Tag Archives: photos

Still in season

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So windy.

So windy. Also, it was brighter than it looks, hence the sun glasses. Sorry.

On Thursday it was 20C, this morning it snowed. What I’m saying is, I have been wearing my Woodstove Season cardigan quite a bit and it has been lovely. I’m so used to knitting small things and accessories that to knit an actual garment and then get to wear it around is a whole thing. It took me two months to wear the first socks I knit (I thought it was weird, but I was a fool) but it only took me a week (during which I thought I was going to knit pockets) from finishing to first public wear. I could get used to this whole sweater thing.

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It has taken us a while to coordinate, so when L had a minute this afternoon we went for a walk to finally take some proper finished photos. Of course, it was freezing, and insanely windy, but you have to take what you can get. I swear, my hair is usually less wild than this.

It typically flaps less when worn open, but you get the idea.

It typically flaps less when worn open, but you get the idea.

I am really happy with the way this turned out. The sleeves have enough ease to be comfortable with a long-sleeved shirt under them, but they aren’t loose, so they don’t add bulk under a jacket, and the buttons are spaced properly so there isn’t any gaping. I do wish I’d knit the collar a little longer and the body a little shorter, but honestly, those are such minor details that they’re pretty much inconsequential. This is designed to be a long cardigan, and it is, which is something I’m sure I’ll appreciate during the winter (no lower back draft!).

And buttoning the million buttons back up.

And buttoning the million buttons back up.

It hasn’t been long, but so far the yarn seems to be holding up well too. It’s a superwash, so it doesn’t have quite as much structure as an untreated yarn, but there haven’t been any signs of pilling yet and it’s holding its shape just fine.

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Crispy crispy chevrons.

Details
Pattern: Woodstove Season by Alicia Plummer
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted in Cyprus
Needles: 5.5mm for the body, 5mm for the collar and 4.5mm for the cuffs and bottom ribbing
Modifications: The biggest change was really the gauge. I knit this at 4.5 stitches to the inch instead of 4 stitches to the inch because, honestly, I just didn’t like the fabric when it was looser. This led to a false-start because I chose the wrong size initially. What I ended up with was something between the medium and the large, which was perfect. I made my buttonholes every 14th row (every 7th right-side row) instead of every 12th row, in part because my gauge was tighter so I could get away with it and in part because I wasn’t paying attention at the beginning and didn’t want to tink back two rows when it wasn’t going to make a difference anyway. To make my buttonholes work out I added two pattern rows to the body (after the end of the hip shaping and before the ribbing). I also picked up way more stitches in the armpit and decreased quickly and then slowly. All the details are Ravelled here.

I’d go back in a heartbeat

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The view from the veranda.

The view from the veranda.

There’s nothing like looking at vacation photos a few days after returning home to make you sigh wistfully. For me, holidays feel like time outside normal linear life-time, as if they happen adjacent to everything else. When I get back, it’s like I’ve never been gone, but also just had an amazing dream I can’t fully describe to people. Luckily, though, unlike dreams, vacations have photographic evidence. (Also, none of these photos have been edited or colour corrected, so yes, the water really is that colour. I couldn’t believe it either.)

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Since we’ve been back it has snowed (and then melted) and I’ve been sick (and gotten mostly better), L has been hard at work on his thesis, we’ve had (and still have) house guests, and Ganymede has been her most cuddly self ever. It’s nice to be back, but man, if you told me I could go back to Eleuthra tomorrow, I would be at the airport in no time (my speed would be helped by the fact that I’ve only half-unpacked).

Rainbow Bay Beach. You can see our house just up the shore (it has the gazebo).

Rainbow Bay Beach. You can see our house just up the shore (it has the gazebo).

Our time in Eleuthra (an island in the Bahamas) overlapped partly with one aunt and uncle (my dad’s middle brother and his wife) and partly with the other aunt and uncle (my dad’s youngest brother and his wife) and entirely with my grandparents, with whom we stayed. My grandparents have been going to Eleuthra in March for the last several years and I can absolutely see why. It’s pretty far north as far as the Caribbean goes (it’s about 60 miles off the Florida coast) so it’s more temperate than the islands farther south (I’d say the temperature ranged from 15 to 30C, and it was only 15 one evening when there was a breeze). Being in the north also means the flight is pretty short, which is a major bonus.

The beach outside Tippy's, which had the best pina colada and mojito I've ever tasted. Ever.

The beach outside Tippy’s, a beach-side bar had the best pina colada and mojito I’ve ever tasted. Ever.

The thing that really won us over, though, was that there were no resorts on the island. There’s a fair bit of tourism (it’s their main industry), but it’s tucked away in small hotels and guest houses and in rental homes, like the one we stayed in. We went out for drinks and lunch some days, but we made most of our meals in the house. We drove around to lots of beaches (Eleuthra has some amazing beaches), but we also swam off the boat slip in front of the house, or at the beach just down the shore. We went for walks and read and knit (well, I knit) and L kayaked and in general, the six of us hung out did our thing.

Ben Bay Beach (at the northern tip of the island) was an amazing beach.

Ben Bay Beach (at the northern tip of the island) was an amazing beach. It was a little tricky to get to, but, well, look at it! How could that not be worth it?

My dad’s family all lives in out East, so I don’t get to see them very often, and L hasn’t seen them in years, so in addition to being a thoroughly enjoyable holiday in its own right, the family time was invaluable.

I'm avoiding family photos, since I didn't ask first, so instead I give you dolphins! These look like they're in a pool, but they're 100% wild and we saw them when leaving Spanish Wells, the cold, colonial town/island off Eleuthra's northwest side.

I’m avoiding family photos, since I didn’t ask first, so instead I give you dolphins! These look like they’re in a pool, but they’re 100% wild and we saw them when leaving Spanish Wells, the old, colonial town/island off Eleuthra’s northwest side.

Truly, I would go back in heartbeat. And, if you go (or want to), let me know so that I can a) travel vicariously, and b) tell you about all my favourite places that didn’t make it into this post.

It tended to cloud over at night, so there weren't many great sunsets, but boy, when the sunset was visible, it was stunning.

It tended to cloud over at night, so there weren’t many great sunsets, but boy, when the sunset was visible, it was stunning.

New York yarn shops

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Well, that ellipsis lasted longer than I had intended. This week got away from me, and while I could tell you all about the moose gloves (fingers are super weird to knit), I promised to write about yarn shops in New York. We left the city on Friday morning, mere hours before the VKL marketplace opened, but that was probably for the best, because I got quite an odd look from the customs guy when I told him that I had purchased “shirts, books, and yarn,” so it’s definitely good that everything came under the allowed amount because I think they would have been very confused about how to charge duty on yarn.

Anyway, we really only made it two yarn shops, because I didn’t want to highjack the trip and, while L and I are generally very supportive and indulgent of each other, I try not to push it. Also, we did this part of the trip on his birthday.

First up was Lion Brand Studios. I’ve never actually knit with any Lion Brand anything before (I’m not sure it’s that big a deal in Canada, but I might be wrong about that), but I had heard about its amazing window displays and wanted to see the shop in person. Let me just say, even if you intend to buy nothing, it is still worth a visit. The front window was incredible (despite the scaffolding erected in front of it) and the shop itself is small and cozy and fun.

The reflections are annoying, but since taking a photo straight on was impossible, this was the best I could do.

The reflections are annoying, but since taking a photo straight on was impossible, this was the best I could do.

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Everything in the window was knitted, including the swans and trees, which L thought was pretty incredible. (He thought I should make sure to get a photo of the swan's feet on the blog, so take a good look.)

Everything in the window was knitted, including the swans and trees, which L thought was pretty incredible. (He thought I should make sure to get a photo of the swan’s feet on the blog, so take a good look.)

One of my favourite things in the shop was the “Testing Wall,” where you could get some yarn and swatch it before buying. This is so smart, and something I’d love to see more of. I didn’t take advantage of it while we were there (it being L’s birthday and all), but I definitely would on a future visit.

Such a good idea.

Such a good idea.

I also really enjoyed that the knitting-related decor didn’t end with the window display. I didn’t even notice this needle light shade when I first passed it, and while I was taking a picture another woman came to see what I was doing and laughed when she noticed it. Genius.

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What to do with your giant-needle collection.

Next up was Purl Soho, which was the real destination. I’ve been reading their blog since I first started knitting, and very much wanted to see the shop in person. It was getting dark (and cold) by the time we got there, so I didn’t get a shot of the window, but I did take this one from just inside the front door.

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It’s a bit deceptive how big this makes the shop look, but the back half is all sewing and fabric. Yarn wise, they had many beautiful things, but I knew what I wanted, and I wanted Brooklyn Tweed (which you cannot get in Canadian shops, at least as far as I know). I splurged a little (it’s New York!) and bought five skeins of Shelter: two in Plume, two in Hayloft, and one in Snowbound. We went and grabbed lemonade (why? I couldn’t say) and I started swatching.

Yum yum yum. The hayloft is really more mustard than green, but it's tricky to photograph.

Yum yum yum. The Hayloft is really more mustard than green, but it’s tricky to photograph.

Plume up close. I am in love with this colour.

Plume up close. I am in love with this colour.

I have definite plans for this purchase, but they remain secret for now. I will say, though, that Shelter is a dream to knit with. It’s rustic and lofty a very soft, which is everything I want to knit with right now – I just need to finish those moose gloves! Speaking of which, I should really go do that since I’m just four fingers and a thumb from finished. Have a lovely weekend!

Two and a half days in New York

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Before the parage of photos begins, let me put things in context. L and live in Toronto, the largest city in Canada. The population of Toronto (and area) is about 5 million. To put that in context, that is more than five times the population of Nova Scotia, my home province. So yeah, for me, moving to Toronto was a pretty big adjustment for me. So, it would stand to reason that going to New York City, population 8 million-ish, should be overwhelming. Oddly, though, it isn’t. It might be because we’ve both been there and know what to expect, or that we’ve travelled quite a bit, but I suspect it’s because New York is so ubiquitous. I mean, you can walk into a neighbourhood you’ve never been to, on streets you can’t name, and recognize something from a TV show or a movie, and that makes New York not at all intimidating.

All of which is to say that we had a great time. We had pretty crappy weather for the first couple of days (cold and raining/sleeting), but our third day was crisp and clear, so it all balanced out – I always figure it’s good to get at least one rainy day when you’re in a big city since you’re probably going to go to a bunch of museums and things anyway.

So, without further ado, here’s a selection of things we did in New York:

1. Walk around Central Park: We were staying on the Upper East Side, so it was close by, and who can resist, really?

Central Park: We were staying on the Upper East Side, so it was close by. (This is, as best as I can figure, the bridge in Home Alone 2.)

This is, as best as I can figure, the bridge in Home Alone 2.

2. Eat Ramen: This was near our friends’ place and is their favourite ramen place. It did not disappoint.

Eat Ramen: This was near our friends' place and is their favourite ramen place. It did not disappoint. (This is L's bowl, since the veggie ramen, while delicious, was less photogenic.)

This is L’s bowl, since the veggie ramen, while delicious, was less photogenic.

3. Visit the Museum of Natural History. I’m pretty sure this is where the Night at the Museum movies were filmed, and with good reason – it is awesome. We spent an entire (rainy) day here, and didn’t even make it through half.

The Hall of Biodiversity wasn't even an exhibit we were intending to go to, but it was so full of lovely things we stopped in anyway.

The Hall of Biodiversity wasn’t even an exhibit we were intending to go to, but it was so full of lovely things we stopped in anyway.

More biodiversity. There was just so much to look at.

More biodiversity. There was just so much to look at.

Dinosaurs! I had never seen dinosaur skeletons before, so this was pretty cool. (We also saw the big sea life and North American mammals exhibits.)

Dinosaurs! I had never seen dinosaur skeletons before, so this was pretty cool. (We also saw the big sea life and North American mammals exhibits.)

4. The Empire State Building. Neither of us had been, and since we had free tickets (our friends had leftover City Passes) we figured we should go. It turns out that if you go before 11 on a Thursday, there’s no line!

The Chrysler Building is pretty magnificent.

The Chrysler Building is pretty magnificent.

I love all the water towers on top of the downtown buildings. I'd never noticed them before, but I'm smitten.

I love all the water towers on top of the downtown buildings. I’d never noticed them before, but I’m smitten.

5. Walk the High Line. We started at 28th Street and walked all the way to the end, stopping for lunch at Chelsea Market. I cannot recommend this highly enough – what an awesome way to experience New York.

The High Line was a definite highlight. We started at 28th Street and walked all the way to the end, stopping for lunch at Chelsea Market. I cannot recommend this highly enough – what an awesome way to experience New York.

Yes, it was cold (I have a shawl on under that scarf), but it was sunny and beautiful. I wish we had something like this in Toronto.

6. See the city at night. You basically can’t avoid this (especially at this time of year), but still. Walking around downtown at night is immensely satisfying and lovely (and cold!)

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The arch in Washington Square Park plus the Empire State Building, all lit up.

My mum always says that you can’t do everything in one trip or you have no excuse to go back, so true to that we didn’t make it nearly everywhere we wanted to, and we’re okay with that. We did, however, make it to some yarn shops, but that will be its own post later this week.

It’s Boxing Day and the knitting is easy

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I finished! It was a bit close – I cast off and blocked my dad’s hat on Christmas Eve – but I finished on time and without tears. What makes this really impressive (at least to me) is that on Dec. 20, after arriving in New Brunswick, I cast on for my Christmas socks because I needed some public knitting. I worked on them at my grandparents’ (and then knit on the mittens in secret at night) and then in the car on the way to Nova Scotia (a 4.5 hours drive) and then around the house, and managed to finish the first one in just three days! So, that means I finished a mitten, knit two thumbs, most of a hat, and a sock in four days. While socializing and shopping and eating and everything else that the holidays require. Not bad, I say.

I was just starting the pattern of the second sock on Christmas morning.

I was just starting the pattern of the second sock on Christmas morning.

I’ll do a proper Christmas post later this week, but I just wanted to pop in and wish you all Happy Holidays – I hope your Christmas (or just your Tuesday, if you don’t celebrate) was wonderful and well spent. I’m never sure if this is my last Christmas at home, so I always try to make the most of it, including going on chilly hikes with my dad on Christmas day. Here are a few shots from that to carry you through your turkey leftovers.

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We’ve hiked the same trail on Christmas day for years, and it never disappoints.

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If you look closely, you can see that my dad is wearing his new hat.

If you look closely, you can see that my dad is wearing his new hat.

The tide was mostly in when we started, but way out by the time we got back to the car.

The tide was mostly in when we started, but way out by the time we got back to the car.

If it’s going to rain, it’s good to be at home

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I’m not sure how we managed it, but the best weather of our trip was when we were camping. I don’t know if my morale would have held up if I’d had to hike out (and up) in the rain, and the drive from Cape Breton back to the Annapolis Valley (about 6 hours) would definitely have been wasted on bad weather. It’s just as well, then, that it didn’t rain until next day, our first full day at home.

Rain in Nova Scotia is not like rain in Toronto. In Toronto, we rarely get a full day of consistently torrential rain; in Nova Scotia, a rainy day is a very rainy day. Very rainy. Luckily, we were coming off several days of outside activity, so an indoor day wasn’t entirely unwelcome. I blogged, L caught up on some work, and then I taught my sister to knit.

Would you just look at that concentration?

Her birthday was last month, and I told her that, as a present, I’d give her a knitting lesson. She came by the shop a few weeks ago and picked out her wool (she went with Berocco Ultra Alpaca in a pea green sort of colour, which was a good beginner’s choice, I think) and since we were going to be visiting our parents at the same time, we decided that would be a good time to start. I packed needles, she packed wool, and on Wednesday, the lesson began. I taught her the cable cast-on, and then knitting and purling, so she can make a nice stockinette scarf. I thought about just teaching her to knit a garter stitch scarf, but that gets boring after a while and you may as well learn both stitches from the get-go.

Jenny does not like purling, but otherwise was doing well. I had to rip out a few sections for her (at her request, I should add) because of holes and, twice, because she’d reversed the stockinette, but by Sunday she had a pretty good hang of it. She’s going to come visit to learn how to cast off.

After the first rainy day, the weather improved a little. It was still overcast and wet, but not full-on raining, so we decided to head out for the afternoon. We went wine tasting. The area where I grew up has steadily become wine country (there are six wineries within 20 minutes of my parents’ house) and the wines are fantastic. We set out to visit all of them, but because the tastings are so generous and plentiful, we had to stop after four.

While I do not know what kind of grape this is (it’s about a month from harvest, though), I can tell you it was at the Sainte-Famille winery.

It was a grey day, but the view from Muir Murray (that’s Blomidon on the horizon) is always gorgeous.

We visited (and tasted at) Sainte-Famille, Muir Murray, and Gaspereau Vineyards, and also walked around the Domaine de Grand Pre winery, but decided we needed a breather. We still bought six bottles of wine: two bottles of maple wine (did you know you could ferment maple syrup? Neither did I), a maple port, a Muscat, a Baco Noir, and a Marechal Foch. Nova Scotia is acclaimed for its white wines, but I find it hard to pass up its reds. (My dad, deciding that wasn’t enough, then bought us a seventh bottle at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market on Saturday – Blomidon Estate Winery‘s Tidal Bay (a white), which we tasted at the market and agreed was very good. The winery is just down the street from my parents’ and because we both already know and enjoy their wine, we didn’t stop in.)

I think visiting twice each time I’m home is totally reasonably and normal behaviour.

Our little wine tour brought us past Gaspereau Valley Fibres, one of my most favourite yarn shops. Yes, we stopped in. It was there knitting day, so the shop was filled with happy knitters. Honestly, between that and all the new fibre, I was so overwhelmed I didn’t buy anything. Then, of course, I kicked myself all the way home. We went back the next day. (I’ll tell you about that on Wednesday).

We had five days at home, and while I would have been quite content to knit and read and hang out, L wanted to be out doing stuff (and rightly so – he didn’t grow up there). On Friday we went into Halifax for the afternoon with Jenny. Our third sister Connie (the middle) was working, so we walked around Point Pleasant Park and then met up with some friends for coffee before having to scoot home where my parents were hoping to have dinner in the garden.

It’s kind of amazing to think that this park juts out into the water beside the Halifax seaport and is still so lovely and wild-seeming.

Unfortunately, before we made it back, it was rainy again. We thought we could tough it out, but then it started pouring, so we gave in. This is what it would have looked like though, if the weather had behaved.

My parents (especially my dad) do gardening on a different scale than most people. This is the eating shelter in the walled garden in the meadow. Yeah, I know.

On Saturday, we went to the market (as I mentioned) for breakfast and then went hiking. My dad, Jenny, and L went off to Cape Split (which is a gorgeous hike) and my mum and I walked the dikes instead (in this context, dikes are the earthen walls built to keep the ocean out of the plains where the farmers have their fields, just in case you were wondering), which is a very nice long walk.

Another view of Blomidon, this time including mud flats! The tides in the Bay of Fundy (and the Minas Basin) are the highest in the world, and the water level rises and falls 50 vertical feet twice a day. Thus, when the tide is out, there are kilometres of mud flats, and when it’s in, everything is covered.

The tide was out, unfortunately, but we still saw two bald eagles and soaked in some sunshine. We all managed to get home at more or less the same time, and then L and I headed back into Halifax for dinner and a birthday party at the Keith’s Brewery.

Walking around the “garden” (my parents have 5 acres) is a singular pleasure, and often the cats will trot along with you. Here they are (Cosma on the left, Samya on the right) doing a sort of synchronized rolling routine in the bocci court. It was adorable.

In addition to the walled garden, the traditional walk also includes the ponds, which are in the ravine behind the house. It’s a pretty nice place to visit.

Sunday was lovely and sunny, so naturally we spent that day packing. Considering how full our bags were in the first place (hiking + camping + regular visiting = a lot of gear), I think we did quite well to fit seven bottles of wine into our packs. My yarn purchases required an extra bag, but even that seemed reasonable. We loaded up the car and drove back into Halifax to visit with Connie and then head to the airport to fly back to Toronto. I can hardly believe I have to go back to work today, but I guess that’s the sign of a good vacation.

Cape Breton, you beauty

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It’s true. Even if, like me, you know that Cape Breton is supposed to be lovely and picturesque and scenic and all that, it is still jaw dropping. I mean, it’s spectacular. That’s what we kept saying over and over, for the entire four days we were there. L or I, or both of us, would look out at the view and say “Well. That’s friggin’ spectacular,” and then shake our heads.

We arrived in Cape Breton late Saturday afternoon. We flew into Halifax (and, if we’re being honest, very nearly missed our flight out of Toronto. We had to run, and arrived gasping at the check in, and only just managed to board. It was uncomfortably tight, and I was so flustered it took me three tries to get the cast-on right for the Spruce Jaywalkers.) and picked up our rental and drove to Baddeck. We got in around 5 and I must say I was thrilled to see we were staying here:

The Inverary Resort.

Before heading into the woods for two nights, it’s nice to spend in a night in a good bed, you know?

On Sunday morning, we left Baddeck and headed for the famous Cabot Trail, which just so happens to be the only good way to get to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. They aren’t kidding when they call this drive scenic. We stopped a few times to take in the views (and stretch our legs).

Oh, just some ocean, no big deal.

We made it to the park around midday and loaded up our packs. The hike into our campsite was 6 km, almost entirely downhill. We started at the top of Mackenzie Mountain (335 m) and hiked down to sea level. The forest there is kind of striated, with spruce at the top giving way to birch trees surrounded by a carpet of ferns, which gives way to more spruce, which ends with a mix of oak, maple and birch (and a few spruce) at the bottom of the river valley.

Fishing Cove River to the left, our trail to the right; pretty lovely all around.

It was a lovely hike, and it took us here, to Fishing Cove, which was our home for two days and nights.

The view back up the valley from the beach.

Little tent in the big woods.

On the first night we sat up on the cliff and watched the sun set and were lucky enough to see a pod of porpoises (like dolphins) swim across the mouth of the cove just as the water was reflecting all the red and pink and yellow light of setting sun. It was, well, spectacular.

Sunset in Fishing Cove.

Fishing Cove has eight sites, and on our first night, they were all filled. Ours was tucked a little bit back up the hill – still within view of the beach, but on its own – so it didn’t feel crowded. On our second night, though, we were the only campers, which made the cove feel wilder and more ours.

The view from the tent.

The next day, we got up early and hike out of Fishing Cove (6 km back up to where we left the car). From Fishing Cove there isn’t really anywhere to go, and we wanted to do some day hikes. We hiked the Skyline – all the along the spine of a mountain that juts out into the ocean. Part way into the hike, L and I were chatting when all of a sudden he said “moose!” and I turned around and say a lady moose having a snack about two metres away from me off the side of the trail.

Moose!

It seemed not at all concerned that we were there. I wasn’t sure it could get much better than that, but then when we got to the end we saw whales. Sure, we were at the top of the cliff and they were basking in the water down below, but still. We didn’t have binoculars, so I can’t say for sure, but I tend to think they were pilot whales, which are common off the coast and bigger than the equally as common mink whales, making them easier to see.

After we got back to the car, I was about ready to collapse. It turns out that the combination of sleeping on the ground (I do have a good sleeping mat, but still), hiking more or less uphill for 6 km and then hiking an additional 9 km pretty much immediately after has an adverse affect on my legs and hips. Who knew? Needless to say, I was in pain. Of course, we still had to hike back down to our campsite. There are two ways into Fishing Cove: the short way and the long way. We took the long way in on Sunday because we wanted a good hike and L wasn’t sure if his ankle (which he injured a few weeks ago) would be up to a steeper hike. On Monday, though, we decided to try the shorter hike. It’s the same vertical difference (335 m to sea level), but over 3 km instead of 6. Thus, much steeper, but also much shorter.

See that wee that little inlet way down there? Yeah, that’s Fishing Cove. It looks way farther when your legs are about to give out, let me tell you.

It’s also how we were going to hike out with all our gear on Tuesday, because the parking lots for the two trails are pretty far apart. I won’t lie, I was dreading it. The trail was steep (as expected) and also quite rocky. A good chunk of it looks like it used to be a creek bed (and almost certainly becomes one in the spring), so the rocks were loose underfoot. Between that and the pain in my legs, well, I was worried.

These cliffs were red anyway, but they glowed even redder at sunset.

As it turns out, I needn’t have been. Up is easier than down, and we hiked up and out with all our gear in under an hour! Honestly, if I were to camp at Fishing Cove again (and I think I would – it was gorgeous), I would do it this way again. The long trail is definitely a better downhill hike, because the ground is firmer and the incline not as steep, which made walking down with a pack not too treacherous. However, when climbing out I will take short and tough over long and just-about-as-tough any day. Fifty minutes of pain is, for me, preferable to two hours of pain. Otherwise, both are quite nice hikes through lovely woods, and I would recommend them.

L with his pack on the way in, and me with my pack after successfully hiking out. I don’t even look that tired!

In case you skimmed your way through this whole post wondering about the knitting for heaven’s sake! Don’t worry, there was knitting, and wool shopping, and it will get its own dedicated post. It’s worth the wait, I promise.

The Cabot Trail: totally fun to drive, but even better if you’re the passenger. L and I drove the scenic stretches through the park several times (out of necessity) and we took turns. It’s the best way.

The perils of the best laid plans

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Sometimes I guess it’s possible to both plan too well and not quite well enough. This was the case of the Leftover Socks, which were originally intended (as the name suggests) to use up some of the leftovers from my Colour Affection shawl. That was the original plan. I weighed a pair of socks I had recently knit and then weighed the wool I had left, and happily discovered that I had enough to knit proper socks (that is, not short socks, which I don’t like to wear).

I then weighed the two colours of wool separately and found that I had a bit more of the green than the grey, so I decided to knit green socks with grey cuffs, heels, and toes. Very cute, I thought. And the first one was, see:

Leftover sock 1 all finished and nice looking, and leftover sock 2 just before the heel with a deceptive amount of yarn still in the ball.

The thing is, I should have actually thought about the math a little. The amounts of yarn I had in green and grey were only different by about 20 grams, and together equaled a pair of socks. If I had thought about what this meant, I might have been able to foresee what would happen if I tried to actually knit socks that were almost entirely in one colour. You can see where this is going can’t you?

Sigh.

I got just past the heel in sock number 2 (not even entirely through the gusset! but I will say that knitting on a dock in Tobermory made me feel a little better) when I realized I was in trouble. I switched to grey, hoping to save enough of the green to the toe. I figured that this way, at least, the tops would match when I was wearing shoes/boots, and the feet would just look reversed if I was wearing pants and sock feet. Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be.

These are perhaps the most ridiculous socks I have ever knit. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I stripe them? Clearly I knit with the philosophy that if I don’t acknowledge the yarn is running out, it won’t run out. That belief was dashed this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, these are warm socks knit in lovely wool, and they will keep my feet warm even if they are unforgivingly fraternal and clearly knit on the fly. I know this, but would it have been too much to ask for a little symmetry? It’s the stupid toe that really kills me.

Leftovers of the leftovers.

To take the edge off the disappointment I’m sure you’re all feeling on my behalf, enjoy some Tobermory photos. It was a glorious weekend with good friends, nonsense socks (which are ravelled here, if you’re interested) notwithstanding.

We stayed in a different cottage this time around. Here’s the view from the deck (I spent some lovely time knitting on that dock.)

It was overcast and grey on the second night, but as you can see, the first night more than made up for it. Spectacular, it was.

The rocks at Half-Way Log Dump (in the Bruce Peninsula National Park) are pretty fantastic.

You can’t quite tell, but the water is tropical to look at. Even though it was cold, because you can jump in I did a lot swimming. I love swimming.

Tiny garment at top speed

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Dan and Jess. You can’t see it, because Jess is wearing a black shirt and sitting in a black chair, but she is very pregnant. It totally suits her.

See these happy people? These are my friends Jess and Dan, and they are expecting their first baby (gender unknown). Last week, Jess’s sister e-mailed to say she was planning a baby shower for Jess, for Saturday – a week and a half away. Jess is 32 weeks along, so I knew the baby was coming, I just didn’t know the shower was going to be so soon. Obviously, I decided to knit something, confident that despite the fact that the store opening was imminent (it was great, and there’s a post forthcoming), and that I work full time, and that I had freelance work to do, I could do it all.

I looked at a ton of patterns – I wanted a cardigan, not too fussy, and easy to knit here and there – and after considering this one, this one, and this one (which I think is more unisex than “boy”), I settled on the the Garter Stitch Baby Kimono, which is cute, all garter stitch, and a little stylish (also, thousands of people have knit it, and they can’t all be wrong, right?). After a false start with the yarn (I originally chose a very variegated yarn, before getting scared and trading it for something more subtle) I cast on. That was last Tuesday, Aug. 7 (and I literally only managed to cast on that day. Baby steps, as they say).

By Sunday, I had the better part of the body knit, and I was feeling pretty smug about how everything was going. I mean, look at this! The shower is a week away and I’m mere rows away from separating for the fronts and back!

Sunday. (Somehow, the fact that it took me six days to reach this point didn’t worry me.)

Also, check out these buttonholes. I am beyond proud. I find that yarn-over buttonholes (which the pattern calls for) can be a little messy and hard to find (especially in garter stitch), and if you’re dressing a squirming baby, you don’t want to be struggling with their sweater. These are very neat (as in tidy and interesting), and I found the tutorial here. I will probably make all my embedded buttonholes like this now.

Just look at how smooth and easy to see they are!

Anyway, that was Monday. By mid-afternoon on Thursday I was only here. I got the shoulders kitchenered together and a couple of rows into the first little sleeve and then had to go to the opening party.

Kind of funny looking, right?

By midnight on Friday (the night before the shower) I was barely into the second arm, and totally exhausted from a week of late nights, early mornings, and entirely full days.

Midnight on Friday (Saturday?). I am now getting worried. Also tired.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish the sleeve, soak the sweater, and lie it down on a towel to block. In my head, I was all It has all night to dry, it’ll be fine.Of course, “all night” actually just meant five hours, so when I got up on Saturday morning to weave in the ends and sew on the buttons, it was still wet. I sewed it all up anyway, drinking in the smell of damp wool as if it were just as good and heartening as coffee.

Saturday, 2 a.m. The shower is now less than 12 hours away.

It dried on the way to the shower (a two-hour drive away), because I laid it on a tea towel on the back shelf thing in my rental car. Here it is, not quite dry, but very much finished in time.

Saturday, 10 a.m. It isn’t dry, but it’s a finished sweater, albeit a tiny one.

It made the top of one of the gift stacks, and was passed around to all the relatives. It’s my first baby sweater and was the only handknit there. Jess was thrilled.

Folded and on top of the pile. I know I shouldn’t read anything into that, but I am anyway.

When I wasn’t frantically trying to knit this in between doing a million other things, I had time to really think about what I was doing. This is the first thing I’ve knit for someone outside my family (I count L as family), and that was a big deal. My family will forgive small mistakes, appreciate it because it came from me, and because they have an understanding of the work that goes into knitting, and while I know Jess gets hard work, I was feeling an extra push to be perfect.

This was a sweater for a baby being born into a family I care a lot about. It will keep him/her warm and cozy and cuddly, and possibly do the same for a future sibling. It’s a physical representation of love, and I wanted them to see that. Jess and I haven’t seen each other in over a year (jobs, addresses, etc. always seemed to interfere), so I wanted this to also show her how much I value her friendship, even when we’re out of touch, and how much I care about her family. That’s a lot of work for a little sweater, but I think I did okay. I hope it fits.

Details:
Pattern: Garter Stitch Baby Kimono
Yarn: Koigu KPM in colourway 1180 (somewhere between ruby and ripe raspberry)
Needles: Addi Turbos, size 3mm
Modifications: A bunch, but nothing crazy. It’s ravelled here, in case you want to make one just like it.

I loved knitting this. Garter stitch is wonderfully squishy and warm and perfect for a little wee newborn. I also like how easy it is to alter this pattern – a little double-breasted version would also be adorable, and totally easy to mod up; I also want to try a DK or worsted-weight version, which would definitely have been faster. The yarn was a great choice because not only did I not get tired of looking at it, but it was soft enough on my hand for me to know it’ll be nice on a baby, but also tightly enough spun that I know it will last to be handed down (assuming more kids come along down the road).

Tobermory weekend

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Last Thursday, L and I took off for a four-day weekend in Tobermory, on Ontario’s Georgian Bay (which is itself a bay on Lake Huron). Our good friend has a cottage there, and we consider ourselves very lucky to have been invited – trust me when I say it was very hard to make ourselves return to the city last night. We swam (it was cold!), kayaked, ate great food, hiked, played lots of games, and of course, I knit.

As often happens when you take a holiday, I now have a million things to catch up on, so here’s the weekend (more or less) in photos. I’ll write a proper post later this week.

Gin and tonic may be the ultimate cottage drink.

The shore in the evening.

Very strange rocks at the water’s edge.

Sunset, night 1.

Sunset, night 2.

Sunset, night 3.

This looks like the Caribbean, but I assure you it’s in Ontario, and that the water is freezing.

Oh yes, the knitting. This is Doublish by Alex Tinsley, and it’s going very well, if I do say so myself. More on that later.

Needless to say, the return to reality has been a little jarring.