Friday, February 21, 2014

Clearing the Decks

This is going to be a very quick post. You see, this is Canada. And it's between periods in an Olympic hockey game. I have approximately ten minutes to throw this post together.

Before I cast on my Olympic knitting project I wanted to clear the decks in terms of projects I had on the go. I was especially determined to finish my Paper Dolls sweater that I started last December. I've been wanting to knit this pattern for ages, and when I came up short on yarn for Lucy's Fair Isle sweater and needed to place an order with Jamieson & Smith I decided I might as well add the yarn to knit this sweater since they charge a flat shipping rate. I'm sure I'm not the only person who gets suckered into stash enhancement this way.

Please excuse the headless pictures. I needed to take advantage of Alexandra's visit last week to get the pictures, and the only time we had to take them was when my hair was wet. I didn't want you to think I really had gone for that Snape hairdo!

I love how the paper dolls unfold across the yoke.

I was a bit worried about the size, but it turned out to be a perfect fit.

I'm so happy with how this sweater turned out! It should be great for wearing on cool spring days. Ravelry details can be found here.

In other very quick news - the third period starts in two minutes - Lucy was here for a brief visit on Tuesday. I can't believe how much she has changed since Christmas. She is on the move, which makes it very hard to get a good picture.

Gotta go. The game's back on.

*Edit!!  I got so carried away with the hockey game I forgot to announce the giveaway winner. It's Christina from A Colourful Life blog. Please email me with your mailing address and I will post the mittens to you!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Celebrating Eight Decades

Happy Birthday Mom! Today you turn eighty, and I think that is pretty amazing. The world has changed quite a bit from your early childhood years spent in North Dakota.

Left to right: siblings Joyce and John and my mom (Thelma)

As a young woman you couldn't have imagined all the twists and turns life would take.

You married your high school sweetheart.

You became a mom.


A daughter, two sons, four granddaughters, three grandsons, and one great granddaughter is quite the legacy! Here is Rebekah, sharing her thoughts on what it is like to have such a spunky grandma.

My grandma was never a cookies and quilt-making kind of grandma. Instead, she packed us white bread and cheese sandwiches in mini-versions of grandpa's lunch box when we rode along in the combine.

Left to right: Karsten, Kellen, Rebekah, David, Alexandra

Five young grandchildren with different personalities all vying for attention when they arrived at her house could be daunting, but grandma always strove to be fair. We each got our turn, and none was spoiled more than the other. We got our catered indulgences. The older boys got their 'older kid' TV, Alexandra got her own special-diet treasure chest to choose treats from, David got to play as much computer as he wanted, and I got to forgo sandwiches for lunch (I hated sandwich bread).  There was always enough candy to go all around.

When I was younger, she knew I wasn't interested in frills and dolls and let me loose to tramp in the muddy fields. She taught me not to be afraid of being a little stubborn, letting the truth get in the way of a good story, or losing.  

A visit to grandma's house was never complete without a few games of gin rummy. While we were learning how to play, grandma never stroked our young egos by letting us win. We had to earn every victory and when we did, how sweet it was.

Another pastime was asking Grandma to tell me a story. Her way of retelling stories makes you ask her to tell them again and again. They're funny, they're shocking and sometimes maybe just a little bit tall, but always based on the truth. Like the one about the girl who fell into the outhouse…but that's a different story for another time.

I never had a huge sweet tooth, but I knew that when the moment struck me, there was always a Werther's waiting for me in Grandma's purse. Only when I got older did I learn it was because of her diabetes. I just knew that it was there, I only had to ask.

In a week I fly to Las Vegas to join grandma, mom, and my uncle and aunt to celebrate grandma's 80th birthday. It will be my first time in Vegas and I can't imagine a better reason for going. They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but I'm sure for grandma it's really a treasure trove of stories waiting to be experienced and shared.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Friday, February 14, 2014

February Hygge

February hygge is all about nature. It seems every time I step outside my door this month I encounter something that inspires me, fills me with a sense of contentment, and makes me feel so very fortunate to be where I am. There have been a few rough patches this month. (Nothing serious or life threatening, so please don't worry!) Getting out and immersing myself in my surroundings has helped restore balance in the midst of those unwanted bumps. It would be impossible not to have one's spirits be lifted by scenes like these.

There is something special about fresh snow, blue sky and sunshine.

How different those mountains look in the evening light.

The cold weather last week left the rocks coated in ice.

It was special being able to share a bit of my February hygge with Alexandra last weekend.

This Red-breasted Sapsucker has been a frequent visitor to the tree behind our house. It's impossible not to smile while I watch him work his way around the tree in search of food.

This last picture was an amazing moment. I had just stepped out onto the back deck for a few minutes. The weather was crazy. It was windy and rainy and sunny all at the same time, which had me scanning the sky. Sure enough, there was a rainbow. And just as I looked up an eagle soared overhead. I would have loved to have captured that bird as it flew by, but it all happened too fast. However, I did manage to get a picture of the rainbow!

It's hard to believe it was a year ago that we first came down to look at The Cottages at Cultus Lake, and in many ways even harder to believe that I actually live here. We are at the six month mark now, and every month has been filled with surprises in terms of what our surroundings have to offer. The mountains, the trees, the lake, the wildlife - these are the things that leave me feeling that sense of contentment that is my February hygge.

"It's a privilege to live any part of one's life in proximity to nature."
Barbara Kingsolver

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Double Fifty-Seven

Today is my birthday. It's not just any old birthday either. It's a doubles birthday. (Warning - Googling probably won't take you to a Wikipedia article for double birthdays, since I just made the term up.) I'm defining a doubles birthday as the one where your age is the same number as the year you were born. In my case this would be 57.

Alexandra came down over the weekend to help me celebrate. She knows me well, as you can see from the gifts she brought me - tea and brownies.

My other gift is something I have been wanting for ages. Of course, this being me, it isn't something that most people would consider to be on the normal end of the gift spectrum. It's not clothes (I only like practical, aging hippy attire), or shoes (hikers and runners pretty much cover my needs) or, heaven forbid, perfume (I think it should be made illegal). 

I have always been fascinated with miniature things. I think this love of all things miniature might have its roots in the charm bracelet I had when I was a girl. I love model railways. And when I'm at museums I'm always drawn to the dioramas. There's something about seeing a historical scene displayed in miniature that gives the rest of the display so much more meaning. I also love tiny knitted items like the ones from Mochimochi. I should point out that I only like looking at these. I'm not so keen on actually making them.

So I decided that since this was the year of my double birthday, this was also going to be the year I finally got a dollhouse. I didn't want to make a big investment since I'm not even sure I'm going to like this new hobby. There was no way I was going to spend hundreds of dollars getting started, only to have a half-finished project sitting in my house, making me feel guilty for the rest of my life. So I decided to start scouring sites like Kijiji and Ebay to see if I could find a deal.

For weeks there wasn't anything of interest. Then two weeks ago a listing came up on Kijiji for an already built dollhouse, and it was at a location only twenty minutes from where I live! It turns out the owner had built it for his mom, who had always wanted a dollhouse. She had passed away several years ago and it had been collecting dust in his basement ever since then. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. It was in almost mint condition! For just $50 I am now the proud owner of this dollhouse.

The only thing on the outside that needs attention is the chimney.

The inside needs quite a bit of updating. I plan on ripping out the carpet and putting in hardwood floors. I'm going to put up new wallpaper, and turn the upstairs loft into something useable.

Then the fun will begin - collecting all the miniature things I need to turn it into a "home." If it turns out I don't enjoy this new hobby I figure all is not lost. I will just hand the dollhouse over to Lucy. In the meantime, you will probably see the occasional dollhouse update on my blog.

Now for a double birthday giveaway! Since it's the Olympics I thought it would be fun to send out a pair of the Canadian Olympic Collection mittens to one of you.

And, since it's a double birthday, the winner will receive a double prize. The second item is a keyring with miniature mittens attached.

I will leave the contest open until next Tuesday. If you are interested in winning this bit of Canadiana just leave a comment on this post. And I do need to say, I have only just ordered these items today. According to the Hudson's Bay website they are still available and my order went through, but there is the slight chance they might already be sold out. In which case this giveaway ends up more like a double skunk. :-)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pick a Country

I was anxious for the Opening Ceremony to start this morning. I was sitting in front of my computer, cup of tea, knitting needles and yarn by my side, ready to cast on my Olympics project the minute coverage started. My goal was to get a picture of my yarn with the Canadians marching into the stadium in the background, and then blog about my grandiose knitting plans for the 2014 Winter Games.

Then something different happened. I had been feeling a little sorry for myself leading up to this Olympics. Last time around there was such excitement given they were being held in our backyard (well, almost). And in the years before the Vancouver Games I always had some combination of kids at home, and we loved watching the Olympics together.

When they were young we would put our regular homeschool work on hold during the Olympics and turn the event into a learning experience. We studied the country where they were being held, worked on geography (colouring the various participating countries' flags was a favourite activity), and read stories that related to the Olympics and sports. I distinctly remember all those years ago projecting into the future, thinking how sad it would be once they were grown up and that stage of learning/living/loving was past.

And you know what? I was right. I was kind of sad when the Opening Ceremonies started and there were no little people sitting around watching, crayons and markers in hand, filling in the maps of the countries marching by. I'm not the kind of person who spends inordinate amounts of time with both feet firmly planted in the past. But every once in awhile something comes along, something like the Olympics, that brings back those precious memories from years gone by and leaves me feeling more than a bit nostalgic. This morning, watching the coverage from Sochi, was one of those moments.

But you know what? Right after the Canadians marched in came the Chinese.

Then the Koreans.

The Romanians.

The Americans.

Thailand (yes they really do have an athlete in the Winter Olympics).

And last, but not least, the Russians.

I realized that time doesn't stand still, and if it did my flag collection would be a lot smaller.

And there's a new little person who will soon be colouring with crayons and markers.

I sure hope she likes flags!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tea Jenny

Kath had to put up with a lot of knitterly kinds of things when she and Jean and I were in Shetland last September. I have to say she was a very good sport as she got dragged through several museums, looking at displays that couldn't possibly have been of much interest to her. I didn't feel quite as guilty when we were looking at knitted items that were for sale. After all, even non-knitters can get enthused about something they can actually wear, as opposed to things they can only look at in a glass display case.

I watched Kath try on a multitude of hats, looking for just the right one to take home as a souvenir of her time in Shetland. She did eventually find one, and it was a very nice hat, but I somehow felt she ended up "settling" for it since our time was running out and she hadn't found The Hat. I told myself that when I got home I was going to set about knitting her The Hat as a way of saying thanks for putting up with two fanatical enthusiastic knitters.

Just a few weeks after I returned Kate Davies came out with her annual pattern for Wool Week, and the moment I saw it I knew I had found The Hat. First of all, it called for Foula Wool. This yarn is spun from Shetland Sheep raised on the island of Foula, and comes in the naturally occurring colours of those sheep. What could be more perfect than knitting The Hat for Kath than using wool from the very place we had just visited? If the design happened to have teapots, that's what!

Introducing Tea Jenny...

A hat that I hope is The Hat...

How can it not be The Hat with all those teapots dancing around it? There are even teapots circling the crown...

I'm sure it can be trying at times hanging out with knitters when you aren't one yourself, but there might be good things that come your way if you are patient. Thanks Kath for begin such a great sport. You get to pick our next adventure, and it's okay if it doesn't include anything fibre related. My only requirement is that I can get my morning cuppa.

Well, maybe there is one more small request. Could we please skip hiking along cliff tops in gale force winds next time, too?