Three Things / Thankful on Thursday

Thankful on Thursday

I have been sitting here and contemplating what to write about tonight. There are things in the works that I’m not ready to share yet and things I planned and haven’t been able to begin. Still, there is much to be grateful for.

One: I am grateful for the skills that my mother started me on when I was a wee child; hand-stitching from the age of two or so, for one. Knitting and crochet and embroidery for more. I feel so deeply happy when I knit and crochet; I feel connected to such a long line of women in my family who all did the same, either to keep their family warm and cosy or to be creative or, in most cases, both. Last winter i crocheted an enormous throw for my friends in Tacoma. Out of cotton yarn. It began as an idea for a light (ha!) summer wrap, something to keep  one’s back warm when sitting by an evening campfire. And it morphed into this:

crochet spread teal white mango 01

I used two yarns; one teal and the other a variegate with teal, mandarin orange and white. I started in the centre, crocheted once around, then joined the second yarn. I just kept alternating yarns in a lovely spiral. I changed the pattern a couple of times, too, but now I wish I’d written down what I did. I would like to try this again one day, but with three yarn colours. I did find at first that the variegate interfered with the clarity of the pattern. Next time I will choose solid colours only. AS you can see, it’s five feet across or more. I’m still amazed that I created this in about two months, in the midst of other handwork and with only two to four hours a day, some days not at all, too.

The second thing I’m grateful for is my renewed love of sock making.  When I was in my twenties, my lovely mother in law gave me a pair of work boots for Christmas. I was living with my oldest son and his dad on one of the Gulf Islands and we walked everywhere. They were wonderful boots that fit me exactly and I have never forgotten her thoughtfulness. But I needed some warm socks to go with them. I didn’t than have the patience for knitting with fin yarns and I had some pure wool rug yarn, so I took a men’s dress sock pattern and did the math. The resulting pattern was a perfect fit and I had those socks for many years.

A few weeks ago my cousin and I were driving to Vernon for some of the weekly sales shopping and he kindly took me to Armstrong along the way. Armstrong is a small town about twenty minutes from here, not far off the main highway. We went to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio and I bought some Jamieson & Smith pure wool two ply jumper yarn in five colours: black, burgundy, red, pink and a sort of sage green. I had not stopped to think what I might make, so gave the colour selection less thought than usual,; the selection was small for my taste and I simply picked colours that I thought I could use successfully in Fair Isle type stranded knitting. A few days later I decided I needed a pair of wool socks and the adventure began. The colours aren’t quite what I like, but I think they are working out fairly well. In any case, they will keep my feet toasty warm.

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AS you can see, I’ve successfully turned the heel and am about to begin knitting my way up the leg. The other sock is ready to have its heel created, too. There are a few errors in the knitting; While doing the hearts motif I was listening to Runrig on my headphones and lost track of the counting, so some of the hearts aren’t quite right. By the time I noticed it was too late for frogging. And while doing the heel, the pattern required using short rows with a wrapped stitch at the beginning and then picking up the wrap with the stitch and knitting or purling them together. Sounds easy, right? Well, try doing that with black yarn in the late evening and under rather dim lighting. Not to mention that my eyesight is not too good at present. However, I got through rather well, I think and the heel looks fine to me.

Today, with snow coming tonight for the firs time this autumn, we went to Vernon again so that I could buy a pair of thick work socks, some heavy work gloves for shovelling snow and the like and some more candied ginger. My cousin is a very kind man and made time to take me to the Twisted Purl again, where I put in an order for a few colours I feel I need before I begin the next pair of socks and another ball of the black for this pair. The Purl was out of the black but ready to make another order, so I asked for not only the black but also a medium green, a slightly golden yellow and I think another colour. And as long as I was in the store . . . I bought these:

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Two balls of dark green, one of a light blue, one of  a darker blue and one each of the three reds I’m already using in the current socks. We were in a bit of a rush to get all the shopping done and get home before dark, so I didn’t want to take time over the colours and order more. I think I can make these work, though. I have a happy pattern in mind for the legs of the next pair and I’ll share that with you all once I get to that. It’s all part of the plan for next year . . .

The third thing I’m grateful for today is my odd knack for baking ‘on the fly’; adapting recipes that I’ve never made before I make them and then having it all work out so well. Usually, anyway. Yesterday my cousin’s wife, Cousin S, gave me five bananas she had brought home from her work as a school custodian. They had black spots on the skins but were still firm. She mentioned that she had been thinking of banana bread and had Googled for a recipe, finding one for Chocolate Banana Bread. I offered to whip that up, as she rarely has time for baking and after lunch I set to. I added chopped walnuts, whole wheat flour and wheat germ to the original recipe (I like to maximize nutrition as much as possible). I doubled the recipe so that I could use all the bananas and when I found the batter a bit dry I added some yoghurt. In the end, we got twenty four muffins out of the recipe. I chose to do muffins instead of a loaf as it makes it easier to pack one for lunch and, wrapped individually, they keep very well in the fridge. They turned out scrumptious, especially hot from the oven with butter after I split them open. The chocolate chips didn’t hurt, either; they formed wee volcanoes of deliciousness that I’m sure you can imagine.

I will share the recipe here, likely tomorrow. It was very easy and well worth it.


Chocolate Banana Muffins 

INGREDIENTS for a single recipe: makes 12 muffins or one loaf.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4  cup wheat germ

1/2 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali

1 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1/2 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

3 large brown bananas – 1.5 cups mashed

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

3/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter). This will work with less sugar.

1 large egg at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take one out, so I used a cold egg. You could use 2 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 to 1 cup raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour)

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

INGREDIENTS for a double recipe: makes 24 muffins or two loaves.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2  cup wheat germ

1 cup cocoa, preferably not processed with alkali. I used a couple of heaping tablespoons more; we like chocolate around here.

2 tsp baking soda rounded slightly

1 tsp salt (less if you like) The original recipe called for sea salt, but we don’t have that, so I used regular table salt.

5 – 6 large brown bananas – 3 cups mashed. I confess I didn’t measure them. Hence the yoghurt added at the end.

(I find there is a more pleasant and mild banana flavour if the bananas aren’t too ripe, but I abhor waste, so use whatever you have)  🙂

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/2 cup oil (I used safflower)

Note: you can use all butter, all oil or cut it back and substitute yoghurt or milk for part of the liquid.

1.5 cups packed brown sugar (if you measure the oil and butter first, then the brown sugar in the same cup, you will waste less oil/butter) This will work with less sugar.

2 large eggs at room temperature (I didn’t see this recipe in time to take them out, so I used cold eggs. You could use 3 – 4 smaller eggs if you don’t have large.)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 to 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to 2  cups chopped walnuts

1 to 2 cups raisins (large are great and for special occasions, you can soak them in rum or brandy first; the alcohol is eliminated during baking, leaving only the flavour). I didn’t use raisins this time; cousin M has requested them for next timre, as he loves the large raisins we buy.

Optional for topping: chop some chocolate chips and walnuts together. You would need a few tablespoons of the chopped mix.

Optional (if needed): plain or vanilla yoghurt OR milk

Variation: I think these would be wonderful made with chocolate chips and chopped candied ginger, too. But I love candied ginger! lol

METHOD:

Heat oven to 350 F

Grease one or two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans or one or two 12 hole muffin pans, I use a non-hydrogenated margarine made with olive oil. Safflower oil would likely work, too. I like the margarine because it isn’t absorbed so much by the muffins / loaves.

In a medium sized bowl mix the flours, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl mash the peeled bananas with a fork or a pastry cutter.Add the butter and oil. Stir until well mixed.stir in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla extract. Beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, folding in carefully. I usually add the dry mix in three portions; it makes the folding in easier. Don’t overmix.

IF the mixture seems too dry, add a few heaping tblsp of plain or vanilla yoghurt. Milk can also be used. Use your judgement; less is more sometimes.

Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts and raisins.

Using a large serving spoon or a tablespoon (a small metal measuring cup would also work, I think), spoon the batter into the muffin cups or the loaf pans.

Optional: Spoon a little of the topping mix onto each muffin or top the loaves with it, if using. I didn’t and they were fine without it. It’s my idea, not from the original recipe; I just thought it would fancy them up for a special occasion.

If making a loaf, the original recipe calls for baking it for 50 – 65 minutes. I’d test them from about 30 minutes on, using a toothpick or table knife. When it comes out clean, remove from the oven, let cool for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove to a rack.

If making muffins, bake for about 15 – 20 minutes and then test to see if they need more time. Every oven is different. I had mine in a 400 F oven for 25 minutes and it was a wee bit too long; the chocolate didn’t burn, but it would have if I’d not checked them.

These muffins are fantastic eaten hot, split open and buttered. You may want to make tea, coffee or your favourite hot drink to enjoy along with them.


I have more to tell you, but it will have to wait. It’s well after midnight now and bed is calling me . . .

Correction:

I didn’t link to The Twisted Yarn’s Three Things on Thursday post. And a good thing, too! I was doing my best to get back to more timely posting and typed that from memory. Actually, the Thankful on Thursday posts belong to Mrs. Snail. My apologies to both ladies.

It’s too dark for me to type properly as it is. I’ll add that tomorrow, too. In the meantime, do share your Three Things / Thankful in the comments, if you feel inspired to do so. Love and warm hugs to each of you. I hope you are all doing well.

A final addition: This is what I woke up to today:

And, as to my Peace Poppies for Kendal; they arrived in time. In this photo you can see two of them quite clearly (the ones with the red bit around their black centre):

The second photo shows the WWI medical tent over which the poppies were draped after being fastened together by some wonderful volunteers.

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Update on the Poppies

Good evening, my friends! Much has been going on here, what with Canadian Thanksgiving and all that. But I have managed to complete eleven poppies and will be airmailing them to Kendal tomorrow (see my last post for more details); fingers crossed that they arrive in time for the display! These are for the display planned by the group called Kendal Wool Gathering, to commemorate WWI anniversaries. They have a facebook page, if you are interested. It’s a bit late now to be making poppies for them (due date for arrival in Kendal is 30th of October) but you may wish to make a few poppies for your own community. Any poppies sent to Kendal with pins on the back are being sold as brooches to raise money for the Royal British Legion. I suggest we all think a bout making some for next year, when we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War. I am hoping our Women’s Institute will have some events planned, but have not contacted them yet to find out.

11 poppies lg

I made eleven because, as I’m sure you know, the Armistice was signed at 11.00 am on the 11th day of the 11th month.

There is some symbolism in these for me personally, too, as there were my parents and nine children in our family; the three red poppies are for my Dad and his brother and one of Mum’s brothers, all of whom served in WWII. The group as a whole is to honour the man I worked for in the late 1980s, Mr. Brown; he served during WWI, but was stationed in the Caribbean Sea in case of attack. He saw no action, fortunately. However, his brother was one of the 3,598 Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge between the ninth and the twelfth of April, 1917.

If I have time, I want to make a poppy scarf using mostly the white Peace Poppies and a few red traditional poppies. If not this year, then next year for sure, which will mark 100 years since the end of WWI.

I have permission to link to the pattern for these poppies. The designer is Emma Leith, of Emma Leith Atelier, who has been more than kind in taking time to respond to my emails. That link will take you to her site and to the poppy pattern that she designed and offers for free.

With her permission, I have adapted that pattern to make my own Peace Poppies. Remember that they are white with a black centre? I tried that, but it looked like this:

White Peace Poppy

I felt it needed something, so I tried this:

Peace Poppy 01

I like this one much better. I still used Emma’s pattern, but I used white for the last two rows, leaving the second row red. For me, this honours those who shed their blood, or at lest offered to do so, while still holding to the thought of Peace on this earth in our time. I haven’t written up my version for Ravelry yet, but I will do so. It will be linked to Emma’s pattern and will also be free.

Oh, one other change I made and it’s certainly optional for anyone else: I used Judy’s Magic Cast On. It gives the option of a tighter centre, but also means that the petals can become a bit more ruffled. In part, for me, that may be due to my using a rather ‘hard’ acrylic yarn. With a softer yarn, the result may be quite different.

Well, my friends, I’m going to keep this short. I’ve been up to rather a lot lately, which is why you haven;t heard from me as often as I’d hoped. Lots of creating going on here and more about to begin! Not to mention that, in honour of ‘Anticipation 301’ I’m giving advance notice of a HUGE PROJECT in the works for next year. Hints to come and then the Great Reveal!! I’m so excited! It’s lovely to be happy and excited again; it seems as though it’s been forever.

before I go, though, one last thing. I know that some of you have been facing great challenges in one form or another. You are all in my thoughts and prayers; in particular anyone near the horrific fires in California. I still haven’t unpacked my ‘go-bag’ from our fires here. I know how so many must be feeling, living with the uncertainty. I can only imagine how it is for those who have lost their homes or, worse, family members. I wish you strength and courage for the coming days and months.

I have been saddened by the Las Vegas shootings, too, and I hope none of you have been directly affected. One of my daughters-in-law had a business trip scheduled for Vegas two days after the shooting, but in the end was unable to go. In light of all the challenges out there, including the political facings-off, with Tom Petty’s death, I was reminded of one of my favourite songs that he did (the background to this song is on YouTube under the video and well worth reading):

Good night, dear friends. I shall attempt to respond to comments before too long. (But I do have a couple more posts to write, so those may come first). Warm hugs from rapidly-cooling BC.

Poppy Project/s

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” ~Eve Merriam.

Hello, my friends! Now (as of today) it’s officially autumn. Attention is shifting from gardening, harvesting and ‘putting by’ to crafting.  At least mine is . . .

Yesterday I saw a post on fb about the Kendal Poppies project to honour those who served in WWI. Apparently similar projects are happening in other towns, too.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/KendalPoppies/

If you don;t do facebook, you can read about it here:

http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/15530088.Poppy_pop_up_art_installation_to_be_created_for_Kendal_Wool_Gathering/

Sara Last, who is mentioned in the article, has created a group on fb for anyone interested in taking part.

I have made two poppies already today:my first two poppies

Luckily, I had bought some red and black yarn yesterday (inexpensive acrylic) for making some Christmas items I hope to sell. After reading about the meaning of the different coloured poppies, I went back today and picked up a skein of white, too. Inspired by Mother Teresa, I am no longer anti-war; I am pro-peace, so most of my poppies will be white. with a black centre; I plan to try out a black centre, narrow red band surrounding that, then white petals. To learn more about the various colours, go to

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-37798965/red-white-purple-black-choosing-a-remembrance-day-poppy

I am using a pattern that was posted to the group and have asked the designer for permission to post it here. I’m sure she won’t mind, but am waiting for confirmation.

If any of you knitters and crocheters out there would like to take part, your contributions will be most welcome. They are hoping to cover a WWI medical tent by spreading camouflage netting over it and attaching the poppies to that.  The initial display will be on 20 October, I think, so that gives us time, especially for those of us who don’t live in England. The poppies will be used for Remembrance Day, too, (and I think some may be sold), then donated to Wonderwool Wales for their curtain.

http://www.wonderwoolwales.co.uk/show-events/curtain-of-poppies.html

There are patterns for both knitted and crocheted poppies in the group, so likely online, too. If you don’t do either, but want to take part, they will accept other forms of crafted poppies. Felt, woven, stitched, etc.

Well, back to crochet for me! I’ll update this post later with my creations.

Oh, one more thing: I am contacting a local yarn shop or two and the local Women’s Institute (Mum was a member for years and I was, too, but not for as long) to see if anything is planned here that I might contribute to. You might want to do the same where you are. Love and Light to each of you. I wish you all Inner Peace. ~ Linne

 

Getting back on the horse . . .

Well, my friends, it’s time . . . to get back to regular posting, I mean, as I finally caught up with your kind and thoughtful comments!  I wonder if others find it hard to know where to begin, too? I’ve been thinking about what I want to share and so on, then decided I would simply upload images from my time in Tacoma (part One), then add notes and probably some of my thoughts along the way. I hope that works for all of us.

I took literally thousands of photos after I left Edmonton late last September, so there were plenty to choose from.  I think I will write above the photos (just so you know what I’m going on about . . .).

This is a long post, so don’t worry if you can’t get through it all, and don’t feel obliged to comment on all, or any, of it. I totally understand about that.

Here is a photo from my friends’ back porch in Langford, BC, where I stayed while waiting to get new ID suitable for entering the USA. That took longer than I’d imagined, partly due to the fact that I had only my birth certificates with me; all else is in storage ‘somewhere’. Anyway, the autumn colours were lovely and I especially liked this view through the latticing.

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We kept busy, ,y friends and I, as I waited. One trip we took was to a small country market and I couldn’t resist taking this photo of the pumpkin / squash display. I have a painting planned, based on this sumptuous collection of colours and shapes.IMG_5599

Once I arrived in the wee Varda (travel trailer; I like the original gypsy word, VArdo, but liked to think of Varda as a feminine form), I adjusted my diet to fit my food prep options. I have never cooked in a microwave, but really didn’t want to have the propane hooked up, so I quickly learned to make simple and delicious meals. More about that in a separate post, I think. Below is the glass dish I used for cooking everything from morning oatmeal to pasta and veggies.IMG_5710

It wasn’t long before I got back into crochet and knitting. More on that later, but I couldn’t resist sharing this cute photo. So true, isn’t it?

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I had fun taking photos in the Varda, too. Some of my oranges were especially interesting in shape and I liked the composition of this one sitting on my unmade bed one morning.

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My friends have a lovely upright piano that belonged to Mr. R’s mother. They loanded me a book for adult learners and I had a lot of fun any time they were both out, just noodling around and working my way almost to the middle of the book. I used to attend all my younger son;s lessons (violin, viola, piano, etc.) and had always wanted to play myself. Music is very healing, at least for me. There is a wonderful book called “Music as the Bridge” that gave me a different outlook on the place of music in the world and in my life.IMG_5834

AS I think I’ve mentioned, <rs. R was not well for most of the first month that I was there. Once she was feeling better, we had some fun making Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. Each received a fleece blanket, which was made by putting two pieces of fleece back to back, cutting slits along the sides (we used masking tape so that the slits would be even in length), then knotting eacch pair of ‘tabs’.IMG_5949

This is the back of the blanket pictured above.IMG_5950

THEN, we got more serious about creativity. Before I went south, my friend J (Mrs. R) had asked me to teach her to knit and crochet again (she’d learned as a child, then not done any for some years). You may be appalled to know that I pretty much threw her in at the deep end when it came to the knitting. we decided that she would make a scarf for her husband for Christmas and chose patterns that reflected their individual heritages.

The scarf is made of Classic Wool on two sets of circular needles, so the pattern is always facing the knitter (easier for the knitter and making any errors simple to spot and correct.

In the end, though, J found the loose ends of the unused circular needle were too distracting for her, so I knit the pattern bits. She did most of the plain knitting, though. Here is the first end once the patterns were completed. The row counter is there mostly to mark the beginning of the raven pattern segment.IMG_5960

At the bottom is a row of Fair Isle hearts; J’s grandmother was from Oban and apparently liked to tease her husband about his being only a Lowlander.IMG_5962

Mr. R’s grandparents, like my maternal ones, came from Norway,, so we chose to include two ravens, one on each end of the scarf. They were considered to be Odin’s birds, Hugin and Munin (Thought and Memory), who flew all over the world each day, bringing back news to Odin. This pattern came from a book I had from the library a few years ago. The book is called Selbuvotter (Mittens/Gloves of Selbu); it has many lovely patterns for gloves and mitts traditional in Selbu, Norway.IMG_5963

The upper pattern band is also from the Fair Isle tradition. It has Os and Xs for Hugs and Kisses, with Crosses in between for blessings.IMG_5964

This is the ‘back’ side of the scarf.IMG_5965

J gave me two lovely rayon tops from Holy Clothing, a company selling ethically made clothing. This photo shows the embroidery around the neckline of my favourite piece.IMG_6089

In January, J drove up to victoria to visit her son and his family, so I went along and while I was in Langford again my friend L trimmed my hair. The longest parts were finally down to my waist, after many years of wanting it to all be that long, but it was looking quite ragged, so I bowed to necessity. I don’t care for it this short, but it looks neater, so that’s ok. Besides, it should grow in again. IMG_6102

WE left late in the afternoon, taking a ferry to Port Angeles, WA. These are poor photos of lovely views from the ferry; James Bay (Victoria) in the last light of the sun.IMG_6120

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reativity!  While in Tacoma, J and I began going to Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann stores; occasionally to Michaels as well. To start her off with crochet, we had purchased a small ball of variegated khaki Sugar n Cream cotton yarn.  With an eye to the future and savings (ha!), and knowing that J loves turquoise and teal, I talked her into buying these two cones of cotton (also Sugar n Cream).

But then, one evening as I was sitting with her while she worked on a square dishcloth in the khaki, I asked if she’d mind if I started a ‘small’ piece using these two colours. You see, I’d had an idea . . . what if one was to create a circle using both colours in concentric spirals?  Of course she said yes and so it began . . . You can see the beginning below. I never wrote down what I did, so if you feel inspired to make your own version of this, ou will have to do as I did, make it up as  you go along. IMG_6246

After a while, I switched to treble (US double) crochet, with a chain in between, which you can see in the first photo. Then, for a change, I began working in the back stitches, creating a lovely ripple as if there were waves washing up along coral and white outcrops. The piece grew like Topsy and I bought two more cones and two more cones and one final cone of the turquoise. so, seven cones in all. At one point, I found myself creating interesting ‘petals’ in the variegated yarn, but they vanished in the next row. I remembered them, however, and re-created them as I came to the ends of the piece. By that time, it measured around seven feet across, I think. The final photo here is of the centre. I do have photos of the completed piece, but I’ll have to look for them.  spread out over a recliner chair, it covered it and hung down the back!  I’m rather proud of this piece. I think it’s the larges I’ve ever made; certainly it’s the most creative in terms of stitches and overall design. Not many things make me as happy as pure creativity, making things up as I go along. (although it doesn’t always work out so well, I have to admit). I’ll post the photos of the finished piece next time, assuming I can find the photos.

In the meantime, I am thinking of each one of you out there in the Virtual Village; those for whom things are going well and those facing a challenge or ten. Take care of yourselves, will you? I’ll be dropping by to visit soon.

And here’s my newest favourite album; it was the first recorded by Runrig, back when there were only four members. It’s not so much rock and, while it’s in Scottish Gaelic, I find it hauntingly beautiful. I find myself hearing it in my dreams and often waking to it in the mornings. i hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I do.

Love and Light to each of you.  ~ Linne

Interesting Times . . .

Greetings, everyone!  I’ve been doing a lot of resting, napping and binge-watching series on netflix and I’m beginning to feel better and ready to begin focusing on plans for whatever is left of my life. Along with making plans and designing a daily routine that will take me beyond cocooning and into renewed creativity, I have spent time just thinking about world events and the like. Now that I’m in Tacoma for a while, the likely changes that will come to pass after 20 January have occupied my mind more than a little.

I remember as a child being told that an ancient Chinese Curse was: “May you live in interesting times”. As it turns out, this is an English saying and no-one has ever traced it back to China. But either way . . . I think we are now living in VERY interesting times. And, as usual, even if it’s too late to do much about what’s happening (and I’m not sure it is too late, at least for everythig), we always have the choice about how we respond to these times.

I’ve been catching up with various Villagers and was interested to see in a comment on one post that heroin sales have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania due to the lack of available work. So that’s one response, I guess. I also read that a city in Florida (Miami? I should have taken notes, eh?) is proposing to build up all of their roads so that the rising of the sea level over the next decades won’t affect them. Short-sighted, but maybe better than nothing. What do you think?

As I said, I have been thinking (one of my favourite things to do) about possible responses to current political situations and working out a strategy for dealing with the stress I feel about some of them. I’m focusing on creating a response that is healthy for me and for those around me, but that doesn’t sugar-coat the issues or just ignore them.

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So . . . what makes a tree grow and bloom? If we look at the naked stick that itis in mid-winter and decide to withhold sunshine, water and food until it gets it together and starts doing what it’s supposed to do, is it likely we will see leaves and blossoms and eventually fruit? Nope, not so much.

 

And when a baby begins learning to walk and falls down . . .first-steps

free image off the ‘net

. . . do we scold them? Tell them they are hopeless and don’t deserve to walk, let alone run? Do we ridicule, shame or punish them? Of course not. We know that nurture and love, along with some teaching, will work wonders as children grow and develop. The same is true for adults, too, isn’t it?

So I have decided that when a politician worries me or threatens to do dreadful things, the healthy response for me is to surround that person or persons with love and light; to bless them, even as I sign petitions, join boycotts, and so on. And that leaves me in a happier place. It will be interesting to see the results. One thing I know, this approach will leave me happier and healthier in the long run, for me at least.

Creativity

I have to confess that I haven’t done much creating for these past months. My considerable stashes of yarn, fabric, art paper, etc. are all in storage in Vernon, BC. I did bring my knitting needles, though, and some crochet hooks.I started teaching my friend J to knit. She had done some as a child, but needed a refresher course, so I threw her in at the deep end with a tubular scarf with a Scandinavian pattern created with two-stranded knitting. Most of it will be plain knitting, though, so that will be easier for her to manage. After all, it’s only two circular needles . . .

J has been ill for three weeks, but is now feeling better, so tomorrow we are going back toJo-Ann’s to purchase a crochet hook and some cotton yarn for her to use making dishcloths / bath scrubbies. We were there over three weeks ago and I found a lovely teal cotton remnant; tomorrow I’ll be looking for a complementary piece and some batting. Then I plan to get on with finally making a tea cosy using Kym’s directions: Tea cosy design. I’ve been talking about doing this for several years now, and it’s finally time to act!

I did bring my Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ with me, but haven’t gotten back to working on it, although while at my cousins’ in September and early October I did work on one sleeve so that they are now nearly at the same point in the design.

Christmas

The past few years I’ve done little to nothing for Christmas and this year will probably be similar. Christmas boxes are simply too expensive to ship anymore. More than fifteen years ago I sent a box to my older son’s family. It held a selection of home-made cookies (biscuits) that I used to make when the boys were young, plus a book for each grandchild and a small gift for each parent. The postage was over $50!  I felt they could have used the money more, so for a few Christmases I sent a money order. However, that never feels christmassy to me; I enjoy finding the perfect thing for each person, then wrapping each gift creatively and ecologically.

Some years I used brown paper for the gift wrap; some years it was white tissue paper. I used green and red yarn instead of ribbon and tucked in a small cluster of seasonal greens: cedar, holly, sometimes a cinnamon stick or two. Inexpensive and lovely, at least we thought so.

I was thinking the other day about the first Christmas I shared with my husband and two sons. We lived in a very old house in Victoria that hasd a bay window. We were able to find a tree that reached nearly to the ceiling, but the budget was tight. We could afford gifts for the boys or ornaments for the tree, but not both. Of course we opted for the gifts.

For ornaments, I got really creative. I ‘borrowed’ small squares of plywood that the boys used for building blocks, wrapped the in white tissue and tied them with red and green yarn to resemble tiny presents. I used some veriegated yarn; some red and white, some green and white, to crochet a couple of dozen wee stockings. Those were hung on the tree with co-ordinating loops of yarn. Tiny candy canes were shaped from red, green and white pipe cleaners and we found a few dozen of the real thing at a nbargain price; just two inches long, they fit in perfectly.

Inspired by my favourite childhood books, I popped bowls of popcorn and we began threading onto heavy cotton thread. I like to string three or five kernels, then one cranberry and repeat until I have a string about four feet long. We made so many of these that I lost count! Then I tied the ends together carefully as I hung them on the tree.

The only other bought ornaments were some strings of tiny white lights that were on sale shortly before Christmas Day and some tinfoil icicles, which I hung one by one from the popcorn strings, spacing them as carefully as I could. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a Christmas tree.

The angel I made myself and I still think she was beautiful.

We used those decorations every year from then on, adding a few each time and they are in my storage unit now. I hope they have survived their long hibernation; if not I will simply have to make more.

Often I would wrap cookies in cellophane and hang them, too. The popcorn strings were left on the tree after the other bits were packed away and the tree was set up outside as a feast for the birds. This was always after the first week in January.  That, I’ll explain about in another post . . .  🙂

For some excellent Christmas baking and other recipes, and for more ideas for yuletide decorations, including a knit pattern for a wine box cover, check out Selma’s blog here: Eclectic Home & Life She lives in England, but hails from Norway and I love her traditional recipes. You may remember y post about making her Mocha Roulade for my Mum and myself on Mother’s Day in 2015. Light and scrumptious, it was the perfect dessert!

I hope you are all enjoying the run-up to Christmas, taking time to enjoy the music, colour, lights, etc. Do try not to stress. It’s a good time for gratitude and I have to say again that I am grateful for each one of you, my Virtual Village neighbours.

Here, to help keep you in the mood, is a set of Christmas songs by Sissel, one of Norway’s great singers: Christmas songs by Sissel

Some of you may be familiar with Newfoundland’s group Great Big Sea.Here are some of their Christmas songs: Great Big Sea Christmas songs

And what is a post from me without a song from Funrig?

Silent Night

These are by Bruce Guthro, lead singer for Runrig and a Canadian from Cape Breton Island:

Christmas songs by Bruce Guthro

And, again by Bruce, a video in the true spirit of Christmas, featuring footage from the Christmas Truce of 1914. Christmas at the Front, 1914

And finally, a mixed bag, beginning with one of my own favourites:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and more

 

 

Life is what happens while . . .

. . . you’re busy making other plans . . . (John Lennon)

So there’s been a lot of life going on here, but first, thanks to everyone who has offered support and sent warm energy over the past weeks. I’m so sorry I haven’t replied to comments and, in some cases, emails. I’m still hoping to catch up soon, but a post is long overdue, so I’m doing that first. I think it may be a rather long one, so get your tea now 🙂

IMG_2522I was at the hospital a few days ago to bring cookies to the unit and on my way back through the courtyard, I saw that the Healing Tipi had been set up for summer use.

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The Nurse Practitioner who was the recipient of the cookies has become a friend; he told me about a Sound Healing – Tibetan Crystal Bowls event that was coming up. It was held in the Bikram Yoga Centre some distance west and south of where we live. It was an amazing experience; I’m very introverted and a bit awkward with groups of people I don’t know, so I went in, laid out the yoga mat I’d been given, and lay down to prepare for meditation. Matt Welke, one of the organizers of these weekly events, gave a brief introduction to the use of the bowls. We were invited to play one if we liked, but I chose instead to spend the hour in meditation and prayer for those I love and also for those who have requested it.

In 1997 I walked a labyrinth for the first time (not to be confused with a maze – you can get lost in a maze; a labyrinth has only one path; you walk to the centre and then back to the starting point). After I’d been ‘there and back again’, I sat nearby and meditated until all of the group had walked. I had an extremely intense experience of energy in my hands, to the point where they felt so swollen I thought the discomfort came from the pressure of the touching fingers. When I opened my eyes, though, my hands appeared normal and the feeling receded. On closing my eyes and resuming the meditation, the feeling returned, as strongly as in the beginning.  I was told later that I should consider studying Reiki.

I’m  sharing this experience because a similar thing happened while I was listening to the Singing Bowls and it was strongest when the largest bowls or a combination of bowls including one or two of the largest, were played.If this is something that interests you, I highly recommend attending a session. I can’t vouch for the healing effects, but my knees were much more flexible after I stood up and walking was easier. The trouble with attributing effects is that I’m currently using more than one approach. Still, the Bowls were pretty impressive. . .

IMG_2540 . . . as is this uniquely Canadian item. Who recognizes this?

I’m still not ready for the move; it won’t happen at the end of June; most likely now is the end of July. And it won’t be to the Crafties’ basement; I am moving back to southern BC, to Chilliwack where the oldest of my sisters lives. Or at least somewhere close to her. Anywhere from Abbotsford through Yarrow to Chilliwack will be just fine by me. I will be…

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Wan to see where I’m going?  Click here!

The first hospital in Abbotsford was built in 1922 and is where I was born some years later.  The town wasn’t called Abbotsford then; at least my birth certificate says ‘Matsqui’ on it. A lovely name, I think. Abbotsford was named after the home of Sir Walter Scott in the Lowlands of Scotland The hospital was replaced in the early ’50s and then again in 2009. I looked for a photo or two online, but couldn’t find one.

Anyway, the new plan is to find somewhere to live and so I’ve reached out to a couple of old friends who’ve lived in Abbotsford, then Chilliwack for over 30 years.

My plan always was to go ‘home’ to BC, but I didn’t expect to be able to go this year. So amidst all the re-structuring of my daily life, there is some joy, too. And that’s a good thing. I knew the decision was the right one for me as soon as I made it; a huge feeling of peace and relief came over me and the dark clouds began to lift. I’m not done working through the sadness, but it’s become easier now that I feel a sense of hope again.

Once settled, too, I’ll be able to visit my sons and their families, as well as some old friends in Vancouver and Victoria. I have’t been to the coast for over seven and a half years and that’s a long time.

In preparation for this move I went with the Crafties to their property where my container sits with some of my stuff. Boy, have they done a lot of work since I was last there (over a year): I should have taken more photos . . .

Their son has a small two storey cabin half finished:IMG_2543

This 16 foot square shed is nearly done, too, and is already in use for storage. On the south side (away from you)  will be a porch for sitting in the shade and taking a break.

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The outhouse was one of the first structures to be put up; here’s the view from outside and in . . . it’s all boards that have been salvaged from here and there.

Three views: the picnic area, the squirrel grove and the garden. The painted tires each hold a fruit tree. All the fruit trees and a sweet little weeping willow have survived the winter.

Before we had our cookout (using the barrel behind the table to contain the flames), Mrs. Crafty brought out some lovely hand-made soap for washing our hands. That’s it there; the round cake just left of the hand towel.

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Mrs. Crafty loves folk art and painting garden ornaments. Here are some she’s brought from home and a panther they found in a discard heap and rescued. It will be painted soon, too, and the other items will be placed in her gardens and along some of the deer trails, which are wide enough to walk on..

Behind this cute picket fence grows an assortment of flowers, domestic and wild, and above the garden hangs a hummingbird feeder. Bird and squirrel feeders are in several places here and it’s so lovely to watch the birds and critters that the feeders attract. The gate was made by Mrs Crafty from twisted branches she cut from small trees they were felling for firewood. The birdbath is a clay saucer I gave her when I realized I was not likely to have my dream garden, with a fountain at each corner.

The other three, and most of my clay pots, are going to a friend who used to be my manager when I worked at her Lewiscraft store. Later she encouraged me to take on the Assistant Manager position and after that, to move up to Manager. I loved so much about working in a craft store; ordering unique colours of yarn, teaching clients to knit and crochet while we stood in the niddle of the store, especially figuring out where a pattern had gone wrong for the more experienced knitters and crocheters.  When Mum was in the hospital before Christmas, she had a room-mate whose daughter remembered me from over a decade ago. She had knitted a sweater, arms and body, to the yoke in six months. Then, for over three years she struggled to complete the patterned yoke. In despair she brought it to the store; we went over each stitch together and found where the pattern was wrong! It was quite gratifying to find that all her family knew the story and knew who I was, just from that one day.

Can you tell that old wooden chairs minus their seats were used as part of the frames for these garden beds? The right hand bed is full of strawberry plants.

We have no idea what this plant is, but my sister thinks it may be cowslip:

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We were out there for over eight hours and besides taking a tour of the property, Mrs. Crafty and I went through over a third of the boxes in the container. The container has settled at the back, so some of the boxes had fallen and others had been placed with heavy boxes on top of half=full or light boxes, so the lower ones had collapsed somewhat. We are re=packing those into stronger boxes and organizing them near the front for easy loading come moving day. I am giving the container to the Crafties and they will store some of my things that are not sensitive to moisture for a couple more years. They will be able to store some of their tools and equipment in it, so it’s a good deal all around. Below you can see how much the container is listing . . . The bottom photo shows some of my boxes. The old bed frames and other things at the front belong to the Crafties. I remembered there being a lot more boxes, so seeing them was a good thing. Much more manageable that I’d expected. It’s helping, too, that I’m giving some of my things to Mrs. Crafty, like the yarns for afghans that are mostly or all acrylic. I’ve decided I’m switching to natural materials, or mostly so, from now on.

If I had a piece of property, I think I’d place two of these 40 foot long containers side by side, but about 30 or 40 feet apart, then roof over the space and the containers and build walls with large windows at the back and front of the large space. A large set of patio doors at each end and a floor would make it complete (and a wood-burning fireplace, of course). It would be easy to fit one container out with a bathroom and two bedrooms and the other with a kitchen, pantry and storage space. The central room would be workspace, gathering room, etc.Using salvaged materials for most of it, I think one could have a great cottae / workshop for about $10,000. I’d extend beams from the roof supports, too, to create a porch on either side. Solar panels could be set up nearby to power lights, etc. The neighbour has several set up next to where he lives and can run a washer and dryer, cookstove, small refrigerator and lights as well as his power tools. Very nice, I think.

The driveway out to the gravel road . . .

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. . . but we didn’t go back to town immediately. Because, in spite of my parents’ being sure that I would grow out of it, my love for horses is as strong as ever and I simply had to see the neighbour’s herd, or two of them, anyway . . . These are quarter horses and I was sorely tempted to hop on the grey and ride home . . . but common sense prevailed . . .

Now, the other news: I have been unable to find my ‘toe-up’ sock that is still sitting at the first toe/ But I have been busy going through boxes and packing (and down-sizing for the first of what I think will be several times). While doing that, I found six skeins of this amazing mohair/wool blend with a little nylon for added strength:

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The colour reminds me of piles of autumn leaves and is more beautiful than the photos.

I have had this yarn for ten years, waiting to be inspired and finally inspiration struck! I decided to make a Pi Shawl. The pattern for this shawl was first created by Elizabeth Zimmerman and is loosely based on the mathematical Pi. You begin with 9 stitches on three double pointed needles, knit two rows, then usising yarn overs you double the stitches to 18. The next section is 4 rows of knitting. The next row you double the stitches again, to 36, then knit 8 rows . . . see how easy? It’s good to keep track of your rows with a stitch counter, though, especially with mohair or other fuzzy yarns. I haven’t located any  of my own counters, so I’m making marks on recipe cards, four verticals and one horizontal to  tie them into a group of five. So far, that’s working just fine. I am now up to 288 stitches and have finished 10 of the 64 rows called for in this section. I have seen this shawl knitted from smooth yarns and some knitters have done patterned knitting in each section between the increase rows. Those are stunning! Now, if I were truly ambitious, I would be considering knitting one using the Fair Isle patterns I love so much. Maybe one day, when I’m spending more time in a rocker by the fire . . . Here’s the work to date:

In the left hand photo, I’d hung the piece on a hook in the hallway, but the light wasn’t good enough. In the other two photos the work is flattened and the pictures were taken under different lights; I think the right hand one is closest to the actual colour. I’m using a circular needle now, so the work has assumed the shape of a bag or maybe a Rasta beanie… Soon I will put half the stitches onto another circular needle and the work will continue to go easily. I’m not sure how large this shawl will be, but I’ve only just begun on the third of the six balls and if I fold the work, it comes nearly to my elbows.

By the end of each day, we are generally tired and partly that’s from the emotional side of . through our mother’s things. Other factors come into it, too, but I won’t be posting about those. So we make our supper and watch some Netflix movie or tv series and I knit. Then it’s off to bed. A good distraction when I just want to turn off my busy mind for a while.

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These are not particularly healthy, although the recipe could be adapted. Our youngest sister found it and I made it up just as Mum used to do for Christmas. This is a double batch and made eight dozen, with some dough left over. No idea what happened to that…

I loved using my favourite bowl (which matches a larger one of Mum’s), Mum’s wooden spoon and my Aunty’s potholders. I felt as though they were just in the other room.

If anyone would like the recipe, let me know in a comment below and I will post it. It’s quite quick and easy to make; the longest part for me was chopping the nuts with a knife. If one had a nut chopper, it would go very fast. These were a great hit and the hospital bag of a couple dozen cookies apparently lasted less than an hour. Made me happy . . .

So . . . my day out in the country with no sounds but those of nature was most refreshing and renewing. I hadn’t realized how much i’d missed it until I was out there again. We had lovely weather, warm but not too hot (although while in the container we were both sweating heavily), with a light breeze to cool us off.  Jtust what I needed, that day . . .

I’m not sure when I’ll get to post again and it likely won’t be so long next time, but I’ll keep you updated on the move and settling in wherever I land.I wish you all a wonderful week / month / year. I’ve been reading your posts as often as possible, but have not been able to comment from my phone (forgot my password . . . again!). I’m still getting used to the laptop, but eventually it will behave itself and then we’ll see . . . Lots of big hugs to all of you in the Virtual Village.  ❤

 

Better late than never, right?

Well, I know it’s late, but still I wish you all a very Happy New Year! May it bring you joy, contentment, inspiration and more . . .

I started a draft of my annual bit of doggerel, but it’s not finished yet. I’m hoping to have it done before it ends up being posted for the end of this coming December . . .

Our Mum came home from hospital after more than four months and we are all glad to have her here again. She is not out of the woods yet (but really, when are any of us completely out of the woods?) and with my RN sister here to take charge of medical issues, things are slowly settling into a loose routine. And I am very slowly beginning to catch up with blog post reading.

Knit Ridge Teapot Cozy

I haven’t done much crafting since last spring, really, but this week has seen me take up the knitting needles again to make a lovely ridged tea cosy for my sister (see picture above). I gave her my Aunty’s old Brown Betty teapot, as my sister drinks tea daily and for me it’s more occasional. I shall post photos once the two finished pieces are sewn together and the loop at the top added. The pattern is a tried-ad-true one from Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. I had two balls of  this yarn in a lovely dark forest green that will fit perfectly, my sister tells me, in the ‘garden room’ she is planning to create once she is home in BC again. That room will house, among other things, a lovely round dining table with patented twin pedestals and two extra boards that convert it from round to a long oval. She also has an antique wardrobe that once belonged to our parents and it will grace the garden room as well. The colours will be mostly greens and browns, so having the green yarn on hand was quite serendipitous. On one of my trips to the Re-Use-It store with my friends the Crafties, I snagged a bag of Sugar ‘n Cream in various colours. I have already completed two potholders for our kitchen, as I want to retire the three made by my Aunty before they are worn out. I used the Idiot’s Dishcloth Pattern and made the pieces a bit smaller . . . and managed to create a few errors even in this simple piece . . .  oh, well . . .

I’m not sure now how I ended up at the Susie’s Knitting blog, but she had just the pattern I was looking for! You can find it here:  https://susiesknitting.wordpress.com/pattern-links/dishcloths/idiots-dishcloth/

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I borrowed this image from her to show you what I mean.

I am hoping to add an original touch to the cosies (did I mention that, because I made the one for my sister a bit smaller to fit the teapot, I have enough yarn left, I think, to make a second one for myself? And if it isn’t quite enough, I have a creative solution waiting in the wings . . . I’m not telling, though . . . I think we are back to ‘Anticipation 301’  🙂

If you remember my Barn Cardi (so called so that I would not feel concerned about achieving perfection):

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The picture on the left is my Aunty, who was always happy to model whatever I was working on. I miss her a lot.

I hadn’t felt like resuming work on it for a while, but today I dug out the project box with the cardi, the pattern book and some of the yarns. I’m planning  to resume work on the sleeves later this week, but first I need to complete the cosies . . .

So my friends, life is changed, but goes on down the new path, with a few dips and hummocks, as in all lives. I am finding small pleasures and great joys again and am once more listening to music nearly every day.

My brother in law who passed away in late 2014 introduced me to Sissel Kyrkjo, a Norwegian soprano. Here are two videos of her singing with the Welsh tenor Bryn Terfel:

And for the opera lovers among you, my sister introduced me to a self-taught young lady who will likely knock your socks off . . .

All the best to each of you and your friends and families. I expect to be back soon and hope to begin catching up with comments here and also with your blog posts.
Big hugs and much love to  you all . . .  ~ Linne