Friday, November 27, 2015


Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving Day--U.S. style.  Actually, the celebration took place on Wednesday evening in a United Method Church, two doors down the street from the Lutheran Church we are attending. There's a synagogue between the two churches, and they were also invited to the service.  A long standing tradition unites these three houses of worship in a Thanksgiving service the evening before Thanksgiving Day.

It was a very good service, and there was good attendance.  The combined choirs sang "Sure in the Shining Night" music by Morten Lauridsen, words by James Agee.  We in the choir thought it was a strange choice for a Thanksgiving service, but the reason became clear when the pastor of the Methodist Church quoted the poem in her sermon.  Accompanying the choral singing were many very beautiful pictures of the cosmos.  I think they probably were from the Hubble Telescope.  The words and the music are beautiful, but, sad to say, we had only one rehearsal to learn the piece, and though we did a good job of it, that music deserves better than we were able to give it.  Check it out sometime on the net.  There are many versions of it sung by Lutheran Choirs.

The service was followed by a pie social, which was also very good.  My one disappointment, aside from not doing a "bang-up" job on the music, was that there wasn't more of a Jewish flavour to the service.  The president of the synagogue took part in leading the service, but they are of the "flavour" of Judaism that doesn't wear skull caps.  And I had thought we might hear a shofar as part of the service.

Last week I thought I'd show you a few of the activities from here in the village, so I snapped some photos in the three-times-a-week yoga class.  Because it's pretty dark in there (we follow a video on the large screen) they didn't turn out very well.  But here they are:

And also this past week I finished a pair of socks for Jim--the first socks I've ever knit for him.  From a comment he made while I was knitting them I realized that he thought they would be some riotous colour, and that's why he always said he didn't want any.

Well, you can see they are as plain as can be.  He put them on this morning for the first time and found out how cozy and comforting hand-knit wool socks are.  He's quite delighted and won't turn down an offer of new hand-knit socks again!

So, having finished that project, I got out the yarn for the next pair.  This is a Patons Kroy sock yarn in "Blue Rag" and is an evenly striped yarn.  I'd like the stripes to land in the same area of both socks, so I pulled a long piece of yarn from each of the two balls, until I could match up where the colour run began.

These were started on Wednesday and are coming along nicely, up to the beginning of the gusset.

Friday, November 20, 2015


We tried two new (to us) vegetables this week: edamame and purple cauliflower.  Tonight's dinner featured both of them, plus oven fried sweet potato and steamed salmon.
Delicious, healthy food!  The salmon filet is unrecognizable because of the onion slices covering it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


It seemed like such a good idea, knitting up the sock ribbing in plain stockinette and then creating a ribbing by unravelling every other two stitches and crocheting them up again as purl stitches.  In the small swatch, it worked like a charm.

But when you think of 30 stitches (half of the ribbing stitches--the other half remaining knit stitches), and then think of 59 rows of knitting, maybe it's not so nifty!

Each of the 30 stitches had to be unpicked vertically 59 times, being careful to retain the knit stitch at the bottom.  At first I put the bottom stitch on a double point needle.  Then I tried putting several on a cable needle.  Then came the stitch holder, holding 6 stitches at a time.

The trouble with all of that was that the sock needed to be turned inside out in order to expose the ravelled stitches for the crochet hook.

Marcia came to my rescue with this nifty little gadget:

I guess it's called a stitch holder.  I'd never seen one like this before, but it was perfect for keeping just one stitch at the bottom of the ladder from unknitting itself.

Then the sock was turned inside out and the crochet part began.  Here's the first ladder being crocheted back up:

To process all 30 stitches took HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS.  I don't think it's such a nifty trick after all!

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Today was a very musical Sunday.  First up was the 10:30 a.m. church service at Lord of Life Lutheran, which we are attending this season.  I'm singing in the Chancel Choir, which I enjoy very much.  We were taking part in that service, singing a very lively anthem "We Shall Rise."  It was a good service.

We came home, had just a bite to eat, because we'd had a big omelet for breakfast and weren't very hungry.  And then we went to an orchestra/choir concert at the Sun Dial.  I belong to the Sun Cities Chamber Orchestra, which is a misnomer as it includes, in addition to a full complement of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion.

Getting ready to play:  (You can make the pictures bigger by clicking on them.)

I play viola in this group and was sitting next to the cellos.  The fellow on the far right plays the bass viol, which is out of sight to the right.  This is only about 1/5th of the orchestra.

This next photo was taken during the concert.  The Dear One did duty with the camera, but is not familiar with it.  The first and second violin sections are off to the left of the orchestra, but not in view in the picture.

The choir is a women's choir, with whom we gave a concert last year in November.  They are excellent--beautiful tone and blending and good choice of music.  They sang mostly Christmas numbers.

After the concert my friend Mary came up to me with a bouquet of mums.  She lived in Italy for many years and says, that's what they do in Europe.  What a treat!

Mary lives in the same gated village that we do, and she and I are often in the pool together in the afternoon, having a visit and a "touch" of exercise.

What a lovely day!  Concert wise, that is.  The day dawned cloudy and ended with some fairly heavy showers.  We're snuggled at home now in warm clothes with the heat on.  I'm wearing sweats and recently complete warm wool socks.

Hope you had an inspiring Sunday also!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


This was one of those early, early wake up mornings, which I don't waste.  I was knitting away on the Dear One's sock, a little too enthusiastically.  When I stopped to measure it, the foot was 1/2" too long.  And, of course, there was no life line inserted anywhere.

So I used another option:

I inserted a needle into the right "leg" of each stitch, six rows below the current knit row.  I did this with all four needles.  Then I unravelled the extra length, and each stitch was already neatly picked up and ready to go.  It was a good solution.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


As I was knitting on the Dear One's sock this morning I had an idea.  Remember how long it took to knit the 7 1/2" ribbing on the last pair?  Nine days!  Because this pair will have a foot length of just under 12" the ribbing should reflect that by being around 12" tall, just for the sake of balance.  Twelve inches of k2 p2 is going to be a slog!

But an idea popped into my head.  You know how it's totally faster and easier to just go round and round in knit stitch, rather than knit two, purl two? You can do that kind of knitting with absolutely minimal attention and effort. What would happen if I knit the ribbing in stockinette stitch for the whole twelve inches, and then unraveled the ribbing, one stitch at a time, and crocheted it back up.  Would that create a good, stretchy ribbing?

I cast on 18 stitches and knit a small swatch, with two stitches in seed stitch at either end and 16 stitches in stockinette in the middle.  When I had about 20 some rows finished I started unravelling stitches one at a time and crocheting them back up, but now as purled stitches, not knitted stitches.

Knitting will ravel in just one direction: down, never sideways.  So I slipped one stitch off the needle and "unknit" it for 17 rows.  This shows the middle stitch of the swatch partially unravelled.

Then I turned the swatch over and crocheted the stitch back up, creating a knit stitch on the wrong side and a purled stitch on the right side.  You are looking at the wrong side (or backside) of the swatch with the stitch and the loose yarn of the stitch above it, both on the crochet hook. It's hard to distinguish the two separate strands of yarn here, but one hand held the camera and took the picture while the other hand held the knitting.

Here's the swatch with the ribbing completed.  IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!!

So on this new sock project I'm planning to knit the leg section in stockinette, and create the ribbing when the sock is completed.  I'll be sure to post a picture of the finished socks.  This is pretty exciting to me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


My friend Marcia, whom I see at the pool, is an avid knitter.  She likes to make scarves and hats and has several projects on the go.  At Saturday's Lions Swap Meet, she scored big: several colourful balls of yarn for an extremely low price (was it 25¢ a ball?) that she is already knitting up into a scarf.

There are a few of us knitters who see each other at the pool in the afternoon, and we often take along our projects to show what we are doing.  I finished the second sock of the fall coloured pair on Sunday while we relaxed at the pool.

These are not as long in the foot as the previous pair (shown above them), so the leg part can be longer.  Funny thing: the ribbed cuff has just as many stitches are the stockinette foot, but it's SO much skinnier!  That pair is going to be good and comfortable.

Marcia gave me a very good hint last week, something called a "life line."  

So when I started a new pair of socks (in plain beige) for the Dear One, I used her idea.  I wasn't sure whether the socks should have 60 stitches or 64 stitches.  So when I approached the round between 60 stitches and 61-64 stitches per round, I inserted a life line.

The idea is this: Thread some crochet cotton on a big eye, blunt tip needle--the kind of needle used to sew together knitted pieces.  I didn't have crochet cotton so I used some heavy rayon decorative thread.  Before I knitted a stitch, I threaded the rayon straight through the bottom of the stitch.  Then I knitted it without involving the rayon thread.  In the photo above you can just see that thread going through the stitches, underneath the needle.

If I needed to rip out stitches because it was too big, I would have an "insurance policy" that the life line would hold all the stitches in that row and I'd be able to pick them up again easily.

Well, the way it turned out, I had to rip out ALL the rows, not just back to that level, but through the beginning of the sock.  Why?  Because Jim's feet have a long, narrow pointed part at the toe end.  The sock I was making (with the regular method of increasing every other row from the toes to the full width) was way too wide, way too soon.  So I did it.  I ripped the knitting all the way back to zero and started over.

Just a few minutes ago I reached the point in the ball of yarn that I was at yesterday when I realized it all had to go.  Here's the new version of his first sock, and you can see that it's got a long, pointy "toe box."
I tried it on his foot (just over the toes and to the wider part of the foot) and it will do very well.  I've also decided that it should be a 60 stitch sock, not a 64 stitch sock.  I think socks should fit rather snugly, because knitting stretches sideways.

The previous pair, the green/orange ones (Patons Kroy Sock Yarn, Clover Colors), start to finish took just 24 days.  For me, that's really, really quick.  The second sock (always the hardest to finish) took just 9 days, divided up very unevenly: I knit the whole foot, toe to beginning of the ribbing in just two days.  Then it took me the other 7 days to get through 7 1/2" of boring ribbing.  I was glad to finish!  But then, it is a pretty long ribbing, isn't it?

Monday, November 9, 2015


Lack of posting here has been nagging at me for some time now.  And now I've received two emails from readers asking if we are o.k., or having some trouble.  So here goes:
Last Saturday the local Lions Club held their annual swap meet.

From 8 a.m. to noon the Lions Club and several individuals offered a wide assortment of second hand items for sale in the Community Center.  There were lots of bargains to be had.  I bought several.  Somehow everything I bought was very heavy, beginning with a terrific frying pan for only 50 cents.

I had my big pink bag along but soon had to come back to the condo to empty it.  I made three successful forays and found the frying pan, the hat, the Cuisinart with four different blades (for only $5!), two white tablecloths (destined to become a blouse and a pool cover-up), an electric can opener (the hand cranked one doesn't work well), a nifty Corning Ware casserole with a lid, and best of all--a table-top ironing board.  Living in a 908 sq. ft. condo means not having a lot of room for odds 'n ends.  Oh, yes, and that cute straw hat for pool afternoons ($5, seemed a little much, eh?).

What doesn't show here are the large Christmas tree stand and the large wicker basket with gold sprayed pine cones and a big red plaid bow on the handle.  They're in the storage closet until December arrives.

Jim had made a beautiful fruit salad that morning.  He does this every day.  I have the small cereal bowl full and he eats the rest over the course of the day.  He LOVES his fruit salad and considers it essential to his health.  I'm so thankful that he does the cutting  up for this!

Part of the reason I haven't been posting is that I've been busy renting out the one bedroom condo.  We were really fortunate not to have a vacancy between renters!  But it did make me pretty busy with making all the arrangements.

Saturday afternoon I had to go over there and clean the rug with the Bissell rug machine, and then clean up the patio and the patio furniture.  I figured I could do that in an hour, and then have time to go to the pool for a relaxing swim.

The outside shutoff for the water for that condo is on the opposite side of the building: three condos to the end of the building, around to the other side, and then three condos down to the shut off.  I walked out there and turned the water on.  When I got back to the condo I heard, I thought, a tap running. I went into the kitchen to turn it off and discovered a small flood coming from the laundry room into the kitchen.  I RAN!!! to turn off the water on the other side of the building.

Fortunately I had a pail and some large rags along, and mopped up what had run into the kitchen and what was left on the laundry room floor.  The laundry room is more like a large closet and contains a stacked apartment size washer/dryer, a hot water tank and some shelving to hold supplies.  Was it the hot water tank?  I checked.  Nope.  I moved the washer/dryer as far as I could--just far enough to squeeze behind it.  There was the problem, a hole in the cold water hose to the washer.

I resigned myself to an afternoon of "playing" plumber.

There was no pliers there, so I walked back home and picked up a pliers.  Went back to the condo and, with lots of effort, managed to remove the hose from the wall outlet and the washer.  That meant a trip to Home Depot for a replacement--fortunately just a few minutes drive away.

Washer hoses come in a package of two--one blue for cold water, one red for hot water.  If I'd been thinking straight I would have bought the braided (?) steel hoses, but just got the replacement rubber hoses.  They should last a while.

Back to the condo.  Wrestle off the hot water hose (squeezed between the washer/dryer and the wall) and attach the new hoses.  Wish I had one of those wrenches that plumbers use, but was stuck with my pliers, which didn't fit in the little indentation in the wall that housed the outlets.  Finally got both hoses on.

Went back and turned on the water again.  Came back in and found another flood, smaller, but maybe more frustrating.  Ran back and turned off the water again.  Came back and worked on getting the hoses screwed on tightly enough.  Tried again.  Had to do it all a third time.  AAAHHH, third time the charm.  No leaks.

This was taking a lot of time!  I considered going home and having a dish of ice cream (my comfort remedy) but thought I should persevere.  So I prepared the rug cleaning machine and had a go at it.  Did a pretty thorough job.  And then went out to the patio and got rid of a few months worth of blown in dirt.  Things were looking good now.  Still no leaks in the laundry room.  Emptied out the dirty water from the rug cleaner, gathered up my bucket, broom, rags and cleaners and dragged the whole caboodle back home.  It was just after 5 p.m.

Then I did sit down with a generous helping of ice cream.  By generous, I mean a slightly bigger cup than the usual 6 ounce serving.

Today I went back to move the furniture back in place and was pleased to see how clean the rug looks now--and still no leaks in the laundry room.

I felt like a fairly competent plumber--UNTIL tonight when I came home from my walk with my sister and the Dear One told me that the garbage disposal wasn't "disposing." I looked up on line what to do, did it all, and it still didn't drain.  There's one thing left to try there: unplug the disposal, remove it from its clamps, being sure to have a bucket underneath.  Empty it, examine why it's not clearing.  Hopefully be able to get the thing going again.

If not, it's time to call Able Dave!  (There really is such a fellow here, and he is able.)