Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Amazing Autumn Coffee Swap - Assignment #2

This week's topic was up on the swap blog, so I thought I'd take a minute to type out a few thoughts.

With Halloween coming up this Friday, tell us what you think of when you think Halloween! Do you love it? Hate it? See it as a sign of Fall? Are you a total sucker for candy and little kids in cute costumes?

For me, living on the prairies Halloween is usually the sign of the end of fall and the beginning of winter. If it hasn't snowed here yet, it's likely to do so within the first few days following. (This year the temperature looks to be promising for all the little (and not so little ... ahem... Yes I'm talking about you G and N!!!) trick or treaters. I think I heard they're calling for a balmy +6 C!

I actually really enjoy Halloween. I love to see the kids coming to the door in their costumes. And even used to make a costume for myself to take my kids around in when they were little. The only thing that bugs me is when teenagers come to the door and haven't even bothered to put any effort into dressing up at all. I'll still give them candy, but wish they'd get really into the spirit of the fun!

Oh and what sucker I am for those Halloween treats! Mmmm. Candies.

This year I'm not sure how many kids will be coming to the door, first of all because I live in the country and second of all I'm in a very religious part of the province and I'm not sure that many of the local people celebrate the holiday. I am prepared; however, so come on over kids! And if the kids don't show up... well I bought stuff that we all like to eat, so it's not like it'll go to waste, but more likely, well, my waist if you know what I mean!

This topic reminds me, a few of us at the office decided we should mark the day in some fun way, especially given that it falls on a Friday this year, so we're going to bring in treats for everyone. (We've been very hush, hush about it so it should prove to be a good surprise for the rest!) I offered to make sugar cookies. Should be fun! Like the parties we used to have in the classroom in elementary school!

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amazing Autumn Coffee Swap Weekly Topic #1

For the coffee swap I'm taking part in, our hostess has asked us to blog about a weekly topic which she will provide us with. Our first topic is up and here goes:

What makes a "Fall day" for you? How do you know it's here, and what do you love about the weather, the scenery, or something else that makes Autumn lovely?

Here on the prairies there are a few distinct changes that herald the beginning of fall for us. Even though the daytime temperatures may be still really warm, the evenings start to cool off more quickly. There is a certain "nip" in the air. Mornings are crisp too. The leaves, of course, start to change their colours and the geese start their annual migration south. You can hear them honking as they pass overhead in great flocks. Now that I live in rural Manitoba, another sure sign it's fall is apparent. Harvest season. Combines work the fields from early in the morning until late into the evenings. Once the fields are harvested, a less pleasant task takes place. This week I've had the great displeasure of having to drive past many fields where they are spreading manure to fertilize. Phew! What an awful smell!

The things I love most about fall are those crisp days, the amazing colours and the crunch of the leaves under foot. This year, being out in the country has made fall even more special for me (well except for the manure spreaders... I can't find a single good thing about that personally! Well I guess other than it is a good use of the stuff, and organic and all, but the smell... you just can't imagine the smell. Urgh). My new yard has trees completely surrounding it and the colours are absolutely stunning. I've been on a mission to capture them with the camera, but try as I might, I've not been able to get it just right yet. There's always something just a little off with my lighting.

Guinness enjoying a bright sunny morning early in the fall

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting things done!

Two weekends ago was our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. I love long weekends for getting lots done! I managed to finish the knitting and most of the finishing on the Cambridge Jacket for (BF)G - it fits really well and he's quite happy with it, thereby making me quite happy with it! Finished the knitting and most of the sewing on the baby sweater for my neice and made a pair of mittens for myself to match my cabled hat from last year - the mittens I'd made last year were ridiculous and only fit for frogging. This year's are much better! I was also able to finish the second clue on the mystery sock for Soctoberfest. Because I was so productive I allowed myself to cast on another project. Mr. Greenjeans from knitty has long been a coveted project for me.

During the week that followed I managed to buy a zipper for the Cambridge Jacket, complete clue 3 on the mystery sock - I LOVE the "eye of partridge" heel flap (it looks so much nicer than my usual standby heel flap, which is only slightly different then the eye of partridge one, but looks nowhere near as nice!) - and I continued to work madly away on my Mr. Greenjeans.

This weekend, Saturday was almost a complete write off in terms of accomplishments. G had a competition and of course since I somehow got on the committee for doing registration again this year (note to self - in future, do NOT miss important meetings where committee positions are being handed out!!) I ended up there for the whole day. Sunday, I decided that the housework had been neglected for far too many days and it was imperative that I get something done. The state of my kitchen was beginning to remind me of a story from when I was a small child. The story was of a man who wouldn't wash his dishes and ended up using flower pots and ashtrays, and so on and so forth. So I resisted temptation, did not pick up my knitting and instead spent a couple hours doing a good thorough cleaning of the house from top to bottom.

As a reward for my good behavior; however, I spent the next couple of hours curled up in the armchair knitting. Greenjeans is coming along quite nicely and so far I'm really enjoying it.

So for the pictorial summary of my knitting over the last week here goes:

Cambridge Jacket - done even the zipper is now in!
Baby sweater for Oona - done except I now hate the buttons I'd originally chosen from the myriad of choices in my button box (have I ever mentioned how I had a slight problem... urm... perhaps addiction is the better term... with buying buttons a few years ago?) so I have to dig some new ones out to completely finish it.
Mystery sock - clues 2 and 3 all finished!
Mittens - oh purple mittens how I love you! Especially since the morning after I made them I had a good hard frost to scrape from my car windows! Greenjeans - I'm loving you too! (weirdly enough I took this picture on my white counter top last night and the yarn is actually a heathered purple. Oddness in photographic colours indeed!
And since I'm a proud momma - this next picture is just to show you my girl looking pretty in her kilt at the competition on Saturday!
All in all a pretty productive week I think!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Amazing Autumn Coffee Swap

Once again I'm participating in a yarn/coffee swap! Here's my questionaire for it:

About Your Yarn Passion
1. Do you knit, crochet, or do both? When did you first learn? Knit – I learned the summer between grade two and three. (which makes it about 29 years or so!)

2. Do you like using a particular type of needle or hook? (wood, metal, straight, circular) Is there something you've been wanting to try, or a particular size you always seem to be short on? I love wooden needles and right now am somewhat obsessed with my Knitpicks harmony 2.5 mm fixed circular. I just wish my silly kitten hadn’t thought it good for chewing on! (it’s a little rough in spots now. Grrr)

3. What kind of projects do you enjoy making? Any types you just haven't ever gotten into as much as others? I love just about anything.

4. What's on your needles\hook right now? What's your oldest UFO (unfinished object)? On the needles right now? Clementine Shawlette, Mystery Socks for a Soctoberfest KAL, Mr. GreenJeans, a baby sweater, and I’m just finishing up the Cambridge Jacket. My oldest is the Clementine Shawlette – I started it two summers ago, frogged it and re-started it this past summer.

5. If you were going on vacation tomorrow, what project(s) would travel with you? Socks, socks and more socks. (Small, easily transported and most airport security have no problem with wooden/bamboo needles, which I always use for socks)

6. What are your favorite types of yarns? Any you're allergic too, or just hate working with? Anything in particular you've been dying to try? I’m easy. I love most yarns equally – just not fun fur. I went on a fun fur jag a few years back and still have way to much of it in my stash!

7. What sort of colors do you love in yarns? Brights? Pastels? More muted colors? Variegated? Are there any you can't stand? I love rich colours, or earthy colours. I’m not much one for pastels or neons!

Your Coffee Passion
1. Do you prefer caffeinated or not? Caffeine. Definitely need the caffeine!

2. Whole bean or ground? For what type of pot or press? Whole bean – just a regular old drip coffee maker

3. What types of roasts do you enjoy? Are you more the light and lively or dark and robust type? A lighter roast is preferred

4. How do you 'take' your coffee? Creamers? Sweetener? Other add ins? Milk and my last coffeeswap partner sent me a set of flavour shakers for my coffee, there are about six variations of chocolate and caramel and I am completely addicted to them all.

5. That first morning cup - is it about the taste, or the caffeine? Both!

6. Do you enjoy going out to coffee shops like Starbucks? What are some of your favorites? I am shameful with the Starbucks! We have one right here in the library I work at so in the fall I’m a sucker for their Pumpkin Spice Latte. Mmmmm.

7. You've just made the perfect cup of coffee - is it in a thick mug, or a thinner cup? Where would you sit to drink it? A big thick mug. I’d sit on my back deck and enjoy the fall colours and the crisp morning air.

8. You're enjoying that perfect cup, and have a magic cabinet in your kitchen - when you open it, magically, your favorite treats will appear to enjoy alongside the coffee - what are they? Are they sweet? Crunchy? Soft and flaky? Sweet treats… I’ve never met one I didn’t like!

All about YOU!
1. Do you have other hobbies like spinning or scrapbooking? I sew and I do some scrapbooking when I have the time

2. Do you collect anything? Thimbles and snowmen.

3. What is your favorite part of Autumn? The colours of the leaves and the crispness of the air

4. What sort of scents do you enjoy? Any difference in what you like for your house versus what you like for your body? I like spicy sents for the home and very light floral sents for my body.

5. Are you allergic to anything? Nothing that would be applicable here

6. Are you on Ravelry? What's your ID? I’m Highlanddancemom on Ravelry

7. How would you spend an ideal fall afternoon/day? At home, out in the yard enjoying the last of the sunshine, or walking the dogs through the fields. If the weather’s gloomy, then I’d curl up on the couch or in the armchair in the living room and knit to my heart’s content!

So there you have it!

I'll be posting some knitting updates early next week (or on the weekend if I can ever get my internet at home back up and running...)

Monday, October 06, 2008

How is it October already?

I really don't know where the days are going. Honestly, my life is flying by without so much as a "by your leave". We've had some lovely warm weather during the days but the evenings certainly have a brisk fall chill to them. Last Friday morning I actually had to unpack the window scraper before leaving for work! The colours are spectacular, with the leaves turning reds and golds. Although, we had a few really windy days and now the leaves from the oaks are now mostly all over my yard. It is beautiful though. I really do love fall here on the prairies.

In the time that's past since my last posting I've been busily getting to know the latest additions to our furry part of the family. Last Monday, I went to get a couple of "barn kittens". As I left (BF)G instructed me, "We're looking at two cats honey. NO more than two cats. OK?" I agreed and the kids and I happily piled into the van and headed off to a couple towns away to meet our new kitties. Somehow (BF)G's instructions were forgotten when the lady told me she had to get rid of the "baby" kitten as well. Problem was that the day before hand she'd had a bunch of little kids over and had let the kids play with the litter of tiny kittens. The momma of the young litter had decided that she wanted nothing to do with the kittens after that and dragged them off into the bush. Unfortunately the litter had all died out there, except for the wee one they'd found the next day crying. I couldn't leave it behind. I needed to at least try to give it a chance. So we took our two bigger kittens (I figure them to be about six or seven weeks old) and the baby (maybe three weeks old?) home. I tried so hard to save baby Dusty. Trying to feed him with a bottle, sleeping with him tucked into a blanket ontop of me so he'd stay warm. Spending every possible moment trying to get him stronger. Sadly, though, Dusty Kitty didn't make it. We dug a little grave for him in the back in between a couple of trees at the back of the field and said our goodbyes. It's amazing how a little creature no bigger than the palm of my hand that we only had for three days could become so firmly attached to our heartstrings.

Our other two kittens, Houdini and Dora are doing well though. They're getting used to us and the other animals. Lucky, one of our 1 1/2 year old golden's thinks he's their mama. He is very intent on taking care of them. Grooming them, making sure they're doing what he thinks they're supposed to. It's very sweet.

Lucky being "Puppy Momma" to Houdini (Stripey cat) and Dora (White Fluff Ball)

So amongst all the kitten business, I've not had a lot of time for knitting lately. But, I did manage to finish the sleeves of the Cambridge Jacket. Just need to sew the sleeve and body seams, then pick up and knit the collar. (BF)G might get his sweater before the snow flies! I've also been working on my niece's sweater and am almost done with it too.

I dyed some KnitPicks bare sock yarn the other night with koolaid and cast on Clue #1 last night for the Mystery Sock KAL on Ravelry for Soctoberfest. I figure it's always good to have a pair of socks on the go, so why not? I'm going to do the cabled version I think (unless it proves to be too hard right off the hop, then I'll do the basic version, which by the looks of the pictures already up on Ravelry, looks lovely too!). This will also be my first pair of socks knit using the "Magic Loop" method instead of DPNS. All went well with the cuff other than Dora Kitty started chewing on my needle and made it a bit rough in one spot. It was only slightly annoying, otherwise the process has been easy to catch on to. I wish I was brave enough to try two at a time, but I figure, best start with one new challenge at a time!

So - this week's (knitting) priorities will be finishing the Cambridge Jacket for (BF)G, finishing the sweater for baby girl and completing Clue #2 for my sock KAL. I'm eager to do all this because I'm desperately wanting to start knitting Mr. Greenjeans from knitty. That or the February Lady sweater. Still haven't made a final decision on that one. Although Melanie at my SnB group had a good point Greenjeans is a much more fitted look, while FLS is somewhat boxier. I think I should probably opt for the fitted look... but then again... Oh I don't know. Maybe I'll do the guage swatch for each and see which I like better. Really I shouldn't be even thinking about either sweater. I should be doing Christmas knitting and some Hats for Alex instead.