Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Santa Came, Santa Left

The night before Christmas Mitch proclaimed just before going to bed; "I'm going to get up and wait for Santa." I wonder how many more years he's going to want to bake cookies for Santa Claus?

He received an inexpensive, yet very capable electric keyboard (he calls it piano) from Santa, and was very excited, but so far his parents are enjoying it more than he is.

I received a Christmas house from Mitch and Charlie -- A hardware store, of course. There weren't any yarn stores. So now I have an ACE Hardware Store, right next to Rosie's Restaurant. Charlie also gave me a "Fiber of the Month" club -- his own last-minute creation, but I'm seeing a business opportunity here.

The gift tag Mitch made for me; they are reindeer.

M's hooded vest, nearly done; I now have to sew the sides, knit the arm ribbings, and sew on the zipper.

I sat by the fire tonight and peeled the bark off the apple tree branches. Yup, after the defeat from the first attempt, I am trying the apple bark dye. It's a lot of work. I must be crazy to be doing this. It's so easy to buy a beautifully dyed pink fiber!

The natural dye book I'm using for a reference says to strip off the outer bark and use only the inner bark for brighter color. Not as easy as it may sound. Can't really tell what inner bark is -- especially from a branch that has a crust of old, brittle bark. That's the kind I used for my first attempt. So this time I avoided those, and peeled off the thin, light brownish part with a pocket knife. I am going out to get a jug of distilled water to soak the bark in -- then the wait begins (I'm supposed to soak it for about a week). If it fails this time, I am not touching the apple bark ever again!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Long Awaited

Finally, we are on the long-awaited Christmas break. This year all three of us are off from work and school at the same time, until January 2nd. Usually by December 15th or so my work slows down, but it just wasn't the case this year -- I ran around until the last moment, and even with that I felt like not much was accomplished -- thus sadly, no Holiday cards made this year. Shame on me.

Mitch was down with a cold again (second time this winter), and he was slightly asthmatic. When he got better, I was down for the second time as well. I think I am getting over quickly, thanks to the mega-load of Vitamin C at the beginning. All that didn't help with getting things accomplished, of course. Knitting included.

I did finish the socks for my friend and sent them off to her in Japan.

She lives in a snow country in Japan, and very much appreciated the socks I knitted for her last year, so I hope this pair will be a welcome addition.

I am still working on Mitch's hooded vest. I'm on the hood part right now, and with five balls of yarn to maneuver, it's been a lot of work. Not sure if I can finish it by Christmas, but I'm not going to sweat it. I am using a Japanese knitting pattern, and I've been enjoying reading the graphic pattern again.

I'm really looking forward to getting back to spinning alpaca Erin brought back from Oregon, but I wanted to get some natural brown sheep wool to ply it with. I'm not brave enough to knit something with 100% alpaca handspun that may not retain shape -- alpaca has no or very little elasticity. So I called up Nancy, my spinning teacher -- I headed to her house this morning, only to find out that she was too down with a cold. So the local sheep ranch visit was postponed, once again. One of these days, I will get to visit her and post some pictures of her sheep! For now, we'll tame our fantasy with my Christmas sheep figurines.

Erin and her family is north-bound, off to see her parents in Vancouver. She's planning a visit to a local yarn shop to look for some Fleece Artist's spinning tops (hard to get in the US) for me, among other fine Canadian yarn for herself, while she's there! I will post the colorway I am looking for by the time for her yarn shop visit.

Happy Holidays!

Peace on Earth.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winding Down

I'm done traveling for the year, and I'm getting ready for the Christmas vacation. I am going to clean up the house, dye and spin, and of course knit, during the break!

Here's the front piece of Mitch's hooded vest.

It's hard to see, but the left side is the front, and it has a cable pattern. St. James Church, down town Toronto, 7 in the evening. Brrrrrr. That was pretty much the only street I walked on this trip, on King East, back and forth between the office and the hotel.

The flight home was very smooth and beautiful -- it flew right over the City. It was breathtaking.

Home Sweet Home.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

$100 Parka Saves My Life

I'm not kidding. It's that cold in Toronto. Today was minus 12 degrees, Celsius, during the day. I don't even want to know what it is in Fahrenheit.

Living in California, I didn't even have a decent coat for the last few years. We just don't need it -- maybe a good rain jacket, but not a snow parka (and I don't ski). I've been going to Montreal and Toronto during the winter for the three winters in a row, so finally I've broken down and bought a parka that is supposed to withstand -20 F. It's not even close to a Kanuk, but still it's an $100 investment that I wouldn't have made in a normal situation.

Oh yeah. It works.
The color matches my Crosspatch too.

I braved going out tonight alone, in search of an ATM that accepts my card (it's a long, boring story), and got on a subway for the first time in this city. I saw a knitter on the subway!

That's pretty much it for the report. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting tomorrow. Will try to post the front piece of M's vest too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I Love Hats

I love knitting hats, but unfortunately I don't look good in them. I love seeing little kids with cute knitted hats, and I have a son who looks very cute wearing them. I've knitted hats for him every winter, and thought that I'd continue as long as he enjoys wearing them.

Then it hit me.

It's been pretty cold in the morning, and I put his favorite hat that I knitted for him last winter before leaving to school. Then he said:

"But what if my friends see it?"

Oh gosh. His cute knitted hats days are over. Already. Not even the Gryffindor hat didn't sway him.

Bye bye Mitch's favorite green hat (sniff).

My last business trip of the year is next week, to Toronto, and the only things I'm looking forward to about this trip are to wear my Crosspatch hat and have a long knitting time on the flight. It was a crazy week, and I had very little knitting done, so I need to accelerate my Christmas knitting. And whether I look good or bad in it, I do need to wear a warm hat there. No one's going to comment on how bad I look in it, but they'll comment how warm my hat looks. I'm hoping.

It's already been a week, but on last Friday at the Knit Night at Erin's, I had a double-take on Huguette's latest FO.

It's another Crosspatch!

It turned out that Huguette was working on her Crosspatch at the exact same time I was on mine. It does look much smoother than mine, which is lumpy and bumpy -- I'm still not sure if it's because mine is with a handspun or not....Huguette used Cascade. I love the colors too.

I might find a (grown) man's hat pattern and knit one for Charlie -- he has to go to Montreal in January. He's going to need it. Brrrrrrrrr!