Sunday, 31 May 2009

Wow! That Month Went Fast

I've been having fun at my self-imposed boot camp - visiting the gym 4+ times a week alternating between Zumba (Latin aerobic dancing) and BodyPump (weight-lifting) days. And finally the scale is showing my renewed physical activity.

Yesterday I finished the Hello Possums scarf with the Peacock Tail and Leaf pattern. Here it is in its unblocked state.
Blocking is next.

I also started a Branching Out scarf using testing some new Uruguayan Punta Yarns Kid Mohair Nylon (50/50) Hand Painted yarn. It feels lovely and will be a fairly quick knit. I hope to have it done by Thursday at noon - in time for my Thursday afternoon knitting group.

Like my pretty needles? They're KnitPicks Harmony wood; very sturdy and the tips are really pointy - perfect for lace knitting.

I will be teaching a series of 'knitting lace' classes in the fall so have several planned for demo purposes using a variety of yarns. I will be knitting a square Estonian-style scarf called Lehe in a grey lace weight yarn and will be selecting another pattern for yet another lace scarf using a very thin cranberry-coloured wool.

I have completed a couple of stealth projects and will post pics once they are mailed and received.

Skip and I been taking some time the last couple of Sundays to browse at car dealerships. We do it when the dealerships are closed so as not to have to deal with enthusiastic (desperate?) salespersons. Ideally we'd like to get a 2006 or newer mid-size sedan, hatchback or SUV with low kilometrage and in our price range. So far we're considering a brand new Hyundai Sonata or Santa Fe, several 2006 Subaru Foresters, a 2006 Toyota Camry SE, a 2006 Nissan Altima with only 40,000km and a 2006 Nissan X-Trail. We want a car that will be reliable, affordable and comfortable for our annual 7200km odyssey to and from Texas. This process could take a while. Fortunately we're not in a hurry and the prices will only go lower. Stay tuned.

And it will be June tomorrow.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Hello Possums!

I have been asked to knit a lace scarf from Nancy Bush's "Knitted Lace of Estonia" to be used as a store sample. We have decided on the Peacock Tail and Leaf scarf and I'm using Zealana Kiwi Lace Weight yarn. It's 40% NZ Merino, 30% Organic Cotton and 30% Possum and I'm using the Pounamu ('greenstone' in Maori) colourway (8). It is a lovely teal/turquoise colour and not green at all.

It is coming along quite nicely.

The weather these last few days has been lovely with temperatures in the high teens (Celsius). It is very much like the weather in South Padre Island in February. Only 8 more months 'til we return. Ahhhhh!

Friday, 22 May 2009

100 and 101!

Yesterday I posted my 100th and 101st projects on Ravelry. They were the two Drop Stitch Scarves (#13) from the Spring/Summer 2009 Vogue Knitting International magazine. Both projects are progressing quite nicely.

On Thursday afternoons I attend a knitting group which meets at a tea shop in Brooklin, north of Whitby at Campkin's of Wellingborough. It is a nice group of ladies who meet from 1pm 'til 3 and share knitting ideas and techniques. Of course, we show off our recently finished and current projects. Yesterday I was asked if I would knit a scarf for a local yarn shop from New Zealand possum lace weight yarn using one of the patterns from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. I'm quite intrigued about the Possom yarn. It seems possums were brought to New Zealand from Australia in 1837 to start a fur industry, however there are no natural predators. As a result, there are currently 70 million of the pesky critters - that's 20 for every man, woman and child - in the country. At the height of the fur trade, trappers killed 20 million possums in a year. But that did not make much of a dent in possum numbers.

Evidently, possum yarn is very soft and warm and looks and feels like cashmere. It won't pill or wrinkle and is anti-static. It's scale-free so it feels smooth and soft on the skin. It is the one of the two furs in the animal world that will not freeze; the other one being polar bear fur. In New Zealand it is spun with merino yarn to make a exceptionally good quality yarn of very good value.

One of the gals from the embroidery guild got some photos of the heart squares we've been working on. We could stitch any heart pattern using specific DMC floss colours and were given the square of fabric (so they'd all be the same). Here are a few of them:

They will make a very fine quilt, indeed.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Where Do I Start?

It has been busy the last week or so and I'll post birding photos another time. The exciting news is that I've completed a few projects and have started a few others.

The sock yarn baby cardigan is done.

Last week at the Sit 'n Knit at Kniterary I finished the Lace Ribbon Scarf.

It still needs blocking.

I also finished the Flower and Leaf Shawl and blocked it this morning.

And the first Monarch Butterfly caterpillar sock in the Leyburn pattern is done and the ribbing is finished on the second sock's cuff.

Tonight is the Trillium Embroidery Guild and I got the Quaker Heart square done and have decided to leave it as it is - 'j' less.

I managed to find the skein of silk yarn I had purchased at Needles and Pins in London and in fact, it is Alchemy Silk Purse. I had a few requirements for an appropriate pattern for the scarf I wanted to knit with it. As there are only 167 yd. the scarf had to be skinny and I felt it should be reversible. In order to optimize the length of the yarn I wanted some type of lace pattern and happened upon the Drop Stitch Scarf - #13 in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting International.

Last night I stayed up quite late test knitting it using some bamboo sock yarn. I wanted to become familiar with the pattern as it was written as I was not going to do all the repeats on the silk drop stitch scarf.

I'm so pleased with the test scarf that I'm going to complete it as well. The bamboo sock yarn is very soft and snuggly and my friend, Sue, who is allergic to wool will be the recipient of the test scarf when I finish it.

I cast on the silk one this morning.

The colour is 'citrine' and exactly matches one of the colours in my Chinese lamp shirt.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Stitching, Birding and Knitting

I was up late last night cross-stitching a square for a quilt for the Trillium Embroidery Guild. I had the sampler alphabet finished when I realized the pattern didn't have a 'u'. It looked kinda dorky so I had to pick out 'v', 'w' and 'x'. I then redesigned those letters inserting 'u' and restitched it. On the left is the original pattern and on the right is my modification.

Crap! Now that I look at it again, I realize the 'j' is missing, too! I think the designer was on crack. Maybe I can squeeze a little 'j' in somehow. Or maybe I'll just leave it. Rats!

One of our guild members died last year of cancer. Many of us are stitching squares which will be made into a quilt and then auctioned at a very chi chi poo poo fundraiser with the proceeds going to cancer research. We could pick any heart pattern for our 6' x 6' square and were given the fabric and were told which colours of DMC floss we could use. We couldn't use words but it was decided that alphabets are OK. It will be interesting to see what the quilt looks like once assembled. We think there will be about 30 squares once finished.

This morning I dragged myself out of bed and returned to Thickson Woods to see if I could get some pictures of birds. I didn't see a lot of them but did manage to get a few photos.

Northern Flicker colaptes auratus

Yellow Warbler dendroica petechia

Rose-breasted Grosbeak pheucticus ludovicianus

Great Horned Owl bubo virginianus

Tree Swallow tachycineta bicolor

Grey Catbird dumetella carolinensis

American Goldfinch carduelis tristis

I had to tear myself away to go to my weight-lifting class.

Last weekend was an Artist Studio tour that I didn't have a chance to see. When I realized one of my favourite local artists, Sharon Recalla, was on the tour, I sent her an e-mail asking about one of her pieces that I really liked - 'Michelangelo's Cat'. I hoped she had a print I could buy as the original had been sold some time ago. In her response, she thanked me and said there were no prints but that she had put something in the mail for me.

When I got home today, there was mail for me. Sharon had sent me a 4' x 6' photograph of 'Michelangelo's Cat' mounted on a half fold card.

YAY! I now have my very own copy which I can frame. It makes me smile every time I see it.

This evening was knitting guild. We practiced two-colour stranding using a colour in each hand - knitting continental with the left and 'throwing' with the right.

It's supposed to rain tomorrow so I guess I won't be going birding. Oh well, I'll just stay cozy inside and knit.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

WAY Behind

I'm way behind in my blogging for no particular reason.

Last week Skip and I went birding at Point Pelee National Park near Leamington, ON. Although we saw quite a few birds, there were not as many as one would expect during the spring migration. We took the tram to the tip of Point Pelee, the southernmost point in Canada.

It is just below the 42nd parallel.

We took a walking tour at Pelee the next morning with a birding guide.

Hey little fella! (He's a chipping sparrow)

And my one of my favourite signs of spring ...


For lunch, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo amid Mexican Mennonites in Leamington by eating at the Family Kitchen Restaurant.

Then we drove by the Big Tomato - the tourist information booth. There is a big Heinz processing plant in Leamington.

After lunch we went to Hillman's Marsh to use the spotting scope. Beside the marsh there were hundreds of black-bellied plovers resting up for the next leg of their migration. (click on the photo to see them hunkered down in the grass).

Knitterly speaking, yesterday I started a little cardigan for Christine's brand new baby girl, Charlotte. I am using pink On Your Toes sock yarn. I'm using a free pattern on Ravelry.

It will need a good blocking when I finish the knitting.

I'm mostly liking the new blog format I've been trying out, especially the fact that my photos have a nifty little frame around them and it's WAY easier to format in this template. Let me know what YOU think. The poll will be open for two more days.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A New Look

I thought I'd try a new template and look for my blog. I found the background colour in the previous one slow to load when I was on dial-up in Texas and felt that it didn't make the maximum use of the space available. Let me know what you think. Make your vote count on the poll at the right.

Also, my counter seems to be stuck. Does anyone know a web counter 'gadget' I can add to my blog? I can't seem to find one on blogspot.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

99 Things Meme

99 things meme
From Knitters-Knitters.

Things you've already done: bold
Things you want to do: italicize
Things you haven't done and don't want to - leave in plain font

1. Started your own blog. Here 'tis!
2. Slept under the stars. On the deck of a schooner in the Caribbean. It was too rough to sleep down below.
3. Played in a band. Also have conducted bands.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland/world.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis. Ewwww!
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child. Was legally adopted, though.
16. Had food poisoning. Chinese food takeout which had been in the fridge for too long.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Have sailed past it, though.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Drove past the Louvre, though.

20. Slept on an overnight train. Penzance to London.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. and at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise. Been on 11 of them.
Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David in person.
41. Sung Karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa. Morocco.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted. Did have it done by pencil drawing, though.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Have been at the base of it.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre.

55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class - does T'ai Chi count?

59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp.
67. Bounced a cheque. Once in 1976.
68. Flown in a helicopter. .
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London.
77. Broken a bone. leg when I was 3 and arm when I was 12.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life. Did Heimlich maneuver on a choking 5 month-old baby I was looking after.
90. Sat on a jury. I was up for jury selection but never got on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.

Knitting Camp

Last Tuesday I drove to southwestern Ontario to visit my friend Marion who is house/dog-sitting at her daughter's place for the next couple of weeks. While there at 'knitting camp', we did some knitting, went to three yarn shops (Little Red Mitten in St. Thomas, London Yarns in Hyde Park and Needles and Pins in London) and a stitchery store (Thread and Eye), browsed at Chapters and did some knitting, went to 'Dreamgirls' at the London Grand Theatre and drove by my old sorority house.

639 Talbot St. was the chapter house of the Alpha Omega chapter of the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority from the 1930s until the early 2000s. I lived there from 1974 - 1976. The 120+ year-old home became too costly to maintain so was sold after the chapter's charter was revoked. The new buyers have carefully returned her to Victorian splendour.

On Thursday morning I drove on to Petrolia for a quick visit with my sister, niece and her family. The next morning I met with my former colleagues - retired lady teachers from St. Patrick's High School - who meet the first Friday of every month. I then drove back to Toronto to meet Lorna, Sue and Nancy for dinner downtown. We hadn't all been together for almost 2 years so we had a lot to catch up on. We ate, yakked and laughed for 4 hours.

Yesterday was Scooter's piano recital. He performed a Telemann Fantasia and a Schumann piece. He sure looked grown up.

I am wearing the Madli scarf from "Knitted Lace of Estonia" by Nancy Bush in KnitPicks Gloss Lace in the Aegean colourway.

Tomorrow Skip and I are driving to the Point Pelee area and will be going on a birding hike on Tuesday morning at 8:45am. It isn't supposed to rain but we'll certainly dress warmly.