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?