Summertime, and the knittin’ is easy

POP Blanket – Loving it!

I sat in the shade under the blossoming weigela tree, the birds were sing-songing and the sun shone relentlessly.  A cool glass of lemonade within arm’s reach at all times, I knit away the hours.  This is an accurate description of how I spent my entire weekend.  No joke.  It was heaven on earth.  I prepared no meals, did no housework (except for unloading the dishwasher once and running a load of laundry on Sunday afternoon) and the only exertion my brain suffered was calculating how much more yarn I was going to need to finish my POP Blanket and wondering what DH was going to make me for dinner.  (Don’t worry, I know exactly how lucky I am.)

POP is gorgeous and one of my very most favourite projects ever.  I had never knit with Noro before so Kureyon was my baptism.  I had always thought it just too scratchy for a delicate flower such as myself.  But in fact, Kureyon is really quite lovely, especially after blocking.  And the colours are a.maze.ing.  Urban Yarns in Edgemont has a good selection of colours, by the way, along with lots of Cascade Ecological Wool in cream for the background colour.  Even though it’s lovely and summery right now, part of me is looking forward to fall and my Sunday afternoon naps, snuggled under POP.

So far, I’ve completed almost 30 squares and they’re blocking out to be about 5¾” square.  I’ll probably make at least 35 (5 squares x 7 squares).  We’ll see how big it turns out.

Pop in progress – FYI blocking these squares uses a LOT of T-pins!

 

Yarn Harlot tonight

Knit Social is presenting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) at the Vancouver Public Library downtown today – she’s given two classes (afternoon and evening) called Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.  She also gave a talk last night called “This is Your Brain on Knitting” which, by all accounts was hugely entertaining. I’m not the slowest knitter in the world but will surely benefit from kicking it up a notch.

My queue and stash are expanding exponentially every year and unless I can speed up a little, I’ll never manage to finish everything on my list before I go to the big LYS in the sky.  (Which is far from imminent, but still.  Oh, can you imagine what the yarn store in heaven is like?  My guess is there is a great deal of cashmere.  Sigh.  Assuming that’s where I’m going, of course.)  I did a little calculating and even if I’m reincarnated three or four times, I’ll likely never live long enough to use up all my yarn or knit everything in my queue.

Which reminds me:  Knit Social will be opening up class registration for this October’s Knit City at 8:00 a.m. on August 1.  I’m thinking of registering for the Two Socks in One class.  The idea of making two socks at the same time, one inside the other, is intriguing.  And providing one doesn’t screw it up too much, could be faster than doing them one at a time.  Click the poster below from the Knit Social website for info.

Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs – Thank you to Lady Alice

Another finished object for the pile:  Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs, the cover project from the splendiferous Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits.  The very thoughtful and fellow Queen-adoring Lady Alice brought me a tin of Fortnum & Mason’s special Jubilee tea from her recent trip to Ye Olde Londontown.  She would brook no recompense so I was forced to knit her something in appreciation.  Thus, Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs.  In Spud & Chloë’s beautiful Fine yarn, they are just the thing for a card-carrying Jane Austen Society member to be worn when reading in bed on a winter’s eve.  Nothing worse than having damned chilly wrists when one is trying to enjoy a little Sense and Sensibility.

Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs in Spud & Chloe Fine

Fortnum & Mason’s Jubilee Tea

 

 

 

 

Knitting and other Jubilations

Whatever have I been doing?  Why, enjoying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and knitting of course.

Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl

Since my last post, I managed to finish my Willow Tweed Aranami shawl.  The yarn is absolutely heavenly and the finished product is drapey, silky and cozy with just enough weight.  And because it knits up with a slightly larger gauge than the original, it’s extra long so wraps very luxuriously –  I absolutely love it.   Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s (aka olgajazzy) original pattern calls for using Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft but being a cheapskate, I decided instead to use Louisa Harding’s Willow Tweed that was on sale on Elann at the time.  I improvised the colour gradations and am very happy with the result.  Fortunately (sadly), the weather in Vancouver is so terrible that I’ve had loads of opportunities to wear my beautiful Aranami.  Because there have been virtually no sunny days for ages, I haven’t had a chance to make a pretty picture of the finished shawl, so this one will have to do until the clouds finally decide to leave:

Weaving in the ends…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsinkable

When I became consumed with my Aranami, I had laid aside my previous obsession, Kirsten Kapur’s incredibly beautiful Unsinkable, a shawl/wrap/scarf of unrivalled gorgeosity.  I bought the kit from Wooly Wonka Fibers – the yarn is an unspeakably soft and squishy Merino/Silk/Metallic blend called Arianrhod Sock and the colour is Iceberg, a icy blue-green with a faint starry-night sparkle.  As soon as I’m done a test-knit I’m working on, I’ll get back to Unsinkable.  If summer doesn’t show up soon, I’m going to need this yummy shawl sooner rather than later.

Unsinkable in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Iceberg” Wooly Wonka Fibers Arianrhod Sock

 

 

Tea and the Diamond Jubilee

Anyone who knows me knows that I am mental for the Royal Family and adore the Queen.  So of course, I got up early on Sunday morning to watch the Royal Flotilla up the Thames.  Amazing to see the old bird and Prince Philip standing the entire time!  Too bad the DoE had a bit of back luck with the old bladder the next day and missed the rest of the Jubilee fun.  Of course, I drank a great deal of Murchies’ Diamond Jubilee tea this weekend (naturally, this is something I would have done anyway, but the special occasion made it all the more fun).  I alternated between using my special Royal Worcester commemorative tea cup (which you can see is 100% Queen approved) and the one I just bought from Crown & Crumpet (the prettiest place in the world!) whilst on vacay in San Francisco recently.

Tea with the Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naturally, this is what I drank all weekend (in between G&Ts, of course)

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s all for now.  Remain on the edges of your tuffets, my muffets, for more very soon!  Now I must away.

A paler shade of blue…

Like most people, I have my ups and my downs.  Trouble is, my downs tend to be little too down and last a little too long for my liking.  I’ve been in a fairly blue-ish phase of late and haven’t been able to muster the spirit to crank out humorous blog posts.  But today the sun was shining a bit so I thought I’d take a stab.


In this state of mind, I often sit at my desk and fantasize about rushing home from work to have a hot bath, putting on pyjamas and sleeping my time away.  Sometimes, I even daydream about finding the perfect PJs.  In my head, I see a nightie in pale pink 100% supersoft cotton lawn.  Maybe in a pale rose print.  It’s long, has little cap sleeves and just a touch of lace.  Neither too frou-frou nor too Amish and definitely not maiden aunt.   Occasionally, I’ll find myself in the lingerie department at The Bay about to buy some such garment and I have to make myself snap out of it and put it back on the rack.  I don’t need an $80 nightgown; I need to change my frickin’ life!  I’m not sure exactly how to do that, but spending a pile of money on a nightgown sure won’t change my life.  Granted, I would look adorable all snuggled under the duvet wearing it. 

Part of how I deal with being in a blue phase is hibernating, usually in my PJs with a pot of tea, and alternating between knitting and reading.  Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  One of my favourite prezzies from under the Christmas tree this year was a Kobo e-reader from my dear Seabass.  Since then, I’ve plowed my way through the ghastly Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (yawn) and am part-way through the equally dreck-ish sequel (double yawn).   I’m reading this series only so I can converse with authority when those around me are blathering on about how “great” the books are.   I don’t know if it’s a translation problem or just that Stieg Larsson is a very mediocre writer (or both), but the most common themes I’ve noticed so far are:  (a) the Dragon Tattoo girl looks anorexic yet eats like a horse (oh, how endearing); and (b) every character in the books is obsessed with coffee and sandwiches.  I’m positive that the word “anorexic” was used at least ten times and the phrase “so-and-so put the coffee on” or “made (or ordered) sandwiches” appeared at least two dozen times – in the first book alone!!  Seriously, are there no editors in Sweden?  Do Swedes really drink that much coffee?  Doubts, Ralph.  Please.   What about salted fish or meatballs?  You couldn’t put those on the menu once in a while?   A single mention of lingonberries does not make up for this alarming obsession with coffee and sandwiches.
(N.B. aside from being fantastically portable, a definite upside of an e-reader is that you can read total trash in public and no one around you can see the title you’re reading.  It’s completely judgment-free reading!)
For bookclub, though, I’ve read two wonderful books, neither of which suffer from any writing or editing problems:  Still Alice by Lisa Genova and The Uncommon Reader by Allan Bennett.  My current read is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.



Still Alice is a beautifully written story by a very talented storyteller.  However, my only problem with it was that I did not enjoy the subject matter at all.  It was a little too close to the bone for me.  In fact, it was way too close.  Both my beloved mother and dear mother-in-law were cursed with the dreaded Alzheimer’s and no matter how educational, insightful or accurate Genova’s portrayal of the disease, I could never separate it from my mom’s or Joan’s suffering (and our families’ suffering).  It was just too painful.  I am glad I read it though, if only to be able to say I actually finished a book.  (I am embarrassingly notorious in my bookclub for failing to read or finish books.)  But I have definitely sworn off reading anything again with Alzheimer’s as a central theme.

On the other hand, The Uncommon Reader was simply delightful.  Not only was it mellifluously told, I am obsessed with the British monarchy and love all things to do with the Queen and the rest of the gaggle of Windsors.  It’s a delicious peek into the Lilibet’s secret world.   Also, one learns how enjoyable it is to use sentences where one refers to oneself as “one”.  To paraphrase my sister:  One laughed, one cried, it became a part of one. 

I’m about a third of the way through Olive Kitteridge and am loving it!  It is a series of stories about people in a New England town, all linked by the title character.   I was delighted to find that this book has been dramatized by the Word for Word Performing Arts Company in San Francisco.  Here’s a trailer from Youtube:   


Also, I’ve heard that Frances McDormand has optioned the rights to the book for a feature film and that she is set to play Olive.  I wonder if the Coen Brothers will write and direct? 

As for knitting, I’ve just finished a cowl for The Girl.  It’s called Glances and it’s from a new book Knit and Wrap.  She needed something cozy to wear with her new Courreges-style fitted red wool coat.  Jackie O never looked so sharp.  I found some black Wool-Ease Thick and Quick at Michaels (on sale even).  I modified the pattern a bit to make the cowl deeper so she can pull it up like a hood when the temperature drops.

Also, Seabass needs a cozy watch cap to wear at work and I’ve had a skein of black Handmaiden Yarns 2-ply 100% cashmere burning a hole in my stash so I’m doing a basic 2×2 rib (using Devin’s Toque as a basic pattern).  I’m pretty sure that this yarn is the softest thing on the flippin’ planet.  Baby bunnies hopping in Mr. McGregor’s garden are like sandpaper compared to this yarn.

Still on the needles are some lacy cable socks from Veronik’s Knitting 24/7.  Socks are my usual commuter knitting project but I’ve been so obsessed with reading lately that I haven’t been knitting on the bus.  However, I intend to get back to these very soon and they are super pretty and I love love love the colour and cannot wait to wear them.

Finally, I’ve taken delivery from The Backwards Loop (in Arkansas of all places!) of some delicious St-Denis Nordique yarn and will be starting on a baby gift for my oldest niece.  She’s expecting in June.   Ever since Veronik came out with St-Denis #2, I’ve been dreaming of making the Lullaby baby blanket by Jennifer Lori.  I know it’s not terribly imaginative to use the same yarn (and colour) as in the book, but it’s just too perfect for it to use anything else.  And now that I’ve seen the Champagne colour in person, I realize there really was no substitute.  It’s a perfectly vintage-y shade.

Included in my order from The Backwards Loop were two balls of the Nordique in Eggshell Blue.  Just the thing for more socks or maybe some fingerless gloves (like Ysolda’s Veyla from Whimsical Little Knits 2.)

Anyway, that’s all for now.   Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to change into my PJs and drink a pot of tea.  Happy knitting and reading, y’all!