Saturday, 27 September 2008

Back To School

Today I spent all day taking two knitting classes from Fiona Ellis. This morning we focused on the Celtic Cable. And we had a choice of a couple of swatches to knit. I chose this one because it was only 19 stitches wide and I did two repeats.

It is called 'Bonnie' and is the basis for her sweater featured on the cover of the premiere issue of the new online knitting magazine, "The Twist Collective".

We also got to see the pictured sweater 'in the flesh'.

Although I've knit oodles of cables, particularly recently with the Must Have Cardigan and the Great American Aran Afghan, I always enjoy hearing Fiona talk about the processes she goes through when designing her creations. She often uses asymmetry and thus is challenged to balance the design. On close inspection of the Bonnie sweater, you will note that each sleeve is different - carrying on the pattern of the design closest to it.

Fiona also showed us a couple of books on Celtic knots that she used for inspiration. One was the 'Celtic Knotwork Handbook' by Sheila Sturrock. The other was 'Celtic Inspirations' by Lyn Webster Wilde.

This afternoon we did a Fair Isle class with Fiona. She talked about Colour Theory and the definitions of hue, value, saturation, tint, tone and shade of colours. She also informed us about various colour schemes, for example, monochromatic, analogous, complimentary, etc.

We then knit a swatch selecting from charts she provided using colours of our choosing.

I practiced carrying the yarn l o o s e l y behind my work. I also realized that if I use needles a size larger than what I'd use when doing straight stockinette, the result has a pretty good amount of lateral stretch. In the past, many fair isle items I've knit have been too tight.

Tonight I got somewhat inspired to get all my knitting books in one place. I really want to remove a lot of the clutter in the downstairs of the house so the house will be somewhat presentable for Thanksgiving.

We traditionally have had a capon for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners as Skip doesn't particularly like turkey, especially re-heated turkey in the days following the festive meal. However, this evening he said he wouldn't mind getting turkey this year. Yippee!! I'm going to try and find a little one for our group of diners. And the house will reek of roasted turkey like Mom's house used to smell - mmmmmm!

I also got some 'Spirit of Christmas' books out of the library and am inspired to do some serious Christmas baking this year for the first time EVER. It sort of got by me last year, my first Christmas as a retiree. I can also make up some gift bags of cookies and treats.

In three months Christmas will be over and we'll be looking forward to our two month sojourn in South Padre Island, Texas in the new year.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Norwegian Woods

I finished the Norwegian Woods scarf last night and blocked it today. The finished size is 50" x 25". I'd definitely knit this design again but would do it on larger needles to make it just a bit bigger.

Here are the winter branches.

The budding twigs...

Emerging leaves and leaf and bower.

Ta da!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Red Scarf Project

I was reading today's Knitting Daily e-mail that I subscribe to from Interweave Knits and read the editor's article on the Orphan Foundation of America's (OFA) Red Scarf Project. Foster-care youth who have gone to college receive a Valentine's Day Care Package containing a hand-made red scarf (or any shade of red - or any colour for that matter that is unisex and reversible). The first year 3,500 scarves were collected and the next year 15,000 were received for distribution. Care packages are sent two other times of the year - late September and April (before exams). These youth continually tell the OFA how such gifts of support east their loneliness and anxiety, and boost their drive to succeed in school.

What a wonderful way to encourage a parentless college student and let them know they are supported in their pursuit of post-secondary education. I now know where my red alpaca Palindrome Scarf will be going once I'm finished.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Sleeping In

I guess galloping about Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island last week took its toll. I slept in 'til almost noon yesterday and until 9:30am today. Wow! But I feel rested now.

I'm pleased to report that not only did I not gain weight on the trip, I lost a pound and this morning, I saw an even smaller number. Woo hoo!!! This meal plan is awesome!!! I'm not even really tempted to cheat and eat something totally outrageous. The worst infraction of my new dietary rules was eating a piece of garlic (white) bread with my whole wheat pasta. I also had 2 scoops of Cows ice cream during the week. And today, I ate 1/2 of a bun (also white bread) of my pulled pork sandwich. I'm very pleased that I'm continuing to head to my goal which now is about 10 pounds away.

I tried on some clothes today that I haven't been able to even get on for a couple of years. One of the golf skirts fits great and the other will be perfect when I lose a couple more pounds. Most of my pants and shorts are rather loose now. I may have to buy another pair of jeans when we go to PA and NY in a couple of weeks.

This afternoon Skip and I went to 'Jersey Boys' at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. It was excellent! I hadn't realized how many of the famous tunes had been done by them. The show outlined the backgrounds of each singer and how they came to create "The Four Seasons". Skip really enjoyed it and realized he'd never been to a show where her knew all the tunes.

Tomorrow I plan to hit the gym and do the weights and then get some cardio in.

I continue to soldier on with the Norwegian Woods scarf. I'm into the repetition of Chart C. I think there will be enough yarn.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Trip Summary

These were our routes on our Maritime tour: (click on the day to see the map)

Day 1 - September 8 - Halifax, Amherst, Mt. Whatley, Hopewell Rocks, Shediac

Day 2 - September 9 - Shediac, Murray Corners, Cavendish

Day 3 - September 10 - Anne of Green Gables day - touring Cavendish and into Charlottetown for "Anne of Green Gables - the Musical"

Day 4 - September 11 - Cavendish to Antigonish

Day 5 - September 12 - Antigonish, Cabot Trail, Sydney

Day 6 - September 13 - Sydney to Halifax

Day 7 - September 14 - Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Peggy's Cove, Halifax

We put about 23oo km on the car.

Home Again

Saturday morning we got up early and drove to the Fortress at Louisbourg. Then we headed for Halifax arriving in the early evening. We got a suite at a Holiday Inn Express by the airport for our last two nights. It was very comfortable and cozy.

Yesterday we drove to Lunenburg, the home of the Bluenose II - which was not in port. But I did see the Fishermen's Tribute to all fishermen of Lunenburg lost at sea from the 1800s to the present. Their names are inscribed on the triangular pillars which are arranged on the points of a compass rose.

Then we headed down the road 8km to picturesque Mahone Bay. There is a lovely yarn shop there called Have a Yarn which had the best selection of Fleece Artist and Briggs and Little yarns I had ever seen.

After that was Peggy's Cove but first we visited the memorial to those lost in the crash of SwissAir flight 111 on September 2, 1998.

Here's the view of the lighthouse at Peggy's Cove from the memorial.

We had to retrace our steps back to Upper Tantallon to get gas before heading to Halifax. Once there we saw Theodore the Tugboat in its berth and strolled along the boardwalk along the waterfront.

I had a Cows Peanut Butter Cup Cup cup of ice cream and then we had a nice dinner before heading back to the hotel to pack.

Our flight this morning was uneventful. We took off at 10:35am Atlantic time and arrived in Toronto at 11:40am. We bid farewell to Francey who was taking the monorail to Terminal 3 to catch her later Delta flight back to Atlanta. I arrived home by 1:30 and unpacked and visited with Skip and got caught up on the happenings at home while I was gone. I made it to my 5:45pm Zumba (Latin dance) class at the gym.

Tomorrow I'll do some shopping and just enjoy being back home. :-)

Friday, 12 September 2008

New Scotland

We've been very busy this week. We spent Monday until yesterday on Prince Edward Island. We took several scenic drives and stopped in at interesting looking places. Yesterday we visited the Belfast Mini-Mill. Vickie had recommended it so we stopped in there on the way to the ferry. We got a tour of the mill in operation and I bought 2 skeins of superwash sock yarn and 2 skeins of merino/nylon sock yarn.

The ferry ride was very pleasant. We've been blessed with excellent weather all week - beautiful sunny skies. Last night we stayed in Antigonish, NS and had a lovely dinner at a family restaurant.

This morning we drove through the St. Francis Xavier University campus and then headed to Cape Breton Island and the Cabot Trail. We arrived at Sydney, NS.

Tomorrow we're going to Louisbourg and then will drive to Halifax.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Green Gables Day

This morning we toured Green Gables. It is in a lovely setting with lots of flower beds and heritage plants. Then we went over to the homestead where Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her first four books. All that is left on the site is the stone foundation of the house and the big apple tree that was her inspiration. After Lucy's mother died, her father brought her to this site to be cared for by her mother's brother and his wife. The woman who gave her little talk today is the wife of the great-grandson of the man who cared for Lucy. She told us lots of interesting information about how "Anne of Green Gables' was inspired and published. For example, there were 5 rejections from publishers until 1908 when it was finally published.

After that we drove to North Rustico to have lunch and explore a couple of knitting and yarn shops. At the Rustico Bay Wool and Sweater Co., I bought a hank of Briggs and Little sock yarn and a ceramic sheep. Down the road at the North Shore Island Traditions Past and Present Rug Shop, I bought a hank of Fleece Artist seacell yarn and 3 pairs of wooden knitting needles including two pairs of swing needles.

We then drove around the Blue Heron Route before ending up at Summerside. We visited the Piping College (that's bagpiping) and then headed to Charlottetown to walk around a bit. I bought a pair of wooden knitting needles and a very unique shawl pin. Then we had dinner at a jazz bar and took in the 7:30pm presentation of "Anne of Green Gables - the Musical". It was delightful.

We drove the 45km back to Cavendish through the middle of the island guided by the trusty GPS.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Another Old Ancestral Home

Today we left Shediac, NB (the 'Lobster Capital of the World') and drove to Little Shemogue/Murray Corners to find the graves/headstones of my grandfather's parents. The 'Murray Corners Pioneer Cemetery' was not easily seen from the road but finally after asking at a provincial park nearby, we were directed to a grassy path to an old cemetery just a short distance from the Northumberland Strait. Once there we found the headstones in fairly short order and a bunch of other relatives listed on the geneology list I had.

Then we had lunch back a bit down the road. We couldn't get there directly because of a washout of the road so had to go in about a 15km round about circuit to get there and then again to get to the bridge. We poked around Gateway Village and bought matching coral PEI zip hoodies.

The shop keeper was delighted to take our picture and told us she had a lot of sisters. Then we made our way to Cavendish using the GPS zig-zagging northward.

We reserved a 2 bedroom cottage with a pull-out sofa. It is SO cute! There is an itty bitty gas fireplace with a wall-mounted flat screen TV above it. There is a fully equipped kitchen with stove, fridge, microwave and dishwasher.

Tomorrow we'll tour Green Gables and other scenic spots in the centre of the island. Tomorrow evening we're taking in "Anne of Green Gables - the Musical" in Charlottetown.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Old Ancestral Home

Today is our first day in the Maritimes. From Stanfield Airport we headed north and had lunch in Amherst, NS. Then we made our way to Mt. Whatley, the ancestral home of my maternal grandmother. The trusty GPS directed us right to the cemetery where I knew my great- grandparents were buried. As we got out of the car I spotted their headstone.

Cool! I also found Aunt Emma's headstone. She was Grandma's sister and after Grandma died, she married Grandpa. So I got to see the headstone of a person I actually knew.

After that we headed to Moncton and then down the west side of the Bay of Fundy to visit the Hopewell (Flowerpot) Rocks. It was close enough to low tide that we could walk on the bottom of the bay.

After heading back to Moncton, we headed east to Shediac, NB - the "Lobster Capital of the World".

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Ready to Go

I'm all packed and ready to head to Lorna's. Francey flew into Toronto from Atlanta earlier today. We will spend (some of) the night at Lorna's and rise at an ungodly hour to make our 6:25am flight to Halifax. We'll be on the ground there by about 9:30am. After we pick up our rental car, we'll head northward to NB and then make our way across the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island (or Spud Island, as I like to call it).

I have remembered all my electronic devices, GPS, iPod, ASUS laptop, camera and all the required USB and power cords. I packed very light(ly?) and my suitcase only weighs 13kg - well below the 20kg allowance. My backpack is loaded with knitting projects and other essentials.

I'm taking three knitting projects: the Norwegian Woods shawl, a pair of grey 2x2 ribbed socks and a modified Fiona Ellis scarf called 'Practice Makes Perfect'. It's a cable exercise which will get me primed for the class I'm taking with her on September 27 at Kniterary. I'm using nice, squishy 70%merino/30%wool SRK Perth yarn in a lovely bright red.

As the pattern calls for 5 balls and I only have 3, I am casting on 40 stitches instead of 60 and will knit 8 stitches of moss stitch on each side (instead of 6) and only do the 24-stitch pattern once instead of twice as the pattern calls for.

It's time for dinner and then I'll be on my way.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Sooo - eeee!!

Today, Skip and I went to the Oshawa Ribfest at Lakeview Park. It's a festive and often soggy affair (due to rainfall) where several BBQ rib companies compete for our gastronomic affections. It's free and outdoors. We ordered a modest lunch - pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw and beans. There was at least a pound of pork in each of our sandwiches. We brought more than half of the lunch home and we'll enjoy it another time.

I've been making good progress on my Norwegian Woods scarf. Here's a closeup of the 'Winter Branches' portion.

There are 4 transition rows of straight stocking stitch with yarn over increases at each end of the pattern and I've started the 'Budding Twigs' portion. That section will be followed by the 'Emerging Leaves' section and finally 'Leaf and Bower' before the last row where the beads are added before the cast off row. I'm still trying to find the right colour and size of beads. The scarf calls for 178 3mm or 8/O glass beads but I've exited from two stores empty-handed. I may end up not using beads at all.

I finally got outside to take some photos of the Angel Lace shawl in natural light.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

"No Problem is So Big That You Can't Throw Money At It"

Since March of 2007, when Skip, Scooter and I went on a Caribbean cruise, I have been gaining weight at an alarming rate. The food on the cruise was delicious and plentiful. That June, during Fiesta, the ethnic festival in Oshawa, Skip and I attempted to span the globe gastronomically. At the end of that month, I was feted several times in celebration of my retirement. Then the summer holidays began and we took several car trips, eating at wonderful restaurants all along the way. Every month after that, I was on some trip or other. And the weight crept up and up. I was much less physically active, now that I wasn't working, and I sat on my butt a lot whilst knitting. Being hormonally challenged at this 'time of my life' my metabolism had slowed tremendously.

In early June, I began a walking program - walking between 30 - 40 min. per day at a fairly vigorous rate. I enjoyed it as I took the opportunity to listen to books and podcasts on my iPod. It improved my level of fitness. But after three weeks, I hadn't lost a pound.

In late June, I realized that everything I was wearing had gotten smaller. And then I saw a picture someone had taken of me. Oh. My. Goodness.

I realized I needed help.

So I went to my gym and signed up for a 6 week fat loss program ($$$$$) with guaranteed results - lose 9 - 12 pounds of fat OR trim 6 - 11 inches in total. The program consisted of half hour sessions three times a week with a trainer using the weight machines. There was also an excellent eating program (I don't like to call it a diet) incorporating high protein and fibre and low-ish fat and whole wheat carbs. Another feature was a list of acceptable meals which could be obtained at various fast food places. After each training session I was required to do 20 min. of cardio. My machine of choice was the elliptical trainer as I and 'the girls' don't like to run.

So here I am, at the end of my six week program. I have lost 8.2 lb. of fat and gained 1.4 lb. of lean muscle mass. I have lost 9 3/4 inches off my bust, waist and hips and 23.75" including all the other spots they measured. I have doubled my strength on most of the machines. And my clothes are looser. I am on my way. I am in control. I intend to continue to eat according to this program as my next goal is to lose 15 more pounds.

Stay tuned.

I blocked the Angel Lace Shawl today and took it to our Sit 'n Knit tonight where it made a big hit.

Click on the photo to get a closeup of the beads at each point.

I also started the Norwegian Woods scarf using the olive coloured Malabrigo Lace yarn.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I ♥ Lace

Yesterday, Suzanne, Lena and I went to the Sing-Along Mamma Mia! movie. We allowed lots of time for bad Labour Day traffic and arrived in lots of time to grab a bite to eat at Mr. Greek at Kennedy Common. When we got into the theatre, there were only about 20 people in the whole place. We didn't care, we belted out the songs following the subtitled lyrics karaoke-style. It was lots o' fun and I think both Suzanne and Lena enjoyed the diversion on the eve of a new school year.

This morning I awoke to a glorious, warm, sunny day. Skip headed off for his golf game and I headed to the gym. I only have one more personal training session and then I'll be on my own. My goal for next week while I'm on vacation in NB, NS and PEI is to not gain any weight. If I don't lose any, I can live with that but I sure don't want to gain any of it back. Francey's on Weight Watchers so the two of us will probably drive Lorna crazy with our specific dietary requirements.

This evening before I headed to Stitchin' Time at Hedgehog Stitchery, I finished the penultimate row on the Angel Lace Shawl. It was the row with beads so I used the crochet hook method to attach them. Someone of Ravelry directed me to this Knitty article on beading.

I hope to cast off the shawl after I post this.

I bought a skein of leafy green Malabrigo Lace at Kniterary. Now I'm looking for a lace scarf pattern to take to PEI with me.

I'm intrigued by the drama called the Republican National Convention. There has been one bizarre report after another: split-screen speeches with Hurricane Gustav; Sarah Palin's 17 year-old daughter's (Bristol's) pregnancy; announcement that the teenager will keep the baby and marry the baby's father; speculation that Sarah's 5-month-old (Trig) who has Down Syndrome may actually be her grandson (?); Joe Liebermann's crabby speech that is sure to piss off lots of undecided Democrats; tear gassing demonstrators - and this is only day 2! Sheesh! If McCain gets elected, I will just shake my head and wonder what the hell those people are thinking.

Tomorrow we head to Stratford to see "The Music Man" and have a visit with my high-school friend, Liz Brickenden Gowen, who plays bassoon in the pit orchestra as well as her regular gig with the Canadian Opera Company. I haven't seen Liz since 1970 but have heard of her through the years as she pursued music performance studies at U of T a year after I began my music education studies at Western (the centre of all learning in the universe).