It is minus 30 or so around here today - and probably will dip lower tonight. We are warned and we are careful. Boots, coats, scarves, toques all go on before venturing outside for any reason. The Arctic High is upon us and , Baby, it's cold out there. So, we dress for the cold...and ....we dance!
Libby is having a birthday tomorrow. She will be six years old and we are celebrating the life and times of this dear border collie who for all intents and purposes has commandeered my life.
Life would be barren indeed without this dog in it making me laugh.
Dance on sweet Libby. May we have many more birthdays to celebrate with you.
I am going to confess something right here and now. I'm a Dr Who fan. I love the entire concept of Dr. Who. I think my favourite Dr Who is...well I did love David Tennant's Dr. Who, but I'm looking forward to the new Dr Who when he arrives on the scene. I spent last weekend, laid up after a very bad fall, knitting ribbed toques for Christmas presents and watching past episodes. There was a blizzard raging outside and the temperatures were hovering around minus 25 with blowing and drifting snow, so being inside under a blanket with knitting and Dr Who seemed like a good choice.
The back garden wound up looking like this.
Those are actually two foot high plant pots hiding in the drift back there. They are upside down to protect them from freezing, thawing and then cracking.
There is something strangely comforting about doing row upon row of rib stitch. It is sort of mesmerizing without being hypnotizing, if you get my meaning.
I have completed two toques, all part of my "handmade Christmas" gifting this year, and am more than half way through the third one. Toques are essential head gear in Canada in winter. And I love the elasticity of this pattern which actually is a free Ravelry pattern entitled "Simple Soldier's Hat". You can knit the thing back and forth on two needles, or join it into a circle to knit in the round...round, and round and round, knit 2 stitches, purl two stitches until your circle is 9.5 inches long at which time you start the deceases. Because rib stitch is so elastic - the thing fits like a toque should and stretches over most or all heads.
Rib stitch keeps you on your toes and is way more interesting to knit. Rib stitch says pay attention or you'll make a mistake but it is still simple enough that you can keep up with the plot of the television show.
Watch out for the blue box.
The Bathroom is finished! Arctic Blue paint on the walls replaces the "tasteful grey" paint job we inherited along with some of the other unfortunate paint colour choices we have covered over in this funny little house.
The gorgeous vessel sink is in place on the white vanity
Towel hooks are up
The lovely big soaking tub looks like it always was in place and OH MY is it a luxury to sink into all that hot water for some hydro therapy now that winter is here.
I absolutely love these green glass tiles I embedded into the white subway tiles. It was an amazing amount of work, probably more than I should have taken on. But isn't that always the way? If you don't know how hard or long a job is going to be, you jump in with both feet and boundless enthusiasm - at least I do. I think I had actually tiled one small piece of countertop before this. And I made my design impossibly complicated. But it works! Would I do it again - well maybe, but not so hair raisingly complex for sure.
There are one or two niggly little things to still attend to in the new bathroom but they will happen and in the meantime, here it is, revealed in all its blue arctic glory.
Where else can you learn how to knit socks AND how to felt them like a manic?
Things were relatively sedate while the knitting was taking place in the first two sessions at Stash, www.stashlounge.com. We had 5 students in the class, and ran them through the rudiments of sock knitting. The socks looked like they were fit for the friendly giant when they were finished. They were all anticipating the last class.
Of course Saturday, Calgary was in the midst of a snow storm. One of our intrepid students couldn't make it in because of the road conditions, but the other four were ready, willing and able to play in hot soapy water. It seemed like a good thing to do on a snowy winter day.
I had plungers, buckets, the flour tarped, and towels laid down on the Stash Classroom floor by the time Monica, Kat, JC and Sarah arrived. Our Stash team had been boiling water and saving it in thermos's. We were ready. I had my fingers crossed. I think the ladies were a bit shocked to find their Christmas Stockings unceremoniously dropped into the buckets, and covered with boiling water and soap but they were game to roll up their sleeves and start the work of distressing their precious knitting with the plungers to make them felt.
Things got a bit wet as the plungers splashed the water up over the sides of the buckets but everyone soon got into a rhythm and got the bucking buckets under control by holding them between their feet.
Fulling is an inexact science. We weren't sure how long the process was going to take. Sarah brought rubber gloves so we could pick the socks out of the steamy water from time to time to check the felting progress. That was my job.
Kat's stocking was the first to felt...she was sure it was because she chose blue, her favourite colour. Monica's red sock took the longest to felt - red can be like that sometimes. JC's green sock fulled beautifully, and Sarah maroon and red creation looked great too.
Once the socks were felted we rinsed them in the buckets refilled with cold water, and then rolled them in the towels to squeeze out all the water.
Then it was time to tour the Stash shop for embellishment ideas. It was a fun afternoon.
This kind of felting works beautifully for small objects and single items. Bigger things should probably be fulled in a washing machine.
My Grandfather, James Johnston Greer, my mother's father, fought in World War One. When he signed up he left at home a loving wife and four small children and shipped out to France to fight. This shot was taken in 1918.
He was one of the fortunate soldiers. He came back to Canada and his family, more or less in one piece, and he sent back from Paris before he headed into the trenches, some lovely, impractical souvenirs - a silk carriage cover. silk handkerchiefs embroidered and edged with french lace. I still have them tucked away.
Family history is vague on just how many years he was gone. I think they were all just so relieved that he came back. So many young Canadian men from that first world war did not - over 60,000 according to records which is an astounding loss for what was then such a young country with a small population..
This is the day we remember them - the day the Armistice was signed - the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month , and this is the day we remember all the other wars and conflicts where our young bright people have paid such a high price to keep us safe and we march and we lay poppy wreaths in the snow and we read out their names so we won't forget and we pray for peace.
As promised a while back - here is a tutorial to knit a Christmas stocking and then full it in the washing machine to turn it into a felted sock ready for hanging by the Chimney with care in anticipation of Santa Claus filling it.
This sock measures 13 inches with the cuff turned down, and is approximately 10 inches wide at the toe - plenty big enough and strong enough to fill with goodies. You could personalize it with a name, with applique, perhaps with embroidery. whatever you do, your sock will be unique and fun. So...knit on, and enjoy.
SOCK – KNITTED AND FULLED
( fulling is a
process of shrinking or felting a knitted item)
– 2 balls 100% non-washable Worsted weight wool – two strands held
Set of 5 double pointed needles , size 7 mm
used:Knit Stitch (k), Purl stitch (p),Slip
one stitch (sl 1), Slip, slip, knit (ssk), Knit 2 together ( k2og)Purl two together (p2tog).
Instructions:Cuff and Leg-Cast on 56
stitches with two strands of the worsted wool held together.
Divide onto 4 needles as follows:Knit 14 onto needles #1, pick up needle # 2
and knit 14 stitches, pick up needle #3 and knit 14 stitches, pick up needle #4
and knit the last 14 stitches.Leave
your cast on tail end fairly long to note where your rounds begin and end.
Joining up your square:Making sure there are no twists and your stitches are hanging straight,
bring needle #4 around to meet needle #1.Next, transfer the first stitch on needle #1 onto the end of needle
#4, Now, take the last stitch on needle #4 over that transferred stitch and
place it on needle #1.You have
successfully joined your square and are ready to begin your knitting.
Round 2: Purl
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 for 3 inches to give you a decent cuff
for your Christmas sock.
Round 3:Knit every round
until your Christmas stocking leg from the cast on edge measures 10-1/2 inches
finishing with needle #4 and ready to begin needle #1 .
Heel Flap:Knit the 14 stitches on needle #1, turn.Now knit back and pick up 14 stitches from
needle #4 – 28 stitches on one needle.Working back and forth only on these stitches, knit every row for 10
ridges.End with a wrong side row.
Row 1: Knit to middle of row (14 St), knit 2, ssk, K1, turn
Row 2: sl 1 p5, p2tog, p1, turn
Row 3 sl 1, k6, ssk, k1, turn
Row 4, sl 1 p7, p2tog, p1 turn
Continue in this pattern, knitting or purling to the stitch
before the gap and then work over thegap byssk on the knit row or p2tog on the purl row
until you reach the end of the last purl row, ready to knit the next row. You
should have 16 stitches left on the needle and a lovely turned heel.
Knit the first 8 stitches.Pick up a new needle, knit the last 8 stitches.With the same needle pick up and knit 10 stitches
along the heel flap edge by picking up between the ridges.Knit across needles #2 and #3 as usual.
With a new needle, pick up and knit 10 stitches along the
other flap edge in the same manner, and
knit the 8 stitches waiting on the first needle.You are now back working in the round.
Round 1:With needle
#1 knit to last 3 st, k2tog, k 1, with needles #2 and #3 knit, Needle #4, k1,
ssk, knit to end.
Round 2: knit around
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 56 stitches remain- 14 stitches on each needle.
Round 3:knit around for 3-4 more inches.
Round 1: K1, K2tog
Rounds 2, 3 and 4: knit around
Round 5: K2 tog around
Round 6: Knit
Round 7: k2tog around
Round 8: Knit.
Cut yarn, thread end through yarn needle, draw needle
through all stitches on needles, gently pull to close up the hole and fasten
off.Tail in all ends.
Fulling (Felting) Your Christmas Stocking
Machine wash your completed sock in hot water with soap – do
not leave the sock unattended in the machine – Just before the washing cycle is
complete,stop the machine, don’t let it
drain away all that lovely hot water and soap.Check the state of the sock.You
might have to turn the dial back and put the sock through another wash cycle,
or part of a cycle before allowing it to rinse and spin.Once you are happy with the fulling process,
let the machine rinse and complete the cycle.Air dry the sock.
Making a hanger :For a
crochet hanger, use one strand of your wool, chain 25.Attach the loop to the back of the rolled
cuff.You might also make a small piece
of twisted cord, or a nice piece of ribbon as a hanger.
Embellishing ideas:If you want to decorate your
Christmas sock, your imagination is your only limit.How about embroidering snowflakes on the
sock, or sewing buttons, beads and bells on the sock.Perhaps you could embroider a name on your
sock to personalize it so Santa won’t be confused.Personalizing your sock is half the fun ,so
enjoy…and have a very Merry Christmas!
I'm sitting at my desk this quiet Monday morning, trying to catch up after a very busy weekend helping people at Stash Needle Art Lounge in Inglewood. This is the darling little yarn shop I talk about from time to time, which has just relocated right onto the main thoroughfare of the district - 9th Avenue, into a converted old house. They have done a smashing job of re-defining the space. And they are busy let me tell you! They opened at this space 2 weeks ago, right after our Thanksgiving weekend and the knitters are pouring in.
From my point of view, it is great to be back in the business. This is like reading the best parts of the book - I get to help people, talk about yarn and knitting and crochet (which I happen to know a bit about) touch all the new stuff, help organize the new space, and then hand it all over to someone else to adminster. And I'm doing it part time only and I'm doing some teaching. It doesn't get better than that! Next up on the teaching roster for me is the Felted Christmas Sock which should be great fun and runs November 2nd, 9th and 16th. I'll post a tutorial on the fine art of knitting and fulling while making a Christmas sock in a few days.There is still lots of time to knit the sock and dude it up in time to hang by the chimney with care.
Yesterday we had our first blizzard of the season (sigh).
Today the back garden looks like this: All those foot prints are courtesy of Libby the Border Collie who as we know, loves snow.
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday we watched the storm through the shop windows while we helped cold people pick out warm cozy and soft yarns to knit toques, scarves, cowls and mittens. I like snow, although not as much as Libby does. What I'm not so fond of is scraping the windshield of the car and pushing the snow off the car roof.
According to the weather guru's though, this is all going to melt and the warmer temperatures will be back in time for Hallowe'en night so all the little ghosties and goblins won't have to wear their parkas and mittens over their costumes. We'll see.