The Last Two Weeks (but who’s counting?)

That’s right, my friends; last week was pretty busy, so I scrapped the post I’d begun. And now in less than a week I shall be in the air. The changing time zones have me a bit confused at times (pun intended). I do know that when I land in Glasgow sometime close to 9 am on Monday the 14th of May, it will be close to 1 am here in BC.

I’m going to keep this short; I just want to touch base for a few minutes. There may not be any photos; for one thing, I left the battery charger for the camera I’m borrowing) at home, so it was out of energy before we arrived in Princeton and those photos are all of the landscapes on the way down. For another, the cell phone camera was also worn out. I charged it up, then left it in my sister’s car . . .

Catching up: I’ve begun packing up things that will go into my storage unit for six months, in between the various creative activities. Nearly two weeks ago, Cousin S and I went to Vernon and spent close to three hours shifting boxes and bits of furniture in the medium unit so that I could put most of the items from the small unit into it and free up a bit of money. I do wish I’d been able to do it a year ago, but the fire hazard kept us from wanting to breathe deeply or even be outdoors on the bad days. Still, it’s done now. I was quite pleased not to be sore except for the odd twinge here and there, after a couple of years of a very sedentary life.

The three of us went on Sun, Mon & Tues last week and got the job done; a few things had to come here for storage (lawnmower, garbage can, two large pieces of driftwood . . . all hard to pack in a smallish space). So much relief all around. There isn’t much room left in the medium unit, though, so some boxes may end up staying here. I’d hoped to avoid that.

We were in Princeton, BC, for most of three days for our Auntie’s service. It was good to see family again; some I hadn’t seen for over 50 years and some I had heard so many stories about I feel I know them, but we’d never actually met. I am lucky in that I like my out-laws as much as my in-laws! (and I like my in-laws) Most of us met up at the Brown Bridge Pub on the Friday night. I had a glass of dry white wine in honour of my Auntie and a very good bowl of Pad Thai. My Auntie would have loved that evening; she was so outgoing and family-oriented; I like to think she and maybe her siblings, too, were hovering around us that night.

I stayed with my RN sister in her hotel room, so we sat up until 3.30 the first night catching up and talking about a million subjects. That was great!

There was something else great, too: I finally got to meet one of our second cousins from Norway (that means our parents were cousins; in this case, her Dad and my Mum). We hit it off right away; she is so bubbly and energetic and I am quiet and intense most of the time. If I can get to Norway this summer I will definitely be adding a visit with Tove to my list. Even better, I was telling her about the upcoming Great Adventure and when I mentioned a concert in August, she asked about the band. I was SO surprised (and excited) to learn she knows Runrig and one of her close friends from Germany will be at the same concert! Runrig is huge in Germany and Denmark and their concerts sell out quickly in both countries. Anyway Tove is putting me in touch with her friend and perhaps we will be able to meet up.

The service was held in a very small church and it was nearly full, mostly with family, who came from the coast, from Alberta and Saskatchewan, along with Tove from Norway. A few of Auntie’s friends came, too, including the ladies who ate with her at the assisted living place that was her last home. Lunch was provided by the Church Ladies in the traditional fashion; a great variety of sandwiches followed by a marvellous selection of baked goodies. I do love the old ways!

Later we went up to our cousin L’s place to hang out in the house and backyard and later to enjoy a barbeque. More visiting, of course.

The next morning, we were invited back to cousin L’s place for brunch. There was not only plenty of food left from the barbecue, there was an entire Seven-Layer Salad that had been forgotten in one of the grandson’s travel trailer! I’d forgotten how delicious those are.

We left Princeton and Tove came with us as far as Kelowna, where we found a hotel for her not too far from the airport, as she was flying home Sunday morning. the long ride gave us time for more visiting and sharing of stories. Her grandfather Paul was our grandfather’s brother. He and his family also came to Canada, but stayed only a few years; his wife was very homesick and they went back to Norway.

Crafty activities: I’ve been working on the Clover socks every spare chance I’ve had, mostly in the car en route to Vernon or Salmon Arm for shopping. Pictures coming soon (or after I get to Scotland lol). I’m not a fast knitter and now I’m on the ribbing, so that’s even slower. But I’m pretty pleased with them!

Since arriving home on Saturday I have completed the two ends for my moss green Meg shawl, found a pattern for a rectangular panel, made that and joined the three parts. Today I will work on the border for a bit.

There has been much other craftiness going on here, too, but I’ll leave that for another post.

I was very excited to stop in Armstrong on one of our trips to Vernon and pick up some Great Britain Pounds Sterling; I haven’t even taken time to admire them; just packed them up right away. A first for me . . .

I am nearly finished Jon Sayer‘s Batdig and still enjoying it thoroughly. I’ve rationed myself quite strictly, but do want to finish it before I leave. I really need to know how it all turns out! I’ve enjoyed finding an in-joke or two along the way, but I’m not telling you where; you’ll have to read it for yourself. The second book, Kirkenes Blue, will be waiting for me when I return. A side note: my cousin Tove happened to mention Kirkenes during one of our conversations, so I showed her the books.

Well, the last time I began a post and waited to add photos and music, it ended up retiring to my drafts folder, so I am simply going to publish this as is.

I hope to post again before I leave; if not, I shall have time in the evenings, I expect, once I am in Glasgow. All of you are in my thoughts, whether I post or not.

Edit: I just remembered the music I had planned to share once this Auntie was gone. So here it is, as I remember my own Mum, Dad, Aunties and Uncles: Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin singing (in the film A Prairie Home Companion, which I love) Goodbye to my Mama

Have a wonderful May; for many reasons, it’s always been an inspiring month for me.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was one of my earliest favourite poets and I still have the book of his poetry which I bought while I was at Uni back in the mid-60s; it was the first book of poetry I bought for myself. When I think of May, I think of this poem:

Spring

The Dancing Goes On . . .

You’ll need a large cup of tea or whatever you fancy, and possibly something edible, too. This is rather long, even for me . . . my excuse is that I’m making up for the long gap between posts. But even if I posted regularly, I’m not sure I’d be much better at brevity.

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There was a lovely parcel in the mail for me on the 2nd of March and the photo above shows what was in it (along with a lovely note). Back before Christmas, Ms. Snail of The Snail of Happiness blog had a give-away to celebrate her 1000th post. I was one of the winners and this package contains my prize. And what a prize it is!

Of course, it arrived the day after my eye surgery, so it was a while before I could properly appreciate the contents. But I have had a quick browse through the cookbook “Free Food for Rats” (although I still haven’t found an explanation for the title, which I find both endearing and intriguing) and it is SO my sort of thing. Ms. Snail had no way of knowing that I have a small collection of cookbooks of very eclectic sorts and that this will be very treasured and used for the rest of my days. My cookbooks, of course (and 99.9% of my other books), are still in the storage units and likely to remain there for another year, but I am enjoying browsing through this one and planning future feasts. The author is a friend of the Snails and that adds to its appeal for me.

This is my first cookbook with seven recipes whose names begin with ‘X’; there are many Asian (from China, Malaysia & Indonesia) recipes here. Also some family recipes from Germany; along with recipes from France & Spain, Holland and Wales.

I love the anecdotes that accompany the recipes, sharing where the dish was first eaten, who made it for her, or other details that I yearn for, being a person who loves plenty of ‘background’ to anything and everything.

But when I read the recipe for ‘Kota Bharu Special’ and saw that the ingredients included “a large knob of butter,  2 handfuls of dessicated coconut and 1 handful of caster sugar”, I knew this would become one of my favourite cookbooks. This is cooking as my foremothers knew it, more art and less science lab and all the better for it in my opinion.

The other two books are equally special to me; for one thing, they are Mr. Snail’s first two novels, for another, the covers captivated me even before I opened them. On the back of the first book, “Batdig” (whose meaning and origins I have yet to discover) are these words:

Twelve People
Eleven yellow packages
One destination

AT 9.25, EVERYTHING CHANGES

The first twelve chapters introduce us to twelve characters, and each (I’m assuming, as I’m only up to person 3 so far) is given a mysterious package wrapped in yellow plastic and told to deliver it to a destination near St. Paul’s Cathedral at 9.25 am.  I like the cover design very much, as it resembles the yellow packages and includes silhouettes of the Cathedral.

By the time I’d read the first three pages, I was captivated. I’m not the easiest audience to captivate, either, as I’ve read thousands of books in my life and many of those were mysteries or mystery/thrillers. I wish I could read more quickly, but my near vision is not up to the task and I still haven’t located my glasses (well, to be honest, I haven’t put much time into searching; I’ve been busy with other things, as you will see shortly). I am reading two or three pages most days, though, and I have to say that I love Mr. Snail’s style very much. The characters I’ve met are quite real to me already and I’m very eager to discover what happens to them all once I’ve met the rest of the cast.

The second novel I haven’t begun, as I prefer to read an author’s works in the order they are published, as a rule, anyway. It is titled “Kirkenes Blue” and again I have no idea why (yet!). On the back it says:

In the polar night:
A Librarian afraid of the dark
A Policeman afraid of the light
A Hacker who collects kicksleds

Together, they can destroy the Web

Now I don’t know about you, but for me those are nearly irresistible words. Especially ‘kicksleds’ (I haven’t googled that yet). However I am resisting them until I am finished exploring “Batdig”.  I’ll let you know what I learn (well, some, anyway; I don’t like to spoil a good book for a potential reader) at some time in the future. Stay tuned . . .

i have continued to make progress with the first of the red pair of wool socks; it is now above the ankle and I have suspended work while I decide whether or not to add a design next and, if so, what exactly. I have some ideas, though. I am still not too happy with the shape of the toe, but that’s ok; I’ve only recently begun knitting socks again, after a hiatus of some decades. The other thing I’m not happy about are the stitches at the sides of the heel, where I was to pick up both a wrap and the stitch the wrap encircles at the same time. If you have never knitted socks with this technique, just ignore this paragraph. I’m not competent to explain the procedure adequately. I shall likely shape the second sock in the same way, just to keep them similar, and in any case, my feet will be warm and the offending bits should be safely out of sight in my shoes. 🙂

The shawl I plan to wear to the wedding on 18 May is coming right along and I am more than happy with it. But, as usual for me, I am not following the pattern to the letter. I decided that the shawl, for whatever reason, is a bit shorter than I’d thought it would be. So I have taken the second skein of wool and wound it into a ball and have been busy crocheting a second triangle, which will form the other half of the shawl once they are joined together. This way I can continue to increase until I gauge I have enough left to complete the border and the dangly bits. And I am toying with the idea of ordering a third skein, just in case I decide to make it longer than the yarn allows. I could use the leftover yarn to make a pair of fingerless gloves or a small hat or . . .

Our meals here continue to be simple and yet amazingly delicious. These photos are of the pizza we had for dinner several nights a couple of weeks ago. Cousin M and I helped with the veggie chopping and Cousin S put it all together after she made the crust. She is very precise in her work, as you can tell. And the results are lovely as well as tasty.

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We went to Vernon just over a week ago and I loved the sight of these frozen ‘waterfalls’ along the highway. We went again a few days ago and most of them are melted and gone.

These will likely be the last pictures of huge piles of snow, as temperatures have been above freezing in the daytimes and even here in our narrow valley, or whatever it should be called, it’s beginning to feel as though Spring is really on its way. I love the smell of the damp earth as it’s revealed to us again. And in spite of the amount of snow remaining (and it’s entirely possible we shall have more before it’s gone forever), I found myself itching to get out and plant things . . .

The willows are beginning to colour up and we have spotted pussywillows and catkins here and there, too. Spring, indeed! But not yet . . . You can see the puddles in the road just south of our place, and that’s not entirely a good sign. We had minimal flooding here last year, but the year before the car had to be parked out on the road and Cousin S couldn’t get to it for work until she had a new pair of wellies brought to her. a few days later, the water was so deep it was higher than the boots. The water came up to the top of the bottom step of the porch that year, partly thanks to a neighbour a few houses away. A renter, he had filled in the ditch outside his place a year or so earlier (flooding doesn’t happen every year and it never occurred to him that it might happen one day).

All the other residents along this part of the road put in larger culverts under their driveways, but this one owner refused, so when there is a lot of snow, the water backs up and floods properties ‘upstream’ from there. When it floods the road, the highway maintenance people come out and deal with it, but otherwise, it’s every person for themselves, apparently. We are hoping for a gradual melt this year, but are prepared to face whatever comes.

The bottom photo is of Mount Ida, taken on a sunny day from outside our grocery store at the Uptown location.

Cousin M got up on the roof and pushed most of the snow off. When I looked out mu window later, I thought the lumps resembled giant sugarcubes and took these photos to remind me later. They are about a foot and a half on each side.

Baked potato, salad and steak cubes one night, Quinoa, salad and the rest of the steak another night. I’m the only one who eats quinoa here, but I’m using up my supplies of ‘odd foods’ before I go away. Quinoa, brown basmati rice, oat flour (although I use that in my scones now and they are quite delicious, if I do say so myself). I think there is still soem buckwheat and the like to use up, too.

As I was wiping my runners off one day I noticed these lovely astilbe plants in the snow right beside the front porch and took a couple of photos. The silhouettes are so delicate against the snow, aren’t they?

On the second trip to Vernon the cousins were going to shop for a new computer and dropped me off at Fabricland to browse for a bit. I hadn’t been aware there was a rack of remnants quite near to the door, but this time it caught my eye. The pictures at the bottom right are of the first fabric that caught my eye; then I chose several others that co-ordinate quite nicely. And then I saw the black strip with the floral design . . . I have been thinking of what to do with it. I’m reluctant to cut it up and I’m thinking it may make an interesting scarf. I tied it around my neck to see if that might work. Of course, it wouldn’t be worn over the red and black lumberjack shirt . . . 🙂  Serger thread was on sale, so I purchased four spools of that, too. And then I spotted the knitting needles. Double-pointed sock needles in sets of five, my preference. And for only $4.00 CAD with 40% off at the till because I have a membership. Very nice and most irresistible . . . They are already in sue, too, as you will see shortly.

The larger picture above is of an old farmhouse that I love looking at when we go by. Just what I’d love to have (well, one of the types I’d love to have; I have rather eclectic tastes in houses, too). The smaller pictures are of the barn and the farmhouse that are now owned and lived in (the house, not the barn lol) by another cousin, the daughter of my Dad’s oldest brother. We lived across the road in a motel when I was seven and we had just moved up here from the coast. It belonged to another family then. Later, my uncle and aunt bought it and raised their daughter there. I worked for them one summer picking strawberries in the front field. The house has had a couple of rooms and a large porch added across the front, so it took me a while to recognize it when I first returned here. It just didn’t match my memories. In those days it was simple brown shingles outside, similar to the house in the larger picture.

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I have been doing a bunch of small tasks as I prepare for my trip; here you can see the rosemary and lavender that I grew in a large planter last summer. I had sage, too, but we needed sage for the Christmas turkey stuffing, so I offered it up . . . most years Cousin M simply digs some out from under the snow, but this year we’ve had more than usual of the white stuff. Back in late summer, I chopped a good handful of these three and infused them in a mixture of oils to create my own hair oil. I’ve used it on my hair a few times and am more than pleased with the results.

I apply a few teaspoons of the oil to my hair, then sit in a very hot tub for about an hour, after which I wash the oil out using the “No ‘Poo” method, which involves washing the hair with warm water and some baking soda, then rinsing with warm water and a bit of vinegar. This gives hair a lovely soft finish and a bit of shine, too. The oil is meant to give a bit of natural colour, but I haven’t used it enough to say if that works or not. I’m considering making a hair rinse with vinegar and water and some of the above herbs chopped finely into it. If I do, I’ll let you know how it works.

Progress on plans for the trip has been quite satisfying, too. I have now booked two nights in the Tartan Lodge Hostel in Glasgow for my first two nights in Scotland. This will give me a day in between to walk about and see the sights. One thing I really want to see, whether I can see inside it or not, is the Barrowland Ballroom. Some memorable concerts have taken place there, including a few with Runrig, and it’s possible that Cousin M’s Dad might have gone there while he was stationed in Scotland during the war. For the first part of his service he was in a forestry outfit and stationed on a great estate. I don’t remember the name just now, but will find out before I leave.

GLA Tartan Lodge Hostel 01

http://www.tartanlodge.co.uk/pictures.html

That’s the Tartan Lodge Hostel above and the Barrowland Ballroom below.

GLA Barrowland Ballroom 01

I’m including a video from December, 1989, when Runrig played here. At about 2 minutes in, you can see some historic footage of the original Barrowland Ballroom, full of people dancing. (there are some nice shots of the MacDonald brothers, too, runnning in one segment and further on working on a sheep farm along with a lovely Border Collie). There are some interviews with fans, too, including one girl from Germany who says she saw them 27 times, in four countries, that year.

I shall check out early on the 16th of May and catch a train to Edinburgh, about an hour and a half away. If the trains have been held up due to rain, which apparently happens at times, I will have to take a bus. The train would be more comfortable, I think, especially since I will have both a large suitcase and a backpack.

There is a lunch planned for the 16th for all the wedding guests who are coming from overseas and I’m looking forward to that, too. I know the bride’s parents and sister, as well as some of her friends, from when she and I worked together at Lewiscraft in Edmonton.

I shall be staying at the High Street Hostel in Edinburgh for six nights in all, so I shall have time to see a few sights. Apparently the hostel is walking distance from Edinburgh Castle, with Arthur’s Seat next to it, and a few other places of interest, including the statue of Greyfriars Bobby; I read about this faithful dog as a child and since, too, and it will be thrilling to see the statue for myself.

EDI High Street Hostel 01

http://www.highstreethostel.com/

The Royal wedding is on the day after my friends’ wedding, so I will not be in London for that, unfortunately. Still, I have been told that many of the pubs will show it on their tv sets and that there are likely to be street parties that evening. I shall see how rowdy it is, but I may venture out for a bit just to be part of the fun.

Remember I said I’d bought two more sets of sock needles? In size ‘0’, by the way, which is 2mm in size. I read in a post by Ms. Snail that if socks are knitted on smaller needles and also more tightly, they wear better and so won’t need darning as quickly. So here is what those two sets are doing now:

This is the latest in my sock creations and so far the ones I am happiest with. The yarn is Kroy sock yarn, so washable, and the colour is a variegate called “Clover Colours”. I fell in love with the colours back when I ordered the moss green wool for the shawl for the wedding.

The balls are very dis-similar in colour (as you may be able to see from the first photo), so it’s not possible to make a pair of matched socks, well, not exactly, anyway.  I found a way around that, though. What I have done is to pull the yarn from inside to begin one sock and use the yarn from the outside for the second. It’s working out even better than I’d hoped. I found a different pattern to work from, too, so I’m more pleased with the toes. In future, I shall begin with more stitches so as to have a more usual rounded toe instead of the point. I’d forgotten how addictive sock knitting can be; now I see that one day not far off I shall have my own ‘sock drawer’, full of handmade knitted socks.

I’ve saved the best news for last: I now have a ‘home base’ from which to make as many smaller journeys as I can manage. I will be staying with a friend of my friends in Tacoma. He owns property in Surrey, south of London. So I shall likely see more of the ‘Big Smoke’ than I expected, an added bonus.

I will be returning to Canada in late October or early November, not staying for a year or more as I had hoped. One of my incomes would be stopped if I were away over six months and I can’t manage at present without it, so I shall simply have to pack everything in that I possibly can before I have to come back. I find it rather ironic that I must live here even when there is currently a near-zero vacancy rate and what little is offered to rent now has sky-high prices. But that’s how it is, for now. So the long-term plans continue to morph and that’s fine with me.

There is more news about one planned trip, but I shall save that for another post. It’s getting late here and I have to be up early, as I’m having my right eye measured in the morning in preparation for the second surgery. I’m feeling quite positive about this one, as the one week exam showed that I have regained 90% of my sight in the left eye and in early May I shall have laser treatment to remove the remaining cloudiness. So in the end, I shall probably have sight better than I’ve had most of my life.

Now, let’s have a little music, shall we?

Faileas Air An Airigh sung by Rory MacDonald (and the rest of Runrig) with the Glasgow Islay Gaelic Choir. The title translates as “Shadow on the Sheiling”. A Sheiling is a rough hut or shelter used by those herding cattle or sheep in more remote pastures.
The lyrics translated into English:

There’s a shadow on the sheiling
A shadow on the sheiling
The ship is waiting at the head of the bay
Early on a May morning

The sun of our memory is rising
The sun of our memory is rising
Walking the streets of foreign countries
And the cities of another era

The evening is calm and the skies are warm
The sun is in the west, a great ball of gold
The ocean is like a mirror, blue without blemish
And great is my desire to be in Uist with you

We will lift up our voices
We will lift up our voices
Although I am now so far from you
We will never sever

And here are Runrig singing An Ubhal As Airde with the Bethany Choir in Harlem, NY, USA. The title means “The Highest Apple”. Runrig were in New York as part of a charitable concert after 9/11.

The Highest Apple
The garden is well stocked
With mighty trees
With fruit growing for the whole world
Ripe, sweet
And bitter apples
And the one apple
That is beyond reach

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Who amongst us
Can exist a single day
Beyond our own time and our own limits
Countless and futile
Are times I’ve climbed
To reach and taste
The forbidden fruit

The winds will blow
And the sun will shine
From generation to generation
Through the trees of the garden
But the day and the hour
Will surely come
To take the highest apple
From the knowledge tree

Last, something different.
One of my favourite violin pieces is this: Bach’s Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins
featuring Pinchas Zuckerman and Itzach Perlman, conducted by Daniel Barenboim
My youngest son played this with his closest friend and it brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! Enjoy the good in the world and know that the rest will pass . . . I think of you all as I knit and first thing in the morning most days, too.

Happy Dances!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Hello, my friends! I do hope February  is treating you well so far; not too cold (or hot) and all that. And I also hope you are finding consolation and joy in the indoor time, with  handcrafts to do and with cooking and baking keeping your home warm and cosy (and smelling delectable!). We’ve had all that and more; as you can see from the photo, there was a birthday here (not mine) and Cousin S and I made the birthday boy smile with our creative approach . . .

That’s certainly the case here, with the snow still coming and the snow-blower piling it up in great heaps.

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But I have been quite happy being indoors. Yesterday I finally !! finished darning in the yarn ends on the two tuques and then I handwashed and sort of blocked them. I say ‘sort of’ because the yarn is acrylic (I know!!) and doesn’t block well. But I think I worked out the larger part of the ‘ruffling’ at the crown. For now I have given up on finishing the matching scarf for my sister. I have run into or created challenge after challenge and what began as a rather fun thing is now more cumbersome than anything. I’ll finish it; just not sure when.

And so, finally! I have sent off the tuques to my sister, along with a birthday card and a wee gift. I didn’t take a photo of it, but I’ve shared that before here: it’s the dark green tea cosy I knitted when we were in Edmonton the summer of 2016.

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Knitted Tea Cosy

The cosy will cover our Aunty’s teapot, which I gave to my sister. We were both close to our Aunties and this sister has Aunty’s medium sized Brown Betty teapot.  Her birthday was in January, but I think she’ll enjoy receiving a package even when it’s a bit late.

I left the tuques unwrapped so she could see them herself and then wrap them, so I included some wrapping  paper and red yarn. They are a gift from both of us, after all.

I was on a bit of a high after getting the tuques done, so today I (also finally !!!)  finished the patterned end of the five foot long scarf I was completing for my friend in Tacoma. It was meant to be a Christmas present for her husband in 2016. Today I not only finished the pattern and end, I closed off the end with Kitchener stitch. You knitters will know what I mean. For the rest of you , Kitchener Stitch is a way of joining two pieces of ‘live’ knitting (i.e., still on the needles) by using a yarn needle and the tail end of the yarn to create a row of ‘knitting’ between them, making them seem to be one continuous piece of knitting. I have pictures to show how it looks: the top right photo shows the end of the scarf. I still have to  join the other end, the one where I began. It feels good to have the pattern section finished! My friend J knitted nearly all of the middle section and I did the patterns, so it’s been a joint project. When I put the scarf around my neck, it hangs down just past my waist on both sides, and I’m quite tall.

Saturday, 17 February

My, how the time has flown! I am still busy, but enjoying it, too. I have always been rather ‘all or nothing’ in some ways, which is probably not the best thing to be. Still . . . the two groups I am participating in on facebook have been very helpful in getting me back on track in regard to working on myself and changing my life. It might have been a bit crazy to volunteer to post the daily exercises for the first group, but I found it such a helpful focal point when someone else did it in January and I was hoping that ‘someone’ would do it for those of us who continued through February. And I’ve always said that if you think ‘someone’ should do something, the best place to find them is in the mirror . . . and then I signed up for this week’s sewing group . . . Well, that is a good thing, I think. But everything is taking longer than usual, with glare bothering my eyes  at times. And the worktable that I use is shared with the cousins. They are planning to replace the carpet in the addition with laminate flooring, so Cousin M has been packing up his lovely collections of antiques and family pieces in preparation. But he only needs the table at times, so I’ve been able to use it, too.I cut out two sets of pieces for the cute little Gnome jacket a couple of days ago, then realized that I had cut out the pieces for the outers, but not the lining pieces. The jacket can be reversible, but I have decided to make it one-way. I’m using cotton fabric for the outer and flannelette for the inner. Nice for a 3 month old, don’t you think? I shall have to make a 6 month size, too; I am expecting another grandchild in April and I doubt that a jacket will be used much before autumn. I won’t post photos that aren’t mine, so here is a link if you’d like to see some pictures of this cute Gnome Jacket.

Yesterday I printed out the pattern pages for the Shirtzie for myself and got them taped in the right sequence. PDF patterns are great, but they are taking me a bit to get used to! I am using patterns from Stitch Upon A Time and I’ve been buying them for a while but this is the first I’ve actually done anything with so far. I was going to make the Brazi with a long waist, but finally realized the Shirtzie would be similar, but with sleeves. I still haven’t decided which length I want. You can see photos of the Shirtzie if you click on the link.

I will be adapting the top, though. I don’t like having a contrasting band, so I will use the same material and extend the band downward to make a longer waist, similar to the yellow top of one of the dresses.  Then I can wear it with jeans as well as the skirt. I will have longer sleeves, too; it’s going to be cool for much of the time I’m away. The skirt will be as close to a circle skirt as I can manage with two metres of this fabric:

I have ordered some more stretch knit fabric from Purple Seamstress Fabrics in California. I think I told you another time about the ‘Fearless Dreamer’ fabric I bought from her with the co-ordinating Jade solid for the outer layer.

fearless dreamer fabric

Fearless Dreamer fabric!

Mel is wonderful and I love the service! I ordered the Evergreen colour this time, as I need something that will work with the floral that is destined to become a circle skirt or as close to that as I can manage. I wanted it too set off the Meg shawl as well. And I ordered some power mesh; it will make the top more flattering for someone my age. Mel lets customers start a ‘pile’ and will hold it for up to two weeks, which gives one time to add a little something else. Now who would do that?  🙂

Getting ready to cut out the Gnome pieces, I pulled all the cotton pieces out of the closet and was surprised (I’m not sure why; this is nothing new for me, trust me!) to see what  a large pile of fabrics I’d amassed since I returned here last May. I was planning to make some dolls, but circumstances and working conditions weren’t easy to fit together and I tend to be easily discouraged by some things. Or I used to be; not so much these days!

The top left corner picture is the newest, flannelette, fabrics; the photo in the bottom right corner is the older fabrics, some of which I bought in Tacoma, but most of which I accumulated here. I think there are still some dolls in my future . . . and several Gnomes.

I’m in a bit of a hurry to get the first two Gnomes stitched up, but the skirt and top can wait a bit; I have finally gotten a date for the surgery on my left eye (to remove the cataract) and it’s set for 01 March. Less than two weeks away now! I’m not happy about having to have a fixed lens, but the ophthalmologist doesn’t recommend the new flexible ones and besides, they cost over a thousand dollars at present. So I shall see how my vision is after the surgery and may opt to put off surgery on the right eye. I’ve been using some alternative treatments, but the left eye cataract is the hardest the doctor had ever seen, he said, so maybe I should have begun some time ago. But it wasn’t possible earlier. Still, it isn’t the end of the world.

Today I cut out the inner parts for the two Gnomes and it took me about two hours. I’m slow with the new rotary cutter, but I can tell I’m getting more comfortable with it all the time. The thought of cutting into the knit fabrics is still a bit daunting, but I can practise on the XXL Tshirts, so it should be all right in the end. (yes, I know . . . if it isn’t all right, then it isn’t the end . . . LOL)

Tomorrow (actually later today; it’s after midnight on the morning of the 17th) I shall pack up the tuques with a note about the patterns, the tea cosy I made for my sister to use on our Aunty in Edmonton’s teapot. I gave her the teapot because she drinks tea and I more often drink coffee, and I have the antique coffeepot that belonged to Aunty as well. We both loved her and I thought my sister should have the pot. I was making the cosy for fun for myself and I offered to make my sister one in blue, her (and Aunty’s) favourite colour (this one is dark green, a favourite for our Mum and myself), but she liked the green one, so it will be on its way, too. And a birthday card; she had her birthday toward the end of January.

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Now, in the midst of all this finishing up of old projects and beginning of new ones, you are probably wondering what has happened to the ornaments project for the winners on my 500th blog post contest? Quite understandable, really. Well, I have to tell you, I have begun and scrapped three sets of ideas and now have settled on the PERFECT one! It’s based on an idea that’s been percolating  around in my brain for a couple of years, just waiting to be brought forth into the world. I think you will like it when you see it. I have not bought anything new for this; it’s a scrap-happy project, which I love.

I am not going to post this just now. For one thing, I haven’t added pictures and I have plenty to add! For another, it takes me  time to find the right music and I do love to do that. And, lastly, I want to get to bed and get up early tomorrow. I had begun getting up at 6.30 am because I am back to my morning routine after quite a long time of hit and miss practise; mostly ‘miss’ and occasionally ‘hit’. I did well with the new programme for a while, then one night was up too late, up in the night for long periods, then slept in. That took me right back to where I had been for so long. But the early stages of learning to walk is mostly composed of falling down, so no worries; I’m simply resolved to succeed and will be out of bed early again tomorrow morning. I keep reminding myself that in less than three months I will be getting up just after midnight here, because Scotland is eight hours ahead of us. So. back on all of my various wagons . . .

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Especially this one! LOL

23 February 2018

Sorry this has taken me so long; life continues to be a bit busy.

Updates:

I tried stitching the Gnomes, but have not succeeded yet.  Cousin S’ machine has several new features (to me) and I needed help getting the bobbins threaded and then the needle. Then the thread pulled out of the needle three times and I needed her to thread it for me each time. Quite frustrating for someone who is used to doing for herself and for others.  So I’m planning to pick up my glasses from the Vernon storage next time we go. Tomorrow if weather permits, but it’s been snowing even more and that may continue through the weekend. below you can see the gradual buildup of snow on the porch roof just outside my bedroom window. The first photo was taken last November, the last one this morning.

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In the meantime, though, I have continued to get pieces ready for the ‘500’ prizes; assembly may have to wait until after the surgery a week from today. I’m hoping that seeing things like sewing machine needles will be easier then.

However, I have two more pieces of news:

I have finally begun the Meg shawl! Here are images of the first skein after I opened it up, the label, the first ball of yarn wound, then the shawl in its various stages to date. I added two close-ups, as the colour in my photos isn’t true. The darker colour is more what it looks like in real life; the lighter shows off the stitches a bit more. I did have to frog it back a few times, until I got the hang of it. Counting the DTRs  (UK terms) accurately has made a great deal of difference, of course.

LOL I am loving this pattern SO much! The finished shawl is meant to be about 9.5 feet from end to end. I am a quarter of the way now and it’s measuring 18 inches, which means it will come to 6 feet. Possibly due to the fact that I am using a smaller hook than called for; I crochet fairly loosely and it looks better now. Still, there is a border and I expect the shawl will stretch a bit. I’m considering ordering another skein and using the leftover yarn to make a matching tuque or maybe fingerless gloves.

And now, a news flash: my wonderful package has arrived!

There is a story behind this package . . . I ordered some yarn back at the end of October. I had planned to enter a contest for a crocheted square based on a faerytale of my choice. I knew just the one and spent some time selecting colours I thought would work. I placed my order. Then I went back to look at the contest rules and realized I’d missed an essential step: the colour range was given! And not many I had ordered were in that range. Oh, well . . . I decided to go ahead and simply design my own entire blanket, documenting each step so that, if it turned out as planned, I might offer the pattern for sale.

But the package took a very long time to arrive . . . no worries, though. I hadn’t asked for it to be sent Express Post or any other expensive route and I’m patient as a rule, AND I did have a few other things to do in the meantime. but by January I began to wonder . . . so I emailed Wool Warehouse and enquired as to when I might expect my order. They were very glad to hear from me as they’d had a computer glitch that resulted in some orders’ payment being accepted, but the orders themselves not finding their way to the warehouse. Hence they were not picked and mailed. I worked as Promotions Manager for a warehouse back in the day, so I understood very well. Unfortunately, they were out of one of the colours so I opted to wait until they could send the entire order. As I said, I had other things to do in the meantime.

Cousin M brought it home and, without telling me, simply put it on the dinig table where I sit at meals. What a wonderful surprise! I was so excited to see what was inside; choosing colours is most important to me and choosing from a laptop screen isn’t as satisfactory to me as choosing something I can see and hold in my hand. But I trusted Lucy of Attic24’s recommendation of the yarn itself and I ordered a colour chart for future reference as well. This link is not to Lucy’s latest blanket, whose CAL just finished, but to a previous blanket, which I am completely in love with. Scroll down about 2/3 of the way to see the finished blanket with its borders. It’s the colourwash effect that has captured my hooky heart forever!

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I do have to confess that this yarn is acrylic.  I am not a fan of plastics; quite the opposite, in fact, and I am slowly switching over to natural fibres only. But this much wool is not in my budget at present. So in my tutorial I shall include information about the GuppyFriend bags that Ms. Snail has posted about. Here is her report after she tested the bags for herself.

I don’t have a Guppy friend yet and all my things except for items I’ve made using acrylic are natural fibres. But I shall have to buy one for the Faerytale Duet Blanket once I am ready to launder it.

If you have made it this far, I expect you are as curious as I was to see the contents of that bag.  There was the aforementioned Colour Card and a roll of the sweetest label tape, which I shall sew into everything I make from now on. I’ve included a picture of the handwritten note at the bottom of my invoice, too. I will certainly be sharing photos with the company!

Aren’t those colours inspiring? Want to know which ones I chose?

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I can hardly wait to begin this project, but wait I must . . . sigh . . .

And here’s the very best part (well, the yarn is the best, of course, but this . . .)

The yarn did NOT arrive packaged in a plastic bag, which is what I’d expected. No, it came in THIS:

. . . a gorgeous organza bag tied with ribbon that has the Wool Warehouse logo imprinted on it. I love the bag nearly as much as I love those colours! Ant the bag will go with me on my travels this year, holding my nightie and the like. So feminine!

I finlly took a photo of my suitcase, which was a gift from my friend J in Tacoma. She took it with her to England the last time they went and I feel it is quite excited about going on a trip with me next.

The first three photos are of the big suitcase; the last two are my backpack, which is carry-on size and has wheels and a pull handle. I’m hoping it’s within the allowable size to take with me. On econo flights one is not allowed the usual ‘personal’ item, so I am taking my Peacekeepers jacket and using its pockets for my food, etc.

And one last thing, as Columbo would say . . . last week I sent in my passport application! AND I was checking out Yarndale and saw that their tickets were finally available for purchase, so I have one of those, too. NOW I’m getting excited!!

Well, that’s it for Happy News today, my friends; I shall be back soon, I expect. I’m not sure how long after the surgery I will be permitted to use the computer; I do know that I shall have to spend a couple of days at least just resting. I have been lining up some things online that I can simply listen to without watching; some Abraham Hicks tapes, thank you, Marlene! and Downton Abbey on netflix) (again; lol!) I’m familiar enough with it that I can see it in my mind’s eye and happily follow along.

I wish for you all the very best of weekends and weather. It’s still snowing here . . .

Love and Light to each of you; you make my life so much richer! I’ll be over to visit soon, so do have the kettle on the hob, will you? And maybe a plate of bikkies . . .

And there MUST be music! Especially if you have survived this even-longer-than-usual post . . .

Sissel and Russell Watson with Bridge Over Troubled Waters from the 2002 concert

Sissel Kyrkjebo singing In Dreams

. . . which brought me to this: Roy Orbison and the Travelling Wilburys rehearsing “You Got It. A short clip bit cool, with Tom Petty’s commentary at the beginning and end. I hadn’t seen this before.

. . . and this: a short clip, also, this time of rehearsals for the Concert For George.

Eric Clapton, unplugged, with Change the World

I’ll leave you with part of Runrig’s Year of the Flood concert at Borlum Farm at Drumnadrochit,  Loch Ness on 18 August 2017, exactly 11 years to the day before the concert I will see.  But I expect sunshine and gentle breezes for this final gig.

From Tough to Fluff

Hi, everyone! It’s been an interesting day . . . the appointment with the ophthalmologist went as well as could be expected. I have to have an ultrasound on the left eye, as the cataract is too dense to allow anyone to view the back of the eye.That should be scheduled within a couple of days, but I have no idea how long I’ll have to wait for it. Measurements will be taken in early January and then there will be two surgeries, about a month apart. With any luck, I’ll have fairly normal vision from then on.  So that’s the ‘tough’ part of my day. I’ll spare you the details, as I’m rather interested in getting to the ‘fluff’ part of this. (Thanks for that, Marlene )

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The good news was very welcome and  It came in the box shown above We stopped at the mailboxes on our way into town and there it was! he thought of opening it got me through the appointment and all the waiting.

Finally, we were home and I got out my scissors to slice through the tape. Her’s what I saw first:

I loved seeing the care they took with my order and the checkmark gave me confidence that all would be as expected. And it was!You can see that the box came from YarnCanada, based in New Westminster, a bit east of Vancouver, BC.

Here’s what I saw next:

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Have you guessed yet? The lovely green skeins at the top are what I ordered for making the Meg Shawl, designed by Amy of Love Made My Home and for sale on Ravelry.. I wrote about that in the previous post. I was a bit wary about ordering based on a colour seen on the internet, but it was just what I hoped for. So I downloaded the patterns I’d bought from Amy and printed them. And then realized that I couldn’t read yet, due to the drops i’d had in my eyes at the eye clinic. Most frustrating, as part of me wanted to just dive in and start! The enforced wait was good, though; I had a wee look around and realized that I have four socks on the go, along with the two tuques, a knitted tea cosy ready to stitch together, a scarf to complete and a few other knitted or crocheted UFOs. sigh . . . So I shall be a good girl and finish a few things before I begin the shawl Oh, but I didn’t want to be good!

I slowly unpacked the contents, these first:

All four are Paton’s Kroy sock yarn. Washable wool and nylon for strength and durability. Two are Red and two are Clover Colours. The variegated are quite different, but I had been warned and was expecting that. I don’t mind some difference in my socks, but I do like them to look like a pair, not things I rescued from somewhere. So I have figured out what may be a solution. I shall use both ends of one skein (the more colourful one, I think) to knit from the toes up on both socks, as far as the yarn will go. Then I will switch to the darker skein and use both ends of that. We’ll see how that works. In any case, I shall have warm feet!

The red yarn is so I an make an easy, little concentration needed, pair of socks. Just knit and knit and , oh yes, make the heel . . . then knit some more. It will be a good break from the Fair Isle, much as I love patterns and stranded knitting. Next time I shall order four skeins for a pair of socks and use the wool for stranded knitting (one stitch one with yarn 1; the next with yarn 2 and so on) That will make the sock thicker and even warmer.

Here’s a close-up of the Meg yarn; the colour is between these two pictures in real life. It i a washable wool and SO soft and cosy. I could use a jumper made of this!

And a closeup of the Clover Colours:

They really are different, aren’t they? It would be interesting to use them for stranded work, I think.

Now, just before I finally lifted the smaller skeins out, I saw this:

I thought that was such a ‘sweet’ touch that I emailed the company immediately to let them know that I’d received my package and was grateful for the wee gift.

Disclaimer: I did tell YarnCanada that I was going to write about the quick service and the extra detail, but I am not affiliated with them in any way and will receive nothing for promoting their company and products. They did tell me, in a note on the packing slip, that if I post on Instagram about the products, my name will be entered into a draw for $50. Another nice thing, I think. That will have to wait for tomorrow,; I’m still seeing things far more fuzzily than usual.

I’ll wrap this up with something completely different: Africa! Do watch it; it’s one of the most inspiring performances I’ve seen yet!

See you soon, my friends!  ~ Linne