Quebec City and surrounding area…the adventure continues

bridge to Ile d'Orleans

bridge to Ile d’Orleans

Yesterday (Saturday, our second full day here), we took a road trip out of the city to visit Montmerency Falls and the Ile d’Orleans, which sits in the middle of the St. Lawrence just east of Quebec city. It has a circumference of 75km according to Wikipedia and so the road that circumnavigates the island is probably a bit less than this. It was as picturesque as all get out. We saw at least three tiny little churches, probably only large enough to seat a family, as well as lots of full size ones. The river was as beautiful as you can imagine with the sun reflecting off the ice floes. The houses and farms seemed all well kept, at least so far as you can tell with snow covering everything. Because the deciduous trees had no leaves, there was little to encumber the views of the river.
Just over the bridge as you leave the island is Montmerency Falls.
Montmerency Falls

Montmerency Falls


If you look closely, you can see two climbers going up the dome that has been formed by the constant freezing of the spray at the bottom of the falls. Apparently these falls are 1 1/2 times as high as Niagara Falls, but lack the width.
closer to the falls

closer to the falls


I love waterfalls in the winter, they get such interesting ice buildup. We took a cable car up to the top of the falls, then walked around at the top and came back down on the cable car. We would have walked one way but the interesting looking staircase was closed for the winter still.
Coincidentally, just as we were leaving these falls, Heather texted me that she was just at Niagara Falls for the first time in her life on an impromptu trip–one failure of parenting–she texted OMG, WHY have I never been here before. Because your parents took you round the world instead of down the road, I guess. Sucks to be you.
St. Patrick's (belated) day parade Quebec City

St. Patrick’s (belated) day parade Quebec City


After we got back to town we went to see the St. Patrick’s Day Parade…but wait, wasn’t that two weeks ago, you ask? Why, yes, but according to our waitress the night before, if you want the good pipers, you have to get in line behind Boston, NYC and Montreal. These poor third tier towns.
After the parade, we just came back to the hotel and vegged, then went downstairs for supper. We are taking it easy this trip…not the power tourists we used to be back in our heydey.

Loving Quebec City…

We are in Quebec City because Alan won 4 nights in a Delta hotel. The hotel is great, quite close to the old city. It is way swankier than any accommodation I usually have. We have a love seat and a desk in the room, which makes it easy to spend time in. The hotel has a good restaurant if you don’t feel like venturing out for a meal, although the meals we have had out have been spectacular. Since we aren’t paying for accommodation, we have been paying a little more for food than we usually do also. Maybe we are just lucky, but the food seems better here than at home.
Even though we are only a little over 4 hours from home, it seems more exotic than that. And the weather is fantastic-hovering around 0 (32 in Fahrenheit) and sunny every day so far. After our long, cold winter it seems positively balmy. I love the fact that most of the conversation you hear around you is in French, so it makes you feel more like you are away. You hear French sometimes in Ottawa, but mostly English in our area.
We got here on Thursday late afternoon, taking it very slowly to get here. We will return even more slowly as we have a few stops planned.
On Friday we started with a bus tour of the city. I find these to be very helpful when travelling to orient yourself and give you an idea of what to visit later. In the afternoon we hung around the hotel, then I went across the street to an observation deck on the 31st floor of the tallest building in the city. It was OK until I hit the east side, then it was FABULOUS. The view over the old city and out over the St. Lawrence and Ile d’Orleans was one of those views I never want to leave. I think it may be amongst my top ten ever views. I stayed there for about an hour just watching the ferries and tug boats floating through the ice floes, making wakes behind them that stayed for ages before they filled back in, and looking at the old city I had been walking through in the morning with its ramparts.
Google decided on another photo array…so here it is
https://plus.google.com/u/0/112081205643155371059/stories/a2312fec-b923-3a69-850e-f480fee3fc3314c627a4185?cfem=1

Throwback Thursday #4

Maitland at sunrise...from lower deck

Maitland at sunrise…from lower deck


This is a picture from a few years ago. When I visit my mum’s house in Maitland, I often get up at dawn to see the sun rise over the St. Lawrence River. I was looking for a picture from my trip to Spain in March a few years ago with my eldest sister, Jane. I looked through the camera roll on my old ipod, which I thought I had with me in Spain. This was one of the first, i.e. oldest, pictures on the device…sadly no images of Spain were to be found, but I do love a pretty sunrise.
I was at my knitting guild meeting last week and I mentioned to Nancy, whom I know reads the blog, that I had once knitted a sett of each of my in-law’s tartans for them one Christmas. Here they are about 25 years older-the original owners both since deceased. We have them on the living room couch now and I think I should probably remove the knitting from the pillows and give everything a good wash…maybe later…
My father in law's tartan...MacIntosh

My father in law’s tartan…MacIntosh

My mother in law's tartan MacDonald

My mother in law’s tartan MacDonald

Barbara Walker … week 4

gillianknits.comIt struck me this week as I was making these socks that Julie had it OK. The only people who would know of the success or failure of her efforts were her husband, herself and the occasional dinner guest. Food was eaten and the dishes done each night. I, on the other hand, must photograph my knitting and show it to anyone who may want to look (granted, at this point, it is only a handful of people but the potential remains). When I saw this stitch, Escalator Pattern from Chapter 2, Simple Knit-Purl combinations, I immediately thought socks. It was not a great thought as it turns out. I must admit, I am not a sock expert by any stretch of the imagination. I, and I say this with trepidation given the esteem with which sock knitting is held, have never really believed in knitting socks. Gasp. When I saw my mum do it as a child, I saw how little time they lasted and felt sorry for her. With 8 kids, she didn’t have a lot of knitting time, so it had to count. Sweaters, hats and mitts were passed from one child to the next, but socks developed holes in what seemed like no time. I have been told that this is because the knitting was too loose and she should maybe have used a smaller needle, but old prejudice dies hard and I have probably only made about 5 pairs before.
Heather and I have worn slightly different socks on each foot for a long time. If we got one of those batches of socks that had a different colour stripe, we would often wear two different colours together. She went as far as to get mad at Alan if he sorted the laundry and matched the like colours together. I understand from the talk in the change room at fitness that this is a common practice amongst “the youth”-many aquafitness participants having grandchildren. I wanted to do something like this in these socks.
I changed the stitch in the second sock (the purple one) as an experiment. A few stitches after the Escalator Pattern in the book, Walker talks about how, if you are doing several rows of reverse stockinette stitch. you may want to switch it to garter stitch to reduce curl. I decided that on the second sock, I was going to do this because there was a real tendency for the sock to slouch, not a good thing in a sock. In fact when I was knitting the pink one, manatees and Michelin men kept coming to mind. Barbara Walker must have blocked the swatch before photographing it in the book, you have to really tug on the pink sock to make it look like the sample. In the purple sock, instead of three rows where purl appears on the front, I switched it to two rows of purl with a knit row between, turning the reverse stockinette into garter. It actually looks a lot more like the example in the book than the real stitch. These socks also used Crossed Knit-One Purl-One Ribbing from Chapter 3, Ribbings and Heel Stitch from Chapter 5, Slip-Stitch Patterns. They are DK weight.

right side out, with upturned brim

right side out, with upturned brim

from the top with right side out

from the top with right side out

This hat incorporates Crossed Knit-Two Purl-Two Ribbing from Chapter 3, Ribbings and Waving Rib Pattern from Chapter 2, Simple Knit-Purl Combinations. She mentions that the back of the stitch is nice too, so I made the hat reversible. Here is the inside. I think I like the “inside” better, especially the top.
inside out, with brim down

inside out, with brim down

inside out from the top

inside out from the top


I made one more hat this week using Mistake-Stitch Ribbing from Chapter 3, Ribbings and Slipped-Stitch Ridges from Chapter 5, Slip-Stitch Patterns. I really like how the top worked out on my second try (frogged the first one).
gillianknits.comgillianknits.com

Throwback Thursday #3

It struck me as I was changing after aquafatness that these throwback Thursdays fly directly in the face of the philosophy of my favourite children’s movie character, fashion designer to the super heroes, Edna Mode “I never look back dahling, it distracts from the now”. The Incredibles was a movie I watched time and again with my children and never once minded. Ah, well, I am real and not a movie character, so here I go.

Alan on the roadside in Nepal

Alan on the roadside in Nepal

This is Alan on the side of the road in Nepal, in March, 24 years ago. At this point, we had been cycling in Europe for 6 months, followed by a month in India. He had been ill with an intestinal complaint in India–surprise, surprise, thus the somewhat gaunt appearance.
Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam enjoy a sunny fall day together surrounded by the stars of friendship

Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam enjoy a sunny fall day together surrounded by the stars of friendship

On a happier note, here is a quilt I did in 2001 for a guild challenge. For about a decade after my ceramics phase came “the quilting phase”. I actually taught quilting, amongst other crafts, for a long time too, when the kids were little and I had to do my working in the evenings and weekends when Alan was home. It has 3-D Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam under a tree in the fall. The challenge was to use fuschia, kelly green and royal blue together. I remember I used 140 different fabrics in this quilt, 20 of each colour in the quilt-the three already mentioned, plus red, orange, yellow and brown. It was the 20th anniversary of the guild and I had been quilting for 7 years.

Barbara Walker … week 3

This seems to be a lame week, Barbara Walkerwise, but you must trust me that I have actually been knitting up a storm. It’s just this is all that I have finished…two things from my wheelhouse…hats. I have decided that this challenge is actually making my hat creations much more boring and hopefully I can come up with something better down the road. Anyway, here goes.

Wave of Honey Stitch

Wave of Honey Stitch

This is actually a hat that I made a couple of years ago in blue. Heather wore it and wore it. She took it to Peru on her Scouting volunteer trip. It was covered in plaster dust. Alan accidentally washed it with a load of laundry…you can guess the results. I remade it this week in off white because it actually fit the challenge criteria. Knit-2 Purl-2 ribbing from Chapter 3, Ribbings and Wave of Honey Stitch from Chapter 12, Cable-Stitch Patterns.

decreases view

decreases view

Ripple Rib Stitch

Ripple Rib Stitch

I went to an all day testing session for a job last week. I had looked up the stitch and taken a photo of the page of the book on my phone so I could make the hat on the bus and in the downtimes. Unfortunately, I left the phone happily charging away at home, so I had to recreate the stitch from memory. This is why I have zigged instead of zagged and I have actually started the hat half way through the stitch instructions, but since I was at the decreases by the time I got home, I said stuff it, I am not starting again.

Decreases view

Decreases view

Throwback Thursday revisited

From left: Jacob, Alan, Me and Heather

From left: Jacob, Alan, Me and Heather


This is my favourite ever family photo, taken by the photographer from our day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, in March, 8 years ago. Jacob was 12 and Heather was 10. I think I have mentioned before that we took them out of school for 6 months and took them travelling. The fifth country we visited (after Singapore, India, Thailand and Cambodia) was Australia and the kids LOVED it. We stayed in Cairns for a week, then rented a car and made our way down to Sydney. Australia is so similar to Canada and they had been in Asia for a while. Asia was a bit difficult for them, with the constant worry about water and food hygiene. It was nice for them to be able to have ice in their drinks, etc. I think it was also eyeopening and difficult for them to see kids their age begging and working to scrape by. We live in a neighbourhood that, while not affluent at all, is not poor either.
gillianknits.com
I am primarily a knitter these days, but there was at least a decade where, if you asked me my main craft, I would have said ceramics. I got a diploma in Ceramics from George Brown College in Toronto. It was a two year full time course and I had already taken numerous part time classes when I started. This is a teapot I made in a workshop during my pottery days. It was influenced by the workshop leader, whose name I can’t remember, but if any of my classmates had had to assign a name to it, it would have been mine. I have recently reconnected with one of my classmates from this course. She, of course, attended MANY crits with me and knows my pottery really well. She claims that she could have picked out my hats, because my aesthetic remains constant. If you follow my throwback Thursdays, you can judge for yourself. I am going to go round my house in the future and pick something to show each week.