An elegant sufficiency

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


..or unknitting.

The Mobius scarf looked like this yesterday, but as soon as I cast off the needle, I knew it wasn't right.

Too long.
Too loose.
Too droopy.
Not wide enough.

So, out it came. Pity I'd done such a terrific job of working a picot cast off.
Will have another go with half the number of stitches and a smaller needle size soon.
Let's hope I don't overdo the redux.

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Sock done

Finished the first of my "holiday" socks last night - the knitting was already done, but I didn't take a sewing needle with me so couldn't do the toe. At the last minute, I changed my mind and left the green lace socks at home, thinking the pattern was way too complicated for me to do in anything less than peace and quiet. So, I started this pair for Mark, in the same Fortissima Socka yarn as the Jaywalker, but blue, using a pattern from Sensational Socks. The pattern is a false cable and is just the right balance between interest and mindless. Did a traditional heel on this one too, since he finds the short row heels make for difficulties getting socks on and off.

The cable pattern makes the finished sock very long and narrow, so I had to fold it to get it into the picture! Have started the second one already - can't have two cases of SSS at once.
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Monday, August 28, 2006

Holiday work

August Bank Holiday here, and so there's a quiet day to get on with some work.

Remember the angels from before my holiday? They still need sorting out, but rather than face those today, I worked on the gift box samples. Had to scale the pattern, which took forever, and make adjustments to the top, so that they could be fastened more simply, but I was quite pleased with the results.

Have done the instruction sheets, the patterns and the samples. Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle the angels...
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Like proverbial London buses

- no blog entry for a few days and then several all at once.

The fact that three different people offered me plums yesterday led me to go and look at the progress of our own. I knew they were not completely ripe, but thought I'd take a closer look and maybe get enough for a crumble.

I was right, the plums need a few more days of sunshine, but oh my goodness, the apples were dropping off the trees and there are so many of them!

This one had a rather cute "birthmark"

(It's now in a pie by the way!)

The fun came when I walked underneath the greengage tree and bumped my head on a branch - I was showered with a deluge of the small round, golden fruit which was so ripe it was ready to fall. I collected a large bowlful and brought them in for lunch. When I ran cold water into the bowl to wash them, bubbles of air formed around each fruit, giving the impression they were set in glass, each fruit having an individual crystal casing.

As soon as I put my hand in and disturbed them, the effect was gone.

The greengages are gone too. They were yummy!

Yarn close up

Lang Cleo yarn - see the Liquorice Allsorts?
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Any excuse

As soon as I bought the Magical Knitting book, I knew I just had to have a go, if only to work it all out. I am hopeless at interpreting directions until I get my hands on and do it. I had three balls of Lang Cleo in my stash from a trip to Zürich last Spring and armed with the larger 60" needles I bought in Boston, I cast on 160 stitches in the "mobius way" - actually a total of 320 stitches, but don't ask me to explain! I've knit the three balls up and am now casting off a picot edge - and it is taking forever.

The yarn consists of a fairly thick untwisted wool with a strand of pastel coloured loopy synthetic running through. The pale pink and lemon yellow loops remind me of liquorice allsorts - any excuse to open a packet, eh, Jordi?!
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A place for everything

In last weeks post about Canterbury and the Shakers, I made reference to their method of ensuring nothing got lost. Communal living meant that things would inevitably go astray and they managed this by marking everything with a letter (to denote the building) and up to two numbers (to denote the room and possibly the table/drawer/cupboard) where the item belonged. Every broom, flat iron, box, basket, chair, towel - not to mention clothes - was labelled in this way. At the time, I joked that I thought Mark must have lived in a Shaker community during a former life.

As I try to find homes for all the piles of "stuff" which are still around from our trip, I wonder if it would be any easier if everything here was marked in a similar way? But what pleasure to rediscover things which have remained hidden in the bottom of a suitcase for a couple of weeks, forgotten!
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

a few bits and pieces

Canada was a great place to find bits and pieces like these pompom makers, since at more than 2 Canadian dollars to a pound, the prices are incredible. Good bead shop found too, so brought a few cubes and hexes back, probably to share with my friend and extraordinarily talented beader Fanny.

Book posts were from the Paper Source, which we knew from our Californian trips, but which we were delighted to find in Boston. I think - know - I have some other papery treasures from Toronto in some pile or other, which will come to light in the next few days. The Paper Place was rather similar in feel to the Paper Source, but with a more Japanese edge to it - and that's exactly the edge I love!
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

And then....

A bit of felting. I've admired the Noni bags for ages and wanted to get a pattern, particularly for the fabulous felted flowers. Selected my bag pattern whilst at Webs and was checking inside to find out how much Cascade 220 yarn was required, only to find the bag pattern didn't include the instructions for the flowers. So, decided to just go for the felted rose pattern; though the camellia was great too, it will have to wait.

Since arriving home I have discovered that Get Knitted have the Cascade 220 yarn too and at £4.99 a skein, just a bit more than the $5.75 I paid for mine. Still, when I want more roses, I'll know where to shop.
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After the socks

At some point I will be bored with knitting socks, and then I can have a go at Ene, a lace scarf I have admired on so many blogs and which is in my Scarf Style book. That will be in the Schaefer Anne yarn here, in a blue/green hand dye. The Mountain Colors Mountain Goat yarn in the centre has a less certain purpose - perhaps a mobius scarf? And finally, the Sireno, another Great Adirondack Yarn company product is to become a Clapotis, because the knitted model in Webs store was just so silky and light, I knew I just had to make one myself. I shall be turning to Liz of Dreaming Spirals for advice before long, I'm sure. Posted by Picasa

Confession #1

Some socks will be knitted.

My little haul of sock yarn should be warming our tootsies soon. Clockwise, starting with two balls (colours 66 and 76) of Trekking XXL for Mark, "Soxie" Adirondack sock yarn in Bahama colour, my favourite pink and green "rhubarb" ArtYarn (Colour 105), and finally, some more Koigu for another pair of Stranded socks. This last one is rather brighter in real life than it appears here - the sunshine through the roof of the garden room did funny things to that one in particular.
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several hours later....

Well, the two or three hour delay to our flight soon became more serious as, although the plane was there, nothing appeared to be happening. All other flights had left and there were just the London passengers left. We began to suspect that something was amiss and would have made enquiries, had there been anyone around to answer them. When a uniformed member of Virgin staff appeared, she was mobbed and as the crowd began to move out of the departure lounge and back towards the check in area, we knew something was up and joined the stampede.

It seemed that, although our plane was there and ready, there was no-one available to fly it.

This is where we found ourselves somewhere around midnight - the airport hotel!

This was the reassuring view from our window - one solitary Virgin 747 remaining.

We eventually took off some 15 hours late and were thankful for a smooth and uneventful flight, arriving home just after 1am this morning.

Shopping confessions follow later.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Great exhibition

Spent this morning at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where we headed to see the exhibition "Americans in Paris". Super exhibition, well worth the visit and enjoyed by us both.

Now sitting at Boston, Logan airport awaiting our flight home, which is delayed by two hours. Ugh. It's hot, sticky and noisy. But, in the spirit of Pollyanna (whose author lived in Littleton, where we admired a small bronze outside the town library last week) I'm glad I could keep my lipstick with me as it seems as though lipsticks are exempt from the strict "no gels, liquids etc" rules. We may be hot, sweaty and grubby - but lips will be slick and pink!
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New Hampshire Choices

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I know, I know....

What did I say? Enough yarn already? Quite, but I didn't say anything about needles...

Whilst somewhere-or-other last week, I bought a copy of Cat Bordhi's Magical knitting book. Only realised too late that it requires exceptionally long needles - 60" recommended. Everywhere I've asked, I've drawn a blank, and I thought that I would be mail-ordering from home. Still, walking past Newbury Yarns today, I thought it worth asking. Bingo. Bought two 60" Addis, a 3.5mm and an 8mm. Oh, and a skein of Mountain Colors Mountain Goat yarn in "meadow" decided that it needed a good home, too.

Homeward bound this time tomorrow. Perhaps it's just as well!
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back to civilisation

Just arrived back in the civilised world of Boston, MA after a couple of days in "the wilds" of New Hampshire! Who would have thought that, in this land of plenty, we'd have found almost two whole states with no cellphone connection at all? For the last two days, we had enforced "peace and tranquillity" in an inn in Franconia, where, not only did we have no cellphone or internet, but no tv, telephone or newspapers either. Now, this might be a haven for some, but for those of us with responsibilities at home, particularly in a time of travel disruption - this is a far from relaxing situation to be in.

Anyhow, we are back in touch with the world and all appears to be fine. We might even be able to take a bag on board our flight home on Thursday evening!!

We stopped off at the Canterbury Shaker Village today, en route to Boston. What a fascinating place it was, and what a splendid guide we had to explain things for us. The craftsmanship all around was superb - in the meeting house, sets of small round markers were set into the wooden floor as positions for dancing - whether they were plain wooden dowel, stripy wooden dowel, copper discs, steel nailheads or black ?wood?, all were perfectly set and had remained so since they were placed there more than two centuries ago.

Of course, there was plenty of other evidence of the aesthetic aspects of their plain and simple life. We enjoyed seeing inside the laundry, with the "system" of making sure nothing got lost by applying numbers and letters to everything. The Sisters House with the spinning and weaving tools, knitting machine and examples of their work was interesting, and though we couldn't see a demonstration of making boxes, there were plenty of of which is in my suitcase! (Made in Canada, Nadine!)

No yarn shops today. I think that, even I have to say that I have enough yarn to be going on with. For now.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006


Yes, there was a yarn shop today - a very good one, too. Kaleidoscope Yarns in Essex Junction had another amazing selection of unusual hand-dyes, together with an excellent collection of good quality, plainer "extraordinaries". Nice, friendly service too - a warm welcome does make it easier to spend the pennies!

But we had fun at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, too. Someone with a great sense of humour there. as we browsed the shop after the tour, we wondered why this bear was labelled "an alien".

We soon found out why:

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Oh, there was another cute one:

He's called the "over the hill" bear.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Seen on a shop doorway today

Today we spotted this notice on the entrance to a shop. Though the Grumpy Shopkeeper might think she is the only shopkeeper of such disposition, I thought she might like to know that she has some way to go to match this one! Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 11, 2006

Another day, another yarn store

Today we had a mooch around the Berkshires, and, thanks to the landlady of the inn where we stayed last night, we found another amazing yarn store. This one goes by the name of Colorful Stitches and is in Lenox MA. What a wonderful selection of yarns were there to tempt me - though on closer inspection, many were Colinette, some were Rowan and others Debbie Bliss. Good to see the home team well represented! The skein which really wanted to come home with me is in the photograph - top left hand corner - a yummy melange of twinkle, eyelash, fuzzy and plain. But at $96 a skein (and I'm pretty sure I got that right) I really felt I could manage without.

We didn't only shop for yarn today. We also visited the Norman Rockwell house - terrific place - and Edith Wharton's home, The Mount which was also fascinating. My list of books to read when I get back gets longer, with the addition of The Age of Innocence. We also did a drive-by of the gingerbread house - errrmmmm, "quaint"? - and arrived at the Hancock Shaker Village twenty five minutes before closing. Drat. We will have to try to get to Canterbury later in the week.

So, we've had a busy day. Wherever we've been, people have commented about the security alert back home and the news channels here are, quite understandably, full of it. We have been pleased to be able to access the online BBC News website for a more familiar, authorative take on the situation. Let's hope the situation calms before we set off home in a week's time.
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Next in the "Yarn Shops of the World" series

Well, it was only just off our route today...

We're now in New England, in The Berkshires to be precise, and Webs was just a short detour from the Massachusetts Turnpike. My goodness! Jaw dropping stuff for people like me who think the Get Knitted warehouse in Bristol is large! Not only was there a huge showroom with a whole department for needles, another for weaving stuff (hardware, books and yarns), another section for spinning (again, hardware, books and fibres) there was almost every knitting yarn you could think of (and then some), books, patterns and magazines alongside.

So, just when I thought I'd seen it all, a helpful assistant showed me the "other stuff" - the warehouse! Almost as much again, in boxes and on shelves.

The staff were all delightful. Knowledgeable and prepared to offer opinion without being pushy. Understood about "unshopping" when the heap of yarn in the basket began to take over...

Confession time will be when I get home and I will reveal all my purchases. Yes, I left money there. My excuse is that I brought two skeins of yarn which I left with Nadine yesterday, and there was a two skein hole in my suitcase just begging to be filled. The rest can be squeezed in somewhere, I'm sure.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Meeting friends

One of the joys of participating in internet-based groups is getting to know like-minded friends from all over the world, and better still, meeting up with them in person from time to time.

Today, I met Nadine Fenton, artist, list-friend and author of the Knitting with a Poodle blog, between Ottawa and Montreal in what she described wonderfully as "the largest log cabin in the world"!

Nadine is a talented jewellery designer and makes the most exquisite rings, bracelets and necklaces using textile techniques in metal and semi precious stones. Her work is absolutely stunning - beautifully finished and about to be shown in some very prestigious places! I felt very privileged to see some of her newest pieces up close and can only say that however good her photographs on the website are, in reality the pieces are even better!

We enjoyed company for lunch in the form of our husbands, Mark and Todd, both of whom had chosen to wear their hand-knit socks today and modelled them with pride!

A really super day...pity we can't do it more often!
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blog as aide memoire

We've had a great day here in Ottawa, mooching around Parliament and then the National Gallery. Made lots of lists, which I will surely lose, so I thought I'd blog a bit. I know where I'll find the information then! The picture above shows one of the five ladies in a collection of bronze statues commemorating the successful attempt to admit women into the Canadian Senate in 1929. What character!

We began our gallery visit with a beer in the cafe...but moved swiftly on to the contemporary galleries where photographs were allowed! This room came as a surprise, for not only were the exhibits somewhat minimal, we both found we liked them! The picture above shows four: a rope, a black steel cube, a heap of industrial felt and lastly,"cayman", an arrangement of blocks in the angle between floor and wall. It rather snook up on us, because we'd walked past it without noticing it until we saw the information card on the wall. Mark especially liked the pile of felt - some wonderful twists and turns in there and it had quite a bit of personality. Unfortunately I failed to note the artist details, for which I apologise.

Unsurprisingly, no photographs were allowed in the permanent collection, so a click will be needed to see the pictures. The National Gallery of Canada website is a great one, though, and I've had fun setting up my own "cybermuse" gallery. The first painting to really grab our attention was Jean Paul Lemieux' "The Noon Train". This deceptively simple oil painting seemed to hold our attention and we would have loved to have brought it home with us! Other paintings which caught our eye for a variety of reasons were:

William Brymner "In the Orchard" and "A Wreath of Flowers"; Gustav Hahn's "Hail Dominion", which was painted thinly onto burlap (hessian) leaving much of the weave showing through; George Reid "Ave Canada"; Franklin Brownell "Lamplight" and H Mabel May's "The Regatta".

We would have cheerfully brought home any of the "Group of Seven" works, but especially coveted the small oil sketches by Tom Thomson, a Canadian artist of whom we knew nothing until today. One of this group was Lawren S Harris, whose "Snow II" had both of us amazed by the use of colour - by painting the snow in the foreground a deep lilac, Harris managed to create a wonderful sense of light in the background. Clever!

Finally, a curiosity. We stood for a while working out how Angelique Merasty managed to create the patterns by biting into birchbark. Described as a "birchbark biter", she created the "bittenbark patterns" with her teeth... I guess that creative people have to use whatever means they can to create their art.

Wonderful day. Terrific gallery - and we only did the Canadian bit. Thought the European art could wait until our next visit!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Croc additions

It wasn't until I packed my green crocs that I noticed underneath, the words "Made in Canada" - which explains all.

Since being here and seeing so many croc wearers, I've also noticed q few croc accessories. Yesterday, we came across a shop selling "turbo straps" and many of the "little girly" croc wearers have customised their crocs by fitting specially made jewels and little button-type shapes (flags and fruit etc) into the holes. Is there no end?!

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