Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Wonders - Y and Z

It seems fitting that the last letters of the alphabet should come on the last Sunday of this year.  So Y is for Years. 
I began this alphabet series in March of 2009 just as a little challenge for myself.  I have tried to post every Sunday and I think that I have only missed a couple.  There have been six rounds of the entire alphabet in that time.  I also participated in to A-Z Challenges.  That's a lot of alphabets.

And Z is for Zoom.  Those years and letters have gone by so fast that most of the photos are a blur.

This is the one that I think of whenever I think of the photos I've used for the letters.  In fact, it's the only one that I can be specific about.  I don't know why, really.  It is not the most scenic photo nor the most interesting.  It was Q on the first round and we were in Dublin.  The streets were so rarely at rest that I celebrated this early morning quiet. 

So, this is the way the challenge ends: with peace in the city. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Stash

Last week I set myself the goal of completing all my UFO's before the year's end.  It would be good to start the new year off with nothing lurking in the basket.  My friend Rudee suggested that frogging might be the only realistic way to accomplish this.  At the time, I thought that that might be cheating.  However, on sober second thought and in the cold light of day without my rose-colored glasses perched on my nose, I think she's got it absolutely right.

This scarf has been sitting around since last spring.   I like the pattern but I'm not inspired by it.  And I think that's why I stopped.  I obviously didn't miss the project enough to complete it.  And it wasn't actually buried in the basket.  I know that's death to a project.  No, it was sitting right where I could see it.  It begged and pleaded but no use.  Into the frog pond it will go.  I'm sure there will be another use for this yarn.

I thought this was another scarf but it turns out to be the beginning of a shawl.  Or shawlette.  It's one of those very adaptable patterns to the amount of yarn you have.  Or  to when you get sick of knitting the increasing number of stitches.  Sorry, little shawl, but you are also going to the frog pond.  I can't remember what I saw in you.  Adios!  Now I just have to finish my Twinset & Pearls cardi before midnight on Monday.  That I can do.  The Purple Rain socks are finished.

Knitters who lunch are very different.  Yesterday, my friend Helen and I met for lunch with a bit of an agenda.  We chose a nice comfy location - an upscale pub with lots of light and good chairs - where the food was good.  She had brought me a challenge.  A thrift store sweater with an intriguing rib design.  I'd tried to get it from a photo (above) but had no success.  Eventually, she will frog it and repurpose the lovely green yarn. 

I think it was kind of wading around in my brain because it came very easily once I had the sweater in my hands.  It's a kind of travelling rib which is obviously cabled somehow.   But the back always looks like a plain 2x2 rib.  That's the part I couldn't quite make happen. 

This is the  wrong side of the ribbing which is done in the round.  It could be done flat as I was trying to do at first but it means cabling on the reverse which is not as easy.  This morning I sat down and worked it on a circular so I could write it up.  It fairly flew through my fingers.  The cable is a simple two-stitch twist which is easily accomplished without a cable needle.  As I knit, I kept visioning a ribby toque in bulky yarn made just a little fancier.  It could even be reversible! That's for the new year, though.

The pattern is quite simple  and easily memorized.  Once you see how the stitches and cables relate to each other:  in each K2 pair the first leg remains straight while the second moves to the left across the P2.   Here's the pattern if anyone wants to try it out:

C1L =  slip next K stitch onto cable needle and bring forward; purl next stitch, K held stitch

Cast on a multiple of 4 stitches .

Rounds 1 and 2:     K2, P2  around.
Round 3:  ( K1, C1L, P1)  Repeat around
Round 4: (K1, P1, C1L)  Repeat around
Round 5: K1, (P2, K2) to last stitch, K1
Round 6: (C1L, K1, P1) to end
Round 7: (P1, C1L, K1) to end
Round 8: P2, K2 to last stitch before marker
Round 9: Slip stitch before marker to right needle, remover marker; return stitch to left needle and C1L with next two stitches, replacing marker between cabled stitches. (P1, K1, C1L) to end
Round 10:  same as Round 6
Round 11: P1, (K2, P2) to last stitch, P1

Continue ribbing in this way until desired length is achieved.  

Let me know if you see any errors.  I've only worked through it twice. 


Friday, December 28, 2012

Fifty Fridays #21

Since this is a time of looking back, I thought I'd go into the way-back and bring out an older photo.

This is my mother's mother and her mother.  So, my gran and my great-gran.  My mother looked very much like hers, don't you agree?  I really don't know who the child in the middle is.  My grandmother had a lot of siblings so there were always lots of cousins.  But having the child in such a formal portrait makes me wonder who she really was.  Maybe a cousin who was a permanent addition to the family?  These things did happen quite often then.

I see that I have given Mr Blair some publicity.  I have no doubt the photographer was a man.  I think the photo looks better for having the cardboard holder. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bird food

In the winter, we leave food out for the birds.  nature does a pretty good job, too. 

This is one of the finches who came to our neighbor's rose bushes this afternoon.  A little soft-focus but this was with my zoom and through a window so I didn't frighten them away.  Finches are very nervous feeders.  The slightest movement can  send them flying off. I love how his beak is full of rose hip pulp.  And he seems to be looking at me. Maybe.

There are a couple of bird feeders and there is a full suet basket hung up after the bears go to to their dens.  The bush tits always have big family dinners here. 

I had a surprise today, though.  The suet basket has been ripped down from the eaves.  It isn't on the ground so I figure the critter took it somewhere to figure out how to get the tasty cake out of the basket.  It could be a raccoon.  It could also be a bear.  They should all be sleeping now but apparently they aren't.  Big headline today in our local newspaper said that since they still find food easily - especially on garbage day - a few have remained to share our Christmas feasts. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Wonders - X

X is for Xmas.  The timing for this letter is perfect.  I don't really see this abbreviated version of Christmas around as much as I used to.  Perhaps it has fallen out of favor?  I know I'm not a fan.  However, it works for this post.

Here is Christmas.  In two big containers.  It seems somewhat unassuming - and out of focus, sorry - to be the source of so much remembered joy and some sadness, too.  Much like the origin of Christmas itself.

As I open the boxes, out of the wrapping paper comes the Nativity creches.  We used to have more but they have been shared with our kids or given away.

The little Christmas tree is heavy with a burden of ornaments too numerous - and some too large - for its tiny branches.  But, no matter...I want to have them on the tree.

My Santa collection hasn't grown for some years but it hasn't really shrunk, either.  Each Santa is carefully placed on the shelf.    I can tell you where each one came from.  Some were gifts; some were purchased on holidays.  Each one is a memory. 

The only Christmas baking to be done around here is in the porcelain village bakery.  It's time to turn the baking duties over to the younger generation.  I'm not complaining.  Not at all. 

In the growing darkness of this shortened December day, the fishmonger's shop and the pottery glow like beacons.  I wish all my blogging friends  a bright and warm Christmas holiday! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday Stash

This is sort of an un-stash Saturday since both the yarns featured today are new. 

I have finished the shawl.  Oh, it is beautiful. The long edge is over 6 feet and it's about 18 inches at the wide edge of the wedge.  For me it will be more scarf than shawl and is very flexible.  A big cowly type of scarf for keeping the neck warm.  Or it can fit over my head like a kerchief with lots to still go around my neck.  And since it's so long and tapered,  there are many ways to wind it around.  The alpaca/silk is so soft and very warm.  I'm a happy knitter. The photos are not great today.  Outside is not the easiest place to take photos today and I needed the extra light.  So colors are a little muted from reality.

I am half finished my Purple Rain socks.  These are just an easy slip-stitch design.  I was too lazy to use an actual pattern and was just going to make plain socks since the yarn was fancy.  But I really needed to break up the pooling effect of this yarn and the easiest way is with a slip stitch.  So, we have raindrops.  Actually they're pretty steady rain, aren't they?  But way better than snowflakes in my weather world. 

My current knitting goal is to have no UFO's to start 2013.  That means finishing the short-sleeved pink cardi that I started in the summer.  There's another purple sock to make.  And there are two scarves started which will be for donation.  Piece o'cake, right?   Come on back next Saturday to see if I met the goal. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fifty Fridays #20

Since it's so close to Christmas, I've tried to find some Christmas photos to share.  You'd think there'd be lots but I had difficulty finding any.  But what I lack in quantity, I have definitely made up for in quality.  Today I have two and they are sort of linked.

This is my mother and I wish I could say more about when and where.  That's the problem with so many old photographs.  I think that Mom is probably in her late teens but it's hard to know.  I am assuming that she is at home and that the older woman is her step-mother but, again,  I am not certain.  It could be my Great-Aunt Myrtle.  Mostly, I am intrigued by the details: the tree decorations, the furniture and the gift!  Oh, my.  That must have been a most wonderful gift: a wind-up phonograph record player.  I can imagine that my mother was over the moon.  She did love music. 

This is a bit later in my mother's life.  About 40 years later.  She's holding a quilt that I made her that year.  It has an appliqued 'print' of each family member's hand.  It was made in colors that my mother loved.  And the fabric print - a tiny flower calico - is very dated to the time the quilt was made...about 1980.  I remember all the intrigue and, sometimes, the hassle,  of trying to get the tracings of those hands without Mom knowing I was doing it.  Some were traced and mailed to me.  I can remember that  she was so touched by our efforts.  And, today, it has added meaning as several of the 'hands' are no longer with us - including the hands holding the quilt.

What strikes me most about these two photos is how little my mother changed over those years. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow days

We've had snow!  Now for some folks this wuld be a great thing.  For me...not so much.  It is pretty, though.

This is what the birds found on Tuesday morning.  I was planning a drive across the city and the sun came out the way I hoped, the roads were clear and off I went.  No drama at all.

But the next day it snowed, too.  In fact it snowed all through the night so this is what I woke up to - and more.  I actually like waking up to the sound of silence that snow brings.  Early in the morning, nothing - except maybe a snow plow - goes down the road.  The flakes make little kissing noises when they hit something hard outside the window.  It's quite lovely until I remember what I have to do during the day.

This was the day to drive out to the airport.  Across town again.  The weather report said it would turn to rain by noon.  OK.  Except that it didn't.  The snow kept coming down.  In my wisdom, I thought that living up close to the mountains, we would have worse driving conditions than the city streets which were lower down.  How wrong could I be?  Plenty wrong as it turned out. 

I'm sure everyone knows that we West Coasters don't get a lot of driving in snow.  And even those who have practice from other snowy places, quickly realize that our snow is different.  Wet and slippery.  Very slippery.  Put that together with the fact that many Vancouverites have never driven in snow at all...many have cars that  aren't prepared for this weather.  Often the very same people.  And that's why I usually park the car when it snows.

But yesterday, I was going to the Christmas concert at my grandkids school which was another drive across town.  And Anne had a plane to catch - airport in more or less same location.  After a few harrowing moments on what seemed like the longest drive ever, I dropped her off and went to enjoy the concert.  It was lovely as all kids performances are.  Charlie and his choir sang their piece with great expression and energy -  grade 1's can do energy.  And Becky made a very  good entrance as the Star leading the Magi.  They'd have to have been blind not to have seen such a beautiful and shining star before them.  And when it was all over, school was dismissed and there was a field of fresh snow for all the happy kids to run through.

I was feeling pretty good at how it had all worked out until we got back to the house where Anne was waiting.  Flight was cancelled.  Rebooked to this morning.  Right.  Up at 5am and drive, drive, drive to the airport in the black morning.  The rain, which finally came overnight,  had cleared the streets beautifully.  This was a much speedier commute - only 40 minutes.   Check in, sit and wait.  This time, I stayed.  I had time to do about three inches of my sock when all the passengers were called over.  Sorry this flight's cancelled, too.  No way are they flying into Trail today - or even tomorrow. 

Time to rethink the plans.  Bus schedules are being looked at.  We are expecting more snow tomorrow which means that by the time the storm is done over the Kootenays, another will be on its way.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Who knows.

Good thing I like to drive.  And I'm glad I'm staying home this Christmas. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Wonders - W

W is for Winter.

Only a few days until winter is officially here.  The maple tree is playing its part to perfection.  Just one dry brown leaf left snuggled up against that big branch right in the center of the tree.  A little of the wind that we've been promised this week and even that one one will be gone. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Stash

The huge Christmas lunch for the seniors has been cooked, served and - almost - all cleaned up.  The newsletter has been printed and sent out.  Just breathe...and knit.

My little sweater turned out so darned cute.  I love it.  The Fair Isle didn't make me too crazy - mainly 'cuz I've really got that left-handed knitting down now.

And, since I was on a stranded knitting roll, I thought I'd tackle this wee hat - it reminds me of ice cream.  When it's sitting on the shelf it looks like a merry-go-round.  And I still have yarn enough left to make another. Next year.

This is my birthday present to myself.  Two colors of baby alpaca/silk blend in a cool pattern:  Thin Edge of the Wedge by Shui Kuen Kozinski.  Yummy colors and a cushy texture with the garter stitch.  This yarn makes such a wonderful drape especially when knit on the bias like this.  I have used up half the yarn and the shawl grows one stitch every four rows for an asymetrical triangular shape.  The color change technique is different with the stitches sliding across to the other side of the circular needle every other row.  Interesting and pretty easy after the first couple of repeats. 

That's the knitting report for this week.  Things are quieter now and next week will be all about me.  Mostly. I will be visiting everyone I've neglected this weekend.  I've missed you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fifty Fridays #19

Yesterday when I was at the Community Center, there were dozens of gingerbread houses getting ready for the kids to decorate them.  That inspired me.

This is my younger son and his cousins decorating houses before Christmas - probably around 1990.  We did this together for two or three years. The first year, I actually baked the house pieces myself.  After that adventure, I decided it was so much easier to buy the house kits.  It's super hard to get those walls and roof pieces even and straight so that they fit together properly.  I really wasn't meant to be a carpenter!

decorating the houses became a thing to do when school was finished and I needed an activity. Like all good cooks, they needed to do a lot of tasting while they created.  I'm sure my sister was delighted to get her sugar-amped girls back at the end of the day. 

This weekend Christmas can start in this house.  All the outside busy will be ended today. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday wonders - V

V is for Violin.

The Fiddle Player by Andrew Krieger

I have been told that music lovers divide into two camps: violin or piano.  Strings or percussion.  I don't always believe everything I'm told.   I love the violin.  Its voice has the amazing ability to take on any emotion.  I can travel on the wings of violin music to almost any corner of the world. But I also love piano music. And I love winds.  And brass.  And bagpipes. 

My father could play what he called the 'fiddle'.   I think one of my nieces has that old violin now.  Oddly, I never, ever heard him play.  The violin only appeared after I had grown up and I'm sure he was pretty rusty so never took it out while I was around.

 Or maybe there was another reason?  Families and their relationships are always at work in every story.  My father's relationship with his father wasn't always the best as frequently happens with fathers and sons.  I have a memory of issues around this instrument when he was a boy.  But, as usual, I don't have the whole story and never will. 

Funny what one letter can bring up. 

* The painting was borrowed from this blog.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Stash

Thank you for the birthday wishes.  One of my gifts is definitely stash-related.  I got a phone with headset so I can talk and knit at the same time.  Yay! 

Last week was a bit of a disaster knitting-wise.  I am still working on the yarn that was given to me a couple of weeks ago and I thought I was making great progress with the almost full ball of this beautiful lavender yarn.  I was knitting up a sweet little poncho (pattern here)  and had to start knitting faster and faster because the yarn was running out.  Usually that works but not this time.   I couldn't even fake an ending.  So, I just pulled it all out and I will re-knit it in a smaller size.  That should take care of the yarn quantity issue. 

Then I picked myself up, dusted myself off and began another little sweater with the second ball of white.  Oh, you didn't think I was going to get right at the down-sized poncho, did you?  A bit of distance is needed.  Can you see that this is another Fair Isle project?  I am such a glutton for punishment.  I liked the textures and the bit of color work seemed minor.  And there were  cables in the yoke - love those cables.  Oh, and it's seamless, too.  I won't say it's easy but it is small which goes on the good side of the difficulty ledger. 

I think I have a couple of pairs of socks to knit before Christmas so I will have to shut down the stash knitting in the next week.  I think.  Stay tuned. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fifty Fridays #18

First up...thank you to all who helped with good advice on the photo storage.  I eventually decided to just pay .  As I said it wasn't the cost, it was the method of payment.  But, as my older - and wiser than I - son pointed out: "Google already knows everything about you".  That did it.  I had to admit I was being silly and just get on with the show.  I've since updated my T post from last Sunday with some photos.

So, here I am with a shiny new drawer in the photo file ready to be filled up.  What better occasion to do that than on my birthday.

In honor of the day, I'm bringing out this old photo.  I'm not sure that this is taken exactly on my birthday although it certainly could be.  It is clearly winter in Vancouver.  The winters were slightly colder back then so more snow than now.  And more consistent snow, too. But a lovely sunny day it was and perfect for taking pictures.  No flash bulbs and it would have been too dark in the house.

I would have been three years old that winter.  This photo makes me smile because of the slippers - which I don't remember.  And my brother's toy train engine would fetch a lot of interest on the collectible toy market, I think.   I wonder if the little stuffed dog was a birthday gift?  My mother would have taken a photo to send back East to the families there.

Today it's so easy to click off a photo on our phones. Or take a lot of photos on our digital cameras and never worry about how many we take just to get that perfect one.  Flashes are built-in to everything so we don't have to trek the kids out to the front step for the best light.  Then with another click or two, we can share them with anyone we choose no matter how far away they might be. And they see them instantly.   No taking the films in and waiting for what seemed like forever for those pictures to come back.    If I want a print - not a very common occurrence - I can easily do that online and pick them up the same day.  Then my mother would have had to wait for the prints and then reorder a quantity of whatever looked the best and mail them off with a letter or card.  

Yes, birthday snaps have really changed in those sixty-plus years. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Wonders - T & U

T is for Trees...

Christmas trees.  Yesterday, I spent some time helping to get our local town square decorated for Christmas.  Last year was the first time we had this event locally - it's been around for a long time in other places - and it was so much fun we decided to do it again.

It is a community fundraiser.  Each merchant or organization pays to have a tree to decorate.  That's step one.  Next volunteers turn out to set the scene.  Trucking in concrete stand and naked trees.  Step three is for more volunteers to turn up with tote bins full of lights and weather-proof ornaments and garlands that reflect each business or organization.

So, now it becomes a marketing exercise as well.  Our seniors' tree has objects which represent the various activities that our organization provides for seniors in the community.  There is a yellow school bus for our many bus trips; several running shoes for the walking groups.  Yin/yang for the tai chi classes and little plastic instruments for our musical drop in sessions.  Happy Fisher-Price people show off the fun and friendships that are developed.  And there seems to be a fair amount of food items on the tree, too.  We have  several food programs.

Sometimes, there is an added donation element where passersby can vote for their favorite tree.  The ballots 'cost' you a donation.  Whether it's money or an item for the food bank someone in the community will benefit from that vote.    All worthy causes.

And U is for Umbrella.  Yesterday was a two-umbrella day and we didn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain. Instead we wound around the tree with our light strings and climbed ladders while getting thoroughly soaked.  I always think we have more fun when conditions are less than perfect.   So, the tree is up and we think it looks wonderful.  And definitely worth your vote!

Sorry there are no photos today.  I have met Picasa's paywall again and need to decide what to do.  Deleting photos to make space is not a real option any more.  And I'm not objecting to paying...well maybe a little...but me being me, I'm not comfortable with the idea of that Google wallet...any Picasa users out there with positive experiences? While I have no choices here, I'd like to have some reassurance.  I need love to have photos - today's tree shots to come just as soon as I resolve this. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Stash

I have only finished objects today.  That doesn't mean that there are not a bunch of unfinished bits and pieces off stage.  Oh, yes.  They are there.  It's amazing how loud yarn can be.  But I'm deaf to it right now.  Soon I must get a triage system going.

The red socks are done.  And have been worn.  Just being red makes them lovely and warm on a gray, rainy day.  But no photo since I forgot in my rush to wear them.  And now they are buried at the bottom of the laundry basket.  So not today.

I do have the white cardi finished, too.  I was really excited about the idea of bobbles inside the Fair Isle diamonds.  Now, not so much.  I don't seem to have the knack of keeping the bobbles white.  They look like Snoopy noses or black-eyed peas. When I made a white bobble over purple yarn, the result was a tiny purl bump that won't go away.  Makes me not love the sweater - just a little bit.  It's still nice and would be really pretty if I got it right.  Must be a trick. 

And these super-cute baby slippers.  Easy, easy design by Calista Yoo.  Really good for remnants of worsted. 

I'm out trimming the Christmas tree with the seniors this afternoon.  All part of a community fund-raiser which will have over seventy trees in the town square.  Should be fun - and beautiful when the lights  are lit up tomorrow night. 


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