Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It snowed

Elaine and I started making this wreath a while ago, and we finalized it some time before Christmas.

Today we have a bit of snow on the ground. Mainly a dusting of snow over top of a layer of bumpy ice. Pretty horrible!

I'll try to have a few computer-free days here, and see you in 2012! Best wishes!

Friday, December 23, 2011

New art for the walls

Once upon a time, like 1986, my friend went to a meeting on the U of T campus and met a woman who was a bucket of fun, and we all became pals and had wild mid-university-career parties. Actually, I don't remember it clearly at all, except that we ate lunch together and it was generally good.

Then, once upon a time in this past autumn, I saw something on Pinterest that I liked (but now I can't find it) and I clicked through and found a picture of a nice room that had a) the same rug my daughter has in her room and b) a silkscreen print by Alanna Cavanagh. And I said, Huh, I used to eat lunch and go to parties with Alanna Cavanagh! So I pinged and tweeted and whatever, and got in touch with her.

Of course, we checked out her portfolio, because it is kinda exciting to find that the person who used to trudge around after class asking shops to sell her notecards has become an actual artiste who gets her stuff in magazines! Ooh, la. I guess a lot can happen in 25 years.

She had a sale a few weeks ago and I bought two silk-screen prints. Now they are all framed and lovely in our house.

We have the Island of Dr Moreau Penguin book cover, slightly tea-stained.

It shares the wall with some of Stephen's mom's watercolours.

I never bought the deck chairs, or a mug.  I don't mail out, or paper my room with, the postcards, and I still have not knitted the mittens, though indeed I mean to. But I am very happy to have a funkified Penguin cover on my wall! I looked on our bookshelves, and though we have a ton of the black Penguin Classics, we don't have any in this style.

We also got the Alphabet Legs and hung it in the front hall, with Stork on the Moon, by Arthur, age 7 or so, and the "check your hair on the way out the door" mirror.

I really like the red dots, and of course, the letters. And the shoes. 

After all this I don't expect Santa will have much more for Stephen or me!

I hope everyone has a jolly happy Christmas. Things might be a bit slow around the ol' blog, but I'll try to do a post or two before 2012!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Still here

Oh, my, I guess we have been a bit busy!

I looked around yesterday and found that not only were there unfinished knitting projects all over the place, there were unfinished rows... I stop in the middle of a row to deal with some crisis, and then get distracted forever. One of my projects that will be lying around for an age is the Sky Scarf: 

The blue rows represent sunny days and the mixed up rows are the cloudy days. Some are a bit blue and a bit cloudy, but as you can see, we've had more cloud than sun this month. Luckily, I only have to knit one ridge a day on this... lucky because I often find that I forgot to carry the unused yarns up the side and so I rip back and reknit a few days worth again! I'm not sure my yarn will hold out for a year-long scarf, and I am also not sure I want a 10-foot scarf! This is 3 weeks of December, and it is about 8 inches long, so that means.... yeah, I could easily have a 10-foot scarf at the end of 52 weeks. I'll just keep plugging along and see what happens.

Another project I found abandoned mid-row is a dishcloth I carry around with me. I started it when I had to take Arthur to the fracture clinic for ankle x-rays. Silly boy jumped/landed incorrectly and managed to take a tiny chip out his bone, but mainly damage his ligament. So he has the air-boot cast thing and a pair of crutches and has to do some exercises and it's a nuisance! But, hanging around the clinic, I did get a good start on a red dishrag which I will not trouble to take a picture of right now.

I was knitting it on the bus yesterday and had a brief conversation with a young man who had also knit dishcloths. He was sitting across from me and had a big white fluffball of a dog with him, to whom he would talk reassuringly. "This is going to be a long ride, but it'll be okay." And when the bus driver was shouting at another driver, the guy tells the dog, "Don't worry, he's not yelling at you." The dog was totally placid and unconcerned through all this, and was wearing a bib that said, "Autism Support Dog," so I realised the dog was just there to listen, really. What a great thing -- it's like having a sleeping baby in a stroller who acts as an excuse for harried mothers in the supermarket who have to talk through their shopping choices.

I hope to have more delights for you in the next couple of days... I still have a few chores to do, of course. We are having company for the big Christmas dinner: a Buddhist and a Jew, in fact. So we are serving pork roast. Go figure. Must buy the Brussels sprouts shortly -- one year there was a shortage and we had to have cauliflower or some such thing!

And now, with no dog and no baby, I just run around muttering about this to myself!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Year-end stash flashing

We'll start with a sort of overview of the whole bed. Note the large empty space! Compare with January's pictures.

Please note that I got rid of those three off-white Lamb's Pride skeins, and the dark grey Cascade. Never going to use it! Unlike all those tiny bits at the bottom which I ... can't think what to do with, but kept anyways! They were in a bag with a spool knitter.

Below, sock yarn in the top right corner. Really, 2012 will be the year of socks, just as soon as I finish the two sweaters on the needles and a few other things! And there's that nice Rowan cotton, top left. And and and....

Monday, December 12, 2011

My latest

I call this Symphony in Oddments.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The silly song of the season

Last year, I showed you the Silent Monks, and before that was the Partridge in the Pear Tree, and this year, it's Jingle Baas

"Making of" here.

And I made a martini glass dishcloth:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Ginger Lemon cookies

I tried out some slightly fancy cookies yesterday. Ginger-lemon pinwheels! You make two doughs, one with brown sugar and molasses and spices and an egg yolk, and one with white sugar and lemon zest and the egg white.

You have to chill the doughs, roll them out flat, chill them again, somehow get one layer on top of the other, roll them up together and freeze them for a bit, till the whole log is firm enough to slice into these cool swirly cookies.

Tips from our test kitchen: Do actually try to get your dough rolled out to a rectangle, and do try to get your rectangles sort of even! That way your cookies will all have the same number of swirls! Also, we used margarine because that was easy, but next time it will be butter, because the soft margarine doesn't harden in the fridge (duh) and I think the dough would have been easier to handle in all that chill/roll/slice business if it had had butter in.

Very tasty and good, but I'm not sure these will be our cookie exchange cookies. Must keep doing research!

Friday, December 02, 2011

And now December's square, and a project for 2012

In a flurry of activity, I knitted up a square for December. It is a pretty simple 3x2 basketweave, which was a nice break. Six rows to the pattern: four are pretty much the same, one is knit and one is purl!

We have here three pictures taken after dark. You have the flash picture of what is meant to be the back of the pattern,

the slightly adjusted no-flash picture of the "front" of the pattern,

and the no-flash, stand-on-a-chair picture of the whole lot. I still need one more row of four to make it a decent size, but I will worry about that next year! Must get more yellow in!

There was another flurry of activity, which has thus far resulted in this:

It is my Sky scarf, which I am making with stash sock yarns. I was all set to go off to the yarn shop, but some little voice suggested I see what I had on hand.

The grey/brown/green is for dark, thundery skies, and the yellow/blue/pink is the light, fluffy cloud colour. Then we have bright blue (though I have never seen a sky that colour, actually) and the paler blue, and twinkly, which I had originally thought would be for when I checked the sky at night, but maybe I will use it for snow or tornadoes or other lively stuff!

I am using a big and a smaller needle, because I think it will be a better looking scarf, but I also think that 365 garter ridges on such big needles will result in a 3-meter-long scarf. Let's just see how the yarn holds out, and how crazy this project gets! It might end next November 30, or it might end when I run out of yarn, or it might just end when I decide to end it.

Onward. Tomorrow I have to prepare for a dinner party, go to an artist's open house, get Elaine to a slumber party, come home and have the dinner party. And knit a ridge on the Sky scarf!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

That was easy

What do you know, I had just a few rows to do on the November square, and all I had to do was sit down and knit them.

Now, one more square this year, four more in January to April, sew it up and edge it in May, and Bob's your uncle.

Eleven down, five to go.

Or I could just barrel on and make the squares faster than that. Quick, someone have a baby!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last post of the month

And now, snow.

It may or may not stick around, but it sort of disrupts one's day, especially if plans included walking to the liquor store and bringing home a quantity of holiday-friendly bottles.

I think plans might now include finishing that November square before November is gone forever.

I may not post for a while, unless something thrilling happens, like I finish the square! NaBloPoMo is over for another year. Next year, who knows, I might try the "knit a sweater in a month" version!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Plans for December

My Botticelli is so close to being finished that I will just plug along with it. I need to do another boring sleeve and then I get to sew it all up and do the marvellous edging. I have knit this whole thing in order to get to the edging. I hope I don't tire of it too quickly -- I likely have to knit about 6 or 7 feet of it. You can see it here.

I do need to finish up that November square, and do another square for December.

Stephen has been lamenting the miserable state of our dishcloths, so I might whip up a couple of shiny new ones just for him! If I do succeed in this, he will likely find them under the tree on Christmas morning. But that would be my only Christmas knitting.

So, mainly, make a sweater for me, and, I hope, a few square things, wool and cotton.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I couldn't stop myself

I got to the end of the ball of brown and just somehow started in on green. Plans are made for the other sleeve to be ... not quite the same.

One day I will knit a big piece of plain coloured stocking stitch, but right now, I ... didn't.

In cabbage news, it still looks mostly like this:

But the leaves that have fallen off and are lying in the pot look like this:


Someone needs to dye a yarn like that -- old red cabbage leaves, the new colour for fall!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Missed chance

I occasionally look at Ebay, though my first burst of enthusiasm has certainly passed. The other day I saw this, a cardigan knit of Rowan Denim. Not something I would have knit myself, but from a quick search at Ravelry I found that it is called Favour and probably has more than 20 balls of yarn in it!

The auction had a thrilling finale. Only one other person wanted it, and they put in a bid with about 3 minutes to go. I raised my bid, but balked at going really high, so they still got it for less than the yarn would cost new.

But think of the fun I would have had unravelling it, letting the yarn stew for ever in my closet, wondering what I had got so worked up about. 'Tis better this way, perhaps!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Big day for some of us

Once upon a time Elaine went to an open house for a nice, private, middle school with an excellent reputation. It seemed it would be a fine thing to go there.

Admission requirements, however, include writing the SSAT test, so she is, at this very moment, in the middle of a three-hour exam.

Poor wee thing!

I'm sure she'll do fine, as she is very good at the things they ask for, but still, it's an intense thing to do.

In my day, you know, we just went to the local school, but things (and location) have changed. We spent all last year looking for a high school for Arthur. We haven't even looked at other middle schools for next year, so it will be months before we make any sort of decision. Agony for one and all, really!

Edited to add: She's now home, and has fallen asleep over an Asterix book on the couch!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I do knit, you know

I have two things I am working on these days. The first, and why on earth is it taking so long, is my November square. I guess I am about halfway done. A simple lace pattern, a zig and then a zag. The yarn is Cascade 220 superwash, in a lovely pale lilac colour, heathery and hard to photograph. This is inside at 4:30 pm, no flash.

The other thing is my Botticelli sleeve. Ta da.

Acres of brown stocking stitch. The markers show the last two decrease rows. It will go on like this for some time. (I "enhanced" this to make the tweediness show a bit more brightly.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thursday is my usual Scrabble day. There are 4 of us who try to meet regularly and play -- sometimes it is only 2 or 3 of us, and we have a fifth on our little mailing list but so far she has not made it.

This was the start of today's game. Nine moves in, I believe, and all five of the Big Letters are out. Q, X, Z, J and K are the one-of-a-kind letters worth lots of points. The rest of the game had to be anticlimactic after a start like that. (I did manage to make "exude" later in the game, which was pretty keen.)

I think I did not win this game, but they all pass in a bit of a blur, so I can't tell you if I lost by 10 points or 100. Which sometimes happens, I'm sorry to say!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Some years later

Once upon a time, I tried to make an advent calendar out of toilet paper rolls. It was a miserable failure, but the idea still appealed. So now, five years later, I was bit better prepared.

Take note that November is not even over yet, so I still had time for do-overs if it had gone badly. Take note, also, that my kids are somewhat older and better able to help (or in fact, do most of the work involved).

First step: save toilet paper tubes for months and months. Today, after I was sure the project was done, I took a huge bag of extra rolls in to my favourite Grade 1 teacher. Better too many than too few, right?

Second step: Get a child to cut the rolls in half. Because we decided to make only one calendar, we only really needed 12 tubes! Elaine started cutting the tubes in October, I think, and they sat around unloved for some time, but then were ready when we got keen.

Next: Cover one end of each tube with pretty paper. We used bits of Christmas wrapping paper.

After that: Put two candies in each tube. This means that the two kids will have to cooperate on the opening and sharing business. Hershey's kisses! Christmas colours!

Fifth: Put a piece of paper on the other end. Write numbers on. Now you have 24 small closed cylinders containing candy.

Then: Arrange your tubes. You need a piece of cardboard for backing. A cereal box or pizza box will do just fine. We decided on the basic tree shape, but without a stem. The ones on top are sort of the star on top of the tree.

Finally: Cut out the shape and glue the tubes down. (A small offering to the gods of glue might be in order here. It would be a shame if the things fell off!)

And there you have it! I think we need to strengthen the back and make some sort of support so it can stand up nicely. We still have a week before it gets used, so we should be able to work that out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GImme cookies

Tis the Christmas season. Really, although it is only November.

So, one needs cookie exchange cookies. I seem to remember going on about cookies last year, but I'm always looking for new cookies.

In the summer I made lemon cookies with cake mix. In fact, they were made with cake mix, Cool Whip wholly artificial creamlike stuff, and an egg. Might do those again, maybe with chocolate cake mix.

Gingerbread, sugar cookies, brownies, Rice Krispies treats, ginger-lemon rolled fancy schmancy cookies?

If you have a favourite recipe that's online, leave a link and I'll check them out!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another walk with another ending

This morning I walked Elaine to school, then set off up the hill via The Stairs, then across past more lovely houses, and back down the hill past the grocery store.

Aha, said I. I will just pop in here to get some hot chocolate powder for my poor, deprived children.

Of course, I picked up about $45 worth of other stuff as well, and just as I approached the cashier, I realized that I had my house keys and cell phone with me, but no wallet. So I smiled sweetly and said, "Wait! I have no money!" To which the cashier responded, "You're optimistic, aren't you?"

But she kept my groceries as I dashed home and got some money. All is well.

Then I get Arthur's report card in the mail which contains sentences like, "He needs to improve his organizational skills." Ah, yes.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Okay, okay

The Diane who left two comments on my last post is my sister. So I can hardly disregard her sage advice. (Yeah, tell that to my kids... they'll learn, I suppose.)

So, some ramblings about knitting:
  • I am making plain brown sleeves for Botticelli. So far, anyways! I might stick a bigger stripe of each colour in, but not the two-row stripes. Plain brown might be simple, but might also not be very fast!
  • I am halfway through the November square, which I am doing independently from the Block-a-Month group. Next year we will start another round, I hope, and I will continue to make squares slowly but surely! 
  • I also mean to really really knit those socks next year! This year I started a KAL to knit socks on a pretty regular basis, but fell off the wagon in March or April. Next year, for sure.
  • I also have a ton of socks to darn for Arthur. He no longer grows out of socks as fast as he did, so he wears holes in them. 
  • Bed socks for mom,  right... Not for Christmas, but maybe for Groundhog Day. 
  • I'd kind of like to make one of those giant cowls. I have a winter-ish coat that has a big open neck, so a stupidly large scarf might come in handy. Maybe I will steal a picture from somewhere. Let me have a look. Ah...

Okay, maybe a few modifications would have to be made.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18

It's day 18 of NaBloPoMo, and I am parched, crossing the desert of blogland, searching for something to say.

Maybe the month ends here. Maybe something exciting will happen tomorrow. Maybe I will knit a sleeve!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Report from New York

Stephen is in New York for a couple of days to talk with a guy about dribbling syrup (like this experiment, by Stephen) and thought he would just go check out the Occupy Wall Street situation.

Not much was going on at Zuccotti Park, as everyone had headed for the Brooklyn Bridge and Foley Square. But these women were there with their knitting, so he kindly sent me the pictures.

Meanwhile, I was watching the live news feed and sending him messages like, "In hospital or jail, or just out to dinner?" because I couldn't get in touch with him. He had walked toward Chinatown, and when he saw the protesters near the bridge, took a few blurry pictures and went, sensibly, for dinner.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Today's phone pictures and an unseen piano

Some days I go for a swim, and some days I walk up the hill. Today was a walk day.

I passed a lovely red E-type Jaguar down at the corner. One of the few great car designs, I say. (Though that G in the name is not quite the way I would do it, myself.) The whole thing, of course, looks like this.

Then I walked Up The Hill and into a place called Wychwood Park, which has been there all along but which I am just now exploring. It's a wonderful treed neighbourhood with a terrible road (because it's privately owned, and who would pay for lookie-loos to drive comfortably around their area!) and gorgeous houses. Here's a history, and here's a blurb by some real estate folks written in 2008. You'd think they'd have spent half an hour updating that once the big Wychwood barns project they mention was finally finished.

There is a pond, filled by the elusive Taddle Creek -- the bit of water we all blame for our wet basements or settling of houses! There were a few ducks swimming around, but I would have liked to see some evidence of this "quicksand"!

On my way back down, I passed this retaining wall, which serves to hold the whole place from eroding away, I suppose, on which someone had written a (slightly altered) quote from Jane Jacobs. Apparently she actually said, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”


Hear, hear.

ETA: Oh, I titled this for the piano, as well! When I got back home, movers were taking a piano into the house next door. We share a wall, so I assume we will hear lots of piano playing, but so far all is quiet! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hair and other natural phenomena

I went to the hairdresser the other day, to get the hair on my neck just trimmed up. I also just got a few bits of red "peekaboo" colour put in here and there. I am a bit disappointed, but perhaps that is because I didn't really comprehend the peekaboo aspect sufficiently. Except for the one right in front, they are hidden for the most part. I have to flip my hair constantly if I want anyone to see them! Next time, brighter colour, and more visible!

The weather has been unseasonably warm and sunny -- this means I am still wandering about without a hat jammed on my head. It also means that the garden is still doing its crazy thing. Along with the ornamental cabbage,

we have cauliflower just coming in:

and the cosmos now has 4 flowers.

It is supposed to get cold and wet in the coming days. Perhaps this is the last hurrah before the snow and grimness comes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Late today

I had better put something up, so as not to fail at my NaBloPoMo obligations.
  • I went swimming this morning. I like it, but wish I could do more before the blood starts pounding in my head. Practise, practise.
  • I am still not finished my cardigan front.
  • Stephen left his laptop elsewhere, so three of us are wanting to use this computer. 
  • I guess I will let him use it, since he actually has to do work on it.
That's it till tomorrow, then!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The morning after

Oh, my, we did eat well last night!

Lots of variety of food, lots of neighbours, including both "the usual suspects" and some we don't always get out to these things. For the appetizers we milled about, nibbling goodies while the teenage daughter of our hosts played the harp. A big, gorgeous one like this. Very nice.

At the main course we had a ton of food (beef, pork, salmon + various veg/pasta dishes), and we did not have to juggle plate, cutlery, wine glass while perched on the couch -- they had two or three tables together and we all sat down with white tablecloths and the whole nine yards. Civilised, I call it!

Dessert is always a bit extra, and when one has cookies, brownies, pie, cheese, fruit and more, well, that is a lot extra! (I wonder if one hosts the dessert course, that might be the way to get the most leftovers. Hmm, keep that in mind for next time!)

I think pictures of my almost finished roses are better than pictures of strangers with their mouths full, and besides, I didn't take a camera last night. Somewhere out there, there is one picture of the whole gang at the big table, but that is all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We'll eat well tonight

Today I am getting ready for our street's progressive dinner. We go to three different houses, starting at one for appetizers, then another for main dishes, and ending up at a third for desserts.

We all bring a dish and it usually all works out very well. I've often thought that we could just do appetizers and desserts, since there is always a ton of food!

I am making cookies and bars for dessert, but I also thought there might be a shortage of plain old green stuff at the main course, so I am making a salad and some simple broccoli.

I had to make the desserts in order to show off my new three-tiered serving dish. Snazzy!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Margaret Atwood, knitter of extinct birds. Or, at least, one extinct bird!

Picture shamelessly stolen from the National Post. Read all about the cause she is knitting for there.

She introduced this project here in August. That's not bad, to knit a great auk in 3 months!

Oh, and tootling around on that iDoLVine site (I hope I got all those caps right) I found out that PD James has written a new book -- a murder mystery set at Pemberley, home to Darcy and Elizabeth, our friends from Pride and Prejudice. I now have hold #103 on it at the library, and it's not even published yet, I think. It had better be good!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Knitting and cabbage

Let's start with the knitting, but I warn you that today's post really is mainly concerned with cabbage.

This is the second front of Botticelli, and there is not that much more to do on it. Then we start the sleeves, and who knows what will happen then. I have ideas...

I am also having ideas about what to do with the remaining yarn when this is finished! I will have many half-balls lying about. I am not sure a scarf would be a good idea, since the yarn is a bit tickly, and this also stops me from thinking "baby blanket," but there might be a slew of nice light hats in the future.

And now, on to the cabbage! This is one of those frilly ornamental cabbages that appear on people's porches in October or so. Ours, as you see, has begun to get yellow around the base, but is still hot hot pink in the middle.

So hot pink that it is hard to get a "real" looking photo! I put the green up and the red a bit a bit down in this, but it is still overwhelming, isn't it?

The yellowed edges are still crinkly as ever, and the edges are not soft, but still firm.

And the stalk is out of this world! This was taken leaning the camera on the rim of the pot, no flash. There should be a dinosaur roaming the landscape beneath it.

Of course, it sort of reminds me of knitting.