Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekend Review

The past weekend seemed to fly by at breakneck speed. In fact, at one point I was afraid someone might literally end up breaking their neck, but I'll get to that part in a minute.

Saturday was such a special day. It was the day that two cousins met for the first time.

I think these two are going to be very good friends, and possibly get into trouble together on more than one occasion when they get older. Actually, there might be three of us getting into trouble.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Vancouver. We went for a walk down to Jericho Beach. You can see by the state of the grass that Vancouver is in the midst of a drought. Watering restrictions have been in place for awhile now.

Saturday was all about family. Sunday was about weeding and hiking. Do you ever have a job you dread doing, so you keep putting it off until you absolutely have to do it? For me one of those dreaded jobs is weeding. For over two weeks I've been looking around our yard thinking that I really need to tackle the weeds, but successfully avoiding acting on that thought. Then yesterday I realized that I am going to be gone for most of the next week, and if I didn't do it then it was going to be a massive job by the time I returned. Three hours and multiple wheelbarrow loads of weeds hauled to the compost later I was finished.

Then yesterday afternoon some of us in the small outdoor club here at The Cottages hiked to Lindeman Lake. We debated whether or not to cancel due to all the smoke that had moved in from the horrible forest fires burning down in Washington State, but in the end decided to go anyway. (The two problems with hiking in all that smoke are that it is unhealthy, and that it obscures the view.)

The problem with the hike ended up having nothing to do with the smoke. It had to do with the fact that the hike is challenging in several spots, and one of the outdoor club members is 76 years old. From hearing him talk about previous hikes he had done I thought the hike in to Lindeman Lake wouldn't be a problem for him. I was wrong. I felt horribly guilty and responsible since I was the one that had suggested it, and had rated it as no more difficult than Teapot Hill. In a way it isn't, but there are more rocks and tree roots you have to climb over, and a couple of steep sections where it's easy to lose your footing. As I stood watching him make his way down the worst of those steep bits I felt sick to my stomach. I was so worried he was going to fall and get badly injured. Thankfully that didn't happen, but it still makes me feel a little queasy when I think about it.

I don't have a single picture from yesterday's hike to share with you. Sorry about that. The smoke was so bad there was no point in even taking a camera. But I do have lots of pictures from Saturday, so here's one of Ella instead.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fred and George and Ella

After the summer sweater disaster I was feeling the need to cast on a quick project, one with a relatively high probability of success. The Fred & George socks had been in my Ravelry queue since Interweave Knits came out with their special Harry Potter edition back in 2013. I love the colourwork in these socks, so decided it was time to cast on.

They were a quick knit, and I liked making them enough I might try them again in some different colours. By the way, it isn't an optical illusion that the left sock looks a bit bigger than the right. I knit the right sock first using cubic needles, which are supposed to be easier on your hands. Not only did I find they actually hurt my hands, I didn't like the way they felt when I was knitting with them. I switched to regular double pointed needles for the second sock, and obviously felt way more relaxed knitting it. The size difference won't matter when I'm wearing them, so it's not a big deal. But if they had been something like sleeves on a sweater it would have been, so I guess the lesson here is beware of switching needle types in the middle of a project.

In other news I've been in to visit baby Ella this week. I had already forgotten just how tiny she is! Rebekah is feeling much better, and we even managed to take Ella for a walk down to Jericho Beach.

She seems to be a very calm baby, even though it doesn't look like it in the picture of the two of us.

In other news, it has cooled off here again, and we've had some much needed rain. There are so many fires in our province right now, including one near Harrison Lake, not too far from where we live. Yesterday I went for a hike up Teapot Hill. I've started using Nordic walking poles when I go, which makes it a much better workout. I like how they match this teapot.

I did the hike just before the storm hit. The sun was filtering through the trees, and it was so beautiful I just had to stop and take a picture.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Two Winners and a Loser

Thank you everyone for your kind comments about wee baby Ella. She is doing well, and so are Rebekah and Anton. They have had lots of visitors - friends, aunts, an uncle and Jay have all dropped by to meet her. Here she is, getting to know her granddad.

I finished my first ever Baby Sweater on Two Needles a couple weeks ago, but in the midst of all the excitement of Ella's early arrival, I am only just now getting around to showing it to you. I love the old-fashioned look of this sweater. I will definitely knit this pattern again. Ravelry details can be found here.

Surprisingly, my other winner in the crafting department is a sewing project rather than a knitting one. On a quiet day last week I sat down at my machine and whipped out this pillowcase from a kit I had purchased from The Loopy Ewe. It's not often I have a victory in the sewing category.

And it's not often I end up a loser with my knitting, but I have to say when I do it tends to be on a grand scale. At the beginning of the summer I started knitting a shell out of a new yarn called Lyonesse from Blacker Yarns in the UK. This yarn is a blend of wool and linen, and is both gorgeous to look at and a dream to knit with. I was aiming for a loose fitting sweater that I could throw on on cool summer evenings.

What I ended up with was something that resembled a gunny sack with armholes, sort of like what people wore during the Great Depression. So this lump of yarn is going to be frogged and knit into something else. I have a pattern in mind, but probably won't knit it until next spring. Realistically I don't have time to finish it for this summer, so have lost my momentum for now.

I think the whole sack look must be trending right now in the fashion world. A couple weeks ago Rebekah and I popped into a Roots store near where she lives and I pulled a shirt/sack/hastily sewn together blob of material off the rack that was the identical shape of the sweater I had just decided to rip out. Trending or not, this sweater is a loser.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Welcome Ella!

I would like to introduce the newest member of the Hammond clan. Ella was born Sunday night, and both mom and baby are doing well.

She clearly didn't understand the part where she was supposed to be an August baby, or maybe she did and just wanted to surprise everyone.

I needn't have worried about this little sweater fitting her. She weighs just 5 pounds, 15 ounces, officially making her the smallest baby I have ever held.

Of course I had to introduce her to knitting and tea. Maybe I'm a wee bit biased, but I think she looks quite interested.

Their first family photo.

Welcome baby Ella!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Officially Two!

It's official. Lucy is now two years old. She's at that wonderful age when blowing out candles on a cupcake is even better than the presents. (Either that, or she has inherited the fire bug genes from her dad's side of the family.) 

Two is when you want to be Nana's helper. Watering the garden is a treat rather than a chore.

Two is when you discover the joy of picking and eating blueberries, fresh off the bushes.

Two-year-olds are also big enough to swim in the pool, and at the lake. They can pick vegetables out of the garden, and they fit perfectly into a play house. 

Two-year-olds can make your heart melt by reaching out to hold your hand, giving hugs, or sweetly singing along to a song from Frozen when you're driving home from the zoo. And they are even old enough to enjoy some time on Nana's front porch. Happy Birthday Lucy!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Four Cuppa Day

Today has been the perfect temperature, both inside the cottage and out. I love these kinds of days because it's cool enough to have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon cup of tea (added to my two early morning cups!), but warm enough to sit out on the front porch to drink them.

Today is also momentous in its own sort of way, because it was exactly two years ago we moved here. Here's the post I wrote just a few days after arriving, and the one I wrote a year ago. So much has happened in the past two years, much of it wonderful, and, as life tends to go, some of it quite difficult. Our family has added Lucy, and soon there will be another grandchild added to the mix. Of all the special things that have happened since we moved here, this tops the list. Being a grandparent is pure joy.

There are so many other good things that have happened since we moved here - getting two books published, the trip to the UK in 2013, that crazy 80th birthday for my mom in Las Vegas last year, and friends and family coming to visit are the things that stand out in my mind. There are also some sad things such as losing my friend to cancer, and two marriages in our family, both extended and immediate, that have ended. These things have left me feeling a great sense of loss, and I'm still working my way through them emotionally.

But the thing that remains constant, the thing that keeps me grounded and brings me back to a sense of equilibrium no matter what else is going on in my life is this place. And by place I don't mean the actual cottage we live in. I mean the mountains standing guard over our home, the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, the smell of the forest, the beauty of each season as it unfolds. It's the trails I walk and the way the light falls on the lake at various times of the day. It's the feeling of contentment as I sit on my front porch, drinking it all in right along with my cup of tea.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Two Wee Sweaters

After almost three weeks of heat we finally have a cool day. The world feels and smells fresh again. Now we just need some rain to come along and give everything a good soak. Of course, the first day we are forecast to have rain is Sunday, which also happens to be the day Rebekah and Anton are bringing his parents and aunt out to visit. His parents live in Toronto, and his aunt lives in Siberia. I had several things planned to do with them the day they are here, but am now scrambling to come up with some alternate activities in case it's wet outside. It's all made a bit more complicated due to the fact his aunt only speaks Russian. I anticipate lots of smiling, head nodding and hand gestures.

I've talked about the little kimono I was knitting for Rebekah's baby, and I finally have a picture to show you. It's actually been done for a couple weeks, but I didn't get the project up on Ravelry until today. Rebekah had requested this pattern, and she chose the yarn, so I'm pretty sure she's going to be happy with it.

Seamless Kimono

This next sweater I'm not so sure about. In fact, when we were looking at potential baby patterns on Ravelry a few months ago I think she might have actually vetoed this one. It is so small I'm quite sure it will only fit for about three minutes after the baby is born, and it has a name that leaves a bit to be desired. But I thought it was cute as a button, which is why I have renamed it Button Button on my Ravelry project page.

Puerperium Cardigan

The best part of making this wee cardigan was choosing the buttons. My friend and neighbour Lynda has a button collection and invited me to come have a look. We had a blast sifting through hundreds of buttons, coming up with just the right colours. There might have been a glass of wine involved at some point as well.

Picture credit to Lynda

Now I'm down to Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Sweater On Two Needles. Karen from Pumpkin Sunrise very kindly came to my rescue and sent some expanded instructions, so I now have high hopes of it actually getting completed, and having it resemble a sweater for a human baby instead of something from the animal kingdom.