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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!

This is the two halves of the scarf. I still have to decide what to do with the points once I weave in the bit of yarn that you see dangling here: leave as is, add tassels, or ???

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.

Creative Pursuits

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 . . . 

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It’s been very hot here this afternoon, so I spent some time at the computer listening to music; then realized I could have done a proper post . . . oh, well, a short one isn’t so bad, is it?

We’ve also had a fair bit of smoke coming down from fires in the Northwest Territories; enough to make the sky hazy and I can feel it when walking or hauling stuff up and down stairs. Not too bad, though. Apart from my weight, I’m pretty healthy still.

I have written in my organizer from Pauline! It’s so lovely and she was so kind to make it for me, I can’t bear not to write in it; this is a first for me. I hate to think of how many lovely blank books I have bought and then simply stored, afraid I would ruin them with my handwriting. It’s not too bad, actually, but my Mum’s is still gorgeous; she went to school when you had handwriting practise weekly right through grade 12. In my time, it only went to grade 4. sigh . . .

Too hot to cook and I have resorted to bought cole slaw . . . cold and fast, at least. Also iced bought blended coffee drinks. I know; I swore off coffee a while back, but have not been sleeping so well and found myself dozing off right after breakfast . . . I had a lovely stroke of luck after my PhiloFriend and I (see below) walked around the lake; we went to a fast food outlet for iced drinks; I ordered the coffee one, but the girl got it wrong (darn speakers at the drive-through) and gave me hot coffee with mocha and milk added (no sugar, though). When my friend pointed out the error, they suggested I keep the hot drink rather than them tossing it out, then hurried and made me the cold drink I’d wanted, insisted on not letting me pay for it – I was quite willing, as I’m fairly forgiving of people making errors. And I WAS keeping the hot drink! I put the hot one in the fridge later on and enjoyed it this morning, with, alas, some sugar tossed in. Kept me awake and going all day!

Mr. and Mrs. Crafty took a car load of yarn and ‘boxes’ of projects to their cottage last Friday morning. I’d spent all Thursday getting ready for that. Thursday was lovely and very cool, so I had plenty of energy. I planned to spend the rest of Friday packing, but had no boxes with lids . . . grrrrrrrr  So  after I got back from the bi-Friday library run I kept on sorting and discarding and did get stuff done. Then yesterday (Saturday), my Philosophical friend took me to a liquor store and we filled her trunk and backseat with nested boxes. To thank her and to let us catch up (haven’t had a visit for well over a month), we went for pizza. Not my usual choice, but this was amazingly good! A thin, whole wheat crust and a veggie topping that included artichoke hearts. Mmmmm! And afterwards, we went for a walk around the man-made lake where I walked with another friend year before last. I haven’t been there since and was a bit dismayed to find I wanted to sit four times, just to catch my breath. Of course, it WAS quite hot still . . . but lovely just to be outdoors, hearing birds instead of traffic.

Today I’ve done lots, too. And now that I can see that it isn’t as bad as I’d feared, it’s a bit easier.

There have been other stresses, though; some I can’t post about. One very sad thing for me is that a very dear friend is dying in BC and it’s hard to think that I won’t see him again in this life. I think it’s been six years since I was back and I have always tried to get to Abbotsford to visit him and his wife (they have moved since I was last there). She is my age and he is 20 years older, so this is not exactly unexpected. Still, we always expect these things to happen another day, not today, don’t we? I have known this family for almost 40 years and they are the sort of friends where we don’t email or phone, but when I show up at their door, it’s as though no time has passed . . . we share so many basic beliefs and the whole family is very dear to me. Their four daughters are the sweetest ever; one of them was the first Mum I was ever a doula for. (I think that’s a badly worded sentence, but can’t figure out what I did wrong . . . oh, well, as Churchill famously said: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put”  . . . but you may have to . . .  🙂  )

So today I got through most of what I have had stored in the long hall storage area and have several boxes nearly full and ready to tape; those will go in the storage unit that Mum and I share. My PhiloFriend will haul them for me once I have a load ready. So I’m making progress. Since I’ve already moved so much into storage, it doesn’t look quite as bad as I first envisioned. I’m learning to take a break when I find myself tossing things into the box without making a decision as to whether I will actually need/use it. That’s helping. So is cold water.

The best thing about going through stuff is finding the things that I knew were ‘somewhere’ . . . including the instructions for the reversible crochet that a few people asked for back when I posted photos of it.

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Ok, I lied about no photos, but these are re-runs, so really they don’t count 🙂

No time to type it out tonight, but soon, I promise. I have it sitting out to remind me . . . It’s very, very easy, so after you have done a couple of Bavarian afghans, you might want to try one of these, too. This is very good for a pram or cot blanket for a wee one. And it looks gorgeous! I was given the pattern by a bus driver back when I was manager for a Lewiscraft store in Sherwood Park (a neighbouring town, about an hour and a half to two hours each way on the bus). I haven’t finished any of these (nothing like ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is there?), but they will go to the Crafty house and be dealt with in due course. After the Bavarian bevy is done. I did find some smaller skeins of white that I think will do, so I can see at least one more child-size afghan in the near future.

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More double-sided crochet pieces. It works best (or so I think) when the two yarns are a good contrast, either in shade or in colour.

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I also found the knitted hood/cowl/whatever thingy that I was free-forming a year or two ago (no photo, sorry) . . . and this shawl that I began when I was first going to my Aunty’s, remember? Those are also going to the Crafty cottage . . .

. . . and a-whey we go . . . (nope, I’m not apologizing for that one  🙂  )

I made a huge amount of kefir cheese, thanks to Christi‘s Diligent Dorcas, who just keeps cranking out the kefir (about a cup a day or so) and gave away four jam jars of whey; two to the Crafty’s for soaking their feet after a long day of whipper-smipping grass on the new acreage; they are clearing where the driveway and the home will go. They are buying a simple garage package, then will do the finishing work themselves, as they are both so handy with finishing carpentry, tiling, whatever needs doing, really. The other two jars went to my PhiloFriend to use in her bath. Once this is done, I’m planning on a long, cool bath myself, with some of that whey; it softens the skin amazingly; I use about a half cup in a tub of water and sit and read for an hour or so. I shower before I fill the tub, so my hair is clean; then I put some of the whey on my hair, pin it up and leave it to dry. Usually by the time I’m out again it’s stopped dripping. The whey acts like a very soft hair gel.(read about it on one of the kefir sites) and I like the bit of extra body it gives.

‘fraid I’ve been pretty lazy of late . . . instead of figuring out what to add to the kefir cheese to make it more appealing, I’ve been buying light cream cheese (I like the garlic and herbs one, also the smoked salmon . . . yum!); I add it to the kefir cheese at about 2 parts kefir cheese, 1 part bought cream cheese. It tastes pretty good on my toasted bagel, but I’m going to try it on steamed veggies and pasta, too, once it’s cool enough to stand cooking again. I add a fair bit of garlic powder to the garlic and herbs variety; nothing extra for the salmon, though. I love smoked salmon . . .

Well, that’s all the news that’s fit to print, as they used to say . . . hope all of you are getting the weather and temperatures you enjoy most, along with some downtime for crafting, reading and general relaxing . . . summer or winter, it’s good to have that . . .

And now for something a wee bit different:

Joan Baez, singing  “Diamonds and Rust

and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

and “Birmingham Sunday

. . . on a lighter note: The Corries singing “The Food Blues