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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??

IMG_8031

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. (^_^)

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.

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.

There has been some positive knitting energy happening chez Hetty Knits:

Lizard Ridge basket

It has been a long time since I have had this much fun with a knitting project. It is, of course, the fabulous Lizard Ridge by Laura Aylor. The free pattern is available on Knitty.

Over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few skeins of Noro’s Kureyon, the yarn required for this project, and my daughter convinced me that it is time to get started. Mind you, I didn’t take much convincing, so maybe it was more like aiding and abetting.

I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. one night to master the technique required. Couldn’t help myself. Now that I know how to do it, making the squares for this blanket (each square uses most of a ball of Kureyon) is so much fun it should be illegal. I’m not so sure I’ll feel the same way when the time comes to sew the squares together and create the border, but we shall see.

Lizard Ridge bumps 2

I get a kick out of the “bumps” formed by the short-row technique involved. They’ll flatten and smooth out when I block each square, and I know I’ll miss them.

In other news… the mammoth 2008 snowfall is melting!!

Here is Miette, out on our (finally) snow-free deck. In the background is our brook, with the water running nicely.

Miette on deck with brook apr 13 2008

Look… no ice!

Brook with water closeup Apr 13 2008

Miette finds this very amusing.

Miette observes on deck Apr 13 2008

Miette in sun 5 Jan 2008

This is my dog, Miette. She looks innocent, doesn’t she? Do not be deceived.

All I can say is that it’s a good thing I love her, it’s a good thing she’s cute, and it’s a good thing I have a sense of humour!

The other day I prepared for a trip to the post office, where I was to mail a package to my mother and a little envelope to my friend Lynn’s son and his wife. Inside the envelope there was a tiny pair of hand-knitted socks for their new baby, Nina.

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I put everything I needed into a bag and placed it near the stairs while I put on my jacket, then grabbed the bag and ran out the door, figuring I would seal the envelope once I got to the post office.

When I got there, I could only find one sock in the envelope. I looked under the car seat, emptied my bag several times, and even checked my pockets. No sock.

I returned to the house, looked in the driveway and walkway, opened the front door…and discovered this:

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Somehow my VERY BAD dog had stolen the sock in the few seconds my back had been turned. Miette is well known for her lust for yarn and her preference for wool, and I am always very diligent about keeping my knitted goods away from her. I honestly don’t know how she managed this sleight-of-paw move.

Sigh. I suppose remedial action is required, but it is complicated by the fact that I have very little spare yarn to work with in this case. Bad dog.

For my friends who are not on the East coast in this winter of all winters, I thought you might be interested in the view from my driveway a few days ago. Not to worry, things are improving…I can see my neighbour’s house!

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I’ll end with a warmer image: an asparagus Tosca I made for my daughter a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting her. Ahh, that’s better. I’m off to make a nice cup of tea.

Supper for Jess - still life with an Asparagus Tosca and Q!

Please forgive me, dear readers, for being away from my blog so much lately… but it was all for a good cause. I was in Ontario last week, visiting my daughter Jess, and cavorting with my adorable godson (and nephew), Elliott the Wonder-boy.

Cousins at the window

And there was knitting going on, some of which will only be revealed in the fullness of time. (I love saying that, and really, how often can I?)

The long-awaited Jaywalker socks have been completed. They were gifted to Jess, and she has already worn them. Look closely, because you are unlikely to see another pair of Jaywalkers springing from my needles!

Jaywalkers 1

Jaywalkers 2

Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina, at MagKnits
Yarn: Regia Strato Color (colour 5747) by Schachenmayr
Needles: Harmony 2.25 mm dpns from Knit Picks

You know, sometimes — despite having the perfect yarn (it was), a great pattern (no doubt there), no difficulty with the execution (there wasn’t), and a lovely result (check) — a knitting experience just doesn’t excite me. I’m not sure why, but that was the case with these socks. My plan to execute them in the month of February was derailed by a serious case of disinterest (better than a serious case of dysentery… hee). Forgive me; having spent the week with a couple of medical students I was privy to some talk about moderately disgusting bodily functions!

Jaywalkers 5

Of course I couldn’t start another pair, because I have an in-my-head rule that I can only have three projects on the go at one time, one in each of the following categories:
– portable (usually socks)
– mindless (when I’m likely to be distracted – sadly, this is most of the time)
– Herculean (something that makes my heart sing, is challenging, and requires full concentration…which usually means this one is slow-going)

I must say, however, that the Harmony double-pointed needles were absolutely wonderful; and are now by far my favourite sock needles. They’re sleek, nimble, sharp, smooth, and even pretty. This is my version of sports car love.

Since it was Easter weekend, I thought you would appreciate some themed content. Observe young Elliot’s reaction to the Easter Bunny we spotted in the wild:

Elliott reacts to the nice bunny...!

It’s much better when they’re small enough to hold by the ear.

Elliott & his bunny

I haven’t finished my Jaywalker socks (one done, one still a glint in its mother’s eye), and I have another secret project on the go that can’t be revealed until it is on its way to its new owner, so I thought I would share an “old” project:

Lantern Moons + Zara = DNA

Pattern: DNA Scarf by June Oshiro
Yarn: Zara by Filatura di Crosa
Needles: Lantern Moon 3.5 mm

This pattern was the perfect choice for a scarf for my daughter, who was studying and working in the field of genetics when I made it.

Unfortunately, my choice of yarns was not very good. Zara is a lovely yarn, but does not have enough body to hold up well in this type of scarf, so it curls when worn. But it is beautiful to look at.

DNA Scarf 2 2007

I’ve decided that I will make Jess another DNA scarf out of a sturdier yarn that will hold its shape. Now I have to get the old one back to recycle that beautiful Zara.

Wait… would it be bad Karma to destroy DNA? Even if I’m going to recreate it?

Hmmm….

Baby Elliott, of course!

Blankie 3

The infamous (because the yarn drove me crazy) baby blankie to match Elliott’s cute hooded sweater was finally completed and sent to Ontario to be cuddled by my adorable nephew.

Someone here wanted me to keep it.

Miette with Elliott's blankie

*

Before you read this next bit, I swear that I have never done a chain letter or forwarded one of those “delete this at your peril” emails, even if they would cure some ailing nun. Just sayin’.

Jennifer sent this to me:

http://loopyknitter.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/youmakemyday.jpg

Aw-w-w. That made me feel good. Especially because her blog makes my day!

She also tagged me for the for the 7 Random Things meme.

“Here are the rules, and they must be posted to your blog. Link to the person’s blog who tagged you. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog and also so they can look at your blog and not tag the same people all over again!”

Here are my random things, in random order:

1. I once rode a horse on a beach on South Padre Island in Texas.
2. I know how to catch frogs. And keep them alive.
3. I climbed Mt. Katahdin in Maine, and crossed between the peaks on Knife’s Edge.
4. I won’t do that again.
5. I can remember the scientific names for plants and bones, but not the names of people I met five minutes ago.
6. Most of the time, my hair is wet underneath. Including on my wedding day.
7. Drumroll… I accidentally stabbed the Minister of Justice all the way through his hand with a knitting needle. True story. And he didn’t swear.

Now, I need to pass on the award and the meme, and since many people have already received these, I’m just going to choose a few people who have blogs that meant a great deal to me for some random reason, and have therefore made my day!

1. Skrilla Knits – because she works at WEBS , and mentions WEBS, and I love WEBS. So it makes me happy.
2. String or Nothing – because a long time ago, she mentioned that her family was playing Killer Bunnies , and it intrigued me enough that I bought the game. It rekindled a family love for board games, and we’ve had many happy hours of playing Killer Bunnies since, and have expanded to other games.
3. Angry Chicken – because she makes everything look so beautiful that I want to live in the Angry Chicken house.
4. Fat Free Vegan – because she has been a lifesaver for a family that includes a vegan, a non-dairy person, and a vegetarian. And I bet she knits.
5. Adam Knits! – just because I love his energy & awesome photos.

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