Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Fail for Me is a Bonus for John

Christmas is over for another year. The fridge is full of leftovers; the dishes are done and put away and our tummies are still feeling the effects of an overabundance of good food.

Now, it’s time to get back to normal. I go back to work tomorrow. *sigh*

Oh well, the last few days have seen more than just food. As you may recall, I posted earlier this year about the state of our felted slippers. Both John’s and mine have holes at the heels and the balls of the feet. I decided it was time to make myself a new pair; I’m more bothered by cold feet on these floors that John is, it seems.

I found a promising pattern on the Drops website… this one. I had no intention of making them in red with fuzzy trim, though. I went stash diving and found the remains of the brown wool I had used for the Brown Blob (um.. Quonset Cardigan). The pattern is a simple one, really, knitted flat, seamed and then felted. There was one small glitch. One sentence was somewhat confusing, lost in translation.

As a result, I added a few rows before realizing that I was supposed to continue in garter stitch, not knit in garter stitch to the finished measurement. I figured that the extra rows wouldn’t really affect the overall product as they’d be felted anyway, right?

Wrong. After putting the slippers through two complete cycles, they’re too long. They fit John perfectly. They’re just waiting for him to wear them. I have a feeling he’ll wait until his current slippers pretty much fall off his feet.

So, I’m back to the drawing board. I could just go with the same pattern I’ve been using all along, the Fiber Trends felted clog pattern. I’ve knitted that one a few times already; I’m bored with it. I went hunting and then remembered that Cat Bordhi has a felted boot pattern in one of her Treasuries of Magical Knitting (the moebius books). I didn’t want the moebius “handle”, so it’s been left off and I am, basically, knitting a huge pair of socks that will be felted down and, hopefully, fit.

The wool I’m using is akin to the old White Buffalo. I’m using two strands held together. The pattern calls for two strands of worsted weight yarn held together, so I’m hoping this will work. If they still end up too big, John will have two pairs of slippers and I’ll be investing in some worsted weight yarn and making the felted clogs again.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Day Before THE Day

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s just started to snow. We’re not expecting much; tomorrow’s weather forecast includes showers. At this time of year, I don’t mind snow; Christmas should be white.

This won’t be a long post, just long enough to wish all of you the very best of the season. I intend to finish up a couple of small projects and do a whole lot of nothing for the next four days.

Christmas wishes

(That IS my front door and not just a picture I found somewhere… just thought you’d like to know that.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It’s a Handy Dandy Thing

You’ve all seen towel toppers right? If you do a Google search for images of towel toppers, you’ll know what I mean. They’re kitchen towels, cut in half and a top, either crocheted or sewn (usually), for the purpose of hanging on your oven door’s handle.

Well, on Pinterest, I came across a link for a little item that can turn any kitchen towel into a hanging towel that won’t fall to the floor every time you use it. It doesn’t entail cutting up any of your kitchen towels. It looks like this:

Great idea! Now, I crochet… have done for about as long as I’ve been knitting. I decided I could do this quite simply. But! I really don’t like sewing buttons on to things. For one thing, that means I’d have to hunt for my button bag and ferret through all those buttons to find one that would work. For another thing, it means I’d have to use needle and thread to sew on said button, which takes time.

I decided to modify the design somewhat so that I wouldn’t need to do any searching or sewing. Here’s what I came up with:

As you can see, it has a loop at either end, rather than a button. And how does it work?

All you do is fold it over your oven door’s handle and slide a towel through both of the loops. That towel’s not going anywhere! If I were to make another one, I’d probably use a smaller hook, giving it a little more denseness, but all in all, I really like this little item. No more picking towels up from the floor! Feel free to steal the idea and/or modify it. If you do, though, let me know how it turns out.

Yesterday, John and I went to a friend’s home for a Christmas party. We never go empty-handed so I made a batch of hummus and pita bread (which we know they both love!) and John made mulled wine. At almost the last minute, I decided to bake a batch of speculaas. Have you ever had the Dutch Windmill cookies? Well, that is speculaas. In this case, though, the cookies are more like a square.

They’re made with a combination of spices  and are absolutely delicious! I don’t make them often, but they seem to be becoming a Christmas tradition around here. If you’re interested, you can find the recipe for Speculaas, including the recipe for the spice mix, on my cooking blog.

Be careful, though. They’re totally yummy and highly addictive! I’ve already had two this morning and it’s only 9:30.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Silence is Golden

I’ve been rather silent over the last couple of weeks, haven’t I? Well, I haven’t disappeared; I’ve just taken a short break. I’ve been occupied with other things and things have been getting done.

After having some fun with the Self-Intersecting Basketweave coaster, I’ve been working on a pair of socks for John. They are now done and on his feet. I think he’s worn them every day since Wednesday, when I finished them. I would take a picture but I can’t get him to stand still long enough.

I did discover, in making them, that 100 grams of Trekking XXL, which I love, isn’t quite enough to make the socks I usually make for John. For the second sock, I ended up alternating the Trekking with another yarn in a similar colour. I managed to get about halfway down the foot when I realized there was no way I’d have enough yarn. After scouring both local yarn shops, I had to go the alternating yarn route. I doubt anyone will notice; even John could hardly tell. I’ll try to get a picture at some point… if I can get that man to slow down!

Last week, one of our friends dropped by to invite us to a Christmas party (later this afternoon). I was in my recliner, working on John’s socks, when Mike said he wanted to commission me to knit him a toque… a watch cap. I asked him what colour he wanted it, knowing the answer before it was even out of his mouth. Black. I showed him John’s cap and Mike deemed it exactly what he was looking for. He tried it on, asking what was front or back. I explained that, because it was knitted in the round, in one piece, there were no seams and, therefore, no front or back, right way or wrong way. He was impressed.

Well, Mike was here yesterday, dropping John off (they’d been stacking wood and getting the “man cave” ready for today’s party). His cap was ready and waiting for him and he was wearing it when he left, one happy man.

The pattern is one I wrote back in 2006; it’s hard to believe it’s been THAT long!

Now, we need to eat. As I said, we have a party to go to this afternoon. I’m sure there will be alcohol involved so I intend to go with a full tummy. I’m also bringing a batch of hummus and freshly baked pita breads. And… no drinking and driving!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Huh? It’s Math, right?

I’ve just finished an interesting little project that I’d read about in a Ravelry thread.

This little coaster is the “Self-intersecting Basketweave Coaster” by Brent Annable (it’s a free pattern on Ravelry). In the description, Brent writes “The basketweave pattern on this coaster is created by knitting two layers of fabric simultaneously and having them pass through each other to create the blocks. Aside from being an attractive and useful household item, it is also an interesting mathematical object: because the fabric is continuous around every edge, it actually forms a single self-intersecting plane.”

Once I’d read that, I had to try it. It is, of course, a double knit fabric, knitted on two straight needles. The knitting itself is very simple, a combination of knitting and slipping stitches (no purling, believe it or not). The cast on is a provisional cast on and the cast off is a stockinette and reverse stockinette Kitchener stitch. Confusing, yes?

It is also a lot of fun!

I am not at all mathematically inclined and this simply boggles my mind. I can see applications for it, though. Done in a lovely, cushy, colourful yarn, this could make a great scarf; it doesn’t curl, lies flat and has interesting texture. If you were so inclined, you could make it really big and make a really warm, double sided afghan (wouldn’t THAT be cozy??). Using worsted weight cotton, as I did, and a little larger, this would make awesome pot holders or hot pads. Incidentally, the pattern includes two sizes, the coaster size (40 stitches) that I made and a hot pad size (72 stitches).

If you want to try something really interesting and fun, I’d recommend trying this pattern. You’ll learn some new skills; I had never done a provisional cast on that wasn’t worked from the other end (you know, like starting a shawl, working one side, picking up and knitting the second side), nor had I ever done a reverse stockinette Kitchener stitch.

I’ve always hated math.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Brown Blob is No More

I’m home today, with a sore back, upset tummy and a migraine. Not fun. I am determined, though, not to let it stop me from doing at least a few things.

Earlier this week, I finished knitting all the pieces of the Quonset cardigan (there are only three). This morning, I threw all the pieces into a tub of hot water with a bit of Eucalan. After half an hour or so, the pieces were drained, squeezed out, towel-squished and pinned out onto a quilt laid over my bed.


Once it’s dry (which will be before tonight, I hope!), I’ll sew it all together and crochet a row of single crochet along the back of the neck. It will help keep it from stretching out too much; that’s the cast on edge. I should have it all put together some time this weekend. When I do, I’ll be sure to get pictures.

In the meantime, I’m watching it snow here. We have a snowfall warning in effect, with amounts up to 4” predicted (10 cm).

Now, though, I think it’s time for a nice cup of tea, a comfy chair, a Magic Bag at my lower back, my audiobook (A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin), and my knitting (a pair of socks for John).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

And Now, Something Different

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? Talk about a time drain! Basically, it’s a place where you can “pin” pictures to your own boards, which you can organize and name. You can also explore other people’s boards, repin, like and comment on their pins.

Last weekend, I was exploring there and came across a really cute idea, one that, because I work in a print shop, I could implement.

Now, I’m a grandmom. You all know that, right? I have seven grandkids and if I had all the pictures on my walls that I want on my walls, there would be very little bare wall space.

Check this out…

It’s a mini polaroid fridge magnet! How cool is that? And, with the right software, they’re really simple to make!

Basically, I made a box for a photo that measured 1x1”. Around it, I made another box that would give a border around the photo to represent the edges of a polaroid picture. Very simplistically, I made the outer edge look like it had some texture (an inner bevel), with a gray border around the picture itself. After printing my work of art on sticker paper, I mounted it on a magnetic sheet. To help protect it, I covered the front with clear packing tape, then cut out each of the magnets.

The result?

As I said, the idea is not original. The picture I saw on Pinterest led to this website and the tutorial. I did mine somewhat differently than she did and I’m quite happy with the result.

I can see myself doing this more often, with favourite “kid” pictures. They take no wall space and fridge magnets always come in handy!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Brown Blob

It’s growing! And not looking half bad, if I might be so bold as to say. It’s been a while since I’ve knitted with yarn this heavy. I much prefer knitting with finer yarns, but I must admit the knitting goes much more quickly with a heavier yarn.

As of yesterday, the body and sleeves of the sweater are finished (they’re knit in one piece) and I’ve started one of the front pieces.

And, just to show detail…

That’s at the very back, bottom of the sweater. The same “fagotting” (yes, that’s what it’s called… no snickering!) is down the center of the front panels, with increases along either side (the holes along the right and left). It’s a nice-looking way of increasing.

Already, I can tell that I will have to reinforce the neck edge somewhat. That’s the cast on edge and it’s quite stretchy. The pattern suggests using a single crochet along the neck edge, but I think I’ll use a crab stitch instead (basically, a backwards single crochet; it’s just a little prettier).

Hmm… I’ve just been studying the pattern schematic. I may have that front piece in the wrong place. Good thing it isn’t sewn in yet. I’ll keep you informed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Brown Blob

For some time now, I’ve been scouring patterns on Ravelry, looking for something akin to a vest, a short-sleeved cardigan… I wasn’t sure what, but I wanted something I could slip on over a t-shirt, something to keep my shoulders warm while my hands and arms are still free.

I finally narrowed it down to a couple of options. Next, was the question of yarn. I have a fairly decent stash and I found some worsted weight yarn that might do. There was definitely enough of it; I’d purchased an entire bag (10 skeins) of the stuff.

The next question was: would the patterns be compatible with the chosen yarn? I swatched. I checked the patterns.

Ultimately, I was able to match the stitch gauge (but not row gauge) to one of the patterns and promptly cast on.

As the title infers, I call this the brown blob. It will not always be “blobby”. The pattern is a Berroco pattern, Quonset Worsted. The yarn is Earth Collection Homestead, 100% wool. The pattern calls for 4.5 mm needles with worsted weight yarn, but I’m getting stitch gauge on 5.0 mm needles. My row gauge is out slightly, but I’m finding that it really isn’t making too big a difference being out 2 rows every 4 inches. I can live with slightly deeper arm scyes.

As you can see, it will be a fairly casual little sweater, something easy to put on and take off as needed. When you’re cold one moment and having a hot flash the next, that is a good thing!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Almost Forgot

I have another finished object. I finished these a couple of weeks ago, but forgot that I hadn’t blogged about them.

These are the Kunigunde wrist warmers, a free pattern I found through Ravelry. The link to the pattern can be found here. I used some sock yarn I had in my stash. For some reason, I didn’t like this yarn as socks but it works well for this pattern. It’s a fairly simple knit and I’m pleased with how they turned out.

This afternoon has been fun. Earlier this week, the neighbour’s granddaughter (who lives with her grandparents) asked me if I could teach her to knit on Friday. Seeing as I work full time, I told her Friday was out, but she could come over on Saturday afternoon and I’d show her the basics. Well, today she and a friend came over, yarn and needles in hand. Well, K had yarn and needles. S didn’t and was provided with both.

Both girls caught on fairly quickly but K definitely got it. She managed to get six rows done and only made one extra stitch. For an absolute beginner, she did good! I started them out with 12 stitches and taught them only the knit stitch. Once they’re comfortable with that, I’ll teach them the purl stitch and then we’ll start on a simple project. If they’re still eager, that is.

Today’s “lesson” was about an hour long; they can’t wait for the next lesson and already have visions of knitting sweaters, hats, scarves…

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Finished, but…

I finally have another finished object. It just feels like knitting has been pushed to a back burner around here. This weekend, though, I decided that one small project was so close to being done that I’d just better sit down and get it done.

So I did.

This is the Mini Mochi hat #2. It shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did; it’s not a difficult knit. Other things just got in the way. I’m happy it’s done.


It’s too big for me. It’s too long and it’s not the kind of ribbing you can turn up because it definitely has a wrong and a right side. So, now I’m on the search for someone who loves the hat and has a larger head than mine.

In other things, I got the deal of the month last week. If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I work near a thrift store. Well, earlier this week, I went there on my lunch break to look for an exterior light; we have (had) a sensor light at our back door but only one of the lights worked and the sensor only worked sporadically. It was rare for the light to stay on for any more than a few seconds. I found a light, marked at $5.00, and made my way to the front counter. When I got there, I saw a package with a Sansa mp3 player, still in it’s original packaging. I asked the clerk if I could look at it, made sure everything was included and checked the price. It was marked at $20.00. I decided it was a good price and made my way to the till.

There, the lamp was discounted by 50%, making it $2.50. When the clerk rang in the mp3 player, she asked a co-worker if it was on sale as well; she was told it was, making it $10.

I should tell you I didn’t buy it for myself; I have my iPod. John likes to listen to CBC radio while he’s working and his last player (a Sansa Clip) died earlier this year so I thought this would be a good replacement for him. The price was certainly right.

Included in the package is also a sports arm band. When I got home, I started doing a bit of research. The armband, a Griffin iPod Nano sports armband, retails for about $20. The Sansa player? Well, check out this Amazon link (Sansa e270).

Yup, I got a real deal!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Memories of Summer

This year saw a good harvest of grapes from the vine out in the garden. We picked them as they ripened but didn’t have time to do much with them, other than turn them to juice and freeze the resulting juice. I think there are about eight tubs of frozen grape juice in the freezer right now; I’m not positive because John didn’t label the ones he froze. I did.

Today, while battling a migraine (which still hasn’t gone away), I decided to thaw some of that juice. I thawed two containers as one batch of jelly requires 5 cups of juice and the tubs are one liter tubs, which is about 4 cups of juice.

In all, I have 7 jars of jelly. The one in the picture wasn’t a full jar, just the end of the batch. There’s one other small jar like the one in the picture; the rest are 1 cup jars (1/2 pint, I think?). I did cut back on the sugar slightly. Normally you shouldn’t because it can affect how the jelly jells, but it wasn’t a problem. It’s lovely, perfect for spreading and very, very tasty.

The biscuits, incidentally, were made just so we could sample the jelly. In the middle of winter, we’ll be enjoying summer on our biscuits and toast. And there’s more juice in the freezer. Does it get any better than that?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

One of Those Weeks

All day today, I’ve been thinking about the blog and wondering what to write about. Knitting has been pretty much non-existent so there’s nothing to write about there. Work has been a bit on the stressful side, but nothing I really want to write about.

I could write about the weather, I suppose. It’s sunny but not terribly warm. Autumn definitely has us in its grip. John and our landlord have both been working in the garden, harvesting and cleaning up.

That brings me to the purpose of today’s post. I’ve just realized that there are two things that help me get past the stress of the work week (not that it’s all that stressful, but it’s work!). One, as you know, is knitting. Knitting, though, has not come easy in the last while. The other, which will likely come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog, is cooking. I’ve just never really realized just how relaxing I find cooking… until today.

An empty bowl. I can tell you that it was wonderful! It was sublime! It was simple. And it made me realize that cooking, for me, is nothing short of meditative and grounding.

So, what was in the bowl? Well, allow me to back up a little. Last weekend, I made pasta. It’s gone. Today, I decided to make another batch.

When I make pasta, there are always little bits that really don’t qualify as “noodles”. They get piled in a little pile and never really come to more than about a half cup of pasta bits. That’s the cook’s portion. After making the pasta, setting it to dry, I put on a small pot of water and cook the little leftover bits. This time, I also chopped up one clove of garlic, melted a bit of butter and then tossed the cooked pasta in with a bit of parmesan cheese. At the first bite, I realized that all the stress of the previous week had just dissipated. It was a taste of… well… a taste of YUM!!!

I realize I’m going on and on about pasta but it came as something of a surprise to realize just how satisfying and fulfilling and stress-relieving just doing something this simple has been. I suppose it’s partially because it’s another creative endeavour. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of making something that others find delicious. Maybe it’s getting into the dough, feeling your food. I don’t really know. What I do know is that it satisfies at a very deep level.

Have I mentioned that I love cooking?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Speaking of Pasta

Kristie responded to my last post (about pasta), asking if I had a special recipe that works. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes in the past; this time I used a recipe I found on Food.com (one of my favourite sites for finding recipes, incidentally).

I consider this one a keeper. I like the texture of it; I could have rolled it out a little thinner as the noodles puffed up quite a bit on cooking. The noodles have some “tooth” to them, a little chewy (perhaps a touch undercooked?) and have some body to them. It is definitely a recipe I’ll be making again, perhaps even today. That first batch has already been consumed.

We had company the night I made the pasta. They had, apparently, been eating off and on all day (they were in town for a granddaughter’s birthday party and Thanksgiving) but we hadn’t. John made a nice light tomato sauce with garden fresh tomatoes, sweet onions, fresh garlic and some of the last basil leaves from the garden. I cooked the pasta and served it with parmesan cheese and warmed homemade dinner buns and butter, served with a choice of red or white wine (I drink white). It was a lovely light meal and everyone agreed that the pasta was excellent.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Homemade Pasta Dough

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons warm water

Place flour in a large glass bowl and form a well in the middle. Add remaining ingredients into the well. With a fork, in a circular motion, stir wet ingredients just around rim of dry ingredients, bringing a little bit of flour into the wet, a little at a time until all are mixed together.

Pour mixture onto a floured board and knead until tight and glossy. It should be difficult to mix, to a point where no more flour will stay into mixture. Form into a ball and let it sit, covered, for 1/2 – 1 hour.

Cut into manageable pieces to fit into pasta machine. Flour pieces as needed; if dough is too sticky it will not go through the pasta machine smoothly.

Run three times through larger slot size, then once through decreasing sizes progressively until desired thickness. Run through pasta cutter of choice and dry overnight. Store dried pasta in sealed bags or containers.

The original recipe, from Food.com, can be found here: Homemade Pasta Dough.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

What Makes YOU Happy?

Now, why would an ugly table leaf like that make me happy, you wonder?

Well, since we moved into this suite (over a year ago), I’ve had nowhere to attach my pasta maker; the counter tops in here are way too thick to attach it. My table would have been perfect, but it’s too nice to clamp the machine to it, potentially damaging the surface.

When I bought this table, about 12 years ago, it didn’t come with the leaves, even though there are brackets for leaves on either end. I’ve been trying to get someone (anyone!) to make me at least one leaf ever since. I even drew out a blueprint for it. I didn’t want anything pretty, just functional.

John finally took it upon himself to construct it for me. He did have an ulterior motive; he wanted fresh pasta. Now, I have an ugly, but functional table leaf and John and I will be feasting on fresh pasta with fresh tomato, onion and basil sauce for dinner.

What makes YOU happy?

Incidentally, I put a plastic table cloth on the table before clamping the pasta machine to it. The wood John used is treated plywood and is not food safe.

At Least 10,000 People Helped You

With Thanksgiving Day looming, I wanted to share something I came across recently. John owns a cookbook that was copyrighted in 1934 and printed in 1943. The Mystery Chef’s Own Cookbook is a fascinating book; the author, John MacPherson, was the host of a Depression Era/wartime radio recipe show and was, at that time, very popular.

In the introduction of the book, he has a section entitled At Least Ten Thousand People Help You To Prepare Each Meal. I present it here for your reflection. Thanksgiving Day is, in my opinion, the perfect time for such a reminder. Keep in mind, as you read this, that it was written sometime in the 1930’s. Production and delivery methods differ somewhat now, but the message is still the same.

When you sit down at your dinner table tonight, think for a moment of how many people were employed in the growing and preparation of the ingredients you used in cooking that dinner.

When I say ten thousand men and women help us to prepare each meal, I believe the estimate is conservative; and I think you will agree with me when we have traced through the people involved in the production of just one ingredient from its source to your table.

Let us take a pan of hot biscuits. What are the ingredients required? Flour, butter, baking powder and salt (the liquid used can be water). You and I have all these ingredients in our kitchens, ready for use at a moment’s notice. But how did they get there?

Suppose we trace just one of these – flour – from its source to you. The farmer has planted the seed and it has grown to maturity – a waving field of golden grain in the Northwest. Give your imagination free rein as we follow the grains of wheat from that field in the Northwest to your kitchen, where it arrived in the form of a sack of flour. I do not have to fill in all the details, but let me trace in a very superficial way a picture that will show some of those employed in the work of placing that flour in your hands.

First there are the men who sowed and cultivated the grain, and then the threshing machines and the men who run them. Now the trucks are hauling the wheat to a ship on the Great Lakes. Follow that ship – watch the stokers as they shovel coal (and don’t forget the miners who mined the coal which drives the ship’s engines). The ship carries the grain to a great flour mill with its roaring machinery, and here a vast number of men is employed. Then there are the cotton pickers in the South who pick the cotton that feeds the looms that weave the sacks in which the flour is put. And there are the printers who print the name on the sack in order that you and I may be able to recognize the brand of flour we want – an important service since all flours are not alike and the flour we use makes a great difference in the success we have in baking.

I am not going to fill in this picture further, more than to ask you to follow the flour from the mill as it makes its way to you by rail or ship. Think of all the changes of locomotives on the railroad and of all the railroad men that had a part in handling the flour on its way to the grocery store.

Then remember that flour is only one of the many ingredients used in the preparation of a dinner. Trace all these ingredients from their source to your kitchen.

The grocer’s boy is only the messenger bringing to you the fruit of ten thousand other hands.

What are you going to do with these ingredients? Throw together a careless meal? Or are you going to be the artist – one worthy to receive the work of these ten thousand hands, and with loving care prepare a meal so delicious that you will be repaid a thousandfold for your work by the enthusiastic praise of those who are fortunate enough to dine at your table.

Happy Thanksgiving

to all my Canadian friends and family

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It’s Kokanee Time

It’s been a while since I’ve gone for one of my walks. When the temperatures are in the mid to high 20’s (Centigrade), it’s a bit too hot for me. Today was a good day for renewing that habit. It’s dry (so far) and not too hot – perfect walking weather! September is Kokanee spawning season and Mission Creek is a spawning creek; I wanted to check it out.

The Kokanee are definitely running (for more information on kokanee, click here). I saw quite a few red bodies in the creek and many dead salmon, the ones who had already spawned and laid their eggs, completing their life cycle.

As well, autumn is beginning to show her colours. It was a good walk and I leave you with a few pictures taken today.

Autumn colours

Autumn colours2



seed [pd

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spider, spider

No, this isn’t really a post about spiders. It does have to do with cobwebs, though. And yes, there are probably more cobwebs around this house than there should be, but I’m not talking about that kind of cobweb.

Almost two years ago, I started (and frogged) the Cobweb Doily from the lovely book, A Gathering of Lace. You can read about it here if you’re interested in what I wrote back then. When I first attempted it, I was using a hemp lace weight yarn. At one point, I made a mistake or put it down and couldn’t figure out where I was… or something. It was frogged and the yarn turned into something else.

This time, I’m using the same lace weight wool I used for the Queen Silvia shawl. And, this time, it’s working up quickly and beautifully. You’ll have to trust me on the “beautifully” part; right now, it doesn’t look like anything beautiful but, once blocked, it will look completely different. Hopefully, it WILL be beautiful.

I’ve even been planning the blocking of this little piece. The doily consists of seven sections; when finished, each of the sections will be finished with three “leaves”, making a total of 21 “points”. I want to be sure that each of the points is blocked evenly. To that end, I wanted a 21 point template. How do you divide a circle evenly into 21 sections? I went to my trusty Draw Plus program and made a 21 point polygon, which I printed up at work. It’s easier to show you what I came up with than it is to describe it.

The only reason I’m even doing this little project is to help psych myself into starting the Shetland Christening Dress. The weather is beginning to cool and the knitting season is nearing rapidly. Yes, there are other things I could (and should) be finishing, but I like lace. What can I say?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Life Gets Back to Normal

Thank you for all your condolences. My Dad will always be remembered with joy by those of us who knew him and loved him.

Now, as cold as it may sound, life gets back to normal. We all still have to go to work, to eat, to sleep, all those little things that make up our daily lives.

We all know that knitting is a part of my daily life and there has been knitting. More specifically, there has been finishing. The Queen Silvia shawl came off the needles earlier this month but the blocking had to wait until we got home from Abbotsford. That happened yesterday (the blocking, that is).

This isn’t a large shawl by any means. I probably could have blocked a little harder, but it’s the perfect size for a scarf or shoulder cover. Finished size is approximately 46” x 18”.

In other things, the garden is still producing but it is beginning to slow down. While I was away, John kept picking beans and yesterday I froze another two bags (about 4 meals worth) of them. The tomatoes… oh, the tomatoes!!

I think John has 7 or 8 litre containers of stewed tomatoes in the freezer and there are still more coming.

The basil is still going strong, but we have more than enough pesto to last us until next year so I’ve decided to give some away. A friend didn’t have much luck with her basil and, since she’ll be around the house for her grandson’s birthday, I’m letting her have as much as she wants to pick (or I might pick it for her). It is slowing down somewhat as the nights are cooling down, but there’s still enough there for a good batch of pesto.

And, while I was away, John even canned nine quarts of peaches! We did give a couple of jars away and we had to sample one (it wasn’t a full jar) but there are still a few jars that will not be touched until the dead of winter, when we’re craving summer. Or maybe we’ll open one to have with our Thanksgiving dinner. I can already imagine THAT feast!

All in all, we have our small freezer almost full of produce from our own garden. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In Memoriam


Sjoerd (Johnny) Teyema, born in Garijp, Friesland in the Netherlands on August 20, 1929, died at Menno Home in Abbotsford, BC on September 7, 2011.

My Dad leaves behind his wife of 58 years, 5 daughters and 2 sons, 16 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

I leave you with excerpts from the memorial service program, collaboratively put together by his daughters.

“Dad was trained as a carpenter and took military training but just missed being deployed to Indonesia.

Soon after their marriage on June 4, 1953, Dad and Mom emigrated to Canada. They settled in Winnipeg and, in 1966, moved to Abbotsford. They also lived in Salmon Arm for a while until they moved back to Abbotsford in 1987.

Dad had many jobs in his life time, including picking vegetables, steel foundry making train wheels and general handyman. After moving to BC, he worked at building homes with Mattie Homes. He was then self employed, building many barns throughout the Fraser Valley. Finally, he worked as a custodian at Abbotsford Christian School and volunteered as a crossing guard.

During retirement, Dad enjoyed talking, making wooden toys, gardening, and his daily walks. Alzheimer’s took a firm hold on Dad in the 2000’s and gradually he was unable to do all of the things he loved.

Dad moved into Menno Home in 2007, made friends in a way that transcended barriers and lived there until his passing.”

He may be gone from us, but his legacy will live on in his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He has left an indelible mark on all our lives.

Love you forever, Dad.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

September Already?

What happened to August? It was just here and now it’s gone! I know I haven’t been blogging very regularly this summer; it’s been pretty busy around here. Between the garden and numerous birthdays, the month has slipped by far too quickly.

Knitting has been almost non-existent throughout the month of August. I have been working on the Queen Silvia shawl, but only sporadically. It’s been quite a hot month, with temperatures in the low to mid 30’s (mid to high 80’s F); knitting and sweaty, hot hands do not mix well.

As for Queen Silvia, I’m working on the border now. That’s 800+ stitches. I have 6 rounds left to knit and it will be done. Now that the temperatures have been dropping slightly, I’m hoping to have it finished soon.

In the garden, things are doing very well! So far, we’ve frozen corn and green beans and the beans are still producing. I’ve made, and frozen, three batches of pesto and will be making another batch today. The tomatoes are starting to ripen now so we’ll be processing them before long, too. And then, there’s the lettuce. There is so much lettuce in the garden right now that we could be eating salads for the entire year! Unfortunately, there’s no way of keeping the lettuce that long and there’s not really much else you can do with lettuce, is there? Hmm, I think I’ll try to persuade John to make a Caesar salad today.

We found out last night that J, who lives upstairs, will be leaving town for the foreseeable future (up to a year and maybe longer) and we will be “inheriting” his part of the garden. That means there will be potatoes, peppers and a variety of other things to harvest before long. We’ve also been given numerous zucchinis, which has been turned into zucchini soup, which has also been frozen and will be savoured some time this coming winter. You know, even though I’m not much of a gardener, I must admit that I love the fact that we can grow our own produce. It feels so good to be eating things that we’ve grown!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Book Review–Knitting Brioche

A couple of weeks ago, I put in a Knit Picks order. Seeing that their book sale was still on at the time, instead of just ordering the circular needles I needed, I also ordered two books. One of the books is “Wrapped in Lace” by Margaret Stove; I’ll review that one another time. The second book, the one I’m reviewing today, is “Knitting Brioche” by Nancy Marchant.

First impression? This is a visually beautiful book. It’s inviting. The book has five sections and the page colours are different for each section, making it very easy to find each. I’ve done a little brioche knitting in the past (I made a vest for John, a Nancy Marchant pattern from Interweave Knits… years back). It’s a reversible fabric that can be quite warm. It’s more known in Europe that it is here in North America. In texture, it’s very similar to Fisherman Rib, but the technique is different.

The description of the book (from the back cover) reads as follows:

Knitting Brioche is the first and only knitting book devoted exclusively to brioche stitch, a knitting technique that creates a double-sided fabric. This complete guide will take you from your first brioche stitches to your first (or hundredth) project, and even to designing with brioche stitch, if you desire. Whether you’re new to brioche knitting or experienced at “brioching”, author Nancy Marchant provides the information and inspiration you need.

brioche collage

Ms. Marchant includes a new set of abbreviations and symbols for brioche knitting and the first section includes a description of all of these. For instance, brk (or bark) is brioche knit, brp (or burp) is brioche purl. For the symbols for brioche knitting, Ms. Marchant was inspired by Japanese knitting symbols. All of the explanations constitute the first section of the book.

The second section is a step by step journey through brioche knitting, going from the plain brioche stitch in one colour, casting on and off, working brioche in the round to doing it all in two or more colours.

The third section is a brioche “stitchionary” that includes approximately 50 pages of different stitches. The fourth section explains design elements in brioche knitting, including points, lines, form (motifs), texture, and colour.

The fifth, and final, section contains patterns, some of which are highlighted in the above photo.

Yesterday, I started to work my way through the book, knitting the pink swatch in the top picture. Ms. Marchant’s instructions are clear, well-written and well illustrated.

This is not just a book of patterns by any means. In fact, the patterns almost feel secondary; she had to include some patterns to go along with the instructional part of the book. This book is primarily a primer on brioche knitting and, as such, it’s a magnificent resource. I’m very happy to have it in my knitting library.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Big Chill

No, I’m not referring to the movie. This past week, I made the long trek to our local thrift store, the one that’s about three doors down from where I work. I’ve been on the look out for one specific item and I’ve been waiting for over a year to find it. Imagine my surprise when I found what I was looking for!

I’m talking about an ice cream maker.

It’s completely manual and uses no ice and no salt. The aluminum basket has liquid in it; you freeze the entire bowl and then put your ingredients in, turn the handle every few minutes and, before you know it, you have something absolutely scrumptious!

Like this…

If you’re interested, you can find the recipe over at the Food Network. It was easy to make and, believe me, it tastes amazing. I’ve never had homemade ice cream before; this will not be the last time I have it, that’s for sure!