Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Midweek Miscellanea

::  It felt nice to turn the calendar to February at the beginning of this week, partly because I was feeling pretty done with January, and partly because my calendar is one I made myself using pictures from my trip to Ireland last September. I have a whole year of Ireland to look forward to this way, and the thrill of turning the calendar page each month is made even better by the fact that I made the calendar so long ago I've forgotten which pictures I used, so it will be a year of surprises.

::  In knitting news I have finished another Milo, this one in a newborn size for a friend's daughter who has just had her first baby.

::  On the sewing front I laid out all squares for the quilt I'm making on the floor of the upstairs bedroom, trying to get the colour groupings right. I then started sewing squares together. Three rows in I started to feel overwhelmed, so took a break and put together this Sailor Top by Fancy Tiger Crafts. It was fast, easy and fun, and I'm sure I'll wear this top a lot once the weather warms up a bit.

::  I have been eating gluten-free for over four years. In December I decided it was time to do a trial of gluten. I introduced spelt into my diet, and I have to say it was wonderful. I enjoyed cooking with it every bit as much as I did eating it. Working with bread dough and rolling out pastry crusts again was a delight. But, alas, after a month of eating spelt it was becoming clear that we were going to have to part ways. Knowing this, I made one last pie. It wasn't just any old pie. It was a raspberry huckleberry pie. It might just be my very favourite food in the whole world. I use a recipe out of my old Joy of Cooking book, a treasure that is one of the things I would grab on my way out of my home should it ever catch on fire. Where else would I be able to find recipes for things like beaver tail, muskrat or lamb head? I suspect even Google might fail me in those culinary areas.

::  The weather here lately can be summed up in one word. Rain. There was a brief respite on Monday so I had a chance to hike up Teapot Hill. It's always fun to see if any new teapots have been left since my previous hike.

::  Remember the picture I had at the end of my last blog post? I submitted it to the BC CBC's Listeners' Lens and it was chosen as the feature photo of the day. I was pretty chuffed about it. So chuffed I took a screen shot of the website.

::  I've had another picture appear on a website recently. My brother needed a profile picture for a dating site and used one from last summer when we hiked to Lindeman Lake. This wouldn't be a big deal except for one small detail. I'm in the picture!! Yes, unbeknownst to me, I have been on the Farmersonly dating site, a place that proudly proclaims "city folks just don't get it." I only found out about this yesterday, and he has since put his account on hold, but still...

::  There's nothing sadder than a weiner dog that's missing her person. Jay has been away visiting his sister for a few days, and Jenny has spent most of that time watching out the window, waiting for him to return. Jay being away has resulted in me curtailing some of my evening consumption of British crime dramas. I'm a chicken at heart, and there's no way I could sleep at night if I had just watched something scary. He returns today, so I plan on catching up on my shows tonight. And Jenny can stop pouting.

::  Happy February!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I've often felt like someone who travels through life as an outlier. I find myself frequently being squeezed by the flat end of the bell curve, and there's no predicting which end of the curve it's going to be. Sometimes I find I have developed an interest in something long before it becomes trendy. Knitting would be a good example of this. Other times I find that by the time I decide to try something it's a quaint relic from the past. This weekend's sewing adventure falls into the latter category.

On Friday I saw a post by Meredith at the Mereknits blog about some jeans she remade into a denim skirt. This intrigued me. After all, who doesn't have an old pair of jeans in their closet? I'm guessing almost everyone. And who doesn't think a jean skirt would be the perfect addition to their wardrobe? Okay, well, maybe almost nobody. But that didn't stop me from thinking these would be a brilliant thing to make and then wear.

So Saturday afternoon, instead of working on the quilt I had just cut out several hundred squares for, I grabbed an old pair of jeans, looked at several tutorials online (I mostly used this one), and started ripping and cutting.

Ripping isn't my favourite thing to do, but the good news is because I have had to do so much of it on previous projects I'm actually not bad at it.

At this stage they sort of resembled the grown-up version of the pants I've seen on toddlers in China.

The cut off legs provide the material for the front and back inserts. Pinning them in was fairly straightforward, but sewing them was a bit of a pain.

It wasn't until after I finished that I found out turning your jeans into a skirt was a thing back in the 70s. So there you have it, my fashion blast from the past. And yes, I've worn it and it was incredibly comfortable, which trumps trendy any day.

I also made pajama bottoms last week. I went to the fabric store for thread, but couldn't walk out without these knitting sheep!

This picture has nothing to do with anything I wrote about in this post. I'm offering it up to soothe your eyes after looking at multiple pictures of a pair of mutilated old jeans.

I'm curious. Does anyone else feel like a Life Outlier? Do you ever feel like you are either way behind or way ahead of everyone around you? Or possibly not even on the same planet?

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Knitter's Roll

There's been a flurry of finishing here at the Hammond cottage. There's something about January that seems to make my needles go faster. The projects almost seem to finish themselves. Instead of my usual knitters math of casting on two projects for every one I finish, I'm actually at a one to one ratio. But before I start the picture parade, a word of warning. This post is 100% knitting content, so if knitting isn't your thing you might want to skip this particular post.

My brother asked me if I could knit him a toque that would match his neon green ski pants and black jacket. He texted me a picture and my first thought was where in the world was I going to find neon green yarn. Then I remembered I had some leftover from making mittens a few years ago. Gotta love stash! It's the popular Turn A Square by Jared Flood.

Next up is a classic case of "the cobbler's children have no shoes." During our two weeks of winter Jay was trying to find a hat. It turns out he doesn't own one. Feeling somewhat humiliated, I quickly cast on a Rib-A-Roni with some lovely Madelinetosh yarn. (The hat is being modelled by my son-in-law due to the fact that my husband has decided to grow a beard. This blog is officially boycotting the beard. )

This pattern has been in my Ravelry queue for quite some time. It's Rye, by Tin Can Knits. I knit a man's size with sport weight yarn. This was a quick and fun pattern!

Just in time for Valentine's Day! A Milo with a heart cable pattern. Another great "go to" baby pattern. I made a couple for Lucy when she was little, and now it's Ella's turn.

I was so happy with how this Wee Envelope by Ysolda Teague turned out. It fits perfectly, and I think it really suits Ella.

This last photo isn't something that I knit this month, but I wanted to show you Ella wearing her Christmas Licorice Allsorts sweater. It's still a bit big, but that's okay. It should fit perfectly by the time spring rolls around. Doesn't she look like a wee gnome?

January is just halfway over, so I'm sure there will be more knitting completed before the month ends. What do you have on your needles?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Taste of Winter

Winter in the southwest corner of British Columbia can be challenging. Not because we suffer through months of snow and cold and ice. No, the challenge here is, sadly, we often seem to miss out on these things. There's something so fresh and beautiful about newly fallen snow. I love the way it coats the trees and covers the ground. I like the quiet that blankets the outdoors after it's fallen. And, of course, being a knitter I enjoy getting a chance to wear the toques and mittens and scarves that spend most of the year tucked away in a chest.

So when the snow started falling over the holidays I was almost as excited as Lucy was when she was outside giggling as the white stuff was coming down around her. It is slowly warming up again now, but we had a good two week stretch of winter conditions, which is two weeks more than we got last year.

The water temperature is warmer than the air, causing a mist to rise up from the lake's surface.

Ice has built up on logs near the shore.

Hoar frost has coated plants and branches.

It's also coated these bird feathers on the beach.

I've been having fun using the snow as a backdrop for pictures of my knitting. I just finished this Milo vest for Ella. Heart cables seemed a good match for the colour of the yarn. Ravelry details here.

But there are reminders that we do live in a place that sees spring much sooner than the rest of Canada. These have just made an appearance in our yard.

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post. There were a couple questions I wanted to answer. Leanne asked if we ate all the food I bought to feed everyone over Christmas. Yes, we ate our way through almost all of it! There was one pound of bacon and two of the ten dozen eggs left, along with a bit of salad and the two ham bones. If they had stayed another day we would have been in trouble.

Janet asked if I could explain Teapot Hill. For those of you who are new to my blog and are wondering about this oddly named place, you can read about it in this previous post. To be honest, sometimes I worry that you are going to get Teapot fatigue. I tend to write a lot about it, and post a fair number of pictures from there as well. But it's a big part of my life. I hike it at least once a week during the winter, and several times a week the rest of the year. It's one of the things I love the most about where I live. The funny thing is, after writing a post about how much I love the winter, the one downside to the cold and icy weather is that I haven't been able to get up Teapot since the hike with my brother and niece. It's treacherous right now. A friend and I attempted it on New Year's day and turned back. The path was a sheet of ice. Which means there's a bright side to the melting snow and warmer days. I'll soon be back to hiking Teapot.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Confession Time

I sat down this morning to sort through my pictures in order to do a post about Christmas. In a matter of minutes I felt completely overwhelmed by the number of pictures I had taken. As I scrolled through all of them I also realized that if I included a photo of each person who was here to celebrate, you were going to have a severe case of picture fatigue before you got through even half of the blog post. So my apologies, but you are stuck with this Cole's Notes version of the 2015 Hammond Christmas.

I'll start out with the group picture, just so you know we really did have an overflowing cottage. If you throw in the photographer (that would have been me), the head count was fifteen. It's not a perfect picture, but with that many people, plus an errant dog making an appearance, this is as good as it gets.

One of the very special parts of the holiday was my mom getting to spend time with both of her great granddaughters.

It was my niece Danielle's first visit to our cottage, so of course I had to take her up Teapot Hill. Here she is at the very top, holding one of the 33 teapots we spotted on the hike.

Two days before Christmas we got snow! It was Lucy's first time playing in it, and she was hilarious. She kept flinging herself down, making snow angels. Then she would hold out her tongue and try to catch snowflakes on it, giggling the whole time. Most of all, she loved making a snowman.

Here's the Wowligan sweater I knit for Lucy. The picture of her wearing it isn't great, but it was the best I could manage when trying to get a two year old on a Christmas cookie high to model. Ravelry details here.

Ella's Oslo-Anorak, which I have renamed Licorice Allsorts,  is just a little too big, so pictures of her wearing it will follow in a few weeks. Besides, even if it had fit, there was no way to get her into the sweater because someone was always holding her. My brother was especially guilty of this. Every time I turned around he had Ella!

Christmas is a funny thing. Weeks, and perhaps months if you are a knitter, go into planning it. Then there is this intense, crazy, busy, loud, fun time together that is over in a heartbeat. It was wonderful having everyone here, and we had a great time together. But I have to confess, when it was over I felt a bit like this picture.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Almost There!

In a few days the Big Day will be upon us. I would like to tell you that I have everything under control, that my larder is stocked, and the presents are wrapped and under the tree. The reality is that if my guests walked into this cottage right now I think they would call the public health department and have us condemned. Well, at least my mom would. The presents are wrapped, but there is no way we can put them under the tree. The cat would eat all the ribbon off, and the dogs would take care of what remained.

As far as the food is concerned, I am only halfway there. Tomorrow should finish the job, although I am more than a little concerned about where all the food is actually going to go since my fridge is already stuffed. The good news is that I have a wonderful neighbour who has agreed to let me put some of the overflow in her fridge. It all balances out, as another neighbour has her turkey in our freezer.

I will return in the New Year, but before I sign off I want to leave you with some Christmas shopping advice. If you find yourself at the grocery store with a cart piled high with food, it really isn't a good idea to plop a huge container (think Costco size!) of grape tomatoes on top of that stack of food. It's an even worse idea to reach over the top of that pile of food to grab the specialty cheese you have your eye on. If you do happen to have such a lapse, my next piece of advice is to stand still. Do not move. Failure to follow this advice will lead to the strange sensation of dozens of tomatoes popping under your shoes. At this point I have no other advice to offer, other than to maybe take a second, more competent adult shopping with you.

This Christmas picture of me was taken in 1959 (Call the Midwife era), which puts me right between the ages of Lucy and Ella.

And here I am with my brother, in what I'm guessing must have been 1965. I'm very happy that he'll be spending Christmas with our family this year, along with his daughter Danielle and my mom.

I hope that wherever you find yourself over the holidays that you have a wonderful time, and I'll touch in again in the New Year. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Clueless in Cultus

Sometimes I feel like I go through life knitting with just one needle. Or, roughly translated for you non-knitters out there, I'm not always the sharpest crayon in the box. For instance:

:: Until two weeks ago I had never heard of Adele. You might think I'm making this up, but it's true. Now that I know she's the world's most popular and apparently most talented female singer it occurs to me that I must have run across her name before. But I'm not much for following stories about celebrities, so I guess I never paid any attention. Not paying attention happens to be one of my specialties.

:: I had no clue I couldn't bring back a bottle of whisky from the US if I hadn't been out of the country for at least 48 hours. On previous day trips to Bellingham I've purchased wine and/or beer at Trader Joe's and brought it home without a problem. So last week when I was there and read in their Christmas flyer that they had a Trader Joe label single malt Scotch whisky that, if it had the label on from the distillery it came from, would be recognizable as a quality Scotch whisky, and was being sold for only $34.95, I figured I didn't have anything to lose. Wrong. It turns out that the import taxes on a bottle of whisky, no matter how great a deal it was, are $55.00. Luckily for me the nice gentleman in the customs office let me off with a warning. His words to me were, "I can see you're not a bad person." My reply was, "No, but I am a stupid one."

:: While I was at Trader Joe's I also bought some chestnuts. I love roasted chestnuts, but I've only ever eaten ones I've purchased from a street vendor. You know - the kind that get scooped out and put into a small bag and handed to you by a person who looks like they haven't washed their hands in the last 25 years. I'm thinking these aren't going to be quite the same. In fact, I have no clue how to roast them. If you have any experience or tips for cooking chestnuts please share in the comment section.

:: I was digging around in our crawlspace looking for Rebekah's baby book - the one where I recorded memorable things from her first year like when she started solids, when she got her first tooth, etc. I never did find it, and after giving it some serious thought realized she was the third child and actually, even if such a baby book exists, it's probably almost completely blank. But I did find Karsten's baby book, and was surprised when I opened it up and a bank book from 1982 (the old-fashioned kind that used to keep track of how much you had in your account) fell out. It was for a savings account in Chicago, opened my my brother on Karsten's first birthday. I have no memory of this gift. I phoned my brother. He has no memory of giving this gift. Not only that, when he contacted the bank it turns out that after three years they no longer keep accounts. So much for that $100.

:: I spotted this strange bird on my walk to Lindell Beach last week. I have no clue what it is. Is it a domestic bird? A wild one?

:: When I started Lucy's Christmas sweater I didn't take into account that it was going to need 30 eyes sewn on. The quest for buttons, and the application of those buttons after I finally found them, took more time than the actual knitting of the sweater.

:: I found a seasonal doormat at IKEA a couple weeks ago. Perhaps I should have looked a bit more closely before I purchased it.

:: And just so I don't leave you with the impression that there's a total vacuum between my ears, I do manage to get a few things right. Here's Ella, sporting the new hat I made for her. Ravelry details here.