Thursday, April 24, 2014

grey skies

Another shawl, another gift. This time Veera Valimaki's Blackcurrant Shawl using two skeins of Rhichard Devrieze's fingering weight wool. I rarely use fingering but it's really surprising how far it goes. The pattern was simple but interesting, creating a fun, drapey shape at the front. The semi-solid colourway of the wool is sophisticated and I imagine the merino will soften over time. The colour suits this elongated winter perfectly - not to mention the eye colour of the recipient! - but hopefully some warmer weather will appear soon to inspire a brighter shade for my next knitting project. I won't count on it though. 

And more books! These two novels took place on opposite sides of the world, in different time periods - but even so, I can't say which I preferred more. Linda Olsson's Sonata for Miriam was characteristically sad, but a little less haunting than her Memory of Love. Olsson tells such an emotional story full of rich and heartbreaking characters. In this case a father loses his daughter but in the process of healing finds a way back to his real family and eventually the mother of his child. From Australia to Poland to a lonely island in Sweden, it was a tough but really memorable journey. Sally Armstrong's The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor starts with a journey, but once the main character makes her way to Canada the bulk of the story happens in the young country. The novel takes place in the late 1700's/early 1800's and the description of life in that time period was fascinating. Armstrong has written about her great-great-great grandmother but even with liberties, she created a realistic, formidable character. I loved Charlotte, her gigantic family, the true love of her life Wioche and the rough, developing landscape of New Brunswick.

For more knitting and reading suggestions, visit today's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

boneyard and books

At the beginning of every year, in the depths of winter, I seem to struggle finding the right knitting project. Start and abandon, start and abandon, start and abandon. Finally I had to choose something and just see it through. So I picked up a Boneyard shawl that I started ages ago and finished it. Phew.

This wool took a bit to get used to. The plies really separate and since it's cotton there is no bounce at all. But the colour - which is why I bought the Americo in the first place - is really lovely, and the cotton makes the shawl drape nicely. Now that it's finished I'm really pleased with it and I hope it's helped kick my project rut.

I haven't been abandoning books though. Each one in this stack was wonderful in its own way. Farley Mowat's Owls in the Family was probably my favourite of the four. I read it with the kids at bedtime and it's utterly charming. We learned so much about owls and Mowat is such a fantastic storyteller. My other Canadian read, Mary Lawson's Crow Lake, started out as a tough, heartbreaking story but the character development was so strong that I stayed up late into the night to find out what happened to the compelling siblings from northern Ontario. I heart rural Canadian landscapes and exploring family relationships. Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending left me somewhat indifferent but like all the theories that sprung up with True Detective, it was fun to read people's reactions to the novel's ending and their take on the narrator's trustability. I may have enjoyed that more than the novel itself! And finally, Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? was really fun, but a little painful too. Any story about women disappearing into marriage and motherhood is tough to read. But the characters, the dialogue, the time spent in I said, really fun.

For more stories about knitting and reading visit today's Yarnalong.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

catch up

There's no such thing as too many cowls. Also - there's no such thing as too many knitted gifts. Combine these two thoughts and that's exactly what this cozy seed cowl is all about. Using Sweet Georgia's Superwash Chunky in a stormy grey semi-solid colour way, all that I have left to do is wrap up the garment and send it across the country to an old friend.

As for a reading update, I've been on a great run of fantastic novels and The Memory of Love was no exception. I loved Linda Olssen's Astrid & Veronika a few years back, but worried that my expectations might be too high. I shouldn't have worried - this novel was similarly quiet with a pace and storyline that was incredibly compelling. Marion, the main character, has a painful past stretching all the way back to her difficult childhood. Olsson reveals Marion's past slowly, taking us through her memories while we're getting to know Ika, the young, troubled boy that Marion feels uncharacteristically driven to protect. The parallel stories have equal parts despair and hope, but there's something so crisp and thoughtful about Olsson's writing that the despair never takes hold. I love her writing style so much, I ordered Olsson's other novel right after finishing. My expectations are likely even higher now but I don't think I'll worry this time.

For more knitting and reading stories, visit today's Yarnalong.

Friday, February 21, 2014

best room in the house

After a long week at work I'm crossing my fingers tomorrow brings what I consider to be the perfect Saturday morning: we have nothing to do, the sun shines into our basement studio, and we hang out in our pyjamas making things.

The flood and our collective eagerness to use the basement has kept me from taking any decent "after" pictures of the finished reno. Fabric, supplies and taped up drawings quickly took over and we still haven't brought our rug back in (the poor thing is rolled up in the garage until I figure out how to clean the groundwater out of it). If you look closely you can see the wonkiness in the flood-damaged floor, but it no longer bothers us - we've decided to live through another spring/summer before replacing it so that we can feel confident last summer's flood truly was a freak occurrence.

Basically we love this space. Everyone has their own desk, I have a cutting table and a fabric stash I can see, and if one of us goes down there it inspires others to follow. Milo has been drawing more, Sadie types up her stories and we generally make a mess. The mess might not be photo worthy but it's just what we hoped for way back when. We have the room to be creative and if the sun shines tomorrow, that's exactly where we'll be.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

back in time

The sewing bug came back this week, but instead of clothes I actually sat down and made a doll. Which I don't think I've done in...years? It's funny, because dolls were kind of my thing back in 2005 when I started this blog. I just haven't been thinking dolls. Until last Friday. And then suddenly a little bunny emerged.

Like the Bundlies I made so many years ago, I imagined a doll wearing a snowsuit so just the face would be exposed. I'm Canadian through and through - everything I make has to do with keeping warm.  But this time, instead of little children, why not an animal? I thought having ears popping out could be fun. And it was - it really, really was. Using up small bits of wool to make tiny scarves is pretty fun too, so there's a good chance I'll keep going.  There's an almost finished fox waiting patiently on my work table.

Speaking of Canada, I've finished another novel for this year's challenge. The Emperor of Paris by CS Richardson was wonderful. Much like Richardson's other novel, the lyrical, fairytale quality of his writing really appeals to me (that this tale took place in Paris was pretty magical too). The cast of characters were charming: storytellers who couldn't read, booksellers who couldn't sell, bakery assistants who couldn't see. It's a tale of love and destiny, art and literature. I only wish I hadn't exhausted Richardson's catalogue already.

For more reading and knitting take a peek at this week's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

sweet snoflinga, part 2

Another Snoflinga, this time with Sensation, an angora wool blend. It's such a beautiful grey/lavendar colour, though it may be a little too muted for Sadie's taste. If Sadie had her choice, I would have knit her the EXACT hat that Milo got, yarn and all. She hasn't really been wearing this one, so I may give in. She's not likely to want to match Milo for long, so I better take advantage of her unconditional, absolutely charming love for her little brother.

Just like before, I cast on 80 stitches instead of 90, but otherwise followed the pattern. It's simple, quick and the result is very satisfying.

I did forget a book last week! Unfortunately it's photographed with one I've already talked about, but Nancy Huston's The Mark of the Angel was quite riveting. The foreboding feeling that something was going to go terribly wrong lasted throughout every chapter. The characters were so well-developed, so real, that I was convinced Saffie was going to let her son slip through her fingers in some way or another. I felt relief every time young Emil lived through another day. Saffie's backstory is terrifying and the historical setting riveting. Although I was anxious for every page I really enjoyed the novel.

For more reading and knitting stories check out today's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

warm again

Nothing like a massive power outage to reaffirm your love of wool. And I'm not being flippant - I honestly fell in love with wool all over again when our house got down to 43 degrees F. There is just no substitute for the warmth you get from wool garments. But with as many cowls, hats, sweaters and scarves that we wrapped ourselves in, I realized I didn't have any wool slippers. For real. So clearly I had to remedy that as soon as the power returned.

I've had the Nola's Knitted Slippers pattern saved forever, and I really wish I''d tried it sooner. It's easy to modify and I'm super happy with my slippers. I've been wearing them every day - over socks at night, with bare feet in the morning...they're becoming a part of me. I used stash wool, so most of the slipper is Berroco Vintage Chunky but because I didn't have enough of it I used Debbie Bliss Luxury Donegal Tweed, doubled, for the soles. It actually makes the soles stiffer and gives the slippers a permanent shape (the third photo says it all!). I did modify the pattern a bit: I knit these in the round 'cause that's just my preference, and I chose stockinette for the tops instead of all garter. And because my feet are on the small size and this is a men's pattern, I used smaller needles and shortened the foot overall. If you're looking for a new pair of slippers, I highly recommend making a pair for yourself. Your feet will swoon in squishy comfort.

When the lights came back on and the UPS truck arrived, I received - and immediately read - Alice Hoffman's Survival Lessons. It's so wee that I read it in one night, and although it's pleasant and there were some inspirational moments for sure, I was actually hoping for more. More knock me over my feet insight, perhaps a longer meditation on the healing power of knitting? But it's the perfect book to pass around for a quick dose of reality and grounding. Not to mention it has a lovely cover.

For more knitting and reading, visit today's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

hedgehogs and such

It's hard to make things for Milo for Christmas. Sadie is easy, but he's entirely unpredictable (what, 4 year olds are unpredictable?). Luckily my plan of animal mittens totally worked out.

The pattern for Poky Hedgehog Mittens is adorable and pretty straightforward. I used leftover wool - Debbie Bliss Cashmerino for the cuff and face and then some Quince & Co. Lark for the body. Both are blue/grey so they worked well together. Milo has worn them everyday since Christmas and seems tickled to have faces on his hands. But really...who wouldn't be?

Now for my reading update. I feel like I'm forgetting a book, but for sure I just finished up A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. This novel was a great reminder of how much books inspire empathy in their readers - I swear I started losing my mind just as George, the main character, did. Or maybe that was the holidays and the 3 day power outage? Regardless, I found Haddon's description of George's breakdown captivating, and I genuinely worried for him throughout the story. I also cried when Katie, his daughter, realized how she felt about her fiancé. I really wasn't expecting to be so emotionally affected by the novel, but it was a pleasant surprise. And it made for a great holiday read.

For more reading and knitting updates visit the first Yarnalong of 2014 over at Small Things.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

out with the old

The last night of the year. Around here it was a year of ice storms, floods and multiple appliance replacements. The bittersweet end of daycare and the frightening start of a new job. 2013 was definitely eventful, but I'm pretty okay to see a new year begin.

Here's to more of all the good things. More making, more imagining and more celebrating.

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

mildy obsessed

Oh yes, another Dovetail. What can I say? It's an awesome pattern. This time I used Malabrigo Worsted Merino in the Tortuga colour way. I actually goofed up the pattern by repeating rows I shouldn't have, but since it's a mirrored design I just repeated the mistake on the other side. It's taller but still very wearable. This is destined as a gift if only I could put my wrapping skills to work.

I managed to finish up Tell it to the Trees but I'm definitely feeling unsettled by it. I wasn't expecting to dislike the characters so much, especially ones that are children. The writing, the setting, the building suspense - it was all good, it just ends in a way that you can't feel good about. Which is actually...good.

For more reading and knitting, visit today's Yarnalong.