November 30, 2005

We're so pathetic

Y’know, I thought maybe I was just revealing my usual Canadian schizophrenic need for American attention by being pathetically excited that the defeat of our government was the top story on both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report last night. But apparently I’m not alone — CBC Radio just did a news item on it. Yup, a news item on the top of the hour headlines just about the fact that our “government troubles” are provoking hilarity “south of the border”. Complete with clips from The Daily Show.

I can’t decide whether I’m amused or horrified by how eager we are to be noticed… but I do know that I was very amused by the piece itself last night.

Posted by Aven at 05:17 PM | Comments (6)

November 27, 2005

Let it snow...

No new knitting news. Sorry. The front of Hervor is progressing nicely, but that’s it.

It did snow for the first time here last night, though — well, the first time that the snow stayed, anyway. I would have taken a picture, but by the time I got my lazy butt in gear and dressed, much of it had melted, so it wouldn’t be very impressive. And it’s supposed to go up to mid-teens by the middle of the week, so it won’t last anyway. Sigh.

Still, it’s a sign that we’re getting into holiday season — and this coming week is the last week of term, so yay! Just one exam to mark, and then I’ll be able to start thinking about other things for a bit!

Right, back to my knitting. Maybe pictures next time…

Posted by Aven at 05:46 PM | Comments (1)

November 25, 2005

I'm so proud!

Remember Emily, my friend who came to the SnB when I was in Toronto, and picked up the materials for her first knitting project since Grade 6? Well, she’s finished, as I said, not just a hat, but a self-designed scarf as well, and she’s letting me put up pictures of the finished objects to show off their perfection:

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You can’t see it very well in this picture, but her tension is remarkably even, and the cables are perfect — pretty good for someone who learned how to cable (without a cable needle!) over the phone, because she was too impatient to keep knitting to wait until I came to see her the next day!

And here she is wearing her lovely new apparel:

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Doesn’t she look proud?

The yarn is Malabrigo, and I must say that in addition to its gorgous colour, it’s insanely soft. I’ve never touched a wool so soft, it’s almost bizarre. The hat pattern is the same one I used for my Gaspereau Valley Fibres yarn, and as I said, Em worked out the centre cable on the scarf herself.

She’s now moved on to another new and exciting project — socks! With only an online pattern to guide her, she’s cast on for a toe and started her increases:

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She calls these “Truly offensive socks. Best socks ever!”. I think they’re great colours, personally. Perfect for the fast-arriving greyness of a Toronto winter. Oh, Em, I forgot to ask you about the yarn — what is it?

Of course, I’m using these photos to distract my readers from the lack of anything interesting to report in my own knitting. I’ve finished the second wristwarmer, and have been happily wearing them while I (unhappily) do marking. I have a little yarn left still, so I might make an earwarmer… I’ll see. In the meantime I’ve gone back to Hervor and have made it past the ribbing on the front, so maybe I’ll have some real progress to show on that soon. Until then, congratulations, Em, and welcome to the ranks of the knitting-obsessed!

Posted by Aven at 10:59 AM | Comments (4)

November 22, 2005

Roadtrip!

This past weekend I went on a yarn-centred roadtrip — my first! I went with two people who work at the Mount Allison library, both knitters. I made contact with them through a reader of this blog (hi Michelle!), who lived in Sackville for a while a few years ago. She set me up with a friend of hers at the library, who introduced me to another knitter there. The three of us chatted for a while, and when we realised that none of us had yet been to London-Wul, we decided a road trip was in order. So this past Saturday we headed up to Moncton to visit the farmer’s market (which happened to be having a little “Woolfest”!) and the store/farm itself.

Now, I got my camera out, but I forgot it on the kitchen table, so I don’t have any pictures. All I can say is I had a great time; we tried out some drop spindles at the Woolfest (I don’t think I’m a natural, somehow!) and wandered through the farmer’s market — I bought some amazing smoked pork chops and some wonderful organic carrots. Then we got back in the car and drove out to the farm itself, where the shop is — I’m really sorry I didn’t bring my camera, because it’s an amazing place. Tonnes of yarn, of course, but also lots of information on yarn-making, and a dyeing workshop all set up and open to view. They have a natural dye garden there — of course it’s pretty barren right now, but I’d love to get back there in the summer to see everything. They have some beautiful yarns, many made with mohair or angora from their own sheep and rabbits. In the end, though, the only yarn I bought there was Briggs&Little — a little silly, but they had what I wanted in sufficient quantity, so I snapped it up:

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Not the most exciting yarn in the world, but I’m looking forward to using it. I’m going to make a gansey for Mark, so that he has a Maritime-type sweater made with New Brunswick wool to commemorate our time here. I mentioned a while back that I got myself “Patterns For Guernseys, Jerseys & Arans”. It’s a great book, with wonderful pictures of authentic sweaters and many, many stitch patterns and combinations. But it’s an older book, and doesn’t give much help for actually knitting the sweaters — it assumes a lot of knowledge and is full of British terminology. I could probably work out a sweater, but it would be a lot of work. On Saturday I saw “Knitting Ganseys” by Beth Brown-Reinsel, and decided it would be a perfect complement to the older book. It gives step-by-step instructions for designing a gansey, with all the more traditional options discussed and explained. I’m fairly confident that I can use this book to put together a sweater with one or more of the stitch patterns given in the older book, to make something that will work with my yarn and fit Mark. So now I just have to finish Hervor and get to work designing the pattern!

All in all the roadtrip was a lovely way to get to know some knitters and enjoy the local amenities. And it was fun to actually make a flesh-and-blood connection through my extended online community!

Posted by Aven at 03:23 PM | Comments (4)

November 20, 2005

Knitting, finally!

So, as I said, I did actually do some knitting while I was in Toronto, and I finally took some photographs so I can show you. I knit up the hand-dyed Cotswold yarn into a simple cabled hat (using the pattern I got with the yarn). You can’t see the cables well in the picture, but I love the colours, though the join between the two skeins is visible because they were slightly different:

gvyhat.jpg

I also spent much of my time working on a scarf out of the lovely Handmaiden cashmere. I used the Branching Out pattern from Knitty, and finished just in time to wear it back to New Brunswick (which was good, because it was much colder there than in Toronto!).

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What this photo can’t show you is how incredibly soft and cosy the scarf is. It’s a complete delight.

I had an entire skein of the cashmere left after finishing the scarf, so I’m making these:

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I’m just making up the pattern as I go along, based vaguely on some online patterns and mittens; the lace pattern is of course the Branching Out lace, and it’s just 1X1 ribbing on the palm. I’ve finished the first, as you see, and have just started the second — but I’m already wearing this one! I don’t intend to wear these outside very much (though they go so wonderfully with the scarf!) because I don’t think white cashmere will survive very long in the outside world. These are intended for when I’m sitting at home knitting, marking, or typing, and my hands are freezing — already a problem, and the temperatures have barely gone below zero overnight. But these will be so cosy I’m almost looking forward to it!

Once I’m finished the second wristwarmer I’ll be going back (finally!) to the front of Hervor. I intend to make some significant progress on it soon, becuase I’ve got lots of other things I want to get started on!

Posted by Aven at 02:42 PM | Comments (5)

November 18, 2005

Sheep in Toronto

Yes, for some reason I managed to go all the way back to the biggest urban centre in Canada to see an agricultural fair. On Sunday, as a lovely end to a very fun week, my sister-in-law and I went down to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. I used to go the fair quite often before I moved to Toronto — my mom and I would go down to watch the horse shows, often in conjunction with people from our stable who were competing there. Of course, in typical fashion, the last time I went was the first year of undergrad, and from then on I never made it while I was living in the city. It took me moving away to get me back there, apparently!

But I’m so glad Chantal suggested it. It was the final day of the Fair, so some things were gone or past their peak (some of the giant vegetables, for instance, were looking rather shrivelled), but there was still tonnes to see. We visited with the animals, in particular the sheep — and watched people bidding on the prize-winning fleeces. In fact I saw Denny and some friends (from the SnB at LK) at the auction — I hope you got what you wanted, ladies! Of course I completely forgot to bring my camera, in spite of having carried it all the way to Toronto, so I don’t have any pictures for you. But I had a great time petting all the dirty sheep and wandering around the informational booths for angora goats and alpaca.

I also got to watch some horses — a jumper class and a couple of hunter classes. It was so nice to see some jumping in person again, even though it did make me miss riding rather acutely. I never did much competing, but watching the hunter classes in particular brought back all the things I loved about riding. Ah well, maybe someday I’ll have the time, money, and location for it again.

While at the Fair I bought some amazing (and amazingly cheap!) smoked fish and some very yummy goat cheese spread; I then brought those over to Madhava and Kate’s house, where they hosted an amazing dinner for me, Mike, Tyla, and Emily. (Once again, guys, your tourtiere was delicious!). I tried to take advantage of having another knitter there (Emily, working out patterns for her second project, the scarf) but I left one of my needles behind. Damn straight needles — that’s why circulars are so much better for travel knitting! So I didn’t get much knitting accomplished, but I had a fabulous time. I feel almost caught up on the lives of most of my old Toronto friends — very nice.

And then, on Monday, I finished up my photocopying, bought bags of Korean and Indian snacks to take home to Mark, and caught my evening flight back home. A great visit — thanks so much to my various hosts, and to everyone I saw while I was there. It will be a while until I’m back, but I’m looking forward to it already!

Oh, and I still haven’t photographed my knitting. Sorry! This weekend, I promise!

Posted by Aven at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2005

Sorry for the silence

Which I suppose is a silly title, since my blog is always silent… but you know what I mean. I guess I was overly optimistic, thinking I’d blog very much while I was out of town… turns out, I was kept so busy between using the library and catching up with all my friends, I barely had time to glance at a computer once a day. I also took no pictures while in Toronto, so I’ll have nothing to break up the text, but oh well. I’ll do my best to keep the stories short…

Other than having to get up at 4:30 to catch my 6:30 am flight to Toronto (from the bustling Moncton airport) my trip started very well — a quick flight and then a day of hanging out with my friends Mike, Tyla, and Emily. This involved brunch, shopping, take-out Thai food (oh, how I’ve missed you, Toronto take-out food!) and the Leafs on tv. Pretty much perfect. Oh, and we were joined for some late evening tequila sipping by another Mike, Dawn, Madhava, and Kate. Look, I have non-knitting friends, too!

Then, on Sunday, the gluttony (at least on my part) continued with dimsum, followed by a lovely visit to Mike and Tyla’s new house out by Woodbine and the Danforth. They’ve just bought it, and it was very exciting to wander around it and imagine them living there, in their very own actual house! Hurray for grownups… maybe we’ll get there someday… Finally, Mike, Tyla and I finished off with a good old-fashioned roast chicken Sunday dinner. It was nice to have a relaxing start to a rather hectic week.

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow description of the week, but suffice it to say that I saw at least one friend for every weekday dinner and three lunches, as well as going for coffee/tea twice. In between I actually (rather to my own surprise) managed to get a fair amount of work done in the library, and enough photocopying that I had real difficulty fitting everything into my luggage. (Lesson learned — next time, I’ll take an extra bag just for the things I acquire while in Toronto: clothes, paper, food…).

I was also able to spend two entire blocks of time down at Lettuce Knit — one during Stephanie’s cover photo shoot on Wednesday morning, and the other that evening for the Stitch ‘n Bitch. It was really, really great to see everyone, and to hang out with a bunch of knitters again. I hadn’t realised how lonely for that specific type of companionship I was out here! Though the internet community does make it all much easier. The SnB was made even more fun by the presence of my good friend Emily, who has decided (hurray!) to try this knitting thing for a while. She came down to pick out some yarn and needles, and sat around with me and everyone else to work on a great little cabled hat. She’s a total natural — not really surprising, since she’s extremely crafty in general. By the time she left she was well into the ribbing, and by the time I went to stay with her on the weekend she’d started the cables (with only some coaching by me over the phone — and without a cable needle, too!) and was well on her way. In fact, by Saturday night she’d finished the darn thing! I really wish I’d taken a picture — it’s beautiful purple Malabrigo wool, and incredibly soft. I think she’s working on a matching scarf now, and she’s already moved on to playing around with possible patterns. I hope she goes back to LK to show off her hat…

Speaking of knitting, I did some — but I’ll try to take some pictures and discuss that in another post. In fact, I think I’ll end this entry here, and wait until tomorrow to describe the final weekend of my trip (including live sheep!). I should probably get back to “real” work now…

Posted by Aven at 03:32 PM | Comments (4)

November 06, 2005

Final installment

Ok, here are the last few photos. I didn’t see much of the Bay of Fundy, but I did manage to stop off by the shore briefly, just as the sun was setting. These photos were taken just on the edge of Wolfville, from a little boardwalk by the marshy edge.

First, of course, I had to record the sky:

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This is looking out towards the headlands across the bay:

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And a final photo that combines sea and sky:

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I wish I’d had more time to explore the area and visit the sea, but I hope Mark and I will get back there again, maybe in the spring. For now, that concludes the travelogue… thanks for watching!

Right now I’m in Toronto, visiting friends and (soon) using the library at the university. I’ve got alot to cram into this week, and I’m depending on others for the use of computers, so I don’t know how much I’ll blog, but I’ll try to post a couple of times. If you’re in Toronto and want to say hi, I’m going to be at Lettuce Knit Wednesday evening, and I’d love to see people and catch up.

Posted by Aven at 04:46 PM | Comments (4)

November 02, 2005

Second installment...

So, when I left you, I had reached the Annapolis Valley, home of Wolfville and Acadia University and lots and lots of apples. Most importantly, however, (at least for our purposes) it’s also home to Gaspereau Valley Fibres, a lovely place that raises sheep and dyes its own yarn and sells lots of other peoples’ yarns as well. Finally, a chance to actually visit a yarn store in the maritimes!

After a couple of wrong turns I found my way there, and this is what greeted me when I stepped into the shop:

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Lovely, isn’t it? And I particluarly liked one piece of decorative furniture:

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I had a nice chat with one of the owners (I think it was Brenda, the owner of the farm and sheep) about yarn and the area and my strange desire to take photos of the place to put on my blog. I’m not sure she really understood why I’d want to do such a thing, but she didn’t seem to mind. They’ve got lots of stock, both the usual mid to high-range yarns and a good selection of local (i.e. Maritime) yarn. Tonnes of Fleece Artist and Handmaiden yarns, of course, as well as Briggs&Little and MacAusland’s from P.E.I., which is quite similar to the B&L. Unfortunately she didn’t have enough of the navy blue B&L for a sweater for Mark, which I’m intending to make in a very traditional pattern so that he can have a local-style sweater from local wool to remember his time in New Brunswick. But of course I wanted to buy some wool, and what better than to get some product of the farm itself? Look at this lovely wall of Gaspereau Valley Yarns, grown, spun, and dyed on-site:

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I ended up going for a couple of skeins of a handpainted yarn; I think I’ll make myself a hat. It’s incredibly soft and gorgeous:

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Oh, the little red and white ball on top is filled with catnip — must bring treats home for the kid, you know!

Once I’d saturated myself with yarn indoors, I went out to visit with the farm. Look, sheep!

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These are Cotswold sheep, “an ancient breed from England, now endangered, which produces long, lustrous, curly fleece, sought after by handspinners” as the GV site says. There were also some chickens/roosters (like I can tell the difference!):

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which I assume were not kept for any kind of fibre-making… feather yarn, anyone?

And inside the barn I found another friend:

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and evidence of ongoing activity:

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It was a lovely visit, and I would highly recommend the shop to anyone who’s in the area. I can’t wait to start on my new purchase…

Next post, I’ll finish up my travelogue with a few pictures of the sea, and then I’ll be all caught up. And maybe sometime I’ll have actual knitting to report!

P.S. Madhava is completely right, I took that picture because of the Stan Rogers song about the Rawdon Hills, the chorus of which has the line “The Rawdon Hills once were touched by gold” (there used to be goldmines there). I’ve known the song forever, but had never even realised where the Rawdon Hills were, much less driven through them.

Posted by Aven at 01:36 PM | Comments (6)