Friday, May 30, 2008

To Hearst

With the miracle of modern blogging, I am sitting in the car, on the way to Hearst while you read this.

"Hearst?" you say. "Where the heck is that?" Well you might ask. With all apologies to my Hearst friends that might be reading this, it was the same question I asked when Charlie - son #1 - said he was going there to work. While your reaction to learning where Hearst is will surely be one of mild disinterest, my reaction was to sob. For a long time.

Hearst is on the Trans Canada highway about two hours west of Cochrane. Cochrane you might know because it is where travelers catch the Polar Bear Express. The train that takes tourists to Moosonnee on Hudson's Bay.

Charlie met his wife in Hearst and now has three children. Our beauteous grandchildren.
We spend summer time in Hearst at our trailer to see these three and to do some of this.

and this
and this
and this
With post dated blogging and occasional access to Charlie's computer, I hope to keep you up to date on our activities. We'll be back mid-June.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursadays Are For Knit Group

Thursdays are for knit group and look what the knitters are doing today.

Ingrid is working on another creative sweater. Knit side to side. It is the body she is holding. The knitting in her lap will be the sleeves. Throughout the sweater she held the yarn double. In the body two strands of the same yarn. In the sleeves, she changes it up - that's our creative Ingrid.
Look at her seam. Sewn on the sewing machine, with just a straight stitch. Nice.

This is the beginning of her sleeve. It will be very wide she said and dramatic. The only drama in the sweater, she claims. I doubt it. The front closes asymetrically. Knit side to side. Yarns held double. There's a lot going on there, Ingrid.

Doreen has finished her vest. She claims it gave her lots of trouble. Mostly, I think because she ran out of yarn and had to hunt for more. I could be wrong, but I think the vest is a first for Doreen. The first 'garment' she has knit. Mostly she knits hats, scarves and mitts.
What did I wear to knit group today? Need you ask. The TD PF R SS KAL. Done. Look at all those buttons. Fits nicely and looks good. I'm happy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Opal & Mohair Socks.

When, a few days ago, I blogged about starting the second Opal & Mohair sock, I mentioned that I started it with a provisional cast-on. Why did I do that?

Well, after unwinding nearly all the rest of the ball of Opal yarn, I still hadn't found the starting point for the pattern repeat. And while Stephanie comments in one of her books that she is satisfied with the 'fraternal' rather than 'identical ' look to her socks, I'm more anal.

With Opal and Mohair spread all over the rec room couch and threatening to become so tangled I might never get sock #2 at all, I had a brain wave. The pattern repeat was off - or short - only about eight rows. But parts of the pattern repeated themselves within the total repeat. If I used a provisional cast on, when the sock was done, I could find those eight rows in the leftover yarn. Pick up the live stitches from the provisional cast-on and knit up. And that's exactly what I did.
Can you tell which is which? Bet'cha can't.
It's the one on the left.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Comfort Dolls

Look who I found in my closet today.
I was introduced to this little doll at a Church bazaar last Christmas season. It was love at first sight.

The ladies behind the counter told me that they make the dolls to use as packing material for medical supplies their Church sends to Africa. Once the supplies are unpacked, the dolls become gifts - and a comfort, the ladies hoped - for the village children. Where would the world be without Church ladies! I marvel at all they do.

I purchased three dolls to give to my grandchildren for Christmas. Once home, I studied them more closely. They appeared to be simple to make. Out came my needles and scraps of yarn. In no time, I had figured out the pattern and made a couple of dolls of my own.

And for your knitting pleasure - here is the pattern.


YARN - Use any thickness of yarn you like. The thicker the yarn, the bigger the doll. You will need at least 4 colours per doll.
NEEDLES – Use needles about ½ size smaller than normally used for the yarn chosen.
BASE – Cast on 32 stitches and work 6 rows of garter stitch ( knit every row).
SKIRT/PANTS - Change colour. Work 14 rows of stockinet stitch ( knit one row, purl one row)
SHIRT - Change colour and work 12 rows stockinet stitch.
HEAD - Change colour and work 8 rows stockinet stitch
HAT – Hat Brim -Using the colour of either the shirt or the pants, knit one row. Then, change colour and begin to decrease for the top as follows
Row 1. - and all odd numbered rows, Purl.
Row 2. Knit 1, *K2tog, k4. repeat from * to last stitch. Knit 1.
Row 4. Knit 1, *k2tog, K3. repeat from * to last stitch, Knit 1.
Row 6, Knit 1, *K2tog, K2. repeat from * to last stitch, Knit 1.
Row 8, Knit 1, *K2tog, K1. repeat from * to last stitch, Knit 1
Row 10, Knit 1, *k2tog , repeat to last stitch, Knit 1.
Pull yarn through stitches to close. 
Embroider eyes and mouth on centre front.
Sew across base. 
Sew up back, leaving an opening so you can stuff.
Stuff with fill, then close opening.
Thread a darning needle with matching coloured yarn and draw  through stitches at base of head and pull tight to gather in.
For arms, pinch a few rows of knitting and stuffing between your fingers at the side of the doll, and starting where pants meet the shirt, baste up to just a few rows before the head. 

GENDER IDENTIFICATION - If you want a girl doll, you are done. Boys take a little more work. For a boy doll, stitch up from base, through pants section, stopping a few rows below the shirt. This divides the body for the legs.
The dolls are a great project to use up small amounts of yarn. Leftovers from other projects perhaps. Thick yarn and needles make large dolls. Fine yarn and needles make small dolls.

A comfort to the recipient for sure. But a comfort to the knitter too, I think.

Monday, May 26, 2008

TA-DA!! For Sure

It's done. The TD PF R SS KAL is done. Done enough to be on the blocking board, at least. Once dry, I have only to sew on 17 - yep, that's right - 17 buttons. My original vision for the sweater was several, closely-spaced, tiny, little, white buttons. Seems crazy now.

"Wouldn't that look nice?" thought I. The picture in my mind looked lovely. The execution? Likely torture. 17 buttons! What was I thinking? Modeled shots with 17 buttons in the next day or several.

You might recall, this yarn was originally in another sweater. (See post of April 21) The original sweater's style had come and gone, so I decided to 'frog' the yarn and use it for this KAL. The yarn is 100% cotton - Denim, by Schachenmayr nomotta. Colour 72. - light green as you can see.

The sweater, knit top-down, started with an estimate of the correct number of stitches. While casting on, I occasionally threw the work around my neck. Once I could say "That looks about right." I stopped casting on.

After a few rows of seed stitch for the edging, I divided the stitches into five parts. 2 fronts, 2 sleeves, and the back. My theory for the division goes like this: About 44% of the stitches are for the back, 15% for each of the sleeves and the rest for the fronts. I put markers between those divisions and started knitting. Every other row - that is, on right-side rows only, I increased one stitch on either side of each marker. When I had enough stitches to allow the sleeves to meet under my arms, I put the sleeve stitches on scrap yarn and knit the body. Then lastly, the sleeves.

And to show you that I haven't just been lazing around, here is the beginnings of Opal & Mohair sock #2. Although it doesn't show in the photo, I started number 2 with a provisional cast on. The pattern repeat was so far down the ball, that a ton of yarn was going to be wasted. So with the provisional cast on, I started a bit further down the cuff and am proceeding merrily along. Once the sock is done, I will find the correct spot in the pattern, join on and kit UP the last few rows. Much less yarn wasted - I hope. I'll let you know how that works out.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursdays Are For Knit Group - But No More Survivor Until Fall

Thursdays are for knit group. Thankfully, unlike Survivor, knit group takes no summer break.
Production never ceases! Look what is happening this week.

These are Joanna's mittens. Great colour work.

And Wilma is trying to convert herself to continental knitting. It is great to have two methods at your finger tips - no pun intended - but it's no easy task retraining those fingers.

And here is Nicki in the TD PF R SS KAL. She's adamant that it was not a race. But she's done and I'm still on sleeve number 2. If it had been a race, Nicki would be at the stage where by-standers are congratulating her, giving her cold drinks and cookies, pats on the back, smiles all around, directing her to the podium to receive her ribbon. Me, I still climbing that last hill.

And she's just as elusive about having her picture taken. "Not my face. Not my face" she said.

Her seam lines. Done with a Yarn Over to give it an open lacy look. Nice, eh?

Then the cries went out for a photo of both of us. I had to stand on Nicki's right so the needles in my unfinished sleeve didn't jab her.

And she forgot all about the 'not my face' rule.
Thursdays are for knit group. And ain't it grand?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Am I Boring You?

Some time ago, a knitting blogger - a Canadian knitting blogger, I am embarrassed to say - posted that she thought her blog more interesting to read than others.

Her reason? Unlike her blog, she said, most blogs contain nothing more than repetitive and boring photos of the current work in progress.

Duh! Yea! That's what interests knitters. Right? Well, I hope so, because today, I am proud to show you the progress on my TD, PF, R, SS, KAL. One sleeve almost done. That took a two hour TV movie.
I say almost done, as I am aiming for 3/4 sleeves. It is a summer sweater after all.

And while I think most projects reach a 'boring-can't -wait- to-get-it-done stage, I am past that. The body seemed never ending, but now, the finish line is in sight. When I start thinking of what to knit next I know the project is almost finished. And boring no more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ta Da! ? ? Well, Almost.

Remember I said that with all the driving we had to do last week, I was hoping to get the Top Down, Pattern Free, Raglan, Summer Sweater, Knit A Long ( TD PF R SS KAL) done?
Well, It's almost done. Done enough to make me feel better.

The body is done, Yippee!!! The sleeves come next. And it looks as if I might need to find some more yarn. The last time I was at Purrsonally Yours, in Meaford, there was still some on the shelf. Hope I'm not too late.

A close up of the Seed Stitch border.

I switched projects in the car, after finishing the body. I know. I know. Risky business for me. I might never come back to the TD PF R SS KAL. But I do feel re-energized now.

Here is the other project. Sock number one from the Opal & Mohair sock kit I purchased at
Fun Knits on Quadra Island. I love the colours and it should be a very warm pair of socks.

There are no major car trips coming up for the next ten days or so. So the TA DA! will have to come as the result of TV knitting. Soon I hope.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Look Who I Found

Cruising the web the other day, I came across a blog written by a 'Socks 101' student from my past. vegemite, violets and knitting

Isa is an Aussie transplant. She and her husband run The Bloomin Bog Water Gardens. And she is a great knitter. Hence the title of her blog. Go check it out. You will be inspired.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Not Your Parents Dinner Out

Fred and I went out to dinner the other night. We are lucky in Thornbury, a small town, to have so many fine-dining restaurants. It is the result of living in a tourist town.

But the menus in today's fine-dining restaurants make me smile. Years ago, when Dad took Mom out to eat, the menu said something like Roast Beef Dinner. Once you told the server whether you wanted mashed or baked, the rest would be a surprise. Well, not really. You could count on canned peas.

But today's menus begin by mentioning the name of the chef and sous-chef. Perhaps there are chef 'groupies'. Do people eat at restaurants featuring a certain chef, the way I might choose to see a movie because of the director or producer? Perhaps they do.

Then there is the description of the food. I selected the soup. Described on the menu as
Roasted Green Garlic and Local Mushroom Broth with Crustini and Garlic Confit. Translation? Beats me. Here it is.
And remember when they would bring bread or rolls with butter? This is the new butter.

When presented with the 'olive oil for butter' substitute one evening when dining out with friends, the husband, perplexed, asked
"What the heck is this?" And well he might. It would be easy to think you were meant to toss your own salad.

And just so you know.
Here is what an $11 glass of red wine looks like. My most typical wine purchase is a California Red which cost less than $7 per bottle. On a real special occasion, I buy a Canadian Red at $12.
This was pretty darn good wine though.

My main course was Wellington County Roast Suckling Pig with Seasonal Vegetables and Basil Pesto on a bed of Polenta. I got the 'pig' part and since Fred is allergic to fresh pork, it is what I most often choose when eating out. Delicious.

We had a great time. It was a fantastic meal. And for sure not your parents dinner out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On The Road Again

Just like the song, Fred and I are on the road again today. Two great things are happening.

First, we are off to a very special dinner. My nephew and God-Son, Jesse, has spent his entire Grade 9 year working on a special project.

The school principal took 10 students and had them work on a year long assignment. The purpose of the assignment was to have several ambassadors from foreign countries visit their town for three days. Tonight is the culmination of the visit with a gala reception and dinner at a swanky restaurant.

The kids have learned much. They made presentations to local service clubs appealing for funding. They corresponded with the ambassadors and their staff to arrange the visits. They dealt with local businesses to set up tours for the visitors. A wonderful experience for teenagers. It has been stressful these last few weeks leading up to the actual visit and Jesse tells us he will be glad when it is over.

So, tonight we are putting on our fancy duds and getting to see the best of a group of teenagers. Not to mention dining with a group of ambassadors. A first for me.

I thought perhaps I could get them to announce my entrance. "Her excellency (OK that may be pushing it a bit) Brenda, ambassador from the town of Thornbury, representative of all things knitting." Hee Hee.

And the second great thing, is the visit involves about 3 hours of driving each way. Lots of knitting time!! Yahoo. Maybe the KAL will get done.

Tomorrow, I am taking advantage of blogger's new feature - scheduled posting. I wrote Thursday's post a few days ago and it should appear on Thursday morning at 10:am. For once I can say - without sarcasm - 'Technology ! Don't cha love it?'

Friday, when I return, I will show you the KAL. Will it be finished? Let's hope so.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Sluggish is only one word to describe my pace on the KAL sweater.

Slow. Snail-paced. Slow-Paced. Slow-going. The Thesaurus even included simple-minded. And in this mindless sea of stockinet, I wonder if I am.

Here it is again. One, or stretching it, one and a quarter inches closer to being done than yesterday.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Pure Process, Pure BLiss. Or Is It Pure Boredom?

My TD PF R SS KAL with Nicki is progressing - but w a a a y to slowly to suit me.

I know that a sensible knitter would start a new project to alleviate the boredom. In the terminal stages of pure boredom - er that is - straight stockinet, I seldom do that. Well aware of my lack of self discipline, I know that if I start a new one, I might never come back to this one. Then, too, there's my Mother's voice. Left over from my childhood.
"You can't start something new until you finish this." A Mother's sentiment voiced from the sheer frustration of having kids' unfinished projects in every corner of the house. But a voice still heard, none-the-less.

I am more likely to start multiple projects when the current one is merrily chugging along. My thought process would be " Mmmm. This is fun. How much fun would two be?" And off I would go to try out that second - or third - project, knowing that I'll be certain to come back to project number one. How could I not? It is so much fun.

So when I saw the expression ' Pure Process Pure Bliss' on Knitting On Impluse
I thought perhaps I needed an attitude shift. And I tried, I really did - all through the three hour finale of Survivor last night. The best I could do was to see it as both - Pure Bliss, Pure Boredom.

And I am anxious to get it done.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Hiking Friday

What does a knitter do on a sunny spring morning when she is not knitting?
She hikes.

That's me wearing the height of 'haute couture' hiking wear. And who wouldn't dress up for these views.

Bruce Trail, Beaver Valley Scenery at it's finest.

With very few leaves on the trees yet, the sun shone right to the floor of the woods and we were warmer than expected. A nice feeling.

My hiking pal was babysitting today and brought along her young charge. He was a real trooper, but tired by the end. Here he is waiting for the car to be brought round. (Picture blurred purposely as I didn't get his Mom's consent to post his picture on the blog.)

A great way to spend the morning.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursdays Are For Knit Group And Survivor

Knitters are so talented! In our knit group,we have knitters that knit and spin, knitters that knit and weave, and some that spin, knit and weave. Sharon is a knitter weaver.

In late winter Sharon asked all of us at knit group for plastic bags. She wanted to - get this - cut up the plastic bags, and then weave them on her loom to make - what else - plastic bags. Different looking plastic bags mind you, but plastic bags none-the-less. Now who else but a fibre artist would want to do something so time consuming just to make the same thing? No one I tell you. But fibre artists are special. Creative. Talented. And generous. Look what Sharon gave me today.

Sharon gave us our bags based on the bags we gave her. Mine has Benjamin Moore bags -that's the red you see - milk bags, and liquor store bags. Now what I don't understand is why those bags suit our personalities. I'm, bright, bold, brassy. A bull in a china shop personality. So is my bag.

Doreen on the other hand is a lady. Gentile, considerate and soft spoken.
Look at her bag! Doesn't that suit a gentile, soft spoken lady with it's subdued colour palette? A sociologist could do much with this information I would think.

Thursdays are for knit group - and ain't it grand?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is It Knitting Or Is It Art?

Today, I introduce you to my Dad, Jack. He would describe himself as 87 & 11/12th years old. Dad, as faithful readers know, is a lover of all things jazz.

When I came across this sweater pattern a few years ago, I thought it was something Dad would enjoy wearing.

Dad was enthusiastic from the moment he first saw the pattern. Knowing that he seldom wears pullovers I offered to make it as a vest, putting the intarsia work on the back.

I asked "What colour would you like, Dad?"

"It's going to be a striking vest. Might as well be really striking. How about red?" he said.

Red it was/is. Made with Peer Gynt wool. I can't say that it was an easy knit. I can't say that it was a quick knit. I can say that by the time it was finished, I vowed never to do another.

But when saw it on him, again, last Saturday I was struck by the beauty of it. Amazed to think that my hands had created it, I said to myself "That's why knitters knit."

It's art. It's beautiful. It's striking. It's awsome. I can't believe I did it.

Maybe I should do another one.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Yarn Shop Service '101'

Visiting as many yarn shops in as few days as I did while vacationing in British Columbia, made it easy to do a service comparison.

And in the interest of improving yarn shop service everywhere, I give you this.
The only-partially, tongue-in-cheek, Service '101' Workshop.

You will notice that I have dragged you all into the fray, by using the pronoun 'we'. My theory being that we are all customers of service, every day.

Perhaps, I should include you even more. What is your best "Bad Service In A Yarn Shop" story? Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you.

For Yarn Shop Clerks Everywhere.
Service '101'

1. When we enter your store, greet us. It's not hard. Two letters. One syllable. "Hi".
Said with a smile.

2. If you are on the telephone, when we come into your store, HANG UP!

3. If you are on the telephone, when we come into your store and your call is s 0 0 0 0 important that you can't hang up, at least look us in the eye, smile and give us the universally-recognized, 'I acknowledge you' nod of the head. Then, HANG UP!

4. Introduce us to your store. You and your store are familiar with each other. You see each other every day. But us, we're new here. The amount of colour and texture can be overwhelming. So, introduce us to your store. Tell us where the DK is kept. Where is the knitting worsted, the chunky, the sock yarn? Where are the books and magazines? How are the patterns organized? Be a good host. Make us feel at home.

5. SHUT UP! You and your co-worker can talk about kids, husbands, boyfriends, recipes, -whatever- between customers. While we are in the store, talk to us, or not at all.

6. SHUT UP! Don't tell us your life's story. We're sorry about your luck and/or happy for your good fortunes. But, if it isn't about yarn or knitting, then SHUT UP! When you're talking,
we can't think. When we can't think, we can't buy.

7. Make it easy for us to buy. Do you have a web site? Can we shop from home? Do you ship across country? (To every clerk I met, in every yarn shop I visited, I told my story of coming from Ontario to B.C. with a list of must-see yarn stores. But, it wasn't until I got to store # 5
-Mad About Ewe, in Nanaimo - that they offered to ship to me, back home. Guess what? I took their card.)

8. If you don't have it, tell us where we might find it. You can't lose a sale if you don't carry the product anyway. So give us a heads up on where to look. (Fun Knits, on Quadra Island was the 7th store I visited, but the first - and only - to recommend other yarn stores to us.)

It would be nice from a writers perspective to have 10 of these tips. But 8 it is.

My final observation is that a yarn store with good stock and good service could go far.

What are your stories?

Monday, May 5, 2008


On the recommendation of the Fun Knits clerk, the next day we headed to Cumberland to check out the yarn shop.

Most of what you see on Vancouver Island happens within a kilometre or two of the eastern coast of the island. Another half K to the west and you have impenetrable forest.

Surprising then, was the turn off to Cumberland. We headed due West - into that impenetrable forest. Cumberland, off the beaten path, originally a mining town, is a small town. For the life of me, I couldn't imagine the degree of knitting passion it would take to make someone open a yarn store in Cumberland. With a limited population base and virtually no through traffic, where would the customers come from?

But, what a lovely shop! Big, bright, spacious, well-stocked and with a great line up of classes. The shop name escapes me, but if you are ever driving up the Vancouver Island highway and see the sign for Cumberland, just turn left. The main street is a couple of blocks long and the shop is right in the middle of town.
Did I buy anything? Really!
This is Roxy by Wendy. Wool, Rayon, and Polyester. I have two balls at 55 metres each. Another - 'I don't know what I will do with it' purchase. But again the orange, green colour caught my eye.

Then off to C0urtney, just up the highway. The must-see shop there was Uptown Yarns.
Another lovely shop with lots of garments on display. One of which was a great sweater in Aubergine. The pattern was out stock, but they gladly ordered me one and charged me nothing for postage. It arrived a few days after we returned home. Another one for my 'to do' list.

This is Sirdar # 8957, made with a DK weight yarn. The entire right hand side is horizontal ribbing.

There ended the yarn shop tour. With one happy knitter.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Take a Ferry to Quadra Island

To get here,

you have to go here
Ten minutes by ferry from Campbell River to Quadra Island.

Once here
this is what you see.

Aren't they beautiful? I have shown them to you before, but they're worth showing again. Especially since I see that the pattern is now available on their web site. Check it out.

I have long been a reader of Fun Knits blog which made their shop another must see while in BC. When we arrived at the store, they were just tidying up from their annual, April retreat. Bemoaning the fact that I had missed a knitting retreat, the clerk invited me to come back for the October retreat. Ann and Eugene Bourgeois from Philosopher's Wool are the instructors. What a hoot! For most of my life I lived an hour from the Philosopher's Wool farm. Should I travel across country to see them? If I could rack up enough air miles between now and October, I surely would.

Fun Knits was exactly the type of vacation yarn store I had been looking for. Lots of stock. All very different from what I could buy at home. They were the first store we had visited to have local product. Yarn spun from local fleece from local sheep. Hand dyed by local artists. What a treat.

Lucky me. There were having a sale. Look what I got. 25% off on the Opal SOck Kit and 50% off the brushed mohair.
This was a kit. A 100 G ball of Opal Sock Yarn and a ball of un-labeled, lace-weight mohair. Holding the two together should make a great pair of warm ski socks.

And isn't this spectacular? Brushed Mohair from Cherry Tree Hill. Slightly more orange than what the computer shows. 500 M. What will that make? What did I intend it for? I have no idea. But it was too gorgeous to pass up.

Then the lovely clerk told us of a yarn store in Cumberland. One that wasn't on my list. That is where we head on Monday.