Sunday, June 28, 2015

About the Blanket

When I put up my new blog header last week I suddenly realized I had never posted about the blanket that's in the middle of the collage. To be honest, I'm not much of a blanket knitter. There are dozens of socks and sweaters and vests to be found in my home, but not a single handknit blanket. Still, a new baby needs a new blanket, so with the upcoming birth of Rebekah and Anton's first child I cast on.

It can be a bit overwhelming trying to pick out a baby blanket pattern. I wanted one that wasn't too fussy. It needed to look like it would stand up to not just babyhood, but could also be used down the road to build blanket forts, snuggle up with while watching a movie, or simply using on a bed without having it look babyish.

That took the Ravelry search down from over 13,000 to a more manageable number in the low hundreds, but that was still a lot of patterns to choose from. It wasn't until I started thinking about this baby, and how she will be the first one in their family to be born in Canada, that I knew which blanket I needed to knit. Here's my version of the Hudson Bay Inspired Crib Blanket.

I used Rowan's Pure Wool Worsted yarn to knit the blanket. It has become my "go to" yarn when I want to knit with superwash yarn. In general I'm not a fan of superwash, but let's face it. What new mom wants to hand wash a baby blanket? And even if she did, I could see disaster in the making the first time Anton did a load of baby clothes.

I was surprised at how big it was once I cast off and spread it out on the floor. Definitely big enough for a blanket fort at some future date!

I have to confess that I was more than a little bit tired of garter stitch by the time I finished. And the bigger the blanket grew, the hotter and more unwieldy it became to work with. But I'm really happy with the finished project, and hope the parents to be are as well. I told myself I couldn't cast on any baby sweaters until I got this off the needles, so the minute this was finished a baby kimono was cast on. More on that next time...

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Joining in with Annie to share some of my own Happenings.

Looking at the jars of pickled garlic scapes and jalapeƱo raspberry jam (trust me, it tastes great!) sitting on my counter.

Smelling the fresh morning air, with hints of forest and garden and flowers and a recent rain all mixed together.

Waiting impatiently for my raspberry shrub to be ready to drink.

Anticipating a weekend with nothing on the calendar.

Knitting a wee baby kimono.

Reading Black House by Peter May and The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks.

Making a batch of kale and pistachio pesto.

Eating the first raspberries and cherries of the season.

Watching ITV's Home Fires series on my Slingplayer.

Missing this little girl after a short trip over to Victoria to see her earlier this week.

How about you? Do you have any Happenings you would like to share?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Family Gathering

The past week has flown by in a wonderful mix of family, hiking, kayaking, card games, food and laughter. My brother John and niece Corinne flew out to Spokane from Chicago, picked up my mom, then made the long drive up to Canada for a visit.

We hiked to Lindeman Lake, one of my all-time favourite places.

Of course, I had to take them up Teapot Hill! There was a bumper crop of teapots. We spotted 30 by the time we finished our hike.

The weather was hot and dry while they were here, which was perfect for kayaking.

It was nice for Corinne and my kids to have some cousin time together. She has just graduated from university and is interviewing for jobs, so it was great she was able to make the trip out while she had the chance. I think the best thing of all was my mom getting to spend time with so many of her grandchildren at once. And after they left our place they went over to Victoria for to see Lucy, so there was some great grandchild time for her as well.

It's a rare thing, well, at least in the life of the Hammond family, for things to go exactly as planned. We had perfect weather, there were no disasters, nobody got sick, there was enough food, and we all had a great time. It just doesn't get any better than that. Now it's back to reality. There's laundry to be done, groceries to be purchased, blog reading to catch up on, and some rather important knitting to finish. A close look at some of the pictures should give you a clue as to what that knitting is for!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dear Mrs. Hutchinson's Class

Dear Mrs. Hutchinson's Class,

I had the nicest surprise waiting for me in my mailbox yesterday. It was a big envelope stuffed with letters from all of you! I hurried back to my house, made a cup of tea, and settled in to read each one of the wonderful notes you had sent me.

When I wrote Ting Ting I wasn't quite sure who would end up reading it. But I knew who I hoped would read it. I wanted it to be children just like you. Some of you came to Canada from other countries, just like Ting Ting. Some of you have parents who came to Canada from other countries. And some of you have friends who immigrated here, so you're like Ting Ting's friend Hannah.

You asked me some questions, so I will try to answer them as best I can.

Q: Can I please write more books?

A: I have written one more book since I wrote Ting Ting. It's called The Moment, and one of you mentioned in your letter to me that you are reading it.

Q: How did the grandfather get sick? Did he get a disease?

A: Ting Ting's grandfather was very old. He didn't have a disease, just a tired heart.

Q: Why did Ting Ting's family go to Canada?

A: Ting Ting's father was studying in Canada. Canada offered him the chance to live here permanently, and so her parents decided it would be a good place for Ting Ting to grow up. It was a very hard decision for them to make.

Q: Has this happened to me before?

A: I'm an immigrant myself. It was much easier for me than it was for Ting Ting though. I came here as an adult, and from a country where English is spoken, so I didn't have to learn a new language.

Q: Where did I get the idea?

A: The story idea came from someone I know who immigrated here from China when she was Ting Ting's age. Like Ting Ting, she stayed with an aunt for many months while waiting to join her parents, who were already in Canada. She had to learn English, just like Ting Ting. And there were many people who were kind to her, just like in the story.

Q: Did Ting Ting go back to China?

A: The real Ting Ting stayed in Canada. But she has gone back to China many times to visit her family. Here's a picture of her taken several years ago when we were visiting China. She's eating the stick candy you read about in the book.

Q: How did the story end?

A: The real life Ting Ting grew up and became a doctor. She also married my oldest son, and is now a mom to her own little girl, my granddaughter Lucy. If you look on the side bar of my blog you can see a picture of them under the names "Karsten and Diana."

That you so much for your wonderful letters. I loved each and every one of them. I could tell you put so much hard work into writing them. Mrs. Hutchinson must be very proud of all of you!

Best wishes,

Kristie Hammond

Saturday, May 30, 2015

In Real Life

One of my favourite things about the blogging community is when I get to meet a blogger In Real Life. This past Wednesday I was so happy to be able to spend the day with blogger Patricia from Red Cardinal. She and her husband Gary were headed back home to Australia after visiting their daughter in Ottawa, and had a day's layover in Vancouver.

I picked them up at their hotel and we headed to the place at the top of their "must see" list for Vancouver. Stanley Park is at the top of most people's list of things to see and do when in the city, and the great thing about it is those of us who live nearby never get tired of going there either.

We saw the Totem Poles.

Patricia is an art major and volunteers at an art gallery in Brisbane, so she was very interested in the designs carved on the poles.

She's also an admirer of Emily Carr's paintings, and as we drove through Stanley Park she could see how Emily Carr was inspired by the deep, dark, dense coastal forests. We stopped at Prospect Point, where we were treated to a classical musician playing the erhu.  Here's a link if you would like to hear him play. By this time we were famished, so decided to have lunch at the restaurant there. Not only was the view terrific, the food was amazing. I had a salmon burger on the best gluten-free bun I've ever eaten. I was positive they had made a mistake and given me a wheat bun, and even double checked with the server. I need to get ahold of that recipe!

We had a tough decision to make after we finished our lunch. We only had time to see one more attraction before they needed to be back to their hotel. In the end we decided to go to the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and save Granville Island for our next meet-up. It turned out to be a good choice. I had never been before, and the garden was very pretty. I felt like I was back in China, minus the crowds of people.

I especially loved the rock mosaics. The designs looked like they could be incorporated into some knitting. 

All too soon it was time to say goodbye. We never stopped talking the whole time we were together, and both Patricia and Gary were very patient with all of my questions about life in Australia. Most of them were about snakes. I am petrified of them, and can't imagine living in a place that has an abundance of them, especially since they have the kind that can kill you. Of course, Patricia had the same concerns about life in Canada with our bears. I pointed out that while we might have bears, at least they aren't poisonous. And on that note, here is what I purchased at the gift shop in Stanley Park to remember what turned out to be a very special day.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Short Long Weekend

I had an awesome time this past weekend in Victoria. The weather was amazing, we got to see and do lots of neat things, and best of all, I got to spend three days with this munchkin.

When I arrived we drove straight from the ferry terminal to the annual Highland Games. Here's Lucy watching the sheep shearing demonstration. I'm always happy to encourage her about anything to do with the world of fibre.

Sunday we went to the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sydney. Lucy loved it there! Here she is looking at an overhead display.

It took her awhile to gather up the courage to put her hand in this touching pool.

After a picnic lunch we headed to one of Lucy's favourite beaches. She splashed, and giggled and ran around the whole time we were there.

She was a little sad when we had to leave, but was too exhausted to put up much of a fuss.

Monday we went for a long walk along the waterfront. I love being by the ocean - the smells and sounds and sights are so different than they are inland.

Of course, there was lots of time spent playing at home too. Lucy loves her Mr. Potato Head, and thought it was hilarious to wear his glasses.

I caught the 3:00 ferry home on Monday, and, unbelievably for the middle of May, it was warm enough to sit out on the deck all the way home. The scenery for the first half of the ride is stunning.

That was definitely the shortest long weekend ever!


Friday, May 15, 2015

A Long Weekend and a Lopi Vest

I need to keep this one short. I brought my computer out on the front porch to compose this post over an hour ago, and due to numerous interruptions am just now getting started. It's the Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. I had never heard of Victoria Day until Jay and I sat down to pick a wedding date, and it was suggested as a possibility since his Canadian family would have the extra day to make the trip down. That was thirty-six years ago, which seems hard to believe.

I have another finished project off the needles. I actually started this way back in February, and then it got shoved aside while I worked on more exciting things. I promised myself that I couldn't cast on anything new until I finished this, which was all the motivation I needed. Here is my Lett-Lopi sweater, hot off the needles.

It was a bit lumpy before it was washed and blocked, but it all evened out as it dried.

I'm not that keen on pictures of myself. It wasn't until this blog and Ravelry that I would even allow pictures of me to be taken. At least now I have a kindred spirit for a photographer instead of a reluctant husband. I'll give him credit for trying, but let's face it. He's a Muggle. I've also noticed it's much easier to smile when one's not feeling annoyed.

I'm off to Victoria tomorrow to visit this sweet pea, so should have lots of pictures to share next week.

Happy Victoria Day!