Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Looking for Signs

 Is it spring? It can't be spring in the first days of March. But the Forsythia are already blooming. This plant is an indicator that it is safe to trim the roses. But I am not convinced. The nights are still chilly and there has been a teeny bit of frost. But really, it's been ridiculously beautiful in the Fraser  Valley.
 Looking for signs of life in my sourdough started. This one was actually replaced. But the current batch is bubbly and yeasty and very promising.
 The heavy winds were hard on the trees around my field. Coqualeetza is a traditional First Nations healing ground which later became a Residential School, a TB Hospital and an army barracks. Now the Sto:lo Nation is developing public health offices, schools and resource centres and business planning centres on the acreage just behind our house. This plum  branch is from a very old tree that fell down, but still decided to bloom. The tiny buds opened beautifully and quickly.
 OK. Mowing the lawn is a sign of spring. D won't be mowing just yet, which is good news for the violets that have spread out of the beds.

 I pulled out the blocks of my swap blanket. This was through the Knit Girllls podcast many years ago. I would have a partner and she would have me, and we would knit one another a block according to each preference. I ended up with 8 squares. Finally, I took the left over yarns, so graciously included with the cards and stitch markers and other goodies in the mailing, and knit 4 more squares.
This was an unexpected project and I'm really happy to empty another bin in my stash cupboard. I am not someone who likes a lot of variation in pattern, but the blue makes this blanket more homogeneous.

Trying the single crochet joining method. It is really quick, and helped to even out the different sizes of squares. The ridge on the back is not unpleasant, but I feel that mattress stitching would make a tidier join. Luckily I had enough yarn to seam all the pieces and do a single crochet all around the outside. I will steam press the seams to day and take it to knitting tonight. I am trying to encourage the knitters to use some of our donated yarn to make blanket squares for the local youth shelter. Hopefully, showing them a complete blanket, and the two squares that I have knit, will encourage them to knit just a square to join together.
 I am thankful. This small rhododendron, Snow Lady, is not always successful. D has trimmed her so she has grown beautifully. But sometimes she blooms in the rain and is just mush, or we are travelling and I miss it. Very early blooms are already happy in the sun. Unfortunately the blueberry fields are blooming very early and we are worried the bees won't be out in time to do the pollenating.
 Along with the waffles blanket for my nurse friend who is due in August, I made her a Bunny Nugget. Had forgotten how much she loved the one I gave my yoga instructor. I love it when the ideas come at the right time with the right yarn.
 Walking the trail is such a pleasure. Carly is not doing well enough to walk it every day, but when she is walking straight, we go to the other side of the creek and follow the crush gravel path.
 We snuck away for a quick trip to Vancouver Island. D has been working so very hard and long hours and needed to be away from work and band. This is Sidney, where our son works, but we didn't get to see him when we were poking around the shops and the beach right near the ferry.
 Bee Hive knits is right downtown Victoria. I was looking for some specific yarn (Noro Kureyon for my fussy cuts blanket, and natural sport sock yarn for kilt hose) and they had good choices. This is the first time I also had good service. Don't know why I am not normally welcomed as a real knitter. But there was a lady about my age who shared the delight in the colours and softness and even husband sat D and showed him the electric ball winder.
 We stayed at the Strathcona Hotel, right down town. Great location. But I was a bit worried when we recognized it has a liquor store, Sticky Wicket pub, District club and Big Bad John's Western bar. Not a problem.

 Friday was a bit drizzly. We walked around downtown and found Emily's poster she made for her band concert.

 Loved the Fan Tan Gallery in Chinatown which has the import items, but displayed in a great way. This kitty just about jumped into my bag.

 We went to the Copper Owl to see Emily's band. It was very cool. And late. And loud. We weren't the oldest there, but we were probably the soberest.
 Nine piece band! Crazy good music. Their style is Balkan and jazzy. Yes, that's a tuba, and two trombones and two violins and an accordion. Plus two drums and two trumpets (Em) and a flugelhorn. Too much fun! We even danced a wee bit.
 The next day we set off to the ferry. I am finishing up my Bricks & Mortar mittens. Need to write up the pattern to share with others who want to support our local yarn shops.
 Got to knit on the ferry, in the sun, just resting and almost dozing. At home, it was Paw's birthday which was great fun, and not too late.
The colours we have pushing up in the gardens now are becoming a riot.
And the lovely magnolia is starting her debut. She will continue to bloom well past October. This is a great sign of beauty, right on the edge of my deck. We planted it a few years after we moved in, and it is well past 30 feet high. A sign that we have settled here.
Hope that you have hopes of spring and the promise of new blooms.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Second Chances

 We are experiences embarrassingly fine weather. The rest of the country, and much of the continent are battling the blizzard of the week, and we are gardening.
 I love my walks at this time of the year. There are always surprises waiting to excite me.
 Mom's naturalized crocuses are divine.
 We had a lovely quiet Valentines Day. I got D a set of iphone chargers for travel, and a cow poster. Yes, that is our currency.
He found me a book on the Camino de Santiago. I love hearing about this pilgrimage, but am not sure I would be able to walk it.

 My sister had a big party for my nephew and his partner who just moved back from Brazil. The theme was Canadian food, so I made tortiere roll ups. I wanted to make tarts, but I was unable to make pastry. I was hit with a bug that made me dizzy and nauseated. It lasted a few days. So I just sat. And knit.
 Hayward was done for the Susan B Anderson Shawl-a-long. But my second skein had several breaks in it, I didn't have enough to finish the second lace chart, and I had to rob from Noro to finish the bind off.

 I kind of fell out of love with it. But it is a lovely scarf. It'll go in the gift drawer.
 The sun was teasing me as I read in the front room. We still get some very grey and rainy days, so we must enjoy the sun when it comes.
 In a fit of organizing, I switched files of magazine clippings to Pinterest. The exact item was there most of the time. These are now organized by gifts ideas, or for our home, recipes and dreams.
 I am getting better about using our little library. We are a regional library, sharing a huge selection of titles throughout the Fraser Valley (it was a Carnegie grant originally, and thank goodness was successful). I remember the thrill of waiting for the Bookmobile when I was preschool age at Cultus Lake and being allowed to pick my own two books. Now it's more non fiction books on knitting and cooking. Plus audio tapes. I am trying to read down a BBC book list. There were 100 top books and I only need about 12 to finish. Last week I finished Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and started listening to The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I love dipping into things I would never have chosen. I am also starting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Don't tell the Dean of English at UBC, but I didn't actually read that book, though I was tested on it. Who am I kidding, it was probably obvious. But 33 years later, I still have remorse. How to deal with it? Read the thing.
 My Hoaloha sweater was a bust. Two Februarys ago, I convinced my cowboy sister to knit a mystery sweater with me. That was wrong in so many ways. The sweater was not hard to knit and it fit pretty well. But it was not at all flattering on either of us. The good thing about a top down sweater is that it rips out pretty easily.
 Last February, I ripped hers out and knit an Antler, by Tin Can Knits, for my Olympic knitting project. It turned out really well, and it was hard to give to her for her birthday. Now I'm ripping out mine and will make my own Antler.
 The wool is balled up, not too tightly.
 Then I make skeins on the swift. I soak them and hang them to dry before rewinding them into cakes.
 Inspiration struck this week while listening to A Playful Day podcast.  Kate was talking about supporting our bricks and mortar local yarn shops and I thought this little fingerless glove would be a nice way to show support. The Cascade 220 was in the stash and I am still writing it up and knitting the first one. When it is done, I will send it to Kate with the pattern to share with shops like my sister's and my niece's.
 One of my knitting friends has a contract to teach crochet. I know! And she has proven herself a great and prepared teacher when she introduced our knitting circle to Tunisian crochet. I test-crocheted her pattern and ended up with a pretty nice dish cloth that will join the pile intended as a gift to the church for sharing their space with us each week.
 More inspiration. I flipped through all my Tin Can Knits and Jane Richmond books. They are the hottest designers right now and I have had the good fortune to meet them all, and So Very Shannon at 88 Stitches. My books are signed and they offer the download code when you buy them at a trunk show. Fan girl!
 That ended up in a quick 4 day Waffles. One of my sweet nurses is expecting and I want her baby to have hand knit love.

For Lunar New Years I looked in one of my own neglected cook books and found a recipe for Chicken Kung Pao, which D usually orders when we go to Earl's restaurant. I made it a bit spicy, even. I would make it again, and add even more vegetables. Gung Hay Fat Choy
And for true second chances. We had a lot of trees fall down in the storms this winter. This plum tree branch still wanted to bud. I brought it home, and put it in water for a delightful surprise. Don't give up. It's worth giving a second chance.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Looking for Love

 Sometimes February feels like the longest month. After walking the dog, I have to hang up my hat and coat to dry out. The rain, like mist, has snuck into my inside sweater. The dog loves it. I seem to have missed some pictures from my phone. They got onto Instagram and some to Facebook, but didn't download properly. User error. But I do love my iphone and the photo opportunities it gives me.
I sent a box of books to the Bookman and got a huge credit! My only memories of trying to share my used books were of huge rejection.
The bakery, Harvest, is near the book store, so I got D some doughnuts (early) for Valentines. He said they taste like the ones his mom used to make. Your mom used to make doughnuts?!!!
 We are blessed with snow drops. The first arbiter of spring. I have them next to my sink to encourage me while I'm doing chores.
 Finally, I have taken some time for writing. My goal is to expand journalling into free writing exercises and get back to my novel. It will help to start planning the next ones, too. I love writing, but always turn to knitting or other activities that don't require so much courage. Looking for that feeling I get at the end of a writing session!
 So lucky to sneak off to 88 Stitches. Such a lovely yarn shop. I have signed up for some blanket squares to mail in to show some love to podcasters, but didn't have worsted superwash. This is a recurrent theme. They had what I wanted, plus some truly exquisite new yarns. Not that I need any. My stash is bursting. Next I am going to separate all the partial balls and get on some of that scrappy craft. It will probably empty the stash cupboard by half.
 Yes I did find some lovelies. I'm modifying the Holding Hands and Feeding Ducks pattern for a blanket square, first 12 inches, and then 8 inches for my swap blanket. I have a box of blue squares from a Ravelry swap that I did over a few years. I can make a few more squares and have a blanket to give away and share some of that love.
 These Noro Fussy Cuts are the first squares in my new blanket. They are already 12 inches square before I add the ivory borders. I keep thinking this one will be for me, but I tend to let the knitted love move along.
 On my walks with the scuba dog, we are discovering the blessings of an early spring. We hope that there doesn't come a mean little frost to scare away the blossoms. In my heart, I think we can't turn back now, but in my memory, I know it has happened before.
 More snowdrops in the neighbourhood.
And I finally got a fun road trip with my BFF. We went to Duft & Co for lunch. Best croissants yet. Brought home some garlic and cheese buns that totally saved the left over lasagne.
Scored more wool at Michaels. I have been plotting an afghan for the front room that will co-ordinate with our new carpet (that will go down when we put in wood floors and not this week.)
I had priced out the Wool Ease Thick and Quick and was prepared to save up and use birthday money for the Tin Can Knits BonFire Blanket from their new Road Trip book.
But there it was at half the price and welcoming my 15% off coupon. Oh yes! I have been on a pretty strict yarn diet for over a year. But I love buying yarn!
This weekend my sister is down for our welcome home party to our nephew. There will be more fun.
Looks like love is in your own back yard.