Thursday, December 24, 2015

It's Christmas Eve, babe

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care. You can see we need to go out and get more wood. And we should clean out the ashes! My pile of knitting on the left...

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very wonderful 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Another winter solstice comes

My Temperature Scarf is done!

It should, I suppose, be called the Temperature Cowl now.  

Some have called it "garish," and some have called it "nice." 

I like it and it is certainly warm! 

What I have used/have left: 
Darkest blue, for -15ºC and lower: used 25g, have 25 left
bright blue for -10 to -14: used 26g, have 24 left
pretty variegated icy colours for -4 to -9: used 40g, have 10 left
green for -3 to +3: used 92g, have 8 left
green variegated for 4 to 10: used 87, have 13 left
yellow variegated for 11 to 15: used 74g, have 26 left
yellow/orange for 16 to 20: used 71g, have 29 left
orange variegated for 21 to 27: used 61g, have 39 left
and red for 28 and above: used 30g, have 20 left

I needed two skeins of the yarn for everything from -3ºC to 27ºC. Most for -3 to +3!

I'd love to see what other places need. Hmm, when we retire to Vancouver, I'll do another one, but in laceweight yarn!

This thing is huge.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Done doodling

I finished this up a few days ago, sewed in all the ends, blocked it nicely. You will notice that I didn't end up doing the leaf edging. I thought I could get it to work on the wavy edge, because Stephen West does suggest doing a few rows of garter before casting off. But in fact the width of the knitted-on edging didn't work in the dips of the knitting; everything got squashed together too much. Maybe if I had stuck with it and blocked it, I could have got it to work, but I decided that perhaps I'd best just do what the designer told me to.

 Now you get lots of detail pics:

The very end

The long cable up one edge

A wee bit of the long wavy edge

The lovely wavy edge

The whole thing laid out on the floor

Everyone seemed to do this pose

A bit cold for these outdoor shots

It'll be very warm, I think

I ran out of every scrap of yarn. I knew the red wouldn't last, and indeed I ended up using all the red, all the orange, and a bit of another reddish sock yarn you can see in the top picture here. I did four wedges of the green, interspersing a few orange short rows here and there, and had about a foot of the green left before the last increase row. I used the thrift-store yellow for that row and a couple beyond, before casting off in all the little tidbits of red and orange.

 I kind of like it, but have enough wool shawls! I am donating this to a group here in Toronto collecting woollies for refugees. It will certainly keep someone cosy and warm.

Monday, November 30, 2015

So much for November

That NaBloPoMo was semi-successful, I suppose. I got off track mid-month and never really got back on. I really should write something on the last day of the month, just to show I haven't given up altogether.

What I am doing these days is Doodling all the time!

600+ stitches crammed on a metre-long needle

I am still on the third clue, although the fourth was released last Friday. Sometime last week I wrote on Ravelry that I sure hoped the last clue wouldn't just be to finish off the 644 stitches with i-cord... and guess what, that's what it is. There is an optional flourish, which I don't like at all, so I am searching for a nice knit-on edging.

The two places I look for such things are probably the most used books in my collection. There are others I like to gawp at, dreaming of one day making something out of them, but the ones with patterns that I actually do use are Nicki Epstein's Knitting on the Edge  (Rav link) and Jan Eaton's 200 Knitted Blocks (Rav link).

My Doodler is meant to evoke the fall leaves that were so colourful when I was choosing yarn a month ago, so I think I am going to make a leaf border in my leftover scraps along the 644-stitch edge. We know from past experience that this could take forever, but somehow I think it will not make me as crazy as an i-cord edging would, and it will look way cooler.

Luckily my books agree on a simple, leafy border that should only take me a year or two to complete over 644 stitches.

Did I mention that there are six hundred and forty-four stitches here?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gingerbread space ships

Today we have the traditional gingerbread space shuttles and rocket ships.

I used this recipe, but I'm not icing and stacking them! Some go in the freezer for later, but some might just get eaten now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Golden Cup

Isn't that a book title?

One of my new old cups is gold!

Can you see the photographer's reflection?
Not real gold, of course, but bone china, covered with something golden and shiny.

You can see on the saucer the coating is worn away. Surely not from excessive use. I wish I knew more about how, when, where my mom came across these! It seems this cup is not ancient, but from the 1950s or 60s.

Still knitting away. The thing about a shawl is, you're almost always going to end up with 500-stitch rows, and you just have to resign yourself to them. Slog, slog, slog.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


My mom had a few nice china teacups. And now I have them. All different, most of them too small for a comfortable cuppa, but so pretty! I'll show you some individual ones as the days go by.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Second Clue

All set for the third set of instructions coming out tomorrow night. We have a piece completely surrounded by i-cord, and two clues to go.

I'm not too keen on the big cable, but it is certainly an interesting way to do things, and I do like the i-cord edge. I made two moderate twists instead of one humungous one for the last couple of cables, and I wish I'd done that for the whole length. Next time...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

About a month to go

The temperature scarf's year ends on December 20th. Or, indeed, when the spiral comes around to the level of the first row!

It's getting colder; I haven't used orange for a week or so. But the nights are still above freezing, so I don't know if I'll get any blues in before Dec. 20.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Was away, now I'm back

Hello out there in blogland.
I was away for almost a week in BC, visiting three sisters, two nieces, one nephew, one great-niece and one great-nephew, and a dad. And a spouse/in-law or two...

Historico-crafty-wise, I have a few photos for you.

This is my niece's son, Tomas. He is standing on a blanket/rug made from my 1970s poncho! My mom crocheted this originally as a square with a hole in for my head, but it is made of indestructible acrylic and when I stopped wearing it as a poncho, she repurposed it. It is lined with something warm and has been used as lap cover, crib blanket, rug, for generations, apparently... Quite a delight to see that in action!

This is my dad's scooter, complete with a nice warm scarf in the basket. A scarf I made in 2005, in fact. My brother-in-law used it for a while, I think. Nice to see that still being used, too. My dad is 97, and now he has a new pair of socks that should see him through to his 100th birthday at least. I seem to have not taken a picture of the completed pair, though I remember laying them out on the floor to admire them!

Enough for now. Tomorrow I hope to show you my MKAL progress. I did get quite a bit of knitting done!

Monday, November 09, 2015

Cabbages and gourd

I grew the cabbages, but not the gourd. The cabbages look nice, but they were supposed to be sufficiently cabbage-y to eat! The gourd is one of those crazy decorative things, and I think I will try to grow some of these next year, though I have no space for such things.

So crazy. I love how the colour seems to stretch to fit.

Off to the wild west tomorrow, and I think I am only taking my phone, so don't expect much in the way of blogging. If we are all very good, I might be able to pre-write some things to post while I am away!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

More on the mystery knitalong

In case you are wondering if you, too, should do the Stephen West knitalong, I will show you his enticing video. Who can refuse this guy?

I went out today and bought a new third colour, a sort of poopy green. (What, Mary is using green yarn, what a surprise!) I think the whole thing will be a tad eye-searing, but that's okay.

Still knitting, and my arm is objecting slightly. I think I won't get all the first clue done before I take off for BC on Tuesday morning, so I guess I know what I'll be knitting on the plane now. (I'm packing a sock as well, of course.)

And in other news, Elaine and Stephen both got new i-Phones! OMG. She's sitting here beeping and blurping at me, trying out new ringtones and so on. 

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The knitalong is under way

This is my Stephen West mystery shawl so far. Pretty jazzy, non? I was somewhat alarmed to see that lime green appear in real life, as it didn't really make an impression on me in the ball. I have a few more wedges to do in Clue 1, before Clue 2 comes out this Friday.

I think I will use the dark green, rather than the multi-coloured yarn, for the third colour. The multi seems too wimpy now!

I can't wait to see how this piece progresses!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Another new treasure

Yesterday I showed you some of our garbage-picking prizes, and today we get the little rug I found on our second pass by the pile.

It appears to be handmade. It's nicely backed, and you can see it's been walked on and is a bit worn. 

It is a real delight, but I think the place for it in my house is in the basement in front of the washing machine. I shall admire it weekly!

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Garbage picking with the rich

This morning I walked up to Wychwood Park with my neighbour Barb's exercise class. There was not much puffing and panting, since we just strolled from house to house, talking about architecture and history and looking at the gorgeous trees. (I thought I didn't have my phone with me, but it turned out I did. Oh well, no photos of that today.)

It was garbage day, and the bins were out on the street for pickup. We passed one house that had boxes of stuff: paintings in frames, a vase, and a cardboard box containing wrapped crystal glasses, in the Pinwheel pattern. (Another of our number said that when she got married in 1966, she chose this as her wedding crystal pattern; this is what I call the "old ladies' exercise class"...)

Soon we were doing our tour of the neighbourhood lugging souvenirs -- luckily one woman grabbed a suitcase out of the pile and we were able to stash most of the glasses in that. My bag got used to carry these ones, but I shall give them to Barb, who aims to get them to a church bazaar. I might ask to keep a couple, just because!

Imagine putting these out -- what if the garbage truck had got there before the garbage-picking old ladies' exercise class?! We figure someone had died and the heirs are just emptying the house.

On our way back, we stopped by this house once more so someone could see if the vase was still there. It had gone, but some new things had been added to the pile. I'll show you tomorrow what else I got!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Sock yarn stories

This time two years ago, I was reviewing my sock yarn stash to imagine all the things I would be knitting with it. I am embarrassed to say, not much has happened with those specific bits of sock yarn in the intervening years.

The one bright note is that the last yarn in that post, the Kroy FX, is very nearly a pair of socks. Any day now.

Two of them, the Sock Ease and the Lang Jawoll Cotton, are being used in my Stephen West Doodler, starting November 6th! Yikes, that is Friday!

Of course I look forward to making zebra-striped socks! Maybe next year...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

My mitts match my environment

I was out for a walk the other day, and had to keep stopping to take pictures of my mitten and all the golden greeny things it went with. 

Monday, November 02, 2015

Après Hallowe'en traditions

innocents awaiting their fate
Last night we had our usual neighbourhood Pumpkin Patch in the park. This year, Elaine got to be the one wandering around with a big lighter and a handful of candles, topping things up. 

You've seen this all before, in 2011, and the aftermath from 2009. Things have progressed so that we don't just heap them up in a corner of the park; Elaine and her gang had to toss them all into dumpsters. 

This year's scariest pumpkin: 

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The first of November

This is, of course, the day after Hallowe'en. My kids are too old for trick or treating, but Stephen and I like to sit on the front porch and see all the kids go by, and some of our neighbours do get pretty fancy in their decorations. The weather was not bad; it didn't rain till after about 8:30, and we had run out of candy by then. (And we didn't get any influx of candy from the kids, either, so we are presently bereft.)

I do have one thing to show you: Arthur, back from university for a week, went out to play D&D and of course, needed a wizard's robe. One thing he likes is finding weird and wonderful secondhand shirts, so he got a bunch of them and fashioned a wizard's robe, complete with hood and big swoopy sleeves. (Do not call it a nightgown; he doesn't like that.)

There are some skulls for scariness, Obama looking wistfully off into the future, and a tuxedo front. One sleeve has the art from TRex's Electric Warrior (it pained me to see that cut up, but it was a size small) and the other is a Blackberry shirt which says Be Bold. I believe the hood had some inconsequential purple words on it.

It was fun to see him just go to the sewing machine and whip it up, cutting here and there and somehow making all the bits fit together.

I will try to blog every day this month. One down, 29 to go.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The end of October

I recently realised that not only have I put aside my sweater to knit these socks, and this time last year I put aside my Kaffe Fassett squares to knit a sweater, but once I finish the socks I cannot get back to anything, because I have signed up for the Stephen West mystery knitalong.

It will be a shawl, and it needs three colours of fingering weight yarn. Of course I have three colours of fingering weight yarn lying around the house, so I found my colours in about five minutes.

I had these four to chose from, and I think I will do the yellow, the red (with a bit of orange just in case) and the multi-green. Because it is a mystery KAL, we have no idea about shape, colour placement, stitches used... so it seems sort of silly to get too stressed about it, but people are going to great lengths to chose between leventy-million colours of fancy-pants yarn. Heck, I haven't even made a swatch! (ha ha, make a swatch...?)

So, I have a bit more than half a sock left to knit, the KAL starts on the 6th and I go out to BC on the 10th. Will the KAL be sufficient for plane knitting, or do I need to get Action back in play as well? We shall see. But for now, my November plan is to knit this mysterious shawl, then in December I will pick up some abandoned project and finish it! I might even do a half-assed NaBloPoMo again, but I am out of town for a while in the middle of the month, so I don't expect to post every day. (What a plan: knit something, maybe blog.)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plus ça change...

I have had to put Action aside. No action on Action right now, because I have a Very Important Pair of socks to make. So, I am doing my best.

Meanwhile, we are coming up to election day in Canada.

Very nerve-wracking, because I am following both my main candidates on Twitter, and they are both so keen and upbeat, so I imagine that the race is close. Apparently, according to some polls, it is not close at all. According to some polls, the NDP will be more or less wiped off the Toronto map, which would be very sad. Justin Trudeau is not his dad, for sure, but at this point anything is better than our present Prime Minister. So, we learn all tomorrow.

Imagine how wracked my nerves would be if I cared about baseball! The Toronto Blue Jays were good in the 90s, but have done nothing much lately. This year, however, they have made it... to something... not sure, but people are very excited and if they don't win tomorrow, they will be eliminated and the Toronto sports fans will be, yet again, cast into the depths of despair. But they are used to it...

And that's all that's happening around here. Soon, rejoicing or rioting, and we have no way of knowing which it will be.

Oh, and sock knitting.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Thinking of Christmas and beyond

People on Ravelry are already starting the "how much to knit for Christmas" conversations. I am not planning on knitting very much for Christmas, but I did get a bit nervous because right after Christmas is New Years and all those lists and goals!

Last January's leftovers still include the following:
  1. Malabrigo scarf
  2. Botticelli
  3. Temperature scarf. This is ongoing and won't be finished till Dec 20, 2015.
  4. Those Kaffe Fassett squares. A finite project, one would think, but you know what happens when my attention is diverted.
  5. I have a number of bits of a blanket that have to be dealt with. I was going along just fine, and then some breeze blew me off course. 
  6. Sunday Best
I've decided that the blanket bits and the Sunday Best will get mashed together somehow. But not much action has taken place. So, really, the list is only five things long, right?

The Kaffe squares are still languishing, though I am keen whenever I think of them. 

Botticelli... This will become my morning bit of knitting when the Temperature Scarf is finished. Boring, just needs a bit of doing a day and it'll get done. Same with the Malabrigo, but I have to do that all in one fell swoop to lessen the fluff-sneeze factor. 

But first I shall finish Action. I'm on the second sleeve, but have only done a quarter of the body. For Christmas, for me? 

Friday, September 25, 2015

The last of the TIFF posts

TIFF is over for another year. I was really pleased with my movies over all this year; hardly a moment's disappointment.

Friday I did two documentaries: Women He's Undressed and the Return of the Atom.

Women's He's Undressed is the story of the Australian designer Orry-Kelly, who came to New York and ultimately Hollywood in the 30s and 40s, and beyond, and who won three Academy Awards for his costume design. The movie also talked about changing attitudes towards homosexuality in Hollywood; Orry-Kelly lived with Archie Leach/Cary Grant in New York and was hurt when Grant did the "get married, pretend to not be gay" schtick.

Of course, lovely fashions throughout!

Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Orry-Kelly dresses

The Return of the Atom was about building a nuclear power plant in Finland, the first to be built in the West since the Chernobyl disaster. I thought there would be more about the aftermath of that event, but really, it was mostly about the building. If you watch the trailer at the link above, you will see lots of time-lapse pictures of cranes and concrete and men working... The movie could have been at least 10 minutes shorter if they'd been more restrained with the time-lapse. This was my least favourite of the festival; I just found it kind of boring!

The next day I got up at the crack of dawn to see a movie I couldn't even remember anything about. I'd had to swap a ticket that someone had given me, and just looked in my screening schedule for something that fit. I'd starred this one sometime before, so figured I must have thought it looked good at some point! 

It was a Northern Irish film called A Patch of Fog. Wow. It concerns a man who is an author, professor, TV personality and shoplifter. He gets caught in the first few minutes of the movie by a security guard with psychological problems of his own. Very engrossing! He's gonna kill him. No, wait, he's gonna kill him. Oh, suicide! The ending is perfect, and not quite what I'd expected. 

Saturday afternoon's movie was Families, a French movie with Mathieu Amalric. It was light and funny and pretty good, in a French-family-farce sort of way. Silly plot involving several generations, Shanghai, French small towns, old wills and so on. Spoiler alert: they all live happily ever after.

Finally, Sunday morning, I saw Heart of a Dog by Laurie Anderson. Again, not what I'd expected, but then, when did Laurie Anderson ever do what one expects? It is a movie about death and life and art and 9/11 in New York. I love her voice, and she narrates the whole thing, so while one is being touched by the stories, one is also being seduced by her voice. A perfect finish to my festival!

And really, next year, I am not going to see 12 movies in eight days!

Friday, September 18, 2015

A mid-festival look at more movies

When last we spoke, I was just going off to see the Dressmaker. Very wonderful and funny and rather dark at the same time. Kate Winslet and Judy Davis were marvellous, and there was this young guy we could have done without, but he was pretty, too.

Hugo Weaving played a small-town policeman with a penchant for silks, so he and Kate get along just fine. It was a very entertaining movie, surprising towards the end, and full of gorgeous fashions and nasty people.

My next movie was Anomalisa, an animated adaptation of a kind of odd stage production. In the original play, the three actors sat on the stage and said their lines, but it was sort of like a radio play in that there wasn't actual action. So the movie had action, by large puppets! And although there is a normal-sized cast of characters, there are still only the three voice actors: a male lead, female lead and the other fellow played everyone else. Said to have the best sex scene at the festival by one in the know... Interesting, and somehow gripping although there are giant muppets on the screen.

Yesterday I saw two movies. In the morning I had lighthearted fun; suspenseful thriller in the afternoon.

My Internship in Canada was hysterically funny and visually beautiful. An independent MP in northern Quebec finds himself with a Haitian intern who reads Jean-Jacques Rousseau; loggers and miners and Algonquin are variously blockading the few roads in his enormous riding; and an important vote in Parliament puts him at the centre of the action. Funny and a delightful look at Canadian politics. The aerial pictures of Quebec are worth the price of admission alone, and the Haitian subplot is also most entertaining!

I wore my Tofino tsumani-warning T-shirt to the Wave. A mountainside is likely to fall into the fjord, and some signs indicate that it will fall very soon. The geologist is a bit too detail-oriented for his colleagues, but guess what -- he's right. Danger, danger! The effects are great, the suspense is very suspenseful. My only quibble is the usual time-stretching that happens in these movies. They have ten minutes to get to higher ground, but a 100-minute movie to make. The director popped up on stage before the film and told us that this movie had been playing in Norway for three weeks and 500,000 people had seen it, out of a national population of 5 million. Wow.

Three more days; five more movies. Will she make it??

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TIFF 2015 first round-up

I've been seeing some movies. Once again this year I started out with the intention of being moderate and not letting movie-going interfere with the back-to-school family fussing. And once again I find myself seeing two movies in a day, not being home when school gets out, throwing together dinner.


So far I have seen three movies, none of which I have actually paid for! I won free tickets for a show on Sunday of The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. Wonderful, wonderful! We got great music, and the stories of several of the musicians who make up the Silk Road Ensemble, from China, Iran, Syria, Galicia and all points even remotely connected. The thing I like best about the film festivals here is the opportunity to see the directors and stars on the stage after the show for Q&A sessions with the audience. After a bit of chit-chat, the moderator said he'd noticed a cello backstage, and we got a teeny weeny live concert by Yo-Yo Ma to finish the afternoon off. Just stunning, all around. The only standing ovations so far: one for the movie and one for the music.

A friend gave me a ticket to a "suspenseful crime drama" that I thought was not really to my taste, so I swapped the ticket, picking instead Colonia, with Emma Watson. She's so sweet, what could go wrong? Since I hadn't seen a trailer for it, I didn't quite appreciate that a movie set in Pinochet's Chile was going to be just as suspenseful and violent as the other, but it was very good. At times I had to restrain myself from clawing at the arm of the fellow sitting next to me, and I noticed he was leaning forward and clutching his hair as well. I had to leave before the Q&A of this one; just had time to learn that the actors who played the horrible people were really very nice. Acting! (I almost giggled when Emma Watson drops down a trapdoor. She is very good, but sometimes one just sees Hermione.)

Then I dashed off to see another show I'd won tickets for, the Meddler with the great and wonderful Susan Sarandon. This was a very funny and awkward and kind look at someone's mom who doesn't really know what to do with herself after her husband's death. A great antidote to the stress of the morning's movie.

Why we should leave some things to the professionals:

My best picture of Susan Sarandon, JK Simmons, Jason Ritter and director/writer Lorene Scafaria

This afternoon I am off to the Dressmaker, a movie I actually paid full price for. Looks fab; will report in.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The longest reigning monarch

(I stole this from the Daily Mail, but it is originally from Vogue.)

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.

News Flash: Two of my scarves are showcased on this blog about the varieties of sky scarves!

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.