Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Front porch chattin'

Oh, I thought it was the wrong day!   Then, I walked down the road but no one seemed to be home.  Except for Wendell, of course.  He's got an interesting style of hosting. Invited us to the barn, offered his own hay... good thing Patrice showed up.  So, here we are and the chat has started right in. 

What's your favorite day of the week? Why?   I'm not sure I have a favorite day of the week, really.  I do love those 'bonus' days when you have an unexpected day off from something you do on a regular basis.  Sort of like a snow day off from school.  I can just read or knit the whole day away. 

What's your favorite Christmas movie?  Again, no real favorite.  I don't really like the modern movies much, they're pretty silly.  So, I think if I were going to be asked to choose, it would be almost any of the old black and white movies.  They all have a gentleness and  a seriousness that I find appealing. 

Is there a Christmas Carol that's special to you?  Right now, I'm practicing 'Once in Royal David's City' for my piano workshop in December.  So that gives it a specialness right now.  And I guess I have some special feeling for it since I chose it from all that were in my book to play that day.  

Is there an art or craft that you'd love to be able to do? Oh, I'd love to be able to weave.  But it takes up so much room.  And I already take up a lot of room with knitting, quilting and rug-hooking.  Even if I'm not always active, the materials don't take up less room while they wait for me to come play with them.  
Do you have a live Christmas tree or an artificial one? Artificial because of allergies.  And, small because of lack of space for a big tree.  Did someone say maybe I should shove some wool aside? 

And now it's time to go visiting everyone.  If you want to join in, just hop over to Everyday Rurality...we're still talking. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday!


I resisted Black Friday and blacker Saturday.  I can go into yarn stores and just buy that special needle size.  I can squeeze the yarns for their softness and admire their colors.  Then I can walk away and leave them on the shelf.  Because I have Taken The Pledge.

But, now this Cyber Monday thing has been invented to seduce me!   More yarns than I could ever see in a dozen yarn stores are right there at my fingertips.  I need to be locked up.  "No, stay strong", says the clear little voice in my right ear.  "Oh, go ahead", says the smooth voice in my left ear, "You'll be buying again in January.  Then you can use these yarns.  Just put them away until then.  Think of the savings."

So far, I have resisted.  How long does this thing go on for? Just one day?   Hah! Fibbers, all.   Knit Picks lasts 'til Wednesday.   I'm afraid to look at any more.  elann and Simply Socks have quietly slipped their temptations into my inbox.  Of course, I looked.  That's the easy part.

Now, I have you all on my side.  You'll save me...right?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday wonders - B

B is for Birds.  I don't think of myself as a bird-watcher in the 'twitcher' sort of way.  In fact, this became very clear on our trip to the canyons.  Our guide was a serious was hard for me to keep  up.   I just like to watch birds do their bird thing. I'm amazed at how some have extraordinarily beautiful coloring and some are so very plain.  And it's fascinating that they all have their special seasons and habits which help them to survive.

There are winter birds who visit us in the fall on their way to warmer nesting grounds, like the snow geese.

The robins come back to us in the spring when our ground is warmer and the food is more plentiful for those begging beaks of their chicks.

Mother and Father Goose go everywhere with their family in tow...

The great blue heron hunts in solitary patience...

While others feed communally - and with some help from their human friends.

Some birds seem familiar to us, like this moor hen we found paddling in Ireland.  At first glance, we just said: 'oh, a coot'.  But, when we looked closely, we realized that it was an exotic kind of coot with a brilliant beak and a different name.

There are birds that don't mind  standing out on a rainy, fall day...

And birds that like the drier, warmer weather and find it difficult to fly in the rain.

There are homely birds who take shelter from the noon sun in summer...

And birds who are with us year-round - even in the snow.

Birds can be any color at all.  Some blend in with their surroundings...

And others don't seem to blend at all. 
All are worth watching.  It's easy - and free.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Stash

Back again with the stash report.  I've just come in from my front porch photo shoot.  The wind was blowing rain at me and I was ducking the flying leaves but I did manage to click the shutter a couple of times.

I've been slower this week.  But that's what comes of being single-minded.  I usually have about four things going at once these days and I work on each - a little bit.  But this week, I was determined to finish the cardigan for Katie.  I call it the Fishergirl's Cardi - there are two bright pink 'fish' buttons which don't seem to show very well.  And it's an adaptation of the warm cabled sweaters many northern fishermen wear.  I love how the soft yarn has made such a tough-looking design very feminine without losing stitch definition. 

And I'm sure you all remember how I cast on for the Herb Garden stole back at the beginning of September.  Sure you do.  I cast on, knit two rows and put it away to work on later.  Then we went on holiday and I kind of forgot about the stole.  I came across it the other day.  I've now done 60 rows.  I'm loving the color.  It's perfect for the days when you wonder if spring will ever come again.  The greens are so vivid and make me smile. 

And, then, the other day, I had a conference call scheduled.  I meant to get some knitting going but left it too late.  So, I grabbed some white cotton yarn and my needles and cast on during the call.  This is what is emerging from the needles.  I call them Snowberry Socks.  Usually, my patterning goes down the foot but this 'berry' pattern wasn't looking like something I would want to wear inside a shoe.  And, I really wanted to make some socks using this stitch pattern.  Compromise position is to have three bands of berries around the leg. 

So, that's this week.  According to my photo labels this is week number 22 of reporting how I've been using up my stash.  One month and a bit to go...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday?

I don't like the name for this particular day in the year - at all.  I know it is a very positive comment on the day for merchants - and their customers - who are depending on their bottom line.  And I appreciate that.  But I think that Black Friday sounds more like a disaster than upward mobility in the finance department. 

This is the view from my kitchen window this morning. I'm looking east instead of north from the computer - lots of mountains around us.   And it is so not a 'black' Friday.  It's a sparkly new day with the snow and the sun exactly where they should be.  It was a horrible, blustery day yesterday.  Now look at our reward!  It's time to go outside and play.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Front porch chattin'

It's Wednesday again!  It's isn't snowing hereanymore but I wouldn't want to be sitting out on the porch today.  I'm glad that Patrice has invited us inside.  As long as people are chatting, I don't think we much care where we are, really.

There are already quite a few people gathered and the conversation is buzzin'.  I'll have to jump in and catch up quickly.  Here's today's starters:

What are you thankful for?  I'm thankful for my wonderful life - and everything in it.  I am free to do whatever I choose to do.  It doesn't get any better than that. 

Jellied cranberry or whole berry cranberry?  No contest.  Whole berry and homemade.  I can control the sweet level when I do it myself.  I like it on the tart side.  

How many will sit at your dinner table Thursday?  Two.  We've already had our Thanksgiving here in Canada.  So, it's just another Thursday to us.

Would anyone who visits the porch be interested in some  type of Christmas card or small gift exchange?  Just keepin' it real - I don't send Christmas cards any more.  

Do you venture out on Black Friday?  I wouldn't.  Much as I like shopping, I'd stay home on any day when the stores would be filled with bargain-hungry shoppers.  Here, it's Boxing Day.  I'm staying home and  knitting. 

Time to head out and do some of those things I choose to do.  Head on over to the chat's right here.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday wonders - A

A is for Alphabet.  Why didn't I think of this one sooner?

I love fridge magnets.  I used to have a huge collection of them on my fridge.  You know it's such a chore to take them all down and clean the fridge door.  So, you can guess what doesn't happen...and the next consequence?  No magnets at all.  But I became a fan of those instant poetry magnetic word sets.  They could be a great hit at family gatherings because everyone ends up in the kitchen sooner or later. But I'm also  cheap thrifty and figured we could make something even more fun.

 So, we found some old Scrabble games, a bottle of glue and some magnet tape.   Using the letters of our grandkids' names, we had our own word game.  It started off a bit slow but it got better as new kids came into our lives - more letters to play with.  There were various challenges: using up all the letters to make a coherent sentence was one for the adults.  But the kids learned to spell, too, and had their own little fun with the letters.  My all-time favorite sentence was: "Ale rocks ya brain".  There have been some definite literary liberties taken along the way to greatness.

Now, it's time to pull out the letter box again and fill in the latest name.   Gabby needs her name to be added to the roll call. That'll give us a little letter boost.

And, by now, you've all realized that I am addicted to this alphabet thing on a Sunday, too.  I began this little ritual in March of 2009.  There are two rounds of the alphabet in a year.  I have gone round the letters five times since then.  This time around, I want to look back on some of my favorites, perhaps updating, or adding to, my earlier thoughts.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Stash

So, yes, the crazy cold white stuff did melt away by noon, yesterday.  The memo for snow bust have been delivered way too early.  Glad someone put it back in the Inbox.  The skies are clear.  It's cold but that's OK.

I have not been very diligent with the knitting this week...a lot of volunteering seems to have been going on around here.  Yesterday. we cooked up a ton of butter chicken, roti and rice for an Indian lunch at the seniors center.  This was to complement our guest speaker: a local woman who spent three months in India volunteering as an English teacher to children in a leper colony.  Yes, they still have them even though the disease is completely treatable now.  The kids - who are quite healthy - are not allowed to go to the public schools.

I did manage to finish the blue cable socks.  Sorry I don't have a photo yet.  And I have started a 'request' cardi for my middle gd, who likes to wear clothes that match big sister's.  The pink Geisha yarn, that I have so much of, will make a lovely version of the Tuckernuck cardi.   

The yarn is  slightly fuzzy but has great body and seems to hold stitch definition quite well.  It's softer than a regular worsted but that makes the pattern more interesting to me.   Best of all, from a mom point of view, the yarn is washable.

Now I'm off.  Today we are selling books and crafts.  We have a lunch ready for the volunteers, too.  These things take time to prepare for.

Friday, November 18, 2011


This is my view this morning!

This was not what I had hoped to see.  I like my snow to have the good sense to stay up on that mountain.  The sun is out now.  I hope the storm has passed and the white stuff will be just a memory by noon. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Front porch chattin'

Living out here on the West Coast, I'm always a bit late to the party at Patrice's place.

Thanks for waitin', everybody.  I've brought some carrots for Wendell.  I know they're nothing like the real thing but it's the thought that counts...right?   I think the conversation is already in progress.  I'll jump right in...

 Where would you take the blogger group for a chat, if they came to your house?  Well, since it's kind of cold out right now for sitting on the deck, I think we'd have to make do with the living room and keep warm around the fireplace.   It would be a lot nicer in the summer, though.  Let's plan on that. 

How do you handle "toxic people"? They're the ones  that are very difficult to be around and generally don't bring out the best in us.  I don't actually have any toxic people in my life.  I think that tells you how I deal with them...I just steer clear.  If I have to deal with unpleasantness, it depends on how well I know the person.  The responses range from super-polite to not-so.  I'm not much like my mother:  the more she disliked someone, the sweeter she became.  You could always tell.

In high school, were you the athlete, the cheerleader (actual or just your personality), the geek, the social butterfly, or lost?  I was never the athlete, not ever.  I was always a geek.  Never a cheerleader but I've always been a pretty good coach.  In my own geeky set, I was a social butterfly - relatively speaking.  And the only time I was ever lost in high school is in my dreams.  When I'm stressed in my life, I dream about not being able to find my locker.  Or being unable to find the classroom I need to be in.

What's your favorite thing made from apples?  Hands down, apple crisp.  If you have a couple of stalks of rhubarb that just makes it even better.  But, I hardly ever eat desserts now.  I do eat an apple almost every day.  Raw.  Now that's real perfection.

Do you do most of your shopping in stores or online? Stores.  I live within walking distance from all the shopping I normally need to do. I can get in the car and find several more shopping areas if I'm needing some retail therapy.  Or I can hop on a bus and be in the big city in half an hour.    I admit to the occasional online purchase of yarn, though.  Sometimes the deals are too good to ignore.

And now I'm off to find out what's been said before I got here.  Check out the chat right here.  You could sign up and add to the growing number on the porch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's here!

 I woke up to a layer of frost on everything outside.  Winter has arrived.

This is the view I have while I work at my computer.

  But let's take a closer look.  These mountains aren't more than a half-hour walk away from us.

 This is what happens after we celebrate all those glorious fall leaf colors.  Let's button up our overcoats.  It's supposed to be a cold winter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday wonders - Z

Z is for Zoomer. 

No, not the brand of swim fins for competitve and long distance swimmers.

And, not the name of a toy for kids.

Zoomers are, apparently,  'boomers with zip'.  Baby boomers, that is. Those of us who were born after World War Two when all the service men and women were back home.  The Boomers  have long been known as a demographic for marketers to plunder.  I am a part of that baby boom. 

So, since we're aging and perhaps not as big in the spending department, Moses Znaimer, a go-getting kind of fellow has decided that Canada (and probably the world)  need some new boomers.  So, he's coined a new word and added a whole new generation  Now, you can be a marketing target when you're 45.  I'm sure I'm not being too cynical here at all.

Now when you buy a membership in CARP which I thought was the Canadian Association of Retired People, I discovered that you became a member of this Zoomer thing because Mr Znaimer has bought it all and renamed everything.  No longer 'R for retired', we are now 'R for rejuvenated'.  There's also a glossy and encouraging magazine for Zoomers.

Someone talked me into buying a membership because of my seniors' association role.  I've decided let my membership lapse because I just can't relate to all this zippy aging in this connected sort of way.  To me, that's what we original baby Boomers were.  Original.  Independent.  Non-conformist. 

This is a zoomer.  It is a machine.  It is not a human. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday stash

 I've been waiting for the light to be brighter for picture taking.  I'm not very happy with flash photographs.  It's the color change or maybe the warmth.  Don't know why but I totally prefer daylight.  So, I was knitting while I waited for the darkness to lift.  It seems to take longer every morning.  While sitting on the cold front step, I was reminded of my mother constantly warning us kids to not sit on cold concrete.  She said we'd get piles.  Since, in our feckless youth, we had no idea what she was talking about we kept on doing it.  Clearly, I never did learn.

This week I've been happily knitting on my favorite sock needles.  While sock yarn use doesn't make a huge dent in the stash, I need to knit round and round with skinny yarn and little needles on a regular basis.  Like eating the right food for my body,  a sock diet is necessary and makes me happy.

One sock, two sock...

One of the yarns I found in the stash was a vintage sock yarn.  Now, this yarrn might date to 1953 considering that it's a blend of wool and nylon crimpset - whatever that is.  But it's anti-shrink, anti-stretch and permanently mothproofed.  Can't ask for more than that.  When you rummage around in thrift shops for yarn, sock weight is not easy to find.  I remember reaching for the color first and being delighted to find that it was for socks.
In my imagination eye, I've been seeing these gold ribbon socks almost since I saw the yarn.  This week was time to make it real.  Since I was inventing this sock pattern, I went round and round for a long time while I tried to figure out what I would do with the heel.  I ran the ribbon into the heel, FYI.  Then, I had to decide whether to continue wrapping the ribbon around the foot or just give the illusion.  I really like the result.  And the yarn is wonderful to knit..very soft and smooth.  And mothproof!

Gold sock, blue sock...

I've already confessed to frogging those long lace stockings.  The yarn didn't hibernate for long.  I believe that yarn always knows what it wants to be - see gold ribbon story above.  My teal wool is very strong and springy.  I'm now convinced that it wasn't happy as lace and with every round I was feeling its frustration and annoyance at being all dolled up like a lady.   So, I gave in and devised a cable and rib pattern that looks as sturdy and useful as the yarn.  These are not plain socks but the pattern has a lot of strength and solidity as well as grace.  Another happy result.

Kind of a surprise are these purple mohair mitts-to-be.  I have a ton of this mohair - don't ask.  Some is dyed in  very intense shades of emerald, fuschia and purple.  I have an enormous cone of undyed as well.  Can you see how fine it is?  And then look at the fluffs out so much in the knitting process.  These will be pretty warm mitts, I think. I'm not sure what I'll do with it all.

And, for the really tiny feet in this world: Zen Flower booties.  I wondered if I could knit a tiny version of those frilly scarfs and get a flower.  Yes, I can but it's not very practical and so many stitches on a small needle is a killer - maybe easier in a finer yarn.  They make a sweet decoration on baby slippers, though.  Can you see the tiny heart in the middle?

I'm back to knitting.  I want to finish the gold sock this morning.  Then I'll decide which project to pick up next.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today, I'll be placing a wreath at our local cenotaph on behalf of our seniors' association.  Our members include veterans of our Canadian Forces as well as those they left behind.  Wives, daughters, mothers, sisters, sweethearts. 

And, today, I'll be remembering this young man whose mother saw him off to war never knowing if he would come home again.  The young man I never knew  because like all the young men who were excited to see something other than their small towns, hoping to learn how to fly a plane  and eager to serve their country, he left his youth very far away.  I think Dad's might be somewhere over Africa, floating in the air forever. 

My Dad did come back.  So many didn't.  Those who did - and still do because war seems to be an eternal human state- are forever changed.   I know I'll never even come close to imagining what his memories were like.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Frogs and time

The end of the year is approaching and so is the end of the Time Machine version of the Birth Year reading challenge.

While I'm doing better with the books than last year, I doubt I'll win any prizes this time either.  The truth is that because it's difficult to find the books from 1953 that I want to read, I'm not reading any on the fairly long list.  The ones I can find I don't particularly want to spend time on.  And I sort of knew this might happen.  So, I devised a clever little additional challenge of my own.  Remember the 1953 lacy stockings?

Yes, we can sometimes be too clever.  Knitting lace stockings from a period pattern seemed like an excellent idea at the time.  I hopped right to the needles, cast on some pretty yarn and got going on my project.  Then, my other stash pledge sort of edged out time spent knitting the stockings.  No matter, I have all year, right?  So now, here we are , nearing the end of that not-so-long year.

I had knit to the calf of one stocking (top down) and the rests in between kept getting longer and longer.  I finally picked it up yesterday and realized that I no longer wanted to knit these.  So, rip-it, rip-it, rip-it.  Before I even could think twice, I had added to the frog pond.  I'm not unhappy about my decision except that I quit!  I hate quitting!  And this was such clever plan...wah!

Happily, that yarn is on its way to becoming something new...more on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Front porch chattin'

Today is a funny, busy kind of day.  Funny because all the busy-ness is so different.  I have to prepare for a meeting which is super-important to me.  I have a piano lesson this afternoon and, of course, there will be some practicing involved before that.  Then the meeting.  And, then, I get a treat: dinner out with the seniors Dine Out group!  We're going to a local Chinese restaurant which is supposed to be very nice with great food.  I'm looking forward to that.

So, right now, I'm happy to pick up my knitting and head on over to Patrice's front porch for a cup of hot tea and some relaxing chit-chat.  Just let my mind unkink from all its convoluted thinking.  It's a bit wet and cold here for front porches - nice to head off somewhere else.  Let's listen in:

Dreaming asks: What accomplishments make you the most proud? Right.  Let's start off with something really hard.  Since I'm a mom, I guess I'd say my kids.  But only the fact of them not what they have become.  Not that I'm not proud of them.  No, it's just that I can't take all of the fact they're a team project from the get-go, aren't they?  But, they're my best event ever! 

Suzanne asks: When did your family first come to the country which you now live? Both my parents' ancestors have been in Canada since the mid 1700's.  

Wendell asks: What's your favorite way to serve carrots? Well, Wendell, I actually like mine raw just like you do - and no dip.  BTW, I've got a couple here in my knitting bag for you.  When I cook carrots, I like them steamed with a little butter and dill. 

Do you decorate with anything that has Santa or Father Christmas when you prepare for Christmas?  One of my favorite parts of decorating is getting out my Santa/Father Christmas collection.  I like to see the pieces emerge from their wrapping each year.  I usually only remember the bigger ones.  There's always a surprise or two!  Each one has a memory attached: where I bought it, who gave it to me or who made.  

Do you prefer big dogs or small dogs? Something in between, maybe?  I'm not a true dog lover and I don't think think I would ever share my home with one.  So, this would be a hypothetical dog, right?  I think a medium-sized dog.  I enjoy watching dogs work, especially the herding dogs.  I like their  speed and agility and their intelligence.  Actually,  most big dogs scare me and many small dogs seem silly. I can appreciate their cute factor, though. .  

It's always good to relax with friends.  Now it's time to go and face the world.  If you would like to join in the chat, just hop over to the porch at Everyday Rurality.  A nice place to visit.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday wonders - Y

Y is for Year.  The clues are all adding up: this year is slowly fading.

But, like the aging boomers, some plants seem to want to hang on to their youth.  I'm not sure why so many of the vine maples have these fresh-looking toupees perched on top of their bare branches. 

Others, like the blueberry bush, go out in a blaze of glory.  The whole garden glows just before these leaves fall to the ground.  Then, there's a bright carpet of red.

Some flowers just keep on keepin' on.  Even though the frost has come a couple of nights, there are still vibrant pink flowers, buds and green leaves on this hollyhock.

Now, the Beautyberry does exactly what it's supposed to be doing.  It produces exotic purple berries to feed the many birds that visit.  These berries will endure through the winter.  For some reason, and it may be timing, the robins do not eat them.  So, while the mountain ash berries are stripped off in a matter of days, these are eaten in a more thoughtful manner by smaller birds.

And, as if I hadn't got all those clues sent out by's the clincher:

I get an extra hour of sleep - totally unnecessary - and it will be dark sooner this evening.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Stash

Not a lot to show for my week.  But it feels like I've been knitting for hours and hours each day.  It's these ruffles.

 Told you I couldn't stop at one.  Some are faster than others but they all made me slow down some.  I think that happens whenever you knit a scarf sideways, though.  And, I think it's nicer in a way to knit them longways on a lot of stitches rather than back and forth on fewer stitches.  The constant turning from row to row is a nuisance, too. 

I kept rummaging in the fancy yarns for yarns I thought would make good ruffles.  I tried a chunky yarn and some mohair/acrylic blends.  For the past two days, I've been working on the teal/purple which is a mohair that knits like very fine lace weight.  It ends up more substantial when knitted up but it's hard to make the increases on big needles and spider web yarn.  I love the springiness of the ruffles - and so soft.  I think almost any yarn would work for this effect.

While I was in a marathon sort of mood, I also made a couple of pairs of baby slippers.  They look huge but are only for the little non-walking babies.  Like booties.  The yellow ones are from the original Debbie Bliss pattern but I made the gray ones first.  I didn't want to do the hard work of making that nifty sole side in the yellow so just made a reverse stocking stitch instead.  I also miscounted when doing the tops and came out with a different cuff.

I wasn't going to put ears or face on them at all but thought well, gray could be a cat.  Hah!  It turned into a rat mouse.  I didn't get the ears pointy enough or something.  I'll make these again...the fussy sole thing, too.  It really does give the sole a more tailored and modern look.  But I will not be making any more ears.  Sheesh!  There were sixteen pieces to sew together - and on the boot - for just these two pair.  This process takes as long as the whole slipper.  And, in case you didn't know, I hate finishing.  Without the ears/face, these are a snap to finish.  And, I think while they are cute, the ears might be impractical.  Not sure why I think that. The original pattern also has a pom-pom tail.  Now that is impractical.  But cute.

So, there's the stash report.  It's definitely going down.  I can see the difference when I open the chest(s) now.  One of the most fun parts of this challenge is searching for patterns that will work with my motley bunch of yarns - many just one or two skeins.  What new patterns can I find this week?  There are so many kind designers who put their patterns up for free.  I am very grateful to them all.


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