Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kaffe - The Knitalong

I've been knitting along with the Kaffe Fassett afghan in the past few weeks.  It started out as a mystery, but little by little, the mystery is being revealed.  The pattern is free but you have to register on the Rowan website to get it.

In the beginning we knew that there would be 63 squares and that each of the squares would be knitted 7 times.  We were given the 4 colorways for each of the 9 squares. We also learned that all of the 63 squares would be knitted using the same directions.  What we didn't know was the order of the 4 colors in each square.  We also didn't know how they'd be pieced together. We were told that there would be no fairisle or intarsia.

In week 5 (the current one), we were given a chart showing where the 63 blocks would be placed. What we still don't know is what clues 6 through 9 will look like.  Videos and tutorials can be found on You Tube, here, including a spoiler in the newest video, showing the finished afghan.  I haven't watched it yet and I'm not sure that I will.  Maybe.

There's been talk on the knitalong group on Ravelry about the placement of the squares:  some will follow the original, some will change them around.  Before I make a decision I'll want to see all the clues, but I am playing around with the squares we have now, and made a table so that I can do it digitally:

Following Kaffe's original design, here's what I see to clue #5:

Click to enlarge
Right now it looks like the brighter colors are collecting at the bottom with the darker ones at the top.  Perhaps they'll balance out more when new clues are released.  

If you want a copy of the blank table (it's interactive), along with the key and directions, message me on Ravelry with your email address.  I'll also send updates when new clues are released.  I've only created the template for the turquoise version, by the way.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Berlin Wall

It seems like all you hear is bad news when you turn on the TV these days.  However, 25 years ago today there was the happy news that the Berlin Wall was coming down.  I remember watching German news broadcasts and seeing the people chipping away at it.  I couldn't understand all the German words but there was no mistaking the joy on the faces of the people.  Finally, after so many years of heartache and death.

I have my own certified a piece of the wall, hanging on my wall.  It's a treasured piece of history.


Saturday, November 8, 2014


Nashville is a city that I never expected to visit.  When I went to the knitting retreat in October I flew into Nashville, so it seemed only natural to spend a couple of days exploring the city.
As much as I love almost all kinds of music, I don’t care at all for country and western, and that’s what I expected I hear all over the city.  I did hear a little from a couple of street musicians, but that was all.  While sightseeing I saw the Grand Ole Opry but didn’t go in. There is a very nice mall across the road that I did visit, going for a wonderful dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant, a favorite.

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I found that there is more to Nashville than just country music.  There is blues – not as much as in Memphis, but it’s there.  There is a B.B. King’s Restaurant.  

I liked the decorations – from the artwork on the walls ...

... to the painted tables honoring blues legends such as Robert Johnson.

I expanded my knowledge of US history.  I admit that all I knew of Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, was that he is on the $20 bill.  His home, The Hermitage, is outside Nashville and well-worth a visit.  It’s fascinating to see how people lived back in the early to mid-1800s and to hear about some of his policies and how he fit into the nation’s history, good and bad.  

If you’re ever in the area I can recommend a drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway.  The entire highway runs for 444 miles between Nachez, MS to near Nashville.  

It’s a pleasant escape from interstates and a historic link to the old South.  There are no billboards, gas stations, stores, houses….just miles and miles on a road running through the beautiful countryside with very little traffic.  It’s an excellent place for bicyclists. I'll bet it's breathtaking when the leaves start to change color.

What would a trip be without a visit to a yarn store?  I found two that I liked very much … 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Doobie Brothers in Red Deer

Last Tuesday I took a day off work and travelled north to Red Deer, Alberta to hear the Doobie Brothers and I wasn't disappointed.  Like the show in San Antonio last year, they rocked the building, playing all the songs that I wanted to hear.  They opened with Jesus Is Just Alright and performed my favorite, China Grove, for the encore.  The crowd of 3,000 loved it.

Click on picture to enlarge
The only parts I wasn't so fond of were the songs from their upcoming new album, Southbound, which is filled with country music.  As a non-fan of country music I was only interested in classic Doobie Brothers and new rock songs.  Fortunately there was plenty of what I wanted to hear.

One of my favorite songs of the concert was a blues number that I'd never heard the Doobies do before, Long Way Home by Sonny Boy Williamson.  I wish they would record it, and if they already have, I wish I could find a copy of it.  It was amazing.

After about 40+ years together they are very tight musically.  They sound like they do on their albums, only better.  There's nothing like live music!

At one point someone in the audience passed an album onstage, looking for an autograph.  Patrick Simmons looked at the album and stated that it was a album that they never got paid for.  There was laughter and then he signed it.  I wonder what he wrote!

I found a couple of videos on YouTube from the concert that are fairly good quality from Tuesday night in Red Deer.  I hope that the links remain up.  Here is Jesus Is Just Alright and Long Train Running.

Patrick Simmons (left) & John McFee
If the Doobies are playing anywhere close, I'll plan to be there.  To me, their music sounds as good today as it did years ago.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lest We Forget

It's still a couple of weeks until Remembrance Day / Veterans's Day, when we remember those who served and those who died in the wars.  Sadly, this year there will be one more to remember, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

He died from a gunshot to the back from a terrorist punk yesterday in Ottawa.  Cpl. Cirillo was stationed at the War Memorial, a human reminder of all the soldiers who had gone before him, a guardian of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

This incident was particularly unsettling to me.  I come from a family who served.  My parents and uncles were in uniform, proudly serving during World War II.

I know this area of Ottawa very well as I went to college just a few blocks away. I would go for a walk to the War Memorial and Parliament Hill when I lived there as they were both peaceful and beautiful places.  That was then.

I remember touring the Parliament Buildings during a school trip when I was in the 6th grade. It was big and impressive and open.  I'm sure that will change now.

So, when I'm thinking of the reason for Remembrance Day and Veteran's Day this year, I'll be thinking of the unknowns, the many who served.  I'll be thinking about my family.  And, I'll be thinking of Cpl. Cirillo - and of Kevin Vickers, the Sergeant-at-Arms in the Parliament Buildings who stopped the terrorist in his tracks.  Dead.  Mr. Vickers is a hero.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Last year I had to travel to San Antonio, TX to see the Doobie Brothers.  Okay, there were other things to see in San Antonio too, but the Doobies were a highlight.

This year, the Doobies Brothers are coming to me, almost.  Red Deer is about 89 miles/143 km from Calgary, so how could I pass up the chance to see them again?

It's worth taking a day off work to Listen To The Music!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tenntucky Retreat

I'm finally catching up after vacation, and it was a very good one.  I went to Kentucky and to Nashville, knitted, met lots of wonderful people, ate too much and relaxed.  It doesn't get much better than that.

For the first part of the trip I attended the Tennucky Fiber Arts Retreat at Lake Barkley State Resort Park west of Cadiz, Kentucky and near the border with Tennessee.  It was the first time for this retreat and it was expertly arranged by our hosts Joseph, Rachel and Ann. They thought of everything - the resort arrangements, meals, speakers, classes, swag bag, games and had continuous communications with us leading up to the event, and more - and as a result, we had a fun and totally relaxing weekend.

Check out this aerial view of the resort.  Isn't it beautiful?
(c) Lake Barkley State Resort Park
I loved my room which overlooked the water.  Talk about a room with a view!  The balcony was a peaceful place to sit and knit when you wanted a bit of "alone" time.  Otherwise, I was at the main building, knitting and chatting and making new friends.

Click to enlarge
The area reminds me of cottage country in Ontario. All that was missing was the sound of loons.  I wonder if they have loons in this area?

There were four classes being offered.  I have never enjoyed the technique of double knitting but I decided to give it another try.  The class, led by Hank (Henrietta) was very good and I did learn some new things, but I still don't care for double knitting.  I did like the way she taught us to do a two color cast on, however.

I had such a good time that I'm planning to return again next year.  I've already put in for the vacation days at work!

As with all enjoyable events, the time went by much too quickly.  After the retreat I went to Nashville for a few days - saw the sights, visited the Hermitage and two wonderful yarn shops.  More about that another time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blame Kaffe

Often times so many appealing patterns and/or yarns come along that I want to knit them all and there is just not enough time. I was contentedly working away at various projects including the challenging Jubilee Throw by Kaffe Fassett.  Then I learned that Rowan Yarns was sponsoring a new knitalong, a new, easier, afghan by Kaffe Fassett.  I'm a huge Kaffe and Rowan fan so I couldn't resist signing up. 

This afghan consists of 63 blocks, 9 blocks which are each knitted 7 times.  Kaffe is well known for his colorwork and this afghan uses 10 colors, 4 are used in each square.  Many are speculating, and I agree, that the pizzazz will come from the placement of the striped squares.  The patterns for the blocks are released one at a time, about 10 days apart.  The first was released on October 1st and, being on vacation, I've only done 2 of the squares.  I have a bit of catching up to do as the next clue is being released in two days, but I'm confident that I'll be able to catch up.


If another Fassett pattern comes along that I can't resist, and if I can't catch up......

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Two Down, Two To Go

Has it really been almost three months since I went to Denver?  I guess I'd better get going and post about the second border of my Travel Afghan.  There are two borders finished, two left to do.  I'll have a complete afghan before long.

This time I chose a yarn from Colorful Yarns in Centennial, Colorado.  I love this shop.  My friend, Tiffany, has filled the store, every inch of it, with a wonderful selection of yarns and books.  The range of yarn is amazing, from the yarns you know to those of indy dyers that are talented and worthy of support.  

Don't be fooled by the plain exterior of the building.  On the ground floor, on the left side of this picture is one of the best yarn stores you'll ever have the pleasure of visiting.  There is a LOT of stock in the store and if they don't have what you're looking for, Tiffany will likely order it for you.  Plan to spend a lot of time in the shop.  This building is beside the Streets at Southglenn Mall.

Two yarns called out to me for this project.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I try to choose something that reminds me of the trip...e.g. the name of the yarn or the color or the fact that I've never seen it before.  I chose Baah Yarn, sock yarn (La Jolla) in the color “Carmen, The Opera”.  This yarn was dyed exclusively for the shop and is named after the owner's Mother.  These are her favorite colors.  There was another colorway named for the owner, "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  The yarn is fingering/sock weight and I had to double it to get the right weight for my afghan.  I chose the Carmen yarn as I thought it would look good doubled, and it does!


Pattern:  Rambling Rows Afghan from Cottage Creations

Yarn:  Baah Yarns sock yarn, La Jolla
Color:  Carmen, The Opera
Fingering weight - held double
100% Superwash merino wool
400 yards (365 meters)/100 Grams

Needles:  US #7/4.5 mm