Bow River in Winter

January 29, 2010

The Bow River, which passes by downtown Calgary, freezes over solid in the winter at times, and has a channel of open running water at others.  We pass over the river twice a day during the week, to work and home again over the bridge pictured.  On Tuesdays I like to walk over from downtown to Kensington for our Knit Night at the Gratitude Cafe, on the pedestrian walk-way under the bridge.  On much colder weeks the river is a mass of ice, some smooth with snow, some slabs piled up on top of the other.  On warmer weeks small rivers within the river open up in the ice, and running water can be seen moving swiftly by a deep grey blue colour.  As always I take a moment on the bridge to lean over, listen, and watch.  It may be a folk tale about bad spirits not being able to cross a moving stream, but I always feel better after crossing the river.

At times the water cannot find an open channel through the ice, but instead pushes up through a hole, and runs across the top of the ice, making patterns as it goes.  This also makes me wish my little point and shoot took better photos in low light!  Mr. J and I have been excitedly looking at the sunrise on the train in the morning.  This is exciting as until this week we watched the sunrise from the office.  We also went home in daylight , which is a lovely change.  The long days are coming back quickly, soon we will have light until blissful 11 pm once again.  In the meantime I am still enjoying our frozen landscape, but this always wears off in February, for me the most dreary month of the year.  March is full of lovely plans, trips, birthdays, and visits.  Once February is over, made speedier I’m sure by the Olympics, March will be here and spring not too far behind.  Okay, it may be two more months away after that, but for myself it feels like we’re home-free.  I can just smell that first sweet warm breeze now.

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I’m almost done my blue projects, and so far haven’t cast on any new ones.  My next sock planned is a turquoise mix, so that may not count!  For my trip to Saskatchewan last week I needed a project that was ready to go right away, without any design work or swatching left to do, therefore I cast on for the Debbie Bliss Chunky Donegal Tweed jacket.  This is from the first issue of the DB magazine, and is titled “Drop Collar Cardigan”.  I had gotten this yarn at a Boxing Day sale this year.  Once again proving why 6.5 mm needles are good, I finished the back of the sweater last week, and am roaring up the first front:

The green is a bit faded in this photo, it is richer and deeper in real life.  This is however an excellent photo for the dark that is 7 am.  We were excited to note that we could see sunlight in the sky BEFORE we got into the office this morning, and it was still light on the train ride home last night, therefore things are definitely looking up.  The 6 inches of the front have been mostly completed in the 15 minutes I knit in the morning while I watch the news and wait until the last minute before getting ready for work.  Or I could just fess up and admit that I’m giving the cat an extra 15 minutes of lap time, as she is usually curled up fast asleep within 5 seconds of me sitting down.  I have a feeling I will finish the first front, and be onto the second one by next week. 

I’m also working on some Norwegian baby caps, but no good photos of those yet.  Hopefully by next week they will be paired with some baby booties. 

In other news, does anyone have any good advice for getting bread to rise in breadmakers in dry cold climates?  We tried putting in hot water, but it wasn’t much better.  I have brand new bread machine yeast.  Any suggestions welcome!  Thanks.  Me.

Preparing for the Olympics

January 26, 2010

I truly love the Olympics, I always have and I always will.  I enjoy the winter Olympics more than the summer, simply because here in Canada we participate, and are medal contenders in more of the winter Olympic sports it seems.  Of course my favorite is figure skating, followed by hockey, cross-country skiing, aerial trick skiing, all the cool new snowboarding events, etc. etc. etc.  The one event I don’t really get into is curling, which may shock some fellow Canadians who love the sport.  What could be greater than a sport that always involves a trip to the bar (usually in the curling rink) and what could be more Canadian?  However I don’t understand the sport and have never played it most likely as I was busy skating instead.  I’m going to be cheering for every single Canadian, even if they don’t get a medal.  I love, love seeing athletes doing their best, and enjoying themselves, finishing with big smiles.  My heart will break with them if they don’t do their best.  I hate the photographs that are sure to come in the papers of athletes falling, and getting hurt.  Why can’t they show the extremely difficult element they completed perfectly just before, why concentrate on the negative?  And as a Canadian, we will cheer for all the other athletes from the visiting countries who compete, especially when they exhibit superior sportpersonship.  I hope to have a few Olympic get-togethers to watch special events, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be home alone one day, yelling at the tv like always.  I’m just so, so, so, incredibly happy that I get to watch this Olympics on Canadian tv, with Canadian commentators.  I may be yelling, but at least I’m not throwing things like I used to at the US Figure skating commentators. 

I’m also getting ready to go with my Olympics knitting project!  After much back and forth I’ve decided to knit a red sweater (yarn in my stash for a year now waiting to be knitted up) and it turns out the pattern I wanted to make was designed by a Canadian knitter.  In the next two weeks I’ll make a swatch, and be ready to go during the Opening Ceremonies.

Wow, that at is a lovely red colour if I do say so myself.  A bit of explanation for those knitters not online yet (Hi Mum!).  There is an event about to take place called the Ravelympics over at www.ravelry.com wherein you state the project you mean to complete (for me a v-neck cardigan) the event you are entering (Sweaterboard), and what team you are on (TeamCanada).  You then compete for prizes, at least Team Canada has prizes!  Yeah Team Canada.  If you complete your project, you get entered to win a prize.  This means I will be furiously knitting on this sweater exclusive of any other project!  All those knitters, excitedly casting on during the opening ceremonies, its sure to be a lot of fun.

Da Basement Reno

January 25, 2010

Unfortunately the basement has yet to reach the “wow, that looks great stage” but it has passed the first major payment stage.  Great.  The walls are framed up, the electrical done, and the bathtub in!  Hey, a bathtub is exciting!

There is a little handle to help those more unsteady folks, and its nice and deep unlike the guest bathtub upstairs.  I’m all over the easy to clean surround tub, without tiles to leak.  We have no idea how they got it down there.  I’m just glad I didn’t have to help.  Here are some more views:

The first photo on the left is the entrance way as you come down the stairs and around.  Picture a closet, and the entrance to the bathroom on the left, furnace room to right, entrance to living room straight ahead.  The middle photo is the bedroom, with its huge new window that lets in a surprising amount of light.  Its a decent size bedroom, with a closet.  I had hoped the entrance to the bathroom would be through the bedroom, but it didn’t work out so guests will have to walk around through the living room and into the entry way.  Paying extra for the new window, and the sub-floor seem to be good calls so far, its light and warm down there already.  The right photo is into the living room.  All the lights are pot-lights in the ceiling, we will just use lamps for close lighting later.  The ceiling height is okay, but not when you are Mr. J whose head almost hits down here. 

For Mum and Dad, this should look much nicer by the time you get here, but isn’t that a nice tub?

Where am I…?

January 19, 2010

Ahhh, lovely Saskachewan, in a small town south of the big city, population 220.  I’m staying up in Regina however, due to there not being much outside the city in terms of a comfy bed and good food.  I would like to take this moment to thank the gods of Saskatchewan for not being freezing cold on this visit, in fact today it was a wonderful -6 oC.  I can handle that!!  Up here it was sunny today, however south of the city there was a giant wall of fog that covered up the town I was visiting.  Yesterday it was sunny, but I had forgotten my camera!  This is unfortunate as the white snow, older houses, and pastel paint jobs were making a lovely vista.

But also very pretty in the fog!  Driving home tomorrow.

The Western Regional Adult competition was a ton of fun, even if we were at the rink from 7:30 am until midnight from set-up, practice sessions, competing, the after party and tear down.  First things first, here is the best photo of my dress, as requested by Mum:

I tried to put on enough make-up to stand out on the ice, I failed miserably, but I still felt like I had soo much make-up on.  I didn’t skate nearly as well as I wanted to, missed almost two spins, didn’t do the first one very well, and didn’t land an axle.  I was upset about that, as I had finally been landing them clean!  Needless to say, many, many things to work on for next year!  I plan on keeping the same program music, but move up a level.  When I stood out there waiting for the music to start, I was actually tearing up a little bit, and feeling very nostalgic, which is lovely, but probably didn’t help my concentration! 

In the open creative category the idea is they choose music that you have never heard before, you hear it twice, then do a program to it.  The music was Michael Buble singing the Spiderman Theme!  I went out and did my best Spiderman, running from the cops, swinging through the buildings, it was a lot of fun.  Mr. J thought it was hilarious, and I think my coach was surprised I came in last there.  However a lovely co-skater reminded me I came in third, not last! 

The day as always was very rewarding.  Do you remember Joan from last year, our plus 70 year old skater?  She knocked it out of the rink this year as Dolly, and got a silver.  She brought the house down, everyone was cheering for her.  She had feathers in her hair, jewels dripping off of every finger, and a red velvet dress on.  On the podium she and her fellow medalists posed with their dresses hiked up to expose a bit of knee!  Another woman, a first time competitor, told me how worried she was that she would be the oldest person in her category, and how embarrassed she would be.  Later on, when I gave her the silver medal she had won, she was all smiles, worries about being too old swept away.  Mr. J. got into the action (shanghaied was the word I used) and gave away many medals, since he was tall enough to reach.  I was the only one who got a kiss however!  I was very happy with the medal podium, I got all crafty on it and decorated it to make it pretty for the photos.

And here is the video, think of all I’m learning to apply for next year when you watch it!!

Last Present – Done!

January 14, 2010

And only 12 days after the holidays, not tooo bad.  Now I just need to get the package out the door.  I made an eyelet hat from Fall 2009 Vogue Knitting using the natural brown alpaca purchased last year from Herbert Saskatchewan.  You can’t miss it off of the Transcanada, a big sign that says “Alpaca, Motel”.  She sells her alpaca finished items, yarn and roving from the reception area.  I have enough leftover for another hat! 

Modeled by a lovely co-worker!  The natural brown is such a rich colour.  This hat design extremely practical for the Canadian winter with its four inch double brim.  My co-worker has a petite head which makes this hat seem huge, but its also WARM.  On a cold day, pull it way down over your ears and forehead. 

Now that I’m done knitting for others, its back  my stuff!  I’m finishing up two projects, and started a Scroll Lace Scarf for fun. 

Skating competition is tomorrow!  Its going to be a tiring day as we start practice at 8 am, and the competition starts at noon after the women’s Olympic hockey team practices.  We then go until 10:30 pm, at which point I’m sure I’ll be tired zombie.  A sparkly tired zombie.

My Skating Dress

January 12, 2010

I finished this little number up last night, and it is ready to go.  I’m already obsessing about parts of it falling off, and keep reminding myself to pack a needle and thread just in case!  My Mum made the basic black dress, and I found some sparkly material at Fabricland in their Hallowe’en sale bin.  I was hoping for floating sleeves, and it worked well for that.  I cut a bit circle, cut it into two semi-circles, then gathered up the straight edge for a ruffled look.  This is the end that I “tacked” onto the dress.  I didn’t want it to be sewn down too tightly, as the dress itself stretches when I put it on, and that could break the thread.  I don’t know how to fix the end of the sleeves properly, as the material is delicate, and could unravel, but sewing a seam could be seen.  I got some clear sparkly nail polish and used that on the edge of the cloth to anchor everything in.  I made a flower which has sequins in the middle and sewed it on the hip, and made a flower to put around my pony tail.  I think the dress could handle some more sequins around the bottom of the skirt, or something else on the bodice.  I couldn’t think of a really good plan, so I decided this was good for now.  Next year I could add some more “zing”.  I think I’m more worried about my sewing falling apart mid-routine than falling on spins or jumps now.  Is that good?

Mountains are Always Good

January 11, 2010

Saturday morning I was incredibly stressed about all the “things” to do this weekend.  Finish skating dress, clean out basement (contractor coming Wednesday to begin transformation from open concept concrete box to 1 bedroom with bathroom and living room space) finish Christmas cards, cook lunches, be nice to boyfriend, pat cats, well it just went on and on.  I really thought we were going to have to give up the plans to go cross country skiing on Sunday.  But today I’m rolling in happiness because not only did I finish almost all that huge list, we also went skiing.  And followed that up with Timmy’s most recent invention of the decade (the new one) caramel flavour apple fritters.  Where the caramel is liquid in the middle of the fritter, and how is that for the best thing evah?  Basement is almost clean, cards sent, dress is sparkly (I’ll try to get a photo tonight Mum, pretty sure you were going to ask!).  And the mountains are always good, especially when the temperatures are so comfy and above zero!

I have one last hat that I’m working on, but enjoying immensely.  This will most likely have its usual effect, that if I do indeed put it in the box and send it to Ontario, I’ll have to make one for myself as well.  And while the end is 8 inches of ribbing plus an eyelet section away, a new list is already forming.  Mr. J’s Mum wants some more slippers (her birthday was this last Wednesday, oops), my skating coach’s baby is due at the end of February, a co-worker’s baby is due in March.  So slippers, baby bonnets, and baby socks are definitely in my knitting future.  As is take-out Chinese food!  Mr. J and I were supposed to go out to dinner tonight, but as usual we decided that was too much of a hassle, instead we’ll bring food home to enjoy after our bike rides.  We will eat in front of the tv, since our bikes are taking up the dining area! 

The last two presents finished up (plus a larger shrug for my younger niece which fits her admirably well now) were a turn a square hat for my brother:

Using leftovers of my pom-pom sweater Ultra Alpaca.  I used this as it is very soft, and a non-scratchy item was requested.  The toque fits, my brother has a big head!  I made it a bit longer than the pattern called for so that he can pull it down over his ears, and they won’t freeze and fall off.  What a thoughtful sister I am!

Also using leftover yarn I made the beret from the cover of the Fall Vogue Knitting.  My tally is now 4 of those hat patterns down, another one (or two) planned (but not the fish):

The Cascade indulgence contains angora, and makes for a soft and luxurious hat.  My gauge was larger than the pattern, but if you remove two of the pattern repeats you will be good and the top decreases work out perfectly.  I almost knit this twice, the first time without removing the pattern repeats to discover not only was the hat too large, but I was about to run out of yarn.  I ripped it out and started over, and had a little bit left over.  Whew.  This lace pattern is one of those that I found very soothing, no stitches difficult to manipulate, and easy to remember and keep track of.  The lace is easy, but the final effect fancy looking.  I quite enjoyed making this hat (twice!).