Monday, May 25, 2015

Biscuit and the lonely socks

Once upon a time, there was a pair of unfinished socks not taken on holiday by their knitter.  They were lonely.

Until... along came a bunny.

This bunny looks a lot like another very handsome bunny you may recall, whose name is Toffee, and whose obsession is handknit socks that are invariably not for him, not that a bunny as wonderful as Toffee would harbour any sort of resentment about that.  At all.

This bunny is smaller than Toffee and still a baby.  Her name is Biscuit, and she came to live in the condo after moving day, and chose to make her home in the knitting chair offering companionship to anybody who might be knitting, or trying to use the awkwardly placed phone, or recharging in the sun patch after hours of complicated unpacking.

Biscuit listened to the lonely socks, who mostly just wanted somebody to talk to. 

She gave one a hug,

and offered to do some knitting on the other.

When that didn't work, she tried checking for tonsils.

Silly Biscuit.  Socks don't have tonsils!  They do have hairballs sometimes though, and you don't want to get in the way of those.   

la la la the end (before things get really messy)

by Toffee.

ps Mary will be back on Monday, probably without any handknit socks for me in her bag.  again.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The house where knits grow

Today I've got some 'before' and 'after' shots of the house for you - before packing, and after moving out.  Brace yourselves!

I took this picture of our fireplace mantel before I really got going on the living room.  It has had a lot of different looks over the years - for the first few years, the walls were bright yellow and framed a 1930s print of a hundred colourful umbrellas rushing into a single doorway with the sale shoppers who held them - but I have really enjoyed this one.

Those are white walls, not pink, but pink might be nice too...

At the bottom of this picture you can just make out a collage I made ten years ago... it covered a piece of plywood we screwed into the surround to block off the fireplace when we realized it was completely dysfunctional and very messy.  And thank goodness we did that, because about eight years ago, a family of raccoons climbed down from the chimney and made a home for themselves in the gap.  It was bad enough listening to them scratching on the plywood at night before we got help to get them out and block their re-entry - can you imagine waking up to a raccoon in your bed?

Here's a closeup of the collage.  You can see where I gave up, when I thought it was starting to look too busy and wasn't sure how to scale it back again.

I really, really loved making and looking at that art, and when I was packing I found more pages from the calendars I used to do it.  Since the condo walls are bare and I don't want to put holes in them, I think I'll make some new collages on bristol board and tack them up with sticky putty.  Instant nostalgia!

I think I mentioned that Ray gave us several extensions to get our stuff out of the house, and you can probably guess he was pretty ready for demolition when he finally got in there.  Here is what the house looked like this past weekend, after he'd put in two days with a sledgehammer:

A little different, wouldn't you say?  The biggest shock for us is the absence of anything below those toothy 2x4 bits hanging down from the ceiling in the foreground.  There was a wall there, dividing the kitchen from the living room; in the new version of the house, it will be an open passage between the entry area and what will become the dining room.

That's a better shot of the division, with a random-looking radiator marking the spot where the wall used to be.  It separated two doorways, but check out what looks like a third, to the left of them!  The house was built during WWII to house the family of a worker at one of the metal plants nearby, and I assume wood was conserved wherever possible.  That opening was actually another cosmetic wall, offering some privacy for the entry to the bathroom.

The new bathroom, a two-piece powder instead of a 4-piece main bath, will stand in that third opening, right in the middle of the house.  That wall to the left of it will open up to be a passage into the new kitchen, with counters on either side of it as you enter.

Imagining the new house superimposed over these images makes it a lot easier to bear the loss of the one we've known all these years.  It's so weird to think of so much change!  But as a team we've worked very hard to preserve the feeling of the original house so I am not feeling as sad as I expected.

Thankfully, Ray's had no surprises yet, which is lucky since we're off to Newfoundland very early tomorrow morning.  We can keep in touch with him (and our incredibly patient architects) but we won't be close enough to drop by in an emergency.

I also won't be posting for the rest of the week again, because I'm not taking any knitting with me (!!), or even a computer to write from.  But Toffee, who loved covering for me one day when I was in Italy a couple of years ago, said he would try to come up with some pictures in my absence so all I have to do is post them from my phone.  Who knows whether that will come to anything... I don't care how handknit sock-obsessed he is, he's a stuffed bunny and I don't even know where my backup camera is packed, let alone whether he can operate the shutter. 

Still, let's hope for the best, shall we?  And before I go and finish off another round of packing - for a holiday this time, can you imagine?? - I will leave you with this lovely singing bird:

Isn't he beautiful?  And he expresses so much of what I feel for you guys.  Have a wonderful week and if I don't get something out to you next Monday, it won't be long afterward before I do.

ps: you can check out more of these gorgeous felted wool friends at Scratchcraft on Etsy.  Good luck choosing a favourite!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Settling in with a new sock

I am officially declaring this 'the move that would not die' because our house is still not empty.  However, I do have a new sock going on between excursions to stamp out the remaining clutter!

This is the sock knit from the last remains of the Stoddart yarn I bought two years ago - hence the illogical purple stripe.  If it took me two years to knit the last top-up to my supply, will it take me another two to get through latest one?  Let's find out.  Meanwhile...

there are two socks, not just one.  There is nothing so peaceful as knitting round after round of really good yarn in really beautiful colours, and I knit one leg a bit too long as a result.  Eh, so I had to rip back a bit before starting the heel flap.  There are worse things.

I can't decide whether this is a worse thing or not, but it is a true thing that there is not one bakery within walking distance of our temporary home capable of producing a decent croissant for a Sunday morning breakfast. 

There are three bakeries in the market, but the market is closed on Sundays and Mondays, which is awful for me because I really, really like to have a chocolate croissant with my tea on Sunday mornings and on Mondays, I like to buy a fresh loaf of super delicious bakery bread to make the first few days of the week more cheerful. 

A further truth: I've been testing, and so far I haven't found even an ordinarily delicious bakery bread, on any of the days the market or any other local bakery is open. 

I feel like a bread snob saying that, but I suspect at least half of the problem is that I've been spoiled by the Belgian and French bakeries near our house which are amaaaaazing, not to mention the Montreal-style bagel place.  There is a good Montreal-style bagel place here too... but it's in the market.  See Sunday/Monday problem noted above.

Here's what I'm wondering though.  Is it a terrible thing not to have easy access to a really good bakery... or is it a blessing??

I'm starting to think 'blessing'.  Eating my way through endless tests of mediocre breads is really taking a toll on me.

Back to the yarn, or rather, the settling-in part of this post.  I tried out the terrace outside our windows for this particular sock photoshoot and I was so happy to see the blossoms, and the fresh green plants peeping up out of the ground there.

Also, to see the scattered lounge chairs just waiting to suck in a passing knitter.  I tried one of these things out on the rooftop terrace the other night when we went up to see the sunset and Whoa.  They are comfy.  (These ones are located directly in front of our windows, incidentally, on ground level.)

But I mustn't so much as look at any more loungers until we finish emptying the house, which has to happen this week because Hello, after giving us several extensions, Ray booked the skip for delivery this Thursday and anything still inside at that point is going into it.   

As you can imagine, the delay in finishing has led to the delay in prepping for our upcoming trip to Newfoundland (May 19) during which I will probably not be able to post anything here because on holidays we tend to spend most of our waking hours either walking or too exhausted to do anything crafty.  I've stopped even packing projects or yarn, frankly.

So: two more weeks of Monday-only posts, I think, and in June: back to normal.  Thanks for your patience, and let's part for now with one more sock photo because Yum.

Do you ever get tired of the way lengths of yarn get turned into something amazing?  I don't.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A new knit for crunch time

Demo starts Wednesday, and as of now (Monday morning) the house is far from empty, so it's a small miracle that I've found a tiny bit of knitting time to work on another pair of Stoddart comfort socks at home and something a little different on the bus:

I cast on Leah Oakley's Fruit Stripe Gum Socks a couple of years ago and couldn't shift them up to the top of the list, but a moment came during the first wave of serious packing when I finished the pair of bus socks I started last October (!!!) without another pair started.  Boy, was I glad to discover the cast-on cuffs of these babies when I picked up a knitting basket to slip into a box.

The stitch is crazy simple and you just repeat it round after round till the leg is done.  The pattern uses a different heel flap stitch than my go-to version, and the arch has a little ribbing, and I think I will follow the pattern exactly as written just to see how those things feel.  After all, everything else is new right now, why not my knitting?

Or maybe it's not all so new.  It's funny, but when I'm in the condo I feel like I've been transported back to the 1970s.  I'm remembering my childhood in ways I haven't, probably since I was living it.  I don't know why that is.  The condo was finished in 1982, so that might be part of it, but it may also have something to do with the view from the windows.

We are just below grade on the floor with the enclosed terrace (there are two rooftop terraces, as well, and I have to take a bunch of pictures up there for you because Wow.)  We have pine trees outside the living room window...

... and ferns and another grove of fernlike plants alongside the bedrooms, so it feels a lot like living in a low-slung ranch style home with elaborate landscaping.

The landscaping, by the way, is 100% bird territory.  Because we are downtown, I expected to hear traffic, but thanks to our being on the bottom of the several floors that enclose the terrace what we hear is birds with no predators, and church bells from the cathedral half a block away.  Very seldom, we will hear a car alarm or a plane coming in to land at the Island Airport.  Mostly it's idyllic village sorts of sounds, and the sunlight is pretty remarkable as well - it just pours in from about 1pm till evening and stretches all the way to the door into the unit.  The sunlight I remember from childhood was as bright but nothing since has really compared to it until we moved here.

And yes, of course I put a knitting chair under the window.  It is amaaaazing in there.

I bought a pair of small melamine trays the other day, thinking they would be great for holding snacks at a table on the rooftop terrace when the crazy dies down.  I imagine myself packing a basket with a tray or two tucked in the side, and carrying it up there to spend a few hours enjoying the view and the breeze, with my tea in a thermos and a pastry on a paper doily on the plate just like at the Belgian cafe near our house.

I think the sock looks pretty good on both of them, don't you?

The upshot is, there's a fresh start on life to be had here, with room for my old loves, and there will be time to enjoy it all in just a few more days.  With luck, by next Monday I will be back to posting every weekday.  I have really missed doing that, almost as much as I have not super enjoyed all the work involved in moving, which is saying something!

Take care of yourselves and come back next Monday, won't you?