Daughter-the-first over at Nerd in Northampton got me interested in Heidi’s Friday Night Sew In…a great motivator given that I have so many WIPs at the moment, and several birthday and Christmas deadlines looming.

So I decided to shake things up (and by that I mean finding some knitting mojo) and spent Friday night whipping up a pair of mittens for daughter-the-second’s December birthday.

Birthday Mittens for Emily

Warm Hands for Miss Ems


Pattern: Favourite Soft Mitts by Fleece Artist
Made for: Emily, to replace a well-worn and puppy-chewed pair
Yarn: Mohair & Blue Face Leicester (held together) by Fleece Artist
Needles: 4.5 mm and 5 mm

Emily has had her own beautiful style for many years. She was rocking berets long before they were trendy again, and I plan to make her a lovely new beret to match the mittens. Stay tuned!

Happy Valentine’s Day to my family and friends far and wide!

As my sisters and my friends keep pointing out to me, it has been far too long since I posted to my blog, and what better day to reach out to all of you than February 14th?

So today I ventured outside with camera, heart, and newly-felted mittens in hand, determined to get a snapshot to show you my fresh-off-the-needles project AND my love. Big clumpy snowflakes were wafting down in an idyllic way, and everything looked beautiful.

I love winter.

And so does this little girl:

As usual, she was determined to get as close as possible to the forbidden handknit wool item. Note the evidence at the bottom of this shot:

So…Happy Wintery Heart Day to all of you. I’ll be back soon (promise!), as I have lots to share after such a long absence.

Pattern: Snow Country Felt Mittens by Bev Galeskas
Made for: Jess, because her hands are always cold
Yarn: Pastaza by Cascade (colour 072 brown)
Needles: 7mm

Once upon a time, when I was at that somewhat touchy preteen age of 12, my family downsized from a six-bedroom house to one with three bedrooms. The move was much-desired by my mother and particularly by my father, a gardening hobbyist, since the “new” heritage home had stunning gardens, a large greenhouse and an enormous weeping birch tree in the front yard. There was a cold room in the basement, and on the top shelf were tarnished trophies the house and gardens had earned in years gone by.

I do remember being entranced by some other things about the house: its proximity to the city library and our church, the stone wall surrounding the yard, and the fact that I could watch for my father as he walked home from the office… tall and dark, looking handsome in his hat, and with pipe and briefcase in hand.

I was less excited about the fact that the four girls in the family would no longer have separate bedrooms. I’m not certain how the decision was made, but I (daughter #2) ended up rooming with daughter#4, my sister Chantelle. I soon discovered that the joys of sharing my space with my wonderful little sister far outweighed any inconvenience, and she has been one of my favourite people ever since that time.

Cha Cha, as she has been known since she tried as a toddler to pronounce her own name (despite the fact that she is a grown-up lawyer and mother, we still call her Cha) is unfailingly good natured and pragmatic, smart as a whip, and game for anything.

When we were camping in northern New Brunswick last month and visited Eel River Beach, she proved that she’ll still try her hand at just about anything:

Cah football at Eel River July 2008

And now…be still my heart…she is adding to her perfection by taking up knitting. I couldn’t be more excited if she were a Nobel Prize winner! Having mastered the art of the garter stitch scarf and dishcloth, she is about to make a shawl like this one I made for a United Way auction:

Watercolour shawl 2 2005

Okay, it is really just half of a giant dishcloth, but still, I see enormous potential.

Happy birthday Cha. Love you forever!

Well, goodness. This summer thing really does wreak havoc with my blogging time. What with working hard to have time to get away on vacation, then actually going on vacation (camping…more on that later) and then returning with family members in tow and heading right back to work…sheesh, time has flown!

So, a bit of catching up is in order.

I made a few more Lizard Ridge squares, and have now finished 15 of the 30 I’ll need. How pretty is this??

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I may just keep producing the squares and stacking them around the house. They’re that satisfying.

I also finished the 3 x 1 ribbed socks and gave them to my sister Marie as a very belated birthday gift:

Marie's socks June 2008

Pattern: personal pattern
Yarn: Meilenweit 100 Cotton Fondo by Lana Grossa, in colour 6508
Needles: Harmony 3.0 and 2.5 mm dpns from Knit Picks

Marie prefers a sock with lots of give, so I experimented with larger needles. She swears that these socks fit well and don’t fall down even after she rides her exercise bike or runs up and down the stairs, so I’ll call them a success.

And yes, those are pews in the background of the photo. It’s like this: I needed a foot model before sending the socks in the mail. My knitting friend Shakti visited my office and was willing to save the day. The lighting in the chapel down the hall was perfect. So there.

* * * * *

Earlier this month, my parents (visiting from Newfoundland) and three sisters (two from Ottawa, one from Newfoundland) and their families joined us in northern New Brunswick at Sugarloaf Provincial Park. We frolicked with cousins from Florida as well as our many relatives living in the area. These people were born for fun, let me tell you!

The intrepid among us pitched tents in carefully chosen adjacent sites and created our humble version of the Kennedy compound.

Campsite - Campbellton July 2008

And look, we found Tiger (in the) Woods!

tiger roaring July 2008

He was exercising his knee by climbing up and down a stump.
Keep up the good work, Tiger.

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You may remember that I made a vow at the beginning of 2008 to knit only from my stash of yarn for the rest of the year. You may also recall my little slip with the Dream in Color Smooshy. Since most of it was for my daughter I was able to justify it to a degree.

I have also acquired (not without guilt) some skeins of Kureyon for my Lizard Ridge blanket, but my friend Debbie assures me that they don’t count as cheating because I need them for an ongoing project. I love Debbie.

Overall, though, I have been doing well with my stash reduction plan. So how do I explain this??
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I think the altitude got to me and muddled my brain.

You see, I was in Kelowna, BC, a few weeks ago, and while I know that it is technically in a valley, you have to understand that this prairie girl-turned-Maritimer gets a little bit excited when she sees something like this:
BC mountains

Look closer:
BC mountains through clouds
Yup. Those are mountains, peaking THROUGH the clouds. Gotta love that.

The next thing I know, I’m enjoying the view from my balcony in Kelowna, and thinking, “Wow, I feel close to the sky here!”
View from Grand Okanagan, Kelowna BC

Of course it wasn’t long before I had that thought familiar to all travelling knitters worth their salt: “Gee, I bet a place like this would have a great yarn store.”

The Yellow Pages revealed that Art of Yarn was just far enough away from my hotel to be a good exercise walk. Not exactly true. It was way too far, but I am nothing if not determined when I am about to give in to temptation.

The store was absolutely lovely, as was the lady working there. I ended up buying two skeins of mercerized cotton to make a bag, two balls of Kureyon for Lizard Ridge, two balls of Kidsilk Haze in a perfect shade to match several family members’ eyes, and three of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

As my card-playing buddies from university days used to say, “Come big or stay home.”

I had to set about using the yarn immediately in order to ensure that it wouldn’t technically enter the stash. Thus, this baby hat for the newest member of my husband’s family, his beautiful great-nephew, Brayden.

Debbie Bliss hat for Brayden 2
Pattern: Striped Hat by Debbie Bliss from Baby Cashmerino 2
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Needles: 3.25 mm

This was my first time knitting with the Baby Cashmerino, and I must say that it is buttery soft. Absolutely worth the long walk and the guilty conscience. (^_^)

I am never one to turn down an adventure, and last week I got to tag along with my best road trip buddy to the Charlevoix region in Quebec. It was my first time in that area, and I must say that it was gorgeous.

This was the view from our room:

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Although I did do a fair bit of work while I was there, I was also able to enjoy a change of scenery and the opportunity to stretch my office-cramped legs and go for some long walks. I also knit a bit, of course!

I finished two Lizard Ridge squares. One was made up from the leftover bits of Kureyon from the first ten squares, because I can’t bear to let those little balls go to waste. Here they are, bursting out of my Booga Bag:

Lizard Ridge Kureyon jumble May 2008

I am still loving this pattern, but progress has been a bit slower as I have been forcing myself to do other things. Like trying to finish the third pair of socks for 2008… the 3×3 ribbed pair which I will be gifting to… oops, I can’t say! I am 75% finished and hope to bring them down the home stretch on the weekend…which should be easy, since I’ll be taking a cross-country plane trip. They’d better let my beautiful Harmony needles on the plane or I will have a serious hissy fit right at Security.

Funny, I remember going to the U.S. from Canada less than two months after September 11, 2001. I flew in and out of several airports in Texas, and there were men and women from the National Guard everywhere. At one airport they had an older woman behind a screen for inspection, because the hooks on her girdle were setting off alarms. They were confiscating nail clippers and tweezers, but I was astonished to discover that long metal knitting needles were allowed on board! Wow. I remember thinking that it would be pretty hard to nail-clip someone to death.

Anyway, I’ll be taking a variety of needles with me, just in case. The reason I’m anxious to get the socks done is that my husband’s nephew and his wife are expecting a baby boy very soon, and I would like to make him a little something. Maybe something like this striped hat.

But back to Quebec… I understand that there is a book on the market called French Women Don’t Get Fat. I’m not sure what the premise of the book is, but I know the real reason they don’t get fat: it is because they stretch their meal out over hours and hours. Holy cow. I’m all for lingering over a beautifully prepared meal, but at one point I thought my friend was going to gnaw on the table leg, and I actually had to go back to my room (remember the cramped office legs?) after waiting for 2.5 hours for my fruit and cheese plate. I’m not kidding! It was because people meandered into the dining room to join our party, and the staff was too well-trained to serve our main course before the newcomers received their appetizers!

Too funny. Of course everything was delicious and beautiful in the Charlevoix area…just have some carrot sticks before you get there.

And bring your camera. I snapped some quick photos on my walk into La Malbaie, the nearest village. There were churches aplenty along the way, and it is hard not to feel close to God when this is what greets you around every corner:

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And here was another little divine moment…sitting on the deck with my knitting and tea, with a gorgeous view and birds tweeting nearby:

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Life is good.

I’ve been thinking about my yarn stash, and as much as it delights me to have lots of the good stuff in my house, I’ve decided that I don’t want my stash to be a burden. I want it to be my palette, my possibilities, my potential…not a source of guilt. So, if a yarn has been languishing in my stash for a lo-o-o-ng time and I still don’t know what I’m going do with it, if its potential is not exciting me, surely it can go to a better home. And, importantly, I can remove it from my mental clutter.

And so it begins.

First, I gave away my two skeins of Sari Silk yarn:

Sari Silk yarn

This yarn is made from the recycled trimmings from silk saris. Very interesting and unique. I had started to make Knitty’s Unbiased , but I wasn’t feeling the love and realized that I didn’t really have any clear plans for this yarn. So… away it went.

Then I gave away some lovely sock yarn, just because i knew the recipient would really appreciate it:

Scheepjes Invicta Coloris 1700

And then…words I never thought I would say… I actually gave away three skeins of Fleece Artist yarn:

Fleece Artist boucle
Fleece Artist wool slub multi
Fleece Artist wool slub (blue)

I purchased them a few years ago and they had been languishing in my stash. I love them. They’re beautiful. But I have so many other projects lined up that this yarn was beginning to feel like a very lovely obligation.

Who needs another obligation? Not me, thank you very much!

I seriously think that I’m earning some yarn wings. Pardon me while I feel all noble and proud of myself.

Today is Mother’s Day, prompting me to think of many things, including the fact that I love being a mother and consider it a privilege. I also thank God for the fact that I am blessed with a mother who loves me very much and a terrific mother-in-law who raised a wonderful son and has welcomed me like a daughter, despite my shortcomings.

I am truly thankful to the mothers of my friends, and to the mothers who raised the fine young men my daughters have welcomed into their lives. I consider our family blessed by all of them.

Today I am paying tribute to my own mother and to the others who do countless little things for their children, and continue to do these things even though they go unrecognized.

1960s Barbie with knit dress

This is one of the two Barbie dolls I had when I was a little girl. Despite having lost her lipstick (don’t we all?), she is in remarkably good shape considering that she is over 40, and especially considering that my other doll suffered the misfortune of having her nose bitten off. Don’t ask.

Note that this Barbie is wearing a hand-knitted dress, made by my mother.

Mom knit two dresses — the other was for my sister Marie, and was a saucy red off-the-shoulder number– from these patterns:
Two 1960s Barbie knit dresses

Everyone knows that Moms do thousands of little things for their children; some are so automatic and unknown to the other members of the family that they will never be recognized. A mother makes sure that her son washes behind his ears, that his hair doesn’t hang in his eyes, and that he wears sunscreen. She remembers to load up her purse with the snack that will keep him from being cranky at the grocery store, includes a wet wash cloth to take care of the sticky fingers and shopping cart germs, and throws a book in for good measure.

A mother reads to her daughters, and reads them like a book: she listens throughout the year to know exactly what they would be delighted to receive for gifts, and anticipates behaviour — good and bad — because she is tuned in to their moods and habits.

This Mommy radar never stops. Its range is impressive, all the way from noticing that children are looking feverish to recognizing that they have gifts they are shy about sharing, to helping them be everything that they can be and encouraging them to be good, kind and loving people.

If I ever doubted that my mother cared about the little things, I only had to listen to her voice in my head: the same voice that told me that a cold rinse would keep my hair shiny and that I should change my toothbrush frequently to avoid bacteria also reminded me to wipe up every surface in the kitchen to prevent pests, to avoid buying shoes that were the slightest bit uncomfortable, and that nothing was better for your clothes than to dry them on the line. All good advice that would stand me in good stead, and that I have, no doubt, passed on to my own daughters.

And here is further evidence that Mom cared about the really little things… she made more doll outfits from this book:

I960s Barbie with Mary Maxim Book

1960s Barbie patterns

She even made the socks. Little, tiny Barbie socks. She must have known that the socks would be lost, that our enjoyment of them would be fleeting. But she made them anyway, because that is exactly the kind of thing that mothers do, whether or not they knit.

Love you, Mom.

This makes me ridiculously happy:

laundry snow sunshine April 26 2008

For the second weekend in a row, I have been able to hang clothes on the line and watch them flutter in the breeze. Even the fact that there is still snow in the background doesn’t dampen my delight, because there is less than there was last week!

Of course, the melting comes with a price in this region, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of our neighbours dealing with flooding and water damage.

On the knitting front, I am squeezing in a bit of time with my love, Lizard Ridge, but my quest to knit a pair of socks every month (or two) in 2008 continues. On the needles at the moment:

Cotton Fondo sock and bag 3

I’m designing a 3 x 1 rib sock, and experimenting with needle size to see if I can create a go-to pattern for times when I want more stretch.

Don’t you love how once you have something on your radar, it keeps cropping up? When I was in Ontario last month, I had a discussion about saints with my daughter’s friend, Chris. This prompted some thinking about patron saints, and in particular St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of students. But I didn’t think for a moment about a patron saint of knitting (where was my mind?), so I was intrigued to see this blog entry pop up on my blog host home page:

Who knew?

* * *
I hope that it is as nice where you are as it is here. The fresh air wafting in is punctuated by the sound of the brook running, birds tweeting, and every now and then a shriek from the kids next door as they howl “What time is it, Mr. Wolf?” (now that brings back memories!). It doesn’t get much better than this.

It almost makes me forget that I am off to the basement to work on our weekend project: emptying the computer room, painting it, and putting a lot less back in! So far… three bags for reycling, one bag to give to a good cause, and a half-bag of garbage. Not too bad. More room for my yarn.

My mother is celebrating a birthday today…halfway around the world and, no doubt, in fine fashion! Mom is such a role model for all of us when it comes to having a zest for life. She is well into her seventies, and continues to approach everything she does with enviable energy. My dad’s efforts to keep up are admirable, and would have felled a lesser man long ago.

Two summers ago we drove to Cape St. Mary’s in Newfoundland for some sightseeing, and on the way back to St. John’s we stopped at a playground to let my nephews stretch their legs and get rid of some excess energy. It worked for Mom, too:

Mom on teeter totter 2006

Mom on swing 2006

Note the buff arms. Mom has been exercising since 1966, and it shows. She rarely misses a day of lifting weights and doing her workout.

Which is why it was no big surprise when I visited my daughter’s friend Rachael in Ottawa and saw that my mom (Ida) was featured on Rachael’s awesome wall of quotes:

Ida quote at Rachel's

Mom, you crack me up!

Love you.

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