Monday, July 27, 2009

Stuffed!

I made sure the little bear got stuffed yesterday. John really didn't want to drive to Michael's but, since I insisted, we turned it into a drive, with the possibility of a jump in the lake. The swim didn't happen, but I did get the polyester filling. 

And here's how the little bear turned out...

Total cuteness, don't you think? I think I'll call him Sammy, as the little girl who'll be receiving him is named Sam (short for Samantha). I'm going to use Sammy as a "bow" for the baby dress that will be going to my bosses, Phil & Kim, for their soon-to-be-arriving daughter #2. Sammy will have a bow and a tag around his neck, making it clear that he's for Sam.

And I'll just have to make another one for myself!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sit 'n Stitch Knitting

Yesterday was our Sit 'n Stitch day and I had a dilemma. I had no idea what to take along in the way of knitting. The scarf from Victorian Lace Today requires too much concentration. The little boy's sweater is too fiddly, what with cable needles and all. There are a couple other projects, but they're no longer portable knitting.

So, I went on the hunt for a simple, little project. While going through "friend activity" in Ravelry, I came across a really cute little guy named Carolus that became my take along project for the afternoon. By last night, I had all of the knitting finished. Now, Carolus just needs to get stuffed... literally.

This little bear stands about 6" and is made with sock yarn on 2.0 mm needles. Unfortunately, I have no polyester stuffing in the house, so a quick trip to Michael's will be on today's itinerary. Once I have him stuffed and he has eyes, nose and mouth, I'll take a proper picture of him.

Incidentally, on the website, which is in Dutch, there are two other patterns available (all three patterns are available in English, and are on her sidebar). One is a mouse, Lodewyk (apparently, a character in a Dutch children's story book), and a puppy named Victoria. All three are really cute and knit in one piece (sort of). That is to say, there are no separate pieces to sew together. With Carolus, the arms and ears are started by picking up purled stitches and knit directly on to the body. The pattern is very well written and easy to follow.

This is a fun knit, instant gratification, and cute as can be! I'm not usually into making toys, but this could get me knitting a few. I think this little bear will be making its way into the hands of a 4-year old who's expecting a baby sister any day now. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When there's nothing else to do.... learn something!

That's what I've been doing today. Earlier this week, I came across an interesting website. I'm not sure where I read about furoshiki, but I'm fascinated! I've been searching online about furoshiki and came across this website.

So, I've been playing around with it a bit. I have quite a few silk scarves, some of my own and some that belonged to John's mother. Below, you see an example of a bottle wrap. Can you imagine bringing someone a bottle of wine wrapped like this? How unique is that?


Another example is the Hand Carry Bag. Below, you see the 'bag' filled up, but not even nearly all the way. 


Here's what I had in the 'bag'... a small pouch, plastic bag with a knitting project in it, the Estonian Garden wrap, a hat, a pair of gloves and a pair of mittens.  I could have put quite a bit more into the bag. 

What a great way of having a carryall with you at all times! I mean, how easy is it to tuck a silk scarf into your purse or pocket? Or wear one? Plus, no plastic! According to one website I read, any fabric will do, but silk is naturally strong and durable. Who doesn't love silk scarves? Finally, a use for all those silk scarves I have! Does it get any better??

Wild Fire Update

It's good news! By tonight, it seems all those who were under evacuation orders will be allowed to return to their homes.

Fire crews are hoping to have the Glenrosa and Rose Valley fires 100% contained by tonight. Everyone around here is breathing a sigh of relief, as well as literally breathing easier. There's not nearly the amount of smoke there was earlier this week.

On the knitting front, I'm getting a fair bit of knitting done this week as I'm sort of a forced vacation; it's been very slow at work, with little or nothing for me to do. I'm hoping it picks up pretty soon; we need the money. And it's getting a little boring around here. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

Knitting and Such

It looks like I have the day off today. I called in this morning to see how busy it is and whether or not it would be worthwhile to come in to work. It seems it isn't busy at all, so I'm on call in case something important does come in, but other than that, I have the day to myself.

In the knitting, the No. 20 scarf (that's what I'm calling it) from Victorian Lace Today has been restarted. I was using the variegated Angel Hair, had about three repeats finished when I somehow ended a row with 4 stitches short. In all honesty, I wasn't feeling the love with the yarn/pattern combination and I figured this was they yarn's way of agreeing with me.

This time, I'm using Fleece Artist Suri Blue (50% suri alpaca, 50% blue face leicester) in Buttercream. Oh my, this is nice yarn! I'm much preferring the way this knits up to the way the Angel Hair was knitting up.


For those of you interested in such things, the pattern calls for about 600 yards of yarn; the Suri Blue came in a 100 gram skein, with 600 metres, which is about 656 yards, so I should have enough. I'm working the scarf on 3.75 mm needles, rather than the 4.0 mm needles called for in the pattern. We'll see how it goes.

As for the fires, they're still burning. Above is the view from my little deck. You can see the low-hanging smoke off in the distance, hugging the hills.  That's the Rose Valley fire. That fire is about 150 hectares in size and is uncontained.

The Glenrosa fire, which is to the left of this picture, and not visible from where we are, now sits at about 350 hectares and is 40% contained. A third fire, the Terrace Mtn. fire has expanded to about 850 hectares. That one isn't threatening any homes, so they haven't been fighting it as aggressively as they have the Glenrosa fire. From everything I've been hearing, today they may be pulling some of the crews fighting the Glenrosa fire and moving them over to the Rose Valley fire. That one is situated in a fairly steep valley and will be a difficult fire to contain. 

The smokiness isn't too bad here in town today. Having seen satellite pictures, the smoke is drifting south in an almost straight line down into Washington state. Last night, there was a huge cloud of smoke hanging above the city; it was from the Terrace Mtn. fire and it was nasty-looking, and was quite high up in the atmosphere; we weren't smelling any smoke, thankfully. 

The forecast for our area for the week is more hot, dry weather. Temperatures are forecasted to go up to 32C (almost 90F) today and remaining in the mid to low 30's for the rest of the week. Hopefully, the winds will remain calm, as they are right now.

On a lighter note, here's a link to a really cute knitting video. I know I'm a knitting fanatic, but...  :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kalamalka Lake - jewel of the Okanagan

As I wrote yesterday, John and I took a little road trip yesterday. We decided we wanted to go for a swim, but we wanted to make it fun, too. To that end, we drove up to Kalamalka Lake, a lake I've talked about a few times.

This time, though, we got pictures. The lake was gorgeous! The turquoise-green colour was very evident this time. Now, you can see what I mean when I say that Kalamalka Lake is a jewel of a lake. It truly is!


Below is Rattlesnake Point. Behind the point is Cousins Bay, where we've gone swimming a few times.


Overlooking Coldstream and the mountains in the distance. 


And just a shot of one of the buildings in the city of Vernon. I love detailing like this on some of the original buildings.



Update on the fire

I've been checking news coverage this morning and, at this point, there are two fires burning in the West Kelowna area, the Glenrosa fire that we saw yesterday and another one in the Rose Valley area.

As of this morning, the Glenrosa fire has expanded to 300 hectares (just over a square mile) with 4500 homes, about 10,000 pepole evacuated. The Rose Valley fire is reported to be about 20 hectares. Approximately 1500 homes are currently on evacuation alert. There is a third fire, in the Fintry area that is nowhere near homes. There hasn't been much news concerning that fire, but we did hear that the Glenrosa and Rose Valley fires are the ones that are being concentrated on, simply because they're affecting homes.

The skies all around us are hazy with smoke this morning and there's a definite sm
oky tang to the air. Thankfully, the wind has died down today. 



Edited to add: I've posted a picture in the footer of the blog (scroll down, wayyyyyy down). It's a panorama shot of the fire, as of about 6:30 last night. It will give you an idea of just how far the smoke was blowing down the lake.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

West Kelowna's on Fire!

video

We went out for a drive this afternoon, out to Kalamalka Lake. I'll post pictures tomorrow, but for tonight, I have something more important.

On our way back into Kelowna, we noticed a plume of smoke coming from what looked like the other side of the lake. As we got closer, listening to the news, we heard that, indeed, there is a fire on the opposite side of the lake, West Kelowna, in the Glenrosa area. According to the news (at about 7:00), there were already 3 homes destroyed and numerous subdivisions were being evacuated, with fears that the fire may well spread into the downtown Westbank area. We pray that won't happen. As it is, memories of the 2003 fire are still very strong here. Hundreds of homes were destroyed then; many homes have just recently been rebuilt.

The conditions here in the Okanagan, as in many other areas, are perfect for a fire, unfortunately. It's extremely dry and this afternoon has been extremely windy as well. I decided to take this little video clip just so you can see what I mean. The sound you hear drowning me out is the wind. 

The last news that we heard is that four fire bombers are on their way to Kelowna from Abbotsford (a 4 hour drive) to help fight the fire. I'm sure they'll be working round the clock.

I have photos as well, but for now, I'll just upload the video clip. Please keep Kelowna in your thoughts. Oh, before you ask, John and I live nowhere near the fire, and unless something really drastic happens, we're safe. Those living on the west side of the lake, however, are not so fortunate.

What do YOU think?

The Estonian Garden wrap has been blocked. The ends have been woven in. I'm in love! 

The final details:
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss, celery, 2 skeins (440 yds per skein)
  • Needles: 4.0 mm
  • Started in May 09, finished July 09


This is where your opinion comes in. Because the Estonian Garden wrap is finished, I'm looking for another "something" to start (can't have empty needles, can I?). I've started this scarf/wrap, from "Victorian Lace Today" by Jane Sowerby.

Below is my swatch. The yarn is Handmaiden Yarns Angel Hair and is a mohair/nylon blend. I bought it a number of years ago and I just haven't found the perfect pattern for this yarn (I bought two skeins of it and each skein is 100 grams, 800 metres). I love the individual colours in the yarn, but I'm not sure I like it knit up. 

What do YOU think? Should I just keep going and hope it grows on me? Or is it just too stripey for this scarf? 

I think I'll keep going for the moment, perhaps do another couple of repeats, and see how it looks then. I'd love to know what you think, though, and please, don't just say what you might think I want to hear. I really want your honest opinion. If you think it looks like something the cat barfed up, tell me! :)

Edited to add: Susan, I have 2 grams of yarn remaining, and if I've calculated correctly, that's about 17.6 yards.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Quickie

The Estonian Garden Wrap is off the needles! I finished it before dinner last night. Blocking will likely happen on the weekend. 

Even as is, the size is fine for wrapping around my shoulders, so once it's blocked, I anticipate that it will be the perfect wrap size. I can't wait to see it blocked!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nope, Not the Weekend Yet

I don't usually post mid-week, but work has been slow and I woke up feeling a little "off", so I've taken the day for me. Not to worry, I'll be fine; I didn't sleep well last night, had a difficult time waking up and have had an upset tummy all morning; today will be a rest up day and I'll be back at work tomorrow. Hopefully, there will be plenty for me to do. In the meantime, I'll just knit (and maybe go for a walk later).

Last night, I cast off the first edge of the Estonian Garden Wrap... twice. The first time, I used a knitted cast on; you know it, right? You knit 2 together, put the stitch back on the left needle, knit 2 together, etc? Well, that cast off was wayyyyy too tight. I would never have been able to block it to the width of the wrap, so I undid it, picked up the stitches and worked a crochet cast off instead. Now, it's much stretchier and will be able to take the stretching needed for blocking. I don't know why I didn't think of it right away. 

The second edge has been picked up and I'm about halfway into the first Lily of the Valley repeat. This wrap could easily be finished this week. That said, I have no intention of spending all day on it. There are some other things I want/need to work on while I have the opportunity... like the podcast sweater. Acrylic.. ugh!


Thanks to Roslyn and Amy, I have a couple more pictures of our afternoon at the alpaca farm. Amy took the first picture (thanks, Amy!) of the alpaca that liked my toes. I was wearing red nail polish and she, apparently, has something of a foot fetish! That's Roslyn in the background, probably taking the second picture below.


Thanks to Roslyn for this second picture. Again, it's the same alpaca. She was very friendly, giving nuzzles and kisses to a number of us. Thank you, ladies, for allowing me to "steal" your pictures. I appreciate it more than you know. Darned camera batteries!


Just as an aside, I don't usually have problems with the camera batteries. I used Panasonic batteries and, so far, a single set of 4 batteries lasts me close to two years. I wasn't too surprised that the set that was in the camera died; they'd been in use for a while already. The second set had only been charged once, about a week previously. After a second charge, they're working just fine and shouldn't give me any problems now. 

I've decided what I'm going to make with the baby alpaca I purchased at the farm. Thanks to John's suggestion that I make myself a pair of gloves, I remembered the Vanalinn gloves from "A Gathering of Lace", a Nancy Bush design. As you can see, I've already started. Well, I did start, but then frogged this. This was my sort-of swatch. The stitches are back on the needles, but I haven't gotten this far yet. I did find the pattern easy to read and remember, although the colour of the yarn makes it a little difficult to see in low light (which this apartment definitely has). What I did discover, and will change, is that the cuff part of the glove is quite short. I prefer longer cuffs on gloves and mittens, so I'll definitely be making the gloves longer. This picture doesn't show it, but on the inside of the hand, there is a k1, p1 cuff, which will definitely help to keep the gloves snugged up and the palm side is all stocking stitch.

The picture is deceptive. The gloves are knit on 2.0 mm needles (US 1); that's what I'm using. The picture, however, looks like much larger needles were used. Mind you, I assume that the gloves were blocked and they are on hands, which would stretch out the stitches. At any rate, the baby alpaca will become these gloves.

Considering that the gloves I made for myself last winter fit John, I can definitely use another pair of gloves. I'll probably concentrate on the gloves once the Armstrong Fair knitting is done.

Now, I'm off to relax, knit, and enjoy my day.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oyama Lake Alpaca Farm

Saturday turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous, sunny and hot day. Six of us turned up at the Oyama Lake Alpaca Farm for the tour. The farm is set on a hill overlooking two lakes, Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake. I've mentioned Kal Lake before; the mineral content in the water gives it a beautiful turquoise blue/green colour, especially when the sun is shining, as it was yesterday. I was going to take a picture of the view, but I was having technological issues* again.

Jim and Darlene have approximately 30 alpacas in total, with most of the males away at "summer camp" or in pasture down nearer the lake. The herd below is the female contingent of their herd. We were allowed in the pasture with the herd, which made me just a little nervous at first.


The alpacas, however, had no such concerns. They were docile, friendly and utterly cute!


When I heard the name of the gray alpaca below, I had to get a picture of her. This little beauty is named Oceana, which just happens to be the name of my other granddaughter (her name is spelled slightly differently... Oceanna). We were also given a little sample of alpaca fiber with the name of the animal on the baggie. I chose Oceana's fiber, for obvious reasons.


And, of course, I couldn't come home empty-handed. I knew I wanted some laceweight alpaca. I'd seen it on their website and immediately knew it would be coming home with me. It only comes in the natural white that you see below, but it feels like it's going to be a lovely yarn to knit with. I'm not sure of the yardage, but that's a 200 gram skein. Their web site says that the laceweight yarn comes in at 3800 yards per pound. Hmm... if I'm doing my calculations correctly, I figure it's about 1675 yards. That should be more than enough to make a decent shawl.

I also came home with this lovely cake of baby alpaca. The colour is one of the 13 natural colours of alpacas the farm has. It's a 100 gram cake, 407 yards. I'm not sure yet what I want to make with it, but John suggested a pair of gloves. That's why the book is open to that page. I'll have to swatch first because there is no suggested needle size on this yarn. I did measure the wraps per inch, and it comes in at 22 wpi. 

Once I've decided what I'm going to do with this yarn, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll just keep fondling it. Seeing as it's baby alpaca, it's very soft and cushy. Absolutely yummy!

After we left the farm, we met at Gatzke's Orchard Cafe for some lunch, some knitting and lots of chatting. We sat under a grape arbour, which gave us plenty of shade. If you're ever in the Okanagan, driving between Vernon and Kelowna, do stop in at Gatzke's. It's a fruit/veg stand and cafe. It's easy to get on and off the highway there and the food is pretty good.  Apparently, they also have orchard tours, something I didn't know. 

*Me and technology... it seems we're not getting along too well at the moment. I made sure everything had fresh batteries, with extra batteries for both the camera and the voice recorder. After 9 pictures, the camera batteries died, so I replaced them with the brand new batteries that had been charged only once; as soon as I turned the camera on, the camera turned itself off. The batteries didn't work. Argh!! They have since been recharged and work just fine now. Oh well, at least I was recording everything during our time in the pasture with the alpacas. Or, I thought I was...

When I got home and downloaded the file, it seems I hadn't recorded anything! I was stumped for a moment. Then I remembered that not only does the recorder have an on/off button, so does the microphone and I had forgotten to turn it on. To say I feel stupid really doesn't cover it, especially since I had discovered the on/off switch the night before, when I was testing the equipment. I was going to play parts of the recording on next week's podcast; well, that was the plan, at any rate. Now, it will be just me... again. *Big sigh* 

Saturday, July 11, 2009

There Has Been Knitting!

Yup, I've actually been knitting this week! Most of my knitting has been concentrated on the little boy's sweater for the Armstrong Fair. It's coming along quite nicely! 

I really can't say enough about this yarn, the Lanett Superwash. It's soft, being a baby wool, but it has nice body as well. I recommend it heartily. As you can see, the body of the sweater is almost done, with just the right front to be completed and one of the sleeves is almost finished. That leaves one more sleeve, the right front and then the collar/buttonband to do before the end of August. I should be able to manage that.


The podcast sweater is coming along as well. The sleeves are now attached and the yoke is in progress. If you've been following along with the podcast, you'll know that between the decrease rounds (there are 3 of them) is the perfect opportunity to add some colourwork. I've chosen to keep this sweater plain. Ideally, I should be a little farther along than I am, but it will get there. 



The last project that's seen some progress this week is the Estonian Garden wrap. I have now completed (finally) two of the three repeats of the lily of the valley section. As lovely as this section is, it is certainly not difficult! The pattern is easy to read and flows logically. The nupps (I've said it before) are NOT difficult at all, as long as you keep the stitches loose.

There's one more repeat of the lily of the valley section, then the final edging. Then, I'll have to pick up the stitches at the opposite end and repeat the lily of the valley and edging sections. I'm hoping to have this wrap finished in time for the Armstrong Fair as well. It should be doable, as long as my knitting mojo holds up.

This afternoon, we're having a special Sit 'n Stitch; we'll be meeting early (noon) at the Oyama Lake  Alpaca Farm for a tour of the farm. Afterwards, we'll find a place to sit and stitch. I'll have my camera and voice recorder with me, as I'm hoping to get an interview or two for next week's podcast, and pictures for the blog. This time, I'm ready. Apart from one battery I need to pick up before I leave (for the microphone), all the batteries are fresh. No more dead batteries. I'm prepared this time! 

It's going to be a hot day here in the Okanagan, with a forecast high of about 32C (around 90F). I'd better get a few things done before the heat sets in. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Just Cuz I Can

It's not at all busy at work right now, so I've taken the afternoon off. There are things here at home I can do, and my boss was amenable, so here I am.

Last week, I came across this little clip in a local "magazine", Event; I cut it out and thought I'd share it with you. See the little black finger, pointing downward? That's me.

Even though I was technologically challenged that day (dead batteries), there was a roving reporter for Event Magazine who had no such challenges.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Relatively Short Post... more to come

We got back from our mini vacation (5 days) on Wednesday night, Canada Day. Not a lot of knitting got done during that time, but I did get a little bit done on the podcast sweater... with some help.


That's Trinity, working on one of the sleeves of the podcast sweater! She picked right back up where we left off 4 or so months ago. She let me know right from the start that she really wanted to knit and asked me if I'd brought some knitting for her. Well, seeing as I hadn't, the podcast sweater was the only thing she could work on.

There's one other thing I wanted to show you. Wool on the hoof! This was just outside of Kamloops, on a winding country road. Originally, this little flock was under a big maple tree at the side of the road, but when we stopped, they made their way into the adjoining field... under the barbed wire.


John commented on the bits of wool hanging from the barbed wire... free wool for the picking! ;)