Happy Blogiversary to Me!

November 28, 2008

As of yesterday it has been one year since I started this watery knitting blog, and I’m having my first ever contest to celebrate.  I’m leaving the contest open for one week to give anyone interested a chance to enter, as I know some of you lazy people aren’t at work and are home enjoying turkey, pies, knitting time, and shopping.  (I am at work and am having a very, very, good time writing my lovely technical manual that was due months ago, and would definitely not choose to be at home knitting and eating, ever!!) In the last year I’ve had a lot of fun with the blog, and its given me the priceless opportunity to share everyday life with my friends and family.  My parents especially, as they live far away, I think enjoy the opportunity to see what kind of trouble I’m currently getting into.  Life is an adventure, even when you are doing something mundane if you treat it as one.  And adventures are always fun aren’t they?  At least you end up with a good story to tell…

The contest is very simple; leave a comment by next Friday describing what you feel is the Canadian identity.  Canadians have historically had an identity crisis, and regularly try and figure it who and what we are via expensive conferences and bills in parliament.  As a Canadian who has left my country for a number of years, and come back, this is an interesting question to me, as some facets of our identity are very clear and distinct to me.  I”m very curious to hear what people have to say!

The prize is a good one; a Canadian Care Package.  I’ve already got some goodies lined up and it will be packed full of Made in Canada Yum.  The judges are my Mum and Dad, they get to pick the winner.  They are going to be the most impartial judges I can find, and also have an interesting perspective given that they have been living outside of Canada for over 8 years, and are also moving back home.  The prize will ship anywhere!

Good luck! 

skating-and-high-tea-015

High Tea at the Banff Springs

November 27, 2008

When one is in Banff, one simply must sample the high tea at the Banff Springs Hotel.  To do otherwise would be simply uncivilized.  Now we, myself, my Mum, my Dad, and my brothers MIL (my BMIL?) did not run into the Queen, but I’m sure she pops round for a cuppa when she can.  She is awfully busy you know with running the huge Commonwealth.  The ingredients in the high tea are sublime, start with one part incredible view:

the-view the-view-2

Add a cup of tea with milk (honey and one lump or two of sugar if you so desire)

tea

A Victorian Scone with Devonshire cream and jam (My new favorite food of all time is Devonshire cream.  After I had declared this new truth my Dad mentioned that our family is originally from Devon in England, which perhaps explains a few things.)

victorian-scones

And the piece de resistance, the Tray of Delectables.  I made it through the bottom plate, the middle plate, and took a stab at the top plate but then ran out of steam.  I blame my missing major internal organ for my failure.  (gallbladder).  I can now proudly say that I have tried cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.  I felt just like Jane Austen, but I wonder if Jane ever had such good smoked salmon treats?

tea-tray

The next time you are in Banff, you simply must look me up and we shall put on our hats, pinafores, crinolines, and have a cuppa at the Banff Springs.  I do think I need a Victorian Shawl to match my Victorian Scone.

Is that I look better in my mind’s eye than I really do on ice!  Perhaps that is for the best.  On Sunday the whole family came out, well at least my parents, to the Olympic Oval for my skating, and it was a great day as we were the only people there.  Instead of 400.5 people skating around us and staring, women hockey players on the other rink, it was nice and quiet.  My Dad had me spin with my arms in the air just THERE which isn’t as easy as it sounds.  I got real dizzy with that, doing it over and over.  But he is the artist, and you don’t argue with whatever inspires the artist.  For most of the day I was doing really well on axles, and practicing my new techniques on sowcows (which I’m sure is spelled differently) and double toes.  As I’m mostly thinking about the entrances to jumps, I’m not landing them very well.  But its GETTING BETTER!  And as Mr. J. learned, no laughing allowed!  Its better!!!  And since we had all the cameras out, here is my rather stiff sit spin, that is also getting better, and well you should have seen the one before this one, and the one after.  Much better!

I’ve been working on the first real jump that you learn which is an axle.  Its 1.5 rotations, and is a bit more difficult than others to learn (or relearn in my case) as you take off on your left foot, and land with your right.  I do think that when I get through this learning phase, which should end, oh sometime before my 40th birthday I hope, my axle and other jumps will be better than they ever were as a kid.  The attempt at a video didn’t quite turn out as hoped (i.e. perfectly landed) but it is still highly amusing anyhoo!

The time is almost here…

November 21, 2008

Let the winter fun begin!  The average temperature is going down, down, down, its snowed a few inches, and it is staying.  The ice isn’t melting, but forming thicker and thicker layers.  The ski resorts are getting deeper and deeper bases.  And I’m getting very, very excited, because soon, I can do this again:

waltz-4

Ice Skating!  Cross Country Skiing!  Snowshoeing!  Snow ball fights!  Tobogganing!  Woohoo! 

Of course the plunging temperatures are an unfortunate necessity for all this fun.  Yesterday it was -8 oC (17 oF) when I went off to the bus stop, and when the wind blows its like a knife finding every little gap in your clothing.  So far I’m wearing the level 2 parka (short one, not the long one, that will come with another 10 degree drop) and my thin Noro hat has been replaced with a thicker toque, level 3.  I will upgrade to level 2 when I need full ear coverage (I think my ears freeze easily due to frostbite as a child.  I remember skin peeling off, and I’m not kidding).  Level 1 is my felted toque with built in ear flaps and a string to pull them tight!  That is warm!  Of course in a few months I shall declare -8 oC to be “not that bad, pleasant in fact” when we get out of our first -30 oC cold snap.  But until then, brrrrr! 

I think I need to make a thermos holder so that I can bring my hot chocolate with me when I go skating outdoors! 

Have a great weekend everyone, get your skates sharpened, your skis waxed, and knit a warm pair of MITTENS!!!!

And one more day to go until the weekend!  Yahoo!  Plus the President of my office was just here and, I quote “Gee you are really cranking them out this week”.  Why, yes I am!!  And I’m almost caught up.  That is as long as nothing new comes along, which is about as likely as me getting a pet musk oxen to live in my backyard.  (Wouldn’t that be heavenly?)

What else have I been working on other than work?  Well at skating my jumps are coming along, and getting better.  I’m landing more and they are almost fully rotated, and some are fully rotated!  That means that I’m doing all the turns in the air I’m supposed to before my foot touches down on the ice.  There are times when I fall on a jump, but I still think it was good as I was all the way around, which is progress!  My coach, whom I now adore, “taught” me two new jumps this week.  Its funny as I learned these jumps when I was about 10, and now I’m relearning them in a whole new, and better way.  My coach explains things so well, and it makes so much sense, that its easy to implement.  Hence my adoration of her.  She definitely gets a hat for Christmas.

I am working on a few things, but mostly mittens which have taken over my existence as I’m obsessed.  Here is a sneak preview, a full reveal of the mitten madness should occur shortly!

mmmmmittens

Button Hole Scarf:

button-hole-scarf-nov-20

The colour is terrible, and way off, but you get the idea.  I was busy knitting away on this during the retreat, and had a great time talking to people about it.  When I saw this scarf in the fall Vogue I immediately was fascinated by how it was done, as it appears woven, and at first you can’t quite figure out how they made it.  Once you read the directions, and its easy-peasy, you have a real appreciation for the design and designer.  I had a great time showing the scarf to people, explaining how easy it was to make, and mentioning it was in a recent magazine.  Its crazy how many people had the magazine, but missed this scarf, which is the very last design pictured.  And they liked the scarf!  They just hadn’t noticed it.  So that was fun, and the alpaca yarn is like butta.  I have realized I won’t have enough yarn, and have already ordered some more.

Noro Socks:

noro-socks1

I haven’t been working on these that much due to mitten madness, but I can’t wait to get to the heels.  And look at all those yummy colours coming up!  There is some black in there after the orange as well, very exciting.  Once again I can’t find the ball band, and since I did clean up for my parents I’ll really have to look around for it now.  That’s why you should never tidy up, cause then you lose things!

I remembered another rule to add to yesterdays:

An open toilet lid very quickly becomes a kitty wading pool.  Upon your return to the washroom there will be water everywhere, and wet paw prints on every known surface.

Who Knew My House Had Rules?

November 19, 2008

I always thought I was the kind of free wheeling gal that didn’t have many rules, and people like my parents could come and visit and it would be all, like, cool man!  Then I find myself beginning the visit with a huge list of rules that I had to tell them before I could go to work.  They went something like this:

1) If you leave the door to the garage open long enough, Jack will make a run for it.  He won’t go right away, he’ll think about it, but it you stand there with it open and talk to each other for awhile, he will run out and you won’t be able to catch him, cause he’s quick. 

2)  Be prepared when you walk up or down the stairs for Jack to run by you.  (I didn’t tell them that sometimes he loves to time it so that it runs between your legs as he is a dare devil).  Expect it, hang onto the railing, and just let him go by.

3) If you leave the cereal bowl on the table when we go out, a cat will be there instantly drinking the milk.  They are very smart, they know when we leave, and know they can do anything at that point.  Put the bowl in the fridge until you get back.

4) When Jack walks around you with his tail curling up like that, he wants to be patted.  He’s too cute to resist, don’t even try, just pat the little boy.

5) Its very easy to get a cat out of your room.  Make eye contact, run down the hall and hide, and the cat will chase you.  It helps if you then jump out at the cat, and chase him, but be careful he doesn’t run back in the room at that point.

6) Whomsoever has a cat on them does not have to get up, but others must do their bidding.  So sayeth we all!

And thems the rules!  (And an awful lot of them are about the boy.  Piper has been keeping to herself a bit, as she is a slow to get to know you cat.  She warms up after awhile, and when she needs a warm lap to curl up on)

The parents are coming!  The parents are coming!  And as always happens when your parents visit from the tropics, it snowed!!  Its a very snowy and icy day out there, we all skated into work this morning.  And unfortunately my parents warmer clothes are out east, not out in Calgary.  Therefore my brother has been enlisted to provide my Dad a coat, and Mum can wear some of my stuff. 

My Dad and I have the same unfortunate condition of being related to dinosaurs, which means we get cold all the time.  Plus when you live in the tropics your blood tends to thin out, and anything under 80 oF is considered “a bit cool”.  Therefore my Mum got busy making him a toque to wear up here:

dad-in-hat

That should do the trick!  (yup, me Daddio has crazy eyebrows!) 

And if that isn’t enough, there is always phase 2, for when its really, really cold out:

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Let the Festivities begin!!

The toque is the Watchmen Cap from Vogue Knitting on the Go:Hats.  A great man pattern!

Self Soothing Friday

November 14, 2008

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In the spring I had the opportunity to do some camping/cabin stay with a person who knew a few things about peoples minds.  He mentioned something very interesting, a persons ability to self-soothe.  When you feel bad, when things aren’t going well, can you make yourself feel better on your own?  I never realized how important this is for a persons well-being, and how bad it is if you cannot do it.  Perhaps it is evident to a lot of people, but I had never known the words for it, and have thought about it much since.  At work we’ve been struggling recently due to being a small start-up company that has been hit with a huge glut of work.  I’ve come to realize that every time taken off (say due to Holidays or Fridays spent at knitting camp) come with the penalty of nasty phone calls from people because we haven’t been getting stuff done on time.  But enough about that, the main point is how I’ve been making things better!!

1) Most important are cuddling with furry creatures, I recommend a cute black one and a tabby who love to be picked up and hugged.  (Seriously, one of those creatures, sometimes known as “The Queen” would have me carry her everywhere like the royalty she is).  This always makes a dark day seem brighter.

2) Happy music!  My current favorites in rotation are “Loreena McKennitt A Midwinter Night’s Dream“, and “Lighthouse Family Its a Beautiful Day”.  The first makes me feel like I’m cuddled up by a fire watching the snow fall outside, and its so quiet and peaceful.  The latter is like therapy in a song with a lead singer whose voice feels like a cuddly blanket soothing all your hurts.  Songs like “Happy, Life’s a Dream, You’re a Star”.  I feel better now, we’re all Stars!

3) I just discovered heaven in a glass, steamed eggnog and coffee from Second Cup, one of their Christmas special drinks.  I love eggnog even though it hurts my tummy and is sure to upset it.  I also love Christmas, and there is nothing like eggnog with nutmeg for Christmas (with perhaps a wee bit of something extra in there)!

4) Something to look forward to!  We are going to a private showing of the new James Bond movie tomorrow morning.  I really, really, hope its filmed somewhere warm and he has to take his shirt off a lot.  Or go swimming.  Or just stand there without his shirt on, I’m easy. 

5) Mittens.  Mittens are warm fuzzy tubes of love.  With pretty colours and patterns. 

Have a good weekend everyone!  May it be full of soothing activities!

In the final of my series, may I present some ultimate yarn p*rn and knitting crushes.  The first image is an incredible Shetland lace shawl from the 1800’s.  I now have a huge knitting crush on whomever knit this shawl, most likely made for a wedding (its about 2 m x 2 m!):

shetland-lace-shawl

There is some damage unfortunately, but the detail and the huge variety of stitches is unbelievable.  It is a family heirloom passed down, and borrowed to show off for the retreat. 

And a huge pile of mouth dropping, drooling inducing wonderfulness was all the shawls, made by Nancy herself, from Estonian Lace:

estonian-lace-shawls

Just incredible.  I finally got my copy last night, declared one of the stitch samplers in the back to be my favorite, and ordered yarn for one of the scarves.  And I have decided when something really, really good happens to me next, I deserve a ball of Qivit to make a scarf from this book.  After feeling the original, only the best will do.  Trust me, you have never felt any fibre quite so sublime before in your life. 

And the top of the knitting crushes was Ms. B and her mother Ms. E who knit this fabulous shawl:
koigu-shawl

Rumour has it they live next to Koigu.  Ms. B carried this shawl off with great panache, and perhaps it will show up in Knitty one day?  I really enjoyed meeting new friends from near and far, and sharing their experiences this weekend.  My Ravelry “friends” list has grown, and I’m enjoying seeing all the mini lace shawls show up on Ravelry as well. 

A giant storm just rolled in over the last 1/2 hour, I wonder if it will bring snow?  This week started off with a cold on my part, which means I’m only operating at about 50% brain capacity, and this morning I’ve already used up at least another 25% doing unit conversions.  If I could wave my magic wand make everyone use metric I would!  We keep getting caught out between imperial gallons and US gallons.  Curses!  At home I’m indulging in a bit of a mitten frenzy, which is bring joy to my little heart and warmth to my hands.  Tomorrow is Friday after all, I can’t wait!

And there may be a third part entitled “Knitting Crushes” we’ll just have to see.  Let’s just say that among my fellow knitters, and not the teachers, I now have a few new crushes. 

On Saturday we attended two half day classes, which were again extremely hard to pick as they all looked so good.  I ended up deciding to attend two classes with new teachers, Stephanie Japel (Fit Your Knits), and Cookie A (Traveling Stitches).  If I had a clone she would have gone to Nancy’s Bush’s Estonian Lace class as they were making their own samplers, as that sounded like so much fun.  I think I would have needed at least four clones to attend all the classes I wanted to!  Every single person that attended each class raved about their class, and I’m not making that up.  No class was bad!

Fit Your Knits started with everyone measuring themselves and filling in a schematic, which was loads of fun.  If you think of measuring yourself and including all the rolls that come with age and too many cookies fun that is.  I did learn something that is very important to me: I should not pick my size to knit based on bust but on shoulder size.  I can then customize the bust and waist shaping to fit myself appropriately.  Way too many of my sweaters, blouses, and shirts pull at the shoulders as I seem to be wider there and *ahem* smaller through the bust area.  I also learned how to make short rows, which I have never known how to do before.  I already know where I’m going to use this technique!  Mrs. Japel brought in a few sweaters from her recent book, plus a new design that will be in Knitty Winter.  I so heart all the sneak previews we got this weekend!

glamknits

In the afternoon we learned that Cookie A. has a book coming out in April that will include 15 all new designsand instructions on how to design your own sock.  Pre-order anyone!  I think I’m drooling.  We also got to see all the famous socks, including the original Monkey, got the proper pronunciation of Pomatomus, and made some excellent traveling stitches.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be for some reason!  It was interesting to discuss the mechanics behind each of the sock designs, and what each was based on.  Sock heaven:

cookie-socks1