Thursday, September 03, 2015

It's been hot

I haven't shown you the temperature scarf for a while, but I have been diligently recording the highs and lows since last December 21.

June 21st I started spiralling around, knitting the summer on to the winter. 

That must be February, all darkest blue, next to the orange and red of July and August.

Soon it will be September 21, the beginning of fall and, I hope, a return to milder greens. 

First I ran out of the -3ºC to +3º green, and the new skein I bought was brighter. Just recently I had to buy a new orange, 16-20ºC. The new skein was more peachy! With Koigu, it seems, you certainly can't be sure of ever getting the same dye lot again, and you often can't even get the same colour! The next one that looks like it will need replacing is the darker/warmer orange variegated.

In other news, Arthur has gone off to university! We await updates, but he's apparently having too much fun to keep us in the loop.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Finally a Finished Object

I made a cowl.

A friend gave me about 500 grams of enormous alpaca yarn. It's like pencil roving, but held together with a tiny thread wrapped around it all. I used my one 25 mm needle, and my one 19 mm needle. I think that somewhere I have two 15s, but that might have been too tight.

Arthur is off to university in Ottawa, and found himself a nice warm down jacket, but without a hood. I just had to wrap him in alpaca warm snuggliness! 

He can even pull it up over his head, if he forgets his hat. 

Really, he loves it
Now we are off for one more week of family holiday before we take him to his new residence. 


Friday, July 31, 2015

A few pictures

We were away for three weeks, in four distinct places, plus driving in between a couple. I'll just show you a few highlights.

When we first arrived in the Interior of BC, there were forest fires all over the place. This is as we left the Okanagan Valley heading sort of east and south. Everything was hazy and we were all hoping for rain the whole trip.

We stopped in Castlegar and saw lots of family, then to Victoria where we saw family and a museum and beaches and water and trees, but somehow I didn't take many pictures. The big event in Castlegar of relevance for a knitting blog was when I managed to slam the door of the car on my right index finger. Hmm, maybe that affected not only my knitting but also my desire and ability to press a shutter button.

Our last week was spent in a cottage at Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. On the drive there from Victoria, we stopped at Cathedral Grove, which I remembered from a school field trip in, um, 1972? There's a park website and another one that's quite informative. Big trees, like this:

Hard to tell, but this tree is very tall and likely several centuries old.

Obviously this one has fallen over! There are fallen trees everywhere, with newer trees growing up from them. There was a big storm in 1997 which knocked out a lot of the trees.

The park is quite old and the parking lot is tiny. Of course, making a bigger parking lot would mean cutting down a tree or two, so that is not going to happen. So you are zooming along the highway (well, it is a two-lane through the woods, so you are not really zooming very fast) and then you notice a few cars parked along the edge of the road, and then you see designated parking spaces for maybe 50 or 60 cars. Logging trucks are making their way across the island, RVs and trailers are parking and backing up to leave, tourists are sauntering across the highway. The whole thing is crazy-making. But we luckily found a place to park and did enjoy our walk along the paths.

Further along the road we came across Walley Creek, which is another little thing at the side of the road that proved to be a ton of fun. The creek, and it is not a very big one, goes through these enormous rocks. The kids leapt about, scaring their dear mother to bits, but no one fell in and no one broke any bones, so I guess it was just all good.

Elaine was stymied by this big one, but she made a valiant effort. And in Crocs.

We made it to Tofino and to our little cottage. Like most popular vacation places, the accommodations were booked up ages ago, but I just happened to be looking for a cottage when someone had cancelled a week here, and it was the only thing available! It was great, we had a big yard, enough sleeping space, access to the hot tub... 

These are for real, tsunami warning signs. The place is right on the outside of the continent, with dangers from local earthquakes and from tsunamis from around the Pacific. All was calm when we were there, but I did get a shirt. It looks like this, but along with the guy running for higher ground, there is a little surfer dashing into the wave. Tofino is full of surfers, or at least people in wetsuits bobbing in the waves. We didn't actually see much surfing!

One day we went to the Botanical Gardens and saw an artichoke, among other things. 

And one day we went to a bog, where the soil is very acidic. It reminded me of Sleeping Beauty with all the twisty trees...

But really, what we did most of the time was go to the beach. We rode bikes on the beach. 

We went to the beach in the fog. 

We collected pretty shells and rocks (and seaweed), but left most of it behind. This collection was inspired by a painting I saw in a shop. Could use more reddish rocks, but one works with what one has. 

And we went to the beach at sunset.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just a brief note here

Well, we went on holiday. I took a ton of knitting and good intentions of having at least half a sweater done when we got back.

On Day 3, I somehow managed to whang my right index finger in the car door! This put a stop to all handiwork, lemme tell you. I do have a picture of it somewhere, in all its purple glory, but it's mostly better now.

When we got back I had almost three weeks of temperatures to record in my scarf, which I managed. My finger only really bothers me doing things like typing (!) and putting pressure on the very tip. So I shall work up some more knitting as soon as I can.

Arthur is off to university in the fall and I feel he should not go barefoot, so I have decided it is time to get to the darning pile -- easier than making whole new socks, I hope. So I imagine I can do my ridge on the temperature scarf, a bit of darning, and still get in a few rows now and then on my Action sweater.

I also have something like 1,000 pictures from two cameras to load onto the computer and admire... We've been back almost a week already and I'm just getting my land legs here.

Will post more soon!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

There will be a new sweater

I am well on my way with my summer project of Action! My Plan of Action is to carry this plain stocking stitch knitting with me all over the place this summer, and to end up with a nice fall sweater just in time for fall. How about that?

This is the yarn: some ancient black Denim I bought on eBay some time ago. It is no longer made and is meant to fade delightfully. I really wanted to do something textural with it, so that the fading was more pronounced on the bumps and cables and nubbins, but I also wanted a super-simple project. This should still leave me with about 10 balls of it, so I am not giving up yet on the cabled gansey masterpiece.

I also need a few balls of dark blue and a few balls of lighter blue. I am using an old Denim cardigan, also bought some time ago on eBay, for the lightest, but I suspect the yarn is in fact the same as my other blue, after just a few washings to fade it. There is a very pale Denim, but I think it is even paler than the sweater I am unravelling. 

This pattern calls for the reverse stocking stitch side to be the right side, and also the pattern tells you to just secure the yarn ends and then leave them to fray, here and there. I think I won't do that! And I am still not sure about which side will be shown. 

For now I am finished with the stripes, just plugging along with black. Boring, a bit, but also fast. (Ducks to avoid smiting for being hubristic.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Action, action, action

You might think things have been quiet around here, but no, we have been running to and fro like crazy. The school year has finally finished and Arthur has graduated!

Last night was the graduation ceremony. Oh, my, very long! Of course, there is one kid who wins all the awards (Elaine counted; it was actually only six).

The school is extremely diverse, not only in population but in what they teach, so along with Arthur's nerdy math-science cohort, there were also the technical kids who excelled at auto-shop and baking, the developmentally delayed group getting certificates of achievement, people going to top universities, people starting apprenticeships, people coming back to the school to do more courses next year...

Arthur is what they call an Ontario Scholar, which means he had an 80% average over his six best courses, and he got the art prize for photography.

Getting his art award

Getting his fake diploma; the real one is safely backstage in proper alphabetical order
And for those of you who like the red carpet news, he wore a spiffy Brooks Brothers suit (hand-me-down from a friend of ours) and mismatched Crocs.

So. No more having two kids in schools across town from each other... now I will have a kid in high school and one away at university! Heavens.

We still have to enjoy the summer before that happens, though. We are going out west for almost three weeks soon, which I am quite looking forward to. As well as visiting family, we have lucked into a cottage on the west coast of Vancouver Island, so we will have sandy beaches and low tide and rainforest and all that jazz.

But first, I need to have a knitting project suitable for travelling. Oh, the fun I had looking through old Vogue Knitting magazines and revisiting old favourites. There are at least a dozen garments which I have fully intended to knit for decades now. I have finally settled on Action by Kim Hargreaves from Denim People. Not sure if I will have the loose ends fraying on my cuffs, but so far I think I will knit it as written. That's a novelty!

I am still plugging away at the temperature scarf, which has become a temperature cowl.

On June 21, halfway through the year, I started spiralling around, and at the end of the right-side row, I knit the stitch together with the edge stitch from the beginning of the scarf. It will be doubly wide, long enough to loop around the neck, lovely colours, soft wool. What could be better?

And by December 20th, it will be complete and ready for use.

Now, on with Action. Miles of stocking stitch, but at least I get a few stripes. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A museum, some buildings and a story

I did take over 300 pictures in Havana, and I'm sure you'd agree they're all simply masterpieces, but I'll round off the show-and-tell today!

On our last day we stumbled across the Museo de las Artes Decorativas.

It was the home of a wealthy Contessa, who we heard later was a mistress of Batista, and who entertained people like the Duke of Windsor in her lovely home and gardens. She fled during the Revolution, probably assuming she'd be back in a year when everything got back to normal. There was a picture of a worker with a metal detector, finding the silverware that she'd bricked up in the basement!

In 1964, the government opened it as a museum, and I think some of the pieces on display are from the house and others may have once belonged to other pre-Revolutionary connoisseurs.

The front hall, with beautiful stone floor, and a table held up by an enslaved woman. 

Ivory details applied to a wooden cabinet. We just get more politically incorrect the more we look, here. 

I do love a good elephant. There was a whole room full of Asian screens, inlaid and painted. 

A floor. The Contessa had nice marble floors, and also some pretty gorgeous carpets. 

A lot of the woodwork on the main floor was painted and had bronze bits attached like this. All the door handles had bronze filigree doo-dads around them. I'm not sure how many "homes" in Havana were this excessive, but one can sort of see why sugar cane workers would welcome a revolution. 

I don't know why this one won't stay rotated; really, it looks better if you just tilt your head to the right... More fancy floor, with a touch of fantastic pink and green carpet to the side.  

This is in the dining room. It was hard to get a decent picture of the dining table; it was covered with these chandelier-like trees, which I think are merely decorative, and so much glassware it was just crazy. This set-up must be just for a wee tipple before the other guests arrive. 

The lights were also completely over the top.

This one is, of course, way up on the ceiling, but each globe has some ancient heroes etched on it. You might not think to put Achilles on your dripping-crystal chandelier, but someone did. 

Another chandelier. You can see some of the drippy bits are discoloured with age, and the ball at the bottom reflects the whole room, upside-down. I do love this and want a gigantic house just to have such a thing. 

Outside. The garden was not so excellently kept up as the inside, and if they were clever they would set up a little place selling cold water. Maybe when the hordes of tourists come someone will think of this. 

We had fun being goddesses. 

A few more stunning interiors, just for fun, like the Museo de la Revolución, the former Palace of the Presidents. The interior of the palace was done by Tiffany, so now you see the glass cases with Che's shoe or pages of Fidel's speeches, with little bits of glamour and glitz hidden behind. 

The central dome, with mosaics, gilding, marble, glass...

The palace even has a Versailles-like Hall of Mirrors, which is being renovated right now. 

This is in the president's office, complete with a bust of José Martí, who is honoured now as a revolutionary along with the modern ones. He fought for Cuba's independence from Spain in the 1890s. 

Although you can't tour the kitchens of the Contessa's house (which made me very unhappy, let me say), you can take a look at the bathroom off the president's office. I was pleased to note he didn't get a seat -- we often found that you could have paper or a seat, but rarely both. 

One more vision of crazy opulence: the Bacardi building. We could only walk around on the main floor, but that little peek was overwhelming enough. 

How many colours of marble does one elevator need?  

The floor! Oh, heavenly! Our shadows look a bit crazy because we were carrying bags and posters and whatever. 

Ah, we arrive at the final evening. We went to a restaurant I had read about, and that was a very clever move on our part. One of the owners (many restaurants are owned by the government, but "paladares," or family restaurants are cropping up all over the place) is a Canadian who has lived in Cuba for over 20 years. He came out to the terrace where we were sitting to and we chatted for a bit about Cuba and Cubans and Fidel and prosperity and government... Very nice, I wish we'd met him at the beginning of our trip! The food was good, but the highlight was the view. The building is on the Malecón, the seawall along the north edge of the city, and the restaurant is on the third floor, so the views of the sunset over the water are magnificent. 

We returned to the hotel (in a convertible Ford from 1953), packed our bags, set our alarm for 5 am so we could get the bus to the airport and all was well... till around 10:45 pm when my friend wanted to go out for a last smoke before bed (she had some funny habits, like smoking and also purloining meat from the breakfast table to feed to stray cats). 

But! She couldn't get the door open. We both turned the knob on the deadbolt, and the handle turned but the bolt stayed right where it was. So we phoned the desk, they told us someone would come.... Guy comes, tries the door, yells through at us to jiggle the handle. We tell him we've done that. 

Guy goes away. Comes back with more guys, a chisel, a drill... They do a bit of shaking of the door, go away, the woman from the front desk calls and tells us to turn the handle.... Finally, around midnight, they break the door frame and set us free! 

photo by T Teskey

I'm glad we didn't have to go through that all at 5:30 in the morning! We would have missed our bus, for one thing. We had to move rooms, of course. It was not soothing, let's just say that. And my camera battery was dead. Time to go home!