Tag Archives: travel

Spoiled

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There is no doubt that this is shaping up to be an excellent summer. Just a few days after our camping trip I was headed back up to the shores of Lake Huron (though not so far north as Georgian Bay) for a cottage weekend. An old friend of mine is getting married and in lieu of a bar hopping bachelorette we spent a weekend away (and on the beach). The weather was perfect, and the water is warm enough for swimming, and it was gorgeous.

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I knit in the car on the way there, which ended up being hilarious in the stop-and-go traffic since a guy in the lane next to us was fascinated by what I was doing. He stared and, when his lane got moving, actually slowed down so we could catch up! He seemed completely entertained by the idea of someone knitting (or, at least the idea of someone his own age knitting). His amusement entertained us as well, which made for a pretty funny drive. I snuck in a little beach knitting too, and my Summer Skyp socks are coming along nicely. I’m staying home this weekend, but I’m looking forward to turning my attention to Halligarth, which is proving to be a very enjoyable knit, especially when accompanied by a podcast or audiobook.

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Going Coastal

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L and I had a great time in Nova Scotia last week. Mostly we spent our time hanging out with family and friends and eating really good food. It was a short trip, so there wasn’t too much sightseeing (unless you count various restaurant interiors and living rooms), but here’s a taste of our trip.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy's Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy's Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

The famous lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove. It was a bright and sunny day in Halifax, but when we got to Peggy’s Cove it was quite chilly. The upside, of course, was there was almost no one else there.

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy's Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

Besides the lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove remains an active fishing village (lobster being the main catch, I think).

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi'kmaq god Glooscap.

This is the classic view as you drive into the Annapolis Valley. The tide is in and that long dark peninsula-looking thing is Blomidon, a provincial park and legendary home to the Mi’kmaq god Glooscap.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

The beach at the base of Blomidon. The tide is somewhere between a third of the way and halfway out. That speck in the middle is L.

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

We walked along the beach for a little while and, despite the sun, it was freezing. The point up ahead is the very tip of the mountain (which looks like a peninsula from farther away).

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

Crocuses! My parents have amazing gardens, but at this time of year all the glory goes to the crocuses, which offer a welcome riot of colour after the winter.

I mentioned before that one of the things I was hoping to do was find some yarn. Specifically, a match to this skein. I am thrilled (and, honestly, pretty surprised) to report success! The woman who dyed this yarn lives quite close to my parents, and she invited my mum and I over to see if she could find a match. She raises sheep and has a Suri Alpaca, spins and dyes yarn. Marilyn is amazing. I didn’t take any pictures, since we were in her house, but the big basket of handspun sitting in her living room was incredible. Anyway, it turns out that the yarn I was trying to match is a wool/mohair blend dyed by her but spun at the MacAusland woolen mill in PEI. The mill doesn’t use any harsh chemicals, so there is still some VM in the finished wool, but that doesn’t bother me. Plus, Marilyn explained that the chemicals actually weaken the yarn, so if that bit of VM means my garments will last longer, I’m doubly fine with it.

I think the grey is soft enough that I'm not worried about the bumblebee effect.

I think the grey is soft enough that I’m not worried about the bumblebee effect.

She had one skein left of the colourway I wanted, so I snapped it right up. She also had a few other colours – a really beautiful green, a variegated green/gold/grey, and some undyed skeins. I was really taken with the green, but I’m trying really hard not to buy single skeins unless there’s good yardage (or a plan), so I resisted and went with the two undyed skeins instead, which gives me just under 400 yds of each colour. I really like the grey/yellow combination, and am thinking this will either become the small version of Westloop (the leading contender) or the Great Divide shawl.

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:  Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan's Island  Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeinds Swan's Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

The full haul, l-r, top to bottom:
Two skeins undyed yarn from Marilyn; Swan’s Island Organic Fingering weight in Vintage Lilac, two skeins Swan’s Island Washable DK in Midnight (for a new hat for L), yellow/gold skein from Marilyn; Four skeins Fleece Artist Wool Tweed

Of course, that isn’t all I picked up. I was in a bit of a mood I guess, and before I knew it there were 10 skeins of yarn to fit into my bag on the way home. The bottom row (above) is all from Gaspereau Valley Fibres, which had a ton of new stock (at least compared to my last visit) and is definitely my LYS-away-from-home (or at home, depending on how you define things). The Swan’s Island is from Loop, a yarn shop in Halifax that I’d never been to but had a chance to check out this time. The Lilac is for me and the Midnight is for a new hat for L. I have at least tentative plans for everything I bought, and have already cast on some of the Fleece Artist — spring knitting, here I come!

A Swissmas miracle

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Thank you all for your crossed fingers and sympathy! I’m never sure whether to post about bad news, but sometimes you just need to talk to people who understand. Anyway, this is a story with a happy ending: I got my knitting back!

Holiday socks!

Holiday socks!

The day after it went missing, my dad, Jenny (my youngest sister) and I went to skiing at Verbier. We left early, so I didn’t have a chance to go into the village and look for my knitting. I was pretty sure all was lost (I’m optimistic by nature, but sometimes it’s best to prepare for the worst), so on the way home, we searched around for a knitting shop where I could at least get another set of needles. It took a while, but we managed to get to a Migros, which is sort of like a Swiss Walmart, and they had needles! The selection was limited, but I wasn’t in a position to be fussy, so I snapped up a set of grey 2.5 mm dpns.

When we got back, though, my mum and Connie (middle sister) had big smiles. They’d been into the village to make some inquiries. Their first stop was the ski outfitter, where I was sure my knitting had fallen out of my bag, and it was there! Apparently, when they owner had arrived in the morning, my little knitting bag was sitting on the windowsill. They were apparently totally baffled by magic loop, but thought the self-striping yarn was cheating!

I finished the first sock this morning and am a couple of inches into the second one. I won’t have a new pair of socks to wear tomorrow, but I suspect I’ll finish them before my flight lands in Toronto on Thursday.

Merry Christmas to you all! I hope your holidays are wonderful (and wooly)!

The view from the refuge (at about 3,000 metres) where we took a coffee break yesterday. (Photo taken by my sister Jenny)

The view from the refuge (at about 3,000 metres) where we took a coffee break yesterday. (Photo taken by my sister Jenny)

A major snag

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You know how sometimes, when things seem to be going really well, despite all kinds of barely-avoided pitfalls? Well, it seems the other shoe has dropped. Today, after finishing the gusset decreases on my sock and getting over half-way through the foot, I lost my little knitting bag. In it was my yarn, needles, tape measure, and mostly-knit sock.

The view from the apartment early this morning. (Standing in the same place and turning 90 degrees to the right would give me the view from yesterday's photo.)

The view from the apartment early this morning. (Standing in the same place and turning 90 degrees to the right would give me the view from yesterday’s photo.)

I know it’s a small thing. I know that it isn’t a  make-or-break the holidays thing. I know I’m in Switzerland with my family. I know all of this, but still, I’m upset. You know how knitting is soothing and can helps manage stress? Well, I love my family, but sometimes when we’re all together I really need to knit, if you know what I mean. I knit during long car rides on impossibly winding roads, and while we’re sitting around together in the evenings, and especially on long transatlantic flights.

We were already on the road to Geneva to meet my sister's flight as the sun was just starting to break over the top of the mountains.

We were already on the road to Geneva to meet my sister’s flight as the sun was just starting to break over the top of the mountains.

I was, in fact, so concerned that I might get through my knitting early (and, at the rate I was going, probably would have had a pair of socks by Christmas) that I packed extra yarn. The rub? I didn’t pack extra needles. So now I’m here, with my knitting lost, extra yarn, and no needles. I’ve been doing some Googling and it looks like this is the closest knitting store, and it’s an hour away. I e-mailed the owner and I am super hoping it isn’t closed for the holidays. I have a long return flight alone, and without something to knit, that time is stretching out before me in a very daunting way.

I’m not without hope, though. I’m pretty sure I know where the knitting fell out of the car. We went back there tonight and no one had handed it in, but I was quick, so maybe they just hadn’t had time. I mean, who wants to hold onto someone else’s knitting, right? And any knitter would turn it in to the nearest shop or tourist office, right? (Right!?) I’m going skiing tomorrow and I’m going to spend the day believing in the goodness of people. Tomorrow evening, I’m going to make another round of inquiries with my fingers crossed.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Same mountains as the first photo, but taken from the road farther down the mountains and looking back north.

Same mountains as the first photo, but taken from the road farther down the mountains and looking back north.

(Since I can’t show you pictures of what I’ve lost, I thought maybe a selection of mountains would be in order.)

The view from here

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On Monday, I finished all my gift knitting. I can’t believe it took me this long to say it. I think, as crazy as this will sound, that I was worried that saying it out loud/in writing on the Internet would be the trigger to realize I’d forgotten about people and leave me scrambling. But that didn’t happen (yet) and now it’s too late – I’m in Switzerland.

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The view off over the village. It’s like a Christmas card over here.

Surprise! Yesterday, I left Toronto in huge scrambled hurry: not only did my sister realize her passport was expired – thank goodness we’re dual British citizens! – but it turned out my flight was not at 10:15 p.m. as I thought but instead at 5:30! Yeah, we’re disasters all around. But, it all worked out (holiday miracle!) and this morning/the middle of last night (depending on your point of view) we landed in Geneva. Tomorrow my other sister joins us and all five of us – my parents, my two sisters, and I – will all be together for the first time since last Christmas. Very exciting.

We dawdled on the way from the city to the little town where we’re staying, and the market in Lausanne had yarn for sale at the first booth, which I take as a good sign (I didn’t buy any, because I didn’t have any Swiss francs. Sigh) It got dark about an hour after we arrived at the apartment, but I’ll have more photos soon.

It's late in the day so the light is kind of crappy. The green isn't actually quite that dark, but you get the idea.

It’s late in the day so the light is kind of crappy. The green isn’t actually quite that dark, but you get the idea.

In the meantime, check out the progress on these Christmas socks! The striping is just perfect, if I do say so myself – they look just like the vintage Christmas balls that (I’m guessing) inspired the colourway.

I did not get lost in Boston

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These globes (each one meant to demonstrate green living) were everywhere. I loved that this one is wearing a rooftop garden like a jaunty hat.

These globes (each one meant to demonstrate green living) were everywhere. I loved that this one is wearing a rooftop garden like a jaunty hat.

Well, no, I did, but I made it back okay. Readjusting to regular life post-holiday has been a little crazy. It’s always a struggle, but for a bunch of reasons (including an angry little cat who refused to let me sleep), this time was harder. As a result, I’m behind on a bunch of things, but most especially I am shamefully behind on thanking you all for your excellent suggestions about where I should go and what I should do while in Boston! One of these days I’m going to write up little travel pages for each place I go, just so your trip advice won’t get lost in the archives.

One thing I learned by walking everywhere: Boston knows how to do window boxes.

One thing I learned by walking everywhere: Boston knows how to do window boxes.

Boston was an excellent city for solo travel (L was with me, but he spent most of his time doing conference things). Apparently the week we were there was the best weather they’d had all August, which meant bright and sunny and hot days – it was glorious. It was so nice, in fact, that I didn’t go to a single museum (I would have, but then L wanted to go see USS Constitution, which I’d already seen, but it was his only free time and how could I argue?) Basically this just means I’ll have to go back, and I’m pretty okay with that.

Freedom! (as long as you follow the path)

Freedom! (as long as you follow the path)

I sort of told you about Monday already, but on Tuesday I took to following the red brick line of the Freedom Trail. It was the hottest day (at that point – I think it got hotter later in the week) that Boston had had all August, so I slathered on the sunscreen and bought some water and went at it. I started in the Boston Common and took a guided tour as far as Faneuil Hall. It was exactly the kind of thing I would have hated as a teenager (our guide was dressed in period costume), but as an adult, I loved it. It has been a long time since I took American history, so all the extra details were both fun and helpful.

So tempting.

So tempting.

After the tour ended, I wandered around Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall for a bit before continuing on my way, which let me past the fabulous Mike’s Pastry, through Little Italy, and over a very serious bridge to the USS Constitution and from there, up to the Bunker Hill memorial: 294 steps are, it seems, no problem to get up, but after descending my legs were shaking so much I had to hold on to stay standing. And then I had to walk all the way back. It was a slow and painful walk (and my calves hurt for days), but it was worth it.

View from the end of Fan Pier. I love that waterfront architecture.

View from the end of Fan Pier. I love that waterfront architecture.

The next day, still in a bit of pain, I went over to Fort Point and poked around some of the little shops and restaurants. I also walked Fan Pier, which was lovely and offered a totally different Boston skyline than the one I’d become accustomed to seeing.

See what I mean about the window boxes?

See what I mean about the window boxes?

I did do some shopping in Boston, but sadly had no way to get to Webs. I did find one yarn shop, but it was so expensive ($69 for a 100g, 400-yard skein of 80% merino, 20% cashmere?) that I just left. I actually knit very little while I was away. I finished the first of my Skyp Socks on the plane heading home, and although I cast on for the second one, it’s one week later and I’m only two inches in. (After Boston we went to Ann Arbor for a wedding, which didn’t allow for much knitting either.) Luckily there’s a long weekend coming up and we have no plans at all.

So, what did you get up to last week? I’m still catching up on all my blog reading and e-mail responding, so if you get a barrage of comments/replies, that’s why.

Guess where I am

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Hotel room view.

Hotel room view.

Prayer flags for victims of the Boston bombing.

Prayer flags for victims of the Boston bombing.

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Well, okay, that last one gave it away. I have never been to Boston before, but L is presenting at a conference here, so I tagged along. We got in on Sunday evening, which gives me three and a half days in the city, more or less on my own.

Yesterday I wandered around Beacon Hill, sat happily and knit in the Common, got lost in Chinatown, went to Fenway and then strolled along Newbury St. Today my plan is to walk the Freedom Trail, and then I have no idea. Any suggestions? I want to go to the aquarium (apparently there is a newborn seal pup, as if I needed any convincing) and the inflight Porter magazine was all about Fort Point, but what else should I see? Are there shops and/or cafes/restaurants/bars I should see (besides Cheers, which of course)? And, not that I need any yarn, but is there a knitting shop somewhere in this city? I tried Googling it yesterday and all the much-loved ones seem to have closed… Any tips?