Friday, February 13, 2015

February 13: Baking in the dead of winter

We're in the thick of it here, winter-wise, and I'm obsessed with hygge.

So far, this has translated into lighting lots of candles, having drinks in cozy pubs...and making bread. It's just basic sandwich bread – but oh, it's good.

I let the mixer do most of the hard work.

A few good turns on the countertop...

And into the pan it goes.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 27 – A stitch in time

So here's a thing about being a sock knitter: eventually you become a sock darner.

You might remember these socks from before. I discovered recently that they needed a bit more out came the needle and yarn and darning egg again.

And then this weekend I discovered that another pair of socks was on the verge of holey-ness. These socks – I think of them as "the first of the modern era," as they're the first pair I made when I really got back into knitting again, about six years ago – were made with a super sturdy yarn (a good 25% acrylic blend does wonders for preserving lifespan) but worn spots come even to the best of socks.

A bit of weaving, a bit of Swiss darning, a bit of making-it-up-as-I-go, and these guys are ready to go back into service for at least a little while longer. It might not be super pretty, but I find it enjoyable in its own way, and I'm certainly faster at darning socks than I am at knitting them!

More on darning: Rachel's post about her visit to The Department of Repair; Tom of Holland on darning samplers and a really cool sweater repair; Kate Atherley on darning basics in Knitty; super skilful repairs to inspire you from Addison Embroidery.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jan 11 – The other side

Well. That was a whirlwind.

Since last we met I've packed, moved, unpacked, started my job, flown home for Christmas, flown back to Halifax, gone back to work and unpacked a bit more. I've been the lucky recipient of endless amounts of hospitality as my belongings wended their way cross-country in the back of a moving van. I'm lucky to have many kind and generous friends who've made the transition easier than I'd imagined it could be. 

In between all the travel and packing and unpacking, I marked sixty final exams and forty portfolios, enjoyed multiple goodbye parties, knitted a few tiny Christmas socks, watched a friend's son take his first steps, and ate the best part of a tin of Quality Street. Somewhere in there I ate turkey; had trifle for breakfast; soaked up as much time with friends as I could (never enough, but still: we tried).

Now I'm here, settled in to my new home, getting into the swing of a new routine. I'm mastering the hills (oh my goodness, the hills), have located the yarn shops and a knitting group (though I've barely knit a stitch – too distracted), and I hosted my first dinner party last night. My first visitor from Upper Canada is due to arrive in less than a month. It's coming together.

Today I picked up the camera and followed the sun around the apartment. Some scenes...

This bowl just glows in the right light.

A housewarming gift from my sister. Everyone needs a wiener dog to guard their keys!

These are going to be a pair of long johns, eventually. Hopefully sooner rather than later: it's COLD here! (I know, I know, it's winter in Canada. But still.)

They renovated my building but left the original ceiling in the entryway.

La plus ├ža change...made these cookies and felt right at home.

A stool for perching on at breakfast time. It needs a cushion. I've got the fabric – just need to get my hands on a pillow form.

I filled the spare room with craft supplies. Naturally.

I've got a window over the sink! The perfect home for some of my favourite things.

I can watch the sun set while I wash the dishes. The skies here are spectacular – a by-product of the frigid temperatures.

Old friends.

Fresh flowers – I'm so happy that it's tulip time again.

I've always thought of clear skies like this as "Nova Scotia blue."

So that's that. Home. Hooray!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 18: Changes

There are changes afoot.

Months ago, freshly returned from my Nova Scotia vacation, I applied for a job in Halifax. A good job. A good job with good people, in one of my favourite parts of the world.

And then life got busy, as it does in September, and things kept rolling and the weeks went by, and it was a bit of a surprise when I was asked in for an interview. (!) And then a second interview. (!!) And then I received a job offer. (!!!) Which I accepted. 

In less than a month, I'll be moving to Halifax.


It has all happened so quickly that I find myself a bit bamboozled. I've ticked a lot off my to-do list but there's still so much to be done—so many papers to mark, boxes to pack, friends to see, and last visits to favourite places before I get on that plane heading east. 

So that's where I've been, and where I'm going. I'm pretty excited to be heading back to Nova Scotia—a move I've been planning for almost as long as I've lived in Toronto. (Sorry Toronto: you're just not my type.) I can't wait to be close to the ocean again.

All this means my crafting has slowed down considerably—I've been knitting a stitch here or there when I can fit it in, but my mind is elsewhere. In fact, I'm thinking a lot about the crafty adventures that await: I'm looking forward to taking a class at Patch Halifax, and I just discovered this rug-hooking shop in Amherst. My new apartment will have room for a spinning wheel, so there's surely a trip to Gaspereau Valley Fibres in my future, too. Hooray!

Now if I can just figure out how to trick my Toronto friends into some of the bigger moving boxes I've got lying around, I'll be all set...

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20: Story of a Rhinebeck sweater

Rhinebeck was great. There were sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and rabbits; just about every kind of fibre you can imagine; nifty little (and big!) trinkets; treats of every description, including apple cider donuts; trees aflame with fall colour.

I loved seeing my knitting friends – many of whom I only know via Twitter, or who I get to see once a year at Squam – in person. I loved seeing so many people I didn't know parading around in their knitted finery. It was a true feast for the eyes.

I didn't do much parading around in my knitted finery, because I spent the weekend trying to finish my finery. The first clue that I wasn't going to be wearing my sweater was when one of my non-knitter friends looked at my knitting last Monday and said, "Hey, nice scarf."

Hm. She had a point.

Try as I might, I didn't think I'd be able to pull off the "knitted cummerbund with matching arm warmers" look. Thus ensued much fevered knitting, but by Thursday night I had yet to join the sleeves to the body. I stitched and stitched and stitched...and I carried that WIP with me all weekend.

I finally cast off in the car on the way home, about 65 miles from the US-Canada border. At the next rest stop, I changed clothes at the gas station for a quick victory photo. It was supremely, sublimely itchy, but oh boy: I am in love with this sweater.

It's blocking now and I can't wait to wear it. Maybe I'm being silly, but I'm actually a little bit happy that it worked out the way it did. Now it's more than a sweater; it's a sweater with a story. My favourite kind.

(Details on my version of Strokkur here. Next up: Carpino.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October 5 – Bits and pieces: changes and the gathering in

Not much new these days really: reading, walking, stitching, cooking. Perhaps not revolutionary, but still things to be savoured in the early, not-too-cold days of early autumn.

I finished the afghan at long last. The seaming was a bit of a chore, but the final border – a round of double crochet in navy – went on without much fuss. It's not a huge blanket, but it'll be just the thing for a baby at some point or other. I'm glad to be retiring the crochet hook for a little while.

My Rhinebeck sweater is coming along. The sleeves are done and I cast on the body today. I'll be pushing it to get finished in time, but when it comes to me and knitting deadlines, what else is new?

I read the profile of Marilynne Robinson in the New York Times last week on the subway as I made my way home from school, and when I got to my stop I walked directly to the bookstore to buy a copy of Gilead. It has captured me in a way that books seldom do these days. I'm savouring it.

Two weeks ago I finished my job at the yarn store. It was a difficult decision, but after working 30 days straight in August/September, I knew I needed to make a change. I celebrated my first real weekend off in more than a year by heading to the farmer's market yesterday, which is where I found the dahlias.

After the farmer's market I walked down to the Distillery District. I like it there, like the glimpses of the city's industrial past and the reassuring hum of highway traffic in the near distance. I poked around, took some pictures, bought some fancy chocolate and drank a chai latte while I watched little kids chase pigeons and sparrows chase crumbs. The sun was in and out; the rain was on and off. There was a teasing breeze.

On the way home I walked through back streets, deliberately choosing unfamiliar routes. It was refreshing to see the familiar skyline from an unfamiliar perspective; almost as good as being out of town. (Almost.) When I stay away from the thoroughfares I can feel my pace slow and my head come up – more time for sauntering, more time for looking and wondering. I need to do that more often.

At home, the nights draw in and the lights go on earlier day by day. My mind is turning to roasted meats and veg, puddings that simmer in the oven. I brew mug after mug of tea. I pulled an old favourite pullover out of the drawer today; it's not one of my fancier sweaters, but putting it on felt like being reunited with an old friend.

I do love the fall.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24 – Lately

Here we are and somehow September's almost over. Last week there was a definite chill in the air; this week the warmth has returned, albeit for a limited engagement. I've been busy with all manner of work, which hasn't left much time for the fun stuff...but here are a few things from the in-between times.

The deadline for the crochet blanket CAL came and went and I'm still the proud owner of a bunch of piles of granny squares. Oh well – you win some, you lose some, I guess.

There were no hot dogs to be found.

My neighbour's copper beech has turned, and so has the oak just up the street. I love walking along the street in the morning and watching the way the early sun turns the leaves into stained glass.

I made a hat. If you're looking for a quick-and-easy FO hit, Jared Flood's Turn-a-Square has got to be it. Apple optional but highly recommended.

From this morning's walk to school.

Anyway, miles to go before I sleep. More soon.