Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Have Knitting, Will Travel

It's all my friend M's fault. She and her husband B - affectionately known as the 'Child Whisperer' visited us in July and M brought her knitting.

The Child Whisperer exists. We had him here. Too bad he lives
in another province...

I hadn't been knitting much in 2014 up until that point but seeing her at those needles brought on a yearning. M is a lovely lady who devotes a considerable amount of time to knitting hats for people who have undergone chemo treatments. On just one occasion she knit an entire boxful by herself to be donated. One amazing woman, no? And, when I show you the yarn present she brought me all the way from Kingston, ON and KnitTraders, well, you are going to be in line with me agreeing that the woman is in the running for saint hood. Another time though.

I, on the other hand, am not so altruistic. M was knitting caps using cotton and I loved the pattern. I loved that it was knit flat and needed to be seamed. Call me crazy but I LOVE sewing a knitted seam. I also loved that the pattern was so easy to customize. So, together with a couple of skeins from that lovely yarn present I mentioned above, I cast on to knit a hat as presents for Christmas rather than for charity.

And I proceeded to knit pretty much everywhere. I knit while the four boys were exploring further astray while we were on a hike from Flatrock on the East Coast Trail.

This was the view from my knitting rock. Not too shabby.

Here is the finished knitted woman's hat on Eldest. I will post another picture when the whole set is completed as this version still needs a couple of acoutrements.

I knit at Elk Lake, BC while the four boys frolicked in the lake. No, it wasn't too warm for knitting with 100% wool.

I knit while waiting in line at the Brentwood Bay ferry terminal.

I knit on the grounds of Hatley Castle and not just so I could say that I had been knitting on the grounds of a castle. Well, that's not the only reason anyways!

I managed to find some high quality and amazingly cute models to show off my finished pieces.

This is an adult man's hat but Middlest sure looks cute in it.

Here is Hairy Brother modelling the same hat for me just so I can prove that the hat will fit a big boy too. Sadly for Hairy Brother, this hat is not for him :( Sorry, Little Brother!

Some of my models just weren't sharing their mother's enthusiasm for modelling hats.

So the ever camera shy Middlest had to help out. What a nice big brother!

This is another hat requiring acoutrements. I
will post an update when it's finished.

And when we got home from family vacation, I finished a WIP from last fall which will now be headed to the USA for a November birthday. I can tell you that because the recipient doesn't read this blog. Mainly because she cannot yet read… This childs hat was modelled by one of my gorgeous nieces. Yes, it's true, I have a rather beautiful family, extended and otherwise.

This is Velvet Acorn's gorgeous Paisley Cloche pattern. It was a pleasure to knit.

Currently I am knitting the second of the Fable Fingerless Mitts by Sian Parker - another extremely fun and quick knit - to go with the woman's hat from above. Are you knitting anything these days?

Friday, September 5, 2014

First Lavender Harvest

I love lavender. If it's not my favourite smell than it's at the top of the list along with old fashioned roses, lilacs, babies (when they're clean ;)!) and fresh salt air. I think it might be my favourite though. It was my grandmother's favourite smell and I do like tradition.

I think I may have tried to grow lavender before in Germany (in pots on the back terrace where they promptly dried out from lack of water, too much direct sunshine and did I mention lack of water? My bad. I tried again in Ottawa but the wee starter plants I planted just shrivelled up and died during their first year probably due to that lack of water problem again. I was a vampire in Ontario as every May I retreated to the basement where it was coldest (even with the air conditioning blasting in the rest of the house, it was still coldest down there) and didn't come out again during day light hours until early September so I didn't notice them drying out. I didn't bother trying when we lived in NS as it was only a three year posting and I didn't think I'd get to enjoy any established lavender plants before we moved. I was right as we moved after only living there for two years.

Not one to give up on a dream too easily, however, I bought a couple of starter plants last year and put them in our temporary garden next to our back deck. It's a temporary garden because eventually we plan to extend the deck for access to the clothesline and that spot will be directly over where I planted the garden. Why did I plant anything there knowing they would be moved? Because it's the most protected spot on our property and I was hoping to get some plants well established in our micro climate before having to move them further along the side of the house.

I really didn't think the lavender plants survived the winter as by Spring as they looked quite dead to my inexperienced eye. You'd think after killing a few of these beauties I'd recognize a good and dead plant,  right? Happily it's apparent that I can't as on this, their second summer, I managed to harvest my very first, very wee lavender bunch just before we left for BC in August.

Thrilled doesn't describe the feeling. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Proof of Life

Hello out there! Helllloooooooo! It's me waving from a rather windy Newfoundland and Labrador front bridge (that's a front deck to you CFA's (Come From Aways)). And a special, SPECIAL 'hello' to M in Kingston, ON who tells me that one of the first things she does every morning is check out this blog for an update while she's enjoying her morning coffee. Bonjour, M!

I know I say it each time but where does the time go? Here's a glimpse of what we've been up to. With any luck, I'll have the opportunity to elaborate sometime soon. With any luck…

June: School and Grade One ended with a bang. I can't believe I have a seven year old! And I love his rock star hair.

I spent an inordinate amount of money decorating our front bridge (deck - see above). Total cost including furniture: $0.

Thanks for the gorgeous hand me down furniture, A!
Ah. Natural beauty.

July: With early July birthdays, the first week of July at our house is always a riot of birthday celebrations. It was a shark (Eldest) and pirate (Middlest) theme this year.

That's a capsized boat on the upper right. Eldest designed it
This is the second year that I've designed this cake. Middlest really
likes it.
Pinterest provided a wealth of ideas - like this
'fish and chips' sign.
The birthday brothers!

Onto August when we went on our big British Columbian invasion. I'm sure my in-laws are still in recovery.

We headed to Island View Beach almost as soon as we got off the

And here we are, right back at school again (today was their first day back!):

Youngest was NOT impressed by his brother leaving.
He asked where both of them were, when I said that
they were both in school he said "I need more brudders!"
Middlest was crazy excited!

Whew! That was a whirlwind ride. I'll check back again soon, K?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hooked Mats - A Part of Growing Up

I was alerted to the following videos from the CBC archives through Deanne Fitzpatrick's Hooking Rugs Facebook page and they are gems. Not only because they are about hooking mats, which you know I'm pretty passionate about, but also because watching them was almost like stepping into a time machine. These people, their language and dialect and their houses, inside and out, is a glimpse into my childhood. Mrs. O'Brien (and her sweet and supportive husband) are marvelous and I wish the videos would just go on and on.

1977 Edited Version of Mat Hooker Interview

I love the variety of mats displayed in this video. Many of the patterns are similar to the ones I used to see in people's houses when I was growing up. I'm told my great-grandmother used to draw her own patterns and was a very prolific mat maker. My grandmother too hooked, after the work of the day was done (how she didn't just collapse into bed alongside her nine children is beyond me. I can barely survive with 'only' three off spring). Their designs were usually of flowers and leaves though one of my Aunt's remembers a 'hit or miss' style that my grandmother did.

This is a picture of a mat made by a lady living in the same community my mother grew up in. Another one of my Aunt's won it at a time (that's the Newfoundland and Labrador word for a dance or a party usually at someone's house/the local hall, etc) when she was growing up. She still uses it in her kitchen. Lucky duck!

The following is the 'uncut' version of the interview with Mrs. O'Brien which is a little rough around the edges but the one I prefer as I felt I got to know her better. The interviewer also asks her many questions that I wish I could ask my grandmother and other relatives of her generation but have missed the chance.

1977 Interview of a Mat Hooker: Mrs. O'Brien, Cape Broyle

I've been thinking and doing a LOT of hooking lately. I'm working on a commissioned piece for a very good friend and this not so little mat will be flying off to the UK at the end of the month. So, in case you're missing me, I'm just hooking. All. The. Time. I'm not exactly sure how big it is but this is certainly my largest rug to date (I haven't time to measure so my toes are included in this picture to give you an idea of the mat's size). I'm learning lots!

Off again. I've important hooking to get to. And I think the boys need supper again (I'm swear I just fed them yesterday…).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Last week was a bit scattered. It was the first week for Eldest back in school after Easter holidays so perhaps that's the reason why as we've eased (or been pushed) back into a semblance of a regular routine. The most exciting news of late is a) we saw the sun a few times last week though it's still unreasonably cold, b) the icebergs are moving South providing much entertainment and c) we had Spring snow last night, about two inches of it.

I've planned on having an Easter tree for, probably, twenty years now. I finally got around to it this year. The boys and I traipsed up into the back forty of our property and I cut branches from what I thought was an alder bush. It's now gracing us with some gorgeous spring green (unlike the exterior environment) and it turns out to be a Dog Berry tree (Mountain Ash to some of you) instead. 

The crocheted eggs look cute on the tree.

A happy, happy cat and proof that we have had sunshine in May. Hopefully the weather will take a turn for the better this week and I can happily type about the fantastic May 2014 weather. Hopefully.

I've started hooking my largest project yet for a friend of mine. Here is the sky in progress. I'm on a strict deadline for this one as my friend leaves the country (permanently, sob!) at the end of June.

I'm trying to keep Youngest from napping during the day as, if he gets one, he will stay up until 2300 hrs (11:00 PM) and that's just frustrating. Obviously there's no stopping the independent two year old from doing what he darn well pleases anyways.

The meadow where my brother and SIL got married looks good.

The boys and I went for a walk and a picnic on the portion of the East Coast Trail just below us this past week on a gorgeous (but still darn cold!) afternoon. 

We're going on a bear hunt...

The ice bergs have started their trek South and we see many during the day out on the horizon. This one is a small growler that's been staying just below us. There are three actual icebergs in the bay this week.

Two more off in the distance.
Youngest - happy with life and with his speedy 'brudders'.
The growler.
Spring run off.
We have a gorgeous waterfall on the trail which is usually the end destination when we go for a walk from our house. It is passable when the water is lower but I don't like taking the boys across by myself. I have done it solo both crossing the river or by going down below the falls, crossing the rocks and climbing back up the hill. It's such a pretty place and lovely on a hot summer day for small children to play in.

The bottom portion of the falls falling into the ocean.
Things are going to be even more scattered this week. I am off for the first of (I hope) an annual girls trip for three nights without DH or children. This time I am headed off with a lovely friend from the UK (currently living here but posted back to the UK in June :( ) to New York City! We leave at o'dark early Thursday morning and I am having trouble concentrating on anything as I am so excited. It's kind of a Mother's Day gift though that's slightly oxymoronic in that I'm leaving the boys for my Mother's Day treat. I will be back after supper on Sunday so I will still get some Mother's Day hugs.