Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Christmas Bites the Dust

Christmas has come and gone, and I for one am pleased!  So much hype and stress - so much so that [cough, sneeze, sniff] I've landed myself a festive head cold!

But before I close the chapter on Christmas 2009, here are a few photos of my Christmas.

Christmas Eve at Nick's brother's house

Christmas Pavlova

The store is now closed, so I can snuggle up with my knitting and hopefully make a speedy recovery.  But I'm not only snuggling up with my knitting!!  Santa brought me a fabulous gift. Get a load of this baby:

Electric Fireplace

Can you see my smile from space??

I also got a fabulous gift certificate from my family for......[drum roll please...]

Oh my!  I've been asking for a yarn store gift certificate for years.  My patience paid off big time!  I can't wait to go online shopping.  I love the store, and I love the owners!

My Daddy also came through and made me some very special wooden sock blockers!  Bless his big heart!  Of course I don't need all of them, so I'm going to list a few pairs in my Etsy Store.

Sock Blockers

On Christmas Eve I finished my Fern Fiddles Mittens.  I love, love, love them.  There was only one big disappointment.....there wasn't enough yarn to knit the linings.  I'm REALLY annoyed by that cos the kit was very expensive.  And then to be so meager with the yarn!!  Yes, I'm going to email them.

Fern Fiddles

I hope you all enjoyed a blessed and happy Christmas with friends and family!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baby it's Cold Outside

Although not as cold as in other parts of Canada, it's still cold outside!  Only four more days of the store being open and then....

I don't have to go OUTSIDE anymore [laughing] well, not until 1st March 2010!  Woo hoo!  Holidays are nearly here.

Quite honestly, I shouldn't complain about the cold.  At least I'm not a fish!

Three Tier Pond

You might remember in my last post that I wrote about my Caramello Hilja Vest - the project had been stalled due to a pattern error.  Well I'm now delighted to post pictures of the finished project!  It's a great fit, and a really nice little pattern.

Caramello Hilja

Caramello Hilja

I also got around to knitting the lining of my Fiddlehead Mittens.  These mittens are super warm since there are basically three layers of fabric (two for the fairisle, and one for the lining).  Tonight I will cast on the second mitten.  The Tanis Fiber Arts DK (which incidentally looks more like sport weight to me) is very soft and a pleasure to knit with.

Lined Fiddleheads

Today I was swatching for my next sweater project:  Rogue by Jenna Wilson.  There are 1,040 Ravelry projects for this hooded sweater!  Not bad when you do the math at $USD6 per pattern.  There is a kangaroo style pocket pouch on the front of this sweater, but I don't think I'll knit that.  I can't imagine putting my hands in the pouch and risking stretching the sweater.

The yarn I got for this project is Cornelia Hamilton's Heaven's Hand Wool Classic in the chocolate colourway.  I ordered this yarn online, and the colour was darker in person than on my monitor.  So I'm a little disappointed about that.  There is some very pretty celtic cabling in this sweater pattern, and now I'm wondering whether the cables will get lost in the depth of the brown.  What do you guys think?


Monday, December 14, 2009

Fern Fiddles

Despite finishing all my Christmas knitting [insert bitta self love and a good ol' pat on the back], my needles are full of other fun projects.

But before I share the good stuff, here are the completed Christmas knitting projects:

Never Smile at a Crocodile (this scarf is for a good friend's grand-daughter, Belle)

Naran Felted Mittens (these are for Nick)

Remember the Caramello Hilja Vest I wrote about earlier this month? Well, I'm almost finished it. The delay was an error in the pattern that I couldn't figure out. I wrote to the designer, but her reply left me more confused. So I wrote to a fellow Raveler who'd knit the pattern last year. Although Julia didn't knit her Hilja as per the pattern, she did help me figure out what the instructions meant. I would like to add here that the designer is Finnish, so the translated instructions were a little hard to follow.

I'm hoping to have the vest finished this week!

On a more drool-worthy note ... I have been lusting after the Fiddlehead Mittens (designer: Adrian Bizilia) since they hit Ravelry in 2008. Earlier this year I bought a kit for them that included the pattern and the yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts. While awaiting replies about my Hilja Vest, I cast them on.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the pattern. The yarn is lovely. The colours are lovely. This is super addictive. I've completed one mitten; it's blocked and drying nicely. I'm going to start the lining tonight ... yes, whilst finishing my Hilja Vest [laughing]. Did I mention they are addictive.

Fern Fiddles

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Festival of Lights

Yesterday I went on a bus tour operated by Take a Break Travel Inc. to the Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls.

What a fantastic tour!

We departed London Mall at 9:15am. Following several pickups throughout London, our bus load of 56 headed off to our first stop! Shopping for 45mins at Coyle's Country Store. What a nice little surprise for us all! I bought a cute little plum pudding, and a few Christmas gifts!

From there we went to Woodstock for lunch at the Truck Stop. This was only a short stop to grab an early bite since we were having an early dinner.

Once fed and watered, we drove off to the next destination - Kittling Ridge Winery & Distillery. This place was awesome! Rich in history and rich in wine and spirits. Kittling Ridge is the only place in Ontario where you can experience the wine-maker's art and the distiller's craft in one visit. Although not a wine drinker, I did sample three delicious beverages at the tasting bar.

First was an exquisite and multi-award winning Icewine & Brandy! Not too sweet, with a lovely blend of brandy - it's mostly used as a dessert wine. I came home with a few gift packs of this!

Second was an Oh Canada Maple Liqueur. Since this is a blend of maple syrup and whiskey, it was not my cuppa tea. It's often used in baking and cooking, mixed with coffee, hot chocolate and egg nog, and brushed on meat after baking.

Last was a Bolivar Coffee Liqueur. This is an all natural liqueur made from deep roasted, freshly ground, South American coffee beans. It's less sweet than other coffee liqueurs, and somewhat like Tia Maria or Kahlua. It's often used in hot chocolate, over ice or any recipe that calls for a coffee liqueur. Delicious mixed with milk or cream and an easy dessert served over ice cream.

On the road again! Our next stop was the Niagara Parks Greenhouse. The greenhouses feature two ponds, a collection of plants from around the globe, and tropical birds flying around. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas Show of poinsettias, cyclamen, azaleas, and Christmas cactii.

Our next stop was Horseshoe Falls. Although very cold, this attraction never disappoints. You could take a hundred photos every day and still never capture the power, the noise or the vastness of the falls.

Dinner in the revolving restaurant in Skylon Tower was included in our tour. What a fabulous view! The restaurant completes one revolution every 1hr. We arrived just before 6pm, so we saw the city "light up". It was simply breathtaking! The food was great too - hot buttered bread and salad for starters, followed by chicken breast with potatoes and green beans. Dessert was a peach melba and that was followed by a lovely cuppa tea.

After dinner it was back on the bus to view the Winter Festival of Lights. There are over three million sparkling lights along a 5km route! Light displays included: Dufferin Islands Displays, Winter Wonderland Displays, Enchantment of Disney® Displays, and Displays in the City.

I made good use of all the bus travel - of course I knitted like a demon! I'm making another pair of felted mittens!

Although there were no more stops on the way home, we did enjoy a classic black and white Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. For those who've never seen it, the basic plot of the story goes like this: an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

9:45pm - buss pulls up again at London Mall! Exhausted, but exhillirated, we all shuffle out the bus, thank our driver, Darwin, our host Barb, and head for home!