Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Yarn Bombing

Finally, we got everything together and had a yarn bombing.  What is a yarn bombing?  Well, it looks a lot like this:

When we first started tdhis little endeavour, we expected to display everything locally before delivery.  Unfortunately, fates and the weather did not cooperate with us. 

We selected a local woman's shelter for our charity of choice.  Because of the nature of its clientele, we are not divulging the location or name, but it is a great choice. 

Many thanks to the Anonymous Knitters from Never Enough Wool.  We couldn't have done it without your help.

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's a cowl-iday!

What's this?   Early last month, Carrie came home for the weekend.  We celebrated the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, but not with traditional foods.  We had a lovely pork loin, with parsnips, and rutabaga, and squash.  Doug and I have been experimenting with different vegetables and we decided to include Carrie in the festivities.  She actually quite liked the rutabaga and squash.  We still need to find a nicer way to prepare parsnips.  If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears. 

Since the weather was so nice, we decided to go for a walk in the woods, which is one of Carrie's favourite things to do when home for the weekend.  The weather may have been nice, but I still needed these:

 Double-knit mittens!  Of course, some of you may recognize the yarn from March of 2011; that particular project has been frogged.  I still love the design, still love the double knit vest idea.  The multi-colour yarn just wasn't working.  I had hoped it would give a nice fair-isle look, but it was too busy.  I have a selection of single skeins of super-wash wool, so ultimately the vest will be knit.  Just not right now. 

So if I've given up on the vest, what HAVE I been knitting?

We had a class on mobius cowls at the store for November.  Complete with the Lucy Neatby mobious cast-on.  Let me tell you, THAT cast on is a brain-twister.  My first mobius ended up being twisted twice, which just didn't work.  So I had to frog that.  Undeterred, I started again. 
 Success!  The cowl is actually long enough that it can wrap around my neck twice, which means that I'll have a lovely warm neck when the winter winds blow.  The yarn is our own -- Never Enough Wool sock yarn, dyed by Barb, Sue and myself.  I called the colour "Chocolate-covered Orange."   The design is from Knitscene Accessories, and is called "Roam Cowl."  I quite like both the design and the wool. 

Since I had managed to mess up my first mobious attempt, I HAD to try again.  This is a Lucy Neatby design that I found on Ravelry.  I used two skeins of Patons Shetland Chunky and a 6.0mm needle.  Of course, I looked at the instructions and thought that the cowl would be too small and added 10 extra stitches.  Once finished, I find that the smaller number of stitches would have been better.  The cowl isn't long enough to wrap twice, and too long to wrap once.
 Also, the peculiar construction of a mobious means that the right side is also the wrong side, and this specific design has a definite right and wrong side.  And again, due to the peculiarity of the mobious, both sides can and do show.  I won't be doing this one again, that's for certain.

And then, much to my horror and disgrace, I discovered that I had assisted one of our students to create a double twist in HER mobious.  In penance, I decided that I should knot yet another mobious just to be sure that I could visually assure the cast on and first row were done correctly.
 This cowl was also found on Ravelry.  It's very simple, actually.  A section of knit-side facing, an eyelet row, more knit-side facing.  Then some purl-side facing, an eyelet row, more purl side facing.  And a cast off.  The picture doesn't really show how wide this cowl is.  One could wear this as a shawl, or shoulder-warmer if desired, or even wrap around the neck one more time.  Plenty of room.

Interestingly, I cast on 160 stitches for my first mobious, and 170 for this green one.   If you tip your head, you can see that there is a huge difference in length between the two scarves.  Far more than 20 stitches.  Why is that, I wondered. 
And then I remembered.  The orange cowl has a regular cast off, done as loosely as I could.  I didn't have enough yarn to actually finish the seventh row of the pattern, so had to go back to row 6 and then cast off.  Didn't have enough to work the stretchy cast-off.  The green cowl had plenty of yarn.  So I was able to work the requisite stretch cast-off -- knit two stitches, then knit through the front of them, leaving one stitch on the right-hand needle; lather, rinse, repeat.   Big difference between the regular and the stretchy cast-off.  Lesson learned!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's still October, so I'm OK.

Despite my best intentions of doing a blog post every Friday, I seem to have failed miserably.  Except for one thing -- it's STILL October.  So I'm not as far behind as I might have been.  Whew.

I still have plenty of older knits to show off, but today you will be seeing some newer items.  First off, my friend Michelle shaved her head in a fund raising effort for cancer research.  She was beautiful with her hair; without, she's absolutely stunning.  But she often rides her bicycle to work, and I didn't want her to be cold.  So I whipped up this little hat:

 I used one skein of Berroco Vintage Chunky in a dark grey, which was her stated preference.  Starting at the top with 5.0mm needles, I cast on 8 stitches and knit one row.  Second row was a knit one, yarn over all the way around, and then a round of knit all.  I continued increasing until I had the dimension I was after, then continued the yarn overs and compensated by working a knit two together before the yarn over.  Result:  a nice swirl, and a really comfortable hat.  Easy, easy, easy.  And quick!

Next up in this parade of photos is a little baby gift I made for the daughter and son-in-law of some dear friends.  These friends had two daughters, and now one daughter is expecting a boy!  Yippee!  My friends are thrilled to have the opportunity to feature largely in the upbringing of a little boy. 
 The yarn is King Cole Baby yarn, purchased when Lewiscraft closed down their stores.  It really isn't a DK weight, which made it perfect for the pattern.  The pattern is from Naturally, and of course it is at home so I don't have the pattern number.  Suffice to say, it doesn't look much like the picture on the pattern because I omitted the texture on the top of the sweater and just did the cable braid at the bottom.  I used less than one ball of yarn (the King Cole balls are quite large as you recall).  No time to make socks or booties ...

Doug was traveling to Picton to complete a construction job at the friends' house and I had to get things finished and packed.  Wisely, I decided to send the gift wrapped in tissue paper and in a gift bag.  Doug said that the first thing that happened beyond the "hi" greeting was the gift being opened and being properly appreciated.  Thanks, Carol!

Generally I'm not a ruffle girl.  I tend to prefer basic blue jeans and classic sweaters and tops.  But when the early Fall Vogue magazine arrived, I leafed through it and fell in love.  With THIS, if you can believe it!

I used four skeins of Cascade Lana Grande in a purple colour and one skein of Diamond Magic Nights.  (Yes.  Purple.  Do not adjust your colour settings.  I really fell off a cliff with this one!)  The design can be found on page 61 of the magazine.  I found one little mistake in the pattern.  They would have you work the ruffle on the inside of the sweater, and not the outside.  Other than that, it was a great pattern.  Now to find an occasion to wear this oh-so-girly sweater.

In other news and activities for the month of October -- Sue, Barb and I got together for a little fun with wool and dyes.  This month we used wool from a new company and we are thrilled with the results.  The yarn absorbed the dye beautifully and the colours set well. 
 Every time we get together, we try something new.  This month we tried our hands at immersion dying. 
Waiting patiently ... 
 When I saw the experiment working, I have to admit that I jumped up and down and squealed like a pre-teen seeing Justin Bieber on her front lawn.  It was embarrassing!
But look how well the yarn took the dye!  The finished skein is currently sitting on the footstool in front of my knitting chair at home, so I can look at it constantly.  I have yet to wind it into a ball and decide what it wants to be.  Mostly, it wants to be admired.  Must be female wool, eh?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Time waits for no one

Turns out that time waits for no one, even tho we desperately wish it would.  Seems like just yesterday I was a new bride, a new mother ... mother of a kindergarten student, mother of a sixth-grader.  And now, I am the mother of a candidate for graduation from the University of Toronto, Victoria College.

Wednesday night was Charter and Convocation night.*  Doug and I drove down -- by which I mean that I drove, which is really rare these days -- to the University, parked the car and attended the Isabel Bader Theatre.  As is generally the case, the evening was filled with pomp and circumstance.  Plenty of speeches, some notable and some not.  The president of VUSAC -- the Victoria student council -- spoke and his speech was great.  Witty, serious, and short.

And the awards. Vic. College is blessed with a multitutde of good scholars.  The recipients of awards for maintaining an A average in first and second years were honoured from their seats.  The third year students were honoured from stage.   To-wit,

The Romans Family Scholarship is awarded to a  student who maintains an A average and also participates "significantly" in the life of Victoria College.  Carrie was selected from the entire student population of Vic. College to receive this award.

I'm so proud!

Carrie then toured us around campus, where we got to see several buildings which she holds dear to her heart.  The dining hall reminds me so much of Hogwarts it isn't funny.  As did the black scholar gowns.  Hmm.

I was also introduced to several -- make that many -- of Carrie's friends on campus.  She was thrilled to be able to do so.

Thursday afternoon she called me at the store to say "thank you for coming last night."  She recognizes that it's a long drive and required both Doug and I to take time off work.  It was worth it.  Very much so.

To all those folks who claim that it doesn't matter if parents attend events like these, or even less momentous ones like hockey and soccer games, I say "malarkay!  It DOES matter."  And it does.

*Please don't confuse Charter and Convocation Night with Graduation.  Graduation is when one has completed the degree requirements.  Charter and Convocation is simply an awards ceremony, without any degrees. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My new favourite ...

Last fall when Barb and I were meeting with sales representatives for the store, we were directed to the Drops Design website.  Originally we were looking for patterns to go with a nice new lace-weight yarn.  And then we stumbled across this design:  Bluebird

Barb and I both fell in love.  Completely, totally and instantly.  We didn't even bookmark the pattern; we printed it instantly.  And then wandered around the store looking for the perfect wool.  And scheming as to when and how we could work this sweater into our schedules. 

 Ultimately, we decided to cast on as our New Year's resolution.  I settled on the Sublime Merino/Cashmere/Silk dk, in a lovely blue (colour no. 247), called Ink. 

I even worked a gauge swatch, which told me I should use 4.5mm needles.  On January first, I poured my first cup of coffee and gleefully cast on.  I got half way up the back and then stood back and looked at my work.  It was large enough for me and my best friend.  I measured my stitches, and discovered that my gauge swatch lied. 

 Barb also pointed out to me that I am NOT 6'4", nor do I weight 250 lbs.  She recommended that I make the medium rather than the large, and to use 4.0mm needles.   I wasn't totally convinced, but reasoned that perhaps my daughter might like the sweater if I finished it and it was too small.  And I would've been right, if only the sweater had turned out to be too small. 

 It wasn't.  It fits beautifully.  And feels heavenly.  Soft, cozy and warm.  She was right on all counts.

While I was recuperating from my surgeries, this was the project of choice.  Once I got started, I didn't want to stop.  I'd knit and knit and knit.  Look at other projects that needed to be done, and go back to this one.  Knit, cable, knit.

The fronts were interesting.  There was a lot going on between the side shaping, buttonholes, cables, chart changes, armhole shaping, neckline shaping and collar shaping.  I ended up making myself a list so that I could keep things straight in my mind.  It helped, and I strongly recommend this technique to everyone.  And stitch markers.  They are our friends. 
 Just take a look at the back of this little beauty.  That celtic cable in the middle enhances the curves.  Adds interest and makes it even more fun to knit.

My goodness, what fun this was.  Every time I'd show up at the store with another piece finished, poor Barb would hiss and spit.  She was being diligent and dutiful and staying on task for her store projects, while I lounged recovered at home from the trauma of my surgeries.  It probably didn't help that I giggled out loud all the time I knit on this.

The worst thing for Barb?  This yarn has cashmere in it, and she is allergic.  She couldn't even pet the pieces as they came off the needles!
 And just look at the cuff on this!  Ruffled!  I'm not particularly "girly," but boy did this catch my eye and heart.

Simple to do -- simply cast on double the number of stitches required, work 3 rows in stocking stitch, and then purl 2 together across.  Then start your ribbing.  Viola!  The cutest little ruffle imaginable.

The pattern was free from Drops Design, which is always a nice touch.  Especially since the yarn is dear -- $9.95 a ball.  I used 16 balls too, so this is an expensive sweater.  But worth every last penny.  Absolutely worth every penny.  The knitting provided hours and hours of entertainment.  The wearing will provide hours of comfort.

All I have to do now is wait for the colder weather.  (Did I mention that I do a snow dance every night before bed?)

Before I go, I have something else to share with you.  My husband has been working with a gentleman named Alex McLaughlin on a house in Oshawa.  Alex had a video made of the renovation project, and here it is! 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Good bye, Pepper.

When my daughter and I moved in with Doug back in 2000,. he had two cats.  We had one, and that combination was almost more than we could bear.  His cats did not like that little hissy, spitty thing that arrived along with all those boxes.  They DID learn to tolerate each other, but barely.

Fast forward a couple of years, and then the step-daughter acquired a dog.  Not just a dog.  A big dog.  When I heard this, I exclaimed to Doug -- "Don't let her bring that dog here!"  You see, Carrie loves dogs.  She'd been asking for a dog for ages and we kept saying "no" because of the cats.  This was their house, and a dog just didn't fit.  Letting Pepper come would just give Carrie more ammunition for her requests. 

Sure enough, Emily asked if she could bring Pepper up for a visit.  "NO," says I.  "Yes," says Doug.  And so Pepper came for a visit. 

He had me at "hello." 

 Pepper had always been around cats.  In his mind, they were just peculiar looking dogs.  Or perhaps he was a peculiar looking cat.  In any event, he had never met a cat he didn't love.  Of course, our three hadn't been around dogs and so they saw him as the Big Furry Scarey Thing. 

His first visit, he bounced in and immediately headed over to the cats to say hello.  They got all Halloweeny on him, hissing and spitting.  This aroused his "protect my friends" mode, and he promptly placed himself between the cats and the enemy.  Of course, his moving closer just upset the cats more, which aroused more of the protection mode.  It was a pretty hilarious couple of minutes.  The cats then made themselves scarce, much to Pepper's dismay.

Over the next couple of years, Pepper did come to visit more than once.  Pretty much every time he arrived, the cats were frightened of the Big Furry Scarey Thing.  They did learn to tolerate him, provided he didn't get too close. 

 He was always hopeful that they could become friends.  Alas, it just didn't work out that way.  Meme went across the rainbow bridge, and six months later Henry followed. 

The next spring, 2011, Pepper had reached a stage where he couldn't live in Toronto anymore.  His hindquarters were making it too difficult for him to climb up and down the stairs where Emily's mother lived.  In addition, his insecurities were such that he would bark when he was left home alone.  Something had to change. 

And so we acquired a dog.  Carrie had gone off to university, and reached a stage in her life when she wasn't even coming home for the summers anymore.  Having Pepper here guaranteed that both she and Emily would visit on a semi-regular basis. 

Lizzie-kitty sort of accepted Pepper's presence.  His being here meant that there was the opportunity to steal some of his food, when we weren't looking.  It also meant that there was a big, comfy bed she could monopolize.  

 She didn't know Pepper's game, which was that the cat should run around the backs of the couches and chairs while he chased.  The barking always made her twitchy.  Likewise, Pepper didn't really know Lizzie's game; she would pop out in front of him and take a swipe (no claws), run about 10 feet away and flop down and wait for him to come nose her.  He always shied away from that invitation, probably wisely. But they both tried, in their own ways, to be friends.

Pepper loved being with his people.  If we were getting ready to go anywhere, he was right there asking to come with us.  Didn't matter where we went, or what we did.  He just wanted to be with his people. 
 After my surgeries earlier this year, when I started wanting to get out and do things, we started taking him for walks down at Long Sault Conservation Area.  He absolutely loved those walks.  The only time I saw him hang his head out the window to get a big snootful of fresh air was on the way to the  Conservation Area.  He would walk and walk, and could never quite understand why Doug and I quit before he was ready.  We knew he would pay for that long walk the next day, and wanted to time the walks such that the pain meds. would be sufficient to keep him comfortable.

Pepper was a happy guy.  One of his favourite activities in the evening was to bring you a toy to play tug of war.  When he got tired of one toy, or you stopped paying attention to it, he would go retrieve another toy.  One by one, he would bring you every toy he owned.  Not pushy, mind, just gently presenting you with another toy to pique your interest in playing with him again. 

One of my friends had warned me that the Metacam was a great drug for a dog, and it worked quite well.  Until the day it didn't. 

That day arrived.  Unheralded and unexpected.  After the fact, I noted that Pepper had stopped bringing us toys to play with.  If we went and fetched the toy, he would take it from us.  And drop it at his feet.  The evening walks started becoming shorter and shorter.  He needed assistance getting to his feet.  Then he stopped eating.  Sure, he'd take a treat.   But his regular food?  Nope.  We tried a different brand of dog food, which worked for a meal or two.  Tried a wet food, which worked for three meals.  He would lay on his side, unmoving, for hours.  If we approached him, he might wag his tail.  He might lick off the spoon used for feeding the cat, if he didn't have to lift his head.

In short, the joy had gone from his life. 

It all happened too quickly.  Emily had just moved to Vancouver, and was not able to get back.  Carrie came home from Toronto.  The three of us took Pepper into the vet.  Her bedside manner is impeccable, and they are so careful and gentle when sending our pets on their way.

I told Pepper that there was a land on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, with lakes to swim in, squirrels to chase, grass to roll in, and he wouldn't hurt any more; that he was the best dog in the whole world and how much he was loved and would be missed.  And we all kissed him, and scratched him behind the ears, and petted him gently, with tears rolling down our faces, and let him breathe his last.

He was the best dog in the world, with a heart as big as the whole outdoors.  And for a while, we were lucky enough to share his life.

Rest in peace, Pepper.  You are the best.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Seems I left you all wondering ...

Sorry 'bout that.  Things have been more than a little hectic around here  lately, and I forgot that I hadn't  told everyone the final results of the surgeries and such.

The thyroid biopsy had been sent out for a second opinion because the folks at Centenerary Hospital were hoping for a more definitive answer as to cancer or not.  After waiting another four weeks, the results came back.  You guessed it -- same as the first biopsy.  The endocrinoligist I'm seeing was actually pleased with the less than definitive results.  The blurrier the answer, the better for me he felt.  So we are going to be monitoring my throat area carefully and scheduling an ultrasound in November.  Additionally, he will be keeping my TSH levels slightly elevated so that any remaining thyroid cells won't feel the urge to kick into high gear, which could cause them to slide over into the cancer side of things.  All in all, I'm not at all upset with the results.

And you know what?  I'm feeling absolutely fabulous.  Haven't felt this well in years, actually.  I'm not sleeping until noon on my days off, nor am I taking naps.  In fact, Doug is beginning to wonder who this dynamo is that's sharing space with him.  In fact, today was 6 weeks (and a few days) post-surgery on the gall bladder and today was The Day for a bicycle ride.  We hopped onto the bikes and rode into and around Caesarea ... up some hills and down some hills.  It was good.  Actually, it was GREAT!  Next weekend we're gonna try some trails.  I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, I've been doing some knitting and finishing up of items.  And since I actually found my camera again, it's time I posted some pictures!   In February, we hosted a knit-along at the store for the Winter Spice cardigan from the November 2011 issue of Creative Knitting.  This was a follow-up of the chart class that we held in January -- I loved the design.  Here it is in all its glory --

Ooops.  You'll have to turn your monitor sideways to get a good view of the back.  (I'm fighting with the software on the home computer, and losing badly, as evidenced by the sideways photo.  I'm glad I got it as far as here, let alone turned properly!)  The flower is knitted on a background of purl stitches, while the rest of the garment is garter stitch.

The sleeve detail is quite nice, in my humble opinion.  I searched for a long time to find the perfect buttons for the cuffs.
 These are singed cherry toggles which I purchased from a gentleman who markets his hand-made buttons, toggles, sweater and shawl pins under the name "Nature's Wonders."  We have a selection of these at the store, many brought in especially for the knit-along.

In other news -- We have had my step-daughter's dog living with us for the past year.  Pepper came to stay with us last May, in hopes that we could give him a happy summer.  He is elderly, with problems in his hindquarters.  Apparently living in the country is good for him, because he not only enjoyed the summer but also the fall, winter and spring!  We've started taking him to a local conservation area for a walk every weekend, on the premise that walking over terrain is good for people so it must be good for him.  We don't let him do the entire trail, but just enough to give him some exercise and tire him out.  Apparently it works ...
That's a tired dog!  Remember Monty Python's movie Search for the Holy Grail?  There's a bit in there where townspeople are being asked to "bring out yer dead."  One guy comes out with an old man over his shoulder and the elder gentleman is saying "I'm not dead yet!"  That's Pepper.  He's not dead yet, nor does he plan to be any time soon.

All I know is that he's the best dog in the world.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Missing in action

I must apologize for being MIA.  Life has been interesting here ... far too interesting in fact.  So interesting that I seem to have misplaced the camera.  This will be a post sans photos, so I won't talk about knitting!  How's that for compromise?

Back in September, I spoke to my doctor about the lump I found on my thyroid.  She sent me off for an ultrasound, a nuclear scan, and a visit to the endocrinologist.  He sent me off for more bloodwork and a fine needle biopsy.  The biopsy results were "suspicious for cancer." 

Then I saw the surgeon.  The first words from his mouth were "We could just monitor this for a while."  Nope.  I thought removal was a good plan of action.  Next he suggested that possibly just a partial removal would be a good idea.  Nope.  I was all for complete removal.  Then he felt the thyroid, and agreed!

Fast forward two months, and my surgery date was set for March 28.  Off we go to Scarborough Centenerary Hospital.  Can't say enough good about the folks at that hospital -- they were efficient, caring and kind.  One overnight and home again.  Minus the thyroid, but with good thyroid drugs.

I was amazed.  I haven't felt that good  in twenty years.  I could go to sleep at night, wake up in the morning and bounce out of bed.  Go all day without a nap.  My, oh my.  What a difference.

Kids came for a visit over Easter weekend.  We also celebrated Emily's birthday -- which always comes with cheesecake.  Everyone wandered off home by Sunday evening.  So Tuesday morning at 3:00 am, I woke up with a gall bladder attack.  Without getting too graphic, let's just say that I tend to explode from both ends when this happens.  And then I feel better.

I did the explosion thing, but did not feel better.  Finally, at 9:30 Doug and I headed off to the local emergency room.  They poked and prodded, and figured that I was probably having a gall bladder attack.  Scheduled an ultrasound for the next day.  Sent me home.  In pain and almost agony, I must add.  Took some pain killers left from the thyroid surgery.  I would add that I felt so badly that I didn't even take any knitting with me. 

Wednesday morning we went back for the ultrasound.  The surgeon advises that this confirms gall bladder disease.  They were hesitant about trying for a surgical solution because of the recent thyroid surgery.  Dr. Stryde asked me what I'd eaten the day previous.  Half a piece of toast and a cup of green tea.  What was I planning to eat today?  Possibly the other half of the toast and another cup of tea.  He went off to grab the anesthetist for a consult.

Result?  Gall bladder surgery.  More scars.  But I feel SO much better.  There may be damage to the vocal chordss -- but really, I don't care.  I feel better.  And will continue to feel better.  Life doesn't get much better.

But wait -- there's more.  My doctor got the results of the thyroid biopsy and called to make certain that I would be following up with the surgeon.  Yeah, right.  You don't get to call and leave a message like that without spilling the beans. 

So, long story short.  There ws cancer in the thyroid.  Sounds like thyroid cancer (thank heavens not a Non-Hodgkins lymphoma).  I will know more after meeting with the surgeon on Wednesday.  Short term, however, is that there is a cancer. 

You know ... it's the waiting and NOT knowing that is so difficult.  You can't really make plans, or dreams, when you don't know which way it will go.  So now we do, and I'm planning the knitting to take with me into solitary confinement.  That, and reading material!

The best part of all this medical brouhaha, though, is the realization that I have lots of friends -- people who care about me, and want the best for me.  Who will help me when the going gets tough.  And that, more than anything, is what life is about.  Having people who care about you, and you caring for them when their going gets tough.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Christmas gifting

For those interested,  t he beaded socks in my previous post were the Winter Frost socks from Ravelry.  They were quite enjoyable to knit, and the design was delightfully straightforward.

For most of last year, I was working on an afghan for my eldest son and his wife.  They live in northern Virginia, and  as new homeowners are discovering the joys of utility bills.  They keep the heat in their home rather low ... well, low by the standards of those of us who heat with firewood and blithely heat OUR living rooms to a toasty temperature of 78 degrees or so.  As we were preparing for our visit to them for our  holiday last year, we were warned to bring plenty of warm clothing.  "Ha!"  I thought to myself.  "Now I know what to make for them for Christmas next year!"

And so I did.  I knit Yggdrasil, from Interweave Knits, out of Patons Shetland Chunky.  22 balls, on a 5.50mm needle.  Started this little puppy in January, and finished in November.  There was a fair bit of other knitting that happened during this time as well, but it was a major project.   The afghan is darn close to six feet square -- according to Jason it is the perfect size for a Christmas afternoon nap. 

While we were down there celebrating Christmas, Coris' birthday and my not-birthday, Jason and Coris treated us to dinner at the Capitol Grille.  We had the most exquisite steak dinner I have ever had in my life.  Aged steak, drizzled with 13-year old balsamic vinegar, and grilled to absolute perfection.  Creamed corn made with fresh corn, au gratin potatoes, lobster and crab cakes for appetizers.  This was truly an evening to be remembered, and I enjoyed every minute of it. 

All in all, a remarkable Christmas holiday with my eldest and his wife.  Thank you, Jason and Coris.  It was fabulous.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Good grief!

Good grief.  It's been how long?  You'd think I've fallen off the face of the earth.  Except I haven't.  Not really. 

You see, life has been pretty crazy and hectic.  I'm working with various doctors right now, trying to get all my medical things sorted.  I'm scheduled for thyroid surgery on March 26th.  After that?  Well, we're just going to go one day at a time.  Not to worry about the surgery, though.  You see, I have a cunning plan.  I have a great group of folks who are praying on my behalf; another great group of folks who are doing all the worrying; my wonderful hubby does the driving.  All I have to do is show up, smile and knit. Knit the good stuff.   Oh, yes.  And make corny jokes about the lump in my throat.  I believe many folks will be thrilled when THAT aspect is over!

Speaking of knitting the good stuff ... there was a day back in January when I found THE perfect pattern for my skein of Handmaiden Cashmere/Silk.  (This skein was a gift of my lovely step-daughter, so the pattern had to be absolutely perfect.)  Of course, I was at the store and the yarn was at home.  And it was my Saturday to work.  Undeterred, I called Barb's house, except she wasn't there.  So HER lovely hubby took the message about the "knitting emergency."  She was out for her daily walk, and when she returned her hubby met her at the door with her purse and knitting bag and mumbled something about me having an emergency.

Barb raced into the store, anticipating the worst.  What met her was the sight of me, bouncing up and down, and giggling.  And trying to explain about the knitting emergency and how it was imperative that I race home and fetch the wool.  Barb was a good sport about the whole thing ... something about needing to escape the abundant testosterone at her house, or something like that. 

The project was the Rustling Leaves Beret from Coastal Knits by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig.  I had been eyeing the pattern for a while, but hadn't realized it was made with a sock-weight yarn.  Once I discovered THAT ... well, you can see what happened:

I still have about one/third of the skein left, and am pondering picking up stitches and making a casing for elastic.  In these windy days, I find the beret to be just a little bit loose.  Other than that ... I absolutely love it.  It's light, it's warm, and it's beautiful.  (I used a 3.25mm needle for the entire beret; a smaller needle for the ribbing would have helped immensely.  Silly me, eh?)

The beret is so lovely that Barb fell off the same cliff.  She used Cascade Heritage sock yarn in her favourite colour -- green.  She used almost exactly half the skein, and is now trying to decide whether she should make a second beret or a pair of fingerless gloves.

The other knitting that I'm going to show off today is the socks that have fallen off my needles in the last little bit. These socks are all destined to be gifted at Christmas -- there are so many pairs of socks needed that I have to start early.

The top socks are made from Trekking, I forget the colourway.  This poor sock yarn has been languishing in my stash for so long.  I just knit a plain sock, nothing fancy.  The second pair of socks are Shibui sock yarn, and the ball band is at home so I can't tell you which colourway.  The pattern is one I found on Ravelry, and I will link to it when I get home.  (I like the ability to edit!)  The third pair of socks was knit up for our beading class here at the store last fall.  I used Regia Silk, in a dark blue, and little gold beads.  Again, I found the pattern on Ravelry.  It's called Winter Frost.  I quite liked the design, and several of the ladies here did as well.

There are more knitting stories to tell, including the completed Yggdrasil afghan and its recipients.  I'll save that for a later post ... and I promise not to make you wait three months for it.

Happy knitting 'til then!