Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A fond farewell to my knitting group

This fall I started a knitting group at the school. I had no idea how it would be received when I put the announcement in the student's bulletin, but was hugely surprised when eleven students and my co-worker showed up the first day for the planning meeting! The group was evenly split with half of the students never having even set eyes upon knitting needles and half with some experience.

We were to meet every second Monday at lunch, but one of my students, M, became quickly obsessed with knitting and came to see me every day for the first two weeks for help. She'd say, "I need help! I broke my knitting!" I would spend the next few minutes fixing whatever was "broken" and chatting with her and another member K, who always accompanied her. I think it was more about the chatting then the fixing the knitting somedays. M perservered throughout September and October making two blanket blocks (club requirement - they had to make at least one block for Blankets for Canada before they could go onto another project), three scarves and numerous bracelets for herself.

When I announced to the group two weeks ago that I was going to be leaving the school to take another job, they set to work planning a surprise party for me! With the help of my co-worker, they surprised me with cupcakes, brownies, chips, soft drinks and tiny sandwiches at lunch yesterday. M had even knit two bright streamers for the window of my office and wrote a poem for me!

It's amazing how something I started just because I love to knit turned into something that really touched the lives of these kids. I had a real cross section of students in the group, from the top marks to the kids that are in resource, from grade ten through twelve, yet they all connected and got to know each other.

I'm really going to miss my group of knitters! As I pack up my things and get ready to leave to start my new job at the university, I bid each of my knitters a very fond farewell and hope we'll meet again someday!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Knitting Tragedy

Well, it's happened. After learning a very hard lesson about the importance of doing gauge swatches, and spending forever knitting a couple of inches of my red sweater for the Red Sweater KAL, I decided that I hated the pattern, the drape, the look, the feel, well... pretty much all of it. So, ribbit, ribbit, ribbit back to the beginnings of what could have turned out to be the worse sweater in my possession.

Sigh. Now it's back to the drawing board. Here I sit with six lovely balls of Sirdar Country Style DK in a rich cranberry colour that I have no idea what to do with. (BF) G is begging for a sweater. Maybe I'll give into his pleading if I can find a good pattern for him. Otherwise I may say to heck with the whole bloomin' thing and just give it up (well for this weekend anyways).

I've been a little discouraged with the knitting this weekend. I haven't done anything with the curling edges of N's anarchy scarf. I can't believe I didn't think about it when I was blithely knitting along in stocking stitch the whole time. Aggghhhh. I know better! I have got maybe seven more rows done on my Irish Hiking Scarf and my little project I did for my coffee swap has had less than desired results to say the least. Baby R (nephew) was over tonight and his little socks are too little for his huge baby feet. Well, they fit, but just barely. Woe is me. Nothing is turning out the way it's supposed to right now. Well knitting wise anyways.

The rest of the weekend's been ok. Had a fun night with (BF) G, N and G last night. J was out partying as 16 year olds are wont to do. Then this morning, G had a fantastic competition. Oh I should mention G not only eats, breathes, and sleeps Shakespeare, she also lives for competitive highland dancing!

Please allow me to brag for a moment... she's done really well in the last year with dance (was third runner up for the province in the spring, then a runner up at Mid-Canada Championships in June then won the trophy at Interprov in Calgary for Restricted Highlands for her age group, and has just done generally well in competition overall.) Today she placed in all her dances, getting a 2nd, three 3rds and 2 4ths. I think it maybe a first for her placing in every single dance! She was ecstatic to be back up in the top three again! Way to go G! Practicing is really starting to pay off for her!

Tonight we had a big family dinner to celebrate G and J's birthdays last week. (BF) G outdid himself with the supper. Wow! We had a couple different kinds of stews that he had simmering all day! Yum, yum, yum!

Hopefully tomorrow is a better knitting day. Should have some time anyways. Is it wrong to take knitting to a Grey Cup party? Well. I guess I'd should wander off and put on my "Mom as a Taxi Driver" hat and go deliver J's girlfriend home.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Musings on Coffee...

Well as part of the Coffee Swap we've been asked to write about our favourite spots for getting coffee. Hmmm. I have so many to choose from, I don't think I can pinpoint an all-time favourite!

Right now I love Starbucks because you just can't get anything more fall-like than their Pumpkin Spice Latte! Yum! So smooth and sweet it conjurs up a sense of coziness with the first sip! There's just something about it that I can't get enough of!

Then there's Expresso Junction which is located in the Johnston Terminal of the historic Forks here in Winnipeg. The coffee is good - and it's a great place to get beans in bulk. They'll even roast them with different flavours on request. They just need a couple of days turn-around time because they do it off sight. Boyfriend G really appreciates the Coconut Cream they did up for him a few weeks ago! Beyond the coffee I love the ambiance of the Forks! The sights, sounds and smells are wonderful!

Next in line would have to be Just Desserts Cafe. Walk across the bridge from the Forks into the French Quarter and there you'll find a treasure of a cafe nestled in amongst the other buildings. They make the most unbelievable desserts (Mile High Apple Pie, 24-Carat Cake, Smoo Torte... sigh) and nothing compliments a sweet treat like a great cup of coffee!

Of course I'd be remiss as a Canadian citizen if I didn't mention Tim Horton's or Timmies as most of us refer to it. The phrase "double-double" became so well known because of Timmies that it's even been added to the dictionary. You can't beat a large English Toffee Cappuccino first thing in the morning on your way into work! And in the summmer... well there's just nothing that could be better than a cold, frosty Ice Cap. It's just one of those things!

Depending on how the weekend goes and if I can fit it in between the highland dance competition, N's robotics class, a family dinner and the Grey Cup, I might even add some pictures to go along with my musings.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Bard is causing trouble... again

G was over for her Wednesday night visit (it's her week at her Dad's this week) and she had a bee in her bonnet to say the very least.

As I alluded to in my title, her angst was caused yet again by her devotion to ol' William! Poor G. she's no longer allowed to answer any questions during English class. The story goes something like this (of course bear in mind this is from the perspective of 14 year old, misunderstood, G)...

They were discussing A Midsummer Night's Dream and the teacher made a comment about one of the character's entering during a particular scene. G, who remember eats, sleeps, breathes (well darn well lives) for Shakespeare, knew this to be false information and quickly pointed out to the teacher that she was WRONG and that the character actually entered during [enter correct act and scene here]. Of course G. sticking to her guns would not back down, until she proved to said teacher that she, G. was right and the teacher was wrong. (Not a good tactic in front of twenty some other classmates). The teacher who by this point was getting rather fed up with G's constant corrections regarding Shakespeare, then posed a question to the class which apparently no one knew the answer to but G. She quickly put up her hand and was told she was not allowed to answer any more questions because she was ruining it for everyone. Needless to say, G is more than slightly affronted by this whole matter and figures she's going to take her greivence to the principal tomorrow. After all, she feels that she is really by far the expert on the whole matter.

You know, I almost feel sorry for the teacher, but at the same time... I'm mentally cheering! This passion and understanding of Shakespeare comes from my little girl who struggled all through elementary and who couldn't read until the end of grade two and numerous times was considered for holding back an extra year. So, really it is a great thing for her, for the first time in her school life, she's the best out of anyone in her class with something. And although I truly celebrate her thirst for knowledge I've just asked her to try very hard to be more diplomatic in her dealings with the teacher. And maybe, just maybe by next week she'll be allowed to answer questions again!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Great knitting weekend!

For once (it's been so very long!) I had a quiet, relaxing weekend with nothing pressing to get done! I didn't have anything scheduled so I spent the weekend knitting! I felted my mitts, finished baby nephew's socks, finished the scarf for N (just have to do the embellishment now), and dyed my yarn for my Irish Hiking Scarf.

As for Kool-aid dyeing. Well, I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped. I bought two skeins of aran weight natural wool and followed the instructions that I had. Using the ratio of one package of kool-aid to one ounce of wool seemed to be ok. Where I went wrong was doing the two skeins at once. Next time (and I will try it again) I would do one skein at a time in the microwave probably rather than both on the stove in a big pot. Tonight I'm going to wind the wool into two balls and then I'll start my scarf interchanging the two balls as you would with a handpainted yarn.

(BF)G thinks I'm crazily obsessed with knitting. Somehow this seems to have come as a surprise (?!?!) to him. Oh silly man... were the four boxes of yarn and the regular trips to Camille's not a dead give away? He's pretty good to me though and doesn't complain. Just gets a bemused look and shakes his head as he glances at the twenty sets of needles on the end table. As a kindness to him, I no longer keep various balls of yarn lying about because Hollycat's obsession with carting wool around in her mouth and making the most annoying chirpy noise in the wee hours of the morning was driving him slowly mad.

So here's my revised list of projects (and this time in order - or at least I think!):

1) Block and finish embellisment for N's anarchy scarf
2) Cast on for Irish Hiking Scarf
3) Cast on for my red sweater for the Red Sweater KAL
4) Start either mitts or hats for the little ones for Christmas
5) Felted purse? Yorick for J? Socks?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I have a coffee swap partner!!!

This morning, much to my excitement I got my coffee swap partner's name and email! I've never taken part in a swap before so this is going to be so much fun!!!! I've been getting ideas for what to send since I first signed up and I'm really looking forward to putting her package together! Here's the answers to my coffee questions:


1. Whole bean or ground? Whole bean - I love grinding my own beans
2. Fully-loaded or decaf? Fully-loaded... or what's the point? Tee hee
3. Regular or flavored? Hmmm. I love flavours in my coffee whether it be the coffee itself or flavoured syrup in it.
4. How do you drink your coffee? Usually with some form of sweetness and skim milk
5. Favorite coffee ever? Mexican coffee had at a resort in Mazatlan
6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do? I'm not too fussy - pretty much any ol' bean will do.
7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee? Biscotti or cookies (I never turn down anything chocolate...)
8. Anything else about your coffee preferences? I like lighter roast coffees I don't care for coffee that bites back!
9. What treats do you enjoy with your coffee? See #7 also a muffin, cinnamon bun or a favourite treat at work, bannock (our school cafeteria makes wonderful bannock!) is always good!
10. Yarn/fiber you love? I love natural fibres best or acrylics with interesting colour or textures
11. Yarn/fiber you hate? Haven't really come across any that I hate yet although after knitting compulsively for the kids when they were younger using nothing but Patons Astra I don't really want to see an Astra label again!
12. What's on your needles? As of this morning, the second sock for my baby nephew, a scarf for my son and a blanket block for my student knitting group to donate to "Blankets for Canada"
13. Favorite colors? Blues, oranges, purples, pinks, chocolatey browns (Generally I like rich or vibrant colours - not much one for pastels anymore)
14. Allergies? I'm asthmatic, (thank goodness for Advair this month!) but it doesn't affect my knitting or coffee enjoyment in anyway! In fact coffee often helps with my asthma symptoms when they get really bad!
15. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest? I've tried writing something here, but everything comes out sounding melodramatic or silly, so we'll just leave it at nothing right now! :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Bard and teeny, tiny socks

Hollycat investigates...

Yesterday was (daughter) G's 14th birthday. The theme was Shakespeare. The girl is crazy about him! In fact, she informed me last night that she wrote a two page essay about how interesting his work is because according to G, her English teacher had made it sound like the bard was boring and she wanted to prove her wrong. In all fairness to the teacher, G sometimes makes mountains out of mole hills so what could have been an off the cuff remark was interpreted to be something else by G. Also, she is in an all French school with English taught as a second language, so perhaps the teacher really just doesn't care for it - who knows?! Anyways, long and short of it is she is very passionate about her Shakespeare. On Friday, she and I attended the Manitoba Theatre Centre's production of The Tempest, and then the rest of her birthday present included a three DVD set of Shakespeare movies (Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer night's dream, and Titus) and some chocolates wrapped in paper with pictures and quotes of the Bard! (What a great find!!!) After supper she and I sat down to watch Romeo and Juliet.

Needing a break from the very dull process of knitting a single colour stocking stitch scarf (basis of N's anarchy scarf), I decided that it was a great time to start baby nephew's socks. I'm fairly slow knitting on four needles, but managed throughout the length of the movie to get almost one sock finished! I'm really pleased so far! Now maybe everyone who knits socks already does this, but it's a first for me, I bought some elastic thread at (shudder) WalMart and have been knitting it along with the wool and it's making for a really nice bounce-back kind of stretch. Hopefully perfect for baby's chubby eight month old ankles!

The teeny tiny socks so far...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I have no will power!

So, despite my advice to myself that I should do the little ones' woolies for Christmas before starting anything else, I have joined not only the Red Sweater KAL, but the Irish Scarf KAL as well. AGGGGGHHHHH.

In other news, I can now check the mittens off my list! They still haven't been felted, but at least they're done. They are huge and hilarious, but I have all the confidence in the world that they'll end up just fine!

I also started N's anarchy scarf. I had done a couple of inches last night doing the "A" using intarsia, but quickly gave that up. It just looked silly. I frogged the whole thing back to the very beginning and today cast on again. This time with about 10 less stitches. (First attempt was enormous!) I am now thinking that the best idea is to just knit the darn scarf then use smaller needles and make an i-cord to be stitched on in the design. We'll see.

I am debating with myself regarding my pattern for the Red Sweater KAL as well. I had initially thought of doing a wide ribbed pattern pullover, but now I'm leaning towards Ivy. I guess it will have to depend on whether or not I have enough yarn in my stash. That will be tonight's endeavor! Digging through my stash to see what's what! As for the Irish Hiking Scarf. Well, I'm justifying that one with the thought that maybe I'll finish it in time for Christmas to give as a gift!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Too many projects and now a little anarchy!

It's Sunday morning, not even six o'clock. What the heck am I doing up???? I've dropped boyfriend G off at work and for the fifth time in a row, instead of curling back up in bed for a few more zzzz's, here I am wide awake!

Went to Ram Wools yesterday with my youngest son in search of ideas for some nice yarns to put in my coffee swap package. So many to choose from, it was so hard to decide! N, who hates wooly things based on the fact that they are "scratchy," just wandered about until he came across a sample of a scarf that was the softest wool ever! He then set to work trying to find the wool and finally gave up after touching probably every skein and ball in the shop. He had those ladies hopping trying to find a suitably soft substitute for him when they informed him they no longer carried that yarn. He finally settled on Paton's Chunky that's a wool/acrylic blend. I figured I was getting off pretty cheaply and therefore didn't complain! Turns out though he's got other ideas for his scarf then the sample he liked though. Trying to keep up with big brother J, who is punk, N has decided that yours truly can just whip him up a scarf with an anarchy sign on it, one on each end please! Well, I guess it's partly my fault for a) having "The Happy Hooker" sitting on the coffee table for the last few weeks (they have a anarchy hat) and b) dragging him with me to Ram Wools! What else was a bored 12 year old to do, but come up with something to make the excursion more interesting?!?!

Now I have so many projects to start and so little time to knit! I should be working (read starting) the work on my Philosophy course, but instead I'm obsessed with my knitting. Maybe if I write out a list of the projects I can "budget" my time between knitting, and course work and find some sort of balance. I only have the rest of November, December and January to get four essays done, but I can't seem to walk away from my knitting long enough to really make any headway.

So here's my list:
- Finish the mitts to match my felted bow hat by Pick Up Sticks (this should be first as I've got the hat done and one and a half mittens done. (Maybe I can be finished the mitten by tomorrow)
- Socks for baby nephew (baby loves his woolies and since his mommy and daddy take him out in the stroller and on the bus all time, I figure cozy wooly socks are just the thing for him!)
- Anarchy scarf for N (or he may resort to some sort of anarchy)
- Yorick (for punk son #1, J. the felted scarf from Knitty - what 16 year old wouldn't love skulls around his neck?)
- a sweater for either daughter G or myself (I bought some beautiful red wool last spring and if it's not too late I want to join the red sweater KAL)
- felted purse/bag ( pattern is from Paton's can't remember what it's called but it's lovely, big and roomy and who can have too many purses?)
- Woolies for all the really little ones to put with their Christmas presents (which means 2 great nieces, one nephew, and all of boyfriend G's little ones - one neice, three nephews)

Ack! So many projects, so little time. Perhaps the list needs re-arranging in priority! Really I guess the woolies for the little ones should be first since Christmas is only seven or eight weeks away! Oh, to be one of those knitters who can happily have umpteen projects on the go (and of course manage to finish them!). What is it with my compulsive nature that I have to have a project completely finished before I can let myself start a new one. I can tell you that boyfriend G would really appreciate it if I did my wool purchasing the same way as the actual knitting of the projects. For some reason I have no such compulsions when it comes to yarn and thus have the standard knitter's stash of enough yarn for a year's worth of projects at least!

Well, I should go put a pot of tea on and get to the mitten knittin' So much for sleeping now!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Starting out

Well, I thought I'd give this blogging thing a shot. Seems like everyone else is getting into it. Why not jump on the band wagon! This will be a learn as I go kind of venture, so you'll have to bear with me!