Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

I'm still thinking about how I will approach this coming New Year. For sure I won't be doing the long list of resolutions that I did last year at this time. Not because I didn't accomplish them - for the most part I did. But are resolutions the way to go? Is that what made the year zip by so quickly? What's important in life anyways???

In the meantime, our traditional tourtierre supper is ready to be taken to our becoming-traditional-part-time-family get-together this evening. When you have young adult children, you take them as you can. Enjoy your celebration, however that looks to you. All the best in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thinking about the last year

Some wise words to ponder as we go into the last days of 2009. Josh Harris talks about what is really important in life.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Post Christmas review

Christmas was REALLY nice this year. Time with friends and family. Lots of good food. (Ihaven't really eaten a regular meal since then - it's been nibbling on leftovers for me) A meaningful Christmas Eve service. And...once the planning for the Christmas Eve program was over, I realized that my New Year's resolution to have a "simpler Christmas" really did come true.

A fun read while all the preparations were going on was Sadie Shapiro's Knitting Book by Robert Kimmel Smith. One of those "slice of life" books that makes you laugh, cry and ponder the ways of the world.

Now I can share some of the knitting and sewing that has been going on for the last few weeks. Icelandic lopi hat for my skiing husband, small needlecases for knitting friends (I'm always losing my darning needles myself) and an apron for a friend who loves owls.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Just sayin'

Attention all women:

1. Drink your fluids
2. Take your cranberry or vitamin C capsules daily

Avoid pain.

Just sayin'

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lesser known kefir facts

1. Kefir eggnog is actually quite tasty.
2. Drinking kefir on a regular basis will ruin your sweet tooth. Be may need to find new comfort foods.
3. That white stuff in the margarine tub - it's NOT margarine.

One piece of Christmas knitting I CAN share...Opal socks for the piano teacher. This dear lady comes right to my house for lessons - she deserves a medal for that, but must settle for wooly socks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And the knit goes on...

My latest knitting project must remain unseen for the moment. You never know who is reading this blog. Suffice to say - I now know the attraction of Addi Turbo needles. They were there; I bought them; I loved them. They made the mystery project really fly along. So...this item required a 16 inch circular needle and also involves a pompom. Say no more. Oh, yes I will say more. All the colours in the pompom were used. Ah huh, a stranded something or other. Be impressed.

Since I've been knitting so much, the reading has been listening. "The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette" by Carolly Erickson was fascinating. I'm trusting that her historical details are accurate, because this is how I will always think of Marie now. My French history was a little hazy before, but this book cleared things up somewhat. It is written in diary form, which I usually avoid, but in a spoken form it was fine.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday blog break

I have solved the problem of socks taking a long time to knit...don't knit the leg! Seriously, if you're knitting for a kid, they often shove those legs down to their ankles anyways. Taking that information to heart, I thought I'd whip up a pair of quick socks for my youngest - my baby. As it turns out, my baby has the same length of foot as me! But because I didn't do a leg, the pair was done rather quickly. These were made from left-over yarn from some gift socks (opal 6 ply).

If you can tell me what is different about these socks over any other pair I have knitted (other than the short leg) I'll give you either a) a knitting lesson or b) knitting advice or c) chocolate. Your choice :)

An "almost comfort" book was Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy. "Almost" because of the (sadly) immoral values of a number of her characters. True to life, though, unfortuately. And they usually come round in the end. Her books are comforting in the fact that you come to know the characters and settings like old friends. Some days it would be fun to jump into this Irish village and spend a few days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Taking a vote

My husband wants to go on a holiday to somewhere warm. I'm dragging my heels, because the calendar is just soooo full. So...should we go somewhere? And where should we go if you think yes?

No, I will not take you along.

But I will post pictures afterwards.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I need some comfort!

These are comfort books: Tears of the Giraffe ; Morality for Beautiful Girls. These are the kind of books that don't shock you with bad language. They make you think a little, but confirm your worldview. Other comfort books that I've read in my life include The Blue Castle (over and over again when I was a teen) and The Ice Child (I finally bought my own copy as I was afraid the library would discard it).

My hats are off to the bloggers who continue to delight me with daily writings. Thank you for the slices of life that I enjoy dipping into each day.

I will delight you with a small gallery of finished knitting. Knitting keeps me sane these days.

The shawl is for a lovely lady at church - to honour and bless her for her tireless serving and devotion to God (Multnomah shawl; Smooshy yarn). The fingerless gloves were a commission knit from a co-worker of my son's, who had admired the ones I made for him (Red Heart Comfort Sport yarn; generic gloves). Gloves are a challenge! The cabled slipper socks were also a challenge, but not as hard as I thought they would be (Log Cabin socks; Cascade 220 Superwash yarn). They are for a man at church who is taking chemo treatments. I call them comfort socks :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Life as a homemaker

Two reasons I have a hard time doing housework…no, three.

I actually often feel guilty doing it. There are so many other pursuits that seem much more important. Like playing/talking with my kids, knitting something for another person, reading to improve my mind. I have to remind myself that a clean house is a blessing to my family and so has intrinsic value in and of itself.

Around here, you no sooner clean something up, and it’s messy again. I have kids in the house 24/7. You make a meal and it’s gone in 10 minutes. Imagine spending the day at the office drawing up the blueprints for a building and the next day when you go in, all your lines are gone; erased. A lesson in frustration. To reduce the frustration level, I have simplified some jobs so that my expectations are less. For example - I used to keep my towels upstairs in the “linen closet”. After wash day they would all be nicely folded and stacked. The sight would warm my heart. The next day they would be in disarray and half gone. Now, I roughly fold the towels straight out of the dryer and store them on a shelf beside the dryer. They never leave the basement laundry room until someone wants one. And the only bathroom that I stock with towels is my own. The kids can grab one when needed. Now my linen closet holds games and yarn. A good trade-off J

The third reason has a little to do with laziness and a little to do with “messy syndrome”. I have a jumbled mind that can’t make mental lists; I'm easily distracted. You could call me organizationally challenged. So written lists and planners are my friend. It’s the keeping up with them that presents the problem and therein lies the fact that at any given time if you arrive at my house unannounced, you WILL find creative mess around. So if you’re concerned about that – give a call before you come. If you’re not…I welcome you in J

Knitting notes: I finished some Christmas gift socks. They’re out of Opal yarn (Rendez-vous, 2063). The contrast heel and toe was fun to do and keeps the stripe patterning consistent. The cream yarn was Paton’s Kroy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One chapter down...

The problem with having a blog with a reading theme and containing mostly book reviews is...what if you aren't reading? It seems I can hardly take a breath these days as I deal with the "stuff of life". Books are being read a page at a time, rather than gulping down chapters as usual. So a standard book review will have to wait.

In the meantime, a well-known (to homeschoolers, anyways) young man (and author and pastor) has written a new book. After reading the first chapter I am anxious to continue and put it on my Amazon wish list. It is interesting to see this man, who I first got to know when he was just a teen, becoming so mature. He continues to influence and God is blessing his ministry. In fact, I regularly listen to his church's sermons.

Since the weather is becoming a little nippy and I had some so, so, soft baby camel yarn from China to play with, here is a so, so, cute pair of fingerless mitts I made the other day. About 6 hours from start to finish, they are a warm treat to wear and a pleasure to fondle. In fact, I keep them in the car beside the seat, to do just that.

Friday, October 9, 2009

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. It’s fitting that at least once in the year we take some time to reflect on what we are thankful for. As Christians, of course, we should be expressing our thanks to God daily. I am thankful for a God who loves me and brought me into his family at a time when I was most needy. My attitude towards life changed, even though my life circumstances didn’t right away. The bible tells us to acquire wisdom. I am thankful that today I am wiser than I was 24 years ago, pre-Jesus. But it’s humbling to realize that the “growing in wisdom” never ends.

I am also thankful today for my hard-working husband who puts up with my ever-eccentric interests. I’m thankful for my children, who are all developing as interesting individuals and who all are following the Lord in their individual ways. I’m thankful for the rest of my family, all living close by. What a blessing that is! My good friends are also something to be thankful for. They keep me grounded. God’s grace is sufficient for my needs and I am eternally thankful for what He has provided.

It is fitting that I read The Book of Negroes this week. This tale is a reminder of the suffering that Africans went through for so long in the slave trade. I was on the wait list at the library a long time for this book – it’s obviously popular, and for good reason. It is well written and engaging. My heart broke all along the way and finally on the last page my tears came. This book is not for the faint of heart and is very graphic in its descriptions of what went on. But you will finish it having developed a relationship with the main character and will keep her with you for a long time. What really struck me as we followed Aminata through her life is how long the slave trade went on. When she was captured as an eleven year old and taken to America, there were slaves there who had been born in the United States. And then when she was old and working to end the slave trade, there were still Africans being kidnapped and exported; generations of people forming a tide of suffering, shame and humiliation. We must continue to read books like this one, so that we will never forget and hopefully, never repeat what went on.

One of my WIP (works in progress) resembles a Thanksgiving cornucopia. Can you guess what it’s eventually going to be?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pets anyone?

I have some new pets.

Now keep in mind that I’m not the traditional dog/cat kind of person. We have two outdoor cats – allergies keep them in their proper place outside the home. I'd have a cat in the house in a flash, but husband and some kids would be miserable.

We’ve had dogs over the years. According to the experts, having a dog can build character in your children. Ours always tend to die or get killed; the last one was a barker and went to the SPCA. So I’ve found that worms make the greatest pets. No fuss; no muss. They mind their own business and produce fertilizer to boot. How can you go wrong?

But just when I thought that worms headed the list as the go-to pet, along came kefir grains. My kefir grains came dehydrated through the mail. A quick 24 hour soak-in-water later they were plumped up and ready to do my bidding.

It took about a week of regular 24 hour milk changes, but now those grains are producing a luscious, creamy, tangy milk kefir. I don’t know that it’s that much different than the product that came from the store-bought starter. But using the grains is so cool! Each morning I strain the baby grains out of the kefir and add them to a mason jar of fresh milk. That jar sits on the counter till the next morning, when I do it over again.

Right now I’m making just enough to drink in one day with a little extra for guests J. (Yes, I’m the only one in the house that enjoys this healthy drink) Apparently the grains continue to grow, so just like my worms, at a certain point I should have grains to share. Any takers? J

Lots of knitting has been going on, but the only finished project is a crocheted dishcloth. Having made many knitted dishcloths over the last few years, I had a bag of leftover cotton yarn on hand. Experiment time. Most crocheted dishcloths are too stiff for my liking. So I tried a granny square one for a change and actually quite like the prototype. It looks nice, works well and dries quicker than the others. So I’ll make more of them. Doesn’t this one match my dishtowel well? Purely accidental.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Definitive Mac and Cheese

What does it say about me that one of my life goals has been to find the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe? I have already accomplished another – the perfect chili recipe. I was half-way to a successful life. And now, fait accompli – macaroni perfection. (these last four words must be said with a heavy French accent).

I discovered an excellent cooking magazine in the library the other day. It was supposed to be for my “loves to cook and bake” daughter, but she wasn’t interested. So I took a look through. You know how “Julie and Julia” made you want to go out, get Julie Child’s books, start at the beginning and recreate the movie? This magazine did that for me. (actually I did take 3 of Child’s books out – I’m not loving French cooking, but the thought was nice).

“Cook’s Country” magazine is taken from a Public Television show called “Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen”. Each recipe comes with a short essay on the technique used or the history of the recipe development. It’s a mini cooking course with sidebar tidbits of food lore and diagrams. The food is more down-to-earth and eatable for my family.

I love this magazine so much I’m having to hold myself back from ordering the DVD’s of season one and two of the show.

Back to the mac’n cheese.

The recipe is actually meant as a make-ahead. Imagine that! Making ahead a pasta dish. I’ll have to try it. For this time we snarfed it up for supper and left-overs went with my son to work. The secret ingredient was the chicken broth and cayenne pepper that made it sooo flavourful. And if I had had the heavy cream that it called for instead of milk, the flavour would have been over the moon, I’m sure. I don’t have a problem with butter and cream. God made ‘em; they’re good.

Another goal accomplished yesterday – slipper socks for a former homeless man our church has befriended. He is going through cancer treatments and the weather is getting colder. His feet will appreciate some cozy socks. Cascade 220 superwash (in the best colour yet! – 863, a dark, rich burgundy)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Is fat my enemy?

Reading about nutrition and nutrition trends is a hobby of mine. It has been since I was about 13 or 14. (40 years!) Fads come and go; science learns new things; popular knowledge continues to be influenced by big business. In the area of health, it is important to keep your perspective. So many people have an agenda or a bias. Just as in everything else in life, you must consider the source; consider what they might gain by what they are putting forward. A friend asked how to judge what you are reading about, since there are so many differing opinions and theories on what constitutes good health. I told her that one thing I do is look at the footnotes and scientific studies quoted. Can they be substantiated? Does the science work? Are there conflicting messages?

A blogger that I follow posted these guidelines, which I think can keep the confusion in perspective:

This is my method: first I ask God to guide me, and then I ask myself these questions

  1. What is the most natural, traditional way…the way God originally intended?
  2. How did our ancestors eat?
  3. What makes the most sense?
  4. Whatever I’m reading at the moment, what are they selling or how do they benefit if I believe what they say?

You can’t go too wrong following these guidelines.

A recent, fascinating read was "Rethinking Thin" by Gina Kolata. She studied diets and dieting and challenged conventional wisdom regarding weight loss. Can we lose weight and keep it off? Do we need to lose weight? The answer might surprise you. The conclusion she came to (and yes, she has pages of footnotes) was that contrary to what we've been lead to believe, being overweight is not necessarily the health hazard it's made out to be. Our culture's standard of allowable fat may tell us that those rolls shouldn't be there. But health-wise, longevity-wise, maybe you can keep them and still come out ahead. Of course, bucking the image when it's in our face constantly is another story.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I've never been a mother that could blithely go to sleep before all of her children are tucked safely in bed. The 17 and 19 year olds, maybe, but not the 14 year old. So last night, in spite of being somewhat sleep deprived since early afternoon and after a satisfying knit-night, I said no to the comfort of my covers and grabbed my husbands rental DVD to continue the knitting till said son arrived home.

My husband had had to exchange the Harrison Ford movie (which I was looking forward to) for a war movie, he told me. Ugh! But I plugged it into the computer, started the needles clicking and settled in.

Well...have you seen the movie Valkyrie yet? It is well worth watching - in fact, not to be missed. It's a true story of a German hero towards the end of WWII. And the ending... that's where IMPACT comes in. I won't give it away, but suffice to say I was stunned and there were tears.

See this movie.

So what did I knit on while watching this, you wonder? The substitute socks I started after realizing the last pair weren't going to work (see last post). The funny thing is that my friend at knit-night pointed out that the Opal yarn I was using was sport weight (I didn't even know that Opal made sport weight). Of course, I hadn't adjusted my plain jane sock pattern to allow for this. But it seems to be alright. The socks are a little heavy, but will be good for boots. A little stiff, but will hopefully soften up with washing. A little big, but she might have bigger feet and legs than me. I hope I have a little more luck with my next project. I seem to be on a roll of little miscalculations these days.

Opal ZwergerGarn Best of Opal 6 fach Colorway1711

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chivalry is not dead

Picture a crowded medical clinic waiting room, everyone clutching their precious number in their hands. Seats are at a premium - being juggled, as one by one, numbers are called and new people enter. There is rarely a free chair.

In the door walks an elderly Chinese man and woman, clearly husband and wife. True to their time, the wife defers to her husband and he sits in the only available seat. Immediately an older gentleman jumps up and offers his place. She motions, "No, no, no", and goes into the corner to lean against the wall. He says, "Sit, sit." No, she will continue in her corner. The polite gentleman settles on his part of the wall, opens his book and begins to read. Someone else enters the clinic and takes the open seat. A number is called. A chair becomes free. The reader motions to the woman to take it. No, she'll stay where she is. This interchange goes on a few more times. Finally, the woman overcomes her natural instincts and upon a final motioning from Mr. Chivalrous, she laughingly sits down.

It turns out she is the one that needs the medical attention.

But I'm sure there was never any bitter feelings on her part. Cultures can be so different.

Which brings me to an interesting but a little weird, book I read this summer.
The Hundred Secret Senses was written by the well-known author Amy Tan. Dealing with the occult, I several times almost set the book aside. It was just strange sometimes. But the story-line did pull me in and was written well enough that I kept going. All ghost-like stuff aside, the culture and customs of China were what drew me to keep reading. The characters are well developed and complex. If you have any interest in China, you'll probably like this book.

Socks on the needle: Meilenweit Mega Boot yarn, with contrast heel and toe in Waikiwi. I was going to gift these at Christmas, but just realized today that the contrast is not a machine dryable yarn. Drat! It's back to Opal for gift socks, and these will either have to be for me or someone I know doesn't toss socks in the dryer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Take me away from it all

Summer books I've read continue to filter through from my long term storage. "Taken" was an interesting change from more serious reading. Apparently based on a TV miniseries, but I haven't seen it. The author used a technique where a number of different people are brought in one by one and eventually you start to see the connections. (This book is not to be confused with the movie of the same name. That movie will convince you that your daughter should NEVER travel overseas without you.)

My knitting news is that I'm starting to slow down. I had a very unfortuate experience about a week ago. After knitting on a cabley piece of satisfaction for about 8 hours, I decided that it wasn't living up to my expectations. So...I pulled it off the needles. But my mojo was gone. I could not start this shawl again. In a moment of madness I yanked out my crochet hook and some gorgeous variegated yarn and went to work. A week later it was done. Today I'll show you the "unfortunate experience". When I can get a stunning model to put on the finished shawl, that picture will follow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Reading about nature

I have to admit that I am an armchair naturalist. Reading about nature; watching nature shows - that's where I'm most comfortable. I enjoy being outside, but have to push myself to get there. So I admire people who are "at home in the outside". Edith Holden was one of those people. She was an artist who regularly spent a good deal of time on walks or bike riding in the great outdoors. "The Edwardian Lady" by Ina Taylor is a biography of her life that gave a great deal of insight into life in the late 1800's and early 1900's, as well as a description of Edith's life. It was also wonderfully illustrated with photos and the artwork of Edith and her sisters . Four interesting points from this book:

1. Edith was 39 years old when she got married, but there was no indication that she was pining away all those unmarried years. She got on with her life and it was a very interesting one, indeed.

2. Most people of the day went to church, but amazingly many were also into occult activities. One wonders how they managed to reconcile that fact.

3. Edith Holden Smith died tragically about 9 years after her marriage. She was attempting to collect specimens for drawing, and fell into a creek and drowned.

4. Edith authored a well-loved book "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" (link is to several copies to be had for $0.10!) When I found this book in a used book store years ago my heart began to beat wildly and my palms broke out in sweat.

What else would I have finished knitting right now but another hat. Again in Paton's Classic Wool Merino and the Classic WWII watchcap pattern. It does have a zig zag pattern on the ribbing, but being black you can't see it very well. I loved working with this yarn and would like to make another to keep.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ravelry is an online knitting group that has taken the (knitting) world by storm. Being a member opens the door to thousands of other crafters, vendors, patterns - just about anything having to do with yarn or fiber or the people involved with it. I could literally spend hours on there, browsing.

Anyhow...reading a post on the Prayer Shawl group right now reminded me of another book that I read this summer. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.

From the site: If Miss Marple were fat and jolly and lived in
Botswana--and decided to go against any conventional notion of what an unmarried woman should do, spending the money she got from selling her late father's cattle to set up a Ladies' Detective Agency--then you have an idea of how Precious sets herself up as her country's first female detective. Once the clients start showing up on her doorstep, Precious enjoys a pleasingly successful series of cases.

This was a delightful and insightful book. My only question is - how does a male author know so much about women?

My Procrastination Hat came about from trying to avoid doing all the Children's Ministry and homeschooling organizing that I KNEW I needed to do. A hat for the kids to wear come winter. Marks and Kattens Eco multi ull yarn done in the standard Classic WWII watchcap.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Moving backwards

I've done a lot of reading this summer. So many books, in fact, that I'm having a hard time remembering them all. So I'll begin with the most recent - that my brain can handle.

A new author to me is Maeve Binchy. She's written many books and fortunately, the library has most of them. So it may be a Binchy binge for the next while. "Quentins" was a delightful read - a look into the lives of a number of interesting people, the morals of some being questionable. But for the most part, the consequences of poor decisions come through loud and clear. It's written in the tone of the Jan Karon/Father Tim novels (which I love, by the way). Set in Ireland, this story made me want to visit that country even more.

Another "Hats for the Homeless" project down - 6 to go. (I may have to revise that New Year's goal - too many other "must knits" seem to come along). Again, I used Paton's Classic Merino Wool. I can get it for a really good price at Michaels with a 40 or 50% off coupon. Wool is lovely to work with and warm for winter. The basics of the Classic WWII watchcap pattern have been memorized, so the stitch pattern is the only thing that has to be concentrated on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smooth, creamy goodness

My latest nutrition find is kefir. My husband calls it rotten milk. The kids won't go near it. But I can't get enough of it. The store-bought kefir is OK. What I make myself is so much better. And it's one of the easiest traditional foods you can make. Truth be told, getting back to eating traditionally is a lot of work. Making everything from scratch takes time. But to make kefir you merely stir some culture into the milk, sit it on the counter for 12-24 hours (or longer) and you get a smooth, sour drink that doesn't taste anything like sour milk. I promise. I mix mine with a little yogurt or juice concentrate or, my favorite, a smidge of real maple syrup. Yummy!

I've spent the last number of hot weeks knitting on a project that normally I wouldn't choose for the summer - a moderne baby blanket.
However, it is a gift for a young lad in our church who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. So sad. I hope that this blanket will remind him of how much he is being prayed for. I made it out of Vanna's Choice yarn from Michaels so that it
will be fully washable. My youngest son gave it the cuddle test and it passed with flying colours.

On the weekend I made a classic WWII watchcap. Apparently a million of these were made during the war and sent over to the troops. I like a little history with my knitting. The pattern comes with a few variations, so I may be making these for a while. They will go to our "Hats for the Homeless" program at church. Made out of Paton's Classic Wool on size 4.5 mm needles.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Is God stupid?

I don't think so... listen below to what the underground wellness guy has to say.

This guy is great. I follow his podcast and recently came across some youtube videos. I'm deep into nutrition research right now and feel like something finally makes sense. In past posts I've talked about the traditional diet as espoused by Weston Price and Sally Fallon. My knowledge base continues to grow - it's fascinating stuff to someone who has always been interested in nutrition.

Am I knitting? You bet! Miles and miles of garter stitch. On the needles is a blanket for a family that is going through a tough time with cancer in the 11 yo son and the father. So all other projects have been put on hold till that is done. And a power outage fried my hard drive the other day, so pictures will have to be another day.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On holidays...

I've been away for 11 days and leave again tomorrow for another week. Imagine if you can...sandy beach, warm water gently lapping the shore, horizon that stretches forever, mountainous skyline. Yes, I am incredibly blessed to be able to spend time in this little corner of God's amazing creation. Add to that beautiful yarn and enough projects to keep me knitting for hours a day. It doesn't get much better than that.

My first vacation stint came up with a pair of slipper socks, three pairs of unfinished socks completed, and 4 dishcloths. Pictures to follow when I get back.

I won't list the projects I'm bringing this time. You'd think I was crazy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books I HAVEN'T read...

Sometimes you start reading a book and for whatever reason, you quit. In my case, it's often the bad language. Certain words really grate on me, especially in an audio book, where you can't slip past them. A book has to grip me to keep me going - there's too many books out there to endure something that's boring or offending. So here's the most recent list of books that I began but gave a pass to. This was all in the same day, mind you.

A yarn that I have come to love is Cascade 220 superwash. Unfortunately, I can't get it locally. But has reasonable shipping, so I ordered a swack of the stuff to make slipper socks. The pair I just finished are going to a former pastor who just lost his wife. I hope that they will keep his feet warm in the winter now that she is no longer able to. The pattern is from The cool thing is that if you're on Ravelry and find projects for this pattern, the featured pair is mine! These are really easy to make with 100 grams of worsted weight yarn, which is knit doubled, so they work up quickly.

Do you know why they call it "220"? It's because there are 220 yards in the 100 gram skein. It took me a while to figure that out. free image hosting

Monday, July 13, 2009

A while back I read and reviewed a book called "Shackleton's Stowaway", by Victoria McKernan. Her writing impressed me so much that I bought "The Devil's Paintbox". I tried to borrow it from the library first, but no luck. Once it came in the mail, the cover illustration was enough to convince me it is a book I want on my own library shelf. But that might just be rationalizing a purchase :).

This story is set in the late 1800's, as a wagon train sets out on the Oregon Trail. It was well researched and thoroughly fascinating as a brother and sister encounter page after page of new adventures and set backs. Three stars.

I forgot to mention in my last post on the bunny toy - a new technique I learned was double knitting. To do this you slip every other stitch on one row and then coming back you knit (or in my case, purl) the slipped stitch and slip the knitted stitch. This results in a double fabric. I did it for the bunny head and was then able to stuff the head in the pocket created. Cool! I see online that there are other ways to double knit as well that involve two colours, but I'm not there yet.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Skeletons in my closet

A few years ago I visited an art supply shop with my oldest son. They had a life-sized wooden skeleton for sale there that I almost splurged and bought. What stopped me? The price, of course. It was $600 and hard to justify. And where do you hang such an item? Skeletons do fascinate me, though, and I have a little Halloween one hanging on my bedroom closet door.

Boneman's Daughters by Ted Dekker was a murder mystery having a lot to do with skeletons. Or at least, the bones contained within human flesh. Having read a number of Dekker's books that had a Christian theme, I was surprised by the storyline of this one. But he didn't let me down. There was definitely a redemption message throughout the whole book. Boneman's Daughters is not a book for the squeamish. But it was a good read - a quick read by necessity, as it was only a 7 day loan from the library. I'll give it three stars.

My newest yarn choice was a sale item from I had been wanting to try knitting linen and this yarn jumped out at me as the perfect fit for a woman I've been hoping to knit a prayer shawl for. She recently lost a friend who she was also the caregiver for. The shawl was easy to knit and there's enough left over to make another small one, so I may get one for myself. The pattern was a free one from Lion Brand - the easy triangle shawl. The yarn is Needful Yarns Geranium (acrylic, linen, rayon blend).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I have had a pro-life stance ever since I had occasion to view in-the-womb models of fetal development. That opened my eyes to the reality of the humanity of the unborn. Much later I became more involved with activism and through much reading and listening came to understand the heartache associated with abortion. Not only is a life lost, but the remaining lives are changed forever as well, and not in a good way.

So I was interested to read Jodi Picoult's book "Handle with Care", as I'd heard it took on this issue. And indeed it does, as it tackles the subject of wrongful birth. Early into the book I made the decision not to read it. The story threatened to be a heartbreaker and I didn't think I wanted to put myself through it. But...I was hooked and went to the end. You will find yourself moved by the struggles the characters go through as they try to make sense of tragic circumstances in their lives. Ultimately this book confirmed my prolife stance and I came away comforted by the reassurance that there is a God in heaven. He knows the beginning and the end and everything in between. Did Picoult state this? No, but that's the message I got and for that I'm satisfied to have finished the book. I'll give it three stars.

Lazy hours of summer-time knitting haven't arrived yet, but I did finish something. A cute little Bunny Blanket Buddy toy to add to a baby blessing basket being given to a new mom in a few weeks. It was a spur of the moment distraction that grabbed me after I saw someone else's version on Ravelry. I made it out of Lion Brand cotton-ease, so it's washable. I'm sure it will spend a lot of time in the baby's mouth.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Memory - friend or foe?

Some books I must have choosen because the contrast between me and the subject matter fascinates me. For example, the allure of reading about the Arctic and Antarctic is that it's unconceivable to me that anyone would choose to spend time in absolute cold. "The Woman Who Can't Forget" is a true story about a woman who remembers everything she ever did or read or heard. It boggles the mind! I have a hard time with several hours ago! She even remembers things from others people's lives. As long as she had contact with the person or information, it's filed away in her brain. In a instantaneously retrieved mind file.

I can often remember information. It just takes my file manager several hours to bring it up from cold storage to the front of my mind. Of course, by then the moment may have passed when I needed it. Such is life - I've always had a memory like this, it just gets worse as time passes. This quote sums up my experience with memory: The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Even more than a look into this woman's life story and what having the most remarkable memory known to science means to her, this book gives a great deal of insight into how the mind works and memory in general. An absorbing read. Three stars.

I learned a new knitting technique the other day. The project got frogged and turned into something else (see Aviatrix baby hat), but it was a learning experience in any case. To get a knitting project started, you must first cast on (CO), which is setting up the yarn onto your needles so that you can proceed with the actual knitting. I have always CO in the manner that I learned as a child - a form called the long-tail cast on. I really didn't know there was any other way to do it until I took up knitting again in the last few years. Now I know that there are many, many different ways to cast on. The cable CO is the one that I just learned. It created a nice looking edge, but was more time consuming than I'm used to, so only if the pattern calls for it will I use it. Here's a video that shows how it's done:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time to think about summer reading

Good beach reading would be "Bone by Bone" by Carol O'Connell. A murder mystery that kept me turning pages long past the time I should have been in bed. I'll have to check out her other books. I'll give it two stars.

I told a friend recently that since I had so many knitting projects started I wouldn't be casting on anything else till some were finished. Well...a tiny baby hat that matches the baby blanket from the last post doesn't count. After all, it's part of the same project (in a way). It's the same yarn. And it worked up so quickly that someone blinking might not have noticed. It sure was fun to knit, though! Pattern: Aviatrix Yarn: Paton's Decor Needles: 5mm & 3.25 mm

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giving Koontz another try

Dean Koontz is an author that I can't always be sure of. Some of his books I love and some I have to put down rather quickly. "Odd Hours" was one that kept me reading, even though I contemplated giving up several times. The supernatural nature of the storyline was unsettling to me. But his writing fascinated. The protagonist in this book has psychic powers. He is also a very transparent, funny person. It was his personality that kept me going. And Koontz has a way of turning a phrase that, while not elevating him to the classic book realm, gives real pleasure to a literary mind. Will I be giving myself away as a non-scholar if I rate this book three stars?

I recently finished a baby gift - a cozy blanket knit from a washable acrylic/wool blend. The pattern ended up being adapted from the original it started out as. A math miscalculation made following the pattern impossible. Of course, the baby will never know what the gift was supposed to look like. Pattern: Hap Blanket, adapted Yarn: Paton's Decor Needles: 10.5 mm and large crochet hook

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Photo shoot

Life is constant motion
No time to reflect or pause
Yarn soothes the numb soul

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wasted calories

One unexpected change that has come with my aging body is that I can no longer eat anything that I want and maintain a healthy weight. Every calorie that crosses my lips must be considered for its nutritive value and pleasure factor. That's why the ice cream snack I had the other night was such a waste! A little background - the grocery store that I regularly shop at has discontinued selling our favorite 4 litre bucket of ice cream. Despite many dissatisfied customers, they have decided that our opinion isn't worth bringing it back. So I was forced to buy the other brand (which is more expensive). Upon bringing it home I thought I'd give it a try. Bad, bad, bad. Taste that is. I wasted my snack calories on substandard ice cream! And once it's down the gullet, there's no going back. At least, for me there's not. Now I will be in search of another brand of ice cream and will have to break my rule of only food shopping at one store.

Our one camping trip of the year takes place this weekend. Major packing up of gear. Major headache. But it's all worth it once we get there. We love our homeschool campout. As a knitter, the question becomes - what projects to take? how many to take? will I take enough? 

I had decided on three sock projects. One pair is 
just about finished - I just love this yarn! So instead of tucking it into the luggage to bring along, I had to keep on knitting. The foot will get finished at the campground and I should get to wear this luscious, glowing wooly gem. Unless the weather warms up, of course, which we're all hoping for. Then I'll just wear them to bed. (Chameleon Colorworks Footsie Yarn in Figgy Pudding Colourway; Roundabout pattern on the leg)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Revisiting those New Year's Resolutions

Experts say that to get anywhere with your plans you have to go over them regularly. My New Years Resolutions are on the wall right beside my desk. I DO look them over periodically. But in the hustle and bustle of everyday life I haven't assessed where I'm at with them. So here goes...

1. reread "The GI Diet Book". Not done, but I have been reading lots of other health/diet books. Does that count?

2. knit one charity hat per month. On track. I've been thinking, though, that in the summer I need to do TWO hats a month. These hats get given out in October. So November and December hats need to be done by then.

3. knit one Christmas gift per month. Well, that's a hard one. First - I haven't got a list. Second - birthdays come up during the year as well. So I have two Christmas gifts and one birthday gift done. I may rethink this resolution.

4. listen to the entire Bible. I think I'm on track here.

5. simplify the family meals and make more bulk meals. Simplifying I've done. Bulk meals, not so much. Make that - not at all. Maybe that will be a summer goal.

6. be more organized with my knitting projects. Check that off. My notebook is stuffed with notes, yarn samples and swatches.

7. learn one new knitting skill per month. Hmmm....I got the DVD's....watched one of them...I'm SURE I've learned stuff...

8. try one new alpaca yarn per month and become an expert on alpaca. The "becoming an expert" continues with reading. The "one new yarn a month" is scrapped. That was too ambitious.

9. make good use of the 4 month gym membership. Well, it turned out I only had a one month membership and after that one month I choose not to renew. I was getting stressed out trying to fit in going to the gym around all the other things I need to do when I'm out. And, no, I haven't been keeping up with the exercise at home. Whip me with a wet noodle to get me going.

10. have a relaxed Christmas. Still to come! I'm looking forward to this!

Now I want to add a #11 to the list. Get those photos organized and into albums. I'm caught up to year 2000. That's not caught up! That's way behind! This summer I MUST work on albums. 

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Summer reading...a little early

I've just finished up two fiction dramas. Both had child abduction as a theme (I usually avoid reading books of this nature - my kids are too dear to me to even read about such possibilities), so I got them mixed up sometimes. One is a paperback and the other I listened to on my ipod.

Six Seconds by Rick Mofina is a suspense/mystery that had several plot lines 
coming together to create a page turning story.  Suffice to say that I put off bedtime last night to finish it, so it was a good read. I got this book from the library.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline was an purchase. When this suspense story came to what I thought was the end, there was still 2 hours to go. Incredibly the plot took an unexpected turn and when on for the extra time.

I give both of these books two stars - great entertainment.

I have a new knitting trick I developed over the last number of socks I've knitted. When knitting the gusset of a sock you decrease every other row. I had been putting a plastic safety pin on the heel of the foot when decreasing and moving it to the base when knitting around. But what happens when your safety pin isn't handy? 

My new method is to turn up the cuff of the sock when decreasing and let it down on knitting around. No extra tools to have on hand - it's quick and efficient. Here's the trick used on the pair of socks I just finished - Opal Rendez-Vous, colour 2062.

Decrease row.                                                               

Knit around row.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Daughter sized hole

My daughter has gone on an exciting trip to another province to sing in a choir competition. This is a wonderful opportunity for her to experience new places and challenge herself. For me - not so great. When any of my children are away, I feel a gap that is the shape of the particular child. It doesn't last forever, but it does make for an uncomfortable feeling for a while. Fortunately she will be home soon. 

Latest book - Shackleton's Stowaway. Excellent! (three stars) It was so good, I'm reading it to my two youngest now along with a study of Antarctica. Great "boy reading". For them, I'm editing some language and objectionable content as we go. Those sailors were a little rough around the edges!

On the knitting scene I'm challenging my patience and math. I began a baby blanket that I was anxious to make, but I wanted it larger than the pattern called for. So I cast on more stitches and thought that the pattern would work out. It's not working. The pattern calls for a plain centre with feather and fan edging added on. The edging numbers are not matching my centre square. So back to the table to refigure. At least all my knitting up to this point would not be in vain, as I could just decide to do a more simplified border on the edge of the garter stitch square.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Oh what a difference a voice makes

I have finished "The Appeal" by Robert Ludlum and enjoyed it very much. Shall I tell you where I finished the last two CD's? In the car...late at night...on my way to rescue my son and his broken down car. Truly an adventure of love, but the book made the trip much more enjoyable. Listening to professionally-made audio books makes you appreciate the amount of work that goes into them. This narrator had dozens of different characters to deal with and every one had a dialect or inflection of their own. No doubt he had to read the book a number of times and just keeping track of the changes boogles the mind. 

Audio books are probably worth the big bucks that goes along with them, but personally I appreciate the lower price of or the even lower price of the library.

A pen and paper book that is well worth reading is "I am Rembrandt's Daughter" by Lynn Cullen. While this is a fiction novel, most of the facts are historically true. The author used the technique of changing between time periods in alternating chapters, which took me a little while to keep straight. But it was a fascinating glimpse into life in the 1600's in Amsterdam/Europe and the life of a master painter, Rembrandt. A man out of step with his times, creating art from his heart rather than what was commercially desired. A man (apparently) of God, yet a man of weaknesses. We can all be used by God in whatever we do and four hundred years later, this man is still impacting people.

OTN I have a small puddle of colour that, hopefully, will shortly become a stunning, blocked shawl. That's the thing about circular needles and lots of stitches. It keeps you wondering until the project is finished. The yarn is Kureyon Sock Yarn and the pattern is the Gaia Shawl.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oh what a difference the weather makes

It's amazing what a little sunshine can do for your spirits. Cold, snow and dull days going on and on tend to end up bringing you down. A clear, sunny day - especially if spent vigourously attacking the shrubbery - changes attitudes like no medication could. I'm happy that spring is here, needless to say.

I know that I have listened to a book in the 10 days or so since I last posted, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. And it went back to the library. review. Right now I have "The Appeal" pumping through the ear buds. (the narrator of this audio book is excellent! He gives every speaker there own voice/accent - and there are a lot of different ones, it takes place in Mississippi) Also, "Knitting" by Anne Bartlett on the computer. Two totally different novels. While Grisham's book is interesting, it does tend to lose me in places. The problem with a book-on-tape when you read late at night, is that if you fall asleep, the book continues on! So you are faced with the problem of trying to figure out where you left off. That's happened to me with this book. Barlett's novel is more relational and homey. Different books for different moods.

Have I been knitting? Not so much. After the marathon baby blanket knit-in I wasn't prone to pick anything up for a bit. But now I'm continuing to work on the gorgeous Opal socks. I try to keep Opal for gift socks because it is so easy to care for. But these have to be for me! If I could manage to track another skein down, I'll make them again for someone else. The knitting has been so pleasureable. What does it say about my state of mind that I am so drawn to browns and beiges and greys these days? For wearing, at least. I love to look at the coloured yarn and even knit it up. But to put on my body? Give me some neutrals.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm chewing a lot of gum these days

One of the hazards of being a stay-at-home mom is that ....I'm home a lot. Which I like. Make that - love. But...I find that I constantly want to snack. So I decided that every time I feel like putting a little something in my mouth, I'll stick in some sugarless gum.

My jaws are getting sore.

Is anyone sick of Edward and Bella yet? After speed reading through the first Twilight book, I was ready for a break. But my daughter brought home the last 2 in the series of four, so even though I had sworn I wouldn't buy the second book - I did. Read that this week and am now half way into book four. These are "quick reads" from the library. $1 a day overdue fines! So my daughter and I are fighting for reading privileges as we hurry to the ending. (at least I hope it's the ending!)

Between book one and two I watched the movie. Give it a pass, unless you just have to see it. Very melodramatic and bad acting. After book two I was ready to give Bella a knock over the head with a two by four. I did not like that girl! How selfish was she?!! If she could come up with a plan to put anyone that loved her in danger she would do it, all to satisfy her own wants and desires. Book three I skipped over a lot. Let's get on with it! Now in book four there's not so much Bella and it's going much better. But I'll be glad when it's all over and I can get back to my life. (note: I've now finished and wasn't totally happy with the ending)

In the knitting realm I've been working feverishly on a baby blanket - garter stitch takes forever. But it came out nicely and I'm happy with it. The pattern will be a keeper. Of course, there are some socks on the needles, too. A loverly Opal yarn.