Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Eagle has Landed

If you read my blog somewhat regularly, you might remember a past post about a special hat - a Suedtirolean Hat - I was designing and knitting for my Dad for his birthday.

After what seemed like a zillion design hours [compared to actual knitting time] I converted a Suedtirolean Coat of Arms (COA) graphic into a workable knitting chart. The chart had way too many colour shades, so I had to painstakingly [=manually] convert it into three colours using Photoshop. The next hurdle was that it was far too big (48 stitches and 40 rows) and would have knit up to 5 x 6 inch motif. So I had to reduce the image by about 40% and eliminate quite a lot of the detail [what a shame].

Then the swatching began with Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift 4-ply yarn. Aye, aye, aye! I thought I counted right, and cast on 170 stitches using 3.25mm needles. Well, I was wrong. Way wrong. After frogging a couple of times, I finally cast on 140 stitches using 2.75mm needles. Then I switched to 3.25mm needles for the stranded motif work and the crown of the hat.

I had to write the knitting pattern "on the fly", but quite honestly, you can't go too wrong with a hat.

It's hard to fit a hat on a head that is 20,000km and 9 time zones away! Mum gave me Dad's head measurements, but I still had to improvise...

Suedtirolean Hat

Meet my Dad!

The hat turned out really well. It was my first fully stranded hat project. The only change I'd make would be to cast on more stitches and use 3mm needles for a denser fabric. I'm going to block Dad's hat once I get to Australia and stick it on his "real" head [hehehe].

Suedtirolean Hat
If this hat could talk, what an amazing guinness story it would have:

Well mates, I started off as sheep fleece in Scotland. Aye! I was processed into yarn and then imported into Canada. I was then purchased by an Aussie who knit a Suedtirolean motif from my lovely woolen fibres into a hat. She then flew me all the way to Australia for her Dad!

Cheers big ears!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stash Bag and Alpaca Hat

Last night a few of us got together at Chapters/Starbucks for a "Stitch and Bitch". I can honestly say we did both exceptionally well - some of us did better at the latter than the former [laughing].

I took along a couple of FOs for "show and tell"; my Pacific Hoodie, Gerlinde Scarf and Alpaca Earflap Cap. I've blogged about the hoodie and scarf, so now the cap gets all the glory.

This cap came in a knit kit from Alpaca Acres, Stratford, Ontario. I chose grey and white figuring they are both neutral and go with everything. Originally this cap was to be for me, but I decided to make it for my lovely sister-in-law, Theresa, for Christmas.

The yarn was an absolute delight to knit with, and the cap knit up really fast. I began it after lunch on Friday and finished it after lunch on Saturday! I think the fiddliest part of the project was [no, not the fairisle] the applied I-cord around the edge of the hat and earflaps. I've never done applied I-cord before, so it took a few tries before I got the right tension.

Voila - one lovely alpaca cap:

After "show and tell", I attempted to cast on my Suedtirolean Hat, but given the poor light and combination of 3.25mm needles, black yarn and brain freeze, all I really achieved was a buggered up cast on that was frogged when I got home.

On Friday morning I went with a friend to Canadian Tire for some electrical bits to repair our GFI outlet beside Pork Chop pond. Whilst there, we roamed around the Christmas aisles....always such fun. And that's where I spotted it. The tag read "Christmas Wreath Protector", but by knitting radar read YARN STASH BAG [this baby comes fully loaded with an awesome zipper, clear viewing window, and carry handle].

I got it home, aired it out, and here it is filled with some of my sock weight yarn stash that had been residing in a box:

For $9.98, I might have to get another one!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Hoodie and a Hat

Woo hoo! Karlia's Pacific Hoodie is done! This was the third hoodie for my oldest niece (5 1/2 yrs).

I finally figured a better way of doing the zipper and it installed very easily.

Here's the final result:

Karlia's Pacific Hoodie
Tonight I will be casting on a the Südtirolean Hat for my Dad for his birthday on Boxing Day. He's almost impossible to buy a gift for due to his problematic eyesight, bad hearing, and lack of hobbies. And no I can't get him more clothing - the man will never wear his way through the obscene pile of shirts, sweaters and socks he's been gifted throughout the years!

I do know that he enjoys skiing with my brother and his grandchildren, so I decided he needs a new hat. Like most men, he loves black and gray, so I've designed a hat just for him using charcoal as the background colour.
There will be much history knitted into this hat.

My Dad was born in the small village of Völlan, (province of Bolzano) in the South Tryol region of north east Italy. This region was part of Austria before WWI, but after the war it became a part of Italy.

All European villages, towns, cities, counties and provinces have a Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms for Südtirol is an eagle. The eagle symbolises strength, courage, farsightedness and immortality. It is considered to be the king of the air and the messenger of the highest Gods.

So I am knitting this eagle into Dad's hat. I used an online software program called KnitPro to turn the picture into a knitting stitch pattern. Then I imported it into Photoshop and reduced the colour bleeds and colours to just three - red, gold and black.

I'll post pics as soon as I have some!

Winter Wonderland

Walking in a winter wonderland - that's what I was doing this morning in -1c. The snow was soft, dry and powdery - just beautiful. As much as I hate the winter, I love the first snow fall.

Let is snow!The Maples are so prettyPork Chop pond in the background
But, this wasn't really our first snow fall either - we had a storm a couple of weeks ago. That snow was heavy and wet and caused a lot of damage.

I checked all the ponds and they all seemed just fine. In order for fish to survive the winter freeze, a hole must be maintained in the ice. This allows for carbon dioxide to exit the pond, and air to enter it. So, I have an air pump in Oma's pond; a pond vent de-icer in Pork Chop pond, an ice free unit in Three Tier pond, and a heater in Mega pond.

So pretty...From the bridge over Mega Pond
Here some more pics of life in the freezer:

Sandi being cautious!Shelby isn't too sure about the cold!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have you seen an Aussie Santa?

My Aussie Santa - he wears swimmers! I swear it. And why wouldn't he? Aussie Christmases are green and warm. Well OK, maybe a little warmer than simply - warm. Hot. Yes. If you agree that 30C is hot [hehehe].

When I was little, I remember so many Christmas dinners being prepared whilst standing in front of a cooling fan. Mum and I would be wearing our swimmers, and every hour we'd drag our sweat-drenched butts down to the river for a swim....

Can't picture that? Well here's what my idea of Christmas is:

And for those reading my blog, you'll already know that I'm going home for Christmas!! My tickets are booked and I'm off to the surf, sand and sunshine on 10th December! Woo hoo!

I've been knitting like a mad woman for Christmas - so many gifts; so little time. It's always kinda weird sending or taking knitted gifts to Australia. Afterall, 25th December is high summer downunder - and no need for knitted woolies... But I'm a knitaholic - and I think the family understands!

So without further ado, I present to you two more knitted Christmas gifts!

Here is Emily's Pumpkin Hoodie. The zipper installation still pisses me off - I just can't get it to sit nicely [grrr......]. This is the Briggs & Little yarn that I hand dyed.

And here is Mum's Gerlinde Lace Scarf. Although I was doing more tinking than knitting at first, by the time I got half way through it, the stitches were flying off the needles. This was my first lace project; hence the tinking!

The photos do not do it justice. The scarf is so amazingly soft; it shimmers and shines and is just beautiful. I knitted it from Hand Maiden Mini Maiden in the Paris colorway.

Now I'm working on Karlia's Pacific Hoodie. Thank God this is the last hoodie. I'm all hoodied out!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

13 Hour Road Trip

Thirteen hours is a very long road trip - in fact, if I flew on an airplane for 13 hours I could get from Vancouver to Sydney! BUT, a flight to Australia could never compare to the awesome road trip I was a part of yesterday!

Although the weather was not as sensationally lovely as the days leading up to Friday 7th November, it was still relatively warm in the morning, and didn't turn into rain and crap until the late afternoon. Kata and Will picked me up at 11:30am and our day began.

First stop: Michaels Craft Store. Both Kata and I had a 40% discount coupon! I bought a stitch counter and two balls of Patons Stretch Socks in the Olive colorway. What a bargain - 2 balls for $7

Second stop: Chapters/Starbucks to pick up Liz for our road trip and get coffee!

Third stop: Crunican Apple Orchard located on Richmond Street North (Hwy #4). Kata and Will bought a big bag of apples and maple lolly pops for all of us [aww, they are so sweet]. I bought some honey bee honey.

Fourth stop: Alpaca Acres, Stratford, Ontario. We arrived just after 1pm, and were greeted by Ann and Dan, and their dog Guinness. Ann and Dan spent two hours with us answering our barrage of questions. Such lovely people. Such lovely huacaya alpacas!! What a huge learning curve!

Alpaca Acres is home to 22 alpacas. When you first glance their way, you tend to only notice black, chocolate brown, dark brown and cream. I didn't realise there were 22 natural alpaca shades!

The alpacas are sheared once a year in May. Their fiber is up to eight times warmer than sheep wool, and it's stronger.

The alpacas have their babies once a year following 11 months of pregnancy! Yowza! And according to Ann, by the 10th month the girls are real moody and bitchy [laughing].

We were formally introduced to Timmey, Joey, Tia, Jenny, Bently, "no name" and others I simply can't remember the names of. My favourite was little "no name". His colour reminded me so much of a sable burmese or a mink. I wanted to call him Shelby; Kata wanted to call him Oliver [laughing].

Now for more pics:

After all the petting and feeding, we went into the little store to shop! I came home with 119g of alpaca roving from Joey, and a Madison Lacy Scarf Kit.

Fifth stop: it was just after 3pm as we waved goodbye to Alpaca Acres. We grabbed some lunch at A&W and headed back to London to make another pickup!

Sixth & seventh stops: cheap petrol (84.6 cents/litre!) and collecting Kat for the next leg of our road trip!

Eighth stop: Shall We Knit, Peel Street, New Hamburg. We arrived around 6:30pm and were greeted by Karen, the owner. Naturally we spent the next hour fondling, touching, petting and feeling! Mmmm......yarn..... Karen owns such a wonderful store!

We all exhausted our poor little credit cards, although I behaved myself somewhat better this time than last time. I came home with three skeins of Cascade 220 (orange, yellow and turquoise) to knit into Moorehouse Crocodiles for my nieces. Oh yeah, just found out that my God Child Jaycee Mae has a new favourite colour......."lellow" [laughing]. At least I don't have to knit pink anymore!! Woo hoo!!

I also bought a Twisted Sisters Avarice Fingerless Mitt and Mitten Kit in the Verdigris colorway. The yarn is absolutely fabulous - 100% Prime Alpaca. Sooooo soft. Unfortunately my camera and photography skills do not do the yarn justice.

Friday night is "knit night" at Shall We Knit. There's always plenty of lovely hot cups of tea with all sorts of yummy nibbles, and of course, the awesome company of fellow knitters.

Ninth stop: Although it was 10:30pm and we'd just left Shall We Knit (poor Karen), we hadn't eaten dinner and we were starving. We knew where we were going.....Stratford's New Orleans Pizza! Yum!

Tenth (and final) stop: 12:30am - Kata and Will dropped me off at home where the awesome road trip began. Phew! What a terrific day.

Thank you so much to Will for driving, to Kata for organising the whole road trip, and to Liz and Kat being part of a memorable day!

Oh, and last, but not least, a yummy skein of Blue Faced Leicester arrived in the mail for me yesterday! Fleece Artist's Trail Socks in the Victoria colorway from Colorsong Yarn.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Come from a Land Downunder

Yeah, yeah, I know you all KNOW that I come from a land downunder, but what some of you might not know is that I'm going home to Australia for a vacation [you little rippa]! I'm so excited to see my family and friends!

My parents live in Grafton, New South Wales (The Jacaranda City) situated on the Clarence River. The Jacaranda is a tree native to South America and grows to 30m. It has the most awesome mauve/blue bell shaped flowers during summer. The streets of Grafton are lined with Jacarandas and the city has an annual festival during the first week of November in honour of the tree.

Grafton Clock Tower

Clarence River, Grafton

Jacaranda Flowers and Tree

My sister lives in Lismore, New South Wales. Lismore is about 1.5hrs drive north of Grafton on the far north coast of NSW, and situated on the Wilson River. I worked in Lismore at Southern Cross University until I came to Canada. My sister works there still. My niece Emily lives in Lismore.

View of Lismore from Goonellabah

Wilsons River, Lismore

My brother lives in Brisbane, Queensland. Brisbane is about 3hrs drive north of Lismore and situated on the Brisbane River. My brother owns his own business, Weiss Electrical. My nieces Karlia and Jaycee live in Brisbane. My Aunt and her family also live in Brisbane.

Brisbane, Queensland

Brisbane River

I hope the weather is kinder to me on this trip. My last holiday in Australia was flooded out!

Only 34 more sleeps to go! Woo hoo!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho ... It's Off To Shop We Go!

I had the afternoon off on Friday! Yippee for me! My noisy bubbly super tough lovely friend, Roxanne, picked me up, and together with my printed MapQuest maps we set off on a yarn store road trip!

Our destination was Country Yarns, La Salle Road, Petrolia, Ontario.

So what was our excuse this time? Well, Roxanne is a my queen of crochet! She has crocheted me some absolutely gorgeous things including three tablecloths, two christening gowns for my nieces and a lacy little summer top. And now she is finally crochetting herself a tablecloth using Coats Opera 20 thread. Only trouble was that the 10 balls I gave her weren't enough. And guess who carries it? Yup, Country Yarns.

The drive there was lovely and took us exactly one hour. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised at the amount of stock that Jeanne carries in her home business. The quaint little store is lovely, as is Jeanne! She carries knitting and crocheting yarns, patterns, accessories, needlework and cross stitch supplies, tapestry wool and floss, and the most delightful tapestry canvases you've ever seen!

Roxanne was in tapestry heaven! She bought a fabulous tapestry canvas and ordered another. Plus she got her Coats thread for the tablecloth. And the best part was that everything she bought was on sale!

I bought a great Clover Row Counter, a fabulous skein of TimiQuipa sport weight for just $5! (the last one), a beautiful skein of On Your Toes sock yarn in beautiful green print, and the most awesome Handspinner's Dream Alpaca with a Twist ready to spin combed top! And it gets better!! Jeanne also gave me 30% off my purchases. So I got out of there for just under $50!

What I was really looking for though was a 5.5mm Addi Turbo Bamboo 32" circular needle to knit my water turtles lace shawl. Jeanne didn't have any in stock, but she did recommend another yarn store only 15mins away in Sarnia. She phoned ahead for us, drew us a totally awesome mud map, and off we went! What an absolute delight to find friends in business. So rarely will a store recommend a competitor. Thank you so much Jeanne.

There on 105 Mitton Road [how appropriate!] Sarnia, Ontario, we found the Ewe Are Special Wool Shoppe. What a wonderful little store! And the owner, Marg, is equally lovely. She carries a wide range of yarn, accessories, needles, books, patterns and more! And what a lovely little stash of Noro she has!!

Roxanne had already spent all her money, but I still had some, so off I went in search of something special. I bought two skeins of Noro Cash Iroho in the Emerald colorway, one skein of Manos del Uruguay in the Canyon colorway, and two Addi Turbo Bamboo circular needles. Marg gave me a discount of 30% off my Noro and Manos purchases! Thank you Marg.

What an awesome day! Our round trip took us 4 hours in total - door to door. Roxanne and I hope to visit both stores again soon. Thank you Jeanne and Marg for your lovely hospitality.

And when I got home there was a package from KnitPicks!! Yippee! My 16" circs and book arrived.

The book is called Icelandic Knitting by Helene Magnusson and is really beautiful!

Wow, what a day! Hi ho, hi ho!