Monday, March 28, 2016

Whoo's There?

It seems that I haven't gotten back into the writing routine but, to be fair, my spinning/knitting/everything else mojo also vanished for the last few months.  Part of the problem is an injury to my right elbow made doing a lot of things uncomfortable but mostly it has really affected my spinning comfort.  Normally I could also blame winter weather for stomping on my good, productive moods but that's a weak excuse this year with El Nino giving us one of the mildest winters on record.

Anywho, I'm back for now.  In case you think I've lost my grammar and spelling skills with the who references, I'm actually warming up to share this:

Isn't he lovely?  He sat in my next door neighbours' tree for most of a day a few weeks ago before leaving at dusk to do his hunting.  I tried to take some pics of him from my yard but learned that the neighbour snapped this keeper from his second story window which was really close to the house.  I'm using this picture with permission from the photographer, Ken.  I was very glad that Berlyn was visiting us the day of the owl visit but I think Nana and Papa were more impressed with the owl than she was.

You may have noticed the lack of snow on the branches of the tree in the picture.  That's because there wasn't any after a February-that-was-more-like-April, weather-wise.  I actually noticed tiny Swiss chard leaves growing in my garden from the dead plants that didn't get pulled in the fall!  In February!  There were several consecutive days of double-digit highs (in Celsius) and we were starting to get into the Spring groove.  Then March came along and reminded us that we still live in the Canadian prairies.  Although not terribly cold, it was dreary and damp most days.  Last week we had freezing rain and then a huge dump of snow.  It's been melting slowly.  My little green Swiss chard leaves have frozen but I did see some rosy rhubarb shoots just starting to push out of the ground today,  the earliest since I have been blogging.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

White Christmas in Saskatchewan

We've had steady soft snow for the last day and a bit so it will certainly be a white Christmas here in our little corner of the Canadian Prairies.  We generally get snow in the form of high winds and nasty temperatures but this snow is like someone gently shook a snow globe.  As with everything else about this winter so far, we'll take it.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!  May the love and joy of the season be with you all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

get them while they're young

One of the core philosophies that guided my life as a teacher is that learners must see themselves as learners.  To that end, a child must believe that he is a reader to become a reader; she must believe that she is able to succeed before she actually succeeds.  A positive attitude is crucial to learning.

We know that instinctively when our kids are very young.  We make a big deal out of our little ones learning to walk and talk; we encourage them as they develop fine and gross motor skills.

I certainly see this theory in action when I teach new spinners.  Children pick it up much more easily than most adults.  I think it's because adults have the mindset that it will be difficult to learn and kids don't have any preconceived notions about learning this new skill.

To me, this is a no-brainer as I groom my granddaughter to learn to spin.

When she sees me spin (which I often do when she's here because she needs to see me as a model for spinning) she asks if she can spin on her Ladybug wheel.  We have to set her up at the fireplace hearth because her legs aren't long enough for her to put her feet on the treadles from any chair.  I push the drive wheel and she holds the leader yarn.  In her mind she is a spinner.

Yep, it's best to get them while they're young.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

winter

Of course the extremely mild fall temperatures couldn't last here north of the 49th parallel.  We haven't had deep freeze weather yet but we now have enough snow to cover the ground and some fog has given us these lovely trees covered in hoar frost.



Friday, December 11, 2015

a sad day


Our fibre community suffered a huge blow yesterday with the loss of friend and mentor, Deb Behm.  She was a gifted fibre artist, teacher, writer, and friend.

Deb taught fibre arts in our community for a long time through city programming at the library, as the Resident Fibre Artist at the Neil Balkwill Arts Centre for more than 20 years, as an active member of the Regina Weavers and Spinners Guild, and through Golden Willow Natural Fiber shop classes and drop-ins.  And that long list just hits the highlights of her involvement in our community.  She also taught for Olds College during Fibre Week and was a contributor to Spin Off and Ply magazines.  She earned a SOAR scholarship to the Spin Off Autumn Retreat in California a few years ago and while there was honoured with the Gisela and Bill Evitt Scholarship which is awarded to individuals who work with children and youth, teaching them how to spin, knit, weave, or felt.


Deb was also a student and teacher of yoga and she used her fibre practices as meditation opportunities.  This is evident in her beautifully written blog, Heart Like a Wheel.  Click the link to see her last post when she knew cancer had returned.  I reread it today and it made me cry.  Further browsing on her blog will demonstrate her clever and sometimes irreverent humour and her interest in social justice.

I remember Deb telling me about visiting with her friend and spindle maker extraordinaire, Ed Tabachek, at Olds Fibre Week each year.  Ed would bring new spindles in the trunk of his car and Deb said that she loved to get a chance to see and buy some in the parking lot before he set up his booth in the vendor area.  Ed recently succumbed to cancer too and I hope that he and Deb can spin together again where pain can't touch them.

Deb loved spiders and bats.  I knit this square as part of a throw that her friends made for her in November as a 'warm hug' from us.
Farewell, my friend.  You will be missed.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

so excited!

This special little girl is so excited!  December is a big month for her because she has a birthday and Christmas two weeks apart.  It's hard to believe she's only been in our lives for three years.

She must be in a growth spurt because she is a little noshing machine.  The other day, when she was starting on her second mandarin orange, she told me, "I am literally hungry."  

it's got to be El Nino

So here we are in December and we're still having October weather.


This afternoon was 7C (45F)!  To put that in perspective, the average high for this date is -6.5C (21F) and we usually have some good sized snow banks by now.

Most people around here are not complaining.

The public library has hosted a Maker's Fair the last couple of years and the Regina Weavers and Spinners Guild participates.  As we were carrying our wheels and looms in and out of the library on the weekend, while wearing summer shoes and light jackets, we remembered driving through a snow storm to last year's event.  

We introduced a lot of people, mostly children, to spinning and weaving. It always amazes me how quickly children learn these skills.  They don't have the mindset that it will be difficult which is what gets in the way of most adults when they get started.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

thoughts about socks

Thoughts about sock heels, specifically.  

My go to sock is a top down sock.  I can knit it without paying particular attention.  It fits my foot well.  I can use the old Sock Wizard software that we still have on the aging desktop PC.

Sometimes, though, I feel the need to experiment, to give my brain a chance to make new synapses.  Although I've done toe up socks in various ways, I've never been totally happy with the way they fit my feet.  I have very narrow heels.  When they measure my feet in shoe stores they always tell my foot is a narrow AA and my heel is an even narrower AAAA.  

The sock that fits my heel the worst is this one Pretty yarn but there is way too much room in the heel.  Short row heels are a bad fit too.  I have decided that a flap and gusset heel is best because it draws the yarn in nice and snugly.

I knit this sock with the Sock Wizard program for a toe up sock.
The heel turn seems to take many more rows than the top down patterns so that it curves over the heel and pushes the flap higher on the back of the heel.  There's a little pooch of knitted fabric just under the heel flap which looks sloppy on my heel.

I wasn't sure if the Sock Wizard pattern was a typical example of a toe up heel turn and flap so I decided to knit another toe up flap pattern.  I looked at a lot of patterns and decided that David's Toe Up Sock Cookbook looked like a good one.  I also did the calculations for the Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes and Heels book (which doesn't seem to be available any more) to compare to the numbers that came out in the Sock Cookbook calculations and the ones that the Sock Wizard program did based on my measurements.  Here's the result:
  


Hmmm.  Almost the same.  I did both with German short rows rather than traditional wrap and turn methods but  I'm not sure how it would change the shape of the heel turn.  There is still too much fabric for my skinny heel.

Here is a sock that does fit well.  The top down heel flap fits great.  I don't count rows for the heel flap but just knit it until it's square and it fits every time.


Now I have to decide if the heel fit on the toe up socks is something I can live with or if I will frog what I've knit and try again with my tried and true top down pattern.

What would you do?


Thursday, November 12, 2015

still no snow

It's a rare year when we don't have snow on the ground in mid-November.  October was mild most days and downright balmy a few of them.  We went to a wedding in Saskatoon on Thanksgiving weekend.
(That's as dressed up as you will ever see Dan and I.  I had to buy makeup just for the wedding as I never wear it otherwise.  Berlyn and I had a great time on the dance floor later in the evening but I didn't get a picture of that, unfortunately.   I was too busy dancing!)

Patrick, the son of our closest friends Allen and Rhonda, married his lovely Michelle.  Patrick and his brother Ross spent so much time with us while they were growing up that we consider them faux sons so it was a very special wedding.
The groom's proud mom and dad.

  They couldn't have had a nicer day for a wedding if they'd special ordered it.  Between the ceremony and the reception Dan and I walked downtown and saw a reader board that said it was 28C (82F)!  Mother Nature smacked us with cold rain and intense wind the very next day just to remind us that it wasn't summer any more.

However, the weather warmed up again and the kids had a lovely Hallowe'en evening for trick or treating.  We have had some light flurries that didn't last but no major snow events yet this year.  There has been talk about El Nino giving us a mild winter but we'll see about that.  Mild is relative at best.

We have two willow trees in the back yard that love to hang onto their leaves as long as possible.  Most of the time they lose their last leaves into deep snow banks where they stay until after the thaw in the spring.  This year one of them is already mostly naked and the other's leaves are fluttering down a bit more every day.  Dan is happy that he is able to clean them up before the snow flies this year.  I took the opportunity to take some photos in the back yard last weekend while he was taking a break as I snapped pictures of the dogs.
Notice that the grass is still green!

The cast of critters around here hadn't changed.
 Cooper and Robbie took the time to pose for me but Austin and Bentley were too busy digging for mushrooms in the tree roots.
 Those mushrooms cause upset tummies if they eat too many so I have to limit their time outside.  Covering the mushrooms is at least one reason in snow's favour but it's the only one I can think of at this point.  We'll enjoy the lack of snow for as long as we can.






Saturday, November 07, 2015

kidbit

My neighbour took her two granddaughters, ages three and four, to see The Wiggles in concert a couple of weeks ago.  During intermission, she was sitting in the stall of the busy public washroom with both kids in tow.

The three year old decided that three's a crowd in the bathroom and said, "She needs privacy.  Give her some privacy!" and then unlatched the door which swung wide open.  Grandma couldn't do much about it and the kids didn't know how to latch the door so there was a large audience of onlookers waiting for a free stall until one woman calmly walked over and closed the door for her.

Toddlers.  Got to love them!




Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I remember summer

The first flakes of snow blew around in the gusty wind today.  It was cold enough that I wore my winter parka in the backyard with the dogs.

 I would rather think about summer so here are a couple of little video clips of a special little girl having fun with the dogs in our backyard in August.

video


video

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How to Reduce the Number of Those Nuisance Phone Calls

1.  Answer call from a credit card call centre with the usual, "I'm fine, thanks" while toddler grandchild chants, "I wanna say hi!  I wanna say hi!  I wanna say hi!"

2.  After finding out that the credit card company wants to lend you money, ask caller if she will talk to said grandchild.

3.  Watch grandchild nod at the phone while caller tries to carry on a lengthy one-sided conversation with a 2 year old.

4.  Thank caller for talking to grandchild then ask her to hang on a sec while your four dogs bark at someone walking outside as if only they can save the world from scary pedestrians.

5.  Politely refuse the loan offer and hang up.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Well Preserved

So, I'm back after an unplanned year and a half absence.  I don't know why I stopped writing this blog.  It just happened.  Maybe I was busy, maybe I was tired, maybe I got lazy, maybe it was because blogs seemed to wane with the increased use of Facebook.

I don't consciously have the definitive reason for abandoning it but I have a very good one for starting  it again.  The dear little girl who was a baby in the last post is now an almost three year old who is charming, bright, and beautiful.


Dan and I love her more than we could have imagined.  

A number of years ago I bought a book titled "Grandmother Remembers" and gave it to my grandmother to complete.  It's a scrapbook type of book with prompts for completing the pages, much like the books that people complete for baby's first years.  I'm so glad that my grandmother took the time to complete it!  It captures glimpses of her life that I wouldn't have otherwise (such as the charming tidbit that, before she married my grandfather, she thought that he had nice hair and he was popular) and is one of my most cherished possessions.  I only wish that my mother would have completed hers before her passing. 

My granddaughter deserves to not only have my grandmother's memories but mine too.  They should be well preserved for her, the poignant and mundane alike.  I want her to know me and have snapshots of my life.  I want her to know how much we and the times we live in are alike and different.  I want her to know how incredibly precious she is to us.

So, this blog becomes a modern version of "Grandmother Remembers".  Its format and writing style won't change from what I've already blogged.  It will be great if it has readers and makes connections with others, as it has in the past.  But it will really be for her, in much the same way that I hope some of my spun and knit items become family heirlooms.

spun from Bee Mice Elf BFL/Silk Club fiber in the 'Well Preserved' colourway.

  

Monday, May 13, 2013

and now it's summer


We had more than six months of long cold winter, about a week of spring, and now it's summer!  It was 29C (84F) this afternoon.  No complaints from anyone around here, no siree.  It's lovely to wear shorts again.  Even in the heat, there is one persistent snow bank in the park across from our back lane.  It's on the northern side of a slope so it doesn't get the direct sun for long.  I imagine that there will be snow banks in the rural shelterbelts for a few more weeks.

Our sweet Berlyn turned five months old on the weekend.  She is adorable and inquisitive and finally giving her parents a break by sleeping through the night.  Here she is in her jumperoo.
 I had to use the flash to get a clear picture because she was jumping gleefully and with much energy! 

Dan had shoulder surgery last week and seems to be healing nicely.  Being one-handed hasn't been much of a problem for him because he has been glued to the TV watching hockey play-offs.

Finally, welcome back to earth Chris Hadfield!  You did Canada proud!

Saturday, May 04, 2013

about time

The rhubarb patch of the garden that looked like this two weeks ago


now looks like this.
The rosy rhubarb shoots have finally made an appearance, a month later than last year.

We had another dump of snow on Tuesday of this week and when it melted, it took much of the snow that was left from the winter.  There are still drifts of tired snow in the shade but I think that we might get summer this year after all.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

slowly; very, very slowly

Our everlasting winter continues.  Spring is sending hints that she may arrive one day after all but she sure can't be accused of being forward about it.  Our daily high temperatures are still hovering around the freezing mark even on sunny days.  I did a search of my blog for dates of my rhubarb pictures in past years.  In 2006 it was April 7; in 2008 and 2011 it was April 20 (today's date); in 2010 it was April 3 and last year it was April 7.

Photo taken yesterday, here is the plot of garden where the rhubarb grows.
It's still going to be a while before I see rhubarb there. 

Even though the temperatures have been very low, the longer daylight hours are melting the snow pack.  The snow is heavy and wet and the patches of grass that Dan snowblowed for the dogs over the winter are wet and muddy.

There is still a ton of snow to get rid of after all of the precipitation we had over the winter and there is more snow forecast this week.


The barbecue is buried under there.  We won't be using it until some time in May, I think.

I still haven't gone through our photos from Mexico.  I know that looking at them now will just make me cranky about living in this frozen part of the world and I was feeling depressed about it enough without looking at the sunny pics.  I've always struggled with my moods in the winter.  However, after watching all of the events in Boston this week and thinking about how so many people on this planet live with fear, hunger, and disease, I am rather ashamed that I let myself get depressed over something as insignificant as the weather when my life is blessed in so many ways with Dan and these lovelies at the top of the list.

And here are the four furry blessings.




Friday, March 22, 2013

always winter

So here it is, more than a month after my last post.  Dan and I went to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks and I will have pictures to share with you when I get them sorted.  We thought that we would come home to some signs of spring but winter is tenaciously keeping us captive and it feels like spring will never arrive.  We have officially had more snow this winter than ever before (over six feet and counting) and it just keeps coming.  It truly feels like Narnia before Aslan was on the move.  Those sunny, warm two weeks in Mexico already feel like a distant memory.

The storm this week was particularly brutal because high winds blew the snow into packed drifts that couldn't be navigated by regular vehicles.  There were accidents, stranded travellers, and closed highways.

This was the busy four lane Trans-Canada highway west of Regina yesterday (photos courtesy of the Saskatchewan Highway Hotline Facebook page).



This is what it looks like in our back yard today.

The fence around the garden looks like this in the summer:

Can you find it in this picture that was taken this afternoon?

The snow drift outside my kitchen window keeps growing.

The look on Bentley's face pretty much sums up how I feel about the weather.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

a visit with Auntie Jill

Dan's sister Jill and the kids were visiting from Calgary this weekend.  You can see that Berlyn and Auntie Jill had a lovely chat!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

my google girl

Our sweet little Berlyn just shy of two months old when I took this picture last weekend.  Isn't she a beauty?

She is now cooing and smiling these big open-mouthed baby smiles.  Totally melts my heart.  Her favorite cooing sound is goo followed by a gurgle so that it sounds like google.  She's a girl ahead of her time.  We love her so much!

I finished another little sweater for her.
Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Baby Surprise Jacket
using the handspun Spunky Eclectic Little Periwinkles organic merino that I finished spinning in the fall.
I spun this 2-ply with the Baby Surprise Jacket in mind and I'm pleased with it.  I like so many things about this pattern:  its garter stitch stretchiness so that it can be worn by a growing baby for a long time, its sleeves that start out being full length then become three-quarter length and out of the way as the baby grows and gets her little hands into food and other messy things, the clever pattern that folds into a sweater when you're done knitting and you only have to stitch up the sleeve seams, the clever increases and decreases and the final folding that moves the stripes into interesting and symmetrical design features, and finally I like that it looks so great in handspun garter stitch.

Now I'm taking a little break from knitting baby items and have started the Business Casual KAL socks.  I've had a few false starts due to my making a mistake and issues with the choice of yarn and needle size.  Once I have knit enough to share I'll take some pics.