Monthly Archives: March 2015

Barbara Walker…week 5

shaker fruit baskets from shakerworkshops.com

shaker fruit baskets from shakerworkshops.com

I had better get my skates on if I am actually going to get through the 500 or so patterns in this book…If I continue at four a week it could take upwards of 2 years! Oh, well, I will keep going till I am not enjoying the process any more.
Easter Basket hat

Easter Basket hat


This is the hat I did this week using Slip-Stitch Honeycomb from Chapter Five, Slip-Stitch patterns and Twisted Knit-two Purl-two Ribbing from Chapter Three, Ribbings. I decreased aggressively in four places to get the pointy bits that look like an upturned Shaker Fruit Basket…see image above.
Easter Basket Hat

Easter Basket Hat


This hat and mitt set are in a style I had been working on quite a bit earlier this year. I use random balls of novelty yarn from the discount bins and combine them with plain worsted weight yarn. I usually enclose the back of the novelty yarn with regular worsted yarn, because a lot of them are on the scratchy side, which is probably why they end up in the discount bins in the first place. For the Easter theme, I used a novelty yarn that had Easter Colours in it.
the inside of the Easter Basket hat

the inside of the Easter Basket hat


Last spring, I made a pile of hat and mitt sets, so I got pretty good at making mitts to match any hat I made. I decided in the interests of diversity, to include mittens to go with this hat. In order to use more stitches, they are not totally a set, but rather the mittens use Baby Cable Ribbing from Chapter Three, Ribbings and Woven Stitch from Chapter Five, Slip-Stitch Patterns. These mittens were quite popular with the waitresses this weekend, but maybe they were all just sucking up for tips.
n.b. If you are ever going to use woven stitch, add stitches. I increased from 40 to 46 from the ribbing to the body of the mitts and I could have done more, say 48 or 50, although they are not bad. I had to restart because I had not originally increased.
Easter Mittens

Easter Mittens

Last day in Quebec City

Alan took this picture of me in the pool from our hotel room window..note the snow surround

Alan took this picture of me in the pool from our hotel room window..note the snow surround

First thing in the morning, as soon as the pool was open, I went for a swim. When I was looking up the Delta Quebec online before we left, I saw that it had an outdoor heated pool. I thought this meant in the summer and said to Alan…no swimming this weekend. I was wrong-they heat the outdoor pool to swimming temperature all winter. It is pretty bizarre and decadent. It reminded me of the hotel in Guilin, China that becomes a waterfall..I couldn’t find one of our own pictures, so I got this one from the web. I have to admit I am not a good enough person not to be impressed and enjoy these things…
Hotel in Guilin, China, the facade of which becomes a waterfall nightly

Hotel in Guilin, China, the facade of which becomes a waterfall nightly


We walked into the old city for breakfast and I had the best eggs Benedict ever. And I order them whenever a restaurant has them. They were served on what amounted to pulled ham, and good quality ham at that. I am not sure I can go back to ordinary ones now. So often they overcook the eggs and they usually put them on a nasty deli slice of ham.
Eggs Benny for breakfast...

Eggs Benny for breakfast…


We left the restaurant and took the funicular car down to the lower town.
Vertigo, anyone?

Vertigo, anyone?


After wandering around a bit, we took the ferry across the river to Levis and back. I am a sucker for ferries, Hong Kong ,Bangkok Italy to Athens and on to Crete, between the islands of New Zealand, etc. I once had a memorable crossing of the English channel as a teenager. The ferry passed the breakwater into heaving seas and soon the entire population was heaving along with the boat. When the kids were little we sometimes took the long way home from Toronto via Picton and took the little ferry that connects Prince Edward County with Kingston. It is a perfect ferry ride for small children. If it is not right there, you can watch it coming. You can see the far shore as soon as you embark…kids attention span stuff. All the bang and no fizzling out.
gillianknits.com
The ferry to Levis was great because if you stood at the bow, you could look down and watch it crash into the ice floes and bust them in pieces. We only discovered this on the return trip and I wanted to go do it again, but we refrained. Unfortunately, the ice floes only cover half the width of the river now. Two days ago they went pretty much all the way across. I guess we really hit a good day to get here so we could see that.
Heading back to Quebec City from Levis

Heading back to Quebec City from Levis


After the ferry we went and looked at the lobby of the Chateau Frontenac and had a coffee in the ubiquitous Starbucks, then returned to the hotel and out for supper. We are now back home. It was a great mini vacation. I don’t even mind that I have to postpone my trip to Peru till the fall…

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.