Sunday, December 28, 2014

The first few days of the Temperature scarf

I must get back to my Kaffe Fassett squares, and all those other unfinished objects, but on the solstice, I started my Temperature Scarf. You can see the first day has pale blue -- that is the coldest it has been. The last few days I have used the green variegated, which is +4ºC or higher, but this warm spell won't last, and we can get back to the chilly blues.

I am using a garter stitch chevron pattern from 200 Ripple Stitches. (Weird prejudice: ripples are for crochet and chevrons are for knitting, surely!) I got this book from the library in an attempt to seduce Elaine into crocheting something other than straight lines, but I don't think she has had a chance to even look at it yet.

I started on 4.5 mm needles, but after a few days decided the fabric was too stiff, so changed to 5s, after carefully noting on 2015's calendar to go back to 4.5s a few days before the winter solstice, to make things symmetrical!

I get my data from here; at the bottom of the page it gives you yesterday's high and low temperatures. So since I started knitting on Dec 21, the first date represented is Dec 20. (The colour code is in this post; I use one yarn for the high temperature and one for the low. You can see in the middle there were a couple of days where it didn't get much colder at night and I used two strands of plain green.)

The Koigu is beautiful yarn; I'm quite looking forward to my one little garter ridge each day!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The sweater and a hat

I hope everyone is having a nice holiday. We had my brother and his sons here, and they each got some knitting. The guys each got a handy-dandy dish cloth (which led to a discussion of whether or not you should put your Teflon pans in the dishwasher. General consensus: no, use your new dishrag).

Of course, John got his new sweater!

He took off a blue-grey sweater whose elbows were very thin, and put on his new blue-grey sweater. It could have been an inch or two longer, but it's perfectly excellent as is.

Looking like the Rowan model
Stephen also got a piece of handknit loveliness, the Cuss Hat

The Cuss Hat selfie

It is for people who swear at the weather, a thing Stephen does a lot in the winter!

Tomorrow, the Temperature Scarf. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I figure if you like a big choir, you can't beat the Mormons. Well, King's College is pretty good, I agree, but they are always outnumbered by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Baby Arthur in his little ball!
I am writing this on the 24th, so I have time to throw in a few pictures of what's been going on here. Primo: Eddie is done! Right now it is drying downstairs, all its little ends sewn in and armpits grafted and everything. This is what it looked like just after I had cast off the neckband.

And this is the yarn that was left!

I worry that the body is too short, but really, tough luck if it is! 

Some cookies have been baked. I think I have driven my family crazy with all the plans and shopping and baking, but they will all be happy when I finally let them eat the cookies!

We are not getting a white Christmas, but there has been rain, and we've been promised wind. Just what we need.

My cabbages never did very much. But now they look pretty with raindrops on.

Now, back to your knitting, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What would you like for Christmas?

I ask Arthur what he wants for Christmas, and he always replies with this little ditty. All I can say is, You better watch out!

 (Actually, do you know how hard it is to find a hippopotamus in downtown Toronto?)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Getting to the real classics now

This is an old favourite. I see that lots of other groups have done this as well, but I think this is the original, and despite the not-great angle and the choppy beginning, I love the guffaws from the audience and the delightful performance.

Elaine and I went carolling the other night. We walk around the neighbourhood and sing at pre-arranged front porches, and then end up around the piano at someone's house. The finale of the evening is when they take away the carol sheets and give us the four parts of the Hallelujah Chorus. Oh, my, those sopranos are high! Elaine and I struggled to keep up with the altos, and there were moments in there when no-one knew what they were doing and there was a bit of confusion. Luckily the words are kind of repetitive!

Another old favourite is the snowflake cutting page online. You can make these and e-mail them to your friends if you have forgot to send cards!

And the latest on Eddie the sweater: knitting is finished, just the ends and blocking and so on remain. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Blues at Christmas

Another rockin' sad Christmas song.
Why can't these people be home for Christmas? They never seem to say.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Solstice has come

And I say, thank goodness!

I have started my temperature scarf. I cast on this morning, recording yesterday's temperature data (high of about 0ºC and low of -6º). Not much to see, but I think I'll aim for weekly pictures through the year.

And, we interrupt this holiday advent songfest to throw in an ad for pop:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

More Ella and more sweets

It's another song asking Santa for one's beloved, which seems to be a rather large subset of Christmas songs. Fine by me.


My Scrabble-playing friends and I exchange gifts, and this year I made them all some Chocolate Swirl Espresso Bark. Very easy, and quite yummy, I must say. You just melt dark chocolate and white chocolate separately, swirl them together in a pan, and sprinkle with the chocolate-covered coffee beans.

melted, swirled chocolate and white chocolate
For me, the hardest part was finding the dang coffee beans! Coffee shops didn't have them and chocolate shops didn't have them. I finally got some at Ten Thousand Villages, and they were fair trade and organic and rather expensive. Then, of course, I found them in a bulk food store for much less, so I'll know in the future!

chilled and hard and ready to go
I hope my friends like it!

In order to a) not forget and b) get some other stuff done, I have scheduled up the songs for the next few days. This is not cheating, really, is it? Cheating what, I wonder.... I'll surely pop in to say when I finish Eddie the sweater!

There are so many songs; I'll have to do this next year.... or maybe in July.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tom Jones Mary's Boy Child

We can't really have a musical event here without a bit of Tom Jones. He doesn't seem to have done lots of Christmas music, but this one is rather lovely, and actually about Baby Jesus and all.

The folks sitting around him crack me up; I guess it's supposed to be just Tom and his friends hanging around at home.

I think he's even got his old nose here!

Here's his modern look, more than 40 years later!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Elaine's requested song

I didn't know this song, but Elaine suggested it, so here you go.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Instrumental dancing jolly music

This is one I am taking from the musical advent songs my friend is sending. Just try to not dance, at least in your head.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More from New York, and cookies

The singer is singin' and the baker is bakin'.

These are called "Chocolate Spice Hearts," but you don't have to make just hearts, you know! So we have airplanes, rocket ships, pigs, teapots and trees, as well as a few hearts for good measure. They are quite good, so I shall give you the recipe, which I copied out from somewhere, around 1991, I believe. No idea to whom the credit should go.

Chocolate Spice Hearts

Stir together:
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Set aside for now.

Beat together till light and fluffy:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla

Beat in flour mixture until blended. Between two sheets of wax paper, roll out the dough to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.
Refrigerate the dough overnight, or for several hours, until firm enough to cut.
Heat oven to 325ºF.
Cut shapes out of the chilled dough, prick a few times with a fork and bake for 17-20 minutes, till cookies are firm to the touch.
When they are cooled, you can sprinkle them with more icing sugar.
Makes about 2 dozen.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Moving from Harlem to Hollis

I know nothing about Hollis, but I understand it's part of Queen's which is part of New York City. Right?


Knitting on the sweater has paused for a day or so because the recipient is staying at my house! Drat. However, we are having a good time and Christmas is coming....

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Can't get enough of Louis Armstrong

People who live in New York seem to think that Christmas is better there than elsewhere. Today we start a small series on New York-centric Christmas songs, with Louis Armstrong and Christmas Night in Harlem.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Santa Claus wants some lovin'

I'm halfway through here, assuming I only go to Dec 25. I hope I can keep it up! I still have a few up my sleeve.

Friday, December 12, 2014

And, polka

It's the Andrews Sisters! Fun and wholesome singing ladies.

It would get the gang dancing, I suppose!

It snowed and snowed on Thursday. My brother is driving up from London on the weekend, so I hope the roads are clear by then.

Sweater is not done, will likely turn into a Christmas present, but I'll do my best.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snow and some awful stuff now

It is snowing!

Snow coming straight at the door makes the wreath look extra Christmassy
Just in case we were to get carried away with festiveness and warm fuzzy feelings, I think we need to see Bill Nighy, from Love Actually. Here he is a has-been rocker, recycling his old hit for the season. (Naughty language to follow, NSFW)

(After about 2:10 it just goes into the beginning of the movie.)


Then, of course, he has to sell the record, and he goes on the radio. Oops. Crass commercialism is all around us, folks!

More snow and something nice tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keepin' warm with love and knitting

This isn't really a Christmas song, though they do mention the weather in December! We are looking at snow this evening, I hear. And we don't care how much it will storm, coz we've got our love to keep us warm....

Eddie is progressing quite well; new deadline in sight; the possibility of meeting the deadline is not too bad, really.

The expanse of the front
decreasing the raglans
The pattern calls for the pieces to be knit flat and seamed together, and has three stitches before the purls on these raglan decreases. After a few rounds of the whole thing, I realised I didn't need all those three stitches, since if I'd sewed it up, one or two would be lost in the seam. So I just got rid of one on each side. I hope this will be not noticeable in the grand scheme. It is pretty low down in the raglan. I have miles to go... I do really like the look of the purl decreases. A little something to keep one from going mad with all the stocking stitch. I have three balls of yarn left, which I think will do me!

Outside, we finally got around to raking the garden a bit, cutting down hosta sticks, picking up the spruce cones and so on. This is the daylily patch, raked!

I bought some purple cabbages to grow in the summer, but they didn't do much, and now they are frozen and fallen over. Pretty colour, but I wish they'd grown better!

Indoor farming: this is a carrot top! You can put the top of a store-bought carrot in a saucer of water, and since the carrot is the root, it nourishes the green bits. Not a great photo, but you get the idea. They say you can do it with a pineapple top as well.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I think he might be saying Merry Christmas

No, probably not saying anything about Christmas after all, but I like it!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Christmas lights

I had to include this live version of this song, because I never would have thought the singer looked like this! Not your usual ho ho ho here, but probably not an uncommon Christmas story. Oo oo oo ooooo.

About Eddie: I have finished the second sleeve, joined the sleeves and body together, and am happily decreasing stitches to get to the top! My first pause will be when I get down to 400 stitches -- then I get to decrease only every alternate row, after a few rows of decreasing every row. That Kim Hargreaves is a pretty clever designer, I must say. When I get a few more rows done, I will show you the lovely decrease line. Now, though, it looks like an octopus...

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Another rockin' Christmas song

One of the things I learned from the movie Jingle Bell Rocks! is that John Waters put out a Christmas record. (He is an oddball, for sure. I just read his book about hitchhiking across America.) This video takes the sound from his album, instead of from an original recording, and the quality is much better than other videos I looked at. Groovy.


Saturday, December 06, 2014

Can I find an appropriate song?

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Montreal massacre. I think I will not give you a song.

A friend of mine was in Montreal at the time, studying not engineering but law. It being December, she was revising for exams, and had unplugged the phone because she had had a few phone calls during the day that had distracted her from her work. Her parents were home in another province, and although the murders had not happened at her university, they called her to make sure she was okay. No answer, no answer, all night! When she finally put her books away and remembered to plug in the phone, it rang immediately.

I was working at a legal newspaper and my boss was a Montreal anglo man, who was either horrible or actually quite nice but very good at pretending to be horrible. I never could be sure. He came into the office the morning after the shooting and said something like, "Some crazy French-Canadian guy went nuts and shot some people and now everyone's calling it 'violence against women'!" Oh, heavens, he was difficult.

Marker of Change, memorial consisting of 14 coffin-like benches in Vancouver by artist Beth Alber
And now there are ceremonies and vigils and memorials, and we hope things are a bit better. But those two memories will stick with me: the frantic parents and the dismissive jerk.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Sweaters and songs

I am knitting away on the second sleeve of Eddie the sweater. Last night I sat by the fire, drinking eggnog and knitting away, and this morning I looked at my pattern and ripped out three perfectly fine rows, because I had gone too far! So, yay, I get to purl a bit now. I have noticed that I clearly thought this "knitting a sweater" would be the work of an instant: my knitting chair is still surrounded by the yarn for the Kaffe squares. I haven't switched projects, I've just inserted this one into the stream somehow. Very odd. Anyways, I will have everything on a long needle for the yoke before you know it.

Today I will not have a song for you, but I will tell you about a crazy movie I saw last year about this time, called Jingle Bell Rocks! People search out obscure records of Christmas songs, and there is a not-tiny sub-culture of people who, in the olden days of the 20th century, used to exchange mix-tapes of their prize Christmas ditties. Just watch this, and tomorrow I will have another great song for you:

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Just some fun young guys

Once again, the Christmas message is obliterated by the love song. For your Christmas dance party!


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Day 3 of Christmas songs you might not know. Of course, this is a song we always hear, but Sister Rosetta Tharpe gives it her own organ wailing twist.

After having this great idea of mine, I was surprised this year to get advent e-mails, containing links to YouTube Christmas songs! My friend has so far sent a rollicking Jingle Bells and Veni Veni. I wonder if we'll ever overlap.... Unlikely.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Day 2 here

Time for another Christmas song. Nothing here about peace on Earth, though; just hoping Santa brings us the right man!

Monday, December 01, 2014

That's done with, then

So, there goes November. Not much NaBloPoMo action here, I'm sorry to say.

I do have an idea for December, though!

First I shall show you my sweater:

no flash

with flash
Flash or not, it's about halfway done. By Christmas, certainly.

My December idea is to share non-standard Christmas music with you. No Jingle Bells or Fa la la. Today we must start with the saddest song of all, The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot.