just a little mitten love

 

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Saying a quick hello this morning, feeling a little under the weather on this cold dreary October day – though nothing that a hot honey lemon tea and some (finished!) mitten* love can’t make feel a little better.

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I’ve got some new mittens** in the works but, since they’re meant to be a surprise for one of my (reading) family members, I think they’re going to have to fly under the radar on this space. I will be posting progress on them in my Ravelry Group on Wednesday if you want to pop by to check things out and eavesdrop (or join in) on our Beowulf read and knit along discussion there.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week! What is your day looking like?

* Mitten 11 from Charlene Schurch’s book Mostly Mittens, Ethnic Knitting Designs from Russia, modified by me to fit a child’s medium/large hand.

** You can find this pattern in Terri Shea’s beautiful book Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition, it’s Annemor #13.

word by word, stitch by stitch & happy co-incidences

Joining Ginny today:

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While I tend to be a monogamous knitter, it can hardly be said that I’m a one-book-at-a-time reader. I like having books all over the place where I can read a few pages here and there (or maybe more…) during the odd quiet moment with a cup of tea (because I still haven’t discovered a way to drink tea and knit at the same time!)

Lately, in no particular order I’ve been reading: The Wayfayers by Wade Davies (fascinating but slow going), Days in the History of Silence by Merethe Lindstrøm (an introspective and sad story gifted to me by a dear friend), Mindful Discipline by Shauna Shapiro and Chris White (one can never read too many parenting books can they – this one is promising) and The Worried Child by Paul Foxman Ph.D. (for the record here, that worried child is usually me in this house and I’ve found this book to be a rather enlightening and reassuring book about anxiety).

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However, I’ve also been re-reading Mostly Mittens (tons of interesting history and observations not to mention all the beautiful patterns!). I’m currently knitting a pair of mittens for my soon-to-be 10 year old (a modified version of mitten number eleven, if you’re curious).

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Having said all of that, the book I am most excited about reading these days is this translation of Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien. Years and years (and years) ago, I had to take a fourth year level course in Old English (ours was the last graduating class required to do so) and I have never forgotten that experience. We were given a book (well, technically we had to purchase it) full of Old English texts and our job was read the whole text and translate certain passages (including some from Beowulf) on a weekly basis. In any case, maybe out a sense of nostalgia for my academic days, when I came across this particular Tolkien translation a few weeks ago, I was curious. I had heard great reviews of Seamus Heaney’s translation and so I asked my bookseller for her opinion as to which was the “better” version. She graciously suggested I do some research, to which I agreed.

Now, as luck would have it, I recently happened to “meet” not only a very talented knitter but ALSO an Old English and Medieval literature graduate on Ravelry (doesn’t that just beat all?!). So, naturally I couldn’t resist asking her opinion and she wisely suggested I read both. Needless to say, I marched right over to my local bookshop and ordered Seamus Heaney’s version and brought the version you see above home with me.

Reading this has been AWESOME. I love the words, I love the imagery, I love the drama. Talk about terrifying tales told around the fire!  so good.

Now, what I would really like to know is this: are there any other knitters out there who have an interest in reading some Old English translations? Would you like to join me in reading this? I can’t imagine there would be many people who would but I figure I’d ask anyway because you never know just who you’re going to meet on the internet!

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What about you? What have you been knitting? Reading? Meeting? I sure would love to hear about it.

Wishing you a lovely day!

food for thought Friday

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I thought I would share this quote from Khalil Gibran today, many of you have likely read it already but some things are worth reading again, don’t you think?

You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.

- Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

Happy weekend to you and a very happy thanksgiving to my Canadian friends! What love will you make visible in the coming days?

p.s. I thought I would share a recent book love with you, it’s Fiona’s Lace by Patricia Polacco (LOVE her!), a perfectly lovely and moving story about a young Irish family’s immigration to America and the work that saved them.

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every cloud…

Do  you remember this hat, it was meant for my youngest but look who’s inherited it….

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Me! Apparently it was too itchy for him (I think it’s fine, just for the record) so now I get to keep it.*

So, when I started another hat with Peace Fleece I thought I would hedge my bets (let’s face it, knitting with wool for children is always a crap shoot), I would add a little lining to the brim to reduce the itch factor and increase the odds that one of my sons would actually wear it (since that’s who I bought the yarn for anyway).

This is what the finished hat looks like.

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If you are interested in adding a lining to your own hats, those with a ribbed brim specifically, here’s how I add a lining to a 1×1 rib hat:

With a significantly lighter weight yarn (Peace fleece is a heavy worsted weight yarn so I choose a fingering weight sock yarn for the lining) and smaller needles than being used for the hat itself (4.5mm for the main yarn – I went down to a 2mm for the sock yarn), I use this provisional method to cast on the same amount of stitches as required for the hat pattern being used (in my case, 88 sts). Worked desired brim height in stocking stitch minus 1 or 2 rows.

Switch to main yarn and knit 1 round.

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Then purl one round. (sorry for the lighting changes, I knit and photographed this throughout the period of a couple of days)

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Now, knit your hat brim “proper”, matching the outside height to the lining height. Weave in ends. Remove waste yarn and place live stitches on smaller needles and roll the lining up inside the hat – the purl row should have created a natural fold line.

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Needles line up like this:

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Insert larger (working) needle through the main, outer, stitch as well as TWO lining stitches (as though knitting 2 together) like this:

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Knit all stitches together, it will look like this on the backside of the stitch just knitted:

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Continue these two steps all the way to the end of the round. All lining stitches will now be bound together with the main yarn. Your lining will look like this on the inside:

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Continue knitting hat as required, the lining is finished!

When your hat is all knit up, try your hat on intended (wool sensitive) wearer. Cross your fingers (a most important step!). Wait for the verdict.

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Well, he’s smiling at least, until a few moments later…

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Off it comes! Maybe I’ll just need to wait until it’s cold outside to see if this hat will stay on for good. Fingers crossed.

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How about you, how do you get your itch-sensitive people to wear wool? Got any tricks up your sleeves? I’d love to know.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week!

* I suppose if I really wanted to give back the hat I’m wearing, I could add E.Z.’s afterthought lining (my term, I don’t think it’s really called an afterthought lining) detailed in this pattern and books (listed) – it’s brilliant!

food for thought friday

Today’s food for thought courtesy of Yogi Tea:

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Love is an elevated self – now there’s something to chew on…

Wishing you a very happy weekend, full of fun, full of love.

p.s. Marisol the Knitted Mouse pattern by Rachel Borello Caroll can be found here (available through Ravelry only it seems) be sure to check out Henri the Knitted Bear while you’re there, too.

journey to the eagle’s nest

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One morning this past weekend we went exploring a new-to-us trail in the Greater Madawaska Valley, the Eagle’s Nest, a trail which leads to an Algonquin sacred site.

Walking up the trail we saw signs of autumn’s arrival all around us, on the ground beneath us as well as in the sky above.

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The kids had so much fun spotting and showing me all the various and beautiful fungi and berries. It makes me so happy when the boys are the ones excited to show me their discoveries, rather than the always having it the other way around.

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There were many wonderful, unexpected surprises too. At about the halfway point on the trail, we came across a community of inuksuit. How fun!

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Don’t worry, Sam was careful. Did you know it is forbidden to destroy an inuksuk in traditional Inuit culture?

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As the trail wove its way through the woods we saw so many little holes and crevices that we imagined were the homes to all sorts of creatures, this one maybe for the chipmunks… I love the lichen covered “doorway”.

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And can’t you just imagine a small litter of wolf pups peeking out of these rocks in early spring?… or, more eerily, a cougar slinking out for the hunt?

Our trail followed a ledge of cliffs and every now and then we would get a glimpse of the view below.

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Until finally, we reached our destination, the Eagle’s Nest.

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The entrance sign to the Eagle’s Nest sacred site reads:

The Eagle is sacred to all First Nations People upon Turtle Island (North America). Eagle soars in the sky and sees things clearly in all the sacred directions and colours; East, South, West, North, Below, Above and Centre. Thus, Eagle’s a bird of Great Wisdom and Vision and when we visit its nest to be nourished and inspired by all Eagle represents. When Eagle flies highest he transforms into Thunderbird, the Manitou or Spirit that flies closest to Kitchi Manitou – The Great Spirit. Where Eagle exists is considered sacred; a place of power and good medicines where people may come to see a “great view” or even “vision quest” for spiritual guidance not only from Eagle, but from ALL Manitous and The Great Spirit.

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What a view! I admit I will probably enjoy it better when the kids are older and not as likely to cause my heart to skip a beat with each step they take closer to the precipice… but perhaps that is part of my own spirit quest… in any case, this was an experience none of us will forget soon.

Thank you for joining me on our journey. Have you gone on any memorable adventures recently? What did you see? I’d love to hear about it.

Wishing you a wonderful day, full of discovery.

p.s. For any of you in the Ottawa Valley area interested in hiking this trail, you can find more information (directions, trailhead, alternate access etc. ) about it here.

food for thought friday

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Something happened to me yesterday that hasn’t happened in a very long time. I feel in love with a book, the one you see above, called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I opened this book yesterday with my morning cup of tea and just like that, I was hooked. Every moment I could find, between errands, at lunch, at the park, after the school bbq and, finally, after the boys were all asleep, instead of knitting (!) I had my nose buried deep in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society until I finished it. It was that gripping.

I won’t tell you much about this book – in hopes you will read it yourself – but I will tell you that it is an epistolary novel (like Burney’s Evelina, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, if you enjoy that form of novel writing) and share a few favourite quotes from some of the characters’ letters with you:

“I didn’t like Wuthering Heights at first, but the minute that spectre, Cathy, scrabbled her bony fingers on the window glass – I was grasped by the throat and could not let go….I don’t believe that after reading such a fine writer as Emily Brontë, I will be happy to read Miss Amanda Gillflower’s Ill-Used by Candlelight. Reading good books ruin you for enjoying bad books.”   -Isola Pribby

“Later, I came to see that Mr. Dickens and Mr Wordsworth were thinking of men like me when they wrote their words. But most of all, I believe that William Shakespeare was. Mind you, I cannot always make sense of what he says, but it will come.

It seems to me the less he said, the more beauty he made.”                                                            - Eben Ramsey

Even the acknowledgements written by the co-authors had their share of memorable words, too:

If nothing else, I hope these characters and their story shed some light on the sufferings and strength of the people of the Channel Islands during the German Occupation. I hope, too, that my book will illuminate my belief that love of art – be it poetry, storytelling, painting, sculpture, or music – enables people to transcend any barrier man has yet devised.                                    - Mary Ann Shaffer

We are transformed – magically – into the literary society each time we pass book along, each time we say, “If you liked that, I bet you’d like this.” Whenever were are willing to be delighted and share our delight, as Mary Ann did, we are part of the ongoing story of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.                                                                                            - Annie Barrows

Don’t you just love when you come across a book that you can’t put down, a book that makes your heart swell with tenderness and eyes swim with tears? Has it happened to you recently? What book was it? Please share, I’d love to know.

Wishing you a wonderful first weekend of autumn! Hope you get to spend some of it with the words you love.

blog hopping

As some of you may know, last week I was honoured to be tagged by my sweet friend Andi from My Sister’s Knitter to participate in a little Q&A blog hop. If you haven’t already read Andi’s blog hop post here I encourage you to check it out and, while you’re at it, have little visit over at the other two remarkable blogs she tagged here and here as well, they’re really awesome.

Here goes:

1. What am I working on?

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working a stitch pattern that is found in both Estonian and Canadian folk knitting

Right now, I am working on a pair of mittens for my son. Knitted mittens might possibly be my favourite woollen things to own as well as to see on other people. I am particularly drawn to traditional folk mittens. I love to see beauty and usefulness combined to both protect and decorate one of our most precious body parts, our hands. Where would we knitters be without them?!

2. How does my work differ from others its genre?

I don’t know that my work does differ from others. I suppose my knitting reflects my own personal interests (like Fair Isle and other cottage industry and folk crafting traditions) and affinities (like colour). To be honest, I don’t really think much about what makes my work different, I focus more on what I enjoy working on and what makes my work good.

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a collection of folk and cottage craft knitting pattern books

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Like so many “makers”, my drive to create is really an more of an impulse that happens to express itself in knitting.

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milk weed pod I came across on one of my walks

a favourite stand of pines

a favourite stand of pines

As a blog writer, I write out of a real desire to share and connect with others who share a similar passion for family, nature, words, beauty and for making beautiful things. I feel so incredibly blessed to have “met” so many warm, fascinating, talented and like-minded people here in the blogging community.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

As corny as it sounds, my creative knitting process always starts with love – if it doesn’t my project quickly dies on the needles. Sometimes this process begins because I’ve fallen in love with a particular pattern, while other times it’s the yarn that starts it all. Of course, it goes without saying that most of all, knitting involves loving the people I’m knitting for. I think we can all relate to that.

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I struggle much more with writing, though I also find the writing process easier to start with something I love, wether it’s a quote, a photo I’ve taken, a project or an event in my life. For me, the writing process is still very much a learning process too.

     *****

Thank you, Andi, for inviting me to join you on this blog hop. I have asked the following bloggers to keep the blog hop moving along:

1. Sustainable Mum

2. Clover

3. Mandarine’s (so happy Melody has agreed to join me!)

All of these blogs offer what I believe to be a unique space where you will find beautiful photos, thoughtful perspectives and creative inspiration. I hope you will find a moment to visit their wonderful blog “homes”.

Of course, I would also be thrilled if any of you would like to take part and share your answers to any of the questions above with me here. Bloggers feel free to be tagged – there are so many of you I wanted to tag but I either felt too shy and/or that I didn’t know you well enough to pester you. I would love to know what you are working on, what makes you different, what drives you to create and how your creative process works!

Wishing you a lovely start to your week! Happy blog hopping!

biased

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 Today I’m joining Ginny’s lovely yarn along, sharing a little bit about what I’m reading and knitting right now.

While I’m still plodding along with Wade Davis’ The Wayfinders, I am really excited to be also reading Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants with the boys. We first read this book with our son, Sam, when he was about five or six (now just shy of ten) and Eric and I have re-read it with him a couple more times before reading it again now with all three younger boys snuggled up together.

Needless to say, Odd and the Frost Giants is a family favourite that tells the tale of a unfortunate Norse boy, Odd, who chances to meet the gods Odin, Thor and Loki, who, as it happens, have been banished from their realm of Asgard and trapped in Midgard in animal form. Odd helps the gods return to their rightful place and form in Asgard thus saving the world from destruction by the frightful Frost Giants at the same time. This book is a wonderful adventure story that highlights the saving graces of hope, determination, courage and compassion. I love this book (as I do all of Neil Gaiman’s books) and I’m so happy to be reading it once again. A great book for boys, especially (but not exclusively).

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As for knitting, you can see that I’m still avoiding my weaving-in task (I’m giving myself a week to do this before I need to mail it out to my eldest).  Besides, weaving-in isn’t technically knitting now is it?

Instead, I’ve cast on a hat meant for Tim (below) with the Peace Fleece yarn I brought home with me from our last trip in Vermont (it begged and pleaded to come with me, I swear). This pattern is inspired by the Skyping Beanie (free on Ravelry). It’s a simple pattern that I’ve adjusted to be knit in worsted-weight and sized for a child’s head though I fear it might be better sized for a youth’s or adult’s head. Sigh, oh well, Tim hinted that it was a bit scratchy anyway (must be the mohair content).

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My only hesitation in raving about this yarn (because it is really quite beautiful) is that it still has lots of active twist in it, or, at least this skein does. This active twist has resulted in the hat biasing to the left – a result likely compounded by the fact that I’m knitting in the round, continental style, to boot. I don’t know if you can see the biasing in the photo with Tim but you can certainly see how unbalanced the yarn is in the photo beneath it – see how it twists back onto itself?  Frankly, it’s kind of annoying to manage while you’re knitting.

Who knows? Perhaps it is just this one skein. In any case, I’m about to find out because I have two more skeins waiting in the wings. Also, as you can see, I couldn’t resist ordering a new project bag from Fringe Association. As if I need another (!) but I seem to have a weakness for all things lunar related. I must say, I am really pleased with my first experience ordering from Karen; I love how quickly it shipped, how neatly and smartly it was packed and, most importantly, I love the bag. Just thought I’d share that with you.

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What about you? What are you reading? Knitting? I’d love to know.

Happy Wednesday to you, wishing you a wonderful day!

quick change

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In the span of about 36 hours last week, I went from summer sandals and shorts to full on fall boots, socks and pants. It was a bit of a shock, but a happy one as far as I’m concerned (just don’t tell my neighbours I said that, okay?).DSC_0339

We had a big, blustery fall-kind-of-storm and I couldn’t resist getting outside to feel the fresh, cool air on my face. I thought maybe you would like to join me…

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On my walk, I thought about calling this post An Ode to Red, but then, there were just too many other colours calling my name, too, like yellow, for one.

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I caught a red squirrel working on a little walnut collection, can you spot them? My squirrel friend declined my invitation to be photographed, I think he was a little miffed by my attention to his stash. Red squirrels can be like that.

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I was quite surprised to find so very many leaves already on the ground… a conversation for another day, I think…

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Now, there’s no denying the stunning beauty of red maple leaves, but if you’ve ever had the privilege of walking through a fall forest of yellow hued maples just after it’s rained…well, let’s just say it’s a sight you will not soon forget. Maybe someday I can show you.

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I found some wild grapes growing near the sidewalk leading home so I took a bunch (sorry birdies) in hopes I could convince the kids to pull some sour faces for me (they didn’t bite).

Now that fall seems to be really here, or at least looming large, I’m in hat-knitting mode, mostly for my boys. This Shwook Hat (did you know there’s going to be a fun KAL soon?) by Hazel Tindall, absorbed most of my attention last week though I admit my attention has started to drift now that I’ve got all this weaving-in waiting for me – which is why I usually try to do it as go…

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It’s not that I dislike weaving-in ends but, I think I get hung up on the fact that it’s just not knitting. Any suggestions to make this process a little sweeter? Podcasts? Music? Television series ? (I just finished watching Endeavour for the second time, LOVE it) What about you, do you enjoy the process of weaving-in? I’d love to hear about it, either way.

Wishing you a wonderful start to you week!