December 31, 2004

New Year

It seems I’m in my Brown Phase right now. The two projects I’m currently working on, having finished my holiday knitting, are both brown. I have, finally, finished the back of my dad’s Fisherman’s Rib sweater:

dadsweaterback.jpg

and I’ve started the front. I’m pleased with the result, but it’s a time-consuming stitch, and I haven’t been working on it as much as I should. I’m going to try to devote a little more time to it in the next month.

I’ve also picked up a sock that I started in the fall. It’s for Mark, and the pair will match his Ridged Rib sweater — hence the continuing brown theme:

marksbrownsock.jpg

I’m itching to start some new projects, though. Once I’ve finished the first sock of the pair I think I’ll transfer it to computer knitting (along with my dad’s sweater) and start something else. Probably another sweater for Mark — I still have lots of yarn for him, and I want to get through it.

This evening we’re going out with some good friends for dinner, and will then probably come back here to celebrate the new year in relaxed fashion. Every year brings both bad and good, but I wish you and yours more of the good times in the year to come, and the strength and support to endure the bad.

Posted by Aven at 05:03 PM | Comments (2)

December 30, 2004

Christmas II

There is of course a fair amount of knitting news to report, too! First, an apology — there has been a fair amount of indirection, not to mention out and out deceit practiced on this blog. You see, many of the things I blogged about, and implied (or, sometimes, stated) were for me were, in fact, always intended as Christmas presents. If I’d not mentioned them at all I would have had no knitting at all to report for an unacceptably long period of time (to me) — but many of the recipients read this blog (or have spies who do), so I couldn’t be open. Sorry!

So — the Pacific Grove Pullover that I finished in August was not, in fact, for me, but for my mother. She’s allergic to wool, so she usually knits with and wears various synthetic fabrics or cotton — many of which are nice, but I wanted to give her something luxurious and natural that she could wear, and the silk from Elann made it easy. Mom seemed pretty happy with it — and shocked, since she’d read about the sweater all summer without it once even occurring to her that it might be for her. Hee hee.

Next, the various felted bags were also gifts — for my mother, sister, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. I must say, it was a bit of a wrench parting with those — I really did love them! I’ll have to make some more for me — for real, this time!

Finally, the shawl was a gift for my mother-in-law. The colours really suit her, and I hope she’ll find it a warm and cosy covering for winter evenings.

There was one more thing, not knitted, but reported on in the blog — all those preserves Mark and I were making over the late summer and fall, including some I didn’t mention, were also intended as Christmas presents; we gave each household 13 jars of preserves, ranging from jam to chutney to pickles. It was a little excessive — but appreciated, I think!

Now, the thrummed mittens for my sister were not a secret, since she requested them — though I did have to insist that they were part of her combined Christmas/birthday present and I was not to be recompensed. I did throw in a little extra made from some of the leftover Paton’s Classic, though — a “Coif” from KnitWit. Here she is modeling her stylish ensemble:

morelchristmasknitting.jpg

I even managed to get them done and wrapped before she arrived. In fact, so much before she arrived that I had time to decide, crazily, that I needed to knit another present — a pair of socks for my dad to match the sweater I gave him last Christmas (a better picture of the sweater by itself is here). I didn’t quite manage to get those done in time (I started on the evening of the 21st, and things were a little busy between then and the 25th!) — his gift bag contained one completed sock and the beginnings of the second, still on the needles. Still, I did finish them before he left:

dadssocks.jpg

And that completes the tale of my Christmas present knitting. There was just one more knitting-related event on Christmas — my lovely sister (see above) gave me this charming ball of Bernat cotton:

bernatchristmasyarn.jpg

The colour is named “Mistletoe Sparkle” — I plan to make many Christmas ornaments out of it. I couldn’t resist starting on it, so I made this:

christmashatornament.jpg

Ok, I think that’s enough for one entry. Next post will catch up on the bits and pieces of other knitting I’ve been doing, and what I’m working on now.

Posted by Aven at 11:39 AM | Comments (2)

December 29, 2004

Christmas I

Whew! That was fun! After nine days of family-hosting goodness, it’s time to poke my head out into the blogiverse again and say hello. Warning — this may be a long post. Or two long posts…

As I mentioned a few entries ago, this was the first year that Mark and I held Christmas in our own home. Not ones to do things by halves, we hosted two consecutive feasts, and two overlapping families. Mark’s parents came down to Toronto on the 21st, giving us lots of time to visit with them. On Christmas Eve we followed, partially at least, Mark’s mother’s French Canadian tradition and served his family (and my sister) roast goose, tourtière, and sugar pie (along with assorted other trimmings), tacking on the first of two Christmas puddings because, well, we’d made two different plum puddings — and when else were we going to eat them? We were proud of our lovely table (and grateful to the friends and family who helped us adorn it!):

christmastable.jpg

On Christmas day my parents arrived (having flown to Ottawa from Iqaluit, Nunavut the preceding night, and driven down to Toronto on Christmas morning) and we all switched to (a) British tradition, with roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, trifle, and more plum pudding. Does it mean Mark and I were a little delirious if we by the end of the night we were airily telling each other that roast beef dinner was “a breeze” and we should do it every Sunday?

On Boxing Day Mark’s parents went back to Ottawa, but my parents were able to stay for a few more days to visit with us before they went — not back home, but driving on to Chicago to visit my mom’s sister and family. It’s truly been a lovely holiday — so many things we traditionally do have perforce changed, but it didn’t really matter; we were surrounded by family, and that was what mattered. I’m very grateful to be part of two such loving and interesting families.

There’s much more to recount, but I’ll put it in my next entry. For now, goodnight!

Posted by Aven at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

December 25, 2004

Best Wishes

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it! And all the best from my blog-home to everyone who comes by and shares this cyber-space with me.

Posted by Aven at 01:56 AM | Comments (6)

December 21, 2004

Come back, sun!

Happy Solstice! May you have light and warmth in the darkness.

snapdragon.jpg

Snapdragon: “A game or amusement (usually held at Christmas) consisting of snatching raisins out of a bowl or dish of burning brandy or other spirit and eating them whilst alight; a bowl or quantity of the liquor, etc., used in this game.” (OED)

Something my family traditionally does on the Solstice, with extended family and friends. Since this year we’re all in different cities we won’t be playing Snapdragon together — so I’ll keep the tradition going by posting a picture from last year, and remembering the taste of brandied raisins, and the excitement of flames dripping from my fingers!

Posted by Aven at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)

December 20, 2004

Thrumming Along

I finished the second thrummed mitt — it looks just like the picture below, thank goodness. My speed in finishing is in large part due to the heroic efforts of my husband, who sat next to me on the couch watching a James Bond movie and making thrums for me much of last night and tonight. It really sped the knitting up, since making the thrums is a somewhat time-consuming task that makes me stop knitting (gasp!) for minutes at a time. Isn’t he a sweetie? Now that’s a supportive knit-husband!

The house is almost ready for guests; we spent the day shopping, mostly for food and wine and such. The weather (-20C, -30C with windchill) and a light snowstorm this evening are helping with the Christmas mood. Posting will probably not be very frequent this week, since the festivities will be revving up for real tomorrow, but I’ll try to drop by at least once before Christmas. Have a great week, everyone!

Posted by Aven at 10:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004

First Christmas away from Home

This is the first year that Mark and I haven’t gone back to Ottawa for Christmas. Both of our families are coming here over the holidays, so we will be seeing our immediate families, but it does mean many changes in our traditions and habits. It also means we finally have our first tree of our own! Here it is in all its glory (ok, I think it’s glorious, but I’m a little biased), with the stockings hung by the fire with care (they really were — we measured the distance between each stocking and everything!).

christmasdeoc.jpg

We spent the day cleaning and setting up the tree; also, baking tourtières:

tourtiere.jpg

The house has been so horribly disgusting for so long that it feels like a physical relief to start getting it back to some semblance of livable. And now that the living room is all decorated for Christmas I keep having spontaneous fits of giddiness — I really, really like Christmas. I admit it — I’m deeply sentimental and very tradition oriented (towards family traditions, anyway — which are sometimes somewhat different than the rest of the world’s traditions!). Now if only Toronto could somehow find a way to give us snow by next Friday!

Oh, and I’ve finished one thrummed mitten (colour slightly darker than shown):

morelmitten1.jpg

All in all, a remarkably productive day. Now to bed!

Posted by Aven at 02:12 AM | Comments (7)

December 17, 2004

Progress

Look at the beautiful card I got in the mail today:

elizabethcard.jpg

It’s from Elizabeth, who painted it herself. What a wonderful added bonus of blogging! Thanks, Elizabeth, it’s taking pride of place on the mantle.

Now that I’m freed from Christmas stocking Purgatory, I’m finally able to start something new! Though it will admittedly be another repeated pattern… here are the cuffs for another pair of thrummed mittens, this time for my sister.

morelmittscuffs.jpg

The cuff on the top is folded in half as it will be on the mitten; I’ll pick up stitches around the top for the hand, so the cuffs will be double-thickness.

Now, back to house-cleaning!

Posted by Aven at 01:12 PM | Comments (3)

December 16, 2004

Done!

Finally! The stockings are all done. Here they are pre-felting:

stockingsprefelting.jpg

And after felting:

stockingsfelted.jpg

And, just for good measure, separate pictures of the ones with names

stockingsnames.jpg

and the other two I finished in this batch, including the stripy one which used up ends of all the other colours:

stockingsother.jpg

I’m happy with the way they turned out, and very happy to be done with them. Only one more thing to do for Christmas — well, except maybe for a few ornaments for our tree, but that’s not a big priority. It just seems a little silly that other people have knitted ornaments from me, but we don’t have any ourselves! We’ve never had a tree of our own before, so I hadn’t thought of making ourselves any ornaments until this year.

UPDATE: Tigger likes his stocking:

stockingtigger.jpg

(What is it about wet wool? He loves to lie on it and purr and knead it.)

Thank you, everyone, for the compliments about the cardigan. It is nice to be able to make something I’m happy with as a gift — I can’t wait to get pictures of the child wearing it!

Posted by Aven at 12:23 PM | Comments (8)

December 14, 2004

Package sent!

I finally got around to buying and attaching the buttons for the child’s aran cardigan:

babyarandone.jpg

I’m quite pleased with the buttons; it’s a little difficult to get a good picture of them, but here’s a closer look:

babyaranbuttons.jpg

They have Celtic-y intertwining on them which echoes (I think) the cables of the sweater.

I’ve packed the sweater up along with a couple of other toys and it’s winging its way to the recipient. That was the only gift that had to be mailed, so I’m glad to be done with it. I’ve also sent out our Christmas cards; I’m feeling rather terrifyingly organised, at least in that small area of life — I never get my cards sent this early (and I know it’s not that early, we’ve already received several cards — but for me this is very early).

In other news, Mark wore his thrummed mitts into school today — their first outing! It’s possible he didn’t need his “freakishly warm” accessories today, but the wind chill is currently -11C, and he won’t be coming back until the evening, when the temperature will have dropped even more, so it seemed a reasonable day to give the mittens a test drive. With matching hat and scarf, of course!

Tomorrow I hope to have the finished stockings to show you — including the fun stripey one I’m working on right now.

Posted by Aven at 11:00 AM | Comments (6)

December 12, 2004

More Christmas

Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately — the combination of lots of end-of-term socialising and monotonous stocking-knitting has left me with little to say and little time to say it. But I thought I’d show you the mini-sweater ornament I’ve made as a hostess gift for a Christmas party I’m going to this afternoon. Here it is blocking (which totally amuses me — but the bottom was curling up, so I needed to!) on the arm of my couch:

minisweaterblocking.jpg

I used some leftover sock yarn; I wish I had leftovers of the self-patterning yarn, since I think that would make a very cute sweater. I’m not particularly dexterous with the thin yarn and tiny objects, though, so it was a bit of a pain to do. Still, it was quick, and I like the result.

I’m hoping to have some pre-felting pictures of the completed stockings in a few days — I’m starting the last one today. Getting there…

Posted by Aven at 12:11 PM | Comments (3)

December 09, 2004

Mmm, cookies

Last night there was a celebration of Lettuce Knit’s first anniversary — and it involved cookies. Mmm. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay very long because I was double booked, but I did manage to snap some pictures of the loaded goodies table:

lkfood.jpg

This was early on, and there was even more by the time I left. The store is tiny, but it managed to hold a remarkable number of people:

lkgroup1.jpg lkgroup2.jpg

Don’t you love the walls of yarn? And all the happy knitters. Just beautiful. And just a couple more pictures — Joyce and Megan:

lkjoycemegan.jpg

and Dani and Jill, with Megan (the owner of the store) beaming in the background:

lkdanijillmegan.jpg

I was sorry not to be able to stay longer, especially as it seems I missed some people, and also a draw for a gift certificate! But I did have a lovely time, and I got some more rows done on the 5th stocking.

Congratulations, Megan, on establishing such a warm and lovely place for us to gather and shop. Here’s to many more years of even greater success!

Posted by Aven at 12:13 PM | Comments (2)

December 05, 2004

More Stockings

Three and a half down, two and a half to go:

morestockings.jpg

The one on the right (that’s “gold”, by the way, not yellow. Whatever you might think it looks like!) doesn’t have its heel or i-cord edging yet, but when it’s done I’ll just have two more to do, as well as the lettering on these three. Unfortunately there won’t be a great deal of knitting time this week, since it’s the last week of term and there are many Christmas-related activities. I won’t be home very many evenings!

Yesterday in Loblaws I noticed that Stitch and Bitch Nation is prominently displayed in their book/magazine section… now that’s popular culture penetration! I also had a (minor) celebrity sighting… Kevin Brauch, the host of The Thirsty Traveler, a show about alcoholic beverages of the world on the Food Network (Canada). He was shopping with his wife and kids. Mark and I proved our essential Canadianness by paying no attention to him in the store and then giggling about it all the way home in the car. Our much-vaunted ‘politeness’ to public figures is actually just embarassment… we’re just as geeky about spotting celebs as anyone, but we’re too timid to do anything about it!

Anyway, it was a very exciting shopping trip… the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon is much more of an adventure than on Thursday evenings, our usual time.

Posted by Aven at 04:15 PM | Comments (4)