Thursday, July 24, 2014

Close, but No Sock

This doesn't look good.

This is the second sock, the first is gorgeous and fits perfectly.

 

I hope I can rely on the kindness of friends. I know someone who is making a cardigan out of this exact same yarn. I'm going to be all like "Buddy, can you spare a square?" (That's not exactly a mixed metaphor, but it certainly is mixed up.) Otherwise, I may have to go buy more yarn. Money is no object when the socks are this beautiful.

Details are on my Ravelry page. The pattern is a free one and very well written. I think the reason I ran out of yarn is because I made the men's size sock, with a bit larger leg by using a bigger sized needle so it would have more stretch, with a long leg and whopping 10 inches or so in the foot. The wonder is that I didn't run out of yarn sooner!

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Motivated

I have discovered that I am a Kung Foo panda.

Poor Jim has been so very tired this week. Last night I made supper of cold cooked chicken on salad greens. We have more of the same, but we want to save it for tomorrow night's dinner. Left struggling to decide what to make for dinner, we took the easy way out and ordered Chinese food to be delivered.

They said it would be 45 minutes for the food to arrive. Just enough time for me to walk Dexter, so off we went. The thought of that Chinese food waiting for me at home put me through my paces! Just like Po, if you want me to train, tempt me with food...

 

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Senior Knitter

Jim's mom celebrated her 90th birthday in Feburary. All but one of her sons made it out for the party we had.

She's still knitting too. She's still making teddy bears, and vests for the bears, and squares for blankets for the "old folks", and baby items for bazzars and fairs. For Christmas, I knit the yoke of a Couronne for her and gifted it to her along with the rest of the yarn to knit the sweater. She got the whole thing done by spring.

To get a great fit on her, I picked a size to fit her shoulders, then after the yoke was finished, I increased on the front to fit her bust. And since I handed it over after dividing for the sleeves and body, there was no weird math for her, just a fun knit to the end of the sweater.

I like how it turned out so well, I've got yarn in the stash to make one for myself.

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Catch up some more

To continue from yesterday, Jim and I are well. We're both working, and both finding a bit more independance now that the boys are almost adults. We had a lovely week in Ottawa this summer, just the two of us. It was like a second honeymoon.

Friday nights Jim has his freinds come over to play games and I go out knitting with the gang. I'm also a member of the London District Spinners and Weavers and I'm finding the group very inspiring. One of the classes I took was on Baltic cuffs where I learned a new braided cast on. There's a blog post just in that.

Dexter is now nine years and just beginning to show his age. He's still healthy and plays like a puppy, but he's got a bit of arthritis and he doesn't see as well. One weird thing is that instead of getting long in the tooth, his teeth are disappearing. It's a thing that boxers do, their gums just keep on growing. He's still eating and my vet is not worried, so we're leaving well enough alone. The main thing is, he's still got a lot of love to give and you better believe it, he's getting a lot back.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, that pink in the lower right picture, that's his tongue.

 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Catch up

The nice thing about being away from the blog for a while is that I have such a lot of interesting things saved up to write about.

When last I wrote Alex was preparing to go away to Quebec for the summer as part of the YMCA's summer student work exchange. Man! Was that a fun summer! He had a great experience in Quebec and came home more mature and gracious. Here in London we also had a great experience. Our exchange student was a pleasure to host. There were lots of fun events to attend and all the other families in the exchange were just good people. It was an honour to have been a part of the whole thing.

Luke finished a year at Fanshawe college and now he's drifting, working for his dad a bit, looking for work on and off, and keeping house in a slap dash way. Alex graduated high school this year and he lucked into a job working as a camp counsellor for the summer through a Youth Opportunities Unlimited program. He didn't get accepted into the university of his choice so his plan for September is to join the reserves.

It's all I can do to not helicopter parent at this point. My boys are soon to be 18 and 20. It's high time they figured things out for themselves. I want them to try, to fail, to learn, to live their lives as they want. I might not approve of their choices, but I want to give them time and space to figure out who and what they are.

 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Toys

I just picked up a keyboard to go with my iPad.  It's a pretty slick set up and I feel a new freedom with my iPad. It made me think of this space.

It's funny how our tools shape our activities. I wouldn't start a blog until I got a digital camera. At that time I was using a desktop computer. Once I bought an iPad I did all my home computing on it and going to the desktop began to feel like a chore.

I don't know if I'm going to be blogging regularly again. I make no promises. But I will show you my newest project of obsession. 

Yeah, I bought a raw fleece. I bought it from the Canadian Wool Growers Co-op (http://www.wool.ca) in Carleton place while in Ottawa. I'm turning it into a very bouncy and soft 3-ply sport weight. The biggest investment required is time and patience.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sucess!

We've landed in some interesting times around here. Luke has started working full time with his dad for the summer, Alex was accepted into the YMCA's Summer Work Student Exchange, and I have landed myself a job. Alex leaves this Saturday, July 29 and I start my new job on Thursday, July 27.

I find Alex's situation to be the most exciting. It's such a wonderful opportunity for him and I sincerely hope he has the time of his life. He'll be living for six weeks with a host family in Otterburn Park, in Quebec, and working at La Maison amérindienne. The YMCA plans outings for the kids and their schedule is packed with fun things to do and see.

In exchange, our family will be hosting the the daughter of the family that is hosting Alex. It's a direct exchange. When we got the notice, I was all: "Yippee! It's a girl!" Her name is Cecilia and she likes fine arts. I'm hoping she likes textiles too. *wink* I'm looking forward to getting to know her, and anticipating all the fun activities that are planned for her. There's a trip to see a play at Stratford, local festivals, a camping weekend, games nights, and more.

In the mean time though, Alex and I have been busy running around town, getting him prepared for his trip. We bought some new clothes, got him some incidentals, and so on. Today, we stopped to reward ourselves with a sushi lunch. Alex had fish on the brain:


I'm just so happy for all of us. It's going to be a great summer!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dreamy

Boo Knits shawls are dreamy.



The Snow Angel pattern is really well written and the lace has a easily memorized repeat. You just drift along, happily knitting the same repeat along the length of the shawl, and slowly accumulating an intricate looking design.


My Snow Angel was fun to block. You pull out the long points evenly and the shape of the shawl does the rest. I didn't even find the need to try to pin the top part out straight. It just went that way. And even without beads, the points stayed pointy and the shawl has movement.

  
Can you believe, it only took me nine days? It just went by like a dream.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reminder

I confess, have a skeleton in my closet. Its white and full of holes.

Three years ago I started knitting the lace jacket from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2010. It started out fine. Working lace in the round is a pleasure because the knitting is always facing you. In no time I had the body of the jacket done and started up on the border.

That's when things got ugly. The border is a complicated bit of witchery, with patterning on every row and increases and decreases zig-zagging along to make a scalloped edge. Beautiful? Yes, of course. Fun? Heck no! Why? I just couldn't memorize it. I had to work every row stitch by stitch. I made plenty of mistakes and tinking mohair lace is a nerve wracking bit of fiddliness. My frustration with the project grew, until I stuck it in a closet, out of sight and out of mind.

Having some time on my hands lately, I decided to resurrect my skeleton. Even the weather colluded with me; this spring has been cool enough for a knitter to tolerate a pile of mohair in the lap. I finished up the border, and completed one sleeve before I couldn't take it anymore. I was seduced away from my frustration by a mysterious little number, the Leaf Evolution Mystery KAL.

This project went slow too, but only because there were six clues, delivered to us one each week. And I liked it. I enjoyed the way the KAL forced me to linger over this project. It was a pleasure to anticipate the next clue and to slowly watch the pattern evolve.  The finished shawllette is as sweet as could be:

I love the pattern, and I love the yarn, which is Malabrigo's Sock Yarn in the colorway Archangel, but I don't think the two go well together. The variegation is just a bit too much in this. You should see how beautiful it looks in a solid, like this one.

But that's okay. This pattern reminded me again of the pleasures of lace knitting.

That lace jacket, it's so old, it can wait a little longer. I've cast on another lace project, this one from BooKnits. Go take a look, at her designs. You too will fall in love with lace all over again.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

One Button

It was a warm May morning and Julie was wearing a pretty dress for the first time that Spring. She reveled in the soft swish of her skirt and the clack of her heels on the pavement as she walked up to her business. Julie’s shop, Knit ‘n Notions, was located downtown, nestled between a trendy jewelry store and an upscale coffee shop. Across the street was a used book store, a bike shop and an artist’s supply store.

Julie hummed a tune as she turned the key in the lock and opened the door. She was greeted by bins of yarn, shelves of books, a wall of drawers containing buttons, and the store cat, named Worsted.

“Rawr.” said Worsted, meaning: “I’m hungry, feed me now!”

“Good morning sunshine.” replied Julie, going straight to the back kitchen to drop her luncheon salad into the fridge, start the coffee maker, then give Worsted fresh water and some kibble. After doing the necessary clean up on the litter box, Julie settled in with her coffee to put together her notions order for the salesman coming that day.

“We’ll need more shawl pins.” Julie thought out loud to Worsted. “The weather is so nice people will want to wear their shawls. And I must order more of the matte-black buttons.” Julie continued down the list, ordering more needles and other items for a good half hour. People had no idea how much work went into running a yarn store, but Julie didn’t mind. She loved what she did and she loved her customers. People were what kept a business alive and Julie knew she was lucky to have such a great location that drew in a diverse clientele.

At ten o’clock, Julie opened the store and was greeted by a couple of regulars, come in for a morning’s stitch and bitch.

“Hi Roxanne. Good morning Kelly. How are you ladies today?” asked Julie.

“I am loving this weather!” exclaimed Kelly, as she bent over to give Worsted a pat. Kelly was a university student who liked to drop in for a chat and a coffee on her way to class.

“Not so good myself,” replied Roxanne. “The sun makes my skin act up, and those noisy birds woke me up too early this morning. But I’m getting on now. I don’t know how many more springs I’ll be around to see.”

Julie and Kelly exchanged a glance, before offering sympathy and support to Roxanne. The older woman had a heart of gold, but a crotchety nature hid it from most.

A bit later, two out-of-towners dropped in, saying they’d heard good things about the store. Julie was happy to hear that and gave them a brief tour of the store layout before leaving them to browse. 
Just then, the button guy walked in. Julie didn’t know his name so that’s what she called him. Kelly and Roxanne were deep in discussion about short rows, but the two out-of-towners watched the button guy. He wore tailored trousers and a soft grey collared shirt, open at the neck, with the sleeves rolled up on this warm morning. Button guy went immediately to the buttons and straight to the drawer containing the matte-black buttons. He took out one button and went to the cash to pay.

Julie smiled at him, but couldn’t catch his eye. “Will that be all?”

“Yes.”

“I’m placing an order today for more of these buttons. Perhaps you’d like to buy in bulk? I’ll give you a discount.”

“No thanks.” Button guy held out his money.

After he’d gone, one of the women from out-of-town spoke up. “That guy knew exactly what he wanted.”

“He should,” grumbled Roxanne. “He buys the same button every day.” 

“What?”

“Yeah.” Kelly piped up “It’s his thing.”

Julie smiled. “I actually just put in an order for more of those buttons today. He’s been doing this for over a year now.”

“But why?” asked the other lady.

“I think he has a compulsion,” answered Kelly, who had taken some psychology courses in first year. “It could be OCD, or maybe he has something like pica and eats them.”

Roxanne scoffed. “He’s just nuts.”

“The banana bread of life would be pretty boring without some nuts,” mused Julie.


Julie was tired. It had been a full day. Her feet were aching, she felt dirty, hungry and just done in. The store had been swept, the shelves faced and neatened. Her last task was to feed Worsted, and then she could head home to her own dinner.

Julie shook the container with the kibble. “Worsted?” Shake, shake. “Worsted? Where are you kitty? It`s dinner time.”

But there was no answering meow. No thump of soft paws as Worsted jumped down from a high perch. Julie did a quick scan of the store, and Worsted wasn`t in any of his usual hiding spots. Julie`s stomach did a quick flip. Opening the front door of the store, Julie called for Worsted again, but no answer. She went to the back and performed the same ritual, again with no results. Now she was beginning to feel sick.

Worsted had come to her as a small kitten. She found him in the alley behind the store, licking up foam from an empty latte cup, covered in ants. The small creature was starving and so pitiful. Julie had cleaned him, fed him and did all that was necessary for him at the vet`s. And in return, Worsted had become her buddy.

Julie locked up the store. With the kibble container in her hand she headed out to look for her friend. Customers knew not to let Worsted out the front door, so the most likely culprit was the notions salesman who had delivered her order that day. He came in the back door, through the alley.
A half hour later, Julie still hadn`t found Worsted. She had searched the alley behind the store and was now across the street, looking under the wooden steps of the artist`s supply shop, thinking that perhaps he had taken refuge under there. And that’s when she heard it: a cat’s meow, sounding like a world of complaint.

Julie called, waited, and heard it again. She looked up and there in an old maple tree was the sleek grey body of Worsted. He was flat down on a branch, his tail twitching with nerves and fear.

“Oh, Worsted! You scared me!” Julie exclaimed with relief. But then she started to worry. How was she going to get the cat down? Calling the fire department seemed such a cliché.

“Maybe I can help?” Julie heard a man’s voice ask.

It was the button guy carrying a ladder. Julie’s mind buzzed with questions, but she was too concerned about Worsted to ask. Instead she just stepped aside as the button guy put the ladder against the tree branch and climbed up to get the cat.

Worsted would have none of it. He hissed and swiped out with his paw at the hand that was to deliver him from his perch. Button guy rolled down his sleeves and tried again.

“Be careful!” Shouted Julie as Worsted inched away and button guy was forced to lean way over to grasp Worsted. She jumped forward to steady the ladder just as button guy’s foot slipped from the tread. Worsted wriggled and button guy was forced to jump to the pavement to keep his grip on the animal. His landing was awkward and he grunted with pain, but his gentle hands held Worsted firmly.

Julie scooped the cat from his arms with exclamations of thanks to the button guy and reproach to Worsted.

“Are you okay?” Julie asked as the button guy sat upon the curb.

“Not quite. I think I sprained my ankle.”

“Just sit tight there.” Julie said. “Let me put Worsted back in the shop and I’ll come back to help you.”

“OK” said the button guy. His face had gone pale.

Even going as fast as she could, it was a few minutes before Julie returned. But button guy was still sitting there, the ladder still propped against the tree.

Julie felt that this was a moment where some very important questions could be answered. She took a deep breath and let it out.

“I can’t thank you enough. I owe you big time. What is your name?”

“Tom.”

“Well Tom, are you hurt bad?”

“Yeah, pretty bad. I can’t stand on it. Maybe it’s broken.”

“We have to get you to the hospital. I’ll call us a cab.” Julie got on her cell phone. When she finished with the cab company, she asked “Do you have your OHIP card with you?”

“It’s up in my apartment. I live over Art Stop.” Tom had left the door unlocked, so he gave Julie directions to his apartment and the location of his wallet and keys.

Julie climbed the stairs as fast as her heels would allow. Her fingers tingled as she turned the knob that would open the door. She felt like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, about to unveil the secret of the century, the answer to the question: What did he DO with those buttons?

Opening the door, Julie stepped into the entrance way, from which she could see a little galley of a kitchen and a bedroom beyond. She walked forward, looked to her right and gasped. The wall at the far end of the apartment, the one that spanned the whole back of the building, was two-thirds covered with matte-black buttons. But that’s not what made Julie gasp. The buttons weren’t just covering the wall; they were carefully placed to form an image. It looked like a stippled ink drawing and it was breathtaking.
Julie quickly took her cell phone from her purse and snapped a picture. Then she grabbed Tom’s wallet from the kitchen counter, his keys from the hook by the door, locked the apartment and scurried back down the stairs.

The cab was already waiting when she arrived, and she handed Tom his keys and his wallet. Julie insisted on coming with Tom to the hospital, given that it was her cat that caused the injury. Plus she just had to ask.

“So, I couldn’t help but notice your wall."

“Yeah.” Tom was quiet and wouldn’t look at her.

“She’s beautiful. Who is she?” Julie showed Tom the image on her cell. It was the face of an old woman. She was smiling, which brought up the laugh lines in her eyes and the wrinkles in her cheeks.

“You shouldn’t have taken a picture. But yeah, she is beautiful. It almost looks like a real photo on this tiny screen.” Tom took the phone from Julie and studied the image for a moment. Then he swiped the screen to delete the picture and handed the phone back to Julie.

They rode in silence the rest of the way to the hospital.


It was getting on for midnight and they were still in the emergency waiting room. Tom had given up on trying to get Julie to go home. The woman had a stubborn streak. Dinner had been a limp sandwich from the vending machine, chips and a chocolate bar. If not for her knitting Julie wouldn’t have had the patience to sit there for so long. Tom only had the entertainment of being questioned by nurses, X-rays and Tylenol-3.

“So, why don’t you tell me about the lady on your wall?” Julie finally asked, as much to keep awake by this point as for curiosity’s sake.

Tom sighed, and shrugged his shoulders. “She’s my Nona, and more than that. She raised me from when I was just three, after my parents split. She got sick and died last year.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry Tom.”

“Every day since, I buy a button to remember her by and I add it to the picture. She always wore a black coat and it had buttons just like the ones at your store.”

“That’s sweet.” Julie smiled. “But I don’t understand. It must take forever to make a picture one button at a time.”

“Sure. And it must take forever to knit a sock one stitch at a time.” Tom waved at Julie’s knitting. “Everything worth doing is done one little bit at a time.”

Understanding dawned for Julie. “And it’s just how we live our lives.”

“Right,” said Tom. “One button at a time.”

This story is based on an anecdote I read on Kristie's blog and she kindly encouraged me to write it.