Category Archives: travel

FO: The Paper Bag Princess

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This is a quickie post to show you my finished doll, as promised. 

The photo with the board book was taken before I made her crown. Luckily I found some Aunt Lydia’s crochet cotton in gold so that the crown has a bit of sparkle. I dug out a 1.5mm hook for that, which I bought in 1983 in Greece. Amazing that I still have it. The crown is sewn on in four spots so that it doesn’t get lost. 

The dress is from the Princess Poppy pattern, though I didn’t need as many rows as the pattern suggested for the bodice. It still worked out fine. I was disappointed that there was an outside link for the granny shrug that was broken, so instead I searched Ravelry for a hexagon baby jacket pattern and worked the first three rounds. 

I didn’t bother with knickers or shoes. 

We booked our summer holiday today. Two weeks in Switzerland to visit with some of Tai Chi Man’s relatives and enjoy some beautiful mountain vistas. Very exciting! Do you have any travel plans?

Where did December go?

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Last time I blogged, it was early December and I was about to go on holiday to Maui with Tai Chi Man to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Well, it was lovely. The weather was warm and mostly sunny and we swam in the ocean every day but one. There were some showers and for a couple of days it was very windy. We were in Kihei on the west coast which is fairly well sheltered from the prevailing winds, and dryer than other areas of the island. The beaches are gorgeous, the sand is soft, and the water was warm but refreshing.

The main highlight would have to be the helicopter flight around the island, which included going over 10,000 feet up to circle the crater at the top of the extinct volcano, Haleakala, Maui’s highest point. Beats driving for hours! And we saw a lot of scenery and waterfalls that we wouldn’t have been able to see from the road to Hana.

We had a condo, so were able to make our own meals (important when you don’t eat the Standard American Diet) and a rental car (Ford Escape), and found some nice places, like the Maui Quilt Shop, Down to Earth vegetarian health food store, and the banyan tree park at Lahaina. We went underwater in a submarine to see fish and sharks, but the only turtle we came across was a lone guy in the middle of the bay on our last day. Tai Chi Man is braver than I, and was swimming out beyond the breakers, and got a close-up look at a turtle. That made his day. I was floating around in the surf, so I didn’t see it (and to be honest am somewhat phobic about being in the water with seaweed or sea creatures so it’s probably just as well. Though I should say there was no seaweed as far as I could tell.)

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So what else is new? The gym has been neglected for a couple of weeks. We did go the day after we got home from vacation, but then we had work, and Christmas shopping, and then I had to bake fruit cake ‘n stuff, and before I knew it Christmas Eve had arrived. We had a simple dinner followed by our gift-giving spree, which was very abundant this year.

I had suggested that we all make a wish list this year and actually make an effort to give each other a gift. Not just parents giving stuff to sons, but each of us giving something to the other four. I sewed flannelette stockings with white fleece cuffs and bought applique letters to put on each one. We never did get around to buying hangers for them so they were put under the tree, and they got so full that the gifts were piled up under the tree. I found myself getting quite excited about Christmas!

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I was happy to receive some of the things on my wishlist, such as weight training gloves, the How Not to Die Cookbook, and lots of chocolate! And some things that weren’t on my wishlist too. However there was no yarn in there, nor any gift cards for yarn, so I am feeling like treating myself. I do, after all, have some Christmas money from my mum to add to the running balance in my birthday fund.

I was looking through an old magazine in my sewing room and I really like this sweater (photo on left). It’s a simple rib pattern worked with four strands of aran weight yarn. Should be simple to find yarn for it, right? Not! I have spent maybe three evenings so far looking at different yarn websites and all sorts of yarn, trying to find just the right one. Ideally it needs to be a heavy worsted that knits up at 16 sts/4 inches, and I will need to buy a circ or pair of needle tips that are a US19/15mm.

I like the heathered or tweedy greys but the best yarn for weight, yardage and price so far doesn’t have that option, so I may have to go for off-white or some other colour. I haven’t given up yet.

I didn’t pick up needles or hook for a week after my holiday. This usually happens because I’m feeling some kind of dissatisfaction with my current project(s). These are my WIPs:

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Lanesplitter skirt out of Bernat Pop. Having second thoughts and now wishing I’d striped it with black. I have a ton of Stylecraft Special Aran in black.

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Ripple scarf out of Cascade Sunseeker. Seemed appropriate for holiday crochet. Actually made very little progress while away. Nice cotton/acrylic with a touch of metallic, but cutting yarn every two rows is annoying and I don’t know if I have the perseverance required to finish a whole scarf.

Dishcloth in Bernat Handicrafter. Found it on clearance at Michaels, bought four balls in bright colours. This will at least get finished.

Gee, not much of excitement in the yarny department, is there!

So, work has been quiet, I have been eating too much (well, it’s Christmas and I do love my fruit cake) and the world outside my window is buried in snow. The day we came back from Maui we had the joy of horizontal snow and freezing temperatures, and it’s been mostly below freezing since. Then we had a bunch more snow so we have powder on top of ice. Sure makes for interesting times. Haven’t been out walking because it’s so slippery, and driving even the short commute to work and back was quite tense. We could have gone to the gym tonight but even Tai Chi Man, who is a confident and able driver, decided that once he was home from work he wasn’t going back out again.

I think we are all up to date. I hope you had a wonderful December, with lots of light and enjoyable festivities to brighten this darkest time of the year, and that 2018 brings you everything you wish for and more. Happy New Year!

 

Wednesday WIP and Wonderful Walks

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Those few days whizzed by, didn’t they! I blogged on Saturday and now it’s Wednesday.

To finish off my report of the weekend away, Sunday was a pleasant day, and I spent two hours in the morning walking along a nature trail beside the lake/wetlands/nature reserve. I took a sweater, a rain jacket, a bottle of kombucha and a sandwich, but I could have left it all behind. But you know how it is. I didn’t know how long I’d be out for, whether the sun would shine or if it would cloud up and rain on me, and I do like to be prepared.

It’s a very beautiful place.

And so much greener than the valley where I live.

So, I showed you my shawl and my sunflower. Well after this walk on Sunday I spent literally hours crocheting and started a bag for my laptop. I have been meaning to do this ever since I bought the laptop, which is I think a couple of years ago now. I had all my Stylecraft Special Aran with me, and all my hooks, and I decided to use the C2C technique. It’s a great choice, being fairly dense and thick with the aran weight yarn, so will protect my laptop on the odd occasion when it leaves the house.

The colours go dark/medium/light across the work, with three rows of each colour.

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After finishing a rectangle that would wrap around my laptop, with a bit extra for a buttoned flap, I single crocheted all around it in navy, then folded it and single crocheted the sides together.

Pretty wild, huh!

It just needs buttons and of course even though I have a button stash I couldn’t find a combination I was happy with, so I have picked out some discontinued buttons from a basket at work and will bring them home tomorrow.

I also made this peace square.

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That link will take you to Ravelry. The pattern page has a further link to a video tutorial which I followed without even looking at the written pattern. It’s very thorough which is good, because you’ll probably have to do what I did and replay bits of round 2 because there’s a lot of messing about with crocheting in the back and front loops of stitches, plus the colour changes. Once that’s out of the way though it’s all quite simple.

One thing I dislike is on the vertical upper part of the lavender peace sign in my square you can see little dots of blue encroaching on the lavender. That’s because, while I changed colour to slipstitch for the end of the round, it would have been better to finish the previous stitch with the lavender and then slipstitch. I’ll know what to do if I make any more.

Monday evening was my Hygge group which this time was a happy group of five. There was much laughter, knitting and tea drinking.

And Tuesday was a day off too, so I made the most of the beautiful day by walking for a an hour on a nature trail alongside a creek followed by going out for tea and a vegan cookie with a friend. Today was a work day, as is tomorrow.

Enough chat. The day is winding down and if I want to get some crochet done I should revisit those Ravelry links I was researching this morning for leaves to add to my fall wreath. Talk to you later!

 

A weekend retreat

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Tai Chi Man and I are away for the weekend, leaving the three young men at home to eat, sleep and play unhindered! They are all adults now and can fend for themselves. Husband has classes, so I’m seeing him for short bursts of time in between. When I am alone, I am bingeing on Netflix (latest TV series watched is The Five), crocheting, computering, and this morning I hit the gym and the pool right here in the hotel. Gosh, it’s a tough life! I’ve also been out for a few short walks.

The view from our hotel room is very lovely and very changeable. The weather yesterday was low 20s (Celsius) and sunny, today it’s low teens and showery.

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That last one is today’s. Please excuse the dirty window. Nothing I can do about that!

I’m pleased to have a Ta Dah moment for the Spill Shawl. It’s not blocked, as I just finished it last night. I did try taking photos at the time, but a dimly lit hotel room is definitely not the ideal location so I took it out with me this afternoon. I found a nice stretch of beach to walk along and an interesting bit of fallen tree to drape the shawl on.

The last couple of rows are not the Lion Brand Mandala yarn, they are Deramores Studio DK in Jade. It was big enough by the end of the skein (and 67 rows) to call it quits but I thought a brighter/darker colour than the grey would finish it off better.

The other FO I have to show you is one I started and finished this morning, while drinking tea after my workout.

The pattern is from the book in the photos. It’s a sunflower to add to the pumpkin wreath in my kitchen. I used Stylecraft Special Aran in copper for the centre and lemon for the petals. It’s got great texture from all the popcorns.

I had checked Google Maps for getting a bead on the area and how to get to where I needed, but after the beach my aim was to find the large supermarket beside the Trans Canada highway. I did find it, just by a somewhat roundabout route. We have a small two-burner stovetop in our hotel room, and yesterday I threw together a very simple dinner from a can of kidney beans, a can of tomatoes, part of a bag of frozen vegetables, some salt and some chipotle flakes. OMG, I love chipotle. Smoked jalapeno, for those who don’t know, and I have the powder at home but forgot to bring any condiments or seasonings with me. So when I found the jar of flakes at the supermarket yesterday I just had to buy it.

Tonight I think we’ll have avocado and tomato on toast, and tomorrow night it’ll be pasta with olives, artichokes, tomatoes, peppers – and maybe some more of those chipotle flakes!

Brrr! I actually had to put a sweater on.

Hope your weekend is awesome. Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

FO: Travel cowl

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Ds1 and I arrived home yesterday from our holiday, tired, happy to have had lots of family time, but glad to be home.

We had had to drag ourselves out of bed really early, 4.30am early, which is just inhumane in my not-so-humble opinion, to get showered and dressed, pack the last few items in our bags, and get a ride to the airport for 6am.

The first flight out from the island was due to leave at 7.05 but we sat on the tarmac for a bit as Air Traffic Control was being extra careful because of the descending fog. Still, we made it out okay, which is more than I can say for my poor nephew who was supposed to be flying to the same airport on a different airline and then catch a connecting flight to Milan for a three-day getaway.

The fog worsened and he had to cancel his trip. One of the hazards of living on an island.

We were expecting heightened security at the London airports following the Manchester suicide bombing, plus possible extra issues following British Airways’ computer glitches which caused absolute chaos on Sunday. Many people had flights cancelled and/or were left standing around at Heathrow.

However, Gatwick was fine, with only a minor police presence as we left in our cab to drive to Heathrow. (I am really looking forward to Air Canada flying direct to Gatwick, which is rumoured to be happening later this year.)

Heathrow was fine – after having to deal with queues to get our boarding passes printed, security was no problem and the departures hall was only moderately busy. We found a place to have a coffee and before long it was time to walk to the gate. The flight to Calgary left on time and the time didn’t drag too badly, what with knitting, movies, eating and puzzles. There was another wait for the last flight home, but I watched another bit of the Crafternoon Treats podcast and then we were off. The last stripe on the cowl was added while flying over the Rockies at 20,000 feet.

Tai Chi Man picked us up and we came home to a meal cooked by ds3 who has apparently been rather good at getting meals made while I’ve been away. He did message me a fair bit with questions about how I made certain recipes, and last night’s dinner of nut roast, mashed potatoes and apple crumble was all very good. I unpacked, but I didn’t last long until I had to go to bed, as we’d been up for 24 hours.

I was wide awake at 5.30 this morning, and have had a quiet day at home, baking bread, doing laundry, making dinner and vegging on the couch. Oh, and finishing the cowl. The top two photos are after binding off, and I decided that I wanted the “wrong side” to be the “right side” as I preferred the colour transitions that way.

Seventeen stripes in the end…I didn’t knit every day, but travel days I did more than one stripe as I changed for each leg of the journey.

The yarn is Deramores Studio DK, 8 shades from the 12-colour Gemstones pack, with 6mm needles. I think I cast on 130 stitches, purely because that was what the tail of the yarn allowed and it was a workable number to go around the cable. It’s a good circumference and height and it was a great choice for my travel knitting as I could pick it up and put it down easily (though there were multiple balls to carry for the different colour stripes). I could have left the rest of the needle set at home, as I didn’t use them, or any crochet hooks or other equipment at all. I just broke the yarn with my hands when it was time to change colour.

My new Stylecraft Special DK is now getting acquainted with the rest of the SSDK in the big bag in my craft room. It will probably languish there for a bit as my niece has asked me to make her a VW camper van bag, for which I probably don’t need a pattern. There’s a few VW patterns on Ravelry, from bags to cushion covers to stuffed vans, which I can use for inspiration, but for now I’m waiting to see what colour she’s thinking of.

It’s 7.20pm now, I have work tomorrow, and I’m hoping to stay awake for a bit longer before I go to bed. Crossing my fingers for another good night’s sleep. Ah, jetlag!

 

 

Souvenir yarn

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Because a holiday isn’t complete without new yarn!

Colours in the above photo, in order from left to right, are clematis, duck egg, parma  violet, lobelia and sage.


I bought these from Country Wools here in the island of Jersey.  They have a good range of yarns including, you guessed it, Stylecraft. I made sure to buy colours that I don’t already have and that I can add to my bag of Special DK when I get home. 

It was a hot sunny day today and ds1 and I enjoyed some shady valley walking, a picnic in the park, and some exploring of an old fort. If we’d have had swimsuits with us, we’d have gone in the sea too. Actually he did, later in the day, after I’d dropped him off back at his granddad’s and I returned to my mum’s to cook dinner. Bet that sea was cold!

We’re nearing the end of our holiday now and it’s been great to spend time with family and see more of the island where I grew up. 

Happy crafting!

Travel knitting

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I packed my eight shades of Deramores Studio DK and my Knitpicks Interchangeables for my holiday. Waiting at airport #1 I cast on 130 stitches with the aubergine and knitted a few rounds. On the first flight to Calgary, I changed to the citrine and added some more. The jade was added during my Calgary-Heathrow flight (there was a long walk between flights and only a short wait before boarding, so no knitting at Calgary airport).

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The jade stripe is pretty narrow for an 8.5 hour flight because I did a little game-playing, movie-watching and dozing. Managing a little sleep was a miracle as it usually never happens.

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The pink stripe was added during the cab ride from Heathrow to Gatwick. I’m not counting rounds, just adding them in the time available.

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I changed to navy for the wait at Gatwick but I have to confess my eyes weren’t focussing too well by then due to tiredness. I slept for the whole of the third flight, which was thankfully short.

Well, this blog post took ages, interspersed with photo uploading problems and chatting to my mum. So I’m going to hit Publish and get it put to bed.

Hello dear readers

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My apologies for the long silence. What was that? Oh, you didn’t miss me at all. Well then!

I’m sure you realised that I was on holiday and that of course I was staying in a house with no internet, no wifi (oh, the horror!) and I had to snatch moments of internet time at other people’s houses or coffee shops where the speed was as slow as a snail with a broken leg.

I have to admit it’s good to get away from the dependence on ipads/ipods for a bit. We all had more sunshine and exercise than we get at home. We also had some good family and friends visiting time, back in the island of our birth.

For those who haven’t heard of Jersey (no, not New Jersey, the original Jersey) it’s a small island in the English Channel. One of the Channel Islands, close to France but part of the British Isles. There’s a whole lot of info about it on Wikipedia if you’re interested.

We stayed with my FIL, spent time (not enough) with my sister and mum, met up with some of Tai Chi Man’s numerous cousins, had dinner with an old friend of mine from way back when our children were small. It was great to have a mini reunion with two schoolfriends, one of whom I saw four years ago; the other I haven’t seen for over 35 years. I love my sister’s family – my niece and nephew have become delightful young adults, and she has two stepsons and a daughter-in-law now.

I actually swam in the sea – it was freezing!

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We walked a lot, sometimes twice a day, along cliff paths, narrow lanes and beachfronts. We were reminded of the joys and frustrations of living on a small island with too many cars, miles of winding roads (some of which are only the width of one car) and the constant issue of whether one will find a parking space.

I bought souvenir yarn…

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This from a small but well-stocked shop called Country Wools which I came across accidentally next door to a farm shop. They even had Stylecraft!

My sister had booked 12 of us for a tour to the Ecrehous, a reef that lies between Jersey and France. We showed up early on a drizzly Sunday morning, wondering whether it was a good idea, but even though the boat operators gave us the option of cancelling or postponing, we went ahead anyway. We were provided with waterproof jackets and lifejackets and took our seats in the rigid hull inflatable. It’s a good thing we all had handles to grip, because it was a white knuckle ride across the open sea to the reef, but in a good way! The drizzle stopped as soon as we left the harbour, and the sea was pretty calm, but there were still some interesting bumps to make some of us scream as if we were on a rollercoaster. That was fun!

The reef itself is, at high tide, made up of a few tiny islands – at low tide, a sandbar is exposed. There are some fishermen’s cottages built there which are rented out in the summer months. One of Tai Chi Man’s cousins actually honeymooned there. You have to take everything you need, including fresh water, and there is nothing to do except swim, sunbathe and watch birds. The day we went, it was a little chilly, but three of our group did go in the sea, and a couple of seals popped their heads out of the water really close to my nephew as he stood in the sea. Of course it happened when he didn’t have his GoPro to hand.

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This is my windblown tourist look!

We were on the reef for a couple of hours, and hadn’t taken any food with us as we had lunch planned for later at my sister’s house. Or so I thought. I sat on the pebbly beach and dug into my backpack for something and found two bars of chocolate. My brother-in-law is an avid photographer and you can’t move without being in danger of having it recorded for posterity, hence this shot. The boat ride back was more eventful as we were accompanied by dolphins, which really made the day special.

Our round trip to Jersey was over 14,000km, with three flights each way. It’s a long way to go for only two weeks but it was worth it to see everyone again. However it’s good to be home. There’s nothing like your own bed, your own kitchen. Sometimes I think the purpose of going away is to make you appreciate what you have at home.

Before I sign off, I had better show you my FOs. I have no current WIPs as I haven’t decided what to make next.

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More gift bags for jewellery, most of which were given away. And the finished Dragonfly scarf, which was left in Jersey with my sister. The colours are more blended in real life.

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That’s it for now. I have to work tomorrow so I should probably get to bed and dream about my next project!

 

Crochet on the dashboard

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I feel like that title would be great as a blog name, don’t you? I have more ‘crochet on the dashboard’ shots, as today we returned from the coast. I always love looking at the distant mountains with their snowcaps. Last night, we were travelling north through Vancouver and were able to see the floodlit ski runs at the top of Grouse mountain. There’s not that much snow up there right now, nothing like we have closer to home.

I have added about ten more rows to the Road Trip Scarf since Saturday. Of course, progress always seems so fast at first, but the rows get longer and longer. I am almost finished with one 5oz skein and suspect that when it’s finished it will take at least two.

We celebrated Chinese New Year this weekend, seeing in the Year of the Monkey. I learned how to say Happy New Year in Mandarin (in pinyin, it looks like this: xin nian kuai le) and the word for monkey is ‘houzi.’

I had a chance to practice other words and phrases that we have learned in Mandarin class too, though the Taiwanese have a slightly different way of pronouncing things.

One of the highlights of our weekend was playing archery tag. Tai Chi Man and I joined our two boys and a group of other twenty-somethings at a place in Richmond where they have an indoor ‘beach’ where you can go to play volleyball or archery tag. It was a lot of fun and my team won the first few games. Thankfully I didn’t get hit too often with the arrows, which were tipped with large marshmallow-type ends. I am certainly a little sore today from the exertion, but in a good way!
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Happy to be home on my own couch now, with a cup of Yorkshire tea and my crochet blankets. We will sleep well tonight in our own beds.

Road trip

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Typing this out on my iPad on the most boring stretch of highway in BC. Highway 1 from Chilliwack towards Greater Vancouver is long, straight and flat, and gives me an idea of what it’s like to drive across central Canada!

Anyway, I have the usual road trip photos of crochet on the dashboard, because Tai Chi Man is driving the car this time and I’m a passenger, so I have started a very appropriate project – Zooty Owl’s Road Trip Scarf!

This has been in my Ravelry queue for a long time and it’s written for a DK variegated yarn, it’s simple to make (every row is the same after the first two), and it saves me being bored as heck on a five hour drive. I’m using Red Heart With Love in the fruit punch colourway, which is worsted rather than DK but never mind!

The sun is shining here and it’s 10 degrees Celsius, which is like summer to us Okanagan people. We had to go through a lot of snow on the mountain passes to get here, and a minimum of minus 3, and the road was slushy and slippery in places. For a while, we were crawling along behind two snowploughs (and even passed one abandoned in a ditch).

So all is well so far, and we have now crossed the Fraser river and will be at our destination soon. I should probably pay attention to the GPS.