Monday, June 29, 2015

Tea-related knitting

Pretty sure it was February when I got the idea to knit this, but look! a finished tea cosy!

This is Churchmouse's Ribbed Tea Cosy pattern - very very easy and, I think, quite attractive...

And also, strikingly similar to the cosy pictured in the pattern.  H'mmm... but you know what, brown with hits of green is a very practical choice for something that will inevitably get tea spilled on it.  Also, I'll get to look at the remains of this beautiful Viola yarn a lot more often in cosy form than I did knitting handwarmers and a cowl for somebody else. (did you know Viola is coming available again at regular intervals?  a new collection is coming out this Wednesday at 4pm EST.)

I brought the pot to my desk chair for that glamour shot there, but thought better of it and took it up to the windowsill. 

The view is the best part of this room, though over the weekend I did excavate and furniture-shift just enough to carve out a cosy knitting nook here, near a television, just in time to watch the second episode of the newest Poldark on PBS.

Want to see the view? I think I've shown you before, but the leafy plant outside - it's not ferns, ferns would have died by now surely - keeps growing and I find it remarkable for its texture and colour shading and lack of skyline-spoiling (in spite of taking up half the height of the window at this point.)  It's been trimmed back once this summer already, but you can't tell now, can you.

It rained all weekend, and it was so, so pretty watching droplets form on and fall from the leaves...

Anyway, tea cosy.  I miscalculated with the tea cosy, in that the lid on my pot is a bit taller than standard.  It's kind of like I hitched up a perfectly good pair of pants a bit too high on the ol' waist, resulting in floods at the ankle.

Should have added a round or two at the start, whoops! but it's done now, and cute as a button, and will come in handy when I have more people who want tea than my everyday teapot can hold.  This happens annoyingly often, especially with evening breakfast tea.  Taylors, my friends.  It's so delicious, people can't tell it's decaf.

In other news, apart from the brief time I gave to the cosy, I spent all weekend unpacking and furniture-moving (see Poldark reward above) and this place is still total chaos!  I haven't got a clear surface for the swift and ball winder, or a clue where I might find the pegs for the swift, and I'm getting kind of stressed by all the UHaul-branded boxes stacked up against the walls.  Pretty sure there's money in designing boxes that look attractive for people who move and can't unpack in a day.  I have a teetering stack of very attractive vintage tablecloths I could sling over them, but not enough to do the job.

So... since I'm pretty sure most of you guys are busily gearing up for a holiday weekend and doing things other than looking for cheery distractions, I'm going to take another couple of days off from Hugs and see if I can't get this sorted out once and for all, thereby leaving my brain free to remember all the cool things I wanted to share with you (and actually photograph them, too.)

Take care and have fun - I'll be back as soon as I can see over the rubble!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Consequences of a cinema downstairs

There's a movie theatre downstairs, and its sign listing movie titles and show times is positioned perpendicular to our front entrance, so every time I've gone in and out of our condo building I've found myself sighing that someday, when the urgent boxes are unpacked...

Knitting socks was another thing I was going to put off until I got the boxes unpacked, but I gave in on that one last week.

I missed straight stocking stitch SO MUCH.  I've been working on the patterned socks on the bus to and from our usual neighbourhood, but the stitch it uses is just not as peaceful.

Plus I think there's another consideration I hadn't considered, but we can explore that next week.

My point is: here is what happens when you love movies, and move to a building with a cinema on the ground floor, and then put off going to see any of its movies because Work Sleep Work Laundry Commitments Blah Blah Blah...

One day, you just blow up and binge watch three movies in two days and socks happen in the dark on autopilot.  That one on the right is ready for its heel flap, for crying out loud.  How is that possible??

I am so, so sad that I've now watched all the movies I want from the current rotation.  I'm thinking of going back for a second viewing of at least one because it is so fantastic down there.

I'm pretty sure the place has been in situ for about 30 years now, and I saw movies there with friends in my youth.  It hasn't changed at all.  It's incredibly cute, a product of the days when multi-screen theatres were a new concept and some of the little cinema rooms were smaller to accommodate less popular titles.  To compete now of course, the seating areas have to be huge and the speakers set to deafening, but back then?  It was a thrill just to have six different films to choose from all in one place.

So... the theatre itself is adorable and scrupulously maintained.  It can offer films in limited release because it's got those small venues, and the admission prices are way cheaper than in the newer cinemas.

I am super happy.  I'm a bit nervous about how super happy I am, actually, because I'm starting to forget the reasons I love my house.

I went back there the other day and forgot my turning because I'm so out of practise getting around in that neighbourhood.

The birds sing there, and the leaves rustle... but they do that at the condo too because there's a massive shared terrace outside my window that's protected from roads and public view. 

I can get errands done in an hour here that would take three at home, and it's quieter here in spite of people living above and beside us, because at home there are a LOT of unattended dogs voicing their concerns, and almost as many lawn care companies showing up to blow leaves, which - oddly - seems not to concern the dogs overmuch.

Even the business of carting groceries back from the store is easier, in spite of having to go through a shared entrance and then stairs or an elevator before we reach our own door, because at home we have to walk ten minutes or drive and park, and here we just go around the corner of the building.

And then there are the tourists.  This building is smack in the middle of an area listed in all the guide books, and now that it's summer, I am seeing tour buses and strolling visitors and people posing randomly for pictures in front of interesting architecture.  Based on a few random comments I am pretty sure some of the other condo residents find the whole thing a bit tiresome, but I love it!  It feels so great to think that people would come from a long way away to be here, and even better to think I get to live here and not just spend an hour or two.  When I see people stopping to consult a map I just want to walk up and help them out.  (so far I've resisted, waiting to be asked, and somebody did ask me for directions today so Yay!)

We're going back to our house, of course, and I still can't see being here as an 80 year old - which is the very time when a condo makes an especially huge amount of sense - but boy oh boy is this experience ever making me question how I define 'home'.

Do you ever think about this sort of thing, or imagine living somewhere very different?

Either way: I am sure we can all agree that fiber and yarn is essential to a happy nest!  so I'm going to spend this weekend unpacking the rest of mine, and putting it all together somewhere accessible, and moving more boxes so I can put all the best knitting seating into all the best sun patches.  Wish me luck because UGH, actual knitting is so much better than this.

Take care and have a wonderful weekend yourself, won't you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Always read the directions

While it's fun to improvise - if you're following a pattern, it's a good idea to read it.  All of it.  Remember when I thought I was supposed to knit my tea cosy 4cm and I knit 6cm by accident so I ripped back to 4?

Yeah.  It was supposed to be 4 INCHES.  Somehow my brain cut to the chase on that part of the instructions and I missed the bit immediately after the number.  Thank goodness I noticed that was a pretty short opening to take care of both a spout and a handle.

Lesson learned: never trust your cat to read the pattern for you and take measurements.  Especially if it's a stuffed cat - I don't care how soft and cuddly he is. 

And no, Scruff, I don't believe you knit that sock, either, because I distinctly recall doing it myself.  Nice try though! 

Okay folks: crazy week here at Casa Des Hugs.  I am still surrounded by boxes, the schedule is crazypants with deadlines, my brain is full of an all-absorbing idea I can't do anything about because Unpacking, and I'm not sure whether I will ever get to use the pool at the condo because I keep not having time.  What is wrong with this picture?

(don't worry, knitting is still getting stuck into the cracks, whatever Scruff has to say about covering for me when I'm gone.)

At least I found time to post pictures tonight.  Speaking of which, a friend who visited Newfoundland when I did shared her photographs with me and I am embarrassed I ever showed you any.  Hers are AMAZING.  Probably because she is a world traveler highly skilled in the photographic arts and I just take pictures of knitting, but maybe also because she has a much better camera than I do.  That's probably it, isn't it.


Okay: let's hope we meet again tomorrow but if we don't, I trust we will very soon, and that I will be reporting from a magical land of clear surfaces, an exposed sewing machine, and a perpetually available swift and ball winder!  Oh, it's a wonderful dream, isn't it?

Take care of yourself for now, and knit something cute because omigosh - it's almost July, and don't some of us spin in July instead??  I really need to make space for that.  And for Scruff, because he said something about wanting to learn and you know the way cats are.  Especially the stuffed ones.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Imagine living here

Today was busy and I didn't get home in time to get good pictures of what I knit over the weekend so: let's look at some gorgeous views in Placentia, Newfoundland & Labrador!

We were booked into stay into a super cute B&B there, and as soon as we checked in we went for a walk along the water across the street.

Can you imagine if this was your daily walk?  Or, better still, if this was a regular visit for you and your nice blue boat?

I guess in theory one can get tired of anything... even candy (no really, it's true)... but it's hard to think of not loving a view like this twenty years after you started to see it every day.

The colours and shapes of the rocky landscape remind me of a heaped up sweater... you too, or is it just a sign that I should be knitting one again?

The water was so, so glassy the day we visited.  And how lush is this bit going to be when the leaves come out?  Or - ohhh, when they change colour in the fall... yum.

After this walk we went up to the Castle Hill fort site and looked down.  So much better than looking up, which I found totally scary because there was nothing higher than where we were.  Also, you know: SUPER PRETTY.

What do you think?  If you lived here, would you knit more because you'd be relaxed and inspired, or knit less because you'd be distracted and wanting to hike?  (I assume for the purposes of this casual survey that all economic pressures are null and void.)

In other news: I am soooo going to sit down and knit right now.  Fingers crossed I can show you tomorrow.  Till then, take care of yourself!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Technology: the knitter's friend

One of the things I value most about knitting is its low tech nature, so it's with a small degree of grimace that I admit for the second time this news item: wifi + remembering my Ravelry password rescued me while I was on holiday.  I bought yarn and needles locally, then used my iPhone (best. birthday present.ever) to search the pattern database for a perfect fit.  And now I'm a convert.

Paper-based patterns are great especially if you're making notes and adjustments, but omigosh: the convenience of downloading a pattern .pdf to your smartphone!  If you're anything like me, and all the other people I see stopped in their tracks all over the city staring down at a tiny screen in their hands, you're probably carrying the thing around anyway.  And if your eyesight is not cooperating, it's super easy to enlarge the text to double check stitch count or needle size.

This week as I once again said No! to household responsibilities I said Yes! to casting on my long-longed for tea cosy.  I had settled into my chair with the bag of needles and yarn I set up ages ago, plus a pair of seriously exhausted legs from a ton of walking all day.  Only then did I realize I hadn't bothered to print out the pattern.  But I did have my phone.

Okay, admittedly: I had to get up and walk to the computer to e-mail the file to myself from my hard drive, but once it arrived in my phone's inbox, all I had to do was open it in the relevant app.  Now it's there any time I need it.

Wonder how long it'll be before that little virtual shelf is full of patterns in progress?

In other news: I'm looooving knitting the tea cosy.  

But I need to get a ruler app onto my phone as soon as possible because ugh...

I was only supposed to knit four centimetres before moving to the next bit of instruction, and I was so relaxed I went all the way to five.  Thanks for checking that for me when I was too scared to do it myself, Scruff.

First world problems, right?

Hope you don't have any problems from any world this weekend folks - see you Monday!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Build your own aspirational space

The most beautiful cake in the world is going to be the physical representation of today's topic of conversation: the aspirational space. 

It really is beautiful, isn't it?

And those are actual raspberry flecks in the raspberry icing.   The cake itself is chocolate.  Want to eat this cake?  Then your personal aspiration is to get yourself to St. John's Newfoundland and visit Rocket Bakery, home of the best cottage pie I have ever had IN MY LIFE. 

but I digress. 

When it comes to thinking about how we want to live, most of us consider comforts like a bed that doesn't turn your spine into a pretzel (still working on that) or an easy chair, or a table for dining as a step up from standing at the counter (mostly got that locked down). 

Many of us go farther and spend hours on Pinterest gathering images of a dream space. 

Some even create those spaces through the miracle of careful pruning and stylish decorating. And those spaces are often amazing, quite unlike the approach I normally end up taking, which mostly involves figuring out how to fit all the stuff I feel I should keep into the space I have, in the most functional possible way.

And when stylishly decorated space is amazing, it really, really makes you want to be there all the time.  Like for example the yarn store featured on SouleMama this week, in case you missed it: Tolt Yarn and WoolThe pictures... they are so, so compelling...

Seriously, I want my living room to look like this.  Why doesn't my living room look like this??  Admittedly we did decide on schoolhouse light fixtures even cuter than these from Schoolhouse Electric for the house-to-be (we are going for stripey shades), but after all the work that went into it the condo should look a lot more appealing than it does. I seem to have gone horribly wrong somewhere.

Thankfully Bob is in Toronto this week, and yesterday after his meetings were done he came over to help me assess the situation.  The word 'hoarding' might have been mentioned.  Also the instruction to 'get rid of some of this furniture' and 'seriously, rent a storage locker if the one downstairs is that full.'  H'mmm.

So I'm looking at furniture that can go - does one really need a hideously screechy 1960s metal filing cabinet in this new paperless age? - and considering at what point IKEA storage furniture has outlived its hinges.  The answer to that last one, incidentally, is 'after you've moved house once, or after X number of door openings, whichever comes first'. 

Here are the three rules of thumb for any style you might prefer:

1/ Is it worthy of the most beautiful cake in the world?

2/ Does it contain only charming furniture and attractive lighting?

3/ Can you move comfortably to whichever task area demands your presence?

Since we all have our own definition of 'charming' and 'attractive' and 'comfortably', I really think this applies to pretty much anybody who might read this.  So good luck realizing your dream space today!  And excuse me while I go empty out the garage-grade storage shelf I shoved 'temporarily' into the focal point at the end of the hall two months ago, so I can put something nicer there and then reward myself with knitting.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Scary walks

While in Newfoundland I did not attend a Ghost Walk, though I did superhugely want to.  Friends did and said it was really fun.  So instead, I'm going to share with you my other Super Scary Activities on holiday.

Seriously: you gotta admit this lighthouse looks ominous.
We're talking about windy places where the paths meander very near the edge, people.  Cue the doom music.

One day, we drove to Ferryland, which must be amazing in the summer when you can have a guided tour of an archeological dig and then walk out to the lighthouse for a picnic lunch.  Before summer, the only people out there are walkers and all of them seemed to have gone back inland before we got very far out. 

We passed a few of them on our way.  It was like one of those movies where the scary takes you totally by surprise because they looked really happy, the way you do when you've accomplished something worthwhile.

Here is the worthwhile: You can sort of see here the terrifying, winding narrow channel we had to walk, with ocean on either side of us.  Gorgeous, even in those pre-green weeks, but narrow and ominous and, obviously, something you'd be thrilled to leave behind you after a long walk. Then we arrived unexpectedly at Christmas Tree Heaven.

If I could have captured the scent for you I would have, but try imagining a five minute stroll through eight or nine million fir trees and you'll be close to how incredibly joyful this part of the walk was.

So deceptive though, because immediately afterward we arrived at the left side of the lighthouse and Hello...

See how close I was standing to the side of the building?  That wasn't so I could get a nice shot.  That bit off to the left there... that was pretty much a sheer drop.

I don't know why we went up that side, either, because the other side was nice and flat and picnic-on-able.  Why didn't we see that on the way in?  Gah. 

Another day, we drove out to Cape St. Mary to see birds.  BIRDS.  But don't worry, the birds weren't the Scary, because that whole scary bird thing was just a movie.

There is a massive bird sanctuary at Cape St. Mary and we heard it is quite impressive to see so many winged creatures perched on vertical cliffs on a clear day.  On a foggy and/or windy day, though?  Well, on a day like that, the remote and often lonely drive out there has a creepy factor of nine.  We saw two moose at the side of the highway, plotting nefariousness, and also a parked motorcycle, which might possibly have belonged to an invisible rider or maybe even a third moose. Who knows??

When we finally reached the end of the journey we drove with relief into the parking lot and got out and went to the side of the visitor's centre to look toward the viewing point.  H'mmm.

Then we went to the start of the path and read the warning sign there.  Well.

The text on the sign includes this helpful message:

"Dangerous high cliffs and no fences or other barriers; visitors approaching the cliff edge do so at their own risk"

Not sure if you can see the little speck in the upper right corner of the picture right at the edge of the fog, but those are people who are much, much braver than we.

We went back to the side of the visitor's centre and took this picture instead.  Look! Birds!

Amazingly, a couple of days later we found out some other friends had made it out to Cape St. Mary an hour or so after we left, and did the walk in spite of the fog, and they said it was amazing even though they did find themselves rather suddenly at a sheer drop facing the zillion cliff-face birds.

Okay, how are we feeling - just a little creeped out?  Maybe some chills there in the shoulder region?

You probably need a shawl or something.  And if you're reading this, you've probably knit one recently, so you won't have far to look for it.

As for me: I'm going to go cower somewhere, with needles and yarn probably.  Self preservation and all.  Take care - take good care - and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The first of the last, and accompaniments

Considering there are about 15 pairs between me and the end of my Old Vesper yarn, it's a bit ominous to say this is the first of the last, but hello, newly cast on socks.

I realized something terrible while I was settling in to watch TV for an hour, which is that I'm working on hardly anything and the two knitting projects I've kept near the TV are too close to the end to knit mindlessly.

There's lots of patterns I want to knit, but all the necessary yarn is still skeined, and there are so many boxes and papers all over the place I don't have access to my swift and ball winder.

Luckily, I had two caked skeins of Vesper that were already divided into a further two cakes (one for each sock.)

So these got started during Person of Interest, which I deliberately didn't get invested in until several seasons in only to binge on reruns, and later, Back To The Future.  Odd to think that the '30 years ahead' from its 1985 setting is now.  We don't have any of the things they predicted in it.  But I would be glad if we had self-caking yarn!

As you can imagine, most of my not-knitting time is being spent unpacking, and normally I would be listening to a zillion audiobooks for that job, but somebody told me about the Welcome to Night Vale podcast and... well... I'm pretty much listening to Welcome to Night Vale a lot.  (that second link is for the YouTube channel; the first tells you how to subscribe.)

If you don't know this one, it's pretty bizarre and wonderful.  Basically you're listening to a community radio show in a town where every conspiracy theory or bizarre science fiction concept is real, and often concurrently so.  In spite of reports of a mysterious glow cloud tossing down small animals (said glow cloud later taking a job as head of the local school board) the podcast sounds so normal, so much of the time, that when you stop listening and go to watch the actual 6 o'clock news?  Pretty hard to remember it is real and you probably shouldn't be laughing at it.

What's your favourite show to watch or listen to while you knit?

And also, what's your favourite shallow container to repurpose as a knitting bowl?  I've been using a blue decorative box lid lately, but recently added a wooden veg and dip bowl too cracked to be functional for food.  What can I say?  It was a wedding present, and I couldn't bear to part with it, and it does a really, really good job with yarn.  And beach stones, ahem.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Pattern remorse: has it happened to you?

By pattern remorse I mean yarn/pattern remorse, because there is nothing to regret about the really pretty and super versatile cowl I am knitting with my Sweet Fiber yarn.

As you may recall, the lovely Woven Cowl is a free pattern courtesy of the talented Monique Gascon.  If you click on the Ravelry link above you will see that it's very beautiful as a closed cowl but also, as a partially unbuttoned collar.  And I am totally smitten with the way it looks in this olive green shade.

If only I had just one more skein.  Here's what I bought: THREE.

I never do this.  If I'm not just buying one of something, I buy two, all the time.  If you see me in the grocery store you'll spot that straight off - me, plus a basket of duplicates.  You know, one for now, one so I have a buffer before I absolutely have to run out and buy more.  When it's yarn I buy two so there's one for a hat, one for a pair of matching mitts or a cowl or a unifying colour for a more substantial accessory.

I never spring for three skeins of the same yarn, so it's unlikely I will ever again have the right number for Mavis, a cowl/shoulder cosy designed specifically for the very Sweet Fiber yarn I am knitting with.  GAH.  Click the link to see what I mean - it is a gorgeous, gorgeous piece.

When I first saw the pattern I was tempted to rip out Woven Cowl and start it again with something else (it only requires one skein, so I'd have a fair bit of choice here in Yarnland.)  But then I thought: No.  I love the way Woven Cowl is coming out, and it's almost done now.

So I'm knitting onward with Woven Cowl and trying not to think about Mavis and diligently telling myself that it's a drag knitting multiple hand dyed skeins into one project because you have to keep switching between them to avoid pooling or otherwise noticeable shifts in dye density.

It's not really working... unless you count me seeing the whole experience as an excuse to stalk the Churchmouse website for factory-dyed yarns (and I might, because the world is unjust.)

Have a good weekend?  I did, if you don't count the pain and suffering that only a knitter can appreciate...

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rethinking the concept of excess yarn

You know how a lot of we knitters refer to the yarn we own and haven't yet used as 'stash'?  Well, I'm feeling like it's time for an image overhaul. 

Stash sounds so negative, like we're hiding it, or at least should be hiding it.  What about 'stockpile', for those of us who need to know we'll never run out, or 'reserve' to honour the fact that it has a stabilizing value beyond its material designation?  Or maybe 'horde', which sounds intimidating, as opposed to 'hoard', which just sounds like a burden.  Yarn = not a burden.

Well, whatever - my Vesper Sock supply is now much much more important to me than usual because Julia did in fact discontinue the original 100% merino sock this week.  There is a new 100% merino now, but at a slightly different weight than before which is gaaaahhhh! because the previous version fits so nicely into all my shoes and is so perfect for my needles and preferred stitch count.

I'm trying not to be disturbed by this, beyond having bought up every last scrap of the original base - there wasn't much - when I read the announcement.  I mean, it's yarn.  Many people produce yarn.  Change is not a terrible thing.  Julia is gifted and will have chosen a very attractive new merino base.  All shall be well.

(do you know this mantra?  seriously, in times of acute crisis it is incredibly helpful to repeat the following: 'all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.'  helped a friend of mine through skin cancer treatment and me through packing up the house.  which tells you a lot about my comparative life hardships and the real import of my yarn distress.)

ANYway, let's continue this post as though the news is the worst thing that ever happened to me.  The prospect of the discontinuation of beloved yarn is a very good reason to buy too much and I appear to have done that very effectively.

In addition to all the uncaked skeins of Vesper I've acquired, I also have a few caked skeins ready to go,

which is lucky because I still haven't figured out quite how to set up my caking station at the condo.

Overall I figure I have enough here for 18 months of sock knitting, even if I don't fall deeply in love with Julia's replacement - and that's before I knit some scrappy socks with the tail ends of random colourways.

If only I hadn't just realized last fall that an awful lot of the Vespers I knit to that point are just a little too short for me, but worn enough that I can't unpick and reknit them a little bit longer.  I am going to need every pair of these socks to come, because I plan to gift the earlier shorter socks to a couple of friends with smaller feet and, perhaps oddly?, no problem whatsoever with used socks as long as they're handknit. 

Anyway: this is my weekend crisis.  That and continued box packing and vacation planning - Pete wants to get away on a driving trip in July - and more exciting bill-paying because Renovation.  YAY.

Hope your weekend is great and I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A house update

While we were away, Ray was doing a lot of gruelling demo work on our house.  He sent me a couple of shocking pictures plus an entertaining video of 'wall meets sledgehammer', but I didn't see the real thing until I went over for a site visit last week.  Whoa.

Walking in the front door: Honey, I'm home!

It's like a house skeleton.  And of course, it looks even smaller to me without walls and ceilings, but Ray and Al assure me it will be just fine with the new floor and everything finished.

The fireplace is going to shift a little to the left, and Ray is going to try very hard to salvage some of the bricks because thank goodness, they match the exterior.  Pete really, really wants the finished house to look like it was always a two-story home, and to pull that off we need matching brick, which will be near-possible to source outside our own walls after so many decades.

That window to the right of the fireplace?  Hello, window over kitchen sink.  I can really see how the layout we've planned will drop into this space and it's exciting, but at the same time, hard to grasp how we will get all the way from here to there.

I stood on the basement stairs to take this picture of the front door.  In the old days, I would have been pointing my camera at a wall between the stairs and the kitchen.

Weird.  Weirder: being at eye level with the floor of what was once our bedroom closet, thanks to there being no wall for the stairwell any more.

We are looking straight into what will be the new kitchen from here... with the new living room in the foreground.  There will be more windows on the wall on the right hand side, but facing us, just the existing window.  The rest of that wall will be cabinetry.

Speaking of windows: you'll love this one.

Behind this stack of salvaged doors - you can see the traces of it just above them - lies what looks like an attempt at a window opening that's been filled in with scraps of cinder block and broken bricks.  Judging by the look of it, Ray figures the builders messed up and put the window in the wrong spot, and weren't too happy about having to patch it up.

The other cool thing is to see how the builders dealt with wartime shortages in 1942.  And when I say cool, I mean that literally (because paper bags stuffed with a little straw don't do much for heat retention, especially when unaccompanied by other insulation and used only in random crevices) and also not at all, because what could be more miserable than taking out a 12" depth of sawdust from the attic?  Ray figures that's how they insulated up there before a later owner added batts.  Glad I was in Newfoundland for that part.  And isn't it nice that Ray, not to mention Al, is/are still speaking to me?

The condo doesn't look anything like this, but it doesn't really look like a condo either... more like nicely furnished storage locker with boxes lining the walls.  I'm not quite sure how to finish unpacking without more storage furniture, but I don't want to buy more furniture for the condo because I really, really don't want to have to move it again later.  Not sure how to deal with that job, but it's a much nicer one to have than the one Ray's got, so I am not complaining.

Hope you've been having a good day and I'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Handknit blankets

While we were on holiday, Pete and I made a visit to Cape Spear, the easternmost part of Canada.  The views (and winds) are incredible but naturally I mostly cared about the knitting in the restored lighthouse.

Can you even tell at this distance that the coverlet on the bed is handknit?

Some time ago I bought an out of print book on handknit coverlets and I am pretty sure it includes this pattern.  It would have been knit in a fairly fine cotton on small needles, definitely nothing speedy, and each curve had to be knit independently and assembled later... which is probably lucky, since who's got needles this wide?  And as you can imagine, that is some serious labour in there - our guide said the best guess is about 800 hours of work.  That's dedication.

Here's a closeup, which the computer turned into a completely inaccurate colour combo so pretty I kept it anyway... it's probably close to what its maker saw after finally finishing it, because it's hard to imagine not losing some eyesight in the process.

Upstairs there was a simpler blanket I could see myself making, if I could only figure out how:

It's just the most basic garter stitch with undyed wool, and a tiny accent in red stripes at the top.  LOVE it.  But how did they make it wide enough?  I can almost make out where they may have sewn vertical strips together, but not what stitch they could have used to make it lie flat and look normal.

Many generations of a single family lived and worked in the Cape Spear lighthouse until it was reconfigured as an automated light station, and I can tell you from the May day I was there, blankets would have been essential.  We are talking windswept.

In addition to the many other reasons I was thrilled to be staying at our wonderful cottage in Torbay, there was the perk of looking out over the eastern coast.  Not so far east as one would be at Cape Spear, but far enough east not to feel at all pressured to join a bunch of friends who thought it would be a great idea to drive out there one morning to watch the sunrise.

As you can imagine, driving someplace to watch the sunrise means driving in the dark, and the road out to Cape Spear is dippy and windy and completely without streetlights.  Plus did I say 'windswept'?  One guy said he was fine till the sun came up and he saw how close they were to the edge.  The edge, unlike the dippy windy road, is vertical and rocky and marked by memorials for loved ones who drowned there.

Meanwhile, we were tucked up inside under blankets, woken by the sun streaming in from the eastern window, and blissfully falling back to sleep.  The only thing that would have made it all nicer was if the blanket was handknit.

Hope you have a cosy day and I'll see you tomorrow!

ps if you're like me, you're wondering how a family raising the next generation of lighthouse keepers on a windswept coastal rock managed not to lose anybody over the edge of the cliff during a rousing game of tag.  Well, I asked.  Apparently the kids just learned from an early age to stay away from the cliff, and they didn't question it.  Smart kids.