Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Up Island

My next yarn-store stop was in Nanaimo. Approaching Nanaimo along the highway, all you see is a HUGE mall. Malls we have at home, so Fred and I followed the signs for downtown and the 'Old Quarter'. Visions of Quebec City circled. Cobblestone streets, 400 year old buildings. Perhaps even a 'finiculaire'.( Is that spelled correctly?) After all, both cities are built on a hill. But Nanaimo's 'Old Quarter' would be better named the 'Not-So-Old, Old Quarter'. It is definitely of the post World War Two era. Hee Hee. Quite a surprise.

'Mad About Ewe' is smack in the middle of the 'Old Quarter'. What a great yarn store! The clerks were very helpful and directed Fred to a nearby coffee shop. Funny man, my Fred. He asked them if there was a time limit on loitering in the coffee shop. Then told them the story of getting kicked out of the coffee shop next door to Toronto's Romni Wools for being there too long. Ha Ha

One of the 'Mad About Ewe' clerks was wearing a wonderful,wool sweater. Spectacular yarn, in a rust-coloured tweed. Knit in a beautifully-simple, classic style with one large cable down the front. I wanted one! But the price stopped me. The sweater would have cost me about $175. Too much for this retiree's pocketbook.

Instead, I bought this.
DK weight, cotton, meant for a summer top. Not sure what style yet, but sleeveless. It is Fanion by Phildar.

This single ball of green is - just because. I had never seen yarn with sequins before. So it was a must have.

It is Coquette by Louisa Harding. Polyester and sequins. 67 metres on the 25 G ball. Suggestions?
The orange and blue are for this summer top.

It will be the second time I have made this pattern. From Knit n' Style, August 2002 issue. The bottom brown bit is ribbed . Then plain stockinet in the top. My first one has been washed so much all shape is lost. So another one it is. The orange has a blue fleck, so I think the two will look great together and be nice with jeans.

Then - left over from yesterday's display- there is this single ball of Noro.
Purchased at Boutique du Laine on Estevan St in Victoria. It is worsted weight and I bought it because of the colour. Do you see a green theme happening here?

Tomorrow, we go to Port Alberni.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Better Batteries

A second set of new batteries in the camera and I'm good to go again. With a few pictures of the Jazz festival - taken before my batteries died - and some pictures of the BC yarn I am playing catch-up in the blog today.

First the jazz.
This is the Fig Leaf Jazz Band playing at Pipers Restaurant on Friday night.

The Fig Leaf is one of my Dad's favourite groups. If my love of bag pipes stems from my childhood, then my love of Dixie Land Jazz has similar roots.
Not haunting, but lively, peppy, rhythmic, toe-tapping, hand-clapping, danceable music. Played loudly and daily on our sterio, by my Dad, as I was growing up. You either learned to love it or hate it. Me, I love it.

People watching is great fun at a Jazz Festival. Folks just can't help but tap their toes, toss their heads and smile, smile, smile.

But I smile no less when buying yarn. And since the question "Whad'cha get? Whad'ch get? has been asked, I will give you a mini tour of the BC yarns shops I visited and yarns purchased.

Fresh off the plane, our friend Max offered to take me to two yarn stores in Sidney. It being the closest town to the airport. Within fifteen minutes of landing, I was browsing at 'In Sheep's Clothing' on Fifth St. And I bought NOTHING. A nice shop. Quite a good selection of yarns but lots more needlework supplies. On to Beacon Yarn Studio on - naturally -Beacon St. A lovely shop. Spacious and well stocked. And all I bought was this.
One ball of New York Trends. A cotton, polymide and metallic yarn. 77 metres per 50 grams. I purchased one ball. What will I do with that? No idea. But I love the shades of orange and green and the little bit of sparkle. It will make nice trim for something. Two great yarn shops and one ball of yarn. I think I was jet lagged.

Day two, Bee Hive Wool on Douglas St in Victoria. This was a must see, as I have been a reader of their blog for quite some time. The shop is large and stocked to the rafters. But a bit confusing. "Would it kill ya to put all the Double Knitting yarns in one spot?" I bought NOTHING. Since I had forgotten to bring my yardage requirements with me, I asked the clerk if she could tell me how many metres were needed to make a 40 inch cardigan with a gauge of 14 - 15 sts/4in. I surely didn't expect her to know off the top of her head. But having worked in a yarn store myself, I did expect her to have the info available. What I didn't expect was her answer " I would have no idea!" Hmmm.

Day Three. Boutique Du Laine on Estevan St., in Oak bay - a subdivision of Victoria. I arrived just before ten in the morning and lined up with a few other customers waiting for the shop to open. It was the opposite of Bee Hive Wool. Very tiny. About the size of a small bedroom, I would say. But great stock. I bought this.

One of the shop clerks was wearing a vest made of this yarn and it was a thing of beauty. Sold! Three balls of elsebeth lavold Silky Wool. 65% wool and 35% silk. Lovely to touch and very drapey. It is DK weight and I have 525 metres in total. Hopefully enough to make a vest. I stayed long enough in the shop to memorize a pattern for a shawl. It was gorgeous. Mohair. Garter stitch done on big needles, with a ruffle along the bottom edge. Then off to get Fred who was a mere two blocks from the store, strolling along the ocean. Imagine!

Tomorrow, we go 'up-island.' Great yarn stores there.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Best Laid Plans ...

Today, I was either going to regale you with the terrific events of the weekend or show you my yarn purchases from BC.
The annual Thornbury Jazz Festival took place over 3 days this past weekend. 10 bands at various venues around town on Friday night. 3 big bands and professional dancers on Saturday and a rousing Gospelfest on Sunday. Great value at $45 wouldn't you say?

Friday night, we started by going to see the Regal Jazz Band. There I realized, I had left my camera at home. Between sets, I stopped at home to pick up the camera. Then off to see the Fig Leaf Jazz Band. Three pictures later, the batteries died. The rest of the weekend was a whirl, so no time to buy batteries.

But, I have also been asked to reveal my BC yarn purchases. A good alternative to the Jazz Festival thought I, since there were only three jazz pics anyway. Down to the variety store I went this afternoon to get batteries. Cheapies, as they were out of the 'bunny' type. Back home the batteries had enough energy to turn on the camera, but that's it. Never have I had brand new, non-functioning batteries before. I sure hope that is the issue, and it's not my camera.

So, I can't even show you the three photos I did take. And no photos of the yarn from BC.

Technology! Dont'cha love it?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scotland Sang And The Rafters Rang

Scotland Sang. And Oh My Gosh, were they ever good! The program started with the Beaver Valley Pipe Band. 5 bagpipes and 5 drums. Boy, did the rafters ring with that. I was surprised to see that two of the pipers were youngish - in their 30s I would say. And one of the drummers was a teenager.

It occurred to me as I listened to them play that the reason I like bagpipes so much might go back to my childhood. I grew up on a tobacco farm in Southern Ontario. The farm next to ours - or perhaps the correct phrase is -the property next to ours - as I don't recall any farming ever being done there, was owned by absentee, supposedly-wealthy people. There was a manager of sorts who lived there. He was not married and rarely seen. But he played the bagpipes. Sometimes on summer evenings - hot, humid, summer evenings - the faint sound of the bagpipes could be heard drifting across the creek and hill that separated our properties. It was magical. Mystical. My love of bagpipes probably took root then. Last night, I was no less entranced. Kilts, and red 'drapery-tie-back thingees' being swirled in the air. And wonderful, stirring music.

Then the main performers took the stage. Two gentlemen from Scotland. Who Knew? I thought they were locals that sang Scottish songs. But they were straight from Scotland with very thick burrs to their speech. They sang and sang. With guitar and mandolin but sometimes acappella. It was an outstanding performance. At one point, I thought
"Only $12. What value." It was a performance one could see at Roy Thompson Hall only with a high-priced ticket.

And the cookies were gobbled up. When we took our seats after intermission, the lady in front turned to us and said
" Thanks for those refreshments, ladies. The cookies were great."
When the performance was over, she turned again and said to one of the 'cookie committee' ladies
" Thanks for selling me the ticket for this. It was a great evening. " It sure was.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursdays Are For Knit Group and Survivor

Today at Knit Group, Ingrid taught us how to make a "Multi Directional Scarf. Our Ingrid is a prolific knitter and a very creative lady. Her hand knits - all pattern-free (" I can't read a pattern." says she) - are very, very 'haute couture'. After making several Multi Directional Scarves herself, she suggested we might appreciate a workshop to learn how to make them.
Here are Ingrid's - all in a pile and not showing to their best. But, trust me, they are beautiful. Any variegated yarn will make a nice scarf. Most of Ingrid's are made from self-striping sock yarn. I especially like the orange one in front.

And here is our Ingrid helping us get started
And again.
Poor Ingrid has been very sick and probably should not have been out today. But when knitting calls - who wants to stay home? Though most doctors have yet to discover it, any knitter would tell you that an hour or so of knitting can cure a lot of ills.

Ingrid's pattern is pretty self explanatory. I say this even though my scarf is far from being done. But, it seems to be working out. It starts like a one-sided dishcloth, which makes a triangle. Then the next triangle is done with short rows. Make it as wide or long as you like.
Once mine is done, and I am sure of what I'm doing, I will post the directions.

And on to Survivor. Well, no Survivor for me tonight. Instead, I will be at Scotland Sings -a fund raiser being held locally. I am on the cookie committee. Tea, coffee, juice and home made cookies to be served at intermission. I love small towns.
A few weeks ago, I was given tickets to sell. But let me tell you, selling tickets to a Scottish music event is no easy task. I had no idea so many people disliked bagpipes. Fervently dislike, I might add. Me, I love them. Makes me feel a bit out of sync.

Fred will have to watch Survivor for me and fill me in when I get home. And I don't think I will knit while at Scotland Sings. Bagpipes are so o o o o stirring. Who knows what my scarf might look like. It is, after all, the Multi Directional Scarf, not the Dropped Stitch Scarf.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No Knitting Today

Today was computer day. My computer has been giving me all sorts of grief. It won't stay connected to the internet.
So I called my computer specialist and he came right away.
Here he is. Peter. Son #2. This is the motor-cycle riding, comedic, artist son. He lives about 2 hours away by car and 3 by motorbike. It was really good of him to come. He is very patient with my inept computer skills (ICS) and never ever rolls his eyes. Good of him, I would say, as I am sure my ICS try his patience.
We weren't able to fix the computer, but he did get my new digital, picture frame up and running and he even taught me how to do it.
We bar b g ued for lunch and had time for a catch-up as we hadn't seen him since before our trip to BC.
All in all a good day. Thanks, Pete. And still some time left for knitting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Ta Da! Here it is. Modeled shots of the 'Sexy Grandma' Tee. What do you think? Too daring? Would my kids be embarrassed to be seen with me, wearing this? Knit group, I know was worried about the bare shoulders. Me, I'm more worried about revealing too much of the underarm flex-a-flab. You know, the body part I swore I would never allow myself to get? Ha Ha.
I used Mission Falls Cotton - about 7 balls. And the pattern is an old one by Needful Yarns. Pattern # 011, called Tube Tank. Discontinued by now, I am sure. Mission Falls is a slightly larger gauge than the called-for yarn so I made a smaller-than-normal size..

It's great. I love the way it fits. Snug, but not too tight. I credit the photos of garments from Interweave Knits shown on their blog, Knitting Daily, for turning me on to negative ease. This Tee has about 4 inches of negative ease.

On to the TDPFRSS KAL. That stands for the Top-Down, Pattern Free, Raglan, Summer Sweater Knit A Long. Nicki left here yesterday afternoon about 3. At 7, she called to say she had 16 rows done. 16 rows?? Yikes. Time to get knitting. So I finished unraveling my unworn sweater and started to knit. I have 5 rows done. But think I will rip them out. I decided on button holes but don't like where I put the first one. So, really, I have zero rows done. I hate to think how many rows Nicki has now , 24 hours later. This isn't so much a KAL as a WNK - Watch Nicki Knit.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mr. McGuinty - This One's For You

McGuinty Approved

This is not a political rant. Nothing makes me delete a blog from my feed faster than a political.
rant. They have blogs for that type of thing, for heaven's sake, so keep it away from the knitting blogs. BUT. I do love my clothesline.

Here you see two things I love. Hand knit socks drying on the clothesline. Another nice clothes-drying day in Ontario. Sorry about all you BC folks shoveling snow. Glad we're home

The 'Sexy Grandma Tee' is done. It's blocking as we speak. take a look.

And here's a close-up of the controversial shoulders.

That small triangular space you see is the spot where my bare shoulder will be exposed. Pretty riske n'est-ce pas? Modeling shots tomorrow.

KAL pal, Nicki,came over today and we got mentally started on our "Raglan, Top-Down, Pattern-Free, Summer Sweater Knit-A-Long. Nicki has her gauge swatch done and her vision complete. She is ready to start.

And me - well, I had Nicki help me unravel a cotton sweater so I could re-use the yarn for our KAL. I knit the sweater a few years ago and don't wear it much. It is cotton and a colour I love, A perfect yarn to recycle for our KAL. None of this did Nicki know when she stood in front of my stash and with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek, asked
"Why are you doing this? Is it because you don't have any yarn?"

Funny, that girl.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Easy Peasy Self Fringing Wrap

As the 'Sexy Grandma' Tee nears it's end (About 25 rows to go, but with fewer and fewer stitches as it nears the top) I ask myself "What's next?" For the trip to Vancouver Island, I pulled lots of different creams and ivories from my stash for a summer shawl.
An 'easy peasy' shawl. More a concept than a pattern. Stolen,as usual, from a friend and fellow knitter. Remember - I am not so creative, but I copy well.

Easy-Peasy Self-Fringing Shawl/Stole
Use lots of different yarns, with lots of different textures and weights, that look good together.
Include some 'eyelash' type yarns for good texture.
Use a big fat needle - about 9mm to make the stitches lacey and open.
Cast on enough stitches to make the shawl/stole as long as you want it. My guide? A beach towel.
Work in garter stitch.
Work each row in a different yarn
When starting and ending each row, leave a long tail - about 6 - 8 inches.
Once you have two tails side by side, tie them together. There's the fringe.
Change colours completely at random. Because colours are changed each row, the effect is one of creating fabric. Individual rows disappear in the randomness of the changes.

The effect is stunning. I have one of these shawls in sparkly, Christmas colours with an extravagantly long fringe - about 15 inches - that is nothing short of spectacular. Heads turn and compliments come every time I wear it. Feels great.

So it could be the shawl next. Or maybe another summer top. With this yarn from Mad About Ewe in Nanaimo BC,
Cotton. The orange has a small blue fleck in it, so looks great with the plain blue.

But, then there is the Pattern-Free, Top-Down, Raglan, , Summer Sweater KAL with my friend Nicki.

As my friend Shirl would say "You have options."

Options. Maybe the answer will come to me as I finish those last few rows of Sexy Grandma.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sexy Grandma???

Thursdays are for knit group -- and Surviror, of course. Today I took ' the blob' to knit group. The 'blob' being the summer cotton Tee - which is now about an inch past the armhole opening.

When one of the knitters asked what I was making, I dug the pattern out of my bag. And here it is for you to see.

A cute little Tee, I thought. A pattern I have had for a few years now. It covers all the important bits, and has just a little riske openness at the shoulders.

But when I showed the pattern to my fellow knitter, her response was quite different from mine.
"Mmmm" was what she said while her eyebrows spiked.

She passed it to the knitter next and the conversation went like this.
" Who's making this?"
"Bre-en-en da!! You aren't going to wear that are you?"

"Sure", I replied. "What's wrong with it?"
Pretty sexy, pretty daring, pretty revealing was what they had to say.

Come one. It is just a couple of inches of shoulder. Not too daring for a Grandma, surely.

I bet they think I will look like the model. Maybe even get a mini skirt. No!! Not this Grandma. Sorry, knit group. Just me with a couple of inches of bare shoulder.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Did You Do Any Knitting?

After packing the yarn first - and for three!!! projects - I did not knit at all, while away. Unless you count a pathetic few inches on the cotton Tee.

At Pearson, the needles triggered security. The lady who opened my bag almost gasped in horror. She called over her supervisor who fortunately knows knitting needles from weapons of mass destruction. "All the lady wants to do is make something" is what he said before he told me all about the socks his Grandma knits for him.

You would think after getting them on the plane, I would have used them. But I was too excited about being on a plane for the first time in several years and the trip in general ,to knit.

Coming home, security was again triggered. Seasoned traveler by now, I informed the clerk "It's my knitting needles.
"No no" she said. "Knitting needles are allowed." (Guess Pearson didn't get the memo)
This time it was my 'terrorist toiletries'. What do you think those good looking airline staff do with all those confiscated toiletries?

The return trip was less exciting, so I did knit some. About 3 inches.
Since coming home though, I have knit the Tee to the armholes. It looks like a blob at the moment, so no photo tonight.

What I am going to show you, is laundry on the clothesline. I am not a diary writer. But, thanks to a suggestion from my London friend, Helen, I do keep a 'book of firsts'. A place to record the first time things happen. Like the first frost of the fall, or the first snow of winter. And today, the first time the laundry was hung outside in 2008.

And if you are anal about these things, as I am, in /07 it was Mar 23 and in /06 Mar 31.
Proof positive that our spring is late in coming. Wonder if that cute meteorologist knows?

A Pretty Sight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Would You Like To See Slides Of Our Vacation?

Remember when it was considered a real social gaffe to inflict your vacation slides on visitors?
Somehow, the blog world has changed that. Or maybe not. If you are not interested in seeing pics of Vancouver Island, tune in tomorrow. I promise to start talking about something other than our trip - soon.
In the meantime -- Did you know there are Palm Trees in Canada? Here is one in Victoria.
Downtown Victoria

While my hometown was looking pathetic - still buried under 3 feet of snow in April - the citizens of Victoria were enjoying this. The harbour, The flowers, And Palm Trees. Pack you bags, folks, The currency is the same. The language is the same. In fact - the COUNTRY is the same. Why don't we all live here?

And if we lived in Victoria, we could visit Butchart Gardens regularly. Butchart Gardens is literally, a breath-taking place. The first time I saw it - 25 years ago - I recall gasping as I rounded the first corner, seeing the beauty of those gardens. I have never before , or since, seen anything that has taken my breath away. If I had money, I would travel to BC in every season just to see those gardens - even if I had turn around and come right home. They are that spectacular.

Here are a couple of photos ( I took 175, so if these few aren't enough, let me know. Ha Ha.)
The requisite shot. Just to prove that we were really there.

The Sunken Garden.
The sunken garden was created out of an abandoned quarry. To plant Ivy in the tall, rock walls, Mrs Butchard- that's right, MRS! Butchart - sat in a hanging Bosun's chair. I have no idea what a Bosun's chair is, but the idea of hanging in any kind of chair to do the planting is enough to impress me.

And this is a second shot of the same garden. With our friend Max going down the steps.

Even with my only-average photography, the beauty is clearly evident.

Not that the rest of Van Isle isn't gorgeous. They do have some pretty big trees.
This one in Cathedral Grove came down in a storm. It goes on and on.
And any tree you can stand in is big by my standards.
Another requisite shot. But, you get the idea. Lots of BIG trees and beautiful scenery.

Social gaffe or not, these pics deserve to be shared. Enjoy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Normal BLogging Resumes Today

We're home. How silly of me to think that I might have had time - or the inclination - to blog while on holiday. Really - I was too busy visiting yarn shops.

Prior to leaving, I made a list of 5 Vancouver Island yarn shops - found on a web site - that I wanted to visit. Two were familiar to me thru newsletters or blogs. The others were - simply - there. I mean - do you need any other reason?

All the friends we visited - great people that they are - took my quest to heart and lined up all the yarn shops in their towns. I can't even remember how many I visited.

Poor Fred spent much of the holiday waiting in front of yet another yarn shop. Sometimes lucky enough to find a bench, sometimes lucky enough to find a bar, other times, pacing.

My favourite, I think, was Fun Knits on Quadra Island. Of course, having to take a ferry from Campbell River added to the experience. Fred - a passionate fisherman - said he was going to get a T shirt that reads " I came to Campbell River - The Salmon Fishing Capital of Canada - and all I did was visit a blankety blankety yarn shop."

Fun Knits features lots of locally spun, dyed and painted yarns. And!! They sell Kauni. One of their knitters created her own pattern and knit a Kauni cardigan that is to die for. Here are the two - in different colourways - that were on display.

The pattern is being readied now. I was told to check the web site - - in a couple of weeks.

And here are a couple of shots of me with the yarn acquisitions.

I wonder what Fred will say when I tell him I am going to the Knitters Fair this year.