Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Last Post for 2006

Today is the last day of 2006. It has been an amazing year. I've made new friends, both online and in my everyday world. My life has been enriched by each of you and I thank you for your friendship and encouragement.

Speaking only of the knitterly aspect for a moment, 2006 has seen my confidence in my own skills soar. I've become a much more passionate knitter than I ever thought I would become. Again, it has been your encouragement that has helped me to stretch my wings and reach new heights with my knitting.

None of us is truly alone in this world, unless we choose to be. I have discovered that when you open yourself up to others, whether it be face to face or, in this case, in the form of a blog, people respond. People care. When you share your joys, they are immensely multiplied; when you share your tough times, they become just that much easier to bear. That is what all of you have done for me this past year. At the risk of sounding sappy, you have no idea just how much I appreciate each and every one of you who read my blog.

I'm nothing special. I'm a middle aged woman who just happens to like writing and knitting. When I started Strings 'n Things, it was intended to be a way for me to track what I was actually finishing. Along the way, it has grown. There are now an average of approximately 100 readers per day. That is a thrill!

To each of you, I wish I could give you a thank you hug for the part you've played in making this blog what it has become. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, to change the direction a bit, we're back at the house now. We're actively hunting for a new place to live, but the pickings are slim right now. We're hoping that the first week of January will bring a few more listings. In the meantime, today will be spent relaxing in front of a fire. We will ring in 2007 tonight, and tomorrow we will face head on whatever comes. A couple of you have mentioned how calmly I seem to be taking all of this. Let's just say that as soon as I can sneak over to the doctor's, I'll be asking for another prescription for sleeping pills. *grin*

I do, on occasion, vent to John. Without him, I don't think I'd be holding up as well as I am. I have my moments. There have been a few occasions when I allow myself to cry, just to get it out. There's not much I can do right now to change the situation, so I do what I can. This coming week, that will include packing up everything that isn't necessary for daily survival. For the past week, it was knitting. Wine helps, too. I know that this is only temporary and that makes it all the more bearable.

I apologize for the rambling nature of this post. Today is all about writing out my thoughts. I'm looking forward to whatever 2007 may bring. I hope that, for all of you, 2007 will be a year of good things, of creating good memories, with the people you love and care about. From the beautiful, snowy, chilly Okanangan, I wish you all a Happy New Year.

See you all next year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Let's see if Blogger will co-operate

I'm back... sort of. We're at the house for a short while today, mostly to drop some stuff off and to pick up a few things that may need laundering. And, most importantly, to blog.

Some of you left some wonderfully touching comments on my last post. You had me in tears (no, I was sobbing actually). I am not feeling sorry for myself. This is something I know we will get through. It's just not fun while it's happening. We'll be back here in the house by this weekend, primarily to pack everything up in preparation for a move. We've not yet found a place to move to, but I'm confident that the right place will come up at exactly the right time. As difficult as it is, I'm not worrying. Really, I'm not. Oh, ok, I'm worrying a little. But just a little.

On to knitting! I told you in the last (brief) post that I have knitting to show you. Here we go... where shall I start?

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Remember how excited I was/am about top down hats? Well, I don't know if I mentioned it, but I'm amazed at how many people find my blog via Google searches for earflap hats. So.... I've been making top down earflap hats. This is one of them that is an adult version. Here's another picture of the same pattern, but with garter stitch flaps rather than stocking stitch flaps.

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...and in guy colours. And, yes, the pattern is available. For now, you can click here. It will (when blogger smartens up) be available on my freebie site as well.

I have this lovely book that I crack open now and then. I took it along to the house we're staying at right now and read through it (a little more thoroughly than I usually do). I made this little hat, kid sized, using the book as inspiration.

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Oh, the book? It's "Style Your Own Kid's Knits" by Kate Buller. Love it! The only problem I have with the book is that the patterns are written only for dk weight yarn. This little hat is knitted with worsted weight yarn. I altered it to be the size as written in the book. It's such a cute design! I figure it will fit a child from the ages of about 4-10ish... or a small adult.

Because there wasn't a whole lot to do while staying at someone else's home, I spent most nights knitting. One other little project I completed (apart from choosing buttons) is this little sweater for my new grandson.

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The pattern is from Sirdar's Early Arrivals 2, knitted in Sirdar Snuggly DK in a lovely dark green/teal, 3-6 months size. It was a quick knit, done in about 3 evenings. Now, we just have to make a trip to the coast to give it to Teagan in person.

I've also been working on John's sweater. The remainder of the body is a great "tv watching" project. I'm not sure how soon I'll have it finished as we'll be doing a lot of packing and preparing to move in the next week, but he will definitely have it before long. The left sleeve is complete now; the stitches for the right sleeve need to be picked up and knitted. The body, as well, needs completing, but that's the tv project. We can't be packing ALL day, after all.

Well, it's time for us to head back to the house we're staying in for now. We've been keeping the heat down as low as possible here at the lake, so it's bloody cold here (didn't take my coat off until an hour and a half after we got here); why pay for heat when there's no one staying here? As I said, next week will see the bulk of our possessions packed up and ready to move. For now, we'll be enjoying warmth and hot water for as long as we can!

To all of you, many of you who've become friends in this past year, I wish you a very happy New Year. May 2007 be a better year for all of us!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Update: no knitting content

I do have knitting to show, but that's for another day. When, I'm not too sure yet. You see, we will have to move.

We got word from the neighbour yesterday that there's no way we'll have water here until the spring. I don't think we can survive that long in a house with no water.

Tonight, we're going to the local rec center for a dip in the pool, hot tub and shower (definitely a shower!). From here on, I'll check in and post when I can. Keep us in your thoughts and send good vibes for the perfect new home!

If I don't post before then, I wish you all a blessed and happy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Christmas we'll remember for a long time!

This is a special post, pasted here from our family blog. Early this morning, my fifth grandchild, my third grandson was born. I'll let my eldest daughter, baby's aunt, tell the story of his birth.... She gave me permission to post it here. Please pardon the typos; after all that excitement and only three hours of sleep, I think we all understand.


It was an amazing night last night! I received a phone call at 2 am from Alaina saying that her contractions were 10 minutes apart and that we should be on our way to the hospital, so, I got up got Trin ready and headed out the door. I had no idea what I'd be walking into.....I made it there about 10-12 minutes after her first phone call, I get in the house and there is a baby crying. At first I thought it was Oceanna, but as I turned the corner to go to her bathroom, there I see Alaina on the toilet, covered in blood with a new baby crying on the floor in front of her. Holy crap, it was crazy! I got hte phone handed to me and got walked through by the 911 operator how and what exaclty I should do, and waited for the ambulance.

Both Alaina and baby Teagan Matthew are doing just fine, he weighed in at 6 lbs 2 oz, he has some black hair on his head, and he is so darn cute!!!!!

Well that's all I can think of right now, I'm sooo tired (3 hours of sleep is not enough), but we'll put some more pictures up and update how they both are doing soon!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Little Changes and Updates

I've decided to make some minor changes to my blog. I'm going to remove all the free patterns I've posted and post them to a second blog, Strings 'n Things Freebies. We'll see how that works. Just to be on the safe side, I won't actually delete them from this blog until I know everything works the way I want it to. My intention is to give each category a date, then just edit each "date" as patterns are added. I'd also like to have a picture to go with each pattern posted, so that you can see exactly what it is you're downloading before you go to the pattern. Make sense?

Updates... still no water. It's 10:00 a.m. at the time of this writing and I've not seen any service vehicles next door. I really hope this doesn't last very long. I'm feeling the need for a shower. My hair's getting fairly long and doesn't really need daily washing, but I really would like a shower... or a bath... even better. As much as mutual sponge baths could be fun, a nice hot bath or shower is sounding really good right about now. Kate suggested buckets of melted snow to help flush the toilets. That would work if we had that much snow; it's almost all gone now. We do, however, have the lake. If push comes to shove, we can use lakewater for the toilets.

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Waterless shampoo... yes.. you can also use baking soda or talcum powder. All you do is sprinkle it in your hair, leave it for a few moments, then brush it out. I may have to resort to that. Our other option is to rent a hotel room and take our clothes to the laundromat until we have water again and send the bill to the landlords.

Enough whining!

John's sweater is coming along very nicely. The left sleeve is almost to the cuff; so close, as a matter of fact, that I want him to try it on again to see just how much further I need to go. I was a little concerned that the sleeve might be too snug on him. There are 75 stitches at the upper arm. A book that I'm referring to for general sizing (Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns) indicates 90 stitches for a 44" chest sized sweater, so I started second guessing my measurements. However, when he tried it on, it fit him just right, just how he wanted it to fit. I suppose I should trust myself a little more, huh?

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I may have mentioned before that this house gets pretty chilly in the winter months. (If I didn't, it does.) Last winter, I made myself a pullover vest that I'm pretty happy with (other than the length... it's a bit shorter than I like, really). I've been wearing it quite a bit this winter. To that end, I've decided to make myself another one. This time, though, I'll use the original one as a blueprint... make it longer, make the V a bit deeper. Seeing that John's sweater is nearing completion (well, the end is in sight), I've started my vest. Can we say startitis?

The yarn is, once again, Online's Tessa, in a deep green. It's fully patterned with a knit/purl argyle-type pattern. This is a worsted weight yarn, so it will be a little heavier than the Country Style DK vest, but that's alright. It just means a little more warmth for me. The pattern is a 16 stitch repeat (which means it would be a good one for socks, too) over 32 rows. Once I've completed one pattern repeat, I think it will be a fairly easy pattern to read. I'll let you know. A picture? Certainly!

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A final note about the water situation: we live on native land. That means we're not serviced by the city here. And that means we're at the mercy of whomever the neighbour has called to service the system. I only hope they get here quickly. I think the only thing I can do today is sit and knit like crazy. It may help keep my mind off the entire situation.

To that end, I'm off to get those needles clicking!

Monday, December 18, 2006

This is NOT fun!

Not only is it not fun, it's pretty darned annoying! As of Sunday morning, we have no water. None. It seems there may be a break in the line between the pump house and the two houses it feeds. No dishes (that's ok), no baths or showers (I LOVE my baths!), no flushing the toilets... no water. We have drinking water, as we buy bottled water for drinking.

Apparently, the neighbour (who's property has the pump house on it) has called someone to check it out, but the guy never showed up today. We have no idea how long we'll be without water and with the weather staying below freezing, who knows whether they'll even be able to do anything. I am NOT impressed!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pattern Up!

The Top Down Toddler Hat (Trinity's Purple Hat) pattern is up. You can download it from my patterns section. Let me know if there are any errors or if there's anything unclear. It's a pretty simple pattern once you get going on it. Enjoy!

Now, back to my knitting and watching the snow fall and listening to the crackling fire.... do you think it's too early for a glass of wine??

My apologies... apparently the link to the pattern wasn't working. It should be fine now. :)

Progress and More

I have today and tomorrow off; that means I intend to spend some time working on John's sweater. When I got up this morning, coffee was first on the list and while it was brewing, I continued knitting on the first sleeve. I finished a ball of yarn and have not gotten back to it yet. I will shortly, but here's how the sweater's looking now.

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It's not far, I know. From here on, though, it's smooth sailing. So far, I've incorporated three decreases. I wanted to pick up the stitches for the second sleeve at this point, but I've only got one 20" 4.5 mm circular, so I'll work this sleeve to the point of having to switch to double-pointed needles, then pick up the stitches for the second sleeve.

On to other things... I mentioned last time that I'm knitting another one of Elann's reversible hats out of sock yarn. This time, though, I'm knitting it from end to end, rather than from middle to end and middle to end. I've got the first half of the hat finished and have joined the solid colour.

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It looks funny, doesn't it? I mean, it's just one long tube, really. Here's how it will look when finished. You'll have to use your imagination a little bit, ok?

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One last picture...

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When I knitted Trinity's hat (pattern will be posted either later today or some time tomorrow), I don't think I used even one half of the 100 gram ball. Since I don't like having half balls of yarn in my stash, I thought I might make a little scarf out of the remainder. To that end, I started this little project using another ball of James C. Brett's Marble and a ball of SRK's Baby Monkey. Trinity's scarf will be similar, but in the purply yarn with purple Baby Monkey.

It's a very simple scarf. Cast on 16 stitches on 8.0 mm needles using Baby Monkey. Working in stocking stitch (knit the right side, purl the wrong side), work 4 rows in BM, then 12 rows in Marble (or yarn of choice). Continue alternating in this manner (4 rows BM, 12 rows Marble) for length desired, ending with 4 rows of Baby Monkey. Cast off loosely. The scarf will curl in on itself; that's the intention. It will look more like a boa, or a tube, when it's knit in stocking stitch. I'll post pictures when it's further along.

For now, that's it. I've got Lentil soup simmering on the stove; there's laundry that needs to be put into the dryer and there's a sweater waiting patiently for me. I'll let you know when I've posted the pattern for Trinity's hat.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I have some time to blog. I know it hasn't been long, but it feels like it has been. Maybe I've just missed writing. Anyway, I have a couple of little things to show you. On the way home from our trip to the coast, I knitted another baby hat. Did I tell you that already? I haven't taken a pic of it; it's another top-knot kinda hat without the top-knot. You know the type.

I mentioned in my last post that Little Miss Trinity has requested a purple hat. And that I had it done. Here's how it turned out...

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The yarn is James C. Brett's Marble, on 4.5 mm (US 6?) needles. On my monitor, the colour is pretty close to what it actually is. I knitted it from the top down, beginning with 4 stitches for the I-cord. I think I'll make the pattern available for anyone who wants it, but it still needs to be written up. It really is a simple knit. Really! Beginning with an I-cord was easier than working the crochet circular cast on and starting the increases immediately. At least, there was something to hold on to.

The other small project I finished (and started) yesterday is one from Knitty. As soon as I saw Calorimetry (how DO you pronounce that?), I wanted to make it.

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I love it! I love the yarn, too. It's Malabrigo. Don't ask me the colour name or number; I threw out the tag before even thinking that you might want to know the details. If you've never worked with Malabrigo, get your hands on some. It is THE softest 100% merino I've knitted with. Soft and light. And warm. I haven't even shown this project to John because I'm pretty sure they're not colours he likes... or likes on me. I love these colours. Lime green.... blue.... green.... yummm!

So, I've mentioned (more than once) that I'm really enjoying knitting hats from the top down. Kate left a comment about another knitter who likes to knit that way, too (see here). I've been to her site before and did knit a hat according to her directions. I liked it, but at the time, didn't realize the possibilities. Now, though... well, it's a whole new world!

Last year, I made each of my grandkids a reversible hat from's free pattern section. That hat is started with a provisional cast on and worked from bottom to top, then the provisional cast on is picked up and the second part is knit from the bottom to top. I'm knitting that hat again, from tip to tip this time. I've started with a 6 stitch crochet circular cast on, increasing to the stitch count required for the size I'm making, then working straight down for the length required; then I'll be changing yarn and working the entire thing in reverse, to the final decreases. I'll let you know how it turns out. So far, so good.

Now, I'm going to go and spend the rest of the evening with my husband. (His sweater is waiting for my day off; I can't knit it in the evenings, as it's simply too dark to knit comfortably on it.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

We're home!

My concerns about the roads were unfounded, thankfully. The Coquihalla Highway and the Connector were both fine; we made it to Abbotsford in the usual 3-4 hours. The roads were a little slushy in a couple of places, but otherwise, just wet. We got in to Abbotsford early in the afternoon last Sunday and stopped in to see my eldest daughter for a few minutes, to drop off some hats and scarves she's going to try to sell. After a brief visit, we continued on to Vancouver, and John's Dad.

On Monday, after John and his dad did some shopping, I took the car and drove back to Abbotsford, where I spent two nights at my parents' house. Monday night, I cooked dinner and I knitted. And knitted. And knitted. You saw John's sweater in my previous post... well, you saw the start of John's sweater in the previous post. Here's what it looked by Tuesday morning...

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It's working up very quickly! I'm having so much fun knitting this sweater. And he can try it on as I go along! I love, love, love knitting from the top!

Allow me to show you a close-up of the pattern detail...

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I copied a portion of a sweater pattern I found on Garnstudio, then recharted it and changed the colours. When I got back to Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon, I had John try the sweater on. From the bathroom, I could hear "Wow, I love it!" It fits him perfectly (after I remembered to factor in the ease) and it looks good on him. Remember I said this sweater will be seamless? Well, it will have one small seam; I'll have to stitch the collar to the sweater at the base, as it will be a shawl collar (which, incidentally, is already done but the picture came out blurry or I would have showed you). Even the sleeves are not sewn in.

A detail of the sleeve...

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The stitches for the sleeve are picked up and worked in short rows until you get back to the underarm. From there, the sleeve is simply knitted in the round, with decreases spaced evenly (like a regular sleeve, just backwards) to the cuff. I'm thinking I'll knit both sleeves before I finish off the body. At this point, the body is just brainless knitting down to the waistband.

I'm hoping to do some more knitting on it today. I have to tell you, knitting a sweater this way is a lot more fun than knitting all the pieces, then sewing them all together. Is there a single knitter out there who enjoys sewing sweaters together? I know I don't. With this sweater? No seams to sew up. No making sure the pieces fit together just right. No question about fit. I highly recommend Barbara G. Walker's Book, "Knitting from the Top".

Anyway, back to our trip. On Tuesday, I spent most of the day with my kids and grandkids... after checking out the local yarn store and Michael's. At the yarn store, I bought one ball of yarn and a set of bamboo double-pointed needles. Yes, that's all I bought there. At Michael's, I bought a couple balls of Paton's Canadiana in variegated colours and a set of Nifty Knitters, which I was going to give to my daughter but forgot to. Little Miss Trinity decided she wants a purple hat. So, grandma's going to make her (has already made her) a purple hat. I finished it yesterday and will mail it to her, along with a few other little hats for other (new) members of the family.

I spent most of the afternoon with my youngest daughter, whose second baby is due any time. I got to know my second granddaughter, Oceanna, a little better throughout the afternoon. She is such a sweetheart, a chubby little angel. That evening, I took all three of my kids and their kids (my five grandchildren) out for Chinese. After dinner, the girls went home and I followed my son to his girlfriend's home, where we spent a bit of time getting to know each other again (that's a whole 'nother story). Let's just say that our little family will be expanding as Julie has three children. That means three more kids to knit things for, right?

On Wednesday, I drove back to Vancouver and we spent the last night there, with John's dad. John took us out for dinner at Hy's (the most expensive steak dinner I've ever had), something he's been wanting to do since we first met. Thursday, we packed up the car and headed back to Kelowna. Again, the roads were good. Wet, but no snow, no ice. We were home by dinner time. I'm sure it won't be too long before we go back, if only to meet my soon-to-be-born grandchild.

Now, in addition to working on John's sweater today, I'll be knitting more little hats. I'm just having so much fun with them. It seems (so I heard from my son's mate) the hats I make are a hit, so I'll just keep making them. They're quick, they're fun... so, why not? I'll post pictures of the hats I've already done the next time I post.

Till then, stay warm, knit up a storm!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sweaters, Hats and Stuff

I started John's sweater. I got about 3" knitted and realized it was going to be a little too narrow. I'd forgotten to factor in the ease needed for a comfortable sweater. Then, after I'd done the shaping for the second side (working from the shoulders down), I was unhappy with the way the provisional cast on looked after it had been picked up and knit, so I frogged the whole thing and started over using a crochet provisional cast on. It's coming along nicely now, and looking much better. As previously mentioned, I'm working this sweater from the top down (well, from the shoulders down, seamless) as per Barbara Walker's book "Knitting from the Top". The sweater will have set in sleeves (and it's seamless... yes, you read that right), and starts at the back of the neck and shoulders. The sleeves will be picked up and worked from the shoulder down as well, using short rows. I think I like this method. I'll let you know once I get past that point.

Ever since John saw a sweater that I'd finished for a friend (who moved to Australia before I could get it back to her and who I've not heard from since), he's been enamored with shawl collars. His sweater will have a shawl collar. One night this week, every time I woke up, I found myself thinking about the collar and how to do the shaping for it. I think I've figured it out. We'll see if it will actually work.

I think I mentioned that the sweater will also have a band of fair isle across the chest and back, just under the arms. I've been hunting online for an acceptable pattern (one that we both like) and found one at I'm not making the entire sweater, just borrowing the fair isle band pattern, altering the colour scheme to my own preferences.

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The yarn I'm using is Online Tessa, a worsted weight superwash wool; I wanted real wool (as opposed to something with acrylic) for John as his shoulders have been bothering him lately and the warmth of wool just seems to ease the pain a little more than anything else does. There was one night when the only thing that gave him any comfort at all was my alpaca Clapotis. So, wool it is for my man. I'm using 4.5 mm (US 7) needles and getting 20 stitches and 28 rows to 4" (just like the label says I should). The main colour is a deminy/tweedy blue that has a little bit of purple and tan through it. It's really quite nice. I dislike making a large project like a man's sweater in a completely solid colour. Something tweedy just makes it a little more interesting. As you can see from my last post's pictures, the fair isle band will be done in purple, dark green and tan.

As far as other projects go, right now I'm working on the sweater. Hats have been pushed aside for the time being. I've been wanting to do this sweater for John for a long time now and am finally going to do it. Of course, progress will be monitored and you will be updated as I go along.

Monika asked me about the pattern for the green Classic Wool hat and could I point her in the direction of the pattern. I hate to tell you this, Monika, but the pattern is still in my head. Well, sort of. I have a preliminary version of it on paper, but will have to type it up and proof read it. Contact me via email, ok?

Tomorrow, the plan is that we will be driving down to the coast. Hopefully, the weather will co-operate. I hate taking unnecessary chances when it comes to life and limb. We're going mainly to check on John's Dad, making sure he's being well looked after and that he's generally okay. We will, of course, be checking up on kids and grandkids, too. This will be a fairly short trip; we expect to be back sometime on Wednesday, as I work on Thursday.

Today, I intend to spend plenty of time knitting while we watch the Canadian political system at work (Liberal party leadership convention). That, and football will likely be what's on our televsion screen today. Between the two, I'll be left with plenty of knitting time.

I leave you with a picture I took yesterday, out of our bedroom window. It's a little hard to see, I know, but those spots under the tree are quail. One of them was even jumping up to catch the berries on the stems. They're such interesting birds to watch. When they run, they look like wind up toys.

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