Monday, November 30, 2015

FO: Fornicating deer hat

Since Dave was gone most of the weekend, I had a lot of time on my own to sit and ponder the state of the world. Or at least, the state of my knitting...

Some of you will remember, way back at the start of the year, I had grand plans to make my Dad an afghan for his new family room. An afghan full of many colourwork squares... each one a different animal.

I even got one square done - the bear. And eventually, I started on another - the beaver. And then...
a) I realized I just didn't have enough time to get it done for Christmas (my fault, I was procrastinating).
b) I was procrastinating because I just didn't enjoy it. Colourwork is not my favourite. I'm learning to like it more, but really only if I can do it in the round.

If I was smart, when I started to the project, I would have added a section to the chart so I could knit it in the round and then steek it. Or at least, created a back panel so I could knit it in the round. (This would have made the blanket extra cozy, but also eaten a lot of yarn.)

So... on the weekend I made the decision to bite the bullet... and give up.

I frogged the beaver square (which was only about 1/3 done) and am working on plans to turn the bear square into a pillow for his family room. The pillow will be lovely, but just didn't seem like enough of a Christmas present... so I grabbed the frogged yarn from the beaver square, and cast on for a hat.
But not just any hat... a hat that is so perfect for my Dad, it's scary.....
Yup.... those deer are doing exactly what you think they are doing.

The pattern is the Fornicating Deer chart. Since the yarn was sport weight, I was able to do exactly as the chart designer suggested and use We Call Them Pirates as the pattern and sub out the chart. Though really, I only used the cast on number from the the pirates hat. I did 2.5 inches of ribbing, 2.75 inches of stockknit and then started the chart. I ended it after the deer were finished and started the decreasing ( I used the decrease numbers from the pirates hat again).

I really think this one wants for a pompom, but I don't think my Dad is much of a pompom guy. I'll run it by Mom and see what she thinks.

The yarn I used was Regia Silk 6ply (Green) and our undyed Stray Cat. They match perfectly in weight. I'd originally purchased the Regia eons ago, with the intention of making myself a sweater. I am very happy to say, I still have 12 balls left, more than enough to make myself something... because I absolutely love how it knit up at this gauge.

I've just got to get Sandpoint and Dave's Mom's socks out of the way, and then the Christmas knitting is done. Then I can focus on knitting for me again!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

FO: Beret Genereux

I was hoping to enlist Dave behind the camera to get some FO shots of his Grandma's beret. But yesterday he ended up working and today he's run off to band practice. He won't be back until it's dark. I was really grumpy until I remembered good ol' Roxy tucked away in the studio.
Her head is a touch on the small side (I bought her to model jewelry years ago) but she'll do. Now, back to the hat. This was a pretty simple knit, as far as colourwork goes. Just two yarns but the gradient stripe of the Mochi Plus adds in colour changes that makes it look more complicated.
It's a worsted weight beret, so all the stranding, plus the poofiness of the Mochi Plus make it nice and thick and cozy.
Only a couple wee mods on this one. After finishing the hearts at the centre, I didn't bother with the last few stitches of colourwork. With the decreasing, they seem to get a bit lost, so I just knit it plain. The other was the ribbing around the brim. I didn't bother purling the dark brown stitches... all that moving the yarn from front to back was a total pain.The tension of the colourwork pulled it in enough to make a snug brim anyway.
All in all, I'm very pleased with this one. Makes me want to knit more hats!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I want to break free.

Or at least my Nasturtium seems to... I really wasn't sure what it would do when I brought it inside for the winter. It is an annual, so I figured it would probably just die off...
...not exactly.  Who knew Nasturiums were a vine?  While the base has gotten quite leggy...
... the rest of the plant has spilled over the side, becoming a tangle of new leaves and stems, all reaching for the sun.
There's no sign of any new flowers... but I'm done trying to predict what this thing is going to do. I think I'm going to have to put it in a hanging pot soon... or I'm going to have a Nasturtium carpet!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Well.. that was quick....

...not that I'm complaining. With Christmas exactly one month away, it's good to have another present done and blocking. (FO pics will follow when it's dry.)
This one was quite a fun knit (part of the reason it was finished so quickly. I don't mind colourwork much when it's only two yarns and in the round. The gradient striping nature of the Mochi Plus make it fun - even if it's just grey and brown. (Don't get me wrong... I do like the colours... it's just ALL my knitting is grey and brown right now).
The Mochi Plus is a barely-spun single ply yarn, so it fuzzes up quite nicely, creating a lovely halo. Though I don't recommend it for anything that will get rough wear (like mitts or socks), I still have one ball left, so I'm going to have to find a use for it at some point. I'll have to think on that one.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mixing things up

To reward myself for completing the first, boring sleeve on Sandpoint, I cast on for something smaller and a little more exciting.

This is Beret Genereux  and it will be Dave's grandma's Christmas present this year. I'm knitting it up in some Mochi Plus and Merino 5. I would have picked more exciting colours, but Dave wanted greys and browns. Thank goodness I have a pair of red socks on the go too - or everything would be dull and muddy right now.

Monday, November 23, 2015


It took all I had, but over the weekend, I managed to stay focused and as a result...
The first sleeve of Sandpoint is done and blocked! (And man arms are sooooooooo long!!!)
It's got a nice little ribbed detail that runs the length of the sleeve, but it's still mostly stockknit. I just have to get through one more... I think I can, I think I can...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Let it snow...

Yep.. we've had a record breaking (warm) November, but this weekend the temps finally dipped and we got SNOW!!!
It wasn't a lot (and it's already melted) but it was pretty while it lasted. Someone else wasn't as excited as I was.
 He doesn't mind the cold, but the snow it another matter. It makes his paws wet. He HATES it when his paws get wet.

So instead of playing outside for long, we curled up inside under the warm blankets and got down to business.
As a result, the mermaid bag got done (as well as a fair bit of other knitting). It's blocking now and I have to carve out some time to write the pattern up and get it off to Samantha for testing.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday felines

Yup... it's one of those kinds of days.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

One fin, two fin, red fin, blue fin...

Okay.. really only one of those statements is correct... one fin done!

It took almost the whole evening, but I finally managed to get a decent-looking fin on the mer-bag.

It's not quite how I'd first imagined it in my mind, but it works. And it will look even nicer once the other ones is on and everything is blocked out.

I should be able to finish up the other fin tonight, get all then ends tied in and get it on the blocking board. Being that it's chunky, and double thickness, it's going to take a little longer than normal to block, but you should see a finished product by the weekend.

And come the weekend, I've really  got to get a move on that darn sweater.. it's only five more weekends until Christmas... and I'm probably seeing the recipient before Christmas, so I really only have four weekends. Gah! Good thing I'm already on the sleeves!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Red Hot

I'm very happy to report that I have one ankle sock done and off the needles. I'd be much more proud of this, except for the fact that they are only size 6 anklets....and I cast on at the beginning of the month.  Oh well, as long as I get the second one done before the end of the month, I won't complain.

One of the (many) reason's knitting has been slower than usual is my nails. I had them done for our ceremony, but didn't have the money for the upkeep (They are acrylic... I am a terrible nail biter). But they started getting too long, making knitting slower, if not down right difficult.

But today, I'd had enough. I was starting to have trouble typing ,and since 50% of my job is typing, I popped out on my lunch and had them seen too.
A fill, a good trim and a nice new polish and we are back on track! (I think I might even have the mermaid fins worked out!)
Rocky says "I'm ready for my manicure now!"

Monday, November 16, 2015

In the bag

Despite my puppy-sitting adventure, I still had lots of time to make good progress on the mermaid blanket-bag.

As you can see, I've finished the "body" of the bag, all that's left is the fins.

I have an idea in my head of how I want them to look, but unfortunately, it's not translating to the knitting.

I've knit and ripped them out twice already. Such is the fun of designing....

I think I'm going to have to sleep on this one for a night or two. In the mean time, I really better see to that sweater.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


I was planning on a quiet, lazy weekend at home this weekend, but Friday night Dad called.

He and Mom were had to head out on an unexpected road trip in the morning, and because they were traveling with others, there was no room for Ladydog. He asked if I wouldn't mind coming up and spending a couple hours with her on Saturday afternoon.... just so she wouldn't get too lonely
 Could you say no to that face? I know I couldn't. There was also this face....
 ...and this one too...
...and since I was going to up there for a while, I figured I might as well dye some yarn, in between petting sessions.
I dyed a large batch of Jungle Cat... but all of those lovely reddish-brown ones are for me. These ones are for you
As are these Continental Cats..
 They won't be in the shop for a week or so,... but don't worry... Mom's just updated the shop with some other new beauties....
including these four-stripe self-stripers. I don't think they are going to last very long.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Christmas Cactus

As mentioned the other day, a Christmas Cactus was on my to-acquire list. For some reason, I have not seen them for sale any where in the last few years.

And last weekend, I was up at Mom's and hers (which she's had for a long time) were just covered in blooms - one plant red, and one plant pink. I was so jealous!

But then on the way home, I stopped by a Super store near her place, and look what I found!
A huge 8" pot with a mix of white and pink flowers
Just look at those blooms.
It's actually six separate plants, so I'm thinking I might break it up once it stops blooming. I'm very optimistic about this plant... I've heard stories of them living for generations (I believe Samantha has a piece of one that belonged to her grandmother).. and Mom's told me the secret to get them to bloom year after year...

She puts her oustide (not in direct sun) for the summer. As soon as the weather turns cold, she brings it inside and it immediately starts to bud.

I've even had outside confirmation for this. As I was standing in line, waiting to pay for it, another shopper came up to check it out. I told her about Mom's and how I had to have my own because hers was covered in flower and she said, "Does she put it outside for the summer?"

I nodded and said, "and brings it in as soon as it gets cold..."

And she finished with.. "and then it blooms." And she thanked me and headed off to get one of her own.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday felines

 Smartphones... not just for humans any more
Friskies Cat Fishing app... Rocky's high score is 200!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I have a couple large projects I should be working on....

... but I don't want to. So thank goodness for friends like Samantha, who provide distractions in the form of a new design commission.

She wanted to make one of those mermaid blanket/bags that have been flashing all over the internets, and while she can crochet way better than me, she's not fond of it. And none of the knit versions were tickling her fancy.

So we had a little chat and I've been put to work designing a pattern for her. And the best way to design is to knit one
I'm using the leftover Bernat Alpaca from Nora's Berton Bear and when finished it will likely be going to Nora as well... and being chunky, it shouldn't take too long... which is good, I really do need to get back to that damn sweater...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Today is a day of remembrance. I consider myself fortunate in the fact that I grew up surrounded not only by veterans, but also people who experienced the war in different way. People who could, and did, share their experiences, and not only helped shape my love of history, but made it real... more than just something in the pages of a book.

The closest link I have is my great-grandfather served on the HMCS Magnificent
HMCS Magnificent - "The Maggie"
and the HMCS Bonaventure
HMCS Bonaventure - "The Bonnie"
... and while he rarely spoke of the war, through him, we knew these two beautiful ships as great ladies -  the Maggie and the Bonnie. We also heard stories of the Navy ensuring their sailors were well-supplied with cigarettes (If I remember correctly, Players was the brand of choice.) something that seems so odd today.
My mother has a small vase which was hammered out from an expended artillery shell from one of the ships - a small trinket that carries so much history. I have my great grandmother's double strand of pearls...
Great grandmothers pearls
 ...which my great-grandfather brought back from England for her, as well as a cameo necklace and bracelet set in silver.. treasured pieces that have so much more meaning because of their provenance.

His daughter, my grandmother, has recounted her story of the Bedford Magazine explosion in Nova Scotia
She was only four years old at the time, but vividly recalls how the ground shook, and how all the children were led out to an open field and covered with blankets. She told the story, of a neighbour, who, thinking the explosions were over, went inside to make everyone tea. While inside, another one hit, shattering the glass doors of her cupboards and leaving her partially blind. And how another relative's house was shaken so hard, it cracked in half.

My favourite was the story of flour sack dresses
Flour sack prints
With money tight and everything rationed, flour companies started bagging their flour in fabric that could be re-used to make clothing. Imagine choosing your flour based on the prettiest print! (seriously, I love this idea and wish they'd bring it back)

My grandfather, several years older (though not old enough to enlist), tells stories of running to the beaches after a shipwreck to see what kind of cargo would wash up. Oranges were a favourite treasure, and the whole town would come out to scavange on low tide.

My own father is a bit of a history buff, so I was brought up on war movies and documentaries. From a young age, I could whistle (badly) the tune from the Bridge of the River Kwai, and hum the tune from The Great Escape. There's a  family "legend" of how my father never got to see all of Tora! Tora! Tora! because my Mom went labour every time it came on TV (it was really only twice...and my brother eventually bought him his own copy on VHS when we were older). My favourite movies were always the war-time capers (Kelly's Heroes for the win!)

He also shared a story he was told by one of his older hunting buddies ... a tale of living in Germany and having nothing to eat but the "roof-rabbits" they could catch (aka... cats!)

Dad was notorious for doodling tanks and artillery on the corner of his crossword puzzles, and as I got older an learned more, we'd talk about battle tactics, and the politics behind the conflicts. Among my friends, I'm one of the few that knows Franz Ferdinand is not just a band.

I have an ex-boyfriend who's grandfather was a German para-trooper. His grandfather was more than happy to tell me the story of how he was captured on his first mission, and ended up in a Canada in a POW camp where he learned to cook. When the war was over, he stayed in Canada, and made his living as a restaurateur. His story was not without sadness though... just before he was captured, his friend was killed by a sniper right in front of him.

Dave, raised mostly by his grandparents, was even more fortunate. His grandfather also served in the Royal Canadian Navy, and his grandmother, a Scot, was an auxiliary nurse. She grew up on the Clyde and her father, in addition to serving himself (he served on the HMS Hood, but well before it was sunk), worked in the shipyards. They met while he was stationed in Scotland, fell in love.. and the rest is history...
A sketch I did of their wedding photo

Dave's grandparents were more open with their stories, and as a result, Dave can recite battles, ships and generals by the hour. Through him, and the stories his grandfather shared, I've learned more in the 13 years we've been together thank I did in the 22 before we'd met. And not just stories about the war, but stories with more than one perspective.

I've had long conversations with his grandmother about her experiences. About the fear of bombing, and all the children that were sent far from their families to the country, from the larger cities. About the activities in the shipyards and the Clyde. About the dances and the revels that were held as a distraction from the horrors of war.

There's a plan for Dave and I to head to Ottawa and see if we can dig up his grandfather's service record.

I'm also fortunate in the fact that I was able to work as a community journalist for several years, always covering the Remembrance Day ceremonies. The year I worked in Port Colborne, it poured rain. While the town had put up tents for most of the spectators and dignitaries, it was my job to photograph it all... there was no staying under a tent for me and I was soak through and cold by the end of it.  Afterwards, when we were all at the legion, a local veteran brought me a cup of hot chocolate, and thanked me for "braving the rain". My response, without a second thought was: "Without your bravery, there wouldn't be a ceremony to cover, so it's you who should be thanked." We ended up talking for more than an hour that day.

Today, just before 11 am... there was a familiar rumble in the sky, and Dave and I both ran to the window to press our nose against it.
VRA, the Lancaster from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
flies over St. Catharines, ON 2015
Photo Credit:Scott Rosts - Niagara This Week

What seemed like almost touching distance, there was "Vera" the last remaining flying Lancaster bomber in Canada, followed closely by a Mitchell B-25. It didn't take long for them to pass out of sight, but we could hear them for a while after. We live just over 20km from the Warplane Heritage Museum, and Vera flies over almost every weekend if the weather is good. (A flight in Vera is on my bucket list.. I just need to scrape together several thousand dollars).

And while, as a child we were made to memorize In Flanders Fields, drew pictures of poppies, and were marched to the cenotaph for the Remembrance Day service (thank you to the legion ladies who always prepared a hot lunch for us chilly kids immediately following)....
Children gathered for Remembrance Day Ceremonies in St. Catherines, ON 2015
Photo Credit:Scott Rosts - Niagara This Week
I don't feel the school system taught much about the war (either the first of the second). We learned about pioneers and natives, even medieval history (which for most Canadians is only relevant through our immigrant ancestors), we went to Dundurn Castle and Whitehern, but I don't remember ever actually learning about either war. What I learned came from family and friends, and knowledge I sought on my own. Their stories, great and small, good and bad, funny and sad have shaped my understanding of the wars and the world around me.

It's up to us to ensure these stories are passed on.. to keep them human, to keep them real. So future generations can understand the true foe - the true cost of war.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

FO: Baby ruched

Only it's not so ruched.
As mentioned before, I started with the Baby Ruched pattern, but mostly just used it for measurements and numbers. Details are on my rav page.
I did the 18 month size and it took about a week of not-so-steady knitting. And other than yarn turning my hands green (Sanguine Gryphon's Eidos*), it was an enjoyable knit. I found some cute little wooden buttons in the stash to finish it off
And once I get the majority of the cat hair off it, I'll get it packed up and sent off to California. Well in time for the little one's first birthday.

*I was worried I'd have to rinse the yarn forever to get it to stop bleeding, but thankfully, a short soak and started to rinse clear. No chance for a green baby!