We have a winner!

There were a total of 22 entries as of noon, Eastern time, today (January 1), for the giveaway of the very lovely Green Gables Knits. Continue reading

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Christmas chez Bees

Here’s what Christmas looked like where I was this year:

There was baking:

Merry Christmas

Christmas cookies! Earl grey meltaways, sugar cookies, orange chocolate chip cookies, white chocolate cranberry shortbread, orange gingersnaps, and also wee meringue peppermint drops from a Regency-era recipe.

Christmas baking

Plenty to share — which is a good thing, because our extended family exchanges food (baking, preserves, that sort of thing) for Christmas every year.

There was singing:

The Orange Peel Carollers, in a 2009 video

I sing with a group called the Orange Peel Carollers, an offshoot of my parents’ Morris dancing group, Orange Peel Morris. We sing old carols from the English village tradition, combined with old Canadian carols as well. We sang at the Fort York Frost Festival for the first time, which was a real highlight.

I also got together with other friends and carolled door-to-door, collecting for the food bank:

There’s one more festive, musical event on my Christmas calendar this year, as every year: Twelfth Night revelries in Cambridge (Ontario). There will be food, drink, carols, a mummer’s play, Morris dancing, and also Regency-style English Country Dancing. It’s always a highlight for me!

There was ice and snow:

We all got together despite the most incredible ice storm.

Ice storm

The tree outside our front door, early in the day, before the bulk of the ice had formed.

Our power was out for about 6.5 hours the day the storm hit, but thankfully it came back on before the sun went down or the house got too cold.

Laddie’s preserved rosebud

Ice-laden rosebuds — photo courtesy of my dad

There was incredible food:

Tourtiere

My father-in-law’s tourtière very nearly rivals my grandmother’s!

There was tourtière, there were TWO turkey dinners, there was peach pie and mincemeat pie and blueberry pie. There were, you know, a few cookies. There was baked french toast casserole, and bacon, and sausages. There was coffee cake for breakfast.

Poutine!

Phenomenal pub poutine — photo courtesy of my dad

There was also a wonderful pub lunch with excellent local grub!

And there was drink:

Cheers!

Cheers to family! — photo courtesy of my dad

There were hopeful dogs:

Hopeful dogs

Nike, Laney, and Tux “helping” my mother-in-law in the kitchen

There was crafting with family:

Sharpie tiles

Sharpie tiles!

Gillian suggested that we find a craft to do together one evening, so we collected ideas on Pinterest. This idea, from the Sharpie website, seemed particularly promising. We got some blank white tiles, some permanent markers, and a spray-bottle of rubbing alcohol, and went to town. You just doodle on the tile, and then spritz it or dab it or drizzle it with rubbing alcohol. Because the permanent markers are alcohol-based, the rubbing alcohol re-dissolves the pigment, and lets it redistribute on the surface of the tiles. When it evaporates, you can add more alcohol to continue messing with the design, until you’re happy with it. We also doodled on the ‘finished’ tiles with metallic pens, adding to the patterns created by the drips of alcohol. I experimented with tiles coloured with just one shade (the black and purple ones above) as well as more intricate designs, and it couldn’t be easier to get cool results! Now I just need to find some sealant to protect the final product, and maybe some silicone to make little ‘feet’ to turn these into coasters.

And of course, there was knitting!

Fingerless gloves for Gillian

Fingerless gloves for Gillian

I promised Gillian a while ago that I’d make some fingerless gloves for her, to go with the ‘Bacon cowl‘ (which I still need to blog about). I used the pattern for the awesome Rusalka gloves from Knitting New Mittens and Gloves, but omitted the fancy beaded cuff in favour of some sturdier ribbing. The main thing I like about this pattern is the very clever little chains that go between the wearer’s fingers. They’re basically crochet chains, but formed with knitting needles during the bind-off process. They mean that you can shove your hands into your pockets, or into heavier mittens, without the palm of the glove rolling down and getting all wadded up. Gillian’s actual Christmas present was a cowl, but I somehow neglected to take any photos of it. I reminded myself several times to take pictures but not post them until after the presents were opened… I’m going to have to count on Gillian to snap some photos of it in action!

Meanwhile, this super-bulky fox hood is super-adorable, eh?

Alice's hood

A fox hood for friends’ little girl

It’s meant to be big and droopy, but that does mean it’s large enough to go on an adult head too:

Mr. Bee makes a great hat model, eh?

There was also a little selfish Christmas knitting: I made an ornament for our tree, and I’m awfully pleased with how it turned out. EARTH ORNAMENT The pattern is Pale Blue Dot by Denise Powell. It’s impeccably charted! It was published in the special Festive edition of A Needle Pulling Thread, so it’s only available for purchase as part of the whole magazine. I hope this particular pattern gets wider recognition in time, because it’s absolutely exquisite. (Knitting around a solid object’s not especially fun, but it’s so worth it in this case. Besides, you knit almost 3/4 of the globe before you have to insert the ball and knit around it.)

Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot ornament

There was Netflix and a comfy couch:

Unfortunately, for the last part of our holiday, there have been fevers, aches, and hacking coughs instead of festive carols and good cheer, but at least we were warm, safe, and  comfortable, and well-supplied with leftovers.

I hope Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) has been wonderful to you and yours this year!

A reminder: you have until Wednesday (New Year’s Day) to enter to win the giveaway for Green Gables Knits! I’m LOVING all the comments that are coming in, though I’ve refrained from commenting myself so as not to cause issues with the random number generator’s comment selection.

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Merry Christmas: For Kindred Spirits

Happy holidays, dear reader — whether you’re celebrating Christmas or just the fact that the days are getting longer at last, I wish you the very best. Personally, I am celebrating Christmas (albeit as a secular humanist/atheist/whatever term you prefer) in the way I love best: with family, food, wool, music, and warmth.

As a special Christmas treat, I am thrilled to announce a first for my blog: a giveaway draw! Read on for details…

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Reminder: Indie Design Gift-A-Long ends tomorrow!

I’m up to my eyeballs with non-knitting work at the moment, but I wanted to remind you that the fantastic Gift-A-Long sale that I posted about earlier ends tomorrow! Well, more specifically, the sale part ends; the KAL/CAL continues until the end of December. So what are you waiting for? Go check out the Ravelry group, pick up one (or a dozen) of the patterns you’ve been eyeing, and get stitching!

Banner-IndieDesign-3

Gift-A-Long Goodness!

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Indie Design Gift-a-long

The brilliant minds in the Designers group on Ravelry came up with a lovely idea to get us all in the gift-knitting spirit for the upcoming holidays. (Gasp, yes, I know, they’re coming altogether too quickly!)

They created (and I gladly joined) the Indie Design Gift-a-long!

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ColourRIOT Live! (Or, Speaking In Public With and Without My Sister)

The Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters’ Fair, hosted by my Knitters’ Guild, was a couple of weeks ago (September 14th). What a day it was! Read more about it — and then look for some exciting news at the bottom of this post!

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Humbled and thrilled

<Insert vague excuse about delay in blogging here>

Sorry I have been so lax with the blogging lately. I’m back, though, and I have lots to talk about!

First up, this, which rendered me speechless:

Sally Melville Award collage

They like me! They really like me!

My Knitters’ Guild did me the incredible honour of selecting me as the winner of the Sally Melville Award for 2012-2013. The award is named in honour of Sally Melville, who founded our Guild, and is awarded (by members’ nominations/votes) to “the knitter who has most inspired its members.”

Normally the prize is awarded at the May meeting, but since I was literally on a plane to England on the evening of that meeting, and since we don’t meet over the summer, the Guild waited until the September meeting to surprise me with this lovely, lovely announcement.

This is just such an incredible honour, to me. Past award recipients are pretty much a who’s-who of my local knitting heroes, people who have done Big Things with their knitting — whether that’s Karen, who opened the best danged LYS I know of, or Selina, who knitted and felted a mindblowing chess set of magnet-enhanced brain slugs. To be counted as one of their number feels like I’ve joined a very exclusive, very very exciting, club.

Sally Melville collage 2

I am so spoiled!

The prize, presented along with the award , was a yarn bowl full of lovely things — including my favourite locally-made stitch markers, a fun flip+tumble project bag, a knitting abacus bracelet, a Perl Grey shawl/sweater pin, and a squooooooshy ball of this Qiviuk blend yarn. (Totally have to find myself a pattern for a small but luxe accessory to make with that!)

One of the Executive members, who is a good friend, made the actual presentation. She started by talking about how “the recipient” had started with the Guild and fairly quickly began volunteering, and soon became heavily involved in the Executive. It was all rather vague and generic, until she talked about how she actually connected with “this person”. She started the local group on Ravelry, and put out the call for someone to help create a banner image for it. “This person” stepped up, and chose an image of an iconic local landmark, the shuttered windows of the barrel warehouses from the old Seagram distillery in uptown Waterloo. (Side note: the warehouses had many windows, with shutters, so that the workers could let in daylight when they needed to work inside — lighting an oil lamp in a building full of alcohol fumes would have been explosive!) This was unsettling to my friend, because she lives in a condo in one of those warehouses. Was “the recipient” stalking her? No, it turned out — “this person” actually works in another of these buildings and is therefore basically her next door neighbour! At this point, I knew exactly who she was talking about, of course, since I was the one who made that image. I am quite sure that I was turning Fifty Shades of Red while she was talking. I know I had to stop knitting because I was trembling.

The infamous banner I made

Apparently many of the Guild members, or at least, my circle of friends within the Guild, had known I’d been selected for the award since last spring, because they’d all been involved in trying to figure out what to do because of my trip to England. The two Executive members who I’d just had dinner with had also kept it secret, even when I asked point blank if they knew who the winner was this year. Super sneaky ninjas, the lot of them!

accessories rainbow

Accessorainbow!

The other very lovely and very flattering part of the evening was the opportunity to be on a panel with Lynne (also a previous Sally Melville Award winner!) and Alison, discussing accessories. Our Guild theme this year is “Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes… and we don’t mind Arms either!” — in other words, accessories. The three of us, along with Programming Coordinator Cheryl, got to just chat about why we knit and design accessories. Basically, this was the consensus:

  • They’re small and relatively quick to knit.
  • They don’t have to be fitted the way garments do, so they make great gifts.
  • We live in Canada and it gets cold here (duh).
  • They’re a great way to use single, precious skeins of special yarn.
  • They are a relatively low-risk way of trying a new technique — they’re literally the first projects where I did knits, purls,  increases and decreases, lace, cables, colourwork, beading, used my own handspun yarn, AND tried my hand at designing. (Uh, not all in the same project. And not always successful on the first try, either!)
  • They allow you to challenge yourself in ways that wouldn’t be practical over a larger project — my Chawton Mittens are 11.25 sts/inch, in colourwork, with added cables, and that’s just never going to be something I’m willing to do on a garment or a blanket, but for mittens? Sure, bring it on!

Overall, it was a really incredible evening, and I am so overwhelmed by the love I receive from this knitting community. Thank you, friends!

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