Friday, October 31, 2014

The Bressay Dilemma and a Winner!

For past giveaways I have literally used a hat to draw names. This time around there were so many names I decided it was going to be easier and faster to use a random number generator. There were 48 entries (45 on the blog and 3 from people who emailed me privately), and #3 came up the winner. The funny thing is the third comment on my blog was from Christina at A Colourful Life, and she was the winner of a giveaway I did last winter. So Christina, if you can please email me your mailing address I'll have the publisher pop a copy of The Moment in the post. Also, while I'm on the topic of my book, the side bar has now been fixed and has links to order from either Amazon or the publisher, Sono Nis.

Now, about Bressay. Bressay is an island in Sheltand, but it also happens to be the name of a knitted dress pattern in Mary Jane Mucklestone's book Fair Isle Style. My dilemma is about the dress, not the island. Here's the picture from the book, to give you an idea of what it is I'm talking about.

I love this dress. I don't really wear dresses, but if I was going to Bressay is exactly what I would want to pull out of my closet. Worn with some leggings and a long-sleeved shirt I think I could make it work. So in a totally unrealistic fit of optimism I ordered the yarn from J&S last fall and cast on.

The dress is knit from the top down, and it didn't take me long to get through most of the colourwork in the yoke. Then last year's Christmas knitting took over, and it got set aside. We all know this is the death knell for a project. I didn't touch the dress again until a few weeks ago. This isn't the best picture, but it will give you an idea of where I'm at right now.

When I took it back out to work on I realized there was more than looming Christmas knitting that had caused me to put it aside. While I was very happy with my colour choices for the Fair Isle pattern there was a problem, quite unforeseeable when I ordered the yarn. In this picture, taken in a brighter spot in our cottage, the problem becomes apparent.

If you look at the top of the yoke you will notice that you can see through the fabric. This wouldn't be a problem if it was going to be a sweater. I always wear a shirt underneath my wool sweaters. But it's a different story as a dress. And it just isn't the kind of thing one would wear a slip underneath. Yes, I would have leggings under it, but I'm not sure I want the see-through look even with leggings underneath.

I have been playing around with the idea of turning it into a sweater. I'm at the point where I have to make a decision. I either keep going and do the increases required to make it into a dress, or go with fewer increases and make it into a sweater. I have Ann Budd's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, so I could easily use one of her templates to guide me.

So there you have it. My Bressay dilemma. What say you? Am I right in thinking it would be scandalous for a fifty-something grandmother to wear a dress that's see-through (even if it does have leggings on under it)? Should I convert it to a sweater, make the dress, or frog the whole thing and use the yarn to knit something in Yokes, the soon to be released book by Kate Davies?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fitness Win

I am determined to resist the pull of doing nothing but knit and watch British shows on my iPad all autumn and winter long. I think I should have been a bear. Hibernation has a great appeal to me. To counter my natural tendencies I have gone on the offensive and purchased a Fitbit Flex.

I've had it for almost two weeks now and am having lots of fun with it. In many ways it's a glorified pedometer. It measures how many steps I take during the day, but it also does much more. I can go into the dashboard on my computer, or the app on my iPhone, and see how active I have been at any point during the day. It also keeps track of how well I sleep, showing the times I was awake in the night, and how many times I was restless.

My Fitbit is set for a goal of 10,000 steps, and I have exceeded that by quite a bit every day, except for when I was driving to Kamloops. It takes 32 steps to get to my yarn stash and back, and 50 steps to get to my chocolate stash and back. By my calculations this means 122 trips to each of these would have my reaching my goal for the day. But one must be realistic. This approach could prove to be counterproductive.

The good news is I like to walk. Taking Fergus out for exercise is a great way to add some steps towards my daily goal. The bad news is Fergus is a lazy dog. He hates walking. He would much rather sleep on the couch. We all know that sitting is the new smoking, and my theory is that applies to dogs as well as humans, so I make him go out anyway. The off leash area where we live is a path along Frost Creek, and right now it's covered with fallen maple leaves.

Here's my reluctant walking partner. Once I get him off the couch and out the door he enjoys himself.

My daily, dogless walks are either to Lindell Beach or up Teapot Hill. Both walks are beautiful. When I go to Lindell Beach I have a wonderful view of the mountains on one side of the road and golden trees on the other.

This is what it looks like from the top of Teapot Hill, looking south to the US border.

The walk up the hill is filled with beauty as well. Right now the forest is covered in interesting looking fungi.

The whole Fitbit thing falls apart for me after dinner though. The bar graph on the Fitbit dashboard basically flatlines. It's a shame it doesn't measure arm movement.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Our Home and Native Land

The topic I write about the most often is, without a doubt, home. My small cottage, the family and friends that come to visit, the things I create, and the beauty that surrounds me, these are the things I like to focus on when I sit down and compose a blog post. But somehow today it just doesn't feel right to blog about what I've been knitting, or the great new recipe I just tried, or any other lighthearted topic. The fall colours that surround me right now are beyond beautiful, but putting in a beautiful picture when it has been a week of ugliness here in our country also doesn't seem appropriate. Such things will have to be saved for next time.

Today I want to talk about another home. Canada's national anthem starts with these two lines:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!

For me, Canada is my adopted home. I moved here when I was twenty-three years old. I had met Jay, a Canadian from Vancouver, while I was attending the University of Idaho. He was there to work on his master's degree in fisheries, and I was finishing up my degree in mathematics. After completing our studies we decided the best place of us to be in terms of employment was Canada, so I became a very reluctant immigrant.

By reluctant I mean I was sure I already lived in the best place in the world. If you have that mindset it's rather hard to resign oneself to settling for what you perceive to be second best. I was an American through and through. It wasn't that I didn't like Canada. I did. But it most definitely didn't feel like home.

Then slowly as the years went by I noticed a shift. I found myself cheering for the Canadians over the Americans during the Olympics, especially during hockey games. When I would cross the border back into Canada after visiting my parents' farm in Idaho I started to have a feeling of being home again. I began to think of distance in terms of kilometres, and temperature in terms of Celsius. I had a daughter with extreme medical needs and realized what a gift we have in our Canadian medical system.

It wasn't that I had stopped caring about the country of my birth. It was a case of starting to love the country I was living in. The end result of this slow transformation was me applying for and being granted Canadian citizenship while we were living in Kamloops.

It has been a rough week in this country I love. But in the midst of the darkness there have been many patches of light. We live in a world where the term hero is both overused and inappropriately used. But there are still true heroes. People who rise up to do extraordinary things, brave things, in a time of crisis. I encourage you to click on this link to hear a tribute to an incredibly brave man. Thank you Kevin Vickers for your service to your country.

This link will take you to the story of another hero. You might want to grab a tissue before you read it. From this day forward every time I hear the expression "you are so loved" I will remember this woman. Thank you Barbara Winters for your service to your country.

I started this post with the first two lines from our national anthem. I'd like to finish it with the first two lines from this article in the Globe and Mail.

"I was never prouder of my country than I was Wednesday. I learned that we are a pretty cool people in a crisis."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Smorgasbord Tuesday

The Moment

Even if my book doesn't sell a single copy, it was worth all the work that went into it just to be able read all of your kind and encouraging comments you left on my last post. Thank you so much! If you want to be entered into the give-away for a copy of The Moment all you need to do is leave a comment on that post, or email me and ask to have your name thrown in the hat.

A few of you wondered about it being available on the UK Amazon site. I wish it was possible to have it there, but the logistics of doing so make it prohibitively expensive for the publisher. Even getting it into the US Amazon site is a bit tricky. They will only accept one copy of the book when it is first listed. Once they see orders coming in then the publisher can send them multiple copies. There is now a link to purchase the book at Amazon. If you click on that link it will say the book is temporarily out of stock, which is frustrating because what it really means is they are waiting for orders before they will keep more than one book on hand. So if you order from Amazon it might take a week or two to get your copy of The Moment, but it would really help me out if a few people order from there. And for my overseas readers, the US Amazon site will ship outside the country. Here's the Amazon link for anyone who is interested. (The Kindle edition should be ready in a week or two.)

I have managed to put a link (click on the picture of the book in the side bar) to the publisher's site for anyone interested in ordering directly from Sono Nis. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get the Amazon link into my side bar, which means I need to have a chat with my computer expert son-in-law. Hopefully he will be able to have it fixed for me in a few days. He was the one who put the link for Ting Ting in my side bar, and in order for him to be able to do so he had to sign in on my Google account. I seem to remember having trouble after that because it made it look like suspicious activity on my account since I was operating out of Cultus Lake and San Francisco at the same time. So if my blog disappears completely at least you'll know what happened to me.


I was one of the lucky winners of a give-away at Chrissie's Knit Times blog a couple weeks ago. She was very mysterious about what the prizes were going to be, so it felt a bit like Christmas when I opened the package, having no idea what would be inside. It turns out it was better than Christmas, since nobody in my family would ever think to buy me such gorgeous yarn! (I'm not saying my family wouldn't want to get me nice yarn. It's more a matter of most of them not being able to tell the difference between Red Heart and Rowan.)

Inside the package was a beautiful skein of Rowan's Fine Art sock yarn, along with a knitting themed card and a shawl pin. I have it all sitting on my dresser, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.


This past weekend I drove up to Kamloops. I had several things that I needed to take care of, and wanted to do them before winter weather arrives. I was able to visit with David and Alexandra, which was nice. I actually stayed at Alexandra's, and it was kind of funny because she was really nervous about having me. I have no idea why. I'm an easy guest. All I want is access to hot water so I can make a cup of tea.

The business I had to attend to was closing out our safety deposit box, and our meat order was ready to be picked up. (We buy our beef and pork from a local producer about an hour north of Kamloops, and once you have had meat from their ranch nothing else will do.) I spent Saturday afternoon at Starbucks with a couple of my Kamloops friends, knitting and talking and drinking tea. It was so nice to catch up with each other. Then Sunday I drove east of Kamloops an hour to the Shuswap to visit Cindy, one of my oldest and dearest friends. And by oldest I should clarify that means number of years I've known her, not how many years old she is.

The crazy thing is in the midst of all that visiting with family and friends I didn't take a single picture of any of them. However, I did mange to take a few pictures when I was at my friend's farm on Sunday. It was a stunning day - the fall colours were still going strong, and the sun was shining.

The weather yesterday for the drive home wasn't nearly as nice. Here is a picture of the sky just after I got off the mountain pass. Quite the difference from the day before!


I've temporarily set aside all my other knitting and am focussing on a pair of socks. I'm making them for someone in our extended family who is unwell, and want to get them in the mail this week. You can catch a glimpse of them in the picture of this mug, which Cindy gave to me on Sunday.

This is a Three Pines mug, and I think it is awesome. Not only is it neat looking, it's huge. It holds almost as much tea as my teapot! For those of you not familiar with Louise Penny's books, Three Pines is the fictional village in her stories. It's loosely based on several of the villages in Quebec near where Louise Penny lives, and Cindy was there as part of a road trip this fall. The funny thing is that at the same time she was near Louise Penny's home buying me this mug, I was at the event in Vancouver listening to Louise Penny speak, and had a copy of her latest book signed to give to her.

That's it for today. Kellen will be out in a few minutes to get his part of the meat order, and I have laundry to catch up on. Why is it that being away for just a few days seems to result in being as behind as when one is gone for a few weeks?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Moment

The Moment is finally here! And I don't just mean "the moment" I make my big announcement. It's also the title of my new book, which, after a two year journey, is finally ready to make its way into the reading world.

I love the cover! Of course, I had nothing whatsoever to do with it other than to give suggestions. If it had been my work you would only see stick figures. My work was limited to what is written on the pages. To give you an indication of what those pages contain, here's the description from the publisher's website.

In a moment of inattention, James loses an important

hockey game, and Neil, the team captain, just

won’t let it go. Later they scuffle, and in the terrible

moment that follows, James is hit by a train. When

he comes to, he discovers he’s lost the lower part of

his leg.

As James struggles to adapt to his new reality,

he’s surprised by a great many things. His teammates

Kimberly and Joel turn out to be true friends. His

visit from the War Amps nets him a new friend,

teenaged amputee Tariq, who plays soccer and challenges

James to think beyond his disability. He also

counsels James to let go of his bitterness and anger

toward Neil. 

He can’t—and when he learns that Neil

is going to receive an award for bravery, he’s furious.

It was Neil who drove James onto the tracks that day.

So what if Neil also pulled him to safety?

It takes a return to the ice and some help from a

secret friend to get James back on the right track and

into the game.

The Moment is aimed at middle grade readers, roughly ages 8 to 12, but I think readers of all ages will enjoy this story. Last year when I announced the publication of Ting Ting I included this quote from C.S. Lewis, and I think it holds true for The Moment as well.

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more - worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."

The Moment can be ordered directly from the publisher, and shipping is free if you live in North America. Just follow this link. It will also be available on in a few days, including a Kindle edition. That will be your best option for purchase if you live outside of Canada and the US. I'll provide a link as soon as I have one.

This writing business is a tough one, and I am the kind of person who has a very difficult time promoting myself. But the reality is, in today's topsy-turvy world of being a writer, some self-promotion is required. All I can say is Jane Austen didn't know how good she had it. Never once did she have to worry about a bad review on Amazon, or a low rating on Goodreads. So here goes. If you like a good story, a story of redemption, overcoming adversity, and the power of friendship, you will want to have a copy of The Moment in your library. (And if you don't have a copy of Ting Ting, you might want to throw that in your shopping cart along with my new book.)

Now for the fun bit! The publisher has kindly agreed to give a copy of the book away to one of my blog readers. To be entered all you need to do is leave a comment here on my blog. There are a few people who, for reasons the universe is hiding, can't seem to leave comments here. If you can't leave comments here and want to be entered, just send me an email letting me know you want your name thrown in the hat.

I'll talk more about The Moment, and what inspired me to write the book, in a future post. Thank you so much for your support. It means a great deal to me. Now, before I lose the exceedingly small amount of writerly courage I have, I'm going to hold my breath and hit the publish button.

*Edited to say the book giveaway will close at midnight on October 30th!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Two Woolly Items

I have to be quick today. It is our Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada, and I have various kids arriving at various times. Today was to be my day to clean the house, do some food prep, and get some other odd jobs done before their arrival. Then the phone rang. Suddenly other guests, quite unexpected, are arriving for a visit and will be here in two hours.

My first wool news is about some beautiful mittens. These were a gift from my aunt and uncle (Kath's parents). They have just returned from a trip to Norway and Finland, and knowing how much I love all things wool they got these for me when they were there. Aren't these amazing? They're almost enough to make me feel excited for winter's arrival.

The other wool item is a jacket I knit for Lucy. Pictures of her actually wearing it will have to wait until next time I see her. I had asked Diana what she would like me to knit for Lucy for this fall/winter and this is the pattern she chose.

It's funny because I would never have chosen this pattern myself, if for no other reason than it was knit in parts, which meant having to sew things together at the end. But I surprised myself. I quite liked knitting it, and am really happy with the end result. (I still didn't like sewing the bits together, and I won't be showing any close-ups of the seams.)

This was my first time knitting with Rowan's Pure Wool Worsted, and I have to say I think this might replace Cascade 220 as my go to superwash yarn. The jacket has been washed and blocked, and it held up nicely. 

I have one hour before our unexpected guest arrive, so I need to run. Thank you everyone for all your kind comments on my blog post about my mom's visit, and welcome to all my new followers. Stay tuned for a big announcement next week here at North of 49! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vanishing Act

Sorry for the extended break between blog posts. Things have been rather busy. I picked my mom up at the airport in Bellingham a week ago Friday and we drove straight from there to catch the ferry to Victoria. We had a great visit on the Island, and my mom could not believe how much Lucy had grown up since she last saw her in May.

I feel like my plan to instill a love of tea and books is progressing nicely.

We took advantage of the great weather to go down to the wharf for fish and chips.

Lucy loves phones. It was fascinating to watch her grab the phone, hold it to her ear, and start babbling away. The reason it was so interesting was because her "speech" completely changed. The first time I heard it I couldn't believe it. She sounded like she was speaking in Chinese! Funnier yet was how she would hold out one hand and gesture with it while she was talking. Of course, it wasn't really speech in the sense that the words were real, but the intonation was certainly Chinese. It must be because the person she hears talk on the phone the most often is Diana, and the person Diana calls the most frequently is her mom. (Their conversations are in Chinese, with just a sprinkling of English thrown in.)

We caught the 11:00 ferry home, and soon after we got here Kellen and Anita arrived. We barbecued burgers, then Kellen built a fire and we toasted marshmallows.

I drove my mom back to Spokane on Thursday. We had errands to do, and people to visit, and before I knew it it was Sunday and time to drive back home. I have a very hard time with long drives, and get what I call road glaze. It's that terrible feeling where your eyes get heavy and you have a hard time focusing. I have started doing two things to help counter this. One is to buy a Starbucks coffee. (The down side to that part of my strategy is I can't fall asleep that night, but that's better than falling asleep at the wheel.) The other thing I do is make sure a really good book is downloaded on my iPhone, and I listen to it while I cross Washington State.

So as I drove away from my mom's yesterday I started the book I'd picked for this trip. I really enjoy Julia Spencer-Fleming's stories, and was excited that she had a new one out. I had the hardest time following the start of the story though. I couldn't figure out why my American police officer was in London. Even more confusing was the fact he had somehow acquired an English accent. I finally pulled off the road to have a look at the Audible app on my phone. I was listening to Deborah Crombie's latest book, not Julia Spencer-Fleming's! (Sadly, it turns out Julia Spencer-Fleming doesn't even have a new book out.) How did I manage to confuse the two? Their names aren't even close. To make matters worse, I had only read the first book in Deborah Crombie's series, and this new book was # 16. My trip home was like one big spoiler.