Monday, December 26, 2016

YOP - Week 26

Merry Christmas, Dear Readers!

First things first - I can now show you my Christmas illusion knits:

for my daughter and her husband: (this is the name of their band)

for my niece:

for my brother:

for my son:

and I also made him a double-knit pot-holder - this is the chinese seal for the year of the ox - his zodiac sign. It is made out of hemp and he loves the one I gave him a few years ago and says he uses it all the time.

and I finished Yoda and his buddy the good-guy Stormtrooper

My Peace Cowl was finished at a lovely solstice Knit night with ten of my knitterly friends.

and I even wrote a poem about the evening.

Twas four nights before Christmas
And all through Cait’s house

Three creatures were stirring
Barnum, Simon and Mouse

The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that some Knitters soon would be there.

The stash it was nestled all snug on its bed
While visions of socks, shawls and sweaters danced in its head.

And Cait in her sweatshirt, Mary-Anne with her wine
Had just settled down with some cookies to dine.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
We sprang from our chairs to see what was the matter

Away to the windows we flew like a flash
Peeked through the blinds and then hid our stash.

The twinkling lights on last week’s snowfall
Gave some light to this solstice
This dark night of all.

When what to our wondering eyes appears
But a bevy of cars and nine knitterly dears

With Joan in a sweater so lively and quick
With pictures of Santa, also known as Saint Nick.

More rapid than eagles these women they came
And they whistled and shouted and we called them by name.

Now Belinda, Now Debbie, Now Judy (with coffee)
Now Marjorie and Ruth (did they bring the toffee?)

On Liz and On Marlie (had they come from afar?)
On came Elise (with her soup in a jar).

To the top of the porch, through the door to the hall
Come in, come in, come in one and all.

As beautiful yarns before us arrive
When they meet with our needles
(Or when we stash dive)

So into the house these knitters they flew
With baskets of food and some knitting to do.

And then in the room, we heard it so quick
The clicking and clacking of many a stick.

As we filled our glasses and plates all around
In Wendy came with a joyful bound.

She was dressed as from work from her head to her shoe
And her clothes were spotted with paint, glitter and glue

She greeted us warmly and wanted to talk
But Simon, the dog, he wanted a walk.

Our eyes how they twinkled, our voices so merry.
The food was delicious, the chocolates Cait carried!

We knitted and chatted
And laughed all the same

We looked at our projects
And called them by name.

We oohed and we aahed at all that we do
We talked of our Christmas, and peace cowls too.

As we knitted and purled and frogged a few stitches
Our projects all grew with very few hitches.

We spoke lots of words, for we had been asked
To bring peace to this night was what we’d been tasked.

The world needed peace this year most of all
And knitters ,the world over, answered the call.

A fine group of women ,we gathered outside
With our candles and cowls, our smiles so wide.

For a few brief hours our troubles abated
Our need for love and good friends more that sated.

And I heard us exclaim as we drove into the night.
Happy Solstice to all, And to all a good night.

(With apologies to Clement C. Moore)

I have two things on the needles as I head into 2017.

My Scottish Hap which is coming along slowly and surely - I am totally in love with this yarn. It is a BFL single and the colour and springiness of the yarn is amazing.

and a Runic Hat that I have decided to make that is knit with a lining it, but it is better TV knitting that the Hap - which needs a LOT of concentration.

So that's it for me.

I ordered some washable wool from Laughing Hen in the UK to make the Tree of Life christening blanket using the pattern Cloud Drift from Ravelry.

I seem to keep adding new projects to my list, but hey, there is still six months of knitting in this challenge so it is all good.

Blessings to all of you this day and may peace follow you through the 12 Holy Nights.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Christmas Story

I gave my mother this creche piece by piece over many Christmases.

The camel still bears the price tag - $.79 from Woolworths. The creche came to me after my mother's passing. I am so happy to have it.

I am often reminded of two sayings from two of my favourite Christmas television shows. From the Grinch - "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe, just maybe it means something more." And from A Charlie Brown's Christmas " And lo there were shepherds abiding in the fields, watching their flocks by night..."

I avoid the stores and shoppers and madness of this holy day that has become so commercialised. For me it truly is about the magic of Christmas and about that story that began 2011 years ago. For me it is simply about family, and being with those I love.

I watched the Nativity Story last night. It was so beautiful. So simple. So true. There are people in our midst that need our love, and support. Sometimes these people are family. Often they are strangers.

There are people in my life who are lost, and who feel unappreciated. There are people in my life who are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. There are people in my life that are lonely despite being surrounded by others. There are people in my life who are at odds with the world, or with themselves, or with others.

For all of these people, for all of us, I believe there is a stable. There is a stable that keeps us safe and warm, and although it is not a mansion it is filled with love. Sometimes we all have to experience many doors being shut in our face, many hearts turning away before we realize the warmth, the stable, the shelter, the forgiveness, the love, is simply within us.

The Christmas story is a simple story. Mary and Joseph were simple people. The shepherds were simple people. Even the wise men were simple people. And because of this simplicity they were able to take part in a simple story. All the nonsense that now surrounds them, and the birth of that child, cannot take away from the simplicity of it all.

A child was born to bring love, peace and forgiveness into the world. If we let it, this story can bring love, peace and forgiveness into our hearts.

So to all of the people in my life, and all of the people in this world I wish you Peace and Love and Forgiveness.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Yop Yop Yop 25 - Almost half way!

Ok, so I can now divulge my latest addiction which is illusion knitting.

I have made six to date, but four can't be shown until after Christmas.

Here is the one I made for my knitting group's Christmas Party:

This is what it looks like looking front on:

and this is what it looks like looking at it from an angle:

And here is the one I made for me because....hummingbird people!

Other than that this week was all about finishing the sweater. I finished the knitting on Wednesday, Thursday I sewed in the sleeves and all the ends, and Friday I blocked it.

Saturday I wore it!

My peace cowl is coming along - it will be done by the 21st, and I am getting together with 10 other knitters on the 21st to knit peace into the world. I will add an i-cord to finish it with leftover yarn from my sweater. If you want to see who else is knitting for peace and where they are in the world check out this Ravelry group.

It is snowing today - a perfect excuse to sit inside and knit and binge watch The Gilmore Girls.

I started the very complicated Uncia shawl from The book of Haps using the yarn I bought in London in September. Definitely not a TV watching project but I am excited to see how it is coming along.

Lastly, I learned this week that my sore back is the result of three of my vertebrate having compression fractures. Ouch indeed!

I can still swim and do yoga, gently, so that is good. I am sore, but I do have good meds. Sleeping is the hardest. Sitting and knitting is pain free. Walking is fine. Standing? Not so much. Getting up from sitting? Really not so much.

But, the presents are bought and mostly wrapped, and we got our tree last night. I have my Christmas elf here to help with decorating, and the nuts and bolts are made (which is the extent of my Christmas baking).

I hope you are all finding time for Peace and Knitting amid the hustle and bustle of this Christmas Season.

I listened to Dylan Thomas reading his poem A Child's Christmas in Wales this morning.

It made me happy.

And that?

That is a good thing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Yesterday I was greeted by a Varied Thrush sitting in my snowy planter box outside my kitchen window. His brilliant orange and black plumage was radiant against the snowy backdrop of cedar branches.

(internet picture)

I watched him and his wife for almost two hours as well as the juncoes, chick-a-dees, nuthatches, hummingbirds, squirrels and stellar jay that flitted back and forth from our feeder to the safety of the cedars.

It was magical.

This bird feeder was a Christmas gift to my husband a number of years ago and it has brought us endless hours of pleasure and delight.

It took me the better part of an hour to identify the Varied Thrush as such. I had all three bird books on the table and tried in vain to get a picture of him with my phone.

Afterwards my dh and I went to get some replacement felt lines for our winter boots, and we dropped off some knitted donations to a charity downtown.

It was a good day.

As I am writing this a downy woodpecker just came to the feeder. My daughter and I spotted him.

(internet photo)

She calls this backporch feeder Mum's sanctuary.

A Sanctuary.

We all need them.

Sometimes to ward off the cold.

Sometimes to keep out the darkness.

Sometimes to find a place to sleep that is safe.

Sometimes to fill a hungry belly.

Sometimes to just be.

I remembered the verse from People Look East we used to sing at school during the third week of Advent - it was about the birds:

Birds, though you long have ceased to build,
Guard the nest that must be filled.
Even the hour when wings are frozen
He for fledging time has chosen.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the bird, is on the way.

This morning I sat quietly with my coffee and lit the candles on my Advent wreath.

I remembered the verse for the third week of Advent:

Now the beasts are on the earth
Waiting for the Christ child's birth.

There is an ox and a lamb there in the photograph. And a rat. All animals of the stable.


Waiting as they waited 2000 years ago.

Waiting for a sign.

Waiting for a miracle.

And it will come.

It was promised.

It will come.

Blessings to all of you, Dear Readers, within this third week of Advent.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Yop 24 - It's all an illusion

I have learned a new knitting technique and I am obsessed with it. Illusion knitting!

From the front it looks like this:

From an angle this appears:

So I made a second for myself and of course it had to be a hummingbird (my totem),

and a third, fourth and fifth that I can't show you dear readers until after Christmas.

I can make a pot-holder/dish cloth size in two evenings. It is a great way to use up the cotton and hemp I have in my stash.

I have also started another double-knitting project, but I can't show you, you've got it, until after Christmas.

My apologies (again) to my sweater. I have finished all the decreases but have about an inch or so to knit before I bind off the sleeves.

Every day I have been knitting my four rows of my Project Peace cowl. There are over 20,000 knitters working on knitting peace into the world.
I have figured that I will have enough stash to complete all 21 repeats alternating between the red and grey. I will finish the i-cord edging with leftover yarn from my sweater.

As I knit the pattern which is slip, purl, purl....I repeat to myself Love, Peace, Peace. It helps. With every stitch it helps.

Here is my progress as of day 11:

I attended my knit group's annual Christmas party on Thursday. We swap secret Santa gifts, donate something knitted to a charity, and share good food and company. I received a wonderful bag that is perfect for my drop spindle, my extra bobbin and my extra small whorl.

I also won a door prize - Kate Davies Book of Haps. A wonderful book about Scottish haps (shawls), with history, anecdotes and of course patterns and so in the new year, when I am no longer stash busting, I want to make some of the haps from this book. I am going to start with the Tree of Life which is documented in the book and I found the pattern on Ravelry as Cloud Drift, and then I will continue with other patterns from the book. I am so excited.

As an aside to my Year of Projects update - I want to take a moment to talk about the magic of Christmas and my belief in Santa Claus.

This year, as it is many years, I didn't feel I had the resources to tackle Christmas. Some years it was about the money, some years it was more about the feeling, or lack of feeling.

And every year, a job appears, something happens that makes Christmas come and I am ready for it. Happy for it. Blessed by it.

This year was no different. I wasn't going to go to the Christmas party. I hadn't made a gift, and I didn't have anything to donate. It was easier to just bow out.

However, my angels, literally, clearly had another idea. I found the angel illusion cloth pattern and quickly knit it up as a present. I dug out the two pairs of socks I had on the needles since the beginning of October and quickly finished them for the donation box.

My excitement with the illusion knitting got me thinking about two presents I could knit, and then a third presented itself as a KAL (knit-a-long) that just happened to be an illusion knit as well. And since I was working with all my cotton and hemp leftovers I started another double-knit zodiac pot-holder which will be the perfect gift for a certain someone.

This weekend I went to Whistler to help friends with their three children. When I got home from a very snowy l o n g drive, my daughter, my Christmas elf, had started to decorate the living room, and kitchen and even the bathroom with Christmas lights, and candles and knick-knacks. Her husband had dinner ready for us. The house looked and smelled heavenly.

So yes, Christmas is coming. And I will be ready.

Yes, Mary-Anne, there is a Santa Claus.

I have always believed it.

I always will.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Yop Yop Yop - Update 23

It has been a good week for getting knitting done.

I have done 3 repeats on the Peace Cowl and will change to the new colour today.

I have finished one pair of charity knit socks and I am almost finished the 2nd pair.

I have finished the gift for my knit group's Christmas potluck, plus I have made two others, but I can't post any pictures, because shhh....Christmas secrets!

I am decreasing the cap of the sleeves for my sweater and I know I said it would be done this week, but the socks and Christmas knitting got in the way.

If you want a little peace in your life every day of advent check out the Project Peace blog. Everyday she posts some thoughts and a simple activity you can do to promote peace in your life.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Yopping Update 22 - Putting it all in perspective

This is a shortish update. I have been working diligently on my sleeves and have about 12 inches done on each sleeve with all the increases, so I just get to knit for awhile (haha - just knit - what with the lace and cables and all), before I start to decrease for the cap of the sleeve. I should be finished by next update.

Last night I started a secret Santa gift for my knit group's annual Christmas get together. I can't post anything about it here, but I can tell you that it was a new technique that I have never tried before, and I am so excited about the finished product (I finished it this afternoon), that I cast on another one straight away. Profuse apologies to my sweater that I had promised I would finish before casting on anything new.

I was looking for this technique and this pattern on Ravelry and I found just the pattern. I went to the designer page and here is where I found a message from my angels.

You see, I have been feeling quite down these past weeks and thinking I just wasn't able to think of anything to make for the secret Santa, so perhaps I just wouldn't go to the get together this year.

But then I went to my knit group last Thursday and felt the love and warmth of this fine group of women.

So, I went home and starting to search for patterns on Ravelry.

And when I found the designer's page she had a long apology about being unavailable because her sister-in-law had committed suicide, and then her brother had died, and she was in the middle of settling the estate and taking in and caring for the two young children who had lost both their parents.

Kinda puts my problems into perspective.

So yesterday I went for a swim. And today I went to yoga, and then started to think about Christmas, and presents, and despite my sore back, and despite the rain, I am picking myself up and dusting myself off and getting on with things.

Because that is what we do.

Putting it all into perspective my problems right now seem mighty small.

Peace and love to you all.

It's Advent. The very best time of the year.

I shall light candles.

I shall eat mandarin oranges.

I shall drink gingerbread spice tea.

And on December 1st I will begin knitting the Project Peace cowl.

It can't hurt.

It can only help.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Update Twenty One - YOP and Life

My yopping update is small:

1) Body of sweater is finished and I am knitting the sleeves two at a time and have finished two lace repeats (17 to go).

2) I spun an ounce of Blue-faced Leichester, and 2-plied it. Fingering Weight - Yay!

3) I spun a fat single out of some unknown brown fleece I had lying around. I think I will spin more of this to make a child-size sweater/jacket.

4) I donated some worsted yarn to my friend who is teaching in a one-room school and wants to teach her five students how to knit.

5) I found my orifice hook that I thought I had lost when I transported my spinning wheel to and from the school last week, and it was making me very sad - but it was found on the driveway the next day, under the car, wet from the rain, but no worse for wear. Phew.

Lastly I have joined an Advent KAL on Ravelry called the Peace Project 2016. The designer will release four rows of the pattern every day of Advent. We will knit peace all around the world. Join us if you want. Here is the link to the project page. If you are not on Ravelry you can find out more details here.

Earlier this week I posted on facebook:

It's ok to not be ok, tell someone you're not ok. It's ok.

So ok.

I am not ok.

Well some of the time I am ok, but lots of the time, lately, I am not ok.

I am doing all the right things: swimming, yoga, sleeping, working, seeing friends, knitting.

But I can feel it when I wake up in the morning.

First thought?

In sixteen or so hours I can come back to bed.

It's nothing in particular.

It's nothing in general.

I just feel down.

I have felt this way before and it has resolved. Sometimes through a change in medication. Sometimes through talk therapy. Sometimes just time.

I know it's not just me.

I think the world is feeling this way too.

I think many of us just want to go to bed and pull the covers over our head for the next four or, God forbid, eight years.

So why don't I?

Because of the glorious hugs I get from family and friends, students - past and present.

Because of beautiful sunsets and fantastic moonrises.

Because of the joy I get from teaching.

Because of all who need hope


Because if I go back to bed, it means the bad guys have won.

And I can't have that.

Because deep down, underneath my sadness I believe what Samwise Gamgee believes.

So let's knit on, soldier on, keep on going forward together.

Shall we?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Baa Baa Black Sheep - Year of Projects Week 20

My year of projects update is pretty small this week.

I have added six lace repeats to my wayside sweater and I am ready to turn the heel on one of my charity knit socks.

But, the exciting thing is on Friday I received....

Baa Baa Black sheep
Have you any wool.
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full.

Yup, three bags, of freshly shorn, unwashed and gloriously smelly Babydoll sheep fleece.

I have already decided that I will spin it in order to make a Cowichan sweater/jacket as I have a white fleece that needs to be spun too.

I am so excited to take on this sheep to sweater project.

Wish me luck.

Meanwhile....back to my sideways sweater. I have just started ball six and hope to be on the sleeves by next week's update.

Also a dear friend sent me this knitting gif.

A gift of a gif!