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Posts Tagged ‘knitting’

Scawl

Is it a scarf? Is it a shawl? Who knows!

If you’re on ravelry, it’s this pattern here. I started this one on our way to Winnipeg over christmas, and then mostly finished it over a couple of drives to Montreal and back around New Year’s. Yes. As in 4 months ago. Then it sat forlornly, waiting for me to finish it. You see, the problem was that once I tried to stretch it to block it out into a much larger shape, so the lace pattern could be seen, I ran into a problem – it wouldn’t. The semi-circle side of it was just too taut. My solution was to snip the thread that was going through all the loopey bits (which would give the semi-circle its shape), join it up with the remaining tiny ball of thread, and painstakingly weave it through to increase the length. I’m fairly happy with how it turned out, although one day I’d like to figure out what I did wrong at the cast-on stage.

Still, I’m happy with it. It’s my first attempt at knitting a lace pattern, it used up a lovely yarn from the christmas gift exchange, and I got to actually block something for once. Like. 🙂

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Knitting

Remember how I’ve said before that sometimes the kitties fight over who gets to lie on my lap? Well, they’re at it again!

I can’t remember who was there first this time, although usually it’s Shakey trying to wedge himself in when BB is already on my lap.

They’re both pretty good craft companions. If they’re in a playful mood, they will swat at the yarn periodically, but usually quiet down if I turn around the yarn/them in such a way that they can’t see the yarn. With respect to crafts, BB is also hilarious because she’s terrified of absolutely everything – and yet when I’m sewing, she’ll inevitably come and curl up on my lap, despite a big loud machine clattering away less than 2 feet from her head.

What was I working on, you may wonder? A scarf for Dan’s niece! In all the madness before Christmas, I forgot to take a picture – but this was the inspiration. Now, I’m working on another scarf – for myself this time, and using the awesome new circulars from the Addi Click set I got for my birthday.

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Yarn!

Today I was reminded of something that every cat-owning knitter should know.

You can’t leave balls of yarn lying around. The kitties may consider them an early Christmas present.

Luckily, this was the extent of the damage – unlike when I was maybe 9 or 10, and I woke up one morning to find my room (which included a table and a few chairs) strung up in a web made from a few hundred meters of yarn. Over and under and around… in places, you had to watch where you were stepping in order not to get tripped up by the web. That cat must have had fun playing with the ball of yarn, because it took forever to unravel that web (no way was I cutting all that yarn!)

Here is one of the guilty parties guarding the other ball of yarn they had gotten their paws on.

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Crafty (and other) adventures

Another somewhat relaxing weekend. No big projects tackled, because yoga is still taking up a lot of my time. Luckily (but also sadly, on the other hand, because I have gotten used to it), my pass expires on Tuesday, so hopefully I’ll have more time after that.

I did get up to a few things in the kitchen, though. First, I finally got around to making my own breadcrumbs! We don’t eat a lot of bread in the winter, so anytime we buy bread and only eat half of it before it goes bad, I feel guilty. Well, finally a few days ago I had the time to dry the stale bread in the oven to turn it into crouton-like chunks of dried bread, and today I stuck it in the food processor. Fresh, crumbly breadcrumbs emerge! I think this calls for pork chops to test out the breadcrumbs.

I’m also trying my hand at making my own sauerkraut. I’m pretty excited, and hope it turns out!

In another half-hour, when the cabbage starts releasing its juices with the help of all the salt it’s stewing in, I”ll cram it into a jar and let it sit in a warm spot for a few days so the fermentation process can work its magic.

Finally, on the project front – my long-forgotten cardigan project is flying along! The main holdup was from the fact that I had made one half of the front, and forgotten to write down how I did my decreases (let’s just say the pattern I’m using is more of a list of suggestions than a pattern… not very well organized at all!). When I went to make the second half of the front, of course I got stuck, worrying that it will look funny if it’s uneven. It took me a good couple of months to force myself to sit down, and just work through the decreases so it looked somewhat like the first half. I think it worked out ok… but don’t judge! 😉 I’m not halfway through the back – after that, just two short sleeves and a nice puffy neck, and I’ll be done! Woot!

It’s definitely helped that we now have a pattern where Dan will put on one of the shows we watch while he does dishes, and I’ll have a good 40-45 (commercials are much shorter when you’re streaming) minutes of sitting in the kitchen chair and knitting while watching the show.

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Alpacas

It feels like it’s been forever since we went on this trip, even though it was only earlier this year. But I can’t even bear to look at the pictures of snow, especially since I spent most of the last few days enjoying the sunshine outside in shorts and a t-shirt, and occasionally feeling like even that was too much clothing.

Earlier this year, Dan organized a secret date for me, which was a day trip out to an Alpaca farm.

The people running the farm were really nice, and the alpacas were friendly, albeit sneezy.

They didn’t spit like camels do, but kept getting greedy with the treats and choking on them, needing to sneeze/cough them out. All together now – EEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWW.

I got a skein of alpaca yarn which I don’t know what I’ll do with. At the rate I’m going, it’ll be another year before I have a project in mind for it. That reminds me, though – I’ve finally picked a project for the yarn Dan got me two christmases ago. I’m going to make a bolero-like jacket out of it!

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Recent and future crafts

While on our trip, I also started (and completed) a pair of fingerless gloves, which I had planned on using to keep warm at the office. Except that I forgot that come fall, they crank up the heat – it’s in the summer that you need the gloves. Maybe I’ll bring them home instead. They’re based on this pattern here, with a few modifications. For example, note the contrasting ribbing. The cool reason for this is that I wanted something funky-looking. The uncool reason is that when I made the first glove, I realized that it was too tight of a fit for my right hand, although it fit snugly (but comfortably) on my left. So I decided to make the ribbing a different colour on the second glove to distinguish the two.

For christmas this year, I also have plans to make my own christmas tree skirt, similar to this one. I’d bought the fabric last year at a post-christmas sale, but never got around to making it because, seriously, who cares about christmas in February?? It looks pretty straightforward, I just need to find an afternoon to spend making it. Hopefully tomorrow. But then again, who am I kidding – I’ll probably be too busy making yummies for the group’s christmas party.

One other crafty things that will have to be completed in the next month (more like 3 weeks!) are the christmas cards. It’s mostly Dan’s baby, but I’d like to have a little bit more input this year. We’ll see if I’ll be allowed. 🙂 Of course, this means that I actually need to complete sorting the photos and pick out the 1% that might get used in the cards. Sigh. [Update – how can you tell this post has been in the “incomplete” pile for a while?] The cards are almost done. Sorting wasn’t as bad as expected since the trip pictures were already sorted, and also we cut down on the number of pictures, so now you’ll actually be able to tell who the people in the photos are!

Also, I need something I can make on knitting Wednesdays. Any suggestions? I suppose it’s technically a stitch and bitch, although the delicious drinks (and fun projects and lovely company) keep the bitching at bay. 😉

A few weeks ago, in one of the back copies of Maclean’s (as in, the ones accumulated from 5 weeks of being away, and the next 5 weeks of catching up on the previous 5 weeks’ worth of magazines), I stumbled on an article about a new “no-knead bread” by Jim Lahey, which apparently requires almost no work. And according to the reviews, both in the magazine and in a quick google search, the results are pretty tasty, too! I can’t wait to try it!

And a final “also” – the one independent coffee shop in Kanata, Kravings in the Centrum, just got closed down. What gives?

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Whew. What a busy few days. Also, before the post gets underway, I have somewhat bad news – I´ve decided that despite promises to the contrary, I will for now omit pictures from these blog posts. Sorry. The new plan is to update the blog once I´m back home, and add in the pictures then. It´s just proving unrealistic to sort through all the pictures and pick out the best two or three to put in each post. Although, the ipod to camera connector seems to be working wonderfully!

Anyway, back to the trip.

On Sunday morning, we left for our trip in the Colca Canyon. The trip began at 3 in the morning (yes, that´s not just my timezone deprived brain talking) when our guide was to pick us up. This ended up happening closer to 3:30, but hey, apparently this is normal for “South American” time. Our group consisted of us and another canadian couple, which was fantastic. We´ve met quite a few canadians on this trip, but this was the longest we´ve spent with any of them.

The morning started with a 3-hour drive across the plateau, where first the windows fogged up and then that turned into a sheet of ice. Yup. It´s that cold. Luckily, we were prepared this time. In the pre-dawn, we drove past some enclosures (consisting of 1 meter or so high walls built out of small rocks) containing herds of alpaca – too dark for pictures, though. Our first real stop was at Cruz del Condor, the best spot to get a glimpse of condors. We got there at a good time, as right after we got out spots a few of the show-offs among these majestic creatures started making close passes above the crowd. They were a few dozen meters away at least, but even so they seemed huge. Throughout the rest of the hike we saw a few more, but never as close as this. Even so, there is something about them that makes me want to freeze and stare at their amazingly smooth gliding flight.

A few hours later the bus dropped us off for the start of our hike. 15 minutes´ walk brought us to the edge of the canyon, and we began our descent. We were starting at about 3300 meters, going all the way to the bottom to cross the river, climbing back up to maybe 2800, and finally going down to sleep at 2400. A good balance for getting adjusted to the altitude! So far, neither of us has had any problems beyond being out of breath much quicker than normal during the more strenuous exercise, which is fantastic.

We stopped for lunch around 2, after climbing back up from the river. To my utter delight, just before lunch we walked in the shade of the groves of avocado trees. That´s right. Groves. Filled with trees with hundreds of gigantic avocadoes on them (comparable to a good-sized red mango you´d find at a store at home). Sadly, all too green to be eaten right away. Must come back in the summer. All the avocado sandwiches I´ve tried so far have also been delicious, with nice meaty texture and a much sweeter taste than you´d get at home, so I would love to try one fresh right off a tree.

Lunch was fantastic (but after that hike anything would´ve been, probably), and a whole menagerie of animals visited us during the lunch – two large dogs, a weight-lifter chicken (it was that big), and an adorable little black cat which immediately took up residence on Dan´s lap. Eventually, I managed to coax her onto mine, too.

The afternoon hike was uneventful, and hot. Passing by lots of the aqueducts delivering mountain water to the local villages, and many half-abandoned settlements (looking a bit sad with buildings with full walls, but no roof, and grasses growing out of the floor). We did see a local game of futbol – apparently, on Sundays people from nearby villages converge on this one field in the middle, to spend the day socializing, trading news (all of these villages are only reacheable by foot) and of course play futbol.

Our day ended at the Oasys – a village at the bottom of the canyon with a natural spring nearby. Not hot, but definitely fresh source water. Every lodge has their own little swimming pool, filled with this water. At 22 degrees C, this would´ve been perfect during the day, but unfortunately we got there after the sun had set beyond the edge of the canyon. Incredibly refreshing, though, and putting on clean and soft clothes afterwards felt like pure heaven. The temperature at the bottom of the canyon is a lot more constant than on the plains, so it never got very cold in the evening. We spend the few hours until dinner sitting under palm trees, drinking warm beer, and chatting about this and that. Bliss!

Our overnight accommodations consistent of a cute little round mud hut, with a roof made of dried palm leaves, and two windows covered with sheets of plastic, set close to the river. Best sleep ever! The moon was incredibly bright, fully lighting up the opposite cliff face, so unfortunately we did not get to see as many stars at night as I had hoped.

The next morning involved a 3-hour hike back out of the canyon. The simple bread&egg&jam breakfast at the first village we hit was divine. The bus picked us up and drove us back along the canyon, stopping at a real hot springs. Despite my reservations (who wants to go into a hot spring on a hot day?), it was fantastic – more like warm bath water, and after getting out and drying off in the chilling breeze, getting back in was heaven. A great way to soothe the muscles no longer accustomed to 1000+m climbs.

I knitted on the drive back (the gloves are progressing nicely), while most of the people on the bus slept. We saw lots of herds of hundreds of heads of alpaca, but the road conditions (horrible) made it very difficult to snap a picture on the go – only about 1 shot out of every 3 turned out clear due to all the bumps. Even worse, the roads that had at one point been paved but had falled into disrepair were actually worse to drive on than the pure gravel roads. Odd. Even worse, I´ve had a hard time finding any alpaca yarn. Plenty of overpriced garments made of alpaca wool, but no raw wool yet. Hopefully in Bolivia?

Today was more of a relaxation day. We went to a grocery store and bought food for breakfasts and dinner. We booked our next few bus tickets, and planned out the rest of our trip a bit more carefully. Tomorrow we head up El Misti, then on to Puno (Lake Titicaca) and on to Bolivia. We need to end up in La Paz on the 24th for our flight back to Lima, and time is starting to get disappointingly short. For our first night in La Paz, I found in the book a hostel that comes with a microbrewery on premises. I should´ve just booked it without telling Dan, but I was too excited and had to tell him. He looked pretty happy about it too. Now I just have to email them to make sure they have space. Until the next 50-cent hour of internet!

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