Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Monday Questions, Tuesday Answers

KathyB has questions... here are my answers

*Ever had a fruit bearing bush or tree?
I had raspberries as a teen, and of course, have them now as at this place. I also have a blackberry vine. They are pretty easy to care for - but both need to be trimmed/thinned every year. If not they just take over!
*Would you rather do the HARD part of your knitting early in the project phase or late?
I generally like to get it out of the way first. Spicy Salsa has the lace part first, and it was quite nice to get it done and then just fly through the stockknit (yep... it's done, more on that tomorrow)
*Is there something your parents let you “quit” as a child?  How did that work out for you?
My parents had a very hard time making me stick with ANYTHING. I sometimes think I give up too easy – but it really depends on how bad I want it. If I really want it – NOTHING will stop me. 

*Have you ever square danced?
Only goofing around in my living room…
*Do you have something that only needs buttons to call it finished?
Not really.. unless you count the pair of shirts I have sitting in my sewing room – Dave asked me to resew some buttons on them… but that was a few years ago now…

*Woody Allen.  yes or no?
Not a fan… I find his movies REALLY dull. 
*Adorable Beret in OK yarn shop.  I think I’ll try to find the pattern.  Do you prefer a beret, a slouch hat, a stocking cap or a roll brim?   
I am totally a beret girl (though admittedly, I like all of them!)
Pattern is Twyla
*Do you follow the stars in the sky seasonally?
I used to but not any more. Orion and the Dippers are about all I can see from this place. Too much light pollution. 
*Breakfast wouldn’t be breakfast without:
Coke! I’m not a big breakfast person. I like bacon, I like honey sausages, I like pancakes, and oatmeal… but I usually just start my day with a Coca Cola. 

*It’s Al’s 29th Birthday.  What wisdom do you have for a woman in her final year of her 20s?
Your 30s are the new 20s… don't sweat it! (I’m 37 and I still feel 25 most days…)

Monday, February 27, 2017

The growing season

While the weekend wasn't exceptionally warm, I spent a little time out poking around the gardens some more.

Everything is looking really good and it looks like most of the new things planted last year made it through - though that's not surprising given how mild winter was.
The newest Columbine (dark red) gets a lot of sun so it's looking great.
I was so pleased to see that BOTH of my Royal Wedding Oriental poppies survived (and seem to have multiplied a bit.) They didn't bloom last year, but I'm really hoping they will this year.
My Morning Show Bearded Iris is coming back nicely as well. I had to move her mid-season, and I've lost a few plants doing that, so I was a little worried.
I'm still not sure if the Foxglove will make it, but the Bleeding Heart beside it is showing signs of life.
All of the roses are looking good, but I was especially pleased to see Crimson Glory with new shoots. If I lose a rose, it always seems to be after their first winter.
And I was thrilled to see buds on the Butterfly Bush (Miss Ruby). She had a tough year last year, and I wasn't sure she was going to survive. She's looking much better already than she did in spring last year.
And out front, the Jacob's Ladder is poking it's way out. This was a clearance plant I bought on a whim, and it's nice to see it back. It adds a nice pop of purple to the shady garden.

We're still a long way from blooms... but I love the growing season!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Challenge accepted!

On Thursday afternoon, I was working from home and I got a call from a long-time coworker. While we don't work in the same department, or on any of the same projects, we sit in adjoining cubicles and spend most of our lunches together.

But it looks like those lunches will be coming to an end. She's got a new opportunity and her last day will be March 9th. And while I'll miss her -it's a tremendous opportunity for her.

March 9th is fast approaching, but you know me - I wanted to give her a little knit something to remember me by. She's always loved my shawls, so I dug deep in the stash and came up with some Turquoise Alley Cat.
I dyed these up a few years back to go with a dress I had. I no longer have that dress, and turquoise just happens to be her favourite co
 She also loves bling, so I dug out some pretty foil-lined gold beads.
The pattern is Fiery Salsa... and not only does she love spicy food, she's a salsa dancer too. This couldn't be more perfect for her if I tried.

But I've got to get moving.... I've got about nine days to get this beauty on the blocking board....

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Spring in my step

Wednesday's commute saw me finish the foot on the first Appleby sock (well the commute saw me to the toe, but since I was so close to finishing, I worked on it after dinner too)
I modeled it the next day, and as you can see, the weather was warm enough for me to be barefoot (18C/64F). What is going on? It's still February! Of course the cold weather is coming back - tomorrow isn't suppose to get higher than 3C/37F.

But back to that sock....
It's a simple pattern of eyelet and rib columns - nice and easy to memorize with the perfect amount of stretch  good fit. If I'm honest, I think it would look better in a darker colour (and maybe not one so close to my own pasty skin tone!), but I'm trying to knit from the stash, so it will do.
It does look nice with a pretty white ballet flat! The next one will be started on Monday's commute so I'm well on my way through the first pair of the collection.

And if you'd like to put a little Spring in your step...
Clockwise from top: Fruit Smooth, Skipping Stones, Spriggand, & Daybreak
Those pretty Twisted Top Cats I just dyed up are now available in the shop! There's only two of each, so don't wait too long!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Felines

After showing off the curtains yesterday, I contemplated something new for the back door too. Like the old dining room curtains the back door curtains followed us from the old house. But they were in the bedroom so not only were they in better shape, but they are actually a colour I can live with - a nice sage green (that still works with  the downstairs decor too).

Still... they've seen better days and could do with replacing...

Of course...
Part of the reason they've seen better days is that someone things they are his own personal play house and birdwatching fort.
I've watched him literally pull them over to his mat so he can wrap himself in them
And don't even think about disturbing him...
unless it's for a good scritching...

So yeah... I think new curtains can wait a few years...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

By the yard

I mentioned that on the weekend, I went for a walk to pick up some supplies for a project I've wanted to tackle for a while.

When Dave and I started dating, he gave me a 40 gallon fish tank and stand. Since then, I've kept it full of fishies, and it's followed us from home to home. When we moved here, he put a shelf in the bottom so I could store my various fish-keeping equipment, as well as some house plant accessories. Over time, it accumulated more and more until it looked like this.
And, of course, the fish tank is in the dining room (and the lower level is open concept) all this mess was visible to anyone who wandered in. I've long wanted to sew some kind of skirt that would cover it all, but still allow us access when we needed it.

I had a plan, I even had some fabric in my stash that would work. All I needed was some sticky velcro tape. So off to Lens Mills I went. While walking, I decided even though I already had fabric, it might be fun to use some fish-themed fabric. I only needed two metres, so it wouldn't be too expensive. i decided to see what they had and then decide.

They had some very nice ocean reef fabric... but my fish are fresh water, so that just didn't seem right. They only other thing they had was hunter/angler themed, definitely not what I was looking for. No biggie, I had fabric already.

But... then I made the mistake of wandering past the clearance table...
This beautiful patchwork of pre-sewn tapestry fabrics was on sale for $6.99/metre... with an additional 25% off for their Valentine's sale. The colours nicely complemented the colour-scheme I'm slowly changing the lower level over to (a mix of beige, cream, green, pink and gold). And while I was standing, waiting to get it cut... I started thinking about how the dining room could use some new curtains....

So I got six yards!

On Monday, I set to work and in no time, the front panel for the tank was done
 So much better! And we have easy access whenever we need it - just pull back a corner
And velcro it back up when you're done! The sides got individual inset panels too.
Also velcroed for easy removal.

And as for those curtains... the old curtains followed us here from the old townhouse. They were sheer aqua coloured panels I got super cheap. Aqua is not one of my favourite colours, but I got them because they were super cheap, and matched the ugly aqua couch our old neighbours gave us (again, I don't like aqua, but when you have no couch at all...)

By the time they'd made it  to this place, the couch was long gone and the curtains were faded, full of cat holes and well past their prime. But.. we needed something on the window, so they got put up there and I just tried not to look at them.

But an hour of sewing and now....
Soooooooooooooo much better. It's hard to believe curtains could make a person so happy. But they go so nicely with grandma's pine table.  And when the sun shines through them, they light the room with a warm, pink glow.
A little bit of rough twine made a nice, simple, rustic tie back, too.

And... I still have about 2.5 metres left! So maybe I'll whip up a couple pillows one of these days.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

NQFO: Queen Mab

Not Quite Finished Object

Even though it's not quite finished (awaiting arrival of the clasps I ordered for it), and I'll not be doing a proper photoshoot for a few weeks yet, I thought I'd share a few snaps of the blocked Queen Mab design
This used about 2.5 skeins of our Jungle Cat (Bamboo/Merino blend) in the Loch Ness Monster colourway.
As you can see, all those lacy leaves blocked out beautifully . Unlike the original Queen Mab, this version has 3/4 sleeves (the original is a vest). Both options will be included in the final pattern, and both are finished off with a nice bit of lace.
Now I just need some quiet time when Dave is out of the house, so I can commandeer the main computer and put the other sizes together. Then I'll search out a few test knitters.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jump start

While getting Stella ready to sell on Saturday, we discovered her battery had died over the cold winter (not surprising). So while it was charging, I enjoyed the warm sunshine and poked around my gardens.

I trimmed back some dead stuff, which I didn't get around to before the cold weather hit, and just generally inspected everything.

The up and down weather hasn't seemed to affect the few tender sprouts that started coming up early. They are still coming up and so are a few others.
I was pleased to see the new Black-Eyed Susans had survived, as the three year old plant I had previously died in explicably last winter.  I hope this one lasts longer.
I trimmed back the grassy Cupid's Dart and found signs of new life. This one did particulary well once I moved it to a spot where it could get some more sun.
A few years back, I tried Campanula in the tree garden out front, but it didn't do well. Last year I moved it to the Little Bee Garden. It did much better, but didn't bloom. But it's sprouting up a storm so maybe this year it will make a great comeback!
The Bee Balm is peeking out too. I wouldn't mind getting a few different colours of Bee Balm if I can swing it. It's a really great grower and a cool plant.

What's poking out in your garden?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Long weekend - no commute

It's a long weekend here in Canada (Family Day to day). And I have to say, it's been a splendiferous one! By Saturday at noon, the temperature had climbed to 13 degrees Celsius (55F), so I dragged Dave outside and together we got Stella all cleaned up and cleaned out and she's now on Kijiji so hopefully someone with more money and space than me will be interested in giving her a new lease on life.
While we were out there, I got a little early gardening done (more on that tomorrow).

Sunday was just as beautiful, so I went for a long walk (5km or 3mi) and got some stuff for a little sewing project (more on that later in the week)

Today... today I'm all about relaxing (mostly). But in the meantime, I thought I'd show you a little sock progress.
The first design is called Appleby and it's a simple lace/rib pattern that moves quite quickly. I won't be working on this again until Wednesday, but the train ride home should see me mostly through the foot.

And the ride is even nicer now that the days are a little longer. It's light enough that I can look out the window for the whole trip - and even snap a few pictures.
 Just a hint of a rainbow was showing last week (it was much brighter in real life). 
The back end of Hamilton Harbour was frozen over. I don't think it was very thick though, and there was lots of open water in the harbour proper. Of course, with the warm weather, even that ice is gone now.

These pictures were snapped quickly with my cell phone. I'm going to start taking my SLR along with me to see if I can get some better ones. There are lots of interesting sights along the tracks, and I think it would be cool to include some in the finished e-book.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Stitch by stitch

The Empire Line Cardigan is growing...
..but slowly. I try to put at least four rows on it every night, but that means there at least one row with cables, and it really slows the progress down. Of course, the back is the biggest piece, so hopefully once it's done, it will feel like the fronts and sleeves just fly!
The colour in the first picture is truer, but this one gives you a better view of the pattern. It will look even better when all that lace opens up after blocking.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sweet treat

Valentines Day was extended for me...
On February 15th,  I came home to find a little package from Araignee in my mailbox! One of her wonderful handmade cards, little lotion hearts and a bar of Dragon Moon soap. Not only is the soap super pretty, it smells amazing. It's hard to  describe - definitely floral, but earthy at the same time.

And I'll let you knitters in on a secret. I always keep one bar of her awesome soap in our powder room (our guests love it and comment all the time). Incidentally, it's also where I soak my knits for blocking. And since her soaps smell so good, and are so full of nice conditioning oils, I've started using them instead of Soak or Eucalan. I just lather the bar up in my hands under the running water while I'm filling the sink and get a good bit of bubble going. It's perfect for blocking and makes my knits smell AMAZING! Thank you Araignee!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Felines

The lovely Maine Coone Ollie has made himself a pretty regular visitor around here. I've stopped feeding him, so he doesn't come every day, but he generally pops by once a week to check in on us.

On one of the relatively warmer days,  I was puttering about in the backyard when I was startled by a noise at the fence. But it was just Ollie popping under to say "hi".
 He followed me around the yard while I checked on the gardens
Keeping an eye out for Buddy, the neighbour's Yellow Lab.
We also played a game of "Chase the garden stake"
Just look at the size of paws! They leave beautiful prints in the snow.
 And after a fun little play session... I gave him what he really wanted...

A couple sprigs of the fresh catnip I have growing in the house.
He's such a handsome visitor.