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!

video

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!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hap-py

Last month I joined a hap knitalong on the Knit British forum on Ravelry. A knitalong is just what its name implies. A group of knitters, sometimes in person but more often through a forum on Ravelry, all start knitting something at the same time. It can be anything from socks to mittens to a sweater. Sometimes it isn't an object but a goal, like knitting something from your yarn stash, or something for charity.

Ella from Jamieson & Smith has done a lovely job of explaining what a hap is in a recent blog post which can be found here. It's a lovely write-up, and she has included lots of great pictures. (The very short, and not completely correct definition is a hap is a kind of shawl originally made and worn in Shetland.)

I knew I wanted my hap to reflect the colours of Shetland in some way, and I also knew I wanted to knit the hap from my stash yarn. When I was in Shetland I had purchased a kit to knit a sweater by Kate Davies, but two years later the balls of yarn were still sitting untouched, so I decided the yarn should be a hap instead. Kate had already done the hard work of choosing colours that reflected the natural beauty of Shetland, so all I had to do was narrow down which of the colours in the kit to use. To begin with, I went back to my trip photos and picked several from Burrastow House, the amazing B&B where Kath and Jean and I stayed.







Then I used this neat trick I learned on the Knit British forum for choosing your colours. You simply try combinations by wrapping the yarn around a piece of cardboard until you find one you like.




There was also the dilemma of which hap pattern to choose. In the end I decided on the Half Hansel Hap by Gudrun Johnston. It was being knit by many others in the Knit British Hapalong, and I really liked the look of it. But better yet, Gudrun has a Craftsy class where she takes you step by step through the process of knitting it. Between the encouragement on Ravelry and the excellent teaching by Gudrun, I actually managed to successfully knit the hap. Introducing Burrastow, the latest project off my needles.




Thanks to my knitting neighbour Lynda who kindly volunteered to take pictures, here's one of me with my new hap.




I loved everything about this project from start to finish, and was actually sad when I cast off. Usually by the time I finish something I'm ready to move on, but not this time. I'll definitely be making another one at some point.

*If you're interested in joining the hapalong there's still lots of time. It's open until July 12.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Reality Check

Earlier in the week I was heading out on a walk, and as I took a look around me the thought I've had so many times before ran through my head. I love where I live. The mountains, the trees, the lake, my little cottage, my front porch (back in use again now that the weather has improved). I am surrounded by so many good things in my life, and those are the things I tend to blog about.

Then I had another thought. Because I like to share the good bits of my life with you, you might get the impression that everything is always wonderful, that there isn't anything unsightly nearby, that all my knitting projects turn out, and that our cottage is immaculate. I think it's time to set the record straight.

Our cat Emily is shedding. It looks like she exploded on top of the couch.


Fergus is shedding too, although his hair tends to collect on the floor.


Yes, my daily walk is lovely, but at the junction of the highway with the road down to Lindell Beach I pass by this, possibly the world's ugliest sign.


Which, when I think about it, is perfect since it directs unfortunate campers at the nearby provincial campground to this, possibly the world's ugliest storefront.


Then there's my knitting. Every time I walk into my little craft closet I try to avert my eyes from this lump of disaster. It was meant to be a sweater for a newborn, but about halfway through my knitting I had to admit it was a complete failure. Unless I could find a kindergarten age child who didn't mind wearing a baby kimono.


Then there is this sock.


I actually quite like this sock, but I fear it is never going to have a "sole mate." You know the expression "it's what's on the inside that counts?"


That single sock has been languishing in my sock basket for over three years now. I don't have the heart to throw it out. I don't have the courage to weave in all those ends. And I certainly don't have any plans to knit the second one.

Now if you'll excuse me I think I better go find the vacuum. Have a great weekend!



Saturday, May 2, 2015

Saturday Six

Fergus and Jenny


This week when Rebekah and I had the dogs on the off leash trail by our cottage another dog owner showed up with her two dogs. When he saw the other dogs he ran straight to the gate to go back home. The lady laughed and asked if this was Fergus the Fearful, and said she knew him. So apparently my poor dog has a reputation for being cowardly. Looking on the bright side, that's way better than having one for being aggressive. In the meantime, Jay was in Victoria last weekend visiting Lucy, and Jenny pouted the whole time he was gone. She spent most of the weekend burrowed under these sheets.


Boleros

There has been a lot of knitting happening, especially on the flights to and from Chicago. I had ordered some yarn from Knit Picks that was waiting for me in Spokane, and by the time I drove back home a week later I had knit two little Entrechat boleros for Lucy. Here are pictures of the blue bolero. My apologies for not having a picture of Lucy wearing one of them. Jay took them over to her last weekend, but she was sick and in no mood to model her nana's knitting.



Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds have returned!


Mother's Day

I received my Mother's Day gift from Jay early this year. I have been wanting a bench for our front porch, and IKEA had one that looked perfect. Rebekah kindly volunteered to pick it up for us when she went into Vancouver this week for an appointment. When I took out my current sock to knit I realized its colours perfectly match the cushions.


So do the colours of the Half Hansel Hap I'm knitting. It would appear I'm in a colour rut.


Scratch and Dent

This week has not been kind to our cottage. When Rebekah and I built the bench we were very careful to have cardboard spread out over the hardwood floor to protect it. This was a good plan, except for when one of the pieces went flying and landed corner down, just beyond the cardboard.

That same day Jay, who is 6'4" tall, bumped into a picture hanging in our main bathroom. (At 5'4'' this is not something that would even be possible for me to do.) The picture fell, and as it did so put a big black mark on the wall. He said he would just use some Vim, a cream scrub meant for the bathtub and sink, to try and remove it. Gasp! I told him it wouldn't just remove the mark. The paint would also be gone. Some time later I saw him heading to the bathroom with the scrubbing pad we use on dishes and also quickly nixed that plan. I got out a Mr. Clean sponge and all is well.

I wish I could say the same about our dining room table. For many years, actually all of them right up until we moved here, we have had old beater tables. The kind that are kid friendly and it doesn't matter if accidents with crayons, markers, scissors and/or knives happen. The kind that are already so ugly and scarred you wouldn't even notice if a new wound was inflicted on it. So it was a big deal to me to finally get a table that didn't look like it had come from the recycling depot. I was careful to pick out one that would still be user-friendly, but one that would also be pleasing to look at.

It became apparent within a month or so of owning this new table that it was defective. The finish on the table top wasn't done properly, and little chips were forming all over it. I contacted the store owner and after looking at the pictures I sent him he agreed there was something wrong and he would replace it. That was over a year ago and I am still trying to get him to deliver on his promise. At the end of November he did call and say they could bring the table out the next day, but the thing was we were in the midst of one of the torrential downpours we get here, and after talking to him we agreed the table would be ruined by the time they got it moved in. He said he thought they could reschedule and get it here before Christmas.

Well, here we are at the beginning of May and I still don't have the table. I have emailed multiple times and can't even get him to respond. I'm not sure what to do. I hate confrontation. But every time I look at my table I feel sort of cheated. I know in light of some of the awful things happening around the world that this is truly a first world problem. Still, it bothers me. Have you ever made a major investment in something, only to find it was defective? And if so, how did you resolve the problem? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Travel

A destination has finally been chosen, and tickets have been purchased. We've gone back and forth between Ireland and Scotland/Shetland, but in the end Ireland is the winner. In September Kath, Melissa and I will be doing this walk on the Kerry Way. I've purchased new rain gear, as somehow I doubt the weather will be quite as lovely as in the picture on the Hillwalk Tours site. I'll also be spending a few days with John and Gill, my friends from England. If you know of any "must see" spots in Ireland, and especially any "must see" yarn stores please let me know in the comment section.

Have a great weekend!





Sunday, April 26, 2015

Whirlwind

Sorry for the blog absence. I got home from my Chicago trip late Wednesday afternoon. Thursday was spent grocery shopping, doing laundry, and catching up on a long list of things that needed my attention after being away for a week. Friday I had to drive down to Bellingham to pick up Rebekah, who is here again to take care of some things before their move back to Vancouver next month. And Saturday was spent recovering.

There is so much to blog about - a knitalong I've joined on Ravelry, two little sweaters I've finished knitting for Lucy, a new favourite kitchen product, along with some other odds and ends. But I want to devote this post to the Chicago trip.

My mom and I had to catch a 6:00 AM flight. I don't recommend this as an optimal departure time, especially when travelling with an elderly parent. There were some tense moments. Then we were going to leave my vehicle at the Park-n-Ride near the airport, but in the dark, and with my brain not quite engaged due to the ungodly hour, I managed to miss the turn-off. More tense moments.

Then the real fun began. It turns out that Southwest Airlines (or maybe all US airlines, I'm not sure) have a policy that if you don't show up within a certain time period before your flight they can mark your luggage as late, and don't guarantee it will get on the plane with you. We missed the cut-off by about three minutes. More tense moments. The very nice airline employee said not to worry, it was a small airport and she was sure the luggage would make it on. She even promised to come let me know at the gate once she saw it get on the plane. I think she could see my mom was not happy.

So all of that had happened and it wasn't even 5:30 in the morning. This may be an overly pessimistic view of the world, but I think it's a general rule in life that when your day has already started on a rapid downhill trajectory and it isn't even 6:00 yet, things probably aren't going to turn around. We were meant to fly to Denver, then change planes and go on to Chicago. I could do a series of blog posts on the events that transpired over the next eight hours, but will spare you the pain of having to read the gruesome details.

The Reader's Digest version is, our plane got diverted to Pueblo, Colorado due to weather in Denver. Eight other planes got diverted to Pueblo as well, and we had to wait in a queue to get more fuel before we could try landing in Denver again. While waiting they finally got some air stairs pulled up to the plane and we were told we could get off the plane, but if we did so we would not be allowed back on for security reasons. After waiting an hour and a half we finally taxied out to the runway, but then sat there for another hour because the pilots had just been told there was now wind shear in Denver. Any chance of making our connecting flight was gone. All I can say is thank heavens I had my knitting with me. And a phone plan that allows me to use my phone in the US, so my brother and I could alter our plans for when he would pick us up at the airport.

I'll skip over the nightmare of getting us onto the next available flight out of Denver to Chicago. Just picture an airport full of angry people whose flights had all been messed with, and airline workers who looked like their day wasn't going so great either, and you'll have the general idea. Many tense moments, and by now my mom was done. She had had it, and I felt terrible. But there wasn't anything I could do but keep us moving forward. We got on the next flight out with minutes to spare. At this point I would just like to say that sometimes, in the midst of an awful thing, a good thing can happen, and that good thing is magnified because of the timing. As we boarded the flight I spoke with the flight attendant about getting something for my mom, who is diabetic and had missed lunch, a little something to eat. Several passengers overheard and offered food to my mom, and those acts of kindness really took the rough edges off of what was a less than brilliant experience.

We proceeded without incident on to Chicago. Well, except for when the flight attendant snapped at me over the loudspeaker to sit down as I tried to go use the washroom. I've never seen an airline take turbulence, real or imagined, so seriously. Of course, I knew that there was no way our luggage made it onto the plane. We barely made it on. So in spite of the reassurance in Spokane that our luggage would get to Chicago when we did, it ended up coming in on that 9:30 flight after all, and my brother had to make an extra trip back to the airport to pick it up.

I'm happy to report that the rest of our time was wonderful. My niece Danielle was with us for the weekend. We played many hands of pinochle.


My brother and I went for long walks every day. While we were at this nature reserve I spotted cardinals, blue jays, and eastern bluebirds. Here I am trying to get a picture of a jay.


Saturday evening my mom had bought tickets for us to go to Tommy Gun's Garage. It's a dinner theatre set up like a Speakeasy during the Prohibition Era in the 1920s. My mom and dad had gone to the show many years ago when visiting Chicago, and my mom wanted me to see it. We had a great time! Here's my mom being led in by one of the gangsters.


My brother knows how much I love to knit, so he made sure were had time before the show to stop at Loopy Yarns. Thanks to blog reader Sue at Granny's World who emailed me about this shop! Of course I had to buy a souvenir skein of yarn. I had the lady put it into a cake so my mom and brother could see how a ball winder and swift worked.


Then my brother surprised me by buying one of their beautiful hand thrown pottery yarn bowls!


Sunday we played more cards, and in the evening went to Mastro's Steakhouse. The food was great, and our server was a dead ringer for Aidan Turner, the actor who plays the part of Ross in the new BBC series Poldark.


We had an uneventful flight home on Tuesday. The only glitch was a delay with our connection in Las Vegas. Somehow, my mom didn't seem to mind this as much as she did sitting on the tarmac in Pueblo.


So that's it. Chicago done and dusted. My apologies for a very long-winded post. I've gotten behind in my blog reading while I was away, so my apologies for that as well. I'm happy to be home, and hope to catch up with all of you this week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Away Again

I thought I should do a quick post before I disappear for a few days. Tomorrow I am driving down to Spokane, then Friday my mom and I are flying to Chicago to visit my brother. I think this might turn out to be my lowest budget trip ever. My brother has air miles running out his ears, so he got the tickets. And my mom is not in great health and isn't really able to do much in the way of tourist activities, so I don't see it costing us very much when we are there. Unless, of course, I happen upon a yarn shop.

I always enjoy reading your comments, and wanted to respond to a few things from the last couple of posts I have written. Several of you wondered if it would be possible to have the cougar moved to a different location. Unfortunately that isn't a possibility. There are several reasons for this, the main one being the cost involved. Generally speaking, in this province when there is a bear or cougar that is proving to be a problem they are put down. It's the reason the conservation officer said he wouldn't come out unless several other complaints were made. To come out meant he would have to shoot the cougar.

As for the heron nests, I was very surprised as well when I saw how small they were compared to the size of the birds. We had binoculars with us, and when I got a close-up view it looked rather silly to see such a big bird in such a small nest. I have no idea how there could possibly be room for eggs!

Also, when I mentioned I was starting a sweater called the Plain Grandpa Sweater there was a comment saying the sweater seemed too nice for its name. I agree. Here it is, finished and ready to be gifted to a friend.

Plain Grandpa Sweater, size 12 months

The instructions didn't say how to make the button loop, so I did some Googling and came up with this YouTube tutorial. I was really pleased with the result.


Now it's time to do some packing. I hope you have a great week!

*Edited to say this is a baby sweater, meant to fit a a 12 month old. It looks bigger than it really is in the picture. Ravelry details here.