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.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Posting TMI*, late in the day

My mind has not been on writing witty things for the blog lately. It is just a bit more than a year since my operation, so today I had to go get checked out. Yesterday and today I was totally concerned with my internal organs, which, I am pleased to say, are just fine, actually.

Maybe I can find a piece of medical humour for you... 

from here

Close enough, and totally true!

*TMI = too much information

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Knitted and crocheted song and dance

Here's a bit of knitted silliness for you all. I think I came across this via Twitter or something. I just wish they'd made a "making of" video at the same time! Imagine...

Seventeen Evergreen - Polarity Song from Lucky Number Music on Vimeo.

As an aside, every day, I publish my blog, and then have to go back to add the nablopomo tag. Sheesh, I'll try harder tomorrow!

Monday, November 07, 2011

14 miscellaneous ideas today

  1. It is 49 days before Christmas, I understand.
  2. The grocery store is lightly decorated, and the baking section is fully stocked.
  3. In Canada, we have nothing else to think of between Halloween and Christmas, unlike the Americans, who have Thanksgiving to divert them.
  4. A friend and I were discussing shortbread. I insist on brown sugar, while she is not offended by icing sugar, which of course, doesn't really make real shortbread like brown sugar does. 
  5. I had to make some proper Christmas shortbread to prove it. 
  6. One cup of brown sugar, two cups of butter, four cups of flour. Knead it up, chill in logs, slice and bake for 30 minutes or so in a slow oven, about 275ºF.
  7. Well, then I had whole lot of shortbread, and it is not really Christmas yet.
  8. So I put a couple of dozen pieces in a box and mailed them off to my parents.
  9. I specially stopped on my way to the post office to buy some real Earl Grey tea, since it is my dad's favourite.
  10. I forgot to put the tea in the package, so now what? They will have an imperfect tea party.
  11. I also stopped by at the library, and got a book by Martha Grimes, whose books I hardly ever read. Any opinions? I think of her as churning them out, but maybe I am mistaken.
  12. Oh, dear, it seems it's a sequel to something. Maybe I have to rethink this. It's called Dakota.
  13. I also got Hoopla: the art of unexpected embroidery. It looks pretty entertaining. I will read that tonight. 
  14. I am still knitting on Botticelli.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A different kind of dog sweater

This is Somebody's Dad, in a great "vintage" picture sweater. The noble hunting doggy and the crossed guns.

(More examples of phone photography; not very impressive. And the room wasn't very brightly lit.)

Those mismatched lines on the shoulders would have driven me nuts if I'd made this. I was going to add a "but..."  here, but I really can't. Yeah, I find them jarring. But I love the dog and his shadow!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

My new phone has a camera

It is so fun to have a camera-phone, don't you think?

One feels like a spy, or something. Somehow it is more important, taking a picture with a phone -- so urgent I can't stop to deal with my real camera.

The very first picture I took with my phone was at Peace, Love and Misunderstanding at the film festival. Up there is Bruce Beresford! And the cute little guy, whatshisname... Nat Wolff.  He said that he really liked doing this movie because he got to pretend to get stoned with Jane Fonda, and who wouldn't, really? Thing #1 I learned here: the camera makes a terrible shutter noise! Luckily, Arthur figured out how to turn it off.

Then I took a bunch of pictures that made it clear to me that this is not a very super camera. Things across the street are too blurry. Lighting has to have attention paid to it. And so on...

But, it did capture the lovely purpleness of this boss car. It was a Dodge Charger, purply-pink, and for a couple of days it was parked down the street. This, as you might guess, is where you put the gas in. See me and Elaine reflected!

And this morning, just before the thing beeped at me to tell me I had too many pictures and needed to download them off the phone, I took this! The colours of this bush were amazing, all the way from pale yellow through to brightest red. The sky was clear and blue and it was all just gorgeous.

So, like some sort of superhero (or big dork, whatever) I stopped on my way to get groceries to take a picture of the pretty bush.

When I got home, indeed, I had to get Arthur to mutter encouraging things while I learned to get the pictures onto the computer! Oh, I'd best be sure to keep that cable somewhere safe...

Friday, November 04, 2011

I need a November square

My block-a-month group is using these last months of 2011 to finish up blankets, but my blanket needs a few more squares, so I must soldier on alone and find a square to knit!

This is called Eyelet and Flame Chevron, from the Vogue Knitting stitch-a-day calendar for 2010. Clever placement of yarnovers and decreases; about the right size without a lot of fiddling; all one colour this month, I think; no cables!

(Indoor/no-flash photo off somewhat glossy paper, with photographer's shadow and inexpertly boosted colour!)

Now, I am not going to just jump right in and knit this, though I have vague plans to get it done shortly. I have started the other front of the Botticelli, and I do love it so. Tomorrow night I have to go hang around while Arthur plays Dungeons & Dragons, so perhaps I'll take the square then.

(An aside: if you had a pattern-a-day calendar and were leaving your cosy home to knit, would you rip out the page you were knitting from, risking losing it and messing up the calendar; carry the whole block of pages, a desk calendar from last year, around with you, looking a bit crazy; or copy the 24-row pattern out on a piece of paper? The block is not really convenient to knit from, as it doesn't stay open to the desired page without a cup of tea or something to weigh it down. Not a great design, in my mind.)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

A few pictures of stuff

This is my little baby avocado. It just sprouted a while ago, and you can see it is taking after its pal, growing super tall and not at all bushy. I think they don't get enough light, and just stretch and stretch trying to reach the sky.  Poor deluded things.

Another crazy horticultural marvel... Long, long ago (what, 5 or 6 months ago?) I scattered some seeds that were supposed to grow flowers that would attract butterflies. Well, it is now November, and my one cosmos flower is finally in bloom. It is very lovely, but I rather expected more of them, and perhaps a few months ago! Who knows what is going on?

Now, finally, a second piece of knitting. The left front of the Botticelli is done, and (phew) it is the same length as the back. (It's kind of rolled up at the bottom, but really, it's good.)

I really love the "wrong" side of striped stocking stitch. For a while, I considered making it the "right" side, and so didn't weave my ends in. I think, though, smooth side out. One more front to do, and then we tackle the sleeves. I'm still fretting about matching the stripes at the top of the sleeve, thinking about a little stripey cuff and mostly plain brown sleeve?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

After-Halloween stuff

Our neighbourhood association organizes a pumpkin patch party in the park every November 1. We bring our jack o'lanterns and set them all in a line along a path, and they look cool.

That's it, really!

We had our usual good weather on Halloween. It's customary for us to sit on the front porch with a glass of wine, watching the kids go by and giving out treats. The costumes are always interesting! This year, way more Harry Potters than one would expect, plus Angry Birds!

Tomorrow: knitting, I'm almost sure!