Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dollarama strikes again

I was on my way home the other day when I remembered that if I really wanted to get my seeds started in time to have decent size plants for the garden this summer, I really needed to get on it. I needed seed trays and soil, but there was a Wal-Mart right on my way home.

But wouldn't you know it, I was too busy daydreaming and drove right past it. By the time I realized, I was probably only a kilometre or so down the road, but those who know me well, know I hate to back track. When I'm pointed in a particular direction, it takes a lot to get me to turn the car around. A trip to Wal-Mart just wasn't going to cut it.

But the dollar store was still in my path. The last time I was there, their garden aisle was pretty well-stocked, so I figured it was worth a look.

Let's just say, I'm glad I missed Wal-Mart.
They had everything I needed (even the soil) at about half the price of Walmart.  I still need on more tray to plant my Fox Glove seeds, but everything else is planted and tucked up nicely on Grandma's table. Dave's not overly thrilled about that, but it's the only place they will get enough sun and are relatively safe from curious cat noses.

And while it's all bare soil, I expect to see green sprouts in just a few days... and come summer, maybe a little more of this

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WIP Wednesday

I don't have any real knitting progress to show you, so I thought I'd sit back and take stock of my WIPs. Surprisingly,  I don't have a lot on the go right now - just four projects, and two of those are pretty much in hibernation. I usually average around six active projects, and have been known to have as many as 10 or 12.

First up is the lace tunic.
Sadly, this isn't a whole lot further along than the last time I showed you. I've added a repeat here and there, but I'm still five repeats short of being able to turn and pick up for the body. I'm hoping to rectify that tonight.

The Johnny socks are in the exact same place where I left off last...
I've been taking them to work, so I can do some knitting over my lunch, but... Monday I forgot to bring them downstairs to the cafeteria with me, and yesterday  I had a working lunch. Hopefully today I can add a round or two - just so I feel like I'm accomplishing something.

The hibernation projects are:

The owl mitts
Sadly, blocking did not make these big enough. The are still a wee bit snug on my hands, and I have small hands. The person for whom they were intended has normal-sized hands. It's just going to work.  I will eventually cast on for the second and finish them up - but they will end up in the Christmas box for someone else, so there's no pressing need to work on them right now

Then there's the Maple Leaf shawl
I have not touched this one in months. Half of me wants to frog it. The pattern is mostly written instructions, which while well-written and not hard, drives me batty. I much prefer charts. Also, it's not going to be a big shawl. I have lots of little shawls, and they rarely get any wear. I really prefer big shawls. But then I go and look at the other finished objects... and it's just so cool! I think I'm going to have to let this one marinate for a bit more before making a final decision.

How are your WIPs looking?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Just give it time

Sunday afternoon turned out to be nice and sunny, so despite my proclamation of being nothing but lazy, I had to carve out some time to putter in the yard. I didn't do a tonne, but under the watchful eye of the Chief Yardwork Supervisor....
I cleaned out most of the dead stuff and did a little pruning. The roses all got a nice trim. I'm happy to say that all of them (even Navy Lady, who wasn't doing so well before winter) seem to be recovering from the cold quite nicely. Every single one of them is covered in little tiny leaf buds
Now that they've gotten a trim, and the worst of winter has passed, I expect to see these leaf up quickly. Same with the raspberries, though some of the smaller branches have already started
The bigger ones are covered in little buds, just like the roses.

Both the Delphiniums
...and Columbine...
...are coming along nicely. It doesn't look like the Foxglove will be coming back, but over the winter I did a little reading on them, and apparently they can be a little fussy, so I'm not totally surprised. I saved some seeds, so I'll try starting them again.

I am a little surprised about the Black-Eyed Susan. It's showing no signs of life, though the Daisies and Echinacea are both coming back. I'm trying not to lose too much hope though, because I thought the Peonies were toast too, but then I noticed...
Just a few tiny little sprouts, but that's how it starts! They were transplanted from my Dad's place last spring so it's hard to say if they will be up to blooming this year, but in time they will. In time, everything blooms.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Going round the gusset

I'm making decent progress on my Johnny-Jump-Up Undines.

Over the weekend I was able to finish the heel turn and I'm about halfway down the gusset now.

I find the foot always goes quicker than the leg for some reason, so I expect to be grafting the toe on these in the not-too-distant future. And I've promised myself that I won't wait forever to cast on for the second sock like I did with Sagittarius.

I'm actually itching to get this pair done, because there's another pair I want to get on the needles very soon. I just have to decide what I want to use for the main colour. And finish these ones up of course.

And don't forget. Today is the last day of our Easter Sale in the shop. Use the code EASTER15 and save 15% off your order.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hop on over

I hope you're all having a wonderful Easter. It's a quiet one for us - no outings planned. Yesterday I made a cheesecake and a lasagna big enough to feed us until Monday, so the rest of the weekend is about kicking around with the cats and not doing much of anything.
I finished up a new book, and managed to sneak a little knitting in here and there
I'm a little less than halfway through the bottom edge on the front of the lace tunic. It's only 25 stitches wide, so it feels like it should be growing a lot faster than it is. Alas it is not. But as I work away on it, I'm reminded how lucky we are to have found a supplier who has such amazing bases for us to work with.

I'm knitting this one in Twisted Slinky Cat. While it's only 20% silk (the other 80% is merino), it feels like a lot more. It's so soft and - well - slinky.  It takes the dye beautifully, has a wonderful sheen, fantastic drape (making it perfect for projects like this). It's an absolute pleasure to knit with.

There are a few skeins of it in the shop right now. (And I'm thinking I'll have to dye some more soon). As well as some other wonderful goodies
 So... if the Easter Bunny missed your house this year...
 Maybe it's time to hop on over to the shop
And get yourself your own sweet treat - and save 15% with the code EASTER15 - only until Monday

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Felines

 I've noticed a bit of a pattern with the kitties when they are in a deep sleep. Peno, most often likes to tuck herself up against one of her scratchers.
Tux tucks his face under his paw.
And Rocky... Rocky tucks himself under himself.
Who knew such a fat cat could be so flexible.

PS... Mom just put the shop on sale -March 25th through to Monday March 29th.
Use the coupon code Easter15 at the checkout for 15% off all yarns.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Monday Meme moves to Thurdsday

Participating in another meme from Kathy B

1. Last thing you finished:  Mirabel!
2. Favorite pattern to knit again and again:
I used to hate knitting patterns more than once, but I've been known to do it more often now. My main one is my Undine sock pattern.
It's one of those patterns  I have completely memorized, it knits up quick and it always plays well with the yarn, no matter how busy.

3. Do you prefer to drive or fly? This is tough - I haven't flown much, but I absolutely LOVE to fly - the actual plane ride, not all the waiting and airport crap. But I love cars too - as passenger or driver. I'd never fly somewhere I can drive in under a day though  - too much to see on the way!

4. Do you use a paper map or your phone's directions. Neither. I usually check my route online before I leave and commit it to memory. I have an infallible sense of direction, which drives Dave crazy (he can get lost in the mall). Dave has a GPS, but I don't trust her.
As an aside... I absolutely love maps - paper or computer. Sometimes when I'm bored, I'll pull up google maps, and follow the streets around Paris or London, or some remote island.

5. Would you rather a National park or an Amusement Park? National Park. I'm not much for rides - I don't like not being in control. But I love hiking and being in nature. And there's so much around here.
6. Do you like to go to the same place for vacation over and over or somewhere new? 
I love to go new places, but it's nice to be somewhere familiar too. Dave's family's cottage is only 1.5 hours away on Lake Erie. It's a lovely spot and a nice little getaway for a day or two.
7. Car knitting necessitates ingenuity sometimes. How ingenious have you had to be?  
I have knit socks with just three needles because I dropped one - one for the front of the sock, one for the back, and a needle to do the knitting. I don't recommend it.
8. Have you ever seen another knitting in the passenger seat knitting on the road?

Only when I'm the driver... and it's my Mom who's the passenger.
9. Do you collect anything on vacation?   I like to buy souvenir yarn if I can. In fact, I've been looking at the yarn I bought in Chicago, and thinking I really should use the rest of it up.
10.  Do you get homesick? 
Yes. It's my eternal struggle. I love to travel, but I miss home so much. I miss my cats, and I miss my bed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

FO: Mirabel

The Mirabel KAL wrapped up on Sunday, and I managed to finish her up with a few hours to spare. I wasn't able to get finished pictures until today though.
The techniques used in Mirabel are pretty basic, but the changing patterns, colours, directions and short rows keep it from being mundane - in both the knitting and finished project.
I used left over Top Cat (Magnolia and English Ivy) and Barn Cat (Tapestry) - three skeins that weren't dyed together, but were obviously meant to be.The colour combinations for this one are endless though.
The finished shawl is on the small side, but the crescent shape means it sits nicely on the shoulders. It's the perfect little neck warmer. As much as I like it, it's going in the gift box for an upcoming birthday.

And that's one less project weighing me down. Time to go wind another skein for the tunic...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring in my step

The weather the last few days has been quite chilly. The progress in the garden has stalled out, and I never got a chance to start my seeds while Dave was away. (I'll be doing it later this week though!). I needed something to keep me in a Spring state of mind. With the Sagittarius socks, finally off the needles, I decided to start a new travel project, and went up to the stash in search of the most spring-like skein of yarn I could find.
Yeah.. that's the ticket! Johnny-Jump-Up in Alley Cat. In fact, I think I'm going to have to get Mom to make some more of this... and maybe some of our other Spring colours.....

Monday, March 21, 2016

Artisans at work

As mentioned earlier, Mom let the girls loose in the studio last week.  It's something we've let them do on almost every visit, and they absolutely love it. Dyeing yarn is so much fun for kids, and after taking the proper precautions (old clothes, drop clothes, aprons and gloves) not a whole lot can go wrong.

And as I said - it's old hat for this pair
It's fun to see what they come up with though, because they are even more willing to experiment than Mom and I.
 This time around, they did up some Twinkle Cat
 ... and some Fat Cat....
They kept a couple skeins for themselves (apparently their Mom now has some slippers to make!), but the rest have gone up in the shop. Each one of these are one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-repeated colourways, so once they are gone, they are gone. Word has it, they also signed the labels of their masterpieces, so you knitters can purchase a true work of art!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Back to normal

Mom and I drove the monsters home yesterday. It's a six hour round trip, and since Mom was at the wheel, I took the opportunity to get a little work done on Mirabel. The KAL ends today, so I'm really hoping I can get her done in time.
I'm on the last section. It has a picot bind-off, and as pretty as it is, I just don't think I'm up to it. But I'll make the final decision when I get there. Hopefully some time tonight.

The trip to Owen Sound and back is always nice, though at this time, it can be a little bleak. No snow, but not much green either - most just brown. On the way back we took the opportunity to stop at one of our favourite fish n' chip shops
A little heritage trail runs behind the building, over an old train trestle...
and to and old mill and dam
 It was quite cold - too cold to venture that far, so I just took a few snaps before heading back to the car. How cold was it, you ask? While there was no snow on the ground, or ice in the river, it was cold enough to form these little dangley icicles on some dead brush that was piling up under the trestle bridge.

I've never seen ice like that and I would have loved to get closer and get a better shot... but I'm not that great a swimmer, and that water was running high, fast - and COLD!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Reptile Rendezvous

As mentioned, Mom had the monsters for March Break,  so Thursday I took a day off work and we all headed over to...
The Royal Botanical Gardens for Reptile Rendezvous where were got to see
... and more snakes
and turtles. Lots of turtles
Swimming turtles
Tiny turtles
and scary turtles!
Seriously scary turtles!
With a few Geckos...
... and chameleons thrown in for good measure.

There was also the very elusive and strange
Testudinidae Rowanicus (Rowan Land Tortoise).