Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Essence of Spring

Drove up to Westport and Perth today. About 64 F inland but only about 54 F at our place within sight of the lake. Couldn't be a more perfect spring day, and what more than this says freshness--

laundry blowing in the breeze with budding trees and the Tay River in the background. Ahh!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sucked into the Vortex

OK, so I got sucked into the swirling vortex that was the royal wedding this morning. I wasn't going to get up early to watch it, although I had considered having a passing glance once on the computer. I'd watched Charles and Diana's wedding, ditto (am I dating myself with that word?) for Andrew and Fergie's. I'm not a fan of blowout weddings. Then, I woke up just before 6:00 a.m. and it happened--I couldn't seem to help myself and, yes, it was glorious. I'm still not a fan of blowout weddings, but I'm prepared to make an exception for genuine royalty.
The choir's singing of  Elgar's "Jerusalem" was especially moving, bringing back memories of watching "Chariots of Fire" and my own son's time as a chorister at Washington National Cathedral (where he once sang at a Carnegie/Rockefeller wedding complete with dogwood trees down the length of the nave, just like at Westminster Abbey this morning).
Back to reality. Our cold spring continues, unenhanced by blooming trees or even leaves. Really, I can't remember when the season was so late in arriving! I decided to do my bit to move things forward and bought and planted some pansies in our window boxes.


Expect to finish the "Chocolat" jacket tonight.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Faux Ocean

Massive storm today with 100 km/hr winds.We lost power for the early part of the afternoon, so I knitted and listened to an audiobook on my new toy, an iPod Touch. I tried not to think about how much I wanted a nice cup of tea. By 3:00 the power was back on. I heard from someone on the radio that the Wolfe Island ferry crossing was taking 10 minutes longer than usual and that passengers were feeling seasick. Around 4:00, Isabel and I fought our way through the wind down to the shore to see the waves.

On the way back through the park, we stopped to take a look at the "big bike" being used for fund-raising this week by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Crazy fun, especially in the gale.

Bill is picking up James and his things in Toronto this afternoon. They'll be home tonight. Yay!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Calm after the Storm

Had a huge windstorm this morning. Enormous waves and surf crashing on rocks down by the lake. Walked to the butcher shop for some stewing beef and bacon, then picked up some tea and other goodies at Cooke's. Then, stupidly, drove to the Loblaws Superstore and battled the crowds in the parking lot and grocery aisles in a bit of a personal storm. Made it home eventually and settled down to work on my sleeve.
Yesterday I made four, maybe five, separate attempts to get the top of the sleeve just right. It's right at shoulder level, so it needs to be very tidy. Finally, I worked out just how to do it, and today I'm sailing down. Had to figure out how to do a purled central decrease. Instructions are here.

Work in progress here.

By mid-afternoon, the wind had gone, the sun was out, and I ventured out for a stroll. Lots of parents with their university-student offspring out enjoying the day at Confederation Basin, opposite City Hall.

Discovered that the ice cream store had re-opened after the winter,

found some forget-me-nots basking in the late afternoon sunshine,

and couldn't resist taking a photo of these beautiful pebbles in my neighbour's driveway.

Happy Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011


It's Good Friday and just about everything is closed. However, it's sunny, if somewhat cold, and that makes a big difference in this season of non-spring. I've just spent the morning frogging a collar and re-doing it. Now, I'm going to write up the changes I made before I forget what I did. It's the details, especially the finishing details that make a piece of knitting beautiful. Some people are surprised when I talk about "finishing" a seamless garment, but that's only because they've always been so focused on the sewing aspect.

Finishing means lots of other things, such as casting off (many ways of doing this), picking up stitches for edgings, weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, blocking (I always wet-block), etc. I usually start to "finish" well before I get to the end of the knitting. 

Now, time to get going on the sleeves. I only hope my yarn doesn't run out!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I Like

While I was organizing some under-bed storage today, I had a bunch of my sweaters and other knitted stuff out on the bed. Looking at everything, it wasn't difficult to see what I like. Neutral colours, especially undyed wools, and texture. It's all here.

Oh sure, now and then I just have to get some colourwork in, but this is always what I come back to.

 Now, back to the organizing.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Bill and I set off this morning to Ballycanoe and Co. near Mallorytown, Ontario. They specialize in architectural salvage, mostly from nineteenth century eastern Ontario. I was on the hunt for something to use as a bench/platform for potted plants. I want to have a potted plant garden on my back deck and I want at least two levels of plants. The idea is to have plants cascading over each other, creating a feeling of lushness. Right now all there is is a feeling of barrenness.
So, we drove off into the hinterland and, just when we thought we were in the middle of nowhere, there it was. The morning was colder than it looked and Bill hadn't had any breakfast (I rushed him out the door), so he sat in the car while I rummaged around in the workshop and huge three-level barn built into a hill. Unfortunately, I forgot to take the camera, so sorry, no photos. Eventually, I emerged with a long weathered board and two sap buckets. Total: $20. Here they are, all set up and ready for some warm weather and potted plants.

Recycling at its best!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The milk chocolate piece of knitting that I'm working on seems to be taking forever to finish, even though it looks as though I've knitted acres and acres of it.


It's true, double moss stitch is a relatively slow stitch to work, but this is starting to get tedious.

When I'm knitting something that doesn't take much attention, I need distraction. I'm not a TV person. I've listened to all the audiobooks available at my library, and now I'm left with the radio. CBC, mostly, although occasionally I twiddle with the dial and manage to pick up NPR. Some evenings I watch Netflix, but here in Canada, the Netflix library is pathetically limited. Any suggestions? What do you like to do while you knit?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

It's tax time. I sent all our tax "stuff" off to our accountants a couple of weeks ago, except for one T3 slip which hadn't arrived. We've been having difficulty getting it sent to our new address, but finally, it came today. I faxed a copy to our accountants, addressed an envelope so I could send the original, and then somehow SHREDDED IT. It wasn't even in the house for an hour and I managed to destroy it! Don't ask how stupid I feel.
I'm consoling myself by making some Blomidon Inn bread. Five years ago we stayed at the Blomidon in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, while visiting Acadia University. In fact, Bill spent a year teaching at Acadia early on in his career. He has fond memories of Wolfville and the Annapolis Valley. I have fond memories of our stay at the Blomidon. First, because they served us a really wonderful breakfast and offered me a copy of the recipe for their bread and second, because I managed to squeeze in a visit to Gaspereau Valley Fibres, a cross between a Rowan studio and a sheep farm. Wow! Even Bill seemed to want to linger.
In case anyone wants an easy, yummy bread recipe, here's my adaptation of the Blomidon's breakfast oatmeal molasses bread.

1/2 c. oats (I use large flake)
1/4 c. cornmeal
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. molasses
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. hot water
2 tbsp. canola oil
4 c. unbleached flour (more or less)

Mix together all of the above except the flour and let cool to lukewarm.
Meanwhile, add 1/2 c. warm water to 1 1/2 tbsp. dry yeast and 3/4 tsp. sugar. Let the yeast soften until slightly foamy.
Add the yeast mixture to the molasses mixture and add enough flour to make a dough that is not sticky, but not dry either. Knead until elastic.
Shape into 2 loaves and put to rise in pans prepared with non-stick spray. Give the loaves a quick spray too, to prevent them from drying out. Leave to rise for about 1 hour and 15 min. Bake at 350 degrees F. or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped--about 30 min.

Amherst Shore Country Inn

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April Showers Bring...

On my way home from the grocery store this afternoon, I encountered this little message on the sidewalk.

Not quite true. Actually, April showers bring APRIL flowers--forget-me-nots to be precise. These were growing in the lawn of the sidewalk artist.

The May flowers, yet to come, are down the street.

Rock garden on the corner of William and Sydenham Streets
My own garden efforts so far this year have extended to talks with a local garden designer (Liz, wife of Bob the music arranger), and the hiring of Ed Kennedy to remove leftover stumps and roots.

Thanks Ed. Now we're ready for the fun stuff!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Road Trip!

Got up early, hopped in the car, picked up a cup of tea from Tim Horton's and headed north to Ottawa. By late morning, it was warm for early April; my car's dashboard told me it was 60 degrees F. (about 16 C) in Ottawa. At this time of year it starts to be warmer inland, away from Lake Ontario. Good in April, not so good in July.
After a visit to Wool Tyme, I grabbed a sunflower pate sandwich from Bridgehead, and scurried off to meet up with Deb Gemmell of Cabin Fever for lunch. Deb's in Ottawa this weekend, teaching and speaking to the Ottawa Knitting Guild. She only had an hour, so we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine.

Deb enjoying sunshine and sushi
 After lunch, I headed back to Kingston via Perth and Westport. At Janie H. Knits, I couldn't resist this. (It's going to be a summer version of the Perth Cardi, with three-quarter length sleeves.)

Louet's MerLin, a merino and linen blend in a lustrous bluish grey

The Tay River next to Janie's was in full flood.

Waterfall just below the mill to the right
I stopped in Westport for a coffee and a buttertart (my usual) and stood on the bridge down by the boatslips, amazed that there was still some residual ice left in the lake.

In fact, I must have passed more than a dozen lakes on my drive and most of them had some ice. I guess the water in these inland lakes doesn't move as much as the water in Lake Ontario, where the ice has been gone for some time. 

Don't know why this huge Virginia Creeper vine on the way up the hill from the waterfront captivated me, but it did.

 Arrived back in Kingston at about 5:30. Lovely day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Perth Cardi Now Available

My new pattern for the Perth Cardi is now available as a Ravelry download. I'm thinking of knitting a three-quarter length sleeve version in a cotton/linen blend for the warmer weather ahead. Just click on the photo in the sidebar for the pattern link. I'm off to Ottawa tomorrow for the day. Have a great spring weekend!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

And the Award Goes to....

I think there should be a new category added to the Academy Awards---best knitting. Think of all the movies you've seen with great knitted stuff. Admittedly, these are mostly Brit movies. Last night I watched an oldie but goodie, The Riddle of the Sands, based on the classic early espionage book by Erskine Childers. This beautifully made 1979 film stars Simon MacCorkindale and Michael York alongside Jenny Agutter. It's set in 1903 in the Frisian Islands and features some of the best men's knits I've ever seen, especially fairisles and guernseys. Yes, I paused the picture several times to get a good look. Lovely evocative music, great sweaters, a perfect accompaniment to an evening of knitting.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Definitely the Bestest

Buttonholes are an issue for a lot of knitters. They can be sloppy and ugly, and on top of that you have to decide whether to make them as part of the body of a garment or as part of the border, and you still have to decide whether to buy the buttons before or after making the buttonholes. And then you have to get them in just the right place, which can be quite an issue if you've shortened or lengthened the pattern. My favourite way of getting around all of this is to make crochet button loops once a cardigan or jacket is completed. This is what I did for Wakefield.

But, sometimes you just have to make a buttonhole in the body of a sweater and, if it's not a baby sweater and you can't get away with a simple k2tog, YO, then you need a really good method of making a beautiful buttonhole. This is one of those times. I'm making a jacket with no borders and there's no getting around the fact that I absolutely must make some buttonholes in the body as I work my way from the bottom up.
So, after some research and some experiments, this is it.

From Debbie Stoller's Superstar Knitting, although she credits Maggie Righetti with the technique. The detailed instructions are too long to include in this post. But trust me, it's definitely, the bestest.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


I'm a detail person. I don't think I get caught up in details to the detriment of the big picture, but I like it when attention is paid to the little things. Like this.

View through the glass of our bedroom window of the wall next door
Details count for a lot in knitting. It matters to me that cables on the right half of a sweater are mirrored on the left half, that little motifs are echoed, and that the coming together of body and sleeves at the underarm flows together tidily.

View of underarm of Wakefield jacket
Cuff of Wakefield jacket
 In my new "Perth Cardi" (yes, that's the name I've chosen), one of the details is a centred double decrease down the underside of the sleeves.

But, although I've been doing this type of decrease for years, I realized that I didn't know the standard abbreviation for it (or even if there was a standard abbreviation). Thank goodness for the internet. Honestly, how did we cope before? A bit of quick research and this is what I found--"cdd". A centred double decrease means to slip 2tog, k1, pass the slipped stitches over (together). Here's a great video of it.
 I also found out that CDD stands for Canadians for Direct Democracy, the scientific journal "Cell Death and Differentiation", and Capability Development Document, a document used by the U.S. military when making decisions about equipment. Who knew?