Thursday, December 18, 2008

For my three loyal readers ...

For my three loyal raeders (hi Lisa, Irene & Kathy!), I apologize for the quiet times around here.

In an attempt to distract you, I bring you tales from Tanglefoot, our favorite Canadian folk music group. They performed recently (it was TOO recently!) in Peterborough, Ontario. We drove over, taking Doug's daughter and her boy and my daughter and her boy (as in boyfriends). Since both of us have 5-passenger vehicles, this necessitated two cars. Bummer. No knitting for me on the drive over!

The concert was, as usual, wonderful. They sing songs about Canadian life, both in the past and current. Their historical songs are often based on facts, albeit somewhat loosely at times.

In any event, it is wonderful music and we love them. Over the years, we've gotten to know the guys in the band. Gotten to know them well enough that they are surprised if they don't see knitting in my hands during a concert. This time, I even got them to hold the knitting!

This is Al, the bass player. His voice has been described as being "halfway between melted chocolate and sex." (Not by me, mind.) I do love bass voices, and his ranks right up there at the top of my favorite bass voices.
This is Terry, Rob and Steve being good sports as well. Rob's wife is also a knitter, so he does understand the allure of yarn. He claims that we was scoping out the project, trying to decide if he should score some yarn for his wife.

And the fact that there are two socks in each photo? Carrie took her knitting with her. Emily, Doug's daughter, also had a mitten project with her, but she didn't want to join in the fun. Silly girl, eh?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A non-knitting post.

The Toronto Star featured a book review last summer on a book that ... well, it interested me. Because I have two sons who are so dang close to military age (28 and 24 years old at the moment), the military activities of the U.S. were always pretty close to the top of my radar screen. The book?

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Scugog library had it on their shelves.

I've read it. This book is an absolutely scathing review of the GWB presidency. When I say scathing, I do mean scathing. I keep expecting smoke to leak from between the covers. The book is actually a compelling case for the indictment and trial of GWB for the murders of the members of the armed forces who have died in the fighting in Iraq. Complete with footnotes, legal precedents and citations to the source materials for the charges I might add. The drawback to this book, and ultimately the reason why no one will act upon it and the reasoning it contains is this: Mr. Bugliosi is an ardent and fervent Democrat; his language when referring to GWB is demeaning, derogatory and inflammatory, and possibly libelous. In fact, not even half-way through the book, I was more than tired of hearing GWB referred to in such a manner.

Heh. Now that I think about it, perhaps I understand why Bugliosi did what he did. The ONLY defense to libel and slander is the truth. Perhaps we has hoping to incite GWB into suing for libel and slander, at which point Bugliosi could trot out his vision of the truth and hope that the judge and jury would agree with him. An interesting move, to say the least.

In any event, I would recommend this as a good read.

In other news ... Lake Scugog has frozen over this week. Twice, in fact. This second time, however, it looks like it's gonna stick. Brrrr. The freezing over part isn't really news; after all, freeze-up happens every year. This year we have the good fortune of having actually removed all dock sections from the water ahead of time. (Yippee!) What WAS momentuous, however, was this:

That is a lone, single, solitary Canada Goose out there. They don't usually hang out by themselves, you know. I was getting ready to head into the shop when I glanced out the window and saw this guy. Just sitting there on the ice. After brushing my teeth and getting dressed, he was still there. Just sitting there all by his lonesome. I was afraid that he was actually stuck to the ice--destined for a long, slow death by exposure or a traumatic death by raccoon or neighbourhood dog. Neither was something I particularly wanted to see happen on my lakefront.

I got the binoculars and went for a closer look. He was still there, just kind of looking around forlornly. Now I was worried. What to do, how to help him. (I am a sucker for this type of thing. I vividly recall feeding the ducks down by the Bear Lake Tavern with my ex-husband and being concerned that one duck with a "broken wing" wasn't getting enough to eat. I charged the ex-husband with luring the entire flock down the shoreline so that I could toss some bread to the injured duck. After dinner, the injured duck thanked me by standing up and shaking out his feathers so that his wing looked ... perfect!)

I went and got Doug and showed him the poor goose. Doug figured that he was too far out for a simple (but freezing) wade out to free him. Perhaps a canoe could be used to break the ice and set him free? Doug was pondering the ways in which aid could be secured while I went out to start my car warming up. After all, Never Enough Wool really needed to be opened on time. I do have early morning customers.

I came back from starting the car, tromping across the crusty snow on the deck and making lots of noise. I noticed the goose's head pop up to get a better look at the excitement on the shore.

Then I saw --

There he went, shaking his tail feathers at me as he strolled off.

Good thing I discovered my folly before Doug got his canoe down to the lake, eh?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The problem is ...

I've posted a list of all the projects currently on needles. Twelve of 'em, to be exact. That's a whole lotta knitting. For some folks, this many projects is no big deal. They just roll a dice, or a pair of dice in this case, and depending on the number that comes up work on a particular project for the day. Intrepid Knitter Friend Barb does this, and generally she seems to be pretty happy with the technique.

My problem with this many projects isn't necessarily the overwhelming choice of projects to which I can devote myself for the day. No, that would be entirely too easy. My problem is that I want to see progress -- preferably instantaneous -- on every project. The whole "devote yourself to one project for the day" is actually kind of like how I prefer to function. It's easier to see progress. It's just that there are 11 other projects demanding my attention. If I do a couple of rows here, and a couple of rows there, and another couple of rows THERE ... well, you do get the idea.

Nothing, but nothing gets accomplished. In fact, in the 9 days since my previous post, I haven't been able to cross one single, solitary project off the list. Not one. How depressing is that?!

My saving grace, however, is that one project is nearing completion. The little babyset for my son's friends is looking quite respectable now. It lacks buttons, and that's not for lack of trying. At the shop, I have some cute blue teddy bear buttons--but only two and I need five. So then I found some cute dark blue elephant buttons.
I understand that many folks wouldn't understand the problem with elephant buttons. They ARE blue and this is being knit for a boy ... (Remember why I am knitting this set? Because my son "borrowed" the Obama/Biden sign from his friends' front lawn in order that his sister might possess a piece of political history. The friends didn't volutarily surrender the sign, nor were they happy when they discovered it missing. Hence the guilt gift.)

In the U.S., the political parties are denoted by animals. The Democrats are represented by the lowly donkey. The Obama/Biden ticket represented the Democrats in this last election. The Republicans are represented by (here it is!) ... um ... an elephant. It's off to Fabricland for buttons this weekend.

The pattern is from Paton's Book No. 117 (circa 1950s) and is called "Eyelet Wardrobe for 6 Months" and the yarn is King Cole Big Value Baby 4-Ply. I'm doing the jacket and toque since these friends live in Virginia. They don't get a whole lot of winter, so I think the jacket and toque will be perfect.

In other news ... I'm not supposed to talk about this a lot and we really aren't ready for a whole lot of traffic yet ...

but ...


Yes, you read that here first. Check this out: Never Enough Wool

This is still a work in progress, but definitely a step in the right direction. I'm so thrilled!

Finally, I have a mystery. I had a lovely customer come into the shop and purchase some wool to make a baby dress. She happily made her purchase and went on her way. Sometime after starting the project, however, she misplaced the pattern. A thorough search of her home, car and cottage have failed to produce the pattern. All we know is that it was an older booklet, probably from Beehive. Does anyone recognize this?

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cross that one off!

I really don't know why I did it. After all, ignorance is bliss. And we all know that I'm a one-project-at-a-time kind of a girl. So ... imagine my surprise when I discovered the following list of projects underway:

Black alpaca double knit mittens -- one mitt complete, one more needed. The yarn is Araucania Atacama, which has unfortunately been discontinued. Now that I've found a glorious project for it.
Green alpaca double knit mittens -- one mitt done to the thumb, one complete mitt needed. The yarn is Luxury Alpaca Paint, another discontinued yarn. Dang, I hate when I finally find a fabulous project and the yarn is discontinued!
Great American Aran Afghan -- 12 squares completed, two more to catch up to the knitalong group. I'm using Patons Canadiana, oatmeal colour. This will be a wonderful afghan when it's done.
Girl's size 4 cardigan, hat & mittens -- to be donated to The Refuge, preferably before the holidays. I'm planning to use Sirdar Snuggly DK and an old, old pattern. Stay tuned!
Holiday scarf -- knit from On-Line Starlight/Linie 218. I'm doing a very simple design of K2 tog, YO across; knit one row; YO, K2 tog; knit one row. Very simple, yet elegant.
Misti Suri Alpaca & Silk shawl -- the Lotus Blossom shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Currently working on the first set of charts for the blossoms -- maybe 60% finished.
Baby boy sweater & hat -- to be a gift for friends of my eldest son. These would be the folks whose Obama/Biden campaign sign mysteriously disappeared off their front lawn on the evening of October 12 ...
Socks -- the ever-present pair of socks that I'm always carrying around with me. No pattern, boring as all get out. Turning the first heel on this pair.
Double-knit hat -- because a customer wants to make one and I couldn't find a plain pattern for her, I am designing and knitting one. Using wool that my step-daughter and her mother brought home for me from their England/Scotland trip this fall.
Baby blankets -- my friend Barb and I are committed to designing six baby blankets and compiling them into a booklet to sell at the shop. My contribution will be an entrelac design and a mock cable design.
Carrie's afghan -- she decided that her afghan could be a wee bit longer, and I do agree. Rather than add fringe (shudder), I have decided to take back the top border and add another pattern repeat. This counts as "on the needles" because if I don't, I may never get back to it!
Toddler Double-knit mittens -- using the same pattern but smaller yarn and needles (way smaller needles), one can knit up toddler mittens instead of adult mittens. But wait -- these are done like dinner! These little wee mittens were knit using one ball of Regia 4-ply sock wool and 2.5mm needles. Tedium knitting since the process is basically knit 1, purl 1 ribbing, but ... little fingers will be warm and toasty.

Afghan to be donated to the church-- My church is having a fundraiser on the 29th of November. Pausing for thought, it seems to me that I've been blessed with talents working with wool. I thought it would be nice for me to use those talents and make an afghan to donate. Four weeks later, here it is:
This afghan comes from Seasonal Knit Afghans by Rena V. Stevens, published as book no. 4446 from LeisureArts. The pattern itself is called Sumer Willows. Here is a close-up:
I used 11 balls of Patons Canadiana in Aran and the suggested 10mm needle. An easy knit once you get accustomed to the large needles. This afghan seriously only took about 4 weeks from start to finish. I admit that I worked pretty seriously on it -- tried to get 5 rows completed every night. Tried, mind you, not that I was always successful. In any event, I'd say this was a successful project.

So that's twelve active projects--down from 14. What is this world coming to?!?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Please note that the title of this post has absolutely no relationship to the content. Why is the title "Yes!!"? Because I've been trying for the last three hours to upload the photos in the proper sequence. And wait on customers. And keep a smile on my face. "YES!!!" signifies that I've finally, YES, FINALLY, gotten the photos to load in the sequence I want. How? Load them backwards. First time I've ever had to do it this way, but ... well, it worked. Who am I to look a blog-horse in the mouth?

In the weeks since I posted Barb's adventure in steeking, I've been knitting. Rather steadily, in fact, but with little finished product to show. This perhaps is due to the afghan that I'm making for my church, and the shawl that I've ripped back twice. Since I'm still enjoying the knitting, however, I'm not gonna complain.

What I AM going to do is show you this lovely cardigan that I completed for myself. The cardigan comes from Classic Style Book 16 from RYC. The design itself is called "Charm" and is pictured on page 20 of the book. Originally designed for RYC Silk Wool DK, I used a yarn from Luxury containing silk and alpaca. Currently, the closest comparable is a Debbie Bliss yarn. The colour in the second photo is most accurate ... I used 10 balls of the wool as there apparently is significantly more yardage in the Luxury ball than the RYC.

I made no changes to the pattern--simply knit it as directed. Here is a detail of the leaves on the back of the sweater.
This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite sweaters. It is cozy, cuddly, stylish, and warm. Not to mention how most folks really like it! A delightful knit--if anyone is considering this project, I'd say "Go for it! NOW!"

In other news ... earlier in the summer, I cast on and finished a pair of socks for Doug. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting up the Ranco; the feel of the wool is great, the colourway was enticing. Doug thoroughly enjoyed wearing them. Then they were washed.

Now I admit that our version of "hand wash" involves the front loading washing machine. But it also includes a lingerie bag and cold water. Cold water. The socks shrank. But he could still wear them, and he did. A second washing--and Doug put the socks onto the handy, dandy sock stretchers to dry.

What happened next? It was a sad and terrible day at our house. Doug told me that the socks shrank yet again, despite the sock stretcher. And they would no longer fit him. In fact, they now were mine. (I tried desperately to keep a straight face. His telling me this, coming upon the heels {a pun--did you get it?} of my admitting to him that the alpaca double knit mitts at the store wouldn't fit him either, but fit me perfectly. Well, who wouldn't have exclaimed "YES!" complete with a fist pump?)

So they became mine and I wore them.
Turns out the socks are laughing at Doug, lying there oh so innocently where he can see that they are being worn and loved. I say, laughing at him. Loudly and long.

But who has the last laugh?
These are socks knit from Noro Kureyon sock wool, and he loves them. Just as much as he loved the Ranco socks.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Adventures in Steeking--Part 2

As promised, here is the continuation of Barb's steeking adventure. You will recall that she had steeked the armholes, completed the 3-needle bind off for the shoulders and picked up stitches for the collar in our last visit.

She came back to the shop on Saturday and presented us with the finished collar. It looks beautiful, although a little wonky what with the neckline shaping not cut out.
So she obligingly removed the offending piece.

Having finished off the neckline, the almost final step is to steek the front and make the sweater into a cardigan.
Once the sweater has become a cardigan, it is easy to sneak a peek into the interior of the sweater. Philosopher's Wool kits use a delightful technique whereby you carry the main colour in one hand, the second colour in the second hand, and wrap the stitches very stitch. This makes a very firm and solid fabric where there is no danger that one will snag an unwary finger in the floats on the reverse side.
Indeed, the back side of the knit is almost as beautiful as the front side. Barb used a mattress stitch to attach the sleeves, and she pronounces the seam "perfect."

Of course, the million dollar question is this: Will the sweater fit the intended recipient?

The answer?
Yup. Barb reports that her mother is not normally a domonstrative person. So when she sat with the sweater in her lap all afternoon, petting it and admiring the colours, Barb interprets that to be akin to jumping with joy.

After all, we are!

PS. Barb's dad wants a sweater too. After having said "never again," this time Barb said "Next year!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adventures in Steeking--part 1

Barb, my intrepid knitter friend, accompanied me to the Knitter's Fair last year. Where she fell in love with a Philosopher's Wool sweater kit. Silly me--I thought she knew that Philosopher's Wool always steeked their sweaters. Unfortunately, she was not aware of this. Bravely, she soldiered on.

The sweater was a gift for her mom's birthday. She started knitting in January, hoping that she'd be done in time. Gauge was spot on so the sleeves went off without a hitch. The body of the sweater, being a trifle larger than the sleeves, took longer. Being fair isle, it was also heavier than a "normal" sweater, which Barb found to be a pain in her arms and elbows. The birthday came and went, but Barb persevered.

This past week, she achieved completion of the knitting. NOW, it was time to steek. Being the brave person she is, Barb brought the sweater in for an afternoon knitting group to demonstrate. Here you see her explaining the process.
At this point, the machine stitching for the bands, neckline and sleeves has been done and the button and buttonhole bands are attached and knitted. Barb measured twice, took a deep breath and started.

At this point in the process, her hands are rock steady. Her voice hasn't really cracked once. She gives the appearance of being totally cool, calm and collected. Unlike the audience.
Once the sleeve holes are steeked, the shoulder seams can be inserted. Barb has chosen to use a 3-needle-bind-off technique to give the shoulders extra stability. Then she picks up the stitches for the collar and knits away merrily.
Doesn't she look pleased? And relieved? Stay tuned--we'll have photos of the finishing touches--cutting out the neckline area, separating the two fronts and the sleeves fully inserted. And the finished sweater on the model! Yippee!

Barb's only comment at the end of Wednesday? "I'm so not doing this again!"

One thing I've learned in life is "Never say never." We'll see if Barb holds to this statement.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good news -- they're finished!

It's been a busy week for me and mine. Carrie is back in school, Improv is practicing, and Sobey's is booking plenty of hours for the daughter. With the price of gasoline these days, instead of heading home after work, I just hang out at the store and ... knit. (You expected something else? Silly people!) The extra couple of hours each week means that I am finishing up some projects that have been ... languishing ... while I tried to work up some enthusiasm for them again.

I brought in all the colours of Twilley's Freedom Spirit this year. Last year there were a select few colours, and they were extremely well received. So this year I decided to splurge. And once they were here, I needed a sample. Really, I did. (Not convinced? You are a tough crowd!)

This is the Hooded Jacket (leaflet #9058) from Tilley's, knit in colour no. 507 (Essence). It required 10 balls to make the 32" bust, which is exactly what the pattern specified. I have just enough left to sew the buttons on, as soon as I get them. Button shopping will hopefully take place in the upcoming weekend.

In August we taught a class here in the shop making cardigans from Patons Upside-Downers (#718). For my class project, I decided to make a small cardigan using Araucania Nature Wool (2 skeins). Not too far into the project I decided that I should make this as a gift for my little nephew, Sammy. Planning ahead for the holidays and all, doncha know?

The buttons are Incomparable Buttons. I've just gotten them into the shop this fall, and I'm so excited to be able to offer them. The buttons are Fair Trade, and 100% hand-crafted in South Africa. Want a closer look? Here you go:

I hope that Sammy and my sister both love them as much as I do, and the sweater as well. The upside down raglan is a nice touch -- the only seaming on the entire sweater is when you attach the button band to the body of the sweater. Nice touch, that.

And, finally, I bring you a photo of my little kitty Lizzie. She much prefers to work with alpaca, but in a pinch, Canadiana will do.

Currently in the project bag -- Great American Aran Afghan (9 of 24 squares completed) using Patons Canadiana; Charm from Classic Style/RYC (ready to knit on the button bands and collar); basic sock using Kureyon sock yarn; and a generic Feather & Fan pattern stole using Misti International hand paind Baby SuriSilk in colour 08 Manhattan Rose. (Ooo-la-la. This stuff is fabulous!)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Retail Therapy

Remember way back when Carrie and I went to the Stitch 'n Pitch game? And I promised you some retail therapy results? Well, today I am finally going to show you what we did way back in August.

One excuse for attending the Stitch 'n Pitch is to see what the sponsors are offering. This year if you brought in your ticket stub before the end of August, you would receive a 15% discount at the participating shops.

Carrie and I had doctor's appointments in Toronto for the day after the game, so we drove in and spent the morning chatting with the doc. In order that the drive to Toronto would not be wasteful in that only one errand was accomplished, we decided to visit some of the sponsors on our way home. We chose our shops based upon the location -- they had to be easy to find since my Toronto maps are currently living in my son's car -- in Michigan!

We started with the Knitter's Attic in Richmond Hill. They are on Yonge Street, the longest street in North America. Even I -- directionless Carol -- should be able to find Yonge Street. Especially if I can have two tries at it. (Who knew there would be a Yonge Avenue in Toronto? What's this with re-using names anyway?!) This is a delightful shop, filled to the brim with delectable yarns and goodies. They carry many of the same lines that I do -- but wait, there's more! Lot's more. Carrie and I had a wonderful time browsing and browsing.

Of course, one can't browse forever. I found some Noro Silk Garden Lite to come home with me, along with this pattern book. I am hoping that the 3 balls of Noro will be enough to make something -- anything. There is no specific project in mind for it. Any suggestions?

Turns out that I am a sucker for patterns for babies, especially those published by Mandarin. They knit up beautifully in Sirdar Snuggly .

We continued up Yonge Street until we found Needles & Knits in Aurora. Another very nice shop, rooms filled with wool. They also have a shop cat -- of course I forget the name, but a gorgeous kitty. Probably part Maine Coone, and extremely friendly. He likes to hang out in the back room where the sale yarn is stored. Guess what Carrie found in the sale room?

This is a Phildar yarn called Giboulees. (Sorry, I can't find an on-line link to any info. on this yarn.) Carrie saw it and immediately thought of her friend in Michigan. I did too, actually, so the yarn had to come home with us. Carrie is hoping this will be a Christmas gift ...

Finally, we ventured up to New Market to Serenity Knits. I'd been warned about this shop. They carry alot of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden wools. And we all know that I'm a sucker for Handmaiden. (Carrie had strict instructions at this point--if she saw me approaching the check-out with an armfull of wool, she was to immediately throw a body block and drag me kicking and screaming from the store. Fortunately, this was not necessary.)

We browsed and browsed. And browsed some more. Finally, I decided to bring this little baby home with me:
Handmaiden Casbah. After all, it isSOCK yarn for goodness sake. We all know that I have this ... this THING for sock yarn. And Handmaiden. Combined. How could I resist? (sob--there were more skeins there waiting to be adopted!) I have fondled the yarn extensively. It's not quite ready to grow up and be knit though. Soon.

My intrepid knitter friend Barb? Save your lunch money and we'll take a road trip. It's DEFINITELY worth it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How do you know it's fall?

We've been discussing this topic at our house quite a bit. I maintain that fall arrives when the sky turns that lovely vibrant blue against the snowy white clouds. And when it gets cool enough at night that one needs a blanket to stay warm.

Doug maintains that fall has arrived when the first leaf is found on the ground.

Carrie claims that fall arrives when you go back to school, or the fall equinox, or whatever that thing is called. She was especially glad when I told her that it happens in September, not August.
I have, however, learned a new way to determine fall's arrival.

It would be the arrival of the big fall order of yarns from the warehouse.

This year I was prepared. I spent the morning boxing up and taking away the summer yarns. So long Carezza! Bye-bye Just Bamboo! Hasta la vista Hempathy! Then I dragged all the other yarn out of the closet so that I could restock and reorganize myself.

After a bite to eat, I drove up to the warehouse to retrieve the order. 10 very full garbage bags of wool later, this is what the shop looked like:

I would add that there were still four bags of yarn in the trunk. I seem to have forgotten that they were there. Impressive, yes? What was I thinking?!

After hours and hours of labour, moving yarn, scratching my head, and sorting, I was done.

A very nice recovery, if I do say so myself. The closet is now full. As in be careful when you open the door or it'll explode out like a jack-in-the-box full. There is a box of yarn under the cradle holding inventory. AND there are three bags of wool in the trunk of my car.

In addition to the storage unit.

Have I mentioned that my next shop is gonna be a bit bigger?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stitch 'n Pitch

My daughter and I attended the Stitch 'n Pitch event sponsored by the TNNA and major league baseball, along with two friends. Did I remember to bring my camera? Nope. Did my daughter remember to bring hers? Nope. There are various blogs with photos of the big event here
Alas, none of us are in the photos. "Next year," says we, "we'll remember our cameras.

In any event, we went to the game. Ordered the tickets via telephone too late to be mailed, so we were retrieving them at the event. Per the telephone instructions, we presented ourselves at Gate 1, photo ID in hand. No tickets there. I persevered, insisting on speaking to all four employees at the window. Carrie was becoming increasingly nervous that I would explode --do the whole Mama Bear routine and everything. But I didn't. Why? Because I am woman!

In any event, Gate 1 advised that we needed to go to Gate 9. Carrie and I hauled off to Gate 9, halfway around the stadium. Whereupon we were advised to return to Gate 1 for our tickets.

Carrie cowered there in the rain, shielding herself from the inevitable falling debris.

What did I do? Very calmly said, "No. No we don't pick up our tickets at Gate 1. I spoke to each and every employee at Gate 1, and the tickets are not there. We pick them up at Gate 9."

At this point, Carrie thinks that perhaps the Second Coming is imminent. After all, I remained calm in the face of this adversity.

The hapless employee just looked at me blankly, discerned accurately that I was not moving, and started talking to people there at the "will call" gate. Are we surprised that the tickets were indeed to be retrieved from Gate 9? Not a bit. Are we surprised that I was as calm and collected as I was? Not me. As I explained to Carrie on the way back to Gate 1, the point of talking to everyone at Gate 1 was to be able to assure the folks at Gate 9 that I was indeed at the right place to pick up my tickets, saving myself having to do the table-tennis routine of bouncing from Gate 1 to Gate 9 to Gate 1 to Gate 9 ad nauseum. Speaking sternly to the folks at Gate 1 insured that I would be able to talk to each and every one of them. (I noted her filing this battle tactic away carefully. I hope and pray that it won't come back to haunt me.)

With tickets in hand, we waltzed past the ticket-takers and proceeded to the goody table. After all, the goody bag was the whole reason for being there, right? Baseball? Did someone say something about baseball?

Apparently there had been some hype about the large dollar value of the bag contents. I wasn't aware of that, so I couldn't be disappointed about the contents of the bag. My bag:Three nice pattern books, a handful of tear-off patterns (available from any Michael's, Wal-Mart or Zellers), a Soak sample, a free admission to the Creative Festival in October, and a ball of yarn. Where's the yarn?

Carrie had much the same bag as mine, although her magazines were different. I received the purple-ish 100 gr. ball of Sirdar, which Carrie promptly started knitting into a scarf for a certain cousin's Christmas gift. Purple and glitter. What more could a young lady want? She scored the two balls of Sirdar Legends DK ... very nice looking yarn and she has proudly added it to her stash. (Hmm. Note to self--I should get a photo of her stash. It's so cute -- and tiny!) She also got a ticket to the Creative Festival and we are planning a girls' day out in October, providing she doesn't get scheduled to work that day.

So the game started and the Jays promptly fell behind. About the beginning of the 7th inning, friend Irene leaned over and said to me, "We could make the 9:13 train if we left now." I thought about it for a minute or less and decided that I was just fine--the night was young and hope still springs eternal.

In the bottom of the 9th inning, the Jays tied the game. It had become quite apparent that Irene and Kathy were far more devoted baseball fans than Carrie and I. I had a feeling I was in trouble, but I had to ask. I leaned over to Irene and said, "So what's your position on extra innings?" To which she calmly and quickly replied, "The last train doesn't leave until midnight."

Fortunately the Jays came through with a nice base hit and brought two runners in to win the game. Whew!

All in all, it was a great evening and one that certainly bears repeating. Next year I'll promote it a bit heavier at the store and see if we can get a larger gang down there.

And an update vis-a-vis the bully employer. It is most fortunate that Doug and I are friends with lawyers. If the paycheque does not arrive in the mail by tomorrow (if it was in fact mailed on Monday as the owner claimed it would be, Friday should be plenty of time), the lawyer will send a written demand for payment along with an outline of the next steps which will be taken. The lawyer actually liked the idea of a picket line, but Carrie isn't quite that brazen.


After all, she IS my daughter.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I know this is supposed to be a knitting blog. Well, primarily a knitting blog.

But today's post isn't about knitting. Not even related.

It's about bullies. You know who they are -- the little kids in the sandbox who won't let you play with their shovel. The kid who takes every yellow dump truck so that no one else can play with them.

When they grow older, they are the ones who push the little kids off the swings so they can swing. Push themselves to the front of the line so that they get to go down the slide without waiting.

In high school, they are the ones who decide who is "cool" and who is not. They decide who gets pushed into the lockers, locked into the lockers, laughed at, jeered at, and/or ignored.

Sad to say, bullies don't magically outgrow their need to bully when graduation happens. No, folks, they continue on into the adult world.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, they end up in positions with so little power that they end up in the corner by themselves, sulking. If you aren't lucky, they end up in an office where they manipulate, lie, and twist themselves into a sort of power.

If you are really unlucky, they end up owning businesses. Making life for some hapless employee hell.

Being who I am, I've had my fair share of bully experiences. I don't see myself as someone who doesn't take crap from anyone. Others may have a different view of me--but I can only speak of my personal view. And I don't stand up for myself very well. Or for those I love.

I've tried to teach my children to treat others kindly, be respectful of others, of authority. Mayhaps I did too fine a job with my daughter.

You see, she's been working for a couple of years for someone who in my opinion is a bully. For most of the time, his boorishness has been directed at others. She thought things were pretty good in the workplace, that they understood each other and things were cool.

Unfortunately, she was incorrect in this belief. She ended up looking for and acquiring a new job. His parting shot? Because he could (because he employs teens who have little recourse and even less respect from the powers that be), he has withheld her last paycheque. In violation of the Labour Standards Act, and every shred of moral decency.

You may be wondering the point of this post. I am too, quite frankly.

I wish that I had encouraged her to quit months ago when I became aware of the lengths to which this guy would go to make himself feel better by bullying his employees, both past and present.

I wish that I knew how to be a more effective advocate for the disenfranchised ... both in relation to this employer and to the world as a whole.

I wish I knew how to make certain that my babies (all four of them) never had to stand by impotently when some arrogant jerk laughs at them and refuses to release their paycheques.

That just isn't right.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I've been remiss

I just can't get over how quickly time flies. I know that I say that all the time. Enough times that it sounds trite and meaningless. But I do mean it, truly I do.

For instance, Doug and I went to Michigan to retrieve my lovely daughter from her visit with her father. When was that? Would you believe that was the weekend of July 20? Me neither, but that's what the calendar claims.

The designated weekend began with a trip to Fort Custer Rec. Center near Augusta, Mich. Why? Because it has one of the sweetest mountain bike trails that I ever hope to see. Doug and I like to ride, and we ride hard. We do not do the extreme variety of biking which requires one to maneuver across bridges just wide enough for your tires, elevated trails, or really BIG jumps. We like two-track trails between the trees with switchbacks, bouncing over roots and rocks, some challenging up-hill climbs followed by thrilling down-hill rides. More than the average ride you'll get on a paved bike trail around here, in other words. Fort Custer is maintained by the Southwest Michigan Mountain Biking Association, and they do a tremendous job creating and maintaining. In fact, they do their job well enough that we always purchase a one-year pass to the Michigan State Parks, even though we don't even live in Michigan. How's that for a great recommendation?

The second thing we did that weekend was visit with family -- lots of family. I have five brothers and sisters, and four of them live near Battle Creek. Along with their spouses and children. There's a lot of us. Did I take photos? Nope. Just snapshots with my heart. Dang, I do miss seeing them more often.

The third thing that we did that weekend, and one that I try to always do when in the area, is visit my favorite yarn shop in the Battle Creek area. Yes, I do have a favorite yarn shop in most areas that I visit. For this area, it's the Yarn Garden in Charlotte, Michigan. The owner, Lindsay, has done a marvelous job collecting an assortment of delectable yarns, patterns, buttons, shawl pins, and especially the atmosphere of that place. It's a good thing for me that I don't live any closer than I do, because I always find at least one item to purchase there.

Did I say purchase? Why, yes. Yes, I did.
Doesn't that look interesting? After two weeks, it is still all contained in the original bag. I take things out, spread them around and look at them, fondle the yarn, dream about the finished item ... But they are not quite yet ready to grow up, move into stash or become finished. So they stay in the bag, near the knitting light so that I can just casually reach over and ... So what did I find too irresistible for words?

This is O-Wool Balance, destined to be a dress for my little niece. She will be one year old on the 28th of August, and I think this little dress and the hat -- oh my goodness, the cuteness of the hat -- will be perfect for her. She isn't quite walking yet, and her birthday is rapidly approaching, so I think I'll make the largest size for her for next spring/summer. Besides, she only wears a hat for the 30 seconds it takes for her to find it on her head and rip it off. Maybe by next year she'll be more fashionable?

I have wondered about getting something glittery and sparkly for my own shop. This wool, called Yin and Yang, from Southwest Trading Company was just lying there, calling sweetly in my ear. Coincidentally, there was a pattern right there as well. Talk about good planning, eh? (Doug--it's all in the name of market research, really.)

And THIS--
The photos in the pattern do not do it justice. This is truly an amazing wrap. Very many different stitch combinations, and done up in Noro? Breathtaking. My fingers are all itchy, my breathing is rapid, my heart is palpitating ... All over again. Must.Finish.One.Project.First.

Truly in the name of market research, I also purchased these single balls of Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton and Cotton Patine. I've wondered about bringing in these two lines for next summer, and I figure this is the best way to decide. Actually knit with 'em.

Since this post only covers through July 20 weekend and Blogger seems to limit the number of photos to 5 per post, you'll just have to wait to see what else I've been up to. But I'll give you a hint -- Stitch 'n Pitch and retail therapy.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's about time!

In my previous post, I promised a good photo of my haul from The Knitting Den in South Lyon. At long last, here it is--
Two hanks of Auracania Ranco Multi -- colour nos. 308 (browns) and 305 (greens). These are destined to become socks for Doug, in appreciation for all the driving he does on my behalf.

I had initially ordered these yarns in for the store way back in late October or November of last year, to be delivered in January. When the end of March rolled around and the sales rep. was making his pitch for spring/summer yarns, the Ranco had still not arrived. Hmm. So I canceled the order, with regrets because I had really wanted that yarn.

In other knitting news, I had a customer who came in with a Mary Maxim sweater that needed to be finished. The back was "almost done." I should learn to be more skeptical. The back was done up to the beginning of the fair isle panel. So I finished it, and the rest of the sweater.
All in all, I have to say that it did turn out nicely. I really like that mock cable pattern in the lower section. Wouldn't it make a great baby blanket? I'm working that up next so that I have an additional easy blanket pattern for my customers.

We are celebrating Christmas in July at the store. Helping people remember that the holiday is only 5 months away ... and they do go by oh-so-quickly.
Carrie assisted me with the window displays. The sheep wearing the Santa hat is her special contribution. Cute, eh? That's why I keep her!

What is coming in my next post? Well, there was a second trip to Michigan and a visit to my other favorite not-so-LYS ...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mini vacations

Now that I have the wool shop, my hubby and I don't get too many vacations. So we seize those opportunities that present themselves by way of long weekends and trips to Michigan to have a little fun. Interestingly enough, our idea of "fun" and the daughter's idea of "fun" just don't seem to mesh up. So we delivered her safely to her father and brother, and took off.

We had previously biked at Island Lake Rec. area with some friends several years ago. With that in mind (and a potential detour to Windsor), we hauled the bicycles with us on the trek to the border. Doug's memory was excellent and he drove us directly to the park, where we were pleased to learn that our collective memory of how nice the park is was also correct.

There was a very nice gentleman filling up his water bottle with whom we chatted. He suggested that we might like the Blue Loop--there wasn't very much sand in the trail. And when I say "sand," I do mean sand--inches deep and very difficult to ride through. So we ventured out onto the Blue Trail. This picture shows how happy Doug is with our decision. The trail was developed by the Southwest Michigan Mountain Biking Association. Their signature style was evident--the trail was mostly single track, winding through the trees with frequent turns and overhanging brush. The trail itself was mostly flat -- about 7 miles of flat -- interspersed with some very challenging up-hills and some truly exhilarating downhill stretches. All in all, a 9.25 mile ride, and worth every bit of the energy and time expended.

Originally we had planned to swing through Windsor to visit some friends there (Hi Louise!). Unfortunately, they were not available by telephone for several days prior to the trip and the day of, so we made a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants decision and called my good friend Phyllis. She and her husband live not far from Island Lakes and were the persons who introduced us to the park. They were home and suggested we should come right over. Then they insisted that we should spend the night and not go to some impersonal hotel. Wonderful friends, these two. So we did.

In the morning, Phyllis and her husband had to go off to work at a very early hour. We stayed in bed and out of their way while they did their morning routines. After their departure we did an abbreviated morning routine and departed as well. Looking for breakfast, we ventured into South Lyon (MI) and found this delightful coffee shop, the Gallery Cafe.

We had two different breakfast sandwiches (bagel with egg & sausage or bacon) and a fine cuppa tea and coffee. (I'm still not drinking coffee much and not missing it a bit!)
This coffee shop does an awful lot of things right in my humble opinion. They have a selection of board games, children's activity toys, plenty of room for tables, a piano, good food and a very nice atmosphere. If ever you are in South Lyon, I suggest a stop here.

On our way to Phyllis' house on Sunday evening, Doug wondered outloud "Isn't there a wool shop somewhere close by?" I looked up from the directions and immediately saw this:
The Knitting Den in South Lyon. I swear that man has wool radar, and he doesn't even knit! Or crochet! Or weave! Or spin! He just has a knack for finding wool. Gotta love that in a non-knitter. This little house hosts the wool shop on the main floor and it is filled with more wool than one can imagine. Well, perhaps not. In any event, we browsed for quite some time, and I even purchased some wool. No photo of it, darn! You'll just have to wait until next time!

Ta-ta for now!