Friday, August 28, 2015

Fall sock, falling

After all the bright of the last sock, I decided to spend some time on something more restful and cast on this colourway, whose name I forget already:

I love the combination here - I mean, I love. it.  Even at this point, I started imagining a room pulled together with furniture and accents in these colours, which frankly is as good an approach to interior decorating as any.  Why not use a sock as inspiration?

Anyway, I knit some of it at the cottage before the long drive home, and then off we went.  We left late in the day, so some of the drive was in the dark, and that's basically the travel equivalent of movie knitting because Pete prefers I don't have some random flashlight flickering around beside him as he drives on the highway, go figure.  Thankfully we got stuck in a very long jam leading up to some major overnight construction, so I tucked in an extra forty-five minutes or so of crawling past overhead lights that kept me on pace. 

It shows:

Well, it mostly shows, since I showed you the good side there.  See, it's inevitable that I will mess up some stitches in the dark.  I'll miss knocking the old stitch over a new one and knit into both on the next round without feeling the difference under my fingertips, or I'll just out and out drop a stitch, which usually I do notice but can't easily address without light.  In this case I caught myself, and I just had to stop knitting till I could get home and fix it.

This particular patch of Ouch was a combination problem that took some time to repair, but I got there eventually...

... and then it was on to checking all around for other messes that require dropping stitches a long way down and then laddering them back up again.  So much easier to do that sort of thing before you have a heel flap and gusset decreases to contend with.

This is where the sock sits today, and I am more in love than ever.  These are not my colours, brown isn't even 'fashionable' aka easy to find in local home decorating shops right now, and there are no rooms at the house not already committed to a particular colour family.  Still: love how peaceful I feel looking at this setup.  Maybe my office, if I don't put a vintage red stripe schoolhouse light in there?

I'll ponder that while you go have a great weekend.  We are closing the cottage on ours, and not finishing till late on Monday, so if I miss you that day I'll make it back Tuesday and then all should be back to normal with my posting schedule.

Take care and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Every morning

It's so pretty where I live now, I have been really wanting to show you pictures... but I keep forgetting to bring my camera out with me on sunny mornings.  So yesterday I made a point of being ready!

Here's what I pop out to when I leave the building:

A lovely little path through a very small park.  There isn't much to speak of in the park in spite of the gorgeous gates, but the wall fountain on the left is enough for me.  I love the old building it's set against, with all the ivy spilling over it, don't you?

Across from the park is the side terrace for fancy restaurant I still haven't managed to try out, in spite of wanting to for years and years.

One day last week I spotted a lot of fancy-dress people on the sidewalk outside the restaurant and realized the place was hosting a wedding.  Sure enough, though I got into the park to make my way home, a lady was waiting for me to leave so she could shut the gates behind me - the wedding party got the park AND the fountain AND the restaurant's terrace all for itself!  If Pete and I weren't already married I would totally want to book that for the big day.  Bonus: a dear musician friend turned out to be working at said wedding and we snuck in a quick visit thanks to the very patient gate lady.

Of course the best thing is the church across the street, whose picture is almost always being taken by a visitor to the city as I pass.  It's famous for its bells - I think I've mentioned that it's the only one in North America with a full set, and on Sunday afternoons you can hear them in concert.  It is completely fabulous.

Coming home is not as gorgeous, but I still get to pass through a quiet lane...

and the flowers at our door are stunning.

Earlier in the summer I happened to be coming home while landscapers put these planters together, complete with trees in the middle, all the way down the lane between our buildings.  If our maintenance fees are covering that, and I am pretty sure they do, I say Yay!  It's not something I could ever manage at the house, and it's incredibly lovely to come back to.  Totally compensates for all the boxes still stacked up inside our actual unit.

As pretty as all this is, there are other advantages to this location, including a really cool shop a block down the road where you can buy vintage schoolhouse lights and furniture and other interesting things.  I found this unusual 1940s light there for our soon-to-be kitchen:

And a mostly-matchy striped one I think would be great over the sink, or maybe in my office?

I love the stripe on the bottom of the teapot print one.

The shades came with fixtures, which Ray says he can spray black for me if I want, and I think I might because we are looking at black fixtures everywhere else to go with black doorknobs and a black metal stair railing.   We had planned on wood originally, but the stairs are going to be on the narrow side as it is - it may be growing taller, but it's still going to be a very small house - and going with a metal option will save a good chunk of space for passage.  Needless to say I've been photographing all the amazing 1930s stair hardware I can find downtown to show our contractor (there is lots.)

There are still some neighbourhood bits I didn't get to show you, a bit farther afield from the lanes.  Next time I have time to get out with my camera in good light I will grab those images for you.

Till then, have a wonderful day and I'll see you tomorrow!  There has been some knitting this week tucked in between all the cleaning and shifting and unpacking, and of course I have to show you that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A nap blanket knit

I may have shown you this vintage 1970s handknit blanket a few years ago, but just in case...

This is the blanket that lives on the pullout sofa at our cottage.  It's got orange in it because from approximately 1973 to 2012 when I took matters into my own hands, the floor to ceiling windows in the living room were bracketed by bright orange curtains, the height of interior decor glam from that earlier time.  (After I changed them for floral ones, a frequent visitor to a neighbour's cottage expressed sadness because the orange was visible through the trees from the middle of the lake, serving as her landmark for nearing 'home'.  My point exactly.)  The original sofa was similarly fashionable in bright green slubbed plaid, with some orange in it and I think dark brown too.  Yep, you just go ahead and picture that while I get the next photograph set up.

Okay! here we are.

The stitch is one you will instantly recognize for its popularity in blanket knitting.  I am not even going to look up the name of it, because I am ignoring a ton of tidying and unpacking to write today's post, and because you will probably know it anyway, heh.  Suffice to say it is super easy and produces this very pretty, stretchy fabric.  It is perfect for naps.

There are several homey things at the cottage that were contributions from a visiting aunt.  The sheets that hang in front of two doorless closets were selected, and a fold-over for the curtain rod stitched down, by this aunt.  I love, LOVE these two sheets, which are striped in true 1970s fashion but in fabulous still-current colours that match the rest of the mostly-found decor in these two rooms... I am endlessly grateful to this aunt for preserving them for our enjoyment today.

But the blanket is a two-aunt project.  The closet-curtain aunt, and the one who owned the cottage and invited her to stay in the summertime.  The two of them would sit down on the green sofa in the evenings and knit away at their respective panels, perhaps thinking of future sleepy guests who might one day curl up underneath it for a much-needed nap after breathing in fresh air under the hemlock trees and swimming for hours under the hot sun beaming from a cloudless sky... sigh.

(Can you tell that I'm writing this from my condo desk, as someone nine stories up prunes dead blossoms from their terrace planters and tosses them down onto the ferny leaves planted in front of my window?)

When they were done and had stitched all the panels together, they added orange tassels to the points produced by their stitch pattern:

It goes without saying that the yarn they used is acrylic... from my experience as a person whose own cottage knitting - in wool - was partially eaten by moths there, I can say with confidence that it was the right choice for this blanket.  After all, it sits out all year, even after we've closed up.

We're almost out of nap opportunities for this summer, but isn't it nice to think that those aunts will be keeping us cosy again next year, as they have since those relaxing evenings forty years past?

And that's me for today.  Hope you're having a wonderful day and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A view for a Tuesday

A couple of weeks ago Pete and I were urged by a very nice lady in Bancroft, Ontario to turn right just a little north of where we were, and drive up a very very steep and twisty road, and hike a short trail - all so we could see the view from up there.

As you may recall, I am super uncomfortable with heights and it didn't help that the angle of the steep and twisty road was very similar to that used by airplanes taking off.  Thankfully there is a good viewing area built onto the edge of the rocky outcropping at the end of the trail, with a nice high railing and even a long bench for anybody who might be exhausted from the hike.  (not me, for once! though it did feel safer to sit way back there on the bench.)

The viewing structure was especially welcome because look:

Straight down, my friends.  A little further south there is a similar rock face at similar elevation but no vegetation, and if you drop into the Tim Horton's on Bancroft's main street and sit at the window with your coffee, you can watch rock climbers making their way upward while feeling enormously grateful that your idea of a good hobby is knitting.

Still, once you get used to the Canadian Shield coming up quite so much higher than it does at places like the cottage, where lake water just laps comfortingly over it, the view is pretty spectacular and uplifting.

Especially with clouds overhead filtering light in a moving pattern down over the fields and forests.

Our planet is incredibly lovely, don't you think?

Hope you find something beautiful to look at today and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fishbowl knits

More cottage knitting from this neglectful blog-writer:

I'm not entirely sure how I missed posting the last two days of last week but it probably had something to do with the crazy workload.  Back now! and ready to show off not just one finished sock but also, one adorable knitting bowl.

I am sure I remember my aunt and uncle serving salad at the cottage table in this giant wooden fish bowl.  I wouldn't be comfortable putting food in it now... when I found it again the finish was a bit marred, and inside there were some reminiscences left by mice (ahem) which I cleaned out with Lysol. It was one of those unforgettable experiences that I was certain would appear at the forefront of my mind every time I put salad ingredients or potato chips in it.  But after much rinsing I felt it would be wonderful for holding my knits-in-progress at the cottage. 

Then the summer went sideways and we never even one of the 'long stay' visits I had hoped would finally happen.  The poor bowl sat all summer looking sad and empty, and this past weekend, when we dashed north for just a day to start the closing process, I put all my travel knits inside just to see how it looked.

Next summer, I will totally use this thing.  Heck, I might even bring it home to the house, which will be done by then.

For now though, let's just admire the pretty sock for which I now need to knit a mate, ugh.

Are you totally tired of looking at socks yet?  I think you must be.  I think I might be, and I also think I have an ominously large stack of socks that need toes grafted and ends run in after all these months of mindless knitting.  I have knit so many fingering-weight socks I am pretty sure I will feel like I'm knitting with strung-together macaroni when I finally pick up some yarn and needles for boot weight socks. 

On the upside, I should have a nearly-adequate number of socks knit to the right length for autumn comfort.  Because fall is coming, you know.  The lush green planting outside my window is turning brown at the edges and the daytime temperatures are not quite so punishing any more.  Pretty soon it will be urgent for me to finish my pretty green cowl and maybe even knit a hat to go with it... h'mmmmm.

Meanwhile: go have a wonderful day.  See you tomorrow (I promise!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If socks could decorate

It's August, and I still haven't had my spinning wheel out for peaceful summer spinning.  I haven't unpacked the knitting bag I used to carry back and forth from condo to house.  I haven't even grafted the toes of the sixteen pairs of socks I've knit, give or take, since I started packing to move.

But I sure have been cranking out new fodder for the grafting needle.

This new sock is lying on my white sofa.

It really is white under all that white - it's white leather, and even though it was graded suitable for a life as high traffic as one that includes crayon-wielding kids and muddy-pawed dogs, I have been scared to let it be great on its own.  I mean truly: we bought it for the incredibly comfy pullout sofa inside, and we could afford it because it was the floor model, so it's not like I went into this with a clear head. 

Also I'm not mad for the shade of white (chalk) against the walls' white (whipped butter).  Also I have nowhere else to store those white blankets.  And the sure-not-to-fit slipcover I bought to protect this thing just looks terrible on its own. 

(we won't talk about the fact that I didn't properly commit to either grey or beige when I was buying slipcover and nap blankie stuff.)

Honestly, I think storage is probably the big issue here... though there are a ton of closets in this condo, especially compared to what gets built today or what got built with my house, there isn't actually a basement.  Our storage room is already full of stuff I would actually be very pleased indeed to be able to get at if it weren't clogged at the entrance, and our closets are full too.  I have to keep my vacuum cleaner in the laundry room and it's such an ordeal getting it in and out I'm moving it as little as possible, with disastrous results.

What I really need to do, then, is get rid of the clutter.  Or at least hide it better. 

I mean, would it kill me to run some fabric down behind these IKEA cheapo wardrobe panels so we don't have to look all the time at the Christmas boxes?  Which should totally be down in the storage locker... and will be, one way or another, as soon as this Christmas has come and gone.  I know myself well enough to be sure I would not want to be hunting for that stuff this November.

Another factor in our current situation is embarrassing because I'm a very creative person and I know I have made many a cute nest but... I seem to have lost my decorating skills.  I'm still very good at taking a bunch of furniture I can't get rid of and finding a functional place for it to be.  I've just lost all ability to make it look like it was meant to be there.  I still approach paint selection with a plan in my head, but the plan is centered around my putting in the least possible effort.

True story:  the other day Ray and I were talking about putting crown molding into the bedrooms of the house and he said he would go for clean walls, a nice sharp edge, very simple and uncluttered.  And I said we have that at the condo and I'm finding it very stark.  Then we looked at each other and I said, You think it's because I made you paint every single wall in there white?

So I am feeling like I need to take some refresher decorating courses or else hire somebody before we get to that stage with the house.  I would love, LOVE to live in a magazine spread for a little while, wouldn't you?  Someplace neat and warm and inviting that doesn't lure you away from what you should really be doing.  Because your home can do that, if you're a writer and there's newspapers to be gathered up.  Even the worst housework will always tell you it's more important than writing.

And with all that in mind, I have to tell you that when I photographed my new sock in progress I wished it could decorate for me.

I love these colours together.  I love how they make the white look like a frame, rather than the main event.

I love knitting them, and I think I might go do that right now.  Because it's that or move furniture again.

Have a lovely evening however you spend it, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Victory is sock

Ha! finished, as planned.

Sometimes I think I have missed my calling as a puppeteer because I could swear that longsuffering second sock is trying to say something smug in this shot. 

I mean, here I am, a person who could pass for a grownup most of the time - in small doses, at least - with a rather large collection of stuffed animals.  Betty White has a room for her teddy bears according to one of her books, and she freely admits she visits that room regularly, but mine dance around and play and fold socks for me and things.  They have personality

Well I will graft shut the toe of that sock eventually.  Then it shouldn't look like it wants to talk... until one day when I'm folding them back right side out after a wash and have it briefly on my hand sock-puppet style.

Meanwhile: sock done! And now I am on to moving the furniture again and trying to clear away a few more boxes.  Everything goes on hold at home during cottage season, and in spite of this week's heat wave I know I will have to be in a position to dig out the fall things soon.

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

If socks could talk

I have a sock at the chompy stage, and you know I can never resist that.

"Hi other sock! You know what, she is totally going to finish me in the car this weekend!"


"Yep!  Definitely getting done.  I might even get grafted before you do.  Whoosh!  That's me zipping past you and first into the fall sock drawer."

"Maybe.  Or maybe I'll get grafted before she even packs for the weekend.  You know she wants my needles for the pair coming after us."

"Oh dang.  I really wanted to get finished before you.  I mean, she's made me wait so long."

"I know, I know.  But she loves you a lot and she did take you to see that movie she really liked."

"Which one?"

"I have no idea.  I just know you saw one."

"Well, I guess that's something."

"It's big something.  Here, let me give you a hug."

"Aw, thanks."

"No problem. It doesn't really matter which of us gets finished first because she's going to be wearing us together for a long time."


"Yep, we're a team.  And she'll take good care of us, too.  No holes for ages.  We're going to see a whole lot of the inside of those boots, I promise."

"Boots are so exciting.  I can't wait!"

"Just another couple of months, buddy.  You can make it."

"You know she's totally finishing me this weekend in the car, right?"

Or maybe they discuss Nietzsche.

That said: I am TOTALLY getting the second sock done in the car.  And probably not making it back here on Monday because I have a super busy three days coming up.  I'll try though.  Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for hanging out with me all week!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Another house update

We have a roof!

Well, we've had a roof for a little while, but I didn't get to see it in person till this week.  It's very pretty and I like the pitch. It was a little worrying to me of little faith when I was just looking at the drawings.

You know when you do this sort of project you don't want to be getting ideas halfway through, but sometimes opportunities arise.  Like, we were adamant we didn't want to put a door from the kitchen to the back yard because the only place to put it was onto our 25 year old (at least) lilac bush.  That plant has brought so much joy and fragrance into the house every spring, and it's what sealed the deal for Pete when I wanted us to buy the place, and we wanted to protect it at almost all costs.

But then, when Ray opened up the walls in the basement and saw the state they were in, he decided that interior waterproofing was not going to cut it, and we'd have to go with exterior.  Had it not been a basement leak that led to Pete deciding a renovation was now necessary many tears might have been shed because... exterior waterproofing meant digging up our lilac.  Plus hello, expense?  But you have to roll with the punches and we went for it.  And the waterproofers were able to save some of the lilac, so, yay!

Upshot is: the lilac is no longer planted against our foundation, so we decided to put in a door after all.

Which means we get a deck.  A deck that must be designed, a process which reminds me why haven't had one all these years - it'll block our basement windows, it'll hog the yard, it'll waste space underneath unless we take stairs down and build it at ground-ish level, it will be a drag to cut grass around unless we landscape it which means still more loss of yard, it will cast shadow on the only sunny patch we have, we will have to Make Longstanding Decisions which I really hate doing... bleah.

On the upside, apart from having a barbeque and being able to take the heat outside at suppertime in summer, a deck will be SO PRETTY to look at from the kitchen, don't you think?  Even if I don't use it a lot, which I don't really expect to unless I get a big umbrella for shade and solve some other bug and noise issues we have back there and source some kind of outdoor carpet so I don't drop knitting needles down into the abyss below it - hey, you know it'll happen.  But can you imagine the photo opportunities for Hugs if we can drape it with lovely plants??

Okay, that's it for me today - lots of packing up to do for our last proper weekend at the cottage.  After this, we're doing a three-part close which I hope is less awful than it sounds because shudder.

Take care and I'll see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Well that's a relief

Today, the first shipment of the new Vesper club yarn arrived - you know, with the new yarn base I've been so scared about?

And in addition to being a really fabulous colour combination, as always (Beach Glass, so sweet) it looks very similar to the 100% merino Julia was using before.  I knew I didn't need to worry really, but I'm programmed to worry and this is a huge relief.

Can you tell which strands are the new yarn and which is the original?

They all look very similar to me.  But the blue just to the right of the orange strand on top is an older yarn.  I won't have to change needle size or stitch count at all.

I may have to knit faster though, because the new yarn is even softer than the original. 

mmmmm, soft socks.

Hope you've had a nice surprise today too and I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Home decor tips: power outage ready

This summer, our fourth with a cottage, was the one that taught me something I hadn't realized about being ready for a power outage.

My uncle and aunt spent a lot of summers in this cottage and in others from their childhood too, so they knew the value of kerosene lamps and candle holders with hurricane glass over them.  I wasn't a fan of the kerosene lamps myself and gave them to a neighbour, but I never even noticed the candle holder screwed to the wall outside their bedroom until a couple of years ago when I finally got around to washing and dusting the glass.  It's such a great idea because the power can be pretty unreliable in our remote and forested location.

Normally, we aren't affected by outages.  If they happen during the day, we just crack open a book or play cards, knowing that there's plenty of snacks and beverages at room temperature - no need to open the fridge door or pine for boiled water for tea.  If they happen in the night, we're asleep.  If they last more than a few hours and the food in the fridge spoils - well, we don't keep more than a meal or two's worth of perishables in there anyway, for just that reason.

But a couple of weekends ago we were at the cottage during a very heavy run of thunderstorms, one of which extended over the entire evening - the time between dark and bedtime where you need at least a little light.  And while we do have flashlights for emergencies or nighttime trips to the dock for starwatching, we don't always remember exactly where we left them.  Sometimes we also forget to buy batteries to replace the few that don't work, which reduces supply.

So as the storm got louder and the sky got darker and our lights began to flicker, I began to gather candles and matches.

Earlier, I had made a display of my aunt and uncle's stash of these vital items in our guest room:

Matches in the water- and airtight tall tin, candlesticks in the rectangular red one.  My aunt had faithfully wrapped each candle in plastic wrap, which kept any of them from melting onto each other on hot summer days as the years passed.  During my search through various drawers for candle holders I found the pair of wooden ones and the small silver one and set them up alongside the tins, to be ready for lighting after dark.

I had come across this hurricane lamp few years ago, and set it decoratively at the back of an open shelf in the guest room - I wanted it handy, but I also wanted guests to have a place for their odds and ends.

It wasn't until the storm that I remembered it actually serves a purpose.

Similarly, there are two wall-mounted tealight holders in the cottage - one on the wall between the living room and kitchen, and one in what is for us the guest bedroom, formerly my aunt and uncle's own.  And there is where I added a personal touch:

The candle snuffer, placed attractively over the mounting bracket where I can always find it.

Our power never did go out.  But it was very satisfying to know that even without flashlights there are enough secure, protected candle holders on the cottage walls to light us through the space after night has fallen, as well as a portable lantern to see us through toothbrushing and pyjama-finding.  As for the candlesticks - to avoid drips on the counter and for a little extra fire protection, I placed the three of them on the big red tray that normally stands on a shelf as slightly battered, slightly rusty wall art:

(if I may be forgiven for reposting an old photograph.)

I really love it when household things can serve more than one purpose, don't you?  We did arrange for a gas fireplace at the being-renovated house so we have a heat source if the power goes out there in winter, but I am totally finding spots for wall-mounted candles when our house is all done.  Functional home decor!  we all need it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A trip to textile heaven

Last week, because the weather was WAY too cold to justify getting into the lake, Pete and I finally got into Bancroft with enough time to visit the museum there.

And you know what museums are for, right?  They are for looking at textiles used by people in previous generations.  Well, the museum in Bancroft not only doesn't disappoint, it has more in the textile department than any other small museum I've visited!

There were so many textiles, in fact, that an elaborately knitted coverlet was displayed folded up inside a baby's cot.

Remember the lighthouse in Newfoundland where one of these was proudly displayed on a bed?  Yeah.  This room alone had a wall of white cotton dresses for children,

and later-vintage, more colourful dresses for children,

And this hugely cute young lady's dress from, what, the 1920s do you think?

Pretty sure those lace curtains were handmade, too.  Even the bed was covered in textiles.

Next door was the grownup's room, and it was more of the same.

I was particularly impressed by these two wedding dresses:

So, so gorgeous.  I don't know whether you can see those black gloves on the bed's pillow, but they remind me of the truly terrifying ladies' gloves in a display case on the main floor of the museum.  The entire width of those gloves would have been a tight squeeze over three-quarters of my own hand, and let's not even talk about the fingers, which may have been wide enough for a twig.  Leather shrinks over time I know, but honestly.  Women must have been a lot tinier a hundred years ago.

After this room, I went into one that is even more amazing.

Quilts, sewing machines, laundry tools, and a super cute train set I didn't photograph, sorry.  I love community museums like this, where the current residents from multi-generational local families donate their ancestors' everyday items.  There are so many washboards here, and it reinforces for me how essential they were for every home.

Speaking of washboards, check out this labour-saving device:

It sure isn't space saving, said the girl with the tiny house.  Let's take a closer look:

In case the print here is too small to read on your screen, I'll transcribe it here.

Washing Machine circa 1890 - 1900
It incorporated the principle of the old, old washboard - ridges were necessary to get clothes clean.  Note the ridges on the old wringer.  The top of this machine came down and the ridged cage was rocked to and fro. My grandmother insisted on one similar - then reverted back to the tub and board!

Gotta say: I'm finding the same stuff today with all the renovation.  A lot of what's hot right now on the reno market is pretty, till you start using it.  There's a reason some designs are timeless, people!

Okay, let's look more closely at these gorgeous quilts.

I found the piecing on the blue and white quilt to be especially striking.  Quilts: so cool.

This design is Kansas Star, if you didn't know it already (I didn't!)

What's your best museum find?