I’m a poet and don’t know it…

“The productions of all arts are kinds of poetry and their craftsmen are all poets.”
– Plato

Well, it’s great to see that the Greeks are again leading the pack with the bon mots.

So, tell me if you think that this is poetry or not:

Yes, I’m back in the Good Housekeeping mode yet again – at least as it involves production of fancy flavoured oils and vinegars.  I’m sick and tired of seeing and coveting bottles of them at Ye Locale Overpricede Food Emporiume, so thought I’d best get off my lazy @$$ and make some of my own.

(Er… plus, JJ and I went rather crazy at Fiesta Farms last weekend and then didn’t end up cooking everything we had planned, so I had lovely fresh herbs that were going off.  Sigh.)

So, from the left, there are: Oven-dried tomatoes in olive oil with oregano and garlic; basil olive oil; mixed berry white wine vinegar; fresh oregano olive oil with lemon zest; lemon and lime olive oil; and red pepper wine vinegar.

This, although pretty, I must confess does not feature local produce:

But the blueberries are now with us, so stay tuned for some experiments with white balsamic and blueberry!

And doesn’t this look yummy?

Time will tell – I’ve got to wait three weeks or so to crack into these babies. Patience is a virtue, they tell me…

Oh – and before I forget – today is the birthday of the oh-so-fabulous JJ!!!

Please join me in wishing him a lovely day – he well deserves it for putting up with me!  We will be having the real celebration next weekend… and I’m under strict orders not to tell you how old he is but if I could afford it, I would buy him a LeXXus I (if that is indeed a type of fancy car… heh heh).

So, in advance celebration I decided to knit JJ a cover for his lovely petunias!!


(“What are ye doin’ now, lassie?  Have ye gone mad????”)

Allow me to introduce my version of Seascape!

I’m knitting this on 3.5mm needles with the lovely Handmaiden Lace Silk – I have no idea which colourway but it seems closest to Popsicle.  So far, so good – the pattern is fairly easy to follow thus far.

And, I’ve decided to add beads to highlight some of the curves:

But… that’s not all!!  I’ve been suffering from a bit of knitting ennui of late and so decided to follow Tracy B‘s excellent suggestion to try two projects at once.  Also, this lovely Posh Yarn “Cecilia” that lace goddess Clarabelle so kindly sent to me was sobbing loudly from its place of honour on my bookshelf, feeling neglected.

Celia, you’re breaking my heart!! (but hopefully you do not shake my confidence… sigh).

I had decided some time back that the ideal project to go with this yarn would be the half-circle shawl from Victorian Lace Today:

This is a rather scary project, as it involves lace knitting on both right and wrong sides with no “rest row”.  However (deep breath)… here goes!

So far, so guid, I think!

Now, I don’t know if I’m a poet or not – but I do think all of the above is looking a-ok.  So, that’s a start.

Sadly, it’s now time to leave for… work. Happy Monday to all!

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Wherein the glory that was Hellas?!

Well, they lost. Again. And after I went and bought t-shirts and ballcaps!!

Just count me in as one of the ones making a left turn. Sigh. I did have to laugh at the tag line in the Daily Telegraph’s reporting of the Greece/Russia match on Saturday:

“Lightning does not strike twice, not even when the bolts are thrown from Olympus.”

Oh, well then. OK. I think the Brits are just showing their sour grapes off since they didn’t even manage to get a team into the Eurocup, anyway. So THERE.

I also loved the Greek team manager’s attitude. Check it out:

A miracle happened in 2004 but these kind of things occur once every 30 years, reflected Otto Rehhagel, the manager of Greece, who in Portugal oversaw a footballing earthquake. “I knew we would not be able to waltz through the group, we are not that good. But other teams will be going home, too – maybe both Italy and France,” he said.

Easy to say after the fact, no? But he had a smarter answer for the tougher questions…

“I know the games and I’m not going to play them with you. I know the question before you ask it,” he added. “I’ve said this before, Greece is a country where democracy was born so you can say what you want. Germany is also democracy which is why I’m free to say whatever I want.”

Germany?!? Hold on just a minute…

“I think the Acropolis has been around for several thousand years, and we won’t be around for that long – that keeps it in perspective,” the German said.

He’s GERMAN?!?!? Should have figured that out with a name like Otto, mind you. Was there some kind of fix, do you think?

(In case you’re wondering what in the name of Zeus the above cartoon means, I don’t know. But it came up inexplicably when I googled “big greek losers”.)

Anyway, at least I won’t miss any more time off work sleep watching thinking about the soccer matches.

Instead, I can spend more quality time drooling over my latest British TV-inspired crush:

I know, I know – I need to get a life. Or at least get back to knitting (and no, I haven’t forgotten that this is a knitting blog). I have a very odd combo of finishitis and startitis at the same time… I’ve put aside my three WIPs, but can’t decide what to start next. Any suggestions for 800m or so of lovely blueberry mist sea silk?

Wishing you all a wonderful week…

memories of Cape Breton…

Now, I warn you in advance: I have decided that I would like to return to live in Cape Breton when I win the lottery manage to find a legal aid job in Nova Scotia which will never, ever happen retire.  So, I took a million photos of the place.  Well, 502 photos to be quite exact.  I’ll only show you a fraction of those, I promise…

Let me first start with telling you about one of the best yarn shops I’ve ever been too, Baadeck Yarns.  It is located in Baddeck (get it?!?).  The owner, Patricia, is from Toronto but decided to move down there and open a yarn shop after a vacation some time back.  And I’m very glad she did, too.

Why?  Well, first off, she carries an exclusive line of colours by the Fleece Artist/Handmaiden… which she helped design herself.  And if I dare say so myself, I managed to exercise significant self-control in the face of this, buying only two skeins of HM Sea Silk in the Blueberry Mist colourway:

She also carries Tilli Tomas products which I had never seen in person before… so of course I had to snap up two skeins of the Moroccan Blue silk prestrung with beads:

Patricia was also kind enough to let me drool over fondle the Tilli Tomas Swarovski crystal studded silk which she had in stock.  At $125/120 yards I couldn’t really see fit to buying any, although I was sorely tempted.  (By the way, for you knitters out there, I am deliberately not including a link as I think it would probable be actionable if you checked it out and lost your house as a result.  Having said that, I did link it somewhere previously on this blog and I think if you search “bling” you’ll find the link.  Heh heh).

All I can say is that it’s just a very guid thing that JJ was along, otherwise the rent cheque for June would have gon bounce bounce bounce into the Atlantic for certain.  Oh – and if you are anywhere near Nova Scotia, do visit Patricia!  It will be worth the trip, I can assure you.

All right, all right… enough yarn pron.  Back to the vacation.  We spent two full days on the Cabot Trail, which is a road through the mountainous part of Cape Breton spanning approximately 120 kilometres.

JJ insisted on driving the first day but I got to drive the second!!  It is a fabulous drive.  The topography changes constantly.

There are all sorts of little curiosities along the way, such as, for example, the Lone Sheiling (a replica of a highland hut):

The federal government pours lots of money into the Cabot Trail (quite rightly, I think) so that they can keep it vibrant and replant trees… here is a baby birch tree!

I was happy for that, because it means that we can keep enjoying lovely views like this:

…and this:

…and so on…

…and so forth:

That’s me, by the way, at one of the highest points – about 500 metres above sea level!

I loved the mountains, obviously:

…but also the beaches.

…and even the rocks.  Nay, especially the rocks!

JJ, on the other hand, loved this site the best!


When I gently suggested that he was perhaps spending too much money at the place which manufactures the only Canadian malt whisky, and that he didnae really need a sample of every year that they’ve made..

…he pointed to the back of my newly acquired T-shirt:

Fair enough, I guess.  Anyway, he was just feeling cocky because we were in Scottish territory, where some of the road signs are even printed in English and Gaelic!

We also, by the way, ate fabulous Acadian food in Cheticamp, where the signs are in English and French.  (And by the way, if you’re coming to Nova Scotia, bring your fat clothes.  The food is great, unless you’re a vegetarian.  JJ wanted to take a photo of me eating the 10th order of fresh fish and chips but I refused as it would have been embarrassing to show my face buried in the plate.

I will part with photos of my favourite place in Cape Breton, which was Inverness, where we stayed.  This beach was within a two minute walk of the motel…

…and the sun sets very kindly on Inverness (when it’s around, that is, as the locals would hasten to tell you.  Apparently it’s not around all that often.  But when it is, it is glorious!)

That is about it for the vacation photos, I promise.  Only I still have to show you some of my fabulous acquisitions, as there are many great artisans in the province.  And you can get a palace of a condo even in Halifax (the capital) for what it would cost you for a 450 sq ft bachelor in Toronto.  I really need to move there.  Sigh.

Cheers,

Kristina

boring vacation photos, part I…

(…and don’t say you weren’t warned.  Now is your chance to hit the back button.)

I must say that JJ and I both had a blast on our extended vacation down East.  JJ had decided that we should take the train both ways.  At first, I was a tad sceptical (it takes just over 27 hours total, and I am not all that guid in close quarters as you can imagine).  But then I learned that they had a bar car on the train…

… so all was well.  It was also a great way to travel in that I got to see parts of Quebec I’ve never been in, and also New Brunswick…

…and somehow I didn’t even manage to piss off JJ!

Our first port of call was Halifax, which is on the Atlantic Ocean.  So you get to see lots and lots of big fancy boats:

… and look how clean the water is right in the dock!

A far cry from Lake Ontario, I can tell you.

Unexpectedly, I got to see Pier 21, where most of the immigrants to Canada landed prior to 1971, including my own father.  They had an interesting museum, including a photo of the boat that he came in on!

Halifax is also chock full of Irish pubs, which didnae take us too long to find.

And after a few pints of Guinness, JJ even managed to capsize a ship!

I should really, really be living in Halifax.  I mean, check this out… they give you potato chip topping for your street meat!!

While in Halifax, we also went on a real life pirate sailboat!

And see… here’s Johnny Depp piloting it!

Well, OK… not Johnny Depp.  Lars Lancebottom or something like that (I’m sure that was his real name, too)… but he was a nice guy.

And then we found another Irish pub of JJ’s past acquaintance, with real-live Irish snugs!

We were actually staying in Dartmouth, which is a twin city to Halifax and across the water.  Since JJ did not want to pay the 75 cent toll for the bridge, we had to take the ferry…

Oh – and I got to meet my all-time hero, Mr. Alexander Keith!!!!

We would have taken a tour of the brewery, but they wanted $16.50 per head and we decided that was best spent on some cold Keith’s.  Far cheaper, by the way, than in Toronto.

After a couple of days of debauchery and hanging around the Halifax waterfront, we decided to rent a car and hit the road.  The first stop was apparently a mandatory one if you visit this province: the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.

This is quite the tourist spot and I was happy we were there out of season, I can tell you!  They have spooky signs hanging around such as this one:

… and if you picture this coastline in winter, you can see why.

We then spent a day travelling the South coast of the province, which includes such lovely sights as Lunenberg:

It’s full of houses like that, all painted different colours! Lunenberg is also home of the Bluenose II, featured on our dime:

This is what she looks like in real life, at least when on vacation:

We then decided to travel to Cape Breton, a large island which is part of Nova Scotia.  Upon JJs insistence, the first stop there was at an old French military installation at Louisburg:

I thought this would be quite boring, but the scenery was spectacular!


They have set the fort up as an exact replica of what it would have looked like in the 1700s when it was in active use – right down to the house of worship that the soldiers were all forced to attend:

This is just a small part of the grand apartment designated for the Governor (Old French for “Grand Poobah”) at the base:

And, pray tell, where did his wife stay?

Er… not quite.  But this was about the extent of her quarters:

Go figure, eh?  Leaving the fortress, you come upon an ancient (by Canadian standards, anyway) cemetery right next to the water:

We then found a place to stay with, reputedly, the best sunsets in the East Coast:

This is the beach at Inverness, where we stayed for five days or so:

I must confess that I was fascinated by the ocean rocks and brought an embarrassing number home with me.  So many, in fact, that our baggage weighed… ahem… well over the alloted amount.

We tried to leave our mark on the beach…

…but sadly the ocean had washed it away within five minutes or so.  Sigh.

Well, I think that’s about enough for now.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installation, with more pictures of the Cabot Trail than you want to see, I’m sure… and also the PayDay Haul.  Here is a preview:

Cheers,

Kristina

another PayDay, another $50 out the window…

Well, yesterday being the Ides of May, I headed to the local yarn shop as usual.

And here’s what I got!

First, a skein of Blue Sky Alpacas cotton in the Curry colourway (pictured below in the middle).

I’m hoping to make the Delft top in the current issue of Interweave Knits with these colours (I had the red and the orange in the stash from past swaps).

Oh, you should all congratulate me on my extreme forebearance. Why? Because, even though they had a brand new shipment of Handmaiden products in, I did not buy Handmaiden yesterday. I didn’t even look at it.

Er, um… ahem… I should confess that this is only the case because I was so taken with the Blue Moon collection:

The colourway is called “Atomic” of all things. Cool, eh?

And damn and blast (and double and triple damn) Lettuce Knits for being only one of two stores in Canada for carrying the stuff!! They’re just a bunch of pushers, really. Sheesh. I really, really can’t be blamed for losing my head (even though a whole bunch of Blue Moon stuff is winging its way to me from the US as we speak).

Actually, with all of those kilometres of laceweight yarn due to arrive, maybe I could use one of these as well:



Do you think I could program it to make Shetland lace?

Hmm. Actually, I doubt it. It was probably intended to make more useful everyday items of wear such as this:

Just check out that hunk o’ burnin love, would you? That fancy top wouldn’t be staying on him too long in my vicinity, I can tell you!!!

Or, how about some toys for the kiddies?

A very topical set of toys, I should think, given all the talk about bullying in the news these days (and you can click the link if you want to see my view on this issue!).

And, just to end off the work-week, I thought I’d post my top three weblinks for today:

(a) Passive-Aggressive Notes: I figure we’ve all seen such notes from time to time, although of course I’ve never written one myself! (cough cough). I get a real kick out of this website.

(b) Stitchy McYarnpants: some very funny photos of vintage knits, together with commentary. And, she reminded me that I hadn’t looked at Passive-Aggressive Notes for a while. Thanks, Stitchy!

(c) Stephen Fry: he is a rather funny English actor and has recently set up a blog. I’m not sure what I prefer about it – reading his excellent writing or checking out the self-important commentators who either pretend to be buddies with him or pontificate using poor grammar and big words that they dont know how to spel.

Miaow!

Happy Friday!

Five Ways to Combat Your Fear of the Demon Weed

No, not that kind of weed.

Get your mind out of the gutter!!! Anyway, it’s (still) illegal.

What I was actually referring to is the kind that pops up in yards and gardens all over the place at this time of year, striking fear and loathing into the hearts of gardeners everywhere.

An example: the dreaded and much-maligned dandelion.

Now, my thumb is not green but black – must be all that tar in the smokes. All this to say, I have no clue about gardening. But I do think that dandelions are quite pretty:

See? What’s wrong with them? They’re bright and cheery. And they’re free, and they don’t take any work to maintain. So what’s the big deal?

Still not convinced? Well, maybe my five tips on combatting the affliction of weed hatred will convince you.

1. Start eating the leaves.

Yes, you can eat dandelion greens. My great grandmother did it for years – and she even drank the water they were boiled in (the appearance of which any smoker who has tried that time honoured quit smoking tip “empty your ashtray into a jar, fill with water, let marinate one week then keep bringing it out and looking at it when you’re jonesing for a smoke” will recognise). And, she lived to be 107! (well, I exaggerate a bit. But she was very old when she died).

I’ve also seen dandelion greens at the supermarket in certain ethnic neighbourhoods from time to time Even some of the top chefs have picked up on this dandelion trick and are serving dandelion salad. So, if they can serve it, so can you, right?

As for prep tips, don’t ask me. I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. But, as they are extremely healthy, you really should try some yourselves. I’m thinking about your best interests here.

2. Look for comparisons between other “real” plants that you have to pay for and tend.

If you do this, it may well be that you will stop seeing the necessity of shelling out your hard-earned bucks at the flower centre. Here’s an example:

I mean, do you see any difference, really? If anything, the dandelions are nicer looking because they don’t have those big ugly fuzzy brown spots in the middle!

3. Hunt down artistic depictions of the weed.

And yes, people do honour dread weeds such as the dandelion in art. Here are two examples.

This piece by Ann Beckley is called “Dandelion Lace:

Don’t you love the dandelion etching on the side?

And this piece is Myrna Oostrom is simply called “Dandelions”

Wow. I wish I could paint like that.

Anyway, works of art like these are important in that they help to remove the stigma of weed-dom.

4. Make a pros and cons list.

I have a deep dark secret to confess: I am a huge fan of pros and cons lists. Having said that, I’m not going to list the “cons” of letting weeds flourish here because you already know all of those. Here are some pros:

  • You don’t have to break your back any more doing all that weeding.
  • You can save all that money you spend every year on plants which end up dying half the time anyway when there is some freak snowstorm in June.
  • Got any neighbours you can’t stand? Letting your yard grow over with wees provided great fodder to piss them off.
  • Alternatively, having problems coming up with social chit chat with the neighbours? Let your yard grow over with weeds, then you can casually ask them how they cope with weeds in their yard. I imagine that this is good for hours of pleasantries.
  • You will have lots of extra time for fun things… such as knitting, for example.

Which leads us to the fifth and final tip…

5. Check out yarn inspirations.

There are even knitting yarns named after weeds. And let me tell you, fondling a skein of Handmaiden Dandelion sea silk could probably change your mind about a whole lot of things:

For some reason, I haven’t quite managed to get my hot little mitts on any of this glorious stuff yet. But, after all, it is PayDay tomorrow!

Here’s a little challenge for you. Below is a photo of more Handmaiden colourways.

Tell me which one is named after a (sort of) weed – and provide the name. I’ll post the link to the answers here tomorrow. Hint – each colourway has one word in the name only.

See, weeds can be fun. Go forth and let them multiply, I exhort you!

Happy Weednesday Wednesday!

a lovely spring afternoon…

…part of the loveliness courtesy of Michaels Craft Superstore!

We scored lots of goodies there yesterday.  For example, since I didn’t already nearly have enough beads for knitting…

… I needed to pick up some more.  Approximately 12,000 more by my calculation:

And what am I going to do with all these beads, you ask, shaking your head?  Well, a girl can never have too many chartreuse beads, can she?

These ones are intended to replace the gold beads I bought for the Moroccan Days shawl kit:

…which calls for 5,000 or so.  However, I poached some of the gold beads for the Sherwood I’m working on now:

(which I’ve decided, by the way, will be my mother’s belated present for Mother’s Day.  Hi, Mom!)

And these ones?

Well, I think they’ll go quite well with this Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Ocean colourway:

This, by the way, is the Ocean that I just had to have last August.  Yes, it’s still in the stash.  I’ve earmarked it for a “stealth project” (as Soo would say).  Stay tuned.

In keeping with the oceanic theme, I also picked up some sea glass:

It looks like pastel ice!

But don’t worry, JJ didn’t come home emptyhanded.  The reason for the trip in the first place so that he could pick up some stuff for the seasonal door decoration.  Here it is:

Isn’t it lovely?  Almost as lovely as this stuff…

Happy Sunday – and a happy Mother’s Day to those brave souls out there who have earned that title.