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This is mostly a long-overdue Thank You to Kym. I promised her (some years ago, I have to admit) that I was going to use her pattern to make myself a tea cosy. And then life happened and I never … Continue reading
Hello, my friends. The latter part of the summer was quite stressful and I didn’t get back here as planned. But things are better now (not as I’d have liked, but still, it’s all good).
My cousins turned the new sewing/computer room back into a spare room for me, and without asking me (I would have turned it down if they’d asked; she deserves the long-awaited room of her own), so I am back in the house again for the winter. I was up to eight layers of bedding in the MH by the beginning of October, as it was slowly growing cooler. I’m hoping to create a better solution for next winter, though.
In the meantime, we have gotten back to our former routines and it’s all good.
I did finish the scarf. I couldn’t locate my yarn needles and refused to buy more, so I used my crochet hook and followed the instructions for Kitchener Stitch, only backwards, if that makes any sense. I was dragging the yarn through,not pushing it, as with a needle. But it worked!
I was deeply saddened to learn that Pauline, of The Contented Crafter, had passed away suddenly on her birthday, just a few days before mine. One of her friends, Alys, gently informed all of us, but it was still such a shock. Somehow, I always expect my world to go on, unchanged . . . Alys wrote a lovely tribute and you can read it here.
I’ve mentioned above that I finished the scarf. I sort of finished the blanket, too, but then decided to add some more at each end before creating the border. I attached the yarn, hooked for a couple of days, then got busy and put it aside. It’s under my bed now (in a bag), waiting for me to complete it.
I used three of the flower stitches from Attic24, the Dahlia, the Sweet Pea / Trellis, and the Hydrangea. All these patterns are on the blog forever and you will find them listed on the left side of the page, down below the blogs she loves. You can see the detail in the close-up above.
Also under the bed is my much-loved and also much-neglected ‘Barn Cardi’. I’ll be knitting again soon . . . but first . . .
I posted this photo back in August of 2014; hard to believe it’s been that long . . . I’ve done a little work on the sleeves since then, but not much. That’s one of my beloved Aunties modelling it for me up at Mum’s apartment. She was under five foot tall, so it came almost to her ankles; on me it’s just above my knees.
You may remember that I call the ‘blogoverse’ my Virtual Village (partly because I dislike the word ‘blog’; it doesn’t sound friendly somehow). Most of my closest friends I’ve met here in the Village. But I’ve also met a few in other online places. Facebook brought me a special friendship. We both belong to Winwick Mum’s Knit and Natter group. One day I noticed that someone had posted about her new loom and I commented, offering to help if needed, as I have some weaving experience. We began replying to each other, discovering a host of shared interests besides knitting and other yarnwork. So I created a private page and we have met there happily most days ever since. Sometimes, when things are challenging, we don’t need someone to fix things, or us. We just need a listening ear and an understanding heart. And that is what we both have discovered. I haven’t posted much since my Mum died, as my life changed overnight and then continued changing. My friend’s support has meant a lot to me. She was going through various challenges herself and she has told me that my support was helpfut to her, too.
Anyway, when I was trying to figure out a solution to my housing situation, I slowly became more discouraged and ‘down’, even though I know that staying positive is far more helpful. I felt I couldn’t post because it would just sound like whining and complaining. And I couldn’t seem to write with hope and positivity at the time. That seemed fake. Ah, well . . .
One thing we share a love of is Attic24 and Lucy’s designs, which are free and will remain available on her blog forever. I was so lucky to actually meet Lucy when I went to Yarndale at the end of September, 2018 and later, in early November when I was able to join her crochet group twice in Skipton, Yorkshire. Lucy is a quiet, unassuming and thoroughly delightful person and I shall always remember my time there and our short chats. So I was delighted when my friend began crocheting and then bought some of Lucy’s kits. I was excited to see her blankets develop, even as I was working on my own black, white, grey and red one. If you remember, the stitches I chose were all from Lucy’s patterns.
So . . . one day, my friend asked which kit I would choose if I were to buy one. And I told her The Summer Harmony. The next day I had a message saying that she’d be pleased if I would accept that kit as a gift. I knew she meant it and I was overjoyed to accept. As it turned out, there is no specific kit for the Summer Harmony; the kit that was ordered is the original Harmony blanket, which I think of as the Spring Harmony, as the colours remind me of Easter eggs, spring flowers, etc. They are beautiful, colourful but not overbearing, and the joining yarn is three skeins of a pale grey with a tinge of violet, appropriately named Parma Violet.
The kit arrived on 23 September, but I didn’t begin for a few days. We also both belong to the Fans of Attic24 group on facebook. Someone in the group had posted about organizing the yarns for the granny square blankets. So this is what I did:
I purchased some Large size ziplok bags and labelled them. I snipped a tiny bit off one corner to aloow yarn to pass through. I put one bag of yarn into its ziplok bag. I have a special cloth bag from Yarndale; it pays homage to the film, Babe, with the quote on the front: Baa, Ram, Ewe. (really, you have to watch this film to appreciate the bag. Itfourteen colourss often billed as a children’s film, but, like Charlotte’s Web, there’s a lot in it for adults, too. And I fell in love with the farmer from the beginning.) But back to the kit:
Lucy has included in the pattern a chart of all the squares and their placement in the finished blanket. There is also a list of the fourteen squares and the colours to use for each. So I chose the bags containing the colours needed for the A Squares and proceded to make all nine of them, round by round. When I finished a round, if I had to put the work aside for some time, the squares went into the bag containing the next colour, along with two hooks and a small pair of embrouidery scissors.
Eventually I had 126 squares, all in neat piles nine high.
I laid the piles in order, A to N, on a whiteboard covered with a small towel to keep them from slipping. Above you can see the final squares just waiting to form the last row.
Then came the joining. I’d heard that Lucy’s Join As You Go (JAYG) method had caused trouble for some people, so decided to try it and, if it was not working out, to use a different method. The only trouble it caused for me was that sometimes my mind would wander off and begin thinking about some issue or other and my hands don’t do so well without a certain amount of supervision . . . but crochet is fairly easy to frog back and re-do, thank heaven. I had to do that on a few of the squares, too, including one that was frogged back two rounds, as I’d completely messed up a corner and forgotten to do the usual visual check before proceeding.
A close-up of the JAYG . . .
Above is the first row, joined and laid out along the back of the futon couch which is also my bed at night.
I figured out another trick to make the joining go more smoothly (and to prevent me from getting the fourteen squares in a strip mixed up). I have the piles of squares laid out on a small whiteboard now, in order from A to N. I choose the squares for a strip, beginning with the final one and with the first one on top. Then I use a folded piece of scrap yarn, drawing it up through the centre holes with my hook. This way I know that the top of the pile, with the next squate on top, is the right one (just in case the pile gets joggled and turns topsy-turvey). If I have to put the work aside, I tie the tails and the loop into a neat bow and then I can put the stack on top of the loose squares.
The other day I passed the exact half-way mark of the joining. I’ve completed six strips now and have only three to do.
Then it will be on to the eight rows of border . . . and after that I intend to work on the blanket I created this summer, as well as completing the sleeves for the Barn Cardi and adding the button and buttonhole bands to the front. I shall have to choose suitable buttons for it, too. I have such fond memories of showing this work to my Mum as it progressed and of my Aunty modelling it for me. It will be a joy to wear . . .
My birthday was just a few days after Pauline’s, so my friend and I considered the kit to be a birthday gift. A few days ago, inspired by my progress and wanting to share the joy she’s having working on her own blankets, my friend informed me that she and her husband wanted to send me another kit, this one for Christmas! Again, she asked me my preference and again I chose the Summer Harmony. This time I looked up the pattern and discovered that the yarn is sold in a set named the Original Pack. The pattern is the same as what I have already; only the colours are different. It should go even faster, as now I have this down. I am so, so grateful to have these lovely blankets to work on! But I did tell my friend they should be the last, as she doesn’t need to keep feeding my yarn habit. Besides, I have another black, white, grey and red blanket to make, along with all the other projects waiting for my attention.
Almost finished . . .
Ta-Dah!! Now only the border to add.
The border called for eight rows, each a different colour. I did that (and for once, I had followed the instructions throughout the project! A rare thing, if you recall . . .) But somehow it did not look quite finished to me. There was yarn left in all the skeins, so I chose three more colours and added those. You can see the results above. These colours give me so much joy! I sit at the laptop and turn my head ot the left and there they are . . .
It can be very easy to give; it’s not so easy to receive. It’s a lesson I’ve learned over my lifetime. I remember reading a story once, written by a young woman. She said that her mother was the kindest, most generous woman, not only to her, but to all she encountered. The Mum was the sort, that, if you came to visit and admired something of hers, would thrust it into your hands as you were leaving. But she wouldn’t accept anything from others. Finally one day, frustrated, her daughter told her she was being selfish. The Mum was astounded, as she gave without reserve. But her daughter told her that she (the mum) received so much joy and satisfaction from giving, yet denied others the chance to experience the same by giving to her. I was happy to read that the Mum ‘got it’ and changed her ways and I began adopting the same attitude.
I still find it easier to give, but I’ve also learned to receive with gratitude and joy. I think that receiving gracefully is a gift we give to others when they seek to bless us. So soon I shall have two of Lucy’s blankets adorning the back of the futon couch where I sleep. Spring and Summer, so delightful! And if my friend and I ever manage to meet in person, we can wrapup in our ‘virtual hugs’ as we sit together, chatting over handwork and a cuppa. And surely some biscuits and chocolate . . .
Here is the Summer Harmony makings on the day the package arrived. It still looks the same, but now it lives under my desk. I’ve been very good about not peeking at all; I will open it on Christmas Day, when my friend and I plan to do a Zoom or Skype call so we can share the excitement. I’ll be sharing photos with you all here, too, as I go along. I did get the additional ziplok bags ready to hold the new colours (some are the same as the first blanket, so those bags will be used again), but this time it will take longer to finish; I have a very exciting new project, just begun, which is a thank-you to my friend and her husband (she knows about it, but I won’t be sharing photos until they have received the gift).
And, in honour of the blanket being a ‘Harmony’, I’ve been listening to plenty of music as I hook . . . from nine year old Amira singing “O Mio Babbino Caro” (conducted by Andre Rieu), to Bach (the 1/4 Goldberg Variations by Canadian pianist Glen Gould) to music from my childhood and youth (too many to name) to, of course, a wide variety of Runrig concerts and singles. No surprise there, eh? So this blanket will be infused, not only with the harmonies of a lasting friendship, but also a variety of the musical harmonies from my life.
Sorry this has taken me so long to complete; I still haven’t solved the issues of uploading photos, but did find a workaround at least.
Hope you are all doing well and staying busy and creative as we head into winter.
More to come soon . . .
Well, my lovely friends, it’s been exactly four months since I last posted! Not that I didn’t work on a few drafts in that time, but things kept morphing and I didn’t want to be handing out ‘fake news’ lol. But now I have some ‘real’ news for you . . . so grab a pot of tea or two (or whatever you fancy) and read on . . .
Living with my cousins was never really ‘the plan’ as you know, but when I couldn’t find a place to live back in 2016, I was here for a few weeks and they let me know I’d be welcome if nothing materialized. And I have been well cared for but now it’s been a total of over two years (and counting) out of the past three and a half. So I’ve been looking even more diligently for another solution.
I think I mentioned that I’d joined a couple of handwork clubs that meet on Tuesdays in nearby Enderby; a crochet club that runs year-round and a knitting club that takes a sabbatical in the winter. So I’ve made a few friends and have been planning to settle somewhere close enough to get to those treasured Tuesdays.
Back before I went to the UK I’d asked at my credit union if I were eligible for a mortgage (and, if so, how much). I asked partly as a lark, assuming they would laugh in my face (but ever so politely, of course). And I was told I could borrow up to $60,000. Not enough for property or a house in today’s market, but it did get me thinking, so I narrowed my goals to a mobile home. And I found one, in an Enderby mobile home park. Best of all, it was large enough for me to move all my things from storage immediately so I could both free up the storage fees and begin sorting, using and downsizing. Even better, the owners had bought it from the parents of one of the young women in the crochet club! It had a large side yard and a garden shed, too. So I was planning a good-sized garden and then putting much of the produce up for the winter. All of that right down my alley . . .
But, as always, there were a few bumps on that road. Turns out the federal government changed the rules on borrowing while I was away and even though I am now debt-free (I still had an outstanding loan and a balance on my credit card when I first asked about a mortgage), today I am only eligible for a $20,000 mortgage.
Not great news. Then one of my sisters offered to help with the down payment and my cousins offered to co-sign on the mortgage. So the credit union approved my request. (keep breathing; there’s a lot more to this story!)
I agreed with the owners on an offer of $67,000 (they were asking $71,900) and started the legal ball rolling. I had an inspection and an appraisal done. The appraisal showed it had a market value of only $63,000 and the inspection said it would need a new roof in a couple of years, plus a few other rather minor things.
So CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) turned down my application and the credit union only works with CMHC, so that was it!
However, I learned a long time ago to ask for what I wanted, but to add “this or something better”. So it wasn’t the devastating news you might have expected. Disappointing, though, for sure. But no tears were shed, just a few heavy sighs heaved . . . and back to the drawing board . . .
Since any affordable mobile homes were in the same price range and I would have had to pay for inspections, appraisals and lawyers again, I decided to downsize my search parameters, so to speak. And began looking at motorhomes / recreational vehicles. My cousin was looking, too, and he found one that looked possible (and it had been posted only hours earlier!). The ad said to call between 6 am and 5 pm and it was two minutes to 5! And then I had to look up the phone number. So it was two minutes after 5 when I reached the owner, but he didn’t mind. That was on Monday, 10 June. It’s a motorhome, but I shall call it “the unit” until I have decided on a name for her.
The next day, 11 June, the cousins and I drove to Kamloops and then turned north on #5 highway, which leads to the Yellowhead. But we weren’t going that far this time. Half an hour later we came to Roy’s place, halfway between Kamloops and Barrière.
My cousin checked out the unit, as he has plenty of experience with vehicles and has always kept theirs in tip-top condition. Turns out Roy bought this unit new in 1989 and has maintained it well over the years, so in spite of being well-travelled, it’s in pretty good shape. It did need new tires, though, and a few other things, so the price came down to something I could afford. Roy and his wife took their last trip in 2016, returning in October. She went downtown to pick up supplies for the house and never came back. I’m assuming it was a heart attack. That was so sad to hear. And then, sometime later, Roy had a stroke, so he is no longer driving. Even sadder. He still lives on his own and keeps the place in good shape, even managing the ride-on mower (he has six acres and at least one of that is his yard).
So, after a brief consultation with my cousin, I left a down payment and we went home, stopping for ice cream on the way to celebrate.
That evening I signed up for BCAA (adding the RV package and the level which would cover me if I went to the States or another province), which offers roadside assistance should one run out of gas, lock themselves out of the vehicle, need towing, etc. It would be in effect by 9.30 on Wednesday evening.
Tuesday, we went to Enderby to get a cashier’s cheque for the remainder owing. This time it was only my cousin’s wife and me, so she offered to let me drive! I recently obtained my temporary license, as my Alberta one had lapsed over five years ago and I hadn’t re-applied earlier due to my poor eyesight. So a few more times, plus a refresher on parallel parking (I know how, just haven’t done it for so long), and I’ll be driving on my own again. Oh, did I mention? The driving went great and I couldn’t believe how long it’s been since I was behind the wheel. Honestly, it felt like last week. So that’s another good thing.
Wednesday, we got up very early and were on the road before 8 am. A couple of stops in Kamloops and then we were back at Roy’s place. My cousin got busy getting the unit ready to roll and I began dusting the cab with a damp cloth. Kamloops and the surrounding area is desert country and very, very dusty!
We drove to Barrière next, registration papers in hand, to do the transfer of ownership and buy some insurance. First lady we spoke to was a rather snippy young thing, but I know to be nice to government officials; they can make life rather complicated if they take a dislike to you. She pointed out that Roy hadn’t signed the registration papers (not required until you sell a vehicle and I hadn’t thought to check it). Next, she quibbled because I’d put the cousins’ names down as “Smith, Daniel and Barbara” (not their real names). Turns out it has to read, “Smith, Daniel” then “Smith, Barbara”. I offered to print the surname a second time just above the given name, but apparently that is not acceptable. I have no idea why, as the entire thing is only going to be entered on the computer anyway. And Roy’s signature was required on the transfer papers as well, so off we drove. There was some muttering about beaurocracy, petty officials and the like for a few minutes. Then we turned to the more positive aspects of the motorhome.
Back at Roy’s, we got the papers filled out and signed and double checked, then, back to Barrière. When we walked into the ICBC (Insurance Corporation of British Columbia) this time, the first lady had gone for lunch. And the second lady was all one could ask; happy, jolly and with a way of imparting information I needed without breaking the ‘rules’ about such. She was so awesome to deal with that I told her she should be cloned and every ICBC office should have one of her.
So, back to Roy’s. (The trips to Barrière and back totalled over 2 hours, by the way) My cousin finished the necessary work on the unit. I asked Roy if there was anything in what he’d removed from the unit that he didn’t want and offered to buy it from him. Turns out he only removed it all because he thought he should and had no interest in keeping all the memory-laden items that he won’t be able to use again. So I bought it all (to save him from having to deal with anything I left behind) and we loaded it back into the unit.
We drove to the corner of McLure Ferry Road and Hwy #5, where Carl’s Country Market was not yet open. But there are picnic tables off to the right behind the small building and we had our lunch there before getting back on the road. And here she is in all her faded glory . . .
We had an uneventful trip home, with a few stops. No over-heating or anything like that. A bit bumpy, though, as the wheels had flattened a bit in the three years she sat.
And here she is inside:
I like the main-level bed and the extra storage over the cab (instead of the usual bed). There’s a huge storage compartment under the bed, too, and it’s accessible from outside at the back as well as from inside. If you prop up the mattress with the stick lying there, two hatches are exposed which give even more access to the storage.
The tub has a moulded-in seat so you can sit and soak your feet if you want. I’ll like that, too.
The kitchen has a stove has four burners and an oven and a microwave above, a double sink, a good-sized refrigerator with a freezer above. Also a pull-out ‘pantry’ rack meant to hold canned goods. I’ll probably use it for bags of beans and the like.
Roy left a charcoal briquette BBQ, a Coleman propane stove and a Coleman camp lantern in the unit as well as a few small tools, like a lovely sharp hatchet with a leather cover, a hammer and more.
In case you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited to finally own a ‘home’. I’m thinking of it as a form of Gypsy caravan, so in that sense it really will be my home.
Well, you must be thinking, that wasn’t much of a five-cup post! Oh, but wait (as they say on tv), there’s more . . .
Something very interesting has been going on in my life, but I can’t explain it, really.
A couple of months ago a lady from my crochet group invited me to join a Gratitude Group she and a few friends had created on facebook, where every day each member posts 10 things they are grateful for. I got back into keeping a Gratitude Book while I was in Yorkshire, but had filled it shortly before I was invited to join the online group. Perfect timing!
In May another of the ladies from my crochet group (who is also part of the Gratitude Group) offered to treat me to a workshop in Vernon. Three of the ladies and one of their friends were going. (this isn’t related to the crochet group in any way; it’s just that our friendships began there) Of course, I accepted. The workshop was one a couple of them had done before and I’d been finding their references to it quite intriguing.
So . . . the workshop . . . there were the five of us and two leaders who are professional therapists. We began with a guided meditation. We were told we would see stairs and be asked to go up them, then look around at the view from the top. The venue had changed from a yoga studio to the therapist’s office, so space was a bit limited. I was in a reclining chair, which freed up the floor space for four people on yoga mats. But the leader was around a corner from me in the next room and her voice was very quiet, so I didn’t hear much of what she said. But I’ve done this before, so after a while to get attuned, I remembered about the stairs and going up them. (there were more detailed instructions, which I missed) I ‘saw’ the stairs and then pictured being at the top and beginning to look around at the view. This is where it got interesting!
Flying toward me was a giant golden eagle, bearing something in its talons that I instinctively ‘knew’ was a gift. I had a brief impression of green and gold. Then it swooped down a little, as they do, then rose to settle gently right in front of me, looking into my eyes, and slowly folded its wings. It’s wingspread must have been about 20 feet wide; it reminded me instantly of the giant eagles in The Hobbit who rescue the hobbits from the treetops when they are under attack. I could have easily ridden on the back of this one.
It had the usual fierce appearance of any eagle, but it felt gentle and kind, with wisdom in its expression, especially the eyes.
I wish I’d had more time to explore this, but just then we were called back into the present. We shared about what we’d experienced, then the two therapists offered some insights to each of us. I wish I’d had a pen handy and written some of it down.
A short break and then we filled out a couple of questionnaires before each creating a Vision Board. I’d thought about it on the drive down and felt I ‘should’ focus on either finding a home (the deal with the mobile had just fallen through) or else on increasing my financial abundance (so that I could more easily afford a home). In the end, though, I went with my gut feeling and simply leafed through whichever magazines drew my attention, cutting out words and pictures as they spoke to me. I deliberately didn’t look for anything specific. I just made two piles, images and words. We didn’t have much time, so I glued the pieces onto my board fairly rapidly, not trying for a ‘perfect’ arrangement as I usually do. Then the boards were put aside to dry.
Another short break and back to the floor and the chair. This time it was a hypnotherapy session. I went very deep immediately and have no recall of anything that was said, except that I clearly heard the leader say the word ‘eagle’, which caught my attention, of course. Then, all too soon, we were being called back to the present place and time.
We gathered our things. I rolled up my vision board and fastened it with paper clips to make it easier to transport. I was given a ride home, where I set the vision board on end under my small desk and didn’t touch it again.
A few days later, I was talking with my youngest sister on the phone (she’s the one who was helping me with the mobile purchase) and she mentioned that she was going on another cruise with one of her close friends and that they were going to invite our RN sister to go with them. Sounded interesting.
The next day she called again to say the friend wasn’t interested, having taken this cruise before and our sister couldn’t get away. So . . . would I like to go as her guest?
Well, yes! Peace Pilgrim had a practise that I’ve done my best to emulate; she asked for nothing from people, but accepted gratefully whatever was offered. She lived like that, walking the roads of North America, for 24 years, covering over 100,000 miles and without a penny even from the first day. So, I gratefully accepted the invitation.
It’s a 26 day cruise (although we may spend a couple more days at the end before flying home) that begins in Puerto Rico, goes up and back down the Amazon river, then to Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo, ending in Buenos Aires in Argentina. The ship is one of the Viking fleet, so there are plenty of Norwegian touches and I’ll enjoy that so much.
So, for a week or more, I felt like a giant yo-yo, bouncing from my ‘homeless’ situation to my ‘going on a luxury cruise’ situation. A bit of a disconnect, that . . .
After a few days, I opened my vision board and saw this . . .
Notice the ocean images and the ship; the motorhome is a Ford Corsair Medallion and ‘corsair’ originally was word for a pirate or privateer from back in the 16th to 18th centuries. It also means a pirate ship from those times.
So here I am, about to live in a Corsair and also about to go on an ocean cruise!
The photo is the centre is of a croft on the Isle of Harris, Scotland, where Harris Tweed comes from. The picture (top right) that looks like a rock thrusting up from the sea is actually a detail of a painting. The loom is on my wish list, but it also stands for our lives; the warp is the parts of our life that are set and the weft is the part we control through our thoughts and actions. The colours in the ‘Joy at Home’ picture are colours I want to bring into my home, in this case the unit. (I really have to give her a proper name, don’t I?) The acorn spoke to me because it’s a seed, but also because my last name is Oakes. The words, or some of them, puzzled me at the time, but are now self-explanatory.
Something is afoot, isn’t it?
I’m still not sure where I will be spending the summer (or the winter, now). I’m here at the cousins’ until the new tires are on and the engine has had a tune-up. Staying in an RV park during the summer runs about $38 per night, more or less, so I’m looking for something affordable on private land. The original plan (famous last words) was to do that for the summer, then move to an RV park at the end of October. Mid-November, actually, as I’ll be away from mid-October to mid-November and the unit will stay at my cousins while I’m away.
But I learned this week that the park may be closed this winter for landscaping.And it’s a bit pricey, almost twice what a pad rental in the MHPark costs.
So, obviously, more adventures await me . . .
I hope you are all doing well; even though I haven’t been posting for so long, every one of you has been remembered often. Love and Light to each one of you!
Here’s some music for you, if you are so inclined . . .
I love the video as much as The Water Song. Not what you are expecting, I’m sure. It’s such a strong idea . . . blessing water and being grateful for it.
And, of course, Runrig’s Oran (Song) The lyrics are on the screen and also below. this is one of my favourites.
I wish you all a wonderful week and a restful weekend . . .
Hi, out there! I’ve been a tad busy and somehow the days just flew by and here we are, a month on from my last post. This after I promised myself to do better . . . oh, well . . .
By the way, if you are curious about where I am living, go here:
That link should show you the bottom west part of British Columbia, with Vancouver (BC) in the lower left-hand corner and Salmon Arm near the top and east of Kamloops. That will give you the general idea. If you zoom out you can see where we are in relation to the entire province.
And this link is a close-up of our area:
We live just west of the words ‘Grandview Bench’ and slightly east of the 97B Highway.
And for comparison, this shows the size of our province compared to the UK:
. . . and where I live should be somewhere along the French coast north-west of Paris and south of London. (now that I think about it, I should live there!)
I thought I’d throw those in here because I’ve had numerous remarks from people who don’t know my province. The towns where I live or have lived are generally quite small and not shown on average maps.
Back to what I was saying . . . The days have been cold here, as you can see from the photo, especially the last couple of weeks, but with some nice bits, too. I’ve begun attending a couple of handwork groups in Enderby, a smaller town than Salmon Arm (also fairly small, though) and about 15 minutes drive south and eastish (Is eastish a word? Guess it is now!) from here. And now you can see where those towns are 🙂
My cousin’s wife S and I were out shopping for Christmas and stopped in a lovely wee coffee shop in Enderby. It’s called Country Coffee House and it’s too bad all you lovely people live so far away . . . I bet you’d like it as much as I do. Awesome home-made soups and equally delicious lattés, too. A super-friendly owner/operator and so is the group of crocheters; they call themselves the Happy Hookers and they are, too. I’ve been twice so far and there has been a small baby both times, not in the group, but the mums are friends with the group members, so I got to see them close up. Hard to look and not touch sometimes.
I finally began using one of the balls of yarn I bought on Leka Island in Norway (I was quite disappointed because it was spun in China, of all places, so not actually the Norwegian yarn I’d hoped for. But I never had the chance to shop at an actual Norwegian wool yarn shop, and at least this carries the memories of the little convenience store on Leka and of my time there. I have begun a free-form cushion cover (free-form because I am making it up as I go along; I’ve already had to frog it a couple of times when it wasn’t working out the way I wanted. Price you pay for not following directions . . .) The right photo shows just a bit of the latté I was drinking as I worked. I felt so reminded of Cooper’s Cafe in Skipton, where I met with Lucy’s Knit n Natter group at the beginning of November.
So . . . when S and I stopped in that day in December, I saw the sign about the Happy Hookers and realized they meet the same day as the Sit n Knit group meets at the library, which is a very short block up the street. Crochet in the morning and Knitting in the afternoon! How lucky is that? So three weeks ago cousin M drove me to Enderby in the morning. I had a great time with the group, then had soup and a bun, and left, second latté in hand, in time to join the knitters at the library. I was first there that day, so got to sit in a wing-back chair right next to the electric fireplace! I’ll have to take a photo of the fireplace and the chairs to share next time I go.
Members of both groups were SO friendly and welcoming! And the groups are open as to what one brings to work on, so I saw both knitting and crochet there, and I think there was a piece of cross-stitching at the knitting group.
My cousin was great about coming to pick me up again when the group was over. Both groups meet for about two hours each, so it makes for a good day out. And the cousins get a day at home without me. We get along fine, but I’m still a visitor . . .
Two weeks later, I spent the day in Enderby again and I’ll go next Tuesday, as well, barring blizzards and/or freezing weather. We’ve not had a real blizzard, but I got up today to a gentle snow falling and I think it’s still coming down . . . still, this winter will be very short compared to winters in Edmonton, and it’s been surprisingly warm for the season, with not much snow until after Christmas. I don’t mind, really. We will need the moisture in the ground this summer when we are back on forest-fire alert. Not looking forward to that, I can tell you!
In other Crafty News lately:
The black and white Did I mention that I bought fabric at some point in January? And then some more . . . no idea what got into me 🙂
The photo in the bottom right corner is what I bought when I was first back here. I’d borrowed a book about making “Inchies” and felt inspired. Inchies are tiny quilts an inch on each side (2.5 cm for you youngsters). Then my cousins gave me a gift certificate for Fabricland for Christmas. And by then I’d borrowed another book, this one on making cloth bags, “The Bag Making Bible”. I fell in love with the bag on the cover, decided to buy fabric to make it, then fell in love with more . . . and the post-Christmas sales were on, from 70% off to “buy one metre, get two free”. The poppies on a dark background really wanted to go home with me and then I saw the black and white with poppies, ladybugs and more . . .
The black and white fabrics are actually going to become bags, but the first fabric I chose pulled at me to make it into a summer dress, and when I couldn’t find more of it in our store here, Cousin M drove me all the way back to Vernon (a half hour or so each way), where I bought the first length, so I could buy more. And while in the store the second time . . . I saw the same pattern, Queen Anne’s Lace, on a blue background (the first, in the larger photo above, has a background of deep red)! And I saw another lovely floral, too, the one on the left of the top small picture. I’ve had my eye open for large florals for some time now, and this is the first I’ve seen of any. The fabrics in the bottom right photo are likely to end up in bags.
I have my patterns traced and ready to use now. And the fabrics have all been ironed (I really, really love ironing, especially fabrics!) But I hit a snag when I tried to decide what dress pattern I wanted to use. At first I was thinking of one of my patterns from Sense & Sensibility, especially the Romantic jumper (see the link) or the Edwardian dress, but somehow I don’t see those as suited to large florals. But I did like the idea of making a sort of sundress that I could wear over a long-sleeved white blouse, partly because I bought a cotton blouse that I really like in Oslo while shopping with my cousin Tove and it would be perfect under a jumper. (In Canada a jumper is a sleeveless dress worn over a blouse, not what we call a sweater, which is a jumper in other countries).
Still in Crafty territory:
I don’t know if any of you will remember the Fair Isle style socks I started before I went away last spring. I was using the recommended size of needles and they were looking all right, with only a few errors in the patterns. (I started these before I had my cataracts fixed and actually thought that chocolate brown yarn was black!) Anyway . . . after reading what Dr. Snail recommended on her blog, The Snail of Happiness, where she said that using the smallest possible needles would result in a thicker, longer-wearing fabric, I decided to frog all five of my partly-completed socks. So far I have only found three of them and above you can see what they looked like and the beginning of wee balls of yarn after the frogging began . . .
I have begun another pair of socks, well, one sock so far, and am still working on the toe. This time I’m making another change: I’m using two strands even for the toe and heel, partly to keep the sock consistent in thickness but mostly to give me the extra cushioning. I love comfy socks, especially in the winter!
I’m so glad I knitted some mitts for myself while I was in Yorkshire, too. I’ll share the story behind those in another post, though. They are wonderful to wear right now, but not quite as warm as I’d like, due to the fineness of the yarn. So I’m planning on making some larger ones to wear over them next year if we get another really cold spell . . .
The last photos today are of my trip up to Stirling, the campsite (with the blue tent I borrowed from my housemate of three days), my wee sheep companions Flora and Anastasia seen here peeking out of my sandals, where they stowed away so they could see Runrig for themselves (another story that will have to wait) and a couple of shots from Friday and the first night’s concert. I have no photos of the Saturday at all. I’d misplaced my iphone (thought I’d lost it) and used only the camera. Those are among the photos I accidentally deleted in late September. I’ve been afraid to look at my iphone photos until today, worried I might not have any from the gig. So I’m quite happy to have these, at least.
Music is still a major part of my day, as you likely expect. Runrig are having the most fabulous “Poll of Polls” on Twitter right now. I missed the first couple of days, but have taken part every day since then. Each day they take the songs from one of their fourteen studio albums, divide them into three or four groups and have us vote for the one we like best in each group. The winners move up to Round Two and eventually we will know which song is the all-time favourite of Riggies around the world. It’s been lovely, revisiting the music itself and also remembering those two nights last August. It was exactly six months ago on the 17th and 18th of this month, only a couple of days ago. That was the first anniversary I had in mind when I began writing this post.
The others are what would have been my Mum’s 96th birthday tomorrow (Wednesday) and my Aunty’s 99th birthday on the following Sunday. It’s hard to believe they will have been gone three years and four years, respectively, this April. interesting that they were born four days apart and died two weeks apart. Bittersweet days, for sure, as I remember the companionship we shared for so long. I miss them both so much. April is also the first anniversary of my last Auntie’s death and she would have been 94 this coming May. I was lucky to have as much time with each of them as I did, though, and that is what I shall focus on this year.
Here’s a Canadian song for you, sung by Bruce Guthro of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, who was lead singer for Runrig for the past twenty years. He has a lovely voice and this is an old favourite song of mine in any case. Farewell to Nova Scotia
Another of my Canadian favourites: Lucille Starr (born in Manitoba, but grew up in BC. Quand le Soleil dit Bonjour aux Montagnes, also known as The French Song back then.
Kate and Anna McGarrigle singing Dancer With Bruised Knees
One of Kashtin’s most beautiful songs, Ishkuess
And, of course, Buffy Sainte-Marie. This is No No Keshagesh and
I’ll leave you with Judy Collins and Cook With Honey
And I’m off to listen to more Runrig and then vote . . .
All the best to each of you. See you soon!
Hello, my friends. Did you think I’d gone into retirement? Nope, still getting adjusted to being home again and also working on plans for this coming year.
I hope you all had a good Christmas or Solstice or whatever you celebrate in December. And I wish you all the very best in this coming year.
I still have not faced up to downloading the photos that remain on the camera, although I did get all the pictures off my old iphone. My youngest sister was going to send me her ‘old’ phone, but there have been glitches. (trying to get a new sim to work in the old phone so I’d have something until the new one arrives. Oh, well . . .) I love techy stuff when it works and the rest of the time . . . I think now she is planning to send me something else.
Above is a photo of the Yarndale bus that ran between the train station and the exhibition site. (This year Yarndale was on the 29th and 30th of September and I had a ticket for both days. The first day I walked up through the park – you can see some photos of that walk on Lucy’s Attic24 site. The second day I took this bus, as I was on my feet the entire day both times, except for one short sit-down in the afternoon on the Saturday. There was just SO MUCH to see!) I think the bus picked people up from other locations, too. I loved the bunting on the front and inside there were small mandalas as well, making it all very festive.
You can’t tell from this selfie, but I wore my Runrig Tshirt and jacket to Yarndale. That’s a small crocheted butterfly pinned to the inside of the collar. They were this year’s donations, made by volunteers around the world, and were sold to raise money for this year’s charity, Pioneer Projects. They raised 2,339.94 from selling these! BTW, did you know that the collective noun for a butterflies is a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies? I love that! I chose a green one made in the same way my Mum used to make them (for fridge magnets, in her case) and partly because green was her favourite colour, as it is mine. If you’d like to see the amazing number and variety of butterflies, go to Lucy’s post about Celebrating Yarndale 2018 and scroll down.
I mentioned the Runrig jacket and Tshirt because at least four women stopped me to say they had been at Stirling on that historic weekend, too! It was wonderful to stop for a minute and reminisce with others who felt as I do about the band and their music.
Now I’m going to pick up where I left off in October, more or less . . . I did make it to Skipton twice more to join in with Lucy’s Knit n Natter group. Such fun! Everyone was lovely to me and the staff at the cafe were, too. In the afternoon, both days, I wandered around Skipton, just drinking things in, then went back to Cooper’s Cafe for a snack and coffee or tea before heading for the train and Heaton. Yummy food they have!!
The first afternoon (02 November 2018) I wandered in and out of a variety of shops, mostly the charity shops, looking for souvenirs. I found Wooleys and had a great chat with the lady there, but they didn’t have what I was looking for; English wool! The wool was all spun in Italy, as I recall. But it was fun connecting.
Then further up the High Street, I found the ginnel (Yorkshire for a passageway with a roof) leading to the Purl & Jane shop! I can highly recommend P&J; Jane has created over 2,000 designs in the past 20 years, by the way (read her About page for more information) and she carries a gorgeous selection of yarns. I was so happy to finally see some English wools!! (She is an official supporter of The Campaign for Wool) So I bought three balls of variegated green, needles and one of her patterns. And some buttons. The design only calls for one, but I could never have too many buttons!! I got to pet the dog, too 🙂 This yarn is for a special project and I’ll post about that soon, with photos of the buttons. (Anticipation 101, remember . . .)
On my way back to the ginnel, I noticed a small shop that looked interesting; it had some unique items of clothing hanging on a line along the wall. I was SO tempted, but I resisted and went on my way.
Next week, on Friday 09 November, I spent the afternoon a little differently. I made my way back to Purl & Jane to show Jane my progress on the green project. I was so thrilled with her design, I bought some lovely deep rose (close to magenta) in the same yarn. And more buttons! I had my project about half done by then and was very happy with it.
After another chat with Jane, I walked back toward the ginnel and this time I decided to go into the wee shop I’d resisted the week before . . . just to have a quick look, you understand. I have a card somewhere, but can’t locate it just now. I’ve looked up the address and it says now that the shop called “Sophie’s Handbags and Accessories” is permanently closed. However, I don’t know if that’s the shop I was in or an earlier one. I hope it’s an earlier one . . .
Another lovely lady to chat with, and some very unique clothes, handbags and other things, like jewellery . . . I continued to resist, although I did stop to admire two ivory lace dresses, each with a matching jacket and fully lined, to boot. Luckily, they were a Small and a Medium. I held the medium up and it appeared to be likely to fit, although I haven’t worn a medium for a few years now. It was midi length, too, which I prefer. Resolutely, I put it back . . . and left the store . . . and got through the ginnel . . . all the time thinking of how lovely it was and how much it was my dream dress (I’m not easy to please when it comes to clothing and my life is more suited to jeans and Tshirts in any case). And then I found myself thinking that I’d never have another chance to buy it and I did a quick U-turn and returned to the shop! I’m pretty sure none of you do such things, right? I held it up to myself again and it still seemed like a close enough fit. And it was only £10, which is about $17 Canadian. And I succumbed to temptation then and there!
I noticed a stack of sheer scarves, too, and bought a couple of those as well. Oh, I was happy as I walked away! More on the dress in a bit . . .
I walked up the High Street further and stopped at the Holy Trinity Church of England. I happen to love historical buildings and churches and cathedrals in particular. I found some small items in the gift shop from another lovely woman and had time to light candles for several people, including all my blogging friends. This church was founded in the early 1100s and it was an amazing feeling just to sit in it. The stonework and stained glass were marvellous to view.
After my time in the church I found my way to Skipton Castle next door.
The castle seen from the air. You can see the church just above it and off to the left a bit is the High Street with the Market set up.
I had been told it was free to visit the castle, but it isn’t anymore. As I’d splurged on the dress, I didn’t want to buy a ticket. I was able to walk into the front bit (where you can see people in the shadows), almost up to the courtyard. And I did get to see some amazing details inside the small room where they sell the tickets, postcards and so on.
I really do have to get on with downloading the photos from my camera, don’t I? I’ll make that a priority this coming week.
In the meantime, once I arrived back at my room in Heaton, I took out the dress and tried it on . . . and it fit! I am still a bit in shock at that, really.
(I was walking so much and eating as well as I do here in BC, but not snacking and it made a big difference. I did put a few pounds back on over Christmas, as I do like the Christmas treats, but it’s coming off again now that life is back to normal and my cousin’s wife and I are walking four or five times a week at the local arena.)
I don’t have a photo of me where you can see the entire dress, but this selfie will give you the basic idea (please forgive the poor quality; it was night and the lighting was a bit dim. Also my hair, as it was the end of a day spent outdoors in the wind):
This is the prettiest dress I have ever owned and I’m looking forward to wearing it this coming summer. And I found a website that carries the exact shoes I’ve been thinking would suit it, too: Pompadour French Court Shoes! The heel height and shape are what I like best in a heel and the lace seems like the perfect finishing touch. The shoes won’t be in the budget for a while, but one day . . .
Well, I’d best stop here and get this posted. I’ll see you again soon . . .
And here’s some music for you:
Mingulay Boat Song by The Corries, who were my favourite group up ’til I came across Runrig. Now first place is shared between them.
Somewhere, featuring Canadian Bruce Guthro (lead singer) and Scottish Julie Fowlis (special guest) on the vocals. The video is beautiful, and the words, too.
Hello everyone; I’m quite frustrated with trying to use a tablet that’s a combination of touchscreen and keyboard. It’s a great idea, but the technology sure needs a lot of work.
Anyway, I thought I’d touch base here, at least, as it’s been so long since I posted. Uploading photos is very challenging, so I finally decided to just write and to post photos once I’m back in BC and can use the laptop.
This trip has been pretty amazing, although I’ve done little in the way of ‘touristy’ things. Instead, I opted to save up and visit Norway for three weeks. Definitely worth it, as I was able to stand in front of the house where my Mum’s grandfather was born and spent a couple of nights in a bed and breakfast that was the old Priest’s House at that time. He was likely baptized there, as the church burnt down the year before he was born.
In August I moved north from Surrey to a room in Heaton (part of Bradford, Yorkshire) and have been quite happy there ever since. The woman who manages the renting of rooms loves to cook the way I do (meaning that we use recipes as general suggestions and then just ‘wing it’ ) so we take turns cooking and share the meals. We both like spicy middle Eastern flavours, too, so there is often a lot of that going on. I’ll be sharing some of the ‘recipes’ I’ve concocted and some of Karen’s, too, later on. And I’ve adapted a vegan recipe for almond flour chocolate fudgy brownies that are possibly the best I’ve ever made. And a frittata and a couple of varieties of houmous, too.
Just a few days after I arrived here, Karen loaned me a tent and sleeping bag and one of the owners of the house loaned me a sleeping mat and an emergency blanket (just in case) and I returned to Scotland to see Runrig for the first and last times. Yes, I said ‘times’!! I had a standing/camping ticket that included a campsite and free entry to a Ceilidh on the Friday night plus entry to the last-ever concert on the Saturday night.
My camping neighbours helped me figure out how to set up the tent (no time or space for a trial run beforehand) and then we helped other campers and made new friends as we did so. Then one of their friends came along and they brought him over to meet me. Colin had an extra ticket for the Friday night that he said someone had given him and he was looking to give it away. So yes, he gave it to me!! I gave him a donation for a cancer charity he supports, as I didn’t feel right about having a ticket for free when others had paid so much to be there. And it was worth every minute! So I missed the Ceilidh, which I heard was fabulous, but I got to see Runrig twice!! Something that’s been on my ‘bucket list’ since I first heard them perform on youtube.
The final concert was exactly eleven years previous, to the day, and I’m happy to say that while it did rain a bit, it was nothing like 2007, when it rained all day the day before, all night and then through the day of the concert. People were up to their ankles in mud, although no one left . . .
Anyway, it was all my heart desired it to be. I took photos on the first night with both my ancient iphone (4S, I think, and now they are up to 10 or 12 or something like that); the second night I couldn’t find the iphone, so only used the camera. I found the phone on Sunday when I was packing up, though, luckily for me.
I mention this because at the end of September, I went to Yarndale in Skipton, Yorkshire. I took plenty of photos the first day with the same camera. On Sunday, as I was sitting on the train heading back again, I was trying to reset the time so it would be accurate. I have no idea what I did wrong, but suddenly the camera ‘ate’ all the photos on it; over three thousand! Shocking, at the time, as I’m sure you will understand. I had copied some of my photos onto a data stick (the terabyte sized external drive that I brought with me for storage worked perfectly in BC with the laptop, but refuses to talk to the tablet. So I bought a data stick. Downloading three days worth of photos took me nearly ten hours, tying up both the device and the tablet for that time, so I’d been putting off downloading more. Lesson learned, I tell you!
Now at first I was a bit down, to say the least, but then I heard that our friend Wendy’s grand-daughter had passed away and that’s a real loss. I have not felt down about my photos since. I figure that I have my memories and also whatever is on the iphone and that is more than I ever expected to have in this life, so I’m not going to be whinging on about losing my photos. I have felt quite wary ever since, though.
Well, Yarndale, too, was more than I’d hoped for. I met a couple of the bloggers I follow and that was a huge thrill for me. Christine from Winwick Mum and Lucy from Attic 24. Both were beyond kind and took time to chat a bit. I was lucky to meet them at the end of the second day, when the crowds had thinned out. Lucy invited me to attend some of the coffee and handwork meetings that occur at Cooper’s Cafe in Skipton and I will be doing that during the first two weeks of November.
I will post about some of the exhibitors I met (and a couple more bloggers, too) once I’m back in BC. I was very much looking forward to meeting the folks from River Knits UK, but although I visited the booths beside them and across from them, somehow I missed them. I was quite disappointed about that. They are a small family that hand dyes British wool yarns and until recently lived on a narrowboat. Now they have a house and the narrowboat has become the dye studio. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while and wanted especially to see a couple of delicious-looking green yarns.
I’m having a hard time believing that it’s mid-October already and that I have just over three weeks left of this amazing adventure! I will have been here six months less a day when I get back. It hasn’t always been easy and there was a long list of things I’d hoped to do that didn’t materialize, but that’s because I chose to do the things that mattered most to me, which certainly included the time in Norway with my cousin and on the island of Leka (where my great-grandfather and one of his sisters were born). I rather think there will always be items left undone on a list like that and the positives have been so wonderful that I really have few regrets.
I shall be returning to my cousins’ for the rest of the winter and looking for a place of my own, hopefully by late spring or early summer. I hope to buy a second-hand caravan but failing that, to rent something affordable where my storage items can be brought and then gone through. I won’t be keeping most of it, but I do want to enjoy the things I collected for my retirement, at least for a while. And there is plenty of crafting supplies, so life will not be the least bit boring.
I am quite sad to be leaving the UK; it’s been one of the best summers of my life, and I’ve had quite a few great summers in my 70+ years! Just living an everyday life here has been exactly what I both wanted and needed. Time out from all the stresses of the past couple of decades and nothing familiar to trigger sadness, nostalgia, etc.
I’ve made some new friends here and that has been so good, too. I wore my Runrig jacket to Yarndale and met three different people who had been in Stirling for The Last Dance and who stopped me to talk about Runrig. That was most exciting!!
I’d love to return for another visit and next time I’d plan more and have a larger budget. But really, for me the experience of living in another country and just savouring the days and everyday sights has been the best thing ever! I had a similar experience in Mexico City back in 1987, when I was there for a week on my way back from a work-related trip to Costa Rica (the world’s first all-organic foods and products trade show; my boss and I represented four or five Canadian growers) and so I learned that for me, living like a native of another country is one of the most exciting things I can do.
I haven’t done much here, either, but did go with Karen to Saltaire, a World Heritage Site, and that was lots of fun, too. I particularly enjoyed the David Hockney exhibition at Salts Mill, The Arrival of Spring. That was especially interesting because the paintings were all created on an ipad, then printed out, five feet tall. There were signs saying it was ok to take photos so long as we didn’t use a flash, and I checked and it was true, so I have pictures of some of the images that most spoke to me.
There are a few sites here to visit still, like Lister Park and the art gallery there. So I shall have plenty to write about once I’m settled in BC again. I’m feeling ready to post regularly again, which I think is a good sign.
The other two things are Guy Fawkes Night, or Bonfire Night, on 05 November and the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, a very important day for me. When I made Peace Poppies for the installation last year, I kept one for myself and I shall be wearing it this year and attending one of the ceremonies, most likely in Bradford.
I haven’t forgotten my 500 winners, either, although I’m sure they think I have. I started and then scrapped several ideas and now I think I’m going to go for something more simple and just get it done.
I’ve been working on a crocheted string bag for Karen these past weeks, I’ve finished my second pair of socks and have decided I like them so much I shall frog back the two pairs of Fair Isle style socks (three of them are up past the ankle, too). But re-making them on 2mm needles will make them both more attractive and longer-wearing. I like darning socks, but have no intention of making it a weekly event! 🙂
I’m knitting a sort of hat now, mostly because I know the cold weather is on its way; we’ve already had one fire and I’ve been using a hot water bottle for weeks now. And two thick duvets! I’m lovely and toasty warm at night, though. So nice!
I’ve done some rock painting and some watercolours, nothing wonderful but plenty of fun as I can sit at my lovely tall window and enjoy the view as I work. I shall be taking a teacher’s advice from when I lived in Victoria, BC. He said to never throw out a watercolour you are not happy with. Instead, cut it into small squares and sort them by colour into envelopes. Once you have enough, use them in collages. I’ve been doing some writing again, too, but nothing spectacular; just that I enjoy the doing.
I walk up to the allotment every few days, taking the bucket of compost material as a contribution. Karen’s friends have the allotment and during the summer we would find a bag of some delicious treat or other on the front door. And so I made the acquaintance of English runner beans . . . I shall be growing these next summer, even if I have to plant them in pots or buckets! Huge and delicious and wonderful in a frittata as well as on their own. If you’ve never tried them, do!
I bought two fresh mackerel when Karen was in New York for three weeks and the new room-mate hadn’t moved in yet (so the fishy smell wouldn’t be a problem; smells from the kitchen rise to the top of the house and we all know how fish lingers for ages . . . I stuffed them very lightly with chopped garlic and basil and fried them in a cast iron pan. Oh my word!! I would eat them every day if I lived here on my own!! And they were quite large, but only one pound each, so a real bargain. It seemed a shame to live here, where fresh fish abounds and in such variety, too, and not to try some at least once. I’d almost forgotten how much I love fresh fish.
When I was in Surrey, a new friend and I drove to Littlehampton and I bought fresh cod fish and chips and we ate them at a table by the beach. Unforgettable!
When I was a child, Dad and sometimes my brothers would bring home brook trout for supper. And when I was a very young Mum, living on South Pender Island (in the Gulf Islands that lie between Vancouver on the mainland and Vancouver Island, the Big Island), we would fish for rock cod at least twice a week (successfully, too!) and bake them whole in a cast iron frying pan. We dug clams and pried mussels off the rocks, too, and those went into chowders that we would eat three meals a day until they were gone, then we’d make another one. Somehow, I have never tired of any food that I love.
I had some excellent fish and chips at my host’s in Surrey, too, and before I go I plan to try a place in Shipley, where we do our grocery shopping. It was highly recommended to me by one of the lovely taxi drivers.
You know, I was warned several times about Bradford before I moved here, but my experiences have all been most positive. Everyone I’ve met has been friendly and helpful and interesting to chat with. So sometimes I think it’s what we bring to an encounter that defines it most.
Well, it’s late now and I’m tired of fixing the typos that occur in nearly every paragraph. I hope I’ve gotten them all out; if not, please forgive me.
I’ve dropped by the blogs written by many of you, sometimes leaving comments, more often just a ‘like’ to show I’ve been by.
I’d love to tell you about this house and the neighbourhood, and so much more, too, but I’ll leave all that for another post. In the meantime, stay warm (or cool, if you’re on the other side of the world). I’ve missed blogging and am really looking forward to resuming on a more regular basis.
Love and Light to each one of you, my friends. You are in my thoughts every day. ~ Linne
For music, I have only one piece to offer. This is the Tweed Ceilidh band, who played at the Ceilidh I didn’t attend in Stirling. Everyone who did see them loved them!
I haven’t posted much recently; just getting ready for the Great Adventure and all that.
But this morning I had a phone call from my RN sister to let me know that our last Auntie passed away today at 6.35 am, in the hospital. One of her daughters and one of her sons were with her and it was peaceful, which is good. She went into hospital last Thursday with a bit of pneumonia in the bottom of one lung as well as feeling very tired. She has had a bit of a heart condition for some time. She would have been 93 next month and we are all lucky to have had her in our lives for so long. I spoke with her on the phone nearly every night since I went to Tacoma and the calls were always different. We shared such a variety of interests and life experiences. Plus she had so many stories to tell about her youth, growing up with my Mum and the rest of her family.
All the women in our family did some sort of handcraft; the doily was made by this Auntie, the bit of blue is a detail from a small afghan made for her by my Aunty in Edmonton and the runner on her dresser was woven by my Mum. The wee wooden sign is typical of the humour enjoyed by all our family and especially the women . . .
This is a photo of a photo. I took the original when she was visiting Mum and me at Mum’s house in Edmonton, so back before 2006. The china cabinet belonged to Mum and Dad and held a few of Mum’s keepsakes. The wooden plant stand to the right was made by my Dad, who could make pretty much anything. The rocking chair is the one that belonged to my Great-Grandmother, mother of my maternal Grandmother who died in her early 40s. My Great-Grandmother, my Mum’s Aunts, my Mum and myself have all rocked in this chair, holding our babies. It was located in one of Mum’s Uncle’s basement in pieces and my Dad lovingly restored it. The tooled leather seat is the original; the only new bit is one arm spindle, which was missing. Dad made a new one that matches so well it’s hard to identify which it is.
This pitcher belonged to that same Great-Grandmother, who helped to raise the younger kids after their mother died. I heard so many stories about her as I was growing up. The girls, especially, would stay with her for a week or so in the summer and if they were very good during the day, the big treat was being allowed to brush Grandma’s hair before she braided it and got ready for bed. It’s hard for me to imagine a child finding that to be a treat these days.
One of my favourite stories from the days when mum and her siblings were growing up was of the time Mum’s next older sister (Mother to the cousin I’m currently living with and married to my Dad’s next older brother), Mum and this Auntie were up on the roof of what was called the bunkhouse. In the summer, the boys slept there and all the kids played there at times. The main house had one bedroom, which was the parents’, a kitchen off the main living room, where the six girls (one had died at age 10) shared two double beds and the three boys slept on a pull-out bed in winter, when the bunkhouse was too cold. Anyway, the three girls were up on the roof hammering some shingles back on (they had blown off in one of the frequent storms of the ’30s). This Auntie was a few years younger and not so obedient as her sisters might have wished. She was sitting there and reading a book, deaf to all entreaties that she help with the job. So the other two worked right up to her, hammered a nail or two through the leg of her shorts and went on to finish the job. Then they climbed down and took away the ladder, with this Auntie seeming oblivious to everything and immersed in her book. Of course, it wasn’t long before she went to get up and discovered her predicament. I gather she raised quite a fuss before they relented, brought back the ladder and set her free again. This was a cross-stitch kit that Mum had. You will see on the roof of the wooden bridge (meant to represent the bunkhouse, of course) that there are two ‘M’s, actually Scorpio signs, I think. Anyway, they were what Mum had to hand and she stitched them on as symbols for herself and this Auntie, as both their names began with ‘M’. This story still makes me smile.
This Auntie and one of her brothers went to Norway almost exactly 20 years from when I am going to the UK. They were there for the big 17 May celebration, Constitution Day. They went to Lillehammer and saw the house where their father was born and lived, I think until he and two brothers emigrated when he was nineteen. I have been told that we still have family living in that house, although the cousins my Aunt and Uncle visited are now gone.
They also went to Trondheim. Their Mother was born there or near to there and the family lived in the area until they emigrated in 1900. My Grandmother was only nine at the time. While in Trondheim, my Auntie and Uncle met the minister of the Nidaros Cathedral and got to walk down the aisles and sit in one of the pews. We think the family may have attended church there.
My Auntie was only one year older than I am when she made that trip, which encourages me. She spoke so often of wishing she could make one more trip back and even though we both knew it was not possible, we would pretend it was and talk of where we would go and what we would do. I told her she would have to be prepared to camp out at the rock concert but that there would be a Ceilidh the night before and she could dance at that and then again during the concert (my ticket is for standing, not for a seat). She loved to dance so much and would have had a wonderful time. I told her that I would take her with me in spirit and would visit on my return so she could see my photos and hear my stories. I wish with all my heart that was still possible. We talked sometimes of the fact that she might die while I was away or even before and had an agreement that if so, she would accompany me even though I would not see her. I truly hope that is possible.
I am so glad that the last words we exchanged before she went to hospital and again while she was there (during a short conversation on my cousin’s mobile) were “I love you so much.”
She ‘kidnapped’ me once when I was new and I shall share that story another time. In spite of the inevitability of this day, I still feel sad. But she was ready to go and I am also content. It was the passing she wanted and what more can any of us ask for?
Only a little music for today:
Sissel Kirkjebo of Norway singing Going Home
and Runrig of Scotland singing their own Going Home
Take care of yourselves, my friends. You are in my heart today especially.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
That’s the Tartan Lodge Hostel above and the Barrowland Ballroom below.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
23 February 2018
Sorry this has taken me so long; life continues to be a bit busy.
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.
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?
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.
January was busy and February promises more of the same. But it’s a good busy. I will be writing a proper post over the next few days, so this will be short. The course of last month has been completed but the work is ongoing, and quite a few of us are doing the workbook and exercises again. It’s good to have companions on this journey. I am taking part in a shorter, 21 day group, too, that is using a free Louise Hay workbook. Should be fun!
I expect you know that January had a Blue Moon (two full moons in the same month) and that March will have a Blue Moon, too. Which means that February will not have a full moon at all. I had never considered the possibility. Of course, there will be plenty of moonlight at both ends of this month. We had a lunar eclipse, too, but I didn’t realize it was early in the morning, so I missed it. But my son, on Vancouver Island, was up and took this through their telescope:
Which led me to think about a poster that I still have (in storage, of course) that has moved me deeply since the first time I saw it:
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
And that reminded me of the most valuable Zen quote I know:
So much wisdom is so few words . . . the changes we dream of in life sometimes manifest, not in different circumstances, but in a different awareness.
Nothing like a little nostalgia, is there? Not sure what brought that on, but I blame the Age of Aquarius music from the first video.
Music for today:
Runrig’s first album: Play Gaelic I’ve shared this before, but it still moves me.
I think I’ve mentioned that I have somewhat eclectic musical taste. A few years ago, while I was in Edmonton, my friend Gen, whose wedding I’m going to in May, played this for me. I liked it so much her father gave me a CD of their songs. This group is from Somerset and the genre is often termed Scrumpy / Western. I can’t explain why I like them so much, but I do. This song was their first big hit, back in the 1970s, and you may recognize the tune as originally “I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates”.
So here’s the Wurzels, singing I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester.
I recently lucked into this gem: Pete Seeger and Fred Hellerman of the Weavers singing The Frozen Logger, a song my Dad used to sing to us. Note: a mackinaw is a plaid jacket that was often worn by loggers. I am wearing one right now that my cousin loaned to me; it’s almost exactly like this, only mine is fleece.
Seems fitting for February, although ours has not been that cold (yet).
For those of you dreaming of gardening, John Denver and The Garden Song
. . . and for those of you who want to change the world in a meaningful way, Donovan with “If You Want Your Dream to Be” from the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, which is a beautifully filmed movie about the life of St. Francis of Assissi and Clare.
Runrig and ‘Ic Iain ‘Ic Sheumais a folk song from the 1500s, which they altered slightly. This video is from the movie Air An Oir (On the Edge); I haven’t seen it yet.
Runrig again with Donnie Munro singing Precious Years, written by Rory and Calum MacDonald after their father died. The lyrics are below the video, just click on ‘More’
Another haunting melody by Runrig: Tuireachd Iain Ruaidh
(from their 1987 concert “Mod For Rockers” Other songs from the concert are on youtube)
I’ll see you soon. Until then, I wish you
and I am sending you
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