Quality Lasts

March 30, 2010

Here is my Dad in his Irish Aran sweater that Mum knit him approximately 40 years ago.  A neighbour went to Ireland, and brought back a quantity of real Irish yarn, which Mum turned into a few sweaters.  This lovely sweater has gotten much wear over the last 40 years, albeit not much in the last ten that my parents have lived in the tropics.  Now that my parents are in Calgary visiting, Dad pulled out this sweater, and brought it along to keep him warm.  He has now been wearing it continuously for 1 week already!  Ahh, spring in Calgary, we start off below freezing, and slowly creep up to a relatively nice temperature, then drop back down once the sun goes down.  I can report that there is no pilling, and aside from some slight discolouration, hardly a sign of wear at all. 

As another example of quality lasting, we celebrated my Dad’s 70th birthday last week.  Hard to believe!

Final Moab Report

March 29, 2010

Just to wrap-up, here is a final photo of Mr. J and I in Moab, on our first day of mountain biking on the sovereign trail:

About 5 minutes after we got engaged.  As in to get married.  Summer 2011 is the estimated date.  The most perfect engagement ring was placed in a bag of energy candy, by Mr. J when we stopped for a rest, after biking around 3 hours.  He then handed me the bag of Wild Berry snacks, and being the brat I am I almost asked for the pineapple instead.  Our joke is now that Wild Berry is my favorite flavour.  I then dumped the candy, with the ring, into my hand, instead of reaching in delicately.  I’m so glad I didn’t drop it over the cliff!  I was very surprised to see the ring in my hand, and insisted he put it on my finger, proper like you know. 

Life is an interesting road, and I’m very thankful that I’ve been out there following the twists and turns, hills and valleys.  I was never sure I would meet a man that I could get to a point at which I could say without any hesitation “Yes I will marry you”.  Mr. J is that man, and I love him very much! 

I think the knee/shin pads add extra ambiance to the photo, don’t you?

Moab Knitting

March 25, 2010

Over the course of the vacation, and especially during the long drive in the car it seemed like I got a lot of knitting done.  Then I gave away two of the knits during the course of our travels, and I’m left with feeling that I didn’t really get that much done!  I had made my father a Jacques Cartier toque for his birthday in a nice brick red colour, and then decided to make a green one for an old co-worker that had been asking for a hat for around 3+ years.  Soon after I was outed as a knitter at work.

(If he ever finds out I put it on, and took a photo of myself drinking a beer, he is sure to throw it out).  So it turns out that being a knitter in Utah isn’t that bad, as busy hands are much admired there.  It was funny when people started realizing I had made all the knitted items I was wearing. 

I made my friend Gigi a red and  black scarf, striped in 1×1 rib a la Noro scarf.  We have a photo of it, but it’s currently on Mr. J’s camera at home.  I made nice long tassels at either end to finish it off, and used Berroco Pervuia wool, which is soft.  She had been asking for around 3 years for a scarf (do you see  trend here?  I may not make something right away, but sooner or later you will get your knitted item).  As Gigi is very clever she admired my scarf and mittens as well, and wins the worlds best person to knit for award  Again.  I hope the scarf keeps her warm, this spring and next winter.

Moab Wrap-up – Part 1

March 23, 2010

No trip to Moab would be complete without a trip to Desert Threads – which is in my opinion one of the world’s best yarn stores.  This is based on the fact that the owner has excellent taste in yarn and colours, which lines up with mine, because doesn’t everyone think they have the best taste in everything?  Of course.   Over the years I’ve found some great yarn/colours here that have turned into favorite projects.  This year was no different, even though I was actually trying hard to only pick out “a little something” and “not go overboard”.  I fell head over heels with the large selection of Peace Fleece, specifically with the green:

Given unlimited budget and knitting time, I probably could have wiped out the stock of pink and orange as well.  The colours “pop” I tell ya!  And the 70% merino, 30% mohair blend sounds scrumptious.  Oh will power, it had no chance against the green.  I’m seeing a lovely aran cabled cardigan in the future.

Mr. J and I had passed by Desert Threads on the Sunday, and I had immediately noticed a “For Lease” sign in the window.  I had a tense day or two until my rest day on Tuesday rolled around, and I returned to do my shopping.  The owner answered that she is moving, but just across the street, and not closing.  Whew, I was pretty worried there.  I tend to call Moab the perfect town since it contains a great yarn store AND multiple bike stores, and I’d hate for it to lose the perfect town designation.  So fellow knitters, fear not, and support a great little place.

Adventures in Arches

March 16, 2010

We had our Sunday ride rained out, but we managed to console ourselves with doing nothing but watching tv (knit, knit, knit) going to yummy restaurants (the best huevos rancheros ever at Elektrica Cafe) and generally taking it easy.  We are on vacation after all!  The weather cleared up for the Monday ride along the road through Arches National Park.

The ride is long, with a few good uphills and downhills, but you can’t beat the views.  I felt sorry for people in cars, whizzing along without time to really contemplate a view, to breathe the fresh air scented with sagebrush, to feel the accomplishment for riding the whole way.  In the morning the rain of the day before quickly evaporated as mist, which is something not seen that often in the desert. 

This weekend was also the maiden voyage of a new member of our biking family, Sunny Biscotti.  Mr. J ordered this bike back in April, but due to delay, after delay, after delay, and finally getting the frame for free, he got Sunny in October, too late to ride outside.  Not five minutes after we left on our first ride someone complimented Mr. J on his bike, which really floated his boat.  Unfortunately now he is faster than ever, but once he makes it up a hill, he comes back down and rides up it again with slow me!

After a rest day, we’re getting ready to do some mountain biking.  The weather has turned warm, we’re wearing our shorts and t-shirts, and putting on the sunscreen.  It feels so good after a long cold, grey winter!

Heading South…

March 13, 2010

Since winter is hanging on in Alberta:

We’ve headed south for a weeks vacation.  Utah weather may not be as warm as other years, but its still warm to us.  The thrill of actually going forward on our bikes, after a winter of spinning in one spot in our living rooms is exciting as always.

By the end of the day we had our sleeves off, and I’ve got a bit of a sunburn on my face.  I’ve even got my bike tan started on my arms.  Tonight it may snow a little bit!  But most importantly, a week of not working is always something to enjoy.

Our Backyard…

March 10, 2010

As last week contained my birthday (I am now very, very old) Mr. J and I planned a little get away to Banff/Lake Louise to celebrate a bit in the great outdoors, that the commercials tell us is our backyard.  On the actual day of my birthday, which was a Tuesday, the local Knit Club agreed to a change of location to The Chocolate Bar for some cake.

That is some chocolate ecstasy! 

Mr. J booked us into a romantic cabin in between Banff and Lake Louise, which he was surprised to discover was where we stayed about a year and half ago!  These little log cabins were built back in the early 1900’s, and contain romantic fireplaces.  The restaurant at Storm Mountain is also extremely delicious, and is good for a once every 1.5 year treat.

On Saturday we skied up the road to Moraine Lake, which was around a 20 km round trip, and today, 3 days later my legs are still in extreme pain.  Must be part of that getting old!  On Sunday we went out to Lake Louise in order to check out the ice castle, and hiked up the 3.5 km to the Lake Agnes Teahouse.  Unfortunately it wasn’t open, we’ll have to come back in the summer.  The weekend weather was magnificent, blue skies, green trees, and white snow everywhere.  It was warm enough to hike in a sweater.

Yup, we have a pretty nice backyard, and I’m sure glad we got outside to enjoy it on such a nice weekend.

The Rest of the Haul

March 5, 2010

It seems a bit boastful to be proudly displaying the yarn purchased last weekend, and yet when other bloggers do it I LOVE IT!  Its like shopping for free, so I hope ya’ll don’t mind. 

I think my biggest happiness came in the Lisa Souza booth.  Her base yarns were nice, the colours were lovely, and her prices very reasonable.  Where other booths were charging $28 for hand dyed skein, her sock prices were low at $18.  I came away with:

On the left straight up sock yarn, in the middle Merino, and on the right is BFL.  This latter base is amazing, the BFL is shiny, without any silk in there.  The merino was bought with my last $20, and the colours are true on my style.  I thought the sock yarn with the light green/blue, and natural with spots was pretty cool, and not something I normally would have chosen.  I really couldn’t resist the BFL, with the shininess, and the vaguely purple/blue colour, so I didn’t try!

Next up with Blue Moon Fiber Arts:

I had wanted to find some of the black Raven colourway, and this heavyweight Valkyrie fit the bill perfectly.  It was one of two left in the booth on Saturday afternoon.  It is black with hints of purple and copper/brown.  On the right is a 994 yd skein of Geisha which is tussah silk/kid merino in the silver Winter Solstice colourway.  It’s seriously shiny, and worth every penny.  I really cannot wait to knit this up into some gloriously elaborate shawl. 

Places that I would like to buy from next year (or at a wedding I’m now going to in Boulder Colorado in April)

Wabi Sabi for intense saturation of colours.  I was eyeing their purple (the theme?) and green.

Feministy and Little Red Bicycle are doing some killer colourways.

Have a good weekend everyone!  We’re heading out to Banff for some skiing and relaxing by the fire!

California Dreamin’

March 4, 2010

When everything here is still frozen solid, and we’re celebrating the fact that the snow piles are only 2 feet tall instead of 4, there is nothing like escaping for the weekend to somewhere warm, sunny, with flowers.  Real live flowers, outside, not inside in vases:

Santa Clara was displaying cherry blossoms, green lawns, leaves on trees, and flowers everywhere.  Picking up for the weekend, and going to something as frivolous as a yarn convention, staying at a nice hotel, even though it really didn’t cost me very much felt so very decadent.  One of the benefits  of using my own credit card for work expenses (linked to travel miles) and traveling for work is excess reward miles.  I felt relaxed, not rushed, and a tad bit spoiled.  It was nice not to have to race to get around, especially since I went the wrong way on the LRT and took a tour of downtown San Jose, before getting some directions from a nice lady at the OTHER convention center.  Another short ride in the opposite direction, and I managed to get to the correct convention center in order to spend two hours at Stitches West.  It was very overwhelming, so much yarn, so many people, so many things to see!  I noticed on Saturday I was only really looking the yarn, when I went back on Sunday I started to notice all the displayed items, and the other people.  I didn’t wear any large knitted item, as it was warm!  I was busy rocking a t-shirt for the first time in months. 

Stitches West was very large, and there were about a million billion things to see.  I had a certain amount of cash in my wallet, and I didn’t spend more than that, which is very good.  One of the highlights was meeting Rachel Herron, author of “How to Knit a Love Song” which is on my must read list.  How could you not like a lady who declared she wanted the Canadians to win in the Olympic hockey game?  You can’t!  (speaking of which, they announced who won when I was on the plane from San Jose-Denver, and I can report that there were exactly 5 Canadians on that plane.  We all cheered.  Loudly.  The nice lady next to me gave me a dagger look, but when I turned to her and said “They can cancel the mass suicide in Canada now”, and “They just ran out of beer in Vancouver, and probably Calgary as well” she warmed up a bit.  Let’s face it; winning meant more to us, probably too much.)

The highlights for me were numerous.  I was happy to find some Three Irish Girls yarn on Sunday:

The blue skein has gone to a new home before I got too attached, and the multi one is staying with me.  It is brown/burgundy/green/teal, which is happily outside my normal colour sphere.

I seemed to be in a purple and silk mood this weekend as that is what I was drawn to.  The smell of silk was in many booths, and it was heady.  I stopped at the Artfibers yarn tasting booth and got a sample of one of their silk/mohair blends.  I can attest that anything from them that contained silk was brilliant!  I felt bad asking for too many samples, so kept it to just one.

I eagerly visited the Pigeonroof Studio booth, and found this nice purpley blend that is fast becoming a lacy baktus scarf.  Jennipoo got a dark purple blend as well!   I did very well only purchasing from vendors that are hard to get in Canada, or are online only.  I stayed away from the mega bargain booths.  Okay, I went into them, but came out empty handed.  I was a bit surprised by the amount of sparkly yarn available, I had thought that fad was over with.  Oh, was I wrong.  I even saw, gasp, fun fur.  Ack.

Other favorites of mine were seeing vast amounts of Blue Moon in person (we have one store in Edmonton that stocks them, but what they have is a bit hit and miss and it sells out quick).  I really enjoyed the Lisa Souza booth, and though she and her husband were very nice.  I intend to take photos of what I got at these two places on the weekend, its lovely and deserves photos! 

The other big news is that I was 8 hours short of my “time outside of Canada” and therefore was required to pay duty on everything over $50.  I dutifully marked that I had items to declare and presented my card to the customs agent.  He let me through without any questions, and I did not have to pay duty.  What a great guy!  He was probably so happy about the game, and looking forward to the party.

My sweater was not finished by the end of the last day of the Olympics, but yesterday.  I had one seam to sew up, and five buttons to sew on.  Was it because my ribs were broken, and I had to limp across the finish line, did I miss a gate and get DNF, or was I disqualified unfairly due to a Korean speed skater fouling me?  Nope.  It was because I spent the weekend flying to Stitches, and then going to Stitches West.  Saturday night, as I finished off my room service dinner, ogling my new yarn, watching HBO I knit until I was seeing double, four needle points staring back at me.  I picked up a button band on the wrong side of a front and had to start over.  Seeing reason I went to sleep.  In the morning I finished the last button band, started seaming, but decided to head over for a few hours at the convention before going to the airport. 

Now the sweater is done, and its a tad small, I should have made the bottom bigger.  It does button up, but it pulls, and the button holes are too big for the buttons, so it doesn’t stay shut!  I think a bit of sewing around the button hole ought to take care of that.  I like how it hangs open, and I can pull it around me when its chilly (this alpaca/merino blend is warm!).  It also needs another blocking to get rid of the suitcase wrinkles. 

This sweater pattern is from the Vogue Fall 1998, and is knit with Lano Gatto merino/alpaca blend. 

More about Stitches West next!