Saturday, March 21, 2020


Ironic: happening the way opposite to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this.

We are having an early and warm spring -- for Ontario. Rarely have I experienced such glorious weather. We are also in the midst of a pandemic, and the truth is that some of us may not see the other side of it. Some of us are cut off by borders and travel restrictions from loved ones, and even if we were not, it is the nature of this disease that death is inevitably lonely. How are you coping?
I notice that Ravelry activity is shockingly sparse, surely a sign that life has been upended. In my own neighbourhood, where a major university has been shut down, life is eerily quiet, with joggers and dog walkers the only ones on the streets. I notice that, like me, many homeowners have been doing quite a bit of spring cleanup and yardwork as a way of getting outdoors to enjoy the sunshine.

The City is allowing us to put out more than the usual one bag of waste, so I'm pruning and using my compost allotment for the clippings, mostly sedum and hydrangea dried out flower heads and stems.
I've made a good start on preparing Willingdon for publication, but have postponed any test knits (beyond my own) until a future date.

If you're looking for some good sources of at-home exercise routines, this one and this are useful, especially if you're on the mature side. If you prefer Brit TV as opposed to Netflix (too many documentaries based on conspiracy theories among other things), AcornTV is available in Canada with a free one-month trial. And finally, here is a favourite pantry recipe, a throwback to my childhood.

Salmon and Peas on Toast

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c milk
1 c water
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tin (398 ml) of salt-free peas
2 tins (213g each) of wild Pacific sockeye salmon, drained
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
toast slices

Saute the onion in oil over medium/low heat until soft. Take your time to do this so the onion is golden and sweet. Stir in flour and cook for a minute. Transfer to a double boiler, and whisk in milk, water, and mustard, and stir contantly until the sauce thickens. Add the salmon, breaking it up gently with a fork; leave some good-sized chunks. Add peas, salt, and pepper. 
Serve over toast. Also good over pasta.
Note: when we lived in Washington, DC I had difficulty getting inexpensive high quality tinned fish (tuna, sardines, salmon, herring, etc). Here in Canada these are available fortunately in good supply.

Stay home, stay safe, save lives.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hedgewood Released!

Hedgewood has gone live on Ravelry. Thanks, testers. The link to the free download is here.

Sunday, February 23, 2020


Did you see the article about "temperature scarves" in today's New York Times? That photo of the shelves of yarn cakes sure got my attention. It must have caught the attention of a lot of other knitters too, because when I visited the page for The Yarnery's "Weather or Knot" kits, there was a warning about the backlog of orders.

The idea behind these is that each colour represents a temperature range. You knit one row per day for a year (would that produce enough length?), illustrating the weather fluctuations where you live.
What is apparent this year is that we are having a pleasantly mild winter. Really, we deserve this after what we've endured the last few years with the polar vortex! The lake only froze in January and the ice is pretty thin, with signs of imminent breakup.

But what made my day was this.

It's been acknowledged that Canada could end up being a huge climate winner in a warming planet, with more land available to grow crops (maybe). And if it also means snowdrops sprouting in February, it won't be all bad.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

May I Suggest...

OK, here we are in February in a year when our winter is pleasantly mild, walking outside is actually enjoyable, and unless you're desperate to skate on Lake Ontario winter is fun again. Now that the "dead of winter" is past (you know, the day that statistically marks the coldest day of the season), you might be looking ahead to Valentine's Day and a little Valentine's Day knitting. So, may I suggest Bellevue Mitts?

I spun and designed these last year at this time and they've been pretty popular on Ravelry.

Bellevue House, down the street from us, has been under renovation since last summer, but looks as though it will be open to the public again by spring. Here it is as it looked last year.

Are you counting down the days to spring?

Thursday, January 30, 2020


There was a time when I used metal buttons more frequently. Now I try to use other natural materials (horn, shell, wood, etc). Here are the wooden buttons on Willingdon, from an old stash of Missions Falls buttons. Boy, were those fantastic! There was always a Missions Falls button for whatever you were working on. Mags Kandis, the founder of the now-defunct Mission Falls, lives in nearby Prince Edward County, and last summer when I asked her where she sourced the buttons, she said (unhelpfully), "Oh, everywhere".

Here's one of the major problems with metal. See the tarnish, not just on the buttons, but on the wool?

So, this morning I cleaned the buttons and then rubbed all the stains with Sunlight bar soap (love that lemon scent!) and then soaked the sweater for a long time. I think I've cleaned everything up, but I need to see the sweater dry before I'll know for sure. If not, I'm pretty confident a second treatment will do the trick. This is how this sweater should look:

Since I was in the mood, I also pulled out my Glenora, one sleeve of which is on the verge of developing a hole.

Some of the strands of wool have worn critically thin. This is just about my last chance to repair with duplicate stitch as opposed to a full darn job. I'm onto it.
Finally, I thought I might as well finish up my "housekeeping" by cleaning and oiling my sewing machine. There are some super videos on YouTube on how you can do this on your own and save the money you would otherwise spend paying to have it done. Here's the frightening look under the plate that houses the bobbin. Avert your eyes if you're sensitive to grunge!

 I'm happy to say that all is cleaned up and oiled, and the machine is humming away like new.  I feel so virtuous!

Monday, January 27, 2020

So Lazy

I'm a lazy knitter. Not sloppy lazy; I do insist on neat details. My laziness is more about efficiency. I want to get a lot for my efforts. That's why I love the Waving Rib stitch pattern found on page 15 of Barbara Walker's classic, "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns", Schoolhouse Press, 1998 edition. The photos may be in slightly grainy black and white, but this is the book designers come back to again and again for inspiration. And it's not just the row-by-row instructions, which unhappily are not charted. It's the little narratives accompanying them, indicating how the patterns evolved, how they're related, whether they're reversible, and what they're good for.
All of which brings me to Willingdon, the cardigan pattern I'm writing up this week.

The Waving Rib (which, incidentally I used in my Cataraqui Socks) happens to be reversible (see the basketweave wrong side in the first photo), but what I really love about it is how it produces a sophisticated texture for so little effort. There are really only two rows, each repeated four times, and that's it. Easy to memorize, soothing to knit, and lovely to look at. So much bang for my knitting buck!

Thursday, January 16, 2020


An aran knit in cream-coloured wool is so classic. That's why I've opted to do my test knit in this:

Don't worry, there's a fourth (and I think a fifth) skein hanging out in my stash, so no anxiety in that department. Getting the right "cream" is the most important thing for me. I don't look good in anything with a yellow undertone. It's probably the grey hair. This wool, Cascade 220 in #8010, "natural", fits the bill. See you later after my appointment with my swift and wool winder.