John’s Sweater

Still Knitting… and More

Yesterday, I ended by writing that, yes, there has been knitting. I wish I could say that John’s cardigan is finished but that just wouldn’t be true. I’ll be picking it up again soon, though, now that sweater weather is really here; it just isn’t the kind of project I can work on in the summer (at least, that’s what I keep telling myself).

However, I did come across an interesting shawl pattern that I just couldn’t resist. The pattern is called “Loop” by Casapinka. It’s a simple shawl with an interesting stitch, almost mindless knitting. It is constructed mainly of stocking stitch with a textured stitch row every 8 rows.

chroma-loop

I’m using KnitPicks’ Chroma Fingering weight yarn in two colourways; the main yarn is Fogbank, shades of grey and a little bit of brown and the coloured one is Carnival. I’m loving the yarn (70% superwash wool, 30% nylon); it’s soft and squishy and will, I’m sure, make a shawl that will be an instant favourite.

Right now, I’m just over half way and I’ve only been working on it for about a week and a half. As I said, the body of the shawl is almost mindless knitting. I can work on it while watching tv. The coloured rows take a little more concentration, especially on the wrong side but, if you’re looking for a relatively simple knitting project, this would definitely fit the bill. One bonus about the pattern? The designer has included a row and stitch chart to help you keep your place, including a column to check off completed rows.

Knitting isn’t all I’ve been doing, obviously. A few months ago, I decided that it’s time to start replacing some of my aging baking and cooking supplies…. baking tins, kitchen implements…. that kind of thing. As you may remember, I now have new muffin tins, cake pans and a few other things. There are still a few things I’ll be replacing (as I come across things that have passed their best before date… so to speak).

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been two things that I’ve wanted to have back in my kitchen or have in my kitchen… period. One thing I’ve never had but have wanted is a cookie press. As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I love to bake. A cookie press has never been in my kitchen but my mother had one years and years ago; I’ve been looking for one but I’m being picky. Yesterday, I went to my favourite kitchen store and looked at their (very meagre) selection. They had two; both looked and felt rather flimsy. If I’m going to get one, I want a good one. I’m keeping my eyes open.

Years ago, I had a krumkake iron, a Nordicware product that would be heated over an element on the stove. Krumkake is a Norwegian waffle cookie, very delicate but very tasty cookie. They can be served flat, rolled into a cigar shape, or formed into a cone and filled with cream. In Holland, they’re called “kniepertjes” (translated? Clothes pegs) (pronounced knee-pert-yes) and were a favourite of everyone in my family. When I left, I didn’t take it with me for some reason. I’ve always wanted another one.

I now have one.

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This is a Chef’s Choice Krumkake Express iron and I love it! It’s so much easier to use than the old, manual iron I had before.

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These are, believe it or not, gluten free. I tried two recipes and decided my first try would be gluten free because, of course, Kristen is gluten intolerant. It worked very well and, honestly, you cannot tell that there’s anything different about these.

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The kids loved these, especially when filled with vanilla whipped cream! For that matter, so did the adults. I also made a batch with white flour, following a Sons of Norway recipe; I was told to bring them to work because there are enough baked goods in this house already and we don’t need the added weight. The people at work thank you, John.

Categories: Baking, Cooking, John's Sweater, Kitchen, Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Last Day of 2015

I suppose the last day of the year is a time for reflection on what has passed and looking forward to a new start but I’m not going to do that. It’s been a year I’m happy to put behind us. Yes, there’s been plenty of good but there has also been heartache. I would rather concentrate on the now.

It will likely be a quiet New Year’s Eve for us. Kristen and the kids will probably not be here as she’s come down with some kind of bug. I’ll try to stay up until midnight to help ring in the new year but, realistically, I rarely stay up that late. Part of today will be spent making olie bollen (fritters) and I may make some soap but I’m not even sure about that yet.

I do know I will be doing some knitting… have already, in fact. John’s cardigan is coming along, if slowly. The back is finished and I’m working on the fronts simultaneously, sort of. I started with the right side and have it almost to the armhole shaping. Then I decided it would be a good idea to work on the left side as well, and get it to the same point, then work the shaping at the same time. That way, the shaping will be the same, at the same time.

Incidentally, the soap making thing? It’s really coming along. I’ve been making, and selling, quite a bit of soap. Christmas, it seems, is a good time for soap sales. This week, I even made shaving soap… real, use a brush, soft, creamy, shaving soap. It’s awesome!

Anyway, I need to get this day going. To all of you, from all of us, we wish you a very happy 2016. I’ll borrow an image, posted by an online friend, that perfectly describes what I wish for all of you.

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Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Review | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sun Still Rises

I’ve been spending some time working on John’s cardigan this week. I think I’m making pretty good progress.

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I still need to work about two inches until the shoulder shaping. I’ve also been making more soap. This week’s batch is another batch of the BNA Blackstrap Ale soap. I’m really pleased with how my soaps are turning out. They look good (in my very humble opinion); they are not strongly scented (I don’t like overwhelmingly scented soaps); they lather (that’s the important part!).

BNA Batch2

The colourant in this one is, once again, cocoa for the bottom part and titanium dioxide to make the foam, along with a hanger swirl to make the “foam” swirl.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. What does it have to do with knitting and soap? Nothing, really. It is, however, relevant to my family’s experiences this past week. It’s a reminder not to focus on the difficult times, a reminder that there is another day coming, a day that will bring new beginnings, new experiences, even, perhaps, joy. Right now, joy is difficult to imagine.

My family is hurting this week with a pain that will never fully go away. On Tuesday afternoon, my eldest grandson, Zachary, was found dead in his apartment. I will not go into details other than to say he and his roommate were both found deceased. Until the cause of his death is known, we’ll have to wait for a funeral. Please, if you pray, keep us in your prayers. Both his parents are, justifiably, devastated. We all have a hole in our hearts that will never completely heal but we do know that sun will rise tomorrow and our lives will go on.

Zach

Categories: Blogging, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So… Colour Me an Idiot

John’s cardigan is coming along. I worked on it for a bit last night and came to a realization.

Let me back up a bit. Before I cast on any project, I choose the size I’ll knit and circle or highlight the numbers for that size I’m knitting, usually as I go along. I did the same with this cardigan. Except….. sigh…

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I’m up to the arm scye shaping and my stitch count was out. Apparently, after 17.5″, I cast on for the wrong size, one size larger than the size I had intended to knit. It’s only a few stitches difference and I don’t think it will really matter a lot but, really??

I’ve been knitting how long?? (Since I was seven, thank you very much.)

Did I mention I’d already knit seventeen and one half inches? I am NOT frogging it. John may have room to grow but from what I’ve already checked, it will fit him just fine.

What was I thinking?? Or maybe I did intend to cast on for that size and I circled the wrong numbers.

I think I’ll go make some soap.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Just Another Weekend

It’s been… hmm… I was going to say that it’s been a quiet weekend so far but it hasn’t, really. On Friday, our kitchen baseboard heater decided to stop working… again. It does this every year – works for a week or two, then stops working for the rest of the year. We’ve been lucky enough to have an extra space heater that we’ve been using but it has decided it’s usefulness had expired this year and has now become nothing but garbage.

We let the landlord know about the heat situation and, on Friday night, K showed up to check the heater, the wiring, and whatever else he could determine. Yesterday, he and the landlord came by with a new heater to install but there seems to be some kind of an issue with wiring so, for the moment, we have no heat in the kitchen. Thankfully, it’s not yet cold enough that it’s an issue but it has made for a busy kitchen. By the time I returned from my shopping trip, there were three men and two dogs in my kitchen, with furniture all over the room, making it something of an obstacle course.

Later, Kristen and the kids came by for a fire and some roasted marshmallows. They even brought “coloured fire”, some packets of chemicals that you throw into the fire to make some fun and funky colours. I think it would have been more effective if we’d waited until dark but it was fun anyway. After a few marshmallows each, Kristen suggested we all go out for dinner and she managed to talk John into it. After a bit of discussion, we ended up at the Mission Tap House; if you’re in Kelowna and looking for a decent place to go for a meal, try it; everyone enjoyed their meals. I was the only one with leftovers, only because I really wasn’t all that hungry, not because it wasn’t good.

I even managed to get a batch of soap made. I’ve been watching a video channel (Soaping 101) and she’s made a couple of videos in which she takes a popular brand of soap (in this case, Dove) and breaks down their ingredients, creates a formula and makes a copy. I decided to try her recipe, now that I have all the supplies on hand. I added a scent (ylang ylang – just a little bit) and a little bit of silk protein, just because I still have some.

NoDoveBefore we even left for dinner, I was able to remove the soap from the mold; it was still a bit warm but already quite hard. By the time we got home, I cut it. Had I waited until this morning, I think it might have been too hard to cut! Do you see the white flecks in the soap? That’s from the titanium dioxide I used to colour half the batter. It’s nothing but cosmetic, just a little bit of interest in an otherwise pure white bar.

It needs to cure for at least 3-4 weeks but I’m looking forward to trying this soap.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, there has been knitting. I have about 12″ done on the back of John’s sweater and I’ve started the third ball of yarn. At this point, apart from 12″ of straight on knitting, there’s not much to see. Imagine the last picture, doubled, and you get the idea.

Today, the plan is to make another batch of the first soap I made, the Coconut Milk soap, my personal favourite so far. After that, it’s all up in the air but I do anticipate some progress on John’s sweater.

 

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Ends Now

Well, it sort of ends now. Today is the last day to get your comments in (on the blog, not on Facebook); I’ll be making the draw for 6 soap samples tomorrow.

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Test pieces for some of my soaps… don’t they almost look good enough to eat?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada; we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday. We will not be doing the “turkey thing”; I’d rather have a nice quiet weekend without the hectic busyness of cooking a full turkey dinner. That’s not relaxing at all, thankyouverymuch! I was thinking of putting together a big pan of lasagna, to be honest. Not very Thanksgiving-ish, is it? Certainly decadent, though!

I have every intention of filling the weekend with knitting related stuff. I have a book on the iPod (The Confessor by Daniel Silva) and a couple of projects on the needles; I am ready to relax!

First though, John’s slippers are finished… the knitting and the felting, although I will have to throw them back into the washer to felt a little more. For some reason, one slipper felted more than the other.

Johnslippers

My washer isn’t the best one out there, that’s for sure. I get lint on everything, and I do mean everything! I’m leery of washing anything white because I’ll end up with dark lint streaks on it; I’m afraid of washing anything dark because I end up with light lint streaks all over it. It’s rather frustrating, to be honest. In the case of the slippers, though, at least we can brush the lint off.

Because John’s slippers are finished, I’ve allowed myself to start his sweater. I’ve gone through one ball of yarn so far and that’s just knitting a few rows each evening while watching a show or two on the computer (we don’t have a tv… by choice).

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The stitch pattern is an easy one to memorize and read and, as you can see, knits up fairly quickly. The yarn feels really nice in the hand and makes a cozy fabric. I don’t think he’ll be at all disappointed with this cardigan. I’m already a little jealous.

I also have another small project on the needles. I’ve decided I like having a face cloth on the go; they’re the perfect small project – they knit up fairly quickly, even with fine yarn, and they’re a usable little item. I don’t especially like using them in the kitchen but I do like using them on my face.

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This time, I’m using Paton’s BumbleBee baby cotton, a 100% cotton, DK weight, that I do believe has been discontinued (yup… just checked; it was discontinued in 2005… and, yes, I’ve had it that long!). It’s a very soft cotton, nice to work with and knits up beautifully. I have about a half dozen or so balls of it so there will be a few of these face cloths in my linen closet before too long, or they’ll be given as gifts, accompanied by a bar or two of handcrafted soap.

Speaking of soap, I don’t think there will be any soap making this weekend; I’m out of coconut oil and I’m waiting for an order of a couple of items to arrive from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Vancouver. I could just run out and pick up some more coconut oil but soaping isn’t high on my priority list this weekend.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Finished, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t Forget – Soap Giveaway

You have one week left to enter to win a 6 pack soap sampler. Leave a comment and you’re entered!

Last week, I left you with a teaser about an upcoming work in progress – a cardigan for John. When the newest KnitPicks catalog arrived, I showed John one of the pictures of a man’s cardigan that I thought he might like. He wanted to see more so I brought up the KP web site and showed him the rest of the pictures there. He liked it. He liked it a lot. When I asked him if I should purchase the yarn and pattern, he said yes! I didn’t wait!

The yarn was ordered and has already arrived. I have been told, though, that I am not allowed to start the sweater until his slippers are finished. Yeah, they’re still not done.

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The pattern is the Hidden Light Cardigan; to see more pictures, click here. When I showed John the colour choices in the yarn, he pointed to the picture and said, “That one.” Apparently, he really likes that cardigan in that colour. I like it, too, so we’re going with it. I’ve already done a test swatch (just a swatch, that’s all!) and my gauge is right on so I’m good to go… as soon as his slippers are done.

This weekend is a weekend without grandchildren around so I’m getting a few things done. Once I’m finished with this post, I’ll be knitting. Care to guess what I’ll be working on?

Already today, I’ve been out – had my hair cut this morning, wandered around the farmer’s market, did some shopping, picked up a new mold for my soaps, stuff like that. Just before I sat down to write this post, I made a small batch of soap to fill my new mold… and a few more molds.

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I love the Fat Daddio’s silicone molds; the flower molds are so pretty. This one is the daisy; I have my eye on the sunflower, the narcissus, and the rose molds as well but those are a special order. I made a small batch of soap with sunflower oil, superfatted with 1 teaspoon of argan oil and scented with the last of my neroli essential oil. It’s setting now and I can barely wait to see how it comes out. The recipe this time is one of my own devising.

Now, I’m done here for today… I’m off to get comfy and finish those %*$(&^# slippers.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, John's Sweater, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mobius and More

I should feel badly about not keeping up with this blog, shouldn’t I? It must seem that I’ve been ignoring it, and you, for some time now. That isn’t true, though. There really hasn’t been much to blog about. Life is just ticking along at it’s usual pace, one day fading into another as they go by in a blur. Then it’s the weekend and there’s plenty to do around the house in preparation for the next week.

However, I am still here. Life’s been busy, work has been busy, weekends have been busy. And inspiration, sadly, has been pretty much non-existent. That said, I did accomplish one small project this week. One of the ladies I work with and I were talking about a mobius strip last week and, being a knitter in the know, I asked her is she’d ever knitted one? She thought about it and asked if it wasn’t just a scarf made into a mobius by giving it one twist and sewing it together. When I tried to explain mobius knitting to her, she didn’t understand any part of it. So I made a mobius scarf.

mobius

I brought Cat Bordhi’s, “A Treasury of Magical Knitting” to work to show my co-worker and even it elicited confused and puzzled looks.

It wouldn't hurt me to smile, would it?

It wouldn’t hurt me to smile, would it?

I like this cowl/scarf. The yarn is ancient. I do mean that. Years ago, before my youngest daughter was born, I knitted myself a really nice cardigan. There was just one problem. Let’s me put it this way – I wore it to the hospital the day she was born. The cardigan was buttoned up and there was still room to spare. Yes, it was far too big for me.

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I reclaimed the yarn and eventually re-knit (mostly) the cardigan but never completely finished it because… well… because now it’s too small. So, the yarn is fair game. I will not knit this cardigan a third time. It is, incidentally, Scheepjes Dordogne; I doubt it’s even made anymore.

dordogneIn other knitting, John’s sweater is languishing in a basket in my living room. I’m up to the armhole shaping but just can’t seem to get motivated to work on it. I’ve been spending more time cooking on the weekends than I have knitting. He has mentioned more than once, though, that it would be nice to have a new sweater by Christmas. Yikes! The pressure!!

I’ve also been doing a bit of painting. A few weeks ago, I painted this little painting from a photo I found online.

003I wasn’t completely happy with it, to be honest so I tried to paint it again. I’m much happier with my second attempt.

002My next project will become our Christmas cards this year. I have to say, I’m really having fun with my watercolours. Incidentally, if you’re interested, I’ve added a page to the blog. In the upper right corner of this blog, you’ll see a tab with the different pages on this blog. There you’ll find a page entitled “From My Palette”. That page is where I’ll add my paintings as they’re done.

 

 

 

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Finished, John's Sweater, Knitting, Painting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Well Now…

I’ve been nominated for a blog award. I’ve never heard of the Liebster award but I’m honoured nonetheless. It will take some thinking before I post my own nominations, answers to questions and my own questions for those bloggers I am to nominate. Keep your eyes open.

In the meantime, more progress is being made on John’s sweater. I’m trying to work on it a little bit every day and, at this point, I have almost 11″ done on the front. I’ve been alternating between knitting Continental and English as both my wrists have been giving me some problems. I’m glad I can switch back and forth between the two techniques. Interestingly, I’m not noticing any difference in the tension between the two methods. I hate to say it but I seem to have a knack for keeping my tension pretty even (my mother has commented on that fact in the past; it used to drive her crazy as you can read her mood at any given time over the course of knitting a project by looking at her tension).

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The last couple of days have seen a bit of a welcome change in the weather around here. The nights have been cooler, with a couple of nights of temperatures around 8ºC (46.4ºF); I even put an extra blanket on my side of the bed! Yesterday, we had some much needed rain and today the sunshine is back. The temperature, though, is finally a little cooler than it has been (around 23ºC or 73ºF). It’s a lovely day, really. As a matter of fact, this is the kind of day I enjoy… not so hot that it makes cooking a torturous task but not so cool that you need to add a layer for warmth.

Because it isn’t so hot, I’ve been busy in the kitchen most of the morning. There is now a batch of homemade, very seedy and grainy, granola bars packed into a tin, ready for the coming week’s lunches; there’s a batch of homemade hummus in the fridge (a little too heavy on the tahini for John’s taste, though), and we’ve had a lovely big brunch that should last us until dinner (bacon, eggs, whole grain bread, and yogurt with fresh blueberries and peaches).

granola bars

And out in the garden, things are looking good. John’s been having some back problems this summer so we haven’t been out in the garden as much as we should but we have been eating from the garden almost daily for the last month. While I was outside today, hanging up a load of laundry, I was looking at my little herb garden and some of the potted plants.

herb gardenThis is, quite literally, just outside our back door. The empty patch is where we had lettuce growing; it’s now finished. In addition to what you can see here, the stick just to the left of the word “Basil” indicates where the French Tarragon is. Lovely stuff! As well, to the right of the rosemary and the basil, there are two kinds of parsley, Italian and regular old ruffled parsley.

I was blown away by my bay tree today. It has put on a magnificent spurt of growth this summer. And, not only has it grown, it is about to bloom!

All of the light green is new growth. Amazing!

All of the light green is new growth. Amazing!

Check out the buds…

bay laurel 2I’ll post pictures of the flowers once they bloom. I have to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing what they look like. I think this little tree is loving the weather this summer.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Garden, John's Sweater, Just stuff, Knitting, The Weather | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Progress on More Than One Front

I’ve had an enjoyable week. As the title of this post indicates, I’ve made progress on more than one front. I celebrated my … *mumble, mumble* birthday this week. I guess that’s progress; it certainly is a progression of time.

This week also saw a decision made. As you may, or may not, know, I’ve been going to the gym on a one month free membership that John won at a golf event a while back. Well, that one month has come and gone and this week was decision time. I did check out another gym, even closer to my work (about as close as one can get, actually; they’re next door to where I work) but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the facility or the prices. It was an easy decision to make; I’ve taken out a two year membership at the gym and I’m committing myself to going three times a week, minimum. I’ve been going Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so far and I intend to keep going with that. It feels good to have made that decision.

As well, I’ve committed myself to going for at least one good walk on the weekends (weather permitting). Today, I went for a 4.5 mile (7 km) walk, with some hills and straight stretches. My pedometer tells me I burned over 500 calories on that walk! I’m quite pleased with myself, to be honest.

I’ve also made progress on John’s sweater… in more ways than one.

parker002That’s 5″ worth of knitting so far. I haven’t been working on it daily but I do find it’s knitting up fairly quickly and has almost become mindless. The pattern is truly quite simple; it’s a p1, k2 repeat, which is why it’s ALMOST mindless. I do find myself occasionally doing p2, k2.

parker003I’ve only posted this second picture because it’s more indicative of the true colour. The yarn, incidentally, is Knit Picks City Tweed heavy worsted (55% Merino, 25% Superfine Alpaca and 20% Donegal Tweed). It’s lovely and soft and almost feels like some of the newer acrylic blends (blasphemy, I know). I think it will quickly become one of John’s favourites to wear.

The last bit of progress is something you can’t see. When it comes to knitting, I’m a “thrower”. Usually. Well, that 5″ of knitting in the two pictures has been done primarily in Continental. I’ve always known how to knit continental but I’ve never been comfortable with the purl stitches. I’ve decided I want to get more comfortable with continental and I’m definitely making progress towards that goal.

As I said at the outset, this has been a week of progress… and that feels great!

 

 

Categories: Blogging, Health, John's Sweater, Knitting | Tags: , | 7 Comments

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