Saturday, April 30, 2016


For those of you who aren't on Ravelry let me explain what an UGH is. When you post a project on Ravelry you can rate it. The lowest happiness rating is called an UGH. These projects are ones that didn't live up to their knitter's expectations in a major way. Some of them are hilarious. Socks that two feet could fit into, a onesie knit for a boyfriend that didn't quite work out, a mismatch of yarn and project, a pattern that was riddled with errors, for these reasons and many more a project can end up with this label.

Now I need to go back in time, about eight years if my memory is correct. I started knitting a sweater called Ribby Cardi. Looking back I'm not sure exactly why I started knitting this sweater. It has all the elements of a sweater that usually have me running for the hills trying to get far, far away from it. It is knit in five separate pieces, meaning there are five pieces to sew together. In this case they aren't just sleeves, they are raglan sleeves meaning there is a lot more seaming required than usual. Plus, and here is the real deal killer, this sweater has a zipper that needs to be sewn in. I despise sewing in zippers. Not only did I start knitting a sweater that had finishing details that would make a trip to the dentist for a root canal look like a more pleasant way to spend one's time, I had purchased cheap yarn to knit it with.

All of this meant that after knitting both fronts, the back and one sleeve I stuffed it in a bag and shoved it to the very back of a closet. Because if I finished that second sleeve I would then be faced with all of that finishing work I so despise. Fast forward to this spring. I was listening to a Knit British podcast and Louise made the wise suggestion to go through your stash and look at your unfinished projects. Then make a decision. Either rip it out or finish it. Those of you who aren't knitters might think this would be obvious, but to those of us who are knitters, well, I guess you could say we live in a state of unwarranted optimism as far as our projects go.

So I started thinking about that sad, neglected Ribby Cardi crumpled in a heap at the back of my craft closet. I eventually pulled it out and gave it some long, hard thought. In the end I decided to finish it. After all, it was almost done. Well, at least the knitting portion. And I did like the look of the sweater. And I don't own a single cardigan. Like so many other dreaded tasks, finishing the second sleeve wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. In a few short nights it was complete and I was feeling pretty good about my knitterly self.

Those feelings did not last. I will spare you the trials and tribulations of trying to find a matching two-way zipper, which resulted in an order to an online zipper store. And I won't bore you with the details of installing that zipper. After all, there's not much of interest that can be said about FIVE hours of my life spent inserting the stupid thing. Which, I should add, looks like a five year old did it. Nor will I go on about sewing in raglan sleeves. I will leave it at this. Never. Again.

Of course, it all would have been worth it had I been left with something that was wearable.

 It doesn't look bad from the side.

It's passable from the back.

But from the front, all I have to say is UGH. I have a category of my wardrobe, much larger than it probably should be, that I think of as my dog walking clothes. This doesn't even qualify for that. It's going directly to the thrift shop, and I will just have to accept the fact all those hours of seaming and putting in that blasted zipper are hours of my life I will never get back.

Happily, there have also been some non-UGH things this past week. Alexandra and Josh came down for a visit.

And Rebekah and Ella were out his week for a few days while Anton was in San Francisco for work.

Some goslings have hatched down at the pond.

And now I am heading to Victoria to meet my new grandson Oliver, and to see my sweet Lucy. I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hello Oliver!

Oliver Changyi Hammond was born Monday morning, and we are all so excited! Both Diana and the baby are doing well, and were able to go home from the hospital Tuesday.

Diana had the great idea of getting a baby doll for Lucy as a gift from her new brother Oliver.

As much as she loves the baby doll I think she is even more taken with the real thing!

I especially love this picture. The red blanket was Diana's when she was a baby. They used it when Lucy came home from the hospital, and now it is being used for Oliver. I don't think Diana has many keepsakes from her childhood in China, which makes it that much more special.

Lucy is right there, wanting to help out at every opportunity.

They've already gone for an outing to the beach. I can't believe how great Diana looks just a few days after giving birth. I plan to go meet Oliver next week, and, as you might guess, I can hardly wait!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Sundries

:: I did the latest update on my Macbook yesterday, and when I went to write this post I discovered I could no longer open my Photos application. That meant I had to email myself the pictures I wanted for this post and then open them on my desktop to be able to access them.

:: I have started using Bloglovin, and for the most part I really like it. However, there is one fairly major problem with it. Every time I leave a comment on a blog now I get one of those emails telling me my email couldn't be delivered. I have no idea why this is happening since I am not sending an email. If anyone who uses Bloglovin has encountered this problem and figured out a solution I would love to hear from you.

:: My technical difficulties extend beyond my computer. I think I'm entering one of my awkward phases again. Last week at the market I went to place a bag of green beans at the checkout. Unfortunately the zip lock seal at the top wasn't done up and the green beans went flying. Then a couple days ago I dropped my favourite Weck jar on the counter. It made a bad noise, but when I looked at it it appeared to be fine. But last night my husband brought the jar to me after finishing his dessert (they are brilliant for individual dessert portions) and showed me the crack along the bottom.

:: I don't know if you remember me blogging about I sweater I started last spring that ended up resembling a bag. Seriously, when I got up to the armholes and took it off the needles to try on I was horrified to see that two, possibly even three, of me could have fit in it. I was so disappointed. The yarn was a wool/linen blend from Blacker Yarns in the UK. I loved the yarn, and I had really wanted a sweater that would be great to wear on cool spring days or in the evening in the summer once the sun goes down. I promptly stuffed it all in a bag and shoved it to the back of my craft closet where it sat in a time out until this spring.

:: This time around I picked a completely different kind of pattern. Basically that means I was looking for one that wasn't bag shaped. This is Backshore, by Alicia Plummer.

:: It's everything I was hoping it would be, and I've already worn it several times. I wasn't sure I was going to like knitting with something that had linen in it, but it turns out this yarn is a dream to knit with. I will definitely be using it again.

:: This wee mouse was spotted by my friend's grandson on a recent hike up Teapot. Aren't those ears adorable?

:: We also spotted this teapot. The blue and white pattern is very beautiful, but it left me wondering who would want a teapot with a hole in the middle. Perhaps that's the very reason it's hanging on a branch on Teapot Hill rather than occupying a kitchen.

:: I never get tired of the way the light filters through the trees on a sunny day. Depending on the angle of the sun, plants, branches, patches of moss, spider webs, needles and leaves on the path, or even a whole mountainside can appear to be glowing. Here's nature's version of a garland.

:: The sun is shining and our forecast high for this afternoon is 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit). It's still quite cool this morning, but once it warms up I plan to spend some of my Sunday afternoon sitting on my front porch with my knitting and a cold drink. What about you? Do you have any special plans for the day?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Button Delay

I meant to write this post earlier in the week. The problem was the content. I had two little baby sweaters I had finished, one more than a month ago, and I wanted to blog about them. But both sweaters needed buttons. My powers of procrastination when it comes to a dreaded job, be it cleaning, crafting, or anything else are not to be underestimated. On Wednesday I gave myself a stern talking to, and went as far as making a note.

A Post-It note usually motivates me, but in this case I ended up putting a very loose interpretation on the word "tonight." Three days later there were still no buttons, and no blog post. Yesterday, possibly motivated by the fact it was a lovely day and I could sit on the front porch while I worked, I finally got the buttons sewn on.

This is the Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann. It is the fifth one I have knit, and every time I make one I marvel at her brilliance. You would think after five of them I would start to understand how it all works out the way it does, but I remain as clueless now as I was when I cast on my very first one.

I think the puppy buttons are perfect. Fergus and Jenny agree.

The second sweater is a Puerperium, which is intended for a newborn baby. I made one for Ella when she was born and Rebekah really liked it. It's always nice to know something you knit for a baby is actually wearable. I have made a couple of duds in the past, so now I try to pick projects that are as practical as they are cute.

There was a slight delay in sewing on these buttons while I tended to an injury. The buttons were stapled onto a piece of cardboard, and I was using my seam ripper to pry them off. Here's a tip. It's a really good idea to point the seam ripper away from your other hand while doing this. If you don't, when the staple comes loose the point of the seam ripper will end up impaling the palm of your hand. Is it any wonder I hate sewing on buttons?

I'm sure you've figured out by now there is a new grandchild on its way. In a couple of weeks Lucy is going to have a little brother! We are all very excited, and I already have lots of little boy sweaters in my Ravelry queue that I hope to knit.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Short Long Weekend

The Easter long weekend has come and gone. Well, sort of come and gone. Today is Easter Monday, and I always find it a bit confusing. In Canada it is one of those semi-holidays. Schools, libraries, the post office and government offices are closed, but for everyone else it seems to be a regular day.

Rebekah, Anton and Ella were out for an overnight, and we had so much fun watching Ella explore.

This was her first experience with grass. Or, more accurately in the case of our lawn, moss, clover and buttercups.

Ella had her first trip up Teapot Hill. She seemed to enjoy the experience, but then again, who wouldn't if they got carried all the way up?

While Rebekah was here she kindly agreed to take some pictures of a couple of my finished knitting projects.

This is my Buchanan sweater, which is a Kate Davies design. I started this last August but then put it aside for a "few weeks" and cast on something else. Then another something else, etc., etc. The end result is those few weeks morphed into a few months, and now that I've finally finished it the weather has turned too warm to wear it. I fall into the crafter's category of Slow Learner.

I'm curious. Is today a holiday in your neck of the woods?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Settling In

:: I've just returned from another trip to Spokane, and I'm happy to report that my mom is back in her apartment and doing well. One of the things I miss the most about the area I grew up in is the amazing sunsets. This picture was taken from the back deck at my brother's home.

:: My apologies for the previous blog header. I knew it looked a bit blurry, but thought that might be because my reading glasses weren't strong enough. In between trips to Spokane I went to the eye doctor and got stronger reading glasses, and glasses for driving as my distance vision has also deteriorated. I was appalled when I put on the new glasses and saw the header was still blurry, but didn't have a chance to fix it until I got home.

:: This article about a man being attacked by a lion in Kenya caught my attention this morning, not because of the attack itself, but, rather, due to the fact it referred to the man as being elderly. He was 63. My eyes might be going downhill, but I hardly feel like I will be elderly in four more years. I would like to have a word or two with the young punk who wrote that article.

:: Jay asked me why I didn't have a picture of his cat Emily in my side bar. I told him his fondness for Emily reminded me of Hagrid's love for his pet dragon Norbert. He is totally blind to Emily's flaws. She once swiped Karsten with her paw and the infection that set in was so bad he had to go on a course of antibiotics. Her latest bad habit has been scratching the wood post at the top of the stairs. And in this picture she has been partying in a bag of CDs Jay checked out of the library, and has scattered the library tickets all over the floor. (Okay, honesty forces me to admit Fergus may have also been involved, but at least I am willing to own up to the flaws in my own pet.)

:: Fergus was at the vet last week for his vaccinations and a check-up. Apparently he is about two pounds over his ideal weight, so I've now got him on a strict diet. In his case this basically means keeping him from snacking on the cat's food all day long.

:: Ella Gordon has been named the Shetland Wool Week patron for 2016. I met Ella that wonderful day I visited the Jamieson & Smith shop, and I'm sure she'll do a terrific job in her role as patron. Today she released her Croofthouse Hat pattern, which I'm sure will be on many heads come this September.

:: The Edinburgh Yarn Festival is happening this weekend, and I'm feeling quite sorry for myself that I'm not attending. It feels like everyone else is there but me, but then I remind myself that actually most people don't even know what the Edinburgh Yarn Festival is. In fact, I'm guessing there are quite a few people who don't even know where Edinburgh is. If, like me, you feel like you are missing out on all the excitement, you can buy the Wool Tribe magazine which has six knitting patterns in it.

:: I have a finished knitting project to show you, and a finished sewing project. However, having fired my in-house photographer the pictures will follow at a later date. Selfies are okay for socks, hats and mitts, but not so great for sweaters and tunics.

:: In lieu of a finished project picture I am posting this one of Lucy, texted to me last week. This is the Wowligan I knit her for Christmas. There's something special about seeing the handknits you've made being worn out in the wild.

:: I bought some chestnut flour because I kept seeing it pop up in gluten-free recipes, especially recipes out of the UK. Of course, now that I have the flour I can't remember which recipes I had been looking at that inspired me to buy it. If you have any good recipes using chestnut flour I would really appreciate it if you left a comment.

:: The sun is shining and I plan to hike Teapot Hill again today. I never get tired of the way the light filters through the trees. 

:: Apologies for being absent from your blogs over much of the past month. I really need to start using Bloglovin because my current system of blog reading does not work on the iPad, which is what I use when I'm away from home. 

:: Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Between Weathers

The arrival of March has me wondering if there is an expression similar to "in like a lion, out like a lamb" that applies to "in like a monsoon." Having lived here for almost three years now I fear the second half of that phrase might be "out like a monsoon." I keep reminding myself this is the price to pay for living here, and also how appropriate it is that my street name has the word mossy in it.

Most of this past week has been spent recovering from the nasty bug I picked up while in Spokane, stocking up an empty fridge, and taking care of other jobs that need doing before I go back down towards the end of the week. I've managed to walk every day in between storms. They have been slow walks, but I have enjoyed every minute of them. There's nothing like being away from home for a couple of weeks to give you a new appreciation for surroundings you mostly take for granted. 

One of the advantages of traveling by car rather than by plane is the ability to pack multiple knitting projects. I took several WIPs along to work on in the evenings, including the Chinook Mitts I was making as part of the Knit British Nature's Shades Along. I finished knitting them while I was away, and when I got home I wove in all the ends.

It has been so nice to be able to cook again. Maybe a little bit too nice. I have been on a comfort food binge this week. Nigella's leek pasta bake was amazing. It's from her newest cookbook, Simply Nigella.  I really do try to cook healthy things most of the time, but every once in awhile I think it's nice to make something for no other reason than it tastes good. Nigella's recipes seem to mostly fall into that latter category. Oh, and I should add that I subbed gluten free flour and pasta and it still came out great. Sadly this isn't always the case when making those substitutions.

My great disappointment when I was in Wales a few years ago was not being able to enjoy eating Welsh cakes. This year I decided to celebrate St. David's Day by trying a gluten free recipe for Welsh cakes and they turned out great! Part of the reason they tasted so good might be the fact I splurged and used Kerrygold butter from Ireland when I made them. Oh my. Some people claim nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Others say heroin. They are wrong. There's something in that Irish butter that once consumed can never be forgotten.

I'm trying to fight off the urge to bake chocolate chip cookies, which might just be the ultimate comfort food. I'm also trying not to think about what they would taste like if I made them with some Kerrygold.