Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas On The Bayou


From a concert in 2013.  I'm glad he performed it again this year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

An Evening With Michael McDonald

The Michael McDonald concert at the Paramount Theater in Denver on Thursday was excellent and much more lively than I expected.


Somehow, I thought there would be mostly quiet Christmas songs with the bit of Doobie Brothers music thrown in.  Actually, that's exactly what it was, but more.  His choice of Christmas songs ranged from the traditional to rocking to get-up-and-dance Gospel music.

The Irish song "Wexford Carol" was hauntingly beautiful and my mind went back to my visit to County Wexford in Ireland.  I found this amateur video from a year ago on You Tube:  link.


He played the keyboards, as I expected, but there were songs where stood at the microphone and sang without playing an instrument.  He also played the guitar on other songs.  At one point he bent over and picked up an accordion saying "this is never good...especially when you're pants are falling down"!  I didn't expect to see an accordion but it was perfect for "Christmas on the Bayou".  I liked that song so well that I bought it.  He sang a romantic Christmas song for his wife who was in attendance - very nice.


I was glad to hear some favorite Doobie Brothers songs and the crowd was on their feet, singing along:  I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near), Minute By Minute, What A Fool Believes and, in the encore, Takin' It To The Streets.

All of his musicians were top notch.  For a few songs he had a choir singing behind him, a local group from the Denver area.  You can see a few of the members in the middle picture.  The female backup singer, Drea Rhenee was so good.  If I could sing, I'd like to be able to sing like her. On bass was Tommy Sims (left in the picture, above) who co-wrote the 1996 Eric Clapton hit Change The World.  The song won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal performance for Clapton.

It was a good way to spend an evening, especially so close to Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Michael McDonald

With his fabulous voice I can only imagine (until this evening) how good this concert is going to be.  I'm looking forward to the show.


                                                    Paramount Theater, Denver

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Avaholic Sweater

I'm a big fan of the Colorado Avalanche hockey team.  Years ago I had collected some team patches and that's when I decided to make a sweater in Av's colors and sew the patches onto it.

I made a neck opening and inserted a short zipper and then attached an inexpensive earring as a zipper pull. To tidy up the end of the zipper opening I sewed on a small logo patch. 

Some of the patches are from their 2001 Stanley Cup win, all-star game, NHL logo and one from their farm team (at the time), the Hershey Bears - and others. I have another one to add celebrating ten years in Colorado. I wish I could find one from the 1996 Stanley Cup win. 

Front:

I can't remember what yarn I used. I may still have my knitting notes somewhere.  I'll have to look for them. I think I used Jo Sharp yarns. The word "AVAHOLIC" was worked in fair isle, upside down and normal text. 

Back:


I probably made the sweater around 2005. Just a guess. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ready and Waiting

The Kaffe Fassett/Rowan knitalong is moving right along.  The time has gone by quickly for the first six clues .  Tomorrow clue #7 will be released and I'm all caught up and ready to cast on.


What you see are 42 squares for the afghan, all blocked and with ends sewn in, except for the beginning and ending lengths, which I plan to use to sew the squares together.  I also have the 12 blocks finished for the brown cushion.  The soda can is there for size comparison.

The stack is growing as fast as the piles of snow outside my window. 

And, speaking of snow, while I was waiting for the next clue I cast on for a little snowman.  I couldn't resist the cable design.  So cute.  Instead of using sportweight yarn in a natural color as in the pattern, I shopped my stash and I'm using Dale Baby Ull in white.  It'll be a smaller version of the original and that's what I'm going for.  Frost Flower is a free pattern from Cascade Yarns - link.


I've finished the bottom section and I'm about to start the middle.  So far the pattern has been excellently written.  The instructions are given round by round with final stitch counts included.  With the new afghan clue coming out tomorrow, I'm not sure if Frost Flower will be done in time for Christmas but that's okay.  It'll be done when it's done and there will likely still be snow on the ground here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tim's #WarmWishes

In Canada, Tim Horton's isn't just a coffee and donut shop, it's a way of life.  Say Tim's or Timmy's and everyone knows exactly what you're talking about.  I'm thrilled that there is one being built in my neighborhood.  It's always a busy place, but the service is fast.

This year they are making knitters happy with their new beverage cup.  Too bad there isn't a ceramic version.  I've only seen this paper cup.  Check it out:


Not only that, they have yarn-bombed their mobile coffee truck.  Here's the video:

video

Here's another video, shot on King Street West in downtown Toronto:

video

If the videos don't work on your device (they didn't work on my ipad but did work on my desktop), try this link.  You can see the yarn bombing on "B-roll Package" and on video on the street in Toronto if you choose "Other Video Resource" from the drop-down.

Here's the back story:

"Tim Hortons "yarn-bombs" its mobile coffee truck, the TimsRunner to celebrate the launch of Tim Hortons new #WarmWishes holiday cups and social media campaign encouraging Canadians to do good for others this holiday season.

The TimsRunner "sweater", created by Toronto-based, Lettuce Knit, required a team of 35 knitters, 450 skeins of yarn, and nearly 1,000 hours of knitting time. Once the yarn is removed from the TimsRunner it will be washed, felted and repurposed into over 30 blankets to be donated to Covenant House."


Click on the Lettuce Knit link (the November 20th post) to read about their participation in the project.

I probably sound like a commercial for Tim's. but that's fine with me.  They do a lot of good for communities.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Travel Afghan - Nashville Trip

In October I went to the Tenntucky Fiber Arts Retreat and extended the trip in order to spend some time in the Nashville area.  Of course, you can't just go and see the sights, like The Hermitage.  A knitter MUST also visit a yarn shop or two and pick up a souvenir, or two, or more.  From Bliss Yarns I found the yarn I needed for the third border of my Travel Afghan.


THE DETAILS

Pattern:  Rambling Rows Afghan from Cottage Creations

Yarn:  Rain's Obsessive Stitchery, Fred Sock
Color:  Nashville
Fingering weight - held double
75% Superwash Merino Wool
25% Nylon
100 grams ~463 yards

Needles:  US #7/4.5 mm

Note:  This is the third border side of the afghan.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Nashville Area Yarn Shops

It’s such a joy to walk into a yarn store in a new city and made to feel like you’re very welcome to be there.  Unlike so many other types of stores that are impersonal, yarn stores are like that for the most part.  Such was the case with Bliss Yarns in Brentwood, TN.  I liked the shop immediately.  It’s friendly, well-stocked and low-key.  Months earlier I had picked my hotel at random and was thrilled to find out that this shop was just a mile away.  What a coincidence.  Maybe it’s a knitter’s sixth sense.


I was first greeted by Tyna who explained to me how the store was organized and asked if she could help me find anything.  

I like the Tennessee-orange table.
I told her about my Travel Afghan and said that I was looking for something that would make me think of this trip to the area, a yarn souvenir.  She lead me to yarn from a local dyer Rain's Obsessive Stitchery, a yarn called Fred Sock in a colorway called “Nashville”.  I use yarns in the DK to worsted range for my afghan.  This one is fingering weight but I doubled it and it worked out fine.  It’s perfect and so pretty.  I love the many colors all working together.  


I met the owner, Deb, and had a very nice conversation with her.  Talking with the two of them was like talking to old friends, even though we’d just met.  It further cemented my theory that when you’re around knitters you’re never with strangers.  She generously gave me a knitting bag with the shop’s logo on it and I’m carrying my current project in it now.  Thank you, Deb!
Tyna, left and the owner, Deb on the right.
The second shop I visited was one that I’d been introduced to a few days earlier while at the Tenntucky Fiber ArtsRetreat.  I knew Haus of Yarn because their yarn bus came to the retreat as one of the vendors. 


When I was back in Nashville I had to check out the shop.  It is another excellent yarn store.  Nashville knitters are well-served with this two shops.


The yarn selection is large and I was mostly drawn to the yarns that I've never seen before.  It's always fun to find something new.


Some of the new-to-me yarns were just too tempting and I'm sure that they'll work with my Talavera Dreams afghanThey certainly aren't subtle but they'll add the pop of color that I want in the afghan.  I was proud of myself for only choosing these skeins as I could easily have bought many more. 

Left:  Jill Draper Makes Stuff - Esopus yarn, color: Habanero
Middle:  Jill Draper Makes Stuff - Esopus yarn, color:  Stretching Sunset
Right:  Mrs. Crosby Loves To Play - Satchel yarn, color:  Toucan
Judging by the two skeins on the left I was in an orangey frame of mind that day!  It's a color I've always been drawn to.  They are very large skeins, 500 yards in each, so I'll be using them for more than the afghan, but what to make?

There were so many temptations at both stores. I liked both shops very much and I’ll be back if I'm in the area again.  Hopefully that’ll be for the Tenntucky Fiber Arts retreat in October, 2015.  If there is a knit night at the shops I’d love to sit in.

Next time…. my Travel Afghan.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING...

...to all who are celebrating!

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.


PEACE.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nashville

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.

Click to enlarge
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 bootleg...an 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

Doobies

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!


THE DETAILS

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Music Monday - Going Down


L to R:  Joe Bonamassa, Billy Gibbons, Derek Trucks and Dusty Hill, on bass.  I don't know who is on drums or keyboards.  I would have loved to have been at this concert.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rowan & Martin Afghan - Completed

If you were to ask me if you can have too many afghans I would have to say no.  Besides the ones I've knit in the past I have three on the needles and one more about to begin:  Kaffe Fassett's Jubilee Throw will be a long project due to its complexity.  I'm in no hurry at all to finish.  I'm going to savor every block of this one.

The same goes with my Talavera Dreams afghan.  I love working on it and will enjoy every stitch of every hexagon.  My Travel Afghan, Ramble On, has been an ongoing project since 1999.  It's now down to the last two border sides and should be finished in March, 2015.  Such a memory project.

Next up was an afghan that I couldn't resist.  It's a Kaffe Fassett mystery knitalong and it starts on October 1st.  Kaffe Fassett projects are hard for me to resist.  I have my yarn and needles ready for the first clue to be published.

With so many afghans on the needles, I'm happy to report that I have another afghan OFF the needles.

Click to enlarge
THE DETAILS

Pattern:  Rowan Pure Wool Worsted / Martin Storey Mystery Knitalong
(Ravelry Link)

Yarn:  I decided to make the afghan using yarn from my stash.  There are 48 blocks plus the border - each in a different color.  The yarn is all fingering weight.

Needles:  US #3 / 3.25 mm


Notes:  Because I used fingering-weight yarn instead of the worsted called for in the pattern, my afghan is smaller than the original.  That's what I wanted.  It's a nice size for lap-afghan, or for the grandkids to curl up under when they come to visit.  It felt good to use stash yarn for the entire project.


By the way, the temperatures have gone up and the snow has melted here in Calgary.  Thank goodness!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Open Letter

Dear Mother Nature,

On looking at the calendar I see that the date is September 10th and that it is still SUMMER.  Autumn is still a couple of weeks away and it's more than 3 months until winter.  That is the natural order.  Now correct me if I'm wrong, but here is my thinking:

SUMMER - hot weather, outdoor barbecues, swimming, shorts and t-shirts, fans, too hot to knit an afghan, leaves on the trees, flowers

AUTUMN - cooler days, a little crispness to the air, leaves changing color and falling off the trees, knitting is more comfortable, jackets, the start of hockey season

WINTER - snow, cold, knitting warm afghans, furnace is running 24/7, warm sweaters and heavy coats, snow boots

So, please explain to me why, when the calendar says it's SUMMER do I see this?


and this.....


These pictures were taken on Monday.  It's now Wednesday, day 3, and there is more snow on the ground and, I might add, it's still SUMMER.  Or so the calendar says. 

The pictures were taken as I was stopped in traffic.  Traffic was moving very slowly because of the slippery streets.  That's not supposed to happen in SUMMER.

I might also add that my furnace is on, I'm wearing my snow boots and warm coat, I've got thoughts of Christmas shopping in my head for heaven's sake even though Thanksgiving, Hallowe'en,and Remembrance Day are still off in the future.  Regular season of hockey is still a month away.

So, Mother Nature, please admit that you've made a great error by bringing us the cold weather and dumping this snow on us and do the right thing.  Warm up the city with sun, melt the snow, bring us back to SUMMER..  I'll try not to hold it against you that my flowers are dead, mort, tot, muertos, done for the year.

Thank you,

Signed,

Disgruntled in Calgary