Sunday, July 31, 2016


Remember the old cartoon characters, Mutt and Jeff?  Well, I've go Mutt and Jeff yarn balls on the go here.

I'm on a big knitting binge and my sewing machine is gathering dust.  It all started with teaching the "Beginners' Knitting Class" at the local fabric store.  I made nine dishcloths to illustrate the lessons to be learned.  But I was WAY too ambitious for those poor students!  I'd only ever taught one person at a time how to knit.  We were going to limit the class to 4 students, but 8 hopefuls signed up, so we took them all.  That was a mistake. Next time we'll do things differently.

Since the last class I've continued knitting.  I'm no sooner into one project when another project idea pops up and I can't wait to finish what I'm doing and start the next thing.

Lately it's mittens.  There was one scarf thrown in too.  This pair is made from two yarns knit together as one.  It makes a heavy, thick mitten.  I started the finished mitten in the photo yesterday and finished it this morning.  

The big black yarn ball is acrylic, bought some years ago at a Walmart, anticipating a sweater for the Dear One.  That never happened and it became part of my stash.  The small ball is a Patons Kroy Sock yarn bought just last Thursday.  I thought the two would combine well into a "masculine" mitten.  

It has turned out well, but this kind of knitting, two yarns on 5mm double point needles, is hard on the hands.  It's a heavy knit of knitting and I needed a break.  Later today I'll go back to this and see how far I can get.

But the plan for the next pair of mittens has already formed in my mind.  Maybe I'll even get to it this week. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016


A little protection goes a long way....and actually, this is protection to the max!  After a deer ate the blooms from our potted rose we moved it to our second floor balcony, where it lives a happy, protected life and rewards our care with oodles of blooms!

There has been some knitting lately.  Nine dishcloths for the Beginners Learn to Knit Class.  And now a nice pair of mittens for a friend.  Here's the "thumb" side:

 And here's the top of the hand side.  Spot the mistake?
This will be easy to fix.  I'll simply run a short length of white yarn through a few stitches on the inside of the mitt, do a duplicate stitch where one white one is missing, and run the yarn through a few more stitches to fasten it.

I knit these mitts two handed on every third row, knitting two stitches with the blue yarn on my right hand and then one stitch with the white yarn on my left hand.  They will be very warm because the blue yarn is a two-ply Briggs and Little 100% wool. (Briggs & Little, 3500 Route 635, Harvey, York County, New Brunswick, E6K 1J8, (506) 366-5438.)

We were in a display centre in St. Anthony, Newfoundland.  It told the story of a well-loved doctor in the history of Newfoundland.  In the gift gallery there were many wonderful needlepoint pictures of all sizes.  We bought a small one for our coffee table as a remembrance of our time in Newfoundland.  There were also several bins of Briggs and Little yarn.  YUM!!!  I bought four skeins of 4.5 ounces each, for just $4.99 per skein.  Two this blue and two a lighter blue.  I didn't know what I'd use them for, so I was quite restrained in my buying.  Later I thought, At that price, I should have bought a suitcase full!

This mitten pattern did not have a gusset for the thumb.  Instead when you got to where the thumb should start the pattern directed you to knit 10 stitches with waste yarn, then slip those 10 stitches back on the left hand needle and reknit them with the working yarn.  I thought that was an easy way to save the stitches for the thumb.

But when I worked the thumbs I had problems with holes on either side of the thumb.  The stitches below and above the waste yarn were fine, but to either side there were loose stitches.  I'll have to try doing this on a sample piece and figure out a way to avoid those holes.  Unless someone reading this has a solution?  I'd love to hear how you handle that!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Hollis went home yesterday around noon.  I'm relieved that I don't have her on my schedule anymore, but oddly enough, we both miss her.  We automatically check out the back door to see how she's doing.

Hollis went home yesterday, but not before she had "taught" me her favourite game: the Big Stick Throw and Retrieval.  She is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever after all.

She found a great fat stick, just the right length, dropped it at my feet and looked up as if to say, "Do ya get it?"  Well, I did get it.  I gave the stick a good toss over the parking lot and she joyfully dashed after it.  

She was quite clever about handling it.  If by chance she picked it up too far to one end, she juggled it with her mouth until it was better  balanced.  She ran back to me, dropped the stick and invited me to throw it again....and again....and again....and again.  I began to wonder how long she would keep this up.  I gave up before she did.

We completed out circuit of the property and she was glad to get back to her water bowl and her food dish.  Hey!  Tiring her out like that -- to the heavily panting stage -- made it very easy to clip her back on her leash.

Every time I came near the back door, for whatever reason, she grabbed up the stick and presented it to me.  

Jim and I went for a little walkabout checking what's blooming in the landscape.  Hollis was left behind.  She sounded like a baby crying disconsolately.  But she had to accept that.  And she finally did.

I  hope Hollis is very happy to be back in her own yard which is fenced.  Living there she is free to run around the yard all the time, no leash needed.  But I think she might miss the garden shed with the intriguing smells, the woods to explore, the duck-weed covered pond to splash around in and the open areas to chase a flying stick.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Well, the kids and grandkids have visited and have left again, as of Thursday morning.  I've been catching up since then.

Dear Son #2, wife and two teenage girls have a bit of a menagerie at home: two cats, a bunny, a lizard and nine fish.  So they had to make an arrangement for their care while visiting us.  During their visit they received an email that a woodpecker had come down their chimney and was trapped behind the glass door of the fireplace.  That was driving the cats bonkers!  They said, "Just leave it.  We'll be home tomorrow and take care of it."

But their friends had pity on the poor bird and decided to free it.  With a small blanket in hand to catch the bird, they opened the fireplace door.  The bird flew out before they could catch it!  Fortunately, they had left the front door open, and the bird headed for the open air and light.  Unfortunately, just as the bird was flying out the door their young son came running in, frightening the bird right back into the house.  It was finally caught under the blanket as it tried to hide behind the door and they released into the front yard.

This was caught on video, and I'd love to have a link to show you, but I don't think DS has  posted it yet.

In the meantime, we have been dog-sitting a large Chesapeake Water Retriever, quite young I think, judging by how rambunctious and energetic she is.  She came here on Saturday the 16th the day that we had two of our kids, one DIL and three grands visiting.
It was supposed to be for five days, but she's still here!

On Monday, during her "gallop" around our acreage she smelled something VERY INTERESTING underneath the garden shed.  It's up on three big beams, so just a bit off the ground.  She ran around the shed sniffing and trying to get underneath.  While she was on the south side snorting around an orange cat SHOT out from the north side and made a clean getaway out back over the railroad.  Hollis thought the cat was still there.

Each day after that as soon as we started our walk she bolted for the garden shed and snuffled all around.  On Thursday morning's run (the kids had just left early that morning) Hollis disappeared under the shed.  She had managed to dig out enough on the back side to wriggle under it.  I realized this when she didn't reappear from behind the shed.  I could hear hear whimpering under the shed.

I got a flashlight and had a look.  Hollis was upside down about the middle of the shed, trying to chew her way through the floor.  What to do????

I got a crowbar and claw hammer and began trying to pull up one of the sheets of plywood that make up the floor of the shed.  Jim saw that I was involved in something strange and came out to help.  I guess it took us at least 15 minutes to get that plywood pried up.  I had built the shed back in 2000, and done a very good job!  When it was pried up enough to make a small opening, we coaxed her through it.

Now, you would think that she was scared enough that she wouldn't go near the shed again, but you would be WRONG!!!  She had lost the privilege of running off-leash, but she hadn't lost her interest in whatever might be underneath the shed.  Thank goodness she was on leash!

For a few days I walked (ran) her on the road past our place, a paved country road.  She behaved very well, obediently sitting at the roadside when told to whenever a vehicle was approaching.  But it was a pretty quick 1 1/2 mile hike for me.  She's very strong and pulls really hard on the leash.  If she were any bit stronger or if I were any bit weaker, she would win the contest.  She doesn't know, "Heel!"

By yesterday morning she no longer ran around to the back of the shed, but sniffed briefly around the front and then went on with our routine path around the property.  I keep her on leash until we are away from the shed and onto the gravel drive.  She knows if she will sit still when we get to the driveway I'll unleash her and she can charge around.

She's pretty good about sticking somewhat in the same area that I am.  Yesterday I paused long enough near the dugout for her to take a little swim around.  But she had her mouth open and swallowed a gulp of pond water that didn't go down right.  For the next 10 minutes she was horking up pond water and weeds.  Today she took a very small and not very enthusiastic swim.

She's a good dog but a little too rough for me at this point.  She jumps on me with joy and enthusiasm when I come to feed or exercise her.  She "tooths" me on my hands and arms, never hard enough to break the skin, but still uncomfortable, which I think is just her way of saying, LET'S PLAY!!!  LET'S RUN!!!

It's time for her owner to return and take her home again!

Saturday, July 16, 2016


We have company this week: DD#2 and DS#2, plus a DIL and three of the "grands" are here.  We're spending lots of time visiting and telling stories.  And, of course, eating and snacking.  Lots of fun!

DS was demonstrating a feature on his Apple phone, a program called "Siri."  He asked it, verbally, "Siri, I would like to order pizza nearby.  I would like to make it two pizzas."  Siri replied, correctly, that he could order from a Pizza Hut nearby.  Then DD demonstrated her phone.  DS had a woman's voice on his phone, DD had a man's voice with an Australian accent.

She asked Siri, "What are the library hours today."  Siri replied, "The library is closed today."  DD said, "You're wrong, Siri, I was just there."  Siri was silent for a little bit and then said, "There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip!"  We all had a huge laugh about this!

Monday, July 11, 2016


Today we had the first of three "Beginner's Knitting Classes."  Eight women, well seven woman and one eight-year-old girl, had signed up.  We sat in a circle and attempted to learn how to cast on, knit, purl and cast off.  I was amazed at how hard it is for a beginner to manage knitting needles and yarn.  It was an intense two to two and a half hours for them.  They ALL managed to do it.  I sent them home with their new knowledge, needles and cotton yarn, along with a simple pattern for a cotton knit dish cloth.

Next week Monday we meet again.  It will be very, very interesting to see what they have accomplished.  At this point it's very hard for them to believe that knitting will be a relaxing hobby.

But I didn't have time to take any pictures!

Friday, July 8, 2016


 These socks are for my friend Marcy, who lives in Arizona year-round.  She shyly asked me in January, "How would I get Louise to knit a pair of socks for me?"  I said, "Ask her!"  Then buy the yarn, and I bet she'd do it.  The first sock was finished before the end of January, as I was wanting her to try it on and see if it was a good fit. It was a little tight in the leg. 

Then it was time to come back to Alberta, and the sock came along.  I ravelled it back to the ankle and reknit it twice before I was satisfied with it.

Then some other projects came in between--notably two pair of socks for Jim, and lately I picked up Marcy's socks again.  The second sock was knit up fairly fast, and now they are ready to be illustrations in the sock class I will teach in August, and they will go back to Arizona with us when we go back.

They are really pretty, I think, and I'm very happy with how I got the stripes in the yarn to match.  The method: before you begin to knit the first sock, pull the leading edge of yarn out from both balls of yarn and cut them off where they match.  

I must love to knit socks, because the next pair is already about 3" long.  These are a pair of fairly plain socks, pattern: BroadRipple named after a leisure center in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I was at the pool at BroadRipple with some cousins when I was a little kid, so of course, this pattern appealed to me.  It's a very simple, two row pattern, and turns out looking quite pleasing, and really appropriate for a man's pair of socks.  I'll post a photo when the first sock is finished.

And then I know just what socks I want to knit after these are finished.  A two colour pattern, found in Fancy Feet by Anna Zilboorg.  I bought the yarn some years ago, intending to use it for "Double Helix" by Jeny Staiman, but the pattern didn't work out for me.  I unravelled it and put the yarn in a cupboard.  Now I have a doable (I think) pattern to use the two bright blue yarns.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


We have such interesting cloud forms these days.  So fascinating to watch as they are constantly changing, rising and billowing above us.

Beautiful to see, but when they begin to turn a deep, dark grey on the undersides, you know something nasty is on the way again.

Monday, July 4, 2016


Our area has been caught in a cycle of severe thunderstorms on a daily basis for several days.  The day dawns lovely.  By noon the clouds are starting to pile up and storms are spawning off the foothills of the Rockies.  By the time they cross Highway 2 they are wellformed and menacing.  Usually they reach us around 5 p.m. in a series of storms, two or three following each other at about 45 minute intervals.  They carry very heavy rains, lots of lightning and thunder, and hail.

Up to this afternoon we were spared great amounts of hail, but today was our turn.  The storm arrived around 2:15 p.m. Here are some pictures taken when the rain stopped.  This first one shows the sales building roof covered with hail.  Those shingles are a dark brown, underneath the white.

The balcony floor was quite solidly white:

The walkway to the deck and garden was white:

The lettuce and spinach looked pretty pitiful.

Those really droopy greens are a row of broad beans (fava beans).

The deck is not exactly ready for a picnic:

Jim just came in from a little tour around and says there is not all that much damage.  In a week or so the landscape and garden will have recovered, provided we don't get another hailstorm.

We started out the summer in a drought condition.  Then the deer came by the dozen (literally).  Then we had rain--buckets and buckets.  And today hail.  I begin to wonder if we will harvest ANYTHING from our garden this year.  The entire crop so far: one lettuce salad.

This is a photo of the government weather radar site.  Where we live is about in the center, just above the smallest circle.  To the right are the storms that passed through earlier.  To the left is the next line of storms coming at us.  They don't look as bad as the earlier batch.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


The rosebush has a new home:

After that deer demolished the blooms and buds we moved the rosebush to the balcony, outside the dining room window.  The balcony has no access from the ground, so it's safe here.  And, look at that! there is one lonely bloom that that glutton missed!  We hope the bush will recover from that disaster and bloom again later this summer.