Wool in my soup

I am a 67 year-old grandmother living on Vancouver Island. I have crocheted, cross-stitched and rug hooked, but I always had yarn on needles. Recently knitting has become my primary hobby!

Location: Canada

Friday, December 22, 2006

Silk and Cashmere to start 2007!

My postie must love the Christmas greenery placed by my mailbox. On Wednesday, he arrived at my door with a parcel from Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns of a beautiful deep oatmeal Silk and Cashmere to knit a Celtic Vest with and on Thursday, the pattern arrived. If you go to Jo's blog you can see a few samples she has knit with this wonderful yarn. If you were to look at in a heap with other yarns, you might pass it by; if you were to smell it wet, you would definitely pass it by; but if you took the time to touch it - you would love it as much as I do and covet it! Jo and I have been doing a bit of exchanging - some wool dyes and few Christmas decorating magazines headed to Ireland and back came some beautiful Silk and Cashmere. Now I know that silk and cashmere do not normally start with a capital letter, but anything as gorgeous as this yarn just deserves to be capitalized!

The pattern I am planning to knit - which you can also see on Jo's blog - is Cul de Sac by Elsebeth Lavold. It was in Knitters magazine Fall 2003. I ordered a back copy and also took out a one-year subscription. I first was sent the Winter issue, but after I sent an email, they quickly got the Fall issue in the post and told me to keep the Winter issue. I like what I see so far in this magazine, so I am happy that I now have a subscription.

Here is one of my current knitting projects. It is a sheer and opaque sweater from Sally Melville's Book 2 - Purl stitch. I am knitting it with a Louisa Harding Nautical Cotton. This yarn is plyed with a bit of a twist and a has a bit of sheen. The colour is a deep raspberry. You get the sheer bit by knitting one row with a 3.75mm needle and the next row with a 6.5 mm needle. When you knit the opaque portion (the area over the midriff and bust) you knit every row with a 3.75 mm needle. It is really a summer knit, but I am thinking with a nice camisole under it (the back and sleeves are sheer, as is the top part of the front) it could be worn for evening with black pants or skirt! I will go to the lingerie shop and try to see which colour camisole would suit the sweater.

I found that the same press that publishes Sally Melville books also publishes Knitters magazine. I like the symbols for the yarn to use that they show in all their patterns. You know the symbol of the ball with numbers one to six on the band and the yardage. I have some books that tell you to use a certain type of yarn, which from the size of needles is easily determined, but they will tell you "X" number of balls and you cannot find how many yards there were in these "X" balls. This book and magazine also tell you the yardage and I appreciate that, especially as I substitute quite often! Sorry for the picture quality. We did see have a peak of sun this morning, just enough to remind us that it still exists, but the photo was taken in artificial light and not showing its true raspberry goodness.

Yesterday I got this little card from my cousin. It is a little knitting bag with yarn and needles sticking out of it and it is made from fabric, a little knitted piece, little balls of yarn, wire handles and wire needles with beads - too cute. It is beautiful and she picked it up in the airport in Edmonton - they were storm-stayed there for many hours, so she had lots of time to poke about in the shops. Our DS and DIL are here from Oklahoma. On Sunday, they came through Denver, Colorado and it was green/brown! Yesterday Denver was closed due to a blizzard, but hoping to open the runways and get back on schedule last evening. Winter air travel is not for the faint of heart. Can you believe people who do not have knitting to pass the time in aeroplanes or airports? If they are not knitters, some do not even have a book - what is with that! If they have no book, knitting or magazine and the movie is not working - they are travellers with ADD+. I have had the bad luck to have a few of these travellers from hell - I really bury the nose in the book then or feign sleep. Maybe others think I am a bad traveller too! You get some funny looks when you knit on aeroplanes these days, as other travellers cannot bring on nail files, but there you are armed with a sharp needle! As a knitter I am not questioning the airlines!

This will probably be my last posting before Christmas, so I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and hope there is some knitting goodness under the tree! There is under mine, as I bought the yarn and pattern I wanted and had the two dogs give it to me! At my age, if I want something from Santa, I get busy and take care of it myself.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Charity Knitters!!

If you love to knit for charity, there is a huge need for knitted goodies for teens and adults. I am currently working on a pair of Fetching fingerless gloves for next year!!

Yesterday, my DH and I spent most of the day working at the Christmas hamper depot. I just cannot believe the need out there for a helping hand. There is a list of must have goodies for each hamper, such as flour, sugar, tea, coffee, cereal, pasta, rice, etc. Also some paper products and soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Then you try to put in a gift or two for the folks in the family. There were lots of goodies for the younger children, but very little for teens and adults. I am thinking that toques (I have lots of black worsted and I guess that word shows you I am a Canadian!), berets, helmet type hats, ear bands, mittens/gloves and scarves would be appreciated, so that is where my needles are taking me.

It is great to help, but sad in many ways. I worry that the children who are part of the hamper receiving may just grow up in this way of life and not know different! I worked for many years for a head start programme and I had to every once in a while sit down and have a little 'chat' with myself. I knew that many of these children would end up having children (when they were still children themselves) and the cycle would continue. I kept going, by believing that, if we could help one child break from the cycle, then we had made the difference we were hoping for! I guess the hamper programme is something like that - if we help one family or two get their feet under them, know that others do care about them and then they get a break and go on to be self sufficient, then the work will be worthwhile.

We helped fill hampers (actually huge plastic bins with lids - many donated by Canadian Tire) and a few boxes. We also bagged up carrots, onions, apples and oranges. Thursday we will go again, as the fresh milk, buns and frozen turkeys arrive and then these go into boxes and go along with the individual hampers. It was a wonderful experience and the people were so much fun and so caring!

Some of you worry about our weather. We are now past the worrying stage - HELP! We are now at the fed-up-to-the-teeth stage!! Fortunately for us, we have just been on the edge of most of the storms, but when you see the weather map and see these huge low pressure systems coming at your part of the world, it is worrying. The photos on the TV of the houses with a huge tree going through, or there roof in the next yard, they are scary. The park in the city of Vancouver, Stanley Park, has parts of it open to public traffic, but they say it will be months before it is completely cleared and all open. Also, more trees will come down, as once a few trees fall over, they damage other trees. Oregon and Washington State have also taken a beating in the last few storms. I have spoken to people who have lived here many years, and they cannot remember weather like we are having now.

I am safe, sound is questionable, but healthy and happy in my home with power and telephone. It makes a person realize how dependent we are on hydro! I will have a great time knitting this year, so if you have any more ideas for knitting projects for teens and adults, please feel free to let me know.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I am still here!

Where is the time going? I have been busy and although I read other's blogs, I seem to put off taking pictures and writing on my own blog.

This week I knit and then took photos - after four hats in two days, my hands were shakey, but here are the four little hats I made for the Christmas Hamper family my book club was helping. I had made a lot of hats for other hampers, but when I found this little family had a single Mom with a 1,2,4 and 5 year old, I thought I should knit at least a hat each.

Sorry about the quality of the photos. The little blue and pink hats were knit from 'Oneskein' by Leigh Radford. I will certainly knit more of these little hats, as it is a quick knit, but I like the 'umbrella pattern'. Will I leave it all to the last minute for charity knitting next year. I hope not, so I have started already to knit. I hope this year to knit more mittens and 'boot' socks. I have some old pattern books with hats and mittens for children - it is a little book put out by Patons Beehive. Those little books are wonderful, as it is not always easy to know the size to knit for children, especially when you do not have a child around to try the hat or sock on!

We are being bombarded here in the north west of North America - BC, Oregon and Washington have had terrible wind and rain storms in the past few days. We are lucky here in Comox, as we did not get hammered, but lightly tapped. I wonder if our boasting about daffodils in bloom in February or even late January has caused our Eastern friends and family to conspire with the Wicked Weather Witch to give us a good old slap on the head for our boastfulness? We promise to be good and not mention our nice weather (whenever we get it back) to you for at least a year! There will be no comments about snowdrops in January either! So PLEASE call off this spell on our weather.

Now, I must get back to some knitting for me!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I should have started this earlier!

I got the bug to do some charity knitting last week. I had already given about a dozen hats to a Christmas hamper that my DH's Rotary club is putting together, but I just felt like knitting for others. I think there still is time to give these few things, but it has helped lift my mood and I know someone will have a warmer head because of these few knits.

The beautiful pattern for the Tweedy Beret in the IK Winter 2006 magazine could not have come at a better time. I have taken a good look at my stash, and there are several more hats there, but not much more time. I might think about producing a hat, scarf, mitts or boot socks each week in 2007. I find good buys on yarns at the thrift stores, so it helps out in the buying and the giving. Our Sally Ann is having a difficult time making ends meet this year. I did my maternity training at a Salvation Army hospital in Halifax, and I know that they make very good use of their money - no waste, if it can be helped. In fact, I remember that in each newborn's bassinette, there was a small container of Vaseline - you know the little containers that you sometimes get ketchup in at a diner! Well, when a baby went home, each little container was to be scraped clean and the Vaseline put into a large glass container. This container would be put in the autoclave every so often, and then the Vaseline was sterilized and ready for use again. After going through the autoclave a few times, it was a soft pumpkin colour, but it worked on those little bottoms and the recipients did not care about colour. We also washed the umblilical dressings that were put on the babies for the first day or two and then they were dried, folded, autoclaved and used again! I always feel good about giving to the Salvation Army, because I know they will make good use of the money or knitting!

I was listening to the CBC the other day and heard an almost 93 year-old gentleman being interviewed. His name is Donald Crowdis and he has a blog - a family member actually does the entries to the blog for him, but he writes it. If you would like to see what the views on life are of a 93 year old gentleman, please go to www.dontoearth.blogspot.com He is a survivor of the Halifax Explosion. Now, I was not alive in 1917, when the Explosion occurred, but it was the largest man made disaster before Heroshima and it killed 1,200+ people and left many blinded and many more injured. There was a huge blizzard the following day and many were housed at the time in tents on the Halifax Common. I grew up very near Halifax, and my parents were alive in 1917, so it has always been a part of my history. I think you just might enjoy his postings. The Halifax Explosion was caused when a munition ship and a relief ship collided in Halifax Harbour. The reason for so many folk blinded was that they went to the windows to see what had cause the huge flash in the sky and since the munition ship was not flying the proper flags to tell folk what the cargo was (probably the general population would not have understood the flags anyway) they stood at the windows and watched! My mother was a small girl living in Truro, NS, which is in the area of Nova Scotia near where it joins New Brunswick, and they felt a jolt!

Do you ever think how folk come to your blog? I know I often find myself going to a blog and then when I try to remember the 'thread' that got me there, I cannot remember. How does one blog appeal and not another? I guess we continue to lurk, or better yet comment, on a blog because we enjoy the writing, are inspired by the knitting,, or just the blogger's philosophy on life. I am a bit, well in fact a lot, older than some of the knitters I exchange comments with, but that does not seem to make any difference. It is the love of knitting, crafts, family, gardening or just a positive philosophy on life in general that keeps me 'tuned in'.

I am not adverse to the odd expletive, but when there are too many, or the person is too negative, I move along! That is the beauty of reading blogs! It is better than belonging to a guild - no executive, no committees, no in-fighting - what you have belonged to groups where there was NO, and I mean NO, personality clashes or clashes of ideas? Lucky person! I just have no time for negative people. Does that mean I would not listen if you feel a bit low? Of course not, as I get low at times myself.

This is a difficult time of year. If you pick up any magazine or newspaper, you are bombarded by attempts to have you shop, attend a multitude of functions and put a guilt trip on you. Of course, you have to be willing to put the items in the suitcase to travel on the guilt trip! My DH sometimes teases me that I must be collecting travel points on the guilt trip of life! Maybe some of you can identify, and when I identify with thoughts like this with other bloggers, I comment positively or think, "Gee, I am not the only one!" There is something about feeling that you are not the only one that is very reassuring and can cause you to dump that suitcase full of needless guilt!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Let's Find Some Colour In The Garden!

I went out between showers today to see what colour was in our garden after 'most' of the snow had melted. I have been visiting Cornflower's blog and she had on a beautiful picture of a pot of hyacinths beside her computer. I could not resist and my DH brought me home a beautiful pot yesterday of pink hyacinths. However, Cornflower and I had talked about winter pansies and so here is a photo of my winter pansies, after they shed a good foot of snow. What brave little flowers! Now for those of you who are not gardeners, there is no real difference in winter pansies or those in your garden at other times of year. The only difference is the time the seeds are planted. The seeds for winter pansies are planted in summer/early fall! They can be almost frozen, heads down and almost whimpering, but let the temp come up above freezing and they hold their little heads up high and smile! Oh yes, the other day I mentioned that we were melting at 10F - not possible - but we were at 10C - now melting is possible. We used to measure temperature in Fahrenheit, but now we are changed - well almost - and it is measured in Celsius.

I had a good poke about the garden and found these little cyclamen buds. Now I know they look rather sad and ye of little faith will wonder why these made my heart leap, but given a week or so of no snow cover and some mild temps, and these little buds will become beautiful pink 'butterflies'. Gardeners have a lot of faith! Anyone who would plant an ugly anemone corm and expect beautiful purple, red, white or pink flowers has to have faith! In the centre of the photo is one little bud and the other is in the lower left. Please excuse all the fir needles, but when Mother Nature gave us the snow and winds, she also pruned our fir trees and she does not believe in raking - nor do I! Especially when the ground is sodden and it would only destroy the little buds!

We lost the top of a cedar shrub - in fact, I just might remove the entire thing from the garden - so I decided that it could be put to good use for a bit of Christmas cheer on the front steps. I also added a bit of colour beside the mailbox. I want to encourage our postman to leave lots of cards and parcels of yarn and magazines for knitting! I gave him his tin of ginger cookies today, so I hope that is enough encouragement for a month or two. The little red holly berries are from a holly shrub that loses its leaves and then you are left with the berries. I wish they were a bit more of a Christmas red, but with the green cedar they look nice, I think. I would like to put out some lights on the shrubs this weekend, so maybe it will happen if the rains let up for an hour or so! I looked at the forecast for the next five days - it was awash with raindrops. That is fine by me - it will wash away the dirty snow!

Where I was born, in NS, Canada, these holly bushes grow wild along the side of the road - usually in hard to get to spots, but people harvest them for Christmas decorating. They do not grow wild here, in fact, this little shrub cost me nearly $50.00 Oh yes, it is one that you need a male plant and then a separate female plant. The male can be pruned hard - only need a few blossoms for the bees to be able to cross polinate the female shrub's flowers. What we won't do for a bit of memory of our home province!

These beautiful white flowers were covered with about 18 inches of snow last week and now look at them!! These are known as Hellaborus Niger, but I like the common name better - Christmas Rose. They are apparently difficult to move, but when my neighbour gave me a piece to add to my garden, I did not know this and they settled in happily. Gardening, in that way, can be something like a knitting pattern. If someone tells you it is difficult, you will have a dreadful time figuring it out and give up easily. If no one tells you it is difficult, you will move along, perhaps slowly, but eventually you will figure it out - well maybe not too!!

Now I am going to leave you with a question. What is the animal that is making this little footprint? It is about 2.5 inches long and 1.5 inches across. We do have raccoons, but their footprint is usually longer and slimmer. This little critter walked from the driveway, across the snow, had a good look at the crabapple tree and then walked onto the walkway and left. The dogs go by this footprint, but do not appear interested. We do have bear in these parts, but this would be a very small bear - I saw it first at 5:30 this morning, so I proceeded quickly to the car and got in and shut the door! No point messing about with the critter that made this footprint.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ginger - my favourite spice!

I must admit that there is still the scent of ginger in my home, and I love it. The cookies are all in tins ready to go to the various folk on the list. Some think that this is a 'special' thing that I do, but I have done it for many years and the recipients always seem so grateful. I like to make sure that the people who make our lives easier know that I appreciate their efforts. Baking cookies is easy when you do it my way - no rolling and cutting and then decorating for me! One person asked about the Three Ginger Gingerbread or Ginger Cake recipe. Well here it is and you don't even need to pull out your mixer. Put the dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl - make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the wet and give a good stir. I spray a large angel-food pan with a baking spray and in goes the batter. It usually takes about 1.25 hours to bake and your kitchen will smell heavenly. It keeps well, if you can keep human hands off it, for a very long time. That is probably due to both the sugar and molasses. Enjoy!

Three Ginger Gingerbread or Ginger Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fancy molasses or table molasses
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp minced, fresh gingerroot
1/2 cup chopped, crystallized ginger

~ In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, ground ginger and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, molasses, eggs, gingeroot, crystallized ginger and water. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients. When mixed thoroughly, place in a well greased bundt or angel food cake tin or any pan that will hold batter. It will rise a fair bit!

~ Bake in the centre of a 350F oven (180C) for about 1.25 hours or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. Give the cake a bit of a shake - not earthquake type of shake, but a little shake to be sure it is loose and then invert on rack to cool. Enjoy!

NOTE - I also use heaping measuring spoons of the spices and also heavy on the crystallized ginger. I never put the little bit of spice in any cookies or cake that are called for - I like a bit of spice in my life!

Now I did finish off a bit of knitting last evening, as I found out who killed the poor girl in the story I was listening to. It was a book called "Dark Tort" by Carolyn Mott Davidson. The gal who tries and mostly succeeds in solving the crimes is also a caterer, so her books are laced with cooking! They are an easy read and not something that will keep you awake at night. I also watched a show on TV with some of the folk who had managed to survive the tsunami in South East Asia. I could not believe that that happened almost two years ago. However, yesterday was the 17th year anniversary of the killing of the 14 wonderful engineering students in Montreal. Both situations so sad, but as one survivor from the tsunami said, "How do you deal with Mother Nature?"

Here is the 3rd Tweedy Beret. I used a Berroco Ultra Alpaca and two strands of the beautiful viscose I got from Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns. I have used up every bit of the viscose, Jo, as the last seven stitches were cast off in only the alpaca. I will wear it with the viscose scarf and my black coat. The viscose alone would, I think, have been too drapey for a beret, but maybe not. Anyway, I am happy with the beret I made. Now on to some baby cardi knitting!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When Baking Interferes with Knitting!

I have been feeling low these past few days. I do not do snow very well at all, especially when it is dirty, mushy and hanging on wayyyyyy tooooooooooo long!! I started to post yesterday and my words were too negative, so I thought change things girl!

I make ginger cookies every year and put them in tins for the people who look after things at the pool, the daily paper carrier, the postman, the handicapped man who collects our recycling and a family that my book club is giving a hamper to! Then there are the little guys and gals who bring us the 'free' papers twice a week - they get mugs filled with sachets of hot chocolate, candies and a pass for a movie or game rental! I knew that if I got these organized and out of the way that I would feel so much better and enjoy my knitting even more! So this morning, I got out the mixer, cookie pans, etc. and had a marathon baking session. After about 15 dozen ginger cookies, I made some oatmeal raisin cookies for our son and a three ginger ginger cake for my DIL. Don't think this was too difficult, because it was not. I highly recommend those little 'ice cream' scoops for making cookies. I double the cookie recipe and then once it is mixed I immediately scoop them onto the pan, take a flat glass, dip it in sugar and 'squash' the cookies and bake. The smell of ginger in the house always reminds me of Christmas. The other smell of Christmas to me is the mandarin oranges that come out this time of year! Now, I feel so much better and it is 10C here today, so you know the dirty snow is disappearing!!

I have decided to grow my hair a bit longer! Why is it that when you are trying to grow your hair it is slooooooooowwwwwwwwww! If I were trying to keep it short, it would seem to grow so much faster. I have inherited some health things from my family that I would rather not have, like diabetes in two brothers and a family with lots of heart problems. Those are not great, but I do what I can - no sugar in baked goods for me and a low-dose Aspirin everyday, along with walking and swimming. But one thing I have inherited from my Dad's side of the family is the white hair and that I love and am very thankful for. When I was home with family this past fall there were a lot of beautiful heads of snow white hair. Guess you have to take some of the bitter with the sweet!!

Have I been knitting? Well, just a little bit! I finished off Bianca and she was a bit snug through the shoulders. In the photo, she is only lightly blocked, so I took her to the sink and dunked her and she is blocking and drying on a towel. I measured carefully and we will see how she fits once dry. It is really a 'summer' sweater and I like her! She looks better than the photo shows!

I decided to do a little fun knitting yesterday and made a teddy bear from some Alpaca with Pyrennes Dog Hair that I bought in Oklahoma City this year. The pattern is in an Erica Knight book of baby knitting. I have also cast on a little cardigan - we have a young couple who always fixes our computer quickly and effeciently and they are expecting twins in March. Two sweaters - so the little Rosebud pattern that Siri of www.knittingiris.typepad.com has made many times and it is a winner. The teddy is a cutie and I am not sure I will knit him again. Toys take a short time to knit and a long time to sew! He was a wonderful project for a 50 gr ball of yarn and he will remind me of my wonderful time in Oklahoma. Maybe he could be called Oakie! Go to see the wonderful dolls that Carolyn of www.cmeknit.blogspot.com has made for her nieces! I tried linking these two blogs to mine, but no luck today! I also have the blogs I read on bloglines and sometimes it won't let me comment - this is not a straight forward operation this blogging!!

Now I am off to listen to a book and knit. It is a mystery and I think I knew who did it, but maybe I am wrong!

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