Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Knitting in the dark

For some reason there's been a terribly long run of movies I didn't want to see at the theatre downstairs, which is part of why I made a beeline there on Friday night to see Hotel Transylvania 2.  And knit!

Seriously guys, this is huge - I knit through the ENTIRE MOVIE without making a mistake or looking down!  I could not believe it.  When I sat down, I had a ribbed cuff, and when I got up I had all those gorgeous stripes looking back at me.

Tonight I went to see another movie - The Intern - and was so excited to get back to my sock.  Sadly... I only got a tiny little bit farther.

Like, I finished the brown stripe and got two rounds into the turquoise.  Colour me sad.

Here's what happened.  I jerked my hand awkwardly during the opening sequence and dropped a stitch, then had the sickening realization that I had actually let it unravel down a level or two (I was correct), and I couldn't trust myself to pick it back up and rethread the stitches above it. 

I had no choice but to give up and just sit and watch the movie.

And you know what, I didn't shrivel up and die.  I ate a lot of popcorn, but that's not exactly the same thing. 

(also FYI, both movies were enjoyable.  not well reviewed, but enjoyable.)

I kind of want to see Black Mass now... see if I can win two out of three!

Hope you've been having a good week so far and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pie versus Cake

It's come to my attention that there are people who consider pie to be an adversary of cake.  Or at least, who feel the need to advocate for pie over cake.  I find this crazy, because I am crazy about both.

And to prove it, I treated myself to an adorable mini-pie at the Saturday Market this past weekend.  The market has been hosting three different baked-goods stalls the last couple of weeks, and they are all enticing, but the one in the middle is the one with the sweet treats, and I could only resist the adorable tiny pies there the first time I passed. 

I don't know what it is about pie... we used to have them always at family holiday meals, in multiple flavours to suit everybody's different tastes, but never cake (why?) unless it was a birthday, or Easter when my sister took advantage of the bunny cake molds she bought on a long-ago visit to Germany. And even at Easter, there would be pie.

Sometimes the pies were store bought, sometimes made by hand.  The favourites were rhubarb - the sour stalks tempered by the sweet thick custard they were baked in, YUM - and pumpkin, of course, at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I looooove pumpkin pie, and I can make it myself, but the one time it mattered, when I got to host Thanksgiving for Pete's family, I was so overwhelmed by the other things I was doing that day, I forgot to put in any sugar. 

It was not pretty.

This pie, on the other hand, is very pretty in my opinion.  Also, it's peach raspberry, which is a hard combo not to love.  In addition to eating it, I would love to be able to do my living room walls the colour of this piecrust.

Interestingly (to me) it tasted like the only processed sugar in this pie was the chunks of it on the top.  And yet: delicious.  So unlike my pumpkin effort.

I might have to go back to the bakery stall where I got it next Saturday, too.

What about you?  Are you pie or cake, or all over both?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Never ending gift socks

Remember when I had that great idea to have my cousin's Christmas present ready in time to send it back to England with her at the end of her visit home?  Well, I finally made it to the first toe.

That would be exciting if I was anywhere near the second toe...

but wait, I am!  I've actually started the second toe!

Also, these socks are long enough.  I had the foresight to make her take her shoes off so I could trace her foot when she was over at the condo a couple of weeks ago, and as a result I know for sure that as long as I make her socks half an inch longer than my feet, they'll fit.

Here's the catch: she's leaving again in five days, and I really wanted to send her husband's Christmas socks home with her too.

These are DK weight socks, so you know as well as I do that I have just enough time to do both pairs, run in the ends, block them, air dry them, and wrap them up for her to tuck into her suitcase at the airport just before she goes through to the departures lounge.

But it would be really, really tight, and I really, really want to get the first draft of my novel polished up too. So I've decided to make her socks the big project for this week...

... and let Canada Post take care of the delivery part for me after all.  Ugh, it pains me even to type it.  Maybe I should push through with the man socks after all.  ARg.

Do I need to decide right now?   Would it be enough just to graft a toe?

Maybe if I just do that much, I'll be so overcome with a compulsion to finish both pairs of socks that I will make it happen in spite of the siren call of my novel.

Wish me luck either way and have yourself a great day tomorrow!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Food and knitting: a connection

When there's a lot going on it's hard to notice connections between things, but a big one occurred to me today and I wanted to tell you about it.

The first thing, one that's been staying with me a lot these days, is that I finally started listening to my audiobook of The Graves Are Walking, John Kelly's harrowing look at the great potato famines in Ireland that drove at least two of my ancestors to Canada.  (yeah, you can see why I put off picking that one up.  but it's totally riveting now that I'm listening.)

When I was having our internet installed at the condo, I chatted with the gentleman who did the work.  He had immigrated here himself a few years back, and noted that I am lucky my family has been  here a long time because it takes at least two generations for a family to be secure in a new place.  I was really struck by the truth of this: I have the comfortable life I have today, because my great great grandparents left their home to find a better food supply. I mean, Ireland is a fabulous place I know, but there's a good chance that if my particular people had stayed, I wouldn't be alive at all.

There is a park at the waterfront in Toronto that commemorates the Irish immigrants who survived their journey and lived long enough on arrival - many didn't - to put down roots.  The statues in it are emaciated and desperate, and MAN, listening to The Graves Are Walking, I can't not think of them.

But the weirdest thing is, I always seem to be listening to this book while eating.  Or doing laundry in the comfort of my own home, or looking for one of my several pairs of shoes, or engaging in some other activity that underscores the difference between my life now and their life then.

Mostly this makes me feel guilty because Hello, I'm a nice Irish Catholic girl, and we're raised that way.  But I also feel intrigued to think of how my ancestors would feel about this.  If somebody had told them they would go through what they did, but that their descendents would be where I am, would they feel it was worth it?  It's so hard to imagine any answer but No, from where I stand.  But maybe when you are ripping yourself away from all you have known with not a huge chance of outliving the trip, the answer would have to be Yes.

The other thing I noticed is that ever since I had perogies at the Ex a few weeks ago, I have been longing for more.  There's a good shop for blintzes and knishes and perogies at the market and today I finally went over there to buy some, because it was one of those moments when nothing but comfort food will do.  When I was a student, I lived for a year on Roncesvalles which is the main street for a huge Polish community here in Toronto, and that's where I had my first plate of perogies - as well as the many I ate afterward.  I was so shy then it must have been nearly impossible for me to ask the motherly women behind the counter how to heat and eat this unfamiliar food - probably my roommate took care of that.  She and I had next to no money, between rent and transit and books and laundromats, and perogies became a huge cheap staple of our diet.

I was thinking of those humble but amazing meals as I put my fresh perogies into boiling water to cook for one minute, and as I took them out, I realized they have a potato filling.  So, like my ancestors, I relied on potatoes when I was most in need.

How did I not figure this out before?

The link between these two things ties into something else I've been thinking about as I learn how to use the market - the way that food is love, the way that having food prepared for you and served to you feels like love.  I think it's a big part of why restaurants are so popular, why it feels good to have a place you can go to again and again.  It's not just about the time you didn't have to make your own food.  It's about the other diners around you, and the people who (hopefully) know what they're doing in the kitchen and are feeding you.  It's why, I think, I'm drawn to coffee house decor for our house.  I want to enhance the feeling that somebody is taking care of me, just as I take care of other people.

When I bought the perogies, I bought a blintz and a knish to try as well.  And it occurred to me as I crossed the street to come home that these are all classic humble comfort foods, things that people from a culture that is not mine would come home to from the time when they were very young.  And here I am, reaching out to see if that culture can adopt me - if it can be my comfort food too - just as I did with an empanada I bought on the weekend.  (not so much on the empanada, I think, but I will definitely try again with it.)

Okay, so none of this is knitting, obviously.  It's all food and family.

But here's where it all led me.  Knitting, like food, is full of regional differences.  I mean, every culture in a cooler climate has some form of sock or hand protection in it.  And an awful lot of cultures, regardless of climate, put fillings into pastry to carry away with them to where they work.  But within those forms there is sooo much variation.  Think Aran stitches versus Fair Isle colour, or Estonian lace, or all the other specialty work we admire so much.

This is the sample I knit for Kathleen Taylor's pattern book Fearless Fair Isle - highly recommended!

And none of it is new, any more than perogies or potates are new.   They come to us from our ancestors, and here we are, still knitting them.

It feels like security, don't you think?  I do.  And now if you'll excuse me, I think this is a good time for tea and that apple blintz I picked up today.

Henri-Victor Regnault, photographer (French, 1810 - 1878)
Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, printer (French, 1802 - 1872) - See more at:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

An unbelievable find at the antique market

On Sunday, I had time to stop by the Antique Market shortly after it opened, and one of the first things I saw filled me with absolute dismay.  Then I bought them anyway.

You may recognize this pair of schoolhouse-style shades.  When I found the original one, I had never seen it before and understood it to have been handblown and original to the late 1940s or sometime in the 1950s.  When I saw these two, I thought they must all be modern reproductions and felt I had shockingly overpaid for the first one.  Not to mention that we don't need lights for months yet, and I have to store them in the meantime.

Then I thought, am I crazy?  Who cares?  They look great and will totally set the mood of our new kitchen.  Hence the purchase (for $30 apiece, I might add.  I am not looking back to see what I paid for the first one, which also came with a fixture, but I know it was a lot more than that and was still a ton less than I would pay for the other schoolhouse lights I like.)

The thing about vintage stuff though is that a little goes a long way.  I am not a designer, but I have bought a lot of vintage kitchen stuff over the years and I can tell you: if you want a truly quirky space, use a ton, but if you want something that suggests quirky, while still being fairly calming and neutral, you don't want to go too crazy with the other finishes after putting in three handpainted lamps with a tea and homebaked pastry theme.

That said, red countertop, anyone?

Pete is more than open to a red countertop, and although I like Caesarstone's deep blue-tinted red more than the Cambria one in my hand here, I also loooove red.  I just fear it will push the kitchen too far into retro land to suit us in ten years' time.

I wanted black or dark grey, and I think Cambria's slightly sparkly blue grey would be lovely, but... well, apart from other possible negatives, Pete is unconvinced, so that's likely a No right there.

Faux marble is just dripping with much-loved-by-me coffeehouse associations, but is that too cold for these crazy retro lights?  I never see crazy retro lights like this in elegant Parisian-style coffeehouses.  (the faux marble here, from Cambria, is too off-white for what we are doing. but there are other options.)

Meh, countertops.  There are so many more interesting things to decide about in life.  But they are so very expensive, and so very difficult to change.

I think marble is going to end up being safest.

After the lamp-related success story, I went back to the antique market with a friend and saw this cute juice jug tucked away behind some other very nostalgic kitchenware items at a different stall:

I noticed right away that it looked as though it was meant to go with my existing juice jugs.  Also, it's in pristine condition, and the ridged glass top is so practical for keeping a grip on.  I might actually serve juice in this one.

Really would make a great vase too though, wouldn't it?

You know, I actually have a rolling pin with handles the same green as these leaves.  And vintage kitchen curtains in blue and white check with white organza ruffles and red trim, and bright red plastic canisters (plus matching breadbox), and countless other clear glass and milk glass treasures all from the same 20 year period.  A red countertop would look so, so amazing, wouldn't it.

(but too quirky!!)

Ugh.  I'm stopping now.  Go knit something - I'm going to! and I'll see you later.  Just maybe not tomorrow, because my week kinda blew up again, oops.  but soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A writing day

In case you're wondering why I am still not back consistently to my longtime ritual of every-weekday-at-dawn postings, I've been hard at work on a novel when I haven't been sourcing materials for the house and generally trying to keep up with life.  And laundry! I don't know what it is with laundry, but it just keeps needing to be done.  More so, when you are taking advantage of an indoor pool and gym equipment, the better to justify your condo maintenance fees.

Let's just accept for a moment that writing days don't usually look like this, okay?

Carving out time to write when everybody needs you is a challenge, and it was an incredibly rare thing to find I could take today just for me and my book. And I resolved to make it all about the book, all day long, but sometimes you have to step aside and think about where things are going.  It's good to work on a sock or some other mindless project when you're doing that.

Or, you know, let your giraffe friend Sophia hang out with the project.

Most writers feel grateful to have just a few productive hours in a day - I'm lucky to be able to fill an entire day with words, some of which actually get to stay in the story, if given the opportunity.  I think it happens because I am so thwarted so much of the time... the story writes itself in my head for days, weeks, even months before I get to pour it out onto what passes for paper in this crazy modern world.

I often think I should be able to make time every day, the same way we are supposed to take time for ourselves.  You know what I mean - when much of your life is occupied with giving to others in one form or another, it's important to give back to yourself too.  I think a lot of us here do that by giving to others through the comforting repetition of yarn into loops and while that is fabulous (or we wouldn't do it) it is sometimes not enough.  For me, it's definitely not enough! I really need to write.

So it seems silly of me not to write every day, beyond the writing I do here at Hugs.  I mean, I find time for the antique market (more on that tomorrow!)  But the simple fact is, I don't have time for much these days, and the antique market usually does triple duty as a rare outing and social time as well as fitting out the condo and sourcing stuff for the house.  A condo neighbour asked me yesterday whether I would consider piecing together the complicated sweater she knit from a French pattern, all the pieces being set out and ready to go, and even though that is my least favourite part of knitting I was tempted because I am dying to see this thing, and I had to say no anyway.  I just can't pile on any more than I have on my plate right now.

We all go through passages of our lives like that, don't we - and then we come out the other side and say Whew! not doing that again! and then we do, heh.

Sophia demonstrates her two-at-a-time sock technique

But I did get to work on my book today, and it went well, and I get to do more on it tonight, and right now, it feels great to be me.

Thanks for putting the socks away so nicely, Sophia.

Hope you guys get to do something that makes you happy today and I'll see you tomorrow!

Monday, September 21, 2015

When striped socks don't match

I made good progress on my cousin's socks last week, but I hit a bit of a puzzlement when I got to the end of the leg and prepared to do the contrasting heel flap.

Where to make the break?  Ideally in a striped sock, the solid heel will stand out a bit.  I will gladly adjust the length of a leg to ensure that the heel falls either at the start of its colour in the stripe repeat, or in the middle of the colour the farthest from it (in this case, the deepest shade of hot pink.)

But with these socks, I have one of each.  The stripe managed to shift just enough in each sock that when I got to the heel, there was no way to keep the heel shift consistent.

So: I made a virtue of necessity.

I went with what the socks gave me, and I started the heels in those two places. 

It doesn't make a difference to the stripe problem, but it's also worth mentioning that after knitting I don't know how many socks with eight rounds for the ribbing, I managed to knit one of these two socks with just six.  Six!  What was I thinking?  And it took me ages to notice, too.  I couldn't figure out why the socks were the same length even though one sock was two rounds shorter from the cuff than the other.  Whoops.

Yes, I know mr. sock twins, ha ha ha on me.

I'm just grateful you're sleep socks.

Anyway, my cousin was over the other day and I showed them to her because a/ I wanted to make sure I got the foot length right and b/ these are so very much not her colours I wanted to prevent an unpleasant surprise when she unwraps them.  But as it turns out, she loves them!

(also, and this is not news, she is a super gracious person.)

Hope you've had a great weekend, and if I don't see you tomorrow, it's because I am hard at work trying to get these babies done so I can start her husband's and finish those too, before she has to fly home again.  Whew!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A knitting nest needs flowers

Every Saturday there is a bonus food market at the St. Lawrence Market, and all summer long we drove past it, already busy at 7am, on our way to the cottage.  Honestly the whole exterior is gorgeous, its stalls piled high with enormous carrots and cabbages and leeks and you name it, but I was always longing to stop at the flower stall.  This week, I got my chance!

I had to have these giant pink beauties.  I have no idea what they are called, and they are dropping petals already, but oh my goodness I love them.

This is what I carried home, complete with ladybug:

And this is what I used for vases, having realized too late that I gave away all our actual vases in the move, except for two that are still holding plant cuttings I need to pot, oops.  Oh, and the one I keep my straight knitting needles in (everyone does that, right?) 

I bought one at the church rummage sale near our house, and the other, the one with oranges, at the Sunday market (antiques and collectibles) after we got the condo.  I never did know what to do with these guys other than admire them. 

Okay, actually, I do have two of the orange ones.  What was I going to do, buy one and leave the other behind in the store?  Not with all those cool oranges and lush green leaves I wasn't.  Plus they were half price - the shop owner was doing a big clearout.

Yeah... well, my cousin brought me flowers yesterday, but I didn't want that to delay my flower market spree.

I also bought food at the market, including quite a few peaches and nectarines.  I thought I had run out of non-essential vintage mixing bowls for holding fruit, because I have been keeping bowls on the table for lemons and apples and pears, but then I remembered this one.

Dang, no excuse now to buy more bowls at tomorrow's Sunday Market.  Rats!

And oh, who am I kidding?  You don't want a bowl of peaches and nectarines in your knitting nest.  You'd just want to eat them, and then you'd get the juice all over your project.  Much better to have flowers.

Hope you have something pretty to look at this weekend!  and I'll see you Monday.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Walking without knitting

Julia asked me recently whether it was possible to knit and walk at the same time, so as to avoid too much sitting, and I said Yes I do it all the time, but then I realized I do it all the time (weather permitting) in the neighbourhood of my house, which has wide and leafy sidewalks.  I would not try to knit while walking around downtown... although now that I think of it, that's probably safer than texting while walking around downtown.  At least with knitting, you're not looking down the whole time!

Before I realized I could indeed walk and knit downtown if I was ever not in a hurry (there's a hope) Pete asked me to take him to my favourite coffee shop, home of the gorgeous floor which I showed you earlier this week and am showing you again because I love it so, so much:

Actually I spotted another floor I love in one of the older parts of a bank - different marbles laid to look like a carpet and border.  It's a lot more neutral look and probably much easier to capture too, so I will try to be open-minded.  (love the big cement tiles though, and when else would I have a chance to have that?)

(could I do that at the condo do you think?)

Back to my point: after coffee, Pete wanted to walk on to City Hall, which is celebrating 50 years in existence this fall.  I do mean City Hall, which is not to be confused with Old City Hall, which sits next door and is much older.  I wonder, what will they do when the current City Hall gets too old for the job?

Anyhoo: it seems the the logical way to celebrate is by filling the public square in front of the building with vintage ambulances...

I can't imagine I would feel as thrilled to look at the back of this Packard from a position of need, but as a more-or-less tourist: gorgeous.

That's old city hall looming up behind the front of the vehicle, the building with the little pointed peaks on top of its towers. I think it is a courthouse now but don't quote me, it's next door to a distracting mall and an equally distracting department store and I am too swamped to be an accurate blog-writer.

We met a retired ambulance driver while admiring all the chrome and the streamlined shaping, and he said the trouble with the design was that the stretcher base was very close to the doors.  If the patient they picked up had a seizure, the window got kicked out, guaranteed.  So if they picked up somebody with this trouble they would know straight off they would need to drive straight from the hospital to the garage where half a dozen rear windows were kept in stock for just this situation.

That's what I love about history: the human element.  Really hope those patients were all okay though because it would be bad enough to have a seizure... the force you'd need to pop out a car window can't have been easy on your bones and joints.

Oh, and here's another history factoid: originally all the ambulances were privately run, and in many cases were operated by a funeral home.  Way to inspire confidence in the patient about getting well, huh?

There were other vehicles pulling into the square for the afternoon's ceremonies too:

I loved watching this one drive to its designated position past the fountains in the square. Definitely not something you see every day.

And in happy news, it looks like the Toronto sign is staying.  That curvy building on the right is City Hall,by the way.

Pete got me to take a picture of him in one of the Os, and then two German ladies asked me to take their picture in an O as well. Their camera was much fancier than mine and I didn't press hard enough to take the pictures the first time I tried, but we worked it out.  Anyway I was just thrilled to have graduated from being a local messing up while giving directions to a tourist, to a local messing up while taking pictures for a tourist.* When we left I spotted another woman in an O, filling it with outstretched arms and legs.

*for the record, I can totally direct anybody to the really good coffee shop.  it's just north of the scaffolding detour on Yonge Street north of King, where all the construction blocks every useful entrance to PATH.  Also it's called Dineen.  

Truly a genius design, that Toronto sign.  And City Hall is really pretty cute too.

We looped home along University Avenue, which is wide enough to have parks with benches running all down the middle, with breaks for every cross street.

I remember seeing this same idea in Boston - a boulevard, if you will - but here there is so little space it could absolutely have been paved over and/or turned into another lane, so I love that we have parks instead.  I still remember with happiness walking home through those parks one summer evening after work when I had finished my second year of university.  It was such a nice way to wind down after my day job in a circulation department and my second job at a department store! 

I spotted this amazing sculpture further south on University and if I were a responsible person I would have the name of the artist to give you but I think we all know by now I am anything but that:

It's like something out of a nightmare in a way, but sooo shiny and interesting, and the little lumplike things all over it are birds:

I like it a lot.

Here's really why we looped down University, though.

The Toronto International Film Festival!  Yet again I will probably not have free time at times films are showing.  I am going to try, because I probably won't be living down here next fall, but either way I love the energy of the city during TIFF, and it's not like King Street is closed down and filled with giant orange balloon things every day.  I realize that in this picture the street looks like tumbleweeds could blow through but it was really very early on Sunday when I took it, and just past the first two sets of balloons, there was a massive long line winding around Roy Thompson Hall for a movie.  It would be a shame if I don't have a chance to see anything really, because the lines are always very long, and knitters are so well-equipped for standing in lines.

I am incredibly grateful to have this experience downtown after so many years in a midtown neighbourhood with a small town feel.  I'm sure I'll get tired of it eventually... I just hope that happens just before we move back, and not eight years afterward!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Things to do on the subway

Normally I try to be still and unhurried when I am picking up stitches for a sock gusset, but now that we are living away from the house, if I have to commute at all it's one long subway ride instead of a subway/bus combo.  So there's time to do silly things like pick up stitches for a sock gusset,

knit a first round,

and admire my work.

I've noticed that if you're very casual you can take pictures of your sock in a crowded place and most people don't even notice you.  Or if they do, they pretend not to, which is much the same thing.

Omigosh I just realized how much black is in these three pictures - the two other passengers were all in black (with dark blue denim), as was I (black denim), and my purse is black.  How could people not notice these brightly coloured socks having a photo shoot with my bright pink camera with all that black as the background??

There: that's a thing to do on the subway.  Discover the mystery of invisible brightly coloured socks.  And let's hope the trick isn't to have a totally nondescript person holding them, SIGH.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Instead of the knitting fair

Instead of getting up very early on Saturday to drive to Kitchener, Ontario for the autumn knitting fair I love so well, I got up very early to drive somewhere else.

Well, to be a knitting passenger, but you know what I mean.

Knitting passenger and navigator, which is easier now that I have a smartphone because with the paper maps I used to use exclusively, I couldn't guarantee knowing where we were in relation to where we were meant to be.  The smartphone makes it easy to see how far off the route you managed to get while looking more at your needles than at the view.  (hint: blue dot = us, blue line = route.)

Thankfully we allowed extra time for what was always going to be a long drive - long enough to get in some serious gift sock mileage.

And where were we going, you might wonder, with a bigger magnetic pull than the knitting fair?  Well... here.

That's a whole lotta hardwood curing in stacks in a lumberyard.  Most of it is destined to be luxury furniture, but we were looking for flooring.  Black Bear Flooring is worth the drive, because the trees are sourced specifically for their purpose and finished at the company's own site.  You get to pick whatever type of wood you want, in whatever finish you want, and whatever width you want - and the finish is stronger than what you can get anywhere else.  And since we plan to stay in the house for a very long time and hate doing maintenance, choosing to pay a little more is a no-brainer.  The hardest part was the choosing.

Maple or Oak?

Oak or Maple?

Thank goodness we narrowed it quickly to those two options because I am getting tired out from all the choices involved in starting your house practically from scratch.

Our hardwood is going to run through the whole main and second floors, apart from the front hall and the bathrooms.  We're putting it into the kitchen too because I am just about done looking at tile and so is Pete.  If we wreck it, we can always put tile in later, but if we put tile in now, we'll never know if I could be trusted not to wreck it*.  And maybe I won't wreck it!**  One can always hope.***

* one time, I ran water for dishes and wandered off to get something else done while the sink filled, and I flooded the kitchen and shorted out some lights in the basement.
** a little while after that, I did the same darned thing again.
*** Pete mostly does the dishes now.

All our bathrooms are going to be sensible, with large floor tiles set close together in neutral shades that won't limit any decorating ideas I get over the next 20+ years.  But I feel a bit down about paying for something that practical for the front hall.  For the first room you step into when you walk inside our house, I really want to do something amazing like the floor in my favourite coffee place:

This pattern is WAY too bold for our house.  I know because Pete says so while wincing and shielding his eyes, but I love everything else about the design and colour. I use dark red all the time and hugely enjoy that shade of green.  What I'm looking for instead is something that includes black (all our doorknobs and light fixture bits will be black) and the colour of our hardwood, to make the transition from entry to dining room a comfortable experience.  And more importantly to get Pete to agree, which he promised he will if I can find something mild enough. 

Wish me luck, because we don't live in the U.S., land of decorative plenty.

Meanwhile: in case you're wondering what we picked:

Clear Maple, 3.25" width.  In an even narrower width, that's what was in the bedrooms of the original house, and it darkens to such a gorgeous honey colour in just a few months. 

And I got some serious sock headway out of it all.  I mean, if you can't get to the knitting fair, that's pretty good compensation don't you think?

Hope you had a good weekend and I'll see you tomorrow!