Saturday, 25 June 2016


This is going to be a short post.  I am heading to Niagara tomorrow to do a few things for my mother.

This week has seen a couple more items go into the finished projects drawer.  The Christmas stocking:

For weeks now I have had a Panda Hat as my choice for the Character Hat category.  I wanted a quick and easy project.  Instead I flipped the pattern over and knit the owl hat.  I really can't explain why.  Maybe it is just too adorable for words.

The pattern is  James C. Brett JB237 Hats and Fingerless Gloves.  Both the Owl and Panda are included.  I used yarn from my stash.  This yarn is long discontinued and I fell in love with this lovely soft superwash merino the first time I knit with it.  Both Patons and Berella brands carried it.  Patons was called Country Garden and Berella was the Claire Murray Collection.  When I learned it was discontinued I bought every ball I could find.  I have a lot in my stash.  I have been using it and the amount has shrunk somewhat over the years but there are still sweater quantities of some colours.

The button eyes are out of my button tin.  I think they are perfect owl eyes.

The girl's sweater project has stalled.  I am at the point where I need to sit quietly at home and knit with the chart in front of me.  The next section is intarsia so I am trying to manage lots of yarn balls as well.  I have started the back but keep doing other projects that I can carry around and work on.

The pattern is the Snowflake Sweater - a kit from Mary Maxim.  I picked it up on Hubby's and my weekend in Paris.

I also started the Women's Vest project.  This one will be for me.

The pattern is the Button Box Vest from the 2013 Spring and Summer issue of Knitty.  My vest will have some modifications from the pattern.  I have lengthened the vest and eliminated the pockets.  I am putting the bobbles up the front only.  I will be reshaping the underarms to give the "girls" a little more coverage.   I also plan to eliminate the collar.  I am making all these alterations because this is the second time I am knitting this pattern.  While I really like the original vest I knit I think the changes will make this different enough from the first one and will fit nicely into my wardrobe.  In wearing the original, I don't use the pockets and I always seem to be tugging the vest down to make it longer.

The yarn is Cascade 220 Heathers in the colourway Ireland.  I bought it in 2013 at Mary Maxim.  I loved the colour.  Actually I loved it so much I bought more the next time I saw it.  If you remember, the Man's Vest made in the fall is the same yarn and colourway.

I have also picked out the next two project patterns and yarn.  They are sitting across the table from me taunting me to get started on them.  All in good time my pretties, all in good time.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Some Progress

The first thing I do when I am preparing for a new post to this blog is to update my excel spreadsheet for the progress made on the entries.  Most of the time there is very little to change on the worksheet and I feel let down.  I just love colouring the spaces in green to mark my progress.  Today I was tickled green as I updated the spreadsheet.  There was  lots to colour in and percentages to change.  To me this was even more amazing since I had very little knitting time these past two weeks.

Last weekend was spent dealing with family stuff.  I went to see my mother and help my brother with chores that needed to be done before my mother's house is put up for sale.  Again I came home with a car full of stuff.

I have been having bouts of diverticulitis and suffering a great deal of pain.  This week was so bad I could not go to work.  I couldn't knit either.  I ended up in emerg at the Leamington hospital which greatly sped up the time it took to get a cat-scan.  While waiting for the scan, I started a new project.  I should have realized that I was in no shape to knit on anyhing.  I failed to fully read the pattern and started the cuff of a Christmas stocking in the round.  It worked fine until I got to where there were short-rows and the colour blue added.  If I was feeling better, I might have been able to figure out how to do this in the round and have it all work out but my brain was not functioning well and I came home and ripped it all out.  I started over, this time following the pattern.  It worked just fine going back and forth.  The main sock part is knit in the round and knits up quickly.  There was only a short seam on the cuff to do.

The knitting is almost all done on this stocking.  Just the loop for hanging to add.  I am now at the fussy bits - adding the snowmen and doing the embroidery.

Here is an almost completed Christmas stocking.

The white yarn is Galway 100% wool.  I bought it at the Little Red Mitten before they stopped carrying this brand.  The blue is Paton's Classic Wool picked up at the 2014 Listowel Tent Sale.  It is in a discontinued colourway.  The red for the scarf is a bit of left over wool from my Gansey knit earlier for the Fair.  The black for the hat is just some leftover yarn from my stash.  The orange for the nose is some yarn I dyed with flowers from my garden and is left over from some project knit last year.  The stocking pattern is Winter Wonderland from a Leisure Arts book - The Stockings Were Knit.  I picked up the book in the fall on a trip to the Mary Maxim store in London (Ontario).

On one of my pain days, I was unable to sit for any length of time.  So I puttered about the house to cope.  I had a bit of a blocking party.

The dresser in the background above is one I brought home from my mother's house.  The drawers are large and deep.  I had a smaller dresser in this spot for storing my knitted items in.  This one holds so much more.  The other one was full and most of my entries were being stored in a plastic tub elsewhere.  Now all my entries are in this dresser with room for still more.  This dresser was originally a gift to my father from his mother.  The gift was made in June of 1969.  I know because it is written on the back.  I feel my Babcia would be pleased to know that I have this dresser and that it is being stuffed with hand crafts.  Her crocheted doilies and embroidered dresser scarves are in the top drawer.

On Friday, I was home and not feeling up to doing much.  My pain levels are back to the normal aches and pains of a woman my age but I am still tired.  I had a finishing up day.  Four more items to go into the dresser drawers.

The button on the above hat came from my button collection.

The tea cozy doesn't quite fit any of my teapots.  I blocked the cozy using my basic round flat-topped teapot. I thought the camel pot would be a better fit but no it isn't.  A few years ago I had a party and put out tea in several teapots.  Everyone wanted to drink the tea from the camel pot.  I had to refill it several times while the other pots went untouched.  Same tea in each but the camel was the most popular.  I think I will have to make a trip to the Blimey store in Harrow soon to get a small brown betty pot for this cozy.

The Luella shawl still needs to be blocked.  The cushion requires a trip to Fabricland in Windsor to get a grey zipper and a cushion form before I can finish it.  The child's sweater is still on the needles. The Christmas stocking needs some final touches to be finished.  It is time to cast on something else.

I now have 24 complete items.  This is more than I have ever entered in the Harrow Fair before so that is an accomplishment in its own right.  2 projects are almost done.  1 is in progress.  3 are chosen but not yet started and 12 are untouched.  My gut tells me I won't finish 42 items in time but I am going to bravely carry on.  It ain't over until Wednesday August 31 when the entries have to be delivered to the Harrow Fair.

Just a reminder that the Fair starts Thursday September 1 and ends on Sunday September 4 at 5:pm.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

A Tale of Two Cacti

One of the items I brought home from my mother's house is a very unusual family heirloom.  It is a Christmas cactus that we can trace to my great grandmother.  Her name was the same as mine - Mary Jane.  She went by Jane.  She passed away in 1938.  My mother inherited the plant when Jane's youngest daughter, Hazel passed away in 1977.  It did not like the spot in my mother's house where it lived.  It was yellowing and rather sad looking.  I used all my strength to lift the large clay pot it was in and put it in the passenger seat of my car.  Over the course of the trip home in the full sun in the car the plant turned a dark green again.

As soon as I could buy some new potting soil, I repotted the plant.  Here is the old one.

Over the years it had cracked.  The salts in the soil crusted over the top and were eating away at the pot.  I bought a new clay pot and here is Jane's cactus in its new home.

I like having the plant.  It feels like a living connection to a fellow knitter even though we never met.  The only memory my mother has of her grandmother is Jane's funeral.  Jane was a knitter.  I learned this when I found a copy of her obituary.  According to the newspaper, many residents of the area where she lived were the beneficiary of her knitting largesse.

 I already had my own Christmas Cactus.  It gives me a connection to my own past.  I bought a home in 1988 when I was single and starting a new job in a new city.  TD Bank held the mortgage and they sent me a collection of plants in a single pot as a thank you for signing with the Bank.  The plants soon outgrew the single pot so I separated them.  There were five.  I still have 3 of them.  One sadly had to go to make room for the new cactus.  One of the original 5 was also a Christmas Cactus.  I always thought it was doing well in my house.  It grew and bloomed each year.  It stayed a nice green.  I thought it was happy.  I don't know if plants experience jealousy but as soon as Jane's cactus arrived, mine started to drop leaves.  Not one  leaf here or there but whole branches.  It is still drooping and I am worried about it.

Here is mine.

It looks fine in the photo but it is about 2/3 the size it was two weeks ago.  I am still afraid the branch on the left may go next.

The long weekend was taken up by a yard sale at my mother's.

Here is what I learned at the yard sale:

  1. People will buy the strangest things.   My brother and I argued about this one.  I toured the near empty back garage with him to see what else we could put out for sale.  There were two pike poles.  Just the poles.  The pike ends were missing.  My brother said they were useless -  poles without pikes.  I insisted that we should put them out anyway.  Within 5 minutes they were gone.  A lady thought they would be perfect for attaching to bird houses.  The tire chains for a long gone tractor soon followed - chain is chain.  An old rope sold and a coil of old wire soon went too.
  2. It is a great way to meet the neighbours.  Over the course of the sale just about all the neighbours stopped by.  Sad to meet them now that my mother is moving.
  3. Most people don't know where they are.  My mother lived on Four Mile Creek Road.  If you are driving on Four Mile Creek Road, why would you think that the body of water you are driving along is called anything other than Four Mile Creek?  I was asked numerous times what that body of water was called behind the house.
  4. Sometimes a $1.00 can bring happiness.  Our happiest customer was a little girl of about 4 years of age.  She bought a box of barbie dolls with a few hand made clothes then proceeded to sit on the grass happily playing with the dolls while her father examined the rest of the items on sale.  Once he was done and she packed up the dolls, she insisted on telling all the other people at the sale about her purchase.
  5. Stop accumulating Stuff. Possessions can become shackles.  Our memories are in our heads.  They should not be imbued in our things.  Stuff simply becomes a burden for someone to deal with later. (I get the irony here from my earlier comments and the ones that follow)
Following the sale, Hubby and I filled each of our cars with things from my mother's house.  Monday night we started purging our our house of stuff to make room for the stuff from my Mother's house.  We have made some progress.  There are boxes in the garage for shredding.  We took boxes of books to a used book store and sold them.  Each week I have an extra garbage bag out on the curb with things I realize I don't need or want.

I think I like the stuff I knit because if you use it then it will wear out and there should be no guilt when it is tossed.  There is irony here too.  I took two sweaters from my mother that my Aunt Irene knit.  They are now stored next to the sweater she knit for me.  Now there are three sweaters in the spare closet I can't wear.

There has been some progress on the knitting front.  I finished the cushion entry.  Finished is not quite the right word.  It still needs to be blocked, assembled and stuffed.

The pattern called for the back to be plain stockinette.  I had enough yarn so I made the back and front patterned.  That way it should wear better in use as it will be fully reversible.

The pattern is the Interlaced Cable Cushion from Hayfield's Bonus Aran Tweed #9804.  The yarn is Briggs and Little Heritage 100% wool in colourway Sheeps Grey.  Both pattern and yarn were picked up at the Little Red Mitten in St Thomas on my last visit there.

I have started the Tea Cosy.

The pattern is Sheep Carousel by Kate Davies.  I love Kate's description of it as a Jolly Tea Pot Cosy.  It starts with a provisional cast on with waste yarn, hence the orange yarn at the bottom.  I am at the second Vikkel Braid and then there is just the top shaping left to knit.  Of course it will have to be blocked, the steeks for the spout and handle cut and finished but it is almost done.  Right?

The yarn I am using is Harrisville Shetland in colourways Toffee and White.  Toffee was as close as I could come to the moorit colourway called for in her pattern.  Again, the yarn was purchased at Little Red Mitten.

I should be able to start the blocking process.  I like to block items on the double bed in the spare room.  It has been out of commission for a while as it was covered in things from my mother.  I have cleared the bed now and it is available for use again.

I decided to check my progress towards my goal of 42 items.  I ended up depressed instead.

I have:
  • 19 actual completed items.  They are now stored in a lovely tall boy dresser from my mother's house.  The dresser was a gift to my father from my grandmother June 2, 1969.  At least that is what it says on the back.
  • 5 items awaiting blocking and finishing.
  • 1 item on the needles in progress.
  • 4 projects chosen but not yet started.
  • 13 items where I I haven't a clue what pattern or yarn I will use.
There are 12 weeks and 3 days left to go.