Monday, February 23, 2015

Bluebells vs. Dumbbells

It's such a great feeling to finish a major knitting project. The minute I saw Kate's blog post about Bluebells, one of the sweaters featured in her new book Yokes, I knew I would be knitting it. I loved everything about it. The colours were perfect for me, which basically means there wasn't a hint of yellow in it. Plus I loved Kate's representation of the wild bluebells found in her native Scotland in the springtime.

I enthusiastically cast on January 1st, and in no time at all finished the ribbing and was ready to start the bottom band of colourwork. I was a little surprised when I looked at the chart and saw it was calling for a shade of blue other than the main colour. I didn't recall seeing another shade of blue in my bag of yarn from Jamieson & Smith. I went upstairs to my craft closet, hoping I hadn't made a mistake when I ordered.

As soon as I saw the bag I realized what had happened. I had indeed ordered the correct yarn. What I hadn't done was look at what I was grabbing when I pulled a ball of blue yarn out of the package and cast on. I had just knit 8 rounds of twisted rib in the contrast colour meant to be the bluebells. Fergus sits next to me when I knit. I'm afraid he heard a few bad words.

The rest of the knitting went well until I got to the end of the colourwork in the yoke. Then, unbelievably, I made the same mistake. Instead of switching to the main colour of blue I kept knitting in the contrast colour. As you can see in this picture, the two shades of blue are fairly similar, and I knit in low light in the evening. Which hopefully means I'm not a complete moron.

Fergus heard a few more bad words and I decided that the sweater should be renamed Dumbbells.

Ravelry details here

In spite of all the self-induced trauma, I have to say I love this sweater.

I changed the shaping and length a bit, and it ended up being the perfect fit.

There's a small part of me that is actually hoping for a return of winter so I can wear it. Which no doubt really does make me a dumbbell.

*Edited to say that I did rip back my knitting and fix my mistakes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mitts and Mountains

First off, I want to share some pictures from our drive home on Sunday. It was a spectacular day. The sky was blue, the roads were bare, and best of all, Kellen and Anita did all the driving which meant I could sit in the backseat and enjoy the view.

The one feature that dominates the drive across the southern portion of our province is mountains. I took this picture just outside Osoyoos.

Osoyoos has the highest average daily maximum temperature in all of Canada, which is why the mountains look so different than in our damp corner of BC. You see the same type of terrain in the next picture, taken near Keremeos. I always worry about these rocks deciding to slide on down the hill whenever I drive by them.

A herd of mountain sheep crossed the road in front of us, then stood next to it long enough for us to take some pictures.

You might have noticed the lack of snow in these photos. The southern part of British Columbia has had an unusually mild winter. It looks and feels more like the beginning of spring, which makes the timing on my latest completed knitting project a little bit off.

Lucy doesn't like wearing mittens. In fact, she refuses to wear them. So I decided to knit her a pair of fingerless mitts, thinking that maybe if she has her fingers free she might keep them on. To help things out a bit more I got her Jan Brett's beautiful book The Mitten to give to her along with the mittens.

Tartan & Tweed Mitts, Ravelry details here

To give you a better idea of just how tiny these mitts are I put a pair of my fingerless mitts next to Lucy's.

I am hopeful they will still fit next winter, but if not at least she can wear them now when she listens to the story being read. How is winter progressing where you live? Are you buried in snow, or do you have crocus blooming in your gardens? I'll show you what's blooming here in my next post.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Birthday Walk

Thank you to everyone for the kind words you left on my last blog post. It meant a lot, and made me realize once again how important this blogging community is to me. I feel like I have friends all around the world, and I appreciate each one of you.

Yesterday was my birthday, and when I got up in the morning I was determined to make it a good day. I thought about what I would really like to do, and decided the answer was to go explore someplace new with Jay, Fergus and Jenny. I did some Googling and discovered there's a Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve less than a half hour's drive from where we live.

It is a few weeks before the herons nest, but we still managed to spot several as we walked along. You can just make out the heron in the centre of this picture.

Several herons flew overhead, but were incredibly hard to capture with the camera. It's not a great picture, but at least it gives you an idea of how huge their wingspan is.

In the distance you can see the nests high up in the trees. I plan to go back in a few weeks when they are nesting, so will hopefully have some better pictures to show you then.

It's always nice to have Jay along on a nature hike. He knows so many more wild plants than I do. He identified this as wild clematis, gone to seed. I thought it looked like ghosts, dancing in the wind. Can you tell which one of us has the degree in biology?

The dogs had a great time, but Fergus was no longer a white dog at the end of the walk. He went straight into the tub without passing Go the minute we got home. This picture was taken before the damage was done.

There's a little known side benefit to owning dogs, and that is the fact you get extra presents on your birthday. Fergus and Jenny did some online shopping and surprised me with some yarn I had been wanting.

Jenny got me some Lett-Lopi to knit a vest that's been in my Ravelry queue for quite awhile.

Fergus, wanting to outshine Jenny, got me some Rowan Kid Classic to make one of the sweaters out of the Yokes book.

And for no other reason than it was my birthday, and this made me smile, here's a picture of Lucy that Karsten texted me.

I'll be away for a few days, so will catch up on all of your blogs early next week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

404 Houston

There's a very special home that sits on the side of a hill in Nelson, BC. From the outside the house is nondescript. There is nothing about the white siding or the brown porch that hints at what is contained inside the walls of this house. But the minute you walk through the front door you know you have arrived at a very special place.

Winter is my favourite time to be at 404 Houston. The house is heated with a wood stove that sits in pride of place in the kitchen. The most coveted seat is the rocking chair next to the fireplace, and I have spent my fair share of time sitting in it, enjoying the faint smell of wood smoke, the warmth of the fire, a cup of tea, and a nice long chat with my friend.

For 25 years I have been sharing my life's journey with my dear friend Barb. We have laughed together over what we would refer to as "comic relief," and we have cried together over the inevitable pain and disappointments that life throws one's way. We've shared hopes and dreams, fears and trauma. We were what L.M. Montgomery refers to in her Anne of Green Gables book as "kindred spirits."

The front door at 404 Houston has been opened to so many people over the years. It is a place others go for help, a listening ear, fellowship, celebration, or maybe, on a cold winter's day, just to warm up in front of the fire. It is a house filled with love and acceptance, and a faith that is steadfast. And now it is a house filled with sadness. My friend passed away last Friday. There will be no more visits while sitting in her warm, welcoming kitchen, no more phone calls sharing tidbits of our lives, no more laughing together over something funny, no more shared tears.

Barb leaves behind four children, a husband, four sisters, a mom, and the hundreds of people whose lives have been touched by her kindness and compassion over the years. It seems fitting that the most recent picture I have of Barb prior to her getting sick is this one taken a few years ago at our home in Kamloops.

Left to right: Espoir, Barb, Clementine

She had made the journey with a friend whose daughter was entered in a speech arts competition. About a decade earlier Barb had been instrumental in helping this family, refugees from Togo, immigrate to Canada. It was an immense job, and took a great deal of time, patience and paperwork. Barb stuck with it, and in the end this family found a new home and a new life in Canada. What's most remarkable about this is the fact that, in Barb's life, this wasn't all that remarkable. Her life was spent in the service of others.  Loving, giving, caring...

It's been a rough week.