December 04, 2014

A December Sunday in Mahone Bay

Even though we are always particularly busy at this time of year, we can never resist putting our chore list aside and driving to Mahone Bay for their annual Father Christmas Festival.

 
Always, always, the first stop in town is Have A Yarn and, lo and behold, inside the yarn store, there was Father Christmas himself. And how he suited the surrounds!
 

The baskets and bins were filled to the brim with lovely yarns.


I picked up some Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Worsted. Angela  showed me a hat she is knitting with it - luscious stuff.  I'm going to use my skein to knit a hat as well.
 

 
There are always so many items on display that an hour of gazing, questioning, touching, and referencing can easily slip by. I find it most helpful to see the patterns done up. I often overlook those patterns whose photos are not particularly inspiring but when I see them knit up in the shop, I appreciate them so much more. And it showcases the yarns as well.
 
 
Gifts and gift ideas...
 
It may be dull and grey outside, but the shop is warm and inviting there is always a temptation to just settle in a chair and knit away!
 
 
Down the street, a piper Santa.
 
 
Another way to get around town...
 


 
Christmas Houses
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 

November 10, 2014

 
Socks With Nine Yarns
 
Pattern: K3P1
Yarn: Nine Bits of Leftover Sock Yarn
Needles: Circular - 2.25 mm
 
Before we left for Italy, I finished off a pair of socks using the remnants of yarn from nine other pairs. It was fun trying to fit the colours together in the best possible way and I felt very thrifty indeed. I have knit so many socks over the last seven years that I can easily wile away the winter months on other projects like this one.
 
While in Italy, we visited the ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum, and Oplonti. We were a small tour group (twelve plus three hosts) and had an excellent guide, Luciano, who possessed a wealth of knowledge that he was able to convey in such a clear and concise manner.
 
 
Street in Pompeii with the various shop fronts. There are grooves visible in the stones of the street from the iron clad wooden wheels of chariots and carts.
 
 
The Romans had wooden folding doors with grooves in the stone for sliding them open and closed. I suspect they did as good (if not better) job of hanging doors than our present day contractors.
 
 
The amphitheatre at Pompeii
 
 
An example of the beautifully painted rooms of the Pompeii villas
 
 
A glimpse into the past - 79 A. D.
 
 
A wine bar - one of many on the streets of Pompeii - and we think wine bars are a modern day thing!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

November 01, 2014

Come Back To Sorrento

 Imperial Hotel Tramontano
 
We have just returned from a tour of Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast and how we loved Italy!
 
The first morning there, our marvellous guide, Luciano, dispelled any romantic notions we might have had about the famous song "Come Back To Sorrento". Indeed, not written by someone pining for his lover, the song was composed as a plea for the return of postal services to the town. Who knew! 
 
Ah, the beautiful Imperial Tramontano Hotel in Sorrento. With its wide marble staircases, oil paintings depicting the traditional life of Campania, balconies overlooking the sea, gardens with palm trees, and the dining room facing the ocean (where the waiters wear white in the morning and dress in black tuxedos when serving dinner), it should be called the Grand Imperial Hotel Tramontano!
 
 
This was the view from the balcony of our room with Naples, Herculaneum, Mount Vesuvius, and Pompeii in the distance.
 
 
A side view from our hotel balcony at night.
 
 
Sorrento, like all towns along the Amalfi coast, has thousands of tourists and lots of gelato!
 

 
There's no end of shopping. Sorrento and all the towns on the Amalfi Coast are chock a block full of stores with high end designer clothing, scarves, Italian linens, hats, jewellery, foodstuffs and pasta seasonings. And many, many tourists. Italy seemed like a nation of tour buses.

 
The area is known for its pasta production, ceramics, lemon and olive harvests, and there's no end of specialty lemon products - lemon candies and soaps, limoncello liqueur, and ceramics painted with lemon motifs.
 
 
Women Take Note: Once outside the hotel, public toilets are not designed, like those in North America, with the comfort of women in mind. They have no toilet seats!
 


We walked through a small lemon grove in Sorrento. Lemon and olive trees also overhung the sidewalks and the roadsides.
 
At one time, there were hundreds of craftsmen in the area who specialized in inlaid wood products - boxes, frames, furniture, etc. Now there are less than twenty doing the work by hand, working with veneers of cherry, walnut, mahogany, ivory, etc. We visited the museum of inlaid wood and the large pieces of furniture were stunning.


We purchased very little in Italy as we were there mainly to see the sights, visit the archaeological   ruins, and experience the lifestyle. We could not resist, however, bringing home a box of inlaid wood which we bought from an elderly gentleman who still does the work by hand with his brother at a shop in Sorrento - A. Stinga.

 
Beautiful majolica tiles set into a stone wall on a street in Sorrento
 
 
An inner church courtyard close to the hotel where weddings are often performed.
 
 



September 20, 2014

A September of Yellows and Greens

 
 
Pattern: Simple K2P2 Ribbing
Yarns: Handmaiden Casbah (Cedar or Moss)
             Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (Natural)
             Malabrigo Sock (Ochre)
Needles: Circular - 2.25 mm
 
Handmaiden Yarns make me proud to be Nova Scotian! This local yarn company ships worldwide - gorgeous fibres in beautiful colours. I attended a "yarn tasting" at Have a Yarn in Mahone Bay this summer and had a chance to not only see all the Handmaiden yarns but to knit swatches with them as well. And they are all wonderful. Casbah is predominantly merino with 10% cashmere and 10% nylon. It is soft and squishy, warm and luxurious.
 
 
Pattern: Simple K2P2 Ribbing
Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Company Poste Yarn, Striping
Colour: Tropicana
Needles: Circular - 2.25 mm
 
Okay, these are NEON, to say the least! Far, far more NEON than I had expected upon ordering the yarn on line. However, Movita told me that her senior ballet students often wear colourful socks when warming up and she volunteered to get into the spirit with these ones if I knit them up. The yarn is a good basic yarn and Simply Socks is a great company - efficient order processing, low shipping costs, careful packaging, good customer service.
 

Pattern: wee Cardi
Designer: Donna Higgins
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Colour: Lemon (820)
Needles: Circular - 4.5 mm and 5 mm
 
wee Cardi is a sweet, easy, top down knit in worsted weight yarn. The pattern was designed with a 50% wool/50% alpaca blend that would make a lovely baby present. However, I am reluctant to give hand wash baby knits as gifts. It is very tempting, though, to knit this again in a slightly more luxurious yarn!

 
 
 



September 12, 2014

Happy Birthday, Golden Girl

 
 
 
 
 
 
Happy Birthday, Hadley
And thanks for the memories...

August 11, 2014

A Strokkur Of Another Sort

 

Strokkur is a fountain geyser in Iceland. It is located in a geothermal area in the southwest part of the country, east of Reykjavík. The popular tourist attraction erupts every five to ten minutes. The word strokkur means churn in Icelandic.
 

When Ysolda Teague, the extremely talented young Scottish knitter, designed a pullover pattern knit in Icelandic yarn (Létt-Lopi by Ístex), she called it Strokkur.

 

 
Pattern: Strokkur
Designer: Isolda Teague
Yarn: Létt-Lopi by Ístex
Colours: Blue (1403); Grey (0054); Rose (9428)
Needles: Circular - 5.0 mm

This was such an enjoyable pattern to knit. It was so well written that the garment simply flowed from the needles without a hitch. Strokkur is knit in the round, from the bottom up. The sleeves are knit separately, also in the round, and are joined to the pullover before starting the stranded colour work section of the yoke. The underarms are closed with a three needle bind off.
With this pattern, I used lifted increases for the first time, as well as unwrapped short rows, and Ysolda's version of Jenny's Incredibly Stretchy Bind Off. I will use all three techniques for sweaters I knit in the future.
The only modification I made was to shorten the sleeve length by about an inch. The pullover fits beautifully.
Thank you to my darling daughters for giving me a gift of the yarn and an afternoon at Romni Wool in Toronto to mull over the colours and make my final selection.

July 26, 2014

Happy Birthday, Beautiful!

 
Nora is two years old today.


 She spent yesterday getting the full spa treatment at The Dog Shop in Mahone Bay.


 Happy Birthday, Beautiful.
And Happy Birthday to Nora's siblings as well - Martin, Ralphie, Darcy and all the rest!