Friday, January 25, 2013

Cold Weather Thrifting

Well, not only is it cold outdoors ...

... even my thrifting is turning up wintery finds!

I'm not usually one for decorative plates, but couldn't resist the wintery scenes on these two little gems.

For a long time I've admired the pincushions a lot of ladies have been making from teacups, so I decided to look for something special at the thrift store.  I came up with a couple that are so pretty ...

The clover bunches around this tea cup caught my eye.  Wouldn't Smudge love to munch his way through a bed of clover!  We used to search out clover for our horse, and then drag her over to it and watch her enjoy a little tasty treat ... we would even chew on the sweet flowers ourselves.

dear old Scamp with my sister
This teacup caught my eye with it's cheery yellow daffy-down-dillies! 
Not much good for a pincushion if I'm going to cover up the daffodils, but I couldn't leave it on the shelf ...
Then I spied this little sugar bowl, and thought even it would make a cute pincushion, especially since there was no saucer to fuss with ... perfect!
Which got me thinking I could use just plain small bowls for pincushions, and I picked this up as well (although it would make for a giant pincushion!) ...
I like how the light is caught through the glass ...
But when I saw this ...
I knew it would look so cute with little glass-headed pins sticking out through all the tiny heart-shaped holes!  I think I'm going to start with this one, and turn it into my first pincushion. 
 I can't believe I've never made a pincushion, but I've always used one given to me by my sister which sits beside my sewing machine.  It's only recently that I've been sewing more upstairs (away from my sewing corner) that I need to stick pins in somewhere while I'm sewing ... you know, rather than in the arm of my chair!
I'll show you the transformation as soon as it's complete :)
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rescue Rabbit

And now, may I introduce you to 'Smudge', my daughter's rabbit?

Smudge is a plump little bunny who looks very much like a wild cotton-tail.  He has beautiful eyes and lovely sandy coloured eyelashes.  He even has a little waistcoat, just like Peter Rabbit (but Smudge's waistcoat is red and is attached to a leash).  We don't take him for walks, however, it's just one of those things we bought and used maybe twice. 

Smudge adores Cody, but Cody only tolerates Smudge.  They both love carrots. 
My daughter adopted Smudge from our neighbourhood pet store ... a rescue rabbit! ... he was free, but his cage etc. was not.  I have now adopted Smudge from my daughter while she is away getting a head full of education!  I always wanted a rabbit as a kid, but my dad would never allow it.  So when my daughter and I saw Smudge in the pet store, it was love at first sight and I wanted him as much as she did.  We've had him for three years now ... did you know rabbits live for about 15 years?!  We discovered that interesting fact when we bought a book on rabbits ... after Smudge was already home with us.  I received the same sort of enlightening information when we bought our first hamster, and as we were leaving the store with pet and cage in hand, the cashier said "oh, and hamsters are nocturnal".  Good to know.  Nothing like listening to a hamster running on his squeaky wheel all night long :)   And now we have a rabbit that may well outlive the dog.

And this is for my fellow bloggers who love little kittens.  I don't have any cats (probably never will ... heck, I've got a rabbit with a longer life span than a cat!), but this little painted glass picture has been with me for many years.  The glass is slightly curved, which you can't tell from the photo, and the background is actually satiny fabric (which you can't tell here either).  I think this belonged to my grandmother once upon a time.
And here's where we're sitting at 9:30 Tuesday night ... -19'C!!  Cody and I are snuggled together on the couch under a big wool throw ... we were both outside in the freezing night air, and are warming up nicely now.  I read once that Russian parents tell their children not to breathe through their mouth when it gets too cold outside, they must breathe through their nose (this may not make sense to anyone in a warm climate, but it hurts to breathe through your mouth when the air is so cold) ... it's that cold tonight.  Nose breathing only please!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winters Past

Mom's friends from her youth
I've been scanning my parents' slides over the weekend ... yesterday I went through 530 slides.  Lots of memories swirled through my head making it difficult to sleep last night. 

My early years living in Dundas, Ontario
Memories of winters when we were guaranteed snow every single year.  We were very much an outdoors family.  We were encouraged to "get outside" and enjoy the day.   Winter meant just playing in the snow, and a lot of tobogganing!  We weren't a skiing family. 

 My dad told me he once went to a ski hill to give it a try ... how difficult could it be?  He got to the top of the hill and went down ... straight down ... he didn't know you were supposed to go back and forth across the hill.  He made it down at top speed, turning more than a few heads on the way.  At the bottom he walked back to the chalet, handed in his skiis and never went again.
I still have this little toboggan and use it as a Christmas decoration at my front door  This is my brother and sister.
left to right:  My dad, brother, me, sister, sister and Skipper the daschnd
Did you ever have a furry winter coat? I don't mean real fur, or even fake fur.  I mean the kind of plush synthetic fabric that stuffed toy animals are made of.  We had them.  It's what you got in the 1960s.  Here is my family with our oh-so-plush winter coats.  Notice how the snow just sticks to them.  It was like wearing a big knitted woolen mitten the way the snow formed a crust on you!!  And there were snowpants to match (not shown ... probably still drying from the previous day's romp in the snow).

Me with my new Christmas skates!!
And skating ... outdoors.  How I loved to skate!!  My brother and I would clear these tiny rinks in our field (it conveniently flooded a bit in the fall).  We also skated along the small creek that bordered the field (hence the flooding).  We never went to an arena (you'd have to pay for that, and things were done without money as much as possible).  So we skated very carefully along the creek, always on the look out for a twig frozen into the ice that could trip you up, or a bit of open water that would soak your foot!
I still love the outdoors and get outside as much as possible.   My kids have been brought up the same way, although the electronics do lure them away more than I like.  We didn't have that distraction growing up, and being outside was our best entertainment.
Thanks for stopping by!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cozy Knits on a Bitter Day

And now, just in time for our cold SNAP! I have finished my Knotted Openwork Baby Hat! 

It was -15'C this morning, and that was before the windchill ... which felt to me like -25!!  Bitterly cold day, but I'm one of the few that absolutely love the icy cold :)  I love being out in that biting wind (not too strong or my ears ache), and I love that tingly sensation on your cheeks when you come in.  I can't help it ... I could walk around in the outdoors in this weather all day.  (The coldest temperature I've ever experienced was -60'C at a ski resort, but that was with the wind chill, and I must admit that it was a bit extreme even for me!)  We even got a nice little dusting of snow to brighten the view and it's very squeaky underfoot.  The sun is so bright today that it's become quite a glittery northern day ... perfect!!  Now at lunchtime the thermometer is registering -6'C ... out of the wind ... and in the sunshine. 
Poor Cody has delicate paws, and he does suffer in the cold.  This morning on our walk I had to stand and wait out there for a little bit, and his feet became so cold that he sat up on his haunches with sad little face and paws held against his tummy.  He has to keep moving, or his paws gather ice between the pads.  As soon as I see him limping, I have to stop and clear out the ice (and salt) from his paws.  I keep thinking I should make some little boots for him, but still haven't done that.
Anyway ... the hat ...  this was fun to knit up, but unfortunately is was knit flat.  This would be fine if the yarn wasn't multi-coloured.  When it came time to stitch it up, this happened ...

... which is very obvious with these colours ... yellow & green on one side, fading to red & blue on the other.  The photo in the book had similar yarn, but conveniently didn't show the back of the hat!!  Next time I make this hat (will I make it again?!) I would knit it in the round instead and avoid this problem. 
I do like that picot trim along the edge :)
The hat is Knotted Openwork Baby Hat from this book if you're interested.
Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chevron Lace Scarf

A few years ago I bought a skein of bamboo yarn in a beautiful shade of green (now I know you see 'brown', just keep reading).  The shop owner also sold a pattern to go with the yarn ... Chevron Lace Scarf.  She was even kind enough to show me a certain stitch required to make the pattern.  It all looked so easy!

I brought the yarn home and instantly tried to knit the lace scarf.  Unsuccessfully.  I couldn't understand the pattern.  I tried and tried and tried, but for whatever reason, I kept ending up with too many stitches.  So I put it aside to try again later ... I figured I would learn a bit more about knitting and come back to it all the wiser.
A year later I brought the yarn out again ... pattern still tucked in with it.  I tried the pattern again.  And again I was stuck in the same muddle of incorrect number of stitches.  "There must be a mistake in the pattern", I thought.  I'd had enough of ripping out the darned scarf, so I ended up knitting the entire skein of lovely bamboo yarn into a moss-stitch scarf.  Not what I had hoped for ... the lace scarf really, really made the different shades in the bamboo yarn show up wonderfully (there was a sample scarf on display at the shop).
But I had a nice green scarf that took an age to knit (I don't think I would have patience enough to knit anything larger than a scarf in moss stitch!).

Then last year I had checked out a video for something in knitting, but included in that video was a yarn over demonstration.  And that's when I realized my mistake!  I immediately thought of the chevron lace scarf pattern with all its yarn overs.  I grabbed a ball of wool from my stash and started knitting.  It worked!  I worked away at it for a while, but never completely finished the scarf (I think this was when I was completely immersed in caring for my dad and his affairs).  I've now been able to finally finish it up.  Done!  And all properly. 
I was so happy to have realized my mistake because now I can go back and revisit a few other patterns I was having trouble with ... they were probably riddled with yarn overs!! 
It's nice to get that excited feeling to be making something again :)
Thanks for stopping by!!


I don't want to mislead anyone, so right away I'll tell you I'm talking about buttons that link to another blog site. 
I'm lost on this.  Can anyone tell me how you copy someone's "button" to your side bar?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Knitting with Tears


A few years ago I learned to knit  ... well, really I learned to knit when I was about 7 or 8, but did nothing with it.  But after years and years of knowing that one day I would learn, and having looked longingly at knitting books and wishing I could make those beautiful things, I finally bought myself a book, sat down and taught myself how to really knit! 

The saddest part of all of this is that I passed up on a perfect and beautiful opportunity to learn this skill from my own mother. 
All the years I asked her to make sweaters for my kids, a scarf for myself, and my treasured mittens, I never once bothered to ask her to teach me how to make these things myself.  And Mom knew all about knitting! 
 I could almost cry over how stupid I was ... I have cried over it.  I knit with tears. 

Mom had in her own knitting library the famous book, "Knitting Without Tears" by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  When I saw it there, I was thrilled!!  But when I read in Ms. Zimmerman's book right there on page 2, "If you hate to knit, why, bless you, don't; follow your secret heart and take up something else", I felt huge discouragement.  Because at the beginning of this quest I did hate to knit!  At times I would get so frustrated in trying to figure out the instructions, that knitting, needles, book (and even the poor dog!) would be sent flying off my lap in a fit of anger and disappointment.  Those words haunted me, and I wanted to prove them wrong. 

I persevered.  Maybe because I wanted Mom to somehow know that I would figure this out ... that I could make her proud.  And maybe part of that anger was just my grieving process ... angry that she was gone, and I wanted her back more than ever (believe me, I have had a very tough time since she died).
I'm embarrassed about some of the mistakes I've made (some just silly because I misinterpreted the instructions), but I kept learning every time I cast on.  One of the most important lessons I have learned is that you really need to know what the stitches should look like ("the anatomy of the stitch" as one knitter wrote), and you need to know how to fix your mistakes without ripping the whole piece apart.  And those two lessons are hardest to learn when you don't have a live person showing you how, and you have to decipher it from cryptic text.  I spent a lot of time frogging ... at least that was easy to do!

Teal scarf took me months to finish; Green scarf made in moss stitch from bamboo yarn.
I was able to show Mom only two things I knitted before she died.  Each of them were scarves (above), but she would comment on them every time I visited her (she was like that ... always quick to notice what you were wearing and giving a simple, but lovely compliment). 
My first big accomplishment was a watch cap (below), knit in the round.  I found the pattern on Ravelry, and it's the same pattern that women knitted up for soldiers during WWII.  I made it from wool from Mom's stash (the leftover wool from a sweater she made at my request when I was a teenager ... I still have the sweater!).

I made this hat five times ... four of the five were ripped back to the beginning.  It was during the fifth time knitting this hat that I set about learning to fix mistakes ... dropped stitches, and changing purl stitches to knit when I found them rows later ... all kinds of things.  It was a proud moment to finish it knowing that I fixed all the mistakes (all that I could see anyway).
And once I got the hang of knitting in the round, I couldn't pass up a book on knitting "tinies" and started making these cute little animals which are about 1" long.  Fun stuff, but fussy!

So this adventure has brought me today to working on a fun little baby's hat in this book.  Do I know any babies to wear it?  Nope!  But I loved the open knotwork, and since I was unsuccessful at making this last year (and have since figured out my mistake), I'm having another go and making it work!

I love the colours in this pure wool sock yarn.

I know I'll never be a fantastic knitter, but I'm finally enjoying the process.  And as long as I keep my hands in it regularly, I hopefully will remember all that I've learned and can finally start knitting without tears!!
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

The 'Wild Side' being a walk in the woods! 

I took the dog out for a long-overdue hike in a local conservation area today.  It's one of my favourite trails in our area ... the pup likes it too because he spends the entire time off-leash (along with a myriad of other dogs).  Here's Cody blending in with nature ...

The trail was good today.  Not too icy.  No deep snow. 

I've walked this trail when it's been solid ice ... treacherous There's a meandering creek that gurgles its way through the trees.  Cody loves water, and just the sound of it can send him round the bend.
So I kept a close eye on him where the trail runs beside the creek.  I don't trust his intelligence when he's near water.  My friend once witnessed a St. Bernard go through the ice on a creek similar to this one.  In his desperate attempt to save his dog, the dog's owner just about went under too.  The thought of losing my dog through the ice leaves me cold.  This is a fast-moving creek which freezes thick and solid in some areas, but is open rushing water in others.
 These woods hold many types of trees.  Alongside the swift-moving water are some ancient willows.  I used to tell my kids this was 'Grandmother Willow' from the 'Pocahontas' movie ...

She certainly looks the part ... just look at all that gnarly bark ... lots of deep green moss growing on her too.  If you wait long enough, her face emerges through this broken bark ...
There are quite a few old trees in these woods ...  along with
a few carcasses from long-ago bolts of lightening, or disease ....
Lots of variety in the landscape too.  From bulrushes and marsh grasses ...
 ... to orderly rows of pines ...
But this can also be a mysterious forest, and you won't want to lean against these trees for too long.  They might just swallow you up!!
A bit of metal doesn't seem to affect the growth of them in the least ...
After a couple of hours of traipsing our way through these beautiful woods, and through a bit of open field ...
... the sun was starting to dip ...
 I didn't want to be caught out there in the dark, so the pup and I gradually made our way back to the car park, but were happy to have enjoyed some fresh air, and lots of hilly, snowy, quiet walking ....
Thanks for stopping by!
Wendy & Cody
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