Merino in the Aran colourway. Despite my attempts to over-think and screw things up, I am enjoying this project. I have noted one minor error in the pattern, but it was easily spotted and rectified.

Believe it or not, I have two projects on the needles for home. Yes, you read it here. Two projects. At the same time. Who'd have believed it?!

This photo shows a baby set I've been working on for the Durham Crisis Pregnancy Centre. I had acquired the yarn (Bernat Baby) when Lewiscraft went out of business. Only having 4 ounces, however, I wanted to be certain to get the complete set finished before I ran out of yarn. Consequently, I used a 2.00mm needles instead of the 2.25mm specified in the pattern. Makes the fabric a wee bit stiff, but not uncomfortably so.
You see here the completed jacket, the bonnet and one bootie. The second bootie was almost completed. True to form, I have completed the knitting and actually attached the requisite ribbons! You will see a finished object photo in the very near future.

Finally, my last project was started so that I would have a sock in hand for the Learn to Knit Socks class at the shop. I used Hacho from Mirasol and a pattern from Knitting Pure and Simple. As promised, it is an excellent beginner patternl--clear and concise.
Once again, I've progressed a bit beyond the photo. The second sock is actually on the needles. A momentous event occurred at the toe of the first sock. I used the kitchener stitch to close off the toe. Voluntarily. Without grumbling. With a smile. Who knew that kitchener would be so much fun when you can actually see the stitches on which you are working?!?!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Those crazy, lazy, hazy days of ... FALL?

This will be a somewhat unusual post. Despite the cheery, bright title, I have been more than a little bummed of late.

While we were celebrating Thanksgiving weekend on October 7, a very good friend of Carrie's (back in Michigan) died. He was 25 years old, and he died in tragic circumstances.

Chris had life by the tail--finishing up his university degree with exemplary grades, a new job offer in his field and doing what he loved most--promoting music. Things were finally coming together for him. And then he died, leaving behind his young wife and two beautiful children. He also left behind his dreams unrealized, his life unfinished.

In his short life, Chris touched many people. People he knew in "real life," and people he knew through the internet. His power was such that he brought out the best in people. His enthusiasm for life was infectious, and he just made everyone smile.

If you can spare a moment, please say a prayer for his family. They do need them.
* * * * *
I have been knitting lately, but have neglected to take photos. I have also been shopping lately, but have the same issue--no photos. I WILL do better ...

In the meantime, how about this crazy weather? It was positively warm today, and sunny. A condition almost unheard of lately. And to take advantage of this crazy, hazy, and decidedly not lazy day, Doug and I raked leaves. Lots of leaves. 4 hours worth of leaves. The good news is that we almost raked the entire yard. The bad news? Well, the trees still have plenty of leaves to drop. At least Doug will be able to mow the grass now and make that last raking up a lot easier than today's efforts!

The cats enjoyed the sunshine immensely. Mostly they stay inside when the weather is dull and grey. Especially when it is raining or snowing. So they have stayed inside for the better part of the last two weeks. But today? They couldn't wait to get outside!

Mimi flaked out on the handrail. Warm, away from those treacherous feet which might step on her tail, you get the idea. I haven't seen her so comfortable in ages, in fact. She really enjoyed her sunning.

Henry, on the other hand, went for some cushioning. After all, he is getting up there in age!
Unfortunately, he sat up just before the shutter clicked. He had been sprawled magnificently across the leaves, all four paws to the wind.

The yard and deck look much better now than they did when these photos were taken. The leaves are gone, and things look much more tidy. And they'll stay that way--until the wind kicks up as predicted and blows the remaining leaves down.

Then we'll rake again. Unless I get lucky and am at the store!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Recuperating from the weekend

Last weekend we drove to Michigan for a weekend of family gatherings. Departing Friday night, after closing the store, we arrived at the hotel at 2:30 am. I have an all new respect for Stephanie for keeping the hours she does when she travels. I myself would be a basketcase if I had to do the things she does.

Saturday morning we gathered at St. Thomas Episcopal church for a memorial service for my Uncle Ray. He passed away back at Easter, and this was the time when his children (all four of them, with spouses) could congregate in Michigan. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. The service left everyone a little teary, and with a smile. My uncle did have a wicked sense of humour.

Following the service at the graveside (where we all learned that we should not try to make a living by singing), we gathered at a local restaurant and had a very nice luncheon. I had not seen any of the cousins for 15 years, and some even longer than that. It was a great to sit down together and catch up on what was happening in each others' lives.

Doug, Carrie and I bopped out of the restaurant at 4:00 so that we could have a bike ride at Fort Custer. The day was conducive to bicycle riding, and we all had a tremendous time. So much of a good time that ... well, it had been a late night and an early morning, coupled with a fair bit of exertion on the bike trail ... A nap seemed like a tremendously good idea. So we did. Doug was supposed to be in the shower, washing away any traces of poison ivy. Apparently that wasn't all that he did while he snoozed!

Sunday was a big day as well, again at St. Thomas. My new niece, Amelia Ann, was baptized! Again, with the big family gathering. And the three of us (Doug, Carrie and myself) snuck out for another bicycle ride. With not so great results, I am afraid. Carrie managed to go over the handlebars yet again and was bruised and battered upon our return to the hotel. She has decided that she will NOT be mountain biking any more. Now I'm on the lookout for a less dangerous bicycle route to take her on.

Have you noticed how few photos there are, even though I am talking about a lot of activity? It seems our digital camera is deciding whether or not to give up the ghost. We get maybe a photo or two per day, and then it dies. My brother thinks it is something with the image-capture element ... all I know is that sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

One thing that was really cool about the weekend is that I got to meet Amelia. She was five weeks old on Friday, the 28th of September. And such a sweetie. You know how babies sometimes are fussy and only quiet down for one person? This particular weekend, I was that person. (For those folks who have known me for years and years, they understand how exciting this was. Babies NEVER quiet down for me!) She slept on my lap, or on my shoulder, for the longest times. Made me quite happy, I must admit. There are reportedly photos capturing this event, and I am even now in search of them.

I also was able to gift the baby bunting to little Amelia. I am not sure about her, but her parents loved it. Again, photos are in existence and I am still trying to track them down! Even better, it appears that she will be able to wear the bunting more than once since there is plenty of room for her to grow.

In other news, I am participating in a dishcloth relay race with some on-line friends. I received a box with some cotton yarn and a dishcloth, and something special:

I'm not certain what yarn was used for the cloth, but it is nice and soft. The pattern is a basic broken rib pattern. All in all, quite nice. The relay requires me to knit up a dishcloth using one of the yarns included in the box, replace the yarn, and send it forward. I've been eyeing this dishcloth for quite some time, and never found the excuse to knit it.

This is the doily-type dishcloth pattern found on some of the Bernat Handicrafter ball bands. Quite straightforward to knit, and as enjoyable in person as it is to look at on the label. I replaced the Bernat with some S.R. Kertzer Coolspun Cotton, and sent the box on its way. Here's hoping that Customs won't demolish the box as it winds it way to the next recipient.

Also in conjunction with Delphi's Knit & Chat group, I've been attempting to knit a pair of socks each month. Some months I knit baby booties. Some months I knit plain ole socks. But not in September. (Oh yeah -- if you are related to me by birth or marriage, you might want to look away now. Wouldn't want to spoil Christmas, would you?)
These are Dragon Socks knit in the style of shadow knitting, pattern courtesy of Fresh Isle Fibres. Unfortunately, I didn't follow the directions to "cast on loosely" as carefully as I should have. I will have to carefully snip the yarn at the ribbing cast-on and catch the stitches before they unravel. Then carefully and LOOSELY bind off. Other than that, however, I am quite pleased with the pattern. The designer intends to have shadow knitting socks for all the houses at Hogwarts, so if you are an avid Harry Potter fan stay tuned there!

This is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. I have spent the weekend thinking about the things for which I am thankful--family, friends, a warm home, a job I love, plenty of food, good health ... what are you thankful for this year?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Finally--an update!

My, my, my. The time--it does fly! Life has been busy, both here and at the shop. School started, with all that entails. A fall line-up of classes and gatherings at the shop has started. Yowza!

The computer woes have finally, at long last, been conquered. Turns out we had a shot modem, followed by a cup of coffee being spilled onto a keyboard. The modem was an easy replacement. Old one out, new one in, and off we go. The keyboard, however. Old one out, new one in. (And we even threw the old one into the garbage--how's that for a radical decision?!) Well, "away we go" is just too easy. I swear the keyboards are identical, and the new one is possibly the same size as the laptop. However, I do find it more than a little difficult to keep my fingers on the proper keys. Strange letters keep popping up. You know what I mean, no doubt.

I know school has started. How, you might wonder. Remember when kids were little and they would insist they weren't tired, right up until they fell asleep in the oddest places? Well, this is what happens at our house these days. Fireplace chugging away, making the house warm and toasty. Sleep inducing in more than cats too, it would appear.
Doesn't she look comfortable? Not even a pillow. You know she's tired when she crashes on the wooden floor, no pillows, no afghan, and not even a kitty-cat for a pillow. Upon awakening, her only comment was along the lines of "I guess I'll go to bed now." She hoped we didn't actually catch her snoozing there on the floor!

On Sept. 8th, which was in fact two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Waterloo-Kitchener Knitter's Fair with my friend Barb. As we entered the facility, Barb commented that we should plan to see all the booths before buying anything. I agreed, because I am, after all, a wonderfully agreeable person. Barb made it to the second booth, where she had a little "falling down" a la Stephanie, over some Handmaiden SeaSilk. I managed to hang onto my balance until I found the Handmaiden Camelspin. (On the right.)
Once opened, the wallet continued its wild and crazy behavior by making me bring home some Fleece Artist SeaWool socks too. I really love the colours and textures of the fibers combined with the seacell--whatever that is! And the smell--evocative of warm evenings in the Caribbean. Delightful!
What else have I here? Some Mirasol Hacho (colourway #304 & 307). This was acquired from my shop--kind of a product evaluation kind of thing. It looks an awful lot like Koigu (some of which has found its way into my stash), and according to my friend Barb, knits like a dream. All I know is that the sock she knit up from it is fabulous, and I can't wait to knit my own.

This weekend we are driving to Michigan to visit my family. There is a memorial service for my uncle on Saturday, followed by a gathering of the far-flung clan. Cousins I haven't seen in seven years and more. Cousins my daughter (16) has yet to meet. Aside from the somber reason for visiting, it should be a blast.

On Sunday, my new niece is being baptized. You know--the one for whom I knit the entrelac bunting. I hear she's growing by leaps and bounds. I sure hope she hasn't outgrown the baby gift already.

But the best news of all? Being in Battle Creek means that we get to have another couple of rides at Fort Custer! Bring it ON!

Monday, September 10, 2007

This IS a knitting blog, right?

It occurred to me, finally, that I haven't written anything about knitting in ages. Since before the computer fried itself, actually. That's been a long time.

Despite appearances, I have been knitting. I have demonstrated entrelac. This scarf was created from the entrelac tutorial in the spring Interweave Knits using three balls of Noro Silk Garden. Beautiful, isn't it? Many folks seem to think so because I've been selling Noro like crazy ever since. My friend, Barb, and I are teaching an entrelac class at the store beginning tomorrow evening, so look for plenty more entrelac scarves around Port Perry.Another shop project which has been finished recently is this top. I used one and a half hanks of Butterfly Super 10 cotton to knit the Cream Tea from the 2007 Pattern-a-Day calendar. June 5, if my memory is at all correct. Sorry about the less than stellar photo. If you want more detail, leave a comment and I'll provide.
Knitting for babies has also consumed some time. Here you see a little pink outfit completed as a store sample. The beret comes from the 2007 Pattern-a-Day calendar and the sweater is from Debbie Bliss Cotton Knits. oth were knit using Filati Carezza. The doll? Mine from childhood. One of my customers offered me an outrageous amount of money if I would sell her. Not a chance. Too many memories.
You also see Bear modeling an entrelac baby bunting. That pattern came from the McCall's Super Baby Book, circa 1979. I wanted to make this pattern for my eldest son before he was born, but couldn't figure out the instructions. Since learning entrelac, I decided to try again for my soon-to-arrive neice. The directions were still pretty bad, but I did figure it out. Bear models it well, but I'm sure Amelia will do better.

I also knit up some socks. On the left are the socks which went canoe camping in Algonquin Park. They were made from Knitpicks Simply Stripes using a generic sock pattern. Very nice sock yarn, and many folks are hoping to find these under the Christmas tree this year. I'm not telling who the lucky recipient is! The socks on the right are from Regia Stretch, using the same generic pattern.
This means that I've finally caught up on the Sock-a-Month challenge over at Delphi Knit & Chat forum! July and August completed! Wait til you see my September socks!

I've also completed a pair of baby layettes for the Durham Crisis Pregnancy Centre. Yellow and lavender. Apparently the shelves are pretty bare at the Pregnancy Centre, so if one was at all inclined, knitting some layettes for donations would be greatly appreciated.
The photos are pretty grainy and terrible. Sorry about that. I'm posting from home on dial-up so I compressed the photos pretty severely.

My brother and sister-in-law announced the arrival of their daughter, Amelia Ann, on September 21. She is the lucky recipient of the entrelac baby bunting. I can't wait to see it on her! Congratulations you two! You did well!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Camping in Algonquin Park

As promised, here is the wrap-up of our camping trip in Algonquin Park. This is the third camping trip for us over-all, but the first time that the four of us have gone by ourselves. Our friends, Rob & Tanya, have gone with us previously, and taught us the ropes.

We decided that we would follow the same route that we took two years ago. Familiar territory and all, ya know? So we loaded up the backpacks, grabbed the map and compass, and took off.

First stop is Algonquin Outfitters to pick up the rental canoes. Nice canoes, reasonable prices, and lots of help loading the canoes onto the trailer. Drive off to the entry point on Smoke Lake.

This is what the dock looked like as we readied ourselves for departure. The young man chatting up the girls claimed to be interested in the dog. Myself, I think it was a ruse to get to talk with the beautiful young ladies. But I'm prejudiced ... Two canoes, four backpacks, one dog and we're off! In previous years, we had scoped out what we thought was a perfect site. With bated breath, we headed off. Two short portages later, we were there. Luckily, the site was available, so we grabbed it.
Sunsets are a favorite view of my daughter's. Sunsets over a pristine lake with a loon calling softly in the distance, are one of the best things about canoe camping.

While breaking camp on Monday morning, a huge snapping turtle came to investigate. There is a picture of him in my photobucket album located here. (All the photos here are different than those at photobucket.)

I find myself continually marveling at the loons. Red eyes. And the ability to stay underwater for that length of time. And I am amused when the loon swims in front of our canoe, and then protested because we were too close.

The canoeing was wonderful. Turns out that the daughter and I work well as a team, but only if I'm in the back. Since I didn't really know how to steer, this was extremely interesting. On the route, there was a stretch where you are winding your way down a meandering waterway, complete with beaver dams. Doug, Em and Pepper the dog) managed to paddle across it without incident. Carrie and I, on the other hand, had a little trouble. We ended up with Carrie over-balanced to the right, me leaning to the left in an effort to compensate, and water pouring in over the right side. Carrie decided to sacrifice herself and flopped overboard. Which means that the canoe was suddenly leaning way to the left, with water rushing in the left side. Quick reflexes meant that the canoe stayed upright. Carrie didn't officially fall out since her hair didn't get wet. Even Doug agreed with us. Sorry--no photos of this part of the adventure.

I took a sock with me this trip. Do you have any idea how decadent it feels to sit and knit on a sock while sipping your morning tea? Or sipping your evening chocolate? There is absolutely no comparison. Don't I look happy?
Both young ladies brought reading with them again. This year, however, the books stayed in water-proof packaging. And much lighter than previous years as well.
All in all, the trip was a rousing success. We were initially dubious about taking Pepper with us. He's a city dog, with all that entails. Also, he has bad hips. Fortunately, he absolutely loved the trip. Riding in the canoe was no problem, although he did prefer that the two canoes stay close together. Em would throw a stick in the water for him to fetch just prior to putting him in a canoe. That way, he'd stay a wee bit cooler while we were paddling.. After all, there is no shade in the middle of a lake. We are definitely planning to do this trip again, although we are hoping to plot a trip that visits different lakes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I may have done something bad ... in a good way

The joy of having a wool shop named "Never Enough Wool" is that some people aren't quite sure what to make of it. I've had several folks call me up and ask if I accept donations. Well ... technically, no. But I do accept donations that are forwarded to a local church for use in their missions work.

And then there was the phone call from a gentleman whose wife had closed her wool shop. She had spent some time treating the inventory as stash. But now they were moving, and she really needed to down-size her stash. Hence, the cold call.

Being the nice person I am, and not really wanting to say "NO" outright ... I agreed to meet him and take a peek. I was fully prepared to say "NO" in person, which felt a mite nicer than over the phone.

Really, I was. I didn't even have any cash or cheques with me.

And then I saw the knitting machine. A Studio, which is my favorite brand. A Model 860, if you really want specifics. (This is a modular, electronic machine for those who have a passing familiarity with knitting machines.) Hardly used. With a ribber.

Along with bags and bags of wool. Nice wool. Really nice wool.

And he accepted my really low offer. Heck, I believe the machine might be worth as much as I paid for the whole kit and kaboodle.

This is my haul:

Another view:

These photos don't do justice to it. Really. All you can see is a mound of wool, in bags. And a little corner of the knitting machine. There are magazines and patterns as well. And a huge bag of needlepoint wool and fabric, some pre-printed. AND a bag of Anchor embroidery floss, as well as patterns. Nicely organized.

Unfortunately, there is some smoke smell residing in the yarn. I spent part of yesterday arranging (some) of the cotton yarn out on the deck and cycling it through laundry baskets. Sort of a giant tumbler, as it were. Doug and I brought it all in at dark, and as we prepared for bed, I spread it out in the kitchen for more airing out. See how much fun I had?!

Luckily for me, after a couple of hours in the fresh northwesterly breeze and an evening on the kitchen floor, the smell is gone. I've even rewound some of the yarn from balls into hanks again, and the smell is gone. I'm hoping that the wool and acrylic blends will be as forgiving as the cotton has been.

The yarn is destined for the shop, for a Surprise Super Summer Sale. Of course, if some of it ended up in my stash, or the daughter's, or the other daughter's ... who would know, right?!

I promise that I WILL have photos of the canoe trip through Algonquin Park, as well as of my recent knitting projects and completed items. All in good time. After all, I do have some stash diving to accomplish.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Adventures with Wild life

Still having difficulties with the communication between the home computer and the internet. I'm hoping to resolve the issues this weekend. Until then, however ...

The husband, both daughters, the step-daughter's dog and I have just returned from a four-day canoe camping trip into Algonquin Park. This is rustic camping at its finest. Clear, cool lake water, very few people, plenty of sunshine and exercise. Of course, this also means that you must secure your food products in a tree so that the local wildlife (bears and raccoons) don't plunder your campsite. More on the camping trip later.

We returned home safe and sound, albeit slightly sunburned, on Wednesday evening. Nice dinner. Thursday was spent doing laundry and unpacking. The heat wave is still in full force, so all the windows are opened to catch the evening breezes. Thursday evening I crawled into bed with my good book, and promptly went to sleep two minutes later. Doug came to bed about 11:30 and read for a while.

Just as he is drifting off to sleep, he hears noises from the kitchen. "Probably the daughter," he thinks. "Hope she remembers to close the freezer door." Then he hears a CRASH. Now he has to go investigate since the daughter might be injured and I am sound asleep.

In the kitchen he discovers not one, but TWO juvenile delinquents.


He chases them out, but then wonders if perhaps there are more hiding in the pantry. After all, it was a family of four 'coons we saw in the backyard. Fortunately, it was just the two 'coons that got in. They had pushed the screens in from the outside and crawled through. The screens were totally undamaged. Go figure.

The 'coons were still out on the deck, patiently waiting for him to turn off the lights so they could resume their midnight snack. He goes outside and chases them off the deck. I snore on, blissfully unaware of the drama unfolding under my windows.

Doug can now hear the little delinquents moving around on the roof--mere feet away from my wide-open bedroom window. He figures that he should make sure they understand that they are not welcome in our neighborhood. A handful of gravel from the driveway and he begins throwing stones at them. They go up and over the peak to the other side of the roof--again, mere feet away from the open bedroom windows. They can't see him, he can't see them, they're safe.

So Doug follows them around to the other side and begins throwing more gravel. Now the gravel is pinging off the steel chimney, which is just feet away from the open bedroom window. PING! PING! GROWL (from the raccoons)! PING! Do I wake up? Nope.

Now Lizzie-kitty wants to go outside and join the fun. After all, she is a fierce, wild beast. And since Doug is already awake, there shouldn't be any problem.


Finally, Doug hauls a ladder around to the side of the house and fetches the garden hose. Right outside the bedroom window. CRASH. SPLASH! MEOW! GROWL!


The 'coons didn't like the water and retreated far up a tree. Out of reach of both the water and gravel. Doug comes inside and stands guard. Lizzie paces and meows incessantly.

Finally, poor Doug comes to bed at 5:30 am. "Poor dear," I say. "Had a bad night?"

Who knew that we could go 4 days without seeing major wildlife in the wilds of Algonquin Park ... only to be raided by said wildlife in the comfort of our own home?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Good grief!

I am so very, very tired of having computer issues. Just when we think we've got it resolved--ZAP!! Something else goes wrong. I keep waiting and waiting for it to all come together. Which means that I haven't posted here in ages. Ages being defined as two weeks.

And if you were hoping for pictures? Ha! Fooled you! Because the camera and its related software is on the home computer ... which isn't talking to the internet for some strange reason. I'm in the shop right now with the o-l-d, t-i-r-e-d laptop. Which has a USB port that doesn't talk to anything.

Isn't technology wonderful?

Carrie has been for a nice visit with her dad in Michigan. Doug and I went to Michigan for a weekend to see my brothers and sisters and attend a baby shower for my youngest brother and his wife. She's due in August, and looks wonderful. Then we went back to Michigan to retrieve Carrie from her dad. That's three trips to Michigan in three weekends. THAT'S a lot of road time.

What I've accomplished knitting wise is a pair of baby sets for the Crisis Pregnancy Centre. And half of a baby gift for said brother, his wife and the soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. In a perfect world, you'd see pictures here. And maybe someone does live in a perfect world. But it ain't me.

And what's with this terri ble lag with Blogger? I type out a whole sentence and then I wait forever (OK. It's maybe two seconds) for the words to appear on-screen. It's like being back in high school and jamming up the IBM Selectrics in typing class all over again.

Here's hoping that sometime in the foreseeable future the camera will be able to talk to the software; the computer's modem will be able to talk to the internet; I'll be able to post photos again; I'll actually win the big prize in the Lotto and be able to treat all my loved ones and favorite knitters to a special treat ... and other assorted good things that we all wish for will happen.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Well, this has been interesting!

We seem finally to not only have a computer, but also a functioning internet connection. This has been an extremely interesting experience, recovering from a major hard drive crash. I do believe that we will be performing a back-up of the important data in a far more regular manner henceforth. Well, performing a back-up, never mind the manner.

In the last couple of weeks, a lot has happened. The daughter survived the exams and end of year activities. Officially, Grade 10 is over.

The daughter attended the Grade 12 Prom with Dave, a young man she has come to know by way of the Rebel Improv team. The dress was borrowed from a friend, and I knit up a shawl to accompany it. The shawl was knit from SeaSilk, 150 grams, purchased at the Knitter's Frolic. She loved it, and it loved her.
She has now gone to visit her dad over in Michigan for a couple of weeks. I sure hope she is having fun.

In other news, we have discovered that the Lizzie-kitty has good taste. Here, she is enjoying a ball of Paton's Classic Merino.
But she suspects that we are holding out on her. Somewhere there is a better ball of wool for her to snuggle.

She would be correct. We were holding back the Luxury Alpaca Peru.

Nice to see that I'm raising more than one yarn snob!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hmm. Cat or dog?

You Are: 50% Dog, 50% Cat

You are a nice blend of cat and dog.
You're playful but not too needy. And you're friendly but careful.
And while you have your moody moments, you're too happy to stay upset for long.

I've been seeing this little quiz thing around the internet for a while. Since I currently can't show photos, this seemed like the next best thing to do. And I'm half dog and half cat. Hmm.

This might explain why LI love lounging around in the sunbeams.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


So not so much posting happening here at Knits 'n Stuff. Some knitting, but ... alas, no photos.

You see, we had a catastrophic hard-drive failure. Of course, we all learned of the importance of doing a regular back-up from Stephanie's mishap last holiday season. Right? Of COURSE WE DID. All over blogdom, knitters were doing back-ups that day. Did that translate to a regular routine of performing a back-up? OF COURSE NOT. Because, you see, those catastrophic failures only happen to other folks.

This week, I am "other folks." We lost the carefully compiled list of e-mail addresses, daughter's photos from her trip to Vimy Ridge for the rededication ceremony, not to mention the daughter's two biggest school assignments of the term. Software for the digital cameras, anti-virus protection, Bicycle solitaire statistics (I was trying for a win in every game!), our favorites for internet surfing, the dial-up accelerator from Primus.

Sigh. All gone.

We did manage, by the hair on our chins, to recover the daughter's homework and one other very valuable document. And since we'd managed to access the hard-drive once, we could recover the remaining documents at our leisure. Right?

WRONG! Oh so very wrong.

Who knew? We certainly didn't. Fortunately, the folks at PC Paramedics (Peterborough) were kind enough to not charge us buckets of money for the failed data recovery.

Now we get to figure out how to reconfigure the computers for optimal usage by the family. Reload the software. Try to rebuild the address book. AND PERFORM A ROUTINE BACK-UP!

Dang. I hate it when I become "other folks."

If you are reading this and you live in Ontario and have a knitting blog, you are invited to join the Knitting in Ontario web-ring.

Oh yes--go back-up your computer data!!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dulaan deadline

I've been contributing to the Dulaan Project since its inception via Ryan's blog. The first year was a bit hurried and I managed mittens and hats. Last year, I contributed some kids sweaters, socks and the ever-present mittens and hats.

This year, I've not been so prolific. The shop has kept me somewhat busy. I did, however, manage to finish up the 5 items I promised Ryan ... and two more. Here is this year's contribution:Three solo hats, one pair of mitts and hat, a scarf, an adult sweater and a child's sweater. Not as good as I had hoped, but at least I have contributed to the warming of Mongolia. A worthy cause. I wonder if the Project will continue?

In other knitting, I have done some knitting with the Regia Java cotton-blend. The colours are delightful--all ten of them. I selected the most sedate to make a pair of socks for my husband. Here you see the finished socks:
Do you see anything peculiar with these socks? They are the closest to identical socks that I've ever achieved. I was so pleased, cruising along. To my dismay, I found a knot in the yarn while completing the foot of the second sock. Not only was there a knot--it would fall on the bottom of the foot. Doug already complains about the harshness of various socks. (He would give Princess a good run for her money, no doubt!) A knot in the sole of his sock wold be absolutely unacceptable.

I dutifully reworked things so that the join would be on the upper part of the sock. And that's when I realized that I'd come SO close to perfection, only to be euchred by the yarn itself.

An interesting note--one of my customers had experienced the same dilemma while using a ball of -- here it comes! -- Regia Java. I haven't had any other sock yarn returned for this reason. Of course, this evidence is only anecdotal, but ... I'm not sure I'll be getting any more of the cotton.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What I did last weekend.

Last weekend was a busy one. I've been plotting and planning and conniving for about six months to give my wonderful husband a surprise birthday party. Do you know how difficult it is to plan a surprise party? Especially when the recipient of the party spends most of the day in your presence?

I knew that I wanted to have a lot of food. How to do that and still keep a surprise? Get the party catered. Adds to the expenses, but a real necessity in this instance.

Order the cake from the local bakery. Preferably on Wednesday if the party is on Saturday. Purchase or make the decorations ahead of time. Stopping at Wal-Mart doesn't insure that you will have decorations. A real party store is definitely the place to go.

And hope for good weather so that the necessary skull-duggery keeps the husband away from home for the necessary hours.

I was lucky. He never even suspected a thing. (Of course, the fact that his birthday was in November might have something to do with his being surprised. But it was a 50 and a half party--honest!)

Doesn't he look happy? And not at all abashed or ashamed to admit that he has turned 50. The young lady at the bakery thought I was silly in the extreme when I ordered the cake. I guess most folks don't celebrate 50 1/2.

The party was held at the Booth. This is the name of the pavilion at the little golf course that our cottage ownership provides. It comes in handy when you want to do something like this. It holds plenty of people, has a wrap-around porch, and the biggest yard for kids to run around in that you could want.

Here are a couple of photos of the folks singing "Happy Birthday" to Doug.
That's Cathy, Jon, Johanna, John hiding behind Johanna, Mary-Lynn, Megan, Jack, Candy and Mike.
And here you see Carrie, John, Al, Irene, Joe and Catherine, and Cathy again.

It was a nice party. Kept me nicely distracted from knitting for a couple of days. Doug thinks this should be an annual event. Minus the surprise part. And he thinks I should be included in the festivities. I haven't decided if I'll admit to having birthdays ... but the party sure was fun!