Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reading Challenge 2017

What?! Two posts in as many days?! I have been going in fits and starts with the ol' blog lately, for which I apologize. But in catching up with many of you for the past two hours this morning, I came across my friend Sandra's post about a reading challenge she is joining (thanks Sandra!). The challenge is through Becky's Book Reviews and you can read about it here.

I have a small stack of books from Christmas. I have always given my family a short list of books that I would like to receive for Christmas, and one of my favourite things to do on Christmas day while the turkey cooks in the oven, and everyone is lounging around with their new gifts is to sit in my reading chair with a new book and a hot cup of tea. I didn't do this this past Christmas. I still have not read further than one or two chapters in the first book I picked up ... "Silas Marner" ... but hopefully with this gentle reading challenge, that will change. I need to set some time aside to read. I seem to spend too much time working on projects lately (knitting, sewing, carving). I have some self-imposed deadlines there, so I will have to keep working on those projects steadily, but I'm missing reading quite a bit.

Today began sunny and bright, but within two hours the clouds have returned again. I'll look at this as an opportunity to cozy up indoors and read, knit and drink tea. Care to join me?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Five on Friday

Joining up with Amy's Five on Friday today.

I've not been able to blog much for the past few weeks. I've been working on a few projects in all my spare time, and just couldn't find time to blog. Thank you for all your kind comments on the knitted scarf I last wrote about. I apologize for not replying to comments (which I normally do), but time has not been on my side lately. I haven't been able to finish that scarf as I didn't have enough yarn to make it as long as I like. I haven't quite decided what I'll do with it, but the yarn is too beautiful to be cast aside. I have a couple of ideas though, both of which involve ripping back the entire scarf.

One: Last weekend my husband and I took the dog for a walk at Heber Downs Conservation Area at the north end of my town. We were surprised to see snow in the woods as it's been so rainy and mild all this winter. There is no snow where I live closer to Lake Ontario. The path was quite icy, but the woods were pretty with fog hanging low in several spots. We walked along the paths that I have only recently started to explore ... and we got lost. Lost in the woods! The paths are not marked, which I find amazing for a conservation area, and it seems people have created their own paths criss-crossing through the woods. We followed one such path straight across the woods and met up with a well-worn path along the other side. Unfortunately, that well-worn path soon petered out into nothing in a very boggy, icy, deep snow section, and that's where we got lost. We didn't want to back track ... I hate backtracking ... so futile ... I want to complete the trail! We did have to go back a little ways as the bog was getting too difficult to get through. We ended up finding someone's laneway through the woods and came out on a road quite far from where we thought we were. Where we came out onto the road was a sign "Private Property/No Trespassing" ... oops! It was a long walk back to the truck, and rather than seeing the fun and adventure in that, my husband just got annoyed. Oh well, Cody and I enjoyed the adventure ;)


Two: This is one of the projects I was working on. One of my daycare clients recently had a baby girl, and despite the fact that I know she was given a large number of outfits from someone at her work, I couldn't resist knitting up this little dress. I had a heck of time with the gauge as I knit quite loosely. I must have knit about five swatches to get the gauge correct. I think I knit half a dress with just those swatches! Anyway, I was pleased with the results ... my first dress! This was knit in the round and I only had to join the shoulder straps with kitchener stitch and it was done. I made the hat up myself copying the "trellis" pattern from the yoke of the dress. 

Three: Yesterday we had sunshine. This fact alone deserves a post of its own! We have had such a grey and dark winter this year. Very little snow where I am, and every day it seems has been overcast and either raining or drizzling, or just plain yuck. When it does snow, it has turned to freezing rain and made a mess of the roads. I can't even remember the last time we had a sunny day ... I think it was in the fall. When the sun broke through yesterday morning, I told the parents we were skipping the library storytime and heading to the woods instead. They didn't argue as they knew their kids were getting tired of being indoors. So we travelled over to Lynde Marsh and had a relaxing walk in the fresh air. These are not my favourite woods as they are now well-worn from so many people walking through, but I take what I can get. We went along the boardwalk first that heads straight out into the marsh. The marsh is loaded with Canada geese & swans. When the swans saw us, they paddled over to us in a big hurry looking for handouts. We had a bit of corn for them, and a few seeds for the chickadees that came to us in the woods. The turkeys are still there too, and they are such fun to feed and hear them "gobble". It's been so mild that earlier this week my son and I saw a great blue heron flying across towards a little pond in our neighbourhood. Normally herons migrate until early spring. I've also seen flocks of robins all winter long, both here in my yard and again in Heber Downs.


Four: Visits to dear old Dad have continued, but not as often as I would like. It seems everyone I care for lately is on a jigsaw puzzle craze. My daycare kids can't seem to get enough of jigsaw puzzles this winter, and when I saw Dad recently, we also did a puzzle together. My mom and dad used to do jigsaw puzzles all through the long winter months. They would have a table set up in the living room just for jigsaws and would work away at them together. I too like working on a jigsaw, but these days there always seems to be something else I need to work on instead. It was nice to slow down and do this (surprisingly difficult!) puzzle with Dad.

Five: I am now working on a project for Dad. I'm knitting him a lap blanket. Possibly the worst winter to knit a blanket, but I've put this off for a few years now because I couldn't decide on a pattern. (I know, I spend far too long making these decisions!)  Despite the fact that I have a lot of blanket patterns to choose from, I finally decided to just knit the thing in stockinette stitch. I'll share more on this next week with Jennifer's Winter Project link.

Thanks for stopping by today, and have a great weekend!


Saturday, January 07, 2017

Noro Yarn

I'm linking up today with Jennifer of Thistlebear for her
Winter Project Link Party. Thank you for hosting Jennifer!

Late in the fall I was approached by Yarn Canada and asked to do a review of one of the many yarns they carry, Noro Kureyon Yarn. This yarn is 100% wool, hand-dyed, worsted weight wool. The colourways are all variegated, or self-striping. I was given three balls of yarn of my choice in exchange for this review. These are the three I chose, but you can see all the choices available through the link.

top to bottom:  #263 #332 #368 

I did a little research on the Noro yarns, and found this scarf project on Jared Flood's site. Although the yarn he used was the Noro Silk Garden yarns, I thought the same effect would easily be achieved using the bulkier Noro Kureyon yarn that was offered to me. What you're doing in making this scarf is manually striping the variegated yarn. I actually need four balls of yarn to achieve this, and will be ordering a fourth ball now that I've got started on it, but right now I'm working with two balls of yarn. 

The most difficult part of the project is choosing the yarn! There are so many beautiful colourways to choose from, but I wanted to choose two green/blue yarns and then something that would accent it nicely. All the colours that come up in each ball of yarn are listed on the ordering page which is very helpful. It did take me a while to finally come up with my choices, but they all look nice together. 

When the box of yarns arrived, I was fascinated by the rich colours within each ball of yarn. Lovely earthy tones in vibrant hues. Gorgeous! I rewound all the skeins into balls to start the project, and just in rewinding them I was able to see the lovely kaleidescope of colours within each ball. There are a lot of colours that run through each ball! And no two colours are repeated. As you are knitting, you are exposed to the colour changes very quickly, but they change so subtly, that it's as if you're painting and blending those colours yourself. The manual striping technique doubles the pleasure with two balls of yarn being used at the same time.

Now this yarn is 100% wool, and it has that lovely texture of pure wool that you don't get from synthetic yarns. I prefer working with natural fibres as they feel so nice on the hands. There is no "squeaking" of the yarn on the needles! The last two scarves I knit were made from acrylic and that squeakiness of the acrylic yarn on the needles is like nails run down a chalkboard for me. ugh! This Noro yarn is lovely to work with, although it does tend to twist itself together which causes it to tangle as you knit. Something to keep on top of continuously or you end up with a tangled mess. 

I'm knitting this in 1 x 1 ribbing (knit 1, purl 1), and it's working up really nicely like that. It's lying completely flat, which is great to show off the colours. My goal was to highlight the colours and texture of the yarn more than an intricate pattern. I'm using No. 8 needles, and have made the scarf about 8 inches wide, but I'm not sure I have enough yarn to make it a good length. 

There is a rustic nature to this yarn as well. You can see the difference in the stitches as the yarn goes from skinny to chunky in several spots. This gives a wonderful texture throughout the finished piece with little knubby bits scattered across the finished work.

There was one thing I did not like. In each of the two balls of yarn I'm working with at the moment, there was a knot joining two strands of yarn together. I was aware of one of the knots and saw it coming off the ball. Before I started on the next row, I moved the yarn past the knot before I started knitting again. The second knot I did not see and it showed up near the end of the row I was knitting. I had to rip back to the beginning of that row so that the knot wouldn't be in the finished work. I was surprised that for such nice (and expensive) yarn, there were knots. Not only that, but as I've watched the colours change so subtly, suddenly there is a sharp change to the colouring as the knots connected two completely different colours. One knot connected a dark purple and black which was alright. The second knot connected a greenish yellow to brilliant orange. This threw off the delicate shading which disappointed me. I had considered taking out the orange completely, but have left it in for now. I think in the end it will blend in alright as the scarf lengthens and more colours are thrown into the mix.

As I was knitting this in the sunshine, I couldn't help but admire the colours emerging from the balls, and also emerging into the knitted garment. I'm really enjoying knitting up this scarf. The final question is "would I use this yarn again". The answer is "Yes!".  Although the skeins are expensive for my own budget ($9.95 Cdn for a 50g/100m ball of yarn), it's sometimes nice to splurge for a small project, and I know I'll be happy with this scarf when it's complete. I also thought this yarn would make a gorgeous tea cozy, and might consider making one in the future.

Thanks for stopping by today!


Friday, January 06, 2017

Five On Friday

I'm joining up with the lovely Amy of Love Made My Home today for her Five on Friday link party. Amy is dealing with lots of difficulties these days, and it's so nice of her to continue hosting the link party. Thank you Amy :)


My brother suffered the loss of his sweet little daschund the day after Christmas. My family owned a red daschund when we were growing up, and "Skipper" lived to be 16 years old. "Reba" was a lovely dog, and she was the first dog my brother had owned. She was also in her 16th year, but suffered some sort of tumor in her abdomen and quickly left this life. I made up this felt ornament for him. On the back is a phrase he would ask his kids when they were deciding where to take Reba for a walk ... "Beach, woods or mountains?"


I was happy to see these two scarves revisit me this week! The daycare kids who received them from me (brother & sister) loved them and wore them each day. A very satisfying sight in my entry hall :)


Three balls of scrummy yarn that I will share more about tomorrow!


I have joined the masses. My husband signed us all up with Netflix for Christmas, and also gave me my very own TV. I am in a certain kind of heaven now ;)  I wear a hearing aid and my hearing deteriorates steadily. A hearing aid doesn't fix your hearing loss, it's just a tiny amplifier that increases the volume of everything around you. The increased volume destroys what hearing you have left. One day I hope someone can develop a better system for those with hearing loss. It has now become impossible for me to watch regular television. The closed captions are a joke, and cause more frustration for me (and my family) with trying to read and decipher the terrible translations and still keep up with the images and the plot. I challenge anyone to turn on closed captions and turn down the volume and see if you can keep up. I gave up and turned instead to reading the news on my computer and watching DVDs for entertainment. With Netflix I can watch such a wide variety of both TV shows and movies that it kind of eases the hurt. Netflix you see has proper subtitles attached to their movies and shows. Thank you Netflix.

Image result for image netflix


We bought our dog Cody a new bed for Christmas. He's a little bit lost in it, but he does love the thickness and the softness of it in his old age. He will be 12 in March. He has been in my bad books for a few weeks now as he has suddenly started raiding the bathroom garbage pails. We have had to close all doors when we leave the house ... even if it's just for ten minutes! He sits in the front window to watch us leave, and then he gets to work. I'm trying to be a patient dog owner, but honestly, it feels like a huge betrayal. He has also enjoyed stealing the following from the kitchen counter this Christmas alone: two loaves of bread, one package of bagels, one whole box of Purdy's chocolates (a gift that I hadn't even unwrapped!), a bag of homemade dog treats (a gift for him from a friend!), and about half a bag of rabbit pellets (the hay pellets, not the poop pellets). He has no shame and only a smidgen of guilt.

"Who, me?!"

Thanks for stopping by!

Be sure to visit Amy's blog to see others' Five on Friday.


Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2017!

I hope you all had a really nice Christmas holiday and were able to spend time with family and friends. We had a very quiet Christmas Day with just my little family of four spent happily opening a few presents and having lots of laughs together while we did that. It seemed every gift needed an explanation, and I loved the comment my son made "I love gifts that come with a story". It's true isn't it? It's a lot more fun when we can share how we came to choose this gift (or in my case "make" this gift!). 

I was making signs this year as well as knitting scarves. I made a sign for my son to hang in his room with the name of his current-favourite lake painted on it.

I also painted (but could not finish due to technical difficulties) a sign for my husband painted on an old saw of my Dad's to put in his workshop. If anyone ever wants to paint on metal ... use enamel paints ... just saying. I'll share that when I get it finished.

We had an enormous turkey for just four people, and there are about 8 plastic boxes each with 2 cups of turkey stock in the freezer, and still enough turkey left chopped up in the fridge for one more turkey pot pie to feed four! Big turkey! None of us are complaining since we all love our turkey. 

The tree will be coming down today ... something I always do on New Year's Day. It gives a bit of a gentle flourish to end the holidays. We're still all home again tomorrow, and head back to work and school on Tuesday. I'm glad this coming week is a short one!

my old Christmas stocking from the early 1960s
We did only a few things this holiday. We saw the new Star Wars movie "Rogue One", and I just might have dozed off for a brief second there in the theatre. I was so tired after having a long drive to and from Mississauga to see Dad through terribly slow traffic. A 45-minute drive turned into an hour and a half each way! It just wears me out these days. I was so restless in the theatre seat because of it. I finally took off my shoes and tucked my feet under me and was more comfortable and able to watch the rest of the movie. Do you get like that when you're really tired? I get so restless when I'm tired. 

I gave my husband a few cards with "Christmas moments" written into each one. They were things that we could do on the holidays. One was the movie, and another was a trip to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). I gave him the membership for his birthday in October. In the card I told him to bring his membership card and I'd take him to the AGO and lunch afterwards. We went to see the "Small Wonders" exhibit which was a display of handcarved prayer beads and miniature alters, carved from boxwood. It was amazing! The carved "beads" were anywhere from one inch to two and three inches in diameter. They opened up with little wooden hinges and inside were these spectacular teeny tiny 3D carvings of biblical scenes. Many were of Jesus in the manger, or of his crucifixion. 

Object Main Image

Object Main Image
All this detail in about 1 1/2 inches!

Object Main Image
The details were incredible. There were all kinds of people carved into the wood, and horses and soldiers with swords about the width of a hair. We were both fascinated with these art treasures. There was one set of beads on loan from Chatsworth, England that was originally owned by Henry VIII and his wife Katharine. I found that was just amazing to see something that had been in Katharine's own hands (as it seems she was the true owner of the beads). I really like seeing hand carving, and this exhibit was a real pleasure to see. You can go to this site to see the collection online.

This will mark the first year that we didn't have any large family gathering. I'm not sure how all that fell apart, but I didn't enjoy Christmas as much as I used to because of it. I didn't do much baking apart from the Christmas cake and a lemon meringue pie. I didn't make even one cookie! My little cookie stamps didn't get used at all. But there were lots of turkey recipes being cranked out, and I wore my Christmas apron that Mom made me many years ago.

I did get over to see my dad on Boxing Day and gave him a few gifts. It was a rather heartbreaking visit with his questions, "Why are you giving me these gifts? Have I ever given you gifts?"  He couldn't understand why I would give him these things. I don't even think he understood what I meant when I said "I'm your daughter". Oh well, it is what it is, and there's no point in pining for the good old days because they are gone for good now. I'm glad it's a new year, but I don't see anything changing with respect to dear old Dad. 

Dad poring over the photos of his family and not knowing even one person :(
I still have more things to knit and paint and carve in the next little while ... it's never ending these days! I'm looking forward to these projects though because there is no deadline attached to them. Well, the carving has to be done by July, but I'm not starting to panic (just yet!). I bought some yarn on sale to make a lap blanket. The only thing that has held me back in the past is having to buy so much yarn for it! I'm still not used to the expense of knitting in comparison to the less expensive sewing I have always done.

Well, it's getting late in the morning now, and I should tackle that Christmas tree and put it to bed. I like to take my time with this. I have my last hurray of Christmas music ready ...

Two of my favourite CDs
... the tea is brewed (Cream of Earl Grey by David's a gift from my daughter) ....

... I have a lovely scented candle burning ...

... the good china is ready to be put away until the next special occasion ...

... so goodbye little wooden snowmen and wooden Santas ...

... and goodbye beautiful snowy wintry scenes ...

... oh, wait ... what?! ... what am I thinking, I live in Canada and winter has only just started!!

Actually the above scene was taken on Thursday the 29th. I'm laughing at my son right now because he completely missed this snowy scene (he's sitting beside me as I type this). The snow was wet and had fallen off the trees by the time he got up that day. Today it looks like this ... crisp and cold and sunny ...

 Enjoy your day, and all the best to you in the New Year.

Thanks for stopping by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...