Monday, 28 December 2015


I finished the right front of the cardigan last night.
It's always good to take a photo of one's knitting as it really allows one to see any mistakes. Sure enough, I found that I had left a row out of one of the honeycomb rows near the top.
That will be easy enough to rip back and fix.

While finishing the right front, I was watching the semi-final and final episodes of the British reality show on TVO called "The Choir: Sing While You Work".  The remaining choirs sang gospel for the semi-final and an original composition by one of the judges for the final.

I then started the back and got the cable patterns established. I only need to follow a chart for the 'Fishnet' cable section between the two 'chain' patterns on each side.
I have been binge-watching the Netflix documentary "Making A Murderer" and was totally drawn in with the first episode. I was surprised to find out there were 9 more. I stayed up WAY too late and bailed after episode 5. My curiosity got the better of me so I googled the subject's name and learned of the disposition of the trial. What a shock! I do recommend watching this if you like a good, true mystery. It is very similar to the first season of the podcast "Serial" outlining the trial of a suspected murderer. Season 2 is now airing, one episode per week.

I do watch a lot of TV when I knit but now, with my PVR, mostly watch stuff I want to watch when I want to watch it.

I also have been watching the final season (6) of Downton Abbey via file sharing and last night watched the series finale, the 2-hour Christmas episode which aired in the UK on Christmas night. It was excellent! I will really miss that show. Season 6 begins airing on PBS on January 3 in North America.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


I finished the first Syncopation sock.
I really like the look of it and it feels great on. However, I weighed the remaining yarn - 48g and the finished sock 50g. Crap!!! I made the leg of the sock too long and there's not enough yarn left to do the second sock the same length.

Sooooo, I'm going to cut the cuff off, unravel a little over 1g of the leg to be used on the second sock and graft the cuff back onto it. Thank goodness I did that class on grafting knit and purl stitches with Ann Budd a couple of years ago at the Knitter's Frolic.

Speaking of the Frolic, just before Christmas I heard back from the Toronto Knitters Guild. I've been selected to teach a 2-hour Latvian Braid class at the Knitter's Frolic on April 30, 2016!! I'm so excited! The 2015 classes are still on the website but hopefully soon, the 2016 classes and instructors will be posted. I hope there is a class offered that I'll want to take that's not when I'll be teaching.

I've also made progress on the Aran sweater I'm knitting. I have the second front completed up to the armhole decreases. It was pretty mindless knitting up to there while I watched various Christmas shows on TV but I took a pause on this project last night as I had to re-read the instructions to continue on.
 I then picked up another sock project in progress, finished the leg and heel flap, and turned the heel. This was the pair I knit with contrasting bands on the legs to ensure that there would be enough yarn for the extra-long foot.


I have been a lazy blogger these past few weeks. After returning from Cuba, I've felt very rushed to get things ready for the holidays. We don't even do a lot of gift shopping but I still wanted to get some decorations up, cookies made, Christmas newsletter composed and sent, the few remaining snail mail cards sent, etc.

Alexa and I went to Tafelmusik's Sing Along Messiah at Toronto's Massey Hall last Sunday.
It was lots of fun sitting amidst other altos and singing our hearts out on the choruses. Herr Handel himself conducted us and the orchestra.
After it was done, we got to sing the "Halleluja Chorus" one more time. This time, Herr Handel brought out his light sabre.
At the end, he had the soloists pose for a 'zelfie' taken with his 'zelfie schtick'.
And this is the photo that was posted on Facebook.
It was a lovely way to celebrate the season.

I knit a couple of mittens from the Mitten Garland Advent on Ravelry, inserting the date on the cuff.

I loved that they had Latvian braid on the cuff.
I still may knit a bunch to use as garland.

One of the gifts I crafted was a shawl pin frame similar to ones I had seen at Rhinebeck.
I used a cable knit sweater from a thrift shop, backed with a couple of layers of poly quilt batting and framed in an 8" x 10" frame with the glass removed. It's great for holding shawl pins and decorative as well. I can also pin other pins and hook earrings onto it.
Of course, I made two - one to give and one to keep.

Christmas morning, I put on the fireplace channel on the TV.
And lit a real fire in our fireplace. It was so nice and cozy.
Dinner was a collaborative affair with Skip brining and roasting the turkey and me preparing the side-dishes.

Our table is quite spartan but I love the poinsettia theme and opted for the festive, woodland Christmas plates over my good china. Our breakfast nook is so bright with windows on three sides so at the last minute, I set the table in there because it looked so nice.
As low-carbers, we dispensed with potatoes. However, we both like turnip with our Christmas dinner - it reminds us of Christmas dinners past at Skip's mom's. I also tried a new green bean recipe where I heated olive oil and garlic in a fry pan and cooked the green beans in the mixture for about 8 minutes. They were yummy. The cranberry sauce was made from scratch substituting Splenda for sugar.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 19 December 2015


Skip and I spent a week in Cuba a couple of weeks ago. We wanted a cheap 5-star vacation and Cuba fit the bill. It was a short (3.25 hour), direct flight to Santa Clara then a 90 min. bus ride to our resort (Iberostar Ensenachos).

We had a very nice room with a free mini-bar, lots of channels on the TV, bad lighting (only a floor lamp and table lamp in the very large room), and excellent air-conditioning.
Market at Pueblo La Estrella at Cayo Santa María, Cuba
Cubans have used ration books since the early 60s and the trade embargos. The food at the resorts (all owned by the government) is the best one can get on the island. Sadly, it's not that great. Since we're low carbing, we had to overlook the yummy breads, pastas, and baked goods. Unfortunately, there wasn't any lettuce, but I did eat lots of the cucumber and cabbage. The hot food wasn't hot enough and the cold food wasn't cold enough and we both got 'traveler's tummy'.
Somewhat obscene yucca plant at our resort, preparing to bloom
However, the beach was exquisite with powdery, white sand and no seaweed which seems to plague a lot of beaches in the Caribbean.

It rained every day for at least part of the day but we still managed to get to the beach
Turning the heel on the beach
or the pool.
Syncopation sock poolside
The biggest adjustment was no access to the Internet for the week. Fortunately I had downloaded a bunch of ebooks and audiobooks onto my iPhone and iPad so entertained myself that way. We also got lots of sleep including some darned good naps. I had bought an Internet card to use at the resort but there was not access to a network whenever I tried. However, the card did work at the airport so I downloaded all my email and got caught up there before our flight home. The security person I had was very enthusiastic about his job and confiscated my Addi Turbos that were in my Syncopation sock. He wanted to break the tips off but I couldn't deal with that sacrilege so I just pulled the needle out. (sniff!). He also didn't like the 1.5 inch nail file on my nail clippers and offered to break it off if I wanted to keep them. I never use that nail file so I told him to go ahead. I've taken knitting needles on many flights over the past 8 years and the only time I've had them confiscated was leaving Mexico and Cuba. TSA permits them but Cuba doesn't give a rat's behind about TSA regulations. At least in Mexico, they retrieved my suitcase so I could put the knitting needles in there.

We were thrilled that it was so mild upon our return and our windbreakers were adequate for the shuttle from the airport to our car.

Speaking of windbreakers, when we arrived at the resort at the beginning of the trip, I realized I had misplaced my windbreaker somewhere en route. During our time at the airport waiting for our flight home, the officious security guy passed me off to another person to go to the lost and found - back through security. I was then handed off to another official person who was surprised that there was a lost and found. The official at the lost and found listened to my description (thank goodness I speak Spanish) and looked in a big ledger and to my wonderment, my windbreaker was listed with the description, date, and flight. He then went into the back room and emerged a few minutes later with my windbreaker. Yay! And my mittens were still in the pocket - along with some rubber gloves that weren't there before. He had to fill out some paperwork and call a customs person over to fill out a customs form so my jacket could pass customs, I guess. Then I had to sign something and I was free to take my jacket and go back through security to join Skip - who wondered where the heck I was. Of course, I had the same officious security guy who again noted my nail clippers on the xray. He wanted to stop me and I reminded him that he had already broken the nail file off. Then I found Skip in the waiting area. I brandished my jacket and we hugged with joy. The food selection at the airport was not great, particularly for low carbers so we decided to hit a favourite Japanese/Korean restaurant in Toronto on the way home from the airport. Finally! Hot food that was hot! And salad!! It was good to be home.

Being away for a week in early December does make one feel quite behind with respect to preparations for Christmas so I've been trying to get caught up. The tree is up and it and the house are as decorated as they're going to get.
Skip and I have decided to shop for each other after Christmas when the sales are on so aside from stocking stuffers, that took a lot of pressure off me.

I got a bunch of baking done today, much of it with my new cookie press. I also use the press to stuff devilled eggs but today, used it to make spritz cookies for the first time. It took me a bit to get the hang of it but since this batch (pictured) was done, I re-read the recipe and omitted the parchment paper, choosing instead to spritz right on the greased cookie sheets. The cookies stuck to the sheet much better. My subsequent batches had cookies that were spaced much closer together.
I still haven't been able to get a soft enough dough.

I've been crafting a couple of things but will leave that for another post.

On Sunday, Alexa and I are going to the Tafelmusik "Sing-Along Messiah" with our scores and sticky notes to mark what numbers we're doing. We and a couple of thousand other sopranos, altos, tenors and basses will enjoy the soloists and sing the choruses conducted by Herr Handel himself.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

I Learned a New Cast On

Last week at our monthly knitting get-together at a local Mexican restaurant, Jennifer showed us the socks that she's knitting with the 'Syncopation' pattern.

I thought it would be a great pattern to knit while I'm on vacation. I'm doing it top down so thought a tubular cast-on would be nice. I found a video for casting on straight and modified it for knitting in the round.

First, I cast on half the number of stitched I needed with waste yarn. Any cast-on will do - I used long-tail. Then I divided the stitches for circular knitting and changed to the sock yarn and knit into every waste yarn stitch and then did a yarn over.

Then on the next round, I knit the knit stitches and with the yarn forward, I slipped the yarnovers.

Next round, I slipped the knit stitches with the yarn in the back and purled the yarnovers. Basically, I double knit for the two rounds.

On the next round, I joined the two sets of stitches by knitting the knits and purling the purls and voilà! The tubular knitting is complete. You can snip the waste yarn and pull it out at this stage or leave it until later.

A smooth, stretchy edge is created.
There are other ways to do a tubular 1 x 1 cast on including one where the long-tail cast on is done with knit and purl stitches but I found that one quite fiddly with thin sock yarn and lots of stitches on a long circular. The method I'm using let me really control the stitches on the needle. You could also cast on with a straight needle then knit the first round onto a circular.

To make it 2 x 2 ribbing, you just need to switch the order of the stitches so a knit is beside a knit and a purl is beside a purl creating pairs of stitches. I'll try that on the next sock I knit with 2 x 2 ribbing for the cuff.