Wow, we had such a nice week, 6 days in the Mount Fernie Provincial Park, 5 days of mountain biking, all of which we did without driving as so many trails intersect with the park.  We only had one noisy night, which not surprisingly was Saturday, once the weekend crowd went home it was pretty peaceful and quiet in the campground.  We quickly established a daily routine: slowly peek out heads out of the tent around 9 am, as that is when the sun was just getting through the trees and warming things up.  One of us would crawl out, put on our warm clothes, and fire up the stove to make coffee and breakfast.  We’d enjoy the coffee, I’d knit and wait for it to warm up some more, slowly taking off the toque, baktus scarf, fleece vest, long sleeve shirt, and wool socks.  Finally around 11 am or 12 we’d get our biking clothes on and head on out for the days adventure.  After riding around for 2-4 hours we’d cool off in the nearby creek, relax, and maybe head into town for coffee and groceries.  We went out for dinner once at the Red Tree Lodge as it was Mojito night, and had breakfast twice at the Blue Toque (what a great name, I wore my blue toque both times we went!). 

The trails were sublime, over the 5 days, and only biking in one of 3 areas around Fernie, we hardly repeated a trail except that I could spend days going up and down Old Goat, up to the top of Snake Bite, over and over and over.  It was that much fun.  Many of the curvy single track trails are through old growths of cedars, which make for quiet riding, a bit mysterious.  There were many tricks that even I could handle, although we stayed away from the “big stunts”.

Anne Going down Verboten Stunt

Riding down Snake Bite is my idea of the best mountain biking; rhythmically flowing turns and curves, up and downs that rock you gently more than jar, fun obstacles to maneuver over, skills used but not taxed, a dreamy song playing in your head the whole way down.  So much fun.

We did not miss the phones, tv, computers, radios etc.  While the light was good I knit away on the back of my snowflake sweater while we made a fire, cooked dinner, or chatted.

Anne knitting by the fire

We listened to the birds, we watched the chipmunks, we watched the bikers cruise by, or other campers, saying hello.  There was a black bear that was supposed to be coming often through the campground, but we didn’t see it, which is good as we spend the first day eating blueberry pie and I wasn’t about to share.  Like most vacations it took me a number of days to relax and decompress from the rigors of everyday life.  By the end however the fog had cleared, and I felt normal again, and very happy.  I read a few books as well, including “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” which was a lot of fun. 

I think we planned well, coming home on Saturday after another huge breakfast at Blue Toque, to hang out with the kitties.  They had really missed their patting, and scritching, so we worked hard to make up for it.  Jackie woke me up from a nap on both days for extra patting, and Piper insisted on sleeping on my hands during my nap instead of just behind my knee.  They missed us for sure!  Getting up for work this morning was hard, but we rode our bikes into downtown which made it seem easier.  And until we get a money tree, here we are!

Ahhhh, Les Vacances!

August 21, 2009

Finally, oh finally, I’m on vacation in exactly 40 minutes.  But I may leave early, I’m a rebel that way!  I am really looking forward to having a week off, and getting away from it all so to speak.  Mr. J and I are taking it easy tonight, then driving down to Fernie BC for some mountain camping at their provincial park tomorrow.  I’ve even convinced him to leave his laptop behind for a blissfully electronics free week.  We’re taking our bikes, hiking shoes, bathing suits, and relaxing chairs.  For entertainment I’ve got knitting, mais bien sur, books, games, cards, and each other.  I do so love reading by candlelight in the campsite, hopefully watching the campfire.  They are a bit dry over there, so campfires may or may not be allowed, we’ll have to see when we get there.  No cell phones, no laptops, no background whine noise.  Just wind in trees, birds, natural noises. 

For knitting I’m going to start a new sweater and see how far along I get.  Its going to be a camping sweater, big and warm so a good thing to knit this week.  I’m also bringing along my unfinished sock projects to try and clean some of those up!  I’m not forgetting there is a yarn store in Fernie either!! 

I can’t tell you how good it will be for me to spend a week in the mountains, in the trees, sleeping in a tent breathing all that fresh air.  Riding my bike around the single track, hiking out to some cool viewpoint, this is my de-stresser, this is how I reboot, revitalize, recharge.  I promise to take lots of photos, but I’m doing my best to unplug from life!  When I was in university we delighted in going on two week canoe trips, and in Ontario/Quebec you can do this and see NO ONE but each other for all of those two weeks.  The beauty of those trips, the lake to ourselves, the loon calls, the stars reflected on the still surface of the water, the fire we made ourselves, cooking our dinner, grilling some bannock.  Our rules were pretty simple but important; no watches, only simple schedules, no negativity.  The no watches rule helped us forget about time, and made us cue into the world around us to know when we should camp, have lunch etc.  As an example of why we did this; a sister of a friend letting us know that packing up that morning took over an hour, and we should try and do better the next day.  I almost clocked her and threw her watch in the water.  By the end of the trip however she has calmed right down, and was into the rhythm of the trip, and she was a different, much nicer person.  She had fun!  She let go a bit, and dug her feet into the earth, and exhaled. 

See you on the other side, and enjoy your last week in August!

Downtown Fernie

FO: Tenner Toque

August 19, 2009

Tenner kissing the monkey

Kissing the monkey!  Unfortunately you can’t see the pattern on the hat clearly, but it is the #10 hat from VK Fall 2009.  First hat of many from this issue!  Can you see it better here?

Tenner toque

The yarn is a buffalo blend given away by Margeneat a long ago Salt Lake SNB, its so soft, extremely warm, and has a lovely “wet” feeling to it in the way that cotton feels “dry” to me.  The hat isn’t quite long enough to cover my ears, so it doesn’t get the below -20 oC rating, but its really warm, so warm that I had to take it off directly after our photoshoot last night.  The photo quality is poor alas, our days are getting shorter up here.  No more daylight until 11 pm, and it’s dark when the alarm goes off at 5:30 am.  We’ve got about 1 month of biking to work before it gets too dark for my comfort, so we’re trying to take advantage of the nice weather and light when we can.  This hat goes into the Christmas gift box, but I have enough of the yarn left over to make another hat of some sort!

My new favorite thing…

August 14, 2009

is my newly assembled, finally out of the garage and in use composter:

August 10 005

I love it so much, and am so happy that it s finally assembled.  Have I mentioned I love assembling things like this from instructions?  If you ever want someone to assemble all your Ikea furniture, give me a call, its tons of fun.  It took me a long time to get it set up as I always thought I wanted it in the back corner of the yard, and that I needed the fence done first so the neighbours wouldn’t hate me.  I then realized that putting a lovely stepping stone against the fence for the cats wasn’t a good idea, plus the odds of me using in the winter go up immensely if it is just at the end of the deck.  Therefore I put it right beside where the garden will go (hopefully next spring!).  Right now we are hard at work getting the next important piece of composting tools ready:  the 4 L ice cream bucket to collect the compost before we take it outside in -40 oC to put it into the bin.  Although its a tough job, we’re working hard to finish all that ice cream off!

I have realized that figure skating season is almost upon me, its going to start sometime in September.  This year I have decided I’m going to compete in the freeskate competition, which means I need to land an axle and double soucow consistently!  It also means I need a sparkle dress, good thing my Mum has agreed to make me one.  I’m thinking it will be black, tank top, with maybe flowy cap sleeves and silver sequins.  I’m also thinking I’d like to skate to some tango music, any suggestions?  The tango from “Shall We Dance” is pretty high on the list at the moment. 

Have a good weekend everyone!

FO: February Lady Jacket

August 13, 2009

Finally got this one finished off, Ravelry reminds me that I started it back in April.  It may not have been the best idea to make this in a much thinner yarn that used in the pattern, but somehow it all worked out after much agonizing.

August 12 009

Its not too small, its not too short or long, and it fits very comfortably on me.  The Silky Wool is beautiful with a deep blue colour, and a touch of tweed.  The sleeves are not too baggy, as I made them as small as possible without actually decreasing stitches, no extra stitches were cast on and I sewed up the resulting holes under the arms. 

February Lady Jacket finished

I knew the yarn would grow upon blocking, and so tried not to get too worried when trying it on as I knitted.  Before blocking it was too short for my taste, now it is a good length.  I did make a mistake on placing the button holes, instead of centering them in the middle of the 14 stitch button band, they are on the side.  It annoys me, but I’m working on my “crazy asymmetrical side” and hoping that I grow as a creative person instead.  Since I didn’t realize this until I actually sewed the buttons on and put it on, there was no way I was going to fix that.  The neckline was a bit stretchy so I ran a bit of crochet around it to give it structure, catching the loops of the cast-on for a pretty effect.  The buttons were bought last spring at Jo-Ann’s, when I get a chance to visit now I stock up!

FLJ Button Detail

This is going to be a good addition to the wardrobe, something I can wear to the office, and at home.  It doesn’t look very nice unbuttoned however, the buttons are too heavy for the thing fabric.  Good thing I”m cold blooded and will most likely have it done up all the time.

It must be the change in seasons about to happen that has me getting ancy to start about a million projects.  I do realize we should have another few weeks of summer, but this morning as I put on my sweater, coat, and scarf to leave the house and lamented that I didn’t go back for my thin gloves its hard to tell.  Yesterday I dug up all my leftover yarn that can be used for little colourwork projects and loaded them into shoe boxes for easy viewing.  This was useful as I was able to figure out that I probably don’t need to buy more yarn to make the wedding mittens, I have plenty of Custom Woolen Mills in some nice colours.  Once washed and slightly felted it makes warm and soft mittens.

New Projects!  First up is the Baktus Scarf in the Twist of Fate BFL:

Baktus scarf .25 done

I really like the way the colours are working out, and the crispness of the BFL yarn.  I’m hoping to have enough to make a scarf that is long enough to be wearable, and let me crochet a bit of a border on the bottom edge for some extra pretty! 

Project 2: Flower Child by Norah Gaughon (maybe by my fifth project by her I’ll get her name spelled right!) I’m apparently communing with my inner mythic flower hippie child by knitting this sweater if the pattern description is to be believed.  I realize its a bit daft to start a summer sweater when its pretty much over, but I feel like I committed to it when I bought the yarn, and should follow through.  Which is very anti-mythic flower hippie child I guess, a bit too far on the engineer side.  So far so good, I’m working on piece #1 of 10.  They are all then seamed together neatly (good luck to me on that one).

Flower Child first panel

I’m starting on the back that has no pattern, then when I’m thoroughly bored with that I get to make the pretty front flowers.  I do love that I took a photo of my toes through the bench at the same time without realizing it.  Jack was kind enough to bite through the BFL yarn in a nanosecond before I noticed him doing it, to help with tangling I guess.  He’s so helpful that varmit.  Nice colour eh?

What could be nicer?  The weather turned out lovely, Riley Park is in full bloom and full of happy families, beautiful weddings, boisterous cricket matches, and babies.  We spread our blankets, pulled out the sock yarn, food, and just enjoyed.  Erynn from Twist of Fate is either evil, extremely crafty, or a mobile LYS all wrapped into one.  She brought along a basket of her originally dyed yarn, everything from BFL, angora mix lace, camel silk lace, cashmere lace, merino bamboo sock yarn, you get the idea, it was wonderful!

Jenn digging in yarn

Jenn digs through the treasure!  After a few sets of fisticuffs, I managed to wrestle a lovely purple/black/grey BFL skein from the other ladies and have already cast on for a Baktus scarf.  Its not stash if it doesn’t see the inside of a bin!!  She dropped off another basket at Make One if anyone is interested. 

I also successfully babysat my nieces for the first extended afternoon to evening session.  There was no blood, tears, major fights, and everyone got to bed at the decreed time (those under the age of 7 that is).  Yeah!!

For the many of us who couldn’t get into any classes at the Sock Summit this weekend in Portland, or who couldn’t go for whatever other reason, we’re having a pseudo one here in Calgary in beautiful Riley Park on Saturday at noon.  There will be food brought, nice weather (cross fingers), sock knitting, and modeled socks.  At least I hope I’m not the only one wearing my hand knit socks, it won’t be that hot, it is Calgary after all.  There will even be a yarn swap, to which my first thought was “No way, you can’t have any, its mine all mine”.  But on further reflection there are two skeins of sock yarn that I may have fallen out of love with, that could find a new home. 

I’ll be bringing my new undulating rib sock (from Favorite Socks), which is being knit in Wooly Wonkas BFL Red Rock colourway.  This clever dyer knows a very good secret after living in Utah awhile: the key to the Red Rocks is the pink in them. 

Undulating Rib Sock

Not a great translation of the colour, I’ll have to work harder to capture the colour better.  I may even bring my Bettie Stockings along to try and get those going again!

Have a good weekend everyone, especially if you are at the Sock Summit in Portland!

FO: Flower Shawl

August 5, 2009

Flower Shawl Done

What a fun little shawl to knit, out of 16 rows only 4 have a pattern on them, and its really simple.  The petal border was a lot of fun to knit on after, even if it felt like it took a long time.  I used two strands of Misti Alpaca held together to match the yarn used in the original pattern from last summers Knit 1 magazine.  It still came out a bit small, and only stretched a little bit surprisingly during a vigorous blocking.  This was to be done at the end of the Tour de France, which is wasn’t HOWEVER, we still haven’t finished watching the Tour.  We are on the last stage, and Monday night I got sleepy watching Lance drink his glass of champagne on his way into Paris, we still need to finish watching to see how the final sprint went.  We know the end result, but I would like to see it! 

This is going to be a Christmas present for my Aunt Lil, hopefully it will warm her shoulders on the cold Ontario nights.  Believe it or now, I now have a Christmas present box, and it contains 2 presents.  I know, I’m very impressed with myself!  Normally on Dec 15 I decide to make things, and scramble, but here I am a whole 4 months ahead of time with two down already.  I feel so mature and organized. 

By the way, the observant among you will notice puddy toes belonging to Jack in the photo above.  The rule is no cats on the table, but he sat there so patiently, so evidently wanting to help out with the photoshoot, and add the necessary fur to the shot, what could I do?  He got shooed off after.  And after that, and after that,….then the girl cat,…and again, and so goes the evening.

Unless you are the one drinking the tequila, watching the bike races that is:

Tequila and bikes

I can’t really think of a better way to spend Sunday afternoon on the long weekend in Calgary then to head down to Bowness, find a table at the one decent Mexican restaurant here, order a pitcher of margaritas, and watch the crit races fly on by.  The restaurant was doling out shots of tequila to the lucky patrons in honour of the bike races, which made me double glad that we had toodled down here on our cruiser bikes.  We definitely sloshed our way home after!  The bike races are so much fun with the whole pack of elite male racers flying by every minute!  Whooosh!  Luckily there was only one crash in the final race, and he got up again and went back to the race minus much of the right side of his uniform and a good layer of skin.  It was very exciting. 

We rode home just as it was getting dark and the storm crowds were coming in:

Storm Clouds

Those pretty clouds brought horrible gusts of wind, hail, torrential rain, and incredible amounts of lightening and thunder.  One cat huddled close by, the other crazy cat (the boy) got up on the window to see the rain, hail, and flashes of lightening better.  I was busy huddling under the covers hoping the house did not blow down, and that the fire trucks driving by would keep on going, not stopping anywhere near the neighbourhood.  Mr. J. went back to sleep.  Boys!!